Epic tales of labor


In this spirited 16th-century painting illustrating a battle scene in the Bhagavad Gita, the gods look down on the mortal hero Arjuna (far right), who is directed and assisted by his personal charioteer (and God incarnate), Krishna (second from right), during the climactic engagement with the Kauravas at Kurukshetra. Krishna fortifies the will of the wavering Arjuna, convincing him at his moment of moral crisis that it is his duty to proceed and to fight for what is right.

Back home to celebrate Labor Day week end in American tradition with the family. With work ending on this fateful Friday, I proceeded to the city with a CRV full of relatives and luggage. It was a great visit and the traffic proving to be the easiest part of the trip till one hit the $ 13 too at GWB and everyone was paying and queuing up to get past it to where they were going. Pretty remarkable for a steel and cable engineering achieved decades ago, to be still spanning the great Hudson and the barges and ships and yachts floating by far below the cliff face. The city has a life all its own and the theater district was full and the restaurants all crowded with early supper eaters. The big event was of course at Flushing Meadow and due to poor planning we missed the U S Open this year and the relatives who were there.

Back at the lake I heard the splash in the water of a big Bass jumping in its element in the dark night. I looked at the bank of the lake and wondered how all this chaos can be overcome of desire and love and life. There is duty to Dharma and then the mores of society to be followed. The big bass is the slippery ego in this scenario. No matter how hard I try to break free from these constraints; the ego slips in, and disrupts the plan. “Wow how much peace have you attained by standing on this spot in your home,” it whispers at the shore when it knows well that peace is far from the moment. There are bills to pay and labor to do and this week end is a welcome respite from all the daily toil. Freed from the burden of those chores tomorrow is for servicing the trusty vehicle and making sure it is in good running condition when I am away.
Tomorrow will be spent in reading the discourses on the Bhagwad Geeta at Naroup University in Colorado by Ram Dass in the 70’s. I revised a look at his “BE HERE AND NOW” after many decades on the way here on the kindle fire. It was a very poor substitute for the original which was far bigger and the paper and the prints an absolute delight. Arjun the Kshatriya after studying his opponents from his chariot; has asked the question to Krishna of why all he holds in respect and honor; must die on this battlefield of Kurukshetra and why must he partake in this dastardly deed. He has thrown his bow down in despair and refused to fight and seeks guidance from his charioteer and friend. I am avidly waiting for the next revelation tomorrow, as a lot is revealed in the first two chapters themselves. This song to god is an explanation of why we must do karma; and it is in Krishna’s strange interpretations of Dharma, and how Arjun benefits by following the path of war, are the main theme of the book. It is after all a war for their own existence and the righteous must win for the world to go on.
The book is a very small but significant other major Puran the Mahabharata. It is a massive tomb of a people who settled the plains of north India and a record of those times. It is an epic tale and meanders and flows and is only comparable to the other great Puran the Ramayana where the Ram avtar takes precedence in his righteous rule. These millinia old tales are so imbedded into the Hinu myth that even today the enaction of the chapters of the Ramayan and the eventual buring of the huge effigies of Ravan the ten headed wise man and his son Kumbhkaran and brother Megnath in Ramlila grounds in New Delhi even today to celebrate Dusherra and the end of the nine nights of Navaratri,. Traditions go a long way back in those lands and the Ram Mandir agitation in Ayodhya is still a hot spot for communal riots boiling under the surface of the mobs that can run wild at any time. A man who brought Ram Rajya or good governance is now used to defy the current government by instigating old communal fears that lie dormant but are never fully extinguished. Ambers that can light up whole neighborhoods, on dark night if stokeds. May it never come to pass and may cooler heads prevail when the spark is lit by some right wing leader in the vast land.
On Sat it is bedtime as one has to fulfill the quest for new mattresses for the new addition for the master bed. A lot of furniture will have to be moved reclaimed and refinished before this exercise is over. It is a long overdue one too; and we should have done it years ago, to enjoy a better room. Sun is probably back to the city after going to Jersey City for lunch. There is still so much to look forward to enjoy. Karmic laws and labor day are good companions and one should learn from the righteous; that there are paths we do not open our minds to, that are there for us to take.

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