Monthly Archives: February 2012

Authority and influence

Mbh’s influence

Though common people has reverence for Vedas, when it comes to the practical life, except for the Vedic mantras, which are still used for important samskars (particularly among the Twice born), yet its influence is not much.  But when it comes to Epics (Ramayana and Mbh.) they play an important role in various ways.  Hardly a Hindu home is left in India in which some kind of knowledge about the teachings and stories of the Epics is not found.  Rarely one can find the name of Vedic gods and characters to Hindus, but the names of many characters of the Epics are used by Hindus of all kinds of walk.

As the access to Veda is denied for every one, yet the stories of Epics were a household event from time in memorial.  And in this modern time of Printed and Electronic media, the influence of the Epics are so great that we need to go in length about it.  However one interesting point regarding Mbh. is that, though its story was recited for public in katha form in the past, in general we won’t find a copy of the epics in Hindu homes, particularly Mbh.  As far as my knowledge goes, generally reading of Mbh. is also not encouraged at home, considering its tragic theme and cruelty of war.  But the reason given for this by Doniger is bit strange and gives an uncomfortable feeling, particularly the two words that she uses: ‘holocaust and genocide’:

…the Mahabharata, when converted from its oral to its written form, has potentially inauspicious magic (particularly since it tells of a great holocaust and genocide).  For that reason, to this day many people fear to keep complete written texts of it inside their houses.— Wendy Doniger, The Hindus An Alternative History,New Delhi, Penguin/Viking. 2009, Notes. P. 220

I am a great fan of her writing and much benefited by her books. And giving all respect to her as a scholar yet I cannot understand how the war between cousins over their property (kingdom or right to rule) could be termed as ‘holocaust and genocide’?  Though I may not know the technical meaning of these two words, from a common understating, for me holocaust and genocide took place to eradicate one group of people based on their ethnic, religious or racial identity.  For example the way Jews were killed by the Nazis in the past and the current civil war in Lybia and Yemen and also to some extent in Afghanistan can come under the preview of holocaust and genocide.  But in Mbh. the two cousins never tried to get rid of the other for such reasons.  Whatever might be the reason for her to use such words, yet as an Indian I find it difficult to accept such reading on the war on Mbh.

Mbh.’s authority:

Though Veda is considered as the authoritative for all Hindu schools of thoughts, yet we all know that is more a claim than a fact.  In common life of Hindus, mostly first it is the particularly family tradition and then that of community, sect and region held more authoritative than any particular scripture.  However unlike the Veda, the way Smritis had influence and authority is more remarkable and even pan-Indian.  Like Puranas, Mbh. also claimed its own authority on several areas and it is also claimed as the Fifth Veda.  Though orthodox tradition never accepted this view1, yet it was said in the context of struggling to maintain their position and authority in the field of rituals.  Mbh. itself claims this authority and even insists that it not only equal to Veda2 but even more authority than that of Veda:

…In time gone by, the celestials met together and placed the four Vedas on one side and this Bharata on the other side of a scale, and then Bharata weighed heavier. (1.268-69).—Dutt. Ch. 1.268-69. ADI PARVA p.10

Like any other scriptures, Mbh. also bestows blessing on those who hear, recite and make gift of it:

Here occurs a sloka.  ‘This [Maha] Bharat is equal to the Vedas.  It is holy and good.  It gives wealth, fame and life.  Therefore, it should be heard by men with great attention.’ [Vaishampayana to Janamejaya]  (95:89)—ibid. ADI PARVA p.141

And in Swargarohanika ParvaCh.VI. There is a long list of fruits for the recitation and listening of each Parana of Mbh.  One fruit is enough to show what the other entire fruits one can get:

34. … At the eighth Parana he acquires the fruits of the Rajasuya sacrifice… 36. He is served by most beautiful women whose faces are more charming than the moon.  He hears the music of the garlands that encircle their waists and the Nupuras encircling their ankles. 37. Sleeping with his head resting on the laps of women of great beauty he awakes greatly refreshed…. [Vaishampayana to Janamejaya].3 — ibid. SWARGAROHANIKA PARVA. VOL. 7. Ch. VI. P. 558

And going along with the common practice of Hindus giving reverence to the very book itself, which is worshipped as god, Mbh. says that:

75-76. Having finished all the Parvas, one versed in the scriptures, dressing himself in white wearing garlands, decked with ornaments, and properly purified, should place a copy of the Mahabharata on an auspicious spot and cover it with a piece of silken cloth and adore it, according to due rites, with scents and garlands, offering each at a time. 77. Indeed, O king, the several volumes of this work should be adored by one with devotion and apt mind.  Offerings should be made to them of various kinds of food and garlands and drinks and various auspicious articles of enjoyment. [Vaishampayana to Janamejaya]. — ibid. SWARGAROHANIKA PARVA. VOL. 7. Ch. VI. P. 559.

Though such reverence is given to Mbh., as already noted, we cannot find a copy of it in most of the homes of Hindus and also won’t be read at home.  This shows how the ‘change and continuity’4 of orthodoxy and tradition is claimed and maintained at the same time remain flexible in common practice of life.  It is interesting to note that as Gonda points out this claim as the fifth Veda is accepted by Veda itself:

…ChaandU. 7,1,2 where the itihaasa-puraanam i.e. “the legendary traditions and ancient lore” are given the name of the fifth Veda: … atharvanam caturtham, itihaasapuraanam pancamam….—— Change and Continuity in Indian Religion, J. Gonda, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, (1965) 1985, p.10

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam.August 22, 2011.

Notes

1. …In the case of the Mahabharata, it simply classed itself as the “fifth Veda.”  For Mimasakas, this was nonsense.  The Mahabharata was not a Veda because it was manifestly human in origin and concerned itself with human events—all very interesting, no doubt, but inadmissible as evidence for the definitive understanding of ritual acts.  The point, of course, is that Vedic evidence is apauruseya—nonhuman—and so wonderfully free of human fallibilities.— Michael Willis, The Archaeology of Hindu Ritual:Temples and the establishment of the Gods,Cambridge, 2009. p. 211 (For Mimamsakas objection to the authority of Mbh, refer Wills p. 210 ff.  All is in the context of growing influence and importance ofTemples and rituals related with it.)

2. 52. This history is sacred, and of deep significance, and considered as equal to the Vedas. [Sauti to Shaunaka].— ibid. SWARGAROHANIKA PARVA. VOL. 7.Ch.V. p. 556

3. In order to avoid the misunderstanding that I am only quoting this verse to undermine Mbh. here I am giving other benefits given in this chapter:

30-31. At the fourthParanahe acquires the fruits of the Vajapeya sacrifice.  At the fifth, he acquires twice those fruits.  Ascending a celestial car which resembles the rising sun or a blazing fire, and with the deities for his companions, he goes to the celestial region and sports happily for myriads of years in the abode of Indra.—p. 558

41-43. Reaching the tenth Parana and pleasing Brahmanas, he acquires a car which tinkles with innumerable bells, which is decked with flags and banners, which is equipt wit a seat made of precious gems, which has many arches made of lapis lazuli which has a net work of gold all round, which has turrents made of corals. Which is adorned with Gandharvas and Apsaras expert in singing, and which is fit for the residence of the Righteous.—p. 558

4. …Thus the ‘orthodox’ religions of later times claim to be the continuation of the Veda or even represent themselves to be the Vedic past unchanged or purified and adapted to the needs of ensuing generations.  The ‘redactor’ of the Veda is considered to have compiled also the post-Vedic, early ‘Hinduist’, Mahabharata, that Encyclopaedia of Hinduism which is styled the fifth Veda beside the four ancient corpora. [caturo vedaan sarvaan aakhyaanapancamaan, mss. Of the Mbh. 3,55,8 cr. ed.] “The man who recites this Mahabharata should be regarded as skilled in the Vedas” [1,56,26, cr. ed.]….. — Change and Continuity in Indian Religion, J. Gonda, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, (1965) 1985, p.10

Text, Theme and Interpretation

Contradictions:

As I already mentioned, Mbh defies any kind of literary criticism, the question of pointing any (or all) kind of contradiction in its teaching not only with the book but even with a chapter or within a verse is meaningless.  Mbh, representing Indian thought of pluralistic inclusivism, it never prescribes a kind of ‘either/or’ response to any issue.  Its answers is always ‘both and also’.

Considering its size and also the time of its writings, anyone want to share any kind of thought would insert, not even minding the context in which they simply insert their thought.  For example, in Shanti parva in Ch. CCLXXV, while Bhishma was answering Yudhishthira’s enquiry about liberation, suddenly Ch. CCLXXV changes the topic to creation in a dialogue between Narada and Asita.  This is one example and we can find many such interpolations without any continuity in several Parvas.1

However, even this contradiction is also based on our modern understanding of textual criticism.  Though we can safely say such interpolation leading to contradiction in the subject that is discussed in a particular context (chapter), yet what Doniger says is a telling rebuke even such (western or modern) understanding of Mbh.:

…European approaches to the Mahabharata often assumed that the collators did not know what they were doing, and, blindly cutting and pasting, accidentally created a monstrosity. But the Mahabharata is not the head of a Brahmin philosophy accidentally struck onto a body of non-Brahmin folklore…. But the powerful intertextuality of Hinduism ensured that anyone who added anything to the Mahabharata was well aware of the whole textual tradition behind it and fitted his or her own insight, or story, or long philosophical disquisition, thoughtfully into the ongoing conversation. However diverse its sources, for several thousand years the tradition has regarded it as a conversation among people who know one another’s views and argue with silent partners. It is a contested text, a brilliantly orchestrated hybrid narrative with no single party line on any subject. The text has an integrity that the culture supports (in part by attributing it to a single author, Vyasa, who is also a major player in the story) and that it is our duty to acknowledge. The contradictions at its heart are not the mistakes of a sloppy editor but enduring cultural dilemmas that no author could ever have resolved.— Wendy Doniger, The Hindus An Alternative History,New Delhi, Penguin/Viking. 2009, p. 264

Commentary:

Every scripture has commentary.  Similarly there should be several or few commentaries on Mbh. also.  But I never come across mention of any commentary so far, except one mentioned by Nilakanta Sastri the Lakshabharana of Vadiraja.

…On the Mahabharata, the Lakshaabharana of Vaadiraja, written some time during the sixteenth century, is the best known of the extant commentaries from South India; the author has sought in his own way to determine the authentic text of the 100,000 verses of the great epic….— K. A. Nilakanta Sastri. A History of South India, From Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar. With a new introduction by R. Champakalakshmi. Oxford India Paperbacks (1955), 26th impression, 2007. p. 311

Central message of Mbh.

Whenever we hear Mbh., the immediate picture that comes to our mind is the Great War and all the violence related with it—not only the death of millions of soldier in the War but violence in all its forms.  The way Pandavas were deprived of their (birth) right to have their share in the rule, the way they were cheated in the dice game, all the hardship they underwent during their exile and various plots by their cousin against them, finally the failure of negotiated settlement and the unavoidable war.  But those who read the entire epic will find a fine trace in favor of ‘ahimsa’ and ‘dharma’ in all the discourses and stories in Mbh.

Those who will identify with the characters of Mbh;, particularly those who are the victims, one will find reason in their arguments for revenge.  However, what finally prevails is the wisdom of elders and well wishers of the victims rather the mere emotions of the victims.  It is important to note that before giving their final counsel to resolve the tension and problems, the well wishers will allow the victims to pour out their heart by fiery speech, even accusing their well wishers.  However it is not only the wisdom of the well wishers but also the obedience of the victims, once their emotion is let out that brings the best possible solution in that given situation.

For example Draubati’s questions to her husbands and then the elders of the assembly when she was dragged to be humiliated.  Then at the end of the exile, Dharma’s hesitation to go for war and rest of his siblings and wife’s anger against him; the same way Dharma’s hesitation to become the King after the war and his preference to renounce and go to the forest etc.  Merely reading a summary of these incidents and the arguments won’t help one to catch the whole feelings and emotions of the victims and the wisdom of the well wishers.  One should read them completely both to enjoy but also to understand the conflicts and wisdom of the characters.

At the same time we should be careful when we read any book on Mbh. and their particular view on any incident and teaching in the Mbh.  Because taking one incident in a given context and super impose our view will mislead us to catch the over all teaching of Mbh.—which is very difficult to arrive.  For example, take the view of J. L. Mehta, a leading Indian philosopher:

…Far from merely recounting the story of an “internecine conflict between two groups of blood-relative,” the Mahabharata for Mehta reports the Pandava’s agonizing struggle against, and final victory over, a rebellious kshattra force, demonstrating in the end that kshattra divorced from brahma is “ruinous” while in the service of brahma it may guide to peace. This lesson in underscored in the final encounter of the Pandavas with Ashvatthama, whenKrishna orders the former to put away their arms, an order only Bhima disobeyed:

Then Krishna and Arjuna step down from their chariot, throw away their arms, walk into the fiery circle of that ultimate weapon [of Ashvatthama] and forcibly make Bhima obey and stop fighting.  Then the weapon became quiescent and inactive.  In the very midst of the discourse of violence, what more eloquent testimony could there be to the power of nonresistance, or nonviolent resistance, which is the quintessence of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence.24—“that nonviolence (ahimsa) and compassion (anrisamsya) are the highest duties of man, states of being without which we fail to be completely human.”– Fred Dallmayr, Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-Cultural Encounter.New Delhi, Rawat Publications. 2001.  pp. 110-111

24. “The Discourse of Violence in the Mahabharata” (1987), in J. L. Mehta, Philosophy and Religion: Essays in Interpretation (New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research and M. Manoharlal Publishers, 1990) 255-56, 259-60, 270.

