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Showing posts from August, 2010

Parashurama: When Absolute Power Corrupts

This is a story we are all familiar with in India. For ages, every Indian child has grown up listening to it, usually from his mother or grandmother, or father or grandfather, and at times from a professional storyteller in a temple or on the village grounds – and the more recent generations from their Amar Chitra Kathas or the television serials.

In a display of valour and strength, Rama has broken Shiva’s bow that had been in the family of Janaka, thus winning Sita in marriage. The wedding is over and he is on his way back from Mithila, Sita’s place, to Ayodhya. The group returning consists of the sage Vasishtha, who is the royal guru of the Ikshwakus, a few other sages, Dasharatha himself, Rama and Sita as well as Rama’s three brothers and their brides. They are just out of Mithila when all on a sudden the sky begins to darken unexpectedly. Birds begin to shriek frightfully everywhere, some from the trees and some flying above the moving party, sending terror to the hearts of all –…

On Being Ordinary

For the last ten years of his life, the Shambhala tradition of Tibet was the main subject of teaching for the great Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa, which he taught in the United States under the name the Sacred Path of the Warrior. According to these teachings, one of the things that the sacred warrior of Shambhala practiced was the Path of the Four Dignities: meekness, perkiness, inscrutability, and outrageousness. Interestingly, the analogy for meekness in the tradition is the tiger!

It might come as a surprise to most of us that the tiger is used as the analogy for meekness. I do not think any of us would normally associate the tiger with meekness. The tiger to us is neither the symbol for meekness nor of gentleness. It is a ferocious animal, one of the greatest predators of the wild jungles, a creature that knows no pity or compassion. Besides, it looks more appropriate to associate the tiger with pride than with humility. How can such a bloodthirsty animal be the symbol of meekn…