Friday, December 1, 2017

Zero Hour: The Last Avatar

    On this first day of the last month of the year, I am glad to share with you all the final post on this blog. Zero Hour, as am sure you all know, is that final moment of time when something momentous is about to happen. It also signals the final countdown and in both ways, this seems to me the perfect title for my last article in this series that quite fittingly deals with the Final Avatar of this Yuga - Kalki.

    I had started this blog six years ago, when there was so much data swirling in my head that I just had to share it with the world in one way or another. I started putting down my thoughts in an alphabetical order and consequently, you can find 26 articles on this blog right from A (Astronomy in Hinduism) to Y (Yuga of Misery) with this being the last one. I may start yet another series right from the beginning but for now, this is the final article in a long series of topics that touch upon various so called 'myths' from Indic traditions & try to decode them using different scientific disciplines. 

    Coming back to the topic, let us begin our exploration of the Final Avatar of Lord VishnuFor the uninitiated, let me quickly recount the Ten major incarnations, better known as the Dashavatar:

    1. Matsyathe Fish
    2. Kurmathe Turtle
    3. Varahthe Boar
    4. Narasimhathe Half-man/Half-lion being
    5. Vamanthe Dwarf
    6. ParashuramaRama with the axe
    7. RamaRamachandra, the ideal man
    8. Krishnathe Man-god
    9. Buddhathe Spiritual Master, and lastly,
    10. Kalki, expected to appear at the end of the Kali Yuga.

    While most of you may be familiar with the nine incarnations that have taken place till now, the subject of interest today is the tenth and the final Avatar who shall appear at the end of the current Kaliyug. Some of you may remember from the previous article the story of how Kali began but for those who do not, let me refresh your memory a bit to give a background for what's to follow.

    The Advent of Kali

    Shrimad Bhagavatam states that Kaliyug began on earth after Shri Krishna left the planet. While the god-incarnate walked this earth, darkness had no power and it is only after His departure to His abode Vaikunth that this current Age of Kali could begin.

    Krishna left the responsibility of civilization in the hands of the Pandavs and in due course it was the turn of Arjun's grandson Parikshit to become the ruler of the known world. One day when the new emperor was on his rounds about the kingdom, he encountered the demon Kali (NOT related to Ma Kaali in any way) as a richly attired goon who was beating an ox mercilessly.

    Parikshit stopped his chariot and immediately headed towards the spot but the man continued till three of the four legs of the poor animal were broken. Enraged by this display of barbarism when Parikshit lifted his sword to punish the brute, he fell down on his knees and begged to spare his life. He told the emperor that he was none other than Kali, the embodiment of Kaliyuga and his time on Earth had begun. In order to spread his rule, Kali had to break the pillars of Dharma that the ox represented and accordingly, he had destroyed three of his legs representing austerity, cleanliness and mercy.

    Parikshit knew he could not halt the progress of Kali but he could stop him from completely maiming Dharma. He allowed the demon to reside in FOUR places - gambling houses and taverns, people with unbridled sexual desires, slaughter-houses where innocent animals are killed and in riches and gold. It is believed that the very first thing that the demon did after getting clemency was to enter into Parikshit's crown thereby leading him to do an act that ultimately led to his death!

    I have heard from a lot of people that there is no concept of a devil in Hinduism but Kali appears to be a pretty good candidate! His truants are similar to that of the Satan of Christianity and Shaitan of Islam & we also encounter him in the Nal-Damyanti story in Mahabharat. King Nal is believed to have finally trapped him in the Vibhidak tree, whose fruit was used to create dice in ancient times. It is therefore no coincidence that the end of Dvapar Yuga was brought about by a game of dice made of that same tree played by the Kauravs and the Pandavs!

    Kalki - The Nemesis of Kali

    Now that we know what Kali stands for, it isn't hard to imagine why this Yug that is ruled by him is so miserable. We have discussed it in length in the previous post so here we shall stay focused on the deliverer from this dreaded Yuga - KALKI.

    The Kalki Puran descibes the astrological conjunctions that would occur at the time of Kalki's birth:

    The moon shall be in Dhanishtha nakshatra (Aquarius),
    Thus he will be wealthy, acclaimed and swift in action & thought.
    The Sun will be in Swati, the nakshatra of the sword.
    Jupiter will be in Purva Ashadha nakshatra (Sagittarius).
    The Ascendant Lord will also be in Sagittarius, giving him invincibility and early victory.
    Saturn will be exalted in Libra, providing a balance between justice and sword.
    Ketu, lord of horse-headed Ashwini, will be exalted in Scorpio,
    suggesting he will descend atop a great white steed.
    He shall come at a time when darkness is the order of the day, and he shall be the saviour to rid the world of its sufferings.

