Let us become nobler

Sanskrit word 'Arya' or 'Aryam' stands for nobility. Let us implore everyone to become noble, the Arya or Aryam. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews, communists or capitalists, rich or poor, clever or dumb, weak, meek or bully. Uncomfortable perhaps are they with other, threatening peace. Ray of hope for the world is ‘include-all’ ideas of ancient Indian wisdom popularly known as Hinduism. Only they knew how to celebrate individuality of each person. Aryas respect ideas of others, respect way of worship of others, help others and become a noble citizen of this wide and varied world. Idea behind this blog is to bring out those ideas and help each of us become better than what we are. 'N' in the 'Aryan', by the way, was a mistake made by colonial 'experts' who wanted to underplay and undermine the culture and religion of those who they clandestinely enslaved.

Monday, January 30, 2012

“Talisman, sacred cities, secret faith” a book written by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval

The theme of the book is to establish existence of mysterious link between the designs of European and American-mega cities such as re-built Paris, post-great fire London and specially-built Washington DC and the ancient cities of Luxor, Rome, Heliopolis, Alexandria and Karnak. The author, Robert Bauval, being a structural engineer, the book is developed as a delightful resource for architectural history of otherwise invisible Egyptian link beyond the obvious iconography. Could anyone imagine, deliberate use of very unchristian, very heathen, customs and rituals of ancient Egypt by Christian and secular countries of America and Europe at the key monuments in those cities? Why was it done? The book provide eye-opener episodes from dark pages of history when people of Europe faced brutal repressions from the Church and clergy. After the state protection provided in AD 312 by Constantine, there was no looking back. Corrupted by power, wealth and ambition, the Church inflicted unspeakable tortures for last almost 2000 years, resulting in deaths of over a million good people, thinkers, scientists, writers artists and pious missionaries. The book connects many 'heretics' and intellectuals, Cathars, Messalians, Bogomils, Templar Knights, Magis, Manicheans, Lutheran Protestants, Freemasons and intellectuals such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Francis Bacon, Cromwell, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella,George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Roosevelt, Mitterrand, etc.

Book can said to have begun at the Place de la Concorde in Paris where the author, Robert, was looking at the Egyptian obelisk and wondered to himself: “how strangely forlorn it (obelisk) looked, away from its original home at Luxor in Upper Egypt. It was, as far as I knew, the oldest monument in Paris, dating from the reign of Rameses II, c. 1260 BC. It was one of a pair, the other still standing outside the Luxor temple. I realized that I knew virtually nothing about why and how it was brought here to Paris.” One curiosity led him to many more. And ultimately over a period of many years of research, it yielded this book.

Some reviewers think that the book is speculative and that the book does not contain anything 'new'. This could be a view of Church because they knew everything. They had skillfully kept many things away from public's gaze. However, from the references provided and the intensive research carried out by both authors, to me it is not as speculative as what those reviewers want us to believe, rather it has a lot of substance and it neatly concludes architectural links. While successfully establishing the existence of the invisible but continuous thread extending from the era that has gone by to the present, what authors have more significantly pointed towards is the continued existence, throughout the Christian history, till today, of those factions, groups and people who although dearly loved Jesus, would not like to accept writ of Church. For them Church was unholy, an 'imposter' and usurper of Jesus. For them, Pope was “devil's representative on earth”.More learned among these 'heretics' lived a frugal life, were celibates, ate strictly vegetarian diet and spent their time on God contemplation. They chose to live in voluntary poverty. And yet they and their relatives were hunted, tortured, burned, decapitated and all their worldly belongings confiscated. The Church had unleashed an era of 'informer culture', 'heresy-hunting', moral corruption, political power of Church and deadly inquisitions. That rebellious link however still persists, and still performs mysterious pagan rituals, if we are to believe the authors. Fortunately some of the documents that Church wanted destroyed had survived to see the light of the day. When the 'Nag Hammadi Library' was discovered in Egypt in 1945 and they give out clear message of the existence of 'secret society' as a resistance group.

It is clear that Church erred, grossly erred, by their later date reinstating most of those who were punished and admitting Popes having committed excesses under 'pressure'.

Authors have uncovered mystery behind the deliberate use of ancient religious rituals involving Sun, Osiris, Isis, Sirius, Pyramids and the use of elements from the temple of Solomon and in general a host of 'pagan' things from Hellenistic and Mesopotamia cultures.

The canvass of the Authors is huge, it begins from prehistoric Pharaoh times and moves to Hermes, Moses, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander Ptolemy, Darius Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, French Kings, Napoleon, Nelson, British Royals, Ben Gurion, Franklin, George Washington and George Bush. It takes in its stride, major European events, Crusades against Islam, Crusades against Christian heresy-mongers and against free thinkers, academics and artists, Rise and fall of Knight Templars, Secretive society of Freemasons, Illuminaty, Rise of Lutheran Protestantism, French revolution, American independence, creation of Israel and 9/11. It covers the territory of America, Europe, north Africa, Middle-East, Byzantine, Mesopotamia, Persia, China and Vietnam.

When authors refer to 'Gentle Christ and brutal Church' I am reminded of a booklet I read a few years back, its title, I thought was curious at that time,“Why Indians Like Jesus but not Church”. Had I read “Talisman, sacred cities, secret faith” beforehand I would not have felt curious. It stands to reason.

'Talisman' is a big book (562 pages), it is a serious reading material and an amazing book, a book I would say, 'must read'

More information on this book can be had from the authors' homepage:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unity in Diversity of India

I found it rather curious that all speeches and essays that I happened to see on this subject were talking only about diversity among us and none talked about our unifying factors. It was as if the subject was ‘Diversity in Unity’ instead of ‘Unity in Diversity’. I remembered a BBC documentary, ‘Around the World in 80 Days’[1], first broadcast in 1989 where its presenter, actor Michael Palin, who was astonished at diversities of language, religion, traditions, climates and geography of India, asks this relevant question, “What unites India” to an apparently well educated passenger travelling with him on a first class compartment of a train from Mumbai to Chennai. In its 4th episode of 7-part series, the lady passenger frankly admits, “Oh that really is tough one to answer”.

