वेदवाङ्मयाची थोरवी

If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow—in some parts a very paradise on earth—I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant—I should point to India.
And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life—again I should point to India.1 ………..Friedrich Max Müller

मॅक्सम्युल्लर ने केम्ब्रिज विद्यापीठात दिलेल्या व्याख्यानातील या एका वाक्यातूनच वेद, वेदवाङ्मय आणि पर्यायाने भारतीय संस्कृतीचा प्रभाव किती क्षितिजांवर विस्तारला होता हे लख्खपणे दिसते. केवळ तत्वज्ञानच नव्हे तर साहित्य, संगीत, कला, विज्ञान आणि तंत्रज्ञान या सर्व विद्याशाखांत मानवाने साधलेला समतोल पहायचा तर भारताकडे पहा असे तो म्हणतो. सर्वार्थाने पृथ्वीवरील स्वर्ग अशी उपमा भारतीय भूमीला तो देतो.
एक पाश्चात्य विद्वान प्राचीन भारतीय भाषा आणि वाङ्मयाची बाजू इतकी पोटतिडकीने मांडतो हे विस्मयकारक आहे. त्याहीपेक्षा ज्या अर्थी तो ही बाजू मांडतोय त्या अर्थी आपण जुनं म्हणून दुर्लक्षित केलेल्या वाङ्मय तितकं टाकाऊ नक्कीच नसणार. बरं ही भाषणं तो पुराणातल्या गोष्टी ऐकायला आलेल्या भजनी मंडळातल्या बायकांसमोर देत नाहीये. केम्ब्रिज सारख्या मान्यवर विद्यापीठाने इ.स. १८८० च्या दशकात खास आयोजित केलेल्या व्याख्यानमालेतील भाषणांत त्याने हे उद्गार काढलेत. व्याख्यान ऐकणारे श्रोते केवळ पुस्तकी प्राध्यापक नव्हते. भारतात नुकतीच स्थिरावलेली इंग्रजी सत्ता राबवणारे मंत्री, राजकारणी, प्रशासकीय अधिकारी (Civil Servants) असे भारताशी प्रत्यक्ष संबंध येणारे आणि भारतात काम करणारे इंग्लिश लोकही त्यात होते.
भाषणात अनेक विषयांचा उल्लेख मॅक्सम्युल्लर करतो. जसे भूशास्त्र? (Geology), वनस्पतीशास्त्र (Botany), प्राणीशास्त्र (Zoology), मानवंशशास्त्र (Ethnology), पुरातत्वशास्त्र (Archaeology), नाणकशास्त्र (Numismatics), न्यायशास्त्र (Jurisprudence) आणि अर्थातच तत्वज्ञान (Philosophy). या आणि अशा अऩेक विद्यांच्या अभ्यासासाठी भारत ही एक मोठी प्रयोगशाळाच आहे. केवळ अभ्यासाचा विषय म्हणून नव्हे तर अनेक मार्गदर्शक तत्वांचा उगम या भूमीत होतो म्हणून भारताकडे पहावे असे तो सांगतो. इतकेच काय पण पाश्चात्य जगताच्या ज्ञानाचा उगम मानल्या जाणाऱ्या ग्रीसमधील्या अनेक बोधकथा, दंतकथा मूळच्या भारतीय बौद्ध आणि इतर संप्रदायातील असू शकतात असा तर्क तो मांडतो.
गेल्या आठ लेखात आपण वेद आणि वेदवाङ्मयाची ओळख करून घेतली. आपण हेही पाहिलं की केवळ अध्यात्म नव्हे तर ज्ञान, विज्ञान आणि तंत्रज्ञान अशा अनेक विद्या शाखांचा विचार आणि अभ्यास प्राचीन भारतीय ऋषीमुनी करत होते हे ही वेदवाङ्मयात दिसून येते. वेदकालीन ऋषींनी मानव जीवनाशी संबंधीत जवळपास सर्व विषयांवर भाष्य केलेले आहे. यात शिकारीपासून ते शेतीपर्यंत, युद्धापासून ते वैद्यकापर्यंत आणि यज्ञापासून ते ज्योतिषापर्यंत अनेकविध विषय कौशल्याने हाताळले गेले आहेत. इतके की त्या विषयांचे सखोल ज्ञान या ऋषींना होते हे सहज कळून येते.
पण मग वैद्यक, ज्योतिष, तत्त्वज्ञान वगैरे विषयांवरील ग्रंथ पाश्चात्य संस्कृतीतही आहेतच की! आजच्या लेखात आपण इतकंच पाहणार आहोत की विज्ञान आणि तंत्रज्ञानानी समृद्ध होणाऱ्या पाश्चात्य आणि भारतीय संस्कृतीत असा काय फरक आहे की ज्यायोगे आज हजारो वर्षानंतरही जगभरातील विद्वान त्या वाङ्मयाचा अभ्यास करतात? केवळ तत्त्वज्ञानच नव्हे तर विज्ञान, तंत्रज्ञान आणि वैद्यकासारख्या अत्याधुनिक ज्ञानशाखातील संशोधकही कमी अधिक प्रमाणात वेदवाङ्मयाचा अभ्यास करतात. त्यांना मार्गदर्शक असे कोणते ज्ञान किंवा विचार वेदवाङ्मय पुरवते?
दृष्टिकोन……..
एखाद्या विषयाची पद्धतशीर हाताळणी करून त्याची वेगळी विद्याशाखा बनवणे आणि त्याचा काटेकोर अभ्यास करणे ही तर पाश्चात्यांची देणगी आहे. अगदी उदाहरण द्यायचे तर आधुनिक विज्ञानाची कोणतीही शाखा घ्या, जसे जीवशास्त्र (Biology) या विषयाची पद्धतशीर हाताळणी करून वनस्पतीशास्त्र(Botany), सूक्ष्मजीवशास्त्र(Microbiology), जनुकिय विज्ञान(Genetics) वगैरे विद्याशाखा पाश्चात्यांनी बनवल्या, त्याचे अभ्यासक्रम बनवले, पदव्या (मराठीत डिग्र्या!) निर्माण केल्या. वैद्यकातही डोक्यापासून पायापर्यंत प्रत्येक अवयवाची वेगळी शाखा बनवली. अगदी चव आणि गंध निर्माण करणारी शास्त्रेही विकसित केली गेली. वैज्ञानिक प्रगती हे ध्येय समोर ठेऊन विभागशः अनेक विद्याशाखा पाश्चात्यांनी दिल्या. अशा वैज्ञानिक प्रगतीचा मुख्य उद्देश अर्थातच मानव जातीचे कल्याण हा होता. मग तो उद्देश साधला गेला का? खरंतर नाही.
विज्ञान जितके अधिक प्रगल्भ आणि प्रगत झाले तितकेच ते संहारकही झाले. मानवजातीचे कल्याण हा मूळ उद्देश बाजूला पडला आणि मानवजात किंवा विशिष्ट मानव समुदायाला इतर समुदाय आणि जीवजंतूंपेक्षा अधिक शक्तीमान बनवणे हा स्वार्थी उद्देश प्रबळ झाला. वर्चस्वाच्या हव्यासापोटी विज्ञानाच्या शाखांची इतकी अजस्त्र वाढ झाली की प्रत्येक शाखा मानवाच्याच नव्हे संपूर्ण जीवसृष्टीच्या मुळावर उठावी इतकी संहारक होऊ लागली. आधी अण्वस्त्रे, मग रासायनिक अस्त्रे(Chemical Weapons), जैविक अस्त्रे(Biological Weapons) आणि आता तर जनुकिय तंत्रज्ञान (Genetics) यासारख्या अत्याधुनिक आयुधांनी मानवाच्या सुखापेक्षा चिंताच अधिक वाढवल्या. निसर्गाचा घटक म्हणून जन्माला आलेला मानव निसर्गावरच विजय मिळविण्याच्या अघोरी मार्गाला लागला आणि आता ते थांबवणे त्याच्या स्वतःच्याही हातात राहिले नाही. वैज्ञानिक प्रगती हा देशागणिक मानवी संस्कृतींच्या स्पर्धेचा विषय बनला. या स्पर्धेत टिकण्याची आणि जिंकण्याची इर्षा इतकी पराकोटीला गेली की मानवानेच त्याच्या आणि पर्यायाने पृथ्वीच्याही संहाराची बीजे पेरली. परीणामी आज आपण प्रदूषण(ध्वनी, वायु, पाणी आणि विचारसुद्धा), अस्त्र-शस्त्र, रोगराई, विकृत-दहशतवाद अशा अनेक समस्यांनी घेरलो गेलो आहोत.
समतोल…….
वैदिक ऋषीमुनी हे जसे तत्त्ववेत्ते होते तसेच शास्त्रवेत्तेही होते. वैज्ञानिक प्रगती वेदकाळातही होत होतीच. परंतु भारतीय शास्त्रवेत्त्यांचे मोठेपण यात आहे की त्यांनी या प्रगतीचा आणि निसर्गाचा योग्य समतोल राखणे महत्वाचे आहे हे जाणले आणि प्रत्येक शास्त्र हे विकसित होताना त्यातून निसर्ग, पर्यावरण आणि व्यापक सृष्टीशी माणसाची नाळ तुटणार नाही याची खबरदारी घेतली. त्यांनी वैद्यक विकसित केले पण औषधांनी होणारे अनुषंगिक परीणाम (Side Effects) टाळण्याचा जास्तीत जास्त प्रयत्न करूनच. औषधी विकसित केल्या पण त्या नैसर्गिक तत्त्वांशी तादात्म्य बाळगून. त्यांनी आयुर्वेद हा निरोगी आयुष्य जगण्यासाठीचे शास्त्र म्हणून विकसित केला. रोगांवर इलाज करण्याची पॅथी म्हणून नव्हे. त्यामुळे आहार(Diet), व्यायाम(Exercise), साधना (Meditation) आणि औषधी(Medicine) अशा सर्व अंगांनी समतोल साधणारी ज्ञानशाखा म्हणून आयुर्वेदाकडे पाहीले जाते. याच प्रकारे योग असो ज्योतिष असो किंवा अध्यात्म…..
प्रगती साधताना तिची दिशा आणि ध्येय हे एका सूत्रात बांधून निसर्गाच्या सर्व घटकांच्या कल्याणाचे उद्दीष्ट्य साध्य करणे ही वेदवाङ्मय आणि पर्यायाने भारतीय शास्त्रांची देणगी आहे. विद्या, कला आणि तंत्र अतिरेकी अनियंत्रित आणि संहारक न होता विकसित करण्याचे तारतम्य वेदवाङ्मयाने जगाला शिकवले.
त्यामुळेच रसायनशास्त्र (Chemistry), पदार्थविज्ञान(Physics), वैद्यक(Medicine), जीवशास्त्र(Biology), वनस्पतीशास्त्र(Botany), धातुशास्त्र (Metallurgy) असो किंवा अगदी अणुविज्ञान (Automic Science), या सर्व शास्त्रांचा भारतीय भूमीतील उगम आणि विकास हा याच तत्त्वांना अनुसरुन झाला. तुकड्या तुकड्यात वेगवेगळी शास्त्रे म्हणून विकसित न होता ती कल्याणकारक आणि सर्वसमावेशक जीवनवेद म्हणून विकसित झाली. आपल्याला वेदांसह अनेक ग्रंथात हे सर्वच विषय कमीअधीक प्रमाणात आढळतात ते यामुळेच. जीवनाशी संबंधीत असे ज्ञान असल्याने त्याचा केवळ वेगळी विद्याशाखा म्हणून अभ्यास करणे जितके गरजेचे आहे तितकेच ते ज्ञान सृष्टीचा समतोल राखण्यात किती यशस्वी ठरते हेही काटेकोरपणे अभ्यासणे गरजेचे मानले गेले. त्यामुळे शास्त्रे विकसितही झाली आणि त्यांची अनुषंगिक संहारकताही सीमीत केली गेली. वैज्ञानिक प्रगती आणि विवेकी तत्वज्ञान यांचा हा समतोल…..
आधुनिक जगात सातत्याने नवनवीन शोध लागत आहेत, तंत्रज्ञान विकसित होत आहे पण ते विवेकाने वापरण्याचे किंवा त्याचा गैरवापर टाळण्याचे शिक्षण देणारी मुल्यव्यवस्थाच अस्तीत्व हरवून बसली आहे. त्यामुळे प्रगतीच्या पायरीगणीक आपण विनाशाच्या चिंतेने अधिकाधिक ग्रासले गेलो आहोत. हा विवेक जागवणारी आणि प्रसृत करणारी तत्वप्रणाली वेदवाङ्मयाने दिली.
सर्वेSपि सुखिनः सन्तु, सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः, सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु, मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत्। किंवा
……सह नौ भुनक्तु।
किंवा
..वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्। असो

