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.


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.


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


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’.


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.


Goddess Durga on a tiger

Lord Ayyappa is also depicted as riding a tiger.


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.


 The Royal Bengal Tigers


The Sundarbans Tiger


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.


Tiger in Jungle book


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.


Poaching still prevalent


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.


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.



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.


South East Asia regions conquered by the Chola

Chola conquered 4 directions

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.


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.


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

Dakshinamurthy – Jupiter Connect – Guru Connect

Jupiter – Brihaspati – Guru

Jupiter is called Guru or Brhaspathi in Samskrt – Brhaspathi from the root Brh meaning biggest or one that is large in size.  Guru denotes weighty, heavy and thereby the power to attract and retain in hold – the reason why a knowledge master who attracts and guides people to stay on a path of wisdom is called a Guru.



It is the same reason why gravity in Samskrt is called Gurutvakarshana which appears to have been the root for the English word “gravity” itself too.

The word gravity has an agnate word in the Samskrt, where it is referred to as Gurutva. In India, the word and concept of gravity has existed as Gurutva and Gurutvaakarshana respectively. The root word Guru denotes ‘heavy, big and influencing’ and Akarshana means, ‘the power of attraction’. The word Guru and Gurutava means to attract. It is the root word for the English word gravity.

Thus Guru, Jupiter has been associated with knowledge.  Our ancient who were in tune with a common thirst for knowledge, had always kept their tryst with Jupiter, their Guru, for knowledge.

More on this planet in our film, “Wonders of Indian Astronomy”.


4 Satellites of Jupiter

If we look at Jupiter, it has 4 main Satellites,

  1. lo
  2. Europa
  3. Ganymede
  4. Callisto


4 Satellites of Jupiter

There is a close connection between Jupiter and Lord Dakshinamurthy.

Dakshinamurthy and His 4 Disciples

In the traditional ritual parlance Shiva is considered a Guru and this is famously symbolized by the Dakshinamurthy form.

Dakshin means the southern direction. Dakshinamurthy is the form of Shiva, as a knowledge giver, one who gives the knowledge of the ultimate Truth, cosmos and Creation that can help man overcome the cycle of birth and death.

Dakshinamurthy is depicted as a young knowledge giver with 4 Rishi –

  1. Sanaka,
  2. Sananda,
  3. Sanathana
  4. Sanatkumara

They sit His at His feet imbibing this knowledge. While Dakshinamurthy is depicted as a young man, the 4 Rishi, who receive the knowledge from Him are older in age. The 4 Rishi ask their questions in silence and receive their answers in the same mode, i.e. in silence.



More on Dakshinamurthy in our book, “Understanding Shiva”.


The 4 satellites of Jupiter represent these 4 main disciples of Dakshinamurthy, while Jupiter is the Guru, Dakshinamurthy.

Jupiter and Dakishnamurty (3)

Vyasa of Veda – Compilation of the Veda, Where and When?

It was at the crossroads of time. It was towards the end of Dwapara Yuga and the start of Kali Yuga. It was the time when King Shantanu, the Kuru king who had ruled Hastinapura ably for years was nearing his end.

The Vedic knowledge that had come that far in time through many millennia prior to their times, was strewn all around and was becoming unwieldy. They were spread all over the land right from Afghanistan to Burma. The Veda Samhita composed by the various Rishi over millennia were also numerous.

It was a huge body both in terms of geographical spread as well as the number of verses. There was a popular saying –

Ananta Vai Vedah,

Veda are endless, infinite.

Also Kurukshetra which had been the region of many prominent Vedic ashrams, that had kept the Vedic tradition alive, was in a state of wilderness as the ashrams had been wiped out in an attack from the near west. The Rishis had relocated themselves from the banks of the river Sarasvati to the banks of other rivers such as the Yamuna and the Ganga.

Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana’s father, Rishi Parasara, who had attempted to consolidate all the 4 Veda and restore Kurukshetra, as the land where the Vedic tradition had flourished, was no more.

Krishna Dwaipayana, who was extraordinarily gifted with skills to learn the Veda even as a young child, committed himself to the cause initiated by his late father, of compiling all the 4 Veda for posterity and restoring Kurukshetra to its glory.

Using his winful ways, he secured the patronage of the Kuru dynasty of Hastinpura to accomplish his mission.

He convinced King Shantanu to perform the Vajapeya Yagna, one among the supreme endeavours along with the Rajasuya Yagna and Ashwamedha Yagna. These were Yagna that could only be conducted by those who had an emperor status as the efforts and resources required for conducting such Yagna were enormous.


To restore Kurukshetra to its original state, Krishna Dwaipyana chose it as the venue for the Vajapeya Yagna, so that it would be cleared and made habitable once again. Since the Yagna would attract many Veda practitioners, Krishna Dwaipayana also used this Yagna as an opportunity to create an assemblage of Rishi and get the Kuru dynasty to commission a project of compiling all the Vedic knowledge that had come that far in time.

He commissioned a gathering of Rishi to compile all the scattered Veda into a structured collection.

On the request of Krishna Dwaipayana therefore, an august gathering of Vedic Rishis from all across the lands was convened, to compile all the Veda into a structured collection and give it a formal body. It was commissioned by King Shantanu, as a formal project, supported by the Kuru kingdom. After the death of King Shantanu soon after this announcement, Bheeshma, the son of King Shantanu, who had taken over as regent on behalf of Vichitraveerya, the son of King Shantanu and Queen Satyavati, provided the necessary support to see this project through.

Under this patronage, Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana embarked on the onerous task of compiling all the Veda Samhita that was available during his times and giving a format, a structure to this body of knowledge. He assumed the role of the compiler-in-chief for this project called the Shrauta Satra, which went on uninterrupted, for the next 12 years in Kurukshetra, thus restoring it back as a Dharmakshetra even much before the Gita was delivered by Krishna to Arjuna before the start of the big, bloody war there, many years later.

Veda Vyasa 1

This region, Kurukshetra can be unambiguously identified with the region around the town by the same name today, in the state of Haryana. This has been made possible due to the identification of the path of the lost river, Sarasvati and the innumerous archaeological sites along its banks – sites which were locations of the flourishing, vedic,  Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization and its various Ashrams.


History of the Veda is therefore not hazy. The details are intrinsic in the ancient texts of the land.  There is clarity on

  • the person who commissioned its compilation – King Shantanu,
  • the compiler in chief – Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana,
  • the benefactor who saw this project through – Bheeshma
  • the time frame when it was carried out – after the death of King Shantanu,
  • the duration for which the compilation went on – 12 years,
  • the geography for the assemblage of the vedic scholars who compiled it – Kurukshetra,
  • the purpose for this effort of compilation – structuring and preservation of the Veda.

This was the grand act of Veda compilation, for which Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana was bestowed with the title “Veda Vyasa”, the compiler of the Veda and the Kurukshetra region came to shine again as Dharmakshetra, the region which was the source of Dharma, in the form of Veda, the guide to knowledgeable living.


The name given to Krishna Dwaipyana on his birth, had two parts – Krishna denoting “one with a dark complexion” and Dwaipayana meaning “the island born”. Krishna Dwaipayana has been one of the most erudite sons of India who has enlightened humanity with his act of compiling the Veda.

The Veda have gone through such compilations periodically and each time the one who takes on the onus of collecting and putting them together for their times, is called a Vyasa, meaning compiler. Krishna Dwaipayana was the 28th such Vyasa. Each Vyasa compiled it into a body, for the needs of their times and future.

Using astronomical data embedded in the Mahabharata itself, we are able to date the Kurukshetra war to 22nd November 3067 BCE. From the narrative in the work and other corroborating works, we can draw a broad chronology of major events in the Mahabharata as follows.


This chronology indicates that Bheeshma, the grand sire of the Kuru dynasty must have been about 90 years old at the time of the Kurukshetra war, i.e in 3067 BCE.

It also indicates that Bheeshma must have been between 16 and 33 years of age at the time of King Shantanu’s demise. It was during this period, that on behalf of the Kuru dynasty and King Shantanu’s promise to Krishna Dwaipayana, Bheeshma patronized the compilation of the Veda by Krishna Dwaipayana and the assemblage of Rishi at Kurukshetra.

Veda Vyasa 2

From these milestone events, we can fix the period in Indian history when this monumental act was last undertaken by Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana, as between 3141 BCE and 3129 BCE – about 5100 years ago.

What comes out very clear in all this, is the single minded commitment of Krishna Dwaipayana – Veda Vyasa, towards the preservation of the Veda. The whole compendium of Veda as we have it today, is because he gave it a form, a shape and a technique of storage that has survived the onslaught of time and has been recited by generations of Vedic scholars since then.

At the end of this compilation, Veda Vyasa and team gave us the Veda which had 1130 Shakha, recensions. Today, we are left with only 10 Shakha that can be traced. 1120 Shakhas have been lost in the passage of time.


These 10 too seem to be struggling for survival.

Knowledge always needs redaction ever so often to keep it current with the state of the civilization.

India, the land called Bharath, had recognized this aspect as evident from the fact that the Veda itself had gone through so many redactions.

Little wonder, since its name Bharath denotes a land where people relish knowledge. Bha means knowledge and ratha denotes one who relishes knowledge.

Guru Poornima

Guru Poornima festival is celebrated every year around July-August.

It is the Poornima, full moon day, on which we pay our obeisance to our Guru and through him to our Guru Parampara of this land, this civilization. This civilization has its ethos coming down to us over the last five thousand years or more, not because of the kings who ruled or administered this land, but primarily because of the various Gurus who came generation after generation, in different parts of this land. Gurus who have nurtured the civilization, given solace to the troubled minds and who given a continuity to the ethos of this land.

Why do we celebrate Guru Poornima, in the monsoon months of July – August?

The answer to this question, is embedded in the question itself, as is, in many of the questions of this land. India is a monsoon fed land and in the four months from June to September, the rain spreads all over the land. This heavy rain during these four months makes it difficult for people to travel from one place to another. This aspect of the annual rains, perforce makes one stay put in one place. This feature of nature was used by the various Gurus, through the ages, through the land to observe their Chaturmasya vrata.

What is this Chaturmasya vrata?

The word Guru comes from the Samskrit root meaning “to attract”, “to draw.” It shares the root with the word Gurutva meaning Gravity or the attraction force of any body.

A Guru draws people with his radiant knowledge and soothing words of wisdom.

rishi with student

  Guru with disciples

A Guru by his Dharma, radiates light and knowledge, to the people he meets.

A Guru’s Dharma in the Indian civilization is also to travel regularly from one place to another, sharing his knowledge regularly with the common folk of the land. This work of the Guru entails that he travels continuously. During the monsoon season, as we have already discussed, because of the heavy rains it becomes very difficult for them to travel from one place to another.

Given this, our Guru Parampara has been designed such that, for these four months, the Gurus stay in one place. During this lengthy stay at one place, they read from the voluminous literature of the land, meet the locals and enhance their own knowledge. It’s an annual, compulsory sit-down and upgradation of one’s knowledge.

After this annual study period, the Gurus are rejuvenated to travel once again through the land, to share their knowledge for the remaining 8 months. This study period is known as Chaturmasya period.

With the passage of time, this 4 month study period came to be reduced to a 4 Paksha study period. A Paksha is a 14 day period between a full moon and a new moon. With the passage of time it thus settled down to a 2 month period.

The land of India has been very fortunate to have a continuous series of prominent, well educated and noble Gurus.

Of all the Gurus, who can be called as the primary one? A very difficult question indeed!

If we look back at our civilization, the one Guru who has probably contributed the most, by far, is Veda Vyasa. Veda Vyasa as the name itself suggests compiled the knowledge available then, 5000 years ago, into 4 VedaRig, Sama, Yajur, Atharva. As if this one task is not enough achievement for a person’s lifetime, Veda Vyasa also went on to compile the 18 voluminous Purana, so that the legends of the land, along with the associated morals of right living, could come down to us, generation after generation. After having accomplished these two colossal tasks, he then went on to write the autobiography of his family, called “Jaya”, which over the years has come down to us as the Mahabharata epic.


                                                                      Veda Vyasa

For a person whose contribution is truly gigantic, he is considered as one of the great Gurus of this land and Veda Vyasa is propitiated to, in the Guru Poornima prayers. As, Veda Vyasa has given us the Veda, Purana and Mahabharata ,which between them, form the major portion of the Indian literature, he is  but naturally, revered as one of the greatest Gurus of this land. Given this fact, when we conduct our Guru Pooja, while we pray to all the Gurus of the land, the place of importance, primacy, is given to Veda Vyasa.

With this understanding of the concept, the purpose, the reason, for celebrating Guru Pooja, Guru Poornima, Chaturmasya, let us all read some aspects from the Indian knowledge system, understand a bit from the vast reservoir of knowledge and see how it can be applied in our lives.

This could be our fitting tribute to our Guru and through him to the Guru Parampara of this glorious land.

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.


Kargil on Map



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.


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.


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.


Indian Soldiers attacking the intruders


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.


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.


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.


LOC Kargil





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.

Ashada Ekadasi

Ashadi-EkadashiAshada Ekadasi, also known as Maha Ekadasi, Padma Ekadasi and Devpodhi Ekadasi is observed on the 11th lunar day of Indian month, Ashada.

This day is especially significant to the Vaishnava community, as Lord Vishnu enters into Yoganidra on this day, at the Ksheer Sagara, Ocean of Milk.


Lord Vishnu in Ksheer Sagara

This Ekadasi is of great importance at the Vitthala temple in Maharashtra. People from all walks of life from many parts of Maharashtra and other parts of India too, converge in Pandharpur today for a nightful of singing prayers to Lord Vishnu.

One of the most popular forms of Vishnu worshipped in the Maratha land is that of Vithoba or Vitthala. The most famous temple for Vithoba is in Pandharpur. Pandharpur has thus been one of the main religious sites of Maratha land since ancient times.


Lord Vitthala at Pandharpur Temple

Vitta means “brick”. When Vishnu appeared in front of His devotee, His devotee was busy caring for His parents. He offered Vishnu a brick and asked Him to wait on it till he could return after tending to his parents. Vishnu stood on the brick and the whole moment was frozen in stone as an idol.


Devotee offering brick to Lord Vishnu

Vithoba, Vitthala is the name given to Vishnu standing on a brick waiting for His sincere devotee to return.

In the famous Aarti of Vitthala in Marathi, it is said that the Lord has been standing for 28 life spans, waiting for His devotee.

Pilgrims from Pandharpur have travelled far and wide from Kashi to Rameshwaram spreading this story of the devoutness of God to His devotee. Note, it is devoutness of God to devotee too and not just devoutness of the devotee to God alone.

Such a message is singular to Indian thought where it is not for the devotee to fear God but to realize divinity and live with the divine forces in a state of togetherness and mutual reverence for each other.