A question asked many times and answered many more times has again been asked by a columnist in a national English language newspaper in this season of remembering languages and words.
The only problem lies in treating words as a group of alphabets without a soul of their own whereas every word is a big idea encapsulated.
It is so with classical languages and Sanskrit in particular.
So, when you say Ram, the word carries with it a range of concepts, thoughts and ideas.
Same applies to the word Krishna.
In brief, Lord Vishnu had taken two Avatars, one as Ram and the other as Krishna, in two different epochs (Yug in Sanskrit).
The Ram avatar was to establish Maryada. Who establishes the maryadas other than the ruler? Shri Ram established those in Treta Yug. He was the Maryada Purushottam or the greatest among human beings.
He was asked a question by Bali, the king of Kishkinda: mein bairi Sugriv pyara, karan kaval nath mohi mara? Bali and Sugriv were brothers. Bali thrashed Sugriv, exiled him and took his wife as his own queen. Ram’s answer to the question was that whosoever commits the sin of usurping his younger brother’s wife deserves death penalty. Though Bali accepted it, regretted his evil deeds and peacefully died. Debates over time become common and dialogues turned into debates and debates into absurd arguments (sambaad>vibad>vitandbad).
Parliaments globally are witnessing it all. The debates started in Treta became mass debates by the time Dwapar took over from Treta. In the Dwapar Yug, vitand or argument for the sake of argument just to score a point over the opponent came to dominate.
A few questions raised in Treta turned into a flood of questions. That creates confusion for the people who do not know which one is correct and which is incorrect blurring the distinction between right and wrong.
Conflicts are bound to happen in such circumstances. Conflicts turn into wars easily, especially when logic surrenders to illogic or vitandbad. Small conflicts develop into big battles or Mahabharat.
The significance of the Mahabharat lies in answers to several important question of daily life, as were raised during Treta also, defining Maryada even in such conflict situations.
In the Gita (in the epic Mahabharat), the question-answer session between Shri Krishna and Arjun lays down the highest values of succour to the innocents, punishment to the guilty, every deed performed in accordance with established norms and values called Dharma.
All the questions that were raised in Treta or later in Dwapar or to be raised in future anywhere in the human society were addressed one by one and clear and cogent answers were given to each one of them. The fundamental question was about discrimination between individuals (mein bairi Sugriv pyara), right and wrong (Dharma i.e. duty or adharma i.e. contra-duty) and many more that any individual routinely finds himself or herself caught in.
These questions cover issues mundane in life to the highest levels of intelligence, knowledge and wisdom and beyond.
Since there are no uniform answers to individual problems, conflict resolution is an ongoing exercise in life. The Hindus call it “sanaatan”, meaning “ongoing”.
Life over generations is an ongoing process since there is too much to know and too little time in an individual’s existence.
Clearly the universe is older than the oldest culture or evidence of life of any kind on planet Earth. As a result, new problems are bound to crop up, demanding new answers or solutions.
Since Treta is over as is Dwapar, and conflicts are on the rise, Kalyug stepped in. It means slow but steady collapse of norms so far followed. As institutional structures collapse, values change, life becomes directionless, only individual interests prevail. As individual comes to prevail over society, Kalyug reaches the highest point in its ascendancy. It stays so long as individuals don’t abandon it and bid it farewell.
It ends with the beginning of the Satyug- the best age for a truly happy living!