Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ecological angle to Ganesha worship



Given below is my article in Tamil published in Avani issue of Poojari Murasu, a monthly magazine circulated among temples priests of Tamilnadu. The article is about the ecological aspects connected with the worship of Lord Ganesha.

Usually this lord is found in numerous places particularly near water bodies and at the base of trees such as Peepal and Banyan.



One reason for this can be deciphered from the offerings made to him. The verse starting as "Gajananam" says that Ganesha relishes two fruits namely Kapiththa and Jumbu. 


The uniqueness of these two fruits is that they grow in places where there is underground water. They are called as "Jalanadis". South India is particularly crisscrossed by a net work of underground passages -perhaps formed by oozing lava at the time of formation of the Deccan Plateau. These passages are filled with rain water during the rainy season and at places where water runs for most part of the year, certain tress grow near them. Approximately 50 trees have been identified by Brihad samhitha as growing near these Jalanadis. Where the water flow is abundant and near the surface, ant hills are formed and trees such as Kapiththa and Jumbhu grow in specific distance and direction from the Jalanadi and the anthills.

Therefore protection of these trees helps us in identifying the Jalanadis and to draw water from them. It may be for this reason the fruits of these trees have been identified as offerings to Lord Ganesha. Trees such as Peepal, Banyan and Neem also grow near underground waterways. All these trees have been identified as sacred ones by our ancients. One reason for the sacredness is to protect them as they give valuable clues to identify the water sources.

The protection of anthill where snakes live also seems to have this purpose. The practice of sprinkling milk in the anthills where snakes reside has an ecological reason. In summer the Jalanadis may dry up, thereby making the underground dwelling of the snakes hot enough to drive them out. When people regularly worship the snakes in the anthill by offering milk in the holes, the snake- dwellings would remain cool in summer also. This makes the snakes remain in their dwellings and not venture out posing a threat to people.

-Jayasree

பிள்ளையார் என்னும் இயற்கைக் காவலன்!

பிள்ளையார் வழிபாட்டுக்கென்று தனி இடம் இந்து மதத்தில் இருக்கிறது. ஆனால் அவர் அமர்வதற்கென்று தனி இடம் தேவையில்லை என்று சொல்லும் வண்ணம் எல்லா இடங்களிலும் அவரைக் காணலாம். இன்றைக்கு நகரங்கள் பெருகிவிட்ட நிலையில், மூலை முடுக்குகளில் எல்லாம் பிள்ளையாரை பிரதிஷ்டை செய்து விடுகிறார்கள். ஆனால் முற்காலத்தில் பிள்ளையாருக்கென தனி இடங்கள் இருந்தன. குறிப்பாக மரத்தடியிலும், குளத்தங்கரையிலும், பிள்ளையாரை பிரதிஷ்டை செய்து விடுவார்கள். இதற்கு ஒரு முக்கியக் காரணம் இருக்கிறது. அந்தக் காரணம் நம்மை வாழ வைக்கும் சுற்றுப்புற இயற்கை வளத்தை, நாம் வாழ்விப்பதற்காக ஏற்பட்டது.

அந்தக் காரணம் என்னவென்று தெரிய வேண்டுமென்றால், பிள்ளையாருக்குச் செய்யும் நைவேத்தியப் பொருட்கள் எவை என்று தெரிந்து கொள்ள வேண்டும். பொதுவாக எல்லோரும் நினைக்கும் நைவேத்தியப் பொருட்கள் பால், தேன், பாகு, பருப்பு என்று ஔவை மூதாட்டிச் சொன்னவையாகும். ஆனால் இவற்றைப் பெற ஒரளவேனும் முயற்சிகள் செய்ய வேண்டும். எந்த முயற்சியும் இல்லாமல், எளிதில் இயற்கையில் கிடைக்கும் பொருட்களைப் பிள்ளையார் விரும்புகிறார். இதைச் சொல்லும் ஒரு வடமொழி ஸ்லோகம் இருக்கிறது. கஜானனம் பூத கணாதி சேவிதம்என்று தொடங்கும் அந்த ஸ்லோகத்தில், பிள்ளாயாருக்குப் பிடித்த பழங்கள் என்று இரண்டு பழங்களின் பெயர்கள் சொல்லப்பட்டுள்ளன. அவை விளாம் பழமும், நாகப்பழமும் ஆகும். இந்த விவரத்தைக்கபித்த ஜம்பூ பலசார பக்ஷிதம்என்று அந்த ஸ்லோகம் சொல்கிறது. (கபித்தம் = விளாம்பழம், ஜம்பூ = நாகப்பழம் அல்லது நாவல் பழம்).

இந்த இரண்டு பழங்களைத் தரும் மரங்கள், நம் பாரத நாடெங்கும் இயற்கையாகவே ஆங்காங்கே வளருகின்றன. இவற்றுக்குள்ள ஒரு விசேஷம் என்னவென்றால், இவை நிலத்தடி நீர் ஓடும் இடங்களுக்கருகே வளருகின்றன. நமது நாடு வானம் பார்த்த பூமியாகும். வருடத்தில் சில மாதங்களில் பெய்யும் மழை நீரானது பூமிக்குள் சென்று அங்கு நிலத்தடி நீராகத் தங்குகிறது. ஒரு இலையில் நரம்புகள் இருப்பது போல, நமது நாட்டின் நிலத்துக்கடியில் நரம்புகள் போல குறுக்கும் நெடுக்குமாக பாதைகள் இருக்கின்றன. பூமிக்குள் செல்லும் மழை நீரானது இந்தப் பாதைகளில் தங்குகின்றன. இந்தப் பாதைகளை ஜல நாடிஎன்கிறார்கள். அந்த ஜலநாடி சில இடங்களில் பூமிப்பரப்புக்கு அருகிலும், சில இடங்களில் ஆழத்திலும் செல்கின்றன. அவை பூமிக்கருகில் அருகில் இருக்கும் இடங்களில் எறும்புப் புற்று உண்டாகிறது. அந்தப் புற்றுகள் பூமிக்கடியில் ஜலநாடிகளுடன் இணைகின்றன. அங்கு நீர் இருக்கவே மரங்களும் வளருகின்றன. அப்படி வளரும் மர இனங்கள் 50 க்கும் மேல் என்று ரிஷிகள் எழுதி வைத்துள்ளார்கள். அவற்றுள் முக்கியமான இரண்டு மரங்கள் விளா மரமும், நாவல் மரமும் ஆகும்.

இந்த மரங்கள் கண்ணில் பட்டால், அங்கு அருகில் நீரோட்டம் இருக்கிறது என்று தெரிந்து கொள்ளலாம். இந்த மரங்களே நீரோட்டத்தை அடையாளம் காட்டும் கருவிகள் ஆகும். எனவே இந்த மரங்களைப் பாதுகாத்தால், நீரோட்டம் எங்கிருக்கிறது என்பதை எளிதில் கண்டுபிடித்து விடலாம்.

ஓரிடத்தில் இருக்கும் நிலத்தடி நீரோட்டத்துக்கு ஏற்றாற்போல ஒரு குறிபிட்ட கோணாத்தில், குறிப்பிட்ட திக்கில்தான் இந்த மரங்கள் வளருகின்றன. உதாரணமாக, நாவல் மரத்துக்கு வடக்கில் நாலரை அடி தூரத்தில் கிழக்கு- மேற்காக ஜலநாடி ஓடும். அங்கேஒரு மனிதன்ஆழத்துக்குத் தோண்டினால், நல்ல சுவையுள்ள நீர் கிடைக்கும், ஒரு மனிதன் ஆழம் என்பது அதிக பட்சம் ஆறடி என்பதாகும்.

அது போல நாவல் மரத்துக்குக் கிழக்கே புற்று இருந்தால், அந்தப் புற்றுக்குத் தென்புறத்தே இரண்டு மனித ஆழத்தில் தண்ணீர் கிடைக்கும்.

அது போல விளாமரம் ஒன்று கண்ணில் தென்பட்டதென்றால், அதற்குத் தெற்கில் பெரும்பாலும் ஒரு புற்று தென்படும். அந்தப் புற்றுக்கு வடக்கில்  பத்தரை அடி தூரத்தில் தோண்டினால், ஐந்து மனித ஆழத்தில் நல்ல சுவையான நீர் கிடைக்கும்.

இவ்வாறு மரங்களின் மூலம் நிலத்தடி நீரை அடையாளம் கண்டார்கள். அங்கு நிலத்தைத் தோண்டி சுனைகளும், குளங்களும் வெட்டினார்கள். அந்த நீர் ஆதாரங்களை மக்கள் மாசு படுத்தி விடாமல் இருக்க, அங்கே பிள்ளையாரையும், புற்றுடன் கூடிய மரமாக இருந்தால் நாகத்தையும் பிரதிஷ்டை செய்தார்கள். புற்றாக இருந்தால் அதில் பால் தெளிப்பதன் மூலம், வெயில் காலங்களில் ஜலநாடி வற்றினாலும், அங்குள்ள மண் குளிர்ந்தே இருக்கும், இதனால், புற்றுக்குக் கீழே நிலத்தடியில் வாழும் பாம்புகள் வெளியே வராது. புற்றுக்குப் பால் தெளிப்பதில் இந்த நன்மையும் இருக்கிறது.

பிள்ளையார் வழிபாட்டில், ஜலநாடியை அடையாளம் காட்டும் மரங்களின் பழங்களைப் பயன்படுத்தினால் அந்த மரங்களை மக்கள் அழிந்துவிடாமல் காப்பாற்றுவார்கள் என்ற எண்ணத்தில் இப்படி ஏற்படுத்தி இருக்கிறார்கள். இந்த இரு மரங்களைப் போல அரச மரம், ஆல மரத்துக்கு அருகிலும் நீரோட்டம் செல்லும். ஆனால் அவற்றுக்கு ஒரு தெய்வீகத்தன்மை இருப்பதால் நினைத்த மாத்திரத்தில் மக்கள் அந்த மரங்களை அழிப்பதில்லை. ஆனால் விளாமரத்துக்கும், நாவல் மரத்துக்கும் அந்த மரியாதை கொடுப்பதில்லை. அவற்றை அழித்து விட்டால், நீரோட்டம் கண்டுபிடிப்பது கடினமாகி விடும். இதன் காரணமாக இந்த மரங்களின் பழங்களை நைவேத்தியப் பொருட்களாக ஏற்படுத்தி இருக்கிறார்கள்.

