Varsha – Why She Comes, When She Does?

India receives its monsoon rain every year in June. This has been happening without fail year after year for the last so many millennia.

Annual Rains in Ramayana times

Even 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 is an annual, regular feature.

Correlation between rain, year and land

Rain, in India, is called Varsha.

The year is also called Varsha.

The land is also called Bharatha Varsha.

So, there is a distinct correlation between rain, year and land.

Varsha, Varsha, Varsha

The arrival of Varsha, the rain, at a regular frequency of once a year, gave the notion of Varsha, the year and the land on which she poured, gave the notion of Varsha, the nation.

The cause for Monsoon in India

Have we ever questioned as to why it rains every year without fail?

What are the forces of nature that brings rain every year to this land?

Have we ever thought what brings us these rains?

To answer these questions, we need to step back a bit and look at not just the landscape of India but look at the world as a whole.

Heat generates wind flow

In the month of May, it is summer in the Northern hemisphere, especially in India, with the average temperature in the inlands of India touching over 45 degrees centigrade. This extreme heat creates a low pressure in the central parts of India as well as over the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.

Similarly, in Northern Africa, in the Sahara desert, the temperatures are also in the range of 45-50 degrees centigrade, due to which there is also a low pressure created there. At the same time, it is winter in the southern hemisphere. The great Australian desert is cooler and hence higher pressure prevails there.

In the case of swirling winds on earth, it is well known that winds always move from a higher pressure region to a low pressure region.

Pressure Zones

The pressure zones are created by heat and cold, among other factors and the winds keep swirling all over the world, trying to neutralize these pressures. Due to this reason, the winds move from cooler and high pressured, Central Australia, in a northwesterly direction, towards the huge Sahara Desert because it is hot and low pressure there.

Ferrel’s Law in action

But, as soon as the winds cross the equator, they change direction and instead of blowing in a northwesterly direction they blow in a northeasterly direction and start approaching the Indian subcontinent, because of which India has been experiencing its bountiful Southwest monsoons every year.

William Ferrel was an American Meteorologist who lived between 1817 and 1891. He developed many theories which explained atmospheric circulations.

Ferrell American Meteorologist, William Ferrel

Ferrel’s Law states that “high pressure systems, as seen from space tend to spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and low pressure systems spin in the respective reverse direction.”

Ferrel Law

Graphical Depiction of Ferrel’s law

This means that, the moment the winds cross the equator or go from one hemisphere to the other, they automatically change direction. Thus, the rain bearing winds, going towards Africa, change their direction while crossing the equator and blow towards India, bringing the monsoon rains to India.

Equatorial Bulge

What is of interest to be noted here is that, the equatorial bulge is believed to be the cause for this change in the direction of the wind flow.

Source of Monsoons

All this shows that the world is One. While the lands may be many, Nature’s way of reaching out is indeed interesting.

Whoever would have thought that the copious monsoon rains, that this land of India receives, starts as dry, hot winds in the Australian desert which pick up moisture in the Indian Ocean, turn direction after crossing the equator, come towards the land of India and then pour out all the moisture as monsoon rains year on year, to make this land a prosperous one?

Do we harness?

What do we do with the waters brought to us by these benevolent clouds, which have travelled all the way from the Great Dessert?

While nature pours a bounty on this land, unfailingly, year after year, do we take the effort of harnessing it for the rest of the year?

We have discussed this in our earlier Rishimukh article – Fill a Pail of Water, in the month of July 2011. The same can also be accessed from our Bharath Gyan website.

Wind churn – Earthly, Solar and Galactic

This churn of winds on the face of the earth is beneficial in bringing rains of our land. Similarly, there is also a churn of solar winds in the solar system and also a churn of galactic winds at a galactic level, which have got their own effects on us.

This we discuss in some good detail in our book, 2012 – The Real Story.

                         2012-front cover 2012-back cover

2012 – The Real Story

As we await the annual visit of Varsha this year, let us marvel at the precise, principled and predictable way of working of Nature.

