HARVEST FESTIVALS – THE LEGACY OF OUR ANCESTORS…..

  green field

(Harvest Festivals are there from time immemorial – Even in Biblical times, the practice of thanking God for the plentiful harvest, was there, as in tribal areas or in agrarian civilisations….Seasons of the year gave the measure of time for our ancestors, and life, in general, was guided by the Seasons……Modern Day living has thrust unnatural living to the maximum, that in so many companies, especially the IT sector, people use the day as night, and the night as day, defeating the very purpose of God’s mighty creation of day and night…..and thereby incurring health effects and burn outs and stress…….)

The earth has gone around the sun one more time to mark man made time as 2014…..never mind whether it is more than a billion years in actuality. But Nature has a different time mode altogether -Had we been in Mercury, we might have celebrated more years than on earth. Or, had we been in Jupiter or Saturn, we might have celebrated less new years in our lifetime….

Even the hour/day/year of the earth, is different on different planets. For example, if, say, we live 60 years on earth, will it be the same 60 EARTH years if we were to live on a different planet? Is certainly a thought to ponder……But even this cursory look at the time taken by different planets to revolve around the sun once, which we call a year, reveals the relativity of time.And yet, we unsuccessfully try to celebrate Time, to hold it in our hands while all the time it is slipping away. Youths drinking and shouting and racing on two wheelers just when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s eve, is perhaps the best example of our folly to hold on to intangible time by the gimmicks of revelry and partying. And yet, the New Year brings with it a certain promise –of change, of a better time than before.

Our ancients celebrated New Year only in March and April -it was only in 46 B.C that Julius Ceasar introduced the Julian Calendar that celebrated new year from January 1st. However, during the Middle ages, January 1st was abolished as the new year, until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar restored January 1st as New Year. Be that as it may, it is indeed a strange coincidence that the financial year still remains April to March……And the vernacular New Year for many of us in India remains Mid April, the season for reaping the harvest.

But Harvesting is almost unknown vocabulary to many children in today’s generation……Festivals like Pongal and Baisakhi, signal harvesting season, the season of plenty in Agriculture. Unfortunately, in modern India, real estate is now the new agriculture……creating acres & acres of concrete jungles. But Hope, is eternal. Let us hope that the agrarian and cultural tradition of remembering God, as the giver of plenty during the harvest season, always remains…….

சுதந்திர சமுதிரத்தை விட்டு வைக்காத அரசியல்!

fish

எங்கும் அரசியல்

எதிலும் அரசியல்

இன்றய உலகில் –

சாப்பிடும் உணவிலும் கூட….

 

சுதந்திர சமுதிரத்தில்

வாழும் மீன்களையும்

பிரித்து பார்க்கும் அரசியல் –

 

அதில் மாட்டிக்கொண்டு மிதக்கும்

இலங்கை இறால்

அந்தமான் வஞ்சிரம்

தூத்துகுடி சுறா

ஜப்பான் ந்ண்டு

 

என பிரித்து பார்க்கும்

கேவலம் மனிதர்களைப்

போல் இல்லாமல்

 

சுதந்திரமாய்……

இயற்கையின் பிரஜையாய்

மட்டும்…….

 

 

 ( Thanks to Yahoo Transliteration service and Google translate!)

Where the mind is without fear…..

tiranga

The cool morning mist

clears;

the sun breaks

the clouds to peep

into a nation

awakening itself…..

To the sounds of “Vande Mataram”

and “Jana Gana Mana”

and “Azaadi”…..

Whilst the National Tricolour Flag

hoisted across

the subcontinent

flutters in the breeze,

proudly proclaiming:

liberty and freedom…..

there is a small nagging thought….

Gaining momentum

With each passing hour:

Is the country truly awake

In that freedom

Tagore saw in his dream

And in his poem?

 

Awaiting patiently……

 

 

An ode to a friend…..

“Sir, please arrange to change the menu from Rava Upma to Poori Aloo for tomorrow’s breakfast” chorused the scouts and guides assembled before the campfire.

The Scouts Jamboree was on, and the children from various districts had had a good time, going by the camp fire stories and experiences shared that evening. As the District Commissioner, it was my duty to see that the children were happy with the food, and while doing the evening rounds, we had asked the children for any complaints, and there was one, on food. Most of the children did not like the “Rava Upma” that was being served for morning breakfast, and they wanted “poori Aloo” for the next day’s breakfast.

That was the only complaint/suggestion that they had. Otherwise, there was no complaint from them regarding all the camping arrangements that have been made.

It would have been difficult for them to have any complaints, as long as Sekhar “the DOC” was there. Shri Sekhar, a lifelong Scouter, was a great inspiration for all the young  Scouts and Guides. As the District Organising Commissioner  (hence the name, “DOC”) of the Palakkad District of Southern Railway Bharath Scouts and Guides, he was almost a legend when it came to scouting.

The time was 10.30 p.m., and I called the Scouter in charge of the kitchen. He came with the master chef and cooks. The new menu, Aloo Poori, was not easy, as the dough had to be kneaded and the pooris had to be rolled. It was quickly decided that the Pooris WILL BE MADE, come what may. But we did not have the rollers (Belan in Hindi) – the DOC along with a few others, late in the night, went from house to house in the colony, asking for chapatti rollers……

It was nearing midnight, and we had only 7 rollers – we needed atleast 15 more for the hundreds of pooris that have to be made. It was then that Scouts ingenuity came to our aid. It was the DOC who came up with an idea. We requested the Inspector of Works, for two long PVC pipes which had to be cut to the size of a roller, and bingo! We had 20 rollers in no time.

Since the Scouts camp was in the Railway School premises, we cleaned four long wooden desks in a classroom thoroughly and used it as the rolling base. The work of making the pooris started by around 2.a.m., and by around 6.a.m, the pooris were glistening and ready.

Like this, innumerable events spread across 8 years for me characterised the scouter in Shri Sekhar. Whether it was a station cleaning campaign, exhibition programme, road safety campaign or cycle rally, he was there, solid as a rock, making all the arrangements. The dedication, sincerity, hard work, teamspirit, ingenuity and the presence of mind of people like Shri Sekhar, had to be seen to be believed. It is the incognito Sekhars of Indian Railways, who make the Great Indian Railways, the organisation that it is…

All this scouting talent lay bundled up in a coffin on 11th May 2013, when  Shri M.Sekhar lost his brief battle with cancer.  As many a familiar face bid farewell to this great scouter, Shri M.Sekhar, tears stood at the corner of every eye that attended his funeral…..All the tears seemed to say, “Farewell, my friend, until we meet again….”

shekar

 

This is for you, Suren….

Suren Anna, your 7th “death” anniversary has just come and gone. Even if it is your 70th death anniversary, consolation cannot come for the simple reason that your killers are still at large. Your killers are still at large somewhere. On that fateful day in March 2006, when you were riding your tiny Bajaj Sunny Scooter, two racing rascals on two motorbikes whizzed past you on either side, without hitting you, but close enough for you to have a heart attack. Shopkeepers saw you struggling to maintain balance after the bikes whizzed past you, and helped you lie down on the road, where you instantly died. No blood. No wounds. But what a deep gash those two vagabonds, those two racing rascals inflicted on your heart that it never recovered? Because this is a common platform I am limiting the use of expletives, because those two racing rascals cannot be called otherwise. Without knowing who those racing rascals were, how could we even lodge a complaint? They had come so fast, none of the people around could even note their numbers, except for the fact that they came in two separate bikes – the witnesses to the event were unsure even of the make of the bikes since those racing rascals were so fast. No one knew who they were – those two racing rascals – but they are still at large somewhere. Those killers.

Those two racing rascals perhaps did not know that they would be snuffing out a life from a 56 year old man by their act of dare devilry. They perhaps will never know the pain that they caused to a family, to so many people, by their act of dare devilry. They might have impressed their girl friends or themselves or their friends, but they have left their bloodied hands on you – your death is a result of their dare devilry – nothing more, nothing less. Those two racing rascals would perhaps never know that you had gone for getting food and medicines for Ma, since Ma was not well that day. Those two racing rascals would probably be congratulating each other that they whizzed past a middle aged man on a slow scooter and outwitted him, little knowing that their act of dare devilry had caused a death. Those two racing rascals might never know how they have hurt and killed an innocent man like you.

When your younger brother who is a doctor, was at the casualty ward that day, and when they wheeled in your body and said, “road accident case” – little did he know that he would be looking at the face of his dead brother……

When the news of your death was reported by the local press, I hope to God that those racing rascals saw it and repented. Since no one knows who they were, we can only hope.

Suren, most of the bike manufacturers advertise speed as their bike’s USP. There are many movies promoting this fast speed bike USP for many years now – In the movies, no one really gets hurt – but in reality, hundreds, nay, thousands get hurt everyday on Indian roads. Statistics say that India witnessed one road accident every minute in 2011 which claimed one life every 3.7 minutes, one of the highest in the world.  Among the states, Maharashtra topped the list with the highest number of road accidents at 68,438 followed by Tamil Nadu with  65,873 accidents in 2011.

There are various kinds of bikes that showcase their speed and their agility on poor Indian roads. Most of these two wheeler riders who race in city roads to show off their skills not only get into trouble, but unnecessarily cause accidents such as yours.

Road rage has become a very common feature today on Indian roads. The slow riders/drivers are often shouted at, and teased. As if the speed matters. If one were to check these rash drivers, one would hardly find any justification in their speeding. Most of them would be going to do some mundane chore. Very rarely would you find a person rushing for a real emergency. It may be a movie, it may be to meet a friend, or worse still, it may be to buy some provisions. But the speed will be the same. These drivers and two wheeler riders who cause the deaths of others can never be at peace throughout their lives, knowing that they have killed someone. There are “weavers” today on city roads – they “weave” into the traffic in and out – Just a few days back I saw a motorcycle rider crushed under a lorry near our house in the evening around 7 p.m. It was really really sad to see the parents of the dead youth who were inconsolable. But how many parents indulge in their children’s two wheelers? In the city, in the town, and even in the villages, you can often see UNDER AGED children driving motor bikes – How can the limited police force control all this? But the parents, surely can – the parents, surely can curb these tendencies of their children. But unfortunately, it is parents who buy their children motor bikes most of the time, simply because the child wants the toy after seeing a movie or his/her friends.

Suren, most of the bikes that are there in today’s market have racing features. The bikes are sold for these features. The karma of the deaths of the people either on the bikes or caused by these bikes will surely be on the manufacturers of these kind of bikes. These bikes may be good for some foreign country or for some country roads, but for an Indian urban road, speed cannot be the only criteria….Safety is a much more important criteria.

The blood and karma of each of these deaths can only be on the manufacturers of such killer bikes. Why manufacture bikes that can go at 140 kmph? Is there any road on any city in India that can cater to such speed except at test tracks and racing tracks? These manufacturers can never understand the pain of losing a loved one in such accidents because they themselves would be going only in cars… These bike manufacturers can never be sympathetic to the thousands losing their lives because it is the USP of speed that sells their bikes….ably assisted by movie makers who market speed….

The dumb, “I want to catch up with the Jones next door” type of boys and girls queue up to buy the bikes that speeds and thrills, forgetting that if ever they lose control, they are going to pay heavily, with their own life, or with someone else’s…..It is a different thing that bikes are an essential part of city life today. We need transportation, and bikes are the best form of transportation – easy, fast and convenient. But how safe it is, is a different question altogether. The danger for bike riders come mostly from other bike riders…..

Suren, some day, I hope you meet your killers in the next world. And when that happens, I hope you are able to ask them why they did what they did, speed racing, and ask them whether it was worth it. No matter what anyone does is not going to bring you back from the dead. But if I too am around in the other world by then, Suren, those two racing rascals would surely be going around with broken jaws, for I know you are a forgiving man……

Towards Understanding Hindu Culture, Rituals and Traditions….Part Fourteen (THE CONTRIBUTION OF SAINTS AND SIDDHARS)

(We go to the Museum and see the remains of ancient human civilizations dating back to thousands of years. We get overawed by these artifacts. These modern museums serve as channels for the present day humans to go back in time, mentally, to those times when civilization was primitive. But what about those times when there were no museum? Also, we are able to pre-date human history for thousands of years. What if we are wrong, and that our human history dates back to much more than a few thousand years? Difficult questions…..)

Modern man buries space capsules containing material that can be dug up in the future. In 1939, a time capsule was buried in the ground as part of the New York World Fair as part of their exhibit. It weighed about 400 kgs and was made from an alloy of silver, chromium and copper to withstand the eroding qualities of soil over time. It contained many things like a newsreel, a microscope, a dictionary, a calendar, and other texts, including some crop seeds and even a doll with a book detailing the creation and the purpose of the time capsule. It is supposed to be opened by the year 6939 A.D. Many countries, including India, have buried time capsules at many places. At present, four time capsules are floating in deep outer space, lest some alien or our own mankind discover it in some distant future. Debate has been raging on regarding the exact use of time capsule, mainly due to the challenge of preserving the articfacts or data contained in the time capsule.

The Ancient Siddhars of India have long transcended these problems of preserving data and culture. They never had any time capsules. They have done a remarkable job of preserving data, culture and practices of yoga and other key knowledge resources THROUGH THE PASSAGE OF KALI YUGA. It is said that just before Kali Yuga started, the 18 siddhars convened astrally on a mountain in South India to determine how to guide mankind during the dark ages of Kali Yuga. The works that they have left, are testimony to the high thinking of the siddhars. If Hinduism is still able to retain many of its ancient culture and traditions, due credit must be given to the invisible Siddhars who have influenced Indian culture subtly and silently.

Many of their messages were left in their works of literature, or monuments. The Chidambaram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is supposed to be built according to various measurements like the number of breaths a human being breathes on an average in a day, and the number of nadis in the body, (72,000) etc. In the Palani Temple dedicated to Lord Muruga, the Nava bhashana idol of Lord Muruga, made by the great Saint and Guru of Maha avatar Babaji, Boganathar, has mystified even scientists. Bogar had made the idol using 9 different secret herbal mixtures that has defied the test of time and has withstood the passage of Kali Yuga admirably well. It was Sri Bogar who advised the architects during the building of the Great Temple at Thanjavur.

Sri Bogar, who went to China, became the great Lao Tsu when he took on the dead body of a Chinese youth. Such incredible stories abound about all the 18 Siddhars – but all the siddhars had only the welfare of mankind at heart and were greatly concerned about where exactly mankind was going.

There is a debate on the exact number of siddhars. Some books suggest 18 as the number. Others suggest much more, as even today, many siddhars live in obscure privacy, away from public knowledge. However, Agasthyar, Bogar, Thirumoolar, Ramadevar, Konkanvar, Karuvurar, Pambaati, Macha muni, Nadi devar, Goraknath, are some of the siddhars who have kept the destruction of culture at bay. The present living siddhar is Maha Avatar Sri Babaji, made famous by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Books by Sri Marshall Govindan and Yogi Sri S.A.A.Ramiah offer one a closer view of the great siddhar, Sri Sri Babaji Nagaraj and the siddha tradition.

The culture, traditions and rituals of Sanatana Dharma are not there in any one book, they are interwoven in the everyday ordinary lives of millions of Indians, and also helped by enlightened beings such as Siddhars from time to time…..

IMG1227A

(This is a picture of one of the saints who lived in Vasanthapuram, Vellore – near the Railway cantonment. I do not know his name. But I often saw him as a child. He is not there anymore. Sometime during the 1970s, we were told that he went into an underground chamber to attain Maha Samadhi and asked the entrance to the underground room to be closed. The temple is still there, and the entrance, still closed……No one knows whether he is alive or not. But people in and around the locality often get guidance from him in the form of dreams……)

Fluttering Feelings….


flag

Medals arrayed in varied colours

On dazzling uniforms

And

Hundreds of boots marching

In unision create

An atmosphere of awe;

Military Might put on show

The Nation’s patriotic fervour

While Fluttering Flags

Signal periodic patriotism

Dusted up and put on display….

A consolation that atleast on these days,

Party flags take a back seat!

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