Born in April 1990, in Puducherry, India; at the age of 26 years, Sushrut A.Badhe has a made three national records for:
- The First Rhyme Book based on The Bhagvad Gita
- Sanskrit Upanishads in English Rhymes and
- The Bhagvad Gita as a poetic rhymes book
Through this exclusive interview with the author of Bhagvad Gita: The Rhythm of Krishna, The Rhythm of Isha Upanishad, The Rhythm of Mandukya Upanishad, The Rhythm of Kena Upanishad and The Rhythm of the Anand Upanishad under the series: The Rhythm of The Upanishads and also The Rhythm of the Spirit let’s have a glimpse at the life and works of this poet who has no formal training in creative writing or the Sanskrit language in which the original texts were written. It was only through his conscientious efforts that he learned the Sanskrit language and felt inspired to translate them in their original poetic flair. Let’s explore what has made this student from an engineering and science background to dive into the mystical realm of these ancient spiritual texts.
In this fast paced world where everyday new technology is getting outdated and replaced by newer one, and people are in a race, how did you venture to dive into these age old texts and what did you foresee as the benefit they would bring forth to you or the world at large?
My journey began 6 years ago while completing my bachelors in Mechanical engineering. I already had an offer of M.Sc in Renewable Engineering in the UK. But I noticed that I had a tendency to catch a cold very easily, so I decided to work upon it before leaving India. Hence, I set out to learn some breathing exercises called Pranayama from Sri.M.R.Damle who was the founder of KVM Research Labs - an SSI unit manufacturing and exporting Ayurvedic Products. He was most accommodative and freely allotted 2-3 hours of his time for me every day. I used to join him for Pranayama after college and would attentively listen to his evening talks on a wide range of subjects both material and spiritual.
Even though all was moving in the right direction on the outside, I realized there was a lot of confusion on the inside and there was a lot I needed to learn about life before setting out to pursue my ambitions. I decided to postpone my PG course by a year and it was during that time that I realized that I had found my teacher who would clear all my doubts and mould my life so that I may be able to contribute something to the world. I was most fascinated by his fusion of both the ancient and modern philosophies and I realized that with the right teacher, one can learn in any city in the Universe and so I dropped my University plans and joined his life mission keeping his oft repeated quote in mind - "Be an ordinary person leading an extraordinary life".
I thought I could learn better if I began living with him and so I asked if I could move into his house to which he gladly consented. I sought permission from my parents to move out and ever since then I have been with him. Earlier there was some apprehension about my decision on the side of my folks but eventually all doubts were laid to rest as my work progressed. With their best wishes and blessings, I began working with him at KVM Research Laboratories and also got introduced to the concepts of Sanskrit language and Ayurveda.. I got introduced to the Gita and the Upanishads at Damleji's place and his home has been my university of learning. I am fortunate that I am no more in the fast paced race but then again, I think six years of my life have gone really fast.
I believe that the Upanishads hold a great potential in the spiritual emancipation of man because they teach man to recognize the underlying divinity that exists in all life forms on earth. This could very well unite the men of different religions eliminating conflict and uniting man through the principle of divine works and a divine life.
Learning as you say can happen in any city in the Universe, so how important do you feel is formal education as compared to self-driven learning?
Institutions of learning are no-doubt important but self-driven learning is most important. The best facilities and resources provided by the best amongst institutions cannot teach a student if the drive to learn is missing.
Your works contain the original Sanskrit rhymes translated into English in rhyme form. Why did you choose this format, without any personal analysis or explanation to the verses, as many other authors have done in the past?
The hymns in Sanskrit are very rhythmic and I felt that the best way to replicate the spirit of the ancient texts into English would be in rhymes. I figured out that even though I cannot replicate the sound of the Sanskrit verses, I could certainly try to render a rhythm in the English rendition. Yes, There are many translations and interpretations available already . I haven't given any analysis of the verses because I would like to see the first time readers ponder, appreciate and interpret the original texts in a way that suits them best. Besides I too am learning the Upanishads at the moment. I need to gather more experience before I give my commentary on these great gnostic texts.
In the introduction of 'Rhythm of the Kena Upanishad, you have mentioned that "The Upanishads are Vedanta, a book of knowledge in a higher degree even than the Vedas". How do you calibrate the degree of knowledge in the two sets of texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads? What makes you feel that the latter are of a higher degree than the former, are they not the same stream of knowledge just running through a course of evolution?
This is a quote of Sri Aurobindo - the great seer of India and is not mine. I personally feel that the cryptic knowledge of the Vedas was released by the Rishis of the Upanishads in a more profound manner and the Upanishadic texts emphasised on the concept of living in the Self truly in union with God and the world. While the Vedas were full of symbolism, the Upanishads were more explicit. I am not calibrating for comparison. Just like the human eye cannot say one star is brighter than the other, but can gauge the location and direction in the sky, I feel that a comparison of the wisdom of these two ancient texts cannot be made. I can merely claim that the Upanishads took on from where the Vedas left. In Sanskrit, Veda means knowledge, and anta means end. Where the Vedas ended, the Upanishads began. Probably this is why the Upanishads are called Vedanta.
Are you working on the other Upanishads also besides the Kena, Isha and the Mandukya and the Anand Upanishad?
At the moment I am working on Taittiriya Upanishad. This is quite bigger than the rest and I expect to complete it before January next.
You have also written the translation of The Bhagvad Gita into English rhymes. How did this most popular spiritual handbook impact you personally?
