Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ahibhuk and the Boatman - अहिभुक्कैवर्त न्यायः

Ahibhuk and the Boatman

ahibhuk kaivarta nyāyaḥ
अहिभुक्कैवर्त न्यायः

Ahibhuk was a regular user of afeem (opium), his very name suggests ‘opium-eater’. Even the word afeem comes from Sanskrit word ahi-phéna.* One day he boarded a ferry boat that was pretty crowded. Delusional, he wondered what if he got lost in this crowd and could not identify himself? So he tied a rope around his ankle and dozed off confidently. Unknown to him, the boatman heard his somewhat loud concerns. Playing a joke on him, the boatman removed the rope and put it on his own ankle. Upon waking, Ahibhuk screamed, “Oh no, I have indeed lost myself and changed into a boatman!”


A century ago, a western translator mocked it thus, “And this nonsense is meant to teach the identity of the individual with the One Self!” Let us see how this ‘nonsense’ has far-reaching depth for life and leadership.

We are Ahibhuk, delusional that this body is the real us. The river he is crossing is the bhavasāgara, this world, the ocean of happening, of births. The crowd on the boat is humanity – the people in the world. We all share the journey going across the ocean of births and deaths. But, we want to identify ourselves separate from others and even the Divine Principle – the boatman. At the end when we wake up, we are indeed one with the Divine Principle. That rope is our false identity, name, title, power, ego with which we bind ourselves. By the Divine Grace, those who are freed from the rope of ego, from whose eyes the veil of illusion (māyā-jāla) is removed, they see their true identity with the Divine Boatman.

As a leader, have a perspective, vision, and deeper understanding. Know that you are not made by labels. You make labels. Go beyond labels. Lead without authority. You started that way in the first place.

Go beyond label and title.


This post is an extract from the book Attitude Shift - Sanskrit Maxims for Contemporary Life and Leadership . You can download a FREE PDF file of the book. clicking the above link. JOIN THE FACEBOOK PAGE as well.


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and now the language aspects -

अहिभुक्कैवर्त न्यायः = अहिभुक्-कैवर्त न्यायः = ahibhuk-kaivarta nyāyaḥ.


ahi =snake, poison, poisonous snake
ahi-phéna = afeem, opium
bhuk = one who has eaten
ahibhuk = opium-eater
kaivarta = boatman

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