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भारतीय सांस्कृतिक विचारधारा – भाग १

भारतीय संस्कृति विश्व के पुरातन संस्कृतियों में से एक है। कई विद्वान भारतीय संस्कृति को विश्व की सर्वाधिक प्राचीन संस्कृति मानते हैं। भारतीय संस्कृति चीन, रोम, मिस्र, यूनान, सुमेर की संस्कृतियों से भी प्राचीन मानी जाती है। यह संस्कृति व सभ्यता प्राचीन होने के साथ साथ सदैव समृद्ध भी रही है। विज्ञान का क्षेत्र हो या राजनितिक या कलात्मक, भारतीय संस्कृति सदैव से हर क्षेत्र में अग्रणी रही है। हम अपने इतिहास का अवलोकन करें, तो हमें ऐसे कई लिखित तथ्य मिल जाएंगें, जिससे यह ज्ञात होता है की हमारी सभ्यता और संस्कृति कई मायने में ऐतिहासिक समृद्ध रही है। इसी ऐतिहासिक सांस्कृतिक विचारधारा ने भारत को आज भी समस्त विश्व में एक परिचय एवं नाम दिया है, जिसके कारण हमारे राष्ट्र को कला, विज्ञान, राजनीती एवं कई अन्य विषयों की जननी माना जाता है।

संस्कृति हमारे संस्कारों की परिचायक होती है, जो कई वर्षों के जीवन मूल्यों से बनती है। इस कारण हर सभ्यता की एक सांस्कृतिक पहचान होती है। संस्कृति ही सभ्यता की भी जननी होती है, जो जीवन व्यापन करने के क्रिया से जानी जाती है। भारत की संस्कृति और सभ्यता ने न केवल जीवन शैली के बारे में विश्व को बताया है, अपितु विज्ञान एवं गणित के क्षेत्र में भी इसका योगदान अतुलनीय है। कई ऐसी खोज, जो भारत में हज़ारों वर्ष पहले की जा चुकी थी, उसे पाश्चात्य दुनियाँ ने बाद में जाना और समझा।

वेदों एवं उपनिषदों में विज्ञान को धर्म का अभिन्न अंग माना गया है। वेदों को ज्ञान के सिद्धांत स्रोत के रूप में कई वैज्ञानिक खोजों और आविष्कारों का आधार बनाया गया है। विज्ञान के सन्दर्भ में ज्ञान की खोज उस वक़्त के परिपेक्ष्य में भी बहुत ही आधुनिक थी। आज के अधिकांश खोजों को वेदों, पुराणों एवं उपनिषदों में संदर्भित किया गया है, एवं उनके अस्तित्व के प्रमाण भी उपलब्ध हैं। कई वैदिक अवधारणाएं विज्ञान पर ही आधारित हैं। उदाहरणार्थ वास्तुशास्त्र का विज्ञान वेदों में उपलब्ध है। बौद्धों का स्तूप एवं पुराने मंदिरों की वास्तुकला इसके द्योतक हैं। ये विशाल एवं सटीक संरचनाएं इस बात को स्थापित करती हैं कि हज़ारों वर्ष पहले भी भारत की वास्तुकला बहुत विकसित थी।

आयुर्वेद को सनातन विज्ञान कहा जाता है। आयुर्वेद को दुनिया भर में स्वीकार किए जाने वाले पारंपरिक चिकित्सा पद्धतियों में से एक माना जाता है। भारत में औषधीय पौधों का एक विशाल भंडार है जिसे पारंपरिक चिकित्सा उपचारों में उपयोग किया जाता रहा है। पारंपरिक प्रणालियों में वैकल्पिक दवाएं जड़ी-बूटियों, खनिजों और कार्बनिक पदार्थों से प्राप्त होती रही हैं, जबकि हर्बल दवाओं की तैयारी के लिए केवल औषधीय पौधों का उपयोग किया जाता है। चिकित्सा की इस पारंपरिक प्रणाली में प्राचीन ज्ञान अभी भी पूरी तरह से नहीं खोजा गया है। आयुर्वेद की उत्पत्ति प्राचीन काल से भी प्राचीनतम है। भारत मसालों और रत्नों की सबसे प्रसिद्ध भूमि रही है। आयुर्वेद का समृद्ध इतिहास रहा है; हालाँकि, इसके प्रति दृष्टिकोण में कुछ कमियाँ थीं, जिसने इसके विकास को चिकित्सा प्रणाली के क्षेत्र में कुछ बाधित कर दिया। उस वक़्त भी कुछ हर्बल दवाओं के सक्रिय घटक ज्ञात नहीं थे, और आज भी कई दवाओं को अभी भी अपने सक्रिय घटक के लिए और अन्वेषण की आवश्यकता है।

चिकित्सा के क्षेत्र में भी आयुर्वेद में न केवल औषधियों का वर्णन है, अपितु शल्यचिकित्साओं का भी विस्तारपूर्वक वर्णन है। कुछ जड़ी-बूटियों के साथ सोना, चांदी, जैसे धातुओं का सम्मिश्रण का उपयोग भी वैदिक काल में किया जाता था, जो आज भी किया जा रहा है। भगवन श्री धन्वंतरि आज भी महान चिकित्सक के रूप में जाने एवं पूजे जाते हैं। इधर कुछ समय से जटिल गणित के लिए आयुर्वेदिक गणित की भी उपयोगिता बढ़ गई है। यह बहुत ही सरल भी है। राजा अशोक द्वारा भारत में बनाए गए कई पत्थर स्तंभों में संख्या प्रणाली के संरक्षित उदाहरण हैं।

रासायनिक विज्ञान के क्षेत्र में भी ऐतिहासिक भारत का विशेष योगदान रहा है। Sugar, Camphor जैसे शब्दों की उत्पत्ति संस्कृत से ही है। प्राचीन स्थलों पर खुदाई से धातु के टुकड़ों के अवशेषों का पता चलता है, जो यह स्थापित करता है की उस वक़्त भी इनका उपयोग किया जाता था। संयंत्र स्रोतों से रंजक बनाना, अलंकरण बनाने के लिए सजावटी चांदी, सोना और अन्य तकनीकों का उपयोग इत्यादि कई साक्ष्य यह सिद्ध करते हैं की रसायन विज्ञान का भी उस वक़्त उपयोग होता था।

Featured Image Credits: mensxp.com

A Case for Pashubali in the Light of Vamacara Tantra

Recently there was a judgment from the Tripura HC banning the ritual of pashubali in the famous Tripurasundari Mahavidya temple as well as all other Hindu places of worship in the state. In a series of such judgments starting from the Jallikattu to Sabarimala and now this, it’s evident to anyone with half a brain that only one faith is being targeted systematically and may I add, maliciously, perhaps perceived as soft and subject to the machinations of a heady cocktail of activism and reformation bug which afflicts many modern Hindus, including, and sadly, even judges.

What is alarming though is that many ordinary Hindus seem to support this, or claim that this fundamentally wrong and overall a good step, but since courts have not banned the Islamic sacrificial ritual of Qurbani during Eid hence it is discriminatory. That points at a bigger and more dangerous, and self-defeating error in the very thought process of Hindus in general. Clearly, a lot of us do not have much idea about the right method of judging the validity or otherwise of a traditional ritual, too influenced by simplistic ideas of social welfare and humanism as many seem to be. Not that these are wrong per se, but then any idea even the noblest one lifted out of context and applied universally becomes a retrograde and unthinking tyranny.

Pashubali in Tantra-s

There is evidence that at an earlier time pashubali was prevalent even in Vedic sacrifices, today however all that has been replaced by replicas of the actual process. So sacrifices that happen today are mostly in the Shakta temples, that too those where the Kalikula modes of worship is prevalent, particularly in Eastern India or Northern India like the famed Vindyavasini Durga temple in Vindyachala or this Tripursundari temple in Tripura. In the Tantric texts, which are more like manuals for sadhakas, bali is clearly sanctioned process without which the upasana of the devata is never complete.

It is imperative to understand here that the Hindu idea of deities is very different from the Abrahamic idea of a monotheistic God. A deity, for those who are unaware, is like a Divine Personality that has its own liking and disliking. So while we offer Tulasi to Visnu, we are required to give bel patra to Shiva and not the other way round. Every ritual, every ingredient used in the upasana is based on the requirements of that specific devata and is thus inviolable. The simpleminded question that comes up in some quarters, mostly from those who are superficially educated in the intricacies of Hindu upasana padhyati, about what would happen if one mixes things up based on whims and fancy, say offer Tulsi to Shiva instead of bel, and then the query is followed up with another superfice about how God can never be angry irrespective of what is offered or not etc is all a result of complete misunderstanding of this whole process of upasana. Of course, nothing will happen in the above mentioned theoretical eventuality of mixing up offerings except that the upasana will remain unsuccessful and bear no fruit. And this is where the shastras matter most, for they tell us how exactly one must proceed in order to advance in the worship of a specific deity in the Hindu pantheon.  Further, it is understood that the shastras are written by siddhas and masters who had perfected that mode of upasana and then clearly noted down for future generations how each path must be traversed.

That the upasana of certain forms of Shakti, particularly some of the Mahavidya-s or 10 great goddesses of the Tantric world, need a pashubali is most clearly stated in the Tantric texts. Even simple stutis to the Devi make note of this fact. In one praise to the Mahashakti in the form of Ugratara, the Devi is referred to as balihomapriya – one who loved bali and homa. A 16th century stotra to Devi Kamakhya (who is worshiped as Kalika) from the Yogini Tantra describes Her as chagabalitustha – one who is happy with goat sacrifices. Even the widely famed Devi Mahatyam or Chandipaath from the 6th century, which is arguably one of the most cardinal texts of ShaktOpasana records in the 12th chapter this verse where the Mahadevi speaks to the devotees:

jānatājānatā vāpi bali pūjāṃ tathā kṛtām| pratīkśhiśhyāmyahaṃ prītyā vahni homaṃ tathā kṛtam 

“I will accept with love the bali and puja that are offered and the fire-offering that is done likewise, whether they are performed with due knowledge (of sacrifice) or not.”

In the 10th century Kalikapuran which was composed around the original Shaktipitha of Kamakhya there is a whole section called Rudhiradhyaya or roughly translated, “blood episodes”, dealing with the exact process of how bali must be offered to various forms of the Divine Shakti in order for the sadhana and upasana to succeed. All these are an integral part of Vamacara Tantra. The text goes onto state that bali is the best of all methods of upasana for Chandika, Bradrakali, Ugrachanda, etc. forms of Shakti, for it brings about the swiftest results, and then the text exhorts all Tantric adepts to perform balividhan – as it is formally known – for it brings great delight to the Devi. A mahisabali to Chandika, it says, makes Her for a 100 years. From bringing the sacrificial animal to worship of the khadga invoking appropriate mantras, to the manner in which the blood has to collected and offered to the deity, every single detail is mentioned in texts. Accordingly in certain famous Tantric temples when a Mahisabali is conducted the first blood is not allowed to be spilled on the ground, but captured in a specific vessel kept nearby, and taken straight inside the garbagriha of the Divine Mother and offered to Her accompanied by mudras and mantras.

In paramparas, it is believed that a bali can also be done without the actual physical slaughter, where a ritual is performed and the appropriate pashu – one with specific signs on its body – is offered to the Devi. If correctly done, the animal won’t survive more than a week and the exact manner of death will depend on the form of Devi to whom the bali had been offered. To the uninitiated, it would look like a “natural” death, but for the initiated, it would bear all the signs of a bali. Sacrifice is integral to ShaktOpasana. Of course this kind of a ritual cannot be executed by the laity, it needs perfection and siddhi in the sadhana.

The text even speaks of the controversial subject narabali but with strict caveats of when such is to be done and who has the adhikara to perform this ritual. Historical documents mention that many of the Hindu kings who ruled over places like Assam and whose chief deity was Kamakhya would often bring the captured soldiers, especially higher-ranking enemy combatants from the Mughal forces, and offer them as a sacrifice to Kalika. Basically, an injunction from the Tantra shastra was used as a means of executing capital punishment for enemies of the state. Tripura temple too had a reputation for the same. While any kind of manslaughter is strictly outlawed in our modern world and rightly so, we still have state-sanctioned capital punishment for those waging heinous crimes against humanity. There was also the late medieval instance of thugs who would rob unsuspecting victims and sacrifice them at the Vindyachala mountains in Mirzapur district in the cave of Kali or Kalikoh. This, of course, had zero links to any textual sanction and was a clear violation of the strict rules set down. But this cannot be equated with pashubali that is done, for the world has not turned vegetarian yet, it never was and it never will. Till men continue to consume meat, and have an omnivorous diet, it is perfectly within the fundamental religious rights of the Vamacara Tantrika-s to offer pashubali to their beloved deity as well.

It must be mentioned in this context something that is widely accepted in the appropriate circles where Vamacara practices are in vogue, that it is not the flesh, bones, skin or anything else that is of any significance of the deity, but the blood which is considered as one of best transmitters of pranashakti and when offered to some forms of Devi delights and exalts Her, and She, in turn, blesses the sadhaka and also ensures a higher rebirth for the sacrificed animal. In Tantra, there is a vast substratum of practices handed down generations after generations in sampradayas which can be roughly called Vastu Tantra. Meaning the right ingredient, offered at the right time and at the right place to the appropriate form of devata, along with the exact mantra, can bring about a great and visible effect in the upasana, both internally and externally depending on the aim of the ritual, which can be experienced first hand without fail. For example suppose a certain Tantric ritual requires the upasaka to chant a mantra 1000 times using a coral mala then doing the mantra even one less or one more invalidates the sadhana, or changing the mala from coral to anything else also leads to a botched ritual with no result. Then the offering that must be made to the devata has to be exact and precise, not based on random likes and dislikes or whatever is available. So if a ritual says pashubali needs to be offered via a sacrifice, then it will only work when a bali is given, no other way can it succeed. For every ingredient in the world has its own guna – attributes – and like mystical chemistry when the right things are mixed in the right manner using the appropriate mantric force, it is bound to bring a clear, and unambiguous result. This principle lies at the very heart of all Tantric sadhana whether Dakshinacara or Vamacara.

Gentle Mother, Violent Mother

“How can a Mother take pashubali?”

A question which is often asked these days is why do we need to worship such forms or a variant of it that God is all kindness and love, He or She can never demand a sacrifice. Or that just bhakti to the Divine is enough, what need for all these “gruesome” methods? This is a naive question born from a cocktail of ignorance and Abrahamic thinking. People tend to confuse a deity with human measurements and human sensibilities which keep changing every few decades. From this stems another misguided query – how can a Mother (Devi) take pashubali? Of course, She can, and very often does. When the texts colloquially call Her mother, it is mainly a kind psychological device of upasana to create a meaningful mode of interaction with what is essentially a terrific non-human Force. Mahakali is a Mother for the capable sadhaka once She accepts the upasaka as Her child, but no amount of modern whitewashing can remove that blood-dripping Khadga from Her hands, nor change her lolling blood-red tongue or tame Her unstoppable vehemence. Destruction is as much a part and parcel of Her domain as creation. It is very very important to realize that a deity is not like a human being, neither in their perspective of the universe nor in their eternal presence. It is the upasaka who must adhere to the likes and dislikes of the devata as stated by the Shastras if one must safely approach the deity and not the other way round, that is, to expect the gods to bow before our limited mentality and weak emotionalism.

