Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Adam's Story...



"What a poignant and breathless work. your writing style is singular, the story you told a fable of classic proportions. adam does indeed live up to his name. the elements of this work meld together to create a seamless work. once i was in, i was here till the end." 
- Mark Rockeymoor 



East announced arrival of the new day. In the orange twilight jungle had reappeared from marsh of the dark. The rising sun soon bathed the treetops. Through the slanted beams of the sunrays Adam paved his way through the dense wood. Wild animals had disappeared in the caves on the wake of the morning. Birds were chirping while perching from one to other branch scratching and stirring the profound peace of morning. Adam nibbled his way holding axe over his shoulders, silently watching the nature around him in awe.

This was his routine. Till evening he would cut and gather dry firewood to carry the heap to the colony of the white people. In the corner of the colony, like an outcaste black man, was located a depot hidden in the woods where he would sale his daily merchandise. He would not squint elsewhere on his daily detour, even to appreciate the beautiful ladies on the evening stroll. He never did understand the meaning of the world he lived in for it was so beyond his comprehension. And it didn’t matter to him, anyway.

His mind would be hectic with the thoughts on his way back as to how many pennies he’d earned that day and what provisions he could buy to support his tiny family. Sometimes he would be able to buy black bread, beans, grams and salt. Most of the times he would have to shortlist his needs depending on his earning. When the light of the day would start blending with approaching dark, he’d pull his tired legs towards his hut.

His cottage was situated amidst jungle beside a shallow pond. With his witless wife he was living in that solitary place for years. People in the village had now forgotten even to tease him for his mindless decision to dwell in forest. Neither even Adam did know why he wasn’t living in the ghetto with his fellow people or his estranged relations. But the moment he would enter the thick forest on his way back, all his tiredness would evaporate to make him feel euphoric in its presence. Flutter of the wings behind the dark branches and roaring of animal in deep ravines and rows of jumping and croaking frogs would make him feel at home. In fact nature did rule his moods. 

When rains would fall heavily with the rocking storms, he would abandon his work and sitting on the rock would watch the nature with immense curiosity. His strong black body, able enough to sustain attacks of the heavy downpour and biting cold, would feel thrilled over the outrage of the nature. He was so strong that he can’t remember when last he had fallen sick.

When a young boy and in the ghetto, in the chilling evenings, his Grandpa would tell him the stories of his youth over the drinks sitting beside the fire. His sunken sad eyes would glitter in the fleeting satisfaction, as he would tell the tales of his chasing the lion or dove in the woods under moonlit sky. And about his spending nights in the dangerous caves when all of sudden the heavy rain would pour. He would describe the fear, in a manner that Adam would feel it was he, instead, who had spent such exciting nights in the forests.

His grandpa would also tell the tales of the flooded Copper-color River and of the funny demeanor of the bears and monkeys when caught in the strange situations. He had told him how white people would be intrigued when on hunting mission, who knew not the habits of the animals and art to kill them. Adam would listen to these stories holding his breath dreaming every moment of the images of the jungles in the presence of all wildernesses. 

As he grew younger, he gradually became speechless. No one ever witnessed him even laughing or talking his heart. Anybody else would have concluded that he was a dumb. The school, a mercy taken by whites on the blacks, he had attended for some time, treated him as if he was witless for he had shown no interest in learning. Script didn’t mean to him anything or the gospels those were forced on him to recite. Instead of that gurgling na├»ve language he had started to love his own tongue that was straight like a sword and sweet like a watermelon. If some black started talking to him in English he would act as if he was a deaf. Why one needed to talk in the tongue of oppressors? He would feel sad while thinking of it. But he wouldn’t register even his protests. He wouldn’t get angry. In no way he was a revolutionary. Nor he was a thinker. But he was an observant young man. 
He knew many a stories of brutal injustice that was exacted on black people by the whites. He had witnessed many suffer only because they were blacks. This land in no way belonged to the whites, how could it when whites were outsiders? His own forefathers had ruled this land for centuries, he knew it for sure. The whites had landed there like a curse. They had enslaved blacks using their art of deception and then firearms. Though the days of slavery were over after many reforms introduced by cunning whites, yet blacks were black and had to live their life in ghettos. One still could see the scars of old brutalities on the bodies of the olden ones. It was as if allowing freedom after extracting every drop of the blood from prey. The freedom was meaningless. Original breath already had been stolen.

A new world was in making around them that was not their own. Blacks had started wearing pants detesting their own old habits and mocked at all those who still stuck to the past. Many had already converted to Christianity and would feel proud on their ability to converse in English. Ancient idols were being ridiculed. Yes, world was changing too fast to leave him behind due to lack of his abilities to adjust, no matter whether he liked it or not.

 
When his father, who was an attendant at the church for blacks, decided to have Adam married, Adam neither accepted nor dejected. For him it was another ritual. In the presence of the girls he always had felt shy. Girls’ art to bewitch young men never had appeased him. He never was in any race. He had no special affection for the life. As if a ritual he married a young witless woman. His first night of the marriage proved to be a disaster, in a way. His expectant bride sat for long a time before she begun yawning. He sat on the edge of the bed, lost in his own reveries. Bride told him finally that she was feeling asleep and that she still was virgin if that was why he didn’t touch her thinking otherwise.

Not that yearning in his young body didn’t demand actions from him. Her words soothed him and still he didn’t know how to behave with an unknown woman that was now his wife. It was finally his wife who helped him in her own ignorant way and soon everything went fine.

