Constitution Day

“Sama Vidhan”

Constitution Day is also known as Samvidhan Divas, Sam meaning “equal” and Vidhan, “making, creation”. A Samvidhan, a Constitution stands for a set of laws that facilitates equality and justice in a civilized society. Constitution is an integral part of any democracy, which ensures that people are supreme and shall have equal rights, while being a citizen of that country. The modern English dictionary defines a Constitution as, “a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.”

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While India has its own constitution post independence, Constitution Day is more of a recent origin. The government of India declared 26th November as Constitution Day, on 19th November 2015. This day was earlier observed as National Law Day.

Why this day?

26th November 1949, was the day when the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950, the day which is celebrated every year as Republic Day.

The year 2015 had a special significance as it was 125th anniversary of B R Ambedakar who chaired the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly and played a key role in drafting the constitution.

However Constitution Day need not be seen as a day honouring Ambedkar alone. There were many other prominent people at the helm, who are joint architects of our constitution.

Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya

Even a decade before the Indian Constitution was prepared and adopted by the Constituent Assembly, the constitution was already being shaped by someone else and from a different quarter. It was in Tripura!

The last king of Tripura, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, notified a constitution having 68 articles, seven parts and three schedules in July, 1941. It came into being at least nine years before the Indian Constitution was adopted.

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Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya

King Bikram in late 1930s toured many parts of Europe and also met Hitler in Germany. On returning to India, he came to the opinion that monarchy would not continue for much longer in the coming modern age, not just in Tripura, but in whole India as well.

He got down to framing a constitution not just for his kingdom of Tripura but for the whole country. This was a clear 6-7 years even before India was given Independence and even before World War-2.

King Bikram set up a constitution drafting committee in 1939, headed by himself. The contribution of King Bikram’s constitution preparing effort, paved the way for the constitution of India, which was prepared by the constituent assembly, a decade later.

The important features of Tripura’s contribution to Indian constitution being,

  1. Preamble
  2. Gender neutrality
  3. Emergency provision
  4. Judicial institutions
  5. Interpretation Provision
  6. Independence of judiciary and executive
  7. Ideas of representatives

It is quite baffling that even during the British rule, the Tripura King, in his written constitution, had made a core concept of democracy.

Architects of Indian constitution

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who later went on to become the first President of India, was the president of the Constituent Assembly and played a leading role in the creation of our constitution. He appointed the drafting committee with B R Ambedkar as the chairman, along with six other members and a constitutional adviser.  These members were Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant,  Kulapathy M Munshi, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, N Gopalaswami Ayengar, B L Mitter, Mohammed. Saadullah and D P Khaitan. The constitutional advisor was Sir Benegal Narsing Rau.

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Baba Saheb Ambedkar with Constitution Drafting Committee Members

A draft was prepared by this committee on 4th November 1947, and submitted to the Constituent Assembly, and which was then debated for the next 2 years, with as many as 2000 amendments, before being adopted on 26th November 1949.

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Dr. Ambedkar Submitting the First draft of the Indian constitution to Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

The original constitution was handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada in Italic style with beautiful calligraphy. This final version was then signed by all the members of the Constituent Assembly in January 1950, and the constitution came into effect on the 26th of the month, and since then has been the guiding light of this nation.

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Prem Behari Narain Raizada writing the constitution

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Dr. Rajinder Prashad examining the original Manuscript of Constitution of India presented by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.

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Dr. Rajendra Prasad signing the Constitution of India.

Granville Austin

Granville Austin, an American author has brought out in detail in his work, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation on how the Indian constitution was framed and why the members of the Constituent Assembly wrote their constitution as they did.

For this work of his, the government of India honoured him with Padma Shri, in 2011.

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Granville Austin

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Dharmasastras

Dharmasastras are ancient law books of this land, which prescribe moral code of conduct for citizens and a set of guiding principles for jurisprudence.

India had many Dharma Sastras which have been its constitution in ancient times, and which have facilitated in a prosperous and just rule, making “Bharat that is India” one of the few continuous civilizations.  The Indian Constitution starts with the phrase, “India that is Bharat….”. ‘Bha’ stands for knowledge and ‘Ratha” means to relish. Bharatha is the land of people who relish knowledge. Bha also means, effulgence, light. Bharath is the land that shines with the effulgence of knowledge and wisdom.

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The Irony

Ironically however, the Constitution of India draws its light, heavily from other countries, and is not drawn from Indian Dharma Sastras.

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Influence of other constitutions on Indian Constitution, Source Wikipedia

The Indian sastras like Veda, Purana, the Dharmasastras and other Indian scriptures make for a great exposition of law, and were based on Dharma, the eternal law based on principles of Nature. It is time we draw in from these ancient Dharma Sastras, and adopt them in our constitution, wherever suitable to modern times, to facilitate further the prosperity of this great nation and civilization.

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An image of Nataraja in our constitution

Portrait of Queen Lakshmi Bai and Tipu Sultan In Original Copy of Constitution of India

Image of Lord Krishna Having Conversation With Arjuna During Mahabharata War In Original Copy of Constitution of India

Uniform Civil Code

The Constitution of India speaks of Uniform Civil Code, in article 44 of the Directive Principle of the Constitution, which says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” Uniform Civil Code is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen. These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.

This is another aspect of equality that we need to adopt, if we are to truly follow the meaning of Samvidhan as being equal and same for everyone, in its true sense.

