World Malaria Day

Blog _ Logo_v1

World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on April 25th, to encourage global efforts to control Malaria.

1

World Malaria Day

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals. It is usually transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito and is common in tropical regions of the world.

2

Anopheles mosquito

6

Geographical Distribution of Malaria across the World – Typically all tropical regions

Source – Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Malarial symptoms typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting and headaches. In severe cases, it leads to yellow skin, seizures, coma and death.

The first cure for this deadly disease came from a British scientist Sir Ronald Ross who was born on Indian soil at Almora, Himalayas.

5

Sir Ronald Ross

Sir Ronald Ross who was sent to England to study as a boy, trained in medicine in England and returned to India to serve in the Indian Medical Service. Challenged by the Malaria disease which was killing people by the thousands, he took it upon himself to find the cause, as only then could cure follow.

His path breaking finds, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902, included the following facts :

  1. that Malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes
  2. that the mosquito was only a carrier of the malaria causing parasite, which bred in its gut
  3. that the parasite was stored in its salivary gland and was transmitted to people through its sting when the mosquito bit people
  4. that the parasite further bred in people, moved around in their blood and entered new host mosquitoes when they bit the infected people thus creating a long chain of infected persons and mosquitoes.

But his further research was cut short when he was transferred to Kherwara in Rajasthan immediately, a desert, where there was no water stagnation and consequentially no malaria mosquito breeding.

This posting was in a way, a punishment handed over to Ronald Ross. For, it was then the policy of the British government in India to create famine and epidemics in order to suppress the Indian masses.

Sir Ronald Ross had then cynically remarked, “Columbus having sighted America was ordered off to discover the North Pole.

Finally as a dejected man, he returned to England.

Not only this, even native Indian scientists were not encouraged to pursue further research on Malaria and its cure.

More than 14 lakh people died in India due to Malaria, in 1939 alone.

So much for the British having encouraged science, medicine and discovery, during their colonial rule of India.

It was the combination of a British man, born on Indian soil and parasites nourished by Indian blood and Indian mosquitoes which led to one of world’s leading discoveries and cures for humans.

The relentless pursuit and success of this man can be seen from the poem he wrote to his wife on the night of his discovery on 21st August 1897.

This day relenting God
Hath placed within my hand
A wondrous thing; and God
Be praised. At His command,
Seeking His secret deeds
With tears and toiling breath,
I find thy cunning seeds,
O million-murdering Death.
I know this little thing
A myriad men will save.
O Death, where is thy sting?
Thy victory, O Grave?

Poem by Sir.Ronald Ross, describing his discovery of the malarial parasite in mosquitoes in 1897, Pg. 210, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations By Alan L. Mackay

India has honoured the memory of his contribution by naming several institutions as well as roads in various cities across India, after Ross.

The connection between India and the cure for Malaria is coded in blood.

Advertisements

National Panchayat Raj Day

A Time Tested Success Model

The thinkers of ancient India had realized the ground reality that, kings may come and go, kingdoms may change in size and boundaries, but the prosperous land needs to be governed such that, the change of powers does not affect the basic social fabric, nor the sustainability of the land. It is precisely to meet this challenge, that they had envisaged a local administration system called the Panchayat system, a unique system of local governance, keeping in mind the vagaries of time.

1

A Panchayat in Progress – An artist’s impression

What is so singular about this system and its practice that helped tide over the vagaries of time and rule?

An Insulating, Self Contained Model

The contribution of this Panchayat system to the prosperity of the land as a whole, has been summarized by Sir Charles T. Metcalfe in his Report of Select Committee to the House of Commons in 1832.

2

Select Committee

3

House of Commons

4

Sir Charles T. Metcalfe’s observations on Panchayats

5

You may wonder what this means!

While there were many kingdoms ruled by different rulers, the model of governance was framed, independent of the individual ruler and the kingdom. The Panchayat administration, followed in every village, was uniform across the land, across kingdoms.

This model of local self governance was uniformly practiced, undisturbed even during times when there was no king or kingdom.

Policies and priorities framed locally by the Panchayat were not disrupted, ensuring continued and sustained prosperity.

This Panchayat model, could be singled out as one of prominent administrative reasons for the continuous prosperity of India for over 5000 years.

Local Self Governance

It is the local administration of the village, by the villagers, for themselves.

This village governance system has been followed in India from time immemorial wherein, people elect and empower a local village council to handle matters of

• Fund collection
• Fund allocation
• Need assessment
• Planning
• Deployment
• Community Development

It was a council of five members who would decide on matters. They were called Panch Parameshwar, the 5 leaders. Hence the name Panchayat, for this model of governance.

We can see a sample of this Panchayat System of administration of the villages, in the stone inscriptions at the Srinivasa temple, in Uttiramerur, in Tamil Nadu, listing the rules for the conduct of elections.

6

7

Inscriptions at Uttiramerur

More on the System of Administration and Practice of Law in India through the times, can be found in our book on Administration, in the Bharath Gyan Series.

Probably, it is after understanding this ethos and the reasons for its proven success, that Mahatma Gandhi strongly advocated bringing back the Panchayat system of village administration, which in his opinion, was the administrative backbone for this prosperity.

8

Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation
A Charcoal Sketch, Artist – Kanan Chaudhari

It was a case of many small footprints together, having the sure footed stride of a big elephant. Many small power houses working together with an elephantine strength.

9

Ants combined, Elephantine in Strength

Ants are known for their industrious nature.

Ants are busy workaholics.

Ants work in tandem.

Ants network beautifully.

Ants cooperate well.

We see all these, when we see a train of ants going about their work, unmindful of anything else.

This synchronised effort cumulatively is elephantine in strength.

Each man, each family, each Panchayat is like an ant, busy at its work. They carry out their Dharma, their duty. Collectively, their strength and output is akin to that of an elephant.

This work culture, along with the water harnessing skills, was the strength of the land and the reason for the prosperity of the land through the ages.

Sadly, the Panchayat Raj today lives as a namesake shadow with no real powers, no funds and no autonomy. It is embroiled in the tangles of the State and Central administrations.

More on this in our book – You Turn India.

World Book Day

From ancient times

From time immemorial, books have been the best friends of man. When there were no media like radio, television, internet etc, books have been always there, as man’s primary source of information. They are also one of the main sources of information in the present day world, with printing being made easy by the technological advances. Thus we see, ever increasing publishers and books. The book stores are filled with large number of books on a large number of subjects, as never before.

From Childhood itself

As a child, one learns and understands the various aspects of life through a book. Many of us may recall reading some inspiring book or story in our childhood that greatly influenced and shaped our lives. Our school lives are invariably linked to the books.

But it is also true that, our interest in reading has been dwindling, over the last many decades, with the advent of electronic and digital media. Reading has been limited to our school text books. And, we abandon this friend of ours, once we have passed our education.

In recent times thought, eBooks have become a favourite among some.

World Book Day

World Book Day is a yearly event observed every year on April 23rd organized by the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNICEF), to promote reading and publishing.

Scripts and Manuscripts

When we speak of books, script and language are intrinsic to it. A book is a flow of ideas that is expressed in scripts.

In ancient and medieval times, when printing had not yet made its advent, Books were all in the form of Manuscripts. Palm leaf manuscripts were common in ancient times.

Aksharam

Any script consists of alphabets, in a particular language. Alphabets are called Aksharam in Samskrt. Aksharam means that which cannot be destroyed or diminished. Kshara is that which is destructible.

Why did they call an alphabet as Aksharam, something that does not diminish or get destroyed?

The notion of an alphabet comes mainly when one wants to transform spoken words, speech, sound, into some other form, here a written form.

In this form, a word is broken down into phonemes, units of speech that can be discerned by the mouth and ear separately and when combined in various combinations, gives rise to different spoken words. Each phoneme is represented visually by a pattern of lines and dots called alphabets.

Unlike spoken sound or the phonemes which fade away with time, a written alphabet, which represents the same sound in a visible form, does not fade away or diminish. It remains as long as the medium on which it has been drawn, lasts. Hence the apt word Aksharam in India for an alphabet.