The first question that come to my mind is by not resisting Ashvatthama’s weapon the Pnadavans and Krishna didn’t do it as a ‘service’ of brahmin.  Ashvatthama, being a Brahmin, already violated his dharma as a Brahmin by taking weapon and that too joining the adharmis (Kauravas).  So it is not with an aim to serve the brahmins but to survive from the approaching calamity that made Krishna to act like that.  Above all, Krishna never took any arm and there never came any need for him to bow before the weapon of Ashvatthama.

But whatKrishnadid in favor Pandavas is against his vow not to take part in the war and remain neutral.  If we read only Mehta, then we will appreciate the timely advice and act ofKrishna’s ‘nonresistance’.  But considering the overall picture, what Krishna has done here and throughout the war (both in negotiating the settlement and during the war and after that), one can find the violation of his own words and thereby doing adharma.  About this Periyazhvar says in Divyaprabandam:

கள்ளப் படைத்துணையாகிப் பாரதம் கைசெய்யக் கண்டாருளர்.

Kallap padaitthunaiyaakp baaratham kaiseyyak kandaarular (334)—Nalayira Divya Prabandam, Original with commentary by Dr. R. V. Kamalakkannan, Chennai, Vardaman publishers, 2010-2011. p.527

Gave support in a wrong/crafty way [Krishna] helped to win the [Bharata] war.

About this Dr. R.V. Kamalakkanna, who wrote commentary says:

In Bharata war, Kannan never remain neutral to both sides about which all knew.  He done even injustice by turning the day in to light (for Arjuna to kill Jarasandha?), took weapon contradictory to his promise not to take weapon and in the fight between Bhima and Dhuryodana, pointed the spot to kill Dhuryodana to Bhima in violation to the dharma of combat.—p. 528,

That is why Balarama,Krishna’s brother under whom Duryodana learnt the art of using Kada, become ferocious the way Bhima killed Duryodhana. ButKrishnaagain interferes and says to his brother:

16. Our relationship with the Pandavas is based on birth, bold and love. (16) On their advancement depends our own.  Do not, therefore, give way to anger….Morality is always followed by the good.  ‘Morality is always followed by two motives, viz., the desire for profit cherished and pleasure, always succeeds in obtaining great happiness. (17-18. But, ‘Hearing this fallacious argument from Keshava, …[Bala]Rama failed to remove his anger and become cheerful. He then said in that assembly, ‘having unfairly killed the righteous king Suyodhana [Duryodhana], the son of Pandu [Bhima] shall be known in the world as a wily warrior. (23-24.). The righteous Duryodhana, on the other hand, shall acquire eternal blessedness!  Dhritarashtra’s royal son who has been struck down, is a fair warrior! (25) —Dutt, Vol. V,Shalya Parva,Ch.LX. P. 114

This is one incident to show the way Krishnatook sides with Pandava in spite of his promise to remain neutral.  So there is no point of comparing Krishna’s act with that of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence.  He never followed the non-violence to escape from any personal injury or attack but not harm to his opponents.  For example, when he landed in Durban on January 13, 1897 from the ship Courland, was ‘assaulted by section of Durban mob, but escaped serious harm through the intervention of Mrs. Alexander, the Police Superintendent’s wife’ but ‘Gandhiji declined to have his assailants prosecuted and gave (p.373) written expression to his wish that the matter be overlooked.’ (Chronology, in The Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. II, The Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1959, pp. 373-74 (also see his Autobiography pp. 192-4) .  This in no way can be compared by the act ofKrishna and Arujna to save them from Ashvatthama bend to kill them.  Of course Gandhi could have done it based on his personal conviction of nonresistance to any kind of personal violence.  At the same time he never hesitates to protect against any violence against innocent in his own way of nonviolence.  He also could have done not to irritate and further alienate that section of White people inSouth Africa who were opposing the immigration of Indian workers and business people toSouth Africa.  But all his latter life proved his strong conviction in ahmisa and nonresistance not to save his skin but to serve others.

Of course Mehta has every right to read any of his philosophy as a philosopher but Dallmayr needs to be bit critical in presenting Mehta’s view.  I am sharing this not as a criticize Mehta or Dallmayr.  But in this way both in the past and at present several kinds of interpretation is given on any theme in Mbh.  So it is difficult for us to exclusively say that this is the central theme of Mbh.  And even on any one subject of Mbh. there are several interpretations, based on their own need and understanding that is relevant to their time and place.

It is not only Mehta but so many scholars both in the past and at present write books on the theme on Mbh.  For example the recent books by Sri Chaturvedi Badrinath, The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the human condition, New Delhi, Orient Longman, 2007.