National Milk Day

The Multiple Significance of Milk

India is the largest producer of milk in the world. Milk in India is not just a drink to be had over breakfast, and goes beyond its dietary and nutritional value. The cow is revered as a sacred animal and worshipped as “Go-Mata”, “mother cow”, and the milk it gives is equivalent to ambrosia. Milk in Samskrt is called Ksheer and the sweet pudding that is made with milk and other products is called Kheer.

Samudra Manthan

This association of milk with nectar, sweetness goes back to the legend of Samudra Manthan, when the Ocean of Milk was churned to secure Amrita, ambrosia, and a number of other things from the Ocean. Milk is thus associated with productivity.

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Samudra Manthan

Kamadhenu

One of the beings to have emerged during the churning of the Milk Ocean was Kamadhenu, the divine cow, Kama meaning ‘wish’ and Dhenu ‘to provide’. In Purana, Kamadhenu is revered as the cow that could produce anything and fulfil our needs and requirements. Cow is thus revered in this land as the symbol of prosperity, and the greatest item it gives, is the milk.

Krishna-The butter thief

The legends of Krishna are replete with Him stealing milk, butter, cream and curds from the houses of gopas and gopis, the cowherds.  The milk here is symbol of divine love, as Krishna relished the devotion of the local milk maids in Vrindavan. He is endearingly called Kheer Chora.

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Krishna stealing Butter

More on Krishna and the events of His life in our Krishna trilogy, “Historical Krishna”.

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Ksheera Sagara

Lord Vishnu in the Purana is depicted as lying on a coiled snake, Adishesha in the Ocean of Milk, Ksheera Sagara. This cosmic milk here is akin to the pure consciousness which is churned by divine will to bring about Creation, symbolized by the emergence of Brahma from Narayana. The milk here represents the primordial divinity, from which the whole of universe arose.

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Lord Vishnu in Ocean of Milk

More on the Milky Ocean and Creation, in our book and film “Creation-Srishti Vignana”.

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Milking Milk

The nutritional value of milk and its by-products mean that they are recommended for consumption at every stage of life.  Through milk, we can obtain a series of other food products such as butter, cheese, yoghurt and cream, rich in protein. Thus milk is also associated in English vocabulary as “making the best out of a situation or thing”, when we say, “to milk something”.

Varieties of Cows

There are three main varieties of cows, namely, Bos Taurus – the European Jersey cows, Bos Senegus – the African cows and Bos Indicus – the Indian cows.

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The Myth

However, during the British times, “the milking of cows” took on a negative side, when a propaganda was spread by the British administrators that Jersey cows were superior to Indian cows, in terms of quantity and quality.

The low productivity of Indian cows was due to a completely different reason than the breed. The great famines which were artificially thrust on India from the late 1800s by the British, not only starved to death many men, women and children but first, their cows and cattle.

Many healthy, indigenous breeds of cattle of India were lost in these famines. The ones that remained, were too emancipated to produce enough milk or good progeny.

Now, in order to increase the so called “low productivity of Indian cows” as well as increase the number of healthy cows, the semen of the Bos Taurus – Jersey cow was inserted into Indian cow through in-vitro fertilization. The mixed breed offsprings have been called Jersey cows in India.

These mixed breed cows are not native cows and have difficulty in adapting to Indian environment. This difficulty in adapting leads to complex problems which affect the life and milk productivity of these cows.

In reality, the Indian native breeds are overall cost effective, even though the milk yield in some breeds could be lower.

Intrinsic Quality in Milk

Recent research clearly tells us that the milk given forth by Bos Indicus and Bos Taurus are different on a crucial count.

Milk is consumed by mammals, including humans, for its nutritive value of protein that it offers in the early growth stage, when milk is consumed maximum. Modern research has identified two types of milk proteins, classified as A1 Beta Casein and A2 Beta Casein.

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Image courtesy: drjockers.com

A2 Beta Casein is the kind of milk protein found in human milk, goat milk, sheep milk and in the milk of the Indian cows, the Bos Indicus. This variety of milk has been found to be of higher beneficial value to humans, next only to mother’s milk.

In contrast, the Jersey cows, which come under the Bos Taurus category, give milk protein of A1 Beta Casein variety. A1 Beta Casein is suspected to cause Autism, Schizophrenia, Stomach ulcer, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease and so on.

The other animal whose milk contains high values of A1 Beta Casein protein, is pig.

Due to such ill effects of milk, seen in the western world where only the Bos Taurus cows are prominent, many researchers and doctors the worldover, have declared milk to be harmful to human health in the long run.

But sadly, without differentiating the A2 Beta Casein milk of the Bos Indicus from the A1 Beta Casein milk of the Bos Taurus, milk in general is now being viewed suspiciously by Indians too.

Indian cows milk nutritive

Tests conducted specifically on the two different species of cows, using the scientific lacto process, show that, not only is the milk of Bos Indicus, the native Indian cow, not detrimental to health, but on the other hand is actually nutritive in nature.

The Indian cow’s milk has been found to be nutritive and nourishing to humans, especially babies.

It is this beneficial nature that has been extolled right from the Veda, to the lores of the land. While the yield of the Indian native breed may be lower, it seems to be most ideally suited for India, on account of

  • this cow’s milk being more suited for human consumption
  • the cow itself being more suited for Indian conditions of food and weather.

The White Revolution

With the efforts of the National Dairy Development Board, Dr. Verghese Kurien, called the ‘milk man of India’, started an initiative called Operation flood in 1970 at Anand, Gujarat.

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Dr. Verghese  Kurien

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Operation flood logo

The logo of the National Dairy Development Board has the hump unique to the Bos Indicus cows, from a Harappan seal.

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National Dairy Development Board logo

In its early days, when Dr. Verghese Kurien had approached one of the multinational companies who specialized in milk production among their other activities, to help India in bringing this White Revolution, an official of that company is reported to have haughtily replied that, he

“would not allow natives to handle a sensitive commodity like milk”.

Couple of decades down the line, after the roaring success of the cooperative effort in making India the highest milk producer in the world, the same official came to congratulate Kurien on the effort. Dr. Kurien is reported to have reparted,

“What do you think of the natives now?”

 Dr. Kurien Verghese is today honoured as the ‘Father of White Revolution’, and his birth anniversary on 26th November is aptly observed as “National Milk Day” every year.

Jagdish Chandra Bose

A Multidimensional Scientist

He is the father of Bengali fiction. IEEE honoured him as one of the fathers of radio science. A crater on the moon is named after him. A polymath, biologist, physicist, botanist, biophysicist, archaeologist all rolled into one, and also a writer of English fiction. He was India’s first modern scientist and the first scientist to scientifically show that plants too are living beings and have similar life cycles and functions like animals. As a biophysicist, he invented the crescograph, an instrument for measuring the growth of plant. When we speak of the contributions of this multidimensional scientist, words are found lacking. He is today reverentially known as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.

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Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

Birth and Education

J C Bose came into this world on November 30th, 1858, at Munishiganj, Bengal Presidency, in today’s Bangladesh. He started his education in a Bengali vernacular school.

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Bose gives us a glimpse into his childhood upbringing, at the Bikrampur Conference speech of his in 1915. This is recorded in the book ‘Jagdish Chandra Bose’, a biographical account by Vishvapriya Mukherji.

At that time, sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol. In the vernacular school, to which I was sent, the son of the Muslim attendant of my father sat on my right side, and the son of a fisherman sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature. When I returned home from school accompanied by my school fellows, my mother welcomed and fed all of us without discrimination. Although she was an orthodox old-fashioned lady, she never considered herself guilty of impiety by treating these ‘untouchables’ as her own children. It was because of my childhood friendship with them that I could never feel that there were ‘creatures’ who might be labelled ‘low-caste’. I never realized that there existed a ‘problem’ common to the two communities, Hindus and Muslims.”

Bose joined the Hare School in 1869 and then St. Xavier’s School at Kolkata. He graduated from the Xavier’s college, Calcutta University in 1879 and left for England to pursue a course in medicine. However, due to health issues, he had to discontinue this course, as the odour in the dissection room worsened his health situation. He secured admission into Christ College in Cambridge, to pursue natural science, and received the Natural Science Tripos Certificate from Cambridge University and a Bachelor’s degree in Science from London University.

Bose subsequently began his scientific research, which he pursued with full vigour, despite facing many hurdles, including racial discrimination and fund shortage.

Radio Research

He soon achieved great success in remote wireless signalling and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. The magnanimity of Bose was such that he did not go for patent for this invention of his, but made his inventions public, for others to further his research. This led to Guglielmo Marconi doing further research on radio transmission, and being credited as ‘the inventor of Radio’, when the actual credit should have gone to Acharya Bose.

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Acharya J C Bose, the first to demonstrate Radio Waves

Plant Research

The other major contribution of Bose was in Plant Psychology. Here his own invention, crescograph came in handy as he used it to measure plant responses to various stimuli. He scientifically proved the similarity between plant and animal tissues, and thereby also proved that even plants experienced pain and other sensations.

Bose also performed a comparative study of the fatigue response of various metals and organic tissue in plants.

Also in Metals

Apart from research in plants, Bose also went into the behavior of metals.

Sister Nivedita was a Scots – Irish social worker, author, teacher and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She and J C Bose had great mutual respect for each other. Sister Nivedita actively encouraged the scientist in his research works.

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Sister Nivedita

She throws light in one of her articles on Bose’s research and findings on metals:

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An Extract from Sister Nivedita’s article

In this field, his two major works include Response in the Living and Non-Living and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants.

The other works being,

  • Response in the Living and Non-living,
  • Plant response as a means of physiological investigation,
  • Comparative Electro-physiology: A Physico-physiological Study,
  • Researches on Irritability of Plants,
  • Life Movements in Plants Volume I
  • Life Movements in Plants, Volume II,
  • Physiology of the Ascent of Sap,
  • The physiology of photosynthesis,
  • The Nervous Mechanisms of Plants,
  • Plant Autographs and Their Revelations,
  • Growth and tropic movements of plants,
  • Motor mechanism of plants.

In 1917, he founded the Bose Institute one of the earliest and perhaps the first modern research institute in India.

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Bose Institute, Kolkata

Bose subsequently delivered many lectures on his scientific research and discoveries, in India and other parts of the world.

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Bose lecturing on the “Nervous System” of plants at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1926

Science Fiction

Bose also excelled in another field and it is science fiction. In 1896, Bose authored Niruddesher Kahani, The Story of the Missing One, which was one of first works in Bengali Science fiction.

Other Recognitions

Bose held many honours and positions during the course of his life. Some of them being,

  • President of the 14th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1927
  • Knight Bachelor, in 1917, a part of the British honours system
  • Member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences in 1928
  • Member of the League of Nations Committee for intellectual cooperation
  • Member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters in 1929

Legacy

Today, his legacy stands tall as he is credited with the invention of the first wireless detective device, and also with the discovery of sensations and feelings in plant life. Acharya Bhavan, the residence of Bose, built in 1902, has been converted into a museum, which houses many of the instruments that he used. These include antennas, waveguides and polarizers, and remains to be used even to this day.

