Mar 26, 2013

Fatehnamah - A Tale of two Wills

If the legitimate monopoly on violence is a definition of the state, then what is its ethical basis? Weber defined it like that in his essay 'Politics as a Vocation'. Similarly, what of corporate ethics and social responsibility? Are there any objective methods to measure Will and Intention? That would be a positive key to a Dharmaarthic paradigm. Negative keys would be to use checks and balances, but even those are not immune to insidious subversion.

A friend said: Similarly, corporations value only economic parameters, attempts to measure things such as social responsibility and environmental aspects notwithstanding. It is the society and the state that need to value contributions beyond economic indicators. Especially one of service.

The idea of the servant leader is already popular in corporate management styles. In public sector and non-profit management theory it is even more popular and the devotion to the 'public good' (rather than the bottom line) is a prominent subject. But even here, there is debate about what exactly is a 'public good', and whether that is a constant.

One can serve only according to one's innate proclivities. Service can be thought of separately from conventional stereotypes. So in management psychology, sometimes corporate trustees will choose a CEO who is of a personality type that is motivated by growth, sometimes by a type that is motivated by maintenance of current trajectory, and sometimes by a type that is motivated by dissolving an entity for maximum gain to the trustees (while disposing off the employees in the best possible way)!

The most ethical culture in an individual, society or ideology (theistic or otherwise) comes from an Enhancement drive, where there is no perceived scarcity and want in the physical and metaphysical reality taken together as a whole. But in a mentality driven primarily by the senses, a harsh social environment or a certain kind of cult mindset, a Dominance-Slave drive is prevalent in all aspects. In such a case, humility or humiliation are the only choices. 'Lower' than that is a mentality of Voidism, which provides security by nullification or invalidation of a potential rival's significance, either physically or metaphysically.

But all three are part of Dharma, no doubt. In its struggle with Adharma, it is possible that Dharma can make any such proposal based on a different equation of hard and soft power - but always tending in the direction of an Enhancement Drive where it finds its balance.

Guru Gobind Singh ji is a sterling example of someone who created something in order to dissolve the current political structure. His mission was destruction, he wrote in praise of Chandi Durga, and he created the Khalsa - as a specific application and mission of the already existing Akali Dal. He annointed them and then asked to be annointed by them. In executing his mission, he used all three drives - nullifying, domineering, and enhancement of all elements of existing society - to accomplish his purpose, as can be seen in the Fatehnama (below). In another epistle, Zafarnamah, to Aurangzeb, he writes:


چه ها شد که چون بچگان کشته چار
که باقی بماند است پیچیده مار

che ha shod keh chon bachegaan koshteh chaar
keh baaqi bemaand ast peycheedeh maar
"What happened that you have killed four children (my sons, the sahibzadas)? For the coiled snake (in the form of my Khalsa) still remains..."
My friend adds: The only way for corporation to play a role, would be if their charter is amended to one of making profit to add other things but am not clear, what is a corporation to do in these areas, except as an organizing medium for communities. Laws will have to be amended to measure and check these other obligations apart from profit.

Corporate social responsibility needs to be fleshed out more, perhaps. They are an organizing principle in society, along with religious organizations and other social and political interest groups.

But laws can burden corporations that need to be agile and nimble in the current globalized environment - where the laws in your country are not applicable in another country and may hand them the comparative advantage if it puts too great a burden on your own corporations.

So it is public education plus dharmic sansthas that will have to inject ethics and a sense of social responsibility into the mainstream, and that lifeblood will find its way into aarthic corporations, etc. The key here is the corporatization of dharmic education (as dharmic sansthas) to some extent. This should not lead to "churchianity" of an Indic variety, given the depth of cultural context. But rather the sansthas would act as "portals" to the larger tradition, where participants are given the first rudiments in terms of ideas and also sanskaaras, that equip them to explore further and reach deeper into the civilizational and spiritual resources as needed.

Traditionally, some examples have been used to measure sanity. Certain simple spiritual practices can be good measures of personal sanity. The all-pervasive "japa" tradition in India (and abroad) is one such. The indicators expressed by a person sitting for about 2.75 to 3 hours of japa, and his ability to simply deal in separate and new units of time, without time-lag, and in the present moment, is a simple and significant measure of sanity. The ability to "do nothing" (from a material perspective) is an indicator of the ability to "do sanely" on a given responsibility, rather than be driven by a mind that's out of control. We want to identify the innate inclinations of the person, rather than the rather short-term compulsive inclinations of his mind. The compulsions and repressions of the subconscious mind (which can be manipulated by others) are not the same as the natural shamo-dama abilities of varNa, which is enacted on self-determinism or pan-determinism.

Below are two expressions of two wills - the Fatehnamah of Guru Gobind Singh, and the last will and testament of Aurangzeb. The Guru acts from self-realization, knowledge of Dharma, and a varnic ability for shamo-dama to affect dissolution in this case. The emperor acts from blindness and false spiritual aspiration, no discrimination of Dharma, and under the manipulation of an entrenched Islamist priesthood and Irani-Turani-Arab aristocracy.

It is interesting that the Ten Gurus of Sikhism spanned an epoch of India's recent history that coincided with the Moghal dynasty. Guru Nanak was imprisoned by the invader Babur, the first Moghal. And Guru Gobind Singh faced off with Aurangzeb, who died rather pathetically shortly thereafter. The Last Guru was called Sacha Patshah (The True Emperor) by Indians at that time, while Aurangzeb isn't.

It is just 24 verses, the Guru boldly declares the facts of time, and is still advising and admonishing Aurangzeb. Its remarkable that, having just escaped against overwhelming odds from a siege and assassination attempt, the Guru was able to write - in verse no less! - to his persecutor and the murderer of his father and sons, with words of wisdom and warning. He was still willing to meet with the old Moghal and accept his apologies. There can be no doubt who is Guru here.


به نام خداوند تیغ و تبر
خداوند تیر و سنان سپر


be naam e khodaavand e tegh o tabar / khodaavand e teer o sanaan o separ!
1. In the Name of the Lord of the sword and shield! Lord of arrow, battleaxe and spear!
خداوند مردان جنگ آزما

خداوند اسپان پا در هوا


khodaavand e mardaan e jang-aazmaa / khodaavand e aspaan paa dar havaa!
2. Lord of those men that try the test of battle! Lord of their horses that fly through the air!
همان کو ترا پادشاهی بداد

بما دولت دین پناهی بداد


hamaan koo toraa paadshaahi bedaad / bemaa dowlat e deen-panaahi bedaad!
3. The same Lord that granted you a material kingdom, To me He entrusted the protection of the Dharma.
ترا ترک تازی با مکر و ریا

مرا چاره سازی با صدق و صفا


toraa Tork-Taazi ba makr o riyaa / maraa chaareh-saazi ba sedq o safaa!
4. Whereas you engaged in plunder by deceit and hypocrisy, To me was left the responsibility of creating the Way of truth and purity! 
[Note: The word Tork-Taazi, which literally means "Turk-Arab" in Farsi, but is a term used to mean plunder and vandalism, pillage and rape in that language.]


نه زیبد ترا نام اورنگزیب

ز اورنگزیبان نه یابد فریب


na zeebad toraa naam e Aurangzeb / ze aurangzeebaan na yaabad fareeb!
5. The name "Aurangzeb" does not befit you, Since one doesn't find fraud in that which is supposed to bring "honor to the throne"!
تسبیحات از شجه و رشته بیش

کزان دانه سازی وزان دام خویش


tasbeehat az shojeh o reshteye beesh / kazaan daaneh saazi vazaan daam e kheesh!
6. Your rosary is nothing more than tangled beads and thread, With every movement of your beads you only expand your snare of entanglements!
[Note: Here the Guru is referring to the test of sanity of will and purpose. It is an inferred fact that Aurangzeb would have not been able to experience any peace and bliss in his tasbeeh (japa), even if he carried one wherever he went. He may have clung to it for a sense of security, but there was no immediate experience of bliss in it, nor any clarity and ability gained from it. For Aurangzeb, the Holy Name was a co-dependency. For the Guru, it was a relationship based on pan-determinism.

A dharmaarthic system should foster pan-determinism between individual contributors, not co-dependency on or between elites and subjects.]

تو خاک پدر را با کردار زشت

با خون برادر بدادی سرشت


to khaak e pedar ra ba kerdaar e zesht / ba khoon e baraadar bedaadi seresht!
7. Your nature and disposition is from your grisly deeds, Moulded by the dust of your father and the blood of your brothers.
وزان خانه خام کردی بنا

برای در دولت خویش را


vazaan khaaneye khaam kardi banaa / baraaye dar e dowlat e kheesh ra!
8. And from that (by imprisoning your father and murdering your brothers) you have laid a weak foundation for your kingdom.
من اکنون با افضال پرش اکال

کنم ز آب آهن چنان برشگال


man aknoon ba afzaal e Purush e Akaal / konam ze aab e aahan chonaan barshgaal
9. "Now by the grace of the Eternal Oversoul (Akaal Purush), I have made the water of steel (Amrit for my warriors) which will fall upon you like a torrent."
که هرگز از آن چاردیوار شوم

نشانی نماند بر این پاک بوم


ke hargiz az aan chaardeevaar e shoom / neshaani namaanad bar een paak boom!
10. And with this torrent your sinister castle will vanish from this holy land without a trace!
ز کوه دکن تشنه کام آمدی

ز میوار هم تلخ جام آمدی


ze kooh e dakkan teshneh-kaam aamadi / ze mewaar ham talkh e jaam aamadi
11. You came thirsty (defeated) from the mountains of Deccan; the Rajputs of Mewar have also made you drink the bitter cup (of defeat).
[Note: Throughout the ten-generation span of the Gurus, they took a pan-Indic view in terms of political and social mobilization, and even the panj-piare came from all parts and strata of society. In ideological and spiritual terms, they took a global view, as Guru Nanak did.]


