Indian politics remains one of those intriguing contradictions. Young nation-Old Civilization, Land of Dharma-Many Sampradayas, and with the commencement of Navaratri, it is key to note that it is also a nation of both Kaali and Sita. Yet no dichotomy remains more pertinent than Politically Independent-Mentally Colonised. Part of this is due to the nature of macro-politics, but much of it is due to the simplistic and even childish approach many Indians take to what is a strategic and highly sophisticated game.
Politics is not so simple as “Kalki Avatar!”. For starters, many of the self-proclaimed traditionalists themselves don’t realise that Kalki Bhagavan isn’t scheduled to arrive for another 427,000 years. What will you do until then? Many of the same ‘traditionalists’ are anointing Hindu beef-eating promoters as ‘pure satvic‘, so perhaps the time has come for people to look within.
Perhaps the problems are so great that not a single government—elected or otherwise—is capable of actually ensuring Dharma samsthapana. How is this possible you ask? Look no further than the world’s oldest democracy, and understand the debate that is going on there.
To properly understand the nature of sub-national, pan-national, and international politics, one must understand the nature of macro-politics. If you still believe this is a clash of civilizations rather than a clash for civilization, you are still clueless. If you still believe that prime actors are national actors rather than transnational actors, you are still clueless. If you still believe that only your caste, and no other caste will restore Dharma, than you are dumber than a post . Rather than doing 24/7 tom-tom (or supporting those who do), shouldn’t you being doing or promoting useful things?
The British were famous for the sociopathic pleasure that took in insulting people to their faces…and Indians, for their unique talent in being oblivious to that. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
If Bharatiyas, and other nations of humanity, are in the doldrums today, it is their own rejection of Virtue all while wearing their religiosity or anti-religiosity on their sleeves.
Problems specific to Indians in general and Hindus in particular have already been diagnosed here and here. But the main problem is an international one. It is one that plagues humanity as a species. Rather than not getting enough pleasure, it is getting too much of it.
Head-up-your-ass-itis may be a universal condition, but its Indian strain is particularly virulent. Exhibit A: Moron hindus RT’ing non-Hindus referring to “moron hindus”, albeit, by quotation.
Supporting people who proffer apologia for the well-known and well-documented British role in the Partition of India only shows how the so-called “RW” is as colonised as the “LW”. Ceding space to outsiders to a degree where they actually call you morons to your face while arrogating the position to lecture you on how to “decolonise” only shows RW Hindus are no less moronic than their “left” or “Hindu Left” counterparts. Getting respect starts with self-respect.
Far be it from me to support anything he writes, but it is the height of stupidity for RW’ers to knee-jerk respond by publishing the self-same british partition apologist’s mockery of not only Pattanaik’s thesis, but any Hindu calling into question the role of Foreign Saviours—a well-documented phenomenon even in the West. This left-wing bigot’s caste caricature should be condemned, but isn’t his general point about “Right-wingers” here correct?
Having to discuss nationality is unseemly & unfortunate when one is faced with not a clash of civilizations but in fact a clash for civilization; nevertheless, it is necessary. One cannot ignore the historic, well-documented and well-known role of De Nobili and other such foreign saviours used by foreign “universal” institutions to coopt and ultimately replace first native “spiritual leadership”
Perhaps that is the greatest oddity:The worst casteists are often the biggest foreign slaves. That is the true danger of Aryan Invasion Theory. It pits Indian against Indian, while giving justification for wannabe Indian elites to become mental, spiritual, and ultimately political slaves of supposedly more “genetically pure” Aryan foreigners…Just as FC Casteist needs BC Casteist, Right Wing needs Left Wing. All this is Liberalism anyway (Classical Liberalism (RW) vs Progressive Liberalism (LW). All this is why the casteist Right Wing is as colonised as the casteist Left Wing, and why a true Dharma Paksa—a Bharatiya Dharma Paksa—is what is required.
It is fine to question our Acharyas—particularly in this questionable era—but even this must be done with respect and Maryada…or at the very least Sabhyata.
True, “holy men” aren’t above the law (let alone Dharma), but the standards of law vis-à-vis men of the cloth must be equally applied. Are they? More than that, society should not be so quick to judge those who are ministering to others—and rebuilding Rta in their own way. That is also why—contrary to ambitious casteists of all kinds—there is a distinction between religio-spiritual leadership and politico-strategic leadership. Each has its role to play and its own variety of intellectualism to embody. Let the real Bharatiya Acharyas do what they must to spread the Dharma, and let those creating risible mythologies of “greatest political genius” leave politics to the competent professionals. But that is precisely the problem—a surplus of Ego that focuses on ambitionsand (alleged) rights rather than necessities and duties.
Bharatiyas are infected by a pestilence of petulance so puerile that even a 1% disagreement with their own side results in a rhetorical (or actual) fight-to-the-death. The self-same hypocritical do-nothings whine about westerners misinterpreting our texts but don’t call out “native” Indians misinterpreting them to further Aryan Invasion Theory. The self-same hypocritical do nothings will whine about Bose’s promotion of urdu but then then double back and furnish apologia for M.F.Hussain’s bigoted and perverted paintings of Hindu goddesses. The very same M.F.Hussain’s who sins against Hindus go beyond overrated art (his initials are certainly apt). Funny how those who whine most about “cuckholdry” end up supporting those who further such an agenda. This is why your friends cannot be anointed to run your own homes. The great Kashmiri satirical writer Kshemendra wrote of such unwelcome guests who abuse and overstay their own welcome—despite coming in the guise of ‘acharyas’. That is why in the Kali Yuga, Atithi Devo Bhava does not apply. Observation of Atithi Dharma (by both sides) does.
There was a well-known criticism of Nehru that applies to self-appelled RW’ers and “trads” today: the type of intellectual pinhead who didn’t know which way was up. If you don’t know your interests, if you don’t’ know friend from foe—or at least have the sense to put someone in the “can’t be too sure/not one of us” category—then what business do you have giving advice to all and sundry?
Acharyas of old were of the mold of Acharya Vishnusarman. They had not only the command of spiritual texts, but had the practical sense to detect and distinguish the native from the foreign, friend from foe, the Daivik from the Asuric.
Rather than falling for threads and textual recitation, they had the good sense to understand capability and intentions—that is true realism. Rather than supporting Philip Goldberg & Sheldon Pollock over Rajiv Malhotra, they would have the good sense & virtue to prioritise Dharma over Rna.
Politics ain’t beanbag, and macro-politics ain’t for amateurs, intellectual or otherwise. The first qualification for this is the ability to shut up.
And this is single-biggest thing “moron hindus” lack understanding of today: the value of ‘shut up’.
Videshis aren’t here to save you because videshis aren’t interested in saving you. That is why they are always saving each other’s asseseven while on opposite sides of the same Indian dispute. Does this mean all of them are malevolent?—No. But it does mean a guest is just a guest—and not a family member. It does mean you can’t afford the risk of replacing your leadership, your primary advisors, with them. Kaakollukiyamwas written by Acharya Visnusarman—yet you recite his Panchatantra with out actually applying its lessons.
One set of morons exult in their own self-loathing embrace of English (in the name of ‘egalitarianism!’) and another set make matters worse by insulting the locals whose state in which they are living.
This childish need for external validation/inclusion is emblematic of esteem issues. This type of falling over each other to defend all things foreign, including foreigners poking their nose in your own politics, is part of the problem. Foreign friends have their politics and we have ours. It is fine to exchange notes in the clash for civilization. It is good to appreciate friends, and India does have many foreign friends of all shades who genuinely appreciate India and support its culture. But your friends cannot run your own house. They have their own house (which they must set in order) and you have yours. Many people choose to marry within their own castes—fine. But if you consider inter-caste marriage to be the same as inter-religious or inter-national marriage, no wonder many of you think you have more in common with other nations. Each nation has its own house.
Let foreigners practicing Dharma revive it in their own nations rather than ministering to India. If the above movie clip is emblematic of the real views in avowedly equality-oriented immigrant societies, what of non-immigrant societies like India? India and Europe are not immigrant societies, but old societies with their own long-established cultures or peoples. For all the talk of universalism, funny how the foreign commentators chased by LW and RW Indian publications are always North of the Equator…but never South. Leave aside African Acharyas, would an African Sonia Gandhi have been as successful among Indiots? Wouldn’t that be true internationalism and true racial non-discrimination?
Comparing notes is one thing, “outsourcing” leadership is quite another. Will this spark off xenophobia?—No, it’s just a healthy skepticism and self-respect that is required if all nations are to preserve their uniqueness. Rather than raising racial rhetoric, it will draw more attention to institutions making slaves of all races. In the guise of “freedom”, human beings are unwittingly being subjected to a hierarchy of slavery. Contrary to casteists, varnashrama dharma is not a hierarchy of slaves, but a framework for duties. No caste or class can be “respected without exception”—hypocrites and criminals of all castes and classes will be punished. If the most “classless” of communist societies simply ended up creating 3 new classes, then what is fundamentally the problem is classist and casteist attitude. So long as your approach is “kick the one who licks and lick the one who kicks”, hierarchy of slavery is all you’ll be re-establishing. So which are the institutions subjecting mankind of all colours to slavery? As Voltaire wrote, find out whom you cannot criticise, and that is who rules you…directly, or indirectly.
And that is what makes the ahankari-shikandi outrage over the Pradhan Mantri to so laughable. For all the claims of “political genius” they are utterly clueless of the macro-politics Modi faces. Many of his government’s policies are wrong: aadhar, gst, non-repeal of RTE, and yes, even demonitisation. But are many/most of these unique to him?—or part of the chillar-mukht policies proliferating around the world. Rather than threatening to vote for congress, perhaps clueless casteists should dismantle their own (substantial) ignorance and start asking…
This is why it is time for Bharatiyas to set aside nationalism and start promoting patriotism. Desa Dharma isn’t the same as Nationalism. Nationalism is “help my country, right or wrong”. Patriotism is “help my country distinguish right from wrong”. Nationalism is about superiority complexes; Patriotism is about loyalty to one’s native land. That is why the true patriot respects patriotism in others. It’s why a Scipio Africanus could meet Hannibal on the eve of Zama. Often times opposing generals, warriors, and even diplomats express admiration for the other side, and wonder how they might be have been friends were they on the same side.
There are many reasons to be upset at the Centre. But what are the international politics? What are the macro-politics? If the Centre is doing what it can do to buy you time—what are you doing with that time? Are you continuing to cavort in caste-cliques spreading asinine propaganda, or are you working together or with others to do your part for Dharma?
Daily news cycles and social media free-for-alls only accomplish so much. They are simple reactions to the greater strategic action of those subjecting you to slavery. Rather than asking “why not me?” when looking at others doing something you wish to do, ask “why me?”—to see if you are even qualified. What’s worse, is if you spend day in day out RT’ing videshis poking their noses into our own politics—what self-respect have you?
Subsequent to our preceding article on why the “Hindu Left” is an Oxymoron by Morons, it consequently became apparent that a methodical deconstruction of the origin & nature of this proposed political alignment would be required. This incipient movement by the insipid is neither something entirely new nor something entirely native.
To understand precisely why this re-igniting of the Left-Right dichotomy in the Hindu/Indic body politic is so dangerous, we will have to study the history of Socialism and Communism, which colour the connotation of “Left”, whether those ideologies are publicly professed or not.
A Case against the “Hindu Left”
The Case against the “Hindu Left”, an inchoate social media movement numbering in single digits, necessarily begins by studying the history behind not only it, but also the political ideologies that are intended to be revived by it. The funny thing about many socialist/communist revolutions is that they don’t always state upfront that their “Revolution” is meant to bring about Communism. After all, totalitarian forms of politics centrally and oppressively controlling every aspect of the citizenry isn’t exactly appealing. Vague calls for “Revolution” by label-less “Revolutionaries”, on the other hand, catch the interest of the disenchanted and disaffected. If things aren’t working, much simpler to just tear it all down.
Therefore, to properly understand exactly what the implications of a putative “Hindu Left” are, one must first study the history of this nebulous concept of “Leftism”.
A Brief History of “Leftism”
As with many phrases, labels, and typologies, concepts are not only purposefully opaque, but origins are often obscure and inapplicable to other contexts. As discussed by many intellectuals, the term Leftism originates in circa Reign of Terror Revolutionary France. It came to embody not only peasant interest or democracy & socialism, but also anti-clericalism. Hence our point in our previous article about how the inchoate Hindu Left’s demonisation of Hindu “mercantiles” will invariably be followed by demonisation of Hindu clericals. The bloody reign of terror in Revolutionary France also shows memetics affiliated with words such as “Revolution” and “Social Justice” and “Classless society”. The radical republicanism of France was soon followed by the even more virulent concept of socialism.
Often couched in literal utopian terms such as “utopian-socialism”, the origins and definitions of socialism are somewhat nebulous—likely by design. Though socialism, and some assert even communism, predates Marx, he and his associate/sponsor/sugar daddy Friedrich Engels would give these concepts a life and memeplex of their own. With the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the ground was paved for history’s bloodiest political movement. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.
A memorial to the victims of communism in Prague. There really should be a lot more of these all over Europe. pic.twitter.com/o6JwbauT4D
“In the later 1830s and 1840s the German-born Marx was as obsessed with the leg-acy of 1789 as any French intellectual, and he even planned to write the revolution’s history.” [2, 17] Thus Marx was plainly inspired by the French Revolution, showing the bloody inheritance of not only Napoleonic liberalism, but even Marxian Communism. The Reign of Terror (and the later Red Terror of Bolshevik Russia) are the norm, not the exception.
Though the more famous (and more successful) October Revolution of Russia is well-known today, there were two other months where “Revolutionaries” attempted to overturn the established order. First there were the Decembrists (of December Revolution fame in 1825). These pre-Marx “Revolutionaries” were in fact inspired by the “classical liberalism” of Post-Revolution Napoleonic France. This shows not only the etiology of socialism, but also the nature of even “classical liberalism” in overturning order and setting society aflame. It may be difficult to digest in the present time, even up until a few years ago, but it is worth considering. Along with this was the February Revolution of 1917 that resulted in Tsar Nicholas’ abdication, which immediately preceded the October Revolution in the same year. This is important because one sees the perpetual demands that are a part of perpetual revolution. As one will see later on with Critical Theory, it’s not about achieving objectives or even solving society’s problems, but applying a method. It’s the method that unites disparate objectives and motivations to form an overarching Revolution.
Ironically, Russia was considered the least likely candidate for successful Revolution by Marxists as it was not a fully developed capitalist/bourgeois society. Long considered semi-feudal, due to the only recent abolition of serfdom, Russia (which became the USSR under Lenin) was ill-positioned to implement Marx’s theory. Nevertheless, primarily due to the 5 year plans of Stalin, a massive and inhuman industrialisation drive took place. Though considered partially successful, the human toll was terrible. Above all, certain difficult facts also were suppressed.
Food productivity (meaning the ability to generate greater amounts of food) was actually higher on smaller privately-owned plots of land than on large collectivised farms. Industrialisation partially succeeded, but Soviets were barely able to feed themselves. For all the talk, Marxist theory did not deliver—but the person who discovered this in totalitarian socialist (sorry, I mean communist) Russia, was summarily shot. Incidentally, he had been arguing that the small farmer was not a “capitalist”. As we can see from our own “Hindu Left”, it’s a slippery slope with mercantiles, with mathas and small farms also being labeled so—as political expedience demands.
The spread of Communism into China (with its Maoism and Cultural Revolution), and Post-World War II, into Eastern Europe is well known. Various movements to assert even independence from Russian domination, such as in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, were summarily crushed. Moderate Socialists were displaced in Afghanistan, eventually setting the stage for the rise of the even more abominable Taliban (also showing how the “Left” and “Right” feed off each other, first eliminating true alternatives (such as the Afghan Monarchy) before falling upon each other).
Perhaps Cuba offers the most interesting case. As is typically the case with communists, they usually don’t begin by pursuing true Communism. It’s usually something more innocuous. But eventually, due to the requirements of expedience and pressures from big brother Mother Russia, Cuba went communist. That is the danger of any “Left Movement”. It starts off as one thing, but whether in France, Russia, China, or even Cuba, it eventually ends up another.
India, of course, is no stranger to ‘Leftism’. The very mention of the word conjures up images of not only the anti-national CPI (M) of “China’s Chairman is our Chairman” fame, but also the brutal Naxalites, originating from Bengal’s Naxalbari. Corporate interests have a pre-Independence History in India (the British East India Company, after all, was a Multi-national Corporation). Therefore, it is possible to oppose corporate/imperialist exploitation without allying with Leftist/Naxal movements. That’s the true meaning of Swadeshi (desa Dharma, which opposes not only corporatism and mercantilism, but also foreign imperialism).
Regardless, while links can and are made to the Ghadar “Revolutionary” movement and even great Independence fighters & veer-balidanis such as Bhagat Singh, it is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who has come to represent the Left’s greatest impact on India. Rather than an extensive bio, here are key insights into Neta ji’s vision for India, often in his own words.
It’s quite apparent, Netaji was not content merely with liberating India through his “Revolution”, but had every intention to use his powers under Socialist Authoritarianism to “mould farmers and workers according to socialism“. In short, rather than simply attaining independence and restoring a traditional Indic polity with some changes, his purpose was to change the very nature of Indic society itself. The desire to implement such ideas is seen in his own proposed solution.
Many would then argue that Nehru (hardly a profile in Dharmic leadership) also desired to establish “dams as the temples of modern India” and aimed to establish secularism in a religious country. True, but whatever asinine policies Nehru pushed through, they were done so in a parliamentary manner with some attempt at consensus. Opposition had at least some hope of legal or constitutional recourse. Nehru himself also was an advocate of democracy and individualism. Even if we think of them as both extensions of western liberalism, an elected socialist democrat is certainly less oppressive than a socialist authoritarian dictator.
Rather than turn to Dharma as his guiding political philosophy, it appears Neta ji had other philosophies in mind.
Would Subhas Chandra Bose have been a Lenin or a Stalin? Or perhaps a ‘kindly’ Benito Mussolini? Those who fancy dictators and dictatorships should consider the body count they also come with.
Ideologies of “Leftism”
As discussed in the previous section, the etiology of “Leftism” is itself rooted in the reactionary. That is, it is premised more about reacting against an existing order, be it feudalism or industrialised capitalism. That is why it targets specific classes to generate a class-war. Ironically, many “socialists” expressly chase after utopian ideals, because utopia actually means “nowhere”. Because such a workers’ paradise is possible nowhere, perpetual revolution becomes the only way forward. Hence the war against “mercantiles”, then “clericals”, then “aristocrats”.
Aristocracy does mean “rule of the best”—the problem is, it’s become associated with degenerate idiots from Bollywood. But the question of the best is premised not on the basis of nepotism, genetics or assorted luxury perversions the film industry is known for, but historically, premised on virtue (Dharma).
It was the most virtuous who had the right to rule. It was why whatever the legalities of the succession crisis of Hastinapura, the matter should have been settled the moment the question of “who is the most virtuous” came up. This need not be read as justification for monarchy, but rather an explanation of what aristocracy meant and means in the first place. Even American Revolutionary Thomas Jefferson spoke of a “natural aristocracy”. This is because the American concept of Revolution was something quite different than the one envisioned by Marx—and also communism proper hadn’t been invented and popularised yet.
De Tocqueville asserted that Lawyers were the natural aristocrats in the United States. The legal profession is one not premised on birth, but on qualification (specifically passage of the bar exam, and ideally, a Law Degree). One possibility for a Dharmic Polity would reorganise varnashrama dharma along qualification lines rather than pure birth lines—with individual merit being premised on the virtue (rather than coaching centre/genetic network based “merit”)—and banning birth-based “untouchability”, which discriminates against whole communities of Hindus. Whether one agrees or not, it is at least some viable solution that preserves freedom and dignity.
That is the Danger of the Hindu Left and the case against the Hindu Left. “The desire to turn unique human beings into identical socialist bricks explains why socialist regimes are often totalitarian [or authoritarian in Subhas Chandra Bose’s case]—because it is the only way they can make a serious attempt to achieve their aims. The socialist obsession with equality has always been at war with the division of labor and knowledge that comes naturally” [1, 32]
If varnashrama dharma (misnomer: caste) is a key part of Vedic Dharma, then the Hindu Left will forever be at war with “the division of labor”.Perpetual Revolution is built into the Hindu Left concept.
“Karl Marx, the most famous of socialism’s found-ing fathers, harshly condemned the division of labor and the inequality it produced, and sought to elimi-nate it precisely in order to destroy existing societies so that they could be replaced by presumed Commu-nist utopias. Marx and Marxian socialists sought (and seek) to use the coercive powers of government to stamp out all human differences, differences that Marx himself called a “contradiction” of the socialist ideal.” [1, 37]
The fundamental problem with socialism that in its obsession with Inequity it promotes Iniquity.
“Socialism can lead to the ‘end of truth,’ as Hayek called it, because socialists believe in indoctrinating people into ‘The Truth’. This is why socialists regimes have made us familiar with ‘reeducation camps’ and rigid, totalitarian ideological conformity. Socialists believe that there are no legitimate, alternative view-points.Socialists’ propaganda must dominate the educational system and the mass media so that, in Hayek’s words, ‘a pseudoscientific theory becomes part of the official creed’ which ‘directs everybody’s actions.” [1, 58]
Finally, India is a Truth-based society. It’s national motto is, not for nothing, Satyameva Jayate. It is the land of Satya Harishchandra who would not tell a lie, and Lord Rama, who ensured his father’s promise did not become a lie. Even when Krishna made Yudhisthira tell one small lie, the purpose was to protect the greater Truth. And even here, Yudhisthira accepted the sin associated with telling even a ‘white lie”. Red lies, on the other hand, are an whole other story.
“’Truth’in a socialist society is not something to be debated; it is mandated and enforced by the Social-ist regime, from which there is no alternative and no appeal.Once socialist ideology takes over and respect for actual truth is destroyed, wrote Hayek, then all morals are assaulted because all morality is based on respect for the truth.” [1,58]
Now Hayek and his Austrian school are no Saints. His Free-market Capitalism theories have also come under the scanner, not only in the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, but even through the association with Chile’s Pinochet. Again we see how LW and RW feed off each other, but capitalism can be critiqued at another time. If communism through Marx provides the most accessible critique of capitalism, capitalism through Hayek does the same for communism. Hence Hayek.
Irrespective, the following should now be clear:
“Socialists, of all varieties, tolerate no opposition, allow no competing authorities, and are at continual war with individuals, families, private organizations, churches, businesses, and local and regional authori-ties that might oppose or interfere with their grand vision for reordering society. Socialists believe in total control. They want to control you.” [1, 76]
But if a “Hindu Left” can be packaged and posited by those who promote the achievements of the “Revolutionary Socialist Party”, perhaps a brief overview of the various forms of Socialism is in order.
