Thursday, 8 December 2011

Maryada Bhakti and Gandhian Politics

(an extract from my novel- 'Samlee's Daughter'- full text on Google Books)

Pandayji- the old Gandhian politician I’d met - had an instructive history.
His ancestors had been prosperous farmers with a sideline in swordsmanship. Then, after the extirpation of ‘Pandy’s rebellion’ in 1857, the menfolk met their death being blown out of the mouths of cannons, while the women and children were cast adrift to sink or swim as best they might. Few survived the ensuing hardships.
In Pandayji’s ancestral village, there was a pious old widow who had memorised the entire Ramcharitmanas of Saint Tulsi Das. She took charge of a couple of the children and set up as an itinerant reciter of the Holy Epic. But, times were hard. People looked on strangers with dislike and suspicion. The musclemen of surviving landlords were particularly prone to attack first and ask questions later. Putting a few helpless refugees to the sword seemed a cheap price at which to prove one’s loyalty to the Crown. Thus, the old woman, and her child assistants, found themselves obliged to retrace some of Lord Rama’s own wanderings- having to keep to forested regions and tribal redoubts rather than taking the high road which ran through prosperous agricultural areas and wealthy urban centres.
Pandayji’s father had a sweet voice and soulful expression. One day, in Chitrakuta, a wealthy merchant, who had come there on pilgrimage, heard him recite the following couplet to some Bhil tribesmen who had gathered at the roadside to barter the wild honey they had gathered-
Beda bacana muni mana agama te prabhu karunaa aina
Bacana kiraatanha ke sunata jimi pitu baalaka baina.
(He whom neither Vedic Recitation, nor Yogic Meditation, can wholly address
Heard the words of His Bhils as a Father hears his child’s cry of distress!)
The old merchant was enchanted by the boy’s simplicity. He proposed to take him- the V.C.R not yet having been invented- into his own household. Having been brought up to believe Truth to be identical with Lord Rama’s name, the lad did not hide his antecedents from the merchant. But, thankfully, times had changed. Queen Victoria had taken over from the East India Company. Thus, the merchant could assure the lad that no disaster would befall if the son of a ‘rebel’ entered his household. Later, the old merchant was on his deathbed. He called the boy to him and asked him to name a parting gift. The boy said, ‘I don’t want you to build me a hermitage or to send me to Benares or any other such place. Rather, give me the management of one of your oil shops.’ The merchant said, ‘What’s this? You- a Brahmin- wish to become a teli? Remember what Banarsidas said- PaRta Baman BhaT, Bania baiTey huT- ‘in studies the Brahmin is top, the Bania just minds his shop’. Consider the matter properly and do not persist in your request. I will give you money so that you can travel to all the sacred Teerths of Hindustan and perfect your knowledge. That is the better course.’
But, the boy was adamant. Having known, in childhood, nothing but the hardships of the road, he yearned for security. The pot bellied oil merchants he had seen, himself a half-starved minstrel lad, seemed to him to be the very type of Lord Kubera- god of riches.
Thus, Pandayji’s grandfather became a shopkeeper. Oddly enough, he prospered. In time, a son was born to him. He sent the boy to the English Medium High School. The lad grew up to become a lawyer who enjoyed good revenues. The son of this lawyer was Pandayji. From the start, great things were expected of him. The boy would go to London and qualify as a Barrister. His father was a mere pleader in a small moffusil town. His son, however, would rank with the great advocates of the day. Perhaps, while in England, he might even pass the Indian Civil Service exam. In any case, he would be a pukka Sahib.
Pandayji was a small, nervous, child. Nothing in him remained to remind that his ancestors had once been excellent soldiers- praised even by the British for their consummate swordsmanship.
Pandayji’s one great passion was to sit at the feet of his grandfather- now quite senile- and hear the words of Saint Tulsi Das’s masterwork. In his mind, the child loved to dwell on the forest route the Holy Family had taken during their exiled wanderings. Grandfather- who was scarcely aware of what was happening in the next room, let alone the great Political currents sweeping the subcontinent at that time- was a mine of information regarding the customs of the forest tribes. Actually, his information was out of date. Victims of merciless exploitation, their long slide into moral degradation had already begun. Once proud descendants of those whom the Supreme Lord most delighted to listen to- there seemed nobody left to hear their cry for redress.
