The recent High Court ruling on the 'Gay' community has created quite a stir in Karnataka and has made the average kannadiga take a re-look at his daily life.
Any Kannadiga man having a family... wakes up in the morning (beliGAY) and discovers that his whole family could be GAY.
- His father is heard telling his mother : maganGAY (for son), magalGAY (for daughter), soseGAY (for daughter-in-law).
- His wife says appanGAY (for father), ammanGAY (for mother), gandanGAY (for husband)... and she loves malliGAY (a type of fragrant flower).
- He gets ready for breakfast... thindyGAY (for breakfast), coffeeGAY (for coffee); here the talk is about nanGay (for me), ninGay (for you).
- His favorite home-made sweet dish is holiGay (a type of sweet dish made of jaggery and dal).
- At work, they talk about: YaarGAY (for whom), AvaruGAY (for him/them - as in 'inko-unko' in hindi), IvaruGAY (for him/them), hinGAY (like this), hanGAY (like that), elliGAY (where), alliGAY (there), bossGAY (for boss), secretaryGAY (for secretary).
- At his children's school, it is TeachersGAY (for teachers), StudentsGAY (for students), PuneGAY (to Pune) and so on.
- For entertainment, he goes cinemaGAY (to the cinema).
- The Judiciary and the Police are no different. It is JudgeGAY (for the judge), PoliceGAY (for the Police), KalruGAY (for the thieves) and so on.
- Even the non-living things are GAY inclined. The Kannadiga says busGAY, trainGAY, flightGAY... - Finally, at the end of the day, he heads back home... maneGAY (to home).
- And what does he find on the way... the road is lined with sampiGAY trees.
Now, I'm at a complete loss... to understand or make any sense of the so-called 'debate' happening among a lot of self-proclaimed (pseudo) Hindus/Hindu organisations (besides others, of course) regarding the 'legitimacy' of this legislation and if this is 'against' the Hindu faith. Infact, the 'debate' seems to be regarding... if 'gays' are against the Hindu faith or against nature itself. All this has never ceased to amaze me! Here is what I understand... after studying this faith... to some extent. I must admit that a whole lifetime devoted to studying our scriptures, including all the four Vedas, the Puranas, the Upanishads, the Aranyakas, the Vishnu Purana, the Matsya Purana, the Manusmriti..., etc., is not enough. It is so vast; deeper than the oceans, higher than the Himalayas, and wider than the universe itself. But nevertheless... I have made a humble attempt in that direction.
Our great epics and the lessons they impart: Our mythology and scriptures are full of anecdotes/examples/metaphors/symbolism/metonymy/allegory/iconography... and our great epics the "Mahabharata" and the "Ramayana" are no different. These are still not understood very well... and debates and discussions are raging to this day. Lord Krishna... that peerless transformational leader, and also the greatest Guru, teacher, guide, friend, philosopher, mentor, strategist, tactician, ruler..... that one can ever find, has also said that the "Mahabharata" is the greatest book ever... echos of it can be found in events/developments down the ages... but what is not there in this book... is not and will not be found anywhere. The Mahabharata claims all-inclusiveness at the beginning of its first parva ("book"): "What is found here, may be found elsewhere. What is not found here, will not be found elsewhere."
The "Mahabharata", that is, the "great Bharata", is one of the two most important ancient epics of India, the other being the "Ramayana". The "Mahabharata" was compiled in Ancient India. Traditionally, the authorship of the "Mahabharata" is attributed to the great poet-sage (rishi) Veda Vyasa (the one who compiled the Vedas). Legend (and also the first section of the "Mahabharata") has it that Lord Ganesh wrote the "Mahabharata" while Rishi Veda Vyasa dictated the same. Ganesha is said to have agreed to write it only on condition that Vyasa never pause in his recitation. Vyasa agreed, provided Ganesha took the time to understand what was said before writing it down. It is possibly one of the longest work of its kind in the world. The epic contains about 110,000 couplets in eighteen sections. There is also a 19th section named "Harivamsha". The "Bhagavadgita", a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, is a part of the "Mahabharata". The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty". According to the Mahabharata's own testimony it is extended from a shorter version simply called Bhārata of 24,000 verses.
