International Archaeology Day

Archaeology is a field of work that involves identifying ancient sites, some buried under mounds of sand, excavating artifacts from these ancient sites and by studying them, trying to establish the historical time period to which those artifacts must have belonged.

The word Archaeology is derived from archaic, meaning old, ancient, as archaeology involves uncovering our past.

India being an old civilization has got so much potential for archaeology, because there is so much that has got to be uncovered and excavated. There are archaeological sites all over India.

Access free eBook on International Archaeology Day : ArchaeologyDay

Arch day

International day for the Eradication of Poverty

If we look around anywhere in India, images of poverty hit us glaringly. So, what we read in the books tallies with what we see in reality, further substantiating the perception, that India is a poor country.

Yet our elders and traditional legends constantly speak of a Golden era in India’s ancient past. The various large, ornate ancient temples and monuments in India, are testaments of a different period filled with sophisticated workmanship, tastes and wealth.

The Vedic literature does not speak from the perspective of a poverty ridden society. The examples in the Vedic literature clearly indicate an advanced state of agriculture, metallurgy, trade, welfare and defence.

When we take the effort to look back at our past, the wholistic history of India, we discover that India had abundant all round wealth for the last few thousand years. Infact, we have recurring recordings of the people who have lived in India and visitors as well to India, who have repeatedly spoken of India as a very prosperous land that knew no poverty. India, from these descriptions, seems to have been one of the richest lands of the world.

If that was the reality, then how did India come to become a nation stricken with poverty? How did India get classified as a 3rd world country?

Property, Plunder, Poverty

Prosperity and poverty lie at two ends of the spectrum of material wealth.

In many, this chase for prosperity manifests itself as a normal, moderated desire, accepting what comes to them, as a reward. In some others, it manifests itself as a greed for money and power, leading to Plunder. Plunder and poverty are just 2 sides of the same coin. Plunder leads to poverty.

Gandhiji had once said,

“there is enough for man’s needs but not enough for his greed”.

Greed for money and power has always led to plunder, leading to poverty.

Poverty 1

Mahatma Gandhi

The thirst for prosperity and the malice of poverty are not limited to India alone. The malignancy of poverty is deep rooted in well over 100 countries of this world – the under developed, developing as well as developed nations. This makes the need for the ways to prosperity, as well as means to safeguard it, more immediate.

Thus Poverty Eradication Day was instituted by the United Nations, and is observed every year on October 17th, to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty.

Poverty 2

India has been plundered many times over in the last 1000 years.

Three Waves of Plunder

The plunders of India, can be slotted into 3 waves of looting:

  1. Near West Onslaughts – The onslaughts from the Near West such as that of Mohamad of Ghauri, Mohamad of Ghazni, around 1000 CE and that by Nadir Shah around 1700 CE.
  2. The Colonial Plunder – The drain of Indian wealth, primarily by the East India Company of the British between 1600 CE to 1947 CE.
  3. The Home-Grown Plunder – The looting of Indian money by Indians themselves from 1950 CE till date.

Poverty 3

Third Wave

At the time of Independence, we had about 50 % of population living in poor conditions.  65 years later, when we look around the land we still see half the population living in appalling conditions. While the government statistics show a picture of progress, the fact is that appalling poverty is still apparent after 65 years of poverty alleviation programs. One of the reasons is a wave of plunder, that has been prominent since independence.

Poverty 4

Poverty in India

In recent times, rumours have gained in strength and this issue of illegal monies has been exposed as a genuine problem not only of India but as a global cancer. In the case of India, this draining of the monies comes at the cost of depriving the nation of vitally needed development and progress and thereby furthering poverty.

For long, black money has been a part of a wave of plunder this country has seen, since independence.

The scams that have occurred have kept India a poor nation which manifests in the poverty and the slums that we have.

Poverty 5

This third wave of plunder can however be quantified, identified, repatriated and specifically channelized for the rejuvenation of the country as a whole, which we have discussed in detail in our book You Turn India.

Poverty 6

Prosperity Generation Model

The other means of poverty eradication lies in prosperity generation. Instead of talking about poverty alleviation, if we focus on prosperity generation, then the shift from poverty to prosperity can happen in present day India too.

While at the policy level, this needs to be the mantra, at implementation level, the tantra should be to move away from the centralized system of governance that was imposed by the British on India.

Centralization in India was imposed by the British as the intent of British administrators was to collect taxes. Which is why even today, we have the chief administrator of a district being called “a collector” – a colonial hangover.

This land was prosperous historically, because of a decentralized system of administration where every village panchayat was responsible for its prosperity. Kings and Kingdoms came and went but prosperity continued village after village across the land through the ages.

This was because the ethos of the land was driven towards prosperity generation through a decentralized system of self-governance. This made this civilization as a whole, an economic giant. It is time now to revert back to this time tested model that has given prosperity to this land. This will automatically eradicate poverty.

U Turn India

India has come down from prosperity in the past, to times of plunder, poverty and a parched land today. At the same time in recent years, India is being touted to be the next economic power house to be. All of a sudden, India is a very exciting place to be in. It is time to save India’s resources and put India back on the road to sustainable prosperity, to see her emerge as a world leader. It is time for a U Turn.

More on prosperity generation and poverty eradication in our book You Turn India.

Poverty 7

Karva Chauth

Karva Chauth Banner

Karva Chauth is the day when married women fast from sunrise to sunset for the protection and longevity of their husbands.

The festival is celebrated on the fourth day after Full Moon of Karthik month.

The festival is observed in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

11

Women praying for this husbands

Etymology

Karva means a pot and Chauth means ‘fourth’ in Samskrt, an obvious reference the ‘fourth day after Full Moon’.

There is also a legend associated with the name Karva Chauth.

The legend

A woman called Karva was deeply in love with her husband. One day while bathing in a river, a crocodile caught hold of her husband. She prayed to Yama, the divinity of death, to release her husband from imminent death. Yama respecting her love and steadfastness, her Vrta, bestowed him back to her.

Such stories are replete in every culture, in every land, through the times.

Commemorating these stories, women observe Karva Chauth, with steadfastness Vrta, for the health, Ayush, life of their loved ones, starting from their husband.

A period of harvest and military campaign

A Jawan, soldier and a Kissan, farmer are the backbone of any civilization.

Karva Chauth falls around the period when the wheat is sown. Karva also means pot in some languages. Wheat is stored in pots. Karva Chauth is the day when women pray for a good harvest for their husbands, the Kissans, farmers, so that the Karvas are full.

In ancient days, the period around Karva Chauth was also the time when soldiers ventured out for military campaigns.  Women used to conduct prayers on Karva Chauth for the protection of their husbands during a battle.

War Window

In ancient times, there was a clear war window. During monsoon it was not possible to go to battle. Soon after the monsoons was the time to go to battle.

The Rama Ravana War was fought after south west monsoon.

1

The Ramayana battle was fought post south west monsoon

The famous Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra was fought after the monsoons, before winter.

2

Mahabharata War was fought post monsoons

India’s East Pakistan war of 1971, for liberation of Bangladesh, was also fought after the monsoons.

3

The Bangladesh Liberation War also took place after the monsoons

Like this through the ages, post monsoon was considered an apt window to go to war.

Why only women observed Karva Chauth?

From those days, to the present days, it is mainly men who went to war and women stayed to look after the families, their farms, their other household activities. So it is natural, that the women prayed for the safe return of men folk, victorious in war. It was given this that Karva Chauth festival was observed by the women in this window.

There is also a legend associated with the name Karva Chauth.

For the sake of battle going men

In ancient days, it was not just the soldiers, the kshatriya who went to war, but also those belonging to other classes of the society. For example, the agriculturists and also went to battle to support their warriors.

This day was mainly observed for those husband folks who took part in a battle. It is this day that has permeated down to all classes of society as the Karva Chauth festival today.

Same festival, other places

Some of the other names, this observance is known by in other parts of the land being,

women festivals1.jpg

Women Deified

In Pre-modern India, women observing Karwa Chauth were deified and worshipped. Paintings depict woman on fast as embodiment of Goddess.

Also, in this land, women are known for their valour and bravery. They don’t play with Barbie dolls, but with swords.

1

Women as embodiment of Goddess

Selflessness and Steadfastness of Women

The observances such as Karva Chauth also show the selflessness of women, their caring nature and affection they have for their husbands, their family and society.

