TRANSITION TO POST-VEDIC
THE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Janamejaya wanted to know from Vaishampayana about the life of the other Pandavas in Kamyaka grove during the absence of Arjuna on whom they depended much. Though they were depressed because of the absence of their brother, Arjuna, they continued to procure food, mainly meat, for the Brahmans who had accompanied them to that forest. [It is however unsound to conclude that all Brahmans of the Vedic times ate meat. Most of those who resided in agrarian tracts had to depend on vegetarian diet and most of those who resided in forests or non-agrarian tracts were constrained to live on meat or fish to whichever social class they belonged.] Draupadi told Yudhishtira that she did not wish to live in that forest resort without Arjuna. Bhima and his younger brothers too were unhappy. (Ch.78 Vanaparva)
While they were thus unhappy and despondent, the sage, Narada, who was a devarshi, and had a status equal to Agni, the Vedic official who headed the intelligentsia, reached that otherwise pleasant forest abode, Kamyakavana. The Dharmaraja received him with due honour. Yudhishtira asked Narada to instruct him on the value of visiting the various centres of culture and knowledge (tirtha kshetras) (later described as holy places) and to remove his doubts about them. Narada then offered to tell him what the senior sage, Pulastya, had told Bhishma about those centres. It would appear that most of these centres sprang up during the times of Pulastya, one of the members of the council of seven sages convened by the first Manu, Svayambhuva.
Pulastya introduces Bhishma to different cultural centres
Pulastya was the guardian of the interests of the plutocracy and the bourgeoisie who contributed the necessary funds for the setting up of these centres. Agastya continued his mission. Bhishma was then engaged in performing sacrifices at the source of Ganga to please the nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs).
Pulastya said that one who had restrained his physical activities, movements, mind, pride of knowledge and endeavours and fame by his visits to these centres would benefit from them. These centres of education (without accepting gifts, dana, from any one) helped those persons who led a satisfied life and who had conquered their senses. They did not depend on the offerings given by the students and others who visited them as they were patronised by the rich of the core society as well as of the frontier society.
The pilgrim must have given up boastfulness and rage. He must rigorously follow the laws based on truth (satya) which were a logical sequence to the laws that were in accordance with nature (rta) and must treat all beings (pranis) especially the peoples at the level of the subaltern as equal to him. The sages (rshis) had prescribed that the members of the social world of commoners should offer sacrifices (yajnas) to the nobles (devas) and indicated how those who performed sacrifices benefited immediately and in their later lives in proportion to their offerings.
Costly sacrifices unnecessary
The poor hence stood to gain little. Only the kings and the rich could perform these sacrifices. The poor who did not have the wealth (artha) and other means and lacked assistance and were unmarried or did not have sons could not perform them, Pulastya pointed out. He was counselling Bhishma who had taken the vow of celibacy, which made the latter ineligible to offer sacrifices to the three cadres (devas, rshis and pitrs) who were not engaged in economic activities. He told Bhishma what were the simple acts that would yield the same benefits as the costly sacrifices would. In fact the sages alone knew that visits to these centres were more beneficial than offering sacrifices, Pulastya said.
The great sages (maharshis) had legislated that performance of sacrifices (yajna), studying of Vedas and offering gifts (dana) were the three duties that everyone in the three higher classes (scholars, rulers and bourgeoisie, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) should perform. Only the ordinary workers (Shudras) were exempt from these. Before this new law came into force the agro-pastoral core society had four social classes, liberal nobles (devas), feudal lords (asuras), sages (rshis) and commoners (manushyas). The feudal lords claimed that they were senior (jyeshta) to the nobles (devas) and on their withdrawal from power they were known as pitrs. The nobles too withdrew from positions of power.
All the commoners (manushyas), most of whom were poor, were required to sacrifice one-fourth of their earnings to maintain these two cadres and the sages (rshis). They were not in a position to offer gold to the ruling elite and cows to the sages. For them the alternative was visit to the holy centres (tirtha kshetras). [These centres became holy only far later.] Pulastya held that these visits were for the (poor) commoners more beneficial than performing the different types of costly sacrifices.
Visit to Pushkara and its Academy
Pulastya told Bhishma who belonged to the Bharatas and had the status of a senior king (though he had given up the claims to power) that one who went to Pushkara (in Rajasthan), which was famous in all the three social worlds (lokas, commonalty, nobility and frontier society, prthvi, divam and antariksham) was considered to be a highly fortunate person. This lake-city was the abode of the four cadres of traditional nobles, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras and Maruts, and of the perfect achievers, Saddhyas, and the members of the free intelligentsia, gandharvas and apsarases.
At this centre, liberal nobles (devas) and their rivals, the feudal lords (asuras) and the sages (rshis) who interpreted and implemented the socio-political constitution (Brahma) and the cadres of gandharvas who had several immunities as the blessed people (punyajana) made great endeavours (tapas) to discover the secrets of nature and invent new methods and worked according to the principles of the science of yoga and attained high influential positions. These four cadres, devas, asuras, rshis and gandharvas benefited thereby.
This academy of Brahmaloka, the permanent headquarters of Brahmadeva was open to commoners (manushyas) only for a brief stay of three days under severe restraints. [Pushkara is the only place where later a temple was constructed for Brahma, one of the Trinity. The concept of the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva came into vogue only far later.] The scholars and jurists who gathered at Pushkara were committed to the principles of harmlessness (ahimsa), truth (satya), contentment, fortitude, compassion and absence of jealousy. The commoners who called on them and honoured them were expected to share these commitments and live on a simple diet of fruits and leaves.
It may be noted here that this huge epic, Mahabharata, underwent numerous interpolations, amendments and even deletions (in some of the editions) from time to time down the ages. Here our endeavour is to bring out the features of the transition from the Vedic social polity to the early post-Vedic social polity. The view that the ancient Indian works insisted that the Brahmans were superior to other classes and should be worshipped as though they were gods and that offering food to them helped one to gain immortality has features that smack of wanton interpolations and has to be handled with caution while handling issues pertaining to early post-Vedic social polity.
The chronicler of the not-so-later times says that one who bathed in that lake whether he was a Brahman or a Kshatriya or a Vaisya or a Shudra would have no further births. This should not be interpreted that he would become free from the highly undesirable cycle of births and deaths. The nobles, jurists and legislators who had assembled at Pushkara under the chairmanship of the chief judge, Brahma, who was the head of the academy of scholars and the constitution bench had introduced this scheme of four classes and declared that the number of classes should not be increased or decreased. They did not permit change of status or class.
Manava Dharmasastra taking its cue from the Atharvaveda (Brahma) which provided for four classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Aryas and Shudras, accepted the above directive. It accepted the principle that the commonalty (vis) that stood distinct from the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas should accommodate all those who did not fit in these two classes and that the enlarged commonalty (vis) might be divided into two classes, Vaisyas who had the right to own property and the Shudras who did not have this right and had to be labourers. This scheme replaced the older order of three social worlds (lokas). Initiation of the commoners (manushyas) in this new scheme freed them whether men or women, of the commitments and bondages that they were under while they were subordinate to the nobles or feudal lords.
The two classes devas and asuras, nobles and feudal lords, were abolished and their servants, dasas and dasyus were freed from bondage and included in the class of free workers (Shudras). The latter too were eligible to be initiated in the ways prescribed for the system of four classes. Pulastya indicates that all the four classes had equal rights and equal opportunities. It was only during the later times of decadence that the workers (Shudras) were denied access to education (vidya) and sacrifices (yajna).
The course at the academy lasted twelve years on completion of which a commoner became eligible to become a member of its faculty (of Brahmaloka). But there were some who would not stay in a place for long. They were advised to stay for twelve days and follow the path that would lead them to the abode of Vishnu, a path (jambu-marga) trodden in the past by nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and retired persons (pitrs). [This note should have been a later addendum.]
Sthandilaka and Abodes of Subrahmanya and Kanva
There was a fork on the above route that took one to Sthandilaka, an abode open to the skies and open to all travellers. It too led him to the abode of the scholars and not to any ghetto. There was a lake beside which the sage, Agastya, used to stay. There the pilgrim might stay for three days without food, handing over all he had to and honouring the nobles (devas) and the erstwhile feudal lords who had been included in the cadre of elders (pitrs). Of course they would in return help him with what he needed. They were not merciless exploiters.
If the pilgrim could not go on fast he might live on leaves and fruits while going to the abode of Subrahmanya, a sage who was not as demanding as the ruling elite were. From there he might reach the rich abode of the famous sage, Kanva, Pulastya said. It was the first of the abodes of sages to be set up. [Kanva was the uncle of Dushyanta and the godfather of Sakuntala.] According to the chronicler, any commoner who reached that abode was absolved of all sins.
Sthanu Kshetra and Academy of Civil Laws
Bhishma was advised then to go to the abodes of Yayati and Mahakala before reaching the abode of Sthanu (Siva), consort of Uma. Sthanu had the status of Isana, a charismatic chief. One who offered prescribed gifts of cattle there could with the support of Mahadeva become the chief (pati) of organised groups (ganas) and from the position of a senior member (sreshta) of the commonalty (manushyas) become rich and then even a powerful king of kings with no enemies.
That is, the commoner would rise to the status of a rich Vaisya from that of a leader of a group of workers and then become an emperor. If he performed sacrifices on the banks of the river Narmada he would learn in the seminars issues pertaining to civil laws and become eligible to function as a judge in the capacity of Agni. Most of these judges belonged to the upper crust of the commonalty (vis).
Bhishma was told that he could attain the above status of a judge by meeting similar requirements in the province of southern Sindhu as in the provinces on the banks of Narmada. If he reached the banks of Charmanvati in Central India (where Rantideva during a prolonged drought killed cattle and fed the Brahmans with beef and sold the hides to help them and became popular as protector of Brahmans) and performed that sacrifice as permitted by the heterodox ruler, Rantideva, he could become rich and an arbiter of civil disputes.
Vasishta's school and Donation to Cattle-farm
Bhishma was advised to visit the ravine in that area (bhumi) where once the sage, Arbuda, who hailed originally from the Himalayas and was a miner (sarpa) who knew the (dharmas), had his abode and where Vasishta had established a famous residential school (asrama). Staying even for one day there was considered to be highly useful in moulding ones character as a protector and donor of cows. (Vasishta was famous for his attachment to cows.) Similarly the spot known as Pingatirtha was noted for its tawny cattle. A commoner who visited that centre was required to observe celibacy during his stay there and donate a hundred cattle to that farm and dairy.
Prabhasa Tirtha and Agni as the head of the Academy
Pulastya introduced Bhishma to the importance of the famous Prabhasa tirthas of Western India. It was a place that deserved to be revered by the different groups of nobles and which sages had visited. Agni, the head of the intellectuals (samiti) personally headed the academy of civil laws there. He was the spokesman of the chiefs (devatas) of the frontier society and Vayu, the spokesman of the open territories, especially the moors and the deserts, assisted him. A commoner would be able to attend a five-day seminar in which sixteen scholars (agnishtoma) participated or a seminar that lasted a whole night (atiratra).
Estuary of Sarasvati
Bhishma was advised to then visit the estuary of Sarasvati (which was then still flowing) and gift cows to the needy. This gift would raise the commoner to the status of a noble (deva). Participating in the intellectual courses there for three days would raise a leader like Bhishma to the status of a flawless charismatic commander (Surya) as well as that of the permanent chief (Agni) of the intelligentsia. He would have to satisfy the expectations of the two sections of the ruling elite, the pitrs, that is, the former feudal lords (asuras) and the liberal nobles (devas) in order to obtain permission to function as the sober intellectual guide (Soma) of the frontier society. This was like performing an asvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice) to be entitled to exercise suzerainty over a newly conquered territory. [Narada wanted Yudhishtira to attain such a status.]
Durvasa's abode and Trisamdhi
Pulastya advised Bhishma to then proceed to the spot where the famous sage, Durvasa, an associate of Soma, had granted a boon to Vishnu. It may be noted here that during the later Vedic era, Indra, Angirasa (a Brahmavadi, socio-political ideologue and activist who upheld the socio-political constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda) and Arbuda (a sarparshi, a sage who guided the mobile workers of the forest society) led the combined army of the nobles, commoners and frontier society (divam, prthvi and antariksham) under the provisions of Trisamdhi (triple entente, signified by the trident) against the intransigent feudal lords (asuras). After Indra killed Arbuda for violation of this agreement, the officials designated as Indra, Agni and Soma headed these three social worlds. Later, Vishnu, Brahma and Siva were associated with these three social worlds. Durvasa was a Saivaite but the followers of Vishnu did not dare to offend him. Bhishma, a Saivaite, should not hesitate to meet this disciple of Atri.
From Durvasas abode, the pilgrim should go to Dwaraka and bathe at the pier named after a diver, Pindaraka, where many had offered gold coins with the lotus mark in memory of their ancestors. The three leaves in which the lotus was set symbolised the Trident of Mahadeva held in esteem by the Saivaites. [The Vrshnis who ruled over this region were also known as pindarakas. The term, pindari, attributed to some wild groups of central India must have been a reference to those groups who lived on looting the divers who were the beneficiaries of these offerings.] Pulastya did not refer to Krshna in connection with Dwaraka. He was referring to the state of affairs that prevailed before Krshna and the Vrshnis migrated from Mathura to the western island, Dwaraka, the gateway to India.
Sindhu estuary and Varuna
Pulastya advised Bhishma to move northwards from Dwaraka to the Sindhu estuary, which was considered to be the abode of Varuna. One who paid his debts to the three cadres, retired feudal lords (pitrs, asuras), liberal nobles (devas) and sages (rshis), who were not involved in economic activities, for the assistance he and his ancestors had received from them would be accepted as a member of the social cadre (loka) of Varuna, the ombudsman of the Vedic times. Varuna presided over the western social polity based on anarchism and freedom of individuals who shone by their own merit. This master of the seas kept the civil defaulters in bondage in his galleys.
Abode of Sankukarna, a plutocrat and Mahesvara
Bhishma was advised to go to the abode of Sankukarna (one whose ears were shaped like a conch) who had the status of a charismatic benevolent chief (Isvara) of the frontier society and was considered to be a cruel plutocrat (danava). But he was raised to the status of a noble (deva). Offering tributes to him enabled one to benefit from his conquests, signified by asvamedha yajna. His permission was necessary to meet Mahesvara who had his abode at Samica. Mahesvara was held in reverence by the rich plutocrats (yakshas) while Mahadeva was followed by the aristocrats (devas) and the commoners (manushyas) of the core society.
Samica centre and Rudras
The chronicler noted that Brahma, the head of the constitution bench, and other nobles (devas) used to come to Samica spot to meet Mahesvara. He held that one who after bathing in that forest-lake revered Rudra would be absolved of all the sins he had committed since his birth. (Siva, Sambhu, Sthanu, Samkara, Mahadeva, Bhaga, Sarva were all Rudras, one of the four groups of traditional nobles who had moved to the forests and mountains.) Pulastya told Bhishma, a senior social leader (purushasreshta) that all nobles praised the Samica centre.
Narada explained to Yudhishtira addressing him as a prominent free man (narasreshta) (indicating that unlike Bhishma the latter lacked the dynamism and traits of a leader) and an intellectual that Vishnu, the head of the larger society (a prabhu), who was taken to task for taking an active part in killing the feudal lords (asuras) who were enemies of the liberal nobles (devas), had to atone for it at Samica, a camp of Mahesvara who was a protector of the heterodox groups like asuras, yakshas, siddhas and rakshasas (feudal lords, plutocrats, free intellectuals and forest guards). As the Mahadeva constitution did not permit any one to launch conquests a commoner king (manushya) who desired to be a conqueror had to take the special permission of this charismatic leader of the people (Parameshti) for the conquests and strictly adhere to the rules of war.
Yasodara and Conquest
After a conquest one was expected to visit Yasodara if he wanted his conquests marked by asvamedha yajna to be declared valid. He had to restrain his senses and satisfy the nobles (devas) and the retired feudal lords (asuras, pitrs) that he had remained within his jurisdiction and had not while defeating the ruler of that territory transgressed on the authority of the house of nobles and elders and their rights to be owners of personal property meant for yielding benefits regularly. Then only he would be accepted as one who had followed the policies advocated by Vishnu. [Was Vasordhara a concept adopted by the Buddhists?] Vasus were one of the four cadres of traditional nobles (devas). They were essentially the higher ranks of the bourgeoisie and landed gentry.
Narada recalling Pulastyas counsel to Bhishma told Yudhishtira that at the upper reaches of the Sindhu delta there was a spot where one was expected to gift away gold and then move to Brahmatirtha where after purifying himself for deviations from rules he could be declared as not having violated the socio-political constitution (Brahma), that barred all wars leading to acquiring the wealth of other peoples, rich or poor. Wars could be only between kings. The commoners and the rich were not to be made victims of exploitation. Manava Dharmasastra has accepted the rule that property that had no legitimate owners has to be cast away in water (to be precise, handed over to Varuna, the trustee of public and unclaimed property and also the property of those who died intestate).
Five Tributaries of Sindhu
Pulastya also drew attention to the centre where the free intellectuals, siddhas, who had accomplished their quests, came across the girls who were under the protection of Indra, the head of the nobility and married them (with Indras permission). The sage then dwelt on the spot where Renuka (wife of Jamadagni) was associated with the siddhas. (Parasurama took his mother to task for this heresy.) This meeting resulted in the Brahmans, the intellectuals of the core society who were under the guidance of Agni, coming in contact with the sober and flawless intellectuals of the frontier society who were under the guidance of Soma. The pilgrim was asked to reach the land of the five tributaries of Sindhu and perform sacrifices that would benefit the five sections of the larger core society, nobles (devas), retired feudal lords (pitrs, asuras), sages (rshis), commoners (manushyas) and the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery. It is irrational to interpret that the spirits of the dead were meant by the term, pitrs, and ghosts by the term, bhutas.
Bhima and Brahma hillock
Pulastya advised Bhishma to visit the centre known as Bhima, which would assure one an end to the present birth as a commoner (manushya) and elevate him as one born to a lady (devi) of the nobility and wear golden earrings in sign thereof. He would also be honoured as a donor of a huge livestock. If he thereafter visited the hillock said to be a seat of Brahma, he would be adjudged as such a donor. He was then advised to visit the pure (vimala) lake of golden and silver fish and meet the adre of nobles (Indraloka) and be treated as one free from sins.
Vitasta and Takshaka
This would then lead him to Vitasta in Kashmir and acknowledge his gratitude to the two wings of the elite, the elders (pitrs, asuras) and the nobles (devas). This was the abode of Takshaka, leader of sarpas, industrial proletariat. [Sarpayajna was said to free one from all sins.] Pulastya said that the homage paid to the industrial proletariat would lead the king to be honoured as one who had brought an end to conflict between social groups. Vajapeya sacrifice indicated this end of long-standing social conflicts. (It is not sound to treat that Pulastya advocated worship of serpents.)
It was equal to Rajasuya, the drink that one partook entitling him to be an arbiter among his subordinates or to Brhaspati-suya entitling a jurist (Brahman) to be an arbiter between different social groups, rich or poor. Every social group had to be given its due space lest it should result in social conflicts. Vitasta seems to have been a clearing-house of merchants located on the banks of a river that came under the jurisdiction of Takshaka.
Malada and approval of Agni for new projects--Charu
Pulastya advised Bhishma (a king) to reach Malada, a place where he could wash off all his sins and offer the preparation known as charu to the civil judge, Agni and obtain his approval for his further projects. Bhishma was regent during the childhood of Dhrtarashtra and Pandu. The chronicler noted that the learned (vidvan) considered that the treasury from which gifts were offered there would never deplete (akshaya).
Social Integration and Rudras
The sage told the chief (pati) of the commoners (manushyas) that at that spot various social cadres, sages (rshis), elders who had retired from all activities, especially reformed feudal chieftains (pitrs), aristocrats (devas), free intelligentsia (gandharvas and apsarases), protectors of secrets of nature (guhyakas), free men of the industrial frontier society (kinnaras), plutocrats (yakshas), those who had achieved perfect knowledge (siddhas), the young scholars (vidyadharas), commoners (manushyas), forest guards (rakshasas), feudal chiefs who were not reformed (daityas), the nobles who guided the peoples of the forest society (rudras) and the chief judge and upholder of the Atharvan constitution (Brahma) all offered charu seven times to Vishnu (Kesava). That spot was known as sapta charu. Reference to Rudras indicates that the technocrats (nagas) and industrial proletariat (sarpas) of the forest society too participated in the event that marked social integration.
Agnishtoma and Deliberation on Civil Laws
Bhishma (Yudhishtira) was then advised to visit the seat of Rudra and get the approval of Mahadeva for the conquests he had made (the asvamedha sacrifices performed in token of). He was advised to visit the abode of Maniman (a plutocrat, yaksha) and attend the seminar known as agnishtoma where sixteen scholars deliberated on civil laws that Agni implemented.
Devika, a sacrificial spot
Bhishma should next go to the spot known as Devika where a cadre of jurists (brahmanas) was formed. Beside Devika there was a spot where Mahesvaras trident was planted. By offering him charu one would obtain all the benefits that he sought through his sacrifices, it was said. Pulastya asked Bhishma to bathe in the attractive lakes in that Rudra territory and be free from all sorrows and fear of death. Nobles and sages visited this area. Near that spot there was an open ground where prolonged and intensive seminars (dirgasatra) were held. Brahma and other nobles (devas), siddhas and famous sages attended it. The king was asked to go there to get his rajasuya and asvamedha sacrifices recognised by the organisers of those seminars.
Vinasana, Camasa, Sasavana-- Entrance to the mines
Pulastya (Narada) advised Bhishma (Yudhishtira) to visit three spots on the banks of Sarasvati. At Vinasana where the river disappeared in the sands one could learn to be a sober intellectual like Soma. At the source of the ladle-like basin, Camasa, one might attend the academic seminars on social and civil laws, Agnishtoma. At Siva, where one of its tributaries began, the commoner was advised to gift cows. If he visited the source of the rivulet, Naga, he might land in deep mines, the land of the miners, nagaloka. Narada advised Yudhishtira to visit Sasayana, a habitat of rabbits on the banks of Sarasvati and learn their gentleness and timidity and be treated as such a gentle member of the Soma lineage.
Estuary of SarasvatiRudras academy and Brahmaloka
In the same region there was a spot visited by Kumara (Skanda) and another by Rudra who flaunted the Rshabha (bull) flag. Several sages who were unable to find solutions to their disputations visited that spot to learn from Rudra (Mahadeva) directly the proper answers. He advised that they and the commoners should be engaged in spread of dharma, especially the code of the clans, kuladharma. His approval was necessary to validate conquests, asvamedha yajnas.
The estuary of Sarasvati was noted for the assemblage of nobles and sages headed by Brahma, where Vishnu (Kesava) was the chief guest. Narada advised Yudhishtira to visit that place and gift gold coins and go ahead to attend the meetings of the jurists at Brahmaloka. Yudhishtira could attend it as he was a prominent free man (nara sreshta) and chief of such free men (naras). A commoner (manushya) who had not deviated from the codes of his clan might attend the academic seminars and symposia (satras) conducted by sages (rshis) on the banks of Sarasvati, gifting cows. (Ch.80 Vanaparva)
Pulastya then explained to Bhishma the importance and greatness of Kurukshetra. All the living beings (pranis), especially those who had been consigned to the ghettoes or to the subaltern for social offences, were freed of them if they visited Kurukshetra and made amends by bathing in the lake there. Many wanted to permanently reside there. The residents of this town that was located south of Sarasvati and north of Drshadvati felt that they were like nobles (residing in svarga, heaven in common parlance). A warrior who visited that town should stay there on the banks of Sarasvati for at least a month.
It was a haunt of Brahma and other nobles (devas), sages (rshis), and free intellectuals (siddhas, charanas, gandharvas, apsarases) and plutocrats (yakshas) and technocrats (pannagas, especially miners), and was known as Brahmakshetra where Brahma, the socio-political constitution was pronounced and interpreted. [Krshna and others called it Dharmakshetra where conflicting standpoints on dharma were resolved.] By this visit to Kurukshetra one became entitled to go to the academy of scholars (Brahmaloka). However the plutocrat (yaksha) on guard had to declare that whatever that victor had earned at his asvamedha and rajasuya yajnas (sacrifices) as spoils and tributes from vassals were valid accruals.
Satatam: Hari's academy
Narada, recalling Pulastyas counsel to Bhishma, told Yudhishtira that he should visit Satatam, the famous abode of Vishnu where Hari held his sessions continually expounding and instituting his stands on truth, theology and ethics. This visit would consolidate the fruits of his conquests and give him access to the cadres that were devoted to Vishnu (Hari). This centre must have been located on the periphery under the supervision of Hari who belonged to a new group of nobles raised during the tenure of Manu Tamasa. Vishnu belonged to the group of Adityas and Krshna to the group of Vasus.
Yudhishtira was asked to move then to the centre where fast running horses (pariplavas) were bred and attend the seminars called agnishtoma and atiratra. At the centre called prthvi tirtha, an agro-pastoral centre, he would learn how to breed large livestock and give them away to the needy. If Yudhishtira reached Salukini, a gandharva (symbolised by lotus) centre of cavaliers where those who performed numerous conquests (ten asvamedha yajnas) offered gifts, (and offered gifts) he would be honoured for that achievement. [Narada addressed Yudhishtira as chief of naras. The term, narapati, indicated a commander of an infantry division. Hence he had to honour the traditional cavaliers if his horse sacrifice were to be declared as following a valid victory.]
If Yudhishtira reached the capital (darvi, hood) of the technocrats (nagas) and industrial proletariat (sarpas), he would be able to benefit from participation in their seminars (agnishtoma) and gain access to their social world (nagaloka). Knowing the rules (dharmas) he had to pay tolls (in kind, as cows) to the gatekeeper there. He could stay there only for one night. Then he should move on to the land of the five rivers (pancanada, tributaries of Sindhu) and the spot where they merged with Sindhu. Here too he should get his conquests approved. By bathing in the streams and ponds with herbal waters as recommended by Asvinidevas one kept his figure trim.
Varaha-Kshetra and Agnishtoma
Narada advised him to go to the place associated with the incarnation of Vishnu as a boar (varaha). Yudhishtira who had as a highly respected free man (narasreshta) conquered many areas, was asked to participate in the deliberations (agnishtoma) held there by sixteen civil judges (agni) of the core society.
Jayanti and Soma seminar
He was asked to visit as a commoner (manushya) of the core society the centre, Jayanti, noted for the session conducted under the chairmanship of Soma, the chief of the sober intelligentsia of the forest society and get his victories approved and obtain recognition as an emperor, a status that he earned after performing rajasuya sacrifice. For bathing in the pond with a lone swan, a commoner (manushya) should have gifted away many cows. [It is wrong to state that the pilgrim was asked to visit the distillery where the sugarcane-juice was purified and distilled. In fact it was a spot where he could get purified of all stains.]
Munchavata- Sthanus camp Five Graves and Parasurama
He should then go to Munchavata, a camp of Sthanu and stay there for a night and obtain control over his gangs (ganas). He was asked to meet a yaksha (plutocrat) lady there and obtain from her whatever he needed. That spot was at the entrance to the lake at Kurukshetra. It had a status equal to Pushkara, the headquarters of Brahma, from where the pilgrim began his circumambulation of the country. One had to restrain his senses and after bathing in that lake should present his offerings to his ancestors. Parasurama, son of the sage, Jamadagni, had dug that lake. [It must have been dug only recently then. Parasurama and Bhishma were contemporaries.]
Pulastya said that Parasurama had killed the Kshatriyas in Kurukshetra and buried their bodies in five mass graves there. Parasurama was said to have pacified his ancestors with the blood of those Kshatriyas. Parasurama who had acted in anger prayed that he should once again be able to become a tapasvi and scholar in Vedas. Those graves were later converted into small founts so that all traces of that gory event were wiped out. According to Pulastya, The senior members of Parasuramas family claimed that Parasurama killed the Kshatriyas because of their faults. To be precise Parasuramas followers claimed so. Those founts have later been treated as holy spots.
The chronicler then noted that the pilgrim should visit those spots where he could get his physical ailments treated. He was not dealing only with the spots that were holy and where he could get rid of his sins or the ones where he could get his ambitions and desires fulfilled. The pilgrim was advised to visit the spot where his remote ancestors lived and where his lineage was founded. The pilgrim to whichever social world he belonged should visit the place where Vishnu had raised the status of all the three social worlds (lokas). This visit would help him to adopt a broad and optimistic outlook, the chronicler implied. It would help him to be humble and honour the reformed powerful warlords (pitrs, asuras) and also the liberal nobles (devas) the two wings of the ruling elite.
Pulastya did not refer to the events pertaining to the victory of the nobles over the warlords, while explaining the importance of the different holy places. Pulastya told Bhishma to visit the abode of Kapila where a commoner was expected to honour the above two groups and donate tawny (kapila) cows. (It is too simplistic to assume that the term, pitrs invariably meant everywhere, spirits of the dead ancestors.) Kapila, an expounder of samkhya dialectics, was not an advocate of irrational beliefs in the existence of or in the immortality of the soul. He was for social integration through recognition for both the antagonistic approaches, daiva and asura, and striving for compromise between the two approaches.
Pulastya advised Bhishma to visit the spot which was sacred for Surya and after honouring the pitrs and the devas, the two wings of the ruling elite, take part in the academic seminar (agnishtoma) on civil laws conducted there. Aditya (Surya) as the chief official representing the authority of the nobles came to the fore during the Upanishadic times after the authority of Indra declined as a result of the latter tending to act on his own breaking the provisions of the triple entente, Trisamdhi, and the Indra-Brhaspati agreement.
Learning Civil Laws of the Plutocratic society
The pilgrim was asked to visit the gopavana, a cattle farm, and donate cows to it. He was advised to visit Sankhini, a spot where he could get a beautiful form. [Sankhini was an apsaras who was treated as a powerful (sakti) lady.] Then he should visit a spot on the banks of Sarasvati, which was under the control of a plutocratic ruler (yaksharaja). After entering it with the permission of the gatekeepers the commoner (manushya) should attend the seminars (agnishtoma) conducted there. After learning the stands of the plutocrats (yakshas) on civil laws, the leading (rich, sreshta) commoner (manushya) who however did not have the status and privileges of either a noble (deva) or a plutocrat (yaksha), should go to Brahmavarta, the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin, to learn from its scholars and jurists of the academy of intellectuals (Brahmaloka) whether the stands of the rich plutocrats accorded with those outlined by those jurists. [It is obvious that later chroniclers have missed the implications of the counsel that Pulastya and Narada gave to their royal students.]
The king (raja) who as Indra had control over the treasury also was asked to visit the highly revered Sutirtha where former authoritarian chiefs of the feudal order (pitrs, asuras) held sway along with the yakshas (plutocrats) who had the status of devatas, a rank marginally lower than that of the aristocrats (devas). Sutirtha was a centre where the faults in the two approaches, authoritarian and plutocratic were corrected. A commoner king who visited that centre would learn to honour instead the combine of pitrs (asuras) and devas, the two wings of the governing elite of the core society. He would get his conquests (asvamedha yajnas) approved by that elite and would then retire and join the cadre (pitrloka) of former warlords and patriarchs (pitrs, asuras). [It is irrational to hold that pitrloka referred to the place where the souls of the ancestors stayed until they were satisfied through sraddha rites by their descendants.]
The conqueror was asked to retire after achieving his goal of becoming an emperor. As one got this instruction and a new orientation at Sutirtha (centre of reformation) it was held in esteem by Pulastya. Pulastya was a patron of the plutocrats (yakshas), who were neither as liberal as the aristocrats (devas) were or as harsh as the feudal lords (pitrs, asuras) were. They were pragmatic.
Pulastya advocated that the pilgrim should visit all centres of the benevolent plutocrats and guardians of the treasury (kosesvara) and become free from ailments. Such a person was revered in Brahmaloka, the academy of scholars, he said. Pulastya was not for intellectuals being kept as a cadre of poor and ailing celibates. He wanted these intellectuals to have offspring and also wealth. It was only after going through the grhastha stage of life, procreating children and earning wealth that the commoner should retire to his forest abode in hills with cool breeze (sitavana) where he would lead a rigorously austere but calm life living on roots.
Sitavana- a cool and calm grove for purification
Addressing Bhishma (Yudhishtira) as the chief of free men (naras), Pulastya (Narada) said that a free man although he had separated from it had a duty to his clan though not to his entire society. He had to get rid of the undesirable tendencies and elements that had crept into it. He had to purify himself even if he did not want to get immersed in its affairs. At that forest abode, sitavana, one shed his hair through pranayama while bathing in the cataract, the learned scholars (brahmans) held. Did Bharata, according to Pulastya, become an ascetic there after giving up all his possessions including hair? Narada told Yudhishtira that near that spot there was a spring where a commoner (manushya) king who had performed ten asvamedha yajnas should get purified to attain a higher status.
Manushatirtha; Recruitment to the Commonalty
Narada introduced to him a pond known as manusha tirtha, where it was said some black bucks that were surrounded by a hunter fell and were transformed into men. Such imagery is found in many episodes. The innocent and timid sections of the forest society were accepted into the fold of the commonalty (manushyas) of the plains. A commoner who observed celibacy and controlled his senses would become free from all sins by bathing in that pond and would be lauded by the nobles (devas), he said.
Apaga and abode of siddhas: Resolution of enigmas
To the east of that pond was river Apaga beside which famous siddhas had their abode. The commoner was asked to feed a Brahman there with raw rice and please the pitrs and devas, the reformed authoritarian feudal lords and liberal nobles who functioned within the provisions of the constitution, Brahma. The pilgrim was asked to stay there overnight and attend the agnishtoma seminar there and benefit from the views expressed by the pitrs and devatas. The pilgrim, a king belonging to the Bharata lineage, was asked to go then to the wide plains known as Brahma-udumbhara, a banyan tree under which the Brahman jurists sat to deliberate on and pronounce solutions to enigmas in the laws. These were obviously what arose from the deliberations at the manusha tirtha.
Kedara and Kapinjala's academy: Samkara's terrain
Addressing Yudhishtira as a rich and leading free man (nara sreshta) and as a king who had the financial powers of Indra, Narada asked him to then visit the wells of the seven sages and of the great sage, Kapinjala, a Vidyadhara (a scholar who was always on the move upholding the power and influence of formal studies on disciplining all), at Kedara and get purified, that is, get his views free from doubts. Then he would be able to exercise an invisible influence over all. He would thereafter reach the academy of scholars (Brahmaloka). The free man (nara) would also be able to meet the cadres who followed Samkara (Rudra who flaunted the bull on his flag) and then the nobles. While visiting the various founts in Samkaras terrain, he would come in contact with the devatas and pitrs, the reformed sections of the plutocracy and feudal elements and he would not decline in his status through violation of the differing social codes and would not land in naraka, the subaltern. He would instead benefit from participation in the academic seminars held there.
Narada's Academy at Ajananda
Pulastya introduced Bhishma to the famous spring, Ajananda connected with Narada. A commoner who visited that spot was enabled by Naradas teachings to rise to higher social ranks after giving up his association with his clan and community.
Pundarika centres of Rudra and Skanda
Pulastya and Narada then recommended that the pilgrim should visit Pundarika and Vaitarani at Trivishtapa (which was a centre of Rudra) and Balakivana (a bird sanctuary where nobles, devas, were engaged in tapas for several years to obtain new powers) and Drshadvati (where commoners were permitted to attend the prolonged and shorter seminars, agnishtoma and atiratra, conducted under the auspices of devatas, nobles of the frontier society). A commoner might gift cows at the spot visited by all nobles (devas) and attend the above seminars at Panighata. At the latter spot his rajasuya sacrifice could be got applauded. He could mingle among the cadres of sages there. [Skanda might have visited this spot.]
Vyasavana and Sakti centre
The two sages recommended that the pilgrim should visit the spot where Vyasa brought together two rivers for the benefit of the scholars who had camped there. He should also visit Vyasavana, a grove and gifts cows to the dairy there. Nearby there was a spot sacred to Devi (Sakti) where he should pay tributes to pitrs and devas (former feudal lords and liberal nobles) and gift cows. At the spot where Kausiki joined Drshadvati, Vyasa had once tried to end his life after his son had died but was saved by nobles, the pilgrim should donate cows. Pulastya told Bhishma who was bearing all responsibilities on behalf of the Kurus to go to Kindatta, a well at Vyasasthali and gift forty-eight fistfuls of gingili and be free from all debts to his ancestors. The pilgrim was asked to gift cows at Vedi and go to the two spots, Ahas and Sudina, where he could be granted the status of a general (Surya).
Deer forest of Mahadeva
The pilgrim was advised to move thereafter to the deer forest on the banks of Ganga and pay homage to Mahadeva and get that great charismatic personage approve his conquests (asvamedha yajnas). He was also asked to donate cows at the spot sacred for his consort (devi).
The pilgrim should then go to the spot honoured by Vamana, the dwarfish scholar (Brahman) who trounced the feudal warlord, Bali, and retrieved all the three social worlds (lokas) from him. By performing the rites prescribed for honouring Vamana who had the status of Vishnu, one could be admitted to the cadre (loka) of the followers of Vishnu. The pilgrim, a commoner (manushya) who had parted company with his kinsmen should then bathe at the spot known as Kulampuna and get reunited with his reformed clan (kula).
The centre in Maru land
Pulastya told Bhishma, a prominent social leader (purushasreshta) that a pilgrim who reached the spot, often visited by Maruts (one of the four groups of traditional nobles) and exposed to winds (pavana), and bathed in its waters would be revered by the cadres around Vishnu. If he reached the spot visited by nobles (amaras) and revered Indra, the chief of the nobles, he would be received in the social world of nobles (svarga) with respect. The pilgrim was advised to visit the cattle pound of Salihotra (a veterinarian) and donate it cows.
Srikunja seminar for Civil Laws
Narada asked Yudhishtira, a Bharata and a prominent social leader, to attend the seminar at Srikunja on the banks of Sarasvati and learn the civil laws. He told the king who carried on his shoulders the responsibility to continue the traditions of the Kurus to visit Kurukshetra that the sages of Naimisha forest visited in the past. This visit would give validity to his conquests, asvamedha yajnas.
Kanya Tirtha: Offering cows and accepting a Virgin
On the banks of Sarasvati, near Kurukshetra, there was a bigger meeting place (kunja) for the sages. A commoner who bathed there was eligible to attend their deliberations on civil laws (agnishtoma). Narada told Yudhishtira who knew the social laws, dharma, that from there he should go to the place of virgins (kanya tirtha) and offer cows (for godana had the same merit as kanyadana had). It was not necessary for a commoner to give away his daughter in marriage as a virgin. But he might give a cow to a sage and receive from him a virgin under his care as a groom and as a deserving Brahman. [This practice was known as Arsha marriage but many sages did not approve it as it resembled Asura marriage where bride-money was paid to secure a girl for marriage.]
Higher education for Commoners: Brahmatirtha, Somatirtha
Narada told the king that at the highly revered Brahmatirtha nearby even a commoner (manushya) who belonged to a lower class (varna) was initiated into the knowledge that Brahmans were eligible to gain and the practices that they were eligible to follow. A Brahman too could get reinitiated in his duties and rise to a higher level. Somatirtha was adjacent to the Brahmatirtha. There a commoner of a higher standard who belonged to the agro-pastoral core society could get initiated into the sober intelligentsia of the other society of the forests and mountains.
Sapta Sarasvata centre and Mahadeva
It was a period when new social relations were established in these centres of culture. Narada recounted to Yudhishtira what Pulastya had told Bhishma about the different centres of culture. One of them was known as Sapta Sarasvata. It was connected with the experiences that a scholar, Mankhanaka who scratched his finger and found that the blood that came out was like the juice of a plant. He was elated that he had discovered that human beings were not different from plants. His elation it was said made the plants and animals and even inanimate objects too dance in elation! The other sages (rshis) and scholars (tapasvis) who were trying hard to find out the secrets of nature and liberal nobles (devas) and socio-political ideologues (brahmavadis) who were also social activists and followed the Atharvaveda felt that that scholars findings had far-reaching implications for the social order.
They requested Mahadeva to remove their fears. Mahadeva asked him what he had discovered that elated him. When the sage told him about his experience, Mahadeva showed him how he could produce ash by scratching his thumb. The sage realised that Mahadeva the creator, protector and destroyer of all systems had put him to shame. Pulastya implied that a scholar should try to learn from nature its secrets but should be humble and not claim that he was different from or superior to others. Mankhanaka only requested that he be permitted to stay there and pursue his studies. Mahadeva comforted that Brahmarshi and said that he too would stay at the centre of knowledge, Sarasvat, and guide all.
Pulastya asked Bhishma to then visit the academy of Usanas, a great political thinker and son of Bhrgu. Brahma (the head of the judiciary that upheld the Atharvan socio-political constitution) and other nobles and sages who were engaged in outlining Arthasastra, the science of principles of gaining wealth and political power, and the influential sage, Subrahmanya (identified with Skanda, Sanatkumara and often referred to as Kartikeya, the general, Senapati), belonging to the Saivaite schools used to visit this academy. It was famous among all the three social worlds (lokas), aristocracy (divam), commonalty (prthvi) and the frontier society (antariksham).
Kapalamocanam: Centre for highest freedom
Pulastya advised Bhishma, a prominent (sreshta) social leader (purusha) to visit Kapalamocanam, a place where death would give one the highest freedom, freedom from all sins (committed in the course of leadership). [The life going out of the body through the apex of the skull was considered to be the best form of death.]
Agnitirtha and Agniloka: Academy of Civil Laws
Narada following Pulastya advised Yudhishtira, a prominent free individual (nara sreshta) (who was not bound to any social group) to visit the centre known as Agnitirtha. There he would learn the civil laws applicable to the commonalty (of the Vedic times) and become a member of the civil judiciary (agniloka) and would free the members of his faculty (kula) from the dilemmas they found themselves in.
Visvamitras Academy for Jurists
Yudhishtira was advised to visit the nearby centre named after Visvamitra. Training there would help a king (rajan) to become a leading free individual (nara sreshta) and then obtain the eligibility to function as a sage and jurist, who had mastered the socio-political constitution, Brahma. Narada noted that a Rajarshi (a sage who was also the head of the state) could not be directly elevated as a Brahmarshi (a sage heading the judiciary) or hold both the positions.
After becoming eligible to be appointed as a judge of the Atharvan constitution bench, he had to visit as a reputed free man (nara sreshta) with no attachment to his social group, the centre known as Brahmayoni where he would be formally initiated to the cadre of scholars (Brahma) who were also jurists and admitted to the cadre of such scholars-cum-jurists (Brahmaloka). He would thereupon be freed from all personal liabilities to seven generations of his clan (his own, three preceding his and three succeeding his). Narada advised Yudhishtira not to entertain doubts about this privilege that a Brahman had. No ruler hence should dare to infringe on this immunities of a judge. It is not proper to interpret that all who were born to Brahman parents were immune from state control and action by the judiciary.
Narada told Yudhishtira that he should then visit Bhrudutaka, (a centre where confidential information was collected and transmitted to the concerned persons) which was controlled by Subrahmanya, and was famous in all the three social worlds. The king was asked to enter it after bathing in the pond there, for it was said that all the sins committed by a man or woman out of ignorance or wantonly would be cleansed by it. He would become entitled to enjoy the benefits of conquests, asvamedha yajnas. He would also become eligible to attend the proceedings of the house of nobles (svargaloka). That centre was considered to be more holy than Kuukshetra and the centres on the banks of Sarasvati. [One who died there, would have no rebirth, it was said later.]
It was a centre where confidential notes were exchanged under conditions of immunity. Sanatkumara (also known as Skanda) and Vyasa had extolled the centre, Bhrudutaka. Sanatkumara must have belonged to the school of Subrahmanya (known as Kumara, Skanda, Senapati and Kartikeya). These might have been different personages belonging to a common school of thought that was closer to the Rudra school of socio-political thought of the later Vedic times. Narada urged Yudhishtira, a nara sreshta, to visit that place. Sinners could enter the abodes of the nobles after getting purified there. Narada asked the king to then visit Madhusrava and gift cows there.
Sakti centre on banks of Sarasvati
He should visit a Sakti (devi) centre (tirtha) at the confluence of Sarasvati and Aruna and get exonerated of the sin of killing a Brahman, to be precise, the offence of challenging the verdicts given by or indulging in character assassination of judges. Aruna was a Vedic official who acted on behalf of Varuna, the upholder of the Vedic constitution, Brahma, and guided Aditya, the chief administrator and general. [Later, Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge, was held to be the consort of Brahma, the god who was omniscient.] Narada told the king that a commoner (manushya) should attend the seminars, agnishtoma and atiratra, held there and learn the civil laws. This education would exonerate him and his clan (for seven generations) of all offences.
Narada urged the king to visit Avadirna (creek) founded in the name of Sarangi (spotted doe) that was saved by Brahman sages who took pity on the wounded deer. It was a place where new entrants to schools were initiated (with upanayana) and religious rites were performed. The chronicler asserted that the ancients had experienced that bathing in that creek and getting trained there was highly beneficial for gaining the ability to learn all knowledge. The waters of all the four seas were brought there. Narada, addressing Yudhishtira as nara sreshta said that one would not be consigned as a fallen nara (free man) to the ghetto (naraka) if he learnt the best way of living by attending the seminars there. He was asked to gift cows to that centre. The king was advised two other spots known as thousand and ten thousands and then reach the spot where Renuka (wife of Jamadagni) atoned for her sins.
Pancavati: Yoga centre of Sthanu
After conquering his senses and observing rigorous celibacy he should reach Pancavati (on the banks of Godavari) where the charismatic and benevolent chief (Isvara) Sthanu (Rudra with the Rshabha flag) sat in the yoga posture. Association with that great yogi and chief of the nobles would help him to attain perfection (siddhi) in his undertakings.
Taijasa centre and Subrahmanya
Narada advised him to go then to the spot known as Taijasa and which was under the control of Varuna, the severe Vedic official who would not brook violation of civic and civil codes. Taijasa must have been on the west coast. Varuna was in charge of the western region. It was at that spot Subrahmanya was appointed by Brahma and other nobles and sages (rshis) whose only wealth was their endeavour to discover new ideas and methods (tapas), as commander (senapati) of the army of the nobles. Pulastya (Narada) told Bhishma (Yudhishtira) a great general who belonged to the Kurus that there was a spot in that region that was highly esteemed by the Kurus. Kuru was born to Samvarana who belonged to the Bharatas and was exiled, and to a princess of Tapati. Pancavati is south of the river, Tapati. After observing celibacy and controlling his senses one should bathe at that spot and free himself of all sins. He would then be eligible to join the academy of scholars and jurists (Brahmaloka). Then he could reach the entrance gates of the enclave of the nobles (devas).
Anaraka: Immunity against being assigned to Naraka
Narada told Yudhishtira, chief of the free men, naras, that after getting the status of a jurist-cum-aristocrat at Kurutirtha he should reach the spot, anaraka, where he would be granted immunity against being shunted as a fallen man to the subaltern, naraka. Pulastya (Narada) said that at that centre, Anaraka, Brahmadeva held his permanent council along with the nobles (devas) headed by Narayana.
He told Bhishma who had undertaken the responsibility to protect the Kuru clan that Mahadeva, a Rudra, who was a charismatic benefactor of the entire larger society as Visvesvara, along with his consort, Uma, gave audience to his followers there. Only Uma could save one from being cast as an offender to the ghetto and subaltern of the fallen free men, naraka. But to have access to the company of the cadres of Vishnu, one had to secure the approval of Narayana, Narada told Yudhishtira who had the status of a maharaja, a king who could pronounce judicial verdicts and also preside over the legislature besides being the head of the state.
Pulastya told Bhishma, a purushasreshta, that one who visited the centres where all the nobles (devas) gathered would become free from all sorrows and be sober and serene like Soma, the head of the intelligentsia stationed in the forests. Narada told Yudhishtira, chief of the free men, naras, to go to Svastipura (a village in the pastoral lands) and offer gifts to the farm there. At Pavana, a centre where Agni, the Vedic official in charge of civil administration and ethics presided, Bhishma should offer homage to the erstwhile cadres of feudal lords and nobles, pitrs and devas, the two sectors of the ruling elite of the Vedic times, Pulastya said. He should attend the seminar on civil laws (agnishtoma) there and benefit from it.
At that spot there was a pond known as Gangahrada and a well where people poured water brought from different places. Narada told Yudhishtira, guardian (natha) of agriculturists (bhumi) that a commoner who bathed in the waters of that well would become eligible for a place among the nobles. Yudhishtira was advised to bathe in Gangahrada so that he might benefit from his rajasuya and asvamedha sacrifices.
Sthanuvata and Vasishta's Badari grove
A commoner who at the fount, apaka, worshipped Mahesvara would become head of organised groups (ganas) and rescue his clan (kula) from destruction. He should then go to Sthanuvata and become a follower of Rudra. Pulastya (Narada) then advised Bhishma (Yudhishtira) to go to Vasishtas abode in the Badari grove and stay there for three days. That would be equal to living on berries for twelve years as penance. There were other places where he could get revered by nobles or by scholars even if he stayed there only for a few days.
He was advised to visit the place where Aditya (Surya), the general-cum-administrator had his abode. It would help him to save his clan (kula) from extinction. Addressing Bhishma as the guardian (natha) of the people (jana), Pulastya advised him to then visit the centre where Soma, the head of the sober intelligentsia of the forest, held the meetings of his council and get admitted to it (somaloka). Pulastya was anxious that there should be leaders of the people (jana) of the core society who would have good rapport with the people of the other society (itara jana), especially its sober intelligentsia. He had no doubt that this attempt would succeed. In this connection he drew attention to the efforts of Angirasa, one of the main contributors to the Atharvaveda anthology, to forge unity among the three social worlds (divam, prthvi and antariksham). Pulastya a colleague of Angirasa, advised Bhishma to visit the birthplace of Angirasa in the Sarasvati basin.
Dadhici's birthplace in Sarasvati basin
Pulastya advised that one should also visit the birthplace of Dadhici (who gave his spine to Indra to kill Vrtra Asura). This spot too was in that basin. Bathing in the spring named after him would get ones conquests (asvamedha yajnas) sanctified, he said. That person would also be admitted to the council of intellectuals of the Sarasvati region. One should be a celibate to enter the abode where a hundred girls of the aristocracy (devakanyas) were being trained. Narada advised Yudhishtira to perform a hundred asvamedha yajnas at Sannihati on the day of solar eclipse. As the waters swelled there on new moon days that river was called so. All the sins committed by men and women were washed away if they bathed there on the day of solar eclipse.
Yudhishtira was urged to visit the Naimisha forest to which a lake in the plains (bhumi) was attached and to bathe there and get purified before meeting the sages of that great forest. Neither Pulastya nor Narada dwelt at length on this forest. It should have come into existence only after the Battle of Kurukshetra.
The famous Pushkara lake was located in the midst of the forests and mountains (antariksham). But the academy at Kurukshetra was the most important of all centres. The residents of this town south of Sarasvati and north of Drshadvati might pride themselves as living in heaven. It was a place, which Brahmarshis preferred for their residence. What was the battlefield (samantapancaka) where several claimants to power were declared as undesirable warlords and killed by Parasurama during the course of his campaign to establish unarmed social polities in place of military dictatorships became the seat of the council of jurists headed by Brahmadeva. This council seems to have deliberated on the drawbacks in the proposed scheme and recommended a smooth passage to a new socio-political constitution, as indicated by the concept, uttaravedi of Brahma. (Ch.81 Vanaparva)
SPREAD OF REORIENTATION CENTRES
Narada (Pulastya) told Yudhishtira (Bhishma) to then visit the centre where the Vedic official who was in charge of social laws, dharma, achieved his objectives (siddhi) after great endeavour (tapas) to gain insight into what laws would accord with the socio-political constitution (brahma) being presented anew. According to Narada, if a commoner adhered to dharma and restrained his senses at the seventh step in his social ascent (seventh birth) he attained the peak of his career and cleansed his clan of all sins (errors of omission of duties and commission of violations of duties).
Was Narada drawing attention to the concept of seven social worlds (bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya)? When one got his deeds approved by the highest body, satyaloka, which adjudged his conduct on the basis of the Vedic laws that upheld truth (satya), not only that individual but his entire clan also was exonerated of all charges of moral turpitude or errors of omission and commission. This was particularly true of social and political leaders who were acting on behalf of their clans. It is too nave to interpret that seven generations to come or had gone by were exonerated of all sins.
Jnanapavana; Pure and faultless knowledge
The social laws, dharma, took into account the practices of the three generations prior to the one who was asked to answer for his conduct, those of his own generation, and the ones that his successors of the next three generations were likely to follow while penalising him for deviations from the norms or exonerating him. The new socio-political constitution, Brahma, without losing its powers to overrule social legislations, dharmas, allowed them vast powers of discretion. These were considered at the seminars (agnishtoma) participated in by sixteen judges under the chairmanship of the Vedic official, Agni. The place where these were held was described as jnanapavana, where knowledge secured was cleared of enigmas and imperfections. The silent ascetics (munis) of that place gave the decisions on the points of doubt raised. Yudhishtira was asked to attend those seminars and benefit.
