What is Shit?

Shit-A Serious Matter

What is Shit? How did this word come about? Are you amused by these questions? Then, probably you didn’t know the history of this word. The humour here is indeed a serious matter.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Shipping Manure

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commercial fertilizers had not yet come to be. Large shipments of manure were order of the day. In this period, ship was a major means of transport.

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Ship

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Manure

The disaster

Manure was always dried before shipping, for, in dry state, it weighed less than in wet.

Once, a disaster was encountered, when the sea water touched the manure bundles in a ship. The process of fermentation began again, the byproduct being the highly combustible Methane Gas.

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Manure Produces the Highly inflammable Methane

The manure bundles were stored below the decks. The unimaginable happened. Methane began to build underneath the docks. Very soon, a loud ‘Boom’ was heard.

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

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Methane gas led to fire

Many ships were destroyed in this manner, before it was actually understood, what was happening.

Shit and then Ship

After discovering the peril these manure ships faced, these bundles were always stamped with the instruction, ‘Stow High In Transit’ – S.H.I.T, meaning, ‘load the manure bundles high enough from lower decks while loading’, so that, sea waters do not reach the Methane generating Cargo.Thus evolved the term Shit, ‘Stow High In Transit’. This term has remained to this day.

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On a humorous note, “Cargo loaders had to ‘Shit’ manure for safety reasons.”

The word ‘Shit’ soon came to be used as a derogatory word for ‘irritation”, for the number of ships that it had blow up.

Demonetization

Landmark Move

The move by the Government to demonetize 500 Rs. and 1000 Rs. notes has shook the whole country, and especially the world of those running a parallel economy. This is a landmark step taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards curbing black money. For long now, black money has been a part of a wave of plunder this country has been facing since independence.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the demonetizing of 500 and 1000 Rs notes

Image result for india's 500 rupee note

Image result for india's 1000 rupee note

In our book, You Turn India, we speak about the three waves of plunder this country has seen. India has been plundered many a times over, in the last 1000 years.

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Three Waves of Plunder

The plunders of India, can be slotted into 3 waves of looting:

  1. Near West Onslaughts – The onslaughts from the Near West such as that of Mohamad of Ghauri, Mohamad of Ghazni, around 1000 CE and that by Nadir Shah around 1700 CE.
  2. The Colonial Plunder – The drain of Indian wealth, primarily by the East India Company of the British between 1600 CE to 1947 CE.
  3. The Home-Grown Plunder – The looting of Indian money by Indians themselves from 1950 CE till date.

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Three Waves of Plunder

Third Wave

This 3rd wave, started soon after India’s Independence and continues to deplete the country.

While the previous 2 waves stopped with the ousting of the invaders, this 3rd wave, being the handiwork of Indians themselves, has the potential to go on ceaselessly, taking the whole nation downhill, if left unchecked.

The monies of the 3rd wave of plunder are equally large or probably even larger and more importantly, can be quantified, identified, repatriated and specifically channelized for the rejuvenation of the country as a whole.

While the previous 2 waves of plunder are large, done and the wealth forever lost, in stark contrast, we shall see how the monies of the 3rd  wave of plunder are equally large or probably even larger and more importantly, can be quantified, identified, repatriated and specifically channelized for the rejuvenation of the country as a whole.

Our book You Turn India speaks in detail about the ways to curb this wave of plunder, and in bringing back the hoarded black money to the mainstream economy.

At a national level, many governments have brought in respective schemes during their times, to enable the recovery of black money circulating at the national level, using voluntary disclosure schemes. These haven’t been very successful for long.

The 4 Prong Approach-An age old Indian ethos

It is here we speak of the 4 prong approach in You Turn India.

The age old Indian ethos speaks of a 4 step approach to correct anyone –

Sama – balanced education,

Dhana – incentivizing good behaviour,

Bhedha – discrimination to kindle the conscience,

Dhanda – punishing to evoke conformance.

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Now that the above three steps have failed, the government has had to adopt the 4th one, Dhanda. The stick, Dhanda approach, is always the last, after all other methods have been tried out and when applied in this order, it has not failed. It has been a time tested approach with relation to human nature.

Carrot and Stick Approach

The present step of the government is not all about Dhanda though. It is a Carrot and Stick approach. In an effort to entice the evader to bring back his monies stashed away in the Tax Havens and not lose it completely, India needs to give an economic amnesty to the people who disclose and bring back these monies in large quantities, which the present dispensation has done.

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All in all, this is a great decision, and should be welcomed by all, even though it has led to a few inconveniences. If we can work towards creating an inflow of this currency, back into the economy and work to direct it to revive the flow of waters once again in all parts of our land, in a sustainable manner for growth and development, then, the coming generations can look to a future with all round prosperity.

Five years on, since book You Turn India was published, events are happening in the same sequence as we had highlighted.

The people of this country will now have to act decisively and in unison, within themselves and with the government. It is time that we see things as a whole and make a collective decision on how to ensure the sustenance of oneself, one’s people and one’s land for posterity.

