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BOOK EIGHT: THE MAN WHO WAS SIDDHARTH GAUTAMA
Book Eight, Part I—His Personality
1. From all accounts the Blessed Lord was a handsome person.
2. His form was like the peak of a golden mountain. He was tall and well built; with a pleasing appearance.
3. His long arms and lion gait, his bull-like eyes, and his beauty bright like gold, his broad chest, attracted everyone to him.
4. His brows, his forehead, his mouth or his eyes, his body, his hands, his feet, or his gait–whatever part of him anyone beheld, that at once riveted his eyes.
5. Whoever saw him could not help being struck with his majesty and his strength, his splendid beauty, surpassing all other men.
6. On seeing him, he who was going elsewhere stood still, and whoever was standing followed him; he who was walking gently and gravely ran quickly, and he who was sitting at once sprang up.
7. Of those who met him, some reverenced him with their hands; others in worship saluted him with their heads; some addressed him with affectionate words; not one went on without paying him homage.
8. He was loved and respected by all.
9. Men as well as women were ever ready to hear him.
10. His voice was singularly sweet and deep as a drum, lovely, vibrant and eloquent. It made his speech as though it was heavenly music.
11. His very tones convinced the hearer, and his looks inspired awe.
12. His personality alone sufficed to make him not only a leader, but a god, to the hearts of his fellows.
13. When he spoke he obtained hearers.
14. It mattered little what he said. He influenced the emotions, and bent whoever listened to his will.
15. He could create in the minds of his hearers [the sense] that what he taught was not only a verity, but the very hope of their salvation.
16. His hearers could recognise in his words the truth that makes of slaves, free men.
17. When he talked with men and women, his serene look inspired them with awe and reverence, and his lovely voice struck them with rapture and amazement.
18. Who could have converted the robber Augulimala, or the Cannibal of Atavi? Who could have reconciled King Pasenjit to his queen Mallika by a single word? To have come under his spell is [=was] to be his forever. So charming was his personality.
1. This traditional view is supported by the testimony of eye-witnesses who saw him and met him while he was alive.
2. One such eye-witness is a Brahmin, by name Sale. After seeing the Blessed One face to face, he uttered the following sentiments in praise of him.
3. Arrived in the Lord’s presence, the Brahmin, seating himself after greetings, scanned the Lord’s body for the two and thirty marks of a Superman, and in time observed them.
4. Quite sure now about the presence of the two and thirty marks, Sale still did not know whether or not he had enlightenment. But he remembered hearing from old and aged Brahmins, teachers of teachers, that those who became Arahats, all enlightened, reveal themselves when their praises are sung, and so he made up his mind to extol the Lord to his face in the following lines of eulogy:
5. “Perfect of body, goodly, Lord, art thou, well grown, well liking, golden-hued, with teeth which gleam [with] lustre; vigour fills the frame; the body’s full perfection manifests each single sign that marks a Superman.
6. “Clear-eyed and handsome, tall, upright art thou, effulgent as a sun among thy train, so debonair, so golden-hued–why waste thy beauty’s prime as homeless anchorite?
7. “As world-wide monarch thou shouldst ride in State; and indeed from sea to sea[all] should own thy sway. Proud princes shall thy village headmen be; rule thou mankind, as sovereign, king of kings!”
8. Ananda describes the colour of his body as exceedingly clear and bright–so much so that the pair of [garments of] cloth of gold, when placed on the body of the Blessed One, appears to have lost its splendour.
9. No wonder he was called by his opponents a glamour boy.
1. The Sangh had no official head. The Blessed One had no authority over the Sangh. The Sangh was a self-governing body.
2. What was, however, the position of the Blessed One over the Sangh and its members?
3. In this we have the evidence of Sakuldai and Udai, contemporaries of the Blessed One.
4. Once the Lord was staying at Rajagraha in the bamboo grove.
5. One morning the Lord went into Rajagraha for alms; but, deeming the hour too early, he thought of going to Sakuldai in Wanderers’ Pleasance; and thither he repaired.
6. At the time, Sakuldai was sitting with a great company of Wanderers, who were making a great noise about being and not being.
7. When from some way off, Sakuldai saw the Lord coming, he hushed his company by saying: “Be quiet, sirs; do not make a noise; here comes the recluse Gautama, who is a lover of silence.”
8. So they became silent and the Lord came up. Said Sakuldai, “I pray the Lord to join us; he is truly welcome; it is a long time since he last managed to come. Pray, be seated; here is a seat for the Lord.”
9. The Lord sat down accordingly, asking Sakuldai what had been their theme and what was the discussion which had been interrupted.
10. “Let that pass for the moment,” answered Sakuldai; “you can easily gather that later on.”
11. Of late, when recluses and Brahmins of other creeds met together in the Discussion Hall, the topic was mooted, what a good thing, what a very good thing, for the Magdha people in Anga, that such recluses and Brahmins–all at the head of confraternities or followings, all well known and famous teachers, all founders of saving creeds, held in high repute by many people–should have come to spend the rainy season at Rajagraha.
12. There was Purana Kassappa, Makhali Ghosala, Ajit Kesakambal, Pakudha Kacchayana, Sanjaya Belaiputta, and Nata-putta the Nigantha, all men of distinction and all of them here for the rains; and among them there is also the recluse Gautama here, at the head of his confraternity and following, a well-known and famous teacher, a founder of a saving creed, who is held in high repute by many.
13. Now, which of these lords, which of these recluses and Brahmins of such eminence as teachers, is esteemed, respected, venerated and adored by his disciples? And on what terms of esteem and respect do they live with him?
14. Said some: “Purana Kassappa gets no esteem or respect; no veneration or adoration, from his disciples; they live with him on no terms of esteem and respect.”
15. Time was when, as he was preaching his doctrine to some hundreds of his following, a disciple broke in with–”Don’t question Purana Kassappa, who does not know about it; ask me who do; I will explain everything to your reverences.”
16. With arms outstretched, Purana Kassappa tearfully remonstrated, saying: “Do be quiet, sirs, do not make a noise.”
[[SURELY THIS CAN’T REALLY BE THE END?]]
It follows from this that there is nothing like “human rights” or common principles of justice. The violent crushing of attempts at seeking social justice is given religious sanction in the Ramayana (being extolled by the BJP and a man projecting himself as the future Prime Minister) that begins with the murder of Shambhuka, a shudra who was meditating, by Rama, at the request of a Brahmin who claimed his son had died because of this. What is more, even a radical like Tulsi Das, who was expelled from Kashi for writing the Ramayana in Avadhi, cries out in it: “Drums, peasant, shudras, animals and women need to be kept in order by regular beating” and “the powerful can commit no mistake”. The present-day Congress Party too, is equally insensitive when it gives ‘Dronacharya’ awards to teachers, honouring a man who had got his tribal student to cut off his thumb as guru-dakshina.
These are ominous signs, especially when we see them in the context of
Economically too, they are losing ground. In 1991, 70% of the total scheduled caste households were landless. By 2000 the percentage had risen to 75. In terms of fixed capital assets only 28% had any while for the rest the figure was 56%, in 2000. At the time 49.06% of the SC working population were agricultural labour as compared to 32.69% for STs and 19.66% for other castes. As against a national average per capita income of Rs. 4485, the SC income was only Rs.3237. The unemployment figures were also higher. Moreover, even though 15% and 7.5% of Central Government posts are reserved for SC and ST respectively, only 10.15% posts in Group A (class I), 12.67% in Group B, 16.15% in Group C and 21.26% in Group D were filled. Not only are SCs and STs relegated to Class IV jobs, the quotas are not filled there too. Of the 544 judges in High Courts only 13 were SC and 4 were ST. Only 6.7% school teachers were SC/ST, while the figures were only 2.6% for College teachers. It is evident they are being excluded in every sphere of life and the exclusion is becoming more evident with “devil take the hindmost” policies being implemented today. Of the 600 lakh child labour in India, 40% are from SC, while the figure rises to 80% in arduous and “dirty” jobs like carpet weaving, tanning, dyeing, lifting dead animals, cleaning human refuse, soiled clothes, waste from slaughter houses and sale of local liquor.
