The Fourth Dimension of Human Self

The Fourth Dimension of Human Self
Manoj Das

We are in an institution which has resurrected tradition and which had diametrically made a progress. It could not have done so, if it had not kept pace with modernity, with the demands of modern ideas. Hence the tradition and modernity as presented often are not antonyms, are not ideas which push each other, there can be synthesis and there is synthesis here. By recalling tradition we mean something belonging to the past. There is a chorological calendar; a calendar of time. There is another calendar, the calendar of consciousness; a different calendar something may come into consciousness.

Some months ago when I was in America to attend a conference, a scientist asked me, (at that time the patent of neem had become a problem, regarding the patent right there was a controversy between India and certain other countries) very innocently –

“When I see when the qualities of neem and brahmi recorded in classical texts like Carakasamhita, it agrees 70% – 75% of the qualities discovered in our ultra modern laboratory. Now, what kind of laboratory 2000 years ago Caraka might have used? Can you tell me something about it?”

I told him I don’t know and I do not believe that any Indian historian could either enlighten you on this subject. All that I can say is that there is a laboratory of consciousness. There is a process through which the speaker could completely identify himself with the object about which he tries to know, or he wants to know and when this identification gets established a truth of the object automatically flews to the speakers consciousness. But the process of identification to be possible, you have to know there is a faculty within man, much deeper and much more original in mind with the emotional being of the intelligence which we call soul.

A few years ago the director general of health services Govt. of India received a communication from the Director General of WHO. It was a very technical communication, but the summary of which is like this. Suppose, (I am putting it into a layman’s language), two persons admitted into a mental asylum showing the same symptoms, both belong to the same age group and both came out with the same cultural and educational background; treatments are given to their body – that emotional self in their mind, both psychiatrical treatment and physical treatment. The records of the treatment are also very meticulously preserved. Both the patients are showing the same response. But one day suddenly it is seen one of the patients was fully recovered. The other has not recovered. Does it mean that there is something more than physical body, mind and the emotional self? Those who received treatment or something else want to listen suddenly a piece of music, remember something, meeting an old friend; all which responded and helped the process of recovery! Is there something more than this body, mind and the emotional self which you Indians call soul?

India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore convened a meeting of India’s leading psychiatrists, neuro surgeons, neurologists, physicians; some of the students of mysticism were also invited to participate and interact among them. Swami Rangaram, the present president of Rama Krishna Mission, was there who else from Kerala, late M. Pandit was there and I also happened to be there. Naturally it was not an occasion to present a detailed record or report of the discussion. But we all agreed including the scientists that it is time for an objective assessment of human personality to take a lot of, a fourth dimension of human self.

It is a very arbitrary division between tradition and modernity.

Here, today Siva Sankariji spoke about the oppression of the feminine section of the society. It is a fact of life. For hundreds of years that went on. But remember, the first feminist movement started in India, where they get physically tied. All the daughters of a Daksa were married to great princes; but the last daughter Sati did not agree to marry anybody except Lord Siva. Siva had no home, dressed in a bohemian way and he did not have any roof over his head. How can the king give his daughter to such kind of a person? But Sati revolted and went away married to Siva. The rest of the story you all know. Take the case of Savitri, the princess of Madura. She had decided to marry Satyavan, knowing fully that he will die after one year. She went and lived in the forest in the dilapidated hut of Satyavan; did he carry a dowry with her. Who can speak of feminism better than Sati and Savitri.

Anything that becomes old does not cease to be modern. When you go to the Himalayas do you speak more on the beauty of Himalayas simply because they were beautiful 5000 years ago, 10,000 years ago? When we stay in front of the sunset or sunrise, do they loose their charm simply because they have ancient phenomena of nature, they do not. There is really no kind of water tight compartments. There is not any stone wall between yesterday and today, much depend on the attitudes. We must remember the human emotions have not become radically or qualitatively different from the emotion that prevailed thousands of years ago. A mother’s love for the child has not been modernized. It is the mother’s instinct to love the child. The child’s instinct for survival needs demands that love.

Sometimes I wonder what it that makes the two epics of India is! In ancient world we see four epics, Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, Ramayana and Mahabharata by Valmiki and Vyasa. Certainly Iliad and Odyssey are great epics. But they have not exercised that kind of influence on the life of the nation as Ramayana and Mahabharata did on the life of the people of the subcontinent. In my home state Orissa Ramayana is celebrated every year. You will be surprised to know the entire work is done by the Muslim community. All the dresses are made by them; all the roles are played by them. I do not know for how many centuries this tradition has prevailed. To them ‘Ramayana and Mahabharata’ are not Hindu epics or mythology. It does not seem to be our national heritage. Why Ramayana and Mahabharata move the people? What is the magic spell of this?

I will narrate you an incident which took place in Bombay a few years ago. There was a young man, an industrialist in his mid thirties. Every day he comes home after his office hour. He talks to his little child and either asks him what you learned in the School. One day the child replied you will not be interested in what I learned today; father compelled him to tell it frankly. Boy said – my teacher told me a story called the Ramayana. It’s a beautiful story. Father asked – beautiful story? Why don’t you narrate it to me? The boy was reluctant to tell the story. The father went on insisting. The boy said – hero and heroine went to the forest for a picnic, and heroine was stolen by the villain. The hero sent an S M S to his friend, the friends got the message, and rescued the heroine. The father is terribly disappointed. ‘This is the story your teacher told you, about Ramayana?’ The son laughed and said “Father! You can’t appreciate it, if I narrate the story as the teacher told it. It’s a beautiful story; I edited it for your sake’. Father thinks the son might have lost interest in Ramayana. The little child thinks the father being very modern, an industrialist who goes to abroad every now and then now he can’t appreciate Ramayana. So the boy edited the story for the benefit of the father. But both are in love with the same story.

What is it that the spell of this great epic which breaths traditions even with modern mind. Nothing is very complex. Epic is latent in all human beings. In this world nobody can survive without corruption. In the heart of our hearts we know that it is wrong to be corrupt. It is bad to be evil, it is bad to be wicked. We never say in public what a wonderful wicked man he is. We don’t say what a beautiful corrupt man he is. We still say what a wonderful courageous man he is. In the heart of our hearts we cannot loose our inner respect the evolutionary pause, which is there in every body to appreciate that good and the noble and the courageous and it is because of this inherent elegance, truth of life, certain emotions of life that this great epic continues to hold its spell over the entire human relations.

We have to use our rational process with the light of something more than reason, probably a truth which lies hidden, within ourselves. I had narrated a story from Indian folk tales; you see in Indian traditional head there are two parallel developments of literature, one vedas, upanisads, epics, puranas, etc; then the pragmatic prangs of literature like Kathasaritsagar, a collection of fictions, Pancatantra, the first collection of fables; in Kathasaritsagar you will find an interesting story:

One young man with settled merits, and his wife’s brother came to their house for a festival. So the husband, wife and wife’s brother, the three are walking through the forest. Inside the forest there was a deserted temple dedicated to some divinity but abandoned. Now the hero he suddenly feels an inspiration to enter the temple. In his young days he wanted to become a saint. But due to some peculiar circumstances he got married. Now once inside that temple suddenly a strange sense of renunciation overwhelms him. He feels repentant. Why should I worry? I should have become a sadhak in all days. What is the use of this life? In his folly he picked up the sword of the divinity and beheads himself.

After sometimes, his brother-in-law, the lady’s brother; enters the temple and sees that his brother-in-law has beheaded himself. How can I show my face to my sister? He also beheaded himself. After a while the lady enters the temple. She is horrified to see both her husband and brother lying with their heads detached from their bodies. Why should I live in this life at all? Necessarily a terrible emotion overtakes her. She also picks up the sword. Suddenly she hears her voice. “Do not be stupid like your brother and husband”. The girl asks what she should do. The voice of divinity tells her to put the heads and bodies together and sprinkle the water given to her; they will come back to life. She does so. The next moment the husband and brother came to their lives. After sometimes the lady discovers to her great horror that by mistake she had put husband’s head on her brother’s body and brother’s head on the husband’s body. In the Kathasaritsagar the Vetala asks king Vikramaditya – whom should take her husband – the one with brother’s body or one with husband’s body and brother’s head? King answers – the one with the husband’s head because it is the head which determines the personality of a human being.

This is not a great spiritual revelation; but a folk wisdom which reminds us of the tremendous amount of sound commonsense which prevailed even in such a level.

(Courtesy: “Satabhisekasmaranika”, Commemorative volume published on the occasion of the 84th birth day of Aryavaidyan P.K. Warrier, founding father of Arya Vaidyasala, Kottakkal, Kerala in the year 2005.)


About Manoj Das

For thousands of men, women and children of the past two or three generations, Manoj Das has been the very synonym of light and delight, whose writings in Odia and English inspire in his countless readers faith in the purpose of life and also open up concealed horizons of confidence and compassion in humanity a dire need today.