There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and composition layers. Its earliest layers probably date back to the late Vedic period (ca. 8th c. BCE) and it probably reached its final form by the time the Gupta period began (ca. 4th c. CE). With about one hundred thousand verses, long prose passages, and about 1.8 million words in total, the "Mahabharata" is the longest epic poem in the world. It is roughly ten times the length of the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" combined, roughly five times longer than Dante's "Divine Comedy", and about four times the length of the "Ramayana". Including the "Harivaṃśa", the "Mahabharata" has a total length of more than 90,000 verses. The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as 'frametales', popular in many Indian religious and secular works.
Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the "Mahabharata" contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as the "Shrimad Bhagavad Gita" (6.25-42) which has a very high level of philosophical and religious content, or a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas (12.161). The latter are enumerated as dharma (right action/virtuous living), artha (purpose/material prosperity), kama (aesthetic and erotic pleasure), and moksha (liberation). Beside being rich with philosophical and religious jewels, the epic also reveals the complexity of human relationship in various dimensions which can be related even with the modern complexity of the human relationships.
Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the "Mahabharata" are the following (often considered isolated as works in their own right):
- the story of Damayanti, sometimes called ("Nala and Damayanti") in book 3 (Aranyakaparva), a love story.
- An abbreviated version of the "Ramayana", in book 3 (Aranyakaparva)
- Rishyasringa, the horned boy and rishi, in book 3 (Aranyakaparva)
Evolution of Hinduism: Hinduism was never meant to be a "religion". Infact, the word "religion" never existed... in this ancient Vedic faith. This was "sanatana-dharma"... "sanatana" means "ancient" and "Dharma", refers to "rightousness". It essentially was the "path of rightousness"... and was an assimilation of the accumulated knowledge of the ancients... over a period of time... or rather, through the ages. What the western world claims to have "discovered" in "recent" times, was already known. e.g., the "Laws of gravity"... supposedly "discovered" by Sir Isaac Newton. This was already known to the ancients and had been proved as well... by great mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy such as, Aryabhata, etc. His most famous works are the Aryabhatiya (499 CE, when he was 23 years old - this is a rough estimate; his appearance is thought to be around c.476–550 B.C.) and the Arya-siddhanta - a lost work on astronomical computations, is known through the writings of Aryabhata's contemporary, Varahamihira, and later mathematicians and commentators, including Brahmagupta and Bhaskara I. It also contained a description of several astronomical instruments. This book, the Aryabhatiya, written in verse, was the summary of Hindu mathematics up to that time. It covered astronomy, spherical trigonometry, arithmetic, algebra and plane trigonometry. He is one of the first to have used algebra; his writings include rules of arithmetic and of plane and spherical trigonometry, and solutions of quadratic equations. Aryabhata gave formulae for the areas of a triangle and a circle correctly and was the first to deduce that the Earth is round and that it rotates on its own axis, creating day and night. He declared that the moon is dark and shines only because of sunlight. Solar and lunar eclipses, he believed, occured not because 'Rahu' gobbled the sun and the moon, as the Hindu mythology claimed, but because of the shadows cast by the Earth and the moon. In mathematics, Aryabhata's contribution was equally valuable. He gave the value of pi as 3.1416 claiming, for the first time, that it was an approximation. He was the first mathematician to give what later came on to be called the 'table of the sines'. Even Varahamihira, another great Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain. He is considered to be one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) of the court of legendary king Vikramaditya (thought to be the Gupta emperor Chandragupta II Vikramaditya). Varahamihira's main work is the book Pañcasiddhāntikā (or Pancha-Siddhantika, "[Treatise] on the Five [Astronomical] Canons) dated ca. 575 CE gives us information about older Indian texts which are now lost. The work is a treatise on mathematical astronomy and it summarises five earlier astronomical treatises, namely the Surya Siddhanta, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vasishtha Siddhanta and Paitamaha Siddhantas. It is a compendium of native Indian as well as Hellenistic astronomy (including Greek, Egyptian and Roman elements). Varahamihira's other most important contribution is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita - a Sanskrit encyclopedia of wide ranging subjects of human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfall, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, and rituals. The volume expounds on gemstone evaluation criterion found in the Garuda Purana, and elaborates on the sacred Nine Pearls from the same text. It contains 106 chapters and is known as the "great compilation". Some important trigonometric results are attributed to Varahamihira. He not only presented his own observations, but embellished them in attractive poetic and metrical styles. The usage of a large variety of meters is especially evident in his Brihat Jataka and Brihat-Samhita.
