Tag Archives: Ramayana

Why Character is so Important

goodcharacter

In our previous article, we discussed how there is a global epidemic of characterlessness. And contrary to characterless gyaanis, waxing eloquent on the glories of their genius and genetically determined birthright to oppress others, it is character that qualifies one for leadership of any sort (political or spiritual). This is not because talent and ability, etc, don’t matter, but rather that one with character will have the commitment to work to overcome deficits in talent and ability (i.e. the tortoise and the hare).

Naysayers may argue saying “Ok, Nripathi, character benefits society, but what does it do for me?”. Therein lies the other problem—the characterless ask, “What have you done for me, lately”.

Character is what gives meaning to life. Without character, everything becomes a consumable, even romance, and romantic partners themselves become interchangeable. The current courtship climate in the so-called “advanced economy”/”developed world” is more akin to musical chairs or Baskin Robbins. That is the reason why Sita & Rama are praised in our society, because neither viewed love and looks as a consumable. In an age where Kings (even his own father) had many wives, Rama only had 1, why? Character.

It is not that other kings did not have character, it is that Rama’s character was the highest. To him, the pleasures of life (even married life) only had meaning through Sita and sharing them with her—rather than successive or replacement trophy wives.  This is because character fundamentally means that who becomes more important than what or how much. YOLO and “Live for Today” are constructs designed to specifically subvert this, because a mania is created causing individuals to rush to gain an experience now…before it’s too late! But this isn’t character, it is consumption, it is vampirism. “If I cannot extract this life experience out of you, I shall extract it from someone else”. This exploitative outlook, in both communists and capitalists, is what defines the current line of characterless economic thinking.

Oordhva

Character is also the counter to circumstance. In life, those who live long enough, realise that their own success is not directly proportional (r^2=1/-1) to their own efforts, talents, or “IQ/Genetic superiority/Molecular perfection”. Circumstances have a critical influence. The historian Herodotus famously wrote “Circumstances rule men, men do not rule circumstances” after his survey of kings, queens, and commoners across civilizations. But if circumstances are so influential to the course of our lives, some ask why bother; why not just go with the flow and accept them via “eat, drink, and be merry”? Circumstances may indeed determine outcomes, but we have the power to determine our response to circumstances.

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Advice for the innocent & naive

When Rama’s circumstances became unfortunate, did Sita start considering other kings or did she remain loyal to him? Did not Ravana try this line of reasoning? After all, contrary to most recent popular portrayals, Ravana himself had looks, lineage, learning, and luxury (not to mention power)—all qualities most women consider, so much so, that many women voluntarily left their husbands to chase after Ravana (and they ended up as degraded objects of pleasure in his harem). Unlike the women of today, why did Sita not “consider her options”? –For the same reason Rama did not “move on” and remarry after she left the world—marriage is more than just about pleasure. Character itself ensures constancy, throughout the various vicissitudes of life.

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What women (& men) should start focusing on again

Character is also what prevents abuse of power. As we see today, power comes in many forms, not just the traditional wealth and power, but knowledge/education, ritual, beauty, intelligence, and yes, even circumstance. Draupadi’s circumstance is the most moving. An empress of royal & religious birth, reduced to bondage and finally disguised servitude in a foreign court….all through no fault of her own.

That is why character is so important. No system, no matter how intelligently designed, can be free of tyranny if the people themselves are completely characterless. It is why Sarasvati initially leaves Ujjain—because the people themselves had become immoral. Lakshmi leaves due to corruption, and Parvati leaves due to criminality. Criminality can be found in all castes and communities of society—character, and a society that values character, is what counters this. But today, India is the society of “Neethulu koodu gudda pettavu” and “Esh karo yaar!”…who has time for character? Having urges is natural, but having standards (for yourself an others) is meaningful.

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That is why, of all the qualities the eminently unromantic cynic Acharya Chanakya praised, the highest ( above all (above even birth)), was character in a potential spouse. It is character that matters most, that forges trust in each other (and in society), that gives meaning to our existence, and that defeats that universal feeling of “being alone” (perhaps that is the real reason why, despite temporary extreme highs, most hedonists are overwhelmed by the epidemic of loneliness today). If we only live for ourselves, rather than each other, then we truly are alone and without purpose.

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Casteists ruin Varnashrama Dharma. This is because for them, caste is the only consideration, the only prism, the be-all-and-end-all of everything. Rather than looking after Desh Kalyan and Lok Kalyan, they say one thing and do another, as all tyrants do. But the greatest virtues are those which are useful to other people.

“all science no philosophy”.

It is character that gives us purpose, and a purpose to our actions, and meaning to any pleasure we feel, and a point (and counterpoint) to our existence. Pleasure for its own sake is exceedingly risky. It does not mean that those seeking pleasure are bad—seeking pleasure is a natural instinct. But the danger arises in that selfish purposeless pleasure (i.e. pleasure as lifestyle—hedonism—or irresponsible pleasure with abandon or cruelty) may lead to gradual, and often undetected changes in our own character.

Sa yathaakaamo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate.[2, 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 character. As your character, so your destiny.

The harmless fun of a youthful indiscretion can lead to life-altering choices. And even those of excellent character can make a mistake. But if we continue to engage in wrong action, then it becomes not only our character, but soon our destiny.

The Flip-side

There are many of course who naturally object that character itself is not objective as it can be faked. After all, Ravana pretended to be an Ascetic, Kalnemi came in the guise of the Rishi, and [Insert here] in the guise of a “Modern Acharya” (to fool all the scientism fanatics). But that is why character is revealed (by circumstance and adversity). Individuals may do all the right things, and say all the right slokas, and even “perform all the right rituals”, but we subconsciously detect something off of about that person, and avoid anointing them “AchArya”. By waiting and watching, we observe their true nature, which incidentally, reveals itself at the right moment, when the Lakshmana Rekha is crossed, or the handler instructs.

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Others of course protest that politics is not for goody-two-shoes, and “we cannot be Satya Harishchandra”. No argument there. Yuga Dharma adapts Sanaathana Dharma to Time, Place, and Circumstance (Yudhisthira found that out the hard way over a game of dice). The Perfect Dharma of the Satya Yuga, drops to the imperfect but Rigid Dharma of the Treta, to the Nuanced Dharma of the Dvapara, to the near-imperceptibly subtle Dharma of the Kali. It is also why Dharma, especially Rajdharma, is necessarily balanced by Niti. Do your duty…but don’t be a dummy.

Even if personal sentiment, courtesy, or even Rna dictate one thing, Dharma determines another, and we must follow it, not for nationalism, not for ritualism, not even for traditionalism, but for our own personal character, which is rooted in Truth. It is Satya (Truth) which gives tradition, ritual, and even the nation their purpose.

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That is why no matter how great a personality may seem, no matter how much knowledge or what-have-you they have to share, if something (or someone) seems too perfect, it probably is.

Character is also why renunciation is considered virtuous. This is because if we are willing to renounce something (if necessary), then we are not beholden to it, we are not enslaved by it. That is why hedonists are pitied as slaves to their senses—just look at a drug addict; what is he/she willing to do in order to get his/her next high? Is it any different than some relationships some “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” and even wives and husbands have today? “Give me this/Do that, or I’ll find it somewhere else, from someone else”. That is also why in our tradition we say:

Na jithendhriyaanaam vishayabhayam | 262

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

Those who have conquered their senses do not fear sensual indulgence [because they can renounce it any time—especially if it risks becoming dangerous to anyone or disgraceful]

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Pleasure comes in many forms, the most obvious being marital. But even pleasure in our other relationships in society (be it with our friends and relatives or…AchAryas). The pleasure of being associated with a group can often countermand obvious higher duties to society. That is why not only the guru-moha of Arjuna to Drona, but also the bandhu-moha (the attachment to relatives) of Lakshmana to Rama also had to be renounced. His separation from Rama before the end of his life was necessary in order to show that despite his fierce loyalty to Rama, he would never let that interfere with his own personal commitment to Dharma. In contrast, we all know what Dushasana was prepared to do out of his loyalty to his brother Duryodhana.

That is why Prema is not Moha. That is why Dharma is so important—because Dharma is the path to perfect character. Rather than quantity of life, it is quality of life, quality of character, that matters. When character is perfect, not only the individual life, but existence itself has meaning, and we choose to continue to exist, not for ourselves, but for others…

In contrast, we have individuals reducing Dharma to only ritual. Ritual has its place, ritualism does not. This ritualism has in fact made  man insensitive and even foolish. Like the hedonist who seeks the series of steps that will grant him physical gratification, the fruitive man ever believes in that series of steps to fruitive rewards—hence their perversion of Vedic Truth.

The subconscious assumption that in any given context of life, almost algorithmically, if we perform x,y,z ritual, we gain the result (“I have completed my task, so I deserve the reward. I have done my job so I deserve my salary”) has made men characterless. Ritual certainly has its value to Dharma, as do the Yagnas that are prescribed in Karmakanda, but it is not the be all and end all as the overcompensating  publicly “hypermasculine” (but privately effeminate) charlatans declare. Ritual serves as a guide and as a regimen for men and women, but it is for a higher purpose. Just as the artist trains to create beauty and the aaesthete trains to appreciate it, the seeker of wisdom trains in ritual, and higher than that, tapasya, to improve character. Hence the traditional phrase: character-building.

But where is the importance of character building today? We want instant results, instant gratification, and seek knowledge only as the algorithm to attain them, rather than to appreciate the results or pleasure or beauty in all their layers. My Right (with pleasure as the aim) vs My Duty (with pleasure as a possible pleasant byproduct. Nishkaamya karma). No wonder women (and now men) are being objectified—it is not their duty to each other that matters, but how they have become objects from which to extract x,y, z, experience or pleasure or aim. No wonder relationship partners and even life partners are so replaceable today (given the epidemic of serial monogamy and polyamory), it is not the person (and her/his uniqueness that matters to us) but the experience or pleasure or objective that can be extracted…or given away.

Ritual & Tapas helps us build character, circumstances test character, but Dharma is the compass for character.  The essence of Dharma is not ritual. The essence of Dharma is Rta (moral order/harmony) which is the expression of Satya (Truth). That is the true purpose of religion (not robotic ritualism and fruitive reward from the Devas), but moral order and harmony in the universe, in the nation, and in the home. The spirit of Dharma is thus Rta and, above all, Satya. If Dharma is the compass, Rta is the Cardinal Direction, but Satya is the inner magnetism.

And that is the problem today. Ritualism has resulted in precisely the type of societal incompetence that continues to plague the “Modern” Hindu. This being the Kali Yuga, whatever the protestations and prevarications of the ritualist right, religion too has undergone corruption and all varnas too have been guilty of this. As Acharya Chanakya wrote, “A fish first rots from the head”. Ignore the charlatans, and seek what you know to be true in your heart: the Truth. That is the spirit of our age-old Dharma. It is not Rna-meva Jayate or Ritual-meva Jayate, but Satyameva Jayate—this is the spirit of our tradition, and shame on the selfish creatures who define it otherwise. Their agenda is known for all who see through their characterlessness.

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.

Aesthetics

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What is beauty?—perfect nobility. What is ugliness?—imperfect character.

That is why real art about the outward expression of inward significance.

Even an ugly thought can be give attractive expression. It is only after we study the inner essence that we look beyond the makeup. It is why aesthetics is predicated upon the moral aesthetic of a society.

That is also why aesthetics cannot simply be translated as rasa, but is in fact rasalankara. The beautiful, ornamented expression of the flavours of life. Even the disgusting can be presented in aesthetically pleasing ways. Literalism is not the highest sophistication. Mere outward shows, even to the gods is not enough. It is pureness of heart, even with Bhakti.

Bhakti is important. But as with ritual, Bhakti can’t be the be all and end all for responsible citizens. Blaring Bhakti songs at 180 decibels does not substitute for having actual Godliness in your heart. Merely showing your Bhakti (or even feeling it while stomping over others at Temple) is not enough. Bhakti is not about being a whirling dervish whipping oneself into a public frenzy, and advertising it to all, but in feeling spiritual oneness with the Divine and having gratitude in your heart.  Those who advertise their religiosity the most are usually the ones who feel sincerity the least.