Pashubali

Hindus are perhaps the only race who have envisioned the divine in all kinds of forms, from the gentlest and sweetest to the most terrible and terrifying. Even the flute-playing Krishna of Bhagwatam turns into a most deadly Viswaroopa form, so fierce that a warrior of Arjuna’s caliber shrunk into fear seeing that terror-inducing Cosmic manifestation. The Devi Mahatyam describes the Divine Mahashakti as the gentlest of all, soumyati soumya, and yet the fiercest of all, ugratiugra. A cursory reading of the Chandipaath shows extremely graphic details of the warfare that Chandika waged against the Asuric force, including descriptions where Chamunda and the matrika-s drink the blood of asuras and dance intoxicated to the rhythm of battle drums. The Goddess of the text signifies a path of warfare, literal or psychological, and it is but natural that sacrifices would have been common in the worship of this deity. Not only pashubali but also various other heterodox and subliminal conditions were encouraged through the Vamacara route to re-enact that state of intense psychological tension, like as if in a war, in order to awaken certain latent states of human consciousness. Only those with certain mental makeup can appreciate and walk this route without self-destruction, others will recoil from horror and shock. This then is the true beauty and diversity of dharma that it includes all kinds of paths for every kind of person because what works for one may not work for another. Unity is not uniformity. And accordingly, each path and each approach has its own set rules and processes.

What about bhakti then? Bhakti is vital, but it is not enough. More important is Shraddha, a living faith in the efficacy of the path shown by the acarya-s and siddhas who gave walked before. The aim of the Tantric sadhanas was/is to attain mantra and tantra siddhi, finally ending in a siddhi or accomplished communion with the deity and for that exact steps are needed. Even in the modern biographical narrative about the Aghori Pratap Mody as mentioned in a series of books called Aghora – at the Left Hand of God, we find that even a hardcore vegetarian Vimalananda had to offer meat and blood when Smashan Tara appeared in front of him during a midnight ritual in a cremation ground in Bihar. If Bhakti were perfect nothing else would be needed, but such ideal bhakti is nowhere to be found in human beings, which is precisely why rituals and rules were made by the rishis and siddhas.

So any argument that Vamacara sadhana should replace balividhan is in direct contraction to the shastras and a clear recipe for failure of the sadhana. Even Ramakrishna who towards the end of his life ate very less, and never anything non-veg would still offer his namaskaras when a slice of meat from bali was presented to him, for that, according to the Kali upasaka, was prasada of the Divine Mother. Those who are disinclined for such practices can always try the dakshnicara route, but at no point can anyone else, least of all an outsider with zero direct experience or achievement in this path, has any adhikara to pass judgment on what to do and what not to do, or try and change the practice of pashubali, for these methods have been established by Siddhas who walked before, and by their very lives demonstrated how this path leads to the higher communion with the devata, such that the very body of the sadhaka becomes a yantra capable of holding Her infinite power, while the sadhaka’s mind becomes a constant mantra. In this manner the limited human is transformed into an unlimited living god and this indeed is mukti for the Tantra sadhaka.

Essential vs non- Essential Practice: The Judgment

Who decides what is essential? The shastras and the main devotees of the path, or those who have no faith on that path but are external activist-observers seeing things through their own agenda and bias. Why should their views be given more importance than that of actual practitioners?

The Tripura HC judgment claimed bali is not an essential practice based on a document by a British colonizer. How exactly and since when have aliens been given the right to decide what is essential and non-essential to a sampradaya? When did the Courts become experts in matters of religion? It is precisely for this reason that till mid-1800 all courts used to have pundits for interpreting the shastras. Unlike single-book religions Dharma is a broad umbrella of multiple sects and sampradayas tied via certain fundamental reverence for the spiritual geography of this land yet differ vastly in both actual upasana and doctrines. Water from the Ganga is revered by all sampradayas for their rituals, much as Shiva is regarded as Parameshwara from the core Vedic paths to the most heterodox Tantras, though the system and rituals have drastic variances in each case. Alcohol is to be totally shunned in a Vaidika path, while Tantra -s allow upasakas to offer consecrated alcohol to the deity. To claim that someone sitting in the high office of the State machinery or system has a complete understanding of these matters, of each path, is absurd and unnecessary. In fact, as long as life and public morality are not endangered commonsense dictates nobody has any business interfering or passing any judgment, moral or otherwise, on the beliefs and practices of any Hindu sampradaya. Is the court, going to ban all non-veg food now? How exactly does the piece of meat appear on the plate if not via slaughter?

Let’s briefly look at some of the main points mentioned in the judgment and analyze them.

The judgment says that pashubali is not essential, many devotees do not give pashubali, therefore it can be banned. Wait, many devotees may not offer flowers to the deity as well and do a simple namaskara, so next are you going to ban flowers?

In fact, given the vast range of options provided in Hindu mode of worship a Vaishnava may not go to a Shakta temple and vice versa, does that mean the deity itself is not essential then? Following this logic how long before the honorable courts declare the very idea of worshiping multiple deities, especially aggressive forms like Kali, Nrsimha, etc. as non-essential to Hinduism and ban the practice? This concept of essential practice seems more like monotheistic propaganda with strong retrograde colonial Christian influences, a tool that was widely used by padres to berate Hindu practices. Alarming that even after 70 years of independence in a country with 80% Hindu population such an outdated mode of thinking has percolated into the highest echelons of power.

The judgment further says the right to life must extend to animals, birds, insects and every living organism. Excellent, then please ban the use of all flowers, coconuts, sugarcane, etc. that are used in temples.  Apart from pashubali, the Tantra also recommends the offering of kushmanda and sugarcane as sacrifices to certain forms. But logically even these have life and if we must accord them the same status as human life, then ban their use as well, isn’t it? I am curious to know how exactly can we ensure the right to life for bacteria and microbes – stop breathing maybe? Sri Aurobindo had once made a remarkable observation that India has faced a severe decline in basic thought-power since medieval times. Decades after independence we do not seem to have made much progress in this department.

Then the honorable judges say animal slaughter causes diseases! So all non-veg restaurants are spreading disease then, and more remarkably no scientist has been able to figure it out yet? Truly amazing!

Further, the judgment says religious rights are subject to health and animal slaughter affects mental health. Where is the scientific study which has been conducted for this and says so? I mean with due respect everyone can have an opinion on everything, but not all opinions need be taken as sacrosanct especially those which are devoid of any evidence.

Judges also seem to have decided that the pashubali is a superstition and done out of “unsighted conviction”. This is a ridiculous atheist-speak, God itself is an “unsighted conviction” by this line of argument, so ban religion perhaps? How many can say they have seen a deity or a god, and some religions can even kill if you say you have seen their God.

A minority of devotees may not like this practice so their rights have to be respected. Well, a minority of devotees can stop going to a place they do not like, no? What is this whole twisted idea of making the majority beliefs subservient to the minority at all cost, especially when it is causing no direct harm to any other human of course? If someone claims for example that certain practices of Islam are offensive to their sensibilities and that they would like to go to Mosques but not do the namaz instead bring an idol of Nataraja and do abhisekam, should courts allow that, using the principle that minority “feelings” must be respected?

Amazement never ceases reading this judgment. We are now told that tourists will not like this. So temples must now become malls and museums or maybe zoos to attracts tourists? What business does anyone have inside a holy kshetram who does not believe in the deity and the path to the deity as mentioned in the shastras?

While legal experts can opine better on what is the next logical course of action and thankfully the State Govt. has decided to challenge this judgment, it is good to remember that the Prevention of Cruelty Act of 1960, makes it clear in section IV, that the act by itself does not apply to animal sacrifice:

“Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion.―Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.”

From a common citizens’ perspective, it looks more like a case of individual judicial activism rather than an objective application of the law.

Epilogue

Pashubali is finished in 95% of Shakta temples and only in some, where the deity is capable enough and loves the sacrifice, this practice is still in vogue. Given that millions of animals are eaten across the world daily and at no point in the future is the world going to turn miraculously vegetarian, there is zero reason to artificially impose a ban on this very essential practice of Vamacara upasana. It cannot be said whether the animal sacrifice will be stopped when the judgment is challenged in the SC, but thus far even reading this excellent piece of jurisprudence has definitely slaughtered every last iota of commonsense. Sarcasm aside, this judgment sets a very dangerous precedent and using this kind of questionable logic of “essential practice” viewed through a monotheistic prism, one can eventually end up banning all Hindu practices or even worship of deities. After all it is not essential for a Hindu to worship all deities, just like it is not compulsory to give pashubali but based on the upasaka and desires of the individual, so can that mean, in theory at least, someday our august judicial system has the power to ban worship of certain deities based on the whims and biases of the judge? Especially maybe they will make an argument against ugra forms calling them non-essential?  What safeguards are there to prevent such an eventuality because clearly the right to religious practice was completely ignored in the case of this order which reads more like a PETA activist’s personal diary, rather than a logical, measured and dignified legal document.

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(The article was earlier published on indiafacts.org in 2019)

గురుర్బ్రహ్మ

మనందరికీ తెలిసిన ఒక శ్లోకం ఇలా ఉంది. ‘గురుర్బ్రహ్మా గురుర్విష్ణుః గురుర్దేవో మహేశ్వరః –గురుః సాక్షాత్ పరంబ్రహ్మ తస్మై శ్రీ గురవే నమః’

గురువే బ్రహ్మ, గురువే విష్ణువు, గురువే మహేశ్వరుడు, అలాగే గురువే పరంబ్రహ్మ. అలాంటి గురువుకు నమస్కరిస్తున్నాను అని దీని అర్థం.

ఇక్కడ మొదటి వాక్యంలో ఒక బ్రహ్మ గూర్చి చెప్పారు. రెండవ వాక్యంలో మళ్ళీ బ్రహ్మ అంటూ చెప్పారు. ఈ ఇద్దరు బ్రహ్మలకూ తేడా ఏమిటి? దీనికి జవాబు చాలమంది చెప్పలేరు. అంతో ఇంతో వేదాంతశాస్త్రం చదివితే దీనికి జవాబు తెలుస్తుంది.

మనకు త్రిమూర్తులైన బ్రహ్మ, విష్ణు, మహేశ్వరులు తెలుసు. బ్రహ్మ అంటే నాలుగు తలల బ్రహ్మ, సరస్వతీదేవి భర్త, సృష్టికి కారణమైనవాడు. విష్ణువు అంటే వైకుంఠంలోనో లేక పాలసముద్రంలోనో లక్ష్మీదేవితో సేవలు చేయించుకుంటూ భూదేవిని పోషిస్తూ ఉండే దేవుడు. మహేశ్వరుడు అంటే కైలాసంలో పార్వతీదేవితో పాటు ప్రమథ గణాలతోపాటు నాట్యంచేస్తూ ఉండి సృష్టి, స్థితుల తర్వాత ముఖ్యమైన ప్రపంచం లయకు కారణమైనవాడు. సాధారణంగా మనందరికీ ఇంతవరకూ తెలుసు. మరి రెండో వాక్యంలోని బ్రహ్మ ఎవరని చెప్పాలి?

ఉపనిషత్తులు చాలా శాస్త్రీయంగా ఆలోచిస్తాయని చెప్పుకున్నాం. బ్రహ్మ, విష్ణువు, మహేశ్వరులు అనేవి మనం పురాణాల్లో చూసే పేర్లు. ఉపనిషత్తుల్లో వీరి ప్రస్తావన ప్రముఖంగా ఉండదు. అన్నింటికీ మూలకారణమైన పదార్థం లేదా తత్త్వం ఏమిటి అని వేదాంతంలో ప్రశ్న. ఈ మూలతత్త్వానికి పేరు, ఊరు ఉండదు. పేరు, ఊరు ఉన్నాయంటే అది ఆ అడ్రస్సుకే పరిమితమైనట్లు లెక్క. దేవుడనే ఒక పెద్దాయన ఆకాశంలో ఉంటూ ఏదో ఒకానొక రోజు సృష్టికి సంకల్పించి సృష్టి చేశాడు అని మామూలుగా మతాలు చెప్తూంటాయి. మరి సృష్టికి ముందు దేవుడు ఏం చేసేవాడు, ఎలా కాలం గడిపేవాడు, దేవుడు అని మనం అనడంలోనే ఈ దేవుడు పురుషుడు అని చెప్పకనే చెప్తున్నాం. మరి స్త్రీల మాట ఏమిటి? స్త్రీలను మనం కించపరిచినట్లే కదా? దేవుడు, అతనికి వ్యతిరేకంగా రాక్షసులు అంటూ ఉంటే దేవుడి రాజ్యానికి పరిధులు, పరిమితులు ఉన్నట్లే కదా? దేవుడు కూడా ఒక పరిమితమైన వ్యక్తియే కదా?  ఇలాంటి ప్రశ్నలన్నీ వేదాంతి సంధించుకుంటాడు.

వేదాంతి పరిశీలన తన స్వంత శక్తిని పరిశీలించడంతో ప్రారంభమౌతుంది. ఎవరైనా, ఏవిషయాన్నైనా పరిశీలించాలంటే ఆ పరిశీలించే వ్యక్తికి పరిశీలించే సామర్థ్యం ఉండాలి, లేబొరెటరీలో సామగ్రిలాగ పరిశీలనకు కావల్సిన సామగ్రి ఉండాలి. మనిషికి ఉన్న సామగ్రి తనకున్న చూసే శక్తి, వినే శక్తి, వాసన చూసే శక్తి, స్పర్శను గ్రహించే శక్తి, రుచి చూసే శక్తి. ఈ ఐదింటినీ మనం ఐదు ఇంద్రియాలు అని అంటూంటాం. ఈ ఐదు ఇంద్రియాలు తాము గ్రహించిన విషయాల్ని మనస్సుకు అందజేస్తూంటాయి. ఈ ఐదు ఇంద్రియాలు గ్రహించే విషయాలే సంపూర్ణ సత్యం అని చెప్పలేం. ఉదాహరణకు శంకరాచార్యులు ఇలా అంటాడు.

‘ఒక దీపం ఉజ్జ్వల కాంతితో వెలుగుతూ ఉంది. దానిపై ఒక కుండ బోర్లించబడి ఉంది. ఆ కుండకు కొన్ని రంధ్రాలున్నాయి. ఆ రంధ్రాల ద్వారా కొన్ని వెలుగు కిరణాలు బయటకు వస్తున్నాయి. ఆ వెలుగు కిరణాలే మన ఐదు ఇంద్రియాలు మనస్సుకు తెలియజేసే విషయాలు. వాటిని తెలుసుకున్న మనిషి ఓహో నాకు తెలుసు అనుకుంటున్నాడు’ (దక్షిణామూర్తి స్తోత్రం).

మనిషి చూపుకు పరిమితులున్నాయి. మనము ఒక band width లో ఉన్న కాంతిని మాత్రమే చూడగలమని సైన్సు చెబుతుంది. అలాగే శబ్దతరంగాల నిడివిలో అతిచిన్న భాగాన్నే చెవులు వినగలుగుతాయి. అలాగే మిగతా ఇంద్రియాలు కూడా. గబ్బిలాలకు అతీంద్రియ అవగాహన (extra sensory perception) ఉండడం చూస్తాం. అలాగే తుఫానులు, భూకంపాలు వచ్చినపుడు మనకంటే ముందు గాడిదలు సురక్షిత స్థానాలకు పరిగెడతాయి. దీన్నిబట్టి చూస్తే మనిషి ఇంద్రియాల ద్వారా తెలుసుకునే సత్యం అఖండమైన సత్యంలో అతిచిన్న భాగమే. ఇలా మొదలౌవుతుంది వేదాంతుల ఆత్మపరిశీలన.

