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Sulba Sutras & the Indic Approach to Engineering — 1

source: http://vigyanprasar.gov.in/digital-repository/posters/maths-indian-heritage/

How great is the science which revealed itself in the Sulba, and how meagre is my intellect! I have aspired to cross the unconquerable ocean in a mere raft". 
-Bibhutibhushan Datta, Science of the Sulbas.

Summary

In this short introductory post, we share the motivation behind the study of Ganita in ancient Indian works such as Vedanga Jyotisha and Sulba Sutras, before delving deeper into the geometrical science of the Sulbas in Part-2. This self-study gives us a rough understanding of traditional Indic Engineering and its methods. We further develop these ideas in the third and final part and apply it toward solving challenging contemporary problems.

Introduction

The Sulbasutras are comprehensive reference manuals to plan, align, measure, compute, layout, and construct structurally stable Vedic Altars required for the proper performance of Yagnas. The Sulbas belong to the Srauta Sutra section of the Kalpasutras, which are one of the six Vedangas attached to the Vedas.  The Sulbas provides the required spatial and directional parameters for constructing the altars while the time-keeping calculations in the Vedanga Jyotisha decide the temporal parameters of the Yagna. The position vector coordinates consisting of orientation, location, and time (dik-desa-kaala) can be decided using these texts.

Sulba primarily means measurement [1], which is done using the measuring cord called the Rajju, although sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. An early Hindu term mentioned in the Sulba Sutras is Sulba Vijnana, roughly the ‘science of the Sulba’, measurement science, or the geometrical sciences [1], which also became known later as kshetraganita [2]. Part-2 has a more complete discussion of these terms.

Seven Sulba Sutras are available today, and the three earliest Sulbas are listed below (earlier first), noting that the dating of the early Sulba to 800 BCE is tentative and only provides the latest date when the Sulbas were compiled. The organization of these three Sulbas are given below [1].

Baudhayana Sulba Sutra

This is considered the world’s earliest systematic treatise on Geometrical Sciences, but like the Vedanga Jyotisha, contains pre-existing ideas from more ancient Vedic works that date back to the 2nd-3rd millennium or earlier. Interestingly, the pythagorean theorem is first stated by Baudhayana.

The Sulba content also serves as the oldest known reference text for Engineering.

Chapter 1: 116 sutras
Topics: measures, geometrical rules of altar construction, relative positions and magnitudes of the various Vedis.

Chapter 2:  86 sutras
Topics: spatial relations in the constructions of the agnis (Vedic fire altars),
and the construction of the two simplest agnis, i.e., Garhapatya and Chandas (Veda mantras replace bricks).

Chapter 3: 323 sutras
Topics: Seventeen different kamyagnis, which involve complex and highly specific constructions.

Apastamba Sulba Sutra

6 sections, 21 chapters and 223 sutras in total.

This work also discusses the methods of construction.

Katyayana Sulba Sutra

7 sections, 90 sutras. 48 verses.
The content is partly in sutra form and part verse. Additional topics include attributes of Sulba expertise, and the rules of ethical conduct for those involved in altar construction.

The other available Sulba works include those of Maanava, Maitraayana, Vaaraaha, and Vaadula.

Available commentaries on the three Sulbas (likely date: post Aryabhata)
BS: Dvarakanatha Yajva, Venkateshvara Dikshata
AS: Kapardiswami (before 1150 CE), Karavindaswami, Sundararaja (prior to 1600), Gopala
KS: Rama Bajapeya (1449 CE) who made new contributions and improved the accuracy of √2 up to 7 decimal places, and Mahidhara (1589 CE, Banaras, based on Rama’s work).

Why Study the Sulbas?

The Sulbasutras have been popular as a mathematical research area since the 19th century CE. There exist several works by acclaimed scholars that summarize the mathematical content and astronomical connections of the Sulba texts through books and video lectures, and can be found within the reference section at the end of the post.  Here, we study the Sulba content to try and delineate an Indic approach to Engineering and where it differs from the western method.

Our primary references for this effort are the seminal 1932 work of Bibhutibhushan Datta on the Sulbas [1], the 1979 book of ancient Indian Geometry by Saraswati Amma [2], the 1997 publication of Kapila Vatsyayan’s work on Indic Art [3], and several other textual and non-textual resources. Bibhutibhushan Datta (who later became Swami Vidyaranya) and Saraswati Amma were Sanskrit scholars in addition to their mathematical expertise. Barring exceptions, scholarly works adopt a reductionist ‘secular mathematical’ view of the Sulbas, ignoring its Vedic basis as simply irrelevant, or dismissing it as pre-rational mystic rituals.

Questions

  • What is the wrong with adopting such a Euro-centric approach? Why move toward an Indic perspective?
  • What is the practical benefit of studying the content of such ancient Hindu texts?

The responses to these questions given by learned Indian scholars inspired us to ask similar questions of our own professional domain:

  • Is there such a thing as a traditional Indic approach to Engineering? If so, what are the principles of this Indic Engineering Practice? How is it even relevant today?

We turn to Dharampal for answers.

Bharatiya Chitta and Kaala

In his writings [11], Dharampal explains the value and need for studying ancient Indian texts from an Indic perspective: “One understands others only from one’s own perspective. Attempts to live and think like the others, to transport oneself into the Chitta and Kaala of others, lead merely to delusion… In fact, the process of understanding the Indian Chitta and Kaala cannot possibly begin without some understanding of the vast corpus of literature that has formed the basis of Indian civilisation and regulated the actions and thoughts of the people of India for millennia

...If we wish to affirm the validity of Indian consciousness, of Indian Chitta and Kaala, we can do so only by establishing the Indian way of life in the present-day world. And, this re-assertion of India in the present context is the major task today which Indian scholarship, Indian politics, Indian sciences and technologies, Indian arts, crafts and other diverse skills must accomplish. 

Dharampal emphasizes the time-criticality and practical requirements of this task.

what is urgently needed is not high scholarship, but a rough and ready comprehension of ourselves and the world. We need a direction, a vision, a conceptual basis, that is in consonance with the Indian Chitta and Kala, and through which we can proceed to understand the modern world and the modern times

Keeping this challenging goal in mind, we have studied the technical aspects of the Sulba Sutras not in isolation, but relative to and serving its primary objective.

Preliminaries

The overarching objective of the Sulba Sutras is to establish the proper construction of Vedic altars in order to ensure the correct performance of Yagna, which unites mankind to the devatas [4]. The keywords listed below give us a limited but useful idea of the Sanskrit non-translatables employed in this context of Yagna.

Agni: Fire altar constructed using layers of bricks of different types and dimensions.

Citi: A layer of Agni

Vedi: The raised area where the Yagna is performed, including the agni and where the participants are seated.

Yagna sala layout. Source: Square and Circle of Arts (1997)

Syena (Falcon-shaped) fire altar. [3].
It is known that these profound Sanskrit terms associated with Yagna have multiple meanings relating to transformation, consciousness, and knowledge. Hence, Agni is not simply fire, Citi is not merely a brick layer, and Vedi is not only a raised platform. The Sulba Sutra is not just a collection of results from geometrical science, and Yagna is not the same as sacrifice in the western sense [4]. The writings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who popularized transcendental meditation, point to the deeper role of the Sulba Sutras that includes a description of consciousness itself [12]. Therefore, to better understand the Sulbas, we have to study the transformative power of Yagna.

Indic Engineering Practice as Yagna

Integral Versus Fragmented Knowledge

The Vedic Cosmology is embedded in every aspect of the altar constructions. Every grain of sand, brick, citi, and the altars of various shapes correspond to some aspect of the cosmos. These correspondences or Bandhus bind the universe in an integral unity. Rajiv Malhotra coined this term in his book ‘Being Different [4]: “The integral unity of the whole manifests itself in the parts, and they in turn aspire to unite with the whole; this principle is reflected in every domain of dharmic knowledge, including philosophy, science, religion, ethics, spirituality, art, music, dance, education, literature, oral narratives, politics, marriage rituals, economics, and social structures. Each domain of dharmic knowledge is itself a jewel in Indra’s Net, and reflects all the others. In other words, the same underlying principles are represented in these specialties in different ways.”.

Prof. Subhash Kak in his path-breaking work [5] states that the agnicayana altars symbolize the universe; the five layers of the Ahavaniya represent the earth, space, and sky through the first, third, and fifth layer, with the intermediate layers linking these elements. He asserts that knowledge is gained through altar construction. The knowledge obtained through Yagna is integral and not fragmented since the traditional Indic approach is not to “disentangle and differentiate conceptually different entities & notions, but to realize their connections (bandhus) [5]”.

For example, the circadian biological cycle is synced with earth’s rotational cycle through Ritam (from the Rig Veda, nature’s ordering principle [4]). The press release for the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology starts with “Life on Earth is adapted to the rotation of our planet“, and concludes with “indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner timekeeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases.“.  The deficiency in the inherently fragmented western approach is apparent in this ‘new’ finding based on inner and outer correspondences.  In contrast, in ‘Being Different‘, Rajiv Malhotra gives examples of Ayurveda’s integral unity. Ayurveda, an Upaveda of the Vedas emphasizes the importance of adopting the right, sustainable lifestyle for an individual.

Science rooted in a vedic framework can lead to sustainable solutions to many such important problems. The Indic engineering system designed and built to work in harmony with Ritam will benefit both man and environment, while also serving a higher, transcendental objective. The traditional Indic practitioner would not look at his/her field in isolation but could draw inspiration, ideas and methods from seemingly unrelated disciplines, which in reality are interlinked knowledge systems that are integrally united [4].

Lacking this deeper dharmic unity,  western attempts to unify separate fields of knowledge is evident in new-age ideas such as ‘combinatorial creativity‘, and the ‘generalized specialist’. Professional certifying examinations in the west tend to reward practitioners having a T-shaped skillset in the workplace and reduce the proportion of ‘one legged men in ass-kicking contests‘. Despite such efforts, the splintered view of knowledge, which tends to be profitable in the short-term, is not only dominant but gaining ground in western higher education, culminating in ‘fragmentversities‘.

Certitude and Uncertainty

Indic scholars have presented many more examples of such Bandhus in the altar construction: Kapila Vatsyayan [3] mentions that in certain constructions, there are 108,000 lokamprna bricks corresponding to the number of muhurtas in a basic 360-day Vedic year. There are 396 yajumati bricks in some constructions which corresponds to the 360 days + 36 intercalary days of a Vedic calendar. Similarly, certain Kamyagnis have a surface area of 108,000 (sq.) Angulas [5].

In the Chandasciti, Vedic mantras are considered equivalent to and replace the consecrated bricks, where the construction is no longer physical, but at the level of consciousness [12]. An altar of mantras is a representation of the Rig Veda. Correspondences are established using Ganita Sastra and Sulba Vijnana, resulting in accurate calculations and precise measurements. However, such decisive alignments and careful stacking of bricks do not signify a quest for an unnaturally perfect order. The altar construction reflects nature’s geometry that balances smoothness (certitude) and roughness (uncertainty).

The role of uncertainty is recognized and incorporated into the altar through the sprinkling of sand and interspersing the orderly chant of Vedic mantra with inarticulate sounds. Yagna combines order and chaos [4].  The amicable sharing of sacred space by doubt and surety suggests an early Indic grasp of the fallibility of the scientific claim, and the unavoidable imprecision in calculation and measurement. We can see the tangible value of this ‘bandhutva’ with uncertainty in the results of the Sulba sutras in part-2. On the other hand, without uncertainty, there can be no useful science. Engineering in the Sulbas also views uncertainty as an opportunity to innovate. This will be covered in part-3.

This 'concession' to fallibility is not a weakness, but a contributor to Bharata's dynamism and civilizational continuity through its demonstrated ability to continually reform and transform from within and be reborn. This is Bharata's own Natyam through the ages; a Yagna performed on India's sacred geography, its altar constructed on a cosmic level using bricks from Bharatiya Chitta and Kaala. Every Bharatiya who participates in this Yagna is transformed, thereby transforming the national consciousness.

Sulba Vijnana: From Art to Engineering

Toward obtaining a more comprehensive view of the Sulba science, we learn from the art perspective of the Sulbas and Yagna presented by renowned art scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, and is summarized below. If Yagna is a basis for Indian art, architecture, and sciences, then the vijnana of the Sulbas will be reflected in all these fields, and the engineer will be able to learn a lot from such art.

  1. Elements of Geometry and Algebra emerge from the Bandhus, the system of correspondences established during the Yagna

The Indian way of viewing nature, and their inclination to look for Bandhus [4] is nicely captured by Vatsyayan ji when she states that “anything that is visible can have layers of meaning, and also has validity for itself… the visible is not just visible but is the very aid to the invisible.” During the Yagna, a link is created between finite and infinite, between the precisely measured that are defined by name and form (namarupa) and that beyond definition and the formless (pararupa and arupa).

Bandhus in the form of geometrical metaphors can be identified here. Fundamental geometric entities starting from a single ‘dimensionless’ point (Bindu), the one-dimensional line that emerges from a moving point, the two-dimensional figures such as triangle, square, and circle that emerge from moving lines, etc. are all symbols having multiple meanings.  Sophisticated principles from the Vedas and Upanishads are contained within the circle and its geometrical properties [3]. Bindu also denotes a center or origin, and all notions of time and space are comprehended through itAnother Bandhu described by Vatsyayan ji is in the form of the botanical metaphor of the seed or Bija [3], which motivates Bija Ganita (algebra), the earliest notions of which are to be found in the geometrical methods of the Sulba Sutras.

Every math student in the world is replicating the first step of Vedic Yagna when they draw the perpendicular X-Y axes on graph paper, intersecting at the origin with the X-Y axis arrowhead pointing eastward. Vedic Altar construction begins by identifying the east-pointing E-W line (Praci) using the instrument Sanku [14]. The basic geometrical construction of the Sulbas is the perpendicular bisector, yielding the north-south line.

2. The geometrical and algebraic ideas that emerge from the Sulbas are transferred to the sacred Indian artforms.

Vatsyayan ji traces the methodology (viniyoga) of human movement evolved in Indian arts to its interconnections with the vidhi of the yagna. She notes the importance of trigonometry and geometry to science as well as art, and states that the system of solving linear equations by moving from one known to many unknowns represents both a mathematical and artistic understanding.  This algebraic layer “gives the Indian arts the capacity to concretise the notions of the one and the many as also abstract and concrete, the measurable and beyond measure finite and infinite” [3]. Thus, Indic art reflects the findings of the Sulba Sutras. Kapila Vatsyayan remarks that a careful study of the Sulba Sutras can tell us exactly how those Sulba principles were transferred into the artistic domain.

In her award-winning research paper at the third Swadeshi Indology conference (Chennai 2017), danseuse and aerospace engineer Prakruti Prativadi has discussed Bharatanatyam as Yagna. She has reviewed the necessary conditions for a recital to qualify as a Bharatanatyam performance. When the sacred artistic recital is of high caliber and the audience too is receptive to the performance, the performer and the audience unite as participants in a Yagna [8]. 

"The purpose of Bharatanatyam is not only to produce an aesthetic effect but to transform the consciousness of the onlooker to experience the Paramatma through Rasa." [10]. The participants are thus reborn.

Ganita’s place value systems and Sanskrit itself are algebraic in nature [4]. In the decimal place value system, the value of a digit such as ‘1’ is variable and can be any integral power of 10 (1, 10, 10², 10³, …) and is fixed only when its place is specified. Similarly, a Sanskrit word or verse can have a whole range of meanings. The Sanskrit Pandit can narrow down the appropriate meaning depending on the context of usage [4]. A misunderstanding here can produce silly interpretations (e.g. “Beef in the Vedas“).

Professor Amartya Kumar Dutta at the Indian Statistical Institute in his excellent survey of ancient Ganita prior to the common era [13], quotes Swami Vivekananda on the decimal system. This quote by Swamiji highlights the integral unity of Ganita and Sanskrit: “… the ten numerals, the very cornerstone of all present civilization, were discovered in India, and are, in reality, Sanskrit words.”. Where does Sanskrit end and Ganita begin, and where does Ganita end and Sanskrit begin!

3. Engineering as an integral discipline emerges from Sulba Vijnana (with Ganita from Vedanga Jyotisha as pre-requisite).

From the artistic domain of Bharatanatyam, the connection can be made to Silpa Sastra and sacred architecture and sculpture: Vatsyayan ji quotes the renowned danseuse Balasaraswati who explains how a Bharatanatyam recital is structured like a great temple [3] affirming that both Indic art and sacred architecture are based on a system of correspondence established through Vedic yagna.  Sulba Vijnana is used in the construction of Hindu Mandirs. The calculating expertise comes from Ganita, the science of computation. The Sulba Sutras along with Vedanga Jyotisha form the basis of Engineering as an integral discipline.  Indian history is full of amazing feats of engineering that stand out for the harmony of construction with nature.

Reclaiming the Sacred Space

The present rupture [7] in India’s epistemological continuity has resulted in a significant number of Indian elites transporting themselves to live in the socially profitable Chitta and Kaala of the West [11]. The situation is direMany of us have lost the depth of insight available to our ancestors by limiting ourselves to living with this reductive, fragmented mindset. The Indic practitioner’s effortless and refined improvisation in-context while remaining anchored in the Raaga and Taala of Bharatiya Chitta and Kaala is achieved through Shraddha and Saadhana. Without this anchor, there is an overemphasis on text and theory over embodied knowing [4], with contextual ethics [4] giving way to moral relativism. The net result is a rootless, jarring remix of uninspiring engineering and myopic profiteering.

There are multiple paths to recovery, and we discuss one such path. As Dharampal pointed out [11], rather than weep over the lakhs of manuscripts that are lost to us, we can learn from what is already available. The several Sulba works, Jyotisha redactions, and the Natyasastra text, and the various commentaries, and dozens of books on these topics are all available online. By incorporating these Indic methods into our professional practice and daily life, we can slowly relocate our westernized selves back into India’s Chitta and Kaala.

A long and circuitous journey has to be undertaken by the hard-working Karthikeyas in order to return home to Shiva and obtain the Jnana-phala. Blessed are those Vinayakas who are already in the right space and time!

Understanding the principles of Indic art and dramaturgy can give engineering students a more rounded view of their discipline. Like a genuine Bharatanatyam performance, the sculpting of Devi’s Murthi, or constructing a Kovil/Mandir, Indic Engineering takes up a project as a sacred task that transforms the consciousness of the participants and end users, yielding sustainable, dharmic development. This goal can be achieved if the project is in harmony with Rtaaccepting only shubh labh (as opposed to unbridled profit), with all the stakeholders functioning as an integrally united team based on the dharma of collaboration.

There is no I or U in team, but there must be IU.

The construction of Rama Sethu in the Ramayana forever serves as the ideal to emulate. Even the tiny squirrel that contributed its expertise to the Sethu was transformed by Sri Rama’s divine touch.

References:

(Partial list only. Full list will be shared along with Part-3).

  1. Bibhutibhushan Datta (Swami Vidyaranya). The Science Of The Sulba: A Study In Early Hindu Geometry. University of Calcutta. 1932.
  2. Saraswati Amma. Geometry in Ancient and Medieval India. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 1979.
  3. Kapila Vatsyayan. The Square and the Circle of the Indian Arts. Abhinav Publications. 1997.
  4. Rajiv Malhotra. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Harper Collins. 2011.
  5. Subhash Kak. The Astronomical Code of the Ṛgveda (Third Edition). 2011.
  6. Rajiv Malhotra. Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Harper Collins. 2014.
  7. Kosla Vepa. The Origins of Astronomy, The Calendar, and Time (Second Edition). 2010.
  8. Prakruti Prativadi. Rasas in Bharatanatyam: First in a Series on Indian Aesthetics and Bharatanatyam. Creative Space. 2017.
  9. N.R.I Pathi. Dharmic Development. Andhra Cultural Portal. 2014.
  10. Prakruti Prativadi. The Bharatanāṭyaṃ Yajña. Swadeshi Indology-3 Information Handout. 2017.
  11. Dharampal. Collected Writings in 5 Volumes. Other India Press. 2000.
  12. John Price. Applied Geometry of the Sulba Sutras. Department of Mathematics, Maharishi University of Management, Iowa. 2000.
  13. Amartya Kumar Dutta. Was There Sophisticated Mathematics During Vedic Age? in ‘An anthology of disparate thoughts at a popular level‘. ISIREA, Kolkata, 2016.
  14. K. Ramasubramanian. The Origin and Growth of Mathematics in India. R C Gupta Award Lecture, IIT Bombay. 2010.
Acknowledgments:
Thanks to the ICP editor for his valuable suggestions and patiently reviewing this work.

The Modern “Hindu” is a Charvaka

Prior to this Post, we published The Descent of Man — Stages of Charvaka-ism. It explored how men & women of whatever caste and whatever background can descend from Daiva Bhakti to Asura Bhaava.

Those of you long time readers may recall our previous piece: The “Modern” Hindu is a Spoiled Brat. We concluded by stating that the degree of his selfishness was greater than others, and that this was due to mummy-approved egos. While there is truth to that, the reality is in fact even deeper. There are plenty of mama’s boys the world over. What makes ours so particularly unctuous is their embrace of “mujhe kya mila” ultimately rooted in Rnam krtva, ghrtam pibet

The Charvakas, sad to say, in fact won…likely a long time ago. As hard as it is to believe it, as much as “official” history belies it, the reality is the Charvaka philosophy is not only returning, but has in fact become the moola-mantra for the Modern Hindu of all castes: Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet.

The Charvakas are often conflated with the School of Lokayata, associated with Acharya Chanakya, and ultimately originating with Brihaspati, but they are in fact a different branch. Neither Chanakya nor Brihaspathi are nastikas—that is, both upheld the authority of the Vedas and also believed in the Supreme Being, however ruthless their politics may be. Brihaspathi is the preceptor of the devas, after all.

But Charvakas are something quite different, and quite a bit more insidious. The term itself means “sweet speech”, as they aim to deconstruct by the means of sweet voiced nothings that reduce societies to nothing. Rajiv Malhotra famously wrote on Charvakas 2.0, and the Return of the Charvakas. But the truth is, they never really left. After all, what better way to quietly assert your influence than to convince the world you don’t exist.

“There is no outside-text”

Textualists say “look at the text”—as if there is nothing above it. Do you know who else says that?—Cultural Marxists. Traditional Acharyas always emphasise sadhana & shraddha (along with study) to intuitively gain the true meaning.

Interestingly enough, there has long been an association and mutual fascination between the charvaka & the marxist. Derrida famously wrote “il n’y a pas de hors-texte“. Though some quibble that this means “there is no outside text“, the net effect remains “there is nothing beyond the text“. As such, each is free, whether materialist or spiritualist, traditional pandit or atheist scientist, to impute his or her meaning into the text itself. Original canonical interpretation is not what matters, but strategic interpretation to produce atrocity literature or social misfiture.

This is the problem with textualist twits. These murkhapanditas say “look at the text”, not realising Rishis purposefully recorded key texts in metaphor so idiots who misuse power/authority don’t get mantraphala (fruit of mantra).

Furthermore, many original manuscripts have been tampered with. So there is no point in saying “this is so-and-so’s own commentary!”, because the original words may have been changed to suit another agenda. That is why tapasya, shraddha, sadhana, all matter.

The problem is, the so called “Hindu RW” is filled with Charvakas—who say, “there is nothing beyond the text”. Egotists align exactly with Derrida who wrote exactly that. But along with text of Dharma is the Spirit. Letter can get corrupted, not Spirit.

For some, corruption of letter can result in financial remuneration. And then? Rnam krtva, ghrtam pibet.

You may assert, “Well, the average Hindu is known for his wise management of family money”—yes, of family money. He isn’t so stupid as to (as a general rule) get his family into debt so that he can drink ghee. No, he sells off the state or national interest instead! After all, “mujhe kya mila?”

Somebody is doing something useful? Should we promote? No, “mujhe kya mila?”. But if I promote foreign Acharyas, I will be seen as part of the popular “in crowd”. Popularity, you see, is also a form of ghee-shakkar. American high schools of the 90s may have become the embodiment of popularity contests, but Indian social media is no stranger—willing to barter even the national interest in the process.

It is true that around the world “normie twitter” is pretty much the same—disconnected from reality and focused on trivial things like food, celebrities, sports, etc. But the key difference is between Internet Hindu Twitter and the rest of the world. Internet Hindu twitter is very much a product of high school popularity contests. Short term gains rather than long term interests.

Even rhetoric too.

He is the ruthlessly unsentimental sentimentalist. His high minded values that are publicly professed allow him to be a low level charvaka unsentimentally focused on Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet.

Why else is “infotainment” so popular? Not enough to get information—nooo!—you must be entertained while you get it. “Amuse me”.

Bandhutva

I have purposefully used the term bandhutva rather than the usual point on casteism because in reality, casteism is just a specific form of bandhutva. For others it is language or region or frat house camaraderie, or some cases all three. This matters because it is demonstrative of the fact that it is not some sacred sense of duty that binds all these people together (sellouts happily sell off dharma to pay of rna). No, it is because any form of bandhutva rather than being the organic group they emanate from  is in fact an extension of their own self.

It’s why an idiot movie like Dangal can become popular not just in India but China, because the modern people of these  countries think there is something noble in a tyrannical father forcing his daughters into wrestling so he can be vicariously victorious through them. Children are but extensions of the parent’s self, rather than a true bandhu bound by blood and  reciprocal duties. Rather than loving the child for her own sake, it’s loving the child as the extension of one’s own self. That’s why parents often get hyper-competitive in making their kids compete with others.”Sharma ji ka beta…”.So naturally, those who are “not the self” become rivals in an ever-worsening zero-sum game for solipsism.

Casteism is merely another group extension of the self. It’s also why certain castes are famous for having vicious fights within, despite unity when collective interests are threatened. Jackals too, behave the same way. Mafias too operate that way. Varying degrees of this misconception of the self result in self-centeredness and eventually, the worst variety of selfishness known to mankind. Others may say more horrible crimes are committed by other communities—and this is true. But this is not out of selfishness—it is out of a topsy turvy sense of morality. Within a given conception of morality, the Hindu has become the most selfish.

Opportunist to the extreme, he is the ultimate fence-sitter. “Which side is winning?”—I will join that side. “Who cares if something is useful, I don’t have time to help build something someone else is doing. Give me something ready made, with a good ROI, and then I will join”—because, mujhe kya mila?

Prefer cozy digital salons to active useful action cause, Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

Outrage and bluster instead of concerted societal action cause, Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

Pay lip service to high minded ideals but in your private life, Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

Naxalism or Nationalism,why care,as long as its casteism cause,Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

Whine about conversion but utilise Catholic indulgences cause, Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

Give legitimacy to criminal families for selfserving politics cause,Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet

No wonder “Rna creates Dharma” for a set of charvakas masquerading as brahmanas. Their own policy is in fact, Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet.

It’s why they can mistranslate madhuparka as beef

It’s why they can mistranslate sringara as sensuality/eroticism

It’s why they can falsely assert alternative lifestyles are not prohibited by Dharmasastra

It’s why they can malevolently attack Rajiv Malhotra in favour of Phil Goldberg

It’s why they can misguide the Hindu population on behalf of Sheldon Pollock & Co.

Rnam krtva, ghrtam pibet.

Secularists themselves have admitted as much for their philosophy. But what about so called “RW”ers. Nationalism being—temporarily—oh so popular these days. Let’s leave aside the normie twitter crowd. Why is internet hindu twitter so vacuous. Yes I mean you, quietly reading this article while publicly pretending not to (we see the link clicks).

It’s not that you don’t see what’s going on. It’s cause you prefer to do what’s popular, rather than what is principled. It’s understandable if you don’t have critical thinking skills—the education system (especially in India) was designed to deny you that. It’s understandable if you don’t have courage of conviction, after all 70 years of “pata hai mera baap kaun?”.

Others of course love to point to British Colonialism or Turkic Invasion, and there is some truth to that.  It is understandable if there is a sense of survival instincts, but for treachery to become a way of life long after at least nominal independence smacks of something deeper. If treachery is seen as mere transactionalism, and transactionalism the national policy, then it can only mean one thing: Rnam krtva, ghrtam pibet.

Even most ladies aren’t innocent. We’ve generally been understanding of the woman’s  predicament with the modern male—but the modern female is not much better. For all her high-minded talk of Romance, she doesn’t actually want real romance, but the possession of it for showcase. “See, I too HAVE someone who loves me that much. I too POSSESS such a Love”. It’s romance as consumption.

As Bhavabhuti showed, real Romance is selfless—not selfish. It’s not “I did this for you, so you do this for me”—that is the very  embodiment of transactionalism. It is also emblematic of how rather  than elevating men to the intuitively spiritual level of women, modern women have descended to the selfishly material level of men.

And people accept it, not because of conditioning (though there is some of that), not because of misquotation (though there is some of that), and not cause of peer pressure (though there is some of that)—they accept it because they want to.

In all fairness, who doesn’t want to enjoy? Everyone has some sense of wanting to enjoy either their youth or their family life or their retirement—etc. But the question is how much and at what cost?

“If you sell out your conscience, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell out your self-respect, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell out your principles, then you can enjoy!“.

“If you sell out your religion, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell out your country, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell out your state, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell out your family, then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell your soul… then you can enjoy!“

“If you sell your mind…. then you can enjoy!“.

When is the cost too much?!!! That is the question not only Hindus or Indians, but all people of the world must ask. That is the moral of the story in the Ramayana—no cost is too high to bear…not for enjoyment…but for principles…for upholding one’s Dharma. Life treated both Sita and Rama unjustly. No average human should be asked to pay the cost they paid. You saw in the Uttararamacharita just the level of the love between them. And yet, Dharma had to come first. You rank cowards can’t even avoid selling off your own minds, your own free will to think as independent human beings worthy of respect—because you have no self-respect.

Groveling has not only become your way of life, or even a legal argument in courts, but even your religion!

Don’t blame Dharma—madde snanam is justified nowhere, and Sambha’s 1 off case involved rishis not saamaanya brahmanas (traditional or otherwise).

Self is not material. The self is spiritual—consciousness incarnate. And this why ultimately the Charvakas not only have returned, but in fact won long time back and are now running the show. They can sell off to colonial (or neo-colonial) invaders, not only cause “rnam krtva, ghrtam pibet”—but because they believe in the material self rather than the spiritual self.

That is why bandhutva matters to them—because (material) blood is thicker than spirit. Because rather than various levels of community-hood united in spirit, it is a brotherhood of self-proclaimed “eugenically” enhanced thievery—because Rnam krtva, Ghrtam pibet.

It is material self-hood, the ultimate egotism that has replaced the spiritual self-hood. One believes the self is only the physical body (with nothing much beyond), and the other believes the self to be the jeevatman—and emanation of the Ultimate self, Paramatman. It is the difference between the Asuric and the Daivic. One need not be an Asura worshipper—one need only believe ‘this is it, nothing more”’

Bhagavad Gita 2:42-43

yam imam puspitam vacam
pravadanty avipascitah
veda-vada-ratah partha
nanyad astiti vadinah
kamatmanah svarga-para
janma-karma-phala-pradam
kriya-visesa-bahulam
bhogaisvarya-gatim prati ||

Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.

Charvakas come in different varieties. It all depends on the degree to which their sense of self-hood extends or to what extent they define their blood-based bandhutva. For some it is just themselves, for others just family, for others caste, and for others region. None of this is to say that any sense of bandhutva is wrong—only that it explains their behaviours. It’s why some self-proclaimed nationalists can still in fact be rabid casteists and also charvakas promoting beef in Vedas. It is “our empire after all”. And they can also whine about AIT’s effect on their state’s own sect while subtly promoting a bloviating blogger who promotes it —why?—”cause he is our own man“. Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet.

And if that doesn’t pay off—well then, one can still partner with the foreign charvakas to keep the chote log down. Treachery after all, is but mere transactionalism to them. Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet.

It’s why charvakas frequently masquerade as “by birth” brahmanas, embarrassing fellow brahmins with their pompous propaganda. Recognising that brahmanas and women were protected classes in ancient India, they cynically seek the protection of the very Dharma they are slowly destroying like termites.

But whether it was Charvaka or Ravana or even a woman like Tadaka, all those who aim to destroy Dharma will ultimately be destroyed by it. 

It’s also why this spiritual samgraam can’t be about caste vs caste,but Dharma vs Adharma.

There are those who will argue, “Well, aren’t Asuras spiritual beings rather than material?”. Well, the truth is more complicated. There are the pure “rationalist”/”empiricist” materialists of western or westernised nature who believe “disembodied beings” are balderdash. But then there are the ancient Indic materialists who emphasise only the material, while subverting aspects of the spiritual to their own Egos. And that is what it fundamentally means to be an Asura.

Asuras want to “run alongside God” with the aim of ultimately replacing God. Devas, whatever their flaws, however much they like to enjoy, don’t seek to replace God, but be one with God.

This is the true root of transactionalism, the shopkeeper mentality, because there are no consequences once life is over. YOLO! Life itself is the ultimate transaction, why not try everything on the buffet! So promote fraudacharyas you know in your heart are compromised. Anoint foreign Acharyas while insulting your own native ones. After all, you can drink the benefits of digital popularity!

So eat, drink, and be merry now cause you know not what comes tomorrow! Rnam krtva ghrtam pibet….

The Descent of Man — Stages of Charvaka-ism

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There is an old story about a Brahmana who had traveled to Greece and was conversing with a Sophist. The Sophist said that the Greeks had separated God from studying Science so that their rational temper would not be clouded by their Spirituality. The Brahmin laughed, saying in order to understand Science correctly, you must first understand God.

While it is true that many quantum physicists are known to be religious, this story is less a riposte to agnostics than it is to atheists. After all, according to western logic, the agnostic position is indeed the most “rational” as based strictly on scientific evidence (i.e. primarily pratyaksha) God can’t be “proven”. Nevertheless, Indic logic recognises Sabda pramana as well—sabda in this case referring to the Veda, as well as the word of Enlightened Spiritual beings living the Dharmic tradition. As such, Indic logic is more robust as it doesn’t suffer from the solipsistic arrogance of modern man (who believes unless a phenomenon (divine or otherwise) makes itself observable—it must not exist). Interestingly, modern man echoes many of the views of Ancient Charvakas.

Despite having many agnostic and even a few atheist friends, we will, in the spirit of civilized discourse (and indeed, due to the impending technology-driven doom of mankind), give a structured rebuttal to the popular notion that God does not exist—or even that God-worship has caused mankind’s “social evils” (aka “religion is the opiate of the masses”). Those who know the difference between Dharma and religion may indeed believe the latter to be an opiate, but the former is not. This is because it doesn’t emphasise burdens of “dogma”: 1 way, 1 book, 1 person, 1 jealous god.

This is less a remark towards the religious of other religions—for at this stage, it may be (and that’s a big “may be”) better for a man to be religious than irreligious. It is simply a necessary tangent regarding the difference between Dharma and religion. The problem is, under the pretext of criticising religion, or superstition, one often finds the subtext of criticising God-worship or worship of the Divine. This is the moola-mantra of the Marxist. It is why both the Charvaka & the Marxian drive the descent of man into societal destruction.

But before Bernie bros get their boxers in a twist, we will focus not on Socialism (which has already been deconstructed here), but on how the Charvaka view of God-denial drives the demoniac.

The thought process of man’s descent into societal destruction:

God-harmony -> Ahamkar -> “Mujhe kya mila” -> Physical Fixation-> Sensuality -> Lust -> Hedonism -> Everyone is doing it -> Cruelty -> Inhumanity

After all, an egotistical person inherently is not in complete God-harmony as he believes “Aham-kaar!“. If I am the one who is deterministically doing this and that, then don’t I have the right to demand mujhe kya mila (what’s in it for me?). Does this not then lead to fixation on the physical (excessive focus on the erotic) or material (general greed for ‘things’)? Isn’t the result then sensuality then lust then hedonism (i.e. anything goes/sukham jivet rnam krtva) ignoring karmic debt, then finally mindless mob-thinking, then cruelty (the mark of the asura), then finally inhumanity (rakshasa-tattva)?

Thus, from Deva-bhakti man descends into Asura-bhaava. A slow but sure progression, duly aided by Yavat jivet.

If God-harmony is the goal, then what are the various motivations that influence whether or not society avoids or ambles toward destruction?

Bhakti -> Love of Truth -> Sadhachara -> Cultural Norms / Moral Living -> Ethical Living -> Legalist Living -> Groupthink -> Charvaka-ism -> Nihitha Svaartha -> Asura-bhaava

That is how mankind descends from manava-tattva to rakshasa-tattva. And it is not just men; many women are guilty of this too—Exhibit A: Golddiggers.

In fact, the seed of man’s problem is in the denial of woman. When “we” is reduced to “me”, the natural Rta between microcosmal-shiva & microcosmal shakti becomes discordant (much to the chagrin of Macrocosmal Shiva and Macrocosmal Shakti). It is this spanda (vibration) that emanates from bindu to become naadha, that determines our mentality. Is it a discordant one (with a wild amplitude and irregular frequency) or is a harmonious vibration (operating at a more sonorous frequency)? If Kaali is wild and untameable and yet a promoter of harmony it is because she only mates with Shiva. Thus, it is her mono-andry that ironically makes her stable and free. Her creation and her desires are subject to her will, rather than her will being subject to desire. It is the slavery to senses and sense gratification that prevent women from attaining the state of Kaali (or more specifically Shakti) & that certainly prevent men from attaining the state of Kaala or Shiva.

Abhicharakas and practicioners of all sorts of “black magic”—may or may not be superstitious, but their Egos and rootedness in the “I” over the “We” is what destroyed the sanctity of the Tantric tradition. It is the espousal of the material over the spiritual and the denial of each microcosmal Pinda-Shiva needing a specific sviya Shakti (and vice versa) that opens up a panoply of never-ending sensual possibilities rather than seeking merger with Parama-Shiva (macrocosmal) and Paraa-Shakti (macrocosmal). It is this “me” that separates sex from “we”. It is also this first separation of “we” that makes splitting a potato more difficult (for men).

Through this egoism (which eventually becomes egotism), any and all possibilities become plausible, because yavat jivet sukham jivet rnam krtva ghrtam pibet  (Be happy as long as you are alive, if need be go into debt to enjoy ghee). Forget the sukham of others’ happiness, even the rnam of karmic debt is forgotten, because not only the most personal “we” with respect to jeevatman, but the overarching “We” of paramatman is denied—so who or what’s to stop us from the deliciously endless buffet of buffoonery?

Much like nitwit Nazis who see national socialism as the solution to Communist Hedonism, many Charvakas are like rakshasas manipulated by greater asuras—picking only choice A or choice B, rather than thinking outside the box. These scientism-advocates believe science to be the key to perfecting man rather than spirituality. But Nazi Nationalists are as dangerous to any society as are individualistic Liberal hedonists. Both destroy the decentralisation of society that defends against tyranny, and exhort the reduction of worship to mere ritual, and religion or Dharma to mere tribalism.

But piety is not virtue. Indeed, with “piety” again one finds ego. True spirituality & true Dharma is rooted in humilityVinayasya moolam vruddhopa seva. When one is more interested in petty ambition than seva, humility which would come through serving elders, does not flower. Thus vinayam is absent in such social misfits.

But leave aside humility, where is humanity? Where is mankind today? Whether humans (of all nationalities) wish to admit it or not, they are flirting with (if not wholesale embracing) inhumanity. Whatever the sloganeering of “insaniyat” in the quest for “kashmiriyat”, mankind has forgotten its maana-tattva. It is why Aurobindo referred to modern civilization as not civilization, but “a carefully ordered barbarism”. And that is why, what humanity is in the midst of is not a clash of civilizations, but a clash for civilization.

After all, it is human cruelty that distinguishes the barbarian from the Aryan, or any civilised person for that matter. If civilization is a mega-culture, then what many people call “culture” is in fact merely so in an anthropological sense. Even if arts exist in such a society, its aesthetic is driven by the predatory, and thus, unworthy of being called ‘sanskriti‘. Sanskriti literally refers to refinement—if predator societies insist on calling what they have ‘culture’—perhaps it may indeed be best to restrict it to its anthropological sense, and assert Sanskriti as another ‘non-translatable’.

Real culture is not simple pack mentality, emblematic of the behaviour of predators. What is a predator in a suit and tie but merely a predator in more pompous clothing?

vivekanandagentlemen

Real culture recognises the Dignity of every Man and every Woman.

Abandoning of elderly mothers, bahu slapping saas, women using men, men exploiting women, brother usurping from brother, even the foundational relationships of mother & son or father & daughter are being destroyed in the name of “rnam krtva ghrtam pibet”. Society is literally eating itself out.

Though ethics and genetics can explain why many of these are wrong (especially the latter two), it was the concept of God/Paraa-Shakti/ParaBrahman that gave sanctity to all these relationships in the first place. By “Invading the Sacred”, the sanctity of life and living right has been lost, in favour of living pleasant. Preyas has finally and completely obliterated Shreyas. But all the plastic surgery in the world cannot hide the ugliness that humans have on the inside.

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Does Nastika simply mean heterodox/denying Veda or actual atheism?

In fact, the Sanskrit word for orthodox is nisthavaan. So the question of orthodoxy vs heterodoxy is not necessarily rooted in astika and nastika.

As a person who embraces the Veda as apaurusheya, one might venture to ask this question: Is all that’s happening today why great saints condemn denial of God?

It is true that there can be good, ethical individuals who happen to be atheist. It is also true that if one is to live by strictly “rational” or “scientific” standards, agnosticism (as opposed to atheism) is the more empirical position (as it admits we don’t know—not enough evidence). But the question isn’t what happens when very good or even the best people take atheist/agnostic positions—it’s whether Pandora’s box has been opened for the middling or the very worst to behave as they please.

Despite being a person who revers the Veda as sacred, one might ask  whether the greater sinner is in fact not the Veda Virodhaka , but the Deva Na-asti-ka..

Is this what the Puranas meant when they said that “popular preachers” in the Kali Age would be…”Naastikas” and Pashandas—those skilled at feeding both their bellies and their genitals?—because whatever Vedic ritual they do…they don’t believe God exists.

After all, if life is in the material (rather than the conscious spirit), then there is nothing after death (it’s lights out). So technically speaking, setting aside the very good and very bad people, how will very “average” people behave? There is nothing wrong in being “average” or wanting to appreciate all aspects of life. But when one is just “average” in virtue or Dharma, that means he or she is only as good or as bad as society allows him or her to be. Such a person simply wants to “get along, and live comfortable life without hurting othersif possible…”.

So with no aspiration to live an exemplary life, life essentially becomes a matter of triangulation: “Eh I don’t really care to be a Sati-Savitri, but I don’t want to be a Surpanakha either—what’s everyone else doing?”. But as society slowly but surely dilutes the definition of bad (“there is no good/bad, just perspective), men and women slip more and more towards the bad (because, “neethulu koodu guda pettavu” until finally…“rnam krtva ghrtam pibet”).

It is of course also important to note that by Deva na-asti-ka, we refer not to just those who reject the possibility of any deity, but rather, those denying the existence and agency of Paramatman or ParaBrahman or Paraa-Shakti.

Many charvakas in fact masquerade as (small d) deva-worshippers while overcompensatingly boasting about virility (again, small d…or in this case, no d). This in turn drives the sadism of their views and espousal of nazi theories, and the distinctly un-dharmic concept of “patriarchy”. It is a denial of Veda by denying Vedanta (which is more than just a school of philosophy (Uttara Mimamsa, or higher investigation)—but the literal “end” purpose of the Veda). Real rishis know this, and thus tell the followers of Purva Mimamsa (earlier/beginning investigation) to “proceed further”. But this attachment to ritual, privilege, and ritual privilege has led to an espousal of materiality, ironically on religious grounds. It is also why a real rishi like Ramana maharshi is often insulted by them—it is no different than the charvaka of old misguiding the masses and falsely portraying others. This segues to our conclusion.

We conclude as we began. An important point need be stressed about deity-worship, as all deities are not benevolent. And Dharma is not paganism It is true that Vedanta (‘literally the End of the Vedas’) emphasises that there is a Supreme Brahman which is the pervading and active spirit in all beings. Modern Charvakas often attempt to conflate this either with 1 true God-ism, or non-theism (giving some inert non-autonomous quality to it). This is typically done as it then gives justification to the Asuric—that is non-benevolent, or even malevolent deities that egotistically manipulate human beings for their own ultimate Supremacy—in defiance of the Supreme.

After all, many of the devas (i.e. Varuna) were originally Asuras. Regardless of paying lip-service to the Devaraja, such worship is usually characterised by imbalance, and even if the masculine is balanced by the feminine—it is done cynically, debasing both in the process. Whatever “we” that is there is contractual, terminating with its conditions, and reverting back to the original egotistical “me”. In fact, while much may not be known today about the historical Charvakas, the Mahabharata provides a parable for the modern reader that is particularly prescient. And we will end with that:

After the great Kuruksetra war, when the Pandava brothers were returning
triumphantly, thousands of brahmins gathered at the city gate to bestow their blessing on Yudhisthira. Among them was Charvaka. He moved forward and
without the consent of the rest of the brahmins, he addressed the king thus:

A little while after when the Brahmanas had become silent, a Rakshasa of the name of Charvaka, who had disguised himself as a Brahmana, addressed the king. He was a friend of Duryodhana and stood therein the garb of a religious mendicant. With a rosary, with a tuft of hair on his head, and with the triple staff in his hand, he stood proudly and fearlessly in the midst of all those Brahmanas that had come there for pronouncing benedictions (upon the king), numbering by thousands, O king, and all of whom were devoted to penances and vows. That wicked wight, desirous of evil unto the high-souled Pandavas and without having consulted those Brahmanas, said these words unto the king.’

Charvaka said, ‘All these Brahmanas, making me their spokesman, are saying, ‘Fie on thee! Thou art a wicked king. Thou art a slayer of kinsmen. What shalt thou gain, O son of Kunti, by having thus exterminated thy race? Having slain also thy superiors and preceptor, it is proper for thee to cast away thy life.’ Hearing these words of that wicked Rakshasa the Brahmanas there became deeply agitated. Stung by that speech, they made a loud uproar. And all of them, with king Yudhishthira. O monarch, became speechless from anxiety and shame.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I bow down to you and beseech you humbly, be gratified with me. It doth not behove you to cry fie on me. I shall soon lay down my life.’ 1

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then all those Brahmanas, O king, loudly said, ‘These are not our words. Prosperity to thee, O monarch!’ Those high-souled persons, conversant with the Vedas, with understanding rendered clear by penances, then penetrated the disguise of the speaker by means of their spiritual sight.’ And they said, ‘This is the Rakshasa Charvaka, the friend of Duryodhana. Having put on the garb of a religious mendicant, he seeks the good of his friend Duryodhana.

We have not, O thou of righteous soul, said anything of the kind. Let this anxiety of thine be dispelled. Let prosperity attend upon thee with thy brothers.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘These Brahmanas then, insensate with rage, uttered the sound Hun. Cleansed of all sins, they censured the sinful Rakshasa and slew him there (with that very sound). Consumed by the energy of those utterers of Brahma, Charvaka fell down dead, like a tree with all its sprouts blasted by the thunder of Indra. [1]

Unfortunately, many such Rakshasas disguising themselves as Brahmanas have been subtly disseminating Charvaka beliefs by misinterpreting texts and misguiding the naïve, trusting, and the devoutly orthodox. The time has come to expose them and their misguiding malevolence, before all of Hindu Society not only descends into Charvaka-ism, but is destroyed by it.

References:

  1. The Mahabharata. Shanti Parva. Section 36. Page 82.http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12a038.htm

Envisioning the Modern Kurukshetra

Introduction

The imagery of the Kurukshetra continues to be a powerful one in the mind of Bharatvasis. The gathering of great armies preparing to clash in the name of Dharma and Desha is one that is both captivating and cautionary. For many it was about fighting for liege-lord, for others it was about family blood ties, and for still more it was about securing personal advantage through proximity to throne. But to draw armies from the length-and-breadth of Bharatavarsha—that is the entire Indian Subcontinent—to do battle in the Madhyadesa makes this titanic conflict far more resonating than the mere rights to the throne or even Dharma-samsthaapana. The Restoration of Dharma was verily Krishna’s purpose, but the Kurukshetra itself was more than just about the Field of the Kurus. It was about the Kurukshetra we fight every day.

Do we press our thinly reasoned rights for personal profit or do we bow out of the contest in the name of the common good? Do we foresee the catastrophes of impending fratricide or do we up-the-ante, refusing to part with even 5 villages?  Above all, do we see position as responsibility, or merely entitlement to privilege?

The Kurukshetra was about the purification of not only the Land of Adharmic rulers, but also the Mind of its Adharmic inclinations.  It is why it is the greatest of ironies that those of us schooled in the Blut und Eisen tradition of no-nonsense statecraft would find ourselves understanding the central importance of restoring the character of the individual, before we can Restore the National Character. Poorna Vijay is not possible for Bharatvarsh unless the individual Bharatvasi first makes effort for the Antar Vijay.

Individual ambition continues to the prioritised over National aspiration. Greed for sensual pleasures and quick fame perpetuated as perennial plague. Casteist delusions continue to predominate rather than common societal feeling.

But above all, the widespread pervasiveness of Sanctimoniously, Selfish, Stupid, and Spoiled Brats, has made winning the narrative not only easy for the other side, but a near foregone conclusion. If the scale has tipped in recent years it’s in fact less because we’re winning it and more because the other side is losing it.

In the wake of articles such as Niti, Exigencies of the Politico-Strategic, and Dhanurveda, it becomes important to understand the precise nature of the clash and why Self-Improvement is pivotal before Societal change is even possible.

What Faces Us

Although reams have been written on “Ram Raj” and “Rishi raj” and “Renaissance” and regurgitation of knowledge, little time has been spent on the exact nature of the challenge facing Bharat today. While there is plenty of rhetoric about the “Clash of Civilizations”, this too is a distraction. What in fact faces Bharat faces all of Mankind. This statement is being made not without having done a survey of world history or a detailed study of Bharat’s millennium horriblis, but rather, it is specifically because of it.

Yes, people are interacting without barriers more than ever before. Yes, the injunction to let go of ancient hatreds and bigotries is upon us more than ever before. Yes, conveniences of technological consumerism are accessible more than ever before.  But look around, the soul is dying.

In the quest for convenience, mankind has forgotten its priorities. In its drive for ambition, it has destroyed its relationships. In its celebration of selfishness, it is has lost its soul. All this not only makes for consumption-driven, college-credentialed zombies, but also disunited and atomised sheeple. No wonder there is an epidemic of loneliness. Consumption of all things, satisfaction of all impulses, and even hedonism may feel good for a while, even a long while—but ultimately end up the same way: self-loathing misery.

It’s why despite apps such as tinder, people are dating and “hooking up” more than ever before, but are also lonelier more than ever before. This is because if your relationships mean nothing and are replaceable, then you truly are alone. This may be bearable when all is well, but what happens during times of vyasana? After all, if you “love everyone” and are “accountable for everyone” you are in fact responsible for no one. While we all have a duty to help our fellow man, there are circles of trust. Spouse and immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, and then only the rest of society. But as in the Brave New World, an atomised, hedonistic society is one that is easily controlled. Statism or Scientism then reign supreme, and even “Mother” becomes a bad word rather than the root of all that is good.

“everyone belongs to everyone else” emphasising the system of forced promiscuity, brainwashed into the people from the moment of birth. At the core of this book is the horrific idea of eugenics and despite being written several decades ago, its message remains valid for our generation.

Brave New World explores the negatives of an ostensibly successful world in which everyone appears to be content and satisfied, with excessive carnal pleasures yet really, this stability is only achieved by sacrificing freedom in its true sense and the idea of personal responsibility.

Many from the Chetan Bhagat school of foreign policy believe there’s nothing wrong with sacrificing “a little bit of sovereignty for a little bit of security“. But how much freedom are you willing to sacrifice before you sacrifice your own freedom of will? In the name of technology and technocracy, will you submit to singularity? In the name of security will you sacrifice privacy? The technology for many of these things is in fact not only real but here. It is not for nothing that truth is said to be stranger than fiction. Rather than being distracted by obvious distractions and digital virtual passtimes, perhaps its time you open your eyes and understand what is in fact so fully invested in destroying your culture is in fact invested in destroying all culture.

The contributions of Rajiv Malhotra have been courageous and intellectually rigorous, and Malhotra himself coined the phrased Intellectual Kurukshetra. The time has come to take it forward and expand it to the full battlespace, with the Intellectual sphere being only one dimension. If the Battle for Sanskrit has now officially expanded to the Battle for Sanskriti, what is at stake is not only the loss of our traditional culture, but traditional culture and humanity the world over. Therefore, the Intellectual Kurukshetra is but one Dimension of the overall Field of the Modern Kurus. As convenient as binaries such as “abrahamic vs pagan”, and “aryan vs dravidian” may be for some simple-minded sections, the only binary that matters in the coming days is Dharma vs Adharma. As Sun Tsu teaches us, know yourself, and know your enemy and you will be victorious in a hundred battles.

Above all, it becomes critical to know what the dimensions are, why the answers aren’t so simple as “revolutionary netaji-ism” or a ballot box or even “traditional patriarchy”. What is required is understanding what is being faced, what must be done, and what individual parts might be in the days ahead. In short, understand the Purva Paksha, understand the Dharma Paksha, and then understand one’s own Svadharma.

Dimensions of the Kurukshetra

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Surveying the terrain is obligatory before any battle. Surveying the geography is even more important before any war. The geography of the Modern Kurukshetra may involve the jargon of the economic, the financial, the technological, the martial, and even the cultural, but these are all factors at play in each dimension. While discussions of hard power are important, and even Chanakya touched on soft power’s culture factor, the faceoff between Dharma and Adharma is fundamentally spiritual. It is about Satya vs Asatya (Truth vs Untruth) and Rtam vs Anrtam (Moral Order vs Immoral Order).

Therefore, preparation for the days ahead necessitate understanding how simple solutions and quick conflicts can’t simply take us back to business as usual. A fundamental desire and willingness to change (parinamavasya) will be needed across all sections of society. If the muck of the the Kali Yuga must first be cleansed off before one is battle-worthy, then no section is free of muck. If a Dharmic Society is what is desired, then it must be one that works for all sections of the Dharma Samaaj, not just one or two. Above all, nationalism and civilizational revival cannot be mere rhetoric for advancing caste agendas. If the difficult problems of unwieldy reservation and rural caste atrocity are both to be tackled, a sense of harmony and common good must reemerge. Jaathi is by birth, but those who assert the privileges of varna must prove themselves worthy of it. No one is beyond question, and all will be held accountable.

Is this how you build Dharmic unity? What authority do such people have to  lecture?

If care only about your own caste & rationalise its wrongs, how can you claim leadership?

Rabid casteist rants (however subtle…) achieve nothing and alienate everything and everyone. Therefore, rather than twiddling our thumbs on twitter like tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, or like AIT proponents (tweedle-dum and tweedle-dummer), let us understand what will be required of us, all of us. It is easy to excoriate Shri Modi and decry his “do-nothingness on core”, but it is much harder to understand exactly what Modi, or Yogi, or any neta actually faces. Those who lead lives of full-time spectator sport and contribute nothing have no right to demand anything. First demonstrate that you understand what is actually taking place, then you can give your gyaan. And if you don’t, then take steps to visualise it and begin to envision actual and workable solutions.

