Mythologist | Author | Speaker | Illustrator

April 16, 2023

First published April 15, 2023

 in Economic Times

The Wokeness of Bhasmasur

Published on 15th April, 2023, in Economic Times.

In the famous miniseries, Game of Thrones, everyone loved the queen Daenerys Targaryen who was the mother of dragons. She rode these amazing creatures and watching her fly made everyone feel powerful. If you upset this queen, she could get her dragons to release fire and burn you to death. Thus she got people to fear her and submit to her authority. This fear that leads to submission and obedience is often called respect. Those who yearn for respect, seek these dragons. In Hindu mythology, the same idea manifests as Bhasmasur, or the ash-demon.

Once upon a time, there was an asura, who obtained from Shiva, a boon. He wanted to have the power of being able to touch anything and turn it into ash. This is why he was called Bhasmasur. When Shiva granted him that wish, Bhasmasur decided to test his powers by touching Shiva himself. But Shiva would not submit and began to run. The whole world saw Shiva being pursued by this ash demon. Vishnu came to Shiva’s rescue. He took the form of a damsel and enchanted the asura into touching his own head. Thus Bhasmasur was destroyed. The power that enabled him ended up consuming him. This is what is happening with the woke movement around the world.

The woke movement started in the USA in the early 20th century with American Blacks being asked to be ‘woke’ to the deceptions of people in power who were denying them their rights. This amplified itself in the 21st century with the increasing number of innocent black people being killed by the American police force. But eventually, as it often happens in America, the term got appropriated by privileged White academicians as a tool against all forms of social justice, real, and imagined.

As more and more people with privilege realised the power of terms like woke, it started being used in university campuses across America to declare the other as offensive, terrifying, and triggering. Today, the radical trans-activist, who argues against biology, sees anyone who aligns with traditional notions of gender as oppressive. Yesterday, the radical feminist, argued against biology, and insisted on equality – all women can do what all men can do. So in Hollywood films, even a massive male monster is defeated by a frail female hero, no matter what the odds. To show a man beating a woman is seen as perpetuating stereotypes and injustice. Today, the radical feminist is pitched against the radical trans-activist, as the latter insists a trans-woman can compete in female sports as trans-women are equal to cis-women. Anyone who opposes faces the wrath of the dragon, the touch of the Bhasmasur – they are cancelled, reduced to ash.

Getting woke means getting offended by everything, being self-righteous to the point of manufacturing injustice all around. Once we self-identify as a victim, we cannot be a villain. In fact, in woke circles, victimhood grants power. You ride the dragon. You get the Bhasmasur touch.

In the 18th century, the French Revolution stripped aristocrats of power and privilege and demanded liberty and equality for all. In the 19th century, following the industrial revolution, the Marxist movement divided the world into two classes: the haves, and have-nots. Those with privilege were the secular equivalent of the Biblical demons, forces of the Devil. Then in the 20th century, post-structural philosophies of France argued that all social structures are designed to ensure the rich stay rich, and grow richer. Thus the state itself is an apparatus of injustice, funded by the rich and the powerful, who end up controlling the legal and military systems. The only way out is to destroy these structures – on dragons, with the Bhasmasur touch.

Bhasmasur then is the woke, the asura who feels that the devas have all the privilege, and support of Brahma. That is why the devas live in paradise Swarga and the asuras have to live under the ground, beneath the feet (tala) of all creatures. He opposes all structures – class, religion, caste, gender. Even subjects like science, mathematics and history are deemed oppressive. He wants fluidity – no rules, no instructions, no boundaries, no hierarchies, the freedom to identify himself as whatever he wants. He/she can choose religion, reject caste, ignore race, invent gender, discover new sexuality. If I can be whatever I want, but others do not agree with my invention of myself, does my identity exist? I need a “state” to affirm my identity, indulge my liberty, and ensure my equality. The “state” then is the obedient dragon I will ride.

A state that enforces any ideology, Left or Right, Liberal or Radical, is by definition fascist. It ends up taking away individual rights. By cancelling the opponent, the woke becomes the oppressor. Thus Bhasmasur, burning all oppressors, ends up burning himself, or herself, or themselves.

Recent Books

Recent Posts