Jan 20, 2022
Mar 26, 2021
Khordad saal mubarak. Quickly dumping an old conversation: a brief case study of Zoroastrianism as an Angry Schismatic Monotheism and it's life-cycle.
This is reflected in the balance and relationship between Bhakti and Shakti, or devotional and political expression (where devotional is original spiritual creativity rather than dogmatic passion). If one is excessively impassioned and the outreach connected with the other is remarkably lacklustre, it is a symptom to be considered. Hopefully of interest to Dharmic traditions.
Borrowing from Hinduism
According to their own internal narrative, there was an internecine war, they lost and were pushed out, and then Zarathushtra Spitama brought a people in despair “glad tidings” and new moral courage. The cosmic dispensation had kathenotheistically revolved, it was said, and the people of Ahura had now been chosen over the people of the Daevas. Nevertheless, Zarathushtra himself and many Magi and others after that continued to borrow or steal knowledge and tradition from the Hindus. This and other details are also recorded by Roman students of this tradition – The 4th century CE, Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus made the following observations in his Rerum gestarum libri 23.6.31-36: “When Zoroaster had boldly made his way into the unknown regions of Upper India, he came to a certain woody retreat, of which with its tranquil silence the Brahmans, men of sublime genius, were the possessors. From their teaching he learnt the principles of the motion of the world and of the stars, and the pure rites of sacrifice, as far as he could; and of what he learnt he infused some portion into the minds of the Magi, which they have handed down by tradition to later ages, each instructing his own children, and adding to it their own system of divination.” Asho Zarathushtra converted the chieftains of a few immediate kshatriya clans, and then they later created a confederacy. They also infused this modified Brahminical knowledge into other existing priesthoods in the Middle East – the Magi were an existing pre-Zoro priesthood in that region.
Continued prosyletizing tendencies
Strengthening of Jati-exclusivity during distress from Greek invasion
Initial flirtation with Christian influence and later rejection
Schism of the liberals
Salman a.k.a. Mobed Dinyar a.k.a. Ruzbeh
Muslim adaption of Mazdaki memes
Cause for incompleteness
Jati-exclusivism during post-British times
Schism of the liberals (again)
Dec 19, 2020
Is Kshatram relevant to personal spirituality? Or is its domain mainly political organization and self-defence? Popular notions of Varna-vyavastha today would suggest that the fount of spiritual and material knowledge is Brahmana, Kshatriya is the energetic implementer, organizer and protector, and so on.
Spiritual Capital à Cultural Capital àSocial Capital àPolitical Capital àEconomic Capital àInfrastructure Capital à And so on
On a related note, is the Khalsa now irrelevant, since Aurangzeb is dead? Or is it the razor's edge that makes Dharma relevant? Common to hear that Khalsa was a stopgap arrangement in order to beat back Islamic jihadis, and should have been disbanded later on. Instead, a martial Khalsa remains the backbone that many have wanted broken, and Nihangs are the equivalent of the Juna Akhada in that region. Why so?
Don't be Autistic
A closer reading of the Indic tradition suggests there were always two, not one, founts of spiritual knowledge and power. In fact, this isolation and autism of knowledge culture and martial culture is a massive self-goal for the civilization:
"The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
-- William Francis Butler, The Great Lone Land
Butler was an officer in the British Army in the second half of the 1800's and early 1900's, and served in various parts of their colonial empire, including Burma, India and North America. He had a passion for history and biography. His superiors saw merit in his recommendations on how to encroach upon and establish authority over native peoples with the least amount of disruption, and those ideas were put to good use. The goal of a colonial is to make sure, in some cases, that the colonized people retain a productive usefulness, and even though they may be rebellious and yearn for autonomy, they should be permanently neutered as a civilization - never really able or even willing to play the big game of global domination. The quote above must be seen in that context.
The Vedic/Hindu tradition does not appear to draw a hard line at all, explicitly stating that the two are inseparable:
यत्र ब्रह्म च क्षत्रं च सम्यञ्चौ चरतः सह।
तं लोकं पुण्यं प्रज्ञेषं यत्र देवाः सहाग्निना॥
- यजुर्वेदः २०.२५
"Where Brahma and Kshatra march united, like the Devas with Agni, that society has merit and wisdom." - YajurVeda 20.25
Segregation and super-specialization will naturally lead to autism, preening narcissism and the lack of empathy those carry with it, thus making one unfit for spiritual leadership.