The Gita sets a very high standard of perfection and also provides the means to achieve it. My attempt to understand the Gita and rewrite it in rhymes brought about a number of significant changes in me. Firstly, I began to be more accountable and conscious of my words, thoughts and actions. Another noticeable change was that my own faults and shortcomings were getting highlighted. Initially it was not so nice but later on it felt alright because I got to know what qualities are to be cultivated and what are to be eliminated in life's course. Rewriting the Gita in rhymes was relatively easy, but implementing and following its every principle is something that is likely to take me a life's time.
In the Bhagvad Gita, Sri Krishna encourages Arjuna to fight and kill his own kin, and not remorse for the killing of his loved ones, whereby Jesus says, "Love thy enemy" how do you see these two messages in comparison with each other?
The quote that you have chosen from the 'Gospel of Mathew' brims with a beautiful and all-embracing compassion. However as my research on the gospel is not so extensive, I am not in a position to explain its context to the full. But what I can speak about with much confidence and certainty is the Gita.
Verse 13 of the 12th Chapter sounds starkly similar to 'Love thy enemy'. Krishna while teaching Arjuna the way of devotion, says a devotee must love all equally without any discrimination.
The verse goes:
Be devoid of envy and hold compassion and friendship
Experiencing towards all beings a loving kinship
Tolerant and poised in both comfort and hardship
And bereft of ego and its feeling of ownership.|13|
M.K.Gandhi who is a universal symbol of peace would not have found the mantra of ahimsa in the Gita if it was just a book of violence that instigated people to kill their own kin without remorse, as stated in the question. At least in three of the eighteen chapters of the Gita, Krishna speaks of the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence In the 16 th Chapter, Krishna describes non-violence as one of the Divine natures that must be cultivated in man. The apt way to reach an understanding any verse of the Gita in its true context would be by taking into consideration three factors: Desha or Place/location, Kaala- or Time/Era and Paristhiti or situation of utterance.
Arjuna the master warrior is overcome by emotion as he sees his loved ones on both sides of the battlefield. He is unable to decide on what is to be done and decides to flee the battlefield. It is in this context that Krishna who knows Arjuna's nature very well, predicts that even if Arjuna did flee, the loss of lives on his side would force him to participate in the war.
If one were to read the Mahabharata - the colossal one lakh verse long Sanskrit text of which seven hundred verses form the Gita, one would understand that Krishna also had left no stone unturned to prevent the war. What he taught was the law of Karma which postulates that one must never falter from taking a stand to perform the right action for the betterment of fellow beings. In Arjuna's position, time and situation the right thing was to participate in the battle even though his own cousins and revered teachers were standing armed in the opposing ranks.
It may be understood that the Gita is not a tool for dialectical warfare with other religions or philosophies but is rather a manual of life that speaks about the metaphysical principles of life, death, birth, re-birth, the kinetics of the soul, salvation and liberation. It is because of these gnostic principles that are so explicitly mentioned in this most ancient text, the Gita is also called Gitopanishad by learned scholars. Today, we even have the Krishna model of psychotherapy being adopted by modern psychologists to combat depression internationally. Many progressive countries are using the principles of Gita for management also. It is very interesting that throughout the 18 chapters, Krishna has given Arjuna only suggestions and no direct instructions because he ends with a question asking if Arjuna's delusion was destroyed and if what he had been preaching all along was satisfactory to his ears.
I would like to end with Verse 67 of the Gita from the Final Chapter that deals with liberation,
Speak not this truth to he who performs not penance
Or to he who lacks faith and dwells in ignorance
Also not to he who performs not any service
And to he who causes the indwelling-God disservice.|67|
One of Krishna's final suggestions to Arjuna about the Gita is that the Gita must not be preached to he who does not wish to know.
You are a great inspiration to others with all the publications you have carried out at such a young age and all this along with holding the portfolio of the CEO of KVM Research Laboratories. What has been your inspiration behind this work?
My writing and work at KVM Research Labs is possible because of the continuous guidance and help that I receive from from my teacher, Damleji. I think my attempt is not a new creation as I am merely rendering the already existing Sanskrit verses in rhymes. This attempt of mine is just a drop in the great ocean created by the Rishis- the sagacious scientists of ancient India. This heritage was denied to me during my earlier education and I had never really even heard of an Upanishad before. My fascination for the Upanishads grew when I learnt later on that a Mughal Emperor Dara Shikoh who had taken great pains in documenting the mystical affinities that existed between Hinduism and Islam got nearly 50 Upanishads translated into Persian in 1657 to be studied by Muslim Scholars. Unfortunately, today most of the Upanishadic texts have got lost and only a few are widely known. I hold a degree neither in literature nor in the Sanskrit language but I feel this treasure is too great to be forgotten.
The wisdom of the previous generation must be acquired by the current generation so that they may pass it on to the succeeding generations. This has been my motivation and inspiration.
We thank Sushrut. A. Badhe for his contribution in translating these texts in rhythmic tone and wish him success in his future endeavours.
His works are available for free on scribd and other online file sharing portals.
Interested persons can mail the author for a free ebook:
Author: Jyoti Prateek
About Song of the Being by Jyoti Prateek
Allegorical and Imaginative; at times the poems tend to take a mystical shape. The language is simple yet profound in meaning. The book expounds and illustrates the journey of a Being, where brief pauses in life provide insights. Poems are a good medium to simplify the thoughts and provide a natural rhythm to the flow of Being's experience through discovery of Love, that Inspires a Vision which finally paves the Path, as the Being moves along to maturity and realization of Self. This unique collection of Poems is bound to invoke thoughts and inspire the reader to explore own perspective towards life.