Malabar Tsunami – 2018 – eBook

Intense rains have lashed Kerala and Kodagu district of Karnataka in August 2018, causing unprecedented floods and misery across the state. In August until the 16th, the rainfall was 619.5mm, when usually it is 244.1 mm, during this period. Almost all the 14 districts of the state have been effected, by huge waves of flood, on the opening of the over-loaded dams, and has been nothing short of a Tsunami.

Know More: Malabar Tsunami – 2018 – eBook :

Malabar Tsunami

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Dronacharya

On this day Dronacharya awards, which was instituted in 1985, are given away to those achievers in the field of sports.

Great Acharya

Dronacharya was the acharya, teacher of the Pandava and Kaurava.

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Dronacharya

Parasurama as Guru

He had Parasurama as his Guru, from whom he obtained all great weapons, as also the art of using them. Dronacharya soon became one of the foremost teachers in military strategies warfare of his times. He was called to train the royal princes of Hastinapura, the Pandava and Kaurava.

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Parasurama

Guru Grama

He had his teaching centre, between Indraprashtha and Kurusketra. This place through the ages was called Guru Grama, the village where the Guru had set up his training academy. Even in the times of Takshashila, this place was famous in warfare training. Later through times, the word grama was referred to a gaon. This place is today’s Gurugaon, in North India.

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Dronacharya training the royal princes

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Gurugaon

Dronacharya, etymology

How did this acharya get the name ‘Drona’?

Dronam means a pot and Dronar is the one born from a pot. He was called Drona as he was born from a pot, which in modern parlance, can be viewed as a test tube.

Test Tube baby?

Probably he was a test tube baby. His birth, in this land, is counted among those Vichitra Janana, extraordinary birth.

Dehradun, house of Drona

Dronacharya married Kripi, sister of Kripacharya, the royal preceptor of Hastinapura.

Dehradun, etymology

Dronacharya used to live with his wife near a cave in Dehradun, Uttarkhand. The word Dehra is derived from the word Griha, meaning house. Dun, Doon, Dron, refers to Drona, who lived here. Dehradun thus literally means, “the house of Drona”.

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Dehradun

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Dronacharya cave, also known as Tapkeshwar Cave

Tapkeshwar temple

At the cave, also known as Drona Gufa, is located the Tapkeshwar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

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Idol of Tapkeshwar Mahadev Temple in a natural, Dehradun

Ashwathama

Horse voiced

Ashwathama was born to Drona and Kripi near this cave. When Ashwathama was born, he cried like an Ashwa, horse and so he was named Ashwathama, meaning horse voiced.

Chiranjivi, physically immortal

Ashwathama propitiated Lord Shiva and secured many powers, including the boon of Chiranjivi, immortality, from the Lord. It is believed that, Ashwathama lives even today.

In Kurukshetra battle

Dronacharya fought the Kurukshetra battle which commences 22nd Nov 3067 BCE. from the side of the Kaurava army headed by Duryodhana. He was made the commander-in-chief of the army after Bhishma was mortally wounded.

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Dronacharya as commander-in-chief of the Kaurava Army

Img courtesy: Wikipedia

Dronacharya was killed in this battle by Dhrishtadhyuma of the Pandava army.

Dronacharya Award

As he was a great teacher in the field of archery, the government of India, department of sports has instituted the sports award in the name of Dronacharya.

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Dronacharya Award

Even today, when the names of ancient acharya of this land are recalled, the name of Dronacharya is taken with reverence.

More on Dronacharya in our book, Historical Krishna.

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Ayyankali – Birthday

Ayyankali birth

Leader of socially downtrodden

Ayyankali was one of the foremost leaders of the socially downtrodden community who fought for their rights. He undertook many reforms to end the injustice that this community was facing in the society then.

Birth

Ayyankali was born at Venganoor, the present day part of Trivandrum, Kerala in 1863. He was born in a family called Cheramar.

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Ayyankali

Discrimination against the socially downtrodden

At that time, the socially downtrodden were forbidden from walking freely on roads. They were not allowed to take part in normal activities of life as society considered them untouchable.

Fighting against untouchability

Ayyankali began his revolt against the evil of untouchability by bringing together the socially downtrodden to fight against these discriminatory practices in the society.

Meeting Guru

Ayyankali soon met his Guru Ayyavu Swami who was against the caste system. Ayyankali was inspired by his Guru to further spearhead his movement against social discriminations.

Fighting for Education

Fighting for the cause of education for the neglected socially downtrodden children who were not allowed to study in school, Ayyankali started a school at Venganoor for socially downtrodden children.

Raising demands for equal rights

Stepping up his voice for equal rights for the socially downtrodden, Ayyankali called for the boycott of agriculture and farming by the socially downtrodden until certain demand were met. These demands were:

  1. Right to Education for socially downtrodden children
  2. Allowing socially downtrodden to have tea in tea stalls
  3. Resting hours for labourers during their work
  4. Abolishing the in-kind wage system and bringing in cash system.

Inspite of being illiterate

It is noteworthy that Ayyankali carried out all these activities inspite of being an illiterate. It was his impeccable organizing skills that made this possible.

Support from Narayana Guru

As his efforts for bringing the socially downtrodden on an equal platform gathered steam, he received support from many prominent leaders. One of them who assisted Ayyankali in his endeavours on social reforms was Sri Narayana Guru.

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Narayana Guru

Efforts bearing fruits

Ayyankali’s efforts soon began to fructify. In the year 1900, socially downtrodden were allowed to travel freely on public places. In 1914, the educational restriction on the socially downtrodden children was lifted and they were allowed to join schools. The many social restriction on socially downtrodden women also disappeared as people began to accept the socially downtrodden into mainstream society.

Starting Sadhujana Paripalana Sangam

In 1907, Ayyankali started a new association called Sadhujana Paripalana Sangam for the cause of human rights and social justice. Many projects were undertaken by this association for economic and educational growth of the socially downtrodden.

Nominated to Assembly

Ayyankali was nominated to the Travancore assembly in the year 1910.

As a leader known for his great leadership qualities, Ayyankali continued to play a major role in the development of the socially downtrodden in the next three decades of his life.

Ayyankali passed away on June 18th, 1941.

After life Impact

Ayyankali had a great impact on various sections of the society even after his life time. In Kerala, he is considered on the same league as Sri Narayana Guru.

The government of India has released a stamp in his name.

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Legacy still stands tall

In 1980, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi unveiled a statue of Ayyankali in Trivandrum.

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Statue of Ayyankali, Trivandrum                             Indira Gandhi                                           

Just as his statue, the legacy of Ayyankali continues to stand tall among various sects of the society, especially the socially downtrodden community.

The Significance of the Sacred Thread, Yagnopavitham

An interview by – Siddharth Swamy,
Student of Maths & Economics, Trinity College, Dublin

Today, Full Moon, Purnima in the Shravan month is the day when many Indians perform the thread changing ceremony. This is period when the monsoon rain is at its peak. There is a natural Bandhan, Bond between the Sky, which is liked to Father, and the Earth, which is the Mother. The Full Moon brings in fullness.

We bring to you an interaction of an inquiring youngster with D. K. Hari and D.K. Hema Hari of Bharath Gyan, on the relevance of this practice of wearing a sacred thread.

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What is this thread I have been made to wear? It was put on during my Upanayanam. What is an upanayanam?

Upanayanam is a function celebrating the transition from childhood to youth in a boy’s life.

Let us go to the etymological meaning of Upanayanam. Upa means ‘near’ or ‘by the side of’ and nayanam means ‘by the eyes’. Therefore upanayanam denotes being by the side or supervision of a teacher.

Upanayanam is typically performed at the age of 7 years, the time when a child is ready to start schooling. At that time, parents conduct this ceremony and then take the child to the Gurukula, school.

This thread ceremony, also called Brahma Upadesham (Brahmopadesham) is to prepare the child to enter school and the schooling phase of life – Brahmacharyam, one of the 4 Ashrama. They being,

  1. Brahmacharya
  2. Grhastha
  3. Vanaprastha
  4. Sanyasa

The word Upanayanam literally means “to take a person nearer to God and open his eyes of knowledge.”

What is the procedure followed in Upanayanam?

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I have heard people using the terms Yagnopavitham or Upakarman also for this ceremony.

Yagna, besides worship, sacrifice, also denotes commitment to a focused act. So committed, that one sacrifices everything else to ensure this act is accomplished. Pavitham means to cleanse. Yagnopavitham means to cleanse, purify one’s mind as well as intention behind the Yagna, act of commitment – studying in the case of a student.

Upakarman denotes preparation or that activity that aides the start, execution of any mission, it comes from Upa, beside and karman meaning activity.

Upakarma

A group  Yagnopavitham ceremony at the Art of Living Ashram

I was told that this thread I wear will protect me. How can this thread protect me and from what?

On your Upanayanam, this thread is given to you as a sign of committing you to schooling, education. It is a way by which parents tell you that you are now entering a phase where you have to stay fully committed to learning, avoiding all distractions.

The thread you wear acts as a constant reminder and helps you to make sure that you stay committed to the cause you have taken up and also to avoid all distractions, which may come in your wake.

Also, during the upananayanam you would have received the first lesson, i.e., the Gayatri Mantra from your first guru, who is your father. This is the Brahma Upadesham, counsel on the cosmos, from the father. This Gayatri Mantra is to be recited atleast twice a day, at dawn and dusk, the time windows in a day considered to be most conducive to learning.

This mantra is powerful and the vibrations it causes in the body and in the surroundings rejuvenate the body and mind with positive energy keeping them in good health and thus protected.

Is this protection only for Brahmin boys?

No, in older times every child, irrespective of varna/jati (loosely translated as caste in present times) at the start of schooling underwent this ceremony and went to gurukula to study basic veda and other subjects in line with their family profession or aptitude. So this particular investiture is meant for all, not just Brahmins.

What about girls then? Do they not need such protection during their studying age?

Scriptures show how girls too underwent such a ceremony. Perhaps in the medieval period when India came under onslaughts, girls being physically vulnerable, were kept away from schools to protect them from the invaders. With that maybe the number of girls going to gurukula reduced, thereby reducing the practice.

So if I do already know what this stands for and have a sense of commitment to my studies, then do I still need to wear it?

This thread is like a school uniform and gives you a sense of identity. When you wear a school uniform, your mind automatically gets conditioned and constrained  from indulging in acts that do not behoove school going children such as perhaps going to a bar,  discotheque or movies with the uniform on, this thread also conditions the mind and keeps one focused in their mission.

It is not only school uniform, any uniform be it that of a soldier, a policeman or a nurse, conditions one to conduct oneself in a manner specific to the category / institution they represent, when in that uniform. This thread is like that.

In that vain of thought, this helps us to be centered to our commitment at hand.

Similarly, when one gets married, there is an additional thread that gets added to the previous set. This is to condition one to stay on the path of societal norms of a married man who has to look after his family as well as support the community.

Why should he continue with the previous set of thread, now that he is already married and out of school?

The other set is to remind him that in life one is always a student and has to seek knowledge that can help one journey through the various phases of life with ease and relish.

Why do we change this thread every year?

It is to renew our commitment every year, the way people make resolutions every New Year. Since this thread is made from cotton yarn, it needs to be changed atleast once a year from a point of hygiene.

 

 

Hayagriva Jayanthi

Hayagriva Jayanthi

Hayagriva is an Indian divinity who has the head of a horse, Haya. The word “Griva” means neck. It is from this word “Griva” that we get the word “Giraffe” for it has a very long neck.

                                                 Hayagriva Jayanthi1

Vali’s brother Sugriva is said to have had a beautiful neck, griva.

Hayagriva is venerated as a divinity of learning. Hayagriva is an embodiment of Vishnu who is venerated for the powers of learning and education for He restored the Veda in an earlier aeon, Yuga. Hayagriva is a zoomorphic image expressing a concept, tattva of the Indian knowledge system.

Hayagriva denotes the capacity to grasp and disseminate knowledge loud and clear.

Forgotten India: Konark Sun Temple in Orissa (13th Century) has a carving of Giraffe.

 

Raksha Bandhan

The word Raksha means protection and Bandhan means bond. Raksha Bandhan is the mutual protection, Rakhsa that comes with bonding, Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan is the day when this bond, bandhan between the brother and sister is relived, renewed. The festival falls on the Full Moon day of Shravana Masa, August – September, observed all across India.

Raksha, Rakshai

Raksha or protection is often symbolized by tying string around one’s wrist when one visits a holy place, temple or even an holy occasion, even weddings both bride and the groom. The string is tied as a guard against ill health, evil eye and generally for protection. This is called as Rakshai.

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Rakshai being tied

In earlier times, Akshada, unbroken rice, was rolled into a longish piece of cloth, which was used as a band to tie.

Mutual Protection

In Raksha Bandhan, the sister ties the string on her brother. It is not just the brother who promises to protect her, but the sister also prays for the welfare, well being and protection of the brother. It is a mutual bond, band, bandhan, bandhana between the brother and sister.

Woman – The Source of Shakthi

Women are often called weak. In the ethos of India, it is the contrary. Women are looked up to as the embodiement of strength, Shakthi.

Women possess a unique power within themselves, the Sankalpa Shakti, the power of will and determination. With this power – Shakthi, a woman protects.

There are timeless and classic examples of inner strength of women.

Savitri

We have heard the story of Satyavan and his wife Savitri. With courage and intellect, she argued with Yama, the very Lord of Death, from taking her husband away and brought him back to life.

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Savitri arguing with Yama

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Women – An embodiment of Inner strength

Women possess the power of feelings and emotions, and have great inner strength within them. This is the greatest strength that one can have. If one loses one’s inner strength then outward physical strength is of no use. Inner strength here includes  both – the power of the intellect and also the strength of inner will and emotions. A woman possesses the unique and beautiful combination of both of these.

Lady’s vow to protect

Thus on Raksha Bandhan day, it is the lady who takes a vow to protect their brother by tying a sacred thread on their wrist.

There are many stories of well known personalities and even divinities, observing Raksha Bandhan, right from ancient times. This bandhan is not just limited to brother and sister, but also between wife and husband, mother and son, grandmother and grandson, and various other relationships.

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Indra and Sachi – Between Husband and Wife

Shachi, the wife of Indra, tied a Raksha Bandhan on her husband, before he undertook the battle against Asura King, Mahabali.

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Lakshmi and Bali – Between Devi and Danava

In Purana, when Vishnu, in his incarnation as Vamana took away the three worlds from Maharaja Bali, He inturn being pleased with Bali, offered him any boon. Maharaja Bali then requested Vishnu to stay with Him at his palace, in Patala Loka. Devi Lakshmi could not bear the separation from Vishnu, in Vaikuntha. She approached Bali, and tied Raksha Bandhan on him as a brother. When Bali asked Lakshmi what she wanted, she asked him to allow Vishnu to return. Bali accepted this request and Vishnu returned to his abode Vaikuntha.

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Yashoda and Krishna – Between Mother and Son

Krishna in his childhood was upto all kinds of mischief. He was also being attacked time to time from the enemies sent by Kamsa. At this time, Yasoda, Krishna’s mother tied a Raksha Bandhan on Him as protection.

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Krishna and Draupadi

During the battle between Krishna and Shishupala, Krishna injured His finger. Draupadi then tore a strip from her Saree, and tied it around Krishna’s finger, to stop bleeding.

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Kunti and Abhimanyu – Between Grandmother and Grandson

Kunti tied a Raksha Bandhan on her grandson Abhimanyu, before the Kurukshetra Battle.

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Alexander’s wife and King Pururuva

Alexander’s wife, known as Roxana in Greek and Roshanak in North West Indian language, sent a Rakshai, to King Pururuva, requesting Puru not to kill Alexander.

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Rani Karnavati and Mughal King Humayun

Rani Karnavati, the widowed Rajput Queen of Chittor, Rajasthan, sent bracelet as a Rakshai to the Mughal King Humayun in the year 1535 CE, seeking help to defend Choitoor, against the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadurshah, who wanted to capture the Chitoor Fort.

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Maharani Jindan and Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was the king of the Sikh empire, who ruled from Lahore. His wife, Maharani Jindan, inorder to encourage intefaith communication sent Rakshai to Hindu King of Nepal, Jang Bhaadur, in 1849.

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This bandhan was later honoured by the Nepal King, when he gave refuge to Maharani Jinda, after the downfall of the Sikh Empire against the British.

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Rabindranath Tagore popularized Raksha Bandhan

During independence struggle, Tagore made Raksha Bandhan popular, to create a bond of brotherhood and sisterhood between different communities during the tumultuous period of independence struggle. This bond was further utilized during the forcible split of Bengal, by the British, in the year 1923.

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  Unified Bengal Pre-partition

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Young Rabindranath Tagore

One of his poem reads:

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In Odisha

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in Orissa as Gamha Purnima. On this day, the domesticated cows and bulls are worshipped. The cow is given a traditional bath early in the morning and a garland made of fresh flowers is put around its neck.

Thus we see that Raksha Bandhan bond was mutual between man and animals. The bond, bandhan was not only among different relations of humans, but also between humans and animals, in this case domesticated animals, pashu – cows and bulls. Raksha Bandhan was also at this level, and so beautifully brought out in this land of Odisha.

Raksha-Bandhan-Odisha

Through the ages, the concept of Raksha Bandhan has been used across the land in different ways, to suit their times and needs. It is the ethos that bonds, not just the brother and sister, but the time and practices as well.