Tulasi Vivah

Tulasi Vivah

Tulasi brings in a sense of sanctity, auspiciousness when used in a ritual. Hence this festival is referred to as Tulasi Kalyan, Kalyan meaning, “auspiciousness”. As the word “Kalyan” also refers to Vivah, marriage, the term together with the word “Tulasi”, with some related stories, has come to us today as Tulasi Vivah. This festival is usually observed on the 11th Day after the Full Moon of the bright fortnight of the month of Karthika.

Tulasi

Tulasi is an herb that has been used since time immemorial both in Ayurveda as well as in the religious ceremonies of the land.

Tulasi 1

Tulasi Plant

Feminine Gender

Tulasi has been given a feminine gender in the Indian ethos. Each plant has been given either of the gender depending upon their basic characteristics.

Vrinda, Brinda

Tulasi is also referred to as Vrinda, Brinda. The forested area of Tulasi plants where Krishna grew up has for this reason been called Vrindavan where it was a thicket of Vrinda shrubs.

Tulasi 2

Vrinda Shrubs of Vrindavan

Basil – Osmium Sanctum

It is also called as Basil in English and its Botanical name is “Osmium Sanctum”, the term “sanctum” itself clearly denoting that it is a sanctified plant of this land.

Cure for Malaria

When Victoria Garden and the Albert Zoo were being laid out in India in 1904, the workers suffered high incidences of malaria. It was overcome successfully by developing Tulasi gardens all around the place at the suggestion of a Hindu worker. An infusion of the Tulasi leaves is given in cases of malaria.

In recognition of the wonder, Tulasi plant was declared an anti-malarial in 1907 at the Imperial Malaria Conference.

Krishna Tulabharam

There are many interesting stories with regard to Tulasi. These bring forth the many values of Lakshmi.

In an interesting episode in the life of Krishna, in a tiff between his two wives, Rukmini and Sathyabhama, Krishna was weighed in all the gold of the land, but all the gold could not outweigh Krishna. The moment a couple of Tulasi leaves were placed, they outweighed Krishna. This story with its symbolic meaning is brought forth in the episode of Krishna Tulabharam.

Tulasi 3

Krishna Tulabharam

Among the many varieties of Tulasi, one of the varieties is known as Krishna Tulasi, meaning “the darker colour Tulasi leaf”.

Tulasi 4

Krishna Tulasi

A Herb that removes Dosha

What is more important to be remembered during this festival is the quality of Tulasi as an herb that sanctifies our body and at the same time purges us of Dosha.

 

 

Advertisements

What is Shit?

World Toilet Day is an official observance day by the United Nations that looks to raise awareness on the sanitation issues facing the world.

Image result for world toilet day

The day, observed on November 19th, was initially instituted by the World Toilet Organization, committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide.

The UN later adopted this day, which it celebrates as World Toilet Day.

On a humorous note, let us first look at the “serious” side of Shit.

Shit-A Serious Matter

What is Shit? How did this word come about? Are you amused by these questions? Then, probably you didn’t know the history of this word. The humour here is indeed a serious matter.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Shipping Manure

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commercial fertilizers had not yet come to be. Large shipments of manure were order of the day. In this period, ship was a major means of transport.

1

Ship

2

Manure

The disaster

Manure was always dried before shipping, for, in dry state, it weighed less than in wet.

Once, a disaster was encountered, when the sea water touched the manure bundles in a ship. The process of fermentation began again, the byproduct being the highly combustible Methane Gas.

3

Manure Produces the Highly inflammable Methane

The manure bundles were stored below the decks. The unimaginable happened. Methane began to build underneath the docks. Very soon, a loud ‘Boom’ was heard.

4

Before one could come to terms with the inevitable, the whole ship was on fire and destroyed.

5

Methane gas led to fire

Many ships were destroyed in this manner, before it was actually understood, what was happening.

Shit and then Ship

After discovering the peril these manure ships faced, these bundles were always stamped with the instruction, ‘Stow High In Transit’ – S.H.I.T, meaning, ‘load the manure bundles high enough from lower decks while loading’, so that, sea waters do not reach the Methane generating Cargo.Thus evolved the term Shit, ‘Stow High In Transit’. This term has remained to this day.

6

On a funny note, “Cargo loaders had to ‘Shit’ manure for safety reasons.”

The word ‘Shit’ soon came to be used as a derogatory word for ‘irritation”, for the number of ships that it had blow up.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Ancient India had a good drainage and Sewage system towards the disposal of Malam.

In other words, India had a Sewage system that was one of the best in the world.

Sewage System in Ancient India

Engineers of today admire the drainage facility of historical site of India, made 4500 years ago.

The ancient Indian cities had an excellent, drainage system even 5000 years back. Every house in ancient Indian cities had a private toilet.

