Monthly Archives: January 2013

Phobia identity and identity phobia

In yesterday’s (24-01-2013) panel discussion in many News Channels (like CNN-IBN, Sun TV News; Thandi News etc.) again there was a discussion about the Muslim’s protest in Tamilnadu against Kamal Hassan’s recent movie ‘Visvarupam’.   The one main objection raised by the Muslims is that such a film will create a wrong image in the minds of the people about Muslims that they are terrorists.   However, Manushyaputran clearly pointed out that no movie can suddenly change the mind set of people against any particular people and we have to agree with him.

However, the other panelist said that ignoring such films or views is the best antidote for any wrong impression that would be created in the mind s of people.  Only protesting against such movies, that too in the eleventh hour (just the day before it was to be released) the insignificant issue is blow up and people’s attention is drawn towards it.   Actor Delhi Ganesh rightly pointed out that when the Muslim leaders watched the full film on 21st, they didn’t register their opposition immediately or even on 22nd.   Their response was that Kamal left for USA on 22nd so they cannot do it.  However, people like me find this as a false excuse in this time of advanced technology, where all kinds of facilities are available to convey their objection immediately after watching the film on 21st.  Of course, such communal issue cannot be easily ignored which will affect or hurt the sentiment of any particular group, yet we have to understand that after post 9-11 (New York) and November 26 (Mumbai) incidents a wrong image is created in the minds of common Indians, irrespective of community.

When a handful of people create some problem by using all kinds of violence, where the silent majority cannot raise their voice, then a wrong impression is created in the minds of common people.  And till the end all has to bear that burden both innocent and culprits.  For example all sannyasis are branded as if belong to Sang Parivar.  When I went to exercise my franchise in 2011, few people sitting at the bus stand after seeing me said, ‘one more vote to BJP’.  In fact I didn’t vote for BJP that time.  The same is my experience in the past too.  In 1992, just before the Babar Masjid demolition at Ayodhya, I was walking on the street of Old Delhi.  Then one man said to me, ‘baba what are you doing here instead of going to Ayodhya’?  Because that time hundreds of Sadhus were going towards Ayodhya.   So whether we like it or not, there is an impression that all the Sannyasis in India somehow affiliated with Sangh Parivar.  If I want to deny this, then I have to carry the Congress symbol on my sleeve or better a picture of Sonia on my dress—which I will abhor.

In the same way, a wrong impression is already created in the minds of people about Muslims.  To remove it, no agitation that too in the eleventh hour protesting against a film (Visvarupam), or book (Salman Rashdi) or painting (by Hindu fundamentalists Husain) is going to serve any purpose.  On the other hand it is further going highlight on the same sore which is collectively created by all.  When we watch and hear about sectarian killing in Muslim countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, we feel sorry for the innocent people killed there.  Yet I feel that the responsibility of the Muslims living in secular countries like India increases more to work hard to remove the negative impression that prevails in the minds of people all over the world.   Forgetting this, if a handful of people try to blow up small issue out of proportion they are going to irritate neutral and sympathizers like us for Muslim’s right and rightful cause in India than gaining anything—except few hours of media coverage, few panel discussion and some website articles like this.   But by writing this I know that people like us are blowing the conch to a deaf person.  Nobody can help a person when she wants to create problem for herself that too at her own cost.  This we call in Tamil: Sonda selavila suniyam vachikiradu’ = doing black magic against oneself at one’s own cost.  But such illegitimate and politically motivated agitation by Muslim is one such.

Db. January 25, 2013

Change and continuity II

The Indian worldview of ‘change and continuity’ could be understood from different perspective.  Let me illustrate with one real example.

I know a family in Tamilnadhu.  The husband is from Andhra and the wife from Kerala.  Both are highly educated, but from different community.  So as per the trend of ‘change’ they had a love marriage.  But once they started their ‘home’, they never kept their need and interest alone as part of their family life.  The wife, realizing that she is now married to her husband family, quickly learnt Telugu and also cooking as per her husband’s family tradition.  This she has done voluntarily and never insisted upon any of her individuality.  Interestingly her husband, who holds a Post-doctoral degree and a scientist, never learnt Malayalam, the mother tongue of his wife.  His wife never insisted or expected her husband to learn Malayalam as she found no need for it.  The important thing for me in this is that the whole family of her husband are living in Chennai (head quarters of Tamilnadu) and they all know Tamil very well.  However, remaining to the cultural sensitivity of her husband’s family and need, she quickly adopted to it.

So as per the change though married against their family tradition, yet to keep the continuity with the past, she understood her role now not merely the wife of her husband but the daughter-in-law of his entire family.  Though I don’t have much knowledge about the families in the West, most of the couple will keep the need of their own home first and will never think the importance of their role and relationship to their parents.  This doesn’t mean that they are going to completely severe their relationship with their parent’s family and will keep focused on their immediate family alone.  However, the role and place of a wife in Indian societies is one good example to show the ‘change and continuity’ in India.

Though ‘change’ is inevitable as it brings new perspective to our views, yet it also brings its own inherited challenges, which the continuity with our past will help us to keep a balance.  Forgetting the past which gave our security and identity, those who only focus on the change soon will end up messing their life.

