श्री परशुराम आधारित अवतारवाद-विश्लेषण

-डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र

आज के सामाजिक अस्त-व्यस्तता के युग में क्रांतिकारी विचारों की आवश्यकता है। परशुराम के जीवन अवतार की वर्तमान में प्रासंगिगकता और अनुकरणीयता को प्रस्तुत आलेख में स्पष्ट करने का प्रयास किया गया है।

(Editor’s note)

अवतारवाद का औचित्य

परब्रह्म-तत्व को मन और बुद्धि से नहीं जाना जा सकता है अत:, उसके विषय में चिन्तन करने के लिए जितने भी उपाय शास्त्रों में वर्णित हैं उसमें ‘अवतारवाद’ सबसे उत्तम कहा जा सकता है क्योंकि जब निर्विशेष (अर्थात् गुण, आकृति आदि से रहित) ब्रह्म बुद्धि में आ ही नहीं सकता है तब उसकी उपासना कैसे सम्भव होगी? ऐसे में मनुष्य, प्रत्यक्ष दिखाई पड़ने वाले पदार्थों में परमेश्वर के लक्षण देखकर उन्हें (उन पदार्थों को) आलंबन (सहारा) मानकर ब्रह्मभाव से उसकी उपासना करता है। उसमें भी, चेतना में – विशेषकर मनुष्यरूप में,  ब्रह्मत्व का भाव रखना तथा उसकी उपासना करना अत्युपयोगी व सरल है क्योंकि उपासक मनुष्य का मन अपने सजातीय में स्वाभाविक रूप से लगने के कारण उससे ही प्रेम करने लगता है जिससे, चित्त स्थिर हो जाता है । यही ‘अवतारोपासना’ है ।

अवतार की अवधारणा

सर्वत्र स्थित, सदा प्रकाशित, शाश्वत, एकरूप शक्ति के अतिरिक्त कोई भी शक्ति नहीं है जो हमारी ज्ञानेन्द्रियों में प्रवेश कर सके। वही चैतन्य शक्ति जब इन्द्रियग्राह्य होने के लिए स्थूल बनता है अर्थात् अपने उच्च स्वरूप से नीचे अवतरण कर स्थूल रूप धारण करता है, तब उसे ईश्वरीयशक्ति का अवतार होना कहते हैं। गीता के चतुर्थ अध्याय के छठे श्लोक “अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा ……सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया” में भगवान् स्वयम् अवतरण को स्पष्ट करते हुए कहते हैं कि मैं जन्मरहित, अविनाशी तथा सभी भूतों में रहते हुए भी अपने अनन्त-रूप-धारण-सामर्थ्य-सम्पन्नरूपी स्वभाव-धर्म-शक्ति का उपयोग करके अपनी माया से स्थूल जगत् में अवतार धारण करता हूँ।

दश अवतार

वराहपुराण के अनुसार दश अवतार क्रमशः इस प्रकार हैं –

  1. मत्स्य: कूर्मो 3. वराहश्च 4. नृसिंहो 5. वामनस्तथा
  2. रामो 7. रामश्च 8. कृष्णश्च 9. बौद्ध: 10. कल्की तथैव च ।।

इसमें छठे अवतार राम अर्थात् परशुराम थे। इसके अतिरिक्त पुरुषावतार, गुणावतार, मन्वन्तरावतार इत्यादि प्रसिद्ध हैं ।

cleanh3sha2uf_ael_2_300

(Source of image: http://vishnudashavatars.blogspot.in/2010/04/vishnu-dashavatar.html)

अवतारों के प्रकार

यद्यपि सभी अवतार परिपूर्ण हैं, किसी में तत्त्वत: न्यूनाधिक्य नहीं है; तथापि शक्ति के प्रकटन की न्यूनता-अधिकता के आधार पर अवतारों के चार प्रकार माने गए हैं –

1. आवेश, २. प्राभव, ३. वैभव और ४. परावस्थ

परशुराम, कल्की आदि आवेशावतार हैं। कूर्म, मत्स्य, वराह आदि वैभवावतार तथा श्रीनृसिंह, श्रीराम एवं श्रीकृष्ण परावस्थवतार या पूर्णावतार हैं ।

अवतार का प्रयोजन?

अवतरण हेतु आवश्यक परिस्थिति या उचित काल को भगवान ने स्वयं ही गीता में बताया है –

“यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत। अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्याहम् ।।”

(गीता 4.7)

अर्थात् जब धर्म की हानि होती है और अधर्म का उत्थान होता है तब मैं अवतार लेता हूँ।

अवतार का प्रयोजन आगे स्पष्ट करते हैं –

“परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् । धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ।।”

(गीता 4.8)

अर्थात् सज्जनों की रक्षा करने के लिए, दुष्टों का संहार करने के लिए तथा धर्म की पुन: प्रतिष्ठा करने के लिए मैं हर युग में अवतार लेता हूँ।

विचार किया जाए तो किसी व्यक्ति, वस्तु या घटना की प्रासङ्गिकता अथवा समसामयिकता का निर्धारण एवं मूल्याङ्कन, काल तथा प्रयोजन के अधीन (सापेक्ष्य) है। ऊपर के भगवदुक्त श्लोकों से स्पष्ट है कि अपने अवतरण हेतु उचित काल तथा प्रयोजन-विशेष का निर्धारण जगत-नियंता (ईश्वर) के ही हाथ में है। अत:, सामान्य रूप से विचार करने पर सर्वाधिक-सर्वथा-उचित काल में समसामयिक व प्रासङ्गिक उद्देश्य से युक्त भगवत-अवतरणों की तत्तत्कालीन प्रासङ्गिकता स्वत: स्पष्ट हो जाती है । चूंकि, काल-क्रम से अधर्म की वृद्धि व धर्म की हानि युग-धर्म है अत: प्रत्येक युग में अवतारों की प्रासंगिकता भी उतनी ही रहेगी । किसी एक अवतार-विशेष को, चाहे वह परशुराम हों या अन्य कोई, इससे अलग  रखकर विचार नहीं किया जा सकता है। भगवदवतरणों के सम्बन्ध में (प्रासंगिकता, समसामयिकता और महत्त्व पर) इससे अधिक कहना पिष्टपेषण (चबाये हुए को चबाना) ही होगा क्यूंकि, उस विषय में भगवान स्वयं ही वचनबद्ध हैं-

“यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत। अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्याहम्।।

(और उनसे अधिक काल और कालानुरूप प्रासङ्गिकता को कौन जान सकता है!!)

वैसे विचार किया जाए तो, प्रत्येक अवतार एक नायक ही तो है । इन अलौकिक नायकों (अवतारों) से इतर, समाज को नई दिशा दिखाने वाले स्वामी विवेकानन्द सदृश विशिष्ट-शक्ति-सम्पन्न लौकिक नायकों की प्रासंगिकता तो हर युग में रहेगी ही और फिर वर्तमान में तो, युग-धर्म के कारण, नितान्त अशक्त और नाना प्रकार के जञ्जालों में फंसे हुए मानवों के लिए, ऐसे नायकों का सम्पूर्ण जीवन-चरित्र ही प्रेरणादायक और अनुकरणीय होने के कारण और भी प्रासंगिक है। ऐसे में न केवल प्रभु के सभी रूप (अवतार) प्रासङ्गिक नज़र आते हैं अपितु इन अवतारों का स्मरण, अनुकीर्तन आदि ही समस्त दुखों का नाश करने वाला बन जाता है । कहा ही है –

“यस्य स्मरणमात्रेण जन्मसंसारबन्धनात्। विमुच्यते नमस्तस्मै विष्णवे प्रभविष्णवे।।”

जहां तक प्रश्न अवतारों के वर्ग (जाति) का है (विशेषकर, परशुराम अवतार में), मेरी समझ से अवतारों को जातिगत-दृष्टि से देखना किसी भी व्यक्ति के लिए (चाहे वह इतर अवतारों की अपेक्षा, अवतार-विशेष में विशिष्ट प्रीति रखने वाला हो या उसके विरुद्ध विचार या आचरण वाला हो) कतई न्यायपूर्ण या तर्कपूर्ण नहीं है। यह तो न सिर्फ उल्टे भगवान् को ही बांटने जैसा हो गया बल्कि उसकी अवतार-व्यवस्था के मूल पर ही आघात करने जैसा है क्यूंकि, जिसका अवतरण ही समाज को धर्मयुक्त व संगठित करना तथा समाज का कल्याण करना है उसको (विरोधी विचार रखने वालों के द्वारा) धर्म-विशेष, जाति-विशेष का प्रतिनिधिभूत मानकर अवतारविशेष के प्रति अरुचि या अश्रद्धा का भाव रखना अथवा कुछ दिग्भ्रमित लोगों के द्वारा, उस अवतार-विशेष को केवल अपने ही वर्ग का गौरव बताना नितान्त भ्रमोत्पादक व कलहोत्पादक है ।

परशुराम जी के विषय में एक अन्य बड़ा प्रश्न यह उपस्थित होता है कि जब वह अवताररूप हैं तब अन्य अवतारों की भांति उनका पुनर्गमन क्यूँ नहीं हुआ और वे चिरजीवी कैसे रह गये? वस्तुत: वैष्णव-परम्परा में परिगणित दश अवतारों में परशुराम आवेशावतार माने गए हैं अर्थात्, भगवदंश का आवेश उनमें है इसीलिये वे अंशावतार कहे गए हैं। आवश्यकता पड़ने पर, भगवदंश से आविष्ट परशुराम जी ने अपने अवतरण का प्रयोजन सार्थक किया और भविष्य में भी तादृश परिस्थिति उत्पन्न होने पर परब्रह्म (वैष्णवागम में प्रभु विष्णु) की प्रेरणा से वह पुन: अपने अवतरण को सार्थक कर सकें एतदर्थ ही वे चिरजीवी भी हैं। कहने का आशय यह है कि सामान्यत: वे मनुष्य-रूप होने के कारण चिरजीवी हैं किन्तु, परिस्थिति-विशेष में उनका, अन्तस्थ भगवदंशरूप आवेशावतार लोक-कल्याणार्थ प्रकटित होता है ।

 उपसंहार

सुनीति एवं सद्धर्म ही उन्नति का सर्वोत्तम मार्ग है। अतः, जो अधर्म एवं कुरीतियों का हटाकर इनकी प्रतिष्ठा करते हैं, वो महापुरुष कहलाते हैं। भगवान् परशुराम ने तत्कालीन समाज में व्याप्त अनैतिकता एवं राक्षसी प्रवृत्तियों का समूलोच्छेद करके सनातन धर्म की स्थापना की। निश्चय ही भगवदंशावतार श्री परशुराम का इतिवृत्त एवं जीवन-चरित्र का सतत अनुशीलन न केवल हमें अपने देश के गौरवशाली इतिहास का दिग्दर्शन कराता है अपितु अपनी संस्कृति व सभ्यता के रक्षार्थ सतत प्रेरणा का भी संचार करता है।

-डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र, सहायकाचार्य (ज्योतिष), राष्ट्रिय-संस्कृत-संस्थान, भोपाल परिसर,भोपाल, म.प्र.

श्री परशुराम का जीवन-चरित्र

डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्रbhagwan parshuram

भारतीय इतिहास में समय-समय पर विभिन्न युगों में अनेकों क्रान्तियां हुई हैं। जिनका नेतृत्व स्वयं ईश्वर ने अपनी विशिष्ट विभूतियों (अवतारों) के रूप में किया है। इस आलेख में ऐसी एक भगवदंशभगवान् परशुराम की ऐतिहासिक चर्चा की जा रही है, जो कि वर्तमान काल में अतिप्रासङ्गिक एवं प्रेरणास्पद हैं।

सत्युग के आरम्भ में द्विजातियों में श्रेष्ठ जाति ब्राह्मणों की मानी जाती थी। नित्य यज्ञ-यागादिकर्म करना-कराना, षडङ्गवेदाध्ययन करना-कराना, दान लेना-देना यही इनके मुख्यकर्म थे। इसमें श्रुति स्वयं ही प्रमाण है – ‘विद्या ह वै ब्राह्मणमाजगाम गोपाय मा शेवधिष्टेऽहमस्मि।’ अतः ‘ब्राह्मणाय निष्कारणो हिषडङ्गो वेदोऽध्येतव्यः’ की परम्परा ने ब्राह्मणों को अमित-अगणित-अमोघ तेजस्विता के कारण ‘भूसुर’ की संज्ञा से विभूषित किया था। इन भूसुरों के अमोघ ब्रह्मतेज के सामने परमशक्तिशाली सम्राट् तो क्या देवेन्द्र तक की समस्त शक्तियाँ कुण्ठित हो जाती थीं। उनकी अमित तेजस्विता, ज्ञान-विज्ञान के बल के सामने वायु जैसी सर्वव्यापिनी और सूक्ष्म शक्ति, जल जैसा सर्वव्यापी सरल तत्त्व, विद्युत् जैसा चञ्चल और सर्वसंहारकतेज, सभी अवनत एवं आज्ञानुवर्ती थे।

भगवान् परशुराम के अवतरण का कारण –

काल सबको सर्वदा एक सी अवस्था में नहीं रखता है। कहा है- ‘कालः क्रमेण जगतः परिवर्तनमानः।‘ उत्थान के बाद पतन तथा पतन के बाद उत्थान, संसार के सभी पार्थिव पदार्थों की यही गति है।’ सत्युग के आरम्भ एवं मध्य में जिस ब्रह्मण्य धर्म का अमित तेजोमय भास्कर नभोमण्डित था, कर्त्तव्य एवं दायित्व में शिथिलता के कारण वह युग के समाप्त होते-होते अस्तङ्गमित होने लगा। परलोक-प्राप्ति या मोक्ष-प्राप्ति की आशा में तल्लीन, समाज से विरत उदासीन ब्राह्मणों की सांसारिक दायित्वों (अर्थात् शास्त्रोचित कर्त्तव्याकर्त्तव्य-व्यवस्था का उपदेश, मन्त्रणा इत्यादि) के प्रति विमुखता से ऐश्वर्य सम्पन्नक्षत्रियों के मन में सर्वश्रेष्ठ बनने की कुहेलिका कामना बलवती हो गई। सद्बुद्धि, शान्ति, आत्मबल इत्यादि को तुच्छ समझने वाले राजाओं को देव-पूजा एवं ब्राह्मण-पूजा आदि से अश्रद्धा हो गई। फलतः दत्तात्रेय के वर-प्रभाव से अजेय बल सम्पन्नएवं अप्रतिम ऐश्वर्यशाली हैहयवंश-कुलोत्पन्न माहिष्मतीपुरी के महाराज कार्त्तवीर्य अर्जुन के नेतृत्त्व में पथभ्रष्ट क्षत्रियों ने ब्राह्मणों का न सिर्फ अपमान किया प्रत्युत उन पर भीषण अत्याचार किए। पददलित-दीन ब्राह्मणों एवं अपमानित देवगणों द्वारा कार्त्तवीर्य के मान-भञ्जन पर विचारार्थ अमरावती नगरी में प्रजापति ब्रह्मा की अध्यक्षता में षाण्मासिक गोष्ठी का आयोजन किया गया। गोष्ठी में हुई मन्त्रणा के आधार पर सभी ने दुर्दान्त राजाओं के पाप-भार से दुःखी वसुन्धरा को भगवान् विष्णु के समीप गोलोकधाम भेजा। भगवान् विष्णु ने वसुन्धरा की करुण प्रार्थना को सुनकर उसे सान्त्वना देते हुए कहा कि – ‘‘मैं शीघ्र ही तुम्हारा एवं देव-द्विजगणों का अभीष्ट साधन करूँगा। महर्षि ऋचीक की घोर तपस्या से प्रसन्नहोकर मैं उन्हें एक वर दे चुका हूँ जिसकी पूर्ति हेतु मेरी एक विभूति ‘परशुराम’ इस नाम से उनके पुत्र जमदग्नि के घर में जन्म लेगी। उसके जीवन का व्रत अन्याय व अत्याचारों का समूल नाश कर ब्रह्मण्य-सनातन धर्म की पुनः प्रतिष्ठा करना होगा। अतः तुम प्रसन्नहोकर जाओ एवं दीनों, ब्राह्मणों व देवगणों को आश्वस्त कर दो।’’ 

भगवान् परशुराम का अवतरण –

उक्त घटना के प्रायः बारह वर्ष बाद, भगवान विष्णु ने सरस्वती आश्रम में महर्षि ऋचीक के पुत्र महर्षि जमदग्नि के घर, सर्वगुण-सम्पन्नसूर्यप्रभाप्रदीपित, परशुचिह्नयुक्त परशुराम रूप में सनातन-धर्म की पुनः प्रतिष्ठापनार्थ माता रेणुका के गर्भ से अवतार लिया। स्कन्द एवं भविष्यपुराण के अनुसार भगवान् परशुराम का जन्म वैशाख मास के शुक्लपक्ष की तृतीया तिथि को पुनर्वसु नक्षत्र में रात्रि के प्रथम प्रहर (प्रायः प्रदोष काल) में, हुआ। उस समय 6 ग्रह उच्च के थे। जयदेव कहते हैं –

क्षत्रियरुधिरमये जगदपगतपापं स्नपयसि पयसि शमितभवतापम्।

केशव धृतभृगुपतिरूपम्। जय जगदीश हरे।। (गीतगोविन्द)

भगवान् विष्णु ने परशुराम अंश के रूप में उस भृगु कुल में अवतार लिया जिस भृगु के पाद-प्रहार को अपने वक्षःस्थल पर सहा। इसी भृगुवंश में उत्पन्न होने के कारण वे भार्गव’ कहलाए। इनके चार भाई विश्वावसु, वसु, सुषेण एवं रूमोद्वान् इनसे क्रमशः आयु में बड़े थे। कालान्तर में युवा परशुराम को साक्षात् भगवान् शिव से धनुर्विद्या के साथ-साथ अष्टधातु-निर्मित भीषण, अमोघ एवं सर्वजयी परशु प्राप्त हुआ।

पितृ-मातृभक्त परशुराम –

एक बार पितृभक्त परशुरामजी ने अपने पिता जमदग्नि से आज्ञा पाकर बिना एक क्षण गंवाए अपनी माता रेणुका का मस्तक धड़ से अलग कर डाला। अपने पुत्र की पितृ-भक्ति से प्रसन्नजमदग्नि ने मातृ-शोक से सन्तप्त परशुराम की विनती पर पुनः उनकी माता को जीवित कर दिया।

कार्त्तवीर्य का वध एवं दुष्ट राजाओं का संहार –

सोलह दिन व्यापी निर्जल उपवास के बाद द्वादशी के व्रत की पारणा की शान्ति के लिए महर्षि जमदग्नि अतिथि-सत्कार में तत्पर हुए। अतिथि के रूप में आश्रम में ससैन्य उपस्थित महाराज कार्तवीर्य अर्जुन का दो दिनों तक, अपने तपोबल से प्राप्त ‘नन्दा’ नामक कामधेनु की सहायता व योगबल के द्वारा अनेकों दुर्लभ, रमणीय वस्तुओं व सुस्वादु भोजन से, महर्षि ने यथोचित् सत्कार किया। दो दिन पश्चात् गमन-काल में अनुकूल अवसर देखकर महाराज कार्तवीर्य अर्जुन उनके सामने उपस्थित हुए तथा महर्षि जमदग्नि के आश्रम में स्थित ‘नन्दा’ नामक कामधेनु को लेने की प्रार्थना की। किन्तु महर्षि द्वारा विनम्रतापूर्वक मना करने पर, राजा ने सक्रोध उन्हें अपमानित करके मृत्युदण्ड तक देने का निश्चय किया। फलतः अर्जुन के पुत्रों ने महर्षि जमदग्नि का वध कर दिया। इस अमानुषिक दुष्कृत्य ने परशुराम को विह्वल कर दिया। परशुराम की क्रोध रूपी दावाग्नि ने उनको आततायी राजाओं के संहारक साक्षात् यमराज के रूप में परिणत कर दिया। उन्होंने सम्पूर्ण भारतवर्ष के अन्यायी एवं पथभ्रष्ट राजाओं का समूलनाश करके सनातन धर्म प्रतिष्ठित करने का प्रण कर लिया।

धर्म की स्थापना हेतु परशुराम का चतुर्दिक विजय अभियान –

परशुराम ने भारत के दक्षिण प्रान्त से अपना अभियान प्रारम्भ किया तथा सर्वप्रथम श्वेतद्वीप के राजा श्वेतकेतु को परास्त कर वहाँ सनातन-धर्म की स्थापना की। तत्पश्चात् दक्षिणेश्वर महाराज वृषकेतु को परास्त करने के बाद 12 दिन के युद्ध के अनन्तर पश्चिम की ओर पारण प्रदेश पर भी विजय हासिल की। दक्षिण के अवशिष्ट राज्यों ने भयवशात् वैदिक-धर्म की पुनः प्रतिष्ठा स्वीकार कर ली। पारण से आगे राजा जीमूतवाहन के प्रणवप्रस्थ नामक नगर पर अधिपत्य स्थापित किया। इसके बाद परशुराम ने भारत के पूर्वराज्यों बङ्ग, उपबङ्ग, कलिङ्गऔर स्वमन्त्र में आततायी राजाओं का नाश करके सनातन धर्म प्रतिष्ठापित किया।

निःक्षत्रियामकृतगां च त्रिसप्तकृत्वो रामस्तु हैहयकुलोऽप्ययभार्गवाग्निः।। (भागवत्, 11/4/21)

इस प्रकार सम्पूर्ण भारतवर्ष में सनातन धर्म की पुनः स्थापना के उपरान्त भगवान् परशुराम महर्षि कश्यप को धरती देकर (संरक्षक नियुक्त कर) स्वयं महेन्द्र पर्वत पर रहने लगे।

-डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र, सहायकाचार्य (ज्योतिष), राष्ट्रिय-संस्कृत-संस्थान, भोपाल परिसर, भोपाल, म.प्र.

Day of Rama-Janma : Chaitra Shukla Navami (29 November 12240 BCE)

Nilesh during debate in New Delhi

– Mr. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak

As we celebrate the birth day of Shri Rama, we will ponder on various aspects of Maryada-Purushottma Rama and of our Adi-kavya – Valmiki’s Ramayana. One of the significant and curious aspects, for many, is the history and chronology of Shri Rama and thus Ramayana.

Valmiki Ramayana presents us with more than 500 specific astronomy and chronology references. Some of the specific references from this list allow us to determine broad timeline for the chronology of the Ramayana while some other allow us to nail down timing for the specific instances of Ramayana, and the remaining references allow us to check if our assertions are correct.

Four references from four different kanda of Valmiki Ramayana (Ayodhya 3:34, Aryanya 16:12, Kishkindha 53:9 and Yuddha 4:48) place lower limit of 10,000 BCE as the boundary for the chronology of Ramayana, i.e., the incidents of Ramayana did not occur even a day later than 10,000 BCE. These four independent observations of seasons and astronomy phenomenon also create upper boundary of 17,000 BCE, for the chronology of Ramayana.

A solitary observation of a comet afflicting nakshatra Mula was key to determine 12209 BCE as the year of Rama-Ravana yuddha. This year (12209 BCE) as the year when Shri Rama went to Lanka, along with Laxman, Sugriva, Hanuman and other Vanara warriors and Vanara army, can be combined with chronological narrations of Valmiki Ramayana to determine timing for numerous instances of Ramayana, such as 12240 BCE being the year of Rama-Janma, 12223 BCE as the year when Rama left Ayodhya, along with Laxman and Sita, for 14 year-long Vanavas. These dates were further corroborated by hundreds of additional seasonal and astronomy observations of Valmiki Ramayana.

Ram-Navami-2015-Images-HD-1024x768

(Source of Image : http://yepindia.com)

A question may be raised that if Rama was born in the month of November as per Julian/Gregorian calendar computations, how come we celebrate it in the month of March/April (Gregorian calendar) in our times? The answer to this important question is the astronomy phenomenon known as ‘Precession of Equinoxes’. One of the key consequences of this phenomenon is that seasons shift by about one lunar month every 2000 years. Thus, while Valmiki Ramayana descriptions of lunar month of Chaitra are that of Sharad rutu (season); after about 14,000 years, lunar month of Chaitra falls during the second half of Vasanta rutu (season) and thus during end of March and beginning of April.

In fact, this fact was lost on dozen plus Ramayana researchers who were curious to determine the timing of Ramayana and this resulted in their proposing a timeline that cannot match with the descriptions of Valmiki Ramayana. For example, Late Shri Pushkar Bhatnagar proposed 10 January 5114 BCE as the day of Rama-Janma. This day falls during the peak of winter and thus the problem with this day is that it neither agrees with descriptions of Valmiki Ramayana nor it agrees with mistakenly assumed time of Vasanata rutu by Shri Pushkar Bhatnagar. And this wrong starting point resulted in erroneous chronology.

