Delhi-The Capital from many millennia

On 12th December 1911, George V, the then Emperor of India, along with Queen Mary, his consort announced that Delhi would replace Calcutta as the capital of India.

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Delhi Durbar For Coronation of King George V as Emperor of India, 1911

Twenty years later, India’s capital was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta, and was inaugurated on 13th February 1931. The city continues to be the capital of the Republic of India, after independence.

From ancient to modern times, Delhi has been the capital of many kingdoms. The history of Delhi is traceable atleast upto the Mahabharata period. There are seven prominent cities that existed during earlier periods, in the region where Delhi stands today.

  • Indraprastha of Mahabharata period built by Pandava
  • Dilli capital of the Tomar dynasty
  • Prithviraj Chauhan’s Dilli
  • Lodhi’s Dehli
  • Humayun’s Dehli – present South Delhi
  • Shah Jahan’s Dehli – present North or Old Delhi
  • Lutyens Delhi – The New Delhi

Indraprastha

Pandava built their capital and called it Indraprastha after Indra, the leader of divinities. Indra also denotes senses. Indraprastha was a city which delighted the senses. Prastha means clearing. Indraprastha was constructed, by clearing the thickly forested region, Khandavaprastha.

This city was built by a descendant of Mayasura whose life Arjuna had saved earlier. This was an act of gratitude from the Mayasura clan with their timeless skills of architecture.

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Mayasura Speaking to Arjuna and Krishna

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Hence the best hall in this city of Indraprastha was commemoratively called as Maya Sabha after the Mayasura.

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The Maya Sabha

Khandavaprastha

Khandavaprastha has been traced to the areas around present day Delhi. The word Khandava means plains. Khandava also means sugar candy or products that come out of sugar.

It is interesting to note that the region from Meerut in Western Uttar Pradesh to Kurukshetra and beyond in Haryana is a sugarcane belt indeed. The erstwhile Khandavaprastha falls within this belt.

When one travels through this region by land and air, we see endless sugarcane fields, molasses factories and the smoke that arises from their chimneys. An intermediary product between jaggery and sugar is called khandsari.

In 1350 CE, about 700 years ago too, when Ibn Batuta, the Persian traveller visited these regions, he found this region abounding in sugarcane fields, which he has mentioned in his chronicles.

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Ibn Batuta amidst sugarcane fields

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An aerial view of sugarcane fields

Going by the name “Khandavaprastha” used for this region during the Mahabharata period, this perhaps must have been a feature, a produce of this land from 5100 years ago during the Mahabharata period too.

Indraprastha to Delhi

Indraprastha became Delhi after King Dhilu and finally the Tomars were the last to rule Delhi. They ruled for over 500 years until 12th century CE. The last of these kings was Prithviraj Chauhan.

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Raja Prithviraj Chauhan

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CITM Lake in Asola (Faridabad), next to Arangpur, which was the first town established by Tomars

The ruins of the palaces and forts of all these kings, form the area known as Purana Khila of Delhi today. Purana means old. A destroyed fort is called Khila.

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Qutub Minar

Delhi becomes Sultanate

After Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Muhamad of Ghori, successive Islamic dynasties ruled from Delhi such as the Mamluk or Slave dynasty, Khilji, Tughlaq, Lodhi and Mughals. Delhi became a Sultanate.

During those times this fort was called “Shergarh” after Emperor Sher Shah Suri who had taken it over from Humayun. Ain-i-Akbari refers to this fort as “Kaurav-Pandav ka Qila” meaning the fort of the Kaurava and Pandava.

Purana Khila area or Indraprastha, had thus been a continuous capital from 3100 BCE, when it was built by the Pandava, to 1192 CE, when it was ransacked by Muhammad of Ghori. So, for a period of 4000 years, it had been the capital city of the local kingdom. It therefore has enough scope for offering archaeological finds.

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Purana Khila – an early photograph

This area is not far away in some wilderness but right in the heart of the present day capital city of India, Delhi.

Excavation at Purana Khila

Dr. Upinder Singh, the noted historian has remarked that the Purana Khila was excavated in the 1950s by the Archaeological Survey of India, but its report has not been published so far.

Dr. Singh further states in her works, that the area around Purana Khila and different parts around Delhi regularly keep throwing up artifacts which keep on pushing the historical backgrounds of Delhi further and further, back in time.

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Illustration of the City of Delhi during the times of Shahjahan – Shahjahanabad 

Ruins of ancient Delhi are in the circled area, top left

More on Delhi and Indraprastha in our book “Historical Krishna”.

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This Delhi region was much prosperous, which attracted many plunderers.

1737 – Battle of Delhi

On 28th March 1737, the Battle of Delhi was fought between the Mughals and the Marathas. Though the Mughal army consisted of 2,50,000 men, Peshwa Baji Rao I, at the head of a mere 70,000 soldiers, defeated them with his brilliant strategy.

An image of the battle from Amar Chitra Katha

1739 – Plunder by Nadir Shah

In 1739 CE, Nadir Shah, an invader who came from north west, ransacked Delhi. His troops unleashed a 57 day, general massacre on Delhi, then probably the most prosperous city of the world and took back as spoils of war, treasures assessed at Rupees 70 Crores of those days’ value, along with priceless artefacts such as the Peacock throne and the Kohinoor Diamond, currently on exhibit at the Tower of London.

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Nadir Shah

                                           Delhi 14     Delhi 15

                                                     The Peacock throne                     The Kohinoor Diamond

More on this in our book “You Turn India”.

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Nehru on Delhi

Delhi is an epitome and symbol of India’s historical continuity and prosperity. It will be apt to end here with a quote from our first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru convocation address, at Delhi University in 1958.

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Jawahar Lal Nehru

“Here we stand in Delhi city, symbol of old India and the new. It is not the narrow lanes and houses of old Delhi nor the wide spaces and rather pretentious buildings of New Delhi that count, but the spirit of this ancient city. Delhi has been an epitome of India’s history with its succession of glory and disaster and with its great capacity to absorb many cultures and yet remain itself. It is a gem with many facets, some bright and some darkened by age, presenting the course of ‘India’s life and thought during the ages.”

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Babu Genu

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Very few people in this country are even aware of this young martyr, who was done in, in the most gruesome manner by the British dictators. While the exact birth date of this young hero is yet to be ascertained, it is confirmed that he was born in 1908. So, Babu Genu was just 22 years, when he met his end on 12th December 1930, fighting the British. It is the memory of such freedom fighters that India should nurture, in order to truly understand the great sacrifices of those who collectively brought India freedom. The youth of India then were not afraid to raise their voices against the British administration, and in the process even risked their lives.

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Babu Genu

Early Life

Babu Genu was born in 1908, into a poverty ridden family, in the Pune district of Maharashtra. His father was a farmer, and the only prized possession of the family was a bullock, that was used for farming. The other members of his family were his mother, two elder brothers and a sister. His father passed away in 1910, when he was only 2 years old. Then came the second blow, when the bullock died. These were the twin tragedies that Babu Genu had to face, very early on in his life, and given their economic background, his mother was left with an uphill task of running the family. She left her sons back in the villages, and moved to Mumbai, in order to earn a livelihood as a domestic help.

While the economic situation of his family meant that Babu Genu was deprived of a formal education, this did not deter him from understanding the ground realities facing the country under British Administration.

Joining the Freedom Movement

Babu Genu soon joined his mother in Mumbai and sought to support her, as a casual labourer in the mills of Mumbai. Meanwhile, he also got in touch with a few leaders of the freedom movement, and understood the freedom struggle in its true perspective. Very soon, Babu Genu was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the principles of non-violence and Satyagraha, enunciated by him. He joined the Indian National Congress and became a part of the Freedom Movement.

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Mahatma Gandhi

The Understanding of Babu Genu

Even at a young age Babu Genu was able to grasp the symbiotic link between geo-politics and geo-economics. He knew that economics was the driving force of British rule and establishment of the British Raj was merely a ruse to perpetuate the economic dominance of the British over India. If the British were to be economically crippled, then their rule would collapse.

It is this aspect of the struggle that Babu Genu focused on, and was a strong advocate of Swadesh goods, which led to his eventual martyrdom in 1930.

Martyrdom

On 12th December, 1930, a cloth merchant, George Frazier of Manchester was transporting his foreign produced cloths from his shop at old Hanuman Galli in Mumbai, to Mumbai port. The activists of freedom struggle, requested them not to move the truck, but their calls were of no avail, as this merchant had sought and got full police protection. The protesters were driven away by the police, as the truck began to move.

Near Bhaangwadi on Kalbadevi Road, Shahid Babu Genu stood in front of the truck, shouting praises for Mahatma Gandhi. The police officer ordered the driver to drive the truck over Shahid Babu Genu. But the driver was an Indian. He refused and said “I am Indian and he is also Indian and we both are brothers to each other. How can I murder my brother?”

The English police officer was infuriated and pushed away the truck driver and himself sat on the driver’s seat. He now drove the truck over Babu Genu and crushed him to death. This resulted in a huge wave of anger, strikes, and protests throughout Mumbai.

In his honour

Today, there are many landmarks named after Babu Genu in Maharashtra, such as Babu Genu Ground in Mumbai, Babu Genu Said Wadi in Pune district, Babu Genu Chowk in Pune, and Babu Genu Mandal in Pune.

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Babu Genu Mandal Pune

The road passing at the Hanuman Galli in Mumbai is today named after Babu Genu.

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Babu Genu Road, Mumbai

A Dam on Ghod River, in the Dimbhe Taluk, near Pune, is named after Babu Genu, namely Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam, Hutatma meaning martyr and Sagar, sea.

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Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam

Revive memories of our Freedom fighters

A youth of just 22 years had stood strong and given up his life for the cause of the Indian Independence movement. Should we forget the sacrifices of such martyrs, who sowed the seeds of freedom, which we all are all enjoying now? It is high time we revive the memories and contributions of these martyrs, which will be a fitting tribute to their sacrifices. Long live the memory of Babu Genu and all other martyrs whose sacrifices brought us freedom.

Vivaha Panchami

Rama Sita Marriage

Vivaha Panchami is celebrated as the day when Rama was married to Sita, across India and Nepal. In the Indian calendar, this day is observed on the fifth day – Panchami of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in the Margashirsha.

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Rama Sita Marriage

In Gregorian Calendar

What will be this date in the Gregorian calendar?

Rama was 13 years at the time of his marriage. When Ravana came in disguise as a mendicant to Sita, asking for alms, she introduces herself as the wife of Rama and daughter-in-law of Dasaratha. She goes on to express that at the time of Vanvas, exile, her husband was 25 years in age. She continues to state that since her marriage to Rama, she lived in Ayodhya for 12 years.

From this, we can understand that Rama had completed 13 years at the time of his marriage.

5101 BCE

Rama’s birth date has been arrived at as 12:30 in the afternoon on 10th January 5114 BCE. By going ahead 13 years in Rama’s life, we can arrive at the year of Rama’s marriage, as 5101 BCE.

5114 – 13 = 5101 BCE.

This tallies very well and fits in correctly with the dialogue that Sita had with Ravana before abduction.

7119th Anniversary

So, this year 2018 CE, when we add 5101 and 2018, is 7119th wedding anniversary of Rama and Sita.

Celebrations

Rama’s and Sita’s wedding was performed at Janakapur in capital city of Mithila, in present day Nepal.

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Janakpur, Nepal

To this day, Margashirsha, Shukla Paksha Panchami day is remembered as Vivaha Panchami in Janakapur, as thousands flock here every year on this day. Vivaha Panchami day is national holiday in country of Nepal. A celebration continued for 7100 years.

International Mountain Day

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“International Mountain Day”, instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.

In the Indian ethos the mountains have not been looked at as only a geographical phenomenon but have been intrinsically linked with the ethos of the land. The mountains have formed an important aspect of the sustainability ethos of the land through the ages.

Vanavasi

The people who have lived in this land in the forest of the mountainous region have been respectfully referred to in the Indian tradition as vanavasi. They have been the custodians’ guardians of these mountains big and small.

Adivasi

In the name of development and classification these vanavasi have been now classified as adivasi and as scheduled tribes. These modern classifications have been a restricting factor in the activity of these vanavasi. These nomenclatures also have a shade of non-respectful reference.

If we have to look at the mountains to be sustainable component of our land, we should not only respect the mountains but as well respect the people who have made these mountains their homes and given them the right to safeguard the mountain scape which they have been innately capable of, which they have been maintaining from the past many millennia.

Parvat- Parvati

In the Indian thought the mountains, hills have been revered through the ages. The hills are called Parvat. The chief of the hills is Parvat Raja. The daughter of this Parvat Raja is Parvati who is the consort of Shiva. Parvati is thus the daughter of the hill. That is the reverence that the hills and the hill people have received in the Indian thought. The tallest and the mightiest mountain range in the world is Himalaya. The very word Himalaya comes from the word him meaning “snow” and alaya meaning “the abode of”, hence, “the abode of snow”. It is the same term as alaya which we use for temple. Thus we respectfully refer to the grand mountain as alaya, the “temple of snow”.

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Himalaya, “the abode of snow”

Goverdhangiri

Krishna who lived around 3100 BCE asked his people to venerate Goverdhangiri the nearby hill which provided the gracing pastures for their cows and livelihood for all of them. The consequent episode of Goverdhangiri is well known and has been retold many a times in poetry and different art forms.

Boundaries of India

In the north we all know it is bounded by the Himalayas, the great snowcap mountains. In the East, the boundaries of India start from Arunachala, aruna meaning the first rays of the sun and achala meaning the hill. So Arunachala meaning where the first rays of the sun fall on the hills of the land which is today referred to as the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. In the west, the boundaries of India are extended till Astachal, ast meaning to set, achala meaning hills, the hills over which the setting sun sets. These were the hills in the west of Afghanistan. Thus we see even the boundaries of this great land through the ages has been referred to the three mountains; Himachal, Arunachal, Astachal. Every hill is venerated and festivals are celebrated around the hill by the local throughout the land. Such veneration has been there for many millennia for the people recognized that their hill formed a sustainable part of this life. While the term sustainability may seem like a new age word, it was seen in practice in this land in many fields, here in this case with the hills and mountains.

Let us, this day, the International Mountain Day, recognize the intrinsic role that shall play between man, flora, fauna and mountains in sustaining each other.

Subramanya Bharati

Subramanya Bharati, popularly known as ‘Mahakavi Bharathiar’, is one of the greatest Tamil poets, who through his poems encouraged patriotism among people at the time of Indian Freedom Struggle.

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Mahakavi Bharathiar

Three Contemporary Freedom Fighters

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Moovar (1)

Leading Literary Figure

Considered one of the leading figures in Tamil literature, Subramanya Bharati’s works mainly ranged in social, religious and patriotic arena.

Subramanya Bharati, affectionately called Bharathiar was born in Ettyapuram on December 11th, 1882. He completed his education in Tirunelveli and Varanasi.

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Birth Place of Bharathiar

Taking part in Freedom struggle

He joined the Indian National Congress and carried out revolutionary activities against the British rule, an aspect of which was his stirring poetry through which he kindled nationalism in people.

He also wrote articles for newspapers such as Swadeshamitra and India.

A National Poet

Mahatma Gandhi called him a national poet.

Poems on Women Emancipation

Among his poems were also many songs for women’s emancipation with the title of Kannama.

Coming to Pondicherry

The British police issued a warrant against him in 1908 for carrying out revolutionary activities. Bharathiar then went to Pondicherry, a French colony and lived there for the next 10 years. Here, he translated the Bhagavad Gita into Tamil.

Friendship with V O Chidambaram Pillai

Bharathiar was a close friend of V O Chidambaram Pillai, the other great freedom fighter who started the Swadeshi Shipping Company, forcibly closed by the British, as they perceived it as a threat to British interests.

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V O Chidambaram Pillai                 Swadeshi Shipping Company

The End

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Bharathiar’s end came when he was shoved aside by an elephant in mast, at the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, Madras. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away on 11th September, 1921.

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  Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvallikeni

Among his great grandchildren, Rajkumar Bharati is carrying forward his legacy.

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Rajkumar Bharati

The home where he spent the last few years of his life in Triplicane, also called Thiruvallikeni, has been named Bharathiar Illam, which stands adjacent to the Parthasarathy Temple.

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                    Bharathiar Illam                             

Vast Popularity

In Tamil Films

The songs of Bharathiar have been used in the Tamil films and Carnatic Music, for the past many decades.

Feature Film – Bharathi

Bharathi, a film on the life of Bharathiar was released in the year 2000. This film won the National Film Award for best Tamil Feature Film, for the year 2000.

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Bharathi Film on Bharathiar’s life

Streets, Associations and University in name

Almost every town of Tamil Nadu has a Bharathiar street. Tamil associations in different cities of the world have been named after him. There is a University in his name at Coimbatore. Such are his literary achievements.

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Bharathiar University, Coimbatore

Stamps in name

There are also stamps and coins released in his name by the government of India.

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Stamp on Bharathiar

Statues and Idols

Many statues have been erected for Bharatiyar all over Tamil Nadu. There are also some temples where his idol can be found. One such place is in Madhya Kailash temple in Adayar, Chennai, which has an idol for Bharathiar.

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                  Statue of Bharathiar, Chennai                                     Statue of Bharathiar, Pondicherry  

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Bharathiar Statue in Varanasi

All these speak of the immense popularity and wide acceptance of this Mahakavi.

Human Rights Day

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In the last few centuries, the mind-set has been to demand the rights for oneself than to perform one’s duties. Probably one telling shift from this mind-set was when John F Kennedy in his swearing in speech said “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

Through this telling speech, he tried to bring in the concept of duty over right.

Today, we are living in a totally commercial world, where every act is looked at, for its return and profitability. This trait has disturbed the equilibrium of life and nature and has contributed to the decline in societal values and the moral chaos we find ourselves in now.

One of the aspects of Universal message of Krishna, 5000 years ago, was the concept of Nishkama Karma – to do one’s duty dispassionately in line with one’s natural Dharma or resonate with the pulse of nature, without any attachments to the benefits to oneself as separated from nature.

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Taking from the past teachings of Krishna 5000 years ago and John F Kennedy’s message, 50 years ago, in this Millennium, the concept of Nishkama Karma or to do one’s duties, could the message for the new Millennium than just keeping on asking for rights and rights and more rights…

International Anti Corruption Day

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Corruption – The Cancer

Corruption forms a wave of plunder which started soon after India’s Independence. It is a case of Indians themselves looting India. Scams and slums in India are but two sides of the same coin. The scams that have occurred have kept India a poor nation which manifests in the poverty and the slums that we have. If only we could remove the scar of the scams, India would be prosperous once again.

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The divide between “the haves” and “the have” nots due to Corruption

How do we combat this Cancer of Corruption?

Cure for this Cancer

The cure for this Cancer can come from two sides,

  • External, using outside agents – as part of Bhedha and Dhanda
  • Internal, from within – as part of Sama and Dhana

The external approach is by implementing stiff laws, firm policing, tracking down of the stashed money to the ends of the world and repatriating them back to India. The punishments that come along with policing, tracking and repatriation will obviously be the external force that should make people comply.

In an inside out approach, in order to bring those citizens who are playing truant, to adhere to the framework of society, we first need to understand the reason behind their acts.

We need to first ponder over why a person becomes corrupt. One finds that it is usually fear and insecurity of the future that makes one corrupt. Hence to attack Corruption from within, one needs to work at this root cause of fear and insecurity.

5Cs

The carefully thought out 5C approach of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar comes to our mind as a guide to combat corruption, the 5Cs being,

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His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

1. Connectedness: In a small society or village, people are connected to one another. The belongingness to the land and people is more in such small societies. If we observe carefully, corruption is also low here. It is in the urban areas where there is not much connect with the society or the land, where there is no particular sense of connect, that the corruption is higher.

2. Courage: Lack of confidence in one’s own ability, leads to lack of self-esteem and thus lack of courage in taking up initiatives or standing up to face challenges. This in turn creates insecurity and fear in a person which makes one corrupt, in the false hope that by hoarding, one can become secure, little realizing that in fact, when a person hoards, he or she becomes even more insecure. This is a vicious cycle.

3. Cosmic Order: To connect with oneself again and get confidence, one needs to pause and look around. Not just in the immediate vicinity but all the way up into the cosmos. This universe, the stars, this earth, life and humans have been around for millions of years. Everything in this creation is cyclical. Everything here is part of nature and our life span which we think is long, is in fact, just a drop in the cycles of time, which goes for millions of years. This opening of one’s vision, mind and broadening of the horizon will create a self-realization in one, that one is only here for a few passing moments in the life span of this earth and all the hoarding will come to nought as time moves on. If one is explained this in the right perspective and realizes it, then comes the fourth C.

4. Compassion: The realization that we are part of this cosmos and whether we like it or not, we are just a passing phase in this rhythmic cycle of nature, emphasizes how insignificant we are in the whole scheme of the Universe. A realization which in turn will help us to live as one with nature and live as per the nature of human beings, the Dharma of human beings, which is to care and be compassionate to fellow human beings. This positive act of compassion, while it may be there in the animal kingdom, is more pronounced as a characteristic in man. And where there is compassion, corruption cannot creep in.

5. Commitment: To achieve all these, what is required is the 5th C i.e., Commitment.

Realizing the first 4 Cs is not enough, if it is not transferred into action. That comes from commitment. This commitment comes from within a person.

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The 5C chain

Combating corruption is not just an external effort of policing by an external body but is also an internal effort of realization and change within oneself.

More on Corruption, the way to deal with it and ways to bring back black money, in our book You Turn India.

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