Tag Archives: Mahabharata

The Mind of Margayya

(source: tribuneindia.com)

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (1906-2001), the creator of Malgudi was one of India’s greatest storytellers and thinkers. Writing under the shortened name R. K. Narayan, a small sample of his works include Swami and Friends, Bachelor of Arts, Guide, and Gods, Demons, and Others. His equally illustrious brother Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Laxman (RK Laxman) brought Malgudi to life with his magical illustrations. The siblings were recipients of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor. The popular 1980s TV series Malgudi Days, directed by the great Kannada artist Shankar Nag was based on the works of RK Narayan, and the 1965 Hindi movie Guide, a favorite of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was based on his book. 

The Financial Expert

RK Narayan’s 1951 work ‘The Financial Expert‘ [1] is universally regarded as a classic, and has been the subject of several excellent reviews from a western literary perspective, by both Indian and western writers. The book was made into a successful Kannada movie ‘Banker Margayya’ starring actor Lokesh in 1983, which went on to win multiple awards.

(source: shareyouressays.com)

Here, we explore some of the themes in this WW2-era Malgudi story using an Indic perspective, and in doing so, are rewarded with insights that would not be obtainable using a purely western lens. In particular, we discover that the timeless lessons in Neeti and Dharma that used to be orally transmitted from generation to generation in India are embedded within the ‘Financial Expert’.

Margayya

In ‘Financial Expert’, RK Narayan brilliantly encodes in simple English the sophisticated nuance and wisdom of Indian Itihasa and Purana, even as he unravels the multiple threads of thought running through Margayya’s mind. Margayya, like many a character in itihasa, undergoes intense penance in order to acquire some special power. His aim is to please Goddess Lakshmi, so that she will bless him with wealth and financial success. The story of Margayya’s journey from 14D Vinayak Street to 10 Market Street and back is rich in the symbolism and subtle suggestion that characterizes Indian art.

Margayya was named Krishna at birth, and his professional name (pronounced ‘Marg-Ayya’) reminds us of Arjuna’s charioteer who showed the way (Marg) of Dharma in the Mahabharata. Margayya employed his financial Ganita prowess to game the system. He presented the peasants within a 100-mile radius of Malgudi a financial roadmap that enabled them to secure a endless sequence of cash loans from the Central Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank (est. 1914). The ‘Cooperative Bank’ part was an oxymoron as it neither co-operated with its poor shareholders, nor performed its banking duties with a sense of seva. Margayya, aged 42, made a living by aggressively filling this gap from his service location under a banyan tree right opposite the co-op, much to their irritation. Imagine a smarter Alan Greenspan in a topi, torn shirt, and brown dhoti.

Margayya wanted to progress beyond this tension-ridden low-end job. A tipping point is reached when the stained-dhoti clad financial jugaad master is humiliated by the rich, boorish bank secretary dressed in European attire, top to bottom. We can see in Margayya’s subsequent reactions, the self-loathing, and frustration, sense of inferiority, and confusion that infested many Indians in the 20th century. A transition of people who were progressively less grounded in the forest civilization [2] traditions of Dharma and harmony that India embraced during its prosperous history; a mindset increasingly attracted to a desert civilization’s zero-sum modes of survival and self-preservation that appeared more pragmatic in a once-flourishing land, but now looted and scorched by the British Raj, abounding only in scarcity.

Margayya’s Rise

Margayya’s natural entrepreneurial drive was in sync with the Vidura Neeti that promoted the virtue of self-employment. His mind constantly tinkered with ideas for startups. He wanted to secure the financial future of his wife Meenakshi, and son, Balu. When Margayya witnessed impoverished townspeople using an unclaimed corpse to extract small-change from passersby for a funeral (and booze), and when he observes people risking life and limb to earn a few paise, he is struck by the power of money. “People did anything for money. Money was men’s greatest need, like air or food…Money alone is important in this world. Everything else will come to us naturally if we have money in our purse.“.  Here, he appears to gain some intuition about Chanakya’s words (dharmasya moolam artha). Indeed, a prosperous and developed nation is best equipped to preserve and propagate Dharma and harmony, else the rule of the desert will reign.  His goal from the day he quarrels with the co-op secretary is to reach the top of the wealth pyramid and through this wealth, acquire everything else. And right there, Margayya parted ways with Vidura and Chanakya and followed his own path and rules.

Like a Yogi, but for all the wrong reasons, Margayya constantly meditated on money and through this manthana emerged all kinds of discoveries. His analysis enabled him to delineate the subtle differences between money, riches, wealth, and fortune. Wealth, in particular, contained elements of transcendence as well as Jugaad.  “Riches any hard-working fool could attain by some watchfulness, while acquiring wealth was an extraordinary specialized job. It came to persons who had on them the grace of the Goddess fully and who could use their wits“.  If Ramanujan‘s amazing ganita results were achieved through the blessings of Lakshmi as Namagiri Amman in his dreams, Margayya’s self-serving schemes too (in his mind) were due to the blessings of Lakshmi. Through the mind of this ‘financial mystic’, we get to see the infinite recursive patterns hidden within ‘interest’.

There was probably no other person in the whole country who had meditated so much on the question of interest. Margayya’s mind was full of it. Night and day he sat and brooded over it. The more he thought of it the more it seemed to him the greatest wonder of creation. It combined in it the mystery of birth and multiplication…Every rupee, Margayya felt, contained in it seed of another rupee and that seed in it another seed and so on and on to infinity. It was something like the firmament, endless stars and within each star an endless firmament and within each one further endless … It bordered on mystic perception. It gave him the feeling of being part of  an infinite existence.

Such was Margayya’s devotion to the process of managing interest rates and accumulating wealth, that he was even able to give up his old addiction to snuff so that he could pursue his ‘yoga’ on all four cylinders which would free him from all worldly wants. A side-effect of this one-track meditation is Margayya’s general cluelessness and disdain for topics unrelated to his money, and therein lie the seeds of his downfall.

Margayya’s Fall

Margayya failed in his Nara dharma [3] and did not understand that dharma is the most important of the Purusharthas [4]. As explained here, Chanakya wrote:

Margayya is never really happy throughout the story. He obtains wealth and power, but is never able to conquer his senses, and always yields to moha, lobha, and krodha, which ultimately combine to ruin him.

Margayya has no use for the Dharma that accords to the elder brother the respected position of a second father [3], being far more interested in grabbing his share of the family property. He is quite sad that the Hindu Samaj prevented a complete takeover of the house and had to make do with a half-share (“he would willingly have seen his brother’s family perish without water by closing it to them, but public opinion prevented the exercise of his right.”).

He has no use for Saraswati and learning, which is dismissed as a derivative product that can be purchased on-demand (“‘A man with whom the Goddess of Wealth favours need not worry much. He can buy all the knowledge he requires.“. The dharmic concept of profitability, Shubh Labh, is rejected in favor of amassing wealth regardless of all consequences to others, to his family, and even to himself.

He has no qualms about misusing kama and rejecting dharma in order to hoard wealth and acquire power.  Moha blinds his eye like a Dhritharashtra to his son’s faults, and in any case, he convinces himself that a single-minded pursuit of Artha is the key that unlocked all the doors in this world for himself and his family. Every minute of his life is invested in this material quest, and it begins to acquire almost a spiritual quality. In short, Margayya’s misunderstanding of the priorities and implications of the Purusharthas leads him astray. Grihasthashrama Dharma takes a back seat. Moral relativism and a materialist clamor for rights overrides duties, replacing Hinduism’s contextual Dharma ethics [2] at every decision making fork in Margayya’s life journey.

Ultimately, Margayya begins to make money by the sackful. The more he made, the more it consumed him, until this activity completely drained him of his capacity to think straight. In a momentary lapse of reason, the coldly calculative Margayya is replaced by an angry, panic-stricken father. He loses control of his senses and strikes out against Dr. Pal, the very instrument that brought him all the wealth, and in one stroke, Dr. Pal ensures that all those earnings are taken away. Without the firm guidance of Dharma, Margayya the path finder himself loses his bearings, and returns to square one, financially bankrupt. There is some recognition in the end by Margayya of what he lost in his obsessive pursuit and why. The readers get a story filled with lessons from Dharma traditions.

The book has several memorable characters, but for brevity, we’ll focus here on Margayya’s friend, Dr. Pal.

Dr. Pal, Social Scientist

First, a brief introduction to Dr. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939). He was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Unlike India, where Kama was always recognized as one of the Purusharthas and celebrated in poetry, song, dance, painting, and sculpture, the Europeans in Dr. Ellis’ time were repressed by the strictures of Victorian morality. Ellis boldly shattered several taboos although he was indifferent to the dharmic/adharmic impact of his work. He appears to have been a proponent of Eugenics and oddly okay with the Nazi sterilization program. Freud appears to have borrowed some ideas from Ellis for his psychoanalytical theories [5].

Dr. Pal is the instrument that befriends, makes, and finally breaks Margayya (It’s unclear how he became “Dr”). He is a journalist and an author and a sociologist who is influenced by Ellis’ work. Like India’s eminent journalists, authors, and social scientists today, Pal too is a scientific expert.

He mashed together Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra and Dr. Ellis’ liberating ideas to create a scientific cocktail and distilled this wisdom into an illustrated book titled ‘Bed Life’. Margayya here represents the mentally colonized and under informed native who is overawed by ‘modern science’ label that claims to enhances and elevates an ancient Indian treatise. Margayya’s Lobha overcomes his instinctive disgust for Dr. Pal’s work and he benefits immensely from the proceeds obtained by publishing this bestseller (renamed ‘Domestic Harmony’ to avoid legal scrutiny and obscenity lawsuits).  Margayya’s growth is seeded by the ill-gotten gain obtained from this salacious ‘digestion’ of Kamasutra.

Long before Wendy Doniger invaded the sacred traditions of dharma [8], propagating Freudian pseudoscience and Hinduphobia, we have the duo of Dr. Havelock Ellis and Dr. Pal. It is remarkable how RK Narayan’s 1951 novel anticipates contemporary India where educated people flock to devour Wendy Doniger’s latest sleazy pulp fiction that tramples upon their own heritage and indigenous knowledge systems [9].

Dr. Pal is the western-influenced free-thinking rebel for whom ‘anything goes’. Later, he brings to Margayya the steady supply of clientele required to sustain the latter’s Ponzi scheme. Dr. Pal is a double-edged weapon that Margayya tries to control. Despite Margayya’s best attempts to keep Dr. Pal away from his family, his corrosive influence begins to consume Margayya’s married son, and drives him to debauchery. At this point, Margayya loses his composure and beats up Dr. Pal who hits back by completely ruining Margayya, thereby completing the karmic cycle.

Lighter Side: Margayya versus Modi

Margayya loved cash, and only cash. “‘What am I to do with property?’ he said. ‘I want only money, not brick and lime or mud,’ he reflected when he reconverted his attached property into cash. Margayya seems happy only when he is counting cash. “…. the moment he reached home, he counted the notes again, bundled them up in tidy little batches, the lovely five-rupee and ten-rupee and the most handsome piece of paper – the green hundred-rupee note” . 

British India One Hundred Rupee Note (source: rbi.org)

Per RBI records, the thousand rupee note was introduced in 1938, withdrawn prior to independence, and reintroduced in 1954 [6]. It is possible there wasn’t a significant percentage of high denomination notes (500/1000) in circulation during a time when these amounts were princely sums. Margayya’s Ponzi scheme attracted so many greedy and shady investors that nearby banks began to lose their deposits. However, no one in his office had any clue about his net worth. Margayya would’ve preferred higher denominations to hundred-rupee notes since he was running out of space for his cash stash at home (“there were currency bundles stacked up a foot high all over the floor.“).  We’ve read in the newspapers how certain Indian co-op banks operate in present times, and why they’ve become a target for tax evasion investigators.  Modi with his demonetization and push for a less-cash society could’ve badly dented both Margayya and the Malgudi co-op.

RK Narayan’s Writing

It is interesting to compare RK Narayan with Shashi Tharoor, another Indian writer whose English novels are popular. RK Narayan’s works are popular all over India for their relatively straightforward rendering and simple English, while Tharoor’s target audience appears to be the westernized elite in and outside India.

It is not surprising that Tharoor chose to focus on, and expressed contempt  for Narayan’s simple English, and was frustrated by RK Narayan’s indifference to a language that colonized Indian minds. Mocking his English as a ‘translation’ is actually a compliment, because when I read RK Narayan, it is like reading a timeless story in my mother tongue about our civilization, people, and way of life. On the other hand, the well-written prose in Tharoor’s ‘Great Indian Novel’ based on the Mahabharata gives it kerb appeal, but cannot mask its alienating lack of authenticity.

A purely intellectual view of itihasa is reductionist and guaranteed to fall short. While Tharoor has spoken eloquently about India’s heritage and its wisdom, he remains confused about the differences between religion and Dharma, and intellectual versus the adhyatmic [2]. An entire generation of mentally colonized Indian writers in the last few decades, armed with excellent English, and indoctrinated in the Euro-centric humanities remains proudly clueless about the sacred art traditions of Bharatvarsha. Even if they wrote in an Indian language, it would still sound foreign. In contrast, RK Narayan as a child imbibed India’s Itihasa and Sanskriti from his grandmother. Perhaps it is this learning that is reflected in his stories.

There is no independent existence for, and artificial demarcation between, the secular/outer world and the sacred/inner realm in the ‘Financial Expert’. This reflects India’s unified view of reality. Preserving this integral approach [10] gives RK Narayan’s simple prose its powerful universal appeal.  Injecting sophisticated western structures would actually interfere with, and diminish this impact. Just as Ananda Coomaraswamy noted in The Dance of Siva [7] that inserting western harmony in order to ‘enhance’ a sangeetam recital would be unnecessary and detrimental. Indeed, this integral perspective indicates that RK Narayan’s writings are part of a long, unbroken artistic tradition that follows the Natya Sastra (itself rooted in the four Vedas).

Bharata’s Natya Sastra [12] is the most influential ancient exposition on dramaturgy, performing arts, and aesthetics in the world [2], which was accessible to all sections of the society without geographical or linguistic restrictions. Rajiv Malhotra notes (emphasis mine) that the Natya Sastra “treats ‘natya’ as the total art form, including representation, poetry, dance, music, make-up and indeed the whole world. It is an organic and integral view encompassing the Vedic rituals, Shaivite dance and music, and the epic tales. The eight traditional rasas (love, humour, heroism, wonder, anger, sorrow, disgust, and fear) mirror the real world and come together in pursuit of the ‘purusharthas’ (human goal).” One can find all traditional rasas within the pages of the ‘Financial Expert’. We will end with RK Narayan’s own words in his 1964 book Gods, Demons and Others [11], where he shares his views regarding literature. He emphatically affirms the integrally unified perspective of Natya Sastra over a synthesizing approach (emphasis mine):

Everything is interrelated. Stories, scriptures, ethics, philosophy, grammar, astrology, astronomy, semantics, mysticism, and moral codes – each forms part and parcel for a total life and is indispensable for the attainment of a four-square understanding of existence

Literature is not a branch of study to be placed in a separate compartment, for the edification only of scholars, but a comprehensive and artistic medium of expression to benefit the literate and the illiterate alike. A true literary composition should appeal in an infinite variety of ways; any set of stanzas of the Ramayana could be set to music and sung, narrated with dialogue and action, and treated as the finest drama, studied analytically for an understanding of the subtleties of language and grammar, or distilled finely to yield esoteric truths“.

References
  1. ‘The Financial Expert’,  R. K. Narayan. (Vintage International), Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, 2012.
  2. ‘Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism’, Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins, 2011.
  3. Nara Dharma‘, N.R.I.Pathi, Indic Civilizational Portal. 2016.
  4. The Purusharthas‘, N.R.I.Pathi, Indic Civilizational Portal. 2016.
  5. Havelock Ellis Wikipedia page
  6. RBI Monetary Museum, rbi.org.in.
  7. ‘Dance of Shiva: Essays by Ananda Coomaraswamy’,  Dover Publications. 1985.
  8. Invading The Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America’, Editors: Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee, Rupa & Co., Delhi. 2007.
  9. Hitchhiker’s Guide to ‘Invading the Sacred’, 2014.
  10. How Sumitranandan Pant Rediscovered Dharma‘, 2013.
  11. ‘Gods, Demons, and Others’,  R. K. Narayan. University Of Chicago Press. 1993.
  12. Classical Indic Literature III: Dramatics‘, N.R.I.Pathi, Indic Civilizational Portal. 2016.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to n.r.i.pathi for the valuable feedback.

Satya then Rta then Dharma

varuna
Varuna, guardian of Rta

One must be very careful when reading directly, without the guidance of an Acharya, the commentaries of Sayana, Vidyaranya, and even the Holy Vedas. This is because Brahmin priests themselves undergo many years of training merely to become competent in one Veda. Mastering all four in one lifetime is another matter altogether.

This caution and humility when reading primary sources is also required because, as we have seen with our historical sources, colonialists and neo-colonialists have been and are still tampering with our texts. Because Acharyas in the Agraharas and Mathas, by and large, are less susceptible to material inducement,  their whole lives are dedicated to the traditional (and correct) meaning of words and schema of Dharma. Just as false parentage has been alleged about the best of Brahmins, Maharishi Vasishta, who per the orthodox tradition is a manasaputra of Brahma, so too have many wrong interpretations been attributed to our great Acharyas of the past, by this gang. The words of Adi Sankara are often taken out of context giving incorrect meaning and interpretation. This is highly detrimental as egotists will then assume they have perfect knowledge and misguide the innocent and illiterate.

We have seen such wrong definitions extend from Dharma, into Rta, and Satya. The time has come to correct, not based on our own readings, but actual Adhyatmika Gurus.

Swami Sanmatrananda wrote on that here [emphasis ours]:

“The word rta has been used in various contexts throughout the corpus of Vedic literature. Two famous examples are: ‘rtam pibantau sukrtasya loke; the two drinkers of rta who have entered into this body’ and ‘rtam vadisyāmi satyam vadisyāmi; I shall call you rta, I shall call you truth’.  In his commentary, Acharya Sankara has interpreted this word thus: ‘rtam satyam-avasyambhāvitvāt karmaphalam; rta is the fruit of actions, it is true because of its inevitability’, and ‘rtam yathāśāstram yathākartavyam buddhau supariniścitam-artham; rta is an idea fully ascertained by the intellect in accordance with the scriptures and in conformity with practice.’

Often we incorrectly use the two words rta and satya synonymously. But satya or Truth is eternal, whereas rta, being the fruit of action, deals with matters that are transient in the ultimate analysis.” [1]

This analysis is correct because it is in consonance with the words of Sri Krishna. The  Gita does not contradict the Veda, but in actuality, gives us the correct interpretation of the Veda.

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

But alas, for some frogs in the well, the words of science, scientists, and scientism (peppered with some slokas of course) apparently is more “credible” than the words above of  the 8th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, let us explain.

These remarks do not deprecate the Holy Veda, and those who practice the karmakanda, but merely ensure humility of those engaged in ritual. Vedic practice and yagna is done to ensure Rta, in which man is permitted to participate in the Cosmic Order. It is for this reason Rta is emphasised in the Chaturveda. Common Brahmins may perform yagna for fruitive action, for themselves and yajamanas, but the great Rishis of old performed yagna for the benefit of all mankind, and indeed, all creation. That is the difference and why the latter are so venerated, and rightly so.

This is evident in the confusion of priority between Rta and Satya. It has become commonplace for some to write that Rta is truth in Thought and Satya is Truth in Speech and Dharma is Truth in Deed. This pithy bromide may seem cute and comfortable, but it is incorrect.

Circles of SatThe core of our tradition was, is, and always will be about Satya.

Krishna instructing Yudhisthira to say “Ashwattama attaha” was not Truth in either action, speech, or thought, but it was meant to defend the Truth, since victory for the Kauravas would mean their cheating and untruth as a lifestyle would be commonplace.Duryodhana and Shakuni were habitual liars who thrived on deception. Therefore, in order to preserve the Absolute Truth, that compulsive Truth-Teller Yudhisthira represented, Krishna had him tell the transactional lie.

“To lay man, both Rta and Satya mean Truth and Law. But according to the Nirukta, they also mean water. Let us look at their distinction.

What happens or befalls us, even if bitter, is Rta (right), because that is the Rta, Cosmic Order (i.e. Truth in Action), as part of karma and belief consequence. It is the truth or cosmic principle/order of karma justice and rain cylce.”

“On the other hand, Satya is principle-based, or what should happen. The Vedas are Satya. They are Rta too, because in accordance with their word alone, the world eventuates and evolves”

“Devas (gods) collectively carry out Rta. Accept whatever bitter and untoward has befallen, as right and actual (Rta), but follow the Vedas (Satya) to set it right. You cannot change the past, but future you can.

Satya (the Vedas) is law or canon; Rta, order or execution of law. Together they form Cosmic Law and Order. “ [3]

That is why Rta is emphasised in the Vedas. Vedas are themselves Satya, the very Breath of Supreme Brahman, the Absolute Truth. Karma-kanda is focused on the fruit of the action.

If Satya is the law and Rta is the execution of the law, what then is Dharma?—upholding of the Law. Rta preserves Satya, but  Satya is superior to it. Dharma upholds Rta, but Rta is superior to it. To switch the order and place Rta above Satya is wrong, in theory, action and intention. Where Dharma is the letter, Rta is the spirit. Where Rta is the letter, Satya is the Spirit. It is the spirit of the law (Justice) that gives law its legitimacy. Law without Justice is Tyranny…as is Rta without Satya.

The Devas carry out Rta, that is why we as manavas (humans) perform yagnas in honour of the devas, so that that Agni, Indra, Surya, Varuna, etc, may carry out the natural order for the benefit of mortal life. In fact, Varuna is considered the guardian of Rta. The Devas in turn worship Mahadeva or Harihara. Indra and the Suras (Devas) represent positions that carry out aspects of the cosmic order. That is why Bali Chakravarti was defeated by Vishnu as Vamana, because despite being a just and honourable king, Bali was attempting to overturn Rta to take over the universe. In reward for his justness and generosity, Bali was blessed to be the next Indra (the current one is Purandara).

Satya is the Law, Rta is the Order which implements the law, Dharma is the Upholding of the law..

It is Satya that is the origin of Rta. And it is Rta which provides an order or a common blueprint for understanding what Dharma requires at a given moment of time.

Lokayatas were materialists, of which there was a prominent atheist strain called Charvakas.  Charvakas, 1.0 or “2.0“, are not qualified to give upanyasas, as spiritual discourses can only be delivered by real Pandits and Adhyatmika Acharyas, not atheists.

They may assert that they are adhikarins by “birth” or “scholarship”, but they are not as they are disqualified by lack of saadhana and sraddha, and are susceptible to incentive and emolument (foreign or domestic). After all, a materialist has no time for tapas. These modern Charvakas emphasise Rta for precisely the same reason—they have no time for Satya, which is the embodiment of Para-Brahman. A “non-traditional” scholar has noticed this and spoken out against the dangers of such navel-gazers.

Shraddhaavaan labhate jnanam

Anyayam is also commonly used for injustice. But the core meaning of nyaya is logic and of tarka, reasoning. Hence, anrttam does not replace asatya  in the schema. That which violates the Cosmic order is naturally untrue. The wise see this connection and do not inject their own meaning. Journalists-Philosopher and Public Poetry Performers are not  Adhyatmika Acharyas for precisely this reason.

“Guessing” about why Rta appears in the Veda is disqualification from teaching such material at all. Only a materialist thinks Rta is more ancient than Satya, for he naturally thinks the Chaturveda are separate from the Upanishads. The Upanishads (jnana-kanda) state the philosophy of the Chaturveda. The Bhagavata Purana emphasises upasana kanda. The absolute Truth is only truly understood in the absolute End. These spiritual children clearly still have a long way to progress.

The transactional truth is naturally beneath Rta. But the Absolute truth is naturally above it, and that is Satyam-param.

Rta itself is divided into the Cosmic order, the Natural order, and the Societal Order.

It is because a clique of casteists desires to impose their convoluted and bigoted conception of Societal order (which ignores gunas), that they attempt to impose Rta as supreme over Satya. After all, if Order is supreme over Truth, if hierarchy is supreme over love, then no matter how sinful they are, they may accrue power. Those who prescribe Rta above Satya do so because they conceive of a rigid and wrong order.  The ancient brahmanas and true acharyas knew better, and also discussed the importance of guna along with birth. Pride can undo the very great, and it was the pride of Parashurama which resulted in his being punished by Rama. It was the pride of Ravana which resulted in his being destroyed by Rama. The same lays in store for this clique.

Image result for rishi rna

That is the importance of Satya (and guna) over Rta. It is not that hierarchy does not matter. In fact, that is the natural order, which extends to societal order. Younger respects older, student respects teacher, praja respects raja, son reveres mother. When a topsy turvy order such as “genetic attraction” is created and advocated, it is anrta.

Cosmic Order, Natural Order, Societal Order

Rta-Satyam

[5, 15]

Rta is  the Cosmic Order, the Natural Order, and the Societal Order. But it is also Spiritual and Moral as it is concerned with notions of justice and harmony.

Rta contributes to the maintenance of balance between the micro and macro levels of existence.” [5]

If the essence of Dharma is righteousness, the essence of Rta is harmony. If the essence of Rta is harmony, the essence of Satya, the essence of Truth is love (prema). But Prema is not Moha.

This universal love in the hands of hippies is the object of (justifiable) derision. After all, love is not naïve, but rather true love is  knowing (in all its forms, whether familial or otherwise). Without knowledge of a person’s true nature, one is mere showing love at someone, rather than actually loving someone. This is no earthy bromide or cloying cliché, but a reality. After all, just as a mother who loves her child scolds it for eating too much candy, so too does love between two individuals require seeking the other person’s good rather than what is merely pleasant. Shreyas over Preyas.

This is the Absolute Truth as understood by all the enlightened Saints. It is why upasana/bhaktikanda is the last portion of the Veda. It is because after discipline through ritual, and after understanding through knowledge, we feel a universal love engendered by a sense of connectivity and communion with the world. The hippy, or the dogmatic, will force a superficial “Christian love”. But real love is not top-down, but bottom up. It’s not something you recite like a parrot or use as a weapon, but something you actually feel.

The intellectually inclined preferring abstraction, naturally scoff at such notions. In their minds, how can Absolute Truth be something so simple, so elementary, and primitive as love. But then, explain why all the Enlightened figures, from whether Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, or Nanak take human birth?

Why did Rama suffer separation from his only wife only to lose her again, but continue to rule Ayodhya? Why did Krishna accept the curses of Gandhari and preside over the end of his lineage and clan? Why did the Buddha continue to minister to men and women despite attaining Nirvana?—or Mahavira, Kaivalya? Or the Sikh Gurus in such a terrible time for Bharatavarsha?

Absolute Brahman is pure thought, and that thought is Love. Desire to not only receive but to Give love.

But it is not for nothing that individuals searching for love reject “perfect matches” based on biodata, asking the universe why they have yet to gain their “one true love”. They too have to be worthy of what they wish to receive. Only after an individual becomes worthy of the love they seek, do they eventually receive it. It is only after mastering Dharma do we understand Rta and realise its origin in Satya.

It is only out of compassion rooted in love for mankind, and the suffering it endures on account of its own sins, that great Souls walk upon this earth suffering undeserved misery and humiliation, so as to show men and women how to live virtuously. The best teachers are not hypocrites who live dissolute  lives in youth or old age (or both). Rather the best teachers, like the best leaders, do so by example. How to accept what is accorded to us, not because it may be what we want at a given time, not even cause its what we deserve, but because it is what is best for all humanity, for all of creation. This is the bittersweet truth of not only Satya, but also Rta. The pain of one individual pales in comparison to the misery of the entire cosmos. This harmony, this Cosmic order, is Rta.

But order cannot exist on its own. Order cannot exist for its own sake. And order itself is not the Absolute Truth, how could it be? Only fools who mutilate already mutilated translations of Sri Adi Sankara or Vidyaranya, think it so. This is why journalists, avadhanis, and glorified translators cannot assert agency and authority to creatively interpret Dharma. Instead, what must be done is to respect the teaching of those qualified to interpret and explain Dharma, and teach in consonance, teach in harmony with what they say. These are our real Adhyatmika Acharyas.

The value of Dharmic instruction is not determined by precision of quotation or diligence and plethora of citation, but on Truth and Clarity. An instructor must teach not for his own amusement or as a matter of jaded occupation, but as a matter of duty. The student has a duty to diligently listen, the teacher has a duty to patiently, correctly, and clearly explain. It is not the realm for “the delicate genius” or self-declared “polymath”.

It is argued that Rta is immutable. True. Rta gives the Laws of Satya. Laws may not change but the applications can and must to preserve harmony. That is the relationship between Rta and Dharma.

Rta is emphasised in the Chatur Veda because the focus of Karma-kanda is Rta. As explained by a practicing Brahmin Pandit , “It gives man a chance to participate in keeping order”. The ritual offerings in yagna  are given to the the presiding deities who maintain the Cosmic order assigned to them by Brahma.

The absolute Truth is referred to as “Satyam Param”. And Satyasya Satyam, the original truth. [6, 10.2.26]

Rta is not just cosmic, societal,and spiritual order, it is also moral order. Rta is the rejection of chao, the rejection of might makes right, the rejection of matsya nyaya.

Rta fundamentally is about transcending calculations of situational individual interest in the name of long term societal & cosmic interest. Rta is about determination to stand up for what’s right, because it is right. It is the moral order not merely because it is divine commandment, but because the spirit of Rta emanates from a desire to do justice and seek the good of all beings and all creation, rather than just a few.

satya-rta-brahma-kshatra
[5,18]
When the moral order is overturned, when wrong itself is not only seen to be right, but audaciously and shamelessly said to be right, then such a society is not only set for destruction, but deserves it. When younger dictates to elder, when child demands obedience from parents, when sishya lords over guru, such a world is in the throes of anrtam.

War is peace

Anrtam is not mere untruth, but rather the rejection of truth. It is the rejection of the sentiment and spirit of doing right so that wrong can be couched in the form of a topsy-turvy upside down immoral order. Such a new and such a world order is eminently disgusting, deceitful, and above all, exploitative. Fools, with relative might, stupidly think their power will last (or seek to maintain it). Shameless dogs and wretches merely respond to the changing fortunes like leaves in the fall wind. Forget the dangers of such a world, what right-thinking, right-minded soul would want to live in it? What deity could preside over it? How could any who would deign to associate himself with it consider himself good? He may point to the letter (of their false codes and laws), but they know they have violated it in spirit.

When men behave like women and women behave like men, and humans behave like beasts, and all three copulate interchangeably, it is anrtam. The state of chaotic and topsy-turvy order. It is not only Dharma which is dying in such a world, Rta itself has now been pierced. Dharma exists to uphold Rta. That is what gives it its meaning. The essence of this moral order is not about caste, it is about right and wrong. Protection vs exploitation.

The same brahmana whose very word was once synonymous with Truth, now barters learning for wealth, power, and women. The same kshatriya who once protected his subjects now seeks to feed on their wealth, their daughters, and their very lives . The same vaisya whose duty was to provide economic service to society now carves up society into commodities for his economic benefit. When younger brother plots to overthrow a just or non-wrong doing elder brother, this is adharma as it violates rta. But when sinful parents assist him in this and say it is “dharma”, that it anrtam, as order itself has been pierced and flipped upside down. When such a younger child then demands the obedience of parents and the thralldom of gurus and declares whatever he does is right, because it is he who is doing it, that is anrtam.

Duryodhana violated Dharma, because he said knew Dharma but did not wish to practice it. Rta  had not yet become topsy-turvy. It was not anrtam, but adharmam. But we live in such a degraded era where modern Duryodhanas enshrine their evil ways as  ‘dharma’. A society can limp along with the destruction of Dharma and stand perilously close to the cliff. But it does not fall over the cliff until Rta itself is pierced. It was when all the elders from Bhishma and Dhritarashtra to Drona and Kripa themselves asserted Duryodhana had a right, that Rta was threatened. They forgot to ask if what Duryodhana did was right. That is anrtam. A topsy-turvy order where the right of a Duryodhana came before the duty of Dignity of a Woman was created by these so-called wise men and “Acharyas”. Fake and Fool-Acharyas were there in the Dvapara and are here in the Kali. And when Satya is extracted and subordinated to Rta, then the Kali Yuga is truly deep. Rta that exists for its own sake is not Rta. Rta exists as an expression of Satya, because of that single thought. That single cit, that is Prema.

The desire not to harm simply because another being  is deserving of dignity. That is Satya. It is because of Satya that Drona, Karna, and Duryodhana could all be killed in a manner that violated a specific (visesha) Dharma of battle, in order to preserve the Great Saamaanya Dharma. But what is Saamaanya Dharma? It is a desire not just for self-interest, or simple a desire for non-chaos, but a harmony imbued with the spirit of love for all creatures and the dignity each is entitled to. A place for everyone and everyone in their place. This harmony is Rta. The problem is, some poets styling themselves as Pandits don’t know their place, and should be put back in it.

“A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a learned fool the taste of wisdom.”

It is because of the Satya-Prema not just for Draupadi, but for all women, royal or common, Brahmin or Chandala, that Dushasana had to be so severely punished. How dare a man violate the dignity of all women by disrobing one in public?! It was not merely adharma, or mere anrta, but asatya. It was asatya to say that a married woman staked in a foolish wager could be disrobed in public because she had been made a dasi. No man still has the right to do that to a woman, whatever a her status, whatever his status.