ఇంతకూ మనం పైన చెప్పుకున్న శ్లోకంలోని ప్రశ్నకు జవాబు ఏమిటి? అన్నింటికంటే గొప్పదైన సత్యం అన్నింటికన్నా తెలివికలదై ఉండాలి. తెలివికలదే కాక అది పూర్తిగా జ్ఞానస్వరూపమై ఉండాలి. అది అన్ని కాలాల్లోనూ ఉండాలి. దీనికి ఒక ప్రారంభమూ, ముగింపూ అనేవి ఉండవు. అది ఎలాంటి పరిమితులూ లేనిదై ఉండాలి. గణితశాస్త్రంలో దీన్నే ఇన్ ఫినిటీ అంటారు. దీన్నే వేదాంతంలో అనంతం అంటారు. వీటన్నింటినీ కలిపితే మనకు మూడు పదాలు దొరుకుతాయి. ఒకటి అన్నికాలాల్లో ఉండేది, దీన్ని సత్యం అంటారు (మనం మామూలుగా కోర్టు పరిభాషలో వాడే సత్యం, అసత్యం కాదు). రెండోది జ్ఞానం. ఇది విశ్వంలో అన్ని జీవుల్లో ఉన్న జ్ఞానానికీ మూలకారణమై ఉండాలి. మూడోది అనంతం. అంటే ఇన్ ఫినిటి. దీన్నే ఉపనిషత్తులో సత్యం, జ్ఞానం, అనంతం అని చెప్తూ ఈ మూడింటినీ కలిపి ‘బ్రహ్మ’ అన్నారు. ప్రతి వస్తువుకూ ఏదో ఒక పేరు ఉండాలి కాబట్టి ఈ తత్త్వాన్ని బ్రహ్మ అన్నారు. సంస్కృతంలో ‘బృంహ’–అంటే అన్నింటికంటే పెద్దది అనే మూలం నుంచి ‘బ్రహ్మ’ అనే పదం ఏర్పడింది. ఇది పుంలింగమూ కాదు, స్త్రీలింగమూ కాదు. అలా అయితే నపుంసకుడైన వ్యక్తి అని విమర్శించే మూర్ఖులు ఉండవచ్చనే భావంతో ఈ బ్రహ్మ అనే తత్త్వం ఒక వ్యక్తి కానే కాదు, కేవల చైతన్యస్వరూపం అని వేదాంతం చెబుతుంది.

పై శ్లోకంలో చూసిన నాలుగు తలల బ్రహ్మ, విష్ణువు, శివుడు ఈ చైతన్యంలో కన్పించే రూపాలే. సృష్టి, స్థితి, లయ అనే ప్రక్రియలకి పురాణాల్లో మనం పెట్టుకున్న పేర్లే బ్రహ్మ, విష్ణువు, మహేశ్వరుడు. సృష్టి చేయడానికి జ్ఞానం అవసరం కావున ఆ జ్ఞానాన్నే సరస్వతి అన్నాం, ఆమెను బ్రహ్మగారి భార్య అన్నాం. ప్రపంచ పోషణకి వివిధ రకాల సంపద అవసరం, దీన్నే లక్ష్మీ అన్నాం. ఆమెను విష్ణువుకు భార్య అని చెప్పాం. అలాగే లయ అంటే ఈ సృష్టిని ముగించే శక్తి. ఆ శక్తినే కాళి లేదా దుర్గ అన్నాం, పరశ్వరుణ్ణి భర్తగా చెప్పాం. ఈ భార్యాభర్తలు, సంసారాలు నిజానికి చైతన్యంలో ఏర్పడుతున్న వివిధ మార్పులకి మనం పెట్టుకున్న పేర్లు.   గురువు ఇలాంటి చైతన్యం యొక్క జ్ఞానాన్ని మనకందించడం వల్ల గురువును పైవిధంగా ప్రశంసించడం మన సంప్రదాయం.

(This article was first published by IndiaFacts.)

(Image credit: manthanhub.com)

Padmanabhaswamy Temple: Where Art Blends with Science

Temples of India are living testimonies of a past where spirituality found stunning expressions through art and architecture. Every facet of a temple structure is suffused with aesthetics meant to evoke an emotional response that is beyond oneself. The sculptural and architectural forms of temples are guided by a vast body of design rules codified in the shilpa shastra and vasthu shastra texts handed down, and adapted to their present forms. These texts exemplify the heights of creative achievements of the past in the fields of art, architecture, science, and engineering; feats that remain extraordinary measured against even the best of present standards.

The Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram is a classic example of this. The temple stands in seven acres of land with four main entrances facing the prime directions. The principle deity of the temple, Sree Padmanabha Swamy, is in meditative Anantha-Shayana posture, reclining on Adi Sesha. The 18 feet long idol’s interior is filled with 1208 salagramas (sacred stones) transported from the Gandaki River in Nepal. The idol has an orientation precisely perpendicular to the East – West. Some of the additional deities of the temple are also positioned this way. The orientation along the east – west adheres to the agama design principles in the classical texts such as the samarangana sutradhara and tantrasamuchaya which recommend Vishnu temples fronting east such that the main deity of the temple is facing the rising Sun [1, 2]. Texts like manasara also maintain that the temples of Vishnu should have their main entrance facing the town. In olden days, the central part of Thiruvananthapuram city was primarily to the east of the Padmanabhaswamy temple.

A visual hallmark of the temple is the gopuram, a tower made of granite and brick that rises 100 feet above the ground, with a foundation that is nearly 40 feet deep.  It has a pyramidal structure and rests above the main east entrance to the temple. Ornate sculptures adorn the walls of this lofty edifice.  As per old temple records, the foundation of the gopuram was laid during the 16th century CE with the construction largely getting completed in the 18th century during the reign of the Travancore king Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma [1]. The temple however steeps far further back in antiquity.

There are seven floors to this gopuram, with a pair of window-like openings along the center on opposite sides of six of these floors. The opening on the lowest floor is also the grand doorway to enter the temple.  The temple door and the window openings on the five floors are aligned vertically from the bottom to the top of the gopuram. At the top of the edifice are a set of seven kalasha evenly spaced.

The precise orientation of the gopuram becomes evident through a rare visual spectacle that unfolds twice every year. On the days of equinox, one gets to see the setting Sun passing exactly through all the window openings in the gopuram in succession, in roughly five minute intervals (see Figure). On days past the equinox, the setting Sun gets blocked by the tower structure.

These photographs were taken during September 23, 2017 equinox. Credits: Vijayan Madhavan

Equinoxes correspond to the two days of a year when the day and night are of equal duration. On these days, the Sun rises exactly east and sets exactly due west. The equinoxes now fall roughly on March 21st and September 22nd give or take a day from year to year. On the other days, the sunrise and sunset happens along directions north (or south) of east and north (or south) of west (see appendix 1).  To accomplish this visual spectacle on the days of equinox, the imposing gopuram structure had to be constructed at right angles to the exact east – west line, a feat requiring precision engineering.

The layout of the Padmanabhaswamy temple with the gopuram at the East entrance, and the E-W, and N-S directions marked.

Defining the precise east – west direction is not an easy task. What techniques did the sthapathis employ to determine this? The answer to this can be found in the mathematics and astronomy texts of ancient India. Though magnetic compasses were in use for navigational purposes as early as the 11th century CE, it was known that the magnetic directions of north and south do not coincide with the geographical north and south, the difference though minimal for regions close to the equator. Much earlier to the development of compasses, there were simple geometrical techniques widely used to establish the cardinal directions. The earliest records on this can be found in the collection of texts called sulbasutras.

The sulbasutras are some of the oldest written records of mathematics (see appendix 2). They primarily contain geometrical techniques for the construction of structures for different rituals. One of the topics dealt with in sulbasutras is the determination of prime directions by observing the Sun on any given day of the year. Mahadhira (16th century CE) in his commentary to Katyayana sulbasutra explicitly states that it would be incorrect to assume East based on the direction of dawn on any arbitrary day [3, 4].

तस्य उदयस्थानानां बहुत्वात् प्रतिदिनं भिन्नत्वात् अनियमेन प्रची न्जातुं न शक्या । तस्मात् शङ्कुस्थापनेन प्राचीसाधनमुक्तम् । दक्षिणायने चित्रापर्यन्तमर्कोअभ्युदेति । मेशतुलासङक्रात्यहे प्राच्यां शुध्दायामुदेति । ततो अर्कात् प्राची न्जानं दुर्घटम् ।

As the rising points (of the Sun) are many, differing from day to day, the east-west direction cannot be known just by observing the sunrise or sunset (on any arbitrary day). It is suggested that the east-west be determined by fixing a shanku (pointed stick) etc.

Katyayana sulbasutra explains a simple set of observations that can be done on any given day to establish the E-W line [3, 4]:

समे शङ्कु निखाय शङ्कुसम्मितया रज्ज्वा मण्डलं परिलिख्य यत्र लेखयोः शङ्कुग्रच्छाया निपतति तत्र शङ्कु निहन्ति सा प्राचि ।  (Katyana Sulbasutra 1 2)

Fix a stick on a level ground; draw a circle with a string measured by the stick; fix nails at points on the line (of the circumference of the circle) where the shadow of the tip of the stick falls (at two different times of the day). The line joining the two points forms the east-west line.

Here the word shanku refers to gnomon, or most simply a stick with a pointed tip, rajjva refers to rope, and prachi is the east-west line (whereas udichi is north – south)

(An illustration of the technique suggested in sulbasutras for determining exact E-W. The shadow of the stick changes its size and orientation with the passing of time from sunrise to sunset. The exact E-W would correspond to the two points where the edge of the shadow touches the periphery of the circle drawn with the stick as the center.)

In projective geometry, there is the concept of vanishing point. Lines that are drawn parallel to each other will appear to meet at infinity. Thus it would not matter from where we do the above experiment. The line drawn by every person doing the same experiment will be pointing East – West. This method is now famously known globally as the “gnomon-circle method” or the “Indian circle method”.

The technique is staggeringly simple, wanting barely any paraphernalia except for a stick and a rope. One finds more elaborate mentions of the same approach in some consequent texts of mathematics. For example, in the highly celebrated work tantrasangraha written by the brilliant mathematician Nilkanta Somayaji who lived during the 15-th century CE in Kerala, there is a complete description of this method of finding the East-West [4].

Tantrasangraha goes further by pointing out a minor correction that needs to be applied to get the direction precisely right. Since the entire set of observations lasts for several hours, the apparent position of the Sun relative to the distant set of background stars would change within that duration. The Sun would have moved a little bit north or south in its journey depending on the time of the year. This truly happens due to the incremental changes in the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Tantrasangraha recognizes this, and suggests purva-para-bindhu-shodanam as the procedure for correcting this offset (see appendix 3). The method is also mentioned in the famous Siddhanthasiromani of Bhaskaracharya, who lived during the 12th century CE.

The stick-circle method, first described in the sulbasutras, and which finds recurrent mention in many subsequent texts, is what the stapathis (architects) of the Padmanabhaswamy temple are likely to have used to get the orientation of the temple right. It takes the setting Sun only about half an hour to move down through the windows of the 100 foot long gopuram of the temple. The time frame is too short for the additional fine correction to be of consequence. But having access to this knowledge, and an impulse to achieve perfection, it is likely that the correction was also taken into consideration while fixing the orientation of the gopuram orthogonal to the east-west.

(The top view layout of the temple. The gopuram and the idol of Padmanabhaswamy are positioned exactly perpendicular to the east west line.)

The tower and the temple of the Sri Padamanabhaswamy stand as a testimony to the architectural brilliance and scientific knowledge of the sculptors who built this beautiful edifice three centuries ago. Many local residents are aware of the visual spectacle that unfolds during the equinox.

But beyond that, these facts are not widely known. No science or history curriculum of the state mentions in detail the mathematics of sulbasutras or the tantrasangraha, despite the latter being a monumental treatise written in Kerala five centuries ago. The temple is a living tangible example of how mathematics and astronomy can be unified into complex architectural design, but it is seldom taught to children in those terms as a locally accessible example. At a time when educationalists and policy makers are thinking long and hard for ways to blend STEM education with the arts, and allied fields, the absence of such examples in our formal curriculum could only mean one of two things. Either we have not looked deep into regional and micro-history to pick out these brilliant nuggets from the past, or that we have chosen to consciously ignore them. One can hope that it is not the latter.

ANAND NARAYANAN / ILLUSTRATIONS BY HARSHA SIMHA

Anand Narayanan and Harsha Simha are faculty at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, where they teach astrophysics and control systems respectively.

Appendix 1: The orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun, and the Earth’s equatorial plane projected on to the sky keep an angle of 23.5 degree with respect to each other. As a result, the rising (and setting) of the Sun does not always happen exactly due East (and West). The diagram below explains how the rising point of the Sun drifts along the Eastern horizon over a full year.

(The drawing shows the rising positions of the Sun drifting over the course of a year from North to South and back.)

A year is thus divided into two halves. The 6 months from December to June when the rising point of the Sun slowly drifts from South to North is uttarayana, and the 6 months from June to December when the Sunrise point drifts from North to South is called dakshinayana (where ayana means journey). The setting Sun follows the same pattern. If the sunrise happens north of east, the sunset will be north of west.  On March 21 and September 22 (give or take a day), the Sun would rise exactly from East and would set exactly into West.

Appendix 2: Sulbasutras are part of kalpasutras, belonging to vedangas, which are sometimes categorized as auxiliary limbs of the main corpus of Vedas. These texts deal with the practical aspects of vedic rituals, primarily the construction of enclosures and altars for the rituals. The word sulba is derived from the root sulb which means “to measure”. Presently, seven Sulbasutras have been identified. These are Baudhayana sulbasutra, Manava sulbasutra, Apastamba sulbasutra, Katyayana sulbasutra, Maitrayana sulbasutra, Varaha sulbasutra, and Vadhula sulbasutra. According to scholars, the oldest among these is Baudhayana, dating back to approximately 800 BCE, with all the others written somewhere between 800 BCE and 300 BCE. These texts thus form one of the oldest written material on mathematics in India [4].

Appendix 3: Tantrasangraha is a positional astronomy treatise written by Nilakanta Somayaji, from the illustrious lineage of guru-sishya parampara starting from Sangamagrama Madhava. All of them lived in the Northern parts of Kerala from 14th to early part of 19th century CE. Historians collectively refer to it as the Kerala School of Mathematics and Astronomy [6]. The chapter 3 of trantrasangraha titled छायाप्रकरणम (chaaya-prakaranam) deals with sticks and shadows, with changing positions of the Sun [5]. The first two verses of this chapter bears instructions on how to how to position a stick on a flat surface, and how the shadow would move over the course of a day. The third verse mentions the correction to the east point because of the changing declination position of the Sun during the course of the observation of the shadows from morning to evening.

Tantrasangraha 3.3

In the figure (adapted from [5]) the hemisphere is the sky, and AB represents the stick. The smaller circle is what one would draw with the stick as the center. The larger circle is the horizon. Here W and E1 are the points that we get on the circle corresponding to the points of intersection of the tip of the shadow with the circumference in the forenoon and afternoon respectively. Without the fine correction mentioned in tantrasangraha, E1-W would be identified as the east – west line. The correction is the distance OE2. The corrected east-west direction will be E2 – W. The offset distance is given by

where Φ is the latitude of our location, and the two δ angles are the declination positions of the Sun in the forenoon and afternoon when the shadow of the stick touches the periphery of the circle. The same is also given in the siddhanthasiromani text written by the 12 century CE astronomer and mathematician Bhaskaracharya (Bhaskara – II).

References:

[1]       Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavasn/Mumbaii/India; 2013. ISBN-13: 978-8172764791. For a metaphysical reasoning on why the east orientation is important, the readers are encouraged to refer chapter 6 of the book.

[2]       The Hindu Temple (Volume – 1), Stella Kramrisch, 2015, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers; Ninth Reprint edition, ISBN-13: 978-8120802223

[3]       Katyayana Sulbasutra – with Sanskrit commentaries of Karka & Mahidhara, English Translation of Hindi commentary, Explanation and Geometrical Figures, D. P. Kularia, Devesh Publication; 2009, ISBN-13 : 978-8189580810

[4]       NPTEL lectures of IIT-Madras on Mathematics in India – From Vedic Period to Modern Times, by Dr. K. Ramasubramanian, Dr. M. D. Srinivasan, and Dr. M. S. Sriram – https://nptel.ac.in/courses/111/101/111101080/

[5]       Tantrasangraha of Nilakanta Somayaji – K. Ramasubramanian, and M. S. Sriram, Springer London Dordrecht Heidelberg New York, co-published with Hindustan Book Agency, 2011, ISBN 978-0-85729-035-9. Chapter 3 is particularly relevant

[6]       Sriram M.S. (2008) Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics. In: Selin H. (eds) Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8683.