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Acharya Bhavan Museum

In 1958, the government of India issued a stamp in his name.

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The Indian Botanical Garden was renamed in his honour as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden in 2009.

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Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden

In 2012, Bose’s millimeter band radio was recognized as IEEE Milestone in electrical and computer engineering, a unique recognition for a discovery in India.

While summing up the legacy and life of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, it will be apt to say that, He is one of the architects of Modern India, especially in the scientific sphere.

Gita Jayanti

Bhagavad Gita Jayanti

Come November and it is time to celebrate the Gita. 22nd November as per the English calendar and Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day, i.e. the 11th phase of the bright fortnight of the Margashira month as per the Indian calendar, is the day to commemorate the birth of the Gita.

Who or which Gita are we referring to here?

It is the Bhagavad Gita, which has been the literature of this civilization, this land and this nation since we can all remember.

It is the Gita which has been playing many roles in the lives of Indians, since the times of Krishna, who delivered it and left it behind to guide the people for long after His own lifetime.

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Gita Upadesha

Gita in Law

In the court one swears by the Gita. This practice has been going on for over 200 years. That makes it the nationally accepted book, both on a personal count and as well as being legally tenable. Not accepting the truth after swearing on the Gita, amounts to perjury.

All these were in practice, much before the words secularism and pseudo secularism came to vogue in India.

The Most Comprehensive Guide

The Bhagavad Gita answers one’s many queries, both from the Sthoola, bodily level and from the Sukshma, the subtle, ethereal level.

Upa means “near” and adesha means “instruction”. Upadesha is the instruction received by a disciple, sitting close to his master.

Krishna while delivering the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna says,

“I taught this to Vivasvan, who in turn passed it on to Vaivasvata Manu, from whom it was passed on to Ikshvaku, after which it was lost in the passage of time. As this knowledge is since lost, I, Krishna, son of Vasudeva am giving it you Arjuna, on this battlefield.”

The teaching of Krishna, was applicable not only to Arjuna and the situation that he was in, but is also applicable to each one of us today even after so many millennia. Through the medium of this dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, mankind, to this day, continues to enjoy and benefit from the most comprehensive guide to right living in this Universe.

This Bhagavad Gita discourse by Krishna shows Him in the light of one of the foremost spiritual teachers of mankind. His teachings through the Gita have remained a universal guide to mankind across many millennia, inspiring and leading many to walk the path of duty and righteousness.

Kurukshetra Battle and Bhagavad Gita

The uniqueness of Bhagavad Gita lies in the fact that it was given on a battle field, at the beginning of the battle between the Pandava and the Kaurava at Kurukshetra.

Kurukshetra War Start

On the day of the war the armies are lined up, ready to fight, waiting for the signal to start the battle.

At this juncture, standing at the head of the Pandava Army, facing the war giants on the Kaurava side, Arjuna, the archer par excellence and the main warrior for the Pandava forces, is troubled by serious doubts.

He sees that in front of him, the opponents whom he has to engage in battle and kill, are his own Guru – Dronacharya, his Grand Sire – Bheeshma, his own cousins – the Kaurava and other known friends.

Arjuna then questions Krishna, his friend, cousin, confidante and mentor in life, now in the role of his charioteer, of the paradoxical need to shed blood of his near and dear ones, only to establish rights over a kingdom. He asks Krishna as to why he should fight for the kingdom, if all his near and dear were to perish in the same war?

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Kurukshetra battle to start

Krishna then takes on the role of a philosopher, a teacher and explains to Arjuna the meaning of life, this creation, this universe and man’s role in it. Krishna dwells exhaustively on the concept of the soul and its relation to the body, the concept of the body and its relation to the acts it performs, the concept of these acts and their relation to their results, the concept of these results and their relation back to the soul and finally the concept of the soul and its relation to the supreme consciousness of the cosmos.

Step by step, with an answer for every question asked by Arjuna, Krishna patiently leads Arjuna into a world of deep spiritual knowledge, where Arjuna sees Krishna’s cosmic form. Arjuna learns of the ways of operation of the cosmos and the cosmic consciousness, which would apply to himself and all the beings around him, irrespective of whether he decides to fight the battle or not and whether he kills his near and dear ones or not.

Krishna elevates Arjuna to the highest echelons of knowledge about the way of life in the Universe.

Arjuna was going through an exhilarating experience of God Himself explaining the nuances of the cosmic laws to him.

Date of Gita

The Bhagavad Gita Upadesha and the start of the battle, occur on the same day. Today, with the aid of the sky configurations described in the Mahabharatha text we can assign a date in the modern calendar to the date of the battle and hence a date for this “Song of the Divine”.

We have been able date the life of Krishna and the various events of the Mahabharata through our series, “Historical Krishna”.

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Tradition calls this day when Gita was born as Gita Jayanthi and to this day it is celebrated on Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi, meaning the 11th day in the bright fortnight of the month of Margashira.

On this day, there was a New Moon along with a Solar Eclipse, in Jyeshta star on October 14th, 3067 BCE, followed by a Full Moon on October 28th, 3067 BCE. This lunar cycle marked the lunar month of Karthika, since the full moon occurred near Karthik star.

The month that follows Karthika, is Margashira and the New Moon occurred around 12 Nov 3067 BCE. This makes Nov 22nd, 3067 BCE, which was the start of the battle and the day of Gita, a Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day, the 11th  phase of the bright fortnight of Margashira.