The most fundamental characteristic of socialism is an obsessive commitment to the creation of an egalitarian society, based on solidarity and collectivism. There is a general drive to remake the world, usually in their own image, by controlling the means of production. The term itself is thought to date back to Revolutionary France, with the first type:
Utopian-Socialism: Where has it ever been applied successfully? “Nowhere?”. It is a theory of social transformation of society, solving various issues in the vaguest of terms with some nebulous notion of universal equality. Etienne Cabet, Henri Saint Simon, and Charles Fourier were all utopian-socialists focused on revolutionising society. Saint-Simon agitated against idlers (such as the nobility, and surprise… the clergy). He was a French aristocrat himself. Self-loathing socialist hypocrisy did not start with Engels.
Anarchism: This particular form should send shivers down the spine of any WWI buff. It was an anarchist who assassinated Franz Ferdinand setting off the ‘Great War’. Though it does cover a wide range of views, it is embodied by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin. Interestingly, Proudhon was anti-feminist, anti-homosexual, and very puritanical, but was also anti-property—securing his socialist credentials, despite his hatred of government. Bakunin’s main disagreement with Marx and Engels was on centralisation and on whether the Russia was the most likely candidate for Revolution, because its peasantry was more oppressed than factory workers in the West.
Communism (International Socialism):“a political system in which men live cooperatively and hold property in common“. [2, xxii] It offers a critique of capitalism ostensibly to provide a replacement. Its major proponent, often termed originator, is Karl Marx. He provided a simplistic analysis of history based on a simplistic linear progression from slave society, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism, to communism. Marx himself insulted Hinduism, likely resulting in the deep-seated hatred Indian Marxists, Communists, and Leftists have for Hinduism.
Maoism: A form of Communism based on the stipulations of Mao Tse-Tung. He developed a theoretical justification for the establishment of Communist power in non-industrial societies based on the backs of peasants and the petty bourgeoisie. Interestingly, Capitalists are known above all for turning small businessmen (petty bourgeoisie)into impoverished workers, creating a built-in base of alienation. Mao is also significant for his prioritisation of National over International Communism.
Fascism(National Socialism): Contrary to most people who view Fascism as the polar opposite of Socialism, it is in fact a form of socialism (a middle class socialism rather than a working class socialism). It is an internal dichotomy within socialism itself. In the communist form, workers take control directly and establish a dictatorship. In fascism, corporate interests capture the government and again ensure specific, sweeping policies are pushed through and concentrate resources in the hands of a few. Above all, like communism, it establishes a tyrannical centralised bureaucracy that eliminates power at the state and local levels.
“fascism is just another form of socialism” [1, 13]
Social Democracy: Most often characterised by Sweden and Swedish Social Democracy. In true Bastiat fashion, the regulative tyranny of the Bureaucrat replaces the tyranny of the Politburo.
Ostensibly what Indira Gandhi had in mind when she inserted “Secular” and “Socialist” into the Indian Constitution. Interestingly, she later suspended democracy to establish the “Socialist” Authoritarian Emergency in India.
No matter what the form, all you need to know is that 100 million people have died from Socialism. [1, 59]
Feminism: Though not a form of government (yet…), it seems to have taken on elements of perpetual revolution through its eventual pursuit of not only political equality but ostensibly biological equality. Interestingly, Friedrich Engels (sugar daddy of Karl Marx) could be considered the First modern Feminist due to his express desire to emancipate women through the destruction of private property. While the downsides and flipsides to Feminism are discussed here, the implications of Radfem should be jarring to all.
Critical Theory refers to the Frankfurt School of Marxism. It sought to effect cultural change through “social critique” and reexamination through the Marxist method. It is deeply rooted in Marxist notions of historical materialism. This arose out of Marx & Engels’ criticism of utopian-socialism’s inability to deal with the present based on use of the past.
Study of History is Important. But how it’s done, and how it’s even defined also matters. Those who mock the Indian approach to Itihaasa and life as “supernatural” deserve to be questioned on whether they are really Hindu at all. After all, all they seem to be doing is merely passing off the etic as the emic. Within the Marxian theory of history itself is a theory for change, and ultimately, the seeds for Revolution.
History to them is mere agit-prop.
This list is of course not exhaustive. But it is meant to show just how many-headed this Hydra truly is. It will also help readers understand the actual origin behind the “Hindu Left”, and why it is simply repackaging old (poisonous) wine in a new (saffron) bottle.
Origin of the “Hindu Left”
The origin of the “Hindu Left” is a curious case, much like that of Benjamin Button. It is an old concept that seems to be getting only younger with time.
Although many twitterati seem to be under the impression that the term originated with 3 “incorruptibly chankian” uber-patriots of bose-ian Hindu dispensation, the overt call for a Hindu Left starts with a publicly “out”, formerly Christian, cultural marxist lesbian who inserts Freudian interpretations into Hindu texts. While alternative lifestyles shouldn’t be an issue in discussing the origin of such ideas, there has been a noted pattern of individuals with such an orientation seeking to change the traditional interpretation of Hindu texts(often with videshi or evangelical sponsorship).
Ruth Vanita is a well-known author of books on queer studies, specifically in the Indian context. Interestingly enough, it is she who appears to have been the origin of this (polish the gold trumpets…) clarion call for a “Hindu Left”. On what basis, this is not clear. Though Dharma does not persecute people of alternative lifestyles it does not promote such lifestyles either. So if not Dharma, what could such an ostensibly “Hindu” Left entail? Here is an illuminating section from her Post:
“No one seems surprised that Hinduism is perhaps the only religion in the world today that is supposed to have a Right but not a Left. In Europe, the US, Canada, and in South American countries, there is a secular Right and Left, and also a Christian Right and Left. While the Catholic orthodoxy opposes abortion and homosexuality, there are many vociferous Catholic groups that support both. There is an organization of gay Catholics called Dignity. Almost every major Protestant sect has a left wing and a right wing. The tradition of organized Christian feminism dates back to the nineteenth century and many earlier Christian writers are clearly proto-feminist. Today, the secular, that is, atheist or agnostic, left routinely works and organizes in cooperation with the religious left.1 Both constitute a visible presence in left-wing demonstrations. Gay Pride parades, for instance, always have substantial contingents of gay Christians and Jews. Similarly, in most Islamic countries, there is a Muslim Right and a Muslim Left. In India, however, there is almost no Hindu organized Left.2 What does this mean and why is it so? Does it mean that there are no leftists who are practising Hindus? Not at all. It is well known that even in their most militant days, Calcutta’s communists migrated en masse to Durga Puja celebrations, and I personally know Marxist academics at Delhi University who are pious Hindus at home, regularly fasting and performing puja. But at the level of public theorizing and organizing, this aspect of their lives remains invisible and unspeakable. The number of Indian thinkers today who try to integrate religious and leftist thinking can be counted on the fingers of one hand – Ashis Nandy and Ramchandra Gandhi are among the very few who make this attempt with Hinduism.”
Ah, yes, Ashis Nandy, famed worthy of Leftism parodied here, is making an attempt at concocting a “Hindu Left”. Interestingly enough, the unofficial bio of Mr. Nandy here shows his affiliation with the Bengali Christian community, despite being a “non-believer”. So these are the eminence grises, the delicate geniuses behind the “brilliant” idea of “Hindu Leftism—an oxymoron apparently originated by morons who aren’t even originally Hindu.
Naysayers may argue that there are many “sincere conversions into Hinduism”, and that may be true, but for both to come from an avowedly abrahamic background and then seek to influence the Hindu body politic does strike one as more than a bit convenient. This is the case all-the-more so when one realises its aim at merely replicating the Abrahamic experience of Left vs Right, in India. Irrespective, one thing is clear, despite the Hindu label, based on this excerpt, the Hindu Left is mean to be non-Dharmic in orientation. Indeed, this is apparent in one of the concluding lines of her message:
If more liberal and leftist Hindus begin to acknowledge their Hindu identity and speak in defense of Hindu heritage, this can only strengthen, not weaken, the secular left.
Is this the real definition of “Hindu Left”. Will they bring the “true socialism” that the USSR and PRC failed to provide?
So the Hindu Left is merely a roundabout means to “strengthen, not weaken, the secular left.”How lovely. After all the hard work of cultural Hinduism exerting itself in the last 30 years, a plan b for the secular left to impose its politics on India has emerged in the form of, drumroll please, the ‘Hindu Left’.
Code words and Catchphrases include such common bon mots such as revolutionary, solidarity, worker vs bourgeoisie, peasant vs mercantile, solidarity, etc.
While the modus operandi of this triumvirate was discussed in our previous article, the first triumvir seemed to have picked up the baton (or proverbial hammer and sickle) from Ruth Vanita just after the LiveMint article was published. Her ‘nationalist credentials’ were established with her “timely” support for Narendra Modi to speak at UPenn. She soon allied with like-minds, including the previously mentioned slippery eel, and one ironically Kalhana-quoting dushtamatya. Opportunism, after all, needs no ideology, only a means to (academic) self-promotion. From there, she would then have the foundation from which to lead an effort to revive Leftism under a rebranded Hindu Left.
All these personalities and the movements or parties they were a part of speak of revolutionaries, socialism, and humanism—even if they don’t expressly support communism. The Bengali Rosa Luxemburg (the original one was a ‘revolutionary’ Marxist who led an abortive ‘revolutionary uprising’ centered around the German Communist Party), seems to pretend that Revolutionary is some innocuous, ideology free term.
Colour Revolutions are, of course, not a new concept. There was a “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon, an “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, and even a “Saffron Revolution” in Myanmar. What makes them concerning is not necessarily the degree of violence associated with them or the ideology, but rather, the questions of extra-national financing. That is the reason why any call for “Revolution” or “Revolutionaries” must be carefully examined. This is because any overturning of the existing political order (krama) benefits external actors (paradesis). Matsya Nyaya naturally breeds Marxists. Dharma, on the other hand, is about upholding order (Rta), which is the expression of Truth (Satya).
But for historical materialists such as this maven, anything dharmic or spiritual is invariably supernatural. Even fellow Bengali, Sri Aurobindo, does not escape critique from our resident Bengali Chauvinist.
Make no mistake, the Hindu Left is not some haphazard movement that came together by coincidental and happy circumstance. It is a concerted push to derail the return of cultural Hindus to political Dharma proper.
Cultural Marxism is a pestilence because it deconstructs (aka tears down) the status quo without offering a viable alternative. Sound familiar?It doesn’t take responsibility for providing solutions that can actually work, or for building a “pro-Hindu” party beyond the BJP—no, that would mean actual accountability. It’s why the brilliant idea to themselves work to build a transparent platform and new nationalist party never occurs to these delicate geniuses. Delicate genius can’t be bothered to see if its theories actually work in real life. Hence the need for simplistic agitprop, implicit support for Socialist Revolution, and explicit calls for a nebulous Hindu Left (meant to actually strengthen the Secular Left).
Nationalism is nothing new for socialism.As the Chinese and Vietnamese have shown, nationalism is nothing new for communism either. Socialists have in fact called for combining it with other traditions (such as the Hindu tradition) to make it and Marx relevant again.
Identity politics is nothing new to Marxism, Socialism, or Communism—Revolutionary or otherwise. Engels (the other half of the Marx-Engels Communist Manifesto) himself argued for the ‘emancipation of women’ through the elimination of private property (the Sex and the City lifestyle is apparently much more accessible if Carrie Bradshaw’s Manohlo Blahniks belong to all women…). Though the American Civil Rights movement featured many who drew upon the philosophy of Jefferson and Madison rather than Marx, a number of Marxist/Communist radicals would coopt or even spearhead anti-racist movements (sadly, the term racism itself owes its origin to the despicable Trotsky, who spoke the language of racial equality but had no respect for the sanctity of human life, unborn or adult).
"For us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly…prattle about the 'sacredness of human life." Leon Trotsky pic.twitter.com/UCSU9BnArV
And the close association of Cultural Marxism with the RadFem and LGBT movements needs no introduction. If all these movements could be coopted (or even engineered), why can’t an Identity politics for Hindus? After all, all the requirements are there:
The reason is because to openly tout communism or even Socialist Authoritarianism would immediately alienate important and specific sections of the population. It is far easier to speak in vague terms about “revolutionaries” and “left” or even “hindu left” without providing an alternative to the common man. Thus, gradualism and communism are not strangers, but go hand in hand. Like certain religious extremists, they begin to assert that the problem was not too much socialism, but rather “not enough socialism or not real socialism”. The problem with socialism is that if you keep adding more and more socialism you eventually end up with communism. That is why socialist gradualists must be kept at arm’s length or even ostracised (along with their pinhead recommendations)—the end goal of these leftist movements is communism, plain and simple. They just can’t spell it out for you…yet. Cuba’s approach to full communism is proof of this.
Revolutionary martyrs such as Che in Cuba are invoked in a familiar template celebrating the “Revolutionary Spirit” and “Revolutionary Psyche”. Proponents will obviously draw comparisons with the American Revolution—but communism had not been created yet. The term Communist doesn’t even always appear in Party names.
The Communists Party in Russia formed around the “Social-Democratic Labour Party” (Bolshevik itself means ‘majority’), East German Communists relied on the Socialist Unity Party, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge had the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party, and Poland had the Polish United Worker’s Party
“Indian academic Ruth Vanita posed the same question in an essay in Seminar magazine (2002) , titled Whatever happened to the Hindu Left?”
“What all this means is that there is still a huge political vacuum – a need gap, in free market terms – for the Hindu Left. A political formation that combines a genuinely Hindu religiosity – marked by pluralism and a respect for minorities – with an economic agenda oriented towards employment-generation rather than creating “an ideal investment climate”, is bound to resonate with an electorate tired of having to choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the national level.”
Most jarring is the history of appropriating unrelated Hindu Dharmic figures into the Hindu Left, starts from the very beginning.
“And the Hindu Left has a long and worthy tradition – going back to the Bhakti movement, with a continuous lineage all the way from the Nayanmars and Alwars to Kabir, Meera Bai, Surdas, Tulsidas, Namdev, Tukaram, Tyagaraja, and many others right till the arrival of Ramakrishna Paramahansa in the 19th century.”
Apparently Saints like Tulsidas and Thyagaraja are now Hindu Left “Revolutionaries” too!
Everyone can be a Revolutionary (ideological consistency need not be required!).Only a Hindu label and a leftist politburo or a socialist utopianism, and voila, a new party of political interests dedicated to the destruction of traditional culture!
Just as the “Hindu right” has been created to trot out Friedmanesque, Reagan-lite, objectivist drivel all in the name of “animal spirits” and the “miracle of capitalism”, so too is the other face of this Liberal Janus being debuted recreating the Left within the Hindu body politic
But since the days of Manu, same-gender relations have not been advocated. Whether or not they should or shouldn’t be criminalised in modern India is another matter, but pretending as though Dharma protected or even advocated same-gender relations is specious reasoning at its finest. Ruth Vanita, Saswati Sarkar and their “Hindu Left” embody everything that Dharma is not.
One need not speculate whether these 3 individuals of the Bose triumvirate lead such alternative lifestyles (hence their advocacy of “the Hindu Left”). Nevertheless, it is important that gullible Hindus easily falling for slogans, sloganeering, and slow-witted ideologies understand the ramifications of “Revolutionary” changes to society that would be brought by an ostensible “Revolutionary Socialist Party” or oxymoronic “Hindu Left”.
The Hindu Left is merely the agenda of liberalism in newly stitched garb. Old (poisoned) wine in a new bottle. Once upon a time “classical Liberalism” appeared to stand for something. It has now become apparent that liberalism is nothing but libertinism—a tool for the destruction of society and social morays.
If India is to remain the Land of Dharma,it must reject not only the oxymoronic”Hindu Left” of Ruth Vanita and the Bose Brigade, but must reject Liberalism (which is nothing but progressive initiation into Libertinism). All of these foreign ‘philosophies’ ultimately, like secularism, have their root in Protestantism. Do tell us, ye revolutionaries, if the “Hindu Left” project fails, will you bring about “Hindu Protestantism” next? Inquiring minds wish to know.
Is it any wonder the leader of the Bose Brigade called for the prostitution of women (royal or otherwise). Despite their undeserved arrogance on history, they even got the history wrong, as the Chachnama story of the Sindhi Princesses is considered apocryphal, and no “seduction” is required if one is sent to be a sex slave. As one can see here, Socialist countries place no value on the honour and dignity of women—who were degraded as sexual objects by men…and often other women. Is this the “Hindu” society that these “revolutionaries’ wish to recreate? That is why the word dharma/dharmic generally only appears in their dialogue sarcastically. Hinduism not being our word, it is only natural that these phoreign-sponsored “revolutionaries” would degrade our Dharma. Bhadralok is of course a sacred term—but Dharma? Who needs that? Since when is Dharma ‘revolutionary’?
And that is precisely the point. Dharma is not revolutionary, because Dharma itself seeks to uphold order Rta, which is the expression of Satya. The order may be adjusted to time and place, but the fundamental Saamaanya Dharma is common to all, and has a common interest of preserving Truth (in all ages). In contrast, Communists and Socialists are famous not only for their political assassinations, but also for their assassination of Truth. Can such a people be trusted to uphold Dharma, Rta, and Satya in their soon to be revived Revolutionary Socialist Party?
The recent deaths during the post-Dera Sacha Sauda ruling are truly tragic. The lives of people of all castes and communities matter and should be treated with dignity. Use of force must be restrained save in the gravest of circumstances, as there are non-lethal methods of crowd control as well. Sensitivities to the Dalit community in particular are crucial not just to Hindu society’s future, but to the true principles of Dharma.
Socialism is mealymouthed and ambiguous enough for them to attempt to weasel out of the fundamentalist and tyrannical baggage accompanying communism and totalitarianism. And yet, their hero Subhas Chandra Bose himself advocated Socialist Authoritarianism. Is it therefore not logical to infer that they too are advocating the same? Naturally, our three (J)eeniuses (with a capital J) would presumably to be on the politburo, dictating to “mercantile” (if any will be left), feudal, and clerical alike. The peasant, of course, would already have been easily fooled like the animals on Orwell’s farm. Because after all, no socialist society ever achieved perfectly equal, classless society. They only managed a “more equal” society. With various classes such as the “intelligentsia” forming to “guide” the worker and farmer alike.
Many people may be quick to aver that National Socialists in fact represent the Right rather than the Left. But this is why it’s called False Dichotomy. It’s a false choice between an International Socialism and National Socialism. The end result is still Socialism (itself a nebulous utopian concept that ensures those with the power have no accountability). Capitalism paves the path for oligopoly and monopoly, with Communism leading first to national expropriation then international expropriation, preferably by a suitable international body.
"@menkris:There is something of the oxymoron in Hindu right or left.Hinduism renders itself to the Absolute,not absolutism." Vry gd obs-
That is why both Leftist and Rightist rejects must be rejected.They both represent different brands of the same crummy product. The Hindu Left is simply creating a different starting point. While the Communist Party (Marxist) was very clear that “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”, the newly proposed “Hindu Left” merely mimics the original position of the Communist Party of India, in asserting the need for a Hindu Chairman. The Hindu Left still wants a Chairman, specifically a Socialist Authoritarian one.
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. The “Hindu Left” is nothing but another hare-brained attempt to revive Socialism, except this time, rather than an anti-national socialism, the aim of these nitwits is a “National Socialism”. That is why their tactics, behaviour, & ill-conceived literature matches a certain Austrian circa 1920.
It has often been said that if fascism were to return, it would be in the guise of anti-fascism. Here is the face of the “hindu antifa”. Therein lies the problem with only focusing on “social justice”—such movements ignore the importance of other established aspects of Justice, such as forbidding crimes against humanity—whether in the name of socialism, etc. But when its socialism and social justice uber alles, it’s not simply Stalin vs Hitler, but Stalin & Hitler. What Hinduism, Hindu culture, or even Hindu dharma actually is risks becoming the sole purview of one man’s whims, beef-eater or otherwise.
That is the danger of super-imposing foreign typologies without regard for native philosophies. A square peg is force-fitted into a round hole, with predictable results. Contrary to critical theory, (Hindu) Poetry did not die with WWII and its accompanying atrocities. Hindu Philosophy wasn’t debunked with the discrediting of the (European Christian) Enlightenment. And Hindus need not struggle to harmonise the material with the metaphysical.
Long ago, Acharya Chanakya spelled out the prime directives of Rajadharma in his Arthasastra. These are:
Raksha (Protection from External Threat)
Palana (Internal Law & Order)
Yogakshema (citizen well-being).
Of course, many self-appointed Subandhus believe themselves to be Chanakya and attempt to rule by proxy due to “authority” ending up burnt like both. Ministers, as even Chanakya notes, are servants of the King. Raksha, Palana, and Yogakshema are the responsibilities of Kshatriya Dharma, and that core aspect of Kshatriya Dharma (Raja Dharma). Kshatriyas (by character, not necessarily birth) are not mere warriors, but traditional aristocrats who are responsible for protecting their people. This is the danger of separating the “intelligentsia’ from politico-military functions. Those who govern must understand the implications of the policies and even “political movements” that are being advocated.
The opposite of an aristocracy (rule of the best) is kakistocracy (rule of the worst). If the original notion of aristocracy was rooted in virtue or Dharma, then it is only natural that kakistocracy be rooted in Adharma.
“Government becomes more and more a government of the worst, by the worst, and for the worst. That is what socialism delivers.”[1, 63]
Socialism is nothing but kakistocracy in a supposedly ‘non-racist, non-misogynist, non-homophobic, non-transphobic, and non-whatever else you can [insert here]” form. The worst sanctimoniously assume the moral high ground by highlighting discrimination against increasingly micro-minorities, despite the bureaucrat or politburo collective effectively rejecting morality. Theories of racism or ill-treating people of other races or backgrounds is indeed unethical. But there are greater crimes, such as mass murder, which socialists have no compunction about.
Ironically, even Communist government was not free of class. Most socialists don’t even claim to have eliminated inequality, only to have formed a more equal society with less ‘antagonism’ between classes. Workers and peasants remained two classes of society with the ‘Intelligentsia’ forming the main component of a third called ‘stratum’. So 3 classes to replace 4?
Hindu society has come along way from the various forms of discrimination. But if its systems have become associated with pejorative words such as “collaborator”, “hypocritical”, “greedy”, and keeping the “chote log” down, it is due to the fall of cultural and political elites from their own values. It is adherence to values that determines virtue in society. The path to correction is not jumping from the frying pan into the fire via Revolution.
The plight of the Dalit is better today and there is a path for young and talented Dalit boys and girls to rise to see their potential come to fruition and succeed alongside others with dignity. But is the path to ensuring this to all Dalits through internally-driven reform or externally-funded revolution? These are the questions right-thinking Hindus of all castes must ask.
False dichotomies are nothing new to socialists of all sorts. “Joseph Stalin, engineered a rhetorical/propaganda coup (with the help of the worldwide socialist movement) by repeating the notion that the only alternative to Russian socialism was fas-cism”. [1, 65]
After all, there is no centralised Church or Papacy in Sanatana Dharma. True culturo-spiritual (adhyatmik) authority lies not with Nagpur, but in Dvaraka, Badrinath, Sringeri, Puri, and a panoply of other peethas, mathas, and even agraharas of different sampradayas. Each traditionally trained acharya is vedic voice of 1 by virtue of the deeksha and adhyapana they’ve undergone and the achara they are oath-bound to live—it is they who (together) clarify what traditional Vedic Dharma is, not Savarkar or even Swami Vivekananda for that matter. The sangh is merely a political organisation, whatever the relief work and social service of well-meaning karyakartas. That is the difference between RW “Hindutva” and actual Sanatana Dharma.
Thus, as we stated before, there is a clear basis for a proper Dharma paksha. A Contemporary Dharma paksha is what is required, not some anti-national left, or now notionally nationalist hindu left vs a nationalist hindu right. A Civilizational Dharmic fight is what we face, and a pragmatic and Contemporary Dharma Paksha is what we need. One not rooted in rhetoric or foreign invention or repressive ritualism or hide-bound traditionalism, but one that recognises the exigencies of the time while remaining rooted in and protecting the tradition and those who live it. It is one that neither scapegoats specific varnas nor discriminates against specific Bharatiyas nor imposes foreign ideologies, but respects Hindus (and Bharatiyas of all backgrounds) while restoring and preserving Dharma.
Merely applying a saffron teeka onto Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will not paint over the background of accompanying red. The end goal of Socialism is Communism.Those arguing that the BJP’s philosophy was termed “Gandhian Socialism” ignore three key points.
Western Theory was the default characterisation of the time. Even until recently.
The BJP and ostensibly Gandhian philosophy both support Democracy
Subhas Chandra Bose not only favoured Socialist Authoritarianism, but expressly sought for something between Hitler’s Fascism and Stalin’s Communism
Many have assumed trappings of rajas without following true rajadharma, just as many have assumed trapping of Hinduism (as a mask for leftism) without following true Hinduism (more properly called Sanatana Dharma).
Nehru’s and Gandhi’s sins are well-known and deserve condemnation. Patel deserves fresh re-evaluation. The culture of hero worship itself should cease, and a culture of self-respect created rather than a perennial reliance on avatar-hood (genuine or otherwise). But Bose’s own words speak for themselves
And that is precisely the point. Both these totalitarian typologies of government, fascism and communism, are merely forms of socialist authoritarianism. The end goal of socialist authoritarianism is always in the end, totalitarian communism.
Socialism, Communism—and especially since 2008—Capitalism, have all become increasingly discredited systems of Political Economy. Whether it is Neo-Leftism or Neo-Liberalism, they all find their origin in Western Liberalism and ultimately Protestantism. But Hindus have their own basis for Economics and Political Economy (Arthasastra). Irrespective of the origin of Western Parliamentary Democracy, Ancient Hindus even had many forms of government, primarily Rajya (monarchy) and Ganajya (republic). The present Republic of India is called Bharat Ganarajya.
That is why the time has come for native Indic Systems inspired by native Indic Philosophies guiding native Indic Political Movements. Whether it is the Niti of Krishna, the Niti of Vidhura, the Niti of Chanakya, the Niti of Shivaji, or the Niti of Banda Bahadur Singh ji, there are many schools of Rajaniti in the Dharmic System of Governance: Rajadharma. Attempting to appropriate them into foolhardy rebranding movements is disingenuous in the least and despicable at worst.
The time has come, not for Neo-Liberalism, Hindu Leftism, or even Pseudo-Traditionalism, but rather, a Contemporary Dharma that treats with dignity all Bharatiya jatis, that preserves core tradition, but pragmatically faces the Exigencies of the Timeunder the civic mandates of Rajadharma:
Raksha, Palana, Yogakshema
DiLorenzo, Thomas J. The Problem with Socialism. Washington D.C.: Regnery. 2016
Priestland, David. The Red Flag: A History of Communism. London: Penguin. 2009
Bhalla, Praveen.The Life and Times of Subhas Chandra Bose. New Delhi: Ocean. 2016
The past 3 years of NDA government has left many Hindus feeling ambivalent about party politics. After all, for all the fanfare and rhetoric, there has been little dramatic change on the ground. Sure, there has been drastic policy pushed, but how much has it been in the Hindu interest? Demonetisation was hardly a priority, whatever black money fighting slogans were touted (and cashless society has been advocated for around the world with many advising against it).
As usual, our Internet Hindus miss the Woods for the Trees, and fail to factor in the background macro-politics that influence national politics the world over. Contrary to the narrative of Narasimha Rao or alternatively Manmohan Singh being the Father of Economic Reforms, the reality is that the Balance of Payments crisis led to a vulnerable India accepting pressures from “the International Community” (whatever that means…) to liberalise its economy. What has been the effect of this? Yes, malls and growth in retail consumption and satellite TV, but also NDTV and a host of other nominally national but phoreign owned economic realities, and ultimately political realities. That is the whole point of ‘Breaking India’. Indians need to understand that simply studying party politics or foreign-sponsored history textbooks or foreign doctored historical sources will not tell us the whole story. Critical thinking and following the money trail is required to understand exactly who is pro-Indic and who is not.
That is why it is so ironic to see the same sanctimonious voices, making pretence to incorruptibility, equate Modi with Mamta. Seriously? TMC=BJP? I mean, really, it takes either a special kind of stupidity (or a behind the scenes complicity) to cause so-called “scholars” to mislead gullible internet hindus into believing such false equivalency. Any criticism of their positions immediately leads to echo-chamber tactics (followed by cowardly blocks) or generally labeling of people as “Right wing” or “RSS” or “mercantile”. But what of those who reject both Right wing and Left wing politics as mirror images of each other, and what of those who prefer decentralised Dharma to “hindutva”? Such uncomfortable realities can’t be acknowledged by those with private agendas. After all, if “all parties are same”, what objection is there to this?
The reality, there is a concerted effort to reconstitute Socialist/Communist politics not under the unpopular Marxist/Communist label, but under the “Hindu Left” label. A methodical approach of first appearing to stand up for the Hindu cause…through needed documentation of Human Rights violations of Hindus…followed by deconstruction of various Indian Independence Movement Figures…to reasserting the contributions of Subhas Chandra Bose…
…before ultimately using that legacy to call for a “Revolutionary” model for Hindus. How Revolutionary! Recreate the RW-LW false dichotomy by recasting them as Hindu Right vs Hindu Left.
But Dharma being their glaring weakness, they ignore the reality that the Hindu Left (as well as the Hindu Right) is oxymoronic. There is no Hindu Right or Hindu Left because Hindu isn’t even our word—Dharma is. And Dharma transcends such simplistic notions by asserting adaptability to the times not through contradictory L/R forces, but through Saamaanya Dharma, Sanatana Dharma and Yuga Dharma. Dharma may need to be updated for the times, but there is no “Dharmic left” and Dharmic right. There is only the Dharma for the times.
The RW-LW binary is product of liberal politics dating to the French Revolution (a notably ‘peaceful’ and non-tyrannical transition overthrowing aristocratic elites our temperamental triad wishes to recreate…). But before ye unwashed masses sharpen your guillotines, perhaps a deconstruction of our deconstructors is in order.
Revolution is a severe danger to any society.The irony of these recalcitrant Revolutionaries is they forget the very meaning of a “revolution”—you end up exactly where you start—crisis. Rather than circle around 360 degrees, the question before us involves understanding not only who we were and who we want to be, but what genuinely faces us today. Micro-brained micro-specialists who don’t understand the inter-disciplinary relationships between not only politics and history and culture, but even those between politico-strategic and economic/financial domains, really have no business making pretence to leadership—especially given their own poor leadership abilities and self-proclaimed dearth of serious solutions.
Further, had these one-note nincompoops come out of their echo-chambers and set aside their kupamanduka literature for a second, they would understand the danger of factions and of revolution itself.
There are major issues facing Indian society in general but Hindu society in particular.Despite the rank denialism and the obvious hypocrisy of political operators, casteism still exists particularly in the intellectual domain (only recast under the mantle of IQ theories, genetics, and AIT). Pure traditionalism instinctively will alienate large sections of the Hindu population, and with good reason. What stake would the masses have in simply reviving the past? Scheduled Castes clearly have cause to pause. At the same time, continuing to map the Indian polity onto a western blueprint of Right and Left, is a bait-and-switch obvious to all but the most buffoonish.
Citation of the historic American “Left” ignores the reality that the modern Democratic party is itself fielding overt Socialists in its primaries. But before Bernie bros get too excited, the hypocrisy of socialism was unveiled by their hero yet again.
The reality is, both the Left and the Right wings need each other to demonise all while continuing to exploit the unsuspecting masses. Both communists and capitalists thrive while accusing each other of being the devil—what happens when both are? What happens when socialism is merely a means to an end?
What if the laundry list of ideologies that are touted in the “intellectual marketplace” are virtually all intellectually bankrupt . It is why traditional thinkers reject ideology itself, favouring philosophy, and especially, political philosophy.
Let me be perfectly clear:dignity of labour & entrepreneurial spirit should be protected. Neither workers nor honest businesspeople are the enemy. Unlike the neo-Leninists hell-bent on demonising an entire varna, those with a modicum of foresight know that in a country where Brahmins are so openly demonised by the media, any such “leftist revolution” will ultimately target the “clericals”. After all, following the political revolution is the cultural revolution—why would the traditional custodians of culture escape unscathed?
Once the financial “bania” are dealt with, what’s to stop those ‘Revolutionary’ attacks on the other half of the B-B party? What of the traditional brahmin?
This is the danger not only of casteism, but selective vilification, rather than society-wide introspection. Those who promote such selective thinking should be ashamed of themselves, and not only lack the moral integrity to lead, but despite their jstor driven twitter rantings, the intellectual heft to lead society. The less said about publications that persist to publish such petulant drivel the better. Those who prioritise daily hits and traffic over journalistic ethics and the ramifications of a varna-based witch hunt would do well to remember exactly why Kashmiri Pandits were targeted with such ferocity in the first place. A community that preserves not only the historical memory but also the living culture of their region and civilization is an impediment to any cultural revolution, be it for desert-based or Leftist-based ideologies.
Further, if one were to do an honest accounting of all the collaborators (better termed ‘cooperators’), why stop only with the mercantile or even feudal? How many clericals and ministerials collaborated to bring down their legitimate ruler for personal gain or worked for foreign occupier governments? The name Purniahitself should ring a bell and put to pause such increasingly caste-motivated attacks. The fact is, traitors and patriots can be found in all communities.
Puerile notions of “perpetual revolution” ignore the fact that most individuals are neither traitors nor self-sacrificing patriots, but are in the middle. They simply want to live in peace and live out their lives as comfortably as they can. They will rise up if there is sufficient cause or possibility of success, or they will find ways to accommodate a foreign power when facing total destruction. Hindsight is 20-20 and so is passing judgment on entire communities. Dushtamatyas perennially quoting Kalhana would do well to remember his view of them.
The reality is neither hypocritical traditionalism nor left or right-ism are the way forward. India has its own political philosophies. There are conservative elements and free-thinking elements in any society, but constructing a polity around such binary-thinking is beyond idiotic. Thousands of years ago, Acharya Kautilya clearly enunciated the 3 purposes of government (not 2):
Raksha, Palana, Yogakshema.
Any real Hindu society must bear these 3 directives in mind. Raksha is protection from external threat, Palana is internal law & order, and Yogakshema looks at citizen well-being.
A simplistic L/R false dichotomy is for the simple-minded, geared toward falsehood. Ironically, the only dichotomy that doesn’t matter for this bunch is dharma vs adharma. That is why rather than import obsolete, un-Indian thinking—rather than trying to appropriateShivaji and Banda Bahadur into some inapplicable “Hindu/Indic Left”—let us recognise what they actually stood for: Rajadharma.
Rajdharma and even Svarajya can take different forms: whether is a ganarajya or samrajya, government should be premised on Dharma, not Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
The Left’s concern for the peasantry is automatically covered by Yogakshema (welfare of citizens) and the putative right’s concerns covered by Palana (law and order) and Raksha common to both (though the Communist Party (Marxist) shows ideology comes first here too). The question is of balance, with Dharma as the ultimate guide. Here merely spouting off citations of Dharmasastra alone will not do, nor will pompous proclamations by ardha-purushas of “Purandara wreaking havoc on the Dasyu”.
One must take the precedents provided by real Acharyas such as Apastamba and Kautilya and Dharma Svarupa’s such as Rama and Krishna and apply them to the present context. That is the limitation of rote-memorisation and read-and-regurgitation. It doesn’t teach application. There is a difference between critical thinkingand critical theory, and the sooner some ideologues understand it the better. Critical theory is another asuric construction coming out of the intellectual cul-de-sac of Marxist thought. But critical thinking is an highly necessary, and dare I say, critical skill set in this era of pervasive untruth.
Make no mistake: the Hindu Left is a too-clever by half rebranding effort by half-wits at reconstituting the Left’s ideological moorings within the Hindu body politic. But Hindu Right (Hindutva) and Hindu Left (pseudo-intellectual pinhead rantings) are both ideologies commanding centralised unthinking obedience rather than positing contextual cultural ethics. After all, both Nagpur and Naxalbari have rightly come under criticism for hypocrisy—not only for their self-serving interpretations of culture and history, but also for the casteist natures of their respective leaderships.
Varnashrama Dharma (whatever its demerits and merits) has always posited a decentralised body politic—and with good reason. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The religio-cultural and politico-strategicmust work together, but must also be divided among different classes. Philosopher-kings are well and good as are Vedic-warriors, but constructing a new “Hindu Papacy” or “Hindu Politburo” is not in the interests of real Hindus—and neither is a Hindu Right or Hindu Left.
Open attempts are made to caste (spelling intentional) only the “mercantiles” as the main collaborators of foreign rule (as though feudals and clericals did not have a hand). But who exactly is a mercantile? True to the politics of Animal Farm, apparently even some mathas are more mercantile than others (only the ‘intellectually superior’ politburo will decide!)
Be it Animals or Humans, the Chinese know no mercy so this is how a Communist State Operate sans freedom. Now u'll understand democracy.
Unlike our Revolutionary Triumvirate, however, the author of the article actually had the intelligence and common sense to offer a number of small local solutions as well. It is easy to dismantle any structure—until you have to answer what the alternative is. That article, on the other hand, also did a fine job of identifying a few of the macro-political forces that make it difficult for any government, let alone politician, to enact national wide civilizational change. In an era of fibre-optics, satellite tv, and quantum computing, foreign influence is even greater than the days of Shivaji. Those proffering simplistic courses of action are proving just how simple-minded they really are.
In fact, in perpetual over-compensation regarding “Bong jokes”, they ignore criticism of Bengal courtesy of a son of the Soil. What will they say of this?
What’s more, this self-touted mod squad of manic-depressives will quickly go mute when asked who financed the Russian Revolution to begin with? After all, it is ok if petty traders are packed off to the gallows held by proletariat courts, but international financiers and big business must escape scrutiny.
Anyone disagreeing with them is touted “conspiracy theorist”, “misogynist” and a laundry list of other totalitarian touted labels meant to muzzle dissent. Anyone with a sound understand of international politics would quickly recognise the widespread influence of Big Business and Multinational Corporations in politics. Why is the petty Hindu trader being branded as a “mercantile traitor”? And is the poor Hindu priest next on the agenda when the political revolution is followed by a cultural revolution? Right-thinking Hindus would be right to ask.
Right-thinking Hindus would also do well to reject both the “Hindu right” and proposed “Hindu Left” as obvious Oxymorons pushed by Morons. Right-thinking Hindus, better termed Sensible Hindus, are aware that our native civilizational tradition is not ideological but philosophical in nature. Any theory of the Hindu Left will only seek to digest Hinduism into the same memetic pattern of “revolution“, “socialism”, “brotherhood”, and a laundry list of other code words and memes meant to spark general overthrow of traditional values.
If the politburo brooks no dissent, what protection for diversity?
Whatever Bose’s contributions to the freedom movement, his Socialist Authoritarian “Revolutionary” model would have been an utter disaster for India’s traditional culture. Casteism and ill-treatment of women must be condemned.But this must be done within Dharma rather than through importation and injection of a foreign ideology within Hindu Society’s polity.
There are indeed serious issues facing Hindus from Jammu & Kashmir down to Kerala, and from Alwar to Assam:Demographic aggression, RTE driven destruction of Hindu schools, Temple ownership, Safety of Women, stifled entrepreneurship, growing unemployment, declining privacy, and colonial legacy within the armed forces, all number in the expanding list of concerns that Hindu society has. But is the silver bullet to all our problems to chase after some hare-brained, ill-defined “Revolutionary” approach that doesn’t even have the courage to posit solutions to our political problems?
Socialist authoritarianism and national socialism are not the answers. Hindu society rejects leftism and fascism, because Dharma is our guide, not Marxism rebranded by “Marxians”. For those who wish to replace Kautilya Vishnugupta with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, let us get one thing straight: only the only actual Indian in this list touted a system of political philosophy that actually worked. Marx on the other hand depended on handouts from Engels for most of his life and was a career failure.
Even his understanding of economics was poor, with Engels preferring to call him a “philosopher”. But the truth is, he wasn’t even really that. He was an ideologue posing as a philosopher who created the literary agit-prop in plainspeak for peasants to spark the bloodiest political movements in the history of man. For advocates of a “Hindu Left”, here is the death toll of Socialism.
Marx’s only value is in his critique of Capitalism.Capitalism itself is a questionable system as we have previously written, because it only prioritises 1 factor of production—capital (ignoring the other 3: entrepreneurship, land, and labour). Communism does the same, prioritising only labour instead. But the truth is, for a functioning economy, all four are required. A student of Hegel, Marx was no stranger to the Hegelian dialectic. Between Capitalism and Communism is “Socialism”.
Socialist revolutionaries are merely a halfway house to outright communism. Whatever the marxian mod squad’s artificial “critiques” of communist totalitarianism, their artifice is not as skilled as they would believe.
Gandhi’s questionable legacy deserves (dharmic) deconstruction, Indian Independence figures from Nehru to Patel all deserve fresh (dharmic) reevaluation, the jarring history of Jagat Seths deserves honest (dharmic) documentation, but Bose is not beyond critique. Shivaji and Banda Bahadur Singh are not figures of some imaginary “Hindu Left”. Both practiced Kshatriya Dharma, and reorganised society in accordance with the needs of Dharma.
Like a vampire squidseeking to attach itself to Sanatana Dharma, the “Hindu Left”/Marxians are merely a political parasitism seeking to reinvent the dying Indian left through some half-hearted appeal to the Hindu Right. I mean for God’s sake, Mamta is the same as Modi? Sensational news items and terrible crimes exist in any state or society, but the question is one of scale. Can any serious and honest person actually believe that both the border states of Gujarat and West Bengal are as bad for Hindus? Is the level of women’s safety at all the same?
False equivalency, agit-prop, echo-chamber tactics, and sophistry are all tools used by politburo tools. Academics and “intellectuals” are themselves often pens-for-hire on the payrolls of their political handlers. Anti-semitism does deserve condemnation, but can such figures who showcase Hindus for the sake of foreign audiences be trusted to safeguard Hindu interests?
Can scatter-brained, regurgitators be competent to provide Hindu leadership?
Glib bromides, census analysis, and twitter outrage are all easy. But actual competent and strategic leadership is hard. The reality is, if Hindus have become cynics, it’s because politics itself is so cynical—and social media is no exception.
Rather than simply running after what appears seemingly popular, it is high time Internet Hindus use their common sense and stop being so gullible. Reject this nonsense and the nonsensical poseurs reinventing and reimposing socialist/leftist theories. Both the RW and LW (Hindu Left or otherwise) are mimic men. They recreate the foreign within the domestic, that is why they don’t develop Dharma or a proper Dharma Paksha.
Make no mistake: India is the Land of Dharma. The Dharma of Sri Krishna, Rana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, and Banda Bahadur Singh ji is what drives our political philosophy. Not some failed ideology of some failed newspaper editor of some increasingly flailing civilization.
The ‘Hindu Left’ is an oxymoron pushed by morons. Right thinking Hindus would do well to reject it and them.
Please learn the difference between leftism/statism and class-free socialism. They are TOTALLY DIFFERENT. pic.twitter.com/mk9vJcCXre
“The Economist weekly, in a 2013 article titled “Can India Become a Great Power”, seemed to put its finger on the reason: “India has the world’s 4th largest military,” it said, “and yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.” Warning India against “an unstable but dangerous Pakistan and a swaggering and intimidating China“, it observed: “The absence of a strategic culture and the distrust between civilian-run ministries and the armed forces has undermined military effectiveness.”
This quote relies on a famous critique of India by Rand in the early 90s. While it is historically inaccurate, it nevertheless has a large kernel of truth in the present era.
The root of this lies in all theory-but-little-practice armchair chanakyas who over-emphasise the venerable Acharya Chanakya. Pure strategy in fact does not begin with his Arthasastra, but with Lord Krishna and Krishna Niti. This is because strategy is directly (not indirectly) connected with on the ground operations (institutional, military, covert, or overt). If you don’t have “skin in the game”, if you don’t have a track record of competence, you don’t count. The “Intellectual Yet Idiot” has no accountability if his theory fails. The general, the political leader, or executive does. It’s his neck that’s on the line.
Arthasastra is absolutely a foundational text on Indic Statecraft, and it is not that Strategy didn’t exist in it in some form. But Statecraft isn’t Strategy, and certainly not Pure Strategy. If Politics translates to Rajaniti, then Statecraft is connected to Arthasastra, because Arthasastra, like Soopa Sastra, means more than the literal translation. Arthasastra is translated as Science of Wealth but it is fundamentally a work of Political Economy and Statecraft. While there are elements of strategy and strategic education—just as there are in Panchatantraand Hitopadesa—it is not the same as Pure Strategy, which requires flexibility and asymmetric creativity rather than formulae and minutiae.
Sun Tsu’s Art of War is more a work of Pure Strategy than Statecraft, and the Arthasastra is the reverse. To understand Pure Strategy (Koota Niti in Sanskrit or Kruttik Niti in Shuddh Hindi), one must first understand its true definition: Winning or managing the competitive landscape by developing asymmetric advantages through long-term planning & application.
“Know yourself and Know your enemy and you will be victorious in a hundred battles”
To fathom China's strategy, read Sun Tzu: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” pic.twitter.com/yf2esiKW4S
Asymmetry necessarily requires not only knowledge and competence,but creativity and imagination: Deployment of small ships in the tight Salamis straits to defeat larger Persian triremes, the Roman corvus to defeat the Carthaginian navy, light cavalry and Maratha forts to ground down the pondering Mughals, and the Vietnamese tunnel system to tackle adversaries with air superiority. Such solutions are indeed given inspiration by historical study, but are nevertheless produced by application of imagination. That is the importance of competence, creativity, and courage in Strategic matters. Our current Kautilyas-wannabe lack all 3.
The Art of War does not list out every solution for every situation, but rather, provides the principles which inspire new solutions that fit the new situation. Most militaries (and armchair chanakyas) are busy fighting the last war, rather than developing the foresight to win the next one. This takes more than just memorisation of current and developing armaments/technologies or reading and recitation of historical trivia, but also requires understanding what capabilities need to be developed in the first place and understanding whether they are deployable and exploitable—and then following through.
Fortunately, though few in number, there are examples of competent strategists in modern India. Sardar Patel was one, Indira Gandhi another, certainly Sam Maneckshaw and Krishnaswamy Sunderji (of Chequerboard fame), and definitely K.P.S. Gill and P.V.Narasimha Rao. More recently, Brahma Chellaney and Ajit Doval. The common denominator is neither religion, nor caste, nor regional/ancestral background, nor gender, nor even education/intellectual proclivity. It is competence, creativity, & courage proven by practice.
Start with tackling small problems to qualify yourself to tackle bigger ones. Whether Ajit Doval has a successful term as NSA is not as important as the fact that his background in the IPS & IB qualified him rather than social media pontification and gyaani-fication. All this is food for thought for our bloviating bloggers and their impuissant iq-genetics theories. Leadership, Dharmic or otherwise, is necessarily with the politico-strategic branch.
Last year’s unprovoked attack on Rajiv Malhotra was emblematic of it. Those touting “traditional learning” attempted to take down a hardened and proven strategist like Malhotra, all in the name of ego. Those who don’t correctly understand our Dharma (and who tout nonsense like ‘beef in vedas’ have no right to preach dharma let alone lead it). Until we understand exactly how our dharmic culture feeds into strategic culture, our division of labour will continue to suffer.
Why did u expect solutions to problems in Bhagvadgeetha ,rather it makes you stronger to face all problems and find solutions https://t.co/bWqbir6Cc5
Religion and culture give us strength. Veda protects the truth, in fact, Veda is Truth itself (which is why its preservers are so respected). But solutions to strategic problems come from competence, creativity, and courage. It is for this reason that the lead up to and the Mahabharata War itself was essentially a battle of wits between two Kshatriyas, Krishna and Shakuni—who outwitted everyone from Duryodhana to Drona. Shakuni himself embodies the dangers of internal enemies using strategic thinking. And the kaakollukiyam in the Panchatantra is itself emblematic of this lesson.
Whatever your caste, it is this Dharma of Kshatriyas you must follow if you wish to have a role in strategic affairs and governance and political leadership. Every theory, every strategic plan, every battle plan is brilliant, until you make contact with the enemy (or the real world). That is the difference between pseudo-academics spouting off and a leader running a serious organization. So if you are an intellectual, do give advice when asked. But the ultimate decision remains with the strategic command, be it a Kanwar Pal Singh Gill or a Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao.
What then is the proper training ground for the would-be strategist? Surely not digital echo-chambers where one lives in a world of assumptions. Rather it is a track record of countering the adversary through solutions application. This doesn’t necessitate being a combat veteran, but it does require the development of direct institutional responses to current strategic exigencies. Rather than trollish reaction and reactiveness, it requires measured action and pro-activeness. Rather than brainlessly complaining and yapping after a car like a dog, it’s asking what do you do when you get it? More importantly, it’s wondering “Where is the shatru going next?”
This is where our “Internet Hindus” fail. They focus on daily news-cycle and personal (caste, college, bosom-buddy relationships) rather than working as a professional collaborative team or helping those meeting team needs. Oh sure, if you pay them or put a pistol to their scrawny necks, they will work like the dickens—but what do you do when there is neither carrot nor stick…and only principle? This is the difference between men and mere boys. This the danger of the spoiled brat mentality—it leads to strategic disaster. The Jaichand-Purniah too clever-by-half emotional ahankari-shikandi approach is what destroys civilizations, countries, communities, & families. This is the importance of team sports. You understand how futile it is to win today, but lose tomorrow.
Rather than settling a score, better to protect long-term team interest. And if your caste is your team, you are part of the problem. Garbing caste interest in state interest or national interest may fool the average fool on the street, but not the patient political observer.
In fact, part of the reason why Bharat remains hamstrung in dealing with adversaries is due to the continued and baleful influence of ahankari-shikandi intellectuals who don’t know their place. The King and General are superior to ministers and have no obligation to take their advice—because it is they who have “skin in the game”. Giving gyaan is easy, developing and implementing actionable solutions is hard.
Just as in the corporate world, it is general management and the Chief Executive that governs an organization, so too in the politico-strategic realm, it is the executive wing that governs policy and that must balance interests between Dharmaand Niti. It is the King who rules and the minister who merely advises, not the other way around. It is not for nothing that the great brahmana Pandit Kalhana decried the dushtamatyas who be-deviled Kashmiri kings.
If you are perverting Dharma in the name of “intellectualism”, you are part of the problem
If you operate based on popularity rather than principle, you are part of the problem
If you legitimise Socialist Revolutionaries via history salons, you are part of the problem
The laundry list of commie jnu know-it-alls today who tie themselves in knots, due to all theory and no practice, must recognise that a pound of practice is worth more than a tonne of theory. There is no place for entitlement or sentimentality on the strategic landscape. Professional breast-beaters and assorted ‘absolutist’ rudaalis and “men-of-conscience” aren’t fit for Statecraft let alone strategy. The politico-strategic realm demands mental and emotional discipline backed up by fortitude and courage of Character. It requires both foresight and prudence. Spineless, gutless opportunists, back-biting court eunuchs, and assorted hypocrites are better suited for academia (and remaining there).
Outraging over outrageously outrageous outrage is easy. Providing actual solutions to serious strategic problems is hard.
All things have their place: religion & culture have one & the politico-strategic has another.
But for a strategic culture to properly re-emerge, the current ailments have to be identified:
While cooperation with shatrus must become a bad word, collaborationwith own countrymen must become a good one. While personality-cults and fanboy-ism must go out of fashion, team loyalty must enter into fashion. While intellect is a good characteristic, characteris an even better one. While knowledge is great, wisdom is even greater. Indians must grow from becoming masters of the small picture to painters of the big one. Vision, execution, and accountability—these are the drivers and definers of leadership.
Vision doesn’t mean fantasy or day-dreaming or “chooparpavar” bravado or brainless bragging. It means understanding what good government means in the first place and brainstorming solutions and strategy to achieve it. But a vision-less, caste-obsessed, band of clique-tards (pun-intended) can’t provide vision—only the empty braggadocio of those who hate their enemies so much, they become like them. Hate is not a solution, it is stupidity.
Scipio Africanus didn’t hate his enemy, he didn’t hate Hannibal. Scipio admired him so much he became better than him and beat him (even meeting him just before the Battle of Zama). He understood himself and his country, understood his enemy and what made him successful, and hit him where it hurt.
The same type of practical study was conducted by Shivaji. This doesn’t mean loving your enemies, but it means having a healthy respect for them so you can honestly evaluate them. One must neither be cowed down nor contemptuous of foes as it is as dangerous to over-estimate as it is to under-estimate. Sometimes it necessitates tactical adaptation (as in Vijayanagara and modification favouring of cavalry) and sometimes it needs a complete strategic-reorientation, as in the case of the Maratha Empire. But this isn’t done through history books and textbooks (many of which are falsified) but through training and action. Knowing what to do is easy, understanding how to do it and following through is another matter altogether. Any idiot can sit down and identify needs—do you have the competence, creativity, and courage to meet them? This is the uncomfortable question facing would-be Indic strategists today. Quick fixes and knee-jerk reactions don’t solve problems, nor do untimely power struggles.
During the Kamakura Shogunate, real power was not held by the Emperor of Japan or even the Shogun, but the shikken. The head of council (regent) was able to defeat Kublai Khan’s invasion forces at the Battle of Hakata Bay, not merely through the Divine Wind (Kamikaze), but through foresight and prudence. A wise and experienced general, Hojo Masamura, was entrusted with the defence of the Japanese home islands.
The Mongols sent an embassy in 1268 demanding submission, but rather than hew to protocol, Regent Hojo Tokimune and the Council of State simply bought time by refusing to send an answer (a strategem incidentally used by the Bahmanis against the Musunuri Nayaks and Vijayanagara). A terrifying force was being prepared in 1272 by the Mongols, and all the Kyushu vassals were recalled by the shikken. When the attack finally came in 1274, Japan was ready. After a hard-fought victory they didn’t bust out the dhol and break into bhangra/lungi dance like so many Indians, but took advantage of the respite to build a stone defensive wall at Hakata Bay. They then levied/drilled more troops in the event of a second attack. Japan’s vigilance did not slacken even after victory! For that reason, they were even better prepared in 1281, and won again against an even more terrifying 140,000. Even then, the expensive bakufu defences were maintained for another 20 years.
They studied the enemy, bought time, prepared their ground, and acted when opportunity presented itself, rather than engaging in pompous chest thumping or loudmouth rhetoric. The Hojo regency knew it faced a dangerous enemy, and even after winning two wars over the Mongols, preparation and vigilance continued for 20 years (no matter the expense). That is the difference between strategeryand strategy, navel-gazing and serious preparation. Are we a Serious People?
Security of state or civilization belongs in the hands of serious people. Not navel-gazing pseudo-intellectuals, nor spelling bee poodles, but serious thinkers whose ability is proven by practice (unlike Nehru who appointed the incompetent Brij Mohan Kaul due to nepotism and the even more incompetent V.K.Krishna Menon due to ideology). Terrifying problems require experienced, competent people who inspire others rather than merely coast on (alleged) pedigree. Learning must be balanced by training/application, and in matters of war, by training in arms and tactics. This works the other way too. Centuries after Hakata Bay, Tokugawa Ieyasu issued ordinances known as buje sho-hatto, where samurai were required to give themselves both to the art of war as well as to the pursuit of ‘polite learning’. This is what is lacking today.
Absence of emotional-discipline leads to team indiscipline.Ego-maniacs, forever obsessed with proving their intellectual superiority, or that of their family or caste or region stupidly risk the safety of what they care about the most due to their own ambition.
The recent hullabaloo of halfwits over the “national language” is emblematic of another set of genetic dead-ends. “Youth aspiration for english”, “it is not the language, but the imposition!”, and my personal favourite,”no need for link language”.
No need for link language??! What else could better reflect the attitude of court eunuchs and pseudo-intellectual vidusaka-samalochakas than to ignore the national need to issue orders to the national army on the nation’s battlefields? Are jawans from rural areas supposed to use universal translators? Surely state languages should be the language of state administration, but a central administrative language is needed, for simple governmental practicality. It is this lack of pragmatism among all-theory no practice pinheads that continues to perpetuate a 70 year old debate.
There may be a case for Hindi as National Language, but even if there isn’t (and Sanskrit should replace it), surely Shuddh Hindi has a case as Central Administrative Language, out of sheer pragmatism. Anglicised elites promote English to retain their elite privileges. Global lingua francas change given global zeitgeists, as demonstrated by the phrase itself. French was once the “global language”, or at least the European language of communication. Today it is English, and tomorrow it very well could be Mandarin. Are Indians expecting to switch their national administrative language based on global fashion? Can our people be any more idiotic?
Is ego worth risking the lives and well-being of one’s children or womenfolk? This is the question our gasbag gyaanis need to start asking themselves. Their emotional indiscipline and mind-boggling moronery in the face of the gravest of threats hardens even the softest of hearts. Preferring slogan to prudence and ambitionto accomplishment, even the most Nippon-esque of fanbois forgets that the word samurai actually means ‘one who serves’.
This is the attitude that is required. One of service in the state, national, civilizational, and dharmic interest. Realpolitik is not rhetoric or tough talk. Can a bunch of clowns prioritising their position and social media celebrity have the manhood to actual defend their families, or do what it takes to ensure their defence? This is the problem today. Tough talk over tangible strategic action, fan clubs over professionalism, machine gun bursts of buffoonery over calm/measured behaviour, individual last minute heroics over collaborative collective strategy. Armchair chanakyas can clip all the books they want, but if they wish to master Koota Niti, they must first understand and practice the basics.
The man who united independent India was epitome of Gujjuness. Do learn the art of strategic checkmating. This is land of Shri Krishna. pic.twitter.com/tNnUrpmLVX
The Great King Suchi of MagadhaHis calendar was a royal mess
because the equinoxes precessuntil he learned 'the lore of time' from Sage Lagadha.
Jyotihsastra is the ancient Indian ‘science of light’ . It includes within it the field of astronomy, which was known as Nakshatra Vidya (the science of the stars). Jyotihsastra is used fordik-desa-kala nirnaya (triprasna), i.e. to determine (direction, location, time) . The Vedanga Jyotisha is an ancient text focused on Jyotisha, one of the six Vedangas. The Vedic texts, including the Upavedas and Vedangas, are harmoniously interlinked into an integrally united knowledge system. No one part of this system can be properly understood through an isolated study . A key purpose of the Vedas is the performance of Yagnas correctly and on time. Time-keeping is the goal of Vedanga Jyotisha.
We resume our study of Ganitasastra at ICP through an inquiry into Jyotihsastra. This post is not an exhaustive restatement of facts. Instead, we try to understand the motivation and intuition behind the Ganita features of Vedanga Jyotisha (VJ). The Shulbasutras, which are part of the Kalpa Vedanga are also rich in Ganita, and will be discussed separately.
College students asked a professor 'Sir, what is time?' who replied "I can tell you what is the time, but I cannot tell you what is time".
VJ is the earliest extant Indic work on time-keeping in the form of a handbook that is devoted to Kalavidhanasastra, the science of time-keeping. It provides the calculations associated with a lunisolar calendar derived from the Brahmanas and the Vedic Samhitas. VJ is not a self-contained treatise and any missing definitions, unstated assumptions, etc., are to be inferred from prior Indic sources and commentaries .
Vedanga Jyotisha has absolutely nothing to do with Phalita Jyotisha or Astrology .
The VJ was compiled around 1350 BCE (between 1150-1550 BCE) and is attributed in its verse to Lagadha, and key ideas in the VJ have been shown to belong to the Vedic texts and derived from earlier periods. VJ is in verse form while the other 5 Vedangas (Nirukta, Chandas, Kalpa, Vyakarana, & Siksha) are in Sutras indicating that it is the earliest of the six . VJ was neither the first nor the last word in Indic time-keeping and astronomy as the Indians continued to make pioneering contributions to Ganita and Jyotihsastra over three millennia. These techniques enabled the Indics to produce a stable working calendar that could be employed for diverse purposes, and was sought after by the rest the world. The ancient Indic calendar traveled to China, and many other places .
VJ is available in the form of two ‘rescensions’ denoted as Rigveda Jyotisha (Arca Jyotisha, RVJ, 36 verses, earlier version) and Yajurveda Jyotisha (Yajusa Jyotisha, YVJ, 43 verses), which significantly overlap. Deciphering these rescensions turned out to be a challenging task. This effort started in the 1830s, culminating in the authoritative work of Prof. Kuppanna Sastry  in the 1980s who succeeded in meaningfully explaining all verses. Virtually every contemporary study of VJ cites his scholarship.
We will devote considerable space discussing the unbroken traditions of astronomy and time-keeping that preceded Vedanga Jyotisha.
The Indic approach to discovery quite naturally arises from Rta, the cosmic order that is an expression of Satya, the ultimate reality. This cosmic order is experienced at every level from the microcosm to macrocosm. Time is sacred in this cosmology, and we have the kalachakra representing cyclic time, and it is intuitive that elapsed time can be tracked using precisely recurring rhythms of different durations that abound in nature. 18th century British scientist John Playfair who studied Hindu time-keeping in a manuscript obtained from Thailand, wrote an extensive treatise and was amazed by the Indic conception of cyclical nature . He made several other important observations, which can be found within the cited references.
The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.
- Physical Measurement Lab at NIST
Our solar system is quite flat, and hence the moon and most of the planets are located in a narrow region around the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun in the sky during the day. This is really convenient for observation since it eliminates the need to focus on the innumerable luminaries that are away from the ecliptic. The moon’s path is within 5% of the ecliptic. The Ancient Indics kept time based on the periodicity of the (apparent) motion of the sun and the real motion of the moon. The study of planetary movements was not necessary to achieve this goal and does not concern VJ.
Careful observation was a critical component of Vedic astronomy and this became the hallmark of the Indic approach to discovery and obtaining valid knowledge in general, where all schools of dharma unanimously accept PratyakshaPramana . From the perspective of accurate time-keeping required for Yagnas, kalavidhanasastra is a pratyaksha sastra , and is not deduced from a ‘black box’ math model.
By the early Rig Vedic period, one or more calendars were already in use for managing day to day activities. Time-keeping is critical for agricultural planning, e.g. to coordinate activities associated with the beginning and end of seasons, and continues to be important to the Indian economy .
The earth's equatorial plane is tilted at an angle of 23.5° with respect to the ecliptic plane. This results in varying seasons and daylight hours.
The Vedic people knew about the solstices and employed a six-season calendar which is special to India (it included a rainy season: VarshaRtu with months Nabha and Nabhasya). Obviously, the ability to accurately predict the arrival date of monsoons has always had significant economic value in India. The twelve tropical months along with their seasons in the Yajurveda are :
Madhu, Maadhava in vasanta (spring),
Sukra, Suci in greeshma (summer),
Nabha, Nabhasya in varshaa (rainy),
Isa, Urja in sarada (autumn),
Saha, Sahasya in hemanta (winter), and
Tapa, Tapasya in sishira (freezing).
In 2004, agricultural operations were mistimed in India. Why? The monsoon was officially considered 'delayed' in the government calendar. In reality, it arrived on time per the traditional Indic calendar .
The trinity of adhidaiva, adhibhuta, and adhyatma are integrally united via Bandhus in the Vedic knowledge system [2, 9]. There exists a deep and ancient connection between Yagna (‘ the workshop where Bandhus are forged between the microcosm and macrocosm’ ) and time-keeping. Knowledge of the luminary phases was used to ensure that the monthly (Darshapuranamaasa) and seasonal (Chaturmasya) Yagnas were performed at the correct times . The Atri family priests had the knowledge required to predict solar eclipses. By the time of the Yajurveda, the Hindus knew that a solar year was slightly more than 365 days. And importantly from a VJ perspective, a five year Yuga was already known, along with the need for two intercalary months to complete a Yuga .
pic source. By careful and patient daily observation of the sun at the same time in the sky, one can find out when the solstices occur (‘when the sun stands still’).
Prajapati as Time
Prajapati the creator is central to Vedic tradition. In his book ‘Being Different’, Rajiv Malhotra quotes the Rig Veda: “yajna is the very navel of the universe. It was Lord Prajapati who first fashioned yajna, and through it he wove into one fabric the warp and weft of the three worlds (Rig Veda I,164,33-35).” . Prajapati creates and embodies a self-sustainable, self-correcting universe using the correspondence principle of bandhuta to achieve a balance between homogeneity and heterogeneity . Prajapati is time, the very creator of the Vedas, signifying that the knowledge within the Vedas has no beginning or end . He is Rta, the cosmic rhythm moving in a spiral, which indicates the Kalachakra, cyclical time .
Prajapati and Yagna are central to Vedanga Jyotisha, and receive the first respects in the starting verses of the VJ. The natural periodic events such as seasons, days, etc. are the five limbs of Prajapati, who personifies and presides over the five-year Yuga . The separated faculties and limbs of Prajapati unite to form the infinite diversity of the universe, and the Yagna becomes a time-design to unite this multiplicity and continue the cosmic rhythm . This five year Yuga is mirrored in Yagna through the constructed five-layered Agnicayana altar . The Aahavaniya altar is built using 396 bricks that represent the days of the year: 360 to represent the Vedic ritual year and an additional 36 to represent the thirteenth (intercalary) month . Many such bandhus arise through Yagnas . The five-year Yuga is also a feature of Jain astronomy .
VJ states that those who correctly understand the effect of time on movements of the luminaries in the sky can fully grasp the impact of the Yagnas. One who truly understands the Vedas and Vedanga Jyotisha can experience transcendental bliss. These verses underline the integral unity  of the outer-material and inner-spiritual realms. We can see this dharmic concept re-asserted two thousand years later in the initial verses of Aryabhatiya, and more recently in Ramanujan’s approach as well.
The Indics were more than pattern seeking enthusiasts; they sought within patterns the deepest unity underlying nature’s diversity, and from this emerged the Yuga. Yaga, Yoga, and Yuga (or the 3 Ys, with apologies to Modi ji) – all have a root meaning ‘to unite’. In , Prof Subhash Kak notes: “the ancient Indian calendar is an attempt to harmonize the motions of the Sun and the Moon…. Yoga may be seen as the harmonization of the motions of the inner planets of the body. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra speaks of how meditation on the Sun reveals the nature of the world-system and meditation on the Moon and the Polestar reveals the arrangement and the motion of the planets and the stars. Such assertions imply that turning inward can provide insights.”.
Nakshatras in Vedic Tradition
Since the most ancient time, Hindu astronomy adopted the sidereal system. This was done implicitly using Nakshatras (stars or asterisms) in the Vedic period, and explicitly in the VJ, as well shall see later . The Vedics used 27 Nakshatras in the vicinity of the ecliptic to track the lunar passage where the moon takes 27.32 days to return to a fixed reference point (sidereal lunar month). To identify the Nakshatra location of the sun, a heliacal rising and setting of a Nakshatra seems to have been employed, i.e., a Nakshatra may be visible near the horizon just before sunrise or sunset. Texts point to a multi-disciplinary approach to Jyotisha employing a Nakshatra Darsha (expert observer/astronomer) and Ganaka (a calculation expert). The term ‘Nakshatra Vidya’ is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad .
Mentions of Nakshatra observations in ancient texts are useful because they allow us to date these events using the earth’s precession rate. For example, Kuppanna Sastry quotes the Satapatha Brahman, mentioning that ‘the asterismal group Kritika never swerve from the east while others do’, which was also confirmed by the commentator Sayana. This yields a date of around 3000 BCE. Independent studies using modern astronomical simulation software and mathematical calculations (statistical best-fit models) indicate that the Nakshatras were closest to the path of the moon around 3000 BCE . Subhash Kak has written extensively on the astronomical codes embedded within the Vedas .
It is clear that long before Vedanga Jyotisha, there was significant progress in time-keeping. It confirms the epistemological continuity in Indic sciences, including Astronomy and Ganitasince the most ancient of times .
Epistemological continuity is also evident in other India's diverse traditions including art, music, dance, etc.
These prior developments are the foundation on which VJ’s calendar stands. Let us see how VJ improves upon the prior work.
Vedanga Jyotisha’s Methods
VJ introduced an analytical time-tracking (deterministic) framework that works in tandem with astronomical observations of the real, uncertain world. Hence VJ’s Ganita calculates the timings of lunar and solar events, while alsoretaining and working in sync with the traditional pratyaksha sastra. The Ganaka can make predictions, and the Nakshatra Darsa can visually confirm the degree of accuracy of these estimates, and corrections effected as needed. The diagram below illustrates how the VJ methodology can be useful in taking the science of time-keeping forward and provide increasingly accurate answers to triprasna.
Contemporary time-keeping adopts a similar approach. The atomic clock serves as an unnaturally perfect model for daily usage, but is corrected by nature. Without the latter, the model-based time would very slowly but surely drift away from reality.
The most recent leap second was added on December 31, 2016.
Nakshatra-sector Coordinate system (NCS)
Nakshatras (as stars or star groups) have been an integral part of Indic culture and some of them serve as exemplars. Dhruva (a northern pole star) and the Vashishta-Arundati (Mizar-Alcor) pair are good examples.
Prior to the VJ, the Nakshatras were used to denote visible stars or constellations (27 or 28 in number) dotting the moon’s path. Hence, it was limited by visibility. Furthermore, these Nakshatras served as approximately fixed positions for time-keeping but were not truly invariant due to earth’s precession (‘precession of the equinoxes’). The designated pole star, for example, changes over time and cycles every 25,920 years (about a 1° shift every 71.6 years).
The Ancient Indics must have been aware of the impact of earth’s precession on the Nakshatra locations because, by the time of the VJ, the nakshatra-sectors were taken as 27 equal sections of the ecliptic (about 13.3° wide) rather than specific stars or asterisms in the background . This change yields multiple benefits.
The NCS is an invariant and uniquely Indic coordinate system that comes with a clearly specified origin (zero-point) that gives us a fixed starting coordinate. It is unaffected by the earth’s precession. The NCS resembles the modern-day ecliptic coordinate system calculation of the celestial longitude (since the moon’s path is very close to the ecliptic, tracking longitude was practically sufficient) .
The NCS represents a virtualized analytical framework that allows the time-keepers to algorithmically enumerate the ecliptic sector locations of all the full and new moons in a Yuga, aswell as the position of the sun. This was not possible in prior Vedic traditions since theirs was a purely physical coordinate system indentified by stars and asterisms along the moon’s path. This VJ system is free of visibility issues . The VJ specifies a coordinate system using an ingenious ‘Jāvādiarrangement‘. Of course, pratyaksha continues to guide accurate time-keeping.
This NCS helps us carry out the VJ calculations unambiguously.
The VJ Yuga is a time cycle of 5 years of 366 days each. A five year Yuga was already present in Vedic tradition. The Yuga is an integral unit of time-keeping in the Vedanga Jyotisha and all calculations are given based on this Yuga and the NCS. VJ assumes 12 synodic months in a synodic year plus two intercalary months (adhimasa or adhikamasa) over a Yuga to harmonize the lunar and solar calendars, giving us a total of 62 synodic months in a Yuga. The VJ specifically includes the adhimasa as synodic months #31 and #62 of the Yuga.
A VJ Yuga is completed when the sun and moon are observed to return to the pre-specified origin region of the NCS. This is the key definition in the VJ. Here is Sri Kuppanna Sastry’s description :
In other words, the Yuga begins when the Sun and the Moon are observed together in the Sravistha Nakshatra sector of the ecliptic .
The Parameters of a Yuga (YVJ)
Tracking the movements of spherical objects rotating and revolving around other moving spherical objects can be tricky. Here is a ‘coin rolling on a coin’ puzzle, where the inner circle serves as a fixed frame of reference. If the inner circle also rotates, then the answer is relative to the chosen frame of reference.
Earth-Sun System (days and years)
Saavana durations represent the time of the (apparent) motion of the sun relative to the earth as the frame of reference. Each saavana year in VJ lasts 366 days, giving a total of 1830 civil days in a Yuga. In reality, this frame of reference is itself slowly revolving around the sun in the same direction, and therefore saavana calculations ignore the resultant additional earth rotation (one per year). Sidereal periods are calculated with respect to a fixed reference point (e.g. distant star). The sidereal year includes this ‘missing’ rotation, giving us 367*5 = 1835 sidereal days in a Yuga. VJ’s Nakshatra Darshas would’ve observed 1835 risings of a Nakshatra (an invariant ecliptic sector) in a Yuga.
Earth-Moon System (months and fortnights)
The moon is ‘tidally locked‘ to the earth. The actual time the moon takes to go round the earth (sidereal lunar month) is the time it takes to complete a full rotation around its own axis. So one side of the moon always faces us as if it never rotates, and we never get to see the mysterious far side of the moon (photographed for the first time in 1959).
"And if the dam breaks open many years too soon And if there is no room upon the hill And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too I'll see you on the dark side of the moon". - Pink Floyd.
Let us calculate the number of moon rises and the number of sidereal lunar months in a Yuga.This visible side of the moon will be partially or fully observable on all sidereal days except the new moon days, of which there are 62 (one per synodic month). This gives us 1835-62 = 1768 moonrises in a Yuga, and 1830/1768 saavana days per moon rise on average.
Similar to the earth-sun system, the earth-moon system also yields an extra rotation per year depending on the frame of reference. Due to the earth’s revolution, the moon takes a couple of days extra to complete the synodic month (~29.53 days) relative to the earth. There will be 62+5 = 67 sidereal lunar months in a Yuga.
Since there are 27 sectors of the ecliptic, the moon visits 67*27 = 1809 Nakshatra sectors in a Yuga. Therefore, the moon traverses one sector in 1830/1809 = (1 and 7/603) Saavana days. The sun apparently visits 27*5 = 135 Nakshatra sectors, spending 13 and 5/9 days in a sector.
We now examine some of the larger units used in the VJ to keep time.
Larger Time Units
Saavana day: measured from sunrise to sunrise. The VJ takes the civil year to be 366 days long. Each day is divided into 124 Bhaagas (day-parts). 31 parts make a pada.
Tithi: This is a fundamental unit of the VJ equal to (1/30) of a synodic month. Hence a lunar month lasts 30 tithis, and the VJ assumes 360 tithis or 12 synodic months in a year in harmony with Vedic tradition. Thus, a Yuga has 1860 tithis and 1830 saavana days. From this, we can calculate the VJ mean value for a tithi = 1830/1860 or 61/62 of a day. The duration of a tithi depends on the moon’s orbit and is a variable quantity (+/- 15% the mean value), with the tithi at sunrise representing a day’s tithi . Sometimes, the same tithi can mark two successive sunrises or a tithi can be lost between two sunrises. Tithi was already used in prior traditions. In the Rig Veda, atithi is a guest – one who arrives without a tithi, i.e. without prior notice .
A tithi can go AWOLIt can be a really close callAll ye star-crossed suitors bewareDate your Nakshatras with care!
Given the diversity of India, its calendars are also diverse. Reckoning dates for dharmic events can be tricky even in 2017. This informative subtitled video asks ‘When is Ugadi?’. Yugadi ~ start of a new yuga (new year), Hevilambi, per current Hindu lunisolar calendars.
Rtu (season): Its duration is 62 tithis long, and therefore a Yuga will have 30 rtus, and 6 rtus a year. An important and unique feature of the Indian calendar is the use of six seasons including the all-important rainy season, the most celebrated and joyous of all rtus. The monsoons are governed by the annual wind patterns influenced by the Coriolis force . The first rtu of the Yuga is Sishira rtu (winter).
The VJ also specifies the duration of rtu using the NCS (4 and 1/2 Nakshatra sectors per Rtu). Knowing the start date of a rtu is also important because of the Chaturmasya rite that has to be performed.
Ayana (solstice): Ayanas divide the sidereal year into two halves. There are 10 ayanas in a Yuga.
Paksha: half a synodic month, equal to 15 tithis. The bright half is the Shukla Paksha and the dark half is the Krishna Paksha. A Yuga has 62 Shukla and 62 Krishna Pakshas.
Parva: The Yuga is divided into 124 Parvas. Therefore it is equal in duration to a Paksha. The Parva Raashi (R) is the accumulated heap of Parvas since the start of a Yuga and is quantified as follows : R = 2(12(y-1)+m) + p + K,
where y = current year of the Yuga, m = elapsed months in the current year, p is the elapsed parvas in the current month, K is an conditional correction factor (2 per 60 elapsed parvas) to adjust for intercalation.
Visuva (Equinoxes): The day when the sun apparently starts to move south or north and they occur at the mid points of each of the 10 Ayanas in a Yuga.
The interval between two successive Visuvas will be 124/10 Parvas = 12 Parvas and 6 Tithis. Hence the time elapsed in a Yuga until the N-th Equinox can be obtained by multiplying this inter-Visuva number by (N-1) and simplifying.
Bhaamsa (Amsa): To track the position of the sun and moon, every ecliptic sector is also divided into 124 equal Bhaamsas, mirroring the Parva time division of the Yuga. Hence, there are 27*124 Bhaamsas that spans the 360°. The Bhaamsa after p parvas is the remainder obtained after dividing 11p/124 . The VJ rescensions state an equivalent conditional and arithmetic rule that anyone can use, similar to the previous expression for parva raashi R.
Kalaa: A day is divided into 603 parts. This number is chosen so that the time taken by the moon to traverse one of the 27 nakshatra sectors (1 and 7/603 days) = 610 Kalaas, a whole number.
VJ gives many ingenious algorithms (abhiyukti) to keep track of the number of Parva, Bhaamsa, Paksha, etc. that have passed since the start of the Yuga. The interested reader is referred to Prof. Kuppanna Sastry’s work.
Intra-day Units of Time Keeping
Researchers point to 4 different kinds of times tracked by VJ  apart from the cosmic time. We point these out while listing the different time-keeping units.
Akshara (2 Maatraa) ~ 0.57 seconds. Time taken to pronounce a long vowel. This time-unit is interesting and suggests the existence of a long and well-established oral tradition.
Kaastaa (5 Aksharas) ~ 1.15 seconds.
Kalaa revisited (124 Kaastaas) ~ 2 minutes, 23 seconds. Kalaa establishes a link between the rate of speech to the average rate of lunar motion.
Naadika (10.05 Kalaas) ~ 24 minutes. Mechanically-kept time using a water clock. Passages in the Vedas  suggest the use of a particular water clock of the ‘overflowing type’.
Muhurta (2 Naadikas) ~ 48 minutes. Solar time based on the Sun’s apparent motion. Amazingly, the ancient muhurta measure has been preserved and passed through several generations and is used in India the exact same way, to this day.
Length of local daylight time in Muhurtas = (12 + 2N/61), where N is the number of days after the winter solstice. Since there are 183 days in an Ayana, the maximum increase is 6 Muhurtas. Using this, the ratio of the longest to shortest day is 18/12 = 3:2. This number depends on the latitude, and therefore helps us identify the source location of VJ.
Ahoratra (30 Muhurtas) ~ ‘day and night’, or 24 hours.
Bhaaga: The local time given in 124-th parts of a day starting from sunrise. Thus we see three divisions of ‘124’ in the VJ: Parvas in a Yuga, Bhaamsas in a Nakshatra sector, and Bhaagas of a day.
Note how a speech rate is linked to lunar time, then to mechanical time, and solar time. These physical temporal cycles of varying durations are ultimately united with the cyclical cosmic time through periodic Yagna performed at the right times.
The VJ approach to specifying numerical constants is pretty elegant. The high-level parameters, which are fewer in number, are enumerated. For the myriad of lower level constants that proceed down to the intra-day level, it cleverly specifies algorithms based on a linear estimate (mean motion), using rules derived from modulo arithmetic. By specifying any three independent parameters of a Yuga, all other Yuga parameters can be calculated as derived values . YVJ rescension’s second verse is famous for asserting the position of Ganita as the pinnacle of sciences .
VJ’s methods demonstrate ancient Indic abhiyukti. They do not provide a proof of correctness, but are to be validated by pramana. When a Ganaka’s analytically predicted quantity is in conflict with observation (pratyaksha), it is the model result that is discarded, and this also forces the model to improve.
Rule of Three: Linear Estimate
The VJ uses mean motion (average rate) as a first-order approximation within its calculations using the “rule of three“.
For example: Suppose we have a known average increment for a quantity ΔQ over a time period Δt, we can calculate an average rate of change = ΔQ/Δt. What will be the accumulated value of Q after T time units? A linear estimate will simply multiply this rate by time to obtain Q = (ΔQ/Δt)*T. The VJ states the rule of three in verse, so that it can be used repeatedly as a subroutine: calculate an average rate and multiply the increment by this rate to generate the desired output.
The VJ works with periodic quantities that get reset to 0 after reaching a maximum value. Doing calculations with such quantities requires expertise with modular arithmetic. 3000+ years before Gauss introduced formal modular arithmetic in 1801, the Hindus were actively applying modular arithmetic for calculating a variety of elapsed and remaining time values and the positions of the full and new moons over a Yuga.
The Javadi arrangement is an important contribution from a Ganita and VJ calendar perspective. It represents a virtualized (independent of stars in the background) invariant ecliptic coordinate system with a zero point taken as the new moon near the Winter Solstice, which is tied to the start of a Yuga . Javadi~ Jau Adi, i.e., arrangement of Nakshatras starting from Jau (Ashvayujau) . The position of the sun and new/full moon can be located unambiguously by the Javadi name of the Nakshatra sector and Bhaamsa within that sector. The table exhibits compact data organization and a circular ordering of the NCS data so that Sravistha represents Nakshatra sector 0 (or 27).
From the Yuga parameters and the NCS, the ‘distance’ between successive full (new) moons can be calculated as follows:
The moon passes through 1809 Nakshatra sectors in a Yuga. There are 62 full moons and 124 pakshas in a Yuga. There, the distance between two full moons is 1809/62 = 29 and 22/124 Nakshatra sectors, and a paksha length is half this value (14 and 73/124). By partitioning a sector into 124 bhaamsas, we obtain a simple (sector, bhaamsa) coordinate system using the original Vedic ordering of Nakshatras = (N_original, B) of new and full moons, where N_original and B are whole numbers.
The ganita properties of the full and new moon’s bhaamsas are interesting and we did not find much discussion on this, so we make an attempt here. A brief ganita description is in the appendix at the end of the post. Let us start from a new moon at bhaamsa B(0) = 0, and add 73 bhaamsas to obtain B(1) = 73 for the first full moon, and further 73 bhaamsas to get the bhaamsa B(2) of the second new moon, and so on. We can observe the following patterns:
The full or new moon will be wandering around, visiting each and every bhaamsa number exactly once. A full or new moon will never be seen twice in the exact same location (bhaamsa) of the ecliptic within a Yuga. When it does so at bhaamsa 0 in the Sravistha sector, the Yuga is reborn (reminiscent of Kolam patterns).
The 62 full moons of a Yuga occur at odd numbered bhaamsas, and new moons at even bhaamsas (if we start the Yuga at bhaamsa zero). At the full moons, the Sun’s coordinates will be 13.5 Nakshatras apart, i.e 13 sectors and 62 bhaamsas away.
The nakshatra sector and bhaamsa are themselves linked, so if you specify just the bhaamsa, you can obtain the corresponding N_original value:
N_original = 5B mod 27
N_original is remainder we get when we divide 5 times its bhaamsa by 27.
Of course, one can also calculate the N_original values directly as an independent check in case the input bhaamsa values are off. The VJ authors next transform the original Nakshatra sector list into the Javadi arrangement. It simplifies the required Ganita a bit (B instead of 5B).
The Nakshatra sector numbers can be transformed into a certain Javadi arrangement (N_original→N) using the following equation:
N = 11 N_original mod 27
Successive (original) Nakshatra sectors are 11 sectors apart in the Javadi arrangement. Conversely, successive sectors in the Javadi arrangement are 5 sectors apart in the original table. The Javadi arrangement starts from Ashvini and the final list is shown below . The Sanskrit verse form of the Javadi representation is depicted at the top of this post.
Bhaamsa Generation Algorithm
This transformed N is related to B in this Javadi arrangement through a simpler modular equation compared to N_original. The (N, B) Javadi coordinates for all full and new moons of a Yuga can be iteratively generated (see appendix) and are shown in the plot below (X-axis = Javadi nakshatra sector indices, Y-axis = bhaamsa numbers). These coordinates would repeat every Yuga.
The first full moon in a Yuga is at B = 73, which gives us a remainder N = 19 when divided by 27⇒ coordinates (19, 73). Therefore, the full moon occurs in the Magha sector per the Javadi table. The next full moon will be at bhaamsa B = 73+22 = 95. Applying N = 95 mod 27 ⇒ N = 14, i.e. Uttaraphalguni (14, 95). Multiple full moons (2 or 3) can fall in the same Nakshatra sector, but always at different bhaamsas. For example, the next and only other full moon (38-th) in the Magha sector will occur when B = (73-54) = 19. The two full moons that occur in Magha are circled in light-blue in the above picture. Note that the 3 new moons along the Y-axis at Sravistha (X = 0) are at least 54 bhaamsas (about 5.8°) apart.
Ecliptical Coordinate System
The (N, B) from Javadi are equivalent to an ecliptic longitude. These results have been compared with those generated using the modern ecliptic coordinate system, and they are quite close . Tracking the bhaamsas empirically is important and this can be done mechanically using a water clock. The Javadi table is deterministic and assumes fixed synodic month duration , so that every Yuga starts at coordinates (0, 0). This is not so in reality, and in the next section, we can see the maximum error that is possible. Since the origin is shifted, so will the calculation for every successive full moon. While the full moons may occur in the same Nakshatra sector, the bhaamsas will be off unless the origin-shift is accounted for. The Javadi table can be used as an approximate framework/guide for the Yagna calendar and supplemented with direct observation.
We have only discussed only a few of the high-level VJ calculations. For a detailed discussion, refer to .
Accuracy of some VJ calculations
VJ Value = 61/62 of a saavana day.
Modern estimate of an average synodic month ~ 29.5306 days
Modern value of tithi ~ (29.5306 * 12)/360 ~ 354.367/360
Absolute Error = |354.367/360 – 61/62| < 0.05%
A Yuga has 1860 tithis, so accumulated error ~ 0.896, or less than a tithi per Yuga .
Mean Moonrise Rate
VJ value = 1830/1768 ~ 24 Hours 50.4864 minutes , i.e., the moon rises about 50.4 minutes later every day. This agrees with the modern average moonrise value really well.
Start time of a Yuga
The new moon at the start of a new Yuga may not be exactly at bhaamsa 0 of the Sravistha sector. It has been shown that up to 46 bhaamsas error can accumulate over a period of 500 years . Since the moon traverses a Nakshatra sector (124 bhaamsas) in 610/603 saavana days, using the rule of three, we find that the moon traverses 46 bhaamsas in 9 hours. This is less than the minimum gap (54 bhaamsas) between successive full or new moons in the same Nakshatra sector. The maximum possible cumulative error in the start time of a Yuga after 100 Yugas is 9 hours .
Yuga: Self-Organizing System
In general, the VJ seems to be relatively more accurate while calculating lunar periods compared to solar periods . Over the next two millennium, the Hindu lunisolar calendars were significantly upgraded. The Ancient Indics were aware of the uncertainty in the true motions of the sun, earth, and moon, and the need for corrections. The Indian comfort with uncertainty  is perhaps reflected in the fact that the civil calendar was deliberately set up as a simple, convenient, and approximate framework for the astronomical (Yagna) calendar. The discrepancy between the arithmetic and astronomical calendar can be fixed using an intercalary day at the end of the Yuga . They also synchronized the sidereal and tropical year using appropriate corrections. Beyond these basic corrections, the lunar-solar year gap can accumulate over Yugas. It has been discovered by researchers [1, 3, 6] that the properties of the VJ Yuga yields a self-correcting system that automatically cancels out these errors.
Five tropical years at 1350 BCE = 5*365.1734 ~ 1825.9 days
Duration of a Yuga = 62 * 29.5306 ~1830.9 days
Difference ~ −5 days per Yuga or roughly one extra day per tropical year.
If this discrepancy is allowed to accumulate over 6 Yugas (sometimes 7), the total gap will be approximately a synodic month. A Nakshatra Darsha doesn’t even need to know the Ganita behind this. He/she simply sees the sun and moon together in the Sravistha sector to signal a new Yuga. The unnecessary intercalary month 61 is automatically skipped, which resets the accumulated error.
Some corrections were made by observation of the moon phase. At the new moon the moon rises and sets with the sun. If the moon rises just after sunrise, it indicates a time near new moon. Such observations enabled the Vedics to develop the rules required for an accurate timing of the Yagnas since certain Yagna performers would incur a penalty if they erred in the timing . Thus Vedic Yagna is the creative driving force that inspires this self-correcting calendar. A self-harmonizing Yuga seems natural in Prajapathi’s self-organizing universe.
Date and Source of VJ
Embedded within VJ’s verses is an astronomical date-stamp about Sravistha. If α-delphini is taken as the Yogatara (principal star) of Sravistha, then between 1550 BCE and 1150 BCE, the nakshatra Sravistha and the sun would have been close at the winter solstice, i.e., the Nakshatra rises and sets heliacally at the winter solstice, and this is not possible for dates outside this period . If a certain other star other than α-delphini is chosen as the Yogatara, the date gets pushed back beyond 1800 BCE . Kuppanna Sastry’s ganita calculations using the earth’s precession rate, and based on the observation of the VJ author that the winter solstice was at the start of the Sravistha segment, yields dates in the range [1150, 1400] BCE. Statistical analysis of the Nakshatra system shows that a maximal proportion (80%) of the Yogataras occupy their respective Nakshatra sectors in [1300 +/-300] BCE, indicating the finalization of the NCS during this period . From , we find mention of a date of 1255 BCE when King Suchi of Magadha, a student of Lagadha  set forth VJ and dated it by including an astronomical note about the summer solstice. When combined with other independent considerations such as the visibility of the Saptha Rishi (Ursa Major) from Bharatvarsha, the timing of Yagnas in conjunction with seasons, full moon, and prescribed Nakshatras, we obtain a date range [1400 +/- 300] BCE for Vedanga Jyotisha .
Multiple works show that the Nakshatra (star) system was most likely designed around 3000 BCE [2, 3, 10]. There is clear evidence of a continuous unbroken epistemology of time-keeping from the Rigveda Samhitas to the Vedanga Jyotisha.
