Jayary 357

The first major event in the Jaya is the snake sacrifice. The snake king Takshaka is the ostensible target of the sacrifice but Janamejaya is persuaded to take genocidal revenge for his father's death by killing every snake in the world. Isn't that what Dubya did: taking revenge on all of Iraq to get at Saddam Hussein?

The revenge part should be familiar to us, but why organize a sacrifice to do so? Why not go out and shoot every snake you can find? Or marshall your forces for a war against the snakes? If anything, the Jaya reverses the relationship: the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is subsumed within the larger history of sacrifice.

Why is sacrifice so important? It's got to do with violence.

Siddhartha leaves home because the reality of suffering hits him in the face; but that suffering is a bit passive isn't it: sickness, old age, i.e., events that feel natural as opposed to intentional. But sickness and old age aren't the only way we suffer: we also suffer from wars and famines, and if we look far back into prehistory, we also suffered from predation. It's not just suffering that colours our world: violence is at its core.

What can we do about universal violence? One answer: organize sacrifices.

Rajesh Kasturirangan

Rajesh Kasturirangan

I think. I write. I meditate. I agitate.