Friday, January 25, 2013

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

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. 

Why is Shri Ram known as: "Raghu", "Raghunandan", "Raghav" and "Raghupati"? What does "adivasi" and "vaanvasi" mean? Who is a "Chakravarti Raja"? Why is Sri Ram known as a "Chakravarti Raja"? What does a "Chakra" represent? Why is Shri Krishna depicted with the "Sudarshan Chakra" (or the golden disc)? Notes on: some great teachers; the duties (dharma) of a teacher; "Dramila"; Paanchajanya; Karna's 'chariot wheel' sinking to the ground; our education system; nation-building; the "kupamandup syndrome", etc.

Shri Ram was able to surmount great odds and accomplish various noble tasks - for the good of society and for the welfare of the people. He refused to accept the injustices prevailing in society - during his time - even though these were accepted as 'societal norms' (maryada). Instead, he dismantled these accepted societal norms (maryada) - for the greater good, and thereby established a just society (Ram Rajya). Hence, he is hailed as 'Maryada-Purushottam'. [Do read: Part-IX.]

As we know, Shri Ram belonged to the Suryavanshi Ikshvaku clan or the Kshatriya Sun-worshiping Ikshvaku clan, which is a part of the 'Puruvansh' (the Puru lineage). Raja Yayati's youngest son, Puru, is the progenitor of the Puru clan or the Bharatas (from which 'Bharat-Varsh' derives her name. Do read Part-XIII - to know the meaning of 'Bharat-varsha'.) Shri Ram is the most famous personality of this clan. However, the Ikshvaku clan is also known as: Raghuvaṃśa or Raghukula after Raghu - a valourous king of this clan, lineage or dynasty. Raghu was an ancestor of Shri Ram, and hence, Ram is also known as 'Raghav' or 'Raghunandan', meaning: belonging to the Raghus or hailing from the Raghuvaṃśa or Raghukula. ['Suryavanshi' does not mean 'descending from the Sun'; that is a mistranslation - by aliens. 'Suryavanshi' means Sun-worshiping.]

Dasaratha (Ram's father) was an able ruler, and there have been other great kings like Bhagiratha and Sagara - who too were part of this great lineage. However, all of them worked for the welfare of their praja (people) - within the framework of the accepted societal norms (maryada) of their times. Hence, these great kings (Bhagiratha, Sagara, etc) were 'Maryada-Purush'. Bhagiratha, of course, was instrumental in getting the gupt or hidden river Ganga (that flowed beneath the ground) to emerge out of the mountains, and thereafter bringing the waters of this river to the whole of this land. This way he solved the irrigation and drinking water needs of the people. [Do read: Part-XIII.]

However, unlike some of his illustrious ancestors who were 'Maryada-Purush', Shri Ram was and remains a 'Maryada-Purushottam'; someone that surmounted a variety of constraints put forth by an assortment of entities, rules and norms (of his times), and successfully performed various noble deeds - that were good for the people and for society. Ram (and Sita) did not accept the injustices of their time; they chose to undo them instead. And for this they were willing to face great odds and discomfort.

Frankly, Siya-Ram and Krishna (as well as Draupadi and Kunti) could have easily led a peaceful and comfortable life, given their positions. They could have accepted the prevailing conditions and compromised with the dominant entities and/or simply looked the other way. But they did nothing of the sort. Instead, they chose to do what they did. They chose the path they eventually traveled and the hard life they had to consequently lead; they chose to undo obnoxious social ills, and dismantle negative perceptions/mindsets; they chose to be 'patita-pavana' - the deliverer of the oppressed; they chose to use their time, energy, effort and means to protect the noble principles of the 'Sanaatan Dharma'; they chose to use their power for the greater good. And they made their choice despite being cognizant of the formidable odds, and despite being fully aware that the entrenched interests would invariably come after them. And yet, they chose to become "Neelkanth" - so as to be able to bring about the necessary changes in perception/mindset/society. In the wise words of Gurudeb Robi Thakur: "... aami jeneshune bish korechi paan". Yes, in order to bring about positive change, one has to take the proverbial poison. Jeneshune (janbujhkar). [It is not a matter of choice, but inevitable and inescapable, since the situations aren't ideal + an assortment of entities try their hardest - to put a spanner in the works.]

Even Chanakya. This great man could have remained in Takshasheela (then the greatest center of learning) and ignored the white Macedonian python. Or he could have genuflected before the debauched and tyrannical Dhana Nanda and his cronies... and consequently gained immense material benefits. But he did neither. Chanakya remained steadfast; his eyes firmly fixed on a higher goal, a goal much higher than himself, despite the many insults and personal trials - the proverbial 'agni-pareeksha'. Now, what was Chanakya's 'agni-pareeksha', you ask? Immense: something that would have destroyed, broken or overwhelmed any ordinary mortal. Chanakya withstood extreme humiliation and imprisonment; saw his family ruined, and his father, Acharya Chanak (Canak), humiliated, imprisoned and hanged - the body left to rot. And as per some accounts, even his fiancée was forcibly taken away and turned into Dhana Nanda's mistress. [Some suggest: she was turned into Rakshasa's mistress. Rakshasa was Dhana Nanda's powerful minister and Chanakya's lifelong adversary.] 

Yet, our academic colossi excel in calling him "thin", "skinny", "pockmarked-faced", "ugly looking", "misogynist" and whatnot...! And worse: as "Indian Machiavelli", although Chanakya's works predate Machiavelli's "The Prince" by about 1800 years, and have clearly influenced it...! We are truly independent, and not mind-controlled. QED. :)

Chanakya is also known as Chanakya Pandit and addressed as "Acharya". [Pandit = honorific/title for a learned person. Acharya = honorific for a teacher.] He was a student at the famed Takshasheela University, and later taught economics and political science there. Frankly, Chanakya may not have been a Brahmin by birth; in case he was, he was very unlike those that mutilated our ancient texts for petty personal gains. Chanakya may have been a Kayastha - born into a Kayastha family, like the great Swami Vivekananda. Kayasthas are Kshatriyas who shunned weapons and picked up the pen instead, many of them joined the administrative services. In Dvapar, they would have been known as: "Suta". [Do read: Part-XVI - to know more about "Suta".]

I say this 'coz he did not advocate jap-tap, puja-path, unending rituals, dip in the Ganga, and the like, to achieve one's goal or purpose in life or to build a nation. Instead, he stressed on Karm Yog - action. Also: the very fact that Chanakya made his arguments about statecraft, power and governance without a reference to divinity, makes him (in my eyes at least) a true political scientist, as well as the founder/father of political science (in the current yug/era). He stressed on "dharma," that elusive word that lays down what is right, and indicates one's duty despite the odds. "Dharma" is not to be confused as "religion", that too is a mistranslation by aliens and their spiritual progeny. Dharma = the right path or way of life; where the focus is on fighting adharm (negativities and profanity), so as to protect the noble principles of our ancient heritage/the Sanaatan Dharma. Chanakya was also the pioneer economist of the world. [And to me, he is the Shri Krishna of the current era, 'coz he was an able spiritual disciple of that remarkable transcendental man.]

Some accounts indicate that Chanakya was a "Dramila". Now, "Dramila" means, "running away" or "escaping". It is possible that this word was used (by our ancients) to refer to the people who escaped the great deluge that swallowed up Dvarka (Dvaravati). Later, these displaced people settled down in various parts of the country, and Chanakya may have been born into one such family. [However, it is also possible that with time, this word - Dramila - underwent certain changes, and gave rise to a new word, "Dravida".]

[There are multiple accounts of Chanakya's life, and given the passage of time and the many influences, it is difficult to reconstruct the events with 100% accuracy. However, we will try to do it as best as we can - in our later posts, wearing our worn-out Sherlock Holmes hat and invoking Feluda's famed 'mogojastro'. :)]

BTW, we mentioned that these great humans chose the path they traveled or the life they led, right? But, I guess, it is also the other way round. Even the path they traveled and the life they led... chose them. 'Coz a "jog" or a "sanjog" (connection) cannot happen unilaterally. [What our ancients knew as "yog" probably is derived from "jog" - to connect, to add: allowing them to gather immense knowledge and know-how from nature (Prakriti), creation (Shrishti), space (Vyoma) and the universe (Brhmaand). [Addition is known as "jog" in Bangla, subtraction is "biyog".] This immense and illumined knowledge in turn helped our ancients build wondrous structures + achieve awesome medical and other technological wonders. This "yog" is not to be confused with what passes for "yoga" these days, or have been masquerading as "yoga" for a while now.]

These great humans, in my humble opinion, have exemplified Gurudeb's timeless words:

|| Aamar je shhob dite hobe shhey to aami jani
Aamar joto bitto prabhu aamar joto bani
Shhob dite hobe ||

Yes, these great humans had to give up a lot - so as to bring about positive change. [You see, being "Neelkanth" is not easy.] They had to give up a trouble-free and comfortable life; they had to give up their riches, face turbulent times and live in hardship. 'Coz they knew: je "shhob dite hobe" - that they have to give up their all to bring about the required change.

