Sep 17, 2013

Good Critic, Bad Critic

My pathbreaking research has revealed that the Bollywood blockbuster "Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge" ("The possessor of a heart carries away the bride") was named after a mantra from the RigVeda. I know you think I'm a bullshitter, but at least everyone agrees that Bollywood's dons of doggerel are plagiarists. If you don't believe me, I can show you. Its from the RigVeda's Saraswati Suktam:
उत त्वः पश्यन् न ददर्श वाचं , उत त्वः श्रृण्वन् न श्रृणोत्येनम् ।
उतो त्वस्मै तन्वं विसस्रे जायेव पत्य उषति सुवासाः ॥ ऋग्वेदः १०.७१.४ 
"One man looks at the Word, yet he does not see Her; One listens but does not hear Her.
But to another has She shown Her beauty, like a fond well-dressed bride does to her husband."
- RigVeda 10.71.4
The enlightened person, whose ignorant heart has been set alight by knowledge, who becomes an intoxicated bard in pursuance of the Veda, is often called kavi in Sanskrit - a poet. I'm told that this is not your cheap Urdu poetaster, churning out cliched or mawkish rhyme for a bit of notoriety or wallow, but rather someone whose transactions are of a different type, whose fame is of a different frequency.

But the mantra is not about the Poet, it is about the hearer, about ways of listening or reading. Shravanam.

This word "dilwala" is Persian pidgin in north-India. The Sanskrit word is "sahridaya" - "companion or possessor of a heart". I came across this thoughtful editorial in the Sanskrit language Sudharma newspaper of September 11, 2013 - A translation:
कविसहृदयाख्यं तत्त्वम् । The reality of what is called 'Poet' and of the 'Possessor of a sincere, learned heart' 
"The reality of Saraswati (Goddess of Speech, Knowledge) is won by the Poet, and by the Possessor of a heart", said Abhinavagupta. "Those who, by constant practice and devotion to the poetry acquire the ability to identify and become part of (something) in the clear, illustrative imagination of the heart's mirror, they become participants in the relationships of the heart and are possessors of the heart," said he. In the hands lies creativity, so also in the possession of a heart lies the ability for bliss. But its not as if all who read poetry or all who watch theater are knowers of the poet's heart. Only some have that ability. Thus it is heard: 
"One man looks at the Word, yet he does not see Her;
One listens but does not hear Her." 
In the world, as poets are rare, so also are possessors of hearts. Just like poetic talent, the ability for critique and reflection is also obtained only by the Grace of God. By the ability for critique and reflection, the possessor of a heart knows the inner state of the poet, and discovers new meanings, too. What the sun doesn't see, that the poet sees; and what even the poet doesn't see, that the reflective critic sees. But some critics turn into academic commentators. They only seek the faults in the poet. Where the meaning is complex, there they say it is obvious and literal and cast it away. Where the meaning is clear they re-describe it in complex ways. They increase the readers' perplexity. In this way, many an interpreter has perverted reality. They aren't possessors of hearts. Only he is a possessor of a heart who sets aside envy and emulation and reads poetry for the joy of poetry. The reality of Saraswati is in, both, the poet and the possessor of a heart. If there were no possessors of hearts, then the poet's work is wasted. If there was no poet, then the possessors of hearts would have no bliss. May both increase!
So the devoted practice and duplication is not blind admiration, says the editor; it is a sympathetic, reflective critique.

Secondly, this line was intriguing: "What the sun doesn't see, that the poet sees; and what even the poet doesn't see, that the reflective critic sees." It reminded me of a verse famous in the Mahabharata:
अष्टौ श्लोकसहस्राणि अष्टौ श्लोकशतानि च
अहं वेद्मि शुको वेत्ति सञ्जयो वेत्ति वा न वा 
"Eight thousand and eight hundred verses there are,
That I know and Shuka knows but Sanjaya (the author) may or may not know." 
      -Mahabharata, Adi Parva 1.81
Around this verse is built the theory of the "Hidden Bharata", one that isn't available in the popular epic's text. Now if I were an Idiot, or a clever Nazi or colonial Western Indologist, or a traditionalist upper caste Hindu clansman, I might go digging for the relics of this 8800 verse Holy Grail in Tibet or Turkey, or deep in the family archives of a particular caste-collective. Nothing wrong with that, of course - after all, "What one has not yet learned to use, one must first learn to waste", be it time, money, energy or intelligence. But this Hidden Bharata seems to have been pursued more as an idea by those Hindu spiritual leaders who worked with the fundamentals. For example, one finds an echo of it in the texts of Bengal Vaishnavism, where Lord Shiva says:
अहं वेद्मि शुको वेत्ति
व्यासो वेत्ति न वेत्ति वा ।
भक्त्या भागवतं ग्राह्यं
न बुद्ध्या न च टीकया ॥ 
"[Lord Śiva said:] 'I may know; Śuka may know; and Vyāsa may or may not know the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. For the spotless Purāṇa can be grasped only through devotional service, not by material intelligence, mental speculation or philological commentaries.'"       
                   - Chaitanya Charitamrta, Madhya, 24.313 
If "dilwala" is pidgin, the above tried to address the Indian side, the sahridaya. The Persian equivalent would be saheb e delaan. Its a phrase that is found in Persian mysticism going back to Zoroastrian and Mithraic times, they say. And so is the word khudaa, which means Self-evident (khud aashkaar) according to the mystics. Some of its best expression is in the poetry of Hafez:
دل می‌ رود ز دستم صاحب دلان خدا را
دردا که راز پنهان خواهد شد آشکارا 
"My heart is slipping out of my hands, O possessors of hearts, for Self-evidence's sake!
Alas, the hidden secret will become manifest!"
As the editor said, "In the hands lies creativity, so also in the possession of a heart lies the ability for bliss." Here, our man is moving beyond creativity and 'doing' (service), towards an encounter that the possessor of a heart is entitled to. (Conversely, in a condition of confusion and disorientation, "dil pey mat ley, haath mein ley!").

Control + Duplication = Communication;
Control + Communication = Having [ref. Be Do Have: Creativity, Faith, Works and Witnessing]

Its probably better to draw close to the original Veda before one spends time on academic interpretations and the theories of linguists, archaeologists and other "researchers" who have little identification with the Veda, or instead have an attitude of envy, usurpation or malice towards Vedic civilization or India. In other words, if they haven't paid their dues at the altar of the Veda and Vedanga, duplicating its practice as per its own clear native specifications, then their theories and critiques are worth nothing - or more harmful than useful.

Sep 12, 2013

Be Do Have: Creativity, Faith, Works and Witnessing

The Biblical Jesus Christ reportedly said that the Kingdom of Heaven is already within those he speaks to. But he also said that the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be seen until one is born again. He also confirmed the ancient notion of the mission to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. 

Being, Doing and Having (a thing) probably have little in common with one another, except the thing in itself. They are distinct mediums in which that thing is realized, knowledge of that thing is gained, and bliss of that thing is experienced - mediums of Time and Eternality, of Motion and Survival. Probably like the difference between the mediums in which creatures of the Earth, the Atmosphere and the Heavens operate. According to the Veda, they are three containers in which the cosmic fire (Agni) burns.

If Being, Doing and Having are not treated as distinct, then the proverbial dog apparently keeps chasing its own tail, knowledge becomes Mechanical, and bliss becomes  mere Entertainment to kill Time. A rather hellish wheel of action and Reaction.

The 3 may also have a logical order at the level of Individual agreement - Being precedes Doing, and Having follows.

That could appear counter-intuitive. Some may think that in order to truly Be something, one has to first Do something in order to Have some qualification, at which point there is social agreement that one is that thing. That's also true - at the level of social or Political agreement. As stated in another blogpost [The Forest and the Village] - "The Political level keeps the Individual level honest, and vice versa."

The Earth and the Atmosphere: Being and Doing
The Sacrifice, Yajna, is to be conceived first in Heaven, then wrought on Earth: 
देव-विशः कल्पयितव्या इत्याहुस् ;
ताः कल्पमाना अनु मनुष्यविशः कल्पन्त इति । 
सर्व विशः कल्पते यज्ञो sपि ।
तस्यै जनतायै कल्पते यत्रैवं विद्वान् होता भवति । 
"'The subjects of the Gods should be brought into order', they say;
'As they are brought into order, the subjects of Mankind come into order.'" 
"All the subjects come into order, the sacrifice comes into order also.
All is in order for that people where there is a Wizard knowing thus."
                                                                  - from Aitareya Brahmana 1.9
So then, the first phase of Yajna is postulated by someone who has already seen the Heavens, and then heard by and refined within the Individual researchers (encompassing their most confidential relationships as well as circumstance). The work then is to remove all obstacles so as to refine one's intention to the point of Being without reservation. Then each one takes ownership of Work. This is Consecration (diksha). 

The adjacent phase of Yajna is in working to create that Heavenly postulate on Earth. It is the translation of the Individual idea to the social or Political. It is an effort in building civilization, or supporting it in balance, or destroying its hypertrophic (ugra-karmic) excesses.

Of course, there is a feedback loop between the two phases, between conception, working, reformation and re-working. 

The progression of one's sense of reality and objective relationships could be described somewhat as follows (in ascending order):

Modes of Doing
-          Passive hope based on waiting for future advent of an avatara or savior, rather than observation
-          Simple patience and happiness devoid of ambition

-          Occultation of the cynosure from Earthly observation
-          Personal renunciation, etc.

-          Confidential preservation and transmission
-          Covert affiliation while pretending to be a very dutiful part of inimical mainstream
[Like a wife secretly having an extra-marital affair and being extra-diligent in her duties to her husband to avoid suspicion or address her conscience]

-          Open expression of one's affiliations by violently or peacefully confronting contra-postulates
-          The struggle to create social and political space for activity
-          Identification and belonging to a reality and its cultural symbiotes
-          Sense of belonging not requiring justifications or reasons
Taking Responsibility
-          Cognition of one's Basic Purpose as formed in first 2.5 years of life
-          Service involvement
Achieving Control
Responsibility, Knowledge and Control increase and decrease with one another in a virtuous or vicious spiral.
[If one takes Responsibility for something, it increases one’s Knowledge of it and results in increased Control of that field of activity, which generates an expanded scope of responsibility, and so on.]

Physical Death
-          Experiencing physical death and being born again.
-          Death (यम) as Teacher
[I am not sure if physical death can be experienced by yogic method. According to Acharya Madhva, in the Katha Upanishad, Nachiketa experiences actual death by Vajashrava’s words, and is not drawing near to Yama simply in meditative trance.]

... and so on, leading to higher, aesthetic, and ecstatic (disembodied) modes of Doing.

The exercise of mature free will and self-determinism is fundamental. Compulsion or hustle and haste in Political identification, or invalidation of an Individual's sense of ownership would immediately lower Individual responsibility and push the Individual down that scale -- to a reality of Hiding, or Waiting, or a sense of the reality being in Occultation, etc. All types of cult and sectarian doctrines and mythologies could be mapped along this spectrum.

Diksha brings one to the point of active ethics and Taking Responsibility. Any mode inferior to that does nothing active to bring the Kingdom of Heaven closer. Yet, the superior modes of activity must be grounded in the inferior modes, which provide orientation. Otherwise they become mere fruitive activities. Infinite patience, treating the world in good faith and affinity (bhakti) are the foundation of true Vedic Karma Kanda.

But then, in order to actually see the realm of Heaven the Individual apparently has to be born again (dwija). For only in a newborn can the seed of an idea be planted and its own native fruit be observed in present time. An idea transmitted between older 'grown-ups' is merely grafted onto an existing creeper. The newborn is a clean slate, in a limited sense. Whence the logic of renewal, renascence into fresh youth, as in the Zoroastrian frasho-kereti (Sanskrit praso-kriti).

The Heavens: Thanking and Having
So the Being and Doing are not complete without Having as its fruit. And Having is probably not possible until after being born again, not just psychologically but by experiencing physical death, and witnessing Heaven Itself, the fruit of the Yajna. For to see is to believe:
ऋतं वाव दीक्षा सत्यं दीक्षा, तस्माद् दीक्षितेन सत्यं एव वदितव्यम् । 
"The consecration is holistic arrangement, the consecration is truth; therefore, by one who is consecrated should truth alone be spoken." 
अथो खल्वाहुः -
"को sर्हति मनुष्यः सर्वं सत्यं वदितुम् ।
सत्य-संहिता वै देवा, अनृत-संहिता मनुष्या" इति ॥ 
Rather they say -
"What man is capable of speaking all truth? ;
The Gods are of truth composed, but Men of a false-disorder composed!" 
विचक्षणवतीं वाचं वदेच् ;
"चक्षुर्वै विचक्षणं, वि ह्येनेन पश्यति" इति ।  
He should speak using (the word) 'discerning' (विचक्षण - faultless vision, a product of a wise heart);  
"The discerning is the eye itself, for by it he sees distinctly", they say. (i.e., seeing is believing, as compared to hearing/reading about it, inferring it, or imagining it, etc.) 
एतद् ध वै मनुष्येषु सत्यं निहितं यच्चक्षुस् तस्माद् आचक्षाणं आहुः - "अद्राग्" इति ।  
Now the eye/witnessing is truth deposited among men; therefore, to him that narrates they say - "Hast thou seen?" 
स यद्यदर्शम् इत्याहाथास्य श्रद्दधाति । 
If he replies, "I have seen", then him they believe.  
यद्यु वै स्वयं पश्यति, न बहूनांचनान्येषां श्रद्दधाति ।  
But if a man himself sees, he believes not even many others (who may all agree on a different version). 
तस्माद् विचक्षणवतीम् एव वाचं वदेत् , सत्योत्तरा हैवास्य वाग् उदिता भवति भवति । 
Therefore should he speak using (the word) 'discerning' (विचक्षण); his uttered speech then is essentially true. 
                                                                       - from Aitareya Brahmana 1.6
A person who has completed the Yajna in all 3 phases utters postulates. Such an Individual's postulates are food for another Individual seeker's research, and the basis of sound nation-building.

Browsing around, I heard a teacher, Shriman Arya Naresh, practically define Yajna (Devotional Offering) concisely as:

OM ka dhyaan (ऊँ का ध्यान) - Meditation on the Word.
Ved ka gyaan (वेद का ज्ञान) - Knowledge of Vedas, i.e. knowledge about knowingness itself. 

Yajna ka anushthaan (यज्ञ का अनुष्ठान) - The execution of Yajna, in ritual and in society. 

Sanskaari santaan (संस्कारी सन्तान) - Raising children through good mental cultivation that protects and instructs the life force and facilitates creative imagination. 

Raashtra hit balidaan (राष्ट्र हित बलिदान) - Sacrifice for the benefit of the nation and civilization.

It spans the Individual and the Political. Indian youth seem to be getting involved at different levels - spiritual, ideological or social - in the political reformation of the nation and its ecology. It may still lack focus, direction, or sophistication, and one hopes it is not too late. Also, all talk of cultural nationalism will turn out to be no different from petty identity politics without genuine guidance and understanding.

Sep 11, 2013

The Forest and the Village: A case for Cultural Nationalism

Be, do, have. Creativity is ultimately about 'doing', but is preceded by reflective 'being', and completed by the satisfaction of a non-material 'having'. Doing obviously involves pragmatism, and is social and Political in scope. But being and having are Individual in scope, and if not recognized as such will go out of control.

Individuation is to see any thing, not pigeon-holed as a member of a particular category of existence, but as an intersection of various categories. E.g., a human being is not material or animal or mental or intellectual or spiritual, but some intersection of them all. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are not in conflict with one another (except in the holiest of holies!), but interconnected by self-determinism. Etc.

Politicization is the division of society into categories and vested interests for the purpose of governance. Governance means Control of parts, effective Communication between parts and as an organism, and an ability to deliver (Have) something of value to society at large. Of course, it all depends on that civilization's definition of value. E.g., the U.S. is an example of a body politic designed to deliver an American dream to its constituents, who are all in pursuit of happiness, and to cure other civilizations of their nightmarish ideals. Any nation-state from the Islamic Ummah is an example of a body politic designed to deliver the peace and tranquility of Islam to all humble members, and to inflict the peace of the graveyard on those not so humble. India is an example of a body politic that currently doesn't know its elbow from its arse. Etc.

The Political level keeps the Individual level honest, and vice versa. Sort of like how wives keeps their husbands honest and vice versa. Perhaps when Individuation is not balanced by contact with Political socialization, then it leads to ideological corruption - moral distortions. When Politicization is not balanced by relinquishment with a focus on Individuation, then it leads to material corruption - cultural and psycho-somatic malaise.

Cultural nationalism, not merely a civic nationalism, can help bridge this gap and restore balance. In cultural nationalism, the entire body politic can itself personify and individuate - around a form of the spiritual cynosure of its civilization. Thus, it can restore Control, Communication and a sense of Having and belonging. A useful experiment in cultural nationalism needs good-natured, wise, strong and skillful wizardry - the kind that Murli Manohar Joshi doesn't have.

In India, politicization for 60 years operated on a ramifying societal division of vested interests, done at the cost of some older categories of socialization. For a period, this was good for the nation and for democratic empowerment. The founding fathers of the US also agree in the Publius Papers that the greater the division and diversity of interest groups, the more stable a republican democracy. But the dereliction of higher-level civilizational awareness and values, education in the native humanities, and ethics at the individual level has caused a cancer in the political process within India. Rather than playing within the limits of a soft diversity, it has played into the hands of hard lobbies beholden to external forces. Because of the loss of this moral compass, the political process has been hijacked by forces with a fundamental hatred of the civilization's native substrate. Thus, at this delicate juncture, many Indians find themselves debating the 'Idea of India' parallel to the groundswell of anxiety about pervasive corruption. Not a bad start, though hopefully not too late.

The continuous movement back and forth from Individuation to Political socialization, from spiritual reality to transactional pragmatism, from the paramarthika to the vyavaharika, is a theme in Veda. It is intrinsic to the idea of the cycle of 'Work' or 'Doing' (karma). Following is a passage from the Aitareya Brahmana, which provides an ancient understanding of the following:

1. Meanings of the "4 yugas" (phases of Time and Movement) - satya, treta, dwapara, kali
2. Thought vs. Action - i.e., culture - and both their relation to "karma"
3. Relation of body and soul - role of a thriving body (physical or political), free of psycho-somatic or cultural illness. 
4. Destiny (bhaagya) - and how it can be modified based on Individual modes of consciousness.
5. Non-clutching to any truths of Political socialization ("the Village"), but to keep moving to and from the "Forest" of creative individuation. (This is a famous verse supposedly also quoted often by The Buddha to his disciples).

अथ हैक्ष्वाकं वरुणो जग्राह, तस्य होदरं जज्ञे ।
तद् उ ह रोहितः शुश्राव, सो sरण्याद् ग्रामं एयाय ।
तं इन्द्रः पुरुषरूपेण पर्येत्योवाच -

नाना श्रान्ताय श्रीरस्तीति रोहित शुश्रुम ।
पापो नृषद्वरो जन इन्द्र इच्चरतः सखा ॥

"Then Varuna seized Aikshvaaka; his belly swelled up. 
This Rohita heard; he went from the forest to the village.
To him Indra came in human form and said -

'Manifold is the prosperity of him who is weary (after great effort), so we have heard O Rohita;
Evil is he who stays put among men, Indra is the comrade of the wanderer.'"

चरैवेति चरैवेति वै मा ब्राह्मणो sवोचद्,
इति ह द्वितीयं संवत्सरं अरण्ये चचार ।
सो sरण्याद् ग्रामं एयाय, तं इन्द्रः पुरुषरूपेण पर्येत्योवाच -

पुष्पिण्यौ चरतो जङ्घे भूष्णुरात्मा फलग्रहिः ।
शेते sस्य सर्वे पाप्मानः श्रमेण प्रपथे हताश् ॥

"'Keep moving.' (Thinking) this Brahman has bidden me 'wander', 
He wandered for a second year in the wild. 
He came from the forest to the village. To him came Indra in human form and said - 

'Flower-like the thighs (or shanks/heels) of the wanderer, his body grows and is fruitful;
All his sins go into remission, slain by the toil of his journeying.'"

चरैवेति चरैवेति वै मा ब्राह्मणो sवोचद्,
इति ह तृतीयं संवत्सरं अरण्ये चचार ।
सो sरण्याद् ग्रामं एयाय, तं इन्द्रः पुरुषरूपेण पर्येत्योवाच -

आस्ते भग आसीनस्योर्ध्वस् तिष्ठति तिष्ठतः ।
शेते निपद्यमानस्य चराति चरतो भगश् ॥

"'Keep moving.' (Thinking) this Brahman has bidden me 'wander',
He wandered for a third year in the wild. 
He came from the forest to the village. To him came Indra in human form and said - 

'The fortune of him who sits also sits, that of him who stands also stands erect;
That of him who reclines lies prone, the fortune of him that moves shall move indeed.'"

चरैवेति चरैवेति वै मा ब्राह्मणो sवोचद्,
इति ह चतुर्थं संवत्सरं अरण्ये चचार ।
सो sरण्याद् ग्रामं एयाय, तं इन्द्रः पुरुषरूपेण पर्येत्योवाच -

कलिः शयानो भवति संजिहानस् तु द्वापरः ।
उत्तिष्ठंस् त्रेता भवति कृतं संपद्यते चरंश् ॥

"'Keep moving.' (Thinking) this Brahman has bidden me 'wander', 
He wandered for a fourth year in the wild. 
He came from the forest to the village. To him came Indra in human form and said - 

'Kali he becomes who lies down to sleep, Dwapara when he rises awake;
Treta when he stands erect, and Krta (Satya) when he gets moving.'"

चरैवेति चरैवेति वै मा ब्राह्मणो sवोचद्,
इति ह पञ्चमं संवत्सरं अरण्ये चचार ।
सो sरण्याद् ग्रामं एयाय, तं इन्द्रः पुरुषरूपेण पर्येत्योवाच -

चरन् वै मधु विन्दति चरन् स्वादुं उदुम्बरम् ।
सूर्यस्य पश्य श्रेमाणं यो न तन्द्रयते चरंश् ॥

"'Keep moving.' (Thinking) this Brahman has bidden me 'wander', 
He wandered for a fifth year in the wild. 
He came from the forest to the village. To him came Indra in human form and said - 

'Journeying, one finds honey, journeying, the sweet Udumbara fruit;
Consider the pre-eminence of the sun, who wearies never of wandering.'"

- Aitareya Brahmana 7.15 (verses 1-5)