Kasi-Tamilagam A Traditional Connect

Our book Kasi-Tamilagam A Traditional Connect in 3 languages, English, Tamil and Hindi, to commemorate the timeless bond between Tamilagam and Kasi, was released by the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi on 19 Nov, 2022.

This book carries a Felicitation Message from the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri.R.N.Ravi.

This book also contains Benedictory Messages for the readers from Pujya Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swami of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and from Sri la Sri Kasiwasi Muthukumaraswamy Thambiran Swamigal of Thiruppanandal Adheenam.

Why this book?

Each place has its glories. Similarly, Kasi and Tamilagam too glow with their respective glories.

The name Kasi itself means to Glow. The Glow of Kasi has spread all over the land. The Glow of Kasi spread to Tamilagam too many, many millennia ago.

This book, Kasi Tamilagam Connect, traces some of the glowing factors of Kasi that have reached Tamilagam and vice-versa.

This compilation on the connect between Kasi and Tamilagam, is not just about a set of data points to be connected.

It is an effort to present people with connections that will lift their thoughts to a higher plane, inspire them and elevate them to greater heights as a well-connected, well-rounded Indian, a true Bharati. 

This book is a tribute to the long lineage of noble people who have relished this connect and expressed it in their own ways.

Starting from Rishi Agasthya from time immemorial who came from Kashi to Tamilagam, to the Siddhars, Saints, Scholars, Philosophers, Mystics, Poets, Musicians from Tamil Nadu who have travelled to Kashi, this book traces the spiritual imprints left by them in both these regions and in the overall knowledge and heritage of this civilization.

It also showcases the similarities between these 2 lands, its people and their cultural practices.

It highlights as to why Kashi has been held significant by this civilization and its influence on the people of Tamilagam.

Our civilization is rooted in Parampara which is to share the knowledge and practices Paar –  Paar – Paar i.e beyond and beyond and beyond, across generations and across times.

This book is for coming generations to get a quick bird’s eye view of this timeless connect.

It has been authored by D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari who are founders of Bharath Gyan, an endeavour in Indian Civilization Knowledge Studies.

The Kashi Tamil Sangamam is a significant step towards physically reviving the bond between the people of Kashi and Tamilagam. This book, Kasi-Tamilagam A Traditional Connect augments their journey by highlighting the antiquity, spirituality and vitality of this ageless connect.

Niyuddha Kala – Martial Arts In India

Niyuddha Kala as the name goes suggests that, which is a Yuddha but fought in close combat, like a duel. This is in contrast to Yuddha which is like a battle fought between two sides/armies using different modes of warfare.

The word Kala with Niyuddha suggests its practice as an art form. The line separating this practice as an art form from battle mode is very thin. As an art form the purpose can range from basic fitness to personal satisfaction to a spiritual experience.

India has been a centre not only for spiritual knowledge and practices but this knowledge had also shown the people how important it is to keep the body fit too. Fit not just to fight off illnesses but also to fight off threats to their society and civilization.

A lasting reminder of this fact is the presence of many Akahadas in India even today, where the sanyasis train in and practice martial arts besides spiritual practices.

A strong reminder of the timelessness of this art form is the presence of the picture of Hanuman, who is held as the divinity for Strength and Courage, Balam and Dhairyam, in many of these Akahadas.

A continuity of this aspect of Hanuman’s strength can be found in the tale of an encounter between Bhima and Hanuman during Mahabharata times, where Bhima and many others too were exponents of Martial Arts.

Martial Arts can be traced earlier to Parasurama. After creating the land of Malabar and Konkan, Parasurama established 108 centres of Martial Arts in this land.

Parasurama travelled all over the land of Bharata from South West India, in present day Kerala which is traditionally known as Parasurama Kshetra to different parts such as Ayodhya, Janakapuri etc. all the way upto the North Eastern part of India – eastern part of present-day Arunachal Pradesh, where we find the Parasurama Kund, the place where He did Dhayana during Sankranti Utsav in His times. To this day, Parasurama Bhakt go on Yatra to this Teerth on Sankranti.

Wherever Parasurama went, He set up centres of Martial Arts which have carried forward the tradition and training through the times.

Martial Arts was also popular and practiced during Mahabharata times as showcased by the duel between Mal Yuddha experts such as Bhima and Jarasandha and earlier between Krishna and Chanura as well as Balarama and Mushtika. Duryodhana was an exponent of martial arts too.

