Monday, 8 November 2010

Is the Mahabharata about uncontrolled lust?

Satya Caitanya has a series of blogs at Boloji- in one recent post he says -

The Mahabharata is a tale of uncontrolled lusts – lust for land, lust for wealth, lust for power, lust for honour, lust for fame, lust for acceptance, lust for vengeance, lust for pleasure, and, above all, plain sexual lust. It is the story of lust in every imaginable form and the terrible consequences that uncontrolled lust leads to.

I think this is nonsense. True, in the First Book there are cases of Kings suddenly falling in love with a woman and agreeing to make her son his heir- but that's called sexual selection, not uncontrolled lust. Furthermore, these providential loves, far from bringing ruin to the State, provide Kings with sons with more than mortal powers. This is not just the opposite of xxx rated hard core lust, it's the province of fairy tales.

A King is warned that if he has sex, he will die- but he loves his wife so much he goes ahead and does it anyway... not lust, this is a romantic fairy tale.

There is not a single one of the important characters in the Mahabharata who is truly preyed upon by lust in the same sense as that of a Tiberius or a Caligula. Yet, in classical Indian drama, we do find examples of utterly debauched Princes who rape anyone can they lay hands on.

Nobody Shri Caitanya lists here is in the grip of uncontrollable lust. On the contrary, the number of their sexual partners is lower rather than higher than the median for high status men in the Iron Age. Furthermore, it is by no means clear that mid Victorian prudery was the established moral code of the day. On the contrary, except with respect to the semi-magical practice of Tapas (austerities)- there was no prohibition on any sort of intercourse from which progeny might result and, what is more, descent of this sort was rather a matter of pride than shame.
Why is Shri Caitanya misusing the English word 'lust' in this fashion? Is he 'sexing up' his article? But why should he want to? He is a scholarly and (I believe) spiritually oriented man.
Notice, he goes on to misuse this word LUST by applying it to other things like the desire for wealth, for renown, for vengance BUT ALSO FOR ACCEPTANCE! Why stop there, Maharaj? Why not add- lust for Knowledge, lust for Wisdom, lust for a nice cuppa tea with maybe a chocolate hob-nob, lust for updating my status on Facebook, lust for reading something sensible for a change about the Mahabharata?

The truth is the Mahabharata is not about lust, uncontrolled or otherwise. It's not about kama (Eros) but KARMA.
But Karma is linked up with something else- Dharma (Morality, Justice, Duty). And Dharma is difficult to understand.
So that's why Sri Caitanya pretends that actually this great book is about some debauched, vainglorious, tyrants who misbehaved themselves a long time ago.

In his article, Shri Caitanya has this to say about the conception of Sage Vyasa's mother.

'Let’s now move on to the day that most concerns us, the day on which he begets Sage Vyasa’s mother in an act that the Mahabharata describes as dhoomra – a word the dictionary explains as vice, wickedness, sin.
BUT DHOOMRA-as most Indic people know- MEANS SMOKEY OR CLOUDY- like the MIRKY AND MYSTERIOUS way Karma operates- there are other highly specific words for sins and SEXcrimes which can be cross-referenced to Law Books like that of Manu or Yajnavalkya or whatever from which the fine or punishment can be found.


'Everything about the remaining part of Uparichara Vasu’s story is strange and mysterious. Perhaps because the things mentioned are so unacceptable, it is possible that the original story has altogether disappeared and we have to infer it from the hazy and puzzling details that are now available to us in the Sanskrit epic.

'The first thing we are told is that a mountain once raped a river and two human children are born to the river. The name of the mountain is Kolahala and the name of the river is Shuktimati. We are also told that the mountain blocked the river and Uparichara Vasu kicked it with his foot, splitting the mountain and releasing the river.'

So a mountain raped a river? How does Van Buitenen translate this, let me see...does the European PROFESSOR use the word rape? No he says AN INTELLIGENT MOUNTAIN FELL IN LOVE WITH A RIVER. Yes the river conceives by the mountain but the European man does not use the word RAPE.  Vasu honours both children of the River. One is made a general the other becomes (Buitenen's translation) Vasu's BELOVED WIFE.
So what do we have here? Shri Caitanya talking of rape- that too of one from whom Hindus are descended- and the White man who was a top Professor in America using the word 'fell in love' and 'beloved'.
If Shri Caitanya really wants to insult religious people by showing their venerated ancestors to be lustful rapists than let him have the courage to make similar claims about Prophet Abraham or King David. Unfortunately, he was born in the Hindu Religion and so I have to accept it as my fate that my Sacred Book is a chronicle of flithy lust and nothing more.

Let me once again reitierate, the Mahabharata is about KARMA. The episode that has provoked this prurient raving from Sri Caitanya (a Godly man by the looks of things) is not about lust or rape or self-abuse. It is about the strange manner in which our intentions are both frustrated and fulfilled in an unexpected way.
Now we all know that the man's semen must enter the wife's womb for a child to be conceived. In this story, Vasu has to fulfill the duty to his beloved wife while also doing something else commanded by the ancestors. So he sends the seed by a carrier-pigeon to his wife. However, fate intervenes. Man proposes, God disposes. The lesson is that not only the child born to our wife is our son but, through karma, in fact VASUDEVAM KUTAMBAKAM- WE ARE ALL CONNECTED AND ARE ONE FAMILY.
Where is the LUST in such a simple and TRUE revelation of Supreme Deity?
What for such filth? Why such mindless denigration?
Please tell me what is my crime that just because I was born in Hindu family- not some other religion- why MY RELIGION ALONE SHOULD BE HELD UP FOR RIDICULE, CONTEMPT AND INFAMY!?
Answer- sex sells. Let us pretend Scriptures contain Porn. Then, perhaps, young people will be interestedl

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