Friday, January 18, 2013

Reclaiming our History | Decoding the Ramayana: The *real* Shri Ram: Whether he was a "bad husband" and what is 'Ram-Rajya'? (Part-XVI)

Author's Note: Please visit - The 'Real' Ramayana/ Ram-Rajya - to read the other parts of this series, so as to be able to fully understand or grasp the contents of this one. 

What does the 'Parasurama-avatar' signify? Who really was Karna? Who is a "Suta"? Why is Karna called a "Suta-putra"? What does 'Rishi', 'Muni', 'Maharshi' and 'Brhmharshi' signify? Notes on: 'Kshatriya', 'Rajput', 'Rathi', 'Maharathi', 'Sarathi', 'Paarthsarathi'; 'Gandharva-Vivaha'; Yudhisthira's 'curse'; the various Krishnas presiding over the Mahabharata; 'Sati-saras', 'Prajapati', Maharshi Veda Vyasa, Rishi Kashyap, 'gotra', etc. Some thoughts on: the 'Shiv-Sati' stories.   

The Mahabharata (the itihasa of the 3rd era - the Dvapar Yug) has been presided over by not one, but three Krishnas.

1.  Krsnadvaipayana Vyasa, popularly known as Maharshi Veda Vyasa: the son of the matysa-kanya Satyavati and the venerated Maharshi Parashar; born out of a short-term "Gandharva Vivaha". Vyasa was responsible for conducting various medical miracles (via the usage of advanced medical science): resulting in the birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidur; as well as that of the "Kauravas". [Part-V.] He did not impregnate or cohabit with Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. Hence, the perception that he was the "progenitor" of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidur is clearly wrong. It is a mistranslation by sundry aliens and their spiritual offspring and disciples. But then, by misinterpreting and tweaking our ancient texts, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, a chunk of a certain class were able to come up with "niyog-pratha": wherein they 'cited the ancient texts' - so as to be able to cohabit with the women of the Kshatriya groups, etc - and father their progeny, all in the name of dispelling their childlessness. [Krsna = dark, dark-complexioned. Dvaipayana is derived from dveep (island), since he was born in an island (dvaipayana). Veda = a reference to the four Vedas/Veds. Vyasa, since it is believed that he was responsible for dividing the Vedas into four parts.]

2.  Kṛṣṇa or Shri Krsna, now known and revered as Bhagavan Shri Krishna. [And if we were to address him the way we name or call ourselves, he would be: Krishna Vasudev Yadav. Since he hailed from the Chandravanshi Yadavvansh or the Moon-worshiping Kshatriya Yadav clan (whose preceptor was Raja Yayati's eldest son - Yadu.)] He is also known as Devaki-nandan (son of Devaki), Yashoda-nandan (son of Yashoda; Yashoda was his foster-mother) and Nand-lal or Nanda-lala (meaning: son of Nanda; Nanda was the chief of the cowherds or milkmen - Gwals/Gwalas - and Krishna's foster-father).

3.  Kṛṣṇā draupadī or Krishnaa, also known as Panchali, and best known as Draupadi. [Panchali, since she hailed from the royal family of Pañcāla or Panchala. Draupadi, since she was the daughter of the Pañcāla Naresh - Raja Drupad.]

Maharshi Ved Vyasa clearly possessed vast knowledge, and this can be attributed to his father, Maharshi Parashar. In ancient times, a handful of people (amongst the ones that were involved in imparting knowledge/education) - were very learned persons indeed. [Even in the current era - the Kali yug - we find Chanakya performing what is now known as an emergency "Caesarean operation" - to bring out Bindusara, after his mother had unknowingly ingested poison-laced food.] 

[Note: Rishi, Muni, Maharshi, Brhmharshi, etc essentially were titles by which learned, venerable and knowledgeable persons were known as and referred to - in ancient times (especially in the earlier eras). The titles differed, based on the level or the amount of knowledge they possessed; these titles may have been upgraded, once they gathered more knowledge. That Veda Vyasa was an extremely prodigious child can be clearly understood from the narrative, which says: that "he immediately grew up" - soon after birth. This means: he was an extremely prodigious talent, and his speed of learning was astonishing; what teenagers and adults strove to learn, he easily learned as a child or barely into his teens. That is: he became a towering scholar while still in his teens.] 

