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Shri Jagannath’s First Nagarjuna Besha of the Century 

Shri Jagannath is an antiquity existing in the contemporary era as an anthropomorphic Divine. An important aspect of the anthropomorphic ritual includes the various Beshas/ Vesha – the special attire adorned by the Holy Trinity throughout the year.

The special dressing of the Divine Trinity includes daily costumes and a series of 32 special Beshas on various occasions. One infrequent Besha is the Nagarjuna Besha. This year Shri Jagannath and Shri Balabhadra will adorn the Nagarjuna Besha after a gap of 26 years, last worn by the Divine Siblings in the year 1994.

The first Nagarjuna Besha of the century will be witnessed this year on November 27th, 2020. On the day Shri Balabhadra and Shri Jagannath will be dressed as Naga combatants in warrior attire. The long gap of twenty-six years is because of the unique calendar days followed for conducting the Besha.

The Nagarjuna  Besha is done in those years in which the month of Kartika has six days of Panchaka (five days) instead of the regular five days. The Panchaka marks the end of the Kartika month and concludes on the day of Kartika Purnima.

The Holy Trinity gets attired in the Naga fighter costume that coincides with the rare planetary positions making the Nagarjuna Besha or the Bira Besha an extraordinary spectacle.

Legend of Nagarjuna

There are various opinions related to the Nagarjuna Besha. There is an opinion that the warrior costume of Shri Jagannath and Shri Balabhadra commemorates the killing of the powerful king Sahashrarjuna also known as Kartyavera Arjuna by Shri Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Bishnu. Owing to this opinion the Besha is also called the  Parasurama Besha.

Another opinion has been drawn from the 15th century Odia epic-The Sarala Mahabharata. According to the Sarala Mahabharata, the Nagarjuna Besha of Shri Jagannath celebrates Jagannath as Nagarjuna, the son of Naga Princess Sandhyabali and the great warrior Pandu Putra Arjuna.

As per the legend, there was a fierce battle between Arjuna and his heroic son Nagarjuna. Due to the undisclosed identity between the father and son, Nagarjuna gets into combat with his father Arjuna while guarding a Gainda– rhinoceros in the garden of Shiva.

Arjuna was in search of a rhinoceros, required by the Pandavas for the Tarpan– an offering for liberating the dead. The Padava had to perform the tarpan in order to liberate their father Pandu from the cycle of life. In order to give moksha to Pandu a Rakta Tarpana– Blood offering was essential and the Pandavas were in search of a rhinoceros.

Searching for the rhinoceros Arjuna reaches the garden of Shiva and wants to take the Gainda for the purpose of tarpana. Nagarjuna protests and resists giving the Gainda to Arjuna.   This results in a fight between the two.

Arjuna was overconfident that he was the best and couldn’t be killed by anyone other than Krishna. In the combat, Nagarjuna kills Arjuna.  Post Arjuna’s death Nagarjuna is told by his mother that he had unknowingly killed his father.

Hearing about the sin of Pitru hatya– Father’s murder, Nagarjuna is very sad and calls upon the Devatas for help. The Devatas in turn seek help from Surya Deva– Sun God, who had the power to bring back the dead to life.

But Surya Deva could only bring the dead back to life on a day similar to the sixth day of Kartika. Shri Krishna created the day and Surya Deva brought Arjuna back to life.

नमो नमस् तुभ्यम् असह्य​-वेग​
शक्ति-त्रयायाखिल​-धी-गुणाय ।
प्रपन्न​-पालाय दुरन्त​-शक्तये
कद्-इन्द्रियाणाम् अनवाप्य​-वर्त्मने॥

namo namas tubhyam asahya-vega
śakti-trayāyākhila-dhī-guṇāya
prapanna-pālāya duranta-śaktaye
kad-indriyāṇām anavāpya-vartmane

Gajendra-Mokṣa Stuti- 29

Meaning: My Lord, You are the controller of formidable strength in three kinds of energy. You appear as the reservoir of all sense pleasure and the protector of the surrendered souls. You possess unlimited energy, but You are unapproachable by those who are unable to control their senses. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You again and again.

Nagarjuna was a medium to break Arjuna’s ego of being the best warrior. It is believed that Krishna had transformed himself as Nagarjuna, Thus on this day, Shri Jagannath is dressed up in the Nagarjuna costume.

Nagarjuna Besha Description

The Nagarjuna attire has glimpses of both the Vaishnava and Shaiva culture. It is believed that the Nagarjuna attire has been inspired by the garments worn by the Naga Sadhus living in Digambar Akhada for the protection of the temple.

The Naga culture is specific to Puri Dham. The Naga attired artists can be seen in performances on the streets of Puri during the Sahi Jata on the occasion of Ram Navami.

The valiant costume of the Lord is colourful and majestic. Festooned with sixteen types of weaponry and dressed in deer and tiger skin, decorated with feathers, the costume has the simplicity of the Naga Sadhus and the valour of warriors at warfare. During this Besha Sri Jagannath and Balabhadra sport long beard and moustache, similar to the Naga Sanyasis.

Lord Jagannath has a Naga-Tati around his waist.  The Naga-Denu extending at the back of the idols adds to their chivalry grandeur. The Divine brothers have a bow and a quiver packed with powerful arrows.

They hold a dagger, a knife, a sword, pike, club and as many as sixteen weapons. At the back armour is placed for protection.

Shri Balabhadra holds the Hala – Plough and Musala – mace while Jagannath holds the Shankha- conch and Chakra-wheel, their trademark weapons.

The idols of Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra are adorned with Srihasta-hands and Sri Payara-foot made of gold. Shri Balabhadra and Shri Jagannath are crowned in a helmet-like headgear known as Handia. On the Handia remains the Jatta, on the Jatta is the Chula and then the Naga Phula completes the head ensemble.

Both brothers are bedecked with strings of gold crafted in different shapes called Malee –necklace. Adorned with Ghagada malee, Padma Maee, Bagha nakha malee, Harida Malee the warrior brothers look grand and heroic. Devi Subhadra is dressed up ordinarily with a gold tiara, Chandrika and ear ornaments.

The sevayats in charge of dressing up and decorating the Trinity for this special ritual include the Bhitarchhu Mahapatra, Talichhu Mahapatra, Khuntia Mekap and Pushpalak servitors. The headgear and the weaponry are made at Chakrakot Jaga at Harachandi Sahi in Puri by dedicated craftsmen who start work on Bijaya Dashami tithi on Dussehra.

The accessories and weaponry of the Lords are made using bamboo, solho, silken and zari clothes, and wood apple gum. This is the only Besha of the Lord where the Gods dress up with perishable natural accessories, as well as gold ornaments.

This year the Nagarjuna costume and ornaments of the Deities would be brought to the temple from Harchandi Sahi amid tight security by the servitors by 2 am. The Besha Lagi process will begin by 4 am and conclude by 7 am.

The Lord gives audience to his devotees accompanied to the throbbing beats of the Naga Badya– a battle rousing instrument. The Naga Baadya is specifically played only during the Nagarjuna Besha.

सो ऽहं विश्व​-सृजं विश्वम्
 अविश्वं विश्व​-वेदसम्।
विश्वात्मानम् अजं ब्रह्म
 प्रणतो ऽस्मि परं पदम् ॥

so ’haṁ viśva-sṛjaṁ viśvam
aviśvaṁ viśva-vedasam
viśvātmānam ajaṁ brahma
praṇato ’smi paraṁ padam

Gajendra-Mokṣa Stuti- 26

Meaning: O Supreme God, now fully desiring to be released from material life, I offer my respectful obeisance unto that Supreme Divine, who is the creator of the universe, who is Himself the form of the universe and who is nevertheless transcendental to this cosmic manifestation. He is the supreme knower of everything in this world, the Super soul of the universe. He is the unborn, supremely situated Lord. I offer my respectful obeisance unto Him.

A glimpse of the Shri Jagannath in His Nagarjuna Besha causes the destruction of both mental and physical enemies. It fights all the ailments of the body. The belief is that Jagannath as Nagarjuna secures freedom from, disease, adversity, discontent and premature death.

It multiplies the Divine blessings, causing the destruction of self-ego and at the same time keeping the humankind humble and obliged at the feet of the colossal God – Shri Jagannath.

Let Jagannath Swami be the purpose of my vision.   

Note: This year due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Nagarjuna Besha on 27th Nov 2020 and the Kartika Masa rituals at the Moola Peetha of Shri Jagannath at  Puri Dham are being done without the participation of devotees.

Mahabharata Metaphors: Arjuna – The Sensibility Of An Arya

The greatness of Mahabharata is that it has the grand vision of Hampi, the architectural grandeur of Brihadeshwara, and embellishments of Hoysala architecture. At one end it portrays the flow of civilization. At the other end, it carves every single character with great empathy, patience, sensitivity, and purpose.

The microelements of Mahabharata compose themselves with each other together creating a macro-structure that stands for a civilizational philosophy. Each character distinguishes himself or herself with specific attributes that serve the metaphor that the story proposes to carve.

In this article, let us explore the personality of Arjuna, the madhyama Pandava, through one story in Virata Parva.

Towards the end of Virata Parva, the Pandavas are formally introduced to King Virata by Arjuna and Prince Uttara Kumara. Virata sees the Pandavas in the attire of Kshatriyas but recognizes them from their personas of the last one year. He is surprised by their Kshatriya attire and occupying seats meant for Kshatriyas.

First Arjuna and then Uttara introduce them as Pandavas. Virata is overcome by the enormity of Pandava presence. At the same time his own rude and haughty behavior with Kanka Bhatta – Yudhishthira in disguise – haunts him. He finds it difficult to come to terms that he treated the Pandavas as his servants.

Keechaka may have died but the ill-treatment that Draupadi suffered at his hands and his own inability to intervene in the stand for what is right haunts Virata. Above all, Virata has hurt Kanka Bhatta directly by hurling the dice at his face resulting in Yudhisthira suffering a bloody nose.

It may not even be possible for Virata to remember every single word that he spoke with the Pandavas in the previous months and which one could be considered as belittling the Pandavas, even if he did not know who they were. He goes to the extent of submitting his entire state to them as an offering.

In summary, Virata is quite tense with his situation. He does not say that very explicitly but subtly and through his profuse praise of the Pandavas. Finally, Virata proposes to convert his embarrassment into an opportunity and seal the relationship with the Pandavas. He offers his daughter Uttara in marriage to Arjuna.

Dharmaraja Yudhishthira gently looks at Arjuna to seek his opinion. In this, Vyasa Maharshi carves Dharmaraja’s personality. Dharmaraja could have accepted or rejected the offer and the Pandavas would have accepted his decision without question. But Dharmaraja is Dharmaraja. He leaves the decision to Arjuna.

Arjuna respects the offer – “A marriage between Matsya-s and the Bharata-s is indeed honorable”. In that, he offers an equal position to Matsya. Arjuna never forgets that he is not just a Pandava, but a Kuru and Bharata prince.

Arjuna says he accepts Uttara but not as his wife but as a daughter-in-law. He proposes that Uttara be given in marriage to Abhimanyu, his son from Subhadra. Virata is, of course, quite surprised.

When he is himself giving his daughter in marriage and it was a practice of those times to take many wives and sometimes young princesses, why is Arjuna rejecting the proposal? Virata cannot hide his disappointment that his daughter would not be married to one of the Pandavas.

There is a hidden concern if Arjuna thought of the proposal being below his stature. Clearly, Virata, even in a state of concern, does not want to abandon the high honor of a Kshatriya. Of course, Abhimanyu was very young and his prowess was not known to the world yet. Virata directly asks Arjuna in as many words.

Arjuna in his response shows the world what Arya dharma was. “Oh king, I have spent a year in your Antahpura. Your daughter has spent time in my company with immense faith in me. She came to me often alone and at other times along with her friends.

I have treated her very affectionately (like a daughter – vaatsalya). She has looked up to me as an elderly person and an Acharya. [The truth of that relation must not be altered even after my real identity is revealed]. She must continue to be my daughter. A daughter in law is very much a daughter.

Uttara is as pure as fire. The world must not develop any doubt about Uttara today or in the future. [The world must not think if there was a different relation between Uttara and Arjuna, and hence they went into marriage soon after the duration of my hiding came to an end.

A permanent stigma would be attached to our relationship in the year I spent in the interiors of your quarters]. That would be a great injustice to Uttara. Beyond everything, who is she marrying? It is Abhimanyu. He is equal to me in every aspect. He is the nephew of none other than Srikrishna. He has acquired the best of all knowledge and skills that a Kshatriya must acquire.

Uttara will be married to a great Kshatriya of our times. That would be justice to her as well. Hence, it is my suggestion that Uttara be given in marriage to Abhimanyu”.

Virata is now pleased with Arjuna’s thoughtfulness. In his moment of panic, he forgot the implications of his offer on Uttara. Varata accepts Arjuna’s explanation. It is at once ensuring that everybody’s well-being is taken care of. Arjuna demonstrates remarkable sensitivity in his explanation.

At once, Arjuna ensures that Dharma is not violated, worldly propriety is maintained, the authenticity of a relation respected, and the aspiration of King Virata is fulfilled. At the same time, Pandavas acquire a new relation and strength. Virata had a huge army but without his chieftain Keechaka the army was without a leader.

Integration with Pandavas served his own security interests. At the same time, Pandavas developed a new relation and strength that would come in handy in their future war against the Kauravas.

In this complex situation, it is noteworthy Arjuna did not lose sight of Uttara and her reputation. In addition, Arjuna upholds the importance of authenticity. His relationship with Uttara during the hiding must be true. A well-spent year cannot become false.

What of all that Arjuna taught Uttara? In the falsitude of the relation, would everything else that came along with the relation also be lost. That cannot be.

In many stories in Mahabharata, this aspect is highlighted. Saatatya is maintained at multiple levels. At the level of life, philosophy, tradition, practice, and finally a personal relationship too. Everything is Flow.

It is all part of the Ruta. Ruta ought not to be disturbed. If there were true beauty and truth in the relationship between Arjuna and Uttara in the year of hiding, it ought to continue after the hiding is completed too. This continuity is part of the constant seeking of the subtle Dharma – the Dharma sookshma.

This episode also highlights another aspect of Mahabharata. It is full of Dharmic conversations. Every conversation between two people covers an aspect of Dharma, a decision making thought process, thinking through in multiple directions of what is right and what is wrong.

Hence, apart from the storyline, it is essential that we dwell deep into these conversations. They are not just assorted situations and isolated conversations. They contain Dharmic sensibilities and models/sutras for Dharmic thinking.

Of course, this episode is also about Arjuna and his own personality. Arjuna is praised in Mahabharata for his extraordinary conduct and clarity of Dharma.

All the Pandavas demonstrate extraordinary respect and concern for women and their honor, and Arjuna as well.

Thus, was Savyasachi.

Featured Image Credits: cuitandokter

The Water that Became Ghee

The Water that Became Ghee

One of the most common legends about the sacred centers of India that we all grew up listening to is the legend of the water that turned into ghee. The sacred pulse of India is never out of sight. A great temple, a sacred centre is never far away. This is as true about north India where there is hardly any ancient temple left, as it is about south India.

Almost every district and region in India have at least one such great centre. In north India, it is often called a Dham, which attracts millions of crowds on the festivals and thousands every day. When a great festival arrives, the activity becomes intense at these places. And no such festival can be complete without the grand feast, or ‘bhandara’ as it is called in North India.

The amount of food that is cooked and served in these bhandaras can put some of the greatest catering services in the world to shame. What is served in these bhandaras is prasada, not just-food. Entire villages pour in for getting this prasada. “प्रासादी पाना है”… As they would often say about the bhandara. It is not just-food.

Having prasada in a bhandara is more than the act of eating. It becomes an act of divine partaking in a cosmic event. The gods come to bless the place, the food, and the entire event. It is only natural that legends would be attached to these events. One of these legends is about the water that became ghee.

One such sacred centre is the Karah Dham of Morena, and it is one of the first that I became conscious of 25 kilometers from Gwalior, on the Agra-Bombay Highway, also known mundanely as NH 3, a quiet state highway branch left. About five kilometers ahead on this wavy road is the Karah Dham, or the Dham of Patia Wale Baba.

It was made famous by many saints who did tapas there, most famously by Patia Wale Baba, who lived during the first half of the 20th century. He sat on a ‘patia’, a slab of stone, for many years doing tapas and that is how he became famous as ‘Patia Wale Baba’.

After him, a great lineage of gurus started which continues till today. The place boasts of a great kshetra, a sacred center with tens of temples of all primary gods and goddesses of India. As most people would not be able to visit the Char Dhams across India these local centers of devotion would often substitute them.

Although devotees visited these Dhams throughout the year, on certain occasions like the day like anniversaries of saints and great festivals like Nava Ratras, grand feasts would be organized. And to get prasada in these bhandaras everyone in the nearby regions would visit.

The atmosphere was electric. The devotees would sing to the glory of Patia Wale Baba (and not those who donated for the event) and how everything went about peacefully and satisfactorily without any mishap.

My father was a great devotee who would tell and retell every little aspect of the Dham to me again and again and again. One legend he would take particular care to tell with much panache and style. It was the legend of the water that became ghee.

Once during the Baba barsi (anniversary), scores of years ago, a great crisis struck the organizers of the bhandara. Of course, my father was not an eye witness. He had heard it from someone else. These stories were always retold, and no one could pinpoint their exact origin.

This is the core character of the katha pravachan parampara of India. The stories are not created. They exist. They always are. The devotee gets to tap into their magic, their grace.

There is no historical time where one can locate them firmly and no particular space which can be said to be their origin. They exist from times immemorial. That is why they are always retold, never told fresh.

So on that fateful Barsi, the organizers ran out of the ghee needed to cook the pooris. There were still hundreds of people to feed. The organizers and the cooks ran in panic to Patia Wale Baba. He listened to their problem calmly and told them not to panic.

With a calm voice and firm conviction, he told them to pull out some water from the well. Some of the bhaktas dithered as to why was he telling them to pull out water when they needed ghee. But doubt seldom has many places in these stories.

Various devotees ran to the sacred well of the teertha and dipped their buckets into it. When they started pulling them they were surprised to find them heavy and when the buckets came in sight they were pleasantly shocked to find that they had actually pulled out the ghee and not water from the well.

Was the well actually throwing up ghee? Looking into it all they could see was water but as they pulled that water with their buckets it would turn magically into ghee.

Patia Wale Baba said that they could pull as much ghee as they needed from the well, but only as much and not a gram more. And when the bhandara is done and enough ghee is donated to the Dham later on they should actually put the ghee back in the well which would again turn into water.

This is what the bhaktas did and such was the glory of Karah Dham. Is there any other place which has a miraculous story like this? So would my father say. I was a kid who wasn’t yet addled on rationalism either in school or through books. Of course, I believed what he said.

But when I grew up and started going around to various sacred places across the country I found that the same story was repeated in almost all local sacred centers. The story was almost literally the same with just different names. And every devotee at every such place was convinced that it was the special grace of their Dham which had enabled such a miracle.

These stories are repeated almost in a pattern all across India but this article is not about that. It is about another very important aspect of the Hindu psyche. There are three important instructions that the guru gives in this story which are the point of this article.

The first important instruction that the guru gives them is that they will get what is necessary; that the universe will provide them what is required and what is necessary to accomplish a task as sacred like organizing a bhandara.

So the first great feeling that this story conveys is the feeling of comfort in the knowledge that the universe has a way of throwing up just what is required and just when it is required.

