“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

ज्ञान की महिमा स्वीकार करने का दिन – गुरुपूर्णिमा

– डॉ. शशि तिवारी

गुरुब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु: गुरुर्देवो महेश्वर: |

 गुरु: साक्षात् परब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः ||

’उस गुरु को प्रणाम है जो ब्रह्मा है, जो विष्णु है और जो महेश्वर का रूप है। साक्षात् परमब्रह्म गुरु ही है।’ इसी तरह एक हिंदी दोहे में कहा गया है कि-

गुरु गोविंद दोनों खड़े काके लागू पांव ।

बलिहारी गुरु आपने जिन गोविंद दियो बताए ॥

‘यदि गुरु और गोविन्द दोनो खडे हों तो किसके पैर छुएं ? मैं तो गुरु की बलिहारी जाऊंगा  जिन्होंने गोविन्द के बारे में बताया।’

वास्तव में गुरु ब्रह्म के समान हैं; कुछ माने में उससे भी बड़े हैं क्योंकि ज्ञान का रास्ता गुरु ही बताते हैं। वेद में तो साफ-साफ निर्देश है- मातृदेवो भव, पितृदेवो भव, आचार्यदेवो भव । ’माता, पिता और आचार्य का सम्मान करने वाले बनो’। संस्कृत के एक श्लोक में कहा गया है -’जो ज्ञान की शलाका से अज्ञान के अंधकार को दूर कर आंखों को खोल देता है, ऐसी श्री गुरु को प्रणाम है।’

हिंदू कैलेंडर के अनुसार प्रत्येक मास के अंतिम दिन पूर्णिमा की तिथि होती है इसे ही पूर्णमासी भी कहते हैं। यह पूर्णता की प्रतीक है। देखने की बात है कि लगभग सभी माह की पूर्णिमाएं किसी विशेष नाम से भी जानी जाती है -जैसे चैत्र मास की पूर्णिमा हनुमान जयंती,  वैसाख मास की पूर्णिमा गंगा स्नान, श्रावण मास की पूर्णिमा रक्षाबंधन या श्रावणी, आश्विन मास की पूर्णिमा शरद पूर्णिमा । आषाढ़ मास की पूर्णिमा गुरुपूर्णिमा या व्यासपूर्णिमा के नाम से जानी जाती हैं ।

गुरुपूर्णिमा उन महर्षि व्यास के नाम पर है, जिन्होंने चारों वेदों का व्यास  किया था, पंचम वेद महाभारत की रचना की थी और पुराणों का प्रणयन भी किया था। ये वेदव्यास के नाम से भी जाने जाते हैं। महर्षि व्यास एक श्रेष्ठ गुरु के प्रतिनिधि हैं। विचारणीय है कि कैसे गुरुपूर्णिमा का पवित्र दिन एक बहुत बड़ा दिन हो जाता है-  गुरु की पूजन, वंदन और विश्वास का दिन। माता-पिता के बाद यदि कोई पूजनीय माना गया है तो वह गुरु ही है। वह हमें ज्ञान देता है जिससे हमारा व्यक्तित्व विकसित होता है। भारतीय संस्कृति में ज्ञान की सर्वाधिक महत्ता है, इसीलिए समाज में गुरु का भी विशेष स्थान है। वैसे तो प्रतिदिन गुरुवन्दन करणीय है, पर  इसे समारोहपूर्वक मनाने के लिए एक दिन पर्व के रूप में रखा गया है।

पिता और गुरु अपने पुत्र और शिष्य को सब कुछ दे देना चाहते हैं । उससे पराजय की कामना करते हैं जिससे उनका यश हो। कभी पिता लोभवश कुछ अपने पास बचा कर रख भी ले, परन्तु गुरु कभी भी कुछ भी ज्ञान अपने पास छुपा कर नहीं रखना चाहते, सब कुछ निस्पृह भाव से शिष्य को दे देना चाहते हैं उसके जीवन को विश्वास से परिपूर्ण करना चाहते हैं ।

गुरुपूर्णिमा मना कर हम अपने आदरणीय गुरुजनों को सादर स्मरण करते हैं और इस तरह् जीवन में ज्ञान की उपयोगिता को स्वीकार करते हैं। गुरुपूर्णिमा अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से उदात्त चरित्र, अनुशासित जीवन, और सम्यक ज्ञान की महिमा स्वीकार करने का दिन है – तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः

– डॉशशि तिवारी,अध्यक्षवेव्स –भारत

वैशाखी पर्व पर जलियाँवाला बाग की नृशंसता की शताब्दी (एक पुस्तकीय पुनर्वाचन)

Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal and Dr. Rishiraj Pathak

उत्सव-प्रधान भारत देश में अन्य पर्वों के समान वैशाखी पर्व का भी विशेष महत्त्व है| जैसा कि इसके नाम से स्पष्ट है कि यह पर्व वैशाख मास से सम्बद्ध है| ज्योतिषशास्त्र के अनुसार जिस मास की पूर्णिमा को विशाखा नक्षत्र पड़े, वह मास वैशाख मास कहलाता है| निम्नलिखित वचन इसके प्रमाण हैं –

’कार्त्तिक्यादिषु संयोगे कृत्तिकापि द्वयं द्वयम्| अन्त्योपान्त्यौ पञ्चमश्च त्रिधा मासत्रयं स्मृतम’||

                                                                                  (सूर्यसिद्धान्त, मानाध्याय, १४. १६)

’यस्मिन्मासे पौर्णमासी…तन्नक्षत्राह्वयो मास: पौर्णमासी तथाह्वया’।

(नारद-संहिता ३.८४)

ध्यान देने योग्य है कि मासों के नाम नक्षत्र तथा चन्द्रमा की युति के आधार पर रखे गये हैं और सूर्य के संक्रमण से मास का काल निर्धारित किया जाता है।

सूर्यस्य राशिगतिर्यत्र परिमीयते स सौर:।

सूर्य जितने समय तक एक राशि में रहता है, उसे सौर मास कहते हैं।

                                                        (कालमाधव, द्वितीय प्रकरण, पृ. ४५)

वर्त्तमान प्रचलन में वैशाखी पर्व १३ अथवा १४ अप्रैल को मनाया जाता है| इसका कारण है कि वैशाखी पर्व सौर मान पर आधारित है| जब भगवान् सूर्य मेष राशि में संक्रमण करते हैं तब मेषसंक्रान्ति होती है| सौर मान के अनुसार तभी नव वर्ष होता है| सौर मान सूर्य के अनुसार निर्धारित होता है| प्रति अंग्रेजी मास की १४ तारीख को सूर्य नयी राशि में प्रवेश करते हैं| इस प्रकार १३ अथवा १४ अप्रैल को सूर्य मेष राशि में प्रवेश करते हैं|

उल्लेखनीय है कि वैशाख मास को ’माधव’ नाम से भी जाना जाता है। इसका प्रमाण स्वयं यजुर्वेदीय संहिता ग्रन्थ हैं|

’…मधवे त्वा। उपयामगृहीतोSसि। माधवाय उपयामगृहीतोSसि। तपसे त्वा….’।

(कपिष्ठल-कठ-संहिता ३.५, काठक-संहिता ४.७.२९)

’मधुश्च  माधवश्च वासन्तिकावृतू’।

(कपिष्ठल-कठ-संहिता २६.९, काठक-संहिता १७.१०.२५-२८, मैत्रायणी-संहिता २.८.१२, तैत्तिरीय-संहिता ४.४.११, )

’मधवे स्वाहा माधवाय स्वाहा….’।

(वाजसनेयि-संहिता २२.३१, मैत्रायणी-संहिता ३.१२.१३ )

स्कन्दपुराण में ’माधव मास’ को सर्वोत्कृष्ट मास के रूप में वर्णित करते हुए उसका महत्त्व बताया गया है –

“न माधवसमो मासो….”

(स्कन्दपुराण वै. वै. मा. २.१)

माधव मास जैसा कोई अन्य मास नहीं है।

पुराणों में आए सूतजी और नारदजी के संवाद से वैशाख मास के महात्म्य को ज्ञात किया जा सकता है-  विद्या में वेद विद्या, मंत्रों में प्रणव, वृक्षों में कल्पवृक्ष, गायों में कामधेनु, नागों में शेष, पक्षियों में गरुड़, देवों में विष्णु, वर्णों में ब्राह्मण, प्रिय वस्तुओं में प्राण, मित्रों में भार्या, नदियों में गंगा, तेजस्वियों में सूर्य, शस्त्रों में चक्र, धातुओं में स्वर्ण, वैष्णव में शिव, रत्नों में कौस्तुभमणि के समान है। भगवान् की भक्ति के लिए यह सबसे उत्तम मास है। इसमें आक, पीपल और वट वृक्षों की पूजा करते हैं। अन्न और जल के दान का विशेष महत्त्व है, प्याऊ आदि लगवाने से व्यक्ति अपने कुल का उद्धार करता है। इस मास में खड़ाऊँ, पंखा, छतरी आदि का दान दिया जाता है। वैशाख मास में केवल स्नान मात्र से मनुष्य सब पापों से मुक्त होकर बैकुंठ को जाता है।

पंजाब में वैशाखी पर्व की विशेष महत्ता है| इस दिन १६९९ ई. में सिक्खों के दसवें गुरु श्रीगुरु गोविन्द सिंह जी ने खालसा पन्थ की स्थापना की थी| इस दिन पंजाब में तरन-तारन सरोवर में स्नान का विशेष महत्त्व है| ऐसी मान्यता है कि इस पवित्र सरोवर में स्नान करने से कुष्ठ जैसे असाध्य रोग भी दूर हो जाते हैं|

वैशाखी पर्व के इस पुण्यवर्धक अवसर पर अतीत की कुछ दुर्दान्त नृशंस घटनाओं का स्मरण हो जाना भी स्वाभाविक है| परतन्त्र भारत में १९१९ ई. की वैशाखी भारतीय इतिहास में अति अमानवीय घटना के रूप में प्रसिद्ध है| उल्लेखनीय है कि १३ अप्रैल १९१९ ई. को अमृतसर स्थित जलियाँवाला बाग में वैशाखी पर्व के अवसर पर भारतीय जन समूह अंग्रेजों द्वारा प्रवर्तित रोलेट एक्ट के विरोध प्रदर्शन में एकत्रित हो गया| जब यह बात जनरल डायर को ज्ञात हुई तो उसने अचानक वहाँ आकर अपने सैनिकों के साथ मिलकर निरपराध और निःशस्त्र भारतीयों पर गोलियां चलाईं| वहाँ १५ मिनट में १६५० गोलियाँ चलीं| जलियाँवाला बाग में आने और जाने का एक ही दरवाजा था, वहाँ डायर ने तोपें लगवा दीं और हमारे निःशस्त्र भारतीय मृत्यु यज्ञ की आहुति बनते रहे| अनेक लोग अपनी प्राणरक्षा के लिए कुँए में कूद गए| आज इस कुँए को शहीदी कुँए के नाम से जाना जाता है| मृत्यु के इस क्रूर नृत्य के साक्षी श्री ऊधमसिंह जी भगवान् की कृपा से सुरक्षित बच गए| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने प्रतिज्ञा की कि मैं निरपराध भारतीयों की हत्या का प्रतिशोध लेने के लिए डायर का वध करूंगा| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने अपनी प्रतिज्ञा पूर्ण करने के लिए बहुत संघर्ष किया| उन्होंने धन प्राप्ति के लिए बढ़ई बनकर लकड़ी का काम किया और भगत सिंह जी से प्रेरित होकर बंदूक खरीदने के लिए विदेश चले गए, किन्तु लाइसेंस न होने के कारण उन्हें पाँच वर्ष की जेल हो गयी| जेल से बाहर आकर उन्होंने पुनः तैयारी की और लन्दन चले गए| वहाँ जाकर उन्होंने एक होटल में काम किया और बंदूक खरीदने के लिए धन जुटाकर बंदूक खरीद ली| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी अपनी वीरता और चतुरता का परिचय देते हुए बन्दूक को एक पुस्तक में गोपनीय ढंग से रखकर किंग्स्टन गए| किंग्स्टन में डायर का सम्मान समारोह चल रहा था, जहाँ श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने उसके सम्मान समारोह के उपरांत सबके सामने गोलियाँ चलाकर डायर का वध कर दिया और जलियाँवाला बाग हत्याकांड का उल्लेख करते हुए अपनी प्रतिज्ञा की सार्थकता सिद्ध की| बाद में श्री ऊधमसिंह जी को फांसी की सजा हुई और वे सदा के लिए अमर हो गए|

आधुनिक संस्कृत काव्य परम्परा में इसी घटना को आधार बनाकर डा. ऋषिराज पाठक ने श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् नामक ऐतिहासिक खण्डकाव्य की रचना की है, जिसे हिन्दी, अंग्रेजी, और पंजाबी भाषाओं में अनुवाद के साथ जलियाँवाला बाग घटना के शताब्दी वर्ष पूरे होने के अवसर पर प्रकाशित किया जा रहा है| प्रसादगुणोपेत यह काव्य सरल तथा प्रवाहमयी भाषा में लिखा गया है| इस काव्य में जलियाँवाला बाग की वैशाखी की घटना का जीवन्त वर्णन है| अंग्रेजों के रोलेट एक्ट के विरोध में भारतीयों द्वारा विरोधप्रदर्शन, डायर द्वारा नृशंस हत्याएँ, श्रीऊधमसिंह जी की प्रतिज्ञा, उनका संघर्ष और डायर का वध, काव्य में इन सभी घटनाओं का सजीव वर्णन है| इस काव्य की कुछ पंक्तियाँ इस प्रकार हैं-

डायर द्वारा नृशंस हत्याएँ –

यदाङ्ग्लो डायरो दुष्टो विद्रोहं ज्ञातवानिमम्|

तदादिशद् विघाताय निःशस्त्राणां सभामहे||

डायरादेशतस्तत्र सेनया प्रहृतं ततः|

चक्ररूपभुशुण्डीभिरग्निगोलकवृष्टिभिः||

(श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् २०-२१)

And when General Dyer came to know about the protest,

The sadist foreigner ordered for the massacre of the unarmed people.

On Dyer’s order, the army rained ammunition from the machine guns,

On the crowd, hapless and feeble. (20-21)

जब दुष्ट डायर को इस विद्रोह के विषय में ज्ञात हुआ तो उसने सभा उत्सव में निःशस्त्र भारतीयों के विनाश के लिए आदेश दे दिया| तदनन्तर वहाँ डायर के आदेश से चक्र के समान (घूमती हुई) आग की गोलियों की वृष्टि करने वाली बन्दूकों द्वारा सेना ने निरपराध भारतीयों पर प्रहार किया| (२०-२१)

ਪਤਾ ਲੱਗਾ ਅੰਗ੍ਰੇਜ਼ ਡਾਇਰ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਵਿਦ੍ਰੋਹ ਦਾ

ਦਿੱਤਾ ਹੁਕਮ ਨਿਹੱਥਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਵਿਨਾਸ਼ ਦਾ

ਉਦੋਂ ਚਲਾਈਆਂ ਗੋਲੀਆਂ

ਡਾਇਰ ਦੀ ਸਰਕਾਰ

ਮਾਰਿਆ ਨਿਹੱਥਿਆਂ ਭਾਰਤੀਆਂ

ਨੂੰ ਸੰਗੀਨਾ ਨਾਲ

ਡਾਢੇ ਕਹਿਰਾਂ ਨਾਲ॥20-21॥

(Punjabi Translation by – Dr. Gurdeep Kaur)

श्रीऊधम सिंह जी की प्रतिज्ञा –

नरसंहारसम्भारं दृष्ट्वा भीष्मप्रतिज्ञया|

ऊधमसिंहवीरोऽसौ संकल्पं कृतवान् दृढम्||

डायरं मारयिष्यामि नूनमेष दृढव्रतः|

एतदेवास्ति लक्ष्यं मे चिन्तयामास तद्गतः||

(श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् २८-२९)

After seeing the massacre,

Udham Singh took a brilliant and firm vow,

“I will kill Dyer“, he swore,

And started contemplating about how to achieve it. (28-29)

उन वीर ऊधमसिंह ने नरसंहार के समूह को देखकर भीष्मप्रतिज्ञा पूर्वक ”मैं डायर का वध करूँगा”, यह मेरा दृढ़ व्रत है और यही मेरा लक्ष्य है, यह दृढ़ संकल्प किया और उसी प्रतिज्ञा के विषय में चिन्तन करना प्रारम्भ कर दिया| (२८-२९)

ਦੇਖ ਇਹ ਨਰਸਿੰਘਾਰ

ਊਧਮ ਸਿੰਘ ਨੂੰ ਆਇਆ ਰੌਹ

“ਮੈਂ ਡਾਇਰ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਰਨਾ,

ਇਹ ਮੇਰਾ ਲਕਸ਼ ਇਹੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਸੌਂਹ”॥

ਰੁੱਝਿਆ ਫਿਰ ਉਹ ਸੋਚਾਂ ਦੇ

ਕਿਵੇਂ ਵਿਉਂਤਣੀ ਹੈ ਸੌਂਹ॥28-29॥

आज हम भारत की गौरव पूर्ण परम्परा में वैशाखी पर्व के उल्लास का विस्तार करते हुए तथा अपने निरपराध भारतीय पूर्वजों के प्रति श्रद्धांजलि अर्पित करते हुए वीर श्री ऊधमसिंह जी को सादर स्मरण करते हैं| साथ ही हमारा मानना है कि किसी प्रकार के संबंध बनाने के लिए अथवा लोकप्रियता के लिए आज जिस प्रकार सोशल मीडिया का प्रयोग किया जाता है, उसी प्रकार हो सकता है उस दिन वैशाखी पर्व पर एकत्रित हुए लोगो की सामाजिक सभा का राजनीतिकरण करने के लिए इस्तेमाल किया गया हो। अतः सामाजिक और धार्मिक समारोह का इस्तेमाल राजनीति के लिए करना अत्यंत खतरनाक सिद्ध हो सकता है और कलह का कारण बन सकता है।

[Author’s clarification – The person who opened fire in Jallianwala Bagh was Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer who died in 1927 due to cerebral haemorrhage and arteriosclerosis. It was Sir Michael Francis O’ Dyer who was assassinated by Udham Singh in 1940 in London. O’ Dyer happened to be the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and a supporter of the heinous crime. This tiny nugget of information has been excluded from the poem in order to maintain the tempo and brevity of it. However, it has been mentioned here because it is an important fact of modern day History.]

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

Dr. Rishiraj Pathak, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College, University of Delhi, Delhi

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

Continued from Part-II

-Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Festivals during Māgh, Fālgun, Chaitra and Vaiśkha:

Mahāśivrātrī: This festival is celebrated on the 14th day of Kriśna Pakṣa in Māghmās. This is celebrated with great pomp and glory at twelve Jyotirlinga places i.e. Kedarnāth, Baidyanath, Kashi Vishwanath, Somnath, Mallikarjuna,  Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar, Nageshwar, Ghrishneshwar, Tryambakeshwar, Bhimashankar, and Rameshwar. When the twelve Jyotirlingas come for discussion, I must mention their importance for Suvrushti Projects. “Suvrushti’ means ideal, adequate and well-distributed rainfall. The inspirational Research Paper which has been the basis of Suvrushti Pojects undertaken by Vedāśram; was the paper submitted by a primary teacher from Bihar in 1950 to our then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The summary findings of this research paper was that Twelve Jyotirlingas are the Holy Fire Places (nodal centres of Sacred Fires) which attract and accelerate the Monsoon Cycles in Bhārat Khand i.e. India. If a series of Somayāgas are performed during dry season (Rain Conception Period) at these twelve Jyotirlinga places, Bhārat Varsha will get Suvrushti-timely, adequate and well-distributed rainfall during wet season throughout the country. This theory and RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir were validated during the Suvrushti Projects undertaken by Vedāśram in 2005-06 and 2015-16. The reports of these Suvrushti Projects have been published in Asian Agri-History Journal published by Asian Agri –History Foundation.

On the day of Mahāśivrātrī in the ceremonial pūjās, Devas are invited, Śiva is invited, Yajñā is performed. Offerings are made with chants and devotional songs. Rudra Swahakars are performed at most of the places. At our Homa farm we also organize” Rudra SwahakarYajñās” periodically but not necessarily on Mahāśivrātrī Day.

“Rudra Swahakar”Yajñā being performed at the Farm

Holī: On the full moon day of Fālgun, Holī is celebrated throughout India. Holī has religious, philosophical, spiritual and seasonal significance. In India, the Agri-eco production system has basically two cropping patterns in a year i.e. Kharip crops and Rabbi crops. Kharip crops mature during Aświn-Kārtik (Oct. /Nov.) and Rabbi crops mature during Fālgun to Vaiśkha (Jan. to April). It is our Vedic tradition that new produce of crops is first offered to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā which are the main sources of cosmic energy and then we start having it as food to nurture the life bio-energy within us.  In Sanskrit the word ‘Holak’ means raw (just reaching maturity stage) cereals and grams roasted in bonfires of dry cow-dung patties, wood and grass stalks (remains from the fields). Holī as a colourful festival has significance in many ways. The first and foremost is the process of Yajñā. Holy Bonfires are lit and offerings of sweets and snacks prepared from new season’s crops are made to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā. Incense sticks and lamps are lit and sacred fires, which represent success of good over evil, are circumambulated thrice with slow pouring of water from the containers. The next day is celebrated as “Dhulīvandana” where, ’Bhūmi’ or ‘Prithvī’ is recognized and appreciated. From Dhulīvandana to Rang Panchami it is celebrated as a colourful festival representing colours of spring flowers and nature’s beauty and bounty. It is a joyful festival of throwing on or smearing others with colours without any discrimination. In the bonfires, old furniture, dead wood, prunnings of trees and waste material of crops are burnt as and by way of “Holikā Dahan” for “Space Clearance” (discarding old and welcoming new).

From Puraṇas, one story which is associated with “Holikā Dahan” is the story of Bhakta Pralhād and ‘Dhundha’ or ‘Holikā’ Hiranyakashyapu’s sister. Holikā had a boon that she will not get burnt in fire i.e. she had protection from fire. Hiranyakashyapu, the Rakṣasa was against the worship of Lord Vishnu by his own son Pralhād. Since Bhakt Pralhād was not ready to give up worship of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyapu ordered that Pralhād be burnt alive. For that purpose he made Holikā to take Pralhād in her lap and lit a big fire. But with the grace of Lord Vishnu Pralhād was saved and Holikā got burnt into the fire, thus representing the success of virtue over vice.

Jyotir bhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, the founder and author of, “Kālnirṇaya Panchāng” (published in many Indian Languages) describes in his book, “Dharmbodh” a ‘Vrita’ or ’Anuṣṭān’ (practice) called “ Vanhi Vrita” which is related to Agnihotra / Yajñā. Vanhi Vrita is started on the 14th day of Fālgun Kriśna Pakṣa or one day prior to Fālgun Amāvasyā. On this day an idol of Agni made from any metal or five metals is worshipped and offered cow-ghee, til (sesame seeds) and sugar with mantra, “Agnaye Swaha!”. Agni is worshipped because Agni is the connecting link between man and Devatās like Indra, Varun, Ādi Śakti, Lord śiva and Vishnu. During Holī all elements i.e. Prithvī, Āp, Teja, Vāyu are worshipped and readiness is made for celebration of the fifth element,’ Ākāś’ on the following first day of Chaitra i.e.’ Gudi Padava’ by hoisting well decorated/adorned Gudis or flags pointing towards Ākāś’or Space, which is the mother of all other elements, for auguring well the  “ New Year” as per Hindu Calendar.

Rāmnavamī Navrātra: This is celebrated as birth-day of Lord Rāma. In some parts of the country Yajñās like, “Vishnu Yāga” are performed.

Akśaya-Tritīya/Paraśurām Jayantī: Akśaya-Tritīya is supposed to be an auspicious day as per Hindu calendar. On this day also some Yajñās/ Homas are performed. Lord Paraśurām had initiated Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj of Akkalkot Maharashtra, to rejuvenate the Vedic Yajñā system and also the Vedic Way of Life. Followers of Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj perform Havans on this day while celebrating Paraśurām Jayantī.

Vedic Yajñā System and Festivals based on the concept of Yajñā:

Our Vedic Yajñā System broadly consists of Yajñā  performances during “Sandhi Kāl” or “Sankraman Kāl” as Nityakarmas for restoration of atmospheric order, ecological and seasonal balance and ensuring Suvrushti  i.e. good, adequate and well–distributed rains –“ निकामे निकामे न पर्जन्यो वर्षतु-“ “Nikame Nikame Nah ParjanyoVarśatu!”. Apart from these Yajñās there are various Naimittik or Kāmya Yajñās which are prescribed in Vedic system including Homas and Havans which form part of Sixteen Hindu Sanskāras. The Yajñā System for ecological balance, good rains etc. consists mainly of the following :

  1. Agnihotra (Smārta/ Shrouta)— ‘ Nitya’ Daily at the time of sunrise and sunset as per circadian cycle.
  2. Darshya-Poorna Māsya (Smārta/ Shrouta Eshti )— ‘Nitya’ Fortnightly  on Full-Moon/ New Moon Day as per Moon Cycle.
  3. Chaturmāsya Yāga (Shrouta Eshti )—‘Nitya’ during Sandhi Kāl i.e Transition Period of change in Seasons as per Cycle of Seasons. This is also called as Medicinal Homa for healing the Atmosphere.
  4. Somayāgas– ‘Nitya’ during Sharad Ṛtu and during Vasant Ṛtu.” वसंते वसंते ज्योतिस्तोमेन यजत” –“ Vasante Vasante Jyotistomen Yajat!”.
  5. Parjanya Yāga—‘Naimittik’- During Rainy Season when one or two Nakṣatras have gone dry and Bhūmi is “Vrishti Kāmu”, i.e, when the land is desirous of rains for sowing new crops (new life).

( Nitya = Regular ,  Naimittik = Occasional for specific purpose)

From the above it will be clear that Agnihotra can be performed individually by anybody, however for performance of Shrouta Yajñās, particularly so in case of “Sapt Somayāgas”, you require Ritwijas well versed in all Vedas. Our great Rishis had anticipated that if Shrouta Yajñā System gets dwindled or out of practice for whatever reason at least the festivals based on Yajñā Concept will be celebrated by mass-participation; for the purpose of keeping Atmospheric Order and Ecological Balance and also to safeguard cultural traditions. Since Yajñās are related to environmental protection, purification/ restoration of atmospheric order, ecological balance and ensuring good rains during Monsoon Season it is important to understand the relevance of Verse 28 and Verse 30 of Chapter 21 of Brihat Samhitā:

भद्रपदाद्वयविश्र्वाम्बुदेवपैतामहेष्वथर्क्षेषु |

सर्वेष्वृतुषु विवृध्दो गर्भो बहुतोयदो भवति ||२८||

“Bhadrapadādvaya Viśvāmbudeva Paitā Maheṣvathkṣerṣu \

Sarveṣvṛtuṣu Vivṛddho Garbho Bahutoya Do Bhavati  \\28\\

The Rain-foetus that develops when the Moon stands in any of the five asterisms viz. Purvabhādra, Uttarabhādra, Purvaṣadha, Uttaraṣadha and Rohiṇī in any season will yield plenty of rain. Also

मृगमासादिश्वष्टौ षट् षौडश विंशतिश्र्चतुर्युक्ता |

विंशतिरथ दिवसत्रयमेकतमर्क्षेण पन्चभ्य: ||३०||

Mṛgamāsādiśvaṣto  Ṣat Ṣodaś Vimśatischaturyuktā |

Vimśatiratha Divasatraya Mekatamarkṣeṇa Panchabhyaḥ ||30||

Rain-foetuses coming into being when the Moon is in conjuction wih any of the aforesaid asterisms during the month of Margaśirṣa, Pauṣya, Māgh, Fālguna, Chaitra and Vaiśakha; will yield rain after 195 days for 8,6,16,24,20 and 3 days respectively.

Thus celebration of and participation in the festivals based on Yajñā concept by masses ensures restoration of Atmospheric Order, Eco-Seasonal balance and good rains during the rainy season. This is the great wisdom and sagacity of our Ṛṣis and Seers in interweaving seamlessly the festivals based on Yajñā concept in our social and cultural life. Therefore these festivals should be celebrated with proper understanding of the Yajñā concept incorporated into them and not simply by way of fun and frolic or introducing any pervert way of celebration. The sanctity of Yajñā, Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā has to be kept in mind in the joyful celebrations of these festivals.

References:

  • Panditabhushan Sastri VS & Bhat MRV, “Varāh Mihir’s Brihat Sanhita” With an English Translation  and Notes . V.B. Soobbiah & Sons Bangalore City.1946.
  • Jyotirbhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, “Dharmbodh” (in Marathi) Jaya Ganesh Mandir  Nyas, Medha Malwan, Dist-Sidhudurga Maharashtra 2011.

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

श्री परशुराम आधारित अवतारवाद-विश्लेषण

-डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्र

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

(Editor’s note)

अवतारवाद का औचित्य

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

अवतार की अवधारणा

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

दश अवतार

वराहपुराण के अनुसार दश अवतार क्रमशः इस प्रकार हैं –

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

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

cleanh3sha2uf_ael_2_300

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

अवतारों के प्रकार

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

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

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

अवतार का प्रयोजन?

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

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

(गीता 4.7)

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

अवतार का प्रयोजन आगे स्पष्ट करते हैं –

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

(गीता 4.8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 उपसंहार

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

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

श्री परशुराम का जीवन-चरित्र

डॉ. श्यामदेवमिश्रbhagwan parshuram

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

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

भगवान् परशुराम के अवतरण का कारण –

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

भगवान् परशुराम का अवतरण –

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

क्षत्रियरुधिरमये जगदपगतपापं स्नपयसि पयसि शमितभवतापम्।

केशव धृतभृगुपतिरूपम्। जय जगदीश हरे।। (गीतगोविन्द)

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

पितृ-मातृभक्त परशुराम –

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

कार्त्तवीर्य का वध एवं दुष्ट राजाओं का संहार –

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

धर्म की स्थापना हेतु परशुराम का चतुर्दिक विजय अभियान –

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

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

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

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

Festival of Holi

-Mrs. Sushma SharmaIMG-20170305-WA0014-1

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

guj

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

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

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

holik

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

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

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

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

 

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.’

dhruv-vishnu_1480423840

(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.

prahlad-as-the-devotee-of-lord-vishnu

(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 TiwariGeneral Secretary, WAVES –India & Former Prof. of Sanskrit, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi

Characteristics of Ancient Indian Educational System

– Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA.

It is sad to see the status of the current educational system. Whether it is student-teacher relationship, related to fee, control of the state or central government, mental/ethical development of students, imparting social responsibilities or providing pure knowledge…..everywhere you will find flaws and need some serious introspection. These are the few reasons why we have fewer enrollments in higher studies (out of ~ 140 million High school students in India only 1.8 million students opt for postgraduate or MPhil or PhD). Other issues are: having less trained workforce and unemployment rates among higher educated personnel (among literates unemployment rate is higher among better qualified, unemployment rate is 7.23% among illiterate and 10.98% among literate (2011 census)). Although the primary objective of modern educational system is to satisfy modern societal needs, but it is not able to address this adequately. So I thought to look into what kind of education system was available in ancient times, and how that system operated.

The ancient education system can be best described by the following verse from Vishṇu Puraṇa.

तत्कर्मयन्नबन्धायसाविद्यायाविमुक्तये। आयासायापरंकर्मविद्यऽन्याशिल्पनैपुणम्॥

Tatkarmyannabandhāyasāvidyāyāvimuktaye।  Āyāsāyāparṁ karmavidya’nyāśilpanaipuṇm।।

 (Vishṇu Puraṇa 1-19-41)

That is action, which does not promote attachment; that is knowledge which liberates. All action is a mere effort/hardship; all other knowledge is merely another skill/craftsmanship.

The above quotation is the best portraiture of the Indian educational system in the past, and the Vedas form the basis of such a system. The word ‘Vidya’ is derived from the root vid, to know, which the same root as Veda is. Since the entire educational system is based on the Veda, Vidya garnered by Veda enables a person to know the truth regarding the universe and the individual relationship with the universe. The Rishis understood that student should have self motivation to succeed, and teaching should suit the natural inclination of a student. It’s the duty of a Guru to test the student and impart knowledge in the subject of his/her liking. That’s why in ancient times a teacher/guru provided only suggestions/advice to his students, and students needed to put their hearts and minds behind that to assimilate the knowledge.

This educational system teaches consciousness, self-control and purity of thought and action. A person who is not selfish and well-educated leads a pure life, conquers avarice by generosity or hatred by love. Such a person does not bother about caste, creed or color. All these distinctions come when education leads to the patch of commercial contracts, but when it inculcates purity, selflessness and self-realization, then it makes individual to realize the ideals of uplifting. It is clear that this system is based on the idea of attaining perfection without degrading self or humanity as a whole. This system is based on three fold system of Vidya; a) Parā-Vidyā, b) Aparā-Vidyā, and c) Kāla. Parā-Vidyā helps one to attain pure-consciousness, Aparā-Vidyā teaches the law of nature and the cause of other phenomenon, and Kāla deals with kauśala (applied science) (Ramdasi PhD thesis).

guru_shishya

Vedic education starts with an intimate relationship between teacher and the student. The relationship between the teacher and his students starts with a religious ceremony called Upanayana. By Upanayana ritual teacher impregnates his student with his spirit, and start students new birth. After this student is known as Dvija (born afresh; Agarwal, 2011). In this education system, student finds his teacher, live with him as family member, and treated by teacher as his son in every way. The school was in natural surroundings, Hermitage, away from urban distractions, and function in solitude and silence. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore: “A most wonderful thing was notice in India is that here the forest, not the town, is the foundation head of all its civilization. Wherever in India its earliest and most wonderful manifestations are notices, we find the men have not come into such close contact as to be rolled or fused into a compact mass. There, tree and plants, river and lakes, had ample opportunity to live in close relationship with men. In these forests, though there was human society, there was enough of open space, of aloofness; there was no jostling. Still it render it all the brighter. It is the forest that nurtured the two great ancient ages of India, the Vedic and the Buddhist. As did the Vedic Rishis, Buddha also showered his teaching in the many woods of India. The current civilization that flowed from its forests inundated the whole India.

Every education system is always associated with the social life of the time. In ancient time, the society was divided into four categories or Varṇās; the Brahmaṇa, the Kṣatriya, the Vaiśya and the Śudras. Education was given in the beginning mainly to the first three Varṇā of the society.  Initially, everything was taught to all the three classes. During the Vedic ages, persons of the same family group followed different occupations according to their individual taste. As time passed on and Varṇās were required to do some imparted duties (mainly in post-Vedic era or Upaniśad era), subjects got divided according to Varṇās. Birth not occupation then came to be regarded as the basis of the caste system. The Brahmaṇas learnt the Vedic texts, the Kṣatriya learnt the Veda, science of warfare and Arthsastra, and Vaiśya were taught commerce, agriculture, etc. Śudras were not entitled to formal education, they are apprenticed under the skilled individual in their trade and craft. In fact, for a time being they were also allowed for formal education. In the Baudhāyana Grihya Sutra, ŚudraRathakār was allowed to have the Upanayana Sanskar (Bakshi et al., 2005). Budhayana says: “Let him initiate a Brahmaṇa in Spring, a Kṣatriya in Summer, A Vaiśya in Autumn, a Rathakār in the rainy season or all of them in Spring”.

वसन्तेब्राह्मणामुपनयीतग्रीष्मे राजन्यं शरदि वैश्यं वर्षासुरथकारमिति।  सर्वानेववा वसन्ते।

Vasante brāhmaṇāmupanayῑtagrῑṣme rājanyaṁ śaradi vaiśyaṁ varṣāsurathakāramiti। sarvānevavā vasante।।

(Baudhyana Grihya Sutra 2-5-6)

Notably, ŚudraRathakār is defined in this book as an offspring of a Vaiśya male and Śudra female.

In addition to this four Varṇās, there are four Āśramas which an individual is expected to experience in his/her lifetime; the Brahmacharya, the Grhastha, the Vanaprastha, and  the Sanyasa. These Varṇās and stages of life give us an idea of the aims and ideals of the ancient Indian education system.

Education was free and it was the teacher’s responsibility to take care of the primary needs of the students. Debate, discussion and seminar are essential parts of learning involving listening, contemplation, comprehension, self study and recall (Ramkumar, 2014). Rote learning was the technique used for elementary education. At the secondary level Vedic studies and writing was introduced, and higher education consisted of advanced study of the metaphysical subjects. Several schools were operated those days such as Pariśad, Tola, Forest colleges, Court schools, Temple colleges, Mathas, Ghatikas, and Agraharas (https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/ancient-indian-education-system-from-the-beginning-to-10th-c-a-d/). Teachers had designation according to their methods of teaching: Acharya (teach Vedas without charging fees), Upadhyaya (taught a portion of Veda or Vedangas as his profession), Charakas (wondering teachers), Guru (imparting education to his disciples), Yaujanasatika (teachers with their profound scholarship), and Sikshaka (teaching arts like dancing) (https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/ancient-indian-education-system-from-the-beginning-to-10th-c-a-d/).Various schools specializing in subjects like philosophy, law, the sacrificial ritual, astronomy, grammar and logic appear to come into existence since 500 B. C. Under the Brahamic auspices, universities like Takhsila were established. University curriculum included physical sciences, arts, literature, philosophy, logic, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology. In the course of time distinction between Arts and Science were drawn and practical pursuits were included in the arts. In later Vedic era, they evolved and expanded the curricula in all the fields of knowledge. With the expansion of education system, enrollment increases, which necessitated in development of various branches of specialization. This also amalgamated various school systems to create universities like Takshila and Nalanda (Sakunthalamma, 1994). These universities had various departments with specialties. In those days the departments were –

  1. Agnisthana: This was the place where fire worship and other prayers took place. Probably here the performance of religious rites and rituals were taught.
  2. Brahmasthana: This was the department of the Veda.
  3. Vishnusthana: In this department Rajnti, Arthanti and Vārtā were taught.
  4. Mahendrasthana: This was the department where military sciences were taught.
  5. Vaivasvatasthana: This department is for Astronomy.
  6. Somasthana: Department of Botany.
  7. Garudasthana: This was the department which dealt with the transport and conveyance.
  8. Kartikeyasthana: In this department the science of organization of military, patrolling and battalions, and the army was taught.

The examination was an oral one. The student was required to give oral answers in a congregation of scholars. If he satisfied them, he was given a degree or title, somewhat similar to the PhD dissertation defense today. The consensus of the scholar’s opinion was essential for obtaining such a title.

There are evidences that girls were admitted in the Vedic schools or Charanas (Agarwal, 2011). A Kathi is a female student of Katha school. There were hostels for female students and they were known as Chhatrisala. Though the state did not include education as one of the subjects under its administration, the head of the state and other wealthy merchants, etc., encouraged these activities with their endowments. After the student completed his course (in general, 12 years of learning), the school organized Samavartna Sanskar, which is similar to convocation today. Taittirῑya Upaniśad’s verse 1.11.1 describes address of Guru to his students, in which he exhorts to speak truth, practice social ethics and not to neglect the pursuit of knowledge. They were also advised not to forget the debt to the Gods and ancestors. According to Taittrῑya Upaniśad’s verse 1.11.2, students were specially asked to see God in their mother, father, teacher and guest. Students were also advised to give gifts to their teachers sincerely and according to their means. Finally the teacher ended his address with the words that what all he said was the import of the Vedas, the divine scripture, which was to be meditated upon.

References:

Sankuthalamma V. (1994). The trends of education in ancient India. PhD thesis, Shri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Agarwal, V. (2011). Principles of Education. Chapter 1. Lakshay Publication, India.

Ramkumar, A. M. (2014). “Gurukul to University”: Ancient education system and the present day. Golden Research Thoughts, 3, 1-5.

Ramdasi, N.R. Visualising Indian heritage digital library metaphor. Research paper of PhD thesis. C- Dac, Pune.

Bakshi S.R., Gajrani S., and Singh, Hari (2005). Early Aryans to Swaraj. Volume-3, 25 – 26.

 

The Idea of God (Part-I)

– Dr. Koenraad Elst

koenraadMarxDr. Elst, born in 1959 in Leuven, Belgium, studied Sinology, Indology and Philosophy and did his Ph.D. on the ideological development of Hindu Revivalism. He worked as a political journalist and as a foreign-policy assistent in the Belgian Senate, but mainly as a independent writer. He became fairly well-known in India with his argumentation in favour of the Ayodhya temple, now vindicated, and with his work on the Aryan homeland question, still controversial.

All known civilizations have a thing called “god”, plural or singular. They are a category of beings deemed endowed with far more power and a vastly larger longevity than us human beings. For the rest, their characters and functions may vary.

In writing, the idea of “a god” is first attested in the Sumerian ideogram Dingir, which has the physical form of a radiant star. It certainly has the meaning “god”, for it is used as the common determinative for a whole class of names signifying gods. That, indeed, was anciently how a divine being was conceived: as a radiant heaven-dweller. In Babylon and in Harran, each planet was worshipped in a temple of its own.

The pre-Islamic religion was also largely star worship (next to ancestor worship and the worship of special stones like the Black Stone in Mecca’s Ka’ba). Thus, the three Meccan goddesses of Satanic Verses fame, al-Lāt, al-Uzza and al-Manāt, are roughly the Sun, Venus and the Moon. The Ka’ba was dedicated to the moon-god Hubal, and housed a stone fallen from heaven.

Stars were explicitly recognized as gods by prominent philosophers like Socrates and Plato. Some dissident freethinkers however, like the philosopher Anaxagoras and the playwright Aristophanes, thought stars were only burning rocks. After Christianization, when all divinity was invested in an extra-cosmic Supreme Being, the planets were desacralized and reduced to cogwheels in a cosmic machinery set in motion by the Creator and operated by his angels. Though numerically, a large part of humanity now espouses this desacralizing view, it is rather exceptional in the history of religions. The association of gods with stars was pretty universal.

Other properties of a god

Because a star is radiant and stands in heaven, near-permanently visible to all, it is a part of our collective consciousness, our shared frame of reference. This, then, is the operative meaning of “a god” in human life: the personification of an important collective factor difficult to negotiate, and which you have to take into account in the things you plan to do. Thus, Dyaus = heaven, Agni = fire, Indra (“the rainer”) = storm; Vayu = wind, Pṛthivī (“the broad one”) = earth. This principle is then generalized, and gods can be personifications of any category of beings. Thus, Śiva is the personification of the renunciants, unkempt and living in the mountains.

A god is powerful in that he can impact your life. But he is not all-powerful, because he has to share his power with other gods. Rarely if ever is he seen as “the Creator” who stood outside the universe and fashioned it from nothing. Rather, he himself is a part of the universe. Creation is normally seen as only a transformation from formless matter to the present world of form, and in that process, gods may play their part. In that limited sense, the Vedas and Puranas have plenty of “creation” stories. Yet they also assume that the universe as a whole has always been there, though it cyclically becomes unmanifest, only to reappear again. It is an exclusively Biblical-Quranic belief, further propagated by thinkers who elaborate the Biblical or Quranic assumptions, that a single Supreme Being, in a single moment never to be repeated, created the whole universe from nothing.

Gods are imagined to be endowed with personalities befitting the element of which they are the personification. As such, they are also sensitive to gifts and flattery, and may thus be influenced into exercising their power in a partisan, friendly way. That is why people who would never think of appeasing the stormy sea, do devise rituals to appease the sea god, hoping that he will guarantee smooth sailing.

Finally, a star or god is also, as far as a mortal can tell, eternal: it existed before we were born and goes on existing after we have died. As suggested by the extreme longevity of the physical stars, gods are proverbially deemed immortal. Hence the binary: us mortal earthlings versus the immortal heaven-dwellers.

star1

Deva

The same meaning of “star”, “radiant heaven-dweller”, is present in Vedic Sanskrit Deva, “the shining one”, hence “a god”. It is also etymologically present in cognate words like Latin Deus, “a god”. One of the Sanskrit terms for “astrologer”, at least since its mention in a 4th-century dictionary, is Daiva-jña, “knower of the gods”, or in practice, “knower of destiny”. Another is Daiva-lekhaka, “gods-writer”, “destiny-writer”, i.e. horoscope-maker. Obviously, the stars here were seen as gods regulating man’s destiny.

A parallel development, but omitting (or only implying) the original link with the stars, is found in Slavic Bog, “the share-giver”, “the apportioner”, “the destiny-decider”, related to Sanskrit Bhaga, and hence to the derivative Bhagavān. Other god-names are more derived from the practice of worshipping, such as the Germanic counterpart God, “the worshipped one”, Sanskrit Huta; or the Greek counterpart Theos, “god”, related to Latin festus, “festive”; feriae, “holiday”, i.e, “religious feast”; and to Sanskrit dhiṣā, “daring, enthusiastic”, dhiṣaṇā, “goddess”, dhiṣṇya, “devout”. But even here, a stellar connection reappears, for the latter word is also a name of Śukra / ”Venus”.

More examples of the personification of heavenly phenomena as gods are found throughout the Vedas. The deities Mitra and Varuṇa represent the day sky (hence the sun, here remarkably called “the friend”) c.q. the night sky, with its stable sphere of the fixed stars, with its regular cycles representative of the world order. The Nāsatyas or Aśvins (“horse-riders”) are thought to represent the two morning- and evening stars, Mercury and Venus, who “ride” the sun, often likened to a horse. Uśa (related elsewhere to Eōs, Aurora, Ostara, and hence to “east” and “Easter”) represents the sunrise.

The Vedic gods were personifications of natural forces, with whom you could do business: do ut des, “I give to you” through sacrifice, “so that you give to me” the desire-fulfilment I want. That type of relation between man and god is pretty universal. That was the ancient worldwide conception of gods. But in auspicious circumstances, religion was to graduate from this stage, and the gods would go beyond the stars.

Transcending the stars

Hindus often react to the above-mentioned view as insufficiently respectful to Hinduism. They insist that it is a Western “Orientalist” fabrication to see the gods as mere personifications of natural forces. In foreign countries, perhaps, but not in India. They think it treats religion as essentially childish, for in children’s talk, or in that by mothers towards children, there is a lot of personification. Yet, we insist that in the Vedic stage of civilization, this conception of gods still prevailed; perhaps already as a rhetorical device built on top of an earlier more primitive stage, but still sufficiently present to leave numerous traces. It shows a deficient sense of history to project the newest insights of Hinduism back onto its past, and to deny the amount of change that has taken place in the conceptual history of Hinduism.

But then two things happened. The first is that from the Upanishads onwards, in a distinctively Indian development, the notion of Self-Realization or Liberation arose. The way to this goal, the Sādhana or what is nowadays called “the spiritual path”, is not about the fulfilment of desires; instead, the point is to decrease your desires, to renounce, to abandon. This was initially conceived as a process in which no god or other being played any role (whether they were deemed to exist or not), making way for a focus on the Self (ātman), equal to the Absolute of pure consciousness (brahman). This Absolute was conceived as being above the pairs of opposites, as devoid of characteristics (nirguṇa). Gods were relegated to the background, to the world of desire-fulfilment through rituals. Self-Realization implied renunciation from desire-fulfilment, and hence a distance from the gods and their favours.

The second development is that the gods persisted or were revived, but in a transformed role. Stellar references are explicit in the case of Sūrya, the sun, and of Soma Candra, the moon; but less so in the case of Viṣṇu, “the all-pervader” (like the sun’s rays), though he has a solar quality; and Śiva (“the auspicious one”, an apotropaeic flattery of the terrible Vedic god Rudra, “the screamer”), the Candradhāra or “moon-bearer”, the Somanātha or “lord of the moon”, has a lunar, nightly quality. The classical Hindu gods Viṣṇu and Śiva represent a revolution vis-à-vis the Vedic worldview. You don’t bring sacrifices “for Liberation” to the Vedic gods, a notion presupposing renunciation from those desires. By contrast, the later “Puranic” gods of classical Hinduism take some distance from the naturalist meaning in which they originate, and do integrate Liberation. Very soon, devotional-theistic movements adapted this new notion to their cult of Viṣṇu, Śiva or Śakti (or elsewhere, Amitābha Buddha or Avalokiteśvara), gods with a distinct personality (saguṇa) but more spiritual. In Kashmiri Shaivism, Śiva gets abstracted as pure consciousness, Śakti as pure energy. With these gods, you could “unite” so as to terminate your susceptibility to worldly suffering, to delusion, to the karmic cycle. They would grant you Liberation, just like the Vedic gods would grant you wish-fulfilment.

But that doesn’t mean Hindus have given up on wish-fulfilment. They still perform rituals to help them get what they want, and often this involves explicitly stellar gods, but conceived as lower gods or “demi-gods”. Astrologers instruct their clients to say prayers before the planet that disturbs their horoscope. The client will get advice on what ritual to practise, when and how and for which god, to ward off the negative influences of the stellar configurations indicated in his horoscope. This will remove the obstacles to his well-being and the fulfilment of his desires. The navagraha or “nine planets” (sun, moon, their two eclipse nodes, and the five visible planets) as a whole are a normal object of worship.

To be continued….