Now, what was the source of all these highly advanced knowledge and technology (that our ancients, including those from previous eras or yugs, possessed), since the modern world seems to be unaware of them, or at the most have only seen a few of them (and that too in much "lesser" forms/versions)?

Well, to figure this out, we will have to consider the 6th 'avatar' (of the "Dasavatara") - the 'Parasurama-avatar'.

The 6th 'avatar' (of the "Dasavatara") - the 'Parasurama-avatar' represents the Sapta-Rishis and their progeny. These were various sets of humans that walked on this earth; they were very different from the humans represented by the 4th-avatar - the 'Narasimha-avatar' and the 5th-avatar - the 'Vamana-avatar'; as well as the 7th avatar - the 'Ram-avatar' and the 9th avatar - the 'Krishna-avatar'. The Sapta-Rishis are the seven enlightened persons/sages that arrived in ancient Kashmir. [Note: the 'Parasurama-avatar' has nothing to do with Rishi Parasurama per se. The Big Dipper asterism is also called Saptarshi - in Sanskrit. Parasu = axe; Parasurama = Rama with the axe.]

The Valley of Kashmir (ancient Kashyap-pur) got its name from Kashyap Rishi (one of the Sapta-Rishis or one of the seven enlightened persons/sages.) The Kashmir valley originally was a vast lake called "Satisaras", named after Sati (actual name: Dakshayani; daughter of Daksha.) She is also called Satī, since Sati = the feminine of sat ("true").

Therefore, Sati was someone that lived in the 1st era: very likely during the middle or later part of the Sat/Satya/Krita Yug - and pre-dated Parvati. She is said to be the daughter of Prajapati Daksha. [Here, "Prajapati" probably means a king or an influential chieftain; Daksha may have exerted his writ or influence - in the foothills of the Himalayas and surrounding areas.]

The Sati-saras or "Sati's lake" probably was a treacherous lake whose waters were of no use to anyone. So, the leader of the "Nags" (Anant Nag) later drained it off and made this area habitable. It is also possible that some miscreants (possibly certain type of humans like the Pisachas who preyed on humans and dead bodies) may have been using this area for negative activities/purposes. Anant Nag and his fellow Nags fought these Pisachas and slayed them, and thereafter, turned this area into a peaceful and habitable place. Anant Nag renamed this place or valley as Kashyap-pur or Kashyap-mira - after his father: Rishi Kashyap.

[Now: whether the Caspian of the Caspian Sea is also derived from Kashyap - I do not quite know. And whether the Caucasus Mountains are actually Kaikeshi Mountains - my guess is as good as yours. Kaikeshi was Ravan's mother; the name Ravana is derived from the root, 'Ra' which signifies the sun. In ancient Egyptian culture 'Ra' = Sun. We know that various groups of people from this land ventured out - in search of greener pastures, and traveled far and wide, taking with them the culture, heritage, knowledge and majesty of this great land; as a result, other faraway lands have been enriched.] 

Rishi Kashyap was the progenitor of a variety of humans: hence he is also referred to as Prajapati Kashyap. [Here, Prajapati = progenitor; since he was responsible for 'creating'/giving rise to/fathering various humans. Meaning: he was the progenitor of many different kinds of humans who went on to become the Aryas, the Devas, the Asuras, the Nags, the Danavas, the Daityas, the Rakshasas, and so on - through his many wives.]

Ravana was born to a great sage - Rishi Vishrava (or Vesamuni), and his wife, the daitya princess Kaikesi. [Ram and Ravana were "gynatis" or related people, since they had a "Sapta-Rishi" connection.]

The various groups of humans that originated from the Sapta-Rishis (and not just from Rishi Kashyap) may have been collectively known as the: "Arya" or the "Aryaee" people. [Since they would have clearly differed in appearance and lifestyle; and very likely spoke a different language (or languages) - vis-à-vis the humans that were already present or preceded them: such as the various groups of Van-nar or "Vanaras" ("forest-dwelling humans") and the "Yakshas".

These "Arya" or "Aryaee" people probably called the other humans that were already present in ancient India, i.e. the ones that pre-dated/preceded their arrival - as the "DAsa" or "Dasa" people.