இன்று இந்த மரங்களை நாம் தேடிப்பார்க்க வேண்டும். அந்த அளவுக்கு அவற்றை அழித்து விட்டார்கள். அதனால் மக்களுக்குத்தான் தொல்லை. நீரோட்டம் எங்கு செல்கிறது என்று தெரியாததால், ஜலநாடிகள் ஓடும் இடங்களில் இன்று குடியிருப்புகளைக் கட்டி விடுகிறார்கள். மழை பெய்தால், எங்கோ பெய்த மழை நீராக இருந்தாலும், இந்த ஜல நாடிகளில் வந்து சேர்ந்து விடும். அதனால் மழை பெய்து பல நாட்களான பிறகும், வீட்டைச் சுற்றிக் குளம் போல தண்ணீர் தேங்கி நிற்கும் நிலை ஏற்படுகிறது. அதற்குப் பிறகு பிள்ளையாரே, பெருமாளே எனக்கு நிம்மதி இல்லையே என்று கேட்டு என்ன பயன்? இயற்கைக்கும் நல்லது, மக்களுக்கும் நல்லது என்று நம் முன்னோர்கள் ஏற்படுத்தி வைத்த வழி முறைகளைப் பின் பற்றாததால் வந்த வினை இது. இனியேனும் மரங்களைக் காப்போம். பிள்ளையார் வழிபாட்டில் இருக்கும் இயற்கைப் பாதுகாப்பைத் தெரிந்து கொண்டு மரங்களைப் பராமரிப்போம்.

Related post:-

Science of detecting underground water veins.


Monday, August 29, 2011

‘Makkal TV’ debate on Tamil New Year.


Today I happened to watch a debate in Makkal TV on the change of Tamil New Year to Chiththirai and wish to note down here some of my observations.


The debate was not a balanced one as there were 2 persons speaking for Thai (Pushya maasam) as the first month of the Year and only one person speaking for Chiththirai. This resulted in more time given for Thai – side. The speaker for Chiththirai was constantly interrupted by the others thereby not giving him room for replying to their side of arguments. But there is not much to lose as they could not give one proof or explanation to say that Thai was the first month of the Year. All they were saying were repeats of what Karunanidhi used to say, accusing of Aryan and the so-called  Sanskrit  influence on Tamil. If their view is to be accepted, we have to throw all works in Tamil including Sangam literature and Tholkappiyam to dustbin and start a new literature in Tamil. May be that is what Karunanidhi attempted to do by making a beginning in Samaccher kalvi books (Uniform Syllabus) by  filling them with his and Kanimozhi's 'poems'


 

The change to Thai effected by Karunanidhi was based on the suggestion mooted by a conference of Maraimalai Adigal with 500 Tamil scholars. There exists no records of that Conference, no records on who those 500 scholars were,  nor about the materials  accessed by them that made them  come to the conclusion that ancient Tamils celebrated New Year in Thai.  From the way the debaters for Thai failed to give any clue on what they spoke and who they were showed that it was more like a conglomeration of "Tamil Scholars" of the kind we saw in last year's Semmozi Maanadu.  What was to be essentially dismissed as of little significance has been given importance by Karunanidhi and made an issue.

 

Coming to what the debaters for Thai spoke, it was a good joke because what one debater of Thai said was off set by the other debater for Thai! One said that the traditional Tamil New Year on Chiththirai was a Vedic influence.  He also raked up the defunct Aryan influence and said the traditional one  in Chiththirai was thrust on Tamils. He conveniently forgot that 2 of the 5 Thinais of ancient Tamils had Aryan (Vedic) Gods namely Varuna and Indra. Does he mean to say that Tholkaappiyam which gives the system of these Gods is a book thrust on Tamils?


 

Interestingly, the other debater for Thai harped exactly on Vedic concept of Uththarayana and said that it marked the beginning of the Year.

The very term Uththarayana is a Sanskrit term having importance in Vedic culture. In those days Uththarayana homas were done. Vedanga Jyothisha locates the beginning of Yuga (5 year Yuga called as Pancha Varshathmaka Yuga) at the beginning of Uththarayana. The Rik Jyothisha of Lagadha says in verse 5 that when the sun and the moon enter Dhanishta constellation, the yuga begins. In the next verse he explains that in the beginning of Dhanishta, Surya and Chandra move towards the North and form the midst of Aslesha they move towards the South – thereby indicating that he is talking about the 2 ayanas. The Vedic Yuga of 5 years meant for Homas started in Utharayana!  Would our Tamil scholar agree that it is what the Tamils followed in those days?  Anyway thanks to him for accepting that Tamils followed Vedic beginning of Uththarayana.

 


The Uththarayana started in Dhanishta during Lagadha's period. (Lagadha was the author of Rik Jyothisha). The Jain astrological work called Surya Pragnapti was written in the period when the Uthatharayana started in Abhijit!  Their Yuga started in Abhijit. Abhijit was the star that occupied the space which is now attributed to Uththrashada 4th pada and 50 minutes of the first degree of Shravana. That star is no longer in the reckoning now. But it was in the reckoning at that time.

 


The Utharayana started in the 2nd pada of Uththrashada in Varahamihira's time. The Pancha Varshathmaka yuga started at that time in Varahamihira's period. Thus we see that this Ayana coinciding with Year / Yuga was very much a Vedic concept. But the speaker for Thai, quoted this Vedic concept to support Thai as the first month for Tamils!

 


Even if we were to accept his version of New Year in Thai, today Uththarayana  does not start in the first degree of Makara, (Uththrashada 2nd pada) but starts in the 2nd pada of Moola. (6th day of Maargazi).  This system of Yuga and year were given up when Pancha varshathmaka yuga based Vedic austerities were no longer done.  Without any idea about what these things mean or what these are about, these 'scholars' keep harping on Vedic concepts saying that they want to cleanse Tamil of any Vedic or Sanskrit influence!!

 


However this debater did catch up with the year from Chiththirai but dismissed it as something applicable to agriculture. Does he not know that agriculture and food production are the very basis of a culture and its people?  The New Year in chiththirai precisely gives clues about the rainfall, agricultural produce, price level of different commodities, the nature of flora and fauna in the coming year and overall happiness of the people based on these factors. Only these are indicated by the Year names and Year lords. The Tamil society was predominantly agricultural society as known from the Muthal, kerup poruL of the 5 ThiNais. The Chola desam  was known for food production only. (சோழ நாடு சோறுடைத்து)


 

Their arguments which can at best be qualified as personal views would not stand for scrutiny in an informed Forum. But they showed the true agenda behind the change of the Year to Thai when they said that not all Tamils can celebrate it if it is in Chiththirai! Yes not all those who speak Tamil can celebrate it because it is essentially a Hindu festival. But that was not so until Tamils were converted to Abrahamic religions.  All the people of Tamilnadu were Hindus only until conversions took place and even the Jain influence was temporary. In their anxiety to make the Tamil New Year relevant to Christians and Muslims who speak Tamil, they went to the extent of saying that the ancient Tamils had no religion and that sangam literature does not speak of any religion. They even said that there is no religion called Hinduism.  

 


This shows how little they know of not only of Hinduism but also of Tamil literature. This also confirmed my opinion expressed in a previous post* that a section of people like these so-called scholars are worried that a day would come when Tamils following Tamil culture would start considering the converts to Abrahamic religions as non-Tamils.  It is true that Tamil speaking non Hindus cannot be called as Tamils as they do not follow the customs of ancient Tamils. To offset this view, Karunanidhi & Co invented Samaththuvap pongal (Pongal common to all people), least knowing that Pongal as such was never a festival in Tamil lands but only a modification of Makara Sankaranthi  which is celebrated throughout India on the first day of Thai.

 

Theirs is a mischievous agenda by which they are trying to undermine our culture, the culture of Tamil Hindus. We don't ask them to celebrate Tamil New Year's day in Chiththirai. Let them celebrate their festivals imported from foreign lands. But we want to retain our festivals of our land. Let them not meddle with our festivals. They have left their mother religion. They have left their mother culture. Why do they want this festival of mother culture?

 

*A big thanks to Ms Jayalalithaa for restoring Tamil New Year in Chiththirai. (or) Who is a Tamilian?

 

Written script existed in Tamilnadu before Ashoka.

A recent finding in Tamilnadu puts the date of Tamil Brahmi script at 3rd Century BC, that is before Ashoka and along with the times of Nandas. Popular linguistic scholars do not accept this time. But a verse in Aga nanuru mentioned Nanda kings and how Tamils had gone to their kingdom in Pataliputhra. Since the issue is on written script, how would they interpret the existence of this verse - in oral form or written form?

(அகம் 265)
பல்புகழ் நிறைந்த வெல்போர் நந்தர்
சீர்மிகு பாடலிக் குழீஇக், கங்கை
நீர்முதற் கரந்த நிதியம் கொல்லோ?

*******************

From

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article2408091.ece

Palani excavation triggers fresh debate


Did the Tamil-Brahmi script originate in the post-Asokan period, that is, after the 3rd century BCE, or is it pre-Asokan? A cist-burial excavated in 2009 at Porunthal village, on the foothills of the Western Ghats, 12 km from Palani in Tamil Nadu, has reignited this debate because of the spectacular variety of grave goods it contained.


One of the two underground chambers of the grave was remarkable for the richness of its goods: a skull and skeletal bones, a four-legged jar with two kg of paddy inside, two ring-stands inscribed with the same Tamil-Brahmi script reading "va-y-ra" (meaning diamond) and a symbol of a gem with a thread passing through it, 7,500 beads made of carnelian, steatite, quartz and agate, three pairs of iron stirrups, iron swords, knives, four-legged jars of heights ranging from few centimetres to one metre, urns, vases, plates and bowls. It was obviously a grave that belonged to a chieftain ( The Hindu , June 28, 2009 and Frontline , October 8, 2010).


