Monday, 7 October 2019

Some Glimpse of Ancient Indian Thought and Practices

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Some Glimpse of Ancient Indian Thought and Practices









[Since times immemorial India has always occupied a place of honour and glory in the comity of nations. The rich culture of this great country has been illumined by the great Vedas and the Puranas, the Gita, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and rich thoughts that these and thousands of other Indian books of yore are studded with. Some selected snippets, episodes and gems of thought representing the ethos and philosophy of this great land are being given here as food for thought.]

I
In a fight between the demons and the gods once, the demons were having an upper hand. In desperation and anxiety, the gods went to Lord Vishnu to find out as to how they could vanquish the demons. The Lord advised them to get a mighty sword (a thunderbolt, Vajarpatt) prepared from the bones of some great sage. Accordingly, the gods approached the sage Dadhichi, a great saint. Dadhichi took no time in laying down his life so that his bones could be made into an invincible weapon (amoghastra). This victory of the good over evil is the rarest of the rare examples of great renunciation and sacrifice that this culture teaches. Who can forget the supreme sacrifice of the young sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh? They chose to be bricked alive for the sake of
their faith and the canons of justice and true liberty. Our philosophy and thought teach us to renounce, to sacrifice, to give away in charity in the real spirit of detachment. ‘Idam Naa mam’ (This does not belong to me) is the real spirit behind the yajnas we are called upon to perform frequently in our homes. Should corruption, greed and lust for easy money have any place in a country rich with such noble and lofty traditions?

II
The elder ones of this country, as per tradition coming down from thousands of years to this day, consider it a divine and blessed duty to feed the birds flying in the sky, the animals moving about on this earth and the insects living in small holes inside the earth. This noble tradition is an ocular proof of the fact that the people of this country believe in the unity of life, anywhere and everywhere. ‘Vasudhev Kutumbukam’, the entire Universe is one family, is the basic thought that works here and in the various such ceremonies like the tradition of ‘langar’ in the holy temples and Gurudwaras and the message of the holy Gurus contained in the directive : ‘Eat only after you have shared your meal with others. (Wand chhako).’ This idea of distribution applies not to food only; it extends well up to the entire resources and funds that are available to man. Do we still need to be taught to love the entire mankind as our kith and kin and respect the sanctity of life through total non-violence?

III
Once, the story goes, king Janaka of Maithil (present Bihar) called a meeting of the scholars to discuss some ticklish issue based on high philosophic thought. A well-known sage named Ashtavakara (so called because of his deformed body) was also invited to this meeting. As Ashtavakara entered the portals of the palace hall and walked up the passage, some scholars already present there burst into a derisive laughter. How could such a
deformed and misshapen person discuss high philosophy, they felt. Ashtavakara thundered back to the King.” O King! I feel ashamed of being invited to this assembly of skinners (a person who deals in animal skins; charamkar). It is only a skinner who measures intelligence or status of a person from his skin or physical looks or the colour and shape of his skin or body.” This put the entire assembly to shame and brought them to their knees to beg pardon of this great saint. Colour of the skin or shape of the body has never been a measure of intelligence or status in this country. Lord Rama’s eating of the tasted berries from a Bheel woman (a Shudr√° woman who used to sprinkle water on the earth with the help of a leather bag) is a sufficient proof of the fact that there was never any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or profession of a person in ancient India.
One is here also reminded of what the enlightened sage, Swami Vivekananda said to a lady in America who laughed at his ‘simple’ dress : “Madam, in your country, it is the tailor who makes a man; in my country it is the intrinsic worth and character of a person that make him or her great.” Isn’t it unwise to support, tacitly or otherwise, any talk of such discrimination on such frivolous bases today?

IV
The history of this great land is full of examples where no auspicious function was considered to be held properly without the participation of women. So much so, that if no woman could somehow make it to the function, a statue of the woman was created to mark her auspicious presence*. This only proves that a woman in this great land was never looked upon as an object of lust or sex ; she was always considered a devi (goddess) , a Kanjak (a young, unmarried girl child fit to be worshipped), the mother of mankind, the ardhangini, the inseparable but equal wheel of the rath√° (chariot) of life. *At the occasion of the Setubandh (Rameshwaram bridge) Puja, a statue of Lord Rama’s ardhangini, Sita, was specially made for the auspicious occasion.
 This fitly explains Chhatrapati Shivaji’s bowing his head before a woman and respectfully restoring her dignity as a mother when some misguided soldiers of his victorious army presented her to Shivaji as a gift. This too explains that the great wars in both the sacred epics, the Ramayana & the Mahabharata, were fought for defending and upholding the honour of this matrishakti, the powerful motherhood. Does this not put those to shame who think of resorting to female foeticide or denying the female sex their rightful place in the affairs of the world?
[The author, Dr. D.V. Jindal is senior lecturer, PES (I), retired from SCD Govt. College Ludhiana. Having been a member of various academic bodies at various levels, he is presently a member of the External Faculty, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. A Ph.D. in Phonetics from Panjab University, Chandigarh, he is an author of several books on Language and Literature.]

Glossary:
desperation (noun) : a state of having no hope In desperation, she called her father and asked for his help.

anxiety (noun) : a state of feeling nervous Lack of sleep can cause anxiety.

vanquish (verb) : to defeat completely The demons were vanquished by the gods.

invincible (adj) : too strong to be defeated The cricket team of Australia seemed invincible.

renunciation (noun) : the act of giving up Gandhiji appealed to the people for the renunciation of violence. Dadhichi’s sacrifice was a noble example of renunciation.

canons (noun) : principles The canons of great men are unshaken. He stuck to the canons of justice and morality till his last breath.

lofty (adj) : very high and impressive She was always praised for her lofty principles.
ocular (adj) : connected with the eyes The accident injured his ocular muscles. He was satisfied only after he had an ocular proof.

sanctity (noun) : the state of being holy The sage lived a life of sanctity. Sanctity of religious places should be maintained at all costs.

ticklish (adj) : difficult to deal with, a touchy subject My throat is irritated by a dry ticklish cough. I found it difficult to solve that ticklish problem.


derisive (adj) : unkind and showing that something is ridiculous She gave a short, derisive laugh at his dress sense.

intrinsic (adj) : a part of the real nature of something Some small shops are intrinsic to the town’s character.

Intrinsic worth is more important than professed qualifications.

tacitly (adv) : suggested indirectly The plan received a tacit disapproval. The boss tacitly supported the move to get his man elected.

frivolous (adj) : silly or absurd Do not waste your time in frivolous pastimes.







1. Gods were losing in a fight against demons. That caused desperation to the gods.
2. They went to Lord Vishnu in desperation.
3. He advised them to make a powerful sword.
4. He sacrificed his life to defeat demons.
5. The real spirit behind yajnas is ‘This does not belong to me’.
6. It proves Indians believe in the unity of life in all forms.
7. They laughed at his misshapen body.
8. He was very angry.
9. He said character of a man makes him great not his clothes.
10. The status of women was very good in ancient India. She was worshipped as a goddess.
11. He bowed his head to restore the respect of the woman.
12. They were fought to protect the respect of women.
13. This shows there was never any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and profession.



















The elder ones of this country as per tradition coming down from thousands of years to this day, consider it a divine and blessed duty to feed the birds flying in the sky





This idea of distribution applies not to food only, it extends well up to the entire resources and funds that are available to man.








This put the entire assembly to shame and brought them to their knees to beg pardon of this great saint. Colour of the skin or shape of the body has never been a measure of intelligence or status in this country.