In the field of day to day life, we find that the literacy rate for SC was 54.7% while for STs it was 47.1%, compared to 68.8% for others. The infant mortality rate for SC was 83 per 1000 compared to 61.8 for others. This is not surprising as only 11 % SC houses and 7% houses have access to sanitation, as opposed to a national average of 29%. Similarly, while the national average for the use of electricity was 48%, only 28% of the SC population and 22% of the ST had access to it. Now, given the vast reduction of expenditure in the social sector, their condition can only worsen.
This is all the more important for Punjab, which has an SC population of 32% of the total households, well above the national average of 19.2%.Moreover, since 2000, their share of Punjab government jobs has declined from 23.98% to 23.01% in 2005. Predictably, only 1880 are there in Class I of a total of 11703 filled posts. The figures from Class II are 2168 of a total of 12754. For class III the figures are 47836 of a total of 2,21,517, while for Class IV they are 21594 of a total of 61833. Clearly the caste bias of reserving only menial posts for SCs is visible here and it has to be fought.
It is evident from these figures that caste is not class. There is no untouchability when seed is sown in the field, watered, harvested or threshed. It is only the cooking pot that untouchability applies to. Similarly stone carvers can be Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable), they can carve the images of temples, even carry them there, but they cannot pray in them. Untouchability does not touch the sphere of production in general, except where certain types of unclean work is not permitted for Brahmins and Kshatriyas. It is grafted on to it to divide the working people. The rich and powerful “have no caste” as the old adage goes, “Raja Ki Jat Nahin Hoti”. Worse, the members of the scheduled castes and tribes have themselves taken on the ideology of caste to their detriment, as we can see from the legend of Eklavya in the Mahabharata when he cuts his thumb as Gurudakshina for Dronacharya. In the same way, it took Dr. Ambedkar nearly three decades from the late twenties to the fifties to realize caste institutions were intrinsically linked to the practice of Hinduism and were incapable of being reformed. They needed to be destroyed. That is why he and his followers took Deeksha. It must be noted, that Dheeksha is the only solution. For majority of the people of Jambudvipa were, are and will continue to be the Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath irrespective of their castes and Religions. In our history, the
Building a Broad Coalition of the Exploited and Oppressed
As for the exploited, they must challenge the divisive agenda of caste by targetting untouchability, oppression and the implementation of reservations along with struggles for land, work, a living wage, a universal public distribution system, against rising prices, for better education and health and protection of the civil rights of all citizens. From the perspective of the neo-liberal reforms, SEZs and the corporatisation of forests and farming must be resisted alongside job-killing mechanization. The privatization of PSUs must be opposed as reserved category jobs are eliminated along with downsizing that increases unemployment on one hand and the workload on the other. At the same time a demand for reservations in the private sector can be raised. Jobless growth with its increasing workload affects workers as a whole and it must be resisted collectively, especially in government employment that affects both Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable) and non Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable). Discrimination against Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable) like giving them only “unclean” or “class IV” work must be resisted together as it is a question that impinges on inhuman working conditions. If the conditions of work of Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable), like scavengers being forced to carry nightsoil on their heads, are allowed to continue, others will also find themselves in the same state of affairs in a period of casualisation of work, lower wages and no checks on working norms.
So under neo-liberal pressure with an all-out attack and oppression unleashed on the workers, peasants, artisans, like seizing their assets, underpricing their products and cutting subsidies on their inputs, abandoning food security and destroying the PDS, while refusing to implement minimum wages acts, denying cheap credit or even diluting criminal laws so that the legal system and the police work for the highest bidder, gives us a remarkable chance to unite the working people, the discriminated against and oppressed, the petty producers and tradesmen in one coalition to fight privatization, corporatisation, asset grabbing, unemployment, casualisation, hunger, non-payment of wages, inhumanity at the work place, untouchability, physical violence and even the most gruesome crimes against those who are exploited and oppressed, for the first time since the national movement.
The choice before Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/ST Untouchable) organizations is also more flexible than ever before. They can choose the path of the BSP which has integrated with the system under the Chief Ministership of Mayawati. Earlier, in support of the slogan of “