When K. Rajan, Professor, Department of History, Pondicherry University, excavated this megalithic grave, little did he realise that the paddy found in the four-legged jar would be instrumental in reviving the debate on the origin of the Tamil-Brahmi script. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of the paddy done by Beta Analysis Inc., Miami, U.S.A, assigned the paddy to 490 BCE. "Since all the goods kept in the grave including the paddy and the ring-stands with the Tamil-Brahmi script are single-time deposits, the date given to the paddy is applicable to the Tamil-Brahmi script also," said Dr. Rajan. So the date of evolution of Tamil-Brahmi could be pushed 200 years before Asoka, he argued.


This dating, done on the Porunthal paddy sent to the U.S. laboratory by Dr. Rajan, took the antiquity of the grave belonging to the early historic age to 490 BCE, he said. It held great significance for Tamil Nadu's history, he added. This was the first time an AMS dating was done for a grave in Tamil Nadu.


There are two major divergent views on the date of Tamil-Brahmi.

While scholars such as Iravatham Mahadevan and Y. Subbarayalu hold the view that Tamil-Brahmi was introduced in Tamil Nadu after 3rd century BCE and it is, therefore, post-Asokan, some others including K.V. Ramesh, retired Director of Epigraphy, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), consider it pre-Asokan.


According to Dr. Rajan, the AMS dating of the Porunthal paddy grains has the following implications: the context of the Tamil-Brahmi goes back to 490 BCE and it is, therefore, pre-Asokan; Tamil Nadu's ancient history can be pushed back to 5th century BCE and it was contemporary to mahajanapadas (kingdoms) such as Avanti, Kosala, Magadha and so on; paddy cultivation goes back to 5th century BCE; and it establishes that the megalithic graves introduced in the Iron Age continued into the early historic times.


When contacted, Mr. Mahadevan, a leading authority on the Tamil-Brahmi and Indus scripts, and Dr. Subbarayalu, Head, Department of Indology, French Institute of Pondicherry, said it was difficult to reach a conclusion on the basis of one single scientific dating.


Mr. Mahadevan described the dating as "interesting" but said "multiple carbon-dates are needed" for confirmation. "If there are several such cases, history has to be re-written because up to now, the scientifically proved earliest date is from Tissamaharama in southern Sri Lanka, where a Tamil-Brahmi script is dated to 200 BCE." If there is scientific evidence that the paddy is dated to 490 BCE, "we have to sit up and take notice, and wait for confirmation," Mr. Mahadevan said.


The Asokan-Brahmi is dated to 250 BCE. Megasthenes, the Greek Ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, Emperor Asoka's grandfather, had stated that the people of Chandragupta Maurya's kingdom did not know how to write and that they depended on memory. Besides, there is no inscription of the pre-Asoka period available. Mr. Mahadevan said: "Supposing a large number of carbon-datings are available from various sites, which will take us to the period of the Mauryas and even the Nandas, we can consider. But to push [the date of the origin of the Tamil-Brahmi script] a couple of centuries earlier with a single carbon-dating is not acceptable because chances of contamination and error are there."


Dr. Subbarayalu also argued that on the basis of one single scientific dating, it was difficult to reach the conclusion that Tamil-Brahmi was pre-Asokan. There should be more evidence to prove that Tamil-Brahmi was earlier to the time of Asoka, in whose time was available the earliest Brahmi script in north India.


Mr. Mahadevan's conclusion that Tamil-Brahmi is post-Asokan and it had its advent from about the middle of the third century BCE is based on "concrete archaeological as well as palaeographical grounds" and this date is as yet the most reasonable one, in spite of minor points of difference on his dating of individual inscriptions, said Dr. Subbarayalu.


The date of the Tamil-Brahmi script found at Porunthal, on palaeographic basis, could be put only in the first century BCE/CE and "cannot be pushed back to such an early date [490 BCE]." The three letters "va-y-ra" found on the ring-stands were developed and belonged to the second stage of Mr. Mahadevan's dating of Tamil-Brahmi. "It is premature to revise the Tamil-Brahmi dating on the basis of a single carbon date, which is governed by complicated statistical probabilities," Dr. Subbarayalu said. The word "vayra" is an adapted name from the Prakrit or Sanskrit "vajra" and it is difficult to explain convincingly the generally dominant Prakrit element in Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions found on rock and pot-sherds if Tamil-Brahmi is indigenous and pre-Asokan and transported from south India to north India, he says.


On the other hand, Dilip K. Chakrabarti, Emeritus Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, called the Porunthal Tamil-Brahmi script "an epoch-making discovery in the archaeology of Tamil Nadu" and said there "is no doubt" that Tamil-Brahmi belonged to the pre-Asokan period. In two of his books — "An Oxford Companion to Indian Archaeology" and "India, an Archaeological History" — he had written that the evolution of Tamil-Brahmi should go back to circa 500 BCE.


He refuted the theory that Tamil-Brahmi was post-Asokan.

Dr. Ramesh, who retired as the ASI's Joint Director-General in 1993, said the Porunthal scientific dating strengthened the argument that Tamil-Brahmi was pre-Asokan. He dismissed the assessment that Tamil-Brahmi was post-Asokan as "the argument of people who say that there cannot be pre-Asokan inscriptions." "How can you question the scientific dating given by an American laboratory?" Dr. Ramesh said the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions found at Mankulam, near Madurai, were pre-Asokan. [The Mankulam inscriptions are the earliest Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and they are dated to second century BCE]. "The consonants in the Mankulam inscriptions do not have vowel value attached to them. They are pre-Asokan and the script is more rudimentary than the Asokan-Brahmi," he claimed.


The date given by the American laboratory was "a wonderful result," said M.R. Raghava Varier, former Professor, Department of History, Calicut University, "because the earliest date given so far to a south Indian site was 300 BCE." The archaeological sites of Uraiyur in Tamil Nadu and Arikkamedu in Puducherry fell within the time-limit of 300 BCE and Arikkamedu belonged to a later period than Uraiyur. While the [pre-Asokan] date given to a Tamil-Brahmi inscription found at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka "has not been proved convincingly," there was "a convincing date" at Porunthal and it was based on a scientific dating system, said Professor Varier, who was the honorary Editor of Kerala Archaeological Series. Its importance lay in the fact that while the Asokan-Brahmi began in the 3rd century BCE, the Porunthal script could be dated to 5th century BCE, he says. "But we cannot argue that Brahmi was invented by the southern people. That is a different issue."


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Are fasts weapons of blackmail?


Even since revolution erupted in Egypt, we have been talking about the need for a revolution in India too. It was based on the perception that a collective will of the people must be expressed in strong terms so that the way this country is being run must be changed for better.  This urge found an outlet in Annaji's fast. There will be 2 types of talks on whether Annaji's fast really made any breakthrough or not. On my part I have the following views to share.


At the outset a fast brings into my mind 2 concepts of Vedic wisdom. One is the Vaisavanara and the other is an explanation from Chandhogya Upanishad  on what happens when one does not eat for 16 days but only survive on water.


Vaisvanara is an Agni which digests the food we eat. Generally the Vedic hymns consider Agni as a cleanser and a remover of sins. It is because Agni shines. Knowledge is born when darkness of ignorance is chased by the light shed by Agni. But the Vaisvanara Agni itself is considered as Knowledge or the Brahman which keeps the beings alive. This Agni is present in all living beings as the Fire of Digestion.  We eat to satisfy Vaisvanara. The first offering of food goes to this Vaisvanara. It is to satisfy Vaisvanara, we offer food to others. Thus goes the description about Vaisvanara.


When one denies food to himself, he is denying food to Vaisvanara. Even if there is denial of food, the body starts giving food to Vaisvanara by metabolizing  the stored food in tissues and proteins and fats. Thus even if a person denies food to himself,  he can not deny this food to Vaisvanara, the Brahman.  When the denial is done for a selfless cause, the Vaisvanara keeps awake and knows not to hurt the person. That is why a Gandhi or Anna who have been habitual deniers of food to this Vaisvanara for selfless causes have always withstood many days of fasting.

 

The 2nd concept is explained by Uddhalaka Aruni to his son ShwetaKetu in Chandogya Upanishad. Prana is sustained by water.  To test this Aruni tells Shwetaketu to forego food and subsist only on water. But there is a time limit for this. At the most a person can subsist  on water alone for  15 days only. On the 16th day, Aruni asks Shwetaketu to chant Vedic manthras. Shwetaketu could not recall the manthras. Aruni explains the reason for this. He says that the Purusha (Athman) has 16 kalas that help him to perform. Each day one kala diminishes with the denial of food to oneself. On the 16th day, the person is left with only one kala which is not enough for recalling or remembering anything. This means if a person goes without food for 16 days, he will lose his consciousness. He will faint or collapse.  This happens with a person who has a very regimented life style and a high level of inner strength. Annaji comes under this category. He had been telling that he would withstand the fast  for 2 weeks. This is the maximum limit as per Aruni's version also. I could not help connecting this view of the Upanishad with the way Annaji withstood the fast. With this background knowledge, I would say that it is mischievous on the part of rumor mongers  to say that the secret of his energy even after 12 days of fasting is that he had taken glucose water or water mixed with electrolytes.


The way the Prana shakthi is kept alert to tide over the crisis that is caused to the body by denial of food makes the fast a spiritual weapon and not a weapon of blackmail. Fasting is there in other religions too, but in Hinduism it is a weapon that helps for inner journey and also for outer good. Denial of food to oneself amounts to a kind of denial that acts as a punishment to others who err.

 

 In my own life, I have some vague images of my mother whom I lost at a very young age, resorting to this self denial to drive home a message to me, her child. She was inspired by Gandhian values and used to read out stories on Gandhian Ethos from the Tamil weekly 'Kalki' while feeding me. She was a strict disciplinarian that once when I made some mischief, she did not take food as a punishment to me! Until I realized my mistake and sought pardon from God by praying to Him in the Puja room in our house, she did not relent. By this she meant that I am answerable to God and for whatever wrong I do, she as one who nurtured me would have to bear the punishment. In reality, what she underwent became a punishment to me.


Thinking on these lines, what Anna did was not blackmail. It was a punishment for those responsible for making him fast. Their inner consciousness must have been nagging them all along that they would be responsible for whatever is happening to Anna due to his fast.


But in this Age of Kali, an additional dimension is needed to be present for the wrong doers to relent. It is the calculation of loss that makes them relent.

In the present episode of fast against corruption what had worked in the mind of the Congress managers are the political losses to be accrued. But they always make their strategies  BJP- centic. As long as BJP was dilly dallying on the support to Anna's fast and the finer points Jan Lokpal Bill, the Congress was not bothered about Annaji. But when the BJP went ahead with complete support to Anna, the Congress wants to take out the air from the BJP camp. Today we even heard a Congress leader telling that their handling of Anna's fast shows that they are the ones who care for fighting corruption!!


Corruption is going to be an issue in the next election and the party that catches up with the imagination of the vast middle class and the Youth will have an advantage in the hustings – and not those who make their strategy to counter the other's strategy. The latter category betrays lack of sincerity and commitment to cause.  It is time the BJP senses the pulse of the nation and its youth who constitute the majority of voters and take advantage of the upcoming Surya Dasa of the party's horoscope.

 

 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A big thanks to Ms Jayalalithaa for restoring Tamil New Year in Chiththirai. (or) Who is a Tamilian?

AS expected the CM of Tamilnadu brought a bill to restore the original Tamil New Year's day in Chiththirai. We appeal to her to bring in necessary legal clauses so that no Government in future can change the day.

I have written enough on the non-sustainability of that claim in many articles in this blogspot. Above all that I want to say only one thing here. The Tamil New Year is essentially a religious festival of the Tamils which is Hindu in essence. Hinduism has been the religion of the Tamils from times of yore. The Sangam assemblage that any Tamilian takes pride of, was initiated and headed by Lord Shiva. Any composition of Sangam text was dedicated to Lords Shiva, Goddess Saraswathy etc. Such being the background culture of the Tamils, I dare to say that only those who continue to stick to Hinduism can be considered as Tamils,

A Tamil is not a Tamil by virtue of having the ability to speak Tamil or for being born to parents who speak Tamil. But a Tamil is one who considers this land as his, the rivers as his and the Deities who are associated with this land and rivers as his. He may move to any other land, but only as long as he considers the deities of this land as his and follows the worship of these deities and the festivals of these deities, can he be considered as a Tamil. None others who  worship other deities can claim themselves as Tamils because just by speaking  Tamil, one can not to be considered as Tamils, By this Christians and Muslims who speak Tamil can not be considered as Tamils, just because they speak Tamil. Even we speak English but that does not make us English people, for the simple reason that  we do not follow English culture. Similarly let not all those Christians, Muslims and Atheists who do not follow the core principle of deity- culture of the ancient Tamils be not considered as Tamils.

They know this pretty well, that is why they are trying to subvert the Hindu basis of Tamil Culture in all possible ways of which the attempt to change the New Year to Thai was one. For all those who may find this view of mine as unacceptable, I want to draw attention to what Shahi Imam told yesterday on Anna Hazare movement. He called upon the muslims of this country not to support Anna's movement. Because they can not accept this land as their God. They can not call this land as their Mother or Goddess.  Similarly the Christian organizations have opposed Anna's movement. For these 2 communities, their Gods lie outside India. They can not accept the Gods of this land. The same logic holds good in the case of who a Tamil is.

A Tamil is one who swears allegiance to the numerous Hindu Gods of this land.Any one taking glory on Tamil's literary past and culture can not accept alien Gods imported from outside. Let all those who have allegiance to outside Gods, call themselves as Christians and Muslims who can speak Tamil but not as Tamils who are Christians and Muslims.

In the context I also wish to sound a warning to all those who have defied the Hindu culture of Tamils and taken refuge in alien religions, that defiance of Gods of Tamil land would only land them in trouble as those deities which were once worshiped by their Hindu ancestors are now neglected by them after they have embraced alien religions. That would afflict their off-springs from the 3rd generation onwards.

They want to claim yourselves as Tamils and not want to give up the language. Giving up a language would not do any harm. But giving up the deity of the land would do. More important than the language is the deity that guarded this land. By giving up these deities / by ignoring them, they have no right to claim any connection to Tamil lands and its basic culture which is Hindu.

To cite just one text, Silapapdhikaram, the favourite book of  the atheistic Karunanidhi is full of Hindu Gods, description of worship of those Gods, Hindu customs of which one full chapter was dedicated to the marriage of Kanangi and Kovalan which was done as a Brahma Vivaha and numerous narrations on Karma theory and many characters coming to know of the past birth happenings etc. This Karma theory is the very core of the Hindu Concept. Even the decision of the Cheran King to found a temple for Kanangi was made after a discussion with his wife on concept of Godhood of Hinduism.

The entire story of Kannagi was narrated to the author by Kannagi Herself according to this text. Before concluding Kannagi in Deity form (after consecration) delivers an advice to the author which is full of Hindu Thought. She begins by calling people to know what is God and search for God in order to get a better understanding. The last advice is to do good karma in order to get a better rebirth! These two certainly can have no resonance with the Christians and Muslims. Any one shifting to these 2 religions, automatically forfeit their connection to Tamil culture and therefore to Tamil language. But these people and atheists do not accept this. That is why they are causing trouble to True Tamils by meddling with their customs and culture.

(Given below is the full text of Kannagi's advice to Ilango in the last chapter of Silappadhikaram)

”தெய்வம் தெளிமின் தெளிந்தோர்ப் பேணுமின்
பொய்யுரை அஞ்சுமின் புறஞ்சொல் போற்றுமின்
ஊனூண் துறமின் உயிர்க்கொலை நீங்குமின்
தானம் செய்ம்மின் தவம்பல தாங்குமின்.
செய்ந்நன்றி கொல்லன்மின் தீநட் பிகழ்மின்
பொய்க்கரி போகன்மின் பொருண்மொழி நீங்கன்மின்
அறவோர் அவைக்களம் அகலாது அணுகுமின்
பிறவோர் அவைக்களம் பிழைத்துப் பெயர்மின்
பிறர்மனை அஞ்சுமின் பிழையுயிர் ஓம்புமின்
அறமனை காமின் அல்லவை கடிமின்
கள்ளும் களவும் காமமும் பொய்யும்
வெள்ளைக் கோட்டியும் விரகினில் ஒழிமின்
இளமையும் செல்வமும் யாக்கையும் நிலையா
உளநாள் வரையாது ஒல்லுவ தொழியாது.
செல்லும் தேஎத்துக் குறுதுணை தேடுமின்
மல்லல்மா ஞாலத்து வாழ்வீர் ஈங்கென்”




*******************************

From

http://newstodaynet.com/newsindex.php?id=24468%20&%20section=6

Tamil New Year back to Chithirai

NT Bureau | Tue, 23 Aug, 2011,01:50 PM

.

In a significant move, the Tamilnadu Assembly today passed a Bill shifting back the Tamil New Year to the original month of Chithirai (mid-April), laying to rest the previous DMK government's out of the blue declaration of changing the age-old practice to mid-January.
.
The Bill tabled in the House by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister S P Shanmuganathan said that members of the public, archealogical experts, pundits, astronomy exponents and others have expressed the opinion that the DMK goverment's 2008 decision to shift the Tamil New Year was against the practice of centuries.
'They requested the government to revert the Tamil New Year to the month of Chithirai,' the Bill said and added that there are a lot of practical difficulties among the people to celebrate Pongal as the Tamil New year Day.
'Hence it has been decided to declare once again the first day of Chithirai as the Tamil New Year day,' the Bill said.
When the Bill was tabled, CPI(M) MLA A Soundararajan and CPI legislator Guasekaran said that they opposed the Bill and requested the Speaker to send it to the Standing Committee.
Later, the Bill was taken up for discussion through a resolution brought by Finance Minister and Leader of the House O Panneerselvam and was passed as Law.
The Tamilnadu government in 2008 decided to declare the first day of the Tamil month Thai as the Tamil New Year Day.
According to the previous regime, the decision was taken in view of the 'consensus' amongst Tamil scholars that the first of Thai is the first day of the Tamil year.
'Till now, the people celebrated 14 April (the first of Chithirai, an auspicious month for conducting marriages) as Tamil New Year Day.
Now those who celebrate Pongal as the festival of Tamils can celebrate it as Tamil New Year Day also with redoubled joy', the erstwhile government said.
Former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, while inaugurating the Chennai Sangamam, a 'controversial' cultural extravaganza, had announced that Thai 1 would henceforth be celebrated as Tamil New Year Day along with Pongal, the festival of harvest.
 --------------------------------------------------------------


http://www.dinamani.com/edition/story.aspx?&SectionName=Latest%20News&artid=465657&SectionID=164&MainSectionID=164&SEO=&Title=



தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம் சுய விளம்பரத்துக்காக இயற்றப்பட்டது: முதல்வர்

First Published : 23 Aug 2011 03:47:47 PM IST

சென்னை, ஆக. 23: தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம் முன்னாள் முதல்வர் கருணாநிதியால் சுயவிளம்பரத்துக்காக இயற்றப்பட்டது என்றும் இதனால் மக்களுக்கு எந்தவித நன்மையும் இல்லை என்றும் முதல்வர் ஜெயலலிதா சட்டப்பேரவையில் இன்று தெரிவித்தார்.இதுதொடர்பாக சட்டப்பேரவையில் அவர் இன்று பேசியதாவது:தமிழ் மொழி மீதும், தமிழர்கள் மீதும், தனக்கு மட்டுமே அக்கறை இருப்பது போன்ற ஒரு மாயத் தோற்றத்தை பொதுமக்கள் மத்தியில் உருவாக்குவதற்காக, முன்னாள் முதல்வர் கருணாநிதியால் தமிழ்நாடு தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு சட்டம், 2008 ஆம் ஆண்டு இயற்றப்பட்டது. இந்தச் சட்டம், ஒரு சுய விளம்பரத்திற்காக இயற்றப்பட்டதே தவிர, இந்தச் சட்டத்தினால் மக்களுக்கு,  எந்த வித நன்மையும் இல்லை. மாறாக, ஆண்டாண்டு காலமாக சித்திரை மாதப் பிறப்பை தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டாக கொண்டாடிக் கொண்டு இருக்கும் தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளை புண்படுத்தும் விதமாக இந்தச் சட்டம் அமைந்துள்ளது.ஒரு நாட்டிலே, ஒரு சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுகிறது என்றால், அந்தச் சட்டம், அந்த நாட்டு மக்களுக்கு பயன்பட வேண்டும்; அல்லது, இது போன்ற சட்டம் தேவை என்று மக்கள் கோரிக்கை விடுத்திருக்க வேண்டும். இது மட்டுமல்லாமல், அந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுவதற்கான காரணங்கள் தெளிவாக தெரிவிக்கப்பட வேண்டும். இவை எதுவுமே இல்லாமல், யாருக்கும் பயனளிக்காத ஒரு சட்டத்தை முந்தைய தி.மு.க. அரசு ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளது. இந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்பட்டதையடுத்து, உடனடியாக சென்னையில்  கருணாநிதிக்கு பாராட்டு விழா நடத்தப்பட்டது.  கருணாநிதியின் துதிபாடிகள் அனைவரும் அவரைப் போற்றினர். இதை தவிர, வேறு யாருக்கும் எந்த வித நன்மையும் இந்தச் சட்டத்தினால் ஏற்படவில்லை. தமிழக மக்கள் மத்தியில் தன்னை விளம்பரப்படுத்திக் கொள்வதற்காக,  தமிழுக்கு மிகப் பெரிய சிறப்பினை செய்தது போன்ற ஒரு மாயத் தோற்றத்தை உருவாக்குவதற்காக, இது போன்ற சட்டத்தினை கருணாநிதி இயற்றியுள்ளார்.தமிழர் காலக் கணிப்பு முறையின்படி, ஒரு ஆண்டுக்குரிய 12 மாதங்களில் சித்திரை முதலாவது மாதமாகும். இது சூரியனின் நகர்வை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு கணிக்கப்படுகிறது. சூரியன், மேஷ ராசிக்குள் நுழைவதிலிருந்து, அந்த ராசியை விட்டு வெளியேறும் வரையில் உள்ள காலம் சித்திரை மாதம் ஆகும். ஆண்டின் தொடக்கம் வசந்தமாக இருக்க வேண்டும் என்ற அடிப்படையில், சித்திரை மாதத்தை ஆண்டுத் தொடக்கமாக நம் மூதாதையர்கள் கணக்கிட்டுள்ளார்கள் என்று கூறப்படுகிறது. பல்லாண்டு காலமாக, சித்திரை முதலாம் நாளையே புத்தாண்டாக தமிழர்கள் கொண்டாடி வருகின்றனர்.சித்திரை மாதத்தில் புத்தாண்டு தொடங்குவது என்பது, வான நூலையும், பருவங்களின் சுழற்சியையும் அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டது. எனவே, பருவங்களின் சுழற்சியை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு, இயற்கையை ஒட்டி, சித்திரை மாதத்தைத் தொடக்க மாதமாகக் கொண்டமைந்த ஆண்டு கணக்கீடு தான் பூர்விகத் தமிழ் மரபாக இருக்க முடியும். கோடைக் காலமே முதலாவது பருவம் என சீவக சிந்தாமணியில் வருணிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.சித்திரையே வா! நம் வாழ்வில் நல் முத்திரை பதிக்க வா! என்று சொல்லும் மரபு இருக்கும் காரணத்தால், சித்திரை மாதமே தமிழ் புத்தாண்டுக்கு உரிய, பொருத்தமான நாள் ஆகும் என மதுரை ஆதினம் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளார். சித்திரைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளை ஆண்டின் துவக்க நாளாகக் கொண்டாடலாம் என பல அறிஞர்கள் கருத்து தெரிவித்துள்ளனர். பண்டைத் தமிழர் வானவியல் ஆதாரப்படி, தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் சித்திரை மாதம் தான்.சங்க  இலக்கியத்தின் மிகப் பழைய இலக்கியமான, பத்துப்பாட்டு இலக்கியத்தின் நெடுநல்வாடையில், சூரியன் மேஷத்தில் சஞ்சாரம் செய்து சுழற்சியைத் தொடங்கும் உண்மையை நக்கீரனார் தெளிவுபடுத்தி இருக்கிறார். சென்னைப் பல்கலைக்கழகத்தால் 1912 ஆம் ஆண்டில் பதிப்பிக்கப்பட்ட தமிழ் பேரகராதியிலும் சித்திரை முதல் நாளே தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு என்று குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது. அரசவைக் கவிஞராக இருந்த நாமக்கல் வி. ராமலிங்கம் பிள்ளை அவர்களும், சித்திரை மாதத்தில் புத்தாண்டு தெய்வம் திகழும் திருநாட்டில் என்ற தனது வாழ்த்துப் பாடலின் மூலம் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டின் தொடக்கம் சித்திரை மாதம் என்பதைத் தெளிவுபடுத்தியுள்ளார்.மேலும், பல்வேறு கல்வெட்டுகளும், எண்ணற்ற இலக்கியங்களும், சித்திரை மாதம் முதல் நாளன்று தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு தொடங்குவதை உறுதிப்படுத்துகின்றன.இந்தச் சட்ட முன்வடிவு, சட்டப் பேரவையில் தாக்கல் செய்யப்பட்ட போது, இதை வரவேற்று பேசிய மார்க்சிஸ்ட் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி உறுப்பினர்,  என். நன்மாறன், தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டை மாற்றி அமைத்ததற்கான காரணங்கள் இருந்தால் அதை தெளிவுபடுத்த வேண்டும் என்று கூறி இருக்கிறார். ஆனால், கடைசி வரையில் அதற்கான காரணங்கள் தெளிவுபடுத்தப்படவில்லை.மேற்படிச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்படும் போது, அதற்கான நோக்கக் காரண விளக்க உரையில், தை திங்கள் முதல் நாள் தான் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் என்பது ஒட்டுமொத்தமாக எல்லாத் தமிழ் அறிஞர்களும் ஒப்புக் கொண்டுள்ள உண்மை என்பதால், தைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளையே தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டுத் தொடக்கம் என அறிவித்து, நடைமுறைப்படுத்திட அரசு முடிவு செய்துள்ளதாகவும், அதற்கு செயல் வடிவம் கொடுக்கும் பொருட்டு சட்டம் இயற்றப்படுவதாகவும் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.இந்தச் சட்டம் இயற்றப்பட்டு மூன்று ஆண்டுகளாகியும், சித்திரை திங்கள் முதல் நாளையே கோடான கோடி தமிழ் மக்கள் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு தினமாக கொண்டாடி வருகின்றனர்.   இந்தச் சட்டத்தை ரத்து செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று தமிழக மக்களிடமிருந்து அரசுக்கு கோரிக்கைகள் வந்துள்ளன. மக்கள் நம்பிக்கையை சட்டம் மூலம் மாற்றுவது சரியல்ல.எனவே, தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளுக்கும், கருத்துகளுக்கும் மதிப்பளிக்கும் வகையில், யாருக்கும் பயனளிக்காத, காலங்காலமாக போற்றி பாதுகாத்து வந்த மரபுகளை மீறுகின்ற, தமிழக மக்களின் உணர்வுகளை புண்படுத்துகின்ற, இந்தச் சட்டத்தினை ரத்து செய்வது தான் பொருத்தமாக இருக்கும்.இவ்வாறு முதல்வர் ஜெயலலிதா பேசினார்.

Why Anna's middle class has disdain for Parliament - Prof R Vaidyanathan



From

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/why-annas-middle-class-has-disdain-for-parliament-67213.html

Why Anna's middle class has disdain for Parliament

The poorer sections are more with Anna since he understands their hurt and loss and frozen anger at the government's minions and their daily dacoity at their expense.PTI

By

R Vaidyanathan

PROFESSOR OF FINANCE                                             

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT  

BANGALORE

The tripod constructed by Jawaharlal Nehru consisted of socialism, secularism and parliamentary supremacy.


The socialism part went with Narasimha Rao, even though the word is still in our constitution, which declares us to be a socialist republic. Every elected representative is forced to swear by it, exposing us to total hypocrisy in running our polity.


The day the law was amended to deny alimony to Shah Bano, the edifice of secularism, too, developed a crack. In a society which considers everything, including trees and animals, sacred, the notion of "secularism" was anyway a bit stretched. It came down fully with the Ayodhya agitation. However, our constitution includes secularism in its preface. The word was inserted into the constitution during the emergency, and was not a part of the original statute.


The third leg of the Nehruvian tripod, the primacy of Parliament in making laws, was treated with an enormous amount of respect, even reverence. Members of  state assemblies and Parliament were called law-makers even though a good number among them do not know what kind of laws they make. The disconnect between our burgeoning middle classes and the so-called law-makers has been widening in leaps and bounds in recent decades.


A great fault line has been developing for a while, and this hasn't been noticed by blind political experts. Today there is a huge trust deficit with the political class. In the early sixties, during the conflict with China, this author has seen women giving away their gold ornaments when leaders went around in jeeps to collect money for defence. Today, women will probably run inside their homes if they see a jeep with politicians asking for donations.


The Nehruvian middle class was essentially a public sector one: they tended to work in government, or in companies owned by government: HMT, Bhel, LIC, State Bank of India. Every engineer and accountant in the 1950s and 1960s aspired to work for these companies, and prepared massively for the stiff entrance tests.


The public sector middle class of those decades was often aligned with  Left unions. They sought the creation of more government entities and agitated for enhanced pay. They waved flags when Indira Gandhi nationalised banks. The middle classes shouted Inquilab Zindabad in processions those days. Bengal led this class, and so did Kerala.


This middle class influenced and infiltrated all aspects of Indian life, including the arts, cinema, literature, books and history. They selected their "intellectuals" and "academic leaders". The government was criticised, but only for being less leftist. They captured the Planning Commissions and hundreds of other academies. They were essentially government-subsidised revolutionaries. The pinnacle of their achievement was the creation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University – appropriately named – where "lal salaam" and "inquilab" could be paraded as serious academic research in social sciences.


It is not that the masses are dumb, but the law-makers are deaf. They talk about the supremacy of Parliament when the third leg of the Nehruvian tripod is about to collapse.


There was significant dissent even in such places, but largely between the extreme Left and the moderate Left.


But the 1980s and, especially the 1990s, were different periods. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a major marker on the side of ideology. Narasimha Rao understood history better than many historians. The economy opened up and a new middle class based on the service economy came in being. The share of the service sector moved to above 60 percent and its growth dictated the growth of the overall economy. Information technology (IT) became the new beacon for the middle class. Let's call them the software (SW) middle class.


Even though IT still forms a small part of our service economy, the fact is it has replaced the public sector middle class. The red flag changed colour, with a tinge of saffron. Its aspirations are different. It includes not just the employed white collar worker; it also contains a huge mass of the self-employed. Their numbers could be upwards of 20 crore – 200 million.


The disconnect between this middle class and the elected representatives is very large, particularly at the local level. For instance, in Bangalore or Mumbai, corporators have no connect with them, whether in terms of language, dress or idiom. Most corporators are road contractors or hooch traders or lottery barons and the middle class is alienated from them.


As for Parliament, who can deny that it has many members charged with criminal activities? The criticism that has been hurled against this new software middle class, which is largely with Anna Hazare, is that it does not fully understand our parliamentary system. Our Parliament is supreme and Anna is not an elected person, it is said.


Sure, but even Manmohan Singh is not an elected person. He hasn't even been freely elected by the Congress Parliamentary Party. The Congress constitution was amended in May 2004 to give Sonia Gandhi the right to choose the party's PM, and she chose Manmohan Singh. The National Advisory Council is not an elected body but it formulates laws which are accepted by the government.


Seen against this backdrop, the issue of being elected is treated as a joke by the middle class. The social contract of this middle class with a parliament that is supreme is over. It is time our parliamentarians — both ruling and opposition — realise this.


There is no point in asking why tribals and the poor are not at Ramlila Maidan. They simply can't afford to be there, or they will lose their daily earnings.


But it is more than likely that the poor are with Anna because corruption affects the corporations and the richer sections less. They can afford to pay bribes — and pass on the costs to their customers or employers. Corruption, for them, is thus just an irritating expense.


For my flower vendor in Bangalore, though, a bribe is a hurtful expense. It can be as much as Rs 30 on a Rs 300 turnover. Arm-chair Leftists who do not understand much about the real India go on arguing about how big business is with Anna. Maybe so. But the poorer sections are more with him since he understands their hurt and loss and frozen anger at the government's minions and their daily dacoity at their expense.


It is not that the masses are dumb, but the law-makers are deaf. They talk about the supremacy of Parliament when the third leg of the Nehruvian tripod is about to collapse. Are we in a position to deal with this? Are we going to mouth age-old slogans of the public sector middle classes of the 1960s or the new software middle classes? Is it possible to bring Parliament and other elected bodies in sync with the aspirations of the new middle classes?


Despite all the exhortations of Lenin and Mao, it is the middle class which leads change in our country – whether it was our independence struggle or the struggle against the emergency. If Parliament becomes irrelevant then it is a huge challenge for us to rework our institutions. That should be the focus now instead of the inane talk about how Parliament is supreme or the constitution is supreme or the people are supreme.


Maybe, the time has come to ask ourselves whether the current parliamentary system has outlived its purpose.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

The “Anna Hazare Phenomenon” and Yuga Dharma



Anna Hazare has become the rallying point for the people of India who have been feeling helpless in the face of corruption in every activity of life. Anna has become the voice of the people and he has sensed that. His increasing demands and so-called adamancy are the result of that awareness that people want a complete overhaul of the system. The people too are of the opinion that now is the time to put Government under pressure to change the way they function and hence their support for Annaji.   




There are many cynical talks going around against this movement by Anna. One such talk is about the game plan to induct Rahul in the melee. I don’t buy that talk because I am of a strong opinion that his horoscope does not support any political growth for him now. Even if he is ‘planted’ at the helm by his party, he will do his best to make himself unpopular. I would say that would be the best way to get rid of him from politics for the rest of his life. 


Another accusation is who gave authority to Anna to speak for the people. It is also said that this is a middle class flirting and that it does not reflect popular mood. I don’t agree with this line of thinking. This kind of movement gathers mass by its own weight. Here is a person who symbolizes everything that people idealize as opposed to Corruption. Deep inside the hearts of people there is a longing to see someone who looks clean and honest and whom they can emulate and glorify.  People thought that Manmohan Singh fitted such a description. Even Rajiv Gandhi was considered as Mr Clean in the beginning. People want someone who is all good and clean and lead them from the front. MMS failed them miserably. His so-called honesty is infact dishonesty shown to the people who trusted him. There is no way other than waiting for the next election to show their disgust against MMS and the way he allowed corruption to grow into monumental proportions.  In such a situation of no-hope, Annaji chipped in.


His Jan Lok pal Bill or his notions may not be agreeable to many. But he has given an outlet to channelize the frustration of the people. It may be argued that he is a middle class dream. But I think that is not the case. The poor and the ordinary are always on the sidelines. They are roadside watchers. But when their time comes they will also show their might. I will quote the recently held Tamilnadu elections to show how it happens. Prior to the elections we, the middle class and the educated were screaming against the way that DMK would go about corrupting the voters. The voters who were targeted by that party kept their silence even after the elections. They kept up such an image to the post-poll surveyors also. But the results showed that they had a mind of their own which they showed at the critical hour. Similarly the spate of complaints that we see against land grabbers in TN show that the poor actually know what is happening, but they don’t feel powerful enough to show their mind for everyone to see. They wait for their time. At the present juncture, all the sound bites would have reached them. Whatever is reaped as the fruits of this movement against corruption would also reach them.  


Yet another accusation against Anna’s fast is that it is a blackmail aimed at hitting the politicians. Given a chance many citizens would love to do that to the politician because almost everybody in the country has been affected in some way or the other by the politicians or those in power. There is no use blaming the TV media also saying that they are whipping up passions. They are doing their job as the 5th pillar of democracy. Even among the TV houses, not everyone is doing a non biased show. Some of the debates and talks convinced me that it is better to support Anna than to accept the accusations against his agenda.

  
Finally and most importantly there is an accusation that the Jan Lokpal Bill would give rise to running a parallel government. May be in today’s condition when we have a Prime Minister who does not take any responsibility or accountability or action against any of the mal practices, such a strong Bill would seem to be hard hitting on him and his authority and on other politicians. But think of the situation when a strong Bill is in place. The current crop of politicians would not contest the elections if a strong Lokpal Bill is in place. Most politicians are there in politics for making money and using authority to get things for them. When we have a deterrent in the form of a strong Lokpal Bill I don’t think people with such kind of mentality would come near politics at all. It is either you be honest and selfless or be punished. So we will have only honest and service minded people coming to politics when we have a strong Lokpal Bill.


When the political head and the politicians stick to honest ways, the entire bureaucracy will have to fall in line. This is a trickledown effect. People say that we have enough laws to curb corruption. But such laws were not put into use because of the absence of a strong leader. Here by strong leader we mean the one who would not tolerate corruption. That is not happening now. That is why it becomes imperative that even the highest authority and his men must be shown how to behave by means of a strong Jan Lokpal Bill. Such a bill would discourage dishonest and corrupt persons to take to politics. 


In this context I wish to talk about Yuga dharma and Dharma as such. 

According to Mahabharatha, Yuga is created by the ruler. When the ruler is good, then the Yuga is Kritha. This could happen even in Kali Maha yuga that is running now. In Kali Yuga they say Dharma stands on only one among four legs. That is, there is only a quarter of Dharma in what the people or the Rulers do. This can be changed by a Ruler who sticks to Dharma in full or atleast more than a quarter. For a ruler to be so in the current times, he has to be selfless and not aspiring for personal glory or material growth. In other words, he must not be greedy. 


The root cause of corruption in our country is greed. Greed is human nature according to Brihadaranyaka Upannishad (5-2). In an episode that explains what the Devas, the humans and the asuras learned from the Teacher (Prajapathy), it is said that the humans got the advice “da” which they understood as Dattha= giving. The human beings are so fond of possessions that giving in charity or giving up something is very difficult for them. Even if they give, they will be calculative of what they would get back by the act of giving. This nature has gone too far that today people think that they do bhakthi to God to get some returns from Him


With greed ruling the human nature in all spheres of activity, Anna’s decision to give up even the basic need of life, namely food, strikes a chord with the people! Politicians and cynics think that his fast amounts to blackmailing. But it is the right answer to show the people that tyaagam or giving up is the solution to end corruption. Don’t aspire for yourself, but live for others when you come to public life. This basic solution indicated in Braihadaranyaka Upanishad holds good for all times and for all ills.


It is by giving up or renunciation, the ultimate goal of human life, Moskha is attained.  It is by giving up you become qualified to lead others into the path of ethics. It is the ideal solution that people are unconsciously drawn into, that saw Mahathma Gandhi succeed and could perhaps make Anna succeed in getting the Government and its leaders to correct the system for public good. 


This is the Yuga dharma – overcoming greed and being selfless where public good is involved. A leader or ruler having this quality would inspire the masses and succeed in ushering in a sense of morality in the people.
This is also the Dharma of current times. Dharma is what must be supported or sustained at a moment for larger good. The current times demand that Anna’s crusade is supported – even if more demands are put forth by him– to make the Government do an agni pareeksha to itself and come out clean or perish in the agni.