Today, people look upto China, Japan and Korea for Martial Arts. It was Bodhidharma, a Pallava prince from Kanchipuram in South India, who took this form of art to Vietnam and China from where it spread to Japan, Korea and other parts of S.E.Asia.

The very name Mamallapuram comes from the name Mamalla for its king, whose name means one who is an expert in Mal, wrestling form of Martial Arts.

Kerala even today has a temple dedicated for Martial Arts with a dedicated Devi called Kalari Amman in Kannur.

Mysore continues to host Martial Arts competitions and displays within its palace during the Dassera celebrations every year.

Thus, Martial Arts can be traced across the length and breadth of the land. While Kusthi, wrestling is the basic form of Martial art, there are local forms of martial arts with and without weapons, that have been practiced across the different regions of Bharat.

For instance,

  1. in the North-West, we can see martial arts having flourished in the form of Gatka and Sastra / Shastar Vidya of Punjab
  2. in the North-East, we can see it in Thang – Ta forms of armed and unarmed martial arts of Manipur. One can also see it in the ancient local wrestling form of Mukna in Manipur, which evolved to become Mukna Kangjei, the local form of ball and stick game, the precursor to the sport of hockey.
  3. in the East, we can see it being practiced and performed in the Paika Akhadas of Odisha. One cannot forget that one of the early revolutions against the British, even prior to the 1857 freedom struggle was from Paika in Odisha. Bengal also has its very own Lathi-khela form of martial art while Bihar has Pari Khanda a form of sword fighting that was practiced by Rajputs. Khanda means sword. A popular form of Shiva in Maharashtra who carries a sword is called Khandoba. These martial arts can be seen reflected in the popular Chhau dance of eastern parts of India.
  4. in the West, we have had the Marathas popularizing the Mardani Khel form of martial art and employing it successfully in their warfare against the Mughals and British
  5. Western and Central India have also been honing their martial arts skills using the Mallakhamb or the wrestling pole
  6. in North-India, the Kashmir region has its Sqay form of sword fighting martial art, while Varanasi has its own Mushti form of Kusthi
  7. in South-India, Tamilagam has been using forms of Martial arts such as Silambam, Mal Yuddham, Kara Tandavam etc., while Kerala has its own form called Kalari Payattu, Cheramam and so on. Andhra has its Kathi Samu and Karnataka still continues to host competitions in Indian Martial Arts during Dassera in Mysore.

These are just few of the prominent ones among the numerous forms that can still be seen in these regions in the realm of display performance, sport as well as in dance or percussion performances too, today.

Kumbh congregations are incomplete without the presence of Akahadas which are schools for sanyasis who also train in martial arts. For, these Akahadas were formed to protect the Dharmic civilization from external onslaughts, which they did valiantly for a 1000 years. After the 1857 Freedom struggle, the British Government banned most of the Akhadas as they could be places of potential uprisings against their oppressive rule. This made it illegal to practice to martial arts in India.

Post-Independence in the modern era, these Martial Arts have become Olympic sports.

Haryana with their Akhadas have become a training centre now for practising the wrestling form of Martial arts and have been winning laurels for India in international competitions and Olympics.

The trail of Martial Arts can thus be traced both forward and backward in times until present day, going to show how this civilization has not forgotten this art form albeit its practice having been played down a little in the last century.

While today, many of these artforms are seen as art performances, these martial arts have quietly played their role in the many struggles and resistances that this civilization has put up against external invading forces, to keep itself alive.

Each mode of combat has its place, role and significance for all times.

Hence the need to not only preserve them but also to propagate them for the benefits of good health that they offer to the practitioner too.

It is a tradition that we should be justifiably proud of. For, on the whole, martial arts has been a hoary tradition of this land going back by over 7 Millennnia.

More on various aspects of Martial arts in our following book and films:

Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat – Connecting India Series

This land called India i.e Bharat is commemorating its 75th year of Independence. It is being celebrated all over the land as Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav.

Bharat has always looked at itself, as not just independent kingdoms or a political entity, but more from the perspective of a cultural entity and a civilizational unit. This civilizational aspect of Bharat goes back many millennia into hoary times. All through these times, the people of different kingdoms, regions, languages, traditions, parampara have always looked at themselves from a higher identity of upholding the Dharma of being Bharatiya.

It is this realization that has prompted the government of New India to come up with the slogan Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat i.e Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham in Tamil.

