Friday December 6, 2019

How modern was Indian Mythology? Read here the story of Ahalya-Rama that has power to transform society!

Ahalya is one of the Panchakanyas is believed to be the wife of Rishi Gautama, according to the Hindu mythology

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Lord Rama. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Hindu scriptures have always mesmerised people in India and people across the globe with its poetic verses. The detailing of the stories, powerful characters, interesting plots and much more are the qualities that make a reader glued to Hindu mythologies such as- Puranas, MangalKāvya. The stories might appear simple but when one delves deep, they can find the true meaning of the stories. Philosophers, Historians have agreed that the stories in the Hindu scriptures are layered and need to be analysed for better understanding. They aren’t just a random thought of the poets but the proper history of the ages.

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According to the Hindu mythologies, five Kanyas (Panchakanya) are mentioned in the texts, who established the bravery and strength of Indian women as an individual, apart from fulfilling the responsibilities of being a mother or a wife. Ahalya is one of the Panchakanyas who needs no introduction, as she is believed to be the wife of Rishi Gautama. The section of Ramayana that narrates about her, explains how three men affected her life.

Ahalya-Rama, Wikimedia Commons
Ahalya-Rama, Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ahalya was described as the beautiful lady on whom Devraj Indra got attracted to, due to her charm. On one unfortunate dawn, Rishi Gautama went to the river for religious practices and Indra took the form of the Rishi went to Ahalya. Ahalya didn’t recognise the culprit and served him as she used to. When the clone was leaving Rishi Gautama saw him and Ahalya understood that she was betrayed. Not aware of the situation, Rishi Gautama accused his wife and cursed her to be a ‘stone’. In Treta Yuga, Rama accompanied by Rishi Viswamitra turned the stone to the living being and freed Ahalya from the curse, with the touch of his feet.

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For the better understanding of the history, one should delve deep to find the true meaning. Rabindranath Tagore interpreted Rama as a social changer who left the kingdom and palace to give people a more practical path to living in a better manner.

Ahalya, Wikimedia commons
Ahalya, Image source: Wikimedia commons

Rama and Viswamitra, believer of Karma or work came to the land of Ahalya. Haricharan Bandopadhyay’s Bengali dictionary gives the meaning of the word ‘Ahalya’ as a land which is unable for Hal (ploughing) i.e. an infertile land. From the story, one can interpret that the land (personified as Ahalya) was betrayed by Lord Indra, the Deity of Rain and the husband, the farmer who took care of the ‘land’ left her, which made her stone (meant lifeless here). Rama came to the ‘land’ and farmed on her which made the land fertile and green again. Here being fertile refers to being alive.

On the other hand, Kumarilbhatta interpreted rape of Ahalya by Indra from a different angle. He defined Indra as Sun, Ahalya as night and rape of Ahalya as the end of the night by bright rays of the sun. Thus it necessary to view the mythology as history and not blindly believing the poetic appearance of the texts.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490

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Fireworks Might Extinguish the Flame of Laxmi Puja

We can have various kind of festival enjoyments on Festivals but without ever causing problem to others and the environment

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Fireworks
There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. Pixabay

BY SALIL GEWALI

If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly run the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.

Fireworks
It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment without Using Fireworks.

I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious “puja celebrations”. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in certain the plane areas in India. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism the part of the puja and holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.

Fireworks
If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers, Fireworks and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong.

Matter of fact, peace in one’s life and his efforts to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without “peace”.  Therefore, “Shanti” (peace) is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra, as propounded in Upanishads, inspired even one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Fireworks
TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land.

It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna LilaRam Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas” (musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentrationThe objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.

Fireworks
There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation and not Fireworks. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”.

However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.

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Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principle of the devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices alone.

Salil Gewali is a well-Known Writer and Author of ‘Great Minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali