Thursday, October 16, 2014

Role Models from Khattar Kaka by prof Hari Mohan Jha

Original : Hari Mohan Jha. title: Khattar Kaka. ROLE MODELS Uncle saw the book in my hand and said, “You seem to go somewhere with a fat I said, “It’s Adarsa Charitavali.” Uncle smiled and said, “If anyone follows these days the ideal persons mentioned in that book, he’ll surely end up in a lunatic asylum.” “Why do you say so, Uncle? Look at Harischandra, the king who was truthful, and munificent. It’s said that ‘Harischandra would not forsake the truth even if the sun, or the moon or the world changed the course’. Wasn’t he great?” Uncle said with a smile, “O! What a truth! What a truth? If you donated your land to me in your dream, would I prepare the gift deeds by the morning or what? If I donated a young girl in my dream to someone, would I take him as my “The story demonstrates the virtue of being truthful,” I said. “Exactly! That’s the starting point of foolishness! In the dreams, people have a vision of many senseless and meaningless things. If one believes them to be true and follows up, what would be the result? But this oddity is a part of our people. We attach greater importance to the dreams than the reality. It’s on this foundation that the building of Vedanta rests. For us, the whole universe is like a dream. Everything is a mirage. Furthermore, we take the state of deathly silence to be a greater ideal than the state of being awake. While the kettledrum of awakening rolls on in the other countries, we take refuge in this mantra- ‘Salutation to the goddess, who is awake in all the living creatures which are in stupor! Salutations! Salutations!’” “But Uncle, right from the ancient times, we have had this philosophical Uncle was sarcastic. “True. That’s why we treat the day as night and the ‘When it’s night for everyone, it’s the waking time for the inspired soul. When all the creatures are wide awake, then it’s night for the enlightened sage.’ “When the world is asleep, we would be awake and when everyone is asleep we would be awake. I don’t know which bird is our inspiration!” “Uncle, your sarcasm is scathing even though apparently you said it “I’m not misstating anything. Even the birds of this country are philosophers. Parrot, Jatayu, Garutmanatha, crow are our preceptors. And, about the owl, less said the better. If there was no specialty in the owl, why is the special appearance of the owl titled ‘Oulokya darshan’?” “Supremely knowledgeable enlightened preceptors and seers like Janaka also were born in this country, weren’t they?” I asked. “Arey! Such enlightenment only has finished us off, hasn’t it? The philosophy of Janaka, the king of Mithila, was this – ‘I lose nothing even if Mithila is burnt and reduced to ashes.’ “If all the countrymen follow this ideal, what would be the fate of this “Uncle, their ideal was to be detached like a lotus leaf on water.” “The simile is good. No doubt about that. But try to be like that just for one day. Be detached and I will go and promptly take possession of your house and all “Uncle, Janaka was beyond all bodily attachments. For him, the breasts of a beautiful woman too were like a clod of the earth.” Uncle smiled and said, “If that were so, there was an indescribable joy in being detached of bodily pleasures. Tell me this. If he was so much detached, Ravana and Rama should have been alike for him, shouldn’t they? Then, where was the need for all that ruckus of bow yagna? And, if perchance Ravana had “Leave it alone, Uncle. Take the case of Yagnavalkya. He was such an enlightened person, wasn’t he?” “Yes, so enlightened that he needed two wives. Maitreyi for the soul and Katyayani for the body,” said uncle, giggling. “But his scholarly debate with Gargi was of a high order, wasn’t it?” “It was absolutely a debate at the level of children. When Gargi asked him one question after another rendering him clueless, he angrily said, ‘If you continue with such questions, your head will be severed and fall to the ground.’” “But he renounced everything, didn’t he?” “So great at sacrificing that he got all the cows herded home before the ritual was complete, being worried that someone else might drive them away.” “The Brahmins here are so ascetic?” “Yes, so ascetic that anger is always perched on their nose. Bhigu kicked Vishnu with his foot. Parasurama chopped his mother’s head with an axe!” “What of Maharshi Vasishata and Viswamitra?” “Both have connection with prostitutes. One came out of Oorvasi’s womb, the other impregnated Menaka. The apsarasa, the celestial beauties, knew the secrets of the sages very well.” “Devarshi Narada was such great devout...” “Yes. That’s why Mohini stoked the flames of lust in him and made him prance around her like a monkey. Actually, the beautiful women made the sages run around them. With one sidelong