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.

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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.

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

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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’.

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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.

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Goddess Durga on a tiger

Lord Ayyappa is also depicted as riding a tiger.

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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.

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 The Royal Bengal Tigers

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The Sundarbans Tiger

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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.

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Tiger in Jungle book

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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.

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Poaching still prevalent

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Thai painting shows Chola soldiers invading Kedah( Malaysia) and using fire throwers against those Siamese defending themselves inside fort

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.

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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.

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Kargil on Map

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Kargil

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.

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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.

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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.

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Indian Soldiers attacking the intruders

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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.

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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.

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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.

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LOC Kargil

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Dhoop

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Lakshya

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.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian Freedom fighter who played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle.

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Bal Gangadhar Tilak

On this day, two other freedom fighters Chandra Shekhar Azad and Subramaniya Siva, also have their birthdays.

Chandra Shekhar Azad

Chandra Shekhar Azad, born on 23rd July, 1906  was an Indian freedom fighter, who reorganized the Hindustan Republican Association with the name Hindustan Socialist Republican Army.

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Subramaniya Siva
Subramaniya Siva

Subramaniya Siva was a contemporary and co-fighter, with Subramaniya Bharati, the poet cum freedom fighter and V O Chidambaram Pillai who started Swadeshi Shipping Company. He was a writer cum activist.

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Subramaniya Siva

 More on these freedom fighters in our book, Brand Bharat.

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“Lal Pal Bal”

The Trio of “Lal Pal Bal” were forerunners of the freedom struggle much before the times of Mahatma Gandhi. Lal was Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bal was Bala Gangadhar Tilak from Marartha, and Pal was Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal. They came from different corners of India and asked for Swaraj in united voice.

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Lal Bal Pal

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Tilak’s Birth and Education

Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 at Ratnagiri village of Maharashtra. His father was a Samskrt teacher.

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Birth Place of Tilak

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A first cover of Tilak’s Birth Centenary issued in 1956

Tilak was among the first generation of Indians who secured a graduation.

Marriage

In 1871, Tilak married Satyabhamabhai. He began teaching mathematics at a private school.

Selfless Service

According to Tilak, spirituality was not divorced from worldly life. He got his inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, which he believed taught selfless service to humanity.

He said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation my highest religion and duty.”

Later he went on to write a commentary on the work called the Bhagavad Gita Rahasya.

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Deccan Education Society

Making social service the goal of his life, Tilak founded the ‘Deccan Education Society’ along with his college friends in Pune, with the aim of improving the quality of education in India.

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Deccan Education Society, Pune

Joing INC

Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890 and became a part of the Freedom struggle. His main aim was to unite the people against British. He worked with Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the Home Rule Movement.

Lokamanya’

He was soon conferred the title of ‘Lokamanya’, Loka meaning, ‘world’ and Manya, ‘acceptance’, as he was accepted by all sections of the society as their leader.

Father of the Indian unrest movement

He was called the ‘Father of Indian unrest movement’ by the British for his successful attempts in uprising the masses towards freedom.

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‘Bal Pal Lal’

Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, two other freedom fighters, Bal Gangadhar Tilak became a part of the trio who were collectively nicknamed, ‘Bal Pal Lal.’

Celebrating Ganesha Utsav

In 1894, Tilak called for celebrating the domestic Ganesha festival as public event. His intention again was to unite people through the fervour of the festival.

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Tilak started Ganesha Utsav

Swaraj is my birth right’

In 1897, Tilak raised the clarion call,

“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.”

This slogan is ingrained in the Indian consciousness even to this day. A stamp has been released by the Government to this effect.

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Swaraj Stamp

Tilak’s call intensified the yearning for Swaraj from the British, in every common man’s mind as well as collectively in the entire population of the land. It became a turning point of our Freedom movement.

 In 1905, following the partition of Bengal, He encouraged the Swadeshi and Boycott movements.

As a journalist

At this moment, he also began his journalistic career by founding the Kesari newspaper. Tilak opposed many policies of British by publishing strong worded articles in his paper. Kesari became the voice of the freedom fighters.

Kesari newspaper

Authoring Books

Tilak was sent to jail for carrying out anti-British activities. Here, he spent his time in writing the commentary on Bhagavad Gita. He also authored a book called “Orion, or the antiquity of the Vedas”, which is a research on the antiquities of the Veda.

