Upashama

Krishna Dvaipayana was brought to life for a purpose. He was destined to compile thousands of sacred insights — new and old — from sages (Rishies) to super sages (Maharishis); and rearrange the hymns into four foundational volumes. Four books of most ancient wisdom known to mankind — Vedas. For this legendary work, he was conferred the title of Ved Vyasa — the chief editor of Vedas. This, in itself, was virtuous enough to dedicate a life-time, but his real goal was even bigger. Immensity of his purpose, rightly made him one of the 'immortal eights' in Hindu tradition.

This narrative is a tiny window on the locale and the events of that time. The ‘time’, when our ancestors laid the foundations of our present — our modern civilization. Long before time-keeping became a thing. I thought it was essential to reflect on this history, because knowledge rests in the context.

Krishna not only edited four Vedas, he also scribed eighteen Puranas. And he wrote the master piece Jaya (Victory) — that was later expanded into a mega-epic Mahabharata — his own family biography. Mahabharata is the longest written poetic expression ever — in any language, old or new. The epic formed the cultural basis of the oldest civilization. It holds with in it, center-folded, the ‘knowledge’ that salvages humans from tyranny — Gita — the idea of Karma and Karm Yoga.

In a way, the intelligence of Vedas morphed into Mahabharata in a fictional format. Probably, after writing Vedas, Krishna felt knowledge must be told as a story for public consumption. He made sure, the narrative he told, wasn't mere a flight of fantasy. It must be rooted in physical reality. While Vedas are a collection of ancient wisdom, in Jaya, he wrote, what he saw — the truth. That might be the reason, even after thousands of years, the Mahabharata remains relevant — as interesting as the day it was written. A timeless artifact, because truth, like gold, never fades.

Krishna's literary work was no accident. He came from the lineage of scholarly sages. His father Maharishi Parāśara wrote many scriptures, that include Brihat Parāśara Hora — foundational work on Astrology (Jyotish), Krishi Parāśara — his insights on Agriculture (Krishi), Vrkayurveda — the first book on botany, and Vishnu Purana — spoken words at how the universe evolved. They get even more impressive when we look at the difficult conditions they were written in.


Seven months before Parāśara's birth, Bramh-rishi Vaśiṣṭha — his grand father — woke up to a grotesque morning. His sprawling congregation (Ashrama), on the banks of river Yamuna, sunk into deepest of grief. His son Śakti Muni, along with all the faculty and students, was killed by a tribal self-proclaimed king. Some religious accounts say Bramh-Rishi had one hundred sons taken that fateful morning. They probably mean Bramh-rishi treated all his followers, particularly the faculty members, like his own sons or daughters.

Only Bramh-rishi himself, and young wife of Śakti Muni survived the massacre. The seat of knowledge, in India's foremost pilgrimage destination Mathura, was in free blood-bath. In today's parlance, it would be as if someone killed everyone on Google campus. Hundreds of knowledge bearers left dead. Not even their wives were spared. Even children didn't get a plea for mercy.

Saddened to the core, and unaware that the young widow was carrying, Vaśiṣṭha tried to commit suicide. He survived multiple attempts. Probably Gods wanted to extend his life to make sure, unborn Parāśara got a chance at life. And more importantly, to save humanity from the loss of the 'knowledge' that was locked in Bramh-rishi's mind, for there was no written text.

If we assume modern civilization a Tesla, then what Vaśiṣṭha had invented 1 was ‘literally’ the wheels. The core knowledge — agriculture, metallurgy, transport, to name a few — down to the very meaning of the five elements. Pieces of entire wisdom were sharded in the collective memory of the congregation. Only Vaśiṣṭha knew it all. The only ‘full back up’ was his mind. If it took us say five thousand years from the wheel to a car, it had probably taken fifty thousand to evolve the ‘wheels’, for knowledge is never a straight line. It is a curve that curls up exponentially with time. Had Vaśiṣṭha died, humanity would have gone back into stone ages, and quite possibly perished into a dark future, for success against cruel forces of nature was a bleak chance — one in a trillion — may be even less.

Survival was not a question here! Even animals ‘survived’ to date! At stake was ‘our civilized world’ — driven by centralized network of knowledge, to unlock the mysteries of the universe. We are obviously not there yet, but we now have the tools to make an attempt. This collective core networking protocol is what we refer to as Bramh in tradition of Bramh-rishi Vaśiṣṭha. The entirety of or our ‘intelligent’ system is based on this ‘network’ of knowledge. Each one of us has a tiny piece of knowledge decrypted in our minds, collectively we manifest a knowledge base that targets to understand all that is out there. Our perceivable universe is just one application of this networking ‘protocol’, just like ‘internet’ is one application of the TCP/IP protocol.2. Connected computers can do lot more than 'internet'.

You may ask why did this happen? That is a valid question. The history books have many conflicting answers. Even bigger question for the historians is ‘when’ did it happen! These questions are, however, meaningful only if we first understand what was being protected! And the context. A rather naive question is why didn't they put a date on those discoveries? I have an equally naive answer! In that world, before the written word, when only way to sustain knowledge was to memorize it, last thing anybody cared was the ‘metadata’ — such as date, or time, or even the name of the inventor. No one knows who came up first with solution to the hard problems — how to start a fire? — how to preserve the seeds? — how to use rivers for transport? — how to add horsepower to a loaded cart? These solutions evolved over thousands of years. It, however, didn't mean no credit was given to the true inventors. Instead of mentioning every individual name, groups were formed to express gratitude. For example, all those who contributed in water works, irrigation, and agriculture were represented by a single name Indra. All those who invented fire and the ways to contain fire - who contributed in mining and metallurgy; were named Agni. These groups, represented by a single name were called deities and were treated like demigods.

The superfluous information (metadata) was purged as soon as possible. Simply because the storage space was limited. Think of this basic ‘knowledge’ as tiny kernel that must fit in at least one human mind — our distinction from the rest of the species. This knowledge must be kept as small (and real time) as possible. Things that we take for granted today, only few human minds could handle at that time. Thus, only that knowledge carried forward that was put to use every day (survival skills), or was (forcefully) recited on daily basis — to cumulate and keep the knowledge fresh. Thus, no one knows the exact date but we know for sure, that piece of eternal code lies in our foundation. And the fact we succeeded to tame the forces of nature, and that we built increasingly complex systems of money, security, computing, health etc ; is a testament that our core kernel is flawless — as if it was a gift of deities.

As far as ‘why’ — the simple answer is, congregation was rich. The legend says Bramh-rishi had a magical cow (Kaam Dhenu) that gave him everything he asked for; but the truth is magical cow was the ‘Knowledge’. Knowledge attracts wealth — be it Apple or Google of our times or the Ashramas of past. Vaśiṣṭha's Ashram was by far the biggest research institute of that time. They were the designers of tiny kernel. Many jealous eyes were set on the plush ‘wealth and peace’ of the congregation — material as well as intellectual.

And that was also the reason for intense focus on recital. Memories couldn't be stolen. We are advised to memorize our passwords! No one imagined or planned the scenario of such a nihilistic attack. No one had provisioned redundancy at the network level. The attack was on ‘knowledge’ — on Kaam dhenu — the modern way of knowledge driven life that provisioned everything one asked for, and created a ‘human fork’ in otherwise ‘planet of apes’. And the attackers were Apes (Rakshsas)3, who didn't want to subscribe to the idea of a systemic change in human approach to civilization.

Before the ‘written word’ became the mainstream mechanism to preserve literature, scriptures were passed on as Shruti — the spoken word. A choir of reciters chanted the hymns (Richas and Mantras) whole day long — from the early morning to the late evening. Certain mantras must be recited at a specific time of the day, and at a specific place. Some of them must be performed in front of the holy fire — rites. Composers, a level-above the reciters, helped them get the pronunciation right and attune a Vaidik elocution style. And finally the editors Vyasas were responsible for the content. Vyasas were there to make sure the spoken content was current, accurate and in exact line with the messages of sages and super sages. Their stated objective was to keep the knowledge current and distributed over as many human minds as feasible — a trustless block chain of knowledge distributed over biological nodes. Vyasas ran carefully designed distribution and consensus protocols.


Aging Bramh-rishi, with his sons lost, found hope in Parāśara. Legend says Parāśara showed tremendous intelligence right from the early age. Exaggerations point that he recited hymns in his mother's womb. That said, Vaśiṣṭha had little hope elsewhere. As Parāśara was growing, Vaśiṣṭha rebuilt the congregation ground-up. New students, new methods of teaching. This time he wanted to scribe the scriptures to safeguard against another similar catastrophe. Young Parāśara had the advantage of full attention of his grand father but life for him was not easier than any other student. In fact, he was expected to fill much bigger shoes. He must fast track the typical learning path.

A typical path for an aspiring student (Vidyarathi) seeking a degree in the authentic scriptures (Shaastras) was to join a congregation (Ashrama), on a full-time live-in basis. Life in an Ashrama was not easy. A student was expected to follow a tight celibate routine, full of chores and service before s/he got to the lessons. S/he must prove s/he was worthy of the knowledge. Then only s/he would make it to the choir. Chores and menial tasks were considered mandatory to mellow down (or even eradicate) exaggerated notion of ˝self˝ and be one with the ˝word˝. The wealth of congregation didn't make it easier for the students. Parāśara didn't get a free pass when it came to the rigor. Quite the opposite — he had to double up.

A degree holder was called a Snataka. A Snataka needed to go through rigorous years of apprenticeship with a teacher Aacharya to become certified in administering ‘rites’, when s/he was called a Shastri — someone who knew scriptures. At that stage, s/he could leave to spread the rites in cities and villages far, or become an Aacharya — the teacher — based on her inclination and the rigor s/he wanted to put in. Only few Aacharya with demonstrable authority on all the known scriptures would get to the coveted title of Vyasa. In nutshell, there was a whole organization to moderate, curate and to disseminate the audio content — to make sure the knowledge was passed-on (without distortion), to seekers in current generation, and the next.

There was another path available to students if recital wasn't their strong suite — research — seeking knowledge (Nyana). This path demanded lot more patience and sacrifice! If someone was keen to take on research, after graduating as a Snataka, s/he would choose a major in a specific field. The hard work on this path was called Sadhna meaning extreme focus on a specific goal (Sadhya). One who accomplished her goal was called Sidhah.

Such a path led to titles such as Rishi — a sage; and Maharishi — a super sage. These titles were given by the community of researchers based on the body of work or the insights one brought to the world — A complete meritocracy. The spoken insights of such sages were adapted into ‘rites’ by Vyasas — to disseminate and to preserve the knowledge. Rites were a foolproof method to embed these insights into public discourse.

Rites were conducted to invoke natural powers of the elements with human intelligence. For example, metallurgy and irrigation were outcomes of such rites. In essence a rite was a laid down controlled procedure that led to a specific outcome. Given the rudimentary level of knowledge, many things could go wrong. There were many unknowns because knowledge had yet not turned into ‘engineering‘. All the unknowns in a specific endeavour were symbolized by a ‘deity’ ‘Deity’ was worshipped to enhance the chances of success. Or to reduce the chances of mishaps. In a way, the faith in a ‘deity’ was nothing more than hoping for the best outcome. Hope remains a powerful driver to this date. Human journey is a journey of hope.

A rite known as Dravya Yazna was popular among rich and powerful. It entailed sharing homage with deities in return of speculative material gains. Drvya in Sanskrit, means material. Thus, Drvya Yazna literally meant the rites performed for material gains. For example a rite performed for more rain (by appeasing the deity of rain) was a type of Drvya Yazna. So was a rite performed to seal a wedlock with an expectation to have the happy matrimony last till death. The effectiveness of Dravya Yazna was questionable but the essence was to bring formal rigor of ‘research’ to the masses. It also well served another goal — to fund the research.

The formalization of family rituals into Dravya Yazna — sanitization of space (shuddhikaran), holy fire (Agni), intonations in carefully perfected ensemble (mantrochhaar), the time and the place (Dasha and Disha), and the specific order of homage to various deities (Aahuti); served two purposes. First it became a formal auspicious way to celebrate certain life events — such as child birth, marriage, retirement and even death. Second, it created an interaction platform between the ones who were seeking a higher purpose and the affluent who hosted the rituals for material gains. After the rite, there used to be an abridged message read by the ritual maker, in local dialect, to explain the relevant scripture, followed by QnA sessions — more you ask, more you please the deity.

The hosts got the satisfaction of pleasing the deities while the ritual makers got plush mandatory donations — grain, cattle, precious metals. A big share of donations went to the central congregation. The source of wealth for the congregation. Many millennia later, the model still works in India. The classical music is still learnt in Gharanas — a diluted version of Ashramas. Each with their own style of renditions. The singers graduated from a specific Gharana of classical music, say Hindustani Sangeet have a life long bond to their origins and a source of continued alumni support.

Dravya Yazna was a carefully thought out intervention to keep the society in certain checks and balances and to incentivize the ones who were dedicating their lives to carry forward the ‘pre-scientific’ exploration. The research was not limited to spirituality or meditation. It was well organized learning process that paved the way for scientific discovery in fields such as medicine, agriculture, irrigation, construction and many more. Krishna wrote later in Bhagvad Gita — a central piece of epic Mahabharata — that the idea of formalization of rituals in this format, was institutionalized by Praja Pati. Many religious accounts believe Praja Pati is a name for Brmha himself, who coded the basic laws of civilization and whose idea seven Bramh-rishis adopted as inheritance from father to son. Others believe Praja Pati is a deity responsible for administering the realm. Whichever point of view we may consider, the literal meaning of the word is self-evident. It means one who sustains the community. Praza means the subscribers of a system, Pati means one who takes care or owns those subscribers.

Krishna wrote in chapter 3 of Gita :-

Saha [along with] Yajnah [ritual of actions] Prajah [community of followers] Srishtva [having created], Pura [previously anciently] Uvacha [explained] Praja-patih [Bramha himself, or a demigod in Hindu scriptures responsible for administering the realm ];

Anena [this way] Prasvisydhvam [having attained more prosperity] Esah [through this] Vah [they] Astu [stayed as] Ishta [desired things] Kama-dhuk [owner who enjoys his blessings].

Previously, in the ancient times, Prajapati institutionalized Yazna — ritual of actions, and explained it to a community of followers. Practicing this as a framework to build new skills — mining, metallurgy, agriculture, trading etc. or adopting it as Dravya Yazna for public engagement; they all got their necessities (and niceties) and stayed satiated.

Rites were baked in reality. For example someone starting an agricultural season, would conduct a ritual that underscored the right methods of sowing seeds, irrigation and harvesting. Someone starting a business would conduct a ritual that emphasized the accounting principles. The ritual maker who officiated a wedding must be someone who deeply understood the responsibilities a couple was taking on when getting into a wedlock — the vows. And one conducting a ritual after someone's death must be proficient in making the grief easier — like a therapist. Since all such endeavour had a significant risk of failure, there was nothing wrong in having blessings of Godly deities on your side. Humility was considered a virtue and it remains so even in the biggest scientific missions to date.

Re-instituting this age-old audio based model was easy for someone like Bramh-rishi Vaśiṣṭha for the know-how to set up this channel was already in his possession. However, textification of scripture was lot harder than he envisaged. For one, the core infrastructure was not in place — the tools for writing long texts were just not there. It was one thing to write a short, cryptic pigeon message but writing a scripture was a whole new territory. Humanity had yet not discovered paper. There was no standard long-lasting ink. Above all, there was no standard Grammar. It will be hundreds of years before Panini — a grammarian par excellence, standardized the Sanskrit grammar. More importantly, there was no commercial payback mechanism associated with text.

He thought his grandson Parāśara now reaching maturity, would take on this challenge. Little did he know that focus on texting the scriptures, would create a dual among his own followers.


The craft of reciting mantras with an ascetic lifestyle purposed for a singular focus on diction, was called Naad Yoga. This yoga, like many others, must be practiced with a strict daily routine (Bramhacharya). The idea was to tune human body into the skill of understanding, memorizing and chanting by removing all the external material distractions. On the other hand, the devotion to exploration and research (in chosen faculties) was called Nyaan Yoga. The meaning of Yoga is to connect with, and to tap into our internal energy. A Nyaan Yogi would harness the inner energy in the pursuit of knowledge. A Naad Yogi would do the same for the purpose of rendition and expression. Both were complimentary to each other. There was no point in cumulating knowledge if it was of no use to the masses, or couldn't be preserved over generations. Similarly, there was nothing to recite if it didn't carry specific knowledge. Thus, Naad Yogies worked in close interaction with Nyaan Yogies. The role of Vyasa was of utmost importance in holding these two streams of Yoga together. It was like a bridge between knowledge and expression. Hence, a very sought after title and one that needed dexterity in both. In a way Vyasas controlled the flow of information — somewhat like the editors of main stream media these days. What will go to public consumption, what remains in annuls of obscurity. With great power comes the conflict. Some Rishies wanted to make their work imperishable by committing it to a text format. But such attempts were doomed for the written language was not standardized. And writing tools were still in early stage of development.

A rich host would select a ‘rites administrator’ to perform Dravya Yazna on his (or her) behalf because s/he knew the ritual maker didn't want any of the material things s/he was investing her time and money — an assurance that all the blessings would come directly to the host (without any cut). In a way, rites were the market place between humans and their deities where a Naad Yogi acted like an intermediary. Humans invested their allegiance, time and money while deities provisioned things they wanted in the return. No one knew for sure if the market place actually worked but it was a matter of belief and it worked for those who believed in it. But more than the apparent divine exchange, the arrangement funded the entire ‘knowledge ecosystem’. The rich hosts and the powerful, as patrons, provided enough alms and homage to allow Yogies invest their time in material as well as spiritual research. This primary research led to ground breaking discoveries and insights that influenced at least four major religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; along with hundreds of factions that thrive in South Asia and beyond. Not only religion, it also formed the primitive basis of science that includes linguistics, mathematics, cosmology, medicine, surgery and lot more. It was like the "open source" movement of our time. Yogies shared their knowledge free of charge and lived on donations hence collected.

The formalization of rituals ensured the knowledge stayed immutable over the course of passage from one generation to the next. Imagine a world without written word — no books, no libraries and of course no internet. In that world, Naad Yogies were the vessels of knowledge. The literal meaning of word Naad is a dense voluminous sound produced from the bottom of lungs. Aacharyas and Shastries were essentially Naad Yogies. Through years of practice and sacrifice, they had learned to hold life energy in heart and throat Chakras — The seat of compassion and expression. And a proof of being distinct from rest of the species. Other species held the life energies in lower two Chakras namely — Swadhishthana — the Chakra of sexuality and Manipuraka — the Chakra of consumption. By moving the energy upwards, sometimes also referred to as raising Kundalini, Naad Yogies separated humanity from animal kingdom, while still being a seeker of peace (and prosperity) for all the species. By bringing life force to throat, Naad Yogies perfected the art of repeatable public recital making it an ‘art of expressions’. If your interest is peaked in what kind of renditions were these, I recommend listening to this one-minute clip of Shanti Mantra from Brahmin priest Santosh Mudgal here. Notice the stresses on the syllables and over all elocution. Vaidik elocution is a complete genre of rendition just like the gospel music in the west.

There was no “generally” cherished art of 'writing'. The primary use of written word was to send telegrams through pigeons. Short, cryptic and perishable.

Some researchers of knowledge — Nyaan Yogies, did consider the idea of converting the Mantras into text format — even before Bramh-rishi, for obvious advantages of durability and portability. What if all the Vyasas died? What if human race met its demise though epidemic, war or other extinction level events. The ancient wisdom must be preserved beyond human shelf life. Those questions existed, but without the comfort of a Mac, “writing” was a herculean task! There were some bold attempts. Some early adopters wrote down, on dried (and smoke treated) palm leaves, but that was mostly experimental work — half-baked, grammatically obsolete and contextually incoherent. The focus was not on the content. It was on the 'writing apparatus' and to test the claims of “writing” aficionados. The advocacy on the pro-text side was the obvious notion of freedom. And the promise that the divine information could be made accessible to all. Something like the original promise of the internet!

Majority of the Vyasas and Naad Yogies didn't believe written word could ever replace the rigor and authenticity of recital. Some beneficiaries of spoken layer, even announced that efforts to ‘jail’ the wisdom into written symbols was downright demonic. Somewhat like central banks' nervousness towards crypto protocols these days! Though writing meant lot more content could be scribed, and passed on to far-flung places; but the act of writing (and reading) wouldn't invoke elemental powers — they thought !

How would you send the homage — the ghee, fruits and milk to the deities without proper ritual? — they asked !

Somehow, the ritual had gotten more important than the content. On top, writing had no payback whereas chanting meant they could perform the rites for the kings and the rich, in lieu of ‘necessities and niceties’. Rich were mandated to perform rites at least sixteen times through their life span — birth, marriage and death being the major milestone rituals. In addition, every year, they must perform a rite for the peace of their dead — Shradha. Kings had even more rituals at their hands. In all, it was a flourishing economy of rituals and ritual makers. Priests were more important than a family physician ! Kings didn't even take on a journey without discussing with their spiritual guru. Same for the war. The nexus of politics and religion is a vicious cycle. Performing priests were turning into gate keepers of power.

Writing, on the other hand, had no such incentive. There was no kindle book store, no way to barter the text. It did have a promise to democratize the information and that did appeal to some, but such people were few and far. Most felt a commoner had no reason to access the Vaidik knowledge without a qualified gate keeper. And most thought the job of a Vyasa was eternal — fully protected till the end of humanity. Those who didn't believe in rituals and thus by extension defied the Vaidik wisdom were named Asuras — a class of outspoken people just short of being a monster (Rakshsa).

New rituals were being added left right and center. A new ritual if you want to enter a new home. Another if you bought a horse and a cart. Yet another to start the harvest. Sages developing distinct artifacts of knowledge Rishies, somewhat like PhDs of our times, weren't entirely happy in current arrangement. They were not sure if adding more rituals was the right path forward. People who had attained demonstrable mastery in a specific field or indigenously developed a new area of research Maharishies, often got most of the attention from Vyasas — the editors. But new Rishies often had problems in getting their work ritualized. It was hard to get attention from the chanting community. As such, they had no way to preserve their work other than scribing it themselves.

Parāśara understood and appreciated this growing concern among budding Rishies. He also noticed the hardships of writing first-hand, when he scribed his own work Krishi Parāśara - the first book on agriculture. The work won him a title of Maharishi though it cost him better part of his prime. He wanted to invest more time on improving the ‘writing experience’. And he had one more reason for this desire — his first love — Astrology (Jyotish). Astrology was something beyond the spoken means — it needed charting various planets and stars that was hard to capture for any purely spoken language.

Astrology (Jyotish) is the old long ancestor of modern day cosmology. An astrologer could sure foretell the future, but astrology was inherently a deep understanding of space and time. Effect of motion of massive celestial bodies in space-time, on our physical reality — our tiny box. Armed with this ultimate spiritual science, they figured how to predict the effect of celestial conditions that might blossom the expression of a specific gene pool in a new born — her traits — with high degree of accuracy. Even today, in India, a priest (Pandit) would pictorially draw the state of heavenly bodies at the time of child birth, called Janmpatri — a cosmic birth chart. This document, normally kept as a scroll, details the exact position of seven main grahas (the sun, moon and five main planets), and twenty seven stars Nakshtras at the time of birth. It also details the effect of the motion of this system on the subject child's future. Even today, it is an important consideration (in many Hindu families) say to determine the suitable marital match.

An accurate rendition of this skill, by someone who knew the underlying science of Astrology well, was like controlling the “chromosomal dice”. If someone could predict child's future owing to the effect of cosmic alignment at the time of birth — Janmpatri; then s/he could reverse engineer the logic to ascertain the best time to conceive a child for a specific target future. Though such a strategy, also meant long wait for the appropriate planetary alignment — sometimes, many generations in the future. Krishna Dvaipayana was one such awaited child. His birth was planned and predicated by Maharishi Parāśara — an astrologer extraordinaire, and very rightly known as the ‘father of Astrology’. His epic book Brihat Parāśara Hora Shastra is considered the starting point of Astrology, even today.

An English translation of this epic work is embedded here below for reference ...

Maharishi Parāśara was excited at the prospect of organizing the entire wisdom and he believed written text was the way to pull off such a miraculous thing. He however had no illusions, he knew scribing the knowledge, might take more than a lifetime — that too if one was sure there exists ˝one righteous path˝ for all humans. If he was able to ascertain such a path, he must pass on his learning to his son. If his son, building on what he already knew, could further refine (and test) the truth, then that truth must be embedded into every conscious unit as part of the kernel of knowledge.

It was an ambitious and tall order for next generation — Maharishi thought — but that would be a worthy heir for his life's toil. He believed fate blessed him the skill of astrology, to ensure he found such an heir.

This was the context and challenge for Maharishi at a time when time-keeping hadn't even evolved. Time was probably measured in terms of ‘generations’ because every generation appeared to get a new version of ‘tiny kernel’. Something that made acceptance of newer ideas lot easier.


The all important question — if (or not), there exists one unique righteous path? — was a matter of regular discussion that ran deep in the family. Vaśiṣṭha, opined that there were many right paths for humans to realize their potential. He felt a farmer was as important as a priest and so was a cobbler. As a pragmatist, Vaśiṣṭha wished peace to every one no matter what path they chose. One of the reason Vaśiṣṭha was so much influential among the seven Bramh-rishies was his blend of knowledge and humility. However, his son Śakti Muni argued that even if there were many legit paths, one person, must stick to one path for if someone kept changing his course based on changing situations, how s/he is any different from animals? And how would s/he accomplish excellence?

Śakti Muni literally practiced what he preached, and he ended up giving his life for the sake of his beliefs. One version of the story of massacre states — that morning of massacre, he was en-route to river Yamuna with rest of the congregation — for the holy bath before the day breaks in — a daily routine Vaśiṣṭha had cultivated in his group. Bramh-rishi himself didn't join that morning as he was under weather. Śakti Muni's wife too didn't join due to early pregnancy sickness. That ominous morning, a tribal king Kalmashapada happened to be returning from Yamuna, with his queen and chosen body guards — drunk and sleep deprived. Apparently they had spent the night on the banks of Yamuna hunting the animals, and roasting them alive to eat with old wines. The shrieks of scared animals were audible in the silent night to Śakti Muni though his abode was quite a distance. In the morning he also got the news that king's men had taken women from the nearby village (with force) and kept them awake whole night — doing whatever they felt right to please themselves and their king.

In the morning rush hour, Śakti Muni expected Kalmashapada to clear the way for scripture mandated right of path to a sage, and demanded a sage to never give up his path. On the other side, the king, oblivious to Śakti Muni's metaphorical extension of the ideology, expected a clear path for himself and particularly his new beautiful queen. He had expected the sage would shower blessings for their new wedding. In fact, he had hoped that Śakti Muni would show up at his picnic place last night to welcome him on this side of the Yamuna. Anyways, the simple discussion turned into an altercation and out of anger, Śakti Muni cursed the king and his troupe to immediately turn into monsters — figuratively — for the monstrosity they spread throughout the night on this peaceful range. That did happen but the king, having turned into a monster, killed Śakti Muni and his team. That is what monsters do !. Story besides, Śakti Muni must have questioned the king for his abhorrent behavior (for that is the righteous path of a Nyaan Yogi) and the king was anyways a monster!

The news of the incident spread like a wild fire. Some saw it at face-value, a sudden rush of blood that went out of control. Others saw a deeper message of stars being misaligned. Many thought, it was a bigger conspiracy. Yes, conspiracy theorists existed even back then! One of the theory claimed Kalmashapada was instigated by Vishwamitra — another Bramh-rishi of the same stature as Vaśiṣṭha. No one knows the truth though Parāśara did mention this version later in Vishnu Purana.

Truth besides, young Parāśara grew in the shadows of this chatter. Such conversations obviously had a traumatic effect on his child mind. And more so, because Parāśara had a gifted imagination. For one, he developed a deep hatred for the monsters but more importantly he thought if (or not) one must stick to one's path? Or is there a subset of values that must be followed by every human no matter what path they were on. This was the first seed of Karm Yoga. As a youth, he wondered what was that ultimate wisdom? The question that laid heavy on his mind and kinda morphed into a life long quest, was to find those values and scribe them.

While Maharishi Parāśara was pondering over the ideas of Karm Yoga, there was another parallel movement happening on Naad Yoga side — Bhakti Yoga — the Yoga of extreme devotion. Many of the Aacharyas had built a mass following. Almost like a cult. Think Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of our times. Their ideas based in grand vision of public good, but the underlying goal, to (also) promote their own mote. Many walled garden were formed before the cults turned into ‘religions’ as we perceive today. The followers developed blind faith in the words of the high priests. They even translated their narratives (or discussions) into local dialects and narrated them in poetical stories. So much so, the followers started believing mere chanting the stories of their Gurus could get them to eternal peace. These narratives, mostly in spoken format, were called Puranas. In a way Puranas are essential for understanding Vedas, for they provided the historical context. As we alluded earlier, Vishnu Purana was told by Parāśara himself. He told this story to his disciple Maitreya and it is one of the most cited conversation in Hindu Mythology. Sometimes referred to as Puran-ratna — a gem among Purana.

The oldest English translation of Vishnu Purana is available at internet archives. The book was published by H. H. Wilson (in 1864) in five volumes. The first volume is embedded here for reference.

Maharishi Parāśara witnessed Bhakti Yoga evolving first-hand. The popularity of this tradition had Maharishi question the integrity of Naad Yoga itself. At the same time he would wonder if he, himself, was on right trajectory. There were many questions that still remained unanswered. Many mysteries unresolved! A Nyaan Yogi was caught in ‘duality’ — Karm Yoga or Bhakti Yoga.

Age, didn't treat Maharishi any different. He knew he must have someone to carry the torch forward. After years of careful study of motion of heavenly bodies and their co-relation with birth of human intelligence, stars were finally aligned. Maharishi Parāśara was ready to take a child as his born son. And he named him long before the physical birth — Krishna Dvaipayana — Someone who could go beyond duality just like an island between two ˝never-meeting˝ banks of a river. Someone who could establish a middle spot amongst two never concurring ideologies — for the truth lies somewhere near the center. The literal meaning of Dvaipayana is ‘born on an island’.

And he had his eyes set on Matsyagandha as prospective surrogate mother for this child.


Matsyagandha was daughter of a poor fisherman who passed away when she turned eleven, not that anyone was counting. Her mother had died in labor of her birth. No one wanted to be with her for she was labeled bad omen. Poor girl knew only one way to live in this world — ferry people across Yamuna — the mighty river, by the abode (Ashrama) of Maharishi Parāśara. Her only possession was her father's dilapidated boat. The cruelty of her fate — no one wanted to ride with her. Not only the boat was in bad shape, she herself had a pungent smell; thus the name Matsyagandha that literally meant one who smelled like fish (Matsya in Sanskrit, means fish and Gandha means fragrance).

No one had ever trained the poor girl how to ˝make-up˝ or present herself. Absolutely no training in hospitality. She used to get 'stuck and stranded' commuters when no other boat was around, normally early mornings or late evenings. And she hated it for she was scared of Yamuna in windy mornings as much as in the invisible dark nights. Many times she thought of leaving her boat to the deep waters but even death wouldn't come easy to her. No one in the village talked to her. She had no friends. No one would care to notice if she was lost from the face of Earth. The solitude of lone purposeless life made Matsyagandha spend most her time with herself, and her imagination. Back at her broken hut, she used to gaze the stars through the holes in her thatched roof. She had no formal education, yet, she honed curiosity of a writer and creativity of a poet, just by talking to herself — and the stars. And she didn't even know it. Her world had no bridge to the scriptures and none at all to the ongoing tussle between spoken word and the written text.

Maharishi Parāśara had taken her boat once, when he wanted to spend a dark night on the island middle of the mile wide Yamuna. A cursed jungle where no man wanted to go. Fishermen wanted their boats at least half a mile from the haunted space. Only Matsyagandha would take Maharishi to the island for she had no passenger in days. Maharishi was impressed with her courage though he didn't quite get the reason — she was short on basic supplies such as rice and milk. For many days, she was living on raw uncooked wild berries. And she herself was curious of the island. Many times she had thought of checking the place out, to see the demons. What worse could they be then her own fate?

As Maharishi's alighted the boat, Matsya felt his magical presence. She felt safe. And free, at the same time, as if no one was watching her. Neither pity nor lust. No one bothered by the state of her boat and even less of the stink she was oozing. As if he was totally disconnected from the ruck of her world, yet so profoundly present. Maharishi was lost in his thoughts, his eyes gazing the setting sun and then the tall ghostly trees of the island. She wondered what he was thinking — her world and his, so close yet so different.

The ride to the island was slightly downstream and the wind was favoring the back. Maharishi sat on the rear end of the boat. Matsya stood in the middle with nothing much to do except adjust the aging sails. In between she kept an eye on the passengers though today there was only one. He too, totally lost in himself. His mind sifting through random thoughts — from ancient history to the current state of affairs, and circling back. He recalled the stories of Ramayana that his grand father Maharishi Vaśiṣṭha told him growing up ; and that how uncomplicated the life was, back then...

In those ancient times leading up to days of Vaśiṣṭha, there was only one definition of truth, and rest everything was false. As the boat took to the waters, his thoughts took on the rhythm of the waves.

Life has gotten so complex these days — he thought.

Back then, if there was a conflict, scriptures were deemed as the final arbitrator. Maharishi Valmiki had defined ‘righteous’ in his epic Ramayana. It became the reference code of conduct. The narrative covered every aspect of a noble king's life Rama and as the kings adopted good lifestyle, the realm automatically fell in line. People believed in their leaders and leaders treated citizens more than their own offspring. However, too much was hinged on the righteous behavior of the king. The problem was every king couldn't be Rama. Kalmashapada, who killed his father also called himself a king. The current real king of the vast empire across Yamuna was Shantanu. He was a great administrator, but he was no Rama and he had lot more (complex) people to manage for populations were growing faster than anyone could plan for. More mouth to be fed. And hungry mouths always chatted bad of the king while praising the old kings. A miserable present always made people hopeless for the future, and also made them sing glories of the past. Which meant they started living in the past instead of focusing on present for a brighter future.

Maharishi's train of thoughts was broken by a soft but confident female sound. Matsyagandha was announcing the arrival. She was asking Maharishi to hold the boat tight while she jumped in the waters to pull the boat towards beach for there was no jetty or a formal dock out there. Maharishi found her voice very noticeable. It was a voice he had expect from a Naad Yogi after many years of recital. He let go off this thought — May be she had naturally practiced this announcement thousands of time!

As Maharishi got off the boat, he thanked Matsya. He gave her a silver coin. Matsya had never seen a silver coin before. Some passenger gave her a copper, though most just fruits or grain. There was no fixed fare. She was so happy that she offered to wait for Maharishi for the journey back.

I might stay here whole night but if you come back tomorrow at sun rise, I will be very thankful — said Maharishi.

Matsya bowed to Maharishi as a gesture of respect and promised to see him next morning. On her way back, she wondered if she hadn't asked, how he would have returned? Strange man — she thought. How could someone go to spend a night in a haunted jungle without making any plans for the safe return. Then she realized he was a Yogi. He lived in the present. He trusted the future be right if one did what one needed to do in the present. Or perhaps, he had other plans! But if he did, then why would he ask her to come back! She pushed Maharishi out of her thoughts, as the hunger took over her mind. And she was looking for a good meal tonight. She had a silver in her hand! Little did she know that Maharishi knew she would offer help if he gave her a silver coin! If she didn't then obviously he didn't make a just payment, for he believed a fair payment is something that encouraged someone to render the service again, voluntarily. He valued service!

Maharishi was planning to spend a night at the quiet island, away from the responsibilities of running a congregation. A night for thinking. He wanted to focus on thoughts that were always pushed to the back, for the daily chores took precedence. Island was not unfamiliar to Maharishi. He knew a cave very close to the beach.

After cleaning up the cave, he ate couple of seasonal fruits he had brought with him and sat on a flat stone. His thoughts now more focused. As if, he was talking to himself. Soon his breath slowed down. His eyes half closed. No one could tell if he was awake or asleep. He transcended into a Samadhi. His thoughts played in his eyes like a virtual reality. His mind busy in capturing the 'clarity' and saving it into his memory.

With the improvement in spoken layer — ability to better articulate complex ideas verbally — the first major innovation humans did to themselves — they learnt to put forth ‘wrong verses right’ from their point of view. This was a big leap forward. In essence, definition of wrong verse right became personal rather than being universal. This personalization was a pre-requisite for building a community of followers in Bhakti Yoga, but there was a big basic problem — he thought.

How to ascertain whose vantage was the correct representation of truth? For example, a blacksmith deemed fire as the true God for fire could melt the metals. On the other side, a farmer thought water was the true God for water was the source of food. Farming needed a dedicated community of followers as much as forging the metal. Both of them trying to sell their point of view as the singular truth to seek blind dedication in their community. It worked fine internally, but they had a difficult situation when put in front of each other in the local tavern!

Blacksmith argued how would a farmer cultivate without the tools (of agriculture) that were cast in Fire. Even the king needed swords to protect the state — all made available by the Gods of Fire. Farmer had a better argument! Without water there is no food — as a hungry man — how many days would a blacksmith even light up the fire? Without water, fire was a demon for it could burn the dry forests. And most importantly, water had the power to put the fire off. Only rain could save the holy Banyan trees from forest fires. Blacksmith rebutted saying even food needed to be cooked in Fire. A silent potter thought, both of them were wrong for the true God was mother Earth that he used to make all the utensils... And so on ... No one ready to downplay their Gods, or even trivial ideas.

Even the scriptures could be seen differently from different vantage points. This meant humans must debate to prove their point. It was as if humanity had entered into a real life ‘twitter-verse’ except that there could be dire consequences. Losing a scuffle was degrading. People could be barred from the community or forced to leave a village. Sometimes they would take on life threatening pledges — say sacrifice a limb to prove integrity of their ideas. Sometimes, they could be asked to walk through (holy) fire to confirm their purity. People were finding it exciting to organize and express a ‘thought framework’, but ‘freedom of speech’ was still not a social contract. Yet there were many outspoken.

Maharishi attributed this verbosity to a vicious underlying cycle. He called it ‘curse of feedback’. It became more important how others reacted to one's point of view — a natural incentive for those who could better express verbally. He attributed this curse to the rise of chanters and reciters. It was somewhat like blaming the social-influencers for the ill effects of Instagram, probably because there was no corporation to levy the blame for holding the mirror to evolving complexity of human thought.

Official debates (Shastratha — a formal discussion on interpretation of scriptures) were organized in kings' open courts, on topics as varied as existence of singular God, or for example, to authorize state aggression to tax the neighboring states Ashwamedha Yazna? And even to jury the baseless ‘perceived’ acts of treason for kings were generally insecure. Without a written down statute, the decision could be easily swayed in favour of the powerful. A situation could be justified through many conflicting explanations. “Plurality of views” was touted the primary differentiator from other species but we hadn't yet developed tools to internalize “plurality”. Most animals had a “canned” behavior — a standard response to a specific situation — no conflicts — no debate. Humans could discuss the righteous action plan. The stated objective was once a path was agreed, everyone would stick to the plan. But reality was different. A defeat in arguments was as painful as a loss in a physical dual, and the consequences could be pretty harsh. Maharishi wondered if this cycle could ever be broken? Where would it end? — because in his mind, it was causing more harm than good! People were losing trust. Human spirit was falling apart. At the same time, he didn't want humanity to return to the stone age to live (and physically fight) like animals. How to determine the right path?

