Swami Vivekananda

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Swami Vivekananda, the patriotic saint of India was born on January 12th 1863 as Narendranath Datta in Kolkata, to Vishvanath Datta and Bhuvaneshvari Devi. From childhood, Narendra was inclined towards spirituality. He used to meditate in front of images of deities.

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Education

Narendra joined the Ishwara Chandra Vidya Sagar School in 1871 where he had his education until 1877, when his parents moved to Raipur. In 1879, his parents returned to Kolkata, where he joined the Presidency school and completed his matriculation. He studied Western Philosophy and European history for his graduation at the Scottish Church college and secured a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, in 1881.

An Avid Reader

All through his teenage, Narendra was never disconnected from his spiritual interests. He was an avid reader who was interested in Indian scriptures. He was a keen reader of Veda, Upanishad, Purana and Bhagavad Gita and other scriptural texts.

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He was also interested in other subjects ranging from science, history art and politics to literature and social science.

Meeting Ramakrishna

Narendra was introduced to Sri Ramakrishna, in 1881. After having a profound spiritual experience with the master, Narendra accepted Ramakrishna as his Guru. He was greatly influenced by Ramakrishna’s life, experiences and teachings.

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After Ramakrishna’s Death

After Ramakrishna’s death in 1886, the burden of carrying forward His mission fell upon Narendra.

His leadership was vital in guiding other disciples of his Guru, through the rough patch that they were facing after Ramakrishna’s leaving the mortal coil.

Narendra converted a dilapidated house at Baranagar, Kolkata into a Math for him and other disciples of Ramakrishna to stay.

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From 1888 to 1893, he travelled across the country, to realize his dream of reviving the glory of India.

Journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari

In 1890, he began a ‘Bharat’ yatra from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on foot. He was given the tag of ‘Wandering Monk’ for his constant travels for restoring India’s spiritual heritage. He travelled to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, Srinagar, Nainital among other places in the Himalayas.

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In 1891, Narendra traversed through the western landscape of the country. He visited Ahmedabad, Girnar, Kutch, Dwaraka, Indore, Pune and a list of other places, furthering his cause of restoring the lost heritage of this land.

All through his travels, he spread awareness on the richness of Indian culture and spirituality among the masses who had lost their self-esteem during the colonial rule.

He gave a series of discourses at different places and conducted meditation and scriptural study for the people.

In 1892, Narendra visited South India, covering many places like Bangalore, Trissur, Ernakulam and Trivandrum.

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In Kanyakumari

He finally arrived in Kanyakumari on foot, where he meditated at the rock, which is now called the Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial. It is here that he penned his vision of One India, known as his ‘Kanyakumari Resolve’.

“At Cape Camorin sitting in Mother Kumari’s temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian rock, I hit upon a plan. We are so many sanyasis wandering about, and teaching the people metaphysics—it is all madness. Did not our Guru say, ‘An empty stomach is no good for religion?’ We as a nation have lost our individuality and that is the cause of all mischief in India. We have to raise the masses.”

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Swami Vivekananda meditating at Kanyakumari

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Vivekananda Rock memorial, Kanyakumari

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1893 Chicago Visit

Narendra’s visit to Chicago in 1893 and his speech there was an important landmark in raising the masses of his own country. His speech at Chicago conference on September 11th, in 1893 was only for 6 minutes consisting of 887 words, but what he stirred up with that has been echoing across continents for 120 years and will continue to echo for centuries to come.

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Arousing interest on India

This short speech recreated an interest about India in the west, in the 20thcentury. It also helped Indians discover Swami Vivekananda and through him discover themselves, the strength of their tradition, culture and the respect for their own spirituality. The awakening of Indians among the American intelligentsia had resonance back in his homeland in India.

This strength later paved the way for the Indian independence movement which was fulfilled in 1947.

This speech also gave impetus to Indian yoga and spirituality. Today, yoga is a thriving industry in the west but its seeds were laid by Swami Vivekananda in the west.

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This momentous speech catapulted an unknown swami of the orient to become one of the most powerful thought providers.

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After this speech, Swami Vivekananda was invited to given speech at different places abroad. He used these opportunities to create interfaith awareness about India’s spiritual heritage.

Establishment of Ramakrishna Mission

Returning to India in 1897, Swami Vivekananda went about his task of establishing the Ramakrishna Mission, a volunteer based philanthropic organization, with full vigour. The Mission was inaugurated on May 1. 1897.

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He established many Ramakrishna maths through the country. The seed that was sown by Vivekananda has now grown into a huge tree with innumerable branches of Ramakrishna Mission in every nook and corner of India and also the world, spreading the light of spiritual knowledge.

The magnanimity and devotion of Narendra can be seen from the fact that he refused to use his name for the Mission, but instead chose to spread his Guru’s name. He followed this as a principle through his life.

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Adi Shankara & Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda passed away on 4th July 1902 at Belur, Kolkata .

Like Adi Shankaracharya who lived for 32 years, Vivekananda in a short span of just 39 years revived the spiritual and cultural heritage of this land. It could be safely said that, it was through Swami Vivekananda that, Indians were inspired to rediscover themselves, their culture and traditions.

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Inspiration behind IISC

Swami Vivekananda was also the inspiration behind the setting up of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as can be seen from this letter, written by Jamsetji Tata, from the year 1898.

National Youth Day

Swami Vivekananda inspired many youth through his life and continues to be an inspiration for the youth of this country, to this day. His birthday is rightly observed as ‘National Youth Day’ every year.

National Doctor’s Day

The National Doctor’s Day is observed every year in India on the 1st of July, the birthday and death anniversary of the famous physician and former Chief Minister of West Bengal, Bharat Ratna Dr. Bidan Chandra Roy, popularly known as B.C.Roy.

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In honour of doctors

The whole country depends on the efficiency of its physicians, who sustain and save lives. This day is observed in recognition of the importance of doctors in our lives. Special meetings are held to honour the doctors.

Doctor, etymology

The word ‘doctor’ is derived from latin word doctour, meaning an expert or an authority in a particular field.

One with great  expertise

Even today, the honorary title ‘doctor’ is conferred on those who have done and are experts in their respective fields. The title doctor, i.e doctorate is also conferred upon those with great achievements in their lives.

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‘Doctor’ for physicians

This word doctour soon came to be used for a physician as the medical field required great expertize and skill.

From simple health treatment to surgeries, doctors are vital to our lives.

Vaidhya, Vidya

In India, the word ‘Vaidhya’ is used for a doctor. The word is derived from ‘Vidya’ meaning knowledge. Vaidhya, doctor is a person with special knowledge.

Doctors of this land

There have been many doctors in this country through the millennia. The history of medicine and surgery can be traced to some of the famous ancient doctors of this land like Charaka and Susruta.

Susruta

Susruta is the founder of Rhinoplasty surgery. The detailed surgical procedure was taken to England by the colonial rulers, where the first nose surgery was performed.

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Susruta and his shishya, disciple excelled mainly in catract surgery, its detailed step by step process, the bladder surgery and dissection procedures.

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Barbers as Doctors

It is interesting to note that, in medieval Europe, Barbers were required to conduct surgery. The barbers were responsible not just for cutting hair, but for performing serious surgeries, including amputation of limbs. The ordinary physicians felt the act of surgery was beyond them.

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Charaka

Father of medicine

Charaka is regarded as the Father of medicine in India for his great contribution to the field of Ayurveda. He was the disciple of Rishi Athreya who excelled in medicine.

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Similar oaths

The Hyppocratic oath that is taken by today’s doctors to practice medicine honestly is very much similar to the one administered by Charaka to his disciples many millennia ago.

Charaka Samhita

The Charaka Samhita authored by Charaka is verily a treatise on medicine.

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Madhusudan Gupta

First to dissect a corpse

In the recent centuries, the name that comes to mind is Madhusudan Gupta. He became the first Indian doctor to dissect a corpse in the year 1836.

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Honoured by the British

The British Administration honoured him for this achievement by firing 50 canons in air from Fort William.

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Dr. Bidan Chandra Roy

In the last century, Dr Bidan Chandra Roy emerged as a reputed physician during the freedom struggle.

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‘No Swaraj without health’

Dr Bidan believed that Swaraj cannot be achieved if those fighting for the struggle are not healthy.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Doctor

He was Mahatma Gandhi’s doctor and also his friend.

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Once when Mahatma Gandhi was wounded, he went to treat him. Gandhi however refused to take treatment asking Roy, “Have you treated my 400 million brothers and sisters for free.” The reply that Roy gave moved the father of nation. He said, “I could not treat all the patients for free, but I have come to treat ‘him’ who represents the 400 million people of my country.” Gandhi agreed.

Establishing Institutions

He established many medical institutions during the freedom struggle. These include, Kamala Nehru Hospital, Jadavpur T B Hospital, Victorian institution and Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital. He also opened a centre for training women in nursing. 13

National Doctors’ Day

For all the contributions that he made towards healthcare, Dr Bidan Chandra Roy is held in high esteem even today with the observance of National Doctors Day on his birthday. A day dedicated to the over 7 lakh doctors of this country.

Ashada Ekadasi

Ashadi-Ekadashi

Ashadi Ekadasi, also known as Maha Ekadasi, Padma Ekadasi and Devpodhi Ekadasi is observed on the 11th lunar day of Indian month, Ashadi.

Ashadi is the month monsoons have completely drenched the country. Ashadi Ekadasi is an occasion to thank the Divinities, for the rains, and the prosperity that it has brought.

