Kabir Jayanthi

Saint to all

Kabir, the poet Saint lived between 1440 CE and 1518 CE.  Kabir’s life aimed to bring amity among the Hindu and Muslim community. He was one of those saintly personalities, revered by the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities.

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Kabir Panth

Kabir’s philosophy and poetry have influenced many across the world. There is a particular community who follow the legacy of Kabir under the name, Kabir Panth and have made His life and teachings their inspiration. Their numbers are estimated to be around 1 crore.

On His Birth

There are various legends to Kabir’s birth. One says, He is the son of a Brahmin widow adopted by a Muslim weaver family.

The name Kabir is derived from the 37th name of God in Islam, Al-Kabir, meaning “The Great One”.

Kabir’s main occupation was weaving. He was also a philosopher who enlightened people on how to weave through the challenges of life.

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A Disciple of Ramananda

Although, Kabir had an Islamic upbringing, He became the disciple of Hindu Saint Ramananda and was greatly influenced by the Indian thought of Vedanta and Advaita.

It is indeed very interesting to note how Kabir became a disciple of Ramananda.

Kabir knew very well that coming from a Muslim family, He would not be accepted by a Hindu Guru. So, he hid on the path near Ganga river, where Ramananda came to have his bath every day. As Ramananda came to have his bath, he mistakingly stepped on Kabir and exclaimed “Rama, Rama”. Kabir immediately declared that he had received his Guru mantra and that Ramananda should accept him as his disciple. Setting aside orthodoxy, Ramananda accepted Kabir as his disciple.

A devotee of Lord Rama and chanting the name Rama, Kabir realized Rama as the omnipresent divine principle.

A Disciple of Takki

Kabir’s Islamic roots tell that he also had Sufi Pir, Takki of Jhansi as his Master which acquainted him with Sufi philosophy.

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Kabir in his poems and teaching draws around the major principles, symbols and philosophy of both Muslim and Hindu thought. He spoke out against the dogmas of both religions.

Inspired Guru Arjan

His works inspired even the Sikh Guru Arjan, who included Kabir’s teachings in Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh text.

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His major works, His legacy

Kabir works include Kabir Granthwali, Sakhi Granth and Bijak. The main feature of these works are his two line couplets, ‘Kabir-ke Dohe’ which convey His teachings and have inspired many over last few hundred years.

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Kabir in stamps

The life and teachings of Kabir have been recognized since independence in many forms including through arts, cultural events and also through postal stamps.

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Message after death

On his death, there was a dispute between the Hindus and Muslims as to who should have the funeral rights of this saint. But, alas, when they lifted his kafan, only flowers were found. The Muslims buried half the flowers and Hindus, the other half. Thus, Kabir became a symbol of religious unity.

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The birthday of Kabir is recognized as the day of religious amity.

Father’s Day

The third Sunday of June is celebrated as Father’s day.

Initiated by Sonoro

The idea was first initiated by Sonora Smart Dodd in the year 1910.

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Proclaimed by President Johnson

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In the year 1966, after many a tribulations, US President Lyndon B Johnson officially proclaimed Father’s day to be celebrated on the third Sunday of every June.

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Pithru Devo Bhava

In the Indian thought, father is referred to as Divine, Pithru Devo Bhava.

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Pitr Paternal Peter Petra

The word Pitr, meaning father in Samskrt language is etymological similar to the English word ‘paternal’, from which came the word ‘father’. The word is also similar to the European name Peter and the famous archaeological city, Petra in Jordon.

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Ptah

The Egyptian Father God is called Ptah. Here also, the word Ptah is found to be both phonetically and conceptually similar to the Indian word Pitah, meaning father.

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More on this is discussed is our book Creation.

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Father’s name for lineage

In almost all civilizations of the world, their children take on their father’s name or father’s lineage. Even in a matriarchal or matrilineal society, it is the father’s name that is carried forth.

Biological sharing: X and Y

Of the two chromosome, a Father has X and Y chromosomes while the mother has only X chromosomes. A father thus shares both X and Y chromosomes with his offsprings.

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Not just biological

The word Pitr, father is however not be limited to a biological father. Infact the word Father has a more encompassing connotation such as,

• Father to family
• Father to community
• Father to society
• Father to nation

There is a distinctive role for the Father at each of the levels.

Mahatma Gandhi

In case of India, Mahatma Gandhi is referred to as Father of the Nation, for the great role he played in the Freedom of the country.

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God Father

The Italians brought in a concept of God Father apart from the biological father wherein you need a benefactor to progress through life.

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Purusha

Thus, the father is not just a provider for life, but also a benefactor.

In Samskrt, this role is referred to as Purusha. The Sun is Purusha, Father for this Solar System.

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Pitahmahah Brahma

Not only that, even today, the word Pitahmahah in India, is also used to denote Brahma, who is revered as the Father of Creation.

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Bhishma Pitahmahah

In Mahabharata, Bhishma is referred to as Bhishma Pitahmahah, meaning, the great father even though he did not sire any children.

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Encompassing Father

Thus, we see that the word Father has an all encompassing connotation.

On every Father’s day, let us recognize the role that the fathers play in raising his family, for it is the family bond which holds the community, society and a nation together.

Vata Purnima

“Vata Purnima” is a festival that is celebrated in GujaratMaharashtra and Karnataka on a Full Moon day in the month of Jyeshta-June. Purnima refers to the Full Moon in this month.

Vata Vriksha – The Banyan Tree

Vata Vriksha, the Banyan tree is intertwined with the traditions of India from time immemorial. The botanical name for this tree is “Ficus Benghalensis”. It is a tree that grows all over India.

Vat Vriksha

Vata Vriksha, Banyan tree

Vata Purima and Savitri -Satyavan

The legend of Vata Purnima is connected with the story of Savitri and Satyavan.

Savitri and Satyavan were a young married couple. One day while resting, with his head on Savitri’s lap, under a Banyan tree, Satyavan breathed his last. Savitri, a devout wife could feel the presence of Yama, the Lord of death at this moment. When Yama turned to leave with Satyavan’s soul, Savitri with determination, started following Yama, to ask him to return Satyavan’s life.

Savithri Sathyavan story

Savitri debating with Yama

Savitri’s dogged pursuit of Yama and her winning debate with him, made Yama restore Satyavan’s life as a boon to her.

Savitri returned to the Banyan tree, Vata Vriksha and found Satyavan stirring back to life. This Banyan tree, which was a witness to the death defying devoutness of Savitri, came to be associated with the power of faith and perseverance and with longevity.

This event gained popularity through the ages and came to be observed as Vata Purnima festival. For, it was under the Banyan tree, that Satyavan’s life was plucked and later restored. The perseverance of Savitri in a trying circumstance, her overcoming the odds and winning over Yama with wit and thereby getting back her husband to life, is a story that finds resonance with every devout married woman.

Vata Purnima – The Fasting Festival

Praying for a long life for their spouses and a timeless togetherness, women observe a fast and tie a string around a Vata Vriksha on Vata Purnima.

The tying of the string around the girth of the Vata Vriksha is a gesture to symbolize that the bond between the husband and the wife should be as strong as that between Savitri and Satyavan. That their progeny should grow as the roots and shoots of the Banyan too.

Women celebrating Vata Purnima

Vata Purnima celebration by women in India

While the Vata Purnima festival is celebrated in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat to commemorate Savitri-Satyavan legend, similar festivals are also celebrated in other parts of India on other days. For example, the Karadaiyan Nombu is celebrated in Tamil Nadu around March where married women and girls tie a yellow thread around their neck to symbolize a strong, immortal bond between husband and wife.

Vata Patra Sayi

The Vata leaf is found in art forms as a leaf floating on waters with the divine child, Balakrishna sucking His toe in the classic pose of a baby. This depiction of Krishna is called Vata Patra Sayi. Patra means leaf and Sayi, is one who is resting. It comes from Sayana meaning to repose, recline.

Vata Patra Sayi

Vata Patra Sayi

Vata Vriksha, the Tree of Knowledge

The Vata tree also symbolizes knowledge, the timeless knowledge of the land. For, it is under this tree that Dakshinamurthi, the divinity associated with knowledge, imparts knowledge in silence to his four Sishya, disciples.

Vata and Gita

Lord Krishna gave the Gita Upadesa beside a Banyan Tree, Vata Vriskha, in Kurukshetra. Portions of this Banyan tree are believed to have survived to this day. The Vata Vriksha in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra, is believed to be a part of the original tree that was a witness to the Gita Upadesa.

Banyan tree Gita

Banyan Tree at Jyotisar, Kurukshetra

Vata and Nothing

An interesting point to note is that, the seed of such a mighty tree like Banyan is so small and when you break open that small seed, what you see inside is a hollow space. Indeed it is hollow and empty!

Similarly the vast Universe that we see around us too has come from such nothingness, Shunya. Shunya is not literally nothing. It is referred to as there is no point of reference to this tattva, concept in Creation. In reality, this nothing is everything, the source of whole Creation. This nothingness is also referred to as Chit. The sublime consciousness.

The Shunya Vada discussion, takes us there.

This timeless truth was revealed to Shweta Ketu by his father Rishi Uddalaka. This incident is recorded in the Chandogya Upanishad.

Vata Vriksha – A Meeting place

It is under a banyan tree that travellers rest. For, this tree is wide enough to accommodate even a caravan full of travellers and provide shade from the heat that beats down most parts of India. It is during this rest that people are regaled with stories and legends are told and retold across generations, across time.

The Vata Vriksha has been a focal point for the culture of the land.

It has been one of the favoured spots for trading. Traders in India are called baniya. The common name “Banyan” for this tree, originated from the fact that this tree was the meeting center of the baniya.

Vata Vriksha – Tree of Life, Fertility

Banyan tree is a tree that sprouts roots, also from its branches. They grow downwards from the branches, go into the ground, to give rise to an extension of the tree. The Banyan tree is hence also called Nyagrodha meaning that which is growing downwards too. The Banyan tree is considered timeless, for, its aerial shoots spread wide and develop roots that support the spreading branches, enabling the tree to spread far and wide.

This is how the Banyan tree, over time, spreads wide over many acres.

Due to this felicity to propagate far and wide, across time, across generations of trees, the Banyan tree has connotations with life, longevity, fertility and timelessness. In many parts of India, the placenta of a newborn child is buried at the foot of a Banyan praying for its longevity.

With the legend of Savitri-Satyavan, the Banyan came to be connected with timeless bonding between a couple.

In common parlance, fertility which gives rise to a new life, is synonymous with the biological functions in the female gender, a woman. It points to the progeny arising from the union of a man and woman alone.

Fertility concept however, extends beyond, to encompass everything that creates and sustains life such as

  • the land resource which acts as the womb from which grows our food
  • the water resource which helps germinate anything on the land,
  • the seeds that germinate life every season and
  • the cows and other organisms that nourish the soil – in short fertilize the soil.

It is this encompassing nature in Nature that is also to be venerated as fertility – fertility in Mother Nature. The Banyan tree, as the Tree of Life reminds us of this aspect in Nature.

Significance of Vata Purnima

The Vata Purnima fast, not only signifies an everlasting, timeless, strong bonding between a husband and wife, but the association of this fast with the Vata Vriksha ascribes a deeper significance to it.

A message that, the timeless association between the husband and wife, is for the creation of progeny who will take the roots of the family, civilization and mankind far into future.

A message that, fertility that gives rise to life is not limited to that which springs from the womb of a woman alone but encompasses everything in Mother Nature too, which sustain life on earth.

Vata Purnima is the occasion to pray that the thread that binds man and woman as well as the fertility chain, stays timeless, sustained year after year, generation after generation, century after century, millennia after millennia.

K S Krishnan

Dr. K. S. Krishnan is one of the foremost scientists that modern India has produced. He was born on 4th December 1898 into a Vaishnava family in Watrap village of Ramnad district in south Tamil Nadu.

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Education

He had his early education at Hindu High School in Watrap. He was proficient in Tamil, Samskrt and English. He not only read the palm leaf manuscripts, but also wrote on palm leaves daily in his childhood days. He graduated in Physics from Madras Christian College Tambaram, Chennai, in 1918.

First Observer of Raman Effect

From there he moved on to Kolkata which was the centre of science in India in those days. There he came under the tutelage of Dr. C V Raman. He worked along with Dr. C V Raman and was infact the person who first observed the ‘Phenomenon of the Scattering of Light’ on February 28th, 1928. This came to be called the Raman Effect. It was for this discovery that Dr. C.V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1930.

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Noble Prize

Later Dr C V Raman wrote to Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, the then Vice Chancellor of Waltair University in Vishakapatnam,

“If the noble award for physics made in 1930, had been based on the record of the year, 1928 alone, instead of on the entire work, on the scattering of light, done at Kolkata from 1921 onwards, Krishnan would in justice have come in for a share of the prize.”

This written testimonial of Dr C V Raman shows how important the contribution of Dr Krishnan was in getting the Noble Laureate.

Working with Dr Bose

In Kolkata, Dr. Krishnan had the opportunity of working shoulder to shoulder with the greats of his time like professor S N Bose of Bose Einstein Condensate statistics.

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S. N. Bose was later recognized with the attribution of the scientific term, ‘Boson’ for the Higgs-Boson or what has come to be popularly called God Particle in recent times.

Three Awards in Science

After this in December 1928, he moved to Dhaka University for a few years. When he left the university, he bequeathed his gratuity benefits for three awards in science – Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

The award to the students then was a princely Rs 50 per year. These awards are still being continued to students in Dhaka, even after the place passed on from India to East Pakistan and from East Pakistan to Bangladesh.

Friend of Jawahar Lal Nehru

Dr. Krishnan was a close friend of Jawahar lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Nehru described him as,

“He is a great scientist, but something much more. He is a perfect citizen, a whole man with an integrated personality.”

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Nehru used to often invite Dr. Krishnan for personal breakfasts and state dinners, whenever visiting dignitaries came to India. Indira Gandhi used to personally send these invites to him, respectfully addressing him as uncle. Such was the high esteem he was held in the formative years of India.

Head of NPL

When he moved to Allahabad University post independence, Jawahar lal Nehru handpicked him to lead the newly established National Physical Laboratories out of Delhi.

When Nehru offered him the role, the first two times he refused as he did not want the administrative role, but wanted to do research. But the third time, he could not refuse Nehru and became the first head of NPL.

He continued in the position from 1948, when the institution was founded until his death due to a sudden heart attack on 14th June, 1961.

Awards and Recognition

He was honoured with knighthood in 1946, by the British government and with the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 1955. He was a visiting faculty at over 30 international universities. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1940. In 1957, he was the first recipient of the Bhatnagar award for science in India.

Prestigious Posts

UNESCO appointed him as the chairman of the scientific advisory committee.

He was the vice-president of International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1951 to 1957.

A simple man

His achievements are far and wide. For all this, he remained a simple man. To whichever city he went, be it Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai or Dhaka, he used to regularly visit the local temple in the evenings and give pravachan, discourse on the convergence, overlap of science and spirituality. This was unique for a modern scientist who strode at the very pinnacle of modern science.

World Blood Donation Day

Lohini, Loha, Haem, Haemoglobin

Blood is known by the name Raktha in Samskrt. Raktha means nourishment, desire, red and blood. Blood is also called lohini in Samskrt, for, it contains loha, iron. In the Greek language it is referred to as haem for iron. It is from the word “haem” that we get the word “haemoglobin”.

 Heart – “Hrdayam

The blood is continuously circulated in our body by our heart, hrdayam. The very word “heart” traces its etymological roots to the Smskrt word “hrdayam”.

The word “hrdayam” itself is a technical word based on the functionality of the heart.

“Hrdayam”-Give, Take, Circulate

Harathi, means “to take” and from which is taken the syllable “Hr”.

Dadathi means “to give” from which is taken the syllable “da”. The word “Dhana”, meaning “donation”, comes from the same root.

Yathi, Yam means to circulate. The activity of circulation is called Yam.

When we join the syllables, Hr+ Da+ Yam, we get the technically coined word “Hrdayam”, which brings to us the functioning aspect of the heart.

‘Heart to donate blood’

But for the continuous circulation of blood in the body, life would come to a halt.

While the heart represents the aspect of circulation of blood for our body to live, we need to have the heart to give dhana, to donate our blood and ‘circulate’ it among the needy in the society.

In other words, yathi, yam means “to circulate”, for which, “we get in return” harathi, satisfaction and heartful gratitude.

So, hrdayam, heart circulates the blood in our body to rejuvenate us. Those of us who have a heart, hrdayam need to donate, circulate blood and gain satisfaction, gratitude.

 A beautiful blend of hrdayam, both for oneself and the society at large!

With this thought in mind, let us donate blood as frequently as medically permitted, to give life, to rejuvenate our society.

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World Ocean Day

The World Ocean Day was declared by the United Nations on June 8th, 2008, to honour the biggest water bodies of the ‘Blue Planet’. From then on June 8th is annually celebrated as World Ocean Day.

Ocean, major Habitat

Earth is known as Blue Planet due to its vast expanse of water. Oceans and Seas are the biggest ecosystem of this planet. They are a home to varied species of flora and fauna.

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Earth, The Blue Planet

In the Indian language, Ocean is known Mahasagar, meaning “great water body. The word Samudra is also used for Oceans. Sam means collection and udra means water. Samudra meaning a “Collection of water”.

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Sagar, a home to many creatures

Oceans are the major route for international trade.

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Major Shipping Sea Routes

Indian Ocean

India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the South, the only Ocean named after a country. The other oceans being Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean and Antarctic Ocean.

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Indian Ocean

Samudra Manthan

There is an interesting legend associated with the Ocean in Indian legends – Samudra Manthan, the churning of the Ocean.

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                                                                  Samudra Manthan

In the legend of Samudra Manthan, during churning, apart from Amrit, the pot of immortal nectar, many other things also came out of the Samudra.  Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth, emerged from the Samudra, followed by kalpa vrksha, the symbolizing perennial youthfulness, Kamadhenu the fulfiller of all wishes, Hala hala, the  poison and host of other things both beneficial and detrimental.

This expresses to us, as to what we can draw from the Ocean.

Oceans symbolize prosperity and immortality.

Pralaya

It is also the Oceans that create dissolution on earth. There is a continuous cycle of dissolution and regeneration going on in the Universe. The process of dissolution is called Pralaya, when waters-Oceans or fire engulf everything.

Perils facing Ocean

Today, pollution of these water bodies has dwindled many species of fishes and other aquatic creatures. The dumping of wastes in Oceans and Seas is the cause. Many beaches and shores are strewn with garbage. Oil pollution, caused by various offshore drilling accidents, harm marine life and Ocean ecosystems.  We are also trawling away with huge nets the life of Oceans itself.

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Pollution of Seas and Oceans

World Ocean Day

June 8th is observed as World Ocean Day, instituted by the UN, providing us with an opportunity to honour the biggest water bodies of the ‘Blue Planet’.

There are around 1600 Ocean sustenance organizations under the banner of World Ocean Network that come together and organize events on this Ocean day, to raise awareness on Ocean protection. Many educational programs, contests and film festivals are held to this effect.

A day to sensitize ourselves to Oceans and Seas and honour this greatest resource of our planet.

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.