यासारख्या प्रार्थनातून साधकाच्या मनावर हे तत्त्व कायम बिंबवले गेले की प्रत्येक कार्य, प्रत्येक पाऊल हे विश्वकल्याणाच्या हेतूतून उचलायचे आहे. संपुर्ण वसुधा (पृथ्वी) हे एकच कुटुंब आहे. यातील भूतमात्रांसह आपण सर्वजण एकाच साखळीतील कड्या आहोत. एक जरी कडी कमकुवत झाली तरी ही संपूर्ण साखळी दुर्बल होणार आहे. त्यामुळे प्रगती मग ती वैज्ञानिक असो तांत्रिक असो किंवा तात्त्विक तिच्यातून ही साखळी अधिक मजबूतच झाली पाहीजे. भौतिक आणि अध्यात्मिक प्रगती, मानवी जीवन आणि निसर्ग तसेच पर्यायाने मन आणि शरीर यांचा समतोल साधला तरच ज्या सुखाच्या अपेक्षेने अधिकाधिक विकासाची ईर्षा आपण बाळगतो ते चिरंतन सुख प्राप्त होईल. हा विचार निःसंशयपणे प्राचीन भारतीय वेदवाङ्मयाने जगाला दिला.
तात्पर्य काय तर आज विकसनशील वगैरे शिक्का असलेल्या भारताने स्वतःच जगाला दिलेल्या विवेकी अभ्यासकाच्या भूमिकेत परत शिरुन आपल्याच प्राचीन वाङ्मयाचा आणि आधुनिक विद्यांचा तारतम्याने अभ्यास करणे ही काळाची गरज आहे. धर्मग्रंथ म्हणून नुसते अंधश्रद्धेने कवटाळून बसणे हे जसे चुकीचे आहे तसेच ते जुने कालबाह्य वाङ्मय म्हणून झिडकारणेही तितकेच चुकीचे आहे. कोणत्याही टोकाच्या भूमिकेपेक्षा विवेकी वृत्तीने चतुरस्त्र अभ्यास करून वेद आणि वैदिक साहित्यातून मिळणारे सर्वांगीण ज्ञान प्राप्त करण्याचा प्रयत्न करणे गरजेचे आहे.
समारोपापुर्वी मॅक्सम्युल्लरच्या भाषणातील काही उतारे जसेच्या तसे वानगीदाखल देत आहे. त्याच्या भाषांतराची गरज पडू नये कारण अर्थातच आपल्याकडे इंग्रजी मराठीपेक्षा अधिक अभ्यासली जाते!!

If you care for geology, there is work for you from the Himalayas to Ceylon.
If you are a zoologist, think of Haeckel, who is just now rushing through Indian forests and dredging in Indian seas, and to whom his stay in India is like the realization of the brightest dream of his life.
The study of Mythology has assumed an entirely new character, chiefly owing to the light that has been thrown on it by the ancient Vedic Mythology of India. But though the foundation of a true Science of Mythology has been laid, all the detail has still to be worked out, and could be worked out nowhere better than in India.
Again, if you are a student of Jurisprudence, there is a history of law to be explored in India, very different from what is known of the history of law in Greece, in Rome, and in Germany, yet both by its contrasts and by its similarities full of suggestions to the student of Comparative Jurisprudence.
You know how some of the best talent and the noblest genius of our age has been devoted to the study of the development of the outward or material world, the growth of the earth, the first appearance of living cells, their combination and differentiation, leading up to the beginning of organic life, and its steady progress from the lowest to the highest stages. Is there not an inward and intellectual world also which has to be studied in its historical development, from the first appearance of predicative and demonstrative roots, their combination and differentiation, leading up to the beginning of rational thought in its steady progress from the lowest to the highest stages? And in that study of the history of the human mind, in that study of ourselves, of our true selves, India occupies a place second to no other country. Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language, or religion, or mythology, or philosophy, whether it be laws or customs, primitive art or primitive science, everywhere, you have to go to India, whether you like it or not, because some of the most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India, and in India only.

तळटीप:

1. INDIA: WHAT CAN IT TEACH US? (A Course of Lectures – DELIVERED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE BY – F. MAX MÜLLER, K.M.)

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ओळख वेदांची – भाग ८

आरण्यक या नावातून अनेक अर्थ ध्वनीत होतात. त्या सर्व अर्थांचा समुच्चय केला तर आरण्यक म्हणजे काय हे समजणे सोपे जाईल.
पहिला अर्थ – अर्थातच अरण्यात किंवा जंगलात लिहिले गेलेले ग्रंथ, असा सोपा अर्थ निघतो. ‘अरण्ये भवम् इति आरण्यकम्।‘
दुसरा अर्थ सायणाचार्यांच्या भाष्यात येतो तो म्हणजे – वेदाचा जो अंश अरण्यात पठण/मनन केला जातो त्याला आरण्यक म्हणता येईल.

आरण्याध्ययनादेतद् आरण्यकमितिर्यते। अरण्ये तदधीयीतेत्येवं वाक्यं प्रवक्ष्यते।
(तैत्तिरिय आरण्यक भाष्य श्लोक ६)

हे झाले शब्दाची फोड करणारे अर्थ. अरण्यात माणूस कशासाठी जातो? शांतता मिळविण्यासाठी, चिंतन/तप करण्यासाठी. निसर्गाच्या सहवासात माणसाला परमात्म्याचा सहवास अधिक प्रकर्षाने जाणवतो. (**जंगलातील शांततेचा अनुभव घेतलेल्यांना हे चटकन् पटावे) अर्थातच नागरी जीवन आणि मोहाचा त्याग करून तत्वचिंतनात आयुष्य घालविण्यासाठी लोक अरण्याची वाट धरतात. म्हणूनच तत्वचिंतन हा विषय सांभाळणारे कोणते वैदिक ग्रंथ त्याने वाचावेत तर आरण्यके! हा आरण्यकांचा विषय सांगणारा अर्थ आहे.
आधीच्या भागात (वाचा – ब्राह्मण ग्रंथ) आपण पाहिलेत की वेदातील मंत्रांचा यज्ञीय कर्मकांडाशी निगडीत अर्थ लावण्याचे काम ब्राह्मण ग्रंथ करतात. याच कर्मकांडांचा तात्विक अभिप्राय मांडण्याचे काम आरण्यके करतात. कर्मकांड सांगणाऱ्या ब्राह्मण ग्रंथांना पूरक असे तत्वज्ञान सांगणे आणि पुढे येणा-या उपनिषदांची नांदी करणे असे दुहेरी कार्य आरण्यके करतात. त्यामुळे आरण्यके ही वेदवाङ्मयातीला कर्मकांड आणि ज्ञानकांड यांची सांगड घालणारा दुवा आहेत. वेदवाङ्मयात आरण्यकांचे स्थान अतिशय महत्वाचे आहे. उपनिषदे जर भारतीय तत्त्वज्ञानाचा पाया मानली तर आरण्यके ही या उपनिषदांचा पाया मानायला हरकत नाही असे म्हणतात.
(**जाता जाता हे ही सांगायला हवे की भाषिकदृष्ट्या पाहिल्यास आरण्यके ही वैदिक आणि लौकिक संस्कृत भाषेतीला दुवा मानली जातात)

रचना/स्वरूप

सर्वसाधारणपणे ब्राह्मण किंवा उपनिषदांप्रमाणेच प्रत्येक वेदांशी निगडीत अशीच आरण्यकांची रचना झाली असे मानतात त्यामुळेच ब्राह्मण ग्रंथांप्रमाणेच शाखा उपशाखा व्यापून आरण्यकांची संख्याही ११३० च्या आसपास असावी असा विचार मांडला जातो. परंतू दुर्दैवाने आज उपलब्ध असणाऱ्या आरण्यकांची संख्या केवळ ७ आहे.
ऋग्वेद – ऐतरेय आरण्यक, शांखायन आरण्यक
शुक्लयजुर्वेद – माध्यंदिन बृहदारण्यक, काण्व बृहदारण्यक
(बृहदारण्यक हे वास्तविक आरण्यक आहे. परंतु त्याचा आकार, विषयव्याप्ती इ. अनेक कारणांमुळे त्याची गणना उपनिषदांमध्ये होते.)
कृष्णयजुर्वेद – तैत्तिरिय आरण्यक, मैत्रायणी आरण्यक
सामवेद – तवलाकर(तवल्कर?) (जैमिनीय) आरण्यक, छान्दोग्य आरण्यक
अथर्ववेदाची आरण्यके उपलब्ध नाहीत किंवा त्याबद्दल पुरेशी माहितीही नाही.

विषय

नवनीतं यथा दध्नो मलयाच्चंदनं यथा, आरण्यकं च वेदेभ्य ओषधिभ्योsमृतं यथा।
(साधारण अर्थ) – दह्याचे (सार) जसे लोणी, मलयवृक्षाचे (सार) जसे चंदन किंवा औषधी(वनस्पतीं)चे (सार) जसे अमृत तसे वेदांचे (सार) आरण्यकांमध्ये आहे.

महाभारतातील या श्लोकातील उक्ती योग्य की अतिशयोक्ती, यात न पडता जर अर्थ पाहिला तर आरण्यकांचा विषय आणि त्याचे महत्व दोन्ही लक्षात येते. वर सांगितल्याप्रमाणे यज्ञकर्म आणि तत्वज्ञान हे आरण्यकांचे प्रमुख विषय आहेत. यज्ञातील विधी, त्यातील वैदिक मंत्र आणि त्यांचे तत्त्वज्ञान असा एक विषय आहे. ब्राह्मण ग्रंथातील यज्ञ हे अनेक विधी, समारंभ इ. नी परीपूर्ण आणि गुंतागुंतीचे आहेत. आरण्यकातील यज्ञ मात्र अतिशय साधे व सोपे असून अरण्यवासी ऋषीमुनी किंवा सामान्य माणसालाही सहज साध्य आहेत.
सृष्टीची उत्पत्ती या विषयावर विस्तृत मंथन आरण्यकात आढळते. वेदांप्रमाणेच आरण्यकातही ‘प्राण’ याच तत्त्वाला दृष्य अदृष्य सृष्टी आणि महाभूतांचे मूळ मानले गेले आहे. ऐतरेय आरण्यकात –
स्थूल आणि सूक्ष्म सर्वकाही प्राण तत्वातून उगम पावते, अंतरीक्ष आणि वायुचेही सर्जन प्राणातूनच होते असे वर्णन आहे.

प्राणेन सृष्टावन्तरिक्षं च वायुच्क्षान्तरिक्षं वा……….। 2

मैत्रायणी संहितेत प्राण तत्वालाच सर्व तत्वांचा जनक म्हणले आहे.

त्वं ब्रह्म त्वं च वै विष्णुः, त्वं रुद्रस्त्वं प्रजापति। त्वमाग्नि वरुणो वायुः, त्वार्मन्द्रस्त्वं निशाकरः।

मनुष्यासह संपूर्ण चराचर सृष्टीच्या मुळाशी प्राण हे एकच तत्व आहे. त्यामुळेच सृष्टीतील या सर्व घटकांशी सहभावनेने राहणे हे आपले प्रमुख कर्तव्य आहे हा विचार ऐतरेय आरण्यकात येतो. केवळ माणसा माणसात नव्हे तर सृष्टीच्या प्रत्येक दृष्य अदृष्य घटकातील हे साधर्म्य लक्षात घेऊन त्यांच्यासह कृतज्ञभावनेने राहण्याचा आग्रह आरण्यके करतात. याच कर्तव्याचा विसर पडल्याने मनुष्याला आज पर्यावरण आणि निसर्गाच्या अवकृपेचा सामना करावा लागतोय. आजकाल पर्यावरण, प्रदुषण, वायु उत्सर्जन, कार्बन न्युट्रल वगैरे शब्द वापरून सर्वत्र प्रसिद्ध होत चाललेल्या चळवळी ज्या गोष्टी घसा फोडून सांगत आहेत त्याचे मूळ तत्व आरण्यकात अतिशय साध्या आणि सोप्या शब्दात उभं केलंय. आरण्यकात याच तत्वाला अनुसरुन पंचमहाभूत यज्ञाची कल्पना मांडली आहे. हे पाच यज्ञ किंवा त्याला अनुसरुन नेहमी वागले पाहिजे असे आरण्यकात आवर्जून सांगितले आहे

पंच वा एते महायज्ञः सतति प्रजायन्ते।3

हे यज्ञ म्हणजे केवळ हवन नसून वर सांगितल्याप्रमाणे चराचर सृष्टीशी बांधिलकी जपण्याचे कार्य आहे. ब्रह्मयज्ञ – ऋषींबद्दल कृतज्ञता व्यक्त करणे / कृतज्ञ राहणे
पितृयज्ञ – पूर्वज/पितरांबद्दल कृतज्ञता व्यक्त करणे / कृतज्ञ राहणे
देवयज्ञ – देवतांबद्दल यज्ञाच्या माध्यमातून कृतज्ञता व्यक्त करणे / कृतज्ञ राहणे
भूतयज्ञ – प्राणीमात्र आणि वनस्पतींबद्दल कृतज्ञता व्यक्त करणे / कृतज्ञ राहणे
अतिथियज्ञ – अभ्यागतांचा आदर करणे.

