Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vasudhaiva kutumbakam – as state policy?

Vasudhaiva kutumbakam – this is a religious philosophy, misused in socio-political contexts. Particularly the so-called secularists of the current political class use this term as a State policy to give credence to unchecked and unlimited application of Universal brotherhood – mostly to the detriment of Hindu culture and Nation's safety. Vasudhiva kutumbakam does not mean that we can accept and embrace everyone who grabs our space. It does not mean that we can shake hands with those whose sinister designs we are ready to ignore.

Mr Sarvesh K. Tiwari has analyzed well to expose how this term was used in fables of Pancha tantra and Hitopadesha to show the contexts where it can be mis-used. Finally he has zeroed in on the root of this word as belonging to Mahopanishad where it is expressed as the state of mind in BrahmI-sthithi of the seeker and the attainer of Brahman for whom no one is a friend and no one is a foe! Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is basically a religious or spiritual philosophy that the seeker attains to realize Brahman!

His articles can be read in the following links.

The Hoax Called Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – 1: Hitopadesha

The Hoax Called Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – 2: Panchatantra and Kautilya

The Hoax Called Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – 3: Vikrama, Poetics and Upanishada

From his post,

"To understand the total meaning and context of VK (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)here, quoted below are the shloka-s 70-73 from its sixth chapter:

उदारः पेशलाचारः सर्वाचारानुवृत्तिमान
अन्तःसङ्ग-परित्यागी बहिः संभारवानिव
अन्तर्वैराग्यमादाय बहिराशोन्मुखेहितः
अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसां
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं
भावाभाव विनिर्मुक्तं जरामरणवर्जितं
प्रशान्त कलनारभ्यं नीरागं पदमाश्रय
एषा ब्राम्ही स्थितिः स्वच्छा निष्कामा विगतामया
आदाय विहरन्नेवं संकटेषु न मुह्यति
(महोपनिषद ६.७०-७३)

The above text is describing the lakShaNa and behaviour of great men who are elevated to the coveted brAmhI sthiti of spiritual realm. The above says:

"(That elevated one in brAmhI sthiti) is generous, always clean in behaviour, in accordance to the established norms of conduct, and free from all attachments in life. From inside, he has renounced everything, even though outwardly he would appear to carry out worldly duties (like any other mortal. However, unlike) the small hearts of (ordinary) people (who discriminate by) saying 'This one is a friend and that one a stranger' these (great men in brAmhI-sthiti) are of magnanimous hearts and embrace the entire world as their own family. They have gained liberation from all constraints of ordinary life, like old age and death; their fires (of klesha-s) have become extinguished; and in them no attachment finds any shelter (anymore). Such (Listen O best amongst the brAhmaNa-s, are those who have achieved) the status of brAmhI sthiti, the absolutely pure; that which is beyond all cravings and sufferings. Equipped with such attributes they freely roam (the earth), without knowing any calamity."

---- end quote----

The term and the meaning of this term BrahmI sthithi ring familiar to me as I could recall the Gita sloka ""yesha BerahmI sthithi PArtha.." (BG 2-71)

In his reply to Arjuna on the characteristics of a "Sthitha- prajnan" (the one whose mind is in Samadhi – or unwavering), Krishna lists out the characteristics of BrahmI sthithi in the concluding verses of chapter -2.

This BrahmI sthithi is the stage, when attained by one makes him win oneself even at the time of death.

What exactly constitutes this sthithi is explained in the penultimate verse, "VihAya kAmAnya:.." The one who has attained this state will abandon all desires and will not long for anything for himself. He will have no sense of "I" or "mine" and will be in peace due to this non-attachment to things and people.

This is the essence of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (VK) – which means everything is of Vasudeva – not mine!!

(BG-7-19 "Vasuvedam sarvam iti")

The sense of VK is the root of Swasti vachan,

"swasthir maanushEbhyah :

Oordhwam jigaathu bheshajam/

Sham no asthu dwi-padhE:

Sham Chathush padhE

OM Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi:"

(Let there be goodness to human beings.