Another important value in our Indian society is that when a couple start their family life—either as part of the joint family under one roof or as a new family separately, yet they remain still part of the family of the husband.   To say in other words, in all kinds of marriage, the girl, now as a wife become part of the husband family completely integrating herself with them.  Unlike western societies where couple can focus only about themselves, here the (new) couple, while like to have their own privacy, needs, visions etc. still keep the need and welfare of their birth family and will continue to serve them in all possible way.  The marriage, education and other needs of the siblings will still remain part of the responsibility of the husband, though he need not take full responsibility.

For this the involvement and cooperation of the wife is important to the husband, which thankfully most of the wives do—though as usual several exception are there to this general rule.

But when the young generation, in the name of modern (or read western) value began to forget their past, soon they will feel the dryness in their life too.  There are few young couple, who in the name of ‘our own family’ try to avoid their role and involvement with their parents’ need and life or refuse their parent’s (continuous) service to them, very soon realize the ‘emptiness’ in their life.  Mean while their ego—that too based on their education and earning, refuse to repent and reconcile with their parents value began to search a life of their ‘own’ even remaining husband and wife.  Then such selfishness soon end up in misunderstanding finally end up in divorce.

We old generation are not against the change, but our only request and longing is that the young generation should not forgot the importance of continuing with the past which will help them to enjoy their life and serve them as well.  The uniqueness of Indian civilization is that while accepting changes, it never gives up its old values as meaningless and purposeless.  Of course India does not remain the same, yet it never gave up its unique identity which is inherited from the past.

Dayanand Bharati.

Gurukulam, October 18, 2012

A universal problem

Next to mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, the most difficult one is between the worker (servant) and the owner (master).  To resolve the tension and to keep it to a minimum level, we have to keep in mind that no worker is going to work up to our expectation.  Even if they do their best, still we are not going to be satisfied with their work.  All our expectation about a relatively perfect worker doing the work to our expectation and satisfaction is nothing but idealism.  And we have always to keep one important fact in our mind that the workers come to work to earn and not to ‘serve’ us.  So, naturally they always expect something ‘extra’ apart from what we agree to pay.  And whenever they do the work, this ‘extra’ (food, money etc.) will be always in their mind.  When they didn’t get it (even day to day life) then they too are not going to be satisfied with what all we (think generously) are giving.  We always think that we give more than what we agreed for and they always think that they work more than what they accepted to do or deserved to the remuneration that we give.

So the best way to resolve the tension is to keep in our mind that ‘that’s all they can do and rest we have to do our self for our personal satisfaction’.  However, as I often say, ‘I never expect anyone to be faithful in doing the work for the money that I pay.  But at least I expect them not to do any damage or make me to incur losses.  Then when such a situation comes, we have to take some firm step and make them to understand this.  In a recent incident, I asked the worker not to come until the problem is resolved.  Because when he began to do damage, then I had to take firm step.  And one well-wisher, who recommended that worker for me said, ‘take him back.  Without him you will suffer a lot in looking after the property.’  And in response I said, ‘After paying him his salary and all the extra things (food, loan without interest, yearly bonus, cloths, medicine and all kind of other timely needs) if I am going to incur loss by his work, it is better for me to incur the same loss without paying anything thing to him.  At least this will compensate my loss to some extent.’  Finally the problem was solved (for the second time)@ and he came to work, this time realizing that he should not take advantage of our generosity or the desperate need of a worker.  If getting a (good) worker is a problem, the same is true about getting one (relatively good) master.

Of course there is no uniform solution to all the problems.  But we can learn from each other by sharing our experience.  I am not against the labor class as such.  When I talked about with one Communist local leader, he too agreed with me, that while they fight for the interest of the labors, they never encourage them to forget their responsibility to which they have committed.  I know what I share is one sided as most of the (domestic) workers don’t have an opportunity to share their views and grievances, as they don’t have time and forum for it.  (One time in Vijay TV, Sri Gopinath conducted a program between the masters and workers)  To accept the reality, most of the labors and workers suffer more than what the owners by employing them.  But this does not undermine the problem the remains between the two classes of people.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam,February 21, 2009.

@ This I wrote in 2009.  Now that man is gone, as he began to take holidays without informing me.  And when I asked about it, he become upset and left the work.  The interesting fact is that just before he left I gave voluntarily a lone of Rs. 5,000/- (five thousand) understanding his situation.  As a joke when I gave the loan I said, ‘next you will find some excuse to quit and may not return the loan’.  For this he sword on the food which he was eating that time and said, ‘I swore on the food and I will never quit without paying the loan back to you’.  Now seven months are gone (he quite in June 2012) and he least bothered to come and give reason for not returning the money back.  Already he owed Rs. 2,000/- from previous loan.  Of course this is not my experience alone, but several other faced similar situation, where servants, after receiving some loan will quit without having any remorse.  They always think that they deserve that loan even as part of their remuneration.   This I write not to blame the workers or to parade how generous I am (or we), but the relationship between servants and masters always remain a love and hate one from time in memorial, at least in India.

Db. Gurukulam, January 20, 2013.

After writing the above points, I was curious to know what our ancient scriptures talk about servants. And to my surprise our ancestors too faced similar problem.  Below I give few from Mahabharata and Ramayana.  Muktiveda (Bible) has similar view.  Recently, Bharatiyar, our Tamil Poet writing about the servants very sarcastically wrote:

They will demand much wage, but will forgot what we gave

If they have extra work, they will stay back in their home

If we ask, ‘why you didn’t come yesterday’?

