Marthanda Varma

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Maharaja Uthradam Marthanda Varma of Thriuvananthapuram Samsthanam was a noble king, a simple man.

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We had the opportunity of meeting him many years ago when we went to pray at the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple

This temple has been in news recently for the enormous wealth that it possesses in its vaults. All this wealth – gold, silver and precious gems is a result of consistent donations by the royal family, for the last 500 years.

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While the existence of this wealth is news to us today, this King Marthanda Varma as well as his predecessors were all well aware of this huge wealth that was safely kept in the vaults of the temple.

What is pertinent to note in this connection is that, even in this day and age of avarice, this noble King Marthanda Varma, had not shown any interest in this amazing wealth nor laid a finger on it.

Let us look at his illustrious lineage.

The Travancore Dynasty

Forerunner of the Padmanabha Dasa

The most famous king of the Travancore lineage was Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma.

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Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma

He, in a decisive move, handed over the reign of the kingdom to the presiding deity of Travancore, Lord Anantha Padmanabha and vowed that he and his descendants would from thereon serve the kingdom on behalf of the Lord as His servant. For this, he and his successors would take on the title Padmanabha Dasa, the servant of Padmanabha.

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, the composer musician

The other famous king of this lineage was Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma from 1813 till 1846. This king was also a great musician and composer of songs.

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Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma

There is an interesting story about the birth of this king. When the king was still in the Queen Mother’s womb, the earlier King had passed away.

As per the doctrine of Dalhousie, imposed by the British rule then, if a kingdom did not have a successor, the kingdom had to be handed over to the British. It was using this doctrine, that the British had taken over many of the kingdoms in central India.

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Lord Dalhousie

The agent for the British in the Travancore court then, was Thomas Munro who had much faith in the Indian thought and was a confidant and advisor to the Queen mother.  To safeguard the kingdom from a claim to the throne laid by a rival to the royalty as well as to ensure British interests, even as the Queen Mother was still pregnant, Munro informed his superiors that the Queen Mother had already given birth to a boy, a legitimate heir to the kingdom and hence neither the claim of the rival nor the Dalhousie doctrine would be applicable. He thus saved the Travancore kingdom from falling into rival hands.

This he did with the confidence that, on conception, the Queen Mother had undergone the ritual known as Pumsavanam, a ritual to facilitate a male progeny. It is also said that in order that his ploy would not go in vain, he had prayed to Lord Anantha Padmanabha that the Queen Mother should deliver a male baby, failing which he threatened the Lord that he would blow up His temple.

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Col. Thomas Munro

Lord Anantha Padmanabha did not fail Munro nor the people of Kerala. A baby boy was born to the Queen Mother who grew up to become the famous music composer, Swathi Thirunal.

This gamble of Thomas Munro not only saved the Travancore kingdom but it also shows the faith Thomas Munro had reposed in the traditional Indian systems.

Unique Customs

An interesting aspect to be noted about this lineage is that it is not the King’s son who becomes the king as in the patriarchal system. The kingdom of Travancore followed a matrilineal system.

Another unique custom of this lineage is that the royalty are not to by their given name. They are respectfully referred to by the star they were born in. This holds good for both male and female members of royalty. For example Maharaja Swati Tirunal was born in the Swati star.

Wealth of the Travancore Dynasty

All the wealth of this kingdom, of its kings and its temple did not come about by plunder, but were internally generated in this kingdom and from its trade with lands far away across the seas such as Arabia and beyond.

This brings forth to us that the prosperity that was prevalent in this kingdom through the ages was of a sustainable nature and it brought untold wealth to this kingdom.

Obviously, just a portion of this would have been donated to the temple.

If this was just a portion, then one can well imagine what would have been the whole wealth of this small but prosperous kingdom?

It is to such an illustrious lineage that Raja Martanda Varma belonged to. Kerala should be proud of this noble son of a noble lineage that had once ruled it benevolently.

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International Tea Day

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Imagine missing your tea on one of the days, due to various reasons! The signs of uneasiness soon become palpable as we are unable to carry on activities normally. One often wonders why things are going wrong, and the striking reality pops up, that one has missed tea. The effect the tea has on us is aptly summerized by William Ewart Gladstone, who served as the prime minister of Britain on four separate occasions, from 1868 to 1894.

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While International Tea Day falls every year on 15th December, to celebrate this very popular beverage, every day is a tea day for the common man.

In India

The cultivation and prevalence of tea in ancient India is still unknown, as the tea that we know in the modern world was introduced and popularized by the British during the Colonial era. Before that, there is not much evidence to suggest that India relished tea in any way.

It is known that India is today one of the largest producer of tea, second only to China. As per the 2011 report of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), India is also the largest consumer of tea, consuming about 30 percent of the global output.

Chai is the popular term used for tea in India, and is among the most consumed everyday drinks. This word is derived from the Chinese word Cha, which also means tea.

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Cha in Chinese

The British first launched the tea industry in Assam in 1820s. Maniram Dewan was the first Indian tea planter, and is credited with establishing the first private commercial plantations at Assam.

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Mamiram Dewan

Importance of Tea

Tea is consumed both at home and outside.

The people have their cup of hot steaming tea, first thing in the morning in order to stimulate their senses and refresh themselves.

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There are tea stalls across the urban landscape, in just about every nook and corner of any street. Chai Wallah is a common title given to the person who runs a tea stall. It is well known that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was once a “Chai Wallah”. This term has today become a symbol to represent those who from a humble beginning, rise to great heights through hard work and perseverance.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi consuming tea

Apart from being a daily drink, tea

  • is consumed for refreshing the mind after work during ‘tea break’

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  • is served as welcome drink for guest at home
  • is an occasion for conducting important meetings, Chai Pe Charcha, as it is populary known

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Varieties of Tea

There are four basic varieties of tea produced, based on how tea leaves are produced, namely,

  1. Green tea (non-fermented)
  2. Black tea (fermented)
  3. Oolong tea (partly fermented)
  4. White tea (least processing)

Tea is grown in 16 states in India. Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala account for about 95 percent of total tea production. The other major tea-producing Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Bihar, Orissa.

The tea has also been branded based on where they are produced. Currently there are 10 major hubs of tea production in India.

  1. Darjeeling Tea (West Bengal)
  2. Assam Tea (Assam)
  3. Dooars and Terai Tea
  4. Kangra Tea (Himachal Pradesh)
  5. Nilgiri Tea (Tamil Nadu)
  6. Annamalais Tea (Tamil Nadu)
  7. Wayanaad Tea (Kerala)
  8. Karnataka Tea (Karnataka)
  9. Munnar Tea (Kerala)
  10. Travancore Tea (Kerala)

There are many other popular variations depending on regional and cultural affiliations.

An Aspect of Indian Culture

In the last many decades, tea has become an integral aspect of Indian culture. Tea is a major part of life at home, work, on the streets and while traveling. Remove tea from everyday life, and you remove the vital essence of a vibrant nation.

Narmada River

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Narmada is one of the 3 main rivers in India that flows westwards into the Arabian Sea, the other two being Tapti and Mahi. It is the fifth largest river in the Indian sub-continent and the third largest of the rivers flowing entirely within India.

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Narmada River

Narmada has its source at the Narmada Kund of the Amarkantak Plateau of the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, and flows through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The river flows for 1300 kms, before draining into Arabian Sea.

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Narmada Kund, Amarkantak

One of the specialties of this river is that it flows through a rift valley, between the Vindhya and Satpura range. It is also one of those major rivers that doesn’t form any delta.

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Narmada flowing through Rift valley

Narmada –names, legends and importance

Narmada means “that which gives pleasure”. It is also known as Rewa, meaning, “swift”, due to the swiftness of its water currents.

Narmada and Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara once calmed the raging waters of Narmada River, using his kamandalu, to save his Guru Govinda Bhagavatpada, who was immersed in dhyana, meditation at a cave nearby.

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Adi Shankara calming the waters of Narmada

Narmada Ashtakam

Adi Shankara glorifies Narmada in the Narmada Ashtakam, which he composed in the glory of Narmada Devi. The opening verse of this hymn reads,

Sa-Bindu-Sindhu-Suskhalat-Tarangga-Bhangga-Ran.jitam
Dvissatsu Paapa-Jaata-Jaata-Kaari-Vaari-Samyutam |
Krtaanta-Duuta-Kaala-Bhuuta-Bhiiti-Haari-Varma-De
Tvadiiya-Paada-Pangkajam Namaami Devi Narmade ||1||

English Meaning:

Salutations to Devi Narmada whose River-body illumined with Sacred drops of Water, flows with mischievous playfulness, bending with Waves.

Your Sacred Water has the divine power to transform those who are prone to Hatred, the Hatred born of Sins,

You put an end to the fear of the messenger of Death by giving Your protective Armour (of Refuge),
O Devi Narmada, I Bow down to Your Lotus Feet, Please give me Your Refuge.

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Narmada Devi

Daughter of Rishi Mekla

In Purana, Narmada is mentioned as the daughter of Rishi Mekla, who lived and meditated at the foothills of Vindhya Mountains. Hence Narmada also has the name Mekalaa and Mekalakanya. The are other legends which point to Mekala being the mountain from where Narmada rises.

Life Line of Madhya Pradesh

The river is today known as the “life line of Madhya Pradesh” on account of its major contribution to the state.

One of the 7 holy rivers

In the Indian tradition, Narmada is of the 7 holy rivers, the others being Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Kaveri, Sarasvati and Godavari. The ancient Indian texts like the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Purana talk about this river. Like the Ganga, river Narmada is worshipped as a deity – Narmada Devi. The Vayu and Skanda Purana speak about the origin of this river in detail.

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The connect with the Trinity

As per one legend, Narmada has her origin from the sweat of Lord Shiva, and is therefore also known as Shankari. Another legend states that the river was born from the tear drop of Lord Brahma. These legends also state that Narmada is older than the Ganga.

The Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga is located on the banks of Narmada River, at the Khandava district of Madhya Pradesh.

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  Narmada at Omkareshwar                                      Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga

The resting place of Lord Shiva

Padma Purana states that Lord Shiva rested on the banks of River Narmada, before proceeding on his mission of vanquishing the Tripuras, the three aerial cities of the Asuras. The pebbles on the banks of Narmada are thus regarded to be highly sacred and are worshipped as lingam. These pebbled are known as Banalinga and are sought after for worship.

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Natural Narmada Banalinga

One of the biggest of these Banalinga has been installed in the Brihadeeshvara temple, at Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

The battleground of Indra and Vrtra

The Bhagavata Purana states that the battle between Indra and Vrtra, happened on the banks of Narmada River.

In Ramayana

In the Ramayana, it is mentioned that King Kartivirya Arjuna once picnicked with his wives on the banks of Narmada. Ravana also comes here at the same time, and in a battle between Ravana and Kartivirya, the former is humbled.

In the search for Sita, Sugreeva asks his Vanara army to conduct a search amongst the Vindhya mountains, where the Narmada river flows.

Pushkaram – The traditional festival

A festival, Narmada Pushakaram is held every 12 years here, in worship of River Narmada, and lasts for 12 days.

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Narmada Pushakaram

Narmada Basin

The Narmada basin covers a large area and is located between Vindhya and Satpura ranges, in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra and Telangana. It has one of the oldest teak hardwood forest in India. The Narmada eco region is home to 76 species of mammals and 276 species of birds.

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Narmada Basin

Bhimbetka rocks

The Bhimbetka rock shelters in the Narmada valley, in Madhya Pradesh contain many ancient paintings, that are 30000 years old. These 243 rock shelters at Bhimbetka have been declared as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

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Bhimbetka rock shelters

Archaeologist have found evidence of Harappa settlements on the banks of Narmada. One of the excavated sites is located at Navadatoli on the south bank of the river, which has remnants of the earlier civilization. Another one was excavated at Mehtakhedi village, in Narmada Valley, Madhya Pradesh.

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An ancient archaeological remains discovered at Narmada Valley

Bharuch

Bharuch is a sacred city located on the mouth of Narmada, and its name is derived from the great Rishi Brigu, the city’s original name being Brigukaccha. Rishi Brigu’s ashram was located on the banks of river Narmada.