Let the plants which are like medicine to us grow up well.

Let the bipeds and quadrupeds be well.

Let there be our goodwill to them.

Let there be peace at all three levels of

Bhu (physical),

Bhuvah (vital)

and swah(mental levels of) all these beings)

The VK enables oneself not to differentiate oneself from a plant or an animal or a fellow human being. It is because what is in him (the soul or jeeva) is the same as what is in a plant (the plant also has a jeeva which is now born as a plant). What is in him is also the same as what is in an animal (the soul or jeeva that is inside the animal).

It is the same with another human being also. All these – sthavara, jangama and manushya (Jivas) are the belongings of Vasudeva – the one who dwells in all these beings.

That being the nature of things and also the final Truth that one must realize,

where is the scope for discrimination?

Where is the scope for claiming that this is mine or not mine?

Where is the scope of attaining something which is not mine (because everything is his – Vasudhaiva kutumbakam)?

Where is the scope for grieving that I have not got this when everything is His?

Where is the scope for gloating that I have got this when everything is His?

Where is the scope for grieving at death and gloating at birth when everything comes and goes due to the program of karma whose author also is none but Vasudeva?

Such being the reality of the Real, let me not be awed by someone as great or become disdainful at some one who is not great.

This is the sthitha-prajjai or BarhmI sthithi or the sense of equidistance that a sadhaka attains by embracing the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

This concept is echoed in the famed sangam verse in Purananuru (192), "Yaadum oore, Yaavarum kELir". Like Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, this verse also is understood in limited sense. Almost all Tamil lovers will quote this verse by confining only with the first line which means "the entire world is my place and all the people are my relatives." But the verse develops step by step on the theme said before of Vasudhaiva kutumbakam and the equidistant nature of BrahmI sthithi. The verse aptly ends with the notion of brahmI sthithi – 'there is nothing to gloat about someone as great and nothing to despise someone as being weak'. Everyone is part of this grand scale going about their ways controlled by the Almighty.

யாதும் ஊரே ; யாவரும் கேளிர் ;
தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா ;
நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன ;
சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே ; வாழ்தல்
இனிதுஎன மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே; முனிவின்,
இன்னா தென்றலும் இலமே; 'மின்னொடு
வானம் தண்துளி தலைஇ, ஆனாது
கல்பொருது இரங்கும் மல்லற் பேர்யாற்று
நீர்வழிப் படூஉம் புணைபோல, ஆருயிர்
முறைவழிப் படூஉம்' என்பது திறவோர்
காட்சியின் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின், மாட்சியின்
பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே;
சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே.

(பாடியவர்: கணியன் பூங்குன்றன்
திணை: பொதுவியல் துறை: பொருண்மொழிக் காஞ்சி)

(All the places are same to us. All the men are our relatives.

Life's ills and goods do not come from others;

The pains and relief from pain come from within ourselves.

Death is nothing new.

There is no glee about living as being sweet.

Nor do we complain that we don't have (something).

It is the inferred wisdom of the Wise that

"Like a raft that is being led in the flood of a stream

fed by the rains that come down from the skies with lightening and

break the stones as it flows down,

our life also goes along the current of Destiny."

Therefore we are not at awe with someone who is Great

Nor do we despise one who is not Great.)

State policy – tips from Rama rajya.

From this perspective of Enlightenment connected with VK concept, it makes a funny reading to hear our politicians and 'secularists' mouth their commitment to 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' – as a state policy or a policy in external; affairs - which they use more as an excuse to promote 'secularism' and unmindful of the intricacies of nation's interests in international relationships.

The best of what must constitute the Sate policy can be traced to SriRama, whose Rama-rajya is the Best that mankind can aspire for.

The relevant verses from Valmiki Ramayana from Chapter 100 of Ayodhya Kanda are given here. How a state must be run or what must constitute the Sate policy or how a ruler must conduct himself is given by Rama to Bharatha in his conversation with him when Bharatha came to the forest to request Rama to return to Ayodhya.

From verse 15 onwards :-


"I hope that ministers who are valiant like you, learned, masters of their senses of noble birth and skilled interpreting internal sentiments by external gesture, are assigned to you."


"The source of victory for kings indeed comes from a concealed counsel by ministers, who are well-versed in political sciences and who can hide their thoughts within themselves."


"I hope you do not fall a prey to excess of sleep and do wake up at appropriate time. I hope you contemplate during the later half of the night, about the adroitness of an action."


"I hope that you do not deliberate alone nor indeed with numerous men. I hope your decision arrived at by you through such deliberation does not flow to the public (even before it is carried out)".


"O, Bharata! I hope considering your interest fully, you lanuch an undertaking, which has maximum benefit with minimum coast and indeed do not delay it further."


"I hope the other kings know your entire undertakings only after they have been successfully completed as well as those which have taken a shape, but not your proposed undertakings."


"My darling! I hope that others are not knowing, by their enquiries or strategies or by any other approaches not mentioned, the details of discussions you make with your ministers."


"I hope you solicit for one wise man rather than for a thousand stupids for, a wise man can be of a great help to you in difficult matters."


"Even if a king employs thousands or tens of thousands of fools, they will not be helpful to him."


"Even one wise, valiant sagacious and efficient minister alone can cause to secure a great prosperity to the king or to one who enjoys royal authority."


"I hope that superior servants are assigned superior works only, mediocre servants in mediocre works and inferior servants in inferior works."


"I hope you are appointing those ministers, who are eminent incorruptible, born of the fathers and for bears of good family and who are full of integrity in matters of great importance."


"O, Bharata! I hope your ministers do not watch as mere witnesses, while your subjects in the kingdom wielding tremble with great fear, under your inflexible wielding of the scepter."


"I hope those who perform the sacrifice do not hold you in contempt, as one who accepts terrible gifts; as one who is fallen, as women hold in contempt of those highly lustful men."


"He, who does not slay a physician skilled in ways and means of aggravating a disease, a servant intent on bringing disgrace and a valiant warrior seeking kingly power, is *himself) slain by them."


"I hope an army-chief, who is cheerful, wise, courageous, valiant, well-behaved, born in a good family, who is beloved by his subordinates and efficient, is selected by you."


"I hope those warriors, who are excellent strong, skilled in war-face, whose excellent actions were seen before and the most courageous ones are duly honoured and respected by you."


"I hope you are regularly giving your army, the daily provisions and the suitable salary to them, without any delay."


"When there is delay in giving bread and wages, the servants become incensed against their master and become corrupt; and that is said to be a great unfortunate occurrence."


"I hope all the foremost descendents of your race (kshatriyas) are devoted to you and do they lay down their lives steadfastly for your sake?"


"I hope that a knowledgeable man, living in your own country, a wise man a skilled person endowed with presence of mind and the one who knows how to speak to the point, is selected as an ambassador by you."


"Do you get to know throught three spies, each unacquainted with each other, about the eighteen* functionaries of the enemies and the fifteen functionaries of your own side?"

*They are: 1)the chief minister; 2) the king's family priest; 3)the crown prince; 4)the leader of the army; 5) the chief warder; 6) the chamberlain (antaHpuraaH adhyaksha); 7)the superintendent of gails (kaaraagaara adhyaksha); 8) the chancellor of the exchequer; 9)the herald; 10)the government advocate; 11) the judge; 12)the assessor; 13) the officer disbursing salaries to army men; 14) the officer drawing money from the state exchequer to disburse the workmen's wages; 15) the superintended of public works; 16) the protector of the borders of a kingdom, who also performed the duties of a forester; 17) the magistrate; 18) the officer entrusted with conservation of waters; hills, forests and tracts difficult of access.: The fifteen functionaries of one's own side are the last fifteen of this very list, omitting the first three; viz; the chief ministers, the family priest and the crown prince.


"O, slayer of your Foes! I hope you do not forever think lightly of your foes, who are weak and having been expelled, return again."


I hope are not honouring the materialistic brahmins, My dear brother! These men are skilled in perverting the mind, ignorant as they are and thinking themselves to be learned."


"Reaching to their logical acumen, these men of perverted intellect preach meaninglessly, in the presence of eminent books on righteousness."

40, 41, 42.

"I hope you preserve the City of Ayodhya, furnished with everything and flourishing, that was formerly inhabited by our heroic ancestors, O my dear brother, that is worthy of its name, with its fortified gates, its elephant horses and chariots that fill it, with its brahmins, warriors and merchants in thousands, ever engaged in their respective duties, with its noble citizens self-controlled and full of energy, with its palaces in various shapes and the learned who abound there."

43, 44, 45, 46, 47

I hope that the kingdom, adorned with peaceful places rich in temples and sheds where water stored for distribution to passers-by in tanks, with happy men and women, graced by social festivities, with land well-tilled, abiding in cattle which are totally free from cruelties, the agricultural land not exclusively fed by rains, which is beautiful and is purged of beasts of prey, which is completely rid of fears, studded with mines, a destitute of sinful men, and well-protected by our fore-fathers, is prosperous and an abode of happiness.


"Are you cherishing all those who live by agriculture and cattle-rearing, O, dear borhter! The people living on agriculture and cattle-rearing indeed prosper well."


"I hope their maintenance is being looked after by you, in providing what they need and eschewing what they fear. All the citizens are indeed to be protected by a king through his righteousness."


"I hope you are pacifying the women well. Are they protected by you? I hope you are not believing the words of these women and not telling them the secrets."


"Are you supervising the woods inhabited by elephants? I hope female elephants are there to you in good number. I hope you are not simply satisfied with the existing population of female elephants, horses and male-elephants."


"O, Prince! Do you, regally adorned, appear before the people on rising each morning, on the great high way?"


"I hope that all your servants, in your presence, do not adopt a disrespectful attitude or on the other hand all of them do not hasten away on seeing you. Ofcourse, a middle course only in the principle to be followed in this matter."


"I hope all your citadels are quite full of money, grain, weapons, water and mechanical contrivances as well as artisans and archers."


"I hope your income is abundant and expenditure, minimum. I hope your treasure does not reach undeserving people, O, Bharata!"


"I hope that your expenditure goes for the cause of divinity, manes, brahmins, unexpected visitors, soldiers and hosts of friends."


"If one of noble work, despite his honesty and integrity, is falsely accused of some offence, I hope he is not killed impatiently, without enquiry by those well-versed in law-books."


"O, foremost of men! If a thief is seen and even caught at the time of his act on sufficient ground and interrogated-I hope, he is not released from greed of wealth."


"O, Bharata! I hope that your well-educated ministers examine a case dispassionately when a contention occurs between a rich man and a poor man, after studying the situation carefully."


"The tears fallen from those who are the victims of false accusations, O Bharata, destroy their sons and herds of those who are indifferent to justice, merely for the sake of pleasure."


"I hope that you seek to conciliate by the following three means, viz. gifts, a loving mind and polite words- the aged, the children and the foremost physicians."


"I hope you greet your teachers, the elderly, the ascetics, the deities; the unexpected visitors, the trees standing at cross roads and all the brahmins of auspicious life and conduct."


"I hope you do not abrogate virtue by your excessive devotion to wealth or your excessive devotion to wealth or your earthly interests by your over-emphasis on religion or both your religious and secular interests by your self-indulgence in pleasure, greed and gratification of the senses."


"I hope your pursue wealth, religion and the delights of the sense dividing them all according to time, O Jewel among the victorious, the one who is conversant with the proper time and O, the bestower of boons!"


"O, the one who is endowed with great wisdom! I hope that brahmins versed in the knowledge of the scriptures, the inhabitants of town and the country pray for your happiness."

65, 66, 67.

Do you eschew the following fourteen for of kings -viz. atheism, falsehood, anger carelessness, procrastination, disregard of the wise, sloth, bondage to the five senses, himself alone devoting thought to the affairs of the state (without consulting the ministers); taking counsel with those of perverted insight; failure to undertake the projects already decided, failure to keep secrets, failure to utter auspicious words (at the beginning of an undertaking); and rising from one's seat (indiscriminately) to receive all.

68, 69, 70.

"O, the very wise Bharata! I hope you understand the following and deal them properly the ten evils(1); the five kinds of fortifications(2); the four expedients(3); the seven limbs of state(4); the eight evils (born of anger) the three objects of human pursuit(5); the three branches of learning(6) subjugation of the senses, the six strategic expedients(7); adversity brought about by divine agencies(8); and by human agencies(9); the twenty types of monarches(10); and the entire population of the kingdom, setting about an an expedition, drawing up an army in a battle-array and the two bases viz, peace and war.

(1). Ten evils attendant on royalty to be eschew. Hunting, gambling, sleeping during the day, lustfulness, inebriation, pride, calumny, lounging about idly or aimlessly, diversions such as singing and dancing. (2). Five kinds of fortifications: By moat, high bank, trees thickly planted, a space destitute of grain or provisions, the turning of waters. (3) Four expedients:- Making peace, liberality, sowing dissension, chastisement. (4) Seven limbs of state king, ministers, friends, treasure, territory, forts and an army. (5) Three objects of human pursuit: Religious merit, material wealth and sensuous enjoyment or the three kinds of power (viz. energy, power of dominion, power of counsel) (6) Three branches of learning: the three Vedas, the knowledge relating to agriculture, commerce and other vocational pursuits and political science. (7) Six strategic expedients: Coming to terms with the enemy, waging war against him, marching against him, biding one's time to seek a favourable opportunity, causing dissension in the enemy's ranks, seeking protection of a powerful ally. (8) Adversity brought about by divine agencies: Fire, water in the shape of excessive rains or floods, epidemic or endemic diseases, famine and pestulence, earthquakes and Tsunamis. (9) Adversity brought about by human agencies: officials, thieves, enemies, king's favourites and king himself, when acutated by greed. (10)Twenty types of monarchs (who are not worth-negotiating with):1. a king who is yet a child. 2. Aged. 3. Who has been ailing for a long time. 4. who has been ostracised by his own kith and kin. 5. ho is characterized by a cowardly attitude. 6. who is surrounded by cowards. 7. who is greedy. 8. has greedy associated. 9. who has estranged his ministers and others. 10. who confers with fickle-minded persons 11. who speaks ill of divine begins and brahmins; 12. who is extremely indulged in sensuous pleasures and luxuries; 13. who is ill-fated; 14. a fatalist (who believes that all things are pre-determined or subject to fate); 15. who is afflicted by famine and; 16. by military reverses; 17. who (mostly) remains away from home; 18. who has numerous enemies; 19. who is in the clutches of adverse times and; 20. who is not devoted to truth and piety.


"I hope that you consult with three or four ministers as mentioned in scriptures any proposal collectively and singly with each of them in secret."


"Do you find advantages in your study of Vedas? Are your acts, production of fair results? Do you benefit from the company of your consorts? Has your learning been fruitful?"


"O, Bharata! I hope that your conviction, is the same as mentioned by me in the foregoing verses, which is conducive to long life, fame, religious merit, enjoyment and wealth."


"Do you follow the common practice, which our fore fathers observed and which is in accord with the path of the virtuous and which is distinguished in itself."


"I hope you do not eat by yourself nicely made eatable and do you share it with your friends, who seek it?"


"A wise and learned king, having obtained and ruled the entire earth, properly by righteousness and by administering justice to the people, indeed ascends to heaven when detached from the mortal body."

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