The common belief is that the world did not have a structured drainage system upto 1800 CE. However, the ruins and sites of ancient Indian civilizations tell a different story. If we look at the archaeological sites of the Sindhu-Sarasvati basin in the North Western part of India, of the same historical period of about 5000 years back, we find that we have the Harappa and Mohenjodaro sites along with a couple of hundred other excavated sites. These sites show us how developed the ancient Indian cities were.

 1

Sindhu Sarasvati Civilization Region

Excellent Drainage Facility

What has been seen at Mohenjodaro and Harappa has amazed many. One of the most interesting aspects of these cities was their excellent drainage system. These cities had a systematic mechanism in place for rubbish collection and waste disposal. Moreover, every house of these cities had a private bathroom. This was seen in a thousand other excavation sites across the land.

1

Drainage System in Mohenjodaro town

Admiration of modern Engineers

Engineers of today admire the design of the drainage system of the historical sites of India, made 5000 years ago. It draws the admiration of our modern engineers for its wholistic plan, design and attention to the minutest details. Such meticulously planned cities with sophisticated sewage system have not been seen anywhere in the world until the dawn of the modern era.

1

India’s ancient drainage system lies in ruins at Harappa and Mohenjodaro

This is an indication that the people of the ancient Indian civilizations were prosperous on all counts.

More on India’s ancient sanitation system, in our book, You Turn India.

1

India had always been a Clean Country

Cleanliness was a priority in Indian from ancient times. It is indeed a myth to suggest that since India was poor, She was always dirty. India was a prosperous country before the British took over. We have seen above that India has a sophisticated sewage disposal and toilet system from ancient times. It is somewhere in between, during the colonial rule, that filthiness crept in, as the British crushed India’s prosperity.

Swachh Bharat and Toilets

Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi seeks to bring back that cleanliness, which was only next to godliness in this land, through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Building of toilets is one aspect of this program. On this World Toilet Day, let us spread awareness on the importance of toilets and sanitation, and work towards the removal of open defecation, so that we become a clean country once again.

Rani Lakshmibai

Rani Lakshmibai was born on 19th November, 1828 at Varanasi. She is popularly known in this land as Jhansi Ki Rani, meaning “Queen of Jhansi” as she ruled over the Maratha state Jhansi. She fought against British with the slogan Meri Jhansi Nahin Doongi. She was the rallying spirit behind the 1857 war of Independence against the British.

 Jhansi 1.jpg

Rani Lakshmibai

Birth

Rani Lakshmibai was born into a Maratha family. Her parents Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre named her Manikarnika, after the Manikarnika Shakti Peeth in Varanasi.

Chhabili

Her father worked for the Peshwa, chief minister of Bithoor district. The Peshwa was very fond of her and nicknamed her Chhabili, meaning ‘playful’.

Education

She was educated in archery, horsemanship and self-defence at a very young age.

Marriage

In the year 1842, she was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the Maharaja of Jhansi. From then on she was called Lakshmibai and also Jhansi Ki Rani.

Son and Adopted Son

In 1851, Rani Lakshmibai gave birth to a son named Damodar Rao. The child was not to live long as he passed away within 4 months. Gangadhar Rao then adopted a child born to his cousin. This child was also named Damodar Rao.
Gangadhar Rao soon passed away in the year 1853, leaving alone his wife and adopted son. Rani Lakshmibai started ruling the kingdom.

British wanting to Annex Jhansi

British had by then annexed many of the Indian states and now wanted to seize Jhansi. Lord Dalhousie was the governor General of British India then. He sent notices to Rani Lakshmibai, rejecting her son Damodar Rao’s right to throne. They said that as Damodar Rao was not the biological son of Gangadhar Rao, he cannot lay claim to throne and that the state of Jhansi now belonged to the British. In this backdrop, Rani Lakshmibai was paid Rs 60,000 as pension and was ordered to vacate the palace at Jhansi fort.
1

Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi

Rani Lakshmibai was however not going to give up easily. She strengthened her defences and enlarged her Army recruiting many warriors of those times like Khuda Baksh, Gaulam Gaus Khan and Dost Khan among others into the army. Her famous slogan was “Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi”, meaning, “I won’t give my Jhansi”.

First War of Independence

Three years later, in the year 1857, the first War of Independence broke out and there was unrest throughout the country. The attention of British was turned away from Jhansi to other parts of the country. Rani Lakshmibai seized this moment to further mobilize her forces.

The Battle

In the year 1858, after the First War of Independence, the British forces under Hugh Rose decided to lay siege on Jhansi. Rani Lakshmibai and her forces were by then fully prepared to take on the British.
2
A fierce battle began between the Jhansi forces and British troops on 23rd May, 1858. Rani Lakshmibai led from the front and gave a tough time to the British, in a battle that lasted for two weeks. Her forces were also joined by the army of Tantya Tope.
3
Her army was however not able to hold on against the British Troops who were more experienced in warfare and the British captured Jhansi fort.

Escape and Recoup

Rani Lakshmibai managed to escape from the city along with her few guards, by making a brave jump from the fort, on her horse.
4
Rani Lakshmibai and her son Damodar Rao recouped their forces and joined with the other rebel group of Tantiya Tope.

Defeating Gwalior Maharaja

The combined forces of Rani Lakshmbai and Tantiya Tope now moved to Gwalior, where they defeated the Maharaja of Gwalior, who had joined hands with the enemy forces and captured the Gwalior fort.

Death

The British attacked Gwalior in a few days. Rani Lakshmibai passed away on 18th June, 1858, while saving the Gwalior fort.

Praise from the Enemy Camp

The remarkable bravery and courage she had shown all through, made even General Hugh Rose of the enemy camp remark, “Remarkable for her beauty, perseverance and intelligence, she was the most dangerous of all the rebel rulers”.

Legacy

After her death, she became a symbol of bravery and courage and was considered an icon by many freedom fighters who came after her, in the struggle for Independence. Many women were influenced by her life.

Portrait of Queen Laxmi Bai Made During Her Lifetime, Found In 1857 During Capture of Farrukhabad’s Palace Army

Army Female Unit named after her

The first female unit of the Indian Army was named after her.

Statues

Statues of Jhansi were erected in Jhansi and Gwalior, the two places of her glory.
5
Post Independence, her statues were built in every nook and corner of the land as people still saw her as an epitome of bravery.
6 

Stamps

Stamps have been issued in her name by the Government of India.
7

Films

Many films and serials have also been made on the life of Rani Lakshmibai.
8

Part of school books

Today, every child knows her name as ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’, as her inspiring life has become part of textbooks in schools.
Rani Lakshmibai will remain an inspiration for the women and youth of this country for many more generations to come.

V O Chidambaram Pillai

V O Chidambaram is one of architects of the modern Indian shipping industry. He was a freedom fighter, an erudite scholar, a prolific writer, and an elegant speaker. He is popularly known as ‘Kappal Ottiya Thamizian’, meaning “the Tamil who sailed the ship”. He is mostly known by his short name VOC.

VOC was born on 5th September, 1872 at Ottapidaram, in the Tuticorin District of Tamil Nadu.

1

V.O.Chidambaram Pillai – A 140 year old file photo

During the Colonial rule, the British took over our Seas and Ships. There were many attempts made to win back the seas from the British.

This made Sir Alfred Watson, editor of `The Statesman’ then in 1900, write,

2

The first tangible stir in this direction came from South India in the form of Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, offering sailing services between Tuticorin in South India and Colombo in Ceylon.

It was a wholly Indian owned company started by V.O.Chidambaram Pillai, a Tamil barrister, who lived between 1872 and 1936 and was a disciple of the freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Known as VOC for short, he started this navigation company to revive Indian shipping industry, in direct competition to the British shipping services and monopoly of the seas.

Starting with leasing ships, when the lease was cancelled due to pressure from the British, he went on to purchase 2 ships, S.S.Galia and S.S.Lavo, by raising funds from all across India.

There literally ensued a tug of war between VOC’s shipping company and the British shipping company, with both lowering fares alternately to woo passengers. At one point, the British even made the service free.

Yet, when the Indians kept patronizing VOC’s services, as part of the Swadeshi spirit, the British charged VOC with sedition, stripped off his barrister license and sentenced him to 2 life terms, totalling 40 years. It was a Rigorous Imprisonment as meted out to a convict, where VOC was inhumanly, yoked to an oil press and made to toil in place of bulls, under the sun.

3

The prison cell that VOC occupied in Central Jail, Coimbatore

 4

The Oil Press to which VOC was yoked during his period in prison

His life and struggles have been made immortal for this generation by the Tamil film “Kappal Otiya Tamizhan” meaning “The Tamil who sailed the Ship”, in which the legendary Tamil actor, Chevalier Sivaji Ganeshan played the role of VOC.

5

Veteran Tamil actor Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan as VOC toiling it out in prison, in the film

Today, VOC’s name is remembered for the intense sacrifice that he made in an attempt to revive India’s shipping industry.

A stamp was issued in his honor by the government of India, in 1972.

A college in Tuticorin is named after VOC.

The bridge connecting Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai, over the Tamaraparani is named VOC

Also, a public park in Coimbatore is named after this freedom fighter.

He is among those great heroes of this land, who stood up for the cause of India’s freedom, and today his name is taken with great reverence all over Tamil Nadu and India.

We have spoken extensively about V O Chidambaram in our book, Brand Bharat, Vol-1.