How come? I thought to myself and then did a little informal research, a ground reality check. Albeit, everyone knew what divide us, how different from each other are we and how we are even opposing each other, the rest of the responses were; ‘this is our country’, ‘we are born here’, ‘we share same constitution without discrimination’, we are united under one flag, etc. More knowledgeable sort of respondents took the unity happily for granted and enlightened me on agencies that were, in their opinion, responsible for our unity. The ‘nationhood’ ‘created’ by British and their network of railways and postal services. If those were to be the uniting agencies, I thought to myself, the colonial ‘Indians’ would never have asked for splitting what was then India on religious lines. History has in fact recorded that British divided us as never before.

Even if we credit Britain to have presented Indian nation as a politically united entity to us, we should remember that it was our current map minus 562 princely states and the huge landmasses that went to make Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Princely states between them controlled 40% of the liberated Indian Territory. It was thanks to Saradar Vallabh Bhai Patel that we have India as it looks on the map today after he integrated those states into then India. And if religion really can unite a country, we need to consider if it did by looking at bloody separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan and, 8 years of war between Iran and Iraq and general sense of distrust among members of 56 OIC[2] countries.

What is a nation? It is a political entity governed by a single agency; be it a political party, a king or a dictator. However we know that population living under one single administration does not always feel one. The erstwhile USSR, a formidable country, a powerful administration – world’s largest, broke up into 15 independent nations whose populations hardly share any common vision today, even if they had excellent railway and postal network. Similar alienations became manifest when several countries split up, for instance, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, North and South Sudan etc. Synthetic unity is brittle. On the other hand the German population that lived under two separate and opposing administrations - GDR (East Germany) and FRG (West Germany) culturally felt united and did unite in the end as one Germany in Oct 1990. So also did North and South Vietnams. Currently we see that China and Taiwan are culturally similar but share opposing administrations. To a great extent this is true also for us and our neighbors. The bonhomie seen between citizens of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal is not really surprising. Especially when meeting on foreign soil such as in Gulf, Africa, Europe or USA, these citizens (or ex-citizens) have formed natural bonds, irrespective of religions followed by them.

In South Asia, even before the occupation by foreign invaders (Afghan, Uzbek, Turk, Mongol, Iraqi, Iranian, Portuguese, French and British), even though we were split among hundreds of kingdoms we did feel a sense of unity. If neither their administration, nor religion, language, or railways and postal network have provided, is there that something deeper rooted in the Indian minds that give them a sense of unity?

The fact that (present day) India was split between many kingdoms in the pre-colonial era and yet the whole mass of South Asia was known by one common name from early prehistory is unique for any country. Arabs called our part of the world as ‘Hind’ despite us sharing several rulers. The name ‘India’ was derived by Europeans from the Arabic ‘Hind’. Herodotus (484-425 BC), a Greek historian, wrote about our wealth and non-violent habits and called us Indians. Another Greek, Megasthenes (302-298 BC) who was appointed as an Ambassador[3] to the court of Chandragupta Maurya gave name to what chronicle he wrote as “Indica”, an authentic source for historians to gauge what Greeks thought of Indians at that time. Among many things, he wrote[4]: “No Indian ever went outside his own country on a warlike expedition, so righteous were they." Also that, "Indians do not put up memorials to the dead; but they regard their virtues as sufficient memorials for the departed, and the songs which they sing at their funerals." And "This also is remarkable in India; that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave”. We share sense of one overarching Indian nation from ancient times. We share together tributes paid to us by historians and visitors.

In other parts of the world, diversity is not easily tolerated. They are afraid of difference[5]. We Indians proudly celebrate our plurality without apology. We take pride in our ‘unity in diversity’, the heterogeneity.  We do not seem to tire out listing our diversities, the religions, the languages, the gods, the castes, the climates, the customs, the attires, the cuisines, the dances, the ceremonies, the festivals etc. We have diverse opinions on each and every subject, aptly proving the Sanskrit proverb “Tunde, Tunde Matirbhinna”- in English it would mean that opinions differ with every head. Uncannily, our politics provide ample proof of this compulsive differing. In most other countries, two or three political parties would suffice but not in India - here we have 58[6] parties, and hundreds of independent members who can not find any of the available political party with who their opinions match. Especially our this trait, agree to disagree, was so striking that when Prof. Amartya Sen, a left leaning Nobel laureate sat to write down the differences and when he dived into our history and ancient literatures to find its evidence, he could easily come up with so overwhelming a quantum of episodes that he could devote an entire volume to listing differences Indians had among themselves from the time immemorial, yes I mean his book: “The Argumentative Indian”.

‘Agree to disagree’ is no laughing matter; it is actually the matter that unites us. We are unique in the world in the sense that we do give a formidable resistance to anyone who tries to dictate our minds. In other parts of the world, captains of the industry through their advertisements and lobbying, religious leaders through their institutions and fatawas, and, rulers through their official and unofficial machinery control the opinions of people. In India too this happens, however, people do not get overly swayed by ‘leaders’. An Indian, rich or poor, religious or otherwise, political or apolitical, listens to every one of them, even somewhat follows them but always keeps his own mind open and does a fair analysis ultimately. He can not be fooled for too long. Should not a man worth his salt have his own individual opinion? Borne out of own personal evaluation, assessments and verification? Actually, this ability to think independently is the core behind the plurality that we celebrate and a leading virtue that gave us indisputable edge in the IT[7]. We ask questions that others dare not. It is not a coincidence that not even one suicide bomber has emerged from India during decades of global terrorism, nor it is a coincidence that those MNCs[8] that once dreamt of sweeping Indian markets with their pizzas, fried-chicken, ice-creams, coffees and colas found going a bit difficult. We simply refuse to be shepherded as lambs.

Well, that the differences do exist is more or less obvious; I wish someone was now to write as interesting a volume on the factors that unite us by going behind the obvious. This is more important to any nation. What are the uniting factors and what are those nuts and bolts which keep us united?  Not that the information is not available, it is just that those factors are not emphasized enough and therefore have escaped making impression. Perhaps it is time we talk more about the ‘factors behind unity’. Why do we feel we are ‘one’ despite so many obvious differences? What generates the sense of oneness despite barriers?

One thing that strikes most to us and to foreigners alike is that we are an ancient country. Ancientness is our first uniting factor. True this is even for China, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Mexico etc that all had thriving civilizations in distant past. However what distinctly separates us from them is that our ancient culture is a living culture even now. In India, we have modern and ancient traditions existing side by side. We live by tenets of ‘maatru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava, aacharya devo bhava, atithi devo bhava, swaadhyaayanmaa pramadah, shraddhaaya deyam” (See God in mother, father, teacher and guest. Introspect regularly without being lazy, help others in good faith) that were formulated thousands of year ago and yet enjoy latest discoveries in sciences without slightest sense of conflict. Ancient Gods and their stories, Ra or Horus in Egypt, Jupiter in Rome, Zeus in Greece, Itzamna in Mexico, Viracocha in South America and Odin in Northern Europe have lost their sway a long ago on their peoples, they are no more their Gods. But in India, Raam and Krishna continue to sway millions of us, religious or otherwise. Huge temples of Jupiter in Rome and Baalbek are nothing more than ruins. No one worships there. In India, the ancient temples are still busy centers of worship. No corner of India is without signature of our common ancient heritage.

For us India is motherland, we have lived off its food, water and air, we have formed our mind and ideas here, we are educated here, we have earned here, we have friends and relatives here, so if we say “Vande Mataram” or “Maa Tujhe Salaam”, it is probably easy and natural. However, believe you me, our these very feelings of shared inheritance are intensely shared by millions of Indians living overseas, some of whom may not even have seen India and some of them may be holding foreign passports. An incredibly large number of foreigners, white, black, yellow and brown, love India and her people. It is the sense of oneness that counts. What our forefathers have asked from us, “to look at the people of the whole world as one family”, is not an admirable self-target? We as Indians are united in sharing this ideal handed down to us.

Our forefathers have made great effort to instill the love of land by their prose, poetry and rituals. In certain ceremonies[9] soil of India is revered and its pinch is placed on head to honor it. All rivers of India are held sacred and especially River Ganga is so highly revered that in the millions of homes across the country they permanently store at least a few drops of its water for use during sacred rituals, birth or death. Reverence for the twelve Jyotirlingas spread across four corners of India, seven sacred cities, holy lakes, wells and mountains etc are kept in collective consciousness of Indians by several hymns, songs, rituals and images. They have held every square meter of India sacred. If Rabindranath Tagore reminds us of our provinces, rivers and mountains in the national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana…” it is done even more intensely in the hymns of our ancient rishis. Their songs, even after thousands of years and even without any official endorsement have remained in our hearts and on our tongues.

Its result is for everyone to see in terms of religious tourism. From time immemorial, without any advertisements, without ‘tourism promotion councils’ and without any charity from wealthy or subsidy by governments,  people-old and young, men, women and children- crisscrossed India in a vast zigzag. During war and peace and during unsettled times of middle ages too, the pilgrimage continued unabated. The world is amazed that without needing any invitation or announcement, the millions of people have been gathering for Kumbha festival from several thousands of years, since the days of ‘great churning of milky ocean’. To say that it is extraordinary would be an understatement. Besides thousands of pilgrimage destinations, India is blessed with thousands of other touristic places that we enjoy in India, the beaches, mountain resorts, lakes, wildlife sanctuaries, adventure sports, etc spread across length and breadth of this big country, 7th largest in the world having an area of about 3 million square km and a population of 1 billion. We are united in feeling awe for age old and still going strong spiritual pilgrimage that gives rise to better integration by exchange of culture between far flung places. To further enhance integration, scriptural authority provides that no other but a Malayalee of southern India only can be appointed as a priest at several temples of the northern India such as Kedarnath and Badrinath and apply rituals specified in the Krishna-Yajurved developed in western India while seating looking at east.

India is emerging from the shadows of poverty, strife and plunders left behind by colonial rulers, foreign invaders and even corrupt local rulers. In a short span of 65 years as an independent nation, it has made a great progress. We have lifted millions from the poverty threshold, our businessmen have launched global corporations, our CEOs, CFOs, technocrats and scientists run hundreds of global entities. Our education counts and our students obtain best ranks and jobs anywhere they go. A recently published survey showed that the average Indian family income is highest among US population. From the margins, we now occupy seat at G20 summit. World leaders expect us to bail out some of the bankrupt nations or help them fight the menace of terrorism and despot rulers. In short Indians in India and even overseas have succeeded despite very modest restart in 1947 virtually without any godfather in this ruthless world at large. It is our mind, evolved from wisdom of centuries, ripened and honed, is our common heritage. It was a wealthy and culturally rich beacon like India that lured the world in past. Even after endless loot, plunder and cruelty it suffered, today it is once again ready to give. Always a giver of wealth, physical, intellectual or spiritual, with that mother India I feel united, be me here, there or anywhere in the world. Yes, there is much diversity, it adds to our richness but also we have deep rooted factors of unity which keep us together-with pride.

An American[10] national security adviser famously stated in her March 2000 speech that “enemy unites us”. If only an enemy was to unite, every nation would have to create and keep creating enemies. Indians are different; we do not need an enemy to become united. With or without, we are united. In diversity we are united, we are fortunate; we have hundreds of reasons to feel united and stay united.