4

Such timeless festivals showcase the steadfastness of women to their family and near and dear. They bring out the noble qualities of women wherever they are, whatever language they may speak, whatever they may eat, whatever they may wear and however they may look!

Having food the proper Way

World Food Day

World Food Day is observed every year on 16th October, the day the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was found, in 1945.

E1

 

Process of Eating

Eating is an important aspect of our daily living. The way we eat, facilitates our health to a great extent.

The process of eating has multiple levels.

  1. Paaka – Cooking
  2. Patra – Plate, Vessel in which we consume and cook our food
  3. Asana – Posture in which we consume our food
  4. Parisheshanam – Purification and offering of food
  5. Sparsh – Feeling the food before eating
  6. Mudra
  7. Agni – Digestion

Paaka – Cooking

Firstly, the food is cooked. This is known as Paaka. The Hindi words Paka, Pakana for cooking have the same roots.

The food that we eat should have purity in three aspects,

  1. Patra Shudhi – Purity of Vessels in which the food is cooked
  2. Paaka Shudhi – Purity in the cooking process. The one who is cooking should cook in a good frame of mind.
  3. Padartha Shudhi – Purity in ingredients.

The cooking process is sanctified only if these three aspects are taken care of, resulting in a clean, tasty and healthy food.

Asana – Posture in which we eat

Sitting on the floor and eating has been one of the important traditions of this land.

The posture of sitting down while eating is called Sukhasana. There are some benefits in sitting in this pose while eating.

  1. In this posture, each time we take a mouthful, we have to bend over. In this front and back movement while bending, we activate the enzymes in the stomach, to be released for the digestion of the food.
  2. It also facilitates blood circulation from heart to the digestive organs.
  3. In this pose, we can eat only what we can, because of this front and back movement, and we cannot stuff ourselves with food, beyond our digestion capacity.

E2

Sitting down and eating

Patra – From where we eat

Eating on leaf, especially banana leaf is another tradition in India. When food comes in contact with the leaf, potassium is generated, an important mineral for our body.

E3

 

Parisheshanam

Parisheshanam is the act of purification of food. This act involves circling our cupped right palm, with water, around the leaf plate, before consuming food.

E4

Parisheshanam

This has multiple purposes.

  1. It helps the person consuming to focus on the food
  2. In this process, we thank all those people and creatures, due to whom we have food in our plates. The prayer one chants is Anna Data Sukhi Bhava.
  3. In this act we also offer food to the Divine. One of the popular mantra chanted before taking food, is a sloka from the Bhagavad Gita.

Brahmārpañam Brahma Havir
BrahmāgnauBrahmañāhutaṃ,

Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam
BrahmakarmāSamādhinah.

 

The act of offering is God. The oblation is God. By God it is offered into the Fire of God.

God is That which is to be attained by him who performs action pertaining to God.

This prayer wards of any ill effects of food poisoning that may have crept in in the process of bringing or making of the food

Sadham is food. Prasadham is Divine food. When you go through the process after offering to Divine, it is Prasadham.

4. Since the practice has been to eat with the leaf, placed on the floor, this encircled water will desist stray ants or insects from walking into the leaf.

5. This demarcation helps the person to clean up a place post the partaking of the food.

Sparsh – Feeling the Food

Eating food from hands has been one of the ancient ethos of India.

Among the Panchabhuta, the five elements. Sparsh, touch is one of the senses, unique to air, apart from sound which it derives from the preceding element Akasa, Space. We can not only hear the wind but also feel it when it touches you.

E5

The Panchabhuta

It is important to mash the food in our hands first. This lends Prana to the food, through the Naadi in our finger tips.

Feel the Food

We need to feel the food with our fingers and palms, before eating. Feeling is an integral part of life, without which there is no spice in life. Thus our food should reach our mouth from our hands, and not with a spoon or fork.

E6

Eating food with our hands

In Yoga, Mudra is a specific pose in a human body, and are known by different names. For example, Namaste s the name Anjali Mudra, Anjali meaning homage.

E7

Namaste– greeting the Divinity in the other

Similarly, there are various mudra of our fingers such as Chin Mudra and Chimaya Mudra. The fingers have Prana, and they are activated by these mudra. Hence eating by hands is highly recommended.

