Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Dadhichi Lives

Hindu Dharma has always exhorted the sons of Mother India to sacrifice. The great epic Mahabharata has the story of the golden mongoose which showcases a family which down to the last child was ready to embrace death by hunger willingly in order to feed a stranger who has come as a guest to their house. Saivaite devotional literature tells repeatedly of the sacrifices of individuals who sacrificed their lives, their dear ones, their very vital organs including the eyes, their children without the least hesitation for the Divine. Kannapa the tribal devotee of Shiva piercing his own eyes to give it to Shiva is an enduring image in the devotional iconography of South India. 

Sister Nivedita the disciple of Swami Vivekananda was the first to design the national flag of India. In that first design of the national flag of this ancient land, she rightly introduced the Vajra – the thunderbolt – the weapon of Indra against the forces of darkness. It was the Vajra that was made by the backbone of Dadhichi. Sister Nivedita says about this design of the national flag thus:

…The gods, it is said, were looking for a divine weapon, that is to say, for the divine weapon, par excellence-and they were told that only if they could find a man willing to give his own bones for the substance of it, could the Invincible Sword be forged. Whereupon they trooped up to the rishi Dadhichi and asked for his bones for the purpose. The request sounded like mockery. A man would give all but his own life-breath, assuredly, for a great end, but who, even to furnish forth a weapon for Indra, would hand over his body itself? To the rishi Dadhichi, however, this was no insuperable height of sacrifice. Smilingly he listened, smilingly he answered, and in that very moment laid himself down to die-yielding at a word the very utmost demanded of humanity. Here, then, we have the significance of the Vajra. The Selfless Man is the Thunderbolt. Let us strive only for selflessness, and we become the weapon in the hands of the Gods. Not for us to ask how. Not for us to plan methods. For us, it is only to lay ourselves down at the altar-foot. The gods do the rest. The divine carries us. It is not the thunderbolt that is invincible, but the hand that hurls it. Mother! Mother! Take away from us this self! Let not fame or gain or pleasure have dominion over us! Be Thou the sunlight, we the dew dissolving in its heat.

One may say that these are all mythologies and legends. A skeptic may argue that in real life such sacrifices seldom happen. History has shown that the unbelievable acts of sacrifices by Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Govind Singh were vital in preserving Sanathana Dharma. A skeptic may still say that they too belonged to a bygone era and in the modern society where selfishness reigns and consumerism prevails such sacrifices may well be nothing but a figment of imagination. 

Maruthachalam and Kalavathi are daily laborers living in Coimbatore, the financial capital of Tamil Nadu. For decades they had toiled and through their sweat and sacrifices, made their son Rajagopal a computer science graduate. The boy was both intelligent and patriotic. After graduating he joined a software firm in Coimbatore. He was also a leader in the local BJP unit. On September 4th 2013 Rajagopal met with an accident when driving his two-wheeler. Unconscious he was taken to a hospital nearby. Soon the parents arrived at the hospital. The parents were informed by the chief physician of the hospital that their young boy, hope of their future has suffered brain death. The parents struck as they were by this monumental tragedy, at their moment of extreme grief made a decision of supreme sacrifice. The boy's two eyes were donated to 'Arvind Eye Hospital'. His liver, heart and kidneys were also donated to different ailing patients. One of his kidneys provided a new life to a Muslim sister. That the parents even at this moment of grief decided to act with such a sense of sacrifice should make even the toughest of the skeptics stand up and take notice that in this land of Dadhichi, the tradition continues to this day. Rajagopal's parents when they decided to give the body parts of their son to provide healed lives to the ailing humanity have made us all aware of the lineage of sacrifice into which each one of us is born. In this 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda let us all salute these great parents and let us rededicate ourselves to the national ideal of sacrifice which Swamiji emphasized again and again in his soul stirring words:

Who will give the world light? Sacrifice in the past has been the Law, it will be, alas, for ages to come. The earth's bravest and best will have to sacrifice themselves for the good of many, for the welfare of all. Buddhas by the hundred are necessary with eternal love and pity.

Aravindan Neelakandan

Yuvabharati : Voice of Youth : October 2013