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.

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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.

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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

Children in Puranas

Great personalities have always their bright childhood as continuity of qualities is a fundamental truth-

 Dhruva

In some Purāṇas, we find story of a child Dhruva who was a symbol of firm determination and profound devotion towards God. Dhruva was son of King Uttānapāda  and his wife Sunīti . The king also had another son named Uttama, born to his second queen Suruchi, who was the preferred object of his affection. Once, five year old, Dhruva was sitting on his father’s lap at the King’s throne. Suruchi, the step-mother, who was jealous of the Dhruva, forcefully removed him from his father’s lap. When Dhruva protested and asked if he could not be allowed to sit on his father’s lap, Suruchi scolded him ruthlessly saying; ‘only God can allow you that privilege. Go ask him.’

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(Source of Image : Daily Bhaskar.com)

Sunīti, a lady of gentle nature but lesser favorite wife of king, tried to console her distressed son, but Dhruva was determined to hear about his fate from the Lord.  Seeing his firm determination, mother Sunīti allowed him to go to the forest. Dhruva was determined to seek for himself his rightful place. Noticing his resolution, the divine sage Nārada appeared before him and tried to abstain him from obtaining severe austerity at such an early age. But Dhruva was firm on his decision, and therefore, overwhelmed sage guided him towards his goal by teaching rituals and mantras to meditate and please the lord Viṣṇu. The one mantra, taught by Nārada which was effectively used by Dhruva, was Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya. Little Boy fixing his mind on Lord, started his meditation, and went without food and water for six months for the gratification of Viṣṇu. His tapasyā shook the heavens, and Lord appeared before him, but the child would not open his eyes being merged in the inner vision of Viṣṇu’s form described by Nārada. Lord Viṣṇu adopted a strategy to disappear that inner vision. Immediately Dhruva opened his eyes, and seeing outside what he had been seeing in his mental vision, prostrated himself before the Lord. He could not utter a single word. The Lord touched his right cheek by his divine conch and that sparked off his speech. He recited a beautiful poem of twelve powerful verses in the praise of the Lord which is called Dhruva-stuti. The Dhruva-stuti as mentioned in the ViṣṇuPurāṇa is quite different from the Dhruva-stuti of BhāgavataPurāṇa.

Having spent a long time in the Lord’s commemoration, he even forgot the objective of his tapasyā, and only asked for a life in memory of the Lord. Pleased by his tapasyā and by his stuti, Viṣṇu granted his wish and further decreed that the child would attain Dhruvapada – the state where he would become a celestial body which would not even be touched by the mahā-pralaya. Dhruva returned to his kingdom. Now he was warmly received by his family. He attained the crown at the age of six and ruled his kingdom for many decades in a fair manner. Today people highlight any fix position or firm decision, saying it as ‘dhruva.

 Prahlāda

Prahlāda, a young boy is known in the Purāṇas for his firm devotion towards Lord Viṣṇu. Demon king, Hiraṇyakaṥyapa was his father who had commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But his son, Prahlāda refused to worship his father and became an ardent devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Hiraṇyakaṥyapa tried several ways to kill his son Prahlāda but Lord Viṣṇu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holikā to enter a blazing fire with Prahlāda in her lap. For, Hiraṇyakaṥyapa knew that Holikā had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire untouched. Holikā took her seat in a blazing fire with Prahlāda in her lap. Holikā was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlāda, who kept chanting the name of Lord Narāyaṇa, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.

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(Source of Image : http://www.padhokhelo.com)

Prahlāda was finally saved by Lord Narasiṁha (half-man half-lion), a prominent avatāra of Viṣṇu who killed his wicked father too. After the death of Hiraṇyakaṥyapa, Prahlāda took his father’s kingdom and ruled peacefully and virtuously. He was known for his generosity, kindness, determination and faith in God. In the story, we see that God saved his devotees and punished the evil. Therefore, Prahlāda is regarded as a symbol of goodness and divine faith.

– Dr. Shashi Tiwari, General Secretary, WAVES –India & Former Prof. of Sanskrit, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi

‘Prajā’ in the Light of Vedic View

The whole human race is ‘Prajā’ is the notion of Vedic society as told by Black* Yajurveda’s Taittirῑya Samhitā verse 1.5.1.3 –

तस्मान्मानव्य: प्रजा उच्यन्ते 

Tasmānmānavyaḥprajāucyante

This ideology continues to Upaniśadhic literature and developed as ‘Eko’ham Bahusyāmῑ’ i.e. “I [Brahman (ब्रह्मन्/ब्रह्म)] am one; may I become many”. Thus, this whole world or human race is manifested from Brahman. Here Brahman is the ultimate reality or the eternal truth/knowledge or the universal power that pervades whole creation. In Puruśasūkta of Ṛgveda, Brahman is clearly stated as supreme and from Brahman classification of society into four varṇas is listed –

ब्राह्मणो अस्य मुखमासीद बाहू राजन्य: कृत।

ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैश्य: पद्भ्याम शूद्रो अजायत ।।

Brāhmaṇoasyamukhamāsῑdabāhūrājanyaḥkartaḥ

Ūrūtadasyayadavaiśyaḥpadbhyāṁśūdroajāyata 

It said that brahmin was born from the mouth, kṣatriya from the shoulders, vaiśya from the thighs and śūdra from the feet of the creator.”

(Ṛgveda 10.90.12)

Today the word ‘Prajā’ is majorly used for the fourth varṇa i.e. śūdra and these śūdras are comprising of OBC/SC/ST/Dalits whereas in Vedic view śūdras were born from the feet of Brahman. Symbolically feet represent the foundation. So, śūdras are the foundation of the society. It can be elaborated as anyone who lays the foundation of the society is known as ‘śūdra’. Laying down the foundation means to build up. In other words, one who builds up the society by providing his/her services to the society is known as ‘śūdra’. In this sense, all the service providers of society such as teachers, doctors, engineers, environmentalists, musicians, painters, agriculturists, dancers, economists, writers, architects etc can be called śūdras. With these service providers a society, a nation builds up and sustains forever.

From above annotation, śūdras i.e. ‘Prajā’ are revealed as the creators of society. The etymological meaning of word ‘Prajā’ is ‘Pra’ (Prefix) means intense and ‘Jan’ (root) means creative. The word ‘Brahmā (ब्रह्मा)’ develops from Sanskrit root “Bṛh” which means “to grow” or “to expand”. Though the term ‘Brahmā’** does not appear in Vedas it is more prominently mentioned as deity of creation (one of the trinity) in the post-Vedic-texts and Puranic mythologies. Hence, sometimes Vedic god ‘Prajāpati’ is identified as ‘Brahmā’ – the creator {Brahma is the Puranic heir of Vedic Hiranyagarbha, and Brahmanic Prajapati (https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-Brahma-Brahman-and-Brahmin)}. Because of this very similarity even in today’s society ‘the creators of society’ i.e. ‘Prajā’ address themselves as ‘Prajāpati’. Like ‘Prajāpati’, Vedic god ‘Vishwakarmā’ too is considered as the lord of creation. In modern era, since creative talents are perceived by ‘Prajā’ people, so they relate themselves with above mentioned Vedic gods such as potters use ‘Prajāpati’ and carpenters, blacksmiths, jewellers use ‘Vishwakarmā’ in their surnames in recognition of their traits with ‘Prajāpati’ and ‘Vishwakarmā’. Thus, there is no harm in calling ‘Prajā’ people as lord of the society, as long as they possess the creative qualities.

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(Source of Image : http://www.scvo.org.uk )

We often come across certain Vedic texts highlighting non-allowance of śūdras for formal education. I feel such meanings of Vedic texts are misinterpretations, and there is a need to have deeper study and understanding. ‘The Whole world as the manifestation of Brahman’ is referred by Vedas many times in different ways, hence how could Vedic hymns encourage discrimination among people? In our opinion, there could have been two categories of centres of education during Vedic era. One was based more on theoretical-knowledge-creation-learning system where primarily intellectuals got admitted for deeper basic research. For skill development the vocational or practical training centre was the other choice for applied knowledge and development. In modern times these would be similar to basic fields like science, economics, etc. for basic knowledge and professional courses like engineering, medical, business, etc. for applied knowledge.

According to popular quote–

जन्मना जायते शूद्र: संस्कारात द्विज उच्यते।

वेद पठनात भवेत् विप्र: ब्रह्म जानाति इति ब्राह्मण।।

JanmanāJāyateśūdraḥsanskārātdvijuchyate

Veda pathanātbhavetvipraḥ brahma janātiitibrahmaṇaḥ।।

“By birth one is a Śūdra (lower caste), by education or by reformation, one becomes a Dvija (higher caste), by study of the Vedas one becomes a Vipra, and one who knowns Brahma is a Brahmaṇa.”

It can be understood that everyone born with capability to be a skillful person. The creativeness of each individual sometimes developed by his own or sometimes by inheritance of the family tradition or sometimes one has to go to special school of training such as we have engineering or medical colleges with specialized streams. Like at present everyone cannot go to every school similarly in Vedic times there was a definite line of schools for various streams of knowledge. We should always look into the context Vedic hymns are referring to rather than arguing on the basis of biased explanations.