In the mean time, one must begin by understanding each dimension of the Kurukshetra, starting with the Intellectual one.

Intellectual Kurukshetra

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Decoding the Intellectual Kurukshetra is no easy task. As was written in that previous ICP article, “propheteering” is a lucrative industry, from Karl Marx to Karl Popper. Rajiv Malhotra has naturally been the pioneering (and remains the leading) voice here, and the issues related to tackling this dimension are naturally best covered directly by him in his works. Nevertheless, there is a particularly aspect that is jarring at this stage that in the interests of unity, has not been discussed much. We, after all, do not have the same burdens to be diplomatic that he does.

And the issue is this: Shalyas masquerading as Rishis and Acharyas.

Beef-in-Vedas, Eugenics,  and Alternative Lifestyles are all looking for legitimation from louts looking for lucre as Rna. This is the danger of fake Acharyas, foreign and domestic: they mislead and make way for the immoral agenda. Many “modern Rishis”—many of whom are foreign origin—are being pushed online and off to replace not only our traditional Pandits and their orthodox interpretations, but also to replace dharmic political leadership as well.

The Rishi, understandably has had a storied place in Dharma, with the most important of them recorded as mind-born sons of Brahma. But one must be wary of conflating the role of the Brahmana or even Rishi with that of the Raja.Like the words Acharya and Guru, even the word Rishi is now increasingly bandied about today, as though there could be a Peter Drucker based management course to train such leadership.It is not enough to call for the Leadership of Rishis if Daivic Spiritual Power is in fact lacking.

As such, spiritual leadership cannot be conflated with political leadership. The two are distinct, though they must work hand-in-hand and must be native in nature.

This dimension also necessitates challenging intellectual “white elephants” being foisted as “dharmic”, whether it is “dharmic liberalism” or “dharmic paganism”. “Dharmic capitalism” is another such oxymoron, and Swaminathan Gurumurthy correctly termed this “Baahuka Economics”.

Here is the Indian equivalent of Greenspan’s economics — the economics of Bahuka. Bahuka figures in the Bhagawata Purana, and was the advisor of Jarasandha, who was Kamsa’s father-in-law. Kamsa, who regarded Sri Krishna as his enemy, asked Bahuka’s advice on how to make his subjects state-dependent. Bahuka told him: “Open your treasury to the people. Make the people eat, drink and enjoy themselves. Bring up children to look upon parents as old and useless. That will make them laugh at those who talk of duty, love and compassion. Like well-fed cattle at the mercy of the cowherd, the people will be completely dependent on you. [2]

Therefore, the Intellectual Kurukshetra necessitates a sense of discretion and a healthy skepticism of ‘saviours‘ presenting themselves as rishis and acharyas. Critical thinking is indeed critical.

Individual

While the Intellectual Kurukshetra has been much discussed, the Individual Kurukshetra has not. This might strike new readers as surprising, but as we will show in subsequent dimensions, the individual is the building block to the overarching Kurukshetra we have today. And stupid individuals cannot a strong society or sena make.

In a preceding Post, we identified the following as the elements of Indian Stupidity: Attention Deficit Disorder, Missing the Woods for the Trees, Rote Memorisation, Status Obsession, Sentimentality, Sore-loserness, Inability to Shut up, Action vs Reaction, & Lack of Focus resulting from Loss of Culture. Ultimately, these all radiate from the need for Character.

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Strength in character consists of having the qualities that allow you to exercise control over your instincts and passions, to master yourself, and to resist the myriad temptations that constantly confront you.

  • Strength of character allows you to carry out your will freely, while enabling you to cope with setbacks. It assists you to accomplish your goals in the end.
  • It allows you to inquire into the causes of ill-fortune, instead of just complaining about it, as many are inclined to do.
  • It gives you the courage to admit your own faults, frivolousness, and weaknesses.
  • It gives you the strength to keep a foothold when the tide turns against you, and to continue to climb upward in the face of obstacles.

If there is a single aspect critical in creating effective participants on the Kurukshetra it is character. And in order to build character, one must rely on the basics of Dharma. The Dharmasastra of Vaidika Dharma obviously provides an exegesis in tomes. Sikh Dharma emphasises Naam Japo (chanting the name of God), Kirat Karo (work diligently), and Vand Chakko (doing good for society). Satya (Truth) and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) are part of the Five Vows of Jain Dharma, and Bauddha Dharma provides the 8 Fold Path.

More than Trivial Pursuit, GK games, IQ obsession & Eugenics theories to preserve your favourite perspective, wisdom and intellectual humility are needed to do the intelligent thing. That can only come from character. Udhaarabhaava (good character) or Aryabhava (Noble character), that is what is lacking today. Instead we have people full of Kusheela or Paapasheela (Bad and Ignoble Character). The Rishi has been replaced by the Marjaar.

Character is about building a community, not using people and throwing them away after.

Character is about building institutions for the common good, not just promoting your own brand or clique or popsicle stand.

Character is about having the courage to do the right thing, even if it is the difficult thing. It is in putting societal duties above personal obligations. It is in looking after the common welfare rather than merely private social-climbing.

Much has been written about degeneracy and depravity, but the root to this is Selfishness.

Character is the opposite of Selfishness, because it looks to do what is necessary and hard rather than what is easy. Enjoying the bonhomie of the decade-old digital salon is easy. Recognising a Jaichand in your midst and disavowing when apparent is the sign of true character…not dp’s of grave looking European men in statue form.

The Romans had many intelligent slaves to serve as tutors in intellectual matters—yet, they remained the rulers. After all, “High IQ” slaves are still slaves. Among the Greeks, Alcibiades too was “high iq”, but ultimately betrayed his nation. Carthage had the more brilliant general in Hannibal, but Rome’s character & citizenry ensured Scipio had the support to defeat him. That is the importance and criticality of Character.

Oordhva

We are all human beings who naturally have needs. But character teaches us how and when to fulfill those needs, or even transcend them. Dharma is the path to Character.

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Familial

Family is an important dimension of the Modern Kurukshetra precisely because of what is being pushed in the name of the “Modern Family”. If traditional family values are under threat it is because for too long individuals have been winking at or turning a blind eye at abuses of family power. This is of course seen best in the lead up to the original Kurukshetra itself.

The infuriating and sinful disrobing of Draupadi fueled not only the Pandavas’, but Krishna’s desire for the destruction of the Kauravas. However, even Krishna achieved justice for Draupadi after weighing all the factors: When, Where, How, Who, What, Why. He did not merely advocate war immediately. He took into account the factors against and even tapasya required on the part of the Pandavas, before, in the name of all women, Duryodhana and Dushasana could be brought to justice. And brought to justice they were, in the most terrible of fashions.

But this was achieved and societal attitudes corrected because even an humiliated and vengeful Draupadi patiently listened to the wisdom of Sri Krishna. Rather than putting her cause above Dharma, she focused on Dharma, which in due time, gave her the justice she so richly deserved. That is because, no matter how just the cause, weighing and prioritising of all interests (not just one) and correction of all crimes (not just one) is required. A family is governed, protected, and ultimately restored in the same way. It is not about the dictatorial interests of a patriarchy or matriarchy, but about the head-of-household governing the family in the interest of all its members.

Indeed, it is the failure not of pursuing one’s interests, or frequently even societal interests, but the failure and stubborn refusal to prioritise interest properly that frequently leads to problems not only for societies but even for relationships.

If you only prioritise your interest, if you only care about yourself, if you only look after yourself, how can your relationship, any relationship, survive? Romance isn’t dead today because modernity makes it impossible or obsolete. Rather, the Death of Romance took place because individuals (the constituent parts of a relationship) are too selfish to make the relationship work. What self-absorbed, selfish woman (no matter how physically beautiful) will inspire continued romantic sentiment in her husband? What selfish brute of a man can continue to retain the romantic affections of his wife? Indeed, it is not compatibility, but selfishness and brutishness, that makes a relationship impossible. Even the classic English drama Pygmalion demonstrates this.

If divorce rates are increasing, if violence against women is increasing, if isolation in society is increasing, it is because of selfishness and self-centeredness.  A nation of narcissists and selfish brats will not long last. And a nation of people that know not how to prioritise, will not become strong. If the externalities of the “bastard society” are to be avoided, these aspects must be kept in mind.

Prioritisation also means preparing for the unexpected and working as team when the unexpected happens.

Plan & prepare for contingencies. Develop Survival skills.

§ Learn to stock up and keep provisions for a rainy day or week or month

§ Learn to work in teams (castes don’t count)  like professionals in institutions

§ Learn to plan & train. Waiting until stuff happens isn’t a strategy. Emergencies happen

If such situations occur, what will you do?

If you haven’t done any of these things in your spoiled little existence, start today. This is why we wrote of the importance of critical thinking. Gyaani-ism results in living in your own made up world of assumptions. Critical thinking necessitates understanding the world as it actually is. Dharma is not assumption-based. Dharma is reality-based, and reality changes based on circumstances . Modern/Post-modern living may make it seem like you are just a mall or a single-brand retail store away from food, fashion, and water, but what happens when the power goes out? 1 hour or 1 day power cuts are the norm in less densely populated towns and villages, and even many cities, but what do you do if you live in a crime-ridden metro? Gated community or not, foreign or domestic, these are things to consider.

This is also why it is important to value Wisdom over Knowledge. Knowledge is important. But remember as Kant wrote: Science is organised Knowledge, Wisdom is organised life.

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Bhodrolok?

Value wisdom over knowledge. Knowledge is important, but not what is pivotal in the end. Learn the differences. Debasing yourself like a gunga din, following orders, taking instructions, or just taking advice (or saying you’ll think about it) are not the same thing.

This leads into the next point. While it’s good to differentiate between those who openly attack our culture and those foreigners who openly support it, understand that you don’t always know who’s doing what covertly. A traitor is still a traitor, but understand that there still is a difference between native and foreign. Foreigners can be allies and friends, but regardless of the behaviour of casteists, only natives are your real family. There are some things only natives can do. Have the self-respect to understand this.

Gandhi remains controversial, and this movie ever less appreciable by the day. Nevertheless, every now and then, there are some relevant scenes, and this is one of them.

It is good to appreciate friends, but your friends cannot run your own household. It is good to acknowledge well-wishers, but they cannot lead your way. It is good to be a good global citizen,but start by being a good national citizen first. Then, not only will you find that you will be more successful in attaining your objectives, but that your circle of friends (foreign and domestic) will increase, not because you are likeable, but because you are respectable.

All this is also why, rather than chasing after the approval of others, silence is golden.

VN_SilenceSocietal

Some of the most sanctimonious societal moralists are those least in line with the spirit of morality. After all, what happened to all those eminence grises, those ancient worthies who watched the vastrahaaran of Draupadi in criminal inaction?

But societal solutions are not as simple as simplistic sloganeering. Civilizational Revival is only possible if all sections are uplifted and given dignity and a stake in society.

Gender

From human trafficking to acid attacks to forced intercourse to everyday run of the mill lechery, women are overwhelming the victims of indecency and violence. But no amount of legislation can completely prevent such behavior in all settings. Thus, the mistake of these ladies is not in speaking out, but knowing where to speak out, realising how to correct, and having the willingness to listen.  Sadly, even in the ranks of those who presume to speak out in favour of or in support of dharma do so only so far as it advances their self-interest. Statements like this show that soul-searching must be done by both genders.

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Modern Girls need to start understanding that it takes two hands to clap. It is easy enough to criticise men (we do it here all the time), but both genders must assume responsibility.  Modern and post-modern life has made people soft and selfish and sybaritic. If you value preyas (the pleasant) over shreyas (the good) then society finds itself unwound. But don’t take it from another “chauvinistic pig”, take it from a lady who was once young herself.

Girls: Who you gon’ tell when the repercussions spin?
Showing off your ass ’cause you’re thinking it’s a trend

Guys: How you gonna win if you ain’t right with them?

This Lauryn Hill ‘feat is in many ways a lament of Post-Modernity and the tragic downfall of her community (mentioned here). The obvious contrasts between 1967 and 1998 are clearly seen in split-screen. She soulfully sings of how easily women are prepared to “give it away” for material things and how men are prepared to take advantage of women for “that thing”, leaving behind 3-4 kids on child support they don’t pay.  She asks men, how can they think they win if they don’t treat women right?

And before you think this is just another lecture from old-fashioned people, understand how the above leads to the below.

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In America, IQ champion Charles Murphy is now bemoaning the coming apart of his theories in The Coming Apart of White America, and in India, we now have “Char bottle Vodka”. Women are not chattel or baby factories. The due place of women is not only as mothers and wives but also as co-equals and partners in society.  But the way to dignity, justice, and respect for women is not through outside intervention, but internal reform.

From Basava to Annamacharya to Vivekananda, voices rooted in the native and indigenous were the ones that most successfully appealed to our conscience and reformed society in the process.  Achara is the building block for this, because it restrains our behavior to encourage the common interest instead. It is not more laws but better conduct that will improve society and women’s safety.

This leads to the next point. At a time when foreign elements are doing there utmost to split Hindu society along caste lines, only an idiot plays into it by making it worse.

Class

classvclassEven our self-proclaimed patriots and social media saviors are guilty of this sin of selfishness, and have even less reason for it. Dharma is merely a flag or (temporary) party—ambition is their cause.

Rather than think of the common good, they prioritise advancing their own personal, career, and caste interests. These pseudo-trads would do well to remember that Sukra Niti prescribes strict punishment for those inciting caste hatreds.

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Start with yourself, and show you have self-respect by treating others with respect. This is the first step to rebuilding personal character, which in turn will rebuild society.

Regional Kurukshetra

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To rebuild the character of the state necessitates leaders. Real leaders, not just entitled buffoons who like to boss people around or boast of credentials or give flattering lectures, but real people of action. Real action is not in producing hackneyed memes that mimic analogues from the West, but in actually taking tangible steps in collaboration with like-minded people.

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Samarth Ramdas Swamy

Reach out to the local traditional Pandits. You can find ways to give qualified ones patronage or support the events they and others like them hold to teach all children. There is a lot of junk colonial history out there and junk colonial scriptural interpretation as well. It is only the traditional pandit who can give the correct interpretation and advise your effort to properly restore your regional history and culture. Only orthodox Pandits are the authorities on our scriptures anyway—not some beef-eating baboo, foreign or domestic, from the ivory tower.

Promote native/regional language & language bookstores. But it’s cheaper on amazon” isn’t an excuse. That should be a last resort not a first one. Give patronage as much as you can and suggest book titles to your friends and family and followers. There’s no point whining about how your kids or the younger generation doesn’t speak  your mother tongue when you didn’t make it a point to show them what to read, and why.

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Kashyapa Muni Statue in Andhra

KP’s should teach their children Sharda (and of course, Koshur). This will ensure not only the ability to read the treasure of Sanskrit literature that came from the Land of Maharishi Kashyap, but that there will be motivation to re-collect the many lost manuscripts of our civilizational heritage that are in that lipi.Our Sikh brothers in Dharma have provided an excellent example in preserving not only the Punjabi language, but the Gurmukhi script.  Those speaking various Hindi dialects should begin emphasising them as well. We touched on that issue here. There is no reason why the purveyors of a persianised pidgin patois should look down upon the venerable bhashas of Braj and Avadh and Mithila.

Also remember, culture isn’t static. Nor is it 1 dimensional or only religious in character. You can’t just regurgitate whatever traditional learning you learnt. The next step is to revive cultural equities not just by documenting them,but by supporting artists, dancers, weavers, craftspeople, fashion designers, poets, etc etc.

If you are fed up with bollywood insulting our culture, give the parallel vision, the real vision of real India. Enough talk. Put your money where your mouth is. There are plenty of short film directors and film students looking for funding online. Crowdsource. Pool your resources and give the ones with the right vision and right attitude the funding they need. One small film can lead to bigger ones. They are all one google-search away. This also means investing in your regional language industry.

That is how state culture is revived—not through twitter threads—but through giving patronage to pandits, support to arts & crafts, ticket sales to traditional & folk theatre & dance, and funding to up and coming filmmakers who are culturally & nationally rooted.

National Kurukshetra

If the regional front has its share of issues, they are manifold at the national level. Everything from national history and historicity to central administrative language is contested. This necessitates not only nationalists at the regional level but regional thinkers to think nationally. But only a cultured elite (whether municipal or regional) can function that way.

A New Elite

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Ram Raj requires Bharatas & Lakshmanas as Lieutenants

Ram Raj was not built in a day. Nevertheless, it remains a perennial and even millennial aspiration throughout India. But such a selfless elite, such duty-bound/self-sacrificing leaders who verily gave us the definition of Tyaagi, require more than 1 giant personality. Whether Maharaja or Mukhya Mantri, such a leader requires secondary leadership to back him up (as Bharata did for Rama) and loyal lieutenants who rejected ambition for service to the leader (like Lakshmana), and more importantly, his cause (Dharma). But where are such lieutenants today? Every nitwit with some basis for ahankar (birth, gotra, education, money) sees himself as the saviour and will tear down any putative rival with a viciousness he doesn’t even show to national enemies. That is why Dharma is needed, as it rejects ambition in favor of duty and aspiration. Duty must come before self-interest—then and then only is the national/civilizational cause served. Ask yourself “is there someone better qualified?”—if so, politely step aside, and if you have it in you, help (that is, after all, what a true leader would do).

India’s record is actually slightly better than that, as there was resistance and even rollback throughout the 1000 years (which is closer to 5-600 years if one thinks of all of India, rather than just Northwest India). But the point of the honourable Minister is spot on. In our obsession for IQ, we are forgetting the need to evaluate character. Do you hang tough and stand by your countrymen when the going gets tough—or do you cut a side deal to keep your ill-deserved kingdom or because you feel he wronged you.

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Our modernism zombies may laugh instinctively that any elite in any time could be politically (let alone morally) superior to their own. But in an era when selfishness and greed itself have become virtues, perhaps the time has indeed come to review aspects of Aristocracy that indeed made them aristos (the best) as opposed to the current crop of kakistos. Perhaps there is indeed a way to imbibe the self-sacrificing and rootedness of the old elite in our democratic framework without restoring monarchy’s dictatorial worst. To do that, we must first understand what the purpose of an elite really is.

Also understand how the game is played. Overcompensating bravado, caste prejudice, and even overt religious bigotry are merely going to ensure you play directly into our shatrus’ hands with quotable soundbites—many of you are experts at this already…And misogyny is downright suicidal. We at this site reject it prima facie, but if you don’t reject it on principle, at least have some sense. Political sense. When your shatru is trying to pit women against men, you don’t play into his hands.

Civilizational Kurukshetra

For Romans it was Virtus, for the Chinese it is Tianxia, for Indians it is Dharma. The character of a nation or civilization is determined by the driving principle. It is an ideal that gives courage in dark days, high minded thinking in peaceful ones, and moral thinking in prosperous ones. Above all, it not only gives a nation its character, but builds character among its nationalists. When character is corrected, then attitude is corrected, and not only fellow countrymen but neighbouring countries will hearken to your call.

Our previous articles on the Global Crisis of Character and Why Character is so Important, were composed so that people, especially self-declared civilizational saviours, understand that their personal character is ultimately what deprecates or elevates National Character.

Character also teaches you to plan for succession. Team, Family, Community, Business, Army, Government, all need depth not just in the ranks of enlisted man or common member, but depth in leadership as well.  From Dahir to Anandapala to Hemu, too many battles have been lost because a cause was personality-focused. To get loyalty from your subordinates show loyalty and respect (not the same as subservience) to seniors. Personalities do matter, but institutions matter more. That is how civilizations are saved.

Global Kurukshetra

While video games, dm groups, and wrathofgnon ripoffs may make the Clash of Civilizations fashionable, the truth is there is a Global Clash for Civilization. This is seen not only at the individual level as we discussed previously, but at the structural and military industrial level as well. It is said that Ashoka Maurya once patronised a society of nine men to ensure that destructive technologies from esoteric sciences did not enter the wrong hands. Well, the box is open, Pandora, and humanity is reaping this mutated crop.

Furthermore, as a number of individuals have remarked, colonialism never truly ended, but merely took on a new form. It has in fact expanded to now colonise yester-year colonisers in a more overt fashion, destroying culture in a covert fashion.

While the culture-less are driven by hyper-activity or a desire to embrace the fashionable, the cultured take a moment to reflect on the proper course of action and have the ability to follow through. This is why culture eats strategy for breakfast. An individual, a family, an organisation, a society at harmony will have the ability to not only devise the right strategy and implement the right tactics, but have the cultural wherewithal to execute properly.

This is why mere shows of knowledge are ultimately useless, and due to disinformation and misinformation, can even be dangerous. Institution building, team building, critical and strategic thinking, solution providing…these are what ultimately prepare individuals, citizens, societies, and civilizations for problems that face them. If you are wasting your time in dimwit digital salons that stroke unjustified egos, don’t make pretense to being civilizational saviours with IQ’s of 8 billion.

No one is ever what they seem, especially on social media. This is the value of critical thinking, and more importantly, strategic thinking. Rather than getting caught up in self-serving models and self-selecting data, you pay attention to motives and ask…

bono

For God’s sake, when all this is going on, when there are open attempts to recreate medieval colonial kingdoms not only through culture or historical apologia, or language, but even outright political division, do we have time for games of Trivial Pursuit ?

It takes teams to counter teams. But how is this possible with selfish spoiled brats who don’t even like team sports?

To restore the native way of life, native knowledge and literature must be supported.

Give patronage to Civilizational bookstores. They may not be perfect. They may have vsnl-era websites, but these publishers ensure that our common national and civilizational heritage is passed on to anglicised metro youth.

§  Chowkhambha

§  Motilal Banarsidass

§  Sri Yogi Books

§  Vedambooks.net

§  Vedicbooks.net

§ Carnatic Books

§  Exotic India Art

§  Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

§ Nag Prakashak

Spiritual Kurukshetra

This may be the most difficult aspect for most us schooled in the politico-strategic tradition. After all, Bismarck famously wrote on Blut und Eisen, not Geist. But the spiritual aspect will be crucial in the days ahead. The degeneracy we see all around us is not just a result of man’s coincidental fall into hedonism from a natural interest in pleasure. It is in fact intended as strategy to entrench a very real asuric panth that is the embodiment of the demonic. This is the danger of fixation with pagan vs abrahamic. There were ancient paganisms that worshipped the asuric, and it is foolish for Dharmikas to equate Daiva worship with Asura worship. Rejecting abrahamism is one thing, being gradually boiled into asura worship is another. Make no mistake, that is in fact what faces not only Bharatavarsha but the world itself.

Cultivating yourself also means developing other sides of yourself with hobbies. Merely watching serials or cricket or idiot bollywood movies is no way to spend all your free time. Some tv time is ok, but the rest of it, spend on developing your artistic or musical side. Pick up gardening, or a sport—a real sport—like wrestling, archery, or field hockey. It also means, not devolving to the emotional equivalent of a child. From godforsaken gameshows to stupid serials and soap operas to infantile cartoons, the modern middle class adult (young and old, male and female) has literally become infantalised through a life of idle pleasure-addling. This results in spiritual demise.

A life of pleasure-addled delusion and pain-avoiding pill-popping leads to the requiem for a dream. Don’t be dependent on drugs. Take what pharmaceuticals you absolutely need, but when possible rely on a healthy lifestyle, traditional medicine, and non-fast-food diet.

In addition, failing to join together to preserve the common interest is not only a recipe for common slavery, but indicative of a loss of character. The ability to endure pain is the sign of the statesman. It is the sign of the kshatriya (intellectual or otherwise), and that incidentally gave away Karna’s true birth. But in our era, whatever your birth caste,  if you play a role in civic affairs, if you wish to have a hand in the destiny of the nation, you must have the character to make the painful decision when it is clear that it is the right decision.

Making false equivalence with asuric paganisms will not stem the tide of abrahamism nor lead to spiritual revival.  Bharat is not supremacist—but it is certainly special. Therefore, rather than paganism uber alles, spiritual regimens will be pivotal for the spiritual warfare that will gradually make itself more apparent in the days ahead.One need not believe in the supernatural to see the very real spiritual crisis that is plaguing mankind. The human love for pleasure first begins as delusion and then concludes as misery. Purushartha is one thing, polyamory and bollyamory is another. It is again why critical thinking is so important so as to prevent careless mistakes, whether spiritual or familial.

This is the cost of being gullible, of not taking precautions, of not doing your homework,  of not focusing on action rather than sweet talk, in not thinking of both intentions and capabilities, in not asking about alternatives.  This is why we have emphasised the importance of Niti. Rule number 1 of Rajniti is Shut up and Be aware of your surroundings.

Awareness is Life“. How many make it a point to be aware? Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on me. Indians are fooled time and time again. To fail like this is not only a failure of Niti, but a failure of Dharma. After all, preservation of Dharma is the most important Dharma—everything else comes after it.

Bharat has shown the light of holistic living. It is not through pagan confederacy, but through Daiva balam that the Asuric will be defeated. It is also why as much as there may be interest in the Clash of Civilizations (which may be the case at the mohalla level) this is ultimately a Clash for Civilization. This is because in the past, foreign rule meant loss of territory, sovereignty, and dignity, but the present conflict is one that involves the loss of our very humanity itself.

If wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If health is lost, something is lost. But if character is lost, then all is lost.

Dharmachakra

Conclusion

There is much disenchantment today not only in India but across the world. Political systems are increasingly showing their problems. Nationalists are not necessarily responsive to concerns. And societies themselves are at the brink. But if you only focus on your own problems, if you only care for your community, if you only concern yourself with regional politics, if you only pay attention to national politics, how could you possibly understand what is transpiring trans-nationally?

Caught up in one’s own individual financial problems, the self-absorbed ‘citizen of the world’ can’t be bothered to actually consider the consequences for the common humanity. Easily conditioned to fall for simplistic notions such as “Clash of Civilizations”, our class clowns fail to recognise that the Dharmic War of the Kurukshetra was fundamentally about a Clash for Civilization. The preservation of Dharma necessitates not only preserving our own Civilization but seeing to it that Bharatiya Sabhyata takes up the cause of all mankind. The Lok Kalyan of Lord Krishna  is about recognising this for what it is and restoring Dharma, Rta, and Satya in its stead. For civilization is more than just the mere sum of mega-cultures in the anthropological sense.

Civilization is about ensuring mankind’s freedom by ensuring the first and noblest conquest.  For it is when man (and woman) reaches the stithapragna state of transcending all desire that he (or she) is free to experience without attachment all the joys of life. It is attachment that enslaves, and today, moha has come in the guise of prema. It is why whether it is one’s relatives, one’s caste, one’s region, or one’s digital cult of the demented, bandhutva is the bond that has prevented sinner and sinless alike from doing his Dharma.

Perhaps most disconcerting is the continuing do-nothing sanctimony of the internet hindu. Comfortably ensconsed in AC soothed flats or newly constructed upwardly mobile colonies, they believe they have the luxury of ranting and raving for another year or 6 years. There is never any plan b, because they never care to strategically plan—only scheme like myriad backbiters there since the days of the minister who betrayed Prithviraj.

The reality the current nationalist upsurge is only temporary and is not even India-specific. Open your eyes and look around .The world itself is churning all while you carp and cavil in self-loathing and self-degrading public flagellation. No the problem is not Hindus or Dharmikas in general, the problem is a selfish collection of the well-heeled and comfortably leisured who believe in coasting on yesterday’s “merit-based” examinations rather than today’s necessity-driven societal tests. Pareeksha anya yogyata anya.Exams are one thing competence is another. Do you honestly believe you have the luxury of ranting and raving in your ill-gotten luxury?

One look at the Gujarat elections alone should indicate to you just how much damage Cultural Marxism has done to a generation of youth who were inclined to vote for the perennial (and near pentagenarian) “youth candidate”—leave aside the AAP win Delhi. What happens once nationalism itself loses its appeal (after petering out from its 15-20 year course)? What will you do then? Do you think a generation of good for nothings will pick up the mantle once you prepare for the semi-retirement of advanced middle age or senile dotage? No, you dotard. You must act now.

1.Understand macro-politics before you open your trap

2.Recognise that any leader can only do so much and focus on setting the culture right to set the politics right

3.Make yourself useful. If the other side itself is talking about the coming Kurukshetra, do you think you can just sit around giving gyaan? This is the case not only in India but around the world.

This is the reality dharmikas must face. They must recognise that the government—any government—may not educate their kids correctly on culture & history. So who will? A government is but an administrative structure that takes in political talent and churns out bureaucrats. If government cannot create the societal change you are looking for, then it is up to civil society. As one yester-year political talent once said “In a democracy, yatha praja tatha raja”. What happened to him after he got into government?

quote-character-in-the-long-run-is-the-decisive-factor-in-the-life-of-an-individual-and-of-nations-theodore-roosevelt-158026

Yet another thread, yet another impuissant digital salon, will do diddly squat. Social media itself will only continue to and suddenly get even more adverse to your cause. Rather than bring on board, train, and mentor directionless youth, most are content to shriek like banshees over 2G this and demonitisation that. If you don’t understand the macro-politics you don’t know what you are talking about.

So rather than waste what precious time is still left join together in teams to begin training the next generation. Self-celebratory conclaves that look for “civilisational” ways to further the cultural marxist agenda only end up shooting us in the foot. After all, the goal is global monoculture, international diplomats as internal & national leaders are all but waiting in the wings—freshly powdered, conditionered, and shampoo’d.

But the bulk of the Internet Hindu crowd continues in its storied tradition of proving its general jealous and self-defeating uselessness. If your strategy to save civilization is do yoo liffft bwro?, perhaps a smaller box of crayons (and undies) is more your speed (steroids and all after all…).

teddy&character

Physical fitness and self-defence is important—make no mistake. But this must be done in conjunction with mental exercise. Valour, “virility”, and vim & vigour may be all well and good, but they will not alone a leader make, let alone guarantee victory.

Know yourself. Know your enemy and you will be victorious in a hundred battles.

This is the importance of the Politico-strategic.It cannot be conducted by court eunuchs and debauched pseudo-dharmics or militating mimic (half) men. It can only be done by those who understand that statecraft, politics, and strategy are all under the purview of those who understand kshatriyata. Whatever your jati, it is this varna dharma that serves as lead function in the polity of any society. Religio-spiritual leadership provides spiritual advice, but the heavy lifting must be done by those who not only read—but implement. Vision, implementation, accountability, these are the indices of leadership. These require not only upadesh, but protection of the desh, from the myriad threats that are emerging both within and without.

That is also the danger of  binary-ism, which includes not only Capitalism vs Communism, but also Monotheism vs Polytheism or Abrahamism vs Paganism. If you get caught up in the black vs white rather than the grey, you miss the gradations on the Kurukshetra.

It also means not falling for foreign fraudacharyas who are preparing to implement the ultimate pizza effect with adharmic institutions and immoral consequences. It means prioritising the native over the foreign, and when possible, small business over big business. Development too must be Dharmic.

Prioritise business to small business. So what if you might pay a few paise more. So what if the other guys have an app. Like it or not, trust is a key part of the commercial relationship. Giant mega-corporations and malls may look slick and shiny, but it’s small and medium enterprise that employs the most people. Yes, there are crooks who do things like adulterate milk, but how does that compare with the plastic and cadmium rice of corporations in India’s neighbour to the east?

Above all, Dharmic Development rejects plunder. Plunder of natural resources, plunder of human life and dignity, and plunder of our heritage.

Ironically enough, the reader might be flummoxed to realize that Bastiat’s  critique above was actually centered on socialists, but he too acknowledged the rich man’s plunder [5]. As one can see today, capitalists and socialists are two sides of the same coin, only a different “moral” code: one for the bureaucrat and the other for the banker.

Whether private sector or public sector, it is greed which is destroying the world.

AADHAR, demonitisation, Artificial Intelligence, singularity, all are not taking place inside a vacuum but with broader purpose moving forward. Many have spoken about it. Some are discredited, some are diversionary, but some have also…

The economic and political naturally lead into the military. Have you stopped to consider what is in fact ahead? China is at the forefront of manipulating DNA to create a new class of superhumans. How does society respond to such unethical scientific quests nominally to prevent dysgenics, but in actuality to apply towards strategic purpose?

Therefore, rather than perennially obsess about leaderless instrumentalities it becomes important to understand who is running the show and to not just go by their brand name, but to understand what agenda they are actually pushing forward.

Put aside personal ambition & focus on the National Need.

The days ahead will be tall and terrible. So much so that even the heretofore spoiled and brattish will wake up and be shaken from shirking obligation. While they will separate the boys from the men, but they will also make men, real men.

HindiDiChadar
Hindi di Chadar

For once in your lives, recognise we’re all in this together. Emotional discipline, cultured behaviour, professional competence, personal character, all these qualities, all this background literature was composed so that the one thing you truly lacked was the one thing you’d finally recognise you sorely needed: the right Attitude.

The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next.

Gobind Singhji, Shivaji, aur Pratap

It is to prepare you for the Modern Kurukshetra that we have written all these articles:

  1. [Ram Raj] was not Built in a Day
  2. Selfishness: The Real Root of All Evil
  3. Are We a Serious People?
  4. Indians are Talkers not Doers
  5. Problem of Indians: Unrepentant Stupidity
  6. Origins of Indian Stupidity
  7. Culture: The Cure for Stupidity
  8. What is Needed for a Civilizational Revival
  9. Niti: The Practical Principles of Life
  10. The Dharma of Collaboration
  11. Why are Indians so Gullible?
  12. Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society
  13. The Global Crisis of Character
  14. Why Character is so Important
  15. Rebuilding the National Character
  16. The ‘Modern’ Hindu is a Spoiled Brat
  17. Exigencies of the Politico-Strategic
  18. Grow Up, Bharatiyas

Since the hour is now late and time now sparse, we have drawn from many of them to compile this compendium article for those who lead hectic lives.

quote-in-war-three-quarters-turns-on-personal-character-and-relations-the-balance-of-manpower-napoleon-bonaparte-105-56-97

Culture breeds Character. And that is why Culture is banned in the Brave New World.

And ultimately, it is why Culture is at the Core of the Modern Kurukshetra. If cultural degeneracy and depravity are being spread the world over it is because they make possible the pleasureful slavery that is in store for those who choose the easy way out.

Medieval India faced tremendous civilizational danger from barbaric invaders, but it was always able to recover because its culture essence could live to fight another day. But now this is being destroyed root and branch courtesy court restrictions on Diwali and cultural marxism in the media leading to smut in mainstream celluloid.

It is in fact here that the great danger lies. Pop Culture cannot educate our youth, yet it is Pop Culture that is corroding the standards of morality the world over. “The root of National Honour is in National Morality”.

That is why an interdisciplinary response is required to take on a multimedia, and indeed, multi-dimensional assault. It is culture first and foremost that we must defend. And the root of our Culture is Dharma. For it is only when the Cultural Dharma, the Common Dharma, the Saamaanya Dharma is correctly calibrated and revived that Virtue can be restored around the world.

References:
  1. Vidura Niti
  2. Sukra Niti
  3. Malhotra, Rajiv. Sulekha. 2002. http://creative.sulekha.com/the-axis-of-neocolonialism_103313_blog
  4. Swaminathan, Gurumurthy. Economics of Bahuka and Greenspan. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/economics-of-bahuka-and-greenspan/article2598383.ece
  5. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media.
  6. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World.

Polyamory is Not Polygamy

Recently a particular post courtesy the degenerate left caused something of a hullaballo in yon hallowed digital halls of Internet Hindus. While  Sringara topics are nothing new on ICP, perhaps nothing heralds the Death of Romance more than polyamory.

Many of challenges facing Indic society (and indeed World Society) today are being attributed to irresponsible or unromantic or “unperforming” men. But the reality is it takes two hands to clap. Although we have been very empathetic to the plight of the modern woman, as seen in this article explaining Why Gentlemen Matter (useful for redpill champions), both modern men AND modern women are responsible for the current state of things. Whether modernity (or post-modernity) is itself the issue is another matter, but at the root of this is Selfishness.

It is this selfishness that is preyed upon by marketers the world over. Contrary to the “performance” theory causing certain phenomena, it is the role of marketing and image-shaping. This too is a type of psywar. After all, what better way to break morale than from within. But defeatism achieves nothing. Even fighting only the enemy you wish, achieves nothing. It’s only when you understand that what faces your civilization in fact faces the entire world, that you begin to understand why degeneracy such as polyamory (or bollywood amory) is promoted to begin with. A polygamous past (polygyny and polandry) is reinterpreted to suit exigencies of the present. No society better represented the cesspool of social engineering than the Soviet Union.

It is also why Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society. But the response to this cannot be promotion of adharmic Nazi eugenics. As we’ve adduced evidence here, Fascism is just Socialism for Nationalists, resulting in social engineering again. Therefore, the true traditionalist rejects these Western constructs and paradigms, and studies his own tradition through its own lens. This means understanding exactly why the Puranas had such gender-bending stories (but don’t promote transgenderism) and why Polyandry and Polygamy could be practiced without promoting Polyamory.

Readers, please note: None of this is to encourage polyandry or polygyny, but to explain why they existed and were accepted in previous eras—but are not necessarily the ideal, and were certainly not polyamory. The simple reason why polygamy or even remarriage existed in previous times is not all souls are at the level of selflessness of Sita & Rama. Most “modern” people—whatever they may protest— do not even have control over their loins let alone their hearts. Not all individuals are spiritually evolved enough to only take one spouse in a life. Rather than feeling a need to serve a spouse (yes, this applies to both spouses…), most take a spouse to serve a need…and especially a feeling. But that isn’t a basis to change the definitions of Dharma, based on devas (lower case d) or even Draupadi. We must consider the Devas (capital D, i.e. the Trimurthi).

Brahma married only Sarasvati, Vishnu only Lakshmi, & even Shiva only married Parvati upon realizing she was the reincarnated form of his first wife Sati. Brahma did not “marry his daughter” Sarasvati, but married his other half. Being the Creator, he had the dilemma of having to create her physical form from his mind. But his story is echoed by the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad where the Supreme Being has to divide itself into halves—resulting in a man and women in eternal embrace.

Comparisons to Krishna or Rajas or rich merchants of previous eras ignores the fact that the vast majority of Hindu men were permitted to take only 1 wife (with a second only permitted if the first were barren). Kings and rich merchants are not always spiritual beings, and as for the case of Krishna, he had to marry all the women who did tapas to gain a husband “like Rama”. Hence Vishnu had to marry them in a future avatar to fulfill their boons. Other cases only saw multiple wives only when some unfortunate girl could not find a husband. Maharana Pratap married many wives, not a few of whom wished to be rescued from the clutches of Mughals. Through him, they had the protection of a valiant King.

maharanapratap

As for the Pandavas, they are neither here nor there, because these cases of polyandry exist/existed for a specific necessity. In the case of the Pandavas, it was because of Draupadi’s previous request for the boon of the perfect husband (no such man exists) and her desire for her husband in a previous life to make love to her in 5 different physical forms (resulting in a curse). Finally, there is the additional fact that the Pandavas themselves were so loyal to each other (with none of the younger 4 desiring his own kingdom) because all were amsa-avataras of Indra himself. Though born to different Devas, they were all the same soul (which is why they acted in such unison). Draupadi herself was Indra’s wife Sachi—and there is even a tradition showing the spiritual granularity of it all that states that when each husband sired a son on Draupadi, it was only that corresponding portion of Sachi’s soul which was activated in Draupadi at that time.

Even the case of the sons of Dasaratha is instructive. While traditionally we hear that Rama was Vishnu, Lakshmana was Adi Sesha, and Bharat and Shatrughna Sudarsana and Panchajanya respectively, Valmiki simply states that Mahavishnu divided himself into four portions, with Lakshmi ostensibly doing the same. Rama was naturally the largest portion (1/2), Lakshmana (1/4) and Bharata and Shatrughna (1/8 each), and marrying their corresponding portions of Lakshmi (i.e. Sita, Urmila, Mandavi, & Shrutakeerthi).

Simple minded arguments from simple minds such as this one don’t give license to deprecate or destroy traditional morality. If you do not want to live a certain traditional way in ‘modern society’—that is fine. But do not call it “dharmic” saying “traditional morality is Victorian”. Nor should the shameless pedants justifying “alternative lifestyles” as ok’d by dharmasastra be taken for “acharyas” when they are merely sellout poets lusting for lucre. Could all these live under the auspices of a “Dharmic society”—sure. But also remember, with the freedom of expression also comes the freedom of association…

Regardless, rather than gender defining the relationship—it is the relationship which necessitates the defining of gender. It is why we often find male gods with a female form (Vishnu as Mohini) and female gods with a male form. The soul itself carries no gender. When the soul divides into halves, gender becomes necessary for a romantic relationship to take place—real romance reaches its peak with the physical potential for a couple to conceive a child. But gender alone can’t become the basis for limiting someone or her freedom. Trust doesn’t mean putting someone in a box or cage (or in chains or chastity belts). Trust means setting someone free—because you know no matter where they are, what they’re doing, or whom they’re interacting with, that person will never betray you—physically or emotionally or spiritually. Rather than freedom being equated to polyamory, it is in monogamy that there is true freedom (the freedom to love as deeply as you please in perfect security, rather than the conditions placed on single serving “love” of constant insecurity—seen in polyamory).

Leave aside monogamy for a second, mono-amory (when genuine) doesn’t ask the question “did he love his first wife more?” let alone “first girlfriend or current mistress”.  Polyamory doesn’t solve the problem of someone you romantically love dearly, loving someone else more than you. After all, if someone has to be rescued or someone needs a kidney—whom will it be? This is the question polyamory proponents never cover…That this concept of “modern romance” could even be considered “real romance” only shows just how far the language and the culture has fallen. When definitions change, society approaches its downfall. Real freedom is not experiencing every fleeting desire…

That is why Acharya Chanakya writes

Sukhasya moolam dharmah Dharmasya moolamarthah |

Arthasya moolam rajyam Rajasya moolam indriyavijayam ||

The Root of Happiness is Dharma. The root of Dharma is Artha. The Root of Artha is Rajyam [Power]. The root of Power is Victory over the Senses [1,129]

If someone can be replaced—was it really love at all? This is something Modern Girls need to think about.The question is whether we as human beings prove ourselves worthy of trust—even when faced with the highest of temptations. That is the barrier that all couples face and must ultimately overcome.

If the freedom of women has waxed and waned over the ages, it is because men must bear fault for most of it—but not all of it. The reality is, cheaters are not always men, and as Tolstoy explored in Anna Karenina, good men are often punished for their unconditional love (and no ladies, they didn’t make you do it). Being badgered over tfr may be irritating, but it doesn’t justify slandering your own like this shalya did (with clinical precision). Attributing certain social phenomena to such things is a sign either of stupidity or complicity—or probably both. But the reality is much simpler: in a time when doing bad feels good, chasing after what is forbidden becomes popular. And this applies to boys and girls brought up in any religion. They chase after what they are forbidden to have. And it works both ways only with differing consequences.

This also shows the importance of not losing the narrative on Love. Contrary to twenty-something anime fanbois, writing on Romantic Love or showcasing it (in Dharmic context) is not “sybaritic nonsense“, but rather an intelligent rejection of Bollywood. Do a check on who were the Action Heroes in the 90s & who were the Romantic Heroes in the 90s, and you’ll have your answer on the psychology behind this. If you leave space uncontested, don’t be surprised if you start losing it. But winning it doesn’t occur through rhetoric or bravado, but in defeating the strategy. The complete man is both warrior & lover.

Main Yoddha Bhi Hoon!

The question for modern women is whether they are indeed worthy of the the love they claim to seek, for the suffering of both men and women are linked to the nature of their behaviour.  Most men are content to sink to the bottom of uncommitted barrel (hence MGTOW). Unjust divorce laws and 498-A did not occur in a vacuum, and are the karmic result of man’s unjust treatment of woman throughout the ages. But as one can see from the more equitable rules of the Vedic period—where women had much more freedom—all too many ladies later were no longer as trustworthy, resulting in their later societal restriction. This is not a justification, but an explanation of the strict moral standards of a different time.

The times and laws have obviously changed, even the letter of Dharmashastra (hence the differing Dharmasutras), but the Principle remains the same. If the illimitable Shiva-Shakti is the goal, then women too cannot always blame men (however deserving)  for their illimitable pigheaded chauvinism, as it is the standard of Shiva’s wife Sati that inspired trust and freedom in the first place. No self-respecting man will ever consent to be cucked or even chumped. The love women feel they are born to give, men reciprocate (assuming they ever do so) only after careful consideration and complete trust. If women wish to gain that trust, they must prove worthy of it. It is true that much of the selfishness of men is inborn or due to baser instincts. But much of it is also due to the first or second-hand experience in the school of hardknocks.

Ending hypocrisy is indeed a two way street. If women are fed up with Neanderthals, to gain the evolved men they want in the post-modern era, they need to first reject the inner Carrie Bradshaw. That is the difference between Surpanakha and Shakti (the true Divine Feminine). When this is the case, men no longer need worry of humiliation and are no longer petty and small-minded about helping a woman achieve her full potential. Because what matters then is not capabilities, but intentions. All this starts first with character. And the foundation of good character is Achara.

There are of course still more polyamory advocates who argue “character be damned!”. For these degenerates, it is the height of “sophistication” to be able to love beyond number (or beyond species!) or beyond gender—be it the 3 genders one finds in many languages classified as “Indo-European” or the new “genders” being invented every day by SJW’s. But neuter gender perfectly aligns with the concept of atman (which has no gender). And the true beauty of love is found in the complementary male-female relationship. Some sages even speak of couples exchanging genders in the peaks of ecstasy out of love for each other, or each one becoming both. But none of this is meant to justify transgenderism or polyamory or who knows what. Rather, it’s meant to show the distinction between consciousness and matter. When we take material form,  it comes with its own rules. A soul splits into a male half and a female half per the Upanishads itself.

And when material form is taken,we must observe the rules of material existence: Dharma.

To give another analogy: As Rama wished to show his appreciation for Lakshmana’s exemplary service as younger brother by being Balarama’s younger brother his next life, would it be so surprising that the same Vishnu might want to show his love for Lakshmi’s life as Sita by repaying this devotion in a future life…hence a possible Mohini avatar? All this may be too gender bending for our 1 dimensional binary thinkers, but it does begin to explain how traditional morality can be at harmony with the gender transcending nature of Divine illimitability.

It also explains why “indologists” and “mythologists” can’t create perverted readings of the Sacred Puranas to misinterpret Dharmasastra or question gender as a biological reality (which it is). If you want to learn the correct interpretation of our Dharmic culture and religion, learn from actual Dharmacharyas…not online simulacra. Consciousness may be illimitable and without form, but matter comes with its own rules when we take form.

sitaram

Male – Female. Husband – Wife. Sita – Ram

Contrary to the policy of hippies, this transcending of gender and “everything being maya” doesn’t mean all the rules go out the door. It simply means that mithya and maya come with their own rules that have to be observed to prevent matsya nyaya. Loving “everyone” doesn’t mean you’re actually loving more. You are merely lusting more while loving less and less. If you romantically love everybody, then you truly love nobody. Nobody is responsible for you and you are responsible for nobody. As in the novel Brave New World, if someone dies, people merely pop a few soma pills, and the party goes on….”zip, zip”. [3, ]

Polyamory is a stepping stone to the cementing of every degeneracy known to man. Even promiscuity goes from being voluntary to forced. Even the sacred word “mother” becomes profane. Childbearing is seen as dirty, and pleasure the highest good (when in fact, it is a means of control). After all, if you can’t bear pain, then you will prefer a pleasant slavery.

Funny how one must absolutely take classes to “learn how to properly appreciate wine”, but the same cannot be done to properly appreciate life!—especially married life! Which is more important: pairing the right wine with the right food?—or pairing the right female with the right male? It seems ‘modern’ Hindus aren’t the only ones with their priorities out of whack.

That modern science can do “wonders” isn’t license for licentiousnessAll of this is not to judge many modern Indians (women and men alike), who have had a number of partners (not at the same time) or even a number of spouses. It’s to explain why your situation is different from these shameless polyamory advocates who are in effect saying “anything goes”. Draupadi was married due to special circumstances—and married to each of those men. Women who have had multiple lovers or husbands over time for whatever reason don’t amount to Anais Nin. Life isn’t always simple and not every woman (or man) is lucky in love (though it does explain why arranged marriage with consent has some logic to it). The point isn’t to judge those of you who were unlucky (or perhaps were confused by society and changing social standards), but to reassert what the traditional standards are in the first place. If even a righteous brahmana like Charudatta married a courtesan like Vasantasena, the latter had to reject all other men and show herself of deserving of such a good man. And of course, as the Valmiki Ramayana explains, even Rama had to show himself worthy of Sita by stringing the divine bow of Shiva.

Finally, one cannot simply point to custom—be it history polygyny among Rajputs or polyandry among Paharis to justify your carnality. The case of polygyny has been explained, and as for the Paharis (some communities among them at least), it’s understandable if skewed gender ratios often result in society adapting to certain circumstances. But that is why the ultimate guide for any society isn’t custom or ritual or tradition, but Dharma (virtue). It is not that custom or ritual or tradition do not matter, only whatever of these might be Dharma in a given circumstance or Yuga, may no longer be when the circumstances change. It is also why Dharma is not rooted in a frozen rna or Rta. Rather, Dharma upholds the moral order Rta which is ultimately the expression of Truth (Satya). That is why truth—rather than a given order—must triumph. This is because it allows us to understand the the reality of a given situation or context, and provide guidance to ensure harmony within it.

We get in life what we deserve. It may be difficult to reconcile traditional morality with divine illimitability (or for that matter, modern degeneracy), but the reality is, it is possible. Just as men have Nara Dharma, there is a Dharma for Naari too. For those who arrogate the right to interpret our sacred texts to justify their unsacred agendas, even if you don’t worship the Divine Feminine, it is important to understand how it drives the internal logic of Dharma. Shakti worship when correctly done, makes women more feminine but also makes men more masculine. By understanding the greatness of the female, a male recognises the need for his own qualities, which then resonate even  more.

Even if a man refuses to believe in “shakti”, the concept reminds Dharmic men that simply because women take on a more delicate and vulnerable form does not give license for physically stronger men to become tyrants. Whatever a particular set of circumstances may demand for harmony, She is his equal half. Shakti is the reminder that if man does not behave properly with Durga, he will get Kaali. But ladies, remember too, that Kaali sits astride the corpse of Shiva. The inauspicious form that Kaali takes does not justify becoming the very selfish and asuric forces Kaali is meant to devour.

Polyamory is not love, but rather, only license to lust. If you wish to degrade yourself in such degenerate definitions as “polyamory”—that is your business. Just don’t compare it with polyandry (which comes with marital duties) or polgyny—and certainly do not call it “Dharma”.

DharmaMandir

References:
  1. Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
  2. Gurumurthy, Swaminathan http://vskkerala.com/society-was-the-source-of-knowledge-for-deendayalji-s-gurumurthy/
  3. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper. 2006

Book Review: Being and Becoming

Being and Becoming‘ is the title of a contemporary fiction novel by Indian-American author Phalgun Prativadi. Set in the background of the US healthcare industry, the story is about a gifted physician-researcher, Dr. Arya Krish, who is drawn into a battle with a powerful and manipulative giant medical business group, Alpha Corp. You can read the synopsis and excerpts on the book website. The storyline connects two cities, Washington DC, where the main protagonist resides and where his office at Beacon Medical Institute is located, and Bengaluru, which is an HQ for managing his philanthropic projects in India.  The plot unfolds into an escalating chess-like tussle between the shadowy Alpha Corp and Krish, culminating in a fascinating end-game in the final chapter.

The author, with his first-hand knowledge of the US healthcare industry, is able to expertly communicate key aspects of the ongoing clash in the US today between medical care professionals and their patients versus the combined influence of big-hospitals, big-pharma, big-insurance, and big-lobbying (it is Washington DC after all). The author notes that “Ultimately, the insurance company got to decide what happens to the patient. It was an insidious takeover, corrupting the politicians in their favor, and desensitizing the public to their blatant power grab. And, the norm was being declined a certain treatment, facility, or medicine because the insurance company decided it wasn’t worth paying for, while at the same time influencing how much the damn thing costs!“.

Another takeaway is the insightful observation about the approach followed by medical residents (physicians-in-training):these physicians in training all wound up conforming to a single arbitrary but consistent and effective mode of operation. Lately, it seemed to him that they all looked and sounded the same, that none of their individuality came through in their behavior or interactions.” Some may contrast this efficient monoculture backed by first rate infrastructure in the US, with the excellent clinical ability, patient-history taking and examination skills, and diverse methods adopted by Indian doctors to overcome the limitations of equipment shortage.

It is interesting to note the use of a few Sanskrit non-translatables such as Shakti. Introducing a few more would have been handy, but the decision is understandable given the constraints and focus of this genre.

Being and Becoming

As Dr. Krish plots his fightback against Alpha Corp, a manthana emerges within Dr. Arya Krish as he introspects and attempts to reconcile his ‘being’ with what he was ‘becoming’ in this process.  Dr. Prativadi has addressed this inner conflict from a mostly Indic perspective.  This ICP post introduces us to the literary theory and dramatics within classical Indic Literature.  This exploration of inner-space within the novel is refreshing and different from the usual fare, where such discussions tend to get intellectualized using western philosophy and simplistic two-valued logic. The West has studied the being-becoming conundrum by building upon the ideas developed in Ancient Greece by thinkers like Plato, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and others. Such works resolve the issue in the favor of one position or the other, or propose an uneasy and synthetic unity [2] between such opposing poles. In any case, the anxiety latent in this conflict never really goes away.

Such dualities exist all around us. For example, in India, we often hear the phrase “Nation comes first whereas Religion is personal and comes next, and practiced inside the home“. This is taken as a positive way of ‘managing’ diversity, whereas in reality, it admits to a potentially irreconcilable conflict between organized religion and one’s duty to their nation, and that one can at best achieve a compromise without ever resolving the resultant anxiety. Similarly, it is not uncommon for western STEM professionals to be ‘scientists’ inside the lab, while embracing religious or atheistic dogma outside it, again manufacturing a tense unity between two separately independent worlds.  Such a synthesized unity is prone to fissure. On the other hand, this is a non-issue for the diverse dharma traditions of India [2]. Following a dharmic path naturally and always serves the nation as well as science in the most genuine manner.

In India, such pairs of opposites have received the attention of Rishis since the earliest of times and their resolution results in a harmony that rids us of such anxiety. In his book ‘Being Different’ [2], Rajiv Malhotra remarks:

in dharma traditions, integral unity can be discovered and experienced through spiritual practices such as yoga. Since both ‘exterior’ and ‘interior’, body and mind, spirit and matter, individual and collective, are mere manifestations or aspects of an integral whole, it becomes natural to start the quest for ultimate truth using what is at hand, namely the embodied self. Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the Isha Upanishad explains nine pairs of opposites and how they are resolved within the integral unity”.

Thus, the Indic solution to this challenge radically differs from the western and embraces an integral rather than a synthetic unity. For example, Sri Aurobindo writes on ‘Being and Becoming’ [3]:

Everything depends on what we see, how we look at existence in our soul’s view of things Being and Becoming, One and Many are both true and are both the same thing: Being is one, Becomings are many; but this simply means that all Becomings are one Being who places Himself variously in the phenomenal movement of His consciousness. We have to see the One Being, but we have not to cease to see the many Becomings, for they exist and are included in Brahman’s view of Himself. Only, we must see with knowledge and not with ignorance…”

On the whole, I enjoyed reading the book, which is the author’s first. The author has skillfully narrated an interesting story without making it a long read, and the plot moves forward briskly. To learn more about the novel and purchase it, please visit the book website. It is also available on Amazon and other retailers.

It is an exciting time to be a reader. There is a new generation of Indian writers who are grounded in India’s deep culture, which allows them to explore the world using an Indic lens and freely express themselves based on their own, authentic Indian experience.

About the Author

Phalgun Prativadi, M. D., is a practicing physician in the United States. He grew up in Maryland and graduated from Penn State, and is currently an infectious diseases physician in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has previously authored articles for websites such as Hinduism Today. ‘Being and Becoming’ is his first full-length novel, and he hopes to continue the story in the future.

Click here to Buy this Book!

References:
  1. Phalgun Prativadi. Being and Becoming. Dog Ear Publishing. Kindle Edition. 2016.
  2. Rajiv Malhotra. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Harper Collins. 2011.
  3. The Collected Works of Sri, Aurobindo: Isha Upanishad, Vol. 17. 2003.

Classical Indic Art I: Silpa Sastra

Introduction

Art & Architecture is an essential aspect of any civilization. The notion of cultured living itself brings to mind not only material standards but also artistic ones as well. What does a civilization hold dear? What is the nature of its aesthetic? What is considered art and what is considered kitsch? All these things are determined by its fundamental approach to the fine arts.

In contrast to modern and post-modern society, the Indic approach to the fine arts is rooted in the Dharmic:

Padmapani, Ajanta, Maharashtra

In India the cultural chain is never broken. The cardinal truths of life and conduct as incorporated in the Vedas in their characteristic style and symbolism also handed down in the Puranas, though the outward appearance seemed different. [2, 27]

An oft-cited critique of Indian art and iconography is that it is often “erotic” or even “grotesque”. Many foreigners (and foreign directed) often find it difficult to appreciate Indian art. Part of it is of course due to conditioned & close-minded bigotry, as the beauty of Ajanta Paintings should be obvious to anyone with sight, but part of it is also due to lack of sophistication. While Greco-Roman and neo-classical European art is often (rightly) praised for its outward beauty, clumsy comparisons with Indic art frequently ignore the aim of art itself.

As such, any aesthete or connoisseur should have the requisite training to understand what it is they are in fact experiencing. While some Indic art is obviously attractive and magnetic for obvious reasons, other pieces remain compelling in ways only connoisseurs (sahrdayas) can properly understand.

Our previous article on Sthaapatya Veda introduced the upaveda that includes Vaastu, Silpa, and Chitra within its category. In an interesting way, each sub-category is inclusive of the succeeding ones. Vaastu in general refers to Architecture, but this naturally necessitates an understanding of Sculpture and Painting. Similarly, Sculpture in general refers to sculpture in particular, but naturally necessitates an understanding of painting. One can therefore see that rather than an unrelated collection of alienated arts, there is a singular Integral Unity that pervades each of these. Like Indra’s Net, each one comes to reflect the other, while possessing its own individuality. Put another way, much like the famed matryoshka doll of Russia, each subject area contains a smaller subset within it.

As such, terminology is another area of importance. After all, words don’t often translate precisely. Often, a singular art or subject area becomes synonymous with an entire branch of knowledge. Just as Soopa Sastra represents Cuisine, just as Arthasastra represents Statecraft, just as Dhanur Veda represents the Military Arts, and just as Gandharva Veda represents the Performance Arts, so too does Silpa Sastra represent the Fine Arts.

Architecture and Sculpture in India are very intimately related, the latter is rather hand-maid of the former.” [3, 209] Though often restricted only to Sculpture or image-making (pratima-kalaa), Silpa represents the Fine Arts in general, including Sculpture, but also Painting (Chitra), Pottery (Kumbhakalaa), Drawing (alekhya) & other forms of fashioning.

Chakresvari statue, Dilwara temple, Rajasthan

Terminology

  • Silpa Sastra—Sculpture, Iconography, and Fine Arts in general
  • Silpasaala—Art house
  • Silpin—Sculptor, Iconographer, and Artist in general
  • Sila—Stone
  • Rupa—Form
  • Rupakaara—Sculptor or fashioner of forms
  • Murthi—Religious Statuary
  • Prathima kalaa—Iconography/Image formation
  • Prathima—Image/statuary
  • Svadhiti—Chisel
  • Mudgara—Hammer
  • Phalaka—Wood
  • Takshana—Carpentry
  • Takshaka/Vardhaki—Carpenter
  • Alekhya—Drawing & Sketching
  • Lekhaneem—Pen
  • Chitrakalaa—Painting
  • Chitrakaara—Painter
  • Chitra lekhana/varthika—Paintbrush
  • Chitra-bhumi-bandhana—Canvas
  • Laavanya— Delineation of Beauty
  • Mudras—Hand gesture or Poses
  • Sutragrahi—Engineer/overseer
  • Kumbha kalaa—Pottery
  • Kumbhakaara—Potter
  • Maalakaara—Garland Maker
  • Sankhakaara—Conch Maker
  • Kabindaka—Weaver
  • Karmakaara—Blacksmith
  • Svarnakaara—Goldsmith
  • Sphatika—Crystal
  • Loha—Metal
  • Suvarna—Gold
  • Rajatha—Silver
  • Thaamra—Copper
  • Paittala—Brass
  • Kaamsya—Bell-metal
  • Aayas—Iron
  • Saisaka—Lead
  • Gaja-dhantha—Ivory
  • Kadi-karkaraa—Brick & Mortar
  • Thaalamana—System of measurement
  • Thaala—Measure
Fine Arts
Reconstruction of the Iconic Ajanta Cave Painting, “Satavahana Princess”

As previously mentioned, though primarily associated with sculpture, “Silpa may be said to mean all fine arts and crafts” [1, xxiv]. Therefore, to understand the Indic Approach to the Fine Arts, it is important to first fathom what a Fine Art is:

A fine art presupposes the arousal of an aesthetic experience and aesthetic experience is based on the sentiments, the Rasas and Rasadrstis. According to Hindu view of Poetics and Dramatics as well as the science of Fine Arts, an aesthetic experience is not only a pleasure to the senses, it is not only toning up of heart and mind, it is something more, rather much more. It is elevating the soul. That is the spiritual background and it is in accordance with this fundamental tenet of aestheticity in India that writers on Aesthetics have likened an a[e]sthetic experience to the ex-perience aroused in Brahma-Realization-‘Brahmananda-svada-sahodarah’.“[2,47]

There are some who may protest the association of singular Silpa with Fine Arts in general. They will putatively point to the chatusasti-kalaa, or famed 64 Arts of Ancient India. But this too is subject to some degree of controversy. While the Classical Saastric 64 are well-known, Jain literature lists 72 and Yasodhara, an important commentator on Vatsyayana, listed as many as 512. [1, xxiii] In light of this, which number is correct?

It is said that Bharata muni himself resolved a similar controversy at the outset. Pointing out the differences between Arts & Crafts vs Fine Arts, he notes that the “art of love” or the “art of kissing” is obviously distinct from the Fine Arts (Silpa) or the Performance Arts (Gandharva). Therefore, the 64 Arts refer to the basic arts and crafts that eligible men and women should be expected to learn. A fine artist, that is, an exemplar of the aesthetics, was not a mere crafter of kalaa, but a steward of silpa. As such, kalaa refers to arts & crafts, Silpa refers to Fine Arts, and Gandharva refers to the Performance Arts. While these categories are obviously not mutually exclusive (as practitioners of chitra-kavya know all too well), this clarification will elucidate what differentiates them, furthering proper understanding in the process.

Theoretical Foundations

The theoretical foundations of the Fine Arts are of course rooted in Sthaapatya Veda. Nevertheless, a deeper dive is necessary before one can begin to evaluate key concepts.

The Philosophical Sources are of course obvious. As Sthaapatya Veda emerges from the Atharva Veda, it is only natural that Vedic philosophy would be foundation to the native Fine Arts of Bharatavarsha. Beyond that, however, are a number of key literary sources that serve as authorities guiding Silpis and Alankara Sastris to this day.

Of all the names in Sculpture and Iconography, it is Visvakarma who remains the most prominent. The Agni Purana refers to him as the creator of a thousand Silpas (Arts). Interestingly, he is said to have 9 sons called the Silpakaarinah. These were Malakaara, Karmakaara, Sankhakaara, Kabindaka, Kumbhakaara, Kamsakaara, Sutradhaara, Chitrakaara, and Svarnakaara. [1,xxi]

Chennakesava Temple, Belur, Karnataka

Indian Iconography is very vast. There are three principal sects: Brahmana, Bauddha and Jaina which have given rise to an innumerable host of Icons and Sculptures both in Indian monu-ments and our Silpasastras. [3, 209]

“Iconographical literature may be divided into the following sub-divisions:

1.Puranas 2.Agamas 3.Tantras 4.Silpa-sastras 5.Pratishta-paddatis 6.Dhyanas 7.Sadhanas”

[2,50]

While the Puranas are seminal to any study of Silpa, the Agamas provide technical details regarding the installation of various murthis, etc.

Among the prominent texts exclusively on Silpa is the Agastya-Sakaladhikara. Sakala is said to mean the word ‘icon’. [2, 59] Nevertheless, due to the overlap of Vaastu and Silpa, many texts mentioned in Sthaapatya Veda would be common to both. The Maanasaara devotes 20 chapters to sculpture, while Kasyapiya-Amsumad-bheda dedicates 39. [2,60]

Above all, however, are the many treatises that have come down to us simply as “Silpa Sastra”. Due to widespread destruction and loss of precious heritage in the North, most of the surviving manuscripts come to us from the South. Nevertheless, there is one recension of Silpa Sastra which comes to us from Odisha. It is Eastern India, therefore, that retains much of the native North, be it in dance (Odissi) or in this case, Silpa Sastra. Notably, there are 30 families of silpins in Puri. [1, i] The famed temple of Jagannatha unsurprisingly gives patronage to these artisans of ancient practice.

As for Personalities, there are numerous names cited as authorities on Silpa Sastra. These include numerous Vedic Rishis, but also many others, such as Utpala and Nagnajit. Some are legendary, others are ancient, and still others, such as Srikumara are more recent. This court silpin of Deva Narayana (ruler of North Travancore) lived at the end of the 16th century and was considered a great authority on Silpa Sastra via his Silpa Ratna. [2, 61]

While traditionally there two main schools, the Northern Nagara, and the Southern Dravida, history lends credence to more. The Great King Paramara Bhoja of Dhar was said to have developed a composite all India Hindu style. D.N.Shukla writes that this evolved out of the Lata style of the Gurjara School. The Chalukyas of Karnataka are said to have evolved a fourth school, which in turn influenced regions such as Warangal.

Alternatingly, more recent attempts to categorise the various schools of ancient art list Amaravati, Mathura, Gandhara, & Odisha as the main schools. These however do not conform to descriptions of various treatises, and the most up-to-date scholarship in fact considers Gandhara to be an outgrowth of Amaravati. Irrespective, Bhoja’s Samarangana-sutradhara was a great work of Vaastu, and in turn, Silpa. If it leans to the northern Nagara Style, the Aparaajitha-prccha of Bhuvana-devacharya leans to the southern Dravida. [2, 67] The dominating skylines of Madurai and Thanjavur, and their lovely statuary, would be influenced by it.

Key Concepts
File:Amaravati Stupa relief at Museum.jpg
Famous frieze of the Amaravati Stupa

Art appreciation is a crucial aspect of understanding any theory of art. Just as oenophiles learn wine-appreciation from sommeliers and cork-masters, so too is art appreciation learnt ideally from the Silpa Sastris themselves, or failing that, from art historians.

Therefore, to properly appreciate Dharmic Art, one must gain familiarity with Key Concepts that are foundational to it.

Philosophy

Tvastr—Deva of the Fine Arts

The patron deity of the Indic Fine Arts is the Vedic god Tvastr. He is mentioned in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig Veda, and is alternately associated with many deities including Savitr and even Indra. Nevertheless, he is most often considered a form of Vishvakarma, himself the deity of Sthaapatya Veda and Vaastu Sastra.

This elemental connection to Purusha, with Tvastr conceived as emerging from the navel of Vishvakarma, delineates the centrality of the Divine to Dharmic art. Rather than mere interaction of matter, it is the concept of Supreme consciousness that pervades and sparks material reality. Art too, therefore, is a result of attempting to realise the divine, rather than simplistic expression of human caprice. Having understood this, one can begin to grasp the aesthetic motivating the artistic Indic.

Aesthetics

Indic Aesthetics is a topic that has inspired myriad authors and numerous books. The ancient Aestheticians raised it to a very great height that is only again now being properly conceptualised. Though often mis-translated merely as Rasa, the correct translation of Aesthetics is Rasalankara—that is, the beautiful experiencing of sentiment. As such, beauty must be married to sentiment to be properly experienced in a resonating fashion. There are a plethora of concepts attached to the branch of knowledge known as aesthetics. However, for the time being only Rasa-bhava and Dhvani will be discussed.

Rasa-Bhaava

Bharata Muni’s celebrated expatiation on the 8 rasas (which eventually added another to become the Nava Rasas) is known from his legendary work, Natya Sastra.

Rasa theory is the outstanding contribution of Classical India to World music, dance, and above all literature. This sentiment is the lasting impression or feeling of the author that he/she aims to impress upon the audience. These are nine in number (hence the term Nava Rasa): Sringara (Romantic), Veerya (Heroic), Haasya (Comedic), Karuna (Pathos), Raudra (Furious), Bhayaanika (Frightful), Bibhatsa (Loathsome), Adhbuta (Marvelous), and finally Shaantha (Calming).

The Sthayibhaava is the leitmotif or permanent sentiment of a composition. There are generally eight in number, based on eight of the nine rasas. They are as follows: rati (erotic), haasa (comic), shoka (sorrowful), krodha(angering), utsaha (enlivening), bhaya (frightening), jugupsa (disgusting), and vismaya (amazing). A ninth, sama (tranquility), is associated with Shaantha.[7]

Bhaava is the complete affecting of the heart by any emotion. Rasa means sentiment, sthayi bhava means dominant emotive state, and vyabhichari bhava means transitory or transferable stages.”They are the instrumentalities of conveying and communicating intangible but real states of mind.”[8,9]

But as we discussed elsewhere, mere paint by numbers alone is insufficient to experience Rasa and Soundharya (beauty). Much like a Dance performance or a Musical performance or a work of literature, a work of art must possess Dhvani (resonance). What is it that causes dhvani is a topic for another time and another place and another aesthetician known as Anandavardhana. Nevertheless, for our purposes here, for a work of art to truly capture the mind it must have dhvani, so as to draw in the observer, who need not be told of why such and such a piece is truly great. He or she can experience it.

Motifs

Chakra, Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha

There is also remarkable continuity in motifs from one end of Bharat to another. This is the case not just within India, but in the greater Indosphere. Symbols such as the Dharmachakra, the feet of divinities, the Thoranas (archways), and so on, find their way across both subcontinent and continent.

One motif is in fact so pervasive and expansive, it deserves its own section: the Mudra.

Mudras

Buddha, Dharma Chakra Mudra

Mudras are known as postures. In recent times, due to the popularity of Yoga and the like, Mudras have become synonymous merely with the hand. These are, however, merely hastha-mudras (hand postures). The fuller meaning of this term is posture, thereby beginning with the body itself, before expanding to parts of the body.

Mudras are divided into hastha-mudras (hand), sthaana (body), and paadha-mudras (leg)

There various hastha-mudras, but these can be discussed elsewhere, but here is a brief list of various types of various postures:

Hastha-mudra — 24 Asamyutha hasthas, 13 Samyutha Hastas, 29 Nrtta Hasthas

Sthaana — 9 total based on attitudes, for which Bhojadeva gives 3

Paadha-mudra — Sthaanaka (standing ), Aasana (sitting ), Sayana (reclining)

Thaalamana

Icono-planning is not only a ritual but also a scientific prerequisite before fashioning an image out and therefore any planning, if it is scientific, must start with the correct proportions as handed down in the Sastras.” [2, 94]

Measurement is a pivotal part of sculpture in particular, and art in general. The painter may be able to paint over a specific portion, but the sculptor must take exquisite care in preserving the stone he is working on. One misstep may mar a murthi, preventing worship of the icon.

Thaalamana (system of measurement or iconometry) ensures that a silpin has direction when crafting his work. Standardisation of measures found in the Sarasvati-Sindhu Valley has long been a matter of wonder, but what is more interesting is the standardisation of measurement across sastras. Both Dhanur Veda and Silpa Sastra stress the use of measurement using angulas (finger breadths). Interestingly, both feature many of the same paada-mudras as well.

With respect to sculpture in particular, the direction provided by Agama and Silpa Sastra ensures not only the longevity of the prathima (through minimised breakage) but also that the precise proportions are preserved for the prana-prathista of a murthi. This explains not only why the particular forms (rupas) are the way they are, but also why they are replicated with such exact frequency throughout the Indian Subcontinent.

Samaranga Sutradhaara gives the following unit measurement table [2, 86]:

3 parmaanus  = 1 raaja. 8 raajas = 1 roma. 8 romas = 1 liksa. 8 liksas= 1 yooka.

8 yookas= 1 yava. 8 yavas=1 angula. 2 angulas = 1 golaka. 2 golakas = 1 bhaaga (part)

Jeernoddhaara

Apsaras, Sirigiriya Cave Paintings, Sri Lanka

As discussed in our article on Sthaapatya Veda, renovation of old art and architecture is nothing new to Indic Civilization. While there are certain rules regarding the worship of religious icons, for which formal abhisheka and archana may not take place, art and architecture in general is another matter.

The concept of Jeernoddhaara (renovation of old or dilapidated art & architecture) [2, 163] is critical one, especially in the present time. Though it naturally encompasses the process through which old murthis can be re-consecrated, it has a wider connotation. It is discussed in Vaastu Sastra and remains a matter of import not only for renovating old works of art and architecture, but in renewing ancient cities.

Dhyana Buddha statue, Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh

There are numerous other concepts to discuss, but for the purpose of this brief Introduction to Indian Art, these will suffice. Silpa, after all, may refer to all the Fine Arts, but is, more than anything else, about sculpture.

Sculpture & Iconography
Ramappa temple, Telangana

Leaving aside Silpa Sastra, Sculpture itself is a large field that naturally includes iconography. While painting (Chitrakalaa) can be discussed at another time, it is important to stress, as intimated above, that painting as Fine Art, comes under the purview of Silpa Sastra.

Each culture or civilization (mega-culture) may take on certain conventions or ideals, but behind the most sophisticated forms of sculpture, is an approach or theory of sculpture.

Theory of Sculpture

Indian Sculpture is nothing but an Iconography, par excellence— Devas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Yaksas, Apsaras, along with the sy-mbolic manifestations and Subjective symbolisations of so many mental and spiritual attitudes standing for our emotional edifica-tion and cultural integration that become temple icons and sculptures. [3, 209]

Literature on Vaastu & Silpa lists at least 10 different materials for the purposes of sculpture. These include clay (mrna), wood (phalaka), copper (thaamra), iron (ayas), silver (rajatha), gold (suvarna), and various precious stones (ratna). [2, 40]

A detail procedure for wax-models for metal casting is also stipulated, particularly in texts like the Silpa Ratna. Clay compounds are discussed based on the metal type. These clay compound types are as follows: katina (hard), mandha-katina (medium-hard), mrdvi (soft), mrduthara (softer), and moosaakarana-yogya (clay fit for a crucible). [2, 111]

The stones or materials themselves should have certain auspicious signs. These are padmakaara, svastika, sankaabha, chakrasannibha, chatraakrthi, dhvajaakaara, trisulakrthi, matsya-makara-koormabha, govrsabhaakrthi, vajra-khadgaakrthi, dandaabha, chaamaraakrthi.

Stone types

Various varieties of stones are listed. As is well know, all sorts of stone from sandstone to marble to everything in between have been utilised by the Silpis of old. But these can be better discussed in a separate article.

Other than the variety of stone, there is distinction of stone colour and how it should align on the basis of one’s way of life. White, Red, Yellow, and Black stone are recommended based on one’s varnadharma. The individual stone specimen itself could vary by age, and this too is treated by the various texts on Silpa Sastra. Yuva (youthful) and madhya (middle-age) are the two that could be used for religious iconography, while baala (very young) and vrddha (old) were listed as not appropriate.

This in turn dovetails from sculpture to the sub-branch of iconography.

Approach to Iconography

Iconography is both a science and an art. An art must express life in all its manifestations. Images and sculptures, the finest productions of art, naturally therefore, must express life. [2, 117]

Iconography deals specifically with religious Icons, originating from the Greek eikon (object of worship). It deals with religious icons (statuary and otherwise) as well as the detailed process involving creation and establishment. As is fairly well known among Hindus, the murthi-sthaapana (installation of statuary for worship) is very detailed and precise in the procedure stipulated.

Images of divinities are classified as follows: Chitrajaa (painted), lepyaja (clay), Paakaja (cast metal), and Sastrotkeernajaa (carved by metal instruments).  There is an additional classification provided by Gopala Bhatta that is more all encompassing:

1.Mrnamayi (made of clay) 2.Daaruja (made of wood) 3. Lohaja (made of metal) 4. Ratnaja (made of jewels) 5. Sailaja (made of stone) 6. Gandhaja (made of pastes, like sandalwood) 7. Kausumi (made of flowers [2, 96]

Painted icons are found typically on canvas, wall, or stone. As per the Silpa-ratna, clay icons are of two kinds martika (burnt/kiln-fired) and ammartika (unburnt). Each metal or stone or ancillary material is imbued with significance.

Furthermore, iconography(pratima-kalaa) require an even more rigorously trained sculptor

The iconographer must be adept in the sastras and endowed with insight and lead a life of perfect brahmacharya and the samyama (control over his senses). Before taking up his sacred task of giving a murta, the manifest form to the amurta, the non-manifest one, of the gods—the presiding deities of the destiny of mankind, he should perform the sacrifice and then start japa in order to purify himself of all the secular impurities, so that his hands may be in complete union with the spirit and the mind. A code, indeed of religious discipline, is prescribed. [2, 83]

There are organic variations within the various Dharmic sampradayas regarding religious icons. From a gold pendant featuring the Vedic aum to the massive 57 foot tall Jain statue of Gomatesvara in Sravanabelagola, icons come in varying forms and sizes. Worship and reverence for them takes place in different ways and for different reasons. However, the distinctions between Vedic, Buddhist, and Jain iconography (as well as Sikh art in general) are better discussed elsewhere. How the ancient Sastras seep into modern artistic and spiritual experience, remains more important.

image-worship…was a grand religious and philosophical solution of the difficulty of conceiving a limitless Absolute from the practical point of view and the conveniences thereof. A reconciliation of Vedantic or idealistic philosophy of the Upnisads with the image-worship, representing polytheism, has been strikingly effected in the National Religion of this ancient country. [2, 29]

Important Texts

Silpa Sastra

Agastya-Sakaladhikara

Kasyapiya-Amsumad-bheda

Maanasaara

Puranas—Agni Purana, Matsya Purana, Vishnudharmottara Purana

Agama—Pancha-ratra, Sapta-ratra, Vaikhanasa

Tantra—Hayasirsa, Trilokya-mohana, Vaibhava, Pauskara, Naradiya, Sandilya, Vaisvaka, Saunaka, Jnana-Sagara-Vasistha, Prahlada, Gargya, Galava, Svayambhuva, Kapila, Tarksya, Narayaniya, Atreya, Narasimha, Ananda, Aruna, Baudhayana, Visva

Chitra-lakshanam of Nagnajit

Aparaajitha-prccha

Samaranga Sutradhara of  Paramara Bhoja

Silpa Ratna of Srikumara

Personalities

Vishvakarma

Mayasura

Nagnajit

Maharishis—Vasistha, Atri, Narada, Garga, Kumara, Saunaka, Visalaksa, Kasyapa

Sukra

Brihaspathi

Prahlada

Paramara Bhoja

Bhuvanadevacharya

Srikumara

Conclusion

From the famed statuary of Khajuraho to the modern era works of Raja Ravi Varma, the Indic Fine arts have found expression in a myriad ways, manners, styles, and mediums.

In the coming months (and years), we will continue with this introductory overview and study the the various elements of Silpa Sastra, as well as the subsidiary Fine Arts associated with it.

As we have seen with this article, Silpa Sastra covers not only a wide array of topics beyond sculpture, but represents the authentic Indic approach of “Integral Unity” in all facets of life. [9] Rather than deconstructed alienation and surface-level appreciation of the superficial, the Indic Fine Arts forces us to look within, and appreciate the inward significance rather than mere outward appearance. There is beauty in all things, both the ordinary and extraordinary, the haasya and the bhayaanika, the written word and the sculpted form. This has been the driving philosophy of native Indic Civilization since its inception. While it appreciates the worldly accomplishments of man, it looks ultimately to the Divine as the inspiration and driver of all things. This consistent approach to art can be seen from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Arbuddha to Assam.

More than anything else, the pervasive influence of Indic art is seen throughout Asia. Whether it is Turkistan or Malaysia, there is a wide impact of obvious Dharmic motifs and outright Hindu inspiration. The influence of the Silpa Sastra and even Samaranga Sutradhara spread far and wide.

Pramaane sthaapathi devaah pujaahrscha bhavanti hi   Ch.40, sl.13

Gods and goddesses become fit to be worshipped only when they are set up with correct proportions. — King Paramara Bhoja

Murugan murthi, Batu Caves, Malaysia

Nearly all the artistic remains of ancient India are of a religious nature, or were at least made for religious purposes. Secular art certainly existed, for literature shows that kings dwelt in sumptuous palaces, decorated with lovely wall-paintings and sculpture, though all these have vanished. Much has been said and written about Indian art since, some forty years ago, European taste began to doubt the established canons of the 19th century and looked to Asia and Africa for fresh aesthetic experience. Since then most authorities on the subject, Indian and European alike, have stressed the religious and mystical aspect of Indian art. While admitting the realism and earthiness of the earliest sculpture, most critics have read the truths of Vedanta or Buddhism into the artistic remains of our period, and have interpreted them as expressions of deep religious ex-perience, sermons in stone on the oneness of all things in the Universal Spirit. [6, 346]

Dasavatara Temple, Imperial Gupta Dynasty, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh
References:
  1. Kumar, Pushpendra Ed. Silpa-Sastram. Delhi: Eastern Book Linkers.2006
  2. Shukla, D.N. Vastu-Sastra (Vol.II): Hindu Canons of Iconography and Painting. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. 2003
  3. Shukla, Lalit Kumar. A Study of Hindu Art and Architecture (with special reference to the terminology). Chowkhamba. 1972
  4. Gaur, Niketan. Sthapatya Ved-Vastu Sastra: Ideal Homes, Colony and Town Planning. New Delhi: New Age Books. 2009
  5.  Vatsyayan, Kapila. Kalātattvakośa V: Forms. New Delhi: IGNCA. 2002
  6. Basham, A.L. The Wonder that was India.New Delhi: Rupa & Co. 1999
  7. Vatsyayan, Kapila. Bharata: The Natyasastra. Sahitya Akademi.2007
  8. Kale, M.R. Dasakumaracarita of Dandin. New Delhi: MLBD. 2009
  9. Malhotra, Rajiv. http://www.firstpost.com/living/rajiv-malhotras-indras-net-seven-big-ideas-and-hinduisms-integral-unity-2382902.html

Classical Indic Warfare I: Dhanur Veda

It is often asked whether there was a Traditional Dharmic Military Science. After all, in an era where “Might makes Right” and “Victory is the only Morality”, how can a society, any society, hope to survive without its own Tradition of Warfare? Although modern India has come to be associated with the concept of Ahimsa, it must also be remembered that Bharat is also the society of Dharma eva hatho hanthi.