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣ

ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಅತಿ ಪುರಾತನ ಮಂಡಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗೊಳ್ಳುವ ವರುಣನ ಸ್ತುತಿಗಳು ಅವೆಸ್ತಾದ ಗಾಥೆಗಳಲ್ಲೂ, ಭೃಗು ಮಹರ್ಷಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅವರ ಸಂತತಿಯ ಋಕ್ಕುಗಳಲ್ಲೂ ಕಾಣಬರುತ್ತವೆ. ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಬಹಳ ಹಿಂದಿನ, ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನೇ (ವರ್) ಆವರಿಸಿರುವ ದೇವತೆ; ಇಂದ್ರನಿಗೂ ಹಳೆಯ ತಲೆಮಾರಿನ ದೇವತೆ. ವರುಣನ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಗಳು ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಯಜುರ್ವೇದ, ಅಥರ್ವವೇದ, ಮತ್ತು ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣಗಳಲ್ಲೂ ಕಾಣಸಿಗುತ್ತವೆ. ಹಾಗೆ ನೋಡಿದರೆ, ವರುಣನು ಋಗ್ವೇದಕ್ಕೂ ಪೂರ್ವದವನು; ವರುಣನು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯ ಆದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವತಃ ಪ್ರಕಟಗೊಂಡವನು ಎಂದು ಅವನನ್ನು ಸ್ತುತಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.

ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಅತಿ ಹಳೆಯ ದೇವತೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬನಾದ ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಹಲವಾರು ವಿಶೇಷಣಗಳಿಂದ ಕರೆಯಲಾಗುತ್ತದೆ; ವರುಣನು ದೇವತೆಗಳ ರಾಜ, ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ಎಲ್ಲೆಡೆ ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸಿರುವ ಸಾರ್ವಭೌಮ; ಆದಿತ್ಯರಲ್ಲಿ ಉತ್ತಮೋತ್ತಮ; ಆಕಾಶದ ಒಡೆಯ; ಬೆಳಕಿನ ದೇವತೆ; ಋತ-ನಿಯಮಗಳ ಅಧಿಪತಿ; ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು ಎತ್ತಿಹಿಡಿಯುವವನು; ಜೀವಿಗಳ ತಪ್ಪೊಪ್ಪುಗಳನ್ನು ನಿರ್ಣಯಿಸುವ, ತಪ್ಪಿತಸ್ಥರನ್ನು ಕಠಿಣವಾಗಿ ಶಿಕ್ಷಿಸುವ/ಕ್ಷಮಿಸುವ ಕರುಣಾಮಯಿ; ಸಾವಿರ ಔಷಧಿಗಳ ವೈದ್ಯ; ಸರ್ವವ್ಯಾಪಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ, ಅಪಾರ ಜ್ಞಾನದ ಗಣಿ; ಕವಿ, ಋಷಿ; ಅನುಪಮ ಬುದ್ಧಿವಂತ; ದೈವಿಕ/ನಿಗೂಢ ಮಾಯಾ ಶಕ್ತಿಇರುವವನು; ನಿಯಮ-ವಿಧಿಗಳ ನಿಯಂತ್ರಕ; ಉದಕಗಳ ರಾಜ; ಮೋಡ, ಸಮುದ್ರ, ನದಿ, ಮತ್ತು ನೀರಿನ ರಾಜ.

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನ ಮಹತ್ವವನ್ನು ಅವನನ್ನು (ಮಾತ್ರ) ಕುರಿತು ರಚಿತವಾದ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆಯನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ ಅರಿಯಲಾರೆವು. ಮಂತ್ರಗಳ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆಯ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ನೋಡಿದರೆ, ವರುಣನು ಮೂರನೆಯ ಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಳಿಯುತ್ತಾನೆ. ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ತುತಿಸುವ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳು 12. ಮಿತ್ರನನ್ನು ಸದಾ ವರುಣನೊಡನೆ ಜೊತೆಮಾಡಿ ಸ್ತುತಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ: ಮಿತ್ರ-ವರುಣರನ್ನು ಒಟ್ಟಾಗಿ ಸ್ತುತಿಸುವ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳು 24. ಸಂಖ್ಯಾವಾರು ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆಗೆ ಒಳಪಡಿಸಿದರೆ, ವರುಣನ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಅಶ್ವಿನಿ ದೇವತೆಗಳಿಗಿಂತ ಕೆಳಗೆ, ಮರುತ್ತುಗಳ ಸುಮಾರು ಸಮವಾಗಿ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ.

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನ ವರ್ಣನೆ

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ವಿಭಿನ್ನ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವರ್ಣಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಮೇಲೆ ಹೇಳಿದಂತೆ, ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಬೇರೆ ದೇವತೆಗಳ ಹೋಲಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವೇ ಸೂಕ್ತಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವರ್ಣಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯ ಆದಿಯಲ್ಲೇ  ಅಸ್ತಿತ್ವದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದವನು, ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯೊಡನೆ ಸ್ವಯಂ ಪ್ರಕಟಗೊಂಡವನು, ಎಂದು ವರ್ಣಿಸಲಾಗಿ, ವೇದಪೂರ್ವ ಯುಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊದಲಾಗುವ ವರುಣನ ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯತೆಯ ಕಥೆಯು, ತರುವಾಯ ಬರುವ ಮಂಡಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ರಮೇಣ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಆರಂಭದ ಭಾಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಸರ್ವತ್ರ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಶಕ್ತಿಶಾಲಿಯಾದ ದೇವನು. ಋಗ್ವೇದದ ಪ್ರಕಾರ, ವರುಣನು ಜನ್ಮ/ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಅತೀತನು. ಅವನ ಮಹತ್ವದ ವರ್ಣನೆ ಇತರ ವೇದ, ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ, ಮತ್ತು ಉಪನಿಷತ್ತುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕೂಡ ಕಂಡುಬರುತ್ತದೆ.

ವರುಣನು ಆಕಾಶ, ನೀರು, ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಂಡದ ಕ್ರಿಯಾ-ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಗಳ, ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ನೀತಿ-ನಿಯಮಗಳ ನಡಾವಳಿಗಳ ದೇವತೆ.

ವರುಣನ ಮುಖವನ್ನು ಅಗ್ನಿಯ ಮುಖವೆಂದೇ ಹೇಳಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಮಿತ್ರ-ವರುಣರಿಗೆ ಸೂರ್ಯನೇ ಕಣ್ಣು. ವರುಣನು ದೂರದೃಷ್ಟಿಯುಳ್ಳವನು, ಸಹಸ್ರಾಕ್ಷನು. ಮಿತ್ರನೊಡನೆ ಯಾಗಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇತರ ದೇವತೆಗಳಂತೆ ದರ್ಭೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಕುಳಿತು ವರುಣನು ಸೋಮಪಾನ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾನೆ. ವರುಣನು ಸುವರ್ಣಮಯವಾದ ನಿಲುವಂಗಿ (ಅಥವಾ, ದ್ರಾಪಿ) ಯನ್ನು ಧರಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಅವನ ಸಾಧನ-ಸಲಕರಣೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಖ್ಯವಾದುದು ಅವನ ಸೂರ್ಯನಂತೆ ಕಾಂತಿಯುಕ್ತವಾದ ಹೊಳೆಯುವ ರಥ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ಆಕಾಶದ ಪರಾಕಾಷ್ಠೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ರಥಾರೋಹಣ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಆಕಾಶದ ಮೇಲಿರುವ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರ ಸುವರ್ಣಮಯವಾದ, ಸಹಸ್ರ ದ್ವಾರಗಳ ವಾಸಗೃಹದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುವ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಗಳನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ವೀಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರ ದೃಢವಾದ ಆಸನವು ಎತ್ತರವಾಗಿ ಸಹಸ್ರ ಸ್ಥಂಭಗಳನ್ನು ಆಧರಿಸಿದೆ. ಸರ್ವದರ್ಶಿಯಾದ ಸೂರ್ಯನು ಮನುಷ್ಯರ ಕೆಲಸಗಳ ವರದಿ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಲು ಅವರ ಮನೆಗೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ಬುದ್ಧಿವಂತರಾದ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರ ಗೂಢಚಾರರು ಸ್ವರ್ಗ-ಭೂಲೋಕಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ, ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ವಿದ್ಯಮಾನಗಳನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಇಂದ್ರನಂತೆ, ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರಿಗೂ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಟ್ ಎಂಬ ವಿಶೇಷಣವನ್ನು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಈಗ, ವಿಭಿನ್ನವಾದ ವಿಶೇಷಣಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡೋಣ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರಿಗೆ ಕ್ಷತ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಅಸುರ ಎಂಬ ಅಭಿದಾನಗಳಿವೆ. (ಇತರ ದೇವತೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಕೂಡ ಈ ಹೆಸರುಗಳು ಕೆಲವು ಬಾರಿ ಸಲ್ಲುತ್ತವೆ; ಆದರೆ, ಇವರಿಗೆ ಇವು ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ ಅನ್ವಯಿಸುತ್ತವೆ.)

ಶಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ‘ಮಾಯಾ’ ಎಂದು ವರ್ಣಿಸುವಾಗ, ದೇವತೆಗಳಿಗಿರುವ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದು ಮಾಡಲು, ರಾಕ್ಷಸರಿಗೆ ಅನ್ವಯಿಸಿದಾಗ ಕೆಟ್ಟದ್ದನ್ನು ಮಾಡುವ ನಿಗೂಢ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಎಂತಲೂ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ತಮ್ಮ ಮಾಯೆಯಿಂದ ಉಷಸ್ಸನ್ನು ಕಳುಹಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ; ಸೂರ್ಯನನ್ನು ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷವನ್ನು ದಾಟುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿ, ಅವನನ್ನು ಮಳೆಯ ಮೇಘಗಳಿಂದ ಮಸಕಾಗುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿದಾಗ, ಮಧು ಮಿಶ್ರಿತವಾದ ಸಿಹಿ ಹನಿಗಳು ಆಕಾಶದಿಂದ ಮಳೆಯಾಗಿ ಹನಿಯುತ್ತವೆ.

ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದ ರಾಜ: ದ್ಯೌಃ ಪಿತಾ

ಪೃಥ್ವಿಯನ್ನು ತಾಯಿಯೆಂದು, ದ್ಯೌಃ ಎಂದರೆ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷವನ್ನು ತಂದೆಯೆಂದು ಕರೆಯುವುದು ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಹಲವಾರು ಪರಂಪರೆಗಳ ರೂಢಿ.

ತನ್ನೋ ವಾತೋ ಮಯೋಭು ವಾತು ಭೇಷಜಂ ತನ್ಮಾತಾ ಪೃಥಿವೀ ತತ್ಪಿತಾ ದ್ಯೌಃ
(ಋ.ಸಂ.1.89.4)

ದ್ಯೌಃ ಮತ್ತು ಪೃಥ್ವಿ ಅಥವಾ ದ್ಯಾವಾ-ಪೃಥ್ವಿ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷ ಮತ್ತು ಭೂಮಿಗಳ ಸಂಗಮದ ಸಂಕೇತ. ಇವರು ಜಗತ್ತಿಗೇ ತಾಯಿ-ತಂದೆ. ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಿಗಳನ್ನೂ ಪಾಲಿಸಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ರಕ್ಷಣೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಮೊದಲಿನ ಋಕ್ಕುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ದ್ಯೌಃ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದ ರಾಜ, ಕ್ರಮೇಣ ದ್ಯೌಃ ಅಂದರೆ, ಆಕಾಶ, ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷ ಎಂಬ ಅರ್ಥವೇ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ, ನಂತರದ ಋಕ್ಕುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನಿಗೆ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದ ಒಡೆಯನೆಂಬ ಅಭಿದಾನ ಬಂದಿತು. ಇನ್ನೂ ನಂತರದ ಋಕ್ಕುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಇಂದ್ರನು ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದ ಪ್ರಭುವಾದನು. ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಕಾಲಕ್ರಮೇಣ, ಪೃಥ್ವಿಗೆ ಭೂಮಿ-ತಾಯಿ, ಜೀವದಾಯಿತ್ವದ (ಮಾತುಷ್ಪದೇ ಪರಮೇ) ಮಾತೃತತ್ವದ ಮಹತ್ವ ನೀಡಲಾಯಿತು.

ಉದಕಗಳ ರಾಜ

ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ನದಿಗಳ ಒಡೆಯರು.

ಆ ರಾಜಾನಾ ಮಹ ರುತಸ್ಯ ಗೋಪಾ ಸಿಂಧುಪತೀ ಕ್ಷತ್ರಿಯಾ ಯಾತಮರ್ವಾಕ್
ಇಳಾಂ ನೋ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣೋತ ವೃಷ್ಟಿಮವ ದಿವ ಇನ್ವತಂ ಜೀರದಾನೂ ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.7.64.2) 

[ಸರ್ವರಿಗೂ ಪ್ರಭುವಾದವರೂ, ಮಹನೀಯರೂ, ಉದಕಕ್ಕೂ, ಯಜ್ಞಕ್ಕೂ ರಕ್ಷಕರೂ, ನದಿಗಳ ಪಾಲಕರೂ, ಶಕ್ತಿಯುತರೂ ಆದ ಎಲೈ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರೇ, ನಮಗೆ ಅಭಿಮುಖವಾಗಿ ಬನ್ನಿರಿ. ಬೇಗನೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಇಷ್ಟಾರ್ಥಗಳನ್ನು ಪೂರೈಸುವ ನೀವು ನಮಗೆ ಅನ್ನವನ್ನೂ, ಪುಷ್ಟಿಪ್ರದವಾದ ವೃಷ್ಟಿಯನ್ನೂ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದಿಂದ ಅಧೋಮುಖವಾಗಿ ಬೀಳುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿರಿ.]

ವರುಣನು ಉದಕಗಳನ್ನು ಕ್ರಮಪಡಿಸುವವನು; ನದಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹರಿಯುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡುವವನು. ವರುಣನ ಅಪ್ಪಣೆಯ ಮೇರೆಗೆ ನದಿಗಳು ಸತತವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರವಹಿಸುತ್ತವೆ.

ಪ್ರ ಸೀಮಾದಿತ್ಯೋ ಅಸೃಜತ್ವಿ ಧರ್ತಾ ಋತಂ ಸಿಂಧವೋ ವರುಣಸ್ಯ ಯಂತಿ
ನ ಶ್ರಾಮ್ಯಂತಿ ನ ವಿ ಮುಂಚಂತ್ಯೇತೇ ವಯೋ ನ ಪಪ್ತೂ ರಘುಯಾ ಪರಿಜ್ಮನ್  ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.2.28.4) 

[ಆದಿತ್ಯನಾದ ವರುಣನು ಈ ಉದಕವನ್ನು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಸಿ, ತನ್ನ ಆಜ್ಞೆಯಿಂದ ನದಿಗಳು ನಿರಂತರವಾಗಿ ಆಯಾಸವಿಲ್ಲದೆ, ಪಕ್ಷಿಗಳಂತೆ ವೇಗಾಗಾಮಿಗಳಾಗಿ ಪ್ರವಹಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾನೆ.]

ಇಮಾಮೂ ನು ಕವಿತಮಸ್ಯ ಮಾಯಾಂ ಮಹೀಂ ದೇವಸ್ಯ ನಕಿರಾ ದಧರ್ಷ
ಏಕಂ ಯದುದ್ನಾ ನ ಪೃಣಂತ್ಯೇನೀರಾಸಿಂಚಂತೀರವನಯಃ ಸಮುದ್ರಂ  ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.5.85.6) 

[ನದಿಗಳು ವೇಗವಾಗಿ ಸಮುದ್ರದೊಳಗೆ ನೀರು ತಂದು ಸುರಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೂ ಅವು ತುಂಬದಿರುವುದು ವರುಣನ ನಿಗೂಢ ಮಹಿಮೆಯಿಂದಲೇ.]

ನೀಚೀನಬಾರಂ ವರುಣಃ ಕಬಂಧಂ ಪ್ರ ಸಸರ್ಜ ರೋದಸೀ ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷಮ್
ತೇನ ವಿಶ್ವಸ್ಯ ಭುವನಸ್ಯ ರಾಜಾ ಯವಂ ನ ವೃಷ್ಟಿರ್ವ್ಯುನತ್ತಿ ಭೂಮ ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.5.85.3)

[ವರುಣನು ದ್ಯಾವಾಪೃಥಿವಿ, ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷಗಳಿಗಾಗಿ ಮೇಘವನ್ನು ಅಧೋಮುಖವಾಗಿ ನೀರನ್ನು ಸುರಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿದನು. ವೃಷ್ಟಿಯೂ ಯವಧಾನ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ತೋಯಿಸುವಂತೆ, ಸಮಸ್ತ ಪ್ರಪಂಚಕ್ಕೂ ವರುಣನು ಉದಕದಿಂದ ಭೂಮಿಯನ್ನು ತೋಯಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ.]

ಉನತ್ತಿ ಭೂಮಿಂ ಪೃಥಿವೀಮುತ ದ್ಯಾಮ್ ಯಥಾ ದುಗ್ಧಂ ವರುಣೋ ವಷ್ಟ್ಯಾದಿತ್
ಸಮಭ್ರೇಣ ವಸತ ಪರ್ವತಾಸಸ್ತವಿಷೀಯಂತಃ ಶ್ರಥಯಂತ ವೀರಾಃ ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.5.85.4)

[ವರುಣನು ಮಳೆಸುರಿಸಬೇಕೆಂದು ಇಚ್ಛಿಸಿದೊಡನೆಯೇ ಪೃಥ್ವಿ, ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷ, ದ್ಯುಲೋಕಗಳನ್ನು ಉದಕದಿಂದ ತೋಯಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಒಡನೆಯೇ, ಪರ್ವತಗಳು ಮೇಘಗಳಿಂದ ತಮ್ಮ ಶಿಖರಗಳನ್ನು ಆಚ್ಛಾದಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ. ಬಲದಿಂದ ಉತ್ಸಾಹಗೊಂಡ ಮರುತ್ತುಗಳು ಮೇಘಗಳನ್ನು ಚಲಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತವೆ.]

ಹೀಗೆ, ವರುಣನು ಸಾಗರಗಳ ಒಡೆಯ. ಪರ್ವತಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಮೋಡದಿಂದ ಆವೃತವಾದಾಗ, ಸ್ವರ್ಗ, ಭೂಮಿ, ಆಕಾಶಗಳಿಗೆ ನೀರೆರೆದು ಭೂಮಿಯನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ತೇವ ಮಾಡುವವನು ವರುಣನು. ಸೋಮನಿಗೆ ಪರ್ವತಗಳ ಜೊತೆ ಇರುವಷ್ಟೇ ಗಾಢವಾದ ಸಂಬಂಧ, ವರುಣನಿಗೆ ನೀರಿನೊಡನೆ ಇದೆ.

ವರುಣನ ಆಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮಿಕ ಆಯಾಮ

ವರುಣನು ನೀರಿನ ಅಧಿಪತಿ. ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ಆಪಃ ಅಥವಾ ಸಲಿಲಃ ಎಂಬ ಪದಗಳ ಒಳ ಅರ್ಥ ಬಹಳ ಆಳವಾದದ್ದು. ಸಲಿಲವೆಂದರೆ, ಮೂರ್ತಾಮೂರ್ತತೆಗೆ, ವ್ಯಕ್ತ-ಅವ್ಯಕ್ತಗಳ, ನಡುವಿನ ಅನುಭೂತಿ. ಈ ಗಹನವಾದ, ಗಭೀರವಾದ ಆಪವು ತನ್ನ ಒಡಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಅಪ್ರಕಟಿತವಾದ ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನೇ ಹಿಡಿದಿದೆ. ಜಗತ್ತು ಪ್ರಕಟಗೊಳ್ಳುವಾಗ, ಮೊದಲು ನೀರು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯಾಯಿತು; ಅಂದರೆ, ನೀರೇ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ನೀರು ಗತಿ/ಗಮನದ, ಕರ್ಮದ ಸಂಕೇತ.

ವರುಣನು ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನು ಆವರಿಸಿದ ನೀರಿನ ಪ್ರತೀಕ. [ವಾರ್, ಆವರಣ] ವರುಣನು ಸರ್ವವ್ಯಾಪಿ; ಗೋಚರ ಮತ್ತು ಅಗೋಚರ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಅಧಿಪತಿ. ನೀರಿನ ಅಧಿಪತಿಯಾದ ವರುಣನು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಸಂಕೇತ.

ವರುಣನು ತನ್ನ ಇಚ್ಛಾಮಾತ್ರದಿಂದ ತನ್ನ ಅಸಾಧಾರಣ ಬುದ್ಧಿ, ‘ಮಾಯೆ’ಗಳ ಮೂಲಕ ನಿರಾಕಾರ ವಸ್ತುವಿನಿಂದ ಮೂರ್ತ ರೂಪವನ್ನು ಸಾಕಾರಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಈ ಅರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಕರ್ತ; ಜಗತ್ತು ಅವನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಿಂದ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದೆ; ಹೀಗೆ, ಅವನು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯ ಸಂಕೇತ.

ಆನಂದ ಕುಮಾರಸ್ವಾಮಿಯವರು ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಸಂಕೇತ, ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಶಾಸನಗಳ ಒಡೆಯ

ವರುಣನ ಶಾಸನಗಳು ಎಷ್ಟು ದೃಢವಾಗಿವೆ, ಎಂದರೆ, ಅವನಿಗೆ ಧೃತವ್ರತ ಎಂಬ ಅಭಿದಾನವಿದೆ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ಋತ, ಸತ್ಯ, ಮತ್ತು ನ್ಯಾಯಗಳ ನಿಯಾಮಕರು (ಋ.ಸಂ.1.2.8)

ಇಮೇ ಚೇತಾರೋ ಅನೃತಸ್ಯ ಭೂರೇರ್ಮಿತ್ರೋ ಆರ್ಯಮಾ ವರುಣೋ ಹಿ ಸಂತಿ
ಇಮ ಋತಸ್ಯ ವಾವೃಧುರ್ದುರೋಣೇ  ಶಗ್ಮಾ ಸಃ ಪುತ್ರಾ ಅದಿತೇರದಬ್ಧಾಃ  ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.7.60.5) 

[ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರೂ, ಆರ್ಯಮನೂ ಅಧಿಕವಾದ ಪಾಪಗಳನ್ನು ನಾಶಮಾಡುವ ದೇವತೆಗಳು. ಸುಖಕಾರಕರೂ, ಅದಿತಿಪುತ್ರರೂ, ಅಹಿಂಸಿತರೂ ಆದ ಈ ದೇವತೆಗಳು ಯಜ್ಞದ ಹವಿಸ್ಸಿನಿಂದ ಪುಷ್ಟಿಗೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾರೆ.]

ಋತಾವಾನ ಋತಜಾತಾ ಋತಾವೃಧೋ ಘೋರಾಸೋ ಅನೃತದ್ವಿಷಃ
ತೇಷಾಮ್ ವಃ ಸುಮ್ನೇ ಸುಚ್ಚರ್ದಿಷ್ಟಮೇ  ನರಃ ಸ್ಯಾಮ ಯೇ ಚ ಸೂರಯಃ ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.7.66.13) 

[ಎಲೈ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರೇ, ಯಜ್ಞ ನಿರ್ವಾಹಕರಾಗಿ, ನೀವು ವೃಷ್ಟಿರೂಪವಾದ ಉದಕವನ್ನು ಜನರಿಗೆ ದಯಪಾಲಿಸುವವರು, ಯಜ್ಞಾರ್ಥವಾಗಿ, ಉದಕಾರ್ಥವಾಗಿಯೇ ಉತ್ಪನ್ನರಾದವರು, ಯಜ್ಞವನ್ನು, ಉದಕವನ್ನು ವೃದ್ಧಿಯಾಗುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡುವವರು. ಶತ್ರುಗಳ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ರೂರ ಸ್ವಭಾವವುಳ್ಳವರು. ಅನೃತವಾದಿಗಳನ್ನು, ಯಜ್ಞ ಮಾಡದವರನ್ನು ಶಿಕ್ಷಿಸುವವರು. ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಸ್ತೋತ್ರ ಮಾಡುವವರು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಅನುಗ್ರಹಕ್ಕೆ ಪಾತ್ರರಾಗಲಿ.]

ವರುಣನನ್ನು ‘ಋತಸ್ಯ ಗೋಪಃ,’ ‘ಋತಾವನ್’ (ನಿಯಮಪಾಲಕ) ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಿಯಮಗಳನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲಂಘಿಸುವವರಿಗೆ ವರುಣನು ಕ್ರೂರವಾದ ಶಿಕ್ಷೆಗಳನ್ನು ವಿಧಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ಅನೃತವನ್ನು ದ್ವೇಷಿಸಿ, ಶಿಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ವರುಣನು ಭೌತಿಕ, ನೈತಿಕ ವಿಧಿಗಳ ನಿಯಾಮಕನು. ಪ್ರಾಕೃತಿಕ ನಿಯಮಗಳನ್ನು ವಿಧಿಸುವವನು. ತೈತ್ತರೀಯ ಸಂಹಿತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಿತ್ರನು ಹಗಲನ್ನೂ ವರುಣನು ರಾತ್ರಿಯನ್ನೂ ಸೃಜಿಸಿದನು, ಹೇಳಿದೆ. ಶತಪಥ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಭೂಲೋಕವು ಮಿತ್ರನಿಗೂ ಸ್ವರ್ಗಲೋಕವು ವರುಣನಿಗೂ ಸೇರಿದೆ, ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದೆ.

ವರುಣನಲ್ಲಿ ನೂರುಗಟ್ಟಲೆ, ಸಾವಿರಗಟ್ಟಲೆ ಔಷಧಿಗಳಿವೆ. ಅವನು ಮೃತ್ಯುವನ್ನು ದೂರಮಾಡಬಲ್ಲನು; ಪ್ರಾಣಾಪಹಾರ ಮಾಡಬಲ್ಲನು, ಜೀವದಾನವನ್ನೂ ಮಾಡಬಲ್ಲನು.

ವರುಣನು ನಿತ್ಯತ್ವವನ್ನು ಸದಾ ರಕ್ಷಿಸುವವನು.

ಋತ

ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಮತ್ತೆ ಮತ್ತೆ ‘ಋತ,’ ನಿಯಮ, ಶಾಸನಗಳ ಪಾಲಕ, ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಯಾಗಿ ವರ್ಣಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹಾಗಾದರೆ, ಋತವೆಂದರೆ, ಏನು?

ಋತವೆಂದರೆ, ಪ್ರಾಕೃತಿಕ, ನೈಸರ್ಗಿಕ ಸ್ವಯಂ-ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿತವಾದ ನಿಯಮಗಳ ಒಂದು ಚೌಕಟ್ಟು. ಈ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಿಗಳೂ ಇದ್ದು, ತಮ್ಮದೇ ಸ್ವಭಾವದ ಅನುಗುಣವಾಗಿ ನಿತ್ಯ-ಕಾರ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ನಿರ್ವಹಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಋತ, ಎನ್ನುವುದು ತುಂಬಾ ಗಂಭೀರವಾದ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ. ನೈಸರ್ಗಿಕ ನಿಯಮ-ಸಾಮರಸ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಅನೂಚಾನವಾಗಿ ನಡೆಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗಲು, ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಿಗಳೂ ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಪವಿತ್ರತೆಯನ್ನು ಗೌರವಿಸಿ, ತಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದ ನಡಾವಳಿಯನ್ನು ಈ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನೊಳಗೆ ಅಳವಡಿಸಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು. ಋತವೆಂದರೆ ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಿಗಳೂ ತಮ್ಮ ಸ್ವಭಾವದ ಅನುಸಾರ ಜೀವಿಸಬೇಕು; ಅದೇ ರೀತಿ, ಸುತ್ತಲ ಪರಿಸರ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಗಳ ಸಮಗ್ರತೆಯ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಜೀವಿಸಬೇಕು. ಋತ-ತತ್ವವು ನಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತಿಕ ಪರಿಸರದ ಸಮಗ್ರತೆಯನ್ನು, ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಗಳೊಂದಿಗಿನ ನಮ್ಮ ಏಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಗುರುತಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಇದು ಮನುಷ್ಯನನ್ನು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅವನ  ಶ್ರದ್ಧಾಕೇಂದ್ರಗಳ (ಅವನು ಪೂಜಿಸಿವ ದೈವ) ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಜೋಡಿಸುವ ಒಂದು ಚೌಕಟ್ಟು, ಹೀಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಜೀವಗಳನ್ನು ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸುವ ಮತ್ತು ರಕ್ಷಿಸುವ ಧರ್ಮ, ನಿಯಮ. ಋತವೆಂಬ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ, ಹೀಗೆ ಇಡೀ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಂಡದ ಭೌತಿಕ ಕ್ರಮವು ಒಂದು ನೈತಿಕ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹೊಂದಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ, ಎಂಬ ತತ್ವವನ್ನು ಇದು ಪ್ರತಿಪಾದಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.

ಈ ನಿಯಮವನ್ನು ಪಾಲಿಸದೆ ಇದ್ದರೆ, ಸಮಾಜದ, ಅಷ್ಟೇಕೆ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತಿಕ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯೇ ಅಲ್ಲೋಲ-ಕಲ್ಲೋಲವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ವಿಚ್ಛಿದ್ರಕಾರಕ ಶಕ್ತಿಗಳು ಹುಟ್ಟಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ. ಅಪ್ರಾಮಾಣಿಕತೆ, ಸುಳ್ಳು ಮತ್ತು ಕಲ್ಮಶಗಳು ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಡಿಯಿಡುತ್ತವೆ.

ಹಾಗಾದರೆ, ‘ಪಾಪ’ ಎಂದರೆ ಏನು? ಪಾಪವೆಂದರೆ, ಧರ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ, ಋತಕ್ಕೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧವಾದ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ. ಪಾಪವೆಂದರೆ, ಯಾವುದೋ ಕ್ಷಣಿಕವಾದ, ಅಥವಾ ತಾತ್ಕಾಲಿಕವಾದ ಲಾಭವನ್ನು ಗಳಿಸಲು ನೈಸರ್ಗಿಕ ನಿಯಮವನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲಂಘಿಸಿ ಮಾಡಿದ ಒಂದು ಕ್ರಿಯೆ. ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಮತ್ತು ಜೀವಿಗಳ ನಡುವೆ  ಇರುವ ಸಾಮರಸ್ಯವನ್ನು ಘಾಸಿಮಾಡುವುದು ಶಿಕ್ಷಾರ್ಹವಾದ ಪಾಪ. ಜೀವ-ಸಹಜ ದೌರ್ಬಲ್ಯಗಳಿಂದಾಗಿ ಪಾಪ ಉದ್ಭವಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ದೇವಾಸುರ ಯುದ್ಧವೆಂದರೆ, ಇದೇ ಇರಬಹುದೇ?

ಪಾಪವೆಂಬುದು ಅನೃತ, ಅಥವಾ ಋತಕ್ಕೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧವಾದ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆ. ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ನಿಯಮಗಳನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲಂಘಿಸಿ, ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಸಾಮರಸ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಭಂಗ ತರುವುದು ಋಜುಮಾರ್ಗದಿಂದ ನಿರ್ಗಮಿಸಿದಂತೆ. ಅದು ಅವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯನ್ನು ಉಂಟುಮಾಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಅನೃತವೆಂದರೆ, ಪ್ರತಿಷ್ಠಾಪಿಸಿರುವ ನೈತಿಕ ಕ್ರಮದ ನಿರಾಕರಣೆ. ಇದು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿ ವಿರೋಧಿಯಾದ ಅಸ್ವಾಭಾವಿಕ ಪ್ರಕ್ರಿಯೆ; ವರುಣನ ನಿಯಮಗಳ ಉಲ್ಲಂಘನೆ. ವರುಣನು ಅನೃತದ ವಿರೋಧಿ.

