Shraddha & Nishtha : Faith & Conviction

A reader wrote….

I am a religious person who has taken initiation into a disciplic succession through a Guru. Bhagvad Gita and Mahabharata are very important for my Sampradaya. I came across your works because of my interest in Mahabharata. I also read your Ramayana book.

I am writing to you because I am struggling with the following: While I am impressed with your work and wonderful ‘experiments and testing and validation’ you do for each of the Mahabharata/Ramayana references in determining the timing of these two great instances, my faith tells me to listen to one’s guru or Sampradaya position, according to which Mahabharata happened about 5000 years ago (~3000 BC) and Ramayana happened a very long time ago (no exact date is held as authoritative by my Sampradaya). I am struggling to reconcile your findings with position of my Sampradaya.

This also brings me to another question. Your work is scientific which is great but what is your position about Krishna (or Rama) as Supreme God?

Thank you for your time.

My Response….

I will answer some of your questions. I am not qualified to answer everything you are asking and frankly I am not sure what exactly you are asking me to answer.

While I do not like to quarrel over mere words, since you mention ‘Shraddha’, I will tell you briefly the role Shraddha (I prefer- Nishtha – Conviction) played in my research work.

When I began my work on AV observation about 20 years ago (1995 CE), only basis I had for me to stick to this work was my ‘Shraddha’ or ‘Nishtha’ in the words of Vyasa – author of Mahabharata.

By no means this is an easy conviction to have or keep. After all Marxist/communist driven history writing has done so much harm to study of Indian history where doubts are raised about almost everything as felt convenient by them. I was raised in such a set up, where all academic works were busy researching on interpolation and multiple versions of a specific ancient document (e.g. Mahabharata text). These incompetent researchers had created (and continue to create) doubts in young minds about authenticity of these ancient works.

I began with the conviction that what Vyasa said is true. Thus, my goal was to find out why he said what he said, and if that is not the factual situation in our times (e.g. description of AV observation at the time of Mahabharata War), could this have occurred in the past and when.

I will leave it to you how you want to resolve the conflict between ‘stated’ position of your Sampradaya for the ‘timing of Mahabharata War’ vs. timing proposed by me.  I am hopeful that you reach the right conclusion.

Your last question.  The question is certainly beyond the scope of the theme of this blog.  However since question is indeed related to Rama and Krishna, key personalities of Ramayana and Mahabharata, I will share my thoughts.

It is my Nistha (conviction) that both Rama and Krishna reached the God-like status, precisely because of their qualities and deeds and not the other way round.  The issue is not limited to these two and not limited to Hinduism.  In fact, Hinduism has, IMHO, most mature understanding of deification of an individual.  Many other Sampradaya struggle lot worse.

As in illustration, it is not unusual (used to happen a lot when I lived in Canada) that many Christian groups (typically in a group of 2-3) would approach me (as they would approach others) and ask questions such as….

“Do you accept Jesus as Son of the God?”

And my genuine and consistent response is/was…

“Not unless we all are!”

Back to Rama and Krishna as supreme God….

It is my conviction that they were human beings and by their valorous and  righteous social acts, they attained God like status.  In fact word ‘God’ is extremely limited (and history centric in its connotation).  Word ‘Bhagvan’ may do a slightly (and only slightly) better job.  Thus Bhagvan Vyasa and Bhagvan Buddha and so on.

In any case, you asked the question and I have put forward my thoughts.  They serve me well.  I do not insist on imposing them on others.  Ultimately, proof is in the pudding.

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