Sunday, July 7, 2013

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

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.

Continuing with our discussions re: the concept of "self-realization" (Siddha/Siddhesh/Siddheshvar/ArdhaNarishvar or Transcendental Being). Sri Bhagavan's verses from the Srimad Bhagvad Geeta. Thoughts on: the "Ultimate Knowledge" and the "Ultimate Truth"; Hamsa and Hamsan; Paramahamsa or Supreme Swan; Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam; Panchatantra, Hitopadesha and Jataka Tales; Bheeshma Pitamah, Dronacharya and Karna; Leela-avatar(s) and their departure. Notes on: the 'Jiva-atma' and the 'Atman'; Advaita and Dvaita; *reasons* behind the Ramayana and the Mahabharata War and *what* they achieved; 'contemporisation' (incl. tweaking, re-writing and interpolations) of the Valmiki Ramayana and the Mahabharata (of Maharshi Veda Vyasa); Dharma; Raksha-Bandhan; the Swastika symbol; the Peepal tree; Dhanvantari and Ayurveda. *Discussing* the Indus seals.

Though we discussed the concept of "self-realization" in Part-XXIV, let's discuss it in a little more detail.

Self-knowledge is "self-realization" or Paramaatma-realization. The total realization of what the Param-aatma is all about or represents. The complete attainment/realization of: Sat-cit-ānanda (pronounced as: sach-chid-ānanda - one who has achieved eternal bliss of self-realization. Sat describes an essence that is pure and timeless; cit is consciousness; ānanda is absolute bliss).

In short: Self-knowledge ("self-realization" or Paramaatma-realization) entails a complete understanding/realization of the "Vishwaroop" (Universal Form of the Almighty). 

[The "Vishvaroop" or Universal Form of the Almighty encompasses/incorporates the whole of creation/universe/cosmos (and everything in it... whether seen or unseen, animate or inanimate). The word "Vishwaroop" is formed by joining two Sanskrit words: "vishwa", meaning the universe/cosmos and "roop", meaning form.]

Therefore, "self-realization" or Paramaatma-realization entails a total understanding/realization of the Lord in His formless (nirākārā) and un-manifested (nirguna) form + the Lord in His numerous ākārā (with form) and manifested (saguna) version (transient forms/roop-s - strewn all over the cosmos).

In other words: the complete understanding/realization of the Avyakta (nirākārā + nirguna) and the Vyakta (ākārā + saguna) - form of the Lord.

This is: the "Ultimate Knowledge".

[For the "Ultimate Truth", do read: Part-XXIV.]

Srimad Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 2, verse 72:

|| esa brahmi sthitih paartha
nainam prapya vimuhyati
sthitvasyam anta-kale 'pi
brahma-nirvanam rcchati ||

Meaning: esa brahmi sthitih: the realization of the Ultimate Truth; paartha: O son of Prtha [Prtha is Kunti's real name]; na: never; enam: this; prapya: achieving, having gained; nainam prapya vimuhyati: one is never again deluded; sthitva: being so situated; asyam: being so, in this state; anta-kale: at the end of life; api: also; brahma-nirvanam: liberation from the material existence and attainment of the Ultimate Consciousness; rcchati: is assured.
Translated: "O Arjun, having gained the realization of the Ultimate Truth, one is never again deluded and even at the end of one's life, being situated in this state, liberation from the material existence and attainment of the Ultimate Consciousness is assured."

[The "Dasavatara" represents ten of His leela-avatars and hence is a part of His innumerable transient roop-s.]

One who completely realizes or understands the Avyakta (nirākārā + nirguna) and the Vyakta (ākārā + saguna) - form of the Lord is a Siddha/Siddhesh/Siddheshvar/Ardhanarishvar - a pure/perfected being or a transcendental being. Such a person overcomes his or her human boundaries and becomes one with the world spirit.

Such a person is Paramahamsa [Supreme Swan.]

[As the Supreme Creator - Brahmn - Shri Maha Vishnu completely understands this, hence, He is Siddheshvar or Ardhanarishvar - the Ultimate Siddha or Siddhesh: the Supreme perfected being or the Supreme transcendental being. In other words: a Parama-hamsa. And since all wisdom and knowledge (including all forms of Yog) emanates from him - He is the Supreme Yogi.

Just as "Nrsingh-avatar" does not mean "half-man, half-lion". Similarly: "ArdhaNarishvar" does not mean "half-man, half-woman." It simply means: Siddhesh or Siddheshvar - the Supreme perfected being or the Supreme transcendental being. A Paramahamsa. The other aspect of "ArdhaNarishvar" - duality - we will discuss in the later half of this post.]

Hamsa = a bird; either the white swan or bar-headed white goose. The white swan is called Raja-Hamsa, literally: royal swan.

The white swan is the symbolic 'vaahan' or 'vehicle' of Devi Sarasvati - the goddess (deity or symbol) of learning, knowledge and wisdom (all of it of a higher plane.) Her real 'vaahan' or 'vehicle' (highly advanced aircraft) probably is one that displays the qualities of a swan... that can fly in air, swim in water and walk on land (the symbolic trilok). Similarly: Devi Sarasvati's 'vaahan' can effortlessly traverse the whole of Trilok (the three worlds). Devi Sarasvati is the consort of Shri Brahma (the one who resides in Satya-loka, the other Brahma-loka, the highest planet in the Material Realm. [Please refer: Part-XXIII.]

Without all that Devi Sarasvati represents or symbolizes, Srishti or Creation cannot be sustained.

Here is a shloka from the Brhadāranyaka Upanisad: 

असतोमा सद्गमय। तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमया। मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय॥ ॐ शांति शांति शांति - बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28.

|| (Aum) Asato mā sad gamaya
Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
Mrtyormā amrtam gamaya
Aum śānti śānti śāntih ||
(Brhadāranyaka Upanisad 1.3.28)


"(Aum) From ignorance, lead me to truth (knowledge)
From darkness, lead me to light (wisdom, enlightenment)
From death, lead me to immortality
Aum let there be peace within ourselves, let there be peace in the world, let there be peace in the universe."

[Aum (also known as Om): The syllable Om (written out as Aum with each letter having its own significance) represents Brahman, the supreme creator, as well as the whole of creation. It is also the primeval sound (Pranava Naad), the sound of the universe itself.]

The Hamsa is an important element in the symbology found in this ancient Vedic faith (Sanaatan Dharma) - and represents: wisdom and beauty.

[The very auspicious Raaga Hamsadhvani is a soothing morning raga to be sung with a feeling of deep devotion and repose. Hamsa = either the white swan or bar-headed white goose. Dhvani = sound, song.]

Hamsa or Hansa, meaning 'swan' as in Ramakrishna Parama-Hamsa, stands for an ascetic, Hamsan.

The Hamsa is seen as a symbol of purity, detachment, divine knowledge, cosmic breath (prana) and the highest spiritual accomplishment. It is supposed to transcend the limitations of creation - for it can walk on the earth, fly in the sky (air) and swim in the water. Just as the swan or hamsa lives on water but its feathers do not get damp, similarly a Hamsan (an ascetic) lives in this material world full of Maayaa (illusion, transience), yet remains detached and is not impacted by its transient and illusionary nature.

The hamsa is supposed to possess the ability to separate the water from the cream (in milk). The hamsa's ability to separate milk and water symbolizes the need to differentiate between good/positive aspects and bad/negative aspects as well as the eternal and evanescent.

It is a quality that a true Hamsan (ascetic) also possesses. [Here: ascetic or Hamsan is anyone that possesses the above qualities. Need not only be the ones that have 'renounced' something or the other.]

Shri Krishna too has been compared to the 'Hamsa' and the magnificent peacock (Mayur). He is a Hamsan or 'ascetic' in the sense that whatever he did was not for any personal motives or gain. His was selfless action (Nishkam Karm) for the greater good (Loka-sangraha or Loka Kalyana - welfare of all or welfare of the world.)

The Hamsa represents perfect union, balance and life. A constant repetition of the word "hamso" changes it to "Soaham", which means: "That I am" or "I am He". Hence, the hamsa is often identified with the Param-aatma - the Supreme Spirit (also known as: the Absolute, the Almighty, the Supreme Being [Parameshvar], the Ultimate Reality). 

In other words: Brahmn/Brhman/Brahman.

Ham-sa when inverted reads as sa-ham, which in Sanskrit means: 'the oneness of the human and the divine'.

... Though this realization exists only in enlightened persons:

Aham Brahmasmi (ah-HUM brah-MAHS-mee)

[Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda]


Aham = I, Brahmasmi = am Brahman

Meaning: I Am Brhaman.

The other three Mahavakyas are:

·  prajñānam brahma: "Consciousness is Brahman" (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)

·  ayam ātmā brahma: "This Self (Atman) is Brahman" (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)

·  tat tvam asi: "Thou art That" (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)

[Mahavakyas are "The Great Sayings" of the Upanishads, the foundational texts of the Vedanta. Though there are many Mahavakyas, four of them, one from each of the four Vedas, are often mentioned as "the Mahavakyas".]

Begin by meditating for a few minutes, and then imagine that you are a crystal bead. You reflect the light of every being in the universe, and your light is reflected in them. Silently repeat the words "Aham Brahmasmi" and continue to envision yourself as a beautiful jewel, reflecting and absorbing the light of the entire universe. Rest in the silence and feel the expansiveness of your being - an expression of the infinite field of intelligence and all possibilities.

Robi Thakur rightly said: "aamare tumi ashesh korechho, amon-i leela tabo" (tr. Thou hast made me endless).

Feel it.

'Aamare Tumi Ashesh Korechho' by Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya:

Here is Tagore's own translation:

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure.

This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy
and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.

Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

[It also reflects the inevitable and magical relationship between the Self and the Atman or Brahman, the inner and outer, the human need to constantly replenish and regenerate the self, and constantly seek new sources of joy.]

Here is the awesome 'Mor Bina Othhe Kon Surey Baji' - penned by Robi Thakur and rendered by Srikanto Acharya:

In other words: Aham Brahmasmi.

The subject matter and the essence of all Upanishads being the same, all the Mahaavaakyas essentially say the same in a concise form. Upanishads are inexhaustible sources of the spiritual knowledge of ancient India. The focus of Upanishads is proclaiming the glory of Brahmn [also: 'Brhaman'/'Brahman'] - the Infinite Supreme Spirit, the 'Param-aatma' (also known as: the Absolute, the Almighty, the Supreme Being [Parameshvar], the Ultimate Reality.)