The second part of the instruction of the guru is that they should take only as much as is required and not a gram more. The sense to hoard things, to accrue them for the future is highly resented here. Not to worry about the future, not to hoard more than what is immediately necessary is a necessary corollary of having faith in the workings of the universe.

Even more importantly it tells us that the grace of the guru and the sacred instruction cannot be used for personal gain. Only in the times of great public and selfless crises like the one of the running of out the ghee with hungry mouths to feed, can the grace of the guru be used to tweak the universe and its rules a little, to achieve what is required.

Nature, the first order, the order of the universe cannot and should not be tweaked more than what is extremely and absolutely necessary for survival.

The third most important instruction that the guru gives is that they should return the ghee back to the well or the pond when they have enough of it, and when they can afford to do so. The underlying instruction here is that there is no free lunch in the universe. The universe cannot be cheated by magic, even for an emergency.

The magic summoned by bhakti and the grace of the guru provides a loan in time and space to the devotees, a loan which has to be paid back when it is possible to do so. If this is not done, then the grace of the guru does not work again. The universe, once cheated, doesn’t yield again. Nature once betrayed, doesn’t comply again to the particular demand of the individual.

On the surface, this is just a superstitious story of ignorant primitives, who did not have the benefit of rational logic and scientific temper.

To an ‘educated modern mind,’ this seems like the ignorant stories of terrified primitive men who did not have the tools to know about the secrets of the universe and thus relied on concocted myths and imagined magic.

But I am not interested in deciding whether rational science is true or whether faith or shraddha is true.

I am trying to point towards the implication of the loss of this ‘primitive worldview’ and the imbibing of ‘rational logic’ and ‘scientific temper’.

A civilization which rejects ‘superstitious’ worldviews, like the one conveyed through this story, works on rational logic. The modern civilization which came out of Industrial Revolution technology and Enlightenment worldview worked on rationality and empiricism. ‘Primitive’ stories like these had no place in a rational civilization.

It is interesting to note that the modern fairytale of unlimited economic progress was also created by this ‘rational civilization’. That it is impossible to keep growing limitlessly and eternally on a limited planet with limited resources is something even a fifth standard student can understand.

Why an entire civilization fails to understand it defies any rationality or logic, the same values on which this civilization stands. The paradox couldn’t be more complete, especially when you look at the ‘primitive’ civilization with ‘superstitious’ values.

This ‘superstitious’ civilization which celebrated stories of water becoming ghee subconsciously recognized that there is no free lunch in the universe. You cannot exploit Nature endlessly without consequences.

The ‘primitive’ devotees operating on shraddha and dharma alone, instinctively understood through these stories that you have to take from Nature only as much as you need.

And that if sometimes you extract more than usual or more than the usual cycles of Nature allows, then you have to give it back what you took. The principle of reciprocity was inherent in this story. The value of responsibility was the operating principle. The notion of limited resources was the starting point.

Today we recognize these principles with scientific terminology and ecological jargon. The scientific knowledge which often needs billions of dollars of research, the manpower of hundreds of thousands of people, and educating agencies which once again need billions of dollars and years of faulty implementations were effortlessly, costlessly, and informally disbursed through these stories which were discarded in one sweep as ‘superstitious’ and ‘primitive’ when we chose to adopt the civilizational standpoint which operated on rationality and logic.

The contrast is very clear. The takeaway is palpably obvious. Sanatana Dharma invented mechanisms of dispersing necessary wisdom essential for living a sustainable life through the means of stories, centered around the sacred centers which revolved around the institution of the temple and the occasion of the festival.

To destroy this civilization completely by refusing to acknowledge its wisdom and to adopt a ‘scientific’ and ‘rational’ civilization and worldview is not only to destroy culture but also to destroy Nature. Generations of scientists and decades of ‘scientific temper’ find it hard to teach the masses what the simple ‘superstitious’ story of the water that became ghee could.

Dharmic and traditional societies had a wonderful and decentralized way of teaching worldviews and lifestyles which were necessary not just for their own survival but also for a harmonious co-existence with Nature. These stories are often called superstitious myths by scholars but often taken as eternal truths by the devotees.

That our rationalistic civilization can no longer incorporate these ‘myths’ in a logical worldview is obvious by the loss of ecological and social common sense. And its results are too obvious, not just in the collapse of a healthy society but also in the collapse of eco-systems the world over.

Sati: Re-examining the Historical Evidence from 1900BCE to 1900CE

Sati: Re-examining the Historical Evidence from 1900BCE to 1900CE

Sati is a practice of self-immolation of a widow either on her husband’s pyre or separately after her husband’s death. Polemics against Hinduism or India, always talk about sati along with other “evils” like the caste system, oppression of women, and superstitious practices.

Sati is portrayed as a regressive custom which was widely prevalent throughout India. It is to be distinguished from the practice of Jauhar in northwestern India, which grew during the 14th/ 15th century, and where Hindu women preferred death by collective suicide rather than slavery or rape they faced if captured by barbaric Islamic hordes.

The Sati Narrative

British records, as well as Christian Missionary records from 1800 onwards, indicate anywhere between 10,000 to 100,000 cases of satis every year [1]. It is said that when the British could not tolerate the injustice against women anymore, they abolished sati under British rule in 1829 after sustained campaigns by Christian missionaries such as William Carey and reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy. Luke Harding of The Guardian writes [2]:

“It has its origins in Hinduism … The practice is particularly associated with the north Indian state of Rajasthan, where the queens of the Rajput rulers would traditionally immolate themselves en masse.

But memorials to women who have committed suttee exist all over India … There have been repeated official attempts to discourage the cult – by the reformist Mughal emperor Akbar, for example, in the 16th century, and by the British, who banned it in 1829.”

The government of India also enacted the Sati Prevention Act in 1988 which aims to prevent “the commission of sati and its glorification and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

There has been a huge amount of research and scholarly papers by feminists, social scientists, and human rights activists of different colors and hues on sati-pratha and the plight of women in India, patriarchy, and the regressive nature of Hinduism.

This essay is specifically about Sati-pratha and not Jauhar. I do not focus on the ethical, moral, social, or spiritual background of the practice. Instead, my focus in this article is to understand the written and epigraphic evidence of actual eyewitness accounts and other evidence of Sati like inscriptions and monuments.

Given the extensive literature on Sati-pratha, especially in modern times, and the fact that various reformers have tried to stop the practice, and also given that there was the need to enact multiple laws over the ages to ban this practice, it would seem to appear that sati-pratha was widely prevalent.

In this essay, we will analyze empirical data to examine this claim. We will try to understand the degree of the pervasiveness of this practice, its geographic spread, and its demographic aspects.

Evidence of Sati in Veda and Itihasa

The Rig Veda (10:18:7-8) talks about the first known instance of an aborted sati. It describes a cremation where a widow who was lying beside her husband was not allowed to kill herself. Scholars like Michael Witzel generally date the Rig Veda between 1900 B.C.E and 1200 B.C.E [3] [4], and thus we have only 1 recorded aborted instance of Sati in this ~700 year period.

The Mahabharata records at least three events of self-immolation, that of Pandu’s wife Madri, that of Vasudeva’s four wives, and the self-immolation of five of Krishna’s wives after his death.

The Ramayana whose origins are more eastern (Ikshvaku clan) record no evidence of self-immolation. The Mahabharata is generally dated by western scholars between 1200 BCE and 400 BCE and they typically argue that the current text has many layers incorporating different features over the ages.

It is as if Mahabharata is a snapshot of the period 1200 BCE to 400 BCE and in these ~800 years there are only 3 documented instances of self-immolation with 10 deaths, all restricted to the northern and western Indian subcontinent. [5]

It is evident that during the Vedic period at least, Sati was an exceedingly uncommon practice. In a span of 1500 years from 1900 BCE to 400 BCE, there are only 4 recorded instances!

Epigraphic and Written Evidence of Sati

Below I have presented empirical data for actual instances of Sati based on eyewitness accounts and epigraphic evidence. This data has been sourced from Meenakshi Jain’s meticulous and exhaustive research of various primary and secondary sources [6].

The first recorded foreign account of Sati-pratha is that by Diodorus of Sicily and describes an eyewitness account of Hieronymus of Cardia (~326 BCE) who describes the quarrel between two widows as to who would have the honor of dying along with her husband.

A lady called Pustika, the wife of one Ayamani of the Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh committed self-immolation around 300 CE and their remains were discovered in a pot unearthed in a village in the region.

In 464 CE, Queen Rajyavati, the widow of Dharmadeva of Nepal, decided to commit Sati but later did not go through with it and lived a long life.

In 510 CE, Goparaja, the chieftain of king Bhanugupta died while fighting against the Maitras, and his widow committed self-immolation in Eran, Sagar District. In Sanski, a village in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, a sati stone inscription dated to 550 CE was found.

In 606 CE, Queen Yashomati, the mother of Harsha and the wife of King Prabhakaravardhana committed pre-emptive Sati when it became apparent that her husband had no chance of survival.

The 842 CE Dholpur Inscription of Rajasthan records the sati of one Kanahulla, wife of one Chandamahasena. The Ghatiyala Inscription of Rajasthan dated to 890 CE records the sati of one Samvaladevi wife of Ranuka.

In 955 CE, the wives of Parantaka Chola I committed self-immolation. It is said that he had 11 wives. In 973 CE, Vanavan Mahadevi, the queen of Sundara Chola (Parantaka II) self-immolated herself on her husband’s pyre.

In 1044 CE, the consorts of Rajendra Chola, Vanavan Mahadeviar, Mukkokilan, Panchavan Mahadevi, Arindhavan Madevi, and Viramadevi committed sati. In 1057 CE, a Sudra woman Dekabbe committed sati, despite fierce opposition from her parents, when her husband was killed in a battle against a Ganga king.

In 1218 CE, Bhuvanamuludaiyal the wife of Kulothunga Chola III committed Sati. In c1290 CE, the Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, reported a sati in Malabar. The Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta saw the self-immolation of three women in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh. The husbands of these three women had died while fighting against the Sumras of Sind.

Sati was rare enough that instances of it were memorialized and valorized. Based on memorial stones raised as a tribute to women who committed satis, it can be said that not more than 100 sati incidents took place in Vijaynagar (1336 to 1646 CE).

In 1606, Jesuit missionary Roberto de Nobili reported a sati in Madurai. Till 1700 CE, there are perhaps a few more eyewitness accounts of Sati by foreign travelers and missionaries. As per a local tradition, eight four women in Rajasthan are said to have committed sati in 1735 CE on the death of Raja Budh Singh of Bundi.

Epigraphic evidence from Karnataka records eleven instances of Sati in southern India between 1000 CE to 1400 CE, and 41 instances between 1400 CE to 1600 CE. In 1680, one wife of Shivaji became a Sati and in 1700 the wife of Rajaram performed sati.

In 1749, the wife of Shivaji’s grandson Shahu committed sati. As per an estimate by Altekar, quoted by Meenkashi Jain, from the period 1300 CE to 1800 CE, the incident of sati among royal families of Rajasthan was as high as 10%. In Marwar, between 1562 CE to 1843 CE, over a period of 281 years, there are 222 recorded instances of self-immolation on the death of rulers.

Till the 12th century, there is no epigraphic evidence of sati-pratha in Bengal. Kulluka Bhatta was a commentator on Manusmriti and Jimutavahana (c. 12th century) was the earliest writer on smriti (law) from Bengal whose texts are extant. Neither of them talks about sati.

In fact, Jimutavahana had a decidedly anti-sati approach and a modern outlook on widow rights; in his seminal text Dayabhaga, he recognizes the right of a widow without any male issue to inherit the properties of her deceased husband.

From 1700 CE to 1800 CE, as per European records, there were only 5 eyewitness accounts of sati in Bengal – in 1742, 1770, 1779, 1793, and 1799.

As the Evangelical Christian movement started gaining more prominence in India starting from 1800, enumeration of sati incidents sky-rocketed, and suddenly annual 10,000 sati incidents were being reported from Bengal alone in 1803, a mind-boggling increase of 2000x, and some even suggested 50,000 sati occurrences annually!

According to government figures, 8134 widows performed sati in the 14 years between 1815 and 1829, of which more than 60% cases were recorded in Calcutta, a region which had almost no history of sati, thereby casting doubt on the validity of government data.

A colored aquatint by the caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), after Quiz (John Page Mellor), from 1815. Source: The Wellcome Institute | Source: victorianweb.org

The sudden increase in the documented rate of Sati under the British government can be due to one of the following reasons. One, the data is unreliable and fabricated, exaggerated to support missionary propaganda and justify the civilizing mission of the British. On the other hand, if the data is accurate, what change of conditions during the British Raj in Calcutta, led to this spike?

Analysis of 2500 years of data

If we add up all the Sati incidents from 1900 BCE till 1900 CE, based on actual eyewitness accounts and epigraphic records, there are hardly more than 500 unique incidents over a ~4000 year period, or an average of 1 sati every 8 years, and nowhere near the 10,000 per year incidents recorded by British Colonizers and Christian missionaries. Having said that, we prefer to err on the side of conservatism and thus apply two conditions to our data set:

  • We change the starting point of our analysis from 1900 BCE to 500 BCE without changing the total number of incidents (~500)
  • We also assume that the evidence represents only 5% of the self-immolation incidents and that 95% of incidents remained unreported.

Studies have shown that 52% of all violent crimes go unreported [7] and thus any data is generally normalized to reflect the under-reporting. However, following our conservative approach we will assume that 95% of self-immolation incidents were not reported and recorded, and we normalize our data accordingly.

Based on the above, we may make an estimate that no more than 10,000 Sati-pratha incidents took place, assuming that the recorded ~500 incidents reflect only 5% of actual estimated cases.

Moreover, we have shaved off 1,500 years of the timeline from our dataset and thus the period in question is now 2,500 years. Assuming that the geographic distribution and other criteria hold good we can conclude that:

  1. Most of the incidents were restricted to the northern and northwestern part of India
  2. The majority of the women who committed Sati belonged to the Kshatriya community/ warrior or princely class
  3. More than 90% of the incidents took place after 1400 CE

Analysis of Data for 1400 CE to 1800 CE

If we restrict ourselves to the period between 1400 CE and 1800 CE, we come across not more than ~400 reported cases, which translates to 8,000 estimated cases of Sati. In 1400 CE, India’s population was around 98 million (9.8 Crores) and by 1800 CE, the population increased to 189 million (18.9 Crores) [8].

The average annual population during this period 144 million (14.4 crores). With respect to the average population in those 4 centuries, how significant are the estimated 8,000 Sati cases? Let us do a quick calculation to estimate the significance of Sati. We will try to estimate what percentage of widows actually committed sati.

Today, the death rate in India is 7.3 out of 1000. In earlier eras, when medical science was not as advanced as today, the average death rate was much higher. Since we don’t have data for this, we have assumed that 4.5% (see Note 9) of the population died every year, which translates to a death rate of 45 out of 1000.

Thus the average deaths per year were 4.5% of 144 million or 6.5 million (65 Lakhs). Of those 6.5 million, many were children, as infant mortality was very high in those centuries. Many deaths were of unmarried people and so on.

It is assumed that 1/6th of those who died were men who left behind widows (the factor of 1/6 is based on a British record and is discussed in Meenakshi Jain’s book). This translates to 10 lakh widows on average per year. Of these 10 lakh widows every year, only 20 committed self-immolation.

It is obvious that even assuming 95% under-reporting, Sati-pratha was a very rare event, and only 1 out of 50,000 widows committed Sati (1 in 53,813 to be exact) [9]. Assuming lower death rates, the instances of Sati are still quite low as seen below:

Let us say that someone objects and says that I am not being conservative enough, even after assuming 95% under-reporting. Therefore, for the sake of extreme conservatism, I assume that 99% of Sati instances were unreported, or that only 1 out of 100 cases were recorded. Even then, not more than 1 out of 10,000 widows committed Sati assuming a CDR of 4.5% [10].

If we were to stretch this really thin and assume that the fantastic Missionary inspired government data from 1815 to 1828 to be true (which is highly unlikely), even then not more than 1 in 400 widows in Bengal Presidency committed Sati every year.

Implications of the Analysis

In other words, whichever way we analyze the data, the conclusion is inescapable. Sati was a very rare practice. To put things in perspective:

  1. 1 out of 50,000 widows committed Sati every year, assuming 95% under-reporting
  2. 1 out of 20,000 women commits suicide in the UK every year [11]
  3. 1 out of 10,000 US Citizens dies on account of gun violence [12]
  4. 1 out of 3,500 women dies from honor killings in Pakistan [13]
  5. 1 in 2,400 Indians dies from cancer every year [14]
  6. 1 out of 32 children in the US is exposed to domestic violence every year [15]
  7. 1 in 6 slaves from Africa died during the Atlantic Slave trade while being transported from Africa to the US and UK [16]
  8. 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime [17]
  9. 1 out of every 5 women in the UK has been the victim of a sexual offense or attempted offense [18]

Conclusion

Sati was an obscure practice for all practical purposes. Yet the British colonizers and Christian Missionaries decided to collaborate despite being sworn enemies and sensationalize the obscure tradition by bringing it into the limelight. The fabrication of data and the subsequent enactment of Sati prohibition helped both groups.

The Colonizers could now show a legitimate reason for ruling over India and continue their “civilizing mission” and the Christian Missionaries could continue their program to convert the heathens.

In fact, a majority of foreign writers before colonial times actually talk about how rare the practice of self-immolation was. However, such voices were ignored when data for suttee was being “tabulated” and fantastic numbers like 10,000 incidents per year were being fabricated!

The data we have furnished indicates that there was a surge in the number of Sati incidents after the 12th century, when Islam became a dominant force in India and when northern India started being ruled by various Muslim warlords. Even in Bengal, sati incidents started getting reported only after the 12th century, when eastern Bengal was taken over by Muslims.

Even then it was a rare phenomenon. Today more women die from suicides and honor killings in the UK and Pakistan respectively than they ever did from sati.

Violent crimes against women in the USA today are statistically more common than Sati ever was; for example on average, three women are murdered every day by a current or former male partner [15].

Yet Sati was painted as an extraordinary abuse of unimagined proportions, requiring urgent and immediate intervention by the British Crown. Rarer than Sati was perhaps becoming a Prophet of an Abrahamic religion; 1 out of 50 million became Prophets [19].

Thankfully there has been a lull for the past 1400 years, else we would have had to deal with 70 more prophets!

An anecdote which I have heard from elders in my family is that many British men of the East India Company in Bengal, in fact, wanted the young Hindu widows as their mistresses and hence the urgency to ban sati.

They would often paint themselves as saviors and forcefully “marry” these widows claiming that they were saving them from a plight far worse, despite stiff opposition from the women and their families. Many say that this is in fact the origin of many of the Anglo-Indian communities of Bengal, although I personally have not done any research on this.

Whatever be the case, Sati has always been a rare custom since Rig Vedic times. Post-independence, 40 odd cases of Sati have been reported of which a majority are unsurprisingly from Rajasthan.

However, starting from the 1800s till date, Sati (along with issues like caste system, Dalit oppression, Brahmin supremacy, Hindu patriarchy) has been used as a tool of propaganda by different anti-Hindu forces like British colonizers, Christian Evangelists, and now, by social scientists and human rights activists.

