Theme No. 9 – Sindhu Putra, Spiritual Leader of Bharat Varsha (5,000 BCE) – His Life and Times with an account of the day he was born and the day he was assassinated.
Selected extracts from Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, published by Penguin Books, India, ISBN 0-14- 024053 – 5
(Reference Pages 3–51; 291-301; 599- 615 , from Return of the Aryans)
Birth of Sindhu Putra:
Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans unfolds the drama and mystery of the origin of Sindhu Putra in Bharat Varsha. Here is a gist of the story in the book.
Bharat, the 19th Karkarta (the Supreme Elected Chief of the Sanatan Dharma clan), had retired at the age of 60 to become a hermit. He settled at a small island along the Sindhu River to pass his time in prayers and meditation. He was now known as Bharatjogi.
In the midst of his meditation, one morning, Bharatjogi heard the dogs barking. He paused in the midst of his meditation, opened his eyes and looked at the swollen river.
In the distance, he saw a small boat drifting aimlessly. Perhaps a boatman had not secured the boat properly and Sindhu River was claiming its prize, tossing it from side to side and playing with it as a child, with a new toy.
Glancing away from the boat which had moved closer, he went back to his prayer-mat to resume his meditation. His eyes were closed but his mind was not on his prayers. Two dogs and a bitch, who had adopted him after he had come to live on the island, disturbed his concentration with their barking.
Seated on his prayer-mat, Bharat shouted at the dogs to stop barking. He knew it was in vain. They had learned to obey all his commands except the command to stop barking. That, they were convinced, was their inalienable birthright, and no authority, human or divine, could deny them the freedom to bark. He smiled at his futile effort to silence them but understood why they were barking. Obviously, they had sensed the approach of the boat.
Suddenly, the fury of wind and rain subsided. Bharat became conscious of light creeping into his hut as the clouds began to lift. He strained to hear the sound of the dogs barking. He could not hear them.
But immediately, Sheena, the bitch, entered the hut, wet and dripping, looking miserable and bedraggled, and started urgently tugging at his feet. Had one of the dogs drowned? He wondered. No, he reassured himself; dogs don’t drown – not these dogs, anyway. Still, he followed Sheena out of the hut, and she escorted him to the river.
He quickened his pace when he saw a battered boat wedged lightly between the wooden poles which supported the pier. There was someone in the boat.
Bharat stepped into the boat, carefully, so that it would not sink under his weight.
A young woman lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the boat. She was naked, with an infant nestled against her right breast, and appeared to be dead. Bharat knelt by her side, felt her pulse and put his ear to her heart. There was no doubt. She was dead. Gently, he separated the infant from her breast. The infant, perhaps a few hours old, also appeared to be dead. It did not move or make a sound; and Bharat wondered sadly, while holding the limp infant in his arms, why it was given life if it had to be instantaneously snatched away.
Bharat had not seen Sheena entering the boat. Sheena began to lick the infant’s face. Bharat did not stop her. In each life, there should be at least one moment of love and he was pleased that Sheena was giving her love to the infant who had perhaps died loveless; or was Sheena trying to lick the last remains of mother’s milk which had dried on the infant’s face? Mournfully, he looked at the infant while Sheena continued to lick its face, but as Sheena’s tongue reached the infant’s lips Bharat was startled to see a tiny, imperceptible movement in the baby’s mouth; it was as if the infant had felt the nearness of his mother’s breast. All of a sudden, a new hope sprang in Bharat’s heart; perhaps the Angel of Death had paused to allow the child its last illusion of nourishment on earth, and maybe, if the child was taken out of the boat, the Angel would go away on errands elsewhere.
Bharat stood up, gathering the infant in his arms. He looked at the infant’s mother, with her face set in calm repose, as if no sorrow had ever touched her life; and as he saw her thin bony figure, he thought how frail her body was and how strong her spirit, that triumphantly, with her final breath, she had given perhaps her first and last breast-feed so that her offspring might survive.
Bharat left the boat, with the infant in his arms. I shall be back for you, he silently told the mother of the child; let me first take your son to the shelter of my hut.
He reached the hut at a speed he did not know he was capable of. Meanwhile, a strong wind began to blow and rain began to fall.
He set the child on the rug and gently rubbed its tiny body dry. He moistened his finger-tips with water and placed them on the child’s lips and again on its tongue. There was no movement. The child was either in a coma or lifeless but he kept hoping that it was alive.
After wrapping the child in a soft cotton shawl, Bharat looked gratefully at the huge drum in the corner of the hut. He picked up the drum-sticks, dragged the drum out of the hut, and began to beat the drum with all his strength, hoping that someone in the nearby village would hear, and come to assist him. After three or four beats, he tied a piece of cloth around his ears to muffle the awesome sound of the drum. Let it wake up the dead, he prayed, and renewed the drum-beats pausing from time to time, to rest his tired hands.
Finally, he stopped and went into the hut to look at the infant. There was no movement. The infant appeared as lifeless as before. The three dogs were lying around the infant in a close circle, and he could hear the sound of their deep breathing in spite of the din of the wind howling outside.