When Pandayji was only thirteen or fourteen, his father sent him to Patna to attend a prestigious High School there. This was the boy’s first experience of travel. The sights he saw along the way corresponded very little to what he had come to expect from listening to the Tulsi Ramayana. Something had gone wrong- very wrong- but what exactly? Everywhere you looked people’s faces bore the mark of disillusionment and despair. The first great popular convulsion in this Province, since the days of ’57, had ended in confusion and humiliation. People from different communities had started to look upon each other with dislike and suspicion. Nobody could understand what had gone wrong. The dream of restoring the Golden Age had vanished like smoke. The words of Tulsi Das, describing Ramrajya (i.e. reign of Lord Ram), seemed like a cruel mirage to mock the common man’s thirst for Justice, for Understanding, for Compassionate and Constructive Leadership.
Danda jatinha kara bheda jahan nartaka nrtya samaaja
Jeetahu manahi sunia asa Raamacandra ken raaja!
(Much prattles the Machiavellian parrot of Stick & Carrot, Divide and Rule
But Love’s plural dance of Ego-conquest was Ramrajya’s only tool!)
Discussing these ideas with fellow students in the City of Patna, Pandayji felt himself growing more and more perplexed. On the one hand, it seemed a very difficult thing to emulate the scholarship of the great lawyer-politicians- like Rajendra Prasad- who dominated the Independence movement. On the other, the dream of Ramrajya had already become fatally entangled with the figure of the new Mahatma- who, though a big Barrister from London, had abandoned the big Cities- and soirees with Governors and Viceroys- to come to benighted Champaran to hear the cries of the distressed people there.
Caught in this dilemma, Pandayji followed the path of least resistance- at times courting arrest, on orders from the Congress High Command, at others setting up a swadeshi shop or some such patriotic enterprise. His father’s attitude to him was ambivalent. Sometimes, he would curse him- especially when the lad came back, sunburnt and dust begrimed, from walking tours of rural regions- and say to him ‘seems you’re no better than a starving kushi-lava minstrel, shamelessly begging from house to house in remote villages! I was a fool to think you could ever to amount to anything. Just consider my position. Hasn’t our family suffered enough already at the hands of the British? Let other people sacrifice for now.
‘Why are you staring at me like that with your big owlish eyes?
‘Go! Go to your ‘Mahatma’. He is the only one you consider worthy of veneration. Why this hypocrisy of coming to touch my feet? Go, go die in a ditch- but spare me this play-acting!’

Pandayji showed a gift for organisational work from an early age. He excelled in grass-roots activism, walking from village to village and subsisting for days on end on just a handful of parched grain. While in prison, he showed assiduity in serving the leaders and seeking instruction from them. His physical appearance, however, was unimpressive. He was seen as a loyal lieutenant, nothing more. Yet, precisely for this reason, he was given a Ministerial post in the first Congress Ministry in the Province. Suddenly, his father saw him in a new light. After all, the boy was still very young; more senior people had been passed over for his sake. Yet here he was, with a chauffeur driven car and White Men- ‘Heaven born’ I.C.S. officers, mind you!- taking orders from him. The boy was a prodigy! He would found a dynasty! Temples would be built to offer shradda oblations to his forefathers!
But, Pandayji could not be flattered or brought round to his father’s new view of him. He had taken the oath of celibacy for National Service. Father implored him to get married, with tears in his eyes, but the young man was adamant. Not that it really mattered. Soon enough, Pandayji was back in jail, the times having changed their colour once again. The War years were ones where the liberal I.C.S officers, and Whitehall appointed lawyer-politicians, took a backseat. The Nation was ruled by the stick. The mailed fist of the militarised police, abetted by a vast network of spies and informers, struck terror into the hearts of the People. Thus, Pandayji’s father died believing it didn’t matter, after all, that his race would die out with his son. It seemed inconceivable that the dark night gripping India would ever be dispelled. Things might change but only for the worse. In his heart of hearts, Pandayji too, perhaps, came to believe this. After all, Scripture itself declares- this is Kali Yuga[1]!
Though equally disillusioned by the manner in which Independence- that flotsam ‘gift’ of an Ocean too heavily freighted with the overflow of American Commerce- came to be claimed by cliques and fantasists but for whose existence the whole panoply of the Raj would have long since melted away; Pandayji continued to serve the Party loyally. In the late fifties, once the bubble of Nehruvian euphoria had burst, he was even called to the Centre to occupy second tier Ministerial posts. Since he was neither corrupt nor nepotistic, he could scarcely serve the country in any higher capacity. Nevertheless, I am pleased to report, his superiors’ confidence in him was not entirely misplaced. Pandayji was utterly unimaginative, invincibly ignorant, purposelessly puritanical, endlessly vacillating, and hopelessly addicted to random acts of petty spite directed against the hapless heads of Government officers appointed to serve under him. In short, he approached the Platonic ideal of the Gandhian politician. The masses revered his ilk with good reason. Gandhism, it seemed, was the panacea ordained by God to baffle the bullshit of the Bureaucrats and cause them to curse their proximity to Power. Indeed, so exactly did these two sacred castes, bequeathed by the departing British, cancel each other out and render each others’ existence a burdensome futility, it seemed plausible that the common people might at last breathe free, piss wherever they wanted, and revel unrestrainedly in their own swinishness.
But, Pandayji saw, such conditions must not be allowed to endure. A firm hand was needed. By the grace of God, the times eventually became propitious. In the Sixties- following the Army’s defeat and Nehru’s death- it finally seemed safe to drop the demeaning pretence of engaging with ‘Progress’ and ‘Development’ so as to allow the purity of Gandhian pessimism to stand forth, like a naked flame, to receive the dazzled obeisance of a People now properly penitent for having dared dream Freedom their own Prize for having severed the dread coils of Colonialism’s Ethos swallowing Ouroboros.
‘Bhava bandhana te chuţahin nara japi jaa kara naama
Kharba nisaacara bandheu naagapaasa soi Raama.’
(‘If at the very mention of His name, even the bonds of Egotism fall away
‘How could puny snakes hold Him shackled?’ asked Garuda[2] in dismay)
It is the inescapable lot of mortal creatures to remain caught in the toils of Maya. But, the illusion of struggling against Maya, too, is simply part of His play. When Garuda goes to Kakabhushundi- to get an explanation of how he could have fallen into the illusion of thinking he’d himself helped in the Freedom Struggle- even that all-wise crow is obliged to confess that Maya, indeed, is all powerful, all-pervasive. He too fell into its trap when he approached the infant Rama and tried to take the dust off His feet. The mischievous imp simply scampered hither and thither squealing with delight. How could this be the Universal Lord?
Actually, Kakabhushundi had been a low-caste man who- this being Kali Yuga- had pretensions to acquire the Wisdom of Gnosis. Indeed, Kali Yuga is the topsy-turvy time when Depressive Gandhism, Manic Globalism, Paranoid Marxism, Disassociative Free Marketism, Genocidal Religious Fundamentalism, Logocidal Academic Feminism, and every other sort of arrant Chauvinism and utterly Nihilistic nonsense, can most flourish because everybody evinces an irrepressible urge to adopt that position, or aspire to that office, they are, of all people, most ludicrously ill-adapted to uphold and from which they will inevitably work the worst mischief in their power.
However, Kali Yuga being an epoch when the very rococo extravagance of all beings’ self-delusion exhausts the irony of Maya by turning everything into its own parody; it also follows that Kali Yuga is the most favourable period to be born into because one can gain the ultimate reward of liberation from Transmigration without any exertion whatsoever.
Later on, born as a Brahmin- but a bigoted upholder of the Saguna (embodied Theism) form of worship- Kakabhushundi refused to listen to his Guru’s Upanishadic teaching regarding the Self-identity of all beings with Nirguna (Formless) Brahma. For this sin, he was cursed to become a crow. However, since he had already secured the promise to always remember the Lord, he was in nowise discomfited. Nevertheless, it would be utterly foolish to attribute to Saint Tulsidas the opinions (in particular relating to the caste system) of a crow (no matter how wise, or devastatingly witty a self-parodist of servile maryada bhakti[3].) Indeed, we should remember, when Indra’s own son approached the Holy Family in the shape of a crow, he was not able to stop himself from pecking Sita’s foot, causing blood to flow. This is the correct explanation for the portions of Tulsi Das we find objectionable. Rather than ignorantly criticising him, we should understand his gentle purpose and seek to pluck out the beam in our own eye.
