Friday, April 24, 2020
The series so far:
In the 2nd part of the Indic series, the legends of Skanda are being analyzed. The video can be watched here.
Since Skanda antedated Vaivasvata Manu, as known from the mantra of Indradvaja given by Vaivasvata Manu, it is necessary to investigate the legends of Skanda to get a proper understanding of what happened before Vaivasvata Manu came into being. From the Tamil literary sources it is known that Skanda was a real- life character who ruled from a place called Southern Madurai and inaugurated the Tamil Sangam Literary Assembly.
From a verse of Brahmanda Purana it is known that Vivasvan, the sun in whose name Vaivasvata Manu is identified, was born in the constellation of Vishakha in Cakshusha Manvantra. The interesting part of this reference is that the name Vishakha was identified with Skanda in one of the legends. That legend begins with the description of a fire called ‘Adbhuta’ – a reference to naturally occurring forest fires caused by the sun’s heat. But there was a time the fire was about to die – which is a reference to lack of solar heat - corresponding to the time of Ice Age.
Skanda was born to Adbhuta and Svaha who impersonated the wives of six of the seven ‘Sapta rishis’. That was the time the unchanging positional alignment of the star Arundhati with the star Vasishtha was recognized. That was the time the star Abhijit was removed from the 27-star count of the zodiac and was replaced by the star Krittika. This redesign of the zodiac was done by Skanda! The legend also conveys that at any point of time the zodiac had only 27 stars with a total of 108 Pada-s.
The legend continues that Devendra who felt threatened by the growing strength of Skanda attacked him with his Vajrayudha. It split Skanda into two parts, known as Vishakha (divided). But what was split also became Skanda himself which started spewing fire. This frightened Devendra even more that he conceded defeat and accepted the supremacy of Skanda. He anointed him as the Commander in Chief of the Devas.
This legend sounds symbolic of a fierce lightning strike on the ground which simultaneously witnessed a fissure on the ground or burst of a volcano spewing fire. Skanda must have lived at that time. The cataclysm caused widespread damage to life and property that people had started thinking the ‘Vishakha’s children’ were tormenting them. Skanda had successfully managed to bring succor to the people then.
Vaivasvata Manu had carried the memory of the calamity and the succor given by Vishakha (Skanda) that his progeny (Ikshvaku) started regarding Vishakha as their family star.
Further on I am discussing the legend of Shura Samhara which was found to be the case of a volcano tormenting the people. A chain of volcanoes had burst around the time – with the probable location along the Sunda trench where Mt Krakatoa, Mt Samalas, Mt Tarakan and Mt Agung are found. The people had run into safety from the bursting volcanoes with the nearest place of refuge being South East India – in the region in and around Tiruchendur.
Mt Agung in Bali is known as Mt Meru - an important location of the temple Pura Besakih. My investigation takes me to the conclusion that Besakih was the probable location of Vishakha – of the Skanda legend. Further legends are to be discussed in the next episode.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Is there any specific rationale behind the differing number of years of exile undertaken by Rama and Pandavas is a question I have often heard right from my childhood. The most common answer was the stipulation of 7 years beyond which if a person doesn’t return he/ she can be assumed to be lost forever or kind of ex-communicated. A woman whose husband did not show up for 7 years can treat his absence as lost forever and seek remarriage. Perhaps the former Justice Katju can throw more light on this feature that is part of Indian penal code for divorce cases.
If the person makes appearance after 7 years, certain rites were to be performed for taking the person back into the fold. Based on this rationale the first meeting with the bridegroom –a stranger until then – is done in a temple where the families make friendship with each other in the presence of God. This was done for the first time acquaintance and also for renewed acquaintances that were away for more than 7 years. Based on this the elders used to say that twice that duration was suggested by Kaikeyi to completely keep Rama ex-communicated.
This explanation doesn’t fit with the reunion with Rama after 14 years in Nandigrama in the outskirts of the city with no report of rituals of taking him back into the community. This also doesn’t fit with the exile period of the Pandavas. And there is a third instance too – of 35 years in the curse of Gandhari to Krishna. This makes me go through the contexts of the texts where the time period is stipulated. Needless to say it turns out to be rewarding.
Rama’s exile of 14 years.
The idea of 14 year exile is planted by Manthara with the justification that within that period Bharata can get intimate association in the hearts of the people and get stabilized in his kingdom.(VR: 2-9-21) Having laid his roots within the 14 year period, Bharata can stay in power for the remaining period also- even after Rama comes back. (VR: 2-9-31). By the time Rama returns, Bharata would have established his roots firmly by making many friends and drawing people to his side (VR: 2-9-34) All these imply that a 14 year period is needed to cause an influence to endear oneself to people and to erase the memory of the one who was away. It would be difficult for one to make an impact after being away from sight for 14 long years.
In the course of this sermon Manthara doesn’t fail to remind Kaikeyi of an old tussle Kaikeyi had with Kausalya that is likely to be paid back by Kausalya if her son ascends the throne. (VR: 2-8-37) This would cause Kaikeyi and Bharata servile to Kausalya and Rama (VR: 2-8-10 &11)
It must be mentioned here that Rama recounted similar kind of ill-treatment to siblings and their families by the king and his family as a prevailing norm in those days, in the context of accepting Vibhishana in his fold. (VR: 6-18-10 & 14) It was perhaps for reasons that younger siblings cannot thrive under the crowned elder brother, Janaka’s younger brother, Kushadvaja too made his home very far away in the west in a moat in the river Ikshumati (Swat) (VR:1-70-2)
Having said all these, why 14 years is a question that becomes decipherable from Bharat’s first reaction on knowing that Rama had left for the forest.
When Kaikeyi informed Bharata that Rama wearing long narrow pieces of bark went to the forest followed by Lakshmana and Sita (VR: 2-72-42) Bharata feared whether Rama was sent on exile for any unrighteous act. (VR: 2-72-44) This prompted him to ask,
“Has not Rama indeed stolen the wealth of some Brahmana?” (VR: 2-72-45)
This is in line with what Manu Smruti says for stealing the gold of a Brahman that,
“He who desires to remove by austerities the guilt of stealing the gold (of a Brahmana), shall perform the penance (prescribed) for the slayer of a Brahmana, (living) in a forest and dressed in (garments) made of bark.” (11- 102)
The punishment for slayer of a Brahma is exile to forest as ascetic for 12 years, says Manu Smruti in the same chapter.
“For his purification the slayer of a Brahmana shall make a hut in the forest and dwell (in it) during twelve years, subsisting on alms and making the skull of a dead man his flag.” (11-73)
Rama was asked by Kaikeyi to lead the life of an ascetic with matted hair, covered with a hide, and living beyond pleasure and pain in the forest. This is same as what Manu Smruti has prescribed for one who either killed a Brahmana or stole his gold. Bharata wondered the whether Rama had stolen the wealth of a Brahma thereby indicating that the nature of exile and duration was in consonance with this clause of Manu. It is 12 years in Manu Smruti, but 14 years for Rama, perhaps adding one year each as sandhi before and after the 12 year rigorous exiled life of an ascetic.
The stipulation of living like an ascetic is repeated at several places in Valmiki Ramayana. While breaking the news of his exile to his mother Kausalya, Rama says that he is going to “live in a solitary (vijane) forest like a sage for fourteen years, leaving off meat and living with roots, fruits and honey”.(VR:2-20-29 & 31)
At the time of taking leave of all, Rama asks for “shovel and a basket” (VR: 2-37-5) the two things needed by him in his life as an ascetic to subsist on roots and fruits.
Kaikeyi had no qualms in sending Sita along with him dressed in wooden bark, so that ensures that Sita cannot play a spoilsport to her plans, by drawing people’s sympathy and affection towards her that can work to Rama’s favour when he comes back.
Another probable thought in her mind could be that by the time Rama returns he would have completed 25 years of married life, with the ascetic life in exile ensuring that he would remain childless for that long. By the time he comes back, Bharat’s progeny would be in place and old enough to ensure continuity of Bharata’s lineage.
The solitary life deprives Rama of developing any coterie that could be of help to him on his return to claim the throne. The 14 year long ascetic life as a couple would make them conditioned to such life even after returning to Ayodhya. They may not be able to get back to the city and royal life. This is not possible in 7 year exile. Therefore Kaikeyi (Manthara) had chosen 14 year period.
So we can say that the first issue raised by Bharata on the cause of exile (stealing the wealth of a Brahman) offers a clarity on why the insistence on the life of an ascetic for 14 long years.