[1] This BBC serial was inspired by classic science fiction “Around the world in 80 days” written by French author Jules Verne in 1873.
[2] Organization of Islamic Conference. http://www.oic-oci.org/
[3] ambassador of the Greek general Seleucus Nicator
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indica_(Arrian)
[5] Refer to “Being different”, a book by Rajiv Malhotra,
[6] As per the latest figures available with Election Commission of India, there are a total of 1,197 registered political parties in India. Of these, 6 national level parties and 52 state level parties (Collectively 58) are registered & recognized by EC and are allotted symbols. Rest 1,139 political parties are registered by EC but have not been allotted symbol. Ref. government of India website: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/ElectoralLaws/OrdersNotifications/Notification_symbol_08032011.pdf
[7] Information Technology
[8] Multi-national corporations
[9] Ceremony of Upaveet or holy thread
[10] Condoleezza Rice

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Uttarayan, Makar-Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal and Bihu

Makar-Sankranti and Uttarayan are celebrated on 14th January. Most of us know what they signify. Maker-Sankranti is ‘crossing into Makar (Capricorn)’ and Uttarayan is ‘movement towards north’. It is all about the movement of our energy source, nay, the life source, the sun. Imagine a life without it! Indeed, we all know that Sun actually does not move, but only appears to do so in relation to earth. It is the earth that moves.

We relate these festivals to kite-flying and eating sesame-candies. We also know, how that great Bhishma of Mahabharat fame waited till arrival of this day before giving up his life and embracing death. This festival is recognized essentially as a tribute to sun and its victory over darkness when it is well on its course marching from the tropic of Capricorn to reach the tropic of Cancer, that is to say, from southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. Nights visibly shrink and the winter perceptibly declines as it progresses on its mission.

When we think of Makar-Sankranti and Uttarayan, a host of things flood our consciousness. The sun, the stars, the nakshatras, the winter, the summer, the wind, the earth, the connected stories and histories, and of course, kites and sesame-candies too. These notions are systematically built around these festivals by ancient Indian thinkers, the rishis, with a view to inculcate effort-free understanding of the Mother Nature and making her come alive to us. Today’s world knows it better than anyone else, how much valuable the nature is by way of having become victim of its wanton exploitation. Citizens of the world have realized importance of preserving nature but they have lost the vision of ancients and hence no effective way is now at hand with them to tackle self-inflicted climate-change, global-warming and deadly-pollution. But this was not the case two millennia ago, when each and every civilization, without any exception, celebrated nature. Especially, the sun-worship was the most universal of all worships before being trashed by new Semitic faiths in their drive for new faithful recruits who must close their eyes and ears to their ancestral gods. The ruins at Scotland’s Stonehenge and Ireland’s Newgrange are ancient testimony to sun-worship.

Sun is life and its absence, death. Therefore, no wonder, sun is revered by everyone. Sun-God was known by various names by different civilizations of the yore. In Egypt it was “Ra”, in the large area between India through Iran and Europe it was “Mitra’, in Japan it was ‘Amaterasu’, in North-Europe it was “Beiwe” or “Lugh”, in the Roman empire it was ‘Sol’, in Greece it was ‘Helios’ or ‘Apollo’ and in America, for Incas it was “Inti” and for Mayans, “Kinich Ahau”. In India and places with Indian cultural influence, the people of Nepal, Tibet, China, Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand etc, still, the sun is worshipped by several names. The modern man has ridiculed nature worshippers and destroyed them wherever they could exercise their brute force. By acting deaf and dumb towards the Mother Nature they have indiscriminately robbed her resources. Now, when disastrous results are beginning to show up, they have begun wise talk of ‘ecological-balance’! Even in the face of grim environmental situation, their resolves are hollow and efforts dishonest when it comes to working towards ecological balance and fair distribution of natural resource. Between the nature-exploiters and the nature-worshippers, it is anyone’s guess, which are wise.

In the sense of northern movement of sun, the Uttarayan begins from the day of winter-solstice and continues till sun maintains its northward travel. In India we celebrate it on 14-15 January. Others, in the rest of the world, celebrated it even on December 13th, 17th, 24th, 25th and 26th. . This variation stems from the wobble of earth’s axis. Earth rotates around its axis at an inclination of 23.5°, and just as does the shaft of an inclined top, the earth’s axis also circumscribes a circular orbit. This orbit is known as ‘precessional’ orbit and takes 26,000 years for one circle. Due to continuously shifting position of earth’s axis over 26,000 years, the solstice keeps sliding every year by a few moments. In the year 2011, this day came on 22nd December and on that day the daylight period was 10 hour-50 minute-10 seconds. Similarly, in the year 2012, this day would be on 21st December. (day-light hours differ from place to place. Above calculation is meant for the world’s fastest growing city of Surat situated in south Gujarat). Another reason for the variation in the dates of Uttarayan celebration stems from imperceptibility of the change in sunrise and sunset timings when sun is close to the solstice. Let us take current example to understand the issue of imperceptibility. Although the daylight period keeps growing from 22nd December, its growth until 14th January (in 23 days), is merely 7 minutes-19 seconds, negligible when compared to 19 minutes-9 seconds growth in the next 23 day period after 14th January.

The north European people of Norway, Sweden and Finland celebrated Uttarayan as “Beiwe-festival” or “Lucia-Festival” and the Vikings and Germanic population celebrated it as “Yule-festival”. Ancient Romans celebrated Uttarayan as “Brumalia” and the Slavs, Ukrainians, and Russians of east Europe celebrated it as “Karachun”, “Koleda” or “Khorovod”. The ancient peoples of North America celebrated Uttarayan as “Soyalangwul” and the Central and South America’s ancient Incas celebrated it as “Inti Raymi”. In the Western Asia, before the rise of Christianity and Islam, they celebrated Uttarayan as “Zagmuk” or “Yalda”. The areas such as Tibet, China, Japan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos etc. where Semitic religions (Christianity and Islam) have not widely spread, the Uttarayan is celebrated variously as “Dong zhi”, “Yazu”, “Makar-Sankranti”, “Maghi”, “Thingyan”, “Songkran”, “Maha-songkran”, “Pi Ma Lao” etc. In Pakistan’s Chitral province, unevangelized ‘Kalash’ people of the mountains celebrate ‘Chamos’. Indeed, Uttarayan festivity is currently on wane in China and Tibetan territory under its control since God and religion are ‘undesirable’ elements in communism.

