Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

When Braham Kamal (ब्रह्मकमल) Bloomed in our home

One of neighbours in ONGC colony Dehradun gave us a cutting of a cactus like plant in March 2013. She told that the plant is called “Brahama Kamal” and is considered very auspicious in Hindu mythology. It is said that a lotus bloomed from the navel of Vishnu who is the greatest of holy trinity of Brahama, Vishnu and Mahesh or Shiva and Brahama was created on this bloom. That is why it is called Braham Kamal (ब्रह्मकमल). Kamal means lotus in Sanskrit

It’s scientific name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. It is a very interesting and unique plant. It belongs to Family Cactaceae. It is commonly known as Night blooming Cereus, Queen of the night, Lady of the night as its beautiful Lotus like flower blooms late night. In India it is called as Brahma Kamal ( ) and is treated as a sacred plant. It is popularly known as Orchid Cactus as the flower has orchid like beauty and plant resembles cactus in habit. It is known by different common names in different parts of the world viz. Jungle cactus, Dutchman’s Pipe.

The plant is native to Sri lanka where it is known as Kaduphul ,it is believed that plant blooms rarely and that too late night. People in many places of India have been successfully growing it in the pots. At least I know of two people in Mumbai and Dehradun.

In the meanwhile, we shifted to Panchkula near Chandigarh and brought the plant with us. It began to add on branches but no flower appeared on it for two years. Then in the last week of July, a strange stem like structure covered with pink threadlike structures began taking shape. Firstly it grew straight downward from the tip of a blade of plant. Then the lower part began swelling and becoming like bulb. On the evening of second August around seven o clock the bud began opening and flower unfolding. By ten o clock in the night, it completely opened up to show a pristine white lotus. It was mesmerising to see it.

We were very excited as we were told that flower blooms for one night only and had a life span of 10 hours. In the early morning, we again observed it. It was still there but had begun to shrink back. In the noon, it completely became like a thread. But after three weeks it again gave another flower.

It is said to blossom during mid July to mid October in India. Let us see that if it bless us more times during this season.

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Viramamunivar alias Father Costanzio Beschi Great Tamil Poet

Perhaps the greatest literary figure in Later Tamil poetry was Viramamunivar (1680-1747). Actually it was the pen name of Father Costanzio Beschi, an Italian Jesuits who taught for 36 years in Tamil country.

Like many early Christian missionaries, he lived in wholly Indian fashion and attained a complete mastery over the Tamil language and literary conventions. It is doubtful if any European before or since has gained so profound a knowledge of an Indian language. Beschi’s long poem “Tembavani” tells the stories from the Old and New Testaments in ornately beautiful Tamil. His style and the treatment of his themes were altogether in keeping with tradition, but influence of Tasso, an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata, has been traced in his work.

It is Gurudeb Tagore all the way

Gurudeb Rabindra Nath Tagore is the only poet credited with having his poems adopted as National Anthems of two countries: India and Bangladesh. Gurudeb’s entire life was soaked in the poetry and music. If India were not divided in 1947 into India & Pakistan whose one limb was East Pakistan, Gurudeb would have been the poet of India and East Pakistan area which was in fact East Bengal.

Gurudeb Tagore’s family was aristocratic family and He did not attend the schools to get the formal education. He was tutored at home and by Nature when he was visiting his properties which are now in the Bangladesh. Otherwise they lived in Kolkata as was the custom in vogue during those days. Gurudeb is still revered in Bangladesh as in India.He started Shanti Niketan with the aim of educating the students in the natural environs. Mostly the education imparted was music, painting and other artistic streams. Many students of the Shanti Niketan attained fame in artistic fields. Students from all over India and many countries of the world study there.

Most people, like me, knew the fact of Gurudeb being the author of national anthems of India and Bangladesh. But there is surprise. When the national anthem of Sri Lanka was being played before the commencement of 2011 cricket world cup final played between India and Sri Lanka, I was a bit confused. The tune was almost identical to Indian anthem and like Indian counterpart belonged to Rabindra Sangeet developed by Gurudeb himself at Shanti Niketan.

Next day Times of India carried out a news item which disclosed the reasons for resemblance. It so happened that Gurudeb had a great impact on the Sri Lankan national anthem. Sri Lankan national anthem has been written and composed his student Ananda Samrakoon in 1939-40. It was adopted as the island nation’s anthem around 1952, though political turmoil has seen it altered over the years.

Some credit Tagore with having composed the music. It was Samarakoon’s six-month stint at Tagore’s arts college Shantiniketan that inspired him to begin the anthem. The style eventually developed to be the “first traditions of unique Sinhalese music”, wrote Sri Lankan news portal Lanka Gazette in celebration Gurudev’s 150th birth anniversary this year.
As every Indian knows,  Jana Gana Mana was written and set to music by the legendary poet and artist. The first 10 lines of his 1905 poem Amaar Sonar Bangla became Bangladesh’s anthem in 1972.

Serendipity

The word has become very popular in usage after it was coined by Walpole. Serendipity means accidental discovery of something. A scientist is working on the synthesis of a particular compound he has in his mind but discovers an entirely new product. This is called serendipity.

Discovery of penicillin by Dr.Alexander Fleming is the example of serendipity. He forgot to disinfect cultures of bacteria when going for long vacations, only to find them contaminated with molds of Penicillium which had killed the bacteria.

There are ample number of other examples of serendipity which can be found in different spheres of life. For example, superglue.It is cyanoacrylate and it was accidentally discovered by Dr. Harry Coover, first when he was developing a clear plastic for gunsights  and when he was trying to develop a heat-resistant polymer for jet canopies.

The word was coined by Horace Walpole. The word is derived from a fable called “Three Princes of Serendip” which is a story based on the adventures of three princes of Serendip when their father sends them into exile (to learn the first hand experience of their kingdom) and they happen to discover unexpected things by chance or by their sagacity.

Sri Lanka was called “Serendip” in ancient times. According to one theory the name is based on the Sanskrit word derives from Swarnadip, the Sanskrit language name of Sri Lanka.

There was a king named Giaffer who had three very intelligent children. They are sent to very learned persons in different fields to learn and show precocity and return after completing the education. Their father asks eldest son to take over the reins of kingdom as he intended to go to some monastery.  One by one, sons refuse on the grounds that their father was the wisest king and should rule till the end of his life. The king then feigning anger send them on exile.

On their journeys, they meet a man coming from opposite direction and who has lost his camel. He asks the princes and they tell him very accurate description of the camel though they have not seen it. They tell that camel in question was blind in right eye, it was lame , it was carrying honey and butter on its left and right sides and a pregnant women was riding it. The description was so accurate that the man complains to the authorities of that kingdom that these boys have committed the theft of his camel. They are put in jail but released when the camel is found out. Impressed, the king of that country asks them how they had known so much about the camel. They answered thus:

“As the grass had been eaten on one side of the road where it was less verdant, the princes deduced that the camel was blind to the other side. Because there were lumps of chewed grass on the road the size of a camel’s tooth, presumably they had fallen through the gap left by a missing tooth. The tracks showed the prints of only three feet, the fourth being dragged, indicating that the animal was lame. That butter was carried on one side of the camel and honey on the other was clear because ants had been attracted to melted butter on one side of the road and flies to spilled honey on the other.

The deduction regarding the pregnant rider is more complicated than the rest and is somewhat lewd, so I shall let the princes tell it themselves: “I guessed that the camel must have carried a woman,” said the second brother, “because I had noticed that near the tracks where the animal had knelt down the imprint of a foot was visible. Because some urine was near by, I wet my fingers (in it) and as a reaction to its odour I felt a sort of carnal concupiscence, which convinced me that the imprint was of a woman’s foot.”

“I guessed that the same woman must have been pregnant,” said the third, “because I had noticed nearby handprints which were indicative that the woman, being pregnant, had helped herself up with her hands while urinating.”

It is clear from the princes’ reply that they had brilliantly interpreted the scant evidence observed along the road.

There are so many stories which had been added over time to the original. But the meaning of the English word must be clear by now.

If you are interested in the complete story you click here “Three princes of Serendip”