Culture, History, Religion

Why did Yudhishthira agree to play the game of dice?

Why did Yudhishthira agree to play the game of dice? The reason that is most often cited is that he had a weakness for the game and couldn’t resist an invite to play the game. This is often used to show Yudhishthira as a weak and gullible fool in the newer re-telling’s  of the Maha Kavya. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While it is true that Dharmaputra did have a weakness for the game on top of being unskilled at it, he however did not jump at the opportunity to match wits against someone of the caliber of Sakuni who was the undisputed master of the game and had an uncanny knack of always winning against any opponent through means fair and foul. To assist him were three brothers of Duryodhana – Vivimsati, Purumitra, and Chitrasena all three, experts at the game. It was an unequal contest with the dice loaded against Yudhishthira right from the beginning. So, why did he agree to the contest. Was it just his “lust” for the game?

A deeper reading of the Mahabharata informs us that Yudhishthira not only knew what was at stake but actually did not want to get into this game. He knew that it was sure to end in utter ruin for himself and the Pandavas but also for the entire Kuru race.

As Kisari Mohan Ganguly’s notes in his voluminous translation (into English) of the Mahabharata:

“…Yudhishthira said,–‘O Kshatta (Vidura), if we sit to a match at dice, we may quarrel. What man is there, who knowing all this, will consent to gamble? What dost thou think fit for us? We all are obedient to thy counsels.’

‘It would seem then that some of the most desperate and terrible gamblers always depending upon deceit are there. This whole universe, however, is at the will of its Maker, under the control of fate. It is not free. O learned one, I do not desire, at the command of king Dhritarashtra to engage myself in gambling.

Unwilling as I am to gamble, I will not do so, if the wicked Sakuni doth not summon me to it in the Sabha? If, however, he challengeth me, I will never refuse. For that, as settled, is my eternal vow.”

Like some brilliant body falling before the eyes, Fate depriveth us of reason, and man, tied as it were with a cord, submitteth to the sway of Providence,

Kamala Subramaniam’s Mahabharata also has this passage:

To a certain extent Yudhishthira could guess the consequences of the game of dice… He told Vidura (when he came to know who he would be up against): “The cleverest of the players have been selected. I am weak at the game, and Sakuni is a veritable wizard at throwing the dice. But, what can I do? All that happens in the World has been ordained by the Creator. What can we do when Fate has already planned the way in which events must take place? I am helpless. The King (Dhritarashtra) knows my principle that I will never disobey the commands of my elders. This Kingdom of mine does not belong to Dhritarashtra, and I am  not bound to obey him… but my uncle has sent for me; he knows that I will not disobey him even if I can afford to…”

I hate to play the game of dice knowing that it leads to evil. But it is the unwritten law that elders must be obeyed. It is also the rule among kshatriyas that one must play when one is invited to play. He must not refuse. Knowing these things, my uncle has sent for me; he knows that I will not disobey him even if I can afford to. Let fate have her way. I will accompany you to the hated city, Hastinapura.”

Further, just before this invite, Yudhishthira had conducted the Rajasuya Yagna where Sishupala was killed by Krishna. Evil omens and portents had been witnessed by all who had assembled there that day and Vyasa had confirmed to Yudhishthira that this was only the beginning and the next 14 years would be terrible for the Pandavas and that would be followed by a terrible internecine war that would cause the destruction of almost the entire Kuru race. Yudhisthira had decided then that he would do nothing to provoke anyone within the extended family in order that such an event must never come to pass. This was also on his mind

Therefore there were several reasons besides his fondness/weakness for gambling. In fact given a choice he would have rejected the invite but he could not or would not because:

  1. He would never disobey his elders
  2. Kshatriya rules dictated that he could not reject the invite without being called a coward
  3. He knew that fate and God’s will were setting the wheels in motion
  4. His desire and love for the game was the last and least of the reasons.

Game-of-dice

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Culture, History, Religion

HANUMAN AND HIS GREAT LEAP (SUNDARA KANDA)

hanuman-great-leap

To me this is the most important and inspirational moment in the great kavya. Without this epochal event, this magnificent leap, there would be no Ramayana, Sita would never have been rescued and Rama would surely have lost his way.

