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Vajramushti

 Vajramushti (Martial Arts of India)

Sample Chapter
 
The fundamental particles make nuclei, the nuclei joins in atoms, the atoms joins in molecules, the molecules joins in bases, the bases direct the assembly of amino acids, the amino acids joins in proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of life. 
Stones make a wall, walls makes a house, house makes a street, streets makes a city, a city is stone, and a city is people, but it is not a heap of stones, and it is not just a jostle of people. In the step from the village to the city, a new community or organization is built, based on the division of labour and a chain of commands.
We human beings are joined in families, the families are joined in kinship group, the kinship groups in clan, the clans in tribe, the tribes in nation, and that sense of hierarch of a pyramid in which layer is imposed on layer, runs through all the way we look at nature. 

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The weapons of the first soldiers were of course the weapons with which men had hunted wild beasts for thousands of years. In the process of hunting wild beasts, for food, safety or sport, men learnt to co-operate in-groups, and these groups, became the first armies. Weapons changed slowly, arrows tipped with flakes of flint; as used by cavemen of the earlier past against wolves and deer, were still employed by native that formed part of these army. The prehistoric man in India produced hand-axes, choppers, and arrowheads, made of stone, to protect him from the external dangers. Metals owing to their durability and malleable quality, gradually replaced the stone. The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo daro have shown that the arms and utensils of stone continued to be used side by side with those of copper or bronze. The metallic blades of swords and daggers excavated from the Indus Valley sites are dated to the 3rd millennium BC.
The armies of the past must have consisted mainly of light troops, they were not drilled or ordered, they fought like mobs or herds and they fought mainly with projectiles. If they came to hand to hand the normal weapons would probably be stone axes or wooden clubs, for in those days men did not knew how to handle metals, and therefore could not make any effective stabbing instrument. Huntsmen and soldiers, of the past, were always looking for the best sort of rock, by which he could tip their arrows and throwing spears. We will never know who first discovered how to pound up metal bearing rock, and heat it in the fire till the metal melted, and could be shaped. But we do know that, the first metals with which men worked and made weapons, tools and ornaments, were the softer metals – gold, silver, copper, etc. Of these, gold and silver were too soft for anything except for ornaments and coin (though royal troops in some Asiatic monarchies had decorative spears tipped with silver or gold), but from bronze they made fairly sharp points for arrows and spears, and cutting blades for short swords. The blades had to be rather thick; otherwise they blunt and bend easily, it was impossible to make a full-length sword from bronze.
The history of a country and its geographical position sometimes makes some of the war aims of that country essential to its life and growth. If the war aims fully penetrate the people of that country, and are deeply felt by them. Then the soldiers who represent that country in the battlefield will be different from those soldiers who knew nothing about, for what they are fighting, and they will have no national interest in the outcome of the struggle. In this and other ways the politics or class structure of a society affects the morale of its soldiers and their war tactics.
Weapons have no meaning if separated from war tactics, they become heavy and knobby things for tired men to carry or drag. It is impossible to learn the right use of weapons without learning its war tactics. Hitting power and projectiles have complicated the war tactics, with alternating shock and projectiles cycles. The connection between armour protection and hitting power (projectile) is a little more complicated. Earlier there was a time when men knew little of metalworking, and few men had armour. The pendulum swings between armour and projectile, i.e. between the development of shock weapons for close quarter fighting, and of projectile weapons for long range fighting. Shock weapons are normally more important than missile or projectile weapons. Armoured men can get too close to their opponents, and the fact that fighting is done with projectile weapon does not obliterate this tendency. Though there is a swing in the pendulum between shock weapons and projectile weapons, it is usual for one of these forms of weapons to supplement the other. E.g. Group of schoolboys fighting, they begin with stones, shot from catapults, snowballs or any things they can throw. If the sides are evenly matched, and if it is a real fight then, some of them leave off throwing things, and come to close quarters fighting with sticks, fists, perhaps with feet. When one side is beaten and scattered, throwing begin again, mopping up and pursuit may continue by shock actions, but rear guard actions are fought mainly with projectiles. Throwing things, the use of projectiles which is a form of warfare is a useful accessory but not usually a decisive one. Hitting, or fighting from very close quarter as schoolboys, was similar among soldiers, and it was the most decisive method of fighting, this tactics were the seeds of ancient war tactics, which gave birth to martial arts. 
 
