Age of Kshatriyahood — A Call to Action
Even the casual or superficial observer can attest to the churn in the events of the world and men. A great destruction of the norm and order is at play, an upheaval borne on the breath of a fiery god, or perhaps the first wave of Kali’s brood who come armed to create anew and to push aside impatiently all that will not consent to a luminous transformation.
In an earlier epoch there were two who stood on a battlefield on the brink of a great war. All life paused in an unworldly hush. In that silence a great God sang his song divine.
Today the Kurukshetra is everywhere. And so is Krishna. Whether we recognise it or not.
Even closer in time there was Sri Aurobindo who confronted this ancient problem. Disorder, disharmony manifest in Nation and the world, and no clear scheme for guiding ourselves or society. Sri Aurobindo found in the Gita, a kernel of the ancient Veda, not negation of Life but a conquest on the battlefield within and without.
Not the nirvana of the Buddha and its negation of Life. Not the mayavada of Shankara, which posited perfection in the high beyond. And definitely not the sterile utopia of the cross-eyed Djinn called science.
Sri Aurobindo saw farther, to a remote past of the Veda and its Rishis, and their quest for a conquest here on earth. And a Rishi had earlier hymned, “We are the sons of Heaven, by the body of the Earth”. Turning his gaze into the Future, Sri Aurobindo saw, beyond the destruction and ruin, the coming race of humanity that would shatter its iron laws, a freer life, a harmony here on Earth, the very Earth substance divinised and minds luminous.
But this, our story is not new. The roots reach into a remote past.
The first fish that stuck its head out of water glimpsed death. It saw a beyond unlike the watery space it inhabited for a million years. By a gradual acclimatisation over many life times, the daring trait passed over to its spawn and so that species.
The first man monkey that mused by instinct without active thought over its dead mate. This dear one that frolicked near him few moments ago now lay dead. And in that arrested instinct, in that fleeting pregnant moment where active thought was yet to be, that man-monkey glimpsed death. Not by the mere carcass that lay there, but by recognition of an abscence of life in its mate. An instinctual awareness tried to comprehend death. That trait, that gaze which sought to know and see where life travels passed over to its spawn and so that species.
Somewhere around the banks of mighty Saraswati there was another gaze being sharpened. A mind calm, an ardour fiery, a life that had spanned common works, sought. What he sought was not yet known. Only a brute insistence on knowing what was perhaps unknowable. He conjectured thus, “This enormity that baffles me, perhaps it can answer to me? Perhaps ease this fever of seeking that burns me up? Who do i call? Is it one or many?” And as this cloud of thought hovered and tumbled through his mind, in a singularly auspicious moment of evolution, came a flash of light, a lightning across his mind, that was yet thought and knowledge and act together, and his gaze turned within to worship his very own impulse that goaded him to know. His body was warm or even hot, mind seemed lit up, spacious even.:this urge that was more than thought, this guide who knew/ this impulse that knew there was something to seek, to this urge was the first effective worship.
And in that poignant and sacred moment the gaze of the first fish and the man-monkey and the seeker had their first conscious aid, a daemon or deity they would not know yet. The surface of Life that sought to know had elicited a response. The first worship was answered. The Gods answered to their first actively conscious creation.
And a few millennia after, again on the banks of Saraswati, the Warrior-Priest and Friend of the Worlds, would manifest an immeasurably higher and conscious obeisance, his being aflame with Tapas would cry out in rapture a hymn, “I adore the Flame, the vicar, the divine Ritwik of the Sacrifice, the summoner who most founds the ecstasy. ”
In all these instances one find a luminous link, that of Agni prevailing against the manifest ignorance and falsehood.
One would commonly call the theme that unites all these as the heroic. And the performers as heroes. Ancient Bharath dwelt upon this trait and sought to understand it, so that it may be practiced, emulated and aspired for. They called it Kshatriyahood. The popular and traditional interpretation of this term as one of the Varnas, thus one being the warrior is a limited conception.
Kshatriyahood is a much subtler and grander idea, it is the identification of one of many energies that powers up the Cosmos and Life. It is what makes evolution possible across the entire hierarchy of existence, from the invisible virus to the enduring athlete, from the bawling toddler to the musing poet. At every moment life battles innumerably against forces that oppose it by right of existence and law of persistence.
Kshatriyahood, Our Necessity
The light of Agni is still present. Agni, the Tireless One, is every ready to lead the way. The current predicament, individual and social, can be overcome if we consented.
This attempt to re-forge ourselves, to open ourselves consciously to a Power whose ways contain and exceed all the methods of Yoga formulated, and leads one unerringly forward. This scheme discovered by Sri Aurobindo, with the Veda as kernel, was named the Integral Yoga.
And a chief method of its practice is to open oneself to the Divine, to have That mould us as It willed, not how we want it to.
Whilst great are the difficulties of the path, there are a host of preparatory steps which the aspirant can undertake. It is these baby steps we propose as our initial script to action. From our current tamas burdened mind and hearts, we need the temper of the Kshatriya to rise above, to cast the load of superficial and servile ideas away, we can and must solicit the aids above and within. A heart for ambition, a mind ready for the endeavour, and arms ever willing to engage in action.
This is the forge of life where our being shall be moulded, our feeble and brittle ore from which the steel shall be made. This is God’s foundry, where the fire and hammer shall toil ceaselessly and through innumerable mutations we shall wake to a labour divine, the hands of the Artisan Supreme making us anew.
This labour is not to be done in the forest or while donning an ochre robe. This labour is to be done in the thick of life. In work, in waking, in sleep. To view through these limited human eyes the vagaries, so that through us, He may glimpse what is contained in Him, and then submit to Her so that it may be transformed. There are no miracles here, only the slow alchemy of Her infinite Purpose that uses all materials and methods. Our fall and rise are both ballast for the coming steel. Only is looked down upon the lack of will or ambition or labour. The Kshatriya temper is within us, only it demands an offering of our labours, complete and exacting. Every tremble of thought and ripple of feeling, every rising will is to be offered.
This done, we may await that auspicious hour, when we by the feet of the Master shall understand and say, “Indeed, all Life is Yoga.”