Phoenician Script

Phoenician script is considered to be the precursor of all European and West Asian scripts such as Latin, Greek, Roman, Hebrew (through Paleo-Hebrew), Aramaic, Arabic (through Aramaic), etc. The Phoenician alphabet is dates back to around 1200 BCE.

The Phoenician script comprised 22 alphabets, called abjad, which were listed in a sequence.

21

Phoenician Alphabets

Bible from Byblos

The word Bible for “the book”, traces its origin to Phoenicia. The city Byblos of Phoenicia was a major trading centre for papyrus, the medium for writing in those days. So, what came from Byblos was the Bible meaning the book.

22

Byblos, location

Christians are thus known as “People of Book”.

Jews were originally the People of Book. For, the Torah is their main book of worship, which comprises of the first five books of Old Testament, also known as the Books of Moses.

More on this in our book, Breaking the Myths – About Ability.

Image result for breaking the myths about ability

Two forms of Communication

Any languages consists of two forms –the spoken word and the written scripts. Thus in ancient India, there were two ways in which knowledge system were passed on in ancient times

  1. Orally recitation
  2. Through books

Veda, were parts of the oral tradition in India, where this knowledge was passed on verbally from the Guru to the Shishya. The Guru Parampara is an important aspect of this tradition.

While books like Purana, Upanishad, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc, belonged to the latter method of passing information, through written manuscripts, books.

Ancient Manuscripts, Books

The writing and creation of manuscripts in Byblos, dates back to 1500 BCE.

Before that, the concept of writing and scribe existed in Egypt around 2000 BCE.

The art of writing manuscripts, books dates back to much before that in India.

Mahabharata, Purana and Upanishad were written around 3100 BCE. The image of Veda Vyasa dictating to His scribe Ganesh is a familiar one.

23

Mahabharata  being dictated by Krishna Dwaipayana to Ganesha

And even before that was Ramayana authored by Adi Kavi Valmiki dating back to 5100 BCE.

24

Valmiki composing the Ramayana

More on this in our book and film, Historical Rama and book Historical Krishna.

26

Need to excavate ancient manuscripts

Today, there are hundreds of manuscripts scattered all across the country. But, alas, only a 6% of them have been read.

On this World Book Day, let us make efforts to revive them, and thereby get access to a huge reservoir of information, that could verily transform the fortunes of our country.

World Earth Day

Our Earth, reverently called Mother Earth, is as alive as any other living being. Mother Earth constitutes everything that contains any or more of the five elements (Panchamahabhuta) – earth (bhumi), water (jala), air (vayu), fire (agni) and space (akash) – that constitute prana or life-giving energy.

In Indian tradition, Earth is called Prthvi which means ‘wide, heavy’. It is also called Dharti-‘that which bears’. This land reveres our planet as verily a Divinity, Bhu Devi.

In Veda

The Veda were compiled over 5000 years ago. In the Veda there are two separate chapters titled – Prthvi Sukta and Bhumi Sukta. Sukta, meaning a collection of mantra.

  1. Prthvi Sukta

      2. Bhumi Sukta

1

The First verse with meaning from Bhumi Sukta

Prthvi Sukta

Prthvi means broad, expansive and heavy. Prthvi Sukta of the Veda deals with the earth, and on how it stands without any support on its base, being supported by the forces of Nature, to remain at its location in the universe.

Isn’t it really wonderful that the Vedic Rishi observed, understood and recorded these details about the earth, over 5000 years back itself!

Bhumi Sukta

Bhumi means earth and Sukta is collection of mantra. The etymological meaning Bhumi, means to be steady, stable, secure and sustained.

Steady

Our Bhumi has been steady for more than a few lakhs, millions of years.

Stable

The Bhumi has also been stable. The earth has been rotating and hurtling through space in its revolutionary motion at great speeds, but it has continued to give a stable perception to all beings on it.

Secure

The Bhumi has been a secure home to all living creatures.

Sustain

Apart from all these features of being steady, stable, secure, the other key meaning “is to sustain”. The earth sustains all plant life and animal life that have been fortunate to be born on it. This sustaining nature of earth has not only been understood and appreciated but has also been incorporated in the naming, and in the thought process.

Prthvi and Bhumi

We have seen above how Bhumi has a layer of meanings. It is to express these meanings, this concept, that the ancient Rishi the knowledgeable men of ancient India have separated the two facets of this earth and given it two distinct names – Prthvi and Bhumi. Prthvi for its broad, heavy and expansive nature and Bhumi for its stable, secure and sustaining nature.

The earth as Mother, Dharti may innately bear and sustain everything, but there is a limit to the extent to which She can bear the brunt of man’s actions.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed’ – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Observations of Chief Seattle

The observations of Chief Seattle in 1964 is apt here on the relationship between man and earth.

2

Chief Seattle

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Greenery and Water Bodies disappearing

Greenery and Water are interrelated. The water bodies ensure an increase in the greenery cover all around them and more green cover ensures more rains and more water.

Today, in the name of progress and prosperity, buildings replace trees in most major cities.

Water bodies disappear to make way for residential and business complexes. The city is the centralized congested hub to which people from the rural areas migrate, in search of livelihood. This is in stark contrast to the era of ancient India, when most of the local community lived in villages with abundant greenery in their surroundings. Each village had its own water body called Pushkarni, which nourished the greenery in the village surroundings. The villages supported the cities. Agriculture flourished in the villages.

Water bodies are also disappearing, making way for residential centers and shopping malls.

3

Huge buildings have replaced greenery

Decentralized System

In ancient India, the decentralized system was followed. Instead of a centralized hub like the cities where all people migrate to, there were many decentralized villages everywhere where the local community lived. The communities in these villages were smaller, and thus there was more greenery. Moreover, each village had its own water bodies called the Pushakarni, which contributed to the greenery of that area.

4

Pushkarni surrounded by greenery

In ancient India, the villages supported the cities. Agriculture happened in villages. Decentralized manufacturing of products such as steel, zinc, copper, also happened in the villages. The cities were just a trading hub. The ecological footprint was thus spread out.

22-Cities-and-Towns

Indian Ethos

The Indian ethos and practice of sustainability emanated from the Bhumi Sukta and Prthvi Sukta of Rig Veda and has flowed through the civilization therefrom. Bhumi Sukta speaks of the need to appreciate the life giving qualities of earth and hence need to keep it sustainable for generations to come.

A Thought provoking quote

A thought-provoking quote from the Hollywood movie, Matrix states:

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply… until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.

There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.

Do you know what it is?

A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet”.

Time to sensitize ourselves

The urgent need of the hour is to stop and think about what we as custodians of Planet Earth, can do, to stop this ‘gang-rape’ of the planet. Let us, together and individually, sensitize ourselves and others towards saving the Earth. Let us take that extra effort to avoid plastics.

  • Let us use our own bags and our own water bottles.
  • Let us car-pool, use the public transportation, use the bicycle or walk to health, as often as we can.
  • Let us desist from using environment-harming chemicals.
  • Let us plant trees and saplings and more importantly, nurture them through their lives and our lives.
  • Let us be sensitive to our fellow creatures in birds and animals. Let us respect their home space in nature, along with ours.
  • Let us realize that we are infesting the earth. We need to control our population.

Small, but persistent steps in the right way, will surely help wean the Earth away from the fatality it is threatened with today.

World Earth Day is a time for us to resolve to revive these sustainable practices by becoming aware of them and putting them to right use and protect our planet.

More on sustainable practices of ancient India in our work, “Sustainable Ethos of India.”

1

Time to come together to protect Mother Earth

Indigo Rebellion of 1859

‘Land of Million Mutinys’

In India there have been many rebellions before and after 1857 War of Independence. The celebrated English writer Vidiadhar S Naipaul refers to India as ‘Land of Million Mutinys’, his book title.

   Vidiadhar S Naipaul and his book

Indigo, famous Indian export

One among them is the rebellion of Indigo growers in March 1859. Indigo has been a cash crop, a famous export of India for many years.