Don't be Ghey
Further, the ultimate state of samadhi is often juxtaposed with the character and spirit required for true martyrdom in battle, a mind unrattled by fear or hatred, but absorbed in love of Vishnu and ferocious devotional service to the Devatas:
द्वौ सम्मताविह मृत्यू दुरापौ
यद् ब्रह्मसन्धारणया जितासुः।
कलोवरं योगरतो विजह्याद्
- श्रीमद् भागवतम् ६.१०.३३
"There are two ways to meet a glorious death, and both are very rare. One is to die engaged firmly in Yoga (union), in a state of absorption in The Brahman (Supreme Being) and having mastered the mind and life-force. The second is to die on a battlefield of bravehearts, leading men from the front, and never turning one's back in retreat. These two kinds of death are recommended in the shaastra as glorious." - Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.10.33
And there is no suggestion that one is a 'lesser jihad', either. Or that one is merely a metaphor for the real, greater, inner struggle. Perhaps the metaphorizing tendency is attractive to a people who are easily convinced they have no option left except 'inner' struggle, in order to sublimate their frustrations.
The one important difference is that martyrdom here has a psycho-social dimension - it is achieved in the company of similarly minded bravehearts, both on one's own side and the adversary's.
Don't be an Adrenalized Nutcase
However, Kshatram (Lordly Power) is not synonymous with Balam (Might). The two terms are used separately:
क्षत्रेण क्षत्रं जयति बलेन बलम् अश्नुते यस्यैवं विद्वान् ब्रह्मणो राष्ट्रगोपः पुरोहितस् तस्मै विशः संजानते सम्मुखा एकमनसो यस्यैवं विद्वान् ब्रह्मणो राष्ट्रगोपः पुरोहितः।
- ऐतरेयारण्यकम् ८.४०.२५
"By lordly power he conquers lordly power (Kshatram - power generation and projection)
By might he attains might (Balam - use of force),
Who hath for Purohita to guard the dominion a brahmana with this knowledge,
For him are his people in harmony, with one aspect and one mind,
Who hath for Purohita to guard the kingdom a brahman with this knowledge."
- Aitareya Aranyaka 8.40.25
Thus, political capital must be rooted directly in spiritual capital, not social or cultural or intellectual capital, although those logically precede the manifestation of political capital.
How does political capital form? Essentially, it is Dharmic people bonding over a learning curve, in activities that are expansionary in nature rather than introspective, purely aesthetic, intellectual or merely as consumers of existing culture. That can only happen by tapping into an original creativity free from restlessness and a preoccupation with exercising available force.
Kshatriya Parampara does not mean Political Dynasty (nor Vyayamshalas)
But even if one had enough bhang to tranquilize Shakasthana, it would not lead to the generation of a valuable spiritual product without yajna and tapasya. The core texts of Dharma hold Rajarshis belonging to Kshatriya Paramparas to be responsible for the generation of critical and widely used Darshanic material. In the Bhagavad Gita, spoken on a battlefield by one Kshatriya to another:
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवान् अहम् अव्ययम्।
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत्॥1॥
एवं परम्परा प्राप्तम् इमं राजर्षयो विदुः।
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप॥४.२॥
"Bhagavan said, 'I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to Vivasvan, the Sun Devata, and He instructed it to Manu, the father of Mankind, who in turn taught it to King Ikshvaku. This supreme science was received through the disciplic succession and understood by Rajarshis (saintly kings) as such. But in course of time the succession was broken, and the science lost, O Scorcher of Enemies."
- Bhagavad Gita 4.1-2
In his commentary to 4.2, Adi Shankara uses the word Kshatriya Parampara explicitly: एवं क्षत्रिय-परम्परा-प्राप्तम् इमं राजर्षयः राजानश्च विदुः इमं योगम्।
Shri Madhva specifies what particular Darshanic elements are being referred to: बुद्धेः परस्य माहात्म्यं कर्मभेदो ज्ञानमाहात्म्यं चोच्यतेऽस्मिन्नध्याये। पूर्वानुष्ठितश्चायं धर्म इत्याह इममिति।
Shri Jayatirtha further elaborates that the idea of Jnana-Karma-Samuchchaya, as distinct from Jnana-Karma-Samanvaya, is the Kshatriya take on process philosophy. Adi Shankara ji recommends samanvaya, which entails that one engages in Karmas (ritual processes as well as worldly activities) until one has certain realizations (Jnana), after which those can be abandoned as one graduates to higher echelon inner processes solely of Jnana, and so on. Upon attaining jivan-mukti, even Jnana, Veda, etc. are no longer of any use. Whereas the samuchchaya process philosophy of the Kshatriya Parampara holds that Karma and Jnana are helically intertwined throughout one's life. A Karma will continue to yield different fruits of Jnana as one matures, and the Jnana one accrues will make the simplest of Karmas blossom and reveal deeper secrets. Thus, they inhere in one another. Even after complete liberation, such a yogi will continue to perform Karmas and teach Jnana purely for the devotional pleasure of the Supreme Being (Bhakti is its own reward - तत्स्वरूपत्वात् in Narada Bhakti Sutras), and in order to set an example for the rest of society, as Prahlada Maharaja did.