Independent researchers have studied the 3:2 ratio of longest to shortest day, which is only possible around a certain latitude. This includes locations in far-northern India as well as other places. The calendar with a rainy season is also special to India. By also taking into account VJ’s date, several locations get eliminated from consideration, and Kashmir appears to be a likely location of the VJ author among the feasible candidates. This has been an independent conclusion reached by multiple scholars.
The Challenge of Vedanga Jyotisha
Kuppanna Sastry has listed three fundamental requirements for a scholar who wants to study and interpret Vendanga Jyotisha in its original Sanskrit verse :
Sound scholarship in Sanskrit
Knowledge of Western Astronomy
Full understanding of the concepts and practices of Hindu Astronomy
Those who have been frustrated in this task have lacked one or more of the requirements stated above. It is not necessary for one person to have all three skillsets. We have a precedent from 3000 years ago, when Nakshatra Darshas and Ganakas combined their skills to take Indic science and technology forward. Today, traditional Vedic Pandits grounded in Sanskrit and Hindu cosmology, and STEM professionals can work as a team to overcome new challenges in many areas. The first and third requirements involve dharmic tradition, which requires shraddha and sadhana, something every team member must imbibe. The Swadeshi Indology initiative serves as an inspiring example in this regard.
Several luminaries have contributed their expertise toward explaining the time-keeping ideas of Jyotihsastra. This post summarizes the student notes compiled while learning from and exploring these truly enlightening works, which are listed in the references below.
'If you were in Darkness, what would you want more than anything else; what would it be that every instinct would call for? Light, darn you, light!' - Nightfall, Isaac Asimov.
KV Sarma and Kuppanna Sastry. Vedanga Jyotisa of Lagadha In its Rk and Yajus Rescensions. With the Translation and Notes of Prof. T. S. Kuppanna Sastry. Critically edited by K. V. Sarma. Indian National Science Academy. 1985.
Subhash Kak. Astronomy and its Role in Vedic Culture. Chapter 23 in Science and Civilization in India, Vol. 1. The Dawn of Indian Civilization, Part 1, edited by G.C. Pande. ICPR/Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 2000.
Prabhakar Gondhalekar. The Timekeepers of the Vedas: History of the Calendar of the Vedic Period (From Rgveda to Vedanga Jyotisa). Manohar Publishers. 2013.
K. Ramasubramanian. Perspectives on Indian Astronomical Tradition. HH Dalai Lama Premises. Dharmasala. 2016.
Kosla Vepa. The Origins of Astronomy, the Calendar, and Time. Lulu.com. 2011.
Narahari Achar. Enigma of the Five Year Yuga of the Vedanga Jyotisa. Indian Journal of the History of Science (33). 1998.
Narahari Achar. A Case for Revising the Date of Vedanga Jyotisa. Indian Journal of the History of Science (35). 2000.
John Playfair. The Works of John Playfair (Vol. 3).. with a memoir of the author. Edinburgh, A. Constable & Co. 1822.
Rajiv Malhotra. Being Different: India’s Challenge to Western Universalism. Harper Collins. 2011.
Sudha Bhujle and MN Vahia. Possible Period of the Design of Nakshatras and Abhijit. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 2006.
C. K. Raju. The Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16 c. CE. Pearson Education. 2007.
Subhash Kak. The Astronomical Code of the Rig Veda. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. 2011.
Subhash Kak. The Wishing Tree: Presence and Promise of India. iUniverse Inc. 2008.
Kapila Vatsyayan. The Square and The Circle of The Indian Arts. Abhinav Publications. 1997.
R. N. Iyengar. A Profile of Indian Astronomy before the Siddhāntic Period. ISERVE Conference, Hyderabad, India. 2007.
Kuppanna Sastry. The Main Characteristics of Hindu Astronomy in the Period Corresponding to Pre-Copernican European Astronomy. Indian Journal of the History of Science (Vol 9). 1974.
Appendix & Acknowledgements
Acknowledgments: Thanks to N.r.i.pathi garu for encouraging me to write this post, and for his Baahubali-esque patience and valuable feedback.
The bhaamsas of the full or new moon are generated using the recurrence relation:
B(k+1) = B(k)+73 mod 124.
This is an example of a linear congruential generator (LCG) that is commonly used in computer simulation models. The sequence of bhaamsas visited by the full or new moon in a Yuga are pseudo-random numbers. Since 73 and 124 are relatively prime, this LCG is guaranteed to have a full period (124) that exactly spans a Yuga. The Hull-Dobell theorem (1962) proves the result for the general case. It is also easy to see that if B(k) is even, then B(k+1) will be odd, and vice versa. We can simply generate the bhaamsas to verify this. The following algorithm generates the chronological sequence (N(k), B(k)) of all new and full moon positions of a Yuga in Javadi coordinates:
1. Initialize: k = 0, B(0) = 0.
2. N(k) = B(k) mod 27. If B(k) is even, it is a new moon, else full moon.
3. B(k+1) = B(k) + 73 mod 124.
4. if k=123 stop. Else, k=k+1; go to step 2.
“How regressive!”, they may say. “MGTOW!” they will retort. “Tactic to guilt women into becoming Ladies!”, they might argue. Yes, even the last one is true courtesy feminists in our topsy turvy age. But the reality is, whatever radfem activists argue, whatever redpill [do]tards retort, and whatever post-modern popinjays might protest, for a civilised society, Gentlemen not only Matter but are, in fact, Foundational.
Pickup/Seduction artists may protest that “nice guys finish last” and “girls like bad boys”—and incidentally, I’m not actually contesting your point. But the problem is, you’re not asking why it might be true. The reason why nice guys finish last & many (not all) girls like bad boys is because when most people lead boring lives, it’s natural to want a little excitement, even if it is stupid or even dangerous. But none of this means a gentleman has to be boring. None of this means a gentleman can’t deliver a good ass-kicking to bad boys. And none of this means a gentleman can’t be popular with the ladies as well.
Mera rath par tumhara swagat hai, Rajkumari
And this is precisely the problem. Most young men forget that in a world dominated by bad boys, theNiti of Krishna is required. The attitude of bad boys (most of whom are usually cowards with attitude) is misconstrued as confidence and strength and excitement. That’s why nice guys finish last. If you still look like your mummy picks your outfits, why would any girl want you?
But this is the conundrum, the false dichotomy if you will, in a long line of confused bipolarity facing modern society. Boring Nice guy vs Bad boy, Libertinism vs Slavery, Communism vs Capitalism, and of course, that all time classic, Virgin vs Whore. The Madonna-Magdalene dichotomy is one of the most injurious to civilised society, and yes, even one that prizes chastity. Simply because a woman is not “Mary-mother-of Jesus” or Sita Devi, does not mean it is “open season”.
I have used these two examples because contrary to attempts by Western Academia and Mainstream Media, it is not just Indian society that faces an issue with exploitation of women. In fact it is far, far worse in the Developed World , East Asia, and the Middle East. The difference is, unlike “Modern/Secular/Capitalist” India, Traditional Ancient Dharmic Indiaemphasised the dignity of a woman, no matter who she was. And there were brutal consequences for men who tried to violate it (Google: Dushasana).
Our society even works law of dharma. Not contract based civil law. Thats why we have just 12800 police stations for 6.7 lac villages/towns
vaatho’pi naasraam-sayada-sukaani ko lambayed aaharanaaya hastham || (S. 6,sl.75)
While he [Dilipa ancestor of Rama] was ruler of the earth, even the very breeze dared not disturb the skirts of drunken women who sank to sleep on the road when half-way they had strayed to the place of enjoyment; far less dared any one to extend his hand for theft. [1,115]
Why is only India targeted via “India’s Daughter” and other such politically-motivated documentaries? After all, all is not healthy in the infallible West. What of this culture?
This is the danger of racial stereotyping and negative imaging.Narratives are invented and individuals are judged on the basis of pre-conceived notions (usually by the ignorant). Unlike the intellectually dishonest doyennes of the Western Ivory Tower, we won’t stereotype this as emblematic of Western culture, despite the historically confirmed misogynist reputation of a certain “Universal” Institution that happens to be the world’s oldest bureaucracy. The fact is, there is an even deeper sickness, and that is called post-modernity.
If Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society, is it any wonder there are few gentlemen anymore, in any part of the world? Yes, much like boys complain, nice guys are finishing last (so women do have some part of the blame), but the time has come to put an end to the Virgin-Whore dichotomy. This is damaging not only to the vast majority of women who are in the middle (just like the vast majority of men), but is damaging to society as well, as it degrades the dignity of all women.
Sita Mata once asserted the unfairness of all women being judged by the behaviour of a few vulgar women. And this is true. That is the reason why we split character into three parts.
Character is 3 parts:
1.Moral Character (living according to Moral Standards, religious, sexual, etc)
2.Personal Integrity (holding true to your obligations, beliefs, and promises)
3.Ethical Civility (treating other with respect and acting for societal good)
If we ask how many men have what it takes to be Ram, isn’t the corollary how many women have what it takes to be Sita?
Contrary to absinthe-addicted activists, if you have no loyalty to your own society “because patriarchy!”, don’t expect to not be civilly criticised for your ridiculous views. And for those ritualistic twenty something twits on twitter who say “We are not Sri Rama to treat Surpanakha with respect”—well dear ritualistic twenty something twit on twitter, then don’t expect to marry a woman who is like Sita either. Whether you believe in probability or divinity, we get in life (generally) what we ourselves deserve.
As such, whether it is the reprehensible behaviour of members of that so called “Secular” Political Party AAP, or the corporate culture of that American Jewelry corporation, one can see how the absence of gentlemen creates conditions for the exploitation of women—whatever the rule of law.
Bad boys are “bad” for a reason, ladies.No matter how they look, no matter what they say, what’s important is how they see…you. But these scenarios also show that it is not a simple matter of a “chaste religious girl” vs “office floozy”. If most men are of middling character, so too are most women. And as we illustrated, character is more than just moral character, it is also strength of belief and willingness to endure (even in the face of hardship or authority).
This is the importance of Sabhyata, Saujanya, & Maryada. All of these are an integral part of Nara Dharma. It is also why Bhagvan Ram was called Maryada Purushottam. It didn’t matter whether it she was Sita or Surpanakha, Rama treated all women with respect. It is only when Surpanakha threatened to kill Sita that Rama had Lakshmana punish her.
A man behaves like a gentleman not because of what it says about her, but because of what it says about him.
The American jewelry store chain had many more women whose maternal or economic or office hierarchical cares kicked in allowing their vulnerability to be exploited by bad men. There was probably a small percentage of vulgar women who were delighted to go along with the advances of men—but even if it was as much as 33%, that means still 67% didn’t want to and were pressured by these American men who should have treated their colleagues and employees with respect. Some may say the middling 33% submitted to this pressure probably just found an excuse—but to that, the answer is “who’s to say?”. Do you have student loan debt you can’t pay if you lose your job? Do you have a parent whose life depends on expensive medical care? Are you a single mother with a child to feed?
That last one Should sound familiar.
Most guys may say “Really? Problem solved, and I get sex too?” and most social contract sybarites may attest “It is simply a transaction resulting mutual gain“, but then society doesn’t judge men and women the same way in matters of sex, so neither judgmental men nor their feminist/objectivist analogues have it right. Others may then argue “well, there were women who resist even that pressure”—and to that I say yes. There were women who resisted and there are women who resist. But both women and men are subject to blackmail, it’s just that they are usually blackmailed for different things. The women and men of highest character resist blackmail even in the face of dire circumstances, but also in the case of authority.
The story of Ahalya is illustrative here:
Most people believe that Ahalya was fooled by Indra into thinking he was her husband Gautama, and that is why she had physical relations with him. But as the Valmiki Ramayana itself confirms, Ahalya was in fact very clever, and was intelligent enough to realize it wasn’t her husband. So why then did she agree? Well, most men have a ready answer and claim all women are like this when they get the chance. But that is not actually the case. Ahalya agreed to the tryst because in her respect for authority she believed a Brahmin or King or King of the Gods could not be disobeyed. But this of course is not Dharma, as we know Ravana who was a brahmin & a king & defeated the King of the Gods, was rightly refused. Authority, whether that of a brahmin, a king, or deva cannot be misused to exploit a person. And as both Indra and Ravana found out, they too would have to be punished and suffer the consequences, whatever their status or position.
That is also why Ahalya was cursed to turn into a stone. Just because in her delicateness woman may be more amenable to authority is no excuse to engage in immorality. She may be delicate like a flower or vine, but when faced with immorality and evil, woman must also be able to turn into a stone—and the men who would devilishly exploit them, must get hit by one.
That is why in the case of Sita we see that she not only turned into a stone (metaphorically speaking), but over the course of a year of torment, seduction attempts, pleading, and threats by Ravana, she became a veritable diamond. That is why both she and her only love, Rama, were described as follows:
Vajradapi katorani mrudooni kusumadapi |
Lokotharaanaam chetaamsi ko nu vigyathu marhaati ||
Harder than a diamond and softer than a flower
Who can gauge the conduct of super-eminent persons?
It is this middle endurance that is lacking in both women AND men today, whether it is morality-obsessed Indian society or decency driven American society.
It is the courage of conviction that allows you to keep your character, even in difficult circumstances. And it is also the absence of gentlemen to intervene when the law fails or even a culture collapses, that creates bastards and the cycle of bastardy.
But as we’ve emphasized, contrary to what MSM, Cultural Anthropologists, and Native informants tell you, this problem is not specific to a specific culture, but as we’ve seen and will see now, an issue that all societies face when they become decadent or immoral.
“The Rape of Lucretia” is a famous episode from Italian History. It is all the more illustrative because the son of the Roman King Tarquinius Superbus threatened her that if she resisted, he would lie and tell everyone she willingly slept with a slave. The bad boys of today of course are even worse because unlike young Tarquin, they would have lied anyway. Nevertheless, it was the rape of Lucretia that caused Roman society to raise arms against the oppression of the Tyrannical Tarquins, and under Lucius Junius Brutus, established the Roman Republic. But the issue here is not the form of government, or even the specific culture, but the state of moral culture in society, especially in its elites.
And for those “human rights activists” who only seem to have Indian culture in their sights with regard to women and misogyny and Agni Pareeksha, tell me again which civilization produced this celebrated figure who said this:
This is the problem with double standards and selective application.Justice for my friends and the full extent of the law for my enemies may be the rule that “exceptionalists” live by (and a concept which sentimental protocol droids have yet to learn), but the essential aspect that all parties are forgetting, is the justice part.
This is the case whether it is ritual-obsessed India or PC-obsessed America. Morality matters, and Decency matters, but it is Character that ultimately makes both possible. That is why Rule of Justice that matters more than Rule of Law. That is why the Rule of Dharma must be restored.
Voluntary discipline based on morals & norms brings about convergence & relations. We called that discipline as dharma. Law is coercive
When law and order breaks down, when a culture collapses, when the vulnerable are unprotected, forces of criminality don’t think of responsibility, but rather, think of opportunity.
That is why force requires counter-force. That is why gentlemen matter. Because whether it is in a corporation or in a political party or at a social party, rather than opportunity, gentlemen see responsibility.
A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal, on July 22, 2015
Much water has flowed down the waterfall south of Mahishmati since we last touched on this topic. Those of you following us on Andhra Cultural Portal would have read our Post 2 years ago when Baahubali-The Beginning was released. Well, unless you were living in one of those caves featured in the film, you would not only be familiar with this phenomenon, but also would have watched it…several times.
And make no mistake, this Andhra movies is not just a national or global phenomenon, but especially a civilizational one for all members of Indic Civilization. It is not for nothing this Telugu language movie was a hit in Nepal. Part 2’s distribution rights have already sold for 3 crores in Prithvi Narayan Sah‘s Hindu Rajya.
So in honour of Srisaila Sri Rajamouli’s digital age epic’s second installment, Baahubali 2-The Conclusion, we give a reprint of our review of Part 1. Enjoy. Watch the movie. And above all…
The scores are in, the box office has reported, and the people have spoken: Baahubali-The Beginning is a box office behemoth. S.S. Rajamouli’s smash hit is truly a magnum opus that has swept all of India, South and North of the Vindhya. Indeed, much ink has already marked the proverbial paper, and a number of columns, cookie cutter top tens, and well-penned essays have made their mark. What’s more, long derided regional Telugu cinema is no longer seen as merely a source for remakes, but as even foreigners note, is a source of jealousy for Bollywood insiders. As Krishnarjun gaaru has written, the industry itself has the potential to go back to its golden age 3-5 decades ago, with classics such as Maya Bazaar and Missamma.
Nevertheless, while ACP typically analyzes movies long after the glitz and glamour of a premiere has passed, there is something special about this film that has come to underscore the present zeitgeist.As such, this post is not our standard cinematic analysis, or a fine study of symbology, or even a well-crafted commentary on the industry’s future. Rather it is about understanding the cultural resonance of Baahubali and why it’s relevant and indeed a revelation at this place and at this time. We have sought to do this with ** No Spoilers** for those of you who have yet to see it.
First, a Rejoinder
Despite all the acclaim— not only in the Telugu rashtras or even just Bharata desa, but also globally—sour grapes from the standard set has been increasing from dribble to a deluge. The bitter wine they swill is in the hopes of poisoning the popular opinion. As such, a rejoinder is in order.
Almost two weeks in, the knives are now out courtesy the usual suspects: “Idea of India” indoctrinues (copyright pending for portmanteau), Dubai-gang ghulams of bollywood, and assorted sordid-sickulars of all sorts are now slashing at this movie, after a proverbial puissant punch to the solar plexus. Gasping for breath, these pill-popping, phillim-hopping philistines have the gall to tear down this movie by hook or by crook. The “un-original” charges (Tarzan this, Lord of the Rings that) are particularly asinine, especially coming from bollywood. After all, Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay drew from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, which drew from John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven, which ultimately drew from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It’s invariable that inspiration here and there may come from different sources–the question is breathing new life, new vision, and new context into them, and weaving them into a unique piece. Baahubali has accomplished this to the shame of Bollywood.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Setting aside their ignorance about the Kalakeyas in the Mahabharata (yet another example of what happens when you don’t know your own epics), the question isn’t whether Bharatvarsha, the land of Rama’s friend Guha, Pratap’s friends among the Bhils, or Rani Durgavati’s own in-laws, treated its tribals well, but what happened to the tribes of Europe? Bharat respected the tribal way of life, and even saw its merits by encouraging vana prastha (forest life) for retired kings and other elites.
In any event, the body blow from Baahubali had left them in a week-long stupor that they are only now gurgling back from. Left with little other than Bajrangi Bhaijan to salve their wounds, they have united around this flick touting everything from “sentiment & emotion!” to “profitability” (a.k.a. the Sonam Kapoor defence)—poor dears. And yet, why this movie and why such mendacity? After all, Magadheera showed a native Bharatiya kingdom in a complimentary fashion. It too balanced CGI and Story with dramatic action and theatric performances. Those who point to a display of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) in positive light, forget the Kala Bhairava Statue that served as the sentinel of cinematic climax. No, the reason why Bahubaali-The Beginning, this movie, at this time, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of hate, is because it is true cinematic splendour celebrating Dharma.
Despite the laughable claims about Bajrangi Bhaijan touting an emotive ideal, while Baahubali did not, it’s quite clear that this movie was refulgent with an ideal. Dharma, in all its myriad forms, in all its numerous nuances, is immanent throughout this Sistine chapel in celluloid. And unlike that metaphor, the fact that Rajamouli’s Masterpiece drew on native Indic forms (architecture harkens to Angkor, Amaravati, and Avanti) , native Indic fashion (Tamannah’s transformative couture is more the ancient standard), Indic names (Avantika, Baahubali), Indic Sacred History (Rishabhadeva’s sons are an overarching influence), and Indic Geography (Mahismati was the capital of Kartaveerya Arjuna), only roiled our stealth regressive royyalu (that’s Telugu for “shrimp”, btw) further. That it was able to do this by bringing Bharatiyas of all panths (religions) in to enjoy the ride and make them feel a part of the experience, was the last straw.
In a way, it’s almost poetic that a movie so redolent in Dharma Culture was distributed and promoted by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. Though obviously written, produced, directed, and lead acted by Telugus, this multi-starrer provided a tale and experience to which all Bharatiyas could relate.
We saw a dharmic society in action. From artistry and architecture to the traditional sastras and functioning of statecraft, it was an image of an India that once was. True, it was balanced by elements of fantasy and drew directly from the Puranas, via the Kalakeyas. But we also a saw a version of how our ancestors lived and the principles that drove them: patriotism, loyalty, self-sacrifice, motherhood, love, and above all Dharma.
What’s more, it was an image of not just how the elites might have lived, but the commoners as well. We see how villagers and elites coexisted honorably. Albeit underneath a fantastic and fantastical waterfall, it was a portrait nonetheless of the idylls of rural and even forest life. It too was replete with Dharma—not the philosophical or intellectual dharma, but the everyday dharma, the common dharma. Society may have different classes, but if the elites behave properly and with humility and a sense of social duty, then society is at harmony. The Brahmanas we see on film present a living memory of such great yet humble men.
In a snub to faux animal welfare activists (who think eating fish is inhumane, but are miraculously pro-beef), a version of Jallikattu is presented as a martial pass time. What’s more we even see an internal rebuttal regarding animal sacrifice. A Right hand Tantra riposte of the Left hand is given, demonstrating that Dharma offers alternatives internally to such practices in the name of Kulacara.
We see shakti in action, with numerous strong roles played by numerous strong women. Rather than being mere chattel, our women, our queens, commanded respect, and Shakti balanced her counterpart. We see glimpses of love and even a version of Gandharva Vivaha, where lovers came together through choice. Rather than merely loving and leaving, it was union of souls. That it was indeed marriage was emblematic when the obligation of the girl also become the obligation of the boy. As such, more than anything else, it was duty, and in particular, Kshatriya duty, that truly made its mark on screen.
The Kshatriya Ideal
Magadheera was certainly a cinematic benchmark, but Baahubali is a cultural phenomenon. The title role is not a common soldier, but a Kshatriya incarnate. As ‘The One with Strong Arms‘ he fights not only with his weapons and fists, but also with his wits. Indeed, we see that the true Kshatriya, the true King, is the one who protects his people and has their interests at heart. What’s more, this embodiment of Kshatriyata was not merely limited to men. We see a true Kshatrani in action, in conjunction with many strong and even warrior women. Ramya Krishnan alone deserves applause for her compelling and moving performance. In many ways it is she who presents the fulcrum of the film. Not only checking ambition within herself and her own family, she asserts that the true Kshatriya is not a usurper, but executes his duty to the ruling house loyally. Indeed, she provides a firm feminine rebuke to pig-headed male ambition.
The great Kshatriya vamsas of old not only had great power but expectations of great responsibility. The Kshatriya ideal of balancing education, training, statecraft, wealth, and power is the need of the hour. Rote-memorization and blind application of and training in the sastras will not win the Kurukshetra. It is for this reason that adhyatmik and laukik knowledge were separated. Adhyatmik vidya is verily the soul of our tradition. But due to the high minded principles it inspires, it requires protection from evil via laukika vidya.
Therefore, Kshatriyas were the natural leaders of society. They had an understanding of and respect for the adhyatmik principles, but the pragmatism to recognize the era of falsehood that we live in, and the improvisation it requires. Hence, the true Kshatriya is not a hot-blooded, hot-head who loses his temper in blind anger, but is a strong willed defender of truth, by whatever means necessary. Varnashrama dharma certainly has degenerated in the past millennium into arrogant and brainless casteism from all ranks, and surely has its issues, but when properly conceived, it is one of balance. A society with an over-sized head, cannot be supported by the rest of its body. The true brahmanas of yore understood that as the teachers and philosophers of society, material living was not for them, and neither sought power nor wealth nor demanded sycophancy or undue influence. The true brahmana after all, is without ego. They also understood the limits of the brahmana varna, and as Parashurama corrected the imbalance of Kshatriyas crossing their limits, so too did Bhagavan Rama correct it with Ravana, and ironically, Parashurama himself.
The traditional partnership of Kshatriyas and Brahmanas is today mired in predation or pretentiousness. Those who aspire to those ideals must remember that Maharishi Veda Vyasa’s own son, the brahmana Suka deva, completed his education under the Rajarishi Janaka. Thus, while Kshatriyas were the natural political leaders and brahmanas the natural spiritual leaders, both required elements of the other to properly conduct their duties.
Competence is not mere aptitude or ability. After all, potential energy exists even in still water. Competence is being good at what you do. Ability too has varying degrees, but competence means you have sufficient ability for the job—not merely on the basis of natural talent, or studies, or even training, but due to habit of improvisation and adaptation confirmed through practical experience.
The sastras afford us with guidance, but it is the job of the general, the job of the Raja to not only learn and understand knowledge, but apply and improvise it. This is not done in the gurukul or ashram, but on the battle map or field of battle. After all, the tactics used by Chhatrapati Shivaji were evolved by Maharana Pratap—who had no Samarth Ramdas.
Therefore, leadership in society requires balance. Of the spiritual with the practical, of the traditional with the necessary, of the brahmana with the kshatriya. That this movie was able to present the kshatriya spirit, the aristocratic ethos, without ridiculing Adarsh liberal’s favourite punching bag—Brahmins—is only fuel for the fire of indigestion they’ve been suffering since July 10th. That is what Baahubali presented—and oh so very artistically at that. Whether it was the One with Thousand Arms or the One with Strong Arms, Mahishmati was the Capital of Kings.
From its waterfalls to its mountains to its maps, this film is pure artistic splendour. The cinematography is truly outstanding and world-beating, and all elements of cinema, from the visual and auditory to the dramatic and literary are in sound balance. A complete movie, it serves as a grand canvas for not only fantasy, but indeed, on-screen poetry.
One of the more interesting aspects wasn’t the research into our Puranas or even the dress and architecture of the ancients, but the subtle inclusion of our classical literature’s approach to drama. Though perhaps not noticeable to our non-Andhra friends, the dialogue features different forms of Telugu, based on orders of society—a practice commonly used by the ancients. Thus, we see literary forms of the language ( granthikam ), along with dialectal ( mandalikam ) and colloquial ( janapadam ).
We are also given a vision of fashion and femininity that is nevertheless strong and full of Shakti. Traditional designs and forms are presented in a manner that is sensuous but not titillating.
Even rati bhava is treated with delicacy in a restrained manner. The artificial is blended with the natural, rather than challenging it. It is not the conquest of nature by man, but the harmony of man and woman with nature.
In short, this movie is a marriage of tradition and tastefulness, form and function, masculine and feminine, elite and common, ancient and modern, art and technology.
Inflection point for the Industry?
Long time readers may recall our early pieces on the Telugu film industry (tollywood no longer) bemoaning the state of the sector. Ironically, one of them actually touched on film and kshatriyata. Rather than being merely seen as an object for derision, it has an opportunity again to rise to its early heights in the 50s and 60s.From kitsch, are we truly seeing a return to art? One hopes that the smashing success of the film will ensure at least a few movies that at least aspire to such a level, even if they do not scale such Himalayan heights. The upcoming release ofRudhramadevi affords an opportunity. Indeed, Baahubali served as an exquisite launch vehicle for Anushka Shetty to a national audience. Whether Gunasekhar is ultimately able to balance CGI with cinematic depth and action with taste, remains to be seen. We remain hopeful.
A Riposte to the “Idea of India” & The Breakthrough of Bharat
This movie was nothing short of a riposte to the ineluctable “Idea of India”—hence its resonance with all classes. This colossus of a success has shown that cheap laughs, titillation and tawdriness, and the apotheosis ofall things non-native, no longer need be the way to box office success, or more importantly, cinema and culture.
Above all, was the sense of belonging to a common society that truly resonated. This wasn’t just a Telugu movie about Telangana or Andhra Pradesh, but an Indian movie about India. The India that once was. What’s more, rather than attempting to pass for Persians or Syrians, the lead actor looked like he might actually be one of them—Indians. Full credit to Prabhas for the physique he developed to give a vision of a royal hero that actually looked like the people—a reality underscored by his own real life pedigree. Rana brought the glamour, but the heart and soul of kingship was played by the first lead.
Indeed, our brothers and sisters in the North have long been deprived of cultural expression of native high culture courtesy Bollywood.They have been taught and even expected to see themselves as part of that spectrum rather than the subcontinent’s as a whole. This movie changed all that. Perhaps nothing emphasized that more when Katappa’s native Indic khadga smashed the prized Persian sword. This scene was fitting not only in an artistic rejoinder to the Idea of India brigade, but in an historical and technological one as well. The famed wootz steel (ukku) ingots of India were what made the finest blades of the era. Indeed, the historical Andhra desa was distinguished for its khandas, and made the Kakatiya kingdom all the more splendrous.
Make no mistake, this was an original movie. Ostensibly, the fairy tale jibes will lead to the obvious Lord of the Rings, Tolkien comparisons. After all, suited simulacra can never see anything beyond the western. But what these indoctrinated ingénues forget was that Tolkien himself drew on Norse and biblical mythology to create one for the English. S.S. Rajamouli had no such need. He was able to draw on the incredible fountain of Classical Indic Literature, with all its epics, sophistication, beauty, and nava rasas, and use his talent, vision, and entrepreneurial courage, to bring them to life and make them relevant to the times. So let the pop-psychologists, Freudian hacks, Lutyens insiders, foreign sympathisers, and serial slanderers run their ignorant mouths…We, the native public, the real public, know the real reason behind The Civilizational Resonance of Baahubali.
Predictably ignorant of the native Literary canon, serial rudaali, PK pablum peddler, and apochryphal activist Aamir Khan is said to have remarked after watching Inception “we [Bollywood] can’t even think at that level [Hollywood]”. Perhaps Bollywood can’t think at that level, PK, but Bahubaali has shown that Bharatiyas—real Bharatiyas—certainly can.
The following Post was composed by Prakruti Prativadi. You can follow her on TCP.
Bharatanāṭyaṃ performances often standout for the striking and realistic portrayals of characters and their stories which are powerful and moving and live in the memory of the audience. Audience members even share their experience with the dancer, often telling how the dance made them teary-eyed, or get goose-bumps. The technique and theory of emoting and embodying characters is referred to as Abhinaya in Bharatanāṭyaṃ and Indian classical dances. The word ‘Abhinaya’ literally means carrying the meaning of the art to the audience. In Indian classical dances like Bharatanāṭyaṃ, the means by which this is done is significant, since the dancer must have expert knowledge of the Abhinaya techniques and nuances in order to genuinely embody and communicate the essence of the song to the onlooker and, most significantly, to awaken the Rasaexperience in the spectator.
The general understanding of Abhinaya is that it is the emotive and expressive aspect of classical Indian dance. However, Abhinaya consists of more than just the enactment facet of Bharatanāṭyaṃ; Abhinaya consists of four major types. But before going into the technical aspects of Abhinaya and its varied uses, we must first understand the purpose of Abhinaya. The point of Abhinaya is not just to tell a story or play a role. Abhinaya is how the dancer awakens the Rasa experience in the audience. In Indian Aesthetics, Rasa is a supreme aesthetic experience and is the paramount aim in any classical dance performance and is described as a conscious-uplifting experience, in which the spectator feels a bliss-state that is similar to the bliss of Brahman knowledge.
“The experience of Rasa is similar to the experience of Brahman” – Abhinavagupta
Per the Natyashastra, a dance, drama, or music performance that does not generate Rasas and is not offered to the Gods is not really art and is Nīca (vulgar). This kind of performance will not benefit either the audience or the performers. According to Bharata, no meaningful communication can exist without producing Rasa.
Rasa is not limited to the stage or court; Rasa comes from a set of conditions the dancer creates. Rasa is born after the generation of many and varied Bhāvas(mental and emotional states) that differ based on the character and circumstance. Rasa is awakened in the spectator as result of: Vibhāvas (determinants), Anubhāvas (consequent reactions), Vyabhicāri (impermanent mental states), Sāttvika (with Sattva) and Sthāyi (permanent mental state) Bhāvas emerging first. According to Bharata, Abhinavagupta, Śārṅgadeva, and other scholars, the Rasa experience is the ultimate purpose of Nāṭya (dance, drama and music). Without Rasa, the performance does not bring a benefiting and lasting effect to the onlooker. Rasa experience is filled with joy and is akin to the knowledge of Brahman.
The Rasa experience stays with the audience for some time even after the performance has concluded; the audience wants to experience it again. During the Rasa experience, the very consciousness is transformed to reflect the true inner Self. The concept of Rasa is ancient and found in the Vedas and Upanishads. For example, the Taittriya Upanishad declares that: Raso vai Saha: Rasa (is) Him (Brahman).
Rasa is not isolated to dance, but also exists in poetry, music and drama. The dances of temples, performed by Devadāsis and in some cases even temple priests also have the same goal of generating Rasa in the onlooker because these dances are not just rituals, they generate Bhāvas which result in Rasa; the Devadāsis also offered their dances to the Divine Gods, which is the same motive of the dance performed on the Raṅga (stage) described in the Nāṭyaśāstra. There is no difference in purpose between the dance described in the Nāṭyaśāstra and the dance of the temples.
Abhinaya consists of four types:
Āṅgika Abhinaya: Using the body, including the arms, hands, feet, legs, torso, face, and head in dramatic representation.
Vācika Abhinaya: Dramatic portrayal through the use of speech, in Bharatanāṭyaṃ Vācika Abhinaya consists of the songs and compositions that are danced.
Āhārya Abhinaya: Consists of make-up, jewelry, flowers, props and accessories used by the dancer to aid in dramatic portrayal.
Sāttvika Abhinaya: Emoting and portrayal of characters and situations through Sattva.
All these types of Abhinaya are essential to generate the Bhāvas and awaken Rasa in the audience. Amongst these, however, the more intangible and indefinable type is undoubtedly Sāttvika Abhinaya. Sāttvika Abhinaya is portrayal that is full of Sattva. This is a crucial ingredient, because it is required to genuinely embody the Bhāvas that will generate Rasas.
Bharata states that a successful performance is not one in which the dancers win awards or gain materially but one in which the Rasa experience was powerful and experienced by the audience. This is the measure of Siddhi (success) that Bharata emphasizes.
“One must take particular care of Sattva… for Abhinaya resides in Sattva” -Nāṭyaśāstra
Sāttvika Abhinaya, as the Nāṭyaśāstra states is an intangible but vital element in generating the Bhāvas and Rasas. Generating Rasa in the audience is not a simple task. The dancer must possess the technical skill, imagination, intellect and a certain state of mind to be able to embody the characters, stories, and movements that evoke Bhāvas and Rasa. According to the Nāṭyaśāstra and other dance treatises, like Saṅgīta Ratnākara, in order to evoke Rasa in the audience, the dancer’s mind and consciousness must be in a state of Sattva.
“Sattva can only be accomplished by a tranquil, peaceful and concentrated mind” -Nāṭyaśāstra
Bharata and Abhinavagupta emphasize that a performance without Sattva will not move the audience and will not produce Bhāvas and Rasas, and thus, will be unsuccessful and meaningless.
Sattva is a Sanskrit word that has no direct translation in English or non-Indian languages. Interestingly, even Indologists like A.B. Keith, agreed that Sattva has no translation. So, what does Sattva mean? Sattva is a concept that is present in other ancient Hindu philosophical and sacred works like the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and is important in the Hindu worldview and in Hindu practices. Sattva is one of the three Guṇas (attributes, qualities, threads, tendencies); the other two are Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva Guṇa is one that is bright, pure, luminous, buoyant, happy and stainless. Under the influence of Sattva, the mind is calm, unagitated, filled with Śraddha, steady, and reflects the Self (Brahman). A person with a Sāttvic mind renounces the results of his or her actions; in other words, actions motivated by Sattva are offered to the Supreme. As the Nāṭyaśāstra makes clear in the very first chapters, Nāṭya, which consists of Indian classical dance, drama and music, whether performed on a stage or in a temple must be an offering to the Divine Gods.
Rajas is agitation, activity, pain, egotistic, seeking sense-pleasures, and Tamas, is dark, inert, lazy, indifferent and exhibits low passions and tendencies. Our actions are controlled and directed by the mind exhibiting a combination of these three Guṇas.
Sattva also means Rajas and Tamas are not present. When the mind is purified, it is Sāttvic and in a state of Śānti and Ānanda and is able to reflect the Self (Brahman). The Rasa experience itself, is likened to the bliss of Brahman knowledge. Sattva modifies the consciousness to bring out Rasa.
In the Nāṭyaśāstra, Bharata describes eight Sāttvika Bhāvas which are: paralysis, sweating, goose-bumps, change in voice, trembling, pallor, weeping and fainting. According to Bharata, these Sāttvika Bhāvas give genuineness and realism to the dance and make the audience to become one with the performance, hence generating Bhāvas and Rasa. Bharata states that in order to embody the Sāttvika Bhāvas, the dancer’s mind must be in a state of Sattva – purified of the Rajasic and Tamasic attributes.
Thus, a prerequisite to an outstanding dance performance is that the dancer must accomplish a state of Sattva before the performance and maintain this state of mind during the performance to generate Rasa. How does the dancer go about preparing the mind to be Sāttvic? It is not just a matter of motivating oneself through pep talks or having a few minutes of quiet solitude before the performance. These, of course, can help and all Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancers, to some extent, will use these techniques. But to have the mind in a state of Sattva prior to and during the performance, the dancer would need more than just motivational techniques, and this observation did not escape the perceptive Bharata.
So how does a dancer get into the state of mind that has Sattva? The third chapter of the Nāṭyaśāstra is dedicated to explaining, in detail, a series of Pūjās and a Homa that the dancer and musicians should perform. In these instructions, Bharata clearly states that these Pūjās and Homa are the equivalent of performing a Yajña and will help the dancer achieve a calm mental and conscious state necessary for a successful performance. Siddhi or success in a performance, per Abhinavagupta and Bharata, does not mean winning banners (prizes) or material objects, but Siddhi of the performance occurs if the audience witness compelling Bhāvas and experience the different Rasas.
Therefore, these Pūjās and Homa are not robotic superstitious ritualistic acts; they are a science of connecting one’s own consciousness to the Supreme consciousness. They are an offering and a means for the artists to transform and purify their inner-selves to be Sāttvic.
In these pre-performance sacred activities, Bharata details how the Raṅga (stage) must be constructed according precise measurements depending on the type of Nāṭya to be performed. Significantly, the Vedi (altar) of a Yajña must also be constructed in a precise shape with exact measurements depending on the type of Yajña performed. Bharata then specifies how the dancer must sanctify this stage, and even the entire theatre where that audience will be seated, the dancer should then do a Pratiśṭāpana (sacred installation) of the Gods on the stage, and do a Pūjā to each one of these Deities in a certain order and with particular sacred Mantras. The dancer must sprinkle sanctified water on each limb to purify the body and must partake of the Pūjā and Homa with the utmost Śraddha (belief, Bhakti, and diligence) in order to bring his or her mind into a state of Sattva.
These actions along with their subtle effects will give Siddhi (success) by preparing the dancer to be capable of a performance that is rich in Bhāvas and Rasas. These performances are a few hours long and in some classical dances, like Katakaḷi and Yakśagāna, last through the night, so the dancer needs to muster tremendous energy, enthusiasm and concentration. The musicians too must do a Pūjā to their instruments. In effect, the stage and entire theater (where the audience are seated) become a temple, with the consecration of Deities and Pūjās and finally with the performance of the Homa. Bharata instructs that the point of doing the Pūjās and Homa are to offer the performance (dance) itself to the Devatās. This, advises Bharata, will bring Siddhi (success) to the performance.
Among these preliminary activities, the Homa (similar to a Yajña) is of distinct interest and serves a special purpose. Yajñas are ancient Vedic practices that are transformative and have subtle effects on the consciousness of the performer. Homa derives from and is an adaptation of a Yajña, but a Homa is performed in Pūjās to specific Gods. Both feature a specifically constructed altar, sacred fire and sacred materials. Yajña comes from the root word Yaj which means offering, reverence, adoration and bestowing. A Yajña and Homa, are Tyāga (offering) of Dravya (special sacred material) to the Devatās (Gods). They are complex activities that have subtle and powerful effects. Every offering during the Yajña and Homa results in Apūrva Śakti, which is a subtle effect and hidden power of an action (Karma) on the person who is the beneficiary of the offering. Thus, Yajñas and Homas have an effect on the one who performed it in a subtle manner, by affecting the Śaktis (energies, powers) of that person. Every action produces a Śakti which will produce a result. The dancer and musicians are transformed by the Homa; they exhibit Sattva and subtle energies as a result.
It is no coincidence that the Nāṭyaveda (classical dance, drama and music codified in the Nāṭyaśāstra) directly derive from the four primary Vedas contain Vedic ceremonies. Furthermore, Bharata states that performing these Pūjās and Homa is the same as performing a Yajña and the same benefits will be received. Here we see the beautiful connection between the preliminary activities of the performance and the performance itself because the Bharatanāṭyaṃ performance is also a Yajña. The Yajña conducted prior to the performance is a transformative experience for the dancer and musicians, and the Yajña of the dance performance itself is a transformative experience for the audience because they will experience Rasa bliss. Thus, Indian classical dances are themselves an offering, a Yajña conducted by the dancer on a specially built Raṅga (stage) and offered (Tyāga) to the Gods with love, Śraddha and Bhakti. In this case, the Dravya, or sacred material, is the dance which is offered to the Devatās. The ones who enjoy the fruits (Rasa bliss) of the Yajña are the attuned and receptive spectators (called Sahṛidaya).
Some of the above Pūjās are done even to this day. Today’s dancers sanctify the stage and consecrate Mūrtis on the stage and perform a Pūjā offering the performance to the Gods. The Pūjās are offered to Ganapati and Nataraja and Saraswati and Vishnu. The Ārati is done, the sacred dance anklets (Gejje or Śalangai) are worshipped, the musicians also worship their instruments. This is not a mere ritual, but is the time when the dancer, Naṭavanār and musicians come together to conduct the Pūjā with Śraddha and Bhakti and offer the performance to the Gods. Dancers look forward to performing this Pūjā, taking it seriously, performing it with the utmost Śraddha and reverence because it brings them inner Śānti, happiness, and connects them to the Gods. In effect – it makes their mind Sāttvic, which is then reflected in the dance. After the Pūjā, the artists remain in this state of mind, now fully immersed in the art, centered, calm and ready for a rigorous and demanding Bharatanāṭyaṃ performance.
Therefore, Bharatanāṭyaṃ (and other Indian classical dances) are not practiced by merely perfecting techniques and movements, facial expressions or time and rhythm. Traditional practitioners of Bharatanāṭyaṃ know that they require total immersion into the art and its philosophy, must have Bhakti and humility and reverence to dance successfully. A person who may know the technical movements of Bharatanāṭyaṃ but lacks these Sāttvic attributes such as Śraddha and Bhakti is not qualified to do the dance. Śārṅgadeva states that only one who is pure in mind (Sattvic) can be a dancer. The Devadāsis had this intrinsic Śraddha, and they certainly understood Rasas and Bhāvas.Theirs was not a mechanical ritualistic dance devoid of Rasa. The great exponent dancer Bala Saraswati, a Devadāsi, emphasized the importance of Bhakti as an integral requirement for Bharatanāṭyaṃ:
“Bharatanāṭyaṃ is grounded in bhakthi…. In fact bhakthi is at the center of all arts of India. Our music and dance are two offerings to God…This experience may only occur once in a while but when it does for that little duration, its grandeur enters the soul not transiently but with a sense of eternity. As one gets involved in the art, with greater and greater dedication, one can continuously experience throughout the few hours of the dance, the unending joy, this complete well-being, especially when music and dance mingle indistinguishably.” – Bala Saraswati
The ancient dance treatises have noted that a person best fit to dance is one who learns with Śraddha and Bhakti. Many expert Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancers and Nāṭyācāryas have observed that if a student does not have Bhakti, their dance is not genuine and has a mundane quality to it and few, if any, Bhāvas are produced. For example, if the dancer does not have Bhakti for Śri Kṛṣṇa, how can they embody the episode in which Yaśoda saw the entire universe in his mouth, and was overcome with awe and emotion? How will the non-believing dancer produce the Bhāvas that are required to generate the Rasa in the audience?Abhinaya is not a mere enactment, it is an exalted, lofty, glorified reenactment that will produce Bhāvas and the Rasa experience.
If the dancer interjects her personal opinions and portrays characters such as Sītā and Rāma through a non-Dharmic lens, the result will not be Sāttvic but a pale imitation, a counterfeit, and will not have any lasting effect on the onlooker and the Yajña of Bharatanāṭyaṃ will be a failure. The dancer must be in total sympathy with the character’s viewpoint and beliefs to embody that character authentically. This does not imply that these dances are somber and boring. Quite the contrary, Bharata states that a successful performance brings about happiness, entertainment, diversion, and knowledge to the onlooker and should generate all of the Rasas (Śṛṅgāra, Hāsya, Karuna, Vīra, Bhayānaka, Bībhatsa, Raudhra, Adbhuta and Śānta).
Philosophy, Language and Tradition
To do justice to the complex songs and poems that are danced, the dancer should do a serious study of the different philosophies of Hinduism. This understanding needs to be deeper than a superficial knowledge of the main features of Hinduism. Knowing the composer’s philosophical leanings to will help the dancer understand the significance of their compositions. As an example, many are familiar with Vaiṣṇavaism, however, there are different schools of Vaiṣṇavaism and their core philosophies have subtle variations that are significant nonetheless. For instance, the Vaishnavism of Sri Vaishnavism, Gauḍiya Vaiṣṇavaism, and the Brahma Sampradāya of Madhvācārya may seem the same, but in fact, they have significant differences and comprehending these will aid the dancer to authentically embody the compositions of those respective philosophies.
