Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Questions on the Tripura Myth: Construction and Settlement

The Tripura is one of the mind-boggling architectural structures mentioned in the Puranas such as Shiva Purana, Vishnu Purana, and Skanda Purana. The Tripura was not a single structure but three independent structures made of iron (or bronze?), silver and gold. The Puranas describe them as splendid cities floating in the sky. The architect, Mayasura has been praised for the grandeur of these cities and has been described as the major achievement of the Asuras[1] (humankind?). The destruction of the city, too has been detailed. Lord Shiva using grand chariot, bow and a nuclear-like weapon called the Pashupatastra brings an end to the magnificient cities as well as the Asuras.

My aim here, though is not to feed the readers with the Puranic stories. I have been thinking about the story for some days regularly now (I have my own reasons for contemplation) and suddenly I came to think over the process by which the Tripura was built. It is not only about defying the gravity. There are many other things that seem unachievable that the Asuras achieved by constructing the Tripura. Yet the more I think of it, the crazier it gets. How could the Tripura have been made?

I have presented my questions point-wise and will try to explain them as simply as I can. They are in the chronological order as they appear during the construction and inhabitation of the Tripura. I have not presented any question on the destruction of the three cities. That may make up another article.


Question 1. Who did the penance to please Lord Brahma?

Every version story of the Tripura begins with a penance by three Asuras. But there is no unanimity upon who the penants were. One version tells that they were the sons of Tarak- Tarakaksh, Kamalaksh and Vidyunmali- after Tarak died in the battle from the hands of Kartikeya. The other version presents Tarak himself as the penant along with Maya (mentioned as Mayasura above) and Vidyunmali. Which of the trios pleased Brahma? This question is important to check whether the story we have known is a history or a myth. Had there been a single group of three penants, the story would be consistent. The two groups adds inconsistency and also loses the story's stance as a history. It becomes more inclined towards myth. [2]

Question 2. Where were the cities made?

This is the most difficult question I have come through. There are three possibilities. Within each possibilities, there are also problems which seem to have been overlooked (or I may not have understood).
The first possibility is that the Tripura was made on land. But the Tripura was a floating city- almost like the modern-day International Space Station. (Even grander!) How were three cities established to orbit around the earth. Yeah, their timing must have been different because they were on three different levels. But to establish a city on space, the Asuras must have launched a rocket and with precise calculations set them. Because Maya, Brahma and Shukra were on their side during construction, we can assume that they achieved the feat, but the Earth had been scoured by the Deva-Asura war. There was no chance the Devas would let the Asuras make such huge structures with ease. With the Earth under their rule, Asuras have been said to have resorted to the Patal, the Underworld. Construction of three grand structures on land seems difficult.

So, we move to the second possibility- the sky. If you are making something that floats on space, why not make it on space? But let's observe the modern trend. Do we make satellites on the space or on the land? Obviously, building satellites on sky would be difficult because of the huge number of materials needed to be transported up above the escape velocity. A huge consumption of fuel and time. Also, building anything on space would require huge amount of oxygen supply, and good insulation of workers against the solar flares. Could the A sure have obtained it? Building castle on space is even more difficult that building it on air. And they made three. The possibility of the Tripura being built on sky seems thinner than the atmosphere there.

The third possibility is that the cities were made in Patal. They were shot up in the sky and were fixed on their orbit.The problems mentioned on the first two possibilities are still prevalent.

To have built such grand structures without the intervention of the Devas would be an almost impossible feat. The Asuras did it brilliantly. And that is the biggest wonder ever[3].


Question 3. How did the residents of the Tripura reach there?

The Puranas not only describe the construction but also the settlement. A huge numbers of humans including Asuras, Manusyas, Apsaras, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Nagas are said to have lived there. How Maya and his contemporaries provided their need of oxygen and food is the question that actually troubled me. Without the mention of some device that helped them breathe and control gravity, the settlement would be too difficult. How did such a huge number of people migrate to the Tripura? Did they have spacecraft? Of what sizes? Also, the three penants ruled upon the cities. What did they use to travel between the cities? Transportation would be simpler with Vimanas (aircrafts/spacecrafts) but the number of people who lived there must have required a huge number of them. Who would have mass produced them? Maya and his team of scientists? That's a faint light of hope if I would be taken to the mythological Tripura. Everything else looks an almost impossible feat to me.