بر این سو چون اکنون نگاهت رود

که آن تلخی و تشنگی ات رود


bar een soo chon aknoon negaahat ravad / ke aan talkhi o teshnegee at ravad
12. Now you are casting your sight towards this side (the Punjab). Here also your thirst will remain unquenched.
چنان آتش زیر نعلت نهم

ز پنجاب آبت نه خوردن دهم


chonaan aatash e zeer n'al at naham / ze panjaab aabat na khordan daham
13. I will put fire under your feet when you come to the Punjab and I will not let you even drink water here.
چه شد گر شغال با مکر و ریا

همین کشت دو بچه شیر را ؟


che shod gar shaghaal ba makr o riyaa / hameen kosht do bacheye sher ra?

14. What is so great if a jackal kills two cubs of a tiger by deceit and cunning?

چون شیر ژیان زنده ماند همی

ز تو انتقام ستاند همی


chon sher e zhiyaan zendeh maanad hamee / ze to enteqaam setaanad hamee!
15. Since that formidable tiger is still alive, he will definitely extract revenge on you!
نه دیگر گرایم با نام خدا ات

که دیدم خدا و کلام خدا ات


na deegar garaayam ba naam e khodaat / ke deedam khodaa va kalaam e khodaat!
16. I no longer trust you or your 'God' since I have now seen your 'God' as well as his Word.
با سوگند تو اعتبار نه ماند

مرا جز با شمشیر کار نه ماند


ba saugand e to e'tebaar na maanad / maraa joz ba shamsheer kaar na maanad
17. I do not trust your oaths any more and now there is no other way for me except to take up the sword.
توی گرگ باران کشیده اگر

نهم نیز شیر ظ دام بدر


tuye gorg e baaraan kesheedeh agar / naham neez sher ze daam bedar
18. If you are an old fox, I, too, will keep my tigers out of your snare.
اگر باز گفت و شنیدت با ماست

نمایم ترا جاده پاک و راست


agar baaz goft o shoneedat ba maast / namaayam toraa jaadeye paak o raast
19. If you come to me for detailed and frank talks, I shall show you the path of purity and truthfulness.
به میدان دو لشکر صف آرایی شوند

ز دوری به هم آشکارا شوند


be maidaan do lashkar saf-araee shavand / ze doori be ham aashkaaraa shavand
20. Let the forces from both sides array in the battlefield at such a distance that they are visible to each other.
میان هر دو ماند دو فرسنگ راه

جون آراسته گردد این رزمگاه


miyaan e har do maanad do farsang e raah / chon aaraasteh gardad een razm-gaah
21. The battle field should be arranged decoratively in such a manner that both the forces should be separated by a reasonable distance (of two furlongs).
از آن پس در آن ارصه کارزار

من آیم به نزد تو با دو سوار


az aan pas dar aan arseye kaarzaar / man aayam be nazd e to ba do savaar
22. Then I will advance in the battle field for combat with your forces along with two of my riders.
تو از ناز و نعمت ثمر خورده

ز جنگی جوانان نه بر خورده


to az naaz o ne'mat samar khordeh / ze jangi javaanaan na bar khordeh
23. So far you have been enjoying the fruits of a cosy and comfortable life but haven't yet collided with fierce warriors (in the battle field).
به میدان بیا خود با تیغ و تبر