The Sati that we know of today in our history and social studies textbooks must be viewed in a historical context for what it is – an almost forgotten obscure custom, exceedingly rare, practiced by perhaps a handful of communities in some specific geographies,

References and Notes

  1. Book Review: Sati by Meenakshi Jain http://indiafacts.org/book-review-sati-meenakshi-jain/
  2. The ultimate sacrifice https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/23/gender.uk1
  3.  Early Sanskritization. Origins and Development of the Kuru State. Michael Witzel (1995)https://web.archive.org/web/20120220153727/http://www.ejvs.laurasianacademy.com/ejvs0104/ejvs0104article.pdf
  4.  I personally don’t agree with this date or its premise, the so-called Aryan Migration Theory. The historical context in which the Rig Vedic hymns were composed of points to much earlier dates.
  5. The Sati Strategy. Review of Meenakshi Jain’s book Satihttp://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/2016/03/the-sati-strategy-review-of-meenakshi.html
  6. Sati. Evangelicals, Baptist Missionaries, and the Changing Colonial Discourse (Aryan Books International, Delhi 2016) by Meenkashi Jain
  7. More than 3 Million Violent Crimes in the U.S. go Unreported Every Yearhttp://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/more-than-3-million-violent-crimes-in-us-go-unreported-every-year?news=844943
  8.  World Population http://www.worldhistorysite.com/population.html
  9.  The earliest available Crude Death Rates (CDR) in India is between 4% and 5% in the period 1900 to 1925. We have assumed the CDR in our analysis to be the average of earliest available data at 4.5%, although in earlier centuries it would probably have been higher than that.https://image.slidesharecdn.com/populationstabilizationinindia13-140429233445-phpapp01/95/population-stabilization-in-india-13022014-26-638.jpg?cb=1398814569

    It is only in recent decades that there has been a rapid decline of CDR from 2.5% in 1950 to 0.7% today, or an average of 1.6% since independence. At 1.6% CDR, sati incidents would still be 1 in 19,000!

  10. Even if we were to assume 99% under-reporting and lower death rates, sati would statistically still be considered a rare phenomenon.
  11.  Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017 https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2017_Final%282%29.pdf
  12.  On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with gunshttps://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/
  13. n Pakistan, 1,000 women die in ‘honor killings’ annually. Why is this happening?https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/05/28/in-pakistan-honor-killings-claim-1000-womens-lives-annually-why-is-this-still-happening

    Moreover, 2/3rd of domestic violence cases in western countries don’t get reported [See http://jech.bmj.com/content/58/7/536]. Since Pakistan is nowhere close to the west in terms of ensuring human rights, it would not be unreasonable to assume that only 5% of cases get reported at most.

  14. http://cancerindia.org.in/statistics/
  15. 30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It’s An Epidemichttp://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776
  16. Trans-Atlantic slave database http://www.slavevoyages.org/assessment/estimates
  17. RAINN: Scope of the Problem: Statisticshttps://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem
  18. 69,000 female, 9,000 male rape victims per year: get the full datahttps://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/11/male-female-rape-statistics-graphic
  19. From 500 BCE to 600 CE, there have been three Abrahamic prophets, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. The population in 500 BCE was around 100 million and was around 200 million in 600 CE. Average population over this period was 150 million, and only 3 prophets were produced during this period suggesting a probability of 1 in 50 million of becoming a prophet.

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ಸೋಮ: ವಿದ್ವಾಂಸರ ಅಭಿಮತ

ಅನಾದಿಕಾಲದಿಂದಲೂ ಮಾನವಜನಾಂಗ ಅಜರತ್ವ, ಅಮರತ್ವಗಳ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ವ್ಯಸ್ತವಾಗಿದೆ. ಸೋಮನು (ಸೋಮವು) ಅಜರತ್ವ, ಅಮರತ್ವಗಳ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ನಮ್ಮ ವೇದಪುರಾಣಯೋಗಇತಿಹಾಸಗಳ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಅಸಂಖ್ಯ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗಳಿವೆ. ಇಂದಿನ ಸಂಶೋಧನಾಕಾರರು ಯಾವುದೇ ವಿಷಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕವಾದ ತಮ್ಮದೇ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಕೋಣಗಳಿಂದ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ತಪ್ಪಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ, ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಸಮಗ್ರ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆಯ ಭಾವ, ಉಪಲಬ್ಧಿಗಳು ದೊರಕುವ ಸಾಧ್ಯತೆ ಕಡಿಮೆ.

ಹಿಂದಿನ ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮದ ಸ್ವರೂಪ,ಕಥೆಗಳು, ವಿವಿಧ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಕೋನಗಳಿಂದ ಸೋಮನ ಪರಿಚಯವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿಕೊಟ್ಟೆವು. ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದೇ ವಸ್ತುವನ್ನು ಮುಂದುವರೆಸುತ್ತ, ಡಾ. ಡೇವಿಡ್ ಫ್ರಾಲಿ (ಪಂ. ವಾಮದೇವ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ) ಯವರು ಸಮಗ್ರವಾಗಿ, ವಿವಿಧ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಕೋನಗಳಿಂದ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ಹೇಗೆ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎನ್ನುವುದನ್ನು ನೋಡೋಣ. ಡಾ. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ವೇದ, ಯೋಗ, ಆಯುರ್ವೇದ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಆಳವಾಗಿ ಅಭ್ಯಸಿಸಿ, ಹಲವಾರು ಲೇಖನ ಮತ್ತು ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತ ಲೇಖನ ಅವರ ಬರಹಗಳ ಒಂದು ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಪರಿಚಯ.

ಸೋಮವು ಪ್ರಾಯಶಃ ಮಾನವನ ಅಮೃತತ್ವದ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆಯ ಅತಿ ಮಹತ್ವಪೂರ್ಣ ಪ್ರತೀಕಸೋಮವು ಒಂದು ವಿಶೇಷ ಪಾನೀಯ ಅಥವಾ ಆಹಾರವಸ್ತು; ಇದನ್ನು ಸೇವಿಸಿದವರಿಗೆ ದೇಹ, ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಹೃದಯಗಳ ವಿಕಾಸ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗುತ್ತದೆಎನ್ನುವುದು ಆಧುನಿಕ ಸಂಶೋಧಕರ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ. ಆದರೆಸೋಮವು ಯಾವುದೋ ಪದಾರ್ಥ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಇದು ಒಂದು ಮಂತ್ರ ಶಕ್ತಿಯೂ ಹೌದು. ಯೋಗದ, ಆಯುರ್ವೇದದ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸ ಮಾಡುವವರು ಕೂಡ ಸೋಮದ ಆರಾಧಕರು. ಸೋಮವೆಂದರೆ, ಆನಂದದ ಸ್ವರೂಪ.

ಡಾ. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರ ಲೇಖನ/ಕೃತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತ ಲೇಖನದ ಮೂರು ಖಂಡಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸಿ ಓದುಗರ ಸಮಕ್ಷಮಕ್ಕೆ ತರುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಸೋಮವು ಅಮೃತತ್ವದ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ, ನಾವು ಮೊದಲಿಗೆ ಸೋಮದ ಸ್ವರೂಪವನ್ನು ಅರಿಯಬೇಕು. ಎರಡನೆಯದಾಗಿ, ಅಮೃತತ್ವ ಎಂದರೇನು ಎಂಬುದನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು. ಸೋಮದ ಪ್ರತೀಕಗಳು ಯಾವುವು, ನಾವು ಪ್ರತೀಕಗಳನ್ನು ತಿಳಿದೋ, ತಿಳಿಯದೆಯೋ ನಮ್ಮ ನಿತ್ಯ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದ್ದೇವೆಯೇ, ಅದನ್ನು ಇನ್ನೂ ಗೌರವದ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ನೋಡುತ್ತೇವೆಯೇ? ಪವಿತ್ರವೆಂದು ಪರಿಗಣಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆಯೇ?

ಸೋಮನ ಭೌತಿಕ ಸ್ವರೂಪ: ಸೋಮಲತೆಯೆಂದರೆ ಯಾವುದು?

ಡಾ. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು, ಸೋಮ ಇಂತಹುದೇ ಒಂದೇ ಸಸ್ಯ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ; ಭಾರತದ ಬೇರೆ ಬೇರೆ ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವಿವಿಧ ರೀತಿಯ ಸೋಮ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳು ದೊರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದವು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಆಧಾರವಾಗಿ, ಸುಶ್ರುತನ ಕೃತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಉದಾಹರಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಸುಶ್ರುತನು ಭಾರತದ ವಿವಿಧ ಪರ್ವತ ಶ್ರೇಣಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರಕುವ ಇಪ್ಪತ್ತು ನಾಲ್ಕು ಬಗೆಯ ಸೋಮಸಸ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಿಸಿದ್ದಾನೆ ಎಂದು ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಪ್ರಾಯಶಃ, ಇವು ಹಿಮಾಲಯ ಪ್ರದೇಶದ ಸರೋವರಗಳ ಹತ್ತಿರದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆಳೆಯುವ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳು. ಇವುಗಳ ಹೆಸರುಗಳು ಕೂಡ ವೇದಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗೊಂಡಿವೆ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ, ವಿವಿಧ ಬಗೆಯ ಪವಿತ್ರ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳಿಗೆ ಮತ್ತು ಆ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಸೋಮ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ ಎಂಬುದು ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ. “ಸೋಮವೆಂಬ ದೈವೀ ಸಸ್ಯವು ಹೀಗೆ ವಿವಿಧ ಪ್ರದೇಶ, ಹೆಸರು, ಶಕ್ತಿ ಇವುಗಳ ಆಧಾರದ ಮೇಲೆ ಇಪ್ಪತ್ತು ನಾಲ್ಕು ಬಗೆಯ ಜಾತಿಗಳಾಗಿ ವಿಂಗಡಿಸಲ್ಪಟ್ಟಿದೆ. ಇವು, ಅಂಶುಮತ, ಮುಂಜವತ, ಚಂದ್ರಮಃ, ರಜತಪ್ರಭಾ, ದುರ್ವಾಸೋಮ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಹೆಸರುಗಳಿಂದ ಗುರುತಿಸಲ್ಪಡುತ್ತದೆ. ವೇದಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇವುಗಳ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖವಿದೆ“.

ಸುಶ್ರುತ ಸಂಹಿತೆಯ ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸಾ ಸ್ಥಾನವನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಿಸುತ್ತಾ, ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಮುಂದುವರೆದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾರೆ, “ ಸೋಮಸಸ್ಯಗಳು ಹಿಮಾಲಯ, ಅರ್ಬುದ, ಸಹ್ಯ, ಮಹೇಂದ್ರ, ಮಲಯ, ಶ್ರೀಪರ್ವತ, ದೇವಗಿರಿ, ದೇವಸಹ, ಪರಿಯಾತ್ರ, ವಿಂಧ್ಯ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಪರ್ವತಶ್ರೇಣಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರೆಯುತ್ತವೆ. ಸೋಮಸಸ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲೇ ಅತುತ್ತಮ ಜಾತಿಯ ಚಂದ್ರಮಃ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳು ನದಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಅದರಲ್ಲೂ, ಪಂಚಪರ್ವತಗಳ ಆಚೆಯ ವಿತಸ್ತಾ (ಝೆಲುಮ್) ನದಿಯ ಉತ್ತರತೀರದ ತಪ್ಪಲುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತೇಲುತ್ತ ಕಾಣಬರುತ್ತವೆ. ಮುಂಜವತ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂಶುಮತ ಜಾತಿಗಳೂ ಅದೇ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರಕುತ್ತವೆ. ಕಾಶ್ಮೀರದ ಮಾನಸ ಸರೋವರದಲ್ಲಿ ಗಾಯತ್ರಿ, ತ್ರೈಷ್ಟುಭ, ಪಂಕ್ತ, ಜಗತ, ಶಂಕರ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಜಾತಿಗಳು ಚಂದ್ರನಷ್ಟೇ ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿ ಕಾಣಸಿಗುತ್ತವೆ.”

ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಇತರ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಷೋಮಾ, ಅರ್ಜಿಕ, ಮತ್ತು ಶರಣ್ಯಾವತಗಳು ಸೋಮಸಸ್ಯಗಳು ದೊರಕುವ ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳೆಂದು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗೊಂಡಿವೆ. (. ಸಂ. 8. 7. 29) ಸಾಯಣರ ಪ್ರಕಾರ, ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗೊಂಡಂತೆ, ಶರಣ್ಯಾವತವು ಕುರುಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ ಬಳಿಯ ಸರಸ್ವತಿ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಒಂದು ಸರೋವರ.

ಸೋಮನು ಸದಾ ಸರ್ವದಾ ನೀರು, ನದಿ, ಸಮುದ್ರಗಳ ಸಂಸರ್ಗದಲ್ಲೇ ಇರುವವನು. ಇದರ ಸಮರ್ಥನೆಗಾಗಿ ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಸೂಕ್ತಿಯ ಉದಾಹರಣೆಯನ್ನು ನೀಡಬಹುದು.

ಕನ್ಯಾ ವಾರವಾಯತೀ ಸೋಮಮಪಿ ಸ್ರುತಾವಿದತ್ ಅಸ್ತಮ್ ಭರಂತೀ ಅಬ್ರವೀತ್ ಇಂದ್ರಾಯ ಸುನವೈ ತ್ವಾ ಶಕ್ರಾಯ ಸುನವೈ ತ್ವಾ ।। (. ಸಂ. 8. 91. 1) [ನದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ನಾನಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿರುವಾಗ ಅಪಾಲಾ ಎಂಬ ಕನ್ಯೆಯು ಸೋಮಲತೆಯನ್ನು ಕಂಡಳು. ಹಿಂತಿರುಗಿ ಬರುತ್ತಾ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ತರುವಾಗ, ಇಂದ್ರನಿಗೆ ಅರ್ಪಿಸಲು ಯೋಗ್ಯವಾಗುವಂತೆ, ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ಹಲ್ಲಿನಿಂದ ಕಚ್ಚಿ ರಸವುಕ್ಕುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತೇನೆ ಎಂದಳು.]

ಮುಂಜವತ ಮತ್ತು ಶರಣ್ಯಾವತಗಳು ಬಿದಿರುಮೆಳೆಗಳ ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳೆಂದು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗೊಂಡಿವೆ. ಮುಂಜವೆಂಬುದು ಒಂದು ಜಾತಿಯ ಬಿದಿರು. ಸೋಮವು ನದಿತೀರ ಮತ್ತು ಇತರ ನೀರು ನಿಂತ ಜವುಗು ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತೆಂದೂ, ಒಂದು ಜಾತಿಯ ಬಿದಿರು ಒಂದು ಸೋಮ ಸಸ್ಯ ಆಗಿರಬಹುದೆಂದೂ ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಊಹಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಇನ್ನೂ ಕೆಲವು ವಿದ್ವಾಂಸರು (Vedic Harappansಭಗವಾನ್ ಸಿಂಗ್) ಸೋಮವು ಕಬ್ಬು ಇರಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ಊಹಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಕಬ್ಬಿನ ರಸವನ್ನು ಕೆಲವು ಸೋಮದ ರಾಸಾಯನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿದ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾವಗಳಿವೆ, ಆದರೂ ಅದೇ ಮುಖ್ಯವಾದ ಧಾತುವಾಗಿರಲಾರದು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ, ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು.

ಅಥರ್ವವೇದವು ಐದು ಮುಖ್ಯ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಹೆಸರಿಸುತ್ತ, ಅವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮವು ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಮಹತ್ವವಾದುದು, ಎನ್ನುತ್ತದೆ. (. ವೇ. 11.6.15) ಮಿಕ್ಕ ನಾಲ್ಕು ದರ್ಭೆ, ಭಾಂಗ, ಯವ (ಬಾರ್ಲಿ,) ಸಹಸ (ಯಾವ ಸಸ್ಯ ಎಂದು ನಿರ್ಣಯಿಸಲಾಗಿಲ್ಲ.) ಅಥರ್ವವೇದವು (. ವೇ. 19.39.5-6) ಕುಷ್ಠ ಎಂಬ ಮೂಲಿಕೆಯನ್ನೂ ಅಶ್ವತ್ಥ ವೃಕ್ಷವನ್ನೂ, ಸೋಮದೊಡನೆ ಜೋಡಿಸಿ ಹೆಸರಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.

ಹೀಗೆ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ವಿಧವಾದ ಗಿಡ, ಮರ, ಮೂಲಿಕೆಗಳು ಸೋಮದೊಡನೆ ಅಥವಾ ಸೋಮವೇ ಎಂದು ವೇದ, ಸುಶ್ರುತ ಸಂಹಿತೆ ಮತ್ತು ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಸರಿಸಲಾಗಿವೆ.

ಆಧುನಿಕ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮ

ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಬಾಹ್ಯದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ಆಧುನಿಕ ಚಿಂತಕರು ಹೇಗೆ ನೋಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂಬುದನ್ನು ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸುತ್ತಾ, ಪ್ರಸಿದ್ಧ ಸಾಹಿತಿ, ತತ್ವಜ್ಞಾನಿ, ಮತ್ತು ಚಿಂತಕರಾದ ಡಾ. ಆಲ್ಡಸ್ಸ್ ಹಕ್ಸ್ಲಿ (Dr. Aldous Huxley) ಯವರ ದಿ ಬ್ರೇವ್ ನ್ಯೂ ವರ್ಲ್ದ್ (The Brave New World) ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯ ಉದಾಹರಣೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕೃತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮವೆಂಬ ಔಷಧಿಯನ್ನು ಹೊಸ ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ಜನಗಳಿಗೆ ಕೊಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಇದನ್ನು ಸೇವಿಸಿದ ಜನಗಳಿಗೆ ದುಃಖ, ಬೇನೆ, ದ್ವೇಷ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಕಾಡಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ; ಅವರು ಸದಾ ಸುಖಿಗಳು. ಆದರೆ, ಆಳರಸರು ಇದನ್ನು ಜನರ ಮನಸ್ಸುಬುದ್ಧಿಗಳನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸುವ ಒಂದು ವಿಧಾನವನ್ನಾಗಿ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಉದಾಹರಣೆಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಸಿದ್ಧಪಡಿಸುವುದೇನೆಂದರೆ, ಸೋಮವು ಯಾವುದೋ ರಾಸಾಯನಿಕ ವಸ್ತುವಲ್ಲ; ನಮ್ಮ ಮನಸ್ಸುಬುದ್ಧಿಗಳನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸುವ ಒಂದು ಮಾದಕ ಪದಾರ್ಥವಲ್ಲ. ಸೋಮವು ನಮ್ಮ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಬುದ್ಧಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಮುಕ್ತವಾಗಿ ಕೆಲಸಮಾಡಲು ನೆರವಾಗುವ ಸಾಧನ. ಭೌತಿಕ ಸ್ತರದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಮಾನಸಿಕ, ಬೌದ್ಧಿಕ, ಮತ್ತು ಪಾರಮಾರ್ಥಿಕ ಸ್ತರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕೂಡ ಮಾನವನ ಅಮರತ್ವದ ಶೋಧನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋಮನು ಒತ್ತಾಸೆ ನೀಡುವ ದೇವತೆ. ಸೋಮವು ನಮ್ಮ ಸಾಧನೆಗೆ ಬೇಕಾದ ಯಾವುದೇ ಉಪಕರಣವಾಗಬಹುದು: ಆಹಾರ, ಪಾನೀಯಗಳಾಗಲಿ, ಸಂಗೀತ, ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ, ಶಿಲ್ಪಕಲೆಗಳಾಗಲಿ, ಧ್ಯಾನ, ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮಗಳಾಗಲಿ, ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ಸೋಮನ ಸ್ವರೂಪವೇ.