Agni –  Digestion

Samskrt word for digestion is Pachan, meaning digestion. From this word Pachan is derived the word Paaka, for cooking.

The digestive process is primarily of Agni and to an extent VayuPrana.

E8

Digestion – A Process of Agni

3 levels of digestion

There are 3 levels of digestion,

  1. Digestion in Hand
  2. Digestion in Mouth
  3. Digestion in stomach.

The first level of digestion is in the hands, and the second is in the mouth. This makes it easier when the food reaches the stomach enzymes.

Then the food is properly chewed & munched in the mouth. The ptyalin enzyme in our saliva does activity of digestion of the food in the mouth itself.

E9

ptyalin enzyme

Unfortunately we have bypassed the first 2 levels by eating with spoon and by eating very fast.  This has affected our digestion and health.

Food based on phases of the Moon

Food digestion is not limited to the body that takes food. It extends to the body of environment that surrounds this body, the climate, the heat, the wind, the water, and all these factors have a role to play in our digestion. The Moon too has a role to play in our digestion. For example, on Amavasya day, we enjoy a traditional feast. On Ekadasi, the 11th phase of the Moon, we keep Upavas and do not eat solids the whole day. On Dwadasi, on 12th phase of the Moon, the succeeding day, we start our meal with lemon and Amla – gooseberry, for, lemon juice, or lemon Rasam helps a person break the Upavas. And Amla is spiritual vitamin C.

Similarly, for each phase of the Moon, for each region of topography different foods have been suggested so that our food intake and digestion are in sync with the rhythm of Nature.

E10

Phases of Moon – Krishna paksha (waxing) & Shukla paksha (waning)

Make Bhog into a Yog

Eating food the right way and in right quantity will ensure a good health. There is a popular saying which says, “Those who eat once in a day is a Yogi. Those who eat twice is a Bhogi. Those who eat thrice is a Rogi.”

There is a Tamil saying Marinde Unavu, meaning “If you eat properly, food itself is a good medicine that will keep you healthy.”

The act of consuming food is known as Bhog. By following the above the right process of eating, we convert Bhog into a Yog, so that we are not effected by any Rog, disease.

World Food Day

Food, Anna is the primary source of energy that supports our life. A living being is comprised of 5 sheaths which are methodically layered, progressively from gross, physical constituents to subtler constituents.

Panchakosha

The Upanishad goes on to discuss the 5 sheaths or layers called Panchakosha. Pancha means 5 and Kosha means sheath, layer and even a treasure chest or container.

fd1

Existence in Indian Thought

It is a systematic description of the composition of a being, its existence, its functioning, as well as its place in the entire Creation.

According to the Panchakosha definition, each sheath nurtures the being appropriately and also maintains equilibrium with its respective likeness in the cosmos. Hence each of the 5 sheaths, the Kosha, was named based on what it is centered about, denoted by the suffix aya.

Of these 5 sheaths, Panchakosha, the very first Kosha is the sheath of Food.

Annamaya Kosha

Anna means food. This is that sheath of a being which is centered about Physical Matter / Energy and is nurtured mainly by food and also by air, water, light etc. This then maps to the gross, physical body which is made of the 5 elements, Panchabhuta – Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We know this sheath quite well from knowledge of our own body as well as what we have learnt about it from our elders and further in detail from modern Science.

In short, this Kosha denotes the physical needs of mankind that contribute towards the physical growth of the matter based body. It is that which gives mankind a physical form of a particular kind that allows him to perform certain physical motions and activities.

This sheath which consists of our physical existence, has its basis on the food that we eat, and without which we cannot survive.

More on Annamaya Kosha and Panchakosha, Autobiography Of India – Brand Bharat – Future From India.

fd2

 

More Details in World Food Day eBook : World Food Day

World Dictionary Day

Noah Webster

Every year, 16th October is observed as ‘World Dictionary Day’, marking the birthday of the great American lexicographer, Noah Webster – the father of the modern dictionary.

Dictionary 1

Webster’s negative experiences in his primary school motivated him to improve the education experience of future generations. They had poor underpaid staff, no desks, and unsatisfactory textbooks that came from England. Webster believed that Americans should learn from American books; so he wrote a three-volume compendium, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The work consisted of a speller (1783), a grammar (1784), and a reader (1785). His goal was to provide a uniquely American approach to educating children.

Webster was not just a lexicographer. He was also an American textbook pioneer, an English-language spelling reformer, a political writer, an editor, and a prolific author. His blue-backed speller books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read, secularising their education. His two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828 (when he was 70) earned him a place in history as the foremost lexicographer of American English.

Webster took 28 years to complete the American Dictionary. During this period, he learned 26 languages, including Old English, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. The final draft listed and defined 70,000 words. This had 30,000 words more than Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, which was published almost a century earlier. One out of every six words in Webster’s dictionary was not listed in any dictionary earlier.

He took the opportunity to push through his ideas on English spelling reform such as ‘center’, ‘color’, ‘honor’, ‘ax’, etc.

Earlier Dictionaries

Samuel Johnson published an English dictionary on 15th April 1755. The Johnson’s

Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.

Johnson took nearly nine years to complete the work. Remarkably, he did so singlehandedly, with only clerical assistance to copy the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life.

Johnson’s dictionary was neither the first English dictionary, nor even among the first dozen. Over the previous 150 years, more than twenty dictionaries were published in England, the oldest of these being a Latin-English “Wordbook” by Sir Thomas Elyot, published in 1538.

Robert Cawdrey’s “Table Alphabeticall”, published in 1604, was the first single-language English dictionary ever published. It lists approximately 3000 words, defining each one with a simple and brief description. At this time, the English language was expanding – influenced by trade, travel and new innovations in the fields of arts and sciences.

Right from 1538, the English dictionary had been evolving, leading to detailed compilation of the word, usage in a sentence, the Thesaurus, and Technical dictionaries relating to specific domains.

Dictionary 2

Some Interesting Facts About Dictionaries

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, together with its 1993 Addenda Section, includes around 470,000 entries. The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, reports that it contains a similar number.

There are 18 popular English dictionaries available. Nowadays, many online dictionaries have also become popular.

(Content from Prime Point Srinivasan- by Sukruti A Vadula)

International Day of Rural Women

India is an agrarian society. Farming has been a vocation of Rural Women. Woman is a natural home maker. Rural women not only maintain their homes, but also take part in agriculture related activities, for in Rural areas and in agrarian societies, agriculture is the main vocation, and everyone in the family pitches in their bit. Rural women by nature being able bodied and hardworking, take on hard and back breaking work that agriculture demands.

The world celebrates October 15th every year as International Day for Rural Women, to celebrate the key role that women play in sustaining our lives.

Rural Women 1

Resources held by Rural Women

The key resources and wealth in an agrarian society are

  • Land
  • Water
  • Good Seeds
  • Cattle for farming

Rural women were the custodian of these resources in ancient India.

Rural Women 2

Fertility chain of women, their Stree Dhana

Land

In ancient India, it was also the birthright of women to own land. Property that was held by the women was transferred to other women in the family like daughter, daughter-in-law or granddaughter.

Rural Women 3

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, through the ages, it is the rural women, who have stood in the forefront of ensuring the proper harnessing and use of water,

  • In their own houses and 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 see that all the way from ancient to medieval India, women have happily parted with their jewellery and donated it 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 wealth, demonstrates that women were not only physically involved by offering their labour 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.

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 in ancient days was a natural role for the women, post the harvest, to identify and isolate the best grains from the harvest and preserve it for sowing during the next season. Rural Women 4

Women selecting the best seeds

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

The seeds or Bheeja were stored and safeguarded from rodents in a separate silo within the house itself. These were called Orai in Tamil. The women were well versed with native techniques of preserving these seeds from rodents, germs and decay.

This was her share of responsibility for the quality of the next crop.

Cattle

Cattle which has been another key input to farming was revered not only 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 had a special place in the eyes of the Indians and has therefore been one of the forms of wealth of the land for a very 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.

Rural Women 5

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.

Griha Lakshmi

Thus we see that rural 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.

When the women held land, cows, seeds and water in the society, it is but natural that they also held the respect in the family from the male members and the society at large. She was the Griha Lakshmi of the house.