Those who wish to elevate Dharmo rakshati rakshitaha from a mere maxim to an actual eternal truth must first begin by properly understanding the first installment in our new Series on Classical Indic Warfare: Dhanur Veda.

Introduction

Vaasishtaaya namoh namaha

Salutations to Maharishi Vasishta, who expounded the Dhanur Veda to King Kausika (who became Vishvamitra).

Dhanur Veda is an ancient tradition, considered by some to be one of the 18 branches of knowledge. “According to Visnudharmottara, god Satakratu (Indra) represents Dhanurveda or the knowledge of warfare.” [2] Other divinities associated with it include Lord Skanda (the God of War), and his father (Sadashiva) who himself is credited with the Siva-Dhanur-Veda.

Although Dhanurveda is often referred to merely as Science of Archery or “Martial Arts”, it is in fact the Ancient Vedic Military Science. It is the foundation of the Indic Way of War. As for why the name emphasises the Dhanush, the explanation is as follows: Just as Soopa Sastra refers to Cuisine, just as Arthasastra refers to Statecraft, so too does Dhanur Veda refer to Military Science.

Long time readers would have become familiar with the preceding Upavedas we discussed. Each Upaveda is attached to one of the Chatur Vedas.

Gandharva Veda — Saama Veda

Sthaapatya Veda — Atharva Veda

Dhanur Veda — Yajur Veda

Ayur Veda — Rig Veda

As such, just as Gandharva Veda is attached to the Saama, just as Sthaapatya Veda is attached to the Atharvana, the Dhanur Veda is attached to the Yajur Veda.

That is why the realm of Dhanur Veda is not merely for rote regurgitators, but for those with an understanding of both ancient and modern military arts. In fact, the first guru-sishya parampara of Dhanur Veda begins with Lord Brahma teaching King Prithu. There are of course other lineages. The Siva Dhanur Veda propounds the teachings of Tripurantaka (Lord Shiva) who instructed Parashurama. And finally, the Vasishta Dhanurveda Samhita encompasses the discourse on Dhanur Veda delivered by Maharishi Vasishta to Vishwamitra. Some even list as many as 6 or 7 Traditions.

Despite the fumblings of neophytes, also-rans, and ahankari-shikhandis, a proper restatement of the Vedic Way of War has yet to be comprehensively discussed. To date, there have either been modern Subject-Matter-Experts with outstanding professional expertise, but minimal traditional awareness, or traditionalist (and pseudo-traditionalist) scholars who cite theory without practical modern understanding. But to face the Exigencies of the Politico-Strategic, both are required. We must be rooted in the past but pragmatically face the present as it is, not as we wish it to be.

As such, to fight the battle that faces us, rather than merely the one we want, one must properly understand that we face not a Clash of Civilizations, but a Clash for Civilization. Because when you realise the enemy you face is amongst you, and inherently uncivilised, you understand the traditional rules of Achara Yuddha do not apply. It is why Dhanur Veda stands astride both the realms of Raja Dharma and Raja Niti. While statecraft encompasses both, Dharmic Epistemology necessitates the classification of Sainyaara-vidya under Niti, as the principles of war are neither moral nor immoral, but amoral.

Dharma→Rajadharma→Rajaniti→Kootaniti→Dhanurveda→Kanikaniti

It is why in the Kali Yuga, Koota Niti rather than Dhanur Veda is the starting point, because strategy determines whether or not you go to war, rather than war being the starting point of considering strategy. The present time provides a set of sophisticated forms of warfare, which may or may not have been foreseen by our forbears and seers, but nevertheless are practiced today (Lawfare, Economic Warfare, Cultural Warfare, etc.). In fact, the modern and post-modern eras have become so complex, that one must consider strategy even before politics. The latter becomes an extension of the former, rather than the standard other way around.

If the Politico-Strategic involves understanding and successfully managing the competitive landscape, Dhanur Veda involves the ability to impose one’s decision upon the adversary.

Purpose

The Purpose of Dhanur Veda was stated by Maharishi Vasishta himself. Rather than for seeking glory or demonstrating mere skill, the purpose of archery (Dhanurvidya) and warfare (Dhanur Veda) was to protect one’s subjects, and rescue the weak from the strong, and preserve Dharma and the virtuous persons who practice it.

Dushtadasyuchoradibhya saadhu-samrakshanam dhammethah |

Praja-paalanam Dhanurvedasya Prayojanam || sl.5

The purposes of learning [Dhanurveda] are to protect the virtuous people from the evil persons, robbers and thieves and also to protect and defend the subjects. [2,4]

As such, a teacher of Dhanurveda has the responsibility to train students well, and also to reject greedy, foolish, ungrateful, and evil students so that they cannot abuse this knowledge to harm others.

Knowledge, for both student and teacher, comes with responsibility.

Theoretical Foundations

For the defence of a country, there are abundant references in Vedas, to maintain a regular armed force. It is also enjoined therein that the immediate control of this defence force should be under the command of a chief.  [1,14]

These of course are references to the state of the Military art of the time. Contrary to popular opinion, the theoretical study of Warfare is ancient and widespread in Indic Civilization.

As with all things Dharmic, the foundational aspects of the Indic Military Tradition are found in the Chaturveda. Due to the numerous references to the subject in that samhita, Maharishi Vasistha considers Dhanurveda to also be a sub-branch of Atharva Veda.

Committees (samiti/sabha/sura) consisting of competent experts were to be appointed by the King on defence policy and related matters (AV. 15.8.9, 4.30.2). Such bodies had an advisory role, with the King naturally serving as the overall Chief of the Defence Forces (RV.10.125) Nevertheless, separate Commanders-in-Chief (senadhipatis) were frequently appointed (though the risk of coups remained—as evidenced by Pushyamitra Sunga‘s rise to power).

The election and consecration of the commander on the field of battle as evidenced in the epic at once reminds one of the Vedic king’s coronation. [7, 2]

While rooted in the Yajur Veda, there are a large number of sources (extant and otherwise) for understanding the application of Dhanur Veda.

Dhanurveda, the standard work on Vedic military science being lost, dissertations on the Mahabharata, the Agni Purana, Akasa Bhairava Tantra, Kautalya Arthasastra, Manusmrti, Matsya Purana…Manasollasa, Yukti Kalpa Taru, Visnudharmottara Purana, Viramitrodaya, Samrangana Sutradhara, Sukraniti, and other small works on Dhanurveda like Ausanas Dhanurveda, Vasishta Dhanurveda, Sadasiva Dhanurveda and Niti Prakasika are the only source of information on the subject left to us.” [1,13]

Many of course will argue that some of these texts, such as the Siva Dhanurveda, focus almost exclusively on literal Dhanur vidya (archery). That is true, but even the Vasistha Dhanurveda Samhita is more robust and covers elements of battle strategy and military operations as well. There are also other Dhanurvedas that are lesser known: Vishvamitra Dhanurveda, Jamadagni Dhanurveda, Vaisampayana Dhanurveda, as well as the Veerachintamani of Sarangadhara. [1,15] Furthermore, the RamayanaMahabharata, and Arthasastra all cover the details of the art of Dharmic War, down to the granular level of logistics and military education of princes.

The Hindu did not permit even the military art to remain unexamined. It is very certain that the Hindu kings led their own armies to the combat, and that they were prepared for this important employment by a military education; nor is it less certain that many of these monarchs were distinguished for the highest valour and military skill. [1,1]

The Nitiprakaasika of Vaisampayana tells us that Lord Brahma was the originator of Dhanur Veda and taught King Prthu, son of Vena, via 1,00,000 slokas. This was reduced to 50,000 by Rudra, 12,000 by Indra and 3,000 by Pracetasa & Brihaspathi. Sukra reduced it to 1,000, Bharadvaja to 700, Gaishira to 500 and Maharishi Veda Vyasa to 300.  Vaisampayana himself provides us with this work in 8 chapters. [1]

Dhanurveda is generally divided into 4 sections: 1. Deeksha (Initiation), 2. Sangraha (Procurement), Siddhaprayoga (Training), Prayogavidhi (Operations).

Modern Hindus are more obsessed with 1 and 4, when they need to pay more attention to 2 and 3. Some leaders are born—it is true—but most are made. They are made through education and tested through practice. It is why all-theory and no practice pseudo-trads need to exit the kshetra where they do not belong.

Pareekshaa anyaa yogyataa anyaa

Exam is one thing competence is another

This is emphasised by Acharya Chanakya himself, who mentioned training in the military arts to extend to study of the Itihaasas. It is not for nothing that History is dubbed “the school of princes”.

Interestingly, talented generals were often highly trained in the fine arts. Maharana Kumbha crushed the neighbouring Sultanates and turned Mewar into a powerhouse. He was also a commentator on Music & Literature.  As for Andhra, the Nrtta Ratnavali (a work on dance) of Jaya Senapati ends every chapter colophon as follows:

Srimanmaharajadhiraja-ganapatideva-gajasaadhanika

Jayasenapati- viracitaayaam nrttaratnaavalyaam

Nrtta Ratnavali authored by Jayasenaapti, the chief of the elephant forces of Ganapatideva, the superior king of kings. [147]

A great general in his own right, Ganapati Deva was the father of the warrior Queen Rudrama Devi.

Thus the Gaja-sadhanika (or Elephant Corps commander) also had a well-rounded education. While these are some of the theoretical foundations, one must also familiarise oneself with the terminology and principles of Dhanurveda.

Teminology

  • Dhanurveda — Military Science
  • Samgraama/Vigraha — War
  • Yuddha — Battle
  • Sangraha — Procurement
  • Siddhaprayoga —Training
  • Prayogavidhi — Operations
  • Upasad — Siege
  • Samkrama — Bridge
  • Kavacha — Armour
  • Varma — Chain mail
  • Sirastraana/Sipra — Helmet
  • Kantatraana — Throat protector
  • Phalaka — Shield (metal or wood)/Charma (leather or hide shield)
  • Hastaghna — Armguard (especially for archers)
  • Dundubhi — War drum
  • Suhstra — Weapon
  • Dhanusha — Bow
  • Vaana — Arrow
  • Gadha — Mace
  • Vavri — Sheath/ Vaala — Belt
  • Khadga — Sword (falchion)
  • Khanda — Sword (long sword)
  • Asi — Blade/Knife
  • Chakra — Discus
  • Velam — Spear
  • Tomara — Lance
  • Parashu— Axe
  • Trishula — Trident
  • Yantra — War Engine (i.e. Catapult)
  • Durgam — Fortress
  • Skandhavaara/Shivira — Camp
  • Chakravartin — He who turns the Wheel of Dharma (Paramount Sovereign)
  • Raja — King
  • Rajanya — Royal Family
  • Kshatriya — Aristocrat
  • Veera — Warrior
  • Senadipathi — Commander in Chief
  • Senapathi/Senani — General
  • Nayaka — Commander
  • Upanayaka — Lieutenant
  • Sainik/Patti — Foot Soldier
  • Ashvasaada — Cavalryman
  • Spashah — Spy
  • Duta — Messenger
  • Gaja — Elephant
  • Ratha — Chariot
  • Naava — Boat
  • Nalikaa — Gun
  • Agnichoorna — Gunpowder
  • Nisthaanam — Base
  • Sena — Army
  • Nau Sena/Varuna Sena — Navy
  • Vayu Sena — Air Force
  • Kaksha — Flanks
  • Paksha — Wings (also camp)
  • Koti — Vanguard
  • Uras — Chest (front centre)
  • Madhya — Centre (behind the chest)
  • Prstha — Rearguard
  • Praligraha — Reserves
  • Vyuha — Formation
Principles

samudraram

  1. Initiation
  2. Procurement
  3. Training
  4. Operations
    1. Strategic Planning
      1. Personnel
      2. Logistics
    2. Military Operations
      1. Encampment
      2. Battles
        1. Organisation
        2. Formations
      3. Sieges

Study of specifically Dhanur Vidya is more appropriate for another time. It is important to understand its place and practice in the wider context of War (Samgraam)

Dharma of Samgraama

Dharmachakra

The Dharma of Samgraama, or Dharma of War, is one that is complex and one that has grown increasingly subtle over time. While the purpose of war has already been discussed, how should a just war be conducted?

The Epic code of ethics helped to soften the edge of conflict…The civilian population was allowed to pursue its labours umolested, temples and places of public worship were left undefiled. That these rules were operative in the fourth century B.C., is fully supported by the testimony of Megasthenes. It is doubtful if any other ancient civilization set such humane ideals of war. [7, 167]

Achara Yuddha

Hindu warfare was honoured for its code of Ethics, so much so that foreign commentators often asked whether it was more of a tournament for warriors.

Murcchitham naiva vikalam nashastram naanyayodhinam |

Palaayamaanam saranam gathanchaiva na himsayeth || sl.41

One should not kill the enemy who is lying unconscious, who is crippled, devoid of weapon or is stricken with fear and also who has come for shelter. [2, 64]

With such rules, it is easy to see why Rajputs fell for Turk deceptions time and again. But the first responsibility of a King is not to be a chivalrous/magnanimous figure, but to protect his subjects.

But contrary to naysayers, however, there was a practical aspect to it as well.Ethical warfare is suited for ethical enemies. Those who practice koota-yuddha must be opposed by similar conduct. Kautilya himself was merely reasserting what Krishna had already taught. When the enemy is breaking all the rules, you cannot fight with one hand tied behind your back. That is the difference between a Raja and Rajaputra.

Therefore, Achara yuddha was meant to be followed with other Indic Kings who observed the rules of Civilised Warfare. Above all, civilians were to be respected, and women and children to be protected.

Suptam prasuptamunmattam hyakaccham suhstra-varjitham |

baalam striyam deenavaakyam dhaavantham naivadhyaathayeth || sl.64

The person who is asleep, who is in drunken state, who is devoid of clothes or weapons, the lady, the minor, the helpless, the afraid one who deserts the battle field should not be killed. [2, 75]

As Bharatavarsha found out in the medieval period, there are some enemies who specifically mandate the opposite.

Rakshasa Yuddha involved an enemy who breaks all the rules. Atrocities are committed against civilians, who are not spared. Any unchivalrous method can be applied by this honourless foe. In fact, chivalry is seen as ‘markaz i jahalat’, or crassly stupid, as per such barbarians. War is not a mere tournament of arms, but as stipulated by Maharishi Vasishta himself, a means to protect one’s subjects, rescue weak from strong, and punish the wicked. To this end, Achara Yuddha must be put aside, and Koota Yuddha utilised.

Koota Yudha is defined as ‘deceptive war’ by Chanakya. Nevertheless, its more correct meaning is Strategic War, as it is ultimately rooted in Koota Niti (Strategy). Modern War as conducted by foreigners breaks all the rules and indiscriminately slaughters and even commits biological atrocities against civilian populations. One need not similarly become demonic to fight demons. Instead, one must use strategy to outwit such foes and develop asymmetric means to defeat their dastardly weaponry, via both R&D and strategic design.

Dharma Yuddha

Above all this, of course, is the concept of Dharma Yuddha. Some have tried to liken it to a “Crusade” or its Saracenic counterpart, but it is neither. Dharma Yuddha is a war to restore Dharma. That is, all Kings who proclaim to uphold Dharma are mandated to come together to defeat and uproot those who are threatening its very existence. When facing an Adharmic opponent, Koota Yuddha is often not only needed, but even required.

The person who in order to save the brahmins, cows, women or minors gives up his own life is sure to attain eternal salvation [2,75]

All this is more appropriate discussion for another time. For now, the Principles of Dhanur Veda will be covered.

Initiation

Vasishta muni states that “The ideal time for teaching and learning archery is in the presence of ten stars —Hasta, Punarvasu (Rama’s star), Pusya, Rohini, Uttaraphalguni, Uttarbhadrapada, Uttarasada, Anuradha, Aivini, Revati“, and that this should be done on the third, fifth, seventh, tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth days of the lunar month, ideally on Sunday, Thursday, or Friday. [2, 6-7]

The tradition of purvaranga vidhana (ritual oblations to the divine) is stipulated, as is reverence to the teacher by the students. Prayers to Mahadev, Krishna, Brahma, and of course, Ganesha are also advised.

The warriors of the day were duly indoctrinated in the code of morality and duty. Thus the education of Dhrtarastra, Pandu and Vidura includes lessons in morality, history, tradition, Vedas and the allied literature, apart from military exercises. [7, 163]

Martial Arts

kalaripayattu-martial-art-of-kerala-500x500

In general, martial arts is a subset of the greater Dhanur Veda. In fact, these are more commonly associated with Kreeda, hence the term Military Science better suited for Dhanur Veda. Nevertheless, initiation into the different schools can take place. Some train at akhaaras learning malla and mushti yuddha (wrestling and boxing), and others learn more armed forms of martial arts, such as Kalaripayattu and Gatka.

Officially dating back to the venerable Guru Hargobind Singh ji,  “Gatka can be practiced either as a sport (khel) or ritual (rasmi).” It features aspects of armed and unarmed combat. It is practiced to this day.

More importantly however, again like its Southern counterpart, Gatka is a direct connection to the ancient Indic warrior ethos. It is an outgrowth of traditional Suhstra-Vidya, which in Punjabi is called Shastar Vidya ਸ਼ਸਤਰ ਵਿਦਿਆ, but has become a tradition in its own right. Sikh Dharma may be centuries old, but it draws from and is part of a millennia old Dharmic Civilization. Whether for sport or for safety, preserving and passing on its proud traditions remains important for Sikh: Citizen, and Soldier alike.

Procurement

Procurement of excellent weapons, armour, and other equipment are an important part of War. Ancient India was no exception. Dhanurveda being intricately connected with Dhanur Vidya (Archery), procurement of a good bow was elemental.

Characteristics of a good bow were given. All these can be discussed elsewhere. What is important for now is that, different types of bow even composite bows made of horn are also discussed. Ancient India was, for obvious reasons, known for the long bow. Qualities of arrows (and even poisoned arrows) are also discussed. But more than the bow, it was the bowman who was irreplaceable. Good people, after all, are hard to find.

Training

Chitrayuddha, practice of archery, is an essential aspect of training with the bow. Arjuna memorably shot arrows in the dark, and ultimately was able to strike the matsya yantra (fish machine) merely from a reflection. All this was due to practice and rigour in training.

Dhanurveda stipulates stringent rules for the selection and imparting of military instruction. Beyond the usual rules and rituals, it emphasised guna in pairing a soldier with a weapon of choice. Those with Sattvika guna should be paired with the Bow (dhanush). Those with Rajo-sattva should be paired with the Sword (khadga). Those of tamaso-rajas should be paired with the spear (kunta). And those of tamaso guna should be paired with the mighty mace (gadha).

In the ancient times, Acharyas in Dhanurveda were brahmanas (who were then barred from ruling and power politics). A preceptor excelling in 7 types of fighting was called a Saptayodha. One who is versed in 4 is called Bhargava. One in 2 is called Yodha, and if versed in 1 type, he is called Ganaka. Maharishi Aurva trained the mighty King Sagara, and the illustrious Saptarishi Vasishta, trained Sri Rama.

There are, of course, various methods of imparting training. Dhanurveda naturally begins with the bow.

Practice

Various methods for practice are stipulated, primarily for archery. These involve firing blunt arrows (and other suhstras) as practice weapons. These are very detailed in discussion and best discussed elsewhere. What is useful to know, is that Dhanur Veda discusses target practice for standing targets, moving targets, and even moving targets while on horseback. Success in this skill is more than just a matter of balance, but also technique.

 Holding the String (Gunamusti)

Pataakaa vakramushtischa simhakarnasthatthaiva cha |

Matsari kaakathundi cha yojaneeyaa yathaakramam || sl.84

Gunamusti is of five types — Pataka (Banner), Vajra-musti (thunder bolt), Simhakarna (ear of a lion), matsari (fish), Kakatundi (beak of a crow). These should be applied in proper places. [2, 23]

Dhanurveda specifies a number of different methods of holding the string. These influence not only the effectiveness of holding the arrow, but the precision of hitting the target. These are in turn combined with laksya (types of aim) and even types of bow draw (dhanurmushti) and bow posture.

Bow Postures (Vyaaya)

These are, of course, just a few of the basic aspects of training in Dhanur Vidya. Dhanur Veda proper is more complex. Though rooted primarily in archery, the Dhanur Veda Samhita of Vasishta is more detailed and covers operations as well.

Army Training

Contrary to our modern “I am an army of one!” ahankari-shikhandis, Dhanur Veda did not simply stipulate singular individual training. The Dharma of Collaboration requires not cooperation with the enemy, but cooperation with one’s countrymen and fellow soldiers.

Parasparaanurakthaa ye yodhaah shaarnga dhanurdharaah |

yuddha-jnaasthuragaarudaasthe jayanthi rano ripun || sl.182

The Warriors even armed with Saarnga bow (made of horn) who co-operate with each other and know battle-craft may beat enemies fighting them on horseback. [1, 141]

Moving and operating as a unit is nothing unique to a particular civilization. Here is Maharishi Vasishta on the infantry.

The infantry or the food soldiers should be of equal height. All of them should be equally expert in jumping an running. They should also be trained in moving backward (pascadga-manam), standing still (sthirikaranam), lying [down] (sayanam) running apace (dhvanam) rushing  headlong into the hostile army and moving in different directions in accordance with signals” [2, 69-70]

Horses and even elephants were to be trained as well. Indian mahouts were celebrated for their skill with the elephant and ankush (goad). A good driver would bond with his elephant, which was celebrated for its loyalty and fierce defence of its master in war.  All these involved detailed elements of raising an army. What about deployment?

Military Operations

Niti

Preparation and deployment of one’s defence forces is not a simple method of theory and orders. Strategic planning, selection and training of personnel, order-of-battle, selection of ground/place/time, and formations—all play a role in making successful contact with the enemy. Whether to oppose in the field or to prepare for a siege or to even engage in guerilla warfare via tribal allies (atavi), are all complicated aspects that are covered by Dhanurveda in general and Sainyara-vidya in particular.

While Naval forces (Samudra Sena) and naval operations are mentioned, they are better discussed elsewhere. The great Naval expeditions of Kalingas, Cholas, and the Vijayanagara Empire are important to Sainyara-vidya, but Land warfare being central to Dhanurveda, necessitates focus on that type of war first.

Strategic Planning

The Vasistha Dhanurveda Samhita specifically has a section called Samgraamavidhih. That is, it establishes the importance of war strategy. Though it does not go into depth, it becomes apparent that success in war is more than just about mere proficiency in weapons or even numbers. All the elements of the Art of War were required to come together under the command of skilled general who understood that ‘prudence is the handmaiden of victory’.

The Atharva Veda (7.12.2) “recommends the formation of an advisory Samiti that could chalk out the plan and decide the strategy to fight out the war. The members of such a Samiti are called Narista…All the members of this council have to work collectively.” [1,18]

Personnel

Vasishta muni writes the following regarding selections of Senadhipatis and Senanis:

Listen O Visvamitra! that the Commander-in-chief should be physically fit, learned and powerful kshatriya. He should also treat all his subordinates equally. He should prove his intelligence in arranging the army in array and also provide such work to the infantry that fits it. [2, 73]

Qualifications of a Commander

           1. He must be conversant with the art of fighting a war (RV.1.114.4)

           2. He should possess exemplary character ( RV. 2.33.8)

           3. A Vajrabahu (one with arms like a thunderbolt) inspires confidence in troops.

          4. He should be a Pururupa(one who can handle all types of situations (RV.2.33.9))

          5. He should be a sahasraaksa (one who is equipped with a spying system (YV))

         6. He should be an outstanding warrior (Avevirah) (AV. 19.2.2)

Competent military and strategic leadership is paramount. As even the Vedas recognised, an intelligence network to surveil the enemy to determine capabilities/intentions, and to do basic reconnaissance on the field was important. Win or lose, a general is not allowed to be surprised.

Soldier – He should be swift in action, have great courage, be fearless and bright, and be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. He must be proficient in arms, and expert in his tasks, and possess requisite knowledge of army rules and regulations.

The Hindus display bravery not surpassed by the most warlike nations and will throw away their lives for any consideration of religion or honour. [1, 30]

Even Women could be recruited (though generally not for frontline combat). A secondary line battalion consisting of women could be put at the command of the mahishi (chief queen). It is this tradition of warrior women that could be seen from Kaikeyi down to Rudrama Devi to Rani Durgavati. [1, 29]

Above all, “Foremost qualification of the warrior is that he must be deeply in love with his motherland. It is only then he can put his whole soul to save his motherland from all sorts of troubles.” [2, 28]

Logistics

Logistics is crucial to warfare in any era. After all, an army marches on its stomach and gold is the sinews of war. As such, “all kinds of facilities are to be provided to army men. A special type of clothing, proper nursing, food, living accommodation, clubs, playground, hospitals, places of the prayers and educational facilities are to be provided” [1, 29]

The Mahabharata makes reference to a position similar to that of Quarter-Master General. Yudhisthira appoints Nakula (a famed swordsman in his own right) to maintain records of the various forces, secure supplies (especially food and water), and ensure prompt payment.

Repeated stress is laid on the importance of regular and punctual payment of wages and rations to the army; irregularity in this may lead to disaffection or even rebelllion. In the Sabha parva Naarada asks Yudhisthira if he pays his troops in advance before he marches, and if he supports the wives and children of men who lay down their lives for him, or undergo misery on his account. [7,149]

In the medieval period, the Army of Vijayangara was fabulously well-supplied. It was a veritable moving city that accompanied the Emperor.

Encampment

The army camp should be established at prudent (and auspicious) hours and avoid encroaching upon various burning grounds, temples, and other places of sanctity. “The ground, preferably level and abounding in grass and fuel, is properly measured for an encampment; a moat is dug around to protect it, and guards are stationed at important posts. Door-keepers and sentinels keep watch outside the tents of the chief heroes and princes. Stocks of arms and armaments, food and water are in evidence, and physicians and mechanics form part of the establishment.” {7, 151]

Discipline was to be maintained and stockades and watch towers erected for protection. Contrary to the current civic culture (or lack thereof), Ancient Indian military discipline (particularly in camps) was strict. Bivouacking was an orderly process, cleanliness and carelessness to be avoided, and clamour kept to a minimum.

Campfollowers were numerous, with doctors, purveyors of food stuffs, musicans, merchants, and vesya (women of the night). This practice was eventually banned by Chhatrapati Shivaji, due to the disrespect shown to women by foreign invaders.

The camp is, above all, a place for soldiers and warriors. The seriousness of the task and the adherence to strategy must be remembered.

Battles

battlefield-of-kurukshetra

Organisation

Over the years, military organisation has changed given the size and needs of military forces. As gloriously recounted in the Mahabharata, these could reach fantastic levels that may stretch credulity in the modern day, and yet, align with the internal logic.  The Battle of the Kurukshetra featured 7 Akshauhinis on the Pandava side and 11 Akshauhinis for the Kauravas.

1 chariot and 1elephant, 3 horses and 5 foot soldiers = 1 patti.