ಅಮೃತತ್ವ ಎಂದರೇನು?

ಡಾ. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮೃತತ್ವವೆಂದರೆ, ದೇಹವು ಸದಾಕಾಲಕ್ಕೂ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದಲ್ಲ. ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ ಪ್ರತಿ ಜೀವಿಯೂ ಸಾಯುವುದು ಖಂಡಿತ. ಹಾಗಾದರೆ, ಅಮೃತತ್ವ ಎಂದರೇನು? ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಹ ಮನಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನು ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲ ಆರೋಗ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಶ್ರಮಿಸುವುದು ಅಮೃತತ್ವವೇ? ಮಾತು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ನಿಜ, ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲ. ನಮ್ಮ ಯೋಗ ಪರಂಪರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ದೀರ್ಘಾಯುಷ್ಯವನ್ನು, ಆರೋಗ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸಿದವರನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ತಂತ್ರಯೋಗವು ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿಯಂತಹ ರಹಸ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಭೇದಿಸಿ, ಸಾತ್ವಿಕ ಆಹಾರ, ಯೋಗ, ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮ, ಮಂತ್ರಯಂತ್ರ ಸಾಧನೆಗಳ ಮೂಲಕ ದೇಹ, ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಬುದ್ಧಿಗಳ ದೀರ್ಘಾಯುಸ್ಸನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಯಶಸ್ವಿಯಾಗಿದೆ.

ಆದರೆ, ಅಮೃತತ್ವವು ಇಷ್ಟು ಸೀಮಿತವಾದ ಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲ. ಅಮೃತತ್ವವು ಜನ್ಮಜನ್ಮಾಂತರಗಳಿಗೆ ಮೀರಿದ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ. ಮೃತ್ಯುವು ಒಂದು ತೆರೆಯಂತೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಮರೆಮಾಚುವ ಮಾಯೆ. ಯೋಗವು ಮೃತ್ಯುವಿನಿಂದ ಅಮೃತತ್ವದೆಡೆಗಿನ ಆಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮಿಕ ಪರ್ಯಟನ. ಕಠೋಪನಿಷತ್ತು ಮೃತ್ಯುವನ್ನು ಗುರುವೆಂದು ಗೌರವಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ದಕ್ಷಿಣಾಮೂರ್ತಿಯಾದ ಶಿವನು ವಿರಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಬೋಧಿಸುವ ಗುರು. ಇವನೇ, ಮೃತ್ಯುವಿನ ಪ್ರತೀಕವಾದ ಮಹಾಕಾಲ. ಶಿವನು ಸೋಮಸ್ವರೂಪಿ.

ಸೋಮನ ದೇವತಾ ಸ್ವರೂಪ

ಸೋಮನು ಆನಂದಸ್ವರೂಪಿ; ನಮ್ಮ ಆಜೀವನ ಆನಂದದ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆಯ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಆನಂದವು ಅಮೃತತ್ವದ ಪರಿಭಾಷೆ. ಆನಂದದಂತೆಯೇ, ಸೋಮನು ಕೂಡ ಸುಲಭಸಾಧ್ಯನಲ್ಲ. ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮೊಳಗಿನ ಆಳವನ್ನು ಜಾಗರೂಕತೆಯಿಂದ ಹುಡುಕಿದರೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರ ನಮಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯ.

ಸೋಮನೆಂದರೆ, ರಸ. ರಸವೆಂದರೆ, ಯಾವುದೋ ದ್ರವ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಅದು ವಸ್ತುವಿನ ತಿರುಳು, ಸತ್ತ್ವ; ಸೌಂದರ್ಯದ, ಆನಂದದ ಸಾರ. ರಸವನ್ನು ತೆಗೆಯಲು ಕೃಷಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸಾಧನೆಗಳು ಬೇಕು. ಸೋಮರಸವನ್ನು ಲತೆಯಿಂದ ತೆಗೆಯುವ ಹಾಗೆ, ನಮ್ಮ ಒಳಗಿನ ಆನಂದವನ್ನು ತೆಗೆಯಲು ಕೂಡ ಸಾಧನೆಯ ಅಗತ್ಯ ಇದೆ.

ಚಂದ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ವರುಣ

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಸಮುದ್ರಗಳ ಅಧಿದೇವತೆಯಾದರೆ, ಸೋಮನು ಹರಿಯುವ ನೀರಿನ ದೇವತೆ. ಇಂದ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಅಗ್ನಿಯ ನಂತರ, ಸೋಮನನ್ನು ಆರಾಧಿಸುವ ಸ್ತುತಿಗಳೇ ಹೆಚ್ಚು. ಹಿಂದಿನ ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳಿರುವಂತೆ, ಚಂದ್ರನನ್ನೇ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಬಾರಿ ಸೋಮನೆಂದು ಕರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಚಂದ್ರನಿಗೂ ಸಾಗರಕ್ಕೂ ಇರುವ ಸಂಬಂಧವು ತಿಳಿದೇ ಇದೆ. ಸೋಮನು ನದಿಗಳ ರಾಜ, ಎಂದರೆ, ಸಾಗರ.

ಏಷ ರುಕ್ಮಿಭಿರೀಯತೇ ವಾಜೀ ಶುಭ್ರೆರೀರಂಶುಭಿಃ ಪತಿಃ ಸಿಂಧೂನಾಂ ಭವನ್ (. ಸಂ. 9. 15. 5) [ಬೆಳ್ಳಗಿರುವ ಹನಿಗಳಿಂದ ಶೋಭಾಯಮಾನನಾಗಿ ಹರಿಯುವ ರಸಗಳಿಗೆಲ್ಲ ಅಧಿಪತಿಯಾದವನು], ಎಂದರೆ, ಸೋಮನೇ ವರುಣನಂತೆ, ಸಾಗರದ ಅಧಿಪತಿ. ಇದೇ ಅರ್ಥ ಬರುವ ಬೇರೆ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳು ಕೂಡ ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಇವೆ.

ರಾಜಾ ಸಮುದ್ರಂ ನದ್ಯೋವಿ ಗಾಹತೇ ಪಾಮೋರ್ಮಿಮ್ ಸಚತೇ ಸಿಂಧುಷು ಶ್ರಿತಃ ಅಧ್ಯ ಸ್ಥಾ ತ್ಸಾನು ಪವಮಾನೋ ಅವ್ಯಯಂ ನಾಭಾ ಪೃಥಿವ್ಯಾ ಧರುಣೋ ಮಹೋ ದಿವಃ ।। (. ಸಂ. 9. 86. 8) [ಸೋಮರಾಜನು ನದಿಗಳನ್ನೂ ಸಮುದ್ರವನ್ನೂ ಪ್ರವೇಶಿಸಿ, ನೀರಿನ ತರಂಗವನ್ನು ಸೇರುತ್ತಾನೆ; ಸಿಂಧುವಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಆಶ್ರಯ ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತಾನೆ.] ಡಾ. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಹೇಳುವಂತೆ, ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಮುದ್ರಯಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಿಣಿತಿ ಇದ್ದುದರ ಪ್ರಮಾಣ ಸೂಕ್ತಿಗಳಿಂದ ದೊರಕುತ್ತದೆ.

ಸಮುದ್ರದ ವಾತಾವರಣ ಮತ್ತು ಅಲೆಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಚಂದ್ರನ ಪ್ರಭಾವದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೂಡ ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗಳಿವೆ. ಸೋಮನು ವಾಯುವಿನ ಮೂಲಕ ಸಮುದ್ರದ ಅಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ಉಂಟು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾನೆ. (. ಸಂ. 9. 84. 4) ಸೋಮನಿಂದಲೇ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿ, ಸೋಮನಿಂದಲೇ ಸ್ಥಿತಿ, ಸೋಮನೇ ಚೈತನ್ಯ ಸ್ವರೂಪನು.

ಅಗ್ನಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸೋಮ

ಸೋಮನು ಜಲಸ್ವರೂಪವುಳ್ಳವನಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಅವನನ್ನು ಸಮುದ್ರ, ಸಿಂಧು, ನದಿ, ಧಾರೆ, ಸರಸ್ಸು (ಸರೋವರ,) ವೃಷ್ಟಿ, ಊರ್ಮಿ (ಅಲೆ,) ಮತ್ತು ಪವಮಾನ (ಸೃತಿ), ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ವಿವಿಧ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಸೋಮನನ್ನು ಆಪ (ನೀರು,) ರಸ, ಪಾಯಸ, ಮಧು, ತುಪ್ಪ, ಅಮೃತವೆಂದೂ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಎಲ್ಲ, ಸೋಮನು ಜ್ಯೋತಿ ಕೂಡ ಹೌದು.

ಜಗತ್ತು ದ್ವಂದ್ವದಿಂದ ಕೂಡಿದೆ. ಒಂದು ಧ್ರುವ ಇದ್ದೆಡೆ, ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧವಾದ ಧ್ರುವ ಇರಲೇ ಬೇಕು. ಅದೇ ರೀತಿ, ಪೋಷಕವಾದ ಶಕ್ತಿಗಳೂ ಇರಲೇ ಬೇಕುಶಿವನಿದ್ದೆಡೆ, ಶಕ್ತಿ ಇರಲೇ ಬೇಕು. ಹೀಗೆ, ನೀರು ಇರುವಾಗ ಬೆಂಕಿ ಇರದೇ ಹೇಗೆ? ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಗ್ನಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸೋಮ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಶಕ್ತಿಯ ಧ್ರುವಗಳ ಪ್ರತೀಕಗಳು.

ಅಗ್ನಿಯು ಉಷ್ಣದ, ಬೆಂಕಿಯ, ರೂಪಾಂತರದ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ಸೋಮನು ಉಕ್ಕುವ ಶಕ್ತಿಯ, ಸಮೃದ್ಧತೆಯ, ಶೀತಲತೆಯ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ಇವರಿಬ್ಬರೂ ಇಡೀ ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನು ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸಿ, ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ದ್ವೈತಭಾವವನ್ನು ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅಗ್ನಿಯು ಸೂರ್ಯನಾದರೆ, ಸೋಮನು ಚಂದ್ರನು. ಅಗ್ನಿಯ ಶಕ್ತಿಯು ರಭಸದಿಂದ ಮೇಲೆದ್ದರೆ, ಸೋಮವು ಕೆಳಮುಖವಾಗಿ ಇಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ.

ಅಗ್ನಿಯು ಆಂದೋಲನ, ಗ್ರಹಣ ಶಕ್ತಿ, ಉದ್ಯಮ. ಸೋಮವು ಪುಷ್ಟಿ, ಉಲ್ಲಾಸ, ಪುನರುಜೀವನ. ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ, ಜಠರಾಗ್ನಿಯು ಜೀರ್ಣಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಆಯುರ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳಿರುವ ಪ್ರಕಾರ, ಸೋಮವು ದೇಹದಲ್ಲಿ ರಸ, ರಕ್ತ, ಮಾಂಸ, ಮೇಧಸ್ಸು, ಅಸ್ಥಿ, ಮಜ್ಜ, ಮತ್ತು ಶುಕ್ರ ಎಂಬ ಏಳು ವಿಧವಾದ ಜೀವಕೋಶಗಳನ್ನು ಪುಷ್ಟಿಮಾಡುತ್ತದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಹ, ಮನಸ್ಸು ಬುದ್ಧಿಗಳು ಆರೋಗ್ಯವಾಗಿರಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ, ಅಗ್ನಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸೋಮವು ಸಮತೋಲನದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಬೇಕು.

ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸಿದರೆ, ಅಗ್ನಿಯು ದೇಹವನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸುವಂತೆ, ಸೋಮವು ಮನಸ್ಸನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಪುರುಷ ಸೂಕ್ತದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳುವಹಾಗೆ, ಚಂದ್ರನು (ಸೋಮನು) ವಿರಾಟ್ ಪುರುಷನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಿಂದ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದವನು. ಚಂದ್ರನು ಚಿಂತನಾಶೀಲನು; ಮನಸ್ಸನ್ನು ಶಾಂತವಾಗಿ, ಸಮವಾಗಿ ಇಟ್ಟು ಚಿತ್ತಸ್ವಾಸ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸಲು ಸಹಾಯ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ಸೋಮ ಮತ್ತು ಕಲಶ ಪೂಜೆ

ನಮ್ಮ ಪೂಜೆ ಪುನಸ್ಕಾರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಕಲಶ ಕೂಡ ಸೋಮನ ಸಂಕೇತವೇ. ಸೋಮನು ನೀರಿನ ಅಥವಾ ಅಮೃತದ ಬಿಂದಿಗೆ. ಸೋಮ ಅಥವಾ ಪವಮಾನ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳ ಅರ್ಥ ಕೂಡ ಇದೇ. ಪವಮಾನವೆಂದರೆ, ಶುದ್ಧಿ ಮಾಡುವ ಹೊಳೆ. ಅರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ, ಅಭಿಷೇಕ, ತೀರ್ಥ ಸ್ನಾನ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳು ಕೂಡ ಸೋಮ ಸಂಸ್ಕಾರಗಳೇ.

ರುದ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಸೋಮಗಾಯತ್ರಿ

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ರುದ್ರನನ್ನು ಭವರೋಗದ ವೈದ್ಯನೆನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಶಿವನ ಶಕ್ತಿಯು ಸೋಮ ಮತ್ತು ಅಗ್ನಿಯರಿಂದ ಬಂದುದು. ಸೋಮನು ಉಪಶಮನ ನೀಡಿ, ಪುನರುಜ್ಜೀವನಗೊಳಿಸುವ ಶಕ್ತಿ. ಅಗ್ನಿಯು ಶುದ್ಧಿಗೊಳಿಸುವ ಶಕ್ತಿ. ಶಿವನು ಮೃತ್ಯುಂಜಯನು, ಸೋಮೇಶ್ವರನು.

ಸೋಮಗಾಯತ್ರಿ ಮಂತ್ರವನ್ನು ವ್ಯಾಧಿ, ಬೇನೆಗಳಿಂದ ಗುಣಪಡಿಸುವ ವಿಶೇಷ ಆಹಾರ, ಮೂಲಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ಸೇವಿಸಿ, ಜಪ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. (ಸೋಮಗಾಯತ್ರಿಯು ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲ; ನಂತರದ ತಾಂತ್ರಿಕ ಕೃತಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇದು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖವಾಗಿದೆ.)

ಸೋಮ, ಯೋಗ, ಮತ್ತು ತಂತ್ರ

ಉಪನಿಷತ್ತು ಆತ್ಮನನ್ನು ರಸ ಅಥವಾ ಸಾರವೆಂದು ಬಣ್ಣಿಸಿ, ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಂಡದ ಒಂದು ಅಣುವಾಗಿ ಪರಿಗಣಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಎಂದರೆ, ನಮ್ಮ ಅಂತರಾತ್ಮವು ದೇಹವಲ್ಲ, ಆಕಾರವಲ್ಲ, ಯಾವುದೋ ಉಪಕರಣವಲ್ಲ; ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಂಡದ ತಿರುಳಿನ ಅಣು. ಯೋಗಿಯು ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಅನುಭವಿಸಲು, ಮಂತ್ರೋಚ್ಚಾರಣೆ, ಸಂಗೀತ, ದರ್ಶನ, ಅಥವಾ ಇತರ ಉಪಕರಣಗಳನ್ನು ಬಳಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ತನ್ನ ಜ್ಞಾನೇಂದ್ರಿಯಗಳನ್ನೂ, ಪಂಚೋಪಕರಣಗಳನ್ನೂ ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು, ಕರ್ಮಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಾಗಿ ಬಳಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಚಿಂತನೆಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಆತ್ಮನು ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಬುದ್ಧಿ, ಚಿತ್ತ, ಅಹಂಕಾರಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಿಗಿಲಾದ ವಸ್ತು ಎಂಬ ಅನುಭವ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.

ತಾಂತ್ರಿಕ ಯೋಗವು ಜೀವನದಿಂದ ಆನಂದದ, ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆಯ ತಿರುಳನ್ನು ಹೀರಿ ಅನುಭವಿಸುವ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ. ಯಾವುದೇ ಕಲೆಯ ಅನುಭವವು ಆನಂದದ ಅನುಭವಕ್ಕೆ ಎಡೆಮಾಡಿಕೊಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೀಗೆ, ಸೋಮವು ಶಿವಶಕ್ತಿ ಯೋಗದ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾನಂದದ ರಸಾನುಭವದ, ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯ ಆನಂದದ ಪ್ರತೀಕ.

ಇದಕ್ಕೂ ಮೇಲಾಗಿ, ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಹೇಳುವಂತೆ, ಸೋಮವೆಂಬ ದೈವೀ ಸಸ್ಯ ನಮ್ಮೊಳಗೇ ಇದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಹದ ನರಗಳು ಕೂಡ ಒಂದು ವೃಕ್ಷವನ್ನೇ ಹೋಲುತ್ತಿದ್ದು ನೂರಾರು ರೆಂಬೆಗಳನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿವೆ. ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆನ್ನೆಲುಬು ಒಂದು ಬಿದಿರಿನ ಮಾದರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವರ್ಣಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ವೃಕ್ಷದ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮರೂಪವು ಜೀವನಾಡಿ, ಮತ್ತು ಶಕ್ತಿಕೇಂದ್ರಗಳಾದ ಚಕ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡಿದೆ. ಚಕ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಕಮಲಗಳ ಸಂಕೇತದಿಂದ ನಿರೂಪಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.

ನಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದ ಪ್ರಕ್ರಿಯೆಗಳೆಲ್ಲವೂ ವಿವಿಧ ರೀತಿಯ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತವೆ, ಅರ್ಥಾತ್, ಸಂತೋಷವನ್ನೂ ಚೈತನ್ಯವನ್ನೂ ನೀಡುತ್ತವೆ. ಆಹಾರಸೇವನೆ, ಉಸಿರಾಟ, ವಿವಿಧ ಅನುಭೂತಿಗಳು, ಭಾವನೆಗಳು, ಚಿಂತನೆಗಳು, ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ ನಮ್ಮೊಳಗಿನ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಚೋದಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಕ್ರಿಯೆಗಳು. ನಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆಯ ಸ್ತರವು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿದಂತೆ, ನಮ್ಮ ಆನಂದದ ಸಂವೇದನಾಶೀಲತೆ ಕೂಡ ಹೆಚ್ಚುತ್ತದೆ. ಜೀವನವೇ ಸೋಮದ ಅನುಭವ; ನಮ್ಮ ಆನಂದದ ಅನುಭವವು ನಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದ ಪ್ರತಿ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯಲ್ಲೂ ವ್ಯಕ್ತವಾಗಬೇಕು. ಇದೇ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಶಂಕರಾಚಾರ್ಯರು ತಮ್ಮ ಶಿವ ಮಾನಸ ಸ್ತೋತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೀಗೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾರೆ: ‘ಪೂಜಾ ತೇ ವಿಷಯೋಪಭೋಗ ರಚನಾ, ನಿದ್ರಾ ಸಮಾಧಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಃ; ಸಂಚಾರಃ ಪದಯೋಃ ಪ್ರದಕ್ಷಿಣ ವಿಧಿಃ ಸ್ತೋತ್ರಾಣಿ ಸರ್ವಾಗಿರೌ, ಯದ್ಯದ್ ಕರ್ಮ ಕರೋಮಿ ತದ್ತದಖಿಲಂ ಶಂಭೋ ತವಾರಾಧನಂ.’ [ನಾನು ನಿದ್ರಿಸುವಾಗ ಸಮಾಧಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಸೇರಿದಂತೆ. ನಡೆದರೆ, ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ಪ್ರದಕ್ಷಿಣೆ ಮಾಡಿದಂತೆ. ನಾನು ಯಾವ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯನ್ನು ಸಂತೋಷದಿಂದ ಮಾಡಿದರೂ, ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ಅರ್ಚಿಸಿದಂತೆ.]