[However: this should not be construed as Ram subjecting Sita to "purification rituals" or "suspecting her fidelity/chastity" - ever. These obnoxious customs were socially accepted norms or "maryada" of that era, decreed by a certain class, against which/whom Siya-Ram struggled. [Do read: Part-I.] But, thanks to numerous mistranslations, embellishments and contemporisation (which we have discussed in some detail - during the course of this series), this "suspecting of Sita's fidelity/chastity" bit and "subjecting her to purification rituals" bit has been supplanted much later. Now, what do you think it helped bring about? Do put on your thinking cap. And while you are at it, do also spare a thought for the current version of the "Shiv-Sati" stories, which tell us: 'Sati immolated herself' in order to "uphold her husband's honour".

That our ancient texts have been indiscriminately mutilated is indisputable, but do pause and think about the havoc it has wrecked - on our society and on our collective psyche. Sanaatan Dharma has always been about balance - Ardhanarishvara. A female is not inferior to the male, neither is the husband deity-like.

So, what do you think was achieved by bringing in Sati's 'self-immolation' and the now-familiar version of Sita's 'agni-pareeksha' - into our ancient texts (that incidentally, also served as reference points)?

We will of course discuss the Shiv-Sati stories as well as the Shiv-Parvati stories - soon, in light of the "Devi Mahatmyam", and we will also try to gather the still available bits and pieces of scattered aspects - that will help us to reasonably piece things together.]


Gurudeb also said: 

|| Betosher moto shobhyo shikkhya shekheni jara,
hawa-r neshaye maati, bot-er moto khola mathe aajo royeche khada ...||

These greats, to (sort of) borrow Gurudeb's thoughts, did not learn the shobhyo (civilized) shikkhya (lesson) dispensed by the betosh (cane, reed) - to bend with the wind; instead: they chose to remain standing - with their head held high - like the bot (banyan tree).

Else: all those negative "maryada" would have prevailed, and the Macedonian python + the then all-constricting Magadhan python would have made merry.

[Umm, BTW, while a ruler halfway around the world (supposedly) renounced his throne - to marry his sweetheart, Shri Ram (we are told) "renounced" his beloved wife - to save his throne. Ha! :)]

But there is a need for some serious introspection, a need for soul searching - to understand what went wrong/where did we falter - in the last millennium or so (post the demise of the Gupta era), that the great Vedic civilization collapsed; that this great land saw the advent of horde after horde of barbaric Mlechchas; that this great land experienced a forced demise of a part of her culture and heritage; that this great land was plundered of her immense wealth - tangible, spiritual and intellectual. Paying mere lip service to our ancient culture and traditions, and reminiscing about our past glories will not do and is not enough. A glorious past is no guarantee for a shining future, unless we are prepared to jettison petty-mindedness in favour of a serious intent towards Karm Yog, in order to execute the common goal of freeing our beloved motherland (Bharatavarsha) of all the white-ant-like unwanted aspects that has seeped in. Only then can she reinvigorate herself and emerge as a great nation once again, and claim her rightful place on the world stage.

Sadly, our R&D and original research (for the last 4-5 decades at least) has stagnated (to put it mildestly, that is.) Instead, we have opted to build a nation on assumed names, fake accents, and cheap labour. We have never made any attempt to scale up on the quality and type of work that has been and is being outsourced and accepted in the name of 'synergy', 'growth, 'development' and whatnot. Hence, it is a small wonder that we have never attempted to grasp the heart, the soul, and the future of a nation that is being built as the promised land of cheap labour.

Unfortunately: a weak spine cannot support a strong mind and vice versa.

And if this trend was to continue unabated, we will get thoroughly entangled in a very potent form of neo-colonization, from whose tentacles there will be no respite... and no way out.

We have managed to create a large pool of engineering, law, medical and management graduates, even post-graduates and PhDs - thanks to proliferating educational institutes. But what is the quality of either of them? And what is the type of work they are doing, if at all? What sort of India is being built, painted brightly and then termed "new India" and all that jazz? A mirage looks good and alluring from afar, but can a nation and people become so or thrive in such an environment?

The current education system is producing tons and tons of R2D2s, zombies who know everything but can create nothing. Even on the patent count, we lag behind the Chinese and yet, neither the Indians nor the Chinese can breathe life into anything that they can proudly call their own creation/invention. There is nothing that we can claim to have visualized/conceptualized and brought to fruition. Sadly, we take China - a nation that is below pathetic in engineering and technology - as our role model, all the while steadfastly refusing to look within.

Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has been playing the Veena for almost his entire life, but we recognized him (and his talent) only after he won the Grammy. Our colonial mentality has, alas, not subsided. We constantly look to the West - for approval. Many Indians, including youngsters (from the interiors and small towns), with little formal education and no exposure to elite institutes, have been regularly coming up with some or the other innovation/contraption/machine - that can be put to good use, yet we ignore them and their creations. Our snobbishness knows no bounds; we will successfully give a complex to Pinocchio even. :)

We have an ocean of pseudo-engineers; great at theoretical understanding, but practically (?) - well, the less said the better. Even automobile engineers (from elite institutes) rely on the neighbourhood/roadside "chokra boy"/mechanic - to fix his vehicle! No, its not because of their aversion to grease, but because s/he does not know how to fix it. Yes, they know exactly how it works, but lack practical knowledge (something which a school dropout mechanic possesses.) Electrical engineers call in "mistiris" to fix electric wiring; and these "mistiris" are people who have not even passed high school. What does it say about all the theoretical knowledge that these engineers (including the ones from elite institutes) have acquired? When will they apply it practically, to fix... and to create? When will they contribute towards nation-building, instead of selling toothpaste, chocolates, shampoo, soap, soft drinks, mosquito repellant, and the like?

Putting quantity over quality is not acceptable. Yet, nobody speaks about doing something to improve the abysmal condition of our primary and secondary education system and govt. aided schools... especially in the interiors. What is the condition/quality of our faculty? And what kind of students are such teachers and sub-standard institutes nurturing/churning out?

Please watch this clip (on what is expected of teachers or the duties [dharma] of a teacher):

Sadly, such teachers are fast becoming an extinct species. The quest for power, commerce and politics has rapidly changed everything... for the worse. However, we must also keep in mind that teachers do not operate in isolation; society, especially the govt., has a tremendous responsibility - to care for and nurture them, so that they can, in turn, nurture their wards/students.

Until a few centuries ago, people from distant lands would travel to this great land - in order to imbibe knowledge. We were the best in everything: economics/math/science/medicine/arts/warfare/fine arts/literature/craft. You name it; we had the best of minds amongst us. Today: people seem to think that teaching or teachers have no 'value', completely forgetting that teachers are the backbone of a nation. The minds they nurture are the future of this nation. In ancient times, things were different, maybe even until a few centuries ago; teachers were very respected; they were the Gurus: one who imparted knowledge and guided the students... and prepared them for this journey called life. Things have taken a 180-degree turn now. Sadly.

This great land has always been the seat of learning: the Takshasheela and the Nalanda Vishwavidyalayas bear silent testimony. However, even before these universities (seats of learning; Vishwavidyalayas) came up, ancient India has been a resplendent land - in every sense of the word.

Siya-Ram, Valmiki, Krishna, Gautam Buddh, Mahaveer, Chanakya, Veda Vyas, Kashyap, Bhrigu, Rishyashringa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Bhaskara I, Bhaskara II, Shushruta, Charaka, Brahmagupta, Baudhayana, Pingala, Panini, Khana, Gargi, Mayitri/Maritrayee, Lopamudra, Lilovarti/Leelavati, Guru Nanak-dev, Vidyasagar, Ramakrishna, Sarada-ma, Sister Nivedita, Vivekananda, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay, Prafulla Chandra Ray, Meghnad Saha, Robi Thakur, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Satyajit Ray, Anant Pai (Uncle Pai), Satyendra Nath Bose, Srinivasa Ramanujan, C.V. Raman, Vishveshwarya (Sir MV), Sisir Kumar Mitra, Mani Lal Bhaumik, et al have been teachers/gurus/guides. [Frankly, the list is much longer.]  

What folks halfway around the world claim to have 'discovered', was known to our own greats - our scholars/teachers/scientists, many millennium ago. Unfortunately, while a lot of our knowledge and heritage was destroyed and ruined at the hands of various Mlechchas, a substantial part of it (including our ancient texts) was carried away (by the same Mlechchas) - over a period of time. From these Mlechcha-lands, our ancient texts and knowledge reached other lands - halfway around the world. And... most certainly, the "already highly civilized" people (inhabiting those lands) did not dump these texts somewhere or display them in some nondescript showcase. They have clearly been mining them ever since, while relentlessly injecting fictitious invasion theories. Didn't Churchill accept that these theories buttressed their claims of "superiority", thus helping them lord over other lands?!

They have been destroying other civilizations/lands in the name of research and demo-crazy; while we have happily turned into a nation in thrall of regressive matinee idols and so-called cricket heroes.

The proliferation of educational institutes with sub-standard facilities and faculty is our bane. In a few years we will be saddled with a predominance of unemployable engineering/medical/management grads; we will then have to import skilled labour from abroad. This way, not only our energy needs, but also our technical/technological/medical/management requirements/needs will be heavily dependent on aliens. They can and will have us by the jugular. We will never be able to extricate ourselves from this neo-colonization.

Yes, we do need doctors, engineers, software engineers, management grads et al, but everyone need not run after this mirage. 'Coz we also need scientists, teachers, artists, craftsmen, tailors, agriculturists, poets, mechanics, technicians, shopkeepers, and skilled and semi-skilled labour - in big numbers. All of them are required for this nation to run smoothly + generate employment. If everyone wants to (or tries to) become engineers, doctors and management grads, what will be the result/outcome? It is important that we collectively work towards restoring the balance, don't you think?

If we do not achieve food security, we will always remain weak and vulnerable, no matter how many industries we may build. We only need to look at the fate of the erstwhile Soviet Union - to imbibe this lesson. Therefore, we must preserve the ancient knowledge of this land (whatever remains of it, that is) - in various fields (be it agriculture, medicine, ecology, craft, handloom, cuisine, music, sports or anything else.)

If the progeny of farmers, artisans, and craftsmen shun their vocation and, consequently, their immense know-how and knowledge, (passed down to them from previous generations) in favour of the proverbial rat-race - to become doctors, engineers, and the like - imagine what will be lost forever?! I mean: a handful of the ones that possess the right aptitude (varna: Part-XII) are welcome to do so, but what about the vast majority who do not possess that aptitude? What will be the outcome? Will it help anyone? Imagine the imbalance? And imagine the amount of indigenous agri know-how that will be lost - forever. Isn't it prudent to preserve all of this priceless knowledge and utilize it towards strengthening our nation instead? What about Jai Kisaan? The same is applicable to the progeny of engineers and doctors too. If they do not have the aptitude (for engineering or medicine), there is no point in pushing them towards it. On the other hard, if they possess the right aptitude for the performing arts or for research, they should be encouraged. However, all of this requires a right/conducive environment and that must be created. Lamenting "brain drain" will not do. The cause must be diagnosed and rectified, the sooner the better.

So much has been ruined and lost - it boggles the mind. Nalanda was ruined and burned for three months. Takshasheela was razed and plundered as well. And though the Chambal Valley has now gained notoriety, in ancient times this was a well-known seat of learning. Extensive ruins of Buddhist monasteries can be found at Paharpur and Mahasthangarh in the northern parts of present-day Bangladesh. Imagine the amount of knowledge, culture and heritage that has been ruined and lost forever - in one fell swoop?

Unfortunately, by the 6th Century AD, diverse unwanted aspects adulterated Shri Gautam Buddh's teachings, turning his message of peace into an excessively docile version. The misunderstandings and misinterpretations by later-day scholars probably played their part. Perhaps the renowned Buddhist teacher and Pandit - Dipankar Srigyan (Atiśa Dipankara, Shrijnana) - played a role. He had set out from a village called Bajrajogini (in Bikram Pur) near Dhaka to spread (perhaps what he understood/interpreted as) Shri Buddh's message - in the whole of Tibet.

Atisa was a revered figure in his homeland, hence the people there imbibed his teachings and lessons. So, when the marauders came charging in, you can imagine what transpired. 


Unfortunately: the demise of several languages and ancient groups (clans), as well as the systematic conversion of indigenous people, the adivashis or vaanvashis (the so-called 'tribal') all over the world, to some or the other organized 'ism' - has had devastating effects vis-à-vis written and oral history, heritage, art, crafts, knowledge, ancient texts, languages, culture and folklore. We simply have no idea of what has been lost - forever.

Though, we, the Sanaatan Dharmis or Sanaatan-Hearts, do not quite understand this strange concept called "conversion". I mean: how can anyone "convert" without changing the mark of their ancestors, which is firmly embedded in their DNA? But then, strange things happen, like an idol of Ganesh "drinking milk" (aside: thanks to capillary action).

As for that strange concept, also known as "conversion", let me share a joke. Do read and spread the smile:

Each Friday night, after work, Bubbal Singh would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a tandoori chicken and some meat kebabs. But, all of Bubbal's neighbours were strict Catholics, and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating chicken and meat on a Friday.

The delicious aroma from the grilled meat was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their Priest.

The Priest came to visit Bubbal, and suggested that he become a Catholic. After several classes and much study, Bubbal attended Mass, and as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, he said, ''You were born a Sikh, and raised a Sikh, but now, you are a Catholic."

Bubbal's neighbours were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of tandoori chicken and meat kebabs filled the neighbourhood... once again.

The neighbours called the Priest immediately, and, as the latter rushed into Bubbal's backyard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement. There stood Bubbal, clutching a small bottle of holy water - which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat and chanted: "Oye, you waz born a chicken, and you waz born a lamb, you waz raised a chicken, and you waz raised a lamb, but now yara, you are a potato and a tomato!"

Lets retrace our steps.

Given his glorious deeds (keerti), Shri Ram is also hailed as "Raghupati" - the best among the Raghus or the best among the Raghuvamshis. Hence, he is: "Raghupati Raghav".