As with ritualists, so with the bhakti brigade. First a caveat: One should never dream of harassing either in their private dharmic endeavours…it is a matter between them and God. Bhakti, as with Knowledge, as with Ritual, is important, very important, and kudos to those who follow those margas. But the problem is when any of these become a substitute for character. That is the importance of Atma-vichara (introspection), and Viveka (distinguishment between right and wrong), and parinamavasya (willingness to change). The outwardly uber-religious donkey who justifies his ill-bred and even adharmic behaviour on account of his performance of ritual or bhakti kirthana is one who has completely missed the message to begin with. The path to perfection is not a one or two step move. It requires constant introspection of whether or not you are not only fulfilling individual duties, but general duties to society as well. But Bhakti has become a convenient excuse for individuals to forego any introspection let alone concrete accountability for civic negligence. “I work job, raise family, do puja…I am not responsible for anything else…who are you to tell me…I go to temple!”

When individuals so stubbornly dig in, constantly criticising or expecting change from others rather than asking whether they themselves might be in the wrong…this too is another type of characterlessness. That is why, time and again, we have said that the most valuable virtues are those useful to other people. Going to temple is very good, but it cannot be a shield for bad and irresponsible behaviour—otherwise it is hypocrisy.  Doing ritual is good, but if you use that as an excuse to justify misbehaviour or develop greed for power, then it too is hypocrisy. All these things exist to perfect ourselves—merely doing them does not mean we have already attained perfection…no matter what mummy says.

Some men think they are God’s gift to women, and many women think they have license to behave as if they themselves were gods. That is the danger of Ego—it divorces us from the onus, or even the basic responsibility, to ask whether we were in the wrong and need to either do better or correct ourselves. Introspection. But we live in a time when individuals can be proven wrong, without any facts on their side, and they will still stubbornly say “I stand by what I said”. Bear in mind, this brazening out is often not even a matter of Bhakti and Faith, but simply Ego on simple matters like history. By all means, keep doing whatever makes you feel closer to the Divine, but for the love of God, start taking responsibility for your own actions. All the patriarchy memes in the world won’t change the fact that a real man is one who takes responsibility for his own actions. That is what real character is and why it is so important.

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Have you done everything that can be reasonably expected of you?

Have you done contributed anything tangible at all to the cause you hold dear?

If you can’t do much, have you given minimal support or more to those that are?

Have you even thought about these questions while you were stuffing your face with samosa?

That’s our problem, people who are all talk but no action. Content that they have fulfilled their spiritual responsibilities they feel no obligation for their civic responsibilities—but they whine in impotent profanity or wait for Kalki.

From Satya Harishchandra in the Satya Yuga to Yudhisthira in the Dvapara to general Krishna Niti in the Kali, Dharma too has had to adapt, in order to protect Satya, sometimes with asatya. Chhatrapati Shivaji has embodied this. Similarly, Anusuya, Lopamudra, Sita, Sati, Savitri remain the highest standards of not only personal character, but moral character, and should remain so. Shakespeare may have said “Frailty thy name is woman” in Hamlet, but our Civilization has proven otherwise through women of character who held fast to their Dharma, whatever their external delicacy or circumstantial difficulty.

But character is not only determined by youthful pasts, but the behavioural present. Along with sexual morality there is ethical integrity and commitment to the common Dharma, the Saamaanya Dharma. Along with the golden Pativrata is the silver Sahadharmacharini of Kunti, Draupadi, Ahalya, Tara, & Mandodari fame. Arguably there is even a bronze (or copper/tamra) standard for women who are culturally & civilizationally loyal, whatever their complications. Moral judgment and condemnation is easy, living and leading by example is hard. If you demand character in others, demonstrate it yourself. Otherwise, expect to receive what you yourself have lived (whether you know it or don’t). Those who live for Dharma include aspirers to Seeta-Rama, but they also include those who have lived Kunti-Pandu.

Character is 3 parts:

1.Moral Character (living according to Moral Standards, religious, sexual, etc)

2.Personal Integrity (holding true to your obligations, beliefs, and promises)

3.Ethical Civility (treating other with respect and acting for societal good)

For too long, we have only emphasised the top most and used that to excuse all-sorts of treacherous behavior (“well, he goes to temple and does all the rituals, etc”). The net result is youthful allergy to morality or any sort of sexual constraint or personal restraint, due to this hypocrisy. But a moral or sexually moral traitor is still a traitor. Rather than browbeating youth from the inside out, encourage them to live with character from the outside in. Let us start with basic ethical civility, then go to personal integrity, and then some semblance of Sexual morality. Educate and inculcate the highest standards, yes. Teach them Sita & Rama. But also show them the way back if they take unfortunate detours. Dignity is not brow-beating. Dignity is not severity. Dignity is self-respect. People will fail and fall, but at least they will rise again, and seek to live lives of character and dignity.

DharmaMandir

It is not simple about karma, but about kriya (doing). Actual doing. Actually doing something to improve something, some small aspect of the world, the nation, the state, the city, or even the community around you. Something![Ram Raj] was not built in a Day. The characterless have all the time in the world to criticise others and give gyaan about what others should be doing…but what are you actually doing, gyaani? Simply hiding behind past glories of your caste or ancestry does none of us any good.  What you actually do today is how posterity will judge you tomorrow.

Character, after all, is not simply a matter of personal entry into svarga or praise from your parents or even personal success. It is a matter of national & civilizational survival.

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References:

  1. Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
  2. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968

Personalities: Sagara

Sagara,_a_Vedic_King_and_ancestor_of_Rama

 As we’ve argued before and as we’ve seen from the last few articles, the time to put an end to this Colonial Narrative of the “Invasions Idea of India” has arrived. The history of the Pratiharas and the Paramaras and the Vijayanagara Rayas are all forgotten for those who wish to downplay notre histoire militaire. Can’t let those yindoos get uppity, n’est pas? Ironically, British history is itself the story of invasions, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Brutus (legendary Exile of Troy), and on to the Romans, the Angles & Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans (and apparently now, the Pakistanis…).

From the Chinese to the Persians to the Greeks to even the propaganda heavy Brits & continental Europeans, all major civilizations have faced invasions at one time or another. The question has been whether they went extinct like Zoroastrian Persia and Pagan Rome and Pre-Norman Britain, or whether they fought and lived for another day, like Dharmic India.

For all their complaints about the Puranas, the same British colonial propagandists, I mean, historians, had no problem using some apparently forged “Yuga Purana” as proof of some imagined Indo-Greek campaigns in Northern India (bolstered by possibly forged coins, no less). As we demonstrated in our previous article, the Yavanas of the Puranas didn’t refer to Greeks, but excommunicated Vedic Indians who lived in Afghanistan, and later spread West to Persia and beyond. The British colonial historians purposefully interpreted things in a way to ensure their purposes of self-glorification.

But since our anglicised Indians—and even a few odd man-children moonlighting as internet hindus— still operate within various colonial and neo-colonial boxes, let us give one Purana for another. Yavanas are in fact mentioned long before the Yuga Purana, in the Harivamsa Purana for example, and a mighty monarch of the Solar Dynasty, the Great King Sagara, is recorded to have defeated the Yavanas.

One wonders if western “Indologists” will insist that this Great, Great Grandfather of Bhagiratha (who brought down the Bhagirathi) and ancestor of Sri Rama, was in fact fighting these same Yavana/Indo-Greeks. “Of course not, dear boy, these ‘Yavanas’, were defeated by Indians…how the devil could that be possible?”. Umm,  Wadgaon? Chillianwala? There are, of course, more “historical” examples of Indian victories over invaders, not just temporary, but even permanent (i.e. Huns, Sakas, Battle of Rajasthan, etc). But the benchmark for all of these must necessarily begin at the beginning.

Now that foreign double-standards have been exposed, we may now start with the Story and Achievement of the Great King Sagara of the Suryavamsa: Repeller & Humiliator of Invaders.

Background

SuryaDev

Maharaja Sagara was more than a mere Emperor or legendary King. He was not just the ancestor of the noble Bhagiratha and the divine Sri Rama. Sagara was a Dharma-rakshaka in the true sense, and set an example as to how one must single-mindedly defeat, uproot, and punish those who dare set eyes upon our sacred lands, let alone invade them.

Previously we discussed Svayambhuva Manu of the Svayambhuva Manvantara, who is the progenitor of all mankind per our tradition. The present manvantara, however, is the Seventh, and is called Vaivasvata. It is named after Vivasvaan whose son Vaivasvata Manu, from Dravida desa, is the present Manu. His son Ikshvaku is the namesake for the illustrious Ikshvaku branch of the Solar Dynasty. From this lineage came many a mighty, noble, and truly Dharmic King. The names Harischandra, Ambarisha, Raghu, and above all, the towering Rama Dasarathi himself, dot the tree of this family. But one name has not received its due in the present time, and that is the name of Sagara.

Lineage

IkshvakuLineageIkshvakuSagara

It may often be wondered whether it is the Solar Dynasty that itself produces such illustrious kings or whether illustrious kings themselves naturally seek out the Sun. In any event, the son of King Bahu (a.k.a Bahuka) and Queen Madhuravani (also called Kalindi), is a towering figure in an already towering lineage. The dynasty which began with Ikshvaku and leaves off at Sumitra(at least officially…) , had yet another worthy in the Sagara of Sixty Thousand Sons. From Legend to History, it is Niti and Dharma which stand the test of time. These are the examples, the nidarsana katha, that educate us on proper conduct, both private and public. If adversity is the test of men (and women), then let the ambitious prove themselves on their own merit, like mighty Sagara. He, whose deeds earned him his place in this brilliant vamsa, had many worthy forebears and successors.

After his father was driven out of Ayodhya by the Haihayas and their Yavana, Saka, and Pahlava allies, he went into exile in the forest. There he eventually took to penance and passed away. His chief wife wished to join him on the funeral pyre, but was prevented by the Rishi Aurva, who stated she was pregnant. She was to give birth to a mighty Emperor who would avenge his father and restore his dynasty to greatness. He was named Sagara as he was ‘one who could absorb poison’. His jealous step-mother attempted to poison his mother Madhuravani when she was pregnant with him. Nevertheless, due to divine grace, poison was turned to nectar, and he was born healthy.

He was a gifted student and a talented prince, mastering the Vedas, Vedangas, Politics, Arts, and the Art of War. Appropriately for this dynasty, he was a master archer, perhaps a sign of greater things to come. A great bhakta of Lord Vishnu, he attained success at a young age, becoming virtually invincible in war, and a conqueror in his own right, ruling righteously. He married Princess Sukesini of Vidarbha and the lady Sumati, daughter of Maharishi Kashyapa. He would become the father of 60,001 sons.

SagaraSons

Nevertheless, while he remains celebrated for his descendants, he is worthy of remembrance and respect for his own righteous valour.

Invasion

Now that the motivated nature of “invasions of India” has been illustrated for neophyte readers, it is important give an example of exactly why we must not be so naïve and conventional in order to be thought of as “credible” in the present time. When the history of the Kings of Britain can begin with a Trojan Prince, when Rome begins with Romulus & Remus (reared by a wolf), when Homer himself made reference to Greek gods on the plains of Ilium, the time has come for the legendary history of Hisarlik to be matched and exceeded many times over by our own. That foreigners have long cast their eyes on the sona chidiya of India is not news; but it needs to be understood that many from the Yavanas of Yore onwards, were made to pay the price for their insolence and audacity. Sagara is the proverbial patron Pitr for that.

MaharajaSagara

Oath and Victory over the Yavanas

When Prince Sagara came of age and was crowned King of Kosala, he learnt of the invasion of the Haihayas and their Yavana allies, and swore an oath to defeat and drive them out.  With the blessings of his teacher, Rishi Aurva, he set out on campaign and was victorious.

But Sagara did not just defeat and forgive the Yavanas, like so many proverbial Prithiviraj Chauhans of the present age. He crushed them, utterly uprooted them, and taught them a lesson they would never forget. He sent a clear message that there is a price to pay for those who plan to try to take our territory. Read for yourself:

SagaraDefeatsYavanas

 

Achievements

Despite the fact that per the traditional Pauranic reckoning Sagara came from a very ancient period of Sacred History (the Satya Yuga), he nevertheless, provides a steely example of resolute opposition to invasion, castigating those who would dare transgress our lands and cast designs upon us. He also demonstrated fortitude in the face of formidable enemies.

But although the Haihayas received a set-back, they grew in power, and their dominions stretched from the gulf of Cambay to Ganga-Yamuna Doab, and thence to Banaras. They overthrew the kingdoms of Ayodhya and Kanyajubja, and many other kingdoms in the north-west, with the co-operation of various foreign tribes. The king of Ayodhya driven from his throne, took refuge in the forest, and died there, leaving a child Sagara. Sagara, on reaching manhood, defeated the Haihayas, and regained Ayodhya. He extended his campaign, crushed the Haihayas in their own territories, and subdued all the other enemies in North India. India was thus saved from age-long struggles and depredations, bringing ruin and carnage in their train.” [1,69]

War

He is said to have warred with and conquered the Saka, Yavana, the Kamboja, the Parada, and Pahlava [6]

In war, Sagara was a veritable Indra, so much so that Indra himself is said to have been concerned, and disturbed his Ashvamedha. He did so by tying the white horse beside Maharishi Kapila, resulting in the misunderstanding by the 60,000 sons of Sagara.

Skilled in archery and the other arts of War, the stern Sagara destroyed his enemies, drove them out of Ayodhya and restored the glory of his Dynasty. He conquered numerous kingdoms and became an Emperor.

Empire

Per R.C.Majumdar, Sagara ruled a vast empire across the Aryavarta:

When Sagara established his empire over Northern India, the only noticeable kingdoms that survived were the Videha, Vaisali and Anava (descendants of Anu) kingdoms in the east, Kasi in Madhyadesa, and the Yadava kingdoms in Vidarbha, and on the Chambal. After the death of Sagara, the overthrown dynasties seem to have extended their authority northward over the Haihaya territory.”[2, 69]

Jain sources refer to him as one of the Chakravartins (Universal Emperors).

Ashvamedha

SagaraAshvamedha

Despite his great accomplishments, Sagara is perhaps most famous for the Ashvamedha yagna, which raised to prominence his own descendants. The privilege and aim of every great Dharmic king is to assert his supremacy by guarding the sacred horse that travels as it pleases. Kingdoms which do not pay homage must face war against the army accompanying the ashva.

As previously mentioned, Sagara’s 60,000 sons were known to be quick-tempered, and so when Indra fooled them into thinking the venerable Sage Kapila was responsible for stealing the horse, they aggressively approached and berated him. The tapas and punya of this muni was so great, that by merely opening his eyes, these sons of Sagara were burnt to ashes. Sagara was initially devastated, but was told that one of his descendants would redeem his sons by bringing down the Ganga through penance. His heir apparent Asamanjas proved unworthy of the throne, and so he forced to abdicate in favour of his son Anshuman. Anshuman failed to bring down the Bhagirathi, as did his son Dileepa (the first one). Finally, the Great Great Grandson of Sagara succeeded, to eternal fame. Sagara himself therefore was the paramount sovereign, but also, the fountain of the family who changed the face of India itself.

Legacy

 SagaraDescendants

Standing tall among the tallest line of India’s illustrious kings of past, Maharaja Sagara is more than an epic ancestor or a literary reference, he is a great figure of our Pauranic history in his own right, and deserving of his rightful place in it.

He will forever be associated with the name Bhagiratha, and in the process, the Ganga itself. Legendary though these days are, they are intertwined with the story of India’s most sacred river and the Solar race that is eternally associated with her.

Bhagiratha

 Ramayana

return of rama

It is perhaps unsurprising that in a lineage consisting of such noble figures as Satya Harishchandra, Ambarisha, Bhagiratha, Raghu, and Dasaratha, that Sagara would feature so notably, so early on in the Ramayana. That Rama is the Ikshvaku-kula-thilaka is beyond a doubt, but that he represented the peak of an already majestic mountain of maharajas is oft-forgotten.

Beyond the Ramayana, Sagara is mentioned in other texts such as Harivamsa (attached to the Mahabharata) and the Vishnu Purana.

Exemplar

Sagara may not be considered an “historical personality” per our modern history, but is undoubtedly a figure worth of veneration from our Sacred History. When the British start with the legendary Trojans Aeneas & Brutus, the Romans with Romulus and Remus, and the Chinese with the legendary Xia Dynasty, there is no reason we cannot start with Sagara. Sagara may not be the first of our kings even in our Legendary history (that credit goes to Svayambhuva Manu), but he was arguably the first in the present age to provide an example on the attitude to have and how to deal with foreign invaders.

More than the grandsire of Bhagiratha, more than the ancestor of Rama, the great King Sagara is an example of stern, serious, and strategic defense of Dharma and its sacred lands, that is required in the present time. It has no time for boorish babbling, pedantic piffle, idle talk, self-righteous moralising, counter-productive caste obsession, cowardly silence, or childish infighting . It requires, instead, single-minded focus to root out those who would do us and our Vedic heritage harm.

It requires understanding how to work together and collaborate internally against those who cooperate externally against us. But above all, Sagara provides a shining example of how since even legendary times, we have tales of successfully defeating invaders. India is not a product of Invasion; India is a product of victory over Invasion…(no matter how long it takes). If those who control the past, control the future, let us take back control of our past, by taking control of our present. Reject those weaving colonial and neo-colonial memes by hook-or-by-crook, and do your duty to Dharma first. Otherwise,  you not only will have no seat at the table in the future, but you will have no legitimacy while  pontificating like paper-tigers now.

Let the Legacy of the Mighty Emperor Sagara be our example, and let us redeem ourselves, by vindicating our forebears, not through boastful claims, but great and dharmic deeds.

ShriRam

 

References:

  1. Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaji (Pandit). The Age of Buddha, Milinda, and Amtiyoko. Guntur: Sri Ajanta Printers.1956
  2. Majumdar,R.C.Ancient India. MLBD: Dehli.2003
  3.  Ramayana. http://www.valmikiramayan.net/ayodhya/sarga110/ayodhya_110_prose.htm
  4. Srimad Bhagavatam. http://srimadbhagavatam.org/canto9/chapter8.html
  5. Wilson, Horace Hayman (Ed.).The Vishńu Puráńa: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition.
  6. Balfour, Edward. The Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia. London: Bernard Quarditch. 1885

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

 

Shubha Sri Rama Navami

Ram-Navami-Jai

Happy Rama Navami! Shri Rama Navami Shubhkamnayein! Jai Shri Ram!

It’s been quite the back to back celebration of holidays, but none is more beloved than the day of the birth of our most beloved figure.

Born on the 9th day (Navami) of the Month of Chaitra per the Hindu Lunar Calendar, he is the Seventh Avatara of Lord Vishnu in this Manvantara. He is the ideal man, the ideal husband, the ideal brother, the ideal father, and the ideal king.

Ignorant revisionists criticize his actions, but forget that for a king, his subjects come even before his own family. As Rama was the polar opposite of individualism and selfishness, the small, self-interested person of the Kali era has difficulty understanding the concept of tyag, self-sacrifice, that he and his wife, brothers, and sisters-in-law all represent.

Strength with Gentility, Valour with Compassion, Knowledge with Wisdom, Power with Restraint, Wealth with Charity, Victory with Magnanimity, Achievement with Humility,  Obedience with Conscience, Authority with Love, Companionship with Responsibility, he is the very embodiment of Virtue and Grace.

May his qualities ever inspire us.

Happy Sri Rama Navami. May this blessed day of Bhagavan Rama’s Birth and Marriage bring tidings of happiness, prosperity, and blessedness. Let the message of Maryada Purushottam, the Shiromani of the Raghus, the Best of Bharatas, resound throughout the ages:

Dharma Protects those who Protect it.

rp_Dharmachakra-300x300.png

Nara Dharma

maryadapurushottam

As the natural next step to our previous article on Stree Dharma, is its complement, Nara Dharma.

Traditionally, The Dharmasastra and Puranas have provided man with insight on what Dharma is, and both confirm the Veda as the ultimate authority of the Dharma which they express [1,4]. While Dharmasastra provides injunctions, Purana provides examples and demonstrates context-sensitivity. These were further illumined by various Commentaries such as the Mitakshara and formal law digests such as the Vyavahara Nirnaya.[12] Nevertheless, much has changed since the composition of the last major Dharmasutra (Apasthamba). As such, it is imperative that in the present time, rather than inventing Dharma out of thin air, the Principles of Dharma are restated appropriately for modern context. While it is true that a number of Sampradayas (paths/communities) and Panths (religions) have had Swamis and Saints do the same, the time has come for the declaration of a modern Saamaanya Dharma, the common and foundational dharma, across caste and creed.

We cannot turn back the clock and we must understand that society has changed, and we cannot force-fit stone tablets from another Millennium or Yuga into the present one.  Dharma must adapt to the present time.

With that in mind, having reviewed Sastra, Smriti, Itihasa, and Purana,  we present a Dharmic guidebook of Principles for Young Bharatiya Men, of all castes and creeds, to ensure society guides them, and also educates them on being ethical citizens, equal stakeholders, and responsible leaders in the Revival of our Civilization.

I. Introduction

Historically, Dharmasutra was appended to the Grihyasutra, itself ultimately part of the greater corpus known as Kalpasutra. [1,11] The historic division of Kalpasutra (ritual) into Grihya (domestic rites) and Srauta (yajnic offering) naturally was focused on a more limited audience, in a less universally literate time. Nevertheless, the Dharma of all four traditional classes of society was in fact described, just with varying degress of expansiveness and attention. The traditional phases (ashramas) of brahmacharya (student/celibate), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (hermit), sanyaasa (renunciate) still apply based on one’s jati, varna, or panth and modified for the present context.  They are described in great detail by Apasthamba and his predecessors. While Varnashrama Dharma was the focus there and then, none of that obviated the existence of a Nara Dharma. In fact the traditional name for this has been Purusha Dharma, dharma of the Male. But in the present time the word Purusha has been affected in its meaning, and the word Nara implies the complete human male, including the family man.

As such, while there is varnashrama dharma, there is also dharma of the nara. Before a male is a brahmana, a kshatriya, a vaisya, or sudra, he is first a man. And  to be a good brahmana, or kshatriya, or vaisya, or sudra, one must first be a good man. That is the foundational dharma applicable to all jatis, varnas, sampradayas, and panths which we focus on today.

At a time when Bharatavarsha is beset by bands of barbarians of all sorts, those who call themselves Dharmikas, must first break the barbarity within themselves imposed by wrong practice and frequently foreign fashion. In the quest for modernity, we have forgotten our morality. In prizing knowledge, we have forgotten wisdom. In seeking development and sophistication, we have forgotten character. It is time to remember who we once were, and revive the ideal of men we have the potential to be.

