Chitra Purnima

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

Dedicated to Chitra Gupta

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

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        Chitra Gupta

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

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

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

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

Wedding of Sundareshwara and Meenakshi

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

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The celestial Wedding of Devi Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwara

Sundara– Divine Beatitude

Sundara means beauty, Eshwara refers to the Lord.

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

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

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

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Meenakshi – Beautiful eyes

Meen, means a fish and akshi, eyes.

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

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

Kayal Vizhi

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

Inner Significance of open eyes

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

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

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

Indra Legend

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

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

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

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

Azhagar Attril Erunghirar, the festival after Chitra Paurnami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Azhaghar Attril Erunghirar

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

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

Hanuman Jayanthi

Hanuman Jayanti

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

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Hanuman flying with the Sanjeevani Parvat

Hanuman, Meaning

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

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Hanuman

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

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

Chiranjeevi

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

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Hanuman, the Chiranjeevi

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

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Bhima

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Arjuna’s chariot with Vanara Dwaja

Different dates of birth

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

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

Different birth Places

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

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Anjanadri hill, Tirumala

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

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Hanuman statue at Hanuman’s birth place in Anjanari

Similar figure in Mexico

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

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

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

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       Mexican Image   

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 Indian Image

Observe the Jaw Protrusion in both

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

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Hanuman Flying towards Sun

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

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Was Hanuman a monkey?

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

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

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

So human like, yet different!

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

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

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

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Geography of Vanara region

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                                                                 Rama Bantlu                                                                            

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 Banjara

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

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

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Statues of mighty Sri Hanuman in Bali, Indonesia

Rama’s Age at Exile

What was the age of Rama at the time of being sent on the 14 year exile into the forest, Vanavasa?

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We have already mentioned in our work that the age of Rama was 25 when He went on Vanavasa, exile. Then why this question here?

There is ambiguity in the minds of a few, about Rama’s age at the time of exile.

Some scholars have opined that He was around 17 years of age.  In order to amply clarify that His age was indeed 25, we address the reasoning for the ambiguity.

The notion of 17 years for Rama comes from a verse in the Aranya Kanda uttered by Kausalya after she hears the news of Rama’s exile.

Kausalya’s Lament

Kausalya laments to Rama how she has never seen happiness as she has always been overlooked by King Dasaratha, in favour of Queen Kaikeyi. She cries how she was waiting for the day when Rama would become King so that her troubles would be over and she could walk with her head held high.

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The meaning of this verse is,
dasha saptacha varshani – seventeen years
tava jatasya                        – after your birth
raghava                               – Raghava, another name for Rama
asitani                                 – sitting down, waiting, lying low
prakankshantya               – with the hope of
Maya                                   – by me
dukha                                 – Troubles
parikshayam                    – Disappear

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Significance of “Birth”

Here, a few have taken the word jatasya’s literal meaning, namely “birth” and thereby have gone on to assert that Rama was 17 years of age when He was asked to go on exile into the forest.

Most scholars however have explained that this term Jatasya, should be taken to mean the event of thread ceremony, Yagnopavitham, Upanayanam and not physical birth. For, the yagnopavitham ceremony itself is clearly related with second birth, knowledge birth, of a person. This is also popularly referred to as becoming a Dvija meaning twice born.

Those who undergo the thread ceremony, Upanayana, are considered to have been twice born, Dvija.  This ceremony was not restricted to Brahmins alone as is popularly believed. Typically it is performed when a child is between 7 and 8 years of age.

It is but natural that Kausalya as a mother would have eagerly waited from the day of Rama’s Upanayana, His second birth, for Him to acquire necessary skills and ascend the throne.

From this perspective, we can see that Rama was 25 years old on the eve of the coronation from 8 years at the time of Upanayana + 17 years of Kausalya’s wait.

One of the prominent scholars to have voiced this explanation is the distinguished scholar, Vidwan N.Ranganatha Sharma from Karnataka , who has translated the Valmiki Ramayana into Kannada, published as 8 volumes.

Vidwan N.Ranganatha Sharma himself quotes yet another predecessor and prominent scholar, Vidwan Narayanadhwari and his work Sri Ramotsva Ratnakara as reference.

All this goes to show that this is not a recent explanation of convenience but a well accepted interpretation of Kausalya’s lament, over years.

Tighter Corroboration

A tighter corroboration comes from a verse in the Aranya Kanda.

Mareecha’s Account

While on exile in the Dandaka forest, Surpanaka’s proposal of love is spurned by Rama and Lakshmana. The insulted Surpanaka beseeches her brother Ravana to seek revenge since the brothers Khar and Dushan, who had responded to her request, had been vanquished by Rama.

Ravana approaches Mareecha, from his clan and asks him for help in avenging Surpanaka’s insult. Mareecha then recounts to Ravana how he had suffered defeat at the hands of Rama even when Rama was a boy.

Mareecha narrates how when he was terrorizing and disturbing the Yagna of Rishi Vishwamitra, the Rishi had approached King Dasaratha for help. Rishi Vishwamitra had asked King Dasaratha to send Rama with him to the forest to safeguard the Rishi.

Mareecha describes how King Dasaratha offered the help of his army instead of agreeing to send Rama. Mareecha quotes Dasaratha in this verse.

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Meaning
balo dvadasha varsho      – boy who is twelve years of age
ayam                                    – this, boy in this case
a krita astrah cha              – not proficient with weapons too
Raghavaha                         – Rama
Kamam tu                          – if desired, if need be
mama yat sainyam          – whatever army is there of mine
maya saha gamishyati    – will come along with me

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Here, King Dasaratha himself is saying that Rama was 12 years old when Vishwamitra seeks to take Him to the forest.

King Dasaratha finally concedes and sends Rama to the forest with Rishi Vishwamitra. After vanquishing the Rakshasa who were disturbing the Rishi, Rama was then taken by Rishi Vishwamitra to Mithila, King Janaka’s kingdom, where Sita’s Swayamvara contest was being held.

Rama wins Sita’s hand in marriage at this Swayamvara contest.

Thus when Rama married Sita, He was 12 years old.

A Variance?

Some cite the Bala Kanda verse which is a dialogue between Dasaratha and Rishi Vishwamitra, to say that Rama was not 12 but 16 years old when He went with Rishi Vishwamitra.

When Vishwamitra seeks to take Rama with him to the forest to safeguard the Rishi from the Rakshasa, Dasaratha says,

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The phrase “una shodasa varshah” means under 16 years of age.

 This has led to the assumption that Rama was just about 16 during this incident.

However, given the quote in Aranya Kanda of Mareecha where he explicitly says that Rama was only 12 years old, this statement of “under 16” does not seem in anyway to violate Mareecha’s statement.

One may question then why did Dasaratha use the phrase “under 16 years of age”.

Here we have to look into the context of the conversation. It is about going to war with the Rakshasa. It was a norm that until one was 16 one was not considered proficient and physically fit to go into war.

This would have caused Dasaratha to cite 16 years, saying that Rama’s age then of ‘under 16’ defied the norm. It is much like how we group children as under 16 in sports or other contests.

One can therefore with fair amount of certainty state that Rama’s age was 12 when He went with Rishi Viswamitra into the forest and when He married Sita.

Further reason to accord 12 years to Rama at the time of going to the forest with Valmiki and 25 years at the time of going on exile with Sita, comes in the form of Sita’s statement much later.

Sita’s Confirmation of Rama’s Age

Sita too confirms this age of Rama and herself when Ravana in the guise of a hermit comes to her dwelling in the Dandaka forest to abduct her.

In response to Ravana’s query as to who she was, Sita narrates as to how she was the daughter of Janaka, how she was married to Rama, how she lived in Ayodhya for 12 years after marriage, how in the 13th year of her marriage, her husband Rama was sent on exile just as He was to be coronated.

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Meaning
mama bharta mahateja           – my husband, the great resplendent
vayasa pancha vimshakah     – of age five and twenty i.e.twenty-five years
ashta dasha hi varshani          – eight and ten, i.e. eighteen, years only
mama janmani                         – from my birth
ganyate                                      – it added up to

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Valmiki Ramayana, Sloka 3-47-10b, 11a

Sita here, clearly says that Rama was 25 years old and she was just 18 when they left on exile into the forest. Along with her statement that she and Rama had lived in the Ayodhya palace for 12 years after their marriage, it also leads to the conclusion that Sita was around 6 years old when she married Rama.

Conclusion

These verses from the Ramayana appearing at different instances and different contexts but corroborating each other clearly place the age of Rama at the time of exile into the forest as 25 years. The dates arrived at using Archaeo-Astronomy are in compliance with this elapse time too.