But Bharata doesn’t stop with that; he continues to mention 2 more offences that invite the kind of exile that Rama was made to undertake.
They are (1) harm done to either rich or poor virtuous (apaapa / अपाप) person
(2) Desiring the wife of another.
It seems these three (including killing a Brahman or stealing the wealth of a Brahman) invited exile of the kind Rama was made to undertake. Valmiki Ramayana itself becomes the pramana for the 14 year exile – originally derived from 12 year exile of the same kind given by Manu Smruti. This revelation helps in deciphering the 12+1 year exile of the Pandavas.
Pandavas’ exile of 13 years.
The Pandavas were ordained to undergo a straight 12 year exile of the same kind that Rama underwent (ascetic life with barks and hides in the solitude of the forest) with the 13th year (incognito) acting as a buffer to enable the Kauravas pick them out and push them back to another round of exile. The 12 year exile has one relevance as far as Manu Smruti is concerned and two other relevances as per Bharata’s version in Valmiki Ramayana.
With no scope of harm to a Brahmin in the events that unfolded, we can deduce that the other two causes cited by Bharata must be examined to understand the stipulation of 12 year period of exile.
In the first instance of losing the dice game, Draupadi raises the legality of her status as the wife of the five Pandavas. Her status as wife of five brothers was against the norm of the day as known from frequent derisions thrown at her. Notwithstanding that her status was approved by her mother in law, it remains questionable if it was approved by the ethics of the then society. Since the tenets of Dharma are very subtle for us to understand, I am left with pointing out what could be her status as wives of other four if she is accepted as won in the dice game as a property of the eldest Pandava. This attracts the third point in Bharata’s narration for causes for the exile. I am leaving this to the reader to ponder over and not want to elaborate it here.
After Draupadi and the Pandavas were let off, they were once again called back to play the dice game. It was then the 12+1 year exile condition was made. The winner could take up all the wealth of the other which will be returned if the loser successfully completed 13 year exile. The 12 year exile being the core component here, I am led to link the other cause given by the Bharata, that of harm done to rich or poor virtuous person.
It begins from the time before the Pandavas were born. Pandu relinquished the throne in favour of his elder brother Dhritarashtra and left to the forest where the five sons were born. On their return to the country troubles had started. What would be the stance of the Kauravas who had legally inherited the kingdom from their father that was legally given by the father of the Pandavas?
When they were not willing to and not bound to part with any part of the kingdom, the ceding away of the territory to the Pandavas however barren it may be, under coercion and persuasion by the elders would be seen by them as injustice meted out to them. From this angle, the Kaurava-side contention will be that of losing their wealth for no fault of theirs. This is the other cause given by Bharata for exile which must have been an accepted norm of the day.
When the Kauravas could not subdue the Pandavas by other means, they must have felt justified in 12 year exile demand in the dice game, by virtue of legal heirs to the kingdom. The way the elders had kept quiet through all these goes to show that the elders were not able to take contrary stance with reference to this clause on exile.
The bottom-line for the topic of this blog is that the 12 year exile was prompted by any of the last two causes mentioned by Bharata in Valmiki Ramayana. Much like Kaikeyi, the Kauravas had intended to isolate the Pandavas while enabling themsleves strengthen friendship with as many kingdoms as possible in their absence. They penetrated the friends of Pandavas and got the brother of Krishna (Balarama) speak for their side. They even maintained friendly relations with the maternal uncle (Shalya) of Nakula and Sahadeva.
Unfortunately for them, the Pandavas too had a huge network or friends and relatives by the time they left on exile. They managed all the networking and contacts in their absence - something expected to be non-existent in favour of Rama when Kaikeyi devised her plan.
Gandhari’s curse of destruction on the 36th year.
The following is produced from my upcoming book on the Date of Mahabharata war (wherein I have defended the traditional date 35 years before Kali Yuga started / Krishna left the world)
(Should not be reproduced without my consent)
“On seeing the death of her children and all relatives in the war Gandhari vented out her frustration at Krishna that he (Krishna) after causing the slaughter of his kinsmen would perish in the wilderness on the 36th year. On the 36th year a huge carnage did take place wiping out the Krishna-clan.