Ikshvaku (Sanskrit: इक्ष्वाकु "Sugarcane", pāli: Okkāka) was the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty/Sun Dynasty of Kshatriyas in the Vedic civilization in ancient India. Ikshvaku was the first King to implement the Manusmriti, or the religious rules of Hindu living composed through divine inspiration and from the Vedas by his father. He is remembered in Hindu scriptures as a righteous and glorious king. In some versions, he is the son of Vaivasvata Manu (formerly the Emperor Satyavrata of Dravida), one of the two central characters along with the Lord Matsya incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the Matsya Purana. He is born to Manu after the deluge which sends the King's ship to the top of the Malaya Mountains in the Dravida country.
Hindu scriptures call Ikshvaku and his line the emperors of the world. The world in Vedic terms might have extended roughly only to modern India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and surrounding areas from South Asia. Ikshvaku was perhaps one of the earliest and most important Indo-Aryan monarchs of India, and played a pivotal role in the 'transformation' of the ancient Vedic religion into modern Hinduism and its propagation throughout India.
The Ikshvaku dynasty was a dynasty founded by Ikshvaku, grandson of Vivasvan or Surya and son of Vaivasvata Manu. This dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty). The supreme perceptor of the Ikshvaku dynasty is Sage Vashishta. The important kings of this dynasty are Harishchandra, Dileepa, Sagara, Raghu and Rama. The word "Ikshvaku" means "Sugarcane". Some scholars have pointed out that the legends of Ikshvaku and Sumati may have their origin in the Southeast-Asian myth of the birth of humanity from a Sugarcane. The more commonly accepted theory is a transference in the opposite direction, from India to Southeast Asia.
In Jainism History: The Ikshvaku clan is said to have begun from the 1st Tirthankar Rushabhdev (Rishabh Dev (ऋषभदेव) or Adinatha (आदिनाथ); other names used: Rishabh, Rishabhanāth, Rushabh, Rushabhdev, Adinath or Adishwar; Sanskrit meaning "best, most excellent"] who is regarded as the first King on the earth of this Avsarpini cycle. Ikshvaku name of this clan was given by Lord Saudharmendra. When Tirthankar Rushabhdev was one year old, Lord Saudharmendra came to Rushabhdev's father, Nabhi for formalizing the family name. He carried sugarcane in his hand and baby Rushabh was sitting in his fathers lap. When Rushabh saw the sugarcane he eagerly extended his tiny hands to grab it. Lord Saudharmendra gave the sugar-cane to the baby and seeing his affinity for sugarcane, he formally named the family as Ikshvaku/House of Ikshvaku. Most Thirthankaras of Jainism belong to the House of Ikshvaku, and few from other clans. The Ikshvaku dynasty has a significant place in Jaina tradition, as 22 Tirthankaras were born in this royal house. The first Tirthankar Rushabhdev was son of Ikshvaku King Nabhi. The second Tirthankar, Ajitanatha, son of Ikshvaku King Jitashatru was cousin of Sagara.
Rushabh has been mentioned in the Hindu text of the Bhagavatha-Purana as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. He is mentioned in all the Vaishnava/Shaiva Puraņas, as well as in some other texts. According to the Bhāgavata, he was born to show the people of this world the path of salvation. According to Jain beliefs, Rushabh - born to King Nabhi Raja and Queen Marudevi at Ayodhya in the Ikshvaku clan - existed before civilization developed. He taught people agriculture, tending of animals, cooking, and more. He had one hundred and one sons. His eldest son - Bharat - was a chakravarti king - the conqueror of the known world. In the later part of his life he retired to become a monk and attained moksha. Since he became a Siddha (liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma), he is occasionally worshipped. According to the Jain beliefs, India was named "Bhārata-varsha" or "Bhārata" after him. His second son was Bahubali, whose statue stands at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka as well as at Karkala. Marudevi, mother of Adinath (Rushabh) was the first person to achieve moksha - even before Rushabh himself. Rushabh's grandson Marichi's soul later became Mahavira. He attained 'Kevalgnan' or infinite knowledge at Palitana and attained liberation (Moksha) at Ashtapad mountain in Himalayas. According to Jain beliefs, Rushabh was the first Tirthankar of the present age (Avasarpini). Because of this, he had the name of Ādināth - the first lord.
The House of Ikshvaku: Across the length and breadth of Greater India, numerous royal families are said to have belonged to the House of Ikshvaku, which was the Solar Dynasty. Great kings like Bhagiratha and Dasaratha were also kings in this line before Lord Rama. The solar clan is especially associated with Rama, the King of Ayodhya whose story is told in the "Ramayana". The lists of kings of the Ikṣvāku or Aikṣvāka dynasty are found in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Harivamsha and the Puranas. But the two lists found in the Ramayana vary significantly with all other lists. The Raghuvamsha of Kalidasa also mentions the names of some of the kings of this dynasty.
"Suryavanshi" means a person belonging to this dynasty. This clan was the oldest and biggest kshatriya clan of India which was also known by many synonyms as "Adityavamsha", "Mitrawamsha", "Arkawamsha", "Raviwamsha", etc. It was the most prosperous clan in ancient India till the rise of Magadh in the 6th century BCE. The early Suryavanshis considered the Sun-god ('Surya', 'Aditya' or 'Arka') as their 'kul-devta' (clan God) and mainly practised sun-worship. The clan founder, Vivasvan or Vaivaswat Manu, also known as Arka-tanaya (अर्क तनय) or son of Arka (Surya), is supposed to have lived coeval with the origin of the world. The name "Vivaswan" literally means "master of the rays", i.e., "The Sun" or "Sun God". The first historically important king of this dynasty was Vivaswan's grandson Ikshvaku, so the dynasty is also known as the Ikshvaku dynasty. The Puranas, particularly Vishnu Purana, The Ramayana by Valmiki and the Mahabharata by Vyasa gives accounts of this dynasty. The Raghuvamsha of Kalidasa also mentions the names of some of the kings of this dynasty.
The "Vishnu Purana", (Book Four, Chapter One) also relates that the "Vedas" and the principles of "sanatana-dharma", or the eternal nature of the soul, fade and disappear from the planet at the end of every four ages. "The Bhagavatam" (8.14.4-5) also confirms that there are saintly persons who help re-establish these principles in Satya Yuga along with the basis of "varnashrama", which is the proper organization of society for humanity. The "Vishnu Purana" continues to explain that it is in the jurisdiction of the seven universal sages or rishis (the Saptarishis) to make sure the Vedic knowledge is given currency again, even if these rishis must descend from the higher planets to do so. So in every Satya Yuga the Manu (the demi-god son of Lord Brahma, who is the law-giver of humanity) of that age is the author of the body of law, while the sons of Manu and their descendants are sovereigns of the earth. This means that although the genuine spiritual knowledge or Vedic information may disappear from this planet, it is still dwelling elsewhere in the universe, and it is the duty of the higher authorities/supreme power(s) to re-establish it on Earth.
To help in this regard, it is predicted in the "Srimad-Bhagavatam" (12.2.37-38) and the "Vishnu Purana" (Book Four, Chapter 24) that there are two persons who are waiting for the end of the Kali Yuga: Devapi of the race of Puru and brother of King Shantanu, and Maru, a descendant of King Ikshvaku. They will be great kings and will help in the process of re-establishing the proper principles in society. These two are alive even now by their great mystic strength obtained through the power of devotion. They have lived through all four of the yugas and reside in the village of Kalapa. They are waiting for the end of Kali Yuga. Then, at the beginning of Satya Yuga, under the instructions of the Supreme Being, they will return to society and be members of the family of the Manu and re-establish the eternal religion of humanity, the "sanatana-dharma", and the institution of "varnashrama", which is the proper organization of society for its continued harmony in life, and its material and spiritual progress. They will become great kings and form proper government. Thus, by the arrangement of the Supreme Being, there are those who will always be the guardians of that spiritual knowledge that contains the genuine principles for attaining the real goal of human existence.
After all of this is accomplished, as related in the "Bhagavatam" (12.2.39), the cycle of the four ages of Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga (a Caturyuga) will continue to repeat itself along with the same general pattern of events.
According to the Puranas, Brahma is the son of God/Supreme Being, and often referred to as "Prajapati". The "Shatapatha Brahman" says that Brahma was born of the Supreme Being "Brahman" and the female energy known as "Maya". Hinduism perceives the whole creation and its cosmic activity as the work of three fundamental forces symbolized by three Gods, which constitutes the Hindu Trinity or "Trimurti": Brahma - the creator, Vishnu - the sustainer/preserver, and Shiva - the destroyer. The Vedas, the oldest and the holiest of this ancient vedic faith's scriptures, are attributed to Brahma, and thus Brahma is regarded as the father of dharma. He is not to be confused with Brahman which is a general term for the Supreme Being or Almighty God/the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy. In the "Brahma Purana" and Hindu cosmology, Brahmā is regarded as the creator but not necessarily as God. Rather, He is regarded as a creation of God/Brahman. The lifespan of Brahmā is 100 Brahmā years, equivalent to 311,040,000,000,000 solar years. At the end of His lifespan, there will be a gap of 100 Brahmā years, after which another Brahmā or creator will begin the process of creation anew. This cycle is thought to repeat without end. The "Linga Purana", which delineates the clear calculations of the different cycles, indicates that Brahma's life is divided in one thousand cycles or 'Maha Yugas'.
Brahma is traditionally depicted with four heads, four faces, and four arms. With each head, He continually recites one of the four Vedas. He is often depicted with a white beard (especially in North India), indicating the nearly eternal nature of his existence. Unlike most other Hindu Gods, Brahma holds no weapons. One of His hands holds a scepter in the form of a spoon, which is associated with the pouring of holy ghee or oil onto a sacrificial pyre, signifying Brahma as the lord of sacrifices. Another of His hands holds a jar or coconut shell containing water. The water in this jar signifies the initial, all-encompassing ether in which the first element of creation evolved. Brahma also holds a string of prayer beads, which He uses to keep track of the Universe's time. He is also shown holding the Vedas and, sometimes, a lotus flower. There are symbols involved here. e.g., Brahmā's four arms represent the four cardinal directions: east, south, west, and north. The back right hand represents mind, the back left hand represents intellect, the front right hand is ego, and the front left hand is self-confidence. The Four Faces indicate the four Vedas (the Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda).
Even our other great epic the "Ramayana" is still not understood very well... to this day. e.g., Ravana - the primary antagonist in the "Ramayan" epic and the King of Lanka - is usually shown/depicted with 10 heads. But, there are scholars who say that he did not have 10 heads, but 10 kingdoms and each kingdom was represented by a different crown. While others say, Ravana was very well versed in the 4 Vedas and the 6 Upanishads... so, he was thought to be equivalent to 10 scholars. He also possessed a thorough knowledge of Ayurveda and political science and was a great chanter of the Sama Veda. After Ravana had been given the "Celestial juice of Immortality" by Lord Brahma, he went on to please Lord Shiva. He cut his own head and offered it as a sacrifice for pleasing Lord Shiva, but Lord Shiva replaced his head with a new one. This was repeated nine times, after which Lord Shiva was greatly pleased with Ravana's resilience and devotion. Thus he also got the name 'Dassa-sheesha' meaning "the one with ten heads". He also acquired the name 'Ravana', meaning "(He) Of the terrifying roar", given to him by Lord Shiva. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Lord Shiva also gave to him the divine sword "Chandrahas" (the "Moon-blade"). Ravana in turn became a lifelong devotee of Lord Shiva and is said to have composed the hymn known as Shiva Tandava Stotra. Ravana was born to his father the Brahmin sage known as Vishrava and his wife, the daitya princess Kaikesi. He was born in the Devagana gotra, as his grandfather, sage Pulastya, was the one of the six human sons of Lord Brahma.
Some say he was Sita's father. It is mentioned in one of the chapters of the "Srimad-Bhagavatam", that Sita was actually his daughter. During one of the 'Ceremonial Yagya' By Lord Shiva, Ravana was given the 'Boon Water', which he was told to give to his wife Mandodari (daughter of the celestial architect Mayasura and an apsara named Hema. Mandodari was renowned for her wisdom and grace as well as beauty and chastity. She is often compared to Sita, the most beautiful woman described in Indian spiritualism). While on the way back to his kingdom, both the husband and wife slept in a lonely forest. During the night, Ravana felt thirsty, so he drank that 'boon water' and was impregnated. While on the way back to his kingdom the next day, he coughed ferociously and Sita is said to have landed in Janakpur, The kingdom of King Janaka, who while ploughing in ceremony after performing the Yagya for the rains in his drought hit kingdom, struck a metal vessel with the lowest blade of the plough called 'Seet', this is how Sita's name originated.
Note: Some info gathered, Courtesy: Wikipedia.
Lord Krishna and Arjuna blowing the conch... during the Kurukshetra War... a scene from our great epic, the Mahabharata.