Understanding Sri

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An Auspicious Effort

We know of the word, Shram which means labour, burden, effort.

Let us now, take the Shram to experience श्री  – Shri / Sri.

An Ashram

From the same root of Shram comes Aashraya which means a platform, a support, a shelter, a recourse.

From the notion of Shram and Aashraya comes Aashram, a place which takes on the Shram i.e. the effort, the labour and the burden of providing, Aashraya, i.e.

  1. support to those seeking recourse
  2. shelter to those seeking support
  3. platform for activities, exercises or projects i.e karyam meaning that which is fit or worthy to be done, from kar meaning to do, karam meaning hands.  It is also a platform for education such as a gurukula, patashala etc. All collectively are seen as a Yagna, an act for spreading knowledge and good, from Ya meaning to spread.

Hence the association of Ashrams with Yagna and shelter.

Ashram 

To Attach or To Detach

The common root for all these words and concepts is shra.

Shraya, shrayati means to attach.

Hence aashraya also means being attached to, being supported by, belonging to, forming a part of.

From this, comes “ear”, shravan, meaning that which is attached, to the face in this case.

Hearing is therefore called shravanam.

With Fame

Thus reputation or fame which is attached to a person or act, becomes shravas and that which is an extra credit, an additional attribute, becomes shreya.

From this, that which is more praiseworthy, more prosperous, more trustworthy, more dependable etc. becomes Shreyas.

After seeing the evolution of these terms and concepts we can now go to understand Shri / Sri.

A Title?

Shri is a title as well as an entity by itself.

From all the derivatives of shra, especially Shreyas, we can see how, Shri as a title denotes one

  • who has a good reputation attached,
  • one who is worthy of that praise,
  • which is worthy of hearing with the shravan, ear,
  • which in turn is attached to the face.

Hence Sri is used as an honorific title for elevated people and the divine.

What a beauty lies in this term!

An Entity?

From how shra yields aashraya, aashrama etc., Sri, as a noun, as an entity, as a being, as a something, as an existence, denotes that which is full of resource, support,  basis, platform, fruitfulness of effort (shram) and hence auspiciousness.

The Fortune

Indeed Sri is a divinity one turns to, inorder to seek support, resources or fruit of action.

Sri is that divinity in creation that yields fruit to an effort, yields effect to an act, yields effect to the acts of all divine forces and principles.

Sri as a divinity Herself, is hence held as the Goddess of Fortune, destiny.

Where is Sri?

In our work Creation – Srishti Vignana we have seen how the process of Creation unfolds from Narayana, That which is in equilibrium in the primordial waters.

Sriman Narayana is Narayana at equilibrium, balanced and at rest full of Sri, resources.

Narayana lying in cosmic waters
Sri Lakshmi Narayana is Narayana, also stirred up with a goal, Lakshya, to create. Lakshmi here is embedded in Sri.

Sri Lakshmi Narayana
In Narayana , Sri or Lakshmi are an integral part. Hence Sri is used as a prefix or title or qualifier for Narayana. Sri is thus at the heart of Narayana.
In Vishnu, Sri is more in the form of Lakshmi who as a consort, keeps providing resources in the form of Lakshya, goal for the penetrative, pervading force to act.
Sri is a quality of all the divinities in the cosmos, male or female, as they have sprung from Sriman Narayana.

Sriman and Srimati

Hence Sri is used as a prefix, title for all divinities, as well as for every individual, male or female, to denote the resourcefulness, auspiciousness of every divinity, every  individual, every being of existence.

In the case of men, Sri takes on the form Shriman/Sriman, meaning one who possesses a good measure, maana of Sri and puts it to good use.

In the case of women, Sri takes on the form Shrimati/Srimati, meaning one whose mati, attitude is like Sri. One who always ensures that things go well and will bear fruit.

This Sri is written in English in many ways as Shri, Sree and Shree etc.

Interestingly, the word Seri seen in the name of many people, organization and places in South East Asia is also nothing but another way of writing Sri.

Noted example is Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of the oil rich, island kingdom of Brunei. Little wonder that it is one of the richest kingdoms in the world!


Location of Bandar Seri Begawan
This also shows the “resourceful” connect that India has had with the rest of S.E.Asia.

The Auspicious Duo

These forms of Sri also confirm the Indian perspective of how masculine and feminine genders were regarded as complementary to each other in order to fulfill a purpose, an objective.

Masculine gender was seen as that which possesses power to act, in order to cause the effect it is meant to cause, to bear fruit.

Feminine Gender was seen as the complementing consort, which endows the act with the power, the attitude, the nature to become fruitful.

Each divinity and its complementary spouse, sometimes spouses, together, thus fulfill their innate role or function in the cosmic order.

And people who have realized the cosmic order, hold the divine principles close to heart and work in sync with them have been addressed as Sri, Sri Sri, Ananta Sri, Srila Sri etc.

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International Migratory Bird Day

India, a Home to Migratory Birds

India is fortunate to be blessed with migratory birds that make this land their home every winter, many times to escape the severe cold of Siberia or the Arctic as the winter in tropical India is more pleasant.

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Migratory Birds that make India their home at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

 Some of the well-known, migratory bird sanctuaries of India are,

1. Ranganthetu, an island in the Cauvery River near Mysore

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Ranganthetu Bird Sanctuary

Image courtesy – The Hindu, Nov 2, 2012

  1. Vedanthangal, a huge lake south of Chennai

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Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Image Courtesy – LiveChennai

  1. Point Calimere, on the coast of Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu

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Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary

Image Courtesy – IRCTC Toursim

  1. Chilka lake along Orissa coast

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Greater Flamingos and ducks flying at Chilka Lake, Odisha – largest wintering ground for migratory birds in India. 

Image Courtesy – The Hindu, April 4, 2014, Photo by K.Ramnath Chandrashekar

  1. Kokrebellur in Karnataka, is a 2 level village. Villagers live at one level and birds at another level.

The main species of birds found in this sanctuary are Spot-billed Pelican, Ring Necked Parkeets and Painted Stroke. The name Kokrebellur means Village of the Storks.

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Pelicans at Kokrebellur

                          Image Courtesy – Koshy Koshy, Wiki Commons , Flickr

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Painted Stork at Kokrebellur

Image Courtesy – WildTrails

In Villages

Apart from these bird sanctuaries, there are many villages through the country, visited by migratory birds.

In Rajasthan, the villagers of Kichan, feed the cranes, as a part of their culture.

In Tamil Nadu, in south, near Tirunelveli, we have the Koodankulam, which is now better known for the new Atomic power plant. Migratory birds have been visiting this place since time immemorial.

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Painted Storks in Koodankulam / Koothankulam

Image Courtesy – Praveen Muralidharan, The Hindu, Oct 17, 2014

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Pelicans in Koodankulam / Koothankulam

Image Courtesy – M.B.Ramesh, The Hindu, Oct 17, 2014

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Koodankulam Atomic Plant

The Care the Villagers show

What is interesting to note is that, in all these bird habitated villages, the villagers resist from bursting firecrackers during Deepavali, not to scare away the birds.

This shows the concern villagers have shown, even before the modern laws came into force.

For, all these villagers, look at these birds as harbingers of good luck.

The bird droppings are natural fertilizers for their fields.

Like these, there are innumerable places, the migratory birds have chosen, to make their homes for few months in a year.

Wildlife protection laws have been enacted to ensure the conservation of these water bodies and sanctuaries so that these birds have their immediate environment.

Flyways

These migratory birds fly long distances in a corridor, which we now term as ‘flyways’.

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Migratory flyways of birds through India

Image Courtesy – Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISC, Bangalore

For example, the Bar tailed godwit bird, is tracked to fly non-stop for about 10,200 kilometres. What avionics, what energy!

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Bar tailed godwit bird

Photo Courtesy – Nick Chill (Flickr)

But what stuns everyone, including scientists is the migratory Flyway or should we say “FlyHeight” of the Bar Headed Goose, called Paramahamsa in India. Hamsa means a goose, swan. It is characterized by the presence of 2 distinguishing bars on the back of its head.

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A Bar Headed Goose – Anser Indicus, Paramahamsa of India

Photo Courtesy – GoPetsAmerica.com

This bird, whose binomial name or scientific name is Anser Indicus, breeds in Central Asia, especially Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tibet etc. during the summer there.

As winter starts to descend there, it flies across the Himalaya, at 20000 ft, over the heights of some of the highest Himalayan peaks and finds comfort in South Asia, especially India. This has earned it the name Anser Indicus.

It is a common sight in many parts of India, including in southern parts of India, during the months of Indian winter.

The ability of this bird to rise up to such great heights where the air is rarefied with hardly any pressure, oxygen is low and temperatures are biting cold and fly without damage, all the way to southern parts of India, is a mystery that continues to baffle scientists even today.

