Bal Gangadhar Tilak

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Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian Freedom fighter who played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle.

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Bal Gangadhar Tilak

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Birth and Education

Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 at Ratnagiri village of Maharashtra. His father was a Samskrt teacher.

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Birth Place of Tilak

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A first cover of Tilak’s Birth Centenary issued in 1956

Tilak was among the first generation of Indians who secured a graduation.

Marriage

In 1871, Tilak married Satyabhamabhai. He began teaching mathematics at a private school.

Selfless Service

According to Tilak, spirituality was not divorced from worldly life. He got his inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, which he believed taught selfless service to humanity.

He said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation my highest religion and duty.”

Later he went on to write a commentary on the work called the Bhagavad Gita Rahasya.

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Deccan Education Society

Making social service the goal of his life, Tilak founded the ‘Deccan Education Society’ along with his college friends in Pune, with the aim of improving the quality of education in India.

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Deccan Education Society, Pune

Joing INC

Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890 and became a part of the Freedom struggle. His main aim was to unite the people against British. He worked with Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the Home Rule Movement.

Lokamanya’

He was soon conferred the title of ‘Lokamanya’, Loka meaning, ‘world’ and Manya, ‘acceptance’, as he was accepted by all sections of the society as their leader.

Father of the Indian unrest movement

He was called the ‘Father of Indian unrest movement’ by the British for his successful attempts in uprising the masses towards freedom.

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‘Bal Pal Lal’

Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, two other freedom fighters, Bal Gangadhar Tilak became a part of the trio who were collectively nicknamed, ‘Bal Pal Lal.’

Celebrating Ganesha Utsav

In 1894, Tilak called for celebrating the domestic Ganesha festival as public event. His intention again was to unite people through the fervour of the festival.

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Tilak started Ganesha Utsav

Swaraj is my birth right’

In 1897, Tilak raised the clarion call,

“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.”

This slogan is ingrained in the Indian consciousness even to this day. A stamp has been released by the Government to this effect.

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Swaraj Stamp

Tilak’s call intensified the yearning for Swaraj from the British, in every common man’s mind as well as collectively in the entire population of the land. It became a turning point of our Freedom movement.

 In 1905, following the partition of Bengal, He encouraged the Swadeshi and Boycott movements.

As a journalist

At this moment, he also began his journalistic career by founding the Kesari newspaper. Tilak opposed many policies of British by publishing strong worded articles in his paper.

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Kesari newspaper

Authoring Books

Tilak was sent to jail for carrying out anti-British activities. Here, he spent his time in writing the commentary on Bhagavad Gita. He also authored a book called “Orion, or the antiquity of the Vedas”, which is a research on the antiquities of the Veda.

In this book, which he wrote in his prison cell, he writes about the knowledge in the Veda about the galaxy, the galactic arm, the position of our sun in the galactic arm, the constellation of Mrigashirsha in this arm. Through these he tries to fix probable dates when this knowledge could have been composed on earth in the form of Veda.

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Gandhi’s Guru

All in all, Tilak paved the way for Mahatma Gandhi, as the momentum of his activities helped Gandhi to start his non-cooperation movement. In this regard, Gandhi considered Tilak his Guru.

Tilak passed away on August 1st, 1920 in Mumbai. A true devotee of Bharath in true sense of the word.

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Last words of Lokmanya Tilak on verdict of Jury in 1908, is on plaque outside Central court of Bombay High Court

Funeral procession of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

 

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International Tiger Day

Tiger day

Dwindling numbers

The number of tigers are dwindling each year. According to the guesstimates of experts, in 1913, the world had 100,000 tigers. Hundred years later, i.e in 2013, the number came down to an alarmingly 3,274.

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Uncertain Future

International Tiger Day

Realizing that tigers were soon becoming extinct, the International Tiger’s Day was instituted in the year 2010 at the Saint      Petersburg Tiger summit with the goal of raising awareness on protecting tigers and their habitats.

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 Many programs, including seminars are held in this regard, across the world.