                   Indigo dye Factory in Bengal, 1850s                                   Indigo Plant

Infact, India had the exclusive technology and monopoly in indigo trade till the blue coloured dye was chemically made in Europe, by Alfred Bob Buyer in 1902.

Forced to grow Indigo

In the 1800s, when the British had a threshing control over India’s economy, trade and its agrarian society, the British traders and rulers directly forced the farmers to grow indigo only repeatedly.

To meet the avarice of the traders, Indigo was heavily grown in crop rotation with rice and other crops, to keep the soil fertility and sustainability.

Farmers become bonded labourers

The British administrators bypassed the zamindars who knew the local system and directly threatened the farmers to grow only indigo. This led to a situation where the farmers became almost like bonded labourers to British administrators.

The Indigo Rebellion

This oppression continued for decades culminating in what is now referred to as indigo rebellion that occurred in Bengal, between 1859 and 1861, couple of years after 1857 War of Independence, which was ruthlessly crushed by the British.

5

Areas of Indigo revolts in Bengal

Act XI

The British went to the extent of enacting infamous law – Act XI of 1860, which made breach of contract on the part of ryots a criminal offence.

This act passed on April 21st, 1860, brought to the fore that, even though the ryots owned the land, they only had tenancy rights over the land. They were infact bonded labourers, for if they did not grow indigo, they could be jailed.

Sisir Kumar Ghosh

English educated Indian lawyers and intellegentia took up the cause of indigo growers. One among them was the young Sisir Kumar Ghosh who wrote about the plight of the indigo planters in the weekly, “The Hindoo Patriot”, in January 1853. He later went on to start the now famous Amrita Bazar Patrika.

    Sisir Kumar Ghosh                                              Amrita Bazar Patrika

Nil Darpan

The plight of the indigo planters was so bad. One of the famous playwriters of those days, Dinabandhu Mitra wrote the Play, Nil Darpan, – ‘The Mirror of Indigo’, which reflected the plight of the indigo planters.

 Dinabandhu Mitra                                                                      Nil Darpan

Treated like animals

How the planters were forced to cultivate indigo without remuneration, confined to their farms, beaten up and treated worse than animals all for the sake of avarice of indigo traders.

Eventually crushed the British

The rebellion of the indigo farmers is among the many rebellions that the native Indians fought in eventually crushing the British Rule.

Chitra Purnima

Chitra Purnima is a festival celebrated on the Full Moon day of Chithirai month.

Dedicated to Chitra Gupta

This festival is dedicated to Chitra Gupta, the deva who keeps record of human actions, on behalf of Yama, the God of death.

 1

        Chitra Gupta

Chitra means, “picture”, and Gupt, “hidden”.

Chitra Gupta keeps a secret record of all our deeds in the “ethereal system”.

On this day, people worship Chitra Gupta to make amends for any wrong actions. Thus this is a day to remember that, “You reap, what you sow”, because nothing escapes the divine software. We need to perform good actions to reap good results. This is the “Law of karma” that is ingrained in the ethos of this land.

Chithirai being the first month, in the Indian calendar, Chitra Purnima is an occasion to look forward, as well as back at what we have come through – the good and the not so good.

Wedding of Sundareshwara and Meenakshi

Chitra Purnima is also the day when the celestial wedding of Lord Sundareshwara, a form of Shiva took place with Goddess Meenakshi, a form of Devi Parvati.

2

The celestial Wedding of Devi Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwara

Sundara– Divine Beatitude

Sundara means beauty, Eshwara refers to the Lord.

The words Sathyam Shivam Sundarm is used to describe the divine, which stands for Truth, Auspiciousness and Beauty.

Lord Sundareshwara here stands for divine beatitude, the beauty in Creation and the beauty in its understanding.

More on this beauty in Creation, is in our book and film – Creation – Srishti Vignana.

3

Meenakshi – Beautiful eyes

Meen, means a fish and akshi, eyes.

The Devi has a beautiful eyes, similar to that of a fish. In expressing the beauty of a lady, one of the expressions is that of beautiful eyes. These description are sometimes linked to an animal, flower and also a fish.