Frankly: if we can have the realization that we are one with Brahmn (the Almighty, the Absolute, the Paramaatma, the Parameshvar, the Ultimate Reality), we can respect each other and care for all living and non-living beings. If I realize that you and I are part of Brahman, how can we hate or destroy each other? I am destroying myself when I try to harm others, isn't it? 

|| ayaM nijaH paroveti gaNanA laghu-chetasAM
udAra charitAnAM tu vasudhaiva kuTumbhakaM ||

["This is my own and that a stranger" - is the calculation of the narrow-minded
For the magnanimous-hearts however, the entire earth is but a family]
Therefore: Sanaatan Dharma has this philosophy - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - that inculcates an understanding that the whole world is one family. It is a Sanskrit phrase, meaning: the whole earth is one family. The first word is made up of three Sanskrit words - Vasudha, Eva and Kutumbakam. Vasudha means the earth, Eva means emphasizing (is as a) and Kutumbakam means family.

It is a philosophy that tries to foster an understanding that the whole of humanity is one family (... as opposed to 'Clash of Civilizations' or 'Us vs Them'). It is a social philosophy emanating from a spiritual understanding that the whole of humanity is made of One life energy (the Cosmic Energy of the Absolute/ the Almighty/ the Supreme Spirit [the Paramaatma]/ the Supreme Being [the Parameshvar]/ Brhaman or the Ultimate Reality.)

The concept of vasudhaiva kuTumbakam originates from Hitopadesha (though the original verse is contained in the Maha Upanishad 6.71-73.) Hitopadesha is a collection of Sanskrit fables in prose and verse. According to the author of Hitopadesha, Narayana, the main purpose of creating Hitopadesha is to instruct young minds the philosophy of life in an easy manner so that they are able to grow into responsible adults. It is almost similar to the Panchatantra ('Five Principles') of Vishnu Sharma. The whole philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is an integral part of ancient Vedic philosophy (Sanaatan Dharma.) 

[Hitopadesha (Sanskrit: Hitopadeśa) has been derived from two words, 'hita' (welfare/benefit) and 'upadesha' (advice/counsel). It basically means to counsel or advice (upadesha) with benevolence, and for the welfare and benefit of everyone. Imparting morals and knowledge, Hitopadesha is one amongst the most widely read Sanskrit book in India. The Panchatantra  (Sanskrit: Pañcatantra), on the other hand, is an inter-woven series of colourful fables, many of which involve animals exhibiting animal stereotypes and even human qualities. It illustrates, for the benefit of three ignorant princes... the central Sanaatan dharmic principles of nīti. While nīti is hard to translate, it roughly means prudent worldly conduct, or "the wise conduct of life".]

The Jataka tales, on the other hand, are dated between 300 BC and 400 AD and were written for mankind to gain knowledge and morality. Originally written in Pali language, Jataka Buddhist tales have been translated in different languages around the world. The luminous fables of 'Jataka' are intended to impart values of self-sacrifice, morality, honesty and other informative values to people. No less than 547 in number, Jataka Tales are an important part of the canon of sacred Buddhist literature. These anecdotes and fables depicts earlier incarnations - sometimes as an animal, sometimes as a human - of the being who would become Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha. Many of the tales are set in or near Benares, now called Varanasi, a city in north central India on the banks of the River Ganga. It is one of the world's oldest cities. According to tradition, Lord Buddha began his teachings at Sarnath a short distance from this city. 

Let's deliberate a little more on 'the oneness of the human and the divine' (Ham-sa when inverted reads as sa-ham: "That I am" or "I am He".)

Our soul or atman is a part of the divine (meaning: our atman is a part of the formless Param-aatma). The Sanskrit words most closely corresponding to soul are "Jiva/Atma", meaning individual soul or personality, and "Atman", which can also mean soul.

The Atman is seen as a portion of Brahman/the Param-aatma (the Supreme Spirit - the source of everything, the cause).

The Jiva-atma is the individual soul or personality

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 10, Verse 22 says:

|| indriyanam manas casmi
bhutanam asmi cetana ||

Translated: "Of the senses (indriyanam) I am (asmi) the mind (manas); and in living beings (bhutanam) I am the living force [cetana, consciousness]."

The cetana or consciousness represents our atman. And this makes us - all living beings - part of the Supreme Spirit, the Param-aatma.

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10, Verse 20) says:

|| aham atma gudakesha
aham adis ca madhyam ca
bhutanam anta eva ca ||

Translated: "I am the Supreme Spirit, O Arjun, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings."

What is today known as 'Hinduism' contains many variant beliefs on the origin, the purpose, and the fate of the soul. For example, advaita (monism) or non-dualistic concept of the soul accords it (total) union with Brahman, the absolute uncreated (the cause; the Supreme Being or the Supreme Spirit), in eventuality or in pre-existing fact. Dvaita or dualistic concepts differ from this, instead identifying the soul (atman) as a part and parcel of the Supreme Soul (Brhaman), but that the Jiva-atma never loses its identity. This is where we - as an individual - get an identity. According to our ancient texts, this identity exists eternally; the soul never dies. It only transmigrates from one body to another body. And therefore, Karm Yog is important. 'Karma' or 'Karm Yog' is not punishment, but an opportunity to redeem oneself. Unlike the rigorous monism (Advaita) of the Upanishads, the Srimad Bhagavad Geeta integrates dualism (Dvaita) and theism (āstika).]

This is what Shri Krishna said about the atman [Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2, Verse 20)]
|| Na jãyate mriyate vã kadãchinnãyam bhootvã bhavitã vã na bhooyaha, 
ajo nityaha shãshvato'yam purãno na hanyate hanyamãne shareere || 

Translated: "The atman is never born nor does it die. Similarly, it is not re-created to come into existence. Since, the atman is not born, is eternal and imperishable, it has existed since time eternal and does not die even though the body dies."

[And this is very similar to the workings of the cosmic "Purusha-Prakriti" (the cosmic Shankh). We will discuss it over the next few posts when we talk about Kapil Muni's saNkhya Darshan or saNkhya philosophy. The representation of this philosophy has now come to be regarded as "Shiv-Ling" or Shiv's Phallus.]

As Arjun stood in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he was overcome with feelings of weakness and confusion - since he faced the prospect of killing his own kith and kin. Realizing that his adversaries are his own relatives, beloved friends and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Krishna, for advice.

Responding to his confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjun his duties as a warrior and prince besides elaborating on a variety of philosophical concepts. 

sri-bhagavan uvaca (Srimad Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 2, verse 11):
|| asocyan anvasocas tvam
prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca
nanusocanti panditah ||

Meaning: sri-bhagavan uvaca: the Blessed Lord said; asocyan: that which is not worthy of lamentation; anvasocah: you are lamenting; tvam: you; prajna-vadan: learned talks; ca: also; bhasase: speaking; gata: lost; asun: life; agata: not past; asun: life; ca: also; na: never; anusocanti: lament; panditah: the learned.

Translated: The Blessed Lord said: "While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead."

Verse 15: 
|| yam hi na vyathayanty ete
purusam purusarsabha
sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram
so 'mrtatvaya kalpate ||

Meaning: yam: one whom; hi: certainly; na: never; vyathayanti: are distressing; ete: all these; purusam: to a person; purusa-rsabha: O noble one; sama: unaltered; duhkha: distressed; sukham: happiness; dhiram: patient; sah: he; amrtatvaya: for liberation; kalpate: is considered eligible.

Translated: "O noble one [Arjun], that person of wise judgment (who is) equipoised in happiness and distress, and is steady in both, is certainly eligible for liberation."

Responding to Arjun's despondency, Krishna asks him to follow his sva-dharma or his 'duty as a warrior'. [Note: warrior or 'ksatriya' is an amalgamation of two words: Ksat means injury, and tra means deliver. Hence, 'ksatriya' means: upholder of justice... anywhere, and not just in the battlefield. For Krishna's 'Varnashram Dharma,' do read: Part-XII.]

However: it is unlikely that the conversation took place in the battlefield. It probably happened elsewhere, in the presence of other people (over a few days). And it may have been facilitated by the use of technology, such as television screens (also known as: divya-drishti). And this enabled a large number of people (besides Arjun) to "see" the "Divine Form" (Vishwaroop) of the otherwise formless Supreme Spirit/Param-aatma, and to hear Krishna speak about 'Karm Yog' and explain the cosmic process as well as the meaning of destiny.

Shri Krishna, Arjun's charioteer and guide in the battlefield (of the greatest of Dharma-Yuddha-s), sought to allay the latter's fears by teaching him about the distinction between the physical body (which is impermanent) and the soul or atma (which is permanent):

Srimad Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 2, Verse 12:

|| na tv evaham jatu nasam
na tvam neme janadhipah
na caiva na bhavisyamah
sarve vayam atah param ||

Meaning: na: never; tu: but; eva: certainly; aham: I; jatu: become; na: never; asam: existed; na: it is not so; tvam: yourself; na: not; ime: all these; jana-adhipah: kings; na: never; ca: also; eva: certainly; na: not like that; bhavisyamah: shall exist; sarve: all of us; vayam: we; atah param: hereafter.

Translated: "Never was there a time when I did not exist, or you, or all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be."

Verse 13:
|| dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati ||

Meaning: dehinah: of the embodied; asmin: in this; yatha: as; dehe: in the body; kaumaram: childhood; yauvanam: youth; jara: old age; tatha: similarly; deha-antara: transference of the body; praptih: achievement; dhirah: the sober, wise; tatra: thereupon; na: never; muhyati: deluded.

Translated: "As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly transmigrates from one body to another. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change."

Verse 17: 
|| avinasi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idam tatam
vinasam avyayasyasya
na kascit kartum arhati ||

Meaning: avinasi: imperishable; tu: but; tat: that; viddhi: know it; yena: by whom; sarvam: all of the body; idam: this; tatam: pervaded; vinasam: destruction; avyayasya: of the imperishable; asya: of it; na kascit: no one; kartum: to do; arhati: is able.

Translated: "But know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul."

Verse 18:
|| antavanta ime deha
nityasyoktah saririnah
anasino 'prameyasya
tasmad yudhyasva bharata ||

Meaning: anta-vantah: perishable; ime: all these; dehah: material bodies; nityasya: eternal in existence; uktah: it is so said; saririnah: the embodied soul; anasinah: never to be destroyed; aprameyasya: immeasurable; tasmat: therefore; yudhyasva: fight; bharata: O descendant of Bharata [since Arjun was part of the 'Puru Vansh' or 'Puru lineage,' also known as: 'Bharat-vansh'... after Bharata - the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta (the mighty king of Hastinapura).]

Translated: "Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata." [Here: Krishna is urging + advising Arjun to follow his Sva-dharma and uphold justice... in the battlefield of the greatest of Dharma-yuddhas (battle of principles).]

Verse 20:
|| na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire ||

Meaning: na: never; jayate: takes birth; mriyate: never dies; va: either; kadacit: at any time (past, present or future); na: never; ayam: this; bhutva: came into being; bhavita: will come to be; va: or; na: not; bhuyah: or has coming to be; ajah: unborn; nityah: eternal; sasvatah: permanent; ayam: this; puranah: the oldest; na: never; hanyate: is killed; hanyamane: being killed; sarire: by the body.

Translated: "The atman never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed even when the body/outer coil is destroyed (dies)."

Verse 22:

|| vāsānsi jīrNāni yathā vihāya navāni grihNāti naro.aparāNi
tathā śarīrāNi vihāya jīrNānyanyāni sanyāti navāni dehī || 

Translated: "Just as a human being puts on new garments, casting off old and worn-out ones, the soul similarly takes up residence within new material bodies, giving up the old and infirm ones."

[The "First Law of Thermodynamics" (Conservation) states that energy is always conserved; it cannot be created or destroyed. In essence, energy can be converted from one form into another: 'Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.' So you see?! The Srimad Bhagavad Geeta in Physics! :)]

Verse 23:
|| nainaṃ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṃ dahati pāvakaḥ
na cainaṃ kledayantyāpo na śoṣayati mārutaḥ ||

Meaning: na: never; enam: this soul; chindanti: can cut to pieces; sastrani: all weapons; na: never; enam: unto this soul; dahati: burns; pavakah: fire; na: never; ca: also; enam: unto this soul; kledayanti: moistens; apah: water; na: never; sosayati: dries; marutah: wind.

Translated: "I am the spirit/soul... the atman: any weapon, elements of life or any danger cannot destroy me. I am Eternal. Energetic."

Krishna describes (to Arjun) the human soul as something that cannot be cut by weapons, cannot be burnt by fire, cannot be drowned in water, cannot be blown by the wind.

... But then (come to think of it) He is (very likely) also describing Himself. 'Coz He is the Supreme Spirit/Soul - the Param-aatma.

Weapons cleave It not, fire burns It not, water wets It not, wind dries It not. This self cannot be cut, not burnt, nor get wet, nor dried up. It is eternal, all-pervading, stable, immovable and ancient. This [self] is said to be un-manifested, unfathomable and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing
This to be such, you should not grieve.

["It," 'coz the soul or spirit is energy. And energy has no form or gender.] 

Despite being in His 'human-form' (and shorn of his godhood/divinity) Krishna is still a 'leela-avatar'. Unlike other humans/mortals He is not part of the constant cycle of life - in any of His periodic appearances/leela-avatar(s). He arrives with certain specific purposes: to bring down adharm, to restore proper balance in society/civilization, to defend the noble principles of the eternal way of life aka Sanaatan Dharma. And (if necessary) to help revive/regenerate it (dharma-samsthapanarthaya...)
He and His actions (as a leela-avatar) also hold a mirror to society.

And He arrives only when: yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham... [Whenever and wherever there is an alarming decline or discrepancy in the noble principles and ideals of the Sanaatan Dharma (the eternal way of life or 'the right path'/'way of life' as it should be for the greater good of mankind and for society/civilization to flourish well); or when such an alarming decline is perceived or becomes a bane; O descendant of Bharata, only then, I, manifest Myself. Here Krishna is addressing Arjun... but through Arjun He is also addressing us. If one were to truly understand the essence of the Srimad Bhagavad Geeta one will completely understand as to why Sanaatan Dharma (not to be confused for "ism") is the eternal way of life. It is rooted in "Loka-sangraha" or "Loka Kalyana" - welfare of all or welfare of the world. It is no different from "Ram-Rajya" - a just and inclusive society.]

In His periodic appearance/arrival (albeit in human form/incarnation/avatar) as part of "... sambhavami yuge yuge"... He does what none (no other mortal) can do. He also provides guidance and shows the way (i.e. He puts together the required framework/architecture, sets the ball rolling, sows the right seeds and creates the road-map for the future, besides identifying the most suitable entities to carry forward the unfinished work). Thereafter, it is for others (His 'instruments' et al) to accomplish the unfinished/remaining task... as part of their karm yog.

And once He accomplishes what He set out to do... He departs (to Vaikunth-loka).

That is why when the hunter (Jara) unknowingly hit him with his arrow (mistaking him for a deer) ... and then on finding out (who he has hit), begs and pleads to be forgiven... Krishna only smiles, blesses him and departs. ['Coz with His task already accomplished, the mortal coil had to go... for Him to return to Vaikunth-loka.] 

So, while Jara continued to grieve over the discarded outer coil, Krishna reaches Vaikunth-loka in a matter of seconds.

And this is the reason why we (continue to) celebrate the birth-anniversaries of Shri Ram (SriRām-navamī) and Shri Krishna (Krishna Janmashtami), or for that matter 'Narasimha-Jayanti' (to commemorate the appearance of Shri Nrsingh-avatar) and 'Hanuman-Jayanti' (to commemorate the birth of Shri Hanuman). So on so forth. [In fact, we even commemorate (via the auspicious occasion of Deepavali)... the return of Siya-Ram along with Lakshman (to Ayodhya) after the end of their 'exile period'.]

But there is no such occasion like a 'death-anniversary' or 'tirodhan-divas' or some such. 'Coz none of their departure is to be interpreted as 'death' (hence there is no such occasion), simply because the Param-aatma is eternal. He has Eternal Life. The departure of His leela-avatar-s (to Vaikunth-loka) merely signifies the end of yet another eventful chapter (either: #1. Yuganta: the end of an era/yug + the commencement of a new era/yug, or #2. Yuga-sandhya - the twilight of an era/yug).

A maha-yug is a four-yug cycle - consisting of Sat/Satya/Krita Yug, Treta Yug, Dvapar Yug and Kali Yug. [Refer: Part-XXIII.]

The cyclical nature of the maha-yugs also indicates that in each Treta... there will be Ramayan; in each Dvapar... there will be Mahabharat. But does that mean the same thing will be repeated over and over again?

The answer is: No.

The terrain/topography will differ; the type of flora and fauna will differ. Humans will differ. Weaponry will not be the same. Even the challenges will not remain the same; 'coz it all depends on the people of each era/yug.

E.g. the Mahabharat War or the Kurukshetra War (in the current maha-yuga) was fought for the following reasons: 1. In order to eliminate the destructive-weaponry-wielding unnatural humans; these humans were a result of highly advanced genetic engineering (including cloning) involving entities on Prithvi-loka and the Higher planets (Urdhva Loka). 2. To put a stop to all experiments directed at creating unnatural humans. 3. To protect this planet (Prithvi-loka) from destruction (due to the large number of unnatural humans + destructive weaponry). 4. To help civilization to flourish naturally and peacefully. 5. To re-establish proper gender balance in society. The highly skewed male-female ratio in Dvapar is not difficult to figure out. 6. To establish certain noble/dharmic ideals and principles (in society) and to eliminate certain negative/adharmic aspects. 7. To preserve/regenerate the noble principles of "Sanaatan Dharma". [Sanaatan = timeless, eternal. Dharma = right path, noble principles/way of life.]

... However, we do not quite know what transpired in the earlier Dvapars.

On the other hand, the Ramayana War (in the current maha-yuga) happened in order to establish certain guidelines in society. This era accepted the following: 1. *It accepted humans not born the natural way (i.e. humans born out of an advanced IVF procedure) - as humans. [Shri Ram and his siblings were born as a result of advanced IVF therapy.] 2. It accepted forest-dwelling humans (i.e. various groups of "vaan-nar" or "Vanara") - as full-fledged humans. 3. There was a big improvement in the status and position of women and other marginalized people (such as "vaan-nar" or forest-dwelling human, the 'tritiya prakriti' and the poor) - in society. 4. Ram was able to protect mankind from unnecessary bloodshed (and thus prevented needless destruction.) 5. Cannibalistic humans were largely eliminated - and this helped the non-cannibalistic humans to thrive (which in turn helped civilization to progress smoothly.) 6. Humanoids (e.g. Kumbhakarna) were eliminated. [To know more about Kumbhakarna, do read: Part-XVIII.] 7. The noble principles of "Sanaatan Dharma" were salvaged since Ram was able to establish a just and inclusive society (Ram-Rajya), by undoing an assortment of social ills (that prevailed in the garb of 'accepted societal norms' or "maryada"). [Do read: Part-I, Part-II, Part-III and Part-VII - to know more.]

*The people of Treta Yug accepted humans not born the natural way (i.e. humans born out of an advanced IVF procedure) - as humans. This, no doubt, helped childless couples to beget children + helped women too, who otherwise have to bear the brunt of childlessness, in the form of harsh words and behaviour (not only from their own kith and kin but also from society at large). And this would also have done away with the practice of multiple marriages (so as to beget children). In Treta, due to the noble deeds to Shri Ram and his siblings (who were born as a result of advanced IVF therapy) such humans were accepted as full-fledged humans and as good for society. While Dvapar rejected unnatural humans (including cloned humans) born due to advanced genetic engineering.

Before the ascension of Shri Ram, the condition of women and other marginalized people (such as various types of "vaan-nar" and 'tritiya prakriti') were pathetic. [There was no concept of "caste", though.] The "Vaan-nar" or forest-dwelling humans were not even considered as humans. They were taken as animals or sub-humans.

It was Shri Ram (along with Sitaji and Lakshman, with ample help from Kaikeyi and Manthara) who proved that the "vaan-nar" was NOT animals or sub-human, that they were full-fledged humans with a distinct culture, tradition et al. And given their deeds (flying various types of vimana (aircraft), knowledge of medicine, Aryan tradition (noble way of life), building engineering marvels, fighting battles, wielding advanced weaponry et al... the rest of the humans of Treta Yug too accepted them as full-fledged humans. [Vaan = forest. Nar = human. Hence: "Vaan-nar" or "Vanara" = forest-dwelling human.]

