Galileo Galelei

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Sir Galileo Galelei is one of the great names who revolutionized science in the 17th century. He is the father of science. He is the father of modern physics and scientific method in Europe. He is also the father of observational astronomy. He was a physicist, a mathematician, an astronomer, and a philosopher all rolled into one. This great scientist had his advent on 15th February, 1564 at Pisa in Italy.

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Galileo Galelei

Galileo’s achievements

Galileo’s achievements are many. Some of them being,

  • Discovered that the earth is round, for the people of Europe
  • Confirmed telescopically the phases of Venus
  • Carried forward the understanding of Heliocentric model, after Nicholas Copernicus
  • Observed and analyzed sunspots
  • Discovered the 5 large satellites of Jupiter, which is known as Galilean satellites

Galileo’s discovery and the opposition

Galileo was the one discovered that the earth is round and not flat. Before that, the people in the West were of the view that earth is flat.

When Galileo published his view on the earth being round, and about the Heliocentric model, he was vehemently opposed by the church. A church priest then cried out in a court of law, saying,

“Commonsense must tell anyone that the earth cannot possibly be a ball, otherwise, the people on the lower half would fall into the void”.

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The Priest’s view on what would happen if the earth were to be round

It is clear that the people in the west didn’t understand gravity, for such a view being presented by the priest. The world later on understood and accepted Galileo discovery, as modern science made great advances.

Galileo’s Trial and house arrest

The Pope Urban VIII ordered Galileo to stand trial for heresey in 1633, as his views were found to be “absurd, phylosophically false, and formally heretical, because they were contrary to Holy Scriptures.”

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Galileo Inquisition

Galileo recanted his opinion to  save his life, and lived under house arrest. While under house arrest, he wrote one of his best-known works, Two New Sciences, in which he summarized work he had done some forty years earlier on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.

Galileo passed away on 8th January 1642, Italy, while serving house arrest.

It was only 1978, Pope John -11, pardoned Galileo, when it was well established that the earth is round.

Astronomy, a subject in India, even before Galileo

The world is of the opinion that Astronomy existed as a subject, only after Galileo. The reality is quite different.

Indian Jyotisha, Astronomy is a science par excellence that the ancient Indians had developed. Indian astronomers have written a series of astronomical treaties through millennia which form a rich contribution of Indians to the world of astronomical sciences.

The scientific aspects discussed in Indian Astronomy, Ganita Jyotisha include,

  • Heliocentric view in Indian Astronomy
  • Navagraha
  • Scientific naming of planets and stars
  • Comets
  • Eclipse
  • Parallax
  • Distances in space
  • Horizon
  • Measurement of astral bodies
  • Ashtami/Navami

Indians knew the earth was round

Indians also knew that the earth is round. They always called the earth as “Bhugola”. Bhu means “earth” and Gola means “round”.  Bhugola means, “the earth which is round shaped”. This very word for earth, shows that the ancients of this land knew that the earth is round.

Aryabhatta wrote his book “Aryabhatiyam” in the year 499 CE, when he was just 23 years in age. In this work, he clearly mentions the earth as being round. This is full thousand years before Galileo and others in Europe proved and accepted that the earth is round.

Indians also knew of a land on the other side of the globe, from India, which was known as Siddhapura in the Indian astronomical texts. This again establishes that the ancient Indians, very well knew of a place on the other side of the globe, exactly 180 degrees, opposite to India.

Heliocentric Model

The west had adopted the heliocentric model after Galileo proposed it, 400 years ago, and before that it was the geocentric model that was in vogue.

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The Geocentric model

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Galileo

In contrast, the India texts pertaining to Ganitha Jyotisha, the Veda and other texts have all along been mentioning heliocentric model for many millennia.

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The Heliocentric Model

Heliocentric comes from the Greek word Helios, meaning Sun. In this view, the sun is at the centre of everything in the sky. Ganitha Jyotisha, Astronomy with its inclination to accurate recordings has always held the helio-centric view point. This is clearly indicated in a shloka in Rig Veda, compiled over 5000 years ago.

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The Shloka in Rig Veda

According to the above sloka, the moon which is the satellite of the earth revolves around its mother planet and follows it in its revolution around the sun.

This sloka clearly indicates that the people of this country had recorded the helio-centric model, 5000 years ago.

If we see the arrangements of idols in a Navagraha temple, it is always seen that the idol of sun is in the centre, surrounded by the idols of other planets.

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Navagraha shrine with the idol of sun in centre

This again testifies that Indians always knew and followed the heliocentric model. They knew that all the planets revolved around the sun. Hence, the Solar System is called Surya Mallika, Surya meaning Sun.

 Astronomy was a subject in India even before Galileo!

More on Indian Astronomy in our documentary film, Wonders of Indian Astronomy, and short film.

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February – A Lovely Month

February is a short sweet month. It is a time when the cold winters have just receded.  A month which is not yet hot.  A transitory month.  A month of spring in some parts of the world. A month where trees, plants and over all nature bloom forth with life after the cold, when they were in hibernation.

This is the month, when nature begins to bloom. In recent times, this month is much awaited for, for the celebration of Lovers’ Day, Valentine’s Day on February 14th.

Why is this day alone celebrated as Lovers’ Day? And what is its connection with Saint Valentine?

There are at least 3 Saint Valentines in the early part of the first millennium.  These three different Saints were all known by the name Valentine or Valentines.

Emperor Claudius of Rome thought that single men made better soldiers than married men with wives and families.

 Emporer Claudius II

Emperor Claudius

So he outlawed marriages for young men. Saint Valentine defied the decree of Emperor Claudius and got young lovers married, in secret. When this act of Valentine was discovered, he was put to death. This probably could be the reason for linking Saint Valentine to young lovers.

 Saint Valentine

St.Valentine getting a couple married – A painting

In all the old cultures of the world, including India, this transitory month between winter and summer, February and March, was earlier celebrated as the Vasantha Utsav month. The Vasantha season was considered fit not only for humans to fall in love this month and marry, even the divinities thought this month fit to marry in. Thus Rama married Sita, Shiva married Parvathi, and in South India, Kartikeya married Devasena during this period.

It is a season of celestial marriages when nature is more pleasant and conducive for endearing thoughts and deeds. It is in this month that Krishna played with the Gopika.

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Krishna playing Holi with Gopika – a painting

The Vasantha Utsav, the  month long celebration culminates in the Holi festival, festival of colours, festival of joy when people come together, forgive each other, bond with each other, forgetting the mistakes of the past.

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Colours of Holi

In Punjab it is celebrated as Basant Panchami, also has “Hola Mohalla” festival.

 Basant-panchani

Mustard Fields in Spring

In Rajasthan as “Gajh Shingaar”, “Jamboo Holi” and in Bengal as “Nabanna Utsav”. In Goa it is celebrated as “Shigmotsav”.

In down south, in Tamil Nadu, from time immemorial, it has been celebrated as “Indira Vizha” or the festival of Indra, for the whole month.

In Tamil Nadu, one of the descendents of the Maratha King, Chatrapati Shivaji, a king by the name Sarfoji Maharaja of Tanjavur, used to visit the Manmada temple, the temple of Cupid, with his wife everyday of this month and encouraged young lovers to visit the riverside and enjoy the beauty which nature has to offer.

What comes forth to us from this, is that,  much in contrast with a single evening, spent in pubs or night club parties or hotel dinners,  it is not  February 14th alone that is the Lovers’ Day, as celebrated in the limited sense now, but it is a ageless tradition of a whole month of celebration of the beauty that nature has to offer us.

A beauty to be enjoyed in the company of our loved ones, adhering to the norms of a civilised society, in a civilized manner.  It is a time for re-establishing the sense of harmony between loved ones and with nature.

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.

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.”

Significance of Shivaratri

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.

Shivaratri celebrations

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.

Lord Rama       Lord Krishna

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

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.

Namaste

 Shivaasthe Panthaanaha

The term “Shiva” also has a much larger connotation which includes

  • having the potential,
  • being capable of,
  • boding well,
  • 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.

Shiva-Shava

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.

 Ratri

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?

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.

Observing 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.

Appreciating Shivaratri

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,

  1. With pain
  2. With celebration

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.

Shivaratri

Shivaratri

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.

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understanding shiva film

Understanding Shiva – “Book and Film”

Symbolism of 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

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.

