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.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

13- Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A Story of Shiva and Me.

(A decade ago after a trip to Tibet, Nepal and India, I wrote down my impressions. It was not meant to be a book, however after it was read by some, it was suggested that if it gets published, interested persons can use it. However I thought (and still think) that the narration was more of a personal quest into Bhagavan Shiva and that it may not interest a wider audience. Therefore instead of commercially publishing it, I thought of placing it on a website of Publishing house Harper Collins’s website known as Authonomy.com. It remained on their website as "Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A Story of Shiva and Me", for people to review my narration for many years. However, last year, when Harper Collins shutdown Authonomy.com and I realized that some people still wanted to read my account, I decided to place all 26 chapters of that travelogue on this blog. Reader views and comments are welcome)

Chapter 13.  Lake Manasarovar or Manas-Sarovar. West-shore, for first dip / Dream Miracle / Great King Mandhata, First Emperor 5500BC / Ashwamegh or Rajasuya Yagna – Campaign for Human Upliftment / Sage Dalabhya, My ancestor: Doctor Surgeon Philosopher

Some time today a lifelong desire of many among our group was to be fulfilled. Imagine what excitement one feels when first, the very first, ‘Darshan’ (glimpse) and dip in the holy lake Manasarovar seems within the grasp! Also if weather is clear, be able to set our eyes for the first time on the holy Mount Kailash in the backdrop! One needs to see it to believe how energized people become. Our route today would take us higher than ever to an altitude of 17,000 feet, while crossing Mayum-La pass. After quick breakfast we set out on the road, our eyes were searching for the most awaited panorama. Patience was that one virtue what we needed to learn when we realized that drive was 277 km, the longest in a day.


At long last, just after mid noon, we spotted the lake Manasarovar’s blue water and the distant peak of the Mount Kailash. However, we were still a long distance to actually reach the bank of Manasarovar and the Mount Kailash was much farther away. Our Landcruisers took a little diversion from the road and climbed a little height to emerge on a flat area, a designated place, a viewing pad from where one can get good Darshan (View) of Manasarovar and Mount Kailash. A Tibetan tourism department official is posted here. He works out of a small cabin purpose built to dispense tickets and watch over the trail for incoming and outgoing tourists. Gautam purchased our tickets, allowing Landcruisers up that flat area and get a good view. Our group was in the state of great exhilaration. It was a clear bright day with just a few white clouds drifting above us. On the southern horizon was Mount Gurla Mandhata, on the northern horizon was the Mount Kailash and between these two giant, glorious mountains was the lake Manasarovar. No sooner did the Landcruisers stop, pilgrims jumped out of the vehicle to offer their prayers and reverent salutation (‘Pranam’). Some of us removed their shoes and prostrated towards Mount Kailash in ecstasy. Some had tears of overwhelming joy and reverence, in their eyes. (I remembered young woman Alice Albinia. In her book, “Empires of Indus”, in the last chapter that deals with areas around Mount Kailash, she wondered why tears rolled down from her eyes so readily, like a torrent. It was she said, inexplicable.) No one wanted to leave this place. But we had even bigger attraction awaiting us further on, the dip in the holy Lake. And if we were to delay our departure and if the sun was to go down, the water of the lake would cool down, making it harder for us to perform our holy dip. Realizing this we all once again scrambled on to our vehicles and rode down towards bank of the distant lake which became invisible the moment we descended from the viewing-pad.


Lake Manasarovar is a large fresh water lake and among highest such in the world. It is considered to be the origin of four large rivers, Brahmaputra, Indus, Karnali and Satalaj. It is interesting and also miraculous that no direct link is visible to show that water from Manasarovar is actually flowing into these rivers. However the picture becomes clear if one was to visit the beginning points of these rivers and see for himself. For instance, at a point from where the great river Indus begins, one finds that water is bubbling up from the mossy flat ground (Unlike normal expectation to see small stream emerging from mountain slopes, becoming a river in the end). This ‘hole’ from where Indus emerges is known as ‘Senge khabab’ (Lion-Mouth in Tibetan Language) and Manasarovar water comes here through underground channels.


Soon enough we were on the bank of Manasarovar. We were now driving on the edge of the Holy Lake. It is important for a pilgrim to perform the circumambulation of the holy lake. However, as the lake is so vast, its circumference being 90 km, it is to be done, not by walk but by Landcruiser. We would do half the circumambulation on way to Kailash and rest on the return journey. The circumferential road was worse than the road we came from. Dirt road now had millions of round pebbles and was passing through hundreds of shallow streams that flow from surrounding mountains to the lake. At one stage, one of the vehicles had a major break down. Apparently brake oil fluid line gave way. We were pleasantly surprised by the quick diagnosis and availability of spare metal tube and skillful repairs by the team of drivers. However repairs wasted our one good hour.