Let us relish the rains this season and the shower of knowledge. 

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Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan is the 5th Sikh Guru who became a Guru at the age of 18.

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Guru Arjan

He built the base of the Golden temple in 1601 CE and also compiled the sacred Adi Granth, which was in the year 1708, conferred the title of Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh, and is revered as the Holy Book of Sikhs.

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       Guru Arjan and his team compiling the Adi Granth beside the golden temple

Guru Arjan was also a poet and composed 2312 hymns. These hymns were called “Sukh Mani Sahib”. They console our minds and hearts and have a soothing effect on the reader, the listener and the singer.

Guru Arjan composed these hymns sitting on the banks of Ramsar Sarovar.

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Sukh Mani Sahib

The oppression from the Mugals led Guru Arjan to sacrifice his life at a young age of 43 in 1606 CE for which he is reverentially referred to as “Shahid De Sartaj”.

Guru Arjan was sentenced to death by the then Mughal King Jahangir for including Islamic references in the Holy Book. He was made to sit on a hot sheet and burning sand was put on him.

Guru Arjan passed away on 30th May, 1606.

Many years after his death, Guru Arjan’s social, spiritual, and poetic legacy along with the golden temple still stands a testimony to the vision he had for the people.

World Turtle Day

Amphibians

Tortoises and turtles are reptiles. They are able to survive both on land and in water.

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They were one of the early creatures to make the evolutionary shift from living in water to also living on land. A big shift.                             2

Tortoise Turtle – Difference

The major difference between a turtle and a tortoise is that turtles mostly live in water while tortoises mostly live on land. Some of the other differences being,

Difference in Tortoise Turtle
Shell Dome shaped shells Flat shells
Feet Bent legs and short feet Webbed feet with long claws
Diet Mostly Herbivorous Omnivorous
Hatchlings Hatchlings move to mother’s burrow from their nest soon after birth Hatchlings stay in their next on their own for 3 to 4 months
Life span 80-150 years 20-40 years

Tortoise legends across the world

There are numerous legends associated with tortoises across many civilizations.

        Dasavatara

In the sequence of Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Divinity Vishnu, Kurma Avatara, the tortoise incarnation, is the second Avatara, incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu. The first in the 10 incarnations was Matsya, the Fish, which can live only in water. The second is Kurma, a tortoise which can live both on land and water, representing the evolutionary leap.

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Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and supports the hill on His back during the churning of the oceans, Samudra Manthan by the Deva and Asura.

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           Sri Kurmam Temple

There is a temple in Srikakulam district of coastal Andhra Pradesh dedicated to this Kurma Avatara of Vishnu. The temple is called Sri Kurmam. The idol in the temple is not a sculpture designed by man, but a fossil of a real tortoise.

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        Tortoises and Tectonic plates

Indian geological texts also describe the earth as being supported by 8 tortoises.

Here, the analogy of the tortoise stands for the 8 solid tectonic plates on the earth’s crust, over the molten core of the earth, which are constantly moving but very slowly, just like a turtle and its hard shell which covers the soft animal inside.

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          In Indonesia

The architectural representation of this turtle legend can be seen in the old archaeological sites of central Java in Indonesia and the adjoining Bali islands too.

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       American Legend

There is a similar turtle legend that is explicitly expressed in the ancient American legends too, where a turtle dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back mud to create the earth.

Thus, we see that turtles have been revered across civilizations from time immemorial.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin on his study of various life forms, conducted his research on the famous Galapagos tortoise of Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean that live for over 100 years.

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World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is observed every year on May 23rd to raise awareness on turtles, tortoises, and their protection.

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On this day, animal lovers and organizations come together and organize events around turtles and tortoises.

Caring for Turtles

Turtles might not be favourites of people, like dogs, but it is vitally important that we care for this species, one of the ancient creatures of our planet.

Need to protect Turtles

This Turtle’s day, let us take steps to protect this endangered species, by saving the turtle hatchings on the coasts.

International Day Of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is defined as variety and variability in living organisms. From our immediate environment to the whole world, the flora and fauna are intensely diverse.

How many amazing varieties of lives we encounter in our life, from insects, to animals, to plants. Each ecosystem brings with it its own set of creatures, who are dependent on each other.

Every life is dependent on the other for its survival, and are part of the food chain. And, even if one life becomes extinct, then the whole food chain is affected.

Thus understanding of the Ecology of living creature, will help us to understand how vital it is to preserve the Biodiversity.

Biodiversity in India

India has been a richly biodiverse civilization from ancient times, partly because of its diverse terrain. From the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south to the Thar Desert in North West, to peninsular plateau, India is a home to a variety of ecosystems.

Ecology and Biodiversity are integral to the ethos of this land.

This diversity is echoed in our Upanishad, which has the sloka, “Ekoham Bahushyam, meaning, “I am One. I shall become many.” Thus Divinity divided Himself into infinite lives, through the universe.

Shiva Parivar

The concept of Biodiversity and food chain is beautifully depicted through Shiva Parivar, Shiva’s Family.

Shiva has Nandi, bull for his Vahana, vehicle and wears a snake. Parvathi has a lion, Ganesha has a mouse and Karthikeya a peacock.  In real world, the lion considers bull as its prey and the bull fears the lion. Similarly, snake preys on the mouse and a peacock preys on snake. Here we see that the family members of Shiva have Vahana that are by nature antagonistic to each other. This is symbolic of Biodiversity and food chain that are the very nature of Nature.

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Shiva Parivar

4 types of Creatures

In the Mahabharata, Chapter-5, Sanjaya describes to Dhrtharashtra, the types of life, immobile and mobile.

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Sanjaya describing to Dhrtharashtra

 

Three Categories of animals

Similarly, animals were categorized into three.

  1. Vayavya – those of the air
  2. Aranya – those of the wild
  3. Gramya – Those of the village

Ramayana

Ramayana speaks of the biodiverse nature of the forests.

At the time when Rama was leaving for exile, Kaushalya, His mother expressed her fear about His safety, wherein she says,

“May the huge elephants not harm you my dear son, nor the lions, tigers, bears, boars or ferocious horned buffalo.”

At another place, Sita expresses her delight in witnessing the forest, where she refers to lotus ponds, herds of deer, geese and ducks.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine, consists of profound knowledge of Biodiversity. Ayur means life and Veda, knowledge. Ayurveda is the knowledge about life. In Ayurveda, the inter-relationship between living creature and their habitat was establish.

Vriksha Ayurveda, is a branch of Ayurveda that studies the science of flora. In it, various aspects of plant life and forest ecosystems are dealt with. It also describes varieties of plants that have medicinal properties, and are widely used in treatment.

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Arthasastra

Chanakya’s Arthasastra, gave importance to preservation of Biodiversity.

The Arthasastra divides the environment into several regions like,

  • Aranya – Forest Areas
  • Parvata – Mountains
  • Audaka – Wet and humid regions
  • Bhauma – Drylands
  • Sama – Plains
  • Visava  – Uneven lands

Protection of each of these ecosystems, as well as the creature are given prominence in Arthasastra, which specifies penalties and punishments for injuring living creatures.

Jungles to Concrete Jungles

Today, in the name of progress and prosperity, buildings replace trees in most major cities. Water bodies disappear to make way for residential and business complexes. Jungles are slowly giving way for concrete jungles. This has greatly affected the Biodiversity of our planet.

Humans are the Cancer of this planet

A thought-provoking quote from the Hollywood movie, Matrix states:

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply… until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.

Do you know what it is?

A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet”.

International Day for Biodiversity

International Day for Biodiversity is a UN instituted day observed every year on May 22nd to raise awareness on preservation of Biodiversity.

Only preservation of this diversity can save us from the adversity that our planet is facing these days.

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Man, Woman and The Other in India

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Day is observed every year on May 17. Homophobia means “dislike or prejudice against the homosexual people”. Biphobia is “dislike or prejudice against bisexual people”. And, Transphobia refers to, “dislike or prejudice against transgenders”.

Section 377  is an article in the Indian Penal Code, IPC. It is all about what constitutes permitted sexual act in humans.

What has been the ethos of India with regards to this subject that goes beyond sex between a man and a woman?

Delving into the Samskrt language, we find a word Napumsaka. Pumsa means male. There is infact a mantra/ritual called Pumsavana performed in early conception for avana, i.e. to wish, hasten, a pumsa, male progeny. Pumsa denotes the spirit of being a man, masculinity.

Here we see the specific word Napumsaka meaning, “not pumsa”, those who are not fully male either by body or in character, in other words transgenders.

We also come across another word Samalingakamin, meaning those who desire the same gender, in other words homosexuals.

The fact that these words exist implies that such people existed too. If such people existed, then their practices of sex and other aspects would have existed too. Acknowledging them, also acknowledges their lifestyle.

While most languages in their usage have only 2 genders, one comes across 3 genders in prayoga, usage, in Samskrt and other Indian languages. So, it was an accepted fact in the Indian ethos, that besides the two genders, male and female, a 3rd division also exists in reality.

Transgenders were therefore accepted as a 3rd form of humans as Nature expresses itself in many forms.

The 3rd gender have been referred to in India by diff names – Eunuchs in English, Hijara in Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic languages, Jogappa in Kannada, Aravani, Ali or Thirunangai in Tamil. Nangai means womanly and Thiru is an honorific title given to males. Thirunangai means male and female in one body. This word for the transgenders in Tamil Nadu implies that they are not looked down upon.

When did this scenario change in India?

In 1870, the Indian Penal code (IPC) was formulated by the British administrators. In article 377 of the IPC, non heterosexual sex between male and female humans has been classified as “unnatural” and punishable upto a period of 10 years in jail.

Why was it classified as “unnatural”?

In 1870s, it was the Victorian puritan view that was prevalent in medieval Europe. That view was imposed on India through this section 377.

But since then, in the last 140 years, Europe and England have moved on in thought and practice, whereas India has been stuck with an outdated, alien law section – alien to the views of this land, alien to the jurisprudence of this land.

The origins of this thought in England and medieval Europe comes from the Biblical incident of Sodom and Gomorrah wherein it is expressed that the city of Sodom was burnt down by a fiery shower because some of its residents had indulged in homosexual acts.

It is from the name of this Biblical town Sodom that certain types of sexual acts are now called sodomy.

Modern science and analysis have proved that there was a meteor strike in the Alps mountains over 3000 years ago. Rebounding of the meteor parts as they hit the Alps, caused a spray of molten rocks on Sodom. This astral event has now been scientifically analyzed and explained with specific dates. In the wake of this analysis, to link the fiery shower to the act of sodomy of a few in Sodom makes it irrational, unscientific.

We need to now move ahead shedding behind the unscientific as well as Victorian views.

The issue concerning 377 can be viewed at from different perspectives.

It is a bodily fact that a person is born as a transgender. It cannot be expressed as a bodily defect. Mutations are a process by which evolutions evolve.

In the bodily realm, besides the physically noticeable bodily differences, what is physically not seen but is equally potent are the effects of hormone play in a person. The play of hormones is not limited to the stage of puberty but continues through the life. Imbalances in these can give rise to such situations in a person.

The other factor is the mind play. We all know that mind can play a substantial role in determining tastes, preferences, attitude in all aspects including sex.

While the case of physical body variations gives to transgenders, the other cases of hormonal and mental influences tend to take the preference towards homosexuality (gay or lesbian or bisexual).

In modern parlance the homosexuals, transgenders and transvestites have all been brought under the broad term LGBT – Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgenders, to distinguish them as a community different from the heterosexual community.

Fundamentally it denotes a sexual minority of people who vary from a stereotype male or female in their physical body parts, physique, physiology, psychology or preferences. It is a variance that reveals itself in their choice of partners for sex and life.

While the heterosexuals look at LGBT as a deviance, the LGBT community which over the last few decades have found a global voice, express in loud and clear terms, that it is not a deviance but another way of thinking where there is no harm done to other members of the society.

In the traditional Indian view also the personal preferences of LGBT were acknowledged. They also realized that the LGBT community were not harmful to society and were allowed to live their lives as per their preferences quietly. People from the LGBT community were given their lawful share, stake, pangu of village resources. They also figured among the rightful pangudhars, stakeholders in the village.

India had devised its own way of dealing with this community. The LGBT formed cults of their own and intermingled within themselves without intruding on the lifestyle of the rest of the heterosexual society.

The Kama Sutra also contains mention that homosexuality is something that is enjoyed by its practitioners. Narada Samhita, Manusmriti and a whole host of other texts acknowledge the existence of such people and their personal preferences. In a few temples there are sculptures of not just heterosexual couples but of homosexual couples as well. These are strewn all over the land and have been sculpted through the ages.

Literature and art thus showcase existence of homosexuality in ancient India.

These highlight that while heterosexuality is needed for procreation, homosexuality is seen to have been practiced by a minority few, purely for pleasure and solace.

This distinction can be seen in depictions even while dealing with concepts, principles, Tattva.

Everything in Nature including divine forces was attributed a gender – masculine, feminine or neuter.  There are stories of two masculine divinities, Tattva, Hari and Hara, coming together for a purpose – to bring forth Ayyappa, another divinity with their combined qualities, principles.

But here too, inorder to depict the concept of procreation, Hari or Vishnu principle takes the female form of Mohini, as the legend goes. The divinity Ayyappa however is commonly referred to only as HariHara Putra, meaning son of Hari and Hara.

There is another very interesting story in the Mahabharata legend. Where there is a dialogue between Yudhishtra and Bhishma. Bhishma is on his deathbed, on a bed of arrows. This dialogue takes place in the month of January 3066 BCE. Yudhishtra asks Bhishma as to, in sex, who enjoys more – man or woman. Bhishma then narrates the story of a king of a bygone era who had got converted into a woman, lady. In that king’s opinion, it was the woman who enjoyed the sexual act more.

What this brings out is that there were incidents where people of yore did consider changing their gender to enjoy the sexual act.

What is even more interesting is that such a topic was discussed between two men of high esteem, separated by two generations, such as Yudhishtra and his grand uncle Bhishma, on a solemn occasion when Bhishma was on his deathbed. Even on such an occasion, it was not out of the norm to discuss such a matter.

This tells us of the openness with which this subject was discussed.

As the heterosexual community does not make a big noise about their sexual preference, the LGBT community also did not, about theirs. It is only when one group tries to look down upon the other and intrude through laws and punishments, on the other’s right to live their lives as per their choice, do such issues come to the fore and seem larger than life.

In conclusion, the Indian ethos has been an open one where issues of sex, gender and LGBT have been given their due place in discussion and freedom of choice. We too, this day, should discuss and come up with laws that are in tune with the times, with the nature of this land and Nature “herself” to address this issue which perhaps is as timeless as the origins of man and woman.

Sukhdev Thapar

Sukhdev Thapar was one of the youngest freedom fighters that India had and is counted among the three musketeers of Indian freedom struggle, the other two being Shivaram Rajguru and Bhagat Singh.

Born in Lahore on May 15th, 1907, he is known for the Lahore conspiracy case involving the killing of J P Saunders, the deputy superintendent of police, under British rule.

Sukhdev was an accomplice in this assassination, along with Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru that was carried out to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai.

Lala Lajpat Rai was killed in a police assault, for holding a non-violent procession against the Simon commission.

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The other well-known bold act of this young freedom fighter was to set up a small bomb factory against the British. He was arrested for this and in the following trial was sentenced to death, which was carried out on 20th March, 1931 at the Lahore Central Jail.

A valiant life came to an end!

On his birthday, let us pay our salutations to this young freedom fighter who gave up his life at a young age of 24, while fighting for India’s freedom struggle.