India celebrates Uttarayan and Maker-Sankranti as Lohri, Pongal and Bihu. On this day, young and old spend time under the sun, flying kites, eating and exchanging sesame-candies, giving gifts beginning new ventures and bidding good-bye to winter. They give as ‘prasaad’ or gift, those things that are produced by nature during those days; the wheat, rice, sesame, sugarcane and berries.

Makar-Sankranti is the day when sun enters the ‘nakshatra’ of Capricorn and it is the time when sun is already well on its way northwards, the ‘Uttarayan’. These two phenomena are computed using different methods. Calculated by the tropical-astronomy the Uttarayan is determined as having begun from winter-solstice and the Makar-Sankranti by sidereal-astronomy as commencing from 14th January. These two phenomena are joined into one single-day festival by ancient Indian rishis as the effect of Uttarayan can be easily experienced since Makar-Sankranti.

Just as Uttarayan portends reclaiming dominance on the northern hemisphere by sun, it is the Dakshinayan that does the same in the southern hemisphere. Therefore Dakshinayan is celebrated as “Maruaroa o Takurua” by the ancient Maoris of New Zealand and as “Vi-tripantu” by ancient inhabitants of Chile.

Thanks to the consumerism of the present day, the industries and commerce are as if thrown in a frenzy to strip the Mother nature like there is no tomorrow. Minerals, vegetation, animals, fish and birds are annihilated to meet the greed. Water, air and land are being polluted at an alarming rate. People have increased their requirements without ever thinking about needs of other living beings on the planet. How long could the earth sustain us has become a matter of great worry. Today world population stands at staggering 7 billion and would soon double. If the people of the world are to follow the life-style of America, scientific calculations show that, as of today, we would need resources equivalent to seven earths. Is it a sustainable lifestyle? Their ‘ecological footprint’ is that huge. In comparison, India’s ‘ecological footprint’ is tiny. If every resident of the whole world was to live the way we live in India, only half the resource of the world would suffice and we would not have to be worried about saving the planet from impending disaster. Albeit a lot of awareness has come about among the citizens of the world with regards to the nature as well as the consequences of ignoring nature, yet, hardly anywhere in the world, people are known to celebrate full-fledged festivals honoring and appreciating nature and paying tributes to it in as consistent a manner as being done for thousands of years in India.

However, be sure, such articles or speeches do not, cannot and would not save the earth. For ensuring effective saving of the earth, an internal transformation of human is necessary. This mindset can come only from gradual and perpetual working on people from their early childhood, a Sanskrit word ‘sanskaar’ well explains that process of working on mind. That we are not the owner of the earth but only her humble servant, should be given to everyone from childhood and that knowledge should be skillfully supplemented all through life of an individual by stories, festivals, practices, icons and rituals. This is what used to happen when the whole earth at one time celebrated festivals dedicated to the Mother Nature. Our ancient forefathers and sages knew it very well and therefore gave us those festivals, Puranic stories, episodes from history and many of those things which help reinforce respectful love towards nature in our day-to-day life. Festivals such as Uttarayan, Makar-Sankranti, Vasant-Panchmi, Sharad-Purnima, Thaipongal, Thaipusam, Chhath etc are celebrated in tribute to Nature. This is a patent peculiarity of ancient Indian culture ensuring that the nature gets unconsciously and unobtrusively woven into our life fabric. However busy we may be in our life, however hard may we be engaged in the struggle for survival and even if we have neither inclination nor need to gaze at earth, sun, moon, stars and seasons, their presence around us remains in our consciousness by auto suggestions and by festivals, icons, rituals etc.

If it is our mindset that earth is created for our consumption and God has appointed us as its master to control it, then we could and certainly would exploit it. That is what has been done by most of the people. Due to them, the earth stands devastated today. The message of Indian Sanskruti is quite the opposite. It says that earth is our mother and to serve it is our duty as her children. We can take what is needed (not what is wanted) but we should also know that she has other children too to look after hence it should not so happen that our other brethrens are deprived. We cannot rob mother and our siblings.

‘Uttarayan’ and ‘Makar-Sankranti’ festivals are a good time to reflect how not to let Indian culture meet the same fate as rest of the cultures, let us still worship and celebrate nature. Those who revere the nature, would think twice before inflicting injury to the revered. We are proud being tree-worshipper, monkey-worshipper, cow worshipper, snake-worshipper, sun-worshipper, earth-worshipper, river-worshipper……………….. 

 Film “Blue Gold-World Water Wars”. This is a well made film that warns of the real –not imaginary- dangers from exploitation of water. We are already seeing dangers and probably within our life time more damage would be visible in absence of determined drastic action. Corporations are using every means to grab this resource in collusion with governments and media. It was eye-opening to find that world’s water resources whether in America, Asia, Europe or Africa are in the hands of a few business houses. A must watch film. Buy DVD or watch on YouTube, but it is a ‘must see’, and must recommend schools across the world to show to their students. One of the reviewers of the film said thus: "I don't give a crap if your’ busy!!! Watch this documentary, this movie will take you to a new level of water appreciation."  http://www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com/   Film is made by Sam Bozzo.  Full length film available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSxaVcJ1sDA&feature=related

Saturday, January 7, 2012

ઉત્તરાયણ, મકર-સંક્રાંતિ

પતંગ, તલસાંકડી, ભિષ્મ પિતામહનું ઈચ્છા મૃત્યુ, ગંગા-સ્નાન, પ્રકાશનો અંધકાર પર વિજય વિ. તો આપણે જાણીએ છીએ માટે ચાલો આ મકર-સંક્રાંતિના પર્વ ટાણે, કાંઈક નવું, બીજું પણ જાણી લઈએ.