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Need to protect Tiger and its habitat

Role of Tigers

The tigers play an important role in the health and diversity of the ecosystem by keeping in the numbers of wild ungulates in check, maintaining the ratio of the herbivorus and the vegetation that they feed on.

The Famous Poem

Tigers have been popular across the world and they have even found place in poetic imaginations. There is a famous poem on tiger by William Blake, ‘The Tyger’.

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Image: Courtesy Wikipedia

India’s National Animal

Tiger is the national animal of India. Tigers have been admired in this land since many centuries for its royal grace and majesty. This royal animal is also worshipped as the vahana of Divinity Durga.

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Goddess Durga on a tiger

Lord Ayyappa is also depicted as riding a tiger.

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Lord Ayyappa riding a tiger

Indian names

In India, tiger is called by many names such as Bagh, Puli, Venghai, Dvipin, Guhasaya, Panchanakha, Hinsaru and Shardula among others.

Names of Tigers and their meaning

Name Meaning
Dvipin Dvip meaning Island, Dvipin-One with spots like island
guhasaya Guha meaning hidden, cave, Guhasaya-One who stays hidden in caves
Panchanakha Pancha meaning five, Nakha, claws, Panchanakha – Five clawed
Hinsaru Hinsa meaning violence, Himsaru-Violent animal
Shardula Shardula meaning swordlike

Tigers in India

India is a home to more than two thirds of world’s tigers with 8 native species.

The royal Bengal tiger is found all over the country. Some of the rare species like white tigers can be found in the Girnar forest, Gujarat. Tigers of Sundarbans are the largest.

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 The Royal Bengal Tigers

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The Sundarbans Tiger

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A rare species of tiger “sumatran tiger” at Nehru Zoological Park, Hydrabad

In Popular stories

Tigers came into popular stories like Jungle Book and Jataka tales.

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Tiger in Jungle book

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A Jataka Tale Story

Tigers being killed

Tiger always symbolized India’s wild life prosperity. Unfortunately tigers were being killed everyday for sport and also for their teeth, fur and body parts for commercial purposes. The habitats of tigers have also being taken over and destroyed in the name of development.

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Poaching still prevalent

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A tiger rescued by forest officials from poachers at Madhya Pradesh Tiger Reserve

 Save Tigers = Save all

The saving of tigers also means saving of deers and other animals that tigers eat.

But in order to save these animals we need to save the trees, the plants and the grass these animals feed on.  In other words, we need to to save the forests.

Thus saving tigers includes saving the entire forest environment, all flora and fauna, as tigers rests right on top of the food chain.

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Tiger Food Web

Urgent need to save tigers

If urgent steps are not taken to save tigers now, then they may well become extinct in the coming years. This will affect the whole food chain, as also humans. Man should desist from interfering with tigers and their habitat as only this will augur well for his own survival in the coming years.

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Complementary Nature in Nature

brahmanar sangam

One often hears in the English language, the remark, “Behind every successful man is a woman”. This phrase conjures up an image of the woman being lesser than the male gender and playing only a supportive role, while the man is the achiever.

lady and gentleman

In stark contrast to the above statement and view, in India and the Indian languages, the wife is called “Saha Dharmini”, meaning one who is along with the man. This term implies that the wife and the husband are to go along in life together, performing their deeds together, towards leading a righteous life, pursuing the 4 goals of life namely, Dharma – which may be translated in a limited way, as righteousness, Artha – wealth, Kama – desires and pleasures and Moksha – liberation, salvation.

purush stri

Many commonly understand “Saha” to mean equal. But there is a different word for equal, namely “Sama”, meaning same level.

So the term “Saha Dharmini” must have a deeper connotation.

In many languages brothers and sisters are called Sahodara and Sahodari respectively, meaning the ones who along with you, bear and share the joys and burdens of a joint family.

Saha seems to be more than just equal.

Saha denotes a form of parternship, “co-” as in cooperative, togetherness. And for a  partnership, togetherness and a cooperative effort to be successful, it calls for a sense of complementing one another to complete the task on hand effectively. The word Saha therefore denotes complementary, helping.

If the two partners are just equals and have equal of everything, there definitely would be times when their strengths would add up and double the gains. But there would also be times when both would be found lacking and there would be great gaps and falls.

                                                        Equals leave gaps2 Equals leave gaps1

Equals – leave gaps

While in the case of complementing, what one lacks, the other can provide, thus leaving no room for a gap in the collective unit.

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Complementary Units – fit perfectly, no gaps

If every such, complete family unit were to complement each other in a collective living community, then there would be no gaps in the society, civilization as a whole too.

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Amongst equals, each tries to score over the other. Equals lead to competition, infights and separation.

In a complement, since each one is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each other, they do not see any competition from the other. So complements lead to dependency, togetherness and partnership.

This philosophy formed the basis for the framing of the various family models and the structure of the Indian society, in the days of the past.

By referring to a wife as a Saha Dharmini, Indian thought and ethos, thus stressed on the fact that men and women are complementary in nature to one another and can only collectively perform their righteous duties at 3 levels, namely for their,

  1. home and family

  2. society and community

  3. culture and civilization

We can see such a complementing nature at work in the whole of Nature.

Even the lion, the symbol of masculinity, relents to this driving force of Nature. It is the females in a pride of lions, who typically hunt and bring back food for the pride. However, it is the male, the lion who gets to eat first and the most, before the others get their share. This is in return for his role of keeping the pride together and safe. This is where, the term “lion’s share” originated from.

Amongst the birds, it is the male emperor penguin who takes over the baton from his female partner to hatch the egg and look after the young for months on end in the harsh, freezing Antarctic winter, while the female partner goes back to the sea, to replenish her store of energy and bring back food for the penguin chick.

In the insect kingdom, all the bees, males included, work to the tunes of the Queen Bee.

 complementary 4

In each species, the male and female, evolve roles and responsibilities, suited to their innate, individual capability.

A representation of such a complementing concept is the depiction of Shiva, a popular divinity of the land as ArdhaNaari, meaning half woman, where the figure of half man and half woman sharing every part of the body shows the complementary nature of roles they are supposed to play in all activities of life.

 Ardhanaari

Ardhanaari

This is further exemplified and elaborated in the concept of the three feminine divinities, the wives of the three primary divinities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, in the Indian pantheon of Gods.

If we pause and observe intently,

  • the wife of Brahma the creator, is Saraswathi, the embodiment of knowledge, for, inorder to create, knowledge is a requisite and Saraswathi brings in this knowledge

  • the wife of Vishnu, the preserver, is Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth, for, inorder to sustain and operate, wealth is a requisite and Lakshmi brings in this wealth

  • the wife of Shiva, the regenerator, recycler, is Shakthi, the embodiment of energy, for, inorder to recycle i.e. destroy and recreate, energy is a requisite and Shakthi brings in that energy.

The masculine aspect in these concepts, denote a function in the cycle of the Universe, while the feminine aspect denotes the substance or resource required for this functioning.

These feminine divinities were perhaps the earliest “Women of Substance”.

Women of Substance

 This symbolism denotes the higher understanding in the civilization, that the functioning and the resources needed to function, coming together with a purpose, is what ensures successful completion of any activity.

It is the understanding of this complementary nature of Nature, all the way from the divine forces at work throughout the Universe, to the various living forms in this Universe, including man and woman on earth, that formed the ethos of the land of India.

These ethos through the ages has given the due position and respect, in all spheres of life, to men and women.

It is this realization that was put in practice in various facets of life concerning men and women and their roles in society, in India, through the ages. To an extent, these ethos also found reflection in other fields also, namely Astronomy and social customs.

In many marriage customs of India, after the couple is wed, one of the wedding ritual is, the gazing of Arundhati-Vasishta. The husband and wife are taken outside by the priest and asked to gaze at Arundhati-Vasishta in the sky.

