There I was reading an article posted on social media by a ‘friend’ and it made me aghast at the impudence of a man to write on something with little or no knowledge of it at all. His premise was the recent research that he has started doing on the Internet and the source was reading of a few articles, with no better foundation for his claim. The writer wrote in ‘Round Table India – For an Informed Ambedkar Age.’
There is a crop of Internet Scholars and writers getting their two-minutes of fame for their blog. Their claim to fame is not well-founded real research. It is a couple of days of browsing the Internet, culling out the portions that can catch a reader’s imagination by way of being so notorious and controversial, keeping their writings in circulation. It is a shame that there are people who actually find it worth their while to endorse such writings. Worst part is that so called ‘liberated and secular Indians’ (read Hindus) have such abhorrence for their own identity that they try to show themselves above it by bashing their religion, history, and mythology, leaving it bloody.
The texts and thesis of Sanatan Dharma (also popularly known as Hinduism) are not limited to stul gyan (material, coarse interpretations). There are many sukshm or subtle revelations, each requiring a deep analytical study. Add to that is the ancient language, which is open to many interpretations. Each character and action in the ancient literature has a saga of its own. There was a practice in the ancient times, wherein, only a guru could reveal the scriptures and their meaning, in all its subtleties, to their devoted disciples. The extent of the disclosure also depended on the disciples’ respective calibres. The four varna or caste was based on the ability of the individual to devote self to various tasks. Only individuals with brahmanic bent of mind, ready to spend a lifetime in dedicated study of the scriptures, devoted to learning, with complete focus could partake this process of divulgence of spiritual knowledge.
Let me explain it by taking an analogy of the current education system. In Indian schools, a pupil has to go through all theoretical subjects, like Language, Social Sciences, Sciences, and Mathematics-Algebra, until 10th standard, before being presented with limited choices in senior school. A statistics of pupils in these classes will reveal a parabola curve, with most people averaging on mediocrity, some doing really badly, while a few excelling. This system of education is not a right yardstick of a person’s true potential.
Exactly opposite was the foundation of the ancient system of learning. Education was customised as per the interests of individuals, enhancing their skills in their chosen vocation. For example, Parashuram was born as a Brahmin, but he lived his life as a Kshatriya. Vishwamitra on the other hand was born to a Kshatriya, but chose to become a Brahmin. Shabri (A woman born to Shudra parents) was running an Ashram and chose to be a Brahmin. This system was maybe, corrupted thousands of years ago, and this corrupted system was perhaps present during Mahabharata.
Addressing the same system, Lord Krishna did apprise Arjun that anyone can attain Him as their spiritual destination. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, verse 32 ‘O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaishyas [merchants] and shudras [workers]—can attain the supreme destination.’ When He used the term, ‘lower birth’ it was contextual as per Arjun’s understanding of the existing system prevailing, clearly indicating that in devotional service there is no distinction between the lower and higher classes of people. In the material conception of life, there are such divisions, but for a person engaged in transcendental devotional service to the Lord there are not. Everyone is eligible for the supreme destination. The soul is without material substance, with no gender, caste, creed, or colour. The soul should try to attain Him.
I am also presenting a link of a viewpoint by a fellow blogger explaining the caste and varnas.
Going back to the article that infuriated me, I want to present the argument on two major points. First, the writer mentioned the painting by Akram Hussain of Lord Krishna in a bar surrounded by bikini-clad women, and how it was taken down from Ravindra Bhavan in Guwahati’s State Art Gallery after protests from the right wing groups. Need I remind what happened on January 7, 2015 for some Charlie Hebdo cartoons? Second, the writer talks about how “…most of the characters in Bhagavad Gita are born illegitimately, and during the Mahabharata period, adultery, rape, murder, killing etc., was rampant. …” Really?! Characters in Bhagavad Gita? Or do you mean, Mahabharata? So much for the informed writing! Before I address point one, let me say that you just have to look at the recent history and literature around the world to know that it is replete with many such cultural incidents. Look up the phrase, Droit du seigneur, ‘Right of the Lord’ in European history. The man also talked about niyoga. There are terms like polyandry, polygyny, and levirate marriage in various societies across globe and find mention in New Testament. Different times, different cultures, different practices. More informed study into each is called for.
Coming back to first point, Krishna Raasleela, and how it was depicted in Akram Hussain’s painting. We need to understand that some cultural portrayals through the generations have shown a youthful Lord Krishna dancing with the gopis or the milkmaids of the village in raasleela. Here, we need to put the chronology right. Lord Krishna was all of three years old when He moved to Vrindavan. He started doing raasleela at around 7 years of age with the Gopis, who were all 16-17 years or older. His maternal uncle, Kamsa, invited Him to Mathura for a wrestling match at the age of 10, and He moved to Mathura. After killing Kamsa, Lord Krishna with brother Balarama, went to ashram with Guru Sandeepaani muni for education. Let us give it a perspective. Remember when you were 15 years and above and had a sweet little niece or nephew around the age of seven. Be reminded, or imagine when this cute little thing sang a romantic song for you, learned from a recent movie. What would be your feelings? Sexual? Nah. Amusement? Maternal? For sure. You will be in splits, enjoying the sweet antics of this child. You will go to the extent of telling every relative and will urge the little kid to repeat the act. Multiply this feeling a thousand times, add fervour and devotion to it. That is God’s raasleela.
Pointing fingers towards a culture or any scripture is not a good idea and most people should refrain from this. We Hindu believers will not do a Charlie Hebdo. We will not go on a killing spree. However, we will protest, and protest we must. This article is my protest against the plundering of my religious scriptures and figureheads by anyone. I mentioned in my earlier articles (So You Think You Are The Saviour, and A Guru, A Guide, the Intent) to find the right guru to learn a scripture or teachings. Idea Internet Network, IIN, will not work here. Cultural and religious condemning is in bad taste. None of you is a saviour. Worry about your personal growth and learning, by learning right. Stop trying to change the world and minds.
Some famous quotes on this sentiment.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein
Misinformation or pillage of any religion or scriptures is unwarranted. I cannot show my discontent enough. More so, when I find that people stabbing their own in the back, especially fairly peaceful Hindus. Nowhere have I seen a sect, except Hindus in India, who take pride in denigrating their own. I protest, and will continue to do so. Find another vocation, and stop it.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||