By Rajesh Mehta & Uddeshya Goel
निष्ठाः धृतिः सत्यं [Dedication, Steadfastness, and Truth], the three paramount pillars of the Hindu mythology, forms the essence of the widely celebrated festival of Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. Dussehra, which is an amalgamation of the words ‘Dasa’ and ‘Hara’ signifies the slitting of the ten evil heads of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra also marks the day when the Goddess Durga, the trinity of goddesses – Laxmi, Parvati, Saraswati, killed Mahishasura. Hence also known as Vijayadashmi meaning the ‘victory that was attained on the tenth day. Although an uncommon fact, Dussehra is also seen as the auspicious day when Arjuna single-handedly put the huge Kaurava army to sleep by invoking the Sammohan Astra in the Virat Youdh. In essence, Dussehra reminds us that being a human we have a part of Mahishasura and Ravana within our souls but we must thrive to defeat the inner evil and follow the path of dharma.
According to the Vedas, we are currently living in the Kali Yuga, the last stage of the cycle of Creation. Apparently, it’s the darkest, cruelest, and most miserable of times that mankind has ever gone through. It is now that we are the furthest from finding God within ourselves and others. Medical conditions are being diagnosed that were never heard of before, crimes committed so regularly that it’s the way of life, betrayals so deep that it’s hard to even trust your own family and ego so big that it’s impossible to be selfless.
While the current paranoia is difficult to overcome, perhaps the inspiration could be drawn from the victories of Durga, Rama, and Arjuna over Mahishasura, Ravan, and the Kauravas by traversing through the path of righteousness.
The common thread between the three victories is that each of them brought an end to egocentric energy. Mahishasura was extremely confident that no woman was strong enough to slay him, Ravana although being the wisest and learned person of his time, fell short of humility, and the Kauravas, hungry for power, deviated from their Dharma. Suryakant Tripathi Nirala in his poem, Ram ki Shakti Puja also describes the root cause of ego as “anyaya jidhar, hai udhar shakti” (where there is injustice, lies power). This statement sharpens the moral dilemma that power easily sways towards the unjust.
In the 21st Century mankind is on the footsteps of these mythological evils. In the quest to conquer the whole world and beyond we are in a relentless process of disruption, closing every means of understanding our inner world. While we are mightily defeating every roadblock on our way, we are being astray by our ego.
We need to remind ourselves that even though Ravana built a plutocratic Sone Ki Lanka, it was burned down in a single night by ablaze. We must emulate the idea of Ramrajya, a society in which virtue, morality, and justice are the core ideas around which the people and their minds are governed. It’s the idealistic approach to keep a check on the vicious and egocentric approaches towards life. It is in such a state of being, where social welfare is at the highest level of priority and the common man is the decision-maker.
Dussehra also provides a crucial message in connection with goddess Durga. She is believed to have the combined power of the three supreme Gods- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who summoned a pillar of brilliant light from which Shakti, in the form of Durga, the ten-armed Goddess of war, appeared. She is loving, caring, nourishing, yet at the same time can be ferocious, menacing, and destructive. Just like how energy has the potential to either create or destroy. This must remind us again of the pre-eminent status women hold in the spiritual and the tangible world.
When Lord Ram was on his way to triumph over Ravana, he bestowed mother nature with prayers and respect to be a catalyst in his victory march. Being a Suryavanshi, Lord Rama initiated the worship of Surya with hymns, which then gave him strength and the power to vanquish evil. Again, when Lord Rama was stuck on the shores of Rameshwaram looking for a solution to reach the Kingdom of Lanka, which was encircled by the sea, he prayed, fastened, and meditated for three long days to the Sea Lord, Varuna.
There are many such instances where Purushottama Lord Rama depicted the power of nature and how one can achieve their goal by cherishing their environment. In current times, when the world is on the brink of a climate crisis with two-third of the world population facing water scarcity and 90% facing pollution issues, it’s the need of the hour to embrace the existence of nature in our lives and move towards a collaborative well-being.
The learnings of Dussehra hold all the inspiration we need in the current times to liberate ourselves and fight the irrationality, communal mindsets, and mismanagement of resources. We need a kaleidoscopic view to find parallels in the problems depicted in our mythology and the ones mankind is facing in modern times. It is only through unyielding moral and spiritual strength that one can stand in the face of adharma (injustice). The battleground is not external, but within one’s self, where a human being has to counter her opponents to stay committed to the path of truth and justice.
(Rajesh Mehta is a leading consultant & columnist working on Market Entry, Innovation & Public Policy. Uddeshya Goel is a researcher with specific interests in international business and capital markets. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)