مکن خلق خلاق زیر و زبر


be maidaan biyaa khod ba tegh o tabar / makon khalq e khalaaq zir o zebar
24. Now come into the battle field with your weapons and stop tormenting the people who are the creation of the Lord.
According to internal Moghal reports, Aurangzeb was old and senile by this time. He had been a fratricidal bigot who acted on the encouragement of a jealous priesthood hardened by ethnic and theological differences. Apparently, he could not tell the difference between Dharma and Adharma, and so his sense of duty was imbued with this lack of ethical discrimination. He dies in the hope of redemption, and had even apologized and invited the Guru to come see him on his deathbed. Here is his last will and testament (link):
"Praise to be God and blessing on those servants [of Him] who have become sanctified and have given satisfaction [to Him]. I have some [instructions to leave as my] last will and testament: 
FIRST – on behalf of this sinner sunk in iniquity [i.e. myself] cover [with an offering of cloth and capital] the holy tomb of Hasan (on him be peace), because those who are drowned in the ocean of sin have no other protection except seeking refuge with that Portal of Mercy and Forgiveness.
SECOND – Four Rupees and two annas, out of the price of the caps sewn by me, are with Aia Bega, the mahaldar. Take the amount and spend it on the shroud of this helpness creature. Three hundred and five Rupees, from the wages of copying the Quran, are in my purse for personal expense. Distribute them to the faqirs on the day of my death. 
THIRD – Take the remaining necessaries [of my funeral] from the agent of Prince Alijah; as he is the nearest heir among my sons, and on him lies the responsibility for the lawful or unlawful [practices at my funeral]; this helpless person (i.e. Aurangzeb) is not answerable for them, because the dead are in the hands of the survivors. 
FOURTH – Bury this wanderer in the Valley of Deviation from the Right Path with his head bare, because every ruined sinner who is conducted bare-headed before the Grand Emperor (i.e. God), is sure to be an object of mercy. 
FIFTH – Cover the top of the coffin on my bier with the coarse white cloth gazi. Avoid the spreading of a canopy and uncanonical innovations like [processions of] musicians and the celebration of the Prophet's Nativity (maulud) 
SIXTH – It is proper for the ruler of the kingdom (i.e. my heir) to treat kindly the helpless servants who in the train of this shameless creature [Aurangzeb] have been roving in the deserts and wilderness [of the Deccan]. Even if any manifest fault is committed by them, give them in return for it gracious forgiveness and benign overlooking [of the fault]. 
[SEVENTH, EIGHT, NINTH – His assessment of the Irani, Turani, and the Saiyid nobles and his advice how to treat them keeping in mind their qualities and weaknesses.] 
TENTH – As far as possible the ruler of a kingdom should not spare himself from moving about; he should avoid staying in one place, which outwardly gives him repose but in effect brings on a thousand calamities and troubles. 
ELEVENTH – Never trust your sons, nor treat them during your lifetime in an intimate manner, because, if the Emperor Shah Jahan had not treated Dara Shukoh in this manner, his affairs would not have come to such a sorry pass. Ever keep in view the saying, 'The words of a king are barren'. 
TWELFTH – The main pillar of government is to be well informed in the news of the kingdom. Negligence for a single moment becomes the cause of disgrace for long years. The escape of the wretch Shiva took place through [my] carelessness, and I have to labour hard [against the Marathas] to the end of my life, [as the result of it]. 
Twelve is blessed [among numbers]. I have concluded with twelve directions. (Verse).
"If you learn [the lesson], a kiss on your wisdom.
If you neglect it, then alas! alas!" 
Ahkam-i-Alamgir, (Eng. Tr. J.N. Sarkar, Text in Ir. Ms. 8b-10a).
There is another will of Aurangzeb in India Office Library MS.1344 p.49b (Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.V, 201). Its chief interest lies in the suggested method of partitioning the empire among his three surviving sons.
[End] 

Mar 20, 2013

Bruce Lee and Bhakti - 2

There is a broad consensus on the significance of Bhakti (laws of devotional exchange) across all schools of Indian thought and religion. Yet, there remains some sectarian bickering, in which ideological wranglers go to extremes of sham profundity or declarations of suicidal love in order to defend their doctrinal positions. Furthermore, there is sectarian competition between schools that take vows of devotion to different deity forms, and wars have been fought in centuries past. I admit I myself would have volunteered at one time.

Apart from its entertainment and drama value, this fractious mentality is not desirable at all, especially at this time in India's evolving polity, and the need for Hinduism to play a mature role in facilitating a transition to the next phase of development. Fortunately, there is plenty of material in Bharatiya Sanskriti that takes a process philosophy perspective and analyzes the levels of maturity of Bhakti.

There is the question of the primacy of Bhakti versus Jnaana (laws of Knowingness) as fundamental properties of Consciousness. At its most mature level, they are like water and vessel. See the previous post: Bruce Lee and Bhakti - 1. Other relative equations at different points can be correlated with the stages of maturity.

From the Narada Bhakti-sutras (2.28-30):
तस्य ज्ञानमेव साधनमित्येके । 
"Knowledge only is the means for developing devotion - this is one view." 
अन्योन्याश्रयत्वमित्येके । 
"Bhakti and knowledge are interdependent - this is another view." 
स्वयं फल-रूपेति ब्रह्म-कुमारः । 
"But the son of Brahma (the Creator) says that Bhakti is its own fruit."
For anyone in any philosophical school of politics, science, or religion, there is usually a progression of stages. That famous first scene from Enter The Dragon encapsulates it the way Oriental masters do:


1. Exhibitionism - of "objective" standards of purity, adherence to discipline, apparent blissfulness and freedom from doubt, etc. It can be useful as an exercise in immersion. But even in its useful sense, there is some...how to say it...hypocritical or ignorant drama. A serious joke: At an ashram, several brahmacharis (students) assemble to chant the Vedas at dawn - after waking up early, bathing and performing other personal chores. After the mantras have been chanted in congregation, they are all dispersing in a hurry to attend to other duties. But one stripling remained conspicuously seated peacefully, eyes closed, a picture of serenity and seriousness in the early light - performing supererogatory prayers. A couple of seniors standing behind were impressed. One said to the other: "See how centered and immersed he looks. The mantras have affected him deeply. He is doing more." To their surprise, the young fellow turns around and says, "You should see me on mornings when I shit, shave and shower before coming here."

