Front Cover
 Title Page

Group Title: sacrifice of Sita, or, The essence of the Ramayana
Title: The Sacrifice of Sita, or, The essence of the Ramayana
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00077051/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Sacrifice of Sita, or, The essence of the Ramayana
Alternate Title: Essence of the Ramayana
Physical Description: 90 p. : ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Thadani, N. V ( Nanikram Vasanmal ), 1890-1956
Publisher: Hindu College
Place of Publication: Delhi
Publication Date: 1943
Copyright Date: 1943
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: India
Statement of Responsibility: by N. V. Thadani.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00077051
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 37794458

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It is more than eight years ago that the last volume of my
work on the Mahabharata was published. I have studied the
Ramayana since, and find that, like the Mahabharata, it too
Sis an account of systems of Hindu Philosophy and Religion-
only in a different form. It deals with the Dvaita or the
dualistic school of Vishnu, while the Mahabharata is a story of
the Visishtadvaita or the qualified monistic school; and it is
V for this reason that Rama is said to be half, and Krishna a
whole, incarnation of God.
I have not published my explanation of the Ramayana,
as I have not yet hit upon the best form of presenting it. One
of the criticisms against the earlier work, not without force,
was that it was difficult to follow. I have therefore been
casting about to see if I could present the Ramayana in a form
more easy to understand. The little experiment I made
two years ago in Mira and Mahavir has led me to believe
that the dialogue-form may not prove unsuitable for the purpose;
and this little work is a further attempt in the same direction-
to explain in as simple and clear a language as I can the
essential idea of the Epic. It is intended to serve only as an
introduction to a fuller and more detailed explanation of the
whole, for which, however, I must ask the reader's patience
for a while. As the Upanishads are the foundation of all
Hindu thought, I intend to publish a study of some of them
before long. to be followed by an explanation of the Ramayana
as an account of the problem of the dualistic school of Vishnu
and the corresponding systems of Hindu Philosophy.
This little work assumes that the reader is familiar with the
main events of the story of the Ramayana and, to a certain
extent, of the Mahabharata too ; but this, in a country like
India is, I believe, not too much to expect. I think it un-
necessary to recount them here, as I propose to examine them
in detail in terms of the different systems of Philoscphy and
Religion before long.

Hindu College, Delhi. N. V. T.
August, 1943.


Time: Morning, 8 a. m.

Two years have passed since we saw Mahavir, and he has
grown both in body and mind. He is still sparely built, and there
is the same serious look in his eye. But a new softness gleams in
his face, and a smile sometimes plays on his lips. He has settled
down as a college lecturer, and set up a new home with a pretty
wife. Uma is tall and full of life, with bright, beaming eyes, and is
four years younger than he. His sister Mira is married too, and
is happy in her new home. Mahavir has his vacation now, and
is out on a walking tour in the Himalayas. Uma accompanies
him. They have walked for some time and, leaving the broad
pathway, have strayed into a pine forest. A cottage looms in the

MAHAVIR- This is wonderful. There is a breath of new life in
the fresh air that comes through the pines. We have walked
Since daybreak and wandered far into the forest ; and
yet I do not feel tired.

UMA-Nor do I. The moreiing was so beautiful. Did you
notice the sunrise as we climbed up the hill ?

MAHAVIn-Only a Kalidas could describe it. It was a dome of
rainbow-tinted clouds; and the colours, now mingling, now
melting, now apart-with the sky, air and hills rolling


into ever changing shapes in a wonder-vision of a thousand
hues. This too is wonderful. Look (pointing to the hills
before him).

UMA-Those pretty flowers-how small, yet how sweet. It
seems as if the white light of love in the bosom of the earth
had burst into rainbow hues, and each was a flame in the
heart of a flower,-yellow and purple and blue. (Stepping
aside) I almost fear to walk, lest I should tread on these
tiny, tender things.

MAHAVIe-Flowers are stars born of the joy of the earth.
Tread softly, for our hearts are lying here.

UMA-You could put it into rhyme for me.

MAHAVIR-(Taking her hand) And call it the wedding of Uma
on earth and Usha* in heaven Now you blush : and your
eyes smile even like the flowers and the sunbeams peering
through the saffron robes of the dawn.

UMA-You should be a poet by profession,-that is, a flatterer
in form.

MAHAVIR-I do not know about flattery. I am afraid I could
not flatter,-even you. But I have my dreams. I had one
last night. Did I tell you of the dream I had two years
ago, which changed the whole course of my life ?

UMA-Of Krishna, and how you came to believe in God ?

MAHAVIR-Yes: but I have never seen the like of it again. I
have tried to recall it, but in vain. The form, the figure,
*Usha means Dawn in Sanskrit.


the speech have vanished,-only the memory remains. I am
a changed man now, and believe in God. But not like Mira.
To her He is a person, a living being, even as he is to you,
though not to the same extent. I cannot have your faith.
I have read some of our sacred books; but the more I read,
the less I understand.

UMA-We need faith to sustain us. There is a limit to know-
ledge: it can only differentiate. But I too have my doubts.
I tried to read the Mahabharata, went through a few chapters,
and gave it up. Some of the things it contains are so
shocking. But I have not lost my faith.
MAHAVIR-Mira thinks it is an account of Philosophy in story-
form. How she got it, I do not know. I have read the Rama-
yana. It is not so shocking ; but I am inclined to think
more highly of Ravana than Rama. He is a great gentleman;
and how Rama is a deity and Ravana a monster, I simply
cannot understand.
UMA-Indeed !
MAHAVIR-Yes, and 1 could show it to you. But we have been
walking and talking, and you must be tired. We have
wandered far, and I do not know if there is any habitation
about. Look: that is a neat little cottage. Let us see if
we can get something to eat and drink. We have to move
on again.
They walk up to the cottage and, as they approach, they hear
some music. They pause and listen :
O Lord of Raghus, Raja Rama !
Saviour of sinners, Sita Rama !
After a little while the music stops, and a little girl comes
out to meet them.


LITTLE GIRL-Step in, this way. Our Father knows and bids
you welcome.

BOTH-This is strange !

LITTLE GIRL-Our Father knows. He is a great devotee of
Rama, and we call him Valmiki. He said to us this morning,
"There are two strangers coming to the Ashram today. They
seek, but do not find. One of them thinks and suffers ; the
other has faith, but knows not. Make them welcome." I
believe you are the two he spoke of. Step in this way. You
are very welcome.

Mahavir and Uma look at each other, and then follow the
Little Girl in silence.


A simple, unfurnished room inside a thatched cottage. The
sage Valmiki is seated cross-legged on a deer skin, with eyes closed
as in meditation; and three boys and three girls, of varying ages
from six to eleven years, are seated on his right and left. They are
O Lord of Raghus, Raja Rama !
Saviour of sinners, Sita Rama !

Valmiki opens his eyes and joins in the chorus in a deep
ringing tone. Then they stop.

VALMIKI-The hour approaches when the voice that is still will
speak again. Children, your lessons are done, and you may
retire. Only the youngest, Usha, might stay. The strangers
have arrived. Bid them welcome and bring them in.


The children disperse quietly. Usha goes out, and after a
little while leads in Mahavir and Uma, and awaits further orders.
The sage makes a sign and she retires with a quiet smile.

VALMIKI-Sit down, before me. (They sit down on his right and
left). You are very welcome. I was expecting you.

MAHAVIR-This is strange. We did not know that there was an
Ashram here, and came this way by the merest chance.

VALMIKI-Yes ; but there is nothing strange in this. You seek,
but do not find. You have read the Ramayana, and think
more highly of Ravana than Rana !
MAHAVIR-Yes, O holy one. I seek, but do not find ; and the
more I read the less I understand. Here is Uma, who is
shocked by the Mahabharata. I have read some of the hymns
of the Vedas, and cannot understand why they should be
regarded as divine. The Upanishads appear to be as difficult.
Hinduism itself is so extraordinary. It is the one religion
in the world that does not insist on belief in God for the
salvation of the soul. It has millions in its fold who do not
believe in him, and excludes many more who do. If you
can explain all this, there is nothing in the world I would
not give to learn. I have discussed these questions with
Pandits and men of learning, but no one seems to know so
simple a thing as what a Hindu is. Indeed, some of them
believe that Hinduism is a society, culture, civilization,-
anything but a religion; and that leaves me yet more
confused and distressed. Can you, 0 holy father, help me
to understand ?

VALMIKI-These have been mysteries for years, and there is
not a great religion in the world but has them. But now


the time has come for man to know. Knowledge has its
dangers, even as life; but ignorance is worse than death ; and
man must know to live. This mighty war that seems to envel-
ope the earth is but a symbol of the conflict of forces that
sway the world; and new forms of life are waiting to
emerge out of the ruin of the old. There is an innate
connection between the obvious and the occult, and I know
what you seek and desire. And I will tell you what I know.
But there are others too besides me. We have our Ashrams
here and call ourselves by the ancient names. There is
Visvamitra can explain the Vedas; Angirasa knows the
Upanishads; Vyasa can expound the mystery of the Maha.
bharata ; while I can tell you something of the secret of the

MAHAVIR-It is the Ramayana that puzzles me at present. I
had thought that Rama at least would come up to my
standard. I have read it and re-read it; but it has baffled
me. Rama is half an incarnation of Vishnu: What is an
incarnation, and why only a half ? Hov can a woman be
born out of a furrow, as Sita, his wife, is said to have been ?
Rama is held up as a paragon of virtue and filial obedience,
for he went into exile at the bidding of his step mother,
Kaikeyi. But his father never asked him to go-and he
left him to die Nay, he told him that Kaikeyi had prac-
tised deceit in the matter, and yet Rama would not desist,
and his father died of grief. Rama is said to have been
born to destroy the Rakshasas: and yet the same Rakshasas
are the descendants of the gods,-and their chief Ravana
is fourth or fifth in direct line from Brahma himself,- the
supreme creator of the universe. It seems it is enough to
call a man ten-headed to treat him like a monster. But


this Ravana is a strange character : he is well versed in the
Vedas; he has Brahmanas in his court who recite its hymns,
offer sacrifices, and pray for his success. He never ill-
treated a woman but once in his life, when he was young,
and vowed never to repeat the offence. As for Sita, he
carried her away indeed, but not without cause, and then
treated her with all due honour and begged her to be his
foremost queen. And what about Rama ? There is no
instance in the Epic of a Rakshasa or a monkey molesting
or disfiguring a woman; but Rama and Lakshmana have
done it more than once: in respect of Rakshasi women
indeed,-but you cannot call a woman a Rakshasi to insult
her. Was it a crime in Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana,
to love Rama or Lakshmana ? and what had she done to
deserve the slitting of her ears and nose at the hands of
these brothers ? What a contrast the treatment of Sita
by Ravana,- and yet he is a monster and a Rakshasa !
Rama slays the monkey chief Vali without warning or
cause, in order to secure the assistance of his brother
Sugriva. Was Ravana guilty of a similar enormity ? He
does not mind if his younger brother Vibhishana plays the
traitor and joins Rama and betrays the secrets of Lanka's
defences to the enemy. There is indeed a list of Ravana's
misdeeds at the end of the Epic, but it has nothing to do
with the story, and seems to have been an after thought,
meant to justify his end. Then lastly, the treatment
of Sita by Rama, his modest, gentle, loving wife and queen,
-not once, but twice. She proves her chastity by passing
through the ordeal of Fire, and lives with him for ten
thousand years ; and then, when she is bearing the twins,
comes the complaint of some non-descript people that,
once upon a time, she had been a captive of Ravana.


When I read of her abandonment in the forest by Lakshmana,
at the bidding of Rama, to find her way, alone and desolate,
to the hermitage of Valmiki, tears filled my eyes, and
I closed the book in sorrow and shame. The sorrow
and sacrifice of Sita yet haunts me, and I cannot
think of her without grief, and of Rama without shame.
Tell me, can this Rama be a hero or a demi-god ? and
can we read of him and honour him and worship him,
and yet retain our self respect ? I sometimes think that
many of the ills of the Hindus today are due to the
worship of false heroes and gods. I feel that there is
something wrong somewhere. If these books are really
sacred, as they claim to be, they must have a different
meaning, and we must understand it ; or, if their meaning
be as it is, we must outgrow them, abjure them, and seek
for truth elsewhere.

VALMIKI-This is indeed a terrible indictment. But the sacred
books have stood the test of time, and will yet survive.
You have your doubts and difficulties; but they will be
resolved. You have answered your own question yourself.
These books are sacred, as they claim to be, and they have
a meaning different from what is ordinarily understood.
But you will know and understand. They are not stories
in the vulgar sense of the term, but accounts of different
systems of Philosophy and Religion in story-form.

MAHAVI- Indeed My sister Mira says so too; but no one
seems to know what this may be.

VALMIKI-She has faith, and what she feels she thinks she
knows. You are different. But you too will understand.
Do you believe in God ?


MAHAVIR -There was a time when I did not believe in him.
But I do so now. There is an eternal law of universal
Goodness in the world, which operates individually as well
collectively, and that personified is God. There is also the
principle of Intelligence everywhere; and the two together,
functioning as self-restraint or Sacrifice, conduce to happi-
ness and joy through all misery and pain. That is what
I understand as God-conceived as Sat-chit-ananda ; and he
is born in each deed of Goodness or Sacrifice, however
great or small.

VALMIKI-That is the idea of an Incarnation of God-God
spoken of as Sa-guna or possessed of qualities, and presented
in a form man can understand. The human mind cannot
think without an object ; and so, in order to think of God,
it must present him as an object, clothe him in a form, and
conceive of him as a Person with attributes; and that is
called an Incarnation. And, as this Being must do some
good, deliberately, selflessly, and in a spirit of sacrifice, and
bring joy to the world, he saves life from destruction, and
so is called an Avatara or saviour, even as the word literally

MAHAVIR-So it is sacrifice that saves. I seem to remember
something from the Gita :

Fettered by action is the world,
Save when performed as sacrifice.

VALMIKI-Yes, that is the idea oT sacrifice-action that saves;
and an Avatara is a Man of Sacrifice, a saviour of life.

MAHAVIR-I am reminded of the Gita again :
Whenever, O thou of Bharata race,


There is decay of righteousness,
And spreads unrighteousness around.
Do I create myself again :
For the deliverance of the good,
And evil-doers to destroy,
And establishh righteousness again,
I am re-born from age to age.

Thus says Krishna in the Gita. You seem to say the

VALMTKI-All sacred books say the same thing : only the object
or point of view is changed. Krishna is said to be a complete
incarnation of Vishnu, the supreme Creator of the universe :
and so he should be a perfect embodiment of the idea of

MAHAVIR-It would be strange -but I think I have read some-
where in the Upanishads about Krishna and sacrifice. Of
course, it cannot have anything to do with the Krishna of
the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana.

VALMtKI-That is in the Chhandogya Upanishad Let me tell
you :

When Krishna, the son of Devaki,
Learnt from the sage Ghora Angirasa
The ancient truth of Sacrifice,
He never sought for knowledge more,
SSaying, 'Behold the law of Life !
Take refuge in the Truth, and see
The ever present Light within-
The oldest Seed of all the world,


The highest Light of all the lights,-
Above all darkness, like the Sun-
The highest Light within the heart.
The source of light among the gods,-
The highest Light,-the holiest Light.'

And it is the same Krishna, the son of Devaki, who
figures in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana.

MAnAVIR-That is extraordinary. Are not the Upanishads
earlier than these books ? How could the same man live
in periods said to be ages apart ?

VALMIKI-Krishna is not a man like you or me. He is the
highest Person-an embodiment of the most perfect idea of
Sacrifice, who, even as you said, is born from age to age,
to establish righteousness, happiness and truth

MANAVIR-Now I remember. The name of Krishna occurs in
the Ramayana too, though this Epic is said to have been
composed long before the Mahabharata. And so the same
Person appears and reappears in different sacred books be-
cause he represents the same idea throughout ?

VALMIKI-Yes, That is why you find different gods and
sages,-Brahma, Mahadeva and Vishnu,-Varuna, Agni and
Indra-Visvamitra, Vasishtha and Narada-figuring again
and again in all the sacred books of the Hindus.

MAHAVIR-That is interesting ; but I feel so confused-almost
baffled. Why do we have so many gods, when only one
would suffice,-call him Vishnu, Krishna or Sat-chit-ananda,
as you will ?


VALMIKI-You said that there was a time when you did not
believe in God, and then something happened, and you
came to believe in him. Tell me what was this.

MAHAVIR-It were a long story to tell. I used to believe in
Nature as the sole supreme creator of the universe. Then
I realized that all human action had something positive for
its end,-some pleasure or profit, some satisfaction or
good as we might call it, and was intended to avoid its
opposite, evil or dissatisfaction, loss or pain; and that the
latter was due to the Law of Change, which governs all
Nature. Hence there was a conflict between the object of
a man's action and the character of Nature itself, and the
two could not be reconciled if Nature was the sole supreme
creator of all life. If it was of the essence of man always to
seek for his own happiness or good, and if that end was as
constantly frustrated by Nature, Nature could not have
created man or at least that purpose in his heart. Hence
it was necessary for him to go beyond Nature to seek for
the fulfilment of his end or goal ; and that idealised was to
me God in his unmanifest form. Then I realized that
unhappiness was due not merely to the Law of Change in
Nature but also to the selfishness of man, and that selfless
action made for freedom and joy ; and that Nature, being
universal, could itself be regarded as selfless, if we could
think of it as intelligent too. And then it dawned on me
that if we could believe Nature to be the creator of so intelli-
gent a being as man, and if its great forces operated in
accordance with great universal laws, it could not but be
regarded as intelligent itself. In this way I understood the
idea of Sacrifice as good, selfless and intelligent action, and
saw how a man, performing such action in a world of sorrow


and change, could still be happy and free ; and this ideal-
ised gave me the idea of God in his manifest form-a
Being all whose actions are an unending Sacrifice. I recog-
nised, however, that it was possible to conceive of different
degrees of Sacrifice, and that might give us different ideas
of God. In any case, I think we understand the essential
idea of God when Nature itself comes to be conceived in
terms of Sacrifice.

VALMIKI-Yes, it were a long story to tell. We must begin with
Nature, and then, by slow and gradual stages of thought,
transform it into God by means of the idea of Sacrifice ; and
it is this Sacrifice of Sita that constitutes the essence of the
Ramayana. You spoke of the great forms and forces of
Nature : it is they and the different degrees of their associa-
tion with the idea of Sacrifice that are personified as the
gods of the Hindus, of whom you read in the sacred books.
Will you call them too many now ?

MAHAVIR-I am confused. I wish I could believe it. It seems
almost too good to be true. Can yon prove all that you
say ?

VALMIKI-Have patience. The sacred books are ancient works
and there is an ancient method of interpreting them-lost
through the long lapse of years. It is the key that can
unlock their secret. We who dwell here, believe that we
have discovered it, and have worked out the principal texts
in its light ; and you too will understand if you have the
patience to learn. You know the elements of Sanskrit,
don't you ?

MAHAVIR-Yes, a little.


VALMIKI-You will understand, Sanskrit is the language of
these books, and it is the one language in the world uncon-
nected with any country, people or race. It is a universal
language, perfected and purified, even as its name signifies-
the language of science, philosophy, and religion,-of life
itself. Each letter, each syllable in this language, as it is
used in the ancient books, has its own meaning and signi-
ficance ; and it is in this light that the names of gods and
men and the idea of their actions have to be understood.
The gods of the Vedas personify the great forces of Nature
in terms of creative energy or Sacrifice ; and what is describ-
ed in the Vedas is explained in the Upanishads. The Upa-
nishads give rise to the different systems of Philosophy;
and these have been arranged to form the different systems
of Religion ; while the Epics of Ramayana and the Maha-
bharata as well as the Puranas deal with all these in

MAHAVIR-This would indeed be a fascinating theory or inven-
tion. But can it be proved in a way to carry conviction ?

VALMIKI-A theory is a way of looking at a problem, pheno-
menon, or a series of facts, which need to be solved or ex-
plained; and it seeks to explain them on the basis of a
general principle, formula or an ideal conception ; and then
many facts, apparently unconnected, are seen to be closely
allied. You have stated the problem of Hinduism and its
sacred books. You are confused ; you are baffled ; you
find conflict of principles, inconsistencies of conduct, incon-
gruities of thought. One denies the existence of Nature,
another of God, while a third affirms both. Brahma, the
chief of the Hindu triad or Trimurty, survives but in his


name; Buddha, an incarnation of Vishnu, is hardly a believer
in God, and his religion has disappeared from the land of
its birth ; atheism and agnosticism may be included in
Hinduism, but not necessarily belief in God ; a young
woman is shocked by the doings of sages and holy men, and
a young man may hold up the actions of gods to derision
and scorn. And yet all these books are spoken of as sacred,
and a great deal of what they say appears to bear the stamp
of truth and has surprised many a man of learning. But
no one is able to explain how all this may be. Now, if you
can assume certain fundamental principles of life ; explain,
on the basis of ancient authority, the meaning of the actions
of men and gods through the letters and syllables compos-
ing the text ; and find, in the light of this, consistency in
place of contradiction, philosophy in place of falsehood, and
truth in place of trickery, throughout-would you regard
such a theory as fanciful or a mere invention of a fertile
brain ?
MAHAVIR-If your theory is based on fundamental principles
of life ; if it can be shown to be consistent throughout the
whole range of the sacred books ; and if, in the domain of
philosophy and religion, it can explain what has never before
been understood, and reconcile inconsistencies and incongrui-
ties of thought and action, it will cease to be a theory-
it will become a fact, a self-evident truth. But can this
be done ? and so far as the Epics are concerned, can you
explain them both as stories and accounts of philosophy
running side by side ?
VALMIKI Woven into the fabric of life, like warp and woof !
MAHAVIR- There is nothing in the world I would not give to
"'now this. But you will pardon me. If only I could have


a foretaste of what is to follow; if only you could explain,
in the broadest outline, what puzzles me in the Ramayana;
I could wait for a fuller explanation till it pleases you to
tell me more.
VALMIKI- That is a fair demand. You believed in Nature once
as the sole supreme creator of the universe, and then slowly
passed into belief in God. Let us begin with Nature then ;
or, what perhaps will be simpler still, with Man as the
most wonderful creation of Nature. And if man may be
said to have been created by Nature, you will agree that
all the forces that go make him must already exist in
Nature in one form or another.
MAHAVIR-I think so. But it is so difficult to say what man is.
VALMIKI-Let us try. You know that he has his senses of
knowledge and action; a mind that thinks; reason to under-
stand, form judgments and distinguish between right and
wrong; and yet something more, which is sometimes spoken
of as consciousness or soul.
MAHAVIR---I have read something about this. There are five
senses of knowledge and five of action ; the ears, skin,
eyes, tongue, and the nose are the senses of knowledge;
while the legs, arms, tongue, the organ of creation and
the organ of excretion are the five senses of action. Each of
these is said to have a special attribute of its own. The
ear is sensitive to sound, skin to touch, eye to light or form,
tongue to taste, and the nose to smell. Similarly the legs
are for motion, arms for action, the tongue for speech, and
the urinary and excretory organs have their special functions
too. I know something about the mind and the faculty of
reason ; but I do not know the exact difference between


VALMIKI-I will tell you. All knowledge has a twofold as-
pect-with reference to the knower and the object to be
known. When a man comes into contact with an object in
the physical world and desires to know what it is, he must
inquire about it. Even where the question refers to an idea
or an abstraction, it must have a bearing on the physical
world. And then, as he pursues his quest, there comes an
answer to his inquiry, partial and incomplete perhaps at first,
and then, slowly and gradually, through a series of questions
and answers, he comes to a conclusion about it. This is what
is called knowledge. Thus there are two stages in this process:
a question and an answer, continued till there is nothing
further to ask. That faculty in man which desires for and
asks questions about an object is said to be the Mind;
while that which answers or understands is said to be
Buddhi or Intelligence, Reason or Understanding.

MAHAVIR-This seems simple enough. But are not the two
closely allied ?

VALMIKI- Yes; but it is possible to distinguish between them.
The Mind desires, thinks, asks a question or raises a doubt;
while Buddhi or Intelligence answers the question, resolves
the doubt, and makes for certainty and satisfaction.

MA HAVIR-I follow. But what about Consciousness or Soul?
Is it the same thing as Buddhi or Mind ?

VALMIKI-That is a little more difficult to explain; but you
will understand. I think you will agree that there is
something within us which seems to be specially connected
with the Heart on the one hand and breath on the
other. When the heart stops, a man dies; and he expires
when he ceases to breathe. This breath is not merely air,


for then an air pump would be enough to keep a man
alive. It is air plus something ; and that Something is called
by different names-higher Consciousness or Soul. It per-
vades the whole body of man, through breath or circulation
of the blood ; but it is specially connected with the heart,
so that when its link with the heart is broken, the heart stops,
the breath goes out, and the man dies. The Soul may be
said to be seated in the living breath, and, through it, it acts
on the whole body. When it is associated with the senses,
they perform their respective functions; when it is associ-
ated with the Mind, it desires, thinks or asks a question;
and when it is associated with Buddhi, it resolves the
doubts of the Mind, and makes for certainty and peace.

MAHAVIR-Am I to understand that the places of Buddhi, Mind,
and the senses are fixed, while it is the Soul, seated in the
vital breath, that ranges through all and makes them act ?

VALMIKI-Yes. The senses of knowledge and action have their
fixed places in the body, as you know. Even so have
Buddhi and Mind. The brain is divided into two parts, the
upper and the lower one; the former is the seat of Buddhi,
the latter of the Mind. And through the whole body of
man, from the crown of the head to the toes of the feet,
ranges that subtle being-call it higher Consciousness or Soul,
or by whatever name you will-and makes them perform their
different functions. But it is specially connected with the
Heart, which alone feels pleasure or pain. It rises from the
heart to the head, and comes down to the senses, and then
a man is awake and acts. But when he is tired and
needs rest, it passes out of the senses into the Mind and then
he dreams; and when it passes into Buddhi, he sleeps


soundly; and when it goes back into the heart, he has
perfect rest, unbroken by anything. This is the course of
wakefulness and sleep. But when it departs from the
body, with the departure of the vital breath, the heart stops
and the man dies, and all the organs of the body, though
intact, cease to function too.

MAHAVIR-This is very interesting. The brain is said to be
divided into parts, and there are men of science today who
regard it as the centre of consciousness and will and the
functions of the different organs of the body. Psychologists
too speak of sensations and perceptions, thought with its
twofold character, speech and image, of judgments, and
feelings of pleasure and pain. But all this is so modern.
Is what you say contained in the ancient books ?

VALMIKI-All this is ancient knowledge, contained in the ancient

MAHAVIR-What you say about dreams is equally interesting.
But I am not sure if I can accept all that you say. But
what has this to do with my question about the character
of Hinduism and its sacred books, specially the Ramayana ?

VALMIKI-If the sacred books are an account of Philosophy in
story form, we must understand the basic truths of this
philosophy, this science of life,-of Nature and man ; and
it is a simple plan to begin with man. Now let us pass on
to Nature and assume that it creates man and all that is
in him. This means that all the forces of life in man,
including higher Consciousness or Soul, must already exist in
Nature in one form or another.
MAHAvIR-I think it follows.


VALMKI-The ancients held that Nature is a vast and wonder-
ful collection of energy or force, and is unmanifest in its
ultimate form. When it becomes manifest, its first form is
Mahat or Buddhi, and its great physical form in our world is
the Sun. Out of this arises the universal Mind, whose cor-
responding form is the Moon. This, in its turn, gives rise
to five great elemental forces-Ether Air, Fire, Water and
Earth--each with a special attribute of its own-sound or
motion, touch, sight or form, taste and smell respectively.
At the same time arise out of the elements the five senses
of knowledge and five of action, as you have heard. All
these have their place in the constitution of man. All are
agreed on this ; but some, like you, had their doubts
about the character of Consciousness or Soul. But if Nature
be the sole supreme creator of the universe, the individual
Soul, or by whatever name you call it, must be a creation
of Nature too. Those who hold this view believe that
there is no Soul, but only an Ego or Ahankara-an entity
that acts within each individual. They maintain that
after Mahat or Buddhi arises out of Nature, the in-
dividual Ego or Ahankara arises out of Buddhi, before
the Mind comes into existence. Accordingly it is said to
have an intermediate place between Buddhi or Intelligence
and the Mind ; and it is this that is characterized by lower
consciousness or the incessant action and interaction of
Buddhi and Mind, or question and answer, doubt and cer-
tainty, in connection with the objects of life. And so it is
said to act in conjunction with the different organs and
energies of the human frame.
MAHAvIR-This is fascinating. Does it mean that we can
eliminate the Soul in this way ? What is this system that
conceived of this ingenious plan ?


VALMIKI-It is the Sankhya system, the lowest at the rung of
Hindu thought.

MAHAVIR-What is wrong with this system ? It seems so
simple. If the problem of the Soul causes so much con-
fusion, why not eliminate it and put Ahankara or Egoism
in its place ?

VALMIKI-Philosophy has to face, not fly away from difficulties
of thought. Let us see. If you accept Nature as the
sole supreme creator of the universe, what follows ?

MAHAvIR--Death !-for Nature is characterized by the Law of
Change, which makes for sorrow, disease, and death. All
human actions are intended to secure satisfaction, happi-
ness or good,-individual or collective ; but the action of
Nature, through its great forces and Time, seems to
frustrate this, bringing about the end of everything in
death. To be happy, therefore, man must refrain from all
action, that is, cease to exist.

VALMIKI-But man does not wish to die; he wishes to live.

MAHAVR-Yes ; and so he cannot agree that Nature is the
sole supreme creator of the universe. As he wishes to live
and be happy, he is forced to believe in a Being who lives
beyond Nature and is happy ; and that is the goal
of man-a world of life in God beyond the bounds of

VALMIKI-But if there is an entity in man which, for its own
fulfilment, seeks a place outside Nature, it follows that it
could not have been created by Nature-for Nature
cannot create anything outside its forces and forms.