Anyway, leaving such bogus breast-beating aside, and returning to the story of Pandayji; I think he was, like many upper-caste Hindus of the Gangetic belt, not without a quite puzzling degree of self-knowledge. This being so, it remains a mystery to me as to how, though aware of his own unutterable futility, he could nevertheless continue to operate in so cynical and soul-impoverishing a manner without being overwhelmed by bitterness or giving way to insuperable despair. Indeed, it seems to me, such Hindus from the heartland possess a sort of conjugal ease with their own alienated ethos, and a wholly unreflecting access to the Unconscious, which appears utterly enigmatic to people from other regions. This is because, if I may be allowed to venture an opinion, our imagined as more uninterrupted Moral Imperium, or heart’s hysteresis of a less hiatus spotted History, has structured our Unconscious according to the rules of a very rigorous (though bogus) soteriological grammar. One consequence of this is we have to really struggle to achieve artistic originality. By the same token, we succumb more completely to ‘the Devdas complex’- i.e. we can degenerate into drunkards, not to say something worse, the moment the credal underpinning of our Ego-architecture is challenged- as happens when our ‘Choice’ is denied- while the Hindus from the heartland continue to go through the motions though ‘running on empty’. The only explanation I can think of for this phenomena is that the Bhramin/Shraman polarity or balance- i.e. the syzygy between the pious householder and the celibate mendicant- was more thoroughly interpolated with nonsense during the Muslim period. Thus, the heartland Hindu inherits from the celibate (who, rejecting all carnality requires no specific incest-censor) an unproblematic access to his unconscious which in turn permits a greater tolerance for Cynical or Nihilistic engagement. We, on the other hand, do not possess this ability to function under conditions of radical cognitive dissonance. This being so, we are in greater danger of ‘engulfment’ psychosis. Anyway, these are just some random ideas I’m throwing out to give a sort of intellectual veneer to this section. To get back to the story- Pandayji was a not entirely unwilling victim of the ‘Kamraj plan’- i.e. the Machiavellian scheme whereby Ministers were rotated back to the Districts to engage in Party work. Pandayji was a tireless grass-roots activist and made his mark in more than a dozen constituencies straddling the U.P /Bihar border. People respected him because he hadn’t enriched himself by so much as a single naya paisa and was quite unspoilt by his years in office. Indeed, it was as though he’d emerged from a time capsule. Increasingly, he appeared even more backward and simple than the villagers he visited.
In the late Sixties and Seventies, Pandayji remained loyal to the Old Congress. The fact that his super-human efforts on their behalf- efforts which won him the veneration of the common people- did not sway a single vote and that he himself lost his deposit in the ‘Indira wave’, sparked by Nehru’s daughter’s espousal of the call “Remove Poverty!”, came to him, I imagine, as a humiliation not entirely untinged with relief. The fact was- as, dim glimmeringly, he’d himself become aware- somewhere along life’s way he had carelessly mislaid the knowledge of how to die. Maya, for him, had become a snake devouring its own tail. Mara[4] had swallowed Rama, but, still, while the savour of this last irony lasted, his ‘Choice’ yet held and though that lila was hard labour, nevertheless, for so sedulous in destroying its own prizes in advance, it remained the only game in town. This being the case, he quite naturally sided with J.P. Narayan when that veteran salesman of hair-straightener to ‘Negroes’ and Wobbly proponent of ‘Total Revolution’ called for the ever renewed overthrow of the democratically elected Socialist Government so as to put a democratically elected Socialist Government in its place. Deeply grateful, as were all the other great Gandhians, to be given the chance to return to the jail cell that was his sole justification and glory; Pandayji came in contact with a new type of, lower middle class, activist belonging to Right-Wing Communal parties- Democracy then doing to them what the British had been too wise to. But, such was the degeneracy of the times, the sacred name of Gandhi- and the Name, says Tulsi, sublating sabdabrahma, thereby throwing opening the gates of Freedom, is ontologically higher than even Absolute Being- had been usurped by an Evil Demoness who openly spoke of obliterating our Holy Indian and Wholly Indian poverty! Thus it was entirely meet that, in this extremity, joined should be the hands of all true votaries of that ineffable name- whether the rebellious virodha bhaktas[5] who had thought it worthwhile to cut down that malaya[6] tree, or those whose servile maryada bhakti for him had merely made his assassination appear so woefully dilatory and grudging a measure- but then this, indeed, is Kali Yuga!
Nor does the irony stop there for, just as the River Sarasvati mystically joins the confluence of the Holy Ganga and Jamuna, so too did our most exalted intellectuals gush to greet this phenomenon as Hinduism’s coming of age!
Brahma Gyaana binu naari nara kehahin na doosari baata
KauRi laagi lobha basa karahin bipra Guru ghaata!
(Now, Everyman, Everywoman, but vies for the high Advaitic strain
Tho’ for a farthing’s favour they’d chop their own Guru in twain!)
This being the case, and all being equally deluded by Maya, what, after all?, was the difference between the demand for the restoration of Ramrajya- in which nobody would feel like a minority community- and that for Ram Janmabhumi[7]- in which everybody feels they alone are being persecuted- Government curries favour only with the rival community who really ought to fuck off back where they came from, etc, etc, etc.
In any case- since the Nehruvian phallic dream, of endlessly sprouting factory chimneys, no longer needed its Gandhian fig-leaf- new alliances were necessary.  Ultimately, of course, it would all end in the cul de sac of paranoid eco-feminist ravings, but India is a backward country- i.e. very rapid Progress is still all too palpably possible- and so, though dogs bark how they may, the caravan yet moves on.
In jail, Pandayji formed new networks and evolved a new political strategy. Henceforth he’d be a Political godfather- a king-maker. Returning to his old stamping ground, Pandayji built up dependable vote-banks amongst key vested interest groups, and strategically significant single-issue voting blocs, in constituency after constituency. These vote-banks would be loyal to him personally. He was masterful in his use of the four Classical political tools- Saam, Daam, Dhand, Bhed- i.e. persuasion, bribery, the big stick and ‘divide and rule’ by the sowing of dissension- but, in addition, there was the legitimating power of his own impeccably Gandhian antecedents. This, however, was of most utility to those whose manner of life fell farthest short of Gandhian values. Thus, this apostle of the Ahimsa was mightily venerated by the wrestlers’ akkras to whom he stood patron. Similarly, the prostitutes’ kothas gloried greatly in being protected by this saintly celibate. As for the Tavern keepers and Country Liquor tekedars- his respectful behaviour towards them won them over to a continual chanting of his praises- as though he himself were the reincarnation of Tulsi Das, who, being a humble maryada bhakta himself, bowed with equal sincerity to both sinner and saint. Indeed, the comparison is far from blasphemous, as is shown by my translation,- which, though not literal, I nevertheless present to you as being not wholly misleading- of the following couplet from Tulsi’s masterwork-
Bahuri sakra sama binavaun tehi
Samtata suraanika hita jehi
For Wine’s charms, to the Wicked, are, as to Woden,Valkyries
Merit the Evil such obeisance as might Indra most please!
Anyway, leaving aside such Religious ramblings, I must tell you, Pandayji never again made the mistake of putting all his eggs in one basket. Instead he backed candidates from rival parties, rival communities, especially in contiguous constituencies. Since, in Kali Yuga, things can only get worse; Pandayji had dedicated himself to impeding all parties equally with his spasmodic, tepid and purely tactical, support; and to perpetually stalemating the tournament by being the puppet master of a few well-chosen pawns on both sides of the board.