The tradition of celebrating Margashira Shukla Paksha Ekadashi day as Gita Jayanthi matches what the skies showed 5100 years ago.

This means that the year 2018 is the 5085th year since the Upadesha of Gita.

A Revelation of God Himself

The Bhagavad Gita was revealed to mankind by God Himself. The word Bhagavad means ‘God, the Lord’ and Gita means ‘Song’. The word ‘Bhagavad Gita’ thus literally translates to, ‘Song of God’.

Krishna reveals his Viswaroopa, the Cosmic Form to Arjuna, showing that He is the Supreme Lord of Creation, incarnated in a human form to add credibility to His Gita.

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Vishvaroopa Darshana

This revelation of God, the Gita Upadesha was witnessed by Arjuna, Sanjaya the commentator, Vyasa the compiler and a host of other fortunate ones.

Arjuna’s grandfather, Krishna Dwaipayana, whom we reverentially call as Veda Vyasa, for he also compiled the Veda, recorded the Gita Upadesa for posterity.

The Difference

There have been many occasions in many lands, many civilizations, where God has conveyed His message to mankind, through His Son or through a messenger, a Prophet.

Similarly, there have been other times when God has thought it fit to pass on knowledge through different noble and wise persons.

In that sense, this land, the civilisation and nation of India, has experienced a difference, for, it has had the privilege to have an Avatar, an incarnation of God Himself, giving His message to mankind in person. And this was in the form of His song, the Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita not a religious text

Bhagavad Gita deals with life, duties, actions, mind, soul, purpose of life and the belief in the divine God. All these aspects are common to human life, civilizations and all religions. From this perspective, Bhagavad Gita is a manual of all these above points and not to be limitedly construed as a religious text, even though it has come down from the mouth of God. The dialogue between the two, Krishna and Arjuna, was more about the purpose of life and actions than a religious discourse.

Gita therefore, should verily and proudly be accorded the status of a knowledge asset, a literary treasure, a godsend counsel for realization of the self, whether one is a citizen of India or the world.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

 

What is Shit?

World Toilet Day is an official observance day by the United Nations that looks to raise awareness on the sanitation issues facing the world.

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The day, observed on November 19th, was initially instituted by the World Toilet Organization, committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide.

The UN later adopted this day, which it celebrates as World Toilet Day.

On a humorous note, let us first look at the “serious” side of Shit.

Shit-A Serious Matter

What is Shit? How did this word come about? Are you amused by these questions? Then, probably you didn’t know the history of this word. The humour here is indeed a serious matter.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Shipping Manure

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commercial fertilizers had not yet come to be. Large shipments of manure were order of the day. In this period, ship was a major means of transport.

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Ship

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Manure

The disaster

Manure was always dried before shipping, for, in dry state, it weighed less than in wet.

Once, a disaster was encountered, when the sea water touched the manure bundles in a ship. The process of fermentation began again, the byproduct being the highly combustible Methane Gas.

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Manure Produces the Highly inflammable Methane

The manure bundles were stored below the decks. The unimaginable happened. Methane began to build underneath the docks. Very soon, a loud ‘Boom’ was heard.

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Before one could come to terms with the inevitable, the whole ship was on fire and destroyed.

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Methane gas led to fire

Many ships were destroyed in this manner, before it was actually understood, what was happening.

Shit and then Ship

After discovering the peril these manure ships faced, these bundles were always stamped with the instruction, ‘Stow High In Transit’ – S.H.I.T, meaning, ‘load the manure bundles high enough from lower decks while loading’, so that, sea waters do not reach the Methane generating Cargo.Thus evolved the term Shit, ‘Stow High In Transit’. This term has remained to this day.

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On a funny note, “Cargo loaders had to ‘Shit’ manure for safety reasons.”

The word ‘Shit’ soon came to be used as a derogatory word for ‘irritation”, for the number of ships that it had blow up.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Ancient India had a good drainage and Sewage system towards the disposal of Malam.

In other words, India had a Sewage system that was one of the best in the world.

Sewage System in Ancient India

Engineers of today admire the drainage facility of historical site of India, made 4500 years ago.

The ancient Indian cities had an excellent, drainage system even 5000 years back. Every house in ancient Indian cities had a private toilet.

The common belief is that the world did not have a structured drainage system upto 1800 CE. However, the ruins and sites of ancient Indian civilizations tell a different story. If we look at the archaeological sites of the Sindhu-Sarasvati basin in the North Western part of India, of the same historical period of about 5000 years back, we find that we have the Harappa and Mohenjodaro sites along with a couple of hundred other excavated sites. These sites show us how developed the ancient Indian cities were.

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Sindhu Sarasvati Civilization Region

Excellent Drainage Facility

What has been seen at Mohenjodaro and Harappa has amazed many. One of the most interesting aspects of these cities was their excellent drainage system. These cities had a systematic mechanism in place for rubbish collection and waste disposal. Moreover, every house of these cities had a private bathroom. This was seen in a thousand other excavation sites across the land.

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Drainage System in Mohenjodaro town

Admiration of modern Engineers

Engineers of today admire the design of the drainage system of the historical sites of India, made 5000 years ago. It draws the admiration of our modern engineers for its wholistic plan, design and attention to the minutest details. Such meticulously planned cities with sophisticated sewage system have not been seen anywhere in the world until the dawn of the modern era.

