Indo-European Guide to Presidential Elections (excerpts, #2)

The continuation of the previous part..

Forgivable Vices of President

…King Yayati, for being an exemplary king in the story mentioned previously and other stories, was praised by divinities, and they granted him a right to ascend to havens. However, unlike the Iranian tradition, where earthly deeds define the destiny of a soul to end up in heaven or hell once and for all, Hindu’s theology envisions a dynamic and open system of heavens of various ranks, and behavior of their inhabitants may revoke their rights to be there. After many years of happy occupancy of heavens, king Yayati becomes proud in his thoughts and mentally scorns gods, rsis and men. By doing so, he falls of the radar of the celestial inhabitants; they no longer recognize him:

“’Who is he? Son of what king? Why is he in heaven? What acts he earned him this reward? Where has he carried out his time of ascetism? What is known about him? Who knows him?’ And the whole household of heaven, the charioteers, the gatekeepers, all answer: ‘We don’t know him.’… Indra’s verdict is pronounced: ‘Because you scorn your superiors, your equals, your inferiors, your merits will vanish and you must fall from heaven!’…

Yayati falls, a puppet without strings… The helpless king does, however, keep enough presence of mind to concern himself with where he should land on earth… Yayati appears to be endowed, during his descent, with the power to affect his own course: like an astronaut, able to determine, with his jets and parachutes, the place of his splashdown, he reflects: ‘If I must fall, let me at least fall among the good men!’’’ (Dumezil 1973 30-1)

Here comes Yayati’s daughter Madhavi into the play. To help her father, she temporarily leaves the forest sanctuary and leads to Yayati her four sons, possessors of the ideal kingly qualities. They offer parts of their merits to Yayati, replenishing what he lost in havens. It’s enough for divinities to reconsider their verdict. They send five celestial chariots to bring Yayati and his grandchildren to heavens. (Dumezil 1973 34, 42)

Plutarch (Romulus 3,4) tells us a very familiar now story about grandfather of Romulus, Numitor, who also lost his kingdom. Not due to his pride, but because his naïve honesty. He is, as well, restored to his throne by the son of his virgin daughter, Virgo Vestalis. (Dumezil 1973 119)

In Iranian tradition we can find another “first king” Yima, also thrown back from heavens to the Earth. The reason for such a punishment now is not a pride, but a lie (Dumezil 1973 38). There is no explanation in detail what this lie was about, however some insight on what it could be another Hindu story can give. This is a story about king Vasu Uparicara, who, similarly to Yayati, was in favor of divinities. He even was given a first in the human history “Airforce One” craft – a crystal chariot capable of flying in atmosphere and above.

However, King’s destiny is not always a path covered by rose petals, even if the King follows all rules. The path may lead to trials where there may be no happy choices. He may choose to remain true to himself, and take an unpractical but noble path and suffer consequences, or choose “rational”, benefiting him actions, like a villager or tradesman would do, but seize to be a King.

King Vasu was asked to be an arbiter in discussion of gods and rsis if it’s right to offer animal meat for sacrifice. That was a provocative question, framing the king. Gods having direct interest in the matter insisted that the sacrifice – aja – literally means goat, while holy men rsis were debating the name of sacrifice is really a-ja – not born, i.e. plants. Because of his loyalty to divinities, Vasu lied and that cost him his celestial privileges, including the crystal chariot:
’Since you have taken the side of the gods’, they [rsis] said, ‘you will fall from the sky. From this day you will lose the power which you have to circulate in the air! By our curse, you will sink far below the surface of the earth!’

However, this sin was proven to be not incompatible with the King title. Gods didn’t left Vasu suffer for his devotion, though not quite impartial, to them. Unable to undo punishment of the rsis, who sent Vasu on the bottom of a well, they fed and took care of his needs, until the time when Vishnu himself send already known to as bird Garuda to free Vasu from his imprisonment and bring him into domain of Brahma. (Dumezil 1973 63-4)

Similarly, President Richard Nixon lost his job as a President not because he authorized spying on the political rivals; he was forced to resign under the threat of impeachment because of his attempts to cover up his peoples’ actions. These actions might be unlawful, but defending his people is definitely noble and loyal. Nixon may be lost his official post, but definitely saved his Presidential status and honor, doesn’t matter if President Ford had pardoned him or not.  Nixon could have easily save his career by betraying his men, denying his involvement, and selling them to Themis, goddess of Justice, but by doing so he would seized to be the King, the President.

Unlike Nixon, another former (in many meanings of the word) President had chosen differently, by refusing to accept responsibility for the unjust war based on the lies about WMD, and blaming intelligence people for misleading him. No wonder that former President, formally remaining in his office until the end of term, lost his presidential legitimacy and integrity, and now, when traveling abroad, is accompanied by campaigns of international organizations advocating his arrest for crimes against humanity…

To be continued…

Dumezil, Georges, 1973. The Destiny of a King, The Univercity of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL

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