Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dharma and Networking

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Dharma is bottoms up system. and since it covers everything from social to spiritual aspect of life, it truly is an operating system. Political darwinism does not touch the spiritual aspect of life. Hence, one of the reasons why political darwinists too are drawn towards spiritual aspects of dharma, once their stomach is full..Here is the catch - a full stomach. 

Dharma as a system can function only in presence of certain degree of prosperity. This is what I alluded to my post in which I discussed the proportion of various segments of population in Indian society and how that ratio is of utmost importance to maintain that system of dharma. The top-bottom pyramid structure has necessity of being strictly heirarchial.. 

The description of Dharma is found in BG as a "Peepal tree which is upside down". (Urdhva moolah, adhah shaakha).. The description of system as tree gives added level of complexity as both aspects.

The networking pattern of tree in  branches and roots is similar. the axis (the stem) is the what holds this tendency of branching and complexly networking together. Dharma is the stem. It allows offshoots to exist. It allows to them great degree of freedom to intertwine, diverge, converge etc. But it itself remains still and intact. Hence if one OR many branches are cut down, as long as stem remains, tree regrows.

So far, the information derived from this metaphor is, the networking seen and networking unseen (of roots) is mirror image of each other supported by the shaft of stem (dharma). But what is the reason of this ulta business? why roots above and leaves below, hain ji?

Why invert a tree? The tree represents "Sat" - everything that exists. Most of the metaphors in shruti are designed in a way that they make sense on multiple levels. 

There are different dimensions of the "I" (aatman) in Indian world-view.. When we use "I", we either mean "I (as in pure ego popularly known as Aatmaa OR Ahamkaar)", intellect (Buddhi), mind (Maanas), senses (Indriya), body (SHarira), family (Kutumba), caste (Jaati), community (Varna), society (Samaaj), nation (Raashtra), civilization (Sanskriti), mankind (Maanav dharma), earthlings (Samashti), galaxy (Brahman), universe (Parabrahman).. 

These "I" or egos which I enumerated above are in increasing order of inclusiveness. The tree model is made to fit all these "I".. When considering Dharmaarthik (Socio-Politico-Economic) system or model, out of all these "aatmans", we are interested from family (Kutumba) to mankind (Maanav dharma) identities. Thus, out of these 15 levels aatmans, we are interested in the middle spectrum on only 8 levels of aatmans. 

I have been thinking how the inverted tree makes sense in these 7 aatmans.. In ego (aatman) and universe (Parabrahman) levels, it makes sense saying source (of these identities) is above and from it, the "srishti" and the "Prakriti (nature)" spawns. Again more than Kutumba, the Indic systems have always addressed the social models at "Maanava dharma (Humanity) level". 

So far as I have understood, the inverted tree is a universal case scenario.. out of which, for the 7 aatmans (identities) dealing with socio-politico-economic (Dharmaarthik) aspects of human life that we are interested in, the tree need not be inverted.

Looking at this image, it seems that tree also has a feature of top-bottom structure. the distribution of resources is hierarchical. So is collection of resources. The stuff going from roots to leaves(water and minerals) and leaves to roots (sugar) follow distribution channel which is almost a mirror image of each other. 

One close look at the shloka from Geeta

ऊर्ध्वमूलं अधशाखं अश्वत्थम् प्राहुरव्ययं
छंदासि यस्य पर्णानि, यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् - भगवतगीता अध्याय 15, श्लोक 1.

Roots above and leaves below, such Ashwattha (peepal tree) is called as avyaya (one which never diminishes). Chhanda (poetic meter OR interests) is the leaves. One who knows this, is the real "Knower". 

अध: च ऊर्ध्वं प्रसृतात् तस्य शाखा गुणप्रवृद्धा विषय प्रवाला:
अध: च मूलानि अनु संततानि कर्म अनुबन्धानि मनुष्यलोके.. 15.2

The branches have spread all over, above and below. These branches are constantly growing following their "Gunas" (Characteristics). These branches sprout new sub-branches dealing with various aspects of material life (Vishaya). Thus, based on karmas of these individual branches and branchlings, the perimeter of this tree goes on expanding on earth.