  1. Mrigha Nayani, the beauty of the eye of a doe, a female deer
  2. Kamala Nayani, lotus eyed
  3. Here in this context, it is Meenakshi, eyes of a fish.

Kayal Vizhi

At the time of wedding, the bride’s eye is beautified with Shingar as a doe eyed or fish eyed. Madurai, where Meenakshi temple is, being the centre of Tamil culture, it has another equally ancient local Tamil word for Meenakshi, which is. Kayal Vizhi, Vizhi meaning the look and Kayal is a type of slender fish. Here it means Slender Eyed.

Inner Significance of open eyes

A fish always has its eyes open. This signifies that the Devi’s grace are always on Her devotees.

Apart from the continuous flow of divine grace, there is another significance to the eyes of Devi Meenakshi.

A fish hatches its eggs through staring by its eyes.  This signifies that Devi Meenakshi’s bestows on us fertility, creativity and prosperity in our material life with graceful looks.

Indra Legend

There is a legend associated with Chitra Purnima, which throws more light on the aspect of Divine Grace.

Once Indra, the Lord of the Deva, had an argument with his Guru Brihaspati. The Guru then distanced himself from Indra and refrained from advising him on any matters. Indra then began to commit wrong deeds, for which he had to reap the consequences. At this time, Guru Brihaspati returned and asked him to undertake a pilgrimage on earth, so as to reduce some his sins. Indra started his pilgrimage, and visited many scared spots. At one place, he felt the burden of his sins being lifted. He discovered a Shiva lingam at this place in Madurai, which he worshipped. Indra was thus relieved from all his sins.

Chitra Purnima was the day when Indra performed this worship to the Shiva Lingam and propitiated the Lord.

Thus goes the legend which shows that divine grace can mitigate our sins, if we propitiate the Divine sincerely with faith.

Azhagar Attril Erunghirar, the festival after Chitra Paurnami

Chitra Paurnami is the biggest festival in Madurai city, from time immemorial, which involves Lord Vishnu too.

As the story goes, Meenakshi is the sister of Vishnu, who is to give her beloved sister, in marriage to Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu in His aspect as Kallazhagar lives some distance away from Madurai, in the forested hills. He takes His time in reaching the ceremonial Kalyana Mantap. The auspicious hour of marriage was nearing, and he had not yet reached the venue. Then the Vishnu aspect from the local temple, Kudal Azhagar, came and gave away the bride in the wedding. By the time Kallazhagar reached, the wedding had already been performed.

Kallazhagar then returned, on His horse, back to His temple, getting into the nearby Vaigai River, which in that season has only knee deep water. He wades in the river itself reaching all the way back to His temple. Along with Him, the lakhs of people, who had to come to witness the Meenakshi Sundareshwar Kalyanam also get into the Vaigai.

This over the centuries and millennia has become a festival, and is celebrated the day after Chitra Paurnami.

This festival was popularized by King Tirumal Nayak, Raja Tirumal Nayak, the popular king of Madurai, who ruled about 350 years ago.

The event of Kallazhagar getting into the river, is thronged by lakhs of millions of people, and is a festive sight to behold, to rejoice, to take part in.

4

Azhaghar Attril Erunghirar

This journey in the Vaigai river is symbolic of a groom’s party returning after the marriage, leaving the new bride in her new home with her spouse.

This event is called in the ancient Tamil language as, Azhaghar Attril Erunghirar, meaning Azhagar wades into the river.

Hanuman Jayanthi

Blog _ Logo_v1

Hanuman is one of the popular divinities across India. Hanuman is venerated by millions, for his intelligence, strength, devotion, faith and courage. He is one of the central characters of Ramayana and is worshipped as the foremost devotee of Lord Rama. It is often said that, Rama as an Avatar, could not fly on His own, but Hanuman could fly over the seas.

1

Hanuman flying with the Sanjeevani Parvat

Hanuman, Meaning

Hanuman as the name suggests in Samskrt language, is a person with a long jaw. Hanuman is depicted as a human with a protruding jaw, which resembles that of a monkey. His imagery shows that he had a protruding jaw, prompting people then, to call him Hanuman.

2

Hanuman

Hanuman is regarded as Vayu Putra or the son of the wind divinity. He is also called Maruti, the son of Marut, the divinity for a special type of spatial wind.

Anjaneya is another name for Hanuman, meaning, ‘the son of Anjana’, who was the mother of Hanuman.

Chiranjeevi

It is believed that Hanuman lives on even today, as he is one of the Chiranjeevi, living eternally in the physical body.

Hanuman 1.jpg

Hanuman, the Chiranjeevi

We see his footprints in the Mahabharata. He is a distant cousin of Bhima, one of the Pandava. In the Kurukshetra battle, the chariot of Arjuna, another Pandava, has a Vanara Dwaja, with Hanuman in his flag.

4

Bhima

5

Arjuna’s chariot with Vanara Dwaja

Different dates of birth

The birth of Hanuman is celebrated on different dates in this land. This is probably due to different systems, scriptures and calendars in the country.

In North India, this day is observed on the 15th Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month.  In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in the month of Margazhi, Margashirsha, in the months of December-January, as there is a belief here that Hanuman was born under Moola Nakshatra, scorpio star of Amavasya.

Different birth Places

In the Tirumala hills of Andhra, also called Sapthagiri as it comprises of 7 hills, there is one hill called Anjandari. This is not the actual place of Hanuman’s birth, but was the area where Anjana, the mother of Hanuman resided.

6

Anjanadri hill, Tirumala

There is one belief which suggests that Hanuman was born in Kishkinda at Anjaneya hill near Hospet, in north Karnataka. There is another belief which has Anjanari in Nasik district, as the birth place of Anjaneya.

7

Hanuman statue at Hanuman’s birth place in Anjanari

Similar figure in Mexico

The image and story of Echtill in the Aztec legends of Mexico, is similar to that of Hanuman of the Indian legend.

The Aztec legends speak about Echtill, who is explained as the son of wind. The same legend further goes on to state that, it is his breath that moves the Sun.

A statue was found while excavating for a subway station in Mexico City and reported in the National Geographic magazine in the December 1990. This figure excavated in Mexico too, is that of a human with a long jaw face.

              8

       Mexican Image   

             9         

 Indian Image

Observe the Jaw Protrusion in both

In the Aztec legend there is a link between the Sun and Echtill. In the Indian legend of Hanuman too, there is an interesting anecdote of Hanuman flying towards the sun to eat it.

10

Hanuman Flying towards Sun

More on this in our book, “2012 – The Real Story”.

11

Was Hanuman a monkey?

Now, Hanuman and other Vanara are commonly referred to as Monkeys. Were they really monkeys?

Monkey is a term that has been loosely used in the last couple of hundred years to explain the term Vanara in the English language. The term Vanara when analyzed, can give us vital clues, some of them being,

  • People of the forest or Vana –Vana nara, nara meaning man
  • Vanara could be an exclamatory! Word, Vah nara? “Are they human?”

So human like, yet different!

This may have been the way to express different varieties of people as is evident from other words in our ancient texts such as Kinnara or Kimpurusha. Kin, Kim here meaning, “Are they?” and Purusha and Nara meaning men or humans.

There probably were people in those days, very similar to what we now understand as normal humans, but who had a minor but perceptible variance, which raised exclamation. This could well have been a part of the evolution process.

Vanara were known as Rama Banta, meaning “A follower of Rama” in the Andhra and Karnataka regions of South India. The word Bantu was used for singular form and Bantlu for plural. This word Bantlu was used by people as respect and formed a part of many surnames in these regions.  In ancient time, these regions in South India comprised of the geography of Vanara region. The people who lived in the forests of Andhra were called Banajara.

Hanuman 2.jpg

Geography of Vanara region

                             13

                                                                 Rama Bantlu                                                                            

          14          

 Banjara

More on this and the various incidents involving Hanuman in the Ramayana, the dates pertaining to these events are discussed in our book and Film ‘Historical Rama’.

15

On this Hanuman Jayanthi, let us take inspiration from Hanuman and follow in His footsteps. Then Hanuman will live on in our hearts.

4

5

Statues of mighty Sri Hanuman in Bali, Indonesia