II. Nara Dharma

samudraram

  1. Sukhasya Moolam Dharmam. The root of Happiness is Dharma.
  2. Maathru Devo Bhava. Mother should be treated as God. She is the first Guru.
  3. Streeya Maryada Uttama. Honouring women is the Best Path.
  4. Pithru Devo Bhava. Father should be treated as God.
  5. Acharya Devo Bhava. Acharya (spiritual educator) should be treated as God.
  6. Atithi Dharma. Today rather than treat as God, observe Dharma with Guest.
  7. Uddaret atmana atmanaam. One should elevate one’s self through education in & beyond school.
  8. Sadacharam leads to cultivation of good qualities in individual and all. Nithya & Naimittika Karma facilitate the fulfillment of Svadharma. Practice them.
  9. Knowledge is not Wisdom. Ergo, respect those who are elder to you, so that you may gain their wisdom and in turn be respected by those younger to you.
  10. Vedic knowledge is Not for Sale. Those who study the Vedas should observe the spiritual guidelines it requires during and beyond the student phase.
  11. Discretion is the better part of Valour
  12. Greed is Not Good. Practice daya, dama, dana.
  13. Selfishness is the real root of all evil
  14. Silence is Golden
  15. Culture is the Cure for Stupidity
  16. Duties balance Rights.You are not just an Individual, but part of a Society.
  17. Jyestha braatha dvitiya pitra. Elder brother is as a second father.
  18. Learn to be a good Lieutenant
  19. Tyajet ekam Kulasyarthe, Gramasyarthe Kulam tyajet; Gramam Janapadasyarthe, Atmarthe prithivim tyajet
  20. Yatha Raja tatha Praja. Yatha Praja tatha Raja. Lead by example. Be the change you want to see.
  21.  A place for Everyone and Everyone in his Place. Win as a Team.
  22. Pursuance of academic goals with intent to be useful not just to self but to society at large is a must. Studies are good. Study of Niti is better. Study of Dharma best of all.
  23. Traditional dharmic principles are not in favour of either drinking or smoking. Even today it is advisable to follow these injunctions, but if one chooses otherwise, then it should be done responsibly with consideration for health, safety and reputation.
  24. Traditionally, it is not advisable to indulge in pre-marital sex. In the age of STDs, cancers and unwanted pregnancies, it is still the best advice but if a young man chooses otherwise, then the same advice as given for 23 above holds the same.
  25. Conjugal relations between the husband and wife have to be mutually respectful and fully consensual. A man who pressures his wife into immoral acts, sins. Pursuit of Kama should be in line with Dharma.
  26. Conjugal relations while being for pleasure should not lose sight of the procreation aspect. Sex for pleasure only is not the goal of a marriage and procreation has to also be a goal so as to bring forth and/or raise progeny to preserve society.
  27. Financial decisions and planning for the future has to be joint exercise between the husband and the wife. Saving for a rainy day should be the goal in order that those in your care do not suffer hardship.
  28. In-laws & Parents have to be respected and consulted on decisions that impact them. They have to be looked after with respect & dignity if they are staying with you.
  29. Grihastha dharma Sampoornaha
  30. Prathama kumara uttaradhikarin
  31. Age gracefully and see to it that you withdraw respectfully from your children’s lives once they become independent and start their own lives. Advise but don’t interfere.
  32. Karmanye vadikaraste, ma phalesu kadachana

Why was Bhagvan Ram called Maryada Purushottam? It is not just because he practiced Maryada (propriety & courtesy), or that he was the ‘Best of Men”(uttama purusha), but because he was the embodiment of Nara Dharma. Jatis and Varnas may vary, but through his life we understand the nuances of Dharma and the various dilemmas he faced. Kshatriya or not, all can learn from his example and understand through him that society comes before self. That is the dharma he taught.

However, per our sacred history, Sri Rama was born in the Treta Yuga, thousands upon thousands of years ago per our reckoning, to say the least. His actions were conducted given certain assumptions, indeed iron principles, of his time, which we do not find today. Honour of women was held in higher sanctity than it is in the present time, so concern for the safety of women was not as high as it must be now. Younger brothers were far, far more loyal in his time, than they are now. And citizens were far better in his time than they are now. As such, his dharma must be restated and adapted to the present time. Nevertheless, he remains the ultimate example for all time.

Before we commence with the exegesis of these principles, we will actually present a separate section focused specifically on principles two and three. These have been expanded to discuss a sub-dharma under Nara Dharma: Nara Dharma to Naari. Of late, there has been a movement to over masculinise all things in the name of reviving masculinity. Reviving Masculinity is indeed an exquisite goal, particularly in an era of Mama’s boys.

But reviving Masculinity doesn’t mean showing contempt to women. I wonder, when did the Itihasas and Puranas refer to the “Fatherland”? When did we consider women as weak? True, average males are said to have 3 times the upper body strength of the average female, and modern armies absolutely should realise this before placing women in frontline combat. But as Swami Vivekanananda, another advocate of strong minds and strong, masculine bodies, said, “which man can give birth?”. Inner strength and outer strength are complementarities and not mutual exclusivities.

It is Bharat Mata, as Bharatavarsha is our Maathru Bhoomi. It is the same even in my Maathru Bhasha. In countering our enemies, let us not seek to become like them. Our Civilization represents mankind’s cause precisely because it respected womankind.

Stay true to our tradition. By respecting women, boys become real men. By understanding how to interact with ladies, we become real gentlemen. And here is that Dharma.

III.Nara Dharma to Naari

sitaram

If there is a Naari Dharma, then surely, there must be a Nara Dharma to Naari. If rights come with responsibilities, then men who seek to assert their rights must remember that they too have responsibilities under the Dharma, especially to women, their other half. Therefore, here we summarise Nara Dharma to Naari.

  • Maathru Devo Bhava
  • Streeya Maryada Uttama
  • Protect thy society. Neglect not thy wife.
  • Daughters are Music of the home

§. Maathru Devo Bhava

Man’s relationship with Woman is not 1 dimensional, as it may be in other modern societies. In fact, in our Tradition, we view women first and foremost as mother.

It is first Maathru Devo Bhava…then Pithru Devo Bhava…then and then only Acharya Devo Bhava…and in this era, depending on his character and cultural origin, maybe Atithi Devo Bhava. But above all a mother. Because even if she is not our mother, she is a potential one, or a mother to someone else. This is the foundation of respect for women in our society. And it has been since time immemorial.Though modesty (of demeanor and dress) are advisable for both  genders, it is mentality that matters more. Also, it ensures healthier relationships with the woman who will be the mother of our kids. Mother is the storehouse of all good things.

It is not for nothing we say…

This doesn’t mean being a mummy’s boy. It means understand that to have not just the love but the respect of a real mother is to be on the side of goodness itself.

§. Streeya Maryada Uttama

Those of you familiar with Sanskrit and Sanskrit-enriched languages (like my own honey sweet Telugu) know that a single phrase, can mean many things. So it is with this one.

Firstly, Streeya Maryada Uttama

Honouring of women is the best path. The first lesson we are taught is Mathru Devo Bhava, and for good reason. Mother is the first guru. How can we not honour her? In our tradition, there is no lower form of life than an ungrateful student. A criminal may not be able to help his criminal tendencies, but even a thief looks after his mother. But like the Rakshasa who immediately seeks to use his boon against Mahadev, so too is the son who fails to respect and look after his mother. Showing honour to women, especially the one who gave you birth, is the best path not only for men, but for women, and for civilization itself.

Secondly, Streeya Maryada Uttama

Protecting a woman’s honour is of highest importance to man. More than his, more than his family’s, more than even his religion’s, is protecting a woman’s honour. In fact, it is the essence of all true religion. A society that fails to fight for its women’s safety, a society that seeks not to safeguard its stree, is no society at all. Dharmena heenaha pashubhih saamannaha. One without Dharma is like a beast.

In the great divide between “honour societies” and honourless societies are various questions about whether honour itself should be honoured. But whether a woman is honourable or not, the Shakti within her should be honoured through man’s good behaviour.

This means first and foremost controlling himself around her and not behaving like an animal. Man’s own civilization spouts from and depends upon his relationship and treatment of women. A man who barters his own woman’s honour or preys upon the women of others, is no real man. Whether she’s his woman, she’s someone else’s woman, or she’s her own woman, a man is not his own man if he cannot seek to protect women.

Rakshabandhan exists for a reason. Every woman who is not your wife is your sister (or mother or daughter). Safeguard her, welcome her, and above all cherish her.

Thirdly, Streeya Maryada Uttama

In the presence of women, being honourable is best. Here, Maryada means not just honour, but also propriety. Man should not simply content himself with not being a criminal.

Uddaret atmana atmanam. One should elevate one’s self. This means behaving appropriately in the presence of women. This neither means being an uxorious wimp nor a rude, crude, ruffian. It means being a man who respects others because he respects himself. For a woman to lose respect for a man is the kiss of death and a quest for cuckoldry. So man must respect himself. But, a true gentleman treats women well, not because of what it says about her, but because of what it says about him.

Finally, Streeya Maryada Uttama

For women, honourable courtesy is best.

Bhagvan Ram was known as the Maryada Purushottam not just for his propriety around women, but for his courtesy. A true gentleman of gracious mien.  Whatever “Surpanakha’s Daughters” may say Ravana’s sister was not punished for being a wanton woman or a “liberated lady”. Lakshmana punished her for attacking Sita. Rama had been courteous to her up until that point.

Sri Rama was not only only proper in the presence of women and elders, but was also courteous and pleasant to all. It is chivalry and gentlemanliness that delights young and old or  mother of your children and your mother. It is not just good manners or due courtesy, but that rare charm of friendly decency, to high and low, man or beast. It is not over-sophistication, but cultivation, of not just manners, but personality & prudent ideals.

So yes, accept the exhortations of the Smritis and be like Ram! But also be, the Ram…of the times. Yudhisthira attempted to be the Satyaharishchandra of the Dvapara, but Draupadi paid the price via dice as she was not born in the Treta. True Dharma lies in honouring women, safeguarding women’s honour, being honourable in the presence of women, and honouring through courtesy. Streeya Maryada Uttama.

DharmaMandir

§. Protect thy Society. Neglect not thy Wife.

Do your duty as a citizen, as a leader, as a protector, and as a father, but also as a husband. Do not neglect your wife.

If protecting one’s society first means protecting one’s womenfolk, then it also means not neglecting them. If Selfishness is the Real Root of all Evil, then neglect is its CO2. There is no greater poison in a relationship than neglect. There is no worse emotional feeling than feeling alone when you’re in fact with someone.

Not being a neglectful husband is more than just asking how her day was, or taking her out once in a while, or listening to her for 15 minutes then tuning her out the rest of the day. Neglect is also emotional distance, isolation, and cold-hearted selfishness: brutishness. If you can’t think of someone before you think of yourself, then you are not doing your dharma to your marriage, and your society.

This isn’t to say women are perfect. Nilambari has described at great length how ill-treatment of men and abuse of marriage laws is a precipitous path for society. But she and others like her have stood up for men. It is time we stood by such women, and not neglect our good fortune.

§. Daughters are Music of the Home

Sons may carry on lineages. Sons may carry on names. Sons may even carry us on to the afterlife (all per the Smritis). But daughters are the music of the home.

For far too long has the place of daughters been diminished in our own eyes as a dowry burden. Researched and presented by Nilambari in the first of our Shakti Series of Posts, dowry is adharmic, stridhaan is not. Stridhaan is not a profitable asset for greedy bridegrooms, but a gift to a bride from her own family, for her own security and maintenance.  Even the Dharmasutras permit a young woman to choose her own suitor if one cannot be found by her father. If there are only greedy, money hungry would-be matches, better to let her be, and make her own choice and meet her own match.

Therefore, the birth of daughters should no longer be a financial calculation, let alone a burden. Daughters are in fact the music of the home. If we encourage a young man to marry a wife to add colour to his life, then we should encourage him to welcome daughters to bring music to his home. From laughter, to singing, to dancing, to innocence, to sweetness, more than his own wife, it is his own little girl that softens a man, and his own rough edges.

At a time in the dread Kali (5117), when daughters more than sons are increasingly looking after parents, the veritable dhvani for any true garhapati is his putri and dauhitri.

We are the Civilization of Satakarni and Samudra Gupta who proudly styled themselves as Gautami-putra and LicchavayahStreeya Maryada Uttama.

Thus spake Nripathi on Nara Dharma to Naari.

IV.Nara Dharma Principles & Explanations

a. Svadharma

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Maharajadiraja Samudra Gupta with veena & vaana

Uddaret atmana atmanam[10]. One should elevate oneself. One should cultivate oneself. Not just spiritually, not just morally, but also culturally. Our tradition never condemned the man of the arts. In fact, it praised warrior poets, and cultured Kings. Maharajas like Paramara Bhoja and Maharajadirajas like Samudra Gupta were famed not only as Kings, generals, and warriors, but also as patrons of the arts & learning and musicians or men-of-letters in their own right. They held the veena in one hand and the vaana (bow) in the other.  Do not be a sybaritic and overly refined poppinjay,  but do not be a dour and brutish troglodyte either. Neither be a bookish wimp nor an uncultured ruffian. It is an art, an art as simple as Calligraphy, that disengages man from the severity of his duty, so that he can meditate on the right course of action.

A real man is not 1 dimensional. He has many dimensions to him.  His jati or state origin are only 1 aspect. His varna is only 1 aspect. His marital status is only 1 aspect. His interests/desires are only 1 aspect.  His talents are only 1 aspect. As such, his personal duty, his svadharma, is to ensure all these aspects are in harmony, and in harmony with his society’s needs.  it also means knowing how to interact with others especially women, as we showed above, and understanding the nava rasa of life, especially Sringara rasa.

Some malefactors of dharma have characterised svadharma as something subjective and capricious. But this is false. Svadharma is evaluating the needs of society and understanding one’s talents and obligations, to determine the optimal course of action or duty to society. How can you best contribute? That is how svadharma is determined. Not everyone can be a King or captain. Not everyone can be a purohit or teacher. Not everyone is good at business. And not everyone is a good craftsmen or farmer or construction worker. Rather than being jealous of others, understand your current competence and overall potential, avoid the Arishadvargas, and put society before self. That is how svadharma is determined and achieved.