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India’s ancient drainage system lies in ruins at Harappa and Mohenjodaro

This is an indication that the people of the ancient Indian civilizations were prosperous on all counts.

More on India’s ancient sanitation system, in our book, You Turn India.

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India had always been a Clean Country

Cleanliness was a priority in Indian from ancient times. It is indeed a myth to suggest that since India was poor, She was always dirty. India was a prosperous country before the British took over. We have seen above that India has a sophisticated sewage disposal and toilet system from ancient times. It is somewhere in between, during the colonial rule, that filthiness crept in, as the British crushed India’s prosperity.

Swachh Bharat and Toilets

Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi seeks to bring back that cleanliness, which was only next to godliness in this land, through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Building of toilets is one aspect of this program. On this World Toilet Day, let us spread awareness on the importance of toilets and sanitation, and work towards the removal of open defecation, so that we become a clean country once again.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

 

V O Chidambaram Pillai

V O Chidambaram is one of architects of the modern Indian shipping industry. He was a freedom fighter, an erudite scholar, a prolific writer, and an elegant speaker. He is popularly known as ‘Kappal Ottiya Thamizian’, meaning “the Tamil who sailed the ship”. He is mostly known by his short name VOC.

VOC was born on 5th September, 1872 at Ottapidaram, in the Tuticorin District of Tamil Nadu.

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V.O.Chidambaram Pillai – A 140 year old file photo

During the Colonial rule, the British took over our Seas and Ships. There were many attempts made to win back the seas from the British.

This made Sir Alfred Watson, editor of `The Statesman’ then in 1900, write,

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The first tangible stir in this direction came from South India in the form of Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, offering sailing services between Tuticorin in South India and Colombo in Ceylon.

It was a wholly Indian owned company started by V.O.Chidambaram Pillai, a Tamil barrister, who lived between 1872 and 1936 and was a disciple of the freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Known as VOC for short, he started this navigation company to revive Indian shipping industry, in direct competition to the British shipping services and monopoly of the seas.

Starting with leasing ships, when the lease was cancelled due to pressure from the British, he went on to purchase 2 ships, S.S.Galia and S.S.Lavo, by raising funds from all across India.

There literally ensued a tug of war between VOC’s shipping company and the British shipping company, with both lowering fares alternately to woo passengers. At one point, the British even made the service free.

Yet, when the Indians kept patronizing VOC’s services, as part of the Swadeshi spirit, the British charged VOC with sedition, stripped off his barrister license and sentenced him to 2 life terms, totalling 40 years. It was a Rigorous Imprisonment as meted out to a convict, where VOC was inhumanly, yoked to an oil press and made to toil in place of bulls, under the sun.

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The prison cell that VOC occupied in Central Jail, Coimbatore

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The Oil Press to which VOC was yoked during his period in prison

His life and struggles have been made immortal for this generation by the Tamil film “Kappal Otiya Tamizhan” meaning “The Tamil who sailed the Ship”, in which the legendary Tamil actor, Chevalier Sivaji Ganeshan played the role of VOC.

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Veteran Tamil actor Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan as VOC toiling it out in prison, in the film

Today, VOC’s name is remembered for the intense sacrifice that he made in an attempt to revive India’s shipping industry.

A stamp was issued in his honor by the government of India, in 1972.

A college in Tuticorin is named after VOC.

The bridge connecting Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai, over the Tamaraparani is named VOC

Also, a public park in Coimbatore is named after this freedom fighter.

He is among those great heroes of this land, who stood up for the cause of India’s freedom, and today his name is taken with great reverence all over Tamil Nadu and India.

We have spoken extensively about V O Chidambaram in our book, Brand Bharat, Vol-1.

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– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

International Day of Tolerance

Swami Vivekananda’s Speech

120 years ago, in his speech, Swami Vivekananda brought in the concept of “tolerance” among religions. It was a 458 word speech that lasted just 6 minutes but ushered in a fresh breath of air then.

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Call to Respect

Swami Vivekananda in his speech at Chicago conference of world religion in 1893 spoke eloquently of the existence of the other thoughts, the plurality and how we innately need to respect others and accept others as our innate ethos.

 “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so O Lord, the different paths which men take through their different tendencies, various though they appear crooked or straight, all lead to thee.”

With this effort, we should now bring back into dialogue, the need to respect the other.

The Downward Slide

In the last 100 years, Tolerance has now come down to Tolerate.

A tolerant society will be destroyed by its tolerance to intolerance. So from Tolerance, Tolerate, we should move to Respect.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

Woman – The Sustainers of Prosperity

India has largely been an agrarian civilization, naturally endowed, to be so. The holding of land for agricultural purposes and farming on it, has been the main vocation. The key resources and wealth in an agrarian society are

  • Land
  • Water
  • Good Seeds
  • Cattle for farming

Women played vital role in aspects which were the mainstay of an agrarian society.

Women and Water

For agriculture to succeed, copious water is required.

India has bountiful rainfall every year during the monsoons. This water needs to be harnessed for use through the rest of the year. All across India, much of South East Asia and other parts  of the world, through the ages, it is the women, who have stood in the forefront of efforts that ensure the proper harnessing and use of water,

  • in their own houses
  • in their farmlands
  • in the society.

They have been part of and instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the over 10 lakh community based, water harnessing systems, spread out across the face of this land. These were repaired and maintained every year as a process, for sustaining the fertility of the land through the ages.

This process of giving sustained fertility to the land, through water harnessing is called Pushkaram, which is why the water tanks in every village, near temples, is called Pushkarni, meaning that which gives fertility.

How did women help in bringing this fertility to the land?

Women, by nature, like to adorn themselves with jewellery and hold it as their family heirloom. Women, generally, do not part with their jewellery or gold.

But, we find that, all the way from ancient to medieval India, women have happily parted with their jewellery and donated them voluntarily as a monetary contribution for the construction of water harnessing projects and also to maintain them through the centuries and millennia.

This voluntary contribution of their Stree Dhana, demonstrates that women were not only physically involved by offering their labour or Shram Dhaan but were also emotionally involved in ensuring the fertility of their land.

The women understood the role of water as the root cause of prosperity and being the people who handled it maximum, they assumed the responsibility to ensure its availability for their families and their land.

India had honoured this connect between women and water by naming all its rivers with feminine names, with the exception of a few.

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Women and Water Connect

Women and Seeds

It has been a common tradition amongst Indian farmers, through the ages until even today, to have the seeds to be sown, handed out by the woman of the house, at the time of sowing.

While today it may have got reduced to a mere ritual, the practice has been a natural role of the women. Post the harvest, it was for the women to identify and isolate the best grains from the harvest and preserve them for sowing during the next season.

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Women handpicking the best seeds for the next crop

She took on and played with an inborn flair, the role of storing the grains, for consumption of the family as well as seeds for sowing.

The seeds, Bheeja were stored and safeguarded from rodents, in a separate silo within the house itself. These were called Orai in Tamil, Kanaja in Kannada, Gummi or Gulivi in Telugu and Kushool in Hindi. The women were well versed with native techniques of not only identifying the best of grains for sowing, but also of preserving these seeds from rodents, germs and decay.

To this day, the seed banks in the villages of India are literally manned.

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Women in charge of seed banks in Indian villages

This was and continues to be her share of responsibility in ensuring the quality of the next crop.

Women and Cattle

Cattle, which has been another key input to farming was revered, not just for its physical role in ploughing. The ancient knowledge base of India was very evolved scientifically and had scientifically found the dairy and waste output from the cattle to be of immense value in farming, medicine and dietary practices.

Hence cattle has held a special place in the eyes of the Indians, as one of the forms of wealth of the land, for a long time.

Cattle were symbols of prosperity and fertility. While cattle were referred to as Gomatha – i.e as a Matha or Mother, in the form of a Cow, the task of looking after this mother, was also an inborn natural activity for the women.

It was the woman of the house, who looked after the family cattle.

Her close bonding and involvement with the cattle, as also the respect she accorded to the cattle, is evident in the innate Indian practice from age old times, of women dressing up the cattle with flowers and other special anointments and praying to them for prosperity before embarking on important activities.

Even to this day, this practice continues in some of the traditional homes in India.

That, the cattle and other animals of a household were associated with the lady of the house, is evident from various mantra in the Rig Veda uttered during the time of a marriage.

As the bride and the groom go around the sacred fire, walking 7 steps and exchanging vows to solemnize their marriage, in the 5th step walked together, the husband promises to make her cows and animals grow in strength and numbers.

It is important to note that he promises to make “her” cows grow in numbers, implying that she had cows belonging to her alone.

So, the cows she comes with and acquires from her husband later on, also belonged to the woman of the house and were her Stree Dhana.

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The Fertility Chain linked by the women

Thus we see that women have held, looked after and nurtured the assets of the family and land, especially those, that were associated with fertility, which led to prosperity.

The fertility Chain

Indians refer to the earth as ‘Bhooma Devi’ . In Indian systems of knowledge, Earth or Bhooma Devi alone, is referred to in a feminine gender form, as she is the only planet in the solar system on which life has sprouted. Earth is fertile. All other planets in the solar system are referred to in Masculine forms indicative of the fact that they do not bear life or fertility.

This fertile Bhooma Devi was under the care of women as land was also held by women as we have seen in the concept of Stree Dhana.

Majority of the rivers of the land, the cause for fertility of the land, also have feminine names and we see that the harnessing of the waters for agriculture and sustenance, was defrayed by women voluntarily from their own Stree Dhana.

The seeds were under the care of women.

The cattle were under their tender and loving care too.

Thus, besides giving life to her own children, women have cared for and nurtured all that go towards maintaining the fertility of the land in an Agrarian society.

The women were thus, a key and integral part of this fertility chain.

More in our book, Breaking The Myths – About Society.

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November – Time to Celebrate Children

Seeing God as a Child

One can see an expression of the Indian love for children in the manner in which they have idolized even their gods in the form of a child.

We thus see portrayals of Shiva as Bala Shiva, Rama as Bala Rama, Krishna as Bala Krishna, Ganesha as Bala Ganapathy, Karthikeya as Bala Muruga and Hanuman as Bala Hanuman.

                     

                      Bala Ganapathy                                                                     Bala Rama                                                  

Bala Muruga

Bala Krishna

    Bala Shiva

Godly Children

Indian legends, the Purana are replete with enjoyable stories of the acts of various divinities in their child like form, some among these divinities being Tattva, cosmic principles and some others being historic personages.

The history epic, Valmiki’s Ramayana contains portrayals of Lord Rama and His brothers as ideal children. Through the behavior and life of these historic and ideal children, the Ramayana conveys the message of obligations of brotherhood, obedience to parents and obeisance to teachers. It celebrates childhood as the budding point for all qualities displayed in later adulthood.

