“Tamaso Mā Jyotirgamaya”- Finding a Guru in Modern Times

– Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal and Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Knowledge is a supreme reality that is not limited to experience, education, reasoning and practice. It is an awareness, or understanding of facts that helps in awakening the intellect of a person for making one wise, and use that wisdom (बुद्धि) to pursue naturally the purpose of life through चित्त, अहंकार (अस्तित्व), and महत (the supreme mind) according to the Sankhya Darśan. The mahat concept is the gateway to understanding the brahm (ब्रह्म), the ultimate seat of the knowledge. Thus, a journey of this kind requires training, practice, guidance, and ultimately the sākśātkār (साक्षात्कार) or darśan. An important individual who effectively guides in this journey is known as ‘Guru’. Since Vedic era the word ‘Guru’ is well recognised in various texts like Muṇdaka Upaniṣad (1.2.12), Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad and Advayatāraka Upaniṣad.

Literally, ‘Guru’ word is constructed from two Sanskrit words, gu (गु) and ru (रु), gu (गु) means dark, ignorance, superficial, confusion, etc., depending on the context, and ru (रु) means to break, to remove, to end, deeper/heavier, or enlighten. Guru-Gītā, a Hindu scripture (Guru Gītā is a spiritual text originally constructed by Sage Vyasa, and narrated again in  the Sakanda Purāṇa where the nature of the guru and the guru/disciple relationship is described in the form of a dialogue between Śiva and Pārvatī). Śiva narrated the etymological derivation of the word ‘guru’ that is based on the syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु), and their meanings in different contexts. According to Wikipedia, there are different versions of Guru-Gita ranging in verses from 100 to 400. According to a Guru-Gita following verses are directly defining the term Guru. It is interesting to note that the primary meaning of the gu (गु) as dark and ru (रु) as the remover is retained to describe the concepts of the ślokas. –

गुकारश्चान्धकारो हि रुकारस्तेज उच्यते |

अज्ञानग्रासकं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव न संशयः||33||

‘गु’ शब्द का अर्थ है अंधकार (अज्ञान) और ‘रु’ शब्द का अर्थ है प्रकाश (ज्ञान) | अज्ञान को नष्ट करने वाला जो ब्रह्मरूप प्रकाश है, वह गुरु है | इसमें कोई संशय नहीं है |

 In this translation the physical reality of dark is removed by the physical element of light, and that is then metaphorically used to indicate that the guru removes the ignorance by eating it away (grāsakam), means destroying it permanently.

गुकारश्चान्धकारस्तु रुकारस्तन्निरोधकृत् | 

अन्धकारविनाशित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ||34||

‘गु’ कार अंधकार है और उसको दूर करनेवाल ‘रु’ कार है | अज्ञानरूपी अन्धकार को नष्ट करने के कारण ही गुरु कहलाते हैं |

Here the guru is presented as someone who does not allow the darkness to continue, in other words the guru destroys it. Implications are here that the guru is a dynamic personality who can spot, assess, and prevent the ignorance from continuing.

गुकारः प्रथमो वर्णो मायादि गुणभासकः |

रुकारोऽस्ति परं ब्रह्म मायाभ्रान्तिविमोचकम् ||36||

‘गुरु’ शब्द का प्रथम अक्षर ‘गु’ माया आदि गुणों का प्रकाशक है और दूसरा अक्षर ‘रु’ माया की भ्रान्ति से मुक्ति देनेवाला परब्रह्म है |

Here guru is projected as someone who removes confusion from the illusionary māyā. Two points worth noting are (1) gu (गु) here is presented as the promoter of illusion by highlighting its qualities or features; and (2) ru (रु) means not just a remover of the confusion from this illusion but doing this from the perspective of the parbrahm (परब्रह्म), meaning after attaining that status.

Thus, a guru is a very dynamic personality who can provide guidance to his/her disciple (शिष्य) under a variety of natural and artificial (illusionary) conditions of activities to develop wisdom and vivek in the pursuits of the ultimate goals of life.  

The attributes of guru have to be such that such a dynamism in developing the disciple is readily feasible. Some of those attributes are described under stanzas on ‘आचार्यलक्षणम्’ in Śukla Yajurveda’s Advayatāraka Upaniṣad (an ancient Sanskrit text on Yoga), as outlined below.

आचार्यो वेदसम्पन्नो विष्णुभक्तो विमत्सरः ।

योगज्ञो योगनिष्ठश्च सदा योगात्मकः शुचिः ॥14॥

A truly competent teacher is, armed with Vedic knowledge, a devotee of Viśṇu to mean that the guru has full knowledge of the causal world, free from envy/jealousy through the knowledge, devotion, and practice of yoga. This is important for a guru so that there is no envy with the disciple, providing total devotion to the guidance of the of the disciple.

गुरुभक्तिसमायुक्तः पुरुष्ज्ञो विशेषतः ।

एवं लक्षणसम्पन्नो गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥15॥

He should be devoted to his own guru, meaning continues to remain a śiṣya in practice, thus being able to develop the camaraderie with his own disciple, is particularly well versed with the knowledge of puruśa and prakriti, the source and expressive powers of the universe, He who possesses various types of  such virtues is designated as a guru.

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात् रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः ।

अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥16॥

The syllable gu (signifies) darkness. The syllable ru (signifies) the destroyer of the darkness. By the reason of the ability to destroy darkness he is called a guru.

गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव परा गतिः ।

गुरुरेव परा विद्या गुरुरेव परायणं ॥17॥

The guru alone is the supreme absolute brahm. Guru alone is the supreme way. Guru alone is the master of parā (as opposed to only aparāvidyā. Guru alone is the supreme and last resort.

गुरुरेव परा काष्ठा गुरुरेव परं धनं ।

यस्मात्तदुपदेष्टाऽसौ तस्माद्गुरुतरो गुरुरिति ॥18॥

The guru alone is the limit of all knowledge. The guru alone is the ultimate wealth. He is the teacher of the non-dual reality. Therefore, he is the ultimate guru.

The tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring, where teachings are transmitted from a guru to a disciple, is known as guruśiṣya paramparā. This guruśiṣya relationship has evolved in Indian tradition since Upaniṣad era where guru and śiṣya developed resonance of thoughts and then guru transmits his knowledge to the person who respectfully sits down near him with śraddhā, in the quest for knowledge. A guruśiṣya relationship are beyond age, gender, and battlefield, as the guru can be Yama to a teenage boy Naciketā, lord Kṛśṇa to warrier Arjuna, or sage Yājñavalkya to his own wife (Gārgī / Maitreyī).

The concept of guru and Guru Purṇimā is quite old, the oldest being celebrated as the birthday of Ved Vyāsa, on the day of Aṣāḍa Purṇimā. The latest revival of Guru Purṇimā festival was done by Mahatma Gandhi in honor of his spiritual guru, Rajchandra. In its true tradition a guru does not expect anything in return from a śiṣya, and performs the imparting of knowledge as a karmayoga.  

With time, people started observing guru as a mentor, counsellor, advisor, who inculcates values in his disciples by sharing knowledge and his own experiences, and who cares about the wellbeing of his disciples. A guru, however, in its true tradition will dedicate his/her life caring about disciples spiritually, and educating them in accordance with their nature. Thus, he is an inspirational source for the spiritual evolution of the disciple. The tradition of guru runs deep in India. The entire Sikhism concept is laid down based on the the teachings of Guru. Its main scripture is called Guru Granth Sahib and the words therein called Gurbaṇī.

In present society too, we have come across many such gurus. Like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekānanda, Swami Dayānanda Saraswatī, His Holiness Dalai Lama for Buddhism, ISKCON founder A. C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada for Bhakti Yoga, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Art of living, Radha Swami, Swami Rāmdev Bābā for Yoga, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for Spirituality, and many others in such tradition. Their disciples usually refer to them as Gurudev! These spiritual leaders are kind of role models and sometimes preferred by people as an alternative to established religions to know more about divinity.

In olden days, the school or pāṭhśālā ran by guru was known as gurukula, later on in modern times they are called as āśrama, although the gurukula system of education is still in practice. Both of these are residential places of learning, without requiring any fees. Guru treats disciples or followers as part of their own family. In gurukula, students received complete knowledge of Vedic scriptures, philosophical-spiritual-medicinal-political, etc. along with various art forms, whereas in āśrama followers received spiritual preaching from their guru. Ultimately these are concentrated on such education that helps in revealing the purpose of life. While pursuing teaching or preaching, guru focuses on self-discipline among learners that result in inner perfection leading to liberation in the form of mokṣa.

Guruśiṣya tradition superficially still is observed in modern educational institutions, at least in traditional ones, where students in general pay respect to their teachers on occasions of Guru Purṇimā. Sometimes these occasions are observed in United States by Hindu groups, such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, and American teachers really appreciate such a devotion. The devotion to teachers, no matter where they are, is always beneficial to students, as śraddhā is critical for earning knowledge.

श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानं तत्पर: संयतेन्द्रिय: |

ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति || Bhagvadgita 4.39||

Those who are devoted and who are ready willing to control their mind and senses attain knowledge. Through such knowledge, they quickly attain everlasting supreme peace.

Thus, in Indian tradition the position of Guru is more or less same as Deva, the lord. One should be devoted to his Guru just like he is devoted to his Deva.  

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ । Śvetāśvetara Upaniṣad 6.23

Will this system ever return, is it the right time for its return, can this system adapt to the modern time, can it compete with modern educational system, and will it be allowed in a time when education itself has become an over $6 trillion business? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear with forced adaptation during the Corona time, that the bluff of traditional system of institutional classroom has largely been called out! With the cost of education spiraling out of control at all levels throughout the world, the educational practices adapted during the Corona lockdown may in fact have provided the needed pause for pondering.

A trillion dollar question is whether gurus are ready to take their place! Let’s hope the answer would be YES by the next Guru Purṇimā!!

Worthy Gurus are absolutely needed!

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

COVID-19 Induced Distress and Its Management through Vedic Sciences

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

Stress is a universal truth that afflicts one and all. Every living being; reptiles, birds or animals; everyone goes through pangs of stress. In case of reptiles and animals, stress is for the most basic necessities for their survival. Maslow’s Physiological and Security needs of hierarchy are primary needs of all and that includes humans as well. Reptiles and animals get anxious and go into stress whenever their survival is at stake i.e. whenever their requirement of food, safety and progenies are threatened, they will either submit to more powerful or fight with the competitor. Animals including human beings are affected by emotions for their family & friends and that is one of the major causes of stress. 

Whenever under pressure individuals perform and achieve targets and objectives, it is called Eustress and when one is unable to manage himself, unable to achieve targets and feels that he cannot fight it out, he resorts to running away from the situation. Soon he gets into severe depression followed by stress called Distress.

Covid-19 is a very unique situation the world is witnessing in first half of 2020 and it may prolong for longer duration. Today, survival of humans as a race is threatened and like all other animals, man is also prone to distress. Esteem and Self-actualization are appearing distant and difficult to achieve. Respect, recognition and feeling of accomplishment is essential part of human life is finding back seat when people are contracting Covid-19 in hundreds every day. Death of loved ones has stressed them out and it is affecting all countries, races, caste, creed and colour across the planet. Governments all over are attempting to find remedies to the deadly disease. Physical social distancing, isolation, lockdown and quarantine have been found to be reasonable means to prevent spread of the disease.

Type of job, place of work, indoor or outdoor etc. does not matter, he/she needs that space and recognition in one’s life. In the situation that we all are in today during Covid-19 crisis, both boredom and anxiety are affecting all of us and getting locked into house aggravates the status.

Lockdown was ordered across India on 25th March 2020; no one is permitted to move out and all offices have been closed down. Work from home is the new norm where there are no work place friends to share intimacies. Zoom conferences are formal digital spaces where intimacies and informal discussions are not possible. There is limited space in house in urban colonies to move around, limited number of people to interact with and limited time-consuming activity to fill the time gap. There are very limited number of people in the home with whom one can interact and share feelings. Even if there is a standard family of four with aged parents in the house, inter-personal relational issues amongst the members is a reality; ghar-ghar ki kahani is the order of the day (pun intended). Consequently, it is difficult to share one’s inner feeling with relations at home. At times, it is observed that sharing and caring with spouses are formal and dutiful relations. Very limited interaction takes place with aged parents and conversations are limited. Majority time is spent on mobile, television and computers and still lot of time is available where all sessions of Time Management seem ineffective. Since 25th March 2020, Entire India is going through this phase with intermittent speeches by PM Mr. Narendra Modi and respective state CMs and other dignitaries of the government. All efforts are made to keep the population aware of the latest situation and providing all possible help for safety.

However, stress is coming up as the next issue with stay indoors regulations. All efforts by the government and other agencies, there is limited positive impact and social relational structure is affected adversely.

Euronews has reported increased cases of domestic violence and divorces in France since lockdown was imposed in the country. Tablighi Jamaat has continued its central prayers and congregations despite lockdown and orders from the government. Nefarious elements have continued to assault police and medical and health workers. People connecting up with psychiatrists and psychologists has gone up since the lockdown has been affected. Who would not go crazy in such a sensitive environment where disease and death hangs all over?

Management way of looking at Stress

Over a period of time, both boredom and anxiety are visible in society. India Electronic Media is all full of shows to help us all overcome the isolation and attempts to bring smiles on our faces. Boredom on account of limited activity and anxiety on account of increasing number of infections and deaths due to the deadly disease. The reality of impact of Covid-19 is giving no respite; whopping 2,18,386 deaths have been reported so far as on 29th April, 2020 and end is nowhere in sight. India has suffered 1007 deaths.

More and more cluster is cropping every day and more and more teams are ushered into service of mankind. This is biggest humanitarian assistance ever organized in the history. Economic slump, china hiding the facts and President Trump threatening China of dire consequences is further adding fuel to the fore of increasing stress levels amongst all sections of society. Anxiety, depression and stress are natural outcomes that are of bound to impact most of us.

Management of Covid-19 Induced Stress

Covid-19 has been studied by experts and they opine that prevention is better than cure. Means to handle the disease are in three stages: –

  • Stage 1- Prevent contracting the disease by staying at home and not coming out in public.
  • Stage 2. Isolate and quarantine at home for those infected.
  • Stage 3. Medical treatment at designated hospitals for serious cases.

Stress in all stages of treatment may show some or more of following symptoms: –

  • Boredom, anxiety, fatigued and wear out
  • Lack of involvement and loss of interest in usual enjoyable activities
  • Physical symptoms like high blood pressure, indigestion and uneasiness
  • Short temper and anger
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Fear of unknown- fear of getting infected and if infected; fear of death.

Stress is outcome of psychological, biological and personality traits. Ability to handle mounting isolation and hopeless situation will decide if one will get into depression and stress. In order to come out of stress, we have to understand the corona virus and Covid-19 disease, its symptoms and how best we all can save people by efforts of individuals, elders in the family and following instructions given by the government from time to time. Some of the common measures are: –

  • Organise the day. Start the day with morning physical exercises at home, call it one mat exercises.  Limitation of space has to be taken into account and exercise for minimum of 30 minutes daily. Thereafter divide the individual and family time plan.
  • Plan and follow time table. It may include daily office chores, house hold jobs and hobbies. Family work plan will bring in variety and motivation to overcome boredom.
  • Set Objectives. Weekly/fortnightly or monthly objectives be planned for seeking satisfaction and constructive use of time.
  • Complement each other more often, laugh more than yesterday and find reasons to stay positive.
  • Be passionate about life with simple rule- This too shall pass.

Indian Vedic Sciences and Stress Management

The fact that covid-19 is likely to affect many of us and its impact worldwide is disastrous; can be considered from the Vedic perspective as well.  Indian Vedic sciences is ocean of knowledge on stress management; only a fraction is discussed here.

Breath is basic parameter of stress; it exists in our breath and if you are able to control your own breath, stress can be identified and remedial yogic and breathing exercises can be practised to overcome the same. Fear of Covid -19 infection or death is likely to change breath pattern, it will become fast, heavy and compulsive indicating higher stress levels. Thoughts of fear and death release certain stress causing toxins in human body that can be consumed by various yogic asanas and pranayama. Chanting of Oṃ (ॐ) and Prāṇāyāma like anulom-vilom and bhrāmari will help in normalising blood pressure, mitigate toxins and give a soothing feeling.

Knowledge of Triguṇas  i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas can help change own prakṛti from tāmsic to sāttvic. There is a predominant Guṇa in each one of us and the Guṇas change with the time of the day, kind of activities, and thought process.  Every time there is a thought of fear or death or isolation, they reflect one getting into Tamas or stress due to negative thoughts and belief. That will result into change in behaviour of person, severe depression and stress. One has to act immediately to come out of Tamas and enter the state of Rajas. The activity will use the toxins of the body and one starts feeling better and will now think of better days in times to come. The process will take one from Rajas to state of Sattva where ultimate relief from stress is felt. It is easier said than done but support of friends and family members can take one out of depression or the stress.

‘Stay home stay happy’ is the soul’s answer to stress management. Primarily, if we are able to consume the enzymes released in the body due to psycho-social conditions created in the Covid-19 rich environment, we shall be able to convert distress into eustress. Gainful use of time available is the call we need to take and shall be able to not only save ourselves and family members but also will be able to enjoy the time of togetherness gifted by the God Almighty.

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)

‘कोरोना-अभिशाप’ : प्रकृति के लिए वरदान!

डा. अपर्णा (धीर) खण्डेलवाल

हमारे जीवन को सरल बनाने वाले औद्योगिकरणों एवं वैज्ञानिक सफलताओं ने कहीं न कहीं हमें प्रकृति से कोसों दूर कर दिया। आज हम हरे-भरे उद्यानों की छाया एवं मनोरम छवि, नदियों की तरंगपूर्ण शीतल लहरों की  कल्कलाहट, शुद्ध वायु, सूर्य की निर्मल पहली किरण से जगमगाते हुए आसमान की लालिमा, पक्षियों की चहचहाहट, भ्रमरों का गुंजन, तित्लियों के रंग-बिरंगे पंखों का फैलाव, फूलों की सुगन्ध, चांदनी रातें, टिमटिमाते हुए तारे आदि प्राकृतिक अनुभूतियों को छोड़ अत्यन्त व्यस्त जीवन जी रहे थे। इस जीवन में न तो प्रकृति के लिए समय था, न ही परिवार के लिए। समय था तो केवल चुनौतियों से भरे हुए अहंकार-पूर्ण जीवन के लिए। इन चुनौतियों को पूरा करने और लौकिक सुखों के उद्देश्य में मानव यह भूल गया कि वह अपनी लापरवाही से प्रकृति का अनजाने में कितना दोहन प्रतिदिन प्रतिक्षण किए ही जा रहा है। जिसके परिणाम स्वरूप आज हरियाली खत्म होती जा रही है, वायु में सांस नहीं लिया जा रहा, नदियों का जल पय नहीं रहा, अत्याधिक वर्षा भूस्खलन का कारण बन गई इत्यादि। इन्हीं सब चिन्ताओं से आज हमारे शरीर रोगग्रस्त हो रहे हैं।

2020 के दस्तक देने से पूर्व ही ‘कोरोना’ विश्वपटल पर धीरे-धीरे चुपके-चुपके पैर पसार रहा था। पहले चीन फिर यूरोपीय देश फिर समस्त विश्व का सिकंदर बना अमेरिका इसकी चपेट में आते जा रहे थे….. और फिर बारी आई अपने भारत की। अत्यन्त घातक यह ’कोरोना’ समस्त विश्व में कोहराम मचाकर लाखों की संख्या में मानव जाति को पीड़ित कर रहा है। यह स्थिति कहलाई जा रही है ’कोरोना-महामारी’। इस स्थिति पर नियंत्रण पाने के लिए अथवा उसके संक्रमण से सम्पूर्ण मानव-जाति को बचाने के लिए…….सभी देशों में धीरे-धीरे सम्पूर्ण बंद (lockdown) की स्थिति आ गई। देखते ही देखते देश-विदेश के समस्त बड़े-बड़े उद्योग, यातायात के साधन, लोक-व्यवहार, बाज़ार, उत्पादन, खरीद-बिक्री एक के बाद एक बंद होते चले गए। कोई इसे प्राकृतिक-आपदा कहने लगा तो कोई मानवीय त्रुटि। किसी का भी ध्यान प्रकृति के कायाकल्प की ओर नहीं जा रहा। सब ओर हाहाकार ही सुनाई पड़ता रहा। अगर हम ऐसा मान लें कि शायद प्रकृति हमारी व्यावहारिक ज़िन्दगी से थकने के कारण थोड़ा विराम लेना चाहती थी……तो शायद ’कोरोना-महामारी’ सहज लगने लगे।

वास्तव में प्रकृति केवल वही नहीं जो सम्पूर्ण ब्रह्माण्ड के चारों ओर आच्छादित है, जिसे हम ‘पर्यावरण’ के नाम से जानते हैं अपितु प्रकृति के दोनों रूप हमें जानने चाहिए – बाह्य प्रकृति और आन्तरिक प्रकृति। बाह्य प्रकृति में समुद्र-नदियाँ, पर्वत, वृक्ष-पौधे, वायु आते हैं। आन्तरिक प्रकृति में हमारे विचार आते हैं। दोनों प्रकृतियों को सहेज के रखना ही हमारा कर्तव्य है, तभी प्रकृति और हमारा आपसी संतुलन बना रहता है।

बाह्य प्रकृति –

प्रकृति के साथ सम्बन्ध की अनुभूति ही सिद्ध करती है, हमारा प्रकृति के प्रति स्वभाव। प्रकृति और मानव जीवन का सामञ्जस्य एवं संतुलन ही पर्यावरण का संरक्षण कहलाता है। इसका सबसे बड़ा उदाहरण अथर्ववेद (12.1.12) का मंत्र है-

माता भूमिः पुत्रोऽहं पृथिव्याः।

भूमि मेरी माता है और मैं भूमि का पुत्र (संतान) हूँ।

जब हम सम्पूर्ण पृथ्वी की ही कल्पना अपनी माँ के रूप में कर लेते हैं तो कभी भी पृथ्वी के अंगभूत उसके वृक्ष, नदियाँ, वायु, पर्वत आदि को प्रदूषित नहीं करते और उनके प्रति स्नेहमयी दृष्टि रखते हैं।

‘कोरोना-महामारी’ से पूर्व खानों की खुदाई; तेल, कोयले, लकड़ी जैसे ईंधनों की खपत, समुद्री जीव-जन्तुओं का जीवन, जंगलों की कटाई, दूषित नदियाँ, मांसाहार आदि प्रदूषण पर्यावरणविदों की गम्भीर चिन्ता के विषय थे। विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन जैसी संस्थाएँ प्रतिदिन प्रदूषण से होने वाली अनेक प्रकार की व्याधियों के रोकथाम एवं जागरूकता के लिए नए-नए चिकित्सीय दिशा-निर्देशों को निर्दिष्ट करता रहता था। 

अभिशाप बनकर आये इस ’कोरोना-काल’ में अर्थशास्त्री बाज़ार के उतार-चढ़ाव देखते रहे परन्तु चिरकाल से चोट खाई इस प्रकृति ने समस्त हानिकारक प्रदूषको में भारी गिरावट कर खुद को ही नया सा कर लिया।

नमामि गंगे’, ‘स्वच्छ वायु परियोजना’  एवं स्वच्छ भारत अभियान’  जैसी योजनाओं के चलने से भी जहाँ असर नहीं आ रहा था, वहीं इस ‘कोरोना-अभिशाप’ की गोद में छिपा था साफ आसमान, साफ नदियाँ, स्वच्छ वायु का वरदान (https://www.ndtv.com/news/view/ndtv/2216600/site=classic/?device=androidv2&showads=no)। कहने में अतिशयोक्ति न होगी कि ’कोरोना’ ने मानव को प्रकृति की नूतन छवि के दर्शन करा उनके परस्पर सम्बन्ध को और अधिक क़रीबी बनाया।

आन्तरिक प्रकृति –

व्यक्ति के सोच-विचार ही उसकी आन्तरिक प्रकृति की नींव है। मनुष्य के विचारों से ही उसका स्वभाव बनता है इसीलिए ‘कोरोना-काल’ में स्वयं को तनाव मुक्त करने के लिए तथा सद्विचार हेतु ‘ताली’ और ‘थाली’ की गूँज के साथ दियों की जगमगाहट दिखाई दी। वैदिक मंत्र ‘तन्मे मनः शिवसंकल्पमस्तु’ (वाजसनेयी संहिता 34) का सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण भारत के प्रधानमंत्री जी ने कुछ इस प्रकार प्रकट किया-

शुभं करोति कल्याणमारोग्यं धनसंपदा।

शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तुते॥

यही दर्शाता है कि ‘कोरोना’ को संकट नहीं अपितु उस अंधकार के रूप में माना गया है जिसके बाद सवेरा निश्चित है- ‘तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय। मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय’ (बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28)। वैदिक विचारधारा से ओत-प्रोत भारत आपद-काल में यही सकारात्मक संदेश समस्त विश्व तक पहुंचा रहा है।

संगठित समाज और संयुक्त-परिवार-व्यवस्था ही वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् की नींव है। भारतीय सामाजिक व्यवस्था प्रारम्भ से ही इसकी सराहना करती है। वर्तमान ‘कोरोना-संक्रमण-काल’ के कारण सम्पूर्ण विश्व में चल रहे बंद (lockdown) ने समस्त विश्व को सामाजिक एकता एवं पारिवारिक सम्बन्धों में परस्पर सामंजस्य का पाठ पढ़ाया है। तनावपूर्ण वातावरण में परस्पर सौहार्द ही मानसिक बल प्रदान करता है, जिससे आत्मघाती अवसादों को नियंत्रित किया जा सकता है।

स्वयं को पहचानना अर्थात् अपनी क्षमताओं और कमज़ोरियों का ज्ञान परमावश्यक है। आज हम कहीं न कहीं आत्म-मूल्यांकन भूल चुके हैं। इस ‘कोरोना-संकट’ ने हम सभी को भागदौड़ से हटाकर ’स्वाध्याय’ के लिए प्रेरित किया है-

स्वाध्यायान्मा प्रमदः’ (तैत्तिरीय उपनिषद् 1.11.1)

सांसारिक क्रियाकलापों से परे आत्म-निहित साधना ही हमें योग और ध्यान की ओर ले जाती है- असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं……वैराग्येण च गॄह्यते’ (गीता 6.35) | इस आपत्ति-काल ने ‘आत्मानुशासन’ भी सिखा दिया।

इस प्रकार ‘कोरोना’ ने बाह्य और आन्तरिक दोनों ही प्रकृतियों में नूतनता के दर्शन कराये हैं। ऐसा लगता है कि ‘कोरोना-काल’ के बाद विश्व में कई बदलाव दिखेंगे, यथा- पारिवारिक-सम्बन्धों में, पर्यावरण-संरक्षण के प्रति, आत्म-विश्लेषण में, तथा सकारात्मक ऊर्जा के रूप में।

हम जीवन के प्रति उदासीन हो रहे हैं पर

प्रकृति स्वयं को हमारे लिए पुनर्जीवित कर रही है……….

Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता और वर्तमान

– Mr.Vikram Bhatia

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 ||

(श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता २.४७)

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।

Mr.Vikram Bhatia, Entrepreneur, Indore

Names of Kṛṣṇa and Arjunā in Bhagavadgitā : An Appeal for Awakening (Part-II)

Continued from Part-I

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar

Kṛṣṇa calls different names suitable to the context of the message, answers guidance, clarifications, assertions and more by suitable expressions appealing and awakening the need of the situation. Arjunā’s quest and doubts are removed saying that he will not be a killer and a sinner however. He would not be a sinner by fighting and defeating his own kith and kin even though he kills them. The names thus with which Arjunā was called by Kṛṣṇa are these: Internal evidence shows that Arjunā’s character is screened and real expectations are awakened in Him. Actually he shirked to fight gripped by Klaibya and Hrudaya-daurbalya. He got into the crisis of moha and loss of smṛti in respect of bounded duty as kśatriya.

Anagha :  Pure. Sin free Arjunā is afraid that due to war fighting he would be sinner. Kṛṣṇa with this call assures he is not getting sin when he attends kśatriya dharma at that juncture.

Anasuya : Not having jealous normal.

Arjunā : White, pure clean slate ready to grasp and ready to be instructed rightful ways of action, opened for corrections.

Bharatasreshtha : Best among citizens of bharat the  native land.

Bharatasattama :  Strong enough among the citizens belonging to Bharat.

Bharatarshabhha : He belongs to Bharata clan and he thus Bharatas. He is best among such group of native men.

Bharata :   He is native of Bharat.  Here the love and commitment to the devotion of Bharat in securing the Dharma in the land. This name is used as addressal to  Arjunā by Kṛṣṇa  three times to awaken the rāṣtrabhakti in him.

Dehabhrtamvara : Best among all holding to the body and its nature and behavior.

Dhananjaya : Victor in the battles and bring good booty after the war to the masters of his support. A war is called as  dhana samsad.

Gudakesa : Victim of the influence of the senses. Loses control over senses and emotions ordinarily.

Kapidhvaja : Having Hanuman over his flag on the top of his chariot.

Kiriti : Known for victory always the kiritas, crowns of kings  are unstable when he goes to fight while his kirita remains firm, success is sure.

Kurupraveena : Best among the people of the Kuru vamśa he is best.

Kurunandana : He is the son of Pāndu of the Kuru family. He would be delight to the Kuru family. He delights the Kurus with his exploits too.

Kurusresrehtha :  He is eminent among the warriors of the Kuru dynasty.

Kurusattama : Better person among the Kuru People.

Kaunteya : Son of Kunti attached by sentiments, land and  family.

Mahabahu : Strong shouldered symbolic to signify the irresistible strength in his bahus that wields weapons. So he can fight long in the war with out fatigue but with success usually.

Maasucah : Pure . cf., Kṛṣṇa assuring  Arjunā that he would relieve him from sinning (Aham tvaam sarvapāpebhyo mokshaishyāmi 18.66) Kṛṣṇa ensures that war and success would not defile him at all. He is agree to get reward unaffected. Only once Kṛṣṇa complements thus like the calling Arjunā as Taata.

Manada : Provider of respect to the other recognizing their honour.

Paramtapa :  He severs enemies and enhances their fear and defeats them.

Pandava : Belonging to the children of Pandu raja. He takes the name of his father who ruled the land in place of his brother Dhrutarashtra.

Pārtha : He is earthly and having all ordinary human qualities known for attachment and emotions. Also means a royal person.

Purusharshabha : He is best among Purushas, the Men , the warriors.

Savyasacee : Capable of fighting in the war with both hands with equal felicity. This is unique fame to Arjunā. He reached top in that skill in war.

 Taata :  Boy  innocent and affectionate to elders. Affectionate calling only once the name is used by Kṛṣṇa. One who does well shall never fall and be a sinner.

All these names referring Arjunā and his capabilities and eminence as recognized by Kṛṣṇa go to screw up the mood and remove dispiritedness in him. All   that gripped him temporarily. It is ‘nāma mahimā’; that appeal and awakening got ignited. That quality in the individual names addressed to Arjunā reminded the commitment he had at an hour of crisis when his participation was a keynote for protecting dharma. Therefore the action depends upon the kind of addresses made to the concerned individual to wake up and give up shiredness. Lord Kṛṣṇa had done this sensitively that Arjunā realized his duty.

These names when we reflect, we realize they speak the personal and impersonal antecedents and features latent in each other. It lends scope for improvement in the respective perspectives of personalities. When Kṛṣṇa’s names are seen they are suggestive that the Lord is human and divine but committed to make the human- a human caring dharma from their ends. Actually some of the features of them look common to all. Humans are placed in different circumstances and situations in life. They are marked by their Jāti, Varṇa, Deśa, kāla and such miscellaneous occasions. Gitā containing the words of Lord Kṛṣṇa resolve and action that is warranted is activated. Need be viewed that it is a text relevant for us. There is lot of appeal to conscience and nature. Arjunā is no different from us. We are like him only always facing doubts and fears of sin and follies.

There is scope for awakening and appeal for action. We can lead a life of fulfillment in case we get chance to have a learned person to counsel us. To be modern, we may cite Vivekananda who maintained a word of awakening thus : ‘Arise, Awake , Stop not until the goal is reached’. We are the servants of Rama-Kṛṣṇa.  Here Kṛṣṇa signified by work and extra skill to accomplish the validity and establishment of dharma. We are all the children of immortality (amṛtasya putras vayam). We obtain Mukti. If the yogas 17 of the Gitā are understood and practiced, viṣāda vanishes. It is true. Viṣāda is the foundation of improvement. Birth is viṣāda (sorrow).

Gitā impresses reality and facts relevant in our own day to day circumstances. We have dialogues participated by Sanjaya and Dhṛtarāśtra to begin with. Therefore Bhagavadgitā is for Action, Vidura Niti is polity and Vishnu Sahasra Nāma Stotra is for peace and Sanat Sujatīyam is for relief and Liberation. These four portions of Mahābhārata are regarded as Gems (Ratnas) of Mahābhārata. A study of the names of Kesav-Arjunās remains a source for personality awareness and progress to move to perform destined action and stand an example to world.

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar, President, Bangalore Chapter, WAVES-India.

Names of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in Bhagavadgitā : An Appeal for Awakening (Part-I)

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar

Bhagavadgitā is Ever Fresh. It is ocean of Guidance. It provides hope and solace for the life issues to all at all ages.  Bhagavadgitā is Mother extending grace and concern over people’s duty of paying attention to Dharma. Gitā is guide for spiritual sādhanā moves and sights. Therefore, there are several expressions praising Gitā and its eternal use. But the same is not availed for benefit for many. Keeping this in View many missions and associations came up to impress the value, validity of Gitā. It is said:

Gitā sugitā kartavya kamanyaih sastra vistaraih|

                                 Yat svayam padmanabhasya mukha padmat vinisrutam||  

(Gitā-mahatmya 4)

Gitā has to be well followed. What else is the use of other large amount of Sāśtras. This statement has come out from the mouth of Padmanābha Kṛṣṇa who is a teacher of teachers. This supports the Eternity of the value and validity of Gitā. Thus is the talk by Kṛṣṇa while Arjuna was sole recipient of the awakening set of yogas and instructions.

Pārthaya pratibodhitam  Bhagavata narayanena  svayam

                   vyasena grathitam purana munina madhyat Mahabharatam!

                        advaitamruta varshinim Bhagavatim ashtadhasaadhyaini…..

                                             … gite bhavadveshini

(Gitā Dhyana 1)

Gitā is the nectar of Advaita covering eighteen chapters disdaining the material comfort only and the incidence of rebirth.

Wholly knowledge of yogas has come out to answer the Arjuna viśāda yoga.  At chapter one, Arjuna expresses his fear of sin and so refused to fight. But Kṛṣṇa comes up with Karma, Bhakti and Jñana yogas to instill courage and clear the doubts in him. He even risked showing his Universal form when doubts and unfaith in talk lurked in the mind of Arjuna. While this famous dialogue between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna there are addresals to Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna done by each mutually. That would be our enough effort to draw message and appeal hidden in them. At the same time awaken the sense of duty and right for execution. Kṛṣṇa says:

samvādamāvayoh jnāna  yajñena’

(Gitā 18.70)

Sanjaya said as he remembered the dialogue, he gets elated and happy. Further the dialogue is ‘adbhutaṁ’, ‘roma harshanaṁ’, ‘param guhyaṁ’ and ‘punyaṁ’. Sanjaya terms it as: one emerging out of significant dialogue of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna and adds that he felt elated very much (18.75). The same could be experience to anyone who followed the dialogue with diligence.

II

Let us enlist the names with which Arjuna called Kṛṣṇa at first. It is interesting to note that Acyuta is the constant address to open dialogue and conclude the dialogue.  In 18th chapter of the Gitā, Kṛṣṇa is Hṛṣīkeśa althrough while Arjuna is ‘Pārtha’ and Gudākeśa just to differentiate the difference between the Narāyana and Nara, the Arjuna. They mean just opposites namely Kṛṣṇa has control of senses while Arjuna is with in the grip of senses. So only the introductory stanza goes thus: saying that Narāyan imparts the teachings to Pārtha at the crisis. This is knit together by Vyāsa, the Purana Muni in the mid point of the body of Mahābharata. The teaching amounts to Advaita and it is amṛta showered on the ambiguous mind of Arjuna. The amṛta-varśa dispelled the doubts and suspicions and superstitions from the mind of Arjuna. Arjuna is made very happy forgetting his mental status touched when Kṛṣṇa showed him the viśvarupadarśana (the universal Form imbibing any and everything of the creation), the final mode of solving the lurking rather impeding confusion in the mind. It is to clear the Vimudhatva in Arjuna who is liable for change and understanding resulting in right action. Kṛṣṇa said ‘Act as you please’

‘yathecchasi tathā kuru’

(Gitā 18.63)

The decision was he was made to get rid of the cowardice, diffidence and moha. He got the light of truth and the real memory of Jāti and Kula Dharma became activated. He considered that he would not be sinner when Kṛṣṇa has done what he has to do in reality.  It is to the show of the world outside. In essence the dialogue gave rise to appeal and awakening on either side to ignite right action.  War was only solution for Kṣatriyas to resolve the Dharma. It is so because the ruling goes yato dharmah tato jayah (Mahābhārata). Success is always inclined at the reach of Dharma. Kṛṣṇa’s target was Dharma-samsthāpanā namely to establish Dharma only however.  Lord Viṣṇu descends to set right the Right.

III

The names of Kṛṣṇa with which Arjuna addressed Kṛṣṇa look very suggestive of his nature and powers. They stand to appeal to the Lord to guide him relevantly.  He is seen looking at Kṛṣṇa in many angles, forms and ultimately as friend and God. In like manner, Kṛṣṇa too looked upon Arjuna as a capable hero but disturbed momentarily at the sight of the opposite Army that contained his kith and kin too. Basically Arjuna was gripped by emotions and sentimental feelings.. That was a matter of viṣāda in him.

Now the respective names of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are taken to discussion briefly-  

The meanings of the names get understood relevant to the addressals done by each other. It is the nāma mahimāthat kindles the sense of appeal and awakening.  Besides that the personality traits, build of character and suitable action are suggested. The way name is called out supports the action warranted thereafter. Arjuna is looked upon more times as Pārtha meaning quite, materialistic and terrestrial.  He seemed to be elevated to the sense of duty at that critical juncture as a warrior best and care for the duty of a kṣatriya.  

Acyuta: this is the standard name to Kṛṣṇa at all times, meaning he never shakes nor looses courage and confidence. It is derived thus: ‘na cyutih, nasah yasya sah acyutah. In other words, all others in the creation are liable for ruin and disappearance. It is ‘cyuti’ meaning nasa. Finally Arjuna calls him Acyuta. Assenting to the appeal by Kṛṣṇa to war. He said ‘Naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtirlabdhā tvatprasādānmayācyuta’ (18.73). All the way memory and extra love sentimental bothered Arjun althrough.

Ananta : Infinite. All in all, endless.

Apratima Prabhava :  Matchless, valor and influence. Unfailing in plans and desires.

Arisudana : victor over enemies. Slays wicked enemies.

Adyah : He is erstwhile in existence before anyone. Kṛṣṇa is God who exits before anything came into the being.

Bhagavān : means possessor of all that characterizes of Bhaga. Bhaga implies ability in the features like creation, destruction etc. that belong to people and nature.

Bhutabhavanah : He thinks of the beings and attests their thinking and connectedly supportive.

Bhutesah : He is the leader of all beings irrespective the category known.

Devadeva : the leader of such Brilliant gods (the Viṣṇu). In a feeling of over joy Arjuna calls Kṛṣṇa at a stretch with several names especially when Kṛṣṇa showed his universal form (viśvarupa).  

Devavarah : well elected and best of all the brilliant people like bright righteous people, gods etc.

Devesa : the commander of   workers  to make the good to happen.

Govinda : He makes the land and people happy. He is the custodian of Knowledge and Happiness.

Hṛṣīkeśa : Who has hold on Indriyas. They never drop down. They remain standardized and never swerving in the circumstances. Indriyanigraha is a great feat but it is natural to him.

Janārdana : means Protector of people indifferent to their differences and distinctions like sun and Moon. Janārdana is everybody’s protector. So, Arjuna calls Kṛṣṇa at right situation. Kṛṣṇa was promoting war with the Kauravas and kill them. As Janārdana it is sin prompting him to do pāpakarma. It was the suggestion to Kṛṣṇa when he called him thus.

Jagannivasa : though he is elsewhere fixed, he is not away from the creation and situations. Involved in the crisis and solution of the orders.

Jagatpate : He is lord of Jagat the combination of mobile and immobile objects in creation. He is inseparable and identical with all.

Kamala Patraksha : his eyes are beautiful as beautiful as the lotus flower. Here the looks are pleasant and attractive that fear is dispelled at his sight.

Kṛṣṇa : He is the Attractor  ‘aa karshati iti Kṛṣṇah’ He pulls attention of all towards him.

Kesava : connected to creation that comes out of Water. No creation is possible without water, the divine support. The first appearance of the Lord is in waters lying in restful state.

Kesinishudana : He killed another demon by name Kesi and this demon was a special kind of rākṣasa but a bhakta. His name he took in is fame.

Madhusudana : ‘Madhu’ is a Demon by name.  The slayer of that demon is Kṛṣṇa. A queller of Evil and Negativity.

Mahabaaho : Strong shoulders meaning skilled in war and courage to face any inimical person or circumstances.

Mahatmā :  Great soul able to get elevated outlook of his own self.

Paramesvara : There are many overlords, the leader and monitor of all of them to keep the work well organized.

Purushotthama : He is Puruṣa, one with the creation but ranks always high. Looked upon by people for help and suggestion. In Puruṣa sukta of  RV Narāyana is Puruṣa.

Prabhu  : He is one controlled by himself over his own being and actions.

Sarvesah : He is monitor of any and everything in the creation.

Sahasra bāhu : His strength is number with the thousand shoulders, hands. It bespeaks his war skill and never failing in exerting physical strength. Bahu is symbolic of power and potency.

Yādava : He belongs to the Yādava community, which is known for service to society.

Yogeśvarah : The teacher and mentor of Yoga that joins the individual to make him enhanced of powers and hope.

Varsheya :  He belongs to the clan of Vrushni and it a natural identity to him as he is mānava avatara too besides divine inset in  his personality.

Vāsudeva : Son of Vāsudeva.

Viśvamurti : He is figure of all.  All forms are his own.  He is in everybody.

Viśvesvara :  He is overlord of  the Universe and every object.

Viṣṇu : He is present any and everywhere all the three times.

Yogi : Focused person a Disciplinarian.

In all these names we notice the mention of power and ability and vested capacity in Kṛṣṇa that He would be good Guide par excellence. Further the names have special intonation with reference to his talk made to arjuna and arjuna responding in dialogue.

Continued to Part II

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar, President, Bangalore Chapter, WAVES-India.  

Sūrya Namaskār Ᾱsana (Controversy over Sūrya or God?)

Sh. Vidya Sagar Verma

Declaring International Day for Yoga is a great tribute to the seers and sages of India who propounded the Yoga Discipline.

The literal meaning of the word ‘Yoga’ is union. Union of what? Answer to this question has been given by renowned commentator on Yoga Darśana Yajñyavalkya: Samyogo Yoga Ity Ukto Jivātma-Paramātmanoriti, i.e., Yoga is the union of Soul and God. There is a divine spark in all of us and that, because of ignorance, we are not aware of it and, hence, the advice is to know ourselves. And that can be done only through Yoga. God being present everywhere is present in our souls too and can be discerned there directly.

Thus, Yoga and its purpose defined by many seers, scholars, philosophers-

Gita offers a secular definition of Yoga, viz.,

योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्

Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam

i.e., Yoga is perfection in action. By controlling the thought currents of one’s mind, one attains deep concentration on any subject matter and, thereby, attains complete knowledge of the matter pondered over.

Sage Patanjali in his Yoga-Sūtra said :

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः 

Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodhah

i.e controlling the modifications / thought currents of mind is Yoga. It is a holistic system having both physical and psychological traits.

Rudolf Steiner has also said “Meditation is the way to knowing and beholding the eternal, indestructible, essential centre of our being” (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/edit-page/Dissolve-thoughts/articleshow/347676.cms).

Philosopher Allie M. Frazier has also defined Yoga: 

The purpose of Yoga is to unite man with the Divine Ground, with the Cosmic Consciousness. Yoga is the psychological linking of the mind to the super-ordinated principle ‘by which the mind knows’. 

Every human being possesses three things – Body, Mind and Soul (Spirit). Yoga aims at the composite development of human personality — physical, mental and spiritual. The Vedas and the Upaniśads advise ‘Ᾱtmānam Vidhi’, i.e., Know Thyself.

आत्मानं रथिनं विद्धि शरीरं रथमेव तु।

(कठोपनिषद्, अध्याय १, वल्ली ३, मंत्र ३)

To know oneself, one has to concentrate deeper inside. Performing Yoga-Ᾱsanas is not just a way to physical fitness but also helps in deliberating deeper essence of his/her body. Out of 84 Ᾱsanas of Hatha-Yoga, two are very prominent and effective — Shirṣa-Ᾱsana and Sūrya-Namaskār Ᾱsana.

The Sūrya Namaskār Ᾱsana energises the whole body, it wards off many diseases related to the spine, stomach, thyroid gland, arthritis, et al. It is, therefore, recommended that this Ᾱsana must be learnt and performed by all the practitioners of Yoga.

It is unfortunate that the Yoga Capsule devised by the Ministry of Ayush for the International Day of Yoga Celebrations, Sūrya Namaskār Ᾱsana has been excluded, whereas, in many countries, it forms a prominent part of the Yoga Demonstration on this day celebrated by almost all the countries in the world.  

The word ‘Sūrya’ in the Sūrya Namsakar does not mean Sun, but God.

सूर्यो वै सर्वे देवा:।

(शतपथ ब्राह्मण १३.७.१.५)

In the Vedas Indra, Varun, Sūrya, et al, are all the names of God and he (Sun) is worthy of being bowed to by all. Brāhmaṇas of Yajurveda narrated various references where Sūrya is said to be ‘द्वादश’.

आदित्यो  द्वादश:।

(तैत्तिरीय ब्राह्मण १.५.३.४; शतपथ ब्राह्मण ११.६.३.५)

विष्णुर्धाता भग: पूषा मित्रेन्द्रौ वरुणोऽर्यमा….॥

सूर्य (आदित्य) के बारह नाम – विष्णु, धाता, भग, पूषा, मित्र, इन्द्र, वरुण, अर्यमा, विवस्वान्, अंशुमान्, त्वष्टा, और पर्जन्य।

(ब्रह्मपुराण ३१.१७-१८)

To avoid the controversy over Sūrya Namaskār Ᾱsana, a humble suggestion is that it be renamed as Iśa Namaskār Ᾱsana as Sūrya here means God.

Prof. Max Muller’s following words in ‘India: What Can It Teach Us’ are worthy of attention: 

“They were all meant to express the Beyond, the Invisible behind the Visible, the Infinite within the Finite, the Supernatural above the Natural, the Divine, Omnipresent, Omnipotent.”

It is not only the Vedas, but many religions, philosophers and scholars declare God as the Soul of the Universe: 

All are but parts of (the Universe is) one stupendous Whole

Whose Body Nature is, and God the Soul.

— Alexander Pope (https://www.bartleby.com/360/4/13.html)

Sh. Vidya Sagar Verma, Former Ambassador

DemoNOcracy is Here – Readers offer ways out

The article “Democracy turns into DemoNOcracy!!” authored by Prof. Bal Ram Singh published on 22nd May, 2019. The title itself of the article said a lot about Prof. Singh’s view. According to Singh the purpose of the piece was not exactly to provide road map and solutions, rather raise the consciousness of intellectuals towards the problem. Therefore, VedicWAVES blog sought response from the readers of the blog.

(Source of Image: https://mastergolflivestream.com/image/democracy-clipart-government-bill/459473.html#gal_post_480_democracy-clipart-government-bill-7.jpg )

Readers were requested to consider the following questions: 

1. Whether readers are agree with the observation. 

2. What maybe the reason? 

3. What can be done from Vedic view?

Below are the short responses received –

Prof. Girish Nath Jha, Dean, School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Agree with your observation. In fact, just yesterday I was wondering [if] someone [had] compiled all the invectives used in this election. It would be a good linguistics resource for research.

The reason why politicians are using these into quickly to hone their message in a very short time. The audience would perhaps remember these more than plain talk.

The Vedic way of sound democratic ways is not possible today. The closest that we can go would be to promote leadership with Tyāga and general wellbeing of others as the guiding principles.

Dr. Pandita Indrani Rampersad, Trinidad and Tobago

I agree for a code of ethics for politicians on the campaign trail. Leaders should show restraint in speech and conduct. I found nothing wrong with the ‘termite’ metaphor because of what a termite does – it works silently from within and before you know it, your entire house falls down like a pack of cards. It is an appropriate metaphor for campaign rhetoric.

Political speech is not in the realm of religious or academic discourse. There is the element of ‘warring opponents’ – nothing wrong with that. However, while being feisty, the campaign rhetoric should aim not to injure and hurt the personhood of the ‘other’ – stick to the issues not personalities. The subtle, artistic, bringing down of your opponent with words is to be enjoyed as the art of debating. It should not descend into ridicule and slander.

Sumit Ganguly’s analysis is from a leftist perspective and nationalism for these folks is not a welcome concept. I disagree with their consistent recourse to demonization of minorities. It’s simply not true. Minorities in India have greater privileges and protections than many other parts of the world and are used by leftist activists seeking favours in foreign countries. Uplift of the economically disadvantaged is more pressing than identity politics in India. Chandra Bhan Prasad’s comment is puerile.

Criminalization in Indian politics is a real issue. Remove goondas and corruption.

India needs a vision to manage its great diversity and the socio-economic and spiritual development of its citizens. India is the spiritual capital of the world. A return to the principles of Rām Rājya is mandatory. Let the state provide the social and economic conditions for development so that people may actualize their highest goals of spirituality. 

India has to be constantly vigilant about external cultural, economic and political forces that see it citizens as ideal consumers. India has to be constantly vigilant about the constant threat to its sovereignty, for near and far, especially its neighbours.

Dr. Raju Chidambaram, USA

Democracy is a basically good concept, perhaps the second best one can have other than a Rāmraj led by a dhārmic monarch.

The problem is the Party system that plagues all democracies. Cooperation (the Yajña spirit of Gīta) needed for progress is not possible in a party-based democracy.

How do we enforce parties to cooperate? Every two years in the US the election should be about the entire House of Representatives. Instead of choosing individuals, the people should decide “Has the House worked for the people in the last 2 years? If so, all of them return for the next 2 years. If not none of them will be allowed to run for re-election and every seat filled with a new comer”. Drastic idea, maybe, but it might force all representatives to cooperate for the good of the country in order to stay elected.

Sh. Rishi Pal Chauhan, Jiva Institute, Faridabad.

I agree with your observations. Earlier social workers used to join politics. They not only used to understand the culture of the nation but lived that in their day to day life. Their life was for nation.

In seventies people started keeping muscle man. In eighties muscle man started join politics. Now people with money power and criminal record join politics.

There should be basic qualification for a politician. He should submit his achievement about the knowledge of the culture of India and the record of social work practically achieved in his constituency He should submit his individual plan for five years. There should be review of his work after every year. He or she did not achieve as per the satisfaction of people he should get grading. There should be basic qualification of voter also.

Sh. Lallan Prasad Pandey, Former Income Tax Officer, Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Yes I agree with the observations made in the write up, given above. 

I think that people see the power politics an opportunity to make money and enjoy power as this was previous trend.

Democratic system of India has provisions and institutions for check and balance. But now a days there needs to come forward the learned and right thinking people to observe the conduct of Parliamentarians and issue public warnings of their observations. Some proper learning courses may be conducted for new members.

डा राजकुमारी त्रिखा, पूर्व अध्यापिका, संस्कृत, मैत्रेयी महाविद्यालय, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

डॉक्टर बलराम सिंह ने बहुत सुंदर विश्लेषण करके भारतीय राजनीति की तस्वीर प्रस्तुत की है। यह सच है कि हमारे राजनेताओं ने इलेक्शन के दौरान अनेक प्रकार के आरोप-प्रत्यारोप एक दूसरे पर लगाए, जो कि हमारी संस्कृति और नैतिकता के विरुद्ध है ।

जहां तक अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का प्रश्न है , कुछ बोलने से पहले यह सोचना जरूरी है कि हमारी बातें नैतिकता के विरूद्ध न हों। हमें अपनी डेमोक्रेसी को डेमोनोक्रेसी बनने से रोकना होगा, जो कि गिरते हुए नैतिक स्तर के कारण लगभग असंभव सा लगता है। भ्रष्टाचार में आकंठ डूबी अधिकांश जनता और भ्रष्ट विरोधी पार्टियों से भरे हुए देश में डेमोक्रेसी फेल है। यहां तो समुचित और त्वरित दंड व्यवस्था, और सीमित राजतंत्र वाली ऐसी शासन पद्धति होनी चाहिये जैसी महाभारत में बताई गई है। वहां मंत्रिमंडल का कार्य था राज्य के हित को देखते हुए कानून, नियम बनाना और राजा का कार्य था उन कानूनों और नियमों को जनता में सख्ती से लागू करना। कानून के विरुद्ध आचरण करनेवाले को अपराधानुकूल निष्पक्ष दण्ड देना। यदि राजा अपने इस कार्य में असफल होता था, तो उसे गति सिंहासन से उतारा भी जा सकता था। यही उचित राजधर्म है।  महाभारत में इसी व्यवस्था को आदर्श शासन पद्धति कहा गया है। परंतु दुख की बात है कि भ्रष्टाचारी जनता और विरोधी पार्टियों के रहते हुए इस तरह का परिवर्तन संभव प्रतीत नहीं होता। फिर भी ईश्वर से प्रार्थना है कि वह हमारे नेताओं को सद्बुद्धि दे और भारत को नैतिक दृष्टि से भी समृद्ध राष्ट्र बनायें।

Prof. R.P. Singh, Professor, Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

In Vedas, Asuras were not demonized. Demonization started in the Purānas and Epics. Since then it has been happening in one way or another. Britishers were called as mylekshas (म्लेच्छ). There is a lack public morality and predominance of civil society over the State. It will give rise to the State to become authoritative. I appreciate the paper through and through nostalgic.

Mrs. Shagufa Afzal, Principal, Kuruom Vidyalaya, Kuruown, Uttar Pradesh

First of all Sir, the content is mind blowing and is the true scene of our prevailing so called democracy. I truly agree with it. There’s no more the taste of democracy, instead every leader now just puts each other’s name down which really gives a bad impression to everyone.

According to me the reason is selfishness of political leaders. Now what has become the point that everyone somehow or the other just wants the rule …politicians instead of serving nation, they have developed the mentality of serving their pockets. Development has become a faraway point. They just put each other’s name down to move ahead.

Lastly, according to me as in each n every competition certain education is necessary, likewise it should be made mandatory for politicians as well to be qualified because its education which can mentality and bring in good leaders to the show!!

Sh.Yogendra Bhardwaj, Research Scholar, Sanskrit, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Nice thought by you (Prof.Singh)

राजनीति में मतभेद होना संभव है, किन्तु मतभेद नहीं होना चाहिए। भारतीय संस्कृति में राजनीति के अंतर्गत ऐसी नीतियों के निर्धारण का मार्ग प्रशस्त होता है, जिसका अंतिम लक्ष्य “लोककल्याण” होता है।

Ms.Ami Shah, Corporate Legal Expert, Mumbai

Yes totally agree with the observation… The demon of politics is clearly visible now… The status has gone down significantly.

Today the scenario is such that they want to win at any cost. Losing is not am option as their fake reputation is at stake and for that they can go to any extent even if they gave to lose your moral values. They attack at personal levels… They attack your family and your morals. They attack at your weakest links. It has become a battle with no rules, just win at any cost.

In my opinion the best way to improve the practice of democracy is to conduct elections every five year plus conducting voting out every year… This will be an added responsibility and fear of getting removed in the minds of those who are elected. They won’t take their positions for granted. Introducing e-voting system to implement this. Apart from this education is a must to improve the practice of democracy.

Our View

The responders are unanimous in holding politicians responsible for the deterioration of the discourse of democracy to demonocracy. The reasons range from selfishness, no rules of engagements, criminalization of the politics, lack of public morality, power politics and money, party-based democracy, and expedient short term political gains

It is interesting that most of the readers feel that there should be some level of accountability and a provision to recall and/or the elected representatives for lack of progress on promises made. Education and training of politicians are needed, and perhaps principles of sacrifice for public good, following dhārmic principles need to be introduced and  encouraged. The concept of Rāmrajya needs to be invoked.

We feel intellectuals and policy makers need to look at the history of governance in India for inspiration of a system that can serve India’s diverse population without creating acrimony and divisiveness currently being practiced. It is important to be willing to storm out of a system that is becoming detrimental to the nation.

Editorial Team, Vedic WAVES

Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part -I)

Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Introduction

While I was studying Varāh Mihir’s “Brihat Samhitā” and participating in the exercise of validation of his Rain conception and Rain Delivery (RCRD) theory for Monsoon -2016; the basis of Yajña concept being incorporated in some of the Indian Festivals came to my mind as a realisation. I have been thinking about it ever since the publication of the report about this validation exercise in Asian Agri-History Journal 2018 Vol.22 (2), the International Quarterly Journal of Asian Agri- History Foundation. My association with late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale for  validation of Suvrushti  Project and RCRD Theory for Monsoon 2016, was a wonderful experience for me; particularly for understanding the greatness of our Ṛśis in theorizing their observations  of nature, environment, atmospheric order and the  Cosmological  System consisting of Sun, Moon, Planets and Nakṣatras. One marvels at the wisdom and expertise in interweaving these theories in social and cultural life for the common benefit of mankind.

All of us are familiar with the Indian Monsoon. The word Monsoon has its origin in Arabic word, ‘Mausam’ which means ‘season’. The word which was originally referred to wind reversals in the Arabian sea, has come to mean the whole range of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycles in tropical and sub-tropical Asia, Australia and Africa. Therefore, the study of Monsoon weather patterns is of great importance for every Indian farmer, every student of Environmental Science and for that matter every Indian citizen, because Monsoon is the life-line of India. According to world climate patterns and regional geography of Asia and India, Monsoon climate patterns are characterized by large scale seasonal reversals of winds, giving very distinct seasons, ’Summer’ and ‘Winter’. In summer moist air is carried northwards from the Indian Ocean over the Indian sub-continent bringing rains. In winter, cool dry weather is carried southwards. Thus, the year gets divided into wet and dry seasons. In addition a short North-East Monsoon affects the south-east coastal states of India due to winds bringing moisture from Bay of Bengal. The Summer Monsoon arrives in southern India in late May or early June and gradually advances northwards and westwards reaching Jammu-Kashmir, Pakistan by early July. It begins to retreat from north western regions and Pakistan by September and withdraws from south India by November. This pattern of advancement and withdrawal gives Indian sub-continent its characteristic seasonal rainfall pattern which is called Indian Monsoon.

Our great Ṛśis and seers during Vedic Period and Post Vedic Period had studied these weather patterns and encapsulated their findings in scriptures like , “ Brihat Samhitā“ of  Varāh Mihir, “Arthaśastra“ of Kautilya  and “Kṛśi Parashar“ of  Parashar. In addition to these examples of the Science of Rainfall Prediction and Rain Conception Signals, there are many ancient texts of Astrometerology of Vedic traditions like –Parashar Samhitā, Garg Samhitā, Kashyap Samhitā, Maghmala Samhitā, Narad Samhitā etc. which have been mentioned in the reports/ books published by Shri Yogiraj Ved Vidnyan Aśram, Barshi, Dist. Solapur Maharashtra, (Vedaśram) founded by late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale mentioned above. Vedaśram carried out various experiments of, Suvrushti Projects and Validation of Varāh Mihir’s RCRD Theory by performing Somyāgas, Parjanya Yāgas for establishing scientifically the relationship between Yajñas, Agriculture, Environment and Rainfall.

Varāh Mihir’s Theory of Rain Conception and Rain Delivery ( RCRD):

Varāh Mihir in his, “Brihat Samhitā” gives his theory of Vṛśṭi Garbhadhārana (Rain conception) and Vṛśṭi Prasav (Rain delivery). Chapters 21 to 28 of this book are devoted to this subject-matter. Before laying down his theory, Varāh Mihir explains the importance of the knowledge of Rainfall Prediction, Rain Conception Signals and Rain Delivery at the beginning of chapter 21 entitled “Garbh Lakṣaṇam” (Pregnancy of clouds) in the first verse as follows:

अन्नम् जगत: प्राणा: प्रावृट्कालस्य चान्नमायत्तम् |

यस्मादत: परीक्ष्य: प्रावृट्काल: प्रयत्नेन् ||१||

Annam Jagataḥ Prāṇāḥ Prāvṛṭkālasya Chānnamāyattam  I

Yasmādataḥ Parīkṣyaḥ Prāvṛṭkālaḥ Prayatnen  II1II

It means that as the food is life-giving and life-sustaining force to all living beings and the food is dependent on rainfall (Monsoon) it should be observed, investigated and studied carefully. In India only 35% of the cultivated land is an irrigated land, which means that almost 65% is rain-fed area, which is entirely dependent upon Monsoon. Hence farmer’s knowledge about Rain Conception Signals and Rainfall Prediction is of great significance.

केजिद्वदन्ती कार्तिक शुक्लान्तमतीत्य गर्भदिवसा: स्यु: |

न च तन्मतं बहुनां गर्गादीनां मतं वक्ष्ये II II

Kejidvadantī Kārtika Śuklāntamatītya Garbhadivasāḥ Syuḥ  I

Na Cha Tanmataṁ Bahunāṁ Gargādināṁ  Mataṁ Vakṣye II5II

Thus, some sages say that the days of pregnancy of clouds begins after the full moon of Kārtika month but the opinion is not shared by the majority. Therefore he further says:

मार्गशिर: सितपक्षप्रतिपत्प्रभृति क्षपाकरेआषाढाम् |

पूर्वा वा समुपगते गर्भाणां लक्षणं ज्ञेयम् ||||

Mārgśiraḥ Sitpakṣapratipatbhṛti Kṣapākareāṣāḍhām I

Pūrvā Vā Samupagate Garbhāṇāṁ Lakṣaṇaṁ Jñeyam II 6 II

The symptoms of pregnancy of clouds are to be detected / observed when Moon transits Purvāśāḍha asterism commencing from the first day of Mārgaśirsya. Varāh Mihir’s prime RCRD Theory is stated in verse 7 :

यन्नक्षत्रमुपगते गर्भश्चंद्रे भावेत्स चन्द्रवशात् |

पन्चनवते दिनशते तत्रैव प्रसवमायाति || ||  

Yannakṣatramupagate Garbhaśchandre Bhāvetsa Chandravaśāt I

Panchanavate Dinśate Tatraiva Prasavmāyāti  II7II

The rain-foetus formed during the Moon stay in a particular asterism (Nakṣatra) will be born 195 days (192 calendar days  + or – one day ) later at the time when the Moon will be again in the same asterism according to the laws of her revolution (Moon Cycle). Thus, the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir in simple words is that rain conception takes place during dry period (Mārgaśir to Chaitra).The rain conception signals can be observed from the first day of Mārgaśir till Chaitra Māsa. The rain-foetus conceived during this period will give rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days (approx. six and half months later) at the time of same asterism when the foetus was conceived. The various rain conception signals to be observed are given in other verses and depending on the rain conception signals observed the rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days  can be predicted . One can prepare a local calendar of rainfall prediction and validate the same with actual rainfall on those days. A farmer can plan his agricultural operations based on this local Agro-climatic calendar.

The relationship of Yajña with Agriculture and Environment :

When one reads the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir along with the gospel truth given in Bhagavadagītā Chapter 3 Śloka 14:

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्यात् अन्नसंभव: |

यज्ञात् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्या: यज्ञ: कर्मसमुद्भव: ||३.१४|| 

Annād bhavanti bhutāni parjanyāt Annasambhavaḥ I

Yajñāt Bhavanti Bhutāni Parjyanyāḥ Yajñaḥ Karmasamudbhavaḥ  II3.14 II

One leads to logical conclusion that Yajñas be performed during the dry period to facilitate rain conception and rain-foetus nourishment during the gestation period. This very concept has been incorporated in our festivals which are based on Yajña/ Havans starting from Durgā Navrātri in Aświn to Rāma Navmī in Chaitra and Akaya-Ttīyā in Vaiśākha. The deities worshipped are Ādi Śakti, Puruśa, Śiva, Agnī and Surya and the offerings are preparations of cereals and pulses of newly harvested crops. Our Ṛśis have interwoven these festivals which are based on ’Suryōpasana’ and ‘Agniupasana’ in our cultural system for celebration / participation by masses.

(to be continued…..)

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

Relevance of Gandhi in Today’s World

AS

Dr. Anju Seth

Looking at the present state of affairs in India, the birthplace of Gandhi, one would probably surmise that Gandhism, whatever the term may mean, cannot have any relevance in this twenty-first century. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual.

Gandhiji Line Drawings (1)

(Source of Image : http://devang-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/sketches-of-mahatma-gandhi.html)

As a matter of fact, India is not following any of Gandhi’s teachings which are mostly confined to text books. In fact, since independence, the country has witnessed many violent communal riots in this multi communal country. Gandhi’s message of ‘swābalambī’, self-sufficiency with home spun ‘khādī’ cloth is not used now-a-days even as a social slogan. Statistics shows that the country is definitely not following ‘sarvodaya’, a broad Gandhian term meaning ‘universal upliftment’ or ‘progress of all’ reaching the masses. On the contrary, India today has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world which has the richest man in the world while at the same time more than 30 per cent of its population lives in dire poverty.

The above shows that today, Gandhism is a very confused ‘ism’ in India. Today many politicians in India use the term merely as a slogan and the common man make Gandhi almost out of reach of the younger groups by making Gandhi an unwilling ‘avatāra’. That may be one reason why the only photo we see of Gandhi in India is always that of an old man which brings the image of a very simple and pious man who was meek and mild like Jesus Christ. While Gandhi was not a simple man to say the least, the above does not gives the right image of Gandhi and does not bring any inspiration to the younger group, the group most relevant for Gandhi.

But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsā in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”

And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets. In contrast to many of our present day leaders of this highly democratic world, Gandhi was a true leader and friend of the people. Disaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist leader who takes great inspiration from Gandhi has this to say about him. “His activism is not mere action but contains many aspects of a spiritual practice that is inspired by the inner urging of the conscience”.

The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far-away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties has great significance when we find that later his teachings were adopted not only by Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, but it was also subsequently revealed that the former South African president De Klerk was greatly influenced by Gandhi’s principles. In fact, from Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu and from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, many world leaders were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, all in their own different ways.

Gandhi left many valuable sayings for the modern man to fight for goodness in society in a non-violent way. “Good” Gandhi said “travels at a snails pace.” “Non-violence” Gandhi said “is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” And then “Mere goodness is not of much use.” Gandhi stated. “Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character.” The modern man can also take great wisdom from what Gandhi said the seven social sins: Politics without principles; Wealth without work; Commerce without morality; Education without character; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice.

It was the unique non-violent movement under his leadership that earned for India freedom from the colonial rule. In spearheading the campaign against the alien rule, Gandhiji adopted the innovative techniques of civil disobedience and social transformation, which had several exemplary features.

The Gandhian technique of mobilizing people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and now Aung Saan Sun Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In India, economic development has been mostly confined to the urban conglomerates. In the process, the rural India that comprises 700 million people has been given short shrift. Gandhiji’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India. He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution. It is surprising, even paradoxical, that these days Gandhian philosophy should find increasing expression through the most modern technology! Now, it is possible to establish small-scale and medium-scale factories in smaller towns and remote corners of the country, thanks to the phenomenal innovations in communication and information technologies. New technologies have brought in widespread and low-cost electronic connectivity that enables instantaneous contact between industrial units and the sellers and consumers of their products. Location and logistics are no more a limitation or constraint for industrial development.

If we say that the twenty-first century is the century of the common man, then we see that Gandhism has even more relevance in this age, and Gandhi will inspire generations of individuals fighting for goodness of the society. If today we find that Gandhism is in severe test in countries like India, it is not because there is certain inherent weakness in Gandhism, but it is because we have not seen in India strong leaders with the required courage and conviction to fight the evils in society. We may borrow Gandhi’s own words on Ahimsā, and say that Gandhism is only for the courageous people.

-Dr. Anju Seth, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Satyawati College (Day), University of Delhi, Delhi, India