The bar headed goose, Paramahamsa, Anser Indicus, can certainly be regarded as a veteran migratory bird.

Amazing

Isn’t it amazing that birds, from times going back, beyond mankind, have been coming to these places, travelling long distances, year after year, to nest, to roost?

Generation after generation, these migratory birds have it in their genes, to take this seasonal annual journey.

International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day is observed on the second Saturday of May, every year.

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This day is dedicated to bringing awareness for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. Various programs are held the world over towards involving and empowering people to take up causes, to protect migratory birds in the environment where they live.

International Nurses Day

The International Nurses day is observed every year on May 12th to raise awareness of the noble selfless role the nurses play in caring for the ill. They are the care givers.

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The Week starting May 6, is celebrated every year as the Nurses week, culminating on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is the Mother of modern day nursing and her birthday is celebrated as International Nurses day.

Nightingale is a well-known English social reformer who is still remembered today for her contributions in the field of nursing.

The role of Nightingale came to fore during the Crimean War of 1853, when the British waged a war against the then USSR to control the Ottoman Empire. 18000 British soldiers were injured in the battle and were admitted to various military hospitals.

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The Crimean War, an artistic impression

However, these hospitals did not have any nurses to cater to the wounded. There was an uproar in England on the neglect of the wounded soldiers.

It is at this time that Nightingale got a letter from the secretary of War Sidney Herbert to arrange for nurses to cater to the injured soldiers in Crimea. Nightingale instantly came to task and organized a team of 34 nurses just within a few days and brought them to Crimea.

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Florence Nightingale’s team of nurses

The poor condition of the patients at the hospital there shook Nightingale as she set herself to work. The soldiers were immediately taken care of with compassion by her team of nurses. She created various services in the hospital to cater to the sick and wounded. The deaths rate of the hospital was soon reduced by two thirds.

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Nightingale at the hospital

Image: Courtesy Wikipedia

The soldiers who were moved by the twin qualities of efficiency and effectiveness of Nightingale’s service called her ‘The lady with the lamp’. The whole of England was touched by this compassion shown by Nightingale to the injured.

A line of praise was composed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Nightingale which has since then become popular,

Lo! In that house of misery

A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom

And flit from room to room

But, nursing was practiced in India even before Florence Nightingale.

Susrusha is the samskrt word for nurse. One of the meanings of this word is Seva, ‘Service’. Thus, the profession of nurse is synonymous with Service in India.

In the Indian ethos, a Nurse is among the 7 mothers, Sapta Mata who are honoured and revered.

The 7 Mothers being,

  1. Atma-mata – The mother, from whose womb we have come to this world
  2. Guru patni – The wife of the Guru.
  3. Brahmani – The wife of a Brahmana
  4. Raja-Patnika– The wife of the king – the Queen.
  5. Dhenu – Cow
  6. Dhatri – Nurse
  7. Tatha prithvi– Earth

The world’s first nursing school was founded in India around 250 BCE.

One of the ancient texts on Nursing, Sushruta Samhita, was written around 700 BCE by the great surgeon Sushruta. Sushruta considered nursing as one of the four padas of Cure. He says, “the doctor, the patient, the medicine and nurse are the four feet, Pada of cure.”

How true it is that many, times it is the care of nurse that has brought us cure!

Let us this nurse day honour all those nurses from ancient times till today who have shown us care in our critical times. Let us honour the care givers.

Jala Kreeda Ekadasi

Jala Kreeda Ekadasi is a day  to understand the inner significance of Krishna’s Jala Kreeda.

Images of Krishna stealing the clothes of women when they bathed in the river and they begging Him to give their clothes back, have been imprinted onto the minds of many with the colourful stories woven around them.

This scene has been ridiculed by many and some have even derogatorily mentioned it as being voyeuristic. This incident warrants a philosophical look in.

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Krishna’s Jala Kreeda, a popular illustration

Jalakreeda – Meaning

The word Kreeda means play, game, sport. The word Jala normally means water. The word Jala can also be split into two where ja stands for jananam, “birth” and la is for layam, “to melt”, that which leads to pralayam, “dissolution”.

Jananam and Pralayam, form a rhythm, a cycle that is represented by each and every body in the Universe. The meaning and concept of pralayam is explained in our book “Understanding Shiva”.

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From origin to dissolution, everything is shrouded in maya, illusion.

