Dvāpara era of four-fold cyclical theory of Socio-political and religious change observed in the ancient Indian history, mass exodus from Mathura to Dwārkā is an exemplary case of management of human resource and disciplined crowd. The then elite section of society not only denoted but connoted Śri Kṛśṇa with the derogatory word, “Ranchod” (who flees from battle Jarāsandha, the king of Magadha wanted to take revenge from Śri Kṛśṇa for, he has killed his son-in-law, Kansa.
He had attacked Mathura seventeen times and had damaged the city, mired growth, hampered normal peace, civic life and progress. Jarāsandha was defeated by Lord Kṛśṇa in all the seventeen attacks. In his eighteenth attack, Jarāsandha made alliances with friendly forces to exterminate Yadu community. Realizing the gravity of situation, Śri Kṛśṇa acted wisely and decided to migrate majority of inhabitants from Mathura to Dwārkā.
This was the straw that broke camel’s back and forced Lord Kṛśṇa to take immediate action for survival of his clan or be prepared to suffer major losses. Lord Kṛśṇa took a bold decision and migrated Yadu community to Dwārkā. He had no time to plan the migration and was forced to migrate with almost no preparatory time. It would have taken him over a month (considering distance and resources available) a long time to reach Dwārkā but he had organized the migration with a fore thought, detailed planning and meticulous execution.
Management of people, animals and bullock carts all along 800 miles was a grand feat in those days, and has a number of lessons for us to follow, especially in times of COVID-19 crisis when labour migration became a major management issue. Migration of labor from a number of states back to their native villages was an unprecedented move that Indian government was unprepared for and actions taken by the government have lessons from ancient Indian migration organized by Lord Kṛśṇa.
Some questions arise in the present context; What forced Kṛśṇa to migrate? Why did he select Dwārkā only and not any other city? How did he organize the migration? Time taken and overcoming major turbulence due to migration? Could the contemporary migration of labour have been better organized than what was witnessed and our lessons from Lord Kṛśṇa?
Migration Lessons from Study of Contemporary Migration with the One Organized by Lord Kṛśṇa
Reasons to Migrate
Primary reason was fear of King Jarāsandha attacking Mathura in alliance with Kala Yavana (the Mlecchha king), Emperor Damghosha of Chedi, king Dantavakra of Karusa, Rukmi of Vidarbha and Avnti brothers Vind and Anuvinda. The main aim of Jarāsandha was to completely destroy Mathura and kill Kṛśṇa and Balrām. Jarāsandha had offered to Yadavas to hand over both brothers Kṛśṇa and Balrām to him failing which he would destroy Mathura. Kṛśṇa sought help of Hastināpur but they also expressed inability to help, and hence, Kṛśṇa was left with no choice. In contemporary issue of migration of labour,
the fear of death and destruction was very strong; death either by COVID-19 or by hunger; as there was complete lockdown in the country and with no job, survival was difficult. Decision was to migrate with families and children added to misery of migrants. There was no transport and hence journey was on foot, cycle or rikshaws. Time and distance from Delhi (taken as one central location) was almost 1300 kilometres (800 miles) that Kṛśṇa moved. Though Kṛśṇa, being avatar of Lord Viśṇu, could have killed Jarāsandha but spared him to be later killed by Bhīma, a devotee of Lord Viśṇu.
Selection of Dwārkā as destination
Primary reason was to move to a safe place where Jarāsandha would not be able to reach. Northern and central Bharat was within reach of Jarāsandha, the Magadh emperor, and hence were vulnerable. South was a suitable area; Gomantaka mountain and king of Raivata of Ikṣavāku Vamsa were strong obstacles for Jarāsandha as compared to northern region. Sea on the west coast was invincible by Jarāsandha and hence Kṛśṇa planned to migrate to Kaushasthali which he later named as Dwārkā (Dwār meaning gate and kā meaning mokṣa i.e. gateway to mokṣa).
In present scenario, migrating labour moved from states like Maharashtra, Gujrat, Punjab, Delhi and others to their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc. Last census by the government was conducted in 2011 that shows an existing and known pattern of migration within India that people undertake in search of jobs. But this was an unexpected and unique reverse migration due to unprecedented pandemic that created panic among labour and
temporary social instability in India. Timely assessment of situation and planning of movement could have prevented the circumstances becoming serious and masses moving on the streets. The state governments like UP and Bihar became active and started sending buses for their respective labour that the centre and Delhi governments also started helping. The situation took political, economic and social complex web and took longer to settle.
The migration plans
Lord Kṛśṇa had to migrate over night against will of Balrām, king Agrasen and many others. They all were ready to fight Jarāsandha and even prepared to die. But that was not acceptable to Kṛśṇa. He preferred his clan to migrate and survive. The move was majority on foot and in bullock carts. Mythology also says that Lord Kṛśṇa prayed and Bhu devī moved them overnight in their sleep to Kaushalsthali to which the author has reservations as it appears more of philosophical construct about the migration. Move of ladies, children and animals would have been slow, difficult and torturous. Kṛśṇa organized their stay enroute in Gomanatak mountains and with Raivata king. To that end, he even accepted marriage of princess Revati daughter of King Raivata with Balrām.
Resource management and controlling movement of the clan with the help of friendly kings ensured safety and well-being of his people. A contemporary analysis of labour migration during pandemic suggests that this movement was sudden and possibly administration was taken aback and had no plans in place at the outset for labour migrating from west to east. It was a graduated response
from government officials and plans were implemented as per the developing situation. Trains like Shramjivi Express were pressed into service much later. The dilemma of letting them migrate or stop all movements itself was not clear. Adhoc administrative arrangements were made by various districts’ administration, Non-government Organisations, and local people between Delhi and Lucknow and beyond to Patna.
The leadership during the migration of Yādavas was well defined; Lord Kṛśṇa was in charge and he along with his brother Balrām orchestrated entire journey. Kṛśṇa had his share of social, physical, economic threats before, during and post migration which he tackled through flexibility of thought and decisive in action. In contemporary migration of labour, there were number of leaders in the fray, each one with personal, social and national goals. Though the common aim was safety of the migrants but whether they should move or stay in respective locations itself was a major decision dilemma.
Meanwhile, the labour continued to travel, which posed leadership challenges at both state and centre level. Despite a sincere leader like Mr Narendra Modi being at the helm of affairs, the situation got out of control. The realization dawned much later when integrated and collective decisions were taken to use public transport for movement of the migrants. The democratic challenges could have been overcome if, civil administration had adapted a flexible style of collaborative leadership style. May be some political leaders could have risen to visionary and servant leadership levels, the situation would have been different.
The two cases of migration are far different in time zones, yuga zones, technology and almost in every other sense; some readers may even find it comparing apples with oranges, the fact still remains that people migrated and they suffered the agony of leadership crises and consequent physical, economic and psycho- socio predicaments. The datum shows that a huge number of men and women was humiliated, they became outcastes within their own nation. Empathy and physical support were
so much more needed during migration as compared to any other time in recent history. When the well to-do people in the society needed them, they enjoyed their at services but when that need was temporarily ended due to COVID-19; we did not look after them and they were forced to migrate back to their villages and towns. Once the realization dawned that these very people are the working force of India; measures were put in place to help them out. Gradually the situation eased out.
We needed a Kṛśṇa in present crisis who could have reduced their agony, if not fully overcome.
We have a charismatic leader who can impact the situation in future
This is an analysis of the labour migration crisis from system’s view though one of the archetypes known as “Fixes that fail”.
Government of India declared Lockdown on 22nd March, 2020 that had unintended consequences of labour from various metros migrating to their home towns. These unintended outcomes were rectified by fresh measures to prevent migration but unfortunately further deteriorated into complex psycho-social dilemma and a crisis. This cycle of actions and reactions was repeated till some acceptable solution was arrived at. The situation should have been dealt with, in a more rational manner to stop migration or manage it effectively. Cause and effect and circles of causality (Figure 1 of fixes that fail) identify the problem with two feedback loops; Balancing loop B1 and Reinforcing loop R1. System’s view shows balancing B1 loop where in due to country wide lockdown due to COVID-19, the labour class working in metros e.g. Delhi, started migrating back to their home towns in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and other states.
As the pandemic spread, migration numbers swell; depicted by ‘S’ in Figure 1; meaning rising migration rates which caused people to violate law and order. It forced the government to take harsh measures to prevent migration to protect people from getting infected. Steps by the Delhi government reduced the migration temporarily as shown by balancing part by ‘O’ in B1 loop. This was the first set of fixes or measures by the government that should have solved the problem. By these measures, part of migrating population was checked and stopped either within Delhi or at the borders of Delhi and UP. Since the measures put in place by the government were not strong enough, the impact multiplied and more labour started migrating as shown by ‘S1’ in R1 loop.
Multiplying effect led to people congregating at various places for buses and not finding them started hiring other means of transport or started walking along highways. Actions by the government, halted the migration temporarily but accentuated the problem with every passing day (time delay) called ‘Delay’ in Reinforcing loop R1 and it was visible on ground. Poverty and hunger added fuel to the fire. There was pandemonium across the nation and uneasy tension among Indians for inability of government to resolve the challenge could be felt. This impact is depicted by ‘S2’ in R1 loop. The entire issue is analysed with a holistic or ‘system’s view’ that says that for every problem, there are solutions that have to be assessed and applied in a holistic manner, failing which the measures fail and problem gets compounded. As problem gets compounded, further actions are initiated by the actors and situation improves only to worsen. The process continues till problem is resolved with a long time and suffering of people as penalty. In the instant case of migration, it could have been appreciated by administration and dealt with holistically before it became a social challenge. The police actions to maintain law and order became part of vicious cycle. Governments of Delhi, UP and Bihar got involved for their respective interests. State governments wanted safe return of their people from Delhi, Mumbai etc. and in the milieu, migrating people violated government rules of social distancing and lockdown, which led to Delhi government issuing next set of orders to improve upon previous orders to stop the movement (depicted in Figure 1 by ‘S”).
These are the remedial measures adopted by the government in R1 reinforcing loop and as shown by blue stars in Figure 2 based on feedback of the unintended consequences of the first set of corrective actions taken by the government.
B1 loop could have been closed with the situation balancing out and with no side effects. However, the loop caused delay in seeking solutions or the repercussions of the corrective actions by the government were not strong enough. As a result, the situation had side effects that required immediate attention of the government. Attempts of migrants to reach home earliest led to actions by the police, imposition of curfew, violation of curfew by migrating labour and social disharmony. This was not the desired outcome by the government and hence led to additional measures till situation was resolved. A graphical representation of the situation of Fixes that fail in Figure 2 shows improvement in the situation over a long period but with a dip after every action by the government.
COVID-19 has posed a crisis the world has not witnessed since Spanish flu of 1918-1919. It is an unprecedented history in the making. Indian government response and handling of the pandemic has been one of the best in the world. In the instant situation that India is in; threat of COVID-19 is a real one and the migration is similar to the one Lord Kṛśṇa faced. Facing the calamity of an impending terrible war he was able to move a large chunk of population from Mathura to Dwarika without much upheaval.
Government under leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi deserves accolades for serving the humanity and saving millions of lives in the country from COVID-19. The government administration has effectively managed spread of the pandemic and Indian response has been appreciated the world over. However, response to deal with the migration of labour, consequent to pandemic and orders of Lockdown, requires deliberations. The measures taken by the government to fix the problems ended up creating different yet more problems instead and logical planning to deal with socio-economic issues needed to be developed. Preventing migration was the right decision but survival package in places of residence was a must in such sensitive circumstances. A planned operation to keep the labour wherever they were and looking after them would have been possibly an effective way to deal with the reverse migration.
And if the decision of the Government was to move the labour back to their villages, this too could have been planned systematically and entire movement could have been made comfortable and rejoicing journey for the poor and homeless. Any more politics on the issue is detrimental to our very existence as a nation and our economy, as our survival base depends on these humble, poor, shell shocked silent migrants.
If Lord Kṛśṇa could succeed in his times, so can we in our times.
श्रीकृष्ण द्वारा कही श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता पर हर काल में बहुत बार लिखा गया और बोला गया है, फिर भी जब भी मैं इसे पढ़ता या सुनता हूँ तो मुझे हमेशा कुछ नया समझ में आता है।
गीता की शुरुआत युद्ध की भूमि में अर्जुन के युद्ध नहीं लड़ने के कारण हुई। श्रीकृष्ण द्वारा अर्जुन को समझाने के लिए ही गीता कही गयी थी| युद्ध को धर्मयुक्त मानने से लेकर उसकी सीमा का वर्णन करते हुए श्रीकृष्ण ने कर्म, कर्मफल, सन्यास व अन्य विषयों पर भी चर्चा की। कई लोग भ्रमवश गीता को या यूं कहें की श्रीकृष्ण को ही युद्ध का कारण मानते हैं, किन्तु गीता केवल सही और गलत की बात करती है, हिंसा या अहिंसा की नहीं। जैसे कोई देश जो आतंकवाद से पीड़ित है उसके लिए युद्ध करना या युद्ध के लिए तैयार रहना एकदम सही है और जो आतंकवाद के पोषक देश हैं उनके लिए गलत।
गीता एक आम इंसान की रोज़मर्रा की ज़िन्दगी को भी दिशा देती है। पहले की तरह आज जीने के तरीके पूर्णरूप से बदल चुकें है किन्तु समस्या जो पांच हज़ार वर्ष पहले थी जब गीता कही गयी थी आज भी वही है जैसे अवसाद (डिप्रेशन), भय (फियर), कुंठा (फ़्रस्ट्रेशन), आत्मविश्वास की कमी (लैक ऑफ़ कॉन्फिडेंस) यह सारी भावनात्मक समस्याएँ जैसे की तैसे हैं।
आज सारे विश्व में भावनाओं का आवेश है हर कोई भावनात्मक दृष्टिकोण से ही सही-गलत का निर्णय कर रहा है और गीता इसके उलट बुद्धि के प्रयोग पर ही बल देती है। इसी कारण यह पूर्णरूप से मनोवैज्ञानिक (साइकोलॉजी) है।
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन | मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ||
यह श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता का सबसे महत्वपूर्ण श्लोक है। इसका भावार्थ यही है की संसार में हर एक घटना बहुत सारे कारणों पर निर्भर होती हैं, यह कारण कुछ एक तो स्वयं द्वारा निर्मित होते है लेकिन अधिकतर प्रकृति, देश अथवा विश्व के वातावरण और जनमानस के द्वारा निर्मित होते हैं, उन कारणों की पूर्णरूप से गणना करना असम्भव है किन्तु भावनावश हम अपने कर्म के निश्चित फल की कामना करते है (जो शायद ही कभी पूर्ण होती हो) और यहीं से समस्या शुरू होती है जिससे जीवन में चिन्ता, तनाव, कुंठा या अवसाद उत्पन्न होते हैं। जब कारण असंख्य और अनिश्चित हैं तो फल (जो भविष्य में है) निश्चित नहीं हो सकता इसलिए उसका विचार करना केवल अपनी ऊर्जा नष्ट करना है और कुछ नहीं। इस श्लोक में श्रीकृष्ण कहते हैं की कर्म पर तेरा अधिकार है उसके फल पर नहीं इसलिए भविष्य की कल्पनाओं में न जीयें केवल वर्तमान में जीने के बारे में विचार करें। इसका सबसे बड़ा लाभ यह है की जो वस्तु या सम्बन्ध वर्तमान में है उसके प्रति हम कृतज्ञ हो जाते हैं और उसके उपभोग से आनन्द प्राप्त करते हैं।
जीवन में धैर्य रखना वर्तमान में जीने का एक अनुपम उदाहरण है या यूँ कहें की वर्तमान में जीने से धैर्य रखने में बल मिलता है। जब आप वर्तमान में जीना सीख जाते हैं या केवल वर्तमान में जीने का हृदय से प्रयत्न करते हैं, तो आप पातें है की संसार में फैल रहे झूठे प्रलोभन और आश्वासन से आप मुक्त हो गए हैं और स्वयं का जीवन केवल स्वयं की जवाबदारी पर जीने लग जाते हैं, जिससे बिना किसी कारण ना तो किसी से प्रभावित होते हैं और ना तो कोई सहारा खोजते हैं। इन सबका लाभ यह होगा की आपका स्वयं पर विश्वास गहरा होता जाएगा।
वर्तमान में जीना एक कला है और इस कला को पाने के लिए अभ्यास बहुत जरुरी है। प्रतिदिन निरंतर वर्तमान में जीने का चिंतन और जो वस्तु आप के पास है या जो भी वर्तमान में परिस्थिति है उसका सर्वोत्तम उपयोग करके ही आप यह कला में निपुण हो सकते हैं और अपनी मानसिकता पर विजय पाकर सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण रख सकते हैं।
यही कारण है की सम्पूर्ण गीता के सात सौ श्लोकों में से केवल एक श्लोक में ही मनोविज्ञान की इतनी गहरी बात श्रीकृष्ण ने कही है, जो इसे मनोविज्ञान की एक महानतम रचना बनाता है। गीता एक धर्म की पुस्तक नहीं है (यहाँ धर्म अर्थात रिलिजन या पंथ से है) बल्कि सम्पूर्ण मानव-जाति के लिए रची गयी है। जिस समय पर श्रीकृष्ण ने गीता कही थी उस समय आज की तरह मानव-जाति रिलिजन या पंथ में बटीं हुई नहीं थी बल्कि सम्पूर्ण मानव-जाति के सामाजिक व्यवहार को वैदिक दृष्टि से उपयुक्त या अनुपयुक्त ठहराया जाता था।
संसार में पहले ही सब लिखा और कहा जा चुका है लाभ तो केवल उस ज्ञान का अनुसरण कर उसके मार्ग पर चलने से होगा। अत: वैदिक मीमांसा को जानने और मानने वालों का यह कर्त्तव्य है की संसार में फैले मनोविज्ञान-विषयक इस अंधकार को दूर करने के लिए श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता के ज्ञान को जन-जन तक पहुंचायें।
Come February and excitement in young boys and girls in schools and colleges starts! Innumerable flowers, chocolates, gifts and vows are exchanged on Valentine’s Day, which is on the 14th of February each year. With growth in technology and exposure to social media and the western world, the celebration of Valentine’s Day in India has spread tremendously in the past two decades.