ಯೋಗಿಗಳು ಸತ್ಚಿತ್ಆನಂದ ಎನ್ನುವ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞಾಪೂರ್ವಕ ಆನಂದವನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಲು, ನಮ್ಮ ಆಂತರಿಕ ಸೋಮದ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು ಮಗ್ನರಾಗಬೇಕು. ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಹೇಳುವಂತೆ ಆನಂದದ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆ ಎನ್ನುವುದು ಯೋಗ. ಬಹಿರಂಗ ಪ್ರಕ್ರಿಯೆಗಳು ಭೋಗ. ಅತಿ ಭೋಗವು ರೋಗಕ್ಕೆ ಎಡೆಮಾಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಯೋಗಸಾಧನೆಗಾಗಿ ಭೋಗವನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸುವುದು ಅಗತ್ಯ.

ನಮ್ಮ ಆಂತರಿಕ ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರವೆಂದರೆ, ಆತ್ಮ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರ. ಎಂದರೆ, ನಮ್ಮ ಆತ್ಮವೆಂಬುದು ಅನಂತದಲ್ಲಿ ತಲ್ಲೀನವಾದ ಅನುಭೂತಿ.

ಸೋಮ ಮತ್ತು ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿ

ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿ ಎಂದರೆ ಮಹಾ ಪವಿತ್ರವಾದ ಆಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮಿಕ ಶಕ್ತಿ; ನಮ್ಮೊಳಗೆ ಇರುವ ಗುಹ್ಯತಮವಾದ ಶಕ್ತಿ. ಸಾಧಕನು ಮೂಲಾಧಾರದಿಂದ ಸಹಸ್ರಾರದ ಕಡೆಗೆ ತನ್ನ ಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ವೃದ್ಧಿ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತ ಹೋದಂತೆ, ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಪಟ್ಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿ ಚಕ್ರದ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಮತ್ತು ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಪಟ್ಟ ಬೇಕಾದ ಸೋಮದ ಸ್ವರೂಪ ಮತ್ತು ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಳ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದೆ. ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗೆ, ಎಂದರೆ, ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಕೆಲವು ಆಸನ, ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮ, ಯೋಗಕ್ರಿಯೆ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಭೌತಿಕ ಮಟ್ಟದ ಸಾಧನೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸಾಲದು, ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾನಸಿಕ ಸಿದ್ಧತೆ, ಸಾಧನೆ ಕೂಡ ಅತ್ಯಗತ್ಯ.

ಯೋಗದ ಯಮ, ನಿಯಮ, ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮ, ಮಂತ್ರ, ಮತ್ತು ಧ್ಯಾನಗಳು ಸೋಮನನ್ನು ಶುದ್ಧಿ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿಯ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗೆ ಬುನಾದಿ ಹಾಕುತ್ತವೆ.

ಚಕ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಅವುಗಳ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸಲು, ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿಯನ್ನು ಉದ್ದೀಪನಗೊಳಿಸಲು, ಮೊದಲು ಸುಷುಮ್ನಾ ನಾಡಿಯನ್ನು ಶಕ್ತಿಯುತವನ್ನಾಗಿ ಮಾಡುವುದು ಮೊದಲ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ. ಸುಷುಮ್ನಾ ಎಂದರೆ, ಆನಂದದಾಯಿ. ಸುಷುಮ್ನಾ ನಾಡಿಯು ವಿಕಸಿತವಾಗಬೇಕಾದರೆ, ಸಾಧಕನು ಕ್ರಮೇಣ, ಭಯ, ಕ್ರೋಧ, ಆಸೆ, ಬಂಧಗಳ ಗಂಟುಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳಚಿ ಅವನ್ನು ತ್ಯಜಿಸುತ್ತ ಮುಂದೆ ಹೋಗಬೇಕು.

ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿಯು ಉದ್ದೀಪನಗೊಂಡರೆ, ನಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರಚೋದಿಸಿ ಸೋಮದೆಡೆಗೆ, ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾನಂದದೆಡೆಗೆ ಸಾಗಬಹುದು. ತಂತ್ರದ ಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತದ ಪ್ರಕಾರ, ನಮ್ಮ ಬೆನ್ನುಹುರಿಯ ತಳದ ಮೂಲಾಧಾರ ಚಕ್ರದಿಂದ ತಲೆಯ ಮೇಲಿನ ಸಹಸ್ರಾರ ಚಕ್ರದವರೆಗೂ ಸುಷುಮ್ನಾ ನಾಡಿಯ ಮೂಲಕ ಕೊಂಡೊಯ್ದ ಸಾಧಕನು ಶಿವಶಕ್ತಿಯರ ಸಂಯೋಗದಿಂದ ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರ ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ಚಕ್ರ

ಇಂದ್ರಿಯ

ಸ್ಥಾನ/ ಕೇಂದ್ರ

ಸೋಮನ ಸ್ವರೂಪ

ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ

ಮೂಲಾಧಾರ

ಗಂಧ, ಮೂಗು

ಪೀಠ

ಭೂಮಿ, ಆಹಾರ, ಗಂಧ,

ಭೂತತ್ತ್ವ; ಆಹಾರ, ಬುನಾದಿ

ಸ್ವಾಧಿಷ್ಠಾನ

ರಸ, ನಾಲಿಗೆ

ಕಟಿ

ನೀರು, ದ್ರವ, ರಸ

ಸೃಷ್ಟಿ, ಗುಹ್ಯಾಂಗ, ಒಡನಾಟ, ಸ್ನೇಹ, ಪ್ರೀತಿ

ಮಣಿಪೂರ

ದೃಶ್ಯ, ಕಣ್ಣು

ಹೊಕ್ಕಳು

ಅಗ್ನಿ, ಪ್ರಕಾಶ, ಬಣ್ಣ, ದೃಶ್ಯ

ಆತ್ಮವಿಶ್ವಾಸ, ಸಂಯಮ

ಅನಾಹತ

ಸ್ಪರ್ಶ, ಚರ್ಮ

ಹೃದಯ

ವಾಯು, ಶಕ್ತಿ, ಸ್ಪರ್ಶ, ಚಲನೆ

ಪ್ರೀತಿ, ಸಂತೋಷ, ಶಾಂತಿ

ವಿಶುದ್ಧ

ಆಕಾಶ, ಧ್ವನಿ, ಶಬ್ದ

ಕಂಠ

ಆಕಾಶ, ಧ್ವನಿ, ಸಂಗೀತ

ವಾಕ್ಕು, ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ, ಸತ್ಯ

ಆಜ್ಞಾ

 

ಆಕಾಶ, ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷ, ಮನಸ್ಸು

ಭೃಕುಟಿ

ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಚಿತ್ತ, ಚಿಂತನೆ, ಗ್ರಹಣ

ಕಲ್ಪನಾಶಕ್ತಿ, ಅಂತರ್ದೃಷ್ಟಿ, ಅಪರೋಕ್ಷ ಜ್ಞಾನ, ವಿವೇಕ

ಸಹಸ್ರಾರ

ಆಕಾಶ, ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷ, ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ

ಶಿರಸ್ಸು

ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ, ಧ್ಯಾನ, ಆನಂದ

ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಜ್ಞಾನ

ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರವಾಗಲು ಯಾವ ಸಾಧನೆ ಬೇಕು?

ಫ್ರಾಲಿಯವರು ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಸಾಧನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡುವಂತೆ ಸಲಹೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.

    • ಸೋಮ-ಪ್ರಧಾನ ಸಾತ್ವಿಕ ಆಹಾರ, ಮೂಲಿಕೆಗಳು
    • ನಮ್ಮ ಮನಸ್ಸು, ಬುದ್ಧಿ, ಇಂದ್ರಿಯಗಳನ್ನು ಪೋಷಿಸುವಂತಹ ದೃಶ್ಯ, ಸಂಗೀತ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ
    • ನಮ್ಮ ಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಸಂರಕ್ಷಿಸುವ ನಿದ್ದೆ, ವಿಶ್ರಾಂತಿ, ಶಾಂತಿ
    • ನಮ್ಮೊಳಗಿನ ಸೋಮವನ್ನು ರಕ್ಷಿಸುವ ಭಾವನೆ, ಭಕ್ತಿ, ಮತ್ತು ಸತ್ಸಂಗಗಳು
    • ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮ, ಉಸಿರಾಟದ ನಿಯಂತ್ರಣ
    • ಮಂತ್ರ ಪಠಣ
    • ಧ್ಯಾನ

ಸೋಮಂ ಮನ್ಯತೇ ಪಾಪಿವಾನ್ಯತ್ಸಂಪಿಂಷಮ್ತ್ಯೋಷಧಿಮ್
ಸೋಮಂ ಯಂ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಣೋ ವಿದುರ್ನ ತಸ್ಯಾಶ್ನಾತಿ ಕಶ್ಚನ ।।
(. ಸಂ. 10. 85. 3)

[ಸೋಮಲತೆಯಿಂದ ಹಿಂಡಿ ತೆಗೆದ ರಸವನ್ನೇ ನಿಜವಾದ ಸೋಮವೆಂದು ಸಾಧಾರಣ ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಿಜವಾದ ಜ್ಞಾನಿಗಳು ಅರಿತ ಸೋಮನನ್ನು ಇತರರು ಅರಿಯಲಾರರು]. ಅರ್ಥಾತ್, ಸೋಮನ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರವಾಗಬೇಕಾದರೆ,ಅದು ಜ್ಞಾನಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸಾಧ್ಯ.

ಆಕರಗಳು

  1. Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda: The Power of Rejuvination and Immortality, Dr. David Frawley, 2012
  2. Gods, Sages, and Kings, Dr. David Frawley, 1991
Wonders, Mysteries and Misconceptions in Indian Astronomy – V

Wonders, Mysteries and Misconceptions in Indian Astronomy Part V

In the previous article, we read about the Kali-Yuga and had a brief glimpse into some of the fascinating frameworks of time created by the ancient Indians, unmatched by any other ancient culture.

In this article, I invite you to join me in exploring a fascinating ancient puzzle.

This mystery, which is related to Indian Astronomy, has its roots in the Middle East – in Ancient Iraq, to be specific.

Let us journey to that ancient land between the two rivers to get a background of the puzzle.

Mystery #2 – The Mesopotamian Connection

Historians inform us that ancient Man, after living in small tribal communities for many thousands of years, progressed to form increasingly larger societal units, that eventually led to the emergence of nation-states.

We are told that these nation-states first arose around 4000 BC or thereabouts, centered around large bodies of freshwater. There were three incubation zones, the so-called Three Cradles of Civilization – India, China, and the Fertile-Crescent in the Middle East.

Scholars are nowadays inclined to accept that there was a fourth cradle as well – the civilization of Meso-America.

The Fertile Crescent

American archaeologist James Breasted first coined the term “Fertile Crescent” in 1914, to describe the banana-shaped region in the Middle-East that encompasses: 1) the upper reaches of the Nile River in the west; 2) the parts near the Jordan river of the Levant in the middle; 3) the great plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the east, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Fertile Crescent

In an otherwise semi-arid region, these lush areas, with plentiful water and fishing resources, contain unusually fertile soil that produces an abundance of edible plant species. According to western scholars, it was in this region that mankind first began the cultivation of grains, around 10,000 B.C.

Mesopotamia

The eastern limb of the Fertile Crescent is called Mesopotamia, which means ‘land between the rivers’ in Greek (meso=middle, potamos=river), the said rivers being the Tigris and the Euphrates.

The Arabs call it ‘Al-Jazeera’ (the island).

The vast region, which today falls in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Kuwait, has been home to some of the most ancient cultures known to history.

In Figure 2, we zoom in on Mesopotamia.

Figure 2: Mesopotamia

Figure 2: Mesopotamia

On the left, we see the current political divisions that comprise the region. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are seen to come as close as 30 miles from each other in the central region near Baghdad (red spot), before diverging again. The two rivers finally meet further downstream to form a single flow, the Shatt al-Arab, that flows into the Persian Gulf.

Geographically speaking (right side of figure), the region is bordered by the Zagros mountains of Iran in the east, and by the Taurus mountains of Turkey in the north. To the south and west is the great Arabian desert.

Nestled in-between these formidable barriers lie the lush, green, fertile plains of Mesopotamia.

The Tigris, whose source is at a high altitude, flows faster and with greater volume in almost a straight line. The Euphrates, on the other hand, meanders it way, zig-zagging slowly through the region. It comes as no surprise that the first ancient cities grew around the shallow, slow-moving Euphrates.

Historians usually divide Mesopotamia into two zones: 1) Northern Mesopotamia – the region north of the pinch point (Baghdad); 2) Southern Mesopotamia – the area south of Baghdad.

Distance from India

To begin with, we ask a simple question – How far was Mesopotamia from Ancient India? Was there any communication between India and Mesopotamia?

Figure 3: Indus Valley and Mesopotamia

Figure 3 shows the southern coastline of Asia. The distance from the mouth of the Indus near Karachi to the southern edge of Mesopotamia is about 1200 miles – not an impossible journey. The average sailboat can travel between 70 and 100 miles a day depending on the wind.

Assuming an average speed of 85 miles a day, a distance of 1200 miles will take only 2 weeks. In addition, this is not a deep-sea voyage, but an easy one hugging the coastline with many stops along the way.

The presence of the world’s oldest shipping docks at the Indus Valley site of Lothal in Gujarat tells us that the Indus people were an enterprising, commerce-led, sea-going lot.

So, in summary, we can state with some confidence that trade and communication between Ancient India and the Persian Gulf, including Mesopotamia, is a certainty.

Pre-History of Mesopotamia

Historians declare the pre-history of the region to be from 12000 BC to 6000 BC. Archeologists have unearthed artifacts from Northern Mesopotamia (near Syria/Turkey) which indicate that hunter-gatherers lived in this region in small independent settlements during this period.

This was followed by the Ubaid Period (6000 BC – 4000 BC), in which small villages appeared, each covering about 20 acres, consisting of 100 people or so. Small-scale farming had started with simple irrigation canals. Southern Mesopotamia was a marshy region at this time, often inundated by the flow from the two mighty rivers. It was more or less uninhabited.

Then, around 4000 BC, due to climatic changes, flow in the two great rivers diminished quite a bit.

As a result of this, the extent of the marshy region in the south reduced, and more land became available for settlement and cultivation.

And here we come to the first mystery. During this period unknown, mysterious people started arriving in large numbers in Southern Mesopotamia.

The Sumerians

The Sumerians, as these unknown people are called, were of a non-Semitic racial stock, in contrast to the northern Mesopotamians, who were Semites of Turkic origin.

The northerners called the new southern arrivals “black-headed people”.

Some historians have suggested that the Sumerians were a West Asian people and others that they were North African. However, recent genetic studies of skeletal DNA have shown that the Sumerians were from India, possibly related to the original (Dravidian?) settlers of India.

These southern newcomers were far more advanced than the northerners.

Unlike northern pottery, Sumerian pottery was of a refined and sophisticated character, which indicated that they had invented the pottery-wheel by this time, and, by extension, the wheel for transport purposes.

The Sumerians also had developed the world’s first system of writing, using cuneiform symbols, that were used for recordkeeping of various kinds. In addition, they had also invented a 60-base number system, the so-called Sexagesimal System for counting purposes.

Recent findings also tell us that the Sumerians loved Beer! They made and consumed it in large quantities.

Were these new arrivals escaping persecution in their homeland? Or fleeing wars/invasions? Or simply looking for a better life? Clearly, the marshy region south of Baghdad was not migrant heaven. The Sumerians must have migrated there out of some compulsion.

Whatever the reason, a few centuries after they first arrived, by 3200 BC or so, their population had swelled to about 50,000, and the world’s first city, URUK, came into being on the banks of the Euphrates. The city featured a great encircling wall and had temples, great columns, and public art.

In a short time, several nearby cities also came up, as seen in Figure 4. The dashed blue line shows an ancient branch of the Euphrates that has since dried up. By 3000 BC, the entire region of Southern Mesopotamia was firmly under the control of the Sumerians. It contained several independent city-states like Uruk, Eridu, Kish, Nippur, Lagash, and Ur.

Figure 4: The first cities of Sumer

Figure 4: The first cities of Sumer

On the left, shows a statue of Sumerian King Gudea discovered at Lagash, dated about 2100 BC. On the right is the famous statue discovered from Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh dated about the same period (2000 BC).

What is striking in both figures is of course the similarity of wearing the upper garment draped over the left shoulder and under the right arm. The IVC figure, whose arms are missing, may have had a similar pose to King Gudea with palms clasped in front.

Much as we would like to explore further the fascinating history of Mesopotamia, we must regretfully turn our attention to the main topic, astronomy.

Sumerian Astronomy

How should one evaluate an ancient culture from the astronomy point of view? Three basic items are agreed upon by all scholars.

Firstly, we look for accurate knowledge of the length of the year, and consequently, an accurate seasonal calendar.

An accurate seasonal calendar is a requirement for agrarian societies; in nomadic societies, not so much. For a nomad, the exact length of the year is of no great use and hardly of importance. In the Islamic tradition, for example, the year is of 354 days – fully 11 days shorter than the actual year.

Secondly, we look at how a culture manages the two conflicting cycles of the Sun and the Moon.

The yearly cycle of the Sun takes 365.25 days, while the monthly cycle of the Moon is of 29.5 days. These two numbers are not quite compatible. You can fit 12 Moon cycles (12×29.5=354 days) in a year and still have 11 days left over.

So, if your lunar months are numbered 1-12, then the first year will start with Month-1, no problem. Three years later, it will have lagged behind by 3×11=33 days, so that the year will now start with Month-2, and so on. We see this occurring with the Islamic month of Ramzan, and indeed the entire Moslem Calendar, which shifts forward perpetually by 11 days every year.

In a desert climate, this may not be such a big deal. But in a more varied climate, it can lead to chaos. For example, people used to celebrate Christmas in December will eventually be forced to celebrate it in July.

Ideally, one would like the year to always start in the same month, and festivals and holidays to fall at the same time of the year.

Can the two cycles of the Sun and the Moon be brought into the agreement? A culture capable of solving this problem is to be rated highly on the astronomy index.

Incidentally, the modern calendar resolves this problem by simply abandoning the Moon. It is a purely Solar calendar. The modern month-lengths (Jan=31 days, Feb=28, March=31, etc.) are set arbitrarily and do not match the Moon cycle.

Thirdly, and this goes even higher on the astronomy scale, one looks if the culture has made the subtle discovery that there are two kinds of years – Tropical and Sidereal – which differ by only 20 minutes!