The other history epic, Vyasa’s Mahabharata, through the lives of the five Pandava and the 100 Kaurava brothers, brings to focus competitive spirit amongst children. It showcases how impressions both positive and negative, formed during childhood can assume far greater proportions and cause great impacts to society in years to follow. It alerts us of the propensity of children to retain impressions and emotions well into their lives.

Purana dealing with tattva divinities such as Ganesha, Kartikeya have portrayed them symbolically in child like forms and through symbolic stories of symbolic acts of these divinities, have conveyed principles of the cosmos, of mankind, of mind, of intellect and of ego to help elevate man’s thinking and behavior.

Yet other Purana have immortalized some of the children of long bygone eras, in the saga of the land for generations that have followed in the last many millennia. The story of the boy Sravana’s devotion to his parents, the story of Markandeya’s unshakeable faith in the divinity Shiva, even in the face of death are known to most, through the land, even in this day.

The Purana legends have also showcased scientific possibilities involving children and their upbringing. We thus have legends showcasing the ability of the foetus to grasp happenings and sounds outside the womb. The story of Prahalada showcases how he imbibed devotion towards Narayana while in his mother’s womb and carried it forth as a little boy. The story of Ashtavakra again highlights how Ashtavakra imbibed the Upanishad while in his mother’s womb and used it later to help his father in times of need. Yet again, the story of Abhimanyu reiterates how a child starts gaining knowledge right from the time it is in the womb of its mother.

The legend of Dhruva symbolically narrates the scientific phenomenon of precession of the earth and its effect on the pole star seen in the skies. It is a beautiful way in which the principles of astronomy have been woven into a simple legend.

Srimad Bhagavatham contains many anecdotes on the pranks played by Lord Krishna, His brother Balarama and their gang of friends, Gopa and Gopi. This text highlights the qualities of innocence as well as impishness in children. It celebrates children for the adorable and affable beings that they are.

Seeing God in a Child

Children by nature are mischievous. To be mischievous is an innate quality of children.

Krishna’s precocious pranks are part of the rich folklore of this land.

                              

                                                                     Krishna’s pranks

Krishna, His pranks and His lovable, playful ways, set the trend for how people regarded children, in the land of India across millennia.

This land, by culture, for the last 5,100 years since the times of Krishna, has viewed children as a replica of Krishna and has relished their pranks as they would Krishna’s. The mischief of children has rarely been associated with punishment and reprimanding. It has instead been eulogized and happily expressed as an imitation of Krishna.

Given this ethos, when elders admonish their children for their harmless pranks, it is not stern and wrathful. It has in it an admiration for their innocence and a tolerance with an understanding that by nature, children are given to their ways of pranks.

A culture that gives space for children to grow up with their mischief also automatically gives them the space to grow out of their mischief as a part of the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Holding Children in High Esteem

It is no wonder that various political, religious as well as social leaders have focused specially on the children in the society. They have not only showered affection on them, but they have also invested time and effort in grooming the children in society, in morals, ethics and values. We thus have in many languages, simple couplets composed specially for inculcating good conduct and values in children. These couplets served as the nursery rhymes in this civilization much before the British replaced them with theirs.

Children’s day celebrations are a facet of the high esteem in which this civilization holds the development of its children.  Classic examples of this commitment, even till a couple of centuries ago, can be seen from the quote of Brigadier General Alexander Walker of East India Company from 1780 to 1810.

Dedicating November 14th, the birth anniversary of prominent leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who was close to children, as Children’s Day, is a representative gesture of the high esteem in which children have been held through the ages.

 Nehru with children

It is a day for us to recognize the value of children, the values in children and the values that have to be taken to the children for the development of a valued society.

It is a day to rededicate ourselves to the cause and joys of children.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day was instituted by the World Health Organization and International Diabetes Federation in the year 1991, to be observed on November 14th ever year.  The day is observed all over the world on the birth anniversary of Fredrick Banting. Fredrick Banting along with Charles Best discovered insulin in 1922.

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On World Diabetes Day

On World Diabetes Day, programs are organized on Diabetes awareness and relief.

Madhu Meham

Diabetes in Indian thought is called Madhu Meham. Madhu means sugar, sweet.

Prameha

Diabetes is also known as Prameha and is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Hareeta Samhita and Ashtanga Sangraha.

Charaka

Diabetes is discussed in great detail in Charaka Samhita. Charaka, the ancient Indian Physician mentions a diabetic affected person as a person passing sweet urine.

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Charaka

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Charaka Samhita

Ants attracted to Urine

One of the ways of identifying Diabetes, as mentioned by Charaka, is to see and observe whether ants are drawn to the urine sample of the patient.

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Ants drawn to the Urine Sample

Charaka also mentions that Diabetes occurs due to insufficient produce of insulin by the Pancreas, and which has been testified by modern science.

Types of Diabetes

Ayurveda mentions 12 types of Diabetes. 4 are curable while 8 can be suppressed.

Sahaja and Apathya

According to the science of Ayurveda, Diabetes occurs due to two major factors, namely, Sahaja and Apathya.

Sahaja is mostly seen in lean people and happens due to Insulin deficiency.

Apathya is observed in obese, those with inappropriate diet habits and occurs due to increased glucose production.

Herbs for Diabetes

Ayurveda prescribes various herbs such to keep diabetes in control.

Herb Scientific Name
Amla Phyllanthus emblica
Musta Cyperus Rotendus
Karela Momardica charantia
Jambu Syzygum cumini
Asana Pterocarpus marsupium
Haridra Curcuma Longa

While diabetes is not fully curable, it is controllable. This has been a realization from time immemorial.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari