Bṛhat

Fractal Mandala
The Fractal Maṇḍala, Part 2
A continuation and conclusion of part 1, where we established the notion of civilizational trajectory, marked two fundamental problems in it, and appraised the Indian experience on the same to make the case for our civilizational primacy.

This is a continuation and conclusion of part 1 posted here, where we established the notion of civilizational trajectory, marked two fundamental problems in it, and appraised the Indian experience on the same to make the case for our civilizational primacy. We continue now with the third fundamental problem:

3: The Fundamental Problem of Conflicting Ethos

Petty religions, ever anxious and insecure, their pettiness always causing internal rifts, do not rise above the level of us-vs.-them. They remain grappling with the fundamental problem of multiple tribes, their solutions no more sophisticated than wiping out those that are not “us.” But viewed from the level of civilizational trajectory, once multiple tribes have united under a common ethos, they must then face the ethos of other tribal collectives. It is easy to call this a problem of conflicting religions, but in reality it is the problem of conflicting dharmas- or rather of dharma vs. adharma.

Indian civilizational memory of course has grappled with this problem many times over. It began with Hiraṇyakaśipu, who could not accept the dharma of his son and resorted to adharma to impose his will. It happened again with Veṇa, who grew vain and oppressed his people. But these were individual jīvas straying from dharma, and even the great Deva – Asura rivalry was not one of conflicting ethos. It is relatively convenient when dharma is stable, and there are the odd deviations from it now and then. It is vastly more complicated when the other side plays with a different dharma, or rather without dharma at all.

By the 7th manvantara, our ancestors were well on the path to being an advanced civilization of their time. They developed writing, planned architecture, advanced geometry and mathematics, organized large-scale agriculture, Bronze Age metallurgy, hydraulic engineering, long-distance trade and more. It was a significant level-up on civilizational trajectory, having formulated resolutions for the above-listed fundamental problems. But as populations increased, as the people diversified and as the mesh network developed more and more stray ends, the spread of dharma diluted- and emerged those who did not play by it.

We could take the case of the Haihayas, an ancient Indian collective descended from Yadu, himself one of the 5 sons of Yayāti. We will come to the other branches shortly, but for now it must be noticed that the Haihayas are remembered unambiguously as adhārmika people. When they waged war, they spared neither women nor children. When they attacked cities they did not just drive out the incumbent rulers, they razed the cities to the ground and displaced their inhabitants. They showed no regard to the keepers of dharma, wantonly burning entire forests to destroy the āśramas within them. So great was their power and spread that one among them, Kārtavīrya Arjuna, is remembered as a samrāṭ- a clear acknowledgment of his conquest. But crucially, he is not called a cakravartin. He may have conquered civilization, but he was not a mover of it. He did not turn the wheel of time forward, rather he set it back.

With the Haihayas, Indian civilization learnt a new lesson. In resolving the first fundamental problem, it learnt the value of tolerance, acceptance, co-existence and pluralism- such that even today it stands as the best example of these values. But the Haihayas forced it to understand the problem with tolerating intolerance. It is all well and good to consider the whole world one family, but when dharma itself is in danger a different strategy must be adopted. It is a lesson we would be made to learn again and again. And again.

Enter Sagara. Enter Pratardana. Enter Marutta. Enter the realization that dharma must be protected, sometimes by violent, aggressive and assertive means.

When Sagara Aikṣvāku sets out to reclaim land and region for his people, he takes on many enemies. The stories of his treatment to non-Haihaya enemies is exemplar of the Indian resolution to problem 1. He does not harm innocents, women or children. He does not destroy cities or property. He wages dhārmika war on the warriors among his enemies, and once they are defeated he accepts his guru’s counsel to exile them- not decimate them. He was battling different tribes here, but not people with a different ethos. This is why even those defeated people turned to Vasiṣṭha, and he endorsed their plea for mercy to Sagara.

With the Haihayas it is a different story. He grinds their cities to dust, he spares not a single Haihaya, and he ends their entire line. There is no rope here, no negotiation, no guru’s counsel for peace and no exile. There is, despite how distasteful the word may appear, only extermination. And we should be clear- this wasn’t Sagara’s project alone. This is what Pratardana did when he reclaimed Kāśi for his people, and what Marutta did when he drove the Haihayas back and re-established the janapada of Vaiśālī. This is what the Indian civilization did, for it understood that the fundamental problem of conflicting ethos requires firm solutions. We remember this firm solution as the story of Rāma Jamadāgneya, who wipes the kṣatriyas (Haihayas) from the face of this earth twenty-one times over.

Of all the lessons our civilization has learnt in its past, this is the one it has arguably forgotten the most. The only extant civilizations of the world today are those who have unapologetically defended their ethos, and continue to do so. Those that woke up to the danger too late, as dodo birds, now survive in museums or as tour-guides to the sacred spaces of their ancestors- parroting propaganda about their own history. Such is to be our fate, and in places already is, if we do not relearn past lessons.

And just to prove that the Indian solution to this problem is not simply wiping out those that do not play by the same rules as us, we turn to the other sons of Yayāti, or rather the branches descended from them. These too developed conflicting ethos, even as they drew from the same ancestral well and civilizational trajectory. Both the Pūrus and Ānavas considered fire to be sacred, and both mythologized ancestral names of the past, as both inherited the legacy of Śukra and Bṛhaspati, of Daityas and Ādityas. But while the Pūrus threw everything into the fire, including the dead, considering it to be a great purifier, the Ānavas considered fire itself to be of ultimate purity and refused to throw anything into it- including the dead.

This is not one tribe against another, or one religion against another. These were conflicting ethos, and add to this the Druhyus, Yadus, Turvaśas, Ālinas, Pākthas, Bhalānas, Ajas, Śighras, Dasas and more. Inheriting a leveled-up civilization, headed to the high days of Mature Harappan by 2500 BC, they held ownership over the accumulated wealth of Samudra Manthana and Pṛthu, of the many Manus, of Mehrgarh, Bhirrana, Rakhigarhi, Lahuradewa and more. Some among them were belligerent like the Haihayas, destroying canals and disturbing the irrigation of established cities- as chronicled in the dāśarājña of the Ṛgveda. Others paid no respect to the property and wealth of others, such that cattle-raiding was an ever-present concern. We see from the many campaigns of Divodāsa Atithigva, and the several battles of Sudās Paijavana, that this would have reduced to a state of incessant us-vs.-them, of multiple tribes always in conflict. We would have deprecated on the civilizational trajectory. Enter the Vasiṣṭhas, perhaps commencing with Maitrāvaruṇi. To quote Findlay, Vasiṣṭha’s Indra-Varuṇa hymns have an

“embedded message of transcending all thoughts of bigotry, suggesting a realistic approach of mutual coordination and harmony between two rival religious ideas by abandoning disputed ideas from each and finding the complementary spiritual core in both.”

The Śukras and Bṛhaspatis, the Bhṛgus and Āṅgirasas, the fire-bringers and the metallurgy-magicians, had done their job. They had laid down the palimpsest that is Bhārata, but much more was to be carved atop yet. Each layer of India’s civilizational trajectory builds atop another, and with the Vedic Indians it was time for yet another layer. It was time for our civilization to become fractal.

When you (re)embed the same wisdom and insights at every new level of civilizational trajectory, you give to your civilization a fractal character. No matter what level one zooms into, or out to, one finds the same themes playing out- the same civilizational ethos and archetypes.

What Vasiṣṭha did for the Vedic Indians was no different to what Śukra did for the Samudra Manthan-ing Devas and Asuras. But to do it all over again, at a higher level of civilization, is to embed fractal resilience. We call this resilience because, given this consolidation, when civilization was unsettled again- this time by geology itself- it gave birth to one of the greatest Indians of all time. But before we reach him, let us understand the next fundamental problem in civilizational trajectory.

4: The Fundamental Problem of Individual Well-being

Imagine a world that has suitably resolved all the problems we have listed above. Does that create a utopia then? Is civilizational trajectory over, the end of history? Western civilization would have us believe so. In its narrative, it has resolved all previous problems and history is over. The future only consists of those joining this civilizational consensus, or those losing their culture to European museums which descendants will pay handsomely to visit. But when the jana gets resolved with such hyper-chauvinistic focus, it is the jīva that suffers.

Take Korea, a civilization that has taken two opposing routes on the trajectory, and consider the jīva not in North but South Korea. This jīva lives in great economic and infrastructural prosperity. He/she lives under a healthy, functioning democracy. The jīva can participate in global discourse through mind-bogglingly high internet speeds, and the jīva can benefit from economic prosperity and travel to anywhere in the world he/she wants to. But Seoul, the capital of South Korea, also has one of the world’s highest depression and suicide rates.

Take USA, the capital of Western civilization. The pinnacle of democracy. The land of freedom, equality, liberty and justice. The shrine of jīva rights, the altar where individual liberty is given sacred stature. A place where women’s rights means an abundance of pornographic material by consenting women, while fascistic anti-abortion measures are imposed (let us not open a Pandora’s box on the morality of abortion here). A place where jīvas live alone, cut-off even from the family unit- a pre-civilizational condition of sapient existence. A place where people need pills to sleep, and opioids for everything else. A place where teenage parents feed their babies synthetic food designed for infants.

No great revelation of god, no civilizational prosperity, no amount of highways and high-speed internet prevent jīvas from torture and misery, for the fundamental jīva experience is separate from the fundamental jana experience. Civilization and individual consciousness may be comparable, but a former that gives no platform to the latter fails on a fundamental problem of civilizational trajectory- there is no happy jana without happy jīvas.
Now this fundamental jīva experience is as old as humanity itself, and indeed perhaps older- so we do not claim civilizational primacy for India on that count. But when Western civilization today develops things like ‘goat-yoga’ and ‘retail-therapy,’ when the Chinese civilization decides how much and when to reproduce, and when the Islamic civilization considers deserters punishable by death, we will not be amiss in reflecting on what our ancestors did for similar problems. Problems that, by ~2000 BC, were certainly stark, present and real.

A great river was drying up, the totem river of the Ṛgveda no less- Sarasvatī.

Yet another wave of civilizational trajectory was coming to a close, triggered in no small part by the 4.2 kiloyear event- younger sibling of the 8.2 kiloyear event that gave rise to Pṛthu Vainya millennia before.

And a young man, son of a Vāsiṣṭha, set out to travel across his country. He noticed the fall of dharma. The despair of people. The prevalence of adharma. The decay of civilizational wisdom.

He could not bear it, and he resolved to do something about it. For reasons we do not know, he was not set upon the path by his father, who in turn was a Ṛgvedic ṛṣi.

Instead, the young man, born on an island and thus named Dvaipāyana, encountered a personality busy in compiling the knowledge of his land and assembling it into a coherent whole. This personality, named Jātūkarṇa, was the 27th of his line- the line of assemblers, or vyāsas.

But the disciple, the young Dvaipāyana, soon to become the 28th and final (known) of his line, was not content to simply compile and assemble. He was navigating through a more existential problem.

The problem of embedding dharma in jīvas, such that dilution at jana level would not lead to civilizational death. The problem was of building a dharma vṛkṣa- roots, shoots, leaves and branches all.

The wisdom existed, this much he knew. The accumulated tales of Indian sūtas and māgadhas, the folk songs of forest dwellers and riparine tribes, the esoteric sound-instruments of the Ṛgvedic ṛṣis, the hidden rituals of the mountain caves, the memories of great avatāras and cakravartins- all these and more contained the wisdom of how each jīva must live his/her life in accordance with ṛta- or in the most harmonious and prosperous way possible. But the wisdom was decentralized, diluted even, and decaying fast. The lessons that ancestral grandmothers and grandfathers had embedded into each level of civilization, creating the Fractal Bhārata, needed to be preserved.

What was needed was to bring civilization back home- to complete the circle. To form the śūnya. What was needed was the maṇḍala, the whole that both completes the journey and encompasses it.

It was this young man, the kṛṣṇa-tvaca Dvaipāyana, the Vyāsa of Bhārata’s Vidya, or Veda, who created the maṇḍala. And within it he embedded what was needed for civilization at this stage of trajectory. The Puruṣārthas- the means to jīva fulfillment. Only fulfilled jīvas could bring the jana revival that was now needed. The wheel of civilization moves on. The vartana is never-ending. It is the vartin that is always needed. This was Veda Vyāsa. A Vāsiṣṭha. A founding father of Dharma.

Thousands of years before Carl Jung mused on the idea of archetypes, and insisted that the fundamental human experience is the same for all humans, Indian ancestors had realized and internalized this, and come up with a solution. The Puruṣa, or the jīva, the ātman consigned to a physical existence of limited time, before the cycle repeats anew, needs a purpose in the physical realm. And the purpose must be in accordance with ṛta, if the life is to be harmonious.