We can learn from Valmiki Ramayana that star Brahmarashi, also known as Abhijit or Vega, was the north pole star at the time of Ramayana as described by Laxman, or the lunar month of Ashwin occurred during the Vasanta rutu. Thus, if we compare the timing of seasons and Indian lunar months of our time, we realize that the seasons have shifted with respect to lunar month by about 6 months, i.e. exactly halfway through 26000 years long cycle of the precession of equinoxes.  This means we have documented records of Indian civilization going back to about 14000 years.

Further, we can combine narration of King Trishanku from Valmiki Ramayana and from Mahabharata and combine it with knowledge of astronomy to determine 13000 BCE as the timing of King Trishanku.  This means our Indian history has documented chronology of at least 15,000 years.

Of course, one may wonder if it is reasonable to make such claims, based on one stream of evidence, i.e., chronology of Ramayana. Fortunately, this is not the case.  We can combine evidence from various branches of scientific disciplines – geology, hydrology, anthropology, genetics, genealogies of Kings and genealogies of Rishis that are responsible for various ‘suktas’ and ‘mandalas’ of Rigveda to present additional clues to this deep antiquity of Indian civilization.

For example, descriptions of river Sarasvati from Rigveda, Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata allow us to trace the changes in the condition of river Sarasvati that matches very well from what we know today via geology, hydrology and climatology. Geology evidence tells us that river Yamuna separated from river Sarasvati as early as 50,000 BCE and before 9000 BCE, and this evidence is consistent with descriptions of rivers not only for Yamuna, but also for river Sarasvati and river Sutlej (Shatudri).  Modern discoveries in genetics also tell us that the Indian gene pool is very old and practically unchanged for last 20,000 plus years. Indian civilization and its narrative tradition has cleverly amalgamated science, history, art, adhyatma, medicine and peaceful living in a single tradition without any strains among its various pursuits.

Indian civilization combined these multifaceted aspects of civilization around numerous festivals it celebrates. We glean from even stray references of Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata of a tradition of Indra-dhwaja festival that was celebrated during the Vasanta rutu (season) and during the lunar month of Ashwin in Ramayana times (13th millennium BCE) and that was continued to be celebrated through Mahabharata times and it is also celebrated in our times with both its old and new names. Whether it is Tamil Sangam literature or the living ‘natha’ tradition of Nepal, both refer to it as Indra-dhwaja (Indra Viza) festival. And, while tradition of Nepal continues to celebrate it during the lunar month of Ashwin, as was done in Ramayana times, state of Maharashtra celebrates it on the first day of lunar month of Chaitra with ‘Gudhi (Dhwaja) Padava’. The times and style may change with changing times; however, the age-old tradition is preserved and celebrated throughout this land of Bharata-varsha.

It is in this very spirit, let’s celebrate 5 April 2017 CE, as the birth day of our dear Shri Rama.  Jai Sri Rama!

– Mr. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA.

 

Festival of Holi

-Mrs. Sushma SharmaIMG-20170305-WA0014-1

The colorful festivals of Hindus are an integral part of every Indian. They speak of India’s rich cultural and traditional background. The commonness in all the celebrations is that they rejoice humanity and promote basic human values. Indian festivals have many aspects in their significance, namely spiritual, philosophical, religious and cultural. The cultural aspects of festivals deal with the joyous expressions of music and dance, with people wearing beautiful traditional dresses. The celebration of such festivals is one of the key strengths of continuity of cultural values. Culture in India is related with agriculture on one hand, and religious ideals on the other. Holi festival’s cultural significance can be evaluated in both contexts. 

guj

Holi, the festival of colour is celebrated every year throughout India with a feeling of strong community bonding and excitement on the last day of Phalguna and the first day of Chaitra month of Hindu calendar. On the eve of Holi, people burn firewood namely ‘Holi’ and enjoy with dance and music making circle around it. On the next morning, they play ‘Holi’ with colors. People put colors on each other without any discrimination, and eat especial sweet preparations, especially Gujjiya.

It is a seasonal celebration of spring time after a long winter. In spring season new harvest gets ready and it is time of happiness for farmers and others. The waste material of crops is to be destroyed. The natural process of destroying the waste through fire is celebrated as Holika-Dahan.

In Puranas, the story of wicked and powerful king named Hiranyakashyap and his virtuous and divine young son, Prahlad, is associated with Holika-Dahan. Holika was the sister of Hiranyakashyap who got a boon from God that she will never be damaged or burnt by fire when alone. Later being in her arrogance she forgot the condition of boon. Hiranyakashyap decided to kill his son Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu who had single-minded love for God, because he felt jealous. The king failed in his attempt to do so. Then finally he took the help of his sister who had the boon of not being burnt by the fire. Hiranyakashyap put Prahlad on the lap of Holika and blazed fire. Due to the grace of God, Prahlad was not burnt in the fire and Holika was destroyed. She was killed having evil intentions in mind, while Prahlad survived having full faith in Almighty. The moral of the story is clear that always virtue wins over vice.

holik

The same story is told in a different way too, that Holika had been given a special shawl as a boon from God. When she wore that shawl she could not be burned by fire. Prahlad’s father and Holika planned to kill Prahlad by placing him in her lap while sitting in the fire using her shawl to protect her. But divine plan always works. When both entered in the fire, a strong gust of wind came and blew her shawl off of her. Hence, Holika was burnt in the fire of her own evil plan, and pure divine Prahlad remained safe with the devotion to God. Inner purity and inner piety are what truly save us.

Spring season is full of colorful flowers. Originally, playing Holi with colors symbolized association of prosperity and happiness with a good season and atmosphere. Holi is connected with Shri Krishna also who used to play Holi with his friends with great joy in his childhood at Mathura and Vrindavan. Even today Holi is regarded as the most popular festival of Vrindavan and Mathura regions. 

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One meaning of Holi is ‘sacrifice.’ We must remember to sacrifice that within us which is devilish and impure. Only then we will be protected, happy and pious to celebrate all colors of life.

Mrs. Sushma Sharma, Principal, New Vision Intermediate College, Kanpur, UP, India

 

Understanding Shiva and Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in honor of Shiva, one of the trinities of Hindus. Shiva occupies the highest level in importance in most of the Hindu texts, and is also acknowledged in many cultures beyond India and Hindus. Although there are more than one legend associated with Maha Shivaratri, such as the marriage of Shiva to Parvati on this occasion, worshipping of Shiva on this night to get rid of sins, or get enlightenment, the most common legend connects this night to the cosmic dance or tandav of Shiva that initiates creation, preservation, and destruction of the cosmos.

Attributes of Shiva in his representation (damaru, trishul, moon on his head, serpent around neck, etc.), sitting bare body in yogic posture, tandav dance, opening of third eye, and focus of worship by all, including devas and other members of trinities, particularly prominent incarnations of Vishnu, all indicate to the symbolism in gross, thoughts, and action (GTA).

GTA are all the features of the physical world, which gets created, remains sustained for a fixed period, and then ends. This phenomenon is entirely attributed to Shiva to initiate through the sound of damaru and movements of the dance. Shiva is fully part of the physical world, thus has a place of abode (Himalaya), marries to the daughter (Parbati) of Himalaya or Parbatraj (meaning mountain), and has children, just like any other mortal being on the Earth.

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Among the trinities, Shiva is thus the lord or swami of the physical world. Brahma is the lord of the subtle world where his thoughts are all that are needed to create the cosmos. Brahma does not have any physical possessions, although he has manasputra (created through thoughts of mind) like Indra, Narada, etc. Vishnu on the other hand does not have even mental creation, as He is the lord of the causal world, where cause of everything exists.  As per the common practice each of these trinities respect and differ to the lord of the world they enter. For example, Vishnu incarnation Ram and Krishna both worship Shiva when on Earth to signify the supremacy of the Shiva element in the physical world.

With the above understanding, one should approach the Shiva and Maha Shivaratri to rationally and practically understand their importance and practice. Many times Shiva is considered the destroyer, even though the literal meaning of Shiva is auspicious. Shiva is a yogi par excellence sitting bare body in the coldest place on Earth to indicate that He has mastered the physical world, thus proving his lordship beyond any doubt.

On a related note, Om symbol is used with many chants and rituals of worship, but is most commonly associated with Shiva, like in Om Namah Shivay! Linguistically, Om or more appropriately Aum is expressive meaning of Shiva. It starts with the ‘a’ sound as the open vowel with only aspiration of air, passes through the closed vowel ‘u’, still using the air but changing the shape of mouth in the middle, and finally the last letter ‘m’ of the last of the five classes (guttural, palatal, cerebral, dental, and labial) of the consonants of the Devanagari-aksharmala (alphabets) arranged in two dimensions. The Aum thus represents the sutra or formula with capacity to express the entire visible world (i.e., the expressed physical world). Therefore, this linguistic expression is also consistent with Shiva being the lord of the physically expressed world.

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Why is then Shiva considered as the destroyer of the world? He is not the destroyer of the world, he presides over the physical world that is by nature destroyed. Anything that is created is destroyed by nature. However, people mistakenly attribute Shiva to be the destroyer. Similarly, people attribute Shiva with intoxication, such as cannabis and bhang, even though Shiva is yogi, totally away from all these vices. People considered him to be the epitome of purity who can live without even food, and thus started giving up their vices by surrendering those items at his alter, which others thought was an offering to Shiva. And, this was taken to justify their vices citing Shiva associated with those habits.

On the occasion of the Maha Shivaratri, traditions have provision for fasting, chanting, night vigil to give up even sleep, to indicate sacrifice rather than indulgence. Maha Shivaratri is to remind us of the nature of our existence and its ultimate disappearance. It is a celebration of this understanding which makes us free from the fear of even death.

Om!

-Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Navaratri as the Celebration of the Female Shakti Culture of India

Dr. Bal Ram Singh, a Professor and Director of Botulinum Research Center, Executive Mentor of School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, a former Professor of Biophysical Chemistry and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, and Founding Director of the Center for Indic Studies at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, writes on value of ancient Indian traditions for the modern times.

 “Feminine force is that inner strength, that power, that will to face down any negative circumstances in life and defeat them.” -Georgette Mosbacher

India as a culture faces most negative attention, especially from the Western media and intellectuals, including political leaders who unceremoniously lecture India on things they need to learn from this ancient civilization.

There is always a hue and cry over women in India for one reason or the other, be it political leaders like Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Smriti Irani, Mayawati, Mamta Banerjee, Jaya Lalitha, etc., object of atrocities like Nirbhaya, Phoolan Devi, and many other rape victims throughout the country, activists like Vandana Shiva, Medha Patkar, Teesta Setalavad, etc., the spiritual leaders like Ma Amritanandamayi in Kerala, Anandamurti Guruma in Haryana, the Brahmakumaris in Rajasthan, Mother Teresa in Kolkata, Dr. Niruben Amin in Gujarat, and Didi Ma Ritambhara, who have millions of followers throughout the world.

As this is Navaratri and Dussehra time, we could use this festival to highlight some of the traditional ways in which India’s deep philosophies are practiced in regards to women. If we talk about the Navaratri goddess Durga, a word that comes from durg or fort. Durga is a symbol of fortitude, which comes to women naturally but men need to seek. Fortitude is a mental power, not necessarily the physical one.

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In a recent study, scientists found women’s brain is more resilient – “Women are able to carry higher levels of genetic defects without getting brain development disorders such as autism, supporting the possibility of a ‘female protective effect’, according to the study as per a news in Australian Broadcasting News (February 28, 2014).The study published in The American Journal of Human Geneticsgives clues as to why fifty per cent more males typically have an intellectual disability than females, and why boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.

Traditionally, women in India under ideal conditions have high place in the society – Durga, Saraswati, and Laxmi, the goddesses of strength, knowledge, and wealth, respectively. Even 30-40 years ago, at least in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the place where Nirbhaya’s parents come from, girls names had Devi added as a suffix. It reflects what society perceived and professed for women’s high place. Kanya puja is still common throughout the country. The points reflect that women in general reflect the sattvic thoughts and action. And, society prospers when that sanctity is maintained.

Manusmriti (3.56), an ancient book of memoir, states that –

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devtā 

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:

This is wrongly translated as  – where women are worshipped that becomes god’s abode. The real translation would be that where women raise themselves to the level of being worshipped, gods make that place as their abode. The onus here is on the women to raise their level with their knowledge, practice, management, and caring of the society. Worshipping Monica Lewinskys of this world will not make this world abode of gods.

Women in Sanskrit are known as stree, which means they can possess satva, rajas, and tamasic gunas at the same time in their role of mother, sister/daughter, and marriage partners. They are capable of performing these functions concurrently, as in multi-tasking today. Multitasking is women’s second nature, and neuro-scientific studies will be enriched by such analysis.

According a recent report published in CBC News (March 03, 2016) quoting Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, the director of the Brain Science Centre at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center “What we have found is that women, in many different tasks, process information about five times faster than men, and use much less of their brain to do identical cognitive performance.”

Man, on the other hand, is known as purusha (someone who pursues), because what women can accomplish/understand innately with their intuitive and perceptive power, men need to toil through learning, experiencing, and serving.

How is this difference possible? Women are right brain dominating individuals, whereas men are generally left brain dominated persons. Right brain performs intuitive functions such as art, literature, music, etc. whereas left brain is more analytical and performs math, language, technology type of operations. Right brain believed to operatefaster due to its parallel processing, and provides women with intuitive power much better than men. In India queens always sat along with kings to provide management to the kingdom, and in fact ruled their kingdoms in the absence of kings, and did well, including in battlefields.

In today’s intellectual world India as the rest of the world with few exceptions are considered as patriarchical as opposed to matriarchical society. This is not correct historically or practically, although men may have been assigned to manage the society more due to the foreign attacks the society faced in the past thousand years or so. Over five years ago, Tulsῑ Rāmayan stated that mother’s place is higher than that of the father. In Ayodhyākand Kaushalyā says –

‘jaun keval pitu ayesu tata। tau jani jahu jani badi mata’ 

जौं केवल पितु आयसु ताता। तौ जनि जाहु जानि बड़ि माता ,

which means if only father had given orders to Rām, then he did not need to go to the forest, since as a mother she holds higher position.

In Indian tradition a child is considered the most fortunate whose father is dharmatmā (righteous) and whose mother is pativratā (devoted to the husband). So, it is not easy to be an ideal mother and father. One has to work hard to reach that level, and ideal traits come from the sanskārs (values) of the family and society.

India’s daughters make majority of female graduate students in most US engineering graduate schools. That shows the true treatment of the daughters by a society, Nearly half of the Indian banks are headed by women, and have not defaulted unlike western banks. India’s housewives contribute most to the Indian economy, and Indian space programs, including its mission to Mars, is full of Indian women engineers. These are the true cultural reflections of India’s daughters, something Western world could easily learn.

In summary, women are naturally empowered, and have been accepted in Indian society as such, but it requires hard work to maintain the empowered state. They need to realize both their empowered state and the cost to maintain it. It will not come from government or modern feminist movements, which are based on ego, control, and division of the society.