November – Time to Celebrate Children

Seeing God as a Child

One can see an expression of the Indian love for children in the manner in which they have idolized even their gods in the form of a child.

We thus see portrayals of Shiva as Bala Shiva, Rama as Bala Rama, Krishna as Bala Krishna, Ganesha as Bala Ganapathy, Karthikeya as Bala Muruga and Hanuman as Bala Hanuman.

                     

              Bala Ganapathy                                          Bala Rama                                                  

Bala Muruga

                                                                 Bala Krishna

    Bala Shiva

Godly Children

Indian legends, the Purana are replete with enjoyable stories of the acts of various divinities in their child like form, some among these divinities being Tattva, cosmic principles and some others being historic personages.

The history epic, Valmiki’s Ramayana contains portrayals of Lord Rama and His brothers as ideal children. Through the behavior and life of these historic and ideal children, the Ramayana conveys the message of obligations of brotherhood, obedience to parents and obeisance to teachers. It celebrates childhood as the budding point for all qualities displayed in later adulthood.

The other history epic, Vyasa’s Mahabharata, through the lives of the five Pandava and the 100 Kaurava brothers, brings to focus competitive spirit amongst children. It showcases how impressions both positive and negative, formed during childhood can assume far greater proportions and cause great impacts to society in years to follow. It alerts us of the propensity of children to retain impressions and emotions well into their lives.

Purana dealing with tattva divinities such as Ganesha, Kartikeya have portrayed them symbolically in child like forms and through symbolic stories of symbolic acts of these divinities, have conveyed principles of the cosmos, of mankind, of mind, of intellect and of ego to help elevate man’s thinking and behavior.

Yet other Purana have immortalized some of the children of long bygone eras, in the saga of the land for generations that have followed in the last many millennia. The story of the boy Sravana’s devotion to his parents, the story of Markandeya’s unshakeable faith in the divinity Shiva, even in the face of death are known to most, through the land, even in this day.

The Purana legends have also showcased scientific possibilities involving children and their upbringing. We thus have legends showcasing the ability of the foetus to grasp happenings and sounds outside the womb. The story of Prahalada showcases how he imbibed devotion towards Narayana while in his mother’s womb and carried it forth as a little boy. The story of Ashtavakra again highlights how Ashtavakra imbibed the Upanishad while in his mother’s womb and used it later to help his father in times of need. Yet again, the story of Abhimanyu reiterates how a child starts gaining knowledge right from the time it is in the womb of its mother.

The legend of Dhruva symbolically narrates the scientific phenomenon of precession of the earth and its effect on the pole star seen in the skies. It is a beautiful way in which the principles of astronomy have been woven into a simple legend.

Srimad Bhagavatham contains many anecdotes on the pranks played by Lord Krishna, His brother Balarama and their gang of friends, Gopa and Gopi. This text highlights the qualities of innocence as well as impishness in children. It celebrates children for the adorable and affable beings that they are.

Seeing God in a Child

Children by nature are mischievous. To be mischievous is an innate quality of children.

Krishna’s precocious pranks are part of the rich folklore of this land.

                                              

                                                          Krishna’s pranks

Krishna, His pranks and His lovable, playful ways, set the trend for how people regarded children, in the land of India across millennia.

This land, by culture, for the last 5,100 years since the times of Krishna, has viewed children as a replica of Krishna and has relished their pranks as they would Krishna’s. The mischief of children has rarely been associated with punishment and reprimanding. It has instead been eulogized and happily expressed as an imitation of Krishna.

Given this ethos, when elders admonish their children for their harmless pranks, it is not stern and wrathful. It has in it an admiration for their innocence and a tolerance with an understanding that by nature, children are given to their ways of pranks.

A culture that gives space for children to grow up with their mischief also automatically gives them the space to grow out of their mischief as a part of the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Holding Children in High Esteem

It is no wonder that various political, religious as well as social leaders have focused specially on the children in the society. They have not only showered affection on them, but they have also invested time and effort in grooming the children in society, in morals, ethics and values. We thus have in many languages, simple couplets composed specially for inculcating good conduct and values in children. These couplets served as the nursery rhymes in this civilization much before the British replaced them with theirs.

Children’s day celebrations are a facet of the high esteem in which this civilization holds the development of its children.  Classic examples of this commitment, even till a couple of centuries ago, can be seen from the quote of Brigadier General Alexander Walker of East India Company from 1780 to 1810.

Dedicating November 14th, the birth anniversary of prominent leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who was close to children, as Children’s Day, is a representative gesture of the high esteem in which children have been held through the ages.

 Nehru with children

It is a day for us to recognize the value of children, the values in children and the values that have to be taken to the children for the development of a valued society.

It is a day to rededicate ourselves to the cause and joys of children.

Chhath Puja

A Festival to Thank the Sun

Chhath Puja is a popular ‘Sun Worship’ festival in and around Bihar. It is a festival to thank the Sun for the life and warmth it has bestowed on us. The antiquity of the festival can be traced to the Mahabharata period.

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Chhath Puja

 Chhath, Etymology

The word “Chhath” comes from the Samskrt word “Shashti”, meaning “six”, for this festival is observed on the 6th day of the ascending phase of the moon, Shukla Paksha of the Karthika month.

Karna observed Chhath Puja

The tragic hero of Mahabharata, Karna who is Surya Putra, worshipped the Divinity Sun on this day. His kingdom in the Mahabharata period is in the region of Bhagalpur, Bihar. The Biharis have a close affinity to this festival.

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Karna

Draupadi observed Chhath Puja

Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas is also recorded to have observed this Sun worship.

Observed in North India

Since then for over 5100 years, this festival has had resonance in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and adjoining parts.

In the sequence of the Kaumudi festival of Deepavali period, the Chhath festival has its role of importance as other regional festivals.

Skanda Shasti – Soora Samharam

Soora Samharam is the day when Lord Skanda defeated Taraka Asura. Skanda refers to Lord Skanda. Shasti is the 6th day or tithi of a Paksha, the fourteen day phase of the moon.

The vanquishing of Taraka Asura by Skanda is commemorated on a Shasti day and hence is also called Skanda Shasti. In other words, Skanda Sashti that falls in Karthika Month is specially known as Soora Samharam.

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Lord Skanda Killing Taraka Asura

Skanda, meaning

The word Skanda in Samskrt means ‘Spill Over’. As per the Purana, the spilled over energy of Shiva was taken in possession by the deva and which took the form of Skanda, the vanquisher of Taraka Asura.

The Legend

In our Purana, Taraka Asura had secured a vara, boon from Brahma that he should meet his end only at the hands of a son of Shiva. This was a clever boon in the backdrop as Lord Shiva was an unmarried mendicant then, engrossed in meditation. The Asura soon started wrecking havoc all over the world, causing trouble to all. Lord Shiva is persuaded to wed Parvathi, the daughter of the King Himalaya. Skanda is born. He goes on to vanquish Taraka Asura with His Vel, a spear and relieve the Deva and the whole earth from his burden.

Vel – Removal of ignorance

The implement of Skanda is a spear, also called Vel in Tamil language. This spear is not just a war weapon. This Vel is used to remove the veil of ignorance.

Taraka, Cross Over

The word Taraka means to cross over. By overcoming Taraka, we cross over from ignorance to knowledge. Skanda Shasti is venerated as the day Skanda helped us to crossover from ignorance to Knowledge.

Commander of Deva

In a multifacet personality that He is in the Puranic lore, apart from being a Guru who removes ignorance, Skanda was also the commander-in-chief of the Deva, protecting them always from the Asura.

Skanda Purana

The largest Purana, the Skanda Purna is dedicated to the exploits of Lord Skanda.

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Kaumara Mata

Among the Shadmatas, the 6 religions of India, the Kaumara Mata is dedicated to Lord Skanda.

6 Primary Temples

There are 6 primary temples of Murugan in Tamil Nadu.

  1. Tirupparamkunram
  2. Tiruchendur
  3. Swamimalai
  4. Palani
  5. Thiruthani
  6. Pazhamudircholai

In Other Countries

There are temples of Skanda in other countries as well.

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Murgan Batu Temple, Malaysia

Events on this day

Every year, people across the world, especially in South India, commemorate the victory of Lord Skanda over Taraka Asura on Skanda Shasti by organizing many events in honour of their Lord. The devotees of Lord Skanda enact many plays on the exploits of their Lord. Various hymns in praise of Lord Skanda are recited and hundreds of people join feasts organized by the temples.

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Crowd at Skanda Shasti celebrations in Tiruchendur Temple, Tamil Nadu

Origins of Ayurveda

Dhanvantri

Dhanvantri the divinity for good health holds the Amrita Kalasa, the nectar of life in one hand. In Greek language this Amrita is expressed as Ambrosia.  Dhanvantri is depicted as stepping out of the waters.

 Dhanvantri stepping out of water

For good health, what is essential, is the balance of waters not just in this body, but on the whole earth as well. The name Dhanvantri has the syllable Dhan in it meaning wealth. Traditionally, it has been good health which has been looked upto as being the real wealth.

The knowledge of this good health is Ayurveda.

With this background, let us see how this field of Ayurveda and its propagation came to be.

In the word Ayurveda, Ayur means “life” and Veda, “knowledge”. The word Veda comes from the root word Vid meaning “knowledge”.

Shiva-Shava

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”.

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.

 

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.

Brahma

Indra

This knowledge then gets transmitted to Indra.

The word Indra means “senses, the sensory knowledge”.

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.

 

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.

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

  • Gotamafor Gavayurveda, medicine for cows, Go

  • Salihotrafor Ashvayurveda, medicine for horses, Ashva

 Wholistic Healthcare

From the above, it dawns on us that the knowledge of 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.

With this understanding let us look at Ayurveda anew, for the wholistic approach that it stands for.