~ By Mukundan P.R.
The followers of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru (1927-1999), the well known socio-spiritual reformer and founder guru of Santhigiri Ashram, consider him as the great Soul in the prophecies who had come to correct our path and establish true Sanatana Dharma –the Divine Law that should reign forever. The explanation of Sri Karunakara Guru about the spiritual distortion occurred in Sanatana Dharma and the subsequent downfall of India is extremely important for building a new India based on the transcendental values and philosophy of ancient Indian rishis.
According to the Guru, Sanatana Dharma is an all-embracing spiritual system related to creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe as well as the dharmic laws concerning evolution of life in solar system. The knowledge about this spiritual culture was shared and perpetuated through a line of spiritual masters and their disciples and came to be known as Guru-Sishya Parampara or the Wisdom Tradition – the jnana marga. We can see that the source of everything related to Indian culture and heritage has been derived from this wisdom path handed down through the Guru-sishya tradition. It had existed as a righteous and sublime way of life inspiring and touching all aspects of life. It nourished Dharma, i.e. the right knowledge and right conduct that enriches and expands the horizon of life.
In contrast, the Haindava culture (ritualistic Hinduism) has grown through popular temple tradition with all sorts of superstitions, caste restrictions, and so on. The Haindava culture is strongly established here in which different spiritual entities with different identity, naama-rupa – names and forms and rituals were installed in temples and worshipped in order to appease them through tantric and mantric rituals with the intermediacy of priests. Along with this, the practices of blessings, performance of siddhi, miracles and exorcism also emerged. When this type of worship gained strength, there were no takers for the jnana path.
We can understand it in depth only through a review of Indian culture, which flows in two distinct socio-spiritual streams, i.e. the Sanatana culture and Haindava culture as distinct from each other. We know that the ancient-most culture of India is known as Arsha Bharata Samskara or Sanatana Dharma, which is the rishi culture. We have to re-examine the eventful history of how Sanatana Dharma could not elevate itself to its desired status and how it has got degenerated into the present day Haindava culture, through its long course over the ages. We cannot understand this history without mentioning about the kaala ganana or cosmic age calculation of Manu Parampara.
Manu Parampara is related to Manu cycles or the Manvantara order, spanning billions and billions of years, measuring the age and rhythmic movement of the universe. The cosmic phenomenon has got a nucleus, a functional centre from which everything manifests. That nucleus is Manu, the Absolute in the form of Archetypal Preceptor God, the instrumentality through whom the Will of the Absolute is carried out, controlling the temporal dimension including karma and dharma.
Every yuga in a Manvantara fulfills the law of evolution in a structured way. The wisdom tradition envisions a gradual evolution through various time segments known as satya, treta, dwapara and kali yuga within the time period of a Manu, consisting of seventy one age quartets or chatur yugas. There are fourteen such Manu cycles in a single episode of creation known as kalpa. We can guess the depth of Indian spirituality when we know that the length of a chaturyuga itself has a duration of 43,20,000 years. We are in the seventh cycle of such an episode of creation, initiated by Vaivaswata Manu, the seventh Manu. In the present Manu cycle, this is the Kali yuga of the twenty eighth chaturyuga. There are forty three chaturyugas (28+43=71) yet to pass to complete the present Manu cycle.
Indian Cosmic Time Calculation
1 Kalpa = 14 Manvantaras
71 Age Quartets = 1 Manvantara
1 Age Quartet = Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali = 43,20,000 years
The wheel of time called as Kalpa, Manvantara, Chaturyuga etc. is related to the parinaama or evolution of an atomic life-form into the absolute status of Brahman through the ebb and flow of srishti, sthithi, samhara and moksha i.e., creation, sustenance, dissolution and ultimate liberation. In the duration of a Kalpa, the creation completely merges with Brahman, the Supreme Light. This system of time is determined and ordered for the time-bound evolution of karma and dharma of all life-forms beginning from the microbial life-forms.
When this Manu-centric age calculation was distorted, the karma and dharma to be followed according to each age went wrong. Twenty five chaturyugas have passed in this manner. It would be difficult for us to grasp its magnitude in one word. In the Manu-centric Sanatana Dharma, Manu alias the Cosmic Purusha is the Creator, not the puranic gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. From the time puranas, the mythological treatises began to explain creation in terms of trimurty gods, changing the time order of Manu as beginning from Brahma, the ancient Sanatana stream of spiritual culture took a diversion and began to flow through a diversified path, fragmenting Indian spirituality into three broad sects, Saiva, Vaishnava and Saketheya with hundreds of sub-sects.
Navajyotisree Karunakara Guru explains the history of this spiritual distortion in the following words:
‘What we are going through is the time-order of Manvantaras. That is our perspective or cognition of the world. In the Manu-tradition a great spiritual evolute fell from grace (in the third chaturyuga of the present seventh Manvantara). As a result the Brahman initiated a corrective in the seventh chaturyuga (by evolving the Trimurty system) which was brought to a completion in the eleventh chaturyuga. Thereafter astral matters related to mukti were revealed which got codified as Vedas, Sastras and the Upanishads, without changing the old Manvantara order (to reaffirm that order).
Since the sages could not transcend those who received these astral matters did not enquire into the reason why they had received such knowledge. They used their intellect in understanding the path shown by the Almighty and charted their version of the Manvantara time-order chaturyugas, manvantaras and kalpas as subservient to Brahma. Thus they could not invoke Manu, the First Guru and grasp the Error and correct it. This is a peril that has befallen us. The Error was repeated again and again as the evolutes, who were the spiritual authorities of revealed knowledge, could not discover the mystery and unravel it in full before us.
‘[The feeling of ‘I’ (Aham Brahmasmi) developed in the lineage of Manu. In the higher planes of knowing, it was seen that all the wisdom and knowledge attained so far have come through it (the Manu tradition). This ‘I-ness’ can be seen in any of the books of Vedanta. You talk to any common person – this bloated notion of a free ‘I’ (ego) can be seen. When this comes up in the circle of ascetics (brahmacharis), then such notions come forth through the master-disciple lineage. In the tradition of deity-worship (devaparampara), the ‘deva’ (god) I am devoted to or the ‘devi’ (goddess) I am devoted to is the greatest and most glorious (is observed). Because of such possessiveness in individuals, all kinds of deities, chamundi, yakshi, pey, maruta, matan, mantramurthi (dark, evil spirits such as succubi, ghosts, ghouls etc.) became the ‘Lords’. This has happened because of people’s selfishness and egoism.
‘Due to the emergence of Varnasrama, castes and castes upon castes, those who worshiped according to the trimurti tradition could not function in accordance with the goodness of the Age. Earlier to this tales were created using the medium of Srutis and Smritis and they were presented as authentic. Before that, as there appeared the creed of ‘materializations’ some sanyasis themselves handled the traditions of siddhi. As it all came up to this, the tradition of Manu faded away even from memory. This degradation of the times is due to the refusal to modify the customs that required a change according to the age and the falsification of the ideology that the abode of Brahman should all the time be with the celestials (devas) and brahmins’.
The Manvantara time-reckoning was thus re-charted bringing it under the trimurti tradition, giving it a new definition. It distorted the Sanatana spiritual culture that followed the guru-centric jnana path respecting the age-specific dharma and karma. Moreover, the status of guruhood was substituted by temple tradition involving priest-craft and worship of devi-devas. Guru-hood in the Sanatana culture transcends the statuses of all spiritual entities including the trimurti gods, devi-devas as well as the planes of rishi, sanyasi, etc. in the higher spiritual plane, as the ‘Manu Parampara Guru’ appears as the spiritual authority of an age. This deviation fragmented the Indian society spiritually as well as socially.
A worship tradition was in place in which there were different gods for different castes and tribes. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru mentions that it was this spiritual error that has led to the weakening of India’s glorious spiritual past. If India is to resurrect again, reestablishment of the true principles of Sanatana Dharma is of paramount importance. (With inputs from Swami Navananma Jnana Tapaswi, Director, Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala)