The name February comes from the Roman God Februus. Februa in Roman language also signifies the festival of purification that was celebrated in Rome during this month.
Why does February have only 28 days?
Julius Caesar who ruled Rome around 40 CE introduced the Julian Calendar.
Julius Caesar wanted to make his name not just popular but eternal.
Towards this purpose, he included his name Julius as a month in the calendar and thus came July, bearing his name. He also ensured that the month with his name had the maximum days and hence July has 31 days.
His successor Augustus Caesar, not wanting to be left behind, also wanted his name in history. He added his name to the following month and called it August. As he did not want his month August to be inferior to Julius in any way, he ensured that his month too had 31 days.
February to pluck
From where did Julius and Augustus pick their additional day from?
The month of February was there for them to pluck out the days from and add to their months.
National Science Day is observed annually on 28th February, the day Dr. C.V. Raman discovered the ‘Phenomenon of the Scattering of Light’ which has now come to be called, ‘The Raman Effect’. This day was constituted by the Government of India in 1986, on the recommendation of National Council of Science and Technology.
The Raman Effect is defined as the change of wavelength exhibited by some of the radiation scattered in a medium.
Dr. C. V Raman wins Nobel Prize
Dr. C.V. Raman performed his experiment on scattering of lights while working at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata (IACS). For this discovery of his, he became the first Asian to get a Nobel Prize in the field of science in 1930.
Dr. K.S. Krishnan
Dr. Raman’s colleague, Dr. K. S Krishnan worked along with him. On February 28th 1928 evening, Raman had to go out of the laboratory on some pressing work. Dr. Krishnan who was researching in the laboratory, fortuitously observed for the first time the ‘Phenomenon of Scattering of Light’. An elated Dr. Krishnan recorded it in his worksheet. Dr. K.S. Krishnan thus became the first person to observe the ‘Raman Effect’.
Before the discovery of Raman Effect, the prevalent concept was that of the English physicist Rayleig who in the 1870s tried to explain the blue colour of the sea and the sky.
Rayleig had expressed that the blue sky was the reflection of blue sea.
Dr. C.V Raman’s Research
Dr. C.V. Raman was not satisfied with this explanation. His fascination for the colours and their reasoning was further accentuated during sea voyage in 1921. He studied the scattering of the sun light by the air molecules to explain the blur colour of the sky. He also studied the scattering of light by the water molecules. This study led to his findings being termed the Raman Effect.
Why the Sky and Sea appear blue?
When the sunlight hits the particles, the blue light is scattered the most and the red light the least. Due to this, both the sea and the sky appear blue.
He expressed how the water particles selectively absorb the red light and reflect the blue because of which we see water as blue.
Dr. C.V. Raman continued his research in the phenomenon of light scattering, in other liquids and solids as well. This persistent research revealed the newer aspects of the behaviour of light.
Rigour and Diligence, not costly equipment
The apparatus with which Raman Effect was discovered cost less than Rs. 200 then. It consisted of a pocket spectroscope, a pair of complementary glass filters, a mirror, a condensing lens, and some liquid samples. It shows that even with simple instruments, it is possible to do path breaking research in pure sciences. What is needed is rigour and diligence and not just costly equipment.
National Science Day
This discovery of the ‘phenomenon of scattering of lights’, is regarded as one of the great achievements of modern science in India and is commemorated every year as National Science Day.
Marathi Language Day is observed in Maharashtra, every year on February 27th. This day commemorates the birthday of Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, an eminent Marathi author. It was officially established by the Government of Maharashtra to celebrate the Marathi language.
Marathi, A Popular Language
Marathi is one among the ancient languages of India, and is substantially derived from Prakrit. It is the official language of Maharashtra, and is also co official language in the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. It is the fourth most spoken language in India. It has around 8 crores / 80 million speakers. It is listed among one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Marathi is included as a part of the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, and thus it holds the status of a scheduled language, i.e. it is one of the official languages of the Union of India.
Early Marathi works
The earliest Marathi works can be traced to the works of many saints, and are philosophical and devotional in nature. An early Marathi inscription was found at the foot of Bahubali statue at Shravanabelgola.
Bhaskarbhatta Borikar and Mukundraj
Bhaskarbhatta Borikar is one of the early known poets, who composed many hymns in Marathi. Mukundraj is another Marathi literary giant, dating to 1200 CE. His work Vivek Sindhu consisting of 18 chapters and 1671 verses is one of the earliest books in Marathi. He also authored the Param Amrit, which has 303 verses in 14 chapters. These works deal with the Advaita philosophy.
Sant Jnaneshwar is a literary giant in Marathi literature, from the 13th century. He is a revered saint, a devotee of Lord Vithhala, who composed Amrutanubhav, a work on his experiences in yoga and meditation. He also wrote Bhavartha Deepika, also known as Jnaneshwari, which is an extensive commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.
Sant Namadev is another Marathi poet saint, contemporary to Sant Jnaneshwar, who composed many Marathi poems in praise of Lord Vithhala of Pandharpur. He also composed many devotional hymns in Hindi, which has been included in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.
In the 16th century CE, Sant Eknath was another literary figure who composed many devotional songs, and also authored many works such as the Eknath Bhagavat,Bhavarth Ramayana, and many other works.
Sant Ramdas and Sant Tukaram
In the 17th century, when Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj who established the Maratha Empire, Sant Samarth Ramadas and Sant Tukaram were the famous poet saints during his times. Samarth Ramadas, who was the Guru of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, authored Dasbodh in Marathi, which are his teachings on the way to liberation.
It is to be noted that all these works of the poet saints revolved around the divinity of Lord Vithhala, the deity enshrined at Pandharpur, in Maharashtra, which to this day is a famous pilgrimage centre. Much of the works in Marathi is owed to the devotion inspired by Lord Vithhala. Another Marathi devotional work, which comes to mind is Bhaktha Vijaya, a book on the lives of the saints who propounded the Bhakti Rasa. This was composed by another Marathi literary figure, Mahipati, who lived in the 18th century.
In recent times, Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of the Marathi giants in literature, whose birth is today officially recognized as Marathi Language Day.
Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar
Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of those Marathi scholars and author who popularized Marathi, through his poems, short stories and novels. He was born on 27th February 1912, and passed away on 10 March, 1999. In a career that started from pre independence days, this eminent poet wrote 16 volumes of poems, three novels, 7 volumes of essays, 8 volumes of short stories and 18 plays.
Some of his famous works like Vishaka, published in 1942, was an inspiration for the Indian Freedom Movement. Another popular work of Vishnu is in the field of plays. His play Natsamrat in Marathi is regarded as one of the masterpieces in the history of Indian literary. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for this work of his.
Recipient of many awards
Vishnu Vaman has been the recipient of many state and national awards for his achievements in Marathi literature. He was awarded the Danyapith award in 1987 and Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was the chairman of Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan, a Marathi Conference forum, for many years.
Marathi language Day
Thus to honour his contributions in Marathi Literature, the government of Maharashtra found it fit to celebrate his birthday as Marathi Language day every year. On this day, the government organizes various events on Marathi languages, which include seminars and essay competition that are held in schools and colleges.
All in all, a day to honour the Marathi Language. Cumulatively all Marathi authors and their works are celebrated on this day.
Pamban Bridge is India’s first cantilever bridge that connects Rameshwaram with mainland India. The bridge was opened on February 24, 1914.
It was also India’s first Sea bridge and one of the longest bridges in the country.
The bridge is the life line to Rameshwaram Island.
Scherzer central span
The 65.23 metre long rolling central span of the 2.06 km long bridge, is named after William Scherzer, the German engineer who designed and built the span.
It opens up like a pair of scissors to allow vessels to pass through under the bridge.
1964 Cyclonic storm
In 1964, even when a severe cyclonic storm hit this part of the area, Scherzer’s central span withstood nature’s fury. What is further remarkable is how this entire bridge was restored for traffic in a mere 46 days under the leadership of the man behind the Delhi Metro, E.Sreedharan, who was then posted in the Southern railway.
Of course, Rameshwaram has yet another bridge just parallel to it which was built in 1998. But that is a road bridge.