    Kalki Puran [1.2.15] predicts the date of his birth as the 12th day of the waxing moon in month of Madhav - 
    द्वादश्यां शुक्ल-पक्षस्य माधवे मासि माधवम्।
    जातं ददृशतुः पुत्रं पितरौ हृष्ट-मानसौ।।
    The Agni Puran [10.31] states -

    Towards the end of the Kali era, all people will be dastardly. 
    They will oppose the Vedas, become robbers and will be concerned only with wealth. 
    The disbelievers will then become kings and these kings will also become cannibals.
    Kalki will be born on earth as the son of Vishnuyasha. 
    He will take up arms to destroy the disbelievers. 
    It will then be time for the dawn of a new satya yuga, a golden period of righteousness.

    The Shrimad Bhagavatam [1.3.25] adds -

    शम्भल ग्राम मुख्यस्य ब्राह्मणस्य महात्मनः।
    भवने विष्णुयशसः कल्किः प्रादुर्भविष्यति॥

    Thereafter, at the conjunction of two Yugas,
    The Lord of the creation will take his birth as Kalki,
    And become the son of Vishnuyasha,
    At this time, the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.

    The Last Avatar Arrives

    The Vishnu Puran [4.24] also mentions -

    When the practices taught in the Vedas have nearly ceased,
    and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh,
    a portion of that Divine Being who exists of His own spiritual nature,
    and who is the beginning and the end, who comprehends all,
    shall descend on earth, born in the family of Vishnuyasha,
    an eminent Brahmin of Shambhala,
    as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties.

    So here for the first time, we have a mention of the PLACE where Kalki shall take birth that can perhaps help us unravel the mystery a little further. Let us explore this place a little more.

    Shambhala - the location of Kalki's Birth

    If you ask an ordinary Hindu about Shambhala, you would most likely be greeted with a blank stare. Hindu texts do not give a lot of information about this place, perhaps because they do not want to give out the location where the future savior shall be born. But for thousands of years, Buddhist texts have preserved the knowledge of Shambhala, a Utopian paradise, that is believed to be nestled somewhere high in the Himalayas.

    The Kalchakra Tantra of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the ancient scriptures of Zhang Zhung and the indigenous Bon religions of Tibet mention Shambhala as a pure land high in the mountains, that only those who have a pure heart can find. It is a place where people are immune to all types of suffering and where peace and wisdom thrive. It is such a pleasant coincidence that I began writing this article in Bhutan, one of the last remaining centers of Tibetan Budhhism!

    Shambhala, nestled high in the Himalayas

    Just like the Hindu texts mentioned above, Kalchakra also prophesies the gradual deterioration of mankind as materialism spreads its tentacles. When the barbarians are united under an evil king (Kali?) and there is nothing left to conquer, the last king of Shambhala shall emerge with a huge army in order to vanquish the dark forces and usher a new Golden Age. 

    Did you notice the similarities with the Hindu belief of Kalki? Let us delve a little deeper into them before returning to Hindu texts.

    Kalki in other religions

    There are a total of 32 kings mentioned in the Tibetan texts, the first seven of whom are called Dharma Rajas and the next 25 as Kalkis or Kulikas (Tibetan - Rigden). 

    The first of these 32 kings - Suchandra - is believed to have taken initiation from Buddha himself and the last one - Raudra Chakrin or Dakpo Khorlocen - would be the real focus of our attention as he corresponds to the Hindu concept of Kalki. The list implies that the last incarnation of Lord Vishnu would be born in a place that has been preparing for his arrival ever since the departure of his previous incarnation - Buddha!

    In fact, the Padma Purana [6.242.8-12] says that Kalki's father Vishnuyasha, shall be a re-incarnation of the FIRST MAN - Svayambhu Manu (You can read more about Manu, the father of Mankind, here Manu - The First Man). The story goes that Svayambhu Manu performed austerities at Naimish Aranya on the bank of  Gomati River, for acquiring the privilege of having Lord Vishnu as his son in three lifetimes. Thus, he appeared first as Dashrath (father of Shri Raam), then as Vasudev (father of Shri Krishna), and in the last boon shall appear as Vishnuyasha.