The number 36 has a special relevance for the welfare of one’s progeny. A 36-year sacrifice (sattra) was in vogue during Mahabharata times. It is known from Pancavimsa Brahmana that the descendants of Sakti had conducted 36 year sattra. By the mention of Gauriviti as one who did the satttra , Sakti is identified as the father of Parasara whose son was Vyasa. It is further said in the Brahmana text that the one who performs this sattra gets rulership and also ten strong sons. Without doubt this sattra must have been popular with the Kauravas, the Pandavas and the Vrishinis.
As biological descendants of Vyasa, the Kuru kings could have performed the sattra. Perhaps the Kauravas could not complete the 36 year long sattra or else they could have won the war, retained rulership and children. It is doubtful the Pandavas had completed the sattra in view of the exile they had to undertake. Only the Vrishinis had survived the war and were expected to prosper more in the years after the war. The Vrishnis headed by Krishna were very clever in having chosen to support both the warring sides. Whichever side wins the war, the Vrishnis would bring home the advantages of the winner.
Gandhari’s anger naturally turned towards Krishna who she accused as not having worked enough to avert the slaughter of the Kuru-s. The Kauravas lost their progeny, so did the Pandavas by the time the war ended, but only the Vrishnis survived! The Vrishnis were already known for wealth creation and didn’t mind relocating to newer terrains (Dvaraka) to safeguard their wealth, works and resources. Their clan continued to be intact after the war, unlike the Kuru clan which suffered heavy losses. Gandhari’s anger was such that the new 36 year sattra that was likely to be initiated by the Vrishnis after the war was over should collapse at the penultimate hour, thereby wiping out their progeny and rulership.
This gives rise to the presumption that the Kauravas failed to complete the 36 year sattra and lost in the last year of the Sattra. This caused Gandhari to cast a similar doom on Vrishnis whom she thought would initiate the Sattra for their welfare. It is not known if the sattra was done by the Vrishnis, but their end came in the 36th year just before the Sun entered Aries with all the planets gathered around it.”
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
My long term plan is taking shape now. I am going to bring out a long series of videos and related material in this blogspot to decode the Indic past by establishing the beginnings of the Vedic civilization, the persons involved, the place of genesis and its spread inside and outside India by which we can get a clarity on the vexatious issue of the Aryan invasion / migration, on whether people came from outside India or went out of India and how and when such movements happened.
My interest in Tamil’s past nurtured by various Tamil sources had always made me think that a combined reading of Tamil sources with the Itihasa-Purana is necessary to understand the Indic past better. Over time I started identifying the overlapping features between the two sources and how they complement each other by giving a wholesome view which is missing when only one of them is taken as the source. Therefore this series is going to see a combined analysis of both Tamil and north Indian sources to find convincing answers to complex and contradictory features found in the texts and in our understanding of our past. I will be cross checking the Tamil evidences with other sources such as literary, archaeological, genetic and the like in my attempt to construct the Indic past.
Certainly one can expect me to speak about the truth or falsity of “Kumari Khandam” – the legendary land of ancient Tamils.
The videos will be released one per week with a Tamil version following the English version. So the fresh episode will appear every 3rd week. Constructive comments, suggestions and contributions (ideas) are welcome.
In the first episode I am establishing the biological connection between ancient Chola dynasty with some prominent dynasties of North India based on the genealogical list given in Rajanedra Chola’s Tiruvalangadu inscription and his son, Veerarajendra’s Kanyakumari inscription. Rajendra Chola’s was the first and perhaps the only source available now on direct connection with Bharata, son of Dushyanta coming in the lineage of Yayati. Veerarajendra’s was more explicit in linking the Chola dynasty with Rama’s lineage. These two versions are mutually contradictory given the fact that Bharata belonged to lunar dynasty whereas Rama belonged to solar dynasty, but the Cholas always identified themselves as belonging to Solar dynasty.
I am going in depth in these issues in this video to show that Yayati appears in both solar and lunar race. Rama’s ancestry narrated by Vasishtha at the time of his marriage contains Yayati’s name in the list. But a similar list narrated by Vsishtha at the time of persuading Rama to return to the kingdom to take up kingship omits his name in particular. In the same narration Vasishtha states that only the eldest son takes up the rulership in the Ikshvaku race. This gives rise to a scenario of Yayati, the second son of Nahusha not being given rulership. After Nahusha appears the name Nabhaga, the son of Yayati in the 2nd list.
