Monday, October 15, 2007

We've done that long back??

I just finished reading a novel called Mahabrahmana by Devudu (1). In short it narrates the story of King Kaushika becoming Vishwamitra Rishi. How a Kshatriya King becomes one of the Brahmarishis and also attains the Brahminhood is the crux of the story. Vishvamitra, which actually means ‘one who is a friend to the entire universe’ is one of the most venerated rishi’s or sages since ancient times in India. The book chronicles the long process (yes, it involves katinn tapasya and many enticing 'tests' by Indra!) through which he finally becomes a brahmin. Why I found the book interesting is that it propounds a strange theory of attaining ‘brahmin’ identiy.
According to the novel, Vishwamitra while he had almost become a brahmin was asked by other Brahmarishis to find an easy way to make a non-aryan, an aryan. Did I see you wince? Wait, let me complete. Not only was Vishwamitra successful in completing the assigned job but he was amply rewarded for his achievement.
All along I had considered Upanayanam as a phase in boys lives when they learn
Gayatri mantra so as to practice it, atleast twice every day. I had little knowledge about this Mantra except that it is considered most sacred and women are not to chant it. Many years ago a friend who used to religiously scribble the mantra continuously in a book (actually to prevent himself from sleeping in the class but he would never own it up!) tried to educate me about it, but I had not paid much attention nor interest.
I came to know from this novel that Vishwamitra is credited as the author of Gayatri mantra. According to the novel Vishwamitra gave to the world the Gayatri Mantra when he was asked by the other Brahamarishis to find an easy way for the layman to become a Brahmin. So Gayatri Mantra is the easiest way as thought of by the ancient aryans for the aryanisation of the entire world!!
Now, I had heard many things about Gayathri mantra, but that it was created to lift the non-aryans(sudras) to the fold of Aryans was never ever known to me. We have been made to believe that Gayathri is most sacred mantra and it is forbidden to women and all others. But it is not so. Vishwamitra and et al believed that if practiced regularly with clear conscience, the chanting of Gayatri Mantra would lead to the highest spiritual illumination. Since Gayathri is nothing but an earnest prayer for Light, addressed to the Supreme Almighty Spirit, it is universally applicable irrespective of creed, sect, caste or gender. Gods invoked by this Mantra Agni, Vayu and aditya would influence the transformation of the individual practicing it. The enormous power weilded by the 24-syllabled (three lines of eight syllables each) Gayatri mantra, prayer of praise offered to the God Savitr is demonstrated by Vishwamitra. In the novel he shows how a pack of non-brahmins can get the awakening of spiritual enlightenment/power of a Brahmin through the constant chanting of Gayatri.
So if Christianity and Islam have been doing it since past 2000 years, we had thought of the vision and means for conversion eons ago. Isn’t it? This is something everybody who says that our ‘religion’ does not permit conversion ought to know. I have always understood, if not shared the angst of people like Karunanidhi. The powerful trample upon the belief systems of the weak. Our system of belief says that all spiritual practices are a vehicle for intent. Direct experience of That Which is Beyond Words is possible through right spiritural practices. For the outsider it is possible only if he/she accepts that there is That Which is Beyond Words and a direct expereince of That is possible. It is like, you are not like us hence you are an outsider. You will be acceptable only when you completely accept everthing accepted by us and reject the things rejected by us. But we don't mind you as an outsider as well!!
1)As far as I know Devudu lived like a Rishi (there is no equivalent word for Rishi in English. Sage, Monk, saint, seer etc does not exactly reflect the concept of Rishi ) during the first half of 20th century. And he wrote many books about great people from ancient India. There is not a single word about him in Mahabrahmana though it has a prelude to the novel by Devudu and a blurb that contains excerpt from the prelude. Google does not know anything about Devudu. Somehow I have always been skeptical about the entire google phenomena. A day might come when if you don’t find it on google then it will be considered not worth the efforts. But its sad and more importantly i feel its not right. Conversely everything you find on google cannot be held sacrosanct. There are pages and pages of information about fictional diseases, which have been uploaded to push the credibility factor for the reader. Its all about linking and uploading. How I hate the sight of Alice turning cynical!!

No comments: