Marathi Language Day

Marathi Language Day is observed in Maharashtra, every year on February 27th. This day commemorates the birthday of Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, an eminent Marathi author.  It was officially established by the Government of Maharashtra to celebrate the Marathi language.

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Marathi, A Popular Language

Marathi is one among the ancient languages of India, and is substantially derived from Prakrit. It is the official language of Maharashtra, and is also co official language in the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. It is the fourth most spoken language in India. It has around 8 crores / 80 million speakers. It is listed among one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Marathi is included as a part of the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, and thus it holds the status of a scheduled language, i.e. it is one of the official languages of the Union of India.

Early Marathi works

The earliest Marathi works can be traced to the works of many saints, and are philosophical and devotional in nature. An early Marathi inscription was found at the foot of Bahubali statue at Shravanabelgola.

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar and Mukundraj

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar is one of the early known poets, who composed many hymns in Marathi. Mukundraj is another Marathi literary giant, dating to 1200 CE. His work Vivek Sindhu consisting of 18 chapters and 1671 verses is one of the earliest books in Marathi. He also authored the Param Amrit, which has 303 verses in 14 chapters. These works deal with the Advaita philosophy.

Sant Jnaneshwar

Sant Jnaneshwar is a literary giant in Marathi literature, from the 13th century. He is a revered saint, a devotee of Lord Vithhala, who composed Amrutanubhav, a work on his experiences in yoga and meditation. He also wrote Bhavartha Deepika, also known as Jnaneshwari, which is an extensive commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

 

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Sant Jnaneshwar

Sant Namdev

Sant Namadev is another Marathi poet saint, contemporary to Sant Jnaneshwar, who composed many Marathi poems in praise of Lord Vithhala of Pandharpur. He also composed many devotional hymns in Hindi, which has been included in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.

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Sant Namdev

Sant Eknath

In the 16th century CE, Sant Eknath was another literary figure who composed many devotional songs, and also authored many works such as the Eknath Bhagavat, Bhavarth Ramayana, and many other works.

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Sant Eknath

Sant Ramdas and Sant Tukaram

In the 17th century, when Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj who established the Maratha Empire, Sant Samarth Ramadas and Sant Tukaram were the famous poet saints during his times. Samarth Ramadas, who was the Guru of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, authored Dasbodh in Marathi, which are his teachings on the way to liberation.

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Sant Ramdas with his disciple Shivaji Maharaj

It is to be noted that all these works of the poet saints revolved around the divinity of Lord Vithhala, the deity enshrined at Pandharpur, in Maharashtra, which to this day is a famous pilgrimage centre. Much of the works in Marathi is owed to the devotion inspired by Lord Vithhala. Another Marathi devotional work, which comes to mind is Bhaktha Vijaya, a book on the lives of the saints who propounded the Bhakti Rasa. This was composed by another Marathi literary figure, Mahipati, who lived in the 18th century.

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Vithhala, the Lord of Pandharpur

In recent times, Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of the Marathi giants in literature, whose birth is today officially recognized as Marathi Language Day.

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of those Marathi scholars and author who popularized Marathi, through his poems, short stories and novels. He was born on 27th February 1912, and passed away on 10 March, 1999. In a career that started from pre independence days, this eminent poet wrote 16 volumes of poems, three novels, 7 volumes of essays, 8 volumes of short stories and 18 plays.

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Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Famous Works

Some of his famous works like Vishaka, published in 1942, was an inspiration for the Indian Freedom Movement. Another popular work of Vishnu is in the field of plays. His play Natsamrat in Marathi is regarded as one of the masterpieces in the history of Indian literary. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for this work of his.

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Vishakha, the famous work of Vishnu Viman

Recipient of many awards

Vishnu Vaman has been the recipient of many state and national awards for his achievements in Marathi literature. He was awarded the Danyapith award in 1987 and Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was the chairman of Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan, a Marathi Conference forum, for many years.

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Marathi language Day

Thus to honour his contributions in Marathi Literature, the government of Maharashtra found it fit to celebrate his birthday as Marathi Language day every year. On this day, the government organizes various events on Marathi languages, which include seminars and essay competition that are held in schools and colleges.

All in all, a day to honour the Marathi Language. Cumulatively all Marathi authors and their works are celebrated on this day.

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Khajuraho Dance Festival

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Khajuraho, A World Heritage Site

The Khajuraho Dance Festival owes its name to the town Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, where the festival is celebrated. Khajuraho is a World Heritage Site consisting of a group of monuments, temples.

Khajuraho, The Capital of Chandella Dynasty

Khajuraho was the capital of Chandella, a dynasty that ruled between 10th and 12th century CE.

Khajuraho, Etymology

The word ‘Khajuraho’ comes from the word Kajur, meaning, ‘Palm Dates’. The place abounded in ‘Palm Dates’ and hence was named Khajuraho.

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple

The famous Lakshmana Temple is located in Khajuraho.

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Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho Dance Festival is a one week festival, organized by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad. The Festival was started in the year 2010 and is conducted every year in February.

Bringing together Dance and Dancers

The Festival brings together some of best players in the field of dance and showcases a rich variety of Indian Classical Dances such as Kathakali, Odissi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Manipuri.

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Khajuraho Dance Performance

In Backdrop of Temples

The performance by various exponents of dance and music are conducted in open stages in the backdrop of the beautifully lit Khajuraho Monuments.

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Dance Performance during Khajuraho Dance Festival

Many A Krishna

Meaning of the word Krishna

The term Krishna means dark, dark hued.

Krishna, the central character to our book, is often in poetry and songs, referred to as Megha Shyama, meaning “dark as the rain bearing cloud”.

There were many a Krishna during Krishna’s time itself.

The prominent Krishnas

 Three Krishnas at the same Time

There have been many a dark hued persons through the times in this land and since the word “Krishna” denotes dark hued, more than a few of them have been called Krishna.

To avoid confusion, the central character of this book Krishna, the Yadava Prince, is often referred to as “Devakiputra Krishna” meaning “Krishna, the son of Devaki”.

The author of the epic Mahabharata, whom we reverentially call Veda Vyasa, was named Krishna at birth, for he was also dark. He was called Krishna Dwaipayana meaning “Krishna, the island born” as he was born on an island in the middle of a river, to Satyavati who was a boat woman.

Veda Vyasa is a title given to him, as he had also compiled the four Veda and organized them in a format which is in vogue to this day. The word Vyasa means “a compiler”.

Draupadi, the wife of the Pandava princes, was also named Krishnaa at birth. She was also dark hued in colour.
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Why only people? Even rivers were named Krishna.

Krishna is the name of a mighty river flowing in Andhra Pradesh. Many think that this river was named after Devakiputra Krishna. But this river is also referred to as the elder sister of Ganga, which means that this river and its name are treated as feminine gender. The original name of this river is actually Krishnaveni, meaning “dark plaited”.

Blue not Black

In Samskrt, the word “Neela” is used to denote any dark substance.

In northern parts of India, until a few years ago, the local way of commenting that someone has tanned or become dark, was by using the word “Neela”.

Neela also means “dark blue”. So, in Indian imagery we find the colour dark blue associated with dark and not black. This can be seen in visual representations in the form of a blue coloured Devakiputra Krishna, Draupadi and so on.

It can also be seen from some of the ancillary names given to Krishna such as Neelamegha Shyama, meaning “dark as the dark cloud”.

Usage of the word Krishna

Krishna Paksha

The moon, every month, goes through two cyclical phases of a fortnight each, called Paksha in Samskrt.

The waxing phase, in which the moon grows brighter day by day is called Shukla Paksha. Shukla means “white”, “fair”.

The other phase of the moon, where the moon grows darker day by day is called Krishna Paksha. Clearly the term Krishna Paksha has come about due to its association with darkening and not due to its association with an individual by name Krishna, as many are wont to think today.

Krishnamayam Jagat

There is an ancient popular phrase – “Krishnamayam Jagat.” This has been simply expressed by those who eulogize Krishna, to say that Lord Krishna fills this entire world, Jagat.

When we look at this same phrase from a scientific level, it offers us a completely new meaning.

 Krishna, we now know, means “dark”.

Mayam as a suffix, qualifies the word preceding it. Mayam denotes “being possessed of ”, “being encapsulated” in the quality denoted by the preceding word.

Jagat at a basic level means “this world”. It also means “anything that is moving”, “that, which is moving with good speed”, “moving with life”. All these are true for this world. Hence it is called Jagat and also

Jag in Hindi.

The universe is also called Jagat, as everything in this universe is also moving. The word Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, Lord of that which is constantly in motion, comes from this word Jagat. It is from Jagannath of Puri and His famous large Rath, chariots, that came the English word “Juggernaut” to denote an overwhelming and moving object or force.

 What is further scientifically relevant to us today, from the phrase, Krishnamayam jagat, is that, everything in this universe is encapsulated in darkness. Darkness pervades everywhere.

 Modern science states that, only 4% of the universe is made of matter that can be seen. The rest, 96 % of the universe is in the form of dark energy and dark matter. This dark energy, dark matter, is dark and unseen through known forms of vision, natural or otherwise, because of which it is called “dark”.

So this world is indeed prevailing in darkness. Suddenly this phrase Krishnamayam jagat, throws new light.

Is this our own interpretation, taking cue from modern scientific findings and trying to give a new meaning to an old phrase?

Our earlier works Creation – Srishti Vignana and Understanding Shiva, in the Bharath Gyan series, on the traditional description from the Veda and the Purana, on how this Universe was created, show that this meaning of Krishnamayam jagat, does not seem incredulous, but indeed eminently possible.

This universe is indeed Krishnamayam.

More on Krishna and the historicity of Krishna in our book Historical Krishna – Vol-1 – Dating of Krishna.

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Pamban Bridge

India’s First cantilever bridge

Pamban Bridge is India’s first cantilever bridge that connects Rameshwaram with mainland India. The bridge was opened on February 24, 1914.

It was also India’s first Sea bridge and one of the longest bridges in the country.

The bridge is the life line to Rameshwaram Island.

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Pamban Bridge

Scherzer central span

The 65.23 metre long rolling central span of the 2.06 km long bridge, is named after William Scherzer, the German engineer who designed and built the span.

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William Scherze

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The central rolling span

It opens up like a pair of scissors to allow vessels to pass through under the bridge.

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1964 Cyclonic storm

In 1964, even when a severe cyclonic storm hit this part of the area, Scherzer’s central span withstood nature’s fury. What is further remarkable is how this entire bridge was restored for traffic in a mere 46 days under the leadership of the man behind the Delhi Metro, E.Sreedharan, who was then posted in the Southern railway.

Of course, Rameshwaram has yet another bridge just parallel to it which was built in 1998. But that is a road bridge.

Longest for around 100 years

Pamban had stayed as the longest sea bridge of India for close to a 100 years, until it was surpassed by the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link built recently on Mumbai’s western coast. But then again, Bandra-Worli Sea Link is only a road bridge.

Pamban has much more load to carry as it is a rail bridge. Starting as a metre guage railway line it was upgraded to a broad guage line in 2007 and then again in 2009 it was further strengthened to carry goods train.

Among the world’s old and historic bridges, the London Bridge is one of the more famous ones.

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London Bridge

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In comparison with London bridge

In comparison to the London Bridge, the Pamban Bridge has had to face much more fury from Nature as it is built over a Sea.

It is located in world’s second most corrosive environment after Florida which makes it maintenance a challenge and a round the year activity. It is an activity that has been going on unfailingly for the last 100 years.

A train journey on this legendary sea bridge is sure to put everyone in awe. In awe of nature power and human skills!

Krishna, A War Monger?

Lord Krshna’s preachings to Arjuna to go ahead and fight against his own kith and kin in discharging his duty, has been quoted out of context as being provocative. Many have even called Krishna, “a war monger”.

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Gita Upadesha

The reality is far from this for,

  1. Krishna was the Peace Messenger before the war
  2. Advising someone to do one’s duty after coming to the battlefield cannot be construed by any stretch of imagination as war mongering.

The doubts that Krishna clarifies in the battlefield are similar to the doubts that every human being has in waging their daily battles of life. Krishna uses the occasion to express what one’s duty and purpose of life is for all, through Arjuna.

His message to Arjuna was a call to duty – in thought, word and action, which has stood the test of time for 5100 years both in debate and in action. Which is why, it is revered as Bhagavad Gita, the “Song of God”.

Acts to the Contrary

If Krishna were a war monger, then instead of leaving Mathura and going to Dwaraka, He would have stayed back for a fight to the finish, with Jarasandha and his army.

Probably, even at a young age, Krishna had felt that discretion was sometimes the better part of valour and had moved with His people to Dwaraka, to start a new life.

Strategically moving away, inspite of having defeated Kamsa in an open battle and then installing Kamsa’s father back on the throne of Mathura, speaks of Krishna’s maturity in not coveting what was not rightfully His. At that time, Kamsa’s father Ugrasena, who was old by then, had offered the throne to Krishna.

Krishna however declined to accept the throne of Mathura and moved on to Dwaraka.

Krishna probably felt then, that if He continued to stay on in Mathura, there could be repeated reprisals from Jarasandha’s army and the brunt of these attacks would have to be borne by the army and the people of Mathura. They would have to face the repercussions of these wars.

As Jarasandha’s enmity was with Krishna, He probably felt, that if He moved away, then peace would prevail among the people of the two kingdoms, two big cities of those times.

This was a strategic move by Krishna. His decision, not to stay on in Mathura and fight with Jarasandha, shows his maturity in trying to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

It also brings to light that Krishna was not a war monger, but a strategist.

Ranchor – Walking Away From Battle

For this selfless, strategic act of leaving Mathura to avoid constant wars with Jarasandha, Krishna has sometimes even been called Ranchor, Ranchod, “one who walked away from battle.”

This name however is not used derisively, which is why, even to this day, many people are called Ranchor or Ranchordas.

Rann is battle, rann bhumi is battlefield in the Samskrt language and many other languages of India and South East Asia.

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Krishna as Ranchodrai in Dakor temple

Peace Ambassador

When it was time to go to the Hastinapura court to demand their rightful share of property, it was Krishna that the Pandava chose to represent them.

It was Krishna whom the Kaurava and the elders in the court of Dhritarashtra were willing to hold negotiations with, as a peace ambassador.

All these incidents prove with certainty that Krishna was not a war monger.

Then why did Krishna counsel Arjuna to fight the battle against his granduncles and cousins?

The answer to these questions lie within Krishna’s Upadesha, counsel to the very same Arjuna, called the “Bhagavad Gita”.

(The above is an extract from our book – “Historical Krishna”.)

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Parting of Yamuna – A Miracle?

Yamuna Crossing

It was midnight when baby Krishna arrived on earth inside the prison of His wicked uncle Kamsa.

As though aware of the gravity of the situation, the new born baby lay quietly by the side of His mother Devaki. Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, was anxiously shifting his gaze between his newborn son and the prison doors, afraid that the guards may arrive any moment and see the child. To his surprise, he found that the guards had all fallen asleep as though in a state of stupor. The chains at his feet had come loose and the prison doors too had come ajar. He immediately read the signs that he was being shown the way to save his child. He decided to take Krishna and leave Him with his friend Nandagopa on the other side of the Yamuna.

Making haste, he quickly bundled baby Krishna into a basket and walked out of the prison with the child, hoping to make it to his friend Nandagopa’s house and back before daybreak, before the prison guards could find out anything amiss.

It was raining heavily that night and the winds were howling at a feverish pitch. Reaching the banks of the Yamuna, he wondered how he would manage to cross her safely with the child in such weather. Alone, he could have swum across. But he now had a baby.

Yet surprisingly, when he stepped into the waters, he found Yamuna parting and making way for them to cross over. The waters seemed to be leaping, wanting to touch the feet of Krishna but not daring to go any higher.

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Krishna being carried by Vasudeva across the Yamuna River in spate

Vasudeva had a feeling that a hooded snake was following him, spreading his hood as an umbrella for Krishna. Overawed, he dared not to turn and look. He kept walking till he reached the other bank. He left Krishna with Nandagopa and returned to the prison just in time before the guards woke up.

Yamuna returned to flowing in her usual manner as though she had seen nothing, she knew nothing and she had done nothing.

If Krishna is historical and not a myth, how can this be explained? Was it a miracle, an exaggeration or an imagination?

The Red Sea Crossing from the Bible

On similar lines, various teams have been working to understand and solve the Biblical mysteries, one of them being the parting of the Red Sea when Moses led his people, the Hebrews, out of Egypt.

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Moses

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Parting of Red Sea

One of the theories that has been put up to explain this as a natural, but rare phenomenon, is based on the principle of Wind Set Down.

A Wind Set Down

One of the experts who has been working on this theory, is scientist Prof. Doran Nof, Oceanography Department, Florida State University.                4

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University Logo

According to the Wind Set Down theory, when winds blow continuously for a sustained duration, from the shores of a water body, towards the inside of the water body, at speeds around 100 mph and if the water depths happen to be shallow in that region, the winds can succeed in pushing the waters further inside, away from the shore.

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If the land under the water body also contains undulating ridges, then the receding waters could get contained within the troughs and can create stretches of dry areas within the water body, especially on top of the ridges.

Once the winds die down, the waters will gush back into that land at a much higher speed.

The time period for the event of the Red Sea crossing is estimated to have been around 1500 BCE.

Based on this Wind Set Down theory, the sea levels then, the Biblical descriptions and other logical analysis, Prof. Nof and Nathan Paldor of the Institute of Earth Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have identified the route that must have been taken by Moses. They have zeroed in on the place where Moses must have crossed the Red Sea safely and how once the winds died down, all the soldiers of the Pharoah would have got trapped and drowned by the parted waters gushing back.

Miracle on Yamuna

Similarly on the night of Krishna’s birth, there was heavy rain, accompanied by gusty winds, thunder and lightning. The Yamuna was also in spate. The gusty winds accompanied by the other conditions described, could well have been an ideal condition for a ‘wind set down’ phenomenon to have occurred there in the Yamuna river too making it possible for Vasudeva to carry the just born Krishna, in a basket, and walk across the Yamuna.

Yamuna, a smaller river then

It is to be borne in mind that Yamuna was a smaller and shallower river then. Sarasvati was a much larger, flowing river then.

Tamas was then a tributary of the Sarasvati, before it turned east to join the Yamuna much later in time.

Even now in the Mathura Agra belt, Yamuna is a shallow river. This is noticeable before summer, when the water is lowest in the river. It is sometimes easy to ford the river then, on foot.

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Dry Bed of Yamuna River

Mystifying Miracles

Krishna is eulogized for the miracles He performed during His childhood as well as later in life. The list is long and the parting of the Yamuna is one of the first few miracles to find place in this list.

From the Red Sea parting study, we see that the parting of Yamuna too has a scientific explanation.

It is possible that over time, with increasing popularity of Krishna as divine, some incidents could have found their way into the epic or other allied texts, legends and practices of the land, in the form of miracles to convey awe of the divine.

It is also possible that over time, in future, as science advances, it could stretch into understanding some of the subtler aspects as well. This in turn could lead to a better understanding of Krishna’s miracles, acts.

Time alone can tell what really happened!

Time alone can tell what will happen!

(The above is an extract from our book – “Historical Krishna”)

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World Thinking Day

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Can we afford to think only for one day a year?

Thinking and Questioning are innate to man every day. Intellect develops through the process of thinking, questioning & seeking answers.

Thinking is known as “Chintan” in Samskrt. Thinking thoughts and expressing them through discussions in collective sittings or camps, called Chintan Shivir or Chintan Baithak, has been a part of our culture and tradition.

How did this day come to be called the World Thinking Day?

The Birthday of Scouting and Guiding founder Robert Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell are commemorated as World Thinking Day by the scouts and guides family worldwide.

                   Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell

Interesting link

It is interesting to note that the Swastika symbol was used by Baden Powell.

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Swastika Symbol in the early Scouts Handy Book

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 Thanks badge issued by the Scouts and Guides under Robert Baden Powell

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The card sent by the Baden Powells

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Robert Baden Powell on the Swastika Symbol

 The Image Swastika finds use in all ancient societies and is still used in India.

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Similarity between Swatika and the spiral galaxy

The word Swastika comes from Su, meaning ‘good’, Asti meaning ‘well-being’ and Ka meaning ‘of’.

Swastika is not just the well-being of health, Swasth, but the well-being of everyone in society, in knowledge, in character, and overall in Nature. Unfortunately, during World War II , Hitler, his people and his armies grossly misused the symbol due to which profound the symbolism of Swastika has been viewed negatively in the last 6 decades.

                    Hitler abused the Swastika symbol. A taboo now

We need to look for its original meaning, its knowledge, for the well-being of society and the world.

Like this, on this World Thinking Day, many other thoughts should be looked at from the right perspective.