Charles Darwin

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D. K. Hari & D. K. Hema Hari

Authors and Founders , Bharath Gyan

 

Evolution Day is a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin on 24 November 1859.

 

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Young Charles Darwin

An illustrious Family

Charles Darwin was born into a religious family. His wife came from the illustrious Wedgewood family, who were well known for making the famous blue China pottery for royalty.

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Chinese Pottery

His mother Susannah Wedgwood, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, the famous potter.

Downe Village

When he grew up, he lived in the countryside, an hour south of London, in the picturisque Downe village. He chose this place as a spot of recuperation from his continuous illness.

Visiting Church, Sitting outside

While Darwin’s wife, Emma Darwin was religious, Darwin wasn’t. This arose partly from his scepticism about Christian theology.

Darwin’s wife, Emma being a devout Christian, used to visit church every Sunday. He used to accompany her to Church as a husband. But while she attended the Church Mass, Darwin sat outside waiting for her.

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Emma Darwin

Today, Charles Darwin’s is remembered as someone who revolutionized science. How did he find such an esteemed place in the annals of scientific world?

Voyage on Beagle

At a young age of 22, Darwin set out on an ocean voyage on the research vessel H M S Beagle. He got this opportunity as one research scholar opted out at the last moment. This chance opportunity that Darwin got, to go on this research vessel, changed his life and subsequently the course of our understanding about evolution.

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The Vessel, H M S Beagle

Christian Theology

Until then, the prevalent view in Europe was that which was dictated by the Christian Theology which states that God created the earth in 7 days, with earth, man and animals in a set sequence.

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Darwin’s Study

During the voyage, Darwin studied various forms of life, right from butterflies, insects, to tortoises, including the famous long living tortoise of Galapagos.

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Galapagos Tortoise

At every port of call, he collected samples and studied them. The ship route covered southern hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil, lasting for 5 long years.

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The Voyage of the Beagle

On the Origin of Species

After he came back to England from the Voyage, he settled down to write his master piece book, “On the Origin of Species”.

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Charles Darwin’s Book, The Origin of Species

Intitially the publisher was hesitant to print and publish his book.

He was so sure about his theory being accepted that He offered to buy back the 1250 printed copies of the book if they did not sell.

This book soon shook the very foundations of science and Christian theology.

Charles Darwin & the Avatar Theory

It is interesting to note that, some aspects of his theory are in sync with the Indian story of evolution.

According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, aquatic creatures were the first to come into existence, followed by amphibians and then land creature.

In India, the concept of evolution has been discussed in the sequence of Dasavatara of Vishnu, starting from the fish and evolving all the way to the intellectual human.

Matsya  – A Fish

As the legend goes, when the world was to be engulfed by a Pralaya, dissolution, the Rishi are taken to safety by Vishnu in the form of a large fish.  The fish here is symbolic of life emerging from waters.

Kurma – A tortoise

At a time when there was a tug of war between the Deva, equated with the divine forces and the Asura equated with the demonic forces, they used a mountain for churning the ocean. When this mountain kept slipping, Vishnu in the form of a large tortoise supported the mountain and this allowed the Deva and Asura to complete their churning of the ocean from which emerged the good and bad of the universe. The tortoise here is symbolic of an amphibious life.

Varaha – A Boar

Later in time, when the Earth is held under the oppression of Hiranyaksha, an Asura, a demonic power, Vishnu in the form of a boar, bores through and releases the Earth from captivity. Boar is here symbolic of land based forms of life.

Narasimha – A Beast, man lion

Soon after, Vishnu emerges in the form of a ferocious half man – half lion to wipe out Hiranyakashipu, anotherAsura, whohad terrorised the world. This beast like form is symbolic of man living like a savage.

Vamana – A dwarf

As a dwarf Vamana, Vishnu humbles the ego of another Asura called Mahabali. This form is symbolic of man in his early stages of evolution where thinking and learning sets in.

Parashurama – A hunter

As Parashurama, a hunter, this form of Vishnu highlights the phase of mankind where man lived by hunting and as a forest dweller.

