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Ben Franklin: A Founding Father of Dwapara Yuga?

March 29th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

Born in 1706, Benjamin Franklin came into the world just a few years after Dwapara Yuga began in 1700. Franklin’s amazing life gives us a fascinating view of the transition the world went through as the old forms and material view of Kali Yuga fell away and the new consciousness of Dwapara Yuga began to change the world.

Even though Franklin was born after the beginning of Dwapara Yuga, in a very real sense Benjamin Franklin’s life began in Kali Yuga. He was born into a rigidly religious family, the fifteenth child of an uneducated tradesman, who was in turn the son of an uneducated tradesman. The only books available to young Franklin were the Puritan religious books of the day and the only prospect for his future was to become a tradesman himself. Rigid religious orthodoxy, no social mobility, and the absence of education are all hallmarks of Kali Yuga.

Even as a young man Franklin was appalled by his options and at the age of seventeen Franklin literally ran away from his family to make a fresh start – not just in employment, but in all facets of his life – religious, political, civic, moral, educational and scientific. In the process Franklin embodied and made significant contributions to nearly every shaping trend of Dwapara Yuga. As much as Franklin was a Founding Father of America, I think we can say he was even more significantly a Founding Father of Dwapara Yuga.

The Energy Age

A hallmark of Dwapara Yuga is energy awareness. Our current age is profoundly shaped by our awareness and use of energy. Franklin was one of the earliest to help usher in that awareness. It is easy to assume, given Franklin’s better known civic activities in Philadelphia and his involvement with the American Revolution as a statesman and diplomat, that his celebrated experiments with electricity – notably flying a kite in an electrical storm – were the gentlemanly dabbling of an enthusiast, re-creations of experiments performed by other more serious scientists in Europe.

The opposite is actually the truth. Franklin was at the forefront of discovery and his experiments were the one’s re-created by others. Franklin devoted many years to unlocking the secrets of electricity. It was Franklin who derived one of electricity’s most fundamental laws – that electricity “flows” like a “current” from positively charged objects to negatively charged objects – and all later developments in harnessing electricity obey this law.

It is only due to the preponderance of Franklin’s other civic activities and contributions that the importance of his seminal work with electricity has become obscured. In fact, during his lifetime, he was known in Europe primarily as a scientist and referred to as Dr. Franklin in recognition of the many honorary degrees that were bestowed upon him for his scientific accomplishments. If he had done nothing else to overshadow his electrical discoveries, it is likely that he would be thought of as the Father of Electricity instead of a Founding Father of the U.S.

The Rapid Expansion of Knowledge

Benjamin Franklin could be the poster child for another hallmark of Dwapara Yuga: the “rapid expansion of knowledge in all departments” as Sri Yukteswar described it. Franklin is considered to have been a polymath, one whose interests and knowledge span a vast number and variety of subjects. Franklin was self taught and an avid reader. Among his civic contributions was the creation of the first lending library – of which he no doubt made good use.

Franklin’s interests and accomplishments included: scientific investigations into electricity, the wave theory of light, meteorology, evaporative cooling, and electrical conductivity; invention of an energy-efficient wood or coal stove (the Franklin Stove); discovery and mapping of the Gulf Stream; invention of bi-focals, the lightening rod, an odometer, and a flexible medical catheter; formation of the first sanitation and volunteer fire departments; foundation of the first hospital and college in Pennsylvania, and development of the first anti-counterfeiting currency. Franklin was a member of the Lunar Society in England (a prestigious scientific society), founded the American Philosophical Society, was an accomplished writer (Poor Richard’s Almanac, Pennsylvania Gazette, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and a vast correspondence covering hundreds of subjects), an original moralist and humanist philosopher, statesman, and diplomat. Franklin played the violin, harp and guitar, composed music, invented a musical instrument called the glass armonica, and was an avid chess player. He was also an innovative man of business and was so successful in establishing (what would now be considered) a chain of printing houses, that he was able to retire from day-to-day management by the age of 42. Franklin went on to invest in real estate and other ventures and in time became one of the richest men in America.

By any measure Franklin was an extraordinary man and would be an extraordinary man in any age, but the astonishing breadth of his interests and accomplishments is emblematic of Dwapara Yuga’s stimulating affect on the intellect and awareness.

The Rise of the Individual

Perhaps the hallmark of Dwapara Yuga which Franklin most embodies is the rise of the individual. During Kali Yuga (700 BC to 1700 AD) the lot of the common man was very poor. The vast majority of people – farmers, herdsmen, soldiers and slaves – were ruled over with absolute power by small ruling elites. Their lives were short and their prospects for education or advancement were non-existent. Rulers considered people as barely more than possessions. 

Franklin rejected the old Kali Yuga model at the young age of seventeen when he ran away from his family’s religious orthodoxy and the dead end of an apprenticeship in his brother’s printing business, to embrace the unknown possibilities of individual freedom. In an earlier time his choice could have been disastrous. Those who left the security of home and family in Kali Yuga rarely found anything but poverty and squalor.  But Franklin entered a world of real possibility in Boston, New York, London and Philadelphia, where an individual could raise his circumstances by employing intelligence and diligence. You could say that Franklin’s was the original “rags to riches” story.

Not only did Franklin embody this new spirit of possibility, he became a champion of individualism and humanism. He founded or helped found many guilds and societies which empowered ordinary individuals to “get ahead”. Not only did he found one of the first colleges in America, but he made sure that it was open to anyone of intelligence. His Poor Richard’s Almanac is full of exhortations to inspire the common man to better himself.

Franklin’s most enduring contributions to empowering the individual are perhaps the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. Franklin was not the primary author of either, but he had unsurpassed influence in the Continental Congress where the concepts, tenets and language of these documents were decided upon.

Three notable Dwapara trends were expressed through the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Constitution – which have since been adopted all over our Dwapara world:

Father of Electricity, man of ever expanding knowledge and interest, and champion of the individual, Franklin embodied much of the emerging spirit of Dwapara Yuga. It is certainly no stretch to call him a Founding Father of Dwapara Yuga – though no school textbook is likely to call him that any time soon!

Can you think of any other candidates for Founding Fathers of Dwapara Yuga?

Best regards,
Joseph Selbie

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