Even though humans got better at this multi-vantage world-view, they still struggled to determine the path that reached them to eternal peace. Every winner was always confronted with new situations that insinuated another round of debate. Every aspect of plurality was confusing and was adding more of it. The human psyche was aggravated with this endless inconclusive discussion on almost every topic conceivable. At the core of this confusion was the subtle change that happened. We were now more worried about the reaction of others. As we started spending more time in sharpening and better expressing our world view, we forgot what we ourselves wanted to do — our inner calling. We were losing our soul (Atma). Our focus shifted from actions that we did for our inner sake to the ones that were appreciated (or approved) by the community. We started living for the approval of the family, the race and the religion. And at most times, bringing these three core groups together was impossible. Family values conflicted with those of the race and race was at loggerheads with religion or vice versa. The definition of “righteous” became the approval of entire community and that greatly narrowed the action field. You must not do anything that is not in line with family values, and race, and religion — in that order. The “self” was lost. Compliance became more important than the actions. How you were perceived by other verses what you actually wanted to do.

Those were the challenges for Maharishi Parāśara and he wondered if one lifetime was enough to solve the puzzle and to accomplish a massive global change! Or he needed someone to carry on his journey to the finish line — may be a “think-alike” son who was also on the same discovery path. Someone, who could find the true answer leveraging the work of his ancestors, and also manifest the change in the core kernel of knowledge. What better could a 'man with a mission' ask? — a son who could take on the work he started.

He must have slept well past midnight, for next day, when he woke up, sun was about to rise. After quick run through of morning routines, he rushed to the place where Matsya had dropped him. He was pleased to see Matsya waiting there for him. She looked lot happier this morning. Maharishi didn't realize she ate a full meal last night after many nights of deprivation. And she had planned to ask Maharishi about her future. She had heard Maharishi was an astrologer.


Yamuna was unusually calm that morning. Almost fifteen minutes into the ride, she finally mustered the courage to ask Maharishi something that was bothering her for quite some time — the meaning of her curse! As she got the attention, she quickly sought the permission for a question. Maharishi gladly agreed to listen to her. It was a while he had spoken to a commoner. She shared her story, and went on and on. As if, it was in years she got someone to look at her tiny-box. She didn't even know that she knew the words that came off her mouth. Her perspective, shaded in the pain of utter rejection, was evocative. After a long circular narrative, she boiled down to contesting the existence of 'One God' for the God can't be so merciless.

Her naive question rubbed Maharishi at number of painful memories. He recalled his time when he himself had lost the way. Growing up in his grand father's Ashram though he had access to most pragmatic vantage of his grand father, yet he was not immune to hate. Anger had brewed up in him for the Asuras, people who challenged the Vaidik way of life. In his angry youth, he thought such a way of life was what killed his father.

Maharishi continued to drift into his past ... In the early days, the hate in him overpowered him. So much so that he left the Ashram to wage a war in the name of ˝One God˝ to revenge his clan. He killed many and many he burnt alive. The local hyperbole was he lit a holy fire such that the monsters flew into the fire as he chanted the Mantras. Such descriptions apart, most probably he worked with the local leaders to wage the holy war. After killing most of the Asuras from the adjoining areas, he along with leader of this movement — Ugrasen — named the area Sur Sena — an army of people against Asuras. Maharishi helped Ugrasen get the title of the king of this new formed state though it was quite small compared the adjacent empire — Kuru kshetra (the land of Kuru kingdom).

As he grew older, he realized the evil was not person specific. It was just a different vantage point. He was able to see both sides of the coin but could not tell if heads were right or the tails. And how to reconcile them. Both seemed right and wrong at the same time. The compelling argument on the side of Asuras was simple — they asked if ˝One God˝ was full of love, why is there death and misery in the world. God can't be merciless. Why doesn't God let everyone live like him — always healthy and beautiful. Matsya's naive question opened a can of old worms!

Maharishi thought what if the people he killed had gotten similar bad deal at the hands of fate. That couldn't be construed as their mistake for breeding similar contempt of God. If a young girl in her early twenties, felt this way, why can't a grown up Asura; but no one had ever put forth such unpretentious argument with a child like naivety. Her unintentional deduction forced the Yogi to engage in a conversation — an anomaly because Maharishi Parāśara rarely spoke. Even the kings had to wait to hear his sermons. He rarely blessed anyone. He never performed rites for money or favors. Nor did he engage in religious debates — he was a silent seeker lost in himself.

Her innocent question and the pain in her eyes forced Maharishi to look at her, understand her life, and gaze into her future. Being a Trikal Darshi astrologer — someone who could see the past, present and future, he saw the purpose of her being. She was the one who could mother Krishna. Purified by the pain of her being, her intelligence was pious. Maharishi looked at the dark sky and saw a glitter in stars. He marveled at the scope of nature for having brought him in contact with Matsya He smiled and told her — Your life has a good reason. Gods have graced you with hardships to enable objectivity in you, for they want to have you serve as a host to something bigger. I shall come back to you for your help at appropriate time. Stay put...

Matsyagandha couldn't believe her ears! She forgot to notice that Maharishi didn't answer her question. Instead, he offered her hope. Maybe he was sharing the high tide of his own hope risen at this unscheduled rendezvous.

If God is full of mercy, why is there misery in the world !


Walking back to his Ashrama, Maharishi thought it was a good break out, totally well worth it. Spending a night at the island always did straighten his thinking but rendezvous with Matsya was sure a gift.

The Samadhi at the cave, helped Maharishi conclude the root cause of misery in (his) modern world. It was that everyone held their point of view as ‘sacrosanct’. People were not ready to look at the world from others' perspective. Being an astrologer, he had the ability to see the world from people's point of view. If you couldn't see present of this world from someone's standpoint, what chance would you have to see their past, or their future? To know someone's future (or past), you got to know their present first, exactly the way they saw it.

Astrology was essentially a science of jumping in someone's soul to map the stars from their vantage. Maharishi concluded there was only one way to enable people see beyond what they deemed righteous — beyond their own point of view — add the ability to see oneself 'objectively' in every human being — as if we are seeing ourselves from a distance — just the way we see others. He named this ability - Atmoupamyen Drishti. In Sanskrit Drishti means the vision and Atmoupamyen means looking at self from a distance.

This ability, he realized, was the basis of what we normally knew as ‘compassion’. Compassion is the pain (or pleasures) we feel by putting ourselves into someone's situation. For example, he could feel the compassion for Matsya. He realized the feeling he had, was more than natural tension of sexes. Love for sex and love for offspring was something well-known to every human. They are prebuilt into every core including those of animals. Being able to love someone beyond these two basic constructs was compassion — he thought. And he realized what his grandfather always taught him. Compassion comes when Heart Chakra opens up. When pathway of compassion opens up, the conflicting point of views of others become as personal as one's own point of view.

He understood, every human needed access to ‘compassion’. The question was how to impart this ability to every human being. Adding the messages of compassion into every scripture was one possibility. In fact these messages were already there in Gaytri Mantra. The problem was scriptures were locked under wraps (in the rituals), protected for a privileged class. How would this knowledge reach everyone? The simple answer was ‘written text’. It was the only way to open the flood gates of information to the masses. This also meant everyone must be able to at least read (if not write). A long journey — he thought but well worth trying. He also felt the urgency. Now was the time because as the populations were increasing and spreading, it was going to be harder in the future. And that was the reason he was excited about the possibilities of new technology. He must find something to easily train people. Something that attracts people — young and old. He named this skill Akshar Nyaan. The literal meaning is Sanskrit is the knowledge of words but Akshar also means one that can't be changed — immutable. And he thought the name was appropriate from both perspective. Knowledge of compassion was immutable.

At the same time he was skeptical — what if the written texts got into hands of Asuras? His mind still a victim of doubts. Internal churn was still on. For example, Astrology was a powerful tool. He wanted to make sure the access was only to the ones who deserved it. But who might get to decide? No wonder, Naad Yogies thought the act of writing was demonic. Once you wrote the words down, they became asynchronous. It was almost impossible to keep a track of the readers. A book had its own journey. Ideas could reach the darker side. And it could very well turn the balance of power — take the world into uncharted territories — he feared.

Not only this, hard coding the knowledge into written text and making it publicly available without the context, without the rigor needed to bear the ‘knowledge’ could be harmful to the masses. In a way, Maharishi Parāśara was sold on the idea of textification but he was held back by apparent pit falls. He was waiting for a sign. Universe must lead him to the right path. Almighty must give him a clue for he was at a stalemate with his own mind.

He got his clue when he stepped in the Ashrama. His friend and senior student Maitrea was finishing his morning lecture to the students when he saw Maharishi getting in. Maitrea curious of sudden night out by Maharishi checked on him. He had just wished him well when Maharishi asked the basic question.

Maitrea if God is kind and loving , why is there misery in the world?

Maitrea understood Maharishi must have gone for a Samadhi and something must be on his mind. He figured Maharishi needed an unbiased opinion. Thus, instead of asking the context, he spoke his mind - Maharishi if you mean Bramh the entirety of our system as God , then you only taught us that Bramh offers same opportunity to every being. It is for the manifested beings to choose what they make of it,

Maharishi smiled. Sometimes, clarity comes in a jiffy. It meant that the opportunity to 'write' was not uniquely his. What if Asuras were already writing books to spread anarchic ideas. What if they reached likes of Matsya first! He knew technology always had a first-mover advantage. The races that adopted wheels to make chariots, flourished. Those who adopted hardened steel made much better weapons and literally killed the ones stuck with iron and stone. He realized there is no way to stay still in this world. We always need to act. It was even more important at this juncture because ˝writing˝ was already labeled ˝demonic˝ by the high priests. No one would be surprised if demons actually took to writing books.

The other concern was who would provide the context. How to make sure the reader got the exact message. This was a harder problem to crack. What if the supervisor got lazy? Or the supervisor himself mutated the context. Why not build the entire context in the text itself. Why not present it in a format of real life events that everyone could understand. No wonder Ramayana was said in story format. A written story was the way forward. But how to make sure story didn't turn into a fantasy. That meant before a book was minted, the context must be tested in the physical reality. It must be lived through !

The next step was to test the idea on personal value system.

One of the reason Maharishi was held back on jumping full-blown into writing himself was — he deemed his interest in ˝writing˝ might be seen as being skeptical of the Naad Yogies. He didn't think he was ˝jealous˝, but as someone from a researcher heritage and being a Rishi himself, he had uncomfortable positions with Naad Yogies and Vyasas — on them turning into gatekeepers of the knowledge. He was not sure if building a parallel channel of communication was good because it was good to his class; or was it a truly righteous path? Nor was he convinced if he was acting to satisfy his own desires for more prominence — or was it really for the greater good?

Sometimes resolutions show up out of thin air. It was one such moment. Maharishi saw a clear path forward if he vowed not write any (more) books himself. With his name as the author. If he took this call on himself, then clearly he was not acting out of hope for personal gratification. No one might say for sure, if such ‘vows’ had any material impact, but they do chastise one's own soul.

It was time to set the wheels of a massive writing project into motion. A multi generational project with far-reaching outcomes and a global scope beyond easy imagination. A new set of basic terms must be written down and embedded into every instance of conscious thinking, every social contract — be it an individual, a group or even a kingdom — every single format of human organization. Time was ripe for a new narrative (to supplement Ramayana) but who would do that? How could someone understand all that is there to know, and then conceive the righteous path into written words. Maybe, it was a feat that be accomplished over many generations — like a relay race. Not only that, the path must be told as a compelling story that takes the collective consciousness onto a new charter — just the way Ramayana did in last eon. Stories, he thought, were the best way to circumvent a debate and provide true context. But the story must be tested in physical reality. Because truth is what actually happens in physical reality, and only truth has the staying power!

A plethora of action items shaped up in Maharishi's mind. The first obvious task was to determine the perfect planetary alignment to bring a worthy heir to life. His son would translate his ideas into text. He would mark the exact center where evil meets the good and both play a perfect dance of life. A balance to ride the waves of joy and grief. Something that could show the path to peace to disoriented society. And pull them from both excessive darkness and excessive light. An island in the river of time, between two banks that never seem to meet each other — Dvaipayana.


It was as if Matsyagandha found a reason to live. Maharishi Parāśara got off the boat but he left a boatload of hope for Matsya. Every night she waited at the docks. She had gotten a new set of questions. What did Maharishi mean? Why would he even talk to someone like her. At times, she thought she was an insipid chatter for a Yogi — maybe he just wanted to let her feel good, other times she wanted to look beautiful — she must get herself ready for the bigger purpose — but she knew no ways. She wanted to smell good but she couldn't afford the Sandal wood — a wood used in making perfumes. The hope and despair played the cycles of pains and joy. She was caught into duality of the prospects, and unlike the waves in Yamuna, waves of duality were hard to conquer. She must go through this fire to harden herself for a path unknown.

Exactly after a year, another dark night, and Maharishi returned to the wharf. Matsyagandha was there, for 'waiting' was her daily ritual Karma. He asked her to ferry the boat to the island. She happily toed the boat into waters. As the boat got stable, she looked at Maharishi in anticipation. She could feel her time had come. The moment she was preparing herself for a year was finally here. Maharishi read her thoughts. She was like an open book. Her big expressive eyes said what her lips would not. Without much ado, he asked her if she could give him a son. No preamble, no sweet romantic chatter. All he added — it was for a much bigger cause. A cause, she would appreciate in due course. And of course, she may ask anything in return for the favor.

To put it mildly, it was blunt and abrupt! No one asks a woman for a child in their second meeting (spaced an year) without any courtship. She was poor but she wasn't sold out. She worked hard for a living and she bore the wrath of society for no apparent reason. A part of her felt as if the man was total nube in worldly things. Even more than her herself.

Matsyagandha was taken aback at the unexpected proposal. It was quite an anticlimax. She had no clue what to say and what to ask, but she knew Maharishi Parāśara was a Yogi. She knew he could bless her with whatever she wanted — she felt the aura of calm and the strength he exuded, that made her believe the stories of his wizardry she had overheard commuters. Ever since their last meeting, she had wondered what she had in store. Her over sized imagination had led her to many scenarios but none of them was to bear his child. She knew that Maharishi would never take her as a wife for his life was dedicated to the celibate work of God, then why does he need a son?

She thought for a while — what would people say?

Looking at Yogi she asked — how could I hide it from the village?

Boat was leaving the banks of Yamuna- heading mid stream. The rise and fall of waters simulated in the rise and fall of her breath. She could hear herself breathing and it wasn't because she was rowing the boat alone. She could boat off this bank like a child could step into walk of her mother. The anxiety stemmed from that no one had ever asked her a sexual favor and here she had a Yogi asking for a child! Does he like me or is he playing with me? Or is it something else? And the fear of unknown! She had never imagined herself pregnant!

Rishi Parāśara had a sigh of relief. First he didn't get a plain ‘no’, or was asked to leave the boat. After all, his reputation was at stake. And second, he too wanted it a furtive union. Not only was he not ready for a wife, he knew Matsyagandha must go on, for she had a larger role to play in her later life.

And he had a plan — I know a nice cavern hidden in the island. We may stay there. I will be around you entire pregnancy and will have no dearth of food or shelter. After couple days, I will have a pigeon sent to the village head that you took on a journey downstream with me, as a sailor. And that we were gone to get lifesaving herbs from the East where Yamuna meets the most pious river Ganga.

Let me add a little on the geography of the place before we move forward :-

Rivers Ganga and Yamuna run parallel through the fertile plains of North India. They formed the boundaries of the powerful kingdom established by King Kuru. Shown as Kuru (West) and Kuru (East) in the map below. He built a grand capital in Hastinapuron the banks of Yamuna — nowadays known as Delhi, the capital of India. Hastinapur was around hundred miles upstream from the abode of Maharishi. Kuru's grandson King Shantanu currently ruled the place. Maharishi could have approached the king for help with herbs but they grew beyond his borders deep into kingdom of Magadha with capital in Patliputra. Hastinapur and Patliputra had ups and downs in the political relations. Thus, the hypothetical trip had to be clandestine. Technically, Rishies were free to travel across state boundaries and Maharishi was not even a native of Kuru-kingdom because his Ashram was beyond the western bank of Yamuna — a vast land infested with many Asura lords. After his early days of warring with Asuras in this area, Maharishi Parāśara helped to cleanse this area of Asuras and helped Ugrasen take the reins of a new small kingdom named Sur Sena (Good people's army). Maharishi decided to continue stay in his grand father's (Maharishi Vasishta's) Ashram, on the the bank of Yamuna in the capital of Sur Sena — a city now known as Mathura. His Ashram was a mile upstream from now famous Vishram Ghat of Mathura. The village where Matsya stayed, was run by an erstwhile Asura lord — Dashraaj. He was defeated by Maharishi but got his life back after he promised to live a conformal lifestyle. That he did, but inside, he wanted to be important. His ambitions, still played young even though old age caught up on him. On the surface, he served the Ashram and stayed in close with the ideology of Maharishi.

The map above (published under creative commons license at wikimedia), shows the locations of Kingdoms mentioned in the Indian epics. Focus is on Mahabharata. Due credits to the publisher as per license.

Names in Yellow were the main kingdoms. Asuras had their own kingdom run by Vrishaparvan — an Asura royal sage, though Asuras were spread beyond their indicated location. The river names are shown in blue, the mountains in purple and forests in green.

I have highlighted the Kuru territory and the probable location of Maharishi Parāśara abode (in Madhu forest). The western boundary of Kuru kingdom was river Yamuna and eastern side was bound by river Ganga. Both major water ways for transport and source of irrigation in prosperous Kuru empire. It was believed that the kingdom of Sur-Sena was supported by Maharishi. As the name suggested, Suras, offered resistance to Asuras. Sena means army.

An advantage of staying off the main land was no local laws applied to the Ashrama. Maharishi was free to run his experiments and live the way he wanted. Prime among them was to optimize tools for writing such that common sages could easily scribe their work. Writing thus far was done on leafs or sometime on cotton clothes. Cotton was too expensive and leafs were hard to maintain. He wanted to see if he could grow some new plant that served as the main material for a paper like experience. These experiments led him into agriculture and hence his book Krishi Parāśara exploring new crops. Finally, he figured cotton could be mixed with wood to create a new medium that would be known as paper in due course but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Staying aloof also ensured only real seekers had the courage to reach him. Thus, less time spent on social and political disputations. And most probably, he had a fascination for the virgin island and the deep cave system that led to this cavern he was talking about. He believed that the path forward must emanate from the middle of two opposites of good and evil, and one need to dive deeper into the caves of soul to seek the ever illusive peace.

Back to our story !

Matsyagandha thought for a while and finally nodded her consent. Her eyes hollow. She was still not sure it was happening to her but the plan seemed workable. Maharishi looked at her and he figured she wanted something else. He stood up and asked — Do you want something else Matsya? — His voice full of gratitude.

What will happen to me after ? I will need to feed the new born at least for a year! But what after that? — asked Matsyagandha.

Maharishi Parāśara thought for a while. He wanted to make sure he found the right words as much as he wanted to say the truth. He said — after two years, once child is ready to go with me, you may, if you wish to, return to the village.

Matsya's face turned red. Her words broken — this village hates me. If older women figured out I lost my virginity, they would despise me even more!

As it is, Matsya was living a hell. This would only add more to the antipathy she already received. They would most likely name her a whore and burn her alive as a culprit of prostitution — a recognized sin in Kuru-land. Stories of such incidents were common though no such incident had yet happened in her village. If they were kind, they would most likely hand her over to some Asura lord where she had be enslaved for life, and possibly gang raped daily. That was considered a fair punishment for the sinful hookers!

No one would recognize you Matsya! — Maharishi said with conviction that was hard to ignore — I would bless you into the most beautiful woman ever lived. You will smell of Sandal all day and all night. People will call you Yojangandha for your musky fragrance shall surround a distance. (The literal meaning of Yojan being a mile and Gandha means fragrance.) Fares would line up to take your boat. And one among them might take you as a wife, having fallen madly in love with you. And thereafter, you would rule the world!

Matsya couldn't believe her ears. The prospect of smelling good and the idea that the village that hated her bowed to her beauty, set butterflies in her. She was not sure if it was the prospect of revenge, or expectation of success, but the proposal now seemed like a true blessing. She folded both her hands and kneeled. And then she looked up straight into deep eyes of Maharishi. Her eyes said Yes. Maharishi met her gaze. He wanted to be sure — you need to say a 'Yes' Matsya.

As he reconfirmed the acceptance, he touched the thumb of his right hand between her eyes and with left hand he pulled out his wand, lowered it into the waters of holy Yamuna and threw few droplets on her face. She felt her head spinning and she lost her consciousness.

The place between the eyes, right above the nose is called Aajna Chakra. This is where a Yogi Guru may touch with his thumb to associate you with his "knowledge". Once the pathway is opened, there is no going back. You are now one with your Guru. In Hindu tradition, this is why a tilak is placed here, particularly if you participate in a ritual.


She found herself in a bed made of flowers when she woke up. It was early morning. Light was slowly filling up the entrance of the cave. She quickly fixed her rags and hair, and stepped out of the cave. She saw Maharishi sitting in a Samadhi (sitting upright in a trance). There was holy fire burning in front of the Yogi. The place smelled of Sandal wood. Later she realized this part of the island was full of Sandal trees. She sat there, grasping the serenity of the space, trying to make a sense of it all. The events of last night played in her mind. She tried hard to sequence the things but there was no recollection after she lost herself on the boat. Entire evening felt hazy and distant as if a memory was pulled off her brain. Last thing she knew was a sprinkle of cold Yamuna water on her face.

While she was thinking of the night that she missed, a thick fog surrounded the cave. It was as if the smoke from the holy fire froze into smog to make an invisible circle around. She felt comforted in the hideous state of everything around her — free from her painful past. She also felt a strange feeling in her stomach. As if, a life had taken place in her.

Am I pregnant? — She didn't intend to disturb the Samadhi but the words just came of her mouth. Parāśara opened his eyes. He gazed at her with a welcome look — Yes — he said. Do you need anything? There is fresh milk and fruits, and he pointed to a grotto next to the entrance of the main cave.

The main cave led to a cavern that had sweet Yamuna water flowing at it's base. She also saw her boat moored there. Now she understood why Maharishi loved the island. It was a replica of heaven on earth. She also got an inkling that the place was given ˝ghostly˝ character to keep the tourists and wanderers away. For the first time, she felt as if she was part of something bigger. She felt excited and curious at the same time. What exactly is going on? She wanted to know. Maharishi could guesstimate what was playing on her mind.

Things reveal as their time comes — She heard Maharishi at her back. She turned back to him. A smile on her face conveyed that she was happy and on board.

Next few months were magical for Matsya. She would wake up to the slow chants of hymns and the smoke from holy fire surrounding the caves as a shield. She would go out with Maharishi to pick up fruits. There were goats to get milk. Maharishi showed her the skills to survive in jungle. After first full moon, Maharishi told her the time had come to start Krishna's education for the things he would learn in the comfort of motherly womb, would last him a lifetime. Maharishi taught her Sanskrit. She quickly picked up the difficult language. Maharishi himself chanted all the Mantras to her. It became a daily ritual. It was probably a daily mud bath followed by a fresh water swim in Yamuna; Sandal wood lotion that Maharishi himself made for her; or the vegan diet of milk and fruits — Or the growth of internal knowledge; that made her beautiful. But she assumed it were the blessings of Maharishi! And who knows?

As Matsya was learning, her mind took on new dimensions of thought. She started asking more and more questions. More she asked, more did Maharishi explain. Not only her mind, but her body started taking a new shape. Her skin glowed. Her hair got long and silky and her smell was gone, replaced by everlasting musk. Songs came to her lips. She learnt to dance slow with setting sun to exhale the excess energy. And she learnt to recite Vedas with rising sun to fill the universal energy back in. She attained fine equilibrium with universe as she got proficient in breathing techniques (Pranayama) — the core of Naad Yoga. Maharishi started digging deeper into the hymns, beyond the superficial meaning that met untrained eyes. And Krishna heard it all, in the safety of his mother's womb.

She gazed and understood the motion of stars in the night sky. And she understood the effect of lunar phases on the waves of Yamuna. She knew it was Yamuna's holy water that blessed her with this baby but she wondered if Maharishi ever embraced her! Ever made love to her like a man would do to his wife. She wanted to know but she was too shy to ask. And she wouldn't change an iota of this new relationship for it felt divine. Even if she was a surrogate, it was well worth the time and experience. But she didn't know the darkness of that night got carried to her womb. The boy would be darkest of complexion. And thus the name Krishna that meant born out of darkness. But his eyes captured all the stars of that dark night. He would see depths of space that no one in the sun lit day could ever. He would see beyond the motion of “Time” and bind it to the words. Words that would flow like Yamuna to carry all other opinions along with. And just like Yamuna they would reach the heights of Himalayas to the depths of the ocean.

Time moved fast. She was carrying the weight of a divine child. Her breasts swelled up as motherhood took over her. She wanted to be close to Maharishi but he knew better. He knew this joy was transient. Enormous pain (of bondage) was waiting for Matsya when she must let a part of her body go. She must leave him behind and break that bond. Maharishi knew, every ride of joy must follow with equal load of sorrow. He wanted to keep his distance. He knew it was a divine grace that Matsya was turning into most beautiful woman, but he had underestimated the desires that might take on his own mind. It took all his learning and then some, to keep his heart unflinching yet attached in every chore. Never letting Matsya and Krishna feel the absence of his strength but never crossing the line. He knew it was a test. A test he must pass to pave a new path for the rest. Every morning, he burnt his desires in the holy fire and turned them into hideous smog. He knew he was only a father — not a lover. And he knew the biggest sacrifice was for a mother to leave her offspring even if the hands were of a trusted Yogi.

The question that haunted him was how Matsya would bear the pain of truth (Truth is what happens in physical reality. Physical reality is, in a way, history of the 'Truth'). He must give her tools to understand the truth — see the reality as it was. And that he did. He named her Satyawati — bearer of Truth. He explained to Satyawati his life learnings in simple language.

First that the desires were the root of all pains. In that he denounced the Dravya Yazna as it was rooted into desires. Satyawati asked then why would anyone work for she thought desires were the basis of all that we do. Maharishi pointed her to the nest that a bird pair made atop the tree where they were sitting. He asked her if these birds made the nest out of desires? He then pointed to Yamuna — Does this river flow our of desires?. Smiling to confused Satyawati, he said — Desires are not the basis of actions for nothing in this universe may stay action less even for a moment. Action is fundamental. In fact, ˝action˝ is life. Desires on the other hand make us actionless for we waste precious time thinking about desired objects or chasing specific outcomes. And channeling our natural actions into the ones that appear to get us closer to a desired goal. He further added — Desires not only waste the time, they are the source of our wave nature. Waves of joy and grief. If we get what we desired, we feel happy, if we don't we feel miserable. In essence desires lend wave nature to human psyche that makes our reality dualistic. He cited his father Śakti Muni who postulated that most humans change their ‘one chosen’ path because of failure to meet desired goals. They than chase another goal, another deity, and thus get caught in the web of bondage. Thus, it is the desires that take one away from their righteous path. Śakti means power. His father was named Śakti Muni because he demonstrated that dominion over one's desires was the only way to sustain inner power over duality.

Second, that the only way to overcome desires was to stay busy in ‘actions’. Desires lead to momentary elation (followed by sorrow) — ‘actions’, on the other hand, lead of peace and knowledge.

What kind of actions one must do? — asked Satyawati — If one must not be driven by the desires, then how was she expected to know what are the right actions for her.

That is exactly what Krishna is supposed to figure out. — smiled Maharishi— How do we overcome desires and still be indulged in actions? Is it one set of actions for all the human beings or is it different for everyone? How does it change with time and situation? The righteous actions.

This was probably the birth of Karm Yoga that young Krishna learnt in his mother's womb. And, among many things, it also stayed with Satyawati. She herself, truly subsumed into a new identity along with birth of Krishna. As Satyawati took him for first holy dip in Yamuna, the mighty river rose to touch his feet. It washed over Satyawati too, to give her the true perspective. Truth that we are all bound by the waves of joy and grief. Bigger the rise, deeper the fall. Truth that the child in her hands was not hers alone. He must go on to strife the world off duality. And that she must enable him with all the right actions. How could she let duality take over her mind when she was literally the mother of the one made to define the 'righteous path'.


The village was in a state of shock when Satyawati made it to the docks. Maharishi had fixed her boat that it looked like new. Matsya was long gone from the memory of this village. She docked her boat and turned to a group of fishermen who were looking at her in disbelief — Is there a place to stay in this village and also who is the village head here? I wanted to seek permission to moor my boat in this dock.

The fishermen were speechless. They had never seen a more beautiful woman and her fragrance was driving them crazy. One of them offered her food that his wife had packed. Other offered to take her to the village head.

The village head — Dashraaj in mid seventies, had seen the life long enough to be enchanted from anything glittering. Or at least that was what he thought. His ideas were forcefully changed by Maharishi but at the core, he still thought he had a role to play. His week eyes couldn't see Satyawati well enough, but he couldn't resist the smell. It was as if some Goddess stepped into his home. He stood up in respect and offered a seat and water to Satyawati. When she sought his permission to dock the boat, he didn't think twice. Satyawati saw the power of fragrance firsthand. She was happy. She kept on — Is there a place I could rent to stay. I have some gold.

The word “gold” rang a pleasant bell in Dashraaj's ear — you are village's responsibility. You don't need to spend a penny. You are like a daughter to me, why don't you stay with us. I have three daughters who could help you on the boat.

The news of arrival of a beautiful noblewoman had already spread in the village. Men and women stopped at whatever they were doing and flocked to village head's home. Everyone was eager to help a single beautiful woman. Some applauded her for navigating rough Yamuna alone. Satyawati was stunned in the change. How could same set of people ignore poor Matsyagandha? It felt like Matsya actually died. Something in her told her she needed more power. Power to rule the entire world. She will never be as exposed and as needy as Matsya was. She must build on her gifts. She however, was not sure if the desires were taking over her if that was the right thing to do. May be Krishna would answer that one day! — she thought.

After few days of rest and enjoying cooked food, Satyawati returned to her boat. Along with her three Dashraaj girls. The older one slightly older than her and youngest slightly younger. Middle one was her age. They offered to help her on the boat. She was back in business as she saw a line of commuters growing to board her boat. She smiled and a song came to her lips. Life could be much easier for the rich and beautiful — she thought. The thought was soon replaced by the memory of Krishna. Every success must be paid in some form, some pain. She reminded herself that Krishna was with Maharishi. He couldn't have asked for a better father.

Time took the wings again.

Satyawati's boat got popular — like a tourist attraction. People started pouring over just see her and listen to her sing. And of course the fragrance. She got rich but she was still waiting for the next season of Maharishi's prediction. Dashraaj declared her as his daughter. There were many suitors who would happily surrender their lives' worth for Satyawati, but none of them could make her “rule the world”. More importantly, she was curious of the bigger cause that Maharishi said she was a part of. For now, she was content with love and respect that she know not existed. And she kept on sharpening her skills — music, singing, looking good and of course smelling good.

Back to his Ashrama, there was a welcome celebration for Maharishi and Krishna. No one asked about the mother for they were all busy checking out the toddler who could already speak broken Sanskrit. He had the Gaytri Mantra by heart. Maharishi Parāśara always kept him with in his eyes. Young Krishna was curious. He asked even more questions than his mother. Maharishi always eager to respond to him. He learnt music, dance and finally the astrology. One thing always laid heavy on Maharishi's mind — Krishna's learning was only through words. He hadn't seen the life yet. Where would life take him? What all he must go through to be able to nail the truth!.


The other side of the river Yamuna belonged to the empire. Shantanu — A king known for his justice, wealth and valor in the lineage of even bigger names. His empire was spread between Yamuna and Ganges. On the north it reached the peaks of Himalayas that protected it's border like a wall of snow. The kingdom had a natural line of control on all the sides — Himalayas, Ganges and Yamuna. Himalayayan glaciers were the source of water — the life energy, and this pure fresh water came to plains through two rivers. Most big cities shaped up along the two rivers, including Hastinapur — the capital. In addition to pure water, the rivers also served as the primary transport layer. Wood, weapons, and agricultural produce, moved through the rivers. In other words, Ganges and Yamuna were the lifeline of this empire. But there was a problem. Rampant floods made living near the rivers a major risk. There was a need to make sure water stayed in the rivers. While there were many rituals designed to appease the gods of rains, people were working on engineering efforts to deepen the rivers, particularly in stretches where the depth was shallow and thus river used to spread in miles.

As the king circled right of the middle age, he got interested in music, religion and philosophy. Expansion of his kingdom dropped off the priority. He wanted his people safe, well-fed and well taken care. Luckily, his son, Devvrata was even more prudent in managing the vast province. His key skill was his deep understanding of the water ways. He had developed the signalling system with pigeon points located along the river banks, wooden bridges, transport jetties, docks, dams and water locks. This deep knowledge of the rivers made him popular. People started calling him a water bender! His work brought prosperity and security to the kingdom never seen before. People said that the skills that Devvrata had, were natural to him because he was son on Ganga. That was true because name of his human mother was Ganga; though later on people started believing that he was a son of the river. Even the scripture noted that river Ganges manifested into a beautiful woman called Ganga to bear Devvrata.

Dev's real mother was born on the peaks of Himalayas — near the birth place of river Ganges — a place called Gangotri. She grew up navigating the rivers in her small kayak — fishing, playing and moving fast through the dangerous rapids of Ganges in tall mountains of it's decent. Her fascination for the water and river was such that she used to spend all her time on the river. The local villagers started calling her Ganga — the name of the river itself — one who is Ganges. People forgot her real name — not that it mattered anymore, for she was a true embodiment of Ganges through her actions (Karma)

As she grew into late teens, she and her friends would go on longer voyages in Ganges. Many times for days and weeks. They designed two person Kayaks. They would kayak downstream through rapids and falls, and then carry them back on their shoulders — two persons supporting one Kayak. Climbing the mountains back supporting the Kayaks used to be painfully long and arduous — sometimes through the thick unchartered forests. Her dream was to design a boat that could sail upstream. Or something that could sail the boat up. She didn't know yet that she was designing water locks in her teen mind. And also, she wanted to see if Ganges ever ended. She had heard from travelers that the Ganges finally meets into a vast ocean that can store water of thousands of river. Ganga used to wonder why can't we make an ocean and store the water of Ganges for irrigation. Little did the young girl know that stopping the water is like stopping the circle of life. And she learnt it as she entered her early youth.

Longer voyages and turn to adulthood, told Ganga that the floods in Ganges were the biggest problems of people downstream. In one of her trips, she saw the devastation firsthand, when she and her gang, narrowly escaped the swelling river. She started a mission to start deepening Ganges where ever it was flattish. Starting from the very top near the origins, she and her team finally reached the plains — working through one flatland to the next. They were welcomed by the local people as they brought skills to deepen a running river. They had designed tools to form a constellation of Kayaks and then lower the harvester to scour the bottom. Many times they recovered valuables from the bottom but the business was not risk free. Many died in the pursuit of these riverbed scouring projects. True to her name, Ganga committed her life to this cause or business or engineering projects.

Her work got her so popular that the news reached the king Shantanu. He was happy to see people taking on the creative engineering in their hands rather than depending solely on the priests or the king. He also wanted to see if the tools and boats they had designed could be used to move his army. In addition, he also wanted to lend the official support to the project(s). But most importantly he wanted to see Ganga — the woman every one talked about for her courage, charisma and dedication.

It was a love at first sight. King admired Ganga for her altruism and engineering prowess and she admired the king for his passion to make people's life better. They talked for hours. She was never tired of detailing her expeditions and he was never tired of listening to her. One fine evening, Shantanu proposed Ganga. She had her heart out for the king, but she was dedicated to the cause. She was free, and she wanted to stay that way. She told Shantanu she didn't want to be bound by the rituals. They could meet as long as he was willing to see her at Ganges. He could stay and leave as he wanted. And come back when he had time. The arrangement seemed fair to Shantanu for he was hardly stationed at his capital. And most of the times he was anyway sailing through Ganges or Yamuna.

King promised her all the support for her work — gold, men and boats. The mutual admiration turned into an association of lifetime. Ganga however had one more favor to seek from the king. She wanted their offspring to stay with her and take the work she started to the next level. King was happy to oblige except he wanted just one son as heir of vast kingdom. Again against the convention, Ganga decided that it would be the last of their born. He was Dev, the youngest of the eight brothers.

In a way, Dev was a divine gift from river Ganga. At an early age he understood the intricacies of motion of water. The last of eight brothers, all of whom dedicated their lives to the mission of improve peoples' lives using the water from the holy rivers. Two of them were sent to North by Ganga to create a map of Ganges and all its tributaries. Other two went south East where Ganges meets the ocean with a similar goal. They coordinated their work through pigeons to draw one comprehensive map of river system that makes the most fertile plains of North India.

Fifth brother worked on setting up bridges on Ganga. He wanted to help the commuters when there was no boat in the river say during the nighttime. Sixth worked on techniques to move the boats and tree logs upstream through a system of water locks. Seventh on making levies for low-lying villages where flood caused havoc in rainy seasons. Having learnt from all his brothers, who had dedicated their lives to Ganga, the youngest Dev pulled the biggest of all engineering feats at a young age. He built a dam and changed the direction of Ganga such that more people could get help from the waters. During rainy seasons, the dam could be opened to let the water flow in two streams. People thought he was the real water bender. As if, he was a Son of Ganges — the river. Dev's life mission was to stay true to the kingdom and it's people. A vow that he carried till his last breath.

Good times go fast. Ganga had to move South East towards the point where Yamuna met Ganges. King and Dev were left behind. Busy in serving the river and people, she wanted to continue to follow her dream. She wanted to see the grand unified river merge into the vast ocean. And she thought meeting the ocean was her final destination, just like it was for the river.


Shantanu was left alone. More he tried to stop Ganga more quickly she wanted to leave. She pointed to the king that he can't stop the flow of time and water. But the life did stop pulsing pleasures for Shantanu. He lost faith in reality. If him being a king couldn't get his love, what was the point of all the wealth and armies. At times, he wanted to renounce the world but Dev was too young to handle the politics. He didn't want his son to pay the price of his messed up love life. He heard people talking that the king had to pay the price of unorthodox marriage. They said it was the result of not following the laid down rituals. A king's wedding should have happened as per the protocol. The politics with in his circles got trickier as many lobbyists wanted their girls married to the king. Saying a ‘no’, to a proposal, was always a ‘lose-lose’ situation. But no one felt like Ganga. And nothing clicked like she did.

He tried to get out of grief in hunting and drinking but nothing worked. The only thing that made him lose himself was the work. Work turned into passion for him. He didn't understand that it was Karm Yoga that was pulling him out of grief but he could feel the presence of something magical. More he focused on work, more interesting it became. People slowly forgot his marriage debacle and they started appreciating the tireless efforts he put in getting the complex balance of power into absolute equilibrium. First he handled the problem of Asuras — drove them out of his land, into their own dedicated kingdom. All without using a single arrow — through endless negotiations and diplomacy. Many Asura leaders deaths were attributed to the king but he knew the truth. He never ordained any assassination. Next, he took the works started by Ganga to fruition. Every city and village was connected through bridges. A vast irrigation system was set up. Dev led all these developmental efforts. And lastly he made sure no one in his kingdom slept hungry, without a roof or without proper clothes. The three basics were the responsibility of the state.

As the prince turned into a flawless statesman, the king finally thought taking time off for himself. As a matter of fact, 'time off' was recommended by master mason who was concerned for king's health. He wanted king to spend few months in fresh air of Himalayas. But the king wanted to spend more time visiting regions around Yamuna for he thought he spent more time on Ganges. And he wanted to meet grass root people — to understand their lives — live like them — face the pleasures and pains of life like a commoner.

Having made sure that the kingdom was on auto-pilot, and Dev was fully plugged in, Shantanu handed over the reins to the prince and took on this long journey to the farthest reaches of his state. Part of his motivation was to see if Dev could run the kingdom in his absence. And the other part was obviously to let go the responsibilities and live his own life for whatever was left of it. As part of his journey, he paid visits to many Ashramas and Gurukuls to earn good will as well to find the deeper meaning of life and it's purpose.

Many months into the journey, king learnt the people were not as happy as he was told. There was rampant rise of debate. Most of his local representatives were spending enormous time and effort on rituals rather than putting in hard work to resolve the problems of common people. He was not sure how to handle this problem. He was caught into duality. What is the right path? He had heard about that Maharishi Parāśara advocated another path to peace. A path focused more on Karma than resorting all the time in pleasing the deities. And it had been a while he visited Madhu forest. A part of his kingdom, that still had infestation of Asuras. It had to be a clandestine visit. He and only few of his chosen body guards.

King and his chosen men, set up a camp many miles before Yamuna in a part of the forest that was rarely visited by locals. Forest was dense such that even the fire smoke was beyond anyone's easy notice. On his way, he was told that the Ashrama of Maharishi Parāśara was just across the river. He had heard about the philosophy of Maharishi and his support for scribing the knowledge rather than spending too much time on rituals. He wanted to meet Maharishi to discuss his own conundrum but the other side of Yamuna was beyond his official territory - claimed by variety of Asura lords. No one objected to people crossing state boundaries but for a king, it could be deemed as an act of aggression - it could trigger a political situation and turn into an unnecessary conflict that he wanted to avoid at any rate. But he did want to see Maharishi and he had heard about Krishna - the magical son of Maharishi.

To avoid unnecessary conflict, Shantanu decided to dress up like a commoner and cross the river with normal commuters. Not even his body guards. One fine morning, he advised his bodyguards to stay put and he rode his horse to the bank of Yamuna. He tied his horse a mile before the docks and walked like a peasant to the docks. It was not uncommon for Shantanu to visit parts of his state dressed like a farmer or a blacksmith. It was a common practice for kings (and ministers) to mix with masses to get a pulse on the "state of the union". The only difference here was he was heading to an unchartered territory. In a way, it was exciting for Shantanu for he was tired of the security cordon that came with position of power. He wanted to feel unsecured, and unhinged.

As the luck would have it, Satyawati's boat reached this side of the bank as soon as Shantanu arrived there. A sandalwood fragrance captured the bank. Deers and peacocks flocked to the bank along with waiting commuters to get a chance on Satyawati's magical boat. King was mesmerized by the scene. He couldn't have imagined the beauty and serenity of the situation. As he realized, he was dressed like a commoner, he too got into the line to get on the boat.

The ride took more than an hour but for Shantanu, the time stood still. He was almost staring at Satyawati and when she started singing, with the waves of Yamuna, he was teleported to another world. First time in years, he wanted to fall in love. He wanted to keep listening to Satyawati's folk songs rooted in morning raagas. He had never thought music could be so evoking.

As the boat reached the village wharf, commuters started disembarking. Shantanu kept sitting in the boat. Someone nudged him that it was time to get down. People were throwing the fare in a bucket, expressing their thanks to the crew for a beautiful morning ride and hurried to their daily chores. Shantanu got up and without a word, he dropped all the gold coins he was carrying in the bucket. He hadn't even walked few yards that he heard Satyawati. As he turned back, she was getting off the boat — Sir, looks like you left all your wealth for us! She had gold coins in her hand and she wanted to return them back.

These pieces of metal are nothing for the experience I had this morning ! — said the disguised king — maybe you can give me a ride back in the evening for I have nothing left on me. And he turned and walked away from the bank. Another minute there, and he thought he would fall for the beautiful woman. She is definitely not of this village - he thought, maybe not even a Earthling.

Where are you heading to? — asked Satyawati — still not sure if she should take so much Gold. She was sure Dashraaj would be pleased, but something in her felt that this wasn't a common commuter.

I am going to see Maharishi Parāśara. Would you be kind enough to point me the direction. I heard he lives nearby — said Shantanu.

The Ashram is half a mile to the North — Satyawati quickly added — and I will be here waiting for you to get you back across Yamuna. And she raised her hand. She felt as if Maharishi's prophecy was taking shape. This is the man that she was waiting for. Despite his age, he had an aura of a statesman. Satyawati was drawn to him. The fact that he was rich and he left everything he had for her was a sign that she was looking for.


Krishna was only eleven years old and he had already completed his education as a Snataka. Maharishi was keen to see if he wanted to pursue Naad Yoga or he was inclined to be a Nyaan Yogi. Having understood all the scriptures at this early age, Maharishi believed he would choose right path for himself. Maharishi was always careful to not impress his own desires on Krishna. The path he chose must come from with in him. That said, Maharishi had all the time for him. They swam together in Yamuna. And they ate together — Often resolving questions of young Krishna. And many times, even Maharishi had no answers to his quest.

Maharishi and his students were getting ready for the morning meal when king arrived at the Ashrama. Since he was dressed like a farmer, Maharishi thought he must have been bothered by some Asura lord. Maharishi asked him to join them for food before they sit down to talk. King was thoroughly impressed with the care and love Maharishi graced to a commoner. The food was simple — milk and fruits. Maharishi and all his students ate cooked meal only once a day before the sunset. In summer afternoons they drank buttermilk — leftovers after taking butter out of yogurt — with a pinch of salt. In winter, they drank a hot drink made with milk and herbs from Assam — a place far far East. Sometimes they added raw sugar cane syrup (Gud) to this hot drink, later named "tea" by Britishers. During lunch, they chatted about the latest happenings in and around Ashrama. Maharishi always heard everything with keen interest but rarely spoke. The chats were always light. No discussion about scriptures or serious matters of governance of Ashrama.

After lunch, Maharishi and king, walked around the Ashrama. A daily routine Maharishi promoted to all his students. Students were allowed to nap afterwards before starting evening chores and classes. Few minutes into the walk, Maharishi asked the disguised king to tell his name and village and the reason of his visit. Shantanu reached into his inner pocket and pulled out the king's stamp — a cast that only king or his authorized messengers could carry (on person) to identify themselves. With the stamp in hand, words of a messenger were the words of the king. The written messages from kings were still uncommon. For one, it was hard to write long messages and second, kings thought it was hard to describe the emotional context of the message in written format. Only an authorized messenger could fully explain kings dictum along with the thoughtful context that led to the decree. In sensitive matters, king would often call the person(s) for a private conversation. General decrees were sent to city or village heads through messengers who were responsible for talking one on one with every single family in their area.

Maharishi was surprised to see the kings stamp in the hands of a man dressed like a farmer. The very next moment he realized that this was none other than the emperor of the vast kingdom himself. He folded his hands as a welcome gesture, and welcomed the king to Ashrama with due respect. He also asked why such sudden visit on this side, and escorted the king to his personal hut. He hoped the food was enough for he thought kings had big appetites. Once in his rather modest hut, Maharishi showed the king a place to sit, same height as his own. A gesture for equanimity and respect. And probably because both Shantanu and Maharishi were almost of the same age.

King settled down with a smile. In a way he was relieved for he had heard stories of Śakti Muni and also that Maharishi Parāśara didn't subscribe to the rules of the state. With folded hands — a gesture to reciprocate the kind welcome, he said — Maharishi, I was in this area to visit the citizens here, and I thought I must pay you a visit. As far as this dress up, I didn't want to stir any troubles with the Asuras and make your stay here any difficult.

Maharishi thanked him for his thoughtfulness. And paused to let king make the pitch. He didn't want to lead him into any direction. He was pretty sure, king had a good reason to visit.

The king took his time. He wanted to make sure that he chose the right words. Finally, he said — Maharishi, I have been traveling across the kingdom and many times dressed like a local to blend with people. I find that people are generally not happy. They are lost into rituals and rituals have become a means to spend and celebrate. Even the poor citizens who can't afford rituals are forced into such acts because of social pressures. I like celebrations but it is getting to a point where we are losing focus on the work. I guess I am struggling to find work ethic and this is leading to lessening prosperity. Citizens are not much ready to face a catastrophe as their previous generation were. No one understands that we as a race are not beyond calamities and God only helps those who help themselves. I am not sure if it is with in the rights of a king to bring a sense of work responsibility back to the masses or if this message was something that might be led by a Maharishi such as you.

Maharishi thought for a while. He felt his worst nightmare was turning into truth. He always thought that rituals had only symbolic value. He believed Naad Yogies must only convey the messages of super sages and not indulge in building their own communities. Communities were for the kings to build (and maintain) not for the Yogies. But again he remembered his vow that he would not write a book himself. He neither wanted to spearhead a messaging campaign without well crafted written scripture to back it up. He brought his gaze back to the king — Maharaaj (O king of kings), this message must be for the next generation for it is hard to change the value system of current generation. It is for your son and my son to craft, plan and communicate such a narrative. And they must do so at their own impulse — not as an instigation from us two.

King was impressed with the wisdom of Maharishi. A big load off his chest as he understood we all must pass on the baton to the next generation. That reminded him of Krishna. The divine child who every one talked about. He again folded his hands and said — Maharishi, very well said. If you think appropriate, how about we pose this question to Krishna to see what the next generation think about work ethics verses over reliance on deities. I have heard he is already a Snataka at a tender age!

Maharishi knew Shantanu was consummate negotiator. No one could bring such peace (and rule of law) to such a vast land without the gift of gab. The king knew his way to involve people and make them a voluntary participant rather than holding their feet to his orders. And he was in agreement with what king said. His only concern was if Krishna, a ten-year old, was ready for such a loaded question. He thought for a moment. If one must fail, he should rather fail early. And more important — he must believe in his own astrological prediction. If Krishna was here to change the world, he must be able to handle difficult questions early on. He called a nearby student and asked him to summon Krishna.

The king saw a skinny dark boy with his head shaven as Krishna entered the room. He bowed down to his father and the visitor and asked how he could help. Maharishi introduced the king and told him that king is here to meet the Ashram. Could you please organize a general session after the nap time. King may like to talk to students and ask their opinions on the matters of state and governance.

As Krishna left, Maharishi pointed king to large hut with a windmill atop - Maharaaj you must be tired, why don't you relax for a bit. I will send someone for you for the evening session.

The hut was spacious. Kinda like a guest room that could accommodate a decent size group. The key attraction was the paddle fan that was powered by rotation of windmill. King was very impressed by the engineering particularly for all the equipment was built of wood. No metal or bricks. There was a big pedestal of wood, with white cotton cloth that could double up as a large bed. As king stretched his back, he though about the events of the day. His mind kept going back to Satyawati. He didn't know when he fell asleep. It must be good two hours before his sleep was broken by a slow knock on the door. It was Krishna. He bowed down and asked if King was ready to join the students and Maharishi.

Maharishi had around twenty students. Very few compared to other more commercially oriented Gurukuls for Maharishi was really picky in choosing the students. Since there was always a threat of Asuras, students were extensively trained in arms and physical strength in addition to hard curricula of scriptures. They all stood up from ground as the king entered the open space surrounded with big Banyan trees. There was no roof. The sunlight was passing through the Banyans to the ground and one could hear the gushing waters of Yamuna nearby. It was a peaceful place. King took a seat by Maharishi. Maharishi introduced the king and asked him to address the students and also pitch the questions that he had in mind.

After thanking Maharishi and the students for taking the time without a planned schedule, king talked couple of minutes about the state of the administration. The great work that his son was doing on the water ways. The peaceful treaties with most of the neighboring states and still unresolved conflicts with Asuras. He finally got down the issue of exponential increase in number and extent of rituals. To keep the question open-ended, he asked — What you all think about Naad Yoga verses Nyaan Yoga. Which is better and why?

And he suggested they speak from youngest to the eldest so that youngsters got first chance without having to be swayed by the thoughts of their seniors. And probably he wanted to hear Krishna first and wanted him to have most time for he was the youngest of the lot.

Krishna stood up. He folded both his hands and looked up to Maharishi for his permission to speak. Having seen the nod, he met king's curious gaze and said — Maharaaj Yoga is means to connect with our inner spirit — Atma. It is immaterial how one accomplishes this key element, for the peace is elusive to those who aren't connected to themselves. That said Nyaan Yoga and Naad Yoga are like two wheels of a chariot. It is incumbent on Nyaan Yogies to decrypt the knowledge and in the same manner Naad Yogies are obligated to manifest that knowledge as accurately as humanly possible. Think of these as two banks of a mighty river. The water that flows in this river is known as ˝information˝ Just the way people use water for different purposes — for a thirsty, it quenches the thirst — for a farmer it is the means of irrigation — for a sailor it is transport ; Information may be used by people in different ways but the ultimate goal of everyone is to use this information for connecting to themselves.

Maharishi was satisfied with the answer. This was a standard message he gave to all the graduating scholars. This was the code of conduct for aspiring Yogies, from Maharishi's Ashrama, whichever stream they might choose -Nyaan Yoga of Naad Yoga.

King was thoroughly impressed with the equanimity of the views held by a ten-year-old. There was no doubt in the young teen. His thoughts as clear as the bright sunny day. The king, however, wanted to hear more. He added — I can't agree more, but I have a follow-up for the Yogi. If I may, and he looked at Maharishi for approval.

After getting a green signal from Maharishi, king asked - What if one of the bank of this ˝river of information˝ gets week such that it leads to leakage of floods, who is there to fix it?

King didn't want to mention anything controversial about expanding scope of rituals in a general gathering of young grads. He thus planted a subtle question. Maharishi smiled at the tactfulness of king though he expected nothing less. He was worried if Krishna could handle such an indirect comment.

It didn't take a minute for Krishna to respond — Maharaaj, the kingdom is the community of the king. That is the reason king is sometimes called Praja Pati - one who owns the people. It is for the king to shape his garden the way s/he deems right. If one bank gives way, it must be fortified. All Ashramas have autonomy on what (and how) they teach, but if their teachings impact the community, it is for the king to manage the situation. For example even Asuras have their own Maharishis. They even have their kingdom managed by Asura Maharishi Vrishaparvan. King chose to give them a separate land, far North, because their message appeared to break the fabric of Kuru society. Like wise no school is beyond king's ultimate responsibility, be it a school of Nyaan Yoga or Naad Yoga.

King was struck with the speed and clarity that Krishna responded with. His mind as sharp as his keen eyes. Knowledge seemed to flow from him. Even Maharishi was pleasantly surprised. Krishna was speaking his thoughts but he didn't recall he ever shared politics of the a school of prevailing situation with Krishna. In his mind, rising social status of Naad Yogies was to be blamed for the rise of Asuras. Who could it be! Did Krishna meet Satyawati? - He thought but kept quiet with a smile on his face and trust in his eyes. Whoever it was, Krishna spoke the truth and truth is always right.

King continued the conversations — Since you spoke about king's responsibilities Krishna, what else do you think is important for king? — his eyes full of appreciation. He was genuinely curious what a child Yogi thought about king's job description.

Krishna folded his hands. He said — Maharaaj, I have no experience of the politics so I seek pardon before I share what I have gathered from scriptures.

King looked at the child prodigy with love and respect - Krishna your views are immense value for me. And I seek your vantage for I am truly curious. This is not a test. This is a conversation.

Having understood where the king was coming from, Krishna spoke calmly - Maharaaj king's first responsibility is security of his lands for without a safe border there exists no kingdom. Second is law and order because a kingdom always have a threat from internal chaos. Third, is well-being of his populace because unproductive people seek abrupt changes. Fourth is a well grounded succession plan, because most anarchies occur during transfer of power and finally a king must provide his citizens an able queen, for only a woman may speak "heart to heart" with fairer population. Information travels faster in women that it does with men. As such, queen plays the vital role of managing quicker informal communications. Thus scripture demands a king to have a wedded queen at all the times. The way men pride in their king and seek leadership from him, women do so in their queen. Gender harmony is the basis of Monarchy.

The king was satisfied with Krishna. His council was always after him to formally marry Ganga and after she left, there were many proposals duly vetted by his council. But no one had ever explained to him "why" the way Krishna put it. He did spend more time with other senior students and had many of his trivial questions answered. He didn't realize the sun was already setting in the west - time passed quickly. He quickly concluded the session thanking Maharishi and all his students for the opportunity and sought to leave for he needed to cross the river back to his camp and he was wondering if Satyawati was waiting for him.

On his way out, the king invited Maharishi to visit the capital. He said he wanted to discuss further the affirmative action that he must take to curb and contain the rituals. Maharishi smiled and said - Maharaaj, many times the best way to contain something is to ignore it. If you must do something, then you might consider giving the people a new narrative. Sometimes, the best way to shorten a line is to draw a slightly bigger line by it's side. The way Nyaan Yoga is for knowledge seekers, Naad Yoga is for communicators, a leader of the masses may have their own ideology - Karm Yoga - action orientation. And frankly, I think peace is only accessible to those who act righteously.

What exactly is Karm Yoga - king had never heard of this term before.

Maharishi thought it wouldn't be a justice to the king or the concept itself, to explain it as an 'out of the door' discussion. But this was probably only window he would ever get to rope a seed in king's brain - Mahaaraj it is a state of body and mind where we scan the surroundings to seek what objective physical reality demands of us, and we do exactly the same. Important aspect is to do away all the desires because desires either force us to do something different or they make us action less.

King was impressed with the simplicity of idea. He also realized getting rid of desires was an uphill task. He asked — Maharishi is there any scripture that I could refer to. Have you written down your thoughts.

Maharishi responded with a smile — Maharaaj, this scripture is yet to be written for the scripture of this sort only elucidate the actions of Karm Yogi in the most difficult of circumstances. Before we write something down, we need a public figure to act righteously — his or her entire life. We are waiting for such a leader!

King was a bit intrigued with a blunt answer — most other scriptures are written by sages without a specific example. Why this one needs to follow a true story?

Question was valid. Maharishi understood the spirit - Maharaaj if I write this as something that I think, than it would be purely my point of view. How might one be certain that what she thought was right? Only truth, something that really happened in physical reality is something that may be treated beyond speculation.

King smiled in response. He got the message and he understood the deep wisdom. Karm Yoga must be a path in the middle of the river. He thought why Dev - his son and worthy heir, was so popular with masses. He was big on knowledge, and communication, but more importantly, he was the "man of actions". Always busy in his own act - a Karm Yogi. He would always do what the situation demanded of him. May be Karm Yoga is something he naturally enacts. King saw new possibilities taking shape as the next generation of Dev and Krishna take the reins. He felt satisfied, and the same time he thought Dev and Krishna must meet. They were the keys to the new realm - a reality driven by Karm Yogies.

Before I leave, I have one more question Maharishi - What are your views on Bhakti Yoga.

Maharishi knew this question was coming. He was glad he didn't had to compare Karm Yoga with Bhakti Yoga. He said - Rajan (addressing a king with love and affection), Bhakti Yoga is still in its infancy. The trend that is out there to sit and chant mantras all day long, would soon change. The true emergence of Bhakti Yoga would be to take the example of a Karm Yogi and acting righteously (as needed by reality without desires) by emulating them in one's own life. The scripture that I was alluding to is not a story of a Karm Yogi alone, it was that of a Bhakti Yogi too.

With that, king finally made his way, along with three of the Ashram's best combat trained Yogies and Krishna who were quietly listening to the conversation at the doorsteps of Ashrama. He was already late for his next meeting...


Sun had already gone down as king hurried to the docks. Maharishi had suggested many times to have the king spend a night at Ashram for finding a return passage at this hour might be difficult. Boats stop plying with the sun set. Little did he know that king had already planned his return.

As they reached closer to the bank, king could see a single boat. And he got the unmistakable musky smell as the wind turned a corner towards them. Satyawati had asked Dashraaj's youngest daughter Saryu, who still worked on the boat, to return back home with gold coins for she didn't want to have the gold coins on them as the evening approached. The older sisters were already married in nearby village. Saryu offered to stay back though she wanted to be the one to handover Gold to her father. Satyawati was sure Dashraj must be celebrating the unexpected bounty by now with his undercover Asura friends who stayed in the village having received the immunity from Maharishi. She told Saryu to let Dashraj know she might be very late for she had promised the rich farmer a passage back, and she was anyway used to be on the river in nights. It was not the first time Satyawati decided to stay back on the waters. Many of such nights she been to the island, alone, rekindling the memories of her days with Maharishi and Krishna. Her hopes of seeing them again diminished as the time passed. Sometimes, she wondered, if those days actually happened. Ten years was a long time and each day was a battle with herself. She wondered the moment we get everything we ever wanted - in her case beauty, fragrance and success - we immediately start craving for something else. She also noted that her cravings slowed down as the time passed. They were always at the back but she learnt to live with them and now she was probably ready to move on.

She was quite surprised when she saw the farmer being escorted by three Yogies. She already knew he wasn't an ordinary man for no one would gift gold for a boat ride but the fact that he was escorted by Yogies meant he was lot more than his appearance. She thought to herself - Who exactly is he? Then she saw a boy walking behind them. His dark complexion mixing with the ensuing darkness of the evening. Her heart skipped a beat for a premonition told her it was Krishna - her son.

The older Yogies knew her well from their frequent visits to the village and they had taken her boat number of times to cross the river; but Maharishi had made sure he and Krishna never crossed her path. If this is Krishna, why did Maharishi send him this time. Is there a message? - She was still wondering when one of the older Yogi bowed to her and asked - Maa (means mother but this is a standard way for Yogies to address older women), are you planning a ride across the river ?

Satyawati woke up from her thoughts - Yes Yogi - do you all want to go across ?

No Maa, only Maharaaj would like to go back to his camp on the other side. We are happy to come with you, should you need someone with you on your return. Or we may wait here till you come back. - said the Yogi.

That won't be necessary Yogi. Yamuna is like my mother! I am safer with her than any place on earth - Satyawati smiled - btw, you said Maharaaj? Of where? - Satyawati asked folding her hands.

Yogi almost bit his tongue. He didn't realize that Shantanu was under cover and the thought that he blew king's cover hit him like a brick.

Krishna quickly understood the situation. He was about to speak but Shantanu stopped him with gesture of his right hand.

Devi (a common address for an upper class woman), I am Shantanu, king of Kuru Kingdom - He said, knowing there was no harm in losing his cover. In fact, he thanked the fate for making it easy to let his true identity be revealed to Satyawati. For one he was tired of playing the "hide and seek" through out the day, second he did want Satyawati to know who he was. It had be hard to reveal it himself. That would seem as if he was trying to impress her with his position though he actually wanted to do exactly that.

Satyawati didn't know how to react. He had the most powerful king right in font of her and possibly her long separated son too. She remembered the words of Maharishi - You will rule the world.

She almost sat down by the weight of the moment. She had thought about Maharishi's words almost everyday since she left him and Krishna behind, but she didn't realize the physical truth would be so much bigger, and so abrupt, and shocking.

Krishna moved a step closer and held her hand. Being a child it felt okay for him to hold the hand of a woman almost her mother's age. He didn't know yet he was holding his real mother.

And who are you Yogi, never seen you around - Satyawati asked to reconfirm her premonition.

I am Krishna Maa - Son of Maharishi Parāśara - said Krishna, oblivious to all that had transpired to get to this moment in time.

And who is your mother Krishna - Satyawati wanted to see if her son knew his own roots. When she saw Krishna's face blanking out, she asked - How would you know everything that is there to know without knowing who you are?

A simple question, yet so profound. Yogies left the banks as king and Satyawati boarded the boat. On his way back, Krishna thought why did Maharishi never brought the topic of his mother. Why such a simple truth is hidden from humans. Why don't we automatically know our lineage? - our oldest history.

Any other child would have rushed to his father to know who was his mother. But Krishna was no ordinary child. That night, Krishna climbed his favorite tall tree and sat there. This was his den when difficult questions troubled his child mind. If Maharishi sought not to tell this simple thing, there must be a reason. But more importantly does every manifestation hides something? Is Sun and the moon and the mother Earth that we perceive hide something behind the perceivable. If that was true, would it be right to say bigger the manifestation, bigger was the hidden truth? Then what is the biggest manifestation of all? Isn't it the human body itself, that perceives everything? What does this body hides behind it? Is it what Maharishi calls Atma. He didn't know when he slept, on the tree. Many questions still unanswered but he knew what to ask. And he also knew truth must reveal itself if we asked the right questions. Maharishi had told him never to seek answers. Instead seek the right questions!


1 The notion of invention at that time was different. Most religious accounts say that Vaśiṣṭha lived for more than a thousand years. It seems that Vaśiṣṭha was a family title rather than being an individual. A family that was responsible for remembering all that was ever invented. The knowledge was passed on generation by generation - from parents to offspring. Each generation dedicated to a sole purpose of synthesizing and cumulating the knowledge of all the basic discoveries of their time. They imparted parts of this knowledge to the followers based on their capabilities. Over a long period of many generations, the group of followers increased and turned into a community. Most of the followers spread geographically and many co-located in the Ashrama.

2 Internet runs on a simple networking protocol — TCP/IP. Internet is huge, just like our universe, but the TCP/IP bundle is so small that it could easily fit on a PC of mid nineties with say 64kb of RAM. Even today, it thrives on smaller systems such as Raspberry Pi. The knowledge network is centralized, just like TCP/IP. It implements a client server model. That is because, knowledge is mined through streamlined righteous actions — Karma. Only few people are able to perform righteous actions (in a specific field) to unlock the knowledge. These people, act like a server while rest of the members of the knowledge networks act like clients. Even clients need certain level of dedication and rigor. Thus, knowledge network is top down, and is hard to establish. There are other protocol too, that are fully distributed. For example, the Gossip protocol4. By the very nature of this protocol, it needs a natural pull. It works great when the objects being distributed is not 'hard and dry' like ‘knowledge’, instead it is something enticing to the senses. The gossip architecture is used by the 'manifestations of knowledge' to spread the information that easily attract/ engage the sensory apparatus. Manifestations, by definition, are something that attract our senses. For example a written piece is hard knowledge. It is difficult for most people to have a natural affinity for long written text. But when this text is manifested into a fiction with, it become enticing for the readers. Thus fiction can be spread through Gossip.

3 Rakshsas were humans who believed in animalistic behavior. They thought, only way to survive in this jungle was to have more strength than predators. Thus by natural selection , they grew larger limbs and stronger muscles. They could be as tall as say ten feet. They could uproot the trees with their hands. At the same time, their brains remained small, just like animals. Most of them thought the idea of survival with a smarter brain was at best 'funny'. Some of them also thought that the knowledge driven people who were trying to build a civil society were easy targets.

4 Gossip is used in highly available and fault tolerant systems such as Cassandra. This is a great protocol for infecting a large population of decentralized nodes. For this reason, it is also called epidemic protocol. This protocol is used in propagating information rather than knowledge. A curious application of this protocol is bit coin mining with 'proof of work' consensus algorithm.


< Work in Progress >

< For questions, comments or suggestions — please drop a note to amj@shutri.com >

< Thanks for reading >

Notes — to be added.

  • The Vedas as not the knowledge of say how to light a fire. Or how to sow the seeds. That knowledge got percolated into society by the time Krishna got to write the Vedas. Thus, Vedas are mostly a long list of credits for the contributors of the project that ran for thousands of years. Since the actual people were lost, the ‘thank you’ was in the shape of big modules. All things related to fire were attributed to Agni the deity of fire. All related to the water was accordingly associated Indra the deity of water.