Myth of Argus Panoptes!!

Most of us must have seen the peacock. And also the saying “hundred eyed one” or “all seeing”. All these things are related to Argus Panoptes. A person with keen eyesight and watchful is called Argus Eyed.

Peacock is often considered as the most beautiful bird. It is so colorful. Its tail feathers have eyes like patterns. In Greek mythology, these are the eyes of Argus Panoptes. He was the servant and guard of Hera and had hundred eyes fixed all over his body. Panoptes means hundred eyes.

My own picture

Argus Panoptes served Goddess Hera. He was chosen by her as he never slept. Some of his eyes were always open. So nothing escaped his eyes. That is why he was also called All Seeing One.

He was instrumental in slaying Echidna who was a fearsome character which was half human and half snake. She used to lure travellers to her cave and ate them.

Hera was the wife of Zeus. Zeus in Greek mythology was the head of gods. He is similar to the God Indra of Hindu Mythology and was a God of thunder and rain.

Hera and Zeus

Zeus had an extramarital affair with Io. And Hera doubted him and planned to caught them red handed. At one point she was just about to succeed in her mission but Zeus turned Io into a beautiful cow. Hera was aware of this. So she asked Zeus to give the cow to her. He couldn’t refuse.

Zeus was very upset and thought of plans to get Io freed. He took the services of Hermes who is the messenger of Gods. Hermes was a expert storyteller and lute player. He met Argus in the guise of a cattleherd and began telling Argus stories and playing soothing music. One by one Argus’s eyes began closing and he fell asleep. Hermes then killed him and took away the cow.

Hera was very disturbed and sad. She took the eyes of Argus and fixed them on the tail of a peacock which she kept as a memory to the faithful Argus.

Gold Pot! Where is it?

Most of the mythological stories are improbable. These are about extraordinary feats or things. Almost all of these have an religious angle, which lend it credibility. Wite passage of time, it takes deep roots into the psyche of humans. Often there is an element of fear is also there.

One such mythological belief is that there is a gold Pot hidden at the end of a rainbow. The pot is said to buried at the point where rainbow touches the earth.

The legend originated long ago in Ireland. There was time when Vikings invaded it and began looting the public and robbing them of their gold. Over a short period of time, they amassed a fortune of gold and other wealth.

They are said to bury the gold for the sake of keeping it secure. Because at that time, there existed no such facilities such as bank lockers.

The legend of buried gold began when the Vikings departed with the bounty but left some of gold buried.

After the Vikings, leprechauns came into picture. They found this hidden gild. The leprechauns were distrusted of humans and relocated this gold at the end of the rainbow.

Rainbow is an amazing natural phenomenon. We know that the light is responsible for this phenomenon. Light consists of seven colours in the human visible range. These are from Voilet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange to Red. When this light passes through a prism it is broken into individual colors.

In nature, when the rain and sunlight are present at the same time, the water droplets hanging in the rain act as prism and split the sunlight into an arc of seven colours. It’s edges seem to be touching the earth surface at the ends.

This is an illusion. No one can touch it. It goes on shifting it’s position. Even if you try to go to the point where it seems to touch the surface shifts away.

Perhaps the moral is that the wealth is there but it is not in the grasp of the seeker.

Chemistry Behind Cleopatra’s Beauty Recipes

Everyone has heard about Cleopatra. She is said to be most charming seductress and willy woman who became the queen of Egypt. She was very conscious of her looks and knew the value of being beautiful and always looking young and alluring.

It was Cleopatra, who popularized skin care treatments in her book titled “Cleopatra Gynaeciarum Libri”. There, she recorded recipes for making cosmetics and perfumed ointments. She was so interested in spa treatments and perfumes that her lover, Mark Antony, gave her the gift of a spa and perfume factory that had been built by Herod the Great at the south end of the Dead Sea.

Bust of Cleopatra

Although Egyptians may not be knowing the chemistry behind the ingredients used in the spa treatments but still to date many ingredients used at that time are in use but in the synthetic forms. Synthetic ingredients have low manufacturing cost and avoid lots of labor involved in extracting these from natural sources which only a royal person can afford.

For example, Indole is a organic compound present in the jasmine flowers as well as the feces of crocodiles and other animals. In high concentrations, this has a repulsing odor but at very concentrations it exudes fragrance. If you extract the chemical from the Jasmine flowers, you require millions of flowers for obtaining 1 Kg of oil costing approximately $10000. So these days synthetic oil is prepared from Indole and other ingredients at a low cost. Cleopatra used the excrement of crocodiles to clean and embellish her complexion.

She is said to bathe in the milk of asses to keep her skin soft and supple. This milk has an important ingredient Lactic acid which being an alpha hydroxy acid breaks down the dead cells of the skin. Even today’s many skin care products contain lactic acid.

Cleopatra painted her eyes with green and black pigments to protect her eyes from those ever-present flies and to enhance her appearance. On special occasions, she may have added glitter made from crushed beetle shells mixed with her eye paint. And she would have cleaned her teeth with natron, a natural form of baking soda, and freshened her breath with spearmint.

Egypt is an hot country and there is lots of perspiration which imparts body odors. So for Cleopatra, perfumes were important not just for masking the smells of skin treatments but to cover offensive body odors. Cleopatra would have carried small containers of her perfumed ointments and powdered perfumes that she would have reapplied several times a day to keep her complexion looking fresh and her skin sweet smelling.

Chemists have reconstructed a number of ancient perfumes using Cleopatra’s own recipes and analysis of perfume residues found in jars from Cleopatra’s spa. They discovered that Cleopatra favored perfumed ointments made from Moringa oil or horseradish oil (Moringa pterygosperma or M. aptera). Those ointments would have disappeared into her skin quickly and left no greasy feeling behind. Moringa oil is still used in Persian perfumes today, and chemists at L’Oreal have recreated ancient Egyptian perfumes using Moringa oil.

Blarney Stone

What is Blarney? Dictionary defines it as “a talk which aims to charm, flatter, or persuade (often considered typical of Irish people)”. For example
it took all my Irish blarney to keep us out of court“.

Blarney is a village in Cork Ireland. There is a castle by the same name Blarney Castle. In this castle, on one battlement is a stone made of limestone. The stone is said to have magical powers and anyone kissing it is supposed to get powers of eloquence.

Blarney Castle

Every year thousands of people visit the place from all over the world to kiss the stone and get those powers. Powers to charm others by sweet charismatic talk.

Kissing the stone is in itself a very hard task. Since the stone is set in the battlement wall separated from the main land by a deep chasm or moat.

Kissing the stone

During earlier times, when safety was not considered paramount, it is said that the person was hand head down from heels by a rope and lowered to the stone.

Nowadays it is not so. Since the stone is still at the same place, a railing has been placed on both sides of the stone. Person sits on the edge with his back towards the wall and two people hold his legs while he bends his torso backwards and reaches the stone.

History of the stone:

Although the castle was constructed in 1446, the story of the stone is about 200 years older than that. As with the ancient legends, its origin is also shrouded in the mystery and hypothesis. One legend is that this is the stone which Moses hit with his staff and water came gushing from it. Another legend is that it was Jacob’s pillow which Jeremiah brought to Ireland and since was used as the royal stone by Irish kings. In 1446, King Dermot McCarthy then installed the stone in an enlarged castle he constructed.

How the stone gained magical powers, a local legend claims that an old women, saved from drowning by a king of Munster, rewarded him with a spell, that if he would kiss a stone on the castle’s top, he would gain a speech that would win all to him.

There is even a poem singing the praises of the powers of the stone:

There is a stone there, that whoever kisses,

Oh! He never misses to grow eloquent:

'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,

Or become a member of Parliament.

This Certainly is not Diwali

Today in India, people are celebrating the festival of Diwali, also called Dipawali. Diwali means the lighting of earthen lamps called Diyas. The festival commemorates the victory of good over evil. Light from a Diya is a symbol of enlightenment which dispels the evil represented by darkness or ignorance.

Diya or Earthen lamp

It is said that when Lord Rama alongwith his wife Sita and brother Laxman returned to Ayodhya his home after a banishment of 14 years, the populace was overjoyed and every place and house was decorated with lights. People thus welcomed their prince valiant.

So much for the mythology. Now this festival is not a festival but a suicidal mission. So much crackers are burnt creating a thick pal of smog over the cities. Noise is deafening. People particularly children burn crackers worth crores.

It seems as if some war is going on outside. The talk of eco-friendly or green Diwali is a sham. Even this government which makes so much hue cry about burning of stubble by farmers keeps quite.

Last year was a rather peaceful in comparison due to corona outbreaks. But this year there is no such problem.

Cracker burning

One cannot sleep peacefully. Babies and elderly people are distressed. But these cracker blasters don’t care.

Adulterated sweets are sold without any qualms. This is what a festival becomes which is hijacked by commercial interests. Every business jumps into the selling spree giving discounts and bonanzas.

I suspect that children who are the main actors in this drama even know the philosophy behind this festival.

And had Rama experienced this sight on his arrival, I am sure He would had returned back and headed to the jungles where he had already spent the 14 years of his youth. At least there He would have breathed the pure natural air and avoided his name being politicised.

Shahrukh: KKKing KKKhan

Not for nothing Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan is he called Badshah or king Khan. By the dint of hard work, he has attained the pinnacle in Hindi cinema. He lolls in money; money seems to find excuses to go to him or Amitabh Bachpan. It never leaves them for a second.

The sobriquet of King is an appropriate one. There has been an King Shahrukh in the past; he was the king of kings and his full name was Shahpal bin Shahrukh and he ruled Qaf which was a magical place inhabited by Parees, Devs, djinns, and other non-human species. He had subjugated them all like our incumbent King Khan who casts his spell on Bollywood Parees, Devs and Jinns.

What is Dev? It is a species of immensely huge, powerful, strong demons, mostly violent and brutal; they are invisible to ordinary human eyes, and can fly. They live in Qaf, and are kept in subjugation by Shahpal. Some are cannibalistic. Their females seem usually to be magicians.

What is an Ifrit? Ifrit is a “Demon.” The most powerful and terrifying of the Devs who rebel against Shahpal. “’Ifrit” is normally a species name, but here it is the name of a single individual.

What is Djinn? A djinn is a species of Qaf-dwellers, invisible to ordinary human eyes; they can fly. They seem to be intermarried with the Parees: Shahpal bin Shahrukh’s brother Sabz-qaba is described as a Jinn.

It was the Shahpal bin Shahrukh who invited Amir Humzah- uncle of Muhammad to Qaf. Shahrukh had a daughter called Asmaan Paree (Sky fairy) who ruled after his death and married Hamzah and held him captive by love and violence for eighteen years.

So it is not any overstatement to call our Shahrukh, the King.

Frog and Scorpion Retold

The basic nature of man never changes as the famous poet Waris Shah said it hundreds years ago. He said “Waris Shah na adtaan jandiyan ne, bhaven katiye porian porian ji” meaning come what may, the habits never die. Same lesson is sought to be conveyed by the fable “Frog and Scorpion” which is commonly attributed to Aesop though the authenticity of this claim is contested by some authorities. Any way here we are concerned with the fable and what it tells.

Once upon a time a scorpion needs to go to the other side of the river. He knows no swimming and is in great trouble and sits sadly by the edge of river. Suddenly, he chances upon a frog in the water. He begs the frog to take him to the other side of the river. The frog is very apprehensive and fears the deathly sting of the scorpion. He tells his fear to the scorpion and expresses his inability to take it to other side.

The scorpion sincerely promises not to sting and tells the frog that death of frog will certainly result  in his own death. Thus convinced, the frog puts the scorpion on his back and begins his journey towards the opposite end of the river little knowing that it is his last journey.

When they are in the middle, without any rhyme or reason, the scorpion stings the frog. Frog is dying and drowning. He asks the scorpion why did he do this to which the scorpion replies innocently without any remorse that he cannot help it because it is in his nature. It is built in in his behavior.

Most of time, the behavior of many a fellows’ partners is like that of scorpion. They are hoping and hoping and doing whatever is liked by their partners but it results in no improvement in their stinging behavior. Never do they feel any remorse.

Aesop’s Fables

Most of them even don’t feel anything because it in their nature to behave like that and to them there is no oddity in their behavior. They keep on trying despite getting insulted, degraded and rebuked for after all the hope burns eternally in the breast of most human beings. They keep on waiting for the day when something will change, when the behavior of their partners will change.

Narcissus in Us!!

There is a Narcissus in All of Us: More or Less

Narcissus or Narkissos was a youth of exceptional beauty and due to vanity became exceptionally proud and disdained others. When Goddess Nemesis saw this, she attracted the Narcissus to a pool of clear water. He saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with his own image. He did not left the pool and died.

Narcissus looking himself in water

The word narcissism is derived from him and means excessive self love. There is less or more narcissus in all of us. To a degree it is essential for self keep up. But many of us have it in larger measure and keep admiring their own pictures.

