Natural State of Things – China, India and the World

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Though I have written about this many times, it was more of an incoherent set of comments in response to something else.
Every country has got it’s own philosophy of governance. An older civilization which has stood the test of time and which has been ruled always in the same way for ages is not going to change that easily. Even if there is a blip, it is but natural, with passage of time, these countries will tend to move towards their natural state. The question is, is there any such natural state in the modern world?
Let’s take the two main points of focus in Asia – China and India. China traditionally follows something called a Mandala System. Mandala in Sanskrit means a circle. The system works like this. China is the big circle. There are some neighbouring entities for China like Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, Manchuria and others. Then, there is another level of smaller circles for these second level circles – Ladakh, Bhutan, Sikkim etc. Anything lesser than that, though possible(like Zanskar), is not that practical enough.
The second level circles are such placed geographically that they can’t interact with any other country. Same goes for the third. Now, how does this model work? China, by being the bigger circle, linking all the smaller circle offers it free access to all the second level circles. A Tibetian can go and work/trade in Korea, a Korean can serve as a part of Chinese imperial Army in Vietnam. But, China will never interfere in the internal policies of any of these smaller circles. In case, say, Tibet is facing an invasion, China doesn’t send an army. It’s Tibet which will fight the war. Only if Tibet says I need help, China will pitch in. For a war in Tibet, China doesn’t order Korea or Mongolia to send troops. Tibet can ask, but China doesn’t. Once the war is won, China will simply go back – it won’t stay and dictate policies. In return, China asks paper vassalage. So, what benefit China has got? Markets for it’s produce and extra military depth. What has the vassals got? A free market and a master who doesn’t bother about the internal independence. The vassals are more advantaged than the master and they will be in eternal gratitude for that – they voluntarily accept the position of a vassal. Take, for example, Japanese invasion of Korea in 1500s. Korea tried to beat back the invasion. It failed and China had to come to correct the situation. And, China simply went back. The story changed after 1750 where Qing China decided to directly annex these vassals. This went on and off – when the centre was weak, the vassal got independent. The situation is this. Qing doesn’t know the way of life of Tibet. It doesn’t know how to rule the people and what endears them to the Tibetians. This bondage, in return, resulted in rebellion against China. For something which China is voluntarily getting, it is expending tremendous energy to enforce it through the use of force – there are popular rebellions, there is army highhandedness, there are policies which people didn’t like. But, when China withdrew from Tibet, the status quo was reestablished.
This is the situation China is in today. It is forcibly attempting to control entities which voluntarily follow China. And to maintain this façade, China needs a strong centre. It needs to project itself as a street bully whom everyone prefers not to approach. It is the same reason why China is acting such belligerent. It needs to project that it is strong and can never afford a war which can impact this status quo.
What is Indian model, then? India is not a single country – there are always small kingdoms which are out of reach of a strong centre which theoretically represented India. This centre, as time progresses, will absorb some independent kingdoms which flexed it’s muscles after the last round of chaos which gave this new centre to form(to make more sense, take it something like, Lodhis came strong, they wilted and were taken down by the Mughals. There were rebellions, which the Mughals gradually suppressed) – some of these were absorbed into the royal lands and the rest, allowed to govern on their own, but all of them are governors, not vassals. He may be a governor appointed by the ruler in the centre or a hereditary king, but he is just a governor. He has to maintain an army according to his stature and will be summoned to fight a war anywhere. Note that it’s not his army, but the central army garrisoned at a location. There is no Jaipur Army, there is no Orchcha army, it’s always Mughal Army. It’s that Mughal army which fights for everyone.
It is interesting to note that India is still following this model of governance – only that, there are no hereditary governors.
The most important point of this model is, both the countries ruled the world as economic superpowers when they were in their traditional model of governance. China is not following it’s model while India is, to some extent. What is the problem with China? It’s wasting it’s energy trying to control entities which it need not to. And going by the fact that China is a sea oriented economy and with wealth concentration solely on the coast and the gap increasing by the day, if spending too much money on military posturing, which will increase with India’s belligerence is going to widen the gap, eventually ripping the country apart. What’s the problem with India? By frequent change in policy decisions, there is no stability in approach. I don’t say democracy is wrong. But, decoupling economic policy making and populism will reduce the fickleness in finalizing the minutiae of the long term policy decision.

What is the natural state of things?
1. The realization that there is no need of any market outside India-China-Iran historic belt – they themselves hold two thirds of the world population.
2. The acceptance of the fact that the independence of entities like Tibet or Chinese Turkestan is inconsequential
3. Open borders and an East Asian Free Trade Zone.

One of the greatest challenges for this to happen, which will happen for sure, is the nuisance of Pakistan. Where does Pakistan stand in this? Pakistan cannot survive on it’s own and needs life support. First it was America, now, it’s China. But, is it such a serious problem is what we need to look into.

The Exile of Yudhistira – Rajatarangini

A beautiful piece of poetry with which Kalhana ends the First Taranga. Yudhistira lost interest in governance and covered himself with sycophants. Irritated, a coup was launched against him and he was exiled. Below verses describe his exile.

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Then permitted by them to leave his own country, after the fight had been called off and time allowed to him, the king emerged for this purpose from the heart of the city of Srinagara on the high road on which were scattered, in lieu of parched grain, drops of tears of the distressed citizens at the sight of the exodus of the royal ladies who were covered with the dust from the hoofs of the horses. 367

The king having been deposed from the throne his retainers, ladies, treasure and the like were carried off by his enemies while he was fleeing, just as the creepers and fruits from a tree fallen from a high mountain are forcibly borne away by mighty boulders. 368

Proceeding along lovely mountain paths the king, yielding to fatigue, rested under trees; sitting for a while and then moving on, he forgot his great sufferings; anon awakened by shouts of the vulgar which reached his ears from afar, he was seen dejected, his mind sinking in an abyss like the waters of a cataract. 369

After crossing forests heavily perfumed with the scent of many varieties of creepers and herbs and the mountain streams with boulders, which were tossed by the surging waters and which were slippery with moss, his queen, whose slim figure had the semblance of a lovely lotus plant, becoming weary would place her limbs on his lap and faint. 370

From the spur of the mountain on the frontier while the royal ladies offered handfuls of flowers as a leave-taking, even the birds resting in their own nests in the caverns of the mountains rushed down in excitement in flocks and, spreading their wings and bending their beaks towards the earth’s surface, began to cry. 371

The royal ladies, who had tied on their bosom the upper garment which had slipped from their heads, watching their own land from a distance placed their hands on the foreheads and wept tears which streamed like a rivulet on the way. 372

The Kashmir Drama – Much Ado About Nothing?

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First, look at the below data.


The area where this stone pelting drama is happening is just five districts of Kashmir Valley. That area is 8.9% of Jammu and Kashmir excluding Aksai Chin and Illegal Kashmir and 25.54% of population. Compare with India, it’s .29% of area and .26% of population. So, what exactly are we seeing here? The protests are confined to a minuscule area  of India, an area obscenely overpopulated and with a rising population. Article 370 ensures that this area is mostly inbred with no non-local blood being infused into it.
For the ruckus created by .25% of India’s population, is it even worth our time to talk about it? It’s something for all the Indians, mainly the press and the political class to introspect over – why are we giving that much importance to something that trivial?
And to the army. What exactly is it proposing to do, in wake of such stiff opposition from local polity and opportunistic people? Can an army with hands tied behind it’s backs crush an open rebellion, albeit mercenary in nature? What exactly is the army, without support of the local governance and even press, supposed to do?
Take some things.
1. The protest is happening solely for money. Every stone-pelter is paid money. If the rat lines run across the border, choke them. If they originate on our side of the border, catch the culprits and indict them immediately. Ensure that the ratlines are not established again.
2. Create a split between the leadership and the foot soldiers. It is important to note that no one from the families of Geelani, Mirwaiz, Bandarbi and the rest are involved in the protests. They are using their influence and money power to destroy the families of others. If need be, bring in the family members forcibly by force to lead the masses. The hypocrisy will be out in no time.
3. Use of technology. When it is clearly known that the protests are organized through whatsapp, what’s the problem in using technology to counter that? What you need is one phone from a stone pelter. Communication, end-to-end, can’t be decrypted, but the member list in a group isn’t? Get the list of all the groups in his phone, take the list of all the users, drill down four or five levels for those users and make a list of all the users. Put a tab on them for a week or so, and in one fell swoop, capture them. They are not going to be more than 1000 or 2000. Give an option of a peaceful life elsewhere in India or a jail term in Kashmir Valley, they will automatically wilt. Note that a battle is fought with foot soldiers, not Generals. Take their armies away, Subutai or Rommel or Hannibal are but jokes. Do the same for Facebook and Twitter – a detailed profiling of their character can be made using these two public forums along with proofs.
What is lacking with us is the resilience – resilience in adapting and changing according to situation. If it needs looking at what others are doing – China, Israel, Russia and others, so be it.

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The Legend of Chandralekha

This story is clearly presented as a moral. It talks about what happens when a king forgets his duty in lust for a woman and what happens if, in a sudden spurt of anger, the protector forgets his duty. And note that curious statement – they were not spared even if they have took refuge of the shrine of Chakradhara. Sourced from Ranjan Pandit’s translation.

There in a certain park of the city, tradition relates, was a pool of limpid and sweet water which was the residence of the Naga named Susravas. Once upon a time a Brahman named Visakha, wearied by a long trek, approached, at midday, desirous of shade, the edge of that sheet of water. Under a shady tree, when his weariness was becalmed by the sylvan breezes by slow degrees, the Brahman, after ablution, prepared to eat his porridge. Just as he was about to take it in his hand, he heard the tinkling sound of anklets to which the swans sporting on the fringe of the pool had already hearkened. Emerging from a bower of creepers in front of him, he then saw two maidens with lovely eyes wearing blue shawls. To the ear-ornaments of rubies their alluring, bright and elongated eyes with the thin line of collyrium bore the semblance of the stem of the red lotus. The comers of their captivating eyes, unsteady like the edges of a gleaming white banner in the gentle movement of the zephyr, heightened the beauty of their shoulders. Watching these two moon-faced maidens as they were slowly approaching, he ceased from commencing to eat and, time and again, through bashfulness, he was confused. He beheld the lotus-eyed maidens eating the pods of Kacchaguccha, in front of him, when to a certain extent he could again move his eyes.

“Heigh-ho ! is this the food for such lovely persons” — thought the Brahman to himself and, melting with compassion, he politely invited them and fed them with porridge. And he fetched, contained in cups made from leaves for a drink for them, the clean and cool water of the pool. When after ablution the two had become clean and consented to take their seats, he, while fanning them with a palm leaf, addressed them.

“Your humble servant, having obtained through some good acts of a former life the sight of you, is tempted through curiosity, which is commonly found in a Brahman, to enquire. What noble family have the fortunate ladies graced by their birth and where did they get so weary that such tasteless food had to be eaten?”

One of the ladies replied to him, “Know that we are the daughters of Susravas; where dainty food is not available why should such food not be eaten? I am Iravati; father has arranged to give me in marriage to the lord of the Vidyadharas. This is my younger sister Chandralekha.”

Thereupon the Brahman said, “Why then is there such indigence in your case?”

They both replied, “Father knows the reaison of this; you may ask him. Here on the twelfth of the dark half of Jyesjha he will come for the pilgrimage of Takshaka; you will no doubt recognise him by his plaited locks which stream with water. You will also see us both at that time standing by the side of him”; so saying the two Naga maidens, in a moment, vanished from view.

In due course at that place commenced the great festival of the pilgrimage, teeming with dancers and strolling players and a concourse of sight-seers. The Brahman, too, drawn by curiosity while strolling near the theatres, soon came up with the Naga whom he recognised by the sign indicated by the maidens. To the Brahman, who was first presented by the maidens who were standing by, the leader of the Nagas offered his greetings.

Thereafter in the course of conversation, when asked at some stage about the cause of his adversity, the Naga, heaving a sigh, said to the Brahman. “For those who are proud, O Brahman ! and can discriminate between what is meet and unmeet it is right that they should not give publicity to sufferings which, of necessity, have to be endured. On hearing of the woes of others a good natured man, when unable to oblige, is pained at heart. He makes much of his own way of life, with his words of sympathy he conveys sadness to the heart, he openly cavils at one’s capacity, while he, meagre of intellect, eulogizes his ownself; he recommends a recourse to questionable methods and describes the misfortune as a permanent one; a common person on hearing of adversity aggravates the painful agony. Thus it is that so long as there is life, the discriminate digest their joys and sorrows in their own minds until eventually they are consumed by the funeral fire. Who could from their exterior notice the misfortune of those, who by nature are profound, were it not revealed by their callow children or the servants!”

“Thus, since this matter has already been disclosed owing to the tender age of these two girls, O kind friend! to conceal it from you will surely not be proper on my part. You, however, who are straightforward by nature, O fortunate one ! may make an effort to a certain extent to help our cause if possible. Yonder ascetic with the shaven head and one tuft of hair, whom you see under the tree practising austerities, by that keeper of the crops we have been put to our shifts. So long as the spell-mongers have not eaten of the new grain the Nagas cannot eat. This fellow does not eat it and because of that regulation we are perishing. While he guards the fields we are nowise able to enjoy the bumper crop, though we see it like the departed spirits the waters of the rivers. Please act so that this Naisthika may fall from his vow; on our part we, too, know how adequately to requite those who oblige us.”

That Brahman, having said ‘amen’ to the Naga, became keen to endeavour and began day and night to think of some way to overreach the guardian of the crops. Secretly, while the ascetic was seated inside a hut which was away in the fields, he then placed new grain within the vessel in which food was being cooked. No sooner had he commenced to eat it than the lord of the Nagas, having poured hail and torrents of rain, carried away in a trice the rich and glorious harvest.

The Naga who had passed out of destitution led, the following day, into his own region the Brahman who had obliged him and who had approached the pool. He was treated there hospitably by the two maidens by command of their father and was regaled with luxuries, day after day, which are available to the immortals. In time having taken leave of everyone, he was ready to go to his own land, when the Naga having promised to grant a boon, he prayed for the hand of Candralekha. Albeit he was unworthy for the alliance the Naga, yielding to the dictates of gratitude, honoured him with the gift of the maiden and with wealth.

In this manner having acquired wealth by favour of the Naga Chief, the Brahman whiled away a long time in the city of Narapura in all manner of daily entertainments. Although she was the daughter of the lord of the Nagas, the lady of superfine comeliness treated this husband as the deity and by her noble character, good behaviour, and like qualities made him happy.

While she was, on one occasion, standing on the terrace of her residence a stray horse began to feed on com left outside to dry in the sun in the courtyard. To drive the horse away the servants were called, but no one happening to be at the time in the house she, whose anklets tinkled sweetly, then descended in person. With one hand she held the edge of the vesture of the head which in her hurry had slipped; she ran and with her hand like a lotus flower, she then slapped him. He left the food and moved on; but thereafter there appeared, by the touch of the Naga lady, on the body of the horse the golden imprint of her palm.

About this time king Nara, having heard from his spies of the Brahman’s wife with the lovely eyes, had already experienced the sprouting of love. When the maddened elephant of his heart was about to bolt, to restrain him by force there existed no fear of a scandal for a hook. In the insurgence of the rising flames of the king’s passion the story of the horse, on the other-hand, bore the similitude of the violent gale. He was made to transgress the bounds of discretion by the golden imprint of the palm with the beautiful tapering fingers.

Freeing himself from the fetters of decorum, he now began to harass the lovely lady by endeavouring to seduce her through emissaries who related his inmost longing. When all his methods failed to win her, in his infatuation he begged for her from her husband, the Brahman. In those who are blind with lust how can there be shame ! Then getting repeated rebuffs from him also, the soldiers were ordered by the king to carry her away by force.

While they were raiding the house in front, the Brahman escaped by another passage and seeking asylum he, accompanied by his wife, entered the residence of the Naga. When the couple approached him and the facts were reported to him the lord of the Nagas, blind with rage, sallied forth from the pool. Having caused a blinding darkness originating from the fearful clouds which thundered, he burnt down the king together with the city by a terrific shower of boulders. Carrying the marrow, blood and fat oozing from the bodies of the burnt human beings, the Vitasta bore the semblance of the printed plumage of the peacock. Thousands of human beings, who had entered through terror the shrine of Cakradhara for refuge, were consumed in a trice. The fat of Madhu and Kaitabha had formerly reached only up to the thighs of Cakradhara, but by that of the burnt up human beings on this occasion all his limbs were sprayed. The sister of Susravas, the Naga lady from a cave of the Ramanya mountain, then came to his assistance bringing with her heaps of boulders. At the distance of little more than one Yojana when she heard that her brother had achieved his end, she dropped a shower of boulders on the villages. Five Yojanas of rural land was thus laid waste and known as Ramanyatavi; it is even to this day full of heavy boulders and holes.

After doing this hideous slaughter of humanity, next morning the Naga was full of remorse and being depressed by the denunciation of the people, he abandoned that locality and departed. Gleaming like the ocean of milk a lake was constructed by him on a distant mountain, which on their way to the pilgrimage of Amaranatha, is visited by the people to this very day. Through the favour of his father-in-law the Brahman had attained the status of a Naga; one other called the ‘lake of the son-in-law’ in the locality has also become celebrated.

Under the guise of protecting the subjects such types of destroyers arise, of a sudden, now and then who unhesitatingly cause devastation. To this very day, on seeing the debris of that city and the lake which survives as a dry depression near Cakradhara, this legend is recalled by the people.

Passionate lust may be merely a trifling fault in kings in the opinion of persons of narrow vision, nevertheless what befell this one, as a consequence of it, has not been the lot of anyone anywhere. In the case of the virtuous woman, the gods or a Brahman— as the result of the anger of anyone of them— one has heard in diverse legends of an upheaval even of the three worlds.