    While Hindu texts place the appearance of Kalki at the end of Kaliyug close to 4,27,000 years from now, according to Tibetan texts, the last Kalki shall arrive in the year 2424 CE to establish a planet-wide Golden Age.

    Kalki Rudra Chakrin - Dakpo Khorlocen

    We have already seen the prediction of Kalki in Vajrayana Buddhism let us now check what the other school of thought - the Mahayana Buddhism has to say about him. The Mahayana belief also mentions the coming of Buddha again in a future age as Maitreya Buddha and you see statues of the future Buddha at many places in the world including our very own Ladakh.

    Statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha in Ladakh

    Even Chrisitianity has a similar concept of return of Christ on the Judgement Day when the world as we know it shall come to an end. The Book of Revelations [19.11-16 & 19.21] describe the coming of a horse-rider much like Kalki in quite vivid terms:

    And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse;
    and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True,
    and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
    His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crown;
    and he had a name written, but no man knew but he him;
    And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood
    and his name is called the Word of God.
    And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses,
    clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
    And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations
    and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:
    and he tradeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
    And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
    And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies,
    gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and aginst his army.

    A similar concept can also be found in Islam where Hazrath Mahdi is expected to return just before the judgement day to re-establish religion to its original glory.

    The Stage is set for Kalki

    The Kalki Puran mentions that Parshu-Raam, the 6th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the hero of my second book, and a Chiranjeevi or Immortal, shall be the martial guru of Kalki! In verse [3.9.10] he tells his protege the following words:

    You have learned the art of discharging arrows from me,
    You will imbibe transcendental knowledge from Shukadeva Goswami,
    And you will be awarded a powerful weapon by Lord Shiva.
    Thereafter, you will marry Padma, from the island of Sinhala.
    Your mission is to re-establish Sanatan Dharma.

    Parshu-Raam, the future Guru of the Last Avatar

    It is quite apt since Parshu-Raam himself performed a similar function in a previous era and he would be perfectly suited to coach KALKI in the hard task that lays before him. Another one of the Seven Immortals  or Sapta-Chiranjeevi, Lord Hanuman, the incarnation of Shiva, shall also be assisting Kalki in his endeavor! Shrimad Bhagvatam states that Hanuman still resides in Kimpurush Varsha (modern Tibet) singing the glories of his Lord and this quite neatly fits with our theory of the Tibetan belief in Kalki since both the Savior and his helper shall arise from the same region! 

    Hanuman waits in the Himalayas to help Kalki in his fight against Evil

    Additional information on Kalki is found in the Ling Puran [40.50-92], the Brahmand Puran [ &], and the Vayu Puran [58.75-110]. Kalki shall wander over the planet without being seen by any living being. Then he will start His campaign in His thirty-second year and roam the earth for twenty years. 

    The Vishnu Puran [4.24] continues to explain his activities: 

    By His irresistible might he will destroy all the mlecchas and thieves, 
    and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. 
    He will reestablish righteousness upon earth, 
    and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, 
    and shall be as clear as crystal. 
    The men who are thus changed by virtue of that time shall be as the seeds of human beings, 
    and shall give birth to a race who will follow the laws of the Krita age [Satya-yuga], 
    As it is said, 'When the sun and moon, and the lunar asterism Tishya, 
    and the planet Jupiter, are in one mansion, 
    the Krita age shall return.

    Beginning of a New Golden Age

    Talking of the men who shall become the seeds of new civilization, Shrimad Bhagvatam [12.2.37-38] informs us that there are two persons who shall perform this task. 

    We mentioned them earlier when we were talkng about Parshu-Raam and they are - Devapi of the Chandravanshi or Lunar Dynasty and Maru, of the Solar or Suryavanshi Dynasty. These two dynasties have been at the forefront of human civilization since time immemorial and it shall again be their progenitors that usher in the golden age once again.

    They will be great kings and will help in the process of re-establishing the proper principles in society. They have lived through all four of the yugas and reside in the village of Kalapa which BTW is another connection with Tibetan Buddhism. At the beginning of Satyug, they will return to society and establish the eternal religion of humanity, Sanatan-dharma, and the institutions of Varna-Ashram Dharma.

    Well-planted gardens, sacrificial grounds, large tanks, Vedic schools and colleges, ponds and temples, will reappear. Vedic sacrifices will also begin to be performed at the appearance of the Krita age. Brahmins will be honest and good. Being devoted to asceticism, they will be wise sages. Kings shall rule virtuously. Every kind of crop will grow in every season. Men will devotedly practice charity, vows, and religious rites. 

    The cycle of Yugas shall continue its never-ending loop and the souls that have stayed true to god shall attain salvation. The Supreme Lord Vishnu shall once again help humanity establish Dharma and route out Evil, the way he has done multiple times before, bringing in prosperity or Lakshmi to the world. 

    I close this final article on this auspicious thought and hope to see you again in a new series in a new form where we can continue our journey once again just like the Yuga cycle.

    Let There be Peace & Prosperity in the world!

    Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Yuga of Misery Yuga of Mercy

    Ghor Kaliyug hai  - you may have heard this expression when someone is exasperated by the way things are happening.. ever pondered what it implies?

    The Age of Kali - Kaliyug is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of Mahayugas. According to Hindu cosmology, time is cyclical and you can consider the four Yugas to be similar to the four seasons that keep recurring in perpetual eternity. 

    In each successive yuga (Satya to Treta to Dvapar to Kali), all human virtues keep getting diminished including mankind's intellect, age, honesty, values etc. In this post I'll talk not just about the moral devaluation of humanity which is self-evident, but also try to highlight something that's generally missed in the narrative.

    Beginning of Kaliyuga

    By the calculations of Aryabhatta, the most celebrated mathematician of ancient India, Kaliyug began between the 18th to 20th of February 3102 BCE which tells us that we are currently in the 5118th year of this Era. in India we recently celebrated Ugadi/Gudi-Padwa/Navreh/Cheti-Chand  and the reason why it is called Yug-aadi is because this is the day Kaliyug began (BTW its also the day when Brahma began creation).

    Brahma began Creation on the day of Ugadi

    Srimad Bhagavatam [12.2.31] records Kali-yuga as having begun when the constellation of the seven sages or Big Dipper passed through the Nakshatra of Magh. This took place roughly 36 years after the battle of Mahabharat that wiped out millions off the face of the Earth. You may ask why it didn't start immediately after the war but according to Vaishnav tradition, the demon Kali could not step on the planet till the time Krishna, the Supreme Lord was present on it. It was only after Krishna's departure that Kaliyuga could descend.

    Kali could not appear till Krishna remained on Earth

    As I always do in each post, I am going to share with you inputs not just from Hindu mythology but also beliefs from other parts of the world that may match ours. You would be surprised to know that the last cycle of the Mayan calendar started in 3113-14 BCE, very close to the Hindu dates of beginning of Kaliyuga! Without any connection between the two civilizations, their calendars begin with only a difference of 11 years. What is also interesting is that in both these calendars, this is the last stage of the cycle.

    Two civilizations at opposite ends come up with similar calendars

    Scientific Basis of Yugas?

    The length of Kali Yuga, the smallest of the four Yugas is believed to be 432,000 years which is the basic unit of Yuga calculation. The Dvapar-Yuga is twice this time, Treta is thrice and Satyuga is four times this period with the total adding up to 4.32 Million years. That is a staggering period and none of us would be alive to see the end but we can certainly see if such a huge number holds any significance in science.

    We know that Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle but is elliptical in shape. Here I need to introduce you to the concept of ORBITAL ECCENTRICITY which states that the shape of Earth's orbit changes over time and can vary between nearly circular (low eccentricity) to more elliptical (high eccentricity). While the change is a part of nature's process, what is important from our point of view is that these variations occur over a period of 413,000 years - quite close to the basic unit of a Yuga!

    Earth's orbit changes from circular to elliptical over one Yuga Unit of Time

    This change in orbital eccentricity has a profound effect on the conditions prevailing on Earth including massive temperature changes but this is not all. Each Yuga is supposed to have a period of dawn and dusk that takes about 10% of its time ~ 43,000 years. Is there a scientific phenomenon that repeats during this duration? The answer is YES and that is the change in the angle of Earth's axis known as the AXIAL TILT - Earth does not rotate in space like a perfect sphere but tilts just like a spinning top giving rise to seasons. 

    What is interesting is that the angle of the tilt does not stay constant rather takes approximately 41,000 years to shift between a tilt of 22.1° and 24.5° and back which again leads to massive climate change on the planet. These two phenomenon combined with PRECESSION of Equinoxes mentioned in the article {Black Holes & Bhagavatam} together form the basis of something known as Milankovitch Cycles that give rise to rapid changes in Earth's temperature heralding amongst other catastrophes, the Ice-Ages.

    Milankovitch Cycles 

    We saw in the post titled {Pralaya - the End of Days} the Great Deluge mentioned in various world mythologies may actually be the memory of the meltdown after the Ice-Age ends. You would remember that pralaya marks the transitions between Yugas and I believe the Milankovitch Cycles fit in quite nicely with the timelines of Yuga cycles as described in our Puranas.

    On a side note, let me just mention something related to Astrology (which BTW I don't really understand too well myself). Scientists say that if Earth had been the only planet around Sun, the eccentricity of its orbit wouldn't be too much. The real reason for the huge difference is due to the effect of the gravitational fields of Jupiter and Saturn! Similarly, precession is seen due to the tidal forces exerted by the Sun and the Moon on Earth's equator. No wonder then that so much importance is given to the effect of planets especially Surya and Shani in Indian Astrology!

    Descriptions of Kaliyug

    Hindu scriptures mention that during the 432,000 years of Kali, humanity shall deteriorate and fall into barbarism. The world teems with fanatics and extremists and religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory diminish with each passing day.

    Shrimad Bhagavatam says that the demon of Kali descended as soon as Krishna had left the planet. Arjun's grandson Parikshit who was the ruler of the known world then encountered him in the form of a richly attired goon who was beating an ox mercilessly. The emperor stopped his chariot and immediately headed towards the spot to stop him but the man continued till three of the four legs of the animal were broken.

    As Parikshit lifted his sword to kill the brute, he fell on his knees and begged to spare his life. He told the emperor that he was none other than Kali, the embodiment of Kaliyuga and his time on Earth had begun. In order to spread his rule he had to break the pillars of Dharma that the ox represented!

    The emperor knew he could not halt the progress of Kali but he stopped him from completely maiming Dharma. The demon was allowed to reside in FOUR places - gambling houses and taverns, people with unbridled sexual desires, slaughter-houses where innocent animals are killed and in riches and gold.

    No wonder then that most of the crimes we see today happen either in a state of intoxication or involve the misuse of natural resources due to excessive greed for money or take place due to uncontrolled lust and desire!!

    To make it easier to understand the effect of Kali, let me share with you some bang-on descriptions about this age from Shrimad Bhagavatam, Ling Puraan, Vishnu Puraan and Mahabharat:


    Kings take to seizing property, rather than protecting the citizenry. Rogues and criminals become leaders to exploit and enslave their people. In this age, merely possessing wealth is considered a sign of good birth, proper behavior, and fine qualities. Law and justice are determined by one's prestige and power.


    Marriage ceases to exist as a holy union - men and women simply live together on the basis of bodily attraction and sexual pleasure. Women wander from one man to another. One's beauty is thought to depend on one's hairstyle. Monks break their vows of celibacy. Women, children, and cows - always protected in an enlightened society - are abused and killed during this age.


    Men no longer look after their parents in their old age, and fail to provide for their own children. Filling the belly is said to be the only purpose in life. Cows are killed once their milk production drops. Humans give in to intoxication, fornication and killing of animals without any restraint; family structure breaks up and children are abused and abandoned. Thieves are numerous and rapes are frequent. Everyone uses vulgar language.

    Farmers abandon living close to nature. They become unskilled laborers in congested cities. Many dress in rags, or are unemployed, and sleep on the streets. 


    Atheism flourishes. Religious observances are performed solely for the sake of reputation. False doctrines and misleading religions spread across the globe. People prefer false ideas and do not hesitate to persecute religious preachers. Interestingly, not just Hindu but Buddhist texts also predict a decline in religion. Buddhism is prophesized to completely disappear during the Kali Yuga, and it will be virtually impossible for a person to find any opportunity for spiritual realization.

    These descriptions are so apt for our society that they leave you wondering whether the authors had undertaken time-travel to visit the current age! Not only is this the exact current scenario but the accuracy of these predictions also fills one with a sense of hopelessness. However, one ray of sunshine exists in this gloom.

    The Silver Lining

    The Brahma-Vaivarta Puraan [4.129] records a coversation between Lord Krishna as He is preparing to leave Earth at the end of Dvapar Yuga and Goddess Ganga. Krishna tells the goddess who is distraught by the knowledge of Kaliyug's imminent arrival that she would be instrumental in delivering the souls of humans for the first five thousand years of this era and also mentions - 

    Kaler dasa-sahsrani
    madbhaktah samti bhu-tale
    ekavarna bhavishyamti 
    madbhakteshu gateshu cha

    In Kaliyuga, for ten thousand years
    My devotees shall remain on this planet
    Only one varna shall remain
    After their departure

    This thus, is the 10,000 year Golden Period of Kaliyuga. Is there any scientific relevance of this 10,000 year period? 

    The answer again is in the affirmative. Currently the Earth is tilted at 23.44 degrees from its orbital plane, roughly halfway between its extreme values. The tilt is in the decreasing phase of its cycle, and will reach its minimum value around the year 10,000 CE. Besides, Earth's Precession shall make the Pole Star change from Polaris or Dhruv to Vega in the next 12000 years and I am not sure what kind of changes that would bring.

    Some spiritual Gurus like Yukteshwar use the 24,000 period of Precession to describe Yugas as ascending or descending but based on the scriptures I don't believe this is mentioned in any of the religious scriptures! The Yugas follow a cyclical pattern of Satya-Treta-Dvapar-Kali and at the end of Kali, the golden age of Satyuga returns again in a continuous cycle. There is no swinging back through Dvapar and Treta as believed by certain western followers of the Yogi.

    The proof in support of this assessment is that ancient Hindu astronomical text Surya-Siddhanta mentions precession as Ayanamsa with its current value while simultaneously mentioning the correct duration of the Yugas with the basic unit of 432000 years.

    Incorrect interpretation of Yugas based on Precession

    The actual cycle of Yugas would be as shown below

    Even though we are born in this Age of Darkness, we are fortunate to have been born in a time when devotion to Krishna still exists on Earth! The scriptures also mention that it has never been simpler to achieve God than it is in Kaliyug for unlike Satyug where thousands of years penance was required to even get a glimpse of God, in Kaliyug, ALL you need to do is remember His NAME!

    Even in the Judaeo-Christian tradition lot of importance is given to the name of God, ever heard this statement - Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name? The sentiment is echoed by the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev Ji in the following verse:

    In Treta one had to do elaborate rituals like the Ashwamedh Yagnya and in Dvapar the mode of worship was through huge temples but in Kaliyug, just by remembering the name of the Lord one can get deliverance from the cycle of birth and death. 5000 years have passed and five thousand more remain of this period so let us make the most of it by following good Dharma and ensuring that THIS life is the last of an infinite cycle of births and deaths.

    I end this post with an invocation from the Brihan-Naradiya Puraan -

    Harer naam Harer naam Harer naamaiva kevalam
    Kalau na asti eva na asti eva na asti eva gatir anyatha

    In this Age of Kali,
    There is no other Deliverance, No other Deliverance, No other Deliverance,
    Than the name of Hari!

    May the Lord have mercy on all :)

    Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:

    Tuesday, November 3, 2015

    X Man from Ancient India

    Legends, they say, are hyperbolic versions of historical events. Yet, they remain immensely more popular than authentic verifiable history. Throughout the world, stories of legends occupy more mind-share than the lives of historically documented people.

    The exploits of Robin Hood and King Arthur are arguably more popular than those of Churchill or Thatcher from Great Britain and the labours of Hercules and Hanuman excite more children in Greece and India respectively than those of Alexander or Chandragupta. As the title of my next book suggests, this as well is an effort to bring to my readers one such powerful legend - the Axe-Man - Parshu-Raam, who is not just a weilder of Shiva's divine Axe but also in many ways a protoype X-Man as well!

    Parshu-Raam is recognized, and even dreaded as the man who decimated the entire ruling class in a bygone age, not once, but twenty-one times! I refer to him as the original X-Man since he was perhaps the first person in world literature to show such superhuman strength, that only someone blessed with other-wordly powers could have exhibited. In fact the Bhaagvat Puraan mentions him as a Shaktyavesh Avatar of Lord Vishnu – a human invested with special powers of the Supreme Lord.

    He is so much like the X-Man's Wolverine, with the furious temper and no nonsense attitude that I immediately related the two while thinking of a title for this post with just the metal claws having been replaced by the divine axe of Shiva. You may have heard of him from your grandparents or seen a brief glimpse in some television mythological but seldom is his life story detailed to an extent that it could become an epic in itself. That is the reason I chose to write my second book on Parshu-Raam, the Man who changed the face of ancient Indian society.

     {Image - Samir3dModeler}

    The purpose of this book is not to harp about his later achievements that many are aware of, but to bring in front of readers the events from before his birth that slowly but surely lead this simple Brahmin boy to become the legend that we know him as. His footsteps have marked the length and the breadth of the country from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Maharashtra in the West and Himachal in the North to Kerala in the South!

    Since a protagonist’s story does not get a complete perspective till it is compared with that of the antagonist or the anti-hero, this book shall also be incomplete without the inclusion of the travels and travails of his arch enemy, the man who, according to scriptures, was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra himself! 

    Hardly anyone would have heard of him before, but I must mention that this extra-ordinary man is considered one of the very first humans to rule over a Global Empire - a dream many colonial powers dreamed of in a previous century and few harbor even today.

    The struggle between the two is a reflection of the tussle between two differing ideologies believed by two different classes. The fight for supremacy between two powerful classes of ancient India – Brahmins and Kshatriyas, is reflected even today especially in countries where the intelligentsia and military exist at loggerheads. Even as you read this, some military leader somewhere in the world is surely planning a coup to snatch power from the bureaucrats while somewhere else, the literati is preparing for a protest against the authoritarian regime in their country.


    The struggle has played itself many a different times in many a different ways and this book shall introduce you to the clash that completely transformed India’s social structure in a bygone age. I have merged some true stories about the Lord of Lanka taken from the Ramayan to help me arrive at this sequence of events and you may be surprised to know that Ravan was also defeated by someone other than Shri Raam.

    Like the demon king Ravan and his own grand-uncle Vishwamitra, Parshu-Raam also makes appearance in that grand epic although for a brief instance. When Shri Raam breaks Shiva’s bow in the Swayamvar for Sita, Parshu-Raam arrives at the scene like a storm and challenges the prince for a duel. As far as I am aware, this is the only instance where two different incarnations of Lord Vishnu have come face to face as adversaries!

    Parshu-Raam also finds mention in Mahabharat as the guru of Kuru patriarch Bhishma-Pitamah as well as the ill-fated Karna. Since he was opposed to Kshatriyas, Karna had to lie about his identity in order to receive martial training from Parshu-Raam, a subterfuge that ultimately led him to be cursed to forget the very knowledge he had learnt when he needed it the most. In Kerala, Parshu-Raam is believed to have imparted similar training to Swami Ayyappan, the Lord of Shabrimala and developed the martial art of Kalaripayattu along with Rishi Agastya.

    His influence though is not restricted to great personalities of the past and he is still believed to reside on earth waiting for the arrival of Kalki, the tenth Avatar of Lord Vishnu who would be trained in the martial knowledge Parshu-Raam has gained and distilled in order to help the final incarnation of this Yuga fulfill his purpose of appearance. 

    Till that time, he is supposed to reside in the Mahendra mountains of Odisha worshiping Lord Shiva, but on my recent visit to the Kingdom of CambodiaI came across a mountain that was called with the same name and has a river running through it that has a 1000 Lingas carved on its river-bed! Perhaps then, the Lord may have found residence there rather than the hills of eastern India..

    The 1000 Linga River in Cambodia

    You may wonder how one man’s life-span could transcend that of three different incarnations of Vishnu but then, as the scriptures tell us, the gods grant special powers to humans who are needed to carry on their work. The mission of Parshu-Raam’s life is to help humanity find its way whenever it gets lost and thus he is counted as one of the Seven Immortals or Chiranjeevis.

    Besides all these military accomplishments, he is also destined to become one of the Saptarishis in the next Manvantar along with Vishwamitra who is related to him by not just ties of blood but also a powerful bond of magic. This book is my attempt to bring to you the legend of the most popular Brahma-kshatriya known in the history of India, and a fitting counterpart to the saga of Vishwamitra, the only Kshatriya in history who became a Brahma-rishi.

    And this is what the book is about..

    It is the story of the boy who was forced to take difficult decisions in order to fulfill his duties not just to his parents but also to the idea of a fair and just society. It is the story of the man who rose to the level of divinity, the story of the making of a legend - The Legend of Parshu-Raam

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