"DAsa" or "Dasa" means "ten", so there may have been 10 distinct groups of humans that pre-dated/preceded the arrival of the "Arya" or "Aryaee" humans. It is possible that the "Arya" people referred to the pre-existing humans (collectively) as: the "DAsa" or "Dasa" people. [We will discuss this in greater detail, including the origins of the "Sapta-Rishis", in our later posts.] 

Kashyap is a gotra. Several Indian and non-Indian communities claim descent from the Sapta-Rishis. A person of Kashyap Gotra is a person who traces his or her descent from the ancient sage Rishi Kashyap and (maybe) Suryavansh (Sun-worshipping clans). [Gotra indicates: origin or descent.]

[It is possible that initially these humans that were born due to the Sapta-Rishis may have worshiped the Sun - since the Sun (Surya) provided warmth from extreme cold weather. Thereafter, they may have worshiped the Fire (Agni) - for the same reason. Later, some may have worshiped the Moon (Chandra) - since the moon not only helped them to see at night, but also exerted immense influence on the water-bodies, including the human body - which too largely consists of water. As the population grew, the people may have scattered, and hence, identities too may have grown distinct. Some groups may have taken to worshiping the Nags (the serpents - since these areas may have been infested with serpents); the air (Pavan or Vayu - a vital element of life), water (or Varun - yet another vital element of life) and so on.]

Today: cutting across clans, groups, communities, castes, languages and regions, one finds people belonging to Kashyap Gotra (apart from having gotras denoting descent from other sages, of course.) However: over the last many millenniums, there has been a constant intermingling of people, culture and blood, thereby giving rise to wholly different sets of humans, languages and cultures. Rishi Kashyap is part of Buddhist (as Mahavagga Kassapo), Jain and Sikh texts (as the second avtar of Brahma). Mahavagga is very likely "Mahabhagya" or "the very fortunate one". Or in other words: "Bhagavan".

However: the "Shiv-Sati" stories should not be mixed with the "Shiv-Parvati" stories. The "Shiv-Sati" stories are also referring to certain natural-cum-celestial events, besides documenting Shiv and Sati's story. To my mind, there were two Shivs - two human Shivs; one of whom we find with Parvati, the other may have been his ancestor and Sati's consort. [Later translators have got confused and mixed them up, by bringing in stories of 'reincarnation', etc. Perhaps: Yash Chopra in one of his earlier incarnations wrote these 'reincarnation' stories involving Sati and Parvati. :)  Also: the various cults that came up in Shiv's name too may have contributed their bit (including the Aghoris, and the tantric Kapalik order.)

'Shiv' is associated with tandav nritya or turbulence. The 'moving force' behind the cosmos is also called Shiv; this force or energy (as per our ancients) must remain inert so that there is no cosmic turbulence (also: tandav nritya). This is the celestial 'Shiv'. On earth, 'Shiv' may have been the name/title bestowed upon the best warrior of that era. [Note: the narrative about Shiv wandering about in the cosmos with Sati's lifeless body on his shoulders, and Shri Vishnu chopping off her body into several pieces - with his golden disc or Sudarshan Chakra - is clearly a cosmic phenomenon. Due to the passage of time and thanks to misinterpretations, etc, lines have become blurred.]

Incidentally: Shiv may have also been known as "Eknath"; Akhenaten (pron.: also spelled Echnaton, Akhenaton, Ikhnaton, and Khuenaten) is nothing but a corrupt version of "Eknath" - due to the change in phonetics. During the course of our discussions, we have talked about various groups of people from this land venturing out - in search of greener pastures. That a part of ancient Egypt's culture and heritage has come from this great land is indisputable. [We will of course discuss this in greater detail in our later posts.]

By the way: Duryodhan has managed to garner some sympathy since he is said to have befriended the supposedly "Suta-putra" Karna. Karna means "ears" (ears are called 'karn' in Sanskrit.) But unfortunately, "Suta-putra" has been mistranslated as: "son of a charioteer" and therefore, "low-born". Karna is addressed as a "Suta-Putra" simply because this was one of the many ways of addressing a person (in that era). It was a common norm of that era; even Shri Krishna is addressed as: "Kshatriya-Shresht" (meaning: 'the best amongst the Kshatriyas'; kshatriya is an amalgamation of two words: Ksat means injury, and tra means deliver. Hence a 'kshatriya' means: a brave-heart, someone who protects others from harm, from adharm, and from aasuric or negative influences or entities - anywhere, and not just in the battlefield.)

It was based on a person's "varna" (i.e. on one's talent, aptitude, nature or pravritti.) In other words: on one's swa-dharma. [Do read: Part-XII - to get the drift.] There was no concept of "caste" in Dvapar; caste is a foreign word and is derived from the Portuguese word "Casta", meaning: purity of descent.

Karan automatically came under the "Suta" group, since he was thought to be the son (putra) of Adhirath and Radha; and hence, he shocked everyone by picking up weapons. Adhirath was Raja Santanu's sarathi or charioteer. [Whether he was of Ashvaka descent - my guess is as good as yours. Do read: Part-VIII.] Adhirath was a martial person (a Kshatriya) and an expert charioteer - which was a crucial and critical expertise - in the battlefield, one that was much valued. We can see the courtesy and respect extended to Sanjay, who too was a Kshatriya, a charioteer, and a "Suta". [Sanjay may have been of Ashvaka descent as well. However, the chariots that they expertly maneuvered on the battlefield are unlikely to have been anywhere like the somewhat rickety structures depicted in various shows these days.]

The "Sutas" were Kshatriyas; they were learned persons that did not pick up weapons (to fight in the battlefield.) They chose to become sarathi (now translated as: charioteers) or wandering minstrels/poets (kusalavya) instead. A renowned kusalavya of that era was: Ugrasrava, son of Lomarsana, known as Sauti to one and all. [Sauti is derived from "Suta". And we must also remember that even Shri Krishna chose to become a "Suta" in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, hence he is also known as Parthasarathi. Parth = another name for Arjun.] 

Those who fought in the battlefield were known as 'Rathi' or 'Maharathi' - based on their caliber, laurels, usage and knowledge of weaponry, knowledge of warfare, and perhaps even experience - as a warrior. Hence: 'Sarathi' can also be described/understood/interpreted as 'a warrior who did not pick up weapons, despite being in the battlefield, and participating in the battle/war'. Their expertise lay elsewhere - in intelligently maneuvering the chariots (raths) so that the 'Rathi' or the 'Maharathi' derived maximum advantage, and this no doubt required a very sharp understanding of the battlefield as well as various types of warfare. 

Rath = chariot. Rathi = a warrior atop the chariot (rath). Maharathi = a far more accomplished warrior - atop the chariot (rath). Sarathi = a warrior maneuvering the chariot (rath). 

[Much later, in the current era, a group of Kshatriyas decided to shun weapons and picked up the pen instead: the Kayastha community. They too would have come under the "Suta" group. BTW, Rajputs are Kshatriyas that have a royal background. "Rajput" denotes royal descent, i.e. these Kashatriyas hailed from a royal lineage. Raj = royal. Put = children, offspring, descendents. The Rajputs are very much part of this land and are Kshatriyas.]

Karna was a Maharathi and a close friend of Duryodhan. During the Pandava's exile period he helped Duryodhan become the ruler of a large kingdom, by conquering various lands. The kings of these lands either accepted Duryodhan's suzerainty and swore allegiance to him, or chose to die in the battlefield, defending their kingdoms. Karna is said to have subdued the kingdoms of Kamboja, Shaka, Kekaya, Avantya, Gandhara, Madraka, Trigarta, Tangana, Panchala, Videha, Suhma, Vanga, Nishada, Kalinga, Vatsa, Ashmaka, Rishika and numerous others, including Mlecchas and many forest tribes.

A "Suta" is also the offspring of mixed parentage, more precisely that of a Kshatriya-Brahmin parentage. However: I suspect that this word (Suta) has undergone some mutations down the years and has given rise to the current word: Shudra.