That is why Acharya Chanakya writes

Sukhasya moolam dharmah Dharmasya moolamarthah |

Arthasya moolam rajyam Rajasya moolam indriyavijayam ||

The Root of Happiness is Dharma. The root of Dharma is Artha.

The Root of Artha is Rajyam [Power]. The root of Power is Victory over the Senses [10,129]

That is the key to happy living and the basis for all the Yama & Niyama (do’s and don’ts) that characterise the Dharmasastra and are advocated by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Human life is a rare privilege in our tradition, and so, must be used wisely. Purusharthas are the aims of life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure & love), Moksha (liberation). Of these, Dharma is the best, as it guides the next two and ultimately makes possible the last.

Nithya and Naimittika Karma facilitate the fulfillment of Svadharma. This is due to the spiritual discipline and hygiene that is promoted. Traditionally referred to as the more expansive Ahnika, Nithya Karma refers to daily rituals and rites, generally based on one’s station in life. Certain varnas, especially Brahmana, require more time dedicated to spiritual discipline, and the Apastamba, Baudhyana, Gautama, and Vasishta Dharmasutras all describe those associate rituals in greater detail (from Achamana (rinsing with water) and Dantadaavana (brushing teeth) to Snaana (daily bath) on) [2]. Naimittika Karma is more expansive, but done more periodically. It deals with rituals and prescribed rites based on phase of life. i.e Namakarana, Annaprasana, Upanayana, Vivaha, etc. All these are again better dealt with in the Apasthamba Grihyasutra, among others. Naimittika Karma is in turn determined by and is part of the more expansive Kulachara and Achara. Because there is Kula and Desa Achara that are very dependent on context, the more general Achara refers to Good Conduct.

Foods forbidden per one’s station or varna or desa should be avoided. Go-mamsa in particular is forbidden to all classes as the cow is aghnya (that which should not be killed). Cow leather, therefore, should be avoided when possible. If these and other infractions or moral transgressions occur, the Dharmasutras of Apastamba et al, should be consulted for appropriate prayascitta. Apastamba also asserts that if engaging in one’s traditional vocation is not possible, another one can be followed while maintaining kulachara. However, in the present time, it is advisable for all varnas to learn the arts of self-defence, exercise regularly, and have plans in place and be ready to take up arms to defend their families. The safety of their womenfolk should be the foremost concern on their minds.

Man is not only a performer of karma (Nitya and Naimittika) and Yajna, but he is also an upholder of dharma, a protector of streeya (women), a sustainer of Kutumba (family –young and old), and a pillar of Samaaja (society). Boys forever seek frivolity and fun. While there is indeed a stage for such things, (Snataka) it is short and sweet, and cannot last for too long after completion of his studies. The best course of action is to take a wife after preparation for Grihasthashrama and after ensuring he has sufficient Artha (wealth) or source of income to provide for his family and progeny.

Live by a simple code. Whatever vocation or occupation, or dharma you pursue in life, remember, Bharat is Mother to us All…

b. Grishastha Dharma

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Grihastha Dharma Sampoornaha. Grihastha ashrama is in fact considered dharma in fullness, not because it is the complete totality of it, but because it is a microcosm of complete dharma and creates complete men. In fact, none other than Maharishi Yajnavalkya advocated it to his own eventual wife Maitreyi (who sought brahmajnana). While yogis and swamis may choose the path of brahmacharya and eventual sanyaasa, Grihastha Dharma is the forerunner that provides grounding for performance of higher duties, as man learns to provide for dependents.

Svadharma finds a balance between a man’s duties, talents, and aspirations/hopes. But Grihastha Ashrama, and the associated Dharma, are predicated on balance between a mans’ Svadharma and his immediate obligations to society. He cannot neglect either himself or those who depend on him. Balance must be found.

Conjugal Relations

True, man does marry, let’s face it, because he loves woman, all aspects of woman. The Dharmasutras encourage man to marry after his studies to beget sons to bear his name and perform his last rites. But Purana also asserts that marriage is man fulfilling his duty to his society and even mankind, by having children. He fulfills his duty to society by looking after a woman of his generation, ideally his own spiritual other half. While the best course is to abstain from physical relations prior to marriage (the lifestyle of the traditional brahmachari), those who failed to wait should neither exploit women, nor give false promises of marriage, and they should provide financial maintenance when children result. Bhrunahatya (abortion) and Sisuhatya (infanticide) are Mahapatakas (terrible sins) per the Dharmasastras. No matter what his accomplishment or learning, a man too will share in the sins of a woman who, due to his counsel or pressure or desertion, undertakes in abortion. That is why Grihastha ashrama is the best time for kama and rati bhava (love and erotic pleasure).

Manu asserts that a man remains spiritually unclean for 2 days after emission, and should take bath and avoid sacred places til this time passes. Varahamihira in his Brihat Samhita advises that couples avoid relations during certain sacred festivals, pujas, and phases of the moon. By regulating the frequency of relations, he writes that there will be no need to resort to dreadful measures (i.e. abortion, etc) for family planning.[13] Hence moderation, as in all things, is advised for dharmic enjoyment of conjugal relations.

It is true that the ancients, especially since the Treta Yuga, practiced polygamy. But this comes with qualifiers. These was primarily made available to Kshatriyas for obvious reasons. As for the remaining varnas, a second wife was permitted only if the first one was barren (or the more archaic rule that the couple is sonless).   It should also be noted that the most recent of the Dharmasutras (Apasthamba) condemned Niyoga (levirate) and banned it in the current Yuga. This is due to the weakness of the flesh that both men and women have in the present time. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, it is best to accept one’s fate (or the decision of God), rather than opportunistically marrying and divorcing (a worst case scenario) or undertaking assorted abominations.

Therefore, whatever natural (and of course, wholly normal) urges a man has, marriage is ultimately about procreation and learning to live for others. That is the heart of dharma. This baseline knowledge then transfers to higher and higher families (samaaja, rashtra, desa, bhoomi), ultimately leading to the concept of Lok Kalyan.

Prior to this stage, it is advisable to study selections of the Kamasastra. The Kamasutra of Vatsyayana touches on many topics, of which rati bhava (erotic pleasure and positions) is only 1 of 10 traditional chapters (or presently 7 chapters). In fact, the entire text was composed as advice to a gentleman of the nagara who has completed brahmacharya and was looking to learn how to be a worthy match to and win the affection of a loving wife. Some of the ancillary chapters are only there for descriptive purposes and for those involved in State Espionage. They should not be studied by the common man as they may corrupt public morals.

Just as a Nara is not a Kliba, neither is a Naari, nor especially, his dharmapatni. Therefore, whatever nonsense others may be purveying, while an aspect of sexual congress is about each spouse physically enjoying the other for pleasure, it is best to follow the advice of the sastras and only engage in traditional maithuna that, even if that is not the intent, has the potential to lead to reproduction. Kautilya and Manu both condemn the behaviour of catamites, and punished exploitation of minors.

If one strays from the traditional path, he should be aware that there are karmic implications for these infractions. Therefore, rather than condemning others or believing yourself to be condemned for all time, it is best to return to the traditional path. Failing that, attempt to graduate to the next higher level of dharmic sexuality, and limit behaviour to the least detestable. Behaviour that harms or exploits the vulnerable must be immediately given up. The purpose of Indriyavijayam (conquest of the senses) is not because mortification or denial is a virtue. The purpose is to gain control over the senses, so that you do not become a slave to them or oppress and degrade your spouse (or others in general).

Apramattho daaraannireekshet | 358

“Examine the potential wife with utmost care.” [10,169]

This is the advice of Chanakya to carefully evaluate the character of a woman before marriage. Character should be the key qualification; beauty, wealth, learning, and family name are secondary factors. This is because a man must not be a cuckhold. His self-respect ensures respect from others. While the laws of adultery may have been severe among the ancients, liberal among the medieval legal commentators, they are downright oppressive in the present time.

Kautilya and Vatsyayana both assert that it is in fact difficult to fully ascertain a woman’s character prior to marriage. Both assert, however, that once married, past conduct is no basis for a man to pressure his wife into moral corruption. Sastra asserts that the best guarantee to a wife of good character and family name is through perfect duty.

Nevertheless, a man should be wise and weigh the circumstances. As the Mahabharata writes, unhappy wives (through neglect or otherwise) destroy lineages. In a tragic era of degradation, even Dushasana pales in comparison to what the Ravanas born in human form have been doing to women, married or not. As the legal texts provide guidance on remarriage, maintenance, or forgiveness, they will be covered at the appropriate time. But where a woman was obviously innocent and a victim, relations may return to normal after 1 full lunar cycle. A woman who has been a victim should not be ostracised by the family or her husband. In fact, they should evaluate how to better ensure the safety of women in oppressive circumstances or asuric vicinities. Streeya Maryada Uttama.

If your blood doesn’t boil at this, you’re not a real man.

Here the Maharanas of Mewar stand as paragons in the protection of women. Above all, Maharana Pratap. From Chittor to Kumbalgarh to Gogunda, they stood as the foremost successful examples in always ensuring the safety and honour of their womenfolk. And I bow my head to their example. Namostute.

maharanapratap

c. Pithru Dharma

dhritarashtra
Don’t be this guy

 When children are first born, it is natural for a new father to have boundless affection for them. Very often, no request or wish is not granted in order to respond to the normal impulse. But fatherhood is not just about providing for dependents, its also about creating an environment of structure and discipline so as to educate sons and daughters about the (frequently dangerous) world at large.

The Dharmasastras traditionally discuss fatherhood in terms of rites and rituals and customs. They are mentioned here only in so far as they should be passed on from father to son (and where relevant, daughter). Nithya (daily) and Naimittika (periodic) Karma provide rituals that not only encourage civilised living via hygiene and special care for loved ones, but also to help guide us during periods of liminality. That is, during periods of uncertainty where circumstances change, such as birth or death or marriage, Naimittika Karma provides us with structure to help navigate through such a period of ambivalence and emotional turbulence. As listed above, the stepping stones to dharma should be inculcated and Achara encouraged. Kulachara will vary from family to family and jati to jati, but the common Achara of Good Conduct, trains Good family members and Good citizens.

But as we commenced above so we end this section. Dhritarashtra is the textbook case of what kind of father not to be. An indulgent father who stokes his sons bad qualities to further his own ambitions and delusions, is not a good father. In fact, the Elder Kuru is a metaphor for the blindness of moha (attachment). Attached to his ambitions of securing the throne for his family, attached to his dangerously selfish son, and attached to achieving his own odd quest for vengeance against fate, he ultimately lost them all. That is the danger of being an indulgent father who puts what is pleasant to his children above what is good for them, and what is good for them, above what is good for his society.

That is why Grihasthashrama completes us. Dhritarashtra proved by being a terrible father he was also a terrible king. So how then to properly execute Pithru dharma? It comes from understanding the needs of society, the traditions of the family, and the talents of one’s children and planning for their harmony. If a son lacks Satvika guna, he should not be pressured into Vedic study as he does not have adhikar. If a daughter shows artistic talent, it should not be stifled, but channeled so that duty to society and family are fulfilled while the talent given expression and outlet. Above all, as with one’s wife, so it is with progeny. Children should not be neglected, and each child has his or her own level of confidence and social skills. It is best for a father to reach out and find an area of common interest where both can consistently bond at an early age. Chanakya provides excellent advice, suggesting play from 1-6, discipline from 6-16, then friendly counsel from 16 on. [10]

Inheritance

Finally, it is important to ensure that a strong team structure is in place. Those who make for terrible team players at home tend to be terrible team players outside. If the father is the team president, the eldest son or daughter is the team captain in managing family matters and overseeing family property.

Prathama kumara uttaradhikarin. Primogeniture was the traditional rule for kings and unpartionable ancestral property and last rites. Only exceptional circumstances circumvented this rule. While this does not apply to modern inheritance law, this principle at home exhorts younger brothers and youngers sisters to respect their elders, creating harmony and stronger family in the process.