glance, in the matter of just a moment, they could reduce their penance to nothing.” “Prahlada and Vibhishana were such men of piety.” “One got his father killed; the other, his brother. Pray save the country from “Bhishma was such an epitome of ethics.” “That’s why in the full royal court, when Draupadi was being disrobed, he “Drona was such a great man...” “That’s why selfishly he got the thumb of his disciple Ekalavya chopped off. A student of today would have twirled the thumb from a distance at him and “Aruni was so devoted to his guru.” “Yes, when he was sent by his guru to go and fill the breach in the field, he lay supine in the breach. He demonstrated unadulterated stupidity. Students like him would light up dry leaves and carry on with their studies when the oil in the lamp has been exhausted. “ I was distressed. “So, Uncle, is there no merit at all in these stories?” “Why not? Those days the gurus were smart and the disciples, dimwits. The disciples were sent to graze the cows. They were made to collect firewood. Every story has a message. Someone would have stolen a mango. In order to make him feel abashed, the story of Sankhalikhita is told who was cursed a great deal for committing a small mistake. A king might take back a cow gifted earlier to a Brahmin. To pre-empt this, the story of Emperor Nriga has been created. Nriga had gifted thousands of cows. That bounty did not count. But a cow which he had been gifted away strayed and returned to the herd. For that reason, he had to endure the life of a chameleon for thousands of years. If the descendants of Nriga were sensible, they would not utter donation of a cow even by mistake.” “Who can argue with you, uncle? But look at the great kings who ruled this land. It’s after king Bharatha that this country is known. His father, Dushyantha, was a jewel of the race, wasn’t he?” “Sakuntala, who was brought up by a sage, lost her virginity because of Dushyantha. Afterwards, he refused even to recognise her. You call such debauch and coward a jewel? It’s more apt to call him a curse of the race. In fact, that is the meaning of the word ‘dushyantha’. Arey! They were so lustful, craving for sexual pleasure, vying with each other. King Yayathi was old and his organs were worthless. Yet, his carnal desires were not satiated and so he borrowed his son’s youth and enjoyed himself. The like of such unbridled lust is not known in the history of any other country.” “Uncle, why don’t you see the positive side? This country gave birth to Sibi and Dadheechi who were renowned for their generosity.” “I agree. Sibi cut his flesh and gave it away and Dadheechi, his spine. So, tomorrow if you cut your nose and give it away, should I look up to you as a role “If you are so derisive, what can I say, uncle? But Look at Aswatthama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishana, Kripacharya and Parasurama are said to be Uncle smiled and said, “Do you know the true meaning of this sloka? A Brahmin in penury, a foolish king, a scholar who flatters, a devout who is purblind, an ingrate brother, an arrogant teacher and an irascible Brahmin – these seven persons always exist on this land. Take it that this is the misfortune of our “We have many ideal persons, one greater than the other. Yet, you’d like none of them. Look, many virtuous women such as Savitri were born in this “None of these women listened to their fathers. They married as per their wish opposing their parents. You call them ideals, do you? If my daughter too does the same, how would I feel? That’s why I wouldn’t allow my daughters to read the story of Sati Savitri. This ‘Charitavali’ shall not get into my home.” I was hurt. “It’s due to these ideals that our country is known as a pious land, isn’t it? Unparalleled ideals have been established here.” “True. We have no parallels. Moradhwaja’s mania for honouring the guest was so overwhelming that he sawed his son, cooked his meat and served the guest! Was this idealism or madness? For some, it was a mania for donations and for some others it was truthfulness. A woman by name Sumathi was so crazy of her wifely duty that she carried her leper husband on her head and took him to the prostitute’s house to satisfy his lust. Do we take her as our ideal? I say, she and her “Kings and Brahmins in our country followed high principles, didn’t they?’ “Hey, son! The king had strength but no brain. The Brahmin had brain but no strength. For each word if one picked up a weapon, the other took out a scripture. If the bow of one was strung, curse was forever ready on the tongue of the other. If the Brahmins were angry, they cited the scriptures. If the kings went crazy, they would take vows. There’s no count of lives lost in this country due to “One should not break a promise even if it would cause death. Was this not the tradition with our people?” I said. “That’s what I call stupidity. The principles are meant for us; not the other way round. They have to be our instruments and not our goals. When they come in the way of fulfilling our goals, what use are they to us? It’s good to cut the ear and throw the gold ear ring into the fire, is it? Because your childhood shoes don’t fit you now, you won’t cut your feet to fit the shoes, would you?” “Our principles are not like the shoes which can be changed, are they?” “Why not? Once upon a time, a woman who threw herself on the pyre of the dead husband was worshipped as a goddess. Now if anyone tries to do that, police will arrest and take her away.” “But theoreticians don’t go about keeping the provisions of law in mind, do “Let them not. But shouldn’t they at least trust their own sense? There’s no theory which can be followed blindly. Assume a teacher orders his disciple to go in the easterly direction. Then the disciple walks straight and doesn’t move an inch this side or that and hits a palm tree. Do you call such stubbornness an ideal or stupidity? How many heads of kings have been chopped off due to such obstinacy? How many queens have been reduced to ashes? How many royal palaces have been pulled down? Our history is replete with instances of such “Uncle, why did they write these minor stories, stories within the story, in “Arey! They were written to deceive the kings; to be served by the disciples and the sudras and to keep women under their thumb. The writers of these stories push the moral ideal to the extreme limits. If the idea is to demonstrate the prowess of a chaste woman, fire would leap out from the hem of her sari. A woman would bring her husband back alive, snatching him from the hands of Lord Yama. Another woman would stop the progress of time by stopping the Sun’s chariot. Our people are absolutely incapable of saying anything without exaggeration. What’s the result of all this? The pictures of our ideals have become cartoons instead of photos.” “Do you mean to say these ideals in our mythology have no value?” “They have, like the value that can be assigned to the rusted sheath and sword in the museum. They are meant for the exhibition; not for use.” “Uncle, why is there so much exaggeration in describing these characters?” “Arey, my child! Exaggeration is in our blood. Right from the Vedic times, whoever we praise, we raise him sky high and call him the sun or the moon. Whoever we blame, we crush him into the abyss. Like it’s said, ‘The hillock on which Hanuman rests his foot sinks into the abyss in a moment.’ We don’t know “You look at this yourself. Our literature is full of exaggeration. When the heroine has large eyes, then it’s said that they are stretched covering the entire space between the ears. If the breasts were full, they are like the gold pitchers. Arey! There’s a limit to everything but none in our case. “Just because we have a mouth to babble, can we say that gallnut is as long “Whatever occurred to them, they wrote. One would lift a mountain. Another would drink the water of the ocean and dry it up. No less. One would hold the earth between his teeth. On would swallow the sun. If one was a chaturanana, another would be a panchanana, the third would be a shadanana and yet another would be a dasanana! If one had three shoulders, another had four and yet another had one thousand. If one fought the war for one thousand years, another would do penance for five thousand years. A third would have intercourse for ten thousand years! In the typhoon of hyperbole, we have buried the truth.” “Do you mean to say that these are all part of fiction?” Uncle said sarcastically, “So long as there are great scholars who write these in our country, who will have the courage to say that? If our great Hanuman arrives, that is enough. He’ll wrap up the soldiers of all countries around his tail. One sage Agastya will do to empty water together with the ships of all the oceans. A Varaha incarnation is enough to lift and throw the earth like a football. One Vamana would do to cover the moon with one foot. Let the people of other countries invent wonderful machines and take care of them! We of course would have our work done through the incarnations. One incarnation would suffice to solve our problems in a jiffy. A mere shout is enough for a mountain of food grains to appear before us. With one arrow, the ocean of milk and curd would “Uncle, you have made the ajasra stream of exaggeration flow!” “Arey! Who do you think I am? Of which race? It’s in the blood. There are other countries to take science forward. There must be someone to bear the burden of the fantasy,” uncle said smilingly. “Okay, son. Take your album and go. I don’t need these ideal persons. I’m a realist.” ***

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