Quote 17: The Geeta at the most central point of the consciousness of those who see and reflect on the imageries at the Supreme Court of India

(i) The murals

“The mural on the tiles between the two entrances from the Judges’ wing to the Chief Justice’s Court display lotuses in full bloom on the top and at the bottom of the rectangle at the centre of which the Dharmachakra is portrayed. The lotuses tell our Hon’ble Judges what constitutes the very basic ideas of the Administration of Justice. A lotus grows above water, with its tendrils inside water and mud, teaching how to live and work with detachment. This quality of the art of life has been expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita through the profoundly suggestive expression: (Ch. V.10) which has been thus rendered in English:


‘Offering actions to Brahman,
Having abandoned attachment,
He acts untainted by evil
As lotus leaf is not wetted’”

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 19 at p. 250)


(ii) The Emblem of the Supreme Court

On ascending the stairs of the massive and sprawling platform to the Supreme Court building, I was charmed by what appeared to me, from a distance, a vermillion-mark on the forehead of this Lady of Justice, at the spot where under our Tantra we find the Ajnachakra on which the yogis concentrate while meditating. I learnt that it was the emblem of the Supreme Court. It exists on the wall just above the entrance to the Chief Justice’s Court (Court No. I).

I felt that a full treasure of evocative ideas had been delightfully emblematized in light saffron images etched in the plaster of Paris relief. The base seemed to show how two snakes, coming from two opposite directions, curve to dip their heads in a coil alluding the source of human power and creativity known as the kundalini in our Yoga and Tantra. Above it, in the semi-circular stretch of a strip, is inscribed the immortal dictum of the profoundest truth: Yato Dharma-stato jayah. One is enraptured by the ravishing, well modulated, realistic lions in their most majestic but placid mood taken straight from the capital of the ancient Sarnath Ashokan pillar which Ashoka had erected at the place where the Buddha had proclaimed his Dharma revealing the very grammar of human life. Through the imagery of the lions, standing back to back facing the four directions, it was announced to all the triumph of Dharma in all the quarters of the universe. The Sarnath Ashokan lion capital surmounts an inverted lotus, often called the Persopolitan Bell. On it the Persian impact is obvious. We know that we had come in close contact with Persia and Macedonia during the days of Chandragupta Maurya. The inverted lotus brings to mind the image of the samsarbrikchha (the cosmic tree) with roots above and branches luxuriating down (described with high poetic precision in Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad-Gita). But the bell was excluded from our national emblem, perhaps for aesthetic compactness; and also because it was more appropriate to let the whole superstructure have its subjacent foundation on Satyameva Jayate (“Truth Alone Triumphs”), a mantra from the Mundaka Upanishad. What struck me most was the wise creativity emerging assertively in the emblem of the Supreme Court. It showed a beautifully carved Dharmachakra placed above the lions, its width suggesting its comprehensive dominance over all mortal powers. Even this Sarnath pillar had a wheel above its crest representing the universal triumph of Dharma. It is said that this wheel was destroyed during the Turkish invasion. How this might have looked before its destruction can be imagined by looking at the image of the Ashokan lion capital at Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailand, with well-wrought Dharmachakra at the crest of the lions. The Chakra suggests the subservience of all powers to the discipline of Dharma. The crest of Dharmachakra above the lions in the emblem of the Supreme Court, exfoliates the immanent presence of Dharma. And Dharma is the most powerful and accurate measuring-rod to measure all acts: it is also the most potent catalytic agent in the universe to ensure the unfaltering operation of the infallible Justice. The abacus of the capital bears a frieze with the images of an elephant, a horse in motion, a full-grown bull, and an imperious lion marching in languid rhythm each separated by a chariot wheel (the Dharmachakra). The wheels in motion suggested Dharmachakra which suggests to us that the universe is just kriya (action), and human life mere karmasamigri (instrument of action). The upward thrust of the conjoint images of the emblem of the Supreme Court, and their synergic effects bring to one’s mind an august pradeep (an earthen lamp) the flame which sheds light, tamso ma jyotirgamaya (lead us from darkness to Light). It can also be said that the imagery is choreographed with upward rhythm of a lotus in bloom to suggest that the kundalini at the base (in muladhar) is rising towards the Dharmachakra which is no different from the Sahasrarachakra of our Tantra. The overall thrust in the pattern of the images would invite the Judges, the litigants and all others who see it, to strive to be, what the Buddha had asked people to be in words of immortal poetry: ‘App dipo bhavah’ (Be thy own Light). In England, the Superior Courts are answerable, as Holdsworth says, “only to God and the King”. nder the Constitution of India, the King or the Queen is nonexistent, and God is not relevant to the polity or governance: at least this is what they say. Then to whom are our superior courts answerable? Our Constitution, which we have given to ourselves, contemplates no Grand Mughals. Our superior courts are answerable to the high institution of Judiciary itself: Justice being its sole guiding star. Hence, in India miscarriage of justice can be remedied only under a system of institutional accountability. Our Superior Court is answerable to itself as an institution, and ultimately to Dharma.


(iii) On the Chakra

The adoption of the image of Chakra at the centre of, at the heart of the flag, illustrates the profound insight of those who selected that image. I have always felt that this ‘Chakra’ on the flag is to be understood in a frame of reference wider than that conceived by the Buddhists.

I feel like conceptualizing three Chakras, though all these tend to become one in divine dispensation. First I conceive the Kaalchakra (the wheel of time). The great poet Bhartrihari has beautifully portrayed its inexorable working in his lines which I have quoted in Chapter 8 of this Memoir. It is within this domain where, to say in the words of Shakespeare, “wasteful Time debateth with Decay”. The cycles of life and death go on caught in the Kaalchakra (the Wheel of Time). This point is stated with precision in the Hitopdesha which says: ¿·ý¤ß.ÂçÚUßÌü.Ìð Îé¹æçÙ ¿ âé¹æçÙ ¿ (life keeps changing through sorrows and happiness). One is bound to act incessantly on this wheel. The Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana tells us that ‘action’ alone can be one’s teacher and God (·¤×ñüß »éL¤çÚU.æÚUãU). But all that happens on the Kaalcharaa are judged and controlled by the Dharmachakra. Gandhari illustrates the sovereignty of the Dharmachakra by pronouncing to Duryodhana that it is Dharma alone that ultimately triumphs. When, in bad times, the operation of Dharma gets obstructed, the Kaalchakra invokes God to let His Sudarshanachakra operate. Nowhere in the world you can find the supreme power of destruction called ‘ sudarshana’(beautiful to look at). Our poets have called this wheel ‘sudarshana’ because it restores harmony in the universe by destroying what is against Dharma.

(iv) On Dharma

The words of Gandhari, Yato Dharmahstato Jayah (‘Where dharma is victory is surely there only’), are inscribed in Devanagari script on the semi circular strip on the Supreme Court’s emblem. I wonder at the wisdom of the person who chose this expression for being inscribed on that. This supreme law (‘Yato Yato Dharmahstato Jayah’) has been referred at several places in the Mahabharata by persons like Krishna, Sanjaya, Vidura, Vyasa and Gandhari. Before going to the battle field, Duryodhana went to his mother Gandhari for her blessings to achieve victory. She blessed him telling: “victory would go where dharma resides”. We all know that he fought bravely, but was defeated and killed. When the devastating war of the Mahabharata was over, the Pandavas, with their supreme mentor Krishna, went to meet Gandhari. So sore was that pious lady that she decided to curse them for having destroyed her sons and many others most venerated by all. The great Vyasa could see through his inner eyes that the Pandavas would be cursed, and would have to reap the consequences of her wrath. He ran to Gandhari to dissuade her from doing what she had contemplated to do. He told her that what had happened was the command of Dharma, and accorded well with her own verdict. Listening to this, she gave up the idea of cursing the Pandavas.

(v) The Flag

From afar, the tricolour flag of our nation can be seen atop the portico, resting on massive solid round pillars with decorated frieze on the capital. The verandah is most often crowded by the lawyers in black coats, coming out and going into the court rooms with alacrity and pace as if the doomsday is just round the corner. Our nation’s flag is an epic, a veritable reflecting-mirror of the values of our culture. We cannot be indifferent to this symbol of our nation. I was not much interested to know why and how the colours for our flag were chosen. What matters is the imagery it provides, and idioms in which it communicates. Its saffron top stresses not only the most admirable quality of detachment, but also it brings to mind the flag of Arjuna in the Mahabharata War, and also the great Bhagwa flag of our Shivaji the Great. The green down the flag represents the nation’s commitment to agriculture, and our obligations not to pollute nature and environment. The central band of our flag bears the image of a chakra (wheel) with 24 spokes. It symbolizes the famous Buddhist Dharmachakra suggesting our commitment to peace and spiritual values so important in our world of fast changing technology but stagnant, if not decadent, morality. I remember what decades back my father, himself a freedom-fighter, had told me that the Dharmachakra can turn into the Sudarshanchakra of Krishna,if dharma is ignored on account of the tainting factors like greed, lust, anger and fear. I enjoyed the great poetry expressed through the possibilities of the transformation of the Dharmachakra intothe Sudarshanchakra to undo injustice. I always salute the flag once a day when I enter the campus of the Court. I wish the Hon’ble Judges and the lawyers should also pay a daily homage to our flag.


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