Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Father of the Nation
My father once said, if you have to name one personality who has served the nation better than all others in the last 2000 years, it is Adi Shankaracharya.
A moment of truth, it was.
If not for Him, Hinduism would have been wiped off the surface of this earth with India becoming a Buddhist country entirely, and then a Muslim country, sometime after.
Anything founded on anger and resentment is not really well founded, isn’t it?
All religions that broke away from Hinduism had anger, resentment and disapproval at their foundation.
The founders, no doubt, had compelling reasons for doing what they did. They were great men indeed, but nevertheless, they were guilty of detesting and deserting a grand old tree for a few decaying branches. They failed to understand that decay and degeneration are a natural phase in the life cycle of any living entity.
The thought, that an entity founded on negative emotions, compulsions and circumstances must be unlikely to last long or strong, occurred to me when I happened to read about the Brahmo religion founded by Ram Mohan Roy, in one of Tagore’s works.
One of the things the Brahmo religion professed was inclusivity as opposed to the caste system’s exclusivity.
With time, the Brahmo Samaj grew, and the convictions of its members became more entrenched, so much so that within a few years of its founding, the Brahmo houses were found to be having side or back entrances for Brahmins who were not to be admitted from the front entrance into the living room!
They avoided hobnobbing with Hindus, especially Brahmins and never married their children outside the Brahmo community.
They criticized and looked down upon Hindus. With relish. And chauvinism.
The very exclusivity that they had striven to oppose had become part of their thought and practice.
The purpose of the Brahmo's founding had been defeated.
Today the total number of Brahmos in the world can be counted in hundreds.
A religion founded on circumstantial compulsions became redundant and less relevant once the circumstances passed.
Another religion that broke away from Hinduism was Buddhism.
Buddha was Buddha.
But Buddhists were Buddhists.
A few hundred years after the Buddha had come and gone, Buddhists had become corrupt.
They were no longer non violent.
They killed Ayurvedic doctors performing surgery because surgery was violent and Buddhism advocated non-violence!
They started burning Hindu libraries - the first step to destroying a religion or a culture.
They went on to desecrate Hindu places of worship.
They spread their tentacles across the subcontinent, not merely by preaching Buddha’s teachings but by maligning Hinduism.
Hinduism was gradually being eroded.
Not just the Buddhists, but Jains, Kaapaaliks and Charawaaks had started questioning and negating the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic religion.
Then was born the saviour, Shankara. Adi Shankara.
The purpose of whose incarnation was to revive the great Hindu religion of thousands of years. To reveal to the people, the grand old tree in all its glory, greater and mightier than its decaying twigs.
He marched from Kaalati in Kerala to Kashmir, on foot, discussing and debating the subtle and nuanced, yet prolific Sanatana Dharma, (dharmasukshma's - nuances and subtleties), with scholars - challenging opponents, persuading, preaching. And winning.
The crowds that had gathered, and others that had heard, having been shown the truth, the light, forsook their wandering and returned home to where they belonged.
The non-believers had damaged the temple at Badrinath and thrown the idol of Narayana into Naarad Kund of Alakananda.
Shankara was 11 when he arrived in Badrinath, restored the damaged temple, reinstalled the idol of Narayana which according to legend, he simply put his hand into the Narad Kund and picked up, proclaiming 'this IS Narayana!'.
If not for Shankara, Hinduism would have been wiped off, India would have become Buddhist, and then, gone on to become a Muslim country.
And what a marvel, that Shankara revived and restored the religion from its diminished state to its full glory without using any weapon, without hurting a single soul.
Words, thoughts, ideas, dialogue, debate and discussion were his weapons.
So, if one person deserves to be the father of the nation, more than all others who served it, it is Adi Shankara. Without the shadow of a doubt.
Today, I will go one step ahead and proclaim that Shankara must be the father, not just of India, but of the entire world.
For, if Hinduism had been wiped off, the world would have lost the best part of its inheritance.
Yoga would have been wiped off.
Sanskrit would have been forgotten.
Vedic mathematics would have been lost.
Sattvic living, unheard of!
