Review of ACK Valmiki Ramayana

The new Ramayana of Amarachitra Kathe is very good. Beautiful illustrations and very good narration of inner stories of Ramayana. Just like original Valmiki Ramayana it does not conclude things and present them as is ( for example, the atrocities of Asamanjasa, The excavations done by Sagara’s sons destroying the earth, and the misdeeds of Indra). The story of Vishwamitra which he himself narrates in front of koushiki river is also in the book. The sanskrit shlokas “Maa Nishaada” is mentioned inline, the key take away of this shloka – which was in our sanskrit lesson in 9th standard – “Shlokaha Shokatwam Aagataha” is also mentioned. 

The story of Rishyashringa also is present.
So all in all a good feeling after reading the Balakanda.

However at all places Yagna is mentioned as Yagya which in fact is a wrong pronounciation in Hindi. I did not like that in an english book. They should have kept it as Yagna as in the original Sanskrit text.



When Bhagirata wanted to bring Ganga onto earth, Ganga initially was apprehensive.
She asks,
कोऽपि धारयिता वेगम् पतन्त्या मे महीतले
अन्यथा भूतलम् भित्त्वा नृप यास्ये रसातलम्
If I fall to earth from Himalayas the crust will split and I will go into mantle, so you need to control my speed as I fall.
किम् चाहम् न भुवम् यास्ये नरा मया मृजन्त्यघम्
मृजामि तदघम् कुत्र राजन्स्तत्र विचिन्त्यताम्
I also cant come down to earth because, people want to wipe their sins into me, but where I should wean them off? Please think about it.
Bhagiratha then said,
साधवो न्यासिन: शान्ता ब्रह्मिष्टा लोकपावना:
हरन्त्यघम् तेऽङगसंगात्तेष्वास्ते ह्यघभिद्दरि:
there will be numerous Sadhu’s who would be calm, knowledgable of Brahma, and determined to do good to the entire world. They will take away those sins from you for destroyer of sins reside in them.
धारयिष्यति ते वेगम् रुद्रस्त्वात्माशरीरिणाम्
यस्मिन्नोतमिदम् प्रोतम् विश्वम् शाटीव तन्तुषु
Rudra will help to .control your flow who encompasses this entire world like the thread in shirts
With this, Ganga agreed and so did we get Ganga river from Himalayas.
What I noticed importantly is that It is not just Ganga that is considered as washer of sins. Ganga is a mediator. When there will be sinners who take dip, there should also be virtuous Sadhus who take dip into her. Thats the treaty. Ganga acts as a mediator to transfer the sins from source to sink. Karmaphala has to be attributed to somebody, it just cant vanish.
Secondly we should not break the treaty of Ganga and Bhagiratha. Virtuous people should take away the “Agha”(Poison) from Ganga. “Agha” may stand for both pollution and sin of people.

Dvaita vs Advaita

This is my answer to a Quora question,

Why are Vaishnavas trying to defame Adi Shankaracharya?

Here goes, the answer:

Madhwacharya condemned Advaitha preachers voraciously.

As a result majority of Brahmins converted back to Dvaita philosophy, mainly in karnataka and maharashtra.

Here are some shlokas of Harivayu Stuthi, where it is said Madhwacharya’s arguments were like roar of a lion which silenced the arguments of Pashandavadi.

Why was Madhwacharya so much against Advaitha Vadis?

You and me who are mere below average mortals can’t understand what goes in eminent people’s mind. Madhwacharya thought Advaitha is destroying the moral fibre of society. And such a strong opinion was perhaps required for establishment of kingdoms like Vijayanagar and Marathas under the guidance of able Gurus.

Shankaracharya said the entire creation is Maya.He said world is illusionary like a rope imagined to be a snake in midnight, he said Paramatma and Jeevatma are like mud and pot, contents are same but presented differently. He said God is attributeless, but his illusionary world is full of attributes because of Maya.

