Krishna tames the 7 bulls (3)

The Paramacharya of Kanchi Shri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi while discussing the differences amongst the Vedas, Vedantas (Upanishads), and Puranas called the Puranas “Bootha-Kannadi” a Tamizh word for “Magnifying Glass” His point being that while the Vedas to a certain extent are ritualistic the Upanishads (also called Vedantas because they occur at the “anta” or end of the Vedas) are metaphysical, spiritual, philosophical and therefore may appeal to only a few sections of the society and to that extent they may be considered elitist. The Puranas on the other hand teach these very same spiritual and philosophical truths through myths, allegories, and stories – the heroes and villains here are larger than life, the demons and Asuras are huge, pot-bellied, with bulbous noses, and of gargantuan proportions. The heroes are mythical, handsome, pristine in character, and no matter what the difficulties always emerge victorious in the end. However, the underlying truths and morals these stories teach are closely related to and/or are similar to that expounded in the Vedas and Vedantas.

While in the Mahabharata, Krishna is portrayed more as a human being with shades of grey along with occasional hints at his divinity, in the Bhagavata he is elevated to the status of the supreme indwelling divinity, the supreme personality of Godhead – it is this dichotomy in characterization that has led to the clash of ideologies between the Rational-Secularists who can’t accept the Krishna of Mahabharata as divine versus the Bhakta (devotee) for whom the supreme personality of Krishna floats like an untainted leaf above the murky waters of the universe…

In all of this, the take home message is this: It all depends on what path you want to take to approach the divinity within – If it is Karma or the path of action, then it is the Vedas. If it is Jnana or the path of the discriminating-intellect and Spirituality then it is Vedanta (Upanishads). If it is Bhakti or devotion then it is the Bhagavata/Puranas. A combination of any of these or all of these is also par for the course.

In this particular story, Krishna travels to the city of Kosala to ask Raja Nagnajit to give his daughter Satya* (also known as Nagnajiti) to him in marriage. Raja Nagnajit however lays a condition that whoever wants to marry his daughter Satya must first tame 7 unruly bulls – these bulls were wild, nasty, uncontrollable beasts that had gored and badly wounded or killed many a brave kshatriya warrior. Krishna agrees without a moment’s hesitation, girds his loins and jumps into the arena. He easily tames the bulls, passes a rope through each of their noses and literally leads them by their noses around the arena and ties them to a large post in the middle of the arena and wins Satya’s hand.

Let’s now see if we can draw some allegorical lesson and/or moral from this story:

Seven (7) is a magic number in religion and spirituality across all religions/sects. In Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, the number 7 is almost ubiquitous (found almost everywhere) – the 7 worlds or planes of existence (Bhu to Satya that appears before the Gayathri Mantra and during Sankalpa), 7 chakras, 7 notes of music, Saptha-padhi (7 steps in marriage), 7 Maha-Nadhis (rivers) and so on. Although several lessons can be drawn from this story, I prefer the following interpretation:

The 7 unruly bulls are symbolic of:

  1. The 5 sense organs / Pancha Jnanendriyas (Shotra = Ears; Chakshu = Eyes; Grahna = Nose; Jihva = Tongue; Tvak = Skin)
  2. The 5 sense perceptions (The corresponding sensory centers in the brain that perceive what the above 5 sense organs gather during their interactions)
  3. The 5 organs of action / Pancha Karmendriyas (Paada = Feet/Legs; Pani = Hands; Payu = Anus/Rectum; Upastha = Genitals; Vak = Mouth/Speech)
  4. Avidya (Ignorance)
  5. Kama-Krodha (Desire-Anger)
  6. Karma (Fruits of action / Expectation)
  7. Vaasanas (Tendencies / Habits)

Control and sublimation of all of the above leads to the revelation of
TRUTH (SATYA) – the ultimate reality

Note: In the South Indian Azhwar (Alwar) tradition, Satya becomes Nappinnai.

Photo Credit/Attribution: http://www.eegai.com/gallery/krishna-64/page-5 (Copyright if any belongs to the owner of the image. Image is not used for any commercial purpose)
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Krishna and his 16,000 wives! (2)

I am going to take up random topics from Krishna’s life (as detailed in the Srimad Bhagavata) and not follow any specific chronological order. Today’s topic discusses the controversy with regard to Krishna’s alleged dalliance with women and him having married 16,000 women at one time:

This particular incident is tied-in with the liberation of Narakasura (I use the word liberation as opposed to killing deliberately) and the 16,000 damsels he had allegedly kept caged in his capital city of Pragjyotisha. In the Srimad Bhagavata, this story occurs in the 10th “Skandha” / Chapter-59 in the form of a story that Sage Suka tells Raja Parikshit. This day is also the day when Deepavali is celebrated in parts of South India (Naraka Chaturdashi)

I make an interpretative re-rendering of the story in order that the true purport and the allegorical significance is clarified:

I had mentioned in an earlier post (Click-here) that the word Asura is an allegorical reference to the “dark forces” within each one of us. Now if you look at the name Narakasura, one can conclude that here was a person who was going through a “living hell” with the dark forces holding sway over his mind and intellect although he lived in the “city of light” (Pragjyotisha)! On top of this not only was Narakasura living in a literal hell of his own making but he also had 16,000 thoughts threatening to break out of the cages in his brain – the reference to the 16,000 damsels is actually a reference to the thoughts running amok in his brain (damsel in distress?).

In the same post referred to above (Click-here), I had said that Vishnu is actually the Atman/soul, the indwelling reality within each person. In this particular story Krishna goes into the fight with Narakasura traveling on Garuda (Vishnu’s vahana/vehicle), carrying the bow “Sharang-Dhanva” (a weapon of Vishnu, this word appears in the Vishnu Sahasranama). Therefore Krishna by assuming the form of Vishnu is actually the Atman/soul here – that is the allegorical conclusion one must draw. The story also mentions that he had by his side his wife Satya (Satyabhama) i.e. Truth by his side and with Truth on his side the Atman wages war on the dark forces that have clouded his/her mind.

When the battle is won all the 16,000 thoughts (damsels) subside and dissolve in the Atman and this lights a lamp in the heart of the “Seer” or the realized person…

There is also one other allegory that is relevant here – In the Chakra-philosophy (notional centers of higher consciousness in the body), the Vishuddha Chakra (Throat Chakra), is depicted as a 16-petalled lotus and the flowering of this chakra is believed to purify the person (in a spiritual sense) and open up higher pathways of sensory perceptions and discrimination and help in the flowering of the 1,000-petalled Sahasrara Chakra in the Brain which is the seat of supreme consciousness (Where Shakthi merges with Shiva).

Now, 16 X 1,000 = 16,000 – an allegorical reference again here in this story to purify the Vishuddha and attain the Sahasrara*

The next time someone refers disparagingly to Krishna and his 16,000 wives perhaps we have a few answers… There is another story connected with this claim of 16,000 wives that has to do with Narada but that shall be the subject matter of a separate post.

 

*Attribution: The seed for the idea with regard to Chakra Philosophy comes from Guruji Amritananda Natha Saraswati whose articles appear on: http://www.themotherdivine.com/index.html

 

 

Krishna the enigma

I am going to be writing a series of posts on Krishna the enigma who has defied all conventional efforts at definition and description. Who was he? Was he a real person? How could one man be so many people?

Lover, Husband, Brother, Father, Son, Yogi, King, Politician, Wrestler par excellence, Flautist extraordinaire, Prophet, Guru, Charioteer, Wielder of the Sudarshana-Chakra (Discus), Milkman, Cowherd, Philosopher, Alchemist, God, Atman/Soul… the list is endless.

The word कृष्ण (Krishna / kRSNa) means “Black” “Dark” “Dark-blue” For example, the dark half of a lunar month (from Full Moon to New Moon – waning phase) is called the Krishna Paksha. The word is also sometimes used to refer to the Kali Yuga. The end of the Krishna avatar/life is also the beginning of the age of Kali or Kali Yuga (432,000 years) – We are in the Prathama Pada (first quarter) of Kali Yuga now.

It is extremely distressing to see some people like Zakir Naik for example, talk disparagingly about Krishna and his 16,000 wives and what is even more discouraging and disappointing is to see Hindus squirm and struggle to come up with a logical/rational explanation for this – I will attempt to answer this and several other questions by making an interpretative, allegorical, and contextual examination of the facts, myths, and stories scattered across the vast landscape of Sanatana Dharma literature.

