Yoga-The Union

The Roots

Yoga, the latest rave across the world, comes from the root Yug, Jug which means to align.

It is the same root as for the word “Yoke” which is used to align bullocks to pull a cart.

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YogaYug/Jug – Yoke – Join

The root of the word Yoga and its practice, lies in India.

The Practice

Yoga is not just exercise or postures.

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Yoga, as the name suggests, is the practice by way of which mind, body and breath are aligned to achieve a state of harmony with each other and to become homogeneous with the cosmic consciousness – a state that brings with it a sense of freshness, energy and calm, a sense of balance of the various senses and emotions.

The extent of harmony and balance maintained, defines the depth of insight the Yogi has gained.

In a simplistic form, it is a structured combination of

  • Asana – exercise postures for the body,
  • Pranayama – regulating energy through control of the breath and
  • Dhyana – meditation for the mind,

along with maintaining physiological, psychological and sociological hygiene through Yama (control / abstinence), Niyama (adherence) and other guidelines.

Daily activities as Yoga

In our life, the various activities that we perform are also various aspects of Yoga. For example,

  1. When we greet each other with Namaste, it is Anjali Mudra.
  2. When we sit down on the floor to eat, the sitting position is called Suhasan, one of the asana, postures of Yoga
  3. After eating, the asana, posture that is  suggested for easy digestion is Vajrasana
  4. The sleeping posture is Shavasana. The act of sleeping with awareness is known as Yoga Nidra

The common punishment asana is called Palikarsha. In Hindi it is called Baski and in Tamil Topukaranam. It is the act of crossing one’s arms and holding the opposite side ear lobes and performing situps.

Mistakes usually happen due to lack of knowledge and awareness. The Palikarsha posture stimulates the nadi, nerve which helps enhance neuron cells, their perfect connectivity and thus improves knowledge acquisition and transfer process within the body. It also helps to internalize whatever is learnt and to become more aware.

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Palikarsha

Like this, every simple activity is linked to one of the yogic postures or the other.

Child – An Expert in Yoga

Yoga comes to us naturally right from our childhood.

Many of the different poses that a child does in its antics are yogic poses. As we grow from childhood into youth, we need to continue our practice of Yoga.

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Children bending their bodies in play like Yoga Asanas

Yoga as a structured practice by the adults can be traced to India to beyond 7100 years ago at the very least.

A 7100 Year Old Structured Practice

The general opinion is that Yoga is 5000 years old. But we can see the trace of Yoga even during Ramayana times, 7100 years ago. Yoga was a specialized practice then too and hence must date to times before Rama as well.

Yoga Vasishta

The antiquity of Yoga can be ascertained from the fact that Rama’s Spiritual Guru, Vasishta, counselled and groomed Rama’s mind through the treatise Yoga Vasishta. One of the longest texts in Samskrt after Mahabharata, Yoga Vasishta forms an important text for Yoga and Advaita Vedanta (Non duality).

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Vasishta imparting Yoga Vasishta to Rama – An Illustration on Art of Living CD Cover

Rama’s birth datable to 5114 BCE, makes Yoga Vasishta and the concept of Yoga, atleast 7100 years old.

Continuous practice

From the timeless Veda, we can see that Indians have been in the habit of this continuous practice to keep both mind and body fit. Antiquity can be seen both in art and text.

In art, we can see a continuity of Yoga practice right from Mohenjodaro and Harappan times in the form of terracota Yogic posture figurines.

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As far as texts go, across the times, illumined minds have given structure to this practice, through a large body of texts, thereby giving Yoga practice, a breath of fresh air every few generations.

Rishi Patanjali and Yoga

Rishi Patanjali, one of the earliest pioneers of Yoga was born in the land known today as Afghanistan.

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An idol of Patanjali

When Rishi Gonika was praying to Surya, Sun with cupped hands – an Anjali Mudra, a yogic posture, a baby fell into it. The child was thus named Patanjali, meaning one who fell into cupped hands.

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Anjali to Surya

Rishi Patanjali had his education at Takshashila University, the premier centre of advanced learning then, which is near present day Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Takshashila was a sought after centre for higher studies in Yoga, Ayurveda among many other subjects.

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Takshashila Ruins of today

Patanjali Rameshwaram Connect

Rishi Patanjali attained his Samadhi in Rameshwaram in South India.

