Saturday, December 23, 2017
Jesus Christ has been the leading light for all Christians for over 2000 years now. In India, we, the Hindus predominantly, look up to Jesus Christ also as the prophet and son of God, as much as Lord Krishna was.
Lord Krishna said in the Gita, I will take birth from time to time, to uplift righteousness and remove wickedness from the world.
I therefore firmly believe that, he was himself born as JESUS CHRIST, in West Asia some 2000 years ago, for this purpose, as stated by himself in the Bhagavad Gita.
The teachings of Lord Krishna and Jesus Christ are much the same. Both have descended from the Heaven to uplift Humanity through Good Conduct and righteous ways.
I have placed below a few choicest quotes of Jesus Christ.His words are simply Great and must be followed by all Humanity for all time to come.
I greet all people of the world on the occasion of the Christmas (25th of this month) and pray that the choicest blessings of the God and of Jesus Christ be showered on all of you.
Now, the Greatest quotes of Jesus Christ :
1. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
2. Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.
3. Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.
4. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
5. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?
6. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
7. So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
8. If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
9. I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
10. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
11. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.
12. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
13. Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
14. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
15. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
16. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbor as yourself.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES
In the earlier part, we have seen, how, UNTOUCHABILITY existed or did not exist in ancient India. In this part, we will examine some Historical perspectives on how India traversed through various events of History.
We must remember that ancient India basically consisted of small villages, with small towns being the centres from which Kings ruled over small kingdoms. Most of the sages and saints resided in deep forests away from the Human habitations, performing their meditations, penances and Yajnas. Each village and each town lived in self sufficiency, depending very little on outside support.
When Dwapar Yug was in closing stages, the kingdoms were slightly bigger and yet, largely, village economy prevailed. Self sufficiency was the key for each human habitation.
Some sort of local Industry existed - (i) to build King’s palaces, (ii) to make army’s requirement of arms etc, (iii) to carve gold, silver and diamond Jewellery (iv) to build homes, furniture, pots, vessels etc for commoners also and (v) to weave clothes and (vi) for many other socially needed purposes.
Bath rooms were too very simple and letrines almost non-existent – except for the very rich and the kings. Most People used to go out into the open, to relieve themselves, till the 20th century in India. Even today, this open relieving method prevails in many villages and small towns and is slowly changing in both rural and urban India. We all know that.
Whatever Industry existed in the olden days, existed as village/cottage industry, with excellence of work as the key element. Devotion to Svadharma was widely prevalent. Almost Nobody took their own work as any inferior to that of others, but, Sages and Munis who lived away from human habitations were respected by all for various good reasons.
Almost no schools existed. One had to go to the Ashrams of Sages in deep forests, to learn whatever they taught. Even Rama and Lakshmana learnt their skills and education that way only, at the Ashram of Vasishta in deep forests and later from Sage Viswamitra in deep forests. In Dwapar Yug also, Bhishma went to Parasurama’s Ashram to learn. Lord Krishna went to Sandipani’s Ashram to learn his skills and Sastras. This was the system even for Kings. So commoners had very little access to these skills.
Some famous Universities got established like Taxila, Nalanda, Kasi etc through the initiatives of some kings much, much later, possibly, some 2000-2500 years after start of Kaliyuga. Yet, formal schools were very rare and almost absent in India. Admission to these Universities was akin to that of a school and many Sastras were taught there from beginning to end. For many courses, No school education was expected as pre-requisite to aspirants. Where a student had already undergone coaching under a Sage in an Ashram, depending on his attainments under his Guru, he was taught from his already attained level. There might be some differences here and there but since India consisted of hundreds of small, independent kingdoms, Education was unorganized most of the time and conducted by willing and intending Sages in their Ashrams in deep forests, to desirous and enthusiastic aspirants.
The concept of formal schools and colleges with certificate courses and degrees etc, with well defined syllabus suitable to make people fit for clerical posts generally is a British invention and introduction for India, to suit their governance needs. Even with these formal schools and colleges, people went to England for higher education like Law, medicine etc, until the declaration of Independence. These were not available in British India.
