In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – VIII. Learning from Shiva, The Guru of Ganesha

Rudra-Manthan Series

(Continued from Part-VII)

-Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Amongst the Hindu trinities – Vishnu, Brahma, and Mahesh, celebrations of Shiva related festivals are the most common, all over India, north, south, east, and west. Shiva’s forms (11 rudras) and family (Sati, Parvati, Durga with 9 forms, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ashok Sundari, Jyoti, Mansa), even without counting Shiva-gaṇas, make him by far the most visible deity on earth.

Mahashivaratri is a festival of the spring season throughout India, and is celebrated with great fanfare from Kanyakurmari to Kashmir, and from Kalikat to Kacchh! In addition to Mahashivaratri, Aani Uthiram, Uma Maheshwar Vrata, Karthik Purṇima, Bhairava Ashṭami, and Arudra Darshanam, are other major festivals in India which honor Bhagvan Shiva. Bhagvan Shiv also takes charge of the world after Devasayani Ekādashi when Lord Vishnu goes into Yoganidrā.

The Shiva form of Rudra is more worldly, unlike the Vishnu of the Causal world, or the Brahma of the Subtle or Astral world. Shiva is married to Parvati, the daughter of Parvatraj, and has three children, Ganesha, Kartikeya, and Ashok Sundari, with all the family drama that humans also go through. Therefore, Shiva is an appropriate role model for men today, for which detailed analysis is needed for suitable and useful lessons.

For a modern context of Shiva and the family drama for the modern world, I remember an episode of Jai Ganesh TV serial that was broadcast in 1999. In this episode, Kartikeya had returned from south India for a visit to Mt. Kailash, and the young Ganesha was excited to see his sibling for the first time. He could only think of playing with Kartikeya, like hide and seek game. In the game, Kartikeya was asked to hide first, but Ganesha located him easily, for one thing, Kartikeya was too big to hide, and the other, not living in Mt. Kailash for a long time he hardly knew any secret places to hide. So, he got spotted easily. When it came for Ganesha to hide, Kartikeya couldn’t find him, despite his enormous efforts, and decided to return home to be with his father, Bhagvan Shiva.

Once with Shiva, Kartikeya got totally engrossed in the discussion about the worldly responsibilities he had taken to protect good from the evil. Ganesha ultimately realized that Kartikeya was not there looking to spot him in his hiding, and reluctantly decided to come out, and eventually headed back for home. Entering home he sees his father, Shiva, totally engrossed in his discussion with Kartikeya, so much so that he did not even pay attention to Ganesha’s entry. Ganesha was then doubly disappointed. Ganesha could not restrain himself from blurting out – ‘Father, it seems brother Kartikeya is most dear to you!’

An ordinary father will perhaps resort to something like, no, son, that is not true; he has just come for a few days to visit, so we are spending time together to catch up; or, son Ganesha, you are equally dear to me, come over and sit with me. Bhagvan Shiva said nothing of that sort, and began to state the following, in a matter of factly way.

“Son, for a father, that son is dear who follows father’s ideals!” This one statement is so impressively meaningful, that I give five stars to the dialogue writer. This reflects the foundation of India’s traditions or Paramparā, in which parents’ conduct is not based on personal attachments, or social obligations to even relatives or even progenies. Social niceties are good to use, but ultimately to state only dhārmic principles that need to be ultimately practiced.

Home is the most important place to begin learning, and the parents are the most crucial teachers in the formative years of the children. And, that is critical in early childhood to shape the values and infuse sanskāras in a child. While, a mother is naturally in a position to play a critical role in child’s education and upbringing giving sanskāras in line with the nature of child, a father plays much better role than any ācharya or teacher.

In fact, in India there is a saying or subhāshita for a long time, which is as follows:

उपाध्यात् दश आचार्य:

आचार्याणां शतं पिता ।

सहस्रं तु पितॄन् माता

गौरवेण अतिरिच्यते ।।

Which means that an ācharya (a mentor who teaches with full knowledge to his/her own conduct) is 10 times more important than a teacher who teaches through reading of books, and a father (just a father with no degree or diploma, whose conduct a child gets to observe closely) is 100 times more important than an ācharya, and a mother (whose concerns, care, and conduct is all visible and innately felt by a child) is 1,000 fold more valuable than a father. In other words, a mother is a million times more valuable for a child’s education than a teacher of history, philosophy, or mathematics. Combining the importance of the mother and father, that is parents, it could be theoretically 1 billion times more valuable than a school teacher in the education of a child.

While the mother’s importance is well placed, a father also provides the critical transition in the education of a child from home to the world. Traditionally, mother provides lessons and training according to the natural inclination of the child, father orients, guides, and polishes out the ignorance of a child regarding the world he/she is ready to embark upon through ācharyas.

Thus, an important role that parents are supposed to play must be to a standard of someone like Father Shiva, not that of a political ruling master. Parents need to familiarize themselves about the changing world, prejudices, including those with religious connotations, and about current and modern circumstances of richness in information and communication to forge alliances for the future of the children and thereby the society.

Guru Shiva can be a model for fathers of the world, who discharges his educational duties beautifully and most attentively, and we have a major lesson to learn from it. As a father, he does not mollycoddle his children, nor should any one of us. The story of Shiva replacing the ignorant head of teenager Ganesha with that of a wise elephant is a symbolic act a father is supposed discharge before the child goes out in the world or to an Ācharya for further knowledge.

Om Namah Guru Shivay!

(To be continued…..)

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durga as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles will explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

योग एवं आयुर्वेद आधारित प्राकृतिक विश्व-व्यवस्था

-Sh. Alok Kumar Dwivedi & Prof. Bal Ram Singh

तोड़ दो यह क्षितिज मैं भी देख लूं उस ओर क्या है!

जा रहे जिस पंथ से युग कल्प उसका छोर क्या है?

सिन्धु की नि:सीमता पर लघु लहर का लास कैसा?

दीप लघु शिर पर धरे आलोक का आकाश कैसा!

महादेवी वर्मा की इस कविता में मानवीय चिन्तन एवं उसकी अभिलाषा की असीम कल्पना का चित्रण है। मानवीय प्रवृत्ति सदा से ही सामाजिक एवं वैश्विक परिदृश्य को नवीन मानदण्डों के अनुरूप व्याख्यायित करने की रही है। इसी भाव ने समय-समय पर विश्व-व्यवस्था (WORLD ORDER) की संकल्पना प्रस्तुत की है। पाश्चात्य देशों में विश्व व्यवस्था की बात वुड्रो विल्सन, जॉर्ज डब्ल्यू एच बुश, विंस्टन चर्चिल, हार्वर्ड के सैमुअल हसिंगटन,  एमआईटी के नोवाम चाश्की,  हेनरी किसिंजर इत्यादि ने प्रमुखता से सामने रखी। इनकी एक प्रमुख विशेषता रही है कि यह सभी सामाजिक, राजनीतिक, आर्थिक एवं धार्मिक टकराव के आधार पर विश्व-व्यवस्था की व्याख्या प्रस्तुत करते हैं।

भारतीय सन्दर्भ में विश्व-व्यवस्था की बात प्राचीन ग्रन्थों में प्राप्त होती है। वेदों में विश्व का संचालन ऋत् द्वारा होने की बात कही गई है जिसके संरक्षक वरुण देव हैं। ऋत् जगत की नैतिक व्यवस्था का आधार था। इसके पश्चात् सामाजिक व्यवस्था को धर्म आधारित माना गया जो कि समाज के प्रत्येक व्यक्तियों के कर्तव्य एवं उनके सदाचरण पर आधारित थी। वर्तमान में जब सम्पूर्ण विश्व भीषण महामारी एवं सशस्त्र टकराव के दौर से गुज़र रहा है तो आवश्यक है कि इस आपदा से बचाव एवं आगे आने वाली पीढ़ी के सुसंस्कृत जीवन शैली का चिन्तन करते हुए व्यक्ति एवं समाज के स्वभाव के अनुरूप प्राकृतिक व्यवस्था एक दीर्घकाल से अपेक्षित है।

यह प्राकृतिक व्यवस्था योग एवं आयुर्वेद आधारित व्यवस्था ही हो सकती है जो मानव एवं समाज के स्वभाव के अनुरूप उसके स्वस्थ जीवन को निर्धारित करती है।

इस व्यवस्था में कहीं भी टकराव तथा विषमता नहीं है बल्कि एक दूसरे को जोड़कर सामञ्जस्यपूर्वक आगे बढ़ना है। इस व्यवस्था में न तो दम्भ पूर्वक श्रेष्ठता का भाव है न हीं किसी को लघु समझकर छोड़ देने की प्रवृत्ति। इस अवस्था में सभी व्यक्तियों एवं समाजों को अपनी प्रकृति जानकर उसके अनुरूप जीवन के सभी क्षेत्रों जैसे स्वास्थ, राजनीति, आर्थिक क्षेत्र, शिक्षा, संस्कृति इत्यादि का विकास करने का भरपूर अवसर प्राप्त होता है। इस व्यवस्था को समझने से पूर्व योग एवं आयुर्वेद को समझना आवश्यक है।

’योग’ शब्द संस्कृत के युजिर् योगे, न युज समाधौ धातु से बना है जिसका अर्थ जोड़ना, समाधि व समाधान है। इस प्रकार योग का भाव समग्र साहचर्य का है जहां किसी प्रकार का अंतर्विरोध नहीं है बल्कि सहज स्वीकार्यता है। व्यक्ति से व्यक्ति को जोड़ना, व्यक्ति से समाज, एक समाज से दूसरा समाज, समाज से सम्पूर्ण राष्ट्र को जोड़ना, राष्ट्र से अन्य राष्ट्र को जोड़ना तथा विश्व को समग्र प्रकृति से जोड़कर सम्पूर्ण ब्रह्माण्ड में एकत्व भाव स्थापित करना योग की जीवन दृष्टि है। योग की विशिष्टता यह है कि यह सिर्फ भाषाई विश्लेषण अथवा व्याख्यान आधारित न होकर व्यवहारिक है। इसके अन्तर्गत शारीरिक एवं मानसिक स्तर की विभिन्न क्रियाएं सम्पादित होती रहती हैं जो व्यक्ति को व्यवहारिक जीवन की वास्तविकता का ज्ञान कराते हुए उसका आध्यात्मीकरण कर देती हैं और व्यक्ति खुद में ही देवत्व का जागरण कर लेता है। योग में सम्पूर्ण सृष्टि की समग्रता की व्यवहारिकता इस बात से भी परिलक्षित होती है कि विकास-क्रम में मानव जिन-जिन अवस्थाओं से होकर गुजरा है उन सभी के शारीरिक अवस्था के अनुरूप योग के विभिन्न आसन प्रतिपादित किए गए हैं। जैसे- मोर के अनुरूप मयूरासन, सर्प के अनुरूप भुजंगासन, मछली के अनुरूप मत्स्यासन इत्यादि। इससे स्पष्ट होता है कि यदि योग की जीवन-पद्धति को अंगीकार करें तो सम्पूर्ण सृष्टि के किसी भी जीव एवं प्रकृति में कोई विरोधाभास नहीं रह जाएगा अपितु सामञ्जस्य एवं सम्पोषणीयता वास्तविक धरातल पर होगी।

’आयुर्वेद’ शब्द आयुष + वेद शब्दों के संधि से बना है। आयुष का अर्थ है- जीवन तथा वेद का अर्थ है-  विज्ञान। इस प्रकार आयुर्वेद का अर्थ हुआ ’जीवन का विज्ञान’। साधारण अर्थ में जीवन को ठीक अर्थ में जीने का विज्ञान आयुर्वेद है। सीमित अर्थ में आयुर्वेद को चिकित्सा-पद्धति से सम्बद्ध किया जाता है क्योंकि यह स्वास्थ्य रक्षा और रोग निवारण दोनों के लिए एक व्यवस्थित एवं क्रमबद्ध ज्ञान प्रस्तुत करता है। वस्तुतः आयुर्वेद मनुष्य ही नहीं बल्कि प्राणी मात्र के कल्याण के लिए उनके शारीरिक मानसिक एवं आध्यात्मिक सभी पक्षों पर प्रभाव डालता है। महर्षि चरक चरक-संहिता में आयुर्वेद को परिभाषित करते हुए कहते हैं, ’जिसमें हित आयु, अहित आयु, सुख आयु एवं दुख आयु का वर्णन हो, उस आयु के लिए हितकर व अहितकर द्रव्य, गुण, कर्म का भी वर्णन हो एवं आयु का मान व उसके लक्षणों का वर्णन हो, उसे आयुर्वेद कहते हैं’। आयुर्वेद का मान्य सिद्धान्त है कि यह मनुष्य की प्रकृति के आधार पर समस्या का समाधान प्रस्तुत करता है। वर्तमान में योग वैश्विक स्तर पर काफी लोकप्रिय हो रहा है। भारत के प्रयासों के फलस्वरूप संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ द्वारा 21 जून को ’अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय योग दिवस’ के रूप में स्वीकार किया जाना इसकी महत्ता को प्रदर्शित करता है। विश्व के अधिकांश देशों ने निर्विवाद रूप में इसको स्वीकार किया है। अब जब सम्पूर्ण विश्व उपरोक्त जीवन-शैली को अपनाना चाह रहा है तो यह आवश्यक है कि विश्व के समक्ष योग एवं आयुर्वेद की सम्मिलित एवं समग्र वैज्ञानिक दृष्टि प्रस्तुत की जाए।

A cycle of the expression of universe through the eyes of Yoga and Ayurveda that helps create a world order encompassing natural cycles and human activities. Much of these activities are perceived and are driven by mind, which when is calmed by practicing yoga allows the realization of the oneness of the Universe. [Taken from Singh, B. R., 2022, Beginning of a New World Order with Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda Journal of Health, Vol 20, issue 1, 23-30]

यही व्यवस्था प्राकृतिक व्यवस्था है जो कि एकत्व का भाव प्रकट करती है। इसी का ज्ञान मनुष्य को दुख, सुख इत्यादि व्याधियों से मुक्त कर देता है। भारतीय परम्परा में वेदों में यही उद्घोष प्राप्त होता है जिसका क्रम निम्न हो सकता है-

एकम वा इदम विवभूव सर्वम।

(सबकुछ एक से ही अनेक रूप में परिणत हो गया है। जो भी भेदयुक्त दिखाई पड़ रहा है वह वस्तुत: एक से ही उत्पन्न हुआ है।)

एकं सद् विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति।

(जो परम सत् अद्वैत भाव लिए हुए है, उसे विद्वान लोगों ने भिन्न-भिन्न रूपों में उद्भाषित किया है।)

तत्र को मोह:  क: शोक: एकत्वमनुपश्यत्।

(जो इस एकत्व को समझ लेता है, जान लेता है, उसे न तो मोह होता है तथा न ही शोक।) यही मानव जीवन का लक्ष्य है।

इस सन्दर्भ में भगवद्गीता कहती है ,’योग एक तकनीक है जिसके अभ्यास के द्वारा स्वास्थ्य संवर्धन किया जा सकता है एवं दुखों को समाप्त किया जा सकता है’। अतः आइए इस अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय योग दिवस के अवसर पर योग एवं आयुर्वेद के सम्मिलित दर्शन को जीवन का अंग बनाएं एवं एक स्वचालित प्राकृतिक विश्व व्यवस्था के सहभागी बने।

Sh. Alok Kumar DwivediSenior Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Allahabad and Prof. Bal Ram SinghDirector, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Pañcāṅga – The Mirror of the Sky

Sh. Sameer Barve

The term Pañcāṅga is made up of two words- Pañc means five and aṅga means aspects. Hence, Pañcāṅga refers to the book containing details of five aspects that keep track of time. These five aspects are tithī, vāra, nakṣatra, yoga and karaṇa. In India, the Pañcāṅga is mainly used for religious purposes. However, not many of us know that the Pañcāṅga is actually ‘a mirror of the sky’ since it has detailed information of almost everything that takes place in the sky every day. I shall briefly discuss the five aspects first and then move on to main topic of this article – Sāyaṇa and Nirayaṇa Pañcāṅga.

Since ancient times, our ancestors used sky observation as a tool to keep track of time. The usual trend was to begin working with sunrise and finish by sunset. As a result, they began observing the sky after sunset and gradually learned to record the movements of the stellar objects. The easiest object for this purpose was obviously the Moon since the change in its phases was clearly visible to the naked eyes. By clearly observing the change in phases of the Moon, our ancestors deduced that the Moon takes about 30 days to return to the same phase by going through the full cycle of crescent, gibbous, full in waxing fortnight and through gibbous, crescent and new in waning fortnight. During waxing fortnight, the Moon is available in the sky immediately after the sunset and during the waning fortnight, it was not. Hence, the former was called Śukla Pakṣa (the white fortnight) – when we get white light from the Moon immediately after the sunset – while the latter was called Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa (the dark fortnight) – when there was no moon immediately after the sunset.

Let us now discuss the five aspects of the Pañcāṅga.

The first is Tithī or the phase of the Moon. Since the Moon took about 30 days to return to the same phase, each of these phases was called the Tithī. The Śukla Pakṣa began with pratipadā (the first crescent after the new Moon) and ended with Purṇimā (the full Moon). The Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa began after the Full Moon and ended on the Amāvāsyā (the new Moon) completing full month. There were two more types considered for counting month – the Purṇimānt (month ending with full moon) and the Amānta (month ending with new moon) systems. The former system begins (and ends!) after the full Moon while the latter does the same with the new Moon. Over a period of time, it was possible to observe that the Sun moves about 1° per day while the Moon moves 13° per day. Hence, the tithī was considered to get over when the angular separation between the Sun and the Moon was 12°. Moreover, the tithī for any day was taken at the tithī at the time of sunrise – even if it gets changed soon after the sunrise.

