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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

Decision Making in bharatiya parampara

In bharatiya parampara decision making occur at four different levels.

Level One. Follow another person or group. Do what s/he does on the assumption that s/he knows better, on the basis of life experience/knowledge level/ merely because it is easier to follow and/or because of being enamoured of the personality- kama.

Level Two. Decision on the basis of anticipated material advantage, artha.

Level Three. Decision on the basis of what is righteous- dharma. Choosing the option that sustain values in society.

Level Four. Decision on the basis of brahma-jnana. Decision taken with intuitive knowledge of brahma.

How the decision is taken reveals the varna of the person or group or the society.

Traditionally in bharatiya parampara decisions affecting society were taken by the kshetriya under the guidance of brahmana guru, criteria for decision being upholding of dharma. Such decisions encouraged dharmic values in society and fostered prosperity and peace.
Decisions on family matters took into account artha– material aspects, in addition, while on personal level, kama– personal preferences, were also considered.

Decision Making in Modern Democracy

In a modern democracy, it is the majority consent that decides matters at societal level.

Majority consent is shaped by public opinion formed on the basis of the following mediums:-

1. News Media– Television, radio, newspapers, magazines.

2. Art – Movies, TV serials, drama, songs, dance, sculpture, paintings, cartoons.

3. Academy– Educational curriculum, text books, classroom discourse, research programmes.

4. Government, including Judiciary- government sponsored schemes, information campaigns, policies, governmental institutions, offices, government servants, law and law enforcement agencies.

5. Political party/NGO activities– demonstrations, mass movements, public awareness programmes, personal interactions.

6. Commercial organisations– MNCs, private companies, advertisement campaigns

7. Religious discourse– Church, Mosque, Sunday Schools, Madrassas, Satsang.

8. Traditions and Culture.

9. Public personalities– Sports stars, movie/tv stars, Sant, Baba, ‘Intellectuals’, political/society leaders, artists, media personalities.

How each of the above mediums perform vis-a-vis the criteria of kama, artha, dharma and moksha, influences the shaping of public opinion and varna of society.

Tamas

News media that follows the lead of western media, Art forms that are shaped under western influence, Academy that looks towards the west for inspiration and direction, Government that is based on western model, Political parties and NGOs that are influenced by western discourse, Companies that function on the lines of western organisational structure and motivations, Religious discourse based on western thought, Traditions and culture of western origin and Public personalities under western influence. These help form a society that is tamasic in character, sudra in varna, that always seek to follow the lead of somebody else.
On occasions where no previous model exists to follow, such a society defers its decisions until passage of time throws up a default decision or presents an emulatable course to follow.

Tamasic Rajas

When the mediums that shape public opinion act with the motive of material gain, society acquires rajasic quality in addition to tamas. Such a society has media dominated by news of material nature, business and financial matters; Art forms exploring technical excellence, deficient in ethics; Academy oriented towards technological advancement, devoid of morals; Government actively involved in infrastructure building, economy, promoting consumerism; Political Parties, NGOs funded and sponsored by business houses. Commercial organisations dominating society; Religious discourse colored by material motivations; Traditions and Culture stressing on material accruement, and Public personalities selling products.

The discourse of such a society will be on material benefit. Decisions revolve around this criteria.

Sattvic Rajas

When the mediums shaping public opinion discourse on values, society acquire sattvic tinge along with rajas. Such a society will have news media discussing ethical ramifications while analysing current events, Art aimed at inspiring altruistic imagination in minds of the public, Academy oriented towards fostering moral living values in society, Government acting decisively to uphold righteousness in society, Law and judicial decisions reflecting dharma, Political parties, NGOs acting motivated by values, Companies producing goods for sustenance of society as well as Nature, Religious discourse directed towards righteous living in harmony with diverse viewpoints, Traditions and Culture promoting moral values in society, and self-effacing public personalities upholding dharmic values.

In short, rama rajya.

Sattva

When the public concentrates on moksha, the mediums that shape public opinion converge towards that goal. In news media, incidental nature of news lose relevance and karmic causes and ramifications are paid attention. Art forms a medium to experience and express realization. Academic pursuit, like all other, orient towards brahma-jnana. History is no more mere chronicling of incidents, instead record the eternal cycle of creations and dissolutions under karmic effect and their dharmic lessons provide inspiration and guidance towards spiritual living. Centralised government lose relevance as people govern themselves dharmically at local and individual levels. Companies shrink in size and number as materials required by society reduce. Religions disappear as people live spiritually. Traditions and Culture inspire realization and Personalities dissolve upon brahma-jnana.

Society Today

Indian society today, by and large, emulates western society and engages in material advancement at all costs to individual, family, society, nation and Nature. Thus it shows predominantly sudra varna that is transforming into vyshya.
Symbolically, India today is headed by people chosen for their sudra characteristic of followership, though trained to be vyshya – products of the british created education system designed to produce technically qualified workers for the empire.

Way Ahead

As rajas rises in society, represented by the transformation to vyshya characteristic from sudra, to check the deleterious effect on human psyche and on Nature, of unbridled rajasic indulgence in materialism, evident in human society today, and for long term sustenance, of individual, society, as well as Nature, tempering and channelization with dharmic considerations are necessary.

Increased deliberations on dharmic aspects at societal level impart kshetriya varna to society and raise sattvic characteristic.

Sustained rise of sattvic characteristic inspire brahma-jnana.

Purpose of life

Is it to see bhArata desH being recognized THE best of the world ?
Is it to see bharatiya samskriti being accepted by everybody in the world ?
Is it to see vasudaiva kutumbakam actualised ?

Two points still remain-

1. Is that a worthwhile aim ? Does that make a life worthwhile ? What is the worth of a life ?

2. What is the underpinning of bharatiya samskriti that makes it refined ? What is underpinning the thought of vasudaiva kutumbakam ? Is it superficial understanding of ‘universal brotherhood’ ?

These two points are most pertinent.

Different Purposes

Some parents want to see their children well settled in life. Some want to marry off their daughters. Some want to see their grandchildren before they die.
Some others want to earn a billion dollars. Some want to see their country gain name and fame, even if in the sports arena.

Some want their name to endure after them.
Some want to do enough to ensure proximity to a ‘God almighty’ in after-life.

Some want to engage in their favorite activity which could be mountain climbing or river rafting or acting in movies or playing a musical instrument or a game of sports.
Some want to finish their current project or research engagement.

Some want to see what they identify with- their community, their culture, their family, their organisation, their country, their philosophy, attain universal acclaim. This is motivated by one of the two reasons- an expectation to attain universality themselves on piggyback or the belief that subsuming of their individuality to larger group interest is a worthwhile aim for life.

Such motivations derive from identification with limited sense of self.

Some others engage in activity of service, material enrichment, societal administration or knowledge dissemination, sublimating limited sense of self.
bharatiya darshanas call such activity manifestation of varna- sudra, vyshya, kshatriya, brahmana, respectively. It is such activity, sublimating self-identity, that underpins vasudaiva kutumbakam. Its primary motivator is the understanding aham brahmasmi (yajur veda), prajñānam brahma (rig veda), ayamātmā brahma (atharva veda), tat tvam asi (sama veda).

Different people. Different inclinations. Different karma.

Which is the best ?

Which is the best of all the purposes that a person can choose ?

That which helps actualise his/her karma. That which is congruent with his/her sva-dharma.
This answers the questions raised by the first point- What is the worth of a life ? Worth of a life is in actualisation of karma.

What is karma – inner motivation, that is exteriorised in varna.

The question posed by the second point- What underpins bharatiya samskriti ?
dharma.

It is dharma that defines bharatiya samskriti. It is from dharma that bharatiya samskriti derives. It is dharma that forms vasudaiva kutumbakam. dharma sustains bharatiya samskriti. As consciousness of dharma rises in society, bharatiya samskriti rejuvenates.

How does consciousness of dharma arise in mind ?
From the understanding of self.

This, understanding of self, derives dharmic life and rejuvenates bharatiya samskriti.

Understanding, comes from selfless enquiry.

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