Summer Solstice

An important astronomic event happens every year in the month of June. This event is an important time marker in our lives.

Sun’s Movement

As we know, the earth is tilted on its axis by 23.4 degrees. Because of this tilt and the revolution of the earth around the sun, we perceive the sun to be moving northwards and southwards between the 2 latitudes, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, successively, in its annual six monthly journey each way.

Uttarayan & Dakshinayan

On June 21st of every year, our sun reaches the northern end of its journey at the Tropic of Cancer and transits into its journey southwards towards the tropic of Capricorn. The northern journey of the sun is known UttarayanUttar meaning north and the Southern Journey is called DakshinayanDakshin meaning southward.

Sun – Still

21st June is the day the sun reaches the northern most point of its journey and seems to be stationary on that day at the Tropic of Cancer. It is called the Summer Solstice. Sol meaning “Solar, Sun” and stice meaning “stationary”.

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Summer Solstice

Longest Day

For the people living in the northern hemisphere, this consequently happens to be the longest day of the year.

Mid Summer Day

 It is the mid summer day. A month before and after this day is peak summer in the northern hemisphere. This season in Indian languages is known as Greeshma Rthu, Greeshma meaning warm or hot. That is why we have the Hindi word ‘garam’ for hot.

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Hot Summer day

Sun temples

In commemoration of this day, we have many sun temples in India. There is a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude along the tropic of Cancer, where the sun seems stationary for a few days.

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Sun Temples along tropic of Cancer

Stonehenge in England

Summer solstice has been celebrated at Stonehenge in England from Pagan days.

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Stonehenge, England

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Stonehenge celebrations, England

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Stonehenge in England map

Midsummer

In modern days, this day is observed as Midsummer all across Europe.  It is also called St John’s day. Bonfires are lit to celebrate the hottest period of the year.

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Midsummer celebrations with Bonfire at Alesund, Norway

Shakespear Drama

William Shakespeare, the celebrated English playwright has written a drama called Mid Summer Night’s Dream, relating to this day.

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  William Shakespeare                                                                                   The Book

Other names in other parts

The day is similarly celebrated in other parts of the world under different names.

Festival

Country

Tiregan

Iran

Kapala Night

Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia

Wianki

Poland

Juhannus

Finland

Jani

Latvia

Saint Jonas’ Festival

Lithuania

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Lights lit for Tiregan festival in Iran                                  Kapala Night fire works in Poland

World Ocean Day

The World Ocean Day was declared by the United Nations on June 8th, 2008, to honour the biggest water bodies of the ‘Blue Planet’.

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Earth, The Blue Planet

Ocean, major Habitat

Oceans and Seas are the major habitat of this planet, covering most of the earth.

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The Ocean

They are home to varied species of flaura and fauna.

In Indian language, an Ocean is called Mahasagar, the great water body.

Sagar is sea. Sa meaning “Good” and Grha, Ghar, ‘home’, referring to Oceans being a good home to many creatures.

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Sagar is ghar, home to many creatures

The word Samudra is also used for Oceans. Sam means collection and udra means water. Samudra is the largest collection of water on Earth.

The Oceans are also the major route for international trade.

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Major Shipping Sea Routes

Perils facing Ocean

The pollution of Oceans has dwindled many species of fishes and other aquatic creatures. The dumping of wastes in Oceans and Seas is the cause. Many beaches and shores are strewn with garbage. Oil pollution, caused by various offshore drilling accidents, harm marine life and ocean ecosystems.  We are also trawling away with huge nets the life of Oceans itself.

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Ocean Pollution

Awareness on Ocean Protection

There are around 1600 ocean sustenance organizations under the banner of World Ocean Network that come together and organize events on this Ocean day, to raise awareness on ocean protection. Many educational programs, contests and film festivals are held to this effect.

Indian Ocean

India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the South, the only Ocean named after a country, the other oceans being the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean.

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Indian Ocean
Img: Courtesy Wikipedia

Samudra Manthan

There is an interesting legend associated with the Ocean in Indian legends – Samudra Manthan, the churning of the Ocean.

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Samudra Manthan

In the legend of Samudra Manthan, during churning, apart from Amrit, the pot of immortal nectar, many other things also came out of the Samudra.  Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth, emerged from the Samudra, followed by kalpa vrksha, the symbolizing perennial youthfulness, Kamadhenu the fulfiller of all wishes, Hala hala, the  poison and host of other things both beneficial and detrimental.

This expresses to us, as to what we can draw from the ocean.

A Symbol of prosperity

Oceans symbolize source of prosperity and also immortality in the Indian tradition.

It is the oceans that create dissolution on earth. There is a continuous cycle of dissolution and regeneration going on in the Universe. The process of dissolution is called Pralaya, when waters-oceans or fire engulf everything.

The World Ocean Day is an opportunity to sensitize ourselves to Oceans and Seas and honour the greatest resource of this planet.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day was instituted by the United Nations in the year 1972, to raise awareness among people on environment protection.

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Man is a part of environment. Every being that forms the environment needs to survive be it humans, animals, birds and plants.

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 Environment

Present Actions, Future Environment

The environment that we live in today is product of our past actions. What we do today, creates our future environment. Thus, it is vital, that our actions are not detrimental to environment.

 Man, a Virus

Every creature on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment.

Unfortunately modern man does not! Humans move to an area and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed and the only way they could then survive is to spread to a different area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. It is the virus.

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A scathing comparison. By his mindless actions, man is killing his environment.

The pollution of land, water, air. The trees making way for concrete jungles in the name of development, have become the norm of the day.

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Environment Pollution

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Concrete Jungle

 Urgent need to save environment

From inhabitants we have become custodians of our planet and now some have taken it further to the ‘gang-rape’ of our environment.

The UN theme

The UN comes up with a theme every year, to help focus on various aspects of environment and its protection.

Think Eat Save

The theme for the year 2013 was, ‘Think, Eat, Save’, highlighting, ‘eating the right food, in right quantity, avoiding wastage, to save ourselves and our environment.’

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Theme 2014 – Islands

The theme this year is, ‘Small Islands Development’.

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 Islands, unique ecosystems

Islands form unique ecosystems with special flaura and fauna.  They form a key aspect of the environment and play an important role in ecology and its balance.

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Rare species of tortoises on Galapagos island

 According to present estimates, around 600 million live on islands, i.e, around 1/10th of the World population.

These islands are key to the livelihoods, well being and cultural identity of the 600 million people who live on it.

Island, Etymology

The word “island” is derived from the words ieg, meaning ‘slightly raised land surrounded by marshy, wet areas’. The word was later modified to island, referring to a land surrounded by water on all sides.

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An Island

 In Samskrt, the word Dwipa is used for an island.

 Mala Thivu, Maldives

Similarly, the Tamil word for an island is Thevu. Maldives is an island country in Indian Ocean. The name is actually derived from the words Mala Thivu. Mala meaning necklace and Thivu means islands. The name means ‘necklace of islands’.

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Male, the Island capital of Maldives

 Lakshadweep

The Lakshadweep islands of India, off the Malabar coast, in the Arabian Sea, as its name suggests,  is made up of a lakh of islands, laksh meaning, ‘Lakh’ and dwipa meaning ‘island’.

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Lakshadweep Islands

 Majauli Island

There are also many small islands on rivers across the world. Majauli island in Brahmaputra is one of the largest river islands in the world. It is a moving island, which is sadly shrinking.

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Majauli Island

Islands in Cauvery River

The famous Srirangam temple town near Tiruchirapalli, in Tamil Nadu, is an island in the Cauvery River.

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Srirangam Temple township located on Cauvery River

 Ranganthetu Bird sanctury

Ranganthetu bird sanctury near Mysore is also an island on the Cauvery River, thetu meaning ‘island’ in Kannada.

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Ranganthetu bird sanctury

Krishna Dwaipayana

It is interesting to note that the real name of Veda Vyasa, the compiler of Veda, is Krishna Dwaipayana, meaning, ‘Krishna the island born’. In this case the island of his birth was on the Yamuna River.

17 Krishna Dwaipayana, The Island Born

Thus, we see that there are many such islands not only in the seas and oceans, but also in rivers.

Continents are islands

In fact every continent is an island.These continents have been called as dwipa in the Purana.

The seven dwipa mentioned in the Purana are,

  1. Jambhu Dwipa

  2. Plaksha Dwipa

  3. Shalmali Dwipa

  4. Kusha Dwipa

  5. Krauncha Dwipa

  6. Shaka Dwipa

  7. Pushkara Dwipa

We need to understand the islands and the dangers they face. The global warming and sea level rise is one thing that could swallow the small islands.

Preserve islands

This Environment day resolve should be to preserve the small islands if we want to protect the large islands, the continents for our future generations.

An opportunity to sensitize ourselves and others about saving our environment.

Brand Bharat

Brand Bharat 2

 

Brand Bharat,

-          a brand that was popular for 2 Millennia,

-          a brand that evoked images of millions,

-          a brand worth millions.

 What is Bharat? Does this name have a meaning?

What did this Bharat produce to earn its millions?

What did Brand Bharat represent?

What gave it this brand image?

The exhilarated writings of Marco Polo, an Italian visitor who travelled to India in 1290 CE, created a Brand image of Bharat in terms of millions.

Millions of precious gems

Millions of gold coins

Millions of miles of fertile land

Millions of amazing people …

So much so that, he himself, in the process, got branded as “Marco Mille”, Mille the Latin word for Million.

What did Marco Polo see, that got him so excited as to brand this land as a ‘Land of Millions’?

Bharath Gyan is an endeavour to bridge the old and the new worlds through knowledge from the past, for the present and future. Founded by the couple, D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari, Bharath Gyan is 15 years of compilation of the knowledge and ethos of India from an interdisciplinary and wholistic perspective.

 “Brand Bharat”, as conceptualized by the Hari couple, will paint the picture of India and the pride of place it had held through millennia. It will delve into the ethos of the people that had kept it so, for millennium after millennium.  It will also touch briefly upon some of the reasons for the slide.

The impression that Brand Bharat will leave will be a new image of India, a new outlook on prosperity and a new sense of pride at being an Indian.

brand bharat 4

Jala Krida Ekadasi

Images of Krishna stealing the clothes of women when they bathed in the river and they begging Him to give their clothes back, have been imprinted onto the minds of many with the colourful stories woven around them.

 This scene has been ridiculed by many and some have even derogatorily mentioned it as being voyeuristic. This incident warrants a philosophical look in.

jala kreeda

Krishna’s Jala Kreeda, a popular illustration

The word Kreeda means play, game, sport. The word Jala normally means water. The word Jala can also be split into two where ja stands for jananam, “birth” and la is for layam, “to melt”, that which leads to pralayam, “dissolution”.

Jananam and Pralayam, form a rhythm, a cycle that is represented by each and every body in the Universe. The meaning and concept of pralayam is explained in our book “UnderstandingShiva”.

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  pralayam

Pralayam

 From origin to dissolution, everything is shrouded in maya, illusion.

It is in this play, jalakreeda, a play with the word jala, that Krishna helps remove the shroud of maya from our minds, enabling us to see the real play from ja to la, from origin to dissolution. It is this whole play from ja to la which is the real ja-la-kreeda. The setting for this was with the Gopi.

The Gopa and Gopi

The word Gopa comes from Go and Pa. Go stands for “cow” and Pa for “one who looks after”, “nourishes”. Gopa literally means “cowherd”, one who tends to cows.

From another perspective, Gopa also implies one who cherishes knowledge. This again comes from the roots Pa to “cherish”, “nurture”, “look after” and Go which also means knowledge. Gopi is the feminine gender of Gopa.

Gopi is also explained from the root Pi, as one who is drunk, consumed by the thirst for divine knowledge, Go.

Gopa and Gopi, the cow-herd folk, constantly sought Krishna out, surrounded Him and relished spending time with Him. The Gopa and Gopi, their yearning for and cherishing of Krishna, signify symbolically every soul’s yearning, thirst and cherish for true knowledge, symbolized by Krishna.

In recent years however, based on looking at the poetic descriptions of such Lila at a superficial level, for just the literal meaning of the words used, some have loosely cast the image of Krishna into the mould of a young man who flirted with the Gopi.

The Raslila dance stands as a metaphor for the emotions of single minded love, devotion and unification with the divine that prevailed in the seeker, the simple Gopi.

The Krishna, Gopi and their Jalakreeda also provide an intrinsic insight into the kreeda or interplay in the Universe at an ethereal level.

The whole Universe itself is the twinning of the two – the gross and the subtle. The Lila of Krishna, gain relevance, meaning, significance when one elevates one’s thoughts from the gross, physical level to the subtle, ethereal level. It is the twinning of the two that will help us recognize and realize reality.

Let us this Jala Kreeda Ekadasi recognize this subtle aspect of Jala Kreeda of Krishna.

 [This is an extract from our to be released book on Historical Krishna.]

HK-Dating Krishna-Vol-1

World Turtle Day

turtle1

The World Turtle Day is observed every year on May 23rdto raise awareness on turtles and their protection.

On this day, many animal lovers and organizations come together and organize events around turtles.

Caring for Turtles

In as much as, turtles might not be favourites of people, like dogs, it is vitally important that we care for this species, one of world’s oldest creatures of this planet.

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There have been many legends associated withTurtles and Tortoises across many ancient civilizations.

Dasavatara

The Indian tortoise legend is indeed interesting.

In the sequence of Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, Kurma Avatara, the Tortoise incarnation, is the second Avatara, incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu.The first in the 10 incarnations was Matsya, the Fish, which can live only in water. The second is Kurma, tortoise is an amphibian which evolved from living on water, to living on land.

Kurma

Kurma Avatar – Legend in India

Samudra Manthan

As per this legend, Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and supports the mountain on His back during the churning of the oceans, Samudra Manthan by the Deva and Asura.

samudra manthan

Samudra Manthan at the time of Kurma Avatar

 Tortoise and Techtonic plates

Indian geological texts also describe the earth as being supported by 8 tortoises.

Here, the analogy of the tortoise stands for the 8 solid tectonic plates on the earth’s crust, over the molten core of the earth, which are constantly moving but very slowly, just like a tortoise and its hard shell which covers the soft animal inside.

techtonic turtle

Symbolic depiction of Indian Turtle Legend

 In Indonesia

The architectural representation of this turtle legend can be seen in the old archaeological sites of central Java in Indonesia and the adjoining Bali islands too.

indo-turtle

Tortoise sculptures in Central Java, Temple Sukoh

 American Legend

There is a similar turtle legend that is explicitlyexpressed in the ancient American legends too, where a turtle dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back mud to create the earth.

Let us revere Turtles

Thus, we see that tortoises, turtles have been revered across civilizations from time immemorial.

This Turtle’s day, let us take steps to protect this endangered species that we have revered across times, across civilizations.

Buddha Purnima-Buddha was born on 9th April, 1887 BCE

Gautama Siddhartha, “The Buddha”, “the enlightened one” not just a noble son of India, but this earth as well.

Not only has his thought and philosophy been benchmarks, His date of birth as well has been a benchmark in history.

Buddha’s Teachings

Buddha’s eightfold middle path of right vision, right intention, right action, right speech, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration has guided millions in the path of spirituality for many centuries.

8 fold path

How many centuries back were these teachings given? In other words, when was Buddha born?

Buddha birth

Buddha’s Birth

The colonial historians who visited India during the 17th and 18th century, found it difficult to fathom the history of India recorded in the traditional form of recording. They also grappled with the dating of these historical events as the thousands of years of time periods ran contrary to their views on the concept of time and Creation of the Universe.

Buddha, who seemed to be rather recent and had inscriptions and followers in these parts of the world venerating Him, became a benchmark for these colonial historians as they could relate more easily to Him.

The times of Buddha therefore became the yardstick for fixing all other dates in the history of India as these colonial historians fixed an imaginary date for Him.

 Imaginary Date

The imaginary date of 483 BCE, for the Nirvana of Buddha, was assigned by the colonial historian E.J.Rapson. When propounding this date for Buddha, Rapson in his book, “Ancient India”, states,

 “Exact date of Buddha’s nirvana is not known, and hence the popularly accepted date of Buddha’s nirvana is imaginary and can at best be taken as provisional.”

Rapson book

              E.J.Rapson book – Ancient India

Moot Question

The question we need to ask here is that, in a scientific historical analysis, how can an imaginary or provisional date be taken as a benchmark and that too, to date another legendary hero of the land?

 So when exactly was Buddha born?

 In present time, the new field of archaeo-astronomy helps us accurately date events based on astronomical events.

 The date arrived at using archaeo-astronomy method for the Birth Date of Buddha is 9th April, 1887 BCE.

sky chart

Buddha’s Birth Chart

The details are given in our work “Historical Krishna”, which is part of the Bharath Gyan Series.

HK

Historical Krishna Book