The Year is defined as the time it takes the Sun to go around the Zodiac, and return to the origin. There are however two ways to define an origin: 1) the Equator as origin; 2) some Star as the origin.

Using the equator, we get a year length of 365.2422 days (tropical year), while using a star it comes to a slightly larger value of 365.2564 days (sidereal year) – a difference of 20 minutes.

This small but important difference is due to an effect called Precession and is of great consequence in astronomy. A culture that is aware of Precession, and is able to measure it accurately, gets high marks.

Figure 5: Ancient Sumerian Star Chart

The ancient Sumerians score high on all three points.

They had an accurate calendar. The Sumerians used the Moon cycle to count 12 lunar months as a year. To make up for the difference between the lunar and solar years they inserted an extra month in the calendar once every three or four years. The early Egyptians, Greeks, and Semitic peoples copied this calendar.

They recorded positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars, month-after-month, year-after-year, for centuries together. These have been found in clay-baked tablets, whose decipherment by Jesuit scholars Strassmaier, Epping, and Kugler was a most significant achievement in modern archeology. The data in these tablets show that the ancient Sumerians were aware of the Precession of the earth.

An interesting question is this – did the Sumerians discover all this in Mesopotamia? Or did they bring all (or some of it) from their original homeland? If the latter, then Sumerian astronomy may be nothing but an offshoot of the astronomy of the Indus Valley, about which we know nothing at the present time.

The Sumerians Vanish

The northern region of Mesopotamia was referred to as Akkad. In an earlier period, the Sumerians appear to have marched northward with their armies and taken over Akkad, and a mingling of races, language, and culture occurred.

Sometime later, the reverse happened, as the Sumerians were overwhelmed by mass migrations of Semitic people from the north into their southern lands, followed by direct invasions by Akkadian Kings around 2270 BC.

The Sumerian language was now relegated to sacred rituals, and understood only by scholars and scribes, while Akkadian took over the countryside. The native Sumerian rule did come back briefly, about 2100–2000 BC, before reverting back to the Akkadians.

In the new social structure, the military element consisted of Akkadians, while the Scribes and Scholars were Sumerian.

In the centuries that followed, it appears that poor agricultural practices increased soil salinity, and reduced agricultural produce in the south, which greatly reduced the population there (due to migration). Did some of these people migrate back to India? A good question.

The last king of the Akkadian Empire died in 2193 BC. and Mesopotamia went through a century of unrest, with different groups struggling for control, including mountain tribes from Iran (the Guts).

And here we come to the second mystery – into the unstable region of Mesopotamia arrived, a few centuries later, another mysterious people called the ‘Kaldu’.

The Chaldeans

The Chaldeans were a migrant group of people that moved into the region of Southern Mesopotamia starting around 1600 BC. By 1000 BC, they had established their kingdom and their power even extended over Babylon for a short period of time.

The timing of their arrival in Mesopotamia coincides with another event, which can lead us to some speculation. The demise of the Indus Valley Civilization occurred from about 2000 BC to 1500 BC. Historians often speculate what happened to the IVC people. The standard theory is that they migrated eastwards, into the Gangetic Plains.

Is it possible that some of the IVC folks migrated westwards (as shown in Figure 6)?

Figure 6: IVC Migration

These newcomers to Southern Mesopotamia were even more advanced, astronomically speaking, to the existing Mesopotamians of the time. This advanced astronomy featured the following:

  1. The planets were not merely observed, but Tables were created to predict their future or past positions. There were two kinds of tables – Lunar and Planetary, with numerous advanced parameters.
  2. Star positions were now given in longitudes and latitudes, using degrees and Signs (30-degree intervals).
  3. The variable movement of the Sun was known
  4. Sun and Moon were called Sha-mash and Sha-sin.
  5. Apart from the solar day, they also defined a lunar day.
  6. They made use of the Gnomon (vertical stick) whose shadow is used to calculate astronomical parameters.
  7. They had defined time-cycles of 60, 600, 3600, and 432,000 years.

All these features of the ‘new’ astronomy in Mesopotamia are very closely related to Indian astronomy.

The most striking of these are: 1) the names of the Sun and Moon in Chaldean (above), have matching Sanskrit terms (Shamash for Sun, and Shashin for Moon); 2) The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years; 3) A Lunar day, called Tithi, is central to Indian astronomy; 4) Longitudes are measured in Signs (Rashi – 30 deg intervals).

Also, some names in Mesopotamia, and some words, bear an uncanny resemblance to Tamil. Words like Ur, Elam or Arrashi-ilu (King’s servant) can be instantly recognized by people who understand Tamil.

To summarize, there are 5 items of interest to us regarding the Chaldeans:

  1. The origin of the Chaldeans is a mystery to this date. All that is known is that they were not native Mesopotamians.
  2. The timing of their arrival into Mesopotamia (1500 BC-1000 BC) matches closely the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization (about 1500 BC).
  3. Their choice of a settlement place, in the remote marshy south-eastern corner of Mesopotamia, which is the closest location to the Indus Valley, is remarkable. It hints that they must have originated from the east of Mesopotamia.
  4. They were experts in Astronomy and Astrology. Indeed, the word ‘Chaldean’ came to mean Astrologer.
  5. Their Astronomy was unique and formerly unknown in Mesopotamia. It represented a major advancement over that existing in Babylon at the time. This new astronomy in Mesopotamia has several direct and unquestionable links to Indian astronomy.

Mystery Summary

The history of Mesopotamia, and its possible link to Ancient India, is a fascinating area of research. Recent skeletal DNA analysis of the ancient Sumerians points to a definite Indian link.

The circumstantial evidence in our possession leads us to propose, very humbly, the following points for consideration:

The Indus Valley people (not all, but some fraction) migrated to Southern Mesopotamia in two waves: 1) the first around 4000 BC; 2) the second during the collapse of the IVC, around 1500 BC.

The former were the Sumerians, and the latter the Chaldeans.

Closure

The Indus Valley script has not yet been deciphered. Can we look at ancient Sumerian for clues?

To be continued…

Featured Image: Science News

Explore Wonders, Mysteries, and Misconceptions in Indian Astronomy  Part III, III, IV

This Series was first published on India Facts.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. Indic Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Glory of Lord Kameshwara- IV: Creation through Maatrika-s

Glory of Shri Kameshwara Part IV: Creation Through Maatrika-s

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which is a part of Satapatha Brahmana of Yajur Veda tells us how the Vedas and other scriptures manifested. It says that Vedas (and all scriptures) have sprang forth from the mouth of the Supreme Being via his breath.

Now, it doesn’t mean to say what it literally says. What it actually means is – from the Vak of the Supreme Lord, manifested all these Vedas. In other words, it is the vaikhari Vak of the Supreme Being which pronounced the Vedas out. Vaikhari Vak works through the medium of breath, hence here the breath of the Parameshwara is said to be the origin of the Vedas.

“sa yathārdraidhāgner abhyāhitāt pṛthag dhūmā viniścaranty eva vā are ‘sya mahato bhūtasya niḥśvasitam etad yad ṛgvedo yajurvedaḥ sāmavedo ‘tharvāṅgirasa itihāsaḥ purāṇaṃ vidyā upaniṣadaḥ ślokāḥ sūtrāṇy anuvyākhyānāni vyākhyānani | asyaivaitāni niśvasitāni ||”

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2:4:10)

“As clouds of smoke proceed by themselves out of a lighted fire kindled with damp fuel, thus, verily, O Maitreyî, has been breathed forth from this great Being what we have as Rig-veda, Yagur-Veda, Sama-veda, Atharvâṅgirasas, Itihâsa (legends), Purâna (cosmogonies), Vidyâ (knowledge), the Upanishads, Slokas (verses), Sûtras (prose rules), Anuvyâkhyânas (glosses), Vyâkhyânas (commentaries). From him alone, all these were breathed forth”.

The Mokshadharmanusasana Parva which is an upa-parva of Santi-Parva of Mahabharata has a discourse by Vyasa about the creation of the Universe. He clearly states that the entire universe including its mobile and immobile creation takes its form and shape from the blueprints which are hidden in Vedas.

Even the great rishis and their names pre-exist in Vedas and later on when they take birth, their names are assigned as per the blue-print present in Vedas.

“vēdaśabdēbhya ēvādau nirmimītē sa īśvaraḥ|
nāmadhēyāni carṣīṇā̃ yāśca vēdēṣu sṛṣṭayaḥ||”

(MBH 12:232:26)

“Indeed, the Īśvara, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas”.

Vedas are nothing but a collection of mantras (also called riks, yajus, samans, etc., depending upon their groupings). All, these mantras are a combination of matrikas (alphabets) alone. This is why the Para-Vak (the Tripurasundari) who is also called Matrika-Devi, is said to be the mother of all the Veda Mantras in Suta Samhita.

“mantrāṇāṁ mātr̥bhūtācha mātr̥kā paramēśvarī |”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:18)

“The Mātr̥kā Paramēśvarī is the mother of all mantrās”.

We have already seen the non-duality between Shiva (Prana) and Shakti (Vak) in previous sections. The same is being affirmed once more by Suta Samhita as follows. It says that as Shiva appears as two viz. Shiva and Shakti; similarly the Vakrupi Matrika Devi also appears in the twofold form.

“yathā parataraḥ śambhurdvidhā śaktiśivātmanā |
tathaiva mātr̥kā dēvī dvidhābhūtā bhavētsvayaṁ ||”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:21)

“As the Supreme Shiva appears in twofold form as Shiva and Shakti, in the same manner, Matrika Devi also exists in the twofold state”.

“ēkākārēṇa śaktēstu vāchakaśchētarēṇa tu |
śivasya vāchakaḥ sākśhādvidyēyaṁ padagāminī ||”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:22)

“Through one form she denotes Shakti and through another one she denotes Shiva. Therefore, she who manifests through the word (pada), the path to attain the paramapada is verily this vidya alone”.

Vedas are called “śabda-braḥman” because they are the manifested form of the vaikhari aspect of Lord Shiva’s Vak and have manifested through his breath. And this vaikhari is the fourth part of Purusha, where his three parts are higher than the fourth one. This is why Shiva is the Turiya-Brahman and is higher than the “śabda-braḥman”.

However, through these Vedas alone we can know him, that is – Shiva created Vedas by transforming his Vak from apada (speechless state of silence) to pada (speech i.e., śabda-braḥman); and by using the knowledge contained in these Vedas, one transcends this state and reaches the apada state and attains oneness with the Turiya-Shiva.

One who understands this division, transformation, and reverse-transformation, verily understands the truth.

“apadaṁ padamāpannaṁ padaṁ chāpyapadaṁ bhavēt |
padāpadavibhāgaṁ cha yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati ||”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:23)

“That shiva who is beyond the reach of speech hence is called apadam (no-speech i.e., turIya), with the help of his own Shakti assumes the state of pada (word i.e., speech) and pada (word or speech) again leads us to that state of apada (Shiva beyond speech). One who understands this division of apada and pada he verily sees (i.e., he becomes Brahman)”.

Originally the vāg-rūpī Tripurasundari remains in the unmanifest state of Brahman and there she has no distinction from Shiva. That state of Shiva (or Shakti) is the state of original mātrika viz. a-kāra; and then Shiva desires to become many and from that original letter “a” (akāra) expands other syllables. The same is mentioned in Aitareya Aranyaka of Rig Veda as cited below.

“yō vai tāṁ vāchaṁ vēda yasyā ēṣa vikāraḥ sa saṁprativit |
akārō vai sarvā vāk saiṣā sparśōṣmbhirvyajyamānā bahvī nānārūpā bhavati ||”

(Aitareya Aranyaka 2:3:6:14)

“He who knows this speech of which this (the mahaduktha) is a development, he is clever. ‘An (akāra)’ is the whole of speech, and manifested through different kinds of contact (consonants) and of wind (sibilants), it becomes manifold and different”.

This is the actual meaning behind the phrase of Bhagawad Gita (BG 10:33) verse which says “aksharanam a-karo ’smi |” which means, “among all the letters I am the letter A”. The same is voiced by Suta Samhita about the Matrika-Devi (who is identical with Shiva) as follows.

[Well, the purport on BG 10:33 is not over with this revelation alone; here we have only discussed why akara is chosen among all the alphabets and the reason is clear that akara is the origin of all the alphabets. Now, the second part – that is – the Bhagawad Gita verse (BG 10:33) speaks about Lord Shiva alone, would be clear by the end of this article, when we see how from the vowels and consonants Shiva creates the entire universe.]

“ēvaṁ lōkōpakārāya padaṁ bahuvidhaṁ bhavēt |”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:27)

“The one single Matrika for the benefit of the worlds became many”.

Now, let’s see how Matrika divides herself into manifold combinations. What we hear is the vaikhari part of supreme vak alone. This vaikhari alone produces the Vedas and creates all the mobile and immobile creation.

The monosyllable Matrika (akara) first divides herself into the vowels and assumes the form of sixteen vowels viz. – “a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, r̥, R̥, l̥,L̥, ē, ai, ō, au, aṁ, aḥ”. It then divides herself further into the five types of vargas viz. – “ka-group, cha-group, ṭa-group, ta-group, and pa-group” and further divides herself into twofold form as “antastha and ūṣma”.

“aṁśa ēkaḥ padasyāyamupakārāya dēhinām |
bhavētṣhōdaśadhā pūrvaṁ panchadhā cha dvidhā punaḥ ||”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:25)

“The one part (i.e., vaikhari) of the maatrika’s does the favor of all transactions in the embodied beings. It first divides itself into sixteen types (i.e., sixteen vowels including short and long ones), and then divides itself into five types (i.e., the five vargas) and then divides into two-fold type (antastha and ūṣma)”.

Then Matrika Devi transforms herself from sixteen vowels to thirty-two based on nasal and non-nasal forms. Then the thirty-three consonants manifest from her and finally, she exists in the twofold form of – vowels and consonants.

“padasyāṁśōparaḥ pūrvō dvātriṁśadvēdamāpnuyāt |
trayastriṁśatpunarbhēdaṁ tathaiva dvividhaṁ bhavēt ||”

(sūta saṁhitā 4:4:26)

“Matrika’s sixteen forms of vowels become thirty-two based on the division nasal (sānunāsika), and non-nasal (niranunāsika). Then it again becomes thirty-three consonants, therefore it remains in twofold form viz. vowels and consonants”.

These Matrikas (letters) manifest as the Matrika Goddesses of Hinduism. The seven primary vowels (excluding the long ones) viz. – “a, i, u, ē, ō, aṁ, aḥ” are the ones spoken as the Supreme “sapta matrika” i.e, seven mother goddesses viz. – “brāḥmī, vaiśnavī, māhēśvarī, kaumārī, indrānī, vārāhī, and nārasimhī”.

Scriptures also classify Matrikas into eight forms and call them “ashta-matrikas” i.e, eight mother goddesses. These are the manifestations of the seven primary vowels (excluding the long ones) plus the samaṣṭhī (collection) of all the vowels grouped together (ach) viz. – “a, i, u, ē, ō, aṁ, aḥ” + “ach-group”. These eight divine goddesses then are named as – “brāḥmī, vaiśnavī, māhēśvarī, kaumārī, indrānī, vārāhī, nārasimhī and chāmuṇdā”.

These Eight matrikas are again said to group eightfold ways amongst them and thus from those combinations get created the sixty-four methods of worship, sixty-four sciences, and sixty-four classes of “yōginī” goddesses. Thus states the Brahmanda Purana regarding these sixty-four entities.

“catuḥ ṣaṣṭyupacārāḍhyā catuḥ ṣaṣṭikalāmayī mahācatuḥ-ṣaṣṭikoṭi-yoginī-gaṇasevitā |”

(Lalita Sahasranama Stotra: Verse 58)

“She who should be worshipped with sixty-four offerings, She who has sixty-four sciences, and She who is being worshipped by the sixty-four kōti yōginīs in the nine different charkas”.

These are classified as follows:

  • catuḥ ṣaṣṭyupacārāḍhyā (8×8=64 upacharas) i.e., she manifests as sixty-four methods of worship – These sixty-four plus another eight making a total of seventy-two ceremonies (rituals) are enumerated by the legendary Shakta-Advaitin saint Bhaskararaya in his work titled, “varivasya rahasya” in the Puja related chapter.
  • catuḥ ṣaṣṭikalāmayī (8×8=64 Kalas) i.e., she manifests as sixty-four sciences – Bhaskararaya in his commentary on Lalita Sahasranama stotram enumerates all the sixty four sciences as follows: – (1) The knowledge of the eighteen letters (lipi), (2) Power of writing, (3) Reading quickly (4) Knowledge of different languages (5) Composing verses in them (6) Gambling (7) to (14) The four Vedas and four auxillary Vedas and related texts, (15) to (26) twelve auxiliary sciences (27) Tantra (28) Purana (29) Smriti (30) Poetry (31) Rhetoric (32) Drama (33) to (38) The six – pacifying, controlling, attracting, enmity, ruinging by magical practices, and killing (39) to (45) The art of opposing the effects of motion, water, sight, fire, weapons, speech, and semen (46) to (49) Training Elephants, Horses, Chariots and men (50) to (53) The knowledge of divination by bodily marks (sāmudrika), gymnastics, cooking, and power over snakes (garudavidyā) (54) Suṣira (55) Ānaddha, (56) Ghana (57) Creating illusion (indrajāla) (58)dancing, (59) Singing, (60) alchemy, (61) Knowledge of gems, (62) Thieving (63) Knowledge of the pulse (64) Disappearance.
  • mahācatuḥ-ṣaṣṭikoṭi-yoginī-gaṇasevitā (8×8=64 goddesses) – The eight great mothers (mtarikas) like Brahmi etc., each has Eight shaktis like Akshobhya etc., who are the parts of them. Hence they are eight multipled by eight hence sixty four. Each group has further a billion of bands as their followers i.e., “gaṇas”. Each of these 64 kōti (class) of yōginīs thus become sixty-four koti (crore) yoginīs. They serve the supreme mother goddess Lalita Tripurasundari.

Further from the thirty-three consonants of the “varṇamālā” the Matrika Devi (Tripurasundari) creates the Thirty-Three gods viz. Eight Vasus, Eleven Rudras, Twelve Adityas, and Indra and Prajapati.

“sā virāttrayastriṁsadakṣara bhavati | trayastriṁśadvai dēvā |
aṣtau vasava ēkādaśa rudrā dvādaśādityaḥ prajāpatiścha vaṣatkāraścha ||”

(Aitareya Brahmana 2:10:37)

“The Virāj is of thirty-three syllables; the gods are thirty-three – eight vasus, eleven rudras, twelve Adityas, Prajapati and vashatkāra (Indra)”.

Since vowels are superior to consonants, these Mātrikā-dēvīs (sapta or ashṭa mātrikās) which represent the vowels are superior to other gods created through consonants. This is metaphorically explained in the below verse from Aitareya Aranyaka which compares Vowels with ātmān and consonants with the body.

“tadvā idaṁ br̥hatīsahasraṁ saṁpannaṁ tasya yāni vyanjanāni tachcharīraṁ yō ghōṣaḥ sa ātmā ya ūṣmāṇaḥ sa prāṇaḥ |”

(Aitareya Aranyaka 2:2:4:01)

“This then becomes perfect as a thousand of Brihatî verses. Its vyanjanāni (consonants) form its body, its ghōṣaḥ (svaras i.e., vowels) the Soul, its sibilants the air of the breath”.