For example, the sacred poems of Ānḍāl follow the Śri Vaiṣṇava school whereas Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Purandara Dāsa reflect the Gauḍiya and Madhva schools of Vaiṣṇavaism respectively. Not fully comprehending these subtle differences will lead to missing the beautiful meanings and themes of the songs and even blatantly misinterpreting them in the dance. Ānḍāl’s Tirupāvai has profound meaning as does Gīta Govindaṃ of Jayadeva; however, the refined nuances in these compositions cannot be missed if the dancer wishes to bring about the right Bhāvas and Rasas. The same is true of Śaivism and Smārtism. How can a dancer embody Nirguṇa Brahman without understanding what this profound concept is and the difference between Nirguṇa and Saguṇa Brahman?
Hand-in-hand with this philosophical comprehension, is the practice of the customs and rituals that embody these philosophies. Hindu philosophy is embodied in Hindu practices and customs; they are not just rituals. Just like the Yajña, they are transformative experiences and have effects on the consciousness of the doer. An academic study or an observation of Hindu rituals or interviews with practitioners is woefully inadequate to understand them. These customs and traditions can be understood by experienced and performing them with Śraddha and Bhakti. Therefore, practitioners of these customs are best suited to portray them, because they are not conscious-less ceremonial activities.
This brings us to a vital requirement to dance Bharatanāṭyaṃ and Indian classical dances. Since, as stated by Bharata and other scholars, the dancer’s mind should be Sāttvic and in total understanding with the characters, philosophies and customs and traditions of Hinduism, knowledge of the language in which the compositions are written is crucial. The traditional practitioners of Bharatanāṭyaṃ, Naṭavanārs and Devadāsis, were fluent in several languages and well-versed in our philosophy and traditions. The classical compositions are complex and difficult to comprehend even for a person fluent in the language in which they were composed. However, trying to understand the meaning of a composition by translations, especially from an Indic language to English (or other non-Indic language) will not be sufficient. Knowing another Indic language is helpful, but a dignified study is required with the aid of an expert in that language. Understanding the colloquialisms of the language and a detailed explanation of the philosophy and narrative is critical.
Even dancers who know the language often must do a diligent and serious study of the composition. English translations fall short in conveying the composer’s viewpoint and themes that are embedded in the cultural mores which the native language naturally communicates. These compositions are lofty and refined, and contain much symbolism which will otherwise be missed. Understanding the song through the Dharmic viewpoint, from the composer’s perspective and the times in which they lived is essential to bring out the Rasa of these works. For instance, the composition ‘Yār Āḍinar, ina yevar Āḍuva?’ in Tamizhtells of the great Cosmic Dance of Nataraja. Another composition “Ānanda Kūtāḍinar” is also about Nataraja and His celestial dance. So, are these compositions essentially the same? Well, a closer study of the above two songs shows they are similar on a topical level but convey different themes and evoke different Bhāvas. Similarly, two famous songs of Purandara Dāsa, Jagadoddhāraṇa and O’ḍi Bāraiyya are about Sri Krishna as the Divine child. A sensitive study of these songs reveals they are dissimilar and portray two distinctly refined themes with powerful meanings. The great composer Tyāgarājais renowned for his beautiful songs devoted to Sri Rāma, but one should not make the mistake in thinking that all these compositions are the same.
Bharatanāṭyaṃ dance, and all Indian classical dance, is a complex rich transformative knowledge system. Bharata has codified the foundations and details of the sacred Indian dances. These codes are purposeful and not optional. They contain a profound philosophical aesthetic that is manifested physically in our ancient dances. The dancer’s mind (Manas) should be transformed into a state of Sattva and remain so during the performance so that the audience experiences the Rasas, which is the ultimate aim of these dances. Bharatanāṭyaṃ and other Indian dances are Yajñas that have a deep lasting impact on the consciousness of the dancer and the Sahṛidaya audience. Understanding these core fundamentals is the foremost prerequisite in the journey to be an accomplished and successful dancer.
About the Author: Prakruti Prativadi is a Bharatanāṭyaṃ dancer and Founder Director of Kalā Saurabhi Dance School in the US; she actively performs in the US and India. She has spent seven years researching the Nāṭyaśāstra and other Sanskrit texts on Indian aesthetics. She has written a book based on her research, Rasas in Bharatanāṭyaṃ, available on amazon.com
Ghosh, M.M. 2006. P. Kumar (Ed.) Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni. (Vols. 1-4). Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation.
Prativadi, Prakruti. 2017. Rasas in Bharatanāṭyaṃ. South Charleston: Createspace.
Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Indic Civilizational Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.
Copyright: Prakruti Prativadi. All rights reserved.
From all of us at ICP: Shubha Vaisakhi! Happy Baisakhi! Baisakhi di lakh lakh badhai! Shubho Nabo Borsho! Pana Sankranthi ra Subheccha! Shubh Jude Sheetal! Happy Bihu!
The other half of the assorted New Year’s of Bharatavarsha fall this well. Though the majority are today. We have two more tomorrow.
Today is most famously the Baisakhi Mela of Punjab, celebrated vivaciously by Sikhs. It is the Harvest Festival, and a time of great happiness.
In Vanga, that is the Bengal region, it is referred to as Pohela Boisakh.
Continuing our tour of the Scripts of Bharatavarshi is the lipi for this festival, Gurmukhi. Used for the Punjabi language, Gurmukhi is also the text for the Guru Granth Sahib. Today is also the day that the Khalsa, the Sikh Brotherhood, was founded byGuru Gobind Singh. The Panj Piare from the five different caste groups were given Amrit today and forged into the Sikh Khalsa. This laid the path to the liberation of the Panjab from oppressive Mughal rule.
This is the other half of the Luni-Solar New Year’s Celebrations in Bharatavarsha. However, you celebrate today, best wishes to all our readers!
India, Indic Civilization, and Bharatiya Sanskriti have produced many noble and spiritual figures. But as those of us who grew up Indian know, it is very much work hard & play hard.
Colonial stereotypes were convenient for those who were trying to change the religion of the people of Bharatavarsha. They failed because those who know our tradition know fun and frolic and yes even Romancehas always been very much part of our traditional culture and festivals (perhaps that is why they are trying to doing everything they can to take away the fun…only for Hindu festivals of course).
Therefore, perhaps it is time to not just play defence and preserve what we have, but to go ahead and revive what was originally part of it. The youth of today very much exercise freedom, and naturally when they become college-age, it is only natural to be more interested in spending time with the opposite gender. Indeed, this too is ok, provided it is done respectably and with good intentions. As we wrote in our article on Sringara, Romance—real romance—is not just a pretext to “consume” or “purchase” love from hallmark or godiva. Love is not merely a “veneer” to give respectability to serial and animal lust. This is the danger of de-sacralisation (removing the sacred), whether it is removing Dharma from Yoga, taking the Veda out of Ayurveda, or turning Vasant into some sufi-bolly “Basant”.
In fact, lost in all of these efforts has been the fact that from ancient times itself we had something our Valentine’s day obsessed youth don’t know—our own Dharmic Festival of Romantic Love: Madan Utsav.
Contrary to Valentine’s lovers who swear by the Catholic St.Valentine as the embodiment of Romance, Ancient India long had a festival that celebrated Shringaar. Vasanta Utsavawas the traditional multi-day Spring Festival. Holi has come to represent two such days (with the burning of Holika during Choti Holi the night before). While Kama is associated with Spring, Madan Utsav begins on Chaitra Shukla Trayodasi, and thus is a month later than Holi. This is due to the discrepancy between the Purnimanta Calendar in most of the North and the Amanta/Amavasyat Calendar in Peninsular India. Thus, the reason why Holi and Madan Utsav (currently a month apart) would have been celebrated as part of the two-week Vasanta Maha Utsav is because of the general use of Amavasyat in all of India at one point. Restoring Amavasyat would restore the continuity of the two week Spring Festival, starting from Holi and ending with Madan Utsav. That is why Madan Utsav was traditionally synonymous with Vasant Utsav (and perhaps should be again).
In fact, it has historical precedence in many parts of the country, but especially Andhra. In fact, one king of the Reddi Dynasty, which presided over the Romantic Age of Andhra, came to embody the spirit of Spring, and also personally inaugurated Madan Utsav. It was a festival of great festivity and cheer.
Madan Utsav is also mentioned by our great poets, Kalidasa and Sriharsa, in their plays. Jayamangala, a commentator on the Kamasutra, in fact gives primacy to this day over the other constituent parts of Vasant Utsav, and mentions the name Madhanamahotsava. [1, 353] This is a festival devoted to Madhana or Kama Deva, god of Love, assisted by his friend and ally Vasant, the presiding deity of the spring.
Madan Utsav celebrates the return of Madan to his wife Rati.
“It was primarily a romantic festival involving fun and frolic, music and dance, song and play, swinging, and swimming and all kinds of amusements.” [1,354] “Both men and women, young and old took part in this festival and marched in procession in streets, singing love songs and dancing to the accompaniment of music. Generally dancing girls and their paramours took an active part in these frolics” [1, 354]
That’s right. Hinduism, or more correctly, Sanatana Dharma, was never only just about ritual, or caste, or boring severity, but very much achieving a balance between fun and duty. Dharmato guide Rasa (sentiment), and Rasato enrich Dharma. Morals, and laws, and virtuous examples don’t exist to restrict the fun of men and women (or boys and girls). They exist to protect individuals from each other and also to protect us from ourselves and from our greed.
Romance and love in the right context (marriage…or at least the path to it) very much makes life worth living and contains the full spectrum (erotic, romantic, & spiritual). But Romance without restraint ends up being, well, the disastrous state of affairs we have now. When no respect or regard is given to sacred relationships between the genders or even between family members—then isn’t what is being called “love”, really lust?
Love is seeking to give pleasure to someone you love. Lust is trying to extract pleasure for yourself. Lust is selfish, Love is selfless.
That is the reason why Madan Utsav is the real Festival of Love for Bharatiyas, rather than some corporate “Global” spend-fest. There was a great carnival and the King (or Civic Leader) would go to a park specially decorated for Vasant. There would be a pandal for Kama & Rati, Vishnu & Lakshmi, Siva & Sakti, and Indra & Sachi. Perfumes such as camphor, musk, civet, saffron, sandal were used, rosewater was freely sprinkled on people along with water mixed with turmeric. A bamboo water soaker was used (like in Holi). People mixed freely and the kings gave it royal grandeur . [1,357]
There is in fact broad evidence to the existence of Madan Utsav beyond Andhra’s Reddi Kingdom, or even the Vijayanagara Empire.
There are accounts for its existence in the Madhyadesa (modern Uttar Pradesh) and Kashmir as well as discussions in the Puranas, about the festival and its origin.
Here is what the ancient Kashmiris celebrated:
Then there was the Madana Trayodashi, a festival dedicated to the god of love. On this occasion a husband would demonstrate his love for his wife by personally giving her a bath with sacred water scented by herbs.[4, 87]
Madana Utsava is frequently referred to as Madana Trayodasi, as it is celebrated on the 13th day of the Shukla Paksha of the Month of Chaitra (Early April). Being celebrated in the bright half of the moon, it can even extend to next day and thus, there is even a Madana Chaturdashi, which is the 14th day of the Month of Chaitra (for all you 14th of February fans).
The record of Madan Utsav in Kashmir’s ancient Nilamata Purana testifies to this as well.
The reason for this lies in the festival’s origin:
Vasant Utsav and Madan Utsav have often been referred collectively. And yet, elsewhere we see a clear distinction between the two festivals with Vasant. Thus, traditionally, Madan Utsav seems to have been synonymous with Vasant. But given the divergences and exigencies of the time, perhaps its more appropriate to distinguish the two, while preserving the importance of both.
Here is the traditional story of the origin of Madan Utsav:
“This festival of Madanamahotsava is described by Hemadri in his Vratakhand, wherein he narrates the following story about its origin. After marrying Gauri, Siva, observing Pasupatavrata, lost himself in meditation. Gauri’s desire for maternity remained unfulfilled.
Brahma and other gods held consultations and sent Madana to disturb Siva’s meditation, with the hope that he alone could divert Siva’s attention. Madana accompanied by Vasanta, went in front of Siva who was then in deep contemplation, and having drawn his sugarcane-bow, discharged his missiles of flowers on Siva which disturbed his deep medi-tation and caused mandonmada or love madness.
Siva burst into a rage and opened his third eye of fire reducing Madana to ashes. Madana’s wife, Rati, seeing her husband burnt to ashes, was stricken with great grief. Then with a heart softened by seeing her pitiable condition, Gauri said to Siva, ‘you have burnt up Kama who had come here for my sake. Pray, take pity on his wife Rati, and bring Madana, her husband, back to life.’ Siva replied, “How could Madana, once burnt to death by me, come to life again?”
“However, I shall grant your request. In the spring season, on the thirteenth day of the light half of the month, he would reassume his bodily form.” Having granted this boon, Siva is said to have gone to Kailaasa. So the lunar thirteenth day of the bright fortnight was the day of Madana coming to life again. Hemadri does not specify the month; but simply states that it is in the spring time. It is evident that it is the lunar thirteenth day of the bright half of the month of Caitra. This spring carnival is therefore called Madanamahotsava or Vasantotsava” [1,355]
This also aligns, of course, with the Spring Festival of Holi, which features the Holika Dahan. This is referred to as Kamuni Dahamu in parts of India, where a bonfire is lit to burn away attachments.
How to celebrate Madan Utsav? While jnu “global” types suggest finding a random partner and running off to the nearest park or motel, Bharatiya sanskriti is more sophisticated. As we saw above, whether in Kashmir or Kosta (Coastal Andhra), Madan Utsav was celebrated by the entire society. Not just Kings and Queens, but traditional Brahmins, fun-loving masses, and everyone in between. The only difference is that achara (good conduct) and sabhyata (etiquette) were observed. In public, one must behave with respect/courtesy (maryada) to elders and senior citizens.
Public celebration of Madan Mahotsav, specifically in the context of Vasant Utsav, is mentioned in both the Malavikaagnimitram and one of Sriharsa‘s famous plays celebrating the famed Manmatha of Madhyadesa, King Udayana—better known as Vatsaraja. Here is an excerpt from Ratnavali on the public celebration and all it entails:
“His Majesty has started for the palace to witness the merriment of the citizens, heightened by the Madana Festival. (Looking up) Ah, how now! The King has ascended the palace! He, The lord of Vatsa, like the flower-bowed god (Madana) in person, as it were, with all talk of Vigraha (the war-body) ceased, having Rati (love of the people—his wife), living in the hearts of the people and one to whom Vasantaka (his companion—Spring), is dear, is advancing, eager to behold this great festival.“[7, 120]
“Just behold the beauty of this great Madana-festival, in which curiosity is excited by the citizens (or gallants), dancing as they are struck by the water from the syringes [pichkaris] taken up, of their own accord, by the amorous women intoxicated with wine; which is attractive on account of the openings of the streets resounding with the sound of charchari songs (or clapping of hands) deepened by the tabors beaten all round, and which has rendered the faces of the ten directions yellowish-red by means of the heaps of patavasa [flowers] scattered about.” [7, 121]
“By heaps of scented powder scattered about, yellow with saffron dust and imparted to the day the appearance of the dawn, by the glitter of gold ornaments and by the wreaths of Ashoka flowers that cause the heads to bend low by their weight, this Kausambi, which has surpassed all the treasures of the Lord of wealth by its opulence apparent from the dresses (of the people), and which seems to have its inhabitants covered with liquid gold as it were, appears all yellow. Moreover, In the courtyard which is flooded all over with the continuous streams of water ejected by the foun-tains and where sport is carried on in the mud caused by the simultaneous and close treadings, the yon pavement is reddened by the people with the imprints (lit.plantings) of their feet, red with the colour of the vermillion” [7, 122]
Kaushambi is in modern Uttar Pradesh. Thus from Kashmir in the Uttarapatha to Kaushambi in the Madhyadesa to the Kosta in Andhra Pradesa, Madan Utsav was celebrated throughout classical Bharatavarsha.
By the way, although this is a legendary love story involving King Udayana and Princess Ratnavali, there is war and adventure, so there’s something in it for the guys and girls.
“The Pujavidhana or the mode of worshipping Madana is also described by Hemadri. It is said that, on the thirteenth tithi of the bright half, a representations of the Asoka tree should be made after taking a bath, and the floor should be decorated with kolams. Images of Kamadeva, Vighnesvara, Siva and Vasanta and Apsarogunas made either of gold or of any other metal or material, should be worshipped with incense, sandal paste, and flowers at midday by the king, along with his ministers, ladies and others. After the completion of worship, offerings of cakes of different kinds should be made to them and betel be distributed among brahmin couples with daksina.” [1,355]
Couples should offer new clothes, gifts, flowers and ornaments to each other. “Those who observe this Madanamahotsava are enjoined to keep holy vigil that night, and perform rasa-mahotsava or love-dance. Lamps should be lit, and wine should be offered to sudras [or rather those who drink], and camphor, kumkuma powder, sandal paste and other perfumes and betel should be distributed.”[1, 355]
Thus while the wife would worship her husband on his return (as the embodiment of Kama Deva), the husband in turn would worship her after her sacred bath, as we saw in Kashmir.
This mutual reverence demonstrated not only respect for both genders but also gives the correct understanding of matrimony and even sex as sacred—in contrast to modern consumer society where it is lust on demand and for the highest bidder. Lust is not Love nor is Lust even Erotic Love or Erotic Desire. Lust is selfish greed for sex. Erotic desire is not condemned (in the right context). Lust is condemned (in any context).
While contemplating material and sensual objects, persons become attached to them. Such attachment develops lust and lust generates anger. Anger leads to delusion and delusion to mental bewilderment. When the mind is bewildered, intelligence and discretion is lost. Loss of intelligence and discretion leads to downfall of the person.” 
Kaameswara – Lord Shiva Conquers Lust 
Kama (pronounced Kaama) is a very interesting word. Like many words in Sanskrit its meaning is context sensitive. In some contexts it means pleasure, in others it means love, and in this situation it means lust (kaama-moha or kaama-unmada). It is because of this danger (which Sri Krishna warns about) that Lord Shiva had to show us the importance of conquering Lust.
The reason why there are so many regulations and rules and such detailed morality regarding sex is because it is the most powerful of aspects in life.This is the case not only for its creative power, but due to its attractive power, its physical power, and even its spiritual power. The key to conquering lust, therefore, is not through celibacy-sans-saadhana, but by correctly connecting sex with love (if you do take the oath of celibacy, you must follow the saadhana that our sadhus do to succeed). Love comes in many forms. When you are capable of real romantic love, however, then the selflessness it demands, opens the door to Divine Love.
That is why the Madan Utsav itself is signified by Lord Shiva destroying Kama. He is referred to as Kaameswara and Maara-ripu because he conquered lust. When lust is conquered, then the full spectrum of love from the erotic to the romantic to the spiritual can be properly enjoyed. It was only after this that Mahadev and Parvati Devi endeavored to create the God Kartikeya.
That is why, unlike Valentine’s Day, Madan Utsav signifies the sanctity of the bond between woman and man, and especially, Wife and Husband. So yes, there is the erotic (rati), yes there is the romantic (sringara), but Madan Utsav is also about the spiritual (adhyatmika), which makes the erotic & romantic healthier and more meaningful . When wife is viewed as sacred, the husband refuses to exploit her (and vice-versa—yes ladies, what’s good for the gander…).
That is why you should celebrate Madan Utsav: the whole society comes together to celebrate Love in happy abandon, and all participate in their own way.Less orthodox castes used to be gifted wine while traditional brahmanas were gifted betel leaf. The day would begin with all of society coming together in respectable but enthusiastic celebration, with the night obviously ending between wife and husband.
In contrast to the consumer-driven, hallmark inspired veneer of romance for lust that is Corporate Valentine’s Day, Classical Indic Society celebrated the full spectrum of love in the proper context. Yes, dancers and actresses and singers, etc had their paramours and inspired people to celebrate, but the engaged (or about to be) and the married were naturally the core of the festival. Young and old, upper caste and lower caste, elite and mass, woman and man, all celebrated what we all know to be part of our nature…but in the right context…in the right way…in the right time.
It has been many centuries since the days of Ancient Kashmir or Medieval Andhra, so how can a beautiful festival be celebrated today? If you are reading this and are unmarried, you can tell people in your college or organise a group of friends your age and go to the park and sing your favourite love songs (they can be from Indian movies or popular music). If you are even more adventurous you can make (safe) flower-head arrows using a children’s bow or slingshot and pretend to be Kamadev, returning. You can distribute the traditional bamboo water soakers from Holi for rose-water or sandalpaste water (saving the colours for that special Festival of Colours).
If you are not single, then you know to exchange gifts, express love and affection, recite Poetry, and of course, dance the Rasa Mahotsav and the dance of love however you see fit.
But most importantly, if you care about our culture and tradition, be sure to tell your friends and family about Madan Utsavand how they can celebrate on Madan Trayodasi (Thirteenth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Chaitra, which is in Early April, see below for this year’s date).
Celebrate Madan Utsav!
April 9th, 2017
§ Spread the word in your College or Social Group. Hand out flyers explaining the day.
§ Greet or Yell “Shubh Madan Utsav!”. Find a public place or reserve one for celebrations.
§ Spray rosewater/sandalwood paste waster with pichkaris or gently throw flowers.
§ Sing your favourite love songs as a group and/or via Shringaar-themed Antakshari
§ Play Romantic instruments like the flute or hire professional musicians
Family Activities: Extended family can celebrate by lighting lamps, singing songs, giving tambula to those in home, colony, apartment or housing development. Of course, those of you who drink wine, will know whom to give it to, whom notto give it to, & whento drink it.
§ Draw Rangavali/Rangoli/Kolam during the Day. Light lamps at night.
§ Have a great feast in your community. Make garlands and swings of flowers. Play music.
§ Give gifts depending on how orthodox you or others are (betel leaves for some, wine for others)
§ Sing, Dance,use a safe (children’s toy bow)/slingshot for soft flowertip arrows or flowers.
Married Couples: Exchange gifts, express affection in preferred manner (see above).
§ At the start of the day, wife welcomes husband as embodiment of Kama Deva
§ During the day is the chance to express love (rather than PDA) either in public celebrations or private, via music, song, poetry, dancing, etc.
§ At end of the day, husband returns favour and gives gifts & shows love for wife (see “Kashmir option” above)
Kama is the embodiment of Romance and his wife Rati is the embodiment of well, rati.
So Happy Festival of Love, in advance. Or as we should say in Bharat…