In its most harmful manifestation, it is a fight to prove who is "purer" and close to whatever is being idolized. E.g. in Pakistan, after ethnically cleansing Hindus and Sikhs, the different sects of Islam are now attacking one another ideologically and physically because they consider the other sects not pure enough. They hope that once ideological purity and consolidation are achieved, some alleged prophecies have great conquests planned for them. The scary part is that if the prey is unaware, this sordid fantasy could actually play out. Beware Hindus - if you fail to predict, you will fail to protect. Timely intervention can save.

2. Mental masturbation - about "subjective" standards, paths, and purity. In its most useful sense, it helps refine one's motives after clarifying one's understanding of the laws of Nature. It can bring one in better communication with one's body, and make one a better observer. It brings balance to the 4 purushaarthas, and thereby a greater ability to learn by increasing one's pan-determinism. It can create the capacity for dealing with ideological ambiguity and difference. In this process, it is possible one may go down a rabbit hole, and while that can be fascinating and all, it could also just be a waste of time.

In its worst case it can become wishy-washy mental speculation about everything being relative, and a justification for succumbing to blind compulsions or repressions, driving one deeper into neuroses and even psychosis. When there is aarthic prosperity, it gives one the space to indulge (e.g. modern Western history). When there is aarthic attenuation without overt external intervention, it has its most harmful manifestation (e.g. history of the Middle East in modern times).

Counter-argument during aarthic normalcy or prosperity cannot save the day. Adharma, like Dharma, is supported by artha. Only aarthic attenuation can work here, wherein it will slide back to stage 1. Then an intervention and ideological change becomes possible. Alternatively, this stage may lead to burn-out. In that case, the individual or society becomes inoculated against spiritual aspirations and lives in apathy to it, finding inspiration in an atheistic mode of phenomenal and existential reality. E.g. post WW-2 European culture. This takes time to revive and must pass through fear and then fighting again on its way up.

3. Stable, connected control and 'havingness' - as a general state of a purpose-driven mind, a stable memory, in affinity with its present-time environment and taking responsibility for it. This is the optima.

Thus, a statement of 'Truth' at any point of time has been described as a Finger pointing to the branch of the Tree (of Knowledge) that is pointing to the Moon in its current astrological position.

Any consideration about life in its complete sense is 'astrological' - i.e., as applied to Thought and Emotion. (I am only beginning to learn something about Vedic Hora shastra, and so far I understand a distinction between the astrology of Parashara versus Jaimini's application). The Latin word "consider" is itself an astrological term.

[Etymology of Consider: 1350–1400; Middle English consideren  (< Anglo-French ) < Latin consīderāre  con- + sīder-  (stem of sīdus ) star-group, sky (see sidereal) + -āre  infinitive suffix.]

Therefore, a statement of Truth may be understood in that perspective, as a concept that invokes a set of perceptics which ought to point to a branch from the multifarious Tree of knowledge that, in turn, indicates the Moon.

The Bhagavad Gita also talks of this Tree (15.1). This applies to any and all philosophies - Indic or non-Indic. This Tree is universal. India has simply been a changing microcosm of it through time, and therefore Hinduism probably understands it best.

Politically, it follows that all bona fide sectarian cultures must point to the unified Tree of supra-subjective knowledge. The ideological sources of any religious or ideological sect can be objectively evaluated for this complete structure and continuity with Knowledge. If it fails in this due to a fixation on one point in history, one personality, or one obsession with an ideal, then its destruction is written in the stars and the politics of Dharma must aid this process. Any political party that seeks to prevent their destruction is doing so at the cost of the general sanity of the environment.

Bruce Lee and Bhakti - 1

Modern Indian religion, philosophy and politics is overwhelmingly influenced by the concept and practice of Bhakti - devotion to God and service to the Earth. This includes all schools of Hinduism (even agnostic schools admit that Bhakti is a catalyst), Sikhism, many major Buddhist schools, etc. Historically it has been a controversial concept, with different schools taking guarded positions. That's understandable, because ignorant 'religious' devotions can be toxic to spiritual and civilizational life. This is candidly admitted by the core texts of Bhakti themselves - like a statutory warning on the bottle's label. Non-Indian religions (Christianity, Islam and other religious cultures from the Middle East) are also mainly devotional cults around an idolized personality, real or imagined. Their history makes a compelling case for some of the above concerns, sometimes for the better but usually for the worse.

