The Importance Of Epics
So hello. Welcome to CEC guru lecture series on introduction to Indian philosophy. Uh, today, I must begin by denouncing all those who look down upon Indian heritage and thought people take pride in disowning, their own rich cultural heritage. My sincere advice to such people is that if you have to denounce any system of thought or any theory for that matter construct arguments to do so do not reject something without understanding the background and context, the basis, the purpose, the problems and. Their resolutions, so what really happens.
And this is my perception, totally that a person a refutes, another person b, because either the person a cannot or does not understand the person b or the person, a thinks that he or she is right? Therefore, the person b is wrong. So basically, no rational argumentation happens. What is required is a genuine research on topics or theories, you wish to either dismantle or defend. And even if your purpose is, neither to defend nor to dismantle then even more. So an. Objective drive to genuine research will follow now.
Uh, the Indian philosophical schools are rigorous and methodology methodologically sound in their approach as you get to know how skillfully theories have been devised formulated or established all I just said will be corroborated in this lecture. I will give you an overview of the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata as there are so many references either to these schools in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata or to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in. These schools I was once asked by someone why do you tell stories from the Mahabharata in your lectures on Indian philosophy?
I only want to say here, and that is that what I learn and appreciate I must share also these anecdotes make a subject interesting lively and more relatable. Moreover, I would say that these epics, although they are centered around a certain theme. They are great philosophical treatises as they deal with ethical social political as well as metaphysical problems in my previous. Lectures, I discussed the nautical schools or schools, which do not regard Vedas as reliable or authoritative. Now, the six article schools of Indian philosophy, which I will do in my subsequent lectures. They are firmly rooted in the shrubs and Smith's. And these schools are Sankara yoga, Nyasa vaisheshika.
Now, these schools may or may not assert the existence of god, but they all accept the authority of the Vedas. So the Asia and nastier are not to be confused with theism and atheism. I want to point.
Out that, uh, the Indian tradition with varied streams of thinking, uh, has not displayed any hostility towards any system of thought, whether a system asserts the existence of god or denies. It has never been an issue of protest or violent hostilities. There may be some examples here and there of such antagonism, but they have largely been refuted. Anyway. Let us now come to the main point of discussion, which is about the ancient Indian literary texts, and they can be encapsulated under the classification. Of shrubs and sprites. Now, what are shrubs and sprites?
Let us understand shut as the name suggests means and Smith means remembered when we say shut is something that is heard what is meant is that it is a revelation. Probably a divine revelation. It includes the four Vedas, namely, rigged, Ayurveda, Saavedra and atharvaved. The Brahmans, the areas and the Upanishads Smith refers to all the knowledge developed and taught after shut had been received shut.
Therefore, is the final word from. The Vedas smritis are a collection of texts based on memory. So we may very well, refer these texts as founded on traditions.
The Smith texts have supported elaborated interpreted and even clarified the shut texts. And therefore, these texts are equally important to understand. If we wish to understand the Indian philosophical thought, the sprites include the six Vedanta, the dharma astral, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. And the Purana I have already in my previous lectures, discussed the. Shrutis and the six Vedanta, and therefore, I wish to deal only with the epics in today's lecture and would begin with a quotation from the Brahmans onwards through the surreys literature down to the sprites. We find that the tendency towards the external observance of rituals has been joined up with the notion of social good as well, a definite scheme of life of a man with detailed instructions for his duties in every stage of life has been choked out this scheme tries to reconcile the supremacy.
Of Vedic injunctions and the necessity of social virtues on the one hand and the virtues for self-purification for the final enlightenment on the other, it seems that it tries to harmonize these two types of standards mentioned above which being of opposite nature should have otherwise drifted apart. The importance of Smith. Literature cannot be overlooked. It quite elaborately presents the code of human conduct its various forms and the various relationships.
