This year the Ayudha Puja Day a.k.a. Shastr Puja Day will be on October 25, 2020.
Since when is it celebrated?
It is generally agreed that it has been celebrated from ancient times. References can be seen from Ramayan and Mahabharata days. That means 5000- 10000 years in the past.
Why is Ayudha Puja Day Celebrated?
That is the day the warriors say ‘thank you’ to their weapons and check their readiness. For the success of the warrior in any war, in addition to his/ her talent and experience, needed is a well- functioning, reliable weapon. Puja is not just offerings of flowers etc. It is truly to appreciate the role and support weapon provides in winning the war.
Can you win any war without appropriate weapon? Well neigh impossible.
The Nature of War is Changing
We have come forward from Ramayan and Mahabharata days by 5000- 10000 years. We are in the digital age. The motives and nature of wars have drastically changed. In the olden days, wars were fought for conquering lands. Today, it is conquering minds.
The modus operandi of wars has moved from hand to hand, to mechanical, to weapons of mass destruction including chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear. COVID-19 has brought the whole world on its knees. We are now in the digital age. Experts say, AI can be more devastating than Nukes. Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, by Brad Smith (2019), provides a good summary.
In addition to land wars we now have trade wars, currency wars, info wars, civilizational wars. It is the age of the unmanned weapons, drones and robos, and occupying the mind space of the people.
What weapons to worship?
In the present age, the forms of weapons have changed but not the role and support a warrior needs from his/her weapons. Thus, in effect, everyone may worship his/ her weapons. You may not worship a sword, but a drone.
Weapons and Tools
The weapons and tools should not be confused. The dictionary meaning of tool is essentially a device or implement to carry out a function. Hindu Culture is amazing. For worshiping tools there is separate day, called Vishawkarama day. The weapon may be a Gun or a Pen. The entire factory producing guns is tools, only gun is weapon. So also, the entire factory producing Pens may be tools, but Pen is a weapon. You must have heard ‘Pen is mightier than Sword’.
Saraswati Puja Day
In Hindu Culture, Ayudha Puja Day is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja Day. The Saraswati in Hindu culture is the deity of knowledge and Intelligence. The message is use Ayudha intelligently, for a good cause; to protect and promote good and destroy evil in the society.
You may thus see why Ayudha Puja is celebrated around Navratris and Dussehra. That is the time to celebrate Durga killing Mahishasur and Ram killing Ravana.
Lesson: Every Hindu, irrespective of gender, must check out the readiness of weapons for any war that you are into. It is not just offering flowers to swords and guns.
Ayudha Puja needs Revival
Under the subjugation and rule of Mughals and Britishers of 1000 years, Hindus had lost the urge for bearing arms. Keeping arms was made illegal both by Moghuls and Britishers. In certain parts of the country, even riding a horse was made illegal. Even after Independence in 1947, it is not illegal but overly controlled. The net outcome is that Hindus have lost the urge to bear arms.
The history, without doubt shows, that power flows through the barrel of the gun. More advanced gun, the better.
Delhi Riots 2019
Could you ever forget that scene shown on Indian Television during recent Delhi Riots, when a young Muslim guy is walking up and down the street, showing up his pistol in the air, and then pointing it at a policeman? And the policeman had no firearms. What a shame?
USA: An Example to Follow
USA is a good example to follow. The Forefathers, in their wisdom, gave the right to bear arms in USA. No ‘one sided’ bearing arms by the State. And it has stood USA society in good stead. We do hear time to time talks of gun control in USA. There have been unfortunate incidents that have happened in schools and other places. There, in all honesty, guns should not be held guilty. It is the failure of education/ human development/ human values. That can’t, and should, not be used to do away with that right of the people.
‘Strength Respects Strength’ is the title of a book by APJ Abdul Kalam. That canon of life applies at the levels including nations, societies and individuals. Every intruder in USA is on the alert that the property owner may own a gun and can shoot down the intruder. We have read stories of senior single female at home gunning down the intruder. What is a better self- defense? That defense is handy, and that preparedness helps.
I never forget a news story I had read while in Singapore in early 90s. A guy who was trying to break into a jewelry shop in the middle of the night was gunned down. Since the cop hit him in the head, he was rewarded (I believe, for accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness).
I don’t have statistics of guns and gun deaths in USA. But my hunch is USA will turn up much better in terms of Gun Deaths (of Innocents) Per Gun. And by the way, who is that innocent who gets killed? The one who doesn’t bear gun at the time of the incident.
I am inclined to think that bring whatever rules you want, there will be someone somewhere who would like to test those rules; sometime, just for the heck of it. Also, prohibition has actually never worked and will never work in any part of the world, whether it is against liquor or guns or anything else. Prohibition certainly creates a competitive disadvantage for the law-abiding.
Dr Sat Parashar, PhD is former Director, IIM Indore. He teaches at University of California, San Diego, and is a Financial Services Professional. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org