Hence the necessity of the idea of the Soul, as something
different from and independent of Nature, corresponding
to the idea of God ; and the Sankhya itself is compelled to
admit the necessity of the existence of purusha or the in-
dividual being, who seeks to be free from the trammels of
Nature or Prakriti.

MAHAVIR-This is fascinating. What happens then to Egoism
or Ahankara ?

VALMIKI-It has its proper place in the make up of man,-
between Buddhi and Mind; and so when the individual
Soul functions in connection with both Buddhi and Mind,-
that is, when a man desires and thinks, and there arise
within him a series of questions and answers in regard to
an object, and certain knowledge or satisfaction has not
been gained-this state may be said to be that of Ego or
Ahankara. Since all processes of thought and action
may be resolved into a series of questions and answers, and
it is this that constitutes the basis of lower consciousness,
all functions of the mind and the faculty of reason in connec-
tion with the different forms of thought and action may
be referred to Ego or Ahankara. Thus it is conceived
as the chief actor in the world,-as the I-in-action, as
the word literally signifies.

MAHAVIR-You have an extraordinary way of explaining
things. What then is the relation of this Ahankara to the

VALMIKI-When the Soul realises its true character as some-
thing different from all objects of Nature, and all forms and
forces created by it-Buddhi, Ahankara, Mind, and the senses


-it attains higher Consciousness and becomes free from the
bondage of Nature ; and all its actions become a Sacrifice;
and, living and acting in a world of change, it is unaffected
by sorrow and grief. This is what is meant by the "destruc-
tion" of Egoism or Ahankara, of which you read in Hindu
philosophy; and this is rendered in the Mahabharata as the
slaughter of Abhimanyu "; for Abhimanyu means literally
Abhimana, Egoism or Ahankara. Arjuna in the Epic is
the human Soul, seeking to realise and perfect itself; and,
as Abhimana or Egoism is an aspect of the Soul, even so is
Abhimanyu the son of Arjuna, and he has to be slain."

MAHAVIR-This baffles me. Is this the idea of Abhimanyu, his
father and mother and all those who are connected with
him throughout in the Mahabharata ? And can you explain
this as well ?

VALMIKI-Even so. I know the explanation, but you must go
to my brother Vyasa for a detailed account of the whole.
Now you understand the necessity of the idea of the Soul as
distinct from Egoism or Ahankara ?

MAHAVIB-I think I do. But I am so confused. May I ask
what is the idea of the Chakra Vyuha or Circular Array,
into which Abhimanyu could enter, but out of which he
did not know how to escape ? His enemies surrounded
him, and it was then that he was slain.

VALMIKI-The word Chakra in Sanskrit is derived from the root
kri ", which means to act "; and so Chakra Vyuha "
really means the array of action ". The same root occurs
in the word Ahankara, which means literally, "I-in-action"
-and that is the exact idea of Abhimana, Egoism or


Ahankara. Thus, when the individual Soul engages in
action, other than as a Sacrifice, it is called Ahankara ;
and it can enter this array of action or Chakra Vyuha,
but cannot get out of it;-for all actions, other than
Sacrifice, are fetters that bind, as the Gita says. Thus,
so long as Abhimanyu retains his character as Abhimana or
Egoism, he can enter but not get out of the Chakra
Vyuha, or the array of action."

MAHAVIR-This is amazing. Is this the idea of the word Chakra
elsewhere in the epic too ? Krishna is said to hold the
Sudarsana Chakra: what may this mean ?

VALMIKI-The word Sudarsana in Sanskrit means beautiful
and good", and Chakra means action ", as I have explain-
ed. Krishna is the most perfect incarnation or embodiment
of the idea of God, and that arises out of Sacrifice or good
actions. All the actions of Krishna must, therefore, be
beautiful and good ; and that is signified by his Sudarsana
Chakra. And it is said that whenever he discharged it, it
always came back to him ; -for all acts of goodness return
to the doer in increased goodness again : that is the law
of life.

MAHAVIR---This is wonderful. Pray go on. I wish to know

VALMIKI-Now you understand the various energies and organs
that go to make up man; and all, except the Soul, are to be
found in the different forms and forces of Nature or Prakriti,
The Soul is different, and has its archetype in God. Now it is
the different energies and organs and the forms and forces of
Nature, together with the different stages in the conception of


a perfect Soul, that are personified as the Gods of the
Vedas; and the different ways in which they act,-now
together, now apart, now in concert, now in conflict-
are described in the hymns addressed to them. This is the
ancient knowledge of Life,-the Vidya of old, that is
Veda; and as this knowledge is eternal, so are the Vedas
said to be.

MAHAVIR-This is amazing. Can you prove this too ?

VALMIKI-You must go to Visvamitra for a detailed explanation
of the Vedas. For the present you should be satisfied that if
a particular god of the Vedas is associated with a particular
idea, he should represent the same throughout the range of the
sacred books; and they should explain and amplify the actions
attributed to him. For instance, there are the two Asvins:
they are said to be twins, and described as Horses. Now
the Horse is explained in the Upanishads as referring to
the senses" in man ; and there are two kinds of senses,-
of knowledge and of action--said to have been created
simultaneously, that is, as twins. Thus, whenever we get
the Asvins in the sacred books, they should refer to these
twin senses of knowledge and action; and, indeed, as it
is the senses that are said to have been created as twins",
wherever we get the twins they should refer to these
senses of knowledge and action. This should be the idea of
the twins Lakshmana and Satrughna, the sons of Dasaratha,
as well as of Kusa and Lava, the sons of Rama, in the
Ramayana; and also of Nakula and Sahadeva in the Maha-
bharata. The idea may be varied in detail according to
the circumstances of each case, but the essential meaning
must be the same.


MAHAVIB- I am almost overwhelmed, and do not know what
to say. If the same is true of all the gods and other
characters throughout, I do not see how we can reject this
explanation. But did you not say that the meaning of the
names is given in the names themselves? In that case
they should be self-explanatory.
VALMIKI-Yes; but if the names and actions support each
other, the whole thing would be irrefutable.

MAHAVIR-You have a high standard and a difficult task.
Can you give me some more instances of this kind ?

VALMIKI- Indra is another great god of the Vedas, and many
are the hymns addressed to him. The word Indra is con-
nected with another Sanskrit word, Indriya, which means
"the senses ". Now in the Upanishads the word Prana
signifies not only the senses, but also the Mind, Buddhi,
and the individual Soul; for it is the Soul, seated in the
vital breath-which is another meaning of Prana-that
functions through all these. Again, Indra is explained
in the Upanishads as identified with Prajnatman or the
self-conscious Soul, attaining to perfection when he realises
his character as such. The god Indra refers, therefore, to
the individual Soul, which functions in connection with
the various organs and energies of man, and slowly realises
its true character as Soifl. This should be the character
of Indra in all sacred books. Now Arjuna in the Maha-
bharata is said to be the son of Indra; and so he too must
refer to the same thing-for father and son are often
identified in the sacred books; that is, he represents the
individual Soul, rising from its association with the senses to
the Mind, Buddhi, and finally to its own character as Soul.


MAHAVIR-I am almost dazed. But pray go on. I should
like to know something about the Ramayan now.

VALmKI- Let us go on. You said that you had been con-
verted to belief in God some time ago. But the whole idea
of God is not easy to comprehend.

MAHAVIR-Yes, indeed; and that is why I am still groping for

VALMIKI-Have patience. There are many stages of thought
from belief in Nature to belief in God as the sole supreme
creator of the universe. We think of him at first in his
unmanifest form, as living beyond the world of Nature;
and then in his manifest form, as living in this world, and
acting as in Sacrifice. But Sacrifice may be partial or
complete; and, as at each stage man gets a fuller idea
of Sacrifice, his idea of God becomes more comprehensive,
too; till, with a perfect idea of Sacrifice, he understands the
most perfect idea of God as the sole supreme creator of
the universe, as Sat-chit-ananda- God as eternal and good,
intelligent, and happy.

MAHAVIR-I follow.

VALMIRI-Now there are three principal ways.of looking at the
problem of ultimates. We may hold that Nature alone
is the creator of life ; or that it is God alone who creates;
or that the two together create the universe.

MAAiAvm-This is simple logic, I believe.

VALMIKI-You see that a person may believe that Nature is the
creator of the universe ; but he need not deny the existence
of God. So long as it is agreed that it is Nature that is


supreme, he may be satisfied. There may, thus, be three
ways of looking at the problem in this case: one, that
Nature is the sole supreme creator of the universe ; two,
that if God exists, he is either a mere spectator of the work
of Nature, or, if he creates, he has done so for the first
and last time, and has nothing more to do, and Nature
goes on in accordance with its own laws; and three, that
even if he acts more frequently, his actions are of a com-
paratively minor character and subordinate to those of
Nature or Prakriti.

MAHAVIR-This seems logical too.

VALMIKI-NOW when a person believes in Nature as the sole
creator of life, and finds that there is no escape from its
law of action or change, and its consequent misery, pain
and death, he is forced to the conclusion that, in order
to be happy, he must desist from all action, which is born of
Nature-that is, cease to be. In other words, there is no
room for any action or Sacrifice in this belief.

MAHAVIR-Yes. I understood this when I came to believe in
God. He who believes in Nature, believes in death; and
he who wishes to live, must believe in God.

VALMIXI-Yes. When a person holds that God is more or
less a spectator of the work of Nature, his belief in action
or Sacrifice is correspondingly limited too. In other words,
he believes that life is a necessary evil ; that we have to
perform actions, even those as a Sacrifice, in order to exist;
but that is not our goal, and we must renounce them as
soon as we can in order to achieve happiness. Even if he


holds that God acts in a small way, he would only admit that
we should perform necessary actions or acts of Sacrifice more
willingly; but his goal would still be the same-that is,
renunciation as soon as may be. Thus, we believe in
renunciation of action in proportion to our belief in
Nature as the creator of the universe ; and in Sacrifice in
proportion to our belief in God.

MAHAVIR-Yes, I agree.

VALMIKI-This is the ancient system of thought associated
with the name of Brahma. Its three points of view have
been classified into two divisions, which, in later times,
have come to be called by the names of Jainism and
Buddhism. The first is sub-divided into two parts,-the
Digambara and the Svetambara-the one holding that
Nature is the sole supreme creator of life, and the other
that, if God exists, he is a mere spectator of Nature's

MAHAVIR-I thought that the difference between them was
that the one holds that we should not wear any clothes,
and the other that we should.

VALMIKI-Yes ; but the idea is more comprehensive. In order
to live, the most' necessary things are food, shelter and
clothes, and we must act to provide them. If a person
does not believe in action or in God, he must refrain from
food, shelter as well as clothes; and this is the immediate
objective of the Digambara school. The Svetambara
believes in God and Sacrifice in a small way, and so
believes that we should have necessary food, shelter and
clothes so long as we live. But this is all theoretical.


The realities of life have taught the advocates of the
Digambara that no one can live without food, or even
shelter of some sort; but it seems possible to dispense
with much clothing in a country like India. Hence the
distinction between the two in respect of wearing clothes;
and it is this that is represented in the sacred books when
Draupadi is unrobed or Krishna takes away the clothes of
the Gopis.

UMA-This is extraordinary. I should like to know this.

V.AL.MI-Have patience. Let me go on now to Buddhism.
It too has its two divisions-the Hinayana and the Maha-
yana-the former almost identical with the Svetambara
school of Jainism, and the latter holding that God is a
minor, and Nature the major, creator of the universe.
Thus we have all the three points of view of the school
of Brahma analysed more simply and clearly in this

MAUHAvi-Can all this be proved from the sacred books them-
selves ?

VAL-MIK-Yes. You get this idea of Brahma in the Puranas;
while the idea of Buddhism and Jainism can be understood
from the sacred books dealing with these systems. You
will find that Brahma is the deity of both.

MAIHAVm-Is that the reason why, with the disappearance
of Buddha, the name of Brahma too has all but dis-



MAHAVIm-But why was Buddhism driven out of India ? and
why has Jainism, with its denial, and doubt in the very
existence, of God, been allowed to survive ?

VALMI-I-Buddhism was absorbed in the other systems, as you
will presently see, and not driven out, as you have been
told. That will also explain why Jainism cannot be absorbed,
and must remain a separate system.

MAHAvE--I am impatient to know more. May I now ask
what is the idea of Ravana as a descendant of Brahma ?

VALMTKI-That means that he represents the system of Brahma,
that is, belief in Nature as the chief creator of life, giving.
but a small and limited place to Sacrifice and God. But
let us proceed, and you will understand more presently.
We have dealt with the system of thought with Nature as
the chief creator of life. If now we believe that Nature and
God together create the universe, we shall again have three
points of view: one, that the share of Nature is greater
than that of God; two, that both of them are equal; and
three, that the share of God is greater than that of Nature.
This is the range of thought associated with the name of
Siva or Mahadeva.

MAHAVIm-This seems logical too. Is this also borne out by
the sacred books ?

VALMII-Yes ; and you will find the different schools of this
system still in existence in the country.

MARAVIR-What is the connection between the system of
Brahma and that of Mahadeva ?


VALMIKI-You will see that the first aspect of the system of
Mahadeva, namely, that the share of Nature is greater than
that of God, coincides with the last of the system of
Brahma, and is identical with the Mahayana school of
Buddhism ; and that is the connection between them.
This means that when you attain to the last stage of the
school of Brahma, you pass" on to that of Mahadeva ; and
so the one serves as a stepping stone to the other. Now
you will understand how the two schools of Buddhism were
absorbed-the Hinayana in the Svetambara school of
Jainism, with which it coincides, and the Mahayana in the
corresponding school of Mahadeva.

MAHAvIR-This is strange. We have been taught to believe
that Buddhism was driven out of India, and is now to
be found only beyond the mountains and the seas.

VALMIKI-You will still find many of its principles and prac-
tices in some forms of Saivism and the Svetambara school
of Jainism.

MAHAVIR-You will pardon me for asking so many questions.
But, if Buddhism has been absorbed, as you say, and not
driven out, why has Jainism been allowed to remain,
even though it does not countenance belief in a God who
creates ?

VALMIKI-All knowledge is from the known to the unknown;
and so you must rise from belief in Nature to belief in
God. And so Jainism, with its denial and doubt, is the
foundation of all belief in God, and must remain as a
separate system,-not as an end in itself, but as a stepping
stone to others. It is for this reason that we have


the Saiva and Vaishnava forms of Jainism still in existence
to this day.

MAHAVIR-If Hinduism is such a wonderful system of thought
and life, why does it exclude Christianity and Islam, which
believe in God almost as much as Vedanta, the culmination
of all that is in our religion ?

VALMIKI-Unless, in your quest of Truth, you begin from the
bottom of the scale, with denial and doubt, and ascend, by
slow degrees of thought, from an apprehension of the
great forces of Nature to Sacrifice and belief in God-you
cannot have an intelligent or scientific idea of God or
religion. Christianity and Islam do not fit into this scheme.
They rely on faith more than reason for their belief.
Christianity, in its idea of the Trinity of the Father, Son,
and the Holy Ghost, as well as Immaculate Conception and
Virgin Motherhood, has indeed a philosophy and symbolism
of its own, akin to that of Hinduism ; but its significance
has been forgotten and lost, Islam is the simplest and,
therefore, the most difficult religion in the world, for it has
tried to escape all problems of thought in its system.
Christianity and Islam are like the flower and fruit,
without the roots and foliage of thought. Hinduism con-
sists of both, and that is the difference between them. If
you deny God, and ask Christianity or Islam to say why
we should believe in him, they are silent and cannot
answer: Hinduism can.

MAHAVIR-I understand. It is this that taught me to rise from
Nature to God. How different is all that you say from
what we have learnt!


VALMIKI-YOu will have to unlearn a few more things. Now
let us consider the problem in the light of God as the chief
creator of life. Here again there are three points of
view: one, that the share of God is more than that
of Nature; two, that Nature exists, but as a spectator
of the work of God; and three, that Nature is not a
separate entity but a creation of God himself. This is the
threefold range of the system of Vishnu, called Dvaita,
Visishtadvaita and Advaita, or dualism, qualified monism,
and pure monism of God.

MAHAVIR-This appears to be the very opposite of the system
of Brahma.


MAnAVIR-And yet Brahma, Mahadeva, and Vishnu are said
to constitute the great Trinity, or three forms of one
God. How can that be if one of them excludes the other ?
All this is so strange.

VALMIKI-Things which appear to be strange are often seen to
be strangely consistent You have understood the con-
nection between the systems of Brahma and Mahadeva.
Now understand that between the systems of Mahadeva and
Vishnu. You will find that the third aspect of the system
of Mahadeva, namely, that the share of God is greater than
that of Nature, is identical with the first of Vishnu; and so
when you attain to the last stage of the one, you pass on to
the other.

MAHAVIR-I am beginning to perceive the connection between
the systems of Brahma and Vishnu now.


VALMIKI- Yes, you will understand. Although the system of
Brahma appears to exclude that of Vishnu, it is a stepping
stone to that of Mahadeva, and the latter to that of
Vishnu ; and so they are all but different stages of thought
in understanding the ultimate Reality. That is the idea
of Trimurty or three forms of one God. All knowledge is
from the known to the unknown. We must begin with
the world of the manifest, that is, Nature, and then
slowly rise to the unknown or God ; and so it is the
system of Brahma at the base that makes it pos ible for us
to understand the idea of Mahadeva or Vishnu.

MAHAVIR-I think I understand. I had not thought of this

VALMIKI-Yes; but it is possible for those who do not under-
stand the idea of the whole, to regard the system of
Brahma as opposed to that of Vishnu.

MAHAVrm-I am puzzled: yet a light dawns on me. Is that the
cause of the conflict between Ravana and Rama,-the
one a descendant of Brahma, and the other an incarnation
of Vishnu ?

VALMIKI-Yes. You have guessed rightly. Now you will

MAHAVIR-Pray proceed. 1 wish to know more. But did
you not say that there was a connection between the
systems of Philosophy and Religion too.

VALMIKI-Yes. I shall explain only the basic idea. For
details you must go to Angirasa, who will teach you the
Upanishads too.


MAiHAVI-I am all attention.

VAMInKI-We began our systems of Philosophy with man; let
us go back to him again. He has his Soul, Buddhi or
Intelligence, Mind, and the twin-born senses of know-
ledge and action. Then, in order to live, he must have
food to eat.

MAuHvIR-The Gita says so too: all creatures live by

VAL MKi-Yes. But Food in its comprehensive sense is as
wide as Nature itself; for all the great forces of Nature
come into play in the creation of each little grain of
corn. It is they that make food; and then it is transformed
into blood, and builds up the tissues, bones and brain, and
gives rise to the vital energy of man which is the physical
basis of his creative power. Now you will understand how
the system of Philosophy based on the idea of Nature as
the sole creator of life, is identical with that based on
Food ; and that is the Sankhya system.

MAHAVI--I understand. The whole thing is so fascinating.

VALMIKI-You have understood how, if we believe in this
system, we must reject all life as an evil, and put an
end to it as soon as we can; but if we wish to live, we
must believe in Sacrifice, which constitutes the basis of the
idea of God ?


VALAI-X-That enables us to pass on to the next system of
Philosophy, Nyaya. Nyaya means literally a law; and


it gives us a very simple idea, of God, as a Being who
exists indeed-for to deny him would be to deny life itself
-but in accordance with a law ; and he is but a spectator
of Nature, who creates in accordance with its own law ; or,
if God has a share in creation, it is very small indeed ; and
having created once, he has little more to do, and Nature
goes on in its own way.

MAHAVIR-This is an extraordinary conception of God.

VALMIRI-Yes; but it is only by slow degrees that we can
attain to a full conception of the deity ; and this, after
denying him altogether, is a great step forward.

MAHAVI--I understand.

VALMII--Now let us go down to man again. We have dealt
with his connection with food and its relation to the cor-
responding system of Philosophy, the Sankhya. We find
that at the bottom of his organs and energies are the
senses; and so in the corresponding system, Nyaya, we try
and understand the whole problem of life in the light of
what the senses can perceive. This would give us a
strictly limited view; but, within its limits, it would be
comprehensive. The senses can understand their own
character and that of food, but not what is above or beyond
them; and to them all such organs or faculties would
appear only as senses. The Mind would seem to be a
sense; so too Buddhi or intelligence'; and even so the Soul.

MAnAmI-Does this system regard the Mind, Buddhi and the
Soul as senses ? Surely they are different.

VALMIKI-You must understand the point of view it takes.
As in the Sankhya we regard the whole in the light of


Nature or the creative energy of food, even so in Nyaya
we regard the whole in the light of the senses, and all
things appear to conform to this pattern. Then we realise
our error, and pass on to the next system of Philosophy.

MAHAVIR-What is the error in this system ?

VALMIKI-As in the Sankhya we realise that there is something
within us call it Spirit or Soul-that is not born of Nature,
even so we now recognize that the Soul is not a sense of
knowledge or action, even though it may function in
connection with them. Nor can we accept the idea of
God as a mere spectator of the work of Nature, or limit
the range of Sacrifice or necessary action, as we must in
this system. We find that its goal of life is almost the
same as that of the Sankhya : action is still a necessary
evil, and the less we act, the nearer are we to salvation.
We may perform the most necessary actions indeed- eat
food, wear clothes, and have some shelter too; but the
less we have even of these the better would it be; and we
must stop as soon after them as possible. Celibacy is
extolled as an ideal, and we are enjoined to spend our time
in meditation and the pursuit of knowledge.

MAHAVIR-I can understand meditation and knowledge; but
I thought marriage was a fundamental law of life.

VALMIKI-It is this that takes us to the next system, Vaiseshika,
based on the conception of the union of God and Nature,
corresponding to that of man and woman, in the crea-
tion of life. God is spoken of as Purusha or man, and
Nature as woman, and they have both their own part to
play. The share of Nature may be more than that of God,


or the two may be equal, or the share of God may be more
than that of Nature : it is even as we may imagine between
man and woman in married life.

MAHAVIR-This is interesting. But is not this identical with
the system of Mahadeva ? Fhe other systems seem to have
something in common with it too.

VALMIKI-Yes. The Vaiseshika is the meeting place of all
systems of Hindu religion, and is specially important on
that account. If you understand it aright, you can grasp
the different points of agreement and opposition between the
various systems of Philosophy and Religion.

MAHAVIR-Is it then different from Sankhya and Nyaya ? or
does it too, like them, examine the whole problem from a
particular point of view ?

VALMIKI-Yes, from the point of view of the Mind -the next
faculty above the senses in man. The Mind can compre-
hend its own character and that of the senses below it, but
not of Buddhi and the Soul above; and so it regards them
both as partaking of the character of the Mind.

MIAHAVIR-Does it believe that the Soul is like the Mind ?

VALMIKI-Yes; and it is because of this error that we must
pass on to the next system, that is Yoga.

MAHAVIR-Is there any other error in the Vaiseshika system ?

VALMIKI-Yes. All forms of life are not created by the physical
union of the male and the female. For instance, the Sun
creates by means of its own power ; and there are forms of


life where the mere presence of the male near the female
is enough to set into operation the forces of creation. Nor
need the male and female be regarded as equal or almost
equal. And so in the Yoga system God is conceived as
the chief creator of the universe, and Nature as either a
spectator of his work, or but a very minor creator of life.

MAHAVIR-This seems to be the very opposite of Nyaya. Has
Yoga also a special point of view of its own ?

VALMIKI-Yes : it looks at all things in the light of Buddhi, the
next faculty above the Mind; and Buddhi can understand
itself, and the character of the Mind and the senses below it,
but not of the Soul that lies above; and so it regards the
Soul as identical with itself.

MAHAVIm-How extraordinary But if the special character
of Buddhi, as explained by you, is certainty of knowledge
and peace, is not the Soul specially connected with it ?
I have read somewhere that the Soul may, for practical
purposes, be identified with Buddhi. That seems sensible.

VALMIKI-If you examine the problem in the light of the
Yoga system, you will hold this view. That is the point
of view of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata, and you will
find this stated in that Epic.

MAHAviR-Yes, I remember. Is that the reason why the
Bhagavad Gita too is described as a treatise on Yoga ?


MAHAVIR-I believe Yoga at least is free from error, or is it
also incomplete ?


VALMIKI-Yoga understands the character of Buddhi and all
that lies below it, that is, the Mind and the senses; but not
of the Soul. And then its idea of God is not complete.
If Nature exists even as a spectator of the work of God-
who is the creator of this Nature ? And so we must pass
on to the next system, Vedanta-the ultimate analysis of
all ancient knowledge-which tells us that God is the one
supreme creator of the universe, including all that we
understand by Nature; and corresponding to him there is
the Soul in man.

MAHAvI--This is truly wonderful. And so we rise from the
senses to the Soul or from Sankhya to Vedanta in this way I
But what is the special character of the Soul in Vedanta,
as distinguished from Buddhi, Mind, and the senses ?

VALMIKI-The Soul is seated in the vital breath, and is
characterized by knowledge and action both, for with every
breath we draw we know and act at the same time. Thus
it is the Soul that functions through all the organs of the
body; and it is the Soul that feels pleasure and pain.
When it functions in connection with any organ-be it
Buddhi, Egoism, Mind, or the senses-it is identified with
it for the time being and is called by that name; and it is
for this reason that we can do only one thing at a time.
But it can also withdraw itself from all these, and then it
becomes the Soul once more, and knows itself. Thus the
ancients described Buddhi, Mind, senses and food as
sheaths or cases that enwrap the Soul. The Soul is the
same in all beings; and it is only the difference in the
make up of his other organs and energies that constitutes
the difference between man and man. It is this that gives


us the idea of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood
of man.

MAHAVIR-This is socialism. Aren't you mixing up things ?
I thought religion was something different.

VALMIKI-Religion and Ethics are closely allied, like Goodness
and God ; and all schemes of social and political welfare
have goodness for their end. Goodness and God may even
be identified; and it is Vedanta that understands the true
character of God and the Soul, and so of goodness too.

MAHAVIR-Does this imply that Vedanta alone is true, and all
the other systems false ? Or has Vedanta its own limita-
tions too ?

VALMIKI-All these systems are an attempt to examine the
whole problem of life from a particular point of view; and
it is for this reason that they are called Darsanas or
visions of life. Each has its own contribution to make.
Vedanta examines the question in the light of the Soul;
and, in connection with the idea of God, it is the opposite
of Sankhya, as Yoga is of Nyaya; while the Vaiseshika lies
between them. But, like the rest, Vedanta has its own
limitations too.

MAnAvR-Indeed I

VALMIKI-Yes; but to understand this, we must examine
the whole question in the light of the idea of Sacrifice.

MAHAVIr-All this is so strange! But you have explained only
five systems so far. I thought they were six,


VALMIKI-I am coming to that. The sixth is called Purva
Mimansa, and deals with the problem of Sacrifice. It is
said to be an introduction to all Hindu Philosophy. Unless
we understand what Sacrifice means and the place it
occupies in our life, we cannot grasp the essential idea of any
system of thought.

MAHAVIR-Yes, indeed. Sacrifice is creative, deliberate and dis-
interested action, meant for the benefit of all, including the
doer himself, but no more than the rest; and it is this that
enables us to understand the idea of God. All human actions
partake of this character, in more or less degree ; but the
more we act in a spirit of Sacrifice, the nearer are we to per-
fection, that is God. And when we associate this idea with
the great forces of Nature, and believe that they are
creative, that there is a design and purpose and will behind
them, that they are universal and so disinterested in their
operation, and act for the benefit of all, that through
apparent destruction and death they recreate newer and
more beautiful forms of life-we transform Nature itself
into God. That is what I learnt when I was converted to
belief in God.

VALMIKI-YOU have understood the idea of Sacrifice and its
relation to Nature and God. Now if we believe in Nature
and deny God, we regard life as an evil, and reject all
action, even as a Sacrifice; and the sooner our life comes to
an end, the better, we think, would it be for all. This
is the conclusion to which the Sankhya leads. But, as we
wish to live, we must believe in God, good actions or
Sacrifice, and so we pass on to the next system, Nyaya.


MAHAVIR-I have understood this too. As we believe in
happiness, and Nature cannot provide it, we must believe
in a happy Being who lives beyond Nature; and that
is God outside the universe. Then, as acts of Sacrifice, per-
formed in this world, are free from the fetters that bind,
and make for happiness all round, that Being all whose
actions are an unending Sacrifice, is God within the
universe. I understood this too when I came to believe
in God.

VALMIKI-YOU have understood. Now, as Nyaya has a
small place for God, it has a correspondingly small place
for Sacrifice, and believes that the end of life is renunciation
of action. The next system, Vaiseshika, believes in Nature
and God as equal or almost equal creators of life; and so
it believes in Sacrifice and renunciation almost alike. Yoga,
the next system, believes that God is the chief creator, and
Nature almost like a spectator of his work; and so it holds
that acts of Sacrifice should always be performed. But, as
it gives a place, however small, to Nature too, it cannot
eliminate renunciation altogether; and believes that, while
we cannot renounce good and necessary actions, we must
renounce their fruit instead.

MAHAVIB-This is the exact teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.

VALMIKI-Yes; it is a treatise on the Yoga system of thought,
and examines the problems of life in its light.

MAHnvri-This is amazing. How strangely do things fit into
one another! Yes, this is Yoga. Now what is the idea of
Vedanta ?


VALMIxK-Vedanta, holding that it is God alone who creates,
believes that all actions, of whatever kind, are a perpetual
Sacrifice, and so it has no place for renunciation at all. And
it is for this reason that Purva Mimansa, which deals
with the problem of Sacrifice and so is connected with
all these systems, is specially associated with, and culmi-
nates in, Vedanta.

MAHAVIR-Surely all human actions are not good, and cannot
be said to be a Sacrifice. You do not deny the existence
of evil, do you ? We all act to secure some pleasure or
good, and to escape its opposite, evil or pain. That is the
teaching of all systems of philosophy, as I have read them;
and it is this that enables us to understand the idea of God
or Sacrifice. You cannot eliminate evil from the world,
can you ?

VALMIKI-Yes; but if there is God and God alone, there is
nothing but life and good and happiness; there can be no
sorrow or evil or death. They are all transformed into but
different aspects of life and good and joy for ever renewed
in the world; and evil, sorrow and death appear to be but
an illusion to those who believe in this idea of God. But
human beings, such as they are, feel their presence as real
things; they are not imaginary or an illusion to them : and
that is the limitation of Vedanta. As, if we believe in
Nature alone, all life becomes evil and we must cease to
be;-and in order to live we must believe in goodness and
God;-even so, if we believe in God alone, everything is good,
there is nothing to renounce and we cannot die. But, as
death is the lot of all, we cannot believe in God and God
alone, and have to believe in Nature too. And so we descend


to the next lower system, that is Yoga, which gives a small
place to Nature, and enables us to understand the problems
of life, such as they are in this world, at their best. At the
extreme ends of thought lie Sankhya and Vedanta-the
pure monism of Nature and the pure monism of God;
and both of them are impossible of application to
the actual conditions of life, as we find them in
the world. Between them lie Nyaya, Vaiseshika, and
Yoga, which admit the existence of both Nature and God
in varying degrees ; and it is possible for man to follow
any one of them. But if Sacrifice be the basis of life,
the first place belongs to Yoga, then comes Vaiseshika, then

MAHAVIR-This is wonderful. But is not life really eternal ?
and so, is not Vedanta the only ultimate truth ?

VALMIKI-How you shift your ground It is the ultimate truth,
but not in this world where we live. This earth is only a small
part of the great scheme of things, and life is eternal in
its totality- not here. This is the world of the manifest,
where those who are born must die, and those who die are
born again.

MAHAVIR-The Gita says so too. How strangely do all
things fit into one another. The different systems of
philosophy and religion appear to be so conflicting, so
contradictory; but you have reconciled them in a most
extraordinary way. Is all this contained in the systems
themselves ?

VALMIKI-This is the idea of the systems themselves. I have
only tried to understand and interpret them : that is my


humble task. They are called Darsanas, that is, visions of
truth or points of view; and each is a vision or a point of
view, as I have explained. They are derived from the
Upanishads, and the Upanishads are an exposition of the
inner meaning of the Vedas; while the Epics, which are said to
be Vedas too, are an account of the same in story-form.
If we can explain the Epics in terms of systems of philosophy,
we can check them up both backward and forward;
and unless they can be fitted into this frame-work, we
may not accept them as accounts of these systems.

MAHAVIR-This is more wonderful than I had imagined. But
what is the connection between the Vedas and these systems ?
They all claim to be based on the Vedas ; but how, no one
seems to know.

VALMIKI--You must go to Visvamitra for a detailed explana-
tion : I can only give you a bare outline of the whole.
The Vedas consist of hymns addressed to a number of gods,
the idea of many of whom is explained in the Vedas them-
selves, but more fully and clearly in the Upanishads. For
instance, Vishnu is the supreme deity of the Soul, and Yayu
is air or vital breath, the vehicle of the Soul in man.
Hence Vedanta, based on the character of the Soul, is
derived from a description of these gods. Similarly Agni
and Indra are identified with the Sun, which personifies
Buddhi or intelligence in the sacred books; and so Yoga,
based on the character of Buddhi, is derived from a des-
cription of these gods. Indra also refers to the self-con-
scious Soul in thQ Upanishads; and from this we may
conclude that Buddhi is, for practical purposes, identified
with the Soul in the system based on him ; and that should
be the point of view of Arjuna, the son of Indra, in the


Mahabharata. Similarly Soma and Rudra are identified
in the sacred books with the Mind, the basis of the
Vaiseshika. In the same way Dyava-Prithvi and the two
Asvins refer to the twin-born senses of knowledge and
action, and so constitute the basis of Nyaya. Similarly
Sankhya, based on the idea of Nature or Prakriti as the
supreme creator of life, is derived from a description of
Varuna and Vritra in the Vedas.
MAHAVIR-This is something new to me. Can this too be
checked up with reference to the Upanishads and the
Epics ?
VALMIKI-Yes ; otherwise the explanation of the Epics must
fail. Let us revert to the idea of Sacrifice, which enables
us to understand the idea of God, and to rise from one
system to another. If we associate it with Food, the basis
of the Sankhya-that is, if we believe that food is creative
in its character, and we must eat intelligently, unselfishly,
and not only for our own good but for the good of others
too, we cannot remain confined to the Sankhya, and so
pass on to the next system, Nyaya. Similarly, if we
associate Sacrifice with the senses, the basis of Nyaya-
that is, believe that the senses function creatively, intel-
ligently, unselfishly and for the good of life, we grasp
the idea of the Mind, and so pass on to the next higher
system, Vaiseshika. In the same manner the idea of the
Sacrifice of the Mind enables us to grasp the idea of Buddhi,
the basis of Yoga ; and the Sacrifice of Buddhi takes us to
the idea of the Soul, the basis of Vedanta.
MAHAVIR-This is most interesting. But didn't you say that
the different systems of Philosophy were connected with
those of Religion ? How is that ?


VALMIKI-As I explained to you, each of the three great
systems of Religion-of Brahma, Mahadeva and Vishnu-
has three aspects, and they are based on the character of
the different systems of Philosophy. The three aspects
of the system of Brahma correspond to Sankhya, Nyaya, and
Vaiseshika respectively; the three aspects of the system of
Mahadeva to Nyaya, Vaiseshika, and Yoga ; and the three
forms of the system of Vishnu to Vaiseshika, Yoga, and
Vedanta respectively. This will explain to you the
connection between them. At the two ends stand Sankhya
and Vedanta--apart and by themselves; but all the other
systems have something in common between them-but
not without a shade of difference in each. For instance,
Nyaya, as connected with the system of Brahma, holds
that God is but a spectator of Nature's work ; but, in
connection with the system of Mahadeva, it holds that he
is a minor actor and not a mere spectator of Prakriti.
Similarly, Vaiseshika, as connected with the system of
Brahma, holds that God is a minor and Nature a major
creator of life; in connection with the system of Mahadeva
it believes that the two are equal; while in connection
with the system of Vishnu it gives a major place to God
and a minor one to Nature or Prakriti. In the same way
Yoga, the opposite of Nyaya, conceives of God as the
chief and Nature as a minor creator in the system of
Mahadeva; while in the system of Vishnu it believes that
Nature is but a spectator of the work of God, who alone

MAHAvIR-This is a most amazing way of fitting all the
systems of Philosophy and Religion into one great


VALMIKI-The proof of the mango is in the eating of it.

MAHAVIR-What is the mango in this case ?

VALMIKI -The explanation of the great Epics and the Puranas
as accounts of these systems in story-form.

MAHAVIR-Can you explain them all in this way ?

VALMIKI-I can explain the Ramayana to you. But they can
all be explained in this way, and there are others who
can do it.

MAHAVIR-This is wonderful. And so you can explain all the
characters and events in the Ramayana, human as well as
divine, as representing ideas of philosophy and religion ?-
the friends and foes, their alliances and combats, but as
ideas in association or opposition-as accounts of their
agreements and conflicts ?

VALMIKI-Yes, all.

MAHAVIR-May I then ask who is Rama ? He is only half an
avatar or incarnation of Vishnu : what is an avatar, and
why only a half ?

VALMIKI-An avatar or incarnation is one who embodies the
idea of God made manifest in this world through Sacrifice.
When men deny God and Sacrifice, when evil triumphs
and unrighteousness prevails, he comes to re-establish
righteousness and good in the world. Rama, Krishna and
others are such avatars or incarnations of God. Now the
system of Vishnu has three forms-pure monism, qualified
monism, and dualism. The first, based on pure Vedanta,


can have no incarnation, for Vedanta is impossible of
realisation in our world. But the second, based on Yoga,
gives us as perfect an idea of God as we can understand;
and this is represented by Krishna, the complete incarnation
of Vishnu.

MAHAVIR- Is that the reason why Krishna is spoken of as the
Lord of Yoga in the Gita ?

VALMIKI-Yes. The Mahabharata itself culminates in this
system, and the Bhagavad Gita, as a part of the Epic, is a
treatise on it too. Let us revert to Rama. The third or the
dualistic system of Vishnu, based on the Vaiseshika, holds
that God and Nature are joint creators of the universe,
but the share of God is greater than that of Nature. This
is represented by Rama ; and so he is but half an
incarnation of Vishnu.

MAHAvIR-This is wonderful. And so Krishna retains the
character of God in accordance with the qualified monistic,
and Rama in accordance with the dualistic, system of
Vishnu throughout ? and you can explain the whole of the
Ramayana in this way ?


MAHAVIR-I am dying to know this. Pray go on, and tell
me who is Ravana.

VALMIKI-You have grasped the character of the three great
systems-of Vishnu, Mahadeva and Brahma; and understand
how the system of Vishnu may, in certain circumstances,
be regarded as opposed to that of Brahma ; don't you ?


MAHAVIR-Yes. They are really not opposed; but if a
person regards the system of Brahma to be the only truth,
exclusive of the rest, he would then be deemed to be hostile
to the system of Vishnu; not otherwise.

VALMIKI-Now Rama, as half an incarnation of Vishnu, repre-
sents his dualistic school; while Ravana, as a descendant
of Brahma, represents his system, and conceives of it as
the only truth. Hence the hostility between them.

MAHAVIR-But why is Ravana made to look like a monster
with ten heads ?

VALMIKI-This is an ancient way of giving form to an idea.
The ten heads refer to the ten senses of knowledge and
action, with which the Mind is always associated, as you
know. This is Ravana with ten heads, representing the
Mind and the ten senses-which constitute the basis
of Nyaya and the Vaiseshika in the system of Brahma.

MAHAVIR This is confusing. Didn't you say that Rama too
represents the Mind, the basis of the Vaiseshika ?

VALMIKI-Yes, but there is a vital difference between these two
aspects of the Vaiseshika. In the system of Brahma it
holds that God and Nature are joint creators of life but
the major place belongs to Nature, not God; while in the
system of Vishnu it holds the very opposite view. And so
Rama gives a higher place to God and Sacrifice, while
Ravana to Nature and renunciation of action.

MAHAvIR-What are Rakshasas then ? and why is Ravana said
to be the king of these dark spirits of the night, the per-
petrators of all evil in the world ?


VALMIKI-The Rakshasas are those who believe in Nature
and not God as the chief creator of the universe ; and so
they hold that all life is an evil, and all actions, even
those performed as a Sacrifice, must be renounced. It is
for this reason that they are said to block or frustrate all
Sacrifice or good actions. They are anti-social, and so
described as monsters ; and Ravana is their chief, because
he personifies in himself all that is associated with the
idea of Nature as the supreme creator of the universe.

MAHAVIR-This is an extraordinary way of representing things.

VALMIEI-The sacred literature of the Hindus has a peculiar
symbolism of its own. It represents God and Nature in
different forms. God is man and Nature woman; God
is light and day, and Nature darkness and night; and so
on; and many other ideas are represented in this manner.
And so the Rakshasas, who believe in Nature, are the
children of darkness, and range in the region of the

MAHAvIR-Are all the Rakshasas like that ?

VALMIKI-Not all are evil. Those who, like Vibhishana, the
brother of Ravana, believe that the system of Brahma is a
stepping stone to those of Mahadeva and Vishnu, are good,
and follow the path of truth even in their own faith; and
so they are said to have a Dharma of their own.

MAHAVIR-Vibbishana I thought he was the first traitor in
history, and had tainted its pages throughout. There is
not a period of Indian history but has its Vibhishana. He
deserted his king and country, joined the enemy, and


divulged to them the secrets of Lanka's defences. Ravana
is great. He rose in my estimation for allowing his brother
to go.
VALMIKI-You will have to change your opinion before long.
This is not a war in the vulgar sense of the term. It is a great
battle of conflicting ideas-a great debate. There can be
no argument unless those who believe in an idea adhere to
their own point of view. How can Vibhishana side with
his brother when he believes that the system of Brahma is
a stepping stone to those of Mahadeva and Vishnu, and
Rama represents a more correct point of view ? Even so
in the battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata, some
of the princes of the Kurus join the Pandava hosts. As for
divulging secrets, Rama returns the compliment too. He al-
lows the spies of Ravana to survey his own forces and carry
away whatever information they please. In a debate,
when truth is your object, where is the harm in telling your
opponent what point of view you hold ? He may then
agree with or oppose you at will.

MAHAVIR-Indeed! and so this is not a war, but a great
debate Then why all these hosts, with their chariots and
elephants, horse and foot, arrayed in deadly combat ? The
Mahabharata tells us of millions of men assembled in the
field, with arms of wonderful kind. The Ramayana too
has its hosts of monkeys and demons; and so many are
wounded and slain.

VALMIKI-Yes : all these can be resolved into points of argu-
ment in a debate. When a person is wounded ", it
means that the argument has gone home; and when he is
slain ", it means that he admits his error and owns


defeat, and agrees that he is a believer in Nature
and not God. All this can easily be explained by means
of the ancient method of interpretation I told you of.

MAHAVIR-Strange, most strange Now I remember. There
were great councils called by the kings of old to discuss
the principles of Buddhism and Hinduism. Is this war
between Ravana and Rama a debate of the same kind ?

VALMIKI-Similar, but on a vaster scale. Nor must you con-
fine it in point of time to the great religious councils of
which you have read in your books of history. You have
read of the great war of the Pranas or Senses in the
Upanishads; and the war of the Ramayana and the Maha-
bharata is of the same kind. It is eternal, and goes on
for ever ; it is there even now-the conflict between action
and idleness, selfishness and scarifice. Nor is there any
contradiction between actual war, as you are accustomed
to imagine it, and a war of ideas. Look at the great war
that is raging all over the world to-day. Behind the
actions of men are their interests ; but behind their interests
are ideas. More than the conflict of men and nations, it
is their ideologies that are at war. And so a great debate
is of the nature of war; and in the one as in the other
only those can succeed who believe in and make the largest

MAHAVIR-Wonderful, most wonderful. Sacrifice in war as in
a debate But the one makes for death, and the other for
life and belief in God.

VALMIKI-Death in war is the beginning of a larger life.
Sacrifice is not a process of suffering and pain ; these are


but the throes of a newer birth, a newer life of happiness and
joy. And that is true of both-a bloody war and a great

MAHAvIR-I do not know what to think. How strangely
do the actual and the ideal coincide Do you really deny
that there were great wars of which the Ramayana and the
Mahabharata speak ?

VALMIKI-No. There may have been great wars. History is
full of them; and may be, great wars actually took place;
and it is with such a background that the epics of Rama-
yana and the Mahabharata were composed. But, as they
are, they are not accounts of battles of blood, but of ideas
and arguments in the language of war.

MAHAVIB-This is amazing. I am so confused. You have told
me something about Ravana and Vibhishana. Who is
Kumbha-karna then ?

VALMIKI-Ravana represents the Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems
in the religion of Brahma ; but this school is based on the
Sankhya too. Ravana cannot represent it, for the Sankhya
stands by itself and combines with nothing else ; and yet
it is closely allied to his own point of view. And it is the
Sankhya that his brother Kumbha-karna represents. The
Sankhya is based on the creative character of the vital energy
of Food; and the word Karna means grain or seed of corn
that can be sown and multiplied.

MAHAVIR-Is that the idea of Kumbha-karna because of the
meaning of Karna that forms part of his name ? Is there not
a Kara in the Mahabharata too ? Does he also represent
the same ?


VALMIKI-Yes. The same name must have the same signi-
ficance in all sacred literature-at least in works that are
allied. It is only then that these books can be regarded as
stories of Philosophy and Religion.

MAHAVIR-This is wonderful. What is Kumbha then ? Has
it any connection with the Karna of the Mahabharata
too ?

VALMIKI-Yes. Kum-bha means literally "born or made
manifest in the earth"; and that is Karna or Grain of the
Ramayana. In the Mahabharata Karna is the son of
Kum-ti, and the word "Kum means "the earth" in
Sanskrit ; while ti is an older form of iti which
means that is to say ". Thus the Karna of the Maha-
bharata is also born of the earth like Kumbha-karna of
the Ramayana. You see that the syllable kum is
common to both.

UMA-This takes my breath away. So Kunti is not a woman,
but the mother Earth, and Karna or Grain is her first born
child How I was shocked when I read in the story that
the Sun approached Kunti, and Kara was born ; and
then she, without compunction, threw the naked child into
water, and it was picked up by some one !

VALMIRI-It is when the Sun shines on the earth that grain or
seed is born ; but in order to grow and multiply, it must
be placed in water. This is the law of the vegetable king-
dom; that is what the Upanishads say; and that is
what the Mahabharata repeats in the story of Kunti and

UMA-Strange, most strange. And can the other incidents,
which shocked me so, be explained in the same way too ?


VALMIKI-Yes. They are all but accounts of similar ideas,
based on the facts of life and the teachings of the sacred
books. But you must go to Vyasa for a detailed explana-
tion of the Mahabharata. Ask anything you wish to know
about the Ramayana now.

MAHAVIR-What about the long months of Kumbha-karna's
sleep ? He takes enormous quantities of food and drink
when he wakes. What has that to do with his character
as grain ?

VALMIKI-That is the period of hibernation for all seed or
grain. It must, on an average, rest for a period ranging
from six to ten months before it can germinate again.
That is why Kumbha-karna sleeps so long, and cannot
be awakened before his time. And then, when the time
comes for the seed to germinate, what must it have to
grow ? It is water and manure-and the bones and ashes
of animals, the sap or pulp of plants, and worms constitute
the best forms of manure-that will enable it to grow.
In addition to this it needs air as well. This, when pro-
perly interpreted, is the real meaning of the text, which
you have understood as the herds of buffaloes and deer
that Kumbha-karna eats when he wakes.

MAHAVlR--I am so bewildered. Manure and water and air for
seed to germinate I This sounds so modern. Did the
ancients know to much of science too ?

VALMIKI-I leave it to you to imagine. This is the real mean-
ing of the text.

MAHAVIR-I do not know what to think. If this is Kumbha-
karna, who is Indrajit, the son of Ravana ?


VALMIKI-Indra, as I have told you, is connected with the
word Indriya or the senses; and "jit" means a con-
queror ". Indra-jit is one who has conquered or subdued
his senses ; and the control or conquest of the senses is of
the essence of the idea of the Sacrifice of the senses, leading
to the idea of the Mind, which Ravana represents ; and so
Indrajit is the son of Ravana.

MAHAVIR-This is not quite clear to me.

VALMIKI--Ravana represents the system of Brahma, which
believes in a limited form of Sacrifice-the Sacrifice of the
senses-and it is this that is represented by Indra-jit, as
the son of Ravana. Now you will understand why there
were Brahmanas in the court of Ravana, who performed
sacrifices and prayed for his success.

MAHAVIR-You have an extraordinary way of explaining things.
Let me go back to Rama. If he represents the Mind or
the dualistic school of Vishnu, what about his brothers,
Lakshmana, Satrughna and Bharata ? Who is Dasaratha,
his father and king, and who are his three queens ?

VALMIKI-The brothers of Rama are also spoken of as in-
carnations of Vishnu, but on a smaller scale ; that is to
say, they embody the idea of Vishnu to a certain extent.
But let me begin with Dasaratha. Rama is said to be an
incarnation or embodiment of the idea of God: Now tell
me what is the necessity of this incarnation ?

MAHAVIR-To re-establish righteousness and truth in the world
when they decay.

VALMIKI-It follows then that Dasaratha had not understood
aright the correct idea of God; for had he done so, as


he was a king, he could have established the truth him-
self, and there would have been no need for Rama to be

MAHAVIR-This sounds logical, I suppose.

VALMIKI-If you understand the idea of Dasaratha, you will
find that he represents the system of Brahma, but only as a
stepping stone to those of Mahadeva and Vishnu. And
so, while he cannot re-establish righteousness and truth
himself, he can help ; and Rama or the dualistic school of
Vishnu is born in the ground prepared by him.

MAHAVIR-This is interesting. What about his three queens ?

VALMIKI-The system of Brahma has three divisions-based on
the character of the three corresponding systems of thought
-Vaiseshika, Nyaya, and Sankhya-in each of which Nature
or Prakriti has an important part to play. Now Prakriti
is represented as a Woman in the sacred books ; and so
Dasaratha has three wives to represent the three forms of
Nature or Prakriti in his system. Of these Kausalya is
the Prakriti of the Vaiseshika, Sumitra of Nyaya, and
Kaikeyi of the Sankhya.

MAHAVIR-This is wonderful. And what about their sons ?

VALMIKI-Each of them creates after her kind. Rama, the
son of Kausalya, is Mind, the basis of the Vaiseshika ; the
twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna, the sons of Sumitra, are
the twin-born senses of knowledge and action, the basis of
Nyaya ; while Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi, represents the
sum total of the forces of life in Nature that go to make the


MAHAVIR-This is marvellous. May I ask why Rama and
Lakshmana were always on one side, and Bharata and
Satrughna on the other ?

VALMIKI-The twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna, represent the
twin-born senses ; but we may conceive of their functions
in different ways. Some of them may be said to act in con-
junction with the Mind, while others in conjunction with
their objects-all of which are to be found in Nature.
Accordingly Lakshmana, who represents the former, is
associated with Rama or the Mind ; while Satrughna, who
refers to the latter, is a companion of Bharata or the objects
of which Nature consists.

MAHAVIR-How strangely do all things appear to fit in Do
the same characters occur in the Mahabharata too ?

VALMIKI-Yes, in a different way, of course-as that Epic
follows its own line of thought. The idea of the three forms
of Prakriti in the system of Brahma is represented in the
Mahabharata by the three sisters-Amba, Ambika, and

UMA-Then the Niyoga of Vyasa is only an account of ideas
of Philosophy ? I thought it was a most shocking thing.

VALMIKI-Yes ; it explains how we can descend from Yoga to
lower systems of thought. But you must go to my brother
for an account of this.

MAHAVIR-What then is the difference between Dasaratha and
Ravana, if both of them represent the system of Bralima ?
The king of Lanka is also called Dasa-griva ; and the
syllable Dasa seems to be common to both.


VALMIKI-Dasaratha and Dasagriva both represent the same
system of thought-that is, the system of Brahma-but
from opposite points of view. The former holds that it is
a stepping stone to those of Mahadeva and Vishnu ; while
the latter maintains that it is the ultimate truth.

MAHAVIR-And so the Ramayana is an account of the opposi-
tion between these two aspects of the system of Brahma ?

VALMIKJ-NO. It is an account of the opposition between the
system of Brahma, conceived to be an end in itself-as
represented by Ravana-on the one hand, and the dualistic
school of Vishnu, as represented by Rama, on the other.
It would be difficult, hardly dramatic, to represent an
opposition between two aspects of the same thing, without
bringing in a third; and that is the system of Vishnu.

MAHAVIR-Did you not say that the system of Brahma is
divided into Buddhism and Jainism ? Am I to understand
that the Ramayana is a story of the conflict between these
systems on the one hand, and the dualistic school of Vishnu
on the other ?

VALMIKI-Yes, Buddhism and Jainism, conceived as exclusive
and an end in themselves, on the one hand, and the dualistic
school of Vishnu on the other.

MAHAVIR-And the Mahabharata ?

VALMIKI- A story of the conflict between Buddhism and
Jainism, conceived in the same light-as represented by the
Kauravas-on the one hand; and the qualified monistic
school-as represented by Krishna and the Pandavas-on
the other.


MAHAVIR-This seems to put the two Epics in a historical
setting. We read of the conflict between Hinduism and
Buddhism in early Indian history; and Buddhism is said
to have been defeated and driven out of India in the end.
Are the Epics an account of this ?

VALMIKI-An account of this conflict, but not limited to a
particular time or place in the way you have read. What
they relate is something fundamental-a conflict between
belief in the great forces of Nature on the one hand, and
belief in God on the other ; and the story of this strife is
eternal. And if certain events actually take place in the
history of a people or race, it only shows how, by the
great Law of Life, the actual and the ideal coincide. It
does not mean that the Epics are but a record of certain
happenings in the way you mean.

MAHAVIR-Pardon me. I feel so lost. Let me go back to the
Ramayana. Now tell me who is Sita? Is she a real woman,
or does she also represent an idea or a system of thought ?

VALMIRI-Sita is not a woman in the ordinary sense of the
term, as it is commonly understood. She represents
Sacrifice, out of which she is said to have been born. You
will remember that her father Janaka prepared the earth
for a Sacrifice, and it was out of this that Sita arose. A
Woman, in the sacred books, is described to be an instru-
ment of creation; and so Sita is real or creative Sacrifice,
inseparable from the idea of God. Accordingly Rama, the
true incarnation of God, alone can win and wed her.

UMA-This is wonderful. Was not Draupadi also born out of a
Sacrifice? Is her idea too the same ?


VALMIKI-Yes; and so she is called Yajna-seni or "Mistress
of Sacrifice "; and as Sacrifice leads to the idea of God, she
is called Krishna too, which means literally leading to
Krishna ", who is the most perfect embodiment of the idea
of God, made manifest through Sacrifice.

UMA-How wonderful! So Draupadi is not a woman, but
Sacrifice She is said to have been married to five
husbands--the five Pandava brothers: what does this
signify ?

VALMIKI-The five Pandava brothers are but five parts of one
man ; and so Draupadi or Sacrifice is united with Man,
who becomes thereby a man of God. It is for this reason
that Krishna or God appears for the first time in the Epic
on the occasion of the wedding.

UMA-What do you mean by five parts of one man ? I do not
understand this.

VALMIKII-The body of a man may be divided into two sections,
one extending from the crown of the head to the organ of
excretion, and the other consisting of arms and legs. A
man can continue to live even if he loses his legs and arms.
As these two sections are so distinct, they may be described
as born of different mothers; and these are Kunti and Madri,
the two mothers of the Pandavas.

UMA-Indeed I I thought you said that Kunti was Earth-the
mother of Karna or Grain ?

VALMIKI-The Earth is the mother not only of the vegetable
kingdom or Karna, but also of the animal kingdom, repre-


sented at its best in Man. And so Madri is able to create
only at the instance of Kunti: that is what you find in the
Epic. Kunti or Earth is the mother of Karna or Grain, as
well as of the Pandava brothers or Man.

UMA-This is so confusing. But let me understand the idea
of the five Pandava brothers. How do they represent five
parts of one man ?

VALMIKI-The first section of man, from the crown of the head
to the organ of excretion, may be divided into three parts:
Buddhi, centred in the upper half of the head; Mind,
centred in the lower one; and Pranas or the senses of
knowledge and action, through which moves the vital
breath or Prana, making them active and alive. I told
you that the senses are called Pranas in the Upanishads,
and for this reason. Yudhishthira. the eldest, is Buddhi;
Bhima is Mind; while Arjuna is Prana or the vital breath
moving through the senses; and it is only when he realises
his character as Soul, seated in the vital breath, that he
attains to perfection. This is the same as the idea of Indra,
as I explained to you. Hence Arjuna is spoken of as the
son of that god.

UMA-This is marvellous. What about Nakula and Sahadeva ?

VALMIKI-They represent the Arms and Legs of a man. You
see how they are like real twins !

UMA-Is this the story of the Mahabharata ?

VALMIKI-Yes ; an account of the evolution of the five Pandava
brothers or Man, functioning with all his organs and


energies; rising from the lowest to the highest conception of
Life; and attaining, through Draupadi or Sacrifice, to the
closest union with Krishna or the most perfect embodiment
of the idea of God.

UMA-Wonderful, most wonderful! The idea of Draupadi still
puzzles me. She was born out of the sacrificial fire of her
father, as I have read. But she had a brother and a
sister too; and they also arose out of the same. What do
they signify ?

VALMIKI-They represent different ideas associated with Sacri-
fice, to make it complete. Draupadi herself is Sacrifice
leading to the idea of God. Now we must understand the
basis of this Sacrifice: and that is the Sacrifice of the
senses and the Mind. In other words, we must perform
good, intelligent and selfless actions with our senses, and
think in the same way, to be able to understand the idea
of Sacrifice. This is the Sacrifice of the senses and the
Mind, which enables us to understand the idea of Buddhi,
the basis of the Yoga system of thought, in which the
Mahabharata culminates. This is Dhrishta-dyumna, the
brother of Draupadi.

UMA-Was he not the leader of the Pandavas in the battle of
Kurukshetra ?

VALMIKI-Yes; and that will tell you how we can establish the
idea of God through Sacrifice. But you must go to my
brother Vyasa for this. Now let us go on to the sister of
Draupadi. She represents the third idea associated with
Sacrifice, namely, that Nature or Prakriti itself is trans-
formed into God by means of Sacrifice. Accordingly, when


this girl grew into a woman, she was transformed into a
man through Sacrifice.

UMA-This is most marvellous. Was she not the cause of the
death of the great Grandsire Bhishma ?

VALMIKI-Bhishma represents belief in the system of Brahma;
and he can be convinced or slain only when it can be
shown that Nature itself is transformed into God by means
of Sacrifice.

UMA-This is wonderful, most wonderful! What then is the
idea of the unrobing of Draupadi ? How much would I
give to know what this really means !

VALMIKI-Well, I must tell you. You remember the
story of the Gambling Match between Sakuni and Yudhi-
shthira. Sakuni plays with deceit, and the Pandava loses
all. Draupadi is out of the picture while the game goes
on; but after Yudhishthira has lost his all, she is dragged
in; and then Karna tries to take off her robes.

UMA-Yes, I remember.

VALMIKI-This is really a debate between the Sankhya system,
with its denial of God and Sacrifice-as represented by
Sakuni and Karna, on the one hand-and belief in God
and Sacrifice, as represented by Yudhishthira, on the other.
For the moment the former succeeds ; for the Pandavas do
not possess knowledge enough at the time to enable them
to hold their own. It is an unequal debate-a Gamble of
thought; and the Pandavas are compelled to agree with
those who believe in Nature and deny God, that even
acts of Sacrifice must be renounced, if man wishes to be


saved. And so Yudhishthira stakes and loses Draupadi or

UMA-But why did Karna behave so disgracefully, and why did
all the sages and elders assembled in the Hall look on as
silent spectators of the scene ?

VALMIKI--As this is a public debate, it takes place in the pre-
sence of the learned men of the times. Karna is Grain, and
represents the vital energy born of Food, which constitutes
the basis of the Sankhya. If this system succeeds, we
must, like the Digambara school, renounce all action,
however necessary, including the wearing of clothes. The
Pandavas agree, and take off their own clothes themselves.
But is this the character of true Sacrifice ? Can we really
renounce necessary actions, and live ? Draupadi protests,
and maintains that without Sacrifice or necessary actions
life itself must end; and that by the very definition of
the idea she represents, she is creative action, necessary
action, action indispensable to life, action that leads to the
idea of God. But, Karna persists in his own way of
thought and attempts to unrobe her. But it is soon realized
by those who understand the idea of Sacrifice, that what
Draupadi maintains is true; and so she cannot be un-
robed; and it is Krishna or the idea of God with which
she is associated, that comes to her assistance. It would
take long to explain the details; but this is idea in

UMA-Who could have imagined it! This is more wonderful
than I can think. Is the idea of Krishna taking away
the clothes of the Gopis of the same kind too ? I have
troubled you so much. Let me know this if I may.


VALMIKI-The Gopis were bathing naked in water ; they had
taken off their clothes of their own accord : that is, denied
God, as I have explained. So long, therefore, as they
continue to do so, they must remain without clothes; and
they can get them back only when they return to belief in
God. This is the idea of the story in the Bhagavat

UMA-This is wonderful, most wonderful. How strangely have
we misunderstood these things !

MAHAVIR-Who could have thought of this! Now tell me
something more about the Ramayana. Why did Kaikeyi
oppose the coronation of Rama and insist on his exile ?

VALMIKI-Kaikeyi is Prakriti of the Sankhya; but, as the wife of
Dasaratha, she believes that this system is a stepping stone
to others, culminating in the Vaiseshika as the upper limit
of the system of Brahma, to which the king belongs. She is
however, prepared to agree that the system of Brahma
leads to those of Mahadeva and Vishnu; and so welcomes
at first the coronation of Rama, or the establishment of the
dualistic school of Vishnu. But will not that lead ultimately
to the elimination of the Sankhya itself, which she and
her son Bharata represent ? She is led to believe that it
will; for the system of Vishnu culminates in pure Vedanta,
which utterly excludes the Sankhya, and has no place for
Nature or Prakriti as a separate entity. This she is unable
to accept, and so demands a proof of what Rama and his
system stand for and imply. No one can satisfy her at
that stage, and so Rama must go out into the world of
life to seek for the proof of what he represents. He cannot
appeal to his idea of Sacrifice, for that would be begging


the whole question ; and so Rama and Sita and Lakshmana
all go into the forest or the world of Nature in quest of
their proof.

MAHAVIR-This is fascinating. But what is wrong about this ?
Is it not sensible to demand proof in so important a matter
as this ? But why did Kaikeyi require that her own son
be placed on the throne ? and what was her deceit of which
Dasaratha complains ?

VALMIKI-There is nothing wrong about demanding proof;
and that is why Rama, who was unable to satisfy her at
the time, so readily agreed to do what she desired. Further,
to know the whole truth, we must demand proof of a thing
in its entirety. Let, therefore, the pure Sankhya be estab.
lished as the one system in the world for the time being;
and let us see what happens, and understand how the
dualistic school of Vishnu can legitimately take its place.
That is the demand of Kaikeyi; and so she asks that
her son Bharata be placed on the throne, and Rama be

MAHAVIR-I do not see any deceit in this.

VALMIKI-No. But, if you accept the Sankhya, what follows ?

MAHAVIR-The negation of action, and all that it implies.

VALMIKI-Yes; and it is this that is stated in the text-the
negation of action; and it is this that has been misunder-
stood as deceit ". The Sanskrit word used in the text is
Nikriti-Ni-kri-ti-which literally means the negation of


MAHAVIR-HOW extraordinary In the Mahabharata Sakuni
too is said to have played with deceit. You said that he
also represents the Sankhya. Is the same word for deceit
used there too ?

VALMIKI-Yes; and there also the meaning is exactly the

MAHAVIR- How amazing is all this! And so when this
deceit succeeds, it is followed in both cases by an
exile Rama goes out for fourteen and the Pandavas for
thirteen years. There is Sita in the one, and Draupadi in
the other ; and both of them accompany their husbands.
And at the end of their exile there is a great war !

VALMIKI-Yes, indeed. And that is because the idea in both
cases is exactly the same.

MAHAVIR Then why did Dasaratha die ? and why did Bharata
decline to accept the throne ?

VALMIKI-If the Sankhya prevails-even for the time being-
as it assorts with nothing else, there can be no room for any
other system ; and so Dasaratha, who represents the
Nyaya and Vaiseshika, must cease to be; and he passes
away. But if we follow the Sankhya, life itself must come
to an end. We assume its existence only as a step in our
quest of truth; and we must pass on to a higher system
before long, or else we perish. That is the place of the
Sankhya in the scheme of life-as something subsidiary and
subordinate to higher forms of thought. And so Bharata,
who represents it and understands its true character, cannot
consent to rule. He may do so only for the time being,-


but that too as subject to and in the name of something
higher-and that is the system of Rama. The rule of the
Sankhya, in its own name, means death; and so it is always
given a subordinate place in sacred literature. Accordingly
Kumbha-kamra, who represents it in the Ramayana, is
subordinate to Ravana. Similarly in the Mahabharata,
both Sakuni and Karna are subordinate to the Kauravas
who rule.

MAHAvm- Thiis is indeed marvellous! How strangely do the
two Epics agree Now tell me who is Surpanakha ? and
why did Rama and Lakshmana cut off her ears and
nose ?

VALMIKI-Surpanakha is the sister of Ravana and must, like
her brother, represent the same system of thought, namely,
the system of Brahma conceived as an end in itself. As
the full range of this system extends from the Mind to the
senses and their objects in Nature, she holds that the Mind
is associated with the senses of knowledge and action
indeed,-and that is the association of Rama and Laksh-
mana-but maintains that the latter are connected with
their objects, which lie in Nature. Thus, according to her,
all that the two brothers represent have their end in
Nature, which she claims to have grasped. Accordingly,
she believes that she is entitled to have both Rama and
Lakshmana for herself; and approaches them with that
object when she sees them in the forest.

MAHAvi--The situation has a peculiar humour of its own.
But why did they cut off her ears and nose ?

VALMIKI-I have told you that wounding ", killing ",
cutting off have all a special meaning of their own;


and the Sanskrit words used in the text, when properly
understood, signify it clearly enough. Cutting off"
means that it has been proved that the thing cut off "
belongs to Nature or the system of thought associated with
it as the chief creator of life. Now Surpanakha claims to
have grasped the true idea of the Mind and the senses, and
so wants to have both Rama and Lakshmana for herself.
But the correct idea of these is based on Sacrifice or Sita.
Does she accept that too ? As a believer in the system of
Brahma, she cannot. She holds that acts of Sacrifice
must ultimately be renounced, for they are all associated
with their objects in Nature, and can have little to do
with God ; and so the salvation of man lies in meditation
and knowledge. Hence she attacks and tries to slay "
Sita or Sacrifice in the very presence of the brothers. This
proves that her idea of the senses and the Mind is purely
physical, and that she has not understood their character
aright. And so Lakshniana, who represents the correct idea
of the senses and their connection with the Mind, cuts off "
her ears and nose-the first and last of the senses of
knowledge-to show what she really signifies, and how
erroneous is her belief.

MAHAVIR-This is truly amazing. It seems you can explain
almost anything. But pray proceed. I am dying to
know more.

VALMIRI-Now this is a challenge to the whole system of
Brahma, as represented by Ravana; and so that monarch
is roused to take action at last.

MAHAvIR-Why did he carry away Sita ? Why did he not
slay her as his sister had attempted to do ?


VALMIKI-The whole thing, as you will see, turns on the idea of
Sacrifice. Ravana, representing the system of Brahma, holds
that he alone has grasped the true idea of Sacrifice ; namely,
that it is action of some kind, and all action is related
to some object, which again is ultimately rooted in
Nature. Hence all Sacrifice, in its final analysis, refers to
Nature and not God. He believes, however, that in order
to live, for so long as we must, we should perform necessary
actions or acts of Sacrifice; but that is only for the time
being, and the final goal of man is renunciation and the
pursuit of knowledge. Ha believes, therefore, that he is
entitled to possess Sita or Sacrifice; and that if the idea
she represents is different, he should try to convert it
to his own. In other words, he maintains that Sacrifice
is not essentially associated with the idea of God; and
so he contrives that Rama, who holds otherwise, should
be separated from Sita or Sacrifice, and then carries the
latter away.

MAHAVIR-This is most wonderful. Is that the reason why
Ravana treats Sita so well ?

VALMIKI-Yes. He believes that it would be the greatest
triumph of his life to convert the Sita-idea of Sacrifice to his
own; and so he begs Sita to forget Rama and become his
foremost queen. But in case she refuses, he is prepared
to slay her too; for he believes that she represents an
erroneous idea of Sacrifice. But Sita cannot give up Rama
or God, nor can she be slain ; for it is of the essence of
all true Sacrifice that no one can break its link with God,
nor can it ever be destroyed.


MAHAVIR-This is wonderful, most wonderful. Then what
about the Deer with the golden horns, which attracted
both Sita and Rama, drew the latter to its pursuit, and
helped Ravana to carry Sita away ?
VALMIKI-All Sacrifice is a form of action, and all action is
born of some kind of desire. If this desire is selfish, foolish,
or evil-the action cannot be a Sacrifice, and makes for
sorrow and pain. But if the desire be unselfish, intelligent
and good, it is a true Sacrifice, and makes for freedom
and joy.

MAHAVIR-Yes, I understand.
VALMIKI-Now the Deer in ancient literature is a symbol of
Desire, and that is the meaning of the Sanskrit word Mriga ;
while Gold refers to Buddhi or intelligence. The Deer with
the golden horns represents, therefore, Desire characterized
by intelligence; and both Rama and Sita agree that such
a desire is worthy of pursuit; and so Rama goes out after the
deer. But the Deer was really an illusion-a Rakshasa in
that form. In other words, the Desire it represented was
only apparently intelligent and good, and in reality
foolish and wicked. Men pursue such desires every day,
and the best of them can be misled; and when this happens,
there is a lapse, and they lose hold of Sacrifice and
God. The same thing happens to Rama, and Sita is lost
to him.

MAHAVIR---This is truly amazing. And so the best of men
may lose hold of Sacrifice and God by pursuing
illusory desires-apparently attractive and intelligent !
How then do we get back the idea of true Sacrifice and
God ?


VALMTII--By pursuing really intelligent, good and selfless
desires. And so the Epic tells us of a herd of deer that
pointed to Rama the way Sita had gone. The Deer again
stands for Desire ; but this time it is not an illusion, but a
reality. It is for this reason that you will read in sacred
literature of the deer that should be hunted and slain,
and the deer that should be protected and preserved.

MAHAVIR-This is truly wonderful. The Gita. also tells us of
desires that are in accordance with Dharma, which even
Krishna may pursue. It also tells us of desires that need
to be subdued or slain.

VALMIKI-The idea in the Ramayana is exactly the same;
only the form is different.
MAHAVIR This is wonderful, most wonderful Who then are
the monkeys and bears, who help Rama to slay Ravana
aud regain Sita.

VALMIXI--You understand that if we wish to regain the true
idea of Sacrifice, we must pursue good, intelligent and
selfless desires : and that is what Rama needs to regain
Sita. But the question is, How can we know which
desires are good, intelligent and selfless ? All desires are
associated with their objects, which are either to be found
in Nature, or have a bearing on it ; and so they cannot be
dissociated from Nature, even as Ravana maintains. But
when we understand that the great forces of Nature them-
selves act in accordance with a law that is good, intelligent
and selfless, the desires we pursue are seen to be of the
same kind, and Nature itself is transformed into God. Thus
we understand the idea of true Sacrifice and God through
Nature once more.


MAHAVIB-This is marvellous. I was converted to belief in
God in the same way. Is this what you get in the form of
monkeys and bears ?

VALMIKI-Yes. The monkeys and bears represent the great
forces of Nature and actions in connection with them-
conceived as intelligent, disinterested and good; and so
they help Rama to regain Sita or Sacrifice.

MAHAvi---This is as amazing as it is absorbing. But was not
Rama an incarnation of God ? Could he not have proved
his own character in relation to Sacrifice, and so regained
Sita himself.

VALMIKI-That would have been begging the whole question.
For the moment the abstract idea of Sacrifice as well as
God recedes into the background; and the proof of the
whole can only be sought in the working of the great forces
of Nature, the existence of which both parties admit. Are
they really governed by a law that is intelligent, selfless and
good ? or is the opposite of it true ? This is the genesis
of the fight between Ravana and his Rakshasa hosts on the
one hand, and Rama and his bands of monkeys and bears
on the other.

MAHAVIR-What do we mean exactly by this ? The great
forces of Nature appear to be a mixture or both evil and
good. It is so difficult to say which is more, which

VALMIKI-That is exactly the point at issue; and it is this that
decides the question between the systems of Brahma and
Vishnu, or between Ravana and Rama.


MAHAVIR-Then how does Rama succeed ?

VALMIKI-By proving that Nature is governed by a law which
is fundamentally intelligent, selfless and good-the Law
of Sacrifice. It is by this law that the sun shines and
the rain falls, and all forms of life come into being,
grow and multiply. Even if you believe that good and
evil are mixed everywhere, the resultant must inevitably
be good, for otherwise life itself must crumble and perish.

MAHAVIR-I think I understand. Is this the idea of the Gita
when it says that rain falls by Sacrifice ? I had not thought
of it before.

VALMIKI-Yes. And when man understands this law in the
working of the great forces of Nature, he secures the means
of regaining his lost hold of Sacrifice. It is this that is
represented by the monkeys and bears-the allies of Rama,
who help him to succeed.
MAHAVIm-Do we get the same idea in the Mahabharata too ?
VALMIKI-Yes; but in a different form, of course. The
Grandsire Bhishma is the generalissimo of the Kaurava
hosts, and he must be defeated before the Pandavas
can succeed. And he himself tells them how to secure their
end. He cannot fight with a woman, or a person born as a
woman but transformed into a man. In other words, the
system of thought which he represents, namely Nyaya as
the centre of the school of Brahma-can be defeated only
when we are able to prove that Nature itself is trans-
formed into God by means of Sacrifice; for, as I have
explained, Nature is represented as a woman, and God as a
man in sacred literature.


MAHAVIR-This is indeed marvellous. When I read the story
it seemed to me so fantastic and obscure. I could not
understand how the Pandavas, with Krishna at their
head, could go up to Bhishma and ask him to let them
know the means of slaying him; and it seemed even
more extraordinary that he should oblige them and tell
them how exactly they could succeed. But you have put an
entirely new construction on it now.

VALMIKI-In a great debate, when you wish to know the Truth,
it is perfectly legitimate to ask an opponent to state the
circumstances in which he would be prepared to give up
his position or point of view; and this is what the Pandavas
and Krishna do when they approach Bhishma in this
connection. And Bhishma's answer is only in keeping
with the spirit of the question itself.

MAHAVIR-I understand. But the whole thing is so extra-
ordinary Now tell me why did Rama slay Vali, the
brother of the monkey-chief Sugriva, his great friend and
ally-and that too without warning or cause ? This has
always disturbed me. I have called it murder sometimes;
but I imagine this too has some symbolical significance,
some idea to exemplify.

VALMIRI-Did you not say that the great forces of Nature do
not always appear to make for what is good; and so perhaps
the sum total of our desires may not be regarded as being
in consonance with the law of Sacrifice ? This doubt may
occur even to those who are deemed to be believers in God. It
is they who need to be convinced of their error before others;
and this is the first hurdle to cross before you can fight those
who openly avow their faith in Nature-that is the Rak-


shasas. And Vali, the brother of the monkey-chief Sugriva,
the friend and ally of Rama, imagines that he believes in
God, but holds that the forces of Nature and the desires
.associated with them are not always characterized by
Sacrifice. It is the removal of this error that is described
as the slaught.~Sof Vali in the Ramayana.

MAHAVIR-Indeed When I read the text of the story, I was
bewildered and baffled; I almost lost my patience. When
Vali, wounded and on the point of death, accuses Rama, what
does the latter say in reply ? He has slain him in pursuance
of the command of king Bharata, whom all of them obey;
and also because Vali was a mere monkey I could not
think of anything more outrageous and irrelevant, cruel
and cowardly. Rama's words but added insult to injury, I
thought. But now I suppose you can explain this as well.
VALMIKI-Bharata, as you know, believed in the great forces
of Nature; and, as the whole question has now to be
examined in the light of these forces, Bharata is the king
whom all agree to obey. But Bharata also ruled in the
name of Rama; that is to say, he believed that the great
forces of Nature were indeed characterized by the law of
Sacrifice, and so were a stepping stone to the idea of God.
Hence it followed that, though belief in Nature implies that
life itself is evil, it is but a passing phase; and we realise
our error before long, and agree that our desires are, in
their totality, governed by the same law of Sacrifice that
governs Nature-that is, that they are on the whole
intelligent, disinterested and good.
MAHAVIR-I think I follow. But it is not quite clear to me
how Rama was obeying the command of king Bharata in
slaying Vali, as he said.


VALMIKI-The command of Bharata is that we shall not believe
that the forces of Nature end in evil, or that our desires and
their objects are essentially bad. VVJi, by holding the
view he did, had transgressed this mand. He must,
therefore, make amends by learning th rnal law; and it
is this that is expressed in terms of his ea h.

MAHAIR--This is very strange indeed. Then why was he
slain merely because he was a monkey? Was that a
justification for his death ? How can this be explained ?

VALMIKI-By understanding the text aright. He was slain,
not because he was a monkey, but because he represented
only a part, and that a small one, of the whole idea of
Desire. That is the real meaning of the monkey when
you understand it.

MAHAVIR-This is still more strange, and I am so confused.
How do you get all this ? I could not think of it
when I read the text.

VALMIKI-I told you that Sanskrit is an ancient language, and
the original meaning of the sacred books has, through the
long lapse of time, been lost. We who live here are trying
to interpret them in the light of the ancient method,
according to which each syllable, each letter, has a meaning
of its own. It is easy to grasp, and you too will understand.
For instance, the word for "monkey in the text is Sakha-
mriga; and its first part means "a branch or a sub-
ordinate part", and the second "desire". Thus you
understand what the real meaning is, namely-"a subordinate
part of desire "; and that is what Vali represents.


MAHAVIR-I do not know what to say. I had thought that
this at least would defy justification or explanation. But
you can explain almost anything. Your idea of Bharata
fascinates me. Has it anything to do with the name of
India as Bharata-varsha ?

VALMIKI-Yea. India is the land of people who follow Bharata's
way of thought and life. In other words, they believe in
Nature, but as subordinate to and culminating in God:
that is, Jains, Buddhists, Saivites and Vaishnavites-all
pursuing one end, God.

MAHAVIR-This is marvellous. How I wish to know more!

VALMIKI-When you understand the Epic in detail, and see
how the Story and Philosophy are woven together into a
wonderful pattern of life, both human and divine, your
doubts will be dispelled, and the light of truth shine on
you like the sun.

MAHAVIR-I humbly wait to learn.

VALMIKI-For the moment ask any questions you please.

MAHAVIR-I wish to know why Sita went through the ordeal
of Fire after Ravana was slain; and then again why she
was exiled, after the lapse of ten thousand years, when she
was bearing the twins.

VALMIKI-The defeat and death of Ravana means that it has
been proved that the great forces of Nature are really
governed by the law of Sacrifice. But the second part of
the idea still remains: Does Sacrifice also lead to God?
Does it belong to him ? Does not the system of Brahma


claim it too ? What is the difference between the idea of
Sacrifice in the system of Brahma and the system of Vishnu?
In other words, Can Sita go back to Rama after she has
lived in the kingdom of Ravana for some time ? Rama
knows that Sita is pure Sacrifice; and that the idea of
Sacrifice in the system of Brahma also belongs to God.
But the common people need to be convinced of it too;
and it is this that is expressed in terms of the ordeal of
Fire through which Sita passes to prove her character.
Fire is Agni in Sanskrit ; and Agni is the god of the Sun,
the supreme symbol of Buddhi or intelligence in sacred
literature. Sita proves, in the light of this Buddhi or in-
telligence, that Sacrifice belongs really to God.

MAHAVIR-This is wonderful. And her second exile ?

VALMIKI-You remember that she was bearing the twins when
this happened ; and Rama knew her condition.

MAHAVIR -Yes; and that made it all the more horrible.

VALMIKI-Have patience. You know that a child is described
as the fruit of a person in the sacred books ?

MAHAVIR-Yes ; as a tree yields fruit, even so does a mother
bear a child.

VALMIKI-Sita is bearing children now: that is, Sacrifice is
seen to bear fruit. What follows ? What is the relation
of Sacrifice to fruit ? Sacrifice is defined as good, intelligent
and selfless action ; and if this action is seen to bear
fruit, can it be regarded as purely selfless or as a Sacrifice ?

MAHAVIB-I am somewhat confused. I suppose not.


VALMIKI-That is exactly what the system of Brahma holds ;
namely, that since all action has some reaction, consequence
or fruit-which again is associated with Nature-no action
can be regarded as a pure Sacrifice, leading to God. Now, if
Sits or Sacrifice is seen to bear children or fruit, may it not
be held to be a Rakshasic idea of Sacrifice ?

MAHAVIR- There is something in what you say. But I suppose
this too has a catch somewhere.

VALMIKI-Well: and so the people complain that Sita, having
lived in the kingdom of Ravana, is not worthy of Rama;
and that the king was setting a bad example by keeping
her with him. How long after the defeat of Ravana this
happens, is irrelevant to the issue. What must we do if,
at any time, we find that it is commonly believed that
Sacrifice may bear fruit ?

UMA--So Sita was not really exiled ?

VALMIKI-She was. Now tell me, Can we associate Sacrifice
with fruit, and yet regard it as pure-a fit offering for God
himself ?

MAHAVIB-I suppose we must renounce it. The Gita says that
we must renounce the fruit of all action ; and that, I
suppose, includes Sacrifice too.

VALMIKI-And so Rama was justified in sending Sita away ? It
does not seem so horrible to you now ?

MAHAVIR-YOu have put a very different construction on the
whole story. But pray proceed. Why then does Rama
take back Sita and her sons ?


VALMIKI-You know the story. The twins were taught to
dedicate themselves to Rama, and to utter nothing but his
name. They were also strictly enjoined to accept nothing
in return.
MAHAVIR-I remember.

VALMIKI-Rama represents the Mind; and his twin children are
the twin-born senses of knowledge and action. And when
the senses function only in the name of God, without
seeking anything in return, they are a true Sacrifice of the
senses, and acceptable to God.
MAHAVIR-Now I remember. The Gita says that we should
renounce the fruit of action to God, and perform all
actions in his name.

VALMIKI-It is the same idea that is expressed in the Rama-
yana in this form. When, therefore, the twins sing of
nothing but Rama, the fruit of Sacrifice is admitted by all
to belong to God himself, and so Rama receives them in his
arms, and recalls Sita too. This completes the whole idea
of Sacrifice, and it is accepted by all.
MAHAVIR-Why then did Sita enter the earth, as we are told ?

VALMIKI-She arose out of the earth when it was prepared for a
Sacrifice ; and she entered the earth again at the end. Thus
is the whole cycle of thought made complete; and the idea
of true Sacrifice enters into every nook and corner of the
earth. That is the end.

MAHAVIR-Yes, that is the end. I have heard, I have listened,
but have only partly understood. What you have said is
so clear, so consistent, and seems so true ; and yet it is so
utterly amazing, and I am lost in the wonder of it all.


As wonderful doth some one see this all ;
As wonderful doth some one of it speak;
And some one hears of it as wonderful:
Yet hearing still doth no one understand I
I hear this echo of the Gita ringing within me. But a new
light dawns on me, and I wish to know more. How grossly
did I think of Rama! Who can forgive me? But how
wonderful is all this, how wonderful! It is fools alone who
scoff; and I have been the biggest of fools.

VALMIKI-Think no more of it. Those who have faith may
find; and also those who seek and are sincere.

UMA-I am so confused, and know not what to think. This
is more wonderful than words can tell. I too wish to know
more. But can I, 0 holy Father, understand ?

VALMIKI-Yes, both of you can understand. But it is now
late, and you must have some rest.

MAHAVIR-As thou biddest, sire. But can we really understand
the whole story of the Ramayana in this way ? What
you have explained is so wonderful, so beautiful, and so
true 1

VALMIK-Yes, you will understand. But you must go to my
brother Angirasa, who will explain the Upanishads to you.
They are the foundation of all ancient Philosophy and
Religion; and when you have understood them, you will be
able to grasp the idea of both the Epics-the Ramayana and
the Mahabharata.

BOTH-As thou willest, sire.


VALMixI-Rest awhile in this place. Knowledge and peace will
come to you in time. (Calls) Usha, Usha!

The Little Girl appears.
Call the other children now.

Usha goes out and returns with the children. They
all sit down and sing. Valmiki, Uma and Mahavir join in
the chorus :
0 Lord of Raghus, Raja Rama !
Saviour of sinners, Sita Rama !

Mahavir and Uma are slowly walking up-hill

MAHAVIB-I am not surprised at what you say. It has been
a strange experience : one of the strangest I have had. I
almost think it was a dream; but the memory of it is so fresh
and clear.
UMA-No; it was not a dream, but a wonderful reality. I
cannot forget what I saw and heard : the holy Father, so
gracious and good, and the little children, so simple and
sweet. When he spoke, I thought the whole thing was
clear as day-light; but now I do not know what to think.
I feel so lost.

MAHAVIR-I think I have grasped the idea. I had so many
questions to ask ; but he bade us wait, and understand the
Upanishads first. He said that the sage Angirasa would
teach us, and his Ashram lay in an easterly direction. He
was a wonderful man.


UMA-Most wonderful. And the little children-weren't they
wonderful too ? How they smiled and sang !
Sings in a low tone : Mahavir also joins.
0 Lord of Raghus, Raja Rama !
Saviour of sinners, Sita Rama !
So Sita is Sacrifice, and Rama the lord of this Sacrifice !
MAHAVIR-And this is the idea of Krishna, Vishnu or God-the
lord of Sacrifice. Ravana too believed in Sacrifice, but to a
limited extent; and so he could not be the lord of Sita or
Sacrifice. Nor must we believe life to be evil-for the
great forces of Nature, and our own desires associated with
them, are all governed by the same law of Sacrifice- good-
ness, intelligence and joy-that is God. Sacrifice is action
without fruit ; and when it bears fruit, we must reject it :
but if the fruit be dedicated to God, it is transformed into
true Sacrifice again.

UMA-How beautifully is the whole thing explained.

MAHAVIR-This is Ramayana. The Mahabharata too is an
account of Philosophy; and the idea of the two Epics is
almost the same. So Mira is right after all. How wonder-
ful is this I am lost in the amazement of it all.

UMA-So am I. But why was this not discovered before?
We should have known how beautiful, how true, our re-
ligion is.

MAHAVIR-There is a time for everything; and this is a part
of the mystery of life. Civilizations come and go ; and
ideas and forms of art appear, disappear and re-appear.

UMA-Yes ; but how much has been lost!


MAHAVIR-And now regained! But we have walked since the
morning, and you are tired, I think. We are far from the
Ashram, and the main pathway is distant still. Let us rest
awhile. Here is a pool of clear, cool water. How the
spray leaps up as the water comes down the steep hill-
side !

UMA-Yes; let us rest awhile. You must be tired too. (They
sit down in silence)

Enter an Old Man, carrying a load on his back, bent
low with its weight. He looks at them as he passes, and

MAHAVIR-Sit down, friend, and rest. You look tired.

UMA-Sit down, brother, and eat. Here is a little food.

OLD MAN--(Sighing and shaking his head) No ; I must on. But
you are kind. I have not heard the like of you speak so
sweet. Food is scarce nowadays.

UMA-Alas Pray sit down and eat.

MAHAVIR (Rising and helping him to take off his load)- Let me
help you, friend. It is so heavy.

OLD MAN-(Sadly) It belongs to great folks. You are too
kind, too kind. (Sits down). From where do you come ?
From the Ashram ? It is a wonderful place. Did you see
my little girl, Usha ? We hear strange stories. There are
some old men about, but no one knows from where they
came. They have built Ashrams here, and sometimes
they come out and sing strange songs, and the whole
village turns out to see them. Usha heard one of them,


and now she is living in his Ashram. Wonderful man !
The poor woman cried and would not part with her; but
the little child smiled so sweetly, and she let her go.
Strange place, strange people !

UMA-What strange stories have you heard ?

OLD MAN-Of Rama and Sita and Krishna and others, which I
can hardly remember. Folks say the gods come down and
visit the holy men, and the children say they see them too.
But I am old, I am old. I must bear the burdens of the
great: how they think I am too highly paid when they
fling a four anna piece at me !

UMA-(Giving him some food) Take this, brother. I should
like to hear more of your little Usha.

OLD MAN-She is a jewel. She is a favourite of the holy man
yonder ; and when I hear her sing, all my burdens are lifted,
and I feel so light and happy. Have you heard it ?
0 Lord of Raghus, Raja Rama !
Saviour of sinners, Sita Rama !

Uma and Mahavir join, and close their eyes. When they
open them, the Old Man seems to them to bear a strange
likeness to Valmiki, the Sage. They bend down and touch
his feet.


Cambridge Printing Works, Delhi.

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