 At another point, the flow of water was so rapid and the terrain so unstable due to small and large pebbles loosely piled up below the water level, it made it very tricky for the vehicles to wade through. Although all the vehicles made it in the end, every vehicle left us out of breath watching them negotiate the treacherous watery path. We rode further on once all the vehicles had safely overcome that patch. At last, at a very fine spot, all our vehicles came to a halt, pilgrims jumped out in sheer joy, eager to take the holy dip. Sherpas began setting up temporary changing-room-tents for ladies. Everyone was informed not to use soap so as not to pollute the yet unpolluted lake.


This lake is just a little over 150 km away from the frontiers of present day India (across Kumaon region of Indian state of Uttarakhand) and has been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years. The lake (Sarovar), as its name suggests, was first formed in the mind (Manas) of Bhagavan Brahma, the creator-power. Many therefore specifically call it as ‘Manas-Sarovar’ (Mind-Lake). It was from here that Brahma created the world. In the Hindu scriptures, Manasarovar is a symbol of purity. Gods bathe here. A dip in the Manasarovar is considered the ultimate holy-most among all the dips Hindu Purans have prescribed; a dip here or a sip of its water is said to wash away sins. Sanskrit literature is replete with description of this lake and hymns in its praise and its connections with divine. Poet Kalidas, (Date indeterminable with accuracy, however estimated to be sometimes between 170 B. C. to 400 A. D.) in his epic romantic, even erotic at places, ‘Meghdoot’ describes aerial view of this lake and surrounding regions. His another epic “Kumar-Sambhav” too pays tribute to these regions, naming as “Gandha-Maadan Region” and listing the mountains it contained as  Mountains Mandarachal, Meru, Kailash and Gandha-Maadan.

Dream Miracle


It is said that if one call out and remembers any dead relatives or dead friends with genuine love and respect during dip in the holy lake Manasarovar, your voice, message or homage reaches him or her. Quite unexpectedly, I too experienced this miracle when two of them appeared in dream that night.


The lake is left in its natural form without any embankment or boundry walls. All around the lake is a barren landscape with stones, pebbles, mud and very sparse grass. No trees, nor plants.  Not even temple, idol or priest. Just nothing else except you and your God! How exciting! Manasarovar and Kailash are unique in this regards.


It wasn’t very cold, but was windy. Sun was as scorching as ever. We changed into our swimsuits, kept our belongings by the side of the lake or in the Landcruiser and entered the holy water. We were afraid that water would be freezing chilly. However, the water was tolerably cold, at least in the shallow part at the edges of shore. It became increasingly cold as we waded further into deeper water. Except a few brave souls most remained close to the shore. Even the sick pilgrim, who felt a little bit stronger today, could not resist a dip. After the dip, we sat on the shore, some individually and some in separate groups for prayers, meditation and Pooja (religious rites). We found it hard to light up a Ghee-Dipak (Butter-oil-fed-holy-lamp) using match sticks because of wind. A cigarette lighter is indispensible here. Everyone felt highly elated in communion with God. We still had a lot of time before sun would set and hence we prayed to our heart’s content, ignoring the un-ignorable scorching sun. We remembered each of the departed elders from our family; thanked them and prayed to God for them; my father, grand parents, uncles (including the philosopher uncle who was first in providing me with some logic in worship of Bhagavan Shiva), in-laws and cousins. Even by mistake, not to omit any departed one, in our final remembrance we called out “all the descendents of my grandfather[1] and great-grandfather[2]”. Then it was turn of all the living relatives, who could, would, could not or would not be able to make it to Manasarovar. It is a privilege to be able to perform holy-dip on their behalf. I remembered all our living relatives and friends, mother, brothers[3], sister[4] their families, all cousins, and all the nephews and nieces, invoking them within me and then taking a dip, as if they are themselves.


Manasarovar Lake is locally known by its Tibetan name, ‘Mapham Yu tso’ (meaning: ‘Victorious’) and is also held as holy by them. Queen Maya of Kapilvastu came here for a dip before the birth of Bhagavan Buddha. Ancient Tibetans have several monasteries known as ‘Gompa’ around this lake. The lake is a clean and amazingly beautiful expanse of water of every pleasing shade, from light oceanic foam-green to dark blue. Fishing is officially banned in recognition of holy status. This lake is deep at certain places in its center, going as deep as 90m. (For the sake of comparison, a 10m deep port is considered a reasonably good port, Mumbai’s latest JN port, capable of handling vessels up to 85,000 DWT is 13.5m deep)  Manasarovar’s size and its volume make it appear like a sea, complete with wave like small ripples continuously hitting the shore. The lake is said to be the abode of white holy swan birds; we did see hundreds of swans, geese and ducks in the water as well as resting on the shore while driving towards our next destination after holy dip. Birds in such a large number seemed nothing short of miracle in the fiercely hostile climate. Presumably, birds may be surviving on fish but what about winters when the entire landscape gets frozen. We just wondered. 


It is said that this lake hides a passage between our world and the other worlds and that if one has acquired the ability, can see celestial persons, descending or ascending from the lake in form of halo, flame or streak of light. In daylight, under the sun, it is hard to spot the light, hence we kept a vigil that night, but our untrained human eyes could not spot any being divine or otherwise anywhere over the vast but empty landscape. However, two hours that we spent on the lake has remained memorable due to shiny bright streaks of falling meteorites, we have never seen likes of that anywhere in the world. Falling stars (meteorites) we had seen plenty in our life; but this were different. It must have been thirty to forty thick streaks of very bright light as if a sparkling neon, momentarily switching on and dazzling the night sky. We stood in awe for two hours of ‘Brahma-Muhurt’ (most auspicious early morning 3 am to 5 am, a period for meditation that yogis never miss), hardly even noticing the chill.


During sleep two of the departed souls from our extended family came so distinctly in my dream and there we talked to each other. The content and manner was unmistakably unique and characteristically theirs. Both were from the same family, a mother and a son, both my seniors. It is too personal for me to write more on that subject but suffice to say that I never had them in my dreams anytime in past and those individuals were not even in my general consciousness, ever. They just appeared on that night and gave me the message. As my duty, when we reached home, we paid a visit to their home and conveyed the message to living members so that they could take appropriate action.

Great King Mandhata, First Emperor 5500BC


After the dip, as we proceed, further, we had the imposing view of Mount Gurla Mandhata (7,694 m or 25,354 feet) to our left.  This mountain is named after a great King Mandhata, who was said to be the first Indian emperor. He ruled a vast territory from Iran in west, Uzbekistan in north, portions of Tibet in east, Afghanistan, Nepal and India in the south. His bravery was legendary and so also his style of ruling. His style of rule should be a stimulating thought for present thinkers of the world. He ruled a vast territory, but not in the conventional sense, actually not he but his rules ruled; more or less like a republic, however with some brave difference, unthinkable even by bravest and elitist of today’s thinkers and rulers. Think of USA, assume what if every state was sovereign independent country with its own head of state not answerable to president of USA but tied only by an unalterable constitution framed by United Nations and overseen only its fair execution by president of USA.


Now look at Mandhata’s style: After winning over the kingdoms, he had a practice of returning the won kingdoms to the very kings who were defeated in return for their pledge that their country would be fairly ruled, following the constitution set by sage Manu, known as “Raj-Dharma” and supervised its implementation by the Kings who have been defeated by Mandhata. “Raj-Dharma” is the charter of duty of the Kings of protecting and keeping populace in happiness. This practice was established by Vedic sages and is known as the ‘Ashwamegha Yagna’. In case the defeated king dies in the war, the kingdom is handed over to his legitimate heir in return for pledge to victorious king to follow the constitution of Raaj-Dharma. The Ultimate crowning glory comes to Emperor Mandhata when he defeats the invincible Indra, the king of Devas. It was to commemorate his victory, this imposing mountain (Ranked 34th tallest peak in the world), taller than mount Kailash was named after him by the cartographers and other leaders of the time. Mandhata, not withstanding this crowning glory, remains committed to his pattern, and returns gracefully Indra’s kingdom. He earns high accolades and has become memorable.

Ashwamegh or Rajasuya Yagna – Campaign for Human Upliftment


‘Ashwamegh Yagna’, also known as ‘Rajasuya Yagna’ is generally described by most as merely a horse sacrifice at a fire-altar. Knowledgeable people, proficient in reading of the ancient texts have found that, fire ritual apart, Ashwamegh Yagna was a very special kind of a human upliftment campaign, usually undertaken by the most powerful and mighty of the kings. This ‘Yagna’ is performed as per well defined rules. The Yagna performing king is required to send his emissary, one by one to all the near and far kings, asking them either to surrender or to fight. Surrendered kings do not lose their kingdoms, but are obliged to treat their citizens by the law as applicable in the charter of the Yagna-Performer, usually the code of conduct of a king as defined by Sage Manu. If the other king does not surrender and wants to resist, he is free to do so. Even after resisting and putting up a fight, should he lose and or should he die, the kingdom still remains in his or in the hands of heirs provided that he or survivor heir agrees to abide by the constitution approved by the Yagna-Performer king. In case the challenger wins than he takes whatever is lost by the Yagna-performing King and the winner is free to establish his own writ.