Bharat hoped that the villagers had heard the drum-beats and would heed his summons. They would take their time, he feared, and meanwhile he must go to release the mother of the child from the boat. She was entitled to a last prayer for her departed soul and a funeral pyre so that her body might mingle with the earth. He would say the last prayer for her himself and leave it to the village to cremate her body. He hurried to the pier.
The boat was no longer there. Had it sunk? Bharat looked around and then dived into the river. No, there was no wreckage anywhere.
He came out of the river, dried the wetness from his eyes with the palm of his hand and scanned the river again, as far as he could see. Nothing. He walked up and down, to get a better view of the river from mounds and vantage points. The boat had vanished. Where? He did not know, but he suspected that the gust of wind which had assailed him when he was taking the infant to the hut must have pried the boat loose from the wooden poles of the pier and set it adrift once more.
He looked at the river, beyond to the horizon, seeing nothing, his eyes moist with tears, his heart heavy. He closed his eyes to pray for her soul but his prayers, as always followed wayward paths and he ended with a plea for mercy and protection for the infant she had left behind.
He was about to return to the hut when he suddenly remembered that he had seen the petals of a wet, wilted, white flower – the kind that women wear in their hair – in the boat. Such fragrant flowers grew on his little island also. He went to the nearby plant, plucked the flowers and placed them in the river. As he saw them float gently in the river, he hoped that they would carry his prayer for the soul of the departed.
While returning to the hut, he heard the distant sound of hooves. His heart leapt with joy. Obviously, someone form the village was coming to help! He ran to the hut. He wanted to reach it as quickly as possible in order to prevent the dogs from going berserk with their barking. When he entered he saw with relief that the infant and the dogs were in the same position in which he had left them.
Outside, a horseman dismounted and entered the hut; Bharat recognized him immediately. He was Gatha, who had once belonged to Bharat’s household as a slave. Bharat’s wife had granted him his freedom in celebration when their second son was born. Even so, he had remained with Bharat’s family, not as a slave but as a helper, entitled to wages and his share of produce. A year before Bharat retired, Gatha had left to seek his fortune in new pastures.
Gatha bowed low and, with an air of concern, asked, ‘Is everything all right, Master?’
Bharat, despite his greater concern, was astonished to see Gatha. ‘You! Gatha!’ he exclaimed.
‘Yes, Master, I am the village headman.’ Gatha replied simply.
Bharat smiled. He saw the invisible hand of his wife at work. She certainly would contrive to keep a family retainer in the village next to him. Gatha asked again, ‘Are you well, Master?’
Gatha had not seen the infant who was hidden from view by the dogs. He had not even noticed the dogs. His eyes, full of anxiety, were fixed on Bharat alone. Bharat, overcome by the physical exertions of the day, could hardly speak. He pointed to the infant.
Gatha went nearer and the dogs, with surprising quietness, made way for him. What he saw startled him. Was it a child? Or, was it a doll? He touched it and stared at Bharat questioningly.
Bharat nodded his head as if that were answer enough to Gatha’s unasked question, and softly said, ‘I think this infant may be alive. Can anyone in your village nurse him to life?’
Gatha picked up the infant gently.
Outside, other horsemen were dismounting. Gatha went out of the hut with the infant in his arms, followed by Bharat and the three dogs. The horsemen had come prepared with food, bandages, medicinal herbs, and antidote for snake-bite and a stretcher which might be needed if Bharat was ill or wounded. In fact, under Mataji’s (Bharat’s wife) instructions, most of these items were always kept in readiness by Gatha, to meet any sudden summons form Bharatjogi.
Gatha spoke to his men. They took charge of the infant and left. Gatha alone remained with Bharat. To reassure Bharatjogi, whom he loved and respected, that the infant would receive all possible care, Gatha said haltingly, ‘There are women with newborn babes in the village, Master. They will nurse the infant and, if not, there are other villages. I have friends there and their headmen respect me.’
Bharat felt relieved and put his hand on Gatha’s shoulder. Gatha, touched by this affectionate gesture, continued, ‘Vaidji (doctor) is on his way here. My men will catch him on the way and he will attend to the child. By the time I return, my men will have all the information on possible wet-nurses.’
Bharat thanked him and added, ‘Please spare no expense. God, in his divine wisdom, has separated the infant from his mother and placed it in our charge. We must see to it that anyone who cares for the infant is amply rewarded. Take my word for it; when my boat arrives, I shall send a message to my family and they will definitely respond generously for the care of the infant.’
Gatha heard him with surprise. ‘But, Master how can you worry about that? Surely you know that Mataji has placed large funds at my disposal for anything you desire.’
No, Bharat did not know that; he had not even known that his wife had arranged for Gatha to be in the village next to him. He said nothing, but thought that his wife had broken yet another commandment by earmarking funds for the benefit of a hermit. Bharat knew that, to his wife, every commandment was sacred and had to be obeyed. But if such a custom stood in the way of the safety or happiness of her loved ones, she had no use for it. He had protested when he realized the arrangements she was making to ensure a comfortable retirement for him. ‘This is not what a hermit must do!’ he had protested. ‘But this is what a wife must,’ she had retorted. Later to his further protests, she had said: ‘Let them come with their laws and rules and their customs and commands to bind me fast but I shall evade them forever – for I am bound to you and not to their sightless laws.’ He had continued to protest but the fact was that he had learned to live with – and love and relish – the luxuries and comforts that she constantly arranged for him on this lonely island. Strange that throughout his tenure of thirty-five years as Karkarta, he had scrupulously adhered to every law, custom and commandment of the ancients – sometimes questioning, often grumbling, but never deviating. Now, however, in the sunset of his life, he had learnt to disregard all the austerities imposed on hermits. But then, he had always been kind to hermits when he was Karkarta. Why not be kind to himself now! Silently, he thanked his wife for keeping Gatha nearby to help.
Gatha’s horsemen had disappeared from view behind the trees. Gatha remained to ask the question which had mystified him. ‘Master, where did the infant come from?’
Bharat looked at the river, wearily, and pointed at it.
Gatha also looked in the direction of the river, and then intently at Bharatjogi. A tremor passed through him, as he recalled Bharatjogi’s recent words – ‘God, in his divine wisdom, has separated the infant from his mother and placed it in our charge.’ Overwhelmed by the thoughts rushing, to his mind, he asked, ‘The infant – he comes from the Sindhu River?’
Bharat merely nodded. Gatha remained astonished and did not know what more to ask. A hundred questions raced through his mind. Finally, one question emerged. ‘That little infant . . . . you mean Master, the little one is . . . . is Sindhu Putra? Son of Sindhu River?’
Bharat’s eyes met Gatha’s and he wanted to explain but could not; he simply nodded; physical weakness had gripped Bharat; the exertions and tensions of the day had been too much for him; in any case, he was always a man of few words except when he was talking to himself. He saw that Gatha was still staring at him. He nodded again.
Gatha was not a man of immense curiosity. But he certainly was a man of great faith. Dimly, somewhere in his consciousness, he began to realize that he was a witness to the fulfillment of a prophecy of the past – that the son of Mother Goddess Sindhu would come to walk the earth. Still, he wanted to be sure, and in this instance he knew he would have to send a detailed message to Bharat’s wife. She had to know everything. But then it was also disrespectful to ask the same question again. He thought for a moment and inspiration came to him. He asked, ‘Master, by what name should the infant be known?’
‘You gave him the name yourself Gatha,’ was Bharat’s response.
‘What name?’ Gatha wondered aloud – and then asked in a hushed tone, ‘Sindhu Putra?’
Bharat nodded. Gatha had another question. ‘Of what family shall I say the infant is?’
Bharat recognized the practical aspect of the question. It would be important for the nursing mother to know whose child she was suckling. But it would be far more important if the child died; it would then become necessary to know the family name for the last prayers to be said for its departed soul.
‘Say that he is of my family,’ Bharat responded.
Rajavansi?’ Gatha asked. Rajavansi was the name of Bharat’s ancestral family.
Bharat thought for a while again. No, he no longer had the authority to confer the name of the family from which he had retired as a hermit on anyone. At last, he said, ‘No, Gatha. Not Rajavansi. My family.’
‘Yes, my family. Bharatvansi.’
There was no such family, Gatha knew, for old slaves and servants know a great deal more than their lords and masters will ever know about such matters. Gatha also knew that if his old master hesitated to adopt the infant into his ancestral family, he also lacked the right, as a hermit, to start a family of his own. But Bharat was his master and he was not going to question him.
No, Gatha had no more questions though his mind was in a whirl. Respectfully, he looked at the pale, tired face of his old master and said, ‘I shall do all I can, Master. You can rely on me.’ Bharat was sure he could. He thanked him with his eyes and gratefully put his hand again on Gatha’s shoulder. ‘God will bless you for looking after this infant whom He gives to our care.’
Bharat watched Gatha mount his horse and waited until he disappeared from view. Wearily, he went into the hut.
Bharat was still at his rambling prayers the next morning when Gatha arrived. Gatha was beaming with pleasure and cried out, ‘Sindhu Putra is crying! He is crying!!’ Bharat nodded, happy to interrupt his prayers, and Gatha continued, lest he be misunderstood, ‘and they say that an infant that cries so lustily will have a long life.’
Bharat was happy and asked, ‘Crying all the time, is he?’
But Gatha said, ‘No, no, most of the time he is glued to the breasts of Sonama. She lost her twins in childbirth and is grateful to have Sindhu Putra at her breasts.’ Gatha saw his old master smiling with pleasure and continued, ‘Sonama says he is hungry all the time, as a healthy infant should be; and she says he is greedy enough for two infants, which is as it should be, because she lost her twins.’
‘Poor Sonama,’ Bharat said. He did not know her, but he grieved over her sorrow at the loss of her twins in childbirth.
‘Poor Sonama!’ Gatha almost snorted; he could not permit anything to mar his old master’s moment of happiness. ‘Sonama is radiant with joy. She has found total solace in Sindhu Putra. She is the happiest mother today.’
Bharat believed him; he knew that only those who have endured real sorrow can truly experience happiness. He nodded.
But Gatha had not yet finished and continued, ‘Vaidji is confident that Sindhu Putra shall live – and so is everyone else.’
Twice, during the next twenty-four hours, Gatha came to Bharat’s hut. Bharat had assured him that he was a light sleeper, which was true. Sleep he regarded as the luxury of youth and snatched at every excuse to keep himself awake. The time to sleep would come soon enough.
Gatha came only to tell him that the infant was doing well. Yet how full was his heart when he made that simple announcement! He could see Bharatjogi’s smile of happiness. He knew also of the excitement among the villagers over the astounding news that Mother Sindhu had sent her child – Sindhu Putra – to be brought up in their village and Gatha, their own headman, had been given the high honour of serving as the guardian of Sindhu Putra!
Their cup of happiness was overflowing.
Gatha himself just wanted to believe what his villagers did. After all, how could an infant barely an hour old, arrive at Bharatjogi’s hut on his own! Surely, Goddess Sindhu must have brought him there.
Gatha’s mind was untroubled, and his faith was strong, and if ever a doubt crossed his mind, he told himself that demons were always seeking to enter into the souls of the virtuous to implant evil suspicions. He had wrestled often with such demons in the past, and had always come away unruffled. And in any case, how could he be wrong if he believed what all the others in his village believed! He thoroughly enjoyed his new status amongst the people he served as the custodian of the infant, and if they heard in his voice a new tone of authority, or saw in his expression an air of grave concern, they considered it only fitting in a man whom the gods had chosen for such high responsibility.
Gatha kept Bharatjogi informed about the infant. His frequent visits to Bharat’s hut did not trouble him although he knew that a hermit was not supposed to be approached nor his repose disturbed, except in cases of serious sickness or at times of momentous importance. But could there be a matter of greater importance than the emergence of Sindhu Putra?
A joint announcement was made by Vaidji and Mahantji (village astrologer) that if Sindhu Putra lived for twenty-four hours, it would mean that he had decided to live in their village; otherwise he would leave his body here and take birth elsewhere.
No one in the village slept. With bated breath, they waited for the twenty-fourth hour to begin and end.
At the end of the twenty-fourth hour a cheer went up which rent the sky. Sindhu Putra was brought out in the arms of Sonama with Gatha by her side, and Vaidji and Mahantji following closely behind. He was still crying lustily and Sonama put him to her breast in full view of everyone. They were all struck silent as if this was the most wondrous sight they had ever witnessed. Many applauded and then they all bowed in respect. They would not yet go to sleep for the celebrations would begin, now that Sindhu Putra had decided to make their village his home.
Thus did Sindhu Putra pass his first twenty-four hours on this earth.
(Note: The story of infant Sindhu Putra being found in the boat, his adoption by Bharat and his early upbringing, appears in the very first two chapters of Bhagwan S. Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans, and continues, thereafter, in several chapters).
5065 to 5015 BCE
Life and Times of Sindhu Putra:
Sindhu Putra’s legacy continues till today in the sense that it was he who was the first to devise and utter the auspicious ‘OM’ Mantra. See Link below.
Link to Chapter 1 – OM OM OM! THE FIRST WORD OF GOD?
Also, Sindhu Putra devised the salutation of NAMASTE, (to highlight “TAT TVAM ASI” – THAT THOU ART – or to acknowledge that “there is God in you, and to Him and to you we salute”).
Similarly, the auspicious ‘SWASTIKA’ seal and symbol was originated with his inspiration, guidance and approval.
Sindhu Putra came to be known as MAHAKARTA in Sindhu region, MAHAPATI in the GANGA region and PERIYAR in Dravidian regions – to acknowledge his spiritual standing and status as a Ruler of Rulers. Everywhere else too, in the subcontinent, Sindhu Putra was honored, with highest titles and respectful submission to indicate his special spiritual status. The name, Sindhu Putra, which means literally, Son of Sindhu River was given to him by Bharat simply to indicate that he came to him as a gift from the River but many attributed a divine miracle associated with the infant and some recalled an ancient prophecy that River Sindhu would bring forth her son for spiritual solace to the land and its people. Bharat who had adopted the infant as his son, would later inspire and educate him to become a powerful force for the unity of the people of the subcontinent on the basis of equality, justice, mutual goodwill and humane conduct.
Later, as Return of the Aryans shows, many would be misled into thinking that Sindhu Putra was regarded as a god. But the fact is that Sindhu Putra was simply a spiritual leader and by no stretch did he claim or consider himself to be a god. He himself quoted Sage Yadodhra, who had said:
“Only a trickster or a lunatic would like to be known as a god while he lives. For a sane or honest man, the burden of godhood would be impossible to bear. . .”