Symbolically too, as my Guru often says this is a moment that comes to everyone in his/her “Quest” and it is then that a leap such as this must be made with the strength of Shraddha and the Sankalpa of a determined will one must take the plunge – that great “Qunatum leap” into the unknown as Swami Vivekananda called it…

// Hanuman looked like a wild bull with his powerful neck stretched to the full and looking upwards. He was to achieve what no one had till then…. He saluted the Gods presiding over the quarters – Surya, Indra, Vayu, and Brahma. He then turned to the East and saluted his father, Vayu. With his mind he saluted the valiant brothers Rama and Lakshmana. He then made obeisance to the seas and to the rivers. Hanuman embraced his companions and made up his mind to set out on the memorable journey.

He shook himself and roared and it was like the rumbling of a thunder cloud. He swung his large tail in the air and the tail looked like an immense snake pulled by Garuda. He placed his two hands on the surface of the rock on which he stood. He shrunk his waist and folded his legs. He then thrust out his neck and so he stood poised for the flight into the air. He looked far and held his breath. He turned to the monkeys and said:

“I will go straight to Lanka as an arrow which is released from the bow of Rama. If I do not find Sita there I will go to the heavens and look for her there. If she is not found even there I will return to Lanka and bring Ravana with me, bound hand and foot. I will somehow return with success. I may even uproot the city and bring it with me. I WILL SUCCEED.”

Thinking that he was Garuda himself the great Hanuman jumped up with great force. Because of the speed of his course, the trees on the mountain were pulled up with their roots. With the flowering trees rushing along with him Hanuman entered the skies. The trees went with him some distance and it seemed as though they were well-wishers who went with him some distance to make the journey fruitful. The sea was now a mass of flowers from the trees which had fallen into it after accompanying the great Hanuman some distance.

Hanuman coursed through the sky like a thunder cloud driven by the air…//

– Kamala Subramniam, Valmiki Ramayana

Every time I read this a divine thrill courses down my spine. This is the determination, this is the shraddha, this is the sankalpa that each one of us needs…

अतुलितबलधामं हेमशैलाभदेहं
दनुजवनकृशानुं ज्ञानिनामग्रगण्यम् ।
सकलगुणनिधानं वानराणामधीशं
रघुपतिप्रियभक्तं वातात्मजं नमामि ॥


Image Source: https://wiralfeed.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/hanuman-fact/
Culture, History

THE EVER ABIDING IDEA OF BHARATAVARSHA

I make it a habit on most days to read to my daughter just before her bedtime. Though I read to her from a wide range of books, presently the reading sessions are on Rajaji’s Mahabharata.

Jarasandha has just been killed by Bhima and Jarasandha’s son is the new king of Magadha but he has sworn allegiance to Indraprastha. Yudhishtra is planning the Rajasuya to proclaim himself Emperor. Indraprastha is shining in all its glory and the kings from all corners of Bharatavarsha have come to the great central hall and assembled there – all of them acquiescing kings attending in token acknowledgement of Yudhishtra’s supremacy over the lands of Bharathavarsha. The discussion centers around who should be the “Guest of Honor” Bhishma is unequivocal in his assertion that the only person deserving of this honor is Sri Krishna. A smile is playing upon Sri Krishna’s face and the two exchange a quick glance. Both of them know that they are avatara purushas – one here to redefine and re-establish the Dharma and the other to show that it is possible to live exactly in accordance with the Shastras. This is where we are at now and we look forward to continuing our journey together tonight…

Interestingly, it is here that Rajaji slips in a wonderful paragraph which alludes to the abiding idea of Bharathavarsha an idea that is a slap on the face of all those leftists who keep insisting that India was never one country but rather many small warring pieces. That little paragraph below:

//THE INDIA OF THOSE DAYS CONSISTED OF A NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT STATES. THOUGH, THERE WAS ONE DHARMA AND ONE CULTURE THROUGHOUT THE LAND, THE AUTONOMY OF EACH STATE WAS SCRUPULOUSLY RESPECTED. OCCASIONALLY SOME STRONG AND AMBITIOUS MONARCH WOULD SEEK THE ASSENT OF COMPEERS TO HIS OVER-LORDSHIP WHICH WOULD BE SOMETIMES GIVEN WITHOUT QUESTION. AFTER RECEIVING THIS ASSENT HE WOULD PERFORM A GRAND RAJASUYA SACRIFICE, WHICH ALL THE ACQUIESCING KINGS WOULD ATTEND IN TOKEN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HIS SUPREMACY. //