There is also the question of why Krishna and so many of our Gods are blue in colour. Sri Ramakrishna answered this question that was posed by a Britisher in the most simple but profound way possible – He said:

“Look at the sea, it is blue in colour. Take the water in your cupped-palms and it shall be colourless. The sea is formless but there are places where the water is solidified into ice – so also our Gods are both colourless and with colour, formless and also with form. God comes to the seeker in whatever form the seeker imagines him/her to be…”

Then there is also the question of his androgynous (part-male/part-female; of indeterminate sex) form as depicted in most paintings – be it the long slender arms, the “peak-shift-effect” (exaggerated) of the waist/hips, the diadem of peacock feathers, the gossamer fabric of his dress, the smooth, hairlessness of his skin, and then the contradictory broadness of his shoulders, the muscular arms… Why is he shown like this? Are the scriptures/artists referring to the universal truth that the souls is sexless, neither male or female?

The book that details Krishna’s tumultuous life, The Srimad Bhagavata is by far the most popular of the 18 Mahapuranas. Krishna dominates this purana and strides across it like a colossus. Most of the stories will be taken from here and interpreted with the caveat that there shall be no distortion of the original.

More in the subsequent posts.

 

Cluster of 12 blossoms – द्वादशमञ्जरिका (13) – Sankara summarizes life…

There is a book called the Avadhuta Gita – the “Song of the Ascetic” that describes the futility of material existence, laments how humans while away their time, and exhorts everyone to realize the divinity within each individual – Authored or rather sung by an Avadhuta called Dattatreya it is a long poem with a single message – You are born free, but are caught up in this world. All it requires is for you to realize who “YOU” actually are, then you shall be “TRULY FREE”

The Avadhutas are of many types and have been classified as the “Sky-Clad Yogis” or “Eccentric-Mystics” Generally, Avadhutas are mystical saints who do not conform to what we would call normal social etiquette, often speak in riddles, and live with no consciousness of their body. Almost all religions have had Avadhutas – the mystical sufi bards,  the digambar jains, some Tibetan monks, the Naga sadhus, and some “Nath-Panthis” Recent examples could include the Sai Baba of Shirdi (who is believed to be a Nath-Panthi), Sadasiva Brahmendra (Who authored Pibare Rama-rasam, Manasa-Sancharare), and the first true feminist-saint of the world – Akka Mahadevi (author of the “Vachanas”).

One day Dattatreya while addressing his disciples (whom he called his “children”) used a “metaphorical-simile” of a TREE to show how human beings get caught up in materialism and give up their freedom and before they know it, it is already too late…

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If your ignorance is the tree, then ego is its sprout, from ego springs the trunk of attachment, branches are the relationships, leaves and twigs are the attachments and material wealth you accumulate, virtue and vice are the bitter-sweet flowers and fruits of your actions – Desire for more wealth is the buzzing of the bees which casts a hypnotic spell on your mind which keeps you going morning and night, season after season, and year after year – watering the roots of this tree of desire with no hope of freedom…

In this, the last shloka Sankara talks about how night follows day, and winter follows spring – Time plays its tricks on us even as we keep running on the treadmill of life… When the time comes for the life-breath to leave, we are still trying to run after  trivial things because the winds of desire are too strong… When will you pause to live your life?

The shloka, transliteration, and translation below:

दिनयामिन्यौ सायं प्रातः
शिशिरवसन्तौ पुनरायातः ।
कालः क्रीडति गच्छत्यायु-
स्तदपि न मुञ्चत्याशावायुः
Dinaya-minyau Sayam-Prataha
Shisra-Vasanthau Punarayathaha
Kala-kreeditha Gacchath-vayuhu
Sthadapi Na Munchata-aasha-vayuhu

दिनयामिन्यौ (Everyday) सायं प्रातः (Evening follows night)
शिशिर (Winter) वसन्तौ (Spring) पुनरायातः (Repeat, come-and-go)
कालः क्रीडति (The play of time) गच्छत्यायु- (End of life)
स्तदपि (Then) न (No, Not)  मुञ्चत्याशावायुः (Winds of Desire)

Day follows night and night the day; Winter and Spring come and go. Time plays its tricks on us even as life itself ebbs away… but the winds of desire keep blowing… blowing…

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/usa-america-california-1669704/

Cluster of 12 blossoms – द्वादशमञ्जरिका (12) – Sankara highlights the inscrutable power of maya (illusion)

The word maya often used in Sanatana Dharma is translated as “Illusion” in the English language – this is an incomplete translation. As with most words in Sanskrit, a word used in a particular context can have one import/meaning in that context and another completely or subtly different import/meaning in a different context. The word “Illusion” for Maya best describes Buddhism and its concept of “Maya-Vaada” (the doctrine of illusion) which is the foundational basis of Buddhism – the theory of “shunya” or “negation” or “voiding” (emptying) of all that is material and worldly, and the entering of a state of calmness – in this limited sense, Buddhism could be called an atheistic-agnostic sect.

The Maya of Sanatana Dharma can be better described as a “veiling-power” or the inscrutable power of the divinity inside each individual – where each person is “potentially divine” (Swami Vivekananda) but he/she is separated from his/her own reality by a veil of illusion which needs to be removed for the divinity to shine forth.

There is a story in the Srimad Bhagavata which illustrates the power of Maya. Once Sage Narada and Sri Krishna went out for a walk in Dwarka. Narada kept asking Krishna about the power of Maya. Krishna was initially reluctant but Narada being Narada, was adamant. By this time they  had wandered a long way from the palace. Krishna sat down under a tree and then spoke to Narada “Friend, I will tell you what Maya is, but I am very thirsty, could you first get me a glass of water from that little hut there across the fields?” “Right Away” said Narada and set out across the fields. It was a hot summer day and soon he was exhausted and thirsty himself -he decided that he would ask for two glasses of water instead of one.

He reached the edge of the village and knocked on the door of the first house. The door opened and there stood before him the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Something happened to Narada that had never happened to him before and instead of asking for water he blurted out “Will you marry me?” The couple settled down to a life of conjugal and connubial bliss. They soon had children who were enrolled into the nearest Gurukula (school). Narada worked hard to provide for the family. His days were busy in tilling the land he owned, working at the shop he had set up, and spending the evening with his wife. Soon he became the richest merchant of that village. His children came back from Gurukula, got married and had children. Narada now had grandchildren with whom he and his wife played everyday. He became the patriarch of his family and the headman of the village. One day while sitting in the courtyard of his house he turned to his wife and said “Isn’t this the greatest thing on earth? Watching your grandchildren play?”

Then one day it rained, and rained, and then rained and the river became flooded – it burst across the embankments and washed everything in its wake, away… Narada watched horrified as his wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren, his shop, cattle, the crops and everything he held dear was washed away in the blink of an eye. He screamed “Krishna! Krishna! Krishna!…”

Krishna gently shook Narada awake, smiled and asked him “Have you had your experience of Maya?” Narada saw that he was lying next to Krishna under the same tree and everything that he had experienced was a dream…

In these two shlokas discussed here, Sankara asks us to ponder on how ephemeral and volatile this life is – he says “That which you call your own, that which you take pride in, that for which you give up your today in the fond hope of a better tomorrow, can disappear in the blink of an eye…”

The shlokas, transliteration, and translation below:

वयसि गते कः कामविकारः
शुष्के नीरे कः कासारः ।
क्षीणे वित्ते कः परिवारः
ज्ञाते तत्त्वे कः संसारः ॥
Vayasi Gathe Kaha-Kaama-vikaaraha
Shuske Neere Kaha-Kasaraha
Ksheene Vitthe Kaha-Parivaraha
Nyathe Tattve Kaha-Samsaraha

मा कुरु धनजनयौवनगर्वं
हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम् ।
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा var बुध्वा
ब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा ॥
Maa Kuru Dhana-Jana-Yauvana-Garvam
Harathi-Ni-Meshath-Kala-sarvam
Maya-mayam-idham-Akhilam Hithva
Brahma-padam Tvam Pravisha Vidithva

वयसि (Age) गते (Fled) कः काम (Desire, Passion) विकारः (Malady, Excitement, Contortion)
शुष्के (Dried-up, Shrivelled) नीरे (Water) कः कासारः (Pond, Pool)
क्षीणे (Lost, Emaciated, decayed) वित्ते (Wealth, Gained, Acquired) कः परिवारः (Family, Relatives)
ज्ञाते (Known, Ascertained, Understood) तत्त्वे (Philosophy, Truth) कः संसारः (World)॥

मा कुरु धन (Wealth) जन (People, Friends) यौवन (Youth, Beauty) गर्वं (Pride, Arrogance)
हरति (Flees, Gone) निमेषा (In a second, Blink) त्कालः (Time, Moment) सर्वम् (Entire, All)
मायामयमिदमखिलं  हित्वा (Illusory everything in this world)
ब्रह्मपदं (Brahman, Truth, That path of self-realization) त्वं प्रविश (Engaged in, Entered into, Begun) विदित्वा (Known, Learned, Knowledge, Information)

When your youth is gone, what use is this wealth, you have acquired? Why this ceaseless desire even now? Of what use is a dried-up, parched pond? Where are your relatives now that your wealth is gone? Where is this World when the supreme truth is realized in the heart of your being?

Boast not of your wealth, your friends, your beauty and youth. Remember, all of this will be gone in the blink of an eye. Can’t you see how illusory they are – with you today, with someone yesterday, and with someone else tomorrow. Give up this illusion and enter into the divine nature of your own self and understand the timeless truth of your true nature

Cluster of 12 blossoms – द्वादशमञ्जरिका (11) – Sankara gives us the code to happiness & peace

In this, the 10th shloka Sankara gives us the code to happiness and peace. This shloka also has a unique Construction – the last word of the previous line becomes the first word of the succeeding line forming a sequential chain of words that runs like this: 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 4-5. This constructional elegance would be impossible in the English language and dare I say in any other language. This stanza is testimony not just to Sankara’s mastery of Sanskrit but also an example of the dexterity and beauty of the Sanskrit language.

There is an old story in the Srimad Bhagavata called “The Churning of the Ocean of Milk – Samudra Manthan” – a story that has been the subject of much derision and ridicule by even Hindus without understanding the deep allegorical significance of the story. This story is particularly relevant to this shloka:

This story is set at a time when the Asuras (the dark forces) are in the ascendancy and the Devas (forces of good) are on the decline. The Devas and Asuras both dwell within each one of us as the good/noble versus bad/evil tendencies. Vishnu the Atman/Soul tells the Devas that if they want to get the upper hand then they must churn the “ocean of milk” which refers to our mind/brain in order to get the Amrita (Nectar) of immortality i.e. self-realization/realization of the supreme truth. Vishnu the atman, advises the Devas that initially they have no choice but to have the Asuras also as their allies in the churning and then slowly get rid of them later. The Atman (Vishnu) further advises them to use Mandara mountain as the churning rod and Vasuki the serpent as the rope that would help in turning the rod of Mandara. Mandara here (in my opinion) is a reference to Spinal Cord-Brain where it is believed all spiritual activity/growth occurs – where the 7 notional Chakras or seats of higher consciousness are located. Vasuki again in my opinion represents the nerve plexus‘ that “snake” around the spinal cord and direct the outward action and inner perceptions of our sense organs and their associated centers of perception – and these can be brought under control through the practice of pranayama (special breathing techniques), pratyahara (withdrawal), and meditation. He finally tells them to repose faith in him – the atman/soul and that he would guide them through the entire process provided they didn’t give up and pushed on towards their ultimate goal.

The Asuras and the Devas begin the churning process – initially wild and dangerous animals float to the surface, a reference here to the emergence of our vilest and basest thoughts embedded deep in our psyche. After a brief pleasant period (which is also typical of the meditational process), there emerges the vicious poison Halahala or Kalakuta that threatens to choke and destroy the Devas and Asuras – again an allegorical reference to the great himalayan wall one must surmount to get to the other side. The Devas and Asuras turn to Shiva (the willpower) he who had burnt all desires and applied the ash on his body as Samba-Siva. Shiva swallows the poison a reference to the assertion of the human will essential to sustain progress. After this emerge several pleasant things – a reference here to Siddhis or powers which also need to be rejected before finally emerges Amrita (Nectar). Vishnu, the atman through the veiling power of his maya in the form of Mohini leads the Asuras away and the Devas finally realize the true nature of their own selves – the nectar of their own divinity…

Now to the shloka, transliteration, translation, and purport:

सत्सङ्गत्वे निस्सङ्गत्वं
निस्सङ्गत्वे निर्मोहत्वम् ।
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं
निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्तिः ॥
Satsangatve Nis-sangatvam
Nis-sangatve Nir-mohatvam
Nirmohatve-Nishchalatvam
Nishchalatve Jeevan-muktihi

सत्सङ्गत्वे (Associating with that which is good) निस्सङ्गत्वं (leads to dissociation with that which is bad). निस्सङ्गत्वे (Dissociation, Detachment) निर्मोहत्वम् (Clarity, Free from delusion). निर्मोहत्वे (Clarity) निश्चलतत्त्वं (Steady, Firm, Immovable) निश्चलतत्त्वे (Firm, Immovable) जीवन्मुक्तिः (Freedom, Realization)

When you associate with that which is good; you dissociate yourself from that which is bad/harmful to you. This dissociation/detachment leads you to clarity and frees you from delusion. Clarity breeds a steady, firm immovable resolve that opens the door to Freedom and peace, right here in this very life...”

Cluster of 12 blossoms – द्वादशमञ्जरिका (10) – Sankara asks us to ponder on our true nature

In this the 9th shloka, Sankara asks us to ponder on the Question of who we are and what our true purpose in life is and why we are so possessive in our relationships…

There is an old Buddhist story that is relevant to this shloka – “How to catch a monkey.”

Once upon a time, there lived a monkey who had made a large tree in a forest his home. As with all monkeys, he was extremely naughty and playful – He took great pleasure in teasing a hermit who sat under this tree. As soon as the hermit closed his eyes to meditate, he would throw a twig or an unripe fruit on his head, effectively breaking his concentration. This went on for several months. The hermit tried reasoning with the monkey but in vain. Finally, he decided to teach the monkey a lesson and set him on the right path.

He got an earthen pot with a long slender neck and filled the bottom of this pot with nuts, fruits, and other delicacies. He then placed the pot under the same tree that night and retired to his hermitage. As the sweet fragrance of the goodies reached the monkey’s nostrils he slithered down the tree and sneaked up to the pot, He then thrust his arm into the pot and grabbed a fistfull of the nuts. He now tried to pull his hand out but his fist would not make it through the slender neck of the pot. Now, all he had to do was to let go of the nuts and he would be free, but he wouldn’t or couldn’t. He struggled the whole night – the more he struggled and the more he panicked the worse it became.

Early the next day the hermit came up to the struggling monkey and knocked him on his head twice and told him in a stern voice – “Drop the nuts” The monkey did and the very next moment he could pull his hand free. He looked at the hermit and hung his head in shame. The hermit then told him “Look at yourself, see how your own mind plays tricks on you. Instead of wasting time making fun of others, go and ponder over who you truly are, where did you come from and why do you behave the way you do” The monkey walked away a completely changed individual.

caught-in-a-self-doubt-trap

Source 

In this shloka Sankara asks us to ponder and meditate deeply on the following questions:

Do you know who your wife truly is?
Do you know who your child truly is?
Do YOU know who YOU are?
Do YOU know where YOU came from? 

So many of us are caught up in our own expectations of how we want our spouses to behave with us, our parents and how our children should behave and what they should do with their lives. We are so possessive that we refuse to let go. This is true of parents, husbands, wives, friends, and children – neither do we grow, nor do we let the others grow…Like the monkey we hang on to expectations, perceived insults, and petty misunderstandings…

When we let go, we are truly free and so are they…

Sankara says, mull on these questions my brethren and you shall probably arrive at some clarity. In Sanatana Dharma, marriage and the relationship between husband and wife is a sacrament and not a paper contract. In its true meaning, it is the coming together of the Yin and Yang; the Shiva and Shakthi principles , where the one is incomplete without the other and the two complete each other – in the process helping each other to attain to their true nature. The underlying principle is that each is an unique individual who has to progress towards his/her spiritual goal while helping each other in the process. This is true of children too. To paraphrase Khalil Gibran (the Lebanese mystic/poet) – Children come through us to fulfill their own individual/unique missions and we should not aspire to make them into duplicates of ourselves or try to achieve through them what we could not on our own – What Khalil Gibran said a few decades ago and is often quoted; is in fact the very bedrock on which Sanatana Dharma rests for over 7,000 years…

Now to the shloka, its transliteration, and translation:

का ते कान्ता कस्ते पुत्रः
संसारोऽयमतीव विचित्रः ।
कस्य त्वं कः कुत आयात-
स्तत्त्वं चिन्तय तदिह भ्रातः
Ka-the Kantha Kasthe Putraha
Samsaro-ayam-athiva Vichitraha
Kasya-tvam-kaha Kutha Aayatha
Tathvam  Chinthaya Tadiha  Brathaha

का ते (Who Your) कान्ता (Spouse, Beloved) कस्ते (Who your) पुत्रः (Son)
संसारोऽयमतीव (This world verily) विचित्रः (Strange)
कस्य त्वं (Who are you?) कः कुत (You from where, Whence) आयात (Came)
स्तत्त्वं (True state, First principle, Essential nature) चिन्तय (Ponder, Worry) तदिह (That, Referring to…) भ्रातः (Brethren)

Who is your spouse; who your son/child? Oh! This samsara (mortal world) is indeed very strange. Well, Who are you? Where did you come from? What is your true state? These things, please ponder upon my brethren