This slogan brings out the facet that not only are we one nation, one civilization, one culture, a Kalacharam but that, we also take justifiable pride in appreciating the qualities of Bharat, the achievements of Bharat, the accomplishments of the people of Bharat through the ages. These have been in the realms of the products that we have produced and traded with the world as well as the elevated thoughts that we have similarly shared with other civilizations of the world through the millennia.

This knowledge aptly urges us to coin the term Sreshta Bharat or Unnatha Bharatham which conveys that we were leaders in the world community, both in material wealth and knowledge wealth. Through the last millennia, when people of this land, our forefathers fought for this land and its freedom, they fought, not for its geographical area but equally importantly, probably more importantly – for the values, the ethos, the practices, traditions, festivals of this culture and the civilization.

Through Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat i.e Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham we can dwell on facets, aspects that our civilization can be rightfully proud of. Not only be proud of but more importantly, know of these aspects, its layers and the reasons behind the same. This knowledge and the sense of pride, Abhiman, about our culture, civilization and land, in turn will help us recognize how fortunate we are, to be born in this Sreshta Bharat / Unnatha Bharatham land.

At Bharath Gyan, for the last 25 years, we have been researching and compiling these wonderful facets of Bharat and have brought this out in a range of mediums such as multimedia presentations, over 500 short films and 500 articles. We have also documented all this in over 100 volumes under the title Autobiography of India.

During travels across India, one observes that the practices, traditions and sentiments of the people are common in different parts of India even though the languages they speak may be different, the food may taste different and the attire they wear may look different. The connecting cultural thread is strong, distinct and palpable.

This, is the reason, New India, in the new millennia is seeing a cultural Renaissance.

It is recognizing its strengths, its connects and expressing it to its own citizens through such programs of Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat or Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham. This Renaissance propels us to showcase ourselves to the world with a sense of identity and pride.

It is keeping this in mind that we have thought it fit to deliver talks as a series called Inaikkum Bharatham Thodar i.e Connecting India series, under the larger umbrella of Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat or Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham, through which one can get to learn of these rich, wonderful and common aspects that connects each one with the others in this country, nation, civilization and also with the rest of the globe.

The first of its kind was hosted by the Hon. Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri. R.N.Ravi at the Raj Bhavan, Chennai between 9th to 11th October, 2022 for students, researchers and faculty from different Universities of Tamil Nadu. It is planned to conduct many more such sessions for the youth, to take these learnings to their friends and family back home so that, together they can relish, celebrate and bond with the spirit of this Unnatha Bharatham.

Bharath Gyan Founders, Dr.D.K.Hari and Dr.D.K.Hema Hari being felicitated by Hon. Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri.R.N.Ravi, with Principal Secretary to Governor, Shri.Anandrao V Patil looking on, for delivering talks of the 6 sessions of the Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham – Inaikkum Bharatham Thodar held at Durbar Hall, Raj Bhavan, Chennai on 10th and 11th October, 2022

We have to get to know ourselves better. What makes each of us special? What are the great achievements of our forefathers which have gone to make Bharat a long standing, continuously living, sustainable civilization and culture?

This will help us decide what each of us has to do in our generation to keep this going for the future generations to come. So that they too will have Bharat as a place to belong to, a culture to take pride in and a civilization all around, to relate to.

2 Intertwined Ancient Languages Of India – Tamil And Samskrt

2 Wonderful Languages

One often wonders about the 2 most ancient languages of the Indian Civilization – Tamil / Tamizh and Samskrt.

Whether these two have a common source?

Whether these two have a connect?

Which of these came first?

We find that these 2 ancient languages of India – Tamil and Samskrt, have similar antiquity for, they both show that their origins have the same roots – in the senses and in life.

They are twin languages and this idea is intrinsic as documented in their respective primary texts. The way of documentation is also almost identical too.

Tamil and Samskrt are thus sibling languages of India and are not one before or after another.

The clue to this comes from an analysis of how the early grammarians of these 2 languages have documented the origins of these 2 languages in their independent works.

  • Tolkappiyam by Tamil Grammarian Tolkappiyar
  • Ashtadhyayi by Samskrt Grammarian Panini.

An Interesting Observation

The works of both Panini and Tolkappiyar contain direct and inferred pointers to the human senses and to life, in the evolution of their respective languages.

While Panini brings this out explicitly by calling it the Shiva Sutra, Tolkappiyam has an implicit connect.

A Sound Based Connect, A Sound Connect

Tracing The Origins

Both these works list the basic units of sounds in the language and discusses ways to use them by ordering them in certain specific patterns. Interestingly there is a similarity in this arrangement of sounds into vowels and consonants and how they are to be joined.

One can see a tracing

  1. of these basic units of sounds, to their perception by the human senses (Indriyam) and
  2. of the possibility of such a perception, only when the human is conscious and alive (Shivam). A dead corpse (Shavam) cannot perceive.

Thus, the overall trace of sounds goes back

  • from the spoken language,
  • to the perception of sounds through our senses, Indriyam
  • to the living, conscious intellect which then discerns them and makes sense out of them, a Shivam.

A Deep Understanding Of Sound

We see a commonality in the understanding of the science of speaking sounds, listening to them and making sense out of them as a language. We also see a beautiful commonality in the combination of the sounds to form words that are adapted to local contexts and local factors such as topography, climate, hydrology, physical features, needs and such other natural aspects.

Such a commonality in understanding the origin of language is expressed by both these works through the similarity in the arrangement of the spoken sounds in these 2 languages. Both of them order the syllables as sets of vowels and consonants. Their ordering shows their deep understanding of the physics of sound and the physiology of humans. For, speech is emitted by the human body in accordance with the scientific principles of resonance and modulation in the air column, regulated by the throat and moderated by the tongue and buccal cavity.

The 3rd chapter of Tolkappiyam, Pirappu Iyal, actually describes how the air moves along the human body and produces various sounds. This is very similar to the explanation of the science of producing human sounds in Samskrt too.

Common Expression of a Common Phenomenon

Only a sound understanding of human sounds can produce such a scientific organization of the basic syllables of a language. And such a scientific expression of a common phenomenon, can have only one natural way of ordering and expression. This is what we find common in both these languages.

Aindiram Nirainda – Fully Developed Senses

The implicit connect of these sounds with the senses and the aspect of human life and consciousness is seen in both the works as follows:

  • Panini explicitly calls it as Shiva Sutra, revealed by Shiva
  • Tolkappiyam on the other hand, has a Prologue by a poet called Panapaaranaar who refers to Tolkappiyar as “Aindiram Nirainda”, meaning one full of Aindiram.

Aindiram means that which is derived from Indra or as one whose 5 senses, Indriyam are fully developed.

Aindiram is also the name of a literary work of Maya / Mayan and is considered as one of the early Tamil grammar works that preceded even Tolkappiyam.

Even though Aindiram of Mayan is spoken of as a Grammar text, Tamil scholars especially from the field of Shilpa Shastra and Astronomy, which were the forte of Mayan give us a wider perspective of Aindiram.  Aindiram of Mayan is a work that describes the grammar by which the subtle elements and consciousness interact and get transformed into physical manifestations of spaces, beings, forms and their interactions.

Mayan lists out interplay of 5 such aspects and hence, Aindiram. Aindu is 5 in Tamil.

The reference to Tolkappiyar as “Aindiram niraindha” therefore portrays him as

  • one who is well versed with the Aindiram work of Mayan and hence
  • one where all the 5 senses are also exalted.

What is Grammar actually?

Grammar in reality, is a set of rules by which sounds of syllables as well as forms of letters, can combine and interact to form words and sentences to listen to as well as see in written form.

The English Translation of Maya’s Aindiram has a beautiful Foreword by the renowned Shilpi and Vaastu expert Shri. Ganapathy Sthapathy, which highlights the above aspect of Grammar.

It is about the process through which, what is perceived by the mind in the form of light or sound, can be brought out as concrete forms – be they scripts, designs, shapes, forms, structures and entities.

And such a manifestation cannot be possible without the ability / potential of the Cosmos to be able to manifest itself, which is what is auspiciousness i.e Shiva or Mangalam.

Expanding Our Scope of Understanding

When we are dealing with such antique and insightful works, we cannot limit our thinking to Lord Shiva or a Lord Indra as historic people who can pen works. Nor are they mythology. They are symbolisms of Natural and factual, Cosmic principles which are insights gained by our ancient Rishis / Seers.

Such Divinities are Tattva, cosmic principles and the human interface with them needs a careful, wholesome handling.

In Tolkappiyam, rather than a direct reference to Lord Shiva as a God by name, we rightfully find reference to the context of auspiciousness in the usage of the word “Shivaniya” in the preface.

Tolkappiyar is being credited with having searched out and discerned the naturally occurring letters, sounds and meanings from antique Prose and Poetry works in Ancient Tamil, which have been auspiciously produced by this Nature blessed land and having arranged these letters and sounds in an order, skillfully.

This is what Panini is also credited with, similarly.

North and South – An Intertwining

Same Author – Mayan/Maya

There are about 60 works of Mayan, authored in Tamil, which are available today. At the same time there are numerous works by Mayan in Samskrt too. Mayan is a historical personage and is credited with the Maya Sabha of the historic Mahabharatha events, which took place in Indraprasta in present day Delhi, i.e in North India.

So, where can one draw the line between Samskrt and Tamil?

Same OM

While, some of the words may be different in phonology, the thoughts, meanings and premise seem not.

OM seems to be at the base of the knowledge of both the grammarians.

Aindiram is based on the light and sound of OM and Tolkappiyar is eulogized as one who knows the Aindiram. OM, is also the root syllable associated with Muruga or Kartikeya, the Divinity for the Tamil Language itself.

A telling expression of such similarity, more in thought is seen by other words too.

Common Respect To Veda In Sangam Times

The preface to Tolkappiyam also describes a scene of King Nilam Tharu Thiruvin Pandiyan’s court. Here, Tolkappiyar is described as having expounded his Tolkappiyam in this king’s court, amidst those who spoke virtuous words and were rooted in wisdom of the 4 Veda / Marai in Tamil.

King Nilam Tharu Thiruvin Pandiyan is the one who leads the people from Kumari Kandam onto mainland India when the original Pandya kingdom is submerged in the 2nd Sangam deluge.  This is the King who led and gave his people a new land i.e Nilam at present day Madurai.

The mention of Veda during Tolkappiyar’s times itself shows its prevalence in South India and a deep respect for Veda by this old Sangam Tamil king.

This reference also helps to fix the Tolkappiyam work around this ecological time period, dateable to the Tsunami that engulfed Dwaraka in the year 3031 BCE. Information with regard to this dating can be found in our books Triple Eclipse and Historical Krishna – Volumes 1 and 2.

Same Set of 5 – The Panchabhuta

The Veda speak of how the Universe gets manifested from the subtle, through a process called Panchikaranam, which is an interplay of 5 primordial elements. Aindiram, which is a precursor to Tolkappiyam, also touches upon a similar interplay of 5.

Mayan and Vishwakarma

If Veda contain Vishwakarma Sukta to describe this process of Creation, Aindiram is by Mayan who is also a Vishwakarma.

If during Rama’s times, Ravana took the help of Mayan to build his Lanka, during Krishna’s times, Krishna took the help of Vishwakarma to build His Dwaraka and the Pandava got Mayan to build their Mayasabha.

So, how does one differentiate one language from the other, except for the spoken sounds, when the meaning, theme, ethos are all similar?

For that matter, how can anyone ever indicate which came first or which influenced which?

The Visible Connection

What one can instead see is that, while they have independent phonology in some respects, which might show the 2 languages to be seemingly different, they have common ideology as far as Cosmology is concerned. Also, their basis for source of language goes back to the origins of the Universe from the subtle and the 5 elements as well as the rhythm, order and science in it.

Shiva and Indra, implied in both Ashtadhyayi and Tolkappiyam are to be understood in the light of Shiva being the Consciousness and Divinity for Panchabhuta which creates matter / manifestation, which in turn brings about Indriyam, the 5 senses, with Indra as their Divinity, which help us perceive the world and communicate with each other and Nature. The word Shiva for this Tattva, which is the potential to manifest, therefore means Mangalam or Auspiciousness.

That is the beauty of our age-old civilizational culture.

The beauty is in how across Samskrt and Tamil languages, the great grammarians have had a common view of how language comes to humans.

From all of this, we can see that Tamil and Samskrt are thus,

  • similar in antiquity.
  • similar in understanding the source of the language.
  • similar in way of expressing their origin.

This convergence in thought and the elevated understanding of the subtle aspects of existence shows a far greater connect beyond words and etymology of the words in the languages themselves.

It far outweighs the fact that

  • at times one can see a variance in the words used by the 2 languages for the same aspect and
  • many a times, one can also see a commonality in many of the words used by the 2 languages for the same aspect.

This is Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat – Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham.

And it is a timeless connect.

Samruddha Bharat – A Water and Prosperity Connect

Bharat – A Land With Sunlight, Water and Samruddhi

Our land is called Bharat and that means a place that verily enjoys Bha, the light of the Sun, which is called by names such as Bhaskara meaning one who makes light or Bhanu, one who is full of splendour.

But along with light, this land also enjoys rains that come at the same time, each year and that too just after the scorching summer, so that together they create a salubrious season for crops to grow.

Besides the Sun and the Rain, Mother Earth has also endowed this land with a terrain and topography such that, the land is surrounded by Seas and covered by a network of rivers, many of which, besides the glacier fed rivers, were perennial.

All of these contributed to this land

  • growing lot of food and other exotic produce using water
  • manufacturing various essential artefacts using water and labour
  • transporting these goods inland using the network of rivers
  • exporting these produce to other lands via sea and seaworthy ships and
  • earning lot of wealth and prosperity, Samruddhi in turn for the civilization.

The Wisdom

Despite such flowing rivers, our ancestors had also considered it necessary to create man-made water bodies that can save rain water. For, they knew that, despite all the rains that this land gets, it pours only for 4 months in a year and that water has to be collected and used for the rest of the year.

They had thus ingeniously created local, indigenous ways of storing water that leveraged local topographical features and catered to local needs.

It is these local water bodies, enumerated in 1800s to be over 9 lakh 50 thousand in number, that ensured year-round ability to have 3 harvests – 3 Bhog which created the abundance in this civilization.

A Misunderstanding

Many city dwellers are under the impression that the major needs of water for life are for drinking, bathing and washing and industry.

Little do we realize that the major consumption of water is for growing the food we eat.

Furthermore, 1 kilo of meat requires 10 times the amount of water as compared to water needed for growing 1 kilo of grains.

The Stark Reality – Water, a Finite Resource

Water is a renewable resource. At the same time, it is not an infinite but a finite resource.

The amount of water available globally, while it seems large, is in fact very limited. For, nearly 98 % of the water on earth is in the form of salt water in the seas and oceans. This water is not useful for industry, agriculture or for animals and humans.

Trying to harness this brackish sea water through the modern reverse osmosis process is not only capital intensive and costly but the annual operations and maintenance costs are prohibitive too. That puts almost 98% of water on earth, out of our reach.

Given this scenario we have to depend on the balance, little over 2% water for our water needs.

A substantial portion of this 2% of fresh water too, is locked up as ice in the 2 poles, the ice caps on snow covered mountains and the heavy glaciers in them.  They form about 1.725 % of the total water on earth.

So, what is left as flowing fresh water, is hardly 0.025 % of all the water in the world.

Flowing fresh water is thus not infinite, but finite and very miniscule

The Challenge

Human population on the other hand has been growing steadily, adding about one billion to its population every few decades. This means that the same quantity of water has to be shared by a billion more people every 10 years, which means that there is going to be less and less water for each individual, for their needs of life, as the years roll by.

So, unless we take a leaf out of our ancestors’ practice of saving water and do so ourselves, we are going to face a scarcity of water soon.

We need to not only revive the old water bodies left behind by our forefathers for us, but we also have to build many more to match the growth in population and growing needs too.

Rivers are happy to flow where we lead them.

It is for us to first make them flow.

Make them flow perennially and fully.

Make them flow as much, all across the land before they run into the sea.

Make them flow to as many local water bodies where they can remain for the rest of the year.

With all this flow, will come flowing prosperity, Samruddhi once again.

Kumbha Mela – eBook

The Kumbha Mela is one of the oldest and largest congregations of Indian civilization. In a sense, it is a congregation more than a festival.

Indian thought and practices over time immemorial have commemorated certain days and festivals as ways and means for people to understand, remember and reunite with the Universe and the scientific divinities of the Universe. These festivals become gateways for people to reach out and be in communion with these divinities.

See #BharathGyan ebook – “The Kumbh” :

Karva Chauth

The 4th phase of the moon in the dark fortnight, i.e. after the Full Moon in the month of Karthika, is observed as the day of Karva Chauth.

Karva Chauth is the day when married women fast from sunrise to sunset for the protection and longevity of their husbands.

1

Karva means a ‘pot’ and Chauth means ‘fourth’ in Samskrt – an obvious reference to the ‘fourth day after Full Moon’. There is a legend associated with why this day got the name Karva Chauth.

The legend

A woman called Karva was deeply in love with her husband. One day while bathing in a river, a crocodile caught hold of her husband. She prayed to Yama, the divinity of death, to release her husband from imminent death. Yama respecting her love and steadfastness, her Vrta, bestowed him back to her. Such stories are replete in every culture, in every land, through the times. Commemorating these stories, women observe Karva Chauth, with steadfastness through fasting Vrta, for the health, Ayush, life of their loved ones, starting from their husband. But why in the month of Karthika?

A period of harvest and military campaign

A Jawan, soldier and a Kisan, farmer form the backbone of any civilization. Karva Chauth falls around the period when the wheat is sown. Wheat is stored in pots, Karva. Karva Chauth is the day when women pray for a good harvest for their husbands, the Kisans, farmers, so that the Karvas are always full. In ancient days, the period around Karva Chauth was also the time when soldiers ventured out on military campaigns.  The women used to conduct prayers on Karva Chauth then, for the protection of their husbands during a battle.

War Window

In ancient times, there was a clear war window. During monsoon it is not possible to go to battle. Soon after the monsoons was the apt time to go to battle.

The Rama – Ravana War was fought after the south west monsoon.

2

The Ramayana battle was fought post south west monsoon

The famous Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra was also fought after the monsoons, before winter.

3

Mahabharata War was fought post monsoons

India’s East Pakistan war of 1971, for liberation of Bangladesh, was also fought after the monsoons.

4

The Bangladesh Liberation War which also took place after the monsoons

Like this, through the ages, post monsoon was considered an apt window to go to war.

Why only women observed Karva Chauth?

From those days, to the present days, it is mainly men who have been going to war and women have stayed back to look after the families, their farms, their other household activities. So, it is natural, that the women prayed for the safe return of their men folk, victorious in war. It was given this, that Karva Chauth festival was observed by the women in this window.

For the sake of battle going men

In ancient days, it was not just the soldiers, the kshatriya who went to war, but also those belonging to other classes of the society. For example, the agriculturists and medics also went to battle to support their warriors.

This day was mainly observed for those husband folks who took part in a battle. It is this day that has permeated down to all classes of society as the Karva Chauth festival today.

SIMILAR festival, ACROSS LAND, THROUGH THE YEAR

If we see, there are other similar observances in other parts of the land through the year, observed by women for the wellbeing of their entire family.

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Women Deified

In Pre-modern India, women observing Karwa Chauth were deified and worshipped. Paintings depict woman on fast as embodiment of Goddess.

Also, in this land, women have been known for their valour and bravery across the times. Women have also held and fought with swords.

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Selflessness of women

Such observances in present times show the selflessness of women, their caring nature and the affection they have for their husbands, their family and society.

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Such timeless festivals showcase the innate steadfast nature of women and their concern for their family and near and dear. They bring out the noble qualities of women wherever they are, whatever language they may speak, whatever they may eat, whatever they may wear and however they may look!

More details available in our book  “Deepavali”.

Kargil Vijay Divas

Kargil Divas

Kargil Vijay Divas is observed, the day when Indian soldiers overcame the Pakistani insurgents and successfully regained control over the high posts in Kargil and Drass sector, earlier lost to Pakistani intruders.

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Kargil on Map

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Kargil

In honour of Kargil heroes

527 Indian soldiers were martyred, and around 1088 soldiers were wounded in this Kargil War. Kargil Vijay Divas was instituted to honour these Kargil war heroes. Every year, citizens of the nation, pay homage to the Kargil heroes at Amar Jawan Jyoti at Indian Gate, Delhi and at Kargil hills, in Kashmir valley.

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Kargil Hills Memorial

Many programmes are held all over India to remember the sacrifices made by the Indian Army then. Shaurya, valour awards were given to these soldiers and officers.

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Amar Jawan Jyoti

Pakistani soldiers indisguise

In the year 1999, Pakistani Armed Forces were training and sending soldiers, disguised as jihadi militants, into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC).

To delink Ladakh & Kashmir

This infiltration which they called “Operation Badr” was intended to break the link between Ladakh and Kashmir by forcing the Indian soldiers to retreat from the Siachen Glacier. The goal was to force a negotiated solution from India.

Indian Soldiers caught unawares

Initially, the Indian soldiers were not aware of the nature of this infiltration. The Indian forces thought that this infiltration was by jihadis and resolved to eliminate them.

Another infiltration

In the next few days, another infiltration was observed along another part of LOC. The nature of this infiltration was very much different from the previous one which made the Indian Army to seriously study these infiltrations.

Discovering the nature of attack

On further analysis, the Indian forces realized that the enemy’s plan was much bigger and that Pakistani soldiers in disguise, had infact captured around 200 kms of Indian Territory.

‘Operation Vijay’

The Indian Government soon launched the Operation Vijay with 2 lakh Indian soldiers. The Battle which began on May 27th, lasted for 62 days and ended on July 26th.

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Indian Soldiers attacking the intruders

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Indian Soldiers in action during Kargil

India stood steadfast

India stood steadfast all through the war, whereas the Pakistani Prime Minister went to US on July 4th to meet the then President Clinton and then to China, to seek help. Incidentally, July 4th was American Independence Day.

Whereas, India did not go soliciting for help, to maintain its territorial integrity.

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Nawaz Sharif with Bill Clinton seeking help

The Success

The Indian soldiers were successful in pushing back the Pakistani intruders beyond the Line of Control and regaining the lost territory. It is to be noted that it was India’s conscious decision not to escalate the war beyond the Kargil and Drass sectors.

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Indian soldiers hoisting Indian flag after regaining Kargil

Many Films

The victory lifted the morale of every Indian. The sentiment in India was so high, that, a number of films were made on this war. LOC Kargil was one of the first films. Shot in Ladakh, this film gives a detailed account of Operation Vijay. The Film Dhoop was released in 2003 with the Kargil war as a backdrop. Another film Lakshya was released, a fictional story based on the Kargil war.

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LOC Kargil

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Dhoop

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Lakshya

Not to forget

This year, the 18th anniversary of the Kargil victory is being observed. The war might be over, but we should not forget those who sacrificed their lives in the battle. It is not enough we if just recall the sacrifices of those who gave up their ‘today’ for our ‘tomorrow’. It is time we ensure that, they get their injury benefits without any delay, which has sadly been delayed for the last many years on petty grounds.

Make it a Policy

It should also be made a policy that the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, along with ministers visit the Kargil Hills Memorial, every year, to pay homage to our Kargil martyrs who then saved Kashmir for us by giving up their lives.

Naga Panchami / Garuda Panchami

Naga Panchami / Garuda Panchami is celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar.

Festival for Arch Rivals

Panchami is the fifth phase of the moon. Nag is snake and Garuda is eagle. Both are arch enemies. How come there is a festival on the same day for these 2 arch rivals?

Arch rivals

Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies

‘Garuda Constellation’

Let us fist understand this time of the year first. It is the month of Shravan. This means the Full Moon in this month occurs near the Shravan Star. This star is identified with Altair of Aquila constellation. This constellation is likened to an eagle in the sky.

Aquila

Aquila, Shravan constellation

There are many Indian legends associated with why this constellation has been called Shravan.

Coming to the point of Garuda Panchami, this Aquila, eagle, Garuda constellation is prominent in this Shravan month as the full moon occurs here. Hence the Panchami of this month being referred to as Garuda Panchami.

‘Snake Constellation’

Now, look at this from the point of view of the sun. When it is Full Moon, the sun is directly opposite in the sky on the other side of the earth. i.e this month, the sun will be near the Aslesha star in the sky. Aslesha star is likened to the snake, the constellation Hydra in the sky.

Hydra

Hydra, Aslesha Constellatioin

Hence with reference to the sun, this Panchami is a Naga Panchami as the sun is close to Hydra, the snake.

Rivals in the Sky

The Aslesha star and the Shravan star are almost diagonally opposite in the sky being 13 stars away from each other in the lineup of 27 Nakshatra in the sky as per Indian Astronomy.

We see the snake, Naga and the eagle, Garuda to be rivals – not only on ground but also in the sky.

Beautiful concept

Is it not interesting that such a beautiful fact of astronomy has been brought out through this conjoint festival of Naga Panchami / Garuda Panchami?

It reminds us that Hydra and Aquila are opposite to each other in the sky.

It reminds us that during this time of the year, the sun is near Hydra (Aslesha) and Full Moon occurs near Aquila (Shravan).

It also alerts us that this is the month when snakes will come out of their underground habitats which are flooded with rain waters and tend to move on land seeking drier habitats. Hence human-snake encounters are likely to be more with fatality to either in the same.

This is perhaps why it got translated into the sentiment of women tying Raksha Bandhan to pray for the safety and wellbeing of their brothers and thus, the menfolk of society who had to go out and into the fields in the rains.

Is this also why, we also celebrate Friendship day to express love for our friends around this period?

Interestingly, since snakes come out during this period, this is the time when people offer milk and also revere the snakes for the role they play in the overall scheme of Nature. So, in this culture, while people feared snakes, they also revered them.

Bringing 2 Side Together

These 2 festivals are like two sides of a coin. Actually they are like two sides of the sky. Each opposite to the other.

It is perhaps a way of making the snake and the eagle come to respect each other.

The Naga (Hydra) and the Garuda (Aquila) indeed rule the day and the night sky respectively, throughout this month.