However, is this good for our country, our Bhāratvarsha, which has such a rich and sāttvik culture? Today, the youth are unaware of the birth and death anniversaries of our great Indian patriots, freedom fighters and martyrs such as Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Veer Savarkar and Chandrashekhar Azad, which too are in the month of February. Due to lack of education on Dharma (known as Dharmaśikṣaṇ), the youth are sometimes even ignorant about who these personalities are!
In this article, we present in short the greatness of Indian festivals and why they are superior culturally and spiritually over other non-Indian festivals and events.
Background of Valentine’s Day
So, let us understand why Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the first place. Valentine was a Catholic priest in Rome. When the Roman king passed an order banning youth from marrying during the war period since he needed their help on the battlefield, Valentine was secretly getting young men and women married. Consequently, he was imprisoned by the king for defying his order. In prison, although being a priest and a celibate, Valentine fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and even wrote love letters to her, thus betraying his religion and commitment to the church. Can one, who is not in control of his own emotions, influence society for its upliftment? How can such a person be a role model for the youth? And, why is his death anniversary being celebrated by Indians as Valentine’s Day?
Indian festivals are meant to celebrate love!
Today, if the youth are asked why they celebrate Valentine’s Day, they say ‘It is a celebration of love!’ However, is love limited and as Indians, is there a dearth of occasions to express our love? In India, every relationship is considered pure, and we have festivals to celebrate love emanating from each relationship in its purest form. For example, we have Bhaubeej and Rakshābandhan to express love between a sister and brother, Gurūpournimā to express gratitude and love unto the Guru, Gowardhan-puja to express love for cows, Nariyal Pournimā to express love for the sea, Padwa (Diwali) to express love for the spouse, Gangour and Karvāchauth to express love for the husband and so many other occasions. The list is endless. Then why do we need Valentine’s Day to express our love?
How is love viewed by Dharma?
Dharma allows man to fulfil four pursuits of life called ‘Purūṣārthas’ – Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Wealth), Kāma (Desire) and Mokṣa (Final Liberation). Even our wise Sages, who have handed over a treasure of invaluable knowledge to us in the form of Holy texts such as the Vedas, Purānas, Upanishads, Rāmāyaṇa, etc., were allowed to fullfil these four pursuits following the Code of Righteous conduct (known as Āchārdharma). Celibacy was never mandatory for them.
Dharma classifies love into two types
1. Emotional love (known as Prem) : In this, the relationship is governed by emotions and expectations; for example, husband-wife, father-son, etc.
2. Spiritual love (known as Priti) : This is unconditional love, without any expectations, where the relationship is governed by spiritual emotion (known as bhāv) ; for example, Guru-disciple, God-devotee.
In fact, we can emphatically say that no religion in the world is as expansive as our Dharma which says – ‘The whole world is mine’ and ‘Vasudaiva kutumbakam’.
In our country, selfless love is the basis of all relationships. Hence, there is no insecurity and thus no need to especially express it in the words such as ‘I love you’ as is done in the west, where relationships are unstable. This is why, they need days and festivals such as ‘Mother’s Day’, ‘Friendship Day’, ‘Valentine’s Day’, etc. to express their love.
Dharma also teaches us to love everything from living to non-living creation. For example, ‘Vasant Panchami’ is celebrated in this period to welcome the king of seasons ‘Vasant’ (Spring), when Nature is blossoming and the environment is charged with positivity. In this period, one benefits spiritually. In his epic poems ‘Ritusamhara’ and ‘Kumarasambhava’, Saint Kālidās has described the beauty and love that blossoms during Vasant. A well-known translator of Sanskrit classics, Mr. A. N. D. Haksar has translated works of Kālidās and described ‘Spring’ as –
In the woodland, everywhere,
the flame of the forest trees have shed
all their leaves, their branches bent
with flowers bright as blazing fire,
and the earth gleams in the spring,
like a new bride in red attire.
Hence, instead of celebrating a spiritually beneficial day like this by worshipping Deity Saraswati and Deity Lakshmi, it is a pity that our youth want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, where we forget our natural bond with nature and family, and instead want to follow the western culture. Is this not a kind of ‘Love Jihad’?
Harmful effects of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day has no spiritual benefits. In fact, harmful effects such as financial loss due to unnecessary expenditure on expensive gifts and chocolates, degradation of moral values of the youth in succumbing to immoral behaviour such as premarital sex, extramarital sex, abortion, etc., creation of incorrect impressions in their minds (such as ‘physical love’ is true love).
What can we do to tackle this growing menace of Valentine’s Day?
The answer is – provide Dharmaśikṣaṇ. Children should be provided Dharmaśikṣaṇ, first at home and then in schools and colleges. Children need to be taught about the rich cultural heritage of India, its patriotic heroes, Saints and Sages, and a sense of pride for our traditions and country needs to be inculcated in them.
If by following Dharma we can lead a blissful life, enjoying material as well as spiritual benefits, then why follow practices of other cultures? Why ape the west? Why not follow the example of Śri Rāma who was faithful to His only wife Sītā, even when there was a practice of the king at that time having several queens?
Āchārdharma means the spiritualisation of every aspect of our day-to-day life; it includes expressing spiritual love unto our parents and family members by respecting, caring and nurturing them and our Sages and Gurus by practising and propagating their views.
Taittriya Upanishad (1.11.2) say – ‘Mātru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Achārya devo bhava, Atithi devo bhava’ (Meaning – The mother, father, Guru and guests are forms of God). Doesn’t this give love a different meaning which is very pure and unconditional? When this be true, why do we need days such as Valentine’s Day to express our love?
Contemplate seriously, and spread the perspective presented in this article.
Api Swarnamayī Lankā na me Lakshmaṇa rochate Jananī Janmabhumiścha Swargādapi Garīyasī
These words are believed to have been uttered by Śri Rām towards end of his exile, after he had killed Rāvaṇa, and when he was told that Rāvaṇa’s brother, Vibhīṣaṇa, offered Rāma to enter the Lankā of golden structures and buildings and rule from there.
Not that he could not have said the same while in Ayodhyā, his utterance in Lankā, away from home assumes significance as he had in effect had become a non-resident Indian (NRI) who in modern times are away from the place of their birth, away from parents and families, and away from their culture.”
Much to be learned from following all faiths
In modern times, religion has become an instrument of utility, available to people of different interests and agenda to appropriate and exploit. Far from its actual meaning and intent, human beings are being denigrated, subjugated, and manipulated all in the name of religion. Religion originates from Re + legion, meaning re-association with the Supreme or God. That meaning establishes a spiritual journey as the purpose of religion. However, most religions, especially organized religions are nothing more than management of people. No wonder politicians and other power structures have been taxing religions to their purpose for the past two thousand years. After crusade, inquisition, and forced conversion by marching armies, proselytization through inducement, bluff, and exploitation of circumstances such as tsunami has come to the fore in recent years, especially in the Third World. During my recent trip to my village in Uttar Pradesh in India, I learned of conversion of eight Harijan families in a nearby village after orchestrated diagnosis and cure of ‘cancer’ with the prayer of Ishu (Jesus). This incident reminded me of my own encounter with an evangelist in my university who used to deliver goods from receivables. Francis was always hanging around with international graduate students trying to give them a Bible or entice them to a Church visit. One day I walked into the laboratory even as Francis was talking to students. As I entered the lab, a student told Francis jokingly “why don’t you convert Dr. Singh and we will all follow?” “So, Dr. Singh, what do you think of Jesus Christ?” asked Francis turning towards me. “Jesus Christ was a great man, I am his ardent follower,” I replied. “So, you are a Christian?” Francis uttered hesitatingly. I said, “Sure, following Jesus Christ does make me a Christian, as much as following Newton makes me Newtonian.” Not convinced of my assertion, Francis continued with his inquiries further. “What church do you go to?” asked Francis. “What church did Jesus Christ go to?” I shot back, and Francis looked quite puzzled at this but continued his query by saying, “O, so you read Bible on your own.” “What Bible did Jesus Christ read?” I asked Francis. He was completely at a loss. “How can you be a Christian without going to Church or reading a Bible?” he muttered shaking his head in exasperation. “Francis, I am not a Churchian or Biblian, I am a Christian.” By then Francis seemed to be in a daze, simply gazing at me. Acting professorial and assuring him of my genuine intentions I began. “Look, Jesus Christ was concerned about others passionately. He stood up for his principles against all odds. He was willing to die for his principle of serving others. He did not hate even those who killed him, and wished them well.” Francis nodded at each of my statements about Jesus Christ. “I think those principles are worth following for anybody,” I added. “Why do I need a Church or Bible to follow them?” By then Francis seemed accepting, albeit reluctantly. Similarly, I am asked many times about religions in India, my own religion, and my opinion of Islam, especially after 9/11. At the Center for Indic Studies, we have much emphasis on Indic traditions, some ancient, some modern, and occasionally discussions about other traditions within India. About six months ago, after a bit of contentious panel discussion at our campus, I had to formulate my thoughts of my understanding of and relationship with Islam within the Indic tradition. I told a Muslim student on my campus that I am really trying to be a Musalmaan, the word commonly used for Muslims in India. He was quite puzzled, but curious to know my view further. “See, Musalmaan word is made of two words – Musallum + Imaan,” I continued. “Musallum means total and Imaan means honest. So, I really see the fundamental point of being a Musalmaan is to be totally honest, and I find that concept to be very attractive.” “However, the problem is that there is no true Musalmaan in the whole world,” I continued. The student asked me, “What about Hindus? What are they supposed to be and do?” “Oh, yes. I am a Hindu by birth. But it is equally hard to find a Hindu.” He seemed quite perplexed, and ready to hear my views on Hinduism. “You see, Hindus are supposed to see Iśwara or God in everyone and everything, and thus love them all equally and infinitely. Unfortunately, I have not met even one Hindu in my life.” Religious tension and tyranny seen now throughout the world, and in fact throughout history, have almost nothing to do with true meanings of religion.The discrimination, destruction, oppression, and atrocities in the name different religions originate in ignorance, greed, and ego. There is much to be learned by following Jesus Christ, trying to be a Musalmaan, and in being a Hindu, and these are not mutually exclusive concepts. This idea must be asserted in the world by young and old alike, and that is a challenge for the 21st century.
Whatever is even left over culture of India, with connection of people with nature (Vāsudhaiva kuṭumbakam), accepting people for whatever they are (Ekam sat viprah bahudhā vadanti), following the truth of deeds rather than that of creeds (Satyameva jayate), embracing death rather than avoiding it (Mokṣa, or Sallekhana in Jainism), the world is manifestation of self (Ekoaham bahushyāmi), the entire universe is within us (Yad pinde tad brahmāṇde), etc. is perhaps the only hope to solve multifarious problems the world is facing today. India needs to expand its ideas, practice, and propagate in the world, through education, economics, and healthcare, the basic needs of people. No need to become parochial because other exclusive traditions have been like that. The new generation of India needs to bold and go where its immediate past generations have not gone before. In other words, become NRI!!
भारत हो या विश्व के अन्य कोई देश, सर्वत्र पुस्तक आरंभिक दिनों में कहीं जीवित व्यक्तियों के रूप में, भोजपत्रों, पत्थरों या मिट्टी की गोलियों के रूप में या पिफर चर्म और धातुओं पर अंकित या उकेरी रही है। परिवर्तन संसार का शाश्वत नियम है। मानव जीवन के हर क्षेत्र में परिवर्तन होता है तो पुस्तक के क्षेत्र में भला क्यों नहीं होता? काग़ज़ के आविष्कार और मुद्रण कला ने क्रांतिकारी परिवर्तन किए हैं पुस्तक के रूप में। सबसे बड़ा परिवर्तन जो 20वीं सदी के अंत में कंप्यूटर और इंटरनेट ने किया और अब जो ‘ई-बुक’ का आधुनिकतम आविष्कार हुआ है, उसने तो न केवल पुस्तक का कलेवर बदला है, लेखक, पाठक, प्रकाशक और पुस्तकालय सबके समीकरण बदल डाले हैं।
पुस्तक के भविष्य को लेकर इस युग में प्रायः समाचार-पत्रों या पत्रिकाओं में इतस्ततः चिंता व्यक्त की जाती है। पुस्तकें गायब हैं? पुस्तक की मृत्यु हो चुकी है? आदि नकारात्मक बातें इस साइबर युग में बार-बार पढ़ी-सुनी जाती हैं? इक्कीसवीं सदी के इस साइबर युग में जबकि इंटरनेट, किंडल, ई-बुक आदि का प्रचलन बढ़ता जा रहा है तो पुस्तक के भविष्य को लेकर चिंता होना स्वाभाविक है। क्या होगा मुद्रित पुस्तक का भविष्य? क्या वह अजायबघर की एक वस्तु बनकर रह जाने वाली है? फिर पुस्तक की नियति के बारे में और भी प्रश्न मन में घुमड़ने लगते हैं? कैसे वह अस्तित्व में आई, कैसे मनुष्य ने लिखना सीखा, प्रथम पुस्तक प्रस्तर पर लिखी गई या भोजपत्र पर, काग़ज़ कब, कहाँ से आया? आदि-आदि। प्रथम मुद्रित पुस्तक किस भाषा में थी, क्या नाम था उसका? अर्थात् ‘पुस्तक की नियति’ को लेकर उसके ‘कल, आज और कल’ से संबंधित प्रश्न अगणित हैं। दूसरी ओर जब दिल्ली पुस्तक मेले या विश्व पुस्तक मेले लगते हैं तो ‘किताबें लौट आई हैं’ जैसे सकारात्मक शीर्षक भी नज़र आते हैं। जो भी हो 20वीं सदी के अंत और 21वीं सदी के इन प्रारंभिक दशकों में पुस्तक को लेकर चिंता व्याप्त है। कारण प्रथम तो यही कि कंप्यूटर, इंटरनेट और ई-बुक ने मुद्रित पुस्तक को पीछे छोड़ दिया है। द्वितीय कारण पठनीयता कम से कमतर होती गई है। यही सब कारण रहे कि ‘पुस्तक की नियति’ पर कुछ लिखने का मन बना।
पुस्तक की नियति के बारे में सोचते ही प्रश्न उभरते हैं कैसे वह अस्तित्व में आई, कैसे मनुष्य ने लिखना सीखा, प्रथम पुस्तक प्रस्तर पर लिखी गई या भोजपत्र पर? काग़ज़ कब, कहां से आया आदि-आदि? इन सब प्रश्नों के उत्तर खोजने के लिए अतीत के गर्भ में जाना जरूरी था। प्रागैतिहासिक काल में कैसे मनुष्य ने भाषा को सीखा, लिखना सीखा आदि प्रश्नों के उत्तर टटोलने ज़रूरी थे। इसलिए जितना संभव था उतना ढूँढ़ने की कोशिश की। आश्चर्य हुआ यह जानकर कि पुस्तक के जन्म या विकास को लेकर कुछ विश्वकोशों से सहायता भले ही मिल जाए परंतु ‘पुस्तक पर पुस्तक’ कहीं नहीं मिलती।
दूसरे शब्दों में कह सकते हैं कि पुस्तक के जन्म और विकास की गाथा के सूत्र जहाँ एक साथ मिल सकें-ऐसी कोई ‘पुस्तक’ पुस्तक पर नहीं मिलती है।
अनेक पुस्तकालयों के चक्कर काटे। प्रकाशकों से संपर्क किया परंतु निराश होना पड़ा। हिंदी भाषा में तो इस प्रकार की पुस्तक मिली ही नहीं। हाँ, साहित्य अकादमी में ज़रूर एक अंग्रेज़ी ग्रंथ मिला पर उसमें संस्कृत, हिंदी का उल्लेख तो था ही नहीं अंग्रेज़ी साहित्य की पुस्तकों का ही उल्लेख था। पुस्तक के जन्म और विकास की गाथा का उल्लेख भी कुछ विशेष नहीं था।
एक पुस्तक एम. आइलिन की प्राप्त हुई, जिसका अंग्रेज़ी शीर्षक था ‘Black on White’ यह भी मूल रूप में नहीं मिली। ‘पुस्तक के जन्म और विकास की कहानी’ शीर्षक से जितेन्द्र शर्मा ने इसका रूपांतरण किया है और कौस्तुभ प्रकाशन, हापुड़-245101 ने इसे सन् 2010 में छापा है। अत्यंत रोचक तरीके से इस रूपांतरित पुस्तक में पुस्तक की गाथा वैश्विक संदर्भ में लिखी गई है। आश्चर्यजनक बात लगती है यह कि यहाँ संस्कृत जो कि विश्व की प्राचीनतम भाषा सर्वस्वीकृत है तथा ऋग्वेद जो विश्व-पुस्तकालय की प्राचीनतम लिखित पुस्तक मानी जाती है उसका उल्लेख तक नहीं। भाषा के अक्षरों तथा अंकों की खोज का श्रेय फोनिशियंस जो सेमिटिक जाति के थे, उन्हें दिया गया है। विश्वास है यह किसी पूर्वाग्रह या दुराग्रह के कारण नहीं हुआ होगा, संभवतः लेखक या रूपांतरकार दोनों ही संस्कृत से परिचित नहीं रहे होंगे।
भारतीय संदर्भों में वेद मौखिक परंपरा से पीढ़ी दर पीढ़ी पहुँचे, ज्ञान दर्शन सबका संप्रेषण गुरु-शिष्य परंपरा से हुआ ज़रूर परंतु उस सुदूरकाल में लेखनकला भी उसके समानांतर चलती रही। पुस्तक के जन्म के या मूल के प्रसंग में इसे जानना रोचक और ज्ञानवर्धक रहा है। इसके लिए पुरातात्त्विक साक्ष्य जैसे शिलालेख आदि तो हैं ही साथ ही प्राचीन वाङम्य में अनेक अंतःसाक्ष्य भी उपलब्ध हैं।
इन्हीं सब विचारों को समेटे हुए तथा पुस्तक के प्रति आशावादी सोच रखते हुए ‘पुस्तक की नियति’ नामक पुस्तक को लिखने का विचार आया। कुल बारह अध्यायों में पुस्तक के मूल, उसके लेखक, पाठक और यहाँ तक कि लेखन सामग्री और पुस्तकालयों तक पर विस्तार से चर्चा; ई-बुक का चमत्कारपूर्ण संसार; समय-समय पर कथित विद्वानों द्वारा पुस्तक के महत्त्व के विषय में टिप्पणियाँ; पुस्तक को लेकर संस्कृत और हिंदी की कुछ कविताओं का संकलन; पुस्तक के विषय में प्राप्त रोचक तथ्य आदि का वर्णन है। कुल मिलाकर कहें तो यह ‘पुस्तक’ इस क्षेत्र में एक बड़े शून्य को भरती है।
इस कार्य द्वारा भारतीय और वैश्विक दोनों संदर्भों में ‘पुस्तक की नियति’ को जानने-समझने की कोशिश की गयी है। मेरा मानना है –
Gangā! The very name creates a sense of sanctity, devotion and reverence. It is the only flowing body of sacred waters whose history of origin through superhuman efforts, has been immortalized in legendary films and arts, and termed Gangā Avtaraṇa or even as Bhāgiratha Prayathna. We get a detailed description of Gangā Avtaraṇa in Srimad Vālmīki Ramāyana.
कथं गङ्गावतरणं कथं तेषां जलक्रिया….॥ (बालकाण्ड, द्विचत्वारिंश सर्ग ६)
The water deity, identified with ‘makara’ at her feet, brings with it unique power of salvation from sins. It is the spiritual river that has defined Bhārata’s culture and civilization since time immemorial.
‘The Gangā occupies an unrivalled position among the rivers of the world. No other river is so closely identified with a country as the Gangā is with India’, says Jagmohan Mahajan in Gangā Observed (Foreign accounts of the river). ‘Cities and pilgrimage centers teeming with temples and shrines have sprung up all along its course (milestones in the history of the land and the growth of Indian civilization). The Gangetic plain has indeed been the pole towards which the political, economic and religious life of the country has gravitated’. Gangā is much more.
‘पतित पावनी जीवनदायनी’ Mā Gangā is integral to us from birth to death. Its water is used at every ceremony for purification, as a charm to ward off evil spirits, sprinkled at weddings over the bride and bridegroom, and dropped into the mouths of the dying, and also serving as a medium for oath taking. Geographer Strabo calls it ‘the largest river’. The English traveller Thomas Coryat, who visited India from 1612 to 1617, has called it ‘the captains of all rivers in the world’.
Yet this water of life and death is not just a naturally existing river as perceived by many. Descending from the heavens as rain, she was created as a channel for human salvation with the vision of Solar Dynasty King Sagara and his five generations of descendants, a task finally accomplished by Bhāgiratha with the blessings of Lord Shiva. Gangā is not just flowing waters but divine waters endowed with unique properties for our ‘mokṣa’. Some scholars believe that our current understanding and approach to ‘river’ is based on European ideas and very different from what ancient seers of Bhārata conceived. Dilip da Cunha, in his book ‘The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Gangā’s Descent‘, (published 2018 November by the University of Pennsylvania)attributes the colonial understanding of river and banks, the separation of land and water, to be derivative from Alexander’s concept and ancient Greek cartography. He explains ‘Although Alexander the Great never saw the Ganges, he conceived of it as a flowing body of water, with sources, destinations, and banks that marked the separation of land from water. This Alexandrine view of the river, as per Dilip da Cunha ‘has been pursued and adopted across time and around the world.
Dilip da Cunha, indirectly agrees with the Vedic view that Gangā descended from heavens, when he argues that ‘the articulation of the river Ganges has placed it at odds with Gangā, a “rain terrain that does not conform to the line of separation, containment, and calibration that are the formalities of a river’ He explains that ‘What we take to be natural features of the earth’s surface, according to da Cunha, are products of human design’, thus again authenticating the ‘itihāsa’ of Sagar and Bhāgiratha.
In the 4th century BC, Megasthenes came from Greece as ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, leaving the first detailed account of India by a foreign visitor. He noted that the Indians worshipped the rain-bringing Zeus (Indra), the Gangā River and local deities. The Arthashastra of Kautilya mentions that ‘during drought shall Indra, the Gangā, mountains and Mahakachha (sea or ocean) be worshipped. Textual references prove that the Gangā is actually channeled rainwater (Ṛgveda 1.32.11-12).
इन्द्रो यद् वॄत्रमवधीन्नदी….| (ॠग्वेद १.५२.२)
Mysterious purifying powers
Gangā that we revere is the very special living divine liquid energy with mysterious purifying properties. This unique and mystifying trait of the Gangā has intrigued modern scientists for long but till date none have succeeded in decoding the Gangā’s spiritual powers.
Mark Twain notes that a scientist named Mr. Henkin, who was employee of
the government of Agra, concluded experiments to examine the water. He went to
Banāras for his tests and took water from the mouths of the sewers where they
empty into the river at the bathing-ghāts;
Tests revealed that a cubic centimeter of it contained millions of germs; but
at the end of six hours they were all dead. He then also caught a floating
corpse, towed it to shore, “ … and from beside it he dipped up water that
was swarming with cholera germs; at the end of six hours they were all dead’ writes
J Mahajan (Virgo Publication, 1994). Repeatedly, he took pure well-water
which was barren of animal life, and put into it a few cholera germs, they
always began to propagate at once, and always within six hours they swarmed-
and were numerable by millions upon millions.
Europeans wondered, as many of us still do, ‘how did they find out the water’s secret in those ancient ages? Had they germ-scientists then? We do not know. We only know that they had a civilization long before we emerged from savagery’ (Mark Twain: Following the Equator, 1897).
This most telling image from Devprayāg distinctly shows here two flowing water bodies of very different colors. It is pertinent to note that this is the sacred place of the ‘divine confluence’ (Devprayāg) of two rivers that join together, creating Gangā’s emergence as the single flow towards the plains. Also, that the chemical properties of such contrasting waters will be different is clear to even an ordinary person.
How does the mixture of two or more variant waters, flowing through mineral rich pristine areas, affect the final properties of the Gangā waters that have mysterious purifying qualities? Was this confluence natural or man-made? We know of Panchprayāg (five confluences) at Uttarākhand. Waters descend crossing through Vishnuprayāg (DhauliGangā-Alakhnandā), Nandprayāg (Alakhnandā-Nandākinī), Karnaprayāg (Alakhnandā-Pindar) and Rudraprayāg where Alakhnandā meets Mandakinī.
What is the significance of the name ‘Devprayāg’ as ancient seers named people or places with certain symbolic identifications? Where or what is the initial source of the mystical properties of Gangā waters? We know that – Gangā water is always sacred as germs do not develop in it. Gangā water is always pure. It has medicinal properties in it. This drinking water has divine traits as stated in ancient texts –
It is notable that where the Gangā waters fall on Hemkunt as spring, gold particles are found there. In several places in the Gangā valley there is a tradition to strain gold particles. This gold is called ‘Gangāye’ Periplus mentions this.
Gangā is called the ‘Das Pāpa Hara Devī’ as she provides solution for ten problems. Gangā Daśera is festival celebrated in recognition of Gangā’s power of washing away ten ‘Pāpa’ or sins (sin means problems). It is also mentioned by Bhojrāj (Rajmartand) [quoted in गङ्गा नदी : उद्भव एवं देवत्व – एक सांस्कृतिक यात्रा, presented by Prof. Deen Bandhu Pande, at Draupadi Dream Trust Gangā Conference, 6th Dec 2018, Delhi]. Was course of waters having divergent properties chartered to form the miracle water?
Rajnīkānt describes the
ten traits of Gangā, by which it helps us keep
away problems. These ten natural qualities of Gangā are –
As the British interests in India
increased, they also started exploring its natural resources. Gangā, Yamuna,
Brahmaputra and other rivers originating from the Himalayas attracted their
attention, during 1800s and early part of 1900s. British surveyors surveyed
these rivers comprehensively, and Sir William Willcox, the Director General of
Irrigation of India has, in his book, shows his understanding of high standards
of ancient documentations. He writes that Indian ancient writers wrote about
physical facts in a spiritual manner. Regarding the rivers he states that every
flow which went southwards whether, big as the Bhagirathi or not, originally
started as a canal and that these canals were lined out, dug and placed just at
the distance that canals should be placed. Sir William Willcox reasons that Gangā
or the River Bhāgirathī was a canal constructed by our ancient visionaries. The
bringing of the Gangā from the heights of Meru to the plains of India would be
the greatest accomplishment of engineering in India, or even in human history.
What is the mystery of
Modern scientists are gradually realising the science of Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga and even ‘ritual fasting, but will take many decades, if not centuries, to unlock all the secrets unearthed by our ancient seers. Knowledge of our Rishi’s came through centuries of penance by understanding and connecting with nature. They unravelled the depths of ‘vijñāna’ and planned for welfare of humanity.
The gospel of
preventive medicine and science of life ‘Ayurveda’ is the ‘Charak Samhitā’
which means research by travelling to various parts of the land. It was not
commercial exploitation as Vedic dharma is based on the principles of
Gangā too was
channeled from heavenly waters for the welfare of mankind. It is the perfect
blend of nature and culture for social engineering the welfare of a
civilization that believed in divine nature of man, nature and all earthy
Gangā Mā is a marvelous gift of visionary King Sagara, dedicated efforts of his 60,000 population and sons Anshumān, Dilipa and especially Bhāgiratha, who is immortalized through Bhāgirathī river which joins Alakhnandā at Devprayāg, to finally form the Gangā we know.
Since time immemorial Mother Gangā is flowing through our heartlands and we use her pure waters for all our holy rituals. But in this auspicious Śrāvan māsa we pay special tribute to the heavenly Divine Gangā. People travel for days, covering thousands of miles up the mountains to bring the freshest waters of Gangā river to pour on Lord Shiva, thanking him for blessing us by bringing Mā Gangā to us mortals. It is like a thanksgiving celebration, so integral to our sanskriti.
Jai Mā Gange!
Om Namay Shivāye!
–Ms. Neera Misra, Independent scholar on Vedic and Mahābhārata Heritage, Chairperson-Trustee Draupadi Dream Trust