There is so much of this condition outside our control. We cannot control what we are born into, or with what capacities. We cannot control what privilege or lack of it we are granted. The only thing in our control is the inner felt-experience. The saguṇa existence cast into our mind, within this nirguṇa reality. But even as all these stations are different for each of us, our impulses and desires are the same. We are all human, and we share human archetypes.

We desire wealth.

We desire pleasure.

We desire deliverance.

Artha. Kāma. Mokṣa.

And since ours is a ṛta-driven civilization, we know that the requisite is a balance of human impulses. Any desire chased to the extreme takes us away from ṛta. Only when all desires are given natural space, but managed with restrain, will we achieve what is the ultimate objective to begin with- dharma- existence in accordance with ṛta.

And so when Veda Vyāsa (re)created the Fractal, he knew to embed into every layer this Pauruṣārthika wisdom. No longer were the ballads historical or lore- they were appropriated for the dharma project. Finally, history was made important for the lessons it could teach to us.

And thus we learnt of the avatāras, the fractal containing Mahāviṣṇus and Mahāśivas at any zoom-level. We learnt of the cakravartins- but not of their imperial conquests. Of how they upheld or re-established dharma. Of the personal conducts and sacrifices they embodied. We learnt of the Samudra Manthana, but more than learning of how ancient Indians embarked on agriculture, animal domestication and metallurgy, we learnt how they consumed amṛta, or the ṛta-upholding dhārmika code.

We learnt of the centuries of conflict preceding the high civilization of Mature Harappan. Of Divodāsa, Sudās and others’ dozens of battles big and small, of the ways in which we might have reverted to the old tribal days of Daityas and Ādityas. But these were encoded into the same instruments of sound that would form the kernel of the Fractal Maṇḍala- the Vedas. No longer was any ancient Indian a historical personality alone. They were all elevated beings to learn from, to derive meaning such that us mortals of the ‘present’ could live our life with purpose and fulfillment.
Ṛgveda. Sāmaveda. Yajurveda. Atharvaveda. Mahābhārata. Purāṇa.

Each a maṇḍala in itself. Each a whole, yet each forming one pearl in a string, the string itself a maṇḍala. A fractal at every layer, all re-iterating the same truth over and over again, from different angles, as if we are in a civilizational psychedelic trip of cosmic import.

And yet, the trajectory is not complete. The maṇḍala is woven, the fractals are embedded. But what is the super-structure? What will mesh dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa into a stable whole that can become sanātana- or eternal?

5: The Fundamental Problem of Stewarding it All

What is capitalism? What is communism? What is an open market? What is a welfare state? What are taxes? What is Amazon? What is Elon Musk’s soon-to-come Starlink Satellite Internet? What is a patent, or a copyright? What is the Bilderberg meeting? What is a glass-ceiling, and what is nepotism?

You see, what a civilization does best is generate collective wealth. Not only of the physical kind, but also of the intellectual and aesthetic kinds. And if/when the preceding four fundamental problems are solved, civilization still faces the ultimate problem. What is to be done with this wealth? How is it to be managed? Who should own it? What checks to embed into the system?

Capitalism argues that we ought to just let it be. Give civilization a free reign, and in enough time it stabilizes and diffuses equity across the jana, such that no jīva need be born into a lack of opportunity. But given that with this free reign we are fast destroying the planet, and that the elite on Mars will be the descendants of the elite of Earth, and it anyway began with some already on a head-start over others, we must ask how many planets will be needed before we reach this utopian equity.

Communism argues that we must embed all control in a single entity, the State, and let the State take care of the rest. Let alone how contrary this is to the historical record, it effectively argues for us to grapple with the second fundamental problem all over again. It is no solution at all.

In reality, some people work harder than others. Some are smarter than others. Some cannot get their heads out of the dirt, content to study small bugs for the rest of their lives. Some are always staring at the stars, asking a hundred existential questions simply for the joy of doing so. Some are greedy and desire power, with no qualms in oppressing others. Even others are content with family, kinship and the simple life. Some destroy their lives to create that one piece of art that defines them, even if no reward ever comes their way. Some look at their country’s flag and feel the desire to fight for it, to lay down their lives to defend it if need be. Some join the army anyway, curious to know what it is to kill a man. Some believe they have solutions to offer, they speak out and actively work to create the reality they believe in. Some feel no attachment to life, whether through some trauma or through dependence on substances that are slowly killing them. Some want to teach what they know, some want to learn forever. Some want to go to distant places and learn foreign languages, others never feel the desire to leave their humble village.

