Our desire for moksha is a rajasic-fueled desire due to our frustrations with the physical world and our personal environment. We can often also superimpose elements from Abrahamic religions which dominate the globe that misappropriate yoga’s moksha concept, such as the Christian Salvation or Heaven, which shouldn’t be a focus or goal, nor a means to by-pass social order or dharma in the world and upholding it as many in New-Age circles tend to think.
Moksha isn’t a race and a true yogi isn’t worried about liberation as they help their minds to remain aloof from such and see their lives and bodies as but transient states and vessels through which to work out their individual karmas while remaining content (developing santosha). If one is truly detached and believes in samsara, there is no reason to fear this world or others, but see them as but pictures on a screen alone – not refusing to get involved in the play as many neo-vedantins feel, but remembering that one is an actor alone on the world-stage of a drama and not becoming attached to the “character”; it isn’t about denying one’s part in the role or playing / acting it out!
Many ancient kshatriyas or warriors and kings were also yogis as well that defended the world in the physical and social aspect and also dwelt within the inner worlds when in their personal periods of sadhana or spiritual discipline and practices. Rishi Vishwamitra, Divodasa, Raja Janaka (disciple of Rishi Yajnavalkya), Parashurama, Hanuman (who, for all purposes was a Sanskrit scholar, Siddha yogi (one who attained siddhis or supernatural powers) and Brahmin in his own right, who took up arms); Sri Krishna, Arjuna and Gorakshanatha are also examples of these people who stood for reforming society and social order through kshatra-dharma and also helped ready their karmic side towards the pursuit of moksha or release on the other – neither allowing one to dominate the other. Others as Bhishmacharya were great preceptor kshatriyas as well. Today however, our society has forgotten this and creates an almost blind illusory field surrounding pursuit of moksha in a materialistic fashion, forgetting about our social and moral duty in the world and upholding dharma. Protagonists of this theory label other as “materialists”, when they themselves are simply wishing to fast-forward their own karmas in an almost Christian fashion of saviourhood-belief, rather than work their own karmas out through active works and sadhana. It is a novel idea, but not a reality within Hinduism. On the other side are spiritually redundant social justice warriors that fight for causes with no real logic or background, simply upon their own moral grounds alone, the codes of which they have rewritten and reinvented themselves.
The idea of an “intellectual kshatriya” as put forward by scholars as Dr. David Frawley and Rajiv Malhotra catalyses the true Vedic ideal here, which combines both sides in a more balanced manner. While today’s spiritualist neo-vedantins think anything is too intellectual or debate is beyond them and for plebes, it was the greater vedanta scholars such as Adi Shankaracharya and others that actively engaged in debates historically to save Hinduism from other faiths such as Buddhism and Jainism, that would have otherwise engulfed vedanta and all that was Hinduism – much how the native traditions across the globe are being consumed today and reformatted in a New-Age fashion, quite distinct from their original aspects in their homelands. It is an idea that we must consider and also extend to the physical realm as well.
While many espouse Shankaracharya’s philosophy in its misappropriated neo-vedantic form today, they forget that the entire Advaita tradition, as all schools of vedanta are available to us today and have survived the test to time due to scholarly debates (shastrarths) historically. Shankaracharya like his predecessors and successors was a scholar and not only that, didn’t simply allow the philosophy of “All is One” to be superimposed into the physical social-sphere from the spiritual – he rescued Hinduism and, the vedas and the declining Vaidika systems and didn’t simply sit down and go “all is one, bro! Netflix and chill – she’ll be right!“. No, he was was an “intellectual kshatriya”!
In his article on the “intellectual Kshatriya”, Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) has rightly stated:
“However in the Vedic view a country cannot exist without a Kshatriya order, which is the pillar of the society. The Mahabharata states that if there is not a righteous Kshatriya rulership that employs the danDa (rod) [sic] or is willing to punish adharma, then the people will end up eating each other. In the information age we could say that if Hindus do not create an intellectual Kshatriya then the people will end up destroying themselves with false beliefs and propaganda.
“If a dharmic Kshatriya is not created through the force of Brahma or spiritual knowledge, then the law is that an adharmic Kshatriya will come to fill in the vacuum. This is exactly what occurred not only in modern India but throughout the rest of the world. After the excessive non-violence in the Indian independence movement no genuine Kshatriya could or was created in the country. This left the country prey to a false Kshatriya, based mainly upon Marxist ideals, mixed with war lord temperaments, such as we have found in communist countries, who similarly have misled the people and prevented the real growth of the nation. ”
This is exactly how it is. While the west is today happy to misappropriate the doctrines of ahimsa in India and give them a Jainist twist (as even Buddhist monks defended themselves, as those as Bodhidharma actually took un-armed combat and martial-arts into China and elsewhere), movements of Hindu Acharyas from Shankaracharya and his formation of Vedic Hinduism across India to those as Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati in more recent times that took to pruging India of Islamic and missionary activity, to the Gurkha Hatha-Yogis under the tutelage of Gorakshanantha in the 8th – 12th Centuries and the Sikhs in the 16th Century under Gobind Singh, are historical movements that arose from yoga in India to protect and save both it’s dharma and citizens from Islamic attacks,so that we may enjoy them today and all that come with them that the west appropriates – yoga and it’s tenets of ahimsa, samsara, karma, moksha etc., along with vedanta, ayurveda, jyotisha. Without these wars, we’d have only the Koran being recited and Muslims in the place of Hindus today in India – as has occurred in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc. that were once Hindu nations. Iran has seen Islam almost but annihilate its once thriving indigenous Zoroastrian population, the majority of which now live in India.
This shows India wasn’t aggressive, as it gave shelter to other foreign faiths that were under attack from Islam (hence they still survive in greater numbers in India than their so-called ‘peaceful’ Islamic homelands), but also was effective in protecting itself, its own religions and also others from Islamic threats. These were times before Islamic nations could even consider more dangerous weaponry as nuclear warfare as today.
The question of whether Hindus should now lay low and not engage either Islam or western critics and dwell in a world where everything is philosophically “One” and “Blissful”, then, is a rather ridiculous one. Here, we cannot correlate the physical or dharmic and the metaphysical worlds and superimpose the latter’s view upon the former, any more than we can truly state that Shankaracharya in his Atma Shatakam had no mortal mother or father historically!
On this note, I quote the great yogi, Sri Aurobindo, who said:
“All is Brahman, but in action you have to treat the elephant as the Elephant Brahman and the Asura as the Asura Brahman and neither as merely Brahman pure and simple. One has either to avoid the Rakshasa or overcome him; otherwise the Rakshasa may eat up the man, all Brahman though both be.”
(Letters of Sri Aurobindo: Opposition to Hostile Forces)
Philosophical superimposition not only fails here, but undermines the entire philosophy of vedanta itself, of the Bhagavad Gita and most of all, it’s system of debate and logic (nyaya) through the four pramanas that modern western vedantins also wish to omit; it was and is firstly, an intellectual tradition which is why the great yogis left us with so many texts and their bhashyas or traditional commentaries – that we may understand their words in true fashion, beyond our own preconceptions. Modern vedantin scholars as Sri Ramana, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Sivananda and numerous others have also taught us what true vedanta is – which is merely more than self-hypnosis that we are the “Self”. As, unless we understand the philosophical nuances, what is even the purpose of saying we know about vedanta? It requires years of study of all branches of Hinduism.
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