Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Deivathin Kural Series - 36

1.These e-mails are translations of talks given by the erstwhile Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over more than sixty years, published by Vanady Padippagam, T.Nagar, Chennai, India, in ten volumes, in the Tamil language. The english version is likely to be available very soon. These e-mails are simply an effort on the part of the sender, to share some of his bliss, as it is said, 'Yam perra peru peruga ivvaiyagam'.

2. To-day's e-mail is the translation of what is given in pages 177 to 185, in volume I, under the heading, 'Ingu Mattum Iruppanen' ie.,'Why Should It Be Only Here'. (Man, wherever mentioned herein, also includes Woman, unless otherwise mentioned.)
3. The question arises as follows:- "Are there no other countries, with their own Religions? In those Religions, they have not allotted work based on heredity and created so many castes. Why should we be the only one to be doing so?" Even in countries, where such divition of people in to castes has not been done, there are people involved in various duties such as; looking after scriptures; waging wars; looking after agriculture, trade and commerce; and so on. I will ask a counter question. Even if we were to look at this dispassionately, can this country's awe inspiring culture and civilization be ever matched? In other countries, great civilizations have sprung up in the past. But, none of them have shown the longivity, that our's has, for so many thousands of years. I am not trying to boast. From the time of Alexander the Great, even when we have touched the bottom line as of now, foreigners say, 'Indian Civilization! Oh! What a great one, it has always been!'. What is the reason for this?
4. There have been great Mahatmas, Gnanis, Devotees, Saints, Philanthrophists, Sacrificers, etc, in other countries too. By whatever calcultions still, for many thousands of generations, there has been a continuous stream of Great Philosophers, Sadhus, Gnanis, etc., here, that cannot be matched ever, anywhere else. Even if we total-up all the Greats of the world and compare with ours, the tally will still be in our favour. I am not saying that this is a country of Saints. I do not have to say that either. It is the outsiders, that are holding this country's reputation high. They virtually dance this country's praise, by wondering for anybody ready to hear, "Oh! What great philosophy! What great concepts!", and feel proud of paying encomiums of praise, to it's Religion and Saints.
5. Art, Sculpture, Music, Literature, Mathematics, Astrology, and so on, in all these fields and more, the whole world is full of praise, to the high pinnacles of glory, achieved by Indian Thinkers. The world praises sky high, works such as, Upanishads, Baghawat Gita, Ramayana, Sakuntalam, etc,. The books in Tamil, Thevaram, Divya Prabhandam, are held the foremost in Devotional literature. Thirukkural evokes heartfelt admiration that, there can be no other book of comparable, clarity and bravity; on practical behavioural exactness. What Temples, what architecture, what inspiring spires, what beautiful, devine statues and idols; what wonderful carnatic classical music; what dance forms, Baratha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Odissey! Oh God! Foreigners have not words enough to praise, things beyond praise! On their own, leaving their households, they come here, to know, to learn, to find a meaning for Life. The Britishers who enslaved us and keept us under control by the policy of divide and rule; have open admiration for our culture and civilization that, they have translated all our Sastras, into English.
6. What was the speciality of this culture, civilization and society? What was peculiar about our society, not existing elsewhere? The answer is Varna Asrama Dharma! This Varna Ashrama Dharma, which is considered by its critics, as the cause for all the ills of our society; is actually the reason why, this country is the foremost in Philosophy, people's attitude and behaviour, arts and crafts, and knowledge. Unless there is stability in the society, with the consequent environment of peacefulness of mind and life, there cannot be, cultural wealth and tradition. There could not have been an abundance of artistic talent. We can affirm with confidence that, in other countries, those religions could neither create such an environment, nor did they pay attention to sociological foundation. There were general directions, such as, 'dont' steal, dont' do prostitution, be truthful, and so on'. But there have never been comprehensive rules, for the society as a whole. The priests in churches and the bikkus in viharas, had their codes of conduct. Yes. But that is about all. I feel that, they did not pay attention to the need for discipline, in the various strata of society.
7. So what happened? Despite having some development in various fields, 'competition and one-up-manship', have always been there. There was never the clarity that, 'this is my job, and so, let me do this as a duty, to the best of my ability'. Instead everyone went for any and every job. Here you were born into a job. You didn't think of aspirations, or livelyhood or bother about competition. There was a carefree and intense involvement, in the work. There was unquestionable mutual amiability and peace. Competition can lead to better performance, but it can lead to cut-throatism too. Competition can never lead to the sort of excellence in achievement that can derive only out of, total concentration in the job at hand, uncaring for appreciation or criticism. Because of this, this country has been the spring of excellence in various fields. The superior quality of life, led to evolving of superior human beings of devine levels, who automatically set very high standards to emulate. In other countries, because of the lack of stability, they remained at the level of competition only.
8. If we were to believe the Social Reformer's view that, the majority of the populace was kept under strict control under Varna Dharma, we should have had many social revolutions. But this word itself is unheard of in this country. Only after reading about the French, American and Russian revolutions, in the history books, people of this country could have become aware of the fact that a whole population of a country, could be involved in such mutual conflict. When we read the history further, we note that, revolutions have a tendency to be preceded and followed by revolutions. None of them achieved anything permanently. That means that dissatisfaction, disaffection and disgruntlement, have been the peoples lot, in those countries. To-day's condition in the world is still worse. Everywhere there is indiscipline, chaos, wars, conflicts. Daily a government is toppled. Only in countries, such as USSR, where there is communism or autocracy, where the government itself is ruling over the population, with an iron hand, there seems to be no revolution.
9. Even in Russia, I am told, that it is like a smoldering volcano, which may go off any day. Once in a while, a writer or thinker, escapes at personal risk to life and talk about the extreme brutal and inhuman conditions existing there. (Ref books by Alexander Solzenytsin, such as Gulag Archipilago.) There is no satisfaction to people there either. India has never been under such rule. Slaves could not have produced the Art and Culture of India. Neither have we ever cried or complained to people of other nations. Unless there was freedom of thought and action under peaceful conditions, such an abundance of art, literature, craft and most importantly philosophy, could not have evolved in India. To say that the majority was controlled by the whims and fancies of priest-craft through superstition, is a blatant untruth.
10. You could say that possibly about some of the witch doctors of tribes in the deep forests of South Africa, where the priest also had judicial and
executive powers. It was not so in India. All castes here had knowledge, devotion to God and were well advanced in spiritual matters. Great saints evolved out of every caste. If we read the puranas, Peria Puranam and Baktha Vijayam, we will note that, saint-hood was not the personal prerogative of Brahmins. Kings such as Chandra Gupta Maurya and Shivaji, Ministers such as Sekkizhar, majority of Nayanmars and Azhvars, were from the fourth Varna. Here the priest-craft did not have the judicial or executive powers. In fact, the so called priest-craft, ie., the Brahmin was supposed to be the most humble and meek. If anything goes wrong, he is required to punish himself, as per the Sastras. When there was untouchability in USA, if the Negro happened to touch a White, the Negro had to undergo punishment. But here, if the un-touchable came in contact with the brahmin, this brahmin was required to take a bath and do some rituals of repentance. The point I want to make here, is that, even when un-touchability was widely prevalent, it was mostly mutually accepted and not forced by fear, or law or under compulsion. The biggest and longest civilised society could not have been held under duress or duplicity. In reality since all people found mutual practical benefit, the system was not objectionable and hence did not lead to an upheaval.
11. Now let us ignore the fact that, the society progressed to awesome heights of glory, in all walks of life, under Varna Dharma, without a revolution or social upheaval. Breaking through this old arrangement of Varna Dharma, ever since, we started the so called process of progress and advancement, in this country. If we take stock of the state of affairs, we note that, there is more indiscipline, lies, scams, bribery, nepotism, favouritism, prostitution and so on, after we started the process of doing away with Varna Dharma. Everywhere there is dissatisfaction, complaints, accusations, strike, demonstrations, hartal, quelling of riots by police and curfew. In many areas, our performance leaves much to be desired. From a state of being great, in the world opinion, we are being looked down upon. If a small country like Pakistan could go to war with us, what does it mean? It is an indication of the erotion of the nation's atma-balam or self-power.
12. Why has it dwindled? What have we done or undone to deserve this weakness? What has nourished us and enabled the growth of our culture for thousands of years? What have we given up, that to-day we are ashamed of calling ourself heirs to that glorious past? A deep analysis will reveal that, till the Varna Dharma, (not available to any other nation,) was fully ingrained in our culture, our civilization was like a solid rock invoking the awesome admiration of the world; and ever since it's erotion, we are seeing the downward trend.
13. For the question, 'why should the Varna Dharma be here?', the answer is, 'let at least this nation and it's culture be left uninterfered, being capable and suitable for, Self-analysis (ie., atma chintanai), for devine experience, for arts, for noble thoughts and lofty idealism'. For the question, 'why should it be here only?', the answer is, 'so that it is atleast here'.
14. The alternative is only competition-- immediately followed by jealousy, dissatisfaction, social conflicts- only. Everyone will only aspire for higher and higher education and goody-goody jobs only. But everybody cannot get that. That has to result in, hatred, differences and disparities of means and ends. We can see even now, that when unemployment amongst educated youth is on the increase, there is a call to control admission in to colleges. Everyone cannot be fitted for all jobs. Some control has to be there. When the control was in Varna Dharma, we left the control in nature and thereby in God. We believed in trditional continuity of work, heriditorily entrusted. There was intrinsic loyalty and ingrained capability and efficiency. When money is the only driving force, perfection in work is not aimed at. Marketing becomes more important than quality of work.
15. There can be no civilization, without satisfaction of needs for all. The Varna Dharmam was and is a unique arrangement which provided satisfaction to all parts of the society and hence should not be found fault with. I do not know if it can be brought back in its entirety. Whether we try to bring it back, or give it up as impossible; as a final point, I have to say that; it was an arrangement that benifitted all the classes of the society, thereby all the people of this country, and through them ennobled the quality of life in the world; for thousands of years. The least we can do is not to redicule it, or look down upon it, or find fault with it, or be ashamed of it. To do so is tantamount to committing a sin.