‘A scorpion in the pot bite me with its teeth

My wife was possessed by a devil

And it was the 12th day ceremony for my grand-mother after she passed away’

They will tell lie constantly and will do one thing than what we asked them to do

And will talk with the maid servants in a lonely place

They will spread our family matter in the entire town

If we don’t have small thing, then they will talk about to everywhere

I suffered a lot because of the servants

At the same time without servants work is not done.

4. கண்ணன்–என் சேவகன்

கூலி மிகக் கேட்பார் கொடுத்த தெலாந் தாமறப்பார்;

வேலை மிக வைத்திருந்தால் வீட்டிலே தங்கிடுவார்;

ஏனடா நீ நேற்றைக் கிங்குவர வில்லை யென்றால்;

பானையிலே தேளிருந்து பல்லாற் கடித்ததென்பார்;

வீட்டிலே பெண்டாட்டி மேற்பூதம் வந்ததென்பார்;       5

பாட்டியார் செத்துவிட்ட பன்னிரண்டா நாளென்பார்;

ஓயாமற் பொய்யுரைபார்; ஒன்றுரைக்க வேறுசெய்வார்;

தாயாதியோடு தனியிடத்தே பேசிடுவார்;

உள்வீட்டுச் செய்தியெலாம் ஊரம் பலத்துரைப்பார்;

எள்வீட்டி லில்லை யென்றால் எங்கு முரசறைவார்; 10

சேவகராற் பட்ட சிரமமிக வுண்டு கண்டீர்;

சேவகரில் லாவிடிலோ செய்கை நடக்கவில்லை12 (p. 320)

பாரதியார் கவிதைகள், சீனி. விசுவநாதன், சென்னை, பூங்கொடி பதிப்பகம்,(1998), 2001, , கண்ணன் பாட்டு, 4. ப. 320

Canto C: … I trust you are not too familiar with your servants nor avoid contacts with them altogether; the middle course is the best in this matter.[Rama to Bharata] — N. Raghunathan (tr.), Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, Vighneswara Publishing House, Three Volumes Madras, 1981, Vol. I, p. 394

Servants, paid regularly, still harbour resentment; and should a wealthy man, on getting still greater wealth, give to his servant more, he would then burn as much from this as he would from fear of robbers.[Shanti-parva, 26.22]— Chaturvedi Badrinath, The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the human condition, New Delhi, Orient Longman, 2007, p.281

34. That end that overtakes low wretches who eat sweetmeats before servants … without giving them a share of them…. [Arjuna to Yudhisthira.  Arjuna took vow to kill Jayadrath and says these things] — M.N.[Manmatha Nath]  Dutt, Mahabharata,Delhi, Parimala Publications, 7 vols. 1988, Drona Parva, Vol. 4.  Ch. LXXIII, p.106

31. ….By dismissing a servant who is incapable of doing service, one is not visited with sin. [Vyasa to Yudhisthira]— ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti ParvaCh.XXXIII, p. 48

48. …you should never cut jokes with your servants…..49. If the master mixes too freely with them, servants begin to disregard him. They forget their own position and do not care their master. 50. Ordered to do a thing, they hesitate, and give out the master’s secrets.  They ask for unbecoming things and take the food that is intended for the master. [Bhishma to Yudhisthira].— ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti Parva Ch. X. p. 79

31. Being angry, a master may deprive a servant of his office or reprove him, from rage, in harsh words, and restore him to power again. 32. None save a servant devoted to the master can stand and overlook such treatment….[Bhishma to Yudhishthira].— ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti Parva. Ch. LXXXIII. P. 125

75-77. Servants who are discontented, who have been dismissed from their offices, or who have been degraded from honorable situations, who have brought destitution upon themselves, or who have been ruined by their enemies, who have been weakened, who are rapacious, or enraged, or alarmed, or deceived, who have suffered confiscation, who are proud and willing to perform great feats but who are deprived of the means of acquiring wealth, and who burn with grief or anger for any injury done to them,–always wait for misfortunes to befall their masters.  Being deceived, they forsake their masters and become powerful instruments in the hands of his enemies. [Jackal to the Tiger]— ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti Parva. Ch. CXI. P. 166

85. No servant is to be seen who always wishes to do good to his master.  People work with the desire of doing good to his master as also to one’s own self. All works are undertaken from selfish desires. Unselfish works or motives are very rare. Jackal to the Tiger]— ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti Parva. Ch. CXI. P. 167

9. One should make no distinctions between his guests and servants and kinsmen in matters of food.  To treat servants equally in this matter is highly spoken of. [Bhishma to Yudhishthira]. —ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti ParvaCh.CXCIII. P. 286

 

 

 

 

Burden of Scholars

For me scriptures (or any other literature) present an idealistic view of the author(s) than the realistic picture about the life of the people.  At the same time, however imaginative, no scripture (literature) could remain uninfluenced by the life of the people.  However presenting the life of the people based on the scriptural evidence, that too arranged in a chronological order would never present the reality of either the scripture or the people.

Chronology is important for one to arrange and understand the teaching of the scriptures.  At the same time one should be aware of the impediment of developing an opinion based on the chronological presentation by any scholar.  And when such view was presented by a scholar like Matilal, it really surprised me.  Because the way he could present various conflicting views about Indian philosophy that too comparing with Western philosophies is remarkable one, though understanding all of them is beyond the comprehension of a student like me.

As a digression I have to point out that however helpful it might be, any comparison of philosophies of West and East will mostly remain as an intellectual entertainment of the scholars.   Because for me while understanding Indian philosophy like Nyaya, 1 Vaisheshika itself is a huge burden, there is no hope for to understand such a comparative philosophy.  However we cannot under estimate such hard work of scholars like Matilal.

Now coming the point, Matilal, writing in the context that ‘there is no unmixed, pure happiness,’2 say:

One may counter this charge of pessimism in another way.  One may point out that the theme of universal suffering was conspicuous by its absence in the early scriptures, the Vedas and the Upanisads.  The early Vedic religion, it seems, was more concerned with life in this world, and much less with a life beyond.  In its lack of overwhelming concern for the after life, the early Vedic Hinduism resembled early Judaism … (p.383)

Though this might help us to understand the teachings of the Veda and Upanishads, yet it could hardly present the reality of life which people lived in pre-Vedic, Vedic and post-Vedic times. Because can we divide the life of people as Pre-Vedic, Vedic and Post-Vedic?  If Matilal is presenting about the view of the Vedic religion based on the Vedas alone, we too can agree with him.  However, for me, as I have said above, ‘however imaginative, no scripture (literature) could remain uninfluenced by the life of the people.’  After all scriptures (literatures) provides a narrow window (or a big door) to know about the life of the people.  So can we claim that what the Veda and Upanishads say represent the overall view of people lived (even as Hindus) in those times in India as a whole?  Or can we accept Matilal’s view that, ‘With the rise of the sramana school, the theme of universal suffering, whatever might have been the sociological reason for its origin, became dominant and persisted and permeated the entire spectrum of Indian philosophical thinking…’ (p.383)3 Does this mean it was absent in the lives of people because this theme of universal suffering was absence in the early scriptures—the Vedas and the Upanishads?

Systematization always reminds a scholarly burden.  Systematic presentation of scriptural teachings that too based on chronological order is a must for us to understand scriptures, but they could hardly represent the real life of the people. 4 As Matilal mentioned about ‘early Judaism’ which like early Vedic Hinduism ‘was concerned with life in this world’, I would like to take the help of the Purvaveda (Old Testament) from the Muktiveda to present my view.  A short study of the survey of Purvaveda (OT) will help us to understand the danger of arriving any conclusion about the life of the people based on the chronological arrangement of the scripture.  Though I am not a good student of Purvaveda, yet as per my understanding the Pentateuch was orally collected and recorded after Moses time.  While historical books (Judges, Kings, Chronicles,) were compiled, the wisdom literatures (Psalms, Proverbs) were also collected and recorded.  At the same time the prophets were very active in giving the oracle of God and their works were also side by side came into existent.  To say in other words the entire Purvaveda (OT) of Muktiveda (Bible) was within few centuries between pre-exile and post-exile period.  But if anyone tries to understand the life of the Jews, as per the present arrangement of books in Purvaveda will only mislead them.  For example, because all the books of the Prophets were at the end of Purvaveda, do not mean that all of them belong to later Judaism and not represents any view of early Judaism.  Interestingly for me, the Prophets never mention any points from Pentateuch to substantiate their message from God to the people.  This does not mean that they were not aware of the early books of Pentateuch and historical records.

The same is the case with Uttaraveda (New Testament). The epistles were first written, then the works of the apostles were collected and recorded (books of Acts) and simultaneous the gospels were written.  But nearly after 300 years of the early church the present Muktiveda was finally compiled and recognized as the Word of God.   But they never represent the real life of the early bhaktas of the lord and their doctrinal views.  Of course from the beginning the church elders and early church Fathers were busy in confronting all kinds of heresies and were forced to spell out their doctrine in clear cut terms. But simple bhaktas lived their life without the burden of scriptures and doctrine but by faith.5

The same is true with Hinduism.  While Vedic scriptures (smrtis) were composed and compiled, other branches of scriptures (smrtis =darshanas, dharma-sutras, dharma-sastras, Gita, Epics etc.) were side by side developed.  Even origin of puranas could be traced back in Vedic time.6 So if we want to understand the life of Hindus or Indians of early time, we need to seek various sources which are overlapping with each other than by arranging them in chronological order.

I am not sure I understood Matilal correctly.  Because pointing out that this thesis (of universal suffering) he says that it ‘must be distinguished from the psychological attitude called universal pessimism’ and continuous:

Pessimism in an individual begets a crippling mental depression which precludes rational and positive behaviour.  If a whole culture is under the spell of such a universal pessimism, its crippling effect would have rendered the culture bankrupt or would have made it extinct a long time ago.  Indian culture on the other hand has shown its vitality and aggressiveness punctuated by material growth for about two thousand years, assimilating new ideas, changing and adjusting to the new situation as the new challenge confronted it from time to time.  It is difficult for a culture infected with overwhelming pessimism to exhibit such vitality and adjustability. (p.383)

The way Matilal could compare scriptural views (say doctrine) with philosophies of both Indian and West will enrich any student of scripture and philosophy. Even in this chapter ‘On the Universality of Suffering’ he quotes from David Hume, Spinoza, and Thomas Nagel.   But my fear is that unless we could follow his entire thesis carefully, we will end up not only understanding him wrongly but also the teaching of the scriptures themselves.  Because though scholars can handle the burden of philosophy and doctrine easily, a student of scripture with an interest in anthropology will stumble by carrying the burden of the scholars.