3 pattis = 1 senamukha. 3 senamukhas = 1 gulma.3 gulmas = 1 gana.3 ganas = 1 vaahini

3 vaahinis = 1 prtana. 3 prtanaas = 1 chamu. 3 chamus = 1 aneekini.

10 aneekinis = 1 Akshauhini [1,17]

1 Akshauhini

21,870 Chariots; 21,870 Elephants; 109,305 Infantry; 56,610 Cavalry

With a ratio of 1: 1: 5: 3, the approximate total is 209,700 soldiers.

This would bring the total on the Kurukshetra to 4 million. It is an amazing number indeed, which would number in the more modest hundreds of thousands in the post-Legendary period.

The army of Chandra Gupta for example was estimated to be 600,000 infantry; 30,000 cavalry; 10,000 chariots; 9,000 War elephants. In late antiquity, the Imperial Pratiharas were said by middle eastern chroniclers to field 4 armies for the 4 cardinal directions, each numbering 800,000 soldiers—for a total of 3.2 million men. Ancient India was, not for nothing, known for its armies. But armies are one thing, and generalship another.

India has fielded many great and intelligent generals, none more so than Krishna (the real commander of the Pandava armies). Nevertheless, legendary figures aside, “historical” figures such as Ajatashatru, Samudra Gupta, and Chhatrapati Shivaji all made their marks on history. It is only a recent matter for Indians to forget the importance of strategy & generalship.The Republic of India must remember this again.

And after making the decision to take the field, the next decision for any general is how order-of-battle should take form.

Formations (Vyuha)

The Vyuhas are one of the most legendary aspects of ancient Indic armies. Perhaps no vyuha is more legendary than the chakravyuya famously featured in the Mahabharata. A formation of envelopment, it was notoriously difficult to enter, and as young Abhimanyu discovered, even more difficult to exit.

Despite the legendary aspects of the Kurukshetra War, the importance of Vyuhas was retained long into the entry of Common Era. Though divyastras obviously were not used, deployment in concentrated force with proper arrangement remained important. The four divisions of the army (chaturanga-bala) that would inspire chess (chaturanga), which would feature an elephant corps, a cavalry corps, chariot corps, and infantry. All these would be deployed per the needs of battle.

  1. Chakravyuha — Discus formation
  2. Makaravyuha — Crocodile formation
  3. Syenavyuha — Hawk formation
  4. Garudavyuha — Eagle formation
  5. Varahavyuha — Boar formation
  6. Gajavyuha — Elephant formation
  7. Sakatavyuha — Waggon formation.This is ideal if surrounded or expecting rear attack
  8. Kraunchavyuha — Bird formation
  9. Simhavyuha — Lion formation
  10. Sarpavyuha — Serpent array
  11. Agnivyuha — Fire array
  12. Gomutrika — Echelon or Zig-zag
  13. Pippeelika — Ant array
  14. Ardhachandra — Half moon formation
  15. Sarvatobhadra — Hollow square
  16. Suchimukha — Needle array
  17. Danda — Staff formation
  18. Gulma — Bush formation
  19. Mandala — Hollow Circle formation
  20. Padmavyuha — Lotus formation
  21. Srenika — ranks/rows
  22. Bhoja — column
  23. Asanhata — detachments of various units into penny packets

Many of these may seem rather intricate and complicated to our modern eyes. Nevertheless, there are certain important principles that come from this. As seen above with the Garuda vyuha, there is very much a concept of organisation and backup planning. Contrary to the current school of thought that assumes a disorganised mass of chivalrous soldiers in unthinking frontal charges, methodical deployment was very much a practical art. Above all, is the fact that the concept of keeping reserves was emphasised — a reality that frequently turned the tide of key battles in history. Placing the chariots in front, elephants next to break the enemy lines, followed by the infantry is specified. Siva Dhanurveda specifically mentions the placing of cavalry on the wings, in sloka 179.

Ancient Indian Warfare was certainly practical. If one does not believe in combining mantra with suhstra, then the place of supernatural astras is reduced, and rather than spiritual, more material weapons will be emphasised. That is the nature of war, as well as the nature of RMA.

Sieges

Some of the most successful wars are conducted not in the field, but inside the fort. From the Vedic times of Purandara (destroyer of forts) to Chanakya to Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Indic Durg has been a crucial part of Dhanurveda. The most successful armies in history were those that mastered the art of conducting the siege. This involves more than just investment of fortified cities, but also the defense of even fortified positions and redoubts.

The frontiers of the country were expected to be guarded by forts, with the intention of perimeter defence or defence-in-depth. Terrain was taken into close consideration, and measures such as investment, artillery, and mining discussed to take opposing forts.

For the purposes of brevity,  a simple discussion of forts will be discussed here to dovetail with Sthapatya Veda:

Mountain fort (giri durgam), Forest fort (vana durgam), Water fort (jala durgam), Clay/Cave fort (panka/guha durgam), Chariot fort (ratha durgam), Divine fort (divya durgam, has extensive fortress with efficient defensive system), and Mixed fort (mishra durgam, situated among both both mountains and forest). [1, 45]

A land fort is the easiest to capture, a river fort more difficult and the mountain fort most difficult. From the point of a view of a besieged king, a mountain fort is preferable to a river fort which is better than a land fort (7.12.2) — Arthasastra

Important Texts

Dhanurveda

Siva Dhanurveda

Vasishta Dhanurveda

Ausanas Dhanurveda

Jamadagni Dhanurveda

Vaisampayana Dhanurveda

Ramayana

Mahabharata

Agni Purana

Matsya Purana

Visnudharmottara Purana

Akasa Bhairava Tantra

Arthasastra

Manasollasa

Yukti Kalpa Taru

Veeramitrodaya

Samrangana Sutradhara

Niti Prakasika

Veerachintamani of Sarangadhara

Application

Vedic scholars were well aware that ‘armies can signify but little unless there is  council or a wise management at home‘. The efficiency of an army is thus very much dependent on the efficiency of the ministry of defence.

In the legendary times, the sarvasreshta dhanurdharas (Sagara, Sri Rama, Bhishma, Arjuna) could all reputedly summon divine weapons (divyastras) that would unleash firepower that normal chariot borne archers could not match. Obviously in the present time, these seem to stretch credulity. Nevertheless, keeping in mind the internal logic of Divine involvement in the affairs of man (which even Homer includes in the Iliad) one could understand the devastating effect these dhanush-wielders could have. Bhishma himself swore to wipe out 10,000 soldiers a day with the firepower he commanded.  With these dhanurdharas as the centerpiece of the Indic armies of Legendary times, one understands the emphasis placed on them why they were deployed the way they were.

The Epic material provies depth to the pic-ture that we have gleaned from our Vedic sources. The nature of the Vedic literature precludes the possibility of the graphic des-criptions of warfare which we can find in the Epics. The echoes of the Mahabharata can be detected in the Vedic literature and, as we have pointed out time and again in our text, some of the Epic tradition is indeed very ancient. Chariots in the Epic are the invincible instruments of battle [due to the Dhanurdharas they carried]; elephants and cavalry play role of comparative insignificance. …By the time Alexander came to India, things had changed; the chariots were there of course, but the real responsibility of attack and defence had shifted to the elephants and the cavalry. ” [7, 2]

Weapons

Standard Weapons are divided into mukta (released from the hand), amukta (held), mukta-amukta (may or may not be thrown ), and yantra mukta (released by artillery/engines). We also find another division of suhstra, yantra, and mantra. Mantra will obviously not be considered here.Nevertheless, ancient Indian war was more in line with how the native cinema depicts, rather than foreign indologists, who seem to imply that the society that had the best metallurgy somehow did not believe in armour and helmets. That is why it is important to not deconstruct a tradition, but to study it as a continuum.

Continuity in these traditional weapons is seen even outside strict Vaidika Dharma, as Sikh Dharma and its warrior-saints used them to great effect.

Technology

Technology is a trendy topic, particularly in what we presently consider to be a technologically advanced age. Some topics are controversial, while others not so much. One area that has been acknowledged by almost all parties is the advanced state of Indian metallurgy—particularly in the forging of blades.

The famous crucible steel (Wootz) had its origin in India. The Chera steel was renowned for its quality. Indian iron smiths must have invented the ‘wootz’ process in the 6th or early 5th century B.C. Ktesias saw two wonderful swords of Indian steel at the court of Artaxerxes Memnon. Herodotus speaks of the arrows of Indian soldiers tipped with iron.” [7, 102]

Hindu warfare (what has been acknowledged at least) has long been the subject of controversy. “Were divyastras really just pre-modern artillery?”  or the most notorious, “Come on, vimanas? Really?“. But the perhaps the most important one of all is the question of whether or not ancient India had independently invented gunpowder. That’s right, as discussed by this article, it has been averred that Eastern India (particularly Bihar) possessed excellent saltpetre mines which are crucial for firearms.

A number of ancient texts specifically refer to gunpowder (agnichoorna/ranjaka) and firearms (nalikaa). The Dhanurveda explicitly mentions nalikaa (guns) as well as goleem(bullets)

Even the Sukra Niti supports this:

In Sukraniti, the method and chemical composition for preparation of gunpowder has been given. Accordingly, five palas (582.5 mg) survaci slat, one pala (11.5 mg) of sulphur and one pala (11.5 mg) each of the charcoal received from the wood of arka (…asclepias giantia), snuhi and angaara plants by the Ayurvedic process of Sahdooma Putapaaka where a drug is prepared in a closed vessel placed in a pit. The above-mentioned salts and charcoals should be purified, powdered and mixed together. This mixture should then be soaked into the juices of snuhi, arka and garlic. It should be dried up in the sun and finally powdered like sugar, the substance will be gunpowder.” [1, 76]

Whether or not this is the case is for present day scholars to confirm. Nevertheless, these ancient texts make a convincing case for ancient firearms. At the very least they give insight into some of the ancient artillery Indian armies featured.

Professor Wilson writes “Rockets…appear to be of Indian invention, and had long been used in native armies when Europeans came first in contact with them.” [1, 74] He goes on to say that ‘The Indians are from time immemorial remarkable for their skill in fireworks..” [1, 77] So much for “cracker-free” Diwali…

Engines of War were called Yantras. Some celebrated ones include the Sataghni (hundred-killer, asmaguda (catapult that pelts stone balls), ayoguda (weapon that pelts iron balls).

That elephants and chariots also carried yantras, is proved by a few references, but yantras in open battle seem to signify weapons in general. King Ajatasatru of Magadha, a contemporary of the Buddha, used a new engine of war against the [Vrjjis], called the mahasilakantaga, which must have been a stone-hurling contri-vance like those denoted by the Epic yantras. [7, 113]

When Alexander of Macedon set foot in the ancient Indosphere, his armies were said to have been scattered by a besieged Indian city which featured weapons of fire and lightning. These were unleashed following a terrifying pitch silence, soon broken by the sounds of thunder and cries of men.

For those of you familiar with the Byzantine Empire, there is, interestingly enough, even evidence that perhaps the famed “Greek Fire” may not have had a Greek origin after all. “The fire which burns and crackles on the bosom of waves denotes that the Greek fire was anciently known in Hindustan under the name of badavaa“. [1,75]

Ctesias, Elian and Phostratus all make reference to such an incendiary oil , saying “it is inextinguishable and insationable [sic], burning both arms and fighting men” [1, 75] Perhaps when the Arabs were crushed at Constantinople and during the Battles of Rajasthan, they may have in fact received “Greek fire” from both ends…

Personalities

Though the study of the Dhanurveda cuts across classes, this list will focus primarily on military commanders and direct operational planners. For brevity’s sake, this list will focus on both legendary commanders and warriors mentioned in the Puranas as well as “Historical” personalities from the Ancient, Medieval, and Late Medieval periods. Strategists and Commanding Generals of the Modern Era will be listed elsewhere.

King Prthu

King Sudasa

Maharishi Vishvamitra

King Sagara

Haihaya Karthaveerya Arjuna

Parashurama

Aikshvaku Raghu

Aikshvaku Rama

Bharata Dauhsanti

Bheeshma

Vasudeva Krishna

Arjuna

Jarasandha

Ajatashatru

Mahapadma Nanda

Chandragupta Maurya

Ashoka Maurya

Pushyamitra Sunga

Kharavela

Stabrobates

Sriharsha Vikramaditya

Gautamiputra Satakarni of Andhra

Samudra Gupta Ashokaditya

Chandra Gupta II Vikramaditya

Skanda Gupta Paraakramaditya

Narasimha Gupta Baladitya

Vikramaditya Panwar of Ujjain

Salivahana Panwar of Ujjain

Harsha Vardhana Shiladitya of Thanesar

Chalukya Pulakesin II

Karkota Lalitaditya of Kashmir

Pratihara Nagabhatta I & II

Rashtrakuta Dhruva Dharavarsha

Rashtrakuta Govinda III

Rashtrakuta Indra III

Dharmapala I of Vanga

Bhaskaravarman of Assam

Raja Suhel Dev

Haihaya Kalachuri Gangeyadeva

Paramara Bhoja

Chola Raja Raja I

Chola Rajendra I

Chalukya Rani Naiki Devi

Prithviraj Chauhan III

Ganga Bhanudeva II of Odisha

Rani Rudrama Devi

Kakatiya Prataparudra II

Hoysala Veera Ballala III

Musunuri Nayaks of Andhra

Maharana Kumbhakaran Singh of Mewar

Sangama Harihara & Bukka

Krishna Deva Raya

Venkatapati Deva Raya

Maharana Sangram Singh Sisodia

Maharana Pratap Singh Sisodia

Rani Durgavati

Lachit Bophurkan of Assam

Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhonsle

Admiral Kanhoji Angre

Baji Rao I

Maharaja Prithvi Narayan Sah of Nepal

Zorawar Singh

Banda Bahadur Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Hari Singh Nalwa

Sher Singh Attariwala

Marthanda Varma of Travancore

Conclusion

Clearly much water has flowed down the Ganga since the days of Dhanurveda’s first exposition. From the Imperial Armies of Magadha to the modern Day Indian Army, there is a long tradition of Military Science in Bharatavarsha.

For those who call for an Indic and Dharmic Way of War, it must be remembered that military lineages cannot commence with mere colonial regiments. Regimental and Tri-services pride aside, a society whose motto is Satyameva Jayate, must have lineages which work for the triumph of Truth, rather than colonial occupiers. But at the same time, one cannot be occupied or pre-occupied only with unthinking traditionalism or rote ritual.

The Dharmic way of War must necessarily adapt to the modern exigencies where victory is the only morality…

…and this is the cost of defeat.

The price of war is terrible, and therefore, must necessarily be practiced by professionals, whether strategists or soldiers. Knowledge of the Dharmic Art of War must be rooted in tradition, while being pragmatic enough to adapt to the Enemy. As Ovid wrote, it is right to learn, even from the Enemy.

It also means promoting those with a proper understanding of military history and modern strategy as overall Defense planners. This criticism was in turn criticised by the politically motivated, but leave aside gender and other considerations—is it not on point?

With V.K.Krishna Menon at the helm, Nehru planned to turn the Indian Army into a mere constabulary force of 100,000. Within a year or two, China launched a surprise attack (after similar Doklam type Chinese Checkers in Ladakh). The unmitigated disaster that was A.K.Antony was only further proof of the need for a governing class that has a strong affiliation for military affairs—beyond mere mantra japa of “Chanakya!“.

It is true, as those who actually understand global political affairs will tell you, that the risk of foreign funded military coups was at one point very great. One need only look at the Republic of India’s neighbour to the West to see just how frequent they could be. Even its neighbour to the North has come tantalisingly close to this very real reality of political life. The first step to fore-stalling or mitigating such risks would be to have a governing class that the officer class would not feel disgusted by. The current crop of the corrupt lining the IAS and the Rajya Sabha is exhibit A in a fool’s gallery of fops.

The Prime Minister has rather wisely been taking to the ancient nostrum of “minding the solidiers” and has restored a measure of trust between the Bharatiya Sena and the Bharatiya Sarkar. The current Raksha Mantri is a very efficient minister, and MP’s such as Rajyavardhan Rathore and Kiren Rijiju cut dashing figures. But the governing classes and would-be elites must build on even this, and regain a strong sense of the native Indic military sense, and military sense begins with strategic thinking. Winning in war is more than just a matter of mere numbers.

Api panchashatham suraa mrudananthi mahathim chamoom |

Athavaa pancha shat saptha vijayanthaanivarthinah || sl. 181

Even five hundred determined and well-trained soldiers can defeat a large army. Sometimes even five, six or seven such heroes who do not withdraw and fight bravely may emerge victorious [1,141]

—Siva Dhanurveda

If “war is too important to be left to the generals”, then it is definitely too important to be left to the hands of poets and pedants. Serious politicians with the Dharmic martial ethos and modern strategic education are required. The list of Dhanurveda personalities we listed above cut across caste and class, because they all faced the unignorable exigency of competence. All too much emphasis has been placed on Government, which in turn has become code for mere electioneering and politics. True Governance is rooted in Rajadharma, which is what is missing in today’s governing classes, with rare exception. An education in Governance and Modern Strategic Affairs is required to not only take the tradition of Dhanurveda into the Modern (and Post-Modern) era, but also to steer India and the rest of the world away from strategic disaster.

Indeed, the stakes of Dhanurveda are far higher than military honour or an “izzat ka sawal”. The very fate of humanity’s freedom depends on native Kshatriyata to re-emerge across caste lines focused above all on competence and character. We conclude this introductory article on the Indic Tradition of Dhanurveda and Dharma (and why they remain relevant), rather ironically, with a quote from a European General of whom you might have heard:

It is character that remains the Achilles heel of governing classes around the world, and India can no longer risk a governing class (or wannabe governing class) steeped in incompetence, completely clueless on strategic affairs, and utterly hypocritical and characterless. Those who are so compromised they induct and promote foreign “acharyas” to teach Indians how to “decolonise” are the least qualified to govern…period—their claims to “Chanakyanism” aside.

Vishvaksena Janardhana

It is time to  return to Krishna Niti. To properly understand modern Military Affairs, the ethos of the Kshatriya (the native Bharatiya Kshatriya) is required to train, mentor, and anoint a governing class across caste lines. That is the path of not only the Dhanurveda of King Prthu, but of Dharmic Civilization’s Revival itself.


References:
  1. Arya, Ravi Prakash. Dhanurveda – The Vedic Military Science.Rohtak: Indian Foundation for Vedic Science (Amazon Books).  2014
  2. Ray, Purnima. Vasishta’s Dhanurveda Samhita.Delhi: J.P.Publishing House.
  3. Gaur, Niketan. Sthapatya Ved-Vastu Sastra: Ideal Homes, Colony and Town Planning. New Delhi: New Age Books. 2009
  4. Rangarajan, L.N. Edit, Kautilya. The Arthashastra. New Delhi. Penguin.1992
  5. Sukra Niti
  6. Kota, Venkatachalam.
  7. Singh, Sarva Daman. Ancient Indian Warfare.Delhi: MLBD.1997
  8. Pappu, Venugopala Rao. Nrtta Ratnavali of Jayasenapati. Kakatiya Heritage Trust. 2013

Intro to Sthaapatya Veda — Indic Architecture, Sculpture, & Painting

Indian Architecture has been the subject of much discussion and debate. Often times, rootless people have a tendency to downplay the native tradition and place emphasis on theorised “foreign contributions” to the Indic Canon. The reality, however, is that there is a long and ancient tradition of not only Art & Architecture, but even City Planning per the Vedic Tradition. In fact, while these are all often grouped under Vaastu Sastra, they are in fact properly categorised under the upaveda known as Sthaapatya Veda.

Introduction

Much as Sangeeta Sastra & Nrtya Sastra emerged from the Gandharva Veda, so too does our tradition assert that Vaastu Sastra, Silpa Sastra, and Chitra Sastra emerged from Sthaapatya Veda. “It expounds the principles involved in the areas of Vastusastra (Architecture and Planning), Silpasastra (Sculpture and Iconography), Chitrakalaa (Painting in all branches“. [1,1] Just as the Gandharva Veda is attached to the Saama Veda, this upaveda is attached to the Atharva Veda. Further, knowledge of Ayurveda, Gandharva Veda, Jyotisha, and Saamudrika Sastra is also relevant to the field.

Central to Sthaapatya Veda is the Sthaapathi (master-architect). Sthaapathoh karma sthapatyam (the work of an architect is Sthaapatya Veda). [4,44] Silpa-Sastra has a section called Sthaapati-lakshana, or the Characteristics of a Sthapathi. It says:

“I am now going to described the Sthaapatya as handed down to us from generation to generation, by the knowing of which the values and defects of the Sthaapati are known”. The Sthaapatya is fourfold— the traditional lore (Sastra), the practical experience (Karma), intuitive insight (Prajna) and the righteous conduct and character [4, 45]

Vishvakarma is considered the originator of this field of study, and Pauranic tradition holds him to the be the Divine Architect. The great cities of Dvaraka and Indraprastha are attributed to his supreme skill in the field of city planning.

For civilized people a comfortable residence is as necessary as food and clothes. In fact the standard of civilization seems to be regulated, amongst other things, by durability, scientific plan, aesthetic construction, and successful finish of buildings, religious, residential or military. [1]

Maanasaara (‘the essence of measurement’, is considered the authoritative and exhaustive text on this topic today. However, the philosophy behind Sthaapatya Veda in general and Vaastu in particular is far more ancient. “The Creative feelings of Rsis, who were attributed to be the authors of the Indian Vaastu and Silpa texts, and the practicing Silpins had to activate the centre called aakaasa or aatman“.[3,17] This aligns very much with the common thread of Dharmic thought across the native Indic traditions.

For ancient Indian writers, at any rate, architecture seems to have been a very fascinating subject, inasmuch as the Vedic, Buddhist, Epic, Pauranic, Agamic, Historical, Political and even Astronomical literature bears traces of it. [1,1]

Theoretical Foundations

As with the Indic tradition in general, the origins of epistemology date back to our most sacred texts. Along with the Vedas, the Puranas, Agamas, and literature from the Buddhist and other Nastika philosophies have all contributed to Indic Art and Architecture. Therefore, an article on Sthaapatya should give space to all of them.

Veda

The Hymns of the Atharva-veda give some information about the construction of a house.” [1,1] Maharishi Vasishta is recorded to have spoken in the Rig Veda of his wish to have a tri-dhaatu-saranam constructed for him, indicating the varied types of housing even at an ancient date. [4, 51] The Sulba-sutras, which supplement the vast corpus of the Kalpa-sutra literature, discusses the measurement and construction of various vedis (vedic altars). This is often seen as foundation for the origin of Architecture in India. Altars mentioned by Baudhayana and Apastamba reach to the height of 10-15 layers of bricks.

As western scholars would later minimisingly mention, “the authors of the Vedic literature ‘were not ignorant of stone forts, walled cities, stone houses, carved stones, and brick edifices“.[1, 3] This is, therefore, even more so the case with the authors of the Pauranic literature.

Purana

The Mahabharata contains short but comprehensive accounts of the cities of Dvaraka (III.5), Indraprastha (1.207, 30f), a floating city (III.173,3), Mithilaa (III.207, 7) and others.[1,9]

Itihaasa-Purana is valuable source of information for Classical Indic Architecture. While it is averred that many accounts may seem fantastical to our ‘modern’ eyes, they give insight on not only continuity of theory to the present day, but also provide understanding of native inspirations (rather than the current obsession with native implementations of foreign inspiration).

The Epics furnish copious description of cities, storeyed buildings, balconies porticos, triumphal arches, enclosing walls, flights of stone masonry steps for tanks and a variety of other structures, all indicative of a flourishing architecture in the country [of India]. [1,8]

Perhaps the most famous account of City Construction in the Epics was that of ancient Indraprastha (modern Delhi). From the clearing of Khandavaprastha forest to the yagna performed for its construction, to its design and implementation by Vishwakarma, to even its beguiling wonders that caused Duryodhana to fall and Draupadi to laugh, one sees the start, completion, and effects of such beautiful municipalities.

Notably, the city plan of Ayodhya is ‘strikingly similar’ to the town-plan listed in the Maanasara and various other Architectural treatises. “The temples (devaayatana) in this city (Ayodhya) were as resplendent as the sky. Its assembly-halls, gardens, and alms-houses (prapaa) were most elegant; and everywhere were arranged extensive buildings crowded with men and women……..The houses were as mines of gems, and the abodes of the goddess of fortune. The steeples (sikhara) of the houses were as resplendent as the crests of mountains and bore hundreds of pavilions (vimana) like the celestial palace of the chief among the Devas. The rooms were full of riches and corn, exquisitely gilt and decorated, and seemed as charming as pictures; and they were so arranged that men could pass from one room to another without perceiving any inequality.” [1, 9]

Puranas

While the Ramayana and Mahabharata are traditionally classified under Itihasa, the Puranas proper (said to number 108) provide a wealth of information on the science of Art & Architecture proper.  The Matsya purana has 8 expansive sections discussing Vaastu and Silpa in great detail. One entire chapter is dedicated to the pillar, which is considered ‘the regulator of the whole composition of a building’. 5 styles of columns with 8 different mouldings are described. The other chapters focus on silpa and discuss taalamaana (proportionate measurement of images). Skanda purana has 3 chapters dedicated to it, and makes mention of construction of a golden hall, special pavilions for the wedding of a princess, and even chariots. The Garuda purana comprehensively discusses the 3 main types of buildings: religious, residential, and military. Layouts of temples, palaces, pleasure-gardens, fortresses, and fortified cities are all reviewed. Murthi-sthaapana (installation of religious icons) are also discussed. These are performed by a Sthaapaka (architectural priest) distinct from Sthaapathi (professional architect). [1, 11]

Finally, the Agni Purana of all the Puranas, allocated the greatest length to Sthaapatya Veda. It devotes 16 chapters to town-planning, 2 chapters with residential building, and 13 for sculpture. That temples are again discussed here shows the antiquity of temples to Sanatana Dharma itself. There are of course other puranas which treat on the topic, such as the Naarada, Linga, Vaayu, and Varaaha, but there are all better expounded upon elsewhere.

The most notable of the minor puranas is the Vishnudharmottara. It extensively covers the Artistic tradition of India, with special emphasis on sculpture and painting.

Bhagavata Purana

Agama

The agamas are critical text to the Vedic tradition that are still used today for both temple construction and temple management. Though legend asserts that there were once countless agamas, today there are about 200, with  3 Main categories: Vaishnava (108), Shaiva (28), and Shakta (64). In fact, from these are collected the 64 Tantras (but that is a topic for another time).

The Kaamikaagama dedicates 60 of its 75 chapters to Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting. It is a highly technical and systematic text (much like the Silpa Sastra) and deals with matters such as soil testing and preparation, selection of sites, measurement scheme and cardinal points for building orientation, as well as ground plans. 20 different types of buildings are mentioned. It also provides exceedingly technical classifications such as the various styles (Nagara, Dravida, and Vesara), shapes (masculine, feminine, and neuter), materials (Suddha, Mishra, and Samkeerna), amalgamation of materials (Sthaanaka, Aasana, and Sayana), as well as various ayadi formulae regarding proportionality. [1, 13]

The Karanaagama  allocates much of its treatment to Sthaapatya Veda, with 37 chapters on the subject. The Suprabhedaagama dedicates 15 chapters, but is highly useful for laypeople due to its brevity, clarity, and precision. It is deemed superior to Varahamihira‘s Brhat Samhita in such matters and has much in common with the Maanasaara. Finally, the Vaikhaanasaagama has 2 chapters on sculpture and various taala measures.

