Jagannath Rath Yatra

Jagannath-Lord of the Universe

The word “Jagat” stands for the world, the Universe. It means that which is always moving and not stationary”. Nath means “Lord”. Jagannath is the Lord of the Cosmos.

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Indians knew the cosmos is moving

The meaning of the word Jagat referring to the cosmos indicates that the people of India knew that the cosmos was always in motion.

Juggernaut from Jagannath

Infact, the English word “Juggernaut” meaning “that which is huge and is rolling” comes from the word “Jagannath”.

Jagannath Temple

One of the ancient and important cities of the east coast of India is Puri, which is in the present day state of Orissa. This Puri is famous for the temple of Jagannath, another name for Krishna.

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The Physical Remains of Krishna

The idol in this temple is carved out of Neem wood from a particular forest and once every 12 years, is replaced through a strict, well defined process, Naba Kalebara, that has come down as a tradition.

Legends talk of people who came east from Dwaraka, carrying with them, mortal remains of Krishna, pinda, which have been kept in a hollow cavity in the idol since the times of inception of this temple to this day.

Neither has this been kept a secret nor has it been hidden. It is well known through the land as retold by the Sthala Purana, local legend of the temple. These remains were not tucked away, way back in time and forgotten. Around every 12 years, on the assigned day, this bundle, Brahmapotli, has been removed and transferred to a fresh idol under due rituals.

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Lord Krishna

The bundle with the remains is normally physically handled by the most aged priest of the temple, who is blindfolded – a rare honour indeed to be that senior most priest on that occasion. Having handled these remains, the aged priest looks forward to early Moksha, deliverance, to attain Goloka, the abode of Krishna.

Being so venerated and done under such stringent, time honoured rituals, these remains, remain beyond the purview of scientific scrutiny.

The knowledge of its existence has been revived through these rituals every 12 years, in every generation and the remains of Krishna, have been venerated every day by millions of devotees who have thronged this temple.

This is the beauty in this temple – it is not only the beauty of the idol but also the beauty of how these remains and the memories they invoke have remained with us through this tradition across millennia.

The Memories of Krishna

Puri is thus an ancient city dedicated to Krishna and those who settled here brought with them the legends of Krishna from the times of His childhood at Braj to the times of Dwaraka.

This is evident from the daily rites in the temple which give prominence to the childhood days of Krishna when he used to steal milk, butter, cream and curds. The most famous offering in their rites is Kheer, a milk and rice based sweet pudding. People of Orissa, even to this day, fondly call Krishna as “Khiri Chora”, meaning “one who steals Kheer”.

More on Jagannath Puri in our book, ‘Historical Krishna’.

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Jagannath Rath yatra

The famed Rath Yatra, which dates back to the period of the Purana, is held every year at this temple.

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In Purana

There are vivid descriptions of this festival in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra.

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Huge Chariots, Large Crowds

The idols of Jagannath and His siblings, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out on this day in a procession on huge chariots, rath, the likes of which cannot be matched in size, the crowds they draw and the continuity in tradition.

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Chhera Pahara

A significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the “Chhera Pahara,” when the  king symbolically sweeps the path of the Rath. This symbolizes that right from the king to the commoner, everyone is responsible for maintaining cleanliness around the place where the yatra is organized.

This practice is followed even today and the present king Raja Gajapati Divyasingh Dev also follows the tradition.

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A festival of unity

Rath Yatra, Rathotsav, is a common annual festival celebrated in all temples, all across India and the world. It is a festival to unite people from all walks of life to come together to pull the Rath. A truly peoples’ festival.

A Global Festival

Lord Jagannath true to His name not only moves the cosmos, but moves the people to celebrate His Rath Yatra, not just in Puri but also in other parts of the country and the world. The Rath Yatra festival is celebrated in all major Indian cities. It is also observed in countries outside India.

The juggernaut is indeed rolls all over Jagat, the world on Jagannath Rath Yatra.

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Rani Durgavati

Rani Durgavati was born in Banda, Uttar Pradesh to Shalivahan, the Chandela Rajput ruler of Mahoba, famed for his bravery and courage.

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Trained by Father Shalivahan

With her mother passing away early, Durgavati was bought up with great care by Raja Shalivahan, and was trained like a Rajput. Durgavati was trained by her father at a young age in horse riding, hunting and usage of weapons.