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Rameshwaram Temple

Rama installs Rameshwaram Lingam

Rameshwaram is one of the hallowed places of India, where Rama installed and worshipped a Shiva Lingam, before his battle with Ravana.

More on Rama installing the Lingam at Rameshwarm in our book ‘Historical Rama’.

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Rama praying to Shiva Linga                  Rameshwaram Temple                             Historical Rama

Rameshwaram – A Jyothir Linga

The Lingam at Rameshwaram is one of the 12 Jyothir Lingas. We discuss the significance of Jyothir Linga and Rameshwaram in our book ‘Understanding Shiva’.

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Understanding Shiva

It is in such a holy place that Patanjali lived, practised and propagated Yoga and eventually attained samadhi.

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Rishi Patanjali Samadhi, Rameshwaram

Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra composed by Rishi Patanjali, which goes back by many millennia, has been a forerunner and guide for the practice of Yoga in all these years.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra being explained by H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living

Rishi Patanjali recorded, systematized and expounded Yoga through the entire stretch of land from north-west Afghanistan, where He was born, to Rameshwaram in south-east India, where He attained Samadhi.

Thus the structured practice of Yoga was not limited to north India alone, but has stretched from north-west India to south-east India, covering the whole civilization of India.

Shiva-Adi Yogi

Shiva is referred to as Adi Yogi, represented as a bodily form, Shankara.

Indus Valley Pashupathi Seal

Probably one of the earliest representations, can be found in the Harappa – Mohenjodaro seal of Pashupathi, where Shiva or Pashupathi is shown seated in a Padamasana pose with all the animals surrounding Him.

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Pashupathi seal from Harappa

Gundestrup Cauldron

A very interesting archaeological find in Denmark, of a very ancient bowl, at a place called Gundestrup, throws new light on Pashupathi and His following. This bowl, now called the Gundestrup Cauldron, bears in one of its panels, an image very similar to the Pashupathi seal unearthed from the Harappa – Mohenjodaro sites.

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Gundestrup cauldron, Denmark, Unearthed in 1891 Dating back to 150 BCE & Pashupathi

Indo-Euro Yogic connect

This shows that this yogic form was prevalent not only to the Indus Valley sites but even to far away Denmark in North Western Europe.

Krishna – Yogeshwara

Sri Krishna was an exemplary Jnana Yogi. Krishna also speaks about other Yoga such as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Gita Upadesha was given on 22nd November, 3067 BCE. How we have conclusively arrived at this date, is discussed in our book, “Historical Krishna”.

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                  Gita Upadesha                                 Historical Krishna

This implies that Krishna and His Upadesha, counsel on Yoga are historical and real.

This means that Yoga and it benefits are also real.

This positions Yoga as not just exercise postures, Asana, but as knowledge, action, devotion, all coming together, to verily become a harmonious way of life.   

Yogasana and Namaz Postures

There are interesting similarities between Yogasana Postures and the Muslim practice of Namaz.

Namaz Postures have their equivalent names and poses in Yogasana as can been in this chart.

Yogasana Namaz Postures
Namaste Qiyam
Ardha Uttanasana Ruk’u
Vajrasana Julus
Balasana Sujud

yoga

Similarities of Yogasana and Namaz Postures

The similarity of Yogasana and Namaz Postures shows unison. For, Yoga itself means to unite, to come together.

Yoga Travels World Over

This structured practice of Yoga has now travelled and become popular world over as one of the preferred forms of keeping body and mind fit with one move.

Yoga to Near West

A look into the past shows that even Sufi saints from the Near West, Sultans and Mughal kings have interacted with Yogis, with an open mind inorder to learn of the good aspects of Yoga from its master practitioners.

Yoga to Far West

The visit of Swami Vivekananda to US in 1893 was a kick off point for Yoga in the modern international arena. Yoga kicked off and spread as a big  in the US and worldwide.

Yoga to the East

Yoga went to the East from India along with Buddhism more than 2000 years ago, for Dhyan, meditation lies at the heart of Buddhism.

A sitting example is at the west entrance of Wat Phra Kew, the main temple attached to the Grand Palace at Bangkok, Thailand, in the form of a bronze statue popularly called “The Hermit Doctor”.

The locals refer to this statue as their patron of medicine, an Indian hermit Jivaka, who gave them Yoga and herbal medicine and hence offer prayers and other offerings here, to get cured of illnesses.  This Jivaka was none other than the personal physician of the Buddha.

This statue at the front of the temple is placed on a stone pedestal, with another pedestal in front, bearing a stone mortar and pestle – an indication of how he practiced medicine with herbs, he used to grind.

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Jivaka, Patron Hermit of Yoga and Medicine, Wat Phra Kew, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Further more, many Yoga postures can be seen displayed by statues in the gardens of Wat Pho, the temple adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, which houses the Reclining Buddha and is home to the original Thai massage. Housing many plaques with inscriptions on the pressure points in the human body, this temple from a long time has been renowned as a study centre for Ayurveda including Thai style of massages and Yoga.

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Statues depicting Yoga Postures at Wat Pho Temple in Thailand, Bangkok

The statue, 2nd from left in the 2nd row, just under the large leafed plant can be seen

doing Pranayama, breathing exercise, with his hands on his waist

Yoga, Now a Global Brand

It was Paramahamsa Yogananda and then Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri. Krishnamacharya, Sri B.K.S.Iyengar, their disciples and Gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev, who have literally taken Yoga to the world.

World Yoga Day

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a clarion call to have an World Yoga Day declared, to raise awareness of keeping mind and body fit through Yoga.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in his address to UN Assembly in September 2014, made a request to formalize a World Yoga day. The UN body adopted this resolution and passed it with a overwhelming majority in December 2014.

The world now has a new day to observe and celebrate – A World Yoga Day!

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June 21st of every year, which is the day of Summer Solstice, i.e. the day when the Sun is seen longest in the sky, the day when daylight is maximum, was declared by UN on 12th December 2014, as World Yoga Day.

It is an apt day to be chosen as a World Yoga Day for every Yoga session typically starts with Surya Namaskar, the reverence to the Sun. What could be a better day than a Summer Solstice, the day when the Sun is in its peak to revere and celebrate the connection between our body and the Sun. It is the connection which drives the very metabolism clock in our bodies.

What is even more amazing is that, the proposal from India to the UN, to declare June 21st as World Yoga Day was seconded and co-sponsored by an unprecedented number of 175 nations out of 193.

This is indeed a remarkable feat. Normally, so many countries coming together in the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution for a commemorating day is rare.

For the 1st time so many nations have unanimously voted for a declaration in the history of UN General Assembly and that too within a record 3 months of the proposal having been put up in September 2014.

This in itself is proof of the universal acceptance of Yoga.

The popularity of Yoga and universality of Yoga, is what led so many countries to come together to jointly announce a World Yoga Day.

“Yoga embodies

  • unity of mind and body;
  • thought and action;
  • restraint and fulfilment;
  • harmony between man and nature;
  • a holistic approach to health and well being.” ,

were the words with which India described Yoga and garnered this support.

No wonder then that people across the globe, across times have therefore held and continue to hold Yoga in high respect and demand. The need for Yoga and the benefits of Yoga are as universal, as is our breath and our desire to be in union with the divine.

Yoga is a universal offering from India which has the potential to align all bodies and minds, across the world, towards the common goal of self realization, oneness, unity and peace.

Vata Purnima

“Vata Purnima” is a festival that is celebrated in GujaratMaharashtra and Karnataka on a Full Moon day in the month of Jyeshta-June. Purnima refers to the Full Moon in this month.

Vata Vriksha – The Banyan Tree

Vata Vriksha, the Banyan tree is intertwined with the traditions of India from time immemorial. The botanical name for this tree is “Ficus Benghalensis”. It is a tree that grows all over India.

Vat Vriksha

Vata Vriksha, Banyan tree

Vata Purima and Savitri -Satyavan

The legend of Vata Purnima is connected with the story of Savitri and Satyavan.

Savitri and Satyavan were a young married couple. One day while resting, with his head on Savitri’s lap, under a Banyan tree, Satyavan breathed his last. Savitri, a devout wife could feel the presence of Yama, the Lord of death at this moment. When Yama turned to leave with Satyavan’s soul, Savitri with determination, started following Yama, to ask him to return Satyavan’s life.

Savithri Sathyavan story

Savitri debating with Yama

Savitri’s dogged pursuit of Yama and her winning debate with him, made Yama restore Satyavan’s life as a boon to her.

Savitri returned to the Banyan tree, Vata Vriksha and found Satyavan stirring back to life. This Banyan tree, which was a witness to the death defying devoutness of Savitri, came to be associated with the power of faith and perseverance and with longevity.

This event gained popularity through the ages and came to be observed as Vata Purnima festival. For, it was under the Banyan tree, that Satyavan’s life was plucked and later restored. The perseverance of Savitri in a trying circumstance, her overcoming the odds and winning over Yama with wit and thereby getting back her husband to life, is a story that finds resonance with every devout married woman.

Vata Purnima – The Fasting Festival

Praying for a long life for their spouses and a timeless togetherness, women observe a fast and tie a string around a Vata Vriksha on Vata Purnima.

The tying of the string around the girth of the Vata Vriksha is a gesture to symbolize that the bond between the husband and the wife should be as strong as that between Savitri and Satyavan. That their progeny should grow as the roots and shoots of the Banyan too.

Women celebrating Vata Purnima

Vata Purnima celebration by women in India

While the Vata Purnima festival is celebrated in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat to commemorate Savitri-Satyavan legend, similar festivals are also celebrated in other parts of India on other days. For example, the Karadaiyan Nombu is celebrated in Tamil Nadu around March where married women and girls tie a yellow thread around their neck to symbolize a strong, immortal bond between husband and wife.

Vata Patra Sayi

The Vata leaf is found in art forms as a leaf floating on waters with the divine child, Balakrishna sucking His toe in the classic pose of a baby. This depiction of Krishna is called Vata Patra Sayi. Patra means leaf and Sayi, is one who is resting. It comes from Sayana meaning to repose, recline.

Vata Patra Sayi

Vata Patra Sayi

Vata Vriksha, the Tree of Knowledge

The Vata tree also symbolizes knowledge, the timeless knowledge of the land. For, it is under this tree that Dakshinamurthi, the divinity associated with knowledge, imparts knowledge in silence to his four Sishya, disciples.

Vata and Gita

Lord Krishna gave the Gita Upadesa beside a Banyan Tree, Vata Vriskha, in Kurukshetra. Portions of this Banyan tree are believed to have survived to this day. The Vata Vriksha in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra, is believed to be a part of the original tree that was a witness to the Gita Upadesa.

Banyan tree Gita

Banyan Tree at Jyotisar, Kurukshetra

Vata and Nothing

An interesting point to note is that, the seed of such a mighty tree like Banyan is so small and when you break open that small seed, what you see inside is a hollow space. Indeed it is hollow and empty!

Similarly the vast Universe that we see around us too has come from such nothingness, Shunya. Shunya is not literally nothing. It is referred to as there is no point of reference to this tattva, concept in Creation. In reality, this nothing is everything, the source of whole Creation. This nothingness is also referred to as Chit. The sublime consciousness.

The Shunya Vada discussion, takes us there.

This timeless truth was revealed to Shweta Ketu by his father Rishi Uddalaka. This incident is recorded in the Chandogya Upanishad.

Vata Vriksha – A Meeting place

It is under a banyan tree that travellers rest. For, this tree is wide enough to accommodate even a caravan full of travellers and provide shade from the heat that beats down most parts of India. It is during this rest that people are regaled with stories and legends are told and retold across generations, across time.

The Vata Vriksha has been a focal point for the culture of the land.

It has been one of the favoured spots for trading. Traders in India are called baniya. The common name “Banyan” for this tree, originated from the fact that this tree was the meeting center of the baniya.

Vata Vriksha – Tree of Life, Fertility

Banyan tree is a tree that sprouts roots, also from its branches. They grow downwards from the branches, go into the ground, to give rise to an extension of the tree. The Banyan tree is hence also called Nyagrodha meaning that which is growing downwards too. The Banyan tree is considered timeless, for, its aerial shoots spread wide and develop roots that support the spreading branches, enabling the tree to spread far and wide.

This is how the Banyan tree, over time, spreads wide over many acres.

Due to this felicity to propagate far and wide, across time, across generations of trees, the Banyan tree has connotations with life, longevity, fertility and timelessness. In many parts of India, the placenta of a newborn child is buried at the foot of a Banyan praying for its longevity.

With the legend of Savitri-Satyavan, the Banyan came to be connected with timeless bonding between a couple.

In common parlance, fertility which gives rise to a new life, is synonymous with the biological functions in the female gender, a woman. It points to the progeny arising from the union of a man and woman alone.

Fertility concept however, extends beyond, to encompass everything that creates and sustains life such as

  • the land resource which acts as the womb from which grows our food

  • the water resource which helps germinate anything on the land,

  • the seeds that germinate life every season and

  • the cows and other organisms that nourish the soil – in short fertilize the soil.

It is this encompassing nature in Nature that is also to be venerated as fertility – fertility in Mother Nature. The Banyan tree, as the Tree of Life reminds us of this aspect in Nature.

Significance of Vata Purnima

The Vata Purnima fast, not only signifies an everlasting, timeless, strong bonding between a husband and wife, but the association of this fast with the Vata Vriksha ascribes a deeper significance to it.

A message that, the timeless association between the husband and wife, is for the creation of progeny who will take the roots of the family, civilization and mankind far into future.

A message that, fertility that gives rise to life is not limited to that which springs from the womb of a woman alone but encompasses everything in Mother Nature too, which sustain life on earth.

Vata Purnima is the occasion to pray that the thread that binds man and woman as well as the fertility chain, stays timeless, sustained year after year, generation after generation, century after century, millennia after millennia.

Happy Birthday to Guruji Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Guru is one who attracts. Guru is one who is heavy, filled with knowledge. The attraction is for knowledge, culture, ethos, practices and so forth.

Gurutva Akarshana is attraction to a heavy body-Gravity. Jupiter, the largest, heaviest planet attracts all other bodies, is also referred Guru.

A true Guru is rare. A true Guru comes by, once in a way.

It is for us to realize, come within the sphere of a true Guru, not just be attracted, but relish in the love and knowledge emanating.

For all that we do in our life, the aim is to relish, realize the self, be happy and be grounded.

May 13, birthday of  one such Guru, whose grace draws us to the path of love and self realization.

Fortunate indeed we are.

Happy Birthday to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar!

Akshaya Trithiya

During this month of May we will be celebrating the festival of Akshaya Trithiya or Akha Teej, a highly auspicious day which falls on the third day after Amavasya (no moon) in the Hindu calendar month of Vaishakha.

This traditional festival seems insignificant in comparison to some of the more glamorous festivals of the land.

For whatever reason this festival came into being, today Akshaya Trithiya day is being marketed as a day for buying gold, even better platinum now.   Advertisements are being splashed all over urging one and all to buy gold.

                        gold with black bg                Platinum%20Jewelry%20Collage

Gold and Platinum

Is this festival Akshaya Trithiya, a festival for buying gold or better platinum? We have also heard our parents telling us to start things on this day because anything started on this day is expected to grow.

So, what is this Akshaya Trithiya all about?

Let us examine the word Akshaya first.

We would have heard of the phrase Akshaya Pathra, for the vessel that provided unending supply of food, during the Mahabaratha period. Draupadi has this vessel with her to feed her husbands the Pandavas, while they were in exile. It was given to her on this day by Lord Krishna.

Kshaya is something that diminishes. Akshaya is one that never diminishes.

Droupathi

Draupadi with Akshaya Pathra

So the word Akshaya denotes endless limitless provision of food, prosperity and wealth, wealth that never diminishes.

Why is this festival celebrated as that of limitless prosperity, Akshaya?

What is the event which gave this land this limitless prosperity, that is being commemorated as this festival?

There are quite a few reasons why this festival is celebrated, some of them being:

  • The day the Treta Yuga started.

  • Birthday of Parasurama the 6th avatara fo Vishnu.

  • The sun and moon are seen at their brightest best from the west coast of India.

  • The day Krishna gave the Akshaya Pathra to the Pandavas and Draupadi.

  • The day Sudama, the poor childhood friend of Krishna met Krishna with just a handful of puffed rice and received a lot of wealth in exchange without asking.

  • The day Krishna Dwaipayana, whom we reverentially call as Veda Vyasa, started dictating his family biography called Jaya, which is now known to us popularly as the Mahabharata.

Veda Vyasa

Vyasa dictating Mahabharata

While all these are reasons enough to celebrate a festival, it still does not provide us any answers as to what is the limitless prosperity, that we are celebrating on this day.

In the Purana, the legends of ancient India, we have the story of Bhagiratha, an ancient king of this land belonging to the Surya Vamsa, Solar Dynasty. He was the illustrious forefather to Rama and Dasaratha, illustrious because he diverted the waters of the Ganga by his extraordinary effort, to the present day Gangetic plains.

ganga

Bhagiratha Prayathna

This effort of Bhagiratha is celebrated in the legends as Bhagiratha Prayathna, the extraordinary or superhuman effort of Bhagiratha in bringing the waters to his parched kingdom.

Once the river Ganga was brought this side of the Himalaya and started flowing through the land, the waters gave prosperity to the land through the ages. So Ganga, with its waters has been giving unending prosperity to a civilisation for generations and generations to come.

Akshaya Trithiya is the day Bhagiratha cut through the rocks in the upper Himalaya and brought the waters of the Ganga, this side to give unending prosperity to his land, kingdom and people.

It is this event of bringing prosperity with the waters, that has been commemorated with the Akshaya Trithiya day.

Unfortunately today our thought has diverted from waters to gold and platinum.

Gold and platinum are only a result of prosperity and not the cause of prosperity itself.

Unending water supply is the cause of prosperity.

This is a key thought this civilisation seems to have forgotten in its hurtling haste.

Festivals like this are celebrated by us every year to recollect the yeomen efforts of our forefathers, to make our lives better in this world.

Ganga, the object of Akshaya Trithiya, today is being polluted by us continuously and is also on the verge of vanishing due to climatic changes, being hastened by our lack of concern and action.

Now, apart from appreciating their effort in providing for us a better life, the true way to honour them for their effort and surely a better way of celebrating, would be to safeguard our water sources – Ganga and all other sources, big and small, for ourselves and the future generations to come.

This would be a harbinger of everlasting prosperity.

A true way to celebrate Akshaya Trithiya, apart from just buying gold and platinum!

Brand Bharat

 Shasun-School-Banner

Bharatha – A land of people who relish knowledge

India had a pride of place in the ancient and medieval world. This land was called Bharatha, Bha meaning light and Ratha meaning ‘to relish’. Bharatha was the land of people who relished knowledge.

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Indian Prosperity

The Indian literature, right from the Veda, to the Tamil Sangam literature, speak of India as a land of prosperity. These bodies of literature describe a civilization that was prosperous. They present a picture of a society that was rich in material, cultural and spiritual wealth. The economy of the land was thriving. There was wide spread trade. Arts and culture were patronized and well established.     The testimony to this prosperity is given by Marco Polo, a Venetian visitor to India in 1290 CE. He describes India in his writings as “the most prosperous of all, in the world he had seen.”

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Marco Polo

What gave India such a Brand Image of the most prosperous land, a sone ki chidiya?

Some are brands of goods that went from India, world over.   Some are brands of thoughts and practices, with roots in India.   Some are brands created by the image of India, for the world.   These brands of yore created openings, not just in the field of trade but also in the very spread of thought and thought process. This is something that India can be rightfully proud of.   For, it is thought process that shapes the evolution of thought, sciences, practices and lifestyle, which in turn, have a bearing on the pace of evolution of mankind.   If there are a few civilizations or nations that can proudly say that it has offered something to the evolution of the thought process of humanity, then the Indian civilization does earn a pride of place, perhaps right on top.

Roots In India

The major aspects that make a prosperous civilization such as Education, Maths, Sciences, Languages, Music and Lifestyle, had their roots in India. They went on to create the Brand Bharat in the eyes of the world.

Signs of Brand Bharat

Some of the other signs of Bharat which became a brand, include

  1. Plentiful and Varieties of Food
  2. Abundance of Water and Water Harnessing
  3. Ganga
  4. Knowledge
  5. Kama Sutra
  6. Yoga
  7. Sports – Chess, Polo, Snooker, Badminton,

to list just a few.

Trading Giant

India was a leader in trade, having 25 % to 30 % share in World Trade in Ancient and Medieval times all the way upto 1800s.

6 India's trade

Made in India – The Big Five

India had many produces to its credit that made it an economic powerhouse. The 5 main products that were manufactured in India were Iron and Steel, Zinc, Cotton, Indigo, Sugar and Spice.

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The Five Ts – The Principles

They were able to sustain the brands, through many centuries and millennia, with the diligent practice of the 5Ts.

T Principles
Tradition Understanding and Following Tradition
Talent Skilled along with Quest and Innovation
Technology Producing but Sustaining Nature
Trade Trading, but not for Greed
Truth Living with Truth – The Cosmic Principle, Dharma

Lost to Plunder

Unfortunately, India lost its prosperity to wave after wave of plunder, first from near west and later from the far west in the name of colonisation, which destroyed Brand Bharat. But all is not lost. India may have lost a lot of wealth she had generated. But she has not lost the grace of Nature that can help her build similar wealth in no time, the way the earlier generations had done. All India needs, is to understand her strengths and deploy them suitably. More on Prosperity, Plunder and Rejuvenation of India, in our book ‘You Turn India’.

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Bharath Gyan

Bharath Gyan is an endeavour to bridge the old and the new worlds through knowledge from the past, for the present and future. Founded by the couple, D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari and disseminated by The Art of Living of H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bharath Gyan is 15 years of compilation of the knowledge and ethos of India from an interdisciplinary and wholistic perspective. “Brand Bharat”, as conceptualized by the Hari couple, paints the true picture of India and the pride of place India held among the comity of civilizations. It delves into the brands that had kept it so, for millennium after millennium. Brand Bharat leaves us with a new image of India, a new outlook on prosperity and a new sense of pride at being an Indian. More, in our work, ‘Brand Bharat’ from the ‘Autobiography of India’ series.

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Smart Cities

Smart cities

The concept of Smart Cities is not alien to this land. Smart Cities are part of the ethos of this land. The ancient Indian university towns like Takshashila and Nalanda were Smart Cities of those times.

India is embarking on an ambitious plan of building 100 Smart Cities in the coming decade.

Concepts from tradition to build Smart Cities

Our Tradition could provide lessons to incorporate sustainable time tested ideas in these upcoming Smart Cities.

What makes a Smart City?

Smart City is not just about commercial spaces, residential areas, public transports, basic amenities, hospitals, schools, colleges, shopping malls, car parkings, and manicured gardens; it is lot more….

A Smart City should have a knowledge commune, water harnessing, hinterland development and has to be ecologically sustainable and environment friendly. It has to be an alignment of all this. In other words, it has to be a skilled centre.

The present government policy being a mix of tradition with modernity, these would bring in the right balance.

Indian Architecture

The science of Indian architecture is based on the idea of living in harmony with all energies.

Bound in Boundless, Space in Space

Space is boundless. We have created bounds on the boundless.

Vishvakarma

It is the role of the Architect to create spaces in space for our dwellings.The people who built cities, dwellings and habitats were called Vishvakarma. Vishva means ‘World’ and Karma means ‘Action’. Vishvakarma were those who built the world for us to live in.

More on Indian Architecture in our work ‘Ethos of Indian Architecture’.

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The Vishvakarma built these cities to cater to the harmonious way of living, based on the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, meaning, ‘One World Family’.

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Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam

Deva means glowing and Vasu means earth, a dwelling place, where you live in a glowing divine way and where there is a purpose to life. Kutumbhakam means Family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam is living together as family in bond, bandhan.

Chaturvedi Mangalam

Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes were the Smart Cities of yore, where there was harmony with knowledgeable living.

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Smart Cities of Yore, harmony with knowledgeable living

 Chatur means four and Vedi is knowledge, Vidya. It need not be necessarily looked at as four Veda, but Vidya as a whole.

It is about knowledge, vidya, coming from all four directions.  Mangalam means auspicious.

Ano bhadra katavo yanto vishwatah –Rig Veda

Let noble thoughts come from all directions

Noble thoughts from all directions

Chaturvedi Mangalam were truly the centres of auspiciousness. They were early models of knowledgeable Smart Cities, built on the wholistic ethos of Indian Architecture, based on the principles of Swasthi Rasthu, Healthy, Pushti Rasthu, Prosperous and Tushti Rasthu, Happiness.

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 4 pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam

  1. Society
  2. Produce – Industry and Agriculture
  3. Knowledge and Administration
  4. Environment Ecology

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4 Pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam

These 4 should formed the pillars for Chaturvedi Mangalam. The same 4 are valid today for the Smart Cities.

Water

One of the key features of these ancient Smart Cities was that 1/6th of the landspread was covered by water. This facilitated water harnessing.

India is a tropical country and temperatures are high 6 months of year. This 1/6th coverage of the land with water gave the land enough humidity throughout the year. This humidity kept down the temperature of the landscape and made the land salubrious for the people to live in.

This water body also provided the right inputs for greenery and horticulture in these Smart Cities.

Hinterland development

Hinterland Development was another aspect of the ancient Smart Cities, for it is the hinterland that provides basic necessities for Smart Cities like water, vegetables, support services and other consumables.

Components of Smart City, A Model

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Chaturvedi Kingdoms

In days of yore, few of the noble kings recognized the need for Smart Cities in their kingdoms, for their times and established Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes. These Knowledge Communes, Smart City were where people of knowledge lived and gave guidance for sustainable living. This knowledge was not just in Veda Samhita, but was applied in a range of subjects like architecture, agriculture, water management, languages, culture, paintings, fine arts, handicrafts, in technical expertise, sciences, mathematics and astronomy, among a whole range of other subjects like this.

In Europe and America

In the later renaissance period in Europe and in 20th century America, one of the defining features was the establishing of University Towns which were the modern Knowledge Communes. These knowledge communes gave ideas, inputs and directions for the growth of the modern world.

Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities made India prosperous

Just as Europe and America realized the need of knowledge communes to spur think and growth, the kings and people of yore in India had established Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities across centuries, over millennia, across the length and breath of the country.

When India was prosperous from ancient to medieval ages, it was these Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes which gave directions, ideas and vision for the land, kept the land prosperous, sustainable with its culture, practices and traditions, even when kings and kingdoms were in decline.

100 smart cities being planned

As India is now planning 100 Smart Cities, it will be prudent to have Chaturvedi Mangalam / Knowledge Commune enclaves as an integral part of the Smart Cities, which would not only give the balance, but really give them the edge of being Smart Cities.

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True Yoga

This is through yoga. The root word for Yoga, is Yug, Yuga, meaning to align, Yoke, join. Thus Yoga is not just asanas but it is a factor of aligning and joining all aspects together in harmony, on the lines of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam.

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 An analogy of Cattle Yoke used to join two bulls

This is being smart. This is the true embodiment of Smart City. This is wholesome yoga that will bring Harmony and Happiness.

Happiness is not just about Quality and Quantity, but the overall ambience which humans create in coordination with Nature.

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Holi

Holi is the festival that evokes colour and gaiety. The word “Holi” can be traced back to Holika, the sister of King Hiranyakashyapu and the aunt of Prahalada.

When Holika tried to burn Prahalada by sitting him on her lap, she got burnt instead and Prahalada escaped unscathed.

All this goes in the hazy past of the legends of the land. This holy festival celebrated by Krishna with the Gopi in Vrindavan, Mathura and later in Dwaraka is part of the folklore, paintings and poetry.

Holi is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Phalguna. It is also called as Phalguni festival. This process to vernal equinox when the sun travels in north crosses the equator.

Akbar celebrates Holi

Akbar celebrating Holi with his courtiers and commons is a part of the folklore and paintings of this land.

Akbar’s chronicler, Abul Fazl Ibn Mubarak who wrote the book AIn- i – Akbari who was one of the 9 gems in the court of Akbar vividly writes about Akbar collecting the holy play nozzle spout, pichkari.

He writes, “Shehansha bustche Shudam Aviyar minhal mustamber Qabl e jashn e fam”, meaning the emperor started collecting pichkari, the Holi nozzle in different designs, well before the start of Holi.

Shahjahan also plays Holi

Akbar’s son Shahjahan was also big time into playing Holi with his courtiers and the commoners.

The French traveler, Franko Bernier who visited the court of Shahjahan speaks about this.

Franko Bernier was quite taken in by the colours of Holi, and how the royalty and commoner mixed on this day in playing Holi.

Holika Dahan

One of the high points of the holy festivities was the Holi ka dahan, also referred to as ‘Dhulandi’, where a bon fire was raised in which everyone participated, while the bon fire idea, dahan may have started with Holika being burnt in it. Later through the ages, the Dahan came to symbolize the collective burning of ill will on this occasion of Holi.

Different types of Holi celebration

In Central India, in places like southern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Holi takes on one more flavor in which we have lattmar, where the women symbolically beat the men with lathi, sticks and men shield themselves.

Sir Aldus Huxley, the British philosopher, while describing the various festivals of India, describes Holi as the ‘subcontinent festival of festivals’.

Phag mahotsav

Phag mahotsav is celebrated more in Rajasthan area.

Holla Mohalla

It is an occasion where the Sikhs exhibit their skills in battle dramas. The word Mohalla in Punjab means procession of Army column accompanied by drums, people carrying the army flags, basically an army march to drum beats and festoons.

Celebrate Holi in true organic manner

In the last few decades, the colours used in the Holi festivities have a lot of chemicals in it, bringing about injury to skin, persons and animals. It will always be safe to play Holi with organic colours of chandan, haldi, to enjoy Holi in its true organic manner.

Every region has had its mini form of Holi celebrations, but unfortunately in the last few decades, it has degenerated to loud blaring of film songs.