[Raghu and Raghav = belonging to the Raghus or hailing from the Raghuvaṃśa or Raghukula. Pati = the best. "Raghav" also means: "swift" in Sanskrit; Shri Ram was not only quick to detect the wrong principles or "adharm", but equally swift in taking measures - so as to negate or dismantle them. He was discerning, a visionary, and altruistic in nature; remained calm and composed even in the face of great odds, without succumbing to negative thoughts.]

|| Aum Namah Raghukul-shiromani Kaushalya-nandan Dashrath-putra Shri Raam ||

{I bow to Shri Ram - The Pride-and-Jewel of the Raghu clan, Born-of-Kaushalya, The Son-of Dashrath}

[Aum is the sound of primal energy, the sound of the universe itself. Namah = a respectful bow; Raghu = belonging to the Raghus or hailing from the Raghuvaṃśa or Raghukula; Kul = clan; Shiromani: shir comes from sheer/seer = head, pride; mani = jewel; Nandan, putra = son.]

Ram's handling of certain situations turned Ayodhya, Kishkindhya, Jamvanta Nagari and Lanka into staunch allies, thereby ensuring peace. Ram, Lakshman, Sugreeva, Angad, Hanuman, Jambavan, Vibhishan, et al became personal friends, which further ensured that there was no loss of precious lives and property in unwanted skirmishes; this prevented unnecessary drainage of time, energy and resources - in fighting each other or being wary of each other. However, Ram did not try to 'assimilate', 'mainstream', 'help' or 'civilize' the Vanaras (the denizens of Kishkindhya, Jamvanta Nagari, etc.) He did not think his way of life was better than theirs, nor did he raze their hills, massacre their forests, or pollute their water-bodies. [So the versions of the Ramayana that tries to project the Ramayana as a poisonous tree or claims that Shri Ram usurped anyone's right... is way off the mark. It has been done so as to feed the fictitious invasion theories and the fictitious theory of races.]

Instead: all of them respected and accepted each other as friends and allies, and as people with a distinct culture and heritage; yet as "Arya" - or noble-natured, i.e. as people following a noble way of life. [Unfortunately, the Mlechchas ruined Kishkindhya.]

Incidentally: though the 'civilized' aliens still refer to the "forest-dwelling humans" as "savage, uncivilized tribal", our ancients referred to them as "adivasi". [Adi = first, before the others, or before the rest. Vasi = dwellers.]

Now, what could this mean? Why were they called "adivasi"?

This is because: these were the progeny of the first set of humans that evolved on earth - from various animal-like ancestors (and are the children of the forest, with a distinct pattern of life: culture, heritage, language, cuisine and so on.) Hence they are also known as "vaanvasi" [Vaan = forest, vasi = dwellers.]

And since they predated the next set of humans that sprang from evolved humans (that arrived in ancient Kashmir; the "Sapta-Rishi") - they are known as "adivasi".

The people of the 2nd era (the Treta Yug) - that lived outside the forest and refused to accept the first set of humans as "full-fledged humans" - on account of their appearance, language and way of life, were essentially the descendents of the "Sapta-Rishi", and hence, the progeny of the second set of humans.

Siya-Ram and Lakshman set out to change this mindset/perception, in their quest to dismantle various social ills/adharm. Kaikeyi and Manthara aided them in their mission. [Part-VI and Part-VII.]

However: given the passage of time, a lot of intermingling of people, culture and blood has happened, and this has, in turn, given rise to whole new sets of humans, languages, culture, music, cuisine, et al.

All the groups of humans have a rich culture and heritage: art, craft, cuisine, attire, language, history, folklore, music, and so on. Are there any that don't seem to have much to show? What say you? BTW, though we have been programmed to believe that life elsewhere is spider-like or octopus-like, this bit is soundly debunked by even a cursory reading of the Mahabharata. We all know that Karna was Kunti and Suryadev's son. But who was this Suryadev? He is not the Surya (Sun) that we see rising in the east and setting in the west - everyday.

So, who do you think was this "Suryadev"? [Do put on your thinking cap until we discuss this in greater detail.]

As to why Ram (i.e. Siya-Ram) is revered as "Bhagavan", do read: Part-XIV (there, we have discussed what "Bhagavan" really means.)

Shri Ram was a "Raja" or king, but a "Chakravarti Raja", meaning: "King of Kings", and along with Sita is hailed as: "Patita-pavana". [Do read: Part-II.]

That his kingdom encompassed vast lands is beyond doubt, but a "Chakravarti Raja" is not restricted to the size of his kingdom only.

A chakra was originally a wheel - or disk-shaped weapon in ancient India that was hurled as a missile at enemies. Chakras are centers of Prāṇa, life force, or vital energy. Chakras correspond to vital points in the physical body i.e. major plexuses of arteries, veins and nerves. Their name is derived from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning". The 7 Chakras are the energy centers in our body in which energy flows through. The concept of chakra features in Sanaatan Dharma (including tantric and yogic traditions, as well as in the teachings of Shri Gautam Buddh.) The word dharma-chakra, or the wheel of the Law, is often used to describe the teachings/message of Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh. [Meaning, his teachings/message is expressed as: "the turning of the wheel of the Law."]

Chakra also means: treasure or wheel treasure; one of the seven treasures that a wheel-turning king (Sanskrit: chakravarti-raja) is said to possess. A wheel-turning king was a wise and benevolent ruler, an ideal king. The Sanskrit word chakra means the wheel of a carriage. The seven treasures of a wheel-turning king are: a chakra, elephants, horses, jewels, jewel-like women, excellent ministers of financial affairs, and generals. A chakra, or wheel, is of four kinds: gold, silver, copper, and iron. A wheel-turning king (symbolically) possesses one or the other of these four kinds of wheels, an indication of his rank. Turning his chakra (i.e. by using his wisdom and resources optimally), a wheel-turning king advances without hindrance, overthrows his enemies, establishes peace, and rules with justice and benevolence - wherever he goes. [Shri Krishna is shown/depicted with the Sudarshan Chakra - the golden disk; he was wise, enlightened, discerning, a visionary, a great ruler, teacher, friend and guide. In short: the best of all. Su = good, pleasant. Darshan = appearance, vision. The Sudarshan Chakra is a symbolic golden disk, chakra or wheel.]

Karma (Karm Yog) must be done in massive quantity as Bhagiratha did, but selflessly. Brave people continue to work in spite of a mountain of difficulties or challenges, and finally achieve their goal (or make things sufficiently easier for others to achieve it.) Bhagiratha, with his unparalleled effort to out the hidden river - that flowed beneath the ground - showed us how much effort a man or a woman can put in, and as a result what wonders can be done. Yes, we can achieve wonders, once we put in our best effort and dedication. Indeed, impossible is nothing. 

Karma is essential to get rid of Karma. Since: a thorn can be removed only with the aid of a bigger thorn. Therefore, in order to get rid of Prarabda (negative, destructive) Karma (whether done by us or by others), we have to perform good deeds (Sat Karma). And as we go on doing/performing good deeds indefinitely/continuously, sakama (selfish, benefit-seeking) Karma gets transformed into Nishkama (selfless) Karma. In this way, one (i.e. the performer or the Sadhaka) becomes a true yogi (a Karm Yogi), a real sanyaasi (i.e. one who is detached like the lotus - which grows in muddy water yet remains untouched by it [Part-XIII], or like the hamsa - whose feathers do not get damp despite remaining in contact with water [Part-XI]; a Jnani (an enlightened person) and achieves Moksh/Nirvana (Jeevan Mukta; non-materialistic). 

The wheel (chakra) needs to rotate or turn continuously, for the poison (negativities) to be absorbed (negated) and replaced by noble principles/aspects.

Hope you can now figure out as to why Shri Krishna is depicted with the (symbolic) golden disc (chakra). Siya-Ram too is in the same league. Shri Krishna's conch is known as the Paanchajanya. The whole life of Bhagavan Shri Krishna is like the roaring sound of a conch. He undertook a vow: to fight adharm - injustice and profanity in all its forms, and to re-establish dharm (justice, right principles) by restoring peace, order and balance in society... and did his best to fulfill it.

The same goes for Bhagavan Shri Ram. Therefore, it is a small wonder that Shri Krishna paid the highest tributes to Shri Ram in the Srimad Bhagavat Geeta, while describing the best of creation and action (karm): "I am the Wind among the purifiers, and Shri Rama among the warriors." [Here "warriors" = Kshatriya; one who protects others from harm or from negative (adharmic) entities/influences - everywhere, and not just in the battlefield.]

The great Yug Purush - Chanakya - was their worthy disciple. 

OM or AUM is the sound of primal energy, the sound of the universe itself. Space in Sanskrit is 'Vyoma', and this too contains the sacred sound of primal energy: OM or AUM. It is very likely that the Universe (Brhmaand) is shaped like a conch (shankh), and that is why the sound of primal energy or the sound of the universe is: OM or AUM - the same as Shankha-dhwani. This sound does not require any external stimuli whatsoever; it is Pranava Naad or Anhad Naad.

That the universe is conch-shaped is (perhaps) indicated by the idols or the 'tangible/physical manifestations' of the unseen energies of the cosmos (such as: Vishnu and Shakti) depicted as: holding a conch in hand. Essentially to indicate: that these forces/energies support the universe (Brhmaand). 