Narcissus is also the name of beautiful flower of the same name. The name is also linked to intoxication (narcotic) and the Greek character Narcissus which is the topic of this post. He was intoxicated with self-love.

Narcissus Flowers

Jayanti Devi Temple

Temple of Jayanti Devi is situated on a hillock at the village Jainti Majri about 8 kilometers from PGI Chandigarh. It is nestled between the Shiwalik hills. As you travel to temple from Chandigarh, the verdant plains change into hills. There are cliffs all around.

Although the area falls under Punjab but it is more like a village sitting at the lap of hills. The area is lush green with the fields of various crops common to Punjab. Condition of the approach road is not good although a new road has been built but in parts near the village it is not still built.

I don’t know my exact date of birth as the record keeping in India was very poor at that time. I was born in a village called Mastgarh about 10 kilometers from the temple. When we were very young, our parents decided to shift to Manimajra.

Many a times I wanted to know the exact date of birth. I asked my mother to recall it. She always replies that you were born when the annual fair at Jayanti takes place. I also remembered vaguely my father mentioning about going to attend that fair when we lived at Mastgarh. So I wanted to visit the temple. One day, I along with my wife and son started in the car and reached the temple. After Chandigarh one enters the villages with green fields and many ponds of wate


The way to the temple is through the village. Street is narrow.  Car was parked in the front of the temple gate. There are about 350 steps of stairs you have to climb to reach the temple. The whole path is covered and there is a stop over in the middle where you can purchase the offerings like flowers, coconut and prasad.

At first the path looked formidable at our age but we made it slowly. There were written on the notice boards that the annual fair is during the beginning of February. So at least I could know the month of my birth. The temple is at the top. There are two watch posts from which you can survey the whole surroundings below. Behind are many cliffs and there are fields right up to the hills. There is a dam on one side which have been built to harvest the water and avoid erosion. During the fair it is visited by lakhs of people. I was thinking how exactly this temple handled the huge crowds.

The entire Shivaliks had in the past many small kingdoms ruled by Rajputs. Like that, this area was also a small kingdom ruled by a Rajput King. One of his brothers was to marry the daughters of Kangra king. The girl was a devotee of Jayanti Devi. She is one of the seven sisters, the seven goddesses of the Kangra valley — Naina Devi, Jwalaji, Chintpurni, Mansa Devi, Brajeshwari, Chamunda Devi and Jayanti Devi

She was at pains to leave behind her Goddess after marriage. She prayed to her. Her prayers were answered and goddess promised to accompany her where ever she would go. She revealed this to her father who made another carriage for the idol and thus she brought it with her to Jayanti Majri. Her father in law constructed a small temple to establish the idol here.

Afterwards, a Robinhood like fellow named Garib Das from Manimajra took over this area. He was a great devotee of this goddess and got the present temple constructed.

Karva Chauth

There is a legend behind this festival as there is a one after every story. In short, the story goes like this:

Once upon a time was a queen called Veeravati who was very delicate disposition thanks to the pampering by seven brothers. Being the only sister, they loved her very much.

She was given to a king (naturally) in the marriage. After being married, queen went back to her parents, to celebrate, the festival in which women has to be on fast whole day breaking it when the moon shows on the sky.

Due to the hot weather and her delicate being, she started having hunger pangs and was on the verge of passing out by evening. Her brothers could not see her plight and concocted a farce by making a false moon behind a hillock and thus forcing her to break the fast. 

But she earned a curse for this from Shiva, but being very truthful and faithful, Shiva agreed revoke the death of her husband but he would live in great pain with needles embedded in his body.

This then happened but queen, would remove the needles one by one. At last, one day when she had gone out, the maid removed the last needle bring a great succour to king who took her as his consort and queen made the maid instead. 

But she did not lose heart and had great faith in her devotion and love and things moved in such a way that king realised his mistake and made her his queen again. What happened to maid is anybody’s guess.

So this fast is to be completed otherwise bad things can happen to the husband (as if it is not bad enough being married). There are some foolish men who I think do this for TV coverage who also observe the fast alongwith to show the undying love for spouse. For this they must be bunking the office work to be with the womenfolk all the day.

Maids can be afforded by the rich people, so this means this ritual is applicable to the people who are affluent. For the poor, it is daily Karva chauth one way or the other with the difference they have to worry about how to break the fast.

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