Naveen Chandra, Prabhat gupta and Ram Jagessar comment on Devdutt Pattnaik’s blog “What are Vedic values, aka ‘Indian Ethos’ of the Hindus?” posted at http://devdutt.com/articles/indian-mythology/mahabharata/what-are-vedic-values-aka-indian-ethos-of-the-hindus.html and also reproduced below.
Educating Devdutt Patnaik
Dr. N. Naveen Chandra
Under the lofty heading of “What are Vedic values, aka ‘Indian Ethos’ of the Hindus?” Devdutt Patnaik (hereafter referred to as DP) tries to define on 27th August 2016, a subject in a few hundred words (exactly 570) that took Maharshi Vyas 100000 slokas in his magnum opus “Mahabharatam” or Adi Sankara an entire life time in several books, discourses, travels, poems in reviving Hinduism, which he did or Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan several voluminous scholarly books. DP should examine what he wrote and tell himself if he came anywhere closer to define Vedic values. He says, “Sadly, no one is sure what the correct set of rules and values are” and that is why Christians, Jews and Muslims fight.
He says “as we look at the transformation of Hinduism from Vedic to Puranic times” – let us stop here for a moment. WE need a quotation from a scholarly work that there was a transformation of Hinduism between these two periods. Three definitions of transformation are given by Webster: a thorough and dramatic change in form or appearance, a metamorphosis during the cycle of an animal and the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by radioactive decay. We take the first definition as the other two are not applicable here. Many define Hinduism as Sanatan Dharma which is eternal without a beginning or an end. That means whatever was there is there and will be there. Sanatan Dharma does not change. Obviously then Hinduism did not change from Vedic times to Puranic Times. What Vedas taught Puranas also taught albeit in a different way. The method of Puranas was to convey a message through a story. The story does not change the concepts elaborated in Vedas. Thus, there was no transformation of Hinduism from Vedas to Puranas.
DP says Vedic thought obsessed with Ananta, aneka and anitya is opposite of Abrahamic thought which seeks to “fix” the world by a set of fixed “rules/values.” That means Vedas have no rules or values in the world of DP. This can be proven wrong by citing few phrases from Vedas.
1. अहिंसा परमोधर्मः |“Ahimsa Paramodharmah” | “not doing any injury to any thing is the supreme dharma”
2. सत्यं वद | “Satyam Vada” | “Speak Satyam”
3. धर्मं चर | “Dharmam cara” | “Walk along Dharmam”
4. सर्वेजनाः सुखिनोभवन्तु | “Sarvejanah sukhinobhavantu” | “Let all people be happy”.
5. ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय । OM, asatoma sadgamaya | Lead me from the unreality of Bondage to Reality of Liberation
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । tamasoma jyotirgamaya | Lead me from the darkness of Ignorance to the Light of Knowledge
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । mrityorma amritamgamaya | Lead me from the death of bondage and ignorance to the Immortality of freedom and knowledge
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥Let there be Peace at three levels. Daivika, Body and Atma.
6. ॐ सहनाववतु |: Om sahanaavavatu | Let us (guru and student) be protected
सहनौभुनक्तु | sahanoubhunaktu | let there be food for us
सहवीर्यं करवावहै | “saha veeryam karvaavahai | Let us together have competence in our endeavours.
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु | ,tejasvinavadheetamastu| let there be light in our endeavours
माविदिशावहै maavidvaashavahai” – let us not succumb to hatred.
These teach values and rules. When it says “Speak Satyam and Do Dharmam:’, it is a rule. When it says “sarvejanaassukhinobhavantu” it is a value. There is a lot of philosophical and metaphysical thinking in Vedas but they are not devoid of rules and values. Will DP revise his opinions on this matter for the good of the world? And there are thousands more phrases and mantras in Hindu Library that consists of 500000 texts majority of them not even read yet.
For the Vedas nature came first, before culture, before humans even. What does DP understand of Nature? Aren’t humans part of nature? Inanimate world and animate world are parts of nature. Plants, animals and humans are part of animate world. Per DP “and nature functions as per “law of jungle” where might is right, only the fittest survives and so driven by hunger and fear animals establish food chains, pecking orders, and territories.” Therefore, nature is jungle and there is law of jungle where might is right. Whereas “Humans don’t have to subscribe to this jungle way, thanks to our ability to imagine”. This betrays ignorance without comparison. Where might is not right, can DP give examples? In the “cultured” world of man also might is right. As a matter of fact, humans murder other humans because of “our ability to imagine.” Humans do mass murder because of “our ability to imagine”. Humans enslave other humans because of “our ability to imagine”. Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Sikander, Gazni, Ghori, Ourangazeb, Clive, Napoleon, Hitler, Pol Pot, Papa Doc, Hiroshima-Nagasaki, Vietnam, Iraq wars, Pakistan, Terrorism, Colonialism, Imperialism, Holocaust, Racism, Oppression, Suppression, Monotheism, rape of ecology, manmade extinctions of species- all happen because of “our ability to imagine”. Vedic thought is contrary to this mayhem created by West. That is true. Count of Monte Christo and Les Miserables show how “our ability to imagine” makes us inferior to animals. Humans have fear and hunger on a scale unheard of in history. We do establish our own food chains, pecking orders and territories. We are the experts in doing this. Your greatest leaders are liars, cheats and murderers.
On the other hand, Nature is the most orderly thing in the universe. Earthquakes, Floods, Volcanoes, Tides and myriad other things are explained by science. There is a rhythm to nature. Falling bodies, rising gases, flowing rivers, erosion of land, deserts are all explained. Evolution is not a jungle law whatever is meant by the phrase “jungle law”. Anytime I prefer nature over human who established an asphalt jungle.
DP analysis of Mahabharata is completely baseless. He says Duryodhan is a villain who obeyed the laws. Duryodhan was manifestation of kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya. He tried to kill Pandavas from the childhood. He was a hood from the beginning. He stole the Kingdom of Pandavas by lying and cheating. Why did he not throw dice? Why Sakuni threw dice? Why did he try to disrobe Draupadi? Why did he renege on the word that after twelve years of Aranya vaasam and one year of Ajnaata vaasam Pandavas will be restored to their kingdom? He said he would not accede even a needle end area of land. He prepared for the war from the childhood. He made friends with the rogue Karna form the beginning in preparation of war. He was not rule abiding- he broke every rule in the book. Now DP seems to have a thing for Krishna. What rules did Krishna break? He gave vastrams to Draupadi. He protected Pandavas from the beginning. He fought against adharma. He established dharma. He punished Sisupala and Dantavaktra and Kamsa and Jarasandha and other bad people. Dharma Raja was embodiment of Dharma. He praised Krishna. Bhishma, Kripa, Drona and Vyasa were devotees of Krishna. Why? Because Krishna was Yogishwareshwar. Only ajnaanees fail to understand Krishna. Giving ten thousand great fighters with astras and sastras to Duryodhan for his war and unarmed Krishna sat as charioteer in Arjun’s ratham as Parthasaarathi. Where else you will find this samadrishti?
It is true the fundamental Vedic rule and value is “know thyself”. Does DP understand this?
प्रभात गुप्त Prabhat Gupta • 19 hours ago
Favourite Wendy’s child has tried to copy some, actually plagiarise, of the vidya from writers before him such as Shree Aurobindo, Dharampal, Rajiv Malhotra. However since he is not rooted in this tradition his thin cover is blown. More so that every time he writes an article, trying to look like an erudite scholar he actually is trying to forge a synthetic bond.
I will elborate:
Abrahamic line of thought has no unity within itself –
Jews and christians and muslims do not have the same ideology, though
having common ancestors, so why does Wendy’s child seem to be promoting this nonsense
and trying to forge a synthetic bond which is destined for doom, nay already doomed.
One should also note that due to the infinite gap between Man and god, the “values” that god gives in Abrahamic tradition can never be achieved while on earth. This however is not the case in Dharmic traditions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism. The God resides in you but you do not “realise”. This is illustrated by a simple example: When you are a child you do not realise that you have an internal organs such as Lungs, stomach etc. As you grew up you became aware.
The highest point of this awareness is realising that supreme living right inside you. However it comes after sincere meditation and not by “rituals” as Wendy’s favourite child has talked about. A Guru can help to reach this GOD.
Note that there is no concept of GURU in the Abrahamic traditions. It is heresy to claim that you could overcome the gap between divinity and mortal human because of the infinite gap.
The god in Abrahamics has a one way “directive” otherwise called commandments or hadith.
The GOD in Dharma has a dialogue: As in Geeta.
Therefore the “god” of Abrahamics is not the GOD of Dhramic traditions.
Also the context defines ethics, so Krishna *not following the rule* is mis-contextuaised by Favourite Wendy’s child so that he can subvert. Would one not lie to save a woman from bad men, if she was hiding in your house? That is following the “rules” you shikhandi Favourite Wendy’s child
So Favourite Wendy’s child, please go become a Shikhandi (Looks like you are part woman) and try not to dabble here. This is not for you.
Ran Nam • a day ago
This man Pattnaik is such a dunce that it/s breathtaking. Proof?
He says the concept of values comes from the corporate world.
What? All values? Hindu values too? Chinese values? Babylonian values? Roman empire values? Australian aborigine values? Values from, cultures that existed long before the corporate world came into existence a mere few hundreds of years ago?
That’s strike one against Pattnaik. He makes wide ranging universal claims that are obviously and clearly wrong, providing no evidence at all for such nonsense claims.
Strike two: He he says these alleged corporate based values have their origin in the Abrahamic concept of commandment where the Jewish God lays down a set of rules or values showing people how to live. Even more absurd garbage. These Abrahamic Jews are now and have been for millenia one of the tiniest and most insignificant religious communities in the world. Yet Pattnaik feels the commandments of these nobodies have influenced the values of the world even in ancient times when most people had never heard of the Jews! These Jewish commandments were taken up by the Christians a mere 2,000 years ago, but Christians even today are only 2 billion out of world population of 7 billion, a very small minority at best. How is it that the commandment structure of these one tenth of one percent Jews and 25 percent Christians is the basis of the values of everybody?
Strike 3: Pattnaik says these values, everybody’s values mind you, which come from the corporate world, and are based on Abrahamic commandment, are transmitted by messengers known as prophets! Who there Nelly. We Hindus, a billion of us, don’t have this prophet scheme, nor the Buddhists, nor the billion odd communists, the atheists and non religious, why even the Muslims say Muhammad was the last prophet and there will be no more. So how are all of us non -prophet accepting billions got our values, and how will be get our values in the future? Should we just borrow them from the corporations or go directly to the Jews and Christians and take them there?
Now these three concepts values, commandment and prophet are the core of Pattnaik’s entire blog, and all that follows hangs on these three matchstick pegs. If these pegs are so absurd, nonsensical and illogical, what are we to make of his idle speculations that follow> You know the answer. Flush. I don’t know who told this Pattnaik character that he has the chops to write on topics like mythology and the Ramayana instead of writing in medical journals how to treat dysentery and infected toenails, but that person should face criminal charges right now!
What are Vedic values, aka ‘Indian Ethos’ of the Hindus?
By Devdutt Pattnaik
AUGUST 28, 2016
The concept of “values” comes from the corporate world. And every corporate world, even the most corrupt, has “values” printed on its annual general report. This can be traced to the notion of “commandment” which comes from Abrahamic mythology, where God of Abraham puts down a set of rules (and values, when there are no rules) of how humans are supposed to live their life. This set of rules is transmitted by messengers known as prophets. Sadly, no one is sure what the correct set of rules and values are which is why Jewish people fight with Muslims and Muslims fight with Christians. And there are fights between various Jewish, Islamic and Christian subgroups. The “secular” nation state simply replaces God with “We, the People” or the “State” and uses the same model of governance based on a rules/values that everyone is supposed to follow.
The Vedas look at the world differently. As we study the transformation of Hinduism from Vedic to Puranic times, we notice an obsession with concepts such as infinity (ananta), diversity (aneka), and impermanence (anitya). This is the very opposite of Abrahamic or Semitic thought which seeks to “fix” the world by a set of fixed “rules/values”.
For the Vedas, nature came first, before culture, before humans even. And nature functions as per “law of jungle” where might is right, only the fittest survives, and so driven by hunger and fear animals establish food chains, pecking orders, and territories.
Humans don’t have to subscribe to this jungle way, thanks to our ability to imagine. We can help the helpless. We can provide resources to help the unfit survive. We don’t have to form packs, or herds. We don’t have to dominate, or be territorial. We can use our imagination to outgrow our hunger and fear, and help others cope with their hunger and fear. Humans have the ability to think of others (para-atma) and so can reach the infinite divine (param-atma) beyond the self (jiva-atma). When we do that, we are in line with our potential. This is dharma. When we don’t do that, when we are not in line with our potential, we are following adharma.
In the Vedic worldview, the focus is not on rules/values and obedience and punishment. The focus is on engaging with others with awareness and working towards reducing our hunger and fear. High hunger and fear nourish ego or aham, and take us away from divinity or atma. When humans seek to dominate and control other people for self-aggrandisement, it is aham at work. When we enable people to empathise with each other, and seek to delight, rather than defeat and control others, then atma is at work. Rules/values are just hygiene.
And so in Ramayana, we have the rule-abiding hero (Ram) and a rule-breaking villain (Ravana), and in Mahabharata we have a rule-breaking hero (Krishna) and a rule-abiding villain (Duryodhana). The problem is not rule/value. The problem is not obedience or disobedience. The problem is “where are you coming from”, “what is your intent”. Are you working only for self (jiva-atma) or are you concerned about the other (para-atma)? Ram and Krishna work for others, Ravana and Duryodhana work for the self. We are all in between, hopefully moving towards dharma and atma (Ram/Krishna).