Ever wondered what this ritual is all about and who are Arundhati-Vasishta and that too, in the sky?

One of the spectacular constellations in the northern hemisphere, is the Ursa Major constellation, also called the Great Bear, the Big Dipper. This constellation can be identified by seven prominent stars.

Arundhati-Vasishta

The significance of this constellation is that when we join the two stars in the belly of the bear, they always point to the Pole Star in the North.

This constellation is called Sapta Rishi in Indian astronomy and each of the seven prominent stars has been named after some of the prominent Rishi of India.

One such star, at the tail, is called Mizar-Alcor in modern Astronomy. Since thousands of years, in Indian astronomy, this star has been known as Arundhati-Vasishta.

Vasishta was one of the most accomplished Rishi and together with Arundhati, his wife, they were regarded as the most knowledgeable, much respected, ideal couple in Indian legends.

Why a double name for this star?

After the invention of telescope, modern astronomers identified this star to be a double star. They also found that this system of double star is such that, it is not one star going around the other, which is the usual form of double star system. Instead, in Arundhati-Vasishta, the 2 stars go around each other, much as to how 2 people rotate and go around a common fixed spot in Phugadi, a game in India.

Arundhati-Vasishta 2

It is very interesting to note that these stars were given the name of an ideal couple. It is further interesting to note that gazing at this ideal couple in the sky has infiltrated as a marriage custom of the land, where after the couple is wed, the husband and wife are taken out by the priest and shown this Arundhati-Vasishta star system.

Today, neither the priest nor those around are able to explain this ritual. It is even ironic that this ritual is held during midday under the blazing sun, when no stars are seen and with no clue as to even where this star lies.

Our ancients were not only well advanced in Astronomy to have discovered this uncommon system of double stars but were also foresighted enough to include it as a marriage ritual to relate to and reinforce to common man, that in a marriage it is not the wife going around the husband or the other way around.

Their message to society was that, both husband and wife together, as partners, have to complement each other and go around, the central point – the family and society, fulfilling their duties to the best of their innate, individual nature and capability.

It is time for all of us in this world, to focus on Saha, the complementing factor too, rather than on Sama, the equalizing factor alone.

Understanding our ancients’ way of living and picking a leaf or two of wisdom from them, can help us in understanding ourselves better and handling our relationships and business in harmony with each other and with Nature.

Rajendra Chola I

Rajendra Chola coronation day

Rajendra Chola 1 is counted among the great emperors of India, belonging to the Tamil Chola Empire. His empire extant was the whole rim of Bay of Bengal, from Maldives to Sri Lanka to Malaysia to Indonesia.

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South East Asia regions conquered by the Chola

India never invaded?

We have often heard that India has not invaded any country in the last 1000 years. This statement is not wholly true because the kings, Rajendra Chola and his father Raja Raja Chola of the Chola Empire, with its capital in Thanjavur in present day Tamil Nadu, who reigned between 950 CE and 1050 CE, had large naval fleets and conquered South East Asia such as Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives Malaysia and Indonesia.

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A painting depicting the Chola Navy of Rajendra Chola-I raid on the Kedah (Today’s part of Malaysia)

Rajendra Chola I took over the reign from his father on July 28th 1014 CE.

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Rajendra Chola and Raja Raja Chola

Chola Conquests

Conquering Sri Lanka

In 1017 CE, the king captured the whole of Sri Lanka, of which his father, Raja Chola was able to conquer only the northern half. He realized his father’s dream of gaining complete control over Sri Lanka.

Victory over Pandyas and Cheras

In 1018 CE, King Rajendra marched to Pandya and Chera regions and fighting a fierce battle, defeated their kings.

Defeating Chaulakyas

In 1021 CE, Rajendra Chola planned to conquer the Chaulakya territory. At that time, Jayasimha was the ruler of the Chaulakya territory and was going strong. However such was the prowess of Rajendra that, he was able to defeat Jayasimha in a battle, now called the battle of Maski.

Gangaikonda Cholan

Rajendra Chola then conquered regions around Ganga, from Palas of Bengal. He brought waters of Ganga in ceremonial procession and for this feat, he renamed his capital as Gangaikonda. He was conferred the title Gangaikonda Cholan, meaning, “one who brought the waters of Ganga”.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram

The city that Rajendra Chola built was named Gangaikonda Cholapuram, meaning “the city of him who conquered the kings in the Ganga region.” This city became the capital of the Chola Empire.

Today this place is listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is famous for a Shiva temple that goes by the same name – Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.

Image result for Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple

Oveseas Conquests

Rajendra Chola was among the first Indian kings to conquer territories outside India. His conquests included areas of present day Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Andamans, Lakshadweep and Cambodia.

In all these Conquests, Krishnan Raman served as the Commander in Chief of the Chola forces, under Rajendra Chola.

Feared by Mohammed of Gazni

Mohammed of Gazni while raiding the north west of India, dared not to cross into the Chola kingdom, fearing its might.

Closing years

The closing years of Rajendra’s reign from 1040CE to 1044CE was a golden period for the Cholas. The Chola Kingdom had extended far and wide. The naval provess of the Cholas was at its peak. King Rajendra passed on all the powers to his sons and others in the family who ruled on his behalf.

He soon passed on the mantle to his son Rajendra Chola II.

Temples and Lakes: His legacy

King Rajendra Chola is said to have built a number of temples during his 30 year reign. He built the Dharasuram temple replicating the Tanjavore temple built by his father.

Spreading Culture

The invasion of the overseas islands by Rajendra Chola was in keeping with the civilized norms of those days and did not involve destruction or plunder as is evidenced from the records of those islands. These conquests actually led to opening the doors for the spread of Indian culture, ideas and ethos to the whole of South East Asia.

Photo published for 1400 Years Old sun clock of Chola Empire | Mystery of India

Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami

Nag-Panchami

Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami is celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar.

Festival for Arch Rivals

Panchami is the fifth phase of the moon. Nag is snake and Garuda is eagle. Both are arch enemies. How come there is a festival on the same day for these 2 arch rivals?

Arch rivals

Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies

‘Garuda Constellation’

Let us fist understand this time of the year first. It is the month of Shravan. This means the Full Moon in this month occurs near the Shravan Star. This star is identified with Altair of Aquila constellation. This constellation is likened to an eagle in the sky.

Aquila

Aquila, Shravan constellation

There are many Indian legends associated with why this constellation has been called Shravan.

Coming to the point of Garuda Panchami, this Aquila, eagle, Garuda constellation is prominent in this Shravan month as the full moon occurs here. Hence the Panchami of this month being referred to as Garuda Panchami.

‘Snake Constellation’

 Now, look at this from the

point of view of the sun. When it is Full Moon, the sun is directly opposite in the sky on the other side of the earth. i.e this month, the sun will be near the Aslesha star in the sky. Aslesha star is likened to the snake, the constellation Hydra in the sky.

Hydra

Hydra, Aslesha Constellatioin

Hence with reference to the sun, this Panchami is a Nag Panchami as the sun is close to Hydra, the snake.

Rivals in the Sky

The Aslesha star and the Shravan star are almost diagonally opposite in the sky being 13 stars away from each other in the lineup of 27 Nakshatra in the sky as per Indian Astronomy.

We see the snake, Nag and the eagle, Garuda to be rivals – not only on ground but also in the sky.

Beautiful concept

Is it not interesting that such a beautiful fact of astronomy has been brought out through this conjoint festival of Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami?

It reminds us that Hydra and Aquila are opposite to each other in the sky.

It reminds us that during this time of the year, the sun is near Hydra (Aslesha) and Full Moon occurs near Aquila (Shravan).

Bringing 2 side together

These festivals are like two sides of a coin. Actually they are like two sides of the sky. Each opposite to the other.

