Tuesday, October 31, 2017

1119. Kannada Rajyotsava....!

On November 1st 1956, under the State Reorganisation Act boundaries of Indian states were formed on the linguistic lines.  The region where Kannada speaking people were predominant in Madras Province, Hyderabad Deccan, Bombay Presidency was included into what was formed to be “Mysore State”. 
Later in the year 1973 on 1st November “Mysore State” was renamed as “Karnataka”. The word Karnataka has been derived from two Kannada words “Karu” and “Nadu” meaning black land after the rich black soil it had.

It is this black soil which provides nutrition for the Paddy, Ragi, Groundnut, Sugarcane, Jowar, Maize and Cotton crops grown here. The soil of Karnataka is moist by the water from many major rivers. Karnataka state rivers can be divided into 2 groups Eastward flowing and Westward flowing River Krishna and its tributaries Bhima, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Tungabhadra and Vedavathi flow from northern side. River Kaveri and its tributaries Hemavathi, Arkavathi, Harangi, Shimsha, Laksmana teertha and Kabini flowing from southern side join the ocean flowing towards east at Bay of Bengal. While Rivers Sharavathi, Kalinadhi and Netravathi rivers flow towards west and join Arabian Sea.

Kannada is the lively language since ancient times but the historians have traced its script from 5th Century AD onwards.  A possibly more definite reference to Kannada language is found in an Egypt play of 1st Century AD called “Charition mime” This humorous play by an unknown author was discovered in the early 20th century at Oxyrynchus in Egypt. The play revolves around a Greek lady named Charition who is stranded on the coast of a country bordering the Indian Ocean. The script of the play has the King of the region and his countrymen speaking in their local language (Kannada), and the sentences they spoke include “Koncha madhu patrakke haki” (Pour a little wine into the cup) and “Paanam beretti katti madhuvam ber ettuvenu” (Taken up the cup and having covered it, I shall take wine separately). The dialect of Kannada language used in the play indicates that it is set in one of the numerous small ports on the western coast of India, between Karwara and Mangalore.

The beauty of Kannada is that the dialects change every 100 kms. There are about 20 dialects among them most notable are Kunda Kannada (spoken exclusively in Kundapura), Nadavar Kannada (spoken by Bants, Nador), Havyaka Kannada (spoken mainly in Mangaluru, Sagara, Sirsi, Honnavara), Hale Kannada also called Are Bhashe for its half speech which was intermediate to Hale and Hosa Kannada (spoken by Gowda community mainly in Madikeri and Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada), Malenadu Kannada (Kodagu, Shivamogga, Chikmagaluru), Gulbarga Kannada, Dharwada Kannada etc. All of these dialects are influenced by their regional and cultural backgrounds. There are also the other languages related to Kannada which is mixed with the language of that region which shares the boundary with Karnataka. Badaga which is spoken by the Nillagiri inhabitants has a mix of Tamil in it, we find this in some parts of Ooty and Coimbatore, Holiya is a mix of Telugu and Urali is a mix of Malayalam. These mix languages are mainly in use among the Girijana (Hill Tribes) and Vanavasi (Forest Dwellers) in the boarder. (Christian Missionaries have used these languages for propaganda of their school of thought, I came across "World Language Movies" series through which I was able to locate them on YouTube). There may be many dialects but Kannada in it is one.

Kannada script has its root in ancient Brahmi Lipi (Script) and the oldest known inscription was found in Badami caves with Kadamba Script which was categorised as Halegannada (Old Kannada). In fact it was the Kadambas of Banavasi which was the earliest native kingdom to rule over what is today the modern state of Karnataka. The Kadambas ascent to power as an independent Geo-Political entity with Kannada as the language of the soil marked a landmark event in the history of modern Karnataka with Mayura Sharma, a Brahmin who played an important role.

Sirigannadam Gelge, Sirigannadam Baalge…..! 

Jai Hind!
Jai Karnataka!

Monday, October 30, 2017

1118. Struggles of wearing a Saree to work....?

Saree is worn by Indian women is by far the most elegant dress. It is not merely an outfit but an ornament which attains the grace when draped by a woman. Saree which can be linked to Vedic Culture epitomizes the continuity of an age-old tradition that has withstood the onslaught of many different cultures to emerge today as a visible symbol of the resiliency, continuity and timelessness of the Indian way of life.

They say change is inevitable, yes change is inevitable but the best stays unchanged.  Saree is universally accepted as the best outfit to wear but in some countries weather does not permit the women there to wear a Saree. Even in the Malabar region of our country we had women who went with Roukka or Mulakacha and Mundu. The humidity and the climatic conditions in that region snatched the woman of their joy to wear Saree.

Last week India Today brought out a video on “Struggles of wearing a Saree to work”. The video which had a hidden agenda was very nicely conceptualized to show that Saree is not an outfit to the office goers. The reasons cited were ogling men, age-related comment, odd questions from co-workers, trouble while walking etc..,

Yes, in today’s world Indian women are more comfortable in Salwar Kameez and Jeans with Trendy top. There is no need to impose Saree as the outfit for them to wear in the name of tradition and culture. But at the same time there is no need to marginalise an outfit which is stood without defeat from the onslaught over it in the name of Fashion and Freedom.

In fact I was reading an article about the way the majority of Muslim women in northern Malabar region are force to wear “Burka”. 25 years prior Burka was not the outfit of even those Kashmiri women also let go Malabar. Women from Muslim community in Malabar wore Kachathuni (Mundu), Pennu kuppayam (a full-sleeved loose blouse). Astonishingly it is the same state where a woman called Nangeli fought against  “Breast Tax” imposed by the Kings of Travancore about 200 years back. The story came to light when a artist from Kerala shot to fame by using this incidence in his blog which is full of crass anti-Hindu propaganda and paintings with sexist remarks. Incidentally many so called “progressive” anti-Hindu liberals and feminists cling to this revelation by that artist to brand the way the upper caste Hindus behaved. The Communists have since eons used the back route to demean and defame others.  Now ironically they are forced to cover their whole body forcefully encouraging the Purdahculture in the same state where Nangeli lived. 

Since the year 2000 “Burka” is made the dress code for women folks in Kashmir and Kerala. While in Kashmir they threaten to behead woman who violated the dress code. In northern parts of Kerala the Burka clad women strength had gone up from less than 10 % to over 30 %. I pity the women in Kerala who have to be covered from head to toe in that humid conditions and our India Today has no video on it.

Why are they showing so much interest in probing into the inconveniences of wearing “Saree” at workplace rather than talking about “Burka” that need to be worn by those poor women in Kerala the whole day in scorching heat of Sun???  

Is it their convenience???

1117. Waves of Beauty....!

Yesterday our Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi joined a huge congregation of women in Bengaluru who were there to recite Soundarya Lahari.

Sivananda Lahari (Waves of Auspicious Bliss) & Soundarya Lahari (Waves of Beauty) are the famous hymns in Sanskrit by Sri Sri Sankara framed to connote Advaita philosophy. Sivananda Lahari has no tantric references in them, those reading and understanding this great hymn will automatically get inner peace, steadfast mind and most importantly Jnana of Advaita. This religious verses are hundred in numbers. It is a poem in praise of Maharudradeva which also transforms the one who recites spiritually.

Soundarya Lahari also has one hundred verses. These verses refers to aesthetic value that is appreciation of beauty in context of the Absolute. This appreciation of that Absolute value is realised as Ananda (Bliss) experienced when Soundarya (Beauty) is understood objectively.

The first 41 verses is believed to have to be distinguished evidently according to its contents as pertaining to the world of inner Self. This part of Soundarya Lahari is to have basic platform on which human values could be rediscovered, rearranged, revalued and restated more normally and normatively.

The next 59 verses is that appreciation of Absolute value in terms of global perspectives of objective beauty of Mother.

Now, how could there be this divide in the scripting of the verses. There is an interesting legend to it, once Sri Sri Sankara visited Kailasa to worship Shiva and Shakti. There he was gifted with a manuscript containing 100 verses which describing various aspects of the Shiva & Shakti including their union. Nandi doing his duty as the security in-charge, interrupted the Acharya when he was bringing the manuscript and in the scuffle, Sri Sri Sankara managed to get hold on the first 41 verses. Shiva then commanded the Acharya to write the remaining 59 verses.

The first 41 are the original work of Shiva, showering light on the ancient technic of Mantra, Yantra and Tantra. They describe the mystical experience of the union of Shiva and Shakti and related phenomena and is called “Ananda Lahari”. The next 59 verses, composed by Sri Sri Sankara focuses mainly on the appearance of Mother.

The entire 100 verses are collectively called as “Soundarya Lahari”.

Friday, October 27, 2017

1116. A Simhavalokana on my Birthday!!!

A lion after strolling a distance looks back to examine where it is and what is around. This gesture by the lion is termed Simhavalokana. I think birthday is the juncture to look back in to what happened in life. Looking back would provide an opportunity to offer gratitude on this day to all those who travelled alongside in this journey of life.

I do take this opportunity to acknowledge my parents, the role they have played in making me the person I am today. As always I remember them as they brought me into this world. They are the loveliest people in my life. It might be an exaggeration for me to say so, but I also believe that everyone is provided with loveliest parents by God. The word “loveliest” according to me is because my parents were both strict and lenient according to the situation. This is what both my Nana and my Amma have done for us (me & my sister), really going out of their way to keep us comfortable and at the same time whenever they felt we need to learn a few lessons of life they have reprimanded us without hesitation of any sort. Thus they always encouraged, inspired, guided and also rebuked me so that I do better in life.

I am thankful for inheriting certain traits from my Nana like, being very open, frank, to stand up and voice for whatever is right, the never to give up in any kind of situation, the ability to laugh at myself, to forget all the disappointments and only think of the positives in my life, to always have a natural smile. His simplicity, value for money, has really rubbed itself on me too. It was my blessings that he made me understand at a very young age in my life that “Money does not grow on trees” and “Money need to be prised but not given prominence”.

My Amma carried me for nine months before giving birth to me, and took such good care of me later till she left us. With her health issues she was able to mould me and teach me a bit of cooking which came handy in the later days of my life. I still remember how she would play the role of a mediator and calm the nerves of my Nana when I had been mischief beyond barriers. One shortcoming though in my life is that I was not able to nurture my mother with the money I earned as an individual. I lost her when I had just entered into my professional college. She ingrained in me the approach to endure the hardship in life rather than to find means to escape them to my convenience.

I think there is a reason why all these loveliest beings were and are still a part of my life, and I thank my stars for given them as my parents and making my life so meaningful and wonderful.

I would like to specially thank my Akka who filled the place of my Amma in her absence, nurturing me, advising me, encouraging me, and inspiring in ways I cannot even imagine.

Then I have all my friends who were, are and will be with me forever.

I felt like acknowledging all those good people who brought in all good things into my life. it was the best way to make this 50th birthday of mine more meaningful......

Thursday, October 26, 2017

1115. Ancient Illusion Sculptures......!

We come across two ancient architects in our Puranas, Vishwakarma was the one who devoted his skills to Devas and Mayasura built for Danavas. While the city of Dwarka is credited to Vishwakarma, Mayasura is the architect of Golden Lanka.  There is an interesting story in Mahabharata in connection with “Maya Sabha” (Palace of Illusions) which was the seed for the Great War of Kurukshetra.

Once it is said that Agni (Fire God) had severe stomach pain and was advised to gulp Khandava Vana (Forest) which was rich in medicinal plants. Agni sought the help of Arjuna to oversee the task without any obstructions. Arjuna along with Sri Krishna stood guard while Agni burnt down the forest. In the forest lived Takshaka, a Naga (Serpent) King and with him was Mayasura his friend. Arjuna saved both from the soaring tongues of Agni.

As a sign of gratitude Mayasura gave a conch called Devadutta to Arjuna and asked him to request for anything else. By that time Pandavas were homeless after Lakshagraha (House of Lacquer) was burnt down by Duryodhana. Arjuna asked Mayasura to build a palace so that his elder brother Yudhisthira could perform Rajasuya yagya. Mayasura was known for his excellence in the art of illusionary architecture. He started building the palace which was filled with illusions.  It was built with numerous pillars which were concealed by cascades. Walls were decorated with gems and precious stones to look like creepers filled with ever blooming flowers. It was so artistically designed that it created illusions of all seasons in one room. 

As one walked on the floor in intervals there would be an illusion of waterbed, which was not to be there. The floor in some places reflected the ceilings and in some places there was a feel of looking at a gorge. Some of the walls were transparent and some of the windows gave an illusion of being opened but they were merely reflecting the outside world onto their surface.

The entire Maya Sabha was weird and a crazy place and Pandavas performed the Rajasuya Yagna in it. Kauravas were invited and Duryodhana was stunned looking at the engineering marvel. While walking on the floor he found a pond and was taking a contour route and to his disbelief he saw some men walking over the pond. Surprised and in the state of incredulity that he was, he encountered another waterbed and thinking it to be like the one he just found, he stepped on it and fell into the water. 

Draupadi who was watching him from her quarters laughed at him and that’s when Duryodhana took a vow that he will take revenge of the humiliation. The seed of hatred towards Pandavas started to sprout. 

Even to this day we have artisans who create sculptures like we have had the “Vrishabha Kunjara” an interesting piece of artwork with head of Bull and Elephant in common. A dancer sculpted in three different angles with same torso and three different limbs. A dancer and two of her musicians share four legs.

Creativity at the best….!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1114. Ego and Self-Respect...!

Sri Krishna assures Arjuna that “Whenever there is a decline in Dharma (Virtuous), and a rise in Adharma (Vicious), then do I manifest myself, O Bhaarata”.

Sri Krishna says he will uphold Dharma as well as vanquish Adharma. How will he do the dual act??? The individual who is on the path of Dharma could be pulled towards Adharma. The main reason could be when he confuses Ahankara (Ego) with Swabhimana (Self-Respect). The distinctive vision with His grace tells us that Swabhimana (Self-Respect) always drives an individual to thrive for self-satisfaction and with Ahamkara (Ego) the individual always look for means to manipulate or exploit to self-absorption. One may ask Swabhimana turn out to be Ahankara???

Swabhimana and Ahankara are two different traits which need to be addressed differently. By puffing up Swabhimana one can cross the line and enter into Ahamkara realm. At the same time while taming the Ahankara one may crush the Swabhimana. How can we bring in the balance???

When I watch Sri Krishna as Bala Gopala doing Kaalinga Narthana (Dance on the Snake Hood), I get to understand how to strike the balance. River Yamuna was poisoned by Kaalinga the giant snake and the cattle that drank its water attained instantaneous death. On being apprised of their plight little Krishna came to the spot and jumped on the hoods of Kaalinga and stated dancing on its hood. He held the tail of that massive in one of his tiny left hands and in his right he assured Abhaya (Fearlessness). Astonishingly as his delicate feet stamped on one hood the other raised, in all that enormous snake had six hoods. The Ahamkara is so it manifests as Arishadvargas (Six Passions of Mind) namely Kama (Desire), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed). Moha (Attachment), Mada (Pride) and Matsarya (Envy). When one is kept under control the other springs out.  

Sri Krishna is seen stumping the hood which represents Ahamkara and at the same time He is holding its tail high which is its Swabhimana. He is punishing the head which had spit the venom into the Yamuna and is caressing the tail. This is His dual act at the same time.       

Sunday, October 22, 2017

1113. Real Tipu.....please stand up!!!

History sometimes becomes ambiguous due to the fact that the interpretation of those who have seen the event would have recorded it according to their perception. Though the historical events articulated as stories of many Kings do not alter much, there was one ruler in Deccan who was hated in one region and had earned respect in the other.   

Tipu Sultan is hated in the Malabar and Kodagu region while in Mysore region he had earned respect, though he was not revered or adored.

Hyder Ali, father of Tipu captured the throne of Mysore in a treacherous way from Immadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. His queen Lakshmi Ammani Devi constantly made efforts to restore and started negotiation with the British. Enemy’s enemy is a friend they say. The then Pradhan of Wodeyar, Tirumala Iyengar helped her and hence Hyder Ali imprisoned of relatives of Tirumala Iyengar who were called Mandyam Iyengars who lived near Melkote.

When Tipu came to know about Tirumala Iyengar talking to British, Tipu decided to massacre the Iyengars who were living in Melkote on Naraka Chaturdashi day. When all Mandyam Iyengars were immersed in Deepavali celebrations, Tipu’s men entered Melkote and massacred at least 800 people including women and children. Then on Naraka Chaturdashi became a black day in the history those survivors of Mandyam Iyengars belonging to Bharadwaja gothra. 

Some feel that Tipu fought against British and brand him a freedom fighter. This is not true he was surely an ambitious ruler who aimed at becoming Emperor of India which prompted him to convert Hindus to Islam religion.

Further we come to hear that he donated a lot to a Hindu temple. As I understand the history of Tipu, he had Purnaiah, a Brahmin as his dewan who advised him to take refuge in Sri Srikanteshwara Swamy at Nanjangudu when Tipu was facing hardship in this fag end days.

Once the favourite elephant of Tipu took ill and lost its sight, Tipu prayed to the presiding Deity and the elephant got back sight. Overwhelmed by the grace of the Deity, Tipu consecrated a Pachche (emerald) Linga adored it with Makara Kanti Hara. 
Tipu was never tolerant towards Hindus the circumstances made him revere the Deity at Nanjangudu nothing more. He is known for his atrocities in attacking temples in Kerala, the famous Guruvayur temple being one of them.

Ironically the descendents of Tipu are rickshaw pullers and daily wage works in Kolkata while my state  Government is planning to spend crores on Tipu Jayanthi celebrations.

Appeasement at the highest.....what say???

Saturday, October 21, 2017

1112.Intentions have always got to be Noble and Crystal Clear…………!

No matter how good your intentions are the world looks at your presentation, no matter how good your presentation is, Absolute look at the intentions behind it.

To impress others is most natural human instinct and basically those acts of impressing are moreover inclined towards concealed intentions. These intentions sprout out thoughts and those thoughts lead to actions. If the intentions are noble then the thoughts are nobler and much nobler will be the actions. While noble actions produce external result of success, the noble intentions produce the internal result of peace. Any action without the backing of a noble intention is unjustifiable. 

How do these intentions shape up in us? The intentions are cause either by the impressions that are latent in our unconscious mind or they get triggered by the influence of the external world like the opinions of others and/or our own limiting convictions. These intentions are in fact like the foundation base for a strong character to develop over it. Amazingly this foundation base could be formed with our conscious aware of it or without our conscious knowing about it also.

If we are unaware of these we may sometime end up living by default and will not know what and why we are doing. This is not a good feel at all. This happens when our intentions are influenced by outside sources and the result is that we feel stuck or detached or entrapped by such influence. In contrast if the intentions are guided by our self then they become the infrastructure of our life. By observing the intentions which are noble and crystal clear we can live a more conscious, mindful life.

Outside a village at the edge of a forest lived an old sage who sat into meditation for hours and remained calm, still, and silent. During his period of meditation, the pigeons and doves would just climb up and down playfully all over him. The birds just loved his presence and were fascinated by the bright aura that emanated from his body.

Seeing this wonderful sight, one day a hunter came to the sage. He told the sage that he was unable to have a good catch for the last few days and his family was starving. He told the sage to catch one or two pigeons so that he can cook them and feed his family. At first the sage was very hesitant, but after looking at the plight of the poor hunter, the sage agreed. He told the hunter that he will catch a pigeon for him the next day.

The next day morning, the hunter came to the sage. As usual the sage sat down and started his meditation. The hunter was watching the sage. Surprisingly, not a single bird came near the sage. They didn't even come into the direction where the sage was sitting. The sage waited for quite some time and the birds clearly avoided his boundary.

The sage got up and started walking away. The hunter came running to the sage and asked

“Why, what happened? Not a single bird came near you today?”

The sage replied, “Every day I come here to meditate with full of positive intentions and the birds get attracted towards those positive vibrations. But today, when I came here my intention was to catch the birds. This clearly was a negative intention; meditation was only namesake, so the energy field within me was not positive. The birds were able to sense it and hence they did not come near me.”

If you are intentions are not noble and are filled with negativity, then the positivity in the action you do will suffer.

Monday, October 16, 2017

1111. Miracle at the Sanctum....!

This temple is opened only for a few days in a year during the Hindu lunar calendar month of Ashwija. The temple will be opened on Ashwija Bahula  Ashtami (Today) and is closed a day after Balipadyami in Karthika. The devotees will have the opportunity to have the darshana of the deity only for eight days, excluding the first and the last days. The temple is in Hassana District Karnataka. The diety here is Hassanambha. The original name was Simhassanambha which later on became Hassanambha. The place also which should have been Simhassana became Hassana.

The Sthalapurana (Legend of the place) says that once Saptamatrikas (Brahmi, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi) came to south of India they were taken aback by the beauty of Malnadu and decided to make it their home forever. Thus all the eight deities settled at this place. Maheshwari, Kaumari, and Vyshnavi took residence in the three anthills inside the sanctum; Brahmi in Hosakote (Fort) nearby; while Indrani, Varahi and Chamundi chose the three wells in Devigere (Pond).

The uniqueness of this temple is that the Nandaa Deepa (a ghee lit lamp) which is lit at the time of closing the tenple burns through out the year, with the ghee never depleting. Also the Anna naivedya (rice offering) made at the time of closing the tenple stays warm and unspoiled when the door is open again, a year later.

The temple is closed by building a wall at the entrance of the sanctum using bricks and cement mortar only to be demolished after an year.

In our science class we have studied that for a lamp to stay burning supply of air is necessary and flames get doused in vacuum. For the edible item to remain fresh for longer period it is necessary for us to create vacuum by siphoning air out of its container.

Here at this temple lamp burns because of the air within the sanctum and yet the rice offering made is not turned stale due to the presence of air. Some things happen beyond the explanation of science and that is what we are unable to comprehend.

The temple is Hasanamba Temple at Hassan district, Karnataka. Hassan is 183 Kms from Bengaluru. The Hasanamba Temple houses the presiding deity of Hassan, Goddess Hasanamba. She has been given that name as she is perceived to be ever smiling, bestowing all riches on her devotees. The town too, derives its name from her. Earlier it was called Simhasanapuri, however, after the Goddess Hasanamba started residing here, it was renamed Hasana (Hassan).

Yesterday we had been to have the darshana of the deity and the ever burning lamp.

Jai Hasanamba!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

1110. Bhang....Bang on!

Our guide at Chittorgarh fort while explaining the heroics of the Rajput solders mentioned that it was a practice then for the solders to consume “Bhaang.” He went on to tell that they consumed the herb before the combat so that it smoothens the nerves to reduce the impact of pain. He asked me if I had any knowledge of it. I said I knew about it but had never seen it. In a flash he fished out a small packet from his pocket and showed me a lump of green substance which looked like a finely ground leaf mixture. “Bhaang toh Bolenath ki Prasad hote hai, hum use Mahadev Ka Prasad mankar lethe hai,” (Bhaang is the offering to Shiva, we consume it as His oblation) he said.

Our next destination after Chittorgarh Fort was Nathadwara to have darshan of Shri Sreenath ji. As we came out of the temple after the darshan I saw a “Thandai” shop. It served cold drink prepared by grinding almonds fennel seeds, watermelon seeds, rose petals, peepers, cardamom, saffron and sugar and adding with milk. When I got there I came to know that the “Thandai” has another ingredient to go with it, it is “Bhaang” I ordered a glass of Bhaang Thandai, the thandaiwala asked me if I tried it before. Looking at my despondent reply he said he will add only a little quantity of it to the drink. That was my first experience of having Bhaang.

Now, what is this Bhaang? This was the question that creeped into my mind. For the answers I hit Google, here is the list of what I came to know about “Bhaang”

Atharvaveda mentions five sacred plants on earth among which Bhang finds place. The other four being Ashwatta (Ficus Religiosa), Darbha (Desmostachya Bipinnata), Soma (Amanita Muscaria), Bhang (Cannabis Sativa) and Rice (Oryza Sativa). This Bhang is also referred to as a “source of happiness” or “joy-giver”. Ayurveda recognizes the medicinal value of this plant and is called the “Penicillin of Ayurvedic medicine”

The only blunder to think that Bhang is a bad substance is that it is mistaken to be “Ganja”. We all know that plants are categorised as male and female depending on its ability to sprout flower buds. Ganja is the one which sprout flower bud and produce resin very high in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) this THC is responsible for Psychological effects. Bhang prepared from the leaves of a male plant which do not have flower buds comprising mostly of leaves where the THC level is low compared to Ganja.

As this Bhang is associated with Shiva and Parvathi, it is said that Parvathi alone could control the perturbation of Shiva and hence she created this herb to control him in her absence. In North India those leaves are treated like Bhilva and offered to Shiva Linga.

As per our Ayurveda, Bhang is one of the most effective and natural medicine ever available to mankind that can cure diseases, wounds and neurological or nervous disorder. Before Auragazeb banned the cultivation of this herb, we Indians used it in treatment of nausea, chronic vomit, fever and sunstroke.

More research needs to be done on this herb......will we!

Friday, October 13, 2017

1109. Rani Padmavati...!

Before the trailer release of the movie Padmavati our group was lucky enough to step foot on the famous Chittorgarh Fort.

This fort was originally called Chitrakut and was buit by Chitrangada Mori of a Rajput clan which claim descent from Solar dynasty. It is believed that Bhimasena of Mahabharatha had stuck the ground which resulted in water springing out to form a large reservoir (The one in the photo). We were told by our guide that this water body which is called Bhimlat Kund was the place where Padmavati took bath after pass through an underground tunnel which connected her royal harem to the kund. After bath she would offer prayer at a temple near the kund.

The history of the fort states that the Gurjara-Pratihara Empire ruled what is marked as Iron Age of Indian Sub-continent between 7th and 11th centrury C.E. Guhilas of Mewar were Vassals to this dynasty which later on split into Rawal and Sisodia. While Rawal under Bappa Rawal ruled from Chittorgarh, the Sisodias under Rana Kumbha ruled from Kumbalgarh.

In the year 1303 Rawal King Ratan Singh was ruling from Chittorgarh fort. He heard about the beauty of Padmavati who was exceptionally beautiful princess from Singhal Kingdom (do not know if it is a Srilankan Kingdom as many insist). After an adventurous quest he married her and brought her to Chittorgarh.

The Turkic ruler of Delhi Allauddin Khilji who was a womeniser also heard about her beauty was obsessed with the desire to obtain her. He attacked Chittorgarh but could not enter the fort and hence made a peace pact with Ratan Sen. He invited the King to his tent. Thereafter Allauddin cunningly detained the King and sought barter with Padmavati.

Gora and Badal Sonegra, the uncles of Padmavati spun a plan and agreed to send Padmavati to Allauddin as an exchange to their King, but along with her maids. Palanquins which were supposed to carry women ferried 700 brave soilders in them. The army attacked the tents and released the King and took him back to the fort.

Engraged Allauddin attacked the fort again and after fighting for more two months the Rajput army could not resist the invasion. The valiant Rajput men shouting “Jai Eklingji” faught bravely till death outside the fort while the women thousands in number led by Padmavati performed Jauhar (Self-Immolation on a pyre). They jumped into the fire so that they are not forced upon by Allauddin and his army.

Do not know if a few would agree with the decision Padmavati had taken at that time. When I read an article in "The Quint" authored by Ms.Urmi Bhattacheryya, I could sense the change in the mindset from those times and now. In the write up the author urges not to glorify Padmavati for choosing honor over life. So some feel that she should have submitted herself to Allauddin and save the King and the Kingdom. Maybe for her as they say in Kannada “Pranakkinta maana doddadu” (Honour is greater than life). 

When she was approached by Rathan Singh she submitted herself to him but she could not do so to Allauddin, she very clearly knew the difference between Love and Lust. 

Let us see what version our SLB will serve us.....!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

1108. Ban on Fireworks....!

Ban on Firecrackers by our highest court has multiple reasons one of which is Air Pollution and second is that the noise from firecrackers scare pets. The third is the injuries caused to eye. Apart from these I was amazed when I read that a few NGO’s were calling for boycott of fireworks this Deepavali through misleading information that “Fireworks were recent invention and never a part of our ancient culture” 

I do agree with the pollution menance due to fireworks but i do not agree with the statement that we people of Bharathavarsha are new to fireworks. 

Fireworks comprises of three main pyrotechnic compositions firstly Potassium Nitrate also called Saltpetre which our ancients knew as “Agnichurna” in Sanskrit. In Ayurveda it is called "Suvarnalavana" akin to Rock Salt, used for preparing medicine for indigestion.

Then there is Sulphur which is called “Gandhaka” in Sanskrit. It is a yellow powder which when ignited gives out fumes and smoke. I do remember when I was in school my Mama (Mother’s Brother) used to pour sulphur on a plank and set fire to it. It was to get rid of the hairy caterpillar group which had infested the castor grove behind out home. At those times Sulphur was used as insecticide and it was a beautiful sight to see the fumes and smoke. We were never rebuked about pollution then.

The third component is charcoal which is “Angharaka” in Sanskrit and we all have used charcoal at some stage. 

It is believed that the fireworks mixture has it origin in our country and this knowledge spread to east gradually. Firecrackers had different names in different regions such as Pataka, Vedi, Ateeshbazi etc. So in short our ancients did have the tradition of fireworks and it is very much in our culture. The celebrations at temples would not end without fireworks which is still practiced in Kerala and Tamil Nadu temples even today.

Air Pollution due to firecrackers is just a fraction compared to Carbon dioxide emitted by our vehicles, Sulphur dioxide released by factories and Chlorofluorocarbon discharged by our air-conditioners and refrigerators daily.

Why is fireworks alone targeted, I wonder. I do agree that it can be avoided but only from the view point of pollution, not just because some moronic organization say that it is not in our culture or tradition.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

1107. What is Pleasure???

Duryodhana refuses to part with five villages to Pandavas, King Dhritarasthra was depressed he sought the help of Mahatma Vidhura to advise him on the Dharma (Righteousness). The dialogues between Vidhura and Dhritarasthra is compiled and tittled “Vidhura Gita.” This text is generally referred to as “Vidhura Neethi” it comprises maxims of right conduct, fairplay and the art of governing and politics.

Explaining about the Sukha (Pleasures) that mortals experience in their lifespan, Mahatma Vidhura zero in on six components. Vidhura identifies six sources to experience pleasure in this corporeal world. Artha Agama (Flow of Revenue), Nityam Arogita (Incessant Good Health), Priyashcha bharya Priya vadini (Beloved and Pleasant speaking Wife), Vashyashcha Putro (Obedient Children) and finally Arthakari Vidya (Useful Knowledge) are the six means to experience pleasure in life.

Refering to the first component Mahatma Vidhura categorically suggests flow of revenue rather than Sampat (Wealth). Net worth in assests can never match the revnue flow. Liquidity is often a better indication of financial health than net worth. Regular cash flow alone is the one which can keep us in comfort zone.

The second in the list is continual good health. We may occasional have cold, fever, headache or body pain and that is not considered sickness. Here Vidhura is mentioning about any regular illness or permanent ailment, something that requires frequent visit to hospital. Even if all other sources of pleasures are available an unhealthy person cannot be in comfort as his mind is experiencing uneasiness.

The third and fourth is a combination of beloved and pleasant speaking wife. Note that here Vidhura is talking to King Dhritarasthra hence he uses the word “Bharya” (Wife). If he was addressing Gandhari maybe he would have used the word “Bharta” (Husband). The tone of the voice should never be harsh when the couple talk to each other. Voice should be sweet so as the words used. Some meet all the requirements of being a good spouse, but there is an unnecessary Ugrata (Acrimony) in their words when they talk to their spouse. While some spouses do not give a straight answer to any question and the answer is always in the form of a counter question. A harsh spouse will make life miserable even if she/he is considered to be beloved.

Next is to have obedient children, which King Dhritarasthra was deprived with. He had a misfortune of surrendering to the wishes of his eldest son rather than having his son under his control. Children have to be given independence and should be allowed to decide on their own. But the decision which they take should not be a cause for discomfort to parents. Parents find life miserable if they are to lead a life obedient to their own children. An excellent bond we develop with our children and children who show deference to their parents is a vital component for experiencing pleasure in life.

Finally the knowledge acquired by a person during his life time should be useful to him as well as to the society. We might have taken considerable time and resources to gain knowledge. If the knowledge so acquired is not used for the benefit of self and the society, it is a colossal waste. To gain knowledge is itself a fortune and to use it is wisdom. A wise person always experiences comfy.

With this six components Mahatma Vidhura has made easy for us to evaluate ourselves against these benchmarks and decide where we stand; whether we are pleased or displeased or somewhere in between.....

Monday, October 9, 2017

1106. Hazrath Khawja Gharib Nawaz.....!

I was wondering what the abbreviation of K.G.N & H.K.G.N is, whenever I saw it written on the transport vehicles. Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (K.G.N) & Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (H.K.G.N) is the eulogy of the Great Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisti, who is equally revered by Muslims and Hindus. Thousands of devotees visit the famous Dargah (Tomb) at place called Dargah Shariff situated at Ajmer. Khwaja Gharib Nawaz means Benefactor of the Needy.

When we planned our tour itinerary for Jaipur we did not forget to include Ajmer Shariff. Also we had Puskhar Temple which we had visited, the only temple dedicated to Brahma. We took bath at the Puskhar lake and after paying our obeisance at Brahma Temple, we headed towards Ajmer which is 16 Kms.

Ajmer is very picturesque flanked by the Aravalli mountain range. The Dargah looks massive with a white embodiment of circular dome. Our vehicle was to big for the narrow lanes of the place we had to hire a share auto to find way to dargah of Garib Nawaz. Dargah has a huge gate and just outside the main gate we can find numerous shops selling Chadar, pink Rose flowers, incense sticks to offer at the Dargah.

Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the “Khwaja Saheb” or the living spirit as he is fondly called attracts not only the muslims as the place ought to be but the people of all faiths and religion. We could see people from all faiths and creed here the moment we started walking towards the Dargah.

As we entered the holy place, as the convention goes we had to cover our head with a scarf. When we entered the place, the only thing we had noticed was the tomb covered in its various decorations and the serenity. Inside the Dargah we found attendants helping devotees to offer the Chadar, rose flower and incense. The place was little crowded yet every individual had space for himself. Once outside the Dargah we could see people in small groups listening to qawwali praising the Saint, and also a few of them chanting the holy name using seeds of dates as counting abacus.

It is said that Emperor Akbar and his queens used to pay their obeisance to this great Saint. This Sufi Saint is blessing many since eons.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

1105. Karva Chauth.....

Only if the husband is also willing to fast for the wellbeing of the wife, should the wife observe Karva Chauth” wrote an English newspaper a few years back. The writer could be talking about the reciprocation between husband and wife. In that sense it is very much necessary for both to have a good mutual understanding. 

The mutual understanding which do not let either if them go past the other. When the marriage is solemnized the mantra which the output utters also mean the same “Dharmecha Arthecha Kamecha Naathicharami“. (I promise stand with you in Dharma, Artha and Kama, will never outdistance you).

This mantra is not mentioning about the kind of duty but it is relating to the responsibility in carrying out the duty. If the husband is working outside as professional even so is the wife doing her duty professionally inside the home. We should not be amazed even if the roles of the husband and wife interchange.

If a husband gets up from sleep in the morning and wife provides him hot streaming coffee it should show her Love towards him. If she happens to question herself if she is a slave, then the relationship they hold get murky. Likewise the husband too should acknowledge the love and affection she is showering in him instead of merely considering her to have come to do the chores at the home.

Husband and wife have to make the home the best place to live. It happens only if they mutually consider themselves as King and Queen, not a slave and master.
In “Peddarayudu” a telugu movies there is a dialogue which goes thus- “The relationship between wife and husband should be like a fish and water but not fish and fisherman”.

Karva Chauth is one ritual which bonds the relationship be it wife taking up fasting for the wellbeing of her husband or the husband reciprocating to the wife with love.

May this Karva Chauth bring the husband and wife closer and closer than before.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

1104 Jantar Mantar, Jaipur...!

Aryabhatta, Baskaracharya and Varahamihira were the first and famous mathematicians and astronomers who gave us the science of astronomy and astrology in prose form.

It was in the early 18th century, the Rajput ruler of Amber, Maharaja Jai Singh constructed five astronomical monuments called Jantar Mantar (Jantar is from the Sanskrit word “Yantra,” meaning “Instrument,” as does Mantar from “Mantra,” meaning formula) in Delhi, Mathura, Varanasi, Ujjain and Jaipur. What is more amazing about these astronomical monuments is that one can keep track of all the Celestial Bodies from here. Yes by that time Galileo had invented telescope and even before the invention of telescope our ancient knew a lot about the solar system.

Maharaja Jai Singh who was a Rajput Mughal Commander had keen interest in Astronomy an Astrology. It is that interest which has made the Jantar Mantar sit pretty within City Palace compound of Jaipur and during our visit, we had the opportunity to spend a quiet & reflective afternoon among those beautiful structures.

Jantar Mantar has been declared as one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and rightfully so. It is a architectural astronomical marvel, working perfectly even to the present day. The observatory has 14 astronomic structures, which are not only large in size, but built from solid stone & marble. We were told by our guide that the scale to which they have been built has been to increase the accuracy in calculations.

Our guide showing us around knew a lot about how measurements work and how to make calculations. He explained to us how the Sundial can show us the time by the shadow of a pointer cast by the Sun on to a plate marked with the hours, minutes and seconds of the day.

What really interested me was the individual constellation device for different Sun signs. Also there was an instrument which could inform us the zodiac sign of the month. Yet another yantra as they are called, give us the information of the Lagna (Ascendant) for the prediction of destined future of an individual.

The Nakshtras (Celestial Stars) which according to our astronomers are 27 in number and are divided into 13.33° segments. And we have 12 Zodiac signs which are divided into 30° segments. All these astronomical measurements can be calculated using those massive monuments.

Jantar Mantar is a nice place to visit if you are in Jaipur and it is really well preserved, no doubt it is a World Heritage site, we did not know about this bit of information. And, just when I started writing this post, we were on the way to Amber Palace which is also is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The mirror work on the ceiling at Amber Palace to make it look like glowing stars when a beam of light is flashed on it..... is simply amazing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

1103. Sreenath ji of Nathadwara.

Thakur ji as He is fondly called is one of the many forms of Krishna. 

Srimad Bhagavatam illustrates an episode wherein Krishna as a young boy lifted Govardhangiri to protect the inhabitants of Brindavan from torrential downpour. The most ancient description of this deity appears in the Girirajakhanda of the Garga Samhita, He has been referred to as Devadaman Shreenath.

Shreenath ji gives darshan on a large black stone with his left hand raised and the right bunged in a fist. The idol is treated like a young boy by the priest and they tend to Him daily with normal activities like bathing, dressing offering bhog called “prasada” and give Him a little rest at regular intervals.

The idol is decorated with fine intricately woven silk cloth with zari work done on them along with lots of gems of antique value. The view of the idol which we get to see after the “Pardha” (curtain) is removed is a spectacular sight that is simply mesmerizing and enchanting.

The legends have it that the image of the Shreenathji was being transferred to safer place from Jatipura (Goverdhan Hill) near Mathura to hid it from the destructive wrath of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. When the image reached a certain spot the bullock carts wheel sank deep in the mud and refused to move further. The accompanying priest realized that this was the chosen spot and the image did not want to travel any further.

Accordingly a temple was built there, the Haveli of Shreenathji as the temple is called, was once a part of Mewar State, which was ruled by Sisodia Kings.

Shreenathji is referred to with the honorific Thakur ji in local area and customarily the name Shreenathji is not uttered as a matter of respect and reverence.

Jai Shree Krishna.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

1102. Dilwara Temple, Mount Abu...!

King Koushika wanted the wish fulfilling cow Nandini which was with Vashishta. Nandini was gifted by Indra so that the needs of the guests who arrive at the hermitage can be taken care. Nandini had the ability to serve food to thousands at one go.
The logic which King gave was the cow could be put to use better at the palace than in the hermitage. After a fierce battle between the soldiers of King Koushika and the army which came out of Nandini to defend her, in this melee Nandini fell in a lake. Vashishsta prayed the God for help.
Immediately there appeared mighty snake which threw itself into the lake. The force of the fall emptied the lake water so that Nandini could walk out of the lake. The mount on which the lake was emptied of its water was named “Arbudachala” after the snake Arbuda.

Mount Abu, is now the hill station situated at the southern tip of the Aravalli hill range. The highest peak on the mountain is Guru Shikhara, which is the highest point. Mount Abu is one of the major pilgrimage destinations in Rajasthan. One can get a panoramic view of the whole region from here. On the top is a cave which has a temple dedicated to Guru Dattatreya an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu & Maheshwara.
Also we had the darshan of a natural occurring shiva linga at Achaleshwara Mahadev Temple. At the sanctum is Linga which is revered as the big toe of Mahadeva. The temple has a beautiful brass Nandi.
Out next stop was at Dilwara temple is constructed in 11th century using only marble stone. The carvings are exquisite the minuteness in the carving is unimaginable. All the ceiling carvings are absolutely stunning. Though the best among the best was the Narasimha rip opening the stomach of Hiranyakashyapa. We were not allowed to take pictures of the carvings, but fortunately I could download the pic.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

1101. Rajput Maharana.....

Our Indian history boasts of many Kings who gallantly fought wars and even laid down their lives for the sake of their kingdom and people. One among them is the Lion of Mewar. We were at Udaipur palace yesterday and our guide was telling us about the famous Mewar King, Maharana Pratap Singh of Chittor. He holds a unique place among the heroes of Mewar. He was a descendant of Sisodia dynasty od Suryavanshi lineage.
Maharana was contemporary to Akbar and it was the time when Akbar had established Mughal supremacy in India and no one dared waging war against him. The Rajput Kings had surrendered before Akbar and even some had given their sisters and daughters in marriage to the Mughal czar to build compromise. At such a time, Maharana Pratap Singh alone stood defying the Mughal empire and even ridiculing the overtures for friendship with them. The Lion of Mewar would not make friends with invaders and infiltrators.
He had his capital at Chittor and a fort on a hill ruling over a tribe called Bhils and other hilly tribes. He did not covet for furthering the frontiers of his kingdom. He did not want to attack other kingdoms to extend his empire. He was only interested in peace and prosperity of his subjects. But he was never allowed to live peacefully by the Mughals. Every now and then they would attack Chitoor.
Once a large army contingency under an able army chiefs was sent by Akbar to subdue the Lion of Mewar. Maharana's own younger brother, Shakti Singh who had differences with Rana had gone over to the side of the enemy. Maharana collected his army of handful of soldiers and came out of Chittor fort to face the enemy in the battlefield of Haldighati.
A fierce battle ensued and the Rajputs and Bhils fought with unparalleled bravery. The Mughal soldiers who supported the Rajputs were taken aback at the unmatched fighting skills of Maharana's army. The battle went on till each and every soldier of the Chittor army was martyred. Chetak, the loyal & royal horse of Maharana wanted to take away its master to safety. Though it had lost one of its leg, with only three legs it carried Maharana out of the battlefield. After leaping the 22 foot river it fell dead. The Battle of Haldighati was a futile victory for the Mughals, as they were unable to oust Maharana.
It was the worst phase of life for Maharana. He had to wander in the forest hiding in the hills. One day a few people from Chittor came to see him and among them was Bhama Shah.Bhama Shah was a great general, adviser, minister of Mewar Kings. He laid all his money, ornaments and jewels at Maharana’s feet and requested him to organise an army. Very reluctantly, the Maharana accepted the offer and with the help of freshly organised army recaptured his kingdom.
The history which our guides at the Udaipur palace and the Kumbalgarh fort told us was enthralling. We could realise that there are only few daredevils like Maharana and only a few loyals like Chetak and Bhama Shah.
Jai Ho Maharana.