Db. Gurukulam.

January 18, 2013.

1. …Vatsyayana attempted to define nyaya as follows: the examination of an object or a fact (artha is ambiguous enough to give us both meanings) with the help of the pramanas, ‘instruments (p.79) of knowledge’.   Nyaya therefore proves an assumption to be an established fact.  The etymological meaning of nyaya has, however, a better prospect.  It is given as niyate praapyatee vivaksitaarthasiddhir anena: ‘It is the method by which the establishment of an intended object or a thesis is obtained.’  The siddhi or ‘establishment’ here can be read or interpreted as rational acceptability.   Hence, the word nyaya (and this must be distinguished from the use of the same term as a proper name of the school or system called the Nyaya) was connected initially with the early vague but intuitively grasped conception of rationality.—p. 79

2. The Collected Essays of Bimal Krishna Matilal: Ethics and Epics, ed. Jonardon Ganeri, New Delhi, Oxford, 2002, p. 382  Further he says: Each honeycomb is contaminated with poison at the bottom.  Or, in the manner of the Buddhist it will be said: happiness is so short-lasting, momentary and transient, that in effect it is more unhappiness than anything else.  What causes unhappiness must be unhappiness also.  The so-called happiness causes unhappiness (we lament the loss of such happiness) and hence should be only unhappiness.  In other words, experiential happiness is only a variety of unhappiness….

I think this way of understanding the thesis of suffering is misleading, if not entirely wrong.  Misleading because, as I have already mentioned, it then becomes a truth that is too obvious, and trivial and unphilosophical.  It becomes misleading also because it is then inadvertently identified with an engulfing pessimism….(p.382)….This is a ritique which simply means that there is really no good reason for us today to believe in such a thesis, and then the relevance of such Indian philosophical doctrines collapses for us.  I say again that this is misleading.—pp. 382-83

3.  To understand Matilal, I am giving the entire view by him:

With the rise of the sramana school, the theme of universal suffering, whatever might have been the sociological reason for its origin, became dominant and persisted and permeated the entire spectrum of Indian philosophical thinking.  It is upheld in its various ramified forms not only by Buddhism, Jainism, and Ajivikism but also by Nyaya, Samkhya and Mimamsa.  We know very little today about the socio-politico-historical causes or reasons that might account for the origin of the doctrine.  Besides, even if we can find out a satisfactory historical explanation about the origin, it would be of little help in understanding the full implication and thrust of the doctrine, for it would fail to explain why and how the doctrine dominated the intellectual horizon of India for about two millennia….—p. 383

4. O’ Flaherty’s warning against every chronological arrangements:

In addition to all usual problems of arbitrary periodization, the division of Indian religion into three distinct periods is complicated by the continuity of the Indian tradition; by the absence of data regarding nonreligious events (economic, social, political) which might have inspired sudden changes; by the tendency of attitudes to persist from one period, in addition to new ideas which one might have expected to replace them; and by the frequent occurrence of intentional archaism—the resurrection of old ideas in order to led an air of tradition to a late text.  In designating these three periods as Vedic, post-Vedic (or orthodox), and devotional (bhakti), one is referring not to three discrete strata of texts but rather to three attitudes, each one a reaction to the one preceding it and thus “later” in an ideological sense, though not necessarily in a chronological sense.— O’ Flaherty, Wendy Doniger, The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology, Paperback Edition, University of California Press, Berkeley, (1976) 1980, pp. 78-79.  And also note Thapar’s view:

…Histories of the ‘Hindu’ religion have been largely limited to placing texts and ideas in a chronological perspective with few attempts at relating these to the social history of the time.  Scholarship also tended to ignore the significance of the popular manifestation of religion in contrast to the textual, a neglect which was remedied by some anthropological research, although frequently the textual imprint is more visible even in such studies.— Romila Thapar,  ‘Imagined Religious Communities?  Ancient History and the Modern Search for a Hindu Identity’, in David N. Lorenzen.  Religious Movements in  South Asia 600-1800. New Delhi,  Oxford, 2004, p. 335

5. I am thankful to Dr. Hoefer for giving (through email) a precise summary about the Origin and development of the Muktiveda:

The literature of the OT was written down around the time of the Exile.  Up till that time, the material had been memorized and passed on orally, as was the practice at the time.  When the nation was destroyed and scattered, it became necessary to write things down in order to preserve them.  Therefore, one might assume that the writings simply recorded what had been produced at the time of the incidents referred to.  One can see this development, for example, in the writings of the prophets.  The books are primarily in poetic verse, so obviously it is not verbatim of what they prophets said but the gist later constructed.  Also, as with the Hindu tradition, it is easier to memorize verse than prose.

The theory in regard to the NT is similar.  The gospels began to be written when the first eye witnesses began to die off.  Luke makes this process/necessity very explicit at the beginning of his gospel.  It also is generally theorized that there was a “Q” (for the German word “Quelle,” meaning “source”) document of Jesus’ sayings, which both Mark and Matthew used.  The organization and choice of materials by the gospel writers was geared to the specified audience they were addressing with their gospels:  Mark is a barebones action narrative, Matthew has many teachings and OT citations presumably aiming toward a Jewish audience, Luke specifically says his material was intended for a Gentile audience, and John was written much later (90-100 A.D.) with a great deal of theological expansion involved.