In this book, which he wrote in his prison cell, he writes about the knowledge in the Veda about the galaxy, the galactic arm, the position of our sun in the galactic arm, the constellation of Mrigashirsha in this arm. Through these he tries to fix probable dates when this knowledge could have been composed on earth in the form of Veda.

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Gandhi’s Guru

All in all, Tilak paved the way for Mahatma Gandhi, as the momentum of his activities helped Gandhi to start his non-cooperation movement. In this regard, Gandhi considered Tilak his Guru.

Tilak passed away on August 1st, 1920 in Mumbai. A true devotee of Bharath in true sense of the word.

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Last words of Lokmanya Tilak on verdict of Jury in 1908, is on plaque outside Central court of Bombay High Court

Funeral procession of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

 

National Broadcasting Day

National Broadcasting Day is observed in India on 23rd July. It was on this day in 1927, the Indian Broadcasting Company started its Radio Broadcasting from Bombay. This was the first organized broadcasting in India, inaugurated by Viceroy Lord Irvin in Bombay.

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Akashvani

In the month of September of 1935, broadcasting began in the state of Mysore with the name Akashvani. This broadcasting was carried out by Dr. Gopalaswamy, a Professor of Psychology at Mysore University, with a 30 Watt transmitter from his home.

The Delhi station was inaugurated on 1st January, 1936, from its studios at Alipur Road.

AIR

The name All India Radio (AIR) was adopted by the Indian Broadcasting Company on June 08, 1936, and from then on the name has stuck.

Today, AIR is India’s National Broadcaster, being its premiere National Public Broadcaster. It is among the largest broadcasting companies in the world, with programming in 23 languages and 146 dialects. AIR’s home service comprises of 420 stations, which are spread all across the country, covering nearly 92% of the country’s area and 99.19 % of the total population.

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AIR logo – Akashvani

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AIR Broadcasting House

We all are familiar with AIR caller tune that has been heard by millions from the time it was composed in 1936. It was composed by Walter Kaufmann, a Jew refugee, who found a haven in India, from the Nazis.

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Walter Kaufmann (middle)

So, what exactly is Broadcasting?

Broadcasting, Unicasting and Multicasting

Broadcasting

As per the simple definition, Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video, to audience at varied locations through electronic mass communication. Radio and television are examples of Broadcasting. In short, it is One to All transmission.

Audio, Visual, Audio-Visual

Broadcasting content may be,

  1. Audio
  2. Visual
  3. Audio – Visual
Unicasting

This is in contrast to Unicasting, where the transmission is One to One, as in the case of telephone and telegraph. It is a One to One transmission

Multicasting

In this tech savvy age, Multicasting has become popular with the computers and internet, where by One to Many communication is possible, simultaneously, over a network.  In other words, it consists of One to Many, and Many to Many transmissions.

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Dakshinamurthy and Broadcasting

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

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Dakshinamurthy

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 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.

This brings forth to us that subtle knowledge cannot be expressed in words, but is imparted to the knowledge seeker in subtler meditative forms.

This legend of Dakshinamurthy highlights this subtle form of Broadcasting, Multicasting, in ancient times.

Similarly, there are many instances of Rishi, Sadhu, communicating their message and noble thought to multiple people, at once through silence.

More on Dakshinamurthy and His form of communication in our book and film, “Understanding Shiva”.

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Suta Romaharshana

Suta Romaharshana spoke 18 Purana from Naimisha Aranya forest, to 88000 Rishi assembled there, by banks of Gomti river.

How was it then possible, without a public address system to broadcast to an assemblage of  88000 Rishi, sitting over a large assemblage, who hearing the Purana, recording it and taking it to their native places, shared this knowledge with the local populace?

This would have been through siddhi and strength of mantrashabdh, for however loud the voice of Suta might have been, to reach out to such large gathering requires a medium beyond the presently known mediums of modern science.

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Suta Romaharshana broadcasting to the Rishi

Next Big Challenge

Unravelling this aspect of subtle broadcasting would be the next big challenge, before science. On this National Broadcasting Day, let us explore this form of passing information, so that our scope of communication is broadened even further.

Alexander Kadakin

Alexander Kadakin was the Russian ambassador to India, between 1999 and 2004, and between 2009 until 2017, when he left his mortal coil. He was the longest serving Russian ambassador to India.

Kadakin was a great admirer of the Indian culture, cuisine, and its great and continuous history. He was fluent in Hindi, and was much appreciated for his knowledge about Indian society, and ethos. He had a keen interest in Indian films and had many books from India, including Panchatantra, Hitopadesha and Jungle book, as his childhood passion.

It will be apt here to quote his own words, on his passion for India.

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Alexander Kadakin

“The other day, in Darjeeling, an idea struck my mind that the discovery of India is like scaling a Himalayan summit. The higher one ascends, the more the horizon broadens, and only at the top the breath-taking panorama unfolds in a short-lived drama of the morning. India has entered my life as a second homeland. It has become my Karma Bhumi, because I worked here for so many years, my Gyana Bhumi, because I have learnt a lot form here, my Tapa Bhumi (especially in the hot season), but most importantly – my Prema and Maitri Bhumi, because I have given a half of my heart to India and because me personally   and the new Russia, which I have the honour to represent as Ambassador for the second time, have millions of good friends here.”

Kadakin plays on the word Tapa Bhumi, which he uses as a pun, to indicate the hot nature of climate in the Indian sub-continent. Tapa, which means penance, also means heat. This in short shows how well he understood the country and also its language-Hindi.

Kadakin was known by his pet name Shasha, among his admirers in India. Shasha is a name of the Moon divinity, Chandra Deva, in India.

So, while his pun on Tapa refers to the heat of the sun, his pet name indicates the coolness of the moon.

Kadakin first arrived in India on the “rainy day” of August 9th 1971, as he himself describes, when his country and India signed a landmark agreement of Indo-Russia friendship and cooperation treaty. This was the treaty was useful during the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971.

He was also in India as the Deputy Chief of the Mission, in 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up.

Later on he served as ambassador of Russian Federation to India in 1999, and served two terms.

His association with India started in 1971 and went on till 2017. A 46 years long friendship.

Kadakin passed away in New Delhi on 26th January, 2017, on the occasion of India’s Republic Day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then described him as a “glorious son of Russia, and a great friend of India.

A friend he was, as played a key role in furthering the Indo-Russia diplomatic relations.  He was posthumously awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 2018, the third highest civilian award in India.

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Padma Bhushan

The Chanakyapuri road in Delhi has been named after him, in appreciation of Kadakin, who regarded India as his Karma Bhumi and Prema Bhumi.

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A true Indophile indeed!

National Flag Adoption Day

National Flag Adoption Day is celebrated every year on 22nd July, the day when the flag in its present form was official accepted by the Constituent Assembly in 1947, as the Indian National Flag.

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Indian National Flag

The word flag in English means something that flaps in air. This word has its origin from the German word, Flagge, and dates back to the days of Tutons.

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Some Vexillologists are of the opinion that China is originally the birthplace of the flags, and the first mention of it is dated to 1122 BCE.

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In Ramayana

India has had a long history of flags. In ancient India, each kingdom had its own flag, own identity.

In Samskrt, a flag is known as Dvaja.

In the Ramayana, we have Surya Vamsa Dvaja, of Rama’s dynasty, dating to 5100 BCE.

In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse-74-36 and Kishkinda Khanda – 16-37, there is a mention of flag being hoisted to celebrate the New Year on Ashwin Purnima. In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse – 77 – there is another mention of Flags being defaced due to heat and showers.

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Surya Vamsa Dvaja

The chariots of kings, princes and soldiers hosted their own individual flags. Infact during the war, the flag of the chariot helped the rival army identify a particular soldier.

In Mahabharata

Arjuna’s flag had the insignia of Hanuman, a Vanara, through which the other soldiers identified His chariot during battles.

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Arjuna’s Dvaja with the image of Hanuman

Similarly Bheeshma’s flag had the insignia of a Tala, Palm tree and 5 stars.

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Bheeshma’s flag

Dronacharya’s flag had the insignia of Vedika – an altar, Deer Skin, Kamandalam – a Pitcher and a bow.

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Dronacharys’s Flag

Duryodhana had a snake in his Dvaja, a Sarpa Dvaja.

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Duryodhana’s Flag

For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.

Divinities too

In this land, each Divinity also has its own flag.

The Dvaja of Indra, the King of Deva is mentioned in the Rig Veda, which dates to earlier than 3100 BCE.

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A Sculpture of Indra which shows his flag

In ancient times, Indra Dvaja Mahotsava was celebrated for 4 days after every successful military campaign.

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Dvaja Pata

Of the 8 modes of recitation, Ashta Vikriti that evolved in this land, Dvaja Pata is one.

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Part of Temple Architecture

Dvaja, a flag has been a part of the temple architecture from time immemorial. Dvaja stamba can be found in all temples.

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Dvaja Stamba

Flag represents Pride and Identity

For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.

The Manusmrithi 9.285 says,

“Damage to dvaja is sacrilegious and the offender has to repair it or pay damages of 500 pana.”

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In pre colonial era

There were a varieties of flags associated with different empires in the pre colonial era.

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In colonial era

In the 18th and 19th century, India was under the British rule. Every Indian state had its own flags as it has been having from time immemorial.

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Flag of British India

Star of India

After the First War of Independence in 1857, the idea to have a common flag for India was mooted by the British. The first group of flags based in British symbols was called the star of India.

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Evolution of flag

In the 20th century, as the freedom struggle gained momentum, many flags were created by Indian freedom fighters with symbols unique to Indian identity.

Vande Mataram flag

The partition of Bengal in 1905, gave birth to a new flag, called the Vande Mataram flag, aimed at uniting people of different caste, creed and community.

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                Vande Mataram flag, 1906

Flag modified

In 1907, Madam Bhikaji Cama tore her sari and unfurled it as a flag at Stuttgart Congress, Germany. The design and colour of her saree was adopted in a modified Vande Mataram flag, with a few changes.

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Madam Bhikaji Cama

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Modified Vande Mataram flag, 1907

Mahatma Gandhi’s Flag

In the year 1921, Gandhiji asked a person from Andhra Pradesh by name Pingali Venkayya, to design the flag.

Venkayya designed this flag of 3 colours, white on the top, green in the center and red at the bottom, with a Charka, a spinning wheel in the middle. It was popularly known as the Charka Flag.

This Flag was first hoisted on December 31, 1929, at the Lahore Congress Session on the banks of River Ravi, in Punjab, by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was under this flag that Gandhiji declared our goal of freedom movement as “Purna Swaraj”, complete independence.

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It was this flag, designed by Pingali Venkayya from Andhra, which became the basis for the Indian National Flag later. The Charka changed into Dharma Chakra – wheel of Dharma and the red colour at the bottom became saffron at the top,  with white in the middle and green at the bottom.

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Pingali Venkayya with Mahatma Gandhi

Swaraj flag

In 1931, The Indian National Congress adopted an official flag called the Swaraj flag which was used until 1947. The flag had three colours representing all the three main communities with a Charka in the middle. The aim was to unite all communities.

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Flag of Indian National Congress

Flag of Azad Hind

The Azad Hind movement under Subhas Chandra Bose which represented the provincial government of a free India had their own flag from 1942 to 1945.

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                                           Azad Hind Flag                                   Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

From Charka to Chakra

Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji

Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji from Hyderabad, was an Indian Civil Service officer in the Prime Minister office in 1947.

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  Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji

She designed the present Indian National Flag with Chakra, from the Charka flag that Pingala Venkayya had earlier designed.

The Charka was replaced by Ashoka Chakra in the centre.

The Indian national flag

Before Independence, a committee was formed under Dr. Rajendra Prasad to decide upon independent India’s National Flag.

This Chakra Flag was approved, accepted and adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, and it became the official flag of the Dominion of India on 15th August 1947.

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      Dr. Rajendra Prasad

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Indian National Congress Flag

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Indian Flag

Tryst with Destiny

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave a famous speech, Tryst with Destiny, about the Indian flag, on India’s First Independence Day – 15th August 1947.

He said,

“This flag that I have the honour to present you is a flag of freedom, not only for ourselves, but for all those who see it.”

“The flag represents a message of freedom and comradeship, a message that India wants to be friends with every country of the world”.

“This flag is of Indian independence.”

“Behold it is born. It is already sanctioned by the blood of martyred youths.

I call upon you gentle man, to raise and salute this flag of Indian independence.

 In the name of this flag, I appeal to all lovers of freedom, all over the world,

 to cooperate with this flag in freeing 1/5 of the human race”.

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Nehru giving the historic speech

The 1st Indian National Flag hoisted on 15th August, 1947 at Fort St George. Chennai

Accepted by all

The flag satisfied the four major communities, namely Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist, as each of the three colours, saffron, white, green and the symbol Ashoka chakra, represented the respective communities.

Colours and Chakra Represent our ethos

Saffron

This colour has denoted Sacrifice. It denotes the sacrificing mentality of service, Seva, which was exemplified by the Sadhu and Rishi of this land, who had sacrificed personal comfort for the larger benefit of the world and its inhabitants. This saffron colour has been associated with these Sadhu and Rishi from timeless eons. Over time, it therefore has also come to be associated with Spirituality and the Hindu religion.

White

This colour in the flag stands for Peace, the principle which India has stood by from the time that the Veda were first composed, for the Veda conclude with the Shanti Mantra Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti – Let Peace Prevail.

Green

This band stands for the fertility and prosperity of the land, which India had in abundance.

Blue Chakra

The blue chakra, called the Dharma Chakra in the centre, denotes the qualities that govern the people and society of this land.

The tricolor flag of India thus conveys an image of a flourishing, prosperous, peace loving, friendly nation with people who abide by the principle of Dharma and are ever ready to be of help to all.

These are the basic reasons for the choice of these colours in the Flag.

Apart from this, these colours have inspired various thinkers and poets to ascribe further meanings for the tricolor, from the point of view of the needs of the times.

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Colours of Indian Tricolur flag seen displayed in Nature

Source – A picture taken from Fort Ajinkyatara, Dist- Satara, Maharashtra – popular in social media

International Chess Day

Chess is a game that India gave to the world. It was called Chaturanga in India because it comprised of 4 arms of the army – the infantry represented by the Pawn, the horse cavalry represented by the Knight, the elephant represented by the Rook and the chariot represented by the Bishop.

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From Ramayana period

While the antiquity of Chaturanga lies in the mists of time, some of the legends suggest that this game was played even during the time period of Ramayana. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, the king of Lanka, is said to have played a game of war movement strategies.

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Mandodari and Ravana playing chess – An Artist Impression

A Sindhi Legend

Chaturanga has been in India for a very long time. There is an interesting legend from Sindh to this end.

Rishi Shashi took the 64 squares of the chess board to the then king of Sindh, Raja Bhalit. He asked the king to give him 1 grain for the 1st square and double it to 2 grains for the 2nd and double it to 4 grains for the 3rd, and to repeat it and double it to 16 grains for the 5th square.

                          
          Raja Bhalit                        Rishi Shashi
Rishi Shashi                                                Raja Bhalit

The king, considering this to be a childish request, conceded to this request. Little did he realize that by the 16th square, all the grains in his granary had to be put forth and by the 24th square, all the grains from his land had to be bequeathed to the Rishi.

Chess1Chess2

               Chess3Chess4

This incident became the talk of the kingdom and the popularity of the 64 square game spread far and wide.

The Persian Connect

This game was then taken to Persia during the reign of King Cosroe 1 Noshirwan Adel of the Sasanian Dyansty who ruled between the years 531 and 579 CE.

The king who introduced Chess is named in Persian sources as Deva Sharma.

View image on Twitter

An ancient Persian painting depicts an Indian ambassador (shown in dark skin) introducing Chess to Persians in the Pre Islamic Sassanid court.

As a reciprocatory gesture, King Cosroe sent the Persian game Nard to India.

One of the distinct features that the modern game chess has with Persia is the final move in the game of chess, ‘Checkmate’, which comes from the Persian word, “shah Mat”, meaning ‘the king is dead’.

king

Vedanta Desika

Another interesting reference to Chess can be taken from South India, in Kancheepuram. About 750 years ago, there lived a philosopher, poet par excellence called Swami Vedanta Desika. He composed two verses with each verse consisting of 32 Aksharas.

Chess board as a base on which 64 aksharas (letters) were laid one each on each square, was one such type of his composition. The cipher was the movement of the chess pieces.

For example, in a cipher based on the movement of the horse, each time a horse moved on the chess board in its unique pattern, those aksharas resulted in the birth of a new poem, with a new meaning.

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One of the ciphers, encoded using Chess board and the moves of a horse but making a valid well meaning sentence

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The encoded verse, placed on the chess board

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The moves of the horse applied for decoding the verse

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The decoded verse containing the same letters but in a different sentence with a different meaning

Vedantha Desika

Vedantha Desika

This sort of poetry writing is known as Chithra Bhandhana. It requires a high degree of felicity in a poet to be able to arrange letters thus on a 64 square board.

That the poet Swami Vedantha Desika had used the chess board as a frame for his poem and the unique L shaped movement of the horse as per the rules of present day chess game, clearly tells us that the chess board and the rules of the movement of the horse had been a common knowledge in this land even 800 years ago.

More on Chess in our book, Brand Bharat – Roots In India.

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Thus we see that the game of chess, its components and usage have been an integral part of this land from North West to South, through the ages.

The ancient game, Chaturanga, modernised to chess, is a game that India thus shared with the modern world.

This game in early Samskrt works is also referred to as Kshatra Mruta. Kshatra comes from the word “Kshatriya”, meaning warrior. Kshatra here indicates the training session for the Kshatriya. Mruta comes from the word, “Mrtyu”, which means death. This was a game that taught war strategy to wipe out an enemy army.

In Amarakosa, this game is referred to as Ashta Pada, the 8 steps. There is an exclusive Samskrt text called Chaturanga Dipika which describes in detail the game of chess in its early form. It is from this text that we get the name Chaturanga.

Later in some of the other works, this game has also been referred to as Buddhibala, Buddhi meaning “Brain” and Bala, “Strength”. Such a name is indeed an apt tribute to the talent, intellect and logical reasoning that this game demands.

World Emoji Day

We all are familiar with the Emojis, the smileys of varied expressions that we exchange over the digital platform. These Emojis help us convey our emotions and is a popular form of communication. Emoji is all about speaking of emotion.

The word Emoji is borrowed from the Japanese, wherein E stands for an image and Moji for a character. Emojis are images that depict a character. They convey an idea or an emotion as an ideogram, and exist over various genres including facial expressions, common objects, places, weather and animals.

While Emoji is a modern term, these form of expressions existed over many centuries and millennia.

Five Modes of Written Communication

There are five main modes of written communication that had developed over the millennia.

  1. Ideographic
  2. Pictographic
  3. Syllabic
  4. Alphabetic
  5. Hieroglyphs
Ideographic

An ideograph is a symbol that represents an idea or a concept, independent of language and specific words.

Pictographic

Pictograph is an ideograph that conveys its meaning through its physical resemblance to the physical object.

Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs are a combination of alphabets, syllables and images, with many distinct characters forming a script, of communication.

Syllabic

Syllabic form of communication consists of specific syllables conveying a meaning.

Alphabetic

Alphabetic form of communication, consists of specific alphabets, through which words and sentences are formed, giving form to a language through which one communicates.

Emojis and Communication in Ancient India

It is also interesting to known that emojis were also used in ancient India.

Harappa and Mohenjodaro Script

The ancient Indian civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro had used ideograms. Thus this way of expression with ideograms was practiced by Indians 5000 years back itself. This method of communication is now known as Rebus.

Meluhha / Mlechha hieroglyphs

Meluhha is the Sumerian name of a prominent trading partner of Sumer. The historians most commonly associate them with the Sindhu Sarasvati Civilization. In Samskrt and the scripts of this civilization, they were known as Mlechha, dating around 3000 BCE. Mlechha hieroglyphs document ancient trade on Tin Road from Malhar, Uttar Pradesh, India to Haifa, an ancient port of Israel. The script transcribes Proto-Indian speech of Mlechha language glosses. Rebus cipher of Mlechha provide plaintext readings of hieroglyphs and prove that cipher text rebus renderings detail traded resources and processes of ancient times, mostly stone, mineral, metal and alloyed artifacts as catalogs in Mlechha language.

Dr. S Kalyanaraman has done pioneering work on this, and has documented the same in his book, Indus Script.

Emoji 1

Dr. S. Kalayanaraman

Emoji 2

Epigraphia Indus Script

Kalidasa

This is what the great poet Kalidasa in his work Raghuvamsa speaks about how communication should be. In this work, there is an invocation addressed to Parvati Parameshwara, where he asks them for blessing so that he can communicate what he wants to.

Emoji 3

The person who wants to communicate has a three step process,

  1. Think
  2. Mean
  3. Speak

 

The person who receives the message has also a three step process

  1. Listen
  2. Understand
  3. Assimilate

Emoji 4

So what the great poet Kalidasa is asking is, to give him felicity to communicate and reach his message to the receiver of communication at all three levels.

What we call modern understanding has been understood and sought as a blessing to communicate.

Kamban

This is the same thing that the Tamil poet, Kamban who wrote Ramayana, popularly known as Kambaramayanam.

Emoji 6

Kamban

Today, in the smartphone world, we are reapplying the same method of communication and giving it a new name, a more current name and calling it Emoji. This form of communication has come a full circle in 5000 years.

World Emoji Day

World Emoji Day is celebrated every year on July 17th, with Emoji events and programs. On this Emoji day let us know that this form of communication has existed across times and across places, and popularize it with ever new Emoji across the digital platform.

World Snake Day

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Revered and Feared

Snakes are both feared and revered. While the venom of a snake can take away one’s life, venom is also collected to counter poison in treatments.

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Snake venom being extracted

Snake venom being extracted

Snakes are diverse, found across the world, except in Antarctica. There are around 3000 species of snakes in the world, living in diverse ecosystems like deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and oceans.

However, it is to be noted that only about 24% of world’s snakes are poisonous. Moreover, maximum snake bites have happened only when humans stepped on these creatures.

Snakes are ecological predators that keep the rodent population in check.

A day for snakes

World Snake Day is an occasion to study and protect these creatures, considered dangerous, but nevertheless admired. On this day, many snake conservationist hope to create awareness among people and dispel their fears and misunderstanding about this marvellous reptile. Many programs, including seminars, talks and plays are held for the same.

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Snake, a popular concept

A Snake is a popular concept across all ancient civilizations. The Mediterranean civilizations, the Indians, the Cambodians and the Mayans revere the concept of a snake.

In Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean coastal plains, a Phoenician deity called Eshmum, the God of Medicine has serpent for his symbol.

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The symbol of professional medicine

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God Eshmum holding a stick with coiled snake

In Egypt

In the Egyptian civilization snake was attributed with life giving powers, particularly due to its nature of shedding skin and thereby exhibiting a “New Body” continually.

In India

In India, snakes are adored along with many Divinities. Lord Vishnu’s couch is a snake. Lord Shiva wears snake as an ornament. Lord Ganesha has a snake for the sacred thread.

Anantha, Infinity

Narayana, the primordial divinity, who lies in the cosmic water in a quiescent state, is always depicted in a reclining form on the bed of a coiled snake called Adi Sesha in literature, sculpture and all other art forms.

This multihooded snake represents Infinity in the ancient Indian thought and perhaps goes to form the basis for the symbol  for infinity and the root for the word “infinite” too.

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Anantha, Infinity

Anantha denotes the infinite number of cycles of Creation, Dissolution and Recreation of the Universe.

More on this in our book and Film, Creation – Srishti Vignana.

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Vasuki, Alertness

Shiva wears a snake around his neck as an ornament, which is known as Shankarabaram, and which symbolizes alertness.

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 Lord Shiva wearing snake as garland

In Carnatic music, there is Ragam called Shakamabarnam. Like the way snake slithers and moves, the Raga intertwines.

Intertwined Snakes in Villages

The fusion of two giving rise to life is reflected in the basic building block of every life form, namely the DNA.

The double helical, intertwined structure of the DNA reflects this aspect of the separate but inseparable components of life. Shiva – Shakthi as Ardha Nari represent the source of life, Shiva being the potential for manifestation for life with Shakthi being the trigger and energy behind the creation of life.

Many would have noticed small stone idols of double helical intertwined snake under trees in temples and villages in India, which represent Shiva and Shakthi. There is an age old custom in India where people pray to this idol of a double helical snake in order to beget a child.

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                                DNA                       Praying to double helical Naga

More on this in our book and film, Understanding Shiva.

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This double helical intertwined snake represents the Indian view and understanding of Shiva and Shakthi and their roles in creation, procreation and re-creation.

Naga Panchami

Nag Panchami is a festival celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar, dedicated to snakes. This festival is also known as Garuda Panchami, Garuda being an eagle.

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Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies

Both snake and eagle are arch enemies. How come there is a festival on the same day for these 2 arch rivals?

 More on this in our article on Naga Panchami:

https://bharathgyanblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/naga-panchami-garuda-panchami/

In Inca Civilization

In the ancient American Inca civilization too, they worshipped Naga and Garuda.

Carlos A.Irigoyen Forno, of Peru is a descendent of the Incas of South America.

He too has researched on this subject and his statement based on his research reads as,

The Incas, who are part of the tribal population of Peru, share many things in common with Hindus; they have the same belief in Sun and Moon worship, besides worshipping Garuda and Snake”.

