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Food

Finding food to eat is the responsibility of a person. Nature is abundant in edible, nutritiuos food items. Sometimes it may require efforts to cultivate and process it. A person who reasonably exerts himself can satisfy his/her needs sufficiently.

bharatiya samaj sustained on the activities of people belonging to four varna based on their natural inclination. Inherent talent towards handling, producing and processing materials was termed vyshsya varna, and people who showed inclination towards it were considered vyshya. They produced and provided food and other materials for the entire society. In turn, people inclined to act to uphold righteousness administered society justly, people inclined towards spiritual pursuit spread wisdom they realized during the course of their pursuits and people inclined towards emulating others helped the other three.

The society thus catered to the taste and ability of each individual, providing avenues for individual growth, while simultaneously also provided the supportive environment required for sustenance of the person. Like in a living body where head identifies the source of food, legs takes it to the location, hand brings the food to mouth that delivers it to stomach that digests it and gives energy to the whole body. Each constituent performed the task it was most suited to perform and contributed to balanced sustenance of society.

When this balance is disturbed, for example, if mouth starts eating solely to indulge its sense of taste, if food is taken by hand excessively and ingested, the stomach would be thrown out of gear. If that happens and stomach shuts down, the body parts will be starved of energy. Then each body part will start seeking source of energy individually. Since they do not have the capacity to process food items to produce energy, instant energy sources will be sought out.

In the case of society, when the constituent part that should discern the truth and guide society indulges in selfish aggrandizing acts, misleads society, and ventures to consume voraciously, directing the administering part to indiscriminately appropriate resources, more than necessary and more than what can be processed, the processing power of society is left in disarray. This then leads to search for instant source of energy.

This was what happened in western societies. The aggrandizing behaviour of western empires developed the taste for selfish indulgence among those people who should have been providing correct guidance to society. The society that was disturbed as a result sought sources of instant energy. Instead of taking the trouble to grow food painstakingly over a long period and then processing it, they started eating ready source of energy- meat. They started eating other living beings and justified it, stating that they have a ‘god-given-mandate’ to indulge in such behaviour. Later they extended that ‘mandate’ to justify robbing, enslaving and killing other peoples, labelling them ‘heathen’, ‘pagan’, ‘indian’, ‘kaffir’, ‘negro’, ‘barbarian’, etc.

varnashrama

The case in Bharat was different. Here the people followed varnashrama dharma correctly. The role of head, to give guidance to the body, including identifying of appropriate food sources and tasting food to ensure it is fit to eat, without overindulging in sensual pleasure, was correctly followed.
The brahmana subsisted by begging alms, living frugally, pursuing the purpose of his life for which he was naturally endowed- realization of atman. The kshatriya, under the guidance of brahmana administered society justly, preventing excessive exploitation of resources. The vyshya produced and processed food items and other materials as necessary for society and sudra helped all three in achieveing the goal of sustaining society.

varna of each individual was based on his/her inherent qualities rather than the varna of parent, as evident from the fact that veda, mahabharata and bhagavad gita were compiled by Vyasa, the son of a fisherwoman, Satyavati, and Parashara, whose mother was also sudra. Ratnakara, a jungle robber, abandoned that occupation, sought realization, became Maharshi Valmiki, and compiled Ramayana. varna is also not static, a person who primarily seeks brahma jnana, a brahmana, may occasionally show kama, the primary moivator of sudra varna, like Parashara did in company of Satyavati.

gau

Bharat attained material prosperity based on vyshya activity, producing food and other materials of use. gau, Cow, was the source of milk, which was used to make curd, butter, ghee, etc., which formed integral part of diet. Milk was also used for medicinal purpose. Cow dung came in use for various purposes, including as cooking fuel and building material. Bullocks were used for agriculture. Artifacts found in Saraswati river valley sites, dating back to 5000 years and beyond, indicate prominence of cow in society. Cows were thus integral part of vyshya household, and by extension, that of the society as well, for society sustained on what vyshya produced.

Congruent with the dharmik inspirations that underlie bharatiya samskriti, cows were not treated as ‘animals to exploit’, but were cherished, and as milk givers, were given due respect, as a mother.

Killing such a being and eating was out of question. For three reasons- one, society produced enough food stuff, through occupations suited to the natural inclination of individuals, to meet all its needs. Two, killing cow would cut off source of milk and other necessary items. Three, and most important, killing a being required sufficient cause. Satisfying palate is not sufficient cause in a society that value dharma.

Cows are also peaceful, harmless beings, lovable. purana narrate many instances where cows play important part in society. Episodes of Kamadhenu and Nandini are well known. Sri Krishna is also known as Gopala- one who takes care of cow, which was his occupation during his growing up years.

In the veda, the word gau also means illuminating rays of wisdom, and is revered and sought by brahmana.

