Friday, June 03, 2005

Where is the Brahmanan in Me?

For a long time, I have always faced the wrath of my parents and other staunch Hindu Brahmin friends, for being too radical and not following the rituals and procedures that has been laid out in my culture, which is supposed to be followed if I am to be called as a Brahmin. I have always hated following the rahu kalas and believing in stupid superstitions, long rituals and other poojas laid out in the various scriptures or which has been followed by our ancestors over a period of time.

The Hindu religion has always believed in and followed the caste based systems of society. The Shudras were supposed to be doing all the menial jobs like cleaning, washing, and other such trades. The Vyshyas were traders.The Kshatriyas were warriors and finally the Brahmanas were the people who were in fields like teaching and were supposed to reach the God and the Universal Truth. Now, in pursuit of the truth many down the line followed a certain path and tried to reach god. The various paths that have been laid out, must have been simple. But I feel, over a period of time, in order to maintain the supremacy in the social structure, the brahmanas made more and more rituals and complicated the whole issue by including many rituals and poojas, which by virtue of their complications and fear of antoganising the god, the common people followed them unquestioningly.

I feel, that if I have to search the truth, then I must have the freedom to choose my own path. This freedom has never been denied, but has always come under heavy prejudices by many who feel that not following what our ancestors have laid out, is a sign of confused mind, which is neither here nor there. Let me take a couple of examples, even at the cost being verbose.

Following the Rahu Kalam and Nalla Neram( The Bad and Good time of the day in hindu mythology).I personally have never bothered about starting a new venture on an auspicious time, or not starting it in rahu kala. I believe that there is never a wrong time to do a right thing. Believing in god, gives me faith. And that faith moves mountains. If things go wrong as they will, that faith is the anchor. But that does not mean that one must get overwhelmed by the rituals and sayings and forget the main objective. I can quote many examples, some from my personal life also, that even after carefully following the shastram and sampradayams, the efforts have not yielded any results, simply because they were not enough or were in the wrong direction.

Vegetarianism is another hotly contended item in the list. It is good to be a vegetarian because of all its good scientific advantages to health. But if someone says because I am a Brahmin and therefore I am supposed to be a vegetarian, then its ridiculous. Following a certain way of life is my choice. In the olden society, the Kshatriyas were always on the move and on campaigns and the Vysas were busy doing business which again kept them on the move. On the other hand, Brahmins were mostly confined to a one place like gurukul, temple or palace and lead a calm life, enhancing their knowledge, serving god and searching the truth by meditation and things like that. They were even prohibited from crossing the ocean. So the other community people were not bounded by vegetarianism except for the Brahmins for the simple reason that only they could have followed it by virtue of their lifestyle. But, today, there are more Brahmins going abroad, there are even those who have taken up arms as their profession, which was unimaginable even 300yrs ago. If they choose to exercise the option of non vegetarianism, then whats wrong in it?

For all those of you who quote ahimsa as the principle behind vegetarianism, then there can be nothing farther than the truth. We kill houseflies, cockroaches, snakes and all other living things. Is it not himsa? Nobody has been endowed with the right to choose what to kill and what not to kill!

Does, not following these makes me a non Brahmin or a fool? For times immemorial, Brahmins have staunchly believed and practiced social discrimination and untouchability. Even today, there are Brahmin households which has a separate tumbler for giving water to even fellow Brahmins from other subcastes. But many do not follow those principles, having realized the futility of such shortsighted parochial stands. In other words they have infact exercised their choice of not following them. In the same way, if one is convinced that vegetarianism or following Rahu kalam is not going to help in anyway his lifestyle, then whats wrong? Is it unfair for someone who chooses to be a good human being first and has a set of higher ideals rather than getting stuck in these rituals and sampradayas?

And finally, why does all religion preaches to renounce the self? Many feel happy to say that we are no one in this universe and cosmos. Why we must eschew comforts for reaching god. Why cant we be wealthy, proud of ourselves, comfortable and yet reach god? I feel there must be a simpler way to do any thing. Even reaching god. The Human mind has been empowered with a reasoning ability evolved over a billion years, simply not to renounce it, but to ask questions and find answers. And unfortunately, it has been indoctrinated for times immemorial that we are nothing and no one in this universe and things to that effect.

Having said these, When somebody, asked me a question as to where this freedom, which had never been denied in the first place has taken me, I was taken aback. Yes. It was one of the most profound questions, which made me realize that I need to take stock of all that I have learned and tried to follow.

This freedom has given me the power to choose my own path. As long as no one has ever known the path to the truth, the Brahman, I shall choose my own path. Sure, people like Vivekanada had made great progress, but for all you know, it could have been in the wrong jungle. So, not to regret later, I shall trace my own way, however hard, however slow. I may fail, I may get belittled, I may become an outcaste, I may reach nowhere, but I shall grind my own way in search of the truth. The Brahman.

In this search, till now I have realized a few things.

The self is supremely powerful, and if there is one omnipotent force, it is the self and hence, I start my search, inwards, to seek the truth, to search myself. The Krishna is in us. Deep inside. And in this experiment, I have the power to choose my tools.

I believe in equality and treating fellow human beings with respect.

Achieving purity of mind and thought is the end. All the poojas and sampradayas are mere means. There is no obligation for me to follow them as long as I am trying to reach the end, in my own ways.

I believe that pursuit of happiness is not a sin, but pursuing happiness by infringing on others is a sin.

I believe greed for anything is not a sin. But usurping from others to satiate that greed is a sin. As a corollary, I say It’s the greed for excellence among the very few of us, that has powered all development in this world today.

Seeking wealth is not a sin, but seeking it illegally and immorally is a sin.

I believe emotions like anger is not a sin. But taking out that anger on someone else is a sin.

I feel that we have been empowered with the ability to reason, not to simply denounce it and blindly follow others. The self need not be denounced. There is no need to sacrifice. I believe I have the power to be anything and anyone in this humanity, and such a quest is not a sin as long as I do it ethically. The self is supreme.

Every human being has got a deva and asura in him. Its that asura, we need to conquer, without pity, without remorse and that’s what I believe Bhagavat Gita preaches. That is our karma. To conquer the asura in us. Its not a war against anything else. It’s a civil war with ones own self!

Talking about karma, I have chosen the profession of arms. I fight for people I have not seen. I have killed/caused to kill people I don’t know and I fight for a cause I don’t believe. But I shall do it till my last drop of blood, because, that is my job, my karma.

At 16, when I asked myself and my near dears just before my exams, that if I don’t appear in XII class exams, will it invalidate all that I have studied and make me an illiterate, I was wondering about the truth. Now when I am actively posting this blog, I am seeking that truth.

I may be termed as arrogant and intransigent, But it doesn’t matter.Because, as I have said in my earlier blog, character is what I am, reputation is what others think I am. Character is a fact, but reputation is just an opinion. And, opinions are functions of time.

Last but not the least, In my death bed, in that moment before my last breath, when I close my eyes in naked honesty, If I realize that in search of that truth, I have made stupendous progress, but in a wrong jungle like a zillion others, I will only smile because it was my choice to choose that jungle. And I will be contented, because I fought till my end!!

This is what freedom means to me!!

So where is the brahmanan in me? If rituals and sampradhayas are all that brahminism is about, then I wish to be outcasted. But achieving purity of mind and thought, in search of that truth is brahminism, then I feel I am on the right track!


Muthukumar Puranam said...

who said there is a truth which you don't know?

jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn said...

I guess all of us new brahmins are caught in between our customs and what we ought to do in today's day and age. Many fo the tenets of brahmninism are no longer culturally important, nor are they interlinked. I agree with you overall, since I have been in similar situations and I identify with them.


The Soul Doctor said...

@ muthu..answer my questions if u know...

who are we?
where did we come from?
where are we going?

do u know the truth? or do you believe that something told by our ancestors as the truth?

Lakshminarasimhan said...

SK! I'd love to discuss at length on what you have posted here. But Let me just sow the seed for now and let you water it.

1.Drinking is not bad. But losing ones mind in an inebriated state is bad, because one may do things which one would never do in a normal state of mind. Once drunk is not possible to control one's mind. So it is best to avoid getting drunk.

Desires, Anger, greed etc, are all different forms of 'inebreation'! It is best for us to avoid these emotions.

I'll forward an article on this sometime this week.

Why cause pain to animals to satisfy ones own taste? Do you beleive everyone who consumes meat does it only for hunger and not for taste?

anbudan Lakshminarasimhan.

The Soul Doctor said...

Desires, anger and all other emotions are all states of inebriation. If that be so, then why live? Whats the point in living? Why so much pains and why so much struggle? Where is the charm in living such a life devoid and bereft of any emotions, like a vegetable?

I had written a blog titled Dreams Unlimited, for which there was a discussion in the comments. I had replied about how this mankind has been programmed to sustain itself by the desire to copulate, without which it would just have become extinct long ago.

Lets take the concept of procreation. God created living beings and he created an excellent mechanism of sustaining this life in earth by the very "wants, desires and selfish motives" you are trying to shun. How?

To procreate, man and women needs to copulate. There was a danger that they never would want to do that. What will happen? This world wouldn’t have been there anymore.

So sustain that process of procreation, before a man dies, he attached an unmatchable pleasure that takes man to heights of happiness and self satisfaction that he is tempted to do it. The sexual urge of any man is the highest embodiment of selfish desire. Because when that urge comes to him, its all about a burning desire to get satisfied of the self, that in the first instance makes him look for his partner . Man doesnt think that he is doing a noble job of procreation, at the time of feeling the urge, at that first instance that makes him look for his partner. What I am talking about is that one micro second of man's life when the urge is produced, that causes the urge. What produces the urge? Its the desire. Think about it.

Its just a process to satisfy the selfish desire. There can be nothing more selfish than satisfaction of ones sexual urge. And the moment of ecstasy so results is the highest form of achievement for, it provides a highest sense of happiness and harmony, that you can ever experience, next to being with god!!

This trait is inherited from animals. So you cant say that this is a result of any ills of society or due to any acquired traits of man. So, it is but apparent that even god never intended to keep the wants away from creatures (man included) and infact he cleverly used it as a tool to sustain life and procreation.

And, in the true sense, If man has to renounce, then he must first renounce this desire of sexual satisfaction, (which indeed is propagated in hinduism) meaning that in an ideal world, where every one takes renunciation, there would be no procreation and hence this is a path to destruction. thats why many sages from hindu culture, recognized this and indeed got married.

In an ideal world, people would do their duties. Its logical that they would perform the act of sex for noble thoughts alone. But still, the drive to perform this act, the feeling which causes the feeling to perform a noble act of procreation would still irrefutably be a desire and a need. Thats the way god has created living beings and programed them to sustain this world.

But can there be more hypocrisy, than saying that we have renounced without having shunned our sexual desires? And if indeed we do so, arent we going against nature in a destructive path that god never intended in the first place???

The Soul Doctor said...

I don’t disagree with you when you say that not all of us kill animals just for hunger and most of us infact do it for taste. Nevertheless…..

Well! There is something called quality which Robert Pirsig analyses so well in his book the zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Eating for taste falls under this subject of quality. Its too deep a subject to formulate a reply in two or three sentences. If you have the time, kindly read through the e book.

It’s a master piece. A lifetime read.

Survival is the key. Survival of the fittest and life cycle concept need not be even highlighted to a biology scientist like you. In a rough analogy, if there is only one bread and two humans, one of them must eat it to survive, for this humanity to survive. We cant talk of virtues at that point. Even in day to day existence, your survival is someone else’s denial. If you book a railway ticket, you have denied it to someone else. You did it because you were fitter to reach the counter before him and take that ticket. Does that mean you are wrong?

Revathi Krishnan said...

HI Karthik,

Nice article. But I feel all these questions and debate become meaningless when one realises, any caste is not based on birth, rather it is based on the karma. It is mentioned in the Gita. One is a brahman based on his karma and not because he is born in a brahmin family. Brahman means Dwija - twice born. Everyone is born physically. One who is spiritually born is called a brahman. In essence, one who knows himself is a brahman. One who is awake all the time (not physically but spiritually) is a brahman. Hope it makes sense.
As you mentioned the goal is important. If one forgets the goal but start paying too much attention or get stuck on the means (ways), then it is a useless task!

- Revathi

The Soul Doctor said...

@ Revathi

But I feel all these questions and debate become meaningless when one realises, any caste is not based on birth, rather it is based on the karma

Is it that way things are happening? When a child is born in sudra's house, is it given an oppurtunity to study, learn and realise the brahman in him, unlike a child born in brahmin house? When you dont give section of people to enter schools and villages,how do you expect them to be spiritually awake??

Agreed, it is written in gita, but why didnt karna was allowed to keep his learnings and let him continue with his guru and remain a brahman? He was infact given the curse because he was born as a kshatriya, in a Kshatriya family. you would like to check up on that.

I can explain what you have explained in a different way in detail. Give me sometime before I get to this.


Revathi Krishnan said...

I think education has nothing to do with spiritual awakening.. It can help but it is not the basic qualification! One can see many examples from the history and even in our life.

It is worth noting Gita was given by the GOD after the Karna's incident! :) So Gita seems to have addressed things that went wrong! I think GOD doesn't miss!

Shashank said...

Hi doc!
Man that was reaaaal deep.
All that bold lettered stuff was an insight to anyone who chooses to believe.
I gotta say that every article that you post makes me more confident about myself. I feel that there are people who think like i do and that makes a normal human being.

Besides that i would also like to point out that many of the rituals by our ancestors were defined out of need perhaps.
Forget rituals, take the simple things for instance, cutting nails or hair after sunset or not eating non-veg food on an auspicious day.

Also i believe that there do not exist a separate heaven or hell.
Its what you make out for yourself in your current life.
Let me clarify. If one lives the life in positive way then after death and rebirth the energy transfered from his old life to his new makes new life heaven or hell.Heaven or hell is ON earth and you are living in either one just because of your own choice. if you have got the proper attitude and are content with life then its heaven for you here.

Besides i also believe like you that God resides within us and aids us through our thinking and reasoning.

Nice post.