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Bharuch, location

As per the Purana, Rishi Brigu is one of the ten sons of Lord Brahma. Many Rishi like Markandeya, Shukracharya, Jamadagni belonged to the lineage of Rishi Brigu. Lord Parasurama was born in the 7th generation this Rishi.

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Rishi Brigu

As per the Skanda Purana, 55 tirtha Sthal, are located along the Narmada River. Bharuch is also a Jain tirtha Sthal.

Today, just like other rivers, pollution has affected Narmada. On December 11th, 2016, the Madhya Pradesh government launched the Narmada Seva Yatra to turn the river pollution free. It sought to create awareness about the conservation of the river.

Narmada is one of the major rivers in this country that has shaped the culture and tradition of this civilization, apart from support life for many a millennia. We need to preserve it, so that it continues to sanctify us for many more millennia.

Delhi-The Capital from many millennia

On 12th December 1911, George V, the then Emperor of India, along with Queen Mary, his consort announced that Delhi would replace Calcutta as the capital of India.

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Delhi Durbar For Coronation of King George V as Emperor of India, 1911

Twenty years later, India’s capital was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta, and was inaugurated on 13th February 1931. The city continues to be the capital of the Republic of India, after independence.

From ancient to modern times, Delhi has been the capital of many kingdoms. The history of Delhi is traceable atleast upto the Mahabharata period. There are seven prominent cities that existed during earlier periods, in the region where Delhi stands today.

  • Indraprastha of Mahabharata period built by Pandava
  • Dilli capital of the Tomar dynasty
  • Prithviraj Chauhan’s Dilli
  • Lodhi’s Dehli
  • Humayun’s Dehli – present South Delhi
  • Shah Jahan’s Dehli – present North or Old Delhi
  • Lutyens Delhi – The New Delhi

Indraprastha

Pandava built their capital and called it Indraprastha after Indra, the leader of divinities. Indra also denotes senses. Indraprastha was a city which delighted the senses. Prastha means clearing. Indraprastha was constructed, by clearing the thickly forested region, Khandavaprastha.

This city was built by a descendant of Mayasura whose life Arjuna had saved earlier. This was an act of gratitude from the Mayasura clan with their timeless skills of architecture.

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Mayasura Speaking to Arjuna and Krishna

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Hence the best hall in this city of Indraprastha was commemoratively called as Maya Sabha after the Mayasura.

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The Maya Sabha

Khandavaprastha

Khandavaprastha has been traced to the areas around present day Delhi. The word Khandava means plains. Khandava also means sugar candy or products that come out of sugar.

It is interesting to note that the region from Meerut in Western Uttar Pradesh to Kurukshetra and beyond in Haryana is a sugarcane belt indeed. The erstwhile Khandavaprastha falls within this belt.

When one travels through this region by land and air, we see endless sugarcane fields, molasses factories and the smoke that arises from their chimneys. An intermediary product between jaggery and sugar is called khandsari.

In 1350 CE, about 700 years ago too, when Ibn Batuta, the Persian traveller visited these regions, he found this region abounding in sugarcane fields, which he has mentioned in his chronicles.

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Ibn Batuta amidst sugarcane fields

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An aerial view of sugarcane fields

Going by the name “Khandavaprastha” used for this region during the Mahabharata period, this perhaps must have been a feature, a produce of this land from 5100 years ago during the Mahabharata period too.

Indraprastha to Delhi

Indraprastha became Delhi after King Dhilu and finally the Tomars were the last to rule Delhi. They ruled for over 500 years until 12th century CE. The last of these kings was Prithviraj Chauhan.

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Raja Prithviraj Chauhan

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CITM Lake in Asola (Faridabad), next to Arangpur, which was the first town established by Tomars

The ruins of the palaces and forts of all these kings, form the area known as Purana Khila of Delhi today. Purana means old. A destroyed fort is called Khila.

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Qutub Minar

Delhi becomes Sultanate

After Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Muhamad of Ghori, successive Islamic dynasties ruled from Delhi such as the Mamluk or Slave dynasty, Khilji, Tughlaq, Lodhi and Mughals. Delhi became a Sultanate.