Mandhata was unique from his birth. His father was king Yuvanashwa and mother queen Gauri. There are different stories pertaining to his birth. One tradition holds that he was born to his father (not his mother), delivered by cutting open side of father’s torso, in an interesting plot which explains occurrence of this strange pregnancy and why he was known as father’s son. In the areas near Mount Mandhata, till date, we find stone carvings, of extreme antiquity depicting giant human that has a penis and also an inverted baby (in the fetal position) in the abdomen!! Perhaps picture of a pregnant King Yuvanashwa who was known for his huge built. (Refer to sightings of stone carvings in Tibet, Kargil, Kashmir, and North-West Pakistan by Alice Albinia in her award winning book “Empires of the Indus”). In another version of the story, Mandhata is said to be an abnormally heavy built baby, who was delivered after a difficult labor by his mother who dies giving birth to him and the child is raised by father. Both stories, whichever is believed, the fact emerges that he was virtually a ‘father’s son’. I tend to believe the strange pregnancy on account of three factors: clear reference to it in the scriptures, its mention by Revered Pandurang Shashtri Athavale in one of his discourses and the stone carving on a huge mountain face in Kargil.


J P Mittal, in his book, “History of Ancient India from 7300 BCE to 4250 BCE” mentions that Yuvanashwa, loved Gauri very dearly. As she died while delivering their son, Yuvanashwa looked at new born Mandhata, less as his son but more, as killer of mother and showed indifference towards him. Due to indifference towards son, Mandhata was taken away and cared for by Rishi, Sage Dalabhya and his wife in his Ashram which was situated nearby present day town of Ayodhya.


Emperor Mandhata, as per Mr. Mittal, died in 5500 BCE during end part of the Satya-Yuga (Satya means ‘truth’ and Yuga means ‘Era’: Satya-Yuga is ‘Era of Truth’. In Hinduism, they have four eras; Satya-Treta-Dwapar-Kali Yugas. Currently we are in the last era known as “Kali-Yuga”. These Yugas keep repeating cyclically). The character of Mandhata was so tall it inspires people till date. Languages of India have proverbs venerating Mandhata’s life and achievements. (For instance: “He thinks he is Mandhata”, “Do you think that you are a Mandhata?”, “Even Mandhata did not take with him his kingdom when he died, will you be able to take your wealth with you” etc)

Sage Dalabhya, My ancestor: Doctor Surgeon Philosopher


Rishi Dalabhya and his wife looked after Mandhata, fed and educated him and when he was ready, well trained in every aspect of statecraft and weaponry, he was produced before the king Yuvanashwa. Tall and handsome Mandhata charmed and delighted Yuvanashwa who once abhorred him. Mandhata was said to be one and a half feet taller than the tall Yuvanashwa. He was young, strong and so well groomed that father ultimately joyfully accepts Mandhata as his son and thanks Rishi Dalabhya. Ayurvedacharya (Expert medical doctor and a skilled surgeon) Rishi Dalabhya is famed also for having successfully treated Dhumatsena’s (Satyavaan’s Father) eyesight. Everyone is familiar with the story of Sati Savitri and her husband Satyavaan. Dalabhya is known to have treated both of them and even Sati Savitri’s mother. Rishi Dalabhya is credited with saving life of an unborn Kshatriya child and his mother when Parashuram (an incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu) was on a campaign to rid society of reckless and arrogant political, military and civil administrators. 


Among Hindus, everyone belongs to a specific well defined lineage. These lineages are used mainly for defining set of people that should not unite in matrimony to ensure that inter-breeding does not take place and that best progeny is produced by combination of best qualities of different lineages. My family lineage is traced to Sage Dalabhya and thus he happens to be my early ancestor. Being a successor of Sage Dalabhya, my ‘Gotra’ (Lineage) is defined as “Dalabhya-Gotra”. Boys and Girls from this family are considered brothers and sisters and thus can not join in matrimony.  Before deciding on a bride or a bridegroom, the very first thing a Hindu does is to check on proposed partner’s Gotra. A male from Dalabhya Gotra must find a female who is not from Dalabhya Gotra and similarly a female must find a male partner who is not from Dalabhya Gotra for marriage. There are several such ‘Gotra’s, or lineages of several Rishis such as Vashishth, Atri, Kaundilya, Bharadwaj etc. Marriage partner should never be from one’s own lineage. This is one of the chief reasons why Hindus have minimal congenial diseases and deformities. As per the available statistics, congenial defects are highest among Muslims due to religiously sanctioned inbreeding between cousins. We, modern people, behave very strangely- we do a lot of research and adopt create best variety of animals and grain by selective breeding but when it comes to humans, not only we do not seem to care but even try to ridicule and destroy the work of ancient sages who had put in place certain great systems.


[1] Gaurishanker Bhai
[2] Nanji Bhai
[3] Ajay living in Mumbai and Vijay living in Ottawa
[4] Nita living in Faridabad, near Delhi

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