[N.B.: 1. The Asuras do not necessarily mean evil neither do Devas always mean good. In fact, Indra, Agni, Vayu (Devas) have been called Asuras in the Rig Veda.

2. I disagree with the popular belief that Vyas was the writer of all the Puranas. One person would not have made the mistake of writing different names of the Trios that pleased Brahma. Either the stories were modified with time or  the Sage made a mistake unknowingly.

3. The Tripura was not just an architectural marvel but it was also (and is till date) an advanced technological achievement (considering Puranas speak history). Else it was the best thing that could be imagined by the writer (Vyas?) of the story.

4. No city can flourish without human settlement and their activities. A lot of resources are needed to sustain lives. How they were provided would provided in a satellite city could be a topic of debate.

5. This article is in fact an arrow in the darkness. I may not get an answer here. Yet, it is a beginning and I expect someone to go through this article and begin questioning on the things that they might have overlooked in the story. I also expect(with rare probability) the logical and more scientific answers to these questions. That means, divinity will be out of the equation. "Divine interference/involvement" is an answer that kills our reasoning abilities.]


i. http://www.apamnapat.com

ii. http://talesfrommythology.blogspot.nl

iii. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripura_(mythology)

iv. Shree Swasthani Vrat Katha (A part of Magh Mahatmya of Skanda Purana)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kaikeyi -- the Mother

In my last post (it seems to have appeared almost a year ago!), I had written about Kaikeyi's mother and how Sumantra, the Kosal Minister had accused her of being like her mother. In this post, I am going to investigate the motherly nature of Kaikeyi and how she suffered an unpleasant fate out of that love.

Manthara and Kaikeyi 

When King Dashrath declares the coronation of Ram, Kaikeyi is elated. Seeing this, Manthara says:

मनसा प्रहसामि त्वां देवि दुःखार्धिता सती |
यच्छोचितव्ये हृष्टासि प्राप्येदं व्यसनं महत् || २-८-३
शोचामि दुर्मतित्वं ते का हि प्राज्ञा प्रहर्षयेत् |
अरेः सपत्नीपुत्रस्य वृद्धिं मृत्युमिवागताम् || २-८-४
भरतादेव रामस्य राज्यसाधारणाद्भयम् |
तद्विचिन्त्य विषण्णास्मि भय भीताद्धि जायते || २-८-५

(Oh, queen! Though stricken with grief, I mentally laugh at you in that you are rejoicing at the time when a great calamity is befalling you. I am lamenting over your foolish mind. Does any intelligent woman feel happy over the prosperity of a stepson who is considered an enemy? Does it not amount to praising a befalling death? Rama has a fear about Bharata because Bharata has equal rights over the kingdom. In thinking about this matter, I am getting anguished. Do we not get disasters from those who are afraid of us?)

She adds:
विदुषः क्षत्रचारित्रे प्राज्ञस्य प्राप्तकारिणः |
भयात्प्रवेपे रामस्य चिन्तयन्ती तवात्मजम् || २-८-८
Kaikeyi asking for her boons. Source: Wikipedia

(Rama is a learned man and a political statesman. His actions are timely and appropriate. When thinking of your son's calamity to be resulted from Rama, I get shaken with fear.)

In reply, Kaikeyi says:

धर्मज्ञो गुरुभिर्दान्तः कृतज्ञ सत्यवाक्चुचि |
रामो राज्ञः सुतो ज्येष्ठो यौवराज्यमतोऽर्हति || २-८-१४

(Rama knows all righteousness. Elders trained him. He has a proper gratitude. He speaks truth. He has a clean conduct. He is the eldest son of king Dasaratha and hence eligible for the kingdom.)

She believes that there is no difference between Ram and Bharat. She thinks that coronation of Ram would be equivalent to coronation of Bharat. Manthara calls this stupid and convinces Kaikeyi that only one of the four sons would be crowned. And that one Prince, she suggests, should be Bharat.

Kaikeyi, who had never thought that way before(- according to the Valmiki Ramayan), now thinks of Bharat, who has stayed in Ayodhya (capital of Kosal) the least among the four brothers. Bharat has spent most of his childhood at his maternal uncle's abode, unknown of the most affairs in Ayodhya. The news of coronation had not reached him yet. Now, she perceives that Bharat had been kept away from the 'power politics' of Ayodhya by Dashrath for long. With the advise from Manthara, she asks for two (most popular) boons to the King: coronation of Bharat and fourteen years of exile to Ram.

Ram's Response

When Ram comes to know that the King has been unconscious for a reason he did not know then, he meets Sumantra. He knows of the boons asked by his step-mother Kaikeyi and meeting her, says:

एवम् अस्तु गमिष्यामि वनम् वस्तुम् अहम् तु अतः |
जटा चीर धरः राज्ञः प्रतिज्ञाम् अनुपालयन् || २-१९-२

(Let it be, as you said it. I shall fulfil the king's promise, go to the forest from here to reside there, wearing braided hair and covered with a hide.)

He then leaves the palace and the kingdom to reside into the dreaded forest of Dandak. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshman follow him. Lakshman not only exiles himself but also departs from his wife, Urmila.

Bharat's response 

When Bharat returns from his uncle's, King Dashrath has passed away. He asks his mother Kaikeyi what had happened to Dashrath and where had Ram gone. Kaikeyi explains all she had done to crown him. Bharat accuses and curses her:

कुलस्य त्वम् अभावाय काल रात्रिर् इव आगता |
अन्गारम् उपगूह्य स्म पिता मे न अवबुद्धवान् || २-७३-४
भ्रूणहत्याम् असि प्राप्ता कुलस्य अस्य विनाशनात् |
कैकेयि नरकम् गच्च मा च भर्तुः सलोकताम् || २-७४-४

(You came for destruction of our race, like the night of destruction coming at the end of the world. My father could not be aware of his embracing a live char-coal to his bosom. O, Kaikeyi! You got the sin of killing an embryo because of the destruction of this race. O, Kaikeyi! Go to hell. Do not get the residence in the same heaven as your husband.)
He also vows that he would bring Ram back to the kingdom. When he fails to do so, he asks for Ram's kharau (sandals) and places them upon the throne. Unlike what most of us think, he does not rule the kingdom. He, instead lives the life of the hermit, Shatrughna actually ruling the kingdom in Ram's name.

How Bharat lived has been described in the Yuddha Kaanda. After the victory of Ram in the great war against Ravan, Hanuman goes off to convey message of Ram to Bharat. This is what he sees:       
क्रोशमात्रे त्वयोध्यायाश्चीरकृष्णाजिनाम्बरम् || ६-१२५-२९
ददर्श भरतं दीनं कृशमाश्रमवासिनम् |
जटिलं मलदिग्धाङ्गं भ्रातृव्यसनकर्शितम् || ६-१२५-३०
फलमूलाशिनं दान्तं तापसं धर्मचारिणम् |
समुन्नतजटाभारं वल्कलाजिनवाससं || ६-१२५-३१
नियतं भावितात्मानं ब्रह्मर्षिसमतेजसं |
पादुके ते पुरस्कृत्य शासन्तं वै वसुन्धराम् || ६-१२५-३२
चतुर्वर्ण्यस्य लोकस्य त्रातारं सर्वतो भयात् |
उपस्थितममात्यैश्च शुचिभिश्च पुरोहितैः || ६-१२५-३३
बलमुख्यैश्च युक्तैश्च काषायाम्बरधारिभिः |

(At a distance of two miles from Ayodhya Hanuman  saw Bharata, living in a hermitage, with the bark trees and the skin of a black antelope wrapped round his waist, looking miserable and emaciated, wearing matted locks on his head, his limbs coated with dirt, afflicted through separation from Rama his elder brother, subsisting on roots and fruits, with his senses subdued, engaged in austerities, protecting virtue, with a very high head of matted hair, covering his body with the bark of trees and a deer skin, disciplined, whose thoughts were fixed on the Supreme Spirit, with a splendour equalling that of a Brahmanical sage, ruling the earth after placing the wooden sandals before him, protecting the people belonging to all the four grades (viz. Brahmans Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras) from all peril and attended by the upright ministers, priests and by clever troop-commanders, all clad in saffron robes.)

Kaikeyi's Failure

In all these, we can see the failure of Kaikeyi as a mother and as a wife. Her love for Bharat proved worthless as he not only rejected the throne but also cursed her as the destroyer of the race. Her demands became curse to King Dashrath, who died after Ram was exiled. Almost every Hindus, who are acquainted with the Ramayan, hate her for being cruel towards Ram and her husband.

My Personal Opinion

As I have read somewhere in the web, Ram would not have been Ram if he had not been exiled. Without those adventures, the Ramayan would have completed at the end of Book I - the Bal Kanda, where the four Princes, after their marriages, would have 'lived happily ever after'. It is Kaikeyi, who sends Ram to the forest and gives him an opportunity to know himself. 

Even after being sent to the forest, Ram never stops praising Kaikeyi. I personally believe that Kaikeyi had instructed Ram to go to the forest of Dandak because it was the border between Kosal and Lanka. Dandak had been strategically used by Ravan to threaten Kosal and its allies. Ram was a valiant warrior, who could sneak into the forest along with Lakshman to slowly destroy the Demon army of Ravan. The only setback was Sita's kidnapping but that too, proved its worth for Ram. Kaikeyi never hated Ram. The boons she had asked were due to insecurities sprouted by the words of Manthara. In that sense, I believe that Kaikeyi showed that she was a worthy mother.

*N.B.: The Sanskrit slokas and there translations have been derived from www.valmikiramayan.net   

(P.S.: The words of Manthara have been described as evil, even by Valmiki. I don't think so. Words which made Ram a Lord from a common man, cannot be evil at all!)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kaikeyi's Mother

Kaikeyi, the Queen of Ayodhya, was once accused of being like her mother by the Chief Minister Sumantra. The accusation had come after he saw King Dashrath lying unconscious on the floor. Queen Kaikeyi had asked for the well known boons and the king had fallen victim of the queen's wishes.

The accusation of Sumantra

अभिजात्यम् हि ते मन्ये यथा मातुस्तथैव च |
न हि निम्बात्स्रवेत्क्षौद्रम् लोके निगदितम् वचः || २-३५-१७

 तव मातुरसद्ग्राहम् विद्मः पूर्वम् यथाश्रुतम् |
पितुस्ते वरदः कश्चिद्ददौ वरमनुत्तमम् || २-३५-१८
सर्वभूतरुतम् तस्मात्सम्जज्ञे वसुधाधिपः |
तेन तिर्यग्गतानाम् च भूतानाम् विदितम् वचः || २-३५-१९

"I think, by birth your nature is as exactly as that of your mother. a proverb is quoted in the world saying that honey does not ooze from a neem tree.We know, as heard of in the past, your mother's conduct of evil satisfaction. Someone capable of giving boons, granted a great boon to your father. By that boon he could identify the language of all created beings. The talk of those beings belonging to sub human species could be known by him."
(Source: www.valmikiramayan.net)

The Chief Minister of Ayodhya is in fury because of what the queen did to her husband. The king is unconscious upon the floor and the queen is occupied in her own aim of political victory. He says, "I knew this would happen. The genetic influence has pronounced itself. You have become like your mother."

Kaikeyi's Mother

Kaikeyi's mother, the wife of King Ashwapati of Kekaya was a happy woman until that unfortunate day when she heard her husband laughing over something. A natural curiosity made her ask the king the cause of his laughter. He refused to tell her anything saying that if he revealed the cause he would die. The queen said, "I don't think anything will happen to you. So please tell me, why you were laughing."

Enraged, the king went to pay visit to the sage who had granted him the boon of understanding the language of all animals. "But be careful not to reveal anything you listen to," the sage had warned, "Else you will die."

After the meeting with the sage, Ashwapati banishes the queen, the mother of his eight children, some of whom, including Kaikeyi were still too young to understand the cause of their mother's exile.

Manthara's Role
Since her mother's exile, the closest feminine companion of Kaikeyi was Manthara. Manthara must have influenced the upbringing of the princess and made her believe that the king had made up a story to abandon the queen.

Reply to the accusation of Sumantra
When Sumantra accuses her, Kaikeyi does not change. Neither is her expression changed. She might have always believed that her mother was too naive not to fight her husband against injustice done to herself.

Thus, I conclude that Sumantra was wronged in understanding Kaikeyi's mother. Kaikeyi was the one who always remained in the power politics and the one always ready to rule over the others. Her mother however, was the exact opposite. She could not defend herself from faulty accusations made by her husband.

