Thousands of years back the Indian social scientists, the rishis, evolved a practical system of conduct known as Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (World is a family) to put a check on exploitation, conflict, tension, violence and crime then existed in various sects, castes, linguistic and regional groups and also for welfare of all living creatures. It is necessary to go deeper into this unique system.
When the divine Creator created the universe, He did it in diverse forms. The message of ‘unity in diversity’ was basically drawn from that divine creation. Since we all are children of one God world over, we are naturally a family at the global level. After all, the children of one father are counted as a single family.
Our ancestors, the rishis, the social scientists started various festivals, fairs and different traditions to practically materialise this system in the society. According to a legend, during Satyuga, King Bali, under the evil influence of egoism, declared himself God. At that time Bhagwan Vishnu assumed the form of Vaman and asked for three pagas (feet) land from Bali. The Lord in the form of Vaman then measured the whole universe by his three pagas. With this, the King Bali too became the part of Vaman’s kingdom. Then Bali realised that Vaman is none other than Bhagwan Vishnu. He surrendered at His feet and begged pardon. Bhagwan Vishnu then returned to his kingdom. Bali also requested the Lord to protect his kingdom himself. The Lord agreed. After some time the Goddess Lakshmi realised that the Bhagwan Vishnu did not return His abode even after finishing the task of His incarnation. When she looked at the earth she found the Lord guarding the kingdom of Bali. She then assumed the form of a small girl and reached the court of Bali who asked her to ask for anything. The girl asked for the ‘Lord’ engaged in the security of Bali’s kingdom. Bali understood that the girl is none but the Goddess Lakshmi. He surrendered at her feet and requested her, “Mother, who will protect my kingdom if you take the Lord with you?” The Goddess, in the form of small girl, then torn a piece of cloth from her chunri and tied that in the wrist of Bali saying now onwards this rakshasutra would protect your kingdom. Since then the festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated. It is still recited in the form of a Sanskrit shloka:
Yen baddho bali raja, danvendro mahabalah
Ten tvamanubaddhami, rakshe machal, machalah
There is another legend which occurred in Dwapar period. Once which Indra was to move for battlefield to fight against demons. Mahrishi Narad then advised his wife Shachi to take special measures for the protection and victory of her husband. Shachi remembered Bhagwan Vishnu and tied a rakshasutra on the wrist of her husband, Indra. That rakshasutra did wonder and protected Indra in the battle. That incident strengthened the tradition of celebrating Raksha Bandhan.
This tradition got new dimension during the Treta period in the form of strengthening moral and ethical relations between Guru and shishya and owner and worker. The disciple went to the Guru with the rakshasutra, the Guru guaranteed him education and the shishya resolved to work for spreading education and also to enhance the respect of the Guru. The worker went to the owner with a rakshasutra, the owner guaranteed him employment and the worker resolved to remain fully committed to the owner. All such traditions further strengthened this festival.
The history continued to take new turns and new legends as well as traditions got associated with this festival. But a big question mark was put before this festival in this Kalyuga when the capitalist and consumerist influence started dominating the human values. The womanfolk, who used to receive immense respect in our culture during the previous time, started being publicly insulted. Foreign invaders outraged their modesty and exploited them. At this time the womenfolk gave a new direction to the tradition of Raksha Bandhan for their security. They started tying rakshasutra on the wrists of their brothers taking promise of their security. This developed a new healthy relation between brothers and sisters. The relation of brother and sister is very pure. When Swami Vivekananda started his speech at the World Religious Parliament in Chicago with the words, “Brothers and Sisters of America” the entire gathering was thrilled and the hall was filled with continuous clappings. Soon Swami Vivekananda became a world famous saint. By and large the festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in our country in the form of a festival of brother and sister for the last thousands or more years. There are also stories of Rani Durgawati and Humayun and Hari Singh Nalva etc., which are still very popular among people regarding this festival.
In this 21st century, the Himalaya Parivar has decided to give this festival a new dimension. In order to make the people environment friendly we are educating the people, both man and women, to tie a rakshastura to any of the tree or plant on the Shravan Poornima (Raksha Bandhan Day) and resolve to protect that in all circumstances.
Raksha Bandhan is not the religious festival of any particular community. It is the festival that protects and builds human values irrespective of castes, ways of worships, languages and regions. Today, the whole world is in the influence of communal violence, tension, pollution, crime and unethical deeds. Many ‘Days’ are observed at the international level every year to spread different kinds of messages. We wish to spread the message of peace, happiness and brotherhood by celebrating the Raksha Bandhan as ‘World Brother-Sister Day’ at the international level. Hope the people would contribute in this endeavour.
(The writer is patron of Himalaya Parivar and National Executive Member of RSS)