True religious tolerance would have become non existent, as Hinduism is the only religion that wishes all people well - Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavantu - there is place even for atheists in Hinduism - they may attain salvation through the Karma or Yoga marga, if they choose not to take the Bhakti or Jnana marga of the believers.
The Bhagavadgeetha would have been lost.
‘Goddess’ would have been no more, as all other religions recognize only the Father and not the Mother! Hinduism is the only religion to put a woman on the pedestal.
Mountains and rivers,
elephant, mouse, snake, peacock and cow,
the peepul tree,
the Tulasi plant,
the jasmine and the lotus flowers,
the flute and the Veena,
and all that are elevated to divinity in this great religion that reveres the Spirit in all creation would be mundane utilitarian objects of interest only so far as they could be harnessed to serve man.
Dharma, the concept that provides fairly for all, the only perfect Constitution needing no amendments would have been lost and its antithesis from the west - ‘All is Fair in Love and War’, the war cry of capitalism - would have pervaded all judgment and discretion.
The oldest religion of the world, whose custodians are the only people with an unbroken line over 5000 years, (besides the Chinese), would have perished.
With non intrusion, non invasion, non expansionism and non violence, all gone, it would have been a very different world.
Therefore, Adi Shankaracharya could be the father not just of India, but the world.
Father of world or no, he must definitely be the father of the nation.
Coming to think about it, this would help, beyond tokenism, in shaking Kashmir and Kerala, the two most wayward states of India, out of the debilitating malady of devil worship into which they have cursed themselves.
Shankara, having discoursed at various places across the country, arrived in Kashmir, looking for Mandana Mishra, the renowned Sanskrit scholar of Kaashmir of those times.
Upon inquiring about the direction to his place of dwelling, he was told that the house, the courtyard of which had a parrot speaking in Sanskrit, was where Mandana Mishra lived!
That was Kashmir, where even parrots spoke in Sanskrit. Kaashmir, the land of Sanskrit, the land of Saraswati, known as Kaashmirapuravaasini.
Beyond the butchering of Kashmiri pundits, beyond the obliteration of all traces of Saraswati and Sanskrit and above the hill named today as ‘Takht-e-Suleiman’, stands the temple of Shankaracharya, overlooking the city of Srinagar below, clearly and surprisingly visible at all times as you glide over the waters of Dal lake in a Shikaara, as if saying ‘Hinduism is here to stay’.
This was where Shankara was born. He revived Hinduism. Like nobody before or after him.
Kerala was also the place of Swati Tirunaal - a king who was a Carnatic classical musician and contributed great compositions praising Lord Padmanabha.
The language of Kerala, Malayalam, though South Indian, is 70% Sanskrit, closer to the divine language than any other south Indian Language or perhaps any other Indian language.
Kerala is known as God’s own country.
Who ever dreamt that a day would come when you could not light a Hindu lamp in this God’s own country?
The communists protest against the lighting of the lamp during inaugural ceremonies, a Hindu thing as it is, and irrelevant in a secular state.
Love Jihad laughs and dances in all its horror.
Hindus in Muslim majority towns have to take permission from the local mosque to set up pavilion for Ganesha.
Thankfully, elsewhere, in a restful enclosure within the royal palace of the Chera dynasty, in Tiruvananthapuram, adjacent to the richest temple of the world, compositions of Swati Tirunal are sung by the greatest musicians of Carnatic music, year after year, in the Swati festival organized by the unbelievably simple and humble members of the royal family. Yes, Hinduism is here to stay.
How ironical that Kashmir and Kerala, the crown and the lotus feet of this country, both associated with Shankara, should have betrayed Hinduism and its saviour in this way!
Perhaps, proclaiming Shankara the father of the nation will open the eyes of these people and the likes of them country-wide, to the falsehood of the identity they have taken on and lead them back to their long forgotten home of true peace and tolerance.
This is a picture of the plaque that stands in the vicinity of the Kalpavriksha (it's a mulberry tree) in Joshimath where Shankara meditated 2000 years ago. Do read. (click the pic to magnify)