Writing instruments and writing were absent for a long time, long time in the society. Then came, dry palmyra leaves, clothes etc as writing instruments, which continued upto 19th century almost. Valmiki wrote Ramayana in Threthaa yug, almost definitely on Dry palmyra leaves. But, Pandavas and Kauravas of Dwapar Yug knew nothing about Ramayana characters until Arjuna and Bhima met Hanuman in deep forests.
Knowledge of Ramayana was almost absent in Dwapar Yug – except perhaps among a very few Sages who existed in both Yugas. What was not available to Kings was definitely not available to commoners of any caste. Ramayana in Book form was not therefore available to general people until the establishment of Publishing houses in 19th- 20th century. Thus, knowledge of Sastras and their spread was very difficult till some publishing houses were established in 19th century. Till then, perhaps, even the Universities at Nalanda, Kasi and Taxila must have taught with reference to writings on Palmyra leaves, orally mostly, as copying whole books was very difficult for each student’s use.
Proliferation of formal schools and colleges in India became a reality only after Independence in 1947. It was gradual even then. Many zamindars, wealthy persons and kings donated lands, constructed schools and ran them too, for a long time, with the permission and recognition of Government, after Independence. Gradually, government established schools in most Taluq Head quarters and colleges in most district head quarters and so on.
Subsequently, now, education has again gone into the realm of private initiative. From play schools for 2 years olds to Universities and specialized institutions, all educational institutions are being established by private individuals and corporates. Quantity has improved tremendously and quality is improving slowly. Today’s progress in Education is certainly incomparable to what existed in 1947. What existed in 1947 also was incomparable to what existed (or did not exist) before the British came.
There is a significant difference between the formal British type of Education system which is followed in British India and Independent India and the Education system available in the Ashrams of Sages prior to that. Almost nothing of what was taught in the Ashrams and Gurukuls and even the famed Universities of Nalanda, Taxila and kasi is now taught in the British Education system. Thus, a huge disconnect has come between the pre-British education and post-British Education. Neither Vedas, Nor Sastras, nor even simpler things like Bhagavad Gita are taught in current Education system. Therefore, what they actually teach has become completely unknown to Independent India.
But, too many misconceptions are being created in today’s society by comparing today’s widespread British type of education system with the most ancient days. Such comparisons are meaningless and fallacious. No formal education system existed at all in the ancient days. Very few people had even the slightest inkling to learn Vedas and Sastras, even in those days, even amongst Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Very few had the time and willingness to go and approach the Sages in forests to learn any of these things.
They are of course very difficult, dry and take a life time to learn even to some extent. Their economic use in Independent India is close to zero. Of course, they are useful to those, who seek Moksha or liberation and to those who are interested in some of the Sastras. Huge knowledge definitely exists in them if they are taught as sciences and Arts. But, reverting back to them now – seems almost impossible – except for the Vedic schools and colleges which exist at some places. It is in fact a miracle that, even now, the Vedas , Sastras and the Bhagavad Gita exist and is taught to some people.
In Indian culture, each caste specialized in a particular trade and excelled in it by default. That worked well for those economies. All those skills were useful economically in the society and hence, the society remained interdependent and mutually self sufficient. In fact, using terms like economy for the living conditions of those days is meaningless.
Over 5000 years have passed after Lord Krishna and other Mahabharat characters expired. We are constructing Indian history from books, stories, stone carvings, excavations, writings of foreign tourists and so on. These are by no means complete or accurate. Historians tend to fill all missing gaps, which are too many and too huge, with their own surmises and constructions. Western Historians and west oriented Indian Historians tend to dismiss great historical texts like Ramayana and Mahabharat which describe historical anecdotes in great details. Likewise, they discredit the writings of poets who wrote the histories of their kings and kings who were their contemporaries. This was always a wrong approach. What humans can described, stone inscriptions can never describe, though their use is not dismissed. With so many imperfections in the writing of Indian History, what emerges out of all these is still a great Indian History.
I, for one, strongly feel that Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were great historical characters of their times. If Ramayana and Mahabharat exist till today, their writers, Valmiki and Vyasa did exist and if Valmiki and Vyasa existed, Rama and Krishna also existed. And, so did all the grand characters of the two great Epics. If Bhagavad Gita exists till today, Lord Krishna and Arjuna existed without an iota of doubt.
Much, much later, say 3000 years later than Lord Krishna’s times, came the Nandas, Mouryas etc in Bihar and much later, Shivaji in Maharashtra and many other kings in north and south who were not Brahmins or Kshatriyas but were Vaisyas and Sudras who were well accepted by the people of the so called Orthodox India. Chandra Gupa Mourya was supported eminently by Kautilya and many other Brahmins and Kshatriyas of his times. Chatrapati Sivaji also became a King in his own right, though not a Kshatriya. They were and are our rightful heroes to this day. There were many such non-kshatriya and non-brahmin kings all over India in all the known history, but they were accepted and well supported by the Brahmins and Kshatriyas.
Many tribal kingdoms existed always in India, which had no connection what so ever with any other Hindu kingdoms. There were many eminent persons in the Hindu way of life who rose from different castes to great eminence. There were great writers, artists, and greatly skilled craftsmen of all classes in ancient India. India was home to the greatest forts, temples, purest Iron pillars, huge ships, extraordinary weapons, chariots and so on. These are well known historical facts and amply proved by solid evidences. It is almost definite that each caste enjoyed its pride of place in the whole society.
Now, despite all these facts, some element of caste based untouchability might have existed at all times. But, cruelty on the basis of caste was practically unknown in ancient, Hindu India. Hindu caste structure never ever permitted any cruelty towards any human being, whether a Hindu or even some one expelled from hindu society for some unacceptable and criminal acts.
The latter presumably became outcastes and untouchables. They lived their own lives. They were free to go anywhere else and live. There was no society anywhere in the world which was at least to this extent humane in treating even people expelled from their society. Cruelty in all other societies in the world was too much towards expelled people. Untouchability existed in India to some extent, but very little of cruelty.
Let us go back to Ramayana Days and see what Lord Rama did, to bring justice to even an aggrieved Dog. One day, an injured dog was waiting outside Lord Rama’s Court. After Rama finished listening to all aggrieved people and giving his ruling, he asked Lakshmana to find out if any one aggrieved is still waiting outside the court. Lakshmana went outside and found this injured Dog. He asked the Dog, why are you waiting here? The Dog told its grievance which it wanted to tell Lord Rama. Lakshmana duly escorted the aggrieved and injured Dog to Rama’s presence.
Rama asked the Dog to narrate its Grievance. It said, for no fault of it, a beggar by name Sarvartha Siddhi hit it on its head with a stick and injured it. Rama asked his guards to bring Sarvartha Siddhi to his presence. Sarvartha Siddhi admitted to his fault and said, since the Dog was standing before him, when he was in acute hunger, he became angry and frustrated and hit the Dog on its head. Rama now asked his minister what punishment is justified to the Brahmin Beggar. His Ministers were perplexed at the dispute between a hungry Brahmin beggar and the Dog.
Finally, it was decided to ask the Dog, what the dog itself thought was a just punishment for this Beggar. The Dog said – make him the Head priest of the big temple outside Ayodhya. Rama accepted and made the Beggar, the head Priest of the Big Temple outside Ayodhya. An Elephant was brought and the beggar rode on the Elephant to join his new post in pomp and ceremony. The Ministers could not understand how this could be a just punishment. Ram smiled and asked the Dog itself to justify the punishment.
The Dog said – I was also a head priest of a temple in my previous birth. I was intoxicated with the respect and Power I possessed in the temple and here I am now suffering ignominy as a Dog, being beaten by even beggars on the street, for no fault of mine.
This story was narrated by Valmiki, precisely to show how and why one should not be intoxicated with such respect and power which comes in such posts. It also shows us some more facts. Many Brahmins from the very beginning of the caste system, lived in poverty and beggary, instead of hankering after power, position or wealth.
Even Lord Vishnu, when he was to seek alms from the Rakshasa King Bali Chakravarthy, went as a Brahmin Beggar. Likewise, Lord Indra, when he was to seek alms from the Anga King Karna, in Mahabharat, went in the disguise of a Brahmin Beggar. The caste system may have made the Brahmin the no.1 caste, but ordained him to live life in Poverty and seek wisdom.
The kshatriyas put their life at stake for the society, therefore they enjoyed the power of the state. The vaisyas could amass wealth in trade, but could not share regal power. The sudras could do any work and excel in it and acquire wealth thereby, but were not exposed to the rigours of life of either the Brahmin or of the Kshatriya. The whole system was devised in such a way that the balance of power was always maintained against any misuse.
Yes. Outcastes were treated as untouchables by the four castes. Brahmins generally maintained some exclusivity from all castes from the beginning to the present days, because of the 24 hour duties prescribed for them. These are not understood or understandable for other castes that easily.
Living as Brahmin is the toughest. Given a choice, no earthly minded person will prefer to be a Brahmin. Next toughest is that of Kshatriya. Next, Vaisya and least tough job is of Sudra. This factual position in Hindu caste system is least understood even within Hindu fold. Brahmin had to live as a Beggar at least for a few years of his life, to kill the ego in him and to understand the life of all society. He had to go round the whole of India for this purpose. Compassion for all was supposed to be his way of life. Kshatriya had all power, ego, wealth etc, but had the duty to risk his life to protect all his citizens. When anybody seeks his protection against anybody else, a Kshatriya cannot say, No. So, overall, it was a balanced society.
But, any society becomes degenerated over a period of time and at least some people of each section start misusing their supposed power, ignoring their responsibility. This happened in Hindu society also. The society was bound together by the customs, rituals, traditions etc in which all sections participated. Preparing and dragging Chariots of Gods were always a festive occasion in every place, in every temple, as an event in which all sections of people participated and still participate in many places.
General Education was through Harikatha sravanam in all villages on important festival occasions. Elders in every family and in society were respected by all and nobody was allowed to harm them. Taking care of elders was a sacred duty of all children in all castes. Women were respected as mothers by all. Children were cared for very well. Truth, non violence and non humiliation of others were the paramount values in the society. Compassion and charity were the order of the day at all times in the society.
All said, no society anywhere in the world, at any time in the world, was ever one hundred percent perfect. Perfection is not given to any human system, man-made or even God-made. Change is always possible, change is always necessary and change is always happening. If we don’t do it consciously, nature does it any way in its own way. If we do it consciously, we can bring change painlessly and for the better. If we don’t do it consciously, we will do it waywardly, painfully and always for the worse.
Crimes and aberrations always take place because of human desire for things which are not one’s own but belong to somebody else. Ravana sought to possess Rama’s Wife. Duryodhana sought to possess Pandava’s Kingdom and humiliate their wife. These were causes of great wars and the killing of so many people on both sides. If such crimes happened at Kings’ levels, they must have been happening at lower levels too.
Crimes and aberrations also take place because of “our people vs other people” attitude. My people, my name, my caste, my religion, my language, my town, my country and my EVERYTHING is what I like and love more than all that belongs to other people. We like our language. We call other languages as inferior – even without knowing anything about them. We like our religion and within our religion, our caste. We like other castes much less, and other religions much, much less. UNTOUCHABILITY also arises from this weakness of people.
Some religions believe that they must necessarily CONVERT people of all other religions into their religion. But, after conversion, what? No God of any religion – be it, Krishna, Jesus or Allah is known to have prevented anybody of his religion from illness, old age or death. Many top leaders of all religions are known to have died of big illnesses. So, where is a definite Saviour? Yet people claim, my God, my prophet is the saviour and you convert into mine, to be saved. Crimes also happen in every religion. Some religious heads even sanctify horrific crimes happening in their religion.
In Hinduism, God’s most illustrious Avatars, namely, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, never practiced UNTOUCHABILITY of any type based on anybody’s birth. They set great examples by their personal conduct. Most people adored them but failed to follow their example. Later social reformers like Adi Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya also condemned UNTOUCHABILITY in very clear and forthright manner.
Here, I do wish to assert one fact. In Ramayana, the story of Sambuka is there, which in my opinion, would not have been there in the original. Valmiki wrote a Ramayana in which justice was beyond the caste system. Rama’s friends were like Guha, a fisher man cum boat peddler, whom Rama accepted like his own Brother Bharata. The story of Sabari is another classical example of Rama’s compassion towards all. All the rest of Rama’s best friends were Monkeys, Bears and Rakshasas. These were assertions by Valmiki himself.
One who narrated the incidents of Guha and Sabari would not have told the story of Sambuka in the way it is told in present Ramayana. This story does not at all fit with the rest of Ramayana and clearly does not belong there. It was an injustice to Sambuka, to Rama and to Valmiki to put in this story in Ramayana. It is definitely a story inserted by some ugly minded person later and not Valmiki. It has no plausible connection with the main story of Ramayana. This story deserves to be weeded out of Ramayana in all future prints at least. This is my humble but firm opinion, which I held right from my childhood.
In any case, for bringing unity of all Hindus of today, there is no harm in weeding out this story from Ramayana. I am sure, Valmiki did not write this story in his original Ramayana and he will be pleased if it is taken out of Ramayana.
A lot of water flowed down the Ganga thereafter. Kaliyuga came. Many Hindu kings ruled and vanished. The Kshatriya class in India, as a whole, got weakened very much, probably due to too many internecine wars and battles. Many small kingdoms appeared in all parts of India and there was no unity and amity among them. They fought with each other and destroyed each others’ kingdoms often. But, in all these wars, elders, women and children were almost never harmed. Respect for them was a uniform cultural trait across all Hindu kingdoms in India. Kings and armies fought and the victor annexed the other’s kingdom or made him his puppet.
That said, most wars were fought openly and with some accepted principle of justice. So, to a large extent, the ancient culture of India prevailed even during the wars. But, that became the biggest weakness of Indian Kings when the Islamic Invasions happened.
When the Islamic invaders came, they came with an entirely different culture. Their organized religion was opposed to Hindu way of worship, its temples, its Idols, its culture, its principles of war etc. They believed themselves to be superior as a class, to all the Hindus, whom they considered as inferior, because of inferior religion, inferior language, Idol worship and so on. They came with small armies, defeated bigger armies of local kings, plundered the whole society, took Hindu women as slaves and concubines and Hindu men of all castes as workers and slaves. Forcible conversions into Islam became the order of the day for those captured.
They destroyed many ancient Hindu temples and Hindu religious scriptures. It was a mayhem for which the Hindu kings were utterly unprepared. These were historical facts recorded by the Invading kings and their followers themselves – and they always felt that these were the right thing to do for them. This belief that their religion was superior and indigenous religions were inferior continued all the time. Many Hindu married women committed suicide instead of falling into their hands. Kings fought valiantly and won many times. But small mistakes even after winning the wars sometimes led to their capture and death. Some Islamic Invaders like Chenghiz Khan and Taimur, were extremely cruel and barbaric, and their cruelty was comparable to or even more than the later dictators of the west, like Hitler.
For the first time in Indian History, religious conversions, mostly forced and under the power of the sword, happened on large scale. It took quite some time for Indian Kings to rise again in various parts of India, like Shivaji in Maharashtra and Krishna Deva Raya in Vijayanagar to challenge the supremacy of the Islamic kings. Yet lack of Unity among Indian Kings was always a factor which acted against them. After Shivaji, the Maratha empire slowly crumbled. Likewise, after Krishna deva raya, the Vijayanagar empire also slowly crumbled.
It took a long time for India to find some benevolent Mughal kings like Akbar who were more interested in a just religious order than what they found in the prevailing religions. The Islamic supremacy and forced conversions in India stopped to a great extent, only when the European, Christian Invaders came later from Europe.
When the European Invaders came, they came with superior weapons, superior armies and superior commanders than the Islamic and the Indian kings. They easily subjugated the Islamic and Indian Kings both and took over the Political, military and trade power from most of them. For facility of governance, they allowed the Indian Kings to rule as their subjugates for a while. Later, they made them their OFFICIALS.
They indulged much less, in forced religious conversion. They did not take women as slaves or raped them. They did not ill treat elders and children too unnecessarily. They were more interested in the economic exploitation of India. They did not destroy India’s temples or mosques. They did not trample much on the commoners except for economic exploitation.
Yes. They also considered their religion, CHRISTIANITY, as superior to both Hinduism and Islam and built grand Churches as symbols of their belief systems. They also built schools, telegraph systems and roads, for facilitating their governance. Teaching English to a few Indians became a necessity for them to govern India. While the economic plundering was going on, India was also getting unified under the British rule. North, South, East and West Indias all came under British rule. Organized Education systems in the shape of schools and colleges started coming slowly across India.
Muslims considered their religion superior to Hinduism. Christians considered their religion as superior to both Islam and Hinduism. Till this day, this is the way religious beliefs are holding sway on their followers.
Hindusim had its glaring weaknesses. It always stood divided into various castes which are not unified by any church or Mosque like system, which prevails in Islam and Christianity. Lack of Unity was always the single most glaring weakness in Hinduism till this day. While Islam and Christianity considered Hinduism as a whole as inferior to them, within Hinduism, all castes started assuming superiority – inferiority complexes in relation to each other. Castes considered as MOST INFERIOR were considered as untouchables.
All teachings of Adi sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya went waste on most sections of people in this respect. We will examine the UNTOUCHABILITY and other superiority-inferiority complexes in greater detail in next essay.
* * * TO BE CONTINUED * * *
Sunday, December 3, 2017
UNTOUCHABILITY is a mindset in which one Human being considers himself SUPERIOR to another by birth and some other as INFERIOR to him by birth. When the MINDSET of untouchability exists in the minds of large sections of people, it results in abominable, inhuman social practices in which some sections of people suffer humiliation, lack of social opportunities of many kinds and social inequality from birth to death.
These may arise due to religion, region, race, sex, nation, colour and any other such birth related traits of the individuals who group themselves and consider themselves as either superior or inferior as a group, in comparison to certain others.
Untouchability is certainly prevalent in many countries and perhaps, in all countries, in some form or other, even now. Skin colour has always been a great source of Untouchability Practice in almost all countries.
How did a small company like East India Company of Britain conquer and rule over India? Modern weapons like Guns was of course a factor. A belief of innate superiority in themselves based on whiter skin colour, over the darker skinned Indians, both Hindus and Muslims, was a great motivator in the British conquering the Hindu and Muslim kings with much less number of British Soldiers. The Hindus and Muslims did feel inferior because of the darker skin colour , however much we may protest that it wasn’t a factor.
Later, after the initial British conquests, it was largely the Indian soldiers themselves, who were led by the British and conquered other Indian Soldiers under Indian Kings (both Hindu and Muslim) and enabled the British to rule over India. There is no doubt that the skin colour differentiation and the superiority-Inferiority complexes built on it, did help the British a lot, to rule over India with great ease for Centuries with very little revolt.
How did the Islamic Invaders earlier conquered the Indian Kings? Religious faith was a great uniter and morale booster for the Islamic Invaders where as religion in India, at that time, was not that great a binding force for Indian soldiers and kings even when they were otherwise superior to the Invading forces.
The same story and the same causes account for unity and disunity in all parts of the world even today. In India, religion was always largely an INDIVIDUALISTIC and not a group activity. Even visiting temples was usually an Individualistic activity. There was no group activity inside the temple. This was and still is in distinct contrast to the invading religions like Christianity and Islam. For these invading religions, religion was and is largely a group activity inside the Church or the Mosque. Ganesh Puja and Durga Puja are recent inventions to create some group religious activity in Hinduism also, akin to other religions.
Group religious Activity necessarily involves all sections of people in a cooperative spirit and reduces physical and mental distances like UNTOUCHABILITY to some extent. It has its Flip side, though. Let us admit that, group religious activity is more a social activity and reduces distance between man and man but it increases distance between man and God. Right now, my concern is the distance between man and man. Once that comes down, God will perhaps come down to reside within us automatically.
UNTOUCHABILITY definitely was not prevalent to the present extent in India, in the days of Lord Krishna, in the Dwapar Yuga. Lord Krishna, though born as Kshatriya, chose to be brought up in a Yadava family, which was a clear symbolic Gesture to the whole society that - Yadavas were in no way inferior to Kshatriyas. It was symbolic but the symbolism was largely not understood but was wasted on most Hindus.
The lesson taught by Lord Krishna was that - not only Yadavas but also all others were in no way inferior to the 3 castes of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas. Choosing to be brought up in a Yadava family and living among Cowherds was symbolic of that. Obviously Lord Krishna could not be born in all castes to prove the point in total. This lesson was largely lost on all Hindus. Consequently, the Yadavas started thinking that they were the specially chosen ones by the Lord for his favours. This was definitely not the message of Lord Krishna to the world.
Lord Krishna, though invited by Kshatriyas and Brahmins at Hastinapur to dine with them, chose to dine with Vidura and Sanjaya who were considered as Sudras. So, what was his message here? His compassion and benevolence existed and extended equally for Kubja, a Sudra woman with serious physical deformities and for a very poor Brahmin like Sudama.
Caste differences were not a factor at all in the showering of the Lord’s compassion, love and friendship. Should we not understand the Lord’s clear message disseminated throughout his life like this and emulate his path, his message and his life style? Lord Krishna’s wives also included Kshatriyas, Yadavas, the daughter of Janbavan, a Bear king and so on.
We have discussed in a previous Chapter, the significant role of Satyavati, a fisherwoman, first, in giving birth to a Great sage like Veda Vyasa, through Sage Parasara and later, in originating the Kuru Dynasty through her offspring born of Santana, a Kshatriya King.
To emphasize again, Sathyavati, a Sudra woman was first married by Parasara, a Brahmin Sage and later, by Santana, a Kshatriya King. Parasara, her first husband, and Vyasa, her first son knew her whole life history and yet respected her, throughout their life. It was her first son, Vyasa, who recorded all her History as factually as we see it today. So, where was Untouchability in those days?
Bhishma, the first son of Santana through Ganga also knew Vyasa as Satyavati’s first son. What we need to understand from all these incidents narrated by none other than Vyasa himself is – that Guna and Karma were considered far more important in determining Caste than mere birth – by wise men of those days.
Karna, was a born kshatriya but was known to people only as Sudra, brought up by a Sootha named Athiratha and his wife, Radha. Though known to be a Sudra, Karna was made the king of Anga Desa by Duryodhana and nobody really opposed his decision. Karna, though well known as the son of Radha and Athiratha, remained as the well accepted King of Anga Kingdom till his death.
Ekalavya may not have been taught archery by Drona, but he and his people lived as a separate tribal kingdom, not really subservient to anybody.
Even in thretha yuga, Lord Rama considered Guha, the driver of a boat, as equal to Bharata, his own brother. Rama’s most important friends were Monkeys and Bears, not even humans. In the whole of Ramayana war, there were only two humans, Rama and Lakshmana. All others were not even humans.
In the Mahabharat war also, not just Kshatriyas, but all others like Brahmins, Yadavas etc participated.
Now, the best anecdote of Mahabharat really comes at the end of it. Sage Markandeya one day comes to Yudhishtira and narrates this anecdote to him.
There was a Brahmin Sage, Kausika, who left his Parents, went into deep forests and started doing Tapasya (Penance and Meditation) under a tree. He did the tapasya for several years there. One day, after his daily tapasya, he came out of his meditational practices and opened his eyes. Just then, a crane sitting on the top of the tree dropped its poop on him unknowingly. Sage Kausika got very angry when the poop fell on his head from above and looked up at the Crane with angry eyes. The crane instantly burned to its death, by the sheer power of his angry eyes.
Kausiaka was surprised at the powers he had acquired through his penance. The proud Kausika took bath and went into the nearby village for begging for food. Sages had to beg for food those days, as a customary practice for them. They could go maximum up to 3 houses and whichever house gives, they should be satisfied with the food from that one house. So, Kausika went to one house and said – “Bhavati Biksham dehi.” The lady of the house asked him to wait and went into the house for bringing him food. She collected the food and was bringing the same, when her husband entered the house from outside.
The lady put the food aside, received her husband , took him inside, served him food and after doing all the chores for him, she again came out with the food collected for Sage Kausika. Kausika had to wait till that time and there was no way out for him. He was therefore very angry with this delay. He felt insulted by the lady who, after promising to give him food, went inside the house for serving her husband, ignoring a great, waiting sage like him. He looked at her with angry eyes. The lady also looked at him and said smilingly – “I am not a crane to be burnt by your looks.” Kausika was surprised at these words. How did the lady know what happened in the distant forest, an hour before? He was certain that she somehow had much greater divine powers than him. So, he asked her the source of her powers.
The lady told him – “ I don’t do any Yoga or Tapasya like you. My work is my Tapasya. As a housewife, I take care of my husband, my parents-in-law, my children and my house to the best of my ability – with all focus that my work needs. That becomes my Tapasya and the source of all my powers.”
Sage Kausika now wants her to explain to him how her work can become her tapasya and the source of all her powers. She tells him – “I do not have time to tell you all this in detail. I suggest, you go to that village in Mithila where Dhrmavyadha is living. Enquire about him and go to him. He can explain to you about all this in detail.”
Sage Kausika goes and finds Dharmavyadha outside a village, near Mithila. Kausika was extremely surprised and dumbfounded to find that Dharmavyadha was not a sage at all but a butcher and seller of meat. How could a Butcher and seller of meat be an expert in Dharma and Tapasya? But, when he meets Dharmavyadha, Dharmavyadha gets up and invites him saying – “Oh, you have come to learn about Dharma and you are sent by the lady in that village. Please come. We will go to my home where we will talk about it.”
They both go to the butcher’s house. The butcher also first serves his parents, washes himself well and comes and sits with Kausika. Sage Kausika is already dumbfounded to find that Dharmavyadha knows that the lady has sent him. He asks the latter, how he knows all this. Dharmavyadha replies – “I know about the dead crane also and about what the lady in that village told you.”
Dharmavyadha then goes on explaining to him about Svadharma. “Whatever work you have to do, do it with all of your heart and soul. That is your Svadharma and that is your Tapasya. Society needs the work of a butcher and a housewife as much as or even much more than that of a sage and a yogi. Everybody’s work becomes his or her own tapasya, when you put your heart and soul into it and do it. Svadharma can easily achieve all that a yogi can achieve. But, that is not the point. You will enjoy your work and your life immensely and so will the society around you. God happily resides in the one who does his Svadharma with total devotion. That is his Bhakti yoga, his karma yoga, his dhyana yoga and his Jnana yoga – all in one. He doesn’t need to do anything else.”
Sage Kausika now understood the essence of his teaching well and went back to serve his old parents.
But, have we understood the teaching of Dharmavyadha?
What Dharmavyadha taught Sage Kausika is called Vyaadha geeta and emanates from the same Mahabharat from which Bhagavad Geeta of Lord Krishna emanates. Lord Krishna teaches much the same in Bhagavad Geeta. Lord Krishna also teaches much the same to Uddhava, a Bhakta, before his own demise. That teaching is called Uddhava Geeta.
Unless we put all these together, our understanding of even Bhagavad Geeta is likely to be incomplete. Many people today find fault with Lord Krishna for saying – “Chatruvarnam mayaa srustam.” But, they forget the latter part which says – “Gunas,Karma Vibhagasa.” Lord Krishna no doubt said, I created the four varnas – but he also said emphatically that, they are based on one’s Guna and Karma. Birth is nowhere mentioned by him. Lord Krishna’s own life is an exemplary teaching of this lesson.
We will see the contrast of all this, with today’s conditions and explore what reforms we need to make today to make our culture just and vibrant.
* * * to be Contd * * *