Lord Vishnu goes into Yoganidra

This day is especially significant to the Vaishnava community, as Lord Vishnu enters into Yoganidra on this day, at the Ksheer Sagara, Ocean of Milk. This Ekadasi is also known as Shayana Ekadasi. The next four months are known as Chatur Masya, and Lord Vishnu awakens from His Yoganidra on Prabodini Ekadashi, 4 months later.

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Lord Vishnu in Ksheer Sagara

Legend

In the Bhavishyapurana, Lord Krishna speaks of the significance of Shayana Ekadasi to Yudhishtira. Once King Mandhata’s kingdom faced severe drought, and the situation persisted for 3 years. Then Rishi Angiras advised the king to observe the Ashadi Ekadasi Vrata. The rains start pouring again and prosperity returned.

At Pandarpur

This Ekadasi is of great importance at the Vitthala temple in Maharashtra as people from all walks of life from many parts of Maharashtra and other parts of India too, converge in Pandharpur for a nightful singing of Bhajans to Lord Krishna.

Lord Vitthala and Warkaris

One of the most popular forms of Krishna worshipped in the Maratha land is that of Vithoba or Vitthala. The most famous temple for Vithoba is in Pandharpur, on the banks of river Chandrabhaga. Pandharpur has thus been one of the main religious sites of the Maratha land from ancient times.

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Lord Vitthala at Pandharpur Temple

Warkari is the Sampradaya that worships Vitthala, a form of Krishna who has inspired countless devotees like Tukaram, Namdev, Eknath, Jnanadev, on the path of devotion. Krishna is worshipped along with His consort Rukmini, as the divine parents of this Cosmos.  These were poet saints who are known for their soulful singing, Kirtan.

The stories of these devotees and many other are narrated in the popular Marathi work, Bhaktha Vijaya.

These Warkaris travelled all across Bharath Varsha as Yatri right from Kashi in the North to Rameshwaram in the South. Sarfoji Maharaja of Thanjavur, who is incidentally of Maratha descent, the great grandson of Shivaji Maharaj, had created endowments for food at the Yatri Nivas, Chatram, along the path for their comforts.

Similar arrangements were also done by the Mysore Maharaja for the Warkaris.

Chatrams

These Chatrams were neither poor feeding places not religious mutts. They were organized series of Tourist Guest Houses, were built as a tradition of this land in almost every town and village. At these Chatrams, the pilgrim travelers could live in clean surroundings, partake free food offered by the local community, conduct religious rites and continue with their pilgrimage. These were all free of cost.

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A Chatram

Key Practices of Warkari

The key aspects of this community include,

  1. Krishna / Vishnu is the Highest manifestation of Divinity
  2. Every being is an embodiment of Divinity
  3. Warkaris offer Namaste to each other, as all are manifestations of the Supreme Being.
  4. Singing and chanting the name of the Lord is the easiest way to Moksha.
  5. Vegetarian diet.
  6. Shunning alchohol and tobacco
  7. Fasting on Ekadasi
  8. Rejecting caste
  9. Practicing Bhajans and Kirtan regularly

On Ashadi Ekadasi day, all the above aspects and practices are intensified and celebrated on a large scale at Pandarpur.

Fasting, Upavasa is undertaken on this Ekadasi, like any other Ekadasi Day.

Biological Connect

Fasting is known as Upavasa in this land. Upa, means near and Vasa, is to dwell. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that helps the ‘fast’ mind, which keeps running hither and thither to slow down. Fasting is not just about body, but also the mind. Along with limited intake of food, one also keeps away unwanted thoughts, and spends special moments in remembering and worshipping the Divine. It makes the body and mind break out of a pattern, and takes us closer to the divine.

More on Fasting in our article, Upavasa.

Astronomical Connect

Ekadashi is an occasion for fasting, when one forgoes food. Fasting is prescribed in Ayurvedic healthcare of cleansing body. Fasting once every month and annually without even water is prescribed as a cleaning process for the body.

Ekadashi is one of these cleansing days, and this purification is undertaken on Ashadi Ekadasi. This day is so chosen for its astral positioning of earth, moon and sun, which makes it ideal for this body cleansing process.

God’s Love for His Devotees

Makara Kundala

Lord Vitthala wears Makara Kundala, fish earrings. The story goes that once a devotee fisherman offered his best catch of two fishes to the Lord of Pandarpur, which the Lord accepted gladly and transformed them into earrings and Himself wore them.

Standing on Brick

Vitta means “brick”. When Krishna manifested in front of His devotee, His devotee was busy serving His parents. He offered Krishna a brick and asked Him to wait on it till he could return after tending to his parents. Krishna stood on the brick and the whole moment was frozen in stone as an idol.

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Devotee offering brick to Lord Vishnu

Vithoba, Vitthala is the name given to Krishna standing on a brick waiting for His sincere devotee to return.

In the famous Aarti of Vitthala in Marathi, it is said that the Lord has been standing for 28 life spans, waiting for His devotee.

Warkaris have travelled far and wide from Kashi to Rameshwaram spreading this story of the devoutness of God to His devotee. Note, it is devoutness of God to devotee too and not just devoutness of the devotee to God alone.

Such a message is singular to Indian thought where it is not for the devotee to fear God but to realize divinity and live with the divine forces in a state of togetherness and mutual reverence for each other.

World Social Media Day

Social Media – A Gnana Astra

Social Media is a new phenomenon that has come into existence in the last fifteen years.

The internet, the web has in many ways shrunk the world like never before. It has got the people together, a global family of netizens, a family of people who are well informed in the happenings both at the local level and the global level, a family of people who are knowledgeable. This is one Avatara of the traditional Indian way of expression, Vasudeva Kutumbhakam.

In India, traditionally, knowledge is something that is put in the open and shared freely and fearlessly among the knowledge seekers. While that was in the past, in the medieval times and the post medieval times knowledge became something that was exclusive and elusive.

It is with the coming of the post modern era and the information highway that knowledge has once again come back in the public domain. Even here knowledge was made available in formal formats. With the coming of the Social Media, the components of this knowledge have become available in digestible doses. This created knowledge for the netizens in digestible portions.

In India there is a well known saying ‘sange shakti kaliyuge’, meaning, in this Kaliyuga, it is those people, who are able to gather people around them, that gain the strength.

We are in the midst of Kaliyuga where so many unsavory happenings are happening all around us. The way to alert people of these, the way to bring people together on these issues cannot be left to the media alone. After all, it is for the people’s welfare and so has to engage people directly one on one. Social Media via the internet has come in handy here. For instance the social media allows one to reach many and at the same time express a point of view with all its associated layers of issues without any space constraints.

“Pen is mightier than the sword”. This is an old adage.

Wars have been fought with swords from time immemorial. For major as well as petty issues, countless lives, since the dawn of history have been lost in wars, in getting across one’s point of view. Yet, after all this, if we continue to say that, the pen is mightier than the sword, then the power of the word, the power of knowledge in moulding human minds is mightier indeed.

Gnana Astra

In warfare, we have the Astra and Shastra. The Shastra are hand held fighting equipments. The Astra are the ones which are released from the hand.

Sastra Era

Social Media is a modern day astra, an astra of knowledge, a Gnana astra, where in, without hurting the other we get our point of view across to the family of seekers of this knowledge.

Knowledge Era

The world has gone through many succeeding era like the Industrialization era, transportation era, commercial era, communication era. We are now in the midst of an information era. It is here that the family of the knowledgeable, with their knowledge, will have a bigger say in moulding our thoughts, minds and ways.

 Knowledge era

With the word, the vak, being mightier by the day, with the world coming together for common good, with the knowledge era dawning on us, mediums such as the internet, present us with a whole field ahead in guiding people. A simple, beautiful, sustainable, open minded, interactive engagement, with a “questioning and responding” nature, is a responsible way forward, for the society as a whole.

 

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Ashutosh Mukherjee

Ashutosh Mukherjee born on 29th June, 1864 in Patna is among the foremost educationist that this country has every produced. He is the father of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, a leader who gave an alternative to the Nehru narrative in the early 1950s.

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Tiger of Bengal

Banglar Bagh”, “the tiger of Bengal,” was the popular name by which Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was referred to, for, for his high academic skills and at the same time high self esteem and courage with which he interacted with the British. He was indeed a ‘tiger’ in the field of education.

Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University

Ashutosh Mukherjee was the Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University from 1906 to 1914 and again from 1921 to 1923.

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He made the University one of the foremost centers of learning in India during his stint. His ability to identify and groom young talent is well known in the field of academics even today.

Supported Raman

As the Vice Chancellor, Ashutosh Mukherjee persuaded the famous Indian Physicist C V Raman to teach at the University.

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At the time Raman was posted at the government’s Finance department who were reluctant to release him. Moreover, the terms of endowment professorship that Raman had to fulfill disqualified him.

Ashotosh Mukerjee however, convinced the budding physicist Raman to work as a Palit Professor of Physics at the Science College that was affiliated to the University at a much lower salary. Raman’s pioneering research in Physics called the Raman Effect led him to win the noble price.

Persuaded Radhakrishnan

In 1921, he was able to convince another budding philosopher, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan to join the Calcutta University. Dr Radhakrishnan went on to become one of the great philosophers of the land and finally the President of India.

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Helped Ramanujam

Ashotosh Mukherjee also inspired the famous Mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanuajam and helped him to put forth his theories in the academic circle.

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Encouraged Samskrt scholars

Similarly, Ashotosh Mukherjee also identified Mahodaya N S Ananthakrishna Sastry and Mahomaya Chinnaswamy Sastri, great Samskrt scholars who were living in deep south near Tanjare in a village called Tiruvaiyaru.  He took them to Calcutta, provided them both physical and mental space, and encouraged them to bring out tens of volumes of Samskrt literature, which formed the basis of a great revival of Samskrt studies in eastern India then.

Shielded Bose

He also supported young Subhas Chandra Bose, then a student of the Presidency College where he assaulted English professor Oaten for abusing Indians. Subhas was removed from the College.

As the Vice-Chancellor, there were persuasions on Ashotosh Mukherjee to remove him from the University as well. Mukherjee did not want to destroy the career of a brilliant student who had stood up against injustice. He made alternate arrangements for Subhas to study at the Scottish Church missionary college.

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Ashutosh Mukherjee nurtured many such young students who contributed to the progress of the land.

Teacher to the teacher

Today, we celebrate Teacher’s day on September 5th as the birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

For this teacher, it was the teacher Ashutosh Mukherjee who facilitated the rise to great heights that Dr Radhakrishnan came to. A good teacher is known by the student he creates. Ashutosh Mukherjee’s name shines for the youth he picked and nurtured.

It is through the efforts of such great men, the foundations of the modern university system of education as built on.

Let us further his legacy

Let us further the cause of education in India that this great educationist had nurtured and stood for through his life.

Sri Kempe Gowda

Kempe Gowda

There is one name that catches your attention time and again if you are in the city of Bengaluru.

Kempe Gowda Road, Kempe Gowda Nagar, Kempe Gowda Bus Station, Kempe Gowda International Airport! The name is everywhere!

You know Bengaluru. Do you know its founder?

His name is Kempe Gowda.

Founder of Bengaluru

Sri Kempe Gowda is well known as the founder of Bengaluru, the city that has grown leaps and bounds in the last many centuries. The city was established by him in the year 1537 CE as the capital of the land he ruled.

Kempe Gowda gave the name Bengaluru

He was the chieftain of Yelahankanadu, a principality under Vijayanagara Empire.  This place was known as Bendakaluru, before Kempe Gowda gave it the present name.

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Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bengaluru

Kempe, Ruby

Kempe means a precious gem, a red ruby in English. True to his name, he is indeed a precious gem of the land of Karnataka.

Types of Ruby

The different types of Rubies include,

  • Indian Ruby, found mainly in Mysore

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Mysore Ruby

  • Burmese Ruby
  • Thailand Ruby
  • Tanzanian ruby
  • Madagascar Ruby

Kempe Gowda Day

The Government of India observes his birthday every year on 27th June.

The day is celebrated as Kempe Gowda day in the state of Karnataka.

Sri Kempe Gowda was born at Yelahanka in the year 1510 CE, as the son of Kempananje Gowda, who ruled the Yelahankanadu for over 70 years, after which his son took over.

So how exactly did he get the idea of building a city, which is today among the most prominent cities in India?

Building of Bengaluru

Idea during an expedition

Interestingly, Kempe Gowda had this idea, when he was on a hunting expedition, towards Shivanasamudram from Yelahanka.

Hare chasing Dog

While Kempegowda was on a hunting expedition, he was amused to see a rabbit chasing a dog. He called that place as “Gandubhoomi”, meaning “The land of heroes” and desired to build a city in that place.

He envisioned the city to have a cantonment, a fort, plenty of water bodies and people from all professions and trade.

Conquering regions

On this expedition, he conquered many areas, which today form a part of the Bangalore city. With these large areas under his belt, Kempe Gowda started his task of city construction, with the royal permission of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Bengaluru Fort

Kempe Gowda first built a Red Fort with eight gates, and a moat surrounding it, a little away from Yelahanka. This fort is today popularly known as Bangalore Fort, and is located in the center of Bengaluru City.

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An artist impression of Bangalore in 1537.
Enclosed within a strong mudfort and surrounded by a moat.

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Bengaluru Fort, in 1860

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Bengaluru Fort as it stands today

Four streets and roads

He then designed the four streets running in the four directions with the corresponding roads. The street running from east to west was named Chikkapete street, while the street from north to south was named Doddapete street. This Doddapete street has been renamed today as Avenue Road.

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The four roads originally built by Kempe Gowda in today’s Bangalore map

One ran from Ulsoor to Sondekoppa, running from east to west and another from Yelahanka Gate to the Fort, running from north to south. These streets were segregated for different purposes such as for residences or business. Tanks were built at different places to supply water to the city.

4 towers

Kempe Gowda also built four watch towers to mark the outer boundaries of Bengaluru. The city has today grown much beyond these towers which today stand at the heart of the city.

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One of the Watch Towers built by Kempe Gowda

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A watch tower as it stands today in Lalbagh, Bengaluru

Thus came about a city that is today the IT capital of India. A city that owes its origin to Kempe Gowda.

Kempe Gowda passed away in 1569 CE, having ruled for around 56 years.

Legacy

Statue

In 1609, a metal statue of this emperor was installed at the Gangadhareshwara temple at Shivagange.  Post-independence, another statue of his was built in from of the Bangalore Corporation office.