Even Buddha taught something similar – Shoonyavada. However unlike Buddha, Shankaracharya used Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavadgita as references to prove Mayavada. This was not acceptable to Madhwacharya. He was furious because many people had accepted Advaitha and slowly people were becoming nihilistic.

In many books and arguments he proves that Shankaracharya’s arguments won’t go well with Vedas and Upanishads. For example,God himself came and taught Gita. He said karma never attaches to him but is applicable to all others. Many many similar shlokas are there that tell that there is distinct God and distinct Jeeva. And none of these are magic, universe is real, world is real, and the creator is real.

The acknowledgement of a real world and panchabedha of objects  is very important to accept differences. Otherwise people will try to see uniformity everywhere while non uniformity is the rule of the world, Taratamya(Difference) is Jaganiyama (Universal Rule)

Note1: I just presented my thoughts on why Madhwacharya used such strong words to oppose Shankaracharya. I respect both of them a lot. Both of them revived hinduism in their respective periods. Both have contributed immensely to Hindu philosophy. Please don’t take offence to this answer of mine.

Note2: I wanted to add this second note for better clarification. Condemnation doesn’t mean defamation. No one, not even Madhwacharya defamed Shankaracharya personally. The attack was on philosophy through refutation of arguments.

Note3: This an answer to a comment that says why Advaita is immoral.

Advaitha talks about Paramarthika Sathya and Vyavaharika Sathya. All shritis/smrits are part of Vyavaharika Sathya and there it approves of worshiping God and that’s how we have got such wonderful compositions by Shankaracharya himself, but it also says it is not the absolute reality.

Reality is the only truth which is common across all three states, – Nidra, Swapna and Jagrata, and is called the fourth state or Turiya.

That being the case people are free to adapt anything in their Vyavaharika Achara. This makes people nihilistic.

Also Madhwacharya was not against Bhamati which also favoured Advaita, because it was only advaitavada not mayavada.

When Brahma is Satya and everything else is Mithya, the question is who originates Mithya.

Shankaracharya says Brahma only is the originator of this Maya, but Vachaspathi Mishra says, Maya has its origin in Jiva. If Jiva originates Maya, Jiva itself cannot be Maya and hence Real and hence is somewhat in sync with Dvaita.

Also to explain more when Maya has its locus in Brahma, Brahma cannot be Nirguna, in fact he has to be opposite of “Sat” to have created Mithya.

If Maya is attributed to Jiva, Brahma is rendered Saguna and hence Poorna. Jiva is attached to Maya because of Avidhya. One who knows Poorna is Poornapragna and hence the best among the Jivas. That’s why Madhvacharya is also called Poornaprajna.

Who is a Tapasvi?

The definition of Tapas is there in Valmiki Ramayana. I was very much inspired by it when I read it first time. Such a beautiful and meaningful definition it was.
Tapas as explained is a conscious and continual effort. One who does Tapas becomes one with the self and would be called as Yogi. Valmiki classifies tapas into three kinds of efforts. Sharirika(Effort put by bodily actions), Vachika(Effort put in speech) and Manasika(Effort put within your mind).

देवद्विजगुरुप्राज्ञपूजनं शैचमार्जवं । ब्रह्मचर्यमहिंसा च शारीरतपमुच्यते ।।

This includes a conscious and continual effort 

(a) in respecting Gods, Dvijas (Twice Borns – simply means one who is formally educated), Teachers, Knowledgeable Persons

(b) in being clean and disinfected 

(c) in following Brahmacharya (There is a discourse on what exactly Brahmacharya means in Shanthiparva Mahabharatha, it is not exactly being celibate) 

(d) in not doing violence ( Again Shanthiparva tells the exact meaning of Ahimsa) . 

One who follows these is a Sharira-Tapasvi as it needs a voluntary physical effort to do this.

अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियहितं च यत् | सवाध्यामभ्यसनं चैव वाङमयं तप उच्यते ||

This includes a conscious and continual effort

(a) to speak without being tensed at anytime, 

(b) speaking truth always and speaking truth in a way it is good to listen to. The same is said in manu smriti also – “सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् न ब्रूयात्सत्यमप्रियम”. 

(c) to spread through oration, the philosophical and sacred books

One who follows these is a Vachika-Tapasvi as it needs a voluntary effort in speech to do this.

मनः प्रसादः सौम्यत्वं मौनमात्मविनिग्रहः | भावसंशुद्धिरित्येतत्तपो मानसमुच्यते ||

This includes a conscious and continual effort

(a) to present yourself in a pleasant manner with your mind always in content

(b) to be able to control your speech and senses

(c) keeping your mind clean without bad thoughts

One who follows these is a Manasika-Tapasvi as it needs a voluntary effort of mind to do this.

The person who is capable of all three is called a “Tapasvi”.

The Hindu Philosophy – Demystified

I always like to consider the stories in Hinduism as a symbolism or an allegory. As such here is my opinion on the creationism and the origin of vedas.  These are just some random thoughts based on my studies in Rigveda, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharatha and Bhagavatha . I myself may not hold on to this interpretation forever. So before judging/getting offended (if at all), think of this as an insignificant rant of an ignorant amateur in Hindu Philosophy. And please let me learn it in my own pace.

I present my thoughts in various chapters, as stories.

Chapter 1

The Trinity

Vishnu was the richest man in all the surrounding regions.People say that the richness of Vishnu was because of Lakshmi, his wise wife who showed the importance of wealth. She was an excellent economist and knew what wealth and transaction really mean. She had suggested using Gold as a standard of exchange, for its purity, divisibility, durability and the inherent value associated with it. Gold is the standard of money till now. Because of Lakshmi being his wife and the source of Gold, Vishnu was also called Hiranyagarbha. Vishnu lived in an island in the midst of the ocean. The place was called Vaikunta.

Vishnu had a brilliant friend called “Brahma”. Because of their closeness and the patronage Vishnu gave to Brahma’s experiments, inventions and discoveries, people made an allegory of it and said Brahma was an adopted son of Vishnu,  born out of a lotus from Vishnu’s naval. Brahma ran a university were he trained  many people on  creative thinking. His students started to call him the creator or Karta. Brahma married Saraswati, a scholar of music, grammar and knowledge. A perfect companion to him. Both of them lived in a lake filled with white lotuses and beautiful swans .

Shiva was another close friend of Vishnu, but he lived far away in Kailas of Himalayas. He had chosen the path of renunciation. He appreciated inner peace and started doing penance. Vishnu was a capitalist and appreciated people accumulating wealth and spending and donating it in a  wise manner. Shiva on the other hand was an ascetic, like Thoreau he like to lead his life in nature, eating whatever he finds and not getting dejected by anything. He used to stay in a burial grounds while on  travel indicating that nothing in the world is bad.He was a maverick and had a huge following as well.His followers called him Rudra, and anything terrifying came to be known as Roudra there after. Daksha,  one of the heads of Brahma’s university had a daughter called Dakshayini who had married Shiva without her father’s approval.

Though Shiva and Vishnu had different ideologies they mutually respected each other, but Shiva used to contradict many ideas of Brahma and either stopped the inventions or destroyed those already invented. People started to say Vishnu is the maintainer (the controller of all, “sthithi”), Brahma is the creator (“srishti”) and Shiva is the destroyer (“laya”).

Chapter 2

The beginning of creation

Once it so happened that Vishnu wanted to know about the nature of the universe, the earth, the living and non living organisms, and almost everything possible in imagination. He called to Brahma and asked if it were possible. Brahma said it was possible but it would take a lot of time.Vishnu agreed and asked him to get help of King Manu also in this regard. Manu was the king of mainlands, a great devotee of Vishnu. King Manu had seven  scholars at his disposal who were also students of Brahma, they were Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. These saptarshis formed a lineage of scholars, and every King manu had a small variation in the list of Saptarshis they got.


Brahma called to his seven most trusted students, also called Manasa Putra’s of Brahma and asked them to help him in this task. Those manasa putras were Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Marichi, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhrigu, Vashistha, Daksha and Narada.
Kashyapa, the foremost among the manasa putra’s agreed to classify all living organisms. Another son called Angirasa accepted to classify metals, rocks, earth and non metallic objects. He actually invented alchemy and metallurgy. He invented copper which was hence named after him as Angaara, even the planet Mars was named after him later because of its colour. He became the forefather of all chemists later on. Brahma similarly asked his other students to classify and analyze almost everything. They all came up with this new knowledge called Vedas. Vedas were taught to Brahma’s students in his university.  There were strict entry criteria for admission to ensure that the knowledge does not reach unqualified people. The qualification included measures to check that the new knowledge is not used for destructive purposes.Subsequently these students also came to be known as Prajapatis, “Fathers of the People”.

After Brahma’s classification, people came to know about the world. They started to say that Brahma only created them all. But the subtleness in the statement was that until the classification it was as if the things were non existent. After classification, people gave names to things, understood things. That was the creation.

Chapter 3


With that new knowledge, Vishnu hired a set of people skilled in flying on Birds, the head of whose community was Garuda. Garuda was atually son of Kashyapa by Vinata, hence called Vainateya. Vishnu also hired Adishesha another son of Kashyapa by Kadru. Adishesha led a community of people skilled in digging the earth, underwater swimming etc. They were called snake-people.

The mansion of Vishnu was subsequently was protected by Garuda and his team. Garuda’s team patrolled the island on air using bird chariots. Adishesha’s team protected the island from underground and in the water. Internally the mansion was protected by Vayu, the personal bodyguard of Vishnu. There were other support groups also, Sudarshana was the arsenal team, he manufactured weapons for Vishnu.There were daily thousands of visitors to this island seeking Vishnu’s help for their problems and he used to help them. Hiranyagarbha thought of improving this process and called a urgent meeting.


Ishavasya Upanishad – My Interpretation

Ishavasya Upanishad has many passages that perfectly suit my liberal thoughts and atheistic philosophies. Here are some of them I have interpreted.

The Verse for “Right To Property”
ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ।।
IsAvAsyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyAm jagat |
Tena tyaktena bhunjithA mA grdhah kasyasvid dhanam ||
This everything that moves in this world is owned by Isa (God). Hence consume it sparingly and in a detached manner. Never ever covete for some one else’s possessions
This verse solves the confusion of right to property
(1) Only God owns everything that moves(Jagat) in this world(Jagatyam) . Since world itself is moving, everything on it also is moving. Hence no mortal can own anything that is on this earth. It asks us to consume it as if we are sharing, to be detached, and use it sparingly.
(2) What is the meaning of coveting somebody’s possessions when nobody but God owns things? My understanding is that the meaning of possession means sharing, as if you borrow a book from a circulating library. We cant say we own  a fraction of a library book,because all of it is shared. We neither own it in a time multiplexed manner, or space multiplexed, we only borrow it to enjoy. Not only that whatever we consume is a loan from our future generation, so we must have consideration. If we don’t follow this, it is equivalent to coveting somebody else’s possession. And we should never do that.
(3) This is so simple but so profound.Perhaps this is the best use of the concept of  God.
(4)  Also it proves that we knew earth was not static, we always knew earth was moving, solar system was moving, the entire universe is moving 🙂 and hence we use the word Jagat for this universe.

Principle of Non Aggression
असुर्या नाम ते लोका अन्धेन तमसाऽऽवृताः ।
ताँँस्ते प्रेत्याभिगच्छन्ति ये के चात्महनो जनाः ॥
Asurya Naama Te Loka andhena Tamasaavritaaha |
Taansthe pretyabhigachhanthi ye ke chaatmahano janaaha ||
There is a world without a star and hence is filled with darkness. Those who kill the self would go to that world.
Observe that when Krishna tells one cannot kill the aatma, this verse tells those who kill the Aatma would go to the place where there is no Star, no Light and darkness everywhere. How is this possible, does it not conflict?
Upon reading the Bhashyas further, I found that killing the self means prohibiting somebody (including oneself) to express themselves. This is the classic argument for Non Aggression, the corner stone of libertarianism. Thats why dehatyaga is a virtue, many do that. But Atmahatya is a abominable. Dehatyaga is done in peace, for the welfare of others with full knowledge. Atmahatya is escapism, the reflection of  failure.

Theory of Relativity
अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयो नैनद्देवा आप्नुवन्पूर्वमर्षत् ।
तद्धावतोऽन्यानत्येति तिष्ठत्तस्मिन्नपो मातरिश्वा दधाति ||
Anejat ekam manasah javiyah na enat devAh apnuvan purvam arsat. |
Tat dhAvatah anyAn atyeti. Tasmin Apah mAtarisvA dadhAti ||
Though it appears not to move, it moves faster than mind. Even God’s cannot reach it, by the time Gods try to reach it, it would have gone farther (think of time travel)
तदेजति तन्नैजति तद्दूरे तद्वन्तिके ।
तदन्तरस्य सर्वस्य तदु सर्वस्य बाह्यतः ॥
Tat ejati tat na ejati. Tat dure tat antike. |
Tat antah asya sarvasya Tat u sarvasya asya bAhyatah ||
It moves but is also static, it is farther but yet near, it is within us but everything is external to it
These two shlokas classically state the main principle of relativistic theory. The self is faster than mind, hence when the Gods of senses try to reach the self, self would have got somewhere else as if it is a time travel. Self moves faster than mind, hence if you know how to control the self you can control  your mind and perhaps see the future 🙂
The second verse above tells that same object can be in motion and be static. It only depends on frame of reference.

Both Science and Philosophy should be studied.
अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽविद्यामुपासते । ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विद्याया रताः ॥
अन्यदेवाहुर्विद्ययाऽन्यदाहुरविद्यया । इति शुश्रुम धीराणां ये नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे ॥
Andham Tamaha Pravishanthi Yo Avidhyaam Upaasathe |
Tato Bhooya Iva te Tamo Ya u Vidhyayaa Rataaha ||
Anyadeva Ahur-vidyaya anyadaahur-avidyayaa |
Iti shushruma dheeranaam ye nastad vichachakshire ||
Those who focus on Avidya alone will go to darkness. And those who study only Vidya will go to a place darker than the first. The result of Vidya is different and the result of Avidya is different, no need to say they conflict with one another, they are orthogonal.
Vidya is the study of Brahman, Avidya is the study of Prakriti which is ever changing and hence indeterministic. The above verse says that those who study only theology/philosophy will goto darkness (know nothing) and those who study only science also will goto darkness (know nothing).  So both have to be studied.
Now people may know that Hinduism is the only religion that is comfortable with science and hence we don’t have problems with evolution 🙂

Saying there is no God (Asambhava) and there is God(Sambhava) deterministically is both wrong, we need to believe in both.
अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽसम्भूतिमुपासते । ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ सम्भूत्या रताः ॥
अन्यदेवाहुः सम्भवादन्यदाहुरसम्भवात् । इति शुश्रुम धीराणां ये नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे ॥
Andham Tamaha Pravishanthi Ye Sambhoothim Upaasathe |
Tato Bhooya Iva te Tamo Ya u Vidhyayaa Rataaha ||
Anyadeva Ahur-vidyaya anyadaahur-avidyayaa |
Iti shushruma dheeranaam ye nastad vichachakshire ||
Those who focus on non existence of God(Asambhooti) alone will go to darkness. And those who focus only on presence of God(Sambhoothi) will go to a place darker than the first. The God is for a different purpose and Godlessness serves a different purpose, no need to say they conflict with one another, they are orthogonal.
While most Bhashyakaaras have considered Sambhooti and Asambhooti as formfull/formless God (Saguna/Nirguna). I have taken liberty to translate it as presence or absence of God, hence theism/atheism.The reason is the usage of explicit words of “Sambhava” and “Asambhava” they don’t use Saguna/Nirguna here though they are available. They also don’t use Astika/Nastika which was interpreted as the presence/absence of belief in Vedas.


Who is a Dvija

Varna is said to be based on traits, but how should one identify the traits? It is possible to know one’s character as he/she becomes mature, but would it not be good if we identify it before starting the education? If not a person who is never interested in vedas and philosophy but in say tool making might be forced to waste time in learning BrahmaSutras.

Is that the real reason for Upanayana? After Upanayana a person is called Dvija or twice born.  Why is it so? Is their any linkage between this and Varnashrama? Read On:

(1) As per “Shodasha Samskara”  a brahmin child should not be considered as a brahmin till he gets his Yagnopaveeta, a license to study BrahmaGnyaana. If the child dies before the Upanayana, the child is buried  not cremated.

(2)  It is known that Yagnopaveeta was also worn by ladies during vedic period when they were studying philosophy, later when they were reserved to do house-chores (Unfortunately) they were spared from wearing it or getting Upanayana done.

(3) In older days Upanayana was done for all three major sub groups except the last “Shudras”.

(4) There is a rechristening ritual in Upanayanam, a person  gets a new surname. Usually since it is done only within Brahmin community, the surnames are “Sharma”, “Acharya”, etc. But I take liberty to think that we also get surnames like “Varma” which indicates the person is going to be a Kshatriya, or “Shreshti – Shreeeyam Ishtathi iti Shreshtihi, one who loves wealth is a Shreshti, which got its vernacular version of Shetty” for Vysya. Also it is possible to enjoin yourself to a new Gothra, and then you are called “Gothrapathyam Puman” son by Gotra. There are many Gotra lineages that were thus adopted .(I have the whole Gotra tree with me, but cant put it here it is so huge)

(5) As per Manu Smriti, all three subcasts can study Brahma Gnyaana, but only Brahmins are supposed to teach it, similarly Shastra(Weapons) and  Vyapaara(Business). It also tells that at dire situations people can change their professions, but generally that is not preferred. Also there is clear specification that if a person and his family chooses a different profession and continues to be in that profession for 7 generations the varna changes. Which is a clear evidence that Varna is primarily a trait, but linked to birth only in smritis for the sake of convenience.

Manusmiriti takes the easy step of associating traits with birth. No text explains how to formally join/change a  varna, other than jata-varna. And hence starts my imagination of linking Upanayana as a device to change the Varnas:

Any child born is neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya or Vysya. They all fall into the default bucket of Shudras (Courtesy, first point above). Children of all four Varnas were put under observation. The various behavioural characteristics were analaysed and then parents and society together would decide to which classification the child seems to be fit. Corresponding to the trait of the child respective Upanayana samskaras are done for the child to join the Varna of Brahmana, Kshatriya or Vaishya. If the child is very servile, without having any independent decision making ability, the child is classified as a Shudra and no Upanayanam is done. Hence except Shudras all are called Dvijas, the twice born. Thus even if you consider the Varnas tied to birth, it is tied to the second birth not the first.

Possible Reasons for Upanayana Samskara to be restricted to Brahmins.
Because of marriages strictly within Varnas and genetics, the offsprings might have started to show behavioural characteristics of the same varna  as that they were born. This pattern would have caused people to not to do any Upanayanam and associate the child’s Varna automatically with the first physical birth. However Brahmins who are more traditional continued the process of upanayanam but still they kept the child in the same Varna. But they too laxed the ritual to females and retained it only for males.

I neither endorse atheism or any religion to others. I just present my thoughts. Human beings are generally social beings and I too am one of them.The points I express here are because of my curiosity to extract meaning out of Gods, Religion, and Customs. Essentially my thought process is that people are not fools to start any custom without a reason, but the reason gets faded as time passes by.