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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yours Weakly!..... Part 2/2

Having deep rooted interest in history, i was going through some very old Indian stories. I also have to highlight the phenomenon that the word "History" becomes "Story" with time. Asian cultures which boasts of timeless past and have documented history are generally discarded by the west as "mythological stories".

So it could be history or mythological stories of India which caught my attention that am sharing here.

The point i was making is that "Power blurs", people who feel that they are powerful tend to be less restrictive about rules and regulations that they have formed / are guarding. Lets see how the mighty heroes of ancient India stepped outside the framework they created for the larger world time and again!

  • I thought i shall start with a primer for those who are not very familiar with some characters in Indian mythology... Brahma (You can note the anagram of Abraham), Vishnu and Shiva are the divine trinity who Generate / create, Protect and Destroy. The world has always been with Angels (Devas / Gods men) and demons and Lord Vishnu takes multiple Avatars to support the devas and kill the asuras. Brahma gives birth to few sons, who are supposed to be the topnotch sages of the universe sharing the wealth knowledge and secrets with the mankind. So if you expect as i used to do that these Sages and Devas should be on the right of the law ALWAYS... then you are up for a big surprise. Lets see them.
  • Indra, is the head of Devas / Angels,  he and other Deva's actions on promiscuity and evil deeds are baffling:
    1. Enamored by the beauty of Akalika, wife of Sage Gouthama, tricked the sage and got him out of his house and made love with her. Akalika who is otherwise a model wife to the sage, got carried away by the pride in her beauty, lost control momentarily and consented for a physical relationship with Indra. Ofcourse both got cursed by the sage and suffered for some time in their life.
    2. Indra's father Kashyapar (He is the grandson of Brahma) had 2 wives - Thithi & Athithi (Indra's mother). When Thithi was conceived, both Indra and his mother connived and aborted Thithi's kid. Athithi got cursed and she became Devaki - Krishna's mother and lost 7 kids in front of her eyes before Krishna was born as the eighth kid.
    3. Chandran (Moon) according to mythology, is another grandson of Brahma, he eloped with his guru's (Brahaspathi) wife Tara. Guru's wife is equivalent to ones mother and even thinking of a relationship is an heinous crime. Despite repeated advice and requests he never agreed and in fact he got a son too - Budha (Mercury). It is interesting to think that Mercury - the nearest planet to sun and the smallest one, is a piece of moon and got into sun's orbit from this story. Leaving astronomy and origin of universe discussions aside, lets move forward with more FACTS.
    4. Budha had a casual fling (consensual one night's stand) with a lady called Ilay and she gave birth to a king called Puruvan.
    5. Puruvan lived with Urvashi - she is one of the key model and stakeholder of the " modern day Escort agency equivalent" run by king Indra in the heaven.
    6. Urvashi later got bored with Puruvan and lived with Sage Vyasar and gave birth to Sage Sukhar.
    7. Now, its interesting to know this family's lineage as this family has gifted the most important treasures for Hinduism. This family tree (Father son relationship) runs as Vishnu - - Brahma - Vashishtar - Sage Shakti - Sage Prarachar - Sage Vyasar - Sage Sukhar. This means Brahma is the son of Vishnu and father of Vashishtar. Each and every one of them is a role model, very divine, competent, wise and offered wealth of treasures in terms of knowledge & scriptures. Some key highlights are:
      • Sage Vashishtar compiled Yoga Vashishtam. (Told to Lord Rama by the sage.)
      • Sage Paracharar compiled Vishnu puranam.
      • Sage Vyasar compiled Brahma sutra, 4 Vedas in the current form we see, Mahabharata and hence Bhagavad Gita too. He was considered as a form of Vishnu as in "Vyasaya Vishnu roopaya, Vyasa roopaya Vishnave....."
      • Sage Sukhar compiled Bhagavatham.
    8. The point i was trying to make is to highlight how esteemed and sacred these sages are in the Hindu scriptures. Sage Paracharar wanted to cross Ganges and requested a boatman to ferry him through. Boatman's daughter (her birth is very interesting but not relevant here and hence am skipping) Makksanthi was ferrying the sage since her father was busy. The Sage fell for her beauty and insisted that she should consent for making love with him as they were travelling in the boat. Though she was very unwilling she finally agreed as the sage promised few interesting boons to her. This is nothing different from a modern day sex trade for "necessity is the mother of all strange bed mates."  
    9. If you are wondering what happened next, Sage Vyasa was born to that boatman's daughter. So one of the greatest sages of Hinduism is born purely out of his father's uncontrollable physical urge and a low caste woman, in the midst of the sage's business / personal trip. Sage Paracharar did not take her as wife, did not pay her any alimony but gave few boons and went his way.
    10. Makkasanthi renamed herself as Sathyavati, married a king (Santhanu), gave birth to 2 sons who died very early after marriage without any offspring to manage the kingdom.
    11. Sathyavathi requested her son Sage Vyasa to make love with both her daughter-in laws. Both of them did not like Sage Vyasa but yet went through the  act and gave birth to Pandu and Dridrurashtra - and here starts popular Mahabharatha. Sage Vyasa also gave birth to the Vithura (intelligent minister in Mahabharata) through a prostitute.

These are some points which i could remember from what i read. So, whats the point? We could agree on one or more of the following points and get on with life!

  1. Be it a king or Devas, or Sages or Brahmins or any powerful personality whoever it is there are multiple instances of cardinal sins - conceived and indulged and they are still revered. For the sins they committed, they have got cursed went through the punishments and washed their sins away. There is nothing as 100% pure in this mortal world. Lets agree that there are black spots even in the best of the person's life.
  2. In fact Thiruvalluvar went one step ahead and told "தேவர் அனைவர் கயவர்" - All god mens are mean and evil.  
  3. Another perception is according to scriptures "Why you are the way you are?" is already precoded. Its a fatalistic or Causal theory which is very deterministic about macro aspects of life. Whether we agree with it or not is a matter of choice. If you agree with this, you also need to agree that we (the common man) don't have the power to change things and has to go through life in a detached way. Thats a monkish view of life. 
  4. A man who thinks he is powerful / who is powerful always has a red line that appears blurred - with some -ves in their lives. But their +ves far outweigh their negatives. Whether we want to say that the glass is "Half full or Half empty" is again a matter of choice.
  5. Finally there is a section of people who firmly believe that they are not all powerful because either they understand their limitations or they submit themselves to an higher authority like god or parents or Church or Imams or law of the land, or they are fear ridden due to uncertainty or death - could be any reason - which form the majority of this world. They stick to the framework, play by the rules, have a value system - voluntary or forced by the society or life has not given them the opportunity or an environment to make mistakes. This set of human beings are called the weaklings but yet they are strongest link in maintaining worldly order.  
  6. Scientifically speaking this character and disposition is there in our genes - at least in many of us!. 

Above all we need to recognize the fact that this world has long back moved from a "Character centric / Value centric system" to more shallow "personality centric system". Much of our problem is solved if we recognize this movement and we taking membership in either one of the clubs and not both.

So in the near future if you hear that some one like President Obama is involved in a sex scandal or a corruption case and if it impinges on your value system, then just recognize which group you belong to.

Till then,

Yours weakly
Happy reading!


  1. Good finish to the Yours Weakly duology! I must mention that your grasp on mythology and religion is as strong as your knowledge on philosophy, strategy and management. I have seen you apply these learnings in modern day life, quoting fluently from these mythological stories as from Thirukkural or martial arts.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, though I started with reading Part 2 first so it was bit of a spoiler for me. But I re-read it after Part I to get the entire context. I completely agree with your point of view of the weak being the real strong over time. Our story of history is strewn with many such examples.

    Several times the strength of the strong and the size of the huge works against them and the apparently weak, nimble and agile win the battle. Like birches surviving the snowfall and cold winter whereas the stronger trees get uprooted. You have brilliantly used mythology, yin-yang and Thirukkural to arrive at this.

    However, more interesting is the conclusion that 'Power Corrputs' and our value system needs to be aligned based on character or personality. Often we have inner conflicts when a role model in the society errs or is impinged and we have difficulty in coming to terms and distinguishing the act from the personality.

    Keep writing!



    P.S.: I guess by Prarachar you mean Parashar who fathered Vyas or Krishna Dwaipayana. Although I had not heard of "Makkasanthi", I believe it may be a variation of Matsyagandha, meaning one with the smell of fish. Also, Vidur was fathered by Vyas to a dasi sent by Ambika in her place (and not a prostitute).

  2. Hi Ashish

    Thats the best comment i have received yet. Thanks!..

    1. Paracharar & Parashar are just linguistic variations between North and south i guess. They are the same.
    2. Makkasanthi and Matsyagandha are the same names used interchangeably to the extent i have read.
    3. Dasi is the exact term who can be also interpreted as servant. Prostitute would not be the appropriate term. But i guess i was influenced by some of the comments from Duriyodhan before the war, ridiculing the birth of Vidur where he insinuates this way. Guess i would take this as correction!.

    Many many thanks.

  3. HI RAGS,
    My knowledge of the story of sage vyasa's birth fails to agree with ur version of the story.
    sage parasara did not indulge with satyavati/matsyganda with any carnal desire.
    when he was travelin by a sea side one day, he through his extraordinary knowledge of astrology realised that the astrononomical placing of the planets was so good that if he joined a woman at that time, then the son born wil be a one with great knowledge and values.
    when he saw around, she was the only girl he was a rishi he didn wanna have a family n all he persuaded her to accept, with some boons given to her. his only motive was not to miss the chance of giving to this world a great rishi like the vyasa and there was no other selfish intentions in his act.
    more over u have stated that matsyavati was a daughter of boatman, which is also contradicting.
    she was a duaghter of a fisherfolk. her name itself reveals that. matsya means fish and ganda means smell, which ultimately means that she was a fishy smelling lady.
    please check and review it if am right

  4. Hi Venkataraman

    Nice observation on the blog. You are not wrong on the astronomical reason for the event. But I have come across the other version which explicitly states Parachar's physical urge too. So both may be right but I have decided to stick to the version which is published in the blog.

    I don't disagree with your statement on the noble intentions of paracharar. Check out the introduction about the family in the same blog.

    Matsyagandhi is not he daughter of a boatman or fisherman folk, but is the daughter of king Puruvan and a fish. I have not published this story but is very interesting one, which explains why she is smelling fishy...

    The whole act is impulsive (intentions does not matter) and done for a consideration (some boons were given) to get this surrogacy done. This is the point I was trying to make.

    But really appreciate your knowledge on the Indian history..

    Thanks for the comment.