ઉત્તરાયણ કે મકર-સંક્રાંતિ આ બન્ને ખૌગોલીક શબ્દો છે, જેનો સંબંધ નિસર્ગ અને નિસર્ગદત્ત ઘટનાઓ સાથે છે. હાલના કાળમાં વિશ્વભરની પ્રજા પ્રકૃતિ માટે ભલે ઘણી જાગ્રુત જણાય છે પરંતુ ભાગ્યેજ ક્યાંય નૈસર્ગીક ઘટનાઓને યાદ કરીને લોકો ઉત્સવો ઉજવતા હશે. લગભગ બે હજાર વર્ષ પહેલાના જમાનામાં આવા ઉત્સવો વિશ્વભરમાં ઉજવાતા. એમાંય ઉત્તરાયણની સુર્ય ઉપાસના તો, એક યા બીજા નામે સહુથી વધુ પ્રચલીત હતી. બ્રિટનના સ્કોટલેન્ડમાં સ્થિત સ્ટોનહેન્જ ના અવશેષો અને આયરલેન્ડ સ્થિત ન્યુગ્રેન્જ ના અવશેષો આ વાતના જુના સાક્ષીઓ છે. ખ્રીસ્તી પંથના આગમન પહેલા, ઉત્તર યુરોપ (હાલના નોર્વે, સ્વીડન, ફીનલેન્ડ)માં તે સમયની પ્રજા સુર્યને “બીવ-દેવ” કહેતી અને ઉત્તરાયણને “બીવ-ઉત્સવ” તરીકે મનાવતી, ત્યાની વાઈકીંગ પ્રજા અને જુની જર્મેનીક પ્રજા “યુલ-ઉત્સવ” ઉજવતી, જુનુ રોમન રાજ્ય “બ્રુમાલીયા-ઉત્સવ” મનાવતી. પૂર્વ યુરોપના સ્લાવ, યુક્રેનીઓ તથા રશિયનો કરાચુન, કોલેવાદ કે ખોરોવાદ ઉજવતા. ઉત્તર અમેરીકાના મુળ વતનીઓ “સોયલાંગવુલ” , મધ્ય અને દક્ષિણ અમેરીકાની જુની ઈન્કા પ્રજા “ ઈન્તી રેમી” નામે ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવતા. પશ્ચિમ એશિયામાં ખ્રીસ્તી તથા ઈસ્લામ પંથોના પ્રસાર પહેલા, ઝાગમુક, યાલ્દા વિગેરે ઉત્સવો ઉત્તરાયણ નિમિતે સુર્ય ભગવાન “ મિત્ર” ની ઉપાસના માટે ઉજવાતા. જે જે દેશો માં સેમેટીક પંથો (ખ્રીસ્તી-ઈસ્લામ) હજુ તેટલા પ્રસર્યા નથી, દા.ત. તિબેટ, ચીન, જાપાન, ભારત, નેપાલ, મીયાનમાર (બ્ર્હમદેશ), થાઈલેન્ડ, કમ્બોડીયા, લાઓસ. ત્યાં હજી સુધી જુદા જુદા નામે ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવાય છે. ડોંગ-ઝી, યાઝુ-ઉત્સવ, મકર-સંક્રાન્તિ, માઘી, થીંગયન, સોંગક્રાન, મહા સોંગક્રાન અને પીમાલાઓ. આ ઉપરાંત, પાકીસ્તાનના ચિત્રલ પ્રાંતના વણવટલાયેલ પર્વતિય “કલશ” લોકો ચમોસ નામે ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવે છે. જો કે સામ્યવાદી ચીન અને તેના અંકુશ હેઠળના તિબેટ, વિ. દેશોમાં, જ્યાં ભગવાન અને ધર્મને અનિચ્છનીય માનવા તે સરકારી નીતી છે, ત્યાં આ ઉત્સવ લગભગ નષ્ટપ્રાય થઈ રહ્યો છે.

ભારતમાં ભિન્ન ભિન્ન નામે ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવાય છે. તેને મકરસંક્રાંતિ, લોહરી, પોંગલ કે બીહુ તરીકે વિવિધ પ્રાંતના લોકો માણે છે. ગુજરાતમાં ઉત્તરાયણ તો જાણે એક મહા-ઉત્સવ છે જેની તૈયારી ઘણા દિવસ આગાઉથી શરૂ થઈ ગઈ હોય અને જેમાં અબાલવૃધ્ધો પતંગ ઉડાડે, તલસાંકડી ખાય, દાન કરે, નવા કાર્યો શરૂ કરે અને શીયાળાને વિદાય આપે. નિસર્ગ તે સમયે જે ફળ અને ધાન્ય આપે તે ઋતુદત્ત પદાર્થો, જેવા કે ઘંઉ-ચોખા, તલ, શેરડી, બોરા, વિ. દાનમાં અપાય.

વિશ્વે જે યાંત્રીક વિકાસ કર્યો અને તેમાં પણ અત્યારની જે વ્યાપારીક હરણફાળ ભરી છે તેમાં પૃથ્વીના ખનિજો, વનસ્પતિઓ, પ્રાણીઓ (જળચર તેમજ થળચર) અને પક્ષીઓનું નિકંદન નિકળી ગયું છે, હવા-પાણી ત્વરીત ગતીથી દૂષિત થઈ રહ્યા છે. લોકોએ પૃથ્વીનો અને તે પર વસતા જીવોનો લેશમાત્ર વિચાર કર્યા વગર પોતાની સાચી-ખોટી જરુરીયાતો એટલી બધી વધારી દીધી છે કે હવે પૃથ્વી કેટલો સમય આ ભાર ઝીલી શકશે તે મોટી ચિંતાનો વિષય બની ચુક્યો છે. જે જીવન-પધ્ધતિ અમેરીકાના નાગરીકો પાળે છે, તે પધ્ધતિ પ્રમાણે જો જગત આખુંય રહે તો, વૈજ્ઞાનિક ગણતરી પ્રમાણે, આપણને સાત પૃથ્વીઓ જોઈએ. તેમની ઈકોલોજીકલ ફુટપ્રીંટ બહુ જ મોટી છે. ભારતની ફુટપ્રીંટ તે સરખામણીમાં ઘણી નાની છે. આજના ભારતની જીવન-પધ્ધતિથી જો જગતના સહુ માનવો જીવે તો માત્ર અડધી પૃથ્વીના સંસાધન જ વપરાય અને પૃથ્વી સાચવવાની જરાય ચિંતા ન રહે.

