Valmiki Jayanthi

Valmiki –  Author of Ramayana

Valmiki, the man who chronicled the life times of Rama and the values Rama stood for, was born 7150 years ago.

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Valmiki

Incident that led to first poem

Krauncha, Heron birds were mating. A hunter shot one of them down with his arrow. Valmiki who happened to observe this incident was moved by pathos and from him naturally comes forth the verse:

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Valmiki moved by pathos

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Thus came the first poem of humanity through pathos – “Sokah Slokatwam Aagatah”. It is for composing this poem and Valmiki is referred to as Adi Kavi, the first poet.

Valmiki badly shaken by this incident returned to his ashram, unable to compose himself. He then remembered to have said soemthing on that occasion and asked his sishya Bharadwaja if he remembered what he had said. Bharadwaja replied “Maa Nishaada…” They both were surprised at the particular pattern and rhythm in his utterance.

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Valmiki and his disciple Bharadwaja

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, the celebrated English poet expresses poetry as,

 “Poetry is a spontanesous overflow of powerful feelings, takes its origin from emotions, recollected in tranquility” is a poem of

This seems to fit aptly for the incident of Valmiki watching the Krauncha bird and the outcome being the first poem.

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William Wordsworth

Valmiki, a forest hunter

Valmiki also means “anthill”. Valmiki was a forest hunter, a wayside robber called Ratnakar, who out of remorse went so deep into penance, that he was covered by an anthill and therefore got the name Valmiki.

Valmiki Ramayana

He emerged from this anthill and penance endowed with the gift of writing. His magnum opus is the epic, Valmiki Ramayana.

Many Ramayanas

There have been many Ramayanas written by different authors over centuries. These later day texts cannot be termed as being completely historical, because they are based on the information available at their times.

Hence these later versions are not called Itihasa. They are popularly known as kavya or beautiful poetry.

Valmiki Ramayana, the authentic historical text

In contrast to all this, the Ramayana written by Valmiki alone can be considered as authentic historical text, which is why the text has been classified as Itihasa, meaning ‘it thus happened’.

A Biography of Valmiki

Valmiki Ramayana is a historical biography because Valmiki, the author of the original Ramayana text was a contemporary of Rama.

This has been explicitly stated in the text itself. This story was not penned a few hundred years after the life of Rama. In fact, Valmiki was the guardian to the wife and sons of Rama, Lava and Kusha.

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Valmiki teaching Ramayana to Lava and Kusha

This one fact gives it the credibility of being an authentic historical account. If you look at various historical texts world over, we find that the records of the events which happened, have usually been written down as history, about a few hundred or even few thousand years post the events having taken place, leaving room for some gaps.

In the case of Valmiki Ramayana, it is a text written by a person, Valmiki, who was a contemporary to the people and period of event.

Valmiki also plays an integral role in the events of Ramayana.

As the legend continues, Sita delivered twin sons – Luva and Kusha who learnt the Ramayana from Valmiki and narrated it to Rama.

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Luva and Kusha narrating Ramayana to Rama

The authenticity of the text

As to the authenticity of the content of Valmiki Ramayana that he had collated, Valmiki himself vouches for it, when he meets Rama for the first time and introduces himself as,

Prachetsoahem dasmey putroh raghavnandany

Ne ismarahmeanritam vakyamimo tu tav putroko ||

- Valmiki Ramayana 7.96.19

i.e., Valmiki proudly says to Rama,

“I am the 10th son of Pracheta, and I never remember speaking even one untrue sentence.”

This emphatic statement of Valmiki gives a strong dimension of credibility to his Ramayana.

That the Ramayana is an itihasa and that it was written by Valmiki during the lifetime of Rama, His wife Sita and their sons Lava and Kusha can been seen from the language in the text. Ramayana is not written in the past tense or future tense, it is primarily written in the present tense.

This goes to indicate to us from a different angle, that it is a biography by Valmiki of the happenings during his times.

More on Valmiki and the historicity of Rama in our Book and Film, “Historical Rama”.

 

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Eclipse: An Ancient Indian Perspective

An eclipse occurs when the sun is obscured by the moon or the moon comes under the shadow of the earth.

Lunar Eclipse

A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the moon comes under the shadow of the Earth.

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A Lunar Eclipse – Earth’s shadow falling on the moon

Solar Eclipse

A Solar Eclipse occurs when the sun is obscured by the Moon.

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A Solar Eclipse – Moon hiding the Sun

Around 5 to 6 eclipses happen every year.

Recordings of eclipses are available in texts, temple inscriptions, copper plates and legends of the land.

In the Veda

The Veda are considered to be the oldest literature of mankind available today. One among the 4 Veda is the Rig Veda. In this text, in verses 5.40.5 to 9.

 

A Solar Eclipse- Svarbhanu

 It states that, “Svarbhanu, i.e Solar Eclipse etymologically meaning a powerful phenomenon which takes away the splendour of the heavens, occurs, leaving the world bewildered.”

Rishi Atri, the first observer of Eclipse

Atri, the seer or Dhrishta, who observed this eclipse and understood the phenomenon of eclipse, is explaining it to the world through these Vedic verses.”

This makes Rishi Atri, probably the earliest astronomer to have expounded on eclipses for posterity.

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Vedic Rishi Atri, observing an Eclipse

In Ramayana

Notable amongst the celestial events mentioned in the Ramayana is the description of the solar eclipse that occurred on the day of the fight between Rama, the hero of the epic and the two demons Khar and Dushan.

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Solar eclipse on the day of the Khar – Dushan Episode in Ramayana

Searching for this eclipse using the Planetarium Software and the planetary configuration listed in the text, experts have dated this event to 7th October, 5077 BCE or over 7100 years ago, making this eclipse, perhaps one of the earliest recorded eclipses.

This date is substantiated by the internal consistency seen in the dates of other events arrived at by the Planetarium software using the description of the sky configuration from the Ramayana text, their sequence and elapse time between these dates tallying with the sequence and gap between the events as mentioned in the text as well.

Through the times, we see a continuity in the understanding and recording of eclipses.

Why were our ancients interested in eclipses? Why did they learn to predict eclipses?

Dos and Donts surrounding eclipse

We see, there are many elaborate dos and donts surrounding eclipses which have been a tradition of this civilization. Some interesting ones that have continued to this day are

  • eating food atleast 4 to 6 hours before an eclipse and not carrying forward food cooked prior to an eclipse

  • the use of Dharba grass to protect food items and other perishables

  • protection of pregnant women from the rays of sun during solar eclipses

  • not seeing solar eclipse with the naked eye

Advice for Pregnant Women

Scientists have shown today how during a Solar Eclipse, the amount of Ultra Violet rays and other cosmic rays reaching the earth are higher. These rays are harmful to the foetus. Hence pregnant women were advised to cover themselves and stay indoors during an eclipse to protect the foetus from these rays. Even today pregnant women are advised to stay away from radiation exposure of all kinds for example X Rays.

Contamination of Food

The increased exposure to such rays also contaminates food. Carrying forward of food cooked before an eclipse is therefore not advisable. Further more, there is the need to ensure that all food in one’s stomach is digested before the start of an eclipse.

Using Dharba grass

The antidote for preventing the food from contamination by radiation has been the practice of covering food with Dharba grass. This points to our ancients having used the Dharba grass as a shield to absorb the unwanted radiations in the atmosphere, especially those arising during eclipses.

Dharba grass absorbs X Rays

Nascent, independent research on Dharba grass has revealed its ability to absorb X Rays. These early finds make Dharba grass a very promising field of study.

We see a good grasp of astronomy, physics, biology and mathematics all rolled into the practice of predicting eclipses and the traditions followed during an eclipse. This holds good for a host of other astronomical observations and traditions followed too.