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Becoming a skilled archer

She soon became a skilled hunter, markswoman, who took pleasure in going on expeditions, also a skilled archer.

Dalpat Shah

Hearing about the valor of the Gond ruler Dalpat Shah, and his exploits against the Mughals, Durgavati was impressed by him.

When her guru pointed out that Dalpat Shah was a Gond, Durgavati replied “He might be a Gond by tribe, but his deeds make him a Kshatriya”

Dalpat Shah was one warrior, whom the Mughals feared, he controlled the territory that gave them passage to the South.

Marriage with Dalpat Shah

When Dalpat Shah bought up the alliance with Durgavati, many other Rajput rulers protested saying that he was a Gond.

The Rajput rulers knew very well that if Mughals were unable to advance to South, it was due to Dalpat Shah himself.

Shalivahan himself was not keen on Durgawati marrying Dalpat Shah, as he was not a Rajput. However considering the vow he gave to Durgavati’s mother, that he would allow her to choose her life partner, he agreed to Dalpat Shah.

Finally in 1524, Durgavati was married to Dalpat Shah, and this also bought the Gonds and Chandel dynasties in an alliance.

A new alliance against Mughals

The marriage between Durgavati and Dalpat Shah, in a way was strategically important too, bringing two dynasties together.With the Chandelas, Gonds coming together, a new alliance was formed against the Mughal rulers that could keep them in check.

Dalpat Shah dies

Sadly Dalpat Shah died soon, in 1550 and it was left to Durgavati to handle the kingdom. With her son, Bir Narayan, still a minor, Durgavati ruled as a regent.

Rule as a regent

Assisted by 2 ministers, Adhar Kayastha and Man Thakur, Durgavati reigned over the Gond kingdom with wisdom and success.

As a ruler, Rani Durgavati shifted her capital to Chauragarh, a strategically important fort on the Satpuras. Like her husband Dalpat Shah, Durgavati proved to be an able ruler, expanding the kingdom, looking after her subjects well.

Durgavati had a large army with 20,000 cavalry, 1000 war elephants, and large number of soldiers, which was well maintained.

Building reservoirs and tanks

Durgavati dug many reservoirs and tanks for the welfare of her people, one of the better known one is near Jabalpur called Ranital.

Defeating Baz Bahadur

When the Sultan of Malwa, Baz Bahadur, tried to attack Durgavati’s kingdom, she fought back and forced him to retreat. So heavy was the loss faced by Baz Bahadur at hands of Durgavati, that he dared not attack her kingdom again.

Akbar’s ambitions

In 1562, Akbar defeated Baz Bahadur, and took over Malwa, which now meant that Mughal Empire was touching Durgavati’s kingdom.

Lured by the prosperity of Gondwana, Akbar’s subedar Abdul Majid Khan, wanted to invade and occupy it along with Malwa.

Malwa had already fallen to Mughals, Rewa too was captured by Abdul Majid Khan, now only Gondwana was left.

Fighting the Mughal Army

Though her Diwan warned her against taking on the mighty Mughal Army, Rani Durgavati said she would prefer death to surrender.

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Initial Success

Rani Durgavati initially fought the Mughal Army at Narrai, flanked by the Narmada and Gaur rivers, and hilly ranges.Though the Mughal Army was superior to Durgavati’s, she led the defense, and fought back fiercely. Durgavati’s fierce counter assault on the Mughal Army chased them out of the valley and she was successful initially.

Facing Mughal Army in open combat

Buoyed by success, Durgavati wanted to attack the Mughal Army in night, but the suggestion was not accepted by her lieutenants.And this meant Durgavati had to face the Mughal Army in open combat, which would prove to be fatal to her.

Durgavati however refused to surrender, and with her son Vir Narayan, counter attacked the Mughal forces strongly.Riding on her elephant Sarman, Rani Durgavati, bravely counter attacked the larger and more superior Mughal army.

Durgavati’s son Vir Narayan, himself led a fierce attack on the Mughals, making them retreat thrice, before he was wounded badly. Hit by arrows and bleeding, Durgavati realized that defeat was imminent against the Mughals.

The End

Disregarding her mahout’s advice to flee from battle, Rani Durgavati, stabbed herself with a dagger, preferring death to surrender. Rani Durgavati, truly a remarkable lady, fiercely independent, wise ruler, some one who preferred not to surrender.

A Patron of Learning, An able administrator

Durgavati was also a patron of learning, respected scholars, encouraged building of temples, truly a great ruler. Apart from being just a brave warrior, she was able administrator, who built lakes, reservoirs for benefit of her subjects.

Her name lives on

Rani Durgavati passed away physically, but her name lives on, especially in Jabalpur, where the university is named after her.

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Olympic Day

Olympics – Lighting the Flame

In modern Olympics, the first ceremony is lighting the Olympic flame. It starts with young women lighting the torch with the heat from the Sun. The flame is kept burning throughout the games.

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                                                            Young Women lighting the Olympic flame

This modern ceremony of lighting the Olympic flame evolved from the practices of ancient Olympics that were held in Greece, where the flame was revered and used as a mark to start the game. The modern practice of lighting the Olympic torch at Olympia, taking it to different parts of the world, and finally reaching it to the city where the games are to be played, culminating in the Olympic stadium, started at the games of 1928, at Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The flame ceremony has been respected across the world, during all times and in all traditions.

6 Vestal Virgins

Similar to the ceremony of the women lighting the flame in Greece, ancient Rome had the concept of the six vestal virgins guarding the flame.

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Vestal Virgins of Rome

Persia

Similarly, further to the east in ancient Persia, we have the concept of eternal flame, Azure. This was venerated and popularized by Zarathustra.

Azerbaijan

The modern day country of Azerbaijan, whose name comes from the word Azure, still has an eternal flame, burning to this day.

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The Eternal Flame at the Fire Temple in Azerbaijan

 India

Further to the east in India, for the last 5000 years and more, the concept of flame in the form of Agni has been venerated through the ages. Agni is one of the primary divinities in the pantheon of divinities in the Indian thought.

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                                                                            Agni in Indian thought

Since in practice, as found from archaeological excavations, Fire as Agni has been venerated in India, right through antiquity, in the mists of time, probably the concept of venerating Fire could be traced to Indian practice and knowledge system.

America

In America today, the main symbol of freedom is the statue of liberty. The figure in the statue carries a flame in her hand, symbolizing a similar ethos across times, across traditions.

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Statue of Liberty holds the flame

  Thus we see that Celebration by fire initiation can be found all over the world.

The Mystery of Sun Temples

It is the month of June.

Days are longest and it is the hottest month in the northern hemisphere.

People turn to the Sun to pray for respite from its scorching heat.

Time to look for the Temples to the Sun to offer our prayers for a bearable summer.

Where are the Sun Temples in India?

Sun temples are famous in different parts of India. They have been built and venerated from time immemorial.

We have had Sun temples from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Afghanistan to Assam in the ancient Indian land of Bharatha, the most popular ones being Konark temple in Orissa, the Sun temple in Modhera and the Suryanarkovil in Kumbakonam among others which fall on the popular tourist circuits.

Konark

Sun Temple, Konark

 Modhera

Sun Temple, Modhera

The land of India today spans from 6.7 degrees North latitude to 37.1 degrees North latitude. In this wide span, we find a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude.

Save for a few such as Suryanarkovil near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu at 10.8 degrees North, the  Konark Sun Temple in Orissa at 19.9 degrees North etc. most of the other renowned temples can be found around 23 degrees North. Some are in ruins, some are memories and some are still in use today.

  • Suryanarayanaswamy temple at Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh – 18.27 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Somnath Patan near Veraval in Gujarat – 20.9 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Madkheda near Tikamgadh, Madhya Pradesh – 22.9 degrees

    Sun Temple at Umri near Tikamgadh, Madhya Pradesh – 22.9 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Kandaha, Bangaon, near Saharsa in Bihar – 23.0 degrees

  • Harsiddhi temple at Ujjain – Harsiddhi – 23.09 degrees

  • The famous Sun Temple at Modhera, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat –  23.5 degrees

  • Kanthad Nath at Kanthkot  near Rapar- 23.48 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Dholavira  – 23.89 degrees

  • 8th Century Sun Temple in Chittorgarh Fort, destroyed in 14th century and rebuilt as Kali temple  – 24.59 degrees

  • Surya mandir, Deo, Aurangabad, Bihar, 85 kms from Gaya – 24.5 degrees

  • Dakshinaarka Temple in Gaya – 24.7 degrees

  • Uttaraka temple near the Uttara Maanas tank in Gaya – 24.7 degrees

  • Gayaditya temple on the river Falgu in Gaya  – 24.7 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Jhaira Patan near Kota in Rajasthan: Ruins of an ancient temple – 25.1 degrees

    The Dwadasha Aditya temples and more in Kashi also called Varanasi – 25.2 degrees

  • The Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh, near Jhansi –  25.6 degrees

  • Sri Surya Pahar, Sun Temple at Goalpara in Assam  26.0

  • Sun Temple at Galta near Jaipur in Rajasthan – 26.5 degrees

    Sun temple in Morar at Gwalior – 26.2 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Ranakpur near Udaipur in Rajasthan – 27.0 degrees

    Sun Temple near Almora in Uttarakhand – 29.37 degrees

  • Sun Temple at Martand in Jammu and Kashmir 32.5 degrees

Not just these, the renowned sun temples of another Sun worshipping ancient civilization, namely Egypt, also has its sun temples at

  • Abu Simbel – 22.6 degrees

  • Karnak, Luxor – 25.43

 

Why do we find so many Sun temples almost in a straight row and that too around 23 degrees North latitude?

What did our ancestors know about the Sun that we do not, today?

 What is the mystery behind this pattern?

23.5 degrees North latitude is the Tropic of Cancer.

As we have read in our school books, the Tropic of Cancer is the line up to which the sun moves North in its annual journey.

 Sun at the Tropic

Sun at the Tropic Of Cancer on June 21

This movement of the sun between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and its significance has already been discussed by us, in the Rishimukh magazine of January 2010 and  April 2010.

The way of living of our ancestors was in harmony with the Cosmos. They conducted their life, the annual and daily activities in their lives, in sync with the flow and rhythm of seasons, Rthu. Their Dharma, way of living,was governed by the Dharma, way of operating,of the Cosmic Nature.

Hence they tracked the sun and other celestial bodies in the sky to read the skies and prepare themselves for the daily, annual and spiritual change that are bound to occur as our planet earth hurtles on its journey through space along with its parent, the Sun and its siblings , the other planets in the solar system.

Each of these temples was specially designed to receive the rays of the sun inside the sanctum sanctorum, garbha graha, and illuminate the idol with a natural glow, on special days, especially the period around Summer Solstice.

June, is thus the time to watch our Sun go to the northern most point in its path in the skies and marvel at the knowledge, the sagacity and the architectural skills of our ancestors, which has found expression in the form of these temples to the Sun all over India and has become one of the traditions of India.

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,” and Stice meaning “stationary”.

 1 Longest Day

For the people living in the northern hemisphere, this 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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 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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Stonehenge in England

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

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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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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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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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International Yoga Day

Yoga-The Union

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Yoga-1

The Roots

Yoga, the latest rave across the world, comes from the root Yug, Jug which means to align.

It is the same root as for the word “Yoke” which is used to align bullocks to pull a cart.

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YogaYug/Jug – Yoke – Join

The root of the word Yoga and its practice, lies in India.

The Practice

Yoga is not just exercise or postures.

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Yoga, as the name suggests, is the practice by way of which mind, body and breath are aligned to achieve a state of harmony with each other and to become homogeneous with the cosmic consciousness – a state that brings with it a sense of freshness, energy and calm, a sense of balance of the various senses and emotions.

The extent of harmony and balance maintained, defines the depth of insight the Yogi has gained.

In a simplistic form, it is a structured combination of

  • Asana – exercise postures for the body,
  • Pranayama – regulating energy through control of the breath and
  • Dhyana – meditation for the mind,

along with maintaining physiological, psychological and sociological hygiene through Yama (control / abstinence), Niyama (adherence) and other guidelines.

Daily activities as Yoga

In our life, the various activities that we perform are also various aspects of Yoga. For example,

  1. When we greet each other with Namaste, it is Anjali Mudra.
  2. When we sit down on the floor to eat, the sitting position is called Suhasan, one of the asana, postures of Yoga
  3. After eating, the asana, posture that is  suggested for easy digestion is Vajrasana
  4. The sleeping posture is Shavasana. The act of sleeping with awareness is known as Yoga Nidra

The common punishment asana is called Palikarsha. In Hindi it is called Baski and in Tamil Topukaranam. It is the act of crossing one’s arms and holding the opposite side ear lobes and performing situps.

Mistakes usually happen due to lack of knowledge and awareness. The Palikarsha posture stimulates the nadi, nerve which helps enhance neuron cells, their perfect connectivity and thus improves knowledge acquisition and transfer process within the body. It also helps to internalize whatever is learnt and to become more aware.

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Palikarsha

Like this, every simple activity is linked to one of the yogic postures or the other.

Child – An Expert in Yoga

Yoga comes to us naturally right from our childhood.

Many of the different poses that a child does in its antics are yogic poses. As we grow from childhood into youth, we need to continue our practice of Yoga.

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Children bending their bodies in play like Yoga Asanas

Yoga as a structured practice by the adults can be traced to India to beyond 7100 years ago at the very least.

A 7100 Year Old Structured Practice

The general opinion is that Yoga is 5000 years old. But we can see the trace of Yoga even during Ramayana times, 7100 years ago. Yoga was a specialized practice then too and hence must date to times before Rama as well.

Yoga Vasishta

The antiquity of Yoga can be ascertained from the fact that Rama’s Spiritual Guru, Vasishta, counselled and groomed Rama’s mind through the treatise Yoga Vasishta. One of the longest texts in Samskrt after Mahabharata, Yoga Vasishta forms an important text for Yoga and Advaita Vedanta (Non duality).

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Vasishta imparting Yoga Vasishta to Rama – An Illustration on Art of Living CD Cover

Rama’s birth datable to 5114 BCE, makes Yoga Vasishta and the concept of Yoga, atleast 7100 years old.

Continuous practice

From the timeless Veda, we can see that Indians have been in the habit of this continuous practice to keep both mind and body fit. Antiquity can be seen both in art and text.

In art, we can see a continuity of Yoga practice right from Mohenjodaro and Harappan times in the form of terracota Yogic posture figurines.

146 Yoga Poses Fig.jpg

As far as texts go, across the times, illumined minds have given structure to this practice, through a large body of texts, thereby giving Yoga practice, a breath of fresh air every few generations.

Rishi Patanjali and Yoga

Rishi Patanjali, one of the earliest pioneers of Yoga was born in the land known today as Afghanistan.

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An idol of Patanjali

When Rishi Gonika was praying to Surya, Sun with cupped hands – an Anjali Mudra, a yogic posture, a baby fell into it. The child was thus named Patanjali, meaning one who fell into cupped hands.

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Anjali to Surya

Rishi Patanjali had his education at Takshashila University, the premier centre of advanced learning then, which is near present day Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Takshashila was a sought after centre for higher studies in Yoga, Ayurveda among many other subjects.

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Takshashila Ruins of today

Patanjali Rameshwaram Connect

Rishi Patanjali attained his Samadhi in Rameshwaram in South India.

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Rameshwaram Temple

Rama installs Rameshwaram Lingam

Rameshwaram is one of the hallowed places of India, where Rama installed and worshipped a Shiva Lingam, before his battle with Ravana.

More on Rama installing the Lingam at Rameshwarm in our book ‘Historical Rama’.

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Rama praying to Shiva Linga                  Rameshwaram Temple                                                        Historical Rama

Rameshwaram – A Jyothir Linga

The Lingam at Rameshwaram is one of the 12 Jyothir Lingas. We discuss the significance of Jyothir Linga and Rameshwaram in our book ‘Understanding Shiva’.

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Understanding Shiva

It is in such a holy place that Patanjali lived, practised and propagated Yoga and eventually attained samadhi.

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Rishi Patanjali Samadhi, Rameshwaram

Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra composed by Rishi Patanjali, which goes back by many millennia, has been a forerunner and guide for the practice of Yoga in all these years.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra being explained by H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living

Rishi Patanjali recorded, systematized and expounded Yoga through the entire stretch of land from north-west Afghanistan, where He was born, to Rameshwaram in south-east India, where He attained Samadhi.

Thus the structured practice of Yoga was not limited to north India alone, but has stretched from north-west India to south-east India, covering the whole civilization of India.

Shiva-Adi Yogi

Shiva is referred to as Adi Yogi, represented as a bodily form, Shankara.

Indus Valley Pashupathi Seal

Probably one of the earliest representations, can be found in the Harappa – Mohenjodaro seal of Pashupathi, where Shiva or Pashupathi is shown seated in a Padamasana pose with all the animals surrounding Him.

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Pashupathi seal from Harappa

Gundestrup Cauldron

A very interesting archaeological find in Denmark, of a very ancient bowl, at a place called Gundestrup, throws new light on Pashupathi and His following. This bowl, now called the Gundestrup Cauldron, bears in one of its panels, an image very similar to the Pashupathi seal unearthed from the Harappa – Mohenjodaro sites.

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Gundestrup cauldron, Denmark, Unearthed in 1891 Dating back to 150 BCE & Pashupathi

Indo-Euro Yogic connect

This shows that this yogic form was prevalent not only to the Indus Valley sites but even to far away Denmark in North Western Europe.

Krishna – Yogeshwara

Sri Krishna was an exemplary Jnana Yogi. Krishna also speaks about other Yoga such as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Gita Upadesha was given on 22nd November, 3067 BCE. How we have conclusively arrived at this date, is discussed in our book, “Historical Krishna”.

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                  Gita Upadesha                                 Historical Krishna

This implies that Krishna and His Upadesha, counsel on Yoga are historical and real.

This means that Yoga and it benefits are also real.

This positions Yoga as not just exercise postures, Asana, but as knowledge, action, devotion, all coming together, to verily become a harmonious way of life.   

Yogasana and Namaz Postures

There are interesting similarities between Yogasana Postures and the Muslim practice of Namaz.

Namaz Postures have their equivalent names and poses in Yogasana as can been in this chart.

Yogasana Namaz Postures
Namaste Qiyam
Ardha Uttanasana Ruk’u
Vajrasana Julus
Balasana Sujud

yoga

Similarities of Yogasana and Namaz Postures

The similarity of Yogasana and Namaz Postures shows unison. For, Yoga itself means to unite, to come together.

Yoga Travels World Over

This structured practice of Yoga has now travelled and become popular world over as one of the preferred forms of keeping body and mind fit with one move.

Yoga to Near West

A look into the past shows that even Sufi saints from the Near West, Sultans and Mughal kings have interacted with Yogis, with an open mind inorder to learn of the good aspects of Yoga from its master practitioners.

Yoga to Far West

The visit of Swami Vivekananda to US in 1893 was a kick off point for Yoga in the modern international arena. Yoga kicked off and spread as a big  in the US and worldwide.

Yoga to the East

Yoga went to the East from India along with Buddhism more than 2000 years ago, for Dhyan, meditation lies at the heart of Buddhism.

A sitting example is at the west entrance of Wat Phra Kew, the main temple attached to the Grand Palace at Bangkok, Thailand, in the form of a bronze statue popularly called “The Hermit Doctor”.

The locals refer to this statue as their patron of medicine, an Indian hermit Jivaka, who gave them Yoga and herbal medicine and hence offer prayers and other offerings here, to get cured of illnesses.  This Jivaka was none other than the personal physician of the Buddha.

This statue at the front of the temple is placed on a stone pedestal, with another pedestal in front, bearing a stone mortar and pestle – an indication of how he practiced medicine with herbs, he used to grind.

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Jivaka, Patron Hermit of Yoga and Medicine, Wat Phra Kew, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Further more, many Yoga postures can be seen displayed by statues in the gardens of Wat Pho, the temple adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, which houses the Reclining Buddha and is home to the original Thai massage. Housing many plaques with inscriptions on the pressure points in the human body, this temple from a long time has been renowned as a study centre for Ayurveda including Thai style of massages and Yoga.

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Statues depicting Yoga Postures at Wat Pho Temple in Thailand, Bangkok

The statue, 2nd from left in the 2nd row, just under the large leafed plant can be seen

doing Pranayama, breathing exercise, with his hands on his waist

Yoga, Now a Global Brand

It was Paramahamsa Yogananda and then Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri. Krishnamacharya, Sri B.K.S.Iyengar, their disciples and Gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev, who have literally taken Yoga to the world.

World Yoga Day

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a clarion call to have an World Yoga Day declared, to raise awareness of keeping mind and body fit through Yoga.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in his address to UN Assembly in September 2014, made a request to formalize a World Yoga day. The UN body adopted this resolution and passed it with a overwhelming majority in December 2014.

The world now has a new day to observe and celebrate – A World Yoga Day!

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June 21st of every year, which is the day of Summer Solstice, i.e. the day when the Sun is seen longest in the sky, the day when daylight is maximum, was declared by UN on 12th December 2014, as World Yoga Day.

It is an apt day to be chosen as a World Yoga Day for every Yoga session typically starts with Surya Namaskar, the reverence to the Sun. What could be a better day than a Summer Solstice, the day when the Sun is in its peak to revere and celebrate the connection between our body and the Sun. It is the connection which drives the very metabolism clock in our bodies.

What is even more amazing is that, the proposal from India to the UN, to declare June 21st as World Yoga Day was seconded and co-sponsored by an unprecedented number of 175 nations out of 193.

This is indeed a remarkable feat. Normally, so many countries coming together in the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution for a commemorating day is rare.

For the 1st time so many nations have unanimously voted for a declaration in the history of UN General Assembly and that too within a record 3 months of the proposal having been put up in September 2014.

This in itself is proof of the universal acceptance of Yoga.

The popularity of Yoga and universality of Yoga, is what led so many countries to come together to jointly announce a World Yoga Day.

“Yoga embodies

  • unity of mind and body;
  • thought and action;
  • restraint and fulfilment;
  • harmony between man and nature;
  • a holistic approach to health and well being.” ,

were the words with which India described Yoga and garnered this support.

No wonder then that people across the globe, across times have therefore held and continue to hold Yoga in high respect and demand. The need for Yoga and the benefits of Yoga are as universal, as is our breath and our desire to be in union with the divine.

Yoga is a universal offering from India which has the potential to align all bodies and minds, across the world, towards the common goal of self realization, oneness, unity and peace.

Father’s Day

The third Sunday of June is celebrated as Father’s day.

Initiated by Sonoro

The idea was first initiated by Sonora Smart Dodd in the year 1910.

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Proclaimed by President Johnson

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In the year 1966, after many a tribulations, US President Lyndon B Johnson officially proclaimed Father’s day to be celebrated on the third Sunday of every June.

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Pithru Devo Bhava

In the Indian thought, father is referred to as Divine, Pithru Devo Bhava.

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Pitr Paternal Peter Petra

The word Pitr, meaning father in Samskrt language is etymological similar to the English word ‘paternal’, from which came the word ‘father’. The word is also similar to the European name Peter and the famous archaeological city, Petra in Jordon.

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Ptah

The Egyptian Father God is called Ptah. Here also, the word Ptah is found to be both phonetically and conceptually similar to the Indian word Pitah, meaning father.

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More on this is discussed is our book Creation.

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Father’s name for lineage

In almost all civilizations of the world, their children take on their father’s name or father’s lineage. Even in a matriarchal or matrilineal society, it is the father’s name that is carried forth.

Biological sharing: X and Y

Of the two chromosome, a Father has X and Y chromosomes while the mother has only X chromosomes. A father thus shares both X and Y chromosomes with his offsprings.

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Not just biological

The word Pitr, father is however not be limited to a biological father. Infact the word Father has a more encompassing connotation such as,

• Father to family
• Father to community
• Father to society
• Father to nation

There is a distinctive role for the Father at each of the levels.

Mahatma Gandhi

In case of India, Mahatma Gandhi is referred to as Father of the Nation, for the great role he played in the Freedom of the country.

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God Father

The Italians brought in a concept of God Father apart from the biological father wherein you need a benefactor to progress through life.

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Purusha

Thus, the father is not just a provider for life, but also a benefactor.

In Samskrt, this role is referred to as Purusha. The Sun is Purusha, Father for this Solar System.

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Pitahmahah Brahma

Not only that, even today, the word Pitahmahah in India, is also used to denote Brahma, who is revered as the Father of Creation.

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Bhishma Pitahmahah

In Mahabharata, Bhishma is referred to as Bhishma Pitahmahah, meaning, the great father even though he did not sire any children.

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Encompassing Father

Thus, we see that the word Father has an all encompassing connotation.

On every Father’s day, let us recognize the role that the fathers play in raising his family, for it is the family bond which holds the community, society and a nation together.