We can witness all this under the. Following heads, the first is the three-fold scheme of dharma, which includes the Verna dharma, the ashram dharma and the Saharan dharma. The Indian society was classified into four vernal or classes with each Verna assigned a specific duty, the ashram dharma developed fully at the time of the Upanishads. And it is related with the four-fold division of an individual's life. These were to be strictly followed by all Sahara and dharma's, or the general duties were to be followed by all irrespective. Of the Verna or ashram one belonged to these duties included AHIMA or non-injury, Satya or truth, a Rocha or non-anger, Priya or sweet language.
That is speaking sweet, language, day or compassion, REMA or love for all beings, swath Thiago or avoidance of egoism or avoidance of speaking ill of others. Now the second head consists of the duties pertaining to social welfare. And these include lokasthiti, which means the maintenance of social order, Loki Sindhi or preservation of social customs local. Samgraha or social equilibrium, Loki Kalyan or welfare of the society and Loki Tatra or social progress, social well-being is given prime importance in the epics' adherence to customs and traditions was considered essential part of the moral conduct of people.
Now, the standards of morality as preached in the Mahabharata recognize both the absolute and relative nature of morality. There are ideals of social progress through the maintenance of social equilibrium are partly determined by scriptures. And. Partly by the standard of public good, the latter sometimes superseding, the injunction of the scriptures and sometimes being supplementary to them. Now, the third head consists of the four purusharthas or pursuits of a man, and they are dharma, Martha, Kama and Marsha. Now, these purusharthas are intrinsically woven in the moral social and political fabric of the life of an individual in the Hindu tradition, dharma pertains to ethics and religion, Martha deals with the generation of wealth and prosperity.
Kama stands for desire and sensual enjoyment. It actually seeks not pleasure, but happiness in our life. We witness a conflict in all these three pursuits. But these three purusharthas or pursuits can be reconciled. The dharmasastras show the way as to how the conflicts between them can be resolved for that matter.
When we study the epics, uh, we realize how dharma earth blend with each other. Now, the Mahabharata is, uh, also called by the name, Marsha Astra. But when you read it, then you know that it is a. Curious amalgam of the first three purusharthas Arjuna, who is an exceptional warrior fought the battle for the sake of dharma.
He was the proud possessor of Godiva. The divine weapon which helped him to kill his enemies and bring victory for his brother and dharma. Of course, yet when along with his brothers, he sets out for mahaprathan and was asked to abandon his Gandhi. He was initially reluctant as he was attached immensely attached to it.
But ultimately had to throw it in water. Is it not true of. Us all now the poet reflects here how uh on how difficult it is to loosen one's grip over the things, which have been a cause of pride and prestige and to which one is deeply attached though fortitude is the main sentiment pervading. The great epic Mahabharata.
The subtle irony of the poet is evident throughout and perhaps all great poets share this attitude. They reflect on the vanity of the human race in the Mahabharata vases smiles, especially when he sees the vanity of Arjuna and yudhisthira. Although they were firm as far as dharma was concerned and often acted righteously, but you should not infer from this. The pursuit of Marsha is neglected in the Mahabharata for it is suggested in the Mahabharata that those who seek Marsha must practice the prescribed duties. But in addition to that, they must surpass them through the practice of yoga. And that involves not just self-purification, but also virtues like self-control, truthfulness, forbearance, equanimity, etc. And so Mishkan karma is.
Emphasized in the Bhagavad-gt, as I mentioned before there is something exceptional about the role of epics in Indian life, the lives and characters in these epics represent the lives and characters of people who succeeded them in time and space. The situations in which they were placed were not extraordinary. Yet. These characters have gripped the imagination of people to the extent that people are obsessed with them.
Take, for example, sham Bengal's movie in which he incorporates the Mahabharata to. The corporate world and fight among relatives, is it not true that the predicaments of site, Rama Lakshmi, Ursula, draped, yudhisthira, Arjuna, Bishop, until, Gandhara. And even Viagra haunt us. The character of ram is an ideal one, ram stands for duty and self-sacrifice. But he is also full of love and heroism. But there are certain traits of him, which compromise this ideal tag given to him.
Remember, his killing valid, the brother of Supriya deceitfully and also unforgettably his abandoning site for no. Legitimate reason take dirt ashtray, the frail confused and prejudiced king who chose war for the sake of his son. Now, how is he in any way worse than those farsighted people who are not blind? And yet get swayed by their faith, love anger and other such feelings and compromise with their moral principles. Imagine the situation of yudhisthira after the war was over, he had to carry the load of so many deaths how much shame and anguish he must have experienced so almost all main characters are. Confronted with dilemmas, they are faced with the conflict of duties. Do we not regard them as our role models?
Are we not faced with the dilemmas in our day-to-day lives that they confronted in their life situations isn't this? Why we are so attracted to the epics, the human society from time immemorial is a witness to the clashes that happen between righteousness and social as well as economic well-being. There are very many incidents in these epics, which evoke a lot of emotions within us. They raise. A lot of questions, whether it is site's, Agni parish or her abandonment in the forest, or whether it is the practice of polyandry in case of draped, or shaken cheating, yudhisthira in the game of dice or yudhistras, gambling away, his brothers and his wife. But what needs to be understood is that the epics show us the way of life our dharma, they tell us what violence and vengeance leads to.
I would say the epics fulfill the needs of the people. The Mahabharata is a cold storage and a vibrant text. Both at the same time on entering the vast work, it is impossible to not undergo a sense of Dena, VU and have the uncanny sensation of finding things which reverberate to a remarkable degree with whatever presently troubles, the entrant leafing through the Mahabharata, an inescapable sense of foreboding is bound to take hold of those standing witness to the dangerous times they inhabit. And then in a reflex-like reaction, they begin to look upon the Mahabharata as being an already constituted signal. A.
Reminder of the disasters that may follow if the dangers engulfing them are not addressed or allied, although we belong to a totally different age are a part of a very different social structure. The nature of our problems may be different, but we can still in our own way, respond to the philosophical and moral issues. Anyway. Now, uh, while mickey has wisely upheld, the ideal of dharma, which has a comprehensive sweep, and which enables its voters, irrespective of their vocation or status in society to. Enjoy inner perfection and freedom, while dedicating their virtues to the welfare of others.
If this ideal exemplified by the sage in the motives and activities of his numerous characters is grasped and put into practice, all the creeds may survive, the present crisis work side by side, without feeling the hostility and make people, uh, intelligent efficient and self-sacrificing enough to solve the problems of the family country or even of the world as a whole, both Ramayana and are beautiful. Exemplifications of how intrinsically karma and dharma are interwoven in one's life. Also, none can escape suffering. Whether it is god or man or woman or a pauper.
Everyone has to experience hardships sorrows and disasters. There are stories about relationships obligations of kingship grappling with problems arising from various situations, the social structure, the predicament of women, etc., etc., etc. However, what makes Mahabharata so interesting is that it has so many characters each one special in his. Or her own way and has a specific story built around him or her yet, the main narrative of the Mahabharata remains intact, take Rama and yudhisthira. They are manifestations of truth or dharma. But in certain situations they display human weakness, which has made them answerable.
And which, in fact, has increased our interest in these stories. Let us now take ram and Krishna dharma for ram was rigid. But for Krishna, it was flexible Rama's system or code was stringent.
Whereas Krishna's logic was liberal. And there are many occasions in the epics, which corroborate this also whether it was Arjuna or was Rama. He was for sure in a state of uncertainty and confusion when he had to kill. So I would like to end my lecture with a quote, if the Mahabharata emphasizes more the practical aspects of life, the Ramayana preaches, the highest ideals of it. The characters in the former strike us as human beings, whereas those in the latter appear to be idealized as compared to the Mahabharata, the Ramayana has not. Only a more elevated ethical standard and a more serious didactic purpose, but also a much higher idealistic view of life and a wider popular appeal as well.
So I'll end my lecture here. Thank you so much. You.