न रूपंस्येह तथा उपलभ्यते न अन्तो न च आदि: न च संप्रतिष्ठा
अश्वत्थमेनं सुविरुढमूलं असङ्ग शस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्वा - 15.3

The beginning, middle and end of this giant inverted tree is not easily discernible, although it is everywhere around us. To obtain it (understand it) one has to use a very powerful Saw known as "Non-attachment".

Krishna is inspired a lot from ideas from Upanishads and liberally quotes Ishavasya and katha upanishad in his geeta. Although, given the context of BG (in war, to motivate arjuna), Krishna has dumbed down this shloka a bit. While he refers to this inverted peepal tree in first line, he suddenly descends to meter OR interests as leaves. 

Lets look at the original verse from Shruti literature.

उर्ध्वमूलोवाक् शाख एषो अश्वत्थ: सनातन:
तदेव शुक्रं तद् ब्रह्म तदेव अमृतं उच्यते
तस्मिन् लोकाः श्रिताः सर्वे तदु न इति एति कश्चन
एतद्वै तत्... - कठोपनिषद - अध्याय 2, वल्ली 3, श्लोक 1.

Roots above and leaves below, such is this "eternally unbroken/continuous (Sanaatan)" Ashwattha (Peepal tree). That alone is pure "Tejas" (Radiance??). That is Brahman. That is what is known as "Amrita". All "Lokas" (people OR universes) are established in this only. Really, nothing can transcend this. This is it..

Thus, based on these four verses, we understand that the relation of the branches dealing with vishayas is determined by their Gunas and karmas (in other words, darwinian theory). While these verses make sense on multiple dimension (from biology, botany to astronomy, what about polity and sociology?) This is the question.

The pattern of areal roots competing with each other to expand the tree is comparable to various meme complexes in particular operating system which arise out of common civilizational core and compete and cooperate and neglect each other depending upon situation, their attributes and their deeds. This can be applied to the topic we are discussing in another thread (about ancient and medieval trade in India). 

The pyramidal structure of areal roots also tells us one more important thing. pyramidal "top-down" heirarchy is possible in various institutions of a civilization as long as the main shaft and overall pattern of tree (civilization) is like shown in figure. Thus, in limited scale, the political darwinism (as implied by pyramidal top-bottm org) is not antithetical to Dharma. 

In fact, it is inherent in Dharma. It is an essential factor in tree's expansion. Krivanto Vishwam aryam is a materialistic desire (a Vishaya) and happens according to Guna and karma of individual branchlings and leaves and flowers and fruits and seeds. The connection of two pyramids (formed by networking of roots and branches respectively) is through stem alone. This stem is Dharma. 

The areal roots refer to certain "extra constitutional" links between two pyramids which bypass the stem (in spite of how big the bandwidth of dharma is) in order to facilitate expansion, balance and make certain quick decisions which need to be executed but may not be dhaarmik..

What is limited scale - Everything which does not alter the gross picture, is limited scale. Of course, there are levels of "distortions" every system (tree) is prepared to accept, beyond which the relation between the main tree and the branch turns hostile. What that level of accentance is for the tree of "Dharma" is interesting to see. One of the indicators of that "acceptable level of distortions" is 1857.

In terms of Dharma as in civilization, the key word is networking and not hierarchy. This is also seen in actions of Sri Rama in those 13.5 years of exile. Creating, fostering and protecting (and learning from) networks of ashramas, gurukuls and other materialistic branches (institutions).. Few of these institutions can be (perhaps need to be) hierarchical. But not all, and not the core ideological base behind any of them.

1 comment:

veegopalji said...

Excellent analysis of Ithihaas !
It runs like a thriller book !
Great Work !