When someone wanted to keep Sindhu Putra’s statue in a temple, he regarded that as a sacrilege. He refused to permit it , and speaking for himself, he said:
Not even at the foot of gods, for god I am not,
Nor among noble worshippers, for that I am not,
The road I travel is the one I have sought,
Another life to atone, has to be my lot. . .”
Yet there is no doubt that Sindhu Putra enjoyed enormous respect in Bharat Varsha and even far beyond its frontiers– not so much as a god but as a great spiritual leader and a unifier. Also, it was in loving memory and inspiration of Sindhu Putra, that the vast number of people from Bharat Varsha left their land to move in various contingents as Aryans to various far-away regions in West Asia, Europe and elsewhere including Russian lands and Scythia, Lithuania, Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Greece and Germany. (‘Return of the Aryans’, in different chapters, recaptures the drama of heroic exploits of Aryans of Bharat Varsha, their adventures , battles and bloodshed in those lands).
Political and Spiritual Status of Sindhu Putra – his philosophy: Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans gives several highlights of Sindhu Putra as a social reformer and a leader who sought to bring unity among people, abolish slavery and to encourage tribal lands to join Bharat Varsha on the basis of mutual respect and goodwill. As Return of the Aryans will show, Bharatjogi, his adopted father, had seen to Sindhu Putra’s education through successive stages and had inspired in him the dream of unity based on universal justice, human rights and rule of law and as the result, Sindhu Putra became a firm and unwavering believer in the principles of Sanatan Dharma and amongst them, he fully associated himself in : recognition of individual human rights and dignity as also the spiritual nature of man wherever he is from; acceptance of every culture as an expression of eternal values; and man’s obligation to respect and protect environment, and all creatures, tame and wild.
In the social and political fields, Sindhu Putra’s success was remarkable. The following narration gives a few highlights of his spiritual status in Bharat Varsha.
In the Sindhu Region, there was utmost belief in Sindhu Putra’s spiritual status and rarely, if ever, was there a question to probe into his spiritual philosophy The people, there, were keen, just to be around him, to be blessed by him and his utterances on human rights, dignity and equality were treated as spiritually inspired. But in other regions such as Ganga or Dravidian lands, many sought to question him. During his visit to the Ganga Region, more than the magnificence of the art and architecture there, for Sindhu Putra it was the Ganga River itself that held the greatest fascination. In the murmur of her waters, he could hear the voices of ages long gone by, as though he had been there, once before, centuries ago. He found peace and solace there – even though whirling in his mind were questions that many asked, to which he had inadequate answers. And those questions came, one after another. Gangapati XIII – the Ruler of the Ganga Region, had no questions and was always respectfully polite to Sindhu Putra. But there were others who crowded round him, some to learn, but many more who simply wanted to find flaws in order to feel superior themselves.
Sindhu Putra’s mistake lay, perhaps, in trying to answer their questions. He should have realized that the sages and rishis of Ganga – the great thinkers and philosophers – who sat in silence in the forests and along the riverbank had no questions to ask.
Sometimes the questions he was asked were foolish and absurd. But in his humbleness of spirit, he would reply. Yet anyone could find flaws in his replies.
How did he know of the existence of God? He was asked. His reply simply was : I feel it in my soul. When I see the multitude of trees clinging to Ganga and the stars in the sky, how can I doubt that God exists! Then there were many questions :
What is man’s duty? His answer: Conduct that is pure and includes a striving for unity, justice, harmony and freedom. He who seeks salvation shall not permit another to be held a slave.
Will a man who acts towards these goals achieve bliss? Answer: Maybe not; but his purpose is not to seek bliss – only to assume the sorrows of others to free them from grief.
But what about those that only pray and meditate? Answer: Truly, they honour God and God honours them But maybe they do not do God’s work. They are born in life but they do not participate in it.
What about those who do not believe in God? Answer: God is always with us, even if we are not always with Him. He will judge the believers and unbelievers alike – by their intent and conduct. Non-belief in God may itself be the starting point of a relentless search for truth.
Then you see no difference between believers and non-believers? Answer: Believers and non-believers – they all spring from a fragment of god’s splendour; and it is possible for a man to be deeply spiritual without believing in God, just as it is possible for a believer to commit ungodly acts.
Can you describe God? Answer: Only in my heart, in silence, where there is no utterance and the definition is unknown.
Why do people die? Answer: Because they are born. Death is their birthright. For some, it is the end of a journey into the bliss of MOKSHA (salvation). For others, it is the start of another. Each generation must die so that the next generation is born.
Like us you speak of KARMA that leads to rebirth or Mukta (Moksha; salvation). But what about a totally evil man who through all his successive births commits only evil and never obtains salvation? Answer: That would be God’s failure – and God does not fail.
Why will someone who is totally evil, journey towards salvation ever? Answer: Because his soul is pure. Like the journey of the Ganga River, finally, to the sea, the soul knows of its ultimate pilgrimage to salvation.
Yet, the Ganga waters go to fields, they quench the thirst of animals and people, and some even evaporate in the sun. So how do you say all of it reaches the sea? Answer: Water turns into water; that which evaporates becomes vapor and comes back as rain; that which is consumed in the fields or by people and animals returns as water to find its way into rivers and the sea.
God created the universe? Answer: Yes, but before Him was She – the Mother.
Many felt that the answers he gave had no depth. And to many more questions, his answer simply was, ‘I don’t know.’ In Gatha’s village, and even throughout the Sindhu Region, people simply adored him without questions or reservations sought his blessings. Here, they were trying to test, even to trap him.
There was no poetry in his words, no fine phrases, no eloquence, no flourishes. His replies were slow, halting, diffident, as though he himself was searching for the answers. Often, he would quote Yadodhra to prove the point that water returns constantly as water wherever it goes, never losing a drop anywhere. Sometimes, he would quote Muni, Roopa, Bharatjogi. Are they gods? They asked. and he would answer, “No, they were my teachers”. Teachers! Then some would say, he was not divinely inspired!
The fact also is that he never gave one, single conclusive answer. Sometimes he groped and often contradicted himself. Yes Ganga River is a place of pilgrimage. But so is Sindhu; so is every river, sea and all God’s good earth; every place of work; even a cow-pen. A temple? It does not have to be erected, he would say; no, you don’t need a sacred fire; your prayers shall rise as flames.
Again, where he fell short was in expressing the ultimate reality of God. It had to be infinite, eternal, imperishable and unchanging. But then – he pleaded – how could something infinite, eternal, imperishable and unchanging be understood or comprehended by their finite and limited minds which were restricted by time and space? A finite man could not understand how the mind of a finite fish worked; how could he be able to grasp the mind of the Infinite? What a foolish example! thought many. Again, was God unchanging? If He was the first seed, was it not possible that like a seed it transformed itself into a tree? If the progress of humanity was continuously in motion, why should it not be assumed that God too progressed in the same fashion! Was humanity not in His image? Did our duties not change – there was no slavery a thousand years ago! If a man must move to meet a new challenge, why must it be assumed that God remained unchanging?
These questions from so many troubled him sometimes; his mind went further into thought. He even thought of the giant birds and animals that he learnt had vanished from the face of the earth – of the 250 foot long makara (predecessor of the crocodile) whose fossils were found by the people of Sindhu; of the garuda bird, who reached the combined height of twenty tall men, whose fossils he himself had seen; of the Jatayu bird, larger than a cloud, whose flight caused a shadow to fall from one end of the village to the other, and who was known to lay an egg each spring, but was now shriveled in size and laid a single egg throughout its life-span of 150 years; of the Doli fish which carried camels, elephants and other animals from one shore to another in flood and drought or simply for pleasure; of the Hinmana ape-bird, which flew from one mountain top to another, to throw down herbs and plants for sick animals and fish; and of the biggest of them all, the mighty Dandarah (maybe, a dinosaur), who would with one flick of his abrasive tongue gather in his mouth weeds, thorns and underbrush for a tenth of a yojna (half a mile) uprooting everything but leaving trees untouched, and spitting out insects and birds, unharmed.
Maybe, he thought, what these mammoth creatures were supposed to do was all a myth. But there was no doubt in his mind that they really and truly had existed. He had seen their fossils and bones. Painstakingly, they had been searched, re-searched, assembled and reassembled by the people long ago and even in his own time. Bharatjogi had spoken about them; and Sage Yadodhra had even shown him some of the fossils, carefully preserved. Their size, dimensions and possibly even approximate weight were no longer simply guesswork. Many had wondered though, why it was that their ancients, so busy with their paintings and carvings in caves, left not a single drawing, nor a single clue, of what those creatures looked like or what exactly they did. But to that, Sindhu Putra knew the answer – man, howsoever ancient, came long after these giant birds and animals were gone. But why did they disappear? To make place for man? But if they went, would not man also abide his hour or two in this vast scheme of eternity and disappear? Even the earth itself, which began long after the beginning of the universe, would it not also disappear? And the universe! But why? Surely God must have a purpose. Or – a chilling thought came to him – is God simply experimenting? Does He not know who will fulfill His purpose on earth? Or, is it that God simply created the first seed of life and it was the will of creation itself that created, destroyed and re-created further creation?
And he wondered aloud, ‘Is God then a symbol, like other idols, to help conceive the ultimate truth?’ But he had no answers to his own questions. All he believed – but it was faith that guided him here – was that God had a purpose and meanwhile everything moved, everything changed and everything passed – and perhaps man and earth too would pass.
In his confusion at the various questions flung at him, Sindhu Putra even reached a stage when he could neither affirm nor deny – and much less try to prove the existence of God or soul. He even said that it was unnecessary to ponder over the existence of God and in what ‘formless form’ He is, was, or should be. He spoke of only one certainty in his mind – that it was man’s duty to live without sin and through good conduct, to achieve unity, harmony, love, and freedom and justice for all.