[Post the demise of the Gupta era, whatever has been wrecked upon this great land and her people - in the name of 'birth', 'caste', etc - can be traced to the higher board game of "divide and rule" played by an assortment of friendly colonizers (that descended on this land.) These entities were ably aided by home-grown vested interests, especially belonging to a large chunk of a certain class - that could easily mistranslate and mutilate our ancient texts - in order to not only accumulate power, influence and other materialistic aspects for themselves, but also to stratify society along gender lines, and along community, 'race', 'caste', linguistic and ethnic lines.]

Much of the confusion about Karna is due to the perceptions about him, chief amongst these are: 1. Kunti abandoned him right after birth - 'so as to avoid shame, since Karana was born out of wedlock'. 2. Draupadi (who apparently later "lusted" after him) 'rejected' him @ her 'Svayamvar' - since he was a "Suta" and therefore, "low-born"...!

However: all of these are clearly later-day add-on, thanks to the changing times, influence of various types of aliens and other vested interests (especially the ones that blatantly mistranslated our ancient texts). [It is also possible that these later add-ons and mistranslations came about so as to aid our internal and external vested interests to stratify society + bring down the position of women + mutilate Sanaatan Dharma.]

There was no concept of 'extra-marital affairs' or 'illegitimate children' during the Vedic eras or during the earlier eras (and perhaps until the various types of friendly colonizers arrived.) Vedic marriages were of many types, and Gandharva Vivaha represented a short-term union (vivaha) between a male and a female... where there were no rituals involved. Gandharva Vivaha happened either to beget a progeny or for the sake of simply coming together. [We tend to forget that Maharshi Vedavyas himself was born out of one such union between the 'matsya-kanya' (the fisher-woman) Satyavati and the renowned sage Maharshi Parashar. Satyavati later married the Kshatriya king of Hastinapur, Maharaj Santanu, and had two sons: Chitrāngad and Vichitravirya.]
Therefore: Kunti clearly did not 'abandon' Karana 'for fear of being shamed'. Nor did she place the basket (containing the infant Karna) on the waters of the river Aswa (a tributary of the river Ganga) - as is popularly believed. Karan was an unnatural human, born as a result of very advanced genetic engineering. He (very likely) was a radiant-and-remarkable-looking baby. I would like to believe that this may have induced someone to kidnap him. But whoever it was that kidnapped him, abandoned him later, since taking care of him may not have been an easy task - given that he was an unnatural human. Later, the childless couple - Adhirath and Radha found him, and brought him up as their own son. [Hence Karna is also known as Radheya: son of Radha, though he was named Vasusena by his adoptive parents. As for his real 'father', we will discuss that in our later posts.]

And no, Draupadi did not 'lust after Karna'. Nor did Krishna offer her as bait to him - to induce him to join the Pandavas. These are later-day embellishments to attract crowds @ stage plays, etc; though Karna did suffer from the same limitations as Bhishma Pitamah though - regarding attachment to a vow as a be-all and end-all. Despite understanding and accepting that Duryodhan's actions were abominable [Part-XV], he chooses friendship over defense of dharm (and this is not the mark of a true Kshatriya.) However: it is unlikely that Karna called Draupadi a "whore" (veshya), or said that a "whore" had no right, and thus there was nothing wrong in bringing Draupadi nude in the court, etc. These are again later-day add-on by various dramatists, poets, and the like. Reason: the Pandavas, Draupadi and Karna were all unnatural humans, and it is unlikely that Karna was unaware of the manner of their birth. [Also: "veshya" is a word/lingo that is much closer to our times.]

Therefore: all the sob stories and pathos-filled poems about Kunti abandoning Karna (soon after his birth) or asking him to throw away "Radheya" and take on the name of "Kaunteya" instead - are the figment of the extremely fertile imagination of later-day authors, interpreters, poets, dramatists and the like. Ditto the ones about Karna giving away his "kaavacha" (armour) and "kundaal"/"Kundala" (wrongly translated as: a pair of ear-rings) in 'daan' (charity) - to Shri Vishnu or Indra disguised as a Brahmin. This is because: Karna's "kaavacha" and "kundaal" are simply indicators of his status as an unnatural human (more likely that of a highly-evolved humanoid.)

So, how could he give away something that cannot be given away?!

"Kaavacha" (armour) is simply a metaphor to indicate that Karna was very difficult to kill (since he was an unnatural human; it is not to be taken at face value or literally.) While "Kundaal" or "Kundala" is perhaps derived from "kundalini" (kuṇḍalinī), meaning: "coiled". [Sanskrit: kund - "to burn"; kunda - "to coil or to spiral".]

Hence, I interpret "kundaal" or "Kundala" as the circuits - inside Karna's body - more specifically, near his ears (karna). Only if the "Kundaal" is 'taken off' or attacked - Karna will be destroyed, nothing else could destroy him (as indicated by the "kaavacha"). [Therefore: Karna could not have donated either his "Kaavacha" or his "Kundaal". Ever.] 

Frankly: wherever the later interpreters have got confused or have not understood something (e.g. technology) - they have altered the narrative. Plus: there has been much contemporisation as well as excessive moralistic discourse weaved into the narrative, with an eye to attracting bigger audience during stage plays, etc. Apart from loads of mischief of course - so as to be able to stratify society + bring down the position of women. [E.g.: the work of our ancient female scholars, like: Khana, Gargi, Mayitri, et al have either vanished without a trace or have been suitably 'amended'.]

[A chunk of those that have mistranslated, added + perpetuated various embellishments have also come up with long narratives about how Radha and Krishna still dance together; Radha's date of birth - complete with the 'fact' that she was 5 or 8 years older to Krishna and was his aunt (!), Brahmin-bhojan, exclusive housing societies/gated communities, and the like. These entities are also the ones that have thought up some fictitious narrative (that accuse Krishna of some very disgusting activities), and then ritualistically hurl the choicest of abuses at him - while pulling his 'rath'. All in the name of custom and ritual. As for Ram and Sita, we already know what has been done to them.] 

Incidentally, there's a story that goes like this: when Karna was on his deathbed, Indra and Surya had a dispute regarding Karna's generosity, and to settle the same they approached him disguised as mendicants. Karna regretfully told them that since he had nothing left, he could give them nothing. The 'mendicants' respond by reminding Karna about his golden tooth. Thereafter, Karna is said to have broken his golden tooth with a stone... and given it to the mendicant duo, thus epitomizing the way of life he led (i.e. his "daanveer" status.) However, we must not take these stories at face value. They have very likely come about or been incorporated much later - so as to convey certain morals or teach some values and virtues. [Several other well-known characters from our ancient itihasa, such as Ram, Krishna, Arjun, et al too have been used in a variety of stories whose primary aim or motive was to teach good lessons or to inculcate good values, especially amongst children and youngsters.] 

The narrative also tells us that: following the Kurukshetra war, Tarpan vidhi (rites of passage) were performed for all the dead warriors, and that Kunti asked her five sons (the Pandavas) to perform the rites for Karna as well. However, they protested, saying that since Karna was a charioteer (suta-putra), this was below their dignity. [Now, this bit is clearly the work of later (mis)interpreters, (mis)translators, authors, dramatists, poets, and the like - so as to stratify society, by blatantly mistranslating our ancient texts. We have already discussed what "Suta" "Rathi", "Maharathi" and "Sarathi" mean, including the most famous of all sarathis: Paarthsarathi.) 

There's more: apparently when the Pandavas protested, Kunti revealed the "truth of Karna's birth". And this so shocked and infuriated that "model of righteousness" - Yudhisthira - that he laid a curse upon all womankind: that they would never be able to keep a secret, henceforth...!

Need I say more? :)

BTW: even a cursory reading of Draupadi's speech (@ the Kaurava Court) clearly brings out her immense contempt for this man. 

A few centuries ago, there was no big and small screen [Link]. But there were plenty of wandering theatres, stage shows and stage plays; poetry and drama; including our so-called epics (actually: pracheen itihasa), which were given the required twist - in order to bring in various regressive aspects (and entrench them firmly). Visual medium is very powerful, its influence lingers. And these theatres, stage shows, stage plays, et al had powerful backers/patrons. [Negative values/events/customs are very easy to bring in, but extremely difficult to uproot, since it creates powerful vested interests that fight tooth and nail to protect their turf.]  

[We will continue our discussions in the next post...] 

(Do stay tuned…) 

Pictures: Illustrations of Rishi Veda Vyasa, the Parasurama-avatar, Shiv-Sati and Kunti "abandoning" an infant Karna.  

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