This is perhaps why it got translated into the sentiment of women praying to the Nag, snake or tying Raksha Bandhan to pray for the safety and wellbeing of their brothers.

Is this also why, we also celebrate Friendship day to express love for our friends around this period?

It is perhaps a way of making the snake and the eagle come to respect each other.

The Nag (Hydra) and the Garuda (Aquila) indeed rule the day and the night sky respectively, throughout this month.

 

Kargil Vijay Divas

Kargil Vijay Diwas

Kargil Divas

Kargil Vijay Divas is observed, the day when Indian soldiers overcame the Pakistani insurgents and successfully regained control over the high posts in Kargil and Drass sector, earlier lost to Pakistani intruders.

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Kargil on Map

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Kargil

In honour of Kargil heroes

527 Indian soldiers were martyred, and around 1088 soldiers were wounded in this Kargil War. Kargil Vijay Divas was instituted to honour these Kargil war heroes. Every year, citizens of the nation, pay homage to the Kargil heroes at Amar Jawan Jyoti at Indian Gate, Delhi and at Kargil hills, in Kashmir valley.

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Kargil Hills Memorial

Many programmes are held all over India to remember the sacrifices made by the Indian Army then. Shaurya, valour awards were given to these soldiers and officers.

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Amar Jawan Jyoti

Pakistani soldiers indisguise

In the year 1999, Pakistani Armed Forces were training and sending soldiers, disguised as jihadi militants, into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC).

To delink Ladakh & Kashmir

This infiltration which they called “Operation Badr” was intended to break the link between Ladakh and Kashmir by forcing the Indian soldiers to retreat from the Siachen Glacier. The goal was to force a negotiated solution from India.

Indian Soldiers caught unawares

Initially, the Indian soldiers were not aware of the nature of this infiltration. The Indian forces thought that this infiltration was by jihadis and resolved to eliminate them.

Another infiltration

In the next few days, another infiltration was observed along another part of LOC. The nature of this infiltration was very much different from the previous one which made the Indian Army to seriously study these infiltrations.

Discovering the nature of attack

 On further analysis, the Indian forces realized that the enemy’s plan was much bigger and that Pakistani soldiers in disguise, had infact captured around 200 kms of Indian Territory.

‘Operation Vijay’

The Indian Government soon launched the Operation Vijay with 2 lakh Indian soldiers. The Battle which began on May 27th, lasted for 62 days and ended on July 26th.

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Indian Soldiers attacking the intruders

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Indian Soldiers in action during Kargil

India stood steadfast

India stood steadfast all through the war, whereas the Pakistani Prime Minister went to US on July 4th to meet the then President Clinton and then to China, to seek help. Incidentally, July 4th was American Independence Day.

Whereas, India did not go soliciting for help, to maintain its territorial integrity.

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Nawaz Sharif with Bill Clinton seeking help

The Success

The Indian soldiers were successful in pushing back the Pakistani intruders beyond the Line of Control and regaining the lost territory. It is to be noted that it was India’s conscious decision not to escalate the war beyond the Kargil and Drass sectors.

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Indian soldiers hoisting Indian flag after regaining Kargil

Many Films

The victory lifted the morale of every Indian. The sentiment in India was so high, that, a number of films were made on this war. LOC Kargil was one of the first films. Shot in Ladakh, this film gives a detailed account of Operation Vijay. The Film Dhoop was released in 2003 with the Kargil war as a backdrop. Another film Lakshya was released, a fictional story based on the Kargil war.

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LOC Kargil

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Dhoop

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Lakshya

Not to forget

This year, the 18th anniversary of the Kargil victory is being observed. The war might be over, but we should not forget those who sacrificed their lives in the battle. It is not enough we if just recall the sacrifices of those who gave up their ‘today’ for our ‘tomorrow’. It is time we ensure that, they get their injury benefits without any delay, which has sadly been delayed for the last many years on petty grounds.