या यज्ञांच्या माध्यमातून भोवतालच्या परिसरासह पर्यावरणाशी एकरूप राहणे महत्वाचे आहे हे आज भयानक वास्तव म्हणून समोर आलेले ज्ञान आरण्यकांनी शेकडो वर्षांपूर्वी सांगितले आहे. सृष्टीतील प्रत्येक तत्व जसे वायु, पाणी, अग्नि आणि वनस्पती यांचे महत्व जवळपास सर्व आरण्यकांमध्ये येते. वायुचे महत्व सांगताना अशुद्ध वायुमुळे आजारपण येते हे ऐतरेय आरण्यक सांगते. इतकेच नव्हे तर यज्ञातील समिधा निवडताना भोवतालचा वायु शुद्ध करणाऱ्या औदुंबर किंवा पळसासारख्या वनस्पती वापराव्यात असे सांगून यज्ञकर्माचेही महत्व स्पष्ट करते. यज्ञकर्म आणि तत्वज्ञान याची सांगड घालून वेद आणि उत्तरवेदकालीन समाजाला संतुलित धर्म कसा असतो याचा वस्तुपाठ आरण्यके घालून देतात. म्हणूनच ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चय या उपनिषदांच्या प्रमुख विषयाची बीजे आरण्यकात आढळतात असे म्हटले जाते.
अशाप्रकारे वेदवाङ्मय ही केवळ कोणत्याही एका धर्मासाठी किंवा विशिष्ट पंथासाठी रचलेली धार्मिक ग्रंथसंपदा नसून विश्वकल्याणाच्या उदात्त हेतून प्रेरित झालेल्या तत्कालिन ऋषीमुनीनी उभे केलेले जीवनकोश आहेत. वेदवाङ्मयाच्या महत्वाविषयी पुढील भागात……

तळटीप
१. महाभारत, शांतिपर्व ३३१-३
२. ऐतरेय आरण्यक २/१/७
३. तैत्तिरिय आरण्यक

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Quest – Bhagvad Gita – Part 5

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Indeed, a great account by Shelley, expressing vainness of the material wealth! Shelley’s sonnet ‘Ozymandias’ too signifies, what Krishna is trying to explain Arjuna.

Everything material is short lived. Monumental cities or gigantic structures! Even great kings and valiant warriors like Bhishma or Arjuna aren’t lasting forever. A material grant will shine today and expire tomorrow. The gist is instead of cultivating the temptations of the body, one should seek eternal happiness.

Undying happiness will be the product of an undying soul, hence understanding the nature of soul is key to Salvation.

What is the nature of soul….

From the 17th verse of Chapter II – Sankhya Yoga, Lord Krishna describes the nature of the soul.

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ।।२।।२०।।

The soul is never born nor dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable, timeless and is never destroyed even when the body is.

अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ।
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्चित्कर्तुमर्हति ।।२।।१७।।
वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि ।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णान्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ।।२।।२२।।
नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ।।२।।२३।।

The soul is indestructible, eternal, and omnipresent. (Verse 17) It is neither born nor deceased. It’s the body that is destroyed. When the body is destroyed, the soul enters another, the way a man shrugs off his old clothes and puts on new ones. (Verses 22, 23)

The body of a being goes through various stages of existence like birth, aging and death. The soul, however isn’t bound by these. The body may undergo wear and tear, burning, drowning or like. The soul does not have these infirmities. The body is destroyed one day; the soul is not. He only verves into another body.

Thus Lord Krishna explains Arjuna, nature of the illusory creation and the immortal soul.

The coherent Arjuna fires the next question! What about the sin of killing, even if you agree to not mourn? If it is believed that the bodies of Bhishma or Drona are mortal, isn’t it a sin to kill any of them?

From verses 31 to 39, Lord Krishna explains the importance of following one’s duty (Swa Dharmaस्वधर्म). Swa means Self and Dharma is Duty (here). Fighting for the truth and righteousness is the duty of a warrior (Kshatriyaक्षत्रिय). There is no sin in a combat if it’s for upholding greater good of the society. Let’s take a simple example. A soldier on the front, defending his country is not looked upon as a sinner. It is his duty to protect his nation. His action is hence held in the interest of the society and not demeaned as ruthless massacre.

A royal court which helplessly tolerates misbehaviour against a female member of family (Draupadi) requires re-engineering. It’s the ordained duty of a true warrior to bring proper statehood to the depraved dynasty and to a society which allowed such a shameful act to happen. It is not a sin to fight against it. In fact, it would be a sin to move away from the war in such state of affairs. Moreover, fleeing from war will create wrong ideals in the society. It is the duty of the future ruler (Arjuna) to guide the society in the right direction. Even if he has to fight for it, it is the right thing to do. It is a sin for Kshatriyas to be weakened by seeing individual kinship instead of collective interest. Lord Krishna thus pacifies Arjuna’s query on sin!

Krishna discourses origin of existence, nature of body and soul and duty (Swa Dharma) of an individual. His motive is to convince Arjuna that – Duryodhana, Dushasana or he himself are purely right or wrong perspectives. Masses keep verging knowingly or unknowingly between right and wrong ideologies. Sometimes the unjust is strong and society may run after it. Just as the army then behind Duryodhana is outnumbering Pandavas.

As the existence is perishable so are right and wrong attitudes. These are perceptions emerging out of a vacillating mindset. What looks good to you today may not be so great tomorrow. One must overcome this inconstancy of mind. Because once the mind is stable, it comprehends what is right and does it.

A gun never fires, the hand behind it fires;
hand never fires, man behind it fires;
man never fires, Mind behind it fires!

This stability of mind is the third part of Arjuna’s quest. Once his mind gains stability, he would know whether war is right or wrong and he could act accordingly. In fact, an unwavering mind would decipher all questions related to existence and lead him to eternal peace – Salvation.

There’s a story about classical vocalist Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. While traveling through the forest, he rested at a temple. There arrived a hermit. In the dusky evening, the ascetic, immersed in his own universe, begins to sing. Paluskar felt that the whole world is mesmerized listening to that song, the temple is filled with celestial light! After a while, when he came to his senses, the song is over and the light is gone. Paluskar asked the ascetic, “Will you teach me singing that has such a transcendental effect? I am ready to do anything for it. I am even ready to become a hermit.” The ascetic grinned and replies “Such singing is not the result of being a hermit. But when you attain such a proficiency in your trade, you will automatically become a hermit. “

Hermits and commoners are games of the mind. The one whose mind is stable can be a hermit even though he is a commoner and the one whose mind is not stable……

Sthita Prajna – The Unwavering ………

Prajna means intellect, Sthita means steadfast. The Unwavering one…. whose intellect is stable. One who has no duality in thought and action….. A staunch pragmatist.

The description of Sthita Prajna surfaces from verse 54 of the second chapter. Arjuna curiously seeks to know how the one with stable mind looks, behaves and reacts. Krishna describes.

दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः ।
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ॥ २।। ५६ ॥

The one, who’s mind is undisturbed by distress, without desire for happiness, free from attachment, fear and anger, that sage is known as steadfast in consciousness.

A sage is a person who has no regrets, has no desire for happiness at all, and whose love, fear and anger have disappeared.

It’s as hard to put it into practice as it is easy to say. For..

यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्चितः।
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः ॥२।। ६० ॥

O Arjuna the senses are so turbulent they can forcibly lead astray the mind of even a vigilant person of sound judgement.

Strong senses invariably attract the human mind into various temptations. Hence developing neutrality towards sorrow and happiness becomes difficult. A common man can understand being neutral towards sorrow but being neutral to happiness? Sounds crazy!

Unlike the Sthita Prajna,

यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः।
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता॥२।। ५८ ॥

Similar to a tortoise that withdraws its limbs, when one completely withdraws the senses from the temptations, he is established in perfect knowledge.

That is why the temptations that seduce the common man do not bother him. His mind and body are engrossed in only one thought, eternal bliss… which is salvation.

In case of momentary happiness and sorrow,

रागद्वेषवियुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्‍चरन्‌ ।
आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति ॥२।।६४ ॥

But the self-controlled being, while amidst objects of the senses, freed from the attachment and aversion, with senses governed by the self; attains ecstasy.

Like a droplet on a leaf maintaining its distinctness, the Sthita Prajna attains bliss despite staying amongst the sensory temptations.

Lord Krishna calls such a state ‘Brahmi’ – ultimate state, that is, the state of attaining eternal happiness.

एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति ।
स्थित्वास्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति॥२।।७२ ॥

O Arjuna, one who attains the realization of the Ultimate Truth, is never again deluded and at the moment of death, liberates from the material existence and merges into the ultimate consciousness.

Epilogue

The Sthita Prajna and his qualities are unique features of the Gita. They’ve not been mentioned anywhere else in Indian Philosophy (like Upanishadas).

A closer look at Gita reveals that Chapter II actually summarizes the entire essence of Indian School of Wisdom. The questions Arjuna is struggling with, are related not just to war but to a meaningful life. Lord Krishna unfolds the mystery within this chapter.

If we want eternal happiness, we should be able to distinguish between what is eternal and what is fleeting in existence. According to the Sankhya, the visual creation is temporary, while the soul is eternal.

We, who are part of the fleeting creation will not get eternal happiness until we free ourselves out of that delusion. To come out of the delusion is to come out of the momentary pleasure and sorrow.

To come out of happiness and sorrow is to look at both joy and sorrow with equanimity and to give them up. To gain this equilibrium, restraint is needed on the senses.

If the senses are to be controlled, then the mind must be controlled, and to control the mind, is not to suppress it but to conquer it with the intellect.

The one who acquires this intellect becomes Sthita Prajna i.e. the Unwavering.

He, whose intellect is stable, is happy because he recognizes that happiness is within and not in the matter around. Then the fruits of his deeds do not bother him. He can withstand both happiness and sorrow and can go beyond them.

Here the process and the product become one. The seeker and the sought after (happiness) become one. The person who has gone into the Brahmi – Ultimate state, breaks the confinements of material happiness and reaches inner peace – Salvation aka Nirvana.

What could better explain the bliss than John Donne’s lines!

One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Once we realize the dreamy nature of material world and awaken ourselves out of it, fear of even the death, vanishes. Pure happiness dawns, breaking barriers of existence.

Copyright sheetaluwach.com 2020 ©

Quest – Bhagvad Gita – Part 4

नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमा परो यत् ।
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरम्।। (Rigveda. 10.129)

Nasadiya Sukta (नासदीय सूक्त) ……… It is said that the description of the origin of creation given in this hymn (129) in the 10th Mandala of Rigveda, matches with the one in Big Bang Theory (not the TV serial!). It is astonishing to find resemblance between thoughts of two seekers with distinct paths. A philosopher and a scientist.

It is a wonderful fact that a scientist proves what a philosopher stated ages ago. What could be the reason? If you go a little deeper, you can see the similarities between the two. Both are intellectuals. Both embark on different paths but seek a common goal. The scientist seeks eternal happiness through material progress, while the philosopher, through spiritual progress …

The scientific progress that has been made over the years makes mankind happier but puzzles the scientist. Is man really happy after creating so many means of material happiness? The answer is definitely negative. Because if that were the case, there would be no need to build more means of happiness. The philosopher also plunges into this riddle. New tools make people happy, but only momentarily. So what are those that keep them happy forever? Is Happiness really in the tools or elsewhere?

Arjuna too falls into this dilemma. After winning the war, he will get the kingdom, he will get all the means of happiness, but he will have to suffer the pain of killing his own relatives. If he doesn’t not fight, he won’t suffer the loss of extermination, but there will be contempt for being a weakling. Essence is, there’s no happiness without a smidgen of sorrow. But he’s looking for happiness that will last forever and be free from sorrows. With a chaotic mindset, Arjuna makes somewhat uncertain decision to not fight. He then turns to Krishna and says –

कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः ।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्‌।। Gita 2.7।।

A chaotic mindset has weakened my ability to act. I am asking you to (please) explain what’s good for me since I am your disciple.

Now it’s Krishna’s turn to enlighten a confused but studious seeker. The theory has to be potent enough to satisfy Arjuna, a scholarly disciple.

With great skill, Krishna convinces Arjuna, why he should continue to battle. Moreover, Krishna raises the path of eternal happiness before him by unfolding concepts like the nature of existence, the importance of karma, the stability of intellect and the steadfast attitude that comes with the knowledge of all these, respectively.

Sankhya Yoga ….

It is believed that the seeds of Sankhya principle can be traced back as far as Rigveda. Sankhya ….. a theory… which fascinated thinkers from Rigvedic sages to Buddhist scholars. Principle, that finds a place in many schools of thought such as Buddhism and Jainism. References or versions of Sankhya school are found in Rigveda, Upanishadas (Shwetashvatara श्वेताश्वतर, Taittiriya तैत्तिरीय, Aitareya ऐतरेय, Brihadaranyaka बृहदारण्यक), Baudhayana’s Grihyasutra (बौधायन गृह्यसूत्र), Patanjali’s Yogasutra (पतंजली योगसूत्र) and Charaksamhita (चरकसंहीता). Links go even to Chinese translation of Parmartha1 (परमार्थ).  Sankhya… a word in itself has enough material to compose a separate thesis. But for now we will only look at Sankhya in the context of the 2nd chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

Just as the entire world of computers is made up of binary 0 and 1 so is the universe, according to Sankhya, made up of 2 eternal principles. Sankhya means number and Yoga means unification. The entire existence is formed through unification of these 2 eternal principles. Purusha (पुरुष) and Prakriti (प्रकृती). ‘Purusha (पुरुष)’ is an imperishable, everlasting, numerous element and ‘Prakriti(प्रकृती)’ is perishable, capricious element. Prakriti is classified into multiple predetermined elements (Mahabhuta) collaborating to create an assorted world. The principle of Prakriti stands for all things that are mortal, while Purusha is the indestructible soul/energy. The combination of these two creates existence. When the mortal form perishes, the soul is liberated and absorbed into another being in the Prakriti. Such is a skeletal framework of Sankhya Philosophy.

Now let’s look into Gita … Krishna splits his rationale in three parts based on the Sankhya principle.

  • Reality of existence
  • Balancing Perspectives, practising equanimity.
  • Portrayal of the Unwavering (स्थितप्रज्ञ) – Practitioner of equanimity

Krishna handles this like a skilled counsellor. He emphatically states that it is indecent for a valiant Arjuna to behave cowardly. He is already mourning on an intended destruction while he does not even have knowledge of creation.

अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे। गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ।।Gita 2.11।।

You are not only mourning for the unavoidable but also upholding an argument in its favour! The learned neither lament for those who are dead nor for the living.

The body is made up of – perishable elements Prakriti, and the soul (Aatman -आत्मन्) is immortal –  Purusha. It is certain that the body will perish whether or not you destroy it. What does this mean? This means it is irrational to grieve and argue about the inevitable. No matter how hard you try, no one will live beyond their existential boundary. Even you, me or monarchs around us won’t be living forever.

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः । न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।।Gita 2.12।।

Never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these rulers (e.g. Kauravas) and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future.

Then why and how much to mourn? The death of the one who is born is inevitable. This is the law of creation.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that it is pointless to grieve for the departed or even the living! Whatever born is destroyed. It yields and perishes. That is seen momentarily of course by the subject of external senses.

After all, the body of an enemy, relative or anyone else is mortal. Sooner or later it will be destroyed. So there is nothing wrong with Arjuna destroying it when an inevitable war is raging.

This is the first half of Sankhya doctrine in which the perishable principle of Prakriti is manifested. This is true not only about the body, but also about the fact that every element of creation that is perceived through the external senses is mortal. What are the external senses? Eyes, ears, nose, skin…. This means that, what can be seen by the eyes, heard by the ears, smells coming from the nose and touch felt by the skin are all short-lived.

Prakriti is a finite and mutable principle hence it can’t alone serve the human quest of eternal happiness. On the other hand, Purusha/Soul is an indestructible and everlasting principle that binds us and the creator together. Knowledge of Purusha leads to the knowledge of the creator i.e. to the door of eternal happiness.

How does Krishna describe the nature of Soul and further moves to the remaining parts of his explanation…? in the next part …

Footnote:

  1. Parmartha परमार्थ – A 10th Century Buddhist monk. Born in Ujjain in CE 499, Parmartha converted and spread Buddhism in Cambodia initially and then in southern China. He is known for his Chinese translations of many Buddhist texts like Abhidharmakosh (अभिधर्मकोष) and Suvarnaprabhasasutra (सुवर्णप्रभाससुत्र). Parmartha also translated the Sankhya doctrine of Panchshikha and Ishwar Krishna. He died in CE 569 in China.

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Quest – Bhagvad Gita – Part 3

Perspective …. Arjuna Vishada Yoga!

Perspective ……….. Perspective of an individual exercises profound effect on his expression. This is evident in the case of artists. The foundation of a creation rests on how an artist looks at the subject. If an artist’s approach to a subject, thought or an event is different, then the artistic expression that emerges from it can also be dramatically different.

Christopher Marlow generates a horrific picture of man’s lust of power and fame in ‘Doctor Faustus’, a tragic play based on a concept of a mortal possessing heavenly powers. The same concept is depicted in a hilarious comedy ‘Bruce Almighty’…  what differs is approach… Perspective of the artist towards a concept.

Arjuna Vishada… The same is true about the first chapter in Gita. Since this chapter has been consistently presented in the form of Arjuna’s lament, most of the readers find it melodramatic and Arjuna, an emotional fool! The solicitous side of Arjuna doesn’t surface unless we change our perspective… Conscience.

Conscience … the intellect to know the difference between right and wrong.

Conscience …. the patience that makes you think about the consequences before taking any step.

Conscience …. the difference between Arjuna and other warriors who had inhuman and destructive powers and were eager for war…

Numerous great warriors during the Mahabharata war were equipped with infinite power and divine weapons. Majority of them were eager to practice those weapons. But how many of them were mindful of the immeasurable damage these divine weapons could bring? Most of them were marching impatiently burning with selfishness or vengeance.

Perspective…….. ‘Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. Sheer Aggression or Vengeance as an approach to victory causes extermination!!

How much more should the conscience of a hero who has the power to destroy millions of families be awakened? Arjuna manifests this conscience. The restraint appears through Arjuna Vishada.

He does not dare take up arms unless he’s convinced of the inevitability of war and destruction. Not because he is weak or faint-hearted, but because he is confident of his destructive power. He is aware of the all-encompassing effects of genocide…

Arjuna stands out in this chapter not only as a mighty warrior but also as a mature, prolific and prudent leader. He is sure that if he has to be the future ruler, he has to take every step thoughtfully. Since the society will set him as a role-model and will follow his footsteps. That is why he inspects the horrible consequences of war from different perspectives and roles. Effects on all factors such as an individual, family, society, religion, economics, politics, values…

Knowing all this, he wants a satisfactory answer as to why is he waging war? Because as a prudent person and a future ruler, he has to take the moral responsibility of this war and justify it to the next generations. That is why he is anxious to take up arms without getting fully convinced.

Attitude … Inquisitiveness ….

Apart from presenting the ferocity of war and Arjuna’s maturity, there can still be a feature in Chapter 1. Which appears in the subsequent chapters as well. Curiosity …. desire for knowledge ….

There is a story in the Mahabharata. It is said that Drona used to play a trick while teaching archery to the Kauravs and Pandavas. In the morning, he would send each student with a container to fetch water. Since the vessel given to Ashwatthama had wider mouth, he used to come back earlier than others. Then Dronacharya used to teach him some distinct tricks till other disciples arrived. Only Arjuna comprehends this clue and manages to reach with Ashvatthama to become the beneficiary of this special class. Later he was also chosen to perform penance and travel to obtain divine weapons. Moreover, the fact that Arjuna was closest to Lord Krishna amongst the Pandava siblings clearly indicates that Arjuna was not only a mighty warrior but also a curious scholar.

That’s why mere Yudhisthira’s word or Krishna’s order isn’t enough for him. He knowingly turns down such appeals. His conscience keeps alarming that an annihilation demands much more substantial and comprehensive purpose than just vengeance.

Hence before taking any step he seeks multifarious enlightenment from Krishna. He wants to understand inevitability of war from different perspectives.

Arjuna, a curious seeker and a true worshiper of knowledge was the reason why a divine being like Krishna detailed the knowledge in 17 Chapters. Greater the seeker’s curiosity, greater the scope of knowledge! Therefore, attainment like Gita resulted out of the curiosity of a seeker like Arjuna.

And of course, if it was not for Arjuna Vishada, would Krishna have recited Gita? And would we have received it so easily?!

Therefore, the knowledge in the 17 chapters of Gita is a gift of Arjuna Vishada.

What is this gift … Sankhya Yoga …. in the next part …

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Glossary of Terms in Indian Scriptures

A list of Characters, Names, Concepts and Stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana and hoards of Indian Scriptures.

Press “Control F” on Keyboard or Search the page from “browser menu” to go to a Specific Term. This page is updated every day with new terms.

MAHABHARATA

It is said that Ved Vyasa initially composed a historic commentary on Kurukshetra war known as Jay (जय). It was around 10000 verses. Vyasa taught this book to 4 of his disciples Shuka (शुक), Pail (पैल), Jaimini (जैमिनी) and Vaishampayan (वैशंपायन). By oral tradition they spread the text amongst their disciples. While narrating this to the disciples they answered queries about the characters in the Jay making additions to the original which was then called Bharat (भारत). The Mahabharata we read today is structured around a dialogue between Sauti/Ugrashravas (उग्रश्रवस्/सौती) a sage narrating it to Shaunaka another sage, covering stories from Jay and Bharata or Vaishmapayana  As earlier he too made additions to address queries and it finally became Maha Bharata a text having 100,000 Verses.
There have been unauthorized intrusions to Mahabharata text as well which are known as Prakshipta (प्रक्षिप्त). BORI has completed a project of publishing a Critical Edition of Mahabharata filtering all the unauthorized and unendorsed intrusion to the text. BORI edition hence is known as the best known source of Mahabharata text.

BHISHMA (भीष्म)

Bhishma was primarily a God descended from the heaven. (He was part of 8 Vasu’s (अष्ट वसु)), He was the 8th son of Ganga the heavenly entity and Shantanu the Kuru king. His real name is Devavrata (देवव्रत). Bhishma was a title awarded to him from heaven after taking his famous oath that, he’ll not claim the Hastinapura throne but will always protect its bearer. He was nobleman powerful with weapons, learned scholar with knowledge gained from heaven, wise like a sage. He was hence respected for all these together. Power, Wisdom, Courage, Nobility, Sacrifice. He obtained knowledge from great masters.

KAURAVAS (101 CHILDREN OF DHRITARASTHRA & GANDHARI)

Duhsala (Sister) , Duryodhana , Dushasana , Vikarna (The good natured one) , Jalagandha , Sama , Saha , Vindha , Anuvindha , Durmukha , Chitrasena , Durdarsha , Durmarsha , Dussaha , Durmada , Dussalan , Dushkarna , Durdhara , karna , Durmarshana , Durvishaha , Durvimochana , Dushpradharsha , Durjaya , Jaitra , Bhurivala , Ravi , Jayatsena , Sujata , Srutavan , Srutanta , Jayat , Chitra , Upachitra , Charuchitra , Chitraksha , Sarasana , Chitrayudha , Chitravarman , Suvarma , Sudarsana , Dhanurgraha , Vivitsu , Subaahu , Nanda , Upananda , Kratha , Vatavega , Nishagin , Kavashin , Paasi , Vikata , Soma , Suvarchasas , Dhanurdhara , Ayobaahu , Mahabaahu , Chithraamga , Chithrakundala , Bheemaratha , Bheemavega , Bheemabela , Ugraayudha , Kundhaadhara , Vrindaaraka , Dridhavarma , Dridhakshathra , Dridhasandha , Jaraasandha , Sathyasandha , Sadaasuvaak , Ugrasravas , Ugrasena , Senaany , Aparaajitha , Kundhasaai , Dridhahastha , Suhastha , Suvarcha , Aadithyakethu , Ugrasaai , Kavachy , Kradhana , Kundhy , Bheemavikra , Alolupa , Abhaya , Dhridhakarmaavu , Dhridharathaasraya , Anaadhrushya , Kundhabhedy , Viraavy , Chithrakundala , Pradhama , Amapramaadhy , Deerkharoma , Suveeryavaan , Dheerkhabaahu , Kaanchanadhwaja , Kundhaasy , Virajas

Brihaspati: Dandaneeti
Shukracharya: Political Science
Vashishtha: Veda and Vedanga
Sanatkumara : Mental and Spiritual knowledge
Markandeya: Yati Jnana
Parashuram: Archery
Indra: Divya Astra

ATHARVAN (अथर्वण)

Traces of Atharvan the sage are found in Mundaka Upanishada. It is said that he was born from the mind of the Brahma. Atharvan (अथर्वण्) was great sage of the Vedic Period. It is believed that he along with Rishi Angirasa were inspired to compose Atharvaveda the Fourth Veda. Sacrificial Process OR Yajna was introduced by Rishi Atharvan. Legend says Atharvan got married to Shanti, daughter of Kardama rishi, and Dadhichi was Athrarvan’s Son. Dadhichi was the great sage who fathered Vajra the unbeatable weapon of Indra

NAKULA (नकुल)

Nakula’s was fourth out of five Pandava brothers. Son of Madri by the boon of Ashwini Kumara. His name meant most handsome in the lineage. They used to compare him with Kaamdeva. He was a great swordsman and skilled in maintaining horses. During the year of exile, he assumed the duty of hostler in the stable of Virata. During the Kurukshetra war he killed Karna’s sons Sushena, Chitrasena and Satyasena. It is said that he was proud of his looks which made him fall during the time of Pandava ascending the heaven. He was 3rd to fall after Draupadi and Sahadeva.

ULUPI (उलुपी)

Ulupi, a character in Mahabharata, was one of Arjuna’s 4 wives. It’s said that she was daughter of Naga king. Arjuna was on pilgrimage and travelling the today’s North East region of India, he was bathing in Ganga when Ulupi got attracted towards him and dragged him into the water world. He after knowing the reality agreed to marry her and they bore a child known as Irawan. Ulupi’s name is also found in Vishnu Purana and Bhagvata Purana

RAGHUVANSHA (रघुवंश)

Raghuvansha is an Epic composed by Kalidasa. It’s a world renowned text covering descendants of Ikshwaku. The poetry, imagery and description is matchless and beautiful.

