They are not cultivated by the people like so many plants which decorate the homes, offices and other public places. They grow by themselves on the edges of the roads and other places wherever they get a chance. They are weeded out of the fields by the farmers to clear the land for useful crops. They are very sturdy and can survive the adverse conditions.
They are like the poor children who have no access to health care amenities and sanitation facilities. Some of them who survive all the diseases become very tough and become immune to every ailment.
Almost every one ignore their existence and treat them as an undesired growth. But even then they possess certain charm which a sensitive mind cannot ignore. They may have flowers of various hues and diminutive sizes. The flowers may exude fragrances.
As they say that a plant is considered a weed until its properties are not fully known. They may have medicinal properties.
Below are the pictures of some such plants growing in our area.
Krishna is reincarnation of Vishnu. He is very popular God because of his childhood frolics with Gopis (the wives of cowherds) and miracles. This facet of His life is full of romance. He is shown carrying a flute and herding the cows because he belonged to the Yadav caste which reared the cows. When he played the flute, a magic spell was created and animals, birds and moreover Gopis became mesmerized and felt a force which carried them towards him. He flirted with numerous Gopis but his favorite was Radha.
Afterwards, there seems to be a total change in his personality. He became a very serious characters who sided with the righteous and helped them decimate the ignoble. He became the director of war called Mahabharata between the cousins and preached a sermon to hesitant Arjuna about what is wrong and what is right and it was the pious duty of a righteous person to destroy the evil.
He was born in Mathura in the Yadava tribe. His father was Vasudeva and mother was Devaki. His birth was also very dramatic. Devaki, his mother, was the sister of ruling king Kamsa who was a tyrannic ruler. It was prophesied that eighth child of Devaki shall kill Kamsa. For this reason, Kamsa put Vasudeva and Devaki in a dungeon and killed all his 7 children. But Krishna was born and since it was all Maya, the sentries fell asleep, locks of the dungeon broke automatically and a baby girl born to a friend of Vasudeva called Nanada was exchanged and was duly killed by Kamsa who thought that problem is now solved as he had killed all the children of Devaki.
As he grew up, Kamsa traced him and made many attempts on his life and he slew the Kamsa and became the king of Mathura. But even now he did not have any peace because he was pressed between two hostile kingdoms namely that of brother-in-law of Kamsa Jarasandha and unnamed Yadav king. He left Mathura and with his followers travelled to a place called Dwarka in the Saurashtra presently a part of Gujarat. He married Rukmini, daughter of king of Vidarbha his chief queen. Some say that he amassed 16000 wives and 180000 sons. This is only a mythological story because only a man with supernatural powers can perform such a mind boggling feat. Since he was the reincarnation of God, it was not impossible for him.
After the end of Mahabharata in which the wicked Kauravas perished and Pandavas become victorious, he settled them on the throne, he returned to Dwaraka. Here ominous portents beset his regime as his clan members drank heavily and indulged in quarrels. He banned the liquor but it could not stop the feud. His son Pradyumna was killed before his eyes. His bother Balarama also died. Dejected Krishna wandered in the forest and was hit by an arrow in the heel by a hunter as the hunter mistook him for a deer. He had a weak heel like Achilles it was a vulnerable spot. He died and city was swallowed by the sea.
Such is the story of Krishna. Even Gods perhaps with the exception of Siva have to die like other mortals. Also when God descends to Earth from heavens then he has to be like other people although adorned with extra powers.
Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun is about one and half kilometer from the place I live. I regularly go up to the gate of the institute during my morning walk. Many a times, I extend my walk to the inside the Institute. It was established in the year 1906. Nowadays it conducts trainings for the candidates selected for Indian Forest Service, for the forest rangers, M.Sc courses. The institute itself is situated in a very big campus which have trees of every kind found in India.
Institute is situated in the middle and building is majestic. Despite being so old it mesmerizes the beholder. It houses the laboratories, museum which contains specimen of wood of trees, non woody products, the bugs which thrive on the trees and is divided into 5 modules. Guides are also available if one wants.
This is about the buildings but the real beauty is outside where sprawling green grass lawns, water brooks, the mighty trees, bamboos of umpteen variety can be seen. As everyone knows, the work of growing the trees is a very painstaking one, it must have taken years for many trees to reach their majestic heights and beauty.
As you walk through the jungles and woods, you feel transported to an altogether different world. A world that is so peaceful and serene and you are compelled to praise the God who has created it all. The varieties of the trees are numerous ranging in size from few centimeters to hundreds of feet. In the morning time one forgets that he is in this world but feels that he is in heaven. There is no pollution. The air is fresh. Yonder the blue Mussoorie hills form the backdrop. When sky is not overcast, it is so blue.
I remember the dialogues between two brothers in the movie Slumdog Millionaire after being thrown from the train near Agra. When dust thins before them and the visage of Taj Mahal looms before them. Younger one says “is this the heaven? ” Elder one tells that No, we are not dead it is real. Similar experience is felt if you leave your thoughts that encumber you behind. If you get a chance visit this place and feel for yourself.
I visited the place after many days and took some snaps. Due to the clouds and early morning, the pictures are a bit hazy as if one is seeing them in the dream.
God‘s creations are not comprehensive. His ways are an enigma for us to understand. Even a tiny event taking place in the nature is beyond our understanding. How the life is sparked in the body made of flesh. I think many times that if we assemble all the organs into a human body, can it come to life by itself?
A simile can be drawn from the modern day computers. A computer is assembled from the hardware like CPU, mother board, storage media, multimedia. Even after assembling the hardware, it is just a lifeless piece without any use until it is booted. Booting involves a small program called “Bootstrap” which makes the machine to come to life and starts the vital functions like loading the operating system which readies the computer for doing useful work.
Similarly, there must be something, some spark of energy which the God must be infusing in the lifeless body and bringing it into the action. The body becomes ready for performing various functions.
A computer can be rebooted if there is some hitch in the programs. This can occur so many times in the life of a computer. But in case of living beings since the time of booting till the end of life, this happens only once.
It is rightly said that there are dissolves in the reel life but the real life goes on.
It has seriously long while, I have written something in the blog though have wrote many things on the Facebook. Every time, I opened my blog page, I thought of writing something but it seems that some unseen force is holding my hand. Also whatever I have written till date seems all very frivolous when I look back at it.
It is just to begin again, I am trying my hand. Sometimes, the life I am leading seems so purposeless. I ask myself is this what you call life. Sometimes feels like running away to somewhere where nary a soul knows me. All this requires crossing a barrier just like the chemical reactions the reactants have to gather enough energy from heat or other sources to overcome the summit of energy of activation. After this it is all downhill.
Meanwhile, I have almost finished the book “City of Djinns” by William Dalrymple. What a writer!. The book reveals such unknown facts about Delhi. I am very much happy that at last after so many days I have read one good book.
I read very slowly because I meditate too much over the prose. I am surprised to hear some friends saying that they have read such and such book during the flight of 2 hours or in a day. It must be an injustice to the author who God knows had spent so many days collecting the facts for writing the book. Let the book be read slowly, and it shall reveal the nuances much better.
Thank God I have returned again, I seem to be able to catching some words from the hordes which are flying thickly around the paper and placing them on the paper at last.
Yama, the God of death wanted to test the wisdom and knowledge of Yuddhistra, the eldest of Pandavas. The story goes that Pandava brothers go to fetch water from a pond that supposedly belonged to Yama. As soon as, the pitcher is lowered into water, Yama’s voice reverberates and warns the pitcher holder not to fill it until he answers a question posed to him. As all the younger brothers fail to answer, they drop dead by the pond. At last when all the brothers are gone and none is returning, Yuddhishtra is worried and goes in search of the brothers whom he finds lying dead by the pond. He is aghast and anguished. As all the brothers possessed extraordinary powers, he is sure that some higher power has done this with his brothers. While he is sitting by the dead bodies, the voice of Yama again is heard. He lays down the condition before Yuddhistra, that he shall revive his brothers if he satisfactorily answers five questions.
One the questions was what was the greatest wonder of this transient world? To which he replies “Day after day countless people die. It is fact that that what is born has to die one day. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be greater wonder?”.
Sometimes back Steve Jobs died. He was not old to die but the cancer took his life. But he was a great man who had some most popular inventions to his credit. His products with brand names Apple and Mackintosh are matchless. He wedded the electronics with artistry. He suffered from the pancreatic cancer. After surgery and liver transplant, he became well and delivered a speech to the graduates. His speech contained 3 topics, last of which dealt with his illness. He says in his speech, I quote,
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’ life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
How strange both Yuddhistra and Jobs have exactly identical views about death. Further, Jobs likens the death to an inspiration. It is a change agent and scavenger. It continuously renews the life on the earth. Whenever, the role played by an individual is over, it simply replaces him or her with younger and brighter one. So, he exhorts, all of us to make best of the available time.
In the Hindu mythology, universe or the Maya is the dream of Vishnu which he dreams when lying on the bed made of serpents on the lake of infinity. Then, there was Narada, who was a very erudite sage. With his intelligence, he impressed so many Gods and Gods often discussed their problems with him and used his services as a messenger for communicating with each other because one of them may be in Himalayas while another in the down South.
One day Vishnu called upon Narada and offered him a single wish. The Narada asked him to understand the Maya that is the dream Vishnu dreamed and which as we know is the universe. Vishnu said Ok and took him on a walk. Now they are walking and walking beginning with Calcutta which is teeming with millions of people. They cross the Sunderbans where the fabled “White tiger” lives in the swamps and Sundari trees. They turn towards west and enter Bihar and then towards Uttar Pradesh. The weather is turning hotter and hotter and they are feeling more and more thirsty. The land is parched and Narada is finding it very difficult to go on. Now they reach the desert where the sand is burning with the heat from Sun.
Vishnu calls Narada and asks him to fetch some water for him as he is feeling very thirsty and weak. He pointed towards an oasis with its green shady trees and a village. The Narada went there in search of water and saw a well. He went and knocked at the door of first house to ask for the permission to draw water from the well. But when he saw the face of the woman who opened the door, he forgot everything about him and fell instantly in love. He married the woman and they lived together with great happiness. He and she worked in their fields and in the passage of time they were blessed with two children.
But the happiness was not everlasting. After twelve years, dark clouds thunder in the sky. Then the rain comes in thick sheets and there follows a deluge of such intensity that there is a flood which hurls everything that comes in its way. Swirling currents of water separates his family. He sees them consumed by the water one by one. He is crying and calling his beloved wife and children but to no avail. There after he also drowns in the water.
Narada wakes up after one hour with his face on the sand. The Vishnu is standing over him and asking him why he had been so late and where is the water he had gone to fetch for him. On hearing this Narada said “O God, now I have understood the meaning of Maya”
About 70% of Indian population still lives in villages. Agriculture and its related cottage industries is the main occupations of the inhabitants of the villagers. Since the times immemorial, the village folks lead a simple life and most of the work is manual. In many areas, the agriculture is dependent on the good weather and timely change in the weather. Most of the populace also rears animals which meet their many needs like milk, milk products like butter, ghee. This means that if the crops are good, and animals are providing articles of the necessity, the rural folk is happy.
As a result of this, all these things are revered. Farmer prays to the God, to bless his soil with good crops through rains. The cow which yields milk and endows the farmer with bullocks is highly revered by Hindus. It has been given the rank of mother. As everyone knows that Krishna was a cowherd and you can see pictures in which he is depicted playing a flute and cows gathered around him in love and affection.
The arts developed in different regions of rural India are as simple as the folks. For example, the Warli art depicts the simple village life like trees, animals, marriage ceremonies etc. Another such beautiful art is Madhubani or Mithila art. It developed in the village called Mithila, a village in the Bihar. Like Warli paintings the base is again the depiction of the rural life and the rituals observed in the area. In addition to the animals, trees and birds, in most of the paintings, the central theme is the God and Goddesses. Shiva, Sita and Rama are most popular. Sita figures dominantly because of the fact that Sita was the princess of this area. Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity is repeatedly drawn on the floor from the door to the worship room. Many symbols are used to convey the popular beliefs by the artist. For example, fish symbolises the good luck and snakes as our protectors.
The paintings on the walls which are plastered with cow dung as wells floors are the part of daily ritual based on the belief that Gods visit the house daily and it is to welcome them that these decorations are done. The painting is done by using natural colors derived from flowers and plants as well rice paste. Womenfolk did all the paintings. The difference from Warli paintings is that no area is left blank in the canvas. After the central figure which occupies the major portion of the space, there are leaves, birds and animals. In contrast to these, in the Warli paintings religious figures are totally missing. In fact, Madhubani paintings are more evolved than Warli paintings. Both are beautiful in their own way.
These paintings are so beautiful that they are in great demand. That is why now the art is made on cloth and paper and graces the homes of well to do in the cities.
Many famous artists include Shri Bua Devi Jha, Shri Jagdamba Devi, Shri Sita Devi, Shri Mahasundari Devi and others. Madhubani painting got official recognition in 1970 when the President of India gave an award to Mrs Jagdamba Devi of Village Jitbarpur near Madhubani. Beside her, two other painters, Mrs Sita Devi and Mrs Mahasundari Devi, were also given national awards in this field. In 2011, Shri Mahasundari Devi was again awarded, this time Padma Shri by the government of India.
Today morning, I was watching DDBharti channel on television. This channel is a repository of invaluable programs. It has a nostalgia attached to it due to its being the only channel which was first seen in Black and White and that too for few hours in the evening. It has grown up with us. It is the government controlled channel. The programs telecast on it are generally those which have recorded long back and relate to us. The faces of the presenters in some old programs send the mind in the old alleys.
Anyway, it was telecasting a documentary film on Malanavillage which is situated in the Parvati valley. As the name goes, Himachal is the abode of Gods, being so beautiful, it is like a heaven on the earth. The village has kept itself insulated from the outside world and its inhabitants have been guarding its their unique customs and culture closely. The village is situated on a plateau.
The documentary depicted the villagers. The women are very beautiful and men are very handsome, though it is all natural that they may not be aware of it. Outsiders tend to compare because they have seen different races of the people. One very prominent feature of their physique is the resemblance to the Greek people with sharp patrician noses and sturdy bodies. It is not surprising because the people living in colder places are generally fair colored. It is said that they are the descendants of the Greek soldiers of the Alexander’s army who settled in this beautiful valley.
The villagers has a Devta named Jamblu Devta which is supposed to be presiding over them through a council of members.The villagers follow the Devta in all the aspects of life and His decision is all abiding. The village follows democratic rules and is said to the oldest democracy in the world.
The customs are strictly followed. For example, the love marriages are considered very bad and an offense punished which is punished like the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Eden Garden for disobeying the God and eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge although in this case their was the snake who convinced the Eve that after eating the fruit they shall have the true knowledge and become as wise as the God itself.
Lets us hope that this village remains unaffected by the outside influences where so many bad things like corruption, crimes are happening and people are destroying the nature unawares that they are chopping off the very branches of the tree on which they are perched.
North West of Indian subcontinent has been the cradle of one of the great civilizations that flourished in the world once upon a time. The great Indus Valley Civilization existed here. Although the name suggests that it might have been situated along the coast of Indus valley because two sites namely Harrapa in Punjab and Mohenjo Daro have been found along the great river. And why not the river? Because river nourishes life. Early civilizations when population pressure was not much tended to settle down near the rivers.
It has been now established that the civilization was not confined to this small area but spread over a much bigger area extending almost to Gujarat coast and west side of Ganges. It is also taught to us from school that this civilization was run over by the hordes of people who entered India from West and were called Aryans. There are no conclusive proofs of this. Indus civilization was urban in nature which results when there are people who have become powerful and can control much larger population. Agriculture surplus provides the food for people in cities. There are specialists like goldsmiths, iron smiths etc which have their works inside the city’s boundary.
At that time there are Gods which had be venerated to keep the good times going on. There were Gods for every occasion and which controlled the nature’s activities. Like Gods of water called Varuna, Sun and Moon (Soma), rivers were mostly female deities. One such God is Lord Shiva who is the most loved God in the Hindu mythology. He is a complete ascetic and most of the times shown meditating on the Kailash mountain with his eyes closed for hundreds of years.
Shiva has Sati, also called Dakshayani, as his wife. She has earned the displeasure of his father Daksha in marrying Shiva. He did not approve of Shiva because of his unusual attire and ascetic nature. But it was preordained by Brahma that Sati shall marry Shiva and bring him back to the worldly ways to have a son by him who was supposed to kill some demon. Anyway, both loved each other and she was very happy.
But Daksha, the father of Sati, once arranged a yagna for which he invited everyone except Sati and Shiva. Sati assumed out of fatherly love that her father might not have felt the need to formally invite them because she was his daughter and there was no place for formality. Shiva dissuaded her but she went to her father’s home. But she was wrong because her father began denigrating Shiva. She could not tolerate and performed the self immolation. Shiva who knew everything was in a rage on hearing the news. He went there and carried the body of Sati and began the Tandva dance. When the God who is so gentle and gullible is in rage then he can destroy the world. Fearing the end of world, Vishnu cut the body of Sati into 51 parts and scattered them in different directions. With this the anger of Shiva subsided. The places where the severed limbs fell are known as Shakti Peethas and are places where Sati is venerated. One such place where her head replete with vermilion fell is called Hinglaj and is now situated in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. But despite the fact that the inhabitants of Pakistan who does believe in idol worship and rever only one God, the temple has survived. The few Hindus who are still in Pakistan visit the place. The area is very inhospitable with scorching heat and flash floods. There are goats and scorpions and snakes infesting the area. Even the Muslims respect the Sati and call the temple “Nani Ki Mandir”.
A Bengali tantrik Kalikananda Abhadut who made the journey to the pilgrimage wrote a book called “Marutiratha Hinglaj” based on his experiences during the journey. A very successful movie of the same name was made starring Uttam Kumar. The background music was scored by Hemanta Kumar who created some immortal songs. Later on when he scored the music of Hollywood film “Siddhartha”, he used the song for background echoing the longing and restlessness of the protagonist during his search for the truth. He is on the river for long long while and still his destination seems to elude him. In the song, the pilgrim also beseeches the Goddess to appear and bless him.
Baluchistan is the sore of Pakistan with its people being unbridled and fiercely independent. Even the British could not subdue them. Pakistan accuses India of fomenting the dissensions among the populace. The area is out of bound for all the foreigners. So many of the Hindus devotees in India, particularly in Rajasthan, must be longing to visit the pilgrimage. It is just like the restrictions faced by Sikhs in India who wish to visit the birth place of Guru Nanak which is called Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.