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Episode 12 - What the thunder said? Da-Da-Da
My dear listeners and friends, today I am going to move away from Yagnavalkya’s adventures and tell a new story from Brihaadaaranyaka Upanishad. The reason why I am doing this is for a purpose! I want to bring in some variety to my storytelling from Upanishads. Yagnavalkya’s debates were high on philosophy and required extreme attention and mindfulness to understand. Today’s story is lighter although still possess deep inner meanings and philosophy which we will unearth! Today’s story - “What the thunder said” is featured in Chapter 5, section 2 of Brihaadaaranyaka Upanishad. Let’s enjoy the story!
Aeons ago, gods, humans and demons who were the children of Prajaapati i.e.Viraaj, the Creator, lived together in the tutelage as his students. When their education was formally coming to an end, the pupils decided to ask their teacher - the Creator a final piece of advise and enlighten them, so that they can march towards their life’s destiny and goal.
Before we move on with the story - We must understand few important concepts. The word “Narayana” which we refer to the God himself signifies - Narayam-ayana which means - “the goal of mankind”. To achieve the goal we require a guru. Just like in our modern era, students going to schools to learn academics and life skills are taught by their teachers who are their gurus. The sportsmen and women require coaches who can guide them, train them better so that they can achieve their goal. In professions such as Software or any other, we also have goals and it’s our seniors or leaders who act as our teachers or guru and makes us to realise our goals. Be it education, profession, spirituality or sports we must have goals and which is only be achieved if we have a teacher or a guru. God cannot come down to earth to guide us, and neither we humans can go to God to take his advice. So God takes the form of a Guru to guide us.
We have recited a very popular verse -
“Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Deva Maheshwara,
Guru Shaakshaath param Brahma, Tasmayi Shri Guruvey Namaha.”
Now coming back to the Story - Prajaapati was a master psychologist. He could cure all those who approached him. He knew all his pupils and their nature. So he reserved his upadesha or advise until they approached him.
Gods were first among the pupils to approach the Creator for his final advise. Prajaapati - the Creator did something marvellous! As he spoke, the thunder roared! The sound which gods could hear was a syllable “Da”. The Supreme Father asked his pupils - the gods - “Dear child did you understand my advise?”
The gods looked at each other and with folded hands shook their heads. One of the god said - “Yes O Venerable One, we have understood!”
The gods had completed the word from the first syllable as their guru’s advise and said to the Creator
“You advised us the syllable “Da” - for us which means - “Daamyata” or “Self Restraint” or “Self Control”! You are telling us to exercise Self-restraint!”
The Creator said - “You have understood my child!”
Prajaapati was pleased as he could give his final advise to the gods and they could understand and interpreted it as per their temperament. The gods in general are inhabitants of regions of pleasure and happiness, as a reward for their virtuous qualities. However, the pursuit of pleasures is always very risky and just like walking on a tip of a sword! Unless they put in Self Restraint or Self Control in correct places, they may exhaust their virtue and can become slaves of flesh and pleasure! “Daamyata” or Self Restraint will keep them in check and control! Just like a boat responding to an expert captain or navigator, their heart should respond beating obediently to the call, the exhortation to achieve Self-Restraint!
When the gods went back to their place, next to ask advise from the Supreme Father were the humans.
Humans came to their guru and asked -
“O my father, the all powerful and all knowing One! Please give us your final advise!”
Pleased Creator when spoke the thunder roared - “Da”
The Creator asked humans - “My children, did you understand?”
Humans looked at each other and nodded their head and said - “Yes, O almighty One, we have understood! You have advised the first syllable “Da” which means - “Datta” or “The Giver” . You are asking us to Give and give generously!”
The Creator smiled and said - “You have understood! I am very pleased”
The Creator was pleased because he knew the very nature and temperament of humans. They were suffering from an incurable and chronic disease of greediness. The Creator knew they were greedy and selfish. They always believed in hoarding more than they needed, never letting go of what they considered their own! This advise of “Datta” or giving generously will balance that temperament. The Prajaapati had exhorted them to be selfless!
Humans went back to their place with their advise.
Last to approach the Creator were the demons. They asked their guru -“ O Guru, our Supreme Father! What advice do you have for us?”
As the Creator spoke, the thunder roared - “Da”!
The creator asked the demons - “My children did you understand my advise?”
The Demons looked at each other and happily said - “ Yes, my father, we understood! You have advised the first syllable “Da” which means - “Dayadhvam” Which is being compassionate. You are asking us to be compassionate.
Pleased Creator said - “Yes, you have understood my children!”
The Creator was pleased because the demons could understand his advise of being compassionate as he very well knew their temperament. The demons by nature were cruel, bloodthirsty and violent. So the advise - Dayadhvam or being compassionate will balance their temperament.
The demons went back to their place.
Thus each stormy night, Praajapati’s children never forget the divine advice through the Thunder’s roar as it repeats the Supreme Teachings - “Da - Da- Da” or “Daamyata - Datta and Dayadhvam! The result is peace, Shantih!”
Friends some extra information, which you may find very interesting. Did you know the famous poet T.S Elliot was deeply influenced by Upanishads? As Cleo McNelly Kearns has documented, Elliot had his own copy of Upanishads, which was gifted to him by Harward Scholar Charles Lanman, who taught him Sanskrit in the graduate school.
Elliot had used the concepts from Brihaadaaranyaka Upanishad’s - “What thunder said” in his poem - The Waste Land. The basic idea of the poem is that -
A waste land waits for a rain shower to fertilise it. So does the mind of a man waits for the fertilising shower of liberating ideas. They reveal to us latent possibilities of life. If the faith and hope they inspire in us were lacking, life would be a vale of tears. Philosophy - Tattwa Jnana, lightens the burden of life and throws light on the path of life.
I will now read out an excerpt from the poem - The Waste Land” by TS Elliot.
Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands
That was all about today’s episode. The three questions -
“What is the meaning, which the gods interpreted from the syllable - Da”,
Next question -
What is the meaning, which the humans interpreted from the syllable “Da”?
The last question -
“What is the meaning, which the demons interpreted from the syllable “Da”?
So please write me your answers to “firstname.lastname@example.org"
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