The second aspect is Vāra or the day. The duration of the full day was taken as the duration from one sunrise to the next one. Careful observation of the sky revealed the fact that excluding the Sun and the Moon, there were five bright objects in the sky that change their positions regularly. Here, regular means at regular intervals at which change of position in the sky becomes noticeable. Apart from the Sun and the Moon, five other objects were found to be moving against background of fixed nakṣatras. Together with the Sun and the Moon, each planet was considered as the Lord of the successive hours on each day by arranging them in descending order of time period of revolution. On Sunday, the Sun will be the lord of 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd hours. Venus and Mercury will be the lords for 23rd and 24th hours respectively. The Moon will be the lord of the 1st hour of the next day and hence, that day will be called Monday. Following same logic, we get the sequence of all 7 days of the week. These were called graha and they were considered for naming days along with the Sun and the Moon.

The third aspect is Nakṣatra. By definition, it means ‘na kṣarati iti nakṣatra’. The path of the Moon in the sky over a period of one full month (which also happens to be annual path of the Sun) was divided into 27 equal parts. This number 27 comes from the fact that the Moon takes about 27 days to complete one revolution around the Earth. Hence, the Moon remains in one nakṣatra per day on an average. This logic helps us in nomenclature of the lunar months. Out of 27, only 12 nakṣatras are selected for the nomenclature of the lunar months depending on the position of the full Moon in the vicinity of that particular nakṣatra (Synodic lunar month (either amānta or purṇimānt) has about 29.5 days making 12 such complete lunar months possible in a year. This means number of days in a lunar year will be about 354 that will fall short of solar year by about 11 days every year. Having an additional month (intercalary month or adhik māsa) after about every 3 years covers this gap and ensures that festivals won’t get deviated too much. Hence, having 12 nakṣatras corresponding to the full Moon out of 27 possible ones is a logical choice. Having 13 nakṣatras won’t be useful since it will lead to difficulties in synchronizing lunar months with solar year). So, if the full Moon occurs near Citrā, the corresponding lunar month is Caitra. If it happens near Aśvinī, the lunar month would be Aśvin and so on. Most of the nakṣatras have a specific bright star in their vicinity that is known as yogatārā (the identifying star) for that particular nakṣatra.

The fourth aspect is Yoga. One yoga is complete when the total angular distance covered by the Sun and the Moon is 13°20’ or 800’. This angular separation is equivalent to the span of a nakṣatra. Hence, yogas are also 27 in number and mainly used for religious purposes, such as Gṛha-parvesh, muhurta for marriage, joining new job etc.

The fifth aspect is Karaṇa. It is defined as the half of a tithi. As a result, each tithi consists of two karaṇas. These are also used mainly for religious purposes.

(Date Pañcāṅga published from Solapur, Maharashtra in Marathi)

In the above image, the top of the page shows Śālivāhan Śaka number (शालिवाहन शके १९४४), name of the saṃvatsar (शुभकृतनामसंवत्सर), current ayana (उत्तरायण) and ṛtu as per lunar calendar (वसंतऋतु), the present lunar month (वैशाख) and the fortnight (शुक्लपक्ष). Note that the actual solar ṛtu is Grīṣma. It also mentions Gregorian (मे 2022), Islamic (हिजरी १४४३) and Vikram Saṃvat (संवत् २०७८). Few column headers are highlighted that are explained below: -

The first column (highlighted in red) shows the tithi no. (ति = तिथि) and the day (वा = वार). The second column (highlighted in green) shows the time (क. मि. = कलाक मिनिटे means hours and minutes) when tithi ends. These are shown with respect to the local sunrise and any number more than 24 in hours column indicates that the time is past midnight. For example, २७ | २६ (27 | 26) means 03:26 AM local time in early morning. In some cases, tithi begins before sunrise and ends after the next sunrise. In such cases, the word अहोरात्र is shown. Such instances are known as वृद्धितिथि (additional tithi).

The third column (highlighted in blue) shows the nakṣatra (न = नक्षत्र) and the time (क. मि.) when that nakṣatra ends. Similar to tithi, nakṣatras too can continue for two sunrises as अहोरात्र.

The next column (highlighted in orange) shows similar details for yoga.

The fifth (highlighted in violet) (दिवा करण) and the sixth (highlighted in yellow) (रात्रौ करण) shows the similar details for karaṇa. Since karaṇa is equivalent to half tithi, the fifth column shows the end time for karaṇa during the day and the sixth one shows the same during night.

The next column (highlighted in light green) (दि = दिनमान) shows the duration of the day. It is followed by the local sunrise (र उ = रवि उदय) and sunset (र अ = रवि अस्त) times in the following columns (highlighted in dark pink). The duration between sunrise and sunset is the duration of the day.

The next column (highlighted in pink) (चंद्र राशीप्रवेश) shows the time when the Moon changes its zodiac sign. The last column (highlighted in light brown) (इं = इंग्रजी दिनांक) shows dates as per Gregorian calendar. Apart from this, there is a description column located at the extreme right that shows important events for that particular day. At the top of this column, duration of night (रात्रिमान) is shown along with the Ayanāṃśa (अयनांश). Ayanāṃśa is the angular separation along the ecliptic between vernal equinox. The zodiacs defined in most of the Nirayaṇa Pañcāṅga consider this point as the beginning of Aries and Aświni nakṣatra. For this reason, it is sometimes called मेषादि or अश्विन्यादी.

The Ayanāṃśa can also be defined as the angular separation between autumnal equinox and the star Spica. At present, it is 24°09’55” indicating that vernal equinox has shifted (due to precession of equinoxes) to the west of First point of Aries by this amount. This value keeps changing by about 50.2” every year due to the precession of equinoxes.

The table on the bottom left shows the end times for every quarter of nakṣatra when the Moon changes its position from one quarter to the other. However, this is shown as per IST (Indian Standard Time) (भारतीय प्रमाणवेळ)

Moreover, there are few interesting methods of preparation of PañcāṅgaSāyaṇa and Nirayaṇa. The former method considers the precession of equinoxes and considers vernal equinox as the ‘First point of Aries’. This method ensures that the calculations are in synchronization with the cycle of seasons. But it is not useful for observing the night sky. The latter uses a different ‘First point of Aries’ – (either the star Zeta Piscium or the point diametrically opposite to the star Spica) and it’s independent of precession. This method is not in synchronization with the seasons cycle but useful for sky observation. We shall discuss them in details in the next article.

(to be continued….)

Mr. Sameer Barve, Insurance Professional, Mumbai

Making of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas, as a Way to Become Nanihal of the Humanity

Ayodhya Nanihal Series. II

Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Continuing with the idea of the origin of the humanity from India, and Ayodhya being the nanihal of the virtually entire humanity (Singh, 2021), we examine here the origin, development, and establishment of the Indian Subcontinent.

One of the major features of the latest tectonic shifting relates to the movement of a huge land mass from the current African continent to the Asian continent. That land mass slammed into the Asian subcontinent about 10 million years ago, and resulted in the formation of the Himalaya, which continues to rise to date about a centimeter or so. The Geological Society of United Kingdom has provided a statement on the formation of the Indian subcontinent that provides a unique situation of the only subcontinent in existence in the planet Earth today.

225 million years ago (Ma) India was a large island situated off the Australian coast and separated from Asia by the Tethys Ocean. The supercontinent Pangea began to break up 200 Ma and India started a northward drift towards Asia. 80 Ma India was 6,400 km south of the Asian continent but moving towards it at a rate of between 9 and 16 cm per year. At this time Tethys Ocean floor would have been subducting northwards beneath Asia and the plate margin would have been a Convergent oceanic-continental one just like the Andes today.

It should be noted that not all of the Tethys Ocean floor was completely subducted; most of the thick sediments on the Indian margin of the ocean were scraped off and accreted onto the Eurasian continent in what is known as an accretionary wedge. These scraped-off sediments are what now form the Himalayan mountain range. From about 50-40 Ma the rate of northward drift of the Indian continental plate slowed to around 4-6 cm per year. This slowdown is interpreted to mark the beginning of the collision between the Eurasian and Indian continental plates, the closing of the former Tethys Ocean, and the initiation of Himalayan uplift.

The Eurasian plate was partly crumpled and buckled up above the Indian plate but due to their low density/high buoyancy neither continental plate could be subducted. This caused the continental crust to thicken due to folding and faulting by compressional forces pushing up the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. The continental crust here is twice the average thickness at around 75 km. The thickening of the continental crust marked the end of volcanic activity in the region as any magma moving upwards would solidify before it could reach the surface.

The Himalayas are still rising by more than 1 cm per year as India continues to move northwards into Asia, which explains the occurrence of shallow focus earthquakes in the region today. However, the forces of weathering and erosion are lowering the Himalayas at about the same rate. The Himalayas and Tibetan plateau trend east-west and extend for 2,900 km, reaching the maximum elevation of 8,848 metres (Mount Everest – the highest point on Earth).

Thus, the whole landmass of India shifted from Africa, became an island for very-very long time, before becoming the part Asia continent. If there were animals, if there were organisms, they also lived and died on that island, from modern scientific point of view.

They were perhaps not human, as humans are believed to be in existence only for about 2 million years. However, from Indian cosmology, human existence is placed much earlier 1.7 billion years ago so. Well, in that case, there may have been human or some form of human some predecessors of human may have been on that piece of land mass that is Indian subcontinent today which ranges from Afghanistan to Malaysia. However, if one deduces the daiva varsha to be laukik varsha, as argued in Singh (2008), where 1 daiva varaha = 360 laukik varasha, the human appearance on earth is placed about 336,000 years. This time frame is at least consistent with the out of Africa and into India migration of humans, 60,000 years ago, based on population genetics (Singh, 2022). So, that subcontinent landmass moved for nearly 60 million years, which means for 67 million years, it continued to move, and about 10 million years ago it slammed in Asian subcontinent.

Interestingly, the origin of human civilization from India is not limited to only Hindu cosmology. Even Islamic cosmology considers Adam as the first prophet of Islam, but more importantly Prophet Adam was actually sent to India when he descended from the paradise. According to Professor Akhlaque Ahan of JNU, apparently Adam was guided to descend to India, as India was similar to the paradise itself. According to a link of the South Metro Islamic Center in Rosemount, MN, USA provided by Professor Ahan, Prophet Adam is the first prophet of Islam. Since the Adam and Eve story comes from the Old Testament, one would take that be the story for the Abrahamic traditions.

[Allah] said, "Descend, being to one another enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time." He said, "Therein you will live, and therein you will die, and from it you will be brought forth."(Surah Al-Arraf 7:24 – 25) 

When downgraded to Earth, Adam and Eve were then separated in two different places. Ibn-e-Abi Hatim recorded Ibn-e-Abbas saying that Allah sent Adam to earth to an area called “Dahna”, between Makkah and At-Taif. Al-Hasan-Al-Basri said that Adam was sent down to India, while Eve was sent to Jeddah. They both searched for each other. It took them 40 days to see them on a hill in the Arabian Peninsula called Jabal Rahmah of Arafat (situated in Saudi Arabia near the city of Makkah). Adam and Eve eventually gathered and reunited like in heaven. Allah then made Adam the first prophet on earth.

(Source of Image: Map: File:World map blank shorelines.svg (the shoreline map is {{PD-USGov-USGS}}, derived from a mercator svg map posted in 2005, extracted from an original file released by pubs.usgs.gov))

Peopling of the world (recent out of Africa and Upper Paleolithic). Figures are in thousands of years ago (kya). Time is color coded in a scheme of increasing “frequency”, red at 100 kya to violet at 0 kya. Dotted blueish lines are meant to indicate approximate glaciation during the LGM. Features shown: 200 kya East Africa [“200” symbolic of early H. sapiens (est. age of mt-haplogroup L ranges around 180 kya, early divergence in Africa as early as 300 kya but cut-off for “anatomically modern” vs. “archaic” is somewhat arbitrary in this case) 130-100 kya expansion within Africa and to the Levant 70 kya “recent Out of Africa” and coastal migrations 65 kya peopling of Oceania 60 kya “Indian” and “Indochina” (Laos) population centers 50 kya “Near Eastern” population center (Emiran) 40 kya “East Asian” population center 40 kya peopling of Europe (Aurignacian 42 kya) 40 kya approximate peopling of Tasmania (add more detail on dispersal in Australia and to Papua?) 35 kya peopling of the Mammoth steppe (Mal’ta–Buret’ culture 24kya) 35 kya Expansion from East Asian population center (Korea 35 kya, Japan possibly 35 kya / certainly by 14 kya, Taiwan between 30 and 20 kya, Cambodia by 20kya [Sơn Vi culture] — but possibly earlier “Austronesian” presence 70 kya?) 25 kya Beringia during the LGM 16-14 kya peopling of the Americas just after the LGM (Clovis) 12 peopling of northern Eurasia after the LGM 12 peopling of the Green Sahara [Mali] 4 Paleo-Eskimo expansion to the Arctic (AST = Arctic small tool tradition) 3-1 Austronesian expansion 1 Norse expansion to Iceland.

The map only shows the major movements associated with the first lasting “peopling” of the world’s regions: early movements which did not result in lasting populations (such as the early Out of Africa movements before 70 kya) are not shown late movements into already populated regions (such as Epipaleolithic and Neolithic migrations associated with Indo-European, Bantu, etc.) are not shown; the Austronesian (Pacific) expansion is shown even though it is much later than such Neolithic movements because it led to the “first peopling” of the Pacific islands.

Made for, and based on the information in: “Southern Dispersal” and “peopling of Eurasia” population centers: Metspalu, M.; Kivisild, T.; Metspalu, E.; Parik, J.; Hudjashov, G.; Kaldma, K.; Serk, P.; Karmin, M. et al. (2004). “Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in south and southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans”. BMC Genetics 5: 26. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-26. PMC 516768. PMID 15339343.

Thus, the concept of Manu, Adimanu (Adam), and the current Vaivaswat Manu (7th of the 14 Manvantaras) as pointed out in an article (Singh, 2021) seems to be verified from other world traditions as well. There are several aspects of this uniqueness of the Indian Subcontinent prior, during, and its post-formation. What further implications does this unique geological formation may have for India and its inhabitants in shaping the current culture of the world for a sustainable, harmonious, and progressive living, needs to be thoroughly examined, and assertively pursued. After all, people in the entire humanity are descendants, literally and culturally, from India, being from the  Dravida culture through Ayodhya.

References

Singh, B. R. (2008), Science & Spirituality, Samvad, New Delhi, 2008.

Singh, B. R. (2022) Land of Ayurveda, India, That Was, That Is, and That Could Be… Ayurveda Journal of Health, Spring 2022 VOL. XX, ISSUE 2, 33-40

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Darshan Shastras for Śāśvat Śānti and Samatvam

Sh. Charan JS Manektala

Ṛṣis in Iśāvāsya Upaniṣad, Verse 2, remind us of our impermanence, affirm us of our endowed age of hundred years, and encourage us to regulate our life per the universal governing principles and forces.

How one may have an opportunity to live for hundred years, and regulate one’s life per the universal governing principles?

Darshan Shastras holds the key to such treasurers! There are six Darshan Shastras or systematic Indian philosophies in our treasure, which are Āstik, as all of these seek Pramāṇ or proof referencing Vedas to validate the knowledge. These six schools are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva-Mimansa and Uttar-Mimansa or Vedanta. Shrutis, which are our Vedic scriptures, are the perceptions of our Ṛṣis, whereas Smritis, which includes Darshan Shastras, are the inferences of our ancestors.

Once Vedic insights of knowledge and ignorance, Vidyā and Avidyā, Samsara or Māyā was revealed to us, Darshan Shastras had then provided a framework to differentiate between Vidyā and Avidyā, to identify delusions within self or others, to detail the steps (Vidhi), when performing Vedic rituals, correctly.  All six schools expounded epistemology or in other words explained systematically on how to differentiate between justified belief from opinion. The schools provided mechanism with which we acquire knowledge, for example Pratyakśa (perception), Anumana (Inference), Upamana (Analogy) etc.

At this point, let us pivot from the abstract notation of philosophy to the applicability of it in our daily lives. Though all Darshan Shastras provide guidance for our day to day lives, we shall first review the School of Yoga, which all of us are most familiar with, and shall review other Darshan Shastras in subsequent articles.

Guiding verses of School of Yoga are known as Patanjali Sutras. Ignorance or Avidyā was  recognized as the cause of suffering, and Patanjali provided us method, highlighted by these verses, to address suffering. As is true for other Schools, the seed verses may have been identified from the Shrutis, and were detailed further, to make us comprehend the process steps. We do find similar guidance in the Svetasvatara Upaniṣad, and time frames of expressed guidance has always generated passionate debates among historians and philosophers. 

The four Pādas or chapters of Patanjali Sutras are Samādhi Pāda (51 verses), Sādhana Pāda (55 Verses), Vibhuti Pāda (56 Verses) and Kaivalya Pāda (34 Verses). The Pādas illustrate the stages that a Yogi may transition through, when adhering to prescribed steps, which begins with the transcendence, steps to the practice, leads to the perception of glory and finally settles into segregation. Of notable importance is the Sādhana Pāda of the Patanjali Sutras, which emphasizes the moral code and daily conduct for the Yogi. Here is an example from Patanjali Sutra (2.30-32)

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः

जातिदेशकालसमयानवच्छिन्नाः सार्वभौमा महाव्रतम् ॥

शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः ॥

Adhere to Non-violence, speak truth, do not steal, develop dispassion, do not associate with objects! Adhere to these restraints, irrespective of your status, location, time, or condition, these are the universal moral restraints, or Māhāvrata! Follow a routine of purity (within, bodily, and around you), develop contentment, follow austerity, conduct introspection, while concentrating on the impermanent!

As indicated earlier, Patanjali sutras may have originated from select root verses of Svetasvatara Upaniṣad. For example, Svetasvatara Upaniṣad 2.10, recommends meditation, on an even floor, which is pure, has no pebbles, is not exposed to fire and dust, is quieter and not in a damp surrounding, promotes concentration of mind, is not irritating to eyes, like cave dwellings, which also avoids turbulent winds. Such physical layout features are sought to dullen the intrinsic attributes of senses or Indriya.

समे शुचौ शर्करावह्निवालुकाविवर्जिते शब्दजलाश्रयादिभि:।

मनोऽनुकूले न तु चक्षुपीडने गुहानिवाताश्रयणे प्रयोजयेत्॥

When we are born, all of us are equipped with the needed physical mechanisms, mental faculties, and modes of interconnected consciousness, to experience the fullness of life. It is our intervention, intrinsic or extrinsic, which demodulates the life spans or the fullness of life experience. Ṛṣis, with the help of verses quoted above, are providing us a path to modulation, and thus reviving, if dampened presently, or continuing, if flourishing presently, and thus to experience the fullness of life.

The Yogasth state, as illustrated by Patanjali, develops a discriminating mind, which may then overcome fear of any uncertainties, may address any foreseeable challenges of the old age and may avoid unnatural death (which certainly is not in accordance with the guidance of Iśāvāsya Upaniṣad. 

(Source of Image : https://vediccosmos.com/)

Mindful meditation or Samādhi (stillness of mind), as practiced by the Ṛṣis, when sitting in a meditative stance, not only develops a discriminative mind, but may also bring awareness to a Yogi of various attributes of consciousness endowed to him or her, namely, mental vigor, vision, steadfastness, opinion, wisdom, uninterrupted flow, or motion, memory, and mental resolve. A Yogi can then consciously begin to manage the other attributes of consciousness, such as physical exertion, energy, desire, and later is then able to exert control and will.

In the following articles, we shall review different Pādas of Patanjali Sutras, and establish Ṛṣi Patanjali school of Yoga’s mandated daily routine, needed moral conduct, its precepts and revelations.

Sh. Charan JS Manektala, Former Dean of Deans, Technology Institutes

                                                                      

Fruits of Feminine Fasting

-Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Fasting has been a part of culture throughout the world, as has been the feasting. Most of the fasting has had some ritualistic flavor and are done as part of some religious practices. Jewish people fast on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av day among others, Christians fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, the day of holy communion, Lent fasting days, nativity fasting days, and many others depending on the denomination, Islamic people observe fast during Ramadan, and other days like Ashura and Arafah, and although Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains do not have very prescribed fasting days, they have restrictions on food and behavior on certain days and times, many of them self-imposed.

The king of the fasting in variety and numbers, however, has been the Hindu tradition, with fasting during Navarātras, Ekādaśīs, Saturdays (for Hanuman ji), Sundays (for Surya devatā), Fridays (Santoshi mātāt), Mondays (for Shiva), Tuesdays (Hanuman ji), etc., in addition to Ram Navami, Krishn Janmāshtami, the entire adhimās every three years, Purinmās, Anant Chaturdasi, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. The most unique feature of Hindu tradition has the fasting by women for men in their lives, particularly husband and sons. Even before marriage, many fast on Mondays, the day assigned to Shiva to get good life partner, after marriage they observe Teej and Karwā Chauth, for the long life and health of their husbands, and also observe Chhat vrat, and perhaps a few other days for the welfare of their son, while there is no fasting or vrat by men for their wife or mother.

In modern times of equality, women empowerment, and movement for equal rights, it is normal and rational to question such gender differential observance of fasting, especially when many times these observances are enforced by traditional families and the society. With more and more women getting educated in modern world that has men and women working side by side, getting financial freedom, and enjoy equal privileges and say in developing social norms, these gender-differentiated practices seem archaic and out of date. Exposure to and influence of the Westernized lifestyle, which while had many discriminatory practices historically against women, does not have such male welfare female fasting practices, makes them more questionable.

Fasting itself is being celebrated from the point of view of spiritual enlightenment (which has its own value for the health of self and harmony with nature), and from the scientific perspective. Modern medicine dubs some of these fasting practices as intermittent fasting, and points out to several benefits as listed on, for example, the website of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Many things happen during intermittent fasting that can protect organs against chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, even inflammatory bowel disease and many cancers,” is quoted from an article of Mark Mattson in the New England Journal of Medicine. Other intermittent fasting benefits research has revealed so far the following:

Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.

Heart health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.

Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.

Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.

Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.

In the world of scientific advancement in human biology, the intermittent fasting has been investigated with standard protocols, which in many cases is similar to general practices observed in most cultures. According to Healthline, an online health magazine, there are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting periods, one eats either very little or nothing at all. These are the most popular methods:

The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting one’s daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.

Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.

The 5:2 diet: With this method, one consumes only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.

The Healthline magazine further points out that several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, the body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. The cells also initiate important repair processes and change the expression of genes. Here are some changes that occur in the body when you fast:

Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.

Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.

Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.

Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.

Among other things, it has been experimentally established that the autophagy is heavily involved in mediating the benefits of the fasting.

The word ‘autophagy’ originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning “self”, and phagein, meaning “to eat”Thus, autophagy denotes “self eating”. This concept emerged during the 1960’s, when researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in membranes, forming sack-like vesicles that were transported to a recycling compartment, called the lysosome, for degradation. Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990’s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker’s yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in our cells.

This year’s [2016] Nobel Laureate [Yoshinori Ohsumi] discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.

Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation [aka fasting] or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease.

How does this autophagy explain fasting by women for men? That was a question recently asked by one of my female graduate students, now Dr. Ghuncha Ambrin. Her question was why are women expected to observe occasions like Teej and Karwa Chauth, and not the men? My standard line of argument that women live on average 5-7 years longer than men, and thus they keep the fasting vrata for men’s long life may make psychological sense of some sorts, not the scientific one.

I therefore asked for time to conduct research on this topic, as an assignment from a student. I like to do this regularly to provide a sense of equality if nothing else for the students. Generally, I ask them to do research on certain topics to answer questions, but I was happy to reverse the role, as I believe when it comes to learning, we all are students. What I found is what I present below by directly outlining the findings of researchers on this topic.

Sex Differences in Constitutive Autophagy by Oliván, S., Calvo, A. C., Manzano, R.,  Zaragoza, P. and Osta, R. (2014). BioMed Research International Volume 2014, Article ID 652817, 5 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/652817

Autophagy is a dynamic system for degrading misfolded and/or damaged proteins and, therefore, for maintaining the cellular homeostasis. During this process, small portions of cytoplasm are sequestered by a double membrane bound vesicles called autophagosomes and consequently degraded when they fuse with lysosomes to form an autolysosome. Cellular autophagic activity is usually low under normal physiological conditions (constitutive autophagy) but can be markedly upregulated by numerous stimuli (starvation, hypoxia, or infections) or suppressed as documented in the case of neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Specifically in neural cells, the role of constitutive autophagy has been studied and the results indicate that it is essential to prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases [

Sex-dependent differences in the activation of the autophagic cytoprotection pathway have long been reported in vitro. During starvation, cultured male neurons readily undergo autophagy and die, whereas neurons from females mobilize fatty acids, accumulate triglycerides, form lipid droplets, and survive longer.

The sex differences in autophagy under normal physiological conditions in spinal cord and muscle tissue from wild type mice have been clearly observed at the RNA and protein level expression of the microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) and p62/sequestosome 1 (p62). These proteins are the most commonly used markers to monitor autophagy. LC3 is associated with completed autophagosome, while p62 becomes incorporated into the completed autophagosome through its direct binding to LC3 and is subsequently degraded in the autolysosomes.

Figure 1: LC3 and p62 mRNA expression in the spinal cord and the skeletal muscle. (a) The transcript levels in the spinal cord of males (black bars) and females (grey bars) from mice at P60 (postnatal day 60), P90, and P120 are shown. Relative expression values are females compared with males (set at 1) at each age. (b)The transcript levels in skeletal muscles of male (black bars) and female (grey bars) mice at P40, P60, P90, and P120 are shown as in (a). Each data point represents the mean ± SEM of twelve mice. Asterisks denote a student 𝑡-test 𝑝 value <0.05 (∗), <0.01 (∗∗),
and <0.001 (∗∗∗).

Nearly two- or more fold differences between male and female mice were monitored in proteins that facilitate autophagy, suggesting the basal autophagy less than half of in females than in males.

Many diseases have been associated with alterations in autophagy and consequently some gender-associated differences have already been demonstrated. For instance, in neurodegenerative disorders, estrogen was neuroprotective and enhanced neurotrophic/synaptic plasticity. In vascular biology, compelling data indicated that sex differences were not only determined by sex steroid levels but may also be modified by innate cellular differences between males and females.

Regarding autophagy, only few studies allow for the possible influence of sex-dependence in this molecular process. One of the studies proposed the autophagy as a survival mechanism in males, whereas in female’s autophagy resulted. in detachment-derived cell death. In accordance with these studies, it has been reported recently that sex differences in constitutive autophagy was found in rats and, moreover, this sexual dimorphism was organ specific. Furthermore, in vitro studies also showed a sexual dimorphism in autophagic processes in cancer and in neurons under starvation.

As it is experimentally established now that autophagy which is helpful for the health is only about half as active in females as in males, and fasting enhances the autophagy, it makes sense for women to observe the fasting for health, if not for their husband or sons.

To be continued…

Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies and Botulinum Research Center, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA

The Concept of Karma and Contemporary Reflections (Part-I)

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D.

