Monday, June 8, 2015

Ring of Gyges

Ring of Gyges – Mythical Magical Artefact

The Ring of Gyges is considered to be mythical magical artefact which has been mentioned by the philosopher, Plato in Book 2 of his Republic granting that the owner has the power to become invisible at will. In the story of the ring, Republic considers if an intelligent person would be ethical if he had no fear of being caught and punished for doing injustices.

 The Ring of Gyges originates with a challenge put across by Glaucon, he needs Socrates to defend the just life and wants the defense to portray that justice is essentially preferable to injustice. For the purpose of argument, he proposes to present a defense of justice and starts by asserting that people tend to find it desirable or good to inflict wrongdoings on others though the wrongdoers considered being on the receiving end of offenses as unwanted.

In Glaucon’s reporting of the myth, which is not based on historical fact, an unnamed ancestor of Gyges, a shepherd was in the service of the King of Lydia, who was a historical king, the founder of the Mermnad dynasty. After a certain earthquake, a cave was exposed in a mountainside where he had been feeding his flock and on entering the cave, he observed that it was in fact a tomb with abronze horse having a corpse larger than that of a man, wearing a golden ring. This was stolen by him.

Discovered Power of Turning Invisible 

According to the customs prevailing at that time, the shepherds would meet together and send their monthly report about the flocks to the king. He then arranged to be chosen as one of the messengers to report to the king, the status of the flocks having the ring on his finger and as he sat among the assembly he chanced to move the collet of the ring in his hand when instantly he became invisible to the rest of the assembly.

He got to hear the others speaking about him as if he was not present there. He was surprised and again touching the ring he turned the collet outwards and was visible to them once again. He tried the technique several times and discovered that the ring had the power to turn invisible on adjusting it. He utilised this new power of invisibility to seduce the queen and with her help, he killed the king and became the king of Lydia.

Tale of Gyges Used to Question Imaginative Form of Query

The tale of Gyges is utilised to question an imaginative form of query which is basic for the Republic and is questioned in several other types in the dialogue - `why should one do right if they can get away with doing wrong? It could be an important and a difficult question and the answer to it would take the rest of the Republic together with its state building, philosopher-kings, the cave and the divided line, educational program for guardians the unfathomable perfect number governing all human births as well as the myth of Er, which would not be very convincing.

However Western literature provides us with another option to Glaucon’s query, which takes the premise of the ring of Gyges plainly that, is shorter, simpler and much more entertaining in H.G. Wells’ short novel – The Invisible Man.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hidden Truths behind Jana Gana Mana Our National Anthem

Jana Gana Mana – Bore Several Controversies

Approximately 100 years since the Indian national anthem - `Jana Gana Mana’, was first sung in Calcutta, it then became India’s national anthem which bore several controversies. The national anthem has explored Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Jana Gana Mana and its vision of Indian universality. This national anthem has seen millions standing with reverence and attention, each time it is played.

However, there are critics who consider that the song is deferential to the British monarch, while others find that it fails to reflect totally on races and regions. However, 100 years after Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, had written and performed the song on December 27, 1911, at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, this anthem has managed to maintain its grip on the Indian people as well as political imagination.

Jana Gana Mana was written by Rabindranath Tagore in honour of King George V and the Queen of England when they had visited India in the year 1911 and to honour their visit, Pandit Motilal Nehru included five stanzas which are in praise of the King and the Queen, where most are of the belief that it is the praise of our motherland.

Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea Not Included

According to the original Bengali verses, the provinces which were only under the British rule such as Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, and Maratha were mentioned and none of the princely states that were important parts of India now like Kashmir, Rajasthan, Andhra, Mysore and Kerala were ever acknowledged.

 Besides this, neither the Indian Ocean nor the Arabian Sea was ever included since they were under the Portuguese rule during that time. Jana Gana Mana indicates that King George V is the lord of the masses and Bharata Bhagya Vidhata or the bestower of good fortune’. Kumar Deepak Das is of the opinion that Tagore had incorporated British ruled regions of India in the Jana Gana Mana when most of the north eastern region was beyond the British authority.

He states that “there are insurgency and secessionist movement in the north-east. People there often feel neglected. If the Indian government agrees to modify the national anthem, such measures can resolve the feeling of alienation”. It was selected in 1950, as the national anthem of Indian after much debate that overruled Bamkim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s famous Bengali song `Vande Mataram’ in the face of Muslim opposition.

Petition Filed in 2005 in Supreme Court 

Towards 2005, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court with a demand in the inclusion of the word Kashmir in the national anthem and the deletion of Sindh which became a section of Pakistan after Partition.

Jana Gana Mana written in Bengali Sanskrit by Tagore remains to stimulate a spirit of regional as well as racial identity became superficial after India’s Sindhi community together opposed the deletion and claimed that the word Sindh is to be representative of the community. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the community and against the petition and indicated that a national anthem was a `hymn or song expressing patriotic sentiments or feelings and not a chronicle that defines the territory of the nation.

 Jana Gana Mana faced plenty of controversy from the day of its first delivery in 1911 at Calcutta during the Congress session. It is said that King George was scheduled to reach the city on 30 December and a part of the Anglo-Indian English press in Calcutta believed and reported that Tagore’s anthem was homage to the emperor. The poet refuted the claim in 1939 in a written letter stating that he should only insult himself if he cared to answer those who considered him capable of such unbounded stupidity.

Evokes a Feeling of Patriotism

However, whatever would be the story, singing the National Anthem does evoke a feeling of patriotism and connects one to their motherland, letting them to understand its meaning. If it had been written for the King and the same should not be the Indian National Anthem, then we can find several things in the form of monuments in the country that were built by British or Muslim invaders which has made us proud of these monuments.

The most noticeable shopping place in present time in Delhi is the Connaught Place which was named after the Duke of Connaught. It was the central business district and masterpiece of Lutyens Delhi. Then is the Parliament House in Delhi, with India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Teen Murti, Gateway of India and much more to inform us of British in India which are a section of praiseworthy areas of India. Official report of the Congress session wherein Jana Gana Mana had been submitted as a patriotic song together with the reports of various other newspapers also faced the same criticism of the identifications of the patriotic song.

There are other leaders who were supportive of Tagore and Jana Gana Mana like Mahatma Gandhi who considered the song to have found a place in the national life, while the first Prime Minister of India; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru noted that it was `a great national song, since it was a constant reminder to all people about Rabindranath Tagore.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

9 Facts About Draupadi Which You Don't Know – Part III

Draupadi – Confesses Her Guilt

Krishna could help Draupadi in putting the jambul plucked by her back on the tree on one condition which was that there should be someone holding no secrets at all. Draupadi had no option but to confess some guilt which she had not disclosed to anyone. She had to confess her guilt and confessed to her husbands that though she was a chaste woman and loved all the five husbands equally, there seemed to be someone else that she also loved and longed for.

She had always longed for Karna, who was the arch enemy of the Pandavas. This disclosure was shocking to her husbands though none reacted to it. She was thus free of any guilt and went to place the fruit back on the branch of the tree and was saved from the sage’s curse. Many writers have explored the hidden love of Draupadi for Karna and some have also justified it that the powerful and the dynamic character of Draupadi could only find her match in Karna and not in the five brothers who seemed to be incomplete without one another.

Implication of Revelation 

It is also related that Karna regretted his behaviour of stripping Draupadi in the Kuru court after she was lost in a dice-game, where the behaviour was more as a revenge for the insult during the swayamvar of Draupadi. This unexpressed and undercurrent romance had always been suspected in the whole of Mahabharat. This myth has double purpose where one is that all have some secrets which are not disclosed.

 Others do not reveal for fear of annoying ones loved one and fearing of losing them if it is revealed. At other times, it is not revealed for fear of upsetting as in the case of the five husbands who were shocked but all the same respected the honesty displayed by Draupadi besides the cause of the revelation which was to avoid the wrath of the sage who had been fasting. The implication of a revelation is brought out well besides the fact that it does well and rarely causes any harm.

Portrayed to Be Reborn as Different Heroines 

The second reason is that through this myth, the Pandavas also tend to get the message that being the brave husbands that they were; they had failed Draupadi when she needed them the most. Moreover, when she was also being stripped after losing in the dice-game, none of her brave husbands supported her or rescued her. This portrayed the weakness among each one of them and that she had a tender spot for one who seemed to be much more than the five of them.

This seemed to be insulting which they had to bear without any hatred for Draupadi. She bore the five Pandavas five sons – Prativindhya, son of Yudhistira, Satsuma, son of Bhima, Shrutakirti, son of Arjuna, Satanika, son of Nakula and Shrutasena, son of Sahadeva.

 All her sons is said to have died in the hands of Aswathamma, who also killed her twin brother Dhrishtadyumna. Draupadi is represented as a rather helpless person in Mahabharata. However, she has been portrayed to be reborn as different heroines in her later births like Vira Shakti, Bela and Alha (Tamil folklore).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

9 Facts About Draupadi Which You Don't Know – Part II

Image Credit: flickr. com/photos/byronic501/55833692/
Draupadi’s vessel seems like Lakshimi’s `akshaya patra’ that always remained full of food and all over India, the term `Draupadi’s vessel means kitchen that overflows with the best of foods. She is also considered as `Annapurna’.

Mahabharata portrays the value of a good homemaker and that women should not be considered for lust. On Ghatotkacha’s first visit to his father’s kingdom, he failed to pay respect to Draupadi inspite of his mother’s instruction, to which Draupadi felt humiliated and was very angry.

She yelled at him in anger stating that she was an exceptional person, the queen of Yudhisthira, the daughter of a Brahmin king and her status was much higher than the Pandavas and at his mother’s request he had dared to insult her in the assembly of elders, kings and sages.

She curses Ghatotkacha stating that his life would be short and that he would be killed without a fight which was a terrible consequence for a Kshatriya. Hidimba on the other hand could not restrain herself on hearing her curse and rushing up to her called her a wretched, sinful woman and in her anger cursed Draupadi’s children and the two queens almost killed the Pandava origin.

Draupadi’s Vessel – Remained Full of Food
Various Goddess Avatars 

Draupadi is considered to be the composite avatar of Goddess Shyamala – wife of Dharma, Bharati – wife of Vaya, Shachi – wife of Indra, Usha – wife of Ashwins and Parvati – wife of Shiva, according to Narad Purana and Vayu Purana. In her earlier avatars, she was born as Vedavati, who had cursed Raavan and then took birth as Sita, who was the cause of Raavan’s death. Her third incarnation seemed to be partial either as Damayanti or her daughter Nalayani while the fifth avatar was Draupadi..

While she agreed to be the common wife, she had made a condition that her household would not be shared with any other woman. This meant that the Pandavas were unable to bring their other wives to Indra-prastha though Arjuna managed in bringing his wife in.

She was Krishna’s sister, Subhadra who with Krishna’s advice was in a position to trick her way into that household.Duryodhana did not participate in Draupadi’s swayamvara since he was already married to the princess of Kalinga, Bhumati and had promised her that he would never marry and kept his promise.

Krishna – Only True Friend 

Draupadihad always considered Lord Shiva as her Sakhs or beloved friend while Krishna addressed her as Sakhi which portrayed the spiritual love prevailing between them. Krishna was the only true friend who often came to her rescue whenever she was in need of help and whose divine presence, she experienced always in her life.

As per a legend from Mahabharat, during the 13th year of the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi had seen a jambul hanging from a tree and plucked it in order to eat it. When she had plucked it and was about to eat it, Krishna came from somewhere and stopped her from eating it which according to him, the ripe fruit was meant to be the fruit with which a sage intended to break his twelve year fast.

Not finding the fruit in its place would earn the wrath of the sage which would have resulted in more trouble for the Pandavas as well as for Draupadi. Draupadi sought the help of Krishna to get out of problem in this incident.

Monday, June 1, 2015

9 Facts About Draupadi Which You Don't Know – Part I

Draupadi – Tritagonist in Hindu Epic – Mahabharata 

Draupadi has been described as the Tritagonist in Hindu epic – Mahabharata. As per the epic she is considered as the `fire born’ daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala.In the Mahabharata, she has been described as the most beautiful woman of her time with eyes like lotus petals and flawless features with a combination of youth and intelligence.

Being of slender waist and perfect features, her body radiated a fragrance like the blue lotus for two full miles taking the breath away of those around her. She was the mysterious, fiery though compassionate queen of the five Pandava brothers and also the main reason behind the great Mahabharata war. The unknown fact is that Draupadi symbolises binding of the five chakras in human body and hence she is referred as Kula kundalini that exist in the spinal cord of the humans.

Other unknown facts are brought to light about the well-known Draupadi of epic times. Draupadi has also been referred as Panchali which means one from the kingdom of Panchala, Yajnaseni – meaning one born from a Yajna or fire-sacrifice, Mahabhaaratii – great wife of the five descendents of Bharata and Sairandhri –an expert maid, her assumed name at the time of her second exile where she worked at Virat kingdom’s queen Sudeshna’s hair stylist.

Fearless Women – Rare Culture of Ancient Times

There have been several stories about Draupadi asking for a husband having 14 qualities in her previous birth where Lord Shiva grants her a boon. Since no man owned all the qualities, she was informed that she would be the wife of five men who would collectively have all the qualities. She then asked for the blessing from Lord Shiva with a husband with five of the best qualities, a man could possess such as – dharma, archery skills, good looks, patience, strength etc.

Draupadi seemed to be fearless women, which was rare in the culture of ancient times who demanded justice directly from Dhritarashtra, the king of Hastinapur when she had been insulted. As Sairandhri, once again she demanded justice directly from king Virata for being insulted by his brother-in-law, Kichaka. She boldly condemned these kings for their failure in protecting women. Besides them, she also condemned great warriors like Bhishma, Drona, Kripacharya as well as her husbands for not saving her from the humiliation during the episode of Cheer-Haran.

Draupadi – Purpose of Destroying Kuru Household 

Drupada, her father had created her for the main purpose of destroying the Kuru household which patronized Drona who used his students like the Pandavas and the Kauravas in conquering and dividing the Panchala. Draupadi was hence born an adult with no appreciation of childhood or parenting and she had been raised in hatred with the purpose of destroying a family.

 A popular belief in south India is that she was also an incarnation of Maha Kali, born in assisting Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the brother of Goddess Parvati, to destroy the arrogant Kings of India. Hence they were considered brother and sister though Draupadi was born from fire.

She had no trust in her five husbands and had reasons in doubting them since they did not kill Jayadhrata, the husband of her sister-in-law who had dragged her out of her house onto his chariot with the determination of making her his mistress. They hesitated to kill Kichaka fearing of being exposed of their identities when he abuses her during their final year of their exile.