And that is the problem today. What is wrong is itself being called ‘Dharma” and passed off as such. Anrtam is not merely chaos as mere order is not Rta but Krama. Anrtam is the presiding of a chaotically topsy turvy order. One that asserts that what is true is false and what is false is true: “Draupadi could be wagered”. That is anrta, and above all, that is asatya, and why Satya is the most ancient of all the concepts and realities, and the origin of Rta and Dharma.  Satya is not merely the transactional Truth. It is the absolute Truth as well: Satyam-Param and  Satyasya Satyam.

tasya haitasya puruṣasya rūpam yathā māhārajanaṁ vāsaḥ, yathā pāṇḍv-āvikam, yathendragopaḥ, yathāgnyarciḥ, yathā puṇḍarīkam, yathā sakṛd-vidyuttam; sakṛd-vidyutteva ha vā asya śrīr bhavati, ya evaṁ veda. athāta ādeśaḥ na iti na iti, na hy etasmād iti, na ity anyat param asti; atha nāma-dheyaṁ satyasya satyam iti. prāṇā vai satyam, teṣām eṣa satyam.[2]

Tasya haitasya puruṣasya rūpam: This Puruṣha within us manifests himself in the subtle body…

…What is its name? It is the Truth of truth, Reality of reality, Being of being. It is the Soul of soul; it is the Self transcendent to the self. Prāṇā vai satyam, teṣām eṣa satyam: The individual self, of course, is real; anything connected with the individual self also is real. But, this is more real than the individual selves, more real than the mind and the understanding and the Prāṇas and the senses. It is the ultimate Reality; it is the Supreme Being

vishwarupam

References:

  1. http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Valmiki_Rama
  2. http://www.swami-krishnananda.org,mundaka 3-1, brihadaranyaka 2-3
  3. http://www.holyvedas.info/rta-and-satya.html
  4. Bhagavad Gita. http://asitis.com/2/42-43.html
  5. http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/rta-cosmic-order-IDD686/
  6. Srimad Bhagavatam. http://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/10/2/26

On Dharma II: Rta vs Rna 2

Karna-choice

Readers may recall our Post last year on Rta vs Rna. In it, we explained why Rna is necessarily subordinate to Dharma, and that the proper schema was in fact Satya then Rta then Dharma.

However, because we live in an era where knowledge itself is no longer seen as sacred but as a means of emolument, there are some fraudacharyas who are imputing wrong meaning into traditional definitions…partially out of their ignorance, but partially out of malevolence. Because their attempts to force Rna as somehow central to the Dharmic schema have been exposed, and realising they have left something out, they have tried to circumvent by saying everything is Sat. Everything is Sat, and Satya does express Rta. But Rta itself is the motivation for Dharma, not Rna. Rna is not the core of Sanatana Dharma: Satya, Rta, and Dharma are. Rna uber alles is the foundation for slavery—precisely what videshi slaves want.

This is because they have sold themselves out, they are privately paying off their own personal Rna by selling off Satya. Rna is below Dharma. Here is the correct schema:

Satya→Rta→Dharma→Rna

It is important to not only understand the distinctions between the four, but also their order of derivation. rnas

These Rnas come in many forms: Daiva-Rna, Rishi-Rna, Pitr-rna.  Those are the traditional tri-rnas, the Vedic rnas that all must pay to the Devas, to the Rishis & Gurus, and to our Ancestors. After paying them, moksha is then possible. These are traditionally paid by yagna, by vedic study, and by progeny. [2, 416] But there are also other rnas. Matr-rna, Mitr-rna, and the most dominating one, Desa-rna. One is a rni (debtor) to his Mathru-bhoomi too. So how to determine which comes first? After all, is not Daiva above Desa? Is not Mathru above Mitra? Is not spiritual debt above monetary debt?

It is precisely because material rna can be easily conflated with spirtual rna, that we must repay Rna through the guidance of Dharma. It is precisely that Dharma is the guide for Rna and not the other way around that definitions matter. And it is precisely because some murkhs prize material heaven above moksha that they continually ignore Desa-rna and Desa-Dharma, to the detriment of their countrymen, whom they betray. This is what happens to those who prize knowledge above wisdom…they end up neither breathing nor living & drag everyone else down with them.

hayagriva
Bhagavan Hayagreeva

Saying that Rna creates Dharma is like saying Vedas came from Man. Real Brahmanas know this to be otherwise. Just as the Vedas are Apaurusheya and were given to man from by God, so to does Dharma determine Rna, and specifically, which Rna should be paid when, or even be paid at all. Those in thrall to foreign funders naturally celebrate Rna—for they have assumed a lifetime and multi-life debt.

It is for this reason our Civilization is one of Truth not Debt (like some debt-driven societies). It is for this reason India’s national motto is Satyameva Jayate not Rnameva Jayate. It is Satya-Harischandra who is lauded not Mitr-rni Karna. It is love of Satya that constructs the order Rta and recognising the need for its preservation that creates Dharma. A society motivated by Rna is one first collapsed into chaos then caught in slavery.

The people who advocate Rna being the driver of Dharma are those who sold their souls and wish for you to the do the same.

Rna is used to buy the souls of Men, as Duryodhana bought Karna’s with Anga

He may be called “Daanveer Karan”, but his Daana, his Generosity, his liberality were all misplaced. Generosity to sinners is not generosity, it is signing one’s own death warrant, which is what Karna did when he gave everything, even his life, to pay off his debt to Duryodhana. His noble sentiment in sacrificing everything for the one person who stood by him is a noble one, but also a selfish one. Noble sentiments too can be selfish and misguided. Bhishma’s noble sentiment in taking his pratignya (oath) is the classic case.

We may all praise Bhishma for accepting the terrible oath of celibacy, despite being a royal prince, but he nevertheless violated Dharma and Rta by denying Hastinapura of a great king like himself. See how it suffered instability and uncertainty from the days of Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya on. This is the price of Rna and Moha. Desire to chase fame through sacrifice or to surrender to sentiment is also selfish. Noble, but misguided and harmful to society. To pay his personal debt, Karna was prepared to preside over Draupadi’s Vastraharan (attempted disrobing) and the unjust killing of Abhimanyu. What right does he (and those like him) have to lecture on Dharma?

Yudhisthira, on the other hand, was the opposite. He followed Truth to an extreme in the desire to be Satya-harishchandra, that he failed to prioritise his Dharma to his wife. It was a selfless mistake (he gained only shame and reprobation from this episode, not fame like Karna on the Kurukshetra), but a stupid mistake. He forgot that Harishchandra was in the beginning of the Treta Yuga (almost the Satya Yuga), while Yudhisthira was in the Dvapara (and that too, the very end). As the Yugas pass, people become more corrupt and sinful, and Dharma can no longer be so pristine, let alone naive. Yudhisthira was a king, and could not afford the luxury of being naive. When kings and politicians are naive, their prajas suffer.

When Satya-harishchandra honoured his promise to pay off his rna, his wife’s honour was not violated, but see what happened when Yudhisthira did the same thing. This is why the Panchatantra and Niti becomes important. In the present time, one must use viveka (distinguishment) to distinguish between right and wrong, wise and foolish, real and fake. Remember, a true Guru will never seek to confuse or confound, exploit or enslave, but will only seek to set you free, first from the torment of the senses, then from all Rnas.

The price of Rna

Science has no authority over our Vedic Tradition. Only our trained Bharatiya Acharyas do. Those who are rooted in the land for millennia, understand its traditions the best.

Above all, remember, it was Sri Krishna himself who tried to educate Karna that Rna is used to buy the souls of men. It is fine to fulfill Rna for fruitive rewards, but only if it is not in conflict with Dharma, Rta, and Satya. This is the eternal way.

Bhagavad Gita 2:42-43

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

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

There are of course some fashionable modernistas with superficial knowledge who use this to then say there is no point to ritual. But this is also false. Between Hippies without Obligations and material Ritualists without Compassion, is the happy middle of responsible and Dharmic living. Ritual gives us structure to life, but philosophical knowledge (jnana) and worship (bhakti) give us meaning in life.  Ritual does have its place, as does the karma-kanda to those eligible for it. As the saying goes, “the same key that takes you to heaven can take you to hell“. Ravana used it to go to hell. Our Rishis like Vishvamitra used it to, forget going to heaven, but actually created an alternate material heaven for Trisanku. Such is the power of the Veda. But the wisest use the Veda to attain liberation (moksha) from the bondage of rebirth. They recognise it is possible through the structure of the Purushartha to neither lead a depressing and dour life without the rang (colour) of kama (pleasure) nor the life of the irresponsible hedonist, concerned only for his or her own pleasure. The Puranas give us many stories of those who live a happy, content, but responsible life and attain moksha in the process. The Satyanarayana Vratha also facilitates this process for those not eligible to do Vedic yagna.

Those who study the Veda have to take utmost precaution, not only when chanting mantras, but also in understanding the purpose for which they perform ritual. That is why the traditional Brahmana was traditionally respected…it is a very difficult, disciplined life to lead.

The ancient Rishis of yore would perform yagna for the benefit of all mankind. Further, the stringent life of traditional brahmanas as prescribed in the Dharmasastra, ensures a level of discipline that helps individuals transcend the cravings of the senses so that they may become fit for philosophical knowledge. Thus, Lord Krishna is not diminishing the importance of the Vedas, he is only putting them into the correct context. The Vedas are ever in consonance with Dharma. For those who pursue a certain way of life, Vedic ritual is eminently good—Krishna is only advising them to use their knowledge responsibly.

In any event, having contextualised the Rnas stipulated in the Vedic tradition, it is important to understand the need to live a life of balance. Because the Kali Yuga is such a terrible time, full of pleasurable but sinful distractions and many fraudacharyas (there are still some real Acharyas though, so find one), mere japa (chanting of God’s name) is sufficient for the average person. Rather than fighting the impulses causing sense-craving, the Saints say channel those impulses into good and productive efforts. Don’t fight the energy with a dam, but like an irrigation work, channel it to Artha, Moksha, and Kama in the right proportions through Dharma. Do your work during the day, complete your rituals/prayers in the evening, enjoy pleasure in the night. This is the traditional division for the parts of the day. In this way it is possible to do your Dharma to society, fulfill your rna to your obligators, and enjoy the pleasure of life. The happiest life is the balanced life.

The Purusharthas stipulate a life of balance. Artha, Kama, and Moksha are all important, but it is Dharma that guides all three. One cannot point to pitr-rna or daiva-rna or rishi-rna or mitr-rna to explain why their treachery is justified, as they wish to attain svarga (material heaven of pleasures) or moksha (ultimate liberation). Betrayal of one’s country is not justified. Vibhishana made every effort to bring Ravana to the right path, despite being Ravana’s rni. It was only to save Lanka from annihilation, and only because Sri Rama was the incarnation of Dharma, that Vibhishana went over to the other side. Thus, he is the exception and not the rule.

Therefore, rather than mocking the Veda (which one can only understand through proper Adhyapana, meaning “instruction”), respect those who have chosen the arduous path, and do your own duty. If you are upset at mean-spirited or hypocritical priests, find some sincere priests—there are actually many suffering from dire poverty and absence of benefactors. You may not feel Rna to those leading a traditional life, but give support out of a sense of Dharma to society, and its vulnerable sections. Even if you are agnostic, and don’t believe in ritual knowledge, at least give support to those who preserve our tradition and protect it from materialist foreigners misrepresenting our culture & history.

Here was one such traditional Pandit who deserves our respect for preserving our historical memory. We are all rnis to him.

DharmaMandir

Despite this Rna, preservation of Dharma knows only Rta, which must be preserved as it is the expression of Satya. By upholding Rta, all are benefited. By obsessing over Rna, only 1 or a few are benefited. Pandit Chelam may have had rnas to his foreign instructors of English and other subjects, but it was through his prioritisation of Dharma, Rta, and ultimately Satya, that he published 24 books documenting our true history. That is why Satya is the highest, most absolute concept. Dharma may bend the transactional everyday truth (“Ashwattama attaha”) to preserve this absolute Truth. But it is Satya which is absolute.

The order of hierarchy is Satya, Rta, Dharma, then Rna. Because if people don’t know which Rna to pay when, they end up like Karna…who chose his Rna to Duryodhana. Pitr-rna, Deva-rna are all to be paid when the common Dharma isn’t violated. A world of competing Rnas leads to chaos, in which each individual focuses on his (perceived rna) rather than than Saamaanya Dharma. That is why Rna is a secondary priority. Dharma is the first.

Opponents may argue that by prioritising Rna as the roots, the tree of Dharma will flourish. But the rebuttal is “yes, one tree will flourish, to the detriment of others“. The tree of Dharma in this case is the tree of Sva-Dharma (the personal Dharma). If you greedily prioritise your own Rnas, your own roots, other will not have water to be able to pay off theirs, and the other trees and plants die. A Dharma-driven society ensures the whole community flourishes. A Rna-driven society, is a selfish society, and is not “sustainable”.

Dharma is the righteous upholding of the Cosmic Order Rta which is expressed by the Absolute Truth Satya. Rna only ever comes after.

References:

  1. Bhagavad Gita. http://asitis.com/2/42-43.html
  2. Kane, P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.3.P.2. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1973.
  3. Suresvaracarya, Shoun Hino & K.P. Jog. Sureśvara’s Vārtika on Saptānna Brāhmaṇa.Delhi: MLBD.1995.p.94

Shubha Krishna Janmashtami (2016)

krishnashtami2016From all of us at ICP, Happy Sri Krishna Janmashtami! Shubha Janmashtami! Janmashtami shubhkamnaye!

For those of us who know he was no mere myth, but left this Earth in 3102 BCE, this day is especially sacred, as a reminder of the validity of the Mahabharata’s message.

sri_krishna_janmashtami146-309x250

Struggles against Adharma are there now more than ever. Even our traditions stemming from Krishna’s life are not being spared. What do the people do?

Dahi_Handi

It is why the time has come for people to not just sing “Hare Krishna”, but to take a page out of the Karma yogi’s book and do their karma. Between aggressive and passive is assertive. Learn from Sri Krishna and understand how to work together to effectively and legally preserve your interests, traditions, culture, and above all, preserve Dharma.

And remember, whatever the odds against you, Yatho Krishna tatho Dharma. Yatho Dharma, tatho Jayaha! Jai Shri Krishna!

 

tkrishna2

The Real Sheet Anchor of Indian History

File:Mahabharata BharatVarsh.jpg

From the mists of legend to the waters of memory called history, it is a long process, and to some, may indeed appear to be a long leap. But let it be stated upfront that history is indeed history. Just as Science requires reproducibility and verifiability, so too does history require evidence and documented proof, and above all adherence to the truth.

ChelamHistoricalDeterminePandit Kota Venkatachalam [2, 11]

As we have demonstrated through this Series of Posts…

  1. An appeal to Young Indologists
  2. Aryan Invasion Theory Violates Vedic Tradition
  3. Who were the Yavanas?
  4. Personalities: Sagara
  5. Vedic Cosmology—The Dharmic View of Time

…Indian history has been subjected to much intellectual violence, and the case of evidence such as the Kumbhalgarh inscription, outright physical violence. Selective interpretation, foreign racial glorification, colonial expedience, document fabrication, and evidence forgery have been the tools of the trade of history’s most dishonest cabal of “historians”.

The most skilled propagandists are not those who claim obvious falsehoods, but rather, state selective and half truths. What is credible and plausible is often the most incorrigible…of falsehoods. Unlike the True Brahmanas of yore who preserved and passed on our Tradition and History, these Racist-Imperialists have no religious injunction to speak the truth (or to feel shame…). Indeed, contrary to their self-apotheosis and perennial self-lionising, the British were able to take control of India not through some Gandhian described physical or martial superiority, or even technological marvelry, but rather, through deception.

As the Oxford Military History of the World would credit, it was British mastery of subcontinental politics (a.k.a. deception and back-stabbing) that ensured their control of 200 hundred million souls. It is also an abject lesson of what happens when you only consider “Rajniti” rather than Niti and Dharma. This parampara of foreign ‘intellectuals’ committed intellectual violence against our texts, tradition, and history. Their tradition continues today in its “post-modern” incarnation, wherein even the Ramayana date from the Colonial era has been brought down from BCE to CE, all by the supposedly secular poco-pomo gang. Even Chanakya-Kautilya has not been spared, and is now being denied, not on the basis of new evidence, but on the basis of new “interpretations” of evidence and ostensible tampering of evidence. Enough benefits of the doubt.

This is why Indian history, Indian culture, and Indian civilization must be logically and truthfully re-constructed from Indians, by Indians, and for Indians…real Indians rooted in the land and its tradition and culture. Others tamper with it in the name of expedience (previously British Empire, now Breaking India), real Indians tell it in the name of the truth. Therefore, if the colonial history we have been taught is not simply in need of correction, but root-and-branch re-construction, it becomes imperative to start at the beginning.

Students of history would already be familiar with that much bally-hooed “Sheet-anchor of History” (as so named by Max Muller and concocted by William Jones, et al) based Alexander’s Invasion of India in 326 B.C., and Chandra-gupta Maurya’s coronation at Pataliputra in 321 B.C.E. However, as seen, and as soon will be seen, Pandit Kota Venkatachalam, through painstaking and disciplined historical research—rather than the navel-gazing our gyaanis are notorious for—demonstrated why the former was an unimportant event and the latter, an utter falsehood.  If the wrong Chandra-Gupta were purposefully identified as the ruler of Magadha in 321 B.C.E (It was actually Chandra Gupta I), then what in fact is our true benchmark for asserting verifiable and recorded “history” from mere legend?

TrueAnchorSheetpng
[1, 183]
The Real Sheet Anchor of Indian History is the Mahabharata War of 3138 B.C.E. This is based not just upon astronomical calculation, but also hard historical evidence, via archaeologically-relevant inscriptions, documented chronologies, recorded Royal Lineages, and a Tradition of referencing dates beginning with the Kali Yuga (3102 B.C.E ) present even in the Rajatarangini, which is accepted by all parties (colonial, sepoy, or otherwise) as real history. This is no mere “hindutva history” hypothesis, but a legitimate and logical assertion conducted by Sri Kota Venkatachalam, who was uniquely qualified in having both a traditional and a Western Education. Unlike the fake “acharyas” in our midst today, he was an actual Acharya, as well, with the competence to understand our Vedic tradition and Puranic History, while providing responses to Western standards for documented proof, evidence, and “rationality”.

Furthermore, acceptance and assertion of this position as genuine History, is supported by our own independent study of history over decades. Many of the charges and allegations originally made by Pandit Chelam, were independently observed by us in a number of different topics under Indian history, routinely and repeatedly. Only, we do not claim the authority of an Acharya, which Pandit Chelam is most deserving of and eminently qualified as. The sole purpose of this point is to note that 3138 B.C.E was not cavalierly arrived at, nor do we treat Pandit Chelam’s word as the “gospel” (pardon the expression). The Itihaas of the Mahabharata is not merely the legend from an epic, but the Chronologically concrete Historical Past of the Indian Subcontinent & the true Sheet anchor of its History.

PKVCthePIIC

It was Sri Venkatachalam’s own exemplification of historical methodology, logical investigation, scholarly subject-matter-expertise, but above all, scrupulous adherence to the Truth throughout his publications on History, that established the credibility of this dating. It was only after properly surveying his original reference sources that we have put our weight behind this, and recognise not only the possibility or plausibility, but also the near-certainty that this is in fact the correct Sheet Anchor for Indian History.  Those who wish to contest this claim on whatever grounds, are advised to refer to not only our previous articles listed above, which establish the credibility of this historical foundation, but Pandit Chelam’s own large selection of works in English.

The next natural objection, of course, is whether Mahabharata Epic, which features not only weaponry beyond scientific verification (Divine missiles called astras), but also the supernatural or paranormal (Divine Beings, Incarnations of God, and even Demons) could be treated as History? The answer, of course, is that if both Homer and Herodotus (“Father of History” for Europeans), who both feature the Sun God and other divine beings (even a Cyclops), as part of their works can be considered “Sources of Authentic History”, then there is no reason the Mahabharata cannot be. Vyasa’s Epic may feature “mythological” aspects that are not believable in our own time, but if Homer and Herodotus’ Divine involvement in historical events can be explained away as “allegory/metaphor ” or “poetic license”, then there is no reason this same standard cannot be applied to the Mahabharata. Let these non-scientifically verifiable aspects be treated as allegory or atisayokti by our atheist friends, but let the basic sequence of events be treated as History: Dynasty, Succession Crisis, Subcontinetal War, Coronation.

And as for the age of many of the characters (between 120-200 years), well if Methusaleh (Grandsire of Noah) at ( 969 years) could have been accepted by William Jones’ and his Christian Chronology, which serves as the basis for the present “Post-Modern” Chronology, can be glossed over, then so can this.

WillyJChronos

When a real history by a real historian such as Kalhana can accept the historicity of the Kurukshetra War, than there is no reason we lesser mortals cannot.

ChronosConclusionThe Time has come to reclaim our True History of Bharatavarsha. Let there be no more confusion!

Here is what Bharata Charitra Bhaskara, Pandit Sri Kota Venkatachalam wrote on the matter [Emphasis and Proofing ours].

KRVChronosPandit Kota Venkatachalam [3, 39]

The following Post was originally published at True Indian History on June 26, 2009


The following Post was originally published at True Indian History on June 27, 2009


The following Post was originally published at True Indian History on June 28, 2009



battlefield-of-kurukshetra

The following Post was originally published at True Indian History on August 16, 2009


Gift Deed of Janamejaya — An Early Inscription of Kali Era

According to the Mahabharata (2nd Aswasa of Adiparva) Parikshit ruled for 60 years from the first year of the Kali (3101 B. C.) Era and died stricken by the curse of a Rishi(3041 B. C), when the coronation of Janamejaya his son, took place in Kali 61,(3041 B. C.).
An inscription (plate) of a gift deed by Emperor Janemejaya. (Indian Antiquary P. P. 333-334) runs thus:-This is the first inscription known which used the Jayabhyudaya Yudhistira Saka, which had its origin in Kali first year; (Both the Eras started in the same cycle year Pramadhi. This gift deed refers to a gift of land for the worship of Sri Sita and Rama on the bank of the Thungabhadra River, by Janamejaya (son of Parikshit) in the 89th year of Jayabhyudaya Yudhistira Saka i. e. Kali 89 i. e. B. C. 3012. The year Plavanga mentioned in the inscription tallies with the 89th year of Kali. Kali Era starts in the year 3102 B. C., the 20th Feb. at 2-27’-30″ hours. i.e. in the cycle year of Pramadhi the 1st day of the bright half of the month of Chaitram at 2-27-30 hours. Similar gift by the same Emperor Janamejaya was made on the same day to Sri Goswamy Anandalinga Jangama of Ushamutt through his disciple Jnanalinga Jangama for the worship of God Kedaranath in Kedara Kshetra situated in north Himalaya. The Inscription (plate) of the above gift which is preserved in the mutt even to this day runs thus:
……and so on.

In those times sacrifices were much in vogue and the Aswamedha and Sarpayaga performed by Janamejaya have become famous. Satanika, the eldest of the five sons of Janamejaya succeeded him to the throne. In his time in Naimisaranya the Satrayaga was performed by Saunaka and other Rishis, which is supposed to take one thousand years. The kings of this dynasty ruled till Kali 1468 (or 1634 B.C.), and in their time the Vedic religion was patronised and protected. In the several Yagnas performed in those days many animals were sacrificed and the common men were disgusted with the sacrifices of animals. Then in Kali 1215 or 1887 B.C. Buddha was born, to Suddhodana, the 23rd king of the Ikshvaku Royal dynasty of Kosala and preached a new religion in opposition to and in disregard of the Vedas.


There is no prominent event in the history of the Ikshvaku Royal dynasty except for the birth of Buddha in 1887 B.C. In Kali 1468(B.C. 1634) Kshemaka, the last Emperor of the royal dynasty of Hastinapura and Sumitra, the last king of the royal Ikshvaku dynasty of Kosala Kingdom both died childless. So the king of Magadha became Emperor and founder of the Imperial dynasty of Magadha.(Capital of Magadha was ‘Girivraja’)

The following Post was originally published at True Indian History on July 1, 2009


Pandit Kota Venkata Chelam wrote:

As researches progress this date (1887-1807 B. C.) of Buddha is bound to be accepted by scholars, if the scholars have not so far arrived at this date, it was because there was a common notion among them that the last word on the subject had been already said. If they had realised that the question was open for further investigation atleast some of them would certainly pursue enquiry in this direction and arrived at the date fixed by me.

It is highly refreshing to note that there is at least one scholar who could not superstitiously believe the existing theory about Buddha’s date, but thought it worthwhile to investigate into the question with an open mind. I refer to Sri V. Thiruvenkatachariyar M.A., L.T., (Formerly Head of Department of Mathematics, Govt. Arts College., Rajahmundry.) who arrived at the same date as myself (1807 B. C.) as the year of Buddha’s death and has fixed the actual day of the week and the month also. (Tuesday, Vaishakha Purnima).

His way of approach to the subject was astronomical. The fact that the same date 1807 B. C. was arrived at by two different ways of approach may induce the scholars to pause and try to revise the existing fictitious date of Buddha Nirvana. (483 B. C.). Having arrived at the same date independently we had occasion to compare notes at a stage when the present volume(1) was completely printed and was awaiting binding. I thought it worthwhile to incorporate the learned professor’s thesis in this volume. He has kindly permitted this and has sent a typed copy of his thesis, (on 18-1-55) which is herein incorporated. I am thankful to the professor for thus helping the cause of the true historical research which both of us have at heart.

(1) Age of Buddha,Milinda & Amtiyoka and Yuga-Purana by Pandit Kota Venkata Chelam (1956)


WillJsMisrepPandit Kota Venkatachalam [3, 29]

All this makes Rajiv Malhotra’s Battle for Sanskrit so relevant for our times. For if foreigners claim a monopoly not only on interpretation of our traditional texts (we have seen how self-serving and expedient they have been with shifting dates to serve changing needs), but on even training future scholars of Sanskrit in foreign universities, who will be left who understands the real value of our text and tradition?

Apropos for the times, a Sanskritist almost a century ago made the same complaint about foreign malfeasance with our texts for the purpose of their political expedience.

SanskritistonChelamJatavallabula Purushottam. Sanskrit Lecturer S.R.R., and C.V.R College Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) [3, xvii]

Many of you may ask “Have they no shame?”, but the question is, don’t we? The same social media whiners who carp and cavil about kings of yore failing to do the right thing, are now doing the same. Some have sold out, others are too scared, but some are simply spoiled, rotten brats who have no integrity to do the right thing and come together for a common cause. Unjustifiably arrogant, they, as Pandit Chelam complained of Rai Bahadurs past, simply hold on to the history they have been taught because it is comfortable and convenient for them. They are no different than the petty princelings who complained to Yashwant Holkar about what could have been…He replied contemptuously noting there was no point day-dreaming now. If only they had done their duty, their little part, when they had the chance…

It is not enough to merely claim the mantle of “Science and Reason”, but to actually test these “scientific” claims against empirical analysis and logic. The history we have been taught is wrong. Time to set it right. Not in the name of ego. Not in the name of self-glorification. But in the name of the truth…the real Truth.

Satyameva Jayate

Emblem_of_India.svg


References:

  1. True Indian History. [Various Blog Bosts]
  2. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaji (Pandit). The Mahabharata War. Vijayawada: Tirumala.1988 (posthumously)
  3. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaji (Pandit). The Plot in Indian Chronology.Vijayawada: Arya Vijnana. 1953
  4. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaji (Pandit). Chronology of Ancient Hindu History Part I. Vijayawada:AVG
  5. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaji (Pandit). The Age of Buddha, Milinda, and Amtiyoko. Guntur: Sri Ajanta Printers.1956
Acknowledgment: Our sincere thanks to Sri G.D. Prasad garu, grandson of Pandit Kota Venkatachalam for his kind permission to reprint these articles and excerpts.

Personalities: Savitri

savitri

After the great King Sagara, the time has come to study the life of yet another exquisite Royal Personality in Bharat’s great tradition. Not just men, but inspirational women too, have set an example on how to balance personal dreams and aspirations with familial and national duties.

Our next Personality in our Continuing Series is none other than the legendary Savitri.

Background

More than just a timeless, girl-saves-guy love story, Savitri & Satyavan is nidarsana katha in its highest form.

Savitri is among the five Satis of Sanatana Dharma and is held up as being a role model for pativrata. The story of Savitri and her husband Satyavan, first occurs in the Mahabharata in the Vana Parva. Her story is recited by sage Markandeya when Yudhisthira asks him if there is any woman who is as devout a wife as  Draupadi.

Princess Savitri was the daughter of the King of Madra, Asvapati, and his wife, Queen Malavi. Asvapati was a childless ruler, and as he grew older he began to feel anxious that he did not have an heir to succeed him. He thus undertook all sorts of penances and prayed to the goddess Savitri, residing in the sun, to bless him with a son to carry on his line. 18 years of hard penance earned him the goodwill of the goddess who appeared to him and told him he will be blessed with a spirited daughter. Soon, a daughter was born to him and he named her Savitri in honour of the goddess who blessed him.

Aryavarta

Savitri grew into a beautiful young woman and her beauty was so bedazzling that suitors got intimidated by her. Hence no one came forth to ask for her hand in marriage. Finally, her father told her that since no one was coming forth to marry her, she must go out and find a husband for herself. She set off on the search for a husband, and soon fell in love with Satyavan, the son of the  blind and impoverished king Dyumatsena. This ruler had been exiled from his kingdom (Salva desa) and was living as a hermit in the forest.

Savitri’s father was very displeased with her choice and wanted her to make another choice, but she refused to change her mind. Her father wished to hand over the kingdom to the groom so that his daughter would have a comfortable life. However, she refused this too and was adamant that she would stay in the forest with her husband and his parents.

But there was something even more dire than all the previous issues with the choice that she had made. Satyavan was destined to die one year from the day they got married. This was unbearable for Savitri’s father, who tried to dissuade her from going ahead with her plan. But Savitri, being the ever independent minded person said to him, “Once only one gets one’s inheritance, once only a daughter is given away and once only a father says, ‘I give her”’ These are three ‘once only’ acts. I have once chosen my husband, long-lived or short-lived, virtuous or wanting in virtue, I have chosen my husband once, and I shall not choose for the second time”. Faced with such strong resolve, Savitri’s father could only give in to his daughter’s wishes. Thus were Satyavan and Savitri married.

Savitri had not the slightest hesitation in giving up her royal robes and riches for the simple and humble attire of a hermit’s wife. She settled into her new life as wife and daughter-in-law and won the hearts and minds of all in that hermit’s abode, with her conduct. However, she never lost sight of the fact that in a year from the date of her marriage she was destined to lose her husband. She kept close watch on the count of days passing by and when there were but four days left to the date of Satyavan’s death, she undertook a fast for three days and three nights in order that her husband might be spared.

AchievementsPhoto: kidsgen

  • Saved her husband’s life
  • Restored her father-in-law’s health and wealth
  • Safeguarded her father’s future and her native kingdom’s security

On the appointed day of his death, when the day was halfway through, Savitri’s in-laws told her that she should break her fast. But Savitri refused, saying that she would eat only after sunset. Satyavan, in the meanwhile, had picked up his axe and was going out of the hermitage when Savitri came to him and told him that she would accompany him into the woods. Satyavan tried to dissuade her from accompanying him, telling her that her fast of the past three days would have tired her out. This, however, did not deter Savitri, and she followed him into the forest.

As Satyavan was working, he suddenly felt his head beginning to ache and began to sweat profusely. He felt so weak that he felt unable to stand. Savitri immediately took him in her arms and sat down, letting his head rest in her lap as he began to collapse. Yama, the god of death (and Dharma) appeared before her said that Satyavan’s life on this earth had reached an end and he was going to take his lifebreath away. So saying, he took a thumb length of Satyavan’s sookshma sareera even as his material body lay lifeless on the ground, and started proceeding southwards.

Savitri began to follow Yama and seeing her follow him, Yama asked her why she was following him. This was Savitri’s answer. She said, “I must go wherever my husband goes. It is established by the eternal ancient law that the wife should always follow her husband wherever he goes or wherever he is taken. By virtue of the austerities I have practised, and by the power of my love for my husband, as also the potency of my vow, and by your grace too, unimpeded I would go.” This was the Pativrata Dharma (one echelon of Stree Dharma) that she had been taught and what she lived by. Savitri then began to converse with Yama in her most elegant and refined manner, which gladdened the heart of Yama though he disapproved of her accompanying him. At last, her cultured and refined behaviour wore down his defences and he told her she could demand a boon of him as long as it was not the life of her husband. She demanded that her father-in-law’s eyesight be restored and that he be allowed to become “strong and shining in spirit like the sun and the fire.” That boon was granted and yet Savitri continued to walk with Yama.

After a while, seeing she had no intention of turning back, Yama inquired of her why she was still trailing him and whether she wasn’t tired. To that, the ever virtuous Savitri replied, “Why should I be tired when I am with my husband? I go wherever he goes. Besides, even a solitary meeting with the great is desirable; it never goes in vain. It is always beneficial to be in good company.” Now, Yama is not a welcome entity, normally, because he is the harbinger of death and hence grief. But Savitri living by her Dharma of seeing the goodness and greatness in everyone and stating that, made the normally bad tempered Yama feel honoured.

He asked her to name a second boon that did not involve bringing her husband back to life and she promptly asked that her father-in-law’s kingdom be restored to him. That wish was also granted and they continued on their way. In her pleasing manner, Savitri thus received additional boons; the third was that her own father should be blessed with a hundred sons, the fourth that she herself would be blessed with a hundred sons. Yama smiled, and said so be it.

As Yama began walking away, Savitri again followed him. Finally enraged, Yama asked how Savitri could continue to follow him after he had blessed her with so much. The clever Savitri then said “Oh Yama deva, you have graciously blessed me with a hundred sons, but how can I conceive them without my husband?“. Realising he had been out-witted, the Deva of Death praised this wise and devoted wife as an example for all time, and happily told her to ask for final boon (but this time he omitted his previous injunction against asking for Satyavan). She naturally asked for Yama to return her husband to life, which he did. Yamadeva  blessed Savitri and Satyavan, and disappeared.

In all the above chronology of the wishes expressed by Savitri, we see her selflessness shining through. Though her burning desire was to see her husband brought back to life, she was always aware of her duties a as a daughter-in-law and daughter to the elders that made up her family. Her concern for her in-laws and her own parents was placed before her own concerns and this alone was enough for Yama to understand the depth of her love for her  husband and her deep understanding of the values that a woman has to uphold and live by. Both women and men are expected to be unselfish under Dharma.

What is the lesson to be drawn from this story?

Satyavan_Savitri

The lesson of Savitri is that even the Gods bow before a woman who is forever protecting her husband and safeguarding his well-being. What she achieved through wisdom and prayer, other women may also do through the sword and strategem. But more than that, Savitri is a model for how husbands and wives are expected to be devoted to each other—that is the true driver of love.

We all are governed by the karmas we have accumulated over our many lifetimes and hence our destiny is pre-ordained. But, while that is the broad grand plan, how we respond to them and the dignity and unselfishness with which we conduct our lives, determines who we really are.

However, there are no short cuts or quick fixes to achieve it. Only by upholding dharma in the highest possible way and living life according to the Dharmic principles prescribed for each one of us, as daughters, women, wives, daughters-in-law, mothers and so on (in the case of women, with a similar list being there in the case of men), can we hope to overturn destiny. The greatness of Dharma lies in the fact that there is a possibility to make changes in our destiny but that it requires great will and tapasya to actually be able to accomplish it. The most meaningful lives, for both women and men (yes, I mean you too, boys..), are those that are lived for others. The selfish existence is the empty existence. Savitri stands as a shining example for all time. She was an empowered woman who charted her own course in life, but while she asserted her rights, she never forgot that rights go together with duties.

Such selfless women are rarely ever matched by men, and fewer still are the stories where the girl saves the guy. Savitri is one such heroine who commands our respect and admiration.

Legacy

SavitriVsYama

Contrary to modern debutantes, Savitri is a strong character and embodiment of Bharatiya Stree Shakti. Neither passive nor aggressive, she is assertive. She is intelligent, knows both her duties and her rights, and is not afraid to live up to the former while asserting the latter. But she does so with maryada (courtesy & propriety)—this is the true mark of culture and refinement.

Like the Great King Sagara, whether she too is Legendary or not, Savitri is an example and exemplar of Dharma. She exemplifies the very concept of ardhangini, which demonstrates that women cannot and should not be trod and trampled upon, but have 1 half of the share of responsibilities and rights in society. They are not worth only half of men like other cultures, but in fact the other half of men, and entitled to their share of respect and influence in society. Savitri personifies precisely how real strong women command respect.

vat_savitri_vrat_sms_wishes_3735098624

Savitri is an extremely wise woman from our epics who outwitted Yama himself and brought her husband Satyavan back to life through her intelligence. This was truly the ultimate girl-saves-guy love story. She is revered as a pativrata, as one of the pancha-satis and “Women worship Savitri by tying colored sacred threads to the Vata (banyan) tree as part of observance during the rainy season in many parts of India, the occasion being called Vatasavitri”. [2] This festival is to this day honoured, so that women too can hope to gain the wisdom and character of such a complete woman.

mahaSavitri

Beyond movies in languages such as Hindi and Malayalam, the English composer Gustav Holst was even inspired by the story to write an opera on it in 1916. What inspires even foreigners, Bharatiyas take for granted.  From the ancient Puranas to modern Popular culture, Savitri of Madra is one of the dazzling lights of our sanskriti, who attained eternal fame, and even gave the very name “Sati-Savitri”.

It may be a common joke in today’s jaded, pub-hub, dance club age for “liberated” girls to say “don’t be such a Sati-Savitri!“. But if Savitri means being an empowered woman who chose her own husband, saved his life, and secured the happiness of her family, in-laws, and nation, maybe we in fact should be.

References:

  1. Sarma, Bharadvaja. Vyasa’s Mahabharatam. Academic Publishers. 2008. pp. 329–336. Vana Parva
  2. SarDesai, D.R. India: The Definitive History. Westview: Boulder, Colorado. 2008

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on Sep 23, 2014


The stain of irony mars yet another well-intentioned effort at civic hygiene

“Yessir, it is dirty. We are like this only…”, “It has always been this way”, “It is our kulchar, we don’t care, madam”…

Go to most of India’s cities and towns (and even villages) today, and filth, refuse, and even poverty strike the eye. Even in modernising and so-called high tech cities, such sights are not uncommon in parts of the city center, let alone outskirts. Why is it this way? Was it always the case?

rubiish.jpg
An unflattering blog about filthy conditions in India made the news

The answer is a resounding “No”. But our ignorant native informants seem to take an almost masochist pleasure in berating India’s traditional culture. Worse, some of the people from “phoreign” have also begun picking up this knack and even attributed it to assorted Hindu scriptures. Fortunately, this was vehemently opposed with counter-articles. Nevertheless, both the image, and the continuing public hygiene problem in India remain.

A few of you, particularly those who’ve had rather awkward run-ins with ABCD’s may also ask why I’ve limited this to public hygiene. But the reality is, the oft-mentioned “deodorant” critique is rather unfair. Assembly line deodorants and anti-perspirants are very modern, and fast moving consumer goods have only truly started breaking into India in the past decade. The reality is, the average Hindu is very fastidious about Personal cleanliness, bathing once, or even frequently twice a day.

There is a popular story, not sure whether it’s apocryphal or not, that the Duke of Wellington (the famous British General) in fact picked up daily bathing while in India. So if the average Indian has historically been rather clean, what explains the mess he makes of the country today, let alone himself in public? 1. Loss of civic sense and 2. Lack of consideration for others

Loss of Civic Sense

While many still debate whether or not India had a rough thousand years, it certainly had a rough 250. With the advent of the internet, the long suppressed miseries of Colonial rule are finally floating out.

  As a result of laissez-faire economic policies ruthlessly enforced by Britain, between 12 and 29 million Indians died of starvation needlessly. Millions of tons of wheat were exported to Britain even as famine raged. When relief camps were set up, the inhabitants were barely fed and nearly all died.

In contrast, cities such as Mysore and Baroda administered by indigenous Princely Rulers such as the Maharajah and Gaekwad were known for their cleanliness and organization (still seen today).

sayajiraobarodau

But the predatory taxation of company and later crown rule ravaged the countryside, driving many off their land and into the cities. Flooded urban areas, unable to cope, could not be expected to manage the basic civic amenities. And as misery loves company, the poverty and slum life became generational. Thus, the once famously hygienic Hindu (it is the religion of ritual baths after all) became associated with uncleanliness. Cities degenerated, and the rivers became a mockery. But the greatest punishment of poverty is the breaking of the spirit, and with it, goes the dignity of living. Necessity begat squalor. This was further compounded by the blind ritualism that crept into religious practice. Ritual cannot be blind to its effect on society–it too, like Dharma, must adapt to its circumstances as needed.

This is not to say every Indian city had previously been a spotless Singapore. Rather, that standards of public hygiene and municipal ordinances were certainly in existence.

“the president, in his address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, reminded Indians that they bore the legacy of a rich cultural tradition where ancient travellers like Megasthenes (4th century BC), Fa Hien (5th century AD) and Hiuen Tsang (7th century AD), when they came to India, have written about the efficient administrative systems, with planned settlements and good urban infrastructure.”

We certainly know the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization had the highest standard of civic hygiene (almost 2 millennia) before the Roman Empire, replete with a well planned drainage system.

Certainly, the ancient Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro is emblematic of the high level of public cleanliness.

Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro (Indus-Sarasvati Valley)

Kautilya himself stipulated strict laws regarding public hygiene. He mandated fines for

In fact, there are entire sections explicitly on “civic responsibility”, prevention of “nuisance”, and “public hygiene”. How ironic that that the country and civilization most criticised for its lack of civic responsibility and public hygiene had its most famous work on government specifically mandate them…

For the entire state and society to be clean, however, individuals too must also be clean. So let us also emphasize the importance of cleanliness. Indeed, cleanliness (saucha) is one of the pivotal aspects on the path to True Knowledge, as stipulated in the Gita.  The Ramayana too described Sita’s “usual scrupulous cleanliness” as emblematic of one of her many virtues. It is for these reasons we posited Saucha as a critical aspect of Achara and emphasised how it furthers the development of Pavitrata (Purity), an important aspect of Dharma. This is because personal uncleanliness not only results in public uncleanliness, but also increases acceptance/proclivity for unclean thoughts and acts. That is why we say Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.

premmandir

I understand that India is not China to develop a system of internal passports that keep out poor people and bulldoze slums on a whim—I am not advocating that either. At the same time, each person should do his part to make his little patch of land clean—and occasionally chip in around the more public portions. Here is a wonderful program out of Bangalore run by mostly IT people.

ugly-indians-1

If they can do it, why can’t you?

Lack of Consideration for Others

Consideration for others is an important concept. Lack of it is not always the result of selfishness, in fact, frequently, it’s the end product of self-centeredness. When we are over-involved with ourselves, and unable to step outside and reflect on our own behaviors and practices, we do not think of how we affect others.

What about me?

self-centered

There is an embarrassing story from some PIOs who discussed what happened at a small, residentially run temple in the States. While the established NRIs/PIOs avoided behaving like a nuisance, the new arrivals not only engaged in noise pollution through their inconsiderate behavior, but were actually throwing trash (even used diapers!) onto the property of the non-Indian locals. But where in the Dharmashastras is such stupidity permitted?–nowhere. Kautilya himself expressly punished such nuisance behavior towards neighbours as seen above. Thus, it is self-centeredness and lack of consideration for others that is the culprit. These people simply could not be bothered to do their part for society, and wanted to get back to their cozy little routines as soon as possible.

True, many of the new batch of economic guest workers/migrants come straight from the villages, but still, there must be an awareness of changed circumstances & surroundings that necessitates some hesitance and reticence. It cannot simply be business-as-usual the moment you step outside your home (or country). So while we have previously written of the importance of atma-vichara (self-reflection) and viveka (discrimination between right and wrong), the third and possibly most important pillar, is willingness to change  or at least willingness to hear someone out (suśravasyā ) which ultimately comes from the placement of society above ourselves. That’s right, you’re part of a society…

We at ACP constantly talk about how you can dedicate 15 minutes a day for doing something for your culture/civilization. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said every Indian should dedicate 100 hours a year to cleanliness. You’re a multi-tasking person, so why not do both?

So there it is, dear reader, the importance of clean living, its evidence in our history, its centrality in our culture, and how it can better your life and country today.

References

  1. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-08-14/news/52807674_1_clean-india-national-mission-mahatma-gandhi
  2. http://www.niticentral.com/2014/01/12/memsahibs-diary-gokarnas-cleanliness-is-gokarnas-godliness-178156.html
  3. http://www.niticentral.com/2014/05/20/why-modis-focus-on-cleanliness-makes-sense-225330.html
  4. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dedicate-100-hours-a-year-for-cleanliness-PM-Narendra-Modi-says/articleshow/42301078.cms
  5. Rangarajan, L.N. The Arthashastra. 148, 374, 375
  6. The Ramayana Of Valmiki (Vol. 5) Sundarakanda An Epic Of Ancient India

 

Why “Men of Conscience” are Dangerous

A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on April 20, 2014


http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-men-never-do-evil-so-fully-and-cheerfully-as-when-we-do-it-out-of-conscience-blaise-pascal-349104.jpg

“I am yay man of conshunce” (sic), “I have to follow my haaart” (sic), “I have a conscience, don’t you?? ”three of the many tired bromides offered by our senti intellectual elite—yes, even on the conservative right. But the reality, my friends, is that such men of conscience will be the death of us.

While such preferred actions are couched in the verbiage of conscience, they are really substituting conscience for sentiment, because, let’s face it, we Indians are a ridiculously sentimental people. While the opponents of all that is good and sacred in this world may feign various sentiments, often as a ruse, when push comes to shove, they show no such ambivalence.

History itself has shown time and again how such men of conscience conveniently hear that little voice at the worst possible time. The Mahabharata and the Gita, in particular, are in fact a specific repudiation of such senti based decision-making. This is of course not to say that we shouldn’t have a conscience—we absolutely must!

Pleasure without conscience is one of the greatest sins against humanity, because it leads to exploitation, especially of the innocent and unwilling. But what I have a problem with, and as the Gita itself explicitly rejects, are these self-proclaimed “men of conscience” who conveniently discover it at all the wrong times.

Where was Yudhisthira’s conscience when he agreed to the unjust wager of Draupadi?

Where was Arjuna’s conscience when Bhishma’s conscience permitted Draupadi’s disrobing? 

Where was Shalya’s conscience when Drona and Karna participated in the unjust killing of mighty Abhimanyu?

Fortunately for Arjuna, and the Pandavas, Krishna was there to talk some serious sense into him. Thus the issue with these so-called men of conscience is not so much that conscience itself is wrong—in fact, it is a critical first step towards the path of Dharma—but rather that conscience must be entwined with principle.

Conscience must not become an excuse for sentiment. Indians are notorious not only for their prickliness but the ridiculous extents to which their sentiments can extend, in all things. But this sentiment or moha cannot blind us to balancing all interests, least of all, the right course of action. For when this happens, all of society suffers.

That is why Dharma is not Rna, but about Rta. These “men of conscience” remember their obligation at all the wrong times. They dance to the direction of Duryodhana’s, no matter how damned, all in the name of “Dharma”. That is why true Dharma is not about obligation, sentiment, or Rna, but Rta. It teaches us what obligation, or what Rna, matters at what time, due to Satya.  It is Dharma that creates Rna, not the other way around, otherwise, these are the consequences.

A political commentator I greatly respect—a man who has been able, in the darkest of days, to get us all to put aside differences of caste, creed, and sampradaya to see the greater good— recently engaged in similar such rumination, because of his personal attachment to a friendship with a particular MP. But said MP had no compunction in choosing to join the most anti-national party in India and adding legitimacy to the most corrupt administration in India’s history—and this is only the confirmed of the MP’s crimes, among many alleged ones. While I believe the noble commentator will make the right choice in the end (and not support this MP)—this episode is nevertheless testament to how we are all—even the very tall among us— subject to this, the greatest temptation of all—Moha (attachment). Fortunately, Yuktata (or justice) is the cure for it.

Our conscience (or sentiment) or even pride is often stoked to blind us to the regimented and orderly application of justice. Feelings are used to deceive us of the danger that lurks should we fall for the ruse. When Sun Tzu famously wrote that “All warfare is deception”, should we not be unsurprised when this is applied in politics and even Sanskrit? Simply because someone presents himself/herself in a pleasing, charming, learned, and intellectual manner, does not mean we should judge the book merely by its cover. Actions are what speak volumes, and it is through action and intent that we administer justice. Actions and intent must be judged against the common good.

While this well-known blogger certainly does not deserve association with the likes of the Prashant Bhushans and Arundhati Roys of the world (in fact, he is among their greatest opponents), the reality is they, unlike him, specifically tout themselves as men and women of conscience …and we all know how selective their conscience is. While I must reiterate that said blogger remains in the ranks of the very tall among us, this particular development goes to show just how susceptible we all are to moha, whether brave Pandava or brilliant columnista. Arjuna ultimately made the right choice, and despite his admiration for Karna, I believe that in the end, this blogger will as well.

So the next time you come across another such man (or woman) of conscience (however temporarily they may be affected by moha), ask him if his conscience isn’t merely a way to avoid having to do the difficult thing—i.e. making the right choice. Good friends may be hard to come by, but an ignorant friend leads to destruction and destroys Dharma.  And supporting such a friend in their adharmic escapades is also wrong.  Dharma destroys those who destroy it. Attachment to a famous friend or a “learned” leader is still attachment. Greater than learning is wisdom. That is why Rishis are rightfully venerated…not for Knowledge, but Wisdom.

We are often in our lives misled by the charm and charisma of the fair among us. The smooth talkers, the sophisticated davos men, and ye ever present “liberal intellectual” who take pleasing forms to deceive us all, as they forge their rings of power.

But one of the newest tactics is actually an oldie. An array of self-appointed modern “Acharyas” has arisen in our midst, claiming the mantle of “traditionalist”. But true Traditionalists and true Acharyas are in the Agrahara and Matha…who is this bunch trying to fool? We have seen this trick before. In appropriating the Adhikar of the Agrahara, they are commandeering our karma,Dharma & Sanskriti for their own pusillanimous purposes.

But the reality is, our judgments and even loyalty to such people should be premised on principle and gauged not by how they make you feel or how much you enjoy their company, but by whether their actions and policies are in line with the common good. Whatever good they may once have done, whatever knowledge they may have shared, their true merit is determined by character and noble action. Thus, such blue-eyed boys (and girls), whether “liberal” or “traditional”, may often seem fair, but mask a foul agenda.

I will end with a line from one of the most beloved stories of our time, the Lord of the Rings. In it, one of the characters said the following:

“I think a servant of the enemy would look fairer, but feel fouler”

…the next time ye men of conscience waffle in the name of moha, remember this wisdom, for therein lies, yours and all of our salvation.

And so my friends, rather than being a man of conscience, be a man (or woman) of principle. Because while our conscience may sometimes betray us, virtuous principles never will.

The Purusharthas

Purusharthas

 

Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. Words that are known to almost every serious Dharmic person, since almost birth. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that a spiritual and cultural tradition long critiqued for religious extremes of self-abnegation and fatalism on the one end and Kamasutra and Khajuraho on the other, has always been one of balance. This is where the criticism of knowing more and more about less and less becomes highly relevant, as those using the outsider (etic) lens have studied the tradition only from the basis of a specific external framework. [5] The result is not objectivity, but obtuseness. The theory is force-fitted to the data. Or the data itself is self-selecting, with research areas being divided and sub-divided into oblivion.

That is why it is important that a tradition first be studied holistically and systemically, before moving on to more specialized areas and sub-parts. As the core of Dharma has to some degree been discussed, we may now move on to another central concept: PurusharthasThe Four Aims of Life.

Some of the favourite responses of youth of all generations have been “no one told me this before!”, “there is no guidebook to life!”, or my personal favourite “my body didn’t come with instructions!” [name that movie]. But the rejoinder is in fact “yes” to all of the above. You were told this before, there is a guidebook to life, and your body did come with instructions. You just chose to ignore all of the above because your motto to date has been “if it feels good, do it!”. In all fairness though, perhaps the channel or the communicator of these ideas may not have been the best or most effective.

The natural next query is “well, if we’re not supposed to do x, y, z, then why give it to us to begin with?”.

It is precisely this line of thinking that has been used by those with agendas and ulterior motives since the dawn of time. Through sophistry, casuistry, false equivalence, and half-information, they have sought to misinterpret and  misguide (much like modern-day “indologists”) the naive or unschooled in order to advance their own purposes.

And there begins the importance of The Purusharthas.

It is not “see, but don’t touch”, but “touch, in the right circumstances”, it is not “touch, but don’ t taste”, but “taste, only if it doesn’t harm someone”.  It is not “taste, but don’t swallow”, but “swallow, only if it doesn’t harm you”.

It is not that sensory pleasure is in itself bad, but when it becomes a fixation, when it becomes an obsession, then we become subject to it, we become a slave to it. And when we become subject or a slave to the dictates of our senses, then consideration for the safety and well-being or dignity or respect of others or our family name goes out the door. Without Dharma, Artha and Kama become subject to Asura, and Moksha goes by the wayside.

That is the brilliance of the chariot metaphor in the Bhagavad Gita. The Soul is Arjuna, the Charioteer is Krishna, the senses are the horses, and the body is the chariot. With Krishna (who not only represents God, but Dharma itself) guiding the chariot, the horses are properly reined in and we smoothly traverse the journey of life attaining our objectives and reaching our destination. But without a good charioteer, the horses (a.k.a senses) run wild, and the chariot overturns, and our life is ruined. That is how misery in this life and the next, and the next, is fermented.

http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/gita-126.jpg

This is the danger of becoming a slave to our senses. And this is why the root of all happiness is in victory over the senses. When we achieve victory over the senses (Indriya-vijayam), then we need not worry or feel guilty on those occasions when we do indulge in sensory pleasures. While other traditions treat sex as something dirty, in the Dharmic tradition, when done correctly, it is not. Even Acharya Chanakya wrote that:

Na jithendhriyaanaam vishayabhayam | 262

Those who have control over their senses are not afraid of their indulgence in sensual delights. [1,p. 160]

And that is why Dharma, both the spirit (inner) and the letter (outer), exists. With Dharma as the guide, with Dharma as the Rules of the Game, we can engage in play (in this material world via this corporeal birth) without self-harm and harm to others. And that is also why Dharma is the most important of the Purusharthas. This is because with mastery of Dharma, we then know how to handle artha (wealth) and kama (pleasure and love) when they come to us. And rather than moksha being something distant that we hurriedly and belatedly seek in our sixties or seventies, it becomes something we prepare for along the way, all our life. What’s more, through Dharma, we understand that our quest for moksha should not cause harm or neglect to others and lead to Adharma.

But of course, victory over the senses, and even practice of Dharma is far more difficult than it may sound here. The former takes many lifetimes for most jeevatmas, and the latter involves many falls even among the most disciplined and dharmic of souls. That is also why ahankar is the greatest impediment to enjoyment of the purusharthas. Aham kar (I am doing). Aham (the great, I am). This thought is in fact the seed of our destruction because it ignores the reality of “we”. When there is only aham, we are only accountable to ourselves and what we hold in importance. When there is hum, then “we” think of our obligations to others. That is why we take only what we need, or enjoy only what is proper.

Dharma

rp_Dharmachakra-300x300.png

Dharma is the foundational aim of life because it guides all others. It provides us with the Rules of the Game of Life so that we may navigate it happily and attain the ultimate goal of liberation from samsara. Too often individuals believe they can either live a miserable but moral life, or a sinful but happy life. Dharma teaches us that happiness and morality are not mutually exclusive. Even Acharya Chanakya, proponent of Lokayata, and ruthlessly pragmatic, himself wrote “Sukhasya moolam Dharmah”, the root of happiness is Dharma. This is because Kama (sensory pleasure & love) and Artha (wealth/material gain) are not immoral. It is only when desire for either of those two becomes excessive, that we become immoral, and in the long run, unhappy. As Swami Vivekananda reportedly said

What is poison?— Anything in excess

Dharma is the compass that allows us to navigate the map of life. By following it, we can continue on the right path, while enjoying the pleasant sights and sounds and experiences of life. As per Dharma, sex is not wrong. As per Dharma, even enjoying sex is not wrong. Dharma in fact celebrates sexual union of husband and wife as a microcosm of the union of Shiva and Shakti. It only cautions against sexual excess, and advises both husband and wife to experience sex under the guidance of Dharma, and through the bond of matrimony. In fact, that is what the act is meant to create: pair-bonding.

Similarly, the once magnificently wealthy civilization of India did not condemn wealth, why would it? It merely advised against miserliness and greed. That is why Acharya Chanakya wrote “arthasya moolam rajyam, rajasya moolam indrivijayam”, the root of wealth is power, and the root of power is victory over the senses. Therefore, Dharma exists not to deny us pleasure, but only to ensure pleasure and wealth are enjoyed without harming others or ourselves. Do not take what is not yours, that is the essence of Dharma.

DharmaMandir

Artha is in fact very important to the functioning of society. It allows men (and women) to provide for their families, permits governments to ensure security, law and order, and well-being for the people; and above all, it allows individuals to finance dharmic causes.

Artha

Arthachakra

Traditionally, Artha was to be pursued even before Kama, or at least the means to achieving it, to be secured before pursuing Kama. This is because as all men know, having a woman in your life can be very expensive! But beyond that, possession of Artha means being able to successfully undertake one’s duties and obligations. How can we run off and seek pleasure when our parents are unsheltered? How can we engage in reckless abandon when our children are starving? That is the value of artha.

So important is wealth, that Sanatana Dharma propounds the worship of wealth so as to not only acquire it, but to have the sense to use it wisely. That is why we worship wealth in the form of Lakshmi, so we do not lose wisdom (Buddhi).

goddess-lakshmi-picture

Wealth comes in different forms. As embodied by the symbolism of Ashtalakshmi, there are 8 traditional froms of wealth: Dhana Lakshmi (Money & Precious metals), Dhaanya Lakshmi (agricultural wealth), Dhairya Lakshmi (courage), Veerya Lakshmi (valour), Vijaya Lakshmi (victory in life), Vidya Lakshmi (scholarly wealth, i.e. education), Rajya Lakshm i(political wealth, empires), Gaja Lakshmi (animal wealth), and  Santhaana Lakshmi (family wealth & progeny) . This is why we worship the Goddess of Wealth, because she is the bestower of all these different forms of Artha, we ask for her grace so that we may value, and deploy wisely what we have. After all, “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Dharma ensures that charity begins at home, but that money is also used charitably. It is also why Dharma stipulates that women be respected, because women of the family, especially one’s wife, represent Griha Lakshmi (Lakshmi of the House).

As can be seen in the coin above, Artha when combined with Dharma, allows us to use wealth wisely. It also encourages us to spend within our means (unlike the current model of debt-financed consumption). Dharma teaches us the value of money.  When we know the value of money, the real value of money, we use it wisely and for the benefit not just of the senses, but of society at large.

Selfishness is not a virtue. How could it be? Only the severely stupid suffering under the  illusion of knowledge, think it so. Selfishness is in fact the Real Root of all Evil. Sophists, casuists, and the half-educated forever tout the import of “Self-interest”, but they forget that even Adam Smith advocated Enlightened self-interest and also emphasised the importance of benevolence.

The man who spends wisely, but liberally, is the man whom others enjoy being around. The man who doesn’t pinch every penny, who doesn’t nickel and dime his friends, is the man whom others seek out as a friend. The woman who respects her husband’s earnings and who spends within the family’s means, is the woman who is in turn respected as the protectress and matriarch (present or future) of her family. This is because, as all honest and self-made businessmen and businesswomen know, business is not about a number.

Mahatma Vidura , the enlightened Prime Minister and half-brother of Dhritarashtra, himself noted this important fact that true profit is holistic and systemic, rather than extractive. Accordingly, he advocated a balance among the Purusharthas as can be seen below in a quote from his celebrated Vidura Niti.

He that followeth virtue, profit, and desire in proper seasons, obtaineth hereafter, a combination of all three.

He that desires the highest success in all matters connected with worldly profit, should from the very beginning practise virtue [Dharma], for true profit is never separated from Heaven [2]

Kama

kamachakra

Pleasure comes in many forms. Because the most literal meaning of Kama is defined as the act or aim of desire (iccha), Kama, like Artha, has many categories. There is of course the most obvious sensual pleasure. In fact, Kama has become so associated with the sensual that it is frequently conflated with Rati (the erotic). But Kama is greater than that and actually means much, much more.

In some contexts, it means Love, as we know from the famous Art of Love. What most do not realise, however, is that the Kamasutra is in fact a manual on how to win the affection of and marry a good wife. Therefore, Love or Affection too is a form of pleasure. In fact, due to its expansiveness to not just refering to the affection of a lover, or a mother, or our family, or even our fellow citizens, it is frequently the most addictive form of pleasure. The desire to be loved by all is a universal one for all normal people. While the erotic pleasures are primarily chemical in nature, the desire for affection is an emotional one. Therefore, affectionate love too is subject to Dharma as Prema cannot become Moha.

MaslowMaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is said to be a digested form of Indic teaching. While this may in fact be the case, it is nevertheless instructive here to understand the pyramid of Kama.

kundalini-3

As can be seen with the 7 chakras of traditional Yoga Philosophy, there are varying degrees of spiritual evolution. Most people are focused on the Muladhara, which is responsible for the primal drives to reproduce, etc. More spiritually aware beings are focused on the Ajna so that they may eventually open the Sahasraara Padma (Thousand Petalled Lotus), which is the topmost chakra, and connects us with the Divine. The mundane pleasures of the Muladhara far exceeded by the ecstasy achieved when the Sahasraara Padma is opened. But the Muladhara also contains the Kundalini, therefore, the same energy responsible for primal drives, when applied intelligently, rises up to open up the highest levels of spirituality–that is the logic of Tantra (or more correctly, Kaula).  Rather than chasing after lower level pleasures for our entire lives, like children craving candy, we are told to exercise self-restraint and engage in moderation.  That is also why we are told to guard our thoughts and desires. This is because as we desire, so we become.

Sa yathaakaamo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate. [4, 272]

The best known paraphrase is as follows:

As your desire, so your will. As your will, so your deed. As your deed, so your destiny.

This famous line from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV, 4, 5) discusses the importance of guarding not only our actions, but our thoughts and inner-most desires as well. That is why a good person can still do a bad thing. He may exercise self-control, but if he is mentally chasing after lower level or forbidden pleasures, he will eventually commit the acts to obtain them. If he continues to repeat the bad thing, that he ultimately becomes bad. As our deeds, so our character. As our character, so our destiny…

That is the Law of Kama. Because Kama is subject to Karma, it should be guided by Dharma. When this is so, we can happily engage in sensual pleasures without fear of sin.

But ultimately, even sensual pleasures have their time limit—that is why we age. There is nothing sadder than an octogenarian still clinging onto the pleasures of youth or lusting after one with youth. A life dedicated to only pleasure is one that is bereft of accomplishment. Looking back on one’s life, it is the achievements we count, not the individual units of utility we drew from each pleasure. What have we done with our life? Whom have helped? Where are we remembered fondly? That is what matters not only for a fulfilling life, but also for one that will ultimately takes us to the Ultimate Truth.

Moksha

moksha

Veda, Dharmasastra, Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada, etc, all of these guide us to ultimate Liberation. Jeevanmukti, Kaivalya.

Moksha is the highest Purushartha because it is the one that takes us to the Ultimate Reality. Artha and Kama are both fleeting and linked to the ephemeral material world. Dharma guides us through the material world, but Moksha is the ultimate aim for all living beings.

The endless cycle of births and deaths is the root of our suffering. Because we are attached to assorted pleasures, the attachment itself (moha) becomes bondage. It is the source of our grief, the source of our pain, the root of our troubles, because we mistake the fleeting for the ever-lasting.

Wealth cannot be taken with us into the next life. Youth and Beauty are impermanent. Even family moves on after we are gone. Therefore, it is best to pursue a life full of Love of and Prosperity, but also one that recognises the importance of spirituality and tapas (ascetism). By thinking of Moksha throughout our lives, rather than just at the very end, we we can be best prepared to attain it, as well as the sensory pleasures of life along the way.

Therefore, young or old, man or woman, Four Ashramas or Eightfold path, all individuals should aspire towards Moksha. It is Moksha that frees us from the bonds of samsara and the grief of moha. It is the path to Moksha, Dharma, that guides us through life so that we may enjoy Artha and Kama while ultimately attaining Moksha.

samsarasamudra

The concept of the Purusharthas exists to guide us through the ocean of life. Merely chasing after wealth and pleasure takes us through numberless iterations of births and deaths. The truly full life recognises that Artha and Kama are certainly important (after all, all work and no play…), but is also aware of the necessity of Dharma and the ultimate liberative quality of Moksha.

Conclusion

reincarnation

As stated by Mahatma Vidura, he (or she) that seeks out Dharma, Artha, and Kama in proper measure and season, ultimately obtains all three and attains Moksha–that is the fullest life of all. The one that wisely seeks out all four of the purusharthas rather than just one, is the life that breaks the cycle of endless births and deaths and reaches the Divine and everlasting. All work and no play makes Jack a Dull boy.  But all play and no work makes Jack a dumb boy.

A life wisely spent is one that first learns Dharma (and Niti) at a young age, then obtains Artha (beginning with Vidya artha) from 6-16 or 26 (depending on our educational path), then Kama (from 18 or 28, etc), and then concentrates on Moksha (from at least age 50 on, if not sooner). Because none of us knows exactly how long we will be on this Earth, it is best to have all four in our mind as we journey through life. A life focused purely on Moksha may neglect the rest of society. A life focused purely on Kama, destroys it. Therefore, individuals must seek harmony among the purusharthas.

In summary, the Purusharthas are the Four Aims of Life because life is not meant to be aimless. Merely meandering through each ashrama (stage/phase of life) is no way to live and will merely lead to endless lives. Idleness, after all, is the mother of all vice. Idle minds lead to idle lives. For society to function, for the world to function, all must contribute. All must be producers of some sort, not just of produce, but of knowledge, or arts, or music, or good government, or wealth, or re-contextualisation of philosophy. When we consume the fruits without toiling to produce it (or something else), we do not know its value.

That is why Artha and Kama are both subject to Dharma. Dharma mandates not that all are subject to an unaccountable king or priest, but ensures that the king and priest perform their obligations and duties to society with humility. A king (or politician) who only believes he should enjoy wealth and pleasure, will inevitably seek to appropriate the Artha (wealth) of the state and prey upon prajas for pleasure. That is the root of corruption.

Corruption is not some black magic ailment that magically appears in society. Corruption occurs when The Purusharthas are not in balance. A life that pursues Artha and Kama while paying mere lip service to Dharma, will not, cannot, attain Moksha.

The best education is the one that is rooted in Dharma and informed by Niti. This grants us viveka (ability to distinguish between right and wrong) and allows us to separate bad information from good.

But the fullest life of all is one that seeks Dharma.

There is a famous story about King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. The ever vigilant king was also a famed adherent of the truth. One night, when he was silently guarding his capital incognito, he saw a beautiful woman, verily a Devi, clad in red, leave the city. He stopped her, asking, “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?“. She responded, “I am the Goddess of Power. I am leaving this city as the citizens have become criminal, and it is no longer a fit abode for me”. “I understand“, replied Vikramaditya .

Then, another beautiful lady, clad in gold, began leaving. Vikramaditya asked her too “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?“. She replied, “Oh Maharaja, I am the Goddess of Wealth. I am leaving your capital as the citizens have become corrupt, and it is no longer a fit abode for me”.  “I understand“, Vikramaditya relented again.

Finally, a third beautiful lady, clad in white, began leaving. Vikramaditya asked her too, “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?” She replied, “Oh Rajan, I am the Goddess of Truth. I am leaving your people as they have become immoral”. This time Vikramaditya said “Oh Devi, please do not leave. I can live a life without Power and Wealth, but I cannot live a life without Truth. I beg you, please stay in my kingdom“. The Goddess smiled, and said “So, be it.”.

Soon, the Goddess of Wealth returned. Surprised, Vikramaditya asked “Oh Devi, why have you returned?“. She replied “I am the Goddess of Wealth, I reside where Truth resides”.  Then finally the Goddess of Power returned. Amazed, Vikramaditya asked “Oh Devi, why have you returned?”. She replied “I am the Goddess of Power, I reside where Wealth resides”.

The moral of the story, of course, is that power, wealth, pleasure, all can be given up in the name of Truth (of which Dharma is the expression), because they are dependent upon it. This is because men and women of character can lose every material possession in the world, every opportunity for pleasure, every right of power, but keep their character is in their own hands. If character is lost, then all is lost. That is the thinking of the Dharmic Man and Woman, so they prize their character, their Dharma, above Artha and Kama, and even Moksha, because they know Dharma is the path to all three, and therefore, a balanced and harmonious life that is ultimately fruitful.

But if all this is not enough. If you still only care about acquisition of Artha & Kama. If you are not interested in Moksha, don’t have time for Jnana, and care not for the Adhyatmika, let me end with the Laukika for all you materialistic pragmatists.  The essential reality of The Purusharthas was contained in the very same Epic Poem that contained the transcendental Song of the Lord you heard above.

The essence of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Purushartha was summed up as follows by Maharishi Veda Vyasa himself:

Oordhva

References:

  1. Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
  2. Vidura Niti. p.150
  3. Rangarajan, L.N.. Kautilya. Arthashastra. New Delhi: Penguin.1991
  4. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968
  5. Malhotra, Rajiv. “Insiders versus Outsiders: Who Speaks for Our Heritage?”. Infinity Foundation. 2016 http://rajivmalhotra.com/books/the-battle-for-sanskrit/insiders-versus-outsiders-who-speaks-for-our-heritage/

What is Needed for a Civilizational Revival?

A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on August 12, 2015


http://f1.pepst.com/c/3FC320/133183/ssc3/home/007/wearealone.weareblanks/indian_culture.jpg_480_480_0_64000_0_1_0.jpg

As many of you know, we wrote a series on one of the key impediments to safeguarding the future of the Telugu Language, Andhra Culture, and Indic Civilization. Despite the much vaunted Indian Intelligence (which received a fillip from the selection of a certain new tech CEO), we recognise that this was balanced by a quality known as Indian Stupidity. As such we completed a 5 part series that concluded with Culture: The Cure for Stupidity.

http://quotes.lifehack.org/media/quotes/quote-Wendell-Pierce-culture-is-the-intersection-of-people-and-206991_1.png

Having not only identified the ailment, but established the appropriate medicine, the question that now remains before us is: “how to ensure healing and recovery?”.  If Bharatavarsha has been on the cultural defensive for the better part of a millennium, how then is this highly accomplished and ancient civilization to revive itself? In short, What is Needed for a Civilizational Revival?

Contrary to many of our over-memorising, but under-thinking commentators, it is not a matter of simply dusting off a few palm leaf manuscripts and tamra patras to revive our sanskriti and recreate the Satya Yuga. A society, a culture, and indeed, a Civilization, is more than just a collection of texts that has to be implemented when an elite again has agency. What’s more, alleged leadership that spends day in day out reviling its masses and imposing a uni-dimensional vision of its ideal-state has no business, let alone legitimacy, to stake claim to authority. The purpose of leadership, political or spiritual, is to recognise the tremendous responsibilities that come with tremendous privilege. It is not a question of ruling jatis and service jatis. By any schema, all are service jatis only, as every varna is mandated to serve Dharma, not itself. That is the path to a spiritual and cultural revival.

Ancient Srirangam Temple, Trichy, Tamizh Nadu

To catalyse a cultural revival, we cannot merely replicate the past, but must use it to inspire us to build a new future.

While the fundamental motives, the governing ideas which constitute the essential spirit of our culture are a part of our very being, they should receive changing expression according to the needs and conditions of our time.-Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan[1, 9-10]

Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, India

To catalyse a cultural revival, more than mere saastric vidya will be necessary to defend Dharma in the days ahead. Like it or not, mind-boggling material advances have been made, primarily in Western institutions (quietly drawing from the East), that have overwhelmingly increased the sophistication and stakes of man’s material knowledge and power. Entire new fields such as nano-robotics, game theory, information technology, and marketing have come into their own and matured beyond prior mortal conception (at least in this Chaturyuga). Not only learning our own itihaasa, but in depth global history, will become crucial, even disqualifying if found lacking, for any putative cultural leader.

To catalyse a cultural revival, cosmopolitan and worldly-wise women and men will be required to collaborate (rather than compete) and create a response to the vast array of cultural kalakeyas arrayed against them and the Aryavarta. From AIT to ADN, there is an alphabet soup of insidious intellectual mechanisms, memes, methodologies, and meta-groups all salivating at the prospect of carving up Bharata by divide and rule. Semiotics and non-governmental organisations have been equally deployed to devastating effect for which there is no sastra to serve as playbook. Indeed, if culture is the new politics, how can dharmic politicians not be the one’s strategising its re-introduction? Some self-serving, self-appointed circa satya yuga sanskriti senapatis think art, music, and the host of civilizational accomplishments must be left unsullied by leadership—as though mere snobs a-sniping would ensure artistic traditions would remain unscathed from those who would hoodwink the hoi polloi. Yes, I believe these self-same sage views were held by the Russian aristocracy on the eve of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution…

Boris Kustodiev’s 1920 painting “Bolshevik”

To catalyse a cultural revival, national and civilizational culture must be balanced by regional culture. Just as the sub-culture of a single varna or jati cannot be imposed, so too cannot the regional culture of a single group be imposed on the nation at large. Does this mean no Indic national and administrative language? Certainly not. But it does mean regional culture must be allowed to express itself in all its Dharmic glory. After all, both Sanskrit and Tamizh fell from Lord Shiva’s damaru. In light of that, while the nation and even civilization can unite around a common devabhasha and desa bhasha, rashtra bhasha and sanskriti must—absolutely must—be respected. If you want a united India, act like it, and learn the language of your state of residence!

 To catalyse a cultural revival, responsibility will lie not only with the elite, but with the masses as well. All sections will have a role to play in the upcoming upheavals, and will have to determine whether they will give in like so many hedonistic helots to their baser instincts and life of unthinking dependence, or rise to the Himalayan heights of nobility that their ancestors came to define.

Rama
Civilization is shown in respecting different ways & forms of life

As as a result, our vision of Bharat Mata as not only safe, secure, and splendrous, but also as Jagad Guru (teacher to the world), will materialise only with concerted, critical, collaborative, strategic, and serious thinking. This is not the place for woolly-headed, caste-obsessed, insular, and impractical amateurs. It is precisely this reason why this site is open for all, but challenges serious people—the supposed current and future elite—to stop squabbling and competing like jealous, immature children, and work together for the common good. This requires not only a high culture, but a sense of organisational culture. Instead of each moron fighting and operating as an army of one to create an un-collaborating “organism”, each man or woman of serious intellect and inclination must learn to work with others (even rivals) in the name of the common good. This means taking initiative when the need or even opportunity presents itself, having the people skills and discretion to avoid needlessly [ticking] people off, and utilising sense and buddhi to step aside when someone else will prove better at the task.

A man who needs no introduction, Shri Rajiv Malhotra has discussed many of these issues already, perhaps in slightly different terms.

In a recent talk, RM spoke of three components for a cultural revival:

1. knowledge 2. training of leaders 3. institutions. These are the 3 arches that he  listed.

Ever the original thinker (a far rarer quality than is commonly admitted), Rajiv ji has listed three components for reviving our culture and punya bhoomi. These indeed form the required framework. But a strong, fundamental foundation is needed to construct a stable bridge to Nutana Bharata.

As such, we complement his components with our own. While knowledge, training, and institutions will all prove invaluable, there is no point in trying to explain what the expert has already done better. Therefore, this essay will focus on fundamentals. The critical elements to a cultural revival are as follows:

  1. Individual
  2. Family
  3. Community
  4. State
  5. Nation/Civilization

Individual

http://www.andhraportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/originsofstupidity.jpg

Good values make a good individual. Good individuals make a good family. Good families make a good community. Good communities make a good state. And Good states make a good nation. But to accomplish this, as discussed above, we need Awareness, Team ethic, and Bottom up solutions.

To institute good values, the clay itself must be suitably malleable. The aridity of stupidity must be rejected by identifying and curing its origins.  Following that, the individual must then study dharma. Not the philosophical dharma, not the intellectual dharma (both of those are for advanced students), but the everyday dharma,  the practical dharma . This is attained through the proper study, absorption, and most important, the practice of culture. Arts are merely the alankara (ornament) of culture, dharma is its true identity. Proper study of the stepping stones to dharma require learning (in some cases re-learning) sabhyata, saujanya, maryada, and achara. Having understood this, the individual is then prepared to be a valuable and contributing member of a team.

Family

http://www.andhraportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/selfishness1.png

Families are the building blocks of society, which is in turn the building block of culture and civilization. Families raise good dharmic children. Individuals weaned on the welfare state and entitlement economy are selfish and servile, and in some cases, outright vile. Dharma ensures respect and self-respect. Therefore the key to establishing good teams and good families is through rejection of selfishness.

Community

http://www.andhraportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/hqdefault.jpg

Society must operate not on the basis of hermetically sealed communes, but with a sense of community and common purpose. Paths and panths may vary, kulacharas may differ, but dharma is for all. This is because dharma mandates that we think of society before ourselves. Community comes before korika (iccha or personal desire). Therefore, ambition must be rejected.  This is the key to not only community, but also character.

State

The governance of a state (rashtra) or country (desa) requires serious people. One must not only be selfless, and strategic, but also serious. This means not deceiving ourselves about the serious issues that face us, whether it is a newly bifurcated state, or a 65 year old republic, or a millennia old civilization.

It also means producing people of subtlety. One dimensional nationalism, lose the region. Excessive regionalism, lose the nation. Lose Dharma, lose everything. Too much centralisation is brittle. Once broken, the nation or civilization is gone. Too much regionalisation, however, and centrifugal forces result in states being easily divided and played off against each other like puppets. Therefore, we need bottom up solutions, but top-down strategy. Regional variations of civilizational ethos will build “Integral Unity“, which is more flexible and resilient.

Nation/Civilization

rama-coronation

[Ram Raj was not built in a Day] but it was built upon tyaga and nishkama karma (selfless service). When individuals attempt to anoint themselves as Acharyas with no clue to their character, personal agendas come into question.  Work cannot be done in the name of nationalism, but secretly to the benefit of special interests.  Whether dynasty or durbar, individual families or communities cannot operate only in their own interests. All elements in the system must be respected to ensure a single-minded but decentralised dharma, in place of a putative papacy.

It must not seek to directly or indirectly abuse and revile our co-Dharmics, but bring them along not only as “labour”, but as stake-holders, decision-makers, and fellow Bharatiyas. Varna and Jati Dharmas may vary, but it is the principle and uniting sense of Saamaanya Dharma that must be the clarion call. What’s more, in response to the widespread targeting of certain castes, we cannot simply dismiss the very real mistakes that were committed by some sinners against dharma.

As the foremost intellectual kshatriya of the hour has spoke, “There can be no whitewashing here”. All jatis, and in particular our dalit jatis, must be welcomed in this joint-venture of reviving our culture and civilization. Indeed, whether caste itself may or may not disappear, one thing is clear, generational and systematic untouchability (and the terrible offenses against dharma committed by those who would misinterpret it) must be declared null and void.

Whether it is a matter of identifying original varnas or jatis on the basis of last names, etc, it is the height of idiocy to treat 200 million people as “untouchable”, especially when many (or even most) North Indian Dalits abstain from go-mamsa, and quite a few are outright vegetarian and are generally interested in Dharma. Out of curiosity, how many beef-eating, non-Indian (I’m being euphemistic here) marrying upper castes have similarly been “outcasted” and declared patitha? One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too—and untouchability not only by law, but also as a collective social rank must end forthwith! Dalits must be returned to dignity as fellow brothers and sisters in Dharma.

This is the foundation and framework, but what is the woodwork? What is the flesh and blood to the bone structure we have laid before you?

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-i-must-study-politics-and-war-that-my-sons-may-have-liberty-to-study-mathematics-and-philosophy-my-john-adams-302658.jpg

The heart of a culture, or its flesh and blood, is its arts. The soul of our Culture is Dharma, but, this atma is expressed in Language, Literature, Art, Architecture, Festivals, Cuisine, Music, Dance, and now Cinema. As such, cultural revival will necessitate not only studying our Classical Indic Literature or its schools of Art & Architecture, but in updating them so that they are relevant and appealing to the era. When fashions change within a mere decade, what then can be expected after millennia? As such, our approach must be to revive the principle and improvise it for current needs and tastes.

Many of you may now argue, “ok Nripathi, so what’s the problem? Seems straightforward. Let’s implement!” But not so fast. What is it exactly that we are implementing? It is easy to say let us teach good values—but how? It is easy to say let’s create good families—but how? It is easy to say revive a good nation—but how? Frequently in this materialistic world, in this kali yuga, it is not so much what we do, but how we do it. Frequently in this materialistic world it is is not so much what we say, but how we say it.

This must be done not in a pedantic or puerile or even primitive way. It must adapt to time, place, and manner. Stupidity may be the single biggest sickness afflicting Indic Society, but the single biggest obstacle is the gyaani.

The Gyaani Complex: Introduction to the Gyaani

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-thinkers-think-and-doers-do-but-until-the-thinkers-do-and-the-doers-think-progress-will-be-just-anonymous-354304.jpg

Previously we discussed Rajarishi Janaka. The father of Sita was a man not only of astonishing self-control, and virtue, but also of compassion. Indeed, rather than ahankar driving him, it was those with ahankar who chose to test him–a self-realised man who remained on Earth out of compassion to teach those who had not yet attained self-realisation  [1]. This shows that correct interpretation is necessary, based not on questionable translations or ahankar, but Acharyas—real Acharyas.

Similarly there is a story of Maharishi Yajnavalkya, who features prominently in the Upanisads, especially the Brihadaranyaka. Yajnavalkya had grown haughty with pride due to knowledge, and his guru forced him to vomit what had been taught. All the other jealous students therefore quickly turned into partridge birds (tittira) to eat up the knowledge that had been regurgitated, giving the name Taittiriya to the related Upanishad. Today, we have gyaanis (as distinguished from jnanis) and sarvagyaanis, who make false pretense to the truth while turning into little birds to consume vomit, etc, only to vomit it again without understanding what is relevant to the time, place, context. Aiming to be Yajnavalkya, each is a mere Tittira (a bird) seeking to specialise in simplified knowledge, but failing to understand its collective complexity. They quote logic and procedure, but are unable to apply it to their own arguments. This the danger of pompous fools who have knowledge, but not wisdom. Theory but no practice. A pound of practice, however, is worth a tonne of theory.

We must differentiate between adhyatmika and laukika vidya. After all, despite his brilliance and wisdom, would you have asked Sri Ramana Maharishi to be your general? We must also differentiate between vidya and buddhi (not to mention vidya and jnana). Simply because a person is well-read or learned in lore does not make him wise or self-realised. An illiterate can have wisdom from sheer anubhava (experience). Simply because one has memorised the Dharmashastras, does not make him a jnani. Vidya is lost at the end of every life. It is only jnana that makes an impression on the soul, and this comes from humility—in many cases, well-deserved. So do not be bowled over by clever talk and sophisticated phrases. Look for clear logic, not a mere exegesis of it. That is how you know not only whether the proposed action is wise or your path fruitful, but whether your guru is true…or false.

It also means adapting to changed circumstances. In an era where knowledge is power, not only do we need Sastra and Suhstra, but where necessary and justifiable, we must use Sastra AS Suhstra. When the adversary is breaking all the rules, you cannot be so foolishly hidebound and unrepentantly stupid as to continue to observe them to the most trivial letter. This is where maturity, and above all, judgment come from. After all, “Deficiency in judgment is is properly that which is called stupidity”.

Costs of the The Gyaani Complex

Readers may recall our earlier set of tweets on Lessons in Self-Improvement for Bharatiyas. Some may have wondered why we described our gyaanis as Ravana’s sons.

Like Ravanasura, grandson of Pulastya, they are wrapped up in pride about adhyatmic knowledge and lineage rather than asking if their conduct is worthy of the lineages they claim. What’s worse, these same thin-skinned, false preachers of truth take belongings (or ideas) from others and claim them as their own as though they were divinely inspired!—what cheek! As Ravana shamed the great and venerable Saptarishi Pulastya, so too do they shame their progenitors with their lack of character. They are unable to reflect upon their own behaviour and shameless thievery of the original work and property of others (Ravana stole Lanka from Kubera), when it is so obvious that they had neither the knowledge, nor wisdom, nor competence, nor ability to create it in the first place. But what truly haunts them, is they realize they never will…

In their quests to demonstrate their knowledge, they engage in petty one upsmanship, not realising the foolishness, and inability to tell right from wrong, that they have fallen into. Themselves mired in delusion, they label others as deluded. They pusillanimously claim the mantle of Dharma, only to pervert it to their own petty, self-serving ambition, even at the cost of the common societal good. They may come from any caste, but they are perennially obsessed with the idea of it. But this is of no surprise, for they don’t even have the capacity to properly define “dharma”—how then can they teach it let alone implement it and defend it?

It is logic and lesson (niti) that must be digested. Arguments cannot be “well Dharmashastra says this! This is the rule of Apasthamba!”. No other way of life has emphasised time and place more than Dharma. Indeed, it is not for nothing that there were not 1 but 4 separate Dharmasutras (Vasishta, Gautama, Baudhayana, and Apasthamba), each one updating the other and even rejecting whole rules outright or legalities outright as obsolete. Just as the Chhatrapati adopted Ganimi Kava (enemy tactics) as needed, so too must we be open to external ideas and approaches and altogether fresh fields of study. This doesn’t mean ejecting dharma, it means separating the ancillary (or non-essential) from the essential. Discretion.

What’s more, simply because one has read the Arthashastra does not make him or her a master of politics and war. Just as Vidya and Buddhi are different, so too are vidya and karma. It is for this reason Dharmic society traditionally had separate vocations for especially brahmanas and kshatriyas. This is because just as fundamental science is not the same as applied science, so too is vidya different from karma (action). Rajarishi Janaka represented a bridging of the two. In our era, this has become even more critical and standalone, hence the call for baudhik kshatriyas. This is not to disparage one varna or bloat the head of another, or even make the designation dependent on caste lines.

Paleo-purists may decry this as a violation of our astika principles—but these are also the same ahankaris who stood idly by during the criminal disrobing of Draupadi, citing law and rna (debt). They needlessly and endlessly pick fights with many countrymen in the face of a common enemy. Even more tragic, they need a team of supporters just to muster the manhood/womanhood to take on one honest questioner.

Indeed, because stupidity is deficiency in judgment, they might even sacrifice the national cause in the futile hope that they may upstage a superior rival—all in vain. Unable to propose and implement workable solutions—let alone imagine and conceive them—they serve as obstacles to those who do. But true leadership does otherwise, of which a gyaani is not capable. Not only does it show accountability, but vision and implementation as well. In contrast, these “mimic men” of another sort are truly incapable of an original idea, so they viciously and pettily attack anyone who upstages them. Like Ravana, they ride their chariot of ahankar to their doom and demise, taking their kin along with them.

Therefore, our Individuals, of whatever caste, however accomplished and once well-meaning, must reject the Gyaani complex. If not, society must come together and punish them for being the errant school children that they are. It is incumbent upon Dharmic Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and other classes to speak up against such Adharmic behaviour, even if it comes from their own caste and kin. It also requires a new complement to the modern intellectual aristocrat. To assist the Baudhik Kshatriya, we need not the Brahma-Kshatriya, but rather, the Laukika Brahmana.

The Laukika Brahmana

Please note,  while some circles may use the term disparagingly, this is in fact meant to be complimentary. This is because the Laukik Brahmin is not the ascetic and isolated adhyatmic brahmana or the ahankari gyaani, but is simultaneously spiritual and worldly wise. Indeed, the correct distinction for brahmanas in the material world is bhogi brahmana versus laukika brahmana. The Laukik Brahmin may or may not be born in the Brahmin varna or pursue its traditional vocations, but he embodies the ideals of it and the Sattva guna it represents. He does not merely pay lip service to Satya as a means to achieve his ambition (while appropriating the work of others), but actually dedicates himself to working with others to protect it. Because he checks his ego and rejects ambition, he can coolly advise the intellectual Kshatriya who requires fiery Rajas to complete his daunting task.

The true Laukika Brahmana may no longer pursue the old spiritual vocations, but he is not the adharmic brahmana who strays from the spiritual path due to ahankar and svaartha. As the Kali Age, The Age of Disorder, is such that non-traditional, though still dharmic, occupations are permitted so that he may supported himself, the character of the ancient Brahmanas still shines through him.

The time has come for hyperventilating hypocrites and greedy gyaanis to step aside. Baudhik Kshatriyas are the need of the hour, but the need of the day or decade will ultimately be Laukik Brahmanas.

Where will we find such men you ask? They are already among us. They do not make a great show of themselves and their alleged bhiksu bags, but quietly do their work without ego, knowing the work itself is its own reward. I know of one already. He has been a long time supporter, but he is too modest and selfless to allow himself to be named, as he is forever praising others while never seeking praise. Therefore, I will speak of another whom I do not know personally.

Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy has been one of the most tireless voices speaking out for the good of society. While his tam-bram background serves as happy coincidence to this point, it only underscores the validity and need of such truly dharmic men. True, he does come from an orthodox family and holds many views that may seem conservative to us, but in his own way, he does not merely speak for harmonious good in society, but searches for pragmatic ways to achieve it. This is the tri-fold combination of adhyatmic, sastric, and pragmatic that we require.

gurumurthyThe laukik brahmin understands the expertise and even authority with which professionals speak and has the ingenuity to combine it with dharmic principles for appropriate dharmic responses. The laukik brahmana uses his vocation to combine his saastric knowledge with his modern knowledge of the same discipline, and advance civilizational knowledge and understanding. S. Gurumurthy is again illustrative here. Formally trained as a chartered accountant, he has an expert understanding of his field, and so, is in an exceedingly well-placed position study and reflect on ancient finance and economics in the arthasastra, vidura niti, and elsewhere. This practical understanding of needs can then identify the correct saastric principle or even determine if a new rule or text is required altogether. Thus he builds upon knowledge, rather than merely regurgitating it like the gyaani.

When culture itself has been commoditised, how can hidebound gyaanis be expected to provide good counsel? The blind fail to see the import of media shaping tastes. They think Art, Music, Poetry, Cinema etc. cannot or must not be harnessed as mediums to contest false adharmic ideas and reassert dharma. What else can be expected from one who is more concerned with position and privilege rather than principle?

The naivety and stubbornness of the gyaani leads to societal destruction. Neither able to lead the way nor willing to get out of the way, gyaanis stand as vignas to the protection and restoration of society even while chanting the sacred name Vigneswara.

That is the danger of rote-memorisation and blind application of sastras—they do not take into account the time, place, and context. Practices and even entire sastras which applied in one era, may have no place in another, because circumstances have changed. Some of the most unwitting assistants of evil are those who serially cry “adharma” at every response to adharmic attacks. This is the danger of casuistry—often the result of those who first discuss the structure of logic without applying it to their own thoughts or dialogues.

These same characters appeared when Sikhandi fought Bhishma, Yudhisthira uttered the one lie, and Arjuna fought Karna. Where were these alleged high-minded souls during the unjust killing of Abhimanyu or the attempted disrobing of Draupadi? Like Shalya, they develop a “conscience” only at the wrong place and wrong time, all while impotently whining at all other junctures.

When culture itself has become the new politics—can such unworldly whiners be expected to lead us, even spiritually? It is not working a 9-5 job in the modern word that makes us worldly, but being aware of the nature of the world and the designs of adharma and how it uses every tool at its disposal. The Laukika Brahmana is aware and chastises the clinical klibas who use casuistry to misguide the masses. He not only has adhyatmic learning but laukik discretion to not only know what to speak, and when to speak it, but also how to speak it.

In an era when medium is the message, unworldly naifs cannot be expected to show, nor can they be allowed to arrogate, leadership. This is because they have not studied leadership beyond the sastras. When organizations, laws, tactics, strategy, science, art, and even culture have become cataclysmically complex, adhyatmic knowledge must not only be balanced with saastric knowledge, but modern knowledge (desi or videsi) as well.

In Telugu, there is a saying Vajram nee vajram thoney koyyali. You can break a diamond only with another one. We Andhraites know something of this matter, after all, is that not how they split our Andhra?

Samaikya Andhra as Guernica

Recognising how even western economists are now starting to view “caste” (varna/jati) as social capital, Gurumurthy ji attacks stigma and prejudice instead, seeing past mistakes correctly as corruptions brought by hypocrites. Despite his orthoprax household, he speaks of the need for the Saamaanya Dharma, the common dharma—from which individual dharmas originate.

Above all, there is no cognitive dissonance for him between saastric principles and laukik realities. Recognising cookie cutter solutions are not possible, he links not the letter, but the spirit and principle to the correct time, place and manner. Instead of merely paying lip-service to purva paksa, he like Baudhik Kshatriya Shri Rajiv Malhotra, actually conducts it in a continuous and rigourous fashion. He knows his Bairoch as well as his Baudhayana, and his Huntington as well as his Hastamalakacarya. No individual can know the entire global canon (let alone the Indic), but he makes effort to do both, and has been for decades.

Laukik Brahmanas are not born, but made. They embody sattva, study sastra, and adapt to samaya (time). They do not espouse the view of fools crying “it is a kingdom of conscience or it is nothing!”, but understand that enemy tactics must be matched to protect and restore dharma. He or she recognises that knowledge and wisdom not only come from reciting shruti and studying smriti and sastra, but from sadhana/pure-hearted tapas, and most importantly, philosophising. Philosophy has been perverted today to mean any ideology from any rancid corner. Rather, Philosophy literally means “love of wisdom”. Thus the true philosopher (the term by which ancient visitors referred to our brahmanas), does serious original thinking. He thinks and reflects on what the actual problems of society are and how they are to be faced and solutions actualised.

The Baudhik Kshatriya is forever engaged either in conflict, preparing for it, or resting from it. While Rajiv ji has been tirelessly alerting our spiritual (adhyatmic) leaders, as he himself said, there is only so much one man (however talented) can do. As such, Laukik Brahmanas can be in constant contact with the Adhyatmic leaders, to only to gain spiritual knowledge but in turn apprise them of required material knowledge to guard against threats to our ancient parampara, and ultimately, to dharma sanatana. Laukik Brahmanas do not replace the direct contact society requires with these great Paramacharyas via their interaction and discourse, but rather, supplement and complement it.

They can survey the landscape (intellectual and spiritual) dispassionately, and do not have the burdens of training and tactics and taekwondo in modern dialectics. The true brahmana who is pure adhyatmic can pass on our vaidik and saastric tradition (unbroken and uncorrupted by the globalized material world) of which they, and only they, are the keepers. Meanwhile, the true brahmana who is laukik, alerts our true Paramacharyas of the insidious nature and designs of deceitful adharmis (desi and videsi). Duly surrounded and thrashed by these two spiritual powers, where then can the self-serving gyaani hypocrite or collaborator run?

That is the imperative of and the need for the prideless and pragmatic Laukik Brahmana.

The Road Ahead

Some post-mandal pithecanthropi have been circulating various memes aimed at disparaging Dalits in matters pertaining to reservation (itself a complex issue). What’s more, they claim that matters facing many poor Brahmins (particularly impoverished temple priests) are due failure to maintain unity. A united front to join the reservation wars is not the path salvation, but the path to destruction. It is not mandal-maddened vote-bank unity that will secure well-being for Brahmins, but Lok Kalyan.

“Lok kalyan?”, you ask? “Naïve”, you say?—but is it really? The entire purpose of the brahmana varna was precisely that–pursuing lok kalyan. While various Kings would periodically forget their duties, the disciplined spiritual life of brahmanas was meant to ensure an entire philosopher class that would not only teach good values, but embody them. That is what made the brahmana. Not “IQ“, not poseur pedantry, but character. The true brahmana was the embodiment of egolessness, because he knew or at least was aware of Brahman—the source and power of all things, including intellect and learning. The humility that this inspired spurred him on to good conduct and provided not political authority, but moral authority to counsel kings and minister to the masses. While the best poor old Plato could conceive was the Philosopher King (flip a coin on that one), and Aristotle, his rule of the aristos, Varnashrama Dharma was meant to secure sage advice to even the most stern or most sybaritic of kings. The Raja can punish a wrong-doing Brahmin, or even imprison a troublesome one or ten or a hundred, but to routinely ignore the counsel of the entire philosophical class would raise doubts in the country’s confidence in the king and erode his mass support. Wealth, power, and hedonism are all barred to the true Brahmana—that is the price for his moral authority.

Forever in analysis,  the gyaani would otherwise be in paralysis were it not for the original thought of others which he shamelessly and dishonestly appropriates–and is no example to the public. As such, we need fewer gyaanis and far more Gurumurthy’s.

Our attitude must be that of Ekam Samaajam—One society. We may have many varnas, many panths (religions), many duties, but we are one society and civilization of people with a common purpose of state and national good, and a common saamaanya dharma. That attitude, more than anything else, is what is needed for a civilizational revival.

To conclude, we will end rather uncharacteristically, with a tale not from India, that is Bharat, but rather, that pragmatic civilization to the north, China, that is Zhongguo. It is the Parable of The Wheel and the Light:

“Emperor Liu Bang, in the third century B.C., became the first ruler to consolidate China into a unified empire [technically, it was Qin Shih Huangdi…but read on]. To celebrate his victory, Liu Bang held a great banquet in the palace, inviting many important government officials, military leaders, poets, and teachers, including Chen Cen, a master who had given him guidance during the campaign.

Chen Cen’s disciples, who accompanied him to the banquet, were impressed by the proceedings but were baffled by an enigma at the heart of the celebration.

Seated at the central table with Liu Bang was his illustrious high command. First there was Xiao He, an eminent general whose knowledge of military logistics was second to none. Next to him was Han Xin, a legendary tactician who’d won every battle he’d ever fought. Last was Chang Yang, a shrewd diplomat who was gifted at convincing heads of state to form alliances and surrender without fighting. These men the disciples could understand. What puzzled them was how Liu Bang, who didn’t have a noble birth or knowledge comparable to that of his chief advisors, fit into the picture.

“Why is he the emperor?” they asked. Chen Cen smiled and asked them: what determines the strength of a wheel?

“Is it not the sturdiness of the spokes?” one responded. “Then why is it that two wheels made of identical spokes differ in strength?” asked Chen Cen.

After a moment, he continued, “See beyond what is seen. Never forget that a wheel is made not only of spokes but also of the space between the spokes. Sturdy spokes poorly placed make a weak wheel. Whether their full potential is realized depends on the harmony between. The essence of wheel making lies in the craftman’s ability to conceive and create the space that holds and balances the spokes within the wheel. Think now, who is the craftsman here?”

The disciples were silent until one of them said, “But master, how does a craftsman secure the harmony between the spokes?”

Chen Cen asked them to think of sunlight.“The sun nurtures and vitalizes the trees and flowers,” he said. “It does so by giving away it’s light. But in the end, in which direction do they grow?” so it is with a master craftsman like Liu Bang. After placing individuals in positions that fully realize their potential, he secures harmony among them by giving them all credit for their distinctive achievements. And in the end, as the trees and flowers grow toward the giver, the sun, individuals grow toward Liu Bang with devotion.””

Dharmachakra

References:

  1. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968
  2. Gurumurthy, Swaminathan. India’s Culture, Society, and Economy: Past, Present, and Future. http://lookintoculture.blogspot.com/
  3. gurumurthy.net
  4. Is Culture the New Politics? http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-is-culture-the-new-politics-zee-jlf-panelists-debate-2055654
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/07/france-culture-war-united-states
  6. “What Determines the Strength of the Wheel”. http://thellabb.com/what-determines-the-strength-of-the-wheel/. Originally Published in Harvard Business Review .
  7. “Rajiv Malhotra’s Indra’s Net: Seven big ideas and Hinduism’s integral unity. “www.firstpost.com/living/rajiv-malhotras-indras-net-seven-big-ideas-and-hinduisms-integral-unity-2382902.html