Women of the Mahabharata. The Question of Truth, under publication by Orient Longman.

And by Prof. Arvind Sharma, Essays on the Mahabharata, Mothilal Banarsidas.

Out of these I read and The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the human condition and enjoyed his book.  I like his way of writing and presenting the facts before us.  However, his essays on Mbh. should be considered his personal interpretation of Mbh.’s theme and we cannot take them as the teaching of Mbh.  When I read this book, I also recorded my question on his way of interpreting Mbh.  Of course he is a scholar and read Mbh. in Sanskrit and spent more than 30 years with Mbh.  Whereas I read only the translation of Dutt and that too in few years not so deeply.  So my question about his interpretations is of a student struggle to understand the subject and not any critic of a scholar.  Here I don’t have the space for the share my questions and thought on Badrinathji’s interpretation on Mbh.  But my point is that when we read any book or essay on Mbh. (including that of mine here), we should remember the fact that any kinds of interpretation can never represent as the view of Mbh. itself.

May 30, 2011

Notes

 

1.. One example is suffice to show this.  Though Narada talks about the four ashramas and talks about their merits, however what we find in this chapter is a long list of ethical and moral teaching is given:

9. Seeing the followers of the four modes of life, who are thus exhorted by the scriptures and who fully approve of what the scriptures have sanctioned for them, thus traveling in various courses, and beholding that ourselves also are equally content with our own scriptures, we cannot understand what is truly wholesome. 10. If the scriptures were all of one opinion, then what is truly beneficial would have become clear.  On account, however, of the scriptures being multifarious, that which is truly beneficial is filled with mystery. [Galava to Narada]…. 13. See, the merits of those modes of life, as described, are varied in their form, divergent in their matter, and contradictory in their observances. 14. When seen with gross vision, all the Ashramas do not exhibit their true intent!  Others, however, having subtle sight, see their highest end. [Narada to Galava].–Dutt, Shanti Parva, Vol. 6, Ch. CCLXXXVIII. P. 444

Modernity and Reality

I am writing this without viewing the entire program in Vijay T.V. ‘Neeya Naana’ by Gopinath on modernity (12-02-2011).  I watched at the end alone, as the same kind of rhetorical view about modernity related with appearance (dress), outlook, thought, approach etc. were discussed.  I have to agree with Gopinath that we should not confuse between ‘trend’ and ‘modernity’. However when he pointed out few example of Sang am poet Poonkundranar whose famous lines ‘Yadum OOre yaavarum Kelir” (all are my place and everyone is my relative) and also Periyar about his modern thought and teaching, I bit thought ‘what actually modern is’.

Well, not viewing the entire program, I have no right to comment on the discussion also the view shared by special gusts and the participants.  However, as this topic on modernity is discussed I have few questions to know more about this topic:

Yes modernity is not trend.  But what is the modern thought that Periyar or any one could share which is not practiced by people in a giving society from time in memorial?

For example, when we quote Periya as a recent modern thinker in Tamil society, can one accept all his view about women’s liberation?  Or can we take all those ‘modern’ thought that we found in Sangam or any other (Tamil) literature as the representative of ‘modernism’ of their time, where some of them went ahead in their thought and expressing it?

Scripture and Literature, though reflect some reality of a society, yet what all they say cannot be accepted as the exact reflection of their time.  Because every scripture and literature always project some kind of idealism, which look ‘modern’ in that particular time.  The same is true about the thought of the so called ‘modern’ thinkers who went ahead or credited went ahead of their time like Periyar.  No idealism either by scripture/literatures of ‘reformers’ is totally accepted or reflected the real life of the people nor anyone could implement them completely.

Take example of woman’s right.  What is new in this which we don’t find in ancient scripture/literature or writers of modern times?  Similarly love marriage, arranged marriage, relationship outside marriage, before marriage, etc. etc. are not at all new.  Like a cycle of seasons they are repeating or existing side by side with ‘normal’ life of people.

What is ‘normal’ could be another question.  Is arranged marriage is the norm and love marriage is modern in Indian society?  When we have record of eight@ kinds of marriages from ancient time in India, which marriage is normal and which one is modern?  May be, an arranged marriage could be ‘modern’ in western world but in Indian societies, except modern technics, all other forms of life and thought existed in one form or the other.

So, though it is important for us to discuss and debated on topic like ‘modernism’ etc., like Scripture and Literature, such discussion in TV with experts, scholars, etc. is another form of (audio-visual)  Literature where more ‘idealism’ is expressed than reflecting the reality of life.  Of course such idealism is essential but their objective values need to be remembered all the time.

Db. February 13, 2012

@.8. According to the ordinance, there are eight kinds of marriages, namely, Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura. 9 Gandharva, Rakhasha, and Paishacha.  The son of the self-created (Brahma), Manu, has spoken which of these forms (of marriages) is appropriate to each of the four castes. 10 …the first four forms are appropriate to the Brahmanas, and the fist six for Kshatryas.  11. To the kings, even the Rakhasha form is permissible.  The Asura form is permissible to the Vaisyas and Sudras.  Of the first five (forms), three are proper and two improper. 12. The Paishacha and Asura forms should never be adopted (by any man).  These are the ordinances of the scriptures, and man should act according to them. (12)— [Dushmanta to Sakuntala]— M.N.[Manmatha Nath]  Dutt, Mahabharata,Delhi, Parimala Publications, 7 vols.Vol. I.1988,Ch. 73. ADI PARVA p.105

27. The marriage according to the Gandharva form, without Mantras, and between a willing woman and a willing man, is said to be the best to a Kshatrya. [ Kabwa to Sakuntala]—ibid. Ch. 73. ADI PARVA p.106

It is not to be supposed that when ancient sages held that raksasa and paisaca were forms of marriage, they legalized marriage by capture or stealth.  What they meant was that these were the means of securing wives and that there are not really eight kinds of vivahas, but rather there are eight ways in which wives may be secured…—P. V. Kane, History of Dharmasastra, Poona, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute,  Vol. II. Part. I. Ch. Forms of Marriage. p. 520.

Relationship versus Principle

Recently I received a forwarded message about ‘Spectrum’ Andimuthu Raja’s GRAND Bungalow with the message ‘Think before you vote’.  Initially though I too was overwhelmed by seeing that picture, yet considering the entire modern technological tool, I took that message with a pinch of salt.  Because the picture didn’t give information about the location of that Bungalow.  Those who are genuine about fighting against corruption should also do it in a proper way with giving all kinds of authentic details.  As the location of that Bungalow was not disclosed, then I doubted about the genuineness of that picture, though I too support such campaign against corruption.

Because Raja was (technically) ‘legal’ in doing his corruption where as this picture is (technologically) ‘illegal’ in its campaign.  Raja was ‘logical’ in his argument about his actions/policy; this campaign is ‘illogical’ in its message.  In the same way Manmohan (who says, ‘Telecom policy sound, implementation faulty’—The Hindu, Feb. 25, 2011, Bangalore edition, p. 1) Singh is an ‘adharmi’ keeping a blind eyes in the name of upholding ‘coalition dharma’, Raja was dharmic in the policy which was approved by the PRIMINISTER’S cabinet.  So if we blame Raja then his Prime ‘Mantri’ (minister) should equally bear the responsibility.

In all ideology there are two aspects: relationship and principle.  While upholding the one, care should be taken that one is not upheld at the cost of the other.  For example, Mahabharata says that a King should collect his tax like bee collecting the honey.  The logic here is that while the bee collects the honey it not does not do any harm but it helps the flower to become fruit.  While the principle of ‘collection’ is upheld yet the ‘relationship’ of not hurting is also maintained.  While the king manages to collect revenue to run his government, yet he allows his people also to flourish so that they can remain a continuous source for his income.  Only in ‘apatdharma’ (dharma of emergency) he is allowed to take by force extra tax that too for the common welfare for all.

In the same way when we launch any campaign against any evil, we too should maintain the dharma of ‘principle and relationship’.  As a principle (against corruption) Raja should be exposed and punished for his crime, yet spoiling one’s name in a wrong way should be restricted as it goes against the value of relationship.  While purging the evil in a system we should see that the person is not damaged as a human being.  Like the bee collecting the honey, the snake must be killed but the stick should not be broken (this is only a saying and I am against killing any snake). While fighting against any crime we should not become criminals.

And the Muktivedic principle is: Sin must be punished but sinner must be saved’.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, February, 28. 2011.

 

Work Ethics

I often wonder why we Indians, particularly skilled labor never have work ethics.  When we are ready to pay what they demand for their labor, they least bother to deliver according to the money we pay to them.  This can be also excused.  But the worst scenario in it is that they do the work in such way that we end up doing it again—some time using the same person.  All the reasons that they give are not only illogical but always remain unethical which irritates me at the most.

