Tuesday, 25 July 2017

ABUSIVE PAST…AND THE PRESENT? 

An amusing obsession of leftists is to scorn lifestyles and practices of the past for apparent abuse towards dependents such as women, children, the poor and the underprivileged. Meanwhile, an equally unproductive hobby of modern traditionalists is to condemn the present and exaggerate glories of yore. A critical analysis of ancient and current times is rarely undertaken by any of these groups before they defend or flatter a particular era.   

Naturally, every time-period has a good and bad side. A civilization that has only brought forth abuse or only prosperity, has never existed. However, fueled by sheer arrogance and influenced by Western Indologists, modernists, especially Indian modernists sneer at their own antiquity.

Shady propagandas are modern civilization’s sophisticated lies. A popular means of spreading such fabrications is to continuously slander history while boasting of contemporary inventions and progress. Undeniably there is progress, but with pricy unmentioned consequences and unwarranted vanity. Furthermore, it is vital for today’s honest and impartial people to offer justice to the gifts of bygone epochs and contradict elitists set out to ruthlessly discard the past.

Moreover, many fail to acknowledge the various vices of modern society that lead to broken families, air-water-soil pollution and even degradation of human consciousness. To illustrate, “refined” people proudly boast of today’s increased life expectancy, yet they strategically avoid topics of the simultaneously heightening occurrences of killing babies in the womb. China alone, has killed over 400 million children in the last 40 years – what to speak of the rest of the globe? 

Even mental diseases are more rampant today than ever before. An advanced country like the United States has more than 90 deaths daily, due to overdoses on painkillers! Are these people trying to escape physical or mental pain? Additionally, pertaining to health, cancer is quite the contribution of contemporary science. Chemically mutated food is the culprit behind excruciatingly painful deaths that also economically destroys families.    

These are just a few examples of a never-ending list. A lesson to learn is to keep the good of the past, fresh in our hearts for inspiration and to remember the ugly as sobering instructions.

Dharmik writings advise impartiality and to rise beyond defamation or praise, because every era has dual characteristics of positives and negatives. To illustrate, the Pandavas, despite Krpacharya’s fully supporting the Kurus during the war and directly involved in supporting Ashwathama’s slaughtering of their sleeping sons, appointed him as their adviser. The Pandavas’ governmental decisions may be attributed to simple kinship; Krpacharya was closely connected to their family since the generation of Shantanu, Bhisma’s father. However, an equally likely motive is that Krpacharya was a reservoir of knowledge from the past. He was a resource of helpful wisdom and sobering warnings.

Dharmik traditions are ready to offer a panoramic view of what works and what does not; are the arrogant elitists willing to observe?  

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

MISUSING VERSUS MAKING MISTAKES

Overconfidence is a drawback that inflicts many selfless leaders and managers. However, the ensuing mistakes are not intentional as with corrupt leaders that hold power and positions. Unethical leaders purposefully misuse people and honest leaders may hurt individuals accidentally. Though one designs pain and the latter wounds accidentally, the resultant consequence of a damaged community is the same. Therefore, dharma sastras have their purpose in guiding leaders to make progressive decisions. Theology and sadhana is learnt from a Guru, sitting at his lotus feet, yet life and management skills entail a different learning process; a process that is governed by the unchangeable and universal laws of nature. The jurisdiction of these laws does not spare anybody, just as a blazing fire does not discriminate when burning a sinner or saint, an Einstein or a fool.

Correspondingly, there is an interesting historical conversation between Ravana and his ministers that took place after Sri Rama had entered Lanka. In the assembly of his trusted ministers, Ravana actually spoke wonderful philosophy that he failed to implement in his own life. He stated, “Three classes of people exist in human society, first class, second class and third class. A first class person is one who deliberates any future undertakings with competent friends, like minded kin with similar lifestyles, and well-wishing seniors with superior experiences. He sincerely endeavours towards the needful and yet has unrelenting faith in daiva (God and purva samskaras). A second class individual is one who while alone contemplating on dharma, takes independent decisions and executes them himself. Lastly, a third class man is one who makes decisions based on momentary emotions, disregarding pros and cons of a given situation. Additionally, his tasks never reach completion.”

“Similarly, there are also three types of decision making processes. First, is where the decisions are made by those involved in a task, while keeping universal principals of sastras in the forefront. The second style of decision processing involves conflicts in the beginning, yet a consensus is eventually reached owing to duty and obligations. The third process is ridden with competition and clashes amongst those involved. It involves passionate speeches against each other’s opinions, hopelessness and a breakdown of the decision process itself; no concrete conclusions are ever reached.”

Ironically, Ravana, despite being well versed in these concepts, never consulted anyone before kidnapping Sita. Rather, he rejected precious advice from Marica. Even when waging war against Sri Ram, he only consulted those who were fearful of him and would not dare suggest anything against his own nonsensical opinions. Additionally, when Vibhishana, who was a close relative and courageous enough to confront Ravana, offered valuable guidance, he was fired by the demon! Ravana was like google, full of information, but never applying it himself. He was like a telephonic call with a bad network reception, where one person can hear just fine, but the other does not hear when the first speaks. Ravana’s network was cut in a way that he can only make himself heard, but not hear others. Therefore he lost the war and died being condemned by the citizens of Lanka and his very own wife Mandodari.

Finally, it does not matter if one is Ravana, Bhishma, Yudhisthira or the great Gandhi, if they fail to follow Ravana’s advice in regards to constructive decision making processes, failure is inevitable. Certainly, those that are not criminals like Ravana, are forgiven, but only after situations are corrected. For instance, Krishna eliminated Bhishma and educated Yudhisthira. Ultimately it is our choice to only hear or speak like Ravana did, or truly  implement what Ravana spoke in these critical conversations; we can choose to follow sastras or fall.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

RESPECT VERSUS SLAVERY

An absurd and groundless argument pertaining to the Ramayana and Mahabharata, is that they should not be taught because of the unhealthy paradigms the scriptures portray. Many incorrectly understand that the epics teach illogical submission to authority or brutal disrespect towards elders. In fact, some audaciously claim that keeping the Mahabharata in one’s residence gives rise to conflict and disharmony amongst family members – as if without it the household ambiance is like paradise!

However, in reality, the dharma tradition is very clear in its foundational thought process. Respect is for the position that the superiors have; the position of father, mother, teacher, king, president, etc. Yet, the principal of respect does not entail giving up our intrinsic logical and discovering nature, nor does it necessitate blind submission to irrational decisions.  While dharmik principals approve of debating a senior’s misguided decisions, they do not sanction questioning or displacing the position of an elder that may act unreasonably or make bad choices. Hence, dharma shastras empower one to respect superiors in all conditions, whether they are right or wrong; the same dharma shastras also entitles one to raise valid questions to apparent wrong moves of life. One is connected to culture and the latter to systems. Culturally, we offer reverence without thought and in systems we need to debate before acting.

Srimad Bhagavatam best illustrates this principal with the episode of Prahalada. He had a father who was extremely unreasonable and arrogant. His ideas were not only senseless, they were cruel – and he was powerful. Albeit rebelling against the ideology of his father, Prahalada never disrespected him. Hiryanaykashipu was unable to handle this concept, but Prahalada beautifully reconciled between respecting and not submitting to craziness. Consequently, Prahalada’s final victory benefited his father more than anyone else.

 Additionally, in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas not only argued with their grandfather Bhisma, they also loved and affectionately respected him. All the same, they had to shoot Bhisma with arrows due to the wrong he represented. What can be a greater conflict then that faced by the Pandavas – simultaneously respecting and shooting? They perfectly harmonized all discords by the grace of Sri Krishna. If they can achieve the impossible, we can surely achieve the difficult. Does it make sense?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

MANGO - TO RIPEN OR LET RIPEN

The euphoric excitement at the sight of a sumptuous, juicy, ripened mango - before season - is undeniable by any mango lover. At this, some may wonder what allows the eager mango lover to enjoy that deliciousness and the equally eager vendor to sell plump mangoes, before nature's timing to provide the world with this healthy, ripe fruit.

Poison!

Poisonous chemicals are used to create that look of red, orange and yellow goodness outside, and that smooth, soft, ripe pulp inside. Essentially, a gullible and eager customer pays extra for an artificially ripened, toxic, and unhealthy fruit.

A similar phenomenon encompasses many other aspects of life - from creating saints to soldiers, and everything in between.  For instance, one can easily expedite the cultivation of a saint, just like with a mango. However, ultimately this artificial acceleration is infallibly unhealthy for the “saint” and those interacting with him. Effectively, nature’s law is that everything has a perfect timing to ripen. Even though, there are some occurrences where nature’s timings may seem too long for some, it is still excellent timing. The art of pottery best illustrates this point. An authentic, skilled and patient potter will soak the soil in water, for pottery that will only be created by his kin three generations down! It is only after enough time to skip two generations has passed, that the soil is ready to create the most durable earthenware with unparalleled and impeccable finishing. How many are willing to have such patience?

Fundamentally, laws are laws. Good intentions alone cannot guarantee the success of an endeavour. Timing and rigor are of utmost importance to build something true to its purpose; impatient efforts toxically affect the system as does eating chemically ripened mangoes. Naturally, if earthenware requires so much time to be fully ready, then what to speak of human qualities, how can they appear so suddenly? How much more time must be required for their training and education?

Moreover, even the Mahabharata proclaims that if anyone wants to walk the path of perfection, he must consider its many components; vidya under an able Guru, self-study of sastra, sadhana, mercy of Ishwara and the time aspect. These factors naturally ripen the fragrant mango-like student, preparing him to offer real sweetness to society. The Pandavas embodied this value system as they took many years to be honorably qualified with skills and character.

Therefore, whether it is earthenware, soldier or saint, the rigor of training and cultivation in accordance to the time factor is of utmost importance to mature nutritiously as opposed to becoming noxious due to the chemicals of haste and greed.  Again, the best example is that of the Pandavas who were born naturally, respecting the element of time and the Kauravas who were born prematurely, forced and compelled by Gandhari. The Kauravas were many in number, yet half ripened and rotten within and without. Do we want to be naturally ripened or by delusional artificial methods?

The choice is ours and the consequences too. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

DURYODHANA AND HIS FANCY FOOD

Well aware that His last efforts to conciliate a peace treaty between the Kurus and Pandavas were bound to fail, Lord Krishna arrived to the prosperous city of Hastinapur. A breakdown of any appeasement ventures between the two fraternal dynasties was inescapable because of Duryodhana’s arrogant stubbornness and Sri Krishna’s candid admission of the Kuru’s evil intentions led by Duryodhana.

Upon the Lord’s arrival, the Kurus requested Him to stay at Dushysana’s palace. Yet, how can Sri Krishna stay in his palace? How can He grace the home of the very man who tried to disrobe Draupadi and thus inflicted horrific trauma and despair onto her? Sri Krishna, therefore, chose to stay with the gentle and Dharmik Vidura. Being so jilted, an irritated Duryodhana questioned Sri Krishna on His decision.

Sri Krishna aptly declared, “One who is an enemy to the Pandavas, is my enemy. I do not eat food where there is no love or unless I am hungry. Food served by foes is no less then poison.” Though cognizant of the truth in the Lord’s statement, Duryodhana was impervious. Blatant facts carried no worth for him compared to his personal convenience and ambitions to remain in power. His pretentious desire to host Sri Krishna and cater appetizing food was not to please Him, but to bribe His favour away from the Pandavas. This duplicitous plan inevitably failed, revealing Sri Krishna’s explicit “no-nonsense approach”.

Externally, it appears as though Duryodhana was graciously hosting a guest and Sri Krishna was unduly harsh in rejecting this cordiality. However, Sri Krishna’s actions can be likened to a coconut that has a hard shell from the outside, but is full of sweet, nutritious pulp within. Contrastingly, Duryodhana concealed his internal poison with an outer layer of duplicitous decorum; like a cool and mesmerizing poisonous cobra snake. Naturally, a partnership with such opposing elements could never exist.

Moreover, while Vidura only had simple food to offer, he had a large heart and a rational mindset. Sri Krishna was thusly dazzled and felt complete satisfaction in his stay with Vidura. A beautiful synergy endured between the guest and the host.

Similarly, as we choose between Duryodhana and Vidura, Sri Krishna accordingly responds with harshness towards evil and tenderness towards the simple and wise.

Monday, 27 March 2017

I AM NOT THIS BODY - BUT I HAVE IT

“We are not this body, but an eternal atma!” A statement that is repeatedly and heavily emphasized in spiritual discourses, affects an audience in a multitude of ways. It may trigger an intrinsic curiosity in some and confusion in others. It may even inspire some to immaturely feign a position on that platform while others may not even bother beyond a poetic, coffee table discussion.

Therefore, essential historic examples embedded in Dharmik scriptures, facilitate the present generations in reconciling between the knowledge of “we are not this body”, with the obvious practicality of, “we have this body at our disposal”.

Moreover, param Brahman appears in this world to demonstrate the synergy between apparent and transcendence. The purpose of His actions and teachings are binary; to effectively submit to the laws of the universe (Krida), and simultaneously to gradually rise above the body and material governance (Lila). Krida, is defined by rules and regulations and Lila, is full of loving spontaneity, devoid of any laws. The Lord does not reject the body nor ignore the position of the soul.

A great philosopher once said, “Between me and God, there is the body (i.e., physical body, country, race and civilization).  The needs of which when denied, costs payment with interest; this accumulated burden eventually perpetuates a deeper identification with the body.”

Requisite survival of the body is indispensable to serve the cause of transcendence. Similarly, the larger cultural bodily needs lie in a healthy country and race, which also needs to stand and endure. Certainly, the body, country, race and religion are not our end goals, but they are precious tools to achieve our objective. Thus, Sri Krishna declares in the Gita, “Whenever there is a decline in Dharma, I come to establish it again and again.”

Therefore, crucial work is to transcend the material realm, however, the urgent need of the moment is to secure the body, cultural civilization and a Dharmik country. Denial of the latter condition causes continuous confusion. Actually, the Mahabharata beautifully illustrates this principal of, “being in this world to go beyond this world.”

Hence, to strike a balance between knowing, “I am not this body”, and living in a way that the macro and micro body thrives to assist our freedom, unbound by time and place, is real Dharma.

Does that make sense?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

आपके कथन ही आपकी पहचान है

इस दुनिया में 2 श्रेणी के दुराचारी पाये जाते है- कमजोर एवं कपटी। दोनों में मुख्य अंतर यह हैं कि कमजोर व्यक्ति अधिकांशतः स्वयं को या अपने संबंधियों को हानि पहुंचाते है किन्तु कपटी लोग दूसरों को बर्बाद करने का प्रयास करते रहते है। कमजोर दुराचारी अपने किये बुरे कार्य एवं उसका परिणाम दोनों जानते है किन्तु वे अपनी लत से मजबूर होते है एवम गलत कार्यो में लिप्त रहते है। वे अपने बुरे कार्यों को स्वीकार भी करते है एवं किन्तु उसके औचित्य पर कोई तर्क नहीं देते।

किन्तु इसके विपरीत कपटी लोग व्यवस्थित रूप से समाज में व्यवधान उत्पन्न करने एवं दूसरों के विनाश की योजनाएं बनाते रहते है एवं उसका प्रचार प्रसार भी करते है। ये लोग सत्य और सद्कर्मों को  को बदनाम करने के लिए विभीन्न प्रकार से कुशलता पूर्वक विसंगत तर्क देते रहते है। और तो और ये लोग गोलमोल बातें कर, तथ्यों को तोड़मरोड़ कर दुश्चरित्रों और अधार्मिक व्यक्तित्वों का महिमामंडन भी करते रहते है।

यहाँ कुछ इसी तरह के वक्तव्य प्रस्तुत है जो इस तरह के कार्यों में लिप्त लोगों द्वारा प्रचारित किये गए है, जिसे तथाकथित विद्वान एवम अभिजात्य वर्ग भी समर्थन देता है:

- श्री राम द्वारा सीता का त्याग एक त्रुटिपूर्ण निर्णय था।
- महाभारत के भयानक युद्ध को भड़काने का श्रेय श्रीकृष्ण को जाता है। अगर उन्होंने गंभीरता पूर्वक पांच गांवों को पांडवों को देने की योजना को क्रियान्वित किया होता तो इस युद्ध से बचा जा सकता था।
- पांडवों ने धोखाबाजी से युद्ध जीता था।
- अर्जुन का चरित्र एक प्रतिष्ठा लोलुप व्यक्ति जैसा था, जिसने धोखेबाजी एवम गलत तरीके से कर्ण का वध किया था।
- कुन्ती ने स्वयं की प्रतिष्ठा को बचाने के लिए नवजात कर्ण का त्याग किया था।
- द्रौपदी द्वारा कर्ण से विवाह न करने एवम उसे सूतपुत्र संबोधित करना गलत था।
- द्रौपदी द्वारा पांडवों से विवाह करने पर उसे पछतावा था और यथार्थ में वह कर्ण से विवाह करने की इच्छा रखती थी।
- शिवाजी एक दिग्भ्रमित योद्धा थे जिन्हें उचित शिक्षा नहीं दी गयी थी।
- राणा वंश द्वारा राजपूतों का शोषण किया गया था इसलिए उन्होंने राणा के विरुद्ध अकबर के साथ संधि की थी।
- विजय नगर साम्राज्य के पतन का कारण उनका अभिमान  और आपसी फूट थी जिसकी वजह से एकजुट मुस्लिम शासकों ने उनका विनाश कर दिया।
- अंग्रेजों को सहायता भारतीय राजाओं से ही मिली, उन्हें भारत की बर्बादी के लिए पूरी तरह जिम्मेदार ठहराना उचित नहीं है।

इसके अतिरिक्त दुष्ट व्यक्तित्व अक्सर उन लोगों की सराहना करते हैं जिन्होंने जीवन में केवल तिरस्कार अर्जित किया है:
-दुर्योधन के परिवेश ने उसे गलत कार्य करने के लिए मजबूर किया; वह केवल अपने परिवेश का  शिकार था।
-द्रौपदी ने अभद्र एवम अपशब्दों द्वारा कर्ण को अपमानित कर विवाह करने से इंकार किया और यह बुरा वर्ताव ही उसके वस्त्र हरण का कारण बना।
-दुःशाशन अपने भाई के पति पूर्णतः निष्ठावान था और उसने केवल अपने भाई के आदेशों का पालन किया, जिसे समाज ने गलत ठहराया।
-रावण ने कभी किसी स्त्री का बलात्कार नहीं किया, उसका सबसे बड़ा प्रमाण उसके द्वारा सीता की पवित्रता को खंडित न किया जाना है।
-अंग्रेजों ने मुख्यतः भारत का विकास ही किया। उन्होंने भारत को रेलमार्ग, उच्च शिक्षा अंग्रेजी भाषा और आधुनिक  सभ्यता प्रदान की।
-अरबी, पारसी और मुगलों  ने भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप में विविधता तथा संस्कृति का योगदान दिया। हाँ! उन्होंने अवश्य कुछ मंदिरों को तोड़ा किन्तु वह धार्मिक अशिहिष्णुता की वजह से नहीं था और इसका प्रमाण यह है कि आज भी अनेक प्राचीन मंदिर भारत में है। अगर उन्हें तोडना होता तो वे प्रत्येक मंदिर को अपने शासनकाल में ही शक्ति का उपयोग कर तोड़ चुके होते।

और इसी तरह अनेकों तर्क दिए जाते है। किन्तु इस तरह के वक्तव्य किसी भी प्रकार से तथ्यों की यथार्थता को प्रकट नहीं करते अपितु लोगों के भ्रष्ट दृष्टिकोण की सत्यता को उजागर करते है। यहाँ तक की स्वयं महाभारत में भी शिशुपाल द्वारा ऐसी दूषित मनोदशा का उदाहरण मिलता है। युधिस्ठिर महाराज द्वारा श्री कृष्ण को अग्र पूजा का सम्मान दिया जाना उसे रास नहीं आया इसलिए उसने भरी शभा में श्रीकृष्ण को अपमानित करने के लिए उनपर अनेकों अपशब्दों का प्रहार किया। स्वयं भीष्म ने श्रीकृष्ण के अनेकों दिव्य कार्यो के बारे में बतलाकर शिशुपाल को श्रीकृष्ण के महान व्यक्तित्व के बारे में समझाया किन्तु उसने इसे अस्वीकार ही नहीं किया, अपितु उन सारे कार्यों को पूर्णतः भ्रष्ट परिप्रेक्ष्य से सबके सामने प्रश्तुत भी किया। उसकी भ्रांत धारणा के अनुसार कृष्ण द्वारा रुक्मणी का अपहरण का कारण रुक्मणी का शिशुपाल को नापसंद किया जाना तथा कृष्ण को प्रेम करना नहीं था, अपितु यह केवल कृष्ण की धूर्तता  थी। उसी तरह श्री कृष्ण ने किसी पर्वत को नहीं उठाया था अपितु वह मिटटी का एक छोटा सा टीला था। और तो और कृष्ण ने कंश का वध छल से किया यद्यपि वह कंश ही था जिसने कृष्ण को मारने के लिए उस  स्पर्धा का आयोजन किया था। और यह सर्वविदित है कि जब शिशुपाल ने अपनी सीमा पार कर दी तब उसे उसका फल प्राप्त हो गया।

शिशुपाल की यह विरासत आज भी फल फूल रही है। लोग ऐसा क्यों करते है? क्या वे अनजान है? या दंभी है? निश्चित ही इसके अनेक उत्तर मिल सकते है किन्तु आधारभूत रूप से देखा जाय तो इन लोगों में शिशुपाल की मानसिकता ही पायी जाती है जो बार बार सत्य को झुठलाती, अपमानित करती एवम बुराई को बढ़ावा देती है।