In both its meaning therefore gau is respect worthy. Those who consume, instead of nurture, gau, eitherway, are imbeciles wreaking destruction on themselves and society.

Disruption

Bharat thus maintained the necessary balance in society and prospered, repelling attacks from foreign aggrandizers such as Alexander. However, Ashoka, who grabbed power killing siblings, had insatiable appetite for territory and self-aggrandizement. Having usurped large land area killing millions of people, he imposed upon society a socio-political version Buddhism making rock edicts that were self-promoting than spiritually uplifting, glorifying himself as “devanam piya“- “beloved of devas”. He never relinquished the throne like Sri Buddha did, had many wives, and the youngest of them, Tishyaraksha, whom he married in his old age, he later killed.

Buddhism identifies incorrect craving, kama, as cause of suffering and abandoning it as way to enlightenment. kama is the main feature of sudra varna. Buddhism that prescribes eightfold path to develop good kama and reduce bad ones had applicability in the case of sudra, but offered little to the other three, for which main factors were dharma, artha and moksha. This lack, particularly, regarding upholding of dharma, fighting for it if necessary,- the main feature of kshatriya dharma, made application of Buddhism across the board, on all society, inappropriate; in fact, as it turned out, quite harmful, since it disrupted societal balance.

The society, that had a few years back successfully repelled the rampaging Alexander’s army, in the following years saw ingress of Shaka, Huna, Kushana, Turks, Mongols and Pashtuns into those areas where ‘Buddhism’ flourished, such as present day Pakistan and northern parts of India. These people came with their own way of life, different from bharatiya samskriti, and the resultant dilution of dharmik values imbalanced the society further and paved way for islamic invaders and later european colonizers, to establish primacy over the land.

Present

A society where varnashrama dharma is violated, where people who have no inclination to realize atman engage in guiding and influencing society for selfish benefit, people who have no inclination to uphold righteousness engage in administering society for selfish gain, people who have no inclination to handle materials engage in producing materials for selfish profit, and where the rest emulate unworthy people, it becomes like a dysfunctional body, where the mouth seeks to indulge in taste alone, where hands grab more than it requires, where stomach seeks fast digesting food that instantly provide energy without need for much efforts to digest it, and leg seeks to rest indolently.

In such a situation, the head, grown insensitive to other body parts, may start biting at them. The greedy, grabbing hands may injure other body parts. The stomach may start consuming itself and prolonged indolence would incapacitate legs.

Such a being, out of its mind, with limbs out of control, stomach cancerous, and fast approaching self-destruction, is dangerous to other beings.
When that being is powerful- grown powerful on ravenous consumption of others, like western society is at present, the danger to rest of the beings and Nature is so much more.

Regaining Balance

In the purana, whenever asura quality went out of control, necessary correction was made by checking it and balance was restored, taking guidance from the dharmik wisdom transmitted by bharatiya parampara.

Sometimes it may seem that dementia and cancer afflicting a body have reached advanced stage, is pervasive, and that it is near impossible to retrieve the situation. In those times Sri Krishna’s advice is relevant- actualise karma in dharmik way, without attaching to results, unaffected by success or failure.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि संगं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ॥
भगवद् गीता 2.47-48

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There is a demon abroad roaming human consciousness.

The first known victim of this demon was the Adam of Eden. He became a victim when he identified with his personal self and sought to acquire fruits for personal indulgence.

Cut to Indian context, in bhagavad gita Sri Krishna advised Arjuna to actualise karma without seeking fruits of his actions.

In western mythology, their version of Sri Krishna bhagavan, God, is supposed to have similarly advised Adam not to seek to enjoy fruits. While Arjuna of bhArata proceeded to actualise karma without seeking fruits of actions, Adam proceeded to grab the fruit seeking to indulge his personal self, with the result that Adam and all his descendants have been descending ever since, literally as well as metaphorically.

Many indians, taking cue from Sri Krishna’s advise, identified themselves as integral part of the brahmAnDh and actualised karma without seeking to indulge in fruits thereof and realised brahma.

Sri Buddha, deprived of spiritual exposure in his childhood by an insistent father, in adulthood began seeking the root of existence and found it by sublimating his personal self. So did Mahavira and millions of others.

The air of India is permeated with dharma consciousness, the effect of dharmic thoughts of millions of brahma-jnAnis who travelled on this land. This pervading dharmic consciousness prompts people with diverse levels of knoweldge and awareness to seek and attain brahma-jnAna. The momentum built up by such dharma-oriented acts and identification with the brahmAnDh , rather than individual self, inspires people to realise brahma in diverse ways- through intuitive wisdom, through bhakti, through karma, through art, sculpture, dance, music, yoga, even in sex.

