Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Rainbow - seven riveting short stories | Fate by Isha Setia. (Part-III)

The circus owner came to meet Veronica in the morning. He looked harassed. When he heard my story, he looked at me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He said they had a show starting in two days at the next venue, and it was impossible to make arrangements for my return.  ... I wasn't so worried about myself, I couldn't be – I was among people who lived together and worked together. (Ancient India had a well-regarded civilisation and culture. Collaboration is the key to success in any venture... and this explains the multifarious achievements of the ancient Indians. The economy was robust and trade flourished (both overland trade and sea-borne trade). Collaboration (working together to achieve shared goals and objectives/purpose) also provides a national sense of direction, of collective achievement; it helps to forge affinity and cohesion, it helps build character and mettle, otherwise a glorious past is no guarantee for a great future. Wisdom is the ability to think and make effort using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight, with good intentions – for the larger [societal] good. Knowledge is at the very core of a nation, around which pulsate its other multifarious activities and achievements. Ancient India was a knowledge hub.) I was worried about my mother... She would be so alone and worried.

The train eventually reached the next venue, setting into motion a sequence of orchestrated activities that transformed the packed train into a ready-to-perform circus – in a matter of 24 hours. (The leela is not whodunit, but how-it-is-done. Practice means constant use of one's intellectual and aesthetic skills, abilities and knowledge. And practice makes perfect. Doing something over and over again and expecting different outcome/results is futile. It leads to intellectual ennui and stagnation. The pursuit of excellence (through effort, interaction, fresh thinking/approach, clarity, practice, experience, and laughter) is an important step, rather a way of life; it helps enhance efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. It helps discover the intrinsic ability of a people and nation.) In a circus, the vibrant atmosphere leaves no room for thought. There is something to do every second and I got swept up in the activity around me. "Girl, make yourself helpful, this circus is a circus," someone shouted out. "Come and hold this bag while I tie these buntings up." I looked around, thinking he was calling out to someone else. "Don't look around, I'm talking to you," the person said. It was Ramu Bhaiya, I learnt soon enough – one of the clowns. (Ramu Bhaiya: allusion to Balarama?) He expected me to dig into the bag I was holding and pass strings of gay festoons to him, as he strung them around the place. (Balarama/Lakshmana/Pandu - a gay man? Could the Krsna-Satyabhama marriage have been a marriage of convenience: a feigned (faux, pretend) marriage?)

(Satyabhama is depicted as obnoxiously conceited, self-centred and boastful; shallow, egotistic, imprudent, rude and haughty, intensely materialistic, strong-willed (domineering, overbearing, obstinate, indifferent: fixed mindset) and given to temper tantrums (easily riled, prone to sulks). Satyabhama could, therefore, be Lakshmana/Balarama/Bakasura. Perhaps the Krsna-Satyabhama equation was a superficial/pretend relationship (an exchange relationship), despite Satyabhama's boast to the contrary. Krsna remained a quiet witness to all of Satyabhama's drama, but during the tulabharam (weighing by scale), Satyabhama, who had immense pride in wealth, could not outweigh Krsna. Whereas a single leaf of the sacred Tulasi on the scale (tula) – put by Rukmini, did. The story of the Tulsi leaf placed by Rukmini being worth more in weight than that of Satyabhama's wealth enunciates the significance of Tulsi and how a humble offering to divinity is greater than any material wealth. Hiranyakashipu means: one who is immensely fond of wealth (the Bakasura analogy). The tulabharam story refers to Rukmini's humble offering of a tulsi leaf. Tulsi leaf is used to cure cough and cold. (Kashi = cough. Rukmini is very likely Prince Rukmi. Satyabhama was the offspring of Satrajit, the royal treasurer of Dvaraka.)

Balarāma ("Rama with a plough", also "Strong Rama" - because of his great strength, perhaps also implying domineering attitude, intense egocentricity, unyielding/incurable hardness of heart, and obduracy/obstinacy - unreasonable in his refusal to change his decision or opinion) is also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha. He is considered as the elder brother of Krsna and is regarded generally as an avatar [manifestation] of Shesha. (Sheshanaga (Śeṣanāga) is one of the primal beings of creation, and is sometimes referred to as Ananta Shesha. A great white serpent that left the mouth of Balarama: this is considered as a reference to his identity as Ananta-Sesha.) Apart from a plough, Balarama is also depicted with a drinking cup and pitcher. He is considered as a deity of agriculture and fertility. Balarama is also known as Sankarshana: a spirit transferred between two wombs. Sankarshana, since he attracted (silver-tongued?) the Yadus to follow his instructions. A silver-tongued person speaks and praises in order to persuade others to do what they want: sycophancy, unctuous behaviour). He was born under Shravana nakshatra on Shraavana Purnima, or Raksha Bandhan. He married Revati, the daughter of King Kakudmi (sometimes called Kakudmin, or Raivata), ruler of Kushasthali/Kusasthali (a prosperous and advanced kingdom under the sea, and who also controlled large tracts of land, including Anarta kingdom). There is a raksha-bandhan story involving Sridevi and king Mahabali. Balarama, therefore, could be Mahabali. The avatar represents the pancha-kanya, of whom Ahalya is one. Ahalya = unploughed? Could it imply that the Krsna-Balarama/Satyabhama marriage was a joke? Ahalya is also known as Ahilya. Unresponsive – due to unhappiness, boredom, emotional dissatisfaction, and discontentment, the petrifaction motif? So, the Krsna-Balarama/Satyabhama marriage is likely to have been an unsuccessful one.) 

Ramu Bhaiya had kind eyes (a psychopath/sociopath with a mask of sanity?) and when my hand emerged from the bag holding not a festoon but a funny red ball he slapped his forehead: "It's not easy, this job! I have been looking for my run-away nose for the past week," he said with a grin. (Run-away nose: euphemism for loss of face? Embarrassment or humiliation?) To my utter delight, he placed the red ball right at the tip of his nose... I clapped and laughed. "Good girl, now go back to Veronica before she comes looking for you," he smiled at me with some satisfaction. My heart was suddenly lighter. And as if on cue, the band began its practice with a magnificent roll of the drums.

(A sociopath may appear charming and considerate, but these attributes are usually superficial. They are used as a way to deceive or fool others to the personal agenda behind the sociopath's behaviour. Refer: Part-I.) 

Veronica was looking for me. "I was with Ramu Bhaiya. He had asked me to assist him."

"Alright, now listen, I have a minute or so... Veronica proceeded to ask her if there was any way to contact her mother, since it was impossible to send her anywhere unescorted. They were going into a series of shows in eight cities and Mr. Matthew, the manager "has said there is no hand to spare for a while." (The eighth avatar of the Dasavataar is the Krsna-avatar.) I sank to the ground near her and sat with my chin on my knees. I had come back to my situation. ... My mother and I were absolutely alone. I couldn't even read or write. I had no answers. (Poverty excludes people. It prevents them from getting access to services. It often renders them helpless. It is unjust. Access to basic services, financial literacy, generating awareness about health and hygiene, raising literacy levels and better civic amenities will go a long way in bettering the lives of the economically deficient [those who do not having enough resources to pay for necessities] and the relatively well-off among them [those having little money or few possessions]. Creating wealth and opportunity will help create a new middle class, the middle-income groups and the lower middle class too would benefit.) One look at my face and Veronica knew I was completely at sea. "I am from Daltonganj, Madam. We live in a cluster behind a colony. ... My mother works in houses to earn a living." As I spoke, the enormity of my situation overwhelmed me and my face blanched. What was I going to do? What would happen to my mother? (Blanch: to cause to turn white or become pale, as with sickness, fear and worry or by the exclusion of sunlight. To scald (almonds, for example) in order to loosen the skin (to parboil). Blanch: to become or grow white, to lose normal colouration - turn pale, bleach. The Joker goes insane after emerging from a vat of chemical-waste, which bleaches his skin, dyes his hair green and his lips red in Batman. Pandu?) 

Veronica looked at me thoughtfully. "We will see what we can do. Meanwhile, you can live with me as my helper. That will give you work to do and you can be with the circus till Mr. Matthews finds a way out. Ok?" I gulped back my tears and nodded, not knowing what to say, and at the same time, feeling immensely grateful.

As the caravan rolled from town to town, packing, unpacking and packing again, I saw how this, too, was achieved like a practiced performance – well-timed, coordinated, precise. 

Two years went by.

Veronica took me under her wings. I watched her practice her moves and thought of new ones. She showered me with love and affection. I asked her often about Daltonganj. She had a standard reply. That two letters had been posted to two important people there. Now it was time to wait patiently for their reply.

At the circus, it was different. The entire circus loved me. Some because I was Veronica's favourite, some others because they were genuinely fond of me, and some out of sympathy. Ramu Bhaiya and his band of jokers had taken it upon themselves to compel me to tears with their hilarious acts. Tears of laughter felt different and Ramu Bhaiya made my cheeks hurt with laughter. I think they loved my startled reactions. Naturally, for me, living with the circus was a new experience each day and mostly pleasant, too. I could never have imagined being with birds, rabbits, touching a hippopotamus and riding an elephant, leave alone feeding him with bunches of bananas. (The landmass now known as India was probably vaanara country, Kishkindha [Kiṣkindhā] of the epics. Realm of various indigenous people.

Ramu Bhaiya and his band of jokers: allusion to SheshaNaga, birds of a feather? The Joker is a fictional supervillain and the archenemy of Batman. (As blind as a bat. Kanha = sightless.) The Joker is portrayed as a malevolent mastermind, a psychopath with a warped sense of humour. The Joker initially appeared as remorseless [disengaged/aloof/apathetic - completely lacking in feeling, emotion and concern, lacking in any humanity: callous/insensitive/indifferent], modeled after a joker playing card with a mirthless grin. The antithesis of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered to be his perfect adversary. A supreme arch-villain who could test Batman (similar to the Holmes-Moriarty equation), a diabolically sinister-but-clownish villain. (Emotionally immature? Lacking gravitas?) In The Dark Knight, the Joker is depicted as a maniacal malevolent mastermind whose goal is to bring about anarchy. The Joker has been described as a psychopathic, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy. SheshaNaga is depicted as five or seven-headed. It could imply a group of five or seven malevolent and ignoble persons, unclean minds and hearts. Ravana's ten heads could imply an unstable mind, deluded (a schizophrenic mind, someone who is trapped in an emotional cobweb, of which he is unable to let go), deliberately deceptive, exaggerated self-image (vainglory and self-importance), and a braggadocio and/or accomplishes. SheshaNaga represents fixed mindset, an inability, and intransigence or [perhaps] obdurate refusal (out of arrogance/conceit, vainglory, over-confidence etc) to change and evolve for the better [i.e. to undergo progressive transformation – to self-reflect/introspect, learn, unlearn, adapt and evolve, to imbibe humaneness and [some] dharmic aspects [ethical behaviour, positive, progressive values] and become better as human beings] from one's set way of [adharmic: inordinately amoral and self-serving, non-progressive, unpleasant, malevolent] thinking and behavioural aspects. Therefore, SheshaNaga is likely to be predictably unpredictable vis-à-vis basic/intrinsic behaviour pattern, and common patterns of behaviour. Cheeks hurt: abusive behaviour/domestic violence: a stinging slap in the face?) 

I did not want to spoil the magic and worked very hard, and honestly, loved it, too. In my heart of hearts, I sensed I had become indispensable to Veronica. The circus ran shows from afternoon to night, and four times a week, Veronica had a gala all her own. She enthralled the audience with her moves and at the end of each performance, encouraged them to stand in the stalls and dance with her. (... Instead of being active participants in their own destiny, humankind cannot become idlers and mere bystanders. It will lead to an overall decline/deterioration in collective [societal] values and standards, the proverbial quagmire, a civilisational deterioration. A critical thinking process that eschews inanities and platitudes, utopian or specious discussions or solutions, archaic thought processes or cynical gestures help to overcome selfish, myopic thinking (crab mentality, the kupa-mandup syndrome: a frog in a well imagines the little well to be the whole world). That is how the wheel of evolution moves on and the ideas and dreams of one nation are bequeathed to the next. ... "Mile Suur Mera Tumharaa" is a wonderful composition about uniting hearts and minds of the people. It celebrates love, harmony and unity in diversity. India is a coalition of diverse nations/cultures/geographical realms/languages/festivities/literature/art/music/peoples who celebrate and share their joys and aspirations... leading to harmony, wholeness and integrity. A veritable rainbow. "Ek sur" (One Tune) (languages of India), or "Mile Suur Mera Tumharaa" as it is better known, is about national integration and unity in diversity... without getting callous, clichéd (banal, vapid, dull, shallow, uncreative), jingoistic and mundane (indifferent, insouciant, perfunctory, blasé). This magnum opus on the unity in diversity of India unfolded on August 15, 1988 from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It is considered as the unofficial anthem of India. Raga Bhairavi, a sampoorna raga, was chosen as the foundation for the music. Louis Banks and P. Vaidyanathan together created the captivating score - rendered by three maestros of music - Bhimsen Joshi, Balamurali Krishna and Lata Mangeshkar. The formation of the National Flag by the children implies that the spirit of unity and harmony would be carried forward by the next generation. Desh Raag (Baje sargam har taraf se) too is classic, invigorating, always fresh and inspiring.) ... We would practice regularly, I learned to pick her musical pieces and sometimes, I would dance along. In the beginning, my heart would beat guiltily, but before I knew it, my feet would fly all over the floor. Sometimes to my delight, Veronica would stand leaning against the wall of the makeshift dance studio and watch me dance. She looked at me thoughtfully and would even correct a pose I struck wrong. I lapped it all up, eagerly. I felt that I was born to dance here and wanted my mother to experience this beauty. I had taken to my new surroundings like a duck takes to water.