There are other Indic texts discussing various topics under Sthaapatya Veda. These include the Arthasastra of Kautilya, the Harsacharita of Bana, the Garga-samhita, and so on. Poetry, such as Bhavabhuti’s Uttaramacharita also mention aspects of Sthaapatya, as does Yaaska’s Nirukta and other subsequent compilations such as the Amarakosa.

However, this is also a unique point of divergence as we see along with the Astika Vaidika Dharma tradition, the Bauddha Dharma contribution to the Indic concepts of Art & Architecture.

Bauddha

“In the Buddha’s time and in that portion of northern India where the Buddhist influence was most early felt—that is to say, in the districts including and adjoining those now called the United Provinces and Behar’—the arrangements of villages were practically similar…Villagers are described as ‘uniting of their own accord to build mote-hills and rest-houses and reservoirs, to mend the roads between their own and adjacent villages, and even to lay out parks.'” [1,3]

The stupa is arguably the most famous contribution of Bauddha Dharma to Indic Civilization. Amaravati, Sarnath, Sanchi, Naalanda, and Takshasila all feature constructions famous the world over. While much of it is naturally an outgrowth of the Vedic Canon, the Buddha himself appears to have been a progenitor of a distinct approach to architecture. “At places it appears as if Buddha were delivering discourses on architecture. As a matter of fact, he enjoined upon his devotees the supervision of building construction as one of the duties of the order. It is stated in one of the early texts that the Bhikkhus were told on a certain occasion by the Blessed One, after the delivery of a religious discourse, with respect to dwellings, thus: ‘I allow you O Bhikkus, abodes of five kinds—Vihara, Arddhayoga, Praasaada, Harmya, and Guhaa’.” [1,4]

Viharas are the famous grand monasteries of the Bauddhas, Ardhayoggas are considered to be unique to Vanga (Bengal) and were part ceremonial and part residential. Praasaadas are purely residential multi-storied constructions. Harmyas are more humble versions of praasaadas, and Guhas are part underground cave constructions, which are famous through India. These of course often feature the Chaitya halls known in rock-cut cave architecture. Just to give insight into the timescales associated with their completion, a small Vihara was said to take 5-6 years and a large Vihara or Prasada 10-12 years.

Houses were built comprising ‘dwelling-rooms and retiring-rooms, and store-rooms, and service halls and halls with fire-places in them, and store-houses,, and closets, and cloisters, and halls for exercise, and wells, and sheds for the well, and bath-rooms, and halls attached to the bath-rooms, and ponds, and open-roofed sheds.” [1,4-5]

There was also mention of pavilions, lotus ponds, and inner chambers of 3 types: Sivikaa-garbha (square halls), Naalikaa-garbha or rectangular halls, and Harmya-garbha (large dining halls). Gates, doors, screens, and revolving doors are all mentioned. We also find discussion of various types of furniture such as divans (pallanka), rectangular chairs (aasandako), sofa (sattango), state chair (bhadda-peetam), cushioned chair (paeetikaa), cane-bottomed chair (koccham) and so on. There is also description of carpets, rugs, pillows, and other such accents and fixtures.

Literature providing insight into the Buddhist approach to architecture includes the Jatakas, the Nikayas, various Sutras such as the Mahaa-Suddassana.

File:Amaravati Stupa relief at Museum.jpg
Frieze of Amaravati Stupa, Andhra Pradesh
Key Concepts

There are a vast and variegated number of concepts associated with Sthaapatya Veda, given its status as a meta-category for Art & Architecture. As this article is meant to primarily provide a snapshot for readers, it will be more restricted in coverage.

Any object is a vastu, hence any creation deriving from an object is Vaastu.  Vaastu literally means “site planning”.  [2] As such subjects discussed below include home planning, municipality planning, and public hygiene.

Home Planning

Land Type

There are 16 types of Lands. They are classified under forest lands, fertile lands and ordinary lands. One that is fertile, verdant, full of hills and valleys all around, contains tall and “sweet scented trees and shrubs, where the atmosphere is serene, cool, and calm, where songs of birds abound, such a location is ideal for the selection of a dwelling site.” [1, 17]

Soil Type

Per the Maanasaara, “the ground should have sweet, dense, soft, and pleasant soil.” [1,17]

Ground to be avoided include those having the smell of honey, ghee, burnt items, birds, fish, or rotten bodies, those adjacent to Royal palaces or factories or workshops, road crossings, tomb, thorny trees, uneven surface, circular/concave land, and those infested by wild animals. Suitable ground is characterised by “having various colours, taste, fertile, redolent like musk by black bees, having all good features“, sloping hills and ponds in the right directions, and so on. Such a plot of land should be selected and purified. [1,18]

Each House plan is divided into x number of plots. Each set of plots is dedicated to a deity (such as Brahma, Indra, Vivasvan, and so on). Various directions and sets of plots are specified as ideal for certain occupations. It is said that water bodies should be made in the North East, South/Southwest suitable for dining halls, etc. Specification for bedrooms, study rooms, treasuries, and rooms for amusements, and flower gardens are also made on the basis of plot set. Proportionality (something modern Indians lack in behaviour) is mandated everywhere.

Rituals

There is a specified ritual for commencement of construction. Jyotisha should be consulted to determined the auspicious moment, followed by bath and prayers. A Sthaapathi (Architect) should also be consulted.  Following this, erection of the gnomon (similar to a sundial)and pegs can be done with the assistance of a surveyor. There are 3 types of gnomons. These are long, middle and smaller.

Construction

At the centre of the prepared site a circle having a radius double that of the selected gnomon should be drawn using a chord. The gnomon should be firmly fixed at the centre of the circle.” [1, 19] It’s quite clear from descriptions from the Maanasaara, that not only Jyotihsastra, but even Ganita that was crucially & carefully applied by the Sthaapathis.

Municipality Planning

Artist representation of Lothal, Gujarat

Urban planning of the Indic variety did not merely focus on urban areas and forts. Towns and even villages were meticulously planned and established. As such, what is called city planning is better termed municipality planning, since even ancient Indic villages not only conformed to certain patterns, but had specified plans for development and maintenance.

32 ground plans are given in the Maanasaara for the construction of buildings, villages, towns, palaces, and forts. Rather than give an exhaustive list here, the construction types will be covered instead

Villages

Per Sthaapatya Veda, there were 8 types of Villages. A separate exegesis on Vaastu Saastra will better cover the topic. Nevertheless, here is a brief overview:

  1. Dandaka—suited for agraharas, with 12-300 houses, including some for munis.
  2. Sarvotabhadra—another village type suitable for aescetics (Vedic, Jain, Buddhist), but in this case housing all classes of people with different occupations. Mathas may also be constructed here.
  3. Nandyaavarta—meaning frog-shaped, this type of village may even feature royal residences. Streets here are larger and feature footpaths as well. Residences for musicians and dancers are also specified.
  4. Padmaka—Has 4-8 streets. Generally follows the pattern of the nandyaavarta.
  5. Svastika—This village type has 81 plots and is particularly purposed for the residence of kings. Naturally the main street shape is in the design of a Svastika.Has a royal palace, with residential buildings laid out around temples
  6. Prastara—with 81, 64, or 49 plots, this village type is square-shaped. There is a circular road, and it is ideal as fortified trading municipality.
  7. Kaarmuka—This village type is ideal for mercantile and productive classes. Vishnu and Siva temples are stipulated for construction at the junction of 2 streets.
  8. Chaturmukha—Square or rectangular in layout, it has four main streets in four cardinal directions, with a round boundary wall. This village type can be purposed for all ways of life.

Reading various texts of Sthaapatya Veda, the ideal of the Village Republic becomes clear. The first priority is made for defence. Each village was expected to be surrounded by a high wall of brick or stone, along with a ditch beyond it to serve as an obstacle in the event of an attack. Four main gates are considered the standard with 2 intersecting N-S and E-W streets. Often one for circumambulation of the entire village is also advised.  Tanks and ponds are also mentioned. Houses in the street could range from 1 to 12 storeys. [1,39] The main point was that residential houses should be located in areas without street congestion from traffic. In addition, murthi-sthaapana was to take place only during festivals or special occasions, and with proper religious rituals and honours. [1, 38]

Most notable, however, is that provision is made not only for village planning but re-planning!In the case of replanning a village, the architect or town planner should follow the order laid down for all villages.” [1,39] And for those who believe Hindus have no sense of heritage, here is a specific exhortation for village re-planning: “if there is any ancient building or temple in the village it should be retained and preserved.” [1, 39]

Cities

Palitana — Jain City of Temples

City and town planning are admittedly more complex.  These were categorised based on who resided in the area, the most important being the ruler of the particular polity.  There were 9 categories for cities based on 9 types of rulers: Astragrahin, Praharaarka, Pattaabhaj, Mandalesa, Pattaadhara, Parshnika, Narendra, Maharaja, Chakravartin. These in turn had various sub-categories.

The other set of cities are simply known as Nagara or Kevala:

  • Nagara/Kevala—City with four gates in the cardinal directions. Army barracks and guard quarters with temples and markets.
  • Pura—Without a royal palace.  It has many gardens and orchards for people of the various varnas. It is a centre of trade and commerce, with temples for worship
  • Nagaree—A city near a mountain or river. It should have a wall for protection
  • Kharvata—A city near pasture lands with mixed population
  • Kheta— A forest municipality inhabited by hunters
  • Kubjaka—A town with diverse types of people. It does not have a defensive wall
  • Pattana—A citadel near a river (much like Mohenjo-daro)

Forts were categorised as Sivira (camp or outpost), Vahinimukha (city with defence establishments), Sthaniya (strategic city near mountains/passes), Dronaka (fortified town built on banks of a river for commerce), Samviddha (town for brahmins), Kolaka (a samviddha with a palace for the king), Chaari/Nigama (town primarily for religious and commercial purposes), and Skandhavara (fortified town for kshatriyas). [1, 44]

There are of course the traditionally specified types of fortresses, which are 7 in number: Mountain fort (giri durgam), Forest fort (vana durgam), Water fort (jala durgam), Clay/Cave fort (panka/guha durgam), Chariot fort (ratha durgam), Divine fort (divya durgam, has extensive fortress with efficient defensive system), and Mixed fort (mishra durgam, situated among both both mountains and forest). [1, 45]

Temple construction is a topic of its own.

Harmandir Saheb – Golden Temple of Amritsar, Punjab

Given the technicality, Temple construction is better dealt with again under Vaastu Sastra. Not to play to the gallery by saying “pehle sauchalay, phir devalay“, (which should really not be an either or proposition…) but another critical aspect to discuss is the emphasis on public hygiene. Modern Indian municipalities may not be known for this (the cost of Colonialism), but ancient India certainly was.

Interestingly, not just cities, but even villages had to plan for hygiene, drainage, and catchment.

Drainage & Hygiene

With the passage of time and the efforts of archaeologists, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deny the greater and greater similarities between the Vedic culture that is recorded (and still lived today) and the ever increasing discoveries of the scale and spread of the Indus Valley Civilization, so much so, that it is increasingly being called the Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization. This, of course, dovetails with the Vedic Tradition itself, which asserts the Sarasvati-Sindhu (Brahmavarta) as the original home of all Indians.

Given the likelihood of this, and texts such as the Arthasastra which specify the high degree of regimented and disciplined public hygiene, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro are very much emblematic of Sthaapatya Veda’s emphasis on the same. If these cities in Sindhu desh show the urban plan of drainage, Sthaapatya Veda describes it right down to the village level.

It is also no wonder that Ayurveda is closely associated with it. According to Sthaapatya Ved it is imperative to known about other various valuable effects to the environment given out by various types of trees, plants, shrubs and herbs, etc. This has been studied methodically and their effects to human physiology have been stated. This is effectively used in planning a garden around a home, planting trees around a village, public gardens and tree in the cities. The trees and plants have been classified according to the location of their use.” [1, 48]

Vriksha Ayurveda, due to it extensive nature, is again, better discussed elsewhere. Nevertheless, this dovetails into the key terms for the topic.

Terminology

Keerthi Thorana, Warangal, Telangana
  • Vaastu Sastra—Study of Architecture & City Planning
  • Silpa Sastra—Study of Sculpture & Iconography
  • Chitra Sastra—Study of Painting
  • Chitra lakshana—Painting
  • Taksana—Carpentry
  • Rajadhani— Capital City
  • Graama— Village
  • Thorana—Arch
  • Devaayatana—Temple
  • Sabha—Assembly Hall
  • Sikhara—Steeple
  • Gala—Dome
  • Uttara—Lintel
  • Jaala—Jali (screen/lattice)
  • Gopura—Tower
  • Garbagriha—Sanctum Sanctorum
  • Praasaada—Palace
  • Vimaana—Pavilion
  • Visesha Bhavana—Palace of Beauty
  • Marga—Road
  • Manusyalaya—Residence
  • Aarama—Guest house
  • Alinda—Verandah
  • Prakaara—Ramparts
  • Parikha—Moats
  • Kapisirsaka—Battlements
  • Kautukalya—Museum
  • Silpasala— Art House
  • Istaka—Brick
  • Stambha—Pillar
  • Dvara—Door
  • Kaksa—Room
  • Gavaaksa—Window
  • Attaalika—Edifices/Buildings
  • Sthaapathi—Architect
  • Sthaapaka—Presiding priest at an architectural site
  • Silpi/Bhaskara—Sculptor
  • Chitrakaara—Painter

Important Texts

Vishvakarma Vastu Sastra

Vishvakarma Prakasa

Vishnudharmottara Purana

18 Mahapuranas (Matsya, Skanda, Garuda, Agni, etc)

Silpa Sastras

Silpa Ratna

Brihat Samhita of Varaahamihira

Maanasaara

Mayamata

Agamas, ie Kaamikaagama, Karanaagama, Suprabhedaagama & Vaikhaanasaagama

Suryasiddhanta

Siddhanta-shiromani

Samarangana Sutra of King Bhoja

Aparaajita-Prcchaa of Bhuvanadevacharya

Leelavati of Bhaskaracharya (mentions architecturally important concepts)

Conclusion

Much like virtually every field of study—even contribution—in Indic Civilization, Indian Art & Architecture is also subject to great controversy. On the one hand, western and western-sponsored “scholars” seek to minimise and question every accomplishment, be it intellectual or architectural, and on the other hand, the atisayokti-prone argumentative Indian reacts in grand hyperbole (“Taj Mahal was Shiva temple!“—[even this theory guys, asserts it was a palace that housed a Shiva Temple…details matter].

Marxist “historians” have only complicated matters more by inventing schools that didn’t previously exist “Indo-saracenic”, and crediting everything under the sun (pillars, domes, screens, even temples!) to foreign invaders. Finally, foreign invaders themselves gleefully catalogued their vandalism and iconoclasm that resulted in the destruction of many beautiful palaces and temples. Ghazni himself waxed eloquent on the wondrous temple of Mathura, saying it would take 200 years to build such a magnificent and glorious structure—before he proceeded to rob it of its inlaid gold and gems and burn it down with sulphur and naphta. Self-proclaimed “seculars” engage in all sorts of denialism of such realities, despite widespread primary source evidence. How can a person interested in facts, and Historical Truth, navigate his or her way through such a quagmire?

The answer lies in starting from the roots. And the roots of Indian Art & Architecture (real Indian Art & Architecture) are in Sthaapatya Veda.

Hindus had codified every branch of knowledge in some kind of Saastra and we had a Saastra on Art also. Among many Vedas and Upa-Vedas there was a Sthaapatya-Veda. Accordingly Hindu Art had a very vast scope in which Fine Arts, Technical Arts and Applied Arts, all were included. We had a full-fledged science which was called Shilpasasatra or Vaastusaastra. We had also a tradition of Kalaas what are known as ‘Catussastri-kalaas” [2, 1]

Srirangam Temple, Trichy, Tamizh Nadu

As seen  above with the Srirangam temple and also with the Vedanga Jyotisha, most of the traditional sciences in Indic Epistemology have an holistic unity. Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting are seamlessly integrated not only with themselves, but also with Ganita and Jyotihsastra. Many of course naturally protest saying the mythological and metaphysical should be kept apart from the modern and material. But in fairness, is that always the case?

Are the findings of Dvaraka real? —maybe. Are the roots of the Sarasvati-Indus Valley, Vedic?—possibly. But the answer to whether or not there was a native and ancient Indic approach to Art & Architecture should certainly be “definitely”. And that Indic approach to Art & Architecture is found in Sthaapatya Veda.

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References:
  1. Gaur, Niketan. Sthapatya Ved-Vastu Sastra: Ideal Homes, Colony and Town Planning. New Delhi: New Age Books. 2009
  2. Shukla, Lalit Kumar. A Study of Hindu Art and Architecture (with special reference to the terminology). Chowkhamba. 1972
  3. Singh, B. Satyanarayana. The Art and Architecture of Kakatiyas.Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. 1999
  4. Shukla, D.N. Hindu Science of Architecture (Vol. I). New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. 2008

Classical Indic Literature V: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry 3

Those of you familiar with our Post on Madan Utsav are no longer wondering whether Bharatavarsha had its own Festival of Love. But what if we told you there were not one but two festivals where lovers honoured and celebrated each other, and secret prayers for romance to fructify were offered to the Gods.

Sharad Rtu (autumn) is famous throughout India as the season of moonlight. The very sight of the full moon itself brings many thoughts of Sringara rasa.

Therefore, in honour of the ancient Kaumudi Utsav—celebrated on Ashvina Purnima, we give you Part 3 in our Set on Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.

While most of your are familiar by now with the peerless Mahakavi Kalidasa, today’s poet is uniquely talented in the art of Sringara Kavya. From the supple and spritely verses sauntering in the sophistication of simplicity, we give you the very pangs of separation incarnate.

Today’s installment on Classical Indic Literature features that beautiful work of Bhavabhuti called the Uttararamacharita.

Author

Bhavabhuti’s patron is thought to be Yasovarman of Kannauj, and is thus dated to the 8th century CE. Though there are debates as to Bhavabhuti’s correct time period, it is known that his ancestral home was Padmapura in the Dakshinapatha. Udumbara was the surname of his family, which was of the Kasyapa gotra. Udumbara may also correlate to the present Amraoti of Maharashtra, which was previously called Audambaravati, city of fig trees. Nevertheless, this family was of the Taittiriya school of the Krishna Yajurveda. Five generations prior was also a Mahakavi in the family. Bhavabhuti’s grandfather was Bhatta Gopala and his father was Nilakanta. Some hold that Bhavabhuti’s actual name was Srikantha, with Bhavabhuti as his title. His mother was Jatukarni. His tutor, Jnananidhi, was considered a master scholar. This Jnananidhi schooled him in the Vedas, the traditional systems of philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric. Bhavabhuti was certainly well acquainted with the Upanishads. Thus, along with being a master poet, Bhavabhuti was a master scholar himself. [1]

There is some indication that he was considered a rival of Kalidasa (if not in fact contemporaneous with him). Other non-contemporaneous rivals mentioned in the Bhojaprabandha include Bana and Mayura, and the Goddess Bhuvanesvari said to have anointed Bhavabhuti the best. Irrespective, if Kalidasa excelled at depicting Romance (sringara), Bhavabuti was an expert portrayer of Pathos (karuna) and Heroism (veera). Karuna is especially seen through the sympathetic portrayal of the separation of Sita and Rama,in the Uttararamacarita. If Kalidasa is “the Grace of Poetry”, Bhavabhuti is the “Master of Loquence”[1]. If the former is more idealistic and romantic, the latter is more realistic and varied.

Bhavabhuti was a great stylist and had a wonderful command over language; he was skilled in adjusting the sound of his verse so as to be an echo to the sense. [1,19]

The great author is known to have written three dramatic works: These are Mahaviracharita, Malati-Madhava, & Uttararamacharita.

The chief merit of Bhavabhuti’s plays, apart from questions of languages, lies, however, in their high moral tone. Even in describing ordinary human love, Bhavabhuti never wanders into the sensuous; he has probed the depths of romantic passions without descending to appeals to mere lust. He maintains a dignified gravity throughout; his ideal of a lover is one who obliterates self [1, 19-20]

Mahaviracharita is considered to be the earliest and covers the life of Sri Rama from his childhood to his later victory over Ravana and return to Ayodhya. Malati-Madhava is a love story in 10 acts. Uttararamacharita deals with the separation of Sita and Rama.

Composition

Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough. Some times people deserve to have their faith rewarded.

The Uttara Kanda of the Ramayana is one that leaves feminists aflutter in fury, but more importantly, leaves devotees and romantics alike afflicted with the pangs of pathos. One cannot help but shed tears, not only for Sita, who after all her suffering, was fated to be slandered by idle gossip, but also for Ram, who had to uphold the rigid Dharma of the Treta Yuga, and banish his beloved pativrata.

If the wife of mere Caesar had to be above suspicion, is it any wonder that the Chakravartin of Ayodhya’s had to be as well? Such laws have no place in our time of easy lies and facile gossipy gupshup. But even those of us who loathe cruel kimvadanthi can’t help but be deeply unhappy at the doom these two transcendental lovers were fated to suffer. Even the great Bhavabhuti, who authored the Mahaviracharita that celebrated Rama’s prowess, asked Vidhaatha, “Is this how you end it?“.

Determined to set things right, Bhavabhuti decided to give an ending he believed to be worthy of such a Divine Couple.

A nataka (drama) in 7 parts, the Uttararamacharita, like its predecessor, the Mahaviracharita, is a work that celebrates an episode from the Ramayana. The naayaka (hero) is a dheerodaatta (generous & self-sacrificing) and the naayika is a sveeya (one’s own rightful lover). While there is no pratinayaka (villain), the vastu (plot) is considered historical. [1, 22] While the earlier work is steeped in veera rasa, the later one is replete with soka as its sthayibhaava. While we feel the pathos of the protagonists through Karuna rasa, we also get ripples of romantic Sringara Rasa—the king of the rasas.

Sringara Rasa, as discussed in our previous article, is divided into Sambhoga and Viprayoga. While the former deals with lovers-in-union, the latter deals with lovers-in-separation. Quite possibly the epitome of viprayoga sringara was personified by that epitome of Dharma: the Divine Couple of Sita-Rama.

As such, Uttaramaracharita is very much work on viprayoga. Much maligned by misandrist feminists today, Bhagavan Ram’s deep-seated pain is searingly catalysed into our being, by Bhavabhuti kavi.

An interesting point that exposes the agendas of the “many Ramayanas crowd” is that if all Ramayanas are equally valid, then so is the Uttararamacharita—anyways based on the Uttara kanda. So either only Valmiki Ramayana is valid or the entire industry of India-hating feminists must accept the Uttaramacharita where Rama is not only reunited with Sita, but where the Goddess Ganga herself justifies Rama’s action as King who accepted the popular will.

In any event, one cannot help but be moved by the agony in Raghava’s heart. He who laid low the haughty brahma-rakshasa Ravana, now stood powerless once more before the high burden of Dharma.

The crown prince of Kosala could give up his rightful throne as if it were a speck of dust, but how could the King of Kosala banish his beloved wife, whom he rescued from Ravanasura? His duty as a king came before his duty as a husband, but that he nevertheless suffered the pain of parting becomes apparent in Bhavabhuti’s opus. Selection I alone is proof of this.

Those of you with commercial preferences for the crass persianised pidgin poetry of Bollywood may first require an immediate primer on real Romance. For the rest of us, however, the more sophisticated sensibilities of Sringara Sanskrita Kavya are more appealing to aesthetes and connoisseurs with more refined tastes.

Before we begin with the Poetic selections, in honour of the occasion, here is a brief overview of the Kaumudi Utsav.

Kaumudi Utsav

The sanskrit word kaumudi comes from the term for moonlight. As you will read in the selections below, such beauteous comparisons are not infrequent in Classical Indian Literature. They bring to mind wondrous thoughts of sleepy serene vales and dreamy autumn nights, when great love is painted on the canvas of existence.

It is in fact still celebrated in many parts of India, notably Assam, as the end of the Monsoon. Ashvin Purnima is known as Kojagiri Purnima and Sharad Purnima elsewhere. Appropriately, the Sharad Purnima itself is dedicated to none other than Goddess Lakshmi.

So without further ado, we bring you the love story of the Uttama Purusha through the Poetry of Bhavabhuti’s Uttaramacharita.

Selections
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I.Tatkaalam Priyajana viprayoga janmaa

Teevro’pi pratikruti vaanchhaya visodah |

Duhkhaagnir manasi punar vapachya maano

Hrunmarma vrana iva vedanaam karoti || A.1,Sl.30

The fire of grief arising from the separation of my beloved, however fierce, was at that time borne by me through the desire for retaliation; but now, reviving in my breast, it causes agony like a wound festering in the vital part of my heart . [1,9]

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II.Iyam gehe Lakshmiriya mamruta varthirnayanayo-

Rasaavasyah sparsho vapushi bahulaschandana-rasah |

Ayam baahu kante sisiramasrno mauktikasarah

Kimasyaa na preyo yadi parama sahyastu viraha || A.1, Sl. 38

She is the very Lakshmi of my house, and a pencil of nectar to my eyes;

Her touch is a thick sandal-paste to my body; this her arm twined round my neck is as cooling and as smooth as a pearl-string; what about her would not be pleasing, but separation from her is exceedingly unbearable. [1,11]

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III.Paripandu-durbala-kapola-sundaram

Dadhatee vilolakabaree-kamaananam|

Karunasya moorthiratha va sareerini

Virahavyatheva vanameti Janaki || A.3.Sl.4

The daughter of Janaka, her countenance charming owing to its pallid and emaciated cheeks and her loosened braids waving about, coming to the wood like the very image of pity, or rather lie the pain of separation incarnate. [1,26]

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IV.Sramaambu sisiree-bhavath prasruthamandha mandhaakini

Maruttha-ralithaalak-aakula lalaata chandra dhyuthi |

Akunkuma-kalankithojjvala-kapolamut prekshyathe

Niraabharana sundara sravana paasa mugdham mukham || A.6, Sl.37

I remember her face, as it was cooled by the perspiration caused by fatigue

with its beautiful moon-like forehead overhung with her tresses, disheveled by the gently blowing breezes of the Mandakini

with its cheeks bright, not being marked with saffron-paint and engaging with its well-formed ears, charming in their unadorned state. [1,71]

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V.Ethaani te suvachanaani saroruhaakshi

Karnaamruthaani manasascha rasaayanaani A.1, Sl.36

These thy words, O lotus-eyed one, cause the withered flower of my life to bloom,

[they] Gladden me, lull all my senses into peace, serve as nectar to the ears and as a sovereign balm to the heart.[1,11]

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VI.Advaitham sukha dukha yoranu gunam sarvaasavasthasu ya-

Dvisramo hrudayasya yathra jarasaa yasminna haaryo rasah |

Kaalenaa varanaatya yath parinathe yath premasare sthitham

Bandra tasya sumaanu shasya kathama pyekam hi tat praapyate || A.1, Sl.39

Blissful is that fortunate man who, somehow, obtains that one thing—pure matchless…

love—which is the same in happiness or misery, which adapts itself to all conditions, where the heart finds its solace, the flavour of which is unaffected by old age, and which matures, as time removes the veil of reservedness, into permanent deep affection.[1,12]

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VII.Tvam jeevitam tvamasi me hrudayam dvitiyam

Tvam kaumudi nayanayor amrutam tvamange

A.3, Sl.26

You are my very life, you are my second heart; you are the moonlight to my eyes and ambrosia to my limbs. [1,34]


References:
  1. Kale, M.R.The Uttararamacarita of Bhavabhuti. Delhi: MLBD.2010
  2. Winternitz, Moriz.History of Indian Literature. Vol 1.Delhi: MLBD.1996
Acknowledgement: My gratitude to the young man who once more lent his voice to give life to these lyrics. An example to other young men on how to respect young ladies.