Asura

Why do we burn effigies of Kumbhakaran and Meghnad during Dussehra?

We grew up celebrating festival of Dussehra, with the images of three statues burning across the country. I never really questioned what actions of Kumbhkaran & Meghnad lead to them being tagged as ‘evil’ – Just because they were Asura (or Rakshasha)?

With time, as I read a little more, this question kept surfacing. Apart form being a part of the final war, where both Kumbhkaran and Meghnad were fighting for their country (Kul-dharma), were there any specific evil actions that warranted them this status.

  1. Meghnad was the one and only warrior who possessed the three ultimate weapons of Trimurti, i.e. Brahmandastra, Vaishnavastra and Pashupatastra. Using his power and intellect, he overthrew Indra and ruled heaven (hence, he was called Indrajit). He was arrogant and proud of his powers and believed in expanding his area of influence. While these are not ‘ideal’ qualities, he was one of the many people in history who could be labeled the same. Also, Indra was not exactly an ‘ideal’ figure himself (tricking Karna to part with his armor, to get his son Arjun unfair advantage in war, was one of the many acts of treachery)

  2. I found this line of thought to be most prevalent – They were fighting on the side of evil (Ravana), hence, they must be tagged as ‘evil’.

Is it? If the leader is evil, does that mean entire army fighting for him is evil? We do not need to go to Dwapar or Treta yuga to find examples of armies fighting for a wrong cause. Last century in Kali yug is full of such instances. What is the definition of Dharma? What was the Dharma for these warriors when an army invaded their country (although for correct reasons)?

Listen to this dialogue between Kumbhkaran and Vibhishan, where Kumbhkaran answers all the questions and allegations raised by his brother.

 

3. So they did fight for their country. But why did they not convince Ravana to stop war and the killings that came with it?

They did, actually. At some point during the war. Do listen to following conversations with two brothers, and father-son.

 

 

And talking about not following the codes of war (Meghnad was accused of using ‘Maya’ or illusion)- Remember the episode of Ram and Bali. It would be little hypocritical to say Meghnad’s treachery was bad, but Ram’s treachery was good (as it was a wrong done to correct another wrong) – I do not agree with this line of thought.

Of course, their effigies can be seen as a portrayal of evil, and can be taken as a metaphor. I do not find anything more to this.

Please let me know if there is an episode that I have missed, and that portrays the deeds which justified vilifying these two characters.

Shadows

That time of night when everything is in a state of limbo, stuck between the wish to stay, and the need to retire

I look at the sky. The moon’s wisdom seeps into me like a river of dancing lights.

I am restless tonight. Standing on the grass. My feet become roots.

Is the moon conversing with me? Are the stars trying to reach out?

I am not sure. Still I reach out. And wonder. On which one of these days will they take me away.

Night

Floating in the sea, refusing to swim, to go in quest of a land.

For the sky looks beautiful. And the stars dreamy.

But let’s not just talk about sky and stars.

Let’s talk about the night.

Night that is home to many unheard voices, looking for a way out, complaining about too much light.

All these voices, yearning to be heard in solitude.

I wish to float in the sea of those voices, and be forgotten.

Status Check

Where does one look for inspiration? Sometimes it comes in form of a person, sometimes as a long forgotten memory, or sometimes as words in a book you are reading.

Inspiration is not something which comes from outside and needs to be absorbed. In fact, it resides within us. We just need a trigger to bring it to the surface. And that trigger can be any of things mentioned above.

Purpose and Passion is what drives us and makes us happy and feel fulfilled. Even mundane tasks such as doing dishes can be a joyous activity if we go with the flow. Ikigai calls it microflows. Mindfulness tells us to be what we are doing, dissolve the ego and become one with the task, i.e. no distinction remains between the task and the doer.

Live in the moment – While this is very true and key to happiness, we cannot turn a blind eye to the future. Most of the texts that I have read regarding this topic seem to skip this part. I have been trying to create a framework that would work for me to bring these two together.

Assume life is a hyperbolic curve, with things going blurry with increased y-axis coordinates (assuming x-axis to be a scale of time). Present is where most of the focus has to lie and this will be in place all the time. Near future is something we need to review once in a while, but not ponder over more than needed. As we go deeper into future, we can see future as a theme, rather than an exact representation. Future can also be looked at as a choice between multiple themes, or just a blank slate (if we are unsure of where we want to see ourselves) – whatever be the theme, we need to be cognizant of it – And of course keep in mind that things can change, and will change.

I am a believer in destiny. ‘If you believe that everything is destined, why even care to do stuff?’ – Why, really? Because if we just leave everything to be as is, not contributing anything to self or world, life becomes void of passion and purpose, and you put yourself in a state of limbo which is different from death only in fact that blood still continues to run in your veins. If you astray from path of Karma, your soul withers away, bit by bit.

I wish to write again, that too frequently. Worrying a lot about quality of my writing has kept me in a writer’s block for a long time now. This is one of my short term themes – Write more and see for yourself if you still like it as much as you did in the past.

Hiking in the Rain

We had an unexpected company as soon as we started our hike. The clouds which were forming up since last few hours had decided to let go, as the rains came down to greet us while we moved up the trail. It was not raining very heavily, nor was it too light to be discounted. Kind of perfect setting for a short hike early in the morning.

The streams on the way were also happy to see this new visitor. They cut across our path, singing happily and dancing down the forest. We could see few blue patches in the sky, but the clouds predominantly filled the canvas. They were not too solid, like the ones you see at times – huge boulders of black, throwing tantrums as they sluggishly moved forward. Nor were they too light – like a puff of smoke, at the risk of being blown away at the first sign of an intoxicated breeze. They were like a small hut made of mud, sitting happily in the fields, content to see things as they are.

And to talk about the trees. They were all chirpy and waving handsomely. There were more shades of green across the valley than I could name. The entire setup looked like Nature has maxed up on Saturation. It was a symphony of colors, playing right in front of our eyes. We moved away from the trail and started climbing up the path of a waterfall. Small jet of streams passing by served as a warning – Do not stay on this path for too long, as it was not made for you. We heeded to it, and switched to the human trail shortly.

We were looking down at the trail we came from. The path of the waterfall and the trail cris-crossed all the way to the bottom. It was difficult to make out one from other. And even though, while ascending, we were very sure of which was which, it all seemed to have blurred away into a single entity. They were different, yet they were the same. So were the streams. And the trees and clouds. And us.