Archive for October, 2009


October 28, 2009

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

This morning( 28 Oct 09) in Kabul, Afghanistan there were a number of bomb blasts and explosions of possibly IEDs or Improvised Explosive Devices that may be more deadly than the TNT or ordinary explosives. About 6 AM just before the crack of dawn, five or six Taliban terrorists entered a UN guest house where foreign employees of the United Nations were billeted. The guest house is located near the Presidential Palace of Hamid Karzai in a high security zone. There was a lot of gunfire of automatic weapons accompanied by explosions. Six to seven foreigners were killed on the spot and on top of that three UN employees were also done to death. In a separate incident the Taliban terrorists attacked a hotel frequented by foreigners and destroyed whatever they could lay their hands on. The sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard much after the security forces and the Afghan police had arrived on the scene.
The Taliban terrorists took the responsibility of this carnage and also said that this was just a curtain raiser of the actual play of theirs that they were staging just ten days before the run off of the presidential polls. Apparently the terrorists have the upper hand in Afghanistan and not only call the shots but can strike at will wherever and whenever they wish to. Capital city Kabul with numerous security rings is no exception. One may recall that the US forces led NATO have been in Afghanistan for eight years now and there have been many think tanks advising the local commanders how to prosecute the war. There is neither dearth of arms and ammunition nor of transport facility with the NATO forces. And yet the rag-tag local militia of Afghans is neither overawed nor deterred by the might of America. It is the US four- star general who petitions his President for a surge of forces to the tune of 40,000.The President of the United States is dithering. The Afghans may be aided and abetted by other terror groups from Pakistan, Chechnia, Palestine and so on but they have not gone public with the crying need for more militants or modern weapon system. It is a point to ponder.
President George Bush had decided to intervene in the situation then obtaining in Afghanistan. The ghastly attacks on the American twin towers in New York had taken place and it dealt a massive blow to the American prestige besides causing loss of life and property. The American Intelligence gave proof that the 9/11 attack on America was planned by the Al Qaida, assisted by the Taliban, in Afghanistan by foes of America led by Osama bin-Laden. It was, therefore, decided to destroy the haven of terror so that there is no repetition of 9/11 attack. After arrival of the US forces, the terror hub shifted to Pakistan from Afghanistan and the present friends of Americans, that is Pakistan aided and abetted the dreaded foe, the Al Qaida and the Taliban. The Pakistan Army even provided a safe passage to the Al Qaida and the Taliban from the Tora-Bora caves in Afghanistan to the new haven in AFPAK borders. The difficult terrain there became a safe shelter for the Islamist terrorists. The situation is no different now. Osama roams around in those hills, dales, ravines and dry creeks as a free man. The Pakistan government accepted huge amounts of American money without delivering the goods. The main aim of Pakistan was to gain modern weapon system and money that it could use against India as it had been doing all along. Thus what commenced as a HALAL turned into a HARAM because of Pakistan’s intentions to cheat on their friend, USA. The Americans could see through the Pakistan’s game but they had no choice as they needed an Islamic country to support them in staying on in Afghanistan and Iraq. The nagging doubt about intention of Pakistan lingered on. Indeed that explains so many riders on the massive aid to Pakistan now in 2009, mainly to ensure that it is used for fighting against terror, and not for stockpiling arms and ammunition to be used against India at a later date.
Selection of AIM is the most important factor before going to war. Maintenance of AIM is equally important. Having done that the commanders at all levels and subsequently the troops have to plan, prepare and prosecute WAR on TERROR with determination. One need not entertain doubt about the ethics of war or about the outcome of war. Doing that at any stage after the battle has been joined is like handing over the victory to the enemy on a silver platter. The commander and his soldiers have to go on fighting with determination irrespective of the strength of the enemy or the tactics that the enemy is using. Indeed, a change in the battle plan may be effected but no one should question the very idea of waging a war on terror. This kind of question will amount to blasphemy and must not be permitted. The other day an ex-Marine Captain and now a diplomat, Hoh, resigned from service because he thought that the presence of Americans in Afghanistan was promoting terrorism instead of destroying it. He wanted his country to quit the scene. What a disastrous course of action he is suggesting at this stage?
The American public back home always pressed for termination of war. “Bring the Boys Home”, that has been the slogan. One may recall that similar slogans were raised during the Vietnam war. Doubts about American success were expressed every now and then. The US forces pulled out and the Americans lost the war. The Islamist terrorists are paying attention to propaganda so that lurking doubts in American minds forces the President of the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan. The doubting Thomas would hand over Afghanistan to Islamist terrorists and Pakistan would control them as was the case after the Soviet withdrawal.
Yogeshwar Shri Krishna,agreat leader and a patriot to his finger tips, has given the most sagacious advice to a Yodha or a warrior and a Senapati or commander-in-chief like Arjuna who was dithering from killing the enemy, in these words :
Shri Krishna, a great statesman and master of statecraft advised Arjuna, the famous archer that when you join a battle, either you are slain and then your soul goes to Heaven or you win and then enjoy the fruits of victory in the form of perks and privileges offered by a State, and, therefore, arise you son of Kunti and WAGE WAR WITH DETERMINATION’.
The emphasis is on Determination – a warrior must fight and defeat the enemy. At the stage of joining a battle, one must not entertain any doubt about its legitimacy or outcome.
In Afghanistan during the last couple of years, Americans spent more time and energy about making plans to go home than on exterminating the Taliban terrorists. The Afghan war has never been considered seriously as an American war. On the other hand, the Al Qaida and the Taliban terrorists fought before and have been fighting now with determination because the Afghan war will make them or break them. Their future lies in winning the war in Afghanistan and, therefore, the terrorists have put their heart and soul in it.
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October 27, 2009


INSPIRATION INSPIRATION                            

 By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Inspiration is the root of creation. All human activity has inspiration at the grass roots level to succeed. Where does this inspiration come from? Indeed the primary source of inspiration is the Almighty Himself. Right at the beginning of the human creation, Param Pita Parmatma inspired the Rishis named Agni , Vayu , Aditya and Angira to receive the divine revelation named the VEDAS for the inspired guidance of Mankind. The Vedas – Rigveda , Yajurveda , Samveda and Atharvaveda in turn inspired pious souls of men and women to walk on the path of Righteousness. Inspiration to study the Ved mantras, meditate on them and translate the inspired study into action. Thus inspiration will ultimately translate into action. Action of one man or one woman may provide inspiration to a fellow man or woman leading to action. This action is Karma of a soul and the soul is judged by the Supreme Being on the basis of Karma. Thus Karma entails karmaphal , not only in this life but also in the life beyond death.


With a view to understanding the principle of Karma that entails Karmaphal, it is imperative to know and assimilate the doctrine of Vedic Trinity. The Vedic Philosophy visualises existence of Parmatma (God Almighty) , Jeevatma (soul) and Prakriti (matter). The existence of this Vedic Trinity is independent of each other and each of the three is Anadi and Anant – that is without a beginning and without an end. Their existence is forever. The Almighty makes use of Matter for Creation where the Soul acts on its own. In other words, Jeevatma is free to do a Karma or even not to do it. Indeed the result of the Karma will be tasted by the jeevatma alone as it was absolutely free to act or not to act. Parmatma presides over the entire activity and interaction of the soul and the Matter in a detached manner. He does not partake of any fruits of Creation nor does He oversee the Karma of the Jeevatma. Should the Almighty do that, He will become involved with the Karma of the Jeevatma and become disabled as a Judge of human action or for award of Karmaphal. A mantra of the Rigveda makes this part of the Vedic philosophy crystal clear. The 20th mantra of the 164th sukta of the First Mandala of the Rig Veda runs thus:

  Dua suparna sayuja sakhaya samanam vriksham parishasvajate ,

  Tayoranyah pippalam suadvuattyanashnannanyo abhi chakashiti.

The tree is Prakriti and the two birds are Parmatma and Jeevatma. Only Jeevatma is partaking of the fruit of the Matter or prakriti and the other bird, Parmatma, is presiding over the goings on judiciously and with absolute detachment. Indeed the doctrine of the Vedic Trinity is beautifully brought out by this Veda mantra.

It would be appropriate to mention that the Almighty is not the source of inspiration for thieves or robbers or murderers. Perhaps that explains why denizens of the nocturnal world evolved their own mumbo-jumbo and also Deities before launching sinister operations. That explains why such operators and law breakers fell in the lap of Tantriks and not the Veda purohit. Logically speaking, if Parmatma gives inspiration for Karma or Akarma, It is He who will reap what He sows and not the Jeevatma. In that case He cannot preside over dispensation of justice in the form of Karmaphal and will be unable to maintain a detached status.


Delving deep into realm of life and letters one finds that Inspiration was invariably present as the root of creative literature. It was so in olden days and it is so in the present times. Indeed the inspiration is positive in some cases while in others it emanates from a negative source. Let us take a look at the life and letters of some prominent men and women who made a mark on the fleeting sands of time. We recall them and their works of literature because they were themselves inspired souls and also inspired other souls without expecting a farthing in return.


Rishi Vishwamitra is labelled as the aadi kavi or the very first poet that mankind produced. And it was rightly so. One fine morning he saw a bird ( termed kronch pakshi) being shot with an arrow and heard its heart rending cries while it was writhing in excruciating pain. The plaintive sounds of its mate touched the heart of the Rishi, more than the cries of the dying bird. Rishi Vishwamitra broke into a poetic couplet spontaneously. Indeed it is recorded as the first ever poetic composition in the history of Sanskrit literature. The Rishi said that the Nishad or the hunter would never get peace of mind as by his reckless act he had separated the sexually surcharged pair of birds. Generation after generation students of Sanskrit literature draw inspiration from that event and literary creation.

Kalidas, the evergreen poet and dramatist of Sanskrit literature, drew his inspiration to become a scholar-writer from the insulting behaviour of his wife, Vidyotama, a vidushi or a scholar in her own right, when she threw him out of the marital bed because she had been tricked into marrying an illiterate cowherd by jealous men of letters who conspired to avenge their literary defeat at her hands. Kalidas took that insulting behaviour of his bride of one night to his heart, prayed for knowledge, acquired it through hard work amounting to Tapasya and matured into a playwright par excellence. That story of a moron maturing into a consummate playwright called Kalidas illustrates what inspiration can do to transform a pygmy into a giant. Never mind the sad circumstances that turned into a source of inspiration that gave Bharat a literary colossus called Kalidas. Shakespeare, the bard from Stratford-on-Avon pales into insignificance before Kalidas, so say some literary critic.

Tulsidas, the great Hindi poet of sixteenth century who composed Ram Charit Manas, drew his inspiration to dedicate his life to the Muse to let the common man learn the story of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram in the lingua franca of rural folks, Awadhi. Once again it was the insulting behaviour of his wife who denied him the exercise of conjugal rights in marital bed and instead exhorted him to think of and write about the life and times of Shri Ram and thus carve out a niche for himself in history. Tulsidas took it to heart, and thus inspired devoted his entire life to composing his epic work, Ram Charit Manas. Kings and commoners respect him alike and draw inspiration from his life of dedication.

It was a lowly mouse eating goodies meant for Lord Shiva in a temple in Tankara that set the ball rolling for search of a real Shiva by a 14 year old boy named Mool Shankar. The inspiration to seek the Saccha Shiva transformed the life of Mool Shankar and made him Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj. The inspired Dayanand Saraswati unfolded the Vedas and translated the mantras into Hindi for the common man. Women were the biggest beneficiaries of the celibate ascetic when he decreed that men and women had equal rights to read, recite and meditate on the Veda mantras. Thus the triumph at Tankara led to a social and religious reform of gigantic proportions. A spark of inspiration had developed into a colossal flame that lighted the life of millions of men and women around the globe.


It is for the Acharya or the teacher to detect the spark in the students. It is for the teacher and the taught to work jointly to nurture that spark. Proper environment, will to excel and providing an opportunity to the bud-like inspiration to blossom into a fragrant flower combine together to make a Man out of the raw material born in the form of a baby. Indeed the Sanskaras of the life or lives heretofore in previous births do come into play. Coupled with the Sanskaras of the present life provide an opportunity to nurture the Inspiration. Let us walk on the path of Righteousness as shown by the divine revelation called the Vedas and become good human beings that help the human society develop and ever be on the path of progress.

Thus the injunction of the Vedas will be followed and the goal achieved. The Vedas say  MANURBHAV  MANURBHAV and let us obey and be just Manushya.


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October 26, 2009

By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Pashyema Sharadah Shatam – the Vedic prayer for Perception for one hundred years flashed across my mind when an eye surgeon suspected Glaucoma developing in my right eye. O God! Save me from darkness and lead me unto light, I silently prayed. Haven’t I been praying for an unclouded perception and a clear vision all my life? Indeed I have lived a life for scores and 15 years and lived well. Also, I have been entertaining hope of an additional score and five years to help me achieve the goal of becoming a centenarian. And now a verdict of suspected blindness was looming large. My dreams came crashing down; a sinking feeling set in, more than that of men, women and children on the Titanic. I found shelter in the lap of history.

Milton came to my mind. I recalled every line of his poem “On His Blindness.’’ Like Milton I thought I thought perhaps there was no way out but to resign to the will of God. I shuddered. Will inertia grip me now? Wouldn’t I hear birds sing unknown sweet songs on my morning walks because I won’t be able to go on a morning walk. I shall not be able to emulate Hazlitt in singing and dancing while walking in the midst of suburban flora. “Depression’’ a word banished from my life style long ago now made a surreptitious backdoor entry. Not for long, though.

John Milton came to my rescue rather quickly. On going blind in both eyes, he found the bright world turning into a dark abyss. Thereafter, he could not perceive a role for himself in the divine scheme. Nevertheless, he did not let the monster named “depression’’ have the better of him and sought solace in his new philosophy of life that gave birth to comforting words “they also serve who stand and wait.’’

Cheer up old boy! so said my soul, overriding the body. In the Vedic Sandhya pronounced twice a day we pray for Perception. I comforted myself by my own thought that if I am shut out of the outer perception the inner one is still mine. The “Inward Eye’’ has the capacity to perceive much more than the outer eye. I just prayed for Perception. Someone whispered into my ears that prayers are answered.

Not long ago, I had visited the Lake District in the United Kingdom to be close to my favourite poet William Wordsworth. Now it was his turn to encourage me with his perception of the Inward Eye. Wordsworth too had bouts of “vacant or pensive moods,’’ and then it was his inward eye that brought the cheering and dancing daffodils to him. Indeed, the Dancing Daffodils lifted his spirits. Wordsworth danced with the dancing daffodils when he saw “ten thousand daffodils at a glance.’’ Indeed, his inward perception was powerful to bring about a change for the better. It is the inward perception that exhorts all of us to believe in the thought “tomorrow will be another day.’’ Of course, one may add tomorrow maybe a brighter day.

Bharat is a country rich with folklore of Rishis and men of letters who were visually challenged. Some were born blind and some became blind early in life for one reason or the other. Nevertheless the inward perception of a spiritual life remained with them as bright and clear as it could ever be. Rishi Virjanand guru of Swami Dayanand Saraswati (founder of the Arya Samaj) was foremost among blind men with rich spiritual perception. He was a seer capable of interpreting Ved Mantras for the common man. Born in Punjab, he found Mathura as his karmbhoomi where he rose to find an honourable place in the galaxy of grammarians who interpreted Ashtadhyayee of Panini. The maturing of his inner perception to the dizzy heights was through Tapasya. Magnificent indeed!

Surdas, doyen among Hindi poets of the Bhakti cult was blind by birth. He developed his inner perception through Sandhya, Sanyam and Sadhna. His was a selfless devotion to the Almighty whom he received in the form of Bal Krishna. It is said that Surdas realised and felt the presence of the Parmatma around him through Upasna – sitting close to God through meditation. Surdas prayed for perception of the highest order and indeed the Lord answered his prayers. His poems on Bal Krishna are sung by men and women as an invocation and also for showing the path to attain Moksha through Bhakti. Inward perception works wonders when the outward perception is conspicuous by its absence.

God is kind. After I have had a bird’s eye view of what life would be minus the light in the eye, I suddenly found that my prayers were answered too. It is through meditation and pranayam that the bug bear of blindness is receding. Of course the Prayer for Perception – both inward and outward goes on in the right earnest. PASHYEMA SHARADAH SHATAM.
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October 26, 2009

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