SHIKHANDI (शिखंडी)

Shikhandi is an interesting character in Mahabharata. There are multiple stories to be passed before we arrive at this character. Bhishma forcefully abducted 3 daughters of Kashi King from their Swayamvara. He wanted them to be married to his half-brother Vichitraveerya. Vichitraveerya married only 2, Ambika and Ambalika because Amba refused saying that she loved Shalva King and can’t marry anyone else. Bhishma returned her to Shalva however ever Shalva refused to accept her since he was defeated by Bhishma during the abduction. Amba returned and asked Bhishma to marry her which he obviously turned down. Amba tried multiple ways to avenge Bhishma like taking Parashurama to fight Bhishma. She later resorted to penance and finally got the boon to be Bhishma’s slayer. She however had to be reborn as a son to Drupada. The son was named Shikhandi. It is said that he was a eunuch and there are couple of more stories about it. Since Bhishma was aware about this he refused to fight a battle against Shikhandi and eventually got killed.

SANDIPANI (सांदिपनी)

Rishi Sandipani was the Guru of Lord Krishna and Balarama in the Mortal Realm. It is said that he was from Ujjain. There is a story in the Bhagavata Purana. Lord Krishna and Balarama studied in the Sandipani Ashrama with their friend Sudama. After completion of their studies, they requested Sandipani to ask for the Guru Dakshina (his fee for educating them) in form of whatever he feels appropriate. Sandipani asked for the restoration of his child, who had disappeared in the ocean at Prabhasa (a place around the Western Coast). Krishna and Balarama found that the son had been snatched away by a demon known as Shankhasura. However, when they found that Sandipani’s son is not with Shankhasura anymore and has been taken away by Yama (Death). Krishna and Balarama finally rescued the sage’s son from Yama himself. Krishna in the process, acquired his famous conch, Panchajanya, from Shankhasura.

PASHUPATA ASTRA (पाशुपात अस्त्र)

The Pashupata Astra is one of those divine weapons which were matchless and extremely destructive. This Astra/weapon belongs to and bears its name from Pashupati i.e. Lord Shiva. It is said that this can be discharged by mind, eyes, words or bow ( by mounting on an arrow). The weapon had the power to annihilate all beings. Very few warriors were bestowed with this weapon after proving themselves worthy of it to Lord Shiva. Literary evidence suggests only 3 great warriors possessed Pashupata Astra. Sage Vishvamitra, Meghanad (Ravana’s Son) and Arjuna. Pashupata was unstoppable by any power hence it was called MantraMukta (Free from any spell). There were rules guiding such weapons. It was forbidden to use it against an unworthy (less powerful) opponent. Arjuna was advised to obtain this weapon and hence he conducted penance (Tapa). Lord Shiva was pleased with this however he first scrutinized Arjuna’s might and will. He appeared in disguise of a hunter. He and Arjuna fought over a prey and Lord Shiva wounded Arjuna in arrow and sword battles. Arjuna realizing that this undefeatable hunter is none other than Lord Shiva. He bowed and sought blessings. Lord Shiva blessed him to be undefeatable and awarded Pashupata Astra.

BHAGADATTA (भगदत्त)

Bhagadatta was the king of Pragjyotishapura (प्रागज्योतीषपुर) Kingdom. He was succeeded by his son Vajradatta. He detested Lord Krishna hence he sided with Kauravas in the Mahabharata war. He was a Maharathi, leading an army of Kiratas. He was a renowned elephant warfare expert. On the 12th day of the Mahabharata war, he fought fiercely with Arjuna on his elephant Supratika. Bhagadatta fired the invincible Vaishnava Astra on Arjuna. Lord Krishna countered it by standing up. The potent weapon touched Krishna’s chest and turned into a garland. Arjuna later shot a lethal arrow and beheaded Bhagadatta.

SHANTANU (शंतनु)

Shantanu was the king of Hastinapura. He was youngest Son of Pratipa after Devapi and Balhik. He got married to Ganga the divine entity. Ganga agreed to marry Shantanu on one condition. He will never cross question any of her actions. After their first son was born, Ganga drowned him into the river. She followed suit with the next 6 as well. Dismayed Shantanu stopped her from doing the same with their 8th son.  Bound by the condition, Ganga with her son left Shantanu. Devavrata was that 8th Son, who later was titled as Bhishma. Shantanu was a great warrior and well-loved ruler. He led a life of Brahmacharya after Ganga’s departure and focused on his empire. Years later Ganga returned with grown up Devavrata and bestowed him to Shantanu. Later Shantanu was attracted towards a fisherman’s daughter Satyawati. Her father, the fisherman put a condition for their marriage that Satyawati’s son will ascend the throne and not Devavrata. Devavrata, for his father’s happiness accepted that and vowed not to desire the throne ever. Shantanu married Satyawati. They had two children Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya. After Shantanu’s death. Vichitraveerya became king of Hastinapura.

KACHA (कच)

Kacha was the son of Rishi (Sage) Brihaspati. Brihaspati was known as Dev Guru (Guru of the Gods). Kacha’s story appears in couple of Indian scriptures including Mahabharata, Matsya Purana and Agni Purana. Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) used to have battles of superiority. Asuras had an upper hand since Shukracharya the Guru of Asuras (Demons) knew a Mantra (spell) that would revive the dead known as Sanjeevani Mantra. Brihaspati sends Kacha to Shukracharya disguised as a disciple to achieve the the Mantra (spell) for Devas (Gods). Kacha impresses Shukracharya’s daughter Devayani and also becomes favourite disciple of Shukracharya. The Asuras (Demons) get to know Kacha’s reality and kill him multiple times to be revived each time by Shukracharya because of Devayani. Finally Asuras (Demons) kill Kacha and burn him to ashes. They mix these ashes in liquor and give it to Shukracharya. When Shukracharya realizes that Kacha is dead and is now gone inside his own stomach he teaches Kacha the Sanjeevani Mantra (spell). Kacha comes out by tearing Shukracharya’s stomach and with the spell revives his teacher! After this Kacha decides to go back to Deva Loka (Abode of the Gods) but is wooed by Devayani. He tells her that she’s like a sister to him since she’s the daughter of his teacher. Furious Devayani curses him that he’ll never be able to use the Sanjeevani Mantra (spell) when he’ll need it.

VRISHAKETU (वृषकेतू)

Vrishaketu the youngest and only surviving son of Karna. It is said that after realizing that Karna was the eldest Kaunteya (Kunti’s Son), Pandavas felt that Vrishaketu being Karna’s son has the right to ascend Hastinapura throne. Dying Karna however didn’t accept the idea. He felt he was a Kaunteya but wasn’t a Pandava. Only a Pandava (Pandu’s lineage) had the right on Hastinapura throne. This idea was accepted by Krishna as well. However the Kingdom of Indraprastha was created by Kaunteyas with no lineage issues, hence Pandava’s decide that Vrishaketu will rule both Indraprastha and Anga, while Parikshit the son of Abhimanyu will rule Hasthinapura.

ASHWATTHAMA (अश्वत्थामा)

Ashwatthama is the son of Dronacharya and Kripi. Drona obtained the son by Lord Shiva’s boon who possessed the same valiance as Lord Shiva. Ashvatthama is born with a gem on his forehead which gives him power over all living beings lower than humans; it protects him from hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Dronacharya lived a simple life, with little money. Hence Ashvatthama had difficult childhood. Legends say his family couldn’t even afford milk. To provide a better life for his family, Drona goes to the Drupada, his classmate and friend and then king of Panchala. However, Drupada humiliates Drona claiming a king and a beggar cannot be friends. After this incident, Kripacharya invites Drona to Hastinapura. On Bhishma’s request Dronacharya becomes the guru of both Pandavas and Kauravas in Hastinapura. Ashwatthama is trained in the art of warfare along with them. Ashwatthama fought the Kurukshetra war on the Kaurava side against the Pandavas. Ashvatthama was appointed as the final commander-in-chief. Ashwathama in feat of rage, attacked Pandava camp at night and slaughtered Draupadi’s sons. When Arjuna countered him later he used Brahma Astra to kill all Pandavas. Arjuna had to use Brahma Astra as the only counter measure. Sage Vyasa appeared and appealed both of them to take back the Astra since it was killing innocent beings. Arjuna took it back however Ashwathama directed it to the womb of Uttara. Lord Krishna revived the dead son of Uttara and cursed Ashwathama  to be a Chiranjivi. Later Ashwatthama ruled the Northern Panchala kingdom which Drona had confiscated from Drupada. He was one of the warriors of Mahabharata war who crossed all limits of conduct and even misused divine Astra’s.

VYASA (व्यास)

Vyasa or Ved Vyasa was son of Sage Parashara and Satyawati, the adopted daughter of fisherman Dusharaj. The story of Vyasa’s birth goes like this. Parashara was wandering around the region of Yamuna river. He was crossing the river by a small ferry steered by Satyawati. He was attracted to Satyawati and asked her consent to be his partner. Satyawati didn’t agree initially because she didn’t want to lose her virginity without getting married. Parashara promised that her virginity will stay intact despite their meeting which could be arranged by his sagely prowess. Satyawati then agreed. After the meeting she gave birth to Vyasa on an island in the Yamuna river itself. Vyasa is also known as Dvaipayana (one born on a Dvipa – Island). Parashara had performed a tough penance for Lord Shiva and Shiva had given him a boon that his son will be a Brahmarshi (Rishi of the highest rank). Vyasa became a Brahmarshi and composed epic like Mahabharat as well as majority of Indian scriptures/texts on philosophy. He composed Brahma Sutra which is known as one of the backbones of Indian Philosophy.

DHRISHTADYUMNA (धृष्टद्युम्न)

Drupada, the Panchala King, desired a son who could kill Dronacharya, who had humiliated Drupada in battle and taken half his kingdom. Drupada undertook a Putrakameshti (पुत्रकामेष्टी) Yajna, a sacrifice to obtain offspring by the blessing of Gods. The sacrifice was conducted with the help of two sage brothers Yaja and Upayaja After making the sacrificial offerings, Dhrishtadyumna emerged from the fire. He was already a fully grown powerful young and armed man along with his sister Draupadi. Even though he was the destined killer of Drona, he was accepted as a student by Drona. Drona taught him advanced military arts. Dhrishtadyumna was the first and only commander-in-chief of the Pandava army in the Kurukshetra war. After hearing rumours Ashwatthama’s death Drona laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Dhrishtadyumna took this opportunity and beheaded him. Ashwathama the last commander in chief of Kaurava army, attacked the Pandava camp during the night on 18th Day, and killed Dhristadyumna by beating and smothering him while he was asleep.

CHIRANJEEVA (चिरंजीव)

There are 7 immortal living beings mentioned in Indian Scriptures.
Ashwatthama – Son of Dronacharya (Mahabharata)
Bali – The Asura King
Vyasa – Sage who composed Mahabharata
Hanumana – Son of Vayu and Anjani. (Ramayana)
Vibhishina/BiBhishana – Ravana’s Brother
Kripa – Kripi’s brother and Guru of the Kauravas. (Mahabharata
Parashurama – An incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
There’s a verse covering all these 7

अश्वत्थामाबलिर्व्यासोहनुमांश्च विभीषण:कृपश्चपरशुरामश्च सप्तैतेचिरंजीविन:।।

AKSHOUHINI

Akshouhini is the unit to count number of troops. The units were divided into 9 types as below
1. पत्ती                                                     1 Elephant + 1 Chariot + 3 Horse + 5 Foot Soldiers
2. सेनामुख        (3 x पत्ती)-                   3 Elephant + 3 Chariot + 9 Horse + 15 Foot Soldiers
3. गुल्म              (3 x सेनामुख)             9 Elephant + 9 Chariot + 27 Horse + 45 Foot Soldiers
4. गण                (3 x गुल्म)                  27 Elephant + 27 Chariot + 81 Horse + 135 Foot Soldiers
5. वाहीनी           (3 x गण)                   81 Elephant + 81 Chariot + 243 Horse + 405 Foot Soldiers
6. पृतना             (3 x वाहिनी)              243 Elephant + 243 Chariot + 729 Horse + 1215 Foot Soldiers
7. चमू                 (3 x पृतना)                729 Elephant + 729 Chariot + 2187 Horse + 3645 Foot Soldiers
8. अनीकिनी      (3 x चमू)                  2187 Elephant + 2187 Chariot + 6561 Horse + 10935 Foot Soldiers
9. अक्षौहिणी      (10 x अनीकिनी)     21870 Elephant + 21870 Chariot + 65610 Horse + 109350 Foot Soldiers

DRONACHARYA (द्रोणाचार्य)

Dronacharya was royal preceptor to the Kauravas and Pandavas. He was the son of sage Bharadwaja (भरद्वाज) and a descendant from the clan of Angirasa (अंगिरस). He was a master of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons or Astras.
Mahabharata tells the story of Drona’s birth. Bharadwaja was attracted by the beauty of a beautiful apsara called Ghritachi on banks of River Ganga who. The sage was overcome by desire producing semen involuntarily out of the visual excitement. He captured this semen in a vessel called a Droṇa. Its believed that a kid sprang from the semen. Hence his name is Dronacharya. Drona spent his early days in poverty and studied at Bharadwaja Gurukul. He learnt Dharma and Weaponry such as archery, together with Drupada, who later became Panchala King. Dronacharya married Kripi, the sister of Kripa, who was the royal teacher of the Kurus in Hastinapura. Kripi and Droṇa had a son, Ashwatthama; born to be brave as Lord Shiva. Having meagre means to run family Drona approached Parasurama. He learnt the Parashurama was giving away his possessions to brahmins. However, by the time Drona reached him, Parasurama only had his knowledge of weapons left to give away. He offered Droṇa the weapons as well as the knowledge of their usage. That’s how Droṇa achieved the greatest weapons in his possession. Again for the sake of his wife and son, Droṇa had to struggle. He decided to go to Drupada his childhood friend and classmate. Drupada during their days at Bharadwaja promised to help Drona anytime he required. However, King Drupada, humiliated Droṇa saying a King and a poor Brahmin can’t be friends. Drona decided to resort to teaching and started roaming for worthy opportunity. While at Hastinapur, he came across the Kuru princes playing some game. With his amazing abilities at Mantra and Archery he solved some of their issue. The princes got mesmerized and informed Bhishma about it. Bhishma realized that this was Drona, and requested him to be the teacher of the Kuru princes for advanced weaponry.

KAURAVAS (101 CHILDREN OF DHRITARASTHRA & GANDHARI)

Duhsala (Sister) , Duryodhana , Dushasana , Vikarna (The good natured one) , Jalagandha , Sama , Saha , Vindha , Anuvindha , Durmukha , Chitrasena , Durdarsha , Durmarsha , Dussaha , Durmada , Dussalan , Dushkarna , Durdhara , karna , Durmarshana , Durvishaha , Durvimochana , Dushpradharsha , Durjaya , Jaitra , Bhurivala , Ravi , Jayatsena , Sujata , Srutavan , Srutanta , Jayat , Chitra , Upachitra , Charuchitra , Chitraksha , Sarasana , Chitrayudha , Chitravarman , Suvarma , Sudarsana , Dhanurgraha , Vivitsu , Subaahu , Nanda , Upananda , Kratha , Vatavega , Nishagin , Kavashin , Paasi , Vikata , Soma , Suvarchasas , Dhanurdhara , Ayobaahu , Mahabaahu , Chithraamga , Chithrakundala , Bheemaratha , Bheemavega , Bheemabela , Ugraayudha , Kundhaadhara , Vrindaaraka , Dridhavarma , Dridhakshathra , Dridhasandha , Jaraasandha , Sathyasandha , Sadaasuvaak , Ugrasravas , Ugrasena , Senaany , Aparaajitha , Kundhasaai , Dridhahastha , Suhastha , Suvarcha , Aadithyakethu , Ugrasaai , Kavachy , Kradhana , Kundhy , Bheemavikra , Alolupa , Abhaya , Dhridhakarmaavu , Dhridharathaasraya , Anaadhrushya , Kundhabhedy , Viraavy , Chithrakundala , Pradhama , Amapramaadhy , Deerkharoma , Suveeryavaan , Dheerkhabaahu , Kaanchanadhwaja , Kundhaasy , Virajas

SHAKUNTALA (शकुंतला)

Shakuntala was daughter of Sage Vishwamitra and Menaka (Apsara, emerging out of Samudra Manthana, churning of the ocean).

Vishwamitra was observing penance which was so powerful that it started shaking the heavens. Lord Indra sent Menaka, an Apsara to break his meditation. Menaka was a beautiful and witty, she was successful in breaking Vishwamitra’s meditation but also fell in love with him. Their union produced a daughter. Vishwamitra after realizing that his meditation was broken, left the place. The daughter was left in the Jungle and was protected by Shakunta birds. Sage Kanva found the girl. He picked her up and brought her up as his own daughter. He named her Shakuntala which meant one protected by the Shakunta birds.

Shakuntala grew up at the Kanva Ashrama and later fell in love with King Dushyanta. Their son is known as Bharata, after whom India is also known as Bharata.

JATAYU AND SAMPATI (जटायु and संपाती)

Jatayu and Sampati were celestial birds, sons of Aruna. Sampati was a demi God.
It is said that they had tremendous power in their wings. Both of them once decided to compete and check who goes closer to the Sun. Jatayu  went too close, Sampati covered him to save him from burning but got his own wings burnt due to the extreme heat of the Sun. He fell down closer to the ocean and stayed their. He helped Hanumana and the Monkey army, which was on the quest for Seeta.
While Ravana was abducting Seeta, Jatayu hindered him but he was badly bruised by Ravana. He died after narrating the story of abduction to Rama. Rama performed his funeral rites.