It is a perception that Brahamins were the ruling class and śūdras are the lower (fourth) class. Actually there is no ascending or descending order in taxonomy of four varṇas. In our opinion, it is completely a choice-based-system where a person either wants to pursue his practically inherited/acquired skills (as śūdra) or to carry out deeper research (as in case of a brahmin). It can be explained as one who is doing a field job or practice of his skill is a śūdra and one who is inclined to enhance his intellect is a brahmin. This is, what is defined in the statement by Lord Śṛῑ Kṛśṇā–

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टम गुणकर्मविभागशः

Cāturvarṇyaṁmayāsṛṣṭaṁguṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ

I (Lord Śṛῑ Kṛśṇā) am the creator of the fourfold human society according to aptitude and profession (karma)”.

(Śṛῑmadbhagavadgῑtā 4.13)

and later Sanskrit texts –

न जात्या ब्रह्मणश्चात्र क्षत्रियो वैश्य एव न।

न शूद्रो न च वै मलेच्छो भेदिता गुणकर्मभि:।।

Na jātyābrahmaṇaścātrakṣatriyovaiśyaevana

Na śūdronacavaimlecchobheditāguṇakarmabhiḥ।।

“In this world nobody is brahmin, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra or mleccha by birth. Qualities and their deeds are responsible for these differences”.

(Śukranῑti 1.38)

The words ‘cāturvarṇyaṁ’ and ‘sṛṣṭaṁ’ are singular numbers, which testify that the four varṇas together constitute one singular society (https://sites.google.com/site/hindunew/dharma).  It can be said that Vedic sages didn’t narrate any kind of discrimination. Social unity and welfare were the only aim.

Above discussion is a hypothesis, for today’s society. If this system can be adapted then equitable society and social structure can be achieved. Inequality and social differences among the people can then be addressed.

Notes-

* The Yajurveda is broadly classified into two – the Kṛśṇā (loosely translated as black Yajurveda and the Śukla (loosely translated as white Yajurveda. The term “Kṛśṇā” implies ‘the un-arranged, unclear collection’ of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the “shukla” which implies the ‘well arranged, clear’  Yajurveda. 

** One should not be confused in the words Brahman and Brahmā. The Brahma(n) is a neuter gender word that ends in ‘ न्’. It is the Upanishadic (Vedantic) spiritual concept of oneness whereas the masculine gender word Brahmā is the four-headed Puranic character who is the creator among the Puranic Trinity concept. It can be said that Brahman is a divine concept of Hinduism and Brahmā  is one of Hindu Deity.

– Dr. Aparna Dhir, Assistant Professor and Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

 

 

Vedic Culture Growing Popular Among Indian Diaspora

Vedic culture is still relevant and gradually becoming more popular among Indian diaspora, especially in the youth, said researchers and scholars at a seminar held in the national capital.

The World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES International) and Wider Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES India) organised an event titled “Scientific Aspects of Vedic Knowledge” from December 16 to 18, where the importance of Vedic culture in the contemporary world was discussed.

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An aspect which was prioritised at the event was the presence and influence of Vedic culture among Indian diaspora. The speakers emphasised that the cultural events like music and dance have contributed a lot in keeping alive the Vedic culture.

Cultural activities are contributing a lot to keep the customs alive. In the Caribbean countries like the West Indies and Jamaica, the Indian-origin people are mostly from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and they sing the folk music, this is how the customs are carried ahead,” Indrani Ramprasad, who is working as an independent researcher in Trinidad and Tobago, told IANS at the event.

Bal Ram Singh, organiser of the event and Professor at the School of Indic Studies, US, said that the Indian diaspora in the US is now gradually becoming aware of the existence of Vedic science and it is becoming popular among youths as well. “Lot of institutes and organisations like Chinamaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission and even colleges have started organising Vedic classes in the US where the Vedic knowledge is being taught and the youths are showing interest to learn,” added Singh.

Not just the Indian diaspora, but the US people too are taking to the Vedic practices like Yoga, learning Vedas, and many are even opting for cremation instead of traditional burial.

Held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the event saw seminars, discussions and interactive sessions on numerous topics related to Vedic culture.

Sessions were held on Vedic culture’s influence and existence in the lives of modern youth, integration of modern medical and ancient Vedic perspectives on overcoming ageing, reconstructing the contemporary world with Vedic science, nano technology and the Vedic science, rain forest and global water challenges with Vedic science, and some other.

We tried to bring into limelight the importance of Vedic culture in modern science and that’s the reason we took the angle for this year’s seminar. People are not so aware of involvement of science and Vedic culture and the seminar is to bring in focus on this subject,” Singh said.

(The above picked up from the wire service- Indo Asian News Service. IANS.)