Introduction

Ancient Indian philosophy expresses life in a varied form that includes life before human beings came into existence on earth. Nāsdiya Sukta explained the universe’s origin –

नासदासीन्नोसदासीत्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नो व्योमापरो यत् ।

किमावरीवः कुहकस्यशर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद्गहनं गभीरं ॥

(RigVeda 10/129/1)  

There was no existence or non-existence. There was no space or sky. Even ‘nothingness’ did not exist, and there was no air. The questions of what moved or stirred the universe then and under whose protection remained unanswered? Was there an immeasurable amount of water? No one knows. Since those days, the origin of human beings and the concept of Karma has been a long journey. Whys and hows are challenging to understand. The formulation of the universe paves the way to think of bondage and liberation through understanding Puruṣa and Prakṛti. Triguṇa theory started impacting life ever since and played a crucial role all along. The first identity of any life was Puruṣa and Prakṛti; Puruṣa was the creative consciousness and Prakṛti was the unaltered nature form of pure energy. Every aspect of life on earth has the inherent qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas as part of Prakṛti. These qualities exist in all living and non-living beings and impact all the humans and others around them.

Karma in Ancient Indian Knowledge System

Hinduism defines Karma as the actions of a person of his past and present life that impact his future life. It is the causality and its effects on one’s personal life. The intentions of all humans also lead to the impact on individual lives. Every good thought, word and action may lead to virtuous or harmful effects. Shiva Purāṇa 1.18 explains Karma as the body’s set of activities that continue in a series of birth and rebirth. The human body has been defined as gross (sthūla), subtle (sukṣma) and causal (kāraṇa). The gross body carries out the activities, the subtle body gives the pleasures and the pains through sensory organs and the causal body experiences the results of the actions through the soul or Jiva. Karma forms the core of the human life cycle that includes pre-birth and post-death eras. Karma or actions are directly related to happiness or otherwise with human beings. The oriental philosophy is adaptive and mindful and cruises with the cycle of life until the soul is enlightened and is free from the bondage of life and death. Achievement of mokṣa becomes humanity’s focal goal, which paves the way to salvation.

Rig Veda deliberates on Rta that gives rise to the concept of Dharma and Karma. Rta exhibits an order in the universe and is identified with Dharma. Rta comes from the root verb ‘Ru’, which means ‘to move’ and ‘through movement’. It refers to what is right and wrong and is synchronous to Dharma. An Rta or Non-Rta is an antonym to Rta or Dharma and may be called ‘Adharma’. While Dharma defines the righteous way of life in responsibilities and privileges, Karma focuses on actions and their impact on an individual. An individual’s life has a complex set of activities that include both good and bad experiences, and it is for the individual to decide which ones to follow. All these actions depend on what (S)he thinks and how one reacts. 

Karma has been reflected by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the battlefield of Mahābhārat and said-

न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् |

 कार्यते ह्यवश: कर्म सर्व: प्रकृतिजैर्गुणै: ||

(Bhagvadgita 3/5)

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that no one can remain without working, even momentarily. All living beings are duty-bound to work or act as per their traits or nature. Work does not include only the professional jobs; it has daily routine jobs like sleeping, waking up, brushing teeth, combing hair, eating, walking etc. Lord Krishna reflects that even the thoughts, words and actions are part of Karma. The decision not to do anything is also a thoughtful act. Every individual has to pay for their good and evil thoughts and consequent actions. No one can remain inactive at any point in time. One of the most inactive states considered is typically sleeping and in that physically inactive state; his mind is dreaming and body organs like the heart and respiratory system are functional. 

Contemporary Reflections

Georgetown University Berkely Centre for Religion defines Karma as a concept of Hinduism based on causality and its effect. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction and ‘As you sow, so you reap’ are known to us from the western concept that affirms the Theory of Karma. They argue the same thought that one receives whatever one does and hence there is no action or behaviour of an individual that goes unnoticed. Nature responds in a direct or an indirect form. The human species have the cognition and consciousness to differentiate between good and evil.

Those are the actions easier said than done. Does one continue to worry about the outcome of every effort, or is there a way to free oneself and enjoy the present life? Human life is the only one with higher intellect and better brain. So, the choice is for each individual in Kaliyuga to take a recourse to purify the soul or continue enjoying every possible worldly pleasure. The deeper one goes in introspecting the meaning of life and death and the role of an individual in this life, the realisation that one can care more, share and love in abundance to draw happiness. Selfish and thinking about personal goals does not lead one to succeed every time. In contemporary businesses, interpersonal relations and success are directly connected with team building, teamwork, and leadership. A combined effort by the team brings satisfaction and abundant happiness.

Conclusion

Individual thoughts on life, death, duties and responsibility of human beings must realise that one has to live life in the given environment and interact with people, situations and resources. Life becomes worth living if there is harmony around and this is feasible when one can balance out professional work and personal life. Ensuring good actions and deeds in favour of self and others around makes Triguṇa impactful and enables a Win-Win situation. So, whether one believes in Karma or not, all of us are doing Karma, i.e., all thoughts and actions, to ensure a peaceful life. This thought itself is an assurance that one is on the right path to salvation. Ill-thoughts, if any, will only disbalance self-growth, which is detrimental to happiness and seeking blissful life.

Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Ex Indian Army Officer

In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – VII. Making and Becoming of Shiva, the all Benevolent Deity for the Welfare of All!

Rudra-Manthan Series

(Continued from Part-VI)

-Prof. Bal Ram Singh

In Ṛgveda, there is no mention of Shiva, the popular all benevolent deva of Hindu trinity of the Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. However, Shiva is mentioned in post-Vedic literature, and links it to the Rudra mentioned in the Vedic literature. There are three types of world – causal, subtle, and the gross or physical world. The causal world presided over by Shri Vishnu along with his consort Śrī Lakshmi, the subtle or astral world is presided over by Parampitā Brahma along with is consort Devī Saraswati, and the physical world is presided over by Bhagwan Shiva and his consort Bhagwati Pārvati. These three worlds have related yet different features. The causal world is the source of all the things that emanate, and its presiding authority Shri Vishnu and Śrī Lakshmi work very closely from their abode, Vishnuloka, and are often seen sitting together.

Vishnu represents the preserving power of the universe, and is seen in visible form along with Śrī Lakshmi seated on the coils of Sheshnag (Shesh = remaining, Nag = energy) who represents the unexpressed energy. There are various stories of Vishnu and Lakshmi and Vishnuloka in Vedic and post-Vedic texts, but one thing is clear that they do not have any offspring unless they incarnate on Earth, like Ramavatār, Krishnavatār etc. Thus, they both serve as role models for men and women only in their human incarnations. People in general pray and stride to reach Vaikuntha Dhām, or the causal world, to escape from the cycle of Srishti in which birth and death is integrated.

Similarly, Parampitā Brahma and Devī Saraswati reside in Brahmaloka, which is the seat of creative energy. They both are generally seen sitting some space apart but are connected to each other with the knowledge of man (mind) and buddhi (wisdom). Brahma is known as Prajāpati or who is the lord of Prajā (creative people). In other words, Brahma and Saraswati are the origin or parents of creative faculty, and have only manas putra/putri, and thus can be the ideals or providers of knowledge. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Brahma had 14 mind-born progenies;  Angiras (sage), Atri, Pulastya, Marichi, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhrigu, Vashistha, Daksha, Narada, Chitragupta, The Four Kumaras (Sanak, Sanatana, Sanandana, and Sanat), Kardama Muni, Himalaya and Shatarupa. As can be seen from these personalities, once learn from them but those are not role models to draw upon for human life on Earth. He is also referred to as Vishwakarma (crafter of the world), Indra (the lord of heaven), etc., none of whom are earthly beings to be used as role models for men.

Finally, Shiva, as one of the eleven rudras mentioned in Vishnu Purana and Bhagavat Purana, whose abode is the Shivaloka, which we all are part of. Shiva on Earth is believed to reside at Kailash mountains in Himalayas. Interestingly, the symbol of Om always associated with Shiva is formed naturally with the deposition of snow on the granite mountain, and is believed as the embodiment of his presence. While some may think this Om formation to be mere coincidences, the miraculous impression of Om has an immense symbolic value. First of all, it makes it truly earthly that we all can associate with, and also it has the fundamental expressive value.

Linguistically, Om or more appropriately Aum is expressive meaning of Shiva. It starts with the ‘a’ sound as the open vowel with only aspiration of air, passes through the closed vowel ‘u’, still using the air but changing the shape of mouth in the middle, and finally the last letter ‘m’ of the last of the five classes (guttural, palatal, cerebral, dental, and labial) of the consonants of the Devanagarī aksharmālā (alphabets) arranged in two dimensions. The Sanskrit varnamālā or aksharmālā is the most systematic writing and speaking system in the world, although it has not been given that status by international linguists, and Indian linguists have not taken the trouble to examine all the alphabets currently and previously available in the world to create a sophisticated analysis. The aksharmālā is the most scientific in its meaning, use, and biological effects. The akshar itself means that something that cannot be destroyed, which is coincidentally means the same as the term atom. In fact, the aksharmālā has been actually used to develop Periodic Table of chemicals by Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who was inspired by a Sanskritist friend (Ghosh and Kiparsky, The Grammar of the Elements, Did the Sanskrit alphabet influence Mendeleev’s periodic table? American Scientist, Volume 107, Number 6, Page 350, November-December, 2019). Thus, the system of expressing Om, its link to Shiva, the lord of the physical world, is so real that it helps define the matter, the basis of the physical world itself.

The Aum thus represents the sutra or formula with capacity to express the entire visible world (i.e., the expressed physical world). Therefore, this linguistic expression is also consistent with Shiva being the lord of the physically expressed world.

Om symbol is used with many chants and rituals of worship, but is most commonly is associated with Shiva, like in Om Namah Shivay!

Other traditions like Christianity and Islam also have words similar to Aum, which are used in a similar invocative way. Christians use ‘Amen’ and Muslims use ‘Ameen’ at the end of their respective prayers, just like Hindus or people from Dhārmic traditions use.

The Shiva form of Rudra is more worldly, unlike the Vishnu of the Causal world, or the Brahma of the Subtle or Astral world. Shiva is married to the Parvati, the daughter of Parvatrāj, and has two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, with all the family drama that humans also go through. Therefore, Shiva is an appropriate role model for men today, for which detailed analysis is needed for suitable and useful lessons.

(To be continued…..)

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durga as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles will explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Understanding Bhagavadgītā by Visualization as a Symbolic 5 Face 10 Hands “Literary_Idol”

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare

‘Bhagavadgītā’ represents one of the ‘theoretical conclusions’ texts of topics dealt in Mahābhārata. It is a miniature ‘Encyclopedia’ of Vedopanishadic yogic techniques to establish a bonding relationship between the God_Supreme and the yoga_performer. Pauranetihasic literature is full descriptions of Vedic Gods in numerous symbolic (सान्केतिक_स्वरूप) representations e.g. Narasimha with lion’s head, Ganesha with elephant’s head, Brahmadeva with four heads etc.

In the Laxmi_Narayana conversation in Padma_Purana (chapter 171, stanza’s 27 & 28) the world-famous literary text ‘Bhagavadgītā’ is visualized as a human like idol with 5 heads, 10 hands and 2 legs as follows.

5_Face_10_Hands  Bhagavadgītā

The first five chapters represent five heads (Theoretical Laws, Theorems, Hypothesis). The next 10 chapters (i.e. Ch.6 to ch.15) represent 10_hands (Practically Implementable Physical, Mental, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual Activities). The next 16th chapter represents the stomach (Digestive discrimination involving desirable’s absorption and undesirable’s excretion). The last two chapters represent strong two legs (Supporting Pillars). Understanding this representation leads to improved understanding of this great literary spiritual guide.

वक्त्र १ : First Head : विषाद योग :

Theoretical ‘Hypothesis’ here is that, A vast majority of human population relies on pleasing & praying God to receive his divine & mysterious help while facing desperately helpless, hopeless situations.

वक्त्र २ : Second Head : सांख्य योग :

The theoretical ‘Hypothesis’ : ‘Nothing can be created out of ‘Nothing’. Consequently, nothing can be destroyed, but only transformed from it’s present form into another state or form. The egg_hen, seed_tree type dilemma’s clearly suggest the presence of a supernaturally intelligent power, called ‘God_Supreme’, mysteriously starting these cyclic self-supporting regenerating events.

वक्त्र ३ : Third Head : कर्म योग :

The theoretical ‘Hypothesis’ is ‘Everything’ in this manifested world, (from fundamental particles like photons and electrons to huge galaxies), is engaged in continuous natural activity, determined by it’s ‘Nature’ (प्र_कृति). Therefore, for anybody, it is impossible to remain in totally ‘Inactive_State’. The only choice is to perform all one’s responsibilities in tune with nature.

वक्त्र ४ : Fourth Head : ज्ञान कर्म संन्यास योग :

The theoretical ‘Hypothesis’ is, before undertaking the responsibility of carrying out any major activity, one must study & understand the ‘what, when, which_one, how, why etc.’ about that activity from most appropriate & reliable resources. Only morally good and legal activities should be carried out.  Avoid spiritually immoral, unhealthy and administratively illegal activities.

वक्त्र ५ : Fifth Head : कर्म संन्यास योग :

Theoretical ‘Hypothesis’ is that every activity carried out (consciously or unconsciously), invariably leads to certain results (or fruits). Activities carried out with selfishly ‘motivated expectations’ certainly lead to acquisition of sins (पापसंचय), bondage (कर्मबन्धन) and habit forming attachments (सन्ग) etc., leading to moral and spiritual degradation.

भुजा १ : First Hand : आत्म संयम योग :

Recommended Activity number_1 is ‘Self_Control’ : world famous ‘Rājayoga’ : Patanjali Sutra based ‘Ashtānga_Yoga’.

भुजा  २ : Second Hand : ज्ञान_विज्ञान योग :

Next recommended Yoga activity, involves intellectual understanding of 8 constituents of Mother Nature (अष्टधा प्रकृति = पञ्च महाभूत + मन+बुद्धि+अहंकार) in the ‘manifested Universe’ as well as, self-personality (and every living species / human body) and then behave appropriately.

भुजा ३ : Third Hand : अक्षर_ब्रह्म योग :

Yoga activity belonging to this practice is intellectual understanding and appreciation of the present status (तात्कालिक_क्षर_स्वरूप), as well as, the theoretically ultimate (मूलाधार_अक्षर_स्वरूप) nature of Brahma (and Mother Nature). ‘Energy’ (which can neither be created nor be destroyed) as understood by modern science is an example of Vedic concept of ‘अक्षर_ब्रह्म’.

भुजा ४ : Fourth Hand : राजविद्या राजगुह्य योग :

This Yoga activity, involves intellectual understanding and appreciation of; a) the infinite expanse of the physical 3D_space being fully occupied by the ‘un_manifested’ (निर्गुण = without detectable characteristics) form of the divine supreme god, b) Supreme god’s presence in additional ‘N’ dimensional forms, not covered by this physical 3D_space (अत्यतिष्ठत्_दशान्गुलम्). Ignorant atheist’s deny to accept this divine omnipresence. Knowledgeable scholars (sages, saints etc.) understand and spend maximum time periods, in saluting, appreciating, worshiping and praising this omni space, omni time divine presence, and thereby live in an emotional mental state linked with God & free of sorrow, tensions & grievances.

भुजा ५ : Fifth Hand : विभूति योग :

This yoga activity recommends a) youngsters and b) Those (fans) who have tendencies to choose & follow their own hero (/ heroin), to choose divine ‘Role_Models’.

भुजा ६ : Sixth Hand : विश्वरूप दर्शन योग :

This yoga activity involves practicing the theoretical Knowledge ‘न_अन्यत्_अस्ति’ ‘Nothing else exists’ i.e. consciously willfully practicing the awareness that everything sensed by sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) is nothing else but a temporarily present, transient detectable (स_गुण, व्यक्त ) manifested form of the ultimate (सगुण + निर्गुण = व्यक्त + अव्यक्त = क्षर + अक्षर) ‘God_Supreme God’.

विश्वरूप_दर्शन

 भुजा ७ : Seventh Hand : भक्ति योग :

‘Devotional bonding’ advocated by this yoga activity, i.e., ‘Emotional Activity’, to get (and remain) emotionally linked with the divine presence (of performer’s own choice and format) for a 24 x 7 period, throughout devotee’s lifespan.

भुजा ८ : Eighth Hand : क्षेत्र_क्षेत्रज्ञ विभाग योग : 

This yoga activity needs combination of intellectual, emotional and spiritual activities. Study of self-personality to understood it’s nature as a combination of  a) क्षेत्र – gross physical body (e.g. head, hands, legs, etc.), and subtle physical body (e.g. sensory system, digestive system, etc.), along with still subtler mind, intellect, emotional system etc. and b) the spirit or Atmā (क्षेत्रज्ञ), and behave consciously appropriately.

भुजा ९ : Ninth Hand : गुण_त्रय विभाग योग : 

This yoga activity involves intellectual discrimination with mental resolve and will power. The human natural tendencies can be broadly divided in three categories. 1) Saintly, spiritually creditable, linking with God, 2) Worldly (partially saintly and partially demonic), spiritually mediocre, 3) Demonic, cruel, lazy, selfish, spiritually low, distancing with God. Choose saintly behavior patterns.

भुजा १० : Tenth Hand : पुरुषोत्तम योग :

This yoga activity, involves intelligence and memory to discriminate between a) the ‘xara Purusha’ – physical body, as well as, mental, intellectual and emotional (पञ्च कोषात्मक) personalities changing with schooling, aging etc. b) The ‘a_xara_Purusha’ (पञ्चम_कोषस्थित अन्तरात्मा  Consciousness) which  remains unchanged with aging and c) ‘Uttama_Purusha’, (परमात्मा) who pervades in one’s body and activates all those body-systems which are not in one’s willful control (e.g. Digestion, blood circulation, etc.). Then keep on thanking and feeling obliged to this ‘Purushottam’ for his divine untiring help.

उदर १ : Stomach : दैवासुर_संपत् विभाग योग :

Digestion and acquisition of ‘good moral characteristics’ (दैवी सम्पत्ति = Divine Property) is ‘spiritual_prosperity’, leading to peace, happiness and progress towards spiritual salvation (दैवी_सम्पत् विमोक्षाय). Acquiring (आसुरी सम्पत्ति =) Demonic characteristics (= काम, क्रोध, मद, मत्सर, दम्भ, दर्प, लोभ, मोह, ईर्षा, दुरहन्कार, दुराभिमान, दुराशा, आशा etc.) leads to increased sorrow, grief, bondage etc.

पद १ : First Leg : श्रद्धा_त्रय विभाग योग : 

Strong legs provide support necessary for stably standing, walking or running. Acquiring divine faith (सात्विक श्रद्धा, अफलाकान्क्षि यज्ञादिक कर्मे, देवता-पूजन, सुखद_रसाळ_स्निग्ध आहार) provides first strong leg. Humane Faith- (राजसिक श्रद्धा :  यक्ष_राक्षस पूजन, कटु_आम्ल, लवण, अति_ऊष्ण रुक्ष, विदाहिन  आहार) & Demonic  Faith –  (तामसिक श्रद्धा : भूत_प्रेत_पिशाच्च पूजनम्, उच्छिष्ट_यातयाम_गतरस आहार) generate weaknesses in spiritual leg muscles.

पद २ : Second Leg : मोक्ष_संन्यास योग :

Acquiring spiritually worthy (सात्विक) knowledge, mental resolve, Happiness etc. provides second strong leg to walk and reach spiritual_status nearer (closer) to God, called as ‘Salvation’ (मोक्ष).

Understanding ‘Bhagavadgītā’ in this fashion and appropriate implementation, helps spiritual progress towards salvation (मोक्ष).

Dr. Dhananjay B. Ghare, Former Scientist, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru

In Search of Vedic Role Models for Modern Male Population – VI. Rudra is the Purusha that is the Primordial Power of the Cosmos

Rudra-Manthan Series

(Continued from Part-V)

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

‘Rudra’ word may be derived from Tamil Uru to mean roar or rud to mean cry or howl, thus Rudra is basically is someone who roars or howls. In other words, Rudra is like the Big Bang that is supposed to be the origin of the universe. One of the Rudra is named Shambhu, in several pauraṇic texts, which may have originated from swayam (self) + bhu (become), meaning being born by self, again indicating the origin of all. Shambhu is also stated to originate from Sham to mean tranquility and Bhu meaning as the source. In summary, the first form of Rudra as Shambhu appears to a roaring source of the origin of balanced and tranquil universe. The universe is divided into causal, subtle, and physical world, and it is believed that Vishnu, the lord causal world, and Brahma, the lord of the creative subtle world, are created by Rudra, the primordial power, who also transforms himself into Shiva, the lord of the physical world.

10.24.1 of Yajurveda says “पुरुषो वै रुद्रः” which means Lord Shiva is the Purusha of the Veda.

Taittiriya Aranyaka refers Rudra being Purusha as it states (10.12) that Rudra is the one who is the first among devas and who saw Hiranyagarbha being born:

यो देवानां प्रथमं पुरस्ताद्विश्वाधिको रुद्रो महर्षिः ।
हिरण्यगर्भं पश्यत जायमान स नो देवः शुभयास्मृत्या संयुनक्तु ॥१२॥

He who is the first among the devas, that Rudra who is the great seer who is higher than the Universe (Vishwādhik), he is the one who saw Hiranyagarbha being born.

Further, Krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.24.1, 10.25.1) clearly states ‘Purusho vai Rudrah,’ meaning ‘Rudra is the Purusha.’ It also provides elaborate explanation why Rudra is Purusha as:

सर्वो वै रुद्रस्तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्तु । पुरुषो वै रुद्रः
सन्महो नमो नमः। विश्वं भूतं भुवनं चित्रं बहुधा जातं जायमानं चयत्।

सर्वो ह्येष रुद्रस्तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्तु॥ कद्रुद्राय प्रचेतसे मीढुष्टमाय तव्यसे। वोचेम शंतम हृदे।

सर्वोह्येष रुद्रस्तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्तु॥

All this verily is Rudra. To Rudra who is such we offer our salutation. We salute again and again that Being, Rudra, who is Purusha. The material universe the created beings and whatever there is manifoldly and profusely created in the past and in the present in the form of the world, all that is indeed this Rudra. Salutations be to Rudra who is such. We sing a hymn that confers on us happiness in the highest degree to Rudra who is worthy of praise, who is endowed with the highest knowledge, who rains objects to the worshippers most excellently, who is more powerful and who is dwelling in the heart. Indeed all this is Rudra. Salutations be to Rudra who is such.

Svetasvatara Upanishad (4.12) also states Lord Rudra is the one who gave birth to Hiranyagarbha in the beginning:

यो देवानां प्रभवश्चोद्भवश्च विश्वाधिपो रुद्रो महर्षिः ।
हिरण्यगर्भं जनयामास पूर्वं स नो बुद्ध्या शुभया संयुनक्तु ॥

He, the creator of the gods and the bestower of their powers, the Support of the universe, Rudra the omniscient, who at the beginning gave birth to Hiranyagarbha may he endow us with clear intellect.

From these above references, it is clear that the entire cosmos has originated from the primordial Rudra, the Shambhu, in the form of the Purusha, for whom perhaps the International Men’s Day (Purush Divas) is being celebrated. This aspect of Purusha places men to be the source of creation (Brahma), support for sustenance (Vishnu), and service by management (Shiva) of the universe, and thus at the highest pinnacle, which obviously deserves recognition, realization, and respect. However, the question is whether this level of analysis, understanding, and practice is what the International Men’s Day is meant to be.

According to the statement of the Founder of the International Men’s Day, International Men’s Day on the 19 November was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh a history lecturer at University of the West Indies in Trinidad Tabago. Interestingly calls for an International Men’s Day (IMD) have been going on since at least the 1960’s when it was reported in the New York Times, Feb 24 1969 that “Many men have been agitating privately to make February 23 International Men’s Day, the equivalent of March 8, which is International Women’s day“  This Day for women was first inaugurated in 1909.

Obviously, men’s cause is still struggling, as even otherwise generous United Nations, which has declared 189 of 365 days of the year for one cause or another, including 7 different days in various months for various wonderful causes to which women contribute and care, has not found as yet time or need to recognize a day that is exclusively for men.

Perhaps it is because of the lack of understanding regarding the nature and the natural role men are meant to play in the society. Purusha Suktas of Vedic literature, linking the primordial Rudra to Purusha, may be a good beginning to explore this very important issue of the society, which is otherwise marred with the discussion related to superficial equality, without delving into the deeper discussion of the basis of such equality in detail.

Interestingly, the IMD initiative was taken by a man, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, from Trinidad and Tobago, who is of Indian origin, and it is further promoted by people from India. To find out more on this, all one has to do is to visit the IMD website learn the history and background, or watch their promotional video.  

“It should be noted that International Men’s Day as a global celebration owes a huge debt to Indian Men’s Advocate and mother of two Uma Challa. Almost single handedly Uma Challa pioneered the celebration of International Men’s Day in India in 2007 not knowing where the date had actually came from but believing in the celebration as a way to expose the shocking abuse that men suffer in the anti male legal system. Uma Challa is the founder of a number of organizations including the famed “Save the Indian Family Foundation” nonprofit based in Bangalore. Arguably Uma Challa was also one of the early instigators for an International Boys Day.

The Indian celebration of IMD is by far the single biggest celebration by any country in the global village. It was Uma Challa who inspired Warwick Marsh the founder of Dads4Kids to take International Men’s Day to the world stage and synchronize the celebrations in the disparate men’s movement around the world.

Australia is another country which saw overwhelming support for the celebrating International Men’s Day. “The Australian men and fathers advocates are the same group who established the current International Men’s Day website. The Australian IMD organizers brought several other countries into line with the small group of countries that had newly come to celebrate on the November date which was inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999. In 2008  Dads4kids pioneered an historic celebration at the NSW state parliament and did the same in 2013 in federal parliament in Canberra Australia’s Capital.”

Men are referred to as Purusha in Indian languages, and philosophically puruśārtha is the ultimate goal of everyone’s (men and women) life. Conceivably, that has played a role in this movement, and hopefully, further understanding of Rudra as Purusha will bring out a truer meaning to the International Men’s Day!

Happy International Men’s Day!!

(to be continued….)

Editorial note – As a complementary to the Indian tradition of Nava-Durgā as the ideal role model of girls and women, it is high time that boys also get to be reminded of their potential and possibilities with role models similar to Nava-Durgā. Recently, the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA, in collaboration with Kuruom Jankalyan Sansthan in village Kuruom near Ayodhya decided to make a debut program of Ramkathā as the platform to discuss, during April 22 – May 2, 2021, the features and traits of eleven Rudras as Rudra-Manthan for guiding boys in the world to grow and realize their full potential. Rudra-Manthan series of articles continue to explore that possibility to promote a better understanding of the needs and to provide educational support to boys and men.

– Prof. Bal Ram SinghSchool of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA