An important astronomic event happens every year in the month of June. This event is an important time marker in our lives.
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 Uttarayan, Uttar meaning north and the Southern Journey is called Dakshinayan, Dakshin 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”.
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.
Hot Summer day
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.
Sun Temples along tropic of Cancer
Stonehenge in England
Summer solstice has been celebrated at Stonehenge in England from Pagan days.
Stonehenge celebrations, England
Stonehenge in England map
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.
Midsummer celebrations with Bonfire at Alesund, Norway
William Shakespeare, the celebrated English playwright has written a drama called Mid Summer Night’s Dream, relating to this day.
William Shakespeare The Book
Other names in other parts
The day is similarly celebrated in other parts of the world under different names.
Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia
Saint Jonas’ Festival
Lights lit for Tiregan festival in Iran Kapala Night fire works in Poland
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.
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”.
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.]
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 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.
How many centuries back were these teachings given? In other words, when was Buddha born?
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.
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.”
E.J.Rapson book – Ancient India
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.
Buddha’s Birth Chart
The details are given in our work “Historical Krishna”, which is part of the Bharath Gyan Series.
Historical Krishna Book