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Shankara

Watch Bharath Gyan Film on Shankara

Trishul

The Trishul as the name itself suggests, is a trident, a spear with 3 spikes to it.

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Trishul

The Trishul of Shiva seems to be conveying the significance of 3 to us.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film Trishul

The 3 Forces of Trinity

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.

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Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

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

Arupa – Formless,

Rupa-Arupa – Formless Form and

Sarupa – With form.

Watch the Bharath Gyan Film – 3 states of Shiva

The 3 states of Man

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

  1. Kayika with Sarupa or manifested form
  2. Vaachika with Rupa-Arupa for the formless form
  3. 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.

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Damaru

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?

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                               Shiva                                                      Damaru                                                                       

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.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Damaru

Third Eye-Tryambaka

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.

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 3 eyed Shiva

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.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short- Shiva’s 3rd Eye

The Forehead Mark – Vibhuti

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.

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Chandrasekhara

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.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Chandrasekhara

Nandi –The Bull

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.

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Nandi, Bull

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.

 Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Nandi

This Shivaratri, let us imbibe the significance behind Shiva’s visual form as we immerse ourselves in the Shiva Tattva.

[Selective excerpts from the book Understanding Shiva in the Bharath Gyan Series by D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari]

Understanding Shiva Book

Also watch the 19 Short Films on ‘Understanding Shiva’ here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9QLcyiVla352leXqBX6smjKtdhJ7ZhOQ

Charles Darwin

Evolution Day is a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin on 24 November 1859.

 

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Young Charles Darwin

An illustrious Family

Charles Darwin was born into a religious family. His wife came from the illustrious Wedgewood family, who were well known for making the famous blue China pottery for royalty.

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Chinese Pottery

His mother Susannah Wedgwood, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, the famous potter.

Downe Village

When he grew up, he lived in the countryside, an hour south of London, in the picturisque Downe village. He chose this place as a spot of recuperation from his continuous illness.

Visiting Church, Sitting outside

While Darwin’s wife, Emma Darwin was religious, Darwin wasn’t. This arose partly from his scepticism about Christian theology.

Darwin’s wife, Emma being a devout Christian, used to visit church every Sunday. He used to accompany her to Church as a husband. But while she attended the Church Mass, Darwin sat outside waiting for her.

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Emma Darwin

Today, Charles Darwin’s is remembered as someone who revolutionized science. How did he find such an esteemed place in the annals of scientific world?

Voyage on Beagle

At a young age of 22, Darwin set out on an ocean voyage on the research vessel H M S Beagle. He got this opportunity as one research scholar opted out at the last moment. This chance opportunity that Darwin got, to go on this research vessel, changed his life and subsequently the course of our understanding about evolution.

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The Vessel, H M S Beagle

Christian Theology

Until then, the prevalent view in Europe was that which was dictated by the Christian Theology which states that God created the earth in 7 days, with earth, man and animals in a set sequence.

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Darwin’s Study

During the voyage, Darwin studied various forms of life, right from butterflies, insects, to tortoises, including the famous long living tortoise of Galapagos.

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Galapagos Tortoise

At every port of call, he collected samples and studied them. The ship route covered southern hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil, lasting for 5 long years.

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The Voyage of the Beagle

On the Origin of Species

After he came back to England from the Voyage, he settled down to write his master piece book, “On the Origin of Species”.

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Charles Darwin’s Book, The Origin of Species

Intitially the publisher was hesitant to print and publish his book.

He was so sure about his theory being accepted that He offered to buy back the 1250 printed copies of the book if they did not sell.

This book soon shook the very foundations of science and Christian theology.

Charles Darwin & the Avatar Theory

It is interesting to note that, some aspects of his theory are in sync with the Indian story of evolution.

According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, aquatic creatures were the first to come into existence, followed by amphibians and then land creature.

In India, the concept of evolution has been discussed in the sequence of Dasavatara of Vishnu, starting from the fish and evolving all the way to the intellectual human.

Matsya  – A Fish

As the legend goes, when the world was to be engulfed by a Pralaya, dissolution, the Rishi are taken to safety by Vishnu in the form of a large fish.  The fish here is symbolic of life emerging from waters.

Kurma – A tortoise

At a time when there was a tug of war between the Deva, equated with the divine forces and the Asura equated with the demonic forces, they used a mountain for churning the ocean. When this mountain kept slipping, Vishnu in the form of a large tortoise supported the mountain and this allowed the Deva and Asura to complete their churning of the ocean from which emerged the good and bad of the universe. The tortoise here is symbolic of an amphibious life.

Varaha – A Boar

Later in time, when the Earth is held under the oppression of Hiranyaksha, an Asura, a demonic power, Vishnu in the form of a boar, bores through and releases the Earth from captivity. Boar is here symbolic of land based forms of life.

Narasimha – A Beast, man lion

Soon after, Vishnu emerges in the form of a ferocious half man – half lion to wipe out Hiranyakashipu, anotherAsura, whohad terrorised the world. This beast like form is symbolic of man living like a savage.

Vamana – A dwarf

As a dwarf Vamana, Vishnu humbles the ego of another Asura called Mahabali. This form is symbolic of man in his early stages of evolution where thinking and learning sets in.

Parashurama – A hunter

As Parashurama, a hunter, this form of Vishnu highlights the phase of mankind where man lived by hunting and as a forest dweller.

Rama – A leader

The Rama form of Vishnu and the good governance of Rama, showcases the stage when man started living by rules as a disciplined society.

Balarama – A farmer

Vishnu as Balarama, the bearer of a plough, is symbolic of the stage when man took to organized farming, irrigation, cattle rearing and trade as an industry.

Krishna – A strategist

Vishnu as Krishna, highlights the stage when man after the setting in of societal living, industrialization and trade starts to strategize to improve his position.

Kalki – A horse rider

This is an avatar of Vishnu which is yet to come but when it does, is expected to herald the dissolution of the world. In this as a horse rider, Vishnu symbolizes the speed and power which eventually are believed to become the cause of the destruction of the world.

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A Connect

We see here a great connect between Darwin theory and the Indian Avataric concept. While Charles Darwin’s theories challenged the idea of Divinity in the west by propounding an evolutionary origin of humans, the same theory was in line with the Indian concept of Avatars, incarnations of the Divinity Vishnu. The people of this land had understood the concept of evolution even before Darwin.

Great Scientist

Charles Darwin was a great scientist with the similar insight of an Indian Rishi. No wonder, at his death people queued up next to pay their last respects to him, probably one of the longest queue, showing the respect, the common men had for this great man.

Swami Dayanand Sarasvati

Swami Dayanada Saraswati was born on 12 February 1824 at Tankara in Rajkot district of Gujarat.

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Swami Dayanand Sarasvati

Interpretation of Veda, A Monumental Effort

He interpreted the Veda for the modern world.

Across times, very few have interpreted the Veda for the people to understand. They have done so to explain them for the needs and times of their era.

Krishna Himself explained the Veda 5000 years ago.

Yaska did so a few thousand years ago.

Sayana Acharya who lived in the Vijayanagar kingdom around 1600 CE did so 400 years ago.

Max Muller took Sayana Acharya’s work and gave his own explanation in English and German.

Sri Aurobindo also explained the Veda during the freedom struggle.

Infact, Upanishads themselves are explanations of the Veda.

Explanation of the Veda has been a regular endeavour. Vedas need to be explained in contemporary perspectives.

Swami Dayananda Sarasvati carried out such an effort for the modern world. His contribution was such a monumental one.

First to use the word Swaraj

Swami Dayanand Sarasvati was the first to give the call, Swaraj, meaning Self-Rule. This call was later on taken up other freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, towards India’s freedom.

Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj, an offspring of his efforts was founded on 7th April 1875. This organization has spread to many countries in the last 140 years, propagating the Vedic knowledge of the land.

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 Arya Samaj

First to Refute Aryan Invasion Theory

Swami Dayanand Sarasvati was the first to refute the Aryan Invasion Theory, which was propagated by Max Muller and the British administrators to divide and rule India – a theory which has been discarded by all academicians of the world in the last few decades, except for a handful, still carrying a colonial baggage.

A Thinker, A Reformer

He was a thinker, a reformer, a person who understood the ethos of the ancient Vedic knowledge, the land and its people.

Swami Dayanand Sarasvati passed away on October 30th, 1883 at Ajmer, Rajasthan.