Combative posture at Modhera
Sun Temple, Gujarat

Yudhkaushalya che Talim is one of the oldest forms of Indian martial arts but it was popularized during the Maratha period. Physical activities were re-organized, fostered and enforced on military lines and the conquests turned out to be simply amazing, by the greatest Maratha warrior of all times Shivaji Maharaj. This led to the intrepid strong and muscular galaxy of military commanders such as Tanaji Malausare — the right hand of Shivaji Maharaj. Baji Phasalkar, Yesaji Kank, Baji Deshpande, Netaji Palkar, Sooryaji and other were pillars of the Maratha Empire. Shivaji was encouraged to make vigorous endeavour by the religious magnet Shri Samarth Ramdas Swami the spiritual guide and guru of Shivaji Maharaj, who was also considered to be the incarnation of strength and skill. Simultaneously some Indian Princes continued to carry on the physical culture activities according to their mite. Some native state such as Baroda, Patiala, Indore, Mysore, Kolhapur, and Miraj, etc. were beehives of wrestlers and fighters. Besides wrestling, attention was paid to art such as Binot, lathi-kathi, Dagger fighting, Vajra-Mushti, Sword fighting, Fari-Gadkha, Bothatee, etc. All theses arts came under one umbrella called Yudhkaushalya che Talim, and hence it was also called only as Talim. The world famous wrestlers like 'Gama' and his band have preserved the art and have kept up the prestige of Indian wrestling.

The southern sector art comprises of Silambam, Kalaripayatu, and Marma adi. The origin of Silambam fencing, an ancient art of attack and self-defence was immensely popular since the dawn of human civilization. Silapathiharam, which was written by Ilangovadigal, is a great historical and dramatic literature. It is a Tamil literature, dating back to 2nd century AD., it mentions the dexterous use of the long and short Silambam sticks used in mock fighting as well as serious fighting. It was developed into a highly sophisticated and organized sport or self defence maneouver in Tamil Nadu as early as the 1st or the 2nd century AD. It also refers to the sale of Silamabam staff, swords, pearls and armour to foreign traders of Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians origin who thronged the ancient trading centre at Madurai city. The Silambam staff was one of the martial art weapons that were in great demand with the visitors. The use of the long staff for self defence or mock fighting was a highly organized game in the state as early as the 1st and the 2nd centuries AD.
Kalaripayatu is the only form of Vajramushti (the classical Kshatriya Lion's skill) in its most ancient traditional systems, of physical culture, self-defense and martial techniques still in existence. This art is believed to have its origin in Kerala, legends believed, that the land of Kerala was retrieved from the sea by the epic hero, 'Lord Parasuram' who combined in him the qualities of warrior and a sage. The warrior outside Kerala used defensive armour like steel plates to guard the chest, forearms, etc., helmets for covering the head and large shields while fighting, but in Kerala the warriors generally did not wield any armour, but fought bare-chest. They use lighter weapons and depended on alertness, speed, and dexterity in the use of limbs and the breath taking agility, achieved by their training in Kalaripayatu for their self-defence as well as for vanquishing the enemy. For speed and surprise maneouver they use short weapons like dagger. Another aspect, which is unique in this system, is a particular type of massage given to the trainees. For this special kind of massage medicated oil is used. The Guru who employs his feet on the back and legs of the trainees does this massage, and on the face and other softer parts of the body the massages are done with the hands. This type of massaging is special to Kalaris and it enables the trainees to attain suppleness of body and ease of movements required for the training. A person skill in Kalari is also taught to use medicinal herbs and plants for curing minor diseases and to set bone fractures. This method helps the trainees to have thorough knowledge of the human anatomy. The knowledge of medicinal herb is very essential in curing many type of diseases.
According to the ancient Indian traditions, the human body was animated by vital energy or life force Jivasantanikratkarsa. This energy like the blood circulated around the body. Such a force corresponded to what in India is called as jivat, prana, or rasa and Chi or Qi in Chinese or Ki in Japanese or Pneuma in Greek. The pathway and patterns this energy works when it circulated within the body were termed in Sanskrit as nadi and its strongest flow was within the pith or bone marrow. From here it radiated out, or directly flowed into specific parts of the body. In this case, where it did so was its most vulnerable point, and it was to such places that therapist and warriors directed their attentions. The entrance and exit point in the body at which jivat or rasa was accessible to external influences were known as marma, meaning vulnerable or vital points. The marma could be manipulated, in various manners, to alter the rate of flow, or direction of the jivat or flow of prana within the nadi. In ancient India, marma points and other vital points had been discovered by battle surgeons, after noticing that warriors, who had been slightly injured by enemy arrows or daggers, often experienced miraculous cures to ailments they had previously suffered from. The marma could also be used to halt or expel jivat completely and this art of arresting the jivat seems to have formed the base of the 'Tiger Striking Method - derivative of Vajramushti also known as the classical Kshatriya Lion's skill'. Building on their rapidly developing knowledge, the ancient doctors developed charts of the marma points and included them in the various massage (udvartana) techniques common to ancient Indian medicine. It is difficult to say when the Chinese did develop their ideas about acupuncture points directly from India; it does seem an obvious extension of the Vajramushti teachings or the Kshatriya Lion's skill. Since the art of Dim Muck or Delay Death Touch is very much similar to the Indian art of Marma adi.
Daily practice of Vajramushti or the Kshatriya Lion's skill leads to extraordinary physical control, and mental control. It eventually led the student inward, the exercises eventually become 'that which is internal' (andarikamayatu). The exercises and weapons forms were repeated until the student had sufficiently embodied the 'inner life' (bhava) of the sequence, i.e., until the correct form gets 'inside' the student's body. Once the exercise becomes 'effortless,' as one performs the exercise he should naturally begin to experience the 'inner action' behind the external movement. Almost all practice one sees is partial, it is not complete. Even with advanced students practicing, their form may be good and correct in external form, but it is still lacking something. It is lacking in spark or life (jivan), which makes the form real with bubbling practice. They do not yet have the soul of the form. The external form remains empty, 'lifeless,' and a mere shell, if there is no proper circulation of the internal wind or energy, the form is lifeless. What eventually results from practicing is the discovery of the interior subtle body (suksma­sarira) traditionally associated with yoga and meditation, and assumed to be encased within the physical body. Following the yogic ideal of self-control to its logical extreme, the ultimate mastery of 'mental powers' applied in martial practice is the development of the esoteric, seemingly 'magical' power to attack the body's vital spots (marmam) by simply looking or pointing at it.
The Mind is like a pond of water, even a gentle waft of wind can disturb the surface layer, and constant thought waves creates tensions, which can aggravate the process of ageing, or turn the ebb of life in a short time. Ceaseless activity in the turmoil of life takes its own toll, anxieties, frustrations, are all various sorts of exhaustion of mind and body, all these accelerate the ageing process. Man is not a mere bottle of blood, or a mass of flesh and a bundle of bones. He has his basket full of likes and dislikes, ideals, faith and feelings. From the cradle to the grave one goes on filling one's basket of life with agreeable experiences. The mind thus becomes very much a lumber-room of sensations, perceptions, and conceptions. All these overpower his divine nature or the soul. Had these experiences been of one lifetime only, then it would have been very easy to wipe out, but man is reborn to work out for the actions of past lives. He comes with a rich store of anadi vasana (beginningless instincts), which may be called the impression, and experiences of many lives. All these blocks his supreme awareness and it is this task in the new life given to him, to wipe them out. Life is a struggle, which is to be won by strengthening the mind as well as the body.
Likewise, the agency and power of the martial artist in Indian antiquity must be understood as a complex set of interactions between humanly acquired techniques of virtuosity (the human microcosm, with body mind and spirit) and the divine (space around one individual) macrocosm. The study of movement patterns involved in the Vajramushti or the Kshatriya Lion's skill was mastered by learning the spiritually oriented pratima and nata. These movements or patterns balanced and stabilized both bodily metabolism and muscular coordination, with the result that the physical being became healthy and energized. All these physical practices were subjected to subsequent meditational observation in which students would examine what had arisen within their minds during the practices and their responses to such stimuli. Progressively there are different types of meditations, which are concerned, with the development of a balanced, quiescent and ultimately realistic experience of mind called smriti, they are concerning the body, feelings, mind, and mental objects. Through such practices as mindfulness, practitioners were brought face to face with a greater experience of the nature and motivations they carried within their bodies and minds.
All martial arts exercise as well as therapies are related primarily to the circulation and condition of the wind/breath or wind humor (vayu-vata). Ayurvedic explains the importance of the wind humor, without vata there is no movement within the channels of the body. Only when vata acts, can phlegm (kapha) and fire (pitta) act. Every function of the body is dependent on the condition of the vata. If vata is put in order, all else can come to order. Whatever the disease, when it gets to a pathological state, it is vata that must first be brought under control. Vata is always provoked by weakness in the tissues, exhaustion, problems with the system internal channels (nadi), or when its movement is broken and denied its normal action. Vata may be kept in balance by the positive massage therapies and seasonal exercise or through other forms of psychophysical exercise such as yoga. Massage and exercise keep the vata coursing freely through the subtle body's channels (nadi). Conversely, vata complaints and pathological conditions are treated by manipulations and applications, which unblock restricted channels.
The programme of Physical Education and Recreation in any country reflects the evolution of those activities, which have naturally met the various needs of the people in that period. The basic requirement and the social set-up for the development of strength, for executing multifarious human endeavours in various jobs, for meeting enemy attacks and challenges at the crises of battle or wars, for participation with skill in ritualistic dances and for the utilization of leisure, into forms which are systematized with techniques of learning and rules of conduct are the reflection of civilization of that particular period. For instance the leisure time activity of kicking the bladder of the cow and the human skull in the 12th century has led to the modern game of soccer in England. The martial preparation of valiant knights in medieval Europe has given shape to sword fencing. In India, the wrestler need for a dummy wrestler to wrestle with, has given birth to the unique and ingenious activity called Malkhamb. Physical education has to be viewed as an integral part of human resource development along with the mental, moral and spiritual education. Swami Vivekananda remarked, “One would be nearer to God by playing football than reading the Gita,” in his great wisdom he was laying bare a vital deficiency of the prevalent educational system, that is the lack of a nexus between physical education that promotes a healthy body which in its turn develops a healthy mind. It is only a healthy mind that can develop qualities like patience, fearlessness, calmness, fortitude, forbearance, all of which are necessary to respond to the doctrines and tenets enshrined in the Gita. Post-Independence the government of India made special efforts to preserve and nurture the awesome cultural heritage, by setting up a number of new incentives, and by heightening media exposure at the national level, to propagate and popularize the indigenous games. There are some of these games still existing today, they are grouped together and are popularly called Martial Games of Ancient India.
There is a belief from ancient times that certain currents generated by repeated rhythmic movements of the body created moods and atmosphere that wrought powerful results affecting man and nature alike. Thus were evolved seasonal dances, festival dances, ritual dance, war dance, etc. Man believed he can change what his mind and emotion cannot do, but his physical self (muscles) will do. Every movement thus became enormously important because it meant something. As man evolved with-in himself, even as with-out, dance came to be more a spiritual experience, a medium of worship, an experience of the upliftment of the soul. There exists within the body a life giving element, by which one is alive. It is known as lustre, energy, and vitality. The Prana-Chakra was more responsible for dealing with the energy field and so it was termed as something divine and mystics. Man was always on the lookout from where, which source, how well and what best method is available to enhance this energy. Man must have understood this philosophy by learning and training himself in the art of war, but his better half could not be left behind in the process of evolution, hence the study of dance could be one option for the female counter part to develop her energy quotient, as compared to her male counterpart, who must have build his energy quotient through martial arts. Therefore at this juncture the study of movement was vital to hone one's growth, develop robust health, and build vitality for superior lifestyle. Man must have mastered the art of movement by learning the various martial moves, and he must have realized the various mood states it develops. There may have been other patterns or movements which may have given him a total different mood state, and this state he may have love to relax and enjoy, this gentle flowing movements could be termed as dancing. This particular movement of dance was practiced to such a state of perfection that by balancing it and stabilizing it, both bodily and muscular coordination, the result was that the physical being became supple, healthy and energized. All these dance practices were subjected to subsequent observation in one's mind. Men of the ancient would examine what had arisen within their minds during their practices and their responses to such stimuli. This is true even of the early folk dances. All the songs that form the clue to the dances are intensely imbued by the same spirit. Indian dance demonstrates the deeply philosophical and the highly religious moods of the Indian people.
In today's world the use of projectiles became the main course of fighting, and the weapons by which men used to hack or slice or disembowel each other from a distance of a few feet has become obsolete. These weapons have become relics of the past. The sword, still worn by officers in peacetime and by cavalry, is a decoration, and of rather less value on the modern battlefield than the bow and arrow. The spear in the ancient world broke empires, and in the Middle Ages was the main weapon of the armoured knight. In Queen Victoria's time the lance, carried by some cavalry regiments more for the sake of the pretty pennon that fluttered from it than for its use in action. The War Office Order of 1928 finally abolished the last important charge by lancers, as a weapon of the British Army. The Indian martial arts declined with the coming of the British. The British also recruited Indians from martial arts group, de-emphasized individuality and made regiments out of them such as Gorkha Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, Rajputana Rifles, etc., and transferred their skills to the use of modern arms except for the Gorkhas, and their individualistic use of the Kukhri which is still use in Nepal and parts of Eastern India and is known as, 'bhojali'. 
 
Lord Rama shooting an arrow through seven trees.

The advent of the modern, foreign martial arts (particularly from China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, etc.), their applications are on a vast scale concerning for sports, competition, or competency at any cost, so many facets are all set on a destructive course. Apart from this there are thousands or millions of young Indians practicing judo, karate, tae kwon do, kung, fu, arnis, kick boxing, etc., they are all aspiring to be future Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, or some of their favourite film stars. But hardly do they realize that while mastering the postures, or expressing the aggression, of these so-called heroes, they are damaging the physio-psychological aspect of one's development. Cause movements or patterns of any parts of the limbs are supposed to be balancing and stabilizing both bodily metabolism and muscular coordination, with the result that the physical being should become healthy and energized. All these physical practices that were subjected to subsequent meditational observation, in which students were supposed to examine what, had arisen within their minds, during the practices and their responses to such stimuli, are now become remnants of the past. The epic portrays superhuman like Arjuna, Bhima, Karna, Gautam Buddha, Lord Krishna, and Lord Rama as super heroes who possessed superb strength. It is difficult to digest for a layman how these epic heroes could possess such dynamic and powerful strength and techniques, just by a swish of sword one could cut a palm tree, or shoot an arrow through seven trees or shoot an arrow through the elephant's head right across its body. Was this type of strength and techniques available only to the ancient Indians or the Indus valley civilization? Or such techniques and skill were available even in the medieval period?

Whatever is the answer, one thing is for sure, 25 kms. from Mehasana in Gujarat, there is a sun temple at Modhera, which is well known for its artistic grandeur. This temple was looted and plundered by Mahmud Ghazni in one of his adventurous trip to India. He was not satisfied just by looting and plundering this temple, he wanted to destroy its grandeur, so in a fit of anger he tried to cut one of the pillars of this temple with his sword. Till today the mark of the sword on the stone pillar is quite prominent, an amazing achievement to cut a stone, just by a swish of sword with six inches deep cervix formed by the cut is something phenomenal for a common man's mind. Such devastating power and skill were very much alive in the Asian continent in the 15th and 16th century AD. Where did the Indians faltered, where is this all-powerful art and how can we all achieve this state, these are some of the many questions that haunted me. A detail research on this subject was started from 1991 till May 2004 and the outcome is in the form of this book. 
Character, fitness and sheer courage, these are the demands of Vajramushti the classical Kshatriya Lion's skill, which has about it a distinct spiritual and mythical aura. To succeed in this martial art, one needs plenty of fire in the belly, energy, drive and fierce commitment. In modern world, often the subliminal and important aspects of martial arts are lost in their transmission to the individual. They are invariably adapted to suit the individual temperament rather than the philosophy of the art being accepted by the students. Apart from self-defense many take up martial arts to improve their, 'macho' image, if the ego is fed and a belligerent, dogmatic attitude developed then this will invariably lead to unnecessary aggression and many such exponents of martial arts will look to test their skills on untrained members of the public with whom they pick an argument. But many serious exponents of the martial arts find no need to prove themselves in any ways. They are always quiet, modest, and thoughtful. Their interest ranges the whole spectrum of arts and literature. In the true sense, martial art training is that, “the ego is the enemy from within; its growth destroys all the finer points, which brings mere fighting to an art form”.
Hence today's human life is struggling hard to reach across the ebbing and the swelling hardships. The whole world seems to be undergoing a kind of tension and stresses that even a small child is unable to surpass. Net result, mankind is shaken by the emotional complex and psychic anxiety; fear and frustration have taken the place of his optimism and self-confidence. Hope, cheer and joy have become rare commodities in his life and he fills this growing void with cheap entertainment & filthy literature. Looking at social life there is hardly any country in the world today, which is free from the crime, violence, and exploitation of the weak, dishonesty and corruption. The whole atmosphere is charged with these negative attitudes and a mere feeling of insecurity towards each other than warmth and friendship. Will this ever lead one to achieve the higher aim of life — discovering the Truth! We all need to shift and concentrate our attention towards morality and rectify the 'inner being', which is being shattered down by the sporadic materialism.
 
Christopher Fernandes