Indians traditionally subsumed their personal identity with the rta of the brahmAnDh and ascended spiritually. Their motto, so to speak, was – lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu and concept of vasudaiva kutumbakam.
According to their inclination, some realised brahma through spiritual enquiry and imparted their knowledge to society. Some others attained brahma-jnAna by upholding dharma and administering society conscientiously without indulging themselves. Those talented in handling objects produced food and other materials for the society and realised brahma in their acts of creation. Those inclined towards emulating personalities identified those who served society selflessly and emulated them, helping the brahmanas, kshatriyas and vyshyas in benefiting society, actualised karma and realised brahma in selfless service to society.

The awareness about each being being an integral part of the brahmAnDh pervaded the mindscape of indians and rta was sustained by the people through karmic actualisation.

However, over the years, change started to occur with increasing influence of people from outside, such as the yavanas and others of mleccha lands.

Society is sustained by dharma and the khsatriyas are the upholders of dharma by talent and inclination. So, when the kshatriyas start to slip in upholding dharma, the effects have wide ramifications and society begins to suffer.

One of the early indian kings to have fallen victim to the demon of self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement is Ashoka. His surrender to insatiable appetite for power and glory drove him to kill his siblings, grab power and attack neighbouring kingdoms, killing millions of people. After he had brought under his control most parts of india and neighbouring areas he claimed to have adopted the teachings of Sri Buddha. However, instead of following the footsteps of Sri Buddha, who relinquished his kingdom in search of spiritual quest, Ashoka continued to hold on to his throne until death by old age parted him from it. During his reign he erected self-glorifying edicts in stone all across the land, subordinated the spiritual aspect of Buddha’s teachings and instead fostered pacifist sociological aspects among the people which was beneficial for administration. The tendency to kill did not leave him till the end and he killed one of his younger wifes during his last years.

These self-aggrandizing acts by a raja was detrimental to society. It paved way for waning of dharma in society and increase in interactions with adharmic elements from outside.

Those areas bordering bhArata, such as Afghanistan, Baluchistan on which Ashoka’s diluted version of buddhism was proselytized, later fell easy victims to the rapacity of islamic invaders and helped form a base point for the launch of regular attacks on India throughout over thousand years.

In the western sphere, the descend started by Adam’s succumbing to the demon exerted influence over people through the ages and gathered speed with the rise of imperialistic Rome. The successive aggrandizing drives by roman emperors lead up to a critical stage where the drive to self-aggrandizement took on a transformation. This was ironically catalysed by the spiritual teachings of a person called Jesus.

Jesus spread spirituality among the poor folks who were at the receiving end of roman aggrandization. His ideas continued to flourish even after his death at the hands of romans.

Roman emperor Constantine, seeing the spread of spiritual thoughts among the masses, and the increasing respect for a person killed by the romans, recognized the shift in society taking it towards simple living and spiritual thoughts of Jesus and towards self-sufficiency, thus slipping away from roman control. Taking cue from Ashoka, and going one step ahead, Constantine with help of likewise shrewd brains, cunningly appropriated jesus’ teachings, twisted the spiritual, simple-living values of it, in its stead established a hierarchical church as a middle man between the Jesus’s teachings and the people. Then, colluding with the church continued his imperialistic ambitions. This set the trend for many subsequent years when the church and the king supported each other, mutually bestowing divine powers to rule over people on religious and material matters respectively, as a cover for their self-gratification drives.

This justification of self-aggrandizing behaviour citing divine sanction was taken further by one arab native of Mecca. William Muir, who specialised in the history of that time, describes the life of this person thus- “in the Meccan period of (his) life there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives,“. However, in Medina “temporal power, aggrandisement, and self-gratification mingled rapidly with the grand object of the Prophet’s life, and they were sought and attained by just the same instrumentality“. Sigismund Koelle finds “the key to the first period of his life in Khadija, his first wife,” after whose death he became prey to his “evil passions”.

The power structure established by this person exported arab imperialism over distant lands through bloody campaigns running for centuries. It exerted its influence over millions of people over millennia, subduing their innate intelligence and wisdom, turning some of them into helpless victims- mainly the women, while some others actively indulged in the self-gratifying avenues provided by this system.

The demon had found more opportunities to establish its power over humanity.

The demon thus gathering strength, generated multiple heads, that of protestant, catholic, orthodox christianity and sunni and shia islam. The demons’ reach also extended all over the world through colonization of all continents.

Colonization, the deliberate destruction of indigenous civilizations and massacre of native population was later ironically called civilization!

The victims of the demon’s influence are uniformly characterized by their ignorance of their own incongruencies and inherent contradictary stands. Under the demons’ s influence, they are blinded to righteousness and reason and engage in self-perpetuating self-gratification drive.

After hijacking religion and politico-administrative space, the demon enlarged its reach by grabbing commercial mindscape through dogmas of capitalism and communism. It later reared new heads in socio-political sphere, the more prominent ones being Nazism and Fascism, to continue to expand its influence while maintaining its characteristic drive towards self-aggrandizement. The conflict intrinsic to the inherently aggressive heads caused them to fight each other, some of them severing some others in the process.

What this demon feeds on becomes a part of it. When it fed on indian culture and traditions, those being spiritually oriented pursuits, the demon could not digest much. However, whatever little it digested became a part of it, although, very different from its other heads due to the spiritual nature of indian culture from which it had taken form. This difference makes the new head called Hinduism stand out from the others. This new head is not self-aggrandizing to the extent the others are, it does not seek to enlarge its influence, it is not inherently aggressive. It retains much of its spiritual core that characterised indian culture from which it emerged. As to be expected, anyone who displays different characteristics from what is accepted as common, is looked upon with suspicion and sometimes attacked. Amidst the other rapacious heads of the demon, the new head is naturally singled out for attack. Being easy prey, due to inherent non-aggressive tendencies, it becomes the pastime for other heads to attack it.

This is the story so far. Whether the new head of the demon will be able to withstand the various attacks from different directions, whether it will be able to prevail over the other aggressive heads or whether the new head, in its intent to survive, loses its spiritual roots and emulates the other heads, are open to question.

The demon, acting through afflicted individuals or communities or nations, appropriates and assimilates everything it lays its hands on on its unbridled drive to enlarge itself. When it encounters good nurturing concepts in its victims, that are at contradiction with its inherent nature, it takes that from its vanquished victims and later transforms that concept and uses it as a shield, as a cover for its rapacious heads. Thus peace, love, science, rationality, logic, equality; everything loses their essence and becomes a tool in the demon’s hands. They are then apportioned between the diferent heads to give them a sense of respectability. The demon then uses these covers to fool its victims with sense of respectability. Its further acts of selfishness are later justified using these covers. These tools add to the demon’s repertoire which includes the claims to divine sanction that was used to justify its gratification drives earlier.

Despite the aura of respectability and sense of justice that the demon strives to create, it still remains a demon, driven by its insatiable drive to self-aggrandizement, towards self-gratification at the cost of everything.

What is of essence is that a human being realises itself when it goes beyond the clutches of the demon. It is then that it realises itself to be brahma.

The demon is a creation of man, created when he identifies himself as a limited individual self, and with that identification, seeks to enlarge himself. This contradictory state that that human being finds himself in, creates strain and instability within him, which he seeks to circumvent by identifying himself with a group of like people having a socio-political goal and/or claiming connection to divine power, thus seeking to enlarge his reach.

Vanquishing of the demon is necessary for the sustaining of rta, for the prosperity of living beings, for sustenance of nature, for life of bhumi devi, for dharma.

In the puranas, whenever the weight of demons increased on earth, daeivika quality was generated to destroy the demon and to sustain rta.

It maybe time for Sri Rama to take birth again, in the minds of people. For ramayana to play in their minds, for destruction of the multiheaded demon Ravana who has appropriated their sense of identity, to re-join their sense of identity with righteousness.

Their sense of identity got separated from righteousness when, enamoured with the illusionary nature of perception, they sought to capture the illusion, with the aim of indulging in it. In that state of befuddlement they rejected their protecting sense of loyalty towards righteousness and further succumbing to illusionary perception, lost themselves to aggrandizement and gratification. Once they fell to aggrandizement and gratification, even the effect of age old bhAratiya parampara could not rescue them.

Right now many are like the Sita of ashoka vana, surrounded by materialistic wealth, yet separated from their sense of righteousness, pining for it; while the multiple headed demon cajoles and tempts them with more materialistic wealth for abandoning the seeking of sense of righteousness altogether. Many people have succumbed and lost their identity to this materialistic self-aggrandizing demon.

For those who haven’t done so yet, ramayana provides glimpses to –
– arrange for their sense of righteousness to meet with bhakti and sthirata, allegiance and perseverence of action
– get their sense of righteousness to vanquish impetousness that otherwise would displace sthirata
– get their bhakti to realise its strength and to seek and meet their sense of identity, to assure themselves that righteousness with perseverence will rescue them from the demon’s control.
– build a bridge over vacilitating thoughts that protects the abode of the demon, through actions under the direction of sthirata
– have their sense of righteousness fight the aggrandizing multi-headed demon
– first kill the demon’s brother- the tendency towards indulgence
– next, let loyalty to righteousness kill the demon’s progeny- loud voice, eagerness to show off
– then let righteousness kill the demon himself, targetting its source of life- the insatiable greed for power and control.

Thus ramayana plays out in the minds of people.

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