Da, Da, Da – The Divine Message
There is an interesting story in one Upanishad, quoted by TS Eliot in his famous poem ‘The Waste Land’.
There is an interesting story in one Upanishad, quoted by TS Eliot in his famous poem 'The Waste Land'. The gods, the demons and the humans are all sons of the same creator, Prajapati. Once the gods went to him and requested, 'O sir, please enlighten us'. The creator merely said 'da' (pronounced as in dayaa, not as in doll). They looked convinced. The creator asked them, 'have you understood?'. Yes, they said, 'you advised us to show dama, restraint of sensual pleasures'. 'Truly so', said the creator, and the gods went away.
After a while, the humans too went and requested the creator to enlighten them. The creator again said 'da' and asked them, 'have you understood?' They said, 'yes, you advised us to do daanam, charity. ' 'Truly so', said the creator, and the humans went away.
After a while, the demons too went and requested the creator to enlighten them. The creator again said 'da' and asked them, 'have you understood?' They said, 'yes, you advised us to show dayaa, compassion, to all beings'. 'Truly so', said the creator, and the demons went away. The Upanishad says that this message is repeated to us whenever the clouds thunder. The story tells how all people know their faults. It shows that they feel guilty too, but they do not change their nature. We are hardwired to follow our nature unless some powerful influences impact us and change us. Some indulge in sensual pleasures; some are greedy and never part with what they have and some cruelly rob others for their own pleasure.
The commentators explain how the gods and demons are not some special beings living in divine worlds or hellish regions, but they are all humans. Those who are cruel and selfish are the demons and those who may be good but pleasure-loving are the gods. Humans are a mix of both. The loka-s, or worlds, are not some three-dimensional places in the sky or below earth, but they are our own lives. We live in our own worlds. Someone lives in heaven, enjoying the wisdom of Valmiki or Shakespeare. Someone may be a selfish achiever, and he is on the human plane, driven by socially held up goals. Some live in hell, with their minds always tormented with plans of tormenting others. They may be rich. Lanka was more prosperous than the city of Indra. Ravana had plundered the whole world, but he did not have peace of mind. This is the predicament of man, all through human history.
(Writer is former DGP,