Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Ashwatthama Sighted – The Chiranjeevi who wants to die!!

We saw in the last blog that Ashwatthama was a Chiranjeevi, an immortal being who lives and treads among us in modern times. I also hinted that what was a boon for the other Chiranjeevis was a curse for Ashwatthama. This post explains it further.

Once Duryodhana was defeated in the Mahabharath war, Ashwatthama wanted to take revenge against the Pandavas for killing his father through unfair means and also for destroying the Kaurava forces, to which he owed his loyalty. A livid Ashwatthama, vowed to destroy the lineage of Pandavas. Contemplating his next move, he saw an owl silently attacking a flock of crows in the night. Inspired, by this, he wanted to swoop silently on the Pandava camp in the dead of the night and kill the Pandavas. He executed his plan successfully, but there was a fatal flaw. The Pandavas were actually in the Kaurava camp on that night and were just coming back. Instead, all the living sons of the Pandava brothers were killed. Ashwathama was on his way out after killing, but was surprised by the sight of the returning Pandavas. The Pandavas also realized the extent of Ashwatthama’s foul play against their sons.

Ashwatthama in desperation resorted to the maximum force available with him ‘The Bramhastra’, a fearsome divine weapon. To invoke the astra, he used a blade of grass and used the ancient knowledge of arcane shlokas said in a specific manner in a specific tone. This was almost like a password or voice command. To counter the astra Arjun also projected his own Bramhastra, the only way to counter the oncoming astra. With the fearsome power of two astras detonating simultaneously the destruction of the earth was eminent. In this desperate time, Sage Vyasa with his yogic powers stopped the collision and asked both warriors to take back the astras.

The astras were controlled by the voice commands that were used to target or call back. Arjun invoked the voice command to take back the astra while Ashwatthama conceded that he did not know how to do it. A warrior who can invoke and take back an astra can use it multiple times but those who cannot revoke the astra can only use it once. Guru Drona felt that Arjun was his only student who is blessed with both character and competence. Hence, only Arjun was given full knowledge of the Bramhastra - both the art of sending the missile and withdrawing it in times of need.

Ashwatthama meanwhile was given the option to direct it towards the destruction of just one object and out of his spite filled rage he directed it towards the womb of Uttara, wife of Abhimanyu and tried to kill the yet unborn son. Krishna was enraged by this spiteful behavior.

Krishna cursed Ashwatthama to be a Chiranjeevi and roam the earth for eons to come. Ashwatthama was cursed to carry the burden of all people’s sins on his shoulders and to roam alone like a ghost without getting any love and courtesy till the end of Kaliyuga; he would have neither any hospitality nor any accommodation; he would be in total isolation from mankind and society; his body will suffer from a host of incurable diseases forming sores and ulcers that would never heal”. He took back his crowning glory, the jewel on his forehead and left his forehead with a gaping wound that was pus filled, festering and with a foul smell. He was also cursed to forget all of his knowledge and his entire memory erased. He would be known as Suryakant in Kaliyuga. For a legendary warrior who was a storehouse of knowledge this was the worst form of punishment. An endless life of wandering the earth without knowledge, in pain and with a festering wound. He was given the task of accompanying other chiranjeevis for greeting the next Vishnu avatar Kalki at the time of his birth.
With a bleeding forehead, Ashwatthama roams around the earth and the stories of his encounters with those living abound.

An exceptionally gifted doctor in Madhya Pradesh claimed that he treated a tall dark man with a festering wound for five years without success. He invoked the similarity between his wound and Ashwatthama, upon which the person disappeared.

Near Burhanpur, within the confines of an old rundown fort of Asirgarh a small Shiva temple has a devotee who has been offering flowers since times immemorial perhaps to ask for forgiveness and stop the pain.

Some yogis said that they have had conversations with Ashwatthama who lives among a Bheel tribe in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Prithviraj Chauhan is supposed to have met Ashwatthama and tried to cure his wounds but failed to do so. A book written on him called “Pritviraj Rasso” describes this meeting.

In late 14th, early 15th century there lived in Gadag, Karnaatak, a poor Braahman called Naranappa achieved fame with his rendition of the Mahabharatha in kannada. The story goes that he was told the Mahabharatha as it happened by Ashwatthama himself.

In case you are visiting the foothills of Himalays or to any of the above mentioned places, perhaps you will be blessed with the sight of an old man with a festering wound and a foul smell with an aura of intrigue about him.

Perhaps you too will be blessed with the darshan of a Chiranjeevi, one who is suffering and is in search of death. Do not worry, he will not harm you nor does he have the capacity to harness his legendary powers or any of the Bramhastra. His memory has been wiped out and his knowledge lost! Be brave enough to meet him, in case you sight him! Good Luck!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Immortals of India….. Chiranjeevi: Where do they live?

THE average person’s introduction to the word Chiranjeevi is mostly through the word being used a prefix for sons or daughters in some languages. Also, popular is the usage in wedding invites whereby the bride and grooms names have the “Chi” suffix. Many will also remember the BR Chopra Mahabharat in which the aashirwad (boon granted by elders when shown respect) of choice was Chiranjeevi Bhava (Be a Chiranjeevi). So what does the actual word mean? It actually is an amalgamation of chiram (long) and jivi (lived). Essentially, a person who has long life or one who does not die.

There is a very poignant Sanskrit vrse or shloka that lists the names of the chiranjeevis. It is believed that recitation of this shloka itself will imbibe you with positive vibes and a long life. The Shloka goes thus.

                Ashwathaama Balirvyaaso Hanumanshcha Vibheeshanaha
                Krupaha Parshuramascha Saptaitey Chiranjivinaha
                Saptaitaan Samsmareynnityam Markandeymathaashtamam
                Jivedvarshshatam Sopi Sarvavyadhivivarjit

The above lines means that by daily remembering these 8 immortals (Ashwatthama, King Bali, Ved Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kripacharya, Parashuram and Rishi Markandaya) one can be free of all problems and live for 100 years.

There have always been rumors about sightings of the chiranjeevis in India. How even in these modern times they have interacted with men of our times. Especially common are the reports of sightings of Hanuman and Ashwatthama. They live in different forms and it is stated in Bhagvatam the Maha Puranic Text that they will assemble at the end of Kaliyagua at the time of birth Kalki Avatar Sambhala Village, Dravida Desha on the banks of Tamiraparni River.

The chiranjeevis do have a very special purpose. They function as the link between the long ages of human history and evolution. They are destined to function as repositories of ancient knowledge and wisdom. When humanity will have the need for this ancient knowledge, when the very existence of our world will be in peril, it is this ancient knowledge that will be revealed and will save the world.

It is interesting to note that all these chiranjeevis are supposed to be great warriors. Immortality by itself can be looked at a curse or as a boon especially for a warrior. For all others the immortality was a boon, a reward or recognition for the stellar role they played in shaping the events of their times but the shloka starts with Ashwatthama who was given his immortality as a curse.

Why did he get his immortality? And is he condemned to suffer in pain for eternity? We will look into this in the next weeks post.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Chanakyas Immolation : Did he commit suicide by burning himself?

Chanakya lived in a tumultuous time and one cannot start to comprehend the stellar role he played in shaping the events of his time. His tomes “Arthashastra” and “Nitishastra” have lessons for us even after 2000 years and are very much relevant. Economics, Ethics, Politics, Governance, Administration and Philosophy. That is an impressive range of subjects to excel in.
What makes, Chanakya stand out is his practical abilities to see farther than others, influence decisions and make things happen. His success can be gauged by the fact that he was the chief architect of the then greatest empire in India. He ensured that a relatively unknown Chandragupta got crowned at the tender age of 19 and founded the Mauryan Empire. What many people do not know is that with one of his decisions he ensured an heir for the Maurya Empire but bought death upon himself. That too in the most painful way!! Burning himself alive!! Legend has it that one of the most effective way of killing a king was to poison him. Chanakya the ever aware advisor of Chandragupta was himself using this tactic. To ensure that the king would not be affected by the poison, he wanted to build up his immunity. To do this Chanakya unknown to the king would mix a very small amount of poison in Chandragupta’s food. Once when Chandragupta’s wife, the queen was heavily pregnant, she by mistake tasted the food of Chandragupta. Heavily pregnant and in a delicate state, she collapsed and Chanakya was called in. Upon understanding the situation, there were two choices, to save the mother with the antidote but by the time it would act the unborn child would have been dead in the womb by poisoning. Second was to cut open the mothers belly and get the child out before the poison reaches the child. Chanakya dispassionate as ever gave prominence to continuity of lineage rather than mother’s life and the son Bindusara was taken from him mother’s womb in the nick of time. The poison and the cutting of her womb led to the queen’s death. Just a bit of the poison reached the boy and he was marked with a blue tinged dot or Bindu. This was the origin of the name King Bindusara, who succeeded Emperor Chandragupta. The story of his birth was kept secret from him. When in time Bindusara ascended the throne with Chanakya continuing to advise him but another advisor Subandhu wanted the full ear of the Emperor. He gave a perverted version of the story of the emperor’s birth and blamed Chanakya for the death of him mother. Bindusara sidelined Chanakya. The respect his father showed to Chankya was history. Subandhu and the council of ministers kept reminding Bindusara about Chanakya being the killer of his mother. Rather than face the ignominy of a diminished stature, the wrath of a King he had delivered in a kingdom he had created, he chose to end his life. He would immolate himself on a heap of dung cakes in his own chambers. Hearing this a loyal nurse gave the full picture to Bindusara who was racked with guilt and tried to stop Chanakya. But Chanakya had resolved to die. Bindusara in a fit of rage and revenge ordered the killing of Subandhu. In the end Chanakyas death was as spectacular as his life. He lit his own pyre and died as a roaring fireball. He chose to face his creator in death just as he had faced the world in his life, on his own terms and at a time of his choosing.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Ashoka’s Nine Secret Keepers : Alchemy to Gravity Ancient Secrets of Modern Sciences

We all have heard about western secret societies and hidden secrets that they possess. The Da Vinci Code made Dan Brown a household name and sparked an interest in examining ancient documents, stories and legends in a new context. By some accounts the longest continuously running secret society is based right here in India!! In a testament to their success to keep secrets - they are hardly known and just faint rumors are all that abound.
Formed by Ashoka (the idea originating from Chanakya days), the NINE UNKOWN MEN constitute a ultra secret society. Its mission to develop and keep secret nine ancient knowledge streams. They were to use it only to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction. Rumors also abound that they use their knowledge to make the world a better place. The nine knowledge areas or shastras include Pshchology and Propoganda Warfare, Physiology, Microbiology, Alchemy, Communication, Gravitation, Cosmology, Light and Sociology. The leaked portions of the texts have been attributed to the development of various things. Glimpses and hints of the shastras are also strewn in the ancient records being unearthed. Judo with its pressure points and fatal moves is attributed in part to ancient Physiology. The Ancient Sanskrit texts detailing the use and construction of various aircrafts and weapons and its after effects are scarily modern in nature. The Chinese have found Sanskrit texts in Lhasa which describe gravity assist in interstellar travel. There is a record of a Sanskrit scholar building an airplane based on ancient texts which was tested in Mumbai. This was eight years before the first flight by Wright Brothers! The keepers of the knowledge are famously secret. Interaction with outside world is minimal but among those who are suspected to have a contact include Pope Sylvester the Second, Yersin a close confidant of Louis Pasteur and the eminent Indian Scientist and polymath Jagdish Chandra Bose!!! The secret is supposed to be buried in ancient texts and across various temples and inscriptions in India. There is a chance of getting some of the secrets if not the full store of knowledge. It will require a multidisciplinary team of Sanskrit scholars, decoding the Harappan language, scientists and philosophers as well as archeologist. Perhaps one day we will get a believer who will take the mammoth task of building the team and cracking the secrets!! Or else humanity needs to be on the brink for the Nine Unknown Men to Reveal themselves and push us in the right direction. What was the origin of the Nine Unkown Men? How did they decode mysteries in the Chanakya era which even then were ancient? To know more, read the soon to be released mythological thriller “The Indus Challenge”