પરંતુ આ માટે આવા લેખો કે ભાષણો ના ચાલે. વિશ્વનો હું માલિક નથી પણ સેવક છું તે જ્ઞાન ગળથુથીમાં આપવું પડે અને જીવનભર કુનેહથી પીરસ્યા કરવું પડે. આ વાત જુના કાળના ઋષિઓ સારી રીતે સમજતા હતા અને તેથી જ આપણને એવા ઉત્સવો, પૌરાણીક વાર્તાઓ, ઐતિહાસીક વાતો અને અનેક બીજી સામગ્રીઓ આપી જેના વડે નિસર્ગ માટેની જાગ્રુતિ અને પ્રેમ આપણાં દૈનિક જીવનમાં સહજ રીતે સમાઈ જાય. નિસર્ગનું બહુમાન કરવા વાળા ઉત્સવો, દા. ત. ઉત્તરાયણ, મકર-સંક્રાંતિ, વસંત-પંચમી, શરદ-પુર્ણિમા, થૈપોંગલ, થૈપુસમ, છઠ વિ. ભારતિય સંસ્કૃતિની વિશેષતા છે. તે વડે, ભલે આપણે રોજીંદી પ્રવૃત્તિમાં ગળાડુબ હોઈએ, ભલે જીવનસંઘર્ષમાં વ્યસ્ત હોઈએ અને ભલે સુરજ, ચંદ્ર, તારા, નક્ષત્ર વિ. સામે જોવાની આપણને ન ફુરસદ હોય કે ન જરુરીયાત, છતાં પણ નિસર્ગ આપણા જીવનમાં અનાયાસે વણાઈ જાય છે.

જો આપણે એમ માનીએ કે ભગવાને આ પૃથ્વી આપણને કામમાં આવે માટે બનાવીને આપણા હાથમાં તેનો વહીવટ કરવા મૂકી છે તો આ પૃથ્વીને આપણી ઈચ્છા પ્રમાણે વાપરી નાખીશું. મોટા ભાગના લોકોએ તે જ કર્યું છે અને પૃથ્વીને ચુંથી નાખી છે. આનાથી વિરુધ્ધ, ભારતિય સંસ્કૃતિનો સંદેશ એ છે કે પૃથ્વી આપણી મા છે અને એની સેવા કરવી તે આપણો પુત્ર-ધર્મ છે. મા ની પાસેથી ખપ પુરતું ભલે લેવાય પરંતુ તેના બીજા પણ દિકરાઓ છે, તેમને પણ મળી રહેવું જોઈએ, માટે અતિ-લોલુપ થઈ નિસર્ગને લુંટી ન શકાય. અને સારો પુત્ર એ કે જેટલું મા પાસેથી લીધું હોય તેનાથી બમણું કરીને પાછું આપે.

પૃથ્વીના ઉત્તર ગોળાર્ધમાં જે પ્રમાણે ઉત્તરાયણનું મહત્વ છે તે પ્રમાણેજ દક્ષિણ ગોળાર્ધમાં દક્ષિણાયનનું, તે જ કારણે મહત્વ છે. ન્યુઝીલેન્ડના માઓરી, જે ત્યાંના જુના મુળ-નિવાસીઓ છે, તેઓ “મારુઓરા-ઓ-તાકુઓરા” નામે અને ચીલી ના મુળ-નિવાસીઓ “ વી-ત્રીપાંતુ” નામે દક્ષિણાયન ઉજવે છે. તે દિવસથી સુર્ય ઉત્તરમાંથી દક્ષિણ તરફની ગતિ શરૂ કરે છે.

શિયાળામાં સુર્ય ખસતો ખસતો દક્ષિણ ગોળાર્ધમાં સ્થિત મકરવૃત્તની લગભગ સામે પંહોચે ત્યાં સુધી દિવસ દરરોજ થોડો થોડો નાનો થતો જાય. આમ થતા થતા, એ ક્ષણ આવે કે જ્યારે દિવસ સૌથી નાનો હોય અને રાત્રી સૌથી મોટી હોય. આ ક્ષણને “વીન્ટર સોલ્સ્ટીસ” કહેવાય. એ ક્ષણ પછીથી સુર્ય વળી પાછો ઉત્તર ગોળાર્ધમાં સ્થિત કર્કવૃત્ત તરફની ગતી શરૂ કરે અને દિવસ મોટો થતો જાય. આ ક્ષણ દર વર્ષે થોડી થોડી બદલાતી રહે છે કારણકે પૃથ્વી ઢળેલા-ભમરડાની જેમ એક વિશિષ્ટ રીતે પોતાની ધરી ઉપર ફરે છે. ૨0૧૧માં ખગોળશાસ્ત્રીય ગણત્રી પ્રમાણે આ સૌથી નાનો દિવસ ૧૦ કલાક-૫૦ મિનિટ-૧૦ સેકંડ નો ૨૨મી ડીસેમ્બરે હતો અને ૨૦૧૨માં તે દિવસ ૨૧મી ડીસેમ્બરે હશે. (વિશ્વના દરેક સ્થાનની સમય-ગણત્રી જુદી હોય, અહીં આપણે વિશ્વના સહુથી ઝડપે વિકસતા ગુજરાતના સુરત શહેરમાટેની ગણતરી આપી છે.) આ વિશિષ્ટ પરિભ્રમણને “પ્રીસેશનલ ઓરબીટ” કહેવાય, જે ૨૬,૦૦૦ વર્ષની હોય છે. આ પરિભ્રમણને લીધે ખૌગોલીક ઉત્તરાયણની તિથિ ૨૬,૦૦૦ વર્ષના ચક્રમાં સતત બદલાતી રહે છે. આ કારણેજ, ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવતી વિશ્વની વિવિધ સંસ્કૃતિઓ ભિન્ન ભિન્ન તિથિએ આ ઉત્સવ ઉજવે છે. કોઈ પ્રજા ડીસેમ્બરની ૧૩મી, ૧૭મી, ૨૫મી અને ૨૬મીએ પણ ઉત્તરાયણ ઉજવે છે. આપણે આ ઉત્સવ ૧૪મી-૧૫મી જાન્યુઆરીએ ઉજવીએ છીએ.

જાણકારો, ખગોળશાસ્ત્રીઓ અને જ્યોતિષીઓ ઉત્તરાયણ અને મકર-સંક્રાંતિ વચ્ચે જે સહેજ તાત્વીક ભેદ છે તે સમજે છે. ઉત્તરાયણ એટલે સુર્યની ઉત્તર તરફ ગમનની શરૂઆત અને મકર-સંક્રાંતિ એટલે સુર્યનો મકર રાશિમાં પ્રવેશ. આ સતત સરક્યા કરતી બન્ને ખૌગોલીક ઘટનાઓની ગણતરી પણ જૂદી. નિરાયણ પધ્ધતિથી હાલના કાળમાં મકર સંક્રાંતિ ૧૪મી-૧૫મી જાન્યુઆરીએ ગણાય અને ખૌગોલીક પધ્ધતિથી હાલના કાળમાં ઉત્તરાયણ ૨૧-૨૨ ડીસેમ્બરે ગણાય. ખૌગોલીક ઉત્તરાયણ પછી દિવસ ભલે વધતો હોય, પરંતુ તેમાં વધારો એટલો સુક્ષ્મ થાય છે કે તે વૈજ્ઞાનિક સાધનો વગર નોંધવો કઠણ છે. જ્યારે આપણી ૧૪-૧૫ જાન્યુઆરીની મકર-સંક્રાંતિ પછી દિવસ મોટો થતો સામાન્ય માણસ પણ જોઈ શકે છે. (૨૨ ડીસેમ્બરની ખૌગોલીક ઉત્તરાયણથી આપણી મકર-સંક્રાંતિ વચ્ચેના ૨૩ દિવસોમાં દિવસ માત્ર ૭ મિનિટ-૧૯ સેકંડ જ વધે, જ્યારે મકર-સંક્રાંતિ પછીના તેટલાજ ગાળામાં દિવસ ૧૯ મિનિટ-૯ સેકંડ વધે છે.) માટે, ભલે ખૌગોલીક ઉત્તરાયણની તિથિ કોઈ પણ હોય પરંતુ આપણને મકર-સંક્રાંતિ પછીથીજ દિવસ મોટો થતો અને રાત નાની થતીનો અનુભવ થાય છે અને તેથી જ તો દીર્ઘ-દ્રષ્ટા આપણી સંસ્કૃતિ-દાતાઓએ આ બેઉ ઉત્સવો જોડીને આપ્યા છે. જોકે, ૨૬,૦૦૦ વર્ષ લાંબી “પ્રીસેશનલ” પરિક્રમા દરમ્યાન એક ગાળો એવો જરુર આવે જ્યારે અમૂક સદીઓ સુધી આ બેઉ ઘટનાઓ એક જ દિવસમાં થતી હોય.

સુર્ય ઉપાસનાની એક એ વિશેષતા જાણવી જોઈએ. આ એક એવા દેવ છે કે જેની પૂજા-અર્ચના ૨,૦૦૦ વર્ષ પહેલાની હરએક સંસ્કૃતિઓ કરતી હતી. ઈજીપ્તમાં “ રા” નામે, ઈરાનથી યુરોપ સુધી “ મિત્ર” અથવા “મિથ્ર” નામે, જાપાનમાં “અમતેરસુ”, ઉત્તર યુરોપમાં “ બીવ” અથવા “ લુઘ”, રોમન સામ્રાજ્યમાં “ સોલ”, ગ્રીસમાં “ હેલીયોસ” અથવા “ એપોલો”, અમેરિકાના ઈન્કા લોકો “ ઈન્તી” અને મય લોકો “ કીનીશ-આહુ” નામે સુર્ય-દેવને પૂજતા. ભારત અને જ્યાં જ્યાં તેમની સંસ્કૃતિ પ્રસરી હતી તે વિસ્તારોમાં, જેવા કે નેપાળ, તિબેટ, ચીન, લંકા, મીયાનમાર, ઈન્ડોનેશીયા, મલયેશીયા, થાઈલેન્ડ વિ. દેશોમાં તો સુર્ય-દેવ અનેક નામોથી પૂજાતા. આધુનિક માનવોએ નિસર્ગમાં ભગવાન જોનારાઓને મુર્ખા ઠેરવીને નૈસર્ગિક સંપત્તીની બેફામ લુંટ ચલાવી અને હવે જ્યારે હાથના કર્યા હૈયે વાગે છે, “ક્લાઈમેટ-ચેંજ”, “ઓઝોન-હોલ”, “ગ્લોબલ-વોર્મીંગ”, “પોલ્યુશન” વિ. થી મૃત્યુ-ઘંટનો નાદ બહુ પાસેથી સંભળાવા લાગ્યો છે ત્યારે “ઈકોલોજીકલ-બેલેન્સ” ની ડાહી ડાહી વાતો કરે છે. ડાહ્યા કોણ? આધુનિકો કે સુર્ય ઉપાસકો?

ચાલો, જાગ્યા ત્યાંથી સવાર, બીજું કાંઈ નહિં પણ આપણે એ સંસ્કૃતિનું જતન તો કરીએ જેણે “ઉત્તરાયણ” અથવા “મકર-સંક્રાંતિ” શબ્દને એક ઉત્સવનું નામ જ માત્ર નહિં રાખતા, તેને એક વિશાળ રહસ્ય દર્શાવતી સંજ્ઞા કરી કાઢી, જેને ઉચ્ચારતાની સાથે જ આપણા સ્મૃતિ-સમુદ્રના પેટાળમાંથી પતંગ-ફિરકી-માંજાની સાથે સાથે ખગોળ, ભૂગોળ, ઋતુ, વિ. આપણા કોઈ ખાસ પ્રયત્ન વગર સપાટી પર બહાર આવીને નિસર્ગની હુંફ સાથે યાદ આપી જાય છે.