ACHARYA DEVO BHAV
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Shatpath Brahaman quoted in the Satyarth Prakash by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati says “ Matriman Pitravan Acharyavan Purusho VEDA”. It means that a person whose parents and the Acharya or Guru work in unison to shape him or her will definitely be a knowledgeable person. The Acharya has a special role to play in making the life of an individual and, of course, theNation. After all, the Nation comprises individuals. Good individuals make a good nation. And it is the Acharya who makes individuals good. Thus it is the Acharya who makes the NATION great.
DAYS OF YORE
Let us go back to the Ramayan era and look at an example or two to see the close relationship between an Acharya and the Shishya. Tadaka, a she devil, was devastating ashrams of the Rishis in the midst of forests and she hindered the performance of Yajnas by throwing flesh, blood and other obnoxious materials into the Havan Kund. The Rishis, devoted to Adhyatm and Ahimsa found themselves helpless before the well armed Rakshasas.Rishi Vishwamitra took the lead to solve this recurring problem.
Rishi Vishwamitra was well versed in the use of arms and could use the bow and shoot arrows to kill the demons. However, being a Rishi, he could not work himself to that degree of anger and hatred for the Evil that was an essential ingredient in making the war-like personality of a Kshatriya. So, to get over this lacuna, he went over to Ayodhya and presented himself in the royal court of King Dashrath where he was received with honour by the King himself. Valmiki Ji apprised the royal court of the problem and beseeched the King to let the Rishi train Prince Ram and Prince Lakshman in the Art of War and use of special weapon system so that the two Kshatriya princes could destroy the demons and the demonish way of life. King Dashrath agreed to the Rishi’s proposal, though reluctantly.
Rishi Vishwamitra devoted all his time and attention in training the two young princes so well that when the most powerful she-devil of the vast forested region descended in person to demolish and destroy all that was the symbol of the Vedic culture and Aryan way of life, Maryada Puroshottam Shri Ram – still on the threshod of manhood, took her on. The devastating battle was fought well by Shri Ram who killed the she demon after she had exhausted all her devilish tricks to subdue the Prince of Ayodhya but failed miserably. Prince Lakshman did the short shrift of the rest of the Rakshas hordes and came out with flying colours. Indeed the credit for the victory of the Noble over the Evil went to the Acharya of the Art of War, Rishi Valmiki.
The sagacious Rishi rendered another yeoman’s service to the entire nation of Bharat by uniting the two royal households of Ayodhya and Mithila through the Vedic wedding of Prince Ram and princess Sita. Indeed it was the superb training in arms given by Rishi Vishwamitra to prince Ram that enabled the latter in lifting the Dhanush and arming it with an arrow when it broke into two, much to the amazement of kings, captains and savants assembled for the Sita Swyamvar. Thus the Rishi played a glorious role as an Acharya for the betterment of the Nation.
MAHABHARAT is a glorious tale told by Rishi Vedvyas wherein the relationship of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna and the brave archer, Arjuna, has many a moral lessons for the posterity. Let us recall that Shri Krishna was educated in the Gurukula of Rishi Sandipani wherein he had learnt the four Vedas, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, besides mastering the Art of Diplomacy for the betterment of the people at large. We may also recall that Arjuna, along with his brothers, Pandavas and cousins, Kauravas had learnt at the feet of Guru Dronacharya how to make the Impossible- a real Possibility. However, in the epic battle of Mahabharat, it was Arjuna’s friend, philosopher and guide, Yogeshwar Shri Krishna who played the successful role of an Acharya in lifting the spirits of his protégé, Arjuna and helping him at every difficult turn of events so that Arjuna the Archer par excellence could eventually win the laurels when the 18-day epic war came to an end. Indeed Yogeshwar Shri Krishna played the role of Acharya so well that the Guru and Shishya merged their persona into that of close and inseparable friends who stood together through thick and thin.
ACHARYAS AS KING MAKERS
Acharya Chanakya has left an indelible mark on the history of warfare in Bharat. Born of parents who had fallen foul of the royalty of the Magadh Kingdom because of their love of the Truth and penchant of calling a spade a spade, young Chanakya was groomed by the hard realities of life. Deprived of the loving care and attention of his father who was incarcerated by the King Of Patliputra of the Nand dynasty, Chanakya was chiseled by the adversities of life and lived and learnt to fend for himself at every bend on the road of life. Fortunately, the attention of Acharyas and his own determination to get his motherland rid of the corrupt rule of inept monarchs who indulged in debauchery to the detriment of people’s welfare.
Alexander’s invasion of India and sweeping clean the feeble resistance put up bu small kingdoms or succumbing to the invader’s pressure by weak kings like Ambhi lit the flame of patriotism into young Chanakya;s mind and heart and it steeled his dtermination to provide a new king to the Nation and good administration that would look after the meek as much as after the mighty.
King Ghananand of Patliputra had insulted Chanakya in public and treated him so shabbily that Chanakya vowed not to tie his tuft of hair until had dissipated the Nand dynasty and avenged the insult. It was this steely resolve of Acharya Chanakya that motivated him to choose gem of a boy Chandragupt the cowherd and train his body, mind and soul to the extent that he became a good leader of men, an excellent warrior in battle and a devout disciple of his Guru, Acharya Chanakya.
It was Acharya Chanakya who had King Ghananand killed and put young Chandragupt Maurya on the throne of Magadh. Acharya Chanakya had lived true to whis words when he had declared in the royal court of King Ghananand:
“ Samrat Ghananand, Acharya ka apman na karo, Acharya ki god mein Pralaya aur Nirman dono hi palte hain”
A free rendering into English would run thus: King Ghananand, please do not insult an Acharya because it is in his lap that both Development and Deluge are nourished together.
How true were the words of Acharya Chanakya when he had the Nand dynasty devastated as if it were a Deluge and then he reconstructed the State by placing his disciple, warrior Chandragupt Maurya on the throne of Magadh.
Acharya Chanakya did not rest on his laurels thereafter. He inspired King Chandragupt Maurya to build a mighty army from scratch, arm it with modern weapon system, inspire the soldiers and commanders alike with fire and fervor of Patriotism so that they fight against the mighty Greek armies left by Alexander at the time of his departure for home. Seleucus Nikator was their commanding general and they were battle hardened.
Acharya Chanakya through his word and deed inspired the army of greenhorns and put courage into their though and determination into their action. Acharya Chanakya exhorted the Magadh soldiers and generals, not excluding King Chandragupt Maurya, with the words of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna:
“ YUDHAI KRIT NISHCHAYAH”
Go to war and fight with Determination – you will win laurels. Acharya Chanakya had filled his compatriots’ hearts with bubbling enthusiasm and they were high on the wine of Patriotism; love of the Motherland. The Magadh Army under new leadership defeated decisively the battle hardened Greek army beyond the hills and plains of Afghanistan. Their General Seleucus Nikator sued for peace and offered the hand of his petit daughter in marriage to Emperor Chandragupt Mauraya that the latter accepted magnanimously.
CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ
The first Guru of young Shivaji was his own mother, Mata Jijabai. It was on her lap that the young boy learnt stories of chivalry and patriotism from the great Hindu epics, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. He had made up his mind to be a warrior like good Marathas of his clan and throw out the Adilshahi Sultans of Bijapur and the Mughal Kings of Delhi and free his motherland of these oppressing rulers. Consequently, the first fort that he and his compatriots, all teenagers, conquered from the Sultan’s lackeys wasTORNA. No wonder, the first outdoor camp of cadets of the National Defence Academy, Kharakvasla, is nemed Camp Torna – recalling the first victory of shivaji, a teenager.
As he grew in years, his ambition too was knowing no bounds. The crowning glory of his many successful battles with the Sultan’s armies was Shivaji’s encounter with the demon-like Afzal Khan, a general of the Bijapur Sultan. Let us recall that the common man was so oppressed by the Sultan’s soldiers and tax collectors that he had no security of life, limbs and home and hearth. The marauding goons of the Sultan would loot, burn, rape women and kill or maim children to fill the ruler’s coffers and enlarge his harem. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was defender of the faith, the common man and the downtrodden women. His aim was to create a Hindavi Swaraj in the teeth of opposition from both the Sultan and the Mughals.
Sultan Adilshah chose his reputed general who enjoyed reputation as a winner-general, Afzal Khan. However, in the heart of his hearts the Adilshahi general was worried about his survival as he had heard the gallant exploitsof Shivaji on many a battlefield when he defeated and dissipated enemies who posed as strong men but were pygmies at heart. Afzal Khan was no exception to that tribe of invaders who were cowards at heart. He killed all his wives and concubines before leaving Bijapur to the Maratha homeland to capture Shivaji, dead or alive. He had a hunch that he wont return alive. He did not want other men to enjoy his wives’ company after hus demise in battle with Shivaji.
Came the D Day. As per rules of friendly engagement, read war of Deception that Afzal was expert in, the armies of Shivaji and Sultan were to stay at a good distance from the Shamiana under which the two adversaries were to meet. They would be accompanied by two warriors in attendance. Both Afzal and Shivaji entered the Shamiana simultaneously. The wily Khan made an ungentlemanly comment and asked Shivaji how could he manage to erect such a magnificent Shamiana since he was a son of an ordinary Maratha sirdar in the service of the Sultan of Bijapur. Shivaji kept his cool as he had been coached in this art by his Acharya, Samarth Guru Ramdas. Then Afzal made a move of Deception. He said, Shivaji, you are a son of my friend, Sirdar Shahji, so I wish to embrace you. As Shivaji moved forward, Afzal caught hold of his neck and tried to twist it hard to suffocate the Maratha warrior. Shivaji had been warned of this game of Deception that Afzal had practiced many times before.
Shivaji, without losing his wits, pierced his steel claws (Bagh Nakh) into Afzal’s stomach and that forced him to loosen his iron embrace. The Khan attacked Shivaji with a forceful sword strike but it could not pierce the light armour ( Kavach) that Shivaji wore under his long and lose clothes. Shivaji pierced his iron claws deeper into wily Khan’s intestines and they bulged out. His two warrior assistants ordered the palanquin to whisk the injured Khan away. However, one of the Shivaji’s warrior colleague dashed forward like a tiger and with a swift blow of his sword cut the Khan’s head severing it from the torso. It causes mayhem in the Sultan’s army. A gun shot was the signal for the remaining Maratha army to attack the fleeing Sultan’s cowardly hordes.
The gallant Maratha warrior and Defender of the Common Man, Shivaji was victorious and it established his reputation as an invincible leader of men. It heightened the image of his acharya, Samarth Guru Ramdas as a man of supernatural powers that he blessed Shivaji with.
ACHARYA IS DIVINE
When you and I say ACHARYA DEVO BHAV, it explains the reverence that a disciple has in his heart for his Guru and Acharya. It is with the blessings of the Acharya that the disciple moves forward and goes up the ladder of life rung by rung.
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