Bharatiya Chitta Manas and Kala
Part 2(Chapter 3, Chapter 4)



III


We seem to have little comprehension of the Indian Chitta and Kala. And therefore we are often bewildered by the variety of questions that arise in ordinary social living. What is the relationship between the individual, the society and the state? Which of them has primacy in which fields? What are the bases of healthy interaction between individuals? What is civilised behaviour in various situations? What are good manners? What is beautiful and what is ugly? What is education and what is learning?

In societies that retain their connection with their traditions, and which function according to the norms of their own Chitta and Kala, all such questions are answered in the normal course. Of course the answers change from time to time, and context to context, but that too happens naturally, without conscious effort.

But since we have lost practically all contact with our tradition, and all comprehension of our Chitta and Kala, there are no standards and norms on the basis of which we may answer these questions, and consequently we do not even dare to raise these questions openly any more. Ordinary Indians perhaps still retain an innate understanding of the norms of right action and right thought, though signs of confusion on such issues are often seen even among them. But our elite society seems to have lost all touch with any stable norms of behaviour and thinking. All around, and in all situations, there prevails a sense of confusion and forgetfulness. It seems as if we are left with no standards of discrimination at all.


A few years ago the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh visited the Sankaracharya of Sringeri. During their conversation a reference to the Varna Vyavastha arose in some context, and the Sankaracharya started explaining different facets of this Vyavastha to the Governor. At this the Governor advised the Acharya that he should avoid talking about the Varna arrangement. And the Sringeri Acharya fell silent. Later relating the incident to his junior Acharya he regretted that India had reached a state, where the Acharyas could not even talk about Varna.

In a functioning society such an incident would seem rather odd. The oddity is not related to the validity or otherwise of the Varna arrangement. There can of course be many different opinions about that. But a Governor asking a Sankaracharya to stop referring to the Varna Vyavastha is a different matter. In a society rooted in its traditions and aware of its civilisational moorings, this dialogue between a head of the State and a religious leader would be hard to imagine. Saints are not asked to keep quiet by governors, except in societies that have completely lost their anchorage.

Religious leaders are not supposed to be answerable to the heads of the State. Their answerability is only to their tradition and to the community of their disciples. It is part of their calling to interpret the tradition, and to give voice to the Chitta and Kala of their society, according to their understanding. No functioning societies can afford to curb them in their interpretations and articulations.


Numerous instances of similar lack of discrimination in social and personal conduct on the part of the best of India’s men and women can be recounted. Consider the example of Sri Purushottam Das Tandon taking to the habit of wearing rubber chappals because he wanted to avoid the violence involved in leather-working. Sri Tandon was one of the most erudite leaders of India. His contribution to the struggle for Swaraj was great. He had deep faith in the concept of Ahimsa. And, in pursuance of the practice of Ahimsa, he took to wearing rubber chappals bought from Bata, the multinational footwear chain, giving up the ordinary leather chappals made by the local shoemaker. There must have been many others who, like Sri Tandon, chose Bata chappals over the locally made leather footwear in their urge to practise the principle of Ahimsa.

It is of course creditable that important leaders of India had become so careful about their personal conduct and apparel, and took such pains to ensure that they did not participate in the killing of animals even indirectly. But Ahimsa does not merely imply non-killing. Ahimsa as understood in the Indian tradition and as elaborated by Mahatma Gandhi is a complete way of life. A major aspect of the Ahimsak way of life is to minimise one’s needs and to fulfill these, as far as possible, from within one’s immediate neighbourhood. This practice of relying preferentially on what is available in the immediate neighbourhood and locality is as important a part of the principle of Ahimsa as the doctrine of non-killing. That is why for Mahatma Gandhi Ahimsa and Swadesi were not two different principles. Looked at in this perspective, Sri Tandon’s practice of ignoring the local cobbler and taking to the rubber footwear from Bata’s would have violated the aesthetic as well as the ethical sensibilities of the Ahimsak way of life.


Now-a-days it is fashionable in the high society of India to use special ethnic goods which are often brought from thousands of miles away. And, this is often done with the noble intention of encouraging Khadi and village industries, or Indian handicrafts. This, then, is another instance of our failure to discriminate between the essence of a principle, and its contextually and temporally limited applications.

Mahatma Gandhi laid stress upon Khadi and village industries as two specific applications of the principle of Swadesi. In the context and the time of the freedom struggle these two were perhaps the most effective applications that he could choose, though, as he said in 1944, given a different context he would have probably chosen agriculture as the activity that most symbolized Swadesi. In any case none of these specific activities and applications could in themselves form the essence of Swadesi. The essence is in the frame of mind that seeks to fulfill all societal needs from the resources and the capabilities of the immediate neighbourhood. Using ethnic goods imported from far off places violates the essence, while conforming to the form, of Swadesi.


The instances we have mentioned are probably matters of mere personal etiquette. It can be said that too much should not be read into these personal idiosyncrasies. We, however, seem to be similarly befuddled on questions of much larger social relevance. For example, we seem to have so far failed to decide on the meaning of education for ourselves. Recently, there was a conference on education held at Saranath. A number of eminent scholars of India had gathered there. Amongst them there were vice-chancellors of major universities, reputed professors of philosophy, and celebrated practitioners of high literature. They had come together at Saranath to deliberate on the question of education. They had chosen a beautiful venue for their meeting. In Saranath there is a major institute of Buddhist learning, the Tibetan Institute. The conference on education was being held in this Institute. The director of the Tibetan Institute, Sri Samdhong Rinpoche, a high scholar himself - the highest Acharyas in Tibet, including the Dalai Lama, have the title of Rinpoche - sat through most of the deliberations of the conference.

At the beginning of this conference, I sought to know from the assembled scholars the meaning of education as understood by us. Is it merely the craft of reading and writing, or is it something else? There was no answer at that stage. But, on the fourth day of the conference, just before the conclusion of the deliberations, Sri Samdhong Rinpoche was asked to speak, and he took up the question of defining what we call education.

Sri Samdhong said that he had failed to grasp much of what had been said during the four days of the conference, because he did not know the meaning of the English word ‘education’. In any case, he said, he did not know much English. But he knew what is meant by the term Siksha. And Siksha in his tradition, according to him, meant the acquisition of the knowledge of Prajna, Sila and Samadhi. In rough translation these terms mean right intellect, right conduct and right meditation. According to Sri Samdhong knowledge of these three was education. The learning of various arts, crafts, and various physical techniques and sciences did not come under the term Siksha. At least in the tradition to which he belonged this learning, he said, was not called ‘education’.

Now, if this is the Indian definition of education then it needs serious consideration. If knowledge of Prajna, Sila and Samadhi is what is called education in our tradition, then we have to understand this form of education. We also need to find out how many amongst us are educated in this sense of education. Perhaps there are not many Indians who may be called educated on this criterion. There may be only half a percent of Indians who are educated in the practice of Prajna, Sila and Samadhi. Or, there may even be five percent, for all we know. But supposing there are only half a percent Indians who turn out to be educated in this sense of education, even that number may be five to ten times the number of people adept at Prajna, Sila and Samadhi throughout the world. According to our own definition of education therefore we may be the most educated people of the world.


It is possible that knowledge of Prajna, Sila and Samadhi is only one of the various kinds of education known in our tradition. Perhaps what is more commonly recognised as education is the knowledge of correct personal and social conduct, and the ability to earn a living for oneself and one’s dependents. If this is our definition of education, then some 90 to 95 percent of the Indian people are indeed educated. Viewed from this perspective some 5 to 7 percent of highly modernised Indians like us may seem rather uneducated. Because, most of us who have gone through the modern systems of education and learning have lost the knowledge of correct personal and social conduct within the Indian context, and have acquired no productive skills appropriate for making a living.


Perhaps neither the knowledge of appropriate conduct in one’s own social context, nor the ability to make a living, nor the knowledge of Prajna, Sila and Samadhi conform to our definition of education. Perhaps by education we only mean the capability of reading and writing. We define education to be merely literacy, and on this criterion we find 60 to 80 percent of Indians to be uneducated. But even if we define education in this limited sense, we still have to come to some decision about the type of literacy we wish to impart through what we perceive to be education.

If somebody knows reading and writing in Bhojpuri, then do we take him to be educated or uneducated? Perhaps to us he will seem uneducated. We shall probably say that though he is familiar with letters, yet familiarity with Bhojpuri letters hardly constitutes literacy, and we may insist that to qualify as an educated person he should know at least Nagari Hindi.

But then someone may object that knowledge of Hindi alone is not enough. To be called educated a person must know at least Sanskrit. And, then someone else will say that Sanskrit literacy is hardly education. An educated person must know English, and that too of the Shakespearean variety. Or perhaps knowledge of the English that is taught in Oxford or spoken on the British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts will alone meet our criterion of education. But at that point someone may tell us that the days of British English are over. This English is no use in the United States of America. Americans speak a new type of English, and it is the American English that is current in the world today. Then we shall perhaps insist that for an Indian to be properly educated he must know the American English.

If after a great deal of effort some Indians manage to learn good American English and thus get educated according to our current standards, we may find that by then America itself has lost its pre-eminence in the world. The future may turn out to be the age of the Germans, or of the Russians. It may happen that one of the nations of Africa starts dominating the world. Or the Arabs may take the lead. Then, shall we insist that for an Indian to be educated he must be literate in the language of whichever people happen to look like the current master of the world?

The attempt at imitating the world and following every passing fad can hardly lead us anywhere. We shall have no options in the world till we evolve a conceptual framework of our own, based on an understanding of our own Chitta and Kala. Such a framework will at least provide us with a basis for discriminating between right and wrong, and between what may be useful for us and what is futile. Such a framework will also provide us with some criterion for right conduct and thought. And, it will allow us to define, though tentatively, our way of living and being. We shall thus have some sense of the direction along which we must proceed in order to bring India back into her own.

The conceptual framework we devise now may not last long. Within a few years such a framework may start looking inadequate, or inappropriate, or even erroneous. We may have to revise or even completely recast it in say just five years. But any conceptual framework can only be a temporary guide to action. All such frameworks are after all human constructs. These are not meant to be unchangeable and indestructible.

Conceptual systems devised by man do get revised, changed and even thrown overboard. Basic axioms and laws of even physical sciences keep changing, fundamental principles of humanities and social sciences are of course revised every so often. There is nothing unchanging in any of this. And, if there is something of the ultimate reality, of the absolute truth, in the conceptual frameworks we devise, then that absolute in any case remains unaffected by the changes we make in our temporal devices. The business of the world runs on the basis of temporary and changeable conceptual frameworks, which provide nothing more than useful guidelines for immediate action. Some such temporary but usable conceptual framework of our understanding of the Indian Chitta and Kala is what we need to create for ourselves.

We shall ourselves have to make the effort to construct this conceptual basis for Indian thought and action in the modern times. Others can hardly help us in this. They cannot possibly devise for us a conceptual structure that will be in consonance with our Chitta and Kala. No outsiders could perform this task for us, even if they had wanted to. How can any outsider look into the Chitta and Kala of another people and present them with a meaningful understanding of themselves?

The effort to construct a framework for Indian thought and action in the modern world and in the present times is not to be confused with the search for the ultimate, the Sanatana, truth of India. That of course is a long and perhaps unending search. But it is not the ultimate truth that we need immediately. We only need some basis from which to start asking the appropriate questions. And, when we start asking those questions, the answers will also begin to emerge. Or, perhaps there will never be any final answers. But the fact of having raised the right questions would have provided us with some direction to the right path. At least the confusion that prevails regarding right conduct and thought, even in the ordinary day-to-day situations, will get cleared.

In a fascinating context of Valmiki Ramayana, Sita questions Sri Rama about the violent tendencies that she discerns arising in him.2 As Sri Rama leaves Chitrakuta and proceeds deeper into the forest, he and Lakshmana start flaunting their weapons and their physical prowess in a rather conspicuous manner. Noticing this, Sita warns Sri Rama against the warlike inclinations that the possession of weapons invariably generates. “As contact with fire works changes in a piece of wood,” she says, “so the carrying of arms works alteration in the mind of him who carries them.” And then she goes on to question the propriety of their bearing arms in the forest where they were supposed to be leading an ascetic life:

“The bearing of arms and retirement to the forest, practice of war and the exercise of asceticism are opposed to each other; let us therefore honour the moral code that pertains to the peace. Murderous thoughts, inspired by desire for gain, are born of the handling of weapons. When thou does return to Ayodhya, thou will be able to take up the duties of a warrior once more. The joy of my mother and father-in- law will be complete, if during the renunciation of thy kingdom, thou dost lead the life of an ascetic...”

Sri Rama did reply to the questions Sita raised about his warlike demeanour in the forest. But it is the questioning that is important. Not so much the answers. What is important is to keep raising questions about human conduct in various situations, not to arrive at final prescriptions.

In the same vein, of raising questions without insisting on any final answers, there is a dialogue between Bhrigu and Bharadvaja in the Santi Parva of Mahabharata, which is also reproduced almost in the same form in the Narada Purana.3 Bhrigu initiates the dialogue with his teaching that after creating the humans and other beings, Brahman classified the former into four different Varnas. Bharadvaja asks for the basis of this differentiation:

“(You say) that one Varna in the four fold division of men is different from other. What is the criterion thereof? Sweat, urine, faecal matter, phlegm, bile and blood circulate within everyone. Then on what basis is the Varna divided?”

Bhrigu answers that originally there was no distinction among the people. At the beginning all were of the same Varna. But with the passing of time they began to differentiate into different Varnas, according to their Karmas. But Bharadvaja persists with his questioning. He wants to know how an individual becomes a Brahmana, a Kshatriya, a Vaisya or a Sudra. Bhrigu says that it is the Karmas and the qualities of an individual that determine his Varna. And, so the dialogue goes on.

Here, as in the Ramayana context above, there are no final answers that the text provides. Perhaps this way of continuous questioning is the Indian way. To keep asking questions about personal and social conduct, and about the appropriate modes of social organisation, to keep meditating about these issues, and to keep finding provisional answers in various contexts, this way of continuous awareness and continuous reflection is perhaps the essence of the Indian way of life. We have somehow lost this habit of constant questioning and the courage to question. If we only start raising those questions again, we may regain some anchorage in our Chitta and Kala.



IV


To form a comprehension of the Chitta and Kala of India, we should probably begin with those aspects of the ancient Indian literature which seem to form the basis for all the rest. For example, there is the story of the creation and unfolding of the Universe, which is found with slight variation in most of the Puranas. This story seems to have a direct bearing on Indian consciousness, and Indian understanding of the Universe and its unfolding in time.

The story of creation that the Puranas recount is extremely powerful in itself. In bare essentials, according to this story, the creation begins with the intense effort, the Tapas, and the determination, the Samkalpa, of Brahman. The Universe once created passes through a number of cycles of growth and decay, and at the end is drawn back into Brahman. This cycle of creation of the Universe from Brahman and its disappearance into Him is repeated again and again according to the pre-defined flow of time. Within this large cycle, there are a number of shorter cycles, at the end of each of which the Universe gets destroyed, and created again at the beginning of the next. Thus the Universe keeps on passing through repeated cycles of creation and destruction, and there are series of cycles within cycles.

The terms ‘creation’ and ‘destruction’ are probably not wholly appropriate in this context. Because, at the time of creation, it is not something external to Him that Brahman creates. He only manifests Himself in the varied forms of the Universe, and at the end He merely contracts those manifestations into Himself, and thus there is in reality nothing that gets created or destroyed. The Universe, in a sense, is a mere play of Brahman, a cosmic game of repeated expansion and contraction of the ultimate essence of the Universe. But it is a game that is played according to well defined cycles of time. The Universe is play, but the play is not arbitrary. Even Brahman is governed by Kala. He manifests and contracts according to a definite flow of time that even He cannot transcend.

Every Indian is probably aware of this Indian view of the Universe as the play of Brahman. Every Indian is also aware of the supremacy of Kala in this play. Many Indians may not know the very detailed arithmetic of the various cycles of time that is given in the Puranas. But the thought that the Universe is a play that had no beginning and will have no end, and that this play of Brahman proceeds according to the inexorable flow of Kala, is deeply etched on the Chitta of the people of India.

According to the Puranas, in these cycles of creation and decay of the Universe, the basic unit is that of Chaturyuga. Every new cycle begins with Krita Yuga. This fist Yuga of creation is the period of bliss. In the Krita the Jeeva, the being, is not yet much differentiated from Brahman. There is of course yet no differentiation at all between one being and another. Amongst human beings there is only one Varna. In fact the concept of Varna has probably not yet arisen.

In the Krita life is simple and easy. There is no complexity anywhere. Complicating phenomena, like Mada, Moha, Lobha and Ahankara – forgetfulness, attachment, greed and egotism respectively, in rough translation – have not yet manifested themselves. There is no Kama, sexual desire, either. Procreation takes place merely through the wish, the Samkalpa. The needs of life are rather few. No special effort needs to be made for sustaining life. There is something called ‘Madhu’, which is abundantly available. Everyone lives on ‘Madhu’. And, this ‘Madhu’ is self-generated. ‘Madhu’ is not the honey made through the efforts of the bees. No effort is involved in making or collecting it. In this simple blissful state of life even knowledge is not required. Therefore, there is no Veda yet in the Krita Yuga.

This state of bliss lasts for a very long time. According to the calculations of the Puranas, the length of the Krita Yuga is 17,28,000 years. But with the passage of time the Universe starts getting more and more complicated. The innate order starts getting disturbed. Dharma starts getting weakened. And, toward the end of Krita, the creator has to take birth on earth in various forms to re-establish the Dharma.

Several Avataras of Vishnu, the aspect of the creator charged with the maintenance of the Universe, take place in the Krita, and the cycle of decay and re-establishment of Dharma, through the direct intervention of Vishnu, gets repeated several times already in Krita. But at the end of every cycle of decay of Dharma and its re-establishment, the Universe is left in a state of higher complexity. The Dharma is restored by the Avatara, but the original innate simplicity of life does not return. The Universe moves farther away from the original bliss. While the order of life is restored, life moves to a lower level. And, through these cyclical movements, each leading to a somewhat lower level of existence, the Krita Yuga finally comes to an end.

At the beginning of the next Yuga, the Treta, the Universe is no longer as simple and straightforward as it was in the Krita. According to the Puranas, Dharma, as symbolized by a bull, which stood on all its four feet to securely support the earth, is left with only three feet in the Treta Yuga. In this state of relative instability, man requires knowledge and also some administrative authority, in order to sustain Dharma. That is why man is provided with a Veda and a king at the beginning of Treta. This is also the time when Mada, Moha, Lobha and Ahankara, etc., appear for the first time. But at the beginning of Treta these frailties of the human mind are as yet only in their nascent state, and thus can be controlled relatively easily.

In Treta the needs of life start multiplying. Life can no more be lived now on mere ‘Madhu’. But there is no agriculture yet. Some cereals grow without any ploughing and sowing, etc. These cereals and the fruits of a few varieties of self-growing trees suffice for the maintenance of life. There are not many varieties of trees and vegetation yet. Differentiation has not yet gone that far.