Politically and socially, a lot of problems arise due to ignorant devotion - whether it is to some theistic ideal or non-theistic ideology (such as Communism). In India, we have the benefit of a vast literature that has analyzed and described the process. Today we fail to benefit from this treasure because it is locked up in the Sanskrit language, which has been deliberately crushed by ruling powers for the past few centuries, and continues to be neglected. Here's a small sample of how Bhakti is discussed, and how misleading its stereotypes can be.

From the Narada Bhakti-sutras (2.25-27):
स तु कर्म-ज्ञान-योगेभ्योSप्यधिकतर । 
"Bhakti (laws of devotional exchange), on the other hand, is far superior to Karma (laws of action and Reaction), Jnaana (laws of philosophical speculation and Knowledge), and Yoga (laws of applied techniques for connecting and transacting with the unknown aspect of Knowledge of the Self)." 
फल-रूपत्वात् । 
"After all, Bhakti is the fruit of all endeavor (including the others mentioned above)." 
ईश्वरस्यापि अभिमानि-द्वेषित्वात् दैन्य-प्रियत्वाच्च । 
"Furthermore, the Lord dislikes the Self-directed ('proud') but is pleased with the humble." 
The relationship between Bhakti and Knowledge in Veda and Vedanta is very interesting. Without being facetious, here's a Bruce Lee interview that says it in a nutshell. Bruce Lee said he was influenced by Vedanta, particularly by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Taoism also shares a lot in common with this view:


When I first heard this 3-minute clip, I was surprised how part of it was almost verbatim with a gloss by Vadiraja Tirtha on a commentary by Jayatirtha (both savants of the Dvaita a school of Vedanta). Shri Vadiraja was defining "Devotion replete with Knowledge" (ज्ञानपूर्ण-भक्ति) in his gloss to Sri Jayatirtha's annotations to Madhva's commentary to Vedanta Sutra 3.2.19 (अम्बुवद् अग्रहणात् तु न तथात्वम्).

Madhvacarya is one Teacher who found a definition of Bhakti directly in the Vedanta-sutras. This is significant, if one were to admit that Bhakti (Love) is an intrinsic function of consciousness. Madhva's commentaries compare Bhakti to water, and Jnaana to the way water is consumed (or "used", "channeled"). Perhaps that's why this Jnaana is said to be eternally in the form of जिज्ञासा ("seeking", "thirst"). First watch the video, then read the following rough translation of a passage from that commentary to that Brahma-sutra:

Bhakti is defined as the innate quality of intense love and attachment to Vishnu (the All-Pervading Personality of Godhead), in full knowledge of His Greatness (माहात्म्य-ज्ञानपूर्वक-स्नेहो हि भक्तिः ।). Sentimental affection without a sound understanding is not real Bhakti (स्नेहेनाज्ञानाद् इति कुतो नोक्तम् ।). Ref. also Bhagavad Gita 10.7.

Bhakti expresses itself in different ways according to whatever circumstances the Jeeva (living entity) is placed in, just like water (अम्बुवत्)), which flows into different vessels or canals, or has different velocities under different pressures. The devotionally pure human being's Nature is supple and dynamic, without rigid, static moods or styles ... or rigid, egotistical opinions or reactions to mundane matters (such as making an absolute virtue out of physical "non-violence", or flinching from "money and women", etc.).

Instead, the Pure human being's Knowingness (ज्ञान) is emptied of conventional roles and mental identities, solely seeking to be a medium for the Pleasure of Godhead. Water can flow serenely and patiently, or it can rush fearlessly with surprising force. As a flexible instrument, he is easily moulded according to the wishes of the Beloved (which is not obedience to an extraneous 'Authority' but is based on nearness and knowingness).

Jnaana is like the strong and pure channel, vessel, or environment that firmly directs the velocity and direction of the flow of the water (ज्ञानेSपि दार्ढ्य-सूचनाय ग्रहणं इत्युक्तम् ।). Without the water, a channel or vessel has unfulfilled purpose. On the other hand, without a vessel, hose, canal or gradients in the environment, or if the vessel has cracks, then water remains stagnant or dissipates without being harnessed.

Jnaana represents control and restraint, and gives shape and form (स्वरूप-निरूपणार्थम् ।) to the expression of Bhakti.

Pure Bhakti flows spontaneously, just like water flows spontaneously whenever there is some gradient or impulse, as long as it is clear and in liquid state. Sometimes our conditioned state is compared to water being frozen. To flow again, it should thaw. Also, pure Bhakti brings complete self-discipline in the jeeva w.r.t. spiritual instruction, because there is no more self-resistance to directed flow (within the jeeva's own nature).