When the nirguṇa reality falls upon each of us, it takes a saguṇa shape. But each shape is different. Each jīva is different. We are all born with different qualia, into different conditions. We are all born with different varṇas, into different jātis. This is the human condition.

Having solved fundamental issues of tribal conflict and leadership, having established an emergent order aspiring to be harmony with ṛta, having understood what it takes to defend one’s civilizational ethos, and having embedded deep cultural wisdom relevant to the well-being of any jīva, this is the final super-structure our civilization understood.

It is not casteism, this much should be evident from the trajectory so far. Or if it is, then so is the fact that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law got to be in the government. So is the fact that the Indian National Congress has been ruled by a Gandhi dynast forever. So is the fact that the Kapoors now dominate Bollywood. So is the fact that there are families sending their sons and daughters into the military, generation after generation, and others that encourage their children to learn risk and profit from a young age on. And so is the fact that a son of academics finds interest in history and knowledge.

The jāti-varṇa superstructure was the Indian way to manage the fundamental problem of stewarding it all, and when combined with the four āśramas and puruṣārthas it was the very essence of dharma. It was OUR way of managing collective wealth and stability, as well as individual well-being and stability. A way to exorcize monopolies and allow for individual aspirations. A way to preserve balance in society, such that each fulfilled themselves regardless of the condition they were born into, and each gave back to the collective what they received from it.

But we messed up. Those who, through the varṇa of their ancient ancestors, were born into brāhmaṇa jātis, grew supremacist and forgot the duties that come with their privilege. Those who, through the varṇa of their ancient ancestors, were born into kṣatriya jātis, failed to perform their dhārmika duties to protect fellow-Indians from the ravages of north-western invaders that have plagued our civilization for untold millennia. Those who, through the varṇa of their ancient ancestors, were born into the vaiśya jātis, failed to live true to their responsibility as stewards of the civilization’s physical wealth. They colluded with foreigners for self-interest, forgetting that dharma never commended jīva-interest when in violation of jana-prosperity. And so the rest of us, especially those who through the varṇa of their ancient ancestors, were born into the śūdra jātis, were open to oppression, exploitation, ostracization and subjugation for centuries- often by our own countrymen- and doubly by the foreigners who had no stake in our civilization. Failure on this fundamental problem threw solutions for all previous ones into disarray.

This then presents us a fundamental problem that the Indian civilization has not satisfactorily solved. Yes, the jāti-varṇa-āśrama superstructure worked, for a long time. But it was also susceptible to decay and deprecation, to ossification and rigidity. But no sooner had we realized this that our civilizational trajectory was snatched away from our hands, and enslaved for centuries to the benefit of foreigners. So we did not even have breathing space enough to think of solutions, of the next layer to embed into the fractal, moving forward in our civilizational trajectory. When we stepped out of the dungeon again, a thousand years later, the world had changed. Industry and technology were upon us. The old systems were obsolete.

But no other civilization has the learnings to show us any path forward either, for no other civilization has solved this fundamental problem. Further, they show dangerous deprecations on the other fundamental problems, which threaten to inhibit the forward trajectory. The Western and Islamic civilizations are yet to prove that they have a workable system to co-exist either with differing tribes, and even more those with differing ethos. As for equity, equality, egalitarianism – the values that appeal to our good sense in some form or the other – do we really want to believe that the Western model is a workable solution, a ladder out of the inequity mess? Our was once a civilization that valued learning and education above all else, the Western model requires graduate students to pile on lifelong debt.

So while the solution of one (democracy) on the fundamental problem of leadership is beginning to show cracks, the solution of another (shariah/higher order) is no solution at all. On both these counts, the Chinese civilization stands in contrast. It is not that it cannot co-exist with other tribes and ethos, but rather that it demands to co-exist on equal ground and nothing less. With those it can bully and run over, it does so without remorse. Arguably, it understands the fundamental problem of conflicting ethos better than any other civilization does, having emerged resurgent from being at the receiving end of it.

And on the fourth fundamental problem of individual well-being, the results are for all to see. The West has now breached the barriers of extremity, its care for individual freedom festering into a fetish that has isolated jīva from jana. Sales for all kinds of anxiety pills, painkillers and opioids in USA are testimony to where it stands. And what is the jīva in the Islamic and Chinese janas? Does he/she fully exist, or are they invisible units in the larger collective, the collective being supreme? The balance is off, the solution is not working.

The Indian civilization has a deep well to draw from, one that truly runs back thousands of years, and through it all it has a near infinite amount of lessons on each of these fundamental problems. The sum total of these lessons is dharma, the Indian answer to life- both for civilization and for consciousness.

It is a Fractal Maṇḍala. It is Home.

The Fractal Maṇḍala

Zoom in to the level of the Ṛgveda, where experts will tell us we find semi-nomadic pastoralists composing hymns to the ‘Gods of Natural Phenomena.’ When they want rain, they pray to Indra, the God of Thunder. When they conduct a ritual, they pray to Agni, the God of Fire. For every need they might have, they have a God. A God of Water, and of Wind. A Goddess of Dawn, and of the Rivers. A God here, a Goddess there. Ah, such simple pastoralists, these Vedic Indians.

Now remove that foreigner lens, and use that of our own civilization. Focus again.

The Vedic yajña is the ritual of life, of the individual felt-experience. The physical agni is the flame of consciousness within each of us. Indra, the clarified agency that moves us forward through will. Maruts, the many impulses within us, ready to be channeled at any cause, always at Indra’s vanguard. Soma, the purified consciousness that emerges from life’s yajña, if conducted well, as does ghee from the physical ritual. Uṣā, the radiance of insight that can pierce through our ignorance with beatitude. Sarasvatī, the flow of clear and unabated thinking we need to achieve any life goal.

The Ṛgveda’s mantras lend themselves to many layers of interpretation, but at the deepest ones we find the flame of awakened consciousness – a manual for yoga, the union. It is a theme that is encoded in every level of Indian civilization. Agni, which rises from the earth and connects to the sky above, is called the great rodasi – connector. To relive Agni’s journey is the ultimate goal of Hindu life – the mokṣa in our puruṣārthas. In the endeavor of dharma to be in consonance with ṛta, in the eternal quest for harmony unique to our civilization, in our prayer to be led from darkness to light and from untruth to truth, we are constantly seeking the yajña.

It makes our civilization a fractal maṇḍala. No matter what level you look at, it reiterates the same truths. No matter what tangent you approach from, or what segment of the arc you start from, it always takes you back home.

Layers upon layers, each layer the same. Journey to the same Holocene onset, to the time when Svāyambhuva prays to Mahāviṣṇu as the floodwaters claim his lands. Incarnates Varāha and returns the earth above the water surface. A different layer, but still the victory of Indra over Vṛtra. The same story, but weaved onto a different thread. Some time during the era of the above Vedic Indians, in a different part of India, another man’s story will be added to the same thread- Rāma Dāśarathi. Another avatāra. Another layer. But Mahāviṣṇu again. This Rāma travels to southern India, and returns with an idol of Vāmana which he consecrates at Mathurā. Another layer, but Mahāviṣṇu again. Many centuries after Rāma, an Indian born in Mathurā will be added to this thread. We remember him as Kṛṣṇa, an epitome of Mahāviṣṇu. A fractal maṇḍala. Approach from any tangent, land at any level, but you will be returned to the source. To dharma. This is the true beauty of the Bhāratīya code.

Many centuries after Kṛṣṇa still, when Indian civilization briefly recedes, and the next layers are being added in the forests and the caves, as the Āraṇyakas and the Upaniṣads, our ancestors will look to these fundamental problems again, and draw from the fractal wisdom they inherit.

As light on its own, they will argue, is without attributes- or nirguṇa- such is consciousness itself. Pure and undifferentiated. And as light takes the shape and form of what it falls on, so does consciousness- it becomes saguṇa.

And this is what was being said in the Ṛgveda too, they will understand. This is why, they will come to realize, Soma is also called Candra, or the Moon. For the moon has no light of its own- it returns what is reflected onto it. And such is the nature of the purified consciousness that emerges in our mental yajña. It does not stand independent, it is what the yajña returns to us of our agni, our lamp of consciousness.

And so does the dharma vṛkṣa grow deeper, as generations of Indians build upon the wisdom of their ancestors to form an unbroken chain of civilizational memory and felt-experience. A fecund tree that continues to produce luminary leaves generation after generation, happy jīvas from a happy jana. Always fractal. Always a maṇḍala.

Embedded into every layer such that life becomes a yajña in any activity, for any jīva born to any varṇa and jāti, at any stage of their life. Dance becomes yajña, it becomes a part of dharma. Music becomes yajña, it becomes a part of dharma. To wake with the rising sūrya and prepare one’s physical vessel with namaskara becomes dharma, consonant as it is with ṛta. Every layer the same, the mission always the consonance. In the Ṛgveda this consonance comes through Agni- which rises from Prithvī and reaches Dyaus high above. It is the rodasi- the great connector. And when we kindle this sacrificial agni within us, the flame of our own consciousness, we are elevated beyond our physical bodies (prithvī) and taken to the transcendent consciousness (dyaus). This too is rodasi, the great connector. Asato mā sadgamaya, tamaso mā jyotirgamaya.

We also call this Yoga- the union.

A fractal at any level. A maṇḍala that always brings you home.

And here is the thing about a fractal maṇḍala. Land anywhere on it and ask the people- “where did you learn this from?

Oh, this is what we understand from the wisdom of our ancestors,” they will respond.

This is what the Upaniṣadic thinkers would have said, looking back to their Vedic forebears. This is what the Vedic Indians would have said, inheriting the learnings of the Mahābali and Pṛthu eras. Those eras in turn, we know, looked back at the primal days of Ādityas and Daityas. Long before the Śukra and Bṛhaspati of that time, there were Bhṛgu and Aṅgiras- and where did they get their wisdom from?

The Ṛgveda knows this. Who really knows where creation comes from? Perhaps even the gods do not, for they came after creation. There is no beginning to the maṇḍala, there is no end to it. As eternal as is ṛta, that eternal is dharma. Thus do we call it sanātana. Such were our ancestors, living the eternally dhārmika life.

It breeds comfort. It breeds complacence.

Close to two millennia after Veda Vyāsa, the lessons get forgotten again. The fundamental problems of civilizational trajectory again rear their ugly heads, and the jana shows signs of crumbling. Amṛta seems lost, so it is natural that mṛta approaches.

Came the Huns, the Scythians, the Greeks, the Iranians and more, and we were painfully reminded of the fundamental problem of conflicting ethos. Rose Kautilya. Rose Vikramāditya. Rose Skandagupta. We drew from our civilizational learnings and stood fast against the foreigners. They retreated, and those that didn’t became us, as Indra and Varuṇa once became one through Vasiṣṭha’s efforts. The fractal deepens such, the mesh grows stronger. The manthana is ever present.

The trajectory goes on. The cakra keeps moving. The vartana never stops. Only the vartins are needed. The śākhās proliferated, the dharma vṛkṣa grew vast and spread to distant shores. Bhārata Arrived.

Came the Arabs. Came the Turks. Came the Mongols. Again and again, wave after wave. Incessant challenges, for untold centuries. Breaking down every lesson our civilization had learnt, rupturing the formation of new layers of wisdom. Hijacking our civilizational trajectory and contaminating it. This was not one religion against another. This was adharma against dharma. For long centuries we were on the losing end. The wheel moves on. Bhārata became Hindustan.

And in the beautiful way that only the cosmos can joke with us, from the same part of India that once arose the adhārmika Haihayas- arose the dhārmika Marāthās. A historical maṇḍala if there ever was one. Reclamation was nigh, vindication was nigh. Almost, within grasp. Just a bit more.
Came the Europeans.

And to cut a long story short, we may skip forward to today, when the Hindustan has become India, and the Bhārata begs to be reiterated- to the question of civilization itself and that of civilizational trajectory. To the reality that ours is still a deeply colonized civilization, one where our trajectory is relegated as myth or worse- as Hindu revisionism. This grand civilization will not be in full bloom again without repairing all its synaptic connections- and no connection is arguably more important to civilization than its own history. There is no continuity of consciousness without memory, and there is no continuity of civilization without history. The project therefore to restore our history, and to understand the deep macrohistorical issues our civilization has already grappled with and possesses legitimate wisdom on, is a relevant project.

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Amritanshu Pandey

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Amrit writes on history, civilization and design. He has come to understand Bhārata as a civilisational consciousness with multi-level coherence, and his work is to uncover the tale of this emergence.

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