Longest for around 100 years
Pamban had stayed as the longest sea bridge of India for close to a 100 years, until it was surpassed by the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link built recently on Mumbai’s western coast. But then again, Bandra-Worli Sea Link is only a road bridge.
Pamban has much more load to carry as it is a rail bridge. Starting as a metre guage railway line it was upgraded to a broad guage line in 2007 and then again in 2009 it was further strengthened to carry goods train.
Among the world’s old and historic bridges, the London Bridge is one of the more famous ones.
In comparison with London bridge
In comparison to the London Bridge, the Pamban Bridge has had to face much more fury from Nature as it is built over a Sea.
It is located in world’s second most corrosive environment after Florida which makes it maintenance a challenge and a round the year activity. It is an activity that has been going on unfailingly for the last 100 years.
A train journey on this legendary sea bridge is sure to put everyone in awe. In awe of nature power and human skills!
Thinking and Questioning are innate to man every day. Intellect develops through the process of thinking, questioning & seeking answers.
Thinking is known as “Chintan” in Samskrt. Thinking thoughts and expressing them through discussions in collective sittings or camps, called Chintan Shivir or Chintan Baithak, has been a part of our culture and tradition.
How did this day come to be called the World Thinking Day?
The Birthday of Scouting and Guiding founder Robert Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell are commemorated as World Thinking Day by the scouts and guides family worldwide.
Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell
It is interesting to note that the Swastika symbol was used by Baden Powell.
Swastika Symbol in the early Scouts Handy Book
Thanks badge issued by the Scouts and Guides under Robert Baden Powell
The card sent by the Baden Powells
Robert Baden Powell on the Swastika Symbol
The Image Swastika finds use in all ancient societies and is still used in India.
Similarity between Swatika and the spiral galaxy
The word Swastika comes from Su, meaning ‘good’, Asti meaning ‘well-being’ and Ka meaning ‘of’.
Swastika is not just the well-being of health, Swasth, but the well-being of everyone in society, in knowledge, in character, and overall in Nature. Unfortunately, during World War II , Hitler, his people and his armies grossly misused the symbol due to which profound the symbolism of Swastika has been viewed negatively in the last 6 decades.
Hitler abused the Swastika symbol. A taboo now
We need to look for its original meaning, its knowledge, for the well-being of society and the world.
Like this, on this World Thinking Day, many other thoughts should be looked at from the right perspective.
Indian thought and practices over time immemorial have commemorated certain days and festivals as ways and means for people to understand, remember and reunite with the Universe and the divinities of the Universe.
These festivals become gateways for people to reach out and be in communion with the divinities.
Shivaratri is one such festival which is a gateway to reach out and understand the divinity called Shiva or Shiva Tattva.
Once we understand the meaning of Shiva Tattva and the celebration of Shivaratri, no doubt, our celebrations and the enjoyment of the Tattva of Shiva will be enhanced manifold. It will make our celebrations more relevant and meaningful.
Ithihasa Purusha-Historical Personages
Among the Indian pantheon of divinities, few are historical and many others are Tattva, principles, essence in nature.
The prominent historical divinities are Rama and Krishna for which reason they are called as Ithihasa Purusha, historical personages and Avathara Purusha, those who came down to this earth, to live with us.
Rama and Krishna – Historical Personages
Shiva, a Tattva
In contrast to this, Shiva is not an ithihasa purusha but is a tattva. .
What is Shiva Tattva?
Shiva – A Tattva
Meaning of the term Shiva
The word Shiva simply means Mangalam, auspicious. Anything that is auspicious is Shiva. This auspiciousness which is all pervading throughout the universe, is a constant presence during the lifetime of this universe, before the creation of the universe and continues to be so after the dissolution of this world, this solar system, this galaxy and this entire universe.
Thus this Shiva, auspiciousness is the very life of the universe. Not just the life we see around us in a very limited perspective of life in humans, animals or plants but the very concept of life itself.
The meaning for Shiva as auspiciousness is evident from the following examples.
The traditional way of wishing “Goodbye” was through a phrase “Shivaasthe Panthaanaha” meaning “Let your ways be auspicious”. Ways here, meaning your paths, your deeds and ways of life.
The term “Shiva” also has a much larger connotation which includes
having the potential,
being capable of,
being favourable, promising.
All of these meanings of Shiva are also attributed to the Indian term “Mangalam”, which also has a similar all encompassing meaning of denoting the potential to manifest something good.
From a metaphysical perspective, Shiva can be split as sha+ee+va where
sha stands for Shareeram, body,
ee stands for eeshwari, life giving energy and
va stands for vayu or motion.
Thus Shiva represents the body with life and motion.
If the “ee” is removed from Shiva, it gets reduced to sha+va or shava.
Shava means a lifeless body.
Anything with Shiva is with life and anything without Shiva is Shava or without life.
Here we see that while Shava is motionless or lifeless, Shiva is with the potential of life.
Making this potential manifest as matter, life and the cosmos, is Shakti the energy tattva, the female counterpart of Shiva. Without Shakti, Shiva stays as the potential. It is Shakti that triggers Shiva into manifesting as life.
This body is composed of many cells. It is the Preeti, the forces of attraction which keep the cells together to produce a body with life or with Prana. When this Preeti is gone, the cells disintegrate and Prana goes away from the body and the body is considered to be dead.
Thus Shiva along with Shakti together go to produce the universe as we can and cannot see it.
So, Shiva is auspicious, Shiva is potential and Shiva is Life. Shiva is all encompassing – the universal soul or consciousnss, Chaitanya. Realizing this Shiva Tattva leads to Ananda, bliss.
Understanding Night, Ratri
This Creation resonates with a rhythm or a natural heartbeat. Every object in this Creation has its own cycle or rhythm, in which it rises to a peak and ebbs to a low. This low is called the night, ratri.
The word Ratri means “comfort giver”. It is derived from the root word “ram” meaning “to be content”, “to give contentment”.
3 Levels of Activities
Ratri is that which gives one comfort or rest from the 3 types of activities namely:
Kayika or bodily actions,
Vachika or speech
Manasika or thoughts.
A person is afflicted physically, mentally and spiritually by 3 types of agents, namely
Adhyatmika – pertaining to the self, the Atma
Adhi Bhauthika – pertaining to the elements of Nature, the Bhuta
Adhi Daivika – pertaining to the cosmic, the Divya
During night, as man sleeps and gets regenerated, all 3 types of actions are subdued and mind is completely at rest, free from all types of afflictions.
Hence night is called ratri or the comfort giver.
What a beautiful way to form a word such that its very formation implies its meaning and function.
It is during the ratri or night of any being, that the being gets rejuvenated and refreshed for its next cycle or day.
The Natural Rhythm
For man, this natural rhythm is daily day and night. Every night, the body gets regenerated and refreshed for the next day. The old cells are discarded and get replaced with new cells every day. Blood in the body is purified and circulated every day. New blood cells are born each day. This is Nithya Pralaya or daily Pralaya.
What is a Pralaya?
Only when there is dissolution of the old, can there be scope for regeneration of the new.
There is a continuous cycle of dissolution and regeneration going on in the Universe.
The process of dissolution is called Pralaya. Pralaya is limitedly understood as waters or fire engulfing everything.
Infact there are 4 types of Pralaya defined in ancient Indian texts, they being,
Nithya Pralaya, daily Pralaya
Naimitika Pralaya, occasional Pralaya
Avantara Pralaya, seasonal Pralaya
Maha Pralaya, the great Pralaya
Laya means to merge or dissolve into. Music that makes one forget everything and makes one blend with the music is said to have Layam. It is also a rhythm.
The prefix Pra denotes special as in Prakrithi which is primordial or ultimate Nature. Pralaya thus simply means the rhythmic, special dissolution or merging back into ultimate natural form.
Shiva, being the potential to manifest, is the divinity for dissolution and regeneration. Hence the time one readies for rejuvenation and regeneration that comes with a Pralaya, is associated with Shiva as Shivaratri.
Not so commonly known is the monthly celebration of Shivaratri, which falls on the Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi every month or the night preceding the New Moon.