(Mudra is a reference to coinage. (Perhaps the term 'Sudra' is a derivative of mudra; activities [including sweat and toil], creativity and innovative practices of people with the required skillsets generated mudra. They were [therefore] crucial for the economic parameters/conditions to remain robust and healthy.) Mudra could also imply pose or physical language/postures/gestures. Krishna standing in Tribhaṅga posture, Syamasundara, Tribhangi roopam or Tribhangi Mudra: Tribhaṅga or Tribunga (tri-bent posture) is a standing body position or stance. It is a mudra (body posture or gesture) associated with the highest Avatar (manifestation/appearance of divinity in human form). It distinguishes the Avatar from other humans. Mudra can also imply seal or ring: a small seal, as on a finger ring, to stamp or mark with a signet (imprimatur); a seal used to stamp or authenticate documents. Mudrarakshasa ("The Signet of the Minister") is a historical play in Sanskrit by Vishakhadatta that narrates the ascent of Chandragupta Maurya (r. 322BC - 298BC) to the throne of Magadha. The Nanda King, Dhanananda, had by his bad governance and tyrannical ways alienated the people. Acharya Chanakya did not seek power for the sake of power; instead, the master maneuvered and out-maneuvered, in a series of masterful strokes... culminating in victory over the hubristic, contemptuous, rapacious, selfish, oppressive and intemperate/debauched Nandas (Dhanananda) and installing of Chandragupta Maurya on the Magadhan throne (thereby [also] laying the foundation of the great Magadhan Empire). In Vishakahadatta's play the challenge before Chanakya is to somehow bring amAtya rAkshasa to accept the position of principal advisor and minister to Chandragupta. It was a masterstroke yet again, a rare clarity of purpose and vision, clear-eyed and far-sighted. Amatya Rakshasa, principal advisor of Dhanananda, was totally loyal to the Nandas; he was relentless in his efforts to avenge Dhanananda (out of a sense of loyalty and obligation). He was also intelligent, brave and capable, and highly experienced in statecraft. Chanakya [thus] favoured a passing of the baton to Rakshasa. (Amatya is honorific, implying minister. Rakshasa probably has been derived from rakshak, guardian. The ever-watchful Amatya Kartikeya was popularly known as Amatya Rakshasa. Chanakya is Kautilya, the wily one. However, Chanakya is incorrectly perceived as a selfish, unfeeling and cunning person. Chanakya was not a self-serving opportunist. Whatever the Acharya did was for the larger good. Chanakya's purpose and behavioural aspects [acharan] were those of an Arya, sobriquet for a noble or sattvic person. (Skt: arya used in the way that Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have used the word - as meaning a person who is the best amongst humankind: intelligent, skilled, aware, cultured and sophisticated, in comprehension of the human condition but in addition, possessing the merit and compassion to en-noble others.) Dharma is nobility of purpose and a sense of responsibility, pursuance/determination, sense of kartavya, strength of mind, initiatives and effort, commitment, integrity, mettle, introspection/self-reflection, the ability to listen, stability, principles, spine, sobriety/moderation, trustworthiness, dependability, purposefulness, foresight, forethought, common sense, clarity of thought and purpose, the ability to take a broader/holistic view, the ability to comprehend and prioritise. History may have witnessed great and transformational events and personalities but it requires higher minds to help decide the purpose, i.e. which "battles" are really worth fighting for, and [more importantly] how to go about it, how to prioritise and strategise... as can be seen in the case of Krsna and Chanakya. This explains the appearance of the avatar or Yug Purush (Renaissance person, Change-maker), the purpose. ... It was none other than Lord Vishnu who provided support and stability during samudra-manthan (kshira-sagara manthan, re-energisation of humankind) – euphemism for [figurative] 'churning' to bring about organic transformational change, an intellectual re-energisation: a positive, progressive turnaround, and a complete renaissance (an intellectual, scientific and artistic renaissance - to change obsolete or regressive social norms and notions by invigorating or 'awakening' humanity, to 'awaken' the minds of the people). The allegoric Mandar Parvat (Mt. Meru) became the 'churning rod' supported from underneath (on the back) by Lord Vishnu – to provide stability. VasukiNaga agreed to become the figurative 'churning rope' wrapped around Mandar Parvat (Mt. Meru). The Supreme Druid Dhanvantari emerged holding the [figurative] pot or kalash of celestial ambrosia (possibly, euphemism for re-energisation, invigoration, hope, optimism, positive aspects... resulting in an intellectual, cultural and spiritual renaissance and positive/progressive evolution.) As per the Srimad Bhagavatam, humankind becomes "dwindled in stature, reduced in vigour, and enfeebled in intellect" at the fadeout of a maha-yuga, a time-cycle [cosmic cycle], a chatur-yuga of four phases/eras/epochs... denoting the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual evolution of humankind. Thus, at the fadeout of a maha-yuga, humankind is at a lower level of development than in the earlier phases. There is inability to think cogently/rationally [clarity of thought, to do logical thinking, inability to distinguish between right and wrong, dharma and adharma (positive or progressive aspects/virtues/purpose and ignoble or malevolent aspects), essential and non-essential aspects etc - like the metaphoric swan], and the heart of humankind is as cold as iron (due to depletion in humaneness, compassion, and deficiency in empathic behaviour). Thus the lowest phase, the ghor kaliyuga phase, is euphemistically known as the 'Iron Age' of ignorance/confusion - an era/phase with a precedence of intellectual, cultural and spiritual ennui, regression, stagnation (degeneration/decay). It is the phase/era of the precedence of tamas.  (This 'Iron Age' should not be confused with the technical Iron Age.) 

AnantaSayana Vishnu is also known as Garbhodakśayī-Viṣṇu (who reclines on Garbhodaka, the Garbhodaka Ocean). Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the [aspect of] Vishnu who reclines on Kshirasagar, the ocean of kshira/shira/milk (possibly implying intellectual stimulation, intellectual upliftment and growth [expansion of the mind] and subsequent intellectual evolution). Shira = head. Mastakabhisheka ("Head Anointment") is a ceremony where the head is anointed from above with a variety of substances (water, milk, flowers, etc.) Garbhodakśayī-Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu could be one and the same. This aspect of Vishnu is the creator/initiator of a new kalpa, a world-system consisting of a time-cycle [cosmic cycle, maha-yuga] of four phases... denoting the intellectual, cultural and spiritual evolution of humankind.

Sattva, Rajas and Tamas refer to the orientation of the mind, the thinking process (mindsets, attitudes and behaviour, perceptions, beliefs, ethics/virtues etc) and [hence] define the quality of humankind (of human civilisation) and the quality of a people (societal norms etc., of various civilisations). Krsna's Sva-Dharma is about pravritti - innate abilities, talents and aptitude (bent of mind - philosophical, analytical, creative, etc - the imprint or impressions on the soul, the innate habits of the soul). It was not a rigid social hierarchy, and is not to be misconstrued for 'caste'. (VarnaH = grammar. It refers to refinement [finesse] of speech, manners: good taste and cultural elegance; delicacy or elegance of language, speech, manners, etc; cultivation.) Sattva, rajas and tamas have nothing to do with Sva-dharma. (Sattva = Arya (having sattvic virtues [ethics]: noble-hearted, progressive, cultured, having a noble or superior mind, not ignorant or indifferent (not tamas), open-minded/assimilation, optimistic, wise, thoughtful, levelheaded, dignified (high moral or intellectual character) and svabhiman [self-respect, not to be confused for jingoistic behaviour or selfish/thoughtless nationalism]). Rajas = Yavana (some ignorant or regressive aspects). Tamas = Mlechha: ignorant, puritanical [rigidly regressive, not open to positive/progressive change] uncivilised.) ... There is nothing better than the enlightened [progressive, open to positive change] mind; the human mind alone is the principle cause and means of everything. A society's competitive advantage will only come from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity. Knowledge is one of the finest attributes of humankind. Wisdom is not a product of the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think (cognitive abilities [to understand, to comprehend, not regurgitation], logical thinking, clarity of thought/purpose, common sense). Immediate or instantaneous change is superficial, inorganic and unsustainable. Aggrandisement, desires or activity focused on immediate gratification, is not the same as lasting, longer-term benefit [positivity, progressive aspects]. A sustained, genuine, gradual effort (with a pragmatic and clearly defined plan of action for the future), rather than an instant change has a long-lasting and progressive effect. To recommence/renew dharma (a renaissance) = towards an enlightened mind, a new dawn: broadening the thinking process, eschewing regressive mindsets/thought process, making effort toward emotional and intellectual growth, developing empathy (humane gestures, virtues, kindness etc). In other words: to dispel [to cleanse, to de-clutter or to wash away, metaphorically speaking] the accumulated spiritual and intellectual 'dust' and 'grime' (intellectual ennui, intellectual poverty, ignorance, obscurantism, pessimism, prejudices, selfish or myopic aspects, spiritual impoverishment and so forth.) To stir, awaken and upgrade the (stagnated, regressive) thought process as well as the slumbering consciousness (leading to an enlightened mind and a higher/enlightened consciousness) by the re-imbibing of karm-yog (kartavya, to do something for the betterment of society - to improve societal mindsets/attitudes/conditions), humanistic virtues and dharmic/sattvic ideals (spiritual awakening... through inner transformation, to 'awaken' the consciousness: to be empathic, compassionate). A change from within - through learning and unlearning, through broadening the mind/thinking process: to be a better person, to become a better people. Destiny is not an excuse for torpor, procrastination and ignorance. A progressive (healthy, open-minded) and humane society supports dharma (sattvic virtues/ethics, way of life). Societal progress and sustainable economic well-being (quality of life and contentment) of a diverse, composite society supports dharma. A minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of outcome or significance is counterproductive. Ad-hoc fixes is no substitute for collaborative effort, well-thought-out and longer-term effort. Renewal, rejuvenation = to cleanse one's mind and heart (and thereby the soul) of unpleasant and ignorant aspects: intellectual ennui [intellectual stagnation due to regressive and obsolete mindsets/attitudes, lack of thought/purpose, etc] and spiritual impoverishment; good mental and emotional hygiene will improve societal health.)

I missed mother constantly and worried for her. All the appreciation I got from the circus folk was because of the way she had bred me. Like a lady. (Good upbringing, social behaviour - basic social etiquette and civic sense are important... to be a good person, a good human being, a good/responsible citizen.) When I saw my face in the scores of mirrors there, I knew I reflected her beauty. My mother. I would have given a lot to have her share this life with me. And to finally feel accepted. I wanted her to see this world where people were warm and loving, not mean and bitter. I spoke to her often in my mind. I said, "Look at our fates, Ma. You caught the wrong train to find yourself in Daltonganj, away from the miseries of your childhood. Look at me, I also took a train, and to a far better place. How I wish you were here, so I could share all this." They said the winds carried messages to the ones we love. Maybe mine reached my mother. (... The rigid social hierarchy is irrational and irrelevant, untenable and unsustainable, even inhumane and impolite/coarse. It has been unhelpful. Economic well-being should be the only criteria. Labeling agriculturists, small holders/small farmers/cultivators (such as betel vine growers and betel leaf sellers, those who grow and prepare turmeric), artisans, craftspeople, potters, metalsmiths, sculptors, folk music artists/performers (including those performing at fairs and other festivals, storytellers, drummers), tailors and weavers, barbers, those involved in animal husbandry and poultry farming, people associated with boating and fishing, carpenters and boatbuilders, people making traditional Indian drinks and medicine, those providing traditional laundry services, agricultural labourers, handymen et al as "backward", inferior people or untouchable is unjustifiable. It requires knowledge and skills, innovation and entrepreneurial aspects (catering to myriad economic segments/groups), manufacturing skills and trading aspect of business. It is about livelihood and employment. They are vital cogs in the [holistic] supply chain – people, activities and resources; they are [therefore] intrinsic to the growth engine, employment engine and economic engine (for a diverse nation and economy like India's). Employment is not about statistics and creating jobs, but rather long-term, sustainable job sectors (based on population demographics, skillsets, literacy levels, geographic realm, weather conditions etc), entrepreneurial temperament and dignity as a citizenry. Overcoming stereotypes (regressive social conditioning) and ignorance is about changing mindsets through changing the language. Mindset change is vital for progress. Changing the language changes the mindset. Also, sanitation and hygiene workforce need not be classified by opprobrious terms/language. They are crucial for a society to function. The selfishness, mistakes and myopia of the past should be corrected. ... The whole of humankind prays to the same divine power (AnantaNaga - the eternal, imperishable divinity. "Naga" is honorific for kundalini-energy or kundalini-power, euphemism for intellectual brilliance, the power of the mind). No form/aspect of divinity is inferior to the other. Divinity does not discriminate. Divinity is not about religion in a narrow sense or monopolisation of divinity, rather it is about spiritual humanism, optimism, knowledge, progressive wisdom, generosity, commonalities, empathy and compassion, about becoming a better human being, individually and collectively. Retelling, extrapolations, and regressive aspects notwithstanding, what if the principal figure (the guru) of every faith were to be VasukiNaga - the voice of divinity, Omkaara?

Sva-Dharma is about pravritti [sva-dharma] - innate abilities, talents and aptitude (the natural bent [inclination] of mind: mindset, persona or personality - philosophical, scientific, analytical, logical, mathematical, entrepreneurial, creative, spiritual, classical, puritanical etc). It was not a rigid social hierarchy, and is not to be misconstrued for 'caste' (a colonial terminology). It did not mean some are more equal than others. Jati implies clan or allied people. ... The intrinsic (innate) personality traits of an individual are merely the reflection of the personality of the soul (the Self, sva - Me, Myself, I; the physical form is merely the vessel). This may help explain genius, innate ability, talents etc - i.e. being born with certain biological capability. And so, Sva-Dharma remains ever-relevant. (Understanding the soul – the essence (the Self, sva - Me, Myself, I) – what it has been (the imprints/impressions) is Self-realisation. The physical form is merely a vessel.) ... The rigid social hierarchy known as 'caste' is the outcome of the rise of regressive/backward/puritanical mindsets/thought process, a warped version of Vedic [enlightened, progressive] thought. Manusmriti was a contrivance for gaining larger social influence, the effects of which have been deleterious to say the least. There is a need for rationalisation (rational or logical thinking, a capability to reason out things) and fresh/relevant/progressive terminologies. Artisans, craftspeople et al are [also] upholders of our heritage. They are neither backward nor untouchable. Some of them may be economically impoverished, but they are also highly skilled and have knowledge of their craft. So, terminologies like "backward" are inappropriate. Economic well-being is [therefore] a more apt criteria. Similarly, the term 'tribal' implies uncivilised, non-progressive or ignorant. It is [therefore] necessary to consider the geographic realm. For instance, the people from the Northeastern part of India cannot quite be termed 'tribal'. Putting the cart before the horse (to have things confused and mixed up) is unhelpful.) 

In these two years, I asked about the matter of contacting my mother. I felt Veronica's face would tighten each time I mentioned it or spoke about returning home. May be it was my imagination. In fact, Ramu Bhaiya had once told me that he had never seen any of Veronica's helpers get so much affection. "Enjoy it girl – you remind me of my kid sister I haven't seen for twelve years," he said a little abashedly, ruffled my hair and walked away. I could see the sparkle of unshed tears in his eyes and marveled at him. He made everyone happy, even though he harboured such deep sadness in his soul. (Depressive and dyspeptic: gloomy, pessimistic, and irritable?) I knew when I would pray to be reunited with my mother, I would pray hard for Ramu Bhaiya to be reunited with his family, too. (Balarama and Lakshmana are one and the same. Lakshmana was married to Sita's sister Urmila. They had two sons: Angada and Chandraketu. Lakshmana was away from his family for a period of 14 years, during vaanvas (the exile period). It could be euphemism for lack of influence or very little clout.) 

One day, just before our grand performance in Bombay, the drummer couple got permission to go on leave. Their hometown was far from Daltonganj, but they promised to take me with them, find my mother and only then proceed home. My heart lifted and I ran to Veronica with the news. She was quiet for a stunned minute. "I will organise all your things before I go, Madame. And I'd love to return to work for you, if you will allow me. I will bring my mother this time." I knew it saddened her that I would leave, but I also knew that deep inside, she cared for me, and was actually happy for me. It was a poignant moment. She agreed, smiling with her kind eyes. "You stay with me, I need you to help me for tonight's grand opening. Rita will pack your things, don't worry." I prepared to go home, excited that I will see my mother and sad at leaving all those wonderful people behind. Word spread about me and everywhere I went, people hollered good wishes and told me not to leave before bidding them goodbye. The manager gave me an envelope with some money in it. In fact, everyone gave me a gift to take back home. I was laden with goodies and felt very special. 

The circus was charged for the show that night. Veronica told me that the chief minister and a famous Bombay film actor were the main invitees, among a host of extremely rich and famous people. "But you won't get to see it, girl. Aren't you leaving earlier?" Veronica sounded sad. I just nodded. "You can't have everything, can you?" I told myself. I skipped around, bidding everyone goodbye – some tearful, most envious that I was going home. They were all busily working towards the grand opening, but each of them had time to talk to me and wish me well. I had kept my farewell meeting with Veronica for the very end. I wasn't even sure how I was going to say goodbye to her. It would be so awkward and so difficult. I walked to her dressing room in this state of mind.

But there was a commotion outside her door. I rushed past a host of people to see her collapsed on the floor, holding her ankle and fighting back tears. "It's completely twisted, girl. My ankle is gone," she said as she saw me.

A hush fell over the circus. She was the star performer. How could this happen to her tonight. The doctor gave her a medicine, and asked her to rest. We helped her into a chair and covered her to keep her warm. They were concerned for her and it showed, even through the stress of the impending opening. (Humaneness, decency and empathy help foster conviviality and camaraderie. These are qualities or attributes that make a human a human.)

The manager, Mr. Mathew, sat beside Veronica, holding her hand and comforting her. Suddenly, both of them whipped around to look at me. I wondered why and shifted uncomfortably.

Mr. Mathew told me I would take Veronica's place for the opening.

"I have seen you dance, I know you have some talent. Get ready, you are taking Veronica's place tonight," he announced. It sounded more like an order than a statement.

... "But I can't," I blurted out, shaking my head nervously. "I am leaving. I must go, my mother..." I looked at Veronica beseechingly. Even through her pain, she tried to smile. She didn't say anything but I knew what was going on inside her mind. She reached out, held my hand and nodded encouragingly.

What could I say? Life had thrown a spanner in the works. In a matter of minutes, I was leaving for home, after having waited for two full years. My bags were packed and I had said goodbye to all.

And here we stood – around an injured Veronica.

An overwhelming sense of responsibility, guilt, sorrow and resentment came to me in waves as I weighed the manager's words: "Get ready, you are taking Veronica's place tonight!"

Everyone's eyes were on me. Everyone was waiting...

Finally, I found my voice. "What do I need to do?"

"Just dance," said Mr. Mathew, and before I could blink, I was whisked away to Veronica's dresser and two of her makeup artists began their ministrations on me. Rita pulled out a red dress with spangles and sequins for me to wear. I could not think much; I was so caught up in the transformation of my face into that of a stunning beauty, and my attire into that of a princess. My mother's face stared back at me from the mirror. I looked like her. I sent up a prayer to God: "You have fulfilled my wish to be a dancer, you have been so kind, please reunite me with my mother, please God."

In no time, the circus band struck its welcome tune and the performers began their round of the ring. Moti, the elephant was particularly talkative that evening and trumpeted loudly many times. The horses were polished and raring to go, the clowns were cavorting all over, the excitement was sky high and everyone was affected. I found myself standing, waiting for the curtains to go up. Veronica had hobbled along with me and hugged me wishing me luck. She had complete confidence in me, or so it seemed.

(Kalpataru or Kalpavriksha is a unique tree, a divine tree, a celestial tree or spiritual tree. Kalpavriksha has many spiritual, medicinal, ecological and botanical values for ecological balance. The Banyan tree, the Peepal tree, the Parijaat Tree and the coconut tree is examples of Kalpavriksha. BG 10.25: || aśvatthaḥ sarva-vṛkṣāṇāḿ || ~ "Of all trees I am the Peepal (aśvatthaḥ)". ... The Peepal (aśvatthaḥ) - the Bodhi Tree, the Tree of Enlightenment, is the personification of Vishnu/Keshavah/Narayana/Hari. The Bodhi tree is also the symbol of Gautama Buddha's message in general, since the Buddha ('the Enlightened One' or 'the Wise One') had overcome mundane (banal, narrow, selfish) aspects [limitations] - of geography, language, history, culture, and so on. Thus the Buddha belongs to all of humankind. The highest avatar [thus, in a manner of speaking] symbolises or personifies the Peepal tree. (Kalpa = a world-system consisting of a time-cycle [maha-yuga or chatur-yuga] of four phases, denoting the intellectual, cultural and spiritual evolution of humankind; vriksha = tree. The appearance of the highest avatar (manifestation/appearance of divinity in human form) is at yuga-sandhyāyām: the cusp of two maha-yuga. ... The changeover from one maha-yuga to another (a time-cycle or cosmic cycle of four phases to another) becomes possible by the coming of the avatar: the maha-avatar, the avatar of the yuga - the yugavatar. The avatar is the fulcrum, the avatar is the sutradhar, although everything that the avatar does (or influences) may not be perceptible to humankind. ... The Param-atma (the Divine Spirit or Higher Self, the Eternal Divine Being or the Supersoul) is Svayambhu - uncreated or self-manifested. Possibly implying laboratory-created. Artificial intelligence. Possessing exceptional intellect, unique abilities and attributes, and divine powers, although emotions may have been an acquired attribute – over many manifestations [appearances] in human form. And so, though encased within a human form, the avatar is anything but. The avatar (Vishvadhaata/the Sovereign of the Universe/divinity in human form) appears to set the stage for the next maha-yuga to manifest, for a better society and humankind (human civilisation on earth) to emerge. The creator/initiator of a new kalpa.) 

The holy fig tree [therefore] holds a very important place in Indian civilisation (be it with respect to faith, medicinal and social point of view), and hence is worthy of worship. It is the tree of eternal life. The aśvatthaḥ symbolises the continuity of life because the tree itself lives and grows for hundreds of years. The heart-shaped leaves on long, thin stems shimmer easily in a light breeze. This sacred tree stands for wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, happiness, prosperity, peace, longevity and good luck. Every Peepal tree is a reservoir of oxygen. People who are near it have a plentiful supply of oxygen. This sacred tree gives ample shade to humans, animals and birds alike. The holy fig tree has medicinal properties too. (The Peepal is also known as the Bodhi Tree, the Tree of Enlightenment or the Transpersonal World Tree.)

Aśvatthaḥ implies: "where horses stood/sheltered" or "where the horse stood/sheltered" or "like the 'horse'". (A reference to the allegoric unicorn, ekashringa or one-horned horse - imagery for rarity or uniqueness? The Hayagreeva-avatar, the horse-headed or horse-faced Vishnu, possibly implying equine features. (Haya = horse. Greeva = jaw.) Vishnu/Narayana is the refuge/shelter/support of humankind. The Buddha attained enlightenment meditating under the Peepal tree. Vishvadhaata = support (one who provides stability), universal teacher, motive power and guiding force. Prajapati (Brahma) is honorific for the Cosmic Ruler: Lord of Creation, Sovereign of the Universe. Universe = Brahmaanda/Brhmaanda, the 'Cosmic Egg' - since the universe is egg-shaped or elliptical. Brahma (Brahmi, Brahmani) is the creator aspect of the Almighty. Brhm = knowledge, enlightened wisdom. Nataraja = One who is at the helm of the Cosmic Dance, the sutradhar of the cosmic phenomenon of Creation, Maintenance (balance, support, stability, sustenance, preservation) and Re-energisation (renaissance, renewal, invigoration). Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva = SarasvatI, Sridevi and Parvati, the three different aspects of divinity. Shiva ('the good' or 'the auspicious') is also the supreme yogi. (Yogi derives from yoga, confluence, fusion; yogi = the one who binds or connects, the one who holds it all together.) ... In Sanskrit, the Peepal tree is known as Aśvatthaḥ, Bodhivriksha and Plaksha. This tree represents the entire cosmos: 'Shva' in Sanskrit means tomorrow, 'a' indicates negation, and 'tha' means one that stands or remains. Hence, Aśvatthaḥ can imply: "One which does not remain the same tomorrow" (implying obverse of stagnation or ennui), or the universe itself. The aśvatthaḥ tree is quite remarkable because it grows both upwards (bottom-up) as well as top-down. The branches themselves morph into roots, so even if the original tree decays and perishes, its branches underneath are young and continue to enclose the parent. This eternal life of the Peepal tree has inspired many philosophers. This tree has its own symbolic meaning of enlightenment and peace. In the Upanishads, the fruit of the Peepal is thus used as an example to explain the difference between the body (the vessel) and the [imperishable] soul (the jiva-atma, the human or individual soul). The body (the physical form) is like the fruit, which feels and enjoys things, while the soul (jiva-atma, human soul) is like the seed, which is inside (the fruit) and therefore witnesses things. ... Tree of Roots above; branches below; this aśvatthaḥ is reputed to be imperishable; whose leaves are the Vedas; One who knows this is a knower of all the Vedas. (Kathopanishad and the Bhagavad Gita.) Vedas = Books of Knowledge. Knower of the Vedas = an enlightened or wise person (one who is not ignorant or deluded). Veda, knowledge, is derived from the root 'vid' – to know, which in turn has given rise to the word vidya, knowledge.)

Suddenly, there were lights and people and I was in the middle of it all. I looked at the sea of faces before me, the lights, and felt as if the stage was rising up, towards me. It all began to zoom out of my view and as I put my hand to my head to balance myself, the drums rolled and the music began. (Put my hand to my head: allusion to the Mohini-avatar and Bhasmasura story?) I looked up to see my friends had also postponed their plan because of the trouble in the circus that evening. My heart lifted and I took my first twirl. I covered the stage, my feet flew in rhythm and my body swayed along in complete harmony. Yes, I was a dancer. It was in my blood. The audience, which may have been disgruntled not finding Veronica on stage, quietened down spellbound. And then at the last bar, the standing ovation I got, swept me off my feet. I bowed repeatedly and made my exit. (The last bar: hurdles (strictures, rigid rules etc) that restrict or preclude recognition of great minds should be done away with. Raising the bar of thinking: a new way of thinking would help raise the bar, to up-level the thinking process (wisdom achieved by rational, intellectual thinking - right brain activity). Intellectual vigour/energy: to stimulate the mind/brain to learn and grow, to think in a new way, to improve the mind so as to re-create oneself (renewal: the phoenix analogy). The more the stimulation of the mind/brain (open-mindedness, progressive/positive thinking, instead of chewing the cud, a technique based on repetition or regurgitation), more the energisation: one’s intellect then takes a much higher level (in a proverbial sense). The need to raise the bar: encouraging higher-level thinking, of thinking bigger (open-mindedness, etc) - to evolve from a lower mind (tamas: ignorance, confusion [lack of clarity of thought and purpose], regressive aspects, etc) to a higher mind (sattva: knowledge, enlightenment, wisdom, progressive/positive thinking): spiritual elevation (inner transformation, transformation of the mind/thought process) and invigoration of the mind, the evolution of consciousness in the alchemy of time. In other words: renewal, rejuvenation [of the mind] and character formation - the phoenix analogy. (Alchemy is defined as an art that aims to change impure metals (tamas: ignorance, lack of clarity of thought/purpose, intellectual ennui, regressive thought process/attitudes, etc: lower mind) into silver or gold (sattva/sattvic aspects [virtues]: the wisdom of knowledge, enlightenment, common sense, open-mindedness: higher mind). Change = inner transformation, mindset change/transformation of the mind/thought process. Metal = human thought process, attitudes, mindsets, etc). The last bar could also imply the touchstone, an assaying tool, a stone ["gem"] used to identify precious metals (intellectual aspects [virtues, ability], including "gems", ratna). Touchstone is the barometer, gold standard, or yardstick: a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing. (Parikṣit or Pārikṣita = one who has been put to a test; examined.) Touchstone as a metaphor is a measure/technique/mechanism of assaying comparative merits of a concept. As a metaphor, a touchstone refers to any intellectual measure by which the validity or merit [quality, benefit, integrity, virtue, strength, essence] of a concept can be tested. (It is similar in use to a litmus test.) It is a symbol of incorruptible wisdom (intellectual integrity) achieved by uniting both rational, intellectual thinking (logical thinking, clarity of thought, right brain activity) with intuitive knowledge (intuitive, left brain activity).

(Bhasmasura (Sanskrit: Bhasmāsura) was an asura or demon (implying a negative person, an unenlightened, selfish and malevolent person) that was granted the power to immediately turn into ashes (bhasma) anyone whose head he touched with his hand. He was tricked by Vishnu (the Mohini-avatar) to turn himself into bhasma. The story: Bhasmasura was a devotee of Shiva and performed great penance to propitiate Shiva (and obtain a boon from the deity). Once Shiva was pleased (and asked him to ask for a boon), Bhasmasura asked for immortality, but Shiva said that he did not have the power to grant him immortality. Bhasmasura then asked that he be granted the power that anyone whose head he touched with his hand should immediately turn into bhasma. The pleased Shiva granted him this boon. However, the wily Bhasmasura - having obtained the said powers - wanted to test it on Shiva himself. (Apparently, Bhasmasura had seen Parvati and wanted to possess her, which would only be possible when he turned Shiva into bhasma.) Shiva fled, and somehow managed to reach Vishnu to seek a solution to the predicament. Vishnu on hearing Shiva's problem, agreed to help him. Thereafter, Vishnu (the Mohini-avatar) appeared in front of Bhasmasura... who was instantly smitten and asked her (Mohini) to marry him. However, she told him that she was very fond of dancing, and would marry him only if he could match her moves identically. Bhasmasura agreed to this and hence they started dancing. This went on for several days. As Bhasmasura matched Vishnu move for move, he began to feel comfortable and became more trusting. While still dancing, Mohini struck a pose where her hand was placed on top of her own head. As Bhasmasura imitated her, he was tricked into touching his own head, and hence Bhasmasura immediately turned into bhasma, due to the power he had recently gained. In other words, he self-destructed. The other version of the story: While Shiva was fleeing, Vishnu (the Mohini-avatar) appeared. Bhasmasura forgot about the testing of his newly-acquired boon and asked Mohini to marry him. She agreed and asked Bhasmasura to take a dip in the lake to clean himself (since he was untidy then). Bhasmasura was only too happy to take a dip in the lake. He tried to get rid of the excess water in his hair (to dry his hair) by running his hands over his head. Instantly Bhasmasura turned into bhasma due to the power of his newly-acquired boon. (Dance probably alludes to a battle of wits. Mohan = pleasant-looking, attractive, a pleasant personality, quick-thinking and good-natured, light-hearted, well-adjusted and accepting. A workaholic who never slows down, whose energy is definitely a magnet for those around. People are addicted to the vibe. Mohini could be a variant of Mohani, the feminised version of Mohan. The peacock analogy indicates a magnetic personality (also refer Part-II). The power to immediately turn into ashes (bhasma) anyone whose head he touched with his hand: Could this imply unreasonable, unrestrained, exorbitant, exaggerated, immoderate, unconscionable, overindulgent/self-indulgent or disproportionate strength/influence/might? Shiva is an adjective or a quality. There are many Shiva-s.

The other performers began their acts.

It seemed my smile was fixed upon my face. I saw Rohan and jumped up and down with glee, he was laughing too, as delighted as I was, about the show. I had danced. People slapped me on my back congratulating me and even Mr. Matthew gave me a thumbs up sign from afar. I was on cloud nine. (Cloud = megha. The Kalkiḥ-avatar's sons: Meghamaal and Balahaka. (Balāhaka = cloud). A thumbs-up: a gesture of approval, appreciation, inspiration, reassurance, encouragement, harmony and kind feelings or hopefulness/optimism. The ninth avatar of the Dasavataar is the Buddha-avatar. Nine could be a reference to the Navaratna (Sanskrit nava-ratna or "nine gems") - a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people.

In The Lord of the Rings (an epic fantasy novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien) Rohan is a realm known for its horses and cavalry. It has an important role in the final battle against Sauron, the Dark Lord. ... Rohan was the territory of the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers on the northern borders of Gondor in Middle-earth. Well-known for their horses and cavalry, they were Gondor's most important ally. (The Rohirrim, or the Horse-lords, were a horse people, settling in the land of Rohan. (Rohan from Rohirrim). They referred to themselves as Eorlingas, after their king Eorl the Young who had first brought them to Rohan. At that time Calenardhon came to be known as Rohan (Horse-land) after their many horses. By the Rohirrim themselves Rohan was usually known as The Mark. The Rohirrim were tall, blond, and mostly had blue eyes. They prized their horses more than anything, and their entire culture was based around these. Rohirrim (or more properly Rochirrim) is Sindarin for "Horse-lords," and Rohan (or Rochand) = "Land of the Horse-lords." These terminologies were devised by Hallas, son of Cirion the Steward. Rohirrim is a Sindarin term for "the host of the Horse-lords", consisting of the element roch + hîr ["lord, master"] + rĩm ["host"]. Gondor is a fictional realm in Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. Westron was the first language of Gondor. The nobility usually learned Sindarin, and used it to be polite to other nobles and strangers alike. Because it was both an acquired and a learned language, it had some notable differences with "regular" Third Age Sindarin. The most notable use of the voiceless velar fricative was in the term used for Gondor's new northern neighbour, Rohan. Originally envisioned as Rochand, in Gondor this became Rohan. Though the tongue of the Éothéod did possess the voiced ch, it adopted the southern use. The voiced velar fricative, which is found in Rochand, was pronounced as a sounded h, while the voiceless variant, at the end of words, was pronounced as a k. Those very learned would pronounce them correct, but forcibly so.) The most significant feature of Rohan's geography was the river Entwash, which divided the country between Eastemnet and Westemnet, itself divided as Eastfold and Westfold. The capital of Rohan was the hill fort of Edoras, which lay on the slopes of the White Mountains. Another large city was Aldburg, the capital city of the Eastfold and original city of Eorl the Young. (Eorl the Young, a wise and valiant man and a great hero of his people, was the Lord of the Éothéod and the first King of Rohan. He founded the House of Eorl, which ruled Rohan. The people of Rohan called themselves the Eorlingas, or the Sons [citizenry?] of Eorl.) The countryside of Rohan was described as a land of pastures and lush tall grassland. The lands of Rohan are frequently described as appearing like "seas of grass". Most of the Rohirrim dwelt in small villages or farms. ... In the Third Age (the setting of The Lord of the Rings), Sindarin was the language most commonly spoken by most Elves in the Western part of Middle-earth. Sindarin is the language usually referred to as the elf-tongue or elven-tongue in The Lord of the Rings. (Elves are a type of supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Sometimes they are conflated with dwarfs. A Christmas elf is a diminutive creature (elf) that lives with Santa Claus in the North Pole and acts as his helper. Christmas elves are often depicted as green or red clad with pointy ears and pointy hats. Santa's elves are often said to make the toys in Santa's workshop and take care of his reindeer, among other tasks.) Gondor Sindarin was a dialect of the Elven language spoken by the Men of Gondor. The term Rohan (coined by Hallas) is Gondor Sindarin, "Horse-country". Rohan is derived from Rochand (or Rochan), roch = "horse" (in Sindarin). Rohan (from Sindarin Rochand) is a realm in Tolkien's fantasy setting of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron. Riddermark or simply the Mark was the term used among the Rohirrim for the realm, more commonly known as Rohan. Riddermark = "land of the knights". (Mark here is used in the sense of "borderland, especially one serving as a defense of the inner lands of a realm".)

Sri Vishnu is also known as Srivatsankita or SrIvatsa-vakshAh, the one who bears the sign of Srivatsa (a mark known as the Srivatsa mark, on the chest). The Śrīvatsa mark on Vishnu's chest symbolises Sri Lakshmi (the avatar - direct manifestation). The Krsna-avatar also bears the mark of Srivatsa. The 108 Krishna mantra: OM Srivatsa Kaustubha Dharaya Namaha. SrI vishNu sahasranAmam: Om SrIvatsa vakshase namah. SrI vishNu purANam: SrIvatsa samsthAna dharam anante ca samASritam (1.22.67). In this description, the SrIvatsa mark is described as the pradhAna (Radha?) seated in the Eternal. The chief principle of things, (pradhAna, foremost) is seated on the Eternal, as the SrI vatsa mark. SrImad bhAgavatam (12.11.10) where the SrIvatsa mark is described as the reflection of the Kaustubha mani that bhagavAn wears, representing the Eternal Being's Atma-jyoti: kaustubha vyapadeSena svAtma jyotih bibharti ajah | tat-prabhA vyApinI sAkshAt SrIvatsam urasA prabhuh || ... The Kausthubham or Kaustubha Mani is the unique/divine jewel believed to be adorning the neck of Sri Vishnu. Thus Sri Vishnu (the Preserver, Stabiliser and Maintainer aspect of the Almighty) is also known as Kaustubha (one who wears the Kaustubham.) Atma-jyoti: two halves of the same consciousness? Kausthubham or Kaustubha Mani could be a reference to Yellow Sapphire Gemstone or Pukhraj. It is the gem of teacher [guru] of universe (Brhmaanda, Brahmaanda) - Brihaspati or Jupiter (associated with benevolence and sattvik or noble aspects). Brihaspati is Devaguru. Thus Brihaspati is the foremost among the nine gems - the nava ratna. (Navaratna or Nauratan (Sanskrit nava-ratna or "nine gems") is a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people. Fourteen ratna (honorific for and/or allusion to extraordinary intellectual power) is said to have emerged from the 'churning of the ocean of milk' - kshira-sagara manthan, implying intellectual churning/stimulation/vigour. Kshira or seer = head.)

I ran to where my bags were kept and changed into my day clothes. I was leaving the circus. ... But just as I was stepping out, I saw Mr. Mathew standing before me.

"Where are you going now?" he asked, as if something had changed in the past few hours.

"Mr. Matthew, Sir, I am leaving," I said, a trifle hesitantly.

Mr. Mathew sat down on the small stool, balancing his stick by his side. "Listen carefully, will you? And stop looking so frightened," he said.

I composed myself, wondering what was coming.

"I think, everyone thinks, that you are made to dance. You have a good career ahead. I want to offer you a contract. Veronica is getting on and we really must ease some of her burden (allusion to Kamboja?). I'd like you to do the show with the troupe five days and leave Veronica to take the stage on weekend gala nights only." Before I could open my mouth, he added: "As for your mother, it is my responsibility to bring her here. Leave it to me."

I jumped up, and to my sheer horror, gave him a huge hug: "Oh Mr. Mathew! Thank you so much, thank you so much, you have made me the happiest girl in the world!"

Mr. Mathew smiled gruffly. I don't know whether he was as taken aback as I was, with my display of delight, but he poked my arm with his stick, and said, "You are a winner in every way. Dance your best, never shirk work, stay honest and be happy."

(BG 2.47: || karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te sańgo 'stv akarmaṇi || ~ "One should be focused on the activity (i.e. karm-yog with forethought - shunning ego, vainglory etc) only, never with its fruits (outcome, phal); so let not the fruits of action be thy motive (to overcome the anxiety of fruitive actions, anxiety of personal fame, glory, commendation etc), nor be thou to inaction (indifference, torpor, procrastination) attached." In other words: Do your karma (to the best of your ability) and leave the rest to a higher power or the forces of the universe. Also: cultivate a positive outlook (morale), never give up. ... Imbibe the spirit of dharma for the larger good (towards realising/actualising the collective societal goals and objectives, for the betterment of societal aspects/values/parameters/conditions), to the best of your ability. Overcome your limitations. Avoid action(s) not backed by adequate thoughtful consideration. Instead of indulging in linear thinking (leading to simplistic or superficial quick-fix or ad hoc fixes), cultivate a broader vision or holistic view - to be able to comprehend the larger canvas or bigger picture... so as to be able to differentiate between the enduring/essential aspects and superficial/unnecessary aspects (inappropriate, thoughtless, frivolous aspects that should be eschewed). The avatar also advises humankind to cultivate mental equanimity: don't be deterred by lack of instant solutions or outcome; try not to feel exalted or carried away by success, accolades, fame, etc; try not to feel dejected or overwhelmed by unkind words, impediments, and so on. These are transient [momentary, unimportant] aspects. Instead, endeavour to inculcate a positive mindset (morale, optimism, hope) and find a commitment to action (karm-yoga: initiative and efforts for positive change, for the larger good). Also, collective shirking of responsibility, being a fence-sitter, or being weak-minded is not advisable. Rather, the focus should be on an objective understanding of the genesis, on prioritisation, on longer-term planning (not ad hoc fixes) and performing well-thought out, collaborative and sustained karm-yoga (continuous effort) - as best as possible. Perfunctory effort, platitudes, tokenism or grandiloquence is not a substitute for sustained (genuine/sincere, well-thought-out) effort/karm-yog, nor is pessimism, despondency, cynicism, indifference, complacency, procrastination etc a solution. Be a problem-solver; remain steadfast in realising the collective societal goals and objectives, to do something that will better the situation or societal conditions. Develop inner fortitude. Frustration or dejection is for the weak-minded, and serves no purpose. The higher cause (the greater/larger/collective good) and the struggle (continuous effort) alone should inspire the thoughts and actions. One might say that it is simply a matter of doing the dharmic thing (towards better societal health, towards better mental and emotional hygiene: towards a better society [and humankind] to emerge). Nothing more, nothing less. Not for the results or outcome, not out of desire for personal glory or fame. Krsna's advise is: be responsible, cultivate a sense of social care/responsibility/commitment - as an individual, and as a citizenry: have a sense of kartavya (commitment, responsibility). Let your life become one with the cause of the greater whole. That, and that alone.) 

Yes Sir, I won. My mother won. We won. What else is this, but fate?

It's late in the night – past midnight, actually. Everyone is asleep. The entire circus is asleep – even the monkeys and the parrots. But I cannot sleep.

(Radha-Krishna, the eternal divine couple, is depicted through a pair of parrots, Shuka-Sari. (Refer Part-I for Shuka and Yashoda.) Shuka-Sari is also considered as the parrots of Radha Krsna. Radha is also known as Krsna-Priya, and is almost always depicted alongside Krsna and features prominently in iconography images. The leela is a jugalbandi (jugalbandhi): Rhythm divine. Synergy. (Krsna-Dvaipayana Vyasa is not to be misconstrued for Ananta Shesha. Worshipping Balarama/Lakshmana is equivalent to worshipping Ravana/Hiranyakashipu/Pandu/Putana/Kansa/Angulimala/Vibhisana/Kumbhakarna/Bakasura/Mahisasura/Manthara/Sishupala/Karna/Dushasana/Jara – the hunter. Folk dramatisation notwithstanding, the Radha-Krsna "Raas-leela" (courtship, romance) is unlikely to have been conspicuous (to the public). The "Raas-leela" could imply: Gandharva-Vivaah, an emotional relationship (an emotional attachment or involvement), a second marriage, a quiet [secret] marriage instead of a large, elaborate wedding (and flamboyant revelry), or (what is understood as) an extra-marital relationship. On a side note: What could 'Immaculate Conception' imply? Immaculate = reproductive genetics, surrogacy or [figurative] "miracle baby"? Or Immaculate = nirmal, nishkalanka, without blemish, pavitra?

The best relationships are the best not because they have always been the happiest, but because they have stayed strong through the mightiest of storms. Vasudeva carried baby Krsna in a basket (across the turbulent Yamuna) from Mathura to Gokul. VasukiNaga accompanied Vasudeva, and shielded the baby from inclement weather (euphemism for unfavourable circumstances?) It could [also] imply a change of place from Mathura to Gokul. (Mathura is associated with Krsna. Gokul is associated with Nanda. Nanda = Nandi.) Kansa was the usurper king of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. Kansa held sway at Mathura prompting Vasudeva to move to Gokul? Vasudeva implies deity or personification of the earth (dharitri or Bhudevi) - the avatar. But who was Devaki? Vasudeva and Devaki were imprisoned together by Kansa? Or could it imply prison-like environment and/or difficult/tough/challenging times? Vasuki is (very likely) derived from Vasudeva. Vasuki = one who belongs to Vasudeva. (Vasuki is Shiva's Naga Omkaara.) 

Vasudeva found (Nanda's wife) Yashoda fast asleep. Vasudeva quickly exchanged the newborn Krsna with Yashoda's baby girl and returned to prison with the infant girl. (Nanda = Naandi = Yashoda = Yashodhara = Devaki = Vasuki = Radha = Maharshi Veda Vyasa = Bheeshmacharya = Ganesha-ji.) The prodigiously knowledgeable Dvaipayana Vyasa was beau, spousal equivalent or second husband to Krsna? Could it be that Vasudeva and Vasuki/Nandi had a daughter (baby Krsna), considered as a manifestation of Mahamaya. ... Since Mahamaya is a reference to Parvati, it could [therefore] signify that the baby girl possessed several characteristics of Parvati/Krsna (the avatar), in the sense that there were traces of her mother in her. Could it have been a second marriage (which would then imply that Vedic marriages were not immune to the concept of divorce or separation)? Or was it (what is understood as) a 'love child'? However, since it was Vasudeva and Vasuki's baby, she was unlikely to have had any trace [DNA, attributes or characteristics] of Hiranyakashipu in her.) 

Two days ago, Mr. Mathew went himself to Daltonganj, located her and convinced her to accompany him. He made a trunk call from there this evening. I spoke to my mother for the first time in two years.

The rain has stopped. (Arain?) I am waiting for my mother. It has been two years.

(Ganesha is honorific for someone with a great amount of intellectual calibre (brain-power and wisdom), someone who can think big - is a visionary and a do-er, has an elephant's memory and good listening skills, someone who is always willing to learn, is focused (self-disciplined, diligent, has a quest for excellence), shows courage/spine during difficult situations, has equanimity (is not unduly elated by achievements, praise or encomiums, is not too affected by unpleasant circumstances, criticism, etc), is articulate but not given to trumpeting his own accomplishments. Ganesha is someone who is not unreasonable, or intemperate (not lacking in moderation, balance and restraint). Ganesha is someone who is an impediment to unpleasant aspects, and a facilitator/catalyst for positive things. Thus Ganesha Is worshipped before the commencement of any auspicious event.) Ganapati is Vignesh - someone who can overcome or surmount the greatest obstacles.

Imagery of Ganesha: Ganesha represents/symbolises the best of traits, attributes, qualities, characteristics or aspects of humankind. Thus, Ganesha-ji symbolises a set of qualities that an individual can imbibe to become a better human being. These attributes, qualities etc will also help in overcoming impediments (vighn: disappointments, despondency, unpleasantness, etc) and to perform positive actions that also benefit society. (The imagery of Ganesha-ji can also symbolise an intelligent, wise, perceptive and diligent person.) The elephant-head represents great retention power or vast intellect (elephant's memory, brainpower), a calm disposition (grace under pressure), perceptiveness, knowledge and wisdom. Also, capacity to think big. The small eyes = concentration. The bent trunk (Vakra-Tunndda) = less noise, more efficiency (opposite of 'empty vessels makes the most noise'). The bent trunk also implies: not given to boastful behaviour (lacks a penchant for talking unnecessarily) - i.e. not ignorant or vainglorious. (Someone who does not require the armour of grandiloquence or self-glorification.) The big elephant ears = good listening skills (listening, and not merely hearing) and understanding power, ability to learn and adapt. The single tusk = sobriety (not intemperate, overindulgent, wasteful, unrestrained, immoderate or wanton), not irresponsible, thoughtless, shortsighted, unreasonable, unconscionable, inconsiderate, unreflective or squandering tendency, not lackadaisical or perfunctory. The big body (Maha-Kaaya): this implies immense strength, to withstand and surmount impediments, vis-à-vis positive/progressive actions (that is beneficial for society). The stomach: not constricted, digests (in a manner of speaking) unpleasant aspects [disappointments, etc] without being affected. The pasa or lasso: to pull humankind towards positive karm and to pull away from negative aspects (negative or pessimistic thoughts, etc). Pasa is also a reference to the oblong dice (possibly implying entrapment, battle of wits). The palm in abhaya mudra (gesture) = blessings and reassurance. The tasty Modakas = the rewards, i.e., fruition of one's diligent and sustained effort and endeavours. ... All that the imagery of Ganesha-ji symbolises can satisfactorily achieve any objective. When one prays to Ganesha-ji, one is essentially praying to be bestowed with these attributes or qualities so as to be able to surmount all odds, challenges/impediments. Hence, Ganesha-ji is worshipped before the commencement of any auspicious event or occasion.)


Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu: two interesting characters we come across in the purāṇas. Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha are together known as the Hiranyas. The story: Hiranyakashipu (Hiranyakasipu) and his younger brother Hiranyaksha were both very disrespectful and abusive of Vishnu. (Hiranya = wealth, kashipu = soft cushion. Hiranyakashipu = one who is inordinately fond of wealth and is prurient). This demon/asura (implying unclean mind and heart, a malevolent mind, a negative person) was exceptionally inhuman (inhumane, unkind, unfeeling, malevolent, rancorous, self-righteous, self-serving, depraved, tyrannical) and materialistic. He is the symbol of the futility of desiring power over others. The hubristic Hiranyakashipu abhorred Vishnu and believed himself to be greater than Vishnu; he was also disrespectful of Vishnu's devotees. ... Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha are regarded as incarnations of Jaya and Vijaya who were born on earth due to their disrespectful behaviour with the Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara, the manasputras (possibly implying intellecual power) created by Brahma (the creator aspect of divinity). The Kumaras or Sanatkumaras were evolved/higher souls – with deeper levels of integrity, calm, level-headedness, dharmic values, empathy and concern for others (for helping people), they had attained self-realisation, were vastly learned, and devoid of negative qualities like selfishness, laziness, indifference, ignorance etc. In Sanskrit, Sanat = eternal, Kumara = a youth, thus Sanatkumara = the "eternal youth" (in Sanskrit). "Eternal youth" or youthfulness could imply a cool and fun person with qualities such as confidence, progressiveness (attitudes, thought process, perceptions, values, behaviour), strength (of the mind), and elegance (charm, grace, character, refinement), a good decent person, an achiever with excellent social skills (knows how to handle people and interact with them, make good conversation, can talk intelligently about various topics and issues). A cool person is someone who is true to himself or herself (self-acceptance, contentment, respect for oneself and one's shortcomings or limitations), to have a mind of one's own (ability to think, common sense, self-reflection, critical/logical/rational thinking, not merely doing or saying something just because everyone else is); cool people make up their own mind about what life means to them, and learns to live with honour and integrity. (A person without honour [who is not respected or well-regarded] has nothing at all.) Cool is about being comfortable with who you are, able to laugh at yourself, to believe in yourself, to be a good decent person. Coolness comes from just being yourself rather than being someone else, it is about one's attitude about life and the willingness to accept others as they are. A person can be cool by being a decent, honourable person who cares about others (societal issues, etc) and does his or her best to make a difference. To be themselves, to embrace life, to treat others respectfully, and try to progress as a person. That is truly the coolest. To laugh often and much, to win the respect of learned and cerebral people, to win the appreciation of honest critics and to be able to endure the unpleasant behaviour of ignoble-minded persons; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to make things a bit better. That is truly the coolest. The Sanatkumara is regarded as the great guru (implying extraordinary academic distinction, wisdom and intellectual abilities).

Once Jaya and Vijaya - the twins - had differences regarding the sharing of the wealth and fees that they had received after conducting a yagna of the king Marutta admirably well. This lead to their mutually cursing each other. Jaya became an elephant and Vijaya, a crocodile. (Here elephant and crocodile could imply gluttony, a gluttonous attachment to materialistic aspects, insatiable acquisitive instinct, or coarse material attachment – the Bakasura analogy. ... Could Dronacharya and Kripacharya have been one and the same? Drona = vessel. Kripa =  divine grace. Acharya = guru = Devaguru Brihaspati? (Kripacharya was brother to twin Kripi, wife of Dronacharya. Ashvatthama was their son.) Yudhishtira = Panchali (the Krsna-avatar). Krsna asked Bheema, one of the five Pandava, to find an elephant, Ashvatthama. Yudhishthira's words 'Ashvatthama Hata:ha Iti, Narova Kunjarova' = Ashvatthama has been annihilated, has become a thing of the past, neither here nor there. [Narova Kunjarova, neither here nor there, in an undertone. Neither here nor there = Trishanku?]. A variant of this is: 'Ashvatthama hata, iti gajah'. Gajah = elephant. 'Ashvatthama Hata:ha Iti, Narova Kunjarova' has come to symbolise ambiguity, vagueness, red herrings or rhetorical twists.) Jaya and Vijaya were also involved in the story of Gajendramokṣa. On another occasion, they rudely prevented the great sages (greatly learned and very wise) - the Sanatkumara - from having a darshan of Vishnu, and were cursed by them (to be reborn with all kinds of vices such as lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, absolutely no moral fiber (adharmic), sloth, ego, envy, etc). They refused to listen to the sages, instead laughing and mocking them, thinking them to be children. (Sanatkumara = the Vamana-avatar, the diminutive form/aspect of Vishnu? Diminutive could imply: of medium height and frame.) As a result of the curse they had to be born as the demons Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa and Kumbha-karṇa, and, Siśupāla and Dantavakra. (Danta = tooth/teeth, vakra = crooked.) Just as the curse was pronounced, Maha Vishnu appeared before them. Both pleaded with the Lord to relieve them of the curse. However, Vishnu said that curse of the Kumaras cannot be reverted. Instead, Jaya and Vijaya were given two options. The first option was to take seven births on Earth as ardent devotees of Vishnu, the second option was to take three births as Vishnu's staunch antagonists. Jaya and Vijaya could not bear the thought of being separated from the Lord for seven lifetimes and so unanimously decided on the second option. Thus, in the first incarnation/manifestation they were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. In the second incarnation/manifestation they were born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna. Finally, in their third incarnation/manifestation they were born as Sishupala and Dantavakra (who were allies of Jarasandha).

Dharma, ethics and principles, is not about over-righteousness, self-righteousness or impossible moralism (since humankind is not perfect), rather it is about being a good decent person, a dharmic or sattvic person: agreeable, empathic, reasonable, courteous, aware/knowledgeable (not indifferent), devoid (a minimal) of negative qualities like selfishness, ignorance, prejudices and so on. Dharma is about having a sense of responsibility, to care about others (societal issues, etc), to have a sense of kartavya (as a citizen), it is about taking positive/progressive initiatives and making efforts to realise them, to try to make a difference, to make things a bit better, to progress as a person (to learn, improve, and grow as a person, to imbibe qualities like compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness etc), to be a good human being and collectively a good/progressive/responsible people/citizenry. Being dharmic or sattvic is to have the mental maturity and intellectual ability (common sense, logical or critical thinking) to differentiate between dharma and adharma (progressive aspects and regressive aspects, between necessary and unnecessary aspects), to have moral compass/ethical boundaries (to be aware/conscious of the outcome or significance of one's attitude, behaviour and so on).

If the Bhagavad-Geeta is regarded as the jewel of Eastern spiritual wisdom, it is because of karm-yoga – sustained, collaborative initiatives, effort and endeavours. One rarely finds books laying emphasis on performing one's kartavya (a sense of responsibility, including social responsibility, to the best of one's ability - for the betterment of societal values/mindsets/attitudes/perceptions and so on, for the improvement of the country, to become a better human being [self-improvement, self-fulfillment], to [collectively] become a better people). That's exactly what Krsna advises. Always do your best without being anxious about the fruitive outcome and you will be happy. Beautiful words indeed, simple and ever-relevant. The Bhagavad-Geeta is [thus] a repository of wisdom, knowledge and practical philosophy, a clear, objective advice (guidelines, framework) across an extensive range of issues/topics and much more. (Bhagavad-Geeta = words/advice of the Bhagya-Vidhaata, suggestions for a beneficial/progressive course of action... that will (metaphorically speaking) help re-create humankind, and [thereby] rejuvenate society: Rama-Rajya, sobriquet for a sattvic humankind and human civilisation.)

The physical appearance [human form] of the highest Avatar (Svayam Bhagavan, divinity or the Eternal Divine in human form) is itself the Vishva-roop or Viraat-roop, the all-encompassing [universal] form. The Eternal Divine is also known as Vishvaroopa (one whose form is the Universe). Therefore, however the [highest] avatar appears that form itself is the Universal Form - the Vishva-roop. The Universal Form encompasses everything. And so, service to humankind (rather everything that is part of creation) is service to divinity. That is true worship. Also, no form or aspect of divinity is lesser/inferior to the other.

BG 11.7: || ihaika-sthaḿ jagat kṛtsnaḿ paśyādya sa-carācaram mama dehe guḍākeśa yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi || ~ "O Guḍākeśa, behold at once in this [manifested, vyaktah, saakar] human form of Mine the universe! This universal form (the all-encompassing form, since all of humankind prays to the same divine power) can show you whatever you now wish to see and whatever you may want to see in the future. Everything - moving and non-moving - is here completely, in one place." (This implies that the physical appearance of the avatar (despite myriad honorifics) remains the same. And so, 'religion' in a narrow, orthodox or regressive sense (as in tags or labels, rituals, places of worship etc) is irrelevant. Instead, it is important to respect the inherent goodness of humanity. It is the same divine power, merely different honorifics. Divinity is thus about empathy, kindness, humaneness, being a better human being, and spiritual confluence of humankind, yoga, fusion. Guḍākā = sleep [ignorance, lazyness, torpor, procrastination, indifference, intellectual ennui etc]. Thus Guḍākeśa is one who has overcome sleep. And so, Guḍākeśa is one whose mind and consciousness is 'awake', who is aware, enlightened, whose conscience is not asleep or dirty, and who makes conscious efforts towards positive/progressive goals and objectives. Guḍākeśa implies an enlightened and wise person, a Muni, a true gyani. However, could Guḍākeśa also imply someone with finely braided or wavy hair: Devaguru Brihaspati?)

BG 11.8: || na tu māḿ śakyase draṣṭum anenaiva sva-cakṣuṣā divyaḿ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ paśya me yogam aiśvaram || ~ "But you cannot see (comprehend) Me with your earthly [human] eyes. Therefore, I give you divine eyes [divyaḿ cakṣuḥ = manasa cakṣuḥ, the mind's eye or transcendental eyes/vision]. Behold My mystic opulence (limitless, inexhaustible form, infinite or endless aspects, all-encompassing divinity)!"

BG 11.53: || nāhaḿ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā śakya evaḿ-vidho draṣṭuḿ dṛṣṭavān asi māḿ yathā || ~ "The form [Universal Form, the Vishvah-roop] you are seeing with your transcendental eyes (divya chakshuh, the mind's eye) cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas (books of knowledge), nor by undergoing serious meditation or penances (austerities, rituals), nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am." 

BG 11.54: || bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya aham evaḿ-vidho 'rjuna jñātuḿ draṣṭuḿ ca tattvena praveṣṭuḿ ca parantapa || ~ "My dear Arjuna, only by undivided service [non-discriminatory and selfless acts in the spirit of service - for the betterment of humankind/societal aspects; through positive/progressive initiatives and steadfast effort and endeavours towards realising the larger societal goals and objectives, devoid of anxiety of fruitive expectations [anxiety of outcome, anxiousness for personal fame, glory etc] can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you begin to comprehend Me." (Parantapa = focused, one who concentrates the most, one who gives all one's got (endurance, pursuance, resolved, to be determined, to make diligent effort, ability to stay the course), one who meditates [self-reflection], to think about closely. The idiom: 'wise as an owl'. The Barn Owl: refer Part-II.

Sakama karm is selfish karm, due to expectation [greed, illusion, delusion] of fame, glory, encomiums etc, while nishkama karm is selfless actions (selflessness, characterised by kindness and unselfish concern, and performed for the welfare of others). Good (positive) karma is essential to overcome negative (unpleasant) karma. By continuing on this path, sakama karma (selfish karma) becomes nishkama karma (selfless actions), and thus a jiva-atma (human soul or individual soul) can become a truly evolved soul, a truly enlightened soul: non-deluded, non-ignorant [avidya], blissful egolessness, imperturbable stillness of mind (perfect tranquility, peace, calm – when the mind, body and soul are in perfect confluence/harmony/communion, yoga). This is nirvāṇa or moksha (when the soul emerges out of the constant karmic subjection, when the soul is perfectly boundless, released from the servitude of one's worldly conception of self.

Note: Feluda is [very likely] derived from phalguna (a reference to Arjuna). However, does phal imply overcoming of the anxiety of fruitive actions (i.e. anxiety of outcome, personal fame, glory, commendation etc) or does phal imply fruitive actions: the rewards - fruition of one's diligent and sustained effort and endeavours? Jatayu aka Lalmohan Ganguly represents the avatar. Jatayu, the noble vulture. This analogy has been used for the avatar since divinity is the [figurative] mist-dispelling zephyr. The appearance of the avatar is for a purpose, to (in a proverbial sense) dispel [to clear] the 'fog' of tamas, that depletes the qualities of mind and heart, resulting in an overall decline in values that eventually brings about a deterioration of the society (collective human thoughts, emotions/feelings and behaviour). ... Ray's interest in puzzles and puns is reflected in his stories. Young Ray was groomed as an artist at Shantiniketan. Feluda constantly chides Jatayu (so as to correct or improve) and [also] enlightens him constantly. (Does it imply that Arjuna [Devaguru Brihaspati] may have been sarcastic towards Krsna and somewhat snobbish or a tad dismissive in his attitude... though it is not unlikely that besides providing moral support, some of Krsna's glory too would have rubbed off on him? Tongue-in-cheek (a figure of speech) implying facetious, characterised by insincerity, irony, mocking or whimsical exaggeration. Pinocchio-esque? There's also a certain upper hand in Feluda. The idiom 'to have or get the upper hand' = a position of power and control over another person, a position of advantage, the dominating or controlling position, the quality of being at a competitive advantage. Could it imply that Arjuna may have attempted to overshadow Krsna? Jealousy or vanity - slightly tinged with contempt or scorn? Someone with a bit of jealousy or power issues (given to self-promotion, self-projection)? A bit of a chauvinist? Somewhat manipulative or calculative? Somewhat narcissistic, sardonic, pervicacious? Surly and outspoken (especially to belittle - attributing fault or inducing indebtedness)? Deliberately hurtful (through one's words and/or behaviour)? Somewhat arrogant, callous (insensitive), pompous, fastidious and opinionated? Bossy - offensively self-assured, hectoring, overbearing, high-handed, a rather aggressive and dominating character? Did it come naturally to him, part of his innate/intrinsic nature?) Alternatively: Feluda's ostentatious behaviour towards Jatayu could be a ruse, a red herring (a figurative expression referring to something that is intended to be misleading) – to draw attention away. His reaction if Jatayu is insulted or slighted is obvious, self-evident. The Buddha had often cautioned/advised not to judge people from appearances and their external behaviour. While the sobriquet 'Topshe' could be the outcome of Ray's unparalleled insights into the epics, or a naughty sense of humour. (Topshe could imply positive assertiveness. However, if top = bait, then Yudhishthira pledging Panchali in the game of dice is self-explanatory. Yudhishthira = Panchali.) Feluda wrote his notes in English but used the Greek alphabet. The entries he made into his personal notebook were in Greek. Allusion to Cicero, Chanakya, Socrates or Achilles? Despite being physically fit (sturdy and robust), and adept in martial arts (jujitsu, judo, karate), Feluda prefers cerebral effort; he relies mostly upon his impeccable reasoning and attention to detail (euphemistically known as the Magajastra, brainpower or intellectual brilliance) instead of using physical strength. (Magaja = brain. Gaja = elephant, implying Ganesha-ji?) Feluda has an omnivorous reading habit (reflecting that of Ray's own), which adds up to his enormous general knowledge. (This often comes in handy while socialising with people and unraveling mysteries.) He remains open to anything that can further his knowledge. He is witty, responsible, determined, focused, and tenacious and has a sense of kartavya. He is urbane, a responsible citizen and has a cosmopolitan outlook (free of prejudices and stereotyping traits, very opposite of parochial). Feluda - smart, suave, disciplined, astute and hawk-eyed [astute powers of observation and inference/logical conclusions], no knot is difficult for him to untie. ... Unlike the enthusiastic and energetic Feluda who is meant to be admired and idolised (for his superbrain, heroism and other qualities), Jatayu's character is [ostensibly] portrayed as somewhat bumbling, timid, docile, modest/understated and also mildly eccentric, and (superficially) it seems like he is meant to be spoofed, made fun of - given his expressions, postures, voice modulation and so on. (Feluda's character is an ideal, not a mirror.) Jatayu is not a sidekick, simply because the Feluda aura is also partly due to his presence, and unique brand of humour, wit and charisma. One aspires to be like Feluda. However, despite his obvious brilliance, admirable qualities/attributes, handsome looks and heroism, Feluda was never able to overshadow Lalmohan Ganguly [Jatayu]. He is vital/integral/central to the Feluda genre. Without Jatayu the flavour of the Feluda stories is different. And yet, Jatayu has never failed to appreciate and acknowledge Feluda's erudition, knowledge, ability to do good, diligence, talent and efforts (though he maintains his own unique presence all through the series). If Arjuna = Radha or Yashoda, then it could be the avatar's way of repaying debts of gratitude. Santosh Dutta was brilliant as Jatayu. No actor, including the immensely talented Rabi Ghosh, has been able to fill his shoes. Jatayu's penchant for sandesh, his love for tea, his simplicity, sincerity and enthusiasm, etc endears him. (The term sandesh means 'news,' and thus the sweet treat have traditionally become associated with good things (jubilation/celebration). Jatayu is self-motivated and enterprising (having the ability to do new and difficult things); he is ever curious and full of life. He is never lackadaisical, self-righteous, preachy/didactic or melancholic. He has a sense of humour, is intelligent, modest (sometimes self-deprecating), and not timid. ... There is also the character of Topshe aka Tapesh Ranjan Mitra (anglised to Mitter), introduced as a young lad of thirteen. (Ray's hat-tip to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or, What You Will?) Topshe is young, energetic, intelligent, a wonderfully subtle foil to the flamboyant charisma of Feluda. He is neither loquacious nor ee(n)chore paka. Siddhartha Chatterjee is perfect as the young Topshe. (Thirteen is Trayodashi. In Sanaatan Dharmic thought Trayodashi is considered very lucky. ... The sacred Peepal tree [a kalpataru or kalpavriksha - a unique tree, a divine tree, a celestial tree or spiritual tree] stands for wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, happiness, prosperity, peace, longevity and good luck.) ... Topshe is introduced as Feluda's cousin. (The word "cousin" covers almost every imaginable, familial relationship.) However, Feluda's relationship with Topshe: what kind of a cousin is Feluda? - there is some ambiguity [vagueness] there. ... Ray has often talked about his desire to adapt the 'Mahabharata'. His one regret being that it was too long an epic. Maybe he then thought a film could be made on one or a few aspects (not even a whole chapter or 'Parv') in the epic. And so, it is not surprising that aspects from the epic find their way into the Feluda stories. Sukumar Ray influenced Satyajit. But Tagore is clearly a pivotal influence on Ray's ouevre. His influence is more profound and pervasive (like a smooth, well-blended superplot, and one needs to be very discerning/perceptive) in Ray's ouevre than the others (who were mostly just source materials). All of Ray's movies are a testimony to his immense knowledge of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc. Perhaps Tagore's songs and verses helped him gain a deeper knowledge and understanding. Satyajit Ray was no ordinary genius, one of the seven higher minds – the Sapta Rishi (though, unlike Rishi Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, he did not have the honorific).

BG 10.27: || uccaiḥśravasam aśvānāḿ viddhi mām amṛtodbhavam || ~ "Of horses know Me to be Uccaiḥśravā (Uchchaihshravas) produced from the churning of the kshira ('kshira-sagara manthan') for the metaphoric piyush, celestial ambrosia (amṛtodbhavam or amṛta-udbhavam)". It is very likely (in a manner of speaking) a reference to 'Snow White' (SarasvatI) and the 'Seven Dwarfs'. (Sapta Rishi or Saptarshi = the seven exceptionally learned, wise personages/sages). Uccaiḥśravā (Uchchaihshravas) - the snow-white and seven-headed flying horse, considered the best of horses and king of horses, was [in a proverbial sense] produced/created during 'kshira-sagara manthan' - for the metaphoric celestial ambrosia (piyush – euphemism for hope, optimism, positive aspects etc necessary for changing ignorant/regressive mindsets and thereby regressive societal aspects) for a healthy and progressive society to emerge. Kshira = intellect, power of the mind. 'Kshira-sagara manthan' = intellectual manthan (intellectual churn/stimulation/vigour – resulting in fresh perspectives/thinking, mind-opening knowledge), to, in a manner of speaking, 'awaken' the mind, to energise the mind – to help expand the mind (broadening of the mindset, thinking process). The Sapta Rishi could [also] be part of the Navaratna (Sanskrit nava-ratna or "nine gems") - a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people. They have helped humankind to emerge out of tamas (intellectual ennui, ignorance, non-progressive aspects, closed-mindedness and so on that depletes the qualities of mind and heart and brings about civilisational decay).

Ostentatiously funny/hilarious tales, music, poetry, art and even comic books are like deep oceans. They are creative insight of an unparalleled originality, superlative thinking. One may have to dive deep below what sometimes looks like shallow waters. The creative brains behind them are remarkable people – geniuses, they are pride and joy of their nations and environment they come from. These intellectually and creatively gifted people have given a fillip to creativity and infused new vigour in art, culture, attitude, etc.)

Deep green eyes (also refer Part-II): Nestled amidst the Himalayas are the Kalasha or Kalash people. And though they are thought to be descendents of Alexander's army - due to their distinct physical features, customs, language and way of life - yet, even a cursory study of their culture indicates otherwise. ... The Kalasha are agro-pastoral people who are in harmony with nature, surrounded by scenic beauty and natural springs. They adhere to a tradition based on ancestor worship, and believe in a single, creator divine power, though different Kalasha places of worship are incorrectly understood to be places of worship for separate and distinct Kalasha deities. The Kalasha pray whenever they initiate any activities like harvesting, ploughing, etc. Most prayers are offered during Kalasha festivities. There is milk festival, the Kalasha have a great affinity for singing and dancing and drink. (Wine is considered as a sacred drink and the locally brewed mulberry wine is drunk in copious quantities.) The Kalasha worship 'Mahandeo' - possibly a variant of Mahadeva. (Mahadev or Mahadeva is a reference to Rudra-Siva - Kailashpati ('Guardian of Kailasha'), Shambhu Nath - Parvati Herself. Nath = guardian. Shiva (implying: 'the good' or 'the auspicious') - is also an adjective or a quality, thus Shiva could be an honorific. For purposes of comprehension, Shivani.) ... The Kalasha myths and beliefs centre on the relationship between the human soul and the universe. This relationship, according to Kalasha mythology, manifests itself in music and dance. In their festivals, music and dance are performed not only for entertainment, but also as a ritual. The Kalash celebrate festivals commemorating seasonal change and significant events in agro-pastoral life. These festivals are 'Joshi' or 'Chilimjusht', 'Uchal', 'Phoo' ('Pul' festival - pũ. from pūrṇa, purnima - full moon - in Sept.) and 'Chowmos'. They celebrate these festivals by cooking traditional meals and dancing to traditional music during the week-long events. The festival of 'Joshi' is for spring harvest, and lasts 4-6 days in mid-May and the 'Uchao' festival in August celebrates the pre-harvest with cheese, corn and wine. The 'Choimus' in mid-December - for the winter solstice, is the most impressive, lasting 10 days. ... The most important Kalash festival is the Chowmos/Choimus/Chawmos (cawmōs, ghona chawmos yat, Khowar "chitrimas" from cāturmāsya), which is celebrated for two weeks during winter solstice (c. Dec. 7-22), at the beginning of the month chawmos mastruk. It marks the end of the year's harvest. It involves much music, dancing and feasting. (Choimus from cāturmāsya or Chaturmaas. Chitrimas could be equivalent to Chaitra - associated with the coming of Spring, since Holi, the spring festival of colour, is celebrated on the eve of Chaitra (on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon), on the last full moon day of the lunar month, Phalguna). Durga Puja is also held in the spring season, it is known as Basanti Puja. Basanti is derived from Basanta or Spring. Basanti Puja is observed in the season of Spring. This puja is performed in the month of Chaitra. (Chaitra Navratri or Vasanta Navratri - the nine-day festival observed in the month of Chaitra, is celebrated in North India for nine days beginning on the first day of Chaitra month and culminating on the ninth day - the Sri Rama Navami day, commemorating the appearance day [the birth anniversary] of Sri Rama (Sita), the Rama-avatar. Sri is honorific for Sridevi, the deity of wealth, prosperity, good health, nourishment and fortune.) ... The Kalasha believe that a new sun is born on December 21 (winter solstice) and that the new sun affects the flora and fauna of the land. (Makara Sankranti or Pongal is celebrated; but many people conflate Makara Sankranti (Uttarayan) with the Winter Solstice (December 21/22). BG 10.31: || jhaṣāṇāḿ makaraś cāsmi || ~ "I am the crocodile among the fishes" - could be a reference to Makara Sankranti. (Makara = crocodile in Sanskrit. A crocodile can be associated with patience and precision.) The Kalasha way of life is finely balanced. The Kalasha society is optimistic, it is not a male-dominated one, their social organisation is very effective, and ensures there is humaneness (no discrimination [misogyny, chauvinistic attitude etc] based on issues of gender). Crows represent the ancestors, and are frequently fed. The rituals are essentially, though not always, temple-less, involving three circumambulations. So much for myths involving Alexander. (People of the Hindu Kush Mountain and of Chitral (the Kohistani and Nuristani people, the Kalash of Chitral) are a unique people. They could be the people of Kapiś/Kapiśa. Perhaps this realm was part of what the ancients' referred as Devaloka, realm of unique-looking (pale-complexioned, blue or green-eyed, light-haired), cultured and noble-natured [Arya] people. The possible origins of some modern-day European people including the Roma people (the Romani or Romany), the European gypsies, could be from these realms.)