During those times this fort was called “Shergarh” after Emperor Sher Shah Suri who had taken it over from Humayun. Ain-i-Akbari refers to this fort as “Kaurav-Pandav ka Qila” meaning the fort of the Kaurava and Pandava.

Purana Khila area or Indraprastha, had thus been a continuous capital from 3100 BCE, when it was built by the Pandava, to 1192 CE, when it was ransacked by Muhammad of Ghori. So, for a period of 4000 years, it had been the capital city of the local kingdom. It therefore has enough scope for offering archaeological finds.

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Purana Khila – an early photograph

This area is not far away in some wilderness but right in the heart of the present day capital city of India, Delhi.

Excavation at Purana Khila

Dr. Upinder Singh, the noted historian has remarked that the Purana Khila was excavated in the 1950s by the Archaeological Survey of India, but its report has not been published so far.

Dr. Singh further states in her works, that the area around Purana Khila and different parts around Delhi regularly keep throwing up artifacts which keep on pushing the historical backgrounds of Delhi further and further, back in time.

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Illustration of the City of Delhi during the times of Shahjahan – Shahjahanabad 

Ruins of ancient Delhi are in the circled area, top left

More on Delhi and Indraprastha in our book “Historical Krishna”.

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This Delhi region was much prosperous, which attracted many plunderers.

1739 – Plunder by Nadir Shah

In 1739 CE, Nadir Shah, an invader who came from north west, ransacked Delhi. His troops unleashed a 57 day, general massacre on Delhi, then probably the most prosperous city of the world and took back as spoils of war, treasures assessed at Rupees 70 Crores of those days’ value, along with priceless artefacts such as the Peacock throne and the Kohinoor Diamond, currently on exhibit at the Tower of London.

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Nadir Shah

                                           Delhi 14     Delhi 15

                                                     The Peacock throne                     The Kohinoor Diamond

More on this in our book “You Turn India”.

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Nehru on Delhi

Delhi is an epitome and symbol of India’s historical continuity and prosperity. It will be apt to end here with a quote from our first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru convocation address, at Delhi University in 1958.

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Jawahar Lal Nehru

“Here we stand in Delhi city, symbol of old India and the new. It is not the narrow lanes and houses of old Delhi nor the wide spaces and rather pretentious buildings of New Delhi that count, but the spirit of this ancient city. Delhi has been an epitome of India’s history with its succession of glory and disaster and with its great capacity to absorb many cultures and yet remain itself. It is a gem with many facets, some bright and some darkened by age, presenting the course of ‘India’s life and thought during the ages.”

Babu Genu

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Very few people in this country are even aware of this young martyr, who was done in, in the most gruesome manner by the British dictators. While the exact birth date of this young hero is yet to be ascertained, it is confirmed that he was born in 1908. So, Babu Genu was just 22 years, when he met his end on 12th December 1930, fighting the British. It is the memory of such freedom fighters that India should nurture, in order to truly understand the great sacrifices of those who collectively brought India freedom. The youth of India then were not afraid to raise their voices against the British administration, and in the process even risked their lives.

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Babu Genu

Early Life

Babu Genu was born in 1908, into a poverty ridden family, in the Pune district of Maharashtra. His father was a farmer, and the only prized possession of the family was a bullock, that was used for farming. The other members of his family were his mother, two elder brothers and a sister. His father passed away in 1910, when he was only 2 years old. Then came the second blow, when the bullock died. These were the twin tragedies that Babu Genu had to face, very early on in his life, and given their economic background, his mother was left with an uphill task of running the family. She left her sons back in the villages, and moved to Mumbai, in order to earn a livelihood as a domestic help.

While the economic situation of his family meant that Babu Genu was deprived of a formal education, this did not deter him from understanding the ground realities facing the country under British Administration.

Joining the Freedom Movement

Babu Genu soon joined his mother in Mumbai and sought to support her, as a casual labourer in the mills of Mumbai. Meanwhile, he also got in touch with a few leaders of the freedom movement, and understood the freedom struggle in its true perspective. Very soon, Babu Genu was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the principles of non-violence and Satyagraha, enunciated by him. He joined the Indian National Congress and became a part of the Freedom Movement.