Maha Shivaratri or the Great Shivaratri is celebrated annually on the Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi night. i.e. the night preceding the New Moon, in the penultimate month of the year, the month of Magha or the month of Masi in Tamil calendar, which typically occurs in the month of February – March these days.
History of Shivaratri
Rishi Kahola Kaushitaki in his Kaushitaki Brahmana records that Maha Shivaratri was celebrated even during the Mahabharatha times, i.e. 5100 years ago.
In cosmology, when the entire Creation starts contracting, it is expressed as the start of the night of Brahma and the final collapse is called the Maha Pralaya. This Maha Pralaya then leads to the start of the next cycle of Creation and is thus a regeneration of the entire Srishti, Creation.
The interim state between a dissolution and a regeneration is a period of both serenity and tranquility when all bodies are calm and preparing for regeneration. Following this tranquility is the joy and celebration which comes with having been regenerated and refreshed.
Change through celebration
The change that comes with dissolution can primarily be accepted in two ways,
When there is resistance to a change, there is pain. Where there is willful acceptance, there is no pain. When we understand and willingly accept that a dissolution is only for a regeneration, the dissolution or change ceases to cause pain.
Shivaratri is an occasion that makes us aware of the need to change along with the ever changing cosmos and to renew our cosmic connect.
It is a window to prepare ourselves to accept the change, to let go of the past, to make way for the new and the rejuvenation that comes forth.
It is a celebration to welcome the change, the rejuvenation.
Therefore for time immemorial our ancestors have given this night of regeneration, a feeling of serenity through fasting and praying and have followed it with celebration through singing.
Every Shivaratri, let us connect with this Shiva Tattva and get rejuvenated to face the coming phases of our lives.
More information on these aspects of Shiva is available in our book, “Understanding Shiva”, and a film, “Understanding Shiva” which are a part of the Bharath Gyan Series.
Shivaratri is a festival which is a gateway to understand the Divinity Shiva, Shiva Tattva. Once we understand the meaning of Shiva Tattva and the celebration of Shivaratri, no doubt, our celebrations and the enjoyment of the Tattva of Shiva will be enhanced manifold. It will make our celebrations more relevant and meaningful.
In Kashmir, which is the home of Kashmir Shaivism, MahaShivaratri is celebrated with the name of Herath, among the Kashmiri Pandit community.
The word Herath is a phonetic derivation Har Rath, meaning the night of Hara, Shiva. In the legend, it was on this day that the marriage between Shiva and Parvati took place. In Kashmir, every woman is regarded as an embodiment of Parvati, Shakti and every man, of Shiva. Thus every marriage is between Shiva and Shakti.
Herath celebrates the union of Shiva tattva and Shakti tattva that has given rise to the whole creation.
In another sense, Herath also signifies the mergence of Shakti tattva – the Prakrithi with Shiva tattva, the Purusha, leading to complete liberation.
One of the seats of knowledge in ancient India was Kashmir. The Kashmir Shaiva thought is considered even today to be very advanced. It was called Trika. This aspect of Shiva representing the potential to manifest has also been expressed in the Kashmir Shaiva thought Trika, by Acharya Abhinavagupta in 1000 CE.
Acharya Abhinavagupta, who belonged to the school of thought initiated by Rishi Shvetasvatara many thousands of years ago, describes Shiva as the nature of existence in all beings and calls this nature as Prakasha. This shows that the chain of thought all the way from the days of Rishi Shvetasvatara to even 1000 years ago could understand Shiva as the ability to manifest and the nature of existence in all beings.
As per Trika too, Shiva can be understood to be of 3 states, Arupa, Rupa Arupa, Sarupa, and hence the name Trika. To gain the knowledge of Trika, they recommend 4 steps:
1. Anavopaya i.e disciplining the ego
2. Anava i.e meditation
3. Saktopaya i.e activating the energy centre by centering one’s attention in silence
4. Sambavopaya i.e freeing oneself from thought
Thus we see that Shiva represents the chain from subtle to gross to subtle and the ways to understand Shiva therefore also require subtleness and meditation.
This is emphasized through the description for Shiva,
Since this state is beyond our comprehension or does not have a form that is cognizable or can be perceived, it is akin to formless and can also be referred to as Arupa as well and for reference referred to as Turiya or the fourth state.
In this state, the body is restful and mind is alert like a snake. This concept of Shiva as the formless and with form, spanning the entire universe, before and beyond, has thus been beautifully brought out through this Slokha from Vignana Bhairava Tantra,
Wherever we go, it is the travel of the body. This body could be a human body, the body of planets like our earth, the body of our sun and other stars, the body of the different galaxies of the Universe. These are the physical bodies. Shiva exists in all these and where all these go.
Beyond this physical level, is the level, where only the mind, which is subtle, can go. This Shiva, exists there too, even before the mind can conceptualize about such places and go there.
Thus this auspicious, potential of this Universe, which is here known by the name Shiva, exists within and outside all these bodies mentioned above, in its natural tranquil state. The uniqueness of the Indian thought is that the divinity does not exist outside alone controlling the Universe through puppet strings, but exists within all bodies in this Universe all the way down to the humans and all other living beings and inanimate objects – a profound understanding.
Herath celebrates this profound understanding.
Herat, the province and the city
There is a province and a city in Afghanistan which goes by the name Herat, signifying a phonetic link from India. This shows that the festival of Herat was not limited to the Valley of Kashmir alone. The festival of Herat and concept of Herat spread all the way upto Afghanistan to warrant a province and city to be named Herat. This show that Kashmir Shaivism of Trika, till about 500 years back was the prominent religious thought of not just Kashmir, but also in northern parts of Pakistan, and much of Afghanistan too. These were not just geographically contiguous regions, but also had religious thought of Shiva and Shakti ingrained in them.
More on the concept of Shiva, Shakti and Kashmir Shaivism in our book and film, Understanding Shiva.
In Indian tradition, Shiva Tattva, is often represented in a distinct form of Shankara sitting in meditation holding implements such as Damaru and Trishul. He has a mark of vibhuti on His forehead. He wears a snake around His neck. He has a matted hair with Ganga flowing out from these locks. He has a crescent moon on His head as a ‘decoration’. He rides a Bull called Nandi, His Vahana, vehicle.
Is this the real form of Shiva or is it a visual representation with each of these aspects of His form having some significance?
Shankara etymologically comes from “Sham karothi ithi Shankara”, meaning, “that which does good”.
Thus the form of Shankara brings to bearing that Shiva, the auspicious and with the potential to manifest all goodness, can only be realized through deep meditation, a state when the sound of OM reverberates through our mind, being and senses.
At one level, this Trishul denotes the concept of Trinity in the Universe where the Trinity represent the divine forces of the Universe.
What are these three divine forces of the Universe?
In the ancient Indian texts, the Trinity or the divine forces have been expressed as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva i.e. the creator, preserver and destroyer respectively.
The Indian Rishi, seer scientists, have expressed that for the Universe to go through its cycles, this Trinity, these 3 divine forces are an essential requisite and it is essential for these 3 forces of the Trinity to work in tandem.
This concept of Trinity has also been discussed by different civilizations in their own variant forms.
The 3 states of Divinity
At another level, the Trishul or trident of Shiva is perhaps to remind us constantly of the 3 states of Shiva namely
Trishul also denotes the 3 modes of action in mankind and that which drives these acts. They are;
1. Kayika, physical actions
2. Vaachika, speech
3. Manasika, to do with the mind
These 3 modes of action do find a equivalence in the 3 states of the divinity as well, for example
Kayika with Sarupa or manifested form
Vaachika with Rupa-Arupa for the formless form
Manasika with Arupa for the formless
It is pertinent to note here that the ancient Greek divinity of Europe, Poseidon, also had a trident in his hand.
The other prominent implement in Shiva’s hand is the Damaru.
The Damaru is a rustic, very ancient variety of hand held drum, with a central bead attached to string which swings and beats on both sides of the drum in an alternating manner.
What is the significance of this Damaru in Shiva’s hand?
Shiva represents the Cosmic being and the Cosmic power that causes the cycles of creation, dissolution and regeneration which happen in regular rhythmic intervals as the acts of Nature.
The implement that best exemplifies the beat of the rhythm is a drum.