A fine article on the issue of corruption in India and a solution to it had been recently written by Stephan Knapp which I am posting below. He thinks that moral education in the form of stories of dharma from Mahabharatha and Ramayana must become part of the curriculum to inculcate a sense of righteousness in the young minds. I think that is already happening though not through school lessons. The rise of the student community and youth in general is visible now and was visible at the time of elections in Tamilnadu.  I think the home based grooming in ethics and dharmic sense is there in many households in India. Our youth will carry forth this torch of Dharma to their next generation. But they have to keep a watchful eye against greed taking over everything. Hope they will.

-          Jayasree 

 *****************

From

A Cure for the Corruption in India

By Stephen Knapp
  

            Martin Luther King once said that he had a dream of when men would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. But I say it is up to the individual to put some content in his character. Otherwise a man will be judged by whatever traits are perceived by others. And corruption in the activities of a person is a sign of a lack of proper content. And if there are numerous individuals, especially in high places, involved in crime and corruption, so goes the character and reputation of the country. 

            Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the state or government provides the means and education for its citizens to develop the right content in their character. This is the importance of character development with nation building.
            
Throughout my travels in India, while lecturing at so many cities and venues, it is not unusual for businessmen, industrialists, or even professors to ask me what I think should be done about all the corruption in India, which exists on every level. We all hear about the corruption in politics, and what intrigue goes on amongst the politicians, but it goes on in so many small enterprises, too. Like paying the bribes to get a phone line in your house. Innocent people have to bribe bureaucrats, police and even judicial officials to get anything done. Or how, as one friend told me, he took a test for his driving license three times, and they never even looked at the test but denied him each time, until he realized he had to pay a bribe for it. After he paid the clerk an extra Rs. 2000, he then took the test a fourth time and they still never looked at it, but this time he got his license. 

            Another example of corruption that a friend told me about was when he was riding on a train and met a government inspector who told him the story of how the military men were getting sick from all kinds of digestive problems. They narrowed down the cause to the cooking oil that was being used in preparing the food served to the men in the military. They identified a possible source for the oil, and the inspector went to the company that was producing the oil and discovered that the owner of the company was adding all kinds of polluted oil to the regular oil he was making, which is what was causing the men to get sick. The inspector told the owner of what had been found, and the owner asked how much the inspector wanted in order for him to write a positive report for the military. So the company owner paid a large bribe to the inspector who took the money and gave a good report about the company and the oil it was producing. So the military went on purchasing this contaminated oil that is probably still making the military men sick at several bases. 


            One more example is that some years ago the Japanese had offered to help with cleaning the Yamuna River, which is so contaminated around the Delhi area that it cannot support any life. It is a dead river there. So, the Japanese offered $20,000,000 to build a cleaning plant to help clean the water before it continued on its way. By the time all the bribes had been taken out, all that was left was $1,000,000. So, you can still see the small cleaning plant that had been built in the Vrindavana area, but a far bigger plant should have and could have been built to actually help the country and the people that depend on the water of the Yamuna River. 


            No doubt, much of what is wrong with India in this sense can be found everywhere. It is not only India. And I have often said that if you could see the corruption that goes on behind closed doors amongst politicians in America, you would be shocked. Or maybe not, depending on how aware you have been of what really goes on. But things have to change. 


            The British also helped jump start this corruption by two things: First the bureaucracy they established in their managerial system which they used against the Indians, most of which was adopted by the Indians in the form of a Parliamentary government and which allows for the loopholes and cracks in the system for the continuation of so much corruption. Secondly, while under the British, the citizens of India were forced to struggle so hard to exist that it forced them to think in terms of the survival of their own immediate family while giving up the consideration of the whole community. After so many years of that conditioning, this need for self-preservation and the desire to fulfill selfish concerns went from one generation to the next until it became a general trend to get whatever you need regardless of the consequences or how it affects others


            The Indian constitution itself, under the guise of freedom and fairness for the minority religions, fuels corruption and inequality by favoring the few at the expense of the majority Vedic or Hindu population. How can this inspire a united vision? 


Furthermore, dishonesty and fraud in India has reached even the Supreme Court Chief Justices and several High Court Justices, which have been involved in prominent levels of corruption. We also have seen the reports about those presently in power (March, 2011) who are looting millions of rupees from India, and depositing it into secret accounts abroad. And they only pave the way for more of their own kind to be elected in order to make things easier for themselves. 


We all know that a politician or person of influence is not to amass wealth dishonestly, and then indulge in extravagance or ostentatious living. Nor is he or she meant to give favors to their relatives, or their supporters or business associates by conferring special privileges or kickbacks to them. This is nothing but the misuse of the power and position of the office, a misappropriation of public funds, and the abuse of power, as well as the root cause of the rampant corruption that has become so noticeable throughout India. 


We have also seen the wealthy spend millions of dollars on nothing more than a marriage ceremony for their children, just for the sake of mainly creating a spectacle to be noted in the press, or to outdo some other wealthy person’s wedding. This kind of thing is but a huge black spot of selfishness on the character of the persons who make such arrangements when certainly the ceremony could have been limited in its expense, and the money that was saved could have been used for something far more practical or beneficial. That would have been worth noting in the media. In fact, people should make an example of spending less on their momentary weddings and then giving more money to a worthy cause.  


            So, obviously, the kind of corruption we are pointing out goes on because of a lack of morals in the content of one’s character. This is what has to change. India is obviously progressing economically and technologically, but this corruption really slows down the amount and speed of the progress that, otherwise, could be made for the benefit of everyone in the country at a much faster pace. Therefore, it hinders the well-being of everyone, and many countries outside of India hesitate to put full confidence in their business dealings with India when this corruption is so obvious.


Today, as Shahroz Raza said in his article “Corruption Bigger Factor Than Secularism” (Pioneer, January 8, 2011), India’s economy is “growing” at over 9%, yet every second child in India is malnourished. Less than one-fourth of the rural population has access to proper toilets. Eighty percent of India’s population lives on $2 a day or less. And what is most shameful is that only four of every 10 girls who enroll for schooling complete eight years of formal education. So, as anyone should question, is that real progress? Is that real growth?    


Let’s put this into perspective. Corruption has secular implications. The money looted by the rulers of India becomes food that is snatched away from the mouth of the newborn and the hungry; or the death that is caused for want of care in a ramshackle hospital; or the unemployment for an adult. This should be avoided by proper adjustments by India’s leaders. But the problem is that politics has simply become a business, which means they use the position and perks that come with it to look out for themselves and family and friends, and collect large amounts of property and money in whatever way necessary at the expense of the masses.
             

        As long as this corruption is allowed to continue, which lends to the reason why certain sections of society remain poor and hungry, then India, and the world, actually is not truly civilized. Swami Vivekananda has also explained, “So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold educated man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.” 


A civilized society does not mean merely technological advancement or economic progress. It means that society has a unified civil code and unified vision of everyone having the right to the same basic facilities as everyone else, meaning food, shelter, clothing, and the means to an education so they can maintain themselves, however simple or sophisticated that may be. In other words, a starving sector of society means that society is uncivilized due to the wealthier section of society hoarding or profiting from the loss of others. 

            This goes back to the point that there is no real lack of anything in this world in regard to resources needed to survive. The only real lack is God-consciousness and the higher vision to see that spiritually we are all the same and that we are only barrowing things from the Supreme during the short duration of the life we are given. Thus, the world’s resources need to be distributed in a way so everyone benefits, and that it is not monopolized by greedy people in prominent positions. 


            Even Mahatma Gandhi once said that the deadliest form of violence is poverty. It is poverty, whether it is planned, arranged, or merely allowed, that kills more people than all the wars that take place. In fact, all the money used for military spending could otherwise be used for solving many of the world’s problems. It is poverty which also causes much of the behavioral violence and criminality that affects us all. The problem is that as poverty expands, it becomes more difficult for the people who are affected by it to do anything about it. 


            If corruption increases, the general well-being of everyone will decline, and the poor are the ones to feel it first, and feel it the most. But from there, it trickles up and affects everyone. As the people suffer, with poor people becoming poorer, farmers committing suicide, businessmen wasting or ruining the environment, we see the money launderers, smugglers, the land mafia, and others continue to plunder and loot money. Experts warn that if the existing state of severe corruption continues the way it is, then it will lead to greater national and international instability, economic failure, increased poverty, and environmental collapse. In other words, this is simply not sustainable. Things must change soon or all that will bring things back to some semblance of sanity is a people’s revolution to demand the removal of all corrupt politicians, judges, military personnel, bankers, etc.


However, the citizens of India cannot be apathetic and remain blind or tolerant to this, if they ever expect to put an end to it. And, fortunately, they are starting to realize that if anything is going to change, it is up to them to do something about it because the corrupt elitists will only do whatever it takes, and in whatever way they know, to perpetuate their kind and their ways, which has not been to the good of the people or the planet. Not all, but many of these politicians and wealthy elitists, criminals actually, are really but demons in human form, living a pampered life at the expense of the many, and driving the uplifting spiritual culture of India into extinction. They care little for anyone but themselves and have no feelings of compassion or the propensity to uphold justice towards the people they are cheating. In that way, they are like insensitive reptiles while portraying themselves to be good and qualified public leaders. 


            Those in poverty in India often face a life and death struggle, where they have to make such decisions as whether to buy either medicine or food because there is not enough money for both. And even now those in poverty cannot afford certain foods, like dals, pulses, various fruits, and other foods that can provide necessary protein. The cost is too high for them. And, thus, malnutrition begins to affect an increasingly larger section of the population. So what does that say about the future potential of India?  


The latest government statistics on food inflation in India says it went up by 18.3% in the Christmas week of 2010. Even a common Indian knows the relationship between corruption and food inflation. And presently the Agriculture Minister and his cohorts are making plenty of money through their speculation in food prices, bidding on them while knowing prices are going up, or even working with those who manipulate the fundamentals to make sure the prices go up. Plus, they are allowing essential commodities to be hoarded and exported while the vast majority of India’s children are going hungry every night. This is nothing but a repeat of the same crimes that the British did to the Indian population in the late 1800s, when they exported so much food back to Britain, or used it for their own military while the people in India starved. Because of this profit-making tactic of the thoughtless British, it is estimated that between one-third and one-half of the entire population of India at the time—at least 10 to 15 million people—died from the famine. If there was ever a crime against India and its people, this was one. And now, to whatever degree, it is being repeated by the elitist Indians against their own people. 


            At present, India has many multi-generational politicians who have become a caste unto themselves, making rules, or ignoring existing laws, in whatever way they choose in order to fill their own coffers at the expense of everyone else’s well-being. These politicians and similar people suffer from a value disorder, which is the addiction to the rush or thrill of acquiring more power, more money, more property. They are addicted to it and cannot control their mind or senses. If this disease cannot be cured, then they should be put out of office and forced to serve prison time for their crimes against humanity. 


            Such a disease can only be cured or purged in society by having the proper training, especially while young and still growing up, in order to add the appropriate character building traits necessary to know what is a decent and balanced human being and how to be one. 

  
THE CURE FOR THE PERVASIVE CORRUPTION

             Naturally one of the first things people would say is that we have to vote out of office those culprits that cheat the people, and are engaged in so much corruption, and vote in those who really care, if we know who they are. But where do we find those politicians who will truly help society and lead properly?


Plus, we need to work with all others who have the same realization and vision for India’s future, and want to clean up the mess we are presently in. For this to happen, people need to be aware of what is really happening and who is responsible. They need to be educated in how the corruption takes place. Therefore, ongoing meetings should provide this information.


Then there is a need of transparency and accountability in all government activities. For this to happen, we need a total constitutional reform. It is time for the majority to unite, to value the cultural tradition of India, or at least what is left of it, and take appropriate legal action to restructure the political and judicial system and eradicate the incompetence and treachery that seems to pervade so much of India.  


However, let us remember that, although necessary, these are all short term solutions. But there also has to be a long term plan to cure these previously mentioned criminal tendencies in people and create a positive effect throughout society that would make a change that would last for generations.


As I said earlier, I am often asked when I am in India what to do about all of this corruption. I always answered that the best thing that I know of is to continue to teach the ethical and moralistic standards as found in Vedic Dharma. Fortunately for me, this was reaffirmed while I was in Bangalore with my visit with the eminent M. Rama Jois, the retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He told me that this was indeed the best way to relieve the country of all the corruption that we see, but he explained the best means to do that.


            M. Rama Jois told me that before the independence of India in 1947, there used to be government pre-schools where the children would go to learn, not necessarily how to read and write, but about the basic rules of Dharma. Then the children would also hear of the examples of Dharma from the great epics, like the Mahabharata and Ramayana or Puranas, and about those great heroes who acted in various situations under the rules of Dharma. This way, before the children ever went to general school to learn reading and writing, etc., they were already educated in the proper content of character to know how to act as a proper human being, and know how to judge what is right or wrong in the various situations of life. 


            Unfortunately, it was after 1947 when the new administration of independent India decided that learning the ethics of Dharma was religious study, and that the new secular government could no longer support such pre-schools. Thus, all such education of basic moralistic principles under Dharma were no longer to be taught in the schools of India. And since that time, the materialistic selfishness, greed, and the insensitivity to the situation of others for the benefit of oneself, have all increased to the point where now it is almost all-pervasive.  


            As M. Rama Jois explains in his book Dharma: The Global Ethic, “All our present day problems are a direct result of disregarding Dharma, under the influence of a materialistic philosophy, in the belief that it alone can usher in happiness and secure the welfare of the people. Now it is becoming clear that human problems increase as we go on multiplying our lust and desire for material wealth and pleasure, and that the solution to all the problems, whether they be social, economic or political, and in particular the crash of our moral edifice which the world and our nation are facing, is Dharma alone. There is no alternative to Dharma. This is the eternal truth. This can be realized if we understand the real meaning of Dharma.”
            

             So, what is Dharma? I have already written more extensively about this, but to put it simply, the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 109.9-11) says: “Dharma has been explained to be that which helps the upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which ensures the welfare of living beings is surely Dharma. The learned rishis have declared that which sustains is Dharma.”


            A little more clarity can also be provided by Madhavacharya, a Minister to Hakka and Bukka, founders of the Vijayanagar Empire, in his commentary on the Parashara Smriti: “Dharma is that which sustains and ensures progress and welfare of all in this world and eternal bliss in the next world. Dharma is promulgated in the form of commands (rules both positive and negative, Vidhi and Nishedha).” 


The Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 90.3) also says that “The proper function of the king [or any ruler or politician] is to rule according to Dharma and not to enjoy the luxuries of life.” Thus, a politician is not meant to take advantage of his position, but to execute his duties with the welfare of the people in mind, under the guidance of the rules of Dharma. 


            This means that Dharma is not the teaching of a religion, but it is the global ethical standard that we all need to learn. It is the very content that forms good character, proper intentions, the means for making fair and just decisions, and good and effective plans for our future.


            The basic rules of Dharma, as explained in the Manu-samhita (10.63) are:  “Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not acquiring illegitimate wealth), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of the senses) are, in brief, the common rules of Dharma for all classes of men.”


            These are the Yamas and Niyamas, which also includes: Santosha–satisfaction or contentment of mind with what one has without undue endeavor; Tapas–voluntary austerity and tolerance in body, mind, and speech for a higher cause; Swadhyaya–self-analysis, introspection, scriptural research, and reflection to understand and perceive who and what is our real identity and how we are progressing; Ishwara-pranidhana–acceptance, devotion, and surrender to God, or the offering of the fruits of one’s actions to God; and Brahmacharya–following the eternal principle of Brahma, or the control of sensual passions in thought, word, and deed, particularly in the student stage of life. 


            Therefore, by learning these rules, how to apply them in all aspects of life, and by hearing the examples of the great souls in India’s history and great epics, a child would develop and build his character to be a truly strong, balanced and properly motivated individual who can continue to develop him or herself, and be a true contribution to the rest of society. When this kind of training is received at a young age, it can last for one’s whole life. This is what makes a difference in all aspects of society.


            Training in Dharma, which is certainly at the heart of India’s Vedic tradition, can help provide for an orderly society. And an orderly society is the result and an expansion or even incarnation of Dharma.
            

           This leads us to understand that the real happiness and prosperity of any nation is directly proportional to the number of men of character it has produced. This is why it is in the interest of the state or government to supply the means by which all children can understand these principles through appropriate education. 


            Being trained in and understanding the principles of Dharma do not mean this is promoting a particular religion. It can still be considered secular training, and not going against the Indian constitution. The Yamas and Niyamas, or the codes of Dharma, are basic moralistic principles. Religion means a mode of worship of God by believers of a particular faith, and calling God by a certain name, or using a particular book and set of rituals. Religion actually divides or separates by its distinguishing characteristics between them, while Dharma unites by its unified code of conduct and seeing everyone equally. Dharma can be applied to all human beings. Thus, it sustains and harmonizes society, it does not create conflict. After all, regardless of whatever our theological beliefs may be, we can all agree on the need for kindness and honesty, self-control, compassion and respect for one another, and the need for fellowship in society to maintain harmony and cooperation, and the ways to establish these things. And the Yamas and Niyamas are merely codes of conduct to follow that will help everyone develop this content to their character. 


            Even in places like America, it has been reported that over 60% of hapless Indian parents in metropolitan U.S. cities are aghast and powerless to the decadent metamorphosis of cultural changes in their children. This is especially noticeable in teenagers and the increase in behavior abnormalities, such as rudeness, rowdiness, disobedience, disparaging elders, and vulgarity and profanity in the language. There is also the deviance from traditional norms, a rise in selfishness, and little reciprocation for favors shown to them. 


            However, such traits are also increasing in India. We are finding a rise in rebelliousness, lack of respect, an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol with both boys and girls, both of whom also show a higher tendency for premarital sex, which has given rise to abortions and later divorces. The traditional Dharmic culture of India is becoming lost, and the balance and harmony that once accompanied it is also becoming a thing of the past. 


            Presently, humans are acting inhumanly, even using what should be blessings in the form of modern scientific knowledge and technological advancement against each other. Why? Because human beings have not been educated in the simple moralistic knowledge that provides the reasons and ways to exercise control over the mind, speech, and bodily activities, and not to inflict injury on others because of selfish motives. The point is that this is the most fundamental education that is meant to be imparted to all individuals right from their childhood. It is this education by which human beings develop the capacity and the reasons for controlling the mind, speech and actions. It is through this understanding that a person can realize that even though one might satisfy their greed or desire by indulging in illegal or immoral acts, and may secure a momentary enjoyment or thrill, but he will also cause deep trouble for himself and lose mental peace and real happiness. 


            Therefore, it is this education that again needs to be offered and supplied to young students in India. This can be done by the government re-establishing the pre-schools, as previously mentioned, to teach the principles of Dharma. Or, as I have seen on my 2010 trip to India, through a grassroots effort of individuals, or husband and wife teams who give such classes on Dharma to the children of their neighbors or friends on weekends, such as Sunday mornings, they begin to influence each child who attends. This is very effective and will have long range results. Thus, everyone can do something. But people should team up and work together to make this possible and duplicate these methods that are successfully used in order to expand this process all across the country. They should also work with those honest and reputable politicians to help again establish such pre-schools throughout the nation so that gradually India can again return to being a country where corruption is not so pervasive. Then the character of the country will reflect the content of the character of the people who inhabit it. 


Of course, there will be those cynics, those critics who will say that this is all too idealistic. But what other true options are there? It is either this, or let the country continue to become more hellish with each successive generation that has less and less knowledge or respect for Dharma and its universal code of ethics.

 
            Therefore, the solution is through the education of the principles of Dharma that one adds to the content of one’s character, by which the person knows how to live a useful, purposeful and honest life which can give him real happiness and enable him to devote his time, energy and talents to the service of other human beings in a productive manner, and prevent him from exploiting others for selfish interests. Thus, the more such individuals populate the country, the more the whole nation will also uplift itself with a positive future.  

 [This article is available from www.stephen-knapp.com