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Mahatma Gandhi

The Understanding of Babu Genu

Even at a young age Babu Genu was able to grasp the symbiotic link between geo-politics and geo-economics. He knew that economics was the driving force of British rule and establishment of the British Raj was merely a ruse to perpetuate the economic dominance of the British over India. If the British were to be economically crippled, then their rule would collapse.

It is this aspect of the struggle that Babu Genu focused on, and was a strong advocate of Swadesh goods, which led to his eventual martyrdom in 1930.

Martyrdom

On 12th December, 1930, a cloth merchant, George Frazier of Manchester was transporting his foreign produced cloths from his shop at old Hanuman Galli in Mumbai, to Mumbai port. The activists of freedom struggle, requested them not to move the truck, but their calls were of no avail, as this merchant had sought and got full police protection. The protesters were driven away by the police, as the truck began to move.

Near Bhaangwadi on Kalbadevi Road, Shahid Babu Genu stood in front of the truck, shouting praises for Mahatma Gandhi. The police officer ordered the driver to drive the truck over Shahid Babu Genu. But the driver was an Indian. He refused and said “I am Indian and he is also Indian and we both are brothers to each other. How can I murder my brother?”

The English police officer was infuriated and pushed away the truck driver and himself sat on the driver’s seat. He now drove the truck over Babu Genu and crushed him to death. This resulted in a huge wave of anger, strikes, and protests throughout Mumbai.

In his honour

Today, there are many landmarks named after Babu Genu in Maharashtra, such as Babu Genu Ground in Mumbai, Babu Genu Said Wadi in Pune district, Babu Genu Chowk in Pune, and Babu Genu Mandal in Pune.

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Babu Genu Mandal Pune

The road passing at the Hanuman Galli in Mumbai is today named after Babu Genu.

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Babu Genu Road, Mumbai

A Dam on Ghod River, in the Dimbhe Taluk, near Pune, is named after Babu Genu, namely Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam, Hutatma meaning martyr and Sagar, sea.

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Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam

Revive memories of our Freedom fighters

A youth of just 22 years had stood strong and given up his life for the cause of the Indian Independence movement. Should we forget the sacrifices of such martyrs, who sowed the seeds of freedom, which we all are all enjoying now? It is high time we revive the memories and contributions of these martyrs, which will be a fitting tribute to their sacrifices. Long live the memory of Babu Genu and all other martyrs whose sacrifices brought us freedom.

Subramanya Bharati

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Subramanya Bharati, popularly known as ‘Mahakavi Bharathiar’, is one of the greatest Tamil poets, who through his poems encouraged patriotism among people at the time of Indian Freedom Struggle.

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Mahakavi Bharathiar

Leading Literary Figure

Considered one of the leading figures in Tamil literature, Subramanya Bharati’s works mainly ranged in social, religious and patriotic arena.

Subramanya Bharati, affectionately called Bharathiar was born in Ettyapuram on December 11th, 1882. He completed his education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi.

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Birth Place of Bharathiar

Taking part in Freedom struggle

He joined the Indian National Congress and carried out revolutionary activities against the British rule, an aspect of which was his stirring poetry through which he kindled nationalism in people.

He also wrote articles for newspapers such as Swadeshamitra and India.

A National Poet

Mahatma Gandhi called him a national poet.

Poems on Women Emancipation

Among his poems were also many songs for women’s emancipation with the title of Kannama.

Coming to Pondicherry

The British police issued a warrant against him in 1908 for carrying out revolutionary activities. Bharathiar then went to Pondicherry, a French colony and lived there for the next 10 years. Here, he translated the Bhagavad Gita into Tamil.

Friendship with V O Chidambaram Pillai

Bharathiar was a close friend of V O Chidambaram Pillai, the other great freedom fighter who started the Swadeshi Shipping Company, forcibly closed by the British, as they perceived it as a threat to British interests.

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V O Chidambaram Pillai                 Swadeshi Shipping Company

The End

Bharathiyar

Bharathiar’s end came when he was shoved aside by an elephant in mast, at the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Madras. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away on 12th September, 1921.

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  Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvallikeni

Among his great grandchildren, Rajkumar Bharati is carrying forward his legacy.