When in village, he was working on the warehouse. Though blacks were free they still had to depend on their physical strength to earn their livelihood for they weren’t considered as yet intelligent enough to make a good clerk or else. About him would stand piles of timber. His duty was to fix the logs before a monstrous Saw-machine that would slice the logs to planks. While placing the log in correct order he would think what a cruel this life was. The trees that has grown in the wilderness of the forests, flowering and fruiting, now like the dead naked men are lying here to suffer more humiliations. About the warehouse there were lively trees that would rustle on the breeze of the wind. He would feel guilty. Sitting on a huge log of an ancient tree, he would think, what is it that I am doing? Who has empowered me to join this sin? Could I squander my own blood relations the way I am squandering these logs? Those would be moments when he would be sitting in his own dilemma, his white supervisor would crash on him, saying, “you pig, are you paid for sitting idle? Get up or you are fired.” In a sudden fear he would rush back to his work, unmindful.

He would think, in the nights, how long he was going to sustain the pressure of his own self? One day he realized it was beyond his capacity to cope up with the circumstances. If he was free, if at all he was, he must act on his own impulses. He lacked in the guts to tell his father what he felt. By then his grandpa had been a member of the kingdom of the dead. He had no one with whom he could share his outburst.

In a deep night, when everything became unbearable to him, he said to his wife in tremulous voice, “We must go live in the forests. I can not live in the company of people. I am tired with working on the warehouse. I promise, I will feed you the same way as I am today.” Whether his wife was really dumb or not, but she said in an assuring voice, “if you say, I am with you. I too do not have any attraction left in this village. Living in the forests might be a fun…”

In fact he hadn’t expected this coming from his wife whom he had valued less from the moment he had married her. First time ever she rose in his mind like a live personality. This made him emboldened. 
In the morning, when his father was chewing a piece of pig-chop, Adam declared his intentions. His father was shocked. He rocked in the bamboo chair for moments. He had thought his son must have gone crazy. When he realized his son’s decision was final he rocked the home. He threatened, abused and wept finally when he found nothing was making any effect on his estranged son.

“Why you feel, son, like this? Isn’t it sacrilege? Why must not you live among your relatives and give birth to my grandsons and look after their future the way I all the time has done for you? Can’t you dream to be as rich as the whites are, one day? Why can’t you dream to own back our lands those are toiled by us but owned by whites? What is it that evil that has influenced you to spit at my dreams?” Was the final desperate call from his father to woo his son.

For moments, as usual, Adam gazed at his father blankly. “Father, I need nothing. Not that I have any desire left. My mind is being tortured where I do live. I want freedom. Real freedom. I do not think the false dreams ever can come true . We have lost. We have lost the war. No matter how better we can converse in English, it always will be a language of aggressors to me. I don’t want to fight. In fact I want to surrender. I just want to go back to a place where I can recollect my own shattered self. It is sin to live a life one doesn’t understand. I fail to understand our present life. No matter what riches it can bring to us. Please allow me…please”

Father watched his otherwise mute son in bewilderment. He couldn’t trust it. He leaned back and reflected. Nothing made sense.

“White men are too kind son, can’t you understand? They were one who granted us freedom. What did we know before about the world we were living in? Nothing. Didn’t they open the doors of knowledge to us? Why not use this freedom to compete with them? Why not master their art to defeat them?”

Father kept on gazing at him in great expectation, but Adam’s face remained expressionless. As if today nothing could impress him.

He said in a calm voice, “Father, even if we try to equal them we never can become alike them. They always will stand superior with their art of their own convenience. We can stand equal to them only if we can prove our way of life is superior. No imitations, please. That can not help us in any way. If we think we can equal them by learning their art, we are stupid enough to prove our forefathers were insane in their art of life. They have enslaved us with the might we lacked in. With the development of any culture inner force of the society weakens, because peace brings in that evil. Those are only vandals that are determined to enslave the civilizations for they bear no morale whatsoever, isn’t it a noted history? Does this make the vandals superior over us? Or whether there is written law to declare what society is better and what is not? Then why should we dare think whites are better only because they rule us today?”

Adam’s face was reddened like of a red-hot rod as he spoke. His father sensed in an instant that he had lost the battle. He leaned back, his face fell and his shoulders drooped. He didn’t know what to say. He started weeping. 
Adam already had searched a place amidst the jungle, where he would feel delighted to delve. Soon, with his wife and essential inventory, he left for it. Fragrance of forest made him feel at home, though it took about two days to erect his hut. He cleared the surrounding; made it sure no wild animal would dare attack his hut in its hunt mission by erecting a fence of wooden logs. To feed his tiny family he could have preferred to hunt doves and rabbits. But he had no morale to kill the innocent animal-kind that he adored.

He soon designed his own schedule for the day. The moment dawn would yawn he would leave his hut holding axe over his shoulders while appreciating the charm of the nature at his leisure. Wherever he would find barren tree or branches that could make his living, he would get to work. Never ever he had axed a living tree. There would be days when his woodcutting business had bad times due to savage rains or lashing tornadoes or he had taken a wrong course, where nothing but only mesmerizing beauty of the nature prevailed, making him unable to raise his axe. Then he would reach the river that looked like colored with copper and would try catching the fish or searching for the crab-holes.

And not that his wife was idle, she too cultivated the tiny piece of land surrounding the hut with variety of vegetables while developing her den with pigs, chicken and cows that could help them feed their barren days. He wasn’t making money, but not dying of hunger as well.

Today too Adam penetrated the depth of the jungle. Known fragrance of the woods and soil made him feel intoxicated, as if first time ever he was in the company of the nature. He stood on a mound of wet soil looking in amazement at the woods thinking what if his feet too were rooted to the earth and he enjoyed the eternity of pleasure.

He could observe the nature never was the same. Every moment it was changing. The creepers that had embraced the towering trees were blooming with the flowers. The moss was absent where the bears had rubbed their shoulders. He could notice a herd of doves just had passed for the footprints were so afresh. He heard the knocking sound of woodpecker stirring the serenity of the jungle. He was amazed. Heaps of dry leaf lay silent to mingle in the earth with the time and worms were busy making holes in them while eating the dirt. The birds perched in their own ecstasy creating the music that made tranquil forest a creative entity that could charm any living being.