India is but a 70 year young identity. Bharatavarsha on the other hand is the abiding idea of one people, one dharma, one shared legacy. Let no one forget that…

sisupala


Image courtesy: https://whatalotofbirds.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/maghas-shishupala-vadha-the-most-complex-poem-ever-created-sanskrit-poetry-krishna-mahabharata/

Culture, History, Religion

NO COMPROMISE. SIRF MANDIR BANEGA WAHAN

I was a student when the Babri Masjid was brought down. It was also the time when I was shaking off the effects of 12 years of brainwashing at a Christian mission school and was slowly understanding what had been done to the Hindus as a people, as a civilization, and as a culture.

As I revisited History and read about the depredations and humiliation that had been wrought upon my ancestors I was shocked to say the least. I had never been taught all of this at School or College and therefore it came as a shock and a revelation.

More importantly it made me go back to my roots and re-examine my own connection with the tenets of my own Dharma. Dec 6, 1992 is therefore one of the most important days in my life.

It showed that a more assertive and a stronger Hindu who fights for his/her rights is the need of the hour, someone who would be uncompromising, firm, and clear in his/her vision that he/she is the legatee of the greatest culture the world has ever known. This land, this Karmabhoomi -Bharata is the only place now where this culture still flourishes (however distorted or diluted). It is our collective duty to preserve, recharge, and hand over to the next generation.

In this context, I read an article yesterday which talked about how Tulsidas had made no mention of the demolition of a Temple. It was written by a “nominal” Hindu, the kind who are deracinated and ashamed of their own roots.

Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya, considered the foremost authority on Tulsidas has however cited verses from two works composed by Tulsidas which, in his opinion, are relevant to the dispute. The first citation consisted of eight verses from a work called Dohā Śataka, which describe the destruction of a temple and construction of a mosque at the disputed site in 1528 CE by the Mughal ruler Babar who had ordered General Mir Baqui to destroy the “temple of the infidels” – the temple dedicated to Maryada Purushottam Rama

Below is a snapshot from that “Doha Sataka” where Tulsidas talks poignantly of how these barbarians came and destroyed this Ram temple. See highlighted portions in the photo below. It is takea from this PDF available at this link (http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/…/ay…/honsaj-vol-4.pdf) which was part of the evidence submitted to the court. Please do download and read the entire PDF.

Ramjanmabhoomi-Tulsi-shatak

#MANDIRWAHINBANAYENGE #WAHANSIRFMANDIRBANEGA#JAISHRIRAM

Culture, History, Religon, Spirituality

SATYAKAMA JABALA – THE SEEKER OF TRUTH & THE KEY ROLE WOMEN PLAY IN INSTILLING VALUES & RESPECT FOR THE DHARMA

In the Chandogya Upanishad one reads the story of Satyakama, the son of Jabala. Satyakama was brought up by Jabala a single-mother (yes during the vedic times, so there is nothing new about single-mothers now). No one knew who his father was. Interestingly, neither did Jabala herself.

Jabala was a very good mother and she instilled all the right values in Satyakama. She particularly taught him the importance of speaking the truth at all times and Satyakama took this to heart and imbibed it fully.

As Satyakama grew up into a young lad, he saw that all the other boys in the neighbourhood and even his friends were enrolling themselves into the Gurukula and Satyakama was also very keen to get himself admitted into a Gurukula.

As per the practice then, a boy desirous of getting into a Gurukula had to state his Kula, Gotra, father’s name, essentially his lineage. He walked up to his mother and told her about his desire to join the Gurukula and asked her to tell him his father’s name and his lineage.

His mother replied “Son, I have worked at many places, served many people, and lived at many places. You were born when I was young and I honestly don’t know who your father is. She went on “You can go to the Gurukula and when the Guru asks you, tell him this – I am Satyakama, the son of Jabala and I am interested in acquiring knowledge”

Satyakama walked to the Gurukula and stood before Rishi Haridrum Gowthama and when questioned by the Rishi, stated the exact words that his mother had taught him. The Rishi Gowthama looked at the young boy for a moment and then smiled. He said “You are truly a boy from a very high Gothra/Kula. Only someone born to great parents can speak thus. From today you shall be my son, let us first perform your upanayana and then we shall start your Vidyabyasa.”

This story illustrates the key role women play in protecting and nurturing the Dharma and also how important it is for them to instill the values of our Dharma into children.

In the concluding section of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, called the “Vamsha-Brahmana” there is a listing of the “Gurus” who have protected and taught the Upanishad over the years along with their lineage. In this list, for many Rishis only their Mother’s name is mentioned. There is no mention of a father’s name. The list of mother’s names is fairly long, showing how much importance was accorded to women in the Dharma.

Adi Sankara in his commentary on this Upanishad notes in his typical clear and pithy style “The mother it is who determines the character of a person. All these Gurus mentioned in the Upanishad are truly of impeccable character – It is perhaps because of this that only the names of their mother’s is mentioned here…”

satyakama

This story also brings out two key points:

  1. It shows what qualities are important for a student – he/she should be truthful and he must have within him this thirst for acquiring knowledge.
  2. The Guru must be willing to teach any student who is desirous of learning and acquiring knowledge – that should be the most important criterion and all other factors such as caste, lineage etc. are not really that important.
Culture, History, Spirituality

SRI AUROBINDO’S UTTARPARA SPEECH AND HINDU NATIONALISM

Soon after Sri Aurobindo was released from his one-year incarceration he gave what was at that time and still remains an epochal speech – famous as the Utarrpara speech. In that speech, Sri Aurobindo laid out his plan both the spiritual and the political.

The impact of the words he uttered on that day had an extraordinary effect on all those who heard him. People threw flowers and jasmine garlands and a huge heap of these flowers fell all around the table and the dais. Sri Aurobindo as was his habit walked away leaving the pile of garlands as is. People jumped on stage to pick up garlands that had touched the body of Sri Aurobindo as a token of the divinity and pregnant import of that moment...

What he said that day is particularly relevant in today’s troubled times when the Gov’t we reposed faith in has done precious little to further the cause of the Hindus and you have Christian pastors asking people to vote against the “FORCES OF NATIONALISM.” and deracinated “Din I ILahi’s” (borrowed from Sri Rohit Arya) poking fun at women who sacrificed their lives to protect their and their family’s honour…

//Excerpts//

We are the descendants of those who performed Tapasya and underwent unheard-of austerities for the sake of spiritual gain… We are the children of those MOTHERS WHO ASCENDED WITH A SMILE THE FUNERAL PYRE that they may follow their husbands to another world.

When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for the SANATANA DHARMA that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. TO MAGNIFY THE RELIGION MEANS TO MAGNIFY THE COUNTRY.

What is this religion which we call Sanatan, eternal ? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas…

That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God.

It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva.

It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death.

Aurobindo-Acquital
Soon after his acquital

#HINDURASHTRA


Image Source: http://savitri.in/library/resources/sanatana-dharma/may-30-2009

 

History

BHAWANI MANDIR – SRI AUROBINDO; BARINDRA KUMAR GHOSH; 1905-1906; BARODA

July 20, 1905 the colonial government announced the partition of Bengal. The announcement was made by the then Viceroy of India Lord Curzon and proposed to separate the muslim-majority East from the Hindu-majority West, with Dhaka and Kolkata as the respective capitals.

This led to tremendous agitation all across India and particularly in Bengal. Sri Aurobindo at that time was in Baroda but active in the revolutionary movement that wanted to overthrow the British government. From Baroda, he wrote to the revolutionary workers in Bengal “This is a fine opportunity. Carry on the anti-partition agitation powerfully. We will get many workers for the movement.” He also wrote and sent a pamphlet titled “No compromise” Not a single printing press in Bengal would print it, so it was typeset secretively in a friend’s house and a few 1000 distributed by hand.

This was also the time when Sri Aurobindo wrote the famous revolutionary booklet “Bhawani Mandir.” Although Sri Aurobindo wrote it, the idea for the booklet and indeed for the creation of a Bhawani Mandir which would be located in a forest on a mountain-top, where workers would dedicate themselves to the cause of India’s freedom in the spirit of complete renunciation and sharanagati to the great mother “Shakti” to that “Chandika / Bhawani” was Barindra Kumar Ghosh’ (Sri Aurobindo’s youngest brother) idea. 

Barindra Kumar Ghosh (Barin); 1880-1959 was very active in the revolutionary movement in Bengal and worked closely with Bagha Jatin (Jatindranath Mukherjee). Barin and Bagha Jatin recruited many young revolutionaries from across Bengal and formed the Maniktala group in Maniktala, Kolkata, a secret godown for manufacturing bombs which also served as a store for arms and ammunition.

In 1908 Khudiram and Prafulla two young revolutionaries attached to the Maniktala group failed in their attempt to kill Kingsford, the Chief Magistrate of the Calcutta Presidency (who was infamous for inflicting harsh and severe punishment on even young boys who were part of the revolution).

Khudiram Bose who was arrested and subsequently tried and sentenced to death was only 18 years old when he was hanged to death. The British Newspaper “The Empire” noted that “Khudiram Bose was executed this morning…It is alleged that he mounted the scaffold with his body erect. He was cheerful and smiling.”

Prafulla the other young revolutionary took his own life when he ran out of bullets in a standoff with the British police (I will write about these two in a separate post).

The investigations that followed this assasination attempt led to the arrest of Barin Ghosh on 2 May 1908, along with many of his comrades. The trial (known as the Alipore Bomb Case) initially sentenced Barin Ghosh to death. However, the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, and Barin was deported to the Cellular Jail in Andaman in 1909. He was released only in 1920 after 11 long years in one of the worst detention camps in history. His detention was not like that of the false heroes – Gandhi and Nehru spending their time in relative comfort even when under arrest – writing letters, books, and chatting with friends and prison staff.

Barin Ghosh later became a journalist and was even associated with “The Statesman” before he also followed his brother into spirituality. He died in 1959.

How many remember Barin Ghosh, or for that matter Khudiram or Prafulla? That is what was done to our history by the leftists and communists who usurped control over educational institutions in a Quid pro quo with the Congress and specifically Indira Gandhi – intellectual power to the Left and Political power to the Congress

Below is a passage from the booklet “Bhawani Mandir” which not only reflects the sorry and rotten state of the Hindus today but should (hopefully) also serve as a source of inspiration to take the fight forward. For, although the battle to reclaim our culture maybe lost for now, the war is still to be won and we shall prevail. That is how we Hindus are – it is the few, the committed who have kept the flame burning and so shall it be even now.

OUR KNOWLEDGE IS A DEAD THING FOR WANT OF SHAKTI
—————————————————————————————————
//QUOTE//
Is it knowledge that is wanting? We Indians, born and bred in a country where Jnana has been stored and accumulated since the race began, bear about in us the inherited gains of many thousands of years. Great giants of knowledge rise among us even today to add to the store. Our capacity has not shrunk, the edge of our intellect has not been dulled or blunted, its receptivity and flexibility are as varied as of old. But it is a dead knowledge, a burden under which we are bowed, a poison which is corroding us, rather than as it should be a staff to support our feet and a weapon in our hands; for this is the nature of all great things that when they are not used or are ill used, they turn upon the bearer and destroy him.

Our knowledge then, weighed down with a heavy load of Tamas, lies under the curse of impotence and inertia. We choose to fancy indeed, nowadays, that if we acquire Science, all will be well. Let us first ask ourselves what we have done with the knowledge we already possess, or what have those who have already acquired Science been able to do for India. Imitative and incapable of initiative, we have striven to copy the methods of England, and we had not the strength; we would now copy the methods of the Japanese, a still more energetic people; are we likely to succeed any better? The mighty force of knowledge which European Science bestows is a weapon for the hands of a giant, it is the mace of Bheemsen; what can a weakling do with it but crush himself in the attempt to wield it?
//UNQUOTE//