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.

 complementary 1 complementary 2

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.

 complementary 3

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.

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Karkidakam Masam

Karkidakam is a month in the Malayalam Calendar, which corresponds to the month July-August.

Period of Monsoon in India

The word Karkidakam refers to the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the period when the Sun hovers over the Tropic of Capricorn, and the monsoon rains have fully set in the Indian Sub-Continent. There are incessant rains all across the country, and especially in the state of Kerala.

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Monsoon Rains in India

In the Ramayana

In the Ramayana text, there is mention of this annual rainy season period. In the year 5076 BCE, Sugreeva and his army had to wait for a couple of months before starting their march to Lanka, because it was the rainy season. This shows that this rain has been annual and regular feature of India, for over 7100 years and more.

Time to Read Traditional Scriptures

The people thus mostly spend their time indoors and from there has been an ancient practice to read and listen to the traditional scriptures, like Ramayana, Purana and so on.

In the Malayalam Calendar, this month is also called Ramayana Masam, when people undertake a Parayana, a devout reading of Ramayana. People start the Parayana on the first day of the month, and continue through all the days, and the reading is finished by the time this month, Karkidakam Masam ends.

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Karkidakam Masam, the period when the Ramayana is read

Historical Rama

Ramayana is a scripture that has been innate to the cultural ethos of this land, and has influenced many civilizations, across many millennia.

Rama, while is a Divinity of millions and crores of Hindus all over the world, has also been believed through the ages to be a historic King of India who ruled from Ayodhya.

In the last 300 years, Rama was dismissed as a mythical figure, dismissing the ancient, traditional history of India. Ever since then, the issue of the acceptance of Rama as one of the most influential, historical king of this land, has been one of the questions in front of young India.

Is Rama Historical? Is Ramayana a historical account or just a story?

Our Work

In our trilogy on Rama, which includes “Historical Rama”, “Ramayana in Lanka” and “Ayodhya – War and Peace”, we prove the historicity of Rama, using an interdisciplinary and integrated, logical, rational and scientific approach.

The work ‘Historical Rama”, has also been made into a Film, in four languages – English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil.

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Visit www.bharathgyan.com to know more about these products

Also See:

This Hangout deals with the ideal Administration during the reign of Rama.

This short film highlights the historicity of Rama from different perspectives, corroborating data from the sky charts available in the texts, the legend of the land, geography and science. Watch it. Share it. It’s your history.

This film brings to light the layers of bridge construction and the month and the year when the Rama Setu was built.

Relish the Historicity

On this occasion of Karkidakam Masam, these are our humble offerings, through which you can understand Rama from a historical angle and appreciate the fact that Rama, a hero of the land of India, was indeed historical.

Reading the story of Rama, from this sense of historicity, we can enjoy the story of Rama, with added relish.

National Plastic Surgery Day

Plastic Surgery Day

Plastic Surgery is a branch of medical science which involves the surgical process of restoration, reconstruction or alteration of a part of a human body.

National Plastic Surgery Day is observed every year on July 15th, to create awareness on the science of Plastic Surgery.

In today’s world, the purpose of plastic surgery has become more of cosmetic in nature.

Did you know that the science of Plastic surgery had its roots in India? And for a very different reason.

In this case, the roots lay in the human nose.

Surpanaka’s Shaming

The year was 5076 BCE, about 7100 years ago. It was in the deep and dense forests of Dandakaranya. Danda means to punish and Aranya means forest. Dandakaranya got its name as it was a harsh and punishing forest. It is the stretch of forest that used to cover Central India, vestiges of which are still found smattering the central landscape of India.

Rama, the young and handsome, exiled prince of Ayodhya, with his, beautiful wife Sita and ever vigilant younger brother Lakshmana had made this forest their home during their 14 year exile.

This Dandakaranya forest was part of the kingdom of Lanka, ruled by the fearsome Rakshasa king Ravana.

Once, while wandering through the Dandakaranya forest, Surpanaka, the Rakshasa sister of Ravana spotted Rama and Lakshmana with Sita. Bewitched by Rama’s radiant looks, she assumes the form of a beautiful damsel and proposes to Rama. Rama turns down her proposal and asks her to check with Lakshmana instead. When Lakshmana also declines, Surpanaka loses her cool, her assumed beautiful form and charges towards Sita to harm her out of jealousy.

At this juncture, Lakshmana pulls out his sword and chops Surpanaka’s nose. Mind you, he does not maim her in any other way other than chopping off her nose to shame her. This incident made her incite Ravana into kidnapping Sita, eventually leading to Rama waging a war on Lanka and killing Ravana inorder to rescue Sita.

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The place where this shaming of Surpanaka by a Nose cut took place, came to be called Nasik, from nas for Nose.

More on this in our book, Ramayana in Lanka.

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The act of shaming, in the various languages of India, literally translates to a “Nose Cut”, for example Naak kaatna in Hindi. Perhaps it has its contextual roots in this incident from 7100 years ago.

But if this was a common form of shaming, 7100 years ago, it implies that a Nose cut for shaming or adultery must have had its roots even before 7100 years ago.

But why cut the nose for shaming? What was the rationale?

We need to go forward in time to 1790s to see the reason.

Sepoy’s Shaming

In August 1794, The Madras Gazette carried an incredible story.

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It was about an Indian cartman and 4 Indian sepoys who were fighting as part of the British army against their own brethren. These 5 men were captured by Tipu Sultan’s army and their noses were chopped off as a sign of infidelity to their motherland.

These 5 men went to the house of a potter in Pune, who surgically fixed their noses and they walked out with repaired noses.

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It was about an Indian cartman and 4 Indian sepoys who were fighting as part of the British army against their own brethren. These 5 men were captured by Tipu Sultan’s army and their noses were chopped off as a sign of infidelity to their motherland.

These 5 men went to the house of a potter in Pune, who surgically fixed their noses and they walked out with repaired noses.

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The surgeon’s name was mentioned as Maratta Vaidya Kumhar – Maratta as Pune was the land of the Marathas, Vaidya since he was a man of medicine, a surgeon and Kumhar as he was a potter by birth.

This was reported by two travelling British doctors – James Findley and Thomas Cruso who, during their travels, were astounded to witness such a new, advanced surgery unknown to the world, being done in the house of a potter. They came to Madras, which was then the centre of British power in India and wrote this article in The Madras Gazette. This article was later reproduced in The Gentleman’s magazine, a popular magazine of London, in October 1794.

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The First Rhinoplasty of the West

This article fired the mind of young 30 year old surgeon, J.C. Carpue. He got hooked onto the story, collected more data from Indian traders in England and also from the records of two other Italian surgeons, who had earlier tried this procedure with information from Indian traders in Italy.

Armed with this information, Dr. J.C. Carpue performed the first nose surgery, Rhinoplasty operation on October 23, 1814 in England.

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The fact that the procedure of Rhinoplasty surgery was an Indian offering to the world, among many other surgeries, has been expressed by Prof. A.A. MacDonell and Sir. William Hunter of the University of Glasgow.

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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Museum in Melbourne too acknowledges the source of Rhinoplasty, plastic surgery, to have been India, 2000 years ago. While commenting how the practice of surgery, especially plastic surgery grew due to the World War I, the Museum states that India had already been practicing these surgeries about 2000 years before this period too. That it was a common enough surgery in India then.

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Nose Surgery Became the Forerunner for Plastic Surgery

This form of Nose surgery, had been practised in India for many centuries. It became the forerunner for Plastic Surgery.

The father of surgical procedures in India was Susruta.

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More on this in our book, Brand Bharat – Roots in India.

The knowledge of Indian medicine, Ayurveda, travelled and reached far off lands to register India as a land of medicinal sciences.

Along with this, the science of Rhinoplasty and Plastic Surgery also travelled.

On this Plastic Surgery Day, let us remember this contribution of India to the world.