Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part-II)

Continued from Part-I

-Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Festivals based on the concept of Yajñā during Aświn and Kārtik :

Sh. Anand Gaikwad along with his wife performing Yajñā

Durgā Pūjā/ Navrātrī: During Durgā Pūjā, Mā Durgā i.e. Ādi Śakti is worshipped. Mā Durgā is worshipped in different forms starting with Śailputrī Devī on first day. The second day is Brahmachāriṇī Pūjā and subsequently Chandraghaṇṭā is worshipped for peace, tranquility and prosperity, Kuśmānḍā for cosmic energy, Skandamātā as a relationship between mother and son. She is also called as Padmāsīnī since she is seated on lotus flower. On day six she is worshipped as Kātyāyīnī, on seventh day as Kalvatri or Mā Kāli and on eighth day as Māhā Gourī the eighth form of Māhā Durgā.Durgā Saptaśati Japas and Havans are performed for “Nav Cadī”, “Śat CadiYajña. Durgā Pūjā is not considered complete without the performance of Havans. In these havans samidhās of Yajña-Vṛkśās are used and different types of havan samugrī are also used which is prepared from aromatic and medicinal herbs.

Daśherā: This day is celebrated as Vijayā Daśamī i.e. success of good over evil. It is considered as a very auspicious day as per Hindu calendar therefore new possessions are acquired. Some Naimittika Yajñas are performed for material well being, health, wealth, peace and prosperity. In agriculture sector, sugar factories worship and start boilers on this day for subsequent starting of new crushing season. This practice is prevalent in Maharashtra, which produces about 35% to 40% of the total sugar produced in the country.

Dīpāvalī:  Festival of lights celebrated by Indians all over the world. The first day of Dīpāvalī is called Vasubaras when, “Savatsā Dhenu“ i.e. lactating cow with young calf  or  entire cow family is worshipped. During ancient times the wealth and prosperity were measured in terms of or judged on the basis of number of cows one possessed. Therefore, ‘Godhan’ was first worshipped before worshipping any other type of ‘Dhan’. For establishing divine relationship and complete integrity with our Homa Farm and Family, we have started performing Havans on Rigveda 10.169, Atharvaveda 4.21 & 3.14 as a part of cow pūjā on Vasubaras day at our farm. Although no specific types of Yajñas are performed during Dīpāvalī days, the houses and surrounding premises are decorated with flowers, mango/ banana leaves, electrical lamps and oil/ ghee lamps are lit to celebrate it as a festival of lights. On Lakṣmī Pūjā Day and Kārtik Pratipadā, flowers, sweets and preparations made from new harvests, dryfruits etc. are offered to the deities as a part of pūjā.

Sh. Anand Gaikwad while worshiping cow

Sankrama Kāl Festivals: This is a transition period when the Sun starts entering Uttarāyaa and Sankrama. Festivals based on the concept of Yajña are celebrated throughout the country under different names.

Māgh Bihu and Meji Fires: Māgh bihu is celebrated in Assam during January to mark the end of harvesting season. It is a thanks-giving celebration to the nature’s bounty as the granaries are full after harvesting the first new crops of the year. On or before the day of Sankrāntī Bellaghars and Mejis are prepared by menfolk with Bamboo sticks and other wood / grass material. Beautiful make-shift cottages in the form of Bellaghars are prepared.People stay overnight in these Bellaghars, enjoys feasts and next day the Bellaghars are lit. The ashes are spread in the fields, rivers and trees for improving soil health and bringing luck for better harvesting next season. On the day of Sankrāntī people gather together in their fields at very early hours and do Meji fires. Meji fire is a ritual in which Agni is worshipped. All the offerings are placed in front of Meji and one of the elders of the community does the honour of lighting up the Meji. A thick cloud of smoke covers the area and the crackling sound of burning bamboos is heard. While the sacred Meji fires burn, people greet each other and enjoy the feasts. Womenfolk distribute the offerings placed before Meji fires as Prasādam.

Lohri: Every year on the previous day of Makar Sankrāntī in Punjab, Haryana and north-western region, the harvesting festival celebrated is known as “Lohri”. This commemorates the passing off of winter solistice and Lohri represents the largest night before the end of winter solistice followed by the shortest day of the year in Māgh as per Hindu calendar. Although Punjab is known for production of wheat, this festival is related to the sugarcane harvesting after the crop reaches the maturity. Sugarcane products such as jaggery and gachak are essential for Lohri along with groundnuts which are also harvested in the season. Traditionally people eat chikki, gajak, sarso dā sāg, makkai de roti, raddish, groundnuts and jaggery during the festival. Lohri celebrates fertility and joy of life. Harvested fields and farmyards are the central attraction. The farmyards are lit up with lights and bonfires. Folk dances are a part of the festival such as men perform Bhāngara whereas women perform graceful Giddā dance. People circle around the bonfires and offer sugarcane, puffed rice, popcorn etc. while performing folk dances with songs and prayers to Agni. The prayers to Agni Devatā are for his blessings for prosperity and fertility of land. The fire signifies the spark of life and prayers are said for goodwill and abundant crops. They also shout, “Ādar Āye Dilather Jāye” i.e.” Let the wealth, prosperity, honour come and poverty vanish.”

Pongal: Pongal is celebrated as a harvesting festival with glory in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka and by Tamilians. This harvesting festival is dedicated to Sun God. In Tamilnadu it is a four-day festival called “Thai Pongal” usually celebrated every year from 14th to 17th January. It corresponds with Makar Sankrāntī which is celebrated throughout India. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation and gratitude to Sun God for bountiful crops and their successful harvesting. Part of the celebration is boiling of the first rice of the season as an offering to Sun God i.e. “Sūrya Mangalam”. The four day Pongal celebrations are Bhogi, Thai, Maatu and Kannuml. On “Bhogi” day, people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look and the farmers keep medicinal herbs, neem leaves etc in the north-east corner of each field to prevent crops from diseases and pests.

The main event, “Thai Pongal” takes place on the second day of four day celebrations. On this day, milk is cooked in a vessel and when it starts bubbling and overflowing, freshly harvested rice is added and cooked, as an offering to Sun God. The day marks the start of Uttarāyaṇa i.e. when the Sun enters the 10th house of Indian Zodiac viz. Makar or Capricorn. “Maatu Pongal” is celebrated to recognize and appreciate the cattle for providing dairy products to human beings and fertilizers, labour and transportation for agricultural operations. Cows, buffaloes, oxen are bathed, decorated and fed with mixture of Pongal, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. “Kannum Pongal”, the fourth day of the festival marks the end of Pongal. The word ‘Kannum’ in this context means ‘visit’. Many families hold reunions. Villagers visit relatives and friends while in the cities people gather on beaches, theme parks and gardens. The exchange of greetings and gifts take place and the joyful atmosphere prevails in all households.

Makar Sankrāntī: The sun’s entry  in Makar Rāshi and starting of Uttarāyaa is celebrated as Makar Sankrāntī or “Sankrama Parva” in Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, while it is celebrated as, ‘Uttarāyaa’ in Gujarat and Rajasthan. In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated for four days like Pongal in Tamilnadu. The fourth day here is celebrated as “Mukkanuma” for worshipping cattle. Some people also take non-vegetarian dishes on the fourth day while they do not take any non-vegetarian food during first three days of Makar Sankrāntī.

In Maharashtra, Makar Sankrāntī is celebrated not only for three days but as a Sankrama Parva it extends right up to Rathasaptamī, the 7th day of Śuklapaka of Māgh. The previous day of Makar Sankrāntī is called “Bhogi”. On this day, Bājrā rotī of Til (Bread of Pearl Millets with toppings of Sesame Seeds) is prepared and a bold dish of mix-vegetables consisting mainly of green bengal gram, carrots and various types of beans, which are the produce of new crops is prepared. On the day of Makar Sankrāntī a delicacy of “Gul Poli” (rolled Chapatti/Roti with inside stuffings of jaggery and sesame seeds) is prepared and offered in Pūjā.

During the period from Makar Sankrāntī to Rathasaptami (except the third day which is called, ‘Kinkrant’) “Haldi-Kumkum” programmes are organized and celebrated by ladies. People meet their relatives and friends and offer Laddoo made from Sesame Seeds and Jaggery with greetings for auspicious days of Uttarāyaa and for establishing re-unions and good relationships with each other. On Rathasaptami day Sun god is worshipped in the form of “Sun riding the Chariot of Seven Horses”. On this day milk is boiled in small earthen pots and allowed to overflow as an offering to Sun God. Thus, Makar Sankrāntī with extended period up to Rathsaptami is the largest festival celebrated during Sankrama Parva, while the Sun enters the Makar Rāshi.

In all these festivals the concept of Yajña is deeply rooted. The basic principle is expression of appreciation and gratitude to the nature, nature-spirits and deities for their benevolence and bounty. Sacrifice of something given by nature (Idam na mam!) for ‘Samaṣṭī Kalyān’ and ‘Mānav Kalyān’. The elements of, ‘competition’, ‘Brand building’ or ‘Conflict with Nature and others’; which are the basis of Western Approach to Agriculture or any Business activity , is totally absent here . On the contrary the concept of, ‘Sacrifice for Samddhī‘; i.e. overall prosperity, peace and happiness is very much ingrained in these festivals. Prayers for Bounty or Samddhī to Agni or Sun God are for the purpose of ‘plenty for all and sharing with all’. The concept of Yajñā in these festivals makes the fundamental difference in the Cultures.

to be continued….

