Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Independence" - Perceptions of Ancient Seers

[Original Article in Kannada - by Vidwan Chayapathy;  English Rendering - by Archana Vagish]

 “Swaatantrya” (Independence) - what does this word mean? Independence is the unfettered opportunity available to a person or a country to prosper as per his or its wishes.  Independence is also interpreted as:  Freedom from oppression of others, self reliance, severing all ties that bind one etc. The saying -“Paaratantrya (Dependence) is hell and Swaatantrya is heaven” is popular among the masses.

There are several sovereign countries in the world. Each country has its own view point on “Independence”: “A country comprises of a community of people. A person belonging to the country and hence the community, should offer himself or herself for the betterment of the community. Any other form of personal Independence is meaningless” - This is the opinion advanced by the champions of national Independence. The Nation after all exists for the multi-faceted development of its people.  The unbridled opportunity available to each and every citizen to blossom as per his or her wish is independence. “A country that forbids this personal growth to its people is nothing but a prison. A person without a chance to develop according to one’s wishes can be likened to a breathing corpse”- These are the opinions of the proponents of personal freedom. Now the question arises: Liberty is for the person or for the country?

If the window of opportunity available to a person to develop as he or she pleases is termed independence, then does not this opportunity exist even to anti-social elements such as thieves, murderers and gamblers? If such is the case, what would happen to the welfare of the country? Shall we then say that liberty is living a life without any rules and restrictions? Isn’t it essential that citizens conform to the law of the land? If yes, then isn’t obeying the law imply a restriction on personal freedom? Then what is the boundary-line for the individual’s freedom and wantonness?

While interdependence in society, sharing amongst others, are essential for personal and national development, how is it practically possible to grow freely without depending on anyone? In fact, for people having the generous opinion that it is mandatory for the entire world to develop as one Nation, a discussion on national freedom is meaningless. Some arguments portray independence as imaginary and that it does not really exist. Whereas some believe independence is bestowed by Nature and is not artificial. So the next question is- Is freedom natural or artificial?

What is a fair and reasonable answer that puts all these questions to rest? Where are we to find such an answer? Are there people who have found a solution to this vexed problem? If yes, what is their answer? Are these solutions relevant even today? Or are these questions unanswerable? 

Directing their attention towards the path of progress of mankind and having identified the means to protect this independence, the ancient seers of our mother-land have obtained answers to these questions. We can ascertain the suitability or other-wise of these answers by pondering over them.
Why do we need independence? Independence is needed for living. It is therefore imperative that the nature of such independence required for living should be searched within the realm of life itself. What did the seers find? What plan did they envisage to protect such freedom? 

When one sows a jackfruit seed, the seed takes the form of root, shoot, supporting stem etc right upto the ripened fruit, finally taking the form of a seed again within the fruit. Where does the plan for such a development prevail? It is present within the original seed of the fruit itself! If we consider this seed of the tree as “self”(sva-its own), the  ability to grow according to the design (tantra) that exists within the seed can be called as the “independence (sva-tantra-own design)” of the seed. When one sows a jackfruit-seed, it does not yield mangoes or jasmine! When a seed starts growing into a tree up to the point that it culminates into a seed, its development cycle is said to be complete. Thus allowing a seed to grow gradually into a tree and enabling it to complete its cycle marks the true protection of its independence or swaatantrya.  Hence it can be said that one can ensure autonomy of the entity (the seed) by ensuring that its development cycle is allowed to be completed. And this independence is bestowed upon the seed by Nature itself and it is not artificial.

The same truth is applicable to independence in Life as well. Just as the tree is pervaded by the vigor of its seed, the body that signifies the tree of Life is pervaded by the vigor of its soul or the Jeeva-shakti. By following its inward path, through the withdrawal of the sense organs inwards, the ancient seers of Bhaarata could perceive an effulgent Light in the inner-most recesses. That spirit, that Light (Jyotirbeeja) in itself is recognized as the original seed of Life. The splinters arising out of this effulgent Light are the Jeevas. The objective of evolution is for the Jeeva to return to its Source. Thus, when the Jeeva (sva) evolves according to the plan (tantra) or design embedded in this ’Seed’ of life, this can be termed as true development of life and in that lies its true independence (sva-tantra). The body represents the middle stage of evolution. When the Jeeva inhabits it and develops with the intention of returning to its original form (Jyoti), this intention confirms and protects the true independence of the Jeeva. This independence is a gift of Nature to man; it is not imaginary. 

Now the Jeeva (also known as Purusha) dwells in the body (also known as pura) to truly develop as per his plan, to achieve the prime objective of human birth; the Purushaartha yojane (plan) allows him to achieve this objective which refers to attainment of Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha. This is tailor-made for the Purusha and not merely for the body. Nonetheless, all the sense organs (indriyas), mind (manas) and intellect (buddhi) too have a role to play in this scheme. Just as the branches, flowers, fruits etc play their part in the development cycle of the seed, the different body-organs become important tools for the Jeeva and they participate in the attainment of Swaatantrya of the Jeeva.

What exactly is this Purushaartha yojane? How does it operate? By ensuring the following: Dharma - Protecting the organs by using them in line with what they are designed; Artha - acquiring of wealth using these organs (or tools) without maligning this Dharma, ; Kaama - entertaining desires which do not endanger the Dharma of these organs and their purpose. If Life proceeds along these lines, the Jeeva can retrace its journey, in a very natural way, to its original abode (seed of life). That is Moksha or salvation. It is not death. When the tree bears fruit, it does not imply its destruction; rather it is its crowning moment. It is possible that one can live in the same body even after attainment of Moksha.  Hence Purushaartha yojane is that plan which establishes the fulfillment of the natural evolution of life. This indeed is the path to the preservation of the Swaatantrya of life. Just as the true Swaatantrya of the seed lies in its entering the soil and embracing the plan for its development, so does the true Swaatantrya of the Jeeva lie in embracing the Purushaartha yojane in one’s Life. Hence Swaatantrya cannot be equated to living according to one’s whimsicalities. Further, since such a plan exists for the complete and true development of every Jeeva, it is not wrong to say that this scheme is applicable for mankind in its entirety. This in itself is also the universal personal freedom. Such personal independence ensures comprehensive development of life (as per the plan of the Jeeva) and fills the life of the individual with peace, contentment and happiness.
A country exists for the welfare of its citizens. When they are given the opportunity to live according to the Purushaartha yojane or the plan to achieve the objectives of human birth, it implies that they are provided with the golden opportunity for their all-inclusive development. Hence, the ancient seers of India laid the goals for the Nation too as “Dharma-artha-kaama-moksha-roopa sarva purushaartha phalamidam raajyam” or “The purpose of the Country is (to enable its people) to attain the objectives of human birth namely Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha”. When the goals for the Jeeva and the country become one, personal independence and national independence get united. Such independence is the right and true asset of every individual and is worth fighting for even at the cost of one’s life. 

Personal independence is not an artificial or imaginary concept, but is bestowed by Nature. The ancient seers of our land have thus explained the essence of true independence - Becoming one with the omnipotent effulgent spirit wherein lies the home of all the Jeevas in the world. Hence this independence is worthy of universal esteem. 

The soul of this script is the inspiration of Sriranga Mahaguru who, having accomplished Swaatantrya, declared that “living a life in accordance with the absolute Truth is the true independence.” May this script be an offering to that lustrous Seed of Life!.