Rama – A leader

The Rama form of Vishnu and the good governance of Rama, showcases the stage when man started living by rules as a disciplined society.

Balarama – A farmer

Vishnu as Balarama, the bearer of a plough, is symbolic of the stage when man took to organized farming, irrigation, cattle rearing and trade as an industry.

Krishna – A strategist

Vishnu as Krishna, highlights the stage when man after the setting in of societal living, industrialization and trade starts to strategize to improve his position.

Kalki – A horse rider

This is an avatar of Vishnu which is yet to come but when it does, is expected to herald the dissolution of the world. In this as a horse rider, Vishnu symbolizes the speed and power which eventually are believed to become the cause of the destruction of the world.

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A Connect

We see here a great connect between Darwin theory and the Indian Avataric concept. While Charles Darwin’s theories challenged the idea of Divinity in the west by propounding an evolutionary origin of humans, the same theory was in line with the Indian concept of Avatars, incarnations of the Divinity Vishnu. The people of this land had understood the concept of evolution even before Darwin.

Great Scientist

Charles Darwin was a great scientist with the similar insight of an Indian rishi. No wonder, at his death people queued up next to pay their last respects to him, probably one of the longest queue, showing the respect, the common men had for this great man.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur

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D. K. Hari & D. K. Hema Hari

Authors and Founders , Bharath Gyan

 

A crucial year it was, the year 1675 CE; the free thought, of the people of the land was trampled by the Mughals.

Kashmiri Pundits

It was during that period, a delegation of about 500 Kashmir Pundits led by Pundit Kripa Ram met Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandapur Saheb with their harrowing experiences and tales of torture by Aurangzeb, forcing Hindus to convert to Islam.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur  
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Pundat Kripa Ram approaching Tegh Bahadur

The choice was “Convert-Or-Perish”.

Guru Tegh Bahadur took upon himself the task of rescuing not just the Kashmir Pundits but the entire society.

But why Aurangzeb, was bent upon converting the Kashmir Pundits in the first place?

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  Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb vexed with the enigma, of thriving Hindu presence in, despite centuries of Muslim rule, vis-à-vis, the total annihilation of native cultures in other Muslim lands, called his Court to order one day and beseeched them for a solution. His council of advisors then suggested, that, the Seat of Hindu thought and inspiration must be identified and destroyed; they conclusively opined that, this was the only sure way of ensuring that the perennial flow of faith is put to an end.

Having said that, Varanasi, Kasi was identified as the Seat of Hindu faith and the Brahmins of Varanasi, were identified as its custodians.

They were pulled up tortured and asked to convert.

Aurangzeb then, repeated the same torture, formula on the Kashmiri Pundits.

The Sikhs were looked up to as the martial force of the land, were approached by the Kashmir Pundits.

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Sikhs being approached

Guru Gobind Singh

Gobind Rai, who later became the tenth and the last Sikh Guru, the force behind the Khalsa movement, the beacon who showed the world, what, unquestioned obedience is, by way of the “panch-pyaara” –was at that time, 9 years old and was sitting beside his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur.

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Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Tegh Bahadur, gallantly took upon himself, the, responsibility of protection.

He asked the Kashmir Pundits, to go and tell Aurangzeb that,

  1. Kashmir Pundits would convert to Islam; If Guru Tegh Bahadur converts.
  2. Therefore the Brahmins of Varanasi would too convert
  3. The entire Hindu faith would eventually would convert to Islam

Guru Tegh Bahadur goes Delhi

Delighted at such an easy solution of converting the entire lot of Hindus into Islam, Aurangzeb invited Guru Tegh Bahadur to Delhi. Guru Tegh Bahadur along with his disciples Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dyal Das, went to Delhi and met Mughal Aurangzeb.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, held extensive discussions on Religious, Philosophical, Spiritual, Logical, Scientific and even on mundane matters to dissuade Aurangzeb from converting Hindus to Islam.

Aurangzeb was deeply disappointed and disillusioned and seething with vengeance made two offers to Guru Tegh Bahadur:-

  • Either embrace Islam or
  • Face beheading

The great Guru preferred beheading than to convert to Islam.

Aurangzeb, the so called ‘Embodiment of Benevolence’, as described by our History books, ordered that Guru Tegh Bahadur and disciples should be killed.

This henious act was carried out on 24.11.1675.

In the presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur, his disciples were done to death one after the other.

Bhai Mati Das

Bhai Mati Das was cut into two halfs by slicing through head downwards.

Mati Das while standing erect was tied between two posts. He was asked if he had any parting words, to which Mati Das answered, “I request only that my head be turned toward my Guru as I am executed.” Two executioners placed a double-handed saw on his head. Mati Das serenely uttered “Ek Onkar” and started reciting the Japji Sahib, the morning prayer of the Sikhs. He was sawed across from head downwards.

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Bhai Mati Das being cut into two

Sculpture depicting Mati Das, sawn into pieces after he refused to convert to Islam in Aurangzeb’s court

Dyal Das

Dayal Das abused the Emperor and his courtiers for this act. He was tied up like a round bundle and thrown into a huge cauldron of boiling oil. He was boiled alive into a block of charcoal.

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Dayal Das being boiled alive

Sati Das

Sati Das condemned these brutalities. He was wrapped round with cotton and burnt alive and then he was hacked to pieces limb by limb.

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Sati Das being burned alive

Tegh Bahadur

Then Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded.

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Guru Tegh about to be beheaded

All this happened on 24th November, 1675 AD at Chandni Chowk under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb.

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Now the questions arise:-

  1. Why should Guru Tegh Bahadur become a martyr, when he had all chances to escape inhuman torture and death?
  2. Why should Bhai Mati Das, Dyal Das and Sati Das die, when they too have had all chances to escape merciless torture and death?
  3. For whom they endured all the inhuman suffering and made all these sacrifices?

They suffered and sacrificed so that we can live in accordance with our native practises.

How many of us know all this?

How many even know the name of the Martyr Guru Tegh Bahadur? Is it not our duty to pay respects to the great Souls?

Sis Ganj Gurudwara

This haloed location, where they were martyred is now venerated as Sis Ganj Gurudwara situated in Chandini Chowk in Old Delhi.

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Sis Ganj Gurudwara

Jagdish Chandra Bose

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A Multidimensional Scientist

He is the father of Bengali fiction. IEEE honoured him as one of the fathers of radio science. A crater on the moon is named after him. A polymath, biologist, physicist, botanist, biophysicist, archaeologist all rolled into one, and also a writer of English fiction. He was India’s first modern scientist and the first scientist to scientifically show that plants too are living beings and have similar life cycles and functions like animals. As a biophysicist, he invented the crescograph, an instrument for measuring the growth of plant. When we speak of the contributions of this multidimensional scientist, words are found lacking. He is today reverentially known as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.

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Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

Birth and Education

J C Bose came into this world on November 30th, 1858, at Munishiganj, Bengal Presidency, in today’s Bangladesh. He started his education in a Bengali vernacular school.

Bose gives us a glimpse into his childhood upbringing, at the Bikrampur Conference speech of his in 1915. This is recorded in the book ‘Jagdish Chandra Bose’, a biographical account by Vishvapriya Mukherji.

At that time, sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol. In the vernacular school, to which I was sent, the son of the Muslim attendant of my father sat on my right side, and the son of a fisherman sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature. When I returned home from school accompanied by my school fellows, my mother welcomed and fed all of us without discrimination. Although she was an orthodox old-fashioned lady, she never considered herself guilty of impiety by treating these ‘untouchables’ as her own children. It was because of my childhood friendship with them that I could never feel that there were ‘creatures’ who might be labelled ‘low-caste’. I never realized that there existed a ‘problem’ common to the two communities, Hindus and Muslims.”

Bose joined the Hare School in 1869 and then St. Xavier’s School at Kolkata. He graduated from the Xavier’s college, Calcutta University in 1879 and left for England to pursue a course in medicine. However, due to health issues, he had to discontinue this course, as the odour in the dissection room worsened his health situation. He secured admission into Christ College in Cambridge, to pursue natural science, and received the Natural Science Tripos Certificate from Cambridge University and a Bachelor’s degree in Science from London University.

Bose subsequently began his scientific research, which he pursued with full vigour, despite facing many hurdles, including racial discrimination and fund shortage.

Radio Research

He soon achieved great success in remote wireless signalling and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. The magnanimity of Bose was such that he did not go for patent for this invention of his, but made his inventions public, for others to further his research. This led to Guglielmo Marconi doing further research on radio transmission, and being credited as ‘the inventor of Radio’, when the actual credit should have gone to Acharya Bose.

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Acharya J C Bose, the first to demonstrate Radio Waves

Plant Research

The other major contribution of Bose was in Plant Psychology. Here his own invention, crescograph came in handy as he used it to measure plant responses to various stimuli. He scientifically proved the similarity between plant and animal tissues, and thereby also proved that even plants experienced pain and other sensations.

Bose also performed a comparative study of the fatigue response of various metals and organic tissue in plants.

Also in Metals

Apart from research in plants, Bose also went into the behavior of metals.

Sister Nivedita was a Scots – Irish social worker, author, teacher and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She and J C Bose had great mutual respect for each other. Sister Nivedita actively encouraged the scientist in his research works.

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Sister Nivedita

She throws light in one of her articles on Bose’s research and findings on metals:

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An Extract from Sister Nivedita’s article

In this field, his two major works include Response in the Living and Non-Living and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants.

The other works being,

  • Response in the Living and Non-living,
  • Plant response as a means of physiological investigation,
  • Comparative Electro-physiology: A Physico-physiological Study,
  • Researches on Irritability of Plants,
  • Life Movements in Plants Volume I
  • Life Movements in Plants, Volume II,
  • Physiology of the Ascent of Sap,
  • The physiology of photosynthesis,
  • The Nervous Mechanisms of Plants,
  • Plant Autographs and Their Revelations,
  • Growth and tropic movements of plants,
  • Motor mechanism of plants.

In 1917, he founded the Bose Institute one of the earliest and perhaps the first modern research institute in India.

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Bose Institute, Kolkata

Bose subsequently delivered many lectures on his scientific research and discoveries, in India and other parts of the world.

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Bose lecturing on the “Nervous System” of plants at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1926

Science Fiction

Bose also excelled in another field and it is science fiction. In 1896, Bose authored Niruddesher Kahani, The Story of the Missing One, which was one of first works in Bengali Science fiction.

Other Recognitions

Bose held many honours and positions during the course of his life. Some of them being,

  • President of the 14th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1927
  • Knight Bachelor, in 1917, a part of the British honours system
  • Member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences in 1928
  • Member of the League of Nations Committee for intellectual cooperation
  • Member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters in 1929

Legacy

Today, his legacy stands tall as he is credited with the invention of the first wireless detective device, and also with the discovery of sensations and feelings in plant life. Acharya Bhavan, the residence of Bose, built in 1902, has been converted into a museum, which houses many of the instruments that he used. These include antennas, waveguides and polarizers, and remains to be used even to this day.

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Acharya Bhavan Museum

In 1958, the government of India issued a stamp in his name.

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The Indian Botanical Garden was renamed in his honour as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden in 2009.

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Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden

In 2012, Bose’s millimeter band radio was recognized as IEEE Milestone in electrical and computer engineering, a unique recognition for a discovery in India.

While summing up the legacy and life of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, it will be apt to say that, He is one of the architects of Modern India, especially in the scientific sphere.

Vivaha Panchami

Rama Sita Marriage

Vivaha Panchami is celebrated as the day when Rama was married to Sita, across India and Nepal. In the Indian calendar, this day is observed on the fifth day – Panchami of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in the Margashirsha.

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Rama Sita Marriage

In Gregorian Calendar

What will be this date in the Gregorian calendar?

Rama was 13 years at the time of his marriage. When Ravana came in disguise as a mendicant to Sita, asking for alms, she introduces herself as the wife of Rama and daughter-in-law of Dasaratha. She goes on to express that at the time of Vanvas, exile, her husband was 25 years in age. She continues to state that since her marriage to Rama, she lived in Ayodhya for 12 years.

From this, we can understand that Rama had completed 13 years at the time of his marriage.

5101 BCE

Rama’s birth date has been arrived at as 12:30 in the afternoon on 10th January 5114 BCE. By going ahead 13 years in Rama’s life, we can arrive at the year of Rama’s marriage, as 5101 BCE.

5114 – 13 = 5101 BCE.

This tallies very well and fits in correctly with the dialogue that Sita had with Ravana before abduction.

7117th Anniversary

So, this year 2017 CE, when we add 5101 and 2017, is 7118th wedding anniversary of Rama and Sita.

Celebrations

Rama’s and Sita’s wedding was performed at Janakapur in capital city of Mithila, in present day Nepal.

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Janakpur, Nepal

To this day, Margashirsha, Shukla Paksha Panchami day is remembered as Vivaha Panchami in Janakapur, as thousands flock here every year on this day. Vivaha Panchami day is national holiday in country of Nepal. A celebration continued for 7100 years.

Bhagavad Gita Day

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Come November and it is time to celebrate the Gita. 22nd November as per the English calendar and Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day, i.e. the 11th phase of the bright fortnight of the Margashira month as per the Indian calendar, is the day to commemorate the birth of the Gita.

Who or which Gita are we referring to here?

It is the Bhagavad Gita, which has been the literature of this civilization, this land and this nation since we can all remember.

It is the Gita which has been playing many roles in the lives of Indians, since the times of Krishna, who delivered it and left it behind to guide the people for long after His own lifetime.

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Gita Upadesha

Gita in Law

In the court one swears by the Gita. This practice has been going on for over 200 years. That makes it the nationally accepted book, both on a personal count and as well as being legally tenable. Not accepting the truth after swearing on the Gita, amounts to perjury.

All these were in practice, much before the words secularism and pseudo secularism came to vogue in India.

The Most Comprehensive Guide

The Bhagavad Gita answers one’s many queries, both from the Sthoola, bodily level and from the Sukshma, the subtle, ethereal level.

Upa means “near” and adesha means “instruction”. Upadesha is the instruction received by a disciple, sitting close to his master.

Krishna while delivering the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna says,

“I taught this to Vivasvan, who in turn passed it on to Vaivasvata Manu, from whom it was passed on to Ikshvaku, after which it was lost in the passage of time. As this knowledge is since lost, I, Krishna, son of Vasudeva am giving it you Arjuna, on this battlefield.”

The teaching of Krishna, was applicable not only to Arjuna and the situation that he was in, but is also applicable to each one of us today even after so many millennia. Through the medium of this dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, mankind, to this day, continues to enjoy and benefit from the most comprehensive guide to right living in this Universe.

This Bhagavad Gita discourse by Krishna shows Him in the light of one of the foremost spiritual teachers of mankind. His teachings through the Gita have remained a universal guide to mankind across many millennia, inspiring and leading many to walk the path of duty and righteousness.

Kurukshetra Battle and Bhagavad Gita

The uniqueness of Bhagavad Gita lies in the fact that it was given on a battle field, at the beginning of the battle between the Pandava and the Kaurava at Kurukshetra.

Kurukshetra War Start

On the day of the war the armies are lined up, ready to fight, waiting for the signal to start the battle.

At this juncture, standing at the head of the Pandava Army, facing the war giants on the Kaurava side, Arjuna, the archer par excellence and the main warrior for the Pandava forces, is troubled by serious doubts.

He sees that in front of him, the opponents whom he has to engage in battle and kill, are his own Guru – Dronacharya, his Grand Sire – Bheeshma, his own cousins – the Kaurava and other known friends.

Arjuna then questions Krishna, his friend, cousin, confidante and mentor in life, now in the role of his charioteer, of the paradoxical need to shed blood of his near and dear ones, only to establish rights over a kingdom. He asks Krishna as to why he should fight for the kingdom, if all his near and dear were to perish in the same war?

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Kurukshetra battle to start

Krishna then takes on the role of a philosopher, a teacher and explains to Arjuna the meaning of life, this creation, this universe and man’s role in it. Krishna dwells exhaustively on the concept of the soul and its relation to the body, the concept of the body and its relation to the acts it performs, the concept of these acts and their relation to their results, the concept of these results and their relation back to the soul and finally the concept of the soul and its relation to the supreme consciousness of the cosmos.

Step by step, with an answer for every question asked by Arjuna, Krishna patiently leads Arjuna into a world of deep spiritual knowledge, where Arjuna sees Krishna’s cosmic form. Arjuna learns of the ways of operation of the cosmos and the cosmic consciousness, which would apply to himself and all the beings around him, irrespective of whether he decides to fight the battle or not and whether he kills his near and dear ones or not.

Krishna elevates Arjuna to the highest echelons of knowledge about the way of life in the Universe.

Arjuna was going through an exhilarating experience of God Himself explaining the nuances of the cosmic laws to him.

Date of Gita

The Bhagavad Gita Upadesha and the start of the battle, occur on the same day. Today, with the aid of the sky configurations described in the Mahabharatha text we can assign a date in the modern calendar to the date of the battle and hence a date for this “Song of the Divine”.

We have been able date the life of Krishna and the various events of the Mahabharata through our series, “Historical Krishna”.

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Tradition calls this day when Gita was born as Gita Jayanthi and to this day it is celebrated on Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi, meaning the 11th day in the bright fortnight of the month of Margashira.

On this day, there was a New Moon along with a Solar Eclipse, in Jyeshta star on October 14th, 3067 BCE, followed by a Full Moon on October 28th, 3067 BCE. This lunar cycle marked the lunar month of Karthika, since the full moon occurred near Karthik star.

The month that follows Karthika, is Margashira and the New Moon occurred around 12 Nov 3067 BCE. This makes Nov 22nd, 3067 BCE, which was the start of the battle and the day of Gita, a Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day, the 11th  phase of the bright fortnight of Margashira.

The tradition of celebrating Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day as Gita Jayanthi matches what the skies showed 5100 years ago.

This means that the year 2017 is the 5084th year since the Upadesha of Gita.

A Revelation of God Himself

The Bhagavad Gita was revealed to mankind by God Himself. The word Bhagavad means ‘God, the Lord’ and Gita means ‘Song’. The word ‘Bhagavad Gita’ thus literally translates to, ‘Song of God’.

Krishna reveals his Viswaroopa, the Cosmic Form to Arjuna, showing that He is the Supreme Lord of Creation, incarnated in a human form to add credibility to His Gita.

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Vishvaroopa Darshana

This revelation of God, the Gita Upadesha was witnessed by Arjuna, Sanjaya the commentator, Vyasa the compiler and a host of other fortunate ones.

Arjuna’s grandfather, Krishna Dwaipayana, whom we reverentially call as Veda Vyasa, for he also compiled the Veda, recorded the Gita Upadesa for posterity.

The Difference

There have been many occasions in many lands, many civilizations, where God has conveyed His message to mankind, through His Son or through a messenger, a Prophet.

Similarly, there have been other times when God has thought it fit to pass on knowledge through different noble and wise persons.

In that sense, this land, the civilisation and nation of India, has experienced a difference, for, it has had the privilege to have an Avatar, an incarnation of God Himself, giving His message to mankind in person. And this was in the form of His song, the Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita not a religious text

Bhagavad Gita deals with life, duties, actions, mind, soul, purpose of life and the belief in the divine God. All these aspects are common to human life, civilizations and all religions. From this perspective, Bhagavad Gita is a manual of all these above points and not to be limitedly construed as a religious text, even though it has come down from the mouth of God. The dialogue between the two, Krishna and Arjuna, was more about the purpose of life and actions than a religious discourse.

Gita therefore, should verily and proudly be accorded the status of a knowledge asset, a literary treasure, a godsend counsel for realization of the self, whether one is a citizen of India or the world.

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.

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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.

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Ship

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Post Independence, her statues were built in every nook and corner of the land as people still saw her as an epitome of bravery.
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Stamps

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

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