Jayatirtha further states that this also means that Grihastha Ashrama must not be neglected, circumvented or abandoned, and that only through Karma is one's knowledge perfected. After all, the first 6 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita discuss in some detail how Karma and Sankhya find their consilience in Buddhi, intellect. All these subjects are directly sourced from Kshatriya Parampara.
The historical problem mentioned by Krishna is that, because of its nature, and because it sits at the commanding heights of political power, Kshatriya Parampara often tends to die out, and needs to be revived from time to time by eternally liberated souls.
Two Engines of Spirituality
In a shloka that could earn Him the ire of the proletariat, petit bourgeoisie and feminists all at once, Shri Krishna calls women, Vyshyas and Shudras 'tainted births':
मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य योऽपि स्युः पापयोनयः।
स्त्रियो वैश्यास्तथा शूद्रास्तेऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम्॥९.३२॥
"O Son of Prtha, though they be of tainted birth, women, Vyshya and Shudra, attain to the highest Path once they take shelter of Me."
- Bhagavad Gita 9.32
That leaves us with Brahmanas and Kshatriyas as untainted. Note, some interpret the verse as meaning that 'tainted births' are a separate class from women, Vyshya and Shudra - but in any case, Brahmana and Kshatriya Varna are being considered a cut above the rest.
This clubbing of Brahma and Kshatra as a higher echelon category of being is common. Another example, speaking of the Atman Itself:
यस्य ब्रह्म च क्षत्रं च उभे ओदनः भवतः। मृत्युर्यस्योपसेचनम् क इत्या वेद यत्र सः॥कठ १.२.२५॥
"He to Whom the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas are as rice, and death itself as daal, how thus shall one know of where He abides?"
- Katha Upanishad 1.2.25
The Pragmatist Sovereign and the Idealist Officer
But what is the inter-relationship between the Varnas? There are many views, and Indic tradition is such that any text that is devoted to a particular Varna or Ashrama will extol its subject Varna, Ashrama or Sampradaya above all, as is only appropriate. Nevertheless, some are considered the abstract essence or at least a very high-level view of matters. Bhishma Pitamaha's discourses on his bed of arrows is one such. After glorifying the characteristics and place of the other 3 Varnas, he has this to say about Kshatriya (Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, 63.24-29):
बाह्वायत्तं क्षत्रियैर् मानवानां लोकक्षेष्ठः धर्मम् आसेवमानैः।
सर्वे धर्माः सोपधर्मास् त्रयाणां राज्ञो धर्माद् इति वेदाच् छृणोमि॥२४॥
"The best dharma of this world of men, which depends upon the strength of one's arms, is served by Kshatriyas. All the dharmas of the other 3 Varnas are subordinate to (and protected under) Raja Dharma. Thus do I hear from Veda." (24)
Kshatra is built on the mentality of developing physical strength: the strength of one's limbs and cherishing of weapons. The worship of Strength is in order to develop the strength to Worship.
यथा राजन् हस्तिपदे पदानि संलीयन्ते सर्वसत्त्वोद्भवानि।
एवं धर्मान् राजधर्मेषु सर्वान् सर्वावस्थान् सम्प्रलीनान् निबोध॥२५॥
"Just as the footprints of all essential created beings are subsumed in the footprint of an elephant, understand, O King, that all dharmas and their various states of being are included within Raja Dharma." (25)
अल्पाश्रयान् अल्पफलान् वदन्ति धर्मान् अन्यान् धर्मविदो मनुष्याः।
महाश्रयं बहुकल्याणरूपं क्षात्रं धर्मं नेतरं प्राहुरार्याः॥२६॥
"Less inclusive (more specialized) and less fruitful are other dharmas, say men who study Dharma. The broadest and greatest service to the summum bonum is afforded by Kshaatra dharma and none other, say the Aryas." (26)
Other dharmas are susceptible to autism and can lose sight of the big picture, lose the living touch with all sections of society, and may not experience the relevance of all occupational lifestyles to spiritual health and balance.
सर्वे धर्मा राजधर्मप्रधानाः सर्वे वर्णाः पाल्यमाना भवन्ति।
सर्वस् त्यागो राजधर्मेषु राजंस्त्यागं धर्मं चाहुरग्र्यं पुराणम्॥२७॥
"Raja dharma is primary to all other dharmas. All Varnas are protected and nourished by it. O King, every kind of sacrifice and relinquishment is included in the duties of a Kshatriya. And sacrifice is considered the most archaic and best of Dharma." (27)
मज्जेत् त्रयी दण्डनीतौ हतायां सर्वे धर्माः प्रक्षयेयुर्विबुद्धाः।
सर्वे धर्माश्चाश्रमाणां हताः स्युः क्षात्रे त्यक्ते राजधर्मे पुराणे॥२८॥
"If the Policy of Punishment dies out, then the Vedas shall sink (to Patala) and all dharmas shall wither and become comatose. The dharmas of all Ashramas shall also die out if the archaic Kshatra is abandoned or lost control of." (28)
Once a society loses its Kshatriyahood and sovereignty, all other Varnas merely hark to their natural strengths and run on auto-pilot, as it were, climbing whatever ladders are placed before them by their new colonial masters. The various Jatis become ladder-climbers, but none of them become nations that actually build ladders and landings for others to climb. Thus, they keep modifying and 'adapting' their dharma to circumstances wrought by Adharmics, rationalizing every such adjustment by specious logic, until their dharma dies out completely over the generations, while they individually scale the heights of 'success' as defined by the parameters of their colonized environment. Alternatively, a group may choose to remain in stubborn defiance of the changes in environment and turn inward, segregating itself to remain "pure", and as a result will simply fail to exercise any influence and gradually sink to the bottom. As Guru Gobind Singh said: राज बिना नहीं धरम चलै हैं। धरम बिना सब डलै मलै हैं॥ "Without sovereignty Dharma does not work. Without Dharma, everything is out of place."
The sovereign must be a pragmatist, and the officers of the state must be idealists. If the sovereign tries to act like an idealist and the officers of state try to play the role of pragmatist, it is an inversion of Dharma. The apparent 'faults' of Rama are only from an idealist perspective, not a pragmatist. Kshatra social hierarchy is based on pragmatic and politic requirement and qualification, with a will to exercise autonomous power and cultivate strength. Whereas an intellectual Brahminical hierarchy is based on highlighting ritual principle and preserving a theoretical model of idealized reality. For the Kshatriya mind, only scripture and science that rests on the edge of the sword of optimizing sovereignty in Present Time is relevant, all else being of only academic interest.
Denzil Ibbetson's book 'Panjab Castes' dwells on the devolution of society there once Kshatriya castes were defeated or destroyed - their role as the fount of social honour (bestowing station and rank to individuals and groups) fell upon the Brahmins, and the implementation of that principle changed, resulting in a gradual transformation of Hindu society there. Later, under the Sikh Gurus, the Kshatriya principle was restored, and society there once again underwent a transformation.
सर्वे त्यागा राजधर्मेषु दृष्टाः सर्वा दीक्षा राजधर्मेषु चोक्ताः।
सर्वा विद्या राजधर्मेषु युक्ताः सर्वे लोका राजधर्मे प्रविष्टाः॥२९॥
"In Raja Dharmas, all sacrifices can be seen. In Raja Dharmas, all initiations are uttered. In Raja Dharmas, there is a consilience of all systems of knowledge and art. In Raja Dharma are all worlds joined." (29)
For someone or a group of individuals to be able to cultivate the qualification and exercise the responsibilities of Kshatriya dharma, they would need to make every type of sacrifice, cultivate every type of strength and ability, experience every initiation and grow into maturity, and with the eye of individuation be able to perceive the interconnectedness of various facets of life and society.
Koel and Crow
Kshatriya Darshanic material can appear deceptively similar to what is today considered Brahminical sampradaya - the japa, kirtan, vratas, nitya-karmas, meditation. E.g., Sikhi is sought to be held as from the same mould as other Bhakti Movement sampradayas, with merely regional/caste differences. But is it? Did any other sampradaya create a school that anyone with qualifications can join and transform himself? An infrastructure of charities and places of worship that serve whichever wider community they are part of, a martial Khalsa culture that fought from Assam to the Deccan, a Nirmala scholarly Vedantic limb that today is a recognized center at Kashi, created mainly from lower caste aspirants at that time? No, there is a Varnic difference at play here.
Kshatriya organizational attitudes can also appear deceptively similar to Angry Schismatic Monotheisms of the West Asian variety - individuation from the stalk of society, rebellious sovereignty, disregard for certain idealist 'traditions', identity based on Maryada, and so on. E.g., Sikhi is accused of imitating 'Abrahamism' in several respects. But is it? No, there is a fundamental and vast Dharmic difference here.
So in both cases, this is a false superimposition. काक-पिक-न्यायः - the 'logic of the crow and the koel' - both appear almost identical, but sing very different tunes. Instead of premature judgment based on superficial reading or mere social acquaintance, better to immerse and experience the moral and transformative undercurrents of a sampradaya, its adhishthata Devata. Hineinfühlung.
Gun and Gomukh
Sep 19, 2019
I had wanted to attend a service of the Ásatrú pagans at a temple there. On the appointed day, having spent most of the day in the south-east, I had to drive back cross-country to Reykjavik in the evening. I left my friends at a hotel and started the long drive westward.
On the way, I stopped to get gasoline. Narrow, unlit, icy highways, one lane on each side with no divider. It was Ekadashi that fortnight, and I was tired. A quick 20 minute nap was a good idea for a weary, fasting traveler. So I parked at the gas station and pulled back my seat.
Two hours later, I woke up. Once again, everyone who knows me was right - I can never seem to wake up on time. I would have cursed out loud, but what's the point of fasting from food while entertaining negative thoughts? So I decided to drive onward. A narcoleptic's only solace is an awake solitude, and my mind was fresh.
About 30 minutes on the high road, even in the dark, from the corner of my eye, I spotted a person off to the side, setting up a tripod for his camera. Moments later it struck me that I had read how the Lights can be photographed using such equipment. I peered out and saw a clear, star-studded sky. I pulled off to the side the next opportunity, stepped out and stood scanning the sky. As my eyes adjusted and searched. I saw them, dancing gently. I stood gazing at the subtle cosmic display for about 45 minutes, until it felt too cold. Then got back in and drove on. In about 5 minutes of driving, the skies were cloudy again. The following day, when some French and Polish fellow-travelers caught up with me in Reykjavik, they couldn't believe it. In their 10 days there, they didn't get a glimpse.
Ever since, I've noticed Ekadashis tend to close with a surprise. To the hot springs, volcanic geysers and dancing night lights of the far north:
स तु देशो विसूर्योऽपि तस्य भासा प्रकाशते ।सूर्यलक्ष्म्याऽभिविज्ञेयस्तपतेव विवस्वता ॥४.४३.५७॥And offerings from India to the Poetic Edda:
"That region has light and heat as if from a sun, even though there isn't one."
Kishkinda Kānḍa, 4.43.57
"Helvegen" इति गीतस्य भाषान्तरणं कर्तुं मम प्रयासोऽयम् -
Hvem skal synge meg—————————————Who shall sing me
i daudsvevna slynge meg———————————-into the death-sleep sling me
når eg på Helvegen går————————————When I walk on the Path of Death
og dei spora eg trår er kalda, så kalda—————--and the tracks I tread are cold, so cold
Eg songane søkte——————————————-I sought the songs
Eg songane sende——————————————I sent the songs
då den djupaste brunni————————————when the deepest well
gav meg dråper så ramme——————————--gave me the drops so touched
av Valfaders pant——————————————-of Death-fathers wager
Alt veit eg, Odin———————————————--I know it all, Odin
var du gjømde ditt auge————————————where you hid your eye
enn veit ravnen om eg fell——————————--still the raven knows if I fall
Når du ved Helgrindi står ———————————When you stand by the Gate of Death
og når du laus deg må riva———————————-And you have to tear free
skal eg fylgje deg———————————————--I shall follow you
over Gjallarbrua med min song—————————--across the Resounding Bridge with my song
Du blir løyst frå banda som bind deg!———————--You will be free from the bonds that bind you!
Du er løyst frå banda som batt deg!————————--You are free from the bonds that bound that you!
Quote from Håvamål -- The High One's Speech, Poetic Edda
Døyr fe, døyr frender——————————————-Cattle die, kinsmen die
Døyr sjølv det sama——————————————--You yourself will also die
men ordet om deg aldreg døyr——————————but the word about you will never die
vinn du et gjetord gjevt—————————————--if you win a good reputation
Døyr sjølv det sama———————————————-You yourself will also die
Eg veit et som aldreg døyr————————————I know one that never dies
dom om daudan kvar——————————————-the reputation of those who died
एकं तु जानाम्यहम् अमृतम्