And since all this had to be achieved, there was a necessity for 'exile period' so as to delay his ascension to the throne. 'Coz a routine ascension/succession as Raja Dasarath's son/heir would not have given him any moral gravitas (required for undoing an assortment of ills that plagued society in the garb of 'maryada' or 'socially accepted norms'). He would simply have been bound by kingly duties and obligations. [Do read: Part-VII - so as to get the drift.] 

[Instead: Shri Ram successfully overcame all constraints put on him by various societal customs/traditions + kingly obligations... and brought about the required positive changes (societal change: change in customs, mindset, perceptions et al). Hence, he is revered as "Maryada Purushottam" - one who overcomes obstacles in order to bring about positive societal change.]

Shri Ram also eliminated obnoxious customs that subjected women to 'tests' (euphemistically known as 'agni-pareeksha': such as fire-walking or holding red-hot objects) so as to 'prove their chastity'. He did not subject Sitaji to any 'agni-pareeksha' whatsoever. Siya-Ram's 'agni-pareeksha' was not literal, but a proverbial one (trial by fire); one that they both underwent... so as to bring about positive changes in society and to undo a whole bunch of social ills/negativities (that flourishd under the garb of 'accepted societal norms' or "maryada").

We know how Krishna departed, but it is difficult (nay impossible) to re-construct how Siya-Ram departed. Or even how Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughna departed. 'Coz the current version(s) of the Ramayana (including the current version of the Valmiki Ramayan) is a much-copied-and-infinitely-embellished version, that is also heavily 'contemporised' (with interpolations). The 'Uttar-Khanda' talks about Shri Ram and his siblings taking jal-samadhi. But then, the 'Uttar-Khanda' itself is accepted as a later addition. Very likely the "Bhakti Movement" influenced it. ['Coz several greats of the "Bhakti Movement" (such as: Sri Chaitanyadev, Guru Nanakdevji and Sant Kabir, even Sant Eknath and Trailanga Swami) are believed to have taken "jal-samadhi" or "salilasamadhi". Therefore: this bit (Shri Ram and his siblings taking jal-samadhi) is of tributary nature.]

As for Sitaji, we commemorate (via Deepavali) Siya-Ram's return to Ayodhya (along with Lakshman) at the end of their 'exile period'. However, there is a strong possibility that Sitaji departed much before Shri Ram. Maybe some illness claimed her. Thereafter, Shri Ram attended all ceremonies and yagna along with a golden statue of Sitaji. He never re-married, instead concentrating on bringing up their twins (Luv and Kush) and governing his kingdom as a just ruler (Ram-Rajya). [Hence, even to this day, a new bride is blessed with the following words: may you have a partner like Shri Ram.]

Maharshi Valmiki was not Shri Ram's contemporary, and hence, is unlikely to have witnessed the events first-hand (unlike Maharshi Veda Vyasa). Valmiki (very likely) heard the story of Ram and Sita from other sources - and documented it, in his own way (and in the language that was spoken in his times). However: we find that one of these sources was Devarshi Narad (Narad Muni, the celestial sage residing in one of the Higher Planets/Urdhva Loka). Devarshi Narad, suggested to him (Valmiki) to write about the life and times of Shri Ram, the jewel of the Suryavanshi Ikshvaku clan (Raghuvanshi lineage) and the most beneficent ruler the land had ever seen.

[Suryavanshi = Sun-worshipping, Sun-flag-bearing/Suryadhvaj-bearing. And as we know: || jyotisam ravir amsuman || ~ of radiance I am the radiant sun (ravir amsuman).]

Therefore: the mention of tall and imposing (as high as a hill) four-tusked elephants (in the Ramayan) is not surprising.

Four-tusked elephants lived millions of years ago and it is highly unlikely that Maharshi Valmiki would have ever seen them. So, how in the world could Valmiki have known about the four-tusked ancestors of the modern elephant unless Narad Muni had told him about them?? Some info... he may have gathered via the literature available to him (though that is a very remote possibility).

[Fossil remains show that there were many steps in the evolution of the 'Modern Elephant' and there did exist four-tusked ancestors of elephants in various shapes and sizes such as Trilophodon, Tetralophodon, Gomphotherium etc around 20 million years ago.]

So, imagine the number of times the 'Ramayana' has played out on Prithvi-loka. Imagine how different each has been from the other. Imagine the number of times the Ram-avatar has graced this land. And imagine the number of places (including possibly the Arctic) that the 'Ramayan' has played out since time immemorial!! [Why the Arctic?? 'Coz the similarities between the Santa Claus figure and Kubera, the Guardian/Lord-of-North-Pole, deserve more than a passing thought. A deeper study of Vedic hymns and Avestic passages might throw more light. The great Lokmanya Tilak too made some very pertinent and sharp observations in his seminal work, 'The Arctic Home in the Vedas.' However: "Aryan" was/is not a 'race', but a 'way of life' rooted in noble principles. Various groups of these noble-natured people (Aryan) migrated towards North Pole (maybe during Paleolithic global warming, though some may have migrated after the end of the nuclear war between Krishna and Saalva). The North Pole then had a very pleasant and conducive climate. Therefore, these Aryans settled there (in batches), but during Ice Age, the surviving ones (known as Arctic Aryans) traveled southward... and went in different directions, in search of new lands (to settle down). In the process... there was intermingling with other groups and cultures.]

Yet the current version(s) of the Ramayan (including the Valmiki Ramayan) deals with what?

Clearly, the succession of later interpreters and translators pruned out vast chunks of the Ramayan. Imagine the amount of information, knowledge and itihasa that were also simultaneously discarded... and have been lost - forever. Maybe: the later interpreters and translators could not decipher much of the language; maybe they could not understand the awesome technology, medical science, highly advanced weaponry, vimana (aircraft), topography, and different types of humans, et al. And so, trimmed off all these portions + 'contemporised' and 'remixed' much of the Ramayana (for the benefit of stage plays, etc). And hence, the version(s) we currently have are much-copied-and-infinitely-embellished versions that are (essentially) a sign of the times (post the demise of the Gupta era). [Do read: Part-IX and Part-X - so as to get the drift.]  

Frankly, even the current version(s) of the Mahabharat (the comprehensive itihasa of Dvapar Yug) too is a much-copied-and-infinitely-embellished version... complete with 'contemporisation', interpolations and 'remix'. A weak-willed Yudhishtira has been elevated to the status of "Dharma-Raj" (the very embodiment of Dharma/justice/duty/responsibility) while two great women - Draupadi and Kunti - has been denigrated. [Yet again a reflection/sign of the times.] Much has been made of Bheeshm (given his age) and even Karna (the "Suta-Putra" bit has been dramatized to the hilt + he has been lionized as "daan-veer"/epitome of charity).

Let's discuss them.

Much has been made of Dronacharya, Karna and Bheeshma (given his age and status - that of a "Maharathi" + so-called 'sacrifice' - supposedly giving up his claim to the throne). But Krishna, if we observe closely, looks at one's karm and one's actions (... and their likely fallout/outcome), and not merely one's age. Frankly: Krishna's clarity of thought and action is remarkable... at all times. Also: Bheeshm was a highly unnatural human (result of very advanced genetic engineering with elements taken from multiple sources) and so, very difficult to kill. Hence the metaphor of 'ichchya mrityu' and 'shara-shajya' (bed of arrows) has been used. There was no 'sacrifice' involved as such. Raja Santanu fully understood the effects of unnatural humans (on earth), and yearned for a natural/human heir. Once he found Satyavati, they married. [Therefore, all this bit about Satyavati's 'conditions' (to Santanu) are later additions.] Satyavati already had a son - the prodigious Veda Vyasa (born out of a short-term 'Gandharva Vivah' with Maharshi Parashar. [See: Part-XVI.]

[The proliferation of unnatural humans in Dvapar was due to the extremely skewed male-female ratio. We will discuss all this in greater detail - in our later posts.]

Bheeshm was (no doubt) a stupendous warrior - a "Maharathi", but otherwise a morally weak and indecisive person. He lacked clarity of thought and perspective. Despite his age, position and experience, he lacked wisdom, clout and gravitas. He failed to react even when Duryodhan and Dushyashana were insulting Draupadi. Even then his concern remained as to whose right it was to ascend the Hastinapur throne: whether Yudhistira or Duryodhan (!) instead of fighting adharm - that was unfolding right in front of his eyes!! He simply opted for silence (possibly) because of Duryodhan's nature... despite being cognizant of the fact that what was happening should not have happened in the first place, nor should it have been allowed to happen - ever. Dhritarashtra was helpless and blind to his sons' fault. 

Karna (yet another stupendous warrior/"Maharathi") was also morally weak and simply a 'tool' in Duryodhan's hands. [Much has been made about the "Suta-putra" bit, but a "Suta" was simply a ksatriya/warrior/martial person who shunned weapons and became a saarathi (charioteer), wandering minstrel (kushalavya) or took up administrative functions instead. [There were three types of warriors: Rathi, Maharathi and Saarathi.] No wonder his 'chariot-wheel' sank to the ground... when the time came. The arrogant, self-centered and weak-willed Karna (despite being a tremendous warrior/Maharathi) was no match for the brilliance/'Sudarshan Chakra' of Krishna. [Refer: Part-XVII.] To know about the real circumstances of Karna's birth, do read: Part-XVI.

Shri Krishna was a master strategist, a reformer, a soldier-statesman and a diplomat par excellence. [He was a soldier against adharm/negativities.] His brilliance (euphemistically known as 'Sudarshan Chakra') put an end to various negative entities, destructive weaponry + unnatural humans (along with all experiments directed towards creating unnatural humans). His actions brought down adharm and re-established the principles of karm and dharma.  [A person's karma consists of the action they take relative to their duties, called dharma.]

He used deception or the art of mind control in ample measure - to fight negative elements: as can be seen from his interactions with Duryodhan and ilk (who were being guided by Shakuni and had even exiled the Pandavas/vaanvas). When Duryodhan came to negotiate with him (asking him to fight on his side), Krishna promised Duryodhan his powerful Narayani Sena instead. However, He himself firmly remained on Arjun's side (as his charioteer and guide)... by stating that he won't pick up weapons to fight. Duryodhan rejoiced. Later, Krishna deftly relieved Karna (a major 'tool' of Duryodhan) off his proverbial 'Kavacha' and 'kundal' - that made him invincible. Thus, Duryodhan's power was greatly reduced. Also: Krishna ensured that none of the other Pandavas came face-to-face with Karna (except Arjun). So on so forth. And he did all this (and more) from a position of great weakness vis-à-vis Duryodhan. 'Coz the latter belonged to the far more powerful and influential Kuru lineage. [Krishna hailed from the Chandravanshi/Moon-Worshipping/Moon-flag-bearing/Chandradhvaj-bearing Yadu clan. And as we know: || nakshatranam aham sasi || ~ and among the stars (nakshatranam) I am the moon (sasi).] Whatever Krishna did was part of: dharma-samsthapanarthaya and vinasaya ca duskrtam. 

[Both Shri Ram and Shri Krishna used deception or the art of mind control... since their circumstances were not ideal. Krishna's Sudarshan Chakra 'cut through' any vyuh.] And if we are to observe closely, we can see the 3rd and 4th avatar in Shri Ram and Shri Krishna. Of all the avatars/roop-s, the 'Varaha-roop' is the greatest. However, the 'Varaha-roop' and the 'Nrsingh-roop' go hand-in-hand. 'Coz without a great deal of courage, valour and determination, one cannot undo a myriad of ills, so as to bring about positive changes in society (thus rejuvenating Sanaatan Dharma). Nor can one be ready to undergo the proverbial 'agni-pareeksha' for the said purpose.

Dronacharya of course had scores to settle with Draupadi's father - Raja Drupad, and this too probably clouded his judgment and better sense. Hence: He too failed to rise above narrow selfish thoughts for a larger cause - to confront and prevent adharm, despite being fully aware of the havoc such adharm would wreck on society. Only the wise Vidur tried his best to stop what was happening, but to no avail. But then, Bheeshma Pitamah - given his age, position and deeds - could have and should have been far more authoritative and effective than the widely respected but much-younger Vidur, is it not? However, that wasn't the case. Unfortunately.

Krishna's use of power (for the greater good: Loka-sangraha or Loka Kalyana - "welfare of all" or "welfare of the world") is precisely what should have inspired or engaged Bheeshma Pitamah: to protect the dharmic and destroy the wicked/adharmic: paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam. Unfortunately, that did not happen. [BTW, Dronacharya too was an unnatural human: do read: Part-XVIII.]  

Only Krishna came to Draupadi's aid and foiled the shameful machinations of Duryodhan and Dushsasana... despite not being physically present in Hastinapur. [Do read: Part-XV.]

Yet, the current version(s) of the Mahabharat say that he held out Draupadi as a bait... in front of Karna !! So imagine... the extent of 'contemporisation' and 'remix' (for the benefit of stage plays, etc). [None of the current version(s) of the Mahabharat talk about unnatural humans/genetic engineering/cloning et al... even in passing. Instead, large swathes of the narrative has been tweaked and re-written. In the process, we can see what has been done to Kunti and Draupadi. And even Krishna!!! In Part-V - we have discussed the birth of Draupadi.]

Krishna was Draupadi's brother-in-law (Kunti being his paternal aunt) and best friend (sakha). Rather, they treat each other as the best of friends and confidants. And this itself speaks volumes of Draupadi's personality, caliber, intelligence and eruditeness.

Once when Krishna hurt his wrist (or perhaps finger; maybe someone threw a weapon at him), it was Draupadi who rushed to bandage the wound. Krishna then tells her that with this one act she has wrapped him in debt... but that he would repay each "thread" when the time came. He also asks her what she would like in return. Draupadi simply asks for his presence in her life - always. Krishna acquiesces. [We know about the "vastraharan" episode, about Rishi Durvasa's unannounced visit along with several of his disciples, and so on.]

Even in the manner in which Krishna dealt with Duryodhan and Dushshasana... he accepts Draupadi's request (after she undertook the great vow - Draupadi shapat - that she would remain with disheveled hair, the symbolic untying of the 'shikha', until the perpetrators of adharm have been eliminated). [Krishna's brilliance makes it happen, but the final act... he lets the mighty Bheem do the honours.]

After Draupadi makes her request, Krishna gives her his word (with the assurance that the Himalayas may move... but his words will not change).

Draupadi's act of bandaging Krishna's wound and Krishna's act of standing by her through thick and thin.. is today celebrated as "Raksha-Bandhan" (abbreviated to "Rakhi"). ["Raksha" is not 'protection', but a promise to stand by each other - always. Bandhan = bond.]

According to legend, when Alexander invaded India (in 326 BCE), Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus (or Paurava, Parvateshvar) honoured that rakhi.

Let's return to Shri Krishna and His sayings about the impermanence of the body and the permanence of the soul.

Verse 24:
|| acchedyo 'yam adahyo 'yam
akledyo 'sosya eva ca
nityah sarva-gatah sthanur
acalo 'yam sanatanah ||

Meaning: acchedyah: unbreakable, indestructable; ayam: this soul; adahyah: cannot be burned, incombustible; ayam: this soul; akledyah: insoluble; asosyah: cannot be dried, unwitherable; eva: certainly; ca: and; nityah: everlasting, eternal; sarva-gatah: all-pervading; sthanuh: unchangeable, unmodifiable; acalah: immovable; ayam: this soul; sanatanah: eternally the same, primordial. 

Translated: "This individual soul is indestructible; it is incombustible, insoluble and unwitherable. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and primordial."

Verse 30:
|| dehi nityam avadhyo 'yam
dehe sarvasya bharata
tasmat sarvani bhutani
na tvam socitum arhasi ||

Meaning: dehi nityam: eternal soul; avadhyah: cannot be killed; ayam: this soul; dehe: within the body; sarvasya: of every living entity; bharata: O descendant of Bharata; tasmat: therefore; sarvani: all; bhutani: living entities (that are born); na: never; tvam: you; socitum: to lament; arhasi: deserve.

Translated: "O descendant of Bharata (addressing Arjun), this eternal soul within the body of every living entity is immortal; therefore, you should not lament for any being."
Verse 31:
|| sva-dharmam api caveksya
na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo 'nyat
ksatriyasya na vidyate ||

Meaning: sva-dharmam: one's principles/duty (dharma) born out of one’s nature (pravritti); api: also, moreover; ca: indeed; aveksya: considering; na: never; vikampitum: to hesitate, falter; arhasi: you deserve; dharmyat yuddhat: than a battle for the establishment of the right principles (that benefits mankind/society); hi: indeed; anyat sreyah: a more appropriate engagement/endeavour; ksatriyasya: of the ksatriya/for upholders of justice; na: does not; vidyate: exist.

Translated: "Considering your specific duty as a ksatriya (upholder of justice), you should not falter. You should know that there is no better engagement for you than upholding justice (right or noble principles); and so there is no need for hesitation. Indeed for upholders of justice (ksatriya) there does not exist a more appropriate engagement than a struggle to establish the right principles (thus benefiting mankind/society)."

Verse 33:
|| atha cet tvam imam dharmyam
sangramam na karisyasi
tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca
hitva papam avapsyasi ||

Meaning: atha: therefore; cet: if; tvam: you; imam: this; dharmyam: sacred duty, principles; sangramam: fighting; na: do not; karisyasi: perform; tatah: then; sva-dharmam: your duty as a ksatriya/warrior/upholder of justice; kirtim: reputation; ca: also; hitva: losing; papam: sinful reaction; avapsyasi: do gain.

Translated: "If, however, you do not engage in this war of principles, then you will certainly incur sins (paap, negative karm) for neglecting/abandoning your sva-dharma, your duties/responsibilities as a ksatriya, and thus lose your reputation as a warrior (upholder of justice)."

Verse 34:
|| akirtim capi bhutani
kathayisyanti te 'vyayam
sambhavitasya cakirtir
maranad atiricyate ||

Meaning: akirtim: infamy; ca: also; api: over and above; bhutani: all people; kathayisyanti: will speak; te: of you; avyayam: forever; sambhavitasya: for a respectable man; ca: also; akirtih: ill fame; maranat: than death; atiricyate: becomes more than.

Translated: "People will forever speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honoured, dishonour is worse than death."

Verse 35:
|| bhayad ranad uparatam
mamsyante tvam maha-rathah
yesam ca tvam bahu-mato
bhutva yasyasi laghavam ||

Meaning: bhayat: out of fear; ranat: from the battlefield; uparatam: ceased; mamsyante: will consider; tvam: you; maha-rathah: the great generals, mighty chariot warriors; yesam: for those whom; ca: also; tvam: you; bahu-matah bhutva: have been held in great esteem; yasyasi: will go; laghavam: decrease in value.

Translated: "The mighty chariot warriors (Duryodhan, Karna et al) will consider that you retired from the battlefield out of fear and for those whom you have been held in great esteem you will fall into disgrace."

Verse 36:
|| avacya-vadams ca bahun
vadisyanti tavahitah
nindantas tava samarthyam
tato duhkhataram nu kim ||

Meaning: avacya: unkind; vadan: fabricated words; ca: also; bahun: many; vadisyanti: will say; tava: your; ahitah: enemies; nindantah: while vilifying; tava: your; samarthyam: ability; tatah: thereafter; duhkha-taram: more painful; nu: of course; kim: what is there.

Translated: "Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?"

Verse 37:
|| hato va prapsyasi svargam
jitva va bhoksyase mahim
tasmad uttistha kaunteya
yuddhaya krta-niscayah ||

Meaning: Hatah: being killed; va: either; prapsyasi: you will gain entry; svargam: the heavenly kingdom/Svarga-loka (one of the Higher Planets/Urdhva Loka); jitva: being victorious; va: or; bhoksyase: you enjoy; mahim: the world; tasmat: therefore; uttistha: get up, arise; kaunteya: O son of Kunti; yuddhaya: to fight; krta: with; niscayah: determination, certainty.

Translated: "Die and you are assured heaven [i.e. if you are slain in battle, you will gain entry into heaven/Svarga-loka + you'll be mrityunjay and live forever], victorious, and you will enjoy sovereignty of earth [i.e. you will rule peoples hearts, you will be much admired and respected by all]; therefore, arise, O Kaunteya [O son of Kunti; Arjun] determined to fight."

[In other words: for those who struggle/fight for a just or noble cause, there is nothing to lose.

Through Arjun, Krishna is advising each and every one of us to shed our inhibitions, negative attitude and lethargy and go forward to work hard for any noble cause (that benefits society). By discharging one's duty (to the best of one's ability) and by abstaining from what ought not to be done; one automatically contributes towards the betterment of society.

Krishna also advises us to try and overcome adharm (negativities) within ourselves; adharm in our thoughts, minds and hearts - that pushes us towards committing acts that are best avoided. He urges us to try our best to overcome negative thoughts and words: like greed, rage or anger. If one were to be filled with rage on finding injustice (adharm) meted out to someone and protests against it, then it is welcome; but rage or anger that results in the destruction of property or loss of innocent lives; or leads to the mistreatment of the elderly, or of women and children, or of animals - is to be avoided. One must try and overcome such emotions. If someone is greedy about doing something good for the people... in the spirit of public service without expecting anything in return, then such greed is good. But if someone indulges in acquiring wealth and fame in the garb of social service, then such persons or such thoughts should be resisted.] 

However: Krishna is not the Supreme guide and teacher, a great visionary and class diplomat, Master strategist and Soldier-Statesman par excellence for nothing. Besides elaborating on a variety of philosophical concepts and explaining the cosmic process + the meaning of destiny, He also adds just the right dose of a 'certain something'... so as to spur Arjun into action. So as to make Arjun shake off his confusion/mental weakness, shun his inertia and follow his sva-dharma... with full vigour.

As we know: the Kurukshetra War was not fought over riches or territories. It was a "Dharma-Yuddha" - a battle fought to re-establish certain norms in society + to defend/preserve the noble principles of Sanaatan Dharma.

Krishna being a Tri-kala-jna/Trikalagya (a "bhuta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhu" or the Master of all things past, future and present) as well as the possessor of the Tritiya-Nayan (the metaphoric Third Eye) clearly understood that for a proper societal balance to return and for civilization to progress well... the negative entities + the unnatural humans (along with their weaponry) had to be (largely) eliminated. And that Duryodhan and ilk had to be stopped from ascending the throne... so as to prevent adharm from proliferating in society + weaving its way into Sanaatan Dharma (thus destroying the noble principles of this eternal way of life). [Sanaatan = eternal. Dharma = path or way of life.]

... Arjun was His 'instrument'... but unfortunately he was raked with guilt and self-doubt, hence dithering.

Thus: Krishna - the Supreme Balancer, the Supreme Preserver - makes the decision for Arjun.

In fact, Krishna wields far less power and clout than Bheeshma or Dronacharya. His circumstances were not ideal either. Plus: He was in a much weaker position vis-à-vis Duryodhan and ilk. The latter - being part of the Kuru lineage - were immensely more powerful and influential. Yet Krishna is decisive, has clarity (of thought and action), finds solutions and provides guidance - irrespective of the magnitude of challenge(s) ... for the greater good (Loka-sangraha or Loka Kalyana.)

So, what does He do? What was that 'certain something' so as to spur Arjun into action?

Krsna smilingly (so as to camouflage the gentle sarcasm) addresses Arjun as maha-bahu (mighty-armed). This, despite Arjun's refusal to fight (in spite of being fully cognizant of the outcome of such a decision). And this, despite Arjun's willingness to abandon his duty/responsibility (sva-dharma) as a warrior/ksatriya/upholder of justice... simply because he saw his own kith and kin on the other side of the battlefield... even though the latter stood on the side of adharm. Krishna's sarcasm is nicely camouflaged... yet destined to find its mark. Especially since it is also paired with what the likes of Duryodhan and Karna will think of Arjun (if the latter retired from the battlefield), and how his enemies will describe him in many unkind words + scorn his ability. 

Dharma, a term that transcends the mere confines of one's duty/responsibility to a higher realm of societal good. It also transcends personal gains. 

As a ksatriya (upholder of justice), Arjun belonged to the Vedic culture, and it behooved him to continue to follow its principles (his sva-dharma). Indirectly, Arjun was advised to act as Krsna told him (so as to restore proper balance in society + salvage and/or defend the noble principles of Sanaatan Dharma).

To this greatest of all Guru, the Universal Guru, we bow in reverence:

Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vissnnur-Gururdevo Maheshvarah |
Gurure[-I]va Param Brahma Tasmai Shrii-Gurave Namah ||


1.1: The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru Deva is Maha Eshvara (the Supreme Eshvara/Lord; Auspiciousness and Compassion personified),

1.2: The Guru is Verily the Para-Brahmn (Supreme Brahmn), Salutations to that Guru.

Here is a seal depicting that Universal Guru, the Supreme Parama-hamsa, the Supreme Yogi (since all wisdom and knowledge... including the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Bhagavad Geeta and all forms of Yog emanates from Him.)

The seal is a square seal depicting a male deity with three faces, seated in yogic position on a throne, wearing bangles on both arms and an elaborate headdress. Five symbols of the Indus script appear on either side of the headdress, which is made of two outward projecting curved horns, with two upward projecting points. A single branch with three peepal leaves rises from the middle of the headdress.

Seven bangles are depicted on the left arm and six on the right, with the hands resting on the knees. The heels are pressed together and the feet project beyond the edge of the throne. The feet of the throne are carved with the hoof of a bovine as is seen on the bull and unicorn seals. The seal may not have been fired, but the stone is very hard. A grooved and perforated boss is present on the back of the seal.

The three faces = the three loka (Trilok) or the three worlds (tri-bhUvan). Hence the seated Yogi is none other than the Lord of the three worlds: the 'tribhUvaneshvar', the Trilok Sundar: Purushottam Satya. The three faces denote the cosmic Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram. [Please refer: Part-XXIV.]

The elaborate headdress is made of two outward projecting curved horns, with two upward projecting points: 'coz Krishna is also the Supreme Bull (vrisha uttamam) or Bhagavan Dharma. He is Dharma (justice and duty) personified. [Dharma is generally symbolized in Sanaatan Dharmic thought by the bull, vrishabha. It does not refer to a bovine creature per se. We will discuss the symbology of the bull in greater detail - in our next post.]

Five symbols of the Indus script that appear on either side of the headdress: probably this was how Vishnu or Krsna was written in the Indus script (Hieroglyphs).

The horned headdress has a branch with three prongs or peepal leaves emerging from the center.

And in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10, Verse: 26), Shri Krishna describes the glory of the peepal tree thus:

|| aśvatthaḥ sarva-vṛkṣāṇāḿ ||

Translated: || among trees, I am the ashvattha (peepal) ||

Therefore, the seated yogi figure is clearly Shri Krishna - the Supreme Yogi, the Supreme Parama-hamsa. [However, the fish hieroglyph instantly piques one's interest, no?! We will discuss it in our next post.]

This seal simply depicts the "Vishwaroop" in another form. We can even say it depicts Herakles or Hercules in another form (and Herakles is none other than Shri Krishna).

[What the 'bangles' indicate, we will discuss in our later posts. However, what is notable is that: our ancestors could effortlessly depict the Param-aatma as someone wearing bangles. We, their worthy descendents (in our infinite wisdom) have come to regard bangles as 'sign of emasculation' or 'weakness' instead. Clearly our ancestors were wise, we are... umm, otherwise, what? :)]

On the reverse, a female deity is battling two tigers and standing above an elephant. A single Indus script depicting a spoked wheel is above the head of the deity. [The female deity is none other than Devi Parvati/Durga/Shakti.]

[The spoked wheel or Sudarshan Chakra (as we all know) is associated with Vishnu-Krishna, but it is also associated with Devi Parvati. The 'Sudarshan Chakra' remains in Virupaksh-Krishna + Parvati/Durga's forefinger - at all times. His brilliance - referred to as the 'Sudarshan Chakra' remains intact - irrespective of whatever outer coil He assumes.]

Do also note the shape of the Sudarshan Chakra and that of the Andromeda Galaxy, or other galaxies and nebulae for that matter. [In Sanaatan Dharma, the swastika represents the Universe in our own spiral galaxy in the forefinger of Shri Vishnu (Virupaksha-Krishna). This carries most significance in establishing the creation of the Universe and the arms as 'kala' or time.]

Clearly: Vishnu-Krishna/Durga-Parvati [Narayan-Narayani] runs the universe/cosmos.

This is what the "Devi Mahatmyam" (Sri Sri chandipATh) says:

Srsstti-Sthiti-Vinaashaanaam Shakti-Bhuute Sanaatani |
Gunna-[A]ashraye Gunnamaye Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||9||


9.1: (Salutations to You O Narayani) In Whom is Present the Power of Creation, Maintenance and Dissolution and Who is Eternal,

9.2: Who is the Support of the Gunas (all noble aspects, attributes) and the Embodiment of the Gunas; Salutations to You O Narayani.

Srsstti-Sthiti-Vinaashaanaam/the Power of Creation, Maintenance and Dissolution: the cosmic Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram - the Brahmn, the Param-aatma. [Narayan-Narayani. Parameshvar-Parameshvari. Jagadishvar-Jagadishvari. That's the duality. Hence, the concept of "ArdhaNarishvar". It is not literal, though.]

... Therefore, the ancient Indus people (of the Sindhu-Sarasvati Sabhyata) knew about the Swastika and the Sudarshan Chakra, about Shri Vishnu and Shri Krishna, about Devi Parvati... and worshipped them too! [So much for all the fictitious invasion theories!!!]

Vishnu-Krishna/Durga-Parvati [Narayan-Narayani]: the Param-aatma or Supreme Spirit. Aatma/spirit is energy. It has no form of gender.

Here is a popular prayer song:

त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव,
त्वमेव बंधू च सखा त्वमेव,
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणं त्वमेव,
त्वमेव सर्वं मम देव देव

|| O Lord, You are the Mother, You are the Father,
You Are the Kinsman and You are the Friend.
You Are My Wealth Of Knowledge, Strength, Power And Valour.
You Are My God Of Gods ||

Here are some more lines:

|| tumhi ho naiyaa tumhi khevaiya
tumhi ho saathi tuhmi saharay ||
 || You are the boat and You are the boatman
You are the companion and You the support ||

The Swastika symbol: The term Swastika has been derived from the Sanskrit word "Svastika", which means well-being: "SU" means "good" or "auspicious," "ASTI" means "to be," and "KA" as a suffix. The swastika literally means, "to be good". Alternatively: "swa" is "higher self", "asti" meaning "being", and "ka" as a suffix, so the translation can be interpreted as: "being with higher self".

Suasti thus means "well-being." The suffix -ka either forms a diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and suastika might thus be translated literally as "that which is associated with well-being," corresponding to "lucky charm" or "thing that is auspicious."

Thus swastika means any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness, good luck or well-being.

The most traditional form of the swastika's symbolization in Sanaatan Dharma is that the symbol represents the purusharthas (representative of the cosmic spirit/Purusha): dharma (that which makes a human a human), artha (wealth), kama (desire), and moksha (liberation). All four are needed for a full life. However, two (artha and kama) are limited and can only give limited joy. They are the two closed arms of the swastika. The other two are unlimited and are the open arms of the swastika.

The Swastika could also be a representation of the (cosmic) Purusha and Prakriti.

Swastika Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization:

Swastika is considered to be a mark of auspiciousness and good fortune. Red Swastika is the sign of Sanaatan Dharma; it depicts a cross with four arms of equal lengths. The end of each of the arms is bent at a right angle. At times, dots are also added between the arms.

The right-facing swastika (Sanskrit: Svastika) in the decorative form, used to evoke sacred force.

Probably the most common design on the Indus seals is the swastika. It occurs in dozens of seals and is sometimes aligned with various animals like the elephant. [For elephant and what Sri Ganesh represents, do read: Part-XI.] Bronze Age swastika symbols were found at Lothal and Harappa, on Indus seals. Now, whether the Swastika was a symbol from the early-Vedic period or from later-Vedic period or in-between - my guess is as good as yours.

The Bison seal, Mohenjo-daro: This is a flat square double sided seal. On one side, four script symbols are inscribed in reverse, above a bison with head lowered to the feeding trough. A swastika motif turning counter clockwise is carved on the reverse. The seal is perforated from the side along the axis of the animal motif.

This symbol wards off negativities. It represents the cosmic spinning vortex. The right-handed swastika symbol originated in ancient India and is the symbol of the mighty River Sarasvati as well as the Sindhu-Sarasvati Sabhyata - (possibly) the oldest sabhyata (civilization) of all.

The swastika is an equilateral cross with four arms bent at 90 degrees. The earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Sindhu-Sarasvati Sabhyata as well as the Mediterranean Classical Antiquity. [Do ponder over this. We have already discussed it in bits and pieces in this series.] Swastikas have also been used in various other ancient civilizations around the world including China, Japan, and Southern Europe. It was and remains widely used in Sanaatan Dharma as well as what has come to be known as Buddhism and Jainism, primarily as a tantric symbol to evoke shakti or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. Therefore: the swastika is a historical sacred symbol both to evoke 'Shakti' in tantric rituals and evoke the gods for blessings.

In England, Neolithic or Bronze Age stone carvings of the symbol have been found on Ilkley Moor. [Clearly, Blue-eyed and blonde-haired 'Aryans' never invaded India to write our Vedas and other ancient texts. Rather, there was an exodus of (ancient) Indian Aryans after the once-mighty River Sarasvati dried up, and these are the people who built the Stonehenge in (what is now known as) England. This exodus probably commenced around 4000 BC or thereabouts. The Mahabharata also recognizes the Sarasvati as a great river in decline, which was its condition in the Harappan era.]

Swastikas have also been found on pottery in archaeological digs in Africa, in the area of Kush and on pottery at the Jebel Barkal temples, in Iron Age designs of the northern Caucasus (Koban culture), and in Neolithic China in the Majiabang, Dawenkou and Xiaoheyan cultures.

[The Kingdom of Kush or Kush was an ancient African kingdom situated on the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara in what is now the Republic of Sudan. And no matter what explanation/'history' has come about in recent years, we may want to study Kush. There may be some link with the descendents of one of Siya-Ram's twins, Kush.]

Other Iron Age attestations of the swastika can be associated with cultures such as the Celts, Greeks, Germanics and Slavs. It also appears in the Bronze and Iron Age cultures around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The swastika is also seen in Egypt during the Coptic period. The Buddhist swastika reached Tibet and China. The Balinese also knew the symbol. The use of the swastika by the Bön faith of Tibet, as well as later syncretic religions, such as Cao Dai of Vietnam and Falu Gong of China, can also be traced to Buddhist influence.

The Swastika is a symbol of good fortune in Buddhism. It represents the footprints and heart of Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh. Thus, it is considered to be very holy and extensively brought to use by Buddhists. In fact, in all the images of Shri Gautam Buddh, you'll find the Swastik imprinted on his chest, palms and feet.

In Jainism, Swastika represents the Seventh Jina, more popularly known as the Tirthankara Suparsva. It is one of the most prominent auspicious symbols of the present era. In the cultural traditions of Svetambar Jains, Swastika is one of the main symbols of the ashta-mangalas.

Shri Ganesh has the Swastika on his palm. The swastika is at times considered a symbolic representation of Shri Ganesh. Shri Ganesh - the Vignesh or the Vighna-Vinashak (the remover of obstacles) - is offered first offerings in every puja. The swastika is made with red vermilion (prepared with natural ingredients) during rituals. 

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa
II AUM Sri Ganeshaya Namaha II

The Peepal tree: is considered very sacred in Sanaatan Dharma. In some of the old Indus sites, clay objects with peepal leaf markings have been unearthed. There are seals depicting the peepal leaf. All this shows that the peepal tree has been worshipped from very early times.

And why not? It is the tree of eternal life. The ashvattha symbolizes the continuity of life because the tree itself lives and grows for hundreds of years. The heart-shaped leaves on long, thin stems shimmer easily in a light breeze. This sacred tree stands for wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, happiness, prosperity, peace, longevity and good luck. The dry twigs of the peepal are used in yagnas as fuel. [The tree is also associated with the old Vedic ritual of lighting a sacrificial/ritual fire (homa) with a twig of the peepal tree.] Pradakshina (circumambulation) is practiced by Sanaatan Dharmis as a mark of worship, walking around the tree in clockwise direction. Every peepal tree is a reservoir of oxygen. People who stay near it have a plentiful supply of oxygen. A peepal tree is rarely cut, 'coz the cutting down of this holy tree without a proper reason is similar to cutting down one's own ancestors. This majestic tree gives ample shade to humans and animals alike. It is also home to a lot of birds and insects.

The holy fig tree has medicinal properties too. According to Ayurveda (and Shri Vishnu/Dhanvantari is the Lord of Ayurveda), this tree has both sweet and bitter taste and a cool property. Intaking the bark, fruit and buds with different combination of things cures ailments related with phlegm, bile, inflammation, indisposition etc. The powdered form of the fruit of this tree increases appetite and cures numerous ailments. So the holy fig tree holds a very important place in Indian civilization (be it with respect to faith, medicinal and social point of views), and hence it is worthy of worship.

The peepal is used extensively in Ayurveda. Its bark yields the tannin used in treating leather. Its leaves, when heated in ghee, are applied to cure wounds. The twigs of peepal tree are used for homams. It stimulates the functions of the brain, giving peace of mind. The leaves of Peepal tree are very rich in protein and the bark of the tree is used in several indigenous medicinal drugs.

Shri Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe and of Ayurveda (symbolically) dwells in the roots of this tree, 'Keshav' (Krishna) in the trunk, Narayan dwells in the branches, Shri Hari in the leaves and all the deities dwell in the fruits of this sacred tree. The peepal tree is (therefore) the personification of Shri Vishnu. ['Coz Vishnu, Keshav, Narayan and Hari are all one and the same.]

Here is an Indus seal depicting Shri Krishna as the peepal tree. And we all know: || aśvatthaḥ sarva-vṛkṣāṇāḿ || ~ among trees, I am the ashvattha (peepal).

In the 1st Century... punch mark coins were in circulation all over India. The ashvatta tree symbol has been found on some ancient coins of this era. [The coin (in pic) is from Eran-Vidisha - 1st Century BC.]

About two and half millennium ago, Siddhartha Gautama achieved nirvana (attained enlightenment) sitting under this very tree. He became the Enlightened One (Bodhi) or the "Awakened" One (Buddh). Hence this tree is also called the Bodhi tree or the 'tree of enlightenment'. According to Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh: 'He who worships the Peepal tree will receive the same reward as if he worshipped me in person'. Thus, the peepal is also the personification of Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh. Initially (and for many years thereafter) the Buddha was not depicted as a meditating human but as the transpersonal World Tree, because he had overcome his human boundaries and become one with the world spirit. The Bodhi tree, the Tree of Enlightenment, (therefore) became the symbol of Shri Gautam Buddh's message in general.

Ashvatha literally means, "Where horses stood" (ashva + tha). In Sanskrit, this tree is known as Ashvattha, Bodhivriksha and Plaksha. This tree represents the entire cosmos: 'Shva' in Sanskrit means tomorrow, 'a' indicates negation, and 'tha' means one that stands or remains. Hence Ashvatha can indicate: "One which does not remain the same tomorrow", or the universe itself. 

The Ashvatha tree is quite remarkable because it grows both upwards as well as top to bottom. The branches themselves morph into roots, so even if the original tree decays and perishes, its branches underneath are young and continue to enclose the parent. This eternal life of the Peepal tree has inspired many Indian philosophers; this tree has its own symbolic meaning of enlightenment and peace... all of which has enriched Sanaatan Dharma. 

In the Upanishads, the fruit of the peepal is used as an example to explain the difference between the body and the soul: the body is like the fruit which, being outside, feels and enjoys things, while the soul is like the seed, which is inside and therefore witnesses things.

Tree of Roots above; branches below; this Ashvattha is reputed to be imperishable; whose leaves are the Vedas; One who knows this is a knower of all the vedas. [Kathopanishad and Bhagavadgita.]

... And it was beneath this very tree that Shri Krishna was resting when (the hunter) Jara's arrow hit him... thus releasing His outer/mortal coil. [However it is unlikely that Krishna would have been taken by surprise. 'Coz as a 'Trikalagya' and the possessor of the (metaphoric) 'third eye' he would have been aware of it... and possibly been anticipating it too.] 

[Note: However: given the extent of 'contemporisation', efforts have been made (by later translators, interpreters et al - possibly for the benefit of stage plays, shows, etc) to turn Jara into a re-incarnated version of Vaali (from the Ramayan). And his act of striking Krishna with an arrow has been 'interpreted' as the outcome of 'karma' (Krishna's 'karm' in his previous avatar as Shri Ram... when he liberated Vaali) + Gandhari's 'curse' - since Krishna was 'responsible' for the obliteration of Duryodhan and his siblings! 

I ask you !!

Both Vaali and Duryodhan (along with his siblings) were indulging in adharm. They had violated the prevailing (noble) principles of Arya-Dharma/Sanaatan Dharma - in ways that the previous eras (Treta and Dvapar) considered as the greatest of 'paap' (heinous sin). And yet, later translators et al (very likely post the demise of the Gupta-era) have 'contemporised', rewritten and tweaked the narratives. So much so, the complete flavour of our pracheen itihasa (ancient history) has altered. And how! Sad, right? 

Imagine the amount of information, wisdom, knowledge and history that too has been obliterated... forever.]

Here is the Dhanvantari Mantra (dedicated to the Supreme Druid/Physician and the primordial God of healthcare):

|| Om Namo Bhagavate
Maha Sudarshana
Vasudevaya Dhanvantaraye;
Amruta Kalasa Hasthaaya
Sarva Bhaya Vinasaya
Sarva Roka Nivaranaya
Tri Lokya Pathaye
Tri Lokya Nithaye
Sri Maha Vishnu Svarupa
Sri Dhanvantari Svarupa
Sri Sri Sri
Aoushata Chakra Narayana Svaha ||

Translated: We pray to the Lord, who is known as Sudarshana Vasudev Dhanvantari. He holds the Kalasha full of celestial nectar (of immortality). Lord Dhanvantari removes all fears and removes all diseases (negativities). He is the well-wisher and the preserver of the three worlds. Dhanvantari is like Lord Vishnu, empowered to heal the Jiva souls (the individual souls... due to which each of us possess an unique identity). We bow to the Lord of Ayurveda.

[Celestial nectar (of immortality) is not literal. Maha Sudarshana = His unparalleled brilliance + radiance + good looks; Vasudeva = Lord of the worlds; Tri Lokya = the three worlds. Aoushata = medicine, cure, remedy; not just of physical ailments.]

The festival of Dhanteras is also known as Dhantrayodashi and Dhanvantari Trayodashi (marking the appearance of Shri Dhanvantari). This festival marks the beginning of the Diwali celebrations and that is why, it is considered the first day of the five-day-long festivities of Diwali. The term 'Dhanteras' consists of two factors 'dhan', which means wealth and 'teras', which means thirteenth. Here thirteenth is meant to indicate the day 'Trayodashi', i.e. the thirteenth day of the month on which Dhanteras falls. Dhanvantari Trayodashi (Dhantrayodashi) is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, of the month of Kartik, which is two days before Diwali/Deepavali.

"Churning of the ocean" (samudra manthan) is many-layered. Lord Dhanvantari "emerged" during "samudra-manthan" holding the Kalasha full of celestial nectar (of immortality). And we can fully understand what this means, if we understand who the Supreme "Neelkanth" is. He is also "Ghanshyam" - one who arrives periodically to absorb "poison"... so as to bring down negativities/adharm, rejuvenate Sanaatan Dharma and restore proper balance in society. He is none other than the cosmic Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram. [Shivam = auspiciousness. The Supreme "Neelkanth" is auspiciousness personified.]

Down the line, various persons, the best physicians of their time/era, have taken the name/title "Dhanvantari". One such great physician, "Dhanvantari," was chosen as one of the Nine Gems/Nava-Ratna in Samraat Vikramaditya's court. Samraat Vikramaditya was famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. 

[The other eight ratna were: 1. Kalidasa: the legendary Sanskrit laureate. 2. Amarnath: author of 'Sanskrit Amarkosh'. 3. Shapanak: Master Astrologist. 4. Varruchi: Expert Linguist and an expert in Grammar. 5. Varāhamihira:  great astronomer, mathematician and astrologer; author of 'Bruhatsamhita' and Pañcasiddhāntikā (or Pancha-Siddhantika), "[Treatise] on the Five [Astronomical] Canons." 6. Ghatakpar: Expert in sculpture and architecture. 7. Shanku: Expert in Geography. 8. Vetalbhadra: Expert in tantric sciences.

Here is a bit about Ujjain: An ancient city in the Malwa region, Ujjain was known as Ujjayini, and was referred to as Ozene by Ptolemy. According to an ancient Hindu calendar, the first meridian of the planet earth passes through Ujjain, making Ujjain time the universal time. The earliest references to Ujjaini go back to the time of Gautam Buddh. It was then the capital of Avanti, a kingdom of great repute. It was also a capital during the reign of Samraat Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya). Ujjain, during the sixth and seventh centuries, developed into an important centre of mathematical and astronomical research. It was here that Brahmagupta discovered the value of zero and trigonometry. Bhaskaracharya, a renowned mathematician, also lived in Ujjain, as did Asoka as the viceroy/governor of the western provinces of the Mauryan Empire.]

Let's return to Ayurveda.

Ayurveda can be defined as a holistic system of medicine, which uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words "ayus" and "veda." "Ayus" means life and "Veda" means knowledge or science. The term "ayurveda" thus means 'the knowledge of life' or 'the science of life'. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" comprises the mind, body, senses and the soul. [The oldest known ayurvedic texts are Suśruta Saṃhitā and Charaka Saṃhitā.]

Widely regarded as the oldest form of healthcare in the world, Ayurveda is an intricate medical system that originated in India thousands of years ago. The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in our ancient scriptures called the Vedas - the ancient Indian books of wisdom. The Rig Veda contains a series of prescriptions that can help humans overcome various ailments.

The aim of this system is to prevent illness, heal the sick and preserve life. This can be summed up as follows:
  • To protect health and prolong life ("Swasthyas swasthya rakshanam")
  • To eliminate diseases and dysfunctions of the body ("Aturasya vikar prashamanamcha")
Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements ([maha]panchabhuta): air (vayu), fire (agni), water (jal), earth (prithvi) and ether (aakash). These elements are represented in humans by three "doshas", or energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When any of the doshas accumulate in the body beyond the desirable limit, the body loses its balance. Every individual has a distinct balance, and our health and well-being depend on getting a right balance of the three doshas ("tridoshas"). Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to help individuals reduce the excess dosha.

A healthy person, as defined in Sushrut Samhita, one of the primary works on Ayurveda, is "he whose doshas are in balance, appetite is good, all tissues of the body and all natural urges are functioning properly, and whose mind, body and spirit are cheerful..." 

The three doshas ('Tridosha'), or bio-energies found in our body are:
  • Vata pertains to air and ether elements. This energy is generally seen as the force, which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination.
  • Kapha pertains to water and earth elements. Kapha is responsible for growth and protection. The mucousal lining of the stomach, and the cerebral-spinal fluid that protects the brain and spinal column are examples of kapha.
  • Pitta pertains to fire and water elements. This dosha governs metabolism, e.g., the transformation of foods into nutrients. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems.
'Panchakarma' or the Therapy of Purification: If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as panchakarma is recommended to purge these unwanted toxins. This fivefold purification therapy is a classical form of treatment in ayurveda. These specialized procedures consist of the following:
  • Therapeutic vomiting or emesis (Vaman)
  • Purgation (Virechan)
  • Enema (Basti)
  • Elimination of toxins through the nose (Nasya)
  • Bloodletting or detoxification of the blood (Rakta moksha)
In classical Sanskrit literature, Ayurveda was called "the science of eight components" (Sanskrit aṣṭāṅga), a classification that became canonical for ayurveda. They are:
  • (General medicine) - Kāya-chikitsā: "cure of diseases affecting the body."
  • (Paediatrics) - Kaumāra-bhṛtya: "treatment of children."
  • (Surgery) - Śhalya-chikitsā: "removal of any substance which has entered the body (as extraction of darts, of splinters, etc.)"
  • (Ophthalmology/ENT) - Śālākya-tantra: "cure of diseases of the eye or ear etc. by sharp instruments".)
  • (Psychiatry) - Bhūta(past)-vidyā: "treatment of mental diseases supposed to be produced by past experiences."
  • (Toxicology) - Agada-tantra: "doctrine of antidotes."
  • (Elixirs) - Rasayana-tantra: "doctrine of Rasayana (an elixir of life)."
  • (Aphrodisiacs) - Vājīkaraṇa tantra.
Ayurveda has historically taken the approach of enumerating bodily substances in the framework of the five classical elements (Sanskrit: [maha]panchabhuta, viz. earth, water, fire, air and ether), considering the seven "tissues" dhātu (Devanāgarī: saptadhatu): plasma (rasa dhātu), blood (rakta dhātu), flesh (māṃsa dhātu), adipose (medha dhātu), bone (asthi dhātu), marrow (majja dhātu), and reproductive (śukra dhātu). Ayurveda stresses a balance of three elemental substances (doṣa): Vāyu/vāta (air and space - "wind"), pitta (fire and water - "bile") and kapha (water and earth - "phlegm"). Given the highly advanced medical procedures mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata... we can imagine what Ayurveda was all about or how much knowledge it contained. [Much of it is perhaps lost...]

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

(Do stay tuned…)

Pictures: Illustrations of: the "Dasavatara"; White Swan - Raja Hamsa or royal swan; Devi Sarasvati; Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya; Shri Krishna - the eternal Mayur; vasudhaiva kuTumbakam; Hitopadesha, Panchatantra and Jataka Tales; Krishna-Arjun 01; Krishna-Arjun 02; Shri Vishnu lending a helping hand to mankind (in all loka); A smiling Krishna blessing Jara - the hunter; Krishna departs to Vaikuntha-loka - while Jara grieves over the discarded mortal coil; Shri Ram; Siya-Ram; Sri Chaitanyadev and disciples; Bheeshma Pitamah lying on his metaphoric 'shara-shajya' or 'bed of arrows'; Krishna blessing Bhishma Pitamah; Karna's 'chariot wheel' sinks to the ground; 'Sudarshan Chakra'; Duryodhan; the 'Varaha-roop'; Draupadi 'arising from the yagna-kunda'; Dushshasana-vadh; Krishna-Arjun 03; Yogi seal - an Indus seal; "Vishwaroop"; Yogi seal - the other side; Andromeda Galaxy; Shri Maha Vishnu; a sacred Kalash with Swastika symbol drawn on it; Swastika seals from the Indus Valley Civilization; Red Swastika; Indus seal - Swastika symbol; Bison seal; Shri Ganesh with the swastika symbol on his palm; the peepal tree; peepal leaves; Shri Krishna and the peepal tree; Indus seal depicting Shri Krishna as the peepal tree; Ancient punch mark coin with image of Ashvatta tree - Eran-Vidisha coin, 1st Century BC; Shri Gautama Buddh seated under a peepal tree; the sacred peepal tree; the peepal tree - tree of roots above and branches below; Krishna departs under a peepal tree; Lord Dhanvantari; Samudra-manthan; the five elements ([maha]panchabhuta).   

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