Of Good and Evil

Nothing is good or bad. But thinking makes it so- said Shakespeare.

Long before Shakespeare, a Chines sage had said somethings very profound. (Hope my patriotic countrymen – particularly the whatsapp warriors,  will forgive me for  using things Chines in my blog post). I extract here a few lines of Lao Tzu’s Tao- Te- Ching :

"As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, ugliness is born. 
As soon as virtue is being known as something good, evil is born. 
Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other. 
Difficult and easy accomplish each other.
..............................................  "

So the concept of ugliness was born when man recognized and discriminated something as beautiful. Prior to that things existed as they were without being judged. So was the case with good and evil.

Even the ancient seers who compiled the mythologies  knew this. Hence, Ravana is actually not an enemy of Vishnu. He is just doing a role play as ordained by the divine order of things. He is one of Vishnu’s trusted lieutenants, being the doorkeeper of Baikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu, who becomes Rama in his seventh avatar.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, once the four sons of Lord Brahma also known as Sanat Kumaras, went to meet Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha Dham. The four sanat kumaras are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumar. It is said that due to regular spiritual practices they looked like children. So the gatekeepers did not take them seriously. However, when they insisted that they be allowed to go inside without delay, Jaya and Vijaya told them that Lord Vishnu was taking rest and they have to wait till He wakes up. However, the kumaras were enraged and told that Lord Vishnu is available all the time for their devotees. Further, the kumaras cursed the gatekeepers for their insolence so as to be born in the mortal world leaving their heavenly abode.

Subsequently, the gatekeepers asked forgiveness of the kumaras and requested Lord Vishnu to waive off the curse. Lord Vishnu told that the curse of divine beings like the kumaras cannot be reverted. However, he wanted to commute the punishment. So He gave the gatekeepers two options – either to be born as His devotees for six births or as His enemies for three births. Jaya and Vijaya chose the latter as they thought the sooner they are re-untied with their master the better,  even though they have to play the role of villains. In their first descent from heaven as mortal beings they were born as Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa. In their second life, they were to be born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna; while in their third life they became Shishupala and Dantavakra.

According to the mythologies the gods and the demons are descendants from the same father. Of course from different mothers. Rishi Kashyapa had two wives – Aditi and Diti. All the devas and other auspicious beings were born to Aditi while the demons in general, and Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa in particular, were born to Diti.(Here again, feminists please forgive the misogynistic bias of the seers who were mostly male.)

There have been interpretations of Ramayana, where Rama’s actions have been portrayed more devilishly than Ravana’s. So the dispute as to who is the hero and who the villain of the same story goes on.

As we see there is a very thin line that divides good from evil or deva (god) from the devil. If I put it in Hindi – hero aur villin mein sirf unneesh beesh ka farak. This theme has been used in many English movies. Remember Spider man III? Spiderman’s scientist friend is his arch enemy this moment, his savior the next.

As there are no absolute heroes or villains, some sages suggested let us kill the demons within.

Now, which are these demons? Anger, Ego, Lust……

Ok.Wait.. wait.

As we know, without ego, many of the great things in world would not have been done.

And without lust, where would we be? Would I be here writing this post. Or, you reading it?

(I know it sounds a little incorrect, politically speaking)

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #2


Indian Bloggers

The Multi-purpose Indian Road

An Indian road, in addition to its main role, may mean many things to many people. It can be a toilet, it can be a barn, or it can be a place to build a place of worship – temporary as well as permanent (be it of any religion). The kind of surprises it may throw up are nothing new to the regular driver (hence, no more surprising). A good looking road may have a nasty pothole at the middle, a wide road may suddenly become narrow, and sometimes a road may  vanish just like that. Added to that, our law abiding fellow drivers make it such a  challenging experience. You have to have the awareness of a Buddha to be a master of the Indian Road. I feel the mindfulness meditation of Buddha is more relevant today than it was two thousand years ago.

Two days back, I discovered that the short cut I used to take back home from office (to save ten minutes) at a point, is suddenly closed down, adding 30 minutes more to my usual commuting time, as I had to take a very complicated detour.

In India, quite often, even the google navigation gets so confused that if you do not make a reality check with a localite every now and then, you are in for a harrowing time. The exit from the highway that the google lady directs you to take may not be there. Or, the google lady may take you to the back of the temple premises instead of the entrance and you may find yourself in a place where neither can you go ahead nor come back. (It actually happened when I visited the museum at Tanjavur a couple of years back.)

cows-2

For the office bound city commuter, the road may be two hours of hell, but not for these ‘holy’ animals. They can enjoy their moments of ‘bliss’ anywhere, including at the middle of a busy city road.

You may also read: Sunday Musings and Random Notes #1

Driven by the Divine

Around this time of the year, we do the Ayudh Puja, which is a must, particularly the vahana puja. One needs a lot of divine intervention to survive on an Indian Road. Sometimes, the decoration may cover the entire body blocking the front and the rear view. It  does not matter. Once things are left to divine care, there is nothing to worry about. Just relax.

ayudhapooja1

Sunday Musings and Random Notes

Our movies are like our food

While switching channels ( Sometimes I enjoy this bad habit), got stuck with Star Action. The movie was – The Other Man. It was supposed to be an action movie. There was so much silence. The dialogues were few. Some of the dialogues were not complete sentences. Yet the movie made such an impact.

Of course such a movie, if made in any Indian Language, may not make any impact. We like our movies like our food, a lot of varieties, a lot of spices, lots of loud and bright colours and of course, lots of sounds.(Have you heard the sounds of a self unconscious hungry person taking a south Indian meal, starting with papad and ending with rasam?)

Even the most macabre of the movies must have a song and a dance thrown in every half an hour in addition to the usual punchlines and lengthy harangues. For us, silence in the theater is unbearable.

For every minute of silence in the theater, the audience may legitimately wonder:

Itna sannata kyun hai bhai

Day of the Bandh

A Bandh rarely solves the problem it is associated with. Of course it causes a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people. Especially people who come on a short visit from outside and are caught unaware. But it has some positive side effects.

For a day, the pollution level of the city falls down drastically. The fuel saved in turn, saves foreign exchange and cushions government subsidy on fuel. It is such a pleasure to drive in the city in the afternoon when the enthusiasm of the protesters have died down. Or, for some busy city souls it may get the much needed surprises rest.

May be it is  good to have a bandh once a while for the sake of a healthy city and its citizens.

 Leisurely Sunday

Sometimes a simple unpremeditated shot taken with a cell phone (not the iphone 6 type) may take on artistic quality. Loved this photo taken by my son Dipayan. Look at the composition of the objects and the use of natural light.

liesurly sunday