The eldest son is not the only adhikarin or heir. Wealth and other property should subdivided equally per Medatithi and Apasthamba, who do not permit a special share (uddhara) to the elder. If stridhana is not given to a daughter, then she too can claim a share in her father’s property.  The status as uttaradhikaran has other qualifers, however. These include responsibility to marry off sisters and sororal nieces. It also means that, should the elder be found obviously incapable or even malevolent, primary family authority can be granted to the younger. However, given the traditional role of elder brothers, it is best to assuage feelings and proverbially “kick him upstairs”, meaning providing a higher titular place with limited actual role or involvement (Chairman vs CEO). However, a wise father takes steps to ensure good familial relations, chastises the rebellious and ungrateful, and counsels the imperious. A family should be governed gently.

d. Kutumba Dharma

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The tragic reality is, in what was once the Land of Lakshmana, Indian men have become horrible lieutenants. Make no mistake: they are grade A chamchas and have become filmi tyrants (when opportunity permits). But they have forgotten the first lesson of leadership: “He who wishes to command, must first learn to obey“.

It is not for nothing our tradition has advocated Primogeniture and even states that Elder brother is a Second father. Is that not how Lakshmana viewed Rama? Did he not obey Sita like a son does a mother?

In this disgusting time, a degenerate who does not respect his own sisters-in-law, let alone daughters-in-law, is no real man. And a clown who attempts to usurp the place of his elder brother (second in command to his father), is swine . Buffoons who point to Michael superseding Fredo, forget that the Corleones were a crime family.  What kind of family is yours? Ahankaris drunk on Ambition look for any excuse and any example to take what is not theirs. That is why our archetype is not Michael Corleone, but Bharata of the Ikshvakus.

By respecting your elder brother, or your team leader, or your political leader, he in turn will respect you, and grant additional responsibility. That is the path to leadership and success. Not through ambitious and opportunistic backstabbing when his luck is down, but through loyality and selflessness that puts family and society above self.

Before putting on noble airs, before annointing yourself “best of brahmins”, remember, true Kshatriya nobility and true Brahminhood is through nobility of spirit…and respecting the chain of command.

Chandra Gupta II  Vikramaditya and Adi Sankaracharya were all exceptions to the rule. Before citing them as examples, understand whether your circumstances are similar straits, and your qualities truly exemplary.

While it is true that not all fathers and elder brothers are like Rama and behave honourably, in the present time, it must be remembered that those who have the best reason to rebel are the least likely to do so. Where fraternal or familial relations cannot be congenial, rather than openly and publicly war, it is best for alienable inheritances to be civily divided, and have each go his own way. Even in the worst of situations, steps should be taken to avoid mahapatakas. Younger brothers and sons cannot be run roughshod over, but their cooperation and, where justified, obedience, should be expected. Rather than fight over parents and inheritances, it is best to follow the more basic aspects of dharma, such as achara (good conduct), maryada (maryada), saujanya (etiquette), or at least sabhyata (civility)

Chanakya provides the best guidance in this regard:

Vinayasya moolam vruddhopaseva | 6
The root of humility is in the service of the seniors—elderly or old persons. When one renders honest service to elders one learns the worth of humility. [10, 129]

Indriyaani jaraavamsha kurvanthi| 279

“(Over) Indulgence in sensory pleasures expedites the onset of the old age.”[10,162]

Naasthyahamkara samah shatruh | 287

“Arrogance is one’s greatest enemy.” [10,162]

e. Samaaja Dharma

Some Dharmas explain themselves. Or, more appropriately, are best explained with simple explanations, many of which already exist.

One such explanation was provided by Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy who quoted the Mahabharata as follows.

“Tyajet ekam Kulasyarthe, Gramasyarthe Kulam tyajet; Gramam Janapadasyarthe, Atmarthe prithivim tyajet”[13]. It means that [rights of] individuals are to be sacrificed for the family; [rights of] families are to be sacrificed for a village; [rights of] villages are to be sacrificed for the country; and when it comes to realising God, the entire everything can be sacrificed.”

The meaning is that the individual owes duties to families, families to village [neighbourhood] village to the country. So the relation between the individual to the nation is interlinked and integrated by a sense of duty to one another. The traditional society is relation-oriented which binds everyone to duties to families, near and dear, community and society, even to nature and animals. This sense of duty is comprehended in the concept of Dharma.[9]

But being a community leader is more than just being a dictatorial member of your jati sangham, or holding an important sounding title on your city council or wearing gleaming uniforms as an officer, it is about standing up for more than just your own rights or your family’s rights or even your own sacred vow. As written in our article on selfishness, the greatest adharma is facilitated not through conscious choice to join with adharma, but through failure or refusal to prioritise correctly…even when obvious and informed so. Should a vow to serve your king bind you to stand silently through this?

Do not bother calling yourself a community elder, or a leader or a “pitamaha” if you failed to do your duty here. Do not pretend as though such things do not go on today…in fact, they are infinitely worse. Draupadi was saved by Sri Krishna. Who stood up to save this common woman? Certain dharmas may be rooted in varna, but no dharma permits such treatment to any woman of any varna, whether brahmin or dalit. If you engage in such behaviour today, no matter what your caste or creed, prepare to face the sword.

Streeya Maryada Uttama. Learn from a King who understood this….

f. Rashtra/Desa Dharma

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Maharana Pratap Singh of Mewar

Interestingly enough, Rashtra and Desa dharma are connected. In previous eras, what we called rashtra was in fact referred to as Desa (i.e. Kosala mahajanapada, Vanga desa, Andhra desa) and modern desh referred to as Bharatavarsha or Bharatakhanda. This is because modern India (like the Maurya Empire and the Gupta Empire, and to a lesser extent the Maratha Confederacy) is a civilizational state  or polity. Federalism being ingrained in Indian political philosophy, the system of saamantas (i.e. subordinate kings) under the Guptas was similar to having a Rajpramukh or governor under the Mauryas. Therefore, rashtra dharma cannot be in isolation from desa dharma.

It is good to do your dharma, it is good to advocate for your state’s interests, but this must be done in understanding the greater good of the nation or civilization.


g. Bhoomi Dharma

While patriotism remains of utmost importance in the present time, rashtra or desa dharma cannot be done in ignorance of or in dereliction to bhoomi dharma. There is a dharma of the earth, that all living beings must bear in mind.

Greed and Selfishness have destroyed man’s character and are now destroying the environment and the very land on which he lives, water he drinks, and air he breathes. Pseudo-philosophies, and piratical economic theories have been disseminated so widely and so insidiously, that they have been accepted as blind truths. But all truths can and must be examined and either validated or discarded in order to determine if they are actually Truth.

Modernity and modern warfare requires the technological infrastructure to defend one’s Desa. In order to do so, however, the desa itself must not be destroyed. Arthasastra and Vidura Niti should be studied to understand the timeless principles of economic prosperity and environmental harmony. These can then inspire modern variations and adaptations to eternal economic realities.

The ultimate motivation for Dharma is not profit, but Lok Kalyan. This necessitates Nishkama Karma, selfless duty and work. The greatest good for the greatest number should be considered.Note: it is the good (shreyas), not pleasant (preyas). The good of society, civilization, and the world should be man’s ultimate pursuit. To do so, he must ultimately put aside immediate individual profit, and look at Lok Kalyan. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad posits daya (compassion), dama (self-restraint), and dana (charity) as pillars to civilised life.[8, 289] Man must learn to show respect and courtesy to all form of life and all classes of society as Bhagvan Ram showed Shabari. The fruit of karma may not be ultimately reaped by you, but will benefit all in the process.

Karmanye vadikaraste| ma phalesu kadachana

Ma karmaphala hetur bhu|ma te sangostvakarmani [7]

You have the right to work only
but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive.
Nor let your attachment be to inaction.

This is the highest dharma, that is pursued when all others are understood.

All this is ultimately why we pray for Lok Kalyan as the ultimate Nara Dharma, after all others have been attained.

Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

V.Teaching Nara Dharma

Instruction in Nara Dharma may no longer be able to proceed along traditional lines universally. Nevertheless, it remains the best. This is because when children and young men are taught by fathers, male relatives, and Acharyas through both instruction and example, they absorb the best.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that rather than merely having them rote-memorise injunction and mechanically conduct ritual, both should be explained to children (in tandem with their regular primary, secondary, and collegiate studies). By having them understand meaning and importance and relevance, they are more likely to not only appreciate but preserve and pass on their Dharmic heritage. In the present time, Nithya and Naimittika karma should be performed when possible. They may not always be. Ritual is important, but safety of one’s family and society takes precedence. Students should therefore be taught to prioritise correctly based on time and place. Basic weekly education in self-defence, and or, training in sastra and suhstra is advisable today for all classes and varnas.

Accordingly, at a time when hypocrisy is rampant, teaching by example is the best method, as children are keen observers. Fathers and elder brothers must themselves properly study and implement Nara Dharma to properly teach. While kulachara may determine the pursuit of Adhyapana  by a student and traditional rites and studies associated with it, all should pass on the basics of pranayama, puja, nithya and naimittika karma, and study of itihasa-purana. In the present time, viewing of Pandit-advised serials such as the Ramanand Sagar Ramayan and B.R.Chopra Mahabharata are excellent supplements to individual study of Purana, Itihasa, Veda, Vedanga, and Sastra. Above all, it is best to pass on Buddhi (wisdom) which encourages Viveka (distinguishment) between right and wrong, which is facilitated by Niti (lessons). This arms the individual to be self sufficient and encourages him to pursue self-driven study and self study (svadhyaya), which is best of all.

Thus spake Nripathi on Nara Dharma.

VI. Conclusion

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Team, unit, discipline, chain-of-command, unity-of-purpose, strategic action, all these things are crucial for the victory of any family, any community, any state, and any civilization. All these are things Bharatiya men currently lack. Inflated with pseudo-intellectual arrogance, rotted by idiotic films, or addicted to the playboy lifestyle, they have become spoiled mummy’s boys.

This Sutra on a Modern Nara Dharma was composed to educate them on what they need to inculcate. But at present time, the slightest challenge to their ill-deserved egos results in a combustion of buffoonery (unless there are tangible consequences), making them easily manipulable. A real man is not the one with the most notches on his bedpost. A real man is one who has the self-respect to stand up for himself, the strength to defend himself, the forbearance to provide for and maintain his family, the maryada to be a pillar of his communty,  and the courage to do his Dharma.

In the Andhra bhasha, there is a saametha (saying): Bharinchey vaardu Bhartha. It is the man who can bear all burdens who is the Husband. That is true manliness. Do you have it?

References:

  1. Kane. P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research.1930. https://archive.org/stream/HistoryOfDharmasastraancientAndMediaevalReligiousAndCivilLawV.1/Kane_A-History-of-Dharmasastra-v1_1930#page/n0/mode/2up
  2. Kane. P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.2.P.1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1941. https://archive.org/stream/HistoryOfDharmasastraancientAndMediaevalReligiousAndCivilLawV.1/Kane_A-History-of-Dharmasastra-v1_1930#page/n0/mode/2up
  3. Dharmasutras
  4. The Ramayana
  5. The Mahabharata
  6. The Panchatantra
  7. Bhagavad Gita. C6.S2, C2, S47
  8. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers.1968
  9. Rangarajan. L.N Ed., Kautilya. Arthasastra. Penguin. 1992
  10. Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
  11. Gurumurthy, S.India’s culture — Past, Present and Future. http://lookintoculture.blogspot.com/
  12. Mathur, Ashutosh Dayal. Medieval Hindu Law: Historical Evolution And Enlightened Rebellion. Oxford University Press. 2007
  13. Iyer, N.C. The Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira. Delhi: Satguru.1987
  14. Dharmic Development. http://indicportal.org/dharmic-development/

[Reprint Post] Prema is not Moha

The following Post was originally published at Andhra Cultural Portal on April 27, 2014


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We have received some offline questions (though comment questions are preferable since all can see) about why, if I think Prema/Bhakti is the highest of qualities, I have been so critical of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. Some see a contradiction between my emphasising Dharma over parental attachment—but nothing could be further from the truth.

Our shastras discuss how the Arishadvargas (the 6 spiritual enemies) are to be defeated. These are Kama (lust), Krodha (wrath), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Mada (pride), Matsarya (jealousy).

While Mada is the worst of these (because it is the enabler not only of Ambition but is the Arishadvarga that gives us permission to give in to the others—as Ravana famously showed), Moha is also exceedingly dangerous. This is because Dharmic and even Sattvic people can give into this one—after defeating the other 5.

Moha is attachment rooted in delusion. Moha comes from the mistaken thinking that this material world is permanent, our bodies permanent, and even our relationships permanent.

Moha leads to such foolhardy and overly sentimental actions as Bhishma’s Oath and Gandhari’s Vow.

Both of these actions were undoubtedly self-sacrificing and even noble, and could be seen as examples of Prema, but they were in actuality contrary to Dharma. This is because as crowned Yuvaraja of Hastinapura, Gangaputra Bhishma (literally meaning “Terrible Oath”) did not have the authority to put his love for his father above his duty for the Kuru Kingdom and his duty to continue the Dushyanta branch of the Chandravanshi lineage.

In fact, Devavratha (Bhishma’s original name) should have known that as he was the most qualified heir Shantanu could possibly hope to have, it would be wrong to deny such a future King to his prajas (subjects). After all, there was no guarantee that future sons of Shantanu would be so qualified or capable (as both Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya demonstrated). In fact, there was no guarantee that Shantanu would even have sons with Satyavati. Thus while Bhishma’s action was truly self-sacrificing and sentimental, it was not Dharmic, or for that matter, even selfless—as the he was unwilling to break his oath on account of his own reputation.

As the later incident with Dushasana and Draupadi showed, Bhishma’s own understanding of Dharma was imperfect. When Draupadi in disbelief asked why the noble Bhishma thought his oath to the throne came before protecting a woman, he is recorded to have said:

na dharmasaukshmyaat subhage vivektutm shaknomi te prasnam imam yatthaavat;
“I am unable to answer your question because Dharma is subtle”

(dharmasya tattvam nihitath guhaayaam)                                                                                                    “Dharma is subtle (sukshmam) because its essence is concealed in a dark cavern”

But he was wrong.

While dharma is sukshmam (in fact, it is ati-sukshmam), there is nevertheless a right and wrong answer in every scenario. It is the duty of each person not to conceal it and himself in a dark cavern, but to use the light of logic (nyaya) and justice (yuktata) to illuminate Dharma. As a kshatriya mandated to protect women and the weak, Bhishma’s dereliction of duty to Draupadi in fact was the true reason for his suffering on the Kurukshetra (just as Yudhisthira’s brief tour of Hell was not for the one lie but in actuality for ordering that his brothers to respect his foolish and unjust wagering of Draupadi). People may say that Bhishma had no choice because he was bound by his word, but there is always a choice.

Sri Krishna had in fact given his word to Duryodhana that he would not fight in the war. But the moment Krishna realised that Arjuna was not willing to take Bhishma’s life in battle due to moha, Krishna took up the wheel to strike Bhishma. This demonstrates that if dharma itself will ultimately be violated by the promise or oath, then the oath too must be dropped—not because it is easy, but because it is hard. While Gangaputra is often—and not unjustifiably—seen as an object of sympathy and pity for his life of suffering and self-abnegation, the sins against dharma include sins of omission as well as sins of commission. Bhishma’s sin of omission (failure as a kshatriya to protect a woman being dishonoured) resulted in his own suffering. His attachment was to his oath and reputation.

gandharidhritarashtra

Similarly, Gandhari was undoubtedly a devoted wife and loving mother, but her action in covering her own eyes as a testament of her loyalty to her husband, and willingness to share in his suffering, was foolishness. The duty of a wife is surely to be faithful and loving to her husband, but it is also to give him sight when he does not see properly.

Thus, Gandhari and Dhritarashtra are more than just stock characters with a particular affliction, but in fact metaphors for how Moha  can blind us to Dharma. Their attachment to their family members, especially their sons, was the cause for their repeated injustice to the Pandavas—which ultimately led to adharma. Thus both Bhishma and Gandhari represent the dangerous hyper-sentimentalism present in our stupid movies today.

Moha also leads to terrible Sin

Rather than conscious desire to do evil, it is thoughtlessness driven by animal urges or fears driven by attachment that most frequently cause us to commit injustice. Some can be small, moral infractions, and others, large and terrible. For all the Star Wars fans out there, it was fear of losing the love of his life that drove Anakin Skywalker to embrace the Sith and commit terrible acts on behalf of the Dark Side.

That is the importance of Achara and Dharma. It wasn’t Anakin’s conscious desire to commit evil or that he was seduced by it for pure personal gain; it was that he was willing to commit a terrible evil against society for the all too human, but still very selfish, personal end of saving the one he loved. He had failed to use Achara to bridle the horses of his emotions and senses, thereby causing his chariot to fall over, resulting in this unenviable fate–ultimately becoming the infamous Darth Vader.

In contrast, Obi-Wan (who was his mentor) says he will do what he must despite their friendship, in the name of justice. Kenobi’s grief is seen (at the end of the video) when he exclaims how Anakin was like a brother to him, and mourns how the latter’s turning to the Dark side led to this terrible result. More compellingly, Anakin’s wife herself specifically states that she cannot follow him on the wrong and horrendous path he’s chosen.

Thus, no matter how much she loved him, her love never became attachment over a person or object that privileged him/it over virtue. That is the value of Dharma. It is not to turn us into feelingless, loveless karma-robots, but rather to protect ourselves from an imbalanced attachment to one person/object that causes us to harm the rest of society. (By the way, before the all you fashionable types shake your heads at my linking Star Wars with Achara/Dharma, you should know that there is an established view that the kshatriya ideal was in fact the model for the Jedi so there!).

The 7 should defeat the 6

7 ideals of Dharma— Pavitrata (purity), Karuna (compassion), Saamyama (self-control ) Satya (truth), Tyaga (self-sacrifice), Yuktata (justice), and above of all Bhakti/Prema (Divine love)—must take precedence over and defeat the 6 arishadvargas—Kama (lust), Krodha (wrath), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Mada (pride), & Matsarya (jealousy).

Kama is cured through Pavitrata, Krodha is cured through Karuna, Lobha is cured through Saamyama, Mada is cured through Satya, Matsarya cured through Tyaga, and Moha is cured through Yuktata. Bhakti/Prema is what grants us God’s grace to ensure the rest of the 7 defeat the 6.

Some of you may ask, how is each cured by the other. I will tell you:

http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/gita-126.jpgPavitrata deconstructs Kama

because it forces us to think whether a particular act of pleasure is in fact saucha (or clean). Many of you have sophisticated imaginations (especially in this post-Lewinsky/Abhishek Manu “Sexvi” era of ours), so I needn’t go into detail, but suffice it to say, you all can figure out which acts would come under this label.

Therefore, the point is not that God wishes to deny us pleasure, but rather, to make us understand that there is a time, place, and most importantly—manner for which pleasure is to be enjoyed. Pavitrata is of course not only about understanding body parts, but also about relationships.

While kama with one’s lawfully wedded wife or husband is not only accepted, but also seen as a duty (as it reproduces species, nations, and lineages), the Sastras explicitly condemn pleasure that transgresses the nuptial or familial boundaries. Extra-marital and intra-familial relationships are therefore impure as well. Extensions of this also apply—and should be obvious. A man who gives himself (or a woman who gives herself) over to lust and surrenders to iccha (desire) without restraint, will soon find himself (or herself) feeding and rolling at the filthy trough of swine (literally and figuratively). Of course, we must not be hypocrites by engaging in bigotry and also recognise that we are all at different stages of spiritual evolution (and thus, if we cannot live up to the highest, should attempt the next highest, and so on).

As we ourselves have not always (at least in previous life times) always lived up to the ideals set by God, we must recognise that the same understanding and leeway be granted to others as well, within legal/ethical limits. Youth should be taught the difference between right and wrong, but also that wrong in others should not generate hate. After all, let ye without sin cast the first stone… An entire column can be written on this (and in fact will be), but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Karuna defeats Krodha

https://antaryamin.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/anger.jpg?w=239…because it forces us to think of the consequences of our anger and put ourselves in the shoes of others.

Anger and Hate are exceedingly dangerous because they can consume our personality and reduce us to sating our desire for vengeance at all costs. Compassion dissipates anger because it makes us realise that our predicament may actually be more bearable than someone else’s, thereby mollifying our indignation. This approach also drains our pride which is the fuel of anger.

We must give a margin of appreciation (5%–though not 50%!) to those around us, so that we understand that their actions may often be due to their own troubles. There is a difference between thoughtlessness and malice. Thus, karuna helps us reframe our perspective and not unyoke our wrath at the slightest provocation. A man who is ruled by krodha is a beast for he neither listens to logic nor well-intentioned appeal. It is for this reason that we are told “To err is human, but to forgive is divine”

Saamyama cures Lobha

5 senses must be steered to steady the chariot of life

because self-control gives us the power to resists the appeal of the indriyas (senses ).

It is for this reason that our ancient society encouraged ascetism (tapasya)—not because self-abnegation by itself is the path to God, but rather, because ascetism helps us blunt the power of the indriyas. If we fast or do without something on our terms—say skip a meal or do without TV for a day or give some wages to charity—then when we are going through an actual difficult period, the sense object will not be irresistible, as we have resisted it before from a position of strength.

In fact, ascetism is one of the four legs of Dharma (the other 3 being cleanliness, mercy, and truth), though it was bent at the end of the Satya yuga. While in our own Kali era, Dharma only stands on the leg of truth (and barely standing at that), all four legs, even ascetism, should be valued for how they help us better ourselves, especially when it comes to resisting greed.

Satya defeats Mada

SatyaVsMada

as it forces the individual blinded by delusional arrogance to face reality. Many if not most of us live in a realm of concocted conceit.

We mask ourselves to truth either because it is too unpalatable to face or because it would prevent us from achieving our own ill-conceived and unjust ambition.

We may desire something, a natural impulse in our material existence, but it is pride which gives us permission to seek it out. We may come up with umpteen excuses to justify our pursuit of a beautiful but very married woman (i.e. “we are both attractive and she too likes me, we are a better match anyways, so why not? I am a powerful man with powerful appetites”), but it is Satya which pops this bubble (“I have no right to covet my neighbour’s wife. If I injure someone today, they may seek to injure me tomorrow. Ultimate power is wielded by God, I am only the steward, so my fleeting power does not justify such appetites”). That is the power of Satya. Facing and wielding the truth helps us hammer down the wall of pride and vanity into oblivion.

Tyaga overthrows Matsarya

Bharata places Rama’s sandals on his head to demonstrate how he will only rule in Rama’s name and never covet Rama’s rightful throne

…since self-sacrifice allows us to accept, digest, and even be happy for the wealth, possessions, and advantages of another.

If we are willing to step aside for the gain of another, then we are willing to swallow our envy, which stews into jealousy (jealousy = envy + hate). The spirit of self-sacrifice stems from the noble calling of “all for one and one for all”. The four sons of Dasaratha exemplified this as their brotherly love and willingness to sacrifice for the others ensured that jealousy never subverted their unity–no matter what catastrophe came their way.

Because they were each willing to give up the throne, or even life, for the other, this noble sentiment ensured that the one who deserved the throne was the one who ultimately ascended it…neither of them ever claimed the right or possession of the other. This not only secured unity among them, but preserved and nurtured fraternal affection.

And Yuktata cures Moha

…due to the illuminating quality of justice.

Attachment causes us to only look at what will happen if we lose a person or an object. We only think of our personal sadness rather than the cost to the common good. But justice is concerned specifically with the common good, with rightful claims, with fair shares, and with the well-being of everyone. Thus, no matter how much one may be attached to a son, a wife, or a desire–justice will force us to put aside that attachment and do not what is merely in our own interest, but in the interest of all.

While the 7 may be the Astras against the 6, Atma vichara (self-reflection/introspection) and Viveka (distinguishment between right and wrong) are the respective bow and arrow that allow us to fire these 7 Divine weapons…and as always, God’s name is the empowering mantra we chant to wield the weapons properly.

Thus, true Bhakti & Prema are based not on the attachment to the individual relationship, but on recognition that we are all emanations of Parabrahman, and that our love, ultimately, should transcend fixation only on the ephemeral relationships of this life and extend to all living creatures for all time. That is true Prema.

So love, dear reader, love to all your heart’s content, for verily Satya is love. But also remember that true Prema is not, nor can ever be, Moha.

[Reprint Post] On the Perils of Ambition

A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on December 8, 2013


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“Arey, he’s so ambitious, yaar”, “Do you know, she’s really ambitious”, “You should be ambitious too”….

I must have missed the memo, but since when did ambition become a good thing?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-improvement (both spiritual and material), and success in one’s chosen livelihood—but when did personal gain become more important than collective good and virtue? Because contrary to popular thought, ambition actually runs in direct opposition to the collective good. Ambition overturns the just order, ambition prevents rightful inheritance, ambition pits younger against older, ambition poisons the minds of parents, ambition embitters relations between spouses and between friends, ambition blinds one to duty to society—in short, ambition destroys.

The fundamental problem with Ambition is that it asks the question Why NOT me instead of Why me?

You may ask, “what is the difference”? The difference is Why Not Me puts the burden of proof on others to ask why others are more deserving than you. Why Me considers whether you are even qualified for the position to begin with.

While just aspiration in harmony with duty is good (i.e. I want to be a politician to help people), ambition is destructive (i.e.I want to be a politician to gain position and dominate people, and damn anybody, even the country, if he comes in my way…cough…KCR). Aspiration asks, “I think I could do this—but am I the most qualified, or deserving person?”.

The great irony of our time is that our culture itself answered this question thousands of years ago in the form of the Son of Dasaratha—no, I don’t mean Sri Rama, as great as he indeed was, but in fact his brother…Bharata.

The Example of Bharata

Photo: Youtube

Rama is truly the ideal man, the rightful heir, the protector of the weak, and the eponymous and undisputed  hero of the Ramayana, but ultimately he was able to do his duty and still retain his throne because of the nobility and sacrifice of the second eldest brother, Bharata.

Indeed one of the greatest moments in the entire Ramayana (perhaps all of scripture)  is when after reluctantly agreeing to Janaka’s decision, Bharata swears to immolate himself if Rama does not take back his throne within 14 years. . .What a gesture!…Not only does this Royal Prince, whose grandfather was promised by Dasharatha to give Kaikeyi’s son the throne, whose mother gained a boon from Dasharatha to grant him the throne, and who was a qualified king in his own right, refuse this grand Kingdom, but he also threatens to give up his own life if the rightful heir is not restored to the throne within the specified period of time. Even Rama himself is moved and tells Bharata in admiration, “I should have known you would give up in an instant what takes men lifetimes to learn to reject”.

In contrast, Duryodhana  covets precisely that which he has no right to by law or any other qualification. Yudhisthira was the eldest of the Kurus, was crowned by Dhritarashtra as yuvaraja, and was the greatest in dharma. Yet by hook or by crook, Duryodhana nursed his ambition for the throne of Hastinapura and craved what was not his. In the end,while Duryodhana is defeated, Bharata is triumphant (and incidentally, is granted kingship of Takshasila (modern Taxila), which he founded).

Thus, when ambition is cast aside, society in turn benefits, because it is spared fratricidal and internecine warfare. The energies that go into nursing pointless rivalries and political competitions go into societal welfare and good instead. Therefore, Bharatas are not only required at the highest echelons but at the lower levels of society as well. When people do what is right, rather than what is selfish–then everyone benefits, as the four Princes of Ayodhya did. Mutual regard leads to mutual gain.

We must not take or covet what is not rightfully ours. Might (or sleight…of hand, in this case) does not make right. It is Dharma that makes right. That is the lesson of Bharata. Indeed, it is for this reason that Vasishta himself is said to have remarked that “No one understood the lessons of Dharma better than Bharata.”

People ask, with all the evil going on in the world today—“where is Vishnu”?

Perhaps, when the people are ready, a Kali Yuga Rama may indeed appear, but the real question we have to ask is: where are our Bharatas?

Photo: Youtube

[Reprint Post] Ram Raj was not Built in a Day

A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on April 8, 2014


rama-coronation

There is a famous saying that “Rome was not built in a day”.

Given our exhaustion and frustration with Rome Raj, however, our model should be Ram Raj—but the lesson still holds.

On this Sri Rama Navami, it seems this occasion, this year, is more appropriate for reflection rather than greetings. After 10 years of misrule, the Indian people are fed up, and are in the midst of one of the most important elections in recent history. While slogans and frequent proclamations of Ram Rajya are well and good, it is important that we all understand exactly what that means…and how in fact, it is built.

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Our people (at all levels: mass up to intellectual) seem to think that periodic paroxysms of effort and emotion are all that are required. Activity is premised not on disciplined performance but flashes of inspiration based on mood and interest.

“Naaku interest leyyyyyydu!!!” [I’m not interested!!!”] is a common refrain from our middle class moms and dads, as though interest were somehow the only determinant for activity.

One day they will say in childish excitement “Yes sir! We will do it—we will show them!!!” Commitments are made, follow up is promised and then the next day, they will taper off into tamasic stupor or get distracted by Chicken 65 and Hakka Noodles. Then correspondences and responses cease, and people, yet again miss the woods for the trees, focusing on insignificant matters rather than the broader Kurukshetra.

Jugaad cannot be a philosophy for life. Not everything can be improvised at the last minute. “Delhi dur ast”—aka the Panipat strategy—is not a formula for success.

 

Vijay Amritraj was frequently considered one of the most talented tennis players of his time.

But flashes of brilliance cannot make up for consistent and committed effort, hence the dominance of Grand Slam Champions like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe.

When it comes to missing golden opportunities—India ranks in the first echelon. We get distracted by the glitz and the glamour, rather than focusing on our main objective.

“So he thinks he’s made it just cause he’s the CEO instead of the owner?”

Celebrations and celebrities are for after victory, not before.

In all fairness to Vijay gaaru, his performance at Davis Cup and even his occasional victory over the Grand Slam Champions of the time definitely made all Indians proud (and gave a measure of athletic respect that is sorely, and justifiably, lacking now).  But as much as we love him for his accomplishments, Grand Slams and Top 10 rankings are what ultimately measure Tennis Champions.

Similarly, as much as Indians may want to complacently revel in the surface-level popularity of yoga and Bollywood, they need to pay attention to the marketing hit-job that has been done to their brand (and has been since the days of Macaulay and Katherine Mayo).

Ultimately, as much as upper-middle class Indians like to talk about India as an IT or economic Superpower, the reality is it is neither. Pure numbers alone burst this balloon. Economically, India may be 4th largest in PPP, but in raw currency terms it is 9th, well behind not only China but also behind Brazil. This is important from the perspective of external buying power and overall economic power.

And as for Information Technology, being a glorified body shop or coding farm (sorry Infosys/Wipro) does not an IT superpower make. This determination is based upon finished products, i.e. End user applications and expensive software packages (like Windows or Photoshop). But how many Indian applications are world beaters? Can we name one? There may be an Indian CEO of a Fortune 500 Software Company, but there is no Fortune 500 CEO of an Indian Software Company.

The very real fact is, power determinations and respect are achieved through Comprehensive National Power… not through flattering words given to a chaprasi in chief (sidenote: what ground- breaking economic paper has the economist PM published?) by disinterested foreign leaders. Ram’s power came from not only the greatness of his Dharma and the wealth of Ayodhya, but also from the strength of his bow. Appointing corrupt morons to important defense positions is not the way to Ram Raj.  To do this you don’t need a clueless anti-corruption brigade, but hard-minded strategic thinkers…aka Serious People.

Serious people do not make evaluations based on flattery or words of comfort. India and Indians have a myriad of problems facing them, their culture, and their civilization today. How to tackle this?

1. Vigilance

The brayings of our tamasic donkey public can usually be summed up in one line “who caaaaares! Let them bark! Ignore them”.

Yes, ignore the enemy even when he publicly states his aim, and even threatens to implement it in the halls of parliament (this man sits on the defense committee!!!!!), is openly feted by foreign enemies, and spends every waking minute focused on building strength, because you would rather stuff your face with hakka noodles or biryani–or anxiously hide behind corrupted “secular “labels than to pay attention and recognize the danger for what it really is.

It took Turkic invaders 200 years to break through all major resistance and finally set themselves up in the gangetic plains of India. What were our people doing before? One cannot wait until Tarain or Panipat to act. Once you know what he plans on doing, you must act before the enemy does, rather than passively react. So instead of braying “who cares! Let them bark!”, get off your rear and recognize the challenge that faces you instead of spending all your free time watching mindless movies and idiotic game shows.

2. Planning

Now that people are finally start paying attention, they have to plan.

Things cannot be done at the last minute. Jugaad is not a strategy. So take the time to read, reflect, understand, and plan. This means understanding what faces you, understanding what you can do, determining your long, medium, and short term objectives. Determining a strategy for each, and finally a method and detailed plan to implement, evaluate, and adjust. You cannot do this when the enemy is already at the gates.

Pedantic gyaani tweets and ahankari ego-stroking is not the path to victory. This is where free time and spending 15 minutes a day (at least) on something useful, comes in handy.

3. Consistent Effort

People think a single flash of genius is all that is necessary or one savior is all that is required at the last minute to save the day. But the reality is, God helps those who help themselves. Thus, for all us average, non-divine mortals, consistent effort is what is required to develop the requisite inner and outer strength to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.

That’s why I keep repeating the importance of 15 minutes a day. Plenty of you are reading, but how many of you reflect or even participate? That is the problem. Everybody wants a Shivaji, but only  in the neighbor’s house. But the reality was, Shivaji had a host of people helping him and eventually succeeding him, from Samarth Ramdas to Tarabai.

An historic problem in India is the personality-based movement. This can no longer stand. Accidents happens, stray arrows hit their marks, and leaders come and go like the ocean waves. But who is there to pick up the flag if they fall, who is there to take the fallen king’s place in the midst of the battle?

So rather than simply praying like children for someone to help, do the hard work yourself to be a second-in command or a lieutenant. The most successful movements are not based around a single leader, but institutions, as was the case even with the Roman Empire and the British Empire (through the Company). The Khalsa survived long after the 10 Sikh gurus, just as the Maratha cause survived long after the Chhatrapati. But just like dirt cannot grease the gears, idiots cannot man institutions (no matter how perfect). So take the time needed to prepare and be a contributor, not just a cheerleading free-rider .

Rather than complacently remaining thoughtless tamasic rabble, our people must aspire to become disciplined, independent thinkers and contributors.

4. Implementation

After spending all this time thinking and planning… implement!!!

Whatever little thing you have time to do, whether it is correcting that Wikipedia article  that you know is wrong (no matter how long it takes) or teaching Carnatic Music or running for municipal political seats, DO SOMETHING (intelligently) to protect and perpetuate our heritage and inheritance. Don’t just whine about how bad things are and go back to stuffing your face with sweets, do something about it!!

That is the great significance of the Vanara sena’s contribution to Ram Setu. Each vanara, by contributing a handful of stones, was able to construct the bridge to Lanka. Rama’s bridge stands to this day as testament to not only the Bhakti of the Vanaras, but as to how great structures can be built, and Ram Raj achieved, through small contributions by many individuals. So while you may think your little stone may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you may in fact be laying the foundation for the very great deeds for which you are hoping and praying.

And also, be sure that ambition does not blind you and others. Not everyone can be a Krishna Deva Raya, but one can still be a Timmarasu or Tenali Ramakrishna or a Nayaka. Thus, one must evaluate one’s own capabilities and strengths with respect to others in order to ascertain the optimal way one can contribute.

5. Accountability

No one is or can be above the law and no one man (or woman) is greater than the movement. Thus, if after fair evaluation over a reasonable period of time (i.e. several years, a term in office, etc.), a leader, no matter how beloved or feted, has not performed as required, or worse, is negligent or even complicit, then said leader too can step down and be replaced.

Ultimately, we must all remember that Rama was not able to rule in a simple flash of divine brilliance. He himself spent many years in the wilderness with only his Dharma to guide him. It took the consistent effort of Gurus like Vishwamitra to educate him, Fathers like Dasaratha to guide him, Mothers like Kausalya to acculturate him, Brothers like Bharata and Lakshmana to loyally protect him (and his interests), allies like Hanuman to serve him, Wives like Sita to care for him, and a Population like Ayodhya’s to be worthy of him.

So for all those clamoring for Rama Rajya, the question they should ask is “Are we worthy of it yet?”

Whether the answer is yes or no, people should take these lessons to heart—and plan/act more and talk less…

So don’t just idly read here or even thoughtlessly comment (ok…do comment…heh), but also plan and participate intelligently.

Jai Shri Ram!