Vishnu (the Supreme Personality) is the impetus and reservoir of all rasa (aesthetic mind). But the quality of the Jnaana of the jeeva (धर्म-भूत-ज्ञान) determines how we wish to accept and express that fundamental current that flows through us, either directly connecting back to Him in communion, or indirectly through the sink of Maya (Illusion). In fully blossomed self-realization (विकास), we realize our true relationship (स्वरूप) with God.

Ultimately, Intelligent Devotion is about honestly and fully expressing one's Affection (स्नेह) for the Supreme Personality of Godhead in great freedom and without reservations - "अहैतुकी अप्रतिहता" (Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6)

In order to reach such a state, we need to train every part of our being by a complete process involving all faculties, and by knowing the proper function and importance of all faculties and Tattvas. I like how Lee says, "...well then baby you better train every part of your body."

Bhakti is intrinsic to consciousness, and is spontaneous (instinctive). All states of consciousness, ranging from श्रद्धा ('Faith') to सङ्कल्प (Conviction) are only different grades of development of that fundamental characteristic of consciousness - as intention. In this era, Ramanuja reinstated this definition of consciousness as part of the rennaissance - replacing meaningless talk of "pure consciousness" that was in vogue at that time. All schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other Indic religions are now in agreement on this.

Mar 5, 2013

"Louder" dialogue: Right foot forward

Here's a line of thought that advocates a greater focus on internal dialogue and external covert ops, along with a drastic reduction of external dialogue, diplomacy, and "cultural exchange" with any nation or party that misuses protocols and engages in a one-pointed agenda of hate.

Sometime during my 11th or 12th grade, a young man walked into class and said he was our new physics teacher - a male teacher at an all boys school where most staff members are female. In our small world, some of us in the backbenches thought it was in the same category as being a male nurse. It was a class in which the backbenches were extraordinarily eager to participate: We would keep interjecting, "Lowda sir! Sir, lowda please!" while pretending that we were straining to hear him. Lowda is Hindi slang for 'dick', or 'dick off', pronounced a bit like English "louder". He became a target because we thought: (a) There was something odd and out-of-place, (b) We could take liberties that we couldn't take with other teachers just because we had a common gender,  (c) But we still had to treat him like a teacher because of rules and the risk of punishment. In this game, plausible deniability is the best policy.

It is said that the human subconscious is more vulnerable to insanity than the animal kingdom because we evolved the faculty of speech, and especially because of homonymic words in human speech (homonym: a word with more than one distinct meaning). Add to that a multilingual society with an alien "elite" language transplanted across cultures, and it makes it all the more fun.

But insanity is after all just the final limiting condition of a long process, when a lie or a misunderstood idea has been consciously practiced over and over against all reason, with such unrelenting stubbornness that it finally finds its hiding place in the subconscious.

Fortunately, even backbenchers know when a joke ceases to be funny. But in the merciless world of politics, a deadly combination of dissimulation and crushing ridicule of the other would be too good to let go, decency be damned. Is one man's terrorist really another man's freedom fighter? Is the white man's burden the heavy loot from India or the setting up of convent schools over the rubble of its society? Does "jihad" mean holy war, interfaith diplomacy or inner struggle? Or all three (while "terrorists have no religion")? Does "secularism" and "communalism" in Hindu India mean exactly the same thing as it does in a Western society re-negotiating its relationship with Christian authority?

Generalizing from the case above, the requirements are that the unfortunate target is: (a) A person, party or nation that oddly sets itself up (or has been set up) for ridicule by its non-traditional methods of conducting policy or expressing its purpose, (b) Participates in creating some cultural commonality and familiarity that invites contempt - by allowing for a certain leeway in etiquette that can be used to subvert the intent of dialogue, and (c) And yet expects to be taken seriously and holds out the threat of punishment.

In the Logic of the Nyaya-sutras, Gautama says that there are 3 well-known types of argumentative dialogue:
प्रमाणतर्क्कसाधनोपालम्भस्सिद्धान्तविरुद्धः पञ्चावयवोपपन्नः पक्षप्रतिपक्षपरिग्रहो "वादः" ॥१.२.१॥ 
"Discussion (vaada) is the adoption of one of two opposing sides. What is adopted is analysed in the form of five members, and defended by the aid of any of the means of right knowledge, while its opposite is assailed by confutation, without deviation from the established tenets."
To put it simply: A "discussion" is an honest effort to understand and arrive at a truer conclusion - either from the winning side, or a newly created understanding of the subject after listening to both sides. That's what classroom discussions should be trying to do. That's what history-writers, scientists, religions and philosophers should be trying to do. That's what the media should be trying to do in a national discourse. That could also be what international discourse and relations could do.