Saugandhikavana: Resort of gandharvas
He was asked to go to Saugandhikavana, a grove where the pond had water lilies. It was a place where the cadres of gandharvas, kinnaras, charanas, siddhas and uragas who were known as punyajana (blessed people) and for their pleasant (sugandha) pursuits resided, along with sages engaged in tapas. Brahma and other nobles (devas) had access to their abode. A commoner could enter it only if he had been exonerated of all evil deeds and evil intents. Sarasvati, which flowed through this grove, was known as Plaksha. It was the source of Sarasvati. Narada advised the king to perform asvamedha yajna there after paying homage to the two sectors of the erstwhile ruling elite, pitrs (asuras) and devas to get his conquests sanctified. He asked Yudhishtira who was a rich and free man (nara sreshta) to donate cows to the cattle-farm at Gaveradyushita. Here too he might perform asvamedha yajna to get his fresh enterprises sanctioned and the earlier works sanctified.
Resorts at Sources of Tributaries of Sarasvati
Pulastya told Bhishma, a purushasreshta, that a commoner who reached the sources of Sugandha, Satakumbha and Pancayaksha, where groups belonging to punyajana (blessed peoples, gandharvas, siddhas etc.) had their camps, would be lauded by the nobles (devas). At Trisulagata he should pay homage to pitrs (erstwhile asuras) and devas. This would entitle him to become a leader of organised contingents (ganas) of mountain warriors but he would have to give up his personal (sarira) interests and identity. Pulastya asked Bhishma not to doubt this statement.
Devi Sakambari and Vegetarian diet
Narada asked Yudhishtira to proceed then to the abode of the lady (devi), Sakambari, who (unlike other deities of the Sakti cult) lived only on vegetarian diet. As she entertained the sages only with such diet she was called so. Narada advised Yudhishtira to spend his twelve years of exile in forest living only on vegetarian diet. Sakti cult did not at that stage patronise animal sacrifice and meat-eating.
Suvarna and Rudras approval for conquests
Narada then directed him to visit the famous centre, Suvarna, where Rudra (Mahadeva) encouraged Vishnu (Krshna) to continue his mission in the world of commoners. He was sure that the entire social world of commonalty would love him and accept his leadership. The conquests of a king who revered that great personage, Rudra with the Rshabha (bull) flag, would be approved and he would be appointed as the chief of his ganas who could stun (pramada) the foes.
Towards the source of Ganga: Kapila, a Naga chieftain
Narada advised Yudhishtira who knew the dharmas to climb the mountain, Rathavarta, with dedication and controlling his senses. With the support of Mahadeva he would reach its highest point. He should bathe in the falls there and walk around that mountain and then go towards the source of Ganga. After visiting the different rivulets and cataracts there, the pilgrim would reach Kapilavata. It was under the control of Kapila, a naga chieftain. [This chieftain must have been operating quarries.] The pilgrim was asked to gift (tawny) cows there. [This place was not connected with Kapila who expounded Samkhya.] The school of materialism was promoted by technocrats who controlled forests, mountains and mines.
Lalitaka, resort set up by Santanu
Pulastya asked Bhishma to visit Lalitaka, a pleasant and simple resort set up by his father, Santanu, perhaps to alleviate the sufferings of the people at the level of the subaltern (naraka).
Confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati
One who bathed at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna would get his conquests, the purposes of his asvamedha yajnas endorsed and the status of his clan would be elevated. Similarly, if he bathed at the confluence of Ganga and (eastern) Sarasvati, the nobles (devas) would approve his conquests. The pilgrim was advised to visit Badrakarna and pay his homage to the benevolent chieftain (Isvara, Deva) and ensure that he was not assigned to the ghetto (naraka) and that the nobles honoured him. At Kubjavati he should offer cows as gift to the needy to be approved by the nobles.
Arundati Tirtha in Sarasvati basin: Sober forest society
Narada told Yudhishtira that the pilgrim should go towards the spot named after Arundati (wife of Vasishta) in the Brahmavarta region (the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin). This visit was necessary to get the conquests (asvamedha yajnas) approved and to join the company of the sober intellectuals of the forest society who followed Soma (son of Atri). The source of Yamuna too was beneficial. It gave access to the nobles.
Darvisamkramana: Gathering of Industrial Proletariat
The pilgrim was asked to visit Darvisamkramana, a spot where members of the industrial proletariat (sarpas, darvis) met. Members of all the three social worlds extolled this gathering. All interpretations that tend to divert attention from the counsel to learn the views and outlooks of the workers should be discarded.
Academies at the source of Sindhu
The king was asked to reach the source of Sindhu, a favourite haunt of siddhas and gandharvas, and gift gold to them. If one reached the almost inaccessible high table there, he would have become eligible to perform asvamedha yajnas. He would also be able to learn the works of Usanas on polity from his followers visiting that table (vedi). Pulastya advised Bhishma to visit the academy (kula) of the sages (rshis) and after paying homage to the elders (pitrs, asuras) and nobles (devas) join that academy as student. There every one was required to live on vegetarian diet.
All those who enrolled themselves as students of the academy of Vasishta were treated as Brahmans irrespective of the class (varna) in which they were born or vocation they pursued. Bhishma was asked to visit that academy and also that connected with Bhrgu. There was another spot dedicated to the memory of fallen heroes (virapramoksha) that might be visited. There were two other spots where seminars, agnishtoma and atiratra, were held in the months of Krttika and Magha. There was another centre where one could learn all sciences and skills (sarvavidya). He should visit that too and benefit from its evening sessions that were open to all.
The pilgrim was asked to stay for one night without food at the large abode (asrama) that was a reformatory for all beings (pranis). Those belonging to the lower rungs of the society who were reformed there could be admitted to higher rungs (lokas). There was yet another large structure (temple?) where one had to stay for one month and offer donations to it. Here too there were restrictions about diet.
Institute of Constitution and Political Science: Brahmatirtha
The pilgrim should thereafter reach an institute where Vedas (socio-political and socio-cultural constitutions) were taught under the supervision of Brahma, the chief of the intelligentsia and head of the constitution bench. This visit would enable the king to get his conquests, asvamedha yajnas, approved by that body. He would also be considered as one functioning under the political codes outlined by Usanas. After that the king might visit the centre known as Sundarika and gain a good physique under the directions of the siddhas who were experts in health and medicine. He should however without yielding to sex and restraining his senses reach the spot known as Brahmatirtha, get purified and be led to the academy of the intellectuals and jurists, Brahmaloka. This experience would entitle him to be intimately associated with the sages of the famous Naimisha forest and hear and learn from their deliberations various valuable lessons.
He could stay there for one month. One had to observe all rules pertaining to purity to be able to gain the traits expected of a jurist, Brahman. This status would be granted to him after he reached the source of Ganga and performed Vajapeya sacrifice. He should then reach the banks of Sarasvati and satisfy the retired members of the elite, pitrs (asuras) and devas, its two sectors. One who had done so would delight the different cadres of intellectuals (devoted to Sarasvati). Pulastya asked Bhishma not to entertain doubts about this gain. [Pulastya seems to treat the authoritarian patriarchs, pitrs, of the culture that flourished in the Sarasvati basin on par with the liberal nobles, devas, who came to the fore during the middle Vedic period.]
Training for the highest judiciary
The pilgrim should then go to Bhakuta range in the Himalayas, and stay there for a night as a student attending a seminar conducted by the nobles (devas). He should then visit a session conducted by the blessed peoples (punyajana rshis, siddhas, vidyadharas, gandharvas etc.) on the banks of Kshiravati and pay his homage to the two sectors of the ruling elite, the authoritarian feudal lords (pitrs, asuras) and the liberal nobles (devas) and gain the benefit of Vajapeya sacrifice, that is, the position of the head of the highest judiciary along with that of an emperor obtained by Brhaspati-sava and Rajasuya sacrifice. If he stayed for a night at the spot known as pure sorrowlessness (vimala asoka) the nobles would honour him. A king would not be entitled to function as a Rajarshi even after performing Rajasuya sacrifice unless he secured the approval of the upholders of the Atharvan constitution like Brhaspati who ensured that the nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas) did not meddle in the affairs of the other stratum of the core social polity.