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Gita Today: Dharma and Karma

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JOURNEY FROM LIFE TO LIFE - Parampara PDF Print E-mail
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Article Index
Sakam Karma
Murti Pooja
Cosmos, Consciousness and the science of souls
Samskaras - The Sacraments
Namkaran Samskar
Graduation Samskara
Vivaaha samskar
Ganesh Pujan
Antyesthi Samskara
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To understand our culture, (samskara, Dharma etc.) it is important to understand the concept of parampara. What can we learn from parampara? How a disconnect in parampara can be disastrous for a civilization?

Parampara is one reason why people in India like to remember a series of past generations of an individual. In many families the whole series of ancestry was and to some extent even today given great importance. Rameshwar comes from the family of Satishwar who was a saint and was son of a great saint Parmeshwar. Rameshwar has to have an element of saintliness because Satishwar was a saint and his forefathers were all saintly people. It is as if a flow, a continuum of Parmeshwara is flowing through Satishwara and Rameshwar. It is very important to grasp this point before we get any further with any kind of Samskara. As if the river Ganga originates from Gangotri…It flowswith all its white waters and its melodious music. And, the name changes to Alaknanda. It flows in a continuity. There is the same essence, the same melody, and the same purity. Just the name is different. Ganga flows to Haridwar, and then touches Varanasi. Other rivers and riverlets join in. But, the same Ganga flows with the essence in continuity. It has covered distance in space and time, it has changed in quality and quantity. But its reverence has remained the same.

Parmeshwar to Satishwara to Rameshwara, the flow of santliness has continued. Krishna has described it beautifully in Bhagwadgita:

Ewam paramparpraptmimam rajaryayo viduh
sa kalenneh mahatta yogo nashtah parantap (4..2)

This supreme science was received through the chain of succession and the saintly king understood in that way (the way of parampara). But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to have been lost.

He is talking about a method of knowing and calls it knowing by parampara. Arjun is an intellectual. He has been through the education system of the time and was the best at the time. Krishna is not only dealing with the best educated person of the time but also with a brave heart of the time who also happens to be his sakha (friend). And to him he says that there is another method of learning that seems to have been lost. In the preceding shloka he has said that he told this yoga to Sun. Knowing that he is talking to Arjuna he says in this shloka that there is another method of learning. Learning by parampara. What is the meaning of parampara. In fact there is no word in English that can explain what is the meaning of parampara. Parampara is more like a continum or a flow as described above. It is not the same as tradition. It is not learning by reading the shastras, it is not part of learning as you grow; it is a flowing. This knowing by parampara is a flow.

The knowledge Krishna is talking about in Gita is of a different nature, a higher nature. There are other knowings by parampara. Purohits in our villages mostly learned by parampara. There was no school of purohits then. It just flowed through a system. For thousands of years people in India have poured their entire energy for the search of truth. You can visibly see the flow of Ganga. Ganga is not an ordinary river, its flow was not just melting of the glaciers, it is not a random phenomenon. It is an alchemy, it is science of a kind which we have not mastered yet. For a simple fact that Ganga water is always fresh no matter how many years it has been bottled in is one parameter you can see for yourself. There is another flow that permeates through India and that is the very essence of India. India is an eternal journey, a path of nectar, stretching from eternity to eternity. The Ramas, Krishna, the Budhas, the Mahavirs, Kabirs, Nanaks and many others have all contributed to this flow of nectar which forms the very essence of India. This is why we never wrote a history. Some of these events are beyond time and space. It is a continuum. And then there is the esoteric history, which is so very difficult to authenticate. For example it is not an accident that 22 out of the 24 Jaina Tirthankaras went to die on the same mountain the Samved Shikhar. The gap between the first tirthankara Adinath and the last one is thousands of years. But they all went to leave their bodies at the same peak. The namokar mantras developed by Mahavira may appear simple spoken words but they were developed with a specific goal and for a specific purpose. How can you really incorporate all this in a written history. That is why the emphasis of the flow, the learning by parampara, the learning by shruti. What happened to this flow? What happened to this learning by parampara. What has happened to the Samskaras, the samskaras as mentioned earlier represents this flow which is truly beyond time and space and also represents the sacrements which appear to be bound in time and space

In Krishna’s time part of this was lost, the part that Krishna has touched in Gita. In the present time It seems that most of it is lost. The flow seems to have been interrupted. Maithili Sharan Gupta raises the same point in Bharat Bharati when he says:

Ham kaun the kyaa ho gaye
Aur kyaa honge abhii?

This is a concern shared by most people. We have to remember and remind others that the destiny of India is the destiny of the whole humanity - because of the way we have refined human consciousness, and because of the lamps we have lit within the human being. No where else in the world has this been done. It has been over ten thousand years of ceaseless perseverance, of ceaseless yoga and incessant meditation. And for the sake of this we have lost everything else. But, even in the darkest nights of man, we have kept this lamp of human consciousness burning. No matter how dim the flame may have become, the lamp still burns. The lamp is burning.

Hindus knew a lot of things - it would be surprising if they did not having been on a religious quest for thousands of years. For over ten thousand years most of their most intelligent and wisest people have devoted their lives to the same end - the search of the ultimate, the search of truth. They were possessed with the only desire of knowing the truth hidden behind the existence, to see that which is invisible. They wanted to encounter that which is formless. It would be really amazing if such people did not know anything after having single mindedly dedicated all their intelligence and energy to the single quest, and that too for over ten thousand years. They developed the science of yoga, tantra, mantras, meditations. One book Vigyan Bhairva Tantra describes 112 techniques.

But, during the last 200 years certain very disturbing events happened. It is worth understanding and taking serious note of this. There have been hundreds of foreign invasions on India in the last several years, but no invader could ever attack the vital core. Some invaders looked for wealth, some occupied land, others captured palaces and forts. But, none could touch the core (interiority) of India - the attention of invaders was not drawn towards it. Then for the first time attacks were made on this vital core of India, on the interiority of India when the western civilization invaded India. The easiest way to attack it was to disconnect the country from its long history and to destroy the past. A gap was created between the people and their history. In this way people became uprooted and powerless. Suddenly the learning by parampara was interrupted. The flow was obstructed.

If western civilization were to be destroyed today, there would be no need to destroy its buildings, its cinemas or its theaters. If just the top ten universities were destroyed the whole western culture would disappear. The western civilization would slowly die and become lost. The real basis of all cultures is its sources of knowledge. The roots of a civilization are in its long chain of knowledge…it is in the knowing by parampara, it is in the flow of knowledge that passes from generation to generation without any conscious awareness about it. Let me give an example. Two brothers from a family in India were sent to a Convent school by their father. The family was a large family and the two brothers used to touch the feet of their father each morning. The father decided to visit the sons in their school and went there. The two brothers came to see their father and happily said hello to their father. The father simply asked the sons to pack up and go back to home. The sons were surprised and did not even know what had happened; what had gone wrong. The father remarked, Sons, “I sent you to this school to learn what is new, not to forget what you knew.” But, there are many fathers who will be proud when their son will say hello to them. What is in touching the feet? Very few know that it is not just a custom. It was a science of energy transfer. It developed as a science whereby father or a guru could transfer energy to the one touching the feet by touching on their head. This was part of the technology of shaktipat. On the other hand, It will be interesting to know how hand shaking developed in the west. It was a way to ascertain that the person coming to meet you is not hiding a weapon in his hand. The first method is a product of trust while the other one (hand shaking) is a product of distrust.

If the history of just two generations were taken away, a country would become cut off from all possibilities of further progress That is the difference between human beings and animals. Animals are not able to make progress because they do not have schools. They do not have any way to transfer knowledge from older generation to the new generation. At its birth an animal begins life right from where its father began, and its offspring will do the same. The human being through education, can help his child’s life begin from where he left off. So there is a continuity of knowledge. All human progress depends upon transfer of accumulated knowledge from generation to generation.

If you visit Mexico and see the ruins of Mayan civilization, you will be astounded. They rose to fame around 900 AD. Now there is not more than 3.5 million Mayans in the world. They do not know how their civilization lost the glory. They are known to be an intelligent race. They built several beautiful structures including pyramids. Their pyramids are present as far as in St. Louis, Missourie in the USA. The parampara is lost, there is a disconnect between their past and the people. They are now made to believe that they were primitive culture who used to make human sacrifices to rain god for every little trivia. They have ruins of this ball game that can only be hit using feet, elbows and waist. Again, they have been made to believe that the loosing team captain had to be sacrificed after the match. Not only did they loose the parampara of their own history, their history has been distorted to make them look inferior and primitive. In the Sacred cenotel (water pond) in Chichen-Itza a 16th century Christian Spanish Diego De Landa postulated that children were sacrificed in that well by Mayans. That is the truth now. Every one else has to prove otherwise. Several divers have been inside the well and none found remains of children. But, then there are theories of what might have happened and why there are no bones of children. No body asks why the certain priest thought that children were sacrificed.

Just imagine if for twenty years all adults decided not to teach anything to their children. It would not just be loss of twenty years worth of knowledge but all the knowledge collected over ten thousand years could be lost. And such a loss could not be made up for in the next twenty years. Several decades will take to make up the gap, because of the discontinuity created in the accumulation of the knowledge.

In this way, those two hundred years of British dominance in India created a great gap. Most of its links with the ancient knowledge and wisdom were broken, and it had to establish an identity with a totally new and alien civilization with which its older civilization had no relationship. Indians think that theirs is a very old civilization. However, they are mistaken, they are only two hundred years old. The British in some sense are now far older a community than Indians. The education imparted by Maculey system has controlled many of our minds. That which the West chose to give India is its knowledge. Whatever India knew before 200 years ago was lost in one stroke.

When the threads of a branch of knowledge are lost, people seem just like ignorant fools. If you go out now with tika on your forehead, and someone asks you why you are wearing it, you will feel ashamed because you have no good answer. So, applying a tika cheerfully is difficult these days. Of course a simpleton can do it. He has no fear of others. But he is doing it not because he knows its purpose but because he thinks it is the thing to do.

When the links of real knowledge are broken, the outward symbols of it become difficult to carry. Then a certain tragedy results. Those with intelligence keep away. And a traditional knowledge remains meaningful only as long as intelligent people are involved in it. It is interesting to see that whenever such a misfortune overwhelms a civilization, whenever it looses its connection with the past knowledge, the intellectuals drift away from it because they do not like to look foolish. And the ignorant masses try to preserve the symbols and follow the rituals. The symbols and rituals continue for some time and unless revived die a natural death. It often happens that a valuable heritage is preserved by ignorant and backward looking people and the people who claim to understand disappear at the first opportunity.

If India wants to restore the broken links with the past, people will have to look at every ritual and sacraments that is being performed by the so called ignorant and illiterate masses. What they are doing is not without any reason. Their outward symbols are linked with the past of thousands of years. Some day we will have to thank them for at least having saved the symbols of that knowledge- symbols on which research can be done. Only by doing the research in to these rituals, symbols and the likes can we revive and give new life to the deep understanding that grew over a period of several thousand years.


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