ತೀರಿಸಲಾಗದ ಸಾಲಕ್ಕೆ ಪಾಪವನ್ನು ಹೋಲಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಪ್ರಾಯಶ್ಚಿತ್ತವೆಂದರೆ, ತಮ್ಮ ಪಾಪವನ್ನು ಗುರುತಿಸಿ, ಒಪ್ಪಿ, ಇನ್ನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಇದೇ ತಪ್ಪನ್ನು ಮಾಡಬಾರದು ಎಂದು ಮಾಡುವ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ.

ಅಸುರ

ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಅಸುರನೆಂದು ವರ್ಣಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಆದರೆ, ಈ ಅಸುರನೆಂಬ ಅಭಿದಾನವೂ ಕೌತುಕವನ್ನು ಉಂಟುಮಾಡಿತ್ತದೆ. ಈ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಸೂಕ್ತದಲ್ಲಿ, ಮಿತ್ರಾ-ವರುಣರನ್ನು ಅಸುರರಲ್ಲಿ ಆರ್ಯರೆಂದು ಕರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ತಾ ಹಿ ದೇವಾನಾಮಸುರಾ ತಾವರ್ಯಾ ತಾ ನಃ ಕ್ಷಿತೀಃ ಕರತಮೂರ್ಜಯಂತೀಃ ।
ಅಶ್ಯಾಮ ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣಾ ವಯಂ ವಾ ದ್ಯಾವಾಚ ಯತ್ರ ಪೀಪಯನ್ನ ಹಾ ಚ ।।
(ಋ.ಸಂ.7.65.2)

ಈ ಋಕ್ಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಅಸುರ ಎಂಬ ಶಬ್ದವನ್ನು ಶಕ್ತಿಶಾಲಿ ಎಂಬ ಅರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಋಕ್ಕಿನ ಅರ್ಥ ಹೀಗಿದೆ: ಸಮಸ್ತ ದೇವತೆಗಳ ಮಧ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಸುರರಾದ (ಶಕ್ತಿಶಾಲಿಗಳಾದ) ಮಿತ್ರಾವರುಣರು ನಮ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರವರ್ಧಮಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಬರುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಲಿ; ನಾವು ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಸಮೀಪವರ್ತಿಗಳಾಗಿ ಇರುವಂತೆ ಆಗಲಿ. ನೀವು ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸಿರುವ ದ್ಯಾವಾ ಪೃಥಿವಿಗಳು ನಮಗೆ ಸಂತೋಷ ತರಲಿ.

ಈ ಸೂಕ್ತವು ಹಳೆಯ ಮಂಡಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದಾದ ಏಳನೇ ಮಂಡಲದಲ್ಲಿದೆ. ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ದ್ಯಾವಾ-ಪೃಥ್ವಿಗಳ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಅಸುರರು ದುಃಖ ಕಾರಕರು ಎಂಬ ಅರ್ಥದ ಛಾಯೆ ಕೂಡ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಹಾಗೆ ನೋಡಿದರೆ, ಅಸುರರನ್ನು ಶಕ್ತಿಶಾಲಿಗಳೆಂದು ಹೊಗಳುವ ಮಾತಿದೆ. ಅರ್ಥಾತ್, ಇದು ದೇವಾಸುರ ಯುದ್ಧದ ಹಿಂದಿನ ಅಥವಾ ಇನ್ನೂ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದಾಗಿನ ಮಾತೇ?

ದೇವಾಸುರರ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ವ್ಯತ್ಯಾಸವು ಒಂದು ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆಗ, ಅಸುರನೆಂದು ಕರೆಯಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ವರುಣನಿಗೆ ಇದ್ದ ಸ್ಥಾನಮಾನ-ಗೌರವಗಳು ನಂತರದ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಯಿತು, ಎಂದು ಪ್ರತೀತಿ. ತೈತ್ತರೀಯ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣದಲ್ಲಿ, ದಯಾಪರನಾದ ಮಿತ್ರನು ಕ್ರೂರನಾದ ವರುಣನನ್ನು ಸಮಾಧಾನಪಡಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ, (ಮಿತ್ರೋ ಹಿ ಕ್ರೂರಂ ವರುಣಂ ಶಾಂತಂ ಕರೋತಿ –ತೈ ಸಂ. 2.1.9.5) ಎಂಬ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖವಿದೆ.

ಇಂದ್ರನು ವರುಣನನ್ನು ದೇವತೆಗಳ ಆಧಿಪತ್ಯದಿಂದ ಸ್ಥಾನಪಲ್ಲಟಗೊಳಿಸಿದನೇ?

ಈ ವಿಚಾರ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ವಿಮರ್ಶಕರ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದಿದೆ. ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾರಣಗಳು ಇಲ್ಲದಿಲ್ಲ. ಹಲಕೆಲವು ವಾದ-ಪ್ರತಿವಾದಗಳು ಹೀಗಿವೆ.

  • ಮೇಲೆ ಹೇಳಿದಂತೆ, ವರುಣನು ಆಕಾಶ/ಅಂತರಿಕ್ಷದ ಒಡೆತನವನ್ನು ಇಂದ್ರನಿಗೆ ಕಳೆದುಕೊಂಡನು; ಕ್ರಮೇಣ ಮಿತ್ರನ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಅವನು ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರಭುತ್ವವನ್ನು ಹಂಚಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾಯಿತು; ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಊಹೆಗಳ ಸಮಾಧಾನ,  ಬೇರೆ ದೇವತೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅವನ ಗುಣ, ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿತ್ವಗಳು ಸಮ್ಮಿಳಿತವಾಗಿ, ಅವನ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕತೆ ಮಾಯವಾಯಿತು, ಎಂದಿರಬಹುದು.
  • ಭೃಗು ಸಂತತಿಯ ಋಷಿಗಳು ಅನು-ರಾಜವಂಶದವರ ಪುರೋಹಿತರಾಗಿ, ಅಂಗೀರಸರು ಪುರು-ಭಾರತರ ಪಕ್ಷಪಾತಿಗಳಾದ ನಂತರ ದಶರಾಜ್ಞದಂತಹ ಮಹಾಯುದ್ಧಗಳೇ ನಡೆದು ಹೋದವು. ಅವರ-ಇವರ ದೇವತೆಗಳೂ ಬದಲಾದವು. ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿಯ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮದ ಅಸುರ ದೇವತೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಸೇರಿ ಹೋದನು; ಅಂಗೀರಸರು ಇಂದ್ರನನ್ನು ದೇವೇಂದ್ರನನ್ನಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಷ್ಠಾಪಿಸಿದರು.
  • ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಒಟ್ಟು ಕೊಡುವಂತೆ, ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಅಭಿಮತ ಹೀಗಿದೆ. ವರುಣನು ನೀರಿನ ರಾಜ. ವೃತ್ರನು ನೀರನ್ನು ಬಂಧಿಸಿದ ಅಸುರ. ಇಂದ್ರನು ವೃತ್ರನನ್ನು ಸೋಲಿಸಿ ಜಲರಾಶಿಯನ್ನು ಬಿಡುಗಡೆ ಮಾಡಿ, ತನ್ನ ಮಹತ್ವವನ್ನೂ, ಆಧಿಪತ್ಯವನ್ನೂ ಸ್ಥಾಪಿಸಿಕೊಂಡನು. ಜೊತೆಗೇ, ವರುಣನ ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯ ಕೆಳಮುಖವಾಯಿತು.

ಕಡೆಯ ಮಾತು

ಋಗ್ವೇದದಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಮಹತ್ವದ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಹೊಂದಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ಅವನು ನೀರಿನ ಒಡೆಯ, ಇಡೀ ಜಗತ್ತನ್ನು ವ್ಯಾಪಿಸಿದವನು. ಪಾರಮಾರ್ಥಿಕ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವರುಣನು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಸಂಕೇತ. ನಿಯಮ, ವಿಧಿ, ಋತಗಳ ಅಧಿಪತಿ. ಅವನ ಪ್ರತಿ ಸ್ವರೂಪಕ್ಕೂ ಒಂದು ಆಳವಾದ ಅರ್ಥವಿದೆ.

ಆಕರಗಳು-

  1. http://www.vyasaonline.com/rig-veda/
  2. Srikant G Talageri The Rigveda and the Aryan Theory: A Rational Perspective THE FULL OUT-OF-INDIA CASE IN SHORT
  3. Varuna | sreenivasarao’s blogs

(Image credit: soulveda.com)

Ganpati

Why Offer Flowers And Fruits To Lord Ganesha?

From Sabarimala to the ban on Jallikattu to even regulating the height of the Dahi Handi pyramid, the apex court is narrowing down the space occupied by devout Hindus. Recently, a widely circulated Whatsapp message stated:

‘Don’t offer flowers and fruits to Ganapati, instead provide a pen and notebook which can go to slum dwellers at the end of the festival.’

My objection is not to the second part of the statement, it is to the “don’t offer flowers and fruits to Ganapati” part. In my opinion, there is a reason behind that message. In my opinion, the people who are filing petitions against Hindu festivals and the judges passing verdict on them represent a microcosm of Hindu society. The chief problem lies within Hindu society itself. And what is this problem?

To start with, let me present the views I held around twenty years ago-

“The Ganapati moorti is just an idol, it does not matter if you offer fruits or flowers to an inanimate idol, it does not live.”

” The Ganapati idol can be broken and anyway after ten days; you are going to put it into a river so it is not important”.

“I cannot see the idol to live, but I can see the child to who I offer the notebook and pen to become visibly happy, hence no need to keep the idol.”

“The flowers pollute rivers and waterbodies and rot there and hence it’s not useful to offer these to an idol which is not living anyway.”

“We are a secular country, and so these things are wrong.”

There can be many reasons why people in the present day think in this manner, the principle one being them viewing Hinduism through the prism of Abrahamic beliefs.  This is not accurate, since Hinduism is not Abrahamic in origin and is instead a study in consciousness.

The following reasons also contribute to the problem-

  1. Hardly anybody “normal” knows why you are offering flowers and fruits.
  2. Is the moorti of Ganapati alive? If so, when does it live? When does it stop living?
  3. What is the right time to worship Ganapati every year?

Are there proper answers to the questions above? An attempt is being made below-

The offering of flowers and fruits is a part of a Pancha upchara “Five fold offering”, based on an attempt at the purification of the five elements which exist within our own body. The five elements are earth, water, fire, wind and space. Gandha (sandalwood powder representing earth), flowers (red flowers for Ganapati representing water of our own body), a day (representing our fire), lighted agarbatti (representing our wind) and a whole fruit representing space. In some accounts, flowers correspond to earth element and fruit correspond to water element. Offering these on a daily basis purifies our elements.

The moorti of Ganesha that one brings home is just an idol, and one must consecrate and bring it to life using appropriate mantras. It is a very short procedure and after  which the moorti is living and Ganesha is deemed to be present in the idol. One can regularly repeat this process making it more potent. To know these “prana pratistha” mantras, please refer  to page 17 of this simple Ganapati Homam manual available here.

The ancient sages ritualised the process of worshiping Ganapati to 10 days which occur every year based on the lunar calendar starting from the fourth day of the waxing or bright half of Bhadrapada to the fourteenth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada month. (This year: 5th to the 15th of September of 2016). These 10 days are excellent for the invocation of Ganesha after which a mantra visarjan can be done to remove the prana from the moorti and transfer this to the devotee’s heart. After this the idol is put in water; that is why the idol should be made of dissolvable material.

May we all worship Ganesha and realise the ability of Ganesha in isolating our Indriyas from external obstacles of wrong sight, noise and the like.

Jai Ganapati!

(The article was earlier published on indiafacts.org)

 

krishna vedvyasa

महाभारत- एक ज्ञानमय प्रदीप- भाग -२

पंडित श्रीपाद दामोदर सातवलेकर जी ने महाभारत का परिचय एक इनसाइक्लोपीडिया के रूप में किया है, उन्होंने लिखा है:-

“महाभारत वस्तुतः न महाकाव्य है और न इतिहास ग्रंथ, यह तो एक विश्वकोश है; जिसमें तत्कालीन सामाजिक, राष्ट्रीय और अन्य सभी पहलुओंपर प्रकाश डालनेवाले सभी विचारों के दर्शन किए जा सकते हैं। सभी तरह का ज्ञान महाभारत में मिल सकता है। महाभारत से पूर्व के ग्रंथों में जिन जिन विषयों का विवेचन किया गया है उन सबका सूक्ष्म दर्शन इस ग्रंथ में किया जा सकता है।

स्वयं ग्रंथकार महर्षि वेदव्यासजी ने अपने इस ग्रंथ का परिचय ब्रह्माजी जी से करते हुए कहा है कि “मैंने इस भारतरूपी अपूर्व काव्यकी रचना की है। इसमें निम्नलिखित विषयों का समावेश होता है : वेदों का रहस्य, उपनिषदों का तत्वज्ञान, अंग-उपांगों की व्याख्या, इतिहास और पुराणका विकास, त्रिकाल का निरूपण, जरा-मृत्यु, भय, व्याधि, भाव अभावका विचार, त्रिविध धर्म और आश्रम का विवेचन, वर्ण धर्म आदि। इन दस श्लोकों में व्यास जी अपने ग्रंथ का पूर्ण परिचय ब्रह्मा जी से किया है।

उवाच स महातेजा ब्रह्माणं परमेष्ठिनम्।

     कृतं मयेदं भगवन् काव्यं परमपूजितम्।।१-१-६१

     ब्रह्मन् वेदरहस्यं च यच्चान्यत्त् स्थापितं मया।

      साङ्गोपनिषदां चैव वेदानां विस्तरक्रिया।।१-१-६२

इतिहासपुराणानामुन्मेषं निर्मितं च यत्|

         भूतं भव्यं भविष्यं च त्रिविधं कालसंज्ञितम्||१-१-६३

जरामृत्युभयव्याधिभावाभावविनिश्चयः|

           विविधस्य च धर्मस्य ह्याश्रमाणां च लक्षणम्||१-१-६४

 चातुर्वर्ण्यविधानं च पुराणानां च कृत्स्नशः|

      तपसो ब्रह्मचर्यस्य पृथ्वियाश्र्चन्द्रसुर्ययोः||१-१-६५

ग्रहनक्षत्रताराणां   प्रमाणं  च युगैः सह |

       ऋचो यजूंषि सामानि वेदाध्यात्मं तथैव च ||१-१-६६

न्यायशिक्षाचिकित्सा च दानं पाशुपतं तथा |

   हेतुनैव समं जन्म दिव्यमानुषसंज्ञितम् ||१-१-६७

तीर्थानां चैव पुण्यानां देशानां चैव कीर्तनम् |

   नदीनां पर्वतानां च वनानां सागरस्य च ||१-१-६८

पुराणां चैव दिव्यानां कल्पानां युद्धकौशलम् |

   वाक्यजातिविशेषाश्च लोकयात्राक्रमश्च यः ||१-१-६९

यच्चापि सर्वगं वस्तु तच्चैव प्रतिपादितम् |

      परं न लेखकः कश्चिदेतस्य भुवि विद्यते ||१-१-७०

वेदों की श्रुतियों के अर्थ केवल उन्हीं को प्राप्य थे जो ऋषियों द्वारा स्थापित आश्रमों में शिक्षा ग्रहण करने पहुँचते थे। ऐसे में एक बड़ा वर्ग इन ज्ञान के तत्वों से अछूता रह जाता था, उस समय ऋषियों के परिश्रम से ही पुराणों का जन्म हुआ। वे कथाओं के माध्यम से वेदों के रहस्य जन जन तक ले जाने का प्रयोग कर रहे थे। महर्षि वेदव्यासजी ने उन्हीं तपस्वी ऋषियों के परिश्रम को अपनी स्वयं की वर्षों की तपस्या से जोड़कर एक ऐसे ग्रंथ का निर्माण किया जो मानव का हर युग में मार्गदर्शन कर सके।

महाभारत का प्रभाव ये हुआ कि जनता ने इन कथाओं से स्वयं को जोड़ा, उन्हें चर्चाओं के केंद्र में अपनी बात रखने के लिए उपलब्ध पाया। किसानों मजदूरों ने भी लोकगीतों के माध्यम से इसे अपने निकट ही पाया और अपनी समझ को बढ़ाने में इसे उपयोगी ही जाना।

पर क्या किसी मिथ्या प्रचार के कारण हम इस ज्ञान के अक्षय भंडार को स्वयं से दूर करते जा रहे हैं, आज हमें इस पर विचार करना चाहिए। क्योंकि महाभारत ग्रंथ ऐसा ग्रंथ जिसमे सभी प्रकार के दर्शन शास्त्रों का समावेश है। महाभारत से ही हमें श्रीमाद्भाग्वात्गीता प्राप्त हुई, जो श्री कृष्ण और अर्जुन के बीच हुए संवाद का रूप है। ऐसी ही अनेक गीताओं का महाभारत में भिन्न भिन्न स्थानों पर जन्म हुआ है। उनमे यक्ष-युधिष्ठिर संवाद, नारद-युधिष्ठिर संवाद, भीष्म-युधिष्ठिर संवाद, विदुर-धृतराष्ट्र संवाद (जिसे विदुर नीति के रूप में जाना जाता है) का भी समावेश है।

महाभारत को केवल लड़ाई झगड़ों वाला ही ग्रंथ मान लेना एक बड़ी भूल है। आचार्य बलदेव उपाध्याय जी ने लिखा है कि “वेदव्यासजी का अभिप्राय महाभारत लिखकर केवल युद्धों का वर्णन नहीं है, अपितु इस भौतिक जीवन की निःसारता दिखला कर प्राणियों को मोक्ष के लिए उत्सुक बनाना है। इसलिए महाभारत का मुख्य रस शांत है, वीर तो अंगभूत है।”

समय समय पर अनेक विद्वान कवियों ने महाभारत की कथाओं से ही प्रेरणा लेकर अपने काव्यों की रचना की है, जिनमे महाकवि कालिदास का नाम प्रमुख है। इसी कारण से विधा निवास मिश्र जी ने कहा है कि “जब कभी भी अंधकार के क्षण में किसी रचनाकार को राह नहीं दिखती है, तो उसे महाभारत से आलोक मिलता है। इसीलिए महाभारत ज्ञानमय प्रदीप कहा गया है।”

महाभारत इस भारत नामक राष्ट्र का हृदय है। अध्यात्म,धर्म तथा नीति की विशद विवेचना ने इस महाभारत को भारतीय धर्म तथा संस्कृति का विशाल विश्वकोश बनाया है, और इसी से प्रेरणा लेकर महर्षि वैशम्पायन जी ने कहा है:

धर्मे चार्थे च कामे च मोक्षे च भरतर्षभ।

             यदिहास्ति तदन्यत्र यन्नेहास्ति न तत् क्वचित्।।१-६२-५३

अर्थात धर्म,अर्थ काम मोक्ष के संबंध में जो बात इस ग्रंथ में है, वही अन्यत्र भी है। जो इसमें नहीं है वह कहीं भी नहीं है।

सन्दर्भ:

महाभारत – आदिपर्व – पंडित श्रीपाद दामोदर सातवलेकर जी (स्वाध्याय मंडल पारडी)

महाभारत – आदिपर्व – पंडित रामनारायण दत्त शास्त्री पाण्डेय (गीताप्रेस गोरखपुर)

महाभारत का काव्यार्थ – पंडित विद्या निवास मिश्र – नेशनल पब्लिशिंग हाउस

संस्कृत साहित्य का काव्य – श्री बलदेव उपाध्याय – शारदा मंदिर वाराणसी

महाभारत एक दर्शन – दिनकर जोशी – प्रभात प्रकाशन

महाभारत- एक ज्ञानमय प्रदीप- भाग -१

Featured Image Credits: FirstCry

vedic chants

Vedas Not for Sati

Five Ancient Vedic Mantras that Dissuade Sati and Encourage Widow Remarriage!

In the light of 14th century  Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary

Introduction

I was watching the Amir Khan starrer movie Mangal Pandey (2005) few weeks ago. There is a scene that depicts that during the period of Mangal pandey – Sati was prevalent. The movie also shows an English officer preventing the carrying out of Sati practice and rescuing the lady who was allegedly taken to be immolated. Later, it is shown that the lady thus rescued, falls in love with the English Sahib.

While watching these scenes, having undergone training in the tradition Gurukula system in the Vedas and also having got introduced to śāstric learning – I was curious about what the Vedas said about Sati, though  readily I did not remember any injunctions on Sati in the Vedas. The question got lodged in my mind. The movie ended and many days passed. But the question lingered.

One day for my regular Vedic tweets[1], I was browsing the Taittirīya āraṇyaka with Sāyaṇabhāṣya (commentary by  Sāyaṇācārya). I happened to look into the 6th Praśna (chapter). I was shaken to see a set of five mantras (Taittirīya āraṇyaka 6.1.3.1-5) and the lucid commentary of Sāyaṇācārya (14th Century Vedic  Commentator) that answered my questions on Sati very clearly.

I was aware that the mantras in the sixth Praśna are used for funeral rites. But I never expected that it would have these five mantras and that too with such directness and clarity. They encourage the lady whose husband has passed away to live on, assume the wealth and status of her husband, remarry and continue the fight of survival in this world.

Period

Taittirīyaśākhā (to which Taittirīya āraṇyaka belongs to) being an ancient Vedic text is certainly a text before the commencement of the common era  (hence the text is more than 2000 years old).

It is to be noted that of the five mantras discussed below – Mantra 1 found is also found in atharvaṇaveda saṃhitā  – (11.3.1) and Mantra 2 is found  in Ṛgvedasaṃhitā (10.018.008). Mantras 3-5 are unique to Taittirīya āraṇyaka as far as I searched.   Presence of the Mantras in the Saṃhitā texts pushes the antiquity of the mantras further deep into the past.

Sāyaṇācārya whose commentary is used to explain these mantras is from 14th Century, Vijayanagara empire.

The mantras and their Meaning

Mantra 1

इयं नारी पतिलोकं वृणाना निपद्य उप त्वा मर्त्य प्रेतम्।

विश्वं पुराणमनुपालयन्ती तस्यै प्रजां द्रविणं चेह धेहि॥

iyaṃ nārī patilokaṃ vṛṇānā nipadya upa tvā martya pretam.
viśvaṃ purāṇamanupālayantī tasyai prajāṃ draviṇaṃ ceha dhehi..

Word by Word Paraphrased meaning based on Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary (the words in Bold are the Vedic words & Sanskrit terms that are not bold are the words of the commentator)

हे मर्त्य – मनुष्य – Oh Human! (या) नारी – मृतस्य तव भार्या – the lady – wife of you, the dead (सा) पतिलोकम्  (the world of the husband) वृणाना – कामयमाना  – being desirous प्रेतम् – मृतम्  – the dead त्वाम् – (you) उपनिपद्यते – समीपे नितरां प्राप्नोति – attains/stays in your proximity intensely   (कीदृशी  How is she?)

पुराणम् – अनादिकालप्रवृत्तम् – that which is in vogue since time immemorial

विश्वम् – कृत्स्नम् स्त्रीधर्मम् all dharmas(duties/roles) of a woman अनु पालयन्ती  – following (पतिव्रतानां स्त्रीणां पत्या सह वासः परमो धर्मः। The greatest Dharma of chaste women is to stay with the husband) तस्यै  – धर्मपत्न्यै  – for that Dharma-patni (त्वम् – you) इह –  लोके – in this world (निवासार्थमनुज्ञां दत्त्वा after granting permission to stay) प्रजाम् – पूर्वं विद्यमानां पुत्रादिकाम्, sons etc that exist prior  द्रविणम् – धनं – wealth and धेहि – सम्पादय, अनुजानीहीत्यर्थः। endow, grant (this is the meaning)

Summary

Oh! Departed one! This lady being desirous of attaining the world of the (you) husband is intensely staying in your proximity (near the dead body). And she follows (this) dharma of a (married) woman that is continuing since time immemorial (desiring proximity of the husband always). To such a devoted wife grant permission to stay in this world of living beings and also permit her to attain (your)(pre-existing) progeny and wealth.

Observations

1) It is clear from this Mantra that the wife follows the dead body of the husband not due to any pressure from the society but from the intrinsic sense of Dharma of a wife and also deep commitment to her relationship with her husband and the emotional bonding with her husband due to years of married life.

2) It is also clear from the tone of the mantra above that the others have the responsibility to make the lady respectfully turn away from the dead husband (and not force/encourage her to immolation- Sati).

3) From this Vedic mantra and the subsequent mantras it will become clear that the right of inheritance and also the custody/care of the children should rightfully belong to the wife and none can interfere. Further, as this mantra indicates pre-existing children, it implies that this mantra focuses on the wife who has been married to the deceased for at least a few years.

Mantra – 2

उदीर्ष्व नार्यभि जीवलोकमितासुमेतमुपशेष एहि।

हस्तग्राभस्य दिधिषोस्त्वमेतत्पत्युर्जनित्वमभिसम्बभूव॥

udīrṣva nāryabhi jīvalokamitāsumetamupaśeṣa ehi.
hastagrābhasya didhiṣostvametatpatyurjanitvamabhisambabhūva..

Word by Word Paraphrased meaning based on Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary

हे नारि  – Hey! Lady (त्वम् you) इतासुम् – गतप्राणम् – the one from whom the prana/life has departed  एतम्  – पतिम् – this husband उपशेषे – उपेत्य शयनं करोषि  – you are lying near  उदीर्ष्व – अस्मात् पतिसमीपात् उत्तिष्ठ – from the proximity of this husband get up  जीवलोकमभि – जीवनं प्राणिसमूहम् अभिलक्ष्य  – towards the living being एहि -आगच्छ – come (त्वम् You) हस्तग्राभस्य – पाणिग्राहवतः the one who takes (your) hand दिधिषोः – पुनर्विवाहेच्छोः – the one who is desirous of remarriage पत्युः  – the husband एतज्जनित्वम् – जायात्वम् – status of wife अभिसम्बभूव – आभिमुख्येन सम्यक् प्राप्नुहि – attain very well

Summary

Hey Lady! You are lying near the body of the husband from where life has departed. Get up from there and come towards the world of living beings. Attain the status of wife of a man whose desires to hold your hand and marry (you) again.

Observations

1) There cannot be any more emphatic reference to remarriage of the widow from the Vedas.

2) It is also clear from the Mantra above that there is life and happiness in this world to the wife of a deceased. She is not required to go with her husband.

3) It can be noted that this mantra does not speak about progeny and inheritance of wealth but focuses on remarriage. Hence it can be taken that this could possibly be uttered to the newly or recently wed woman who has not given birth to child or she is issueless from this man.

Mantras – 3,4,5

सुवर्णग्ं हस्तादाददाना मृतस्य श्रियै ब्रह्मणे तेजसे बलाय।

अत्रैव त्वमिह वयग्ं सुशेवा विश्वा स्पृधो अभिमातीर्जयेम॥

धनुर्हस्तादाददाना मृतस्य श्रियै क्षत्रायौजसे बलाय।

अत्रैव त्वमिह वयग्ं सुशेवा विश्वा स्पृधो अभिमातीर्जयेम॥

मणिग्ं हस्तादाददाना मृतस्य श्रियै विशे पुष्ट्यै बलाय।

अत्रैव त्वमिह वयग्ं सुशेवा विश्वा स्पृधो अभिमातीर्जयेम॥

suvarṇagṃ hastādādadānā mṛtasya śriyai brahmaṇe tejase balāya.
atraiva tvamiha vayagṃ suśevā viśvā spṛdho abhimātīrjayema..
dhanurhastādādadānā mṛtasya śriyai kṣatrāyaujase balāya.
atraiva tvamiha vayagṃ suśevā viśvā spṛdho abhimātīrjayema..
maṇigṃ hastādādadānā mṛtasya śriyai viśe puṣṭyai balāya.
atraiva tvamiha vayagṃ suśevā viśvā spṛdho abhimātīrjayema..

Note: As can be seen from the description below, these mantras convey the same theme. Hence they are clubbed and explained together

Word by Word Paraphrased meaning based on Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary

हे नारि Hey Lady! त्वम्  – you! श्रियै – सम्पदर्थम् – for wealth ब्रह्मणे – ब्राह्मणजात्यर्थम् – to attain Brahminhood तेजसे – कान्त्यर्थम् – for lusture

बलाय – शरीरबलार्थम् – physical strength मृतस्य – पुरुषस्य – of the dead man

हस्तात् सुवर्णमाददाना सति having taken the gold(en) ornament

अत्रैव जीवलोके तिष्ठ stay here itself in the world of living beings वयम् अपीह लोके We also in this world सुशेवाः – सुखं सेवमानाः सन्तः enjoying happiness/comforts

स्पृधः – अस्माभिः सह स्पर्धमाना competing/struggling with us (in attaining comforts) विश्वा अभिमातीः – सर्वान् शत्रून् – all enemies जयेम let us overcome

हे नारि Hey Lady! त्वं you! श्रियै – सम्पदर्थम् – for wealth क्षत्राय ओजसे  (for the status of warriorhood and prowess) बलाय – शरीरबलार्थम् – physical strehngth

मृतस्य – पुरुषस्य – of the dead man हस्तात् धनुराददाना सती having taken the bow from his hand  (Rest अत्रैव जीवलोके तिष्ठ – stay here itself in the world of living beings – till जयेम – same as above)

हे नारि Hey Lady! त्वं you! श्रियै – सम्पदर्थम् – for wealth विशे पुष्ट्यै (for the status of vaishyahood and prosperity/nourishment) बलाय – शरीरबलार्थम् – physical strength मृतस्य – पुरुषस्य – of the dead man हस्तात् मणिग्ं आददाना सती having taken the precious stone from his hand  (Rest अत्रैव जीवलोके तिष्ठ – stay here itself in the world of living beings – till जयेम – same as above

Summary

Hey Lady! To attain wealth, Brahminhood, glow and physical strength – take the golden ornament (Suvarṇa) from the hand of the dead (husband) and stay in this world.

Hey Lady! To attain wealth, kṣatriyahood, prowess and physical strength – take the Bow (Dhanus) from the hand of the dead (husband) and stay in this world.

Hey Lady! To attain wealth, vaiśyahood, prosperity/nourishment and physical strength – take the precious stone (Maṇi) from the hand of the dead (husband) and stay in this world.

We are also there in this world enjoying the comforts here in. Compete/struggle with us (in attaining comforts/ in the journey of life) and let us overcome all the adversaries.

Observations

This mantra is very significant. It has so many progressive ideas millennia ahead. A symbolic act is advised as that of taking a golden ornament, bow and precious stone from the hand of the dead depending upon his Varṇa. As it is clear from the Mantra, this symbolic act is done probably –

1) To ensure the continuity of the social status for the woman in the same Varṇa as that of her Husband.

2) This physical memento from the husband in the form of- ornament, bow and the precious stone is very important psychologically. Later, at times of hardships and struggle in the absence of the husband, the lady by the physical touch/seeing of the memento can derive inspiration and strength.

How more thoughtful and psychologically and emotionally comforting can the Vedas become to a bereaved lady?

3) The last portion that is common to three mantras is at the same time pragmatic, motivating and comforting. The wording Let “us” in the first person plural indicates that we are all with you – it comforts the lady that she is not alone. It is motivating as it invites/challenges the lady to come and fight/compete in attaining happiness as others. It gives hope that all is not lost. Finally it is also pragmatic when it says – there will be adversaries, there will be hardships, emotional challenges – hence learn to fight it out.

4) One may have a question as I did, as to what happens to the woman who is not in the three Varṇas. As there is no mention directly, one is not sure. Still, as can be observed from the tone and tenor of the mantras – it can be clearly seen that if the women of the three Varṇas themselves, who are bound by so many rules, regulations and rituals can remarry, inherit and live on happily, then what remains to be said about the other classes where restrictions, rules, regulations and rituals are not very strict and minimal going by the textual evidences.

Conclusions

Coming back to Amir khan’s movie’s (Mangal Pandey, 2005) Sati scene, that was mentioned initially – the historic personality Mangal Pandey portrayed in the movie lived in the early part of 19th century (1827-57). Even, if we take the views of the movie to be true on Sati, then it portrays the status of women in and around 19th century.

But as seen in exposition above – 14th century Sāyaṇācārya is not hesitant/reluctant in explaining the views of the mantra.  Nor do the ancient mantras of the Vedias express any ambiguity in remarriage and non-preference to Sati and inheritance of wealth and social status by women from the husband.

Thus as a student of the Vedas and adherent of Sanātana Hindu Dharma, I got reassured that the Vedic teachings, Hindu culture, at its source, respected regarded women to a very great extent, a level which is unimaginable even to the so called liberals and progressives of the current day. Digressions and distortions (such as Sati) in our dharma, in its existence of many millennia, might have happened due to various factors. As insightfully observed centuries ago by Śrīśaṅkarācārya in  Gītābhāṣya –

anuṣṭhātṝṇāṃ kāmodbhavād hīyamanavivekavijñānahetukena adharmeṇa abhibhūyamāne dharme, pravardhamāne ca adharme…

(gītābhāṣya upodghāta)

Due to the gaining of upper hand of Adharma that is caused by increase of Kāma/desire and the resultant loss of viveka (discrimination) and Vijñāna (experiential wisdom) in practitioners (distortions and digressions might have crept in).

The right course then to rectify and root out such digressions and undesirable practices is not to condemn Hindu dharma and vilify the Vedas and the Śāstras. But to adopt the following approach –

a) adhyayana – to go the source – Learn the Vedas, Samskrita and understand the Vedic guidance (and not depend upon the books of the English/western Sahibs on the Vedas)

b) anuṣṭhāna – to the extent possible practice the universal Vedic teachings and experience the Vedic way of life (a inspire others to follow suit)

c) Developing Viveka and Vijñāna – And by anuṣṭhāna develop analytical thinking and experiential understanding of human life and live closer to realities of our times.

References

Taittirīya āraṇyaka with Sāyaṇabhāṣya, Anada ashrama, Pune 2008 (reprint)

śrīmadbhagavadgītā śāṅkarabhāṣya, Gita press, Gorakhpur , 2015

[1] I tweet twice or thrice weekly from the Vedic wisdom from my twitter handle – @YogaJayaraman

(Featured Image Credits: Daily Excelsior)

Shivaji the Great Maratha by Ranjit Desai

I believe that the most important national problem that Indians have to solve is not as such poverty, nor strategic weakness, nor terrorism. Of course these are huge problems and India must solve them at some point in order to achieve its full potential.

However, these problems are all offshoots of the same root cause, and unless we remove that root cause, we will anyway not be able to solve any of these great problems. Even if we cure the symptoms temporarily, we will again be saddled with some other version of the same problem in no time.

That root problem is Indians’ lack of belief in ourselves. No individual or society can change their lives in fundamental ways unless there is a conviction in our ability to solve big problems of life. Majority of Indians as of now lack that conviction. We believe that we as people are neither capable nor good.

To put it simply, Indians lack national self-esteem. We have to first overcome that lack of self – esteem before we will be able to really remove our many ills from their roots.

It is important to understand that someone who lacks self-esteem does not lack abilities. Observe low self-esteem individuals closely. You will see some good (if not great) qualities in them. So they don’t lack real ability. What they do lack is a deep connection to all that is good in them. And since they lack that internal connection, they cannot harness it to improve their lives.

One trait of societies lacking in self-esteem is that they don’t celebrate their great people and achievements. If you search for biographies of any great American, you will find literally dozens well researched, well written books.

Try doing the same for say, Sardar Patel, or Swami Vivekananda, or Rani Lakshmibai, or any other great Indian. You will get very few, and most of those would be shoddily written. This is one of the ways in which India’s lack of national self – esteem manifests itself.

Fortunately, however, India also always had a section of population who escaped centuries of conditioning to think of ourselves as “inferior” people. People who have full appreciation of all the greatness and beauty we have created over ages. People who have full understanding of what it took to be a Vivekananda, or a Sardar Patel. Or for that matter, a Shivaji!

What a phenomenal individual Shivaji Raje was. When we were in school, Shivaji used to be referred in the text books as “Napoleon of India.” Oh! What an insulting sobriquet it was! Napoleon?! He bled France white, subjected his nation to humiliation by British and spent his last days in a British prison. How can you compare that man, howsoever great his military prowess was, to a man like Shivaji who practically saved the honor of the entire civilization of the subcontinent! It is not an exaggeration to say that but for a handful of men like him, India might very well be resembling a regressive country like Iran or Egypt today.

We have not celebrated such individuals enough because of our low self esteem. However, there have been exceptional individuals who have kept the spark of India’s civilizational pride alight, and I count the original author of this book as one of them. Ranjit Desai has created a highly readable literary rendition of Shivaji’s exceptional, dramatic and noble life, and thereby connected his readers to India’s greatness.

I have commented quite a lot on India’s state as a society. Now to the quality of the book’s contents: To me, a great book must possess a few qualities, and I will comment on them for the book under review one by one. First off, any book must be authentic, true to its subject.

In case of a biography, that means that the book must be thoroughly researched, and describe every significant event in the person’s life. Ranjit Desai gets full marks for this.

Every incident of Shivaji’s life is appropriately dramatized (it’s a literary rendition) by the author. I too learned about many incidents that my earlier studies of Shivaji had not brought out. For checking the authenticity, I also googled a couple of incidents (about the Patil of Ranza for example) to see if the book captured them appropriately.

I am happy to say that it checked out every time. While this biography is told like a story, you can take it that everything you see in the book might well have been written by a great historian.

And secondly, a great book must grip its reader. Many books are authentic but fail on this criterion. It was a torture to go through some of the most insightful books I have read. However, Ranjit Desai and the translator (Vikrant Pande) do not disappoint on this score either. The way the narrative moves as you read it makes the book pretty much unputdownable for the most part.

For instance, one of the most dramatic incidents in Shivaji’s life was the destruction (literal and figurative) of Afzal Khan. The entire episode, from the time Khan picks up the “paan” in Bijapur darbar (to drag Shivaji to the darbar), to his preparations, movements, his wanton desecration of temples, Shivaji learning everything through spies, Shivaji’s responses and the final denouement when Shivaji kills him with “Waghnakh”, is so gripping that I literally could not tear myself away from the book till it was over.

Another test of readability of a story is what kind of emotions it arouses in the reader. I literally felt exhilarated, as if I just heard the news of Afzal’s execution (pun intended!), when finally Shivaji kills the demoniacal jihadi.

The only small complaint I have is that there is too much crying in the many conversations that take place in the narrative. I seriously doubt, if that would have happened, given how hardy everyone in the story was in reality. But that does not take away from the greatness and authenticity of narration.

Overall, I would say it is a must read for every Indian, especially those who have not lost all pride in our civilization. In the end, I also found myself regretting I do not know Marathi, because no translation can match the feel and nuance of an original. But even in translation, the book is a phenomenal read. Not only will it connect the reader with India’s native greatness, but it will also be a very enjoyable experience.

Shivaji: The Great Maratha is available on Amazon.

(This article was first published by IndiaFacts here.)

 

 

 

 

vedic culture

Vedic Culture: The Difference It Can Make in Your Life

What Vedic Knowledge has to Offer the World: A Different Kind of Primer

It sometimes feels that these days everyone is writing, and everyone is talking – all the time! There are so many books being written, and it does not matter if there is no publisher willing to publish them.

The authors can self-publish, and Amazon is willing to sell it to the world, one print-to-order copy at a time. If there is so much being written, is there anyone who is reading these books? Like the philosophical thought experiment which asks, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?” we may also ask, “If everyone is writing, is there anyone reading?”

While this intro to a review of “Vedic Culture: The Difference it Can Make in Your Life,” maybe rather discomfiting, it is offered with the hope that some people, especially those busy writing their own books, will indeed pick this book up to ponder over their own fate in this world of maya, and the fate of the world in the grip of busy human bodies.

We are living in a world that is teetering on the edge of disaster – overpopulation, unbridled consumption, over production, environmental disasters, and nature gone awry. One year of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the deaths of about 2.5 million people, but the world population in just these first fifty days of 2021 has increased by more than twelve million!

We are close to 7.9 billion people in the world now, and by 2060 we will be ten billion of us — consuming more, producing more, and accelerating toward some kind of doomsday where the earth will heave a sigh and bury most of us dead. What should we do?

Well, we have multi-billionaires like Bill Gates who lives in Seattle in a 66,000 square foot, $127 million mansion, and who is worth 80 billion dollars, writing a book titled, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, but the irony of it seems lost on the world as the book is a bestseller.

The man himself is interviewed repeatedly on this matter of saving life on this planet and neither the millionaire interviewers nor the billionaire interviewee wants to ask uncomfortable questions of each other’s lifestyles, and what they should be doing to save humanity.

Then there are the “self-help” books, churned day in day out, urging people to do this, that, and the other to “find themselves,” to “discover themselves,” to “be yourself,” and what not. Life lessons have been purveyed since the beginning of human history for the human world has been in crisis for long. The human species has taken over the earth, multiplied rapidly, and discovered ways of keeping death at bay. We have presented ourselves with a conundrum: the mor we are, the less we have of other life, and the longer we live, the faster we reach doomsday. However, seers who have pondered the human condition have shown us the way out of this box. There have led us to the water, but we have refused to drink.

The “who are we?” “why are we here?” and “where do we go from here?” questions are perennial, and answers have ranged from the deeply ignorant to the deeply esoteric, with little palliatives thrown in to soothe the anxious nerves of the questioners discombobulated by life’s “whackathons”. So, what is it that can be said that has not been said and shared before? But it is like asking whether good music has not been made before, or pujas performed before, or pilgrimages taken before.

Therefore, good books on the “condition of man” need to be written and read again in the hope that the many “walking wounded” in the world can be made “happy, energetic runners,” understanding that limits to consumption and desire cannot be placed by engineering the outside world, but by discovering the true nature of being human.

This book, edited by Stephen Knapp, is written with that intention. “Vedic Culture” is not just a compilation of essays by authors telling us how they discovered yoga and meditation, and found meaning in life, or satisfaction in their relationship with the world. Yes, there is some of it, and readers may indeed wish there were a little more of it, because in the recounting of life struggles, and what and who came to their rescue, we will find much that is appealing and elevating.

Evoking rasa is important in triggering the dormant quest for the higher and rousing us from apathy and distress.

“Vedic Culture” offers seventeen essays, nine of them in Part I of the book titled “The Vedic Spiritual Paths,” and another eight in Part II, titled, “The Vedic Arts and Sciences”. The foreword by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) gets the reader primed to read the rest of the book while giving an overview of the nature of the Vedic understanding of the cosmos, and Vedic practices and traditions that enable us to live dharmic lives.

As he says, “Vedic knowledge teaches us how to work with these powers of the conscious universe from the biological forces in our bodies, to the psychological forces in our minds, to the spiritual energies of the soul but as linked to all the energies of the cosmos, which are part of one greater being” (p. 9). The compilation of essays in the book, he says, does not “simply… extol the value of Vedic culture, (but) it aims at showing its relevance for everyone today, including for those who may not have previously considered it to be important” (p. 12).

Stephen Knapp’s introductory essay sets the pace for the rest of the book. He writes about growing up in a small town in Michigan, discovering Christianity’s dark underbelly, and spending his youth in search of truth and wisdom.

He writes about meeting people who had turned to vegetarianism and to meditation, and how he made it to the Krishna Temple in Denver tired of his music gigs and seeking spiritual rest. Knapp takes us on a quick tour of the Vedic world, and worried about the dangers of Western theological dogma and what harm it has already wrought, he argues that “India must remain the homeland of a living and dynamic Vedic culture” (p. 27).

Lessons in yoga, meditation, and the setting of the inner compass right have been shared with the Western world for at least a couple of centuries now, but instead of the West learning from what India has to offer, it seems like India and the rest of the world have bought into the giddy and greedy pursuit of material wealth and pleasure wholesale, proffered by the West, bringing us all to the edge of the cliff from where we collectively stare down into a calamitous future. Thus, all the palliatives that Gates and the United Nations or the well-paid scholars sitting in their plush offices in think tanks offer will not help us figure out fast enough how to stop us from careening into a death spiral.

They cannot help because they are all into “outer engineering”: how to trade in carbon credits, how to reuse stuff, how to send us to Mars, how to tap the Moon for water, mine a comet for minerals, how nuclear power is the answer to reducing carbon levels, etc.

They ask us to “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but these mantras, offered also by concerned city mayors to professors teaching at local universities have been mere exhortations disengaged from a learning and understanding of the true human self. They make for only temporary and ineffective band aids: overflowing garbage and recycle bins in front of every household in the US is a clear indication of that.

Part II of “Vedic Culture” includes essays on the scientific worldview of the Vedas (Dhan Roussé), discovering science in the Vedas (Subhash Kak), the Vedic account of human origins (Michael Cremo), Ayurveda (Pratichi Mathur), Vedic astrology (Chakrapani Ullal), gemology in the Vedic tradition (Howard Beckman), Vastu Shastra – the Vedic approach to architecture (Arun Naik), and the environment (Michael Cremo).

Each of these essays offers a quick peek into the vast world of Vedic knowledge, and as such this book is an interesting primer for those Westerners beginning their journey on the meditative and yogic path, as well as an introduction to Indian and Indian American readers who want to know more about what some Americans have found on their spiritual journey, and with whom they have collaborated to walk this path that the ancient Hindu rishis have laid for us.

What I wished, however, as I read Knapp’s essay as well as those by Robert Taylor, Jeffrey Armstrong, Tom Beal, Andy Fraenkel, and others in the first section of the book was that these essays would have had much more appeal to the lay reader if the authors had spent a little bit more time describing their personal journeys: for in the telling of those tales would be revealed the beauty and the power of Vedic knowledge. Each one of these authors, I believe, has a moving tale to tell, just like what Baba Rampuri recounts in his “Autobiography of a Sadhu,” or Narvada Puri reveals in her “Tears of Bliss”.

We need these stories, as well as the important lessons in Vedic science, Ayurveda, Vastu Shastra, etc., to ensure that we are not consumed by greed, and that we only consume what we need. What might have also made the book more appealing would have been to include a few well-chosen graphics (there are only a couple) to offset the text-heavy pages.

Yes, there is still the challenge of clothing, feeding, and offering shelter to the ten billion people by 2060. But without a massive transformation of our mindset, and a change in our hearts, and without a clear guide for our spiritual quest that task would be unmanageable.

“Vedic Culture” includes an informative glossary and offers a subject index, useful to lay readers as well as scholars. The book is published by Vedic Friends Association (VFA), a 501C3 nonprofit organization whose mission is “… to Present, Preserve, Protect and Promote the Principles and Practices of the Universal Dharma, in all its dimensions.”

VFA’s current president is Benny Tillman, aka Balabhadra Bhattacharya Dasa, an African American Hindu, and a direct disciple of Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON. Stephen Knapp (Srinandan Das), the editor of the book, is the founding president of VFA, and the fine foreword to the book is by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri), founding chairman of VFA.

While the book was first published in 2005, it is a book that should be on top of the reading list for all those who seek to steer their lives in the right direction, and those who are concerned about the fate of their fellow human beings.

The Wonder that is Sanskrit is available on Amazon.