Donations During Eclipses

De Dhaan Chute Grahan - is a slogan one got to hear on the streets about 4 to 5 decades, during the time of eclipses.

 It means Give Alms To Release The Eclipsed.

 It was a common practice in India to give donations during eclipses and other cosmological events such as:

 Ayana, Solstices – Dakshinayana, Summer Solstice and Uttarayana, Winter Solstice

  1. Vishnuvrata Equinoxes – Mesha Vishu, Vernal Equinox and Tula Vishu, Autumnal Equinox

  2. Grahana, Eclipses – Surya Grahana, Solar eclipse and Chandra Grahana, Lunar eclipse

  3. Amavasya, New Moon

  4. Yugadi, New Year

Many explain that such Dhana were given in the superstitious belief that the donor will gain relief from the evil forces that were capable of even devouring the Sun and the Moon.

On the contrary, we find from traditional literature that the people were well aware of the scientific nature of these cosmological events. They could predict their occurrences due to their understanding of the motions of the earth, moon and various planets as well as their proficiency in Mathematics, which is needed to model these motions and calculate dates for their occurrences in advance.

Dhana for noble causes was given on these significant days as these days were considered as markers of time and hence would be easily remembered over time.

Every king, landlord, zamindar, royalty made it a point to give Dhana every year from their accumulated wealth. Various kings like Krishnadevaraya, Harshavardhana and others, repeatedly gave Dhana every year and during such events as eclipses.

Many temple inscriptions speak about such Dhana, endowments made to the temple and thereby to the people at large, on the occasion of eclipses.

Eclipses continue to happen and many just ignore them. Inscriptions continue to remain as evidences of the ones gone by but are hardly known to many.

The request for alms on eclipses are no longer heard on the streets. Neither are there donors, nor are there receivers on this day.

 But misconceptions about the Indian perception of eclipses continue to loom large in everyone’s minds.

Complementary Nature in Nature

One often hears in the English language, the remark, “Behind every successful man is a woman”. This phrase conjures up an image of the woman being lesser than the male gender and playing only a supportive role, while the man is the achiever.

lady and gentleman

In stark contrast to the above statement and view, in India and the Indian languages, the wife is called “Saha Dharmini”, meaning one who is along with the man. This term implies that the wife and the husband are to go along in life together, performing their deeds together, towards leading a righteous life, pursuing the 4 goals of life namely, Dharma – which may be translated in a limited way, as righteousness, Artha – wealth, Kama – desires and pleasures and Moksha – liberation, salvation.

purush stri

Many commonly understand “Saha” to mean equal. But there is a different word for equal, namely “Sama”, meaning same level.

So the term “Saha Dharmini” must have a deeper connotation.

In many languages brothers and sisters are called Sahodara and Sahodari respectively, meaning the ones who along with you, bear and share the joys and burdens of a joint family.

Saha seems to be more than just equal.

Saha denotes a form of parternship, “co-” as in cooperative, togetherness. And for a  partnership, togetherness and a cooperative effort to be successful, it calls for a sense of complementing one another to complete the task on hand effectively. The word Saha therefore denotes complementary, helping.

If the two partners are just equals and have equal of everything, there definitely would be times when their strengths would add up and double the gains. But there would also be times when both would be found lacking and there would be great gaps and falls.

                                                        Equals leave gaps2 Equals leave gaps1

Equals – leave gaps

While in the case of complementing, what one lacks, the other can provide, thus leaving no room for a gap in the collective unit.

 complementary 1 complementary 2

Complementary Units – fit perfectly, no gaps

If every such, complete family unit were to complement each other in a collective living community, then there would be no gaps in the society, civilization as a whole too.

 complementary 3

Amongst equals, each tries to score over the other. Equals lead to competition, infights and separation.

In a complement, since each one is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each other, they do not see any competition from the other. So complements lead to dependency, togetherness and partnership.

This philosophy formed the basis for the framing of the various family models and the structure of the Indian society, in the days of the past.

By referring to a wife as a Saha Dharmini, Indian thought and ethos, thus stressed on the fact that men and women are complementary in nature to one another and can only collectively perform their righteous duties at 3 levels, namely for their,

  1. home and family

  2. society and community

  3. culture and civilization

We can see such a complementing nature at work in the whole of Nature.

Even the lion, the symbol of masculinity, relents to this driving force of Nature. It is the females in a pride of lions, who typically hunt and bring back food for the pride. However, it is the male, the lion who gets to eat first and the most, before the others get their share. This is in return for his role of keeping the pride together and safe. This is where, the term “lion’s share” originated from.

Amongst the birds, it is the male emperor penguin who takes over the baton from his female partner to hatch the egg and look after the young for months on end in the harsh, freezing Antarctic winter, while the female partner goes back to the sea, to replenish her store of energy and bring back food for the penguin chick.

In the insect kingdom, all the bees, males included, work to the tunes of the Queen Bee.

 complementary 4

In each species, the male and female, evolve roles and responsibilities, suited to their innate, individual capability.

A representation of such a complementing concept is the depiction of Shiva, a popular divinity of the land as ArdhaNaari, meaning half woman, where the figure of half man and half woman sharing every part of the body shows the complementary nature of roles they are supposed to play in all activities of life.

 Ardhanaari

Ardhanaari

This is further exemplified and elaborated in the concept of the three feminine divinities, the wives of the three primary divinities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, in the Indian pantheon of Gods.

If we pause and observe intently,

  • the wife of Brahma the creator, is Saraswathi, the embodiment of knowledge, for, inorder to create, knowledge is a requisite and Saraswathi brings in this knowledge

  • the wife of Vishnu, the preserver, is Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth, for, inorder to sustain and operate, wealth is a requisite and Lakshmi brings in this wealth

  • the wife of Shiva, the regenerator, recycler, is Shakthi, the embodiment of energy, for, inorder to recycle i.e. destroy and recreate, energy is a requisite and Shakthi brings in that energy.

The masculine aspect in these concepts, denote a function in the cycle of the Universe, while the feminine aspect denotes the substance or resource required for this functioning.

These feminine divinities were perhaps the earliest “Women of Substance”.

Women of Substance

 This symbolism denotes the higher understanding in the civilization, that the functioning and the resources needed to function, coming together with a purpose, is what ensures successful completion of any activity.

It is the understanding of this complementary nature of Nature, all the way from the divine forces at work throughout the Universe, to the various living forms in this Universe, including man and woman on earth, that formed the ethos of the land of India.

These ethos through the ages has given the due position and respect, in all spheres of life, to men and women.

It is this realization that was put in practice in various facets of life concerning men and women and their roles in society, in India, through the ages. To an extent, these ethos also found reflection in other fields also, namely Astronomy and social customs.

In many marriage customs of India, after the couple is wed, one of the wedding ritual is, the gazing of Arundhati-Vasishta. The husband and wife are taken outside by the priest and asked to gaze at Arundhati-Vasishta in the sky.

Ever wondered what this ritual is all about and who are Arundhati-Vasishta and that too, in the sky?

One of the spectacular constellations in the northern hemisphere, is the Ursa Major constellation, also called the Great Bear, the Big Dipper. This constellation can be identified by seven prominent stars.

Arundhati-Vasishta

The significance of this constellation is that when we join the two stars in the belly of the bear, they always point to the Pole Star in the North.

This constellation is called Sapta Rishi in Indian astronomy and each of the seven prominent stars has been named after some of the prominent Rishi of India.

One such star, at the tail, is called Mizar-Alcor in modern Astronomy. Since thousands of years, in Indian astronomy, this star has been known as Arundhati-Vasishta.

Vasishta was one of the most accomplished Rishi and together with Arundhati, his wife, they were regarded as the most knowledgeable, much respected, ideal couple in Indian legends.

Why a double name for this star?

After the invention of telescope, modern astronomers identified this star to be a double star. They also found that this system of double star is such that, it is not one star going around the other, which is the usual form of double star system. Instead, in Arundhati-Vasishta, the 2 stars go around each other, much as to how 2 people rotate and go around a common fixed spot in Phugadi, a game in India.

Arundhati-Vasishta 2

It is very interesting to note that these stars were given the name of an ideal couple. It is further interesting to note that gazing at this ideal couple in the sky has infiltrated as a marriage custom of the land, where after the couple is wed, the husband and wife are taken out by the priest and shown this Arundhati-Vasishta star system.

Today, neither the priest nor those around are able to explain this ritual. It is even ironic that this ritual is held during midday under the blazing sun, when no stars are seen and with no clue as to even where this star lies.

Our ancients were not only well advanced in Astronomy to have discovered this uncommon system of double stars but were also foresighted enough to include it as a marriage ritual to relate to and reinforce to common man, that in a marriage it is not the wife going around the husband or the other way around.

Their message to society was that, both husband and wife together, as partners, have to complement each other and go around, the central point – the family and society, fulfilling their duties to the best of their innate, individual nature and capability.

It is time for all of us in this world, to focus on Saha, the complementing factor too, rather than on Sama, the equalizing factor alone.

Understanding our ancients’ way of living and picking a leaf or two of wisdom from them, can help us in understanding ourselves better and handling our relationships and business in harmony with each other and with Nature.

M Visveshvarya Birth Annv – Engineer’s Day

by D.K.Hari & D.K.Hema Hari, Founders, Bharath Gyan

Sir Mokshagundam Visveshvarya’s is among the greatest Engineers that this country has ever seen. He is known to have built many structures throughout his life. He built the Vidhana Sabha Assembly in Bangalore. The dams built by him stand to this day as a testimony of his great engineering skills. His birthday is thus an occasion to honour all engineers.

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Sir M Visveshvarya

Birth and Education

 Sir Visveshvarya was born on 15th September, 1860 at Muddenahalli village of Chickballapur district in Karnataka.

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Birthplace of Sir M Visveshvarya

He did his gradutation in Arts from Madras University in 1881 and went on to pursue civil engineering at the College of Science in Pune.

First Project

Sir Visveshvarya’s first major project was when he joined the Indian Irrigation Commission where he was give the task of constructing an irrigation system for the Deccan region.

Flood Security System, Hyderabad

His next major work was to build flood security system in Hyderabad.

Father of Karnataka

Karnataka is a state that has benefited greatly from the skills of Sir Visveshvarya. He is considered the ‘Father of Karnataka”.

Role in many industrial ventures

His skills both as an engineer came into play in many projects that have this day become major institutions and industries. He played a major role in the building of

*Iron and Steel Company in Bhadravati

* the Mysore Soap Factory,

* the Bangalore Agricultural University,

*Vidhana Soudha Assembly, Bangalore,

 *The State Bank of Mysore, Bangalore and

*Jayachamrajendra Polytechnic Institute among many other industrial ventures.

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Visveshvarya Iron and Steel Plant, Bhadravati

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Jayachamrajendra Polytechnic Institute

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Vidhana Soudha, Karnataka Assembly, Bangalore

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State Bank of Mysore, Bangalore

He was also the chief engineer of the construction of Krishna Raja Sagar Dam.

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Krishna Raja Sagar Dam

 An Administrator and a Visionary

Sir Visveshvarya was not only a great engineer and outstanding administrator but was also a visionary.

Integrity

There are many anecdotes about his integrity and honesty.

He used to use the candle, pen and ink provided by the government when writing notes related to work and, use his own candle, pen and ink when writing letter to his wife.

Engineer’s oath & Sir M Visveshvarya

The Canadian universities, engineering graduates, oath ceremony for graduation reads,

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Engineer giving his oath

When we go through the oath ceremony, we realize that Sir Visveshvarya actually lived the above oath through his life.

Commander of Indian Empire

For his great engineering skills and contribution in the same field, he was made the Commander of Indian Empire by King George 5.

Bharat Ratna

Sir Visveshvarya was conferred the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the country, in 1955.

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                        Bharat Ratna                 Sir M Visveshvarya with Jawaharlal Nehru

Sir Visveshvarya lived till the age of 101 and passed away on 14th April, 1962.

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Sir M Visveshvarya memorial in Muddennahali

Educational Institutions in Name

Today, there are many educational institutions in his name in the country such as the Visveshvarya National Institute of Technology in Nagpur, Visveshvarya College of Engineering in Bangalore and Visveshvarya Technological University, Belgaum.

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Visveshvarya Technological University, Belgaum

Statues

His statues can be found in many places across the state of Karnataka.

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A Statue of Sir M Visveshvarya

In Stamp

A stamp has been released in his honour by the Government of India.

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Engineers, the foundation

Engineers are the foundation of any developed civilization. India being the oldest surviving civilization has a long lineage of Engineers who are referred to as Vishvakarma.

Let us honour them

Let us on this day honour Bharat Ratna Sir M Visveshvarya along with engineers of modern India.

Subramanya Bharati Remembrance Day

Subramanya Bharati, popularly known as ‘Mahakavi Bharathiar’, is one of the greatest Tamil poets, who through his poems encouraged patriotism among people at the time of Indian Freedom Struggle.

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Mahakavi Bharathiar

Leading Literary Figure

Considered one of the leading figures in Tamil literature, Subramanya Bharati’s works mainly ranged in social, religious and patriotic arena.

Subramanya Bharati, affectionately called Bharathiar was born in Ettyapuram on December 11th, 1882. He completed his education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi.

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Birth Place of Bharathiar

Taking part in Freedom struggle

He joined the Indian National Congress and carried out revolutionary activities against the British rule, an aspect of which was his stirring poetry through which he kindled nationalism in people.

He also wrote articles for newspapers such as Swadeshamitra and India.

A National Poet

Mahatma Gandhi called him a national poet.

Poems on Women Emancipation

Among his poems were also many songs for women’s emancipation with the title of Kannama.

Coming to Pondicherry

The British police issued a warrant against him in 1908 for carrying out revolutionary activities. Bharathiar then went to Pondicherry, a French colony and lived there for the next 10 years. Here, he translated the Bhagavad Gita into Tamil.

Friendship with V O Chidambaram Pillai

Bharathiar was a close friend of V O Chidambaram Pillai, the other great freedom fighter who started the Swadeshi Shipping Company, forcibly closed by the British, as they perceived it as a threat to British interests.

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V O Chidambaram Pillai                 Swadeshi Shipping Company

The End

Bharathiar’s end came when he was shoved aside by an elephant in mast, at the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Madras. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away on 11th September, 1921.

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  Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvallikeni

Among his great grandchildren, Rajkumar Bharati is carrying forward his legacy.

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Rajkumar Bharati

The home where he spent the last few years of his life in Triplicane, also called Thiruvallikeni, has been named Bharathiar Illam, which stands adjacent to the Parthasarathy Temple.

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                    Bharathiar Illam                             

Vast Popularity

In Tamil Films

The songs of Bharathiar have been used in the Tamil films and Carnatic Music, for the past many decades.

Feature Film – Bharathi

Bharathi, a film on the life of Bharathiar was released in the year 2000. This film won the National Film Award for best Tamil Feature Film, for the year 2000.

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Bharathi Film on Bharathiar’s life

Streets, Associations and University in name

Almost every town of Tamil Nadu has a Bharathiar street. Tamil associations in different cities of the world have been named after him. There is a University in his name at Coimbatore. Such are his literary achievements.

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Bharathiar University, Coimbatore

Stamps in name

There are also stamps and coins released in his name by the government of India.

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Stamp on Bharathiar

Statues and Idols

Many statues have been erected for Bharatiyar all over Tamil Nadu. There are also some temples where his idol can be found. One such place is in Madhya Kailash temple in Adayar, Chennai, which has an idol for Bharathiar.

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                  Statue of Bharathiar, Chennai                                      Statue of Bharathiar, Pondicherry

All these speak of the immense popularity and wide acceptance of this Mahakavi.

Bagha Jatin Martyr Day

Jatindranath Mukherjee is one of the main Indian revolutionaries from Bengal, who fought against the British Rule.

Leader of Yugantar Party

He was the leader of the Yugantar party that carried out freedom related activities, against the British. He was actually at the helm of the party at a very young age.

Bagha Jatin – A Tiger

He was nicknamed Bagha Jatin, Bagha meaning tiger, for the great courage he showed at a tender age, in revolting against the British.

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Young Bagha Jatin

Indoctrinating Indian Soldiers

One of the main contributions of Bagha Jatin was that he and his party inculcated cognitive strategies and revolutionary spirit in Indian soldiers, for an uprising against the British.

His Slogan

His famous slogan was, “Amra Morbo, Jagat Jagbe”, meaning “We shall die to awaken the nation”.

 ‘A divine personality’

Gandhiji was so impressed by this revolutionary youth that he referred to Bagha Jatin as ‘a divine personality’.

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 Mahatma Gandhi and Bagha Jatin

Loved by Englishmen

Irrespective of Bagha Jatin’s revolutionary activities, he was also loved by many Englishmen. Charles Augustus Tegart, a colonial police officer had once remarked that if Bagha Jatin was born in England, then probably a statue would have been built for him and placed next to Nelson’s at Trafalgar Square. What he meant to say was that the great personality that Bagha Jatin was would have been highly revered in England.

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Charles Augustus Tegart

Hard and Soft

The impeccable character of Bagha Jatin was both hard and soft. He had a soft corner for those suffering and a charitable nature. At the same time, he demonstrated great physical bravery and prowess while fighting the colonial rulers.

Above caste and religion

Another striking quality in Bagha Jatin was that he was beyond the narrow confines of caste and religion. He even financially helped a Muslim women by sending her money every month.

Brave End and appreciation in death

Bagha Jatin’s revolt against the British led to a backlash from the colonial rulers. Bagha Jatin was mortally wounded by the British police and passed away on 10th September, 1915.

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Bagha Jatin during his last moments

Even at his death, there was a word of appreciation from the opponent forces. Charles Tegart, the colonial office who was part of the police squad that killed Bagha Jatin said, “Even though I had a duty to perform, I had a great admiration for Bagha Jatin. He died in an open fight.”

Statue

Today, his statue stands tall at the Victoria memorial in Kolkata.

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Bagha Jatin statue at Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

Institutions, places in name

Many institutions and places in Bengal have been named after this great freedom fighter.

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Bagha Jatin Railway Station, Kolkata

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Bagha Jatin Passenger

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Bagha Jatin Hospital, Kolkata

Amar Chitra Katha

Amar Chitra Katha paid a fitting tribute to Bagha Jatin by bringing out his story.

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It is due to the sacrifices of such freedom fighters that finally led to the British vacating India in 1947.

 

Teacher’s Day vs Guruutsav

- Sandeep Singh, Business Consultant, Writer, Friend of Bharath Gyan

The syllable ‘gu’ means shadows
The syllable ‘ru’, means he who disperses them.
Because of the power to disperse darkness the guru is thus named.

Aaradvayatka Upanishad 14—18, verse 5

There is an unfortunate artificial darkness created around Teachers Day and Guruutsav. I tried to understand the darkness and learned quit a bit about Teacher, Guru, Teachers Day, World Teachers Day, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Gurupurnima. I am sharing the same.

Sanskrit has got four words Sikshak, Adhyapak, Acharya and Guru which are often used as synonym. Each of these words can be broadly understood as:

  • Teacher being equivalent to Sikshak

  • Professor being equivalent to Adhyapak

  • Principle being equivalent to Acharya

  • Guru doesn’t have an equivalent word in English. Hence it is used as Guru in all the languages.

Teacher gives the basic education.

Guru is a word much bigger than Teacher. As a noun the word means the imparter of knowledge. As an adjective, it means ‘heavy,’ or ‘weighty,’ in the sense of “heavy with spiritual wisdom”. Guru is one’s spiritual guide on earth. One is considered ‘orphan’ without a guru.

In fact a Tamil saying describes the word “Guru” beautifully:
Guru illaakru vidhaiyum illai, mudhal illaarku labamum illai” i.e. This saying in Tamil means The Person who has no guru has no skill; just like a business without principle makes no profit.

Teachers’ day is celebrated in many countries but date varies from country to country.
World Teachers’ Day is distinct from Teachers’ days, and is officially celebrated across the world on October 5.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday, is celebrated as Teachers Day on 5th September from 1962 in India. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Telugu family at a village near Thiruttani , in Tamil Nadu near the border of Andhra Pradesh. His thesis for the M.A. degree was “The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions”. His philosophy professor, Dr. Alfred George Hogg commended that Radhakrishnan has done most excellent work. Radhakrishnan’s thesis was published when he was only 20.

According to Radhakrishnan himself, the criticism by Hogg and other Christian teachers of Indian culture “disturbed my faith and shook the traditional props on which I leaned.” Radhakrishnan himself describes how, as a student, “The challenge of Christian critics impelled me to make a study of Hinduism and find out what is living and what is dead in it. My pride as a Hindu, roused by the enterprise and eloquence of Swami Vivekananda, was deeply hurt by the treatment accorded to Hinduism in missionary institutions.” This led him to his critical study of Indian philosophy and religion, and a lifelong defence of Hinduism against “uninformed Western criticism”.

For his services to education he was knighted by George V in 1931. He stopped use of the title after India became independent. He preferred to use his academic title of ‘Doctor’. In 1939 Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya invited him to succeed him as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He served as its Vice-Chancellor till January 1948. His political career started after BHU.

Radhakrishnan did not have a background in the Congress Party. His motivation lay in his pride of Hindu culture, and according to Brown, “He had always defended Hindu culture against uninformed Western criticism and had symbolized the pride of Indians in their own intellectual traditions.”

Gurupurnima falls on the day of, Purnima (full moon), in the month of Ashadh (June–July) of the Shaka Samvat (Gregorian calendar). Gurupurnima is as old as civilisation and is celebrated by all spiritual religions of India. Indian from all the fields, ranging from music to dance, academic to sports etc. celebrate this day by thanking their teachers as well as remembering past teachers and scholars.

Looking at above facts, it makes perfect sense to observe Radhakrishnan’s birthday as Guruutsav rather than as Teachers Day. Radhakrishnan was beyond “direction or language” division. Infact efforts should be made to celebrate his birthday as International Guruutsav Day. The world will be happy to accept it.

Paul Artur Schillp has said “….nor would it be possible to find a more excellent example of a living “bridge” between the East and the West than Professor Radhakrishnan.” While Michael Hawley said “Radhakrishnan’s concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions has earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West.”

Last but not the least, Modern English, which includes the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible, is generally dated from about 1550. And only after the United Kingdom became a colonial power, English spread outside England. To top it more than 65% of English words are actually taken from other languages including from India. It will also be important to mention that the word Guru is more English than the modern day apologists of English and as old as English itself. The word Guru was first used in English in the year 1613.