The best source for discerning the practical life of the early Christians is the corps of Pauline letters, as he addresses real issues facing the congregations.  A few of Paul’s letters seem to have predated the first gospels, but most were somewhat contemporaneous with the first three gospels.  All the NT scriptures were used for worship, reference, and study as soon as they were written.  Most Christians had only a portion of these scriptures available.  The process of canonization involved gathering all these scriptures into one place, analyzing them, and deciding which authoritatively and genuinely agreed with each other and with the basic Christian tradition (expressed in the Nicene Creed and later in the Apostles Creed).

6. ‘…It is difficult to say whether the Atharvaveda, the Satapatha Brahmana and the Upanisads knew several works called Purana or whether there was only a single work called (p.816) Purana known to them.  But from the fact that the Taittiriya Aranyaka (II.10) speaks of Itihasas and Puranas (in the plural) it would not be unreasonable to suppose that in the later Vedic period at least some works (three or more) called Puranas existed and were studied and recited by those that were engaged in solemn sacrifices like the Asvamedha….’— P. V. Kane, History of Dharmasastra, Five volumes, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1968-77 (1930-62) vol. V, part. II. pp. 816-17.

 

 

 

 

 

Bhakti Song 151

என்ன சொல்லுவேன்

என்ன சொல்லி உன்னை வாழ்த்துவேனோ
எதை எண்ணி உன்னைப் போற்றுவேனோ?

தன்னை அறியாது தாழ்ந்திருந்தேனே
தருமமின்றி உருக்குலைந்தேனே
சின்னத்தனமாகச் சிந்தனை செய்தேனே
சேரும் வழியன்றித் திகைத்திருந்தேனே

பாவம் பல செய்யப் பயப்படவில்லை
பழிபல ஏற்கத் தயங்கிடவில்லை
வாழ்ந்திட்ட வாழ்வில் உண்மை இல்லை
வள்ளளே உன்னைத் தேடவும் இல்லை

சிந்தையில் எத்தனை தடுமாற்றம் கொண்டேன்
செயலிலே எத்தனை போராட்டம் கண்டேன்
சொல்லுக்கும் செயலுக்கும் தொடர்பே இல்லை
சோர்வின்றி வேறெதும் காணவும் இல்லை

ஆனாலும் நீ என்னைக் கைவிடவில்லை
அறியாத போதும் தள்ளிட வில்லை
நீயாக வந்துதான் மீட்டுக் கொண்டாய்
நித்தமும் என்னைக் காத்துக் கொண்டாய்

என்ன கைமாறு இதற்கு நான் செய்வேன்
எதைத் தந்து உன்கடன் தீர்த்துக் கொள்வேன்
என்னைத் தந்தாலும் இதற்கு ஈடாமோ?
ஈடில்லா அன்பிற்கு எது இணையாகுமோ?

ஆனாலும் ஒன்று செய்ய அறிந்திட்டேனே
அதனைச் செய்ய துணிவு கொண்டேனே
வாழ்ந்திடும் எஞ்சிய வாழ்நாள் முழுதும்
நீ என்னில் வாழத் தந்துவிட்டேனே.
24-01-2013, குருகுலம், காலை, 8.45

Leave them ‘alone’

This morning on Sun TV, Sri Siva Kumar was giving one of his regular talks on spirituality (he is famous for his participation in ‘Pattimandrams’, or ‘debates’).  He shared an interesting thought about the mark of a great Religion being the quality of inner life.  What was interesting for me was not the thought or the illustrations that he shared, but what he omitted from his points.  His omissions say a lot about the present paranoia in the society.

He told a story about three merchants who went to sell their goods at the market and the next morning each one was telling the others that his sect (faith) was the truly great one.  The first merchant was a Saivaite, the next was a Vaishnavite, and the third was a Christian.  What was interesting is that he did not include a fourth merchant.  Either he consciously avoided the fourth religious person, or the editor of that program instructed him not to mention a ‘Muslim’ as the fourth one.  Most of us know the reason for this; these days, no one wants to encounter any kind of controversy with Muslims.  Even if a speaker says something good about Islam and about the Muslim faith, it will be minutely scrutinized and someone will come up with some objection to one word or thought, often taking the words out of context.  This will escalate into further controversy which will end up in protest, demonstrations, riots, and the like.

I don’t want to blame Siva Kumar or the editor of the Sun TV program, because they are not to be blamed for the fear that has been put into their minds.  Such fear is present in the minds of most non-Muslims.  At the same time, we cannot blame the entire Muslim community for such a wrong image others have about them.  I have had good relationships with several Muslims throughout my life.  They are not my ‘Shishyas’ because they never accepted me as their guru, however they gave me respect as a samnyasi and also extended their seva to me in several ways.  The Muslim electrician whom I have known for several years came from 25 kms to do the wiring in our ashram and stays when he wants to take some rest.  When he faces some crucial problem in his life, he will share it with me and seek my advice.  When a critical problem arose in fixing his marriage, he accepted my advice and married the girl whom his parents choose for him.  Another Muslim, who runs a medical shop some 25 kms away from our ashram, is a great help for me to receive my important mail and other items.  I even leave my ashram keys with him and collect them when I return back.  A few times he has helped me to withdraw money from the bank when I will leave a cheque with him.

In 1993 I was travelling after the Mumbai riots (in response to the Ayodhya incident) from Allahabad to Mumbai.  I accommodated one elderly Muslim with me in my berth who was travelling without reservation in the same bogi.  The other Muslim youths travelling with him back to Mumbai were looking at me with uneasiness after the riots became very friendly with me.  The other Hindus who were travelling with me were surprised to see that I was accepting water and tea from them and began to comment, ‘maybe this Swamiji is a Gandhian’.

This past December, when I was staying with my mother in a new place, I suddenly become sick.  Panicked by this, my mother rushed out into the evening darkness, due to power cut, to seek someone’s help.  At that time, two youths were standing outside and when they came to know about my situation, they immediately rushed to see me, noted the medicine that I needed, and went to buy it for me.  They refused to accept any reimbursement for the medicine.  When I later asked their names, I came to know that they were Muslim college students.  When they saw my mother, and heard her Tamil, they knew that we were Brahmins and that I was a samnyasi, but they never considered our community, only our need.  They went out into that dark night to the medical shop to buy medicine for me.

The reason that I write all of this is that there exists an artificial curtain between Muslims and other communities of people in India that needs to be removed.  We all need to look beyond our individual faiths and see each other as fellow human beings.  Of course this is idealism, but to celebrate human relationship all kinds of barriers need to be removed.  Both Muslims and others should take steps in this direction collectively—WITHOUT ALLOWING ANY POLITICIAN TO HIJACK US FOR THEIR AGENDA.

Db.

Kumbakonam (camp)

December 28, 2012

On Dharma

However complicated (textually, theologically/philosophically and historically) could be the word ‘dharma’ always remains as ‘duty’ in practical life.  This is always explained beautifully as ‘svadharma’ once own duty.  Here we need not dwell on the complicated and controversial aspect about what is even this ‘svadharma’ is (which is traditionally linked with ‘varnashradharma’ and brow beaten in several ways).

For me, this practical aspect of dharma as ‘duty’ is always based on the eternal, unchallengeable, unquestionably undeniable principle of ‘relationship’.  For me no one can do one’s duty in isolation even for one’s own need (which is accepted and acceptable for all).  That is why even a samnyasi cannot do his (sorry a sannyasini cannot do her) duty without a society around him/her.  So sannyasini who renounced all her relationship with the people and world also is in need of ‘relationship’ with people and world somehow or other.

At the same time, however we are interdependent with each other to carry our respective ‘duty’ (dharma), there are avenues in one’s life where one has to do her duty ‘independently’ and ‘irrespective’ of others’ co-operation and relationship.  This is beautifully explained in Muktiveda by two vachanas: everyone has to carry her own burden and let us carry each other’s burden.  We can replace the word ‘burden’ to duty as it gives every scope for this according to the context of the text (sorry for this hermeneutical textual torture).  And when we refuse to carry out our duty by blaming others’ lack of c Mind againooperation will spoil the life for all.

Points for reflection (and also discussion):

  1. What are my ‘duties’ which I have to carry out individually without blaming others’ lack of cooperation?
  2. What are the duties of us collectively where we need to carry out each other’s duty so that we can equip everyone to carry out her own responsibility joyfully or at least not feeling the burden too much?

I have done my ‘duty’ individually kicking this discussion expecting others’ cooperation to do my duty joyfully in future also or at least not feeling the burden of always ‘kicking’ to discuss something in the name of teaching.

Db. Gurukulam, January 16, 2012

 

Formulas won’t work

I am not only not the right person but also a wrong person to share this.  However, being part of society, I am sharing only my reflection than actually commenting.  Recently hundreds of couples gathered to insist the value of the relationship between husband and wife in a famous Ashram, in Tamilnadu.  They even took vows holding each others hand.  And after the programme, one woman, appreciating such gatherings to teach young generations, who do not understand many values in life, said, ‘three things are taught to us: “no comment; no command and no demand”’ between husband and wife to keep good relationship.’

Though I appreciate the Organizers for such meeting with a noble cause, yet providing some simple formulas won’t actually help people in real life.  It is interesting that such gathering was arranged to insist the relationship and bond between husband and wife. But a formula is given just opposite to such bond and relationship.

Every human relationship is important for an individual, family and community (also society at large) to grow.  And it is possible only when we ‘comment, command and even demand’ from each other several things.  Of course we can use a better word for ‘comment’ as ‘advice or counsel’; ‘command’ as ‘request’ and ‘demand’ as ‘rights’.  But whichever words we might use, any relationship can develop and function when there is mutual contribution by all these means.  Imagine a relationship between a husband and wife without any ‘comment, command and demand’.  Though I don’t have personal experience in this field, based on other relationship that I enjoy, I can say with much confidence that all relationship will remain not only dry but also boring without contributing to each other through our ‘comment, command and demand’.  And those who try to live strictly implementing such formulas won’t have any relationship with any one.  We can observe that even animal world and other natural world (like trees, plants etc.) cannot survive or thrive if such formula is followed.

The problem with human beings sometimes is that, in the name of doing certain things differently, we completely lose the track and get lost in such formulas and programs.  But the only consolation for me is that, like many other such programs and formulas, we will never implement them, but will live naturally ‘commenting, commanding and demanding’ in our life enjoying our relationship and learning through errors and mistakes and not through elitist, unnatural intellectual formulas.  Tastelessness itself is a taste (with which we are not familiar or the one that we don’t like); not using any symbol itself is a symbol.  In the same way, ‘no comments’ itself is a comment (without words).  One need not use only words to ‘command’. There are other ways to command and also to demand.   Those who exercise authority (husband or wife) know how to command, even with out words and those who depend on know how to demand their rights.  Those who are yet to be born alone can refrain from commenting, commanding and demanding.  Rest of the living beings, including the dead ones cannot escape from them.

Finally, when some one says after asking some help from me, ‘sorry for the trouble’, I with a smile say, ‘I need to give you trouble and you need to give me trouble.  Otherwise we cannot live on this earth.  Of course we can use a better word for ‘trouble’ as ‘seva’ though that is what we give and need to give to each other as living beings.

So ‘comment, command and demand’ to celebrate all relationship.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, September 1, 2009.

Know your limitation

‘Blessed is the man who knows his limitation’ is a familiar saying which is also endorsed by another saying, ‘don’t bite more than what you can chew’.  But now as all become very busy, particularly after the advent of Internet and 3 G spectrum, most of us bite more than what we can chew and in this process neither feel the taste of the food nor  can we swallow it.  Many make too much commitment thinking that as they have the world at their disposal at the tip of their finger (key board and mobile phone) never understand their limitation and leave much work undone.

Modern young people slowly become learner of all and master of none.  Even several grown up people are becoming easy victim to this trend.  I know a school teacher.  In order to earn more, he bought a Computer and joined computer to course.  But I warned him that considering his nature and age, he cannot compete with the young generation in this field and encouraged him to do more in his known field.  But motivated by desire, he never listened and completed few courses.  But the story is that after many years, now the Computer remained closed and he continued  his job as a teacher and only incurred more debt.

Modern technology though provides new facilities, they equally demand more.  Unless one keeps updated he cannot compete with others and progress.  Though this is true in every field of learning, yet things related with modern technology complicate few things which remained very simple in the past.  When I used pen and paper to write, not only my handwriting improved but I had to remember the spelling and grammar correctly.  But now while I type, computer automatically corrects my spelling but at the end the ‘spelling and grammar’ check further limited my need to know the language properly.  Of course this is progress but at the cost of personal growth.  Machine replacing the mind makes us slave to mere systems than personal talents and values.

Based on such facilities many of us bite more than what we can chew and fail in many areas.  My editor took the manuscript five years before but still could not read it.  Another friend took it to give his comments but could not even read  more than one chapter.  Recently one of my friends after reading one of my articles said that there are few mistakes and he will correct them and send me back so that I can read it and give it back to him use it for his classes.  But several months have gone and he has no time to correct a four page article.

This is not limited to the area of reading and writing.  But not knowing one’s own limitation several people want to involve in the life of others in the name of guiding and helping them.  It is true that without such people’s help and concern many will run without knowing the goal.  But both those who need help and those who can help too become too busy and often bite more than what they can chew and end up returning back to the same spot from where they started.  And the only thing that progresses is their age and not their vision (to help) and mission (to guide).

The one antidote for this sickness of busyness is: be focused.  Knowing one’s own limitation will help us all.  And unless requested don’t jump either to guide or to help others—in every area of their life.  Gone are the days where we jumped to help others without being asked.  Now it is not only considered as interference but also a nuisance.   Even after (several) requests many cannot help others because of their busyness and (unnecessary) commitment.  So as the art of living ‘ONE DAY AT A TIME’ will help us to resolve several tension, doing ‘ONE THING AT A TIME’ keeping focused will help us to come out from the trap of busyness. And for this knowing one’s own limitation is essential.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, June 21, 2010

Meaningless question and answer

This evening (December 16, 2010) in Jaya T.V., while Malladi brothers were giving a live musical  concert in Chennai, in the question answer session, one young girl asked the question, ‘what is the meaning of “Tatvammasi”’.  And, one of the brothers, as usual in expected advaitic line gave the answer.  Here my point is not whether the answer they gave is correct or not.  But in a musical concert, if the audience ask some questions relevant to music, in which the artist are well trained,  they could give more meaningful and appropriate answer in which they are more talented.

To questions like what “Tatvammasi is” even great philosophers from ancient time like (Sri Adi Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and other acharyas) to the modern day philosophers (like Dr. Radhakrishnan) had to write so many pages of materials, a simple answer in one minute to such deep question will not do any justice either to the question or the answer.

But I am neither blaming the one (young modern girl) who asked the question nor the Maladi brother who gave the answer but the one who coordinated the program. Because, if my understanding is correct, it was decided even before the program gets started, about who will ask what kind of question?  Then the coordinator or MC could have better organized the question to make the music concert more lively and relevant to that event.  Of course the theme of the evening concert was ‘Tatvas of the Saints who wrote the songs’.  But the question asked was about Upanishadic Maha vakyas related more to theology than to the musicians who wrote kirtanas.

It is well asked: ‘What should not be asked’ (Tarumi to Siva) and the answer given was, ‘meaningless question and the answer given to such question’.

Dayanand Bharati.  Gurukulam, December 16, 2010.

6.40 pm.