To extend the hose for the bore well, I consulted the person.  He came and asked me to buy extra hose and air pipe.  Then I showed him around 400 feet of both of them which I bought previously.  But he said that he needs something different size and he noted it in a paper.  Then the manager of Gurukulam Sri Santanam went to Hosur and bought exactly what he asked for.  Then the labor called him and asked him to buy extra 100 feet plastic robe also to attach with the foot valve.  When the material arrived, I was bit shocked.  Because Santanam bought exactly the same hose and air pipe which already I showed the worker which he rejected.  So when he came to work I pointed out but he has no words but took it lightly and began even blame Santanam by saying why he didn’t note it when he bought?  But I told him that he bought what he wrote in the paper.  The same happened with all other things which he asked Santanam to buy from Hosur.  None of them were useful and finally he went to his own shop at Thalli and brought all other fittings that need for the work.  The total loss is around 3,500.  Finally when he completed the work, I saw the plastic robe not used.  So when I asked him why he didn’t use it, he said that the people who installed the hose previously didn’t use it properly and some other reason rather accepting his mistake.  We paid him exactly what he asked for his labor (800/-) plus bill for the extra fittings which he brought from his shop.  But the water didn’t come and he began to give some other reasons for it. (Finally I noted the mistake as there was some air leakage and he came another day to fix it and charged again for that, whereas it was his mistake as he didn’t join the pipe properly).

He is not the first person I am encountering.  The same thing happened with several other labors and even contractors.  When we were constructing the dhyanamandapa, the contractor made the window exactly opposite what we asked for.  When he came I took a paper and even draw the design.  But when the windows were delivered along with other materials I didn’t noticed it.  So the labors fixed them and continued the work.  As I asked the carpenter to measure the windows to buy glass, he also done it and we ordered for the glass.  But when I finally noticed the mistake, the architect again asked to change as we planned.  (The contractor gave the order to a sub-contractor, who again gave it to some other person and we end up not only paying commission to all the three, but incurred heavy loss) This end up in buying glasses for different size and all the previous glasses which we bought become waste. Add to this problem, when the carpenter measured the size and asked another person to note it, for many windows he told ‘16’ inches but the person who wrote heard it as ‘14’ (In Tamil there is just slight difference between 16 and 14 as ‘padinaru’ and ‘padinalu’).  So finally when he was fixing the glass he asked us to buy them again.  When I confronted the carpenter for his mistake, he said, ‘that was not my fault.  I told only 16 but he wrote as 14’.  So again he ordered new glasses with 16 inches.  But this time the shop owner when cutting has done the mistake (again the same 16 vs. 14).  Thankfully, the carpenter knowing that I won’t anymore accept his excuses, somehow convinced the shop owner and get the glass changed (he threatened that if he won’t change, he won’t buy any more things from his shop.  Every skilled labor get 2% discount for any bulk purchase from the shop from which they purchase regularly).  Of course the shop owner is not giving it from his pocket but ultimately we alone are paying that too.)  Later in order to use the waste glass, I have to make another almera buying more materials and paying extra labor to the same carpenter.

In the same way Plummer did the mistake while fixing the pipe and wasted lots of time and material.  I told him to fix the pipe in certain way and specifically ‘not’ to fix in opposite way.  And when I went to do some other work and came later, he has done what I asked him not to do.  In order to correct his mistakes, again he wasted time and lots of material.  In the same way, when we were constructing the veranda, while fixing the wood frames for the tails, I insisted to first apply anti-termite oil and then fix.  But the carpenter (he was another person) said the big log will slip from hand when they will lift.  So they will apply the oil later.  But I told he cannot do it properly and termite will damage.  But he said he has done the work since last 40 years and he knows better than me.  Finally after a week, as I feared, heavy termite damaged the logs, as he cannot apply the oil where it was touching the wall very closely.  Then he noticed it and silently began to apply the anti-termite oil first and leaving the log just for a day to dry, then lifted them up to fix.  When I asked him why he cannot do the same before and gave excuses, he has no words.  After one year, again I have to replace some part of the log, as termite damaged them again.

The same happened while painting.  I told him to cover the glasses and other areas with paper or cloth and then do the paining.  But not listening me, finally end up spoiling the glasses and walls, for which I had to spend extra material and money to clean them all.  I told him to remove the mosquito mesh first and then paint.  But not doing it, he completely spoiled the mesh.  When I become upset, he tried to clean with oil and done more damage.  Finally I have to change the entire mesh for one window.  In the same way the first contractor, after putting red color to the floor, did the white washing, without covering the floor.  Finally the whole floor in the main building and other rooms get spoiled.  All our efforts to clean the white spots on the floor didn’t work and the damage still remains as a witness for his mistake.  When I confronted him for this he blamed the labors who didn’t follow his instruction to cover the floor before doing the white washing.  Then he recommends us to do the painting for the floor, which according him won’t last for long.

One final example will help us to understand how sometime our ignorance and lack of technical knowledge is also used by the skilled labors to exploit us.  One time the mixy which I was using stop working.  When one electrician came (engaged by the contractor) to do some work, I asked him to check it.  After checking it, he said that he can take it to his shop and get it repaired.  So I gave.  After two days, he returned with the mixy and charged Rs. 200/- (two hundred).  Four years before (in 2007) it was big money for such a minor work.  When I questioned about it, he began to explain so many complications in the mixy which took lot of his time to fix.  But his assistant was smiling.  Then I asked why he is smiling.  For this the electrician said, ‘he smiles for everything I say.  Never mind about it’.  So I gave him what he asked.   After two weeks again I faced similar problem.  But this time, fortunately his assistant came for some other work.   And when I asked him why this again happened, he simply turned the mixy and showed a red button there and said, ‘When there is over load, the mixy will automatically stop.  You have to push the button again and it will work.  Last time also this was the problem.  That electrician has done no repair.  I too was with him in the shop.  He just turned the mixy and pushed the button and it worked and he returned it back to you by telling all lie to take the money from you.  That is why I smiled when gave all kinds of complication to you.  But never tell him that I told this to you.  In future, if you face similar problem know this’.

There is no point of giving so many examples.  One can even write a book on this sharing all their experience.  In all this I noticed one thing: the skilled labors have one point agenda, complete the work at the earliest and easiest way and get their money and go.  Whatever damage that we face or will face in future is not their concern.  If they do by mistake or by accident we can accept.  But they do it wantonly, as the extra caution that we ask them to take will giving them extra trouble and take more time.  But the crime in it is that several times they ‘do not do’ what we ask them to do but ‘do’ what we specifically ask them ‘not to do’.

I don’t want to paint a bleak picture about the skilled labors.  There are genuine and good among them too.  For example, the electrician (this is different one) whom I engaged has done wonderful job.  He honestly returned back the extra materials and deducted from the final bill.  Later when he came to install invertor, he has made some mistake.  If we touch Refrigerator door, we got mild shock.  So when I contacted him, he came from Hosur (around 25 kms away from here) and checked all the connections and found a mistake done by him.  He not only rectified it but refuse to take any money for it.  May be, as he is my shishya, he refused to accept money.  Anyhow I insisted him to accept at least petrol charge.

The main reason for me to share this is to show the way middle class people also were exploited in every way in their life, which is never noticed.  People are ready to raise their voice against the exploitation of weak and suppressed with which I too agree.  But the way middle class people were exploited by all, remain un-noticed and no one bother about it, including the middles class, as they are trained and forced to accept such atrocities done against them silently—as they don’t have time, money and energy to fight against it.

The skilled labors, in several cases, never do the work as we expect or pay for them.  But the crime in it is that, in stead of accepting their mistake they began to blame someone else and never shows any kind of remorse and come forward reduce the salary or money which they asked for.  Their work ethics seems to be like this:  ALL THE MISTAKES THEY DO AND DAMAGE THEY MAKE US TO FACE ARE PART OF THE CONSTRUCTION WHICH WE HAVE TO ACCEPT.  In this one area, we Indians completely lack work ethics.

Dayanand Bharati.  February 8, 2012

 

Relationship based on value and not for survival

‘In order to survive, the wild bores have to stay together without minding the burse and wounds that caused by their thorns when they stick together.  And to avoid such hurt, if one try to separate and stays alone, soon it will die due to cold.  In the same way, when we live together we cannot avoid (small) hurts and burse as every human relationship cannot avoid such hurts’, was the main theme of Sri Suki Sivam’s wonderful discourse on the importance of human relationship and the cost that we need to pay for it on June 19th, 2011 in Sun TV.

 

No one can disagree with Sri Sivam and all those who want to celebrate and enjoy human relationship know the coast that we need to pay for it.  But unlike animals, which follow their own natural law and instinct for survival we cannot live just for the sake of survival based on (animal) instinct alone.  Our life as human beings is based on values.  But this value won’t work where it is abused just for the sake of survival.  Though relationship is very much important and in fact that is the only and main identity for us as human beings, yet where the hurt and wounds leads to causality, then we have to rework that relationship for mutual benefit and blessing.  In animal world, if separation leads to death and therefore have to stick together, in human world sometimes a small or short separation might help to understand and appreciate the importance of the same relationship.  Several times in human relationship ‘familiarity breeds contempt’.  I know we cannot stretch any illustration beyond its boundary, yet we cannot arrange our life based only on such illustrations.  Illustrations though highlight one important point, yet in applying it for our human life, we need to think and present the alternative views beyond the illustration.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, June 21, 2011