Adam stood rooted to the earth in all softness entangled in the feelings of wonderment, for a while. When he was back to himself, he looked around to locate the hollow tree that would fall any day. Crossing the streamlets and croaking rows of the frogs and neglecting the curious chameleon, he approached the tree. Denseness of the forest didn’t allow sunrays to penetrate the thick pavilion of the branches. Shadows were cold enough to make him feel like shiver. Behind the dead tree, under a creeper, he watched silently a yearling smelling the leaves. He couldn’t stop appreciating the form of the yearling that would grow soon to a fawn that could challenge the speed of the winds.

Suddenly he heard commotion shattering the calmness of the forest. Yearling raised its ears and galloped to the shelter, making him feel a dream just had disappeared. When he realized what commotion it was he too rushed swiftly in safe hiding and waited till he could understand what it all was about. Through the leaves he saw, while his heart raced in terror, five-six black-men led by a white man walking down the slope talking loudly, shattering the peace of the forest. They surely weren’t on hunting mission. How could they be with all this noise? Instead each of the black man held a tin of paint in his hand. The tree white man was pointing at was being marked by his subordinates with the paint.

Adam’s breath was caught, as he understood the significance of this wild hunt. His body shivered. His axe missed his grip. It silently fell on the earth making no noise. A pain took his hold. The group that had entered the forest with brutal intentions went on marking the tall and valuable trees to disappear through the shadows. Soon, though he strained his ears, he failed to listen to their existence in the forest. He got up like a bolt and ran back towards his dwellings in a dove’s speed. His plan to cut the hollow tree now was dead.

His wife was startled at his early arrival. Looking at his distraught face her heart jumped. She ran to him, asking what had gone wrong. Adam was in no mood to answer. He stood still. Life, as if, was draining out of him. He lifelessly sat on a rock, blankly watching the setting sun. His wife, in an anticipation of explanation, waited sitting to his feet knowing not what had gone wrong with her husband. Sun disappeared casting the veil of darkness over the world. Adam, as if, had lost his tongue. His eyes were showering tears in mute succession.

Suddenly he held hands of his wife and said in a heart-rending voice, “This forest will be destroyed. The soil will crack in absence of the shadow. The river will stop flowing in its eternal pace. They have entered this forest with evil determination to destroy it. They are valuing every tree in currency, when money has no entity except a mean of barter. Like the mercenaries they are marking the trees to assail them one day. No more there will be this bewitching forest that has been breathing in its own pace.”

Tears rolled down from his eyes in deep agony. Outburst of his grief knew no bounds. He cursed for his helplessness. Had he enough power he would have hanged the culprits. His wife sat mutely, still not understanding why her husband was mourning over the woodcutting. She still wanted to soothe him, held his hand and caressed. She too wanted to say something that could help him. But she too felt her throat was choked. Tears trickled down from her eyes too.

“Better we have no kids.” Said he sobbing while trying to wipe his wet face. He glanced at the heaving nature on the evening wind with deep yearning. Imagining that one day nothing will exist around, just barren landscape and distant memories, he again felt like weeping. Every tree was like a god. It couldn’t be valued with money. Why they can’t understand this simple truth? What makes them so selfish? What was this legacy anyway? 
He was too ignorant to understand this.

“Better we don’t have kids!” He said again in a vehemence that startled his grief-stricken wife. “They are unwelcome on this earth that is full of ruthless people. They must not suffer these brutalities. But we must live…we must suffer…we must watch how brutally they destroy this forest that has been existing for centuries. Known surrounding will disappear soon to make us feel what was the world all about we’d witnessed! Memories too will fade soon…must we wait the death sitting on this barren land…”

Adam held close his ignorant wife and sobbed. The dark shrouded the jungle in its silent pace. Unaware of its destiny, sinless animal-kind was awakening in the glens and in deep woods. Birds were still busy building their nests while singing the songs of life. Trees, bushes and creepers were busy adjusting with the change of guard of the time. Every being together was giving the meaning to the existence of the forest. An eternal music of survival was echoing from every quarter.

The witless man, Adam, kept on weeping incessantly burying his head over his wife’s shoulder.   

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bhrigus of Rig Veda!

We have seen in the last article that the Atharvan’s of Bhrigu clan and Athravan’s, the fire priests of Zoroastrian religion have no connection whatsoever. Both the classes were distinct and independent of each other. We have to search for the Bhrugus elsewhere, rather in India where in most of the mythologies they are a prominent figure. Many scriptures are ascribed to them including Atharva Veda. In fact religious history of India cannot be written without mention of Bhrigus or Bhargavas as they are so overwhelmingly mentioned almost everywhere including great epic Mahabharata.

We have seen that the Bhrigu, the progenitor of the Bhrigu clan had become a distant memory in Rig Vedic times. Rather he had become a mythical figure or he was just a personification of the fire in whose name the clan was originated. He is said to have introduced Soma and Fire ritual to the mankind. But if looked carefully at the myth it will appear that it has been fabricated in later times to elevate supremacy of the Bhrigus over other seers of Rig Veda. Vedic people were pastoral community and lighting the campfire in the night for the protection and warmth would be but natural to them while on the distant grazing fields. The rituals around the fire would have been developed slowly in different camps along with the art to construct fire altars through that practice. Vedic religion did not begin suddenly, but had rudimentary tradition of ritualistic practices around fire before it evolved to the formative stage.

Who were the Bhrigus then? 

As far as Rig Veda is concerned Bhrigu and Jamdagni together has been credited for composition of hymn 65th of Ninth book. 19th hymn of tenth book is together credited to Bhrigu, Mathit and Chyavan. According to Rig Veda original Bhrigu was son of Varuna. We have seen in earlier chapters that Varuna was revered with epithet “Asura” when Vedic people maintained cordial relationship with Asura culture that was broken in later times.

In Rig Veda Bhrigu is mentioned 18 times, out of which 17 times they are mentioned in plural. There are various mythical stories about Bhrigu’s birth that appear in Aitareya, Taittiriy, Gopatha Brahmana and elsewhere including Mahabharata. According to Aitareya Brahmana he was born of Prajapati’s manly vigor, according to Gopatha Brahmana he was born of Brahma’s sweat and according to Taittiriya Brahmana he was born of Indra’s manly vigor. From Rig Vedic account we find him as Son of Varuna. Looking at the various myths, it seems that by the time compositions of Rig Veda and Atharva Veda had begun people had almost forgotten the origin of Bhrigu.

However we have other mythologies associated with Bhrigu’s and his clan as well. They suggest that the Bhrigu was an ancient and larger clan spread all over the Indian subcontinent acting in the capacity of the Shamanic warrior-priests. The Shaivait and Atharvan religion preceded Vedic religion and was related to Asura culture to which Bhrigus served as priests. In short it was the name of the priestly class.
To make this point let us have a look at the available history of the Bhrigu’s from Rig Veda.

FROM RIG VEDA

We have seen above that there are only two hymns from ninth and tenth books have been composed by Bhrigu along with his close relatives. Both the books are considered to be younger than rest of the Rig Vedic books. Though not necessarily every book contains all the hymns chronologically from point of view of their period of composition but the classification is mostly done subject wise hence there is obvious mixing of the hymns. Some hymns might be oldest or some might be even younger even they appear in generally classified book as older.

From Rig Veda we can see the strange roles performed by the Bhrigus over the time till end of the Rig Vedic composition period. The seventh book of Rig Veda is considered to be one of the oldest. Battle of Ten Kings has been described in this book. We see in this most famous ancient war Bhrigus were assembled along with other kings as enemy of King Sudasa of Bharata clan.

Also it appears that it was Vishwamitra who allied forces against Sudasa after deserting him for his enmity with Seer Vasishtha over priesthood. It should be noted here that all the kings those had assembled against Sudasa for war were non-performers of Vedic fire rituals. (Ayajjya)

This makes it clear that the Bhrigus, who were one amongst Sudasa’s enemies, too were non-performer of Vedic fire rituals. Though the battle was won by Sudasa, we have to see the religious implications of it because the main reason behind the war was the religious conflict.

The main question I want to raise here when the battle did took place? Was it before the composition of seventh book or after the composition of third book which is attributed to Vishvamitra?

The question is pertinent because after the war Vishwamitra too was one of the vanquished. We do not get any authentic account from Rig Veda what did happen to him after the war. It was natural that King Sudasa would not entertain him again and there was no question of Bhrigus to join him as they already were his enemy. Though Rig Veda does give account of deceased soldiers of enemy in the battle, it does not speak of Sudasa’s loss. However we can imagine that the victory wouldn’t have been easy and without human loss to him.

It would be but natural to think that the Book Three was already composed or the composition had started by Vishwamitra before the war took place, making it somewhat older that Book Seven.
Still a question remains that how the compositions of his enemy would have been preserved or used in the rituals by other seers of Sudasa when Vishvamitra had deserted him to gather enemy forces? Or would it have happened that Vishwamitra carried his compositions along with him and preserved them, made further additions independently? What was his clan’s geographical location when Rig Veda was collected painstakingly by some other person of later times?

We are raising questions here because the same applies to Bhrigus. Sudasa was enemy of Bhrigus in whose clan it is supposed the entire Rig Veda was composed through many generations. But desertion of Vishvamitra in early times makes this assumption doubtful. We get the list of some Rig Vedic kings, friendly and enemy to the Sudasa clan, but obviously is incomplete and chronology is not certain. Vishvamitra might have joined as priest to one of the ten kings those fought the battle against Sudasa. Almost 11 kings from Bharata clan are mentioned in Trig Veda including Sudasa.

Now let us look at the approximate period that might have taken to compose whole Rig Veda. It is clear that over three hundred fifty seers have contributed to Rig Veda of Ten prominent seer families. The most ancient are Angira, Rahugana and Kushika in whose name just one or two verses are recorded. We do not know what the ritualistic practices were when Rig Vedic religion was under early formation. We also do not know for sure what religion Bharatas were practicing before they founded Vedic religion!

We need to deal with those questions because Vedic religion has a beginning, though we as yet have not closed the issue of its period. It might have taken 250 to 350 years because it doesn’t seem that the compositions were consecutive. There are intermittent lapses and re-continuations of the compositions of Rig Veda.

When the battle of ten kings took place? We have seen that the Bhrigus were at the enemy side of the Sudasa. The entry of Bhrigus or Bhargavas does seem about closing period of Rig Vedic compositions. So we can safely deduce that after lapse of the 12 to 15 generations from the date of the battle of ten kings, Bhrigus entered the Vedic tradition.  Staunch enemy of Bharatas and especially Rig Vedic religious practices, Bhrigus, entering into Rig Vedic tradition may seem surprising prima facie but through myths we can get an idea why some Bhrigus would have abandoned their traditional phallic worship practices.

Prominently mentioned Bhargavas in Rig Veda are Bhrigu, Chyavana and Jamdagni. We should not confuse here with the identical names appearing in mythologies. The Bhrigu here is not obviously progenitor of Bhrigu clan but his one of the descendents or a person bearing the same name. Jamdagni here is not the same whom we also know as father of Parshuram. Over the generations same name adopted or given is a common practice throughout the world. There are other Bhargavas too, like Bharga Praghata, Bhriguvaruni, Syumarashmi, Ita, Kavi, Nema, Somahuti and Vena those have contributed to Rig Veda.