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Rajkumar Bharati

The home where he spent the last few years of his life in Triplicane, also called Thiruvallikeni, has been named Bharathiar Illam, which stands adjacent to the Parthasarathy Temple.

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                    Bharathiar Illam                             

Vast Popularity

In Tamil Films

The songs of Bharathiar have been used in the Tamil films and Carnatic Music, for the past many decades.

Feature Film – Bharathi

Bharathi, a film on the life of Bharathiar was released in the year 2000. This film won the National Film Award for best Tamil Feature Film, for the year 2000.

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Bharathi Film on Bharathiar’s life

Streets, Associations and University in name

Almost every town of Tamil Nadu has a Bharathiar street. Tamil associations in different cities of the world have been named after him. There is a University in his name at Coimbatore. Such are his literary achievements.

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Bharathiar University, Coimbatore

Stamps in name

There are also stamps and coins released in his name by the government of India.

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Stamp on Bharathiar

Statues and Idols

Many statues have been erected for Bharatiyar all over Tamil Nadu. There are also some temples where his idol can be found. One such place is in Madhya Kailash temple in Adayar, Chennai, which has an idol for Bharathiar.

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                  Statue of Bharathiar, Chennai                                     Statue of Bharathiar, Pondicherry  

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Bharathiar Statue in Varanasi

All these speak of the immense popularity and wide acceptance of this Mahakavi.

International Mountain Day

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“International Mountain Day”, instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.

The theme for the year 2013 is, “Mountains – Key to a Sustainable Future”

In the Indian ethos the mountains have not been looked at as only a geographical phenomenon but have been intrinsically linked with the ethos of the land. The mountains have formed an important aspect of the sustainability ethos of the land through the ages.

Vanavasi

The people who have lived in this land in the forest of the mountainous region have been respectfully referred to in the Indian tradition as vanavasi. They have been the custodians’ guardians of these mountains big and small.

Adivasi

In the name of development and classification these vanavasi have been now classified as adivasi and as scheduled tribes. These modern classifications have been a restricting factor in the activity of these vanavasi. These nomenclatures also have a shade of non-respectful reference.

If we have to look at the mountains to be sustainable component of our land, we should not only respect the mountains but as well respect the people who have made these mountains their homes and given them the right to safeguard the mountain scape which they have been innately capable of, which they have been maintaining from the past many millennia.

Parvat- Parvati

In the Indian thought the mountains, hills have been revered through the ages. The hills are called Parvat. The chief of the hills is Parvat Raja. The daughter of this Parvat Raja is Parvati who is the consort of Shiva. Parvati is thus the daughter of the hill. That is the reverence that the hills and the hill people have received in the Indian thought. The tallest and the mightiest mountain range in the world is Himalaya. The very word Himalaya comes from the word him meaning “snow” and alaya meaning “the abode of”, hence, “the abode of snow”. It is the same term as alaya which we use for temple. Thus we respectfully refer to the grand mountain as alaya, the “temple of snow”.

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Himalaya, “the abode of snow”

Goverdhangiri

Krishna who lived around 3100 BCE asked his people to venerate Goverdhangiri the nearby hill which provided the gracing pastures for their cows and livelihood for all of them. The consequent episode of Goverdhangiri is well known and has been retold many a times in poetry and different art forms.

Boundaries of India

In the north we all know it is bounded by the Himalayas, the great snowcap mountains. In the East, the boundaries of India start from Arunachala, aruna meaning the first rays of the sun and achala meaning the hill. So Arunachala meaning where the first rays of the sun fall on the hills of the land which is today referred to as the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. In the west, the boundaries of India are extended till Astachal, ast meaning to set, achala meaning hills, the hills over which the setting sun sets. These were the hills in the west of Afghanistan. Thus we see even the boundaries of this great land through the ages has been referred to the three mountains; Himachal, Arunachal, Astachal. Every hill is venerated and festivals are celebrated around the hill by the local throughout the land. Such veneration has been there for many millennia for the people recognized that their hill formed a sustainable part of this life. While the term sustainability may seem like a new age word, it was seen in practice in this land in many fields, here in this case with the hills and mountains.

Let us, this day, the International Mountain Day, recognize the intrinsic role that shall play between man, flora, fauna and mountains in sustaining each other.