Shri Krishna's actions preserved the noble principles of the Sanaatan Dharma; it helped the people and society to function well, which in turn helped civilization to flourish well. Paanchajanya: Paanch = five; indicating - the five elements or the five senses (indriyas); also: "others", "people", "everyone". Paanchajanya = for the welfare of others. Shri Krishna employed his immense knowledge, vision, intelligence and power for the welfare of all/for the welfare of others - Loka kalyana or Loka-sangraha.   
[So, now tell me what do you think is meant by Karna's 'chariot wheel' sinking to the ground? To know more about Karna, do read: Part-XVI.]

We are ever-ready to read the thick books penned by sundry aliens; we not only devour them (including all the fictitious invasion theories they have floated), but also learn them by rote. Yet, we seem to have some sort of firewall when it comes to reading books penned by some of the finest historians: R.C. Majumdar (Ramesh Chandra Majumdar), Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji and Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay (R.D. Banerji). What to do? We are like this only. :)
Also: somehow, we manage to spend a lot of our time (and energy) debating over supposed "sons of the soil" and "outsiders". Here is an anecdote:

In mid-90s Calcutta (now Kolkata), there existed a 'revivalist' organization called "Amra Bangali" (translated: We Are Bengali.) When I say 'existed', it is in a purely circumstantial sense, 'coz there was no physical manifestation of this group - except posters and graffiti. They did nothing to revive so-called 'Bengali pride' except write slogans on walls, exhorting fellow Bengalis to do the needful. Their most common slogan was: "Bangali, Jaago!" (Translated: "Bengalis, arise, awake!"). And this was found across the city in all the wall-space that was not taken up by the sickle-cell anemia, the panja, the grassroots and their ilk. [This slogan was perhaps directed at the Gujaratis, the Punjabis, the Sindhis, the Marwaris, the Tamilians and others - essentially people who have made Calcutta their home.] 

However, the laid-back Bangali pretended to take this metaphysical awakening in a literal sense, and very soon a repartee was seen scrawled under the original message. Under "Bangali, Jago", it was written: "Jegechhi, ebar cha dao." (Translated: "I have woken up, now get me some tea.")


Frankly: the medium of instruction need not be the mother tongue... for someone to 'learn' his or her mother tongue (matri-bhasha). Nobody goes to school right after birth - to 'learn' his or her matri-bhasha. English must be the 1st language, since after a certain age one finds it difficult to learn/pick up new languages (especially the grammatical nuances). The 2nd language can be one's mother-tongue; the works of greats can be read - both at school and back home. None of us are likely to forget our mother tongue, so our many bhashas are under no threat/danger from the English language. English is a language spoken all over the world; it is a link language in which business is conducted; it also played a big role in uniting us against the friendly aliens. English is being spoken in India for about 300 years, we have the largest English-speaking population... compared to Europe and the US combined; this is our strength.  (Though the English spoken in India is infused with various local flavour and can be broadly classified as: Indian English.) However, the English language has also enriched itself by borrowing heavily from the many Indian languages, including Sanskrit - a language steeped in antiquity, but almost forgotten in the land of its birth. [And yet, we still call English a 'foreign language'!]

Instead of fighting windmills, the focus should be on developing a culture of reading - books/journals/materials (in any language, including English and one's mother tongue). This will broaden our outlook/horizon/thinking and in turn enhance our knowledge, which will (hopefully) get us out of this negative and self-created 'kupamandup syndrome'. [Kupa = well, mandup = frog.]

Even countries that have ignored the English language for long (e.g., Spain, China, Russia, the Philippines, etc)... are now taking rapid steps to make amends. In a short while they will be our formidable rivals and pose a mighty challenge to us. If we continue with our contrived 'sons of the soil' rhetoric and hollow bombastic talk about the 'glory of the mother tongue'... spearheaded by forces that are inimical to progress/peace/harmony and who have no stake in it whatsoever, we are doomed. We need to build on our strengths, so that our weaknesses can be minimized. We must not surrender/squander/give up the few advantages we still have - as a nation; nor should we destroy whatever little we have - to pamper the distorted and myopic views of vested interests. 

Words from India's greatest patriot:

"One individual may die for an idea; but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives. That is how the wheel of evolution moves on and the ideas and dreams of one nation are bequeathed to the next." - Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Truly, there is no alternative to Karm Yog. The wheel must continue to turn.

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

(Do stay tuned…)

Pictures: An illustration of Shri Ram, Chanakya, Aryabhata, some wise words, Shri Krishna with the 'Sudarshan Chakra', Karna's 'chariot wheel' sinking to the ground, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

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