It is in this play, Jalakreeda, a play with the word jala, that Krishna helps remove the shroud of maya from our minds, enabling us to see the real play from ja to la, from origin to dissolution. It is this whole play from ja to la which is the real ja-la-kreeda. The setting for this was with the Gopi.

Gopa and Gopi

The word Gopa comes from Go and Pa. Go stands for “cow” and Pa for “one who looks after”, “nourishes”. Gopa literally means “cowherd”, one who tends to cows.

From another perspective, Gopa also implies one who cherishes knowledge. This again comes from the roots Pa to “cherish”, “nurture”, “look after” and Go which also means knowledge. Gopi is the feminine gender of Gopa.

Gopi is also explained from the root Pi, as one who is drunk, consumed by the thirst for divine knowledge, Go.

Gopa and Gopi, the cow-herd folk, constantly sought Krishna out, surrounded Him and relished spending time with Him. The Gopa and Gopi, their yearning for and cherishing of Krishna, signify symbolically every soul’s yearning, thirst and cherish for true knowledge, symbolized by Krishna.

Raslila – A Metaphor for Devotion

In recent years however, based on looking at the poetic descriptions of such Lila at a superficial level, for just the literal meaning of the words used, some have loosely cast the image of Krishna into the mould of a young man who flirted with the Gopi.

The Raslila dance stands as a metaphor for the emotions of single minded love, devotion and unification with the divine that prevailed in the seeker, the simple Gopi.

The Krishna, Gopi and their Jalakreeda also provide an intrinsic insight into the kreeda or interplay in the Universe at an ethereal level.

The whole Universe itself is the twinning of the two – the gross and the subtle. The Lila of Krishna, gain relevance, meaning, significance when one elevates one’s thoughts from the gross, physical level to the subtle, ethereal level. It is the twinning of the two that will help us recognize and realize reality.

 (The above is an extract from our book – “Historical Krishna”)

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National Technology Day

Pokhran – 2, “Shakti” Nuclear tests, were conducted by the scientists of India on 11th May 1998. The Government of India gave the go ahead, defying all international pressures.

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Pokhran-2

Image: Courtesy Wikipedia

This day heralded India’s entry into the elite nuclear club and has since been celebrated as National Technology Day, in India.

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National Technology Day, Logo

Dr. Homi Jehagir Bhabha, the founder of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is regarded as the father of India’s Nulclear program. It was Bhabha who launched the Indian Nuclear Program under the leadership of Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. The country’s first Nuclear weapons were launched under his leadership.

The Nuclear program was given a boost by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, when she decided to create nuclear capability in response to a nuclear test by China in 1967. The job was given to Raja Ramana, the well known nuclear physicist.

The first nuclear test of India, Pokhran – 1, aptly code named, “Smiling Buddha”, for it was meant for peaceful purpose only, was successfully carried out in 1974.

After 24 years, Pokhran -2 was carried out under the leadership of then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The test preparations were carried out by Nuclear Physicist, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam who had been working on Indian’s missile program. With Pokhran 2, history was created as India became a full fledged nuclear state.

Did India became a nuclear state only in 1998, or did Ancient India have a similar capacity?

The answer to this question that perplexes many of us, can perhaps be found in the following pointers.

Dr.Robert J. Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist of America, responsible for the development of the first Atomic Bomb in the modern world, while witnessing the first nuclear test explosion in 1945, in New Mexico Desert quoted from the verse 11.32 of the Bhagavad Gita

“I am become death, destroyer of the worlds”.

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   Dr. Robert J Oppenheimer

        Image: courtesy US National Archives and Record Administration

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Manhattan Trinity Project – The Explosive Gadget

 Photo: courtsey Los Alamos National Laboratories

Was then Oppenheimer of the opinion that the Kurukshetra war of the Mahabharata, which brought forth theBhagavad Gita, too had nuclear arsenal in it and was he aware of the same?

Dr. Oppenheimer conveys a plausible connection, when he articulates his view on the nuclear capability of an ancient civilization.

Shortly after the first nuclear test explosion, called the Manhattan Project, Dr. Oppenheimer, addressed the students of the Rochester University.

Here one of the students asked him a pointed question, if his experiment was the first nuclear explosion of the world. He responded thoughtfully as “Well ….Yes, in modern times ofcourse …

This cautious, measured, response of Dr. Oppenheimer, which has been recorded for posterity, makes one wonder if Dr. Oppenheimer believed that in an earlier civilization, there could have been nuclear capability.

By earlier quoting the Bhagavad Gita during the test explosion, was he perhaps pointing to the Indian civilization as having had that capability?

This thought is further substantiated by the Indian text Mahabharata and the adjunct text Purana, which give a vivid description of the Asthra or missiles and their capabilities.

The description of the special manner in which these Asthra were invoked, the number, colour, shape and the rapid speed of individual discharges from each Asthra, the extent of destruction they had caused and the awe in which they were held as compared to the regular bow and arrow, make them appear to be special weapons of mass destruction, beyond our comprehension today.

Astra were projectiles that were fired, as against Shastra, which were hand held traditional war weapons such as swords, lance, spears, mace, bows and arrows.

Astra are defined as those that were ejected from a holder. They had to be launched and inflicted damage some distance away. From this definition, Astra seems to be equitable with the missiles of today.

It is to be noted from the account in the texts, that not everyone who took part in the war had the Astra. The common soldier used only Shastra.

The Astra, the forerunners to missiles may be lost in the mists of time. But that, the global usage of rockets and missiles in warfare got a boost from the 4 Anglo-Mysore wars of India in the 1790s, is a well recorded fact.

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Shastra (Hand Held Weapons) and Astra (Missile Like Weapons)

On this National Technology Day, let us resolve to explore further the technological capabilities of Ancient India, link it to modern needs and make further progress for the benefit of mankind.

Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap is one of the kings who has left a permanent stamp in the minds of the people of this country. He was a Rajput ruler of Mewar, a region located in the present day Rajasthan, and gave a tough time to the Mughals.

Maharana Pratap’s Rajput kingdom, highlighted in this map in orange, was an island in the midst of the Mughal Empire, which speaks volumes about the valour of this king, who had kept the Mughals at bay.

The rivalry between Rana Pratap and Akbar is well known.

Battle of Haldighat

A fierce battle was fought between Rajput King Maharana Pratap and Mughal King Akbar on June 18th, 1576 CE, which has now come to be called the Battle of Haldighat.  Another record says that this battle was fought on 21st June. But these four days from 18th to 21st are commemorated in Haldighat and also at his birth place.

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Akbar’s Ploy

Akbar wanted to extend his Mughal Emipre. The ploy he adopted was to take strong Hindu kings under him through friendship. These Hindu kings in turn helped him to defeat other Hindu kings. Maharana Pratap was persuaded by Akbar in every way, to come under him, but the Rajput King refused. Akbar soon lost his cool and declared a war on Rana Pratap. Rana Pratap also made preparations for the battle.

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                                                Maharana Pratap and Akbar

The battle

The two armies took stage at Haldighat. Akbar’s Army had 200000 soldiers while Rana Pratap had only 22,000.

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Battle of Haldighat

Great Valour of Rana Pratap

The lesser numbers for Rana Pratap did not mean that the battle was a cake walk for Akbar. Rana Pratap and his soldiers fought with great valour. As much as this battle was fought by Rana Pratap’s brave warriors, it was also a story of great versatility shown by his horse, Chetak. Even though Rana Pratap was defeated, Akbar’s army was not able to completely conquer the Rajput king.

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Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak at the battle

Sacrifice of Chetak

Rana Pratap’s horse made a great sacrifice in saving his master. Just as Alexander had a brave horse in Bucephalus, Rana Pratap had Chetak. Chetak was a native breed war horse, a Kathiawari.

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Alexander on his horse Bucephalus 

Chetak was seriously injured in the battle, but, to save his master’s life, it crossed over a big canal, to safety.

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Maharana Pratap crossing the Canal

As soon as it crossed, it fell down dead. Rana Pratap broke down and was moved by the great commitment his horse had shown in saving his life. He created a beautiful garden at the spot where Chetak had passed away. A statue was later erected in its memory at Haldighat, where it had shown great bravery.

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Maharana Pratap and his injured horse, Chetak

Scooter and Helicopter in its name

The valour of this horse is so ingrained in the Indian minds that the famous scooter in the 1980s and 1990s of India was named Chetak. Chetak is also an inspiration behind the name of India’s indigenously built helicopter. There is also an Express train in the name of Chetak.

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Chetak Helicopter

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Chetak Express Train

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Chetak Scooter

Many statues have been built over the centuries depicting Rana Pratap on his horse, Chetak.

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Statue of Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak

Popular across land

This battle of Haldighat goes down as one of the greatest battles fought by Maharana Pratap.  After this battle, the ethos and valour of Maharana Pratap reached far and wide.

In Coin

His valour has been commemorated by the Government in a coin.

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A Serial

A serial on Maharana Pratap was aired in TV, in English, Hindi and other vernacular languages. This serial was very popular, even in regions not visited by  Maharana Pratap.

Such is the spread of his valour all over the land, across languages.

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Gopala Krishna Gokhale

Gopala Krishna Gokhale was one of the freedom fighters during the Indian Freedom Movement. He was one of the earlier leaders, who sought and fought to bring greater representation of Indians within the British administration. He was a political mentor to both Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

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Gopala Krishna Gokhale

Birth and Education

Gokhale was born on 9th May, 1866, in the Ratnagiri district of present day Maharashtra. Inspite of hailing from a poor family, Gokhale was able to pursue his education in English, with assistance from his family members. He went to complete his graduation from Elphinstone College.

Joining Indian National Congress

Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress in 1889, where he met the other contemporary leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Gokhale was moderate in his view and tried to convince the British about Indian right and capability to rule, through dialogue and discussion. Gokhale became the president of the Indian National Congress in 1905.

Promoted Education

In the same year 1905, he founded the Servants of India Society, to further education in India, as he felt that education would promote human development, and economic progress, among Indians, which will eventually help throw the British out of India. This society also sought to fight social evils like poverty, untouchability, alcoholism and domestic abuse.

In Gokhale’s own words, “the Servants of Indian Society will train men prepared to devote their lives to the cause of the country in a religious spirit, and will seek to promote, by all constitutional means, the national interests of the Indian people.

Today, it has its centers in many Indian states.

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Servants of India Society Logo

Gokhale also gave many speeches among the Indian masses, to bring awareness among people, about the ground realities in the country, and as to how they could prosper.

Worked for Indian cause

Gokhale worked with the British, for the Indian cause, all through his life, and occupied various positions during his career. Some of them being,

  • Elected to Bombay Legislative Council in 1889
  • Elected to the Imperial Council of the Governor General of India in 1901
  • A member representing Bombay Province in 1903
  • Appointed Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1904
  • A member of Imperial Legislative Council in 1909

Even while occupying such positions in the British administration, Gokhale worked for the Indian cause, by persuading the British to bring in necessary reforms for the welfare of Indians. He forced the British to accept the capabilities of Indians.

Mentor to Mahatma Gandhi

Gokhale guided Mahatma Gandhi in his early days of the freedom movement, on the issue facing the common Indians, and gave him an understanding of the political situation in the country.

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Mahatma Gandhi with Gopala Krishna Gokhale

In those days, Gandhi was living in South Africa. Gokhale and Gandhi first met in 1896. The two again came together in 1901, at the Calcutta Congress, and spent more than two months together. It was here that Gokhale for the first time, persuaded Gandhi to return to India.  But, Gandhi couldn’t return to India until 1915, when Gokhale was towards his end.

When Gandhiji eventually returned from South Africa on January 8th, 2015, Gokhale asked him to undertake an all India tour, to properly understand the situation in the country, and also to build a connect with the people. He also funded this tour for Gandhi.

In his autobiography, “My Experiments with Truth,” Gandhi refers to Gokhale as his political Guru. He describes Gokhale as being, “pure as a crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault, and the most perfect man in the political field.”

The role that he played in molding Gandhi has been brought out by Govind Talwalkar in his book, “Gopala Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi’s Mentor”.

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Mentor of Jinnah

Gokhale was also the political mentor of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who in his own words wanted to be a “Muslim Gokhale”.

Legacy

Gokhale passed away on 19th February, 1915.It was an end of an era. It was also the beginning of the Gandhian era, where Mahatma Gandhi would take up a more prominent role in the Freedom Movement on the footsteps of his political Guru, Gopala Krishna Gokhale.

Today Gokhale’s legacy finds expression in the many educational institutions in his name, in the country.

  • The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune
  • Gokhale Memorial College in Kolkata
  • Gokhale Hall in Chennai
  • Gokhale Centenary College in Ankola
  • Gopala Krishna Gokhale College in Kolhapur
  • Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs in Bangalore

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The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune

The Gokhale Education Society today runs more than 50 educational institutions in Maharashtra.

A stamp has been issued in his name by the government of India.

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A life truly lived for the cause of Indian Freedom. In Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s words, “This diamond of India, this jewel of Maharashtra, this prince of workers is taking eternal rest on funeral ground. Look at him and try to emulate him.”