Kamboja: Afghānistān is derived from the Sanskrit word Upaganasthan, 'land of the allied clans/people'. Upaganasthan can be considered as the Vedic version of Afghanistan. There were two Kamboja, one on either side of the Hindu Kush Mountain. (Hindu is a variant of Sindhu, the mighty River Indus. Indus is Sindhu in Sanskrit. Kush probably is a reference to Kusha of the Ramayana. The culture and civilisation of the Kushan people could be helpful). ... In ancient times, the horse was a much sought-after animal in these realms (ancient Kamboja). So much so that it became indispensable and an integral part of the peoples' lives. They took pride in horsemanship. In Sanskrit, ashv = horse. The generic term for these horsemen was Ashvaka (or Aśvakan) - in Sanskrit. They were also known as Assaka - derived from the Prakrit Assa (horse). Aśvaka, Aśvakan or Assaka = someone connected with the horses: a horseman, or a cavalryman, or "breeder of horses". Aśvaka can also imply: 'land of horses'. Kamboja is mentioned as "the country of horses" (Asvanam ayatanam), and it was perhaps this well-established reputation that won for the horse-breeders of ancient Udyana (Oḍḍiyāna) the designation Aspasioi (from the Old Pali aspa) and Assakenoi (from the Sanskrit asva - "horse"). ... Ashv became Aspa or Asp in ancient Persian, while Ashvaka (or Ashvakan) became Aspagan and Sthan became Stan. Thus, due to the excellent breed of horses and the expert horsemanship of the people there, Upaganasthan became Aspaganistan (Persian). Eventually, Aspaganistan became Afghanistan. ... The Kamboja were famous for their horses (ashv/aśva) and as expert cavalrymen (aśva-yuddha-Kuśalah); Ashvaka (or Aśvaka) - horsemen, was the term popularly applied to them. The Aśvaka inhabited Eastern Afghanistan, and were included within the more general term: Kamboja. They were especially engaged in breeding, raising and training war-horses, apart from providing expert cavalry services. ... Kaikeyi (of the Ramayana) was from the Kekaya Mahajanapada (kingdom or realm) and belonged to a clan known as the Kekaya (also, Kaikaya or the Kaikeya). Hence, she was known as Kaikeyi ('of the Kaikeya'); it also refers to the ruling family of the Kekaya clan, to which Kaikeyi belonged. She was the daughter of the mighty Ashvapati [Aśvapati] - the 'Lord/Master of Horses' - a long-term ally of Ayodhya. Her brother, Yudhajeet, who later became the Aśvapati, too was an ally of Ayodhya. Yudhajeet and Bharata (Kaikeyi's son) assimilated the neighbouring kingdom of Gandhara and built the city of Takshasila (after one of Bharata's sons, Taksha). Bharata built yet another city, Pushkalavati (after his other son, Pushkala.) ... Taksha and Pushkala were Bharata and Mandavi's sons. The descendants of Bharata ruled this realm from Takshasila. (Kusha ruled from Southern Koshala, while Luv [Lava] ruled from Northern Koshala. Sri Rama set up the city of Kushavati for Kush, and the city of Shravastipur for Luv. On a side note: Could Luv [Lava] imply a special relationship?) ... Takṣaśilā, to the east of the River Indus, was Taxila to Alexander and the Greeks. Pushkalavati ('Lotus City'), to the west of the River Indus, was Peukelaotis to Alexander and the Greeks.

Kambuja Desa: Modern Cambodia. Jayavarman II established what came to be called Kambuja-desa, a confident, self-aware kingdom that came to control several smaller states.

Ayodhya: Ayudhya or Ayodhya = the Invincible City; it can also be called: the Eternal City. Ayodhya has evolved from Ayudhya: invincible, not to be fought. Rome is known as the Eternal City. (It is very likely that Ayodhya is the actual Rome. Could Rome have been derived from Rama?) The whole of humankind prays to the same divine power... despite myriad languages and honorifics. However, 'She' is being referred to as the generic 'He'. Also, retelling, extrapolations, and regressive aspects notwithstanding, VasukiNaga (the voice of divinity, Omkaara) is [very likely] the guru (the principal figure) of every faith (paths or way of life). VasukiNaga is Jesus (Jishu, Jishnu, Yesu, Yasodhara, Radha). The avatar is Kristu (Christ, Maria, Mariam or Mariamma [a reference to Kalika]. Amma or 'mother' is a respectful honorific. ... Panchali and Mary Magdalene have been at the receiving end of pejorative language and opprobrious invectives. What if 'Mother' Mary and Mary Magdalene were to be one and the same?

Ketaksha or Katas (across the salt range) is believed to have been Ayudhya. (Ayudhya probably became Ayodhya.) Ketaksha = raining eyes. Aksha = eye. Perhaps it was originally meant as: spring (sarasa) of the raining eyes. (Akṣa: dice in general in Sanskrit are known as akṣa. The oblong dice are distinguished as pasa, pasaka, parsa – all being variants of one another and connected with the Hindi pasa and the Punjabi phansa. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka - small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer.) Ayudhya = invincible, unconquerable or eternal. "Ayudhya" comes from the root word "yudh" meaning "not to be fought". The ancient Katas Raj temple is believed to date back to the Mahabharata era. Mahabharata = the Great history of the Bharatas, an enlightened and cultured people, the Arya people. (There is an Ayutha and Dvaravati in Thailand too. Ancient Ayutha or Ayutthaya - the former capital of Thailand - apparently rose from the earlier, nearby kingdoms of Lavo and Suphannaphoom (Suvarnabhumi). The seaport city of Ayothaya is Ayothaya Si Raam Thep Nakhon - the Angelic City of Sri Rama. The new city was known as Ayothaya, or Krung Thep Dvaravadi Si Ayothaya. Later it became widely known as Ayutthaya, the Invincible City. It is believed that this city is associated with the Thai national epic Ramakien, which is a southeastern version of the Ramayana. Dvaravati was part of the Mon kingdom - and refers to both a culture and a conglomerate of ancient city-states or principalities in the lower plain (riverine region) of the Chao Phraya River. The term Dvaravati derives from coins that were inscribed in Sanskrit with śrī dvāravatī. The Sanskrit word Dvārakā or Dvāravatī =  'city with many doors'. Thus, Dvaraka/Dvarka = Haridvar, gateway of Hari (Hari-Krsna or Sri Hari Vishnu). It is also known as Ganga-dvara as the River Ganga enters the plain here. Dvarka = gateway, where world meets. (Allusion to Kumbha Mela?) Prayaga = confluence, fusion, yoga. Dvaraka is also known as 'the Golden City', implying a healthy, progressive and prosperous city. Dvaraka could also imply: open door policy, open-minded, progressive.

Bharata's devotion to and love for Sri Rama was unparalleled. He [therefore] agreed to govern Ayodhya, not as its ruler, but as Rama's representative. Thus Bharata placed Rama's sandals (padukas) at the foot of the royal throne, and neither sat upon the throne nor crowned himself. Bharata's rule was dharmic, implying 'Rama-Rajya', sobriquet for a healthy society, a complete renaissance (an intellectual, scientific and artistic/cultural renaissance), inclusiveness, welfare of all (reasonable, progressive, wise, normal, just, enlightened, dharmic/sattvic – qualities of mind and heart, empathic, compassionate, humane, sobriety/moderation, broadening the thought process, character formation, camaraderie, peace, dignity, emotional and intellectual growth (self-reflection, rational/logical thinking), adherence to sattvic values and ethics, not impossible moralism or self-righteousness, though. In essence, 'Rama-Rajya' (Sat/Satya/Krita Yuga - the best of all phases/epochs) is a turnabout from the ghor kaliyuga phase; the amoral phase when there is considerable intellectual ennui (dulling of the qualities of mind and heart), and dharmic/sattvic aspects/values are deficient).

Culture = refinement of thought. A cultured person is a well-read, learned/knowledgeable and open-minded or progressive person. To be cultured is to have an appreciation of good literature, music, art, etc. To cultivate the intellectual and moral ability [especially by knowledge.] Eloquence = fine speech; fluent, elegant or persuasive speaking, vāk. It is essentially the ability to express oneself in appropriate language. The term is also used for writing in a fluent style. The ability to understand the language in such a way that one uses a graceful style along with the ability to persuade. (To be able to present gracefully, combine thought and reason in a manner so as to persuade others to a point of view. The use of graceful style, clear concise grammar and usage, and over time, the insertion of rational arguments.)

The Ramayana can also be termed 'Sitayana' (SitaAyaNa or Sitaayanā, Sita's Way or The Way of Sita). She is the principal character, without her there is no Ramayana or Rama-avatar. (Sita is the human identity of the avatar. Avatar = manifestation/appearance of divinity in human form). The Ramayana is not a victimhood narrative, and Sita is not the groveling shriveling character she has been turned into. Ayan (Sanskrit: AyaNa or ayanā) = movement towards or "way". It is associated with the movement of the sun, solstice or equinox. AyaNa or ayanā can also imply belonging to the solstice.

The epics and the puranic stories is very interestingly and imaginatively written, with numerous metaphors, characters, allegory, imagery and allusions; wisdom, philosophy, patterns of behaviour, human excellence, human characteristics and traits; thought-provoking insights (into events, human nature, societal aspects et al); life lessons, art and literature, holistic health, confluence/fusion/syncretism (yoga); politics, Raaj-dharma (thoughts and behaviour expected of a noble and wise ruler), Rajarshi: a ruler with the temperament of ṛṣi, honorific for wise, learned, and progressive-minded persons. Rajarshi implies sobriety (not intemperate, hubristic, overindulgent, wasteful, unrestrained, immoderate or wanton), not irresponsible, thoughtless, shortsighted, unreasonable, unconscionable, inconsiderate, unreflective or squandering tendency, not lackadaisical or perfunctory; initiatives, efforts and endeavours, continuous, sustained, genuine/sincere [not perfunctory effort or platitudes] and collaborative effort (karm-yoga – for the larger good, for realising the larger societal goals and objectives); values, ethics and ideals (dharma or sattvic aspects vis-à-vis adharma - i.e. excessively selfish or inordinately self-serving opportunistic thoughts and behaviour, amoral/unpleasant aspects; sakama karm (with expectations of fame, glory, encomiums etc) and nishkama karm (selfless thought and actions), so on and so forth and also as a repository of attributes and ethical values worth emulating. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are unlikely to have been costume dramas; they have undergone numerous retelling and extrapolations, and are [therefore] largely influenced by subjective and medieval interpretations, as well as vernacular versions and folk renderings - both verbal and visual (paintings, temple art, idols, iconography images etc) - that came about (possibly) after the decline of the Gupta era. Vedic thought (veda = enlightened knowledge, wisdom) and concepts were distorted. There was stratification of society along various aspects, including on gender lines; the status of women underwent a considerable decline (possibly through a readjustment of the epics, and also due to the ideals preached in the later Smritis'), and so on. The interpretations were therefore (very likely) social critiques and/or the outcome of the thought process, perspectives and mindsets of numerous translators, interpreters, commentators, dramatists, musicians, poets et al - who (in all likelihood) reflected the social milieu (societal mindsets/values) of the prevalent [medieval] era. Much of it was also meant for stage plays, folk theatre etc. These have somehow been persisted with. Thus, there is a need for fresh thinking, fresh approach and perspectives... so as to cleanse the epics etc of subjective biases, and unenlightened or non-progressive aspects. A superficial, narrow, thoughtless, cynical, specious, subjective or piece-meal understanding of the epics and other puranic stories (that eschews astute logical reasoning, logic/rationality or common sense) is erroneous. They must be comprehended in totality, so as to understand their essence. Churning of the intellect is necessary. It is like solving a Rubik's Cube.              


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