Bus Stand and Airport

Today, the central bus station is named as Kempe Gowda Bus Station, and the Bangalore Airport as Kempe Gowda International Airport. The central metro station at Majestic has also been named after Kempe Gowda.

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Kempe Gowda Bus Station

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Kempe Gowda International Airport

Water Bodies

One lesser known fact is Kempe Gowda’s contribution to building many tanks and reservoirs in and around Bengaluru. With great forethought, he built these water bodies to supply sufficient water for his city citizens.

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Yelahanka Lake, Bengaluru

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Ulsoor Lake, Bengaluru

Unfortunately today, we have destroyed these water bodies in the name of development.

Educational Institutions

Also, many educational like Kempe Gowda Institute of Medical Sciences, Kempe Gowda college of Nursing and the Kempe Gowda Institute of Physiotherapy have been named in honour of Kempe Gowda.

Awards

Kempe Gowda awards are given away every year to those from different walks of life.

Museum

Kempe Gowda Museum, was established in 2011 at Bengaluru, dedicated to this chieftain.

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Kempe Gowda Museum

Like this, legacy of Kempe Gowda has taken the form of many institutions, and his name is well-etched in the minds of people.

Bankim Chandra

bankim chandra chattopadhyay - birth

We all know the song Vande Mataram, the National Song of India. But do you know the person behind this song?

Around 180 years back, on 27th June 1838, was born the creator of this song at Naihati, in the then Bengal Presidency of India. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was his name.

He grew up to be a freedom fighter poet who gave this clarion call of Vande Mataram, that inspired many generations during the Indian Freedom Struggle and continues to do so even today, even with just its popular tune itself, minus the words.

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A writer cum poet and journalist, Bankim Chandra, was a leading figure in the literary renaissance of Bengal and India.

Bankim Chandra composed the popular song Vande Mataram, as a part of his work, Anandamath in 1881. The first two verses of this song were adopted as the National Song of India, in 1937, due to the patriotic fervor that this song aroused in the minds of the people.

Vande Mataram is an ode to motherland, Matharam. In the Indian ethos, the motherland is revered as a Mother herself – Bharat Mata.

The house at Chinsurah in West Bengal, where the Vande Mataram was composed

Bha stands for knowledge, and Ratha means to relish. Bharat is the land of people who relish knowledge. Bharat Mata is the embodiment of the knowledge and wisdom in this land, which gives it its strength, courage, prosperity, virtue, clam and charm. She is revered as a Devi, the Divine Mother.

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Vande Mataram – Original Song With All Verses and Its English Translation by Sri Aurobindo

Along with Jana Gana Mana, the National Anthem, Vande Mataram is the most revered song in this land. With this song, Bankim Chandra has left a permanent imprint in the minds of the people of this country.

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Urdu Daily, named “Vande Mataram”, based in Lahore during the pre-independence times

This song was introduced in the political arena by Rabindranath Tagore and from thereon, its popularity spread far and wide.

The term Vande Mataram soon became popular among the leaders and masses.

Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, the two well-known freedom fighters named their journals, Vande Mataram.

Sri Aurobindo, the freedom fighter cum spiritual leader called it the National Anthem of Bengal.

This song was composed in both Bengali and Samskrt. As it was composed in Samskrt, the mother language of most languages of Bharat Desh, the song, the words and their meaning, easily found resonance among the citizens of the land and encouraged patriots all the way from Baluchistan in the West to Arunachal Pradesh in the East and from Himalaya in the North to Kanyakumari in the South.

Bankim Chandra’s other works include Durgeshnandini, Kapalkundala and Devi Chaudhurani.

Bankim Chandra passed away on 8th April, 1894. But he lives on even today, through his song Vande Mataram.

Rani Durgavati – Birthday

Rani Durgavati was born in Banda, Uttar Pradesh to Shalivahan, the Chandela Rajput ruler of Mahoba, famed for his bravery and courage.

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Trained by Father Shalivahan

With her mother passing away early, Durgavati was bought up with great care by Raja Shalivahan, and was trained like a Rajput. Durgavati was trained by her father at a young age in horse riding, hunting and usage of weapons.

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Becoming a skilled archer

She soon became a skilled hunter, markswoman, who took pleasure in going on expeditions, also a skilled archer.

Dalpat Shah

Hearing about the valor of the Gond ruler Dalpat Shah, and his exploits against the Mughals, Durgavati was impressed by him.

When her guru pointed out that Dalpat Shah was a Gond, Durgavati replied “He might be a Gond by tribe, but his deeds make him a Kshatriya”

Dalpat Shah was one warrior, whom the Mughals feared, he controlled the territory that gave them passage to the South.

Marriage with Dalpat Shah

When Dalpat Shah bought up the alliance with Durgavati, many other Rajput rulers protested saying that he was a Gond.

The Rajput rulers knew very well that if Mughals were unable to advance to South, it was due to Dalpat Shah himself.

Shalivahan himself was not keen on Durgawati marrying Dalpat Shah, as he was not a Rajput. However considering the vow he gave to Durgavati’s mother, that he would allow her to choose her life partner, he agreed to Dalpat Shah.

Finally in 1524, Durgavati was married to Dalpat Shah, and this also bought the Gonds and Chandel dynasties in an alliance.

A new alliance against Mughals

The marriage between Durgavati and Dalpat Shah, in a way was strategically important too, bringing two dynasties together. With the Chandelas, Gonds coming together, a new alliance was formed against the Mughal rulers that could keep them in check.

Dalpat Shah dies

Sadly Dalpat Shah died soon, in 1550 and it was left to Durgavati to handle the kingdom. With her son, Bir Narayan, still a minor, Durgavati ruled as a regent.

Rule as a regent

Assisted by 2 ministers, Adhar Kayastha and Man Thakur, Durgavati reigned over the Gond kingdom with wisdom and success.

As a ruler, Rani Durgavati shifted her capital to Chauragarh, a strategically important fort on the Satpuras. Like her husband Dalpat Shah, Durgavati proved to be an able ruler, expanding the kingdom, looking after her subjects well.

Durgavati had a large army with 20,000 cavalry, 1000 war elephants, and large number of soldiers, which was well maintained.

Building reservoirs and tanks

Durgavati dug many reservoirs and tanks for the welfare of her people, one of the better known one is near Jabalpur called Ranital.

Defeating Baz Bahadur

When the Sultan of Malwa, Baz Bahadur, tried to attack Durgavati’s kingdom, she fought back and forced him to retreat. So heavy was the loss faced by Baz Bahadur at hands of Durgavati, that he dared not attack her kingdom again.

Akbar’s ambitions

In 1562, Akbar defeated Baz Bahadur, and took over Malwa, which now meant that Mughal Empire was touching Durgavati’s kingdom.

Lured by the prosperity of Gondwana, Akbar’s subedar Abdul Majid Khan, wanted to invade and occupy it along with Malwa.

Malwa had already fallen to Mughals, Rewa too was captured by Abdul Majid Khan, now only Gondwana was left.

Fighting the Mughal Army

Though her Diwan warned her against taking on the mighty Mughal Army, Rani Durgavati said she would prefer death to surrender.

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Initial Success

Rani Durgavati initially fought the Mughal Army at Narrai, flanked by the Narmada and Gaur rivers, and hilly ranges. Though the Mughal Army was superior to Durgavati’s, she led the defense, and fought back fiercely. Durgavati’s fierce counter assault on the Mughal Army chased them out of the valley and she was successful initially.

Facing Mughal Army in open combat

Buoyed by success, Durgavati wanted to attack the Mughal Army in night, but the suggestion was not accepted by her lieutenants. And this meant Durgavati had to face the Mughal Army in open combat, which would prove to be fatal to her.

Durgavati however refused to surrender, and with her son Vir Narayan, counter attacked the Mughal forces strongly. Riding on her elephant Sarman, Rani Durgavati, bravely counter attacked the larger and more superior Mughal army.

Durgavati’s son Vir Narayan, himself led a fierce attack on the Mughals, making them retreat thrice, before he was wounded badly. Hit by arrows and bleeding, Durgavati realized that defeat was imminent against the Mughals.

The End

Disregarding her mahout’s advice to flee from battle, Rani Durgavati, stabbed herself with a dagger, preferring death to surrender. Rani Durgavati, truly a remarkable lady, fiercely independent, wise ruler, some one who preferred not to surrender.

A Patron of Learning, An able administrator

Durgavati was also a patron of learning, respected scholars, encouraged building of temples, truly a great ruler. Apart from being just a brave warrior, she was able administrator, who built lakes, reservoirs for benefit of her subjects.

Her name lives on

Rani Durgavati Birth.jpg

Rani Durgavati passed away physically, but her name lives on, especially in Jabalpur, where the university is named after her.

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Olympic Day

Olympics – Lighting the Flame

In modern Olympics, the first ceremony is lighting the Olympic flame. It starts with young women lighting the torch with the heat from the Sun. The flame is kept burning throughout the games.

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                                                            Young Women lighting the Olympic flame

This modern ceremony of lighting the Olympic flame evolved from the practices of ancient Olympics that were held in Greece, where the flame was revered and used as a mark to start the game. The modern practice of lighting the Olympic torch at Olympia, taking it to different parts of the world, and finally reaching it to the city where the games are to be played, culminating in the Olympic stadium, started at the games of 1928, at Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The flame ceremony has been respected across the world, during all times and in all traditions.

6 Vestal Virgins

Similar to the ceremony of the women lighting the flame in Greece, ancient Rome had the concept of the six vestal virgins guarding the flame.

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Vestal Virgins of Rome

Persia

Similarly, further to the east in ancient Persia, we have the concept of eternal flame, Azure. This was venerated and popularized by Zarathustra.

Azerbaijan

The modern day country of Azerbaijan, whose name comes from the word Azure, still has an eternal flame, burning to this day.

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The Eternal Flame at the Fire Temple in Azerbaijan

 India

Further to the east in India, for the last 5000 years and more, the concept of flame in the form of Agni has been venerated through the ages. Agni is one of the primary divinities in the pantheon of divinities in the Indian thought.

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                                                                            Agni in Indian thought

Since in practice, as found from archaeological excavations, Fire as Agni has been venerated in India, right through antiquity, in the mists of time, probably the concept of venerating Fire could be traced to Indian practice and knowledge system.

America

In America today, the main symbol of freedom is the statue of liberty. The figure in the statue carries a flame in her hand, symbolizing a similar ethos across times, across traditions.

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Statue of Liberty holds the flame

  Thus we see that Celebration by fire initiation can be found all over the world.

Jagannath Rath Yatra

Jagannath-Lord of the Universe

The word “Jagat” stands for the world, the Universe. It means that which is always moving and not stationary”. Nath means “Lord”. Jagannath is the Lord of the Cosmos.

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Indians knew the cosmos is moving

The meaning of the word Jagat referring to the cosmos indicates that the people of India knew that the cosmos was always in motion.

Juggernaut from Jagannath

Infact, the English word “Juggernaut” meaning “that which is huge and is rolling” comes from the word “Jagannath”.

Jagannath Temple

One of the ancient and important cities of the east coast of India is Puri, which is in the present day state of Orissa. This Puri is famous for the temple of Jagannath, another name for Krishna.

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The Physical Remains of Krishna

The idol in this temple is carved out of Neem wood from a particular forest and once every 12 years, is replaced through a strict, well defined process, Naba Kalebara, that has come down as a tradition.

Legends talk of people who came east from Dwaraka, carrying with them, mortal remains of Krishna, pinda, which have been kept in a hollow cavity in the idol since the times of inception of this temple to this day.

Neither has this been kept a secret nor has it been hidden. It is well known through the land as retold by the Sthala Purana, local legend of the temple. These remains were not tucked away, way back in time and forgotten. Around every 12 years, on the assigned day, this bundle, Brahmapotli, has been removed and transferred to a fresh idol under due rituals.

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Lord Krishna

The bundle with the remains is normally physically handled by the most aged priest of the temple, who is blindfolded – a rare honour indeed to be that senior most priest on that occasion. Having handled these remains, the aged priest looks forward to early Moksha, deliverance, to attain Goloka, the abode of Krishna.

Being so venerated and done under such stringent, time honoured rituals, these remains, remain beyond the purview of scientific scrutiny.

The knowledge of its existence has been revived through these rituals every 12 years, in every generation and the remains of Krishna, have been venerated every day by millions of devotees who have thronged this temple.

This is the beauty in this temple – it is not only the beauty of the idol but also the beauty of how these remains and the memories they invoke have remained with us through this tradition across millennia.

The Memories of Krishna

Puri is thus an ancient city dedicated to Krishna and those who settled here brought with them the legends of Krishna from the times of His childhood at Braj to the times of Dwaraka.

This is evident from the daily rites in the temple which give prominence to the childhood days of Krishna when he used to steal milk, butter, cream and curds. The most famous offering in their rites is Kheer, a milk and rice based sweet pudding. People of Orissa, even to this day, fondly call Krishna as “Khiri Chora”, meaning “one who steals Kheer”.

More on Jagannath Puri in our book, ‘Historical Krishna’.

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Jagannath Rath yatra

The famed Rath Yatra, which dates back to the period of the Purana, is held every year at this temple.

A Painting of Jagannath Rath Yatra from 1818

In Purana

There are vivid descriptions of this festival in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra.

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Huge Chariots, Large Crowds

The idols of Jagannath and His siblings, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out on this day in a procession on huge chariots, rath, the likes of which cannot be matched in size, the crowds they draw and the continuity in tradition.

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Chhera Pahara

A significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the “Chhera Pahara,” when the king symbolically sweeps the path of the Rath. This symbolizes that right from the king to the commoner, everyone is responsible for maintaining cleanliness around the place where the yatra is organized.

This practice is followed even today and the present king Raja Gajapati Divyasingh Dev also follows the tradition.

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A festival of unity

Rath Yatra, Rathotsav, is a common annual festival celebrated in all temples, all across India and the world. It is a festival to unite people from all walks of life to come together to pull the Rath. A truly peoples’ festival.

A Global Festival

Lord Jagannath true to His name not only moves the cosmos, but moves the people to celebrate His Rath Yatra, not just in Puri but also in other parts of the country and the world. The Rath Yatra festival is celebrated in all major Indian cities. It is also observed in countries outside India.

The juggernaut is indeed rolls all over Jagat, the world on Jagannath Rath Yatra.

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