Machines and Mirrors in Bhagavad Gita (Post No.9476)


Post No. 9476

Date uploaded in London – –10  APRIL  2021     

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Newspaper cutting dated 11-1-1982


In his book ‘The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy’, Max Muller has translated the conversation between Svetaketu and his father Aruni, extracted from the first Khanda of Chadogya Upanishad as follows:–

Father to Svetaketu–

Svetaketu! as you are conceited, considering yourself well read and stubborn, my dear son, have you ever asked for that instruction by which we hear what is not heard, by which we perceive what is not perceived, by which we know what is not known?

What is that instruction, Sire? He asked.

The father replied

My dear son, as by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the difference being only the name, arising from speech, the truth being that all is clay.

And as , my dear son, by one nugget of gold, all that is made of gold is known, the difference being only the name , arising from speech, the truth being that all is gold.

And as my dear son, by one pair of nail scissors, all that is made of steel (Karshana ayasam) is known, the difference being only the same, arising from speech, the truth being all that is steel— thus my dear son, is that instruction.

This Upanishad is said to belong to Sama Veda . All the Vedic Upanishads are supposed to be prior to the age of the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. If what is interpreted by Max Muller is correct, we have to believe that all the metals, especially gold and steel were widely in use at that time. Of course, Ramayana and Mahabharata do mention the use of mechanical devices prevalent at those times.

In Bhagavad Gita 61st sloka of chapter 18, Sri Krishna , says as follows

The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, and by his Maya causes all beings to revolve as though mounted on a machine (18-61).  The concept of a revolving machine to be mounted upon should lead us to believe that mechanics at that time was much advanced.

Similarly Gita also mentioned mirror and the effect of rust on it- Karma yoga 3- 38;. The 2-67th sloka of Sankhya yoga also compares the roving senses to be carried away as the ‘wind carrying a ship on water’.

It is generally said that the industrial revolution has dawned upon when man discovered the wheel to start with. If that be the case the references about mechanics in the Vedic period are a pointer to the factor that our history and culture developed in the long course of time along with development in mechanics and other discoveries, including sophisticated clothing like silks.

We come across reference to Padukas and also umbrellas in different places and in varying contexts in the epics. Paduka gained that much of importance when Bharata ruled the country with Sri Ram’s Padukas, treating them as symbolic representation of Rama. Umbrellas appear as royal status symbol in almost all places. But there appears to be no reference to anywhere about spectacles . Does it mean that eye sight those days needed no assistance or help even after advanced old age? Or is it a later necessity which has become unavoidable for the present age when we are born and brought up in artificial bright lights?

R G Prabhu, Kodungallur, 11-1-1982


tags– wheel, mirror, metals, machines 

What can a Parrot Teach You?

parrot 1

Research Article No. 2053

Written by London swaminathan

Date : 8  August  2015

Time uploaded in London :– 16.27


There is a proverb in Sanskrit, “Bandanamaayaanti sukaah, yatheshta sanchaarinah Kaakaah”.

“The crows are flying freely, the parrots are caged”.

There is an equivalent proverb in Tamil, “It is the fruit laden tree that gets most hits (by stones).

The message is “if you have anything in excess, you are abused. In the olden days the talented poets were “slaves” of the kings. Very often there were conflicts between the kings and the scholars and they left the country in anger. We have plenty of stories in our literature.

parrot 3

Women are compared to parrots because of their beauty and sweet voice. A most beautiful woman was also a security risk. Alauddin Khilji wanted to take Chittoor Rani Padmini, the most beautiful Rajput princess, but she entered fire with her retinue before she was molested by the Muslim invaders.

Parrots were caged because of their ability of mimicry and its beauty.

Even brides are compared to parrots. Whenever a bride is married to an unsuitable man, then they used to say, Is it right to rear a parrot and then leave it to the claws of a cat? (Tamil Proverb)

parrot 6

Parrot and a Cheat

A merchant bought a parrot and taught the words NO DOUBT ABOUT IT to it. He used to prepare everything in advance to suit the answer ‘ no about it’ and then ask the question. One day he dug the ground and then buried some god coins without anybody’s knowledge. Then he called everyone and said that his parrot can even find treasures buried under the ground. He took the parrot to the place where he buried the gold coins and asked the question: “ Is there a treasure under the ground?” The parrot screeched “No doubt about it”. To the amazement of everyone he dug up the ground and took 1000 gold coins and showed to everyone.

A greedy person approached the merchant and bought the parrot for a higher price. He took it to some place where everyone  said that an old treasure has been there for a very long time. He asked the parrot, “Is there a reassure buried under the ground here?” The parrot said ,”No doubt about it”. He dug up the ground and nothing was there. The parrot repeated the words every time he asked the question. So he brought more men and dug up the ground deeper and deeper. At last he was disappointed. He shouted in anger, “Are you fooling me? Did you put dirt into my mouth?”

The parrot repeated the same words: No doubt about it.

Then only he realised that he was fooled by the merchant who sold the parrot to him.

No doubt, he sold it to another fool.

Tamil poets and saints used to sing apostrophes to birds and one of them is parrot.


Following two Stories are from my old articles:

Parrot and Mirror

The method by which a parrot is taught to speak is unique. The trainer places a big mirror in front of the newly caught parrot and talks to it from behind the mirror. The parrot thinks that another parrot is teaching it to talk and imitates the voice of the trainer. Trained in this manner, the parrot, picking up the language of the trainer, begins to talk fluently in the human language.

This is how a saint teaches his disciples. Apparently it is human being who is instructing them, but, verily, it is God hidden in the Guru that gives illuminating advice to the disciples. So, whenever the aspirant receives instructions from the Guru, he should consider that such instructions come from God himself. Truly, God and Guru are one.

Freedom is the Goal

In a war in Europe, a sailor was captured by the enemy and was put into prison. After fifteen years he was released, as the warring countries contracted an alliance through a treaty. On the day of release, a friend placed in his hands a purse containing £50/- When the sailor was passing through the streets, he saw a shop in which he saw various species of birds in cages kept for sale. He went up to the shop and bought all the cages from the money he possessed and, by opening the trap doors of the cages, set free the imprisoned birds one by one. The shop man was astounded at this. He asked why the sailor having bought the birds at such high prices, released them all.


The sailor replied, “You see, I alone know what it is to be in prison, being denied the privilege of freedom. For fifteen years I have suffered prison life. I could not bear to see these birds unhappy in their cages”.

Similarly, a saint having attained spiritual liberation himself is eager to release others from the bondage of ignorance.