In the mid-eighties, when a new-breed of Computer savvy wunderkind took over Party Election Strategy in New Delhi, Pandayji’s name suddenly resurfaced at high level discussions. Indeed, I believe, some earnest young intellectuals actually lost sleep speculating as to his true ideological motives. But, this was not to last for Democracy, dispensing with its melioristic Maya, was at last ready to revel unabashedly in its own amoral lila. Indeed, Circe’s circus had spiralled out of the control of its Parliamentary ringmasters and so, within the span of a decade,- as Factionalism fractally flourished, and, quite purposelessly, Election followed Election without permitting even a pause for some pretence of Government- Pandayji finally came into his own. People mentioned his name with awe at cocktail parties and political pundits made the pilgrimage to see him before prognosticating on the viability of incoherent and evanescent coalitions whose only historical function was to track the exponential increase in cynicism and despair within the Polity. In this atmosphere, Pandayji flourished as never before. Indeed, he showed astonishing astuteness in his handling of the Media. Many journalists were in his debt for scoops regarding Parliamentary floor-crossings and unlikely Election upsets. They, in turn, vied with each other to bring any bizarre or grotesque new development- not that my anti-Masturbation campaign falls into either category- to Pandayji’s attention. He would make sure he was seen to be associated with the new movement, the new leader, from the very start. Should the movement catch on, or the leader attain notoriety, Editors and Politicians in New Delhi would see, when they called for the clippings-file on the subject, that Pandayji had got in at the ground floor. Thus, far from being passed over as a senile old coot, he was venerated as having a finger on the pulse of the Nation.
This at any rate was what I was told in New Delhi. Of course, I merely mention all this just to show how fatuous those ivory-tower intellectuals really are. Anti-Masturbation is a holy cause- mere mention of whose name can release all sentient beings from ignorance and delusion. However, the magic of Anti-Masturbation can’t begin its beneficent work until and unless the lowest section of Society- I refer of course to the female sex- rises to the challenge. In this context, I would like to clarify something and set the record straight.  This has to do with the fact that, to date, all our International Anti-Masturbation Conferences have very swiftly degenerated into frenzied circle-jerks. I would like to point out that this is entirely due to the utterly criminal failure of women volunteers to come forward in meaningful numbers to confront this problem head on- or reverse into it, or get down on all fours, or whatever posture you fancy.
On the subject of circle-jerks, I know some of you are conservative, deeply attached to hallowed traditions etc, but one mustn’t ‘mourn the plumage and forget the dying bird.’ Moreover, we should consider the Public Relations aspect. ‘Let him who is without spin cast the first stone’ as His Tonyness the very Blairing Prince of Peace said in his Sermon on the Mount (presumably Peter Mandelson).
Anyway, I don’t want to read you a lecture, but a word to the wise never came amiss. Indeed, all I am actually asking is for you to be mindful of the good name of the cause. However, I must in justice to myself observe, it’s no good saying ‘Physician, heal thyself!’ without also mentioning where the good Doctor in question is supposed to send his bill for professional services rendered. The same applies to the Biblical injunction ‘Attorney, go fuck thyself!’ To this end, I feel our grass-roots workers must put more effort into collecting funds and show greater zeal in remitting them to the High Command. Otherwise, this year too, our International Anti-Masturbation Conference will draw unfavourable publicity- not to mention heavy bills for shampooing the Hotel’s carpets and chandeliers, dry-cleaning its Receptionists’ spun-glass hair, clinically disinfecting Peter Mandelson, etc, etc.

[1]    Kali Yuga – ‘age of the losing dice-throw’- last of the four epochs of the Cosmic Cycle when Virtue inevitably degenerates. Perhaps the notion derives from a prehistoric custom of periodic redistribution, by lot, of land & cattle between clans & castes. To show equal piety (which means altruism) - though as difficult as it would be for a woman to show equal love to different husbands- in each era (yuga) & dispensation, is praised in Rg Veda.
[2]    Garuda- the great bird who serves Lord Vishnu (of whom Lord Rama is an incarnation) as his vehicle. Garuda is the enemy of the snakes. He became puzzled that Lord Rama had, seemingly, allowed himself to be bound by the snake-enchantment of Indrajit. Sage Narada sent for him and he cut the bonds and freed his master. However, the seed of doubt planted in his mind greatly troubled him and he only attained deliverance by listening to Kakabhushundi.