 

 

World Health Day

How often we have heard “Health is Wealth”! Traditionally, it has been good health which has been looked up to as being the real wealth in this land. Dhan, wealth is of two types. One Dhan is the material wealth – land, natural resources, gold, silver, luxuries, and such others. These are all ever flowing wealth as they do not stick to one place. They are constantly in circulation, with us today, gone tomorrow. The other wealth is the wealth of health. The knowledge of good health is Ayurveda.

WHO

The World Health Organization defines health in these words.

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Ayurveda

Ayurveda defines health in similar terms. The relevant sloka being,

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Ayurveda also defines a Disease.

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As per Ayurveda, health is natural and diseases are unnatural. Thus, it is important for us to have and maintain this natural wealth.

Dhanvantri

This wealth of health is denoted in this land, by Dhanvantri, the divine physician. Among the Indian pantheon of divinities, Dhanvantri is the divinity for health. In his very name itself, the first part of the name is Dhan. From this it is amply clear that the seers of ancient India believed that good health while one is living, is the most important wealth and the primary divinity for health aptly termed as Dhanvantri.

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 Dhanvantri stepping out of water

If you closely observe the image of Dhanvantri, you will see that Dhanvantri is coming out of water. Similarly good health in our body is dependent on the waters in our body as 70% of our body is after all, made up of water.

In one palm Dhanvantri holds a leach, Jalloka. The leach removes bad blood from our system so that fresh blood can rejuvenate our system. In the right hand is the Amrit kalasa, pot of nectar. Nectar is the elixir of life. It is that which gives us freshness and adds longevity to our life.

With this background, let us see how the propagation of this science of health came about in this land.

Shiva

The texts of Ayurveda trace their origin, knowledge to Shiva. The word “Shiva” here while it does mean the divinity of Shiva, it means so in the context of Shiva  meaning, “life”.

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Shiva

Life is auspicious, mangalam. Opposite of Shiva is Shava meaning “motionless, lifeless”. From this word “Shava” we get Shavasana, an asana where one lies down motionless.

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Shavasana

So, Shiva is a life giving potential. The knowledge of life which Ayurveda is, emanates from understanding this potential, i.e. Shiva, Shiva tattva. More on the understanding of Shiva is discussed in our book “Understanding Shiva”, which is a part of the Bharath Gyan series.

Brahma

This knowledge of life then was transmitted onto Brahma. The word “Brahma” starts with Brh, which means “to grow big, huge”. Life in this world, this universe has grown beyond one’s grasp since this creation. Life is an ever growing feature. The knowledge about life and how it manifests itself, is also an ever growing feature. It is this ever growing nature of life and its knowledge which is symbolically represented as Brahma.

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Brahma

Indra

This knowledge then gets transmitted to Indra. The word Indra means “senses, the sensory knowledge”.

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Indra

The knowledge that comes to us from our sensory perceptions of life and its well being is Ayurveda. Hence it is regarded as being transmitted through Indra.

Ashwini twins

From thereon, it is passed to the Ashwini twins who are the divinities for health.

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Ashwini twins

The definition for Ashwini twins in Ayurveda text is,

Hitha Ahara Mitha Ayasa

Mitha Ahara Hitha Ayasa

It translates as,

Affordable food, appropriate exercise

Affordable exercise, appropriate food

This is the twinning key to good health.

Bharadwaja

From the Ashwini twins, this knowledge of Ayurveda was passed on to Maharishi Bharadwaja. The word “Bharadwaja” itself has an interesting connotation in this context here.

The word Bharadwaja can be seen as comprising of two parts – Bharan, “to fill” and Dwaja, “two sides”.

Bharadwaja thus stands for the step when the knowledge of Ayurveda crosses over from the sublime principles of the understanding of health, to the care of the physical body. Bharadwaja is the one who bridges the two sides – the sublime knowledge and the physical body.

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Maharishi Bharadwaja

From Bharadwaja, the various branches of Ayurveda were farmed out to various Rishi such as

  • Athreya – for medicine, whose student was Charaka
  • Dhanvantri – for surgery, whose student was Sushruta
  • Palakapya – for Hastayurveda, medicine for elephants, Hasta
  • Gotama – for Gavayurveda, medicine for cows, Go
  • Salihotra – for Ashvayurveda, medicine for horses, Ashva

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From all this, we understand that Ayurveda is not just medicine for cure, but is wholistic understanding of health, both physical and mental. Maintaining the equilibrium of these along with waters in the body and waters in Nature is the primary facet of good health.

The Breaking / Reversal of illness in Ayurveda

When there is ill health be it in the body or in the mind, we need to break the cycle of ill health and reverse it to good health, through medicine or other yogic practices like meditation.

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Here we see that Ayurveda focuses on all aspects of health.

Mental Health, Stress and Yoga

Stress levels have been increasing all over the world. In recent times, there is a new attention to mental health where well being is not limited to the body of the affected person, and that we must also heal the mind, is gaining credence.

In the above chart, , we see Satvavajya as a focus in taking care of mental health with a satvic process to nurse it.

Meditation and Yoga facilitates good mental health, by reducing stress, anxiety and depression, by balancing the various faculties of the mind.

Yoga 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.

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Meditation balances the mind

World Health Day

The World Health Day has been observed for many years now. A decision to have a day on health was made at the World Health organization’s First World Health Day Assembly, which chose April 7th every year to focus on health.

Health is a crucial factor in our daily performance, and directly linked to our overall welfare and the welfare of the society.

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Divine Marriage Day – Panguni Uthiram

Divine marriages are celebrated on Panguni Uthiram – Meena Uttara-phalguni.

Shiva – Parvati, Rama – Sita, Murugan – Deivanai.

Panguni Uthiram also known as Meena Uttara-phalguni in Samskrt. It falls on the day the moon transits in the asterism, nakshatra of Uttara-phalguni, Uthiram in the solar calendar (March–April). It is the full moon of the month of Panguni. Panguni is special because of the coming together of the star Uthiram and full moon Pournami.

Let us see as to how this day of Divine marriages is celebrated in North India, Central India and South India, across the land, across times.

Rama – Sita Marriage

The marriage of Rama and Sita was celebrated on Meena Uttara-phalguni at Janakpur, South Nepal.

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              Rama – Sita Marriage

Vijayanagar Kingdom

An epigraph of 1582 CE of the reign of the Vijayanagara King Sriranga Raya mentions an endowment for offerings to be made during this festival of Panguni Uthiram which is specially called Serakula-Nachiyar Panguni Uthiram Sathumurai. The images of Serakula Nachiyar and Senai Mudaliyar (Vishvaksena) are taken in procession to a garden named Dalavaya Toppu where offerings were made.

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Kanchipuram Vishnu

In Varadaraja Swami Temple in Kanchipuram, the Panguni Pallava Utsavam lasts for seven days when the sacred text Hastigiri Mahatmyam (the sthala-Purana of this temple) is read in the 100 pillared mandapa in front of the deity.

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 Varadharaja Perumal with Thaayaar

Shiva – Kamakshi Marriage

Shakti Uma Devi performed puja for the Lord in the form of Devi Kamakshi. At the end, the wedding of Siva and Shakti took place here as prayed for by the celestials. An inscription on a gopuram of the Kamakshi Amman temple in Kanchipuram mentions a gift of two villages for Puja on the occasion of the Panguni Utsavam.

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 Shiva – Parvati

Murugan – Deivanai

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           Murugan – Deivanai

The word Murugan means ‘God of War’. The word also means ‘One who is very attractive to look’. Skanda, Subrahmanya and Karthikeya are among the other names of Murugan.

Deivanai is known as Devasena, Devayanai or Deivayanai in south-Indian texts. The Sanskrit name of the goddess Devasena means “army of the Divine” and thus, her husband is known as Devasenapati (“Lord of Devasena”). She is the adopted daughter of Indra and his wife Shachi. And she was raised by Indra’s white elephant Airavata. Deivanai or Deivayanai in Tamil, literally meaning “celestial elephant”.

Their marriage is celebrated on Panguni Uthiram day.

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                       Deivanai-Indra-Murugan

In Sangam Literature

In the Ahananuru, a Tamil work of the Sangam period, there is a mention about a festival in Panguni which is equated to Uthira Vizha.

We see here from Rama and Sita, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Shiva and Kamakshi, Muruga and Deivanai all this marriages are celebrated on this Divine Marriage Day.

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Watch the Facebook live video on Panguni Uthiram here :

Vali Vadham

“Vali Vadham”, the slaying of Vali, occurred on 3rd April, 5076 BCE.

After Rama loses Sita, He wanders in the forest along with Lakshmana, searching for Sita. During the course of that wandering, He reaches Rishyamukha mountains in central India where He befriends Sugreeva and his lieutenant Hanuman, who have with them the ornaments that were dropped by Sita, when She was being abducted by Ravana.

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Dying Vali, paying his respects to Rama

Hearing the story of Rama and His lost wife, Sita, Sugreeva offers to help Rama, in searching and bringing back Sita, provided Rama first helps Sugreeva in getting back at Vali, his elder brother, who had unjustly exiled him and also detained Sugreeva’s wife, against her wishes.

Sugreeva seeks help from Rama as Vali was mightier than Sugreeva. Rama enters into a pact with Sugreeva wherein Sugreeva calls Vali for a fight and Rama, hiding in the bushes, shoots an arrow and strikes Vali down.

In describing the death of Vali, a simile is given, in which we can infer that there was a solar eclipse at that time.

“Hearing the roar of Sugreeva, Vali’s face became red like the sun caught by Rahu during the eclipse.” Ramayana 4.15.3

Plotting the data in the planetarium software and looking for a solar eclipse in the morning hours in Central India, we do indeed see that an eclipse did occur in Kishkinda on 3rd April, 5076 BCE.

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Sky chart when Vali was slayed – 3rd April 5076 BCE

“Vali Vadham”, the slaying of Vali, thus occurred on 3rd April, 5076 BCE, during the Solar Eclipse, on Amavasya, New Moon day of the month of Ashada, during the morning hours.

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

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – Punya Tithi

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Chatrapathi Shivaji
We celebrate Shivaji Jayanthi on February 19th. A day observed by the state Government of Maharashtra to mark the birthday of a boy born about 400 years ago. A boy, who would grow up to establish the Maratha Empire and become its ruler as Chatrapathi Shivaji.

Birth Place of Shivaji Maharaj and his cradle

Born Shivaji Raje Bhosle, Shivaji made significant contributions not only to the Maratha Empire, but also to the destiny of the rest of India.

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Two storeyed wooden temple of Lord Vinayaka, called Kasba Ganapati temple, built by Shivaji’s mother Jijabai in November 1630, when Shivaji Maharaj was only 8 months old. This deity is today the Gram Devata of Pune

Named After Shivaidevi

Named Shivaji after the deity Shivaidevi, a form of Goddess Durga, an embodiment of courage, strength and fearlessness, Shivaji, true to his name, fearlessly strode the path that would eventually liberate the land from the oppressive rule of the Mughals and their vassals in different parts of India.

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Sculpture of Shivaji Maharaj from his life time

The legends of Shivaji, his conquests, the Guerilla warfare that he popularized, the ploys he adopted to outwit the Mughals, are all well known and well documented.

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An old painting, dated c.1668 CE, of Shivaji Maharaj with soldiers setting out for war

Shivaji, the humanist

Apart from his conquests, Shivaji is known for his respect for every human being, He honoured every women even if they belonged to the enemy ranks.

Jadunath Sarkar in his book ‘Shivaji and His Times’ speaks of an incident that shows the high upbringing of Shivaji. He writes,

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Built a robust administration

We all know Shivaji as a great warrior, but how many know he built up a very robust administration too. And this when he had no formal education and spent most of his life in battle. Some of his achievements

1) Ashta Pradhan a council of 8 ministers who advised him on all matters

2) Recognized the importance of a navy to protect Konkan coast and built one.

3) Built sea forts at Sindhudurg, Jaigad to protect from pirates.

4) Did away with Jagirs and paid army in cash, this eliminated corruption.

5) Built up a very professional army.

6) Disallowed dancing girls, to maintain discipline in army.

7) State looked after families of dead soldiers.

8) All enemy property seized during a campaign belonged to Treasury, none was allowed to use for personal purpose.

9) Robust revenue collection system.

10) Maintained a large network of forts and garrisons.

A Wrong perception

A popular statement made by many is that,

the British took over the political control of India from the Mughals”.

Little known to many is the ground reality, corroborated by British Maps themselves.

Ground reality

Defeating Mughals

After Shivaji and his forces had dealt a decisive blow to the Mughal forces, the Mughal empire, along with many of their vassals had disintegrated. In their place, the Maratha rule and the Maratha confederacy of Peshwa, local kings and heads of principalities, started ruling different parts of India.

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A Portrait of Shivaji Maharaj
Maratha confederacy

It was a confederacy because while there were many Peshwa ruling in their respective localities, they shared the ideals, principals, goals and the rule of law of the Marathas.

British Map Testifies

All this is borne out as a fact when we see the British map of 1780, during the times of Robert Clive, where it shows the Maratha Empire covering pretty much, most portions of present day India – Central, North and South India. It stretched from Tamil Nadu in South India to Peshawar in the north, in modern day Pakistan and upto Bengal in the east.


British Map of India, 1780 – Maratha Empire is the Region in Yellow
Naval forces keeps colonial powers at bay

The Naval force that the Marathas created under the able leadership of Kanhoji Angre, helped guard the Konkan coast for nearly a century and kept the colonial powers at bay. The colonial powers could only function as minor trading posts in the Konkan coast and become colonial powers in this region only after they managed to defeat the Naval forces of the Marathas.


Statue of Kanhoji Angre in Alibag, Maharashtra

A rare gold coin of Shivaji prob. issued on the occasion of his coronation.- Devnagari Legend on the coin reads Shri Raja Shiv Chatrapati.
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The Maratha Power

Shivaji had personally marched through much of Karnataka, central parts of Andhraand visited even Madras, which was a fledgling town then, primarily a British trading post operating out of Fort St.George.

Gifts from British

During this visit to Madras, the British sent him gifts, honorariums, which in the local language  is called “Kappam”, twice within a month, to his camping site near the Kalikambal temple, which formed the entry point to Madras then. They did this as a good will gesture requesting him not attack their trading post saying that they were only peaceful traders.


Fort St. George, Old Madras

Marathas at power when British arrived

This corroborates the point that it was indeed the Marathas, who were in power when the British arrived in India. If Shivaji had then gone ahead, attacked and decimated this fledgling trading post, then the history of India would have taken on a different turn.


The only live sketch of Shivaji Maharaj , discovered by historian V S Bendrey

The Maratha Effect

Anqetil DuPerron

Many years later, Anqetil DuPerron, a French orientalist and linguist, who had visited India and stayed here for 7 years between 1755 and 1761, quotes a traveller as,

“When I entered the country of the Maharattas, I thought myself in the midst of simplicity and happiness of the golden age … misery was unknown … the people were cheerful, vigorous and in high health.”


Anqetil DuPerron

This statement of DuPerron highlights to us that not only had Shivaji and his lineage of Marathas, conquered the lands they did, but were administering them in a sustainable manner with the welfare of the people in mind.

Barring a few parts of India, it was the Maratha Confederacy which was in power after the Mughals. It was a campaign, initiated and given a form by Chatrapathi Shivaji, that brought India together as a cohesive unit after the Mughals and before the British.

Shortlived Resurgence

Then how could the British have taken over India from such a powerful empire? While it was a period of resurgence in India, which applied a healing balm to many a wounds that had been inflicted by the various foreign invasions and their oppressive rule, sadly this period of resurgence was shortlived.

Mughals joing hands with Afgans

The defeated Mughals started joining hands with the Afghans and the Nawabs to counter the expansion of the Maratha empire and started pushing the Marathas back.

Infighting

Also, the individual rulers in the Maratha Confederacy, whose autonomy had grown over the years, soon started fighting amongst themselves due to jealousy and thirst for power.

It was by dethroning these individual, infighting rulers in the Maratha Confederacy in the 1800s, through bribe, deception, trade, threat, treachery and force, that the comparatively smaller in size, but devious British force, weakened the confederacy and gained monopoly over India – literally every inch of it.

Shivaji’s efforts in vain

All the unification brought about by Shivaji and his followers, had gone to vain. This is an excellent lesson on how,

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

The word “Maratha” today conjures up an image of present day Maharashtra alone, for the present generations. It invokes a picture of pleasant, simple, sincere and hardworking locals, popularly termed as “Marathi Manus” these days.

The contribution of Shivaji and the Marathas, towards the unification of India before the British and in the development of a spirit of fearlessness in the Indians, which helped them later to resist the British and eventually gain Independence, cannot be acknowledged enough. Anything said will only be an understatement!

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Shivaji Gaddi, Bhavani Mandap, Kolhapur