Unfortunately we do not get a hint from Rig Veda of their genealogy except Anukramani, a composition of later times. We are not sure how reliable it is, still we will discuss on it in the next chapter.

However we can identify these names with the Bhrigu or later known as Bhargava clan. After lapse of so many generations it is quite possible that the some of the Bhrigu’s entered Rig Vedic stream, contributed to it. This does mean that the some of the later Bhrigu’s had almost forgotten the ancient enmity over the religious issue and rather had embraced Rig Vedic faith or these Bhargava’s could be from another branch not minding ancient enmity.

By this time the clan of Sudasa was at decline. The last generations of Rig Vedic seers had to depend on the alms and donations from the Panis and Dasyus to whom Rig Vedic seers of early ages carried sever animosity and condemned them immensely at every given occasion. The Danastuti’s (Praises of Donor’s) mention various kings and magnates like Trasadasyu, Ribhu. Bubu, Balavatthu etc. from whom Rig Vedic seers received various kinds of donations. It also appears from this that the Vedic seers like Atri, Kanva etc. had started to conduct sacrificial rituals for fees during this period

It was not that the Non- Vedic people had abandoned their own ritualistic culture, i.e. phallic worship. They stuck to it but out of secularist thought of those times, or may be at the behest of those Bhrigus who had joined Rig Vedic stream.

In earlier period, the enmity between two religious groups was so severe that these phallic worshipers would destroy the fire sacrifices. (RV 7/21/5 and 10/21/3). In all probabilities all the kings those fought against Sudasa too belonged to the phallic worship religion including Bhrigus.

But the decline of Sudasa clan or the previous patron and entry of Bhrigu’s could not be a just coincidence. It was essential for the Rig Vedic priests of that period to find new patronage and they found it amongst Das/Dasyu and Panis. We do not know for sure what the reasons behind Sudasa clans decline were. We also are not sure in absence of sufficient proofs that whether all seers continued to compose Rig Veda under patronage of a single royal clan or more those had embraced Rig Vedic faith. However it is clear from the Danastuti they had lost previous patronage and had to find new. And it seems those were Bhrigus who came to their rescue.

Let us not forget here that the Bhrigus and Atharvans were already established priestly class of Asura kings and magnates. Their original ritualistic practices were entirely different and essentially centered around idolatry, unlike Fire Sacrifice rituals of Vedic people.

The Bhrigu including Atharvan clan was the largest and spread all over Indian sub-continent in the capacity of warrior priests. They maintained their own armies and castles and even participated in wars. Even so their entry in Rig Vedic stream is startling. We need to find out why some Bhargavas embraced Vedic faith. In next chapter we will go through their non-Vedic history and try to solve a great riddle…

How Rig Vedic religion spread in India?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Was the Caste a reason to kill Mahatma Gandhi?

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination has always been a subject of controversy. There still is a majority of people that support and admire Nathuram Godse, the murderer, for his so-called brave act of assassinating and old and frail man . To justify the murder, they have ample of so called valid reasons, such as Gandhiji’s appeasement of Muslim’s, Gandhiji’s fast to force Indian Government to pay Rs. 55 crore to Pakistan and partition itself and so on.

Fact is otherwise. Attempts on Gandhiji’s life were made various times prior to his death, first being in 1934 and third in 1944. There were no talks of Pakistan then, so there was no question of partition or Rs. 55 crore. Nahuram Godse led three murder attempts and succeeded finally on 30th January 1948.

Doesn’t this fact prove that Nathuram was determined to assassinate Mahatma for quite some time?

So it is clear that plan was hatched to kill Gandhi long before partition and related invented issues. Prior to Gandhi’s entry in Indian politics, Muslim appeasement was already was at helm under the leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Lucknow Pact was signed by Tilak himself, that granted separate electorates to the Muslims. In this particular case Gandhi just followed the policy of his predecessor Bal Tilak. Muslim’s, Savarkar and even Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had acknowledged inevitability of the Two-Nation-Theory. In fact Gandhi was only man who till his death had opposed the very idea of partition. Gandhi even denied separate electorates to any other community in his life time though had to bear tremendous pressure from the other leaders including Dr. Ambedkar.

So the logic provided to support murderer doesn’t stand on any ground.

Now the question arises, why after all Gandhi was assassinated?

What was the exact reason behind most gruesome murder of an apostle of the peace?

Now we need to look at the scenario that existed then in Indian society. No need to mention India has been a rigid caste-based society. Brahmins being ranking top in the social order and Shudra’s at the bottom. In Indian history Shudra’s were denied even basic rights. As per Vedic theology only two Varna’s being existent, Brahmin and Shudra in Kaliyuga. The untouchables were treated as Avarna’s, having no class at all! Gandhi, as he belonged to Baniya (Trader) caste, was Shudra, ranking lowest in the Vedic social order. Shudra simply mean here the peopel those do not belong to the Vedic religion. Having no rights over Vedic rites!

Here we must not forget that Vedicism had tightened its grip over Non-Vedic religion of the masses. For at least over thousand years Vedic Brahmins practically had led Indian masses, by hook or by crook...because of the circumstantial opportunities in religion as well as in administration. During Peshava era, Chitpavani Brahmins had become de-facto rulers of the most part of the country. Because of this, particularly Maharashtrian Brahmins, thought themselves belonging to the Ruling class, the way Muslim’s too campaigned in the same line during that period.

In a way, both Muslims and Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra had one thing in common that both were under conviction that they being the rulers of the past of the country should not lose their historical position after independence.

During the same time, almost entire India had fallen to the impeccable charm and saintly warmth of Gandhi, a phenomena that never ever had occurred in the Indian History. A low caste Hindu person becoming absolute leader was the last thing Brahmins of Maharashtra would have anticipated and tolerated. The fact was that no matter how deeply they hated him, were unable to replace him with new leadership of their favor for Gandhi's phenomenal existence.

They tried to find their leadership in Vi. Da. Savarkar after his release from Andman. meanwhile, in 1925, a fanatic Hinduist organization, Rashtriya Svayansevak Sangh (RSS), was formed with a aim to unite Hindu people under Vedic leadership. Success of Hitler of Germany was their idol. Golwalkar Guruji openly commended his ways and plead Muslim's of India too should meet with the fate of Jews. Naturally they did not like the Gandhian ways of unarmed revolution. Savarkar openly criticized Gandhi heavily. Nathuram Godse was his staunch follower. However it shortly dawned on the both fanatic wings that it was impossible to replace Gandhiji with Vedic leadership, hence they had no choice but remove him.

Also Brahmins could see it inevitable that the new political order after independence will adhere to the democratic principles and that the democracy will sabotage their historical dominance. Winning of Gandhi was winning of democracy, thus placing orthodox Vedic Brahmins in sheer minority.

We can imagine how frustrated some orthodox groups would have been and reacted. Savarkar, after his Andaman episode had turned Hindutvavadi (Vedicists), thinking Hinduist policy could attract Hindu’s in masses towards him, but apparently failed. Also one should not forget his idols were fascists. He always dreamt for armed revolution. Naturally he could not tolerate Gandhian way of non-violence that was succeeding to the heights no one could ever dream of. Gandhi stood strong in their fanatic ways!

Had he been successful, Savarkar bringing armed revolution, charging entire nation and get freedom; the whole scenario after independence would have been entirely different, but not to his avail. It was phenomenal success of Gandhiji that was bringing Independence closer, not by any violent acts committed by the handful of revolutionaries.

Adding to their frustration was a fact that even Gandhiji being of low caste, many secular Brahmins too had become Gandhi's staunch followers. Maharashtrian, especially Chitpavan Brahmins, couldn't tolerate losing their dominance over populace they had strived for! The hardcore fanatics finally were left with no option but to kill Gandhi! The attempts to kill him began in 1934 when there was no issue those are being portrayed by the supporters of Nathuram Godse or Savarkar, except that Gandhiji was gaining phenomenal popularity and command over freedom movement, leaving far behind the class that thought they were one destined to rule the country! They designed the plan to assassinate Gandhiji, attempted four times and finally succeeded in the last.

We should take the note of a fact that the outburst of communal riots killing about a million Hindu and Muslim took place in bordering and partition-affected regions. No Hindu or even a Muslim, who truly was badly affected by that insanity, ever thought of killing Gandhi holding him responsible for the inhuman bloodbath.

Then how come that a bunch of people sitting in Maharashtra, spreading out Bunches of hateful thoughts,  having not even a single scratch over their body as a result of communal riots held Gandhi responsible for the partition and the aftermath? Writing his death sentence? Doesn't it seem insane?

Yes...but insanity was committed!

Hence, looking at the history, I can state that Gandhi was killed because he belonged to lower caste and his dominance and spell over Indian masses had became intolerable for the Vedic people from Maharashtra those belonged to the caste of Peshava’s, former rulers of India.

Otherwise there is no plausible reason behind that gruesome act that shook the world. Gandhiji's fast was not for immediate release of Rs. 55 crore but for the restoration of peace in riot-affected Delhi. Gandhiji was not in anyway responsible for the partition. It was actually made inevitable when Bal Tilak had signed Lucknow pact that assigned separate electorates to the Muslims.

Then, looking at all the circumstances surrounding assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, we find no plausible, logical reason to it except that it was his caste that made him intolerable to the so-called high caste people of Maharashtra those thought who belonged to the former ruling class!

We need to re-access the true reasons behind assassination of Gandhiji in the light of above facts!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ATHARVA VEDA AND ATHRAVAN’S OF AVESTA

 Athravan Priests

                                                     (Athravan Priests) 


 In Indian tradition Atharva Veda is considered to be fourth and last Veda. The mainstream Vedic cult did not admit this book as Veda in their fold till very late period. Only three Veda’s, i.e. Rig, Sam and Yajur Veda’s were recognized by them for their sacrificial rituals.

Also the tradition is to consider Atharva Veda to be younger and last in the Vedic compositions. Main reason behind this, it is postulated that the Atharva Veda is not meant for sacrificial purpose. Rather it is all about occultist practices, mostly followed by Atharvan priests for charms, omens or casting evil spells to cure from various deceases, victories over enemies, safeguarding people from epidemics etc. Atharva Veda also carries seeds of spiritual science that later have been expounded in 52 Upanisada’s. Other Veda’s too at some or other places have carried the occultist’s elements, but it is not main subject of them. In a way Atharva Veda is book of charms.

Atharva Veda is special. The priestly class (Atharvan) of Atharva Veda was also known as “Kshatra-Brahmin” (Warrior Priests) as they not only conducted various rituals for Kings and nobles but participated in the wars as well. In fact in ancient times Atharvan religion, based on Atharva Veda was treated independent of all other religions. The main reason behind this was the Atharva Veda’s verses are not at all meant for sacrificial rituals. Its purpose, context and application were far different than of Vedic religion. Interestingly Atharva Veda does not mention Varna system anywhere, which too makes it unique.

Originally this Veda was called “Atharvangirasa Veda” (Composed by Atharva and Angira) or “Bhrigvangirasa Veda (Composed by Bhrigu’s and Angirasa’s). Originally both the Atharva (Bhrugu) and Angirasa Veda’s might have been separate books those were assimilated together in the later times, to be called as “Atharva Veda”. What contained in them when they were separate we might never know or we even does not know whether Angiras Veda survived or not. However Atharva Veda as is available at the present is in polluted and interpolated form as some portion of Rig Veda is attached to the body of Atharva Veda. It was done in an order to secure a seat in Rig Vedic tradition.

WHO COMPOSED IT?

The credit of composition of Atharva Veda is given to the Bhrugu clan. Interestingly Bhrugu clan seems to have played a vital role in the Indo-Iranian religious system. Tarkateertha Laxman Shastri Joshi in his “Vaidik Sanskruticha Itihas” states that the Bhrigu’s were from non-Aryan stock. Dr. Padmanabhayya opines that Bhrigu’s were of Dravidian origin whereas Shrikant Talageri opines that Bhrigu’s were of Iranian origin. So there is no agreement among the scholars about origin of the Bhrigu’s.

Bhrigu’s are not mentioned in Avesta. However Shrikant Talageri thinks, since the Zoroastrian priests were called Athravans and Vedic Atharvans being of Bhrigu clan, Bhrigu’s might have associated with Avestan tradition, at the least in the beginning.

While Rig Veda was under construction, Bhrigu had become a distant memory, a pre-historical or mythical person or clan to the Vedic people. Rig Veda mentions Bhrigu’s 18 times out of which 17 times they are addressed in plural. Bhrigu’s and Angirasa’s are important families of Rig Veda.

The etymology of the both names is said to be related with fire, however from Gopath Brahmana (Only Brahmana scripture associated with Atharva Veda) it appears that “Angirasa” term evolved from “Angarasa”, which means he who born from sweat of Brahma. This etymology does not match with the fire origin of Angirasa’s.

Rig Veda respectfully mentions that Bhrigu’s introduced fire and Soma rituals to Vedic people. Aitareya Brahmana states a myth that Aditya, Bhrigu and Angira were together born of Prajapati’s semen. (3.34). This myth makes Bhrigu and Angira blood brothers. However it is a myth and not necessarily to be taken seriously.

There is no dispute that the Bhrigu and Angirasa were become historical when composition of Rig Veda had begun. The descendents of both the clans have participated in composition of Rig Veda as well; though Bhrigu’s entered composition of Rig Veda in the late period.

Atharvan’s are referred as sons of Bhrigu. However they might be distant descendents in the lineage of Bhrigu.

Though both the families, especially Angirasa’s, having two books of Rig Veda to their credit, they also have composed Angirasa Veda, which is not available at the present or it is incorporated in Atharva Veda as subject matter of both the books (Bhrigu and Angirasa Veda) were similar.

Though it is general opinion that Atharva Veda is younger, it is younger in the sense of when it got authenticity as Vedic scripture, not in the sense of its composing. According to Tarkateertha Laxmanshastri Joshi, some part of Atharva Veda predates even Rig Veda. We can surmise from this that the Atharva Veda was being composed separately but almost simultaneously along with Rig Veda, may be at different places and in different clans branched from original ones. This also can be supported by other proof that the Rig Vedic Gods like Indra, Varuna etc. are not depicted as glorious as they are in Rig Veda. It seems that to Atharvan people these gods had lost their importance.

Also a peculiar fact is Rig Veda is composed by almost 350 seers from ten Rig Vedic Seer families over generations whereas Atharva Veda is composed by the seers of only Bhrigu and Angirasa family. The names of the composers of verses do seldom appear in Atharva Veda and that too of mainly mythical persons.

So, to conclude in short, the Atharvan’s who composed Atharva Veda were together known by their family name. The priests of later times those performed Atharva Vedic charms and rituals too were called as Atharvan.

AVESTA AND ATHRAVANS

The role of Atharvan’s (Ave. Athravan) is highly important in the Zoroastrian religion which too is based on fire rites, though of different kind than of Vedic. Athravan means Fire-guardian; the attendant of the sacred fire in Persian temples; the proper word for a priest in the Avesta. His main religious duty is to perform Yasna (Sk. Yadnya, i.e. Fire sacrifice) and protect sacred fire.

Interestingly, in Avesta too Athravans are associated with Asura’s. Shrikant Talageri suggests “Angra” in Avesta are none but Angirasa’s of Vedic tradition. In Avesta “Angra Mainue” is head of the demons or evil spirits (Ave. Daeva’s). If Talageri is correct then it would mean that the Bhrigu’s and Angirasa’s of Avestan Asura culture were rivals, unlike what they have been depicted in Indian tradition. In Vedic tradition, as we have seen above, Bhrigu and Angira’s were blood brothers and in their clan whole Veda was composed along with their active participation in composing of Rig Veda as well!

Also, we must note here that the Atharvan’s in Vedic tradition, though some have attempted to associate them with fire, their Veda is not meant for fire sacrificial rituals at all. Rather in structure, practice and content it stands contrary to other Veda’s. This was the very reason why Atharva Veda till late times did not receive recognition as forth “Veda”.

Etymology of Avestan “Athravan” still is uncertain. However its origin could be traced to Avestan “Atar”, which means holy fire. Since duty of the Athravan’s was to protect fire, the term Athravan might have evolved from Atar…. Athravan…who protects the holy fire!

According to K. Hoffmann, (Avestische Laut- und Flexionslehre, 2nd ed., 2004) Atar got associated with Athravan by folk etymology. There also are claims that the Vedic Atharvan is a loan word from Iranians. The social status of Athravan’s was as priestly servant of the kings and Magnates, which does not speak for their high status or spiritual authority. (The Broken World of sacrifices: An essay in Ancient Indian Ritual by J. C. Heesterman)

Whatsoever may be the case, Athravan’s of Avesta were mere fire priests. There are no Gathic or Avestan compositions to their credit as we have to Atharvan’s of Vedic tradition. Athravan’s were not blood related but a group selected carefully as priests from different families. In later times Magu’s (Magi or Magavan) replaced Athravan’s as priests, thus putting an end to Athravan tradition.

It does mean that the Atharvan’s of Indian tradition has no relation whatsoever with the Athravan’s of Avestan tradition except the similarity in the title they bear. This also may be evident from the fact that the Athravan’s in Avestan tradition is collective name of the priests; it does not refer to any particular clan. The duties of Athravan’s as fire priests are well defined in Vendidad.

Or it may mean that the Athravan tradition of Avesta predated Vedic tradition and that a rival clan from Avestan Athravan tradition split to form entirely new religion that did not require fire rites at all! The myth of Atharva being Bhrigu’s son was fabricated in later times to authenticate independent Atharvan tradition when in India.

Angirasa and Angra Mainyu

Shrikant Talageri suggests Angirasa’s and Angra Mainyu of Avesta being same. We have seen that etymology of Angirasa too is uncertain. Either the word evolved from “Angara” which means blazing coal or “Anga Rasa” which means fluid (Sweat) from the body. Looking at the style of Indian mythologies, the persons of unknown origin but those are revered by tradition are considered to be born from Brahma or Shiva’s some body part or fluid. Angirasa, according to Gopath Brahmana, is born from Brahma’s sweat. This makes this etymology even unbelievable. Angirasa’s clan was also involved in composing of Rig Veda, almost two books to their credit and Rig Veda being related with fire ritual, making Angirasa’s connected with fire could have been the reason behind this vague etymology.

But how it can be connected with Avestan Angra? Zoroaster in the Gatha’s composed by himself does not use Angra Mainyu term for the person or persons but to the evil, destructive spirits or minds. For good spirits, Zoroaster uses the term “Spenta Mainyu”. There is an eternal conflict between good and bad spirits that is depicted in Avesta. Hence considering Angra of Avesta and Angirasa of Veda’s one and the same would be a fatal mistake, such as made by Shrikant Talageri.

BHRIGU

We have seen few Indian traditional myths surrounding Bhrigu’s. We also have seen that before Rig Veda came to being composed Bhrigu’s had been a distant memory. From Indian tradition it appears that the Bhrigu’s were closely connected with Asura culture and that they introduced fire to the mankind along with the Soma ritual. The seers from this clan also participated in composing of the Rig Veda. Bhrigu’s son Shukracharya was Guru of Asura’s. In previous chapter we also have seen that Rig Veda too in the beginning revered Asura tradition by respectfully addressing their God’s with epithet “Asura”.

“Bhrigu” name derives from the root bhrk, meaning the blazing of the fire’ professed immense reverence towards the elements of fire on earth viz the life and warmth-giving Sun and the Fire. However some Sanskrit Scholars believe that the root bhrk or bhraj and word Bhrigu may not be of Sanskrit origin.

Bhrigu tradition is peculiar in their possessing different faiths and representing rival sides. Shukracharya was Guru of Asura’s. Vishvamitra had taken part in composing Rig Vedic hymns and later deserted Vedic people to gather a team of rival kings to fight against his earlier patron. Jamadagni was an Atharvan priest who in later times turned out to be enemy of his patron king Sahastrarjuna. His son Parashuram annihilated the family of Sahastrarjuna by attacking his capital several times. Interestingly Parshuram was devotee of Lord Shiva, a Non-Vedic God.

From Rig Veda it would mean that the original Bhrigu, Atharva or Angira were not the humans but fire element personified and in later ages came in to the use as noun. Whereas the Athravans of Avesta are directly associated with fire rituals as priests, and have no mythical origin as Vedic tradition has for Atharvans.

How can Athravan and Atharvan be said to be same then? Atharvan is the name of the family members/descendents of Atharva, but Athravan is a mere title of the fire priest. Again it must be remembered that the Atharvan’s as composers and followers of Atharva Vedic tradition of charms were not fire priests.

From above we can sum up as follows;

1. Athravans of Avesta and Atharvans of Atharva Veda were different entities, not related in any way with each other.Though the words are similar, meaning of the both in two traditions is entirely different.

2.Bhrigu clan was independent of Avestan and Vedic tradition. They had mastered over the art of charms and had earned a special reputation in the larger geographical area maintaining independent identity.

3. Some people of this clan might have joined Vedic tradition composing some hymns of Rig Veda. The word Atharvan appearing in the Rig Veda might be the act of those Bhrigu’s.

4. Angirasa’s of Rig Veda and Angirasa’s as composers of Angirasa Veda can be different group that branched from the same family.

5. Angra of Avesta and Angirasa of Veda’s cannot be same as thought by Mr. Talageri.

6. Similarity between Athravan and Atharvan is though obvious the etymologies does not match with each other. Athravan word is ancient and has been used in Avestan tradition for short period, it is possible that Vedic’s loaned it to use this word in different manner or it is a co-incidence that the terms evolved independently, sounding similar but having different meanings.

So what does it mean?

First of all above discussion does not support OIT, AMT or AIT theory. It clearly suggests that the Avestan tradition is anterior to Vedic tradition.

It also suggests though there are some sorts of exchange of ideas in both the religions, both the groups had independent tribal traits.

The third religion of Bhrigu’s i.e. Atharvan’s and Angirasa’s, been also anterior to Vedic religion and had sprouted independently in the same region where Vedic religion was about to emerge. This clarifies why most revered Rig Vedic Gods become secondary and demigods to Atharvan’s. It also appears that the Atharvans could have loaned many Tantric ritualistic concepts from the sub-continent and used them in their book in a peculiar manner. 

When and how did Atharvan religion of Atharva Veda and the religion of Rig Veda came together to form one with making adjustments in their scriptures, are the vital questions….

And most important question is how this Rig Vedic religion traveled to present India and who spread it with missionary zeal is the most important question to which we need to find the answers.

We shall deal with these questions in next installment.