The primeval drum is the Damaru.
As Shiva oversees the rhythmic of dissolution and regeneration, the Damaru best exemplifies the implement most needed by Shiva to keep up this rhythm.
The cosmic rhythmic beat is such that, it causes everything in this Universe to merge in unison with this beat and dissolve back into Shiva. This event is therefore called Pralaya. Thus when Shiva beats His Damaru, He causes the Pralaya or natural dissolution of this Universe.
Tryambaka comes from the roots tri meaning 3 and Ambaka which means eyes.
The name Tryambaka for Shiva thus is said to mean Shiva the 3 eyed.
Modern physiology indicates the presence of a gland called the pineal gland in the brain, behind and between the eyebrows which is considered to be the focal point for concentration. The 3rd eye of Shiva is also but a way to remind us to open our eyes and see, experience Shiva in all the three states, Arupa – the Formless state, Rupa Arupa – the Formless Form state and Rupa – the Formful state.
The third eye is to realize Shiva in His formless Arupa state which is at once vast, terrific and terrifying.
Of the 5 primordial elements, the Fire element, Agni, is associated with Shiva. This is exemplified by the story of the Lingodhbhava. Fire acts on anything and everything and reduces it to a state of ash or Bhasma. So Bhasma is a product of Agni or Shiva acting on it. It is considered symbolic of Shiva’s act of destruction for regeneration.
The word Vibhuti means resplendent or glowing, with extraordinary powers.
The smearing of the ash or Vibhuti is meant to destroy one’s ego and ignorance and give rise to a new self, glowing with the realization of Shiva.
Moon on head-Chandrasekhara
The moon weaves a magic in the sky every fortnight.
Once, the New Moon phase is reached, there is no moon visible from the earth. From there, it grows again and recreates a Full Moon again within the next fortnight as part of a beautiful celestial show of Nature. Shiva as the divinity of regeneration, in His pictorial form, has a very thin crescent moon on His head.
This thin crescent symbolically depicts the regenerative aspect in the monthly cycle of the moon from the thin remnants of the previous cycle.
Regeneration is also connected with fertility and what is interesting to note here is that, in humans, the women’s fertility cycle of 28 day period exactly coincides with the 28 day cycle of the moon.
The Chandrasekhara or Somasekhara form of Shiva brings out to us the intrinsic correlation between the phases of the moon, fertility and the humans.
Shiva’s Vahana, Vehicle is the bull called Nandi. A bull is called Rishabha in local language and it is a Pashu. The loose translation for Pashu is animal. But Pashu is also an encompassing term that includes all living beings or bodily forms.
Shiva as a principle of the Universe can only be realized through subtler means and not in a physical or gross form. Thus Pashu or bodily forms are a stumbling block in the way towards realizing Shiva.
Only when one is willing to go beyond the bodily level of understanding and hones the subtler senses, can one understand and realize Shiva Shankar and peace.
Arunachal Pradesh is a state, in the north easternmost boundary of India, and is the largest among the 7 sister states in north east India. It was a union territory until 1987, when it became the 24th state of the Indian Union, on 20th February, 1987.
The mention of this state immediately brings to mind images of lush green rain forests and a rich wildlife. A land of incredible natural beauty, and rich flora and fauna.
Arunachal Pradesh had a prominent place from ancient times.
Eastern Boundary of India
The land of Bharath, as India was known in ancient times, had four boundaries. Maha Sagara, the Indian Ocean in the south. Himalaya, the snowcapped mountains in the north. Ashtachal Mountains in the west and Arunachal Mountains in the east.
Thus Arunachal region is an important landmark in Indian geography, marking its eastern boundary.
Aruna means “The first rays of the sun” and Achal means “Mountains”.
Arunachala are the hills that receives the first light of the sun, in Bharath. In other words, Arunachal is the “land of the rising sun”.
The name Arunachal is also a name of Shiva, and has an important place in the concept of Ashta Dikpala, the rulers of 8 directions. Ashta Dikpalas are the deva who rule over the eight direction, Ashta, meaning eight, dik meaning direction and pala, meaning one who rules. The Deva who rules over the north east is Isana, i.e. Lord Shiva.
Orchid of India
Known for its flora, Arunachal Pradesh is known as the “Orchid of India”, and the “Paradise of the Botanists”.
The entry point of Brahmaputra
It is also the land where one of India’s biggest rivers, Brahmaputra, enters the country. The river has its origin at Manasarovar in Tibet, near Mount Kailash, where it has the name Tsangpo. In Arunachal Pradesh, where it enters India, it is known as Yarlang. It is only in Assam, it gets the name Brahmaputra.
From ancient Past
In the Purana, this region of Arunachal Pradesh is mentioned as Prabu Mountains.
It is at this region that Veda Vyasa mediated, for a period of time.
Parasuram kund, a lake dedicated to Lord Parasurama is a popular pilgrimage spot in Arunachal Pradesh. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims from across India, and also from Nepal. It is here that Lord Parasurama performed penance. Makara Sankranthi is a festive occasion at this kund, when around 1 lakh Devotees take dip, Snan in its waters.
Arunachal Pradesh is also the region ruled by King Bhishmaka, the father of Rukmini, whom Krishna married. This takes the antiquity of this place to 3100 BCE, as we have dated Krishna to 3100 BCE in our book “Historical Krishna”.
In the previous millennia, this region was ruled by the Ahom dynasty, from 1228 CE to 1826 CE.
Ahom Dynasty Insignia
The population of Arunachal Pradesh mainly consists of Vana Vasi.
The dweller of forest who are the true custodians of this ecosystem are known as Vana Vasi.
Vana meaning forest, and Vasi, dweller.
These tribals were not poor, but instead they were rich, for all the forest of the land were theirs by right. They were the guardians of the forest. The forest looked after their well being.
Today, they have been classified as Adi Vasi, Adi meaning first and Vasi, dweller, and restricted to living in pockets within their forests.
Adi Vasi is a new term and also has a sense of derogatory to it. The Adi Vasi brings in an incorrect concept that tribals are the first dwellers of the land and the town and village dwellers are later migrants. This is ethnographically erroneous.
Whereas the words, Vana Vasi is their rightful name used with respect.
Nagar Vasi, Grama Vasi and Vana Vasi, all three belong ethnically to this land from time immemorial. And each have their respective place in the civilization, in the land and in the society.
There are more than 26 tribes of Vana Vasi in Arunachal Pradesh, who follow their own customs and tradition, making it one of the most culturally diverse states in India.
Some of the major tribes being,
Arunachala, fire element and Sun worship
In South India, Shiva is manifested in the form of Arunachala hill at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.
As per the legends, this hill was originally a pillar of fire that appeared before Brahma and Vishnu. Brahma had flew towards one end to search for its origin while Vishnu had penetrated towards the other end taking the form of Varaha, the Boar, to bore to its other depths. But they could not reach the two ends of this column of fire.
Depiction of a legend in the Shivapurana – Search for the ends
This column of fire was a manifestation Shiva.
More on this legend in our book – Understanding Shiva.
The form of Shiva as Arunachala is associated with the fire element.
Arunachal Pradesh is the land of rising Sun, where the worship of Sun, a manifestation of the fire element, is prominent among all the tribes. Here Sun is worshipped as the Supreme Divinity.
Donyi Polo is a religion practiced here, which worships the Sun and the Moon, Donyi meaning the Sun and Polo, the Moon.
Si-Donyi is an important festival celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh, dedicated to the Sun.
There are also other tribes who worship the Sun.
Arunachal Pradesh is also home to many Buddhist monasteries.
Some of the prominent ones being,
The main occupation of Arunachal Pradesh is agriculture, while weaving is another vocation, popular mainly among the woman folk.
The people here are experts in creating beautiful carpets, wooden vessels, and silver articles.
Woodcarving is another favourite vocation, as also ornament making that is practiced in Arunachal Pradesh.
The state is also famous for its Bamboo handicrafts.
Arunachal Statehood Day is observed every year on 20th February, the day when Arunachal Pradesh became a state. A day to remember an important part of the Indian civilization. A state which apart from its rich flora and fauna, is also a home to richly diverse culture.