In this Yuga of limited needs and requirements, man starts learning some skills and acquiring a few crafts and techniques. Some skill and technique are required for the gathering of cereals and fruits, even if these grow on their own without any effort. At this stage man also starts forming homes, Gramas and cities. For these human settlements some more skills, crafts and techniques are called forth.

With increasing complexity of the Universe, differentiation sets in. In Treta man is divided into three Varnas. Brahmana, Kshatriya, and Vaisya Varnas are formed in the Treta. But there are no Sudras yet. In spite of this differentiation and division, communication between various forms of life is not yet obstructed. Dialogue between man and other creatures is still possible.

The events described in the Valmiki Ramayana happen towards the end of Treta. In the Ramayana, Sri Rama is seen communicating with facility with the birds of the forest, and with various animals. He calls upon the Vanaras and Bhalus, probably meaning monkeys and bears etc., to help him in defeating the great scholar and warrior Ravana. The story of Ramayana probably indicates that till the end of Treta communication between man and other creatures had not stopped. There was differentiation between the various forms of life, but it was not so deep so as to foreclose all possibilities of contact and dialogue.

Treta also lasts a very long time. But the duration of Treta is only three fourths that of the Krita. According to some texts, Treta ends with the departure of Sri Rama from earthly existence. And, then the third Yuga, the Dvapara begins. What is known as history in the Indian perception also seems to begin with Dvapara. In Dvapara the Universe has moved very far from the easy simplicity of the Krita. All living beings and all phenomena start getting sharply differentiated. The one Veda of Treta now gets divided into four. And, then even these four acquire many branches. It is in this Yuga that various arts, skills and crafts start appearing. Knowledge gets divided and subdivided, and numerous sastras come into being.

In the complex Universe of Dvapara man needs a variety of skills and techniques in order to live. So, a large number of technologies and sciences start evolving. Agriculture also does not remain simple any more. Growing of cereals now requires a number of complex operations and great skill. Perhaps, it is to bear the multiplicity of newly evolving arts and crafts that the Sudra as a Varna comes into existence for the first time at the end of Treta or the beginning of Dvapara.4 Dvapara thus acquires the full complement of four Varnas.

Dvapara Yuga in a sense is the Yuga of the kings. Some present day scholars even reckon the beginning of Dvapara from the time of the ascendance of Sri Rama to the throne of Ayodhya. The multitude of stories about the kings that is found in the Santi-Parva of the Mahabharata, and in the other Puranas, seem to belong to the Dvapara Yuga. And, the atmosphere that prevails in these stories of the kings is quite different from the atmosphere of the Ramayana. The Ramayana period is clearly the period of the dominance of Dharma. But the kings of Dvapara seem to be always immersed in the Kshatriya-like excitement and anger. There is said to be unbounded jealousy and greed in them. Unnecessary cruelty seems to be an integral part of their mental make-up. Perhaps that is why the Puranas believe that Dharma is left with only two feet in the Dvapara. Founded on that unstable basis Dharmic life keeps on getting disrupted during the Dvapara Yuga, which is to last for half the duration of Krita.

In this atmosphere of the decay of Dharma and jealousy, greed and cruelty of the Kshatriyas, Prithvi, the goddess earth, finally approaches Vishnu with the request that He should now relieve her of this unbearable burden of creation gone astray. Then Vishnu takes birth in the form of Sri Krishna and Sri Balarama. Other gods and goddesses also appear on earth in various forms. And, after all this grand preparation the Mahabharata war happens. It is commonly believed that in the war of Mahabharata Dharma won over a-Dharma. But in spite of this victory of Dharma the coming of the Kali-Yuga cannot be stopped.

Within a few years of the culmination of the Mahabharata war Sri Krishna and the whole of his Yadava Vamsa come to their end. The event of the extermination of the Yadava Vamsa is taken to be the beginning of the fourth Yuga, the Kali Yuga. Learning of the departure of Sri Krishna from the earth the Pandavas also depart for the Himalaya, along with Draupadi, to end their lives. Thus all the protagonists of the Mahabharata war are gone. Only Parikshit, the grandson of the Pandavas, who miraculously survives the destruction wrought by the Mahabharata war, is left behind. After a short time, he too dies, of snake-bite. Parikshit is said to be the first king of the Kali-Yuga.

It is said that the Mahabharata was fought 36 years before the beginning of Kali. According to the commonly accepted modern scholarly calculations, the current year is the 5094th year of Kali. This is only the early phase of Kali Yuga. Like the other three Yugas, the Kali Yuga is also to last a long time, even though the duration of Kali is only one fourth that of Krita. The total duration of Kali is believed to be of 4,32,000 years.

The main characteristic of the Kali Yuga is that in this Yuga Dharma stands only on one foot. Dharma becomes rather unstable in Dvapara itself. But, in Kali the position of Dharma becomes precarious. In this Yuga of wavering Dharma, creation has gone much beyond the simple bliss of Krita. Complexity, division and differentiation are the norm. Mere living becomes a difficult art. Life loses the natural ease and felicity of the earlier Yugas.

But in this difficult Yuga the path of Dharma is made somewhat easier for man. The piety and virtue that accrue only through great Tapas in earlier Yugas can be earned in the Kali Yuga by simple and ordinary acts of virtue. This is perhaps due to the compassion of the creator for those caught in the complexity of Kali Yuga. This compassion generates a continuing process of balance between the state of man in the four Yugas, at least as regards his relationship with the creator. This can perhaps also be seen as the process of continuous balancing between the sacred and mundane attitudes of man.

This in short is the Indian story of creation. Most Indians form their view of the Universe and their place in it on the basis of this story. The details of this story and the style of narration vary from Purana to Purana. But the basic facts seem unvarying and are clearly etched in all renderings of this story. And according to this basic Indian understanding of creation and its unfolding, the Universe after creation constantly moves towards lower and lower levels of existence and being. The various arts and crafts, various sciences and technologies, and various kinds of knowledge arise at relatively later stages of the unfolding of the Universe. All these help to make life liveable in a Universe that has degraded to a high level of complexity. But none of these arts, crafts, sciences and technologies can change the downward direction of the Universe.

The natural tendency of the Universe to keep moving towards more and more complexity, more and more differentiation and division, and thus farther and farther away from the state of natural simplicity and bliss, cannot be halted by even the Avataras of the creator Himself. Such Avataras arrive again and again, but even they are able to restore only a degree of balance in the naturally disturbed state of the Universe. They, too, cannot reverse the march. That is why in spite of all the efforts of Sri Krishna, and His massive and far-reaching intervention in the form of the Mahabharata war, the onset of Kali Yuga can neither be stopped, nor delayed. But without the cleaning up of the burdens of Dvapara, that the great Mahabharata war achieved, the coming of the Kali might have been too much to bear for mere man.

The major lesson of the Indian story of creation is of the smallness of man and his efforts in the vast drama of the Universe that has no beginning and no end. The cosmic play of creation unfolds on a very large scale, in time cycles of huge dimensions. In that large expanse of time and Universe, neither the man living in the simple bliss of Krita, nor the man caught in the complexity of Kali, has much significance. Simplicity and complexity, bliss and anxiety keep following each other. But the play goes on.

The cycle of Chaturyuga seems big to us. It takes 43,20,000 years for the Universe to pass through this one cycle of Chaturyuga. But according to the pauranic conception a thousand such cycles, called a Kalpa, make merely one day of Brahman. After a day lasting a Kalpa, Brahman rests for the night, which too is a Kalpa long. And, then begins another Kalpa and another cycle of a thousand Chaturyuga cycles. 360 such days and nights, of a Kalpa each, make a year of Brahman. Brahman lives a life of a hundred years. And, then another Brahman arrives and the play starts all over again. In these cosmic cycles of the inexorable Kala what is the significance of mere man living his momentary life in some tiny corner of the Universe?