Some sneeringly asked, ‘Why do you not begin a new faith away from us in Sanatan Dharma and away from your ancestors to spread these new ideas?’ But his reply was : “I know not who my ancestors were. But I pass the same ancient path that my teachers followed. Whatever I know, I have learnt on this path. And the path renews itself with fresh flowers of new knowledge and higher thought. What will I achieve elsewhere?’ He added, ‘A good person is good Sanatani (follower of Sanatan Dharma), and a sinless tribal is also a good Sanatani. Is there a difference?’
Sometimes priests, learned men and even Gangapati’s courtiers who questioned Sindhu Putra carried an echo of his insufficient answers and self-doubts to the Rishis and sages in the forests. They heard it all silently; their own faith did not wither; yet some said, ‘A god he may or may not be, but perhaps, he may come to achieve the goodness of a god.’
But not many took these Rishis and sages seriously. These forest-hermits, they knew, were always generous, even to the mosquitoes that drank their blood or the wasps that stung them.
The fact however remains that as the reports about self-doubts and uncertainties in Sindhu Putra’s mind grew, the truly learned, the Rishis and sages began to have respect for him – for those self-doubts and uncertainties were at the core of their own hearts.
But then man is fickle. As detailed in Return of the Aryans, so many chance events took place, bringing good fortune to Ganga Region, during the stay of Sindhu Putra there, that his fame spread as the one who had achieved these worthwhile results through his spiritual powers; and those that scoffed before, clustered round Sindhu Putra to worship and seek his blessings. Gangapatni (wife of the Ruler of Ganga region) who had remained childless for so many years and was considered incurably barren, delivered a healthy baby-boy, bowed before Sindhu Putra and Gangapati himself conferred the title of Mahapati to Sindhu Putra to indicate his higher spiritual status.
Sindhu Putra himself remained untouched, for he did not seem to know that many of them had ridiculed him earlier and were now praising him.– and again a poet cries out, ‘How little gods know! And how much more is known to man!’
Assassination of Sindu Putra:
A scream of anguish rose from the Rocks. Sindhu Putra was dead.
Throughout the land, there was a cry of despair, a prayer for mercy, a sorrowing silence – and each mourned in his own way.
How did that terrible, fateful moment arrive?
It appeared as a day not too different from any other. Sindhu Putra was awake well before dawn and, after a bath, sat for his prayers; as usual. Girls entered, with soft footsteps, bringing large fruit-baskets. He took a little fruit and the baskets went back for distribution among the devotees.
Two girls remained. They chanted, one after another, his favourite hymns. Then one of them began a song he had not heard before –
‘Swifter than sound, faster than light, quicker than thought
It came – and came with a motion as if it moved not
Yet it moved all that kept far, asunder, apart
And they sang – we all have the same one heart!’
The song went on; the second girl joined in, not with words but a soft, delicate tune that seemed to dance around the melody; but she joined in with the words which appeared over and over again as a recurring refrain in the song – ‘We all have the same one heart!’
The voices were captivating. Sindhu Putra liked the thought, particularly when the song went on to say that every heart whichever creature it belong to, be they fixed of moving, and of all those that walk, swim, fly or glow, in this multiform creation, in near, remote, open and secret regions – is the same one heart and it is the very heart of the Lord of Creation to whom all pathways lead.
Yet the words of the song were a little laboured and it lacked the flow and imagery of the once-blind singer from whom Sindhu Putra thought, she had learnt the song and he asked ‘When did he sing that song?’
She blushed, stammered, ‘I . . . . . I composed this song . . . You did not like it?’
He put his arm around her, ‘Like it! I love it. Sing this song for everyone at the prayer session today.’
‘Will you be there?’ she hopefully asked.
‘Nothing shall keep me back from hearing your song again.’
Sindhu Putra never had a precise schedule. Sometimes, he would walk into the evening prayer-session in which the Rock-residents and devotees participated. At other times, he would simply stroll in the Rock garden or rest under a Papal tree or move amid throngs of visitors. But there would be days when he would not appear, except to bless them from the balcony. He had no fixed days on which he would fast; nor did he plan ahead when he would visit outside the Rocks – ‘As the spirit moved him, so did he move.’
How different he was from the silent Chief who served as his secretary, constant companion, friend and confidant. The silent Chief was always precise and punctual in all things – well – in all except his time to sleep. Sometimes, the Chief would be up all night, ‘talking’ to returning emissaries, discussing things with teams, planning, thinking.
Another companion of Sindhu Putra, called the explorer, would laugh at the silent Chief and say, ‘Perhaps for your dark thoughts you need darkness.’ But irrespective of the time he slept, the Chief would wake up at the same time, earlier than Sindhu Putra.
That is why it was surprising that the Chief did not arrive that evening. He always left on time and arrived on time; and he had left the Rocks only for four days for a nearby visit – and had even arranged two meetings at the Rocks for that evening itself.
Sindhu Putra had decided to drag the Chief to the prayer session, to hear the song which the girls sang for him in the morning. He waited, asked the others, but the Chief had not arrived.
Sindhu Putra reached the prayer meeting late. But since everyone knew that he was to join, they waited. He reproached them, ‘How can you delay prayers!’
Hymns began; then the song he had heard in the morning. It sounded different, more captivating – but that was not surprising for now it was accompanied by musical instruments and even a chorus of children, who soulfully sang out the oft-repeated refrain – ‘We all have the same one heart.’
The session over, he walked on the lush grassy path, through the swarming people towards the Rock edge. Everywhere, people lined up saying ‘Namaste,’ as they let him pass. Some even stood, with children, at the Rock edge where it was slippery. A man in front obligingly took in his arms an infant of someone behind him to bring it closer to receive Sindhu Putra’s blessing.
Sindhu Putra passed on. It was, as always, a slow, silent walk; normally, there were only three women behind him with the 108-bead rosary; but this time he had also asked the two singing sisters to join him. From time to time, he responded silently to people’s Namaste,’
Suddenly, when Sindhu Putra was barely three steps away, the man holding another’s infant, gently dropped the child in Sindhu Putra’s way. The girl behind Sindhu Putra murmured at his carelessness. ‘Brother, what have you done!’
Sindhu Putra said nothing but stooped to pick up the baby. The man said, ‘Forgive me,’ and he too stooped as if to pick up the infant. But his right hand holding a sharp dagger shot out to tear into Sindhu Putra’s chest.
Sindhu Putra gasped ‘Om!’ as he sank to the ground, lifeless, his hands frozen in the gesture of picking up the infant; somehow the hands moved closer to each other. Perhaps he intended his last gesture to be Namaste,’. Instead, the hands pointed to the sky, as though with a question or a complaint to someone above.
The infant, blood-soaked, slept.
No one moved, except the killer. All eyes were riveted on Sindhu Putra. The killer dived from the high rock into the river below. No one halted him. He was seen from the boats lined up on the river. But they knew nothing as yet of what had happened. Some even saw him swim and enter a boat, which had three occupants. They were possibly waiting for him. Fast and furious, the boat rushed to the opposite bank – not to the village but towards the tall grasslands. Just before it reached the bank, it started floundering in all directions, with the current. Later, the boat was found. In it lay the killer’s body, but with the face bashed and battered into a pulp so as to make him unrecognizable. Apparently, the three men, having done their deed, abandoned the boat near the opposite bank and swam away to ride away on their horses hidden in the grassland. This conjecture might have been difficult except for the fact that at a distance from the boat, in a narrow pass beyond the grassland lay three bodies of men and three bodies of horses riddled with arrows. But again the faces of the men were battered beyond recognition. Apparently, Sindhu Putra’s assassin was killed by the three men waiting in the boat and those three were waylaid by others and butchered.
Whoever was behind it all, apparently did not want the killer, nor the three men waiting for him in the river, to be found alive for questioning, or even recognized when dead, lest the trail leads to . . . . .
The silent Chief and his four companions were found dead. Among them was the explorer.
Elsewhere, at spots far and near, many members of the teams sent out by the silent Chief had died. Who killed them and why? And who commanded the killing? No one knew, then.
Flames from the cremation pyre rose and fell as the fire consumed Sindhu Putra’s body.
At the sight of the smoke curling up from the pyre, a mournful cry rose; it subsided as they heard the old, once-blind singer’s chant. Was he chanting a prayer? No. His tearful eyes seemed to focus not on the present but far back, into the past. He was thinking of the time when he had hastily been summoned to the Island of Silence where Bharatjogi kept denying that the three-year-old child was a miracle of God and had said, ‘Gods do not come to walk on earth among men.’
The singer was smiling now, his thoughts locked in that argument with Bharatjogi – and suddenly, he raised his hand to point beyond the river, to the far horizon, as though he saw Bharatjogi there – and he cried, ‘Yes Bharat, yes!’ and then, thinking of Sindhu Putra, he began his chant:
He was the one when rock and tree was one
When air, earth, river, sea was one
When all below, up, above, high was one
When stars, moon, sun, sky was one.
The chant went on, obscurely, to speak of the one who rose from the ‘blackness of black nights, when nights and days were not; and light and dark were not;’ and of Him who sprang from ‘nothingness when nothingness and existence were not,’ and He it was who sent his glorious radiance, here on earth, ‘in the darkest of dark nights that was.’
No one understood him; no one realized that at this moment of overwhelming grief, his mind had wandered into an age-old argument with Bharatjogi who had vehemently denied that Sindhu Putra was a god. Kanta watched as Sindhu Putra’s ashes were immersed from the Rocks into Sindhu. She put her face against the trees. She saw the marks of her tears on the tree-trunks. But quickly the trees absorbed them and the marks vanished. Maybe, the trees spoke to her or maybe her heart spoke and she cried out, ‘Yes, this is where it ends – but only to begin anew.’ Soulfully, dry-eyed now, she spoke, ‘He shall come again,’ and softly began to hum the song of the Muni of the Rocks– ‘He comes, He comes, ever He comes . . . .’
Some joined her song. But many wept and their tears did not stop.