This gives rise to an educated guess that Yayati was given in adoption to the lunar dynasty. Though Nahusha’s name appears in the lunar dynastic list of Vishnu Purana, his name appearing in the 2nd list of Vasishtha in Valmiki Ramayana goes to show that he ascended the Ikshvaku throne but went away. This is supported by the legend of Nahusha taking up the post of Indra and falling down after abusing sage Agastya. There is a similar incident with Yayati too falling from Swarga. These outwardly mythological legends will be discussed in another episode for their metaphorical connotations.
For now it is pointed out that Yayati moved away from solar dynasty and entered lunar dynasty which is possible only through adoption. Similar shift is mentioned in Vishnu Purana in the case of Dushyanta who came in Puru’s lineage getting adopted by Turvasu’s lineage. The shift had happened within the families of paternal cousins that ensured that the same genetic stock continued.
Puru and Turvasu being the sons of Yayati who came in the lineage of Ikshvaku had therefore shared the same paternal gene with Rama whose name appears 4th from Yayati in Ikshvaku list. Since Chola, (the first Chola) was the direct descendant of Bharata, son of Dushyanta, as per Tiruvalangadu inscriptions, Chola also shared the same Y- chromosome of Rama.
Thus we can see the outwardly incompatible lineages mentioned by Rajendra I and Veerarajendra are one and the same biologically. Since the first Chola was born to Bharata, whose ancestry came from Yayati, the paternal ancestor of Rama, Veerarajendra had identified the birth of the first Chola in the family of Rama! The link with Rama is reinforced by many texts starting from Sangam age texts to those written 1000 years ago.
Going by the original biological and genetic connection, the Cholas had traced their ancestry from Manu and Sun – and therefore the solar dynasty.
There is yet another unknown element in Chola’s ancestry. They had a titular name, ‘Sembian’ traced to Shibi. Shibi comes in the lineage of Anu, another son of Yayati. Therefore Shibi also shares the same paternal gene with Rama. But then why did the Cholas align themselves with Shibi and not Bharata?
Looking at the details of Vishnu Purana we come to know that Bharata, Chola’s father abandoned all his sons who were nine in number. Vishnu Purana says that the nine sons were killed by their mothers, which sounds preposterous. The complementary evidence from the Tamil source of Tiruvalangadu inscription shows that atleast one son (Chola) was not killed. The sons were abandoned but they had found their own ways of survival. Veerarajendra’s inscription says that Chola left with a small army to the south and founded a kingdom where river Kaveri flowed. In all probability, this Chola was taken in adoption by Shibi’s family when he was abandoned by Bharata, his own father. This offers a better justification why the Cholas identified themselves as descendants of Shibi while not saying any word on Bharata who nevertheless gave rise to illustrious lineage of ‘Bharata’s’ that included Kauravas and Pandavas. But for the Tiruvalangadu inscriptions we would have never known Bharata- connection to Cholas.
Now the hints on genetic inflow and outflow to and from India:
· Shibi’s son Kekaya establishing Kekaya country, identified with Bactria shows the outward flow of genes that was shared by Rama and Chola with the latter moving to South India as far as Pumpukar. So the genetic marker seen in Tamilnadu will also be there in Central Europe.
· Shibi’s ancestor Anu went out of India to West Asia / West Europe. The genetic outflow is same as above.
· Same is the case with Turvasu ancestor of Bharata, whose descendants were identified as Yavanas.
· Genetic inflow is detected in the case of Pandavas! They were fathered by persons from outside India! I have given the time as ca.3200 BCE based on Mahabharata date deduced from traditional Kali Yuga date which is computational and continues to be in vogue today. Although most of their sons had died in the Mahabharata war, there exists a probability of continuity of their gene pool in sons born to women they married from different strata. Any genetic study on gene inflow around this date has the benefit of doubt pointing out to the Pandavas’ ancestry.
The common ancestor of all those discussed so far happens to be Vaivasvata Manu.
Manu had left a distinct clue on an entity that lived before his times. He was Skanda! Skanda alias Subrahmanya was the only name along with Vedic entities (of Nature) appearing in the manta of Indra-dvaja composed by Vaivasvata Manu. This establishes Skanda as earlier to Vaivasvata Manu. Skanda legends will be decoded in the next episode.