(P.S. The Ramayana does not mention the name of Kaikeyi's mother. Also, the name Kaikeyi is not proper. It means "the daughter of Kekaya". Her real name seems to have lost. So do the names of Manthara and Kaushalya.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Who was Hanuman?--Part II

I have discussed the mythological background of Lord Hanuman's story and how they praise and castigate him at the same time in the Part I of the post. Now I will go to the depth, relating the stories of Ramayan historically. Before that a legend will be presented.
Photo source: www.santabanta.com

The Legend of Sage Valmiki and Lord Hanuman

Adikavi( aadi= first, kavi= poet) Valmiki wrote his manuscript for his version of Ramayan. By some sources, he came to know that Lord Hanuman had written a version of Ramayan, the Hanumad Ramayan. Valmiki went to the Himalayas to meet the Lord and demanded a look at the Hanumad Ramayan. He read the version prepared by Lord Hanuman. Legend has it that he was so diasppointed, that he said, "Lord Hanuman, your version of Ramayan will be forgotten. Mine is far superior than yours." Lord Hanuman was then dejected. He threw his manuscript and never published it. Valmiki's version was published and promoted making it the household lore. Later Mahakavi, the Great Poet, Kalidas found a page of Hanumad Ramayan which became inspiration for his own version of Ramayan.

When the legend seems to have ended, I begin an analysis of this legend. What does Valmiki mean when he says the Hanumad Ramayan would be forgotten? And why does he say so? Was it a sort of conspiracy? If the log-book of someone who helped Lord Ram accomplish his journey is rejected by the Great Sage, have the bitter truths of Ram's journey and Hanuman's life been concealed?

The legend leads to the main quest of the post: Who was Hanuman? Mythological background been presented in Part I of the post, I will proceed into some historical possibilities based on two theories.

1. The Mutant Theory

(This theory is based on some blogs on the Internet and on The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi.)

A mutant?  What is a mutant doing in a story that old. Where did the mutants come from? That would be the greatest quest in Hinduism! However, I will introduce some possible mutants in the Ramayan itself.
  • Ravan, the "antagonist" of the epic was a mutant. How? His name Dashanan suggests so. If he really had ten heads protruding from the trunk, he must have been a mutant.
  • Suparnakha, the sister of Ravan, whose mistreatment by Ram and Lakshman lead to the abduction of Sita. Her name itself means "bird-beaked". She had a bird's beak on her face instead of nose and mouth.
  • Jambavan, the bear-man, friend and mentor of Hanuman. He had hairy body with the face like that of a bear.
  • Jatayus, the vulture like beings in the forest near Kiskinda had feathered bodies and beaks.
  • Simhika, a protector of Ashok Vatika in Lanka, had the head of a lion. 
These were only some representative characters. There are also mentions of Rakshyasas, who were bigger than normal humans. Nags mentioned in other Sanskrit texts represent human-serpent form. The Ashwini Kumars, the doctors of Gods were centaurs. Even Lord Ganesh seems to be a mutant with an elephantine head.
                                                            Another legend
When Lord Manu established a kingdom safe from all sorts of sea-floods on the northern part of Jambudweep, he prohibited people from going to the south of Narmada River. However, humans were living there, most certainly mutants, abandoned by the "normal" humans away from the main civilization.

                                                           X-Men of the Past
With abandonment, came vengeance. Ravan must have been the leader of the revolt against the "normal" people. They knew they were better that the rest and used their abilities in disturbing the peace of others. There might have been some mutants who disagreed with Ravan and his actions, leading to factions among the mutants.(While writing this, I feel I am citing the story of X-Men. Ravan seems like Magneto and Bali, the king of Vanars before Sugriv, seems like Professor X. Ravan and Bali were best friends at first but Ravan went on to try dominate the world.)
Vanars were, thus a group of mutant with distorted face and tails. They were in search of their identities in the "normal" world. They did that with Lord Hanuman. The mutants at last were able to show that they were better than most humans and earned a certain degree of respect.
The respect does not seem long-lasting, though. No mention of Vanars has been made after the end of the Great War. Lord Hanuman, who could have served Lord Ram at Ayodhya resorted in the Himalayas. The disapproval of his version of Ramayan by Valmiki might not have been his alone but that of Lord Ram himself. (It would be convenient for the readers to state here that Lord Ram was still the king of Ayodhya when Valmiki had written the Ramayan and had been appointed as the promoter of the Raghuvansis. That might explain why Valmiki said that his version of Ramayan was superior.)

2. The Non-Mutant Theory/The Forest Clans Theory 

The problem with the Mutant Theory is that I don't have the proof for the mutagen that induced such a prominent mutation. While Amish Tripathi mentions Somras(or Amrit) as the mutagen, there is no evidence of such. So I introduce my own theory (applicable to the Ramayan only-till date). Also, paleontological studies do not indicate presence of mutants, assuming that the paleontologists haven't been wronged.
So, I come up with the world with all normal humans. The above examples change accordingly.
  • Ravan did not have ten heads. Instead, he was wise and intelligent. His capacity would have been to think as much as ten heads would at a time, thus the name Dashanan.
  •  Suparnakha must have had a long, crooked nose rather than the bird-beak. 
  •  Jambavan must have had a hairy body but strong physique. He must have descended from the Bear-clan, one of the strongest clans of forest dwellers.
  • Jatayus may have been a clan that were quick and lived on high trees wearing feathered clothes to trick their enemies. They must also have had the ability to glide from one tree to another safely. Gliding is always often mistaken for flying!
  • Simhika may have been like a lioness, fearless and strong among the women. The name might have been a title assigned after she assisted Ravan in wars.
  • Vanars must have been the witty of all the forest clans. The combination of knowledge of Vanars, Jatayus and Bears seem prominent in Hanuman.
The characters of Ramayan have been described. However, I still find it difficult to explain other characters that have been so easily described by the Mutation Theory. And that's the most difficult challenge in explaining the stories without the consideration of any mutants.

And in all this, I see the mightiest, the bravest and the most humble Hanuman, who could have gained anything with the help of Ayodhya, but chose to live in the Himalayas. He might either have been a mutant or a forest-dweller or both and he must have been alienated there.  


Who was Hanuman?--Part I

Hanuman is the central character of famous Sanskrit epic Ramayan. He has been ascribed as an accomplice to Lord Ram and Lord Lakshman during their search for Lady Sita. The most revered among the Vanars, he is a "Lord" himself.
Photo source: www.santabanta.com

Mythological Background
Lord Hanuman, the son of Vayu or Pavan and Anjana looks like a mythical creature. The monkey face and the long tail are the features that distinguish him from other Lords. The Ramayan tells that he was a Vanar. Vanar whether meant the forest-dweller or the monkey can be a debatable question which I will discuss in the Part II of this post.

Hanuman first comes in the story of the Ramayan in Kiskinda Kanda. Lady Sita has been taken away by Ravan, the king of Lanka, and Lord Ram and his brother Lord Lakshman reach the mountain of Kiskinda where they encounter the Vanars. Hanuman disguises himself as a beautiful Brahmin boy and meets Lord Ram for the first time.
Here, I think Hanuman did not look like monkey at all. His face and physique have been described to be like a "normal" human would look. And if he was a monkey, how could he speak a human language? We have not been able to talk to monkeys as yet. However, if you insisting on keeping his face like that of a monkey and giving him a tail, I have a theory on it, which I will be describing in Part II of the post. The Brahmin boy then would be an art, a masked guise with the tail well concealed!

Being a forest-dweller, Lord Hanuman was well trained in jumping and swimming. The accounts of him going in the water to look at the construction of Ram Setu is a proof of his abilities to swim. The abilities of making long jumps, attributed as "flying", must have been the reason he reached Lanka.
Hanuman was the first to reach Lanka without the invitation or the abduction. He was also the wisest. To defend himself from the Brahmastra of Indrajit and to surrender in order to meet Ravan seem to be the wisest deeds. He was able to burn down the palace of Lanka, though in agony.

While he seems wise enough to challenge Ravan, the way he "carries" a hill for bringing the herb of Sanjivani is quite difficult to understand. Could he really have not known what Sanjivani herb looked like? As a forest-dweller, he should have known it better than the others. The mythologies describing his strength over his wisdom have even forgotten that he was blessed with wisdom and wit by Lord Brahma himself. Lord Surya was his teacher. I don't understand why Lord Hanuman would carry a mountain when he could find the herb himself. Whether it was his temper, show-off of his strength or a conspiracy in favour of Lord Ram, that I am not quite certain.

Lord Hanuman, as previously stated, was an accomplice to Lord Ram and his devotee too. He even killed a woman (Simhika), one of the protectors of Ashok Vatika in Lanka. He faced the temper of Ravan and his sons, saved Lord Lakshman, brought Lord Ram and Lady Sita together. His contribution to Lord Ram would make an excitingly long list. However, after the Great War between Ram and Ravan, he self-exiled himself to the Himalayas, where he lived his life meditating and writing his experiences. The writing however, would be lost, to deny ourselves of all the truths of the Ramayan.
Did such a thing really happened? Or, was it a tattoo display?

A possible solution to one of the most interesting question at the end of the Part I of this post: How did Lord Hanuman tear up his chest to show Lord Ram with Lady Sita? Mythologies say that he tore up his chest to show the images of his Lord and Lady. I say that did not happen. How can anyone, even as strong as Hanuman, tear up his own chest? The story must be an over-exaggeration. I, therefore conclude that Lord Hanuman had removed his armour to reveal his tattooed chest. Tattooing is nothing less than tearing yourself apart!   

More on Who was Hanuman?--Part II

Friday, August 8, 2014

The War of Mahabharata--A nuclear war?

A Depiction of the war of Kuru Kshetra
I have heard a lot of people talk that the war of Kuru Kshetra mentioned in the Mahabharata was the First World War. Historians believing civilization developed some 5000 years ago may discard this view but I believe. Based on my knowledge on the epic, discussion with my parents and evidences shown in some videos, I have discovered some logical reasons to believe it was the first World War.

1. Involvement

The Indian sub-continent, then known as the Jambudweep(Jambudvipa)  had been divided into many kingdoms. One of them was Hastinapur, capital city of Kuru kingdom,where the story of the epic is centered.

There were also several other kingdoms which participated in the war on the calling from Pandavas, and their friend Lord Krishna. To support the army of Kauravas(100 Princes of Hastinapur), many other kingdoms participated in the war.

The approximate number of soldiers involved has also been mentioned in the epic. Kauravas had gathered about 11 lakh soldiers while Pandavas had arranged 7 lakh soldiers. At the end of the war, some 200-500 soldiers were left alive.

2. Weapons

Anyone who has read Mahabharata comes across with bows and arrows as the weapons. The description of the weapons seem contemporary to the date during which the epic had been written down because we do not know of the arrows that send out fire or track targets or kill thousands of people at once.

Bows and arrows might have been the most convincing weapons for description at that time. If Guru Vyas had said about sophisticated nuclear weapons, who would have believed him? But he does mention the Brahmashtra, the weapon of mass destruction. Only some authorized people had license to use them, among which is Guru Drona's son, Ashwathama. Even Karna talks about using the weapon to kill the Pandavas but does not use it in his life time. Krishna also could have used the weapon had he not taken a vow not to use weapons in the war against anyone. Among the Pandavas, Arjuna was the one who used it to destroy thousands of soldiers after his son had been killed.

This weapon of mass destruction was special. Anyone who had it would be among the most powerful. According to other Sanskrit texts like the Puranas and the Ramyana, Guru Vashistha was the first to produce it in war against Guru Vishwamitra, who later gained one after a lot of  penances (studies and meditations). Parshu Ram, the teacher of Karna also possessed one, which he used against evil-doing Kshatriyas. The limited number of users signifies its strength and sophistication. The death toll presented above corresponds to the use of weapons of mass-destruction.

3. End of Civilization

The War of the Mahabharata is said to be the marking of end of Dwapar Yug. In fact, it wiped out civilization from the Indian sub-continent. The Kuru Kshetra and the land around it became infertile. The area is now in the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan and it is among the most barren parts of the sub-continent. The amount of radioactive materials have been estimated to be high in the area, which is not a surprise, owing to the use of nuclear weapons in the war that occurred some eight to ten thousand years ago. Cities, and even countries may have been destroyed. Along with them, the weapons must have been destroyed and their formula, hidden.

Women, children and senescent were the only people who survived the direct deaths in the war. Their conditions must have been worse increasing the number of deaths and migration to other places. They seem to have migrated eastwards and southwards because they were the regions that survived the effect of nuclear weapons. Thus the areas around Hastinapur were also deserted, forcing the Pandavas to leave the kingdoms towards the end of their lives. Those who survived must have passed the stories generation-after-generation but must have lived nomadic lives until the discovery of fertile lands between the Indus and the Ganga.

This somewhat corresponds to one of Albert Einstein's famous sayings, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."     

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ahilya's Story--A History of Male Domination

A story is told by Viswamitra as he leads Ram and Lakshman to the ashram of Gautam-a sage, Royal teacher of King Janak and  ‘most honoured by the Gods who dwell above the sky.’ The story is famous as the story of Indra and Ahilya.

I don’t want to get into the details of the story which has been retold for generations via the Valmiki Ramayan and many others who had read or heard the Ramayan and many know(actually they think they know!) that Ahilya, being driven by lust kept immoral relationship with Indra-king of Gods and cursed by her husband into becoming a stone until Ram noticed, came and touched her. Have we been diverted from the truth? Yes, we have been diverted from the truth.

1. What Valmiki Ramayan Says

The Ramayan describes her as counter-part of Gautam until this incident and even lists her as Pancha Kanya (also known as Five Satis-Devotees of their husbands) along with Sita, Tara, Mandodari and Draupadi. (It is strange that all these women suffered male domination!) The arrival of Indra is described as in the lines below:
‘It chanced the saint had gone away,
When Town-destroying Indra came,
And saw the beauty of the dame.’

Based on these lines, I don’t see Ahilya as the culprit because she did not even have a hint that Indra was coming. I find the culprit in Indra(Why is he being culprit in my every post?). Ramayan of other writers of have given in details, the preparation made by Indra and cause of Gautam’s absence which I don’t think should be detailed. I am concerned with everything that happened after the sage's departure.

2. What I have to Say

What was her reaction after seeing her husband coming back so soon and knowing that he was Indra instead? This question is important if we regard Ahilya as a noble woman. She was wife of one of the most heeded scholars of that age and happy with her conjugal life. Then could she have submitted herself to Indra at once to fulfill fer lust? That’s not possible at all. ‘But touched by love’s unholy fire, She yielded to the God’s desire.’ Such defaming lines have been used for Ahilya in Valmiki Ramayan but don’t the two word’s “God’s desire” not explain that Ahilya was under the authority of Indra. Who is the culprit-- Indra, the mightier who suppressed a lady, or Ahilya-- the inferior? The answer should have been Indra, but our blind-folded eyes see guilt on Ahilya. Shame on us!

Had this incident been a matter of love affair or adultery, I would not have to speak against Gautam, what he did to his wife might have been pardonable but this is a matter of crime. Crime on Ahilya by a male dominant society! Indra tricks Gautam into going out of the house at night, comes in his guise and meets Ahilya whom he tells who he is. She is then seduced and when disagrees to make love to the heavens’s king, is forced into physical intimacy(also called rape in common understanding). Just as in modern times, this was a crime  then but the victim was much victimized than the culprit. (Such trend still exists, must be the remnants of the past!)

After returning from the river, feeling that the daylight was far off, Gautam sees Indra rushing in a hurry. Ramayan says he was cursed but I don’t believe it. Had he been cursed, how could he forever become the King of Gods! He then curses the lady to remain as dead as stone and goes away saying he cannot accept her. (Life OK’s Mahadev showed that the curse on Indra was lifted by Parvati on the request of young Ganesh. How could anyone, that too a woman, lift the punishment for such a crime on mere request of a child? Was she afraid of Indra? Had she not lifted the curse and punished Indra even more, there would have been an inspiration for a secured society for women at present. Alas! That did not happen, not even on a contemporary show.)

Being a wise sage, why could Gautam not accept his wife or revolting against Indra? This idea haunts me whenever I read, watch or hear the story and I imagine him doing so. But what I imagine had not occurred at all! Gautam was a learned-man(educated man) and though people say such men are wise, I don’t think so. They are actually the ones who live for the prevalent traditions of the society. Gautam is the best example of Rousseau’s citizen. Yes, he was scared of the society. What would others say if he accepted a woman who had “crossed her limits”? He knew the question would arise and instead of answering, he abandoned his wife at the state of distress. This led the society to believe her as the culprit and apparently, Indra benefited. As a king, no one would raise questions on him and what would have happened if he was questioned? All the blame would go to the dame who had no one to support. What became of her life? Everyone knows--as dead as stone and the one who regained a little consciousness when Ram kicked her. (Ramayan says that Ram touched Ahilya on her head to bring her back to consciousness. It is to be noted that very few people visited that lonely cottage after Gautam left. Vishwamitra, Ram and Lakshman had reached near the cottage in the evening and Ram had been curious of Ahilya. How Ahilya survived that long might be a different question, but Ram kicked her during her unconsciousness. And it might have been other body parts as well, not only the head!)

I often think, “Had Gautam defended his wife and made Indra confess his sin, there would have been a more secure society for women.” His action might have affected him then but would have created ideal society for women. 


The present society-it lives in duality. Sometimes it says Ahilya a scarlet woman and sometimes respects her as devotee to husband(who left her at time of distress!) This duality, which still exists, would have been ended a long time ago had Gautam raised his voice against the crimes of the SHAMELESS Indra.[i]

[i] The texts in Italics have been derived from The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI Translated into English Verse, Ralph T. H. Griffith, 1870-1874.