BB-Vol-1.jpg

Kansa Vadh

Once upon a time, on the banks of the Yamuna, in the ancient city of Mathura, which was ruled by a despotic king called Kamsa, was born a dark and delightful baby boy, called Krishna. Krishna was born in the Vrishni family, in the lineage of Yadu.

Kansa Vadh

Devaki was the sister of the King Kamsa and Mathura was the capital of his kingdom.

Krishna was born to Princess Devaki and her husband, the noble man Vasudeva. Devaki was the sister of the King Kamsa and Mathura was the capital of his kingdom.

It had been prophesized that Kamsa’s doom would be wrought about by his own sister, Devaki’s eight child. Hence, Kamsa had imprisoned her with her husband and killed every one of her children as soon as they were born. Krishna was the eighth born child to Devaki and Vasudeva and He was born in the middle of the night in the prison of Kamsa.

Soon after Krishna’s birth, as though in answer to Devaki and Vasudeva’s earnest prayers to save Krishna from Kamsa, the prison cells opened and Vasudeva escaped from the prison with his just born son Krishna, carrying Him over his head. Vasudeva carried him on his head across the Yamuna River to Vrindavan.

Krishna thus reached the household of Nandagopa in Gokul, on the other side of the Yamuna.

Krishna and Balarama left Vrindavan for Mathura on Kamsa’s invitation when He was twelve. There Balarama and Krishna challenged Kamsa’s wrestlers, Mushtika and his wrestling partner Chanura to a wrestling bout – Mallayuddha. Mushtika and Chanura were killed in this bout. Krishna then took on the vile Kamsa and killed him.

This happened on a Shukla Paksha Dasami, i.e 10th phase of the brightening moon, in the month of Karthik.

It was a day when the prophecy of Kamsa’s death finally came true.

More on this in our book, “Historical Krishna”.

7

 

 

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lion of Punjab

Lala Lajpat Rai was born on 28th January 1865 at Dhidika village in Punjab. He aggressively fought against the might of the British Empire. He was popularly called, Punjab Kesari, “The lion of Punjab”.

Lala 1

Lala Lajpat Rai

“Lal Pal Bal”

The Trio of “Lal Pal Bal” were forerunners of the freedom struggle much before the times of Mahatma Gandhi. Lal was Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bal was Bala Gangadhar Tilak from Marartha, and Pal was Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal. They came from different corners of India and asked for Swaraj in united voice.

Lala 2

Lal Bal Pal

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-01 at 4.22.38 PM

The lion that he was, Lala Lajpat Rai gave tough time to the British through his demonstrations, demanding Swaraj.

Hindu Orphan Relief Movement

Lala Lajpat Rai founded the Hindu Orphan Relief Movement to keep British missions from securing custody of orphans.

Punjab National Bank

He also established the Punjab National Bank. The Bank opened on 12th April, 1895, at Lahore.

Lala 3

“Simon Go Back”

Lala Lapat Rai succumbed to injuries sustained during a lathi charge while leading a non violent demonstration against the Simon Commission, with the slogan “Simon Go Back”. He passed away on 17th November, 1928.

Lala 4

“Simon Go Back” protest led by Lala Lajpat Rai

“Every Blow a Nail in the Coffin of British”

One of his strongest statements from his last moments, still etched in the mind of the people is, “Every blow on my body will prove a nail in the coffin of British Empire.”

Roads in his name

The people of both India and Pakistan remember the contributions of this Freedom Fighter towards Freedom from the Colonial Rule.

Many major cities in India have roads named after this Freedom Fighter.

Pakistan has also named a road after Lala Lajpat Rai in its Quetta town. It is for the first time since partition that Pakistan had named a road after an Indian leader.

Statues

There are also statues erected in honour of Lala Lajpat Rai in many parts of the country.

Lala 5

Lala Lajpat Rai Statue, Shimla

Stamp

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

Lala 6

It is due to the efforts of such Freedom Fighters that India finally attained Freedom in 1947.

International Day of Tolerance

Swami Vivekananda’s Speech

120 years ago, in his speech, Swami Vivekananda brought in the concept of “tolerance” among religions. It was a 458 word speech that lasted just 6 minutes but ushered in a fresh breath of air then.

Tolerance 1

Call to Respect

Swami Vivekananda in his speech at Chicago conference of world religion in 1893 spoke eloquently of the existence of the other thoughts, the plurality and how we innately need to respect others and accept others as our innate ethos.

 “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so O Lord, the different paths which men take through their different tendencies, various though they appear crooked or straight, all lead to thee.”

With this effort, we should now bring back into dialogue, the need to respect the other.

The Downward Slide

In the last 100 years, Tolerance has now come down to Tolerate.

A tolerant society will be destroyed by its tolerance to intolerance. So from Tolerance, Tolerate, we should move to Respect.