What is significant is that partisanship is not derided here. Anyone can have their point of view to begin with. But the discussion is carried forward on sound principles of logic and a love of truth, not hatred or prejudice.

But if any of the above prostitute themselves to politics and partisanship, then one of the following ensues:
यथोक्तोपपन्नश्छलजातानिग्रहस्थानसाधनोपालम्भो "जल्पः" ॥१.२.२॥ 
"Wrangling (jalpa), which aims at gaining victory, is the defence or attack of a proposition in the manner aforesaid by quibbles, futilities, and other processes which deserve rebuke."
Zhou Enlai's cocky assertion that "diplomacy is war by other means" is the most honest description of a dishonest mentality, spoken by one who oversaw the transition from communism to ethnic nationalism - one visceral movement to another.
स्वप्रतिपक्षस्थापनाहीनो "वितण्डा" ॥१.२.३॥ 
"Cavil (vitanda) is a kind of wrangling which consists in mere attacks on the opposite side."
Clausewitz's well-known quote "war is merely the continuation of policy by other means" appropriately comes from the colonial age in Europe - a Europe that hadn't been so successful with the religious Crusades in an earlier time. Historical background plays a big part in the dialectic quality of the thought process (ref. earlier blogpost - Psychohistory vs. Dumb Dialectics).

What is fascinating is that wranglers and practitioners of cavil are often the ones quickest to disavow or rebuke partisanship in all its forms, raising cries of "communalism", "religious fanaticism", "social inequality", "reason versus faith" and a host of false dichotomies.

Its not that visceral, detrimental partisanship doesn't exist. Its just that its possible for someone to have a partisan view as an aesthetic rather than a visceral propensity. And there lies the rub. In casting suspicion and following it up with wrangling and cavil, one can reduce an aesthetic proposition to a visceral threat. That's an important datum for "strategists" right there.

In fact, it seems to be a rather popular tactic. In India's national discourse, Modi is basically subjected to a one-point cavil response to almost anything his supporters have to offer. (See this video of the English media's latest feeding frenzy.)

But it is best seen applied in international relations, whether it is the Indian subcontinent or any other theater of international affairs. Vajpayee was riding the peace bus to Lahore amid much fanfare, while Musharraf's "mujahideen" were creeping up on Kargil. A "war of a thousand cuts" using "non-state actors" is waged while also cultivating "track II diplomacy". Cultural exchange is used by the guests and their internal hosts to shape India's national discourse, rather than the other way round.

"Citizen diplomacy" is fruitful only if the agents of dialogue are reasonably in sync with their nation's purpose and philosophy. Such individuals from both sides can use the informality and good intentions to create a genuine dialogue and enhance mutual understanding. If India had genuine representatives, I would be all in favour of track II diplomacy and cultural exchange. But an octogenarian Wagah Candle Holder pining for his ancestral aangan in Lahore and trying to keep alive his dhimmi-schooled father's Urdu may not be India's best foot forward. 

Nor, in my view, is a "secularist" who is unwilling to acknowledge the depth and real context of India's civilization as a valid (and valuable) starting point in modern times, much less take pride in it. What is he willing to fight and die for? - That question undergirds his qualification to dialogue on behalf of the nation, rather than merely his "pacifist" unwillingness to fight. Or worse. (See this interesting speech by M.J. Akbar on the Idea of India.) 


This is all the more important because this generation of warfare has stepped out of the conventional framework of Westphalian states, and its driving force goes beyond a primitive nationalism and even political-economic ideology. In this scenario, there are "countries" today that are not really nation-states in the proper sense of the term, they are sly foxes in the garb of law abiding nation-states. Their behaviour confuses naive observers, who call them "failed states" that are not quite failing. But the fact is that they were never meant to be successful as nation-states. Their success lies in something else, something much larger. Taking advantage of the protocols of being called a nation-state and especially a failing one that cannot control "non state actors" is part of that larger war, specifically its diplomatic aspect.

When this is the big picture, a nation that is in a make-believe delusion that the context is about nation-states is decidedly out-of-place and a naive oddity, setting itself up for others to play games with it. Therefore, those Indian commentators that try to distract the nation by calling a strangely idiotic "pride" to the fact that India is not considered as "failed" a state as some others are deluding the people. Knowingly or unknowingly, they are a direct hazard to the future crystallization of India's national purpose, much less ideal representatives in dialogue with others.

As long as India cannot put its "right" foot forward, its probably better to keep transactions limited to covert ops where required, as punishment for specific actions or to cultivate certain trends. At the same time, the need of the hour is for a vigorous discussion (not wrangling, not cavil) within India, to clarify and then solidify the idea of India going forward. As actions speak louder than words, this combination of internal dialogue and hard external ops will make for a "louder" dialogue, decency be damned.