(Therefore the interpretation of Shankara-Bhashya on Bhagawad Gita verse (BG 9:25) by Vaishnavas is totally wrong. We’ll cover that in detail separately in Appendix (Section 9) of this article)

Now, coming back to the point – Since all the other deities are the various manifestations of these Thirty-Three gods alone as per the below cited verse from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; all the other deities are also created through a combination of Thirty-Three consonants only.

“sa hovāca — mahimāna evaiṣām ete | trayastriṃśat tv eva devā iti | katame te trayastriṃśad iti | aṣṭau vasava ekādaśa rudrā dvādaśādityāḥ ta ekatriṃśad aindraś caiva prajāpatiś ca trayastriṃśāv iti ||”

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3:9:02)

“Yâgñavalkya replied: ‘They are only the various (further) manifestations of them, in reality, there are only thirty-three gods’. He asked: ‘Who are those thirty-three?’ Yâgñavalkya replied: ‘The eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Âdityas. They make thirty-one, and Indra and Pragâpati make the thirty-three”.

Similarly, the Pancha-Bhutas, Jnanendriyas, Karmendriyas, Tanmatras, and all the tatwas are the manifestation from the alphabets of the “varṇamālā” only. Sri Vidya tradition followers and mantra shastra experts would know the corresponding verses from scriptures. We’ll not discuss those details here since we are going to discuss the entire creation theory through “akśarās” in the below section using the secret messages of Maheshvara Sutras!

To be continued…

Explore Glory of Shri Kameshwara Part III, III

The article has been republished from the author’s blog with permission.

This Series was first published on India Facts.

Featured Image: jaimahadevaa

Ram Mandir and the Difficulties of Being Hindu

The Ram Mandir of Ayodhya is not just an ordinary roadside temple that was brought down and re-constructed. The Babri Masjid built on top of the temple is a reminder of the terrible vandalism and conquest the sub-continent has faced. The verdict on this long, drawn out dispute turning more political was and is a sad commentary on the unwillingness of a few politically motivated groups to allow for an amicable settlement. It has therefore become the rallying point for a reassertion of the Hindu faith after centuries of suppression. Raghu Ananthanarayanan and a few others from Ritambhara try to listen to various Hindu voices and understand this issue from an Indic lens.

RA: This question of ‘just an old temple’ is not correct, but it has been a burning issue for 500 years or more. The facts are very clear, there was a temple below the Masjid and it has been called as the janmasthan even in the Muslim records. There was a continuous attempt to reclaim the sacred spot. The first set of people who tried to do that were the Sikhs because the place was very dear to Guru Nanak ji. My point is that it is not just a Hindu sentiment.

GI: So, it would be wrong to say that Hindutvadis were the ones trying to reclaim and agitate?

RA: Hindutva is a political response to a much deeper wish. No political action takes place in a vacuum. The freedom struggle did not happen because a few stood up, the nation was behind Gandhi ji and others. This perspective must be kept in mind else we would just have a political debate.

AR: As a Hindu I want to look at this issue from every angle possible to understand and process some of my own experiences. Like, being witness to the whole Mandal reservation issue during my school days and then witnessing the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement which resulted in the Babri Masjid being brought down, I experienced threats for the first time; because I stood up for some of my Muslim friends when they were being heckled at in Hyderabad’s public transport.  I remember being called a ‘Muslim lover’ and was warned of bad consequences by some of my Hindu friends, the ones who were the loudest during the Mandal agitation and later in the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement time. These stigmas are still with me loud and clear.

HV: 8 years back I experienced the frustration of a group of businessmen who came together in a forum called Hindu Economic Forum in Wayanad. The common thread was that they were targeted to be driven out of business Muslim traders. I sense the same pain and even more in the Hindus of Kerala and elsewhere over various religious issues. The unarticulated hurts and the way they are downplayed; the betrayal of the political class post independence through minority appeasement and so on, are some of the issues I am sitting with.  While people may only react on the political dimension of the temple, it is also important to have a wider understanding of the longer-term civilizational issues.

RA: Listening to both these reflections, 3 things strike me:

  1. The civilizational vs. political question in my opinion cannot be separated, and it has to be looked at in tandem.
  2. Why does the average educated Hindu find it so difficult to own up to his or her Hindu identity? What comes in the way of an average Hindu taking his/her Hinduness seriously?
  3. I feel that there is a fear that if the Hindus are serious about their identity, they will somehow be vengeful and act in the same way as they have been acted upon. I think this view is held by liberal Hindus also.

GI: Are you talking about Hindu assertiveness?

RA: Yes, assertion is looked as violence, which is not correct. So, I am interpreting this as a fear of any form of Hindu assertion. And this fear I am saying this fear exists in both the minds of the non-Hindus and the Hindus.

GI: This is what you called Apad dharma?

RA: Yes. I think the average Hindu is saying “I have learnt many tricks to avoid asserting myself over the centuries. Because if I assert myself I am caught in a deep double bind. In the colonised past, if I had asserted my Hinduness it would definitely attract reprisal. And if I did not assert it and held on to the feeling of being a Hindu very strongly, I would have to own up to my pain and victimhood of being oppressed”. I think the escape from this very difficult double bind is to hold on to a watered down and highly colonised ‘Sashi Tharoor idea of Hinduism’ (STH).

GI: But as a Hindu I can’t seem to escape it, because it keeps coming back to haunt me?

RA: Until it is fully resolved it will not go away. And if it is not resolved in meaningful ways, it will keep alternating between an escapist acceptance of violations or a mindless reactivity. This will happen within the individual or get reflected in the polarization among the Hindu community. One set will be the STH variety and the other the extreme elements of the Sangh Parivar.

AR: I think I understand what you mean. My ancestors were fort keepers on the Konkan coast, near Goa. We were driven out once the Portuguese invaded and we often call ourselves ‘cowards’ despite being Kshatriyas. There is a struggle in me that swings between various feelings when I own up to my heritage: helplessness, shame, rootlessness, anger and a deep dilemma of how do I find a meaningful way to anchor myself to an important part of my identity.

RA: I am interpreting your dilemma as apAd dharma– where you do not fight because the fight will be detrimental to you in the long term. You may withdraw and avoid the conflict with the underlying assumption that sooner or later you will come back and reclaim your heritage. But this never happened. A kshatriya’s job is to die for one’s cause and if you do not then the core of your kshatriya identity will be questioned. The worst thing for a soldier is to die with a weapon stuck to his back. It is glorious to die with a weapon pierced through your chest.

AR: I guess it is the Indian way to retreat or give space when one does not agree with the other. Isn’t it?

RA: Yes, Buddhists and Hindus both do that.  In fact, there is an interesting story where a group of people go to Buddha and tell him about two preceptors who are fighting in the matter of the doctrine, so they wanted his help to solve it. Buddha listened to both of them and said, “I do not know who is right, so those who feel that this person is correct, follow him and those who feel the other person is correct, follow him. And come back after practicing the teachings for a few years.” Now, I cannot imagine something like this taking place in Abrahamic religions. I think one of the more serious double binds is “if I act from my idea of giving space to the other, I am damned (because the other is focused on colonizing my space); if I don’t, I become like the other and I am still damned”.

Many communities in India who claim their roots elsewhere but are settled somewhere else in the country, feel exiled from their roots. In Niligris, where I reside, the Badagas ran away from Tipu Sultan and settled here. They find it very hard to speak about their heritage with pride.

GI: Even conversions like the ones faced by Goan inquisition also fall under this category?

RA: Yes, the Hindus were tortuously converted. The violence was extremely horrific. I know a Jesuit priest who gave up the robes when he understood the history and truth of his family.

GI: The famous Konkani folk song Hanv Saiba Poltoddi Vetam, Dalmulea lognak(u) vetam, is a song where the person singing wants to cross the river to attend a wedding of a friend Damu (a metaphor for a Hindu) where it is safe and away from the Portuguese. “I am prepared to give everything I own like my bangles and gold to the boatman to take me across the river.” It is a very sad song at one level but Bollywood adapted it into the movie Bobby and made it a happy one.

RA: Wow! Do you see how the Apad dharma mind works! Many communities in South India have songs about their homes , deities and temples they left behind. In Tamil Nadu, many local communities hold the Mahabharata Koothu tradition as the story of exile and Draupadi as the symbol of immense resilience.

AR: Our original kuladevatas are in Goa but now the family temples are in Kerala where we ran off.

RA: Yes, the murtis would be waiting to go back home. There is a case about Rama of Ayodhaya also; apparently the original murtis of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are in Sadguru Samartha Narayana Maharaj Ashram, Karnataka.

GI: What do you mean when you say ‘the deity is waiting to go back home?’

RA: The deity is a projection of my deepest aspiration. The importance is not on the form but the qualities projected on to them. The kuladevatas will have the family’s aspirations and qualities. Each of them have their own sampradAya, rituals, celebrations and negative qualities that need to be controlled etc. Dr Meenakshi Jain has written eloquently about this process of protecting deities from destruction in the “Flight of the Deities”.

PN: The shadows of the Gods are never spoken of. By ‘shadow’ I mean that the God/Goddess enables me defeat the asura within and outside. What do I do when I know that the deity my community carries around has been defeated? Then there is a loss of faith on the one hand, smoldering and long standing hurt as well as a yearning to reclaim the heritage on the other hand.

GI: The Ram Janmabhoomi could have been solved or given back to the Hindus long back had it not been for the political interference. Even the Muslims said ‘it doesn’t matter to us’ because they don’t have a specific area for worship except for the Kabba. KK Mohammed one of the people involved in excavation the site has written about this.

RA: Yes, we never just pray to an ‘idol’. The temples are sacred sites chosen by some Rishi or Siddha, who felt the energy of a deity. The temple, murtis and puja are a way to keep that energy alive. Imagine the energy of hundreds of people thriving and multiplying in that location? You cannot completely wipe this aspect of the Hindu culture and say ‘pray at home’ or ‘pray anywhere.’ We don’t actually worship the deity; we worship the power at the sacred site, and give a form to this power.

GI: Do we project our negativities or qualities on certain asuras? Just like we project on the Gods?

RA: The asuras also have a specific form and some who have fought Shiva, Vishnu have a generic form. Take Ravana for instance. He is an extraordinary person well-versed with music and astrology, he is also a great scholar and obviously capable of relentless practice. But he assumes that the personal self (called asmita in Yoga) is the source of the power. This causes a loss of integration within – represented by ten heads, twenty arms and so on. Shiva and Vishnu are all archetypal forms and energies in us waiting to be awakened. For example, at the feet of Nataraja we have the dwarf asura apasmAra, he is a sign of avidyA and is ignorant of his true nature. His face is always lit up in any Nataraja form because Shiva helps him remember his true nature of ‘I am Shiva’. Thus, every God has an asuric form to overcome.  Hence, to reclaim my divine self, I need to hold my tradition regarding my kuladaivam in pride.

AR: We have traced our kuladevata back to Goa, Our family deity is Ramanatha, who is supposedly a form of Shiva.  But for many branches our family settled around Udupi, the istadevata is Krishna.  I believe that the settler-warriors gave their allegiance or adapted their traditions in line with the prevailing power structures/traditions of the land which sheltered them.   In all this there is a deep yearning to find the mula nAga, or the origin. Unfortunately, these questions are never answered fully.

RA: This is apAd dharma in action, your family finally settles in Udupi but you cannot claim that you are Shaivites because you are guests in this land. So, you pay allegiance to the deity of the land but you still hold your deity close to your heart and continue the quest. You need to be true to your dharma, that whoever is giving you food or shelter, you need to be dharmic towards them. It is beautiful and holds pathos at the same time.

(To be continued…)

(Image credit: ThePrint)

आयुर्वेद की कथा – द्वितीय भाग – चरक संहिता

आयुर्वेद को जानने के लिए वृद्ध-त्रयी का अभ्यास अनिवार्य है – चरक संहिता, सुश्रुत संहिता तथा अष्टांग हृदयम्। वृद्ध त्रयी अर्थात वह तीन ग्रंथ जो प्राचीन ऋषि-मुनियों ने लिखे हैं। इसी प्रकार से लघु-त्रयी है, जो बाद के काल के ग्रंथ हैं – शारंगधर संहिता, माधव निदान तथा भावप्रकाश!

चरक संहिता

चरक को भारतीय चिकित्सा विज्ञान का जनक माना जाता है। पहले भाग में हमने चरक द्वारा अग्निवेश तंत्र के पुनर्गठन और सम्पादन (compilation) के बारे में बात करी थी। जिसके फलस्वरूप चरक संहिता का निर्माण हुआ। उस काल में चरक ने इतने सुव्यस्थित ग्रंथ की रचना करी।

अग्निवेशे कृते तन्त्रे, चरक: प्रति संस्कृते।
यदिहास्ति तदन्यत्र यन्नेहास्ति न तत्क्वचित्। (च.सि.१२)

अर्थात अग्निवेश ने तंत्र की रचना करी परंतु चरक ने उसका प्रति संस्कार किया। यहाँ (चरक संहिता में) है तो अन्य कहीं हो सकता है, जो यहाँ नहीं है वह कहीं नहीं मिलेगा ।

चरक दो प्रकार के हैं: एक परंपरा का नाम है और दूसरा ऋषि प्रकति का उत्तम ज्ञान को प्राप्त व्यक्ति भी चरक है,  उन्होंने प्रज्ञा व्यक्तियों का एक बहुत बड़ा संगठन खड़ा किया, उसका नाम भी चरक है (जैसे शंकराचार्य एक परंपरा का भी नाम है जो उनकी पीठ से चलता है और समकालीन शंकराचार्य गुरु व्यक्ति रूप भी हैं) । क्योंकि ‘चरैवेति चरैवेति’, वे अनेक स्थानों पर जाते थे, सदा चलायमान रहते थे इसलिए उनका नाम चरक पड़ा । कई जगह वर्णन है की चरक और पतंजलि, दोनों एक ही हैं। जिन्होंने योगसूत्र लिखा है, उन्होंने ही अपना एक उपनाम चरक रखा है। चरक संहिता में उनके व्यक्ति विशेष पहचान के लिए कुछ नहीं मिलता है। किन्तु  इतिहास के अनेक ग्रंथ देखे जाएँ तो ये भी पता चलता है कि वह राजा कनिष्क के यहां राजवैद्य थे।

ये भारत की विशेषता रही है कि जो भी ग्रंथ लिखे गए वह ज्ञान को उपलब्ध ऋषियों द्वारा लिखे गए । चरक मुनि एक पारगामी बुद्धि के मुनि थे। इसीलिए चरक संहिता भी ‘अथ भूतो दयां प्रति’ अर्थात् सभी प्राणियों के प्रति दयाभाव से संकलित करी गयी।

चरक संहिता की रचना के कुछ एक हज़ार साल बाद ऋषि दृढ़वल ने उसका प्रतिसंस्कार किया । उन्होंने इसके 141 अध्याय किये। चरक पर कई विद्वानों ने, मनीषियों ने कार्य किया है। कई व्याख्याएँ जैसे चरक न्यास, जल कल्पतरु, चक्रपाणि रचित आयुर्वेददीपिका आदि बहुचर्चित हैं। प्रायः चरक संहिता पर 44 व्याख्याओं का वर्णन प्राप्त है।

ग्यारहवीं शताब्दी में चरक संहिता की सबसे प्रसिद्ध व्याख्या – आयुर्वेददीपिका – चक्रपाणि जी ने लिखी। उसी के आधार पर उन्हें चरक चतुरानन कहा जाता है। उन्होंने चरक संहिता की व्याख्या के लिए चक्रदत्त नामक ग्रंथ भी लिखा है। चक्रदत्त में आयुर्वेद का आपातकाल में (इमरजेंसी में) कैसे उपयोग हो सकता है, उसके प्रयोग बताये गये हैं। आयुर्वेद के तुरंत परिणाम देने के विवरण हैं।

इस संहिता से ज्ञान ग्रहण करने के लिए, सर्वप्रथम एक प्रज्ञावान मनीषी वैद्य के सानिध्य की, उनकी शरण की आवश्यकता होती है, जो चरक को समझा पाएँ। ग्रंथ, टीका व सम्बद्ध पुस्तकों का पठन व प्रवचन (वैद्य गुरु द्वारा) और पढ़ने की रीति – इन सबको समझने की आवश्यकता होती है।

चरक संहिता आठ स्थानों में विभक्त है- सूत्रस्थान; निदानस्थान; विमानस्थान; चिकित्सास्थान; शारीरस्थान; इन्द्रियस्थान; कल्पस्थान; और सिद्धिस्थान।

इन स्थानों में 120 अध्याय हैं – सूत्रस्थान-30, निदानस्थान-8, विमानस्थान-8, शारीरस्थान-8, इन्द्रियस्थान-12, चिकित्सास्थान-30, कल्पस्थान-12 एवं सिद्धिस्थान-12 अध्याय।

यह संख्या 120 इसलिए है क्योंकि मनुष्य जीवन के भी 12 सोपान हैं जो उसके उत्तरोत्तर क्रम हैं।

चरक, सुश्रुत, काश्यप,हारित, भेल इन सभी संहिताओं में 120 अध्याय हैं। 120 अध्याय क्योंकि मनुष्य का आयुष्य 120 वर्ष का (या कहीं-कहीं 100 वर्ष का) माना गया है, जिसे 10-10 वर्षों के बाँटा गया है। क्रमश: प्रत्येक 10 वर्ष में एक एक गुण कम होता जाता है। मनुष्य के जीवन में से एक एक कलाएं नष्ट होती हैं। जैसे चंद्र की षोडश यानी सोलह कलाएँ होती हैं जो कृष्ण पक्ष में एकएक करके कम होती हैं, उसी प्रकार मनुष्य शरीर से प्रत्येक 10 वर्ष में एक एक कला नष्ट/क्षरित होती है और 120 वर्ष तक शरीर के स्तर पर मनुष्य का जीवन पूर्ण हो जाता है ।

बाल्यं वृद्धि छवि मेधा तददृष्टि शुक्रविक्रमो ।
बुद्धि कर्मेन्द्रियं चेतो जीवितं दशतो रसे॥

शारंगधर मुनि ने जीवन के 12 पड़ाव बताये हैं । प्रयेक पड़ाव 10 वर्ष का होता है। प्रत्येक 10 वर्ष में शरीर में परिवर्तन घटित होता है। इसीलिए रसायन प्रयोग का, औषधियों का बहुत महत्व बताया गया है क्योंकि उन परिवर्तनों के होने पर हम अपने शरीर को स्वस्थ रख सकते हैं, अंत समय तक टिका सकते हैं। (इस पर पंडित विश्वनाथ दातार शास्त्री जी ने गहन शोध कार्य किया है)। इसी प्रकार ज्योतिष शास्त्र की विशोंतरी दशा, आयुष्य की 120 वर्ष की गणना करती है।

चरक संहिता के 120 अध्यायों में शरीर की रचना, मनो-मस्तिष्क की रचना, बुद्धि की रचना समझाने का बहुत सारा कार्य चरक मुनि ने कर दिया है जो निर्देशन केवल बुद्धत्व को प्राप्त ज्ञानी ही कर सकता है। चरकसंहिता में विषयों का यथास्थान सन्निवेश होने के कारण ही यह संहिता चिकित्साजगत में महत्त्वपूर्ण स्थान को प्राप्त है और चरक मुनि भारतीय चिकित्सा के जनक कहे जाते हैं।

चरक ने मुख्यतः काय चिकित्सा के ऊपर कार्य किया है। “काय इत्याग्निभिधीयते” – काय अर्थात शरीर की अग्नि !

आयुर्वेद का सिद्धांत है – अग्नि रक्षति रक्षितः – जो व्यक्ति अपने अंदर की अग्नि की रक्षा करता है, अग्नि उसकी रक्षा करती है। वह दीर्घायु होता है।

चरक संहिता में कहा गया है – सर्वेपि रोगा: जायन्ते मंदे अग्नो – सब रोग मंदाग्नि के कारण की होते हैं। पाचन की खराबी के कारण होते हैं। इसलिए अंदर की अग्नि का रक्षण करना चाहिये, उसका जतन करना चाहिये। दीपन, पाचन, अजीर्ण पर बहुत विस्तार से लिखा गया है।

चरक संहिता के आठ स्थानों में तीन स्थान विशेष रूप से उल्लेखनीय हैं – सूत्रस्थान, निदानस्थान और चिकित्सास्थान।

सर्वप्रथम सूत्रस्थान है। सूत्र किसे कहते हैं ? ‘अल्पाक्षरं असंदिगधं सूत्रं सूत्र विदो विदु’ ये सूत्र की व्याकरण में परिभाषा है। अर्थात अक्षर थोड़े हों और अर्थ बहुत गहरे व बहुत व्यापक हों। यदि चरक संहिता के अंग्रेज़ी में अनुवाद का प्रयास करें तो कई पुस्तकें लिखी जायेंगीं क्योंकि पूरी संहिता सूत्र में लिखी गयी है। संस्कृत की किसी भी गहन बात को भी सूत्र में बताने की परंपरा रही है । अनेक प्रकार का विचार करके, संदेह न हो ऐसी असंदिग्ध रीति से बताना सूत्र का लक्षण होता है।

सूत्रस्थान में विभिन्न अध्यायों में विभक्त, आहार-विहार का, सृष्टि का, जीवन का वर्णन है। वैसे तो चरक के सूत्र इतने अमूल्य हैं कि प्रत्येक सूत्र को रत्न की तुलना दी जाती है, फिर भी पचीसवाँ और छबीसवाँ अध्याय पूर्ण रूप से जानने और पालन करने योग्य है । पचीसवाँ अध्याय यज्जःपुरुषीयोऽध्याय है। उस काल में आयुर्वेद प्राज्ञ पारगामी बुद्धि वाले साधनारत जनों की परिषद हुई, इसीलिए इसका नाम यजः पुरुषीय अध्याय है। उस परिषद में जो भी मुख्य यज्ञ पुरुष थे, उन सबके पक्ष के सूत्र उनके नाम से इस अध्याय में संग्रहित हैं। उस परिषद में मंथन हुआ, चिंतन हुआ और परिणाम स्वरूप पचीसवें और छबीसवें अध्याय के सूत्रों का गठन हुआ। इस अध्याय के सूत्रों में एकएक द्रव्य के महत्व को बताया गया है। उदाहरण के लिए सबसे अच्छा, श्रेष्ठ धान्य कौन सा है, सबसे कनिष्ठ धान्य कौन से है, श्रेष्ठ और कनिष्ठ दूध कौन से है, आदि । उदाहरण के लिए – लोहितशालयः शूकधान्यानां पथ्यतमत्वे श्रेष्ठतमा भवन्तिअर्थात सूखे धान्यों में लाल चावल श्रेष्ठ होते हैं । सूत्रस्थान में 152 वस्तुओं की सूची दी गयी है । खाद्य और पेय अर्थात खाने और पीने वाली इन वस्तुओं की प्रत्येक श्रेणी में श्रेष्ठ कौन से है और कनिष्ठ कौन से है, ये स्पष्ट रूप से बताया गया है।

दूसरा उल्लेखनीय स्थान निदानस्थान है। जहाँ रोगों के कारण का विवरण है । निदान अर्थात रोगों के कारण ! रोगों के कारण  ज्ञात व  अज्ञात दोनों होते हैं और दृष्ट व  अदृष्ट भी । रोग की उत्पत्ति कैसे होती है? मनुष्य शरीर में रोग कैसे हो जाता है ? आदि । अणुर्हि प्रथमं भूत्वा रोग:पश्चात् प्रवर्तते” – जो रोग आरम्भ में अणु के समान होता है, उसी में बाद में बहुत वर्धन हो जाता है । इसलिए विवेकशील व्यक्ति को पहले ही अपना ध्यान रख कर, रोग ही न हो ऐसी जीवन शैली अपनानी चाहिये। चरक मुनि ने ऐसी जीवन शैली का दिग्दर्शन किया है। केवल दिनचर्या, ऋतुचर्या कैसी हो यही नहीं, अपितु मान्यता कैसी हो; बुद्धि कैसी हो – सत्व प्रधान, रजस प्रधान अथवा तमस प्रधान; जीवन कैसा हो, इन सब पर चरक मुनि ने बहुत विवरण दिया । व्यक्ति जितना रोगों के कारण को जानेगा उतनी अच्छी चिकित्सा कर पायेगा। रोगों का कोई एक कारण नहीं होता, अनेक कारण होते हैं इसीलिए चिकित्सा भी बहुत सी होती है। प्रत्येक रोग की केवल एक चिकित्सा नहीं है जो एक ही औषधि से ठीक हो जाए (उदाहरण के लिए ज्वर, जो एक लक्षण है, उसकी दवाई देने से ज्वर लाने वाला कारण समाप्त नहीं होता)।

चिकित्सास्थान में सर्वप्रथम रोगप्रतिरोधक क्षमता की वृद्धि करके शरीर और मन को बल प्रदान करने वाली रसायन और वाजीकरण विधाओं को दो पृथक्-पृथक् अध्यायों में वर्णित करके तत्पश्चात् ज्वर आदि अन्य रोगों का निदान-चिकित्सा और पथ्यापथ्य सहित विस्तृत वर्णन किया गया है।

चिकित्सा तीन प्रकार की होती है तत्व  चिकित्सा, देव विपाश्रय चिकित्सा और युक्ति विपाश्रय चिकित्सा ।

रोग व्याधि के कारण से आते हैं जिसमें पूर्व जन्म के कर्म व्याधि के रूप में आना भी एक कारण है – “पूर्वजन्म भूतं पापं, व्याधिरूपेण बाधते । इसलिए आयुर्वेद में इतने प्रकार से चिकित्सा बताई गयी है, नक्षत्र से भी कैसे चिकित्सा करनी है, ये बताया गया है। सूक्ति रत्नाकर  व्याधि के निराकरण के लिए बताता है  तत्शान्ति: औषधे दाने जपे होमे अर्चनादिर्भि:”, इसलिए आयुर्वेद में होम, मंत्र, औषधि, मणि सभी का चिकित्सा रूप में वर्णन है।

चरक में बताया गया है कि किसकी चिकित्सा करनी है और किसकी चिकित्सा नहीं करनी है। सात्विक लोगों की चिकित्सा को प्राथमिकता दी जानी चाहिए क्योंकि वह उत्तम कार्य करते हैं। उनका शरीर अच्छा होगा तो वह अच्छे कार्यों में उसे लगाएंगे।

डॉक्टरों द्वारा ली जाने वाली hypocritic oath जो अंतिम साल में ली जाती है, ऐसी शपथ का वर्णन पहली बार चरक ने किया था व उसका क्रियान्वन किया था । चरक संहिताओं में यह शपथ उपदेश अंकित है कि अंत में जब विद्यार्थी पढ़ कर जाता है तो उसे किस तरह से रहना है, चिकित्सा के चार पाद क्या हैं, वैद्य के चार गुण क्या है, औषधि के चार गुण क्या हैं, परिचारक के चार गुण क्या हैं!( सूत्रस्थान, खुड्डाकचतुष्पादोऽध्यायः)

चिकित्सा के संबंध में चरक में सूत्र है की चिकित्सा के समान कोई पुण्य नहीं क्योंकि एक व्यक्ति को आप यदि निरोगी कर देते हैं तो उसे एक नया जीवन दे देते हैं और नये जीवन के दान से बड़ा कौन से दान है? वैद्य ये दान देता है, इसलिए वैद्य से बहुत बड़ी अपेक्षा होती है, उससे एक उत्तम जीवन की आकांक्षा होती है। चिकित्सा करने का ये अवसर कभीकभी किसीकिसी को ही मिलता है और जो इस अवसर को छोड़ देता है, वह रत्न को छोड़कर पत्थर उठा लेने वाले के समान है। चरक संहिता इतना ज्ञान घटित करने वाला शास्त्र है।

आयुर्वेद में चरक संहिता को पवित्र व अति वंदनीय ग्रंथ माना जाता है। वैद्य उसकी परंपरा के पालन का जतन करते हैं। किन्तु भारत में भी अब चरक को जानने वाले कम ही हैं क्योंकि वह इसके महत्व से अनजान हैं। ऋषि मुनियों से मिले इस अभूतपूर्व ज्ञान को केवल उपदेश व ऐतिहासिक मान कर ही रह जाते हैं।

सुश्रुतो न श्रुतो येन, वाग्भटो येन वाग्भट:।
नाधितश्च चरक येन, स वैद्यो यम किंकर:॥

सुश्रुत जिसने सुना नहीं, वाग्भट्ट जिसे वाग्भट्ट (कंठस्थ) नहींचरक का जिसने चिकित्सा उपक्रम पढ़ा नहीं, वो वैद्य वैद्य नहीं, यम का दूत है।

आगे हम वृद्ध-त्रयी के सुश्रुत और वाग्भट्ट की बात करेंगे।  

(क्रमशः)

(Image credit: keralatourism.org)

Shri Jagannath In The Month Of Kartika: Radha Damodara Besha

As per the Puranas, the month of Kartika is considered the most pious of all the Hindu months. It is mostly revered with dedicated worship by the Hindus to Goddess Lakshmi and Shri Vishnu.

Any offering or Vrata done during the month of Kartika is said to yield the best and maximum results. Post the full-moon day of the month of Aswina famously known across India as Sharat Purnima and popular in Orissa as Kumara Purnima, up to the next full moon on Kartika Purnima, the entire period in between is marked as the holy Kartika Masa in the Odia calendar.

In the Jagannath temple at the Moola Dham in Puri, the month of Kartika brings into the Srimandira a lot of hustle-bustle and some special rituals. At the temple of Shri Jagannath, the Trinity is all set to give a glimpse of their special wardrobe by showcasing six important Besha / Veshas during the Kartika month and the bonus addition of Nagarjuna Beshas this year.

Jagannath as Damodara

From the eleventh day of the waxing moon of Aswina till the tenth day of the waxing phase of the moon of the month of Kartika, the temple of Shri Jagannath stands a witness to a series of unique Nitis- procedures.

The month of Kartika is also known as the Radha Damodara Masa-month, dedicated to the amorous Rasa Leela of Radha and Krishna. Damodara is another name for Shri Krishna.

In the Srimandira, Shri Jagannath gives an audience to his devotees as Damodara along with his childhood love interest Shri Radha. Shri Jagannath appears in the ‘Radha Damodara Besha’ for the first twenty-five days in the Kartika month.

नमो देव दामोदरानन्त विष्णो ,
प्रसीदप्रभोदुःख​-जालाब्धि-मग्नम् ।
कृपा-दृष्टि-वृष्ट्याति-दीन​म् बतानु
गृहाणेष माम् अज्ञम् एध्य् अक्षि-दृश्यः ॥

namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo ,
prasīdaprabhoduḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
kṛpā-dṛṣṭi-vṛṣṭyāti-dīnaḿ batānu ,
gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ

–  Shri Damodarashtakam- pada VI

Meaning: O Supreme God, I offer my sincere prayers to You. O Damodara! O Ananta ! O Vishnu! O Master! O my Lord, be pleased upon me. Please keep showering Your glance of mercy upon me.  Deliver your grace on me, your poor ignorant foolish devotee,  who is immersed in an ocean of worldly sorrows. O God! Become visible to my eyes.

There are many opinions regarding the initiation of the Radha Damodara Besha at the Srimandira. According to Puranic mention, Akrura the emissary of Kansa while on his way to Mathura had witnessed the Radha Damodara Besha while taking bath in the river Yamuna.

This Besha was introduced in the Srimandira in the 12th century and thereafter the love tales of Shri Krishna and Shri Radha became famous and accepted throughout India.

Some researchers are of the opinion that the Radha Damodara Besha was introduced by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century.

Shree Jagannath is considered a composite figure of both male and female combined in one. He is also the representative of Shree Radha and Sri Krishna. This spirit has been discovered in Radha Damodara Besha.

The Lore Of Rai Damodara

Yet another lore related to the Radha Damodara Besha introduces us to Rai. According to the story, one day the Bada Panda– the chief servitors in charge of the rituals of the Holy Trinity, invited Shri Jagannath to his house. Shri Jagannath accepted the invitation of His servitor and paid a visit to his house.

The Bada Panda had performed the Sraddha ritual for his forefathers and had cooked special food. The Bada Panda and his wife humbly offered Shri Jagannah the food with extreme dedication. Shri Jagannath accepted the food offering and was very pleased with the hospitality of His servitor.

The Lord offered to fulfill any wish the Bada Panda desired. The Bada Panda was extremely happy and expressed his desire of getting his daughter Rai married to the Lord. Shri Jagannath agreed to the proposal and married Rai. After staying with Rai in marital bliss, Shri Jagannath wanted to return to Srimandira. Shri Jagannath left Rai,  who was pregnant at the Bada Panda’s house under the care of her parents.

One day Shri Jagannath, knowing about food cravings during pregnancy, asked the pregnant Rai if she desired to eat something special. Rai quickly replied that she desired to sit on His lap and receive worship alongside. She also expressed her desire to relish coconut, banana, sprout, khai-parched paddy, Nadia kora –coconut ladoos, and all the goodies that were offered as prasad to Him.

Shri Jagannath knew that Rai would have to please Goddess Lakshmi for the same desire to be fulfilled. He knew, once Ria would please Goddess Lakshmi, she would grant Rai a boon and then Rai could ask Goddess Lakshmi to allow her to sit on Shri Jagannath’s lap and receive worship in the month of Kartika. Rai followed Shri Jagannath’s instructions and got engaged at pleasing Goddess Lakshmi.

The Goddess was extremely impressed by the sincere and dedicated worship of Rai and offered her a boon. Rai asked for Damodara. Goddess Lakshmi was taken aback. She was disturbed and felt helpless, but she had to grant the boon.

Rai requested Goddess Lakshmi to allow her the company of Damodara only in the month of Kartika. Goddess Lakshmi was relieved but as Kartika was the most sacred Hindu month, Goddess Lakshmi also wanted her share of worship along with Shri Jagannath. She requested Rai to give her five days of the month with Shri Jagannath.

Rai agreed to the proposal.  From the eleventh day of the waxing moon of Aswina, up to one day before the Ekadasi of the waxing month of Kartika, Rai remains with Shri Jagannath in the Srimandira in the Radha Damodara Besha which is also known as the Rai Damodara Besha.

Rai satisfies her food cravings by partaking in the Ballava and the ‘Baala Dhupa’- the food offerings made to Shri Jagannath during this period. These twenty-five days from the Aswina Sukla Ekadasi to Kartika Sukla Dasami the devotees chant ‘Jaya Radha Damodara Govinda’, in praise of Shri Radha and Shri Krishna’s companionship.

नमस् ते ‘स्तु दाम्ने स्फुरद्-दीप्ति-धाम्ने,
त्वदीयोदरायाथविश्वस्यधाम्ने ।
नमो राधिकायै त्वदीय​-प्रियायै ,
नमो ‘नन्त​ऌईलाय देवाय तुभ्यम् ॥
 
namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne,
tvadīyodarāyāthaviśvasyadhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai ,
namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam

Shri Damodarashtakam , Pada VIII

Meaning: O Lord Damodara, my prayers to you and to the radiant sacred rope which binds Your belly. I then offer my prayers to Your belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. I humbly bow down to Your most beloved Srimati Radharani, and I offer all prayers and gratitude to You, the Supreme Divine, who displays unlimited pastimes.

Post the twenty-five days as Radha Damodara, on the day of Kartika Ekadashi that is the twenty-sixth day, the Deities adorn a new costume. This look is popularly known as the Thia Kia Besha or the  Lakshmi Narayana Besha.

This new outfit and décor of Shri Jagannath and His siblings also confirms His return to Goddess Lakshmi bidding Radha Rani adieu for yet another year.

The Radha Damodar Attire

In Radha Damodar Besha, Lord Shree Jagannath and Lord Shree Balabhadra are put on the Trikachha. The attire has a combination of silk, gold, flowers, and some handmade special accessories.

They also hold a pair of golden Nalibhuja – Pipe like coverings in their hands. The Chula-hair made out of bamboo and fabric is placed on the Trimundi. Thereafter the Chandrika is placed on the Chula completing the cranium decoration.

The Deities are decorated with different types of gold ornaments such as Ear-Rings on the ears, Odiani on their waist; Tadaki, Chandra, Surya, Chita on their foreheads and necklaces. They are also ornamented with flowers.

The Gods are draped in different types of clothes such as the silken ‘Pata’, ‘Phuta’, ‘Srikapada’, ‘Paharana’, ‘Bali’, ‘Adharabala’, & ‘Uttaria’.

Bala Bhogo

The month of Kartika has special food offerings on the list. The most important is the Bala Bhogo. Previously only ‘Ballav’- food offering ritual during the Sakala Dhupa’- food offering ceremony was held during this Besha.

In the subsequent period another Bhoga namely ‘Bala Dhupa’ was added to this Besha. Bala Bhoga offerings are made in Sri Mandir from the eleventh day in the bright fortnight of Aswin to the Full moon day of Kartika. As per folklore, the special bhogo was introduced by the Gajapati Maharaja (King) of Puri.

Bala Bhogo

Bala Bhogo derives its name from the word Bala -meaning hair. As per the legend, once the King of Puri found a string of hair in the garland adorned by Shri Jagannath.

The king was taken aback and inquisitively asked the servitor in charge of the Gods dress up – Taliccha Mahapatra about the hair in the garland. Taliccha Mahapatra informed the king that the hair belonged to Lord Jagannath.

Gajapati Maharaja was amused with the answer but did not believe Taliccha Mahapatra. The Maharaja of Puri in order to satisfy his curiosity went on to the extent of checking it on the Lord’s head. Upon seeing some strings of hair, the king started pulling it to verify if it was original.

To his utter surprise, blood drops dripped from the Lord’s head. Seeing this king was astonished and regretted his act. He apologized to Shri Jagannath and the servitor for the grave mistake he had committed. The King returned to his palace feeling like a sinner with resentment.

At night, Shri Jagannath appeared in Gajapati Maharaj’s dream and ordered him to begin a special Bhog by the name Bala Bhoga (Hair Offerings).

The Bala Bhogo is a combination of Khai or parched paddy flakes, puffed rice, roasted wheat kernel, roasted flax seeds, roasted channa with skin, thinly sliced coconut seasoned with Salt, and garnished with crushed ginger.

Jagannath Sanskruti is unique and so are the rituals. The intent of these rituals is to give acceptance to all and be accepted by all. This universal acceptance makes Shri Jagannath, the true Lord of the Universe.

The goal is to raze the heaviest self nurtured burden-ego. The Radha Damodara Besha signifies the spirit of love and devotion. It elaborates the power of dedication to create a passive and undisputed understanding of sharing, spreading, and celebrating love.

Let Jagannath Swami be the purpose of my vision.   

Note: This year due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Radha Damodara Besha and the Kartika Masa rituals at the Moola Peetha of Shri Jagannath at  Puri Dham is being done without the participation of devotees.