[3]    Maryada bhakti- Devotion to the Lord as Master and evinced by a respectful and deferential attitude to all constituted authority, Social hierarchy etc. Saint Tulsi Das, though a consummate intellectual, was a champion of maryada bhakti. At this juncture, I’d just like to make a point re. Hindu caste system. It’s actually about the need for mental concentration. One minimal sort is needed even for me- untouchable & drunken criminal though I am. However, though not sufficing for Li  Po’s poetic ‘wind-wheel samadhi’- it is enough to gain me ‘heart’s gold of gratitude’ & ‘best of Heavens’- viz. Bhakti. Higher than mine, is the concentration needed for the wage-slave Shudra. Higher yet is that needed for the Vaishya farmer/ businessman. He needs to be constantly alert, making plans against every contingency, maintaining vigilance against vice, improvidence, etc. Higher yet is the concentration of the duelling Kshatriya warrior. One lapse of concentration will get him killed in a micro-second. The Brahman however is non-dual. Thus, the true Bhramin, or meditator, has no external object to focus on. If his concentration lapses, not his mere body- but his soul & the souls of countless others!- is imperilled. This is the highest type of concentration. All (objectively defined) occupations are equally worthy of maryada (respectful worship) & contain Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras, Sutas (bards) etc.  Furthermore, only when Society has to slough off its dead skin like a snake- i.e. when a revolution is needed- will the mass of priests, arisocrats, & entrepreneurs refuse to admit worthy people to their ranks. Under such circumstances we are talking of Godless ‘ethnic or caste-based monopolism’ or a Satanic & chauvinistic ‘apartheid’ which must be destroyed. In all ages & all times- true Bhramins, Kshatriyas & Vaishyas etc. have sided with Revolution because their duty is Revolution. But, the fact is, every individual & class must learn relative importance of different types of mental concentration. Otherwise disaster will occur. Vikshepa (madness or distraction) will consume Society & lead to genocide & cannibalism.Every jati (endogamous occupational or clan group) contains Bhramins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, as well as (mercifully few) people like me. Hereditary concept, though universally valorised under feudal mode of production, is incompatible with Veda, Islam, Christianity etc. Incidentally, I may mention, my own self-chosen ‘Bhramin’ priest is going to a ‘Scheduled Caste’ Guru for instruction re. Vedas. Only when I was atheistically inclined did I oppose (for reasons of Satanic pride & Godless chauvinism) appointment of S.C. priests in great Temples of my ancestral Province. Now, though still evil in my personal habits, I am becoming more like a true scion of ‘Iyer’ family in my opinions & ideology. Thanks go solely to God for this seeming miracle.
[4]    Mara- Death, Deceit, Evil. The opposite of Rama- Truth, Immortality, the Fatherhood of God.The author of the Ramayana- Sage Valmiki- was an evil man who started chanting ‘Mara, Mara, Mara’. However, by the end he found he was saying ‘Rama, Rama, Rama’. Hence he was saved.
[5]    Virodha bhakti- (‘oppositional devotion’) form of worship of the Lord that is most effectual in uniting one to Him. It consists in trying to kill Him and do Evil. This follows because Hatred focuses the mind upon its object even more strongly than Love. Ravana is the type of the samrambha yogi, or virodha bhakta, who gained instantaneous liberation by being killed by Lord Rama.
[6]    Malaya tree- sandalwood tree whose paste is fragrant & has cooling properties. Also the type of the Vaishnava Saint because - ‘ Such brief relief from the blacksmith’s blows/ as work he the bellows, the axehead knows/ To fever’d brows brings sandalwood paste/ Perfuming the axe that lay it waste’ (Adapted from Saint Tulsidas.)
[7]    Ram Janmabhumi- Lord Rama’s birthplace- the demand for the demolition of a mosque built by Babur, a Turkish conqueror, upon the site and its restoration to Hindu worship. The ‘Hindu’ Right only espoused this call because it appeared that Rajiv Gandhi was stealing their clothes electorally speaking. The notion that there is a Hindu ‘fundamentalism’ centring upon turning Lord Rama into a vengeful Father God is a fantasy whose parroting by naïve academics like Prof. Fred Halliday- but also our beloved Karen Armstrong!- serves only to show up their own provincialism (as well as the criminal failure of British publishers to employ fact-checkers.)

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