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Showing posts from April, 2009

The Beautiful Concept of Rnas

Three or four days ago, I received a mail from a friend of mine asking me when the rnas [debts, often transcribed as rinas] which were originally three got increased into five. It is this that got me thinking about rnas.

The ancient Indian concept of rnas is truly beautiful. It said each human being is born on the earth with certain rnas and were bound to repay those rnas during his life time. The philosophy behind rnas is that we are indebted to the world we live in for the things we enjoy in the world, to the people who lived before us for many other things, and to our parents for our body and life itself.

This is an extension of the basic Indian philosophy that what makes life meaningful in the world is not the claims we have from it, but our responsibilities towards it. When everyone claims his right but none bothers about his responsibilities, no one gets anything. Whereas, when everyone fulfils his responsibilities, everyone gets all he needs. A philosophy based not on taking, but…

Osho’s New Man and Krishna

On 1st January 1979, someone asked Osho what his message to humanity was and here are some excerpts from Osho’s answer to that question [If you want to read the entire answer, please see his darshan diary, Zorba the Buddha.]:

“My message is simple. My message is a new man, homo novus. The old concept of man was of either/or; materialist or spiritualist, moral or immoral, sinner or saint. It was based on division, split. It created a schizophrenic humanity. The whole past of humanity has been sick, unhealthy, insane. In three thousand years, five thousand wars have been fought. This is just utterly mad; it is unbelievable. It is stupid, unintelligent, inhuman.

Once you divide man in two, you create misery and hell for him. He can never be healthy and can never be whole, the other half that has been denied will go on taking revenge. It will go on finding ways and means to overcome the part that you have imposed upon yourself. You will become a battle-ground, a civil war. That’s what has b…

J Krishnamurti and the Upanishads

I am still with Mary Lutyen’s beautiful book, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening.

So far as I know, J Krishnamurti never taught the Upanishads, never gave a lecture on the Upanishads. He did not believe in scriptures or teachers, did not believe in traditions or paths. And yet while going through Mary Lutyens’s book, I was once again reminded of how amazingly close his personal experiences and teachings are to those of the Upanishad seers.

Here is one of the profound, life altering experiences from his early life described in the book. This happened in August 1923, when Krishnamurti was twenty-eight years old. He describes the experience in a letter he wrote to Mrs Annie Besant, his adopted mother, two days after the experience happened.

“Then, on the 17th August, I felt acute pain at the nape of my neck and I had to cut down my meditation to fifteen minutes. The pain instead of getting better as I had hoped grew worse. The climax was reached on the 19th. I could not think, nor was I a…

J Krishnamurti: The Reluctant Messiah

Recently I was looking for a book that was handy to take with me for reading in the train. I debated between Mahashweta Devi’s Five Plays and Mary Lutyens’ Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening. I do not know what eventually made me decide – perhaps the fact that I had already read two of the five plays – but it was an old copy of Kkrishnamurti that has been with me for several years now that I eventually picked up. I am back from the journey now, and I am only half way through Lutyens’s fascinating biography of one of the most original teachers the world has ever seen. I just finished reading the chapter entitled In Love, which, among other things, deals with Krishnamurti’s falling in love with an American girl called Helen Knothe. I had to stop reading here because my eyes wouldn’t allow me to continue.

As a genre I am not particularly fond of biographies and autobiographies, though one of my all time favourite books is an autobiography: The Sky Dancer, by Keith Dowman. Dowman is actu…

Bhishma and Iravati Karve’s Yuganta

It was only recently that I had the pleasure of reading Iravati Karve’s tour de force Yuganta, which I found one of the most brilliant and original studies of the Mahabharata. The first essay in the study is on Bhishma, and in it she talks about the futility of the grandsire’s long life that spans several generations.

Karve begins the essay by summarising the plot, leading up to Bhishma bringing home young Satyavati and presenting her to his old father as his new wife. Here the scholarly author makes a brilliant comparison of Bhishma’s sacrifice for the sake of his father Shantanu with that of his ancestor Puru’s for the sake of his father Yayati and then asks what Bhishma gained by the sacrifice in contrast to his ancestor who got his father’s kingdom overriding the rights of his elder brothers.

When you think of it, the sacrifices are strikingly similar. To begin with, both fathers are old and both sons young – Bhishma is perhaps twenty years old when he makes his sacrifice and Puru, …

Yuganta and the Vidura-Yudhishthira Relationship in the Mahabharata

In her brilliant and path-breaking study of the Mahabharata called Yuganta, Iravati Karve argues that there is a possibility that Vidura could have been Yudhishthira’s father – a strong possibility, though not a certainty. According to her, there is much in the Mahabharata to suggest this.

Whether Vidura was Yudhishthira’s father or not has important implications to the story of the epic, for, says Karve, “As soon as we consider the possibility that these two might be father and son, the whole Mahabharata takes on a new light. If Dharma [i.e., Yudhishthira] is the natural son of Vidura and the legal son of Pandu, the whole Mahabharata conflict is no longer between the sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, but among the sons of all three brothers. The triangular fight does not materialize because Vidura and Pandu have a common son. To prevent anyone’s finding out who were the fathers of his children, Pandu went and lived far away in the Himalayas and apparently the natural fathers of his son…