More on this in our book – 2012 – The Real Story.

Kaliya, Pollution

The story of Kaliya Nardhan, where Krishna subdues and dances on the snake Kaliya is one of the popular stories around Krishna’s childhood.

Krishna and His friends were grazing their cows when one of the cows went to the riverside to drink water from the river Yamuna. Soon it dropped dead from water poisoning.

Krishna’s uncle Kamsa had been sending his emissaries on and off to kill Krishna and they too had tried various methods to kill Him, but in vain. So, many thought that this must be another ploy of Kamsa but soon realized that the culprit behind the poisoning of the Yamuna was Kaliya, the dreaded Naga, snake.

The friendly waters of the Yamuna soon became green and nobody could go near the Yamuna any longer. Krishna seized of this, entered the water to seek out and rout out Kaliya.

The people of Braj were shocked and anxious at Krishna’s dare. Krishna’s father Nandagopa and mother Yashoda came running in panic, worried about what would happen to their dear son. The whole village assembled on the banks of the river and everyone started pleading with Krishna to return to the shore.

Krishna however waded further and sought out Kaliya. A fierce struggle ensued between Kaliya and Krishna. At one point, both Krishna and Kaliya disappeared beneath the waters. People on the bank prayed with bated breath.

Krishna suddenly emerged from the waters, dancing on the hood of the fierce Kaliya, holding Kaliya’s tail in His hand.

Seeing her husband in this plight, Kaliya’s wife emerged from the waters and pleaded with Krishna, not to harm Kaliya but to let them off, so that they could go away somewhere far off and not disturb the people of Braj anymore.

Krishna let Kaliya and his family off and peace returned to Braj. The waters of the Yamuna sparkled once again. Krishna and His friends returned to their favourite pastime of grazing and playing by the Yamuna.

This incident of Krishna subduing Kaliya has come down as Kalinga Nardhana, one of the popular tales around Krishna’s childhood.

It has found a place in everyone’s heart and in almost all homes in India through millennia in some form of art or the other, including song and dance.

This legend of Kaliya has to be understood and internalized beyond the miracle and beauty of Krishna’s dance on the hood of a venomous snake.

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Krishna dancing on Kaliya

Even today, there are people who continue to poison our waters with modern day pollutants and garbage. They are the “Kaliya” of today, who need to be identified and suitable steps taken to rescue our water bodies from the inconsiderate acts of such Kaliya.

Aghasura

Krishna is also slays another snake, Aghasura, during His childhood. Aghasura, associated with the form of a huge snake, was a friend of Bakasura and Putana and was dispatched by Kamsa to poison and kill Krishna when He was a child. Krishna in turn slays this Asura snake.

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Krishna and Aghasura, Image Courtesy – Iskcon

More on this in our book, Historical Krishna.

Samudra Manthan

Another legend relating to a snake ingrained in the cultural fabric of this land is the Samudra Manthan. When Deva and Asura decided to churn the Ocean, they used a snake called Vasuki as rope to move the Mandara peak, to secure Amrita.

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Samudra Manthan

In Cambodia

This Samudra Manthan legend has found a place even in other countries. The capital city of the then Cambodian Khemer kingdom was designed and built on the concept of Samudra Manthan.

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The huge snake idol in Cambodia

In Thailand

In the new airport named Suvarana Bhumi in Thailand, Bangkok, the central theme is of a gigantic Samudra Manthan.

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Samudra Manthan in Suvarna Bhumi Airport

In Buddhism

The snake is also revered in Buddhism. At Bodha Gaya, Buddha is shown as sitting on the coils of a snake, Mucalinda. The serpent is supposed to have protected Buddha from the elements of Nature.

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Buddha statue at Bodha Gaya

In Christianity

In Christianity however, snake is considered evil. A snake is said to have tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple.

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A snake tempting Eve

In Islam

Similarly, in Islam, a snake symbolizes struggle with misfortune and remorse.

Multidimensional

Like this, the snakes symbolize positive factors like fertility, protection, healing, transformation, alertness, infinity. They also represent negative factors like pollutants, temptation, misfortune and other qualities, based on one’s belief. These contrary values goes to show the multidimensionality of snakes viewed from the radars of different civilizations and faith.

Cannot ignore snakes

It can be seen that, snakes are not just physically everywhere, but seem to pervade almost every thought, land, civilization and religion.

We just cannot ignore snakes and more so on this Snake Day.