Make it a Policy

It should also be made a policy that the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, along with ministers visit the Kargil Hills Memorial, every year, to pay homage to our Kargil martyrs who then saved Kashmir for us by giving up their lives.

National Flag Adoption Day

National Flag Adoption Day is celebrated every year on 22nd July, the day when the flag in its present form was official accepted by the Constituent Assembly in 1947, as the Indian National Flag.

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Indian National Flag

The word flag in English means something that flaps in air. This word has its origin from the German word, Flagge, and dates back to the days of Tutons.

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Some Vexillologists are of the opinion that China is originally the birthplace of the flags, and the first mention of it is dated to 1122 BCE.

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In Ramayana

India has had a long history of flags. In ancient India, each kingdom had its own flag, own identity.

In Samskrt, a flag is known as Dvaja.

In the Ramayana, we have Surya Vamsa Dvaja, of Rama’s dynasty, dating to 5100 BCE.

In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse-74-36 and Kishkinda Khanda – 16-37, there is a mention of flag being hoisted to celebrate the New Year on Ashwin Purnima. In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse – 77 – there is another mention of Flags being defaced due to heat and showers.

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Surya Vamsa Dvaja

The chariots of kings, princes and soldiers hosted their own individual flags. Infact during the war, the flag of the chariot helped the rival army identify a particular soldier.

In Mahabharata

Arjuna’s flag had the insignia of Hanuman, a Vanara, through which the other soldiers identified His chariot during battles.

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Arjuna’s Dvaja with the image of Hanuman

Similarly Bheeshma’s flag had the insignia of a Tala, Palm tree and 5 stars.

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Bheeshma’s flag

Dronacharya’s flag had the insignia of Vedika – an altar, Deer Skin, Kamandalam – a Pitcher and a bow.

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Dronacharys’s Flag

Duryodhana had a snake in his Dvaja, a Sarpa Dvaja.

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Duryodhana’s Flag

For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.

Divinities too

In this land, each Divinity also has its own flag.

The Dvaja of Indra, the King of Deva is mentioned in the Rig Veda, which dates to earlier than 3100 BCE.

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A Sculpture of Indra which shows his flag

In ancient times, Indra Dvaja Mahotsava was celebrated for 4 days after every successful military campaign.

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Dvaja Pata

Of the 8 modes of recitation, Ashta Vikriti that evolved in this land, Dvaja Pata is one.

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Part of Temple Architecture

Dvaja, a flag has been a part of the temple architecture from time immemorial. Dvaja stamba can be found in all temples.

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Dvaja Stamba

Flag represents Pride and Identity

For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.

The Manusmrithi 9.285 says,

“Damage to dvaja is sacrilegious and the offender has to repair it or pay damages of 500 pana.”

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In pre colonial era

There were a varieties of flags associated with different empires in the pre colonial era.

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In colonial era

In the 18th and 19th century, India was under the British rule. Every Indian state had its own flags as it has been having from time immemorial.

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Flag of British India

Star of India

After the First War of Independence in 1857, the idea to have a common flag for India was mooted by the British. The first group of flags based in British symbols was called the star of India.

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Evolution of flag

In the 20th century, as the freedom struggle gained momentum, many flags were created by Indian freedom fighters with symbols unique to Indian identity.

Vande Mataram flag

The partition of Bengal in 1905, gave birth to a new flag, called the Vande Mataram flag, aimed at uniting people of different caste, creed and community.

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                Vande Mataram flag, 1906

Flag modified

In 1907, Madam Bhikaji Cama tore her sari and unfurled it as a flag at Stuttgart Congress, Germany. The design and colour of her saree was adopted in a modified Vande Mataram flag, with a few changes.

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Madam Bhikaji Cama

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Modified Vande Mataram flag, 1907

Mahatma Gandhi’s Flag

In the year 1921, Gandhiji asked a person from Andhra Pradesh by name Pingali Venkayya, to design the flag.

Venkayya designed this flag of 3 colours, white on the top, green in the center and red at the bottom, with a Charka, a spinning wheel in the middle. It was popularly known as the Charka Flag.

This Flag was first hoisted on December 31, 1929, at the Lahore Congress Session on the banks of River Ravi, in Punjab, by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was under this flag that Gandhiji declared our goal of freedom movement as “Purna Swaraj”, complete independence.

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It was this flag, designed by Pingali Venkayya from Andhra, which became the basis for the Indian National Flag later. The Charka changed into Dharma Chakra – wheel of Dharma and the red colour at the bottom became saffron at the top,  with white in the middle and green at the bottom.

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Pingali Venkayya with Mahatma Gandhi

Swaraj flag

In 1931, The Indian National Congress adopted an official flag called the Swaraj flag which was used until 1947. The flag had three colours representing all the three main communities with a Charka in the middle. The aim was to unite all communities.

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Flag of Indian National Congress

Flag of Azad Hind

The Azad Hind movement under Subhas Chandra Bose which represented the provincial government of a free India had their own flag from 1942 to 1945.

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                                           Azad Hind Flag                                   Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

From Charka to Chakra

Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji

Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji from Hyderabad, was an Indian Civil Service officer in the Prime Minister office in 1947.

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  Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji

She designed the present Indian National Flag with Chakra, from the Charka flag that Pingala Venkayya had earlier designed.

The Charka was replaced by Ashoka Chakra in the centre.

The Indian national flag

Before Independence, a committee was formed under Dr. Rajendra Prasad to decide upon independent India’s National Flag.

This Chakra Flag was approved, accepted and adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, and it became the official flag of the Dominion of India on 15th August 1947.

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      Dr. Rajendra Prasad

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Indian National Congress Flag

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Indian Flag

Tryst with Destiny

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave a famous speech, Tryst with Destiny, about the Indian flag, on India’s First Independence Day – 15th August 1947.

He said,

“This flag that I have the honour to present you is a flag of freedom, not only for ourselves, but for all those who see it.”

“The flag represents a message of freedom and comradeship, a message that India wants to be friends with every country of the world”.

“This flag is of Indian independence.”

 “Behold it is born. It is already sanctioned by the blood of martyred youths.

 I call upon you gentle man, to raise and salute this flag of Indian independence.

 In the name of this flag, I appeal to all lovers of freedom, all over the world,

 to cooperate with this flag in freeing 1/5 of the human race”.

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Nehru giving the historic speech

The 1st Indian National Flag hoisted on 15th August, 1947 at Fort St George. Chennai

Accepted by all

The flag satisfied the four major communities, namely Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist, as each of the three colours, saffron, white, green and the symbol Ashoka chakra, represented the respective communities.

Colours and Chakra Represent our ethos

Saffron

This colour has denoted Sacrifice. It denotes the sacrificing mentality of service, Seva, which was exemplified by the Sadhu and Rishi of this land, who had sacrificed personal comfort for the larger benefit of the world and its inhabitants. This saffron colour has been associated with these Sadhu and Rishi from timeless eons. Over time, it therefore has also come to be associated with Spirituality and the Hindu religion.

White

This colour in the flag stands for Peace, the principle which India has stood by from the time that the Veda were first composed, for the Veda conclude with the Shanti Mantra Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti – Let Peace Prevail.

Green

This band stands for the fertility and prosperity of the land, which India had in abundance.

Blue Chakra

The blue chakra, called the Dharma Chakra in the centre, denotes the qualities that govern the people and society of this land.

The tricolor flag of India thus conveys an image of a flourishing, prosperous, peace loving, friendly nation with people who abide by the principle of Dharma and are ever ready to be of help to all.

These are the basic reasons for the choice of these colours in the Flag.

Apart from this, these colours have inspired various thinkers and poets to ascribe further meanings for the tricolor, from the point of view of the needs of the times.

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Colours of Indian Tricolur flag seen displayed in Nature

Source – A picture taken from Fort Ajinkyatara, Dist- Satara, Maharashtra – popular in social media