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

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Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part -I)

Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Introduction

While I was studying Varāh Mihir’s “Brihat Samhitā” and participating in the exercise of validation of his Rain conception and Rain Delivery (RCRD) theory for Monsoon -2016; the basis of Yajña concept being incorporated in some of the Indian Festivals came to my mind as a realisation. I have been thinking about it ever since the publication of the report about this validation exercise in Asian Agri-History Journal 2018 Vol.22 (2), the International Quarterly Journal of Asian Agri- History Foundation. My association with late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale for  validation of Suvrushti  Project and RCRD Theory for Monsoon 2016, was a wonderful experience for me; particularly for understanding the greatness of our Ṛśis in theorizing their observations  of nature, environment, atmospheric order and the  Cosmological  System consisting of Sun, Moon, Planets and Nakṣatras. One marvels at the wisdom and expertise in interweaving these theories in social and cultural life for the common benefit of mankind.

All of us are familiar with the Indian Monsoon. The word Monsoon has its origin in Arabic word, ‘Mausam’ which means ‘season’. The word which was originally referred to wind reversals in the Arabian sea, has come to mean the whole range of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycles in tropical and sub-tropical Asia, Australia and Africa. Therefore, the study of Monsoon weather patterns is of great importance for every Indian farmer, every student of Environmental Science and for that matter every Indian citizen, because Monsoon is the life-line of India. According to world climate patterns and regional geography of Asia and India, Monsoon climate patterns are characterized by large scale seasonal reversals of winds, giving very distinct seasons, ’Summer’ and ‘Winter’. In summer moist air is carried northwards from the Indian Ocean over the Indian sub-continent bringing rains. In winter, cool dry weather is carried southwards. Thus, the year gets divided into wet and dry seasons. In addition a short North-East Monsoon affects the south-east coastal states of India due to winds bringing moisture from Bay of Bengal. The Summer Monsoon arrives in southern India in late May or early June and gradually advances northwards and westwards reaching Jammu-Kashmir, Pakistan by early July. It begins to retreat from north western regions and Pakistan by September and withdraws from south India by November. This pattern of advancement and withdrawal gives Indian sub-continent its characteristic seasonal rainfall pattern which is called Indian Monsoon.

Our great Ṛśis and seers during Vedic Period and Post Vedic Period had studied these weather patterns and encapsulated their findings in scriptures like , “ Brihat Samhitā“ of  Varāh Mihir, “Arthaśastra“ of Kautilya  and “Kṛśi Parashar“ of  Parashar. In addition to these examples of the Science of Rainfall Prediction and Rain Conception Signals, there are many ancient texts of Astrometerology of Vedic traditions like –Parashar Samhitā, Garg Samhitā, Kashyap Samhitā, Maghmala Samhitā, Narad Samhitā etc. which have been mentioned in the reports/ books published by Shri Yogiraj Ved Vidnyan Aśram, Barshi, Dist. Solapur Maharashtra, (Vedaśram) founded by late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale mentioned above. Vedaśram carried out various experiments of, Suvrushti Projects and Validation of Varāh Mihir’s RCRD Theory by performing Somyāgas, Parjanya Yāgas for establishing scientifically the relationship between Yajñas, Agriculture, Environment and Rainfall.

Varāh Mihir’s Theory of Rain Conception and Rain Delivery ( RCRD):

Varāh Mihir in his, “Brihat Samhitā” gives his theory of Vṛśṭi Garbhadhārana (Rain conception) and Vṛśṭi Prasav (Rain delivery). Chapters 21 to 28 of this book are devoted to this subject-matter. Before laying down his theory, Varāh Mihir explains the importance of the knowledge of Rainfall Prediction, Rain Conception Signals and Rain Delivery at the beginning of chapter 21 entitled “Garbh Lakṣaṇam” (Pregnancy of clouds) in the first verse as follows:

अन्नम् जगत: प्राणा: प्रावृट्कालस्य चान्नमायत्तम् |

यस्मादत: परीक्ष्य: प्रावृट्काल: प्रयत्नेन् ||१||

Annam Jagataḥ Prāṇāḥ Prāvṛṭkālasya Chānnamāyattam  I

Yasmādataḥ Parīkṣyaḥ Prāvṛṭkālaḥ Prayatnen  II1II

It means that as the food is life-giving and life-sustaining force to all living beings and the food is dependent on rainfall (Monsoon) it should be observed, investigated and studied carefully. In India only 35% of the cultivated land is an irrigated land, which means that almost 65% is rain-fed area, which is entirely dependent upon Monsoon. Hence farmer’s knowledge about Rain Conception Signals and Rainfall Prediction is of great significance.

केजिद्वदन्ती कार्तिक शुक्लान्तमतीत्य गर्भदिवसा: स्यु: |

न च तन्मतं बहुनां गर्गादीनां मतं वक्ष्ये II II

Kejidvadantī Kārtika Śuklāntamatītya Garbhadivasāḥ Syuḥ  I

Na Cha Tanmataṁ Bahunāṁ Gargādināṁ  Mataṁ Vakṣye II5II

Thus, some sages say that the days of pregnancy of clouds begins after the full moon of Kārtika month but the opinion is not shared by the majority. Therefore he further says:

मार्गशिर: सितपक्षप्रतिपत्प्रभृति क्षपाकरेआषाढाम् |

पूर्वा वा समुपगते गर्भाणां लक्षणं ज्ञेयम् ||||

Mārgśiraḥ Sitpakṣapratipatbhṛti Kṣapākareāṣāḍhām I

Pūrvā Vā Samupagate Garbhāṇāṁ Lakṣaṇaṁ Jñeyam II 6 II

The symptoms of pregnancy of clouds are to be detected / observed when Moon transits Purvāśāḍha asterism commencing from the first day of Mārgaśirsya. Varāh Mihir’s prime RCRD Theory is stated in verse 7 :

यन्नक्षत्रमुपगते गर्भश्चंद्रे भावेत्स चन्द्रवशात् |

पन्चनवते दिनशते तत्रैव प्रसवमायाति || ||  

Yannakṣatramupagate Garbhaśchandre Bhāvetsa Chandravaśāt I

Panchanavate Dinśate Tatraiva Prasavmāyāti  II7II

The rain-foetus formed during the Moon stay in a particular asterism (Nakṣatra) will be born 195 days (192 calendar days  + or – one day ) later at the time when the Moon will be again in the same asterism according to the laws of her revolution (Moon Cycle). Thus, the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir in simple words is that rain conception takes place during dry period (Mārgaśir to Chaitra).The rain conception signals can be observed from the first day of Mārgaśir till Chaitra Māsa. The rain-foetus conceived during this period will give rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days (approx. six and half months later) at the time of same asterism when the foetus was conceived. The various rain conception signals to be observed are given in other verses and depending on the rain conception signals observed the rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days  can be predicted . One can prepare a local calendar of rainfall prediction and validate the same with actual rainfall on those days. A farmer can plan his agricultural operations based on this local Agro-climatic calendar.

The relationship of Yajña with Agriculture and Environment :

When one reads the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir along with the gospel truth given in Bhagavadagītā Chapter 3 Śloka 14:

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्यात् अन्नसंभव: |

यज्ञात् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्या: यज्ञ: कर्मसमुद्भव: ||३.१४|| 

Annād bhavanti bhutāni parjanyāt Annasambhavaḥ I

Yajñāt Bhavanti Bhutāni Parjyanyāḥ Yajñaḥ Karmasamudbhavaḥ  II3.14 II

One leads to logical conclusion that Yajñas be performed during the dry period to facilitate rain conception and rain-foetus nourishment during the gestation period. This very concept has been incorporated in our festivals which are based on Yajña/ Havans starting from Durgā Navrātri in Aświn to Rāma Navmī in Chaitra and Akaya-Ttīyā in Vaiśākha. The deities worshipped are Ādi Śakti, Puruśa, Śiva, Agnī and Surya and the offerings are preparations of cereals and pulses of newly harvested crops. Our Ṛśis have interwoven these festivals which are based on ’Suryōpasana’ and ‘Agniupasana’ in our cultural system for celebration / participation by masses.

(to be continued…..)

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

Relevance of Gandhi in Today’s World

AS

Dr. Anju Seth

Looking at the present state of affairs in India, the birthplace of Gandhi, one would probably surmise that Gandhism, whatever the term may mean, cannot have any relevance in this twenty-first century. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual.

Gandhiji Line Drawings (1)

(Source of Image : http://devang-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/sketches-of-mahatma-gandhi.html)

As a matter of fact, India is not following any of Gandhi’s teachings which are mostly confined to text books. In fact, since independence, the country has witnessed many violent communal riots in this multi communal country. Gandhi’s message of ‘swābalambī’, self-sufficiency with home spun ‘khādī’ cloth is not used now-a-days even as a social slogan. Statistics shows that the country is definitely not following ‘sarvodaya’, a broad Gandhian term meaning ‘universal upliftment’ or ‘progress of all’ reaching the masses. On the contrary, India today has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world which has the richest man in the world while at the same time more than 30 per cent of its population lives in dire poverty.

The above shows that today, Gandhism is a very confused ‘ism’ in India. Today many politicians in India use the term merely as a slogan and the common man make Gandhi almost out of reach of the younger groups by making Gandhi an unwilling ‘avatāra’. That may be one reason why the only photo we see of Gandhi in India is always that of an old man which brings the image of a very simple and pious man who was meek and mild like Jesus Christ. While Gandhi was not a simple man to say the least, the above does not gives the right image of Gandhi and does not bring any inspiration to the younger group, the group most relevant for Gandhi.

But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsā in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”

And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets. In contrast to many of our present day leaders of this highly democratic world, Gandhi was a true leader and friend of the people. Disaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist leader who takes great inspiration from Gandhi has this to say about him. “His activism is not mere action but contains many aspects of a spiritual practice that is inspired by the inner urging of the conscience”.

The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far-away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties has great significance when we find that later his teachings were adopted not only by Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, but it was also subsequently revealed that the former South African president De Klerk was greatly influenced by Gandhi’s principles. In fact, from Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu and from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, many world leaders were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, all in their own different ways.

Gandhi left many valuable sayings for the modern man to fight for goodness in society in a non-violent way. “Good” Gandhi said “travels at a snails pace.” “Non-violence” Gandhi said “is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” And then “Mere goodness is not of much use.” Gandhi stated. “Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character.” The modern man can also take great wisdom from what Gandhi said the seven social sins: Politics without principles; Wealth without work; Commerce without morality; Education without character; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice.

It was the unique non-violent movement under his leadership that earned for India freedom from the colonial rule. In spearheading the campaign against the alien rule, Gandhiji adopted the innovative techniques of civil disobedience and social transformation, which had several exemplary features.

The Gandhian technique of mobilizing people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and now Aung Saan Sun Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In India, economic development has been mostly confined to the urban conglomerates. In the process, the rural India that comprises 700 million people has been given short shrift. Gandhiji’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India. He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution. It is surprising, even paradoxical, that these days Gandhian philosophy should find increasing expression through the most modern technology! Now, it is possible to establish small-scale and medium-scale factories in smaller towns and remote corners of the country, thanks to the phenomenal innovations in communication and information technologies. New technologies have brought in widespread and low-cost electronic connectivity that enables instantaneous contact between industrial units and the sellers and consumers of their products. Location and logistics are no more a limitation or constraint for industrial development.

If we say that the twenty-first century is the century of the common man, then we see that Gandhism has even more relevance in this age, and Gandhi will inspire generations of individuals fighting for goodness of the society. If today we find that Gandhism is in severe test in countries like India, it is not because there is certain inherent weakness in Gandhism, but it is because we have not seen in India strong leaders with the required courage and conviction to fight the evils in society. We may borrow Gandhi’s own words on Ahimsā, and say that Gandhism is only for the courageous people.

-Dr. Anju Seth, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Satyawati College (Day), University of Delhi, Delhi, India

Indian Family Traditions, Laws, and Government

Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Traditions can also take ugly forms, such as dowry system, female feticide, outraging modesty of women, etc. which can make family lives of the women (and men) anguished and intolerable. Despite (and may be due to) the laws against dowry, the menace of discord continues to grow in Indian society. Government response to enact further laws to protect women has also taken an ugly turn, and is being used settle scores between families.

Clearly, enacting laws, particularly with selfish culture in mind, is not very effective approach to solve social and family problems. However, government of India has gone on with several intriguing laws to solve family problems. Interestingly, these laws are enacted only for Hindus, the majority community in India, leaving Muslims and Christians untouched presumably to exhibit government’s secular practice. An exception is a bill that was recently introduced againt triple talaq practice of Muslims.

Screenshot_20180731-225958-1

In addition to giving an impression of Hindu practices in need of reforms (thereby wrong), the secular principles borrowed from West where culture and practices are very different are being applied to Indian culture, many times confusing the population, and also at times at the behest of international organizations and groups.

Some of the recent laws or government positions are listed below:

  1. Government of India enacted a law that children are liable to take care of parents, and can be sued by parents if they default.
  2. Parents cannot sell inherited properties without children’s consent.
  3. Live in relationship is fine, citing Radha and Krishna as example of live in relationship.
  4. Girls and boys of less than 16 years of age can have sexual relationship even though marriage age is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.

Many may not know that in several states of USA there is no lower age limit on marriage, and many states have provision for marriage as young as 14 years of age!

These laws and assertions are obviously anti-family and anti-Indian culture, and unfortunately applied selectively to Hindu population. Even Supreme court judges took the government to task on the selective application of amendments to Hindus.

The Supreme court of India said  that government’s attempts to reform personal laws don’t go beyond Hindus who have been more tolerant of such initiatives (Times of India, February 11, 2011; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/7456761.cms?prtpage=1)

“The Hindu community has been tolerant to these statutory interventions. But there appears a lack of secular commitment as it has not happened for other religions.” 

Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Ganguly made the observation while hearing petitions filed by the National Commission for Women and its Delhi chapter. The petitioners had sought formulation of a uniform marriageable age and complained that different stipulations in as many statutes had created confusion. 

In fact, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 itself is fairly arbitrarily done, and has almost nothing to do with Hindu philosophy or general practices. At least no references are made to any Hindu scriptures, consultation, or consensus. Government continues to make laws for Hindus without even a shred of consideration to either the community or its religious authorities. Many a times Hindu related laws are singled out to be enacted at the behest of a few elite class experiences, international pressure, domestic politics, or to create equivalence to other communities, viz., Christians and Muslims, both communities having extensive references to the social and legal aspects in their religious books, unlike Hindu texts.

It is certainly true that Hindu texts are more of guidance at spiritual, intellectual, and social levels, and allow flexibility for time and place. Nevertheless, a secular government, with a society less inclined to be intellectually engaged at mass level, and much less being sought to provide philosophical input to the provisions, is committing a grave long term mistake in imposing Western practices on its people. This acquires more significance and importance when one considers the diversity that the Hindu community exhibits traditionally, which has continued with the many of the practices of the only living ancient living civilization.

Obviously, there is a major disconnect between the society and the rulers. India is a very large society with many of the cultural intermixes to be ruled by a single set of laws and provisions. India and Hindu represent a diversity of thoughts and practices that is integral to its existence. There is no reference in ancient India to have a constitution, judges, advocates, as wide ranging as it is currently enforced. It has been a self policing society, governed by Kuldharma, Jatidharma, Varnadharma, Rashtradharma, and paramdharama. Currently, uch things are not even seriously considered while making policies and laws for the society.

There are many ills that are creeping in the Indian society, as a result of not considering the traditions, practices, and ancient wisdom in making policies and laws by the politicians and bureaucrats, and in the enforcement by the police and judiciary. It is, therefore, essential to bring the issue of the Indian family system to at least a certain level of intellectual and scholarly debate. It is hoped that such an exercise will spill over into the policy debates and eventually in the society for charting its course for future.

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

Honoring the Father

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

In a country where मातृ देवो भव, पितृ देवो भव, एवं आचार्य देवो भव have been the norms, designating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may sound like a demotion of mothers and fathers. Instead, it is considered as a much needed appreciation of them in the western world.

There are several peculiarities surrounding the origin and establishment of Father’s Day here in the United States, where it is an official holiday. Interestingly, efforts to establish both Mother’s and Father’s Days were led by daughters, not sons, and both were in fact initiated by the Church (Mother May or Mothering Church for Mother’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day for Father’s Day).  While Father’s Day was established over 50 years after the Mother’s Day was already an official holiday, (in fact, after many more failed attempts at establishment than Mother’s Day) both holidays were in fact initially rejected by the US Congress: they jokingly extrapolated a future need of a “Mother-in-Law’s Day”.  Eventually, both holidays were proclaimed by presidential orders. However, the more sincere criticism from congress was that establishing appreciation for parents as holidays would lead to commercialization of these occasions, reducing a heart-to-heart moment to a hand-to-hand exchange of gifts.

During debates over the establishment of Father’s Day, it was common to argue that one parent (mother) cannot be recognized while the other (father) is not. The division of parents into distinct categories like “matriarchal” and “patriarchal” can be seen more as a lens perpetuated in my opinion by some modern social scientists than actual truth. Even in the animal kingdom, where the complexities of human society, tradition, culture, and philosophy do not exist, a child is often cared by both mother and father.  The social interpretation of the culture (sanskriti), traditions (parampara), and philosophy (darshan) needs narrational perspective and an integrative approach. Matri sattatmak (matriarchal) and Pitre sattatmak (patriarchal) societies inherently mean the motherhood and fatherhood, not simply woman and man as is generally implicated by social activists. Therein lies the narrative problem.

Indian cultures exhort raising of woman to the motherhood in perspective (not necessarily giving birth, although that reinforces it automatically). In India the nation is called motherland whereas in the West it is fatherland. Ancestors are referred to as पूर्वज in India whereas forefathers in America in a social context. Wikipedia lists 60 countries which call their native country as fatherland. Ancient Greek, Patris, fatherland, led to Latin Patrios, and finally into Patriotism. Thus father figure is a dominant cultural ethos of the western world.

In India it is, of course, Mother India or भारत माता, that is the war cry for the land. I had heard from a Swami ji (but could not find myself in any literature) that in Indian culture a child is most fortunate whose father is a dharmatma and whose mother is a pativrata. This is far cry from the competing dominance portrayed by the reference such a society as matriarchal vs. patriarchal, which Indian intellectual class apes it.

The combined differences between how Eastern and Western cultures view and treat motherhood and fatherhood indicate clearly that there is no simple mapping of words or cultural concepts from one onto the other. When comparing the two, one needs to understand the context in which terms, language, and celebrations are framed. Learning from other cultures is good, but doing so without an understanding of the differing perspectives, and without an appreciation for our own way of seeing the world, is counter-productive.

There is a book written with the title of ‘Dharti Mata aur Pita Akash’ by Pushpa Sinha, and of course the favorite Hindi song, Dharti meri mata pita Akash from Geet Gata Chal Hindi movie (1975) shows the complementarity of parents for appropriate care and growth of a child. Nevertheless, Indian culture is matriarchal right from the pauranic concept of Adya as the origin of tridevas and tridevis.  Even in modern times at least 500 years ago in Tulsi Ramayana, there is a clear mention that mother holds higher position than the father – जौ केवल पितु आयसु ताता, तौ जिन जाउ जानि बड़ि माता -as stated by Ram’s mother, Kaushalya. So, while Kerala tradition may be matriarchal (or maybe ladyarchal to be more appropriate). The matriarchal tradition of India as per Ramayana standards is widespread in the culture.

Once that narrative is accepted, it is then possible to integrate with the famous Manusmriti idea of ‘यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता…’, which needs to be interpreted as, where women reach the status or level  of being worshiped (implying only motherhood) even gods frequent that place for pleasure.

There is much to learn from Indian philosophy as to what a mother is to be – life giver, guru, teacher, god, etc., which is what elevates her to the level of worship, not those who hire maids to take care of their children or those who do not have education, training, knowledge, and resources.

A father is a gyan guru, and is expected to give diksha to the son, and perhaps daughter by the time of the upanayana sanskar (there are instances where daughters undergo upanayana sanskar). In this ritual, the father utters some secret mantra (usually Gayatri mantra) in the ears of the child at the ceremony. This indicates the conclusion of education from father and commencement of the education from Guru. In the story of the Ganesha his father Shiva cuts off Ganesha’s head, eventually replacing it with the head of an elephant at the behest of Ganesha’s mourning mother Parvati.  Instead of taking only the story’s literal meaning, we can instead see symbolically Shiva playing his true role as a father: removing Ganesha’s ignorance, as symbolized by the head he was born with, and replacing it with a much larger head of an elephant, symbolizing his newly gained wisdom.

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(Image : Prof. Singh and his son)

In my own personal life, living in America, I try to emphasize on Father’s Day what a father is supposed to do on a regular basis: I normally cook breakfast for the family showing my cooking ability and skills (all three children learned formal cooking from me rather than their mother who is obviously more skillful at cooking than I am); I then make sure to mow the lawn, which I do despite my wife’s advice of hiring landscaper (quite common in United States); we spend time relishing some father-child memories; finally, I give some fatherly advice (lecture!!) to my children. I do not like to be pampered by any special treatment or gifts from children, as that encourages commercialization (the original concern of US lawmakers in opposing declaring Father’s Day an official holiday), and reduces the idea to materialism, which is quite different from what I consider my children as संतानाः, as in सम्यक तान्यते ते संतानाः those who reflect not only my material body but also my subtle body (ethereal, astral, mental, and spiritual) and spiritualism. May all of us have a Father’s Day by becoming and having संतानाः!

Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA 

वासन्ती पर्व ’होली’

 – डॉ. शशि तिवारी

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हमारी कृषि-व्यवस्था दो भागों में बँटी है―(1) वैशाखी, (2) कार्तिकी। इसी को क्रमश: वासन्ती और शारदीय फसलें कहते हैं। फाल्गुन पूर्णमासी वासन्ती फसल का आरम्भ है। होली पर्व का एक प्राचीन नाम ’वासन्ती नवसस्येष्ट’ है। यह मूलतया वसन्त ऋतु में नये अनाजों से किये जाने वाले यज्ञ कर्म (इष्टि) का नाम है। हमारी वैदिक परम्परा है कि  नवान्न को सर्वप्रथम अग्निदेव को समर्पित करते हैं, तत्पश्चात् स्वयं भोग करते हैं। वसन्त ऋतु में चना, मटर, अरहर एवं जौ आदि अनेक अन्न पक चुकते हैं। अत: उनको देवों को समर्पित करते हैं। चारों वर्ण परस्पर मिलकर इस विशाल यज्ञ को सम्पन्न करते हैं। आहुति देते हैं और परिक्रमा करतॆ हैं, यह यज्ञ की प्रक्रिया ही है।

संस्कॄत की परिभाषा ’तृणाग्निं भ्रष्टार्धपक्वशमी धान्य: होलक:’ के अनुसार तिनके की अग्नि में भुने हुए अधपके धान्य (फली वाले अन्न) को होलक कहते हैं। होली शब्द होलक से बना है। इसी कारण इस पर्व को ’होली’ या ’होलिकोत्सव’ कहते है। होली नवान्न वर्ष का प्रतीक है। लॊग प्रतिवर्ष सामूहिक रूप से होली जलाते हैं।

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(Source of Image : httpswww.jansatta.comlifestyleholi-2018)

ऋतुओं का सन्धिकाल रोग उत्पन्न करता हैं । होली का समय हेमन्त और बसन्त ऋतु का योग है। रोग-निवारण के लिए यज्ञ उत्तम साधन है। अत: होली जलने का संबन्ध फसलों के साथ-साथ ऋतु-परिवर्तन से भी है।

एक पौराणिक कथा होली जलाने को भगवान् से जोडती है―होलिका हिरण्यकश्यपु नामक राक्षस की बहिन थी। उसे यह वरदान था कि वह आग में नहीं जलेगी। हिरण्यकश्यपु का प्रह्लाद नाम का बालक पुत्र था जो विष्णु की पूजा करता था। पर हिरण्यकश्यपु पुत्र को रोकता था कि “तू विष्णु की  पूजा न कर मेरी पूजा किया कर“। जब वह नहीं माना तो हिरण्यकश्यपु ने होलिका को आदेश दिया कि वह प्रह्लाद को आग में लेकर बैठ जाये। होलिका प्रह्लाद को गोद में लेकर आग में बैठ गई,  वह जल गई और प्रह्लाद बच गया। तब से प्रह्लाद, होलिका तथा विष्णु की कथा की स्मृति में होली का त्यौहार मनाया जाता है l

होली उत्सव एवं यज्ञ का सांस्कृतिक प्रतीक है। स्वयं को प्रकॄति से जोड़ने का पर्व है।

आप सभी को इस उत्सव की हार्दिक शुभकामनायें।

डॉ. शशि तिवारी,अध्यक्ष, वेव्स -भारत 

India: A Concept of Nationhood (Part-II)

Continued from Part-I

Dr. Raj Kumar

The Vedic phase is very significant and influential in the evolution of Indian society. It affects its cultural, socio-economic and social-political tradition. Although, there is a prolonged debate on the Aryan influence on Indian society, nothing conclusive could be presented. Some social activists view Aryans as a native of India, whereas several scholars and academic historians’ opinions are opposite. Whatever the view, Aryans evolved the tribal society to a well-developed civilization. Development of civilization provides the people a cohesive environment for discussion, and the people start looking for the answer of the fundamental questions. Every other civilization of the world meditated upon some fundamental questions for a long time; a) how to live life, b) what is the goal of life, and c) what is the way to find happiness. The idea of India provided a unique path to get the answer to these fundamental questions. As an Indian, our traditional goal of life is a virtue (Dharma), live with success and wealth (Artha), to live with pleasure (Kama), but in the end seek enlightenment (Moksha). Vedic philosophy also discussed several ideas; idea of consciousness, idea of humanity, idea of ethics in social life, idea of spirituality, and more importantly the idea of individuality (for example, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita tells your interpretation of life is different from others, but it doesn’t mean you are wrong or others are wrong. Similarly, Ayurveda treats a person based on their personal traits and habits, instead of using any generalization). These ideas influenced the thought process of the people of the region and shaped the idea of India.

The founding concept of India was not just an abstract idea of a plurality or an idea of a common interest. It is an idea of practical understanding of the compulsion and constraints, yet accommodative, between differing ideas and views. Now, let’s examine the characteristics of India as a nation.

Let’s define nation first. In my view, the best definition is provided by Ernest Renan’s. According to him, “A nation is not formed on the basis of dynasty, language, religion, geography or shared interests. Rather, a nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. A spiritual principle is a combination of two things, which in truth are one. One lies in the past i.e. the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories. Other lies in the present, which reflects the desire to live together, and perpetuate the value system and continue the heritage that one has received in an undivided form.” The idea of India exactly fits this definition. So many people of different value system, cultural system, belief system, and interests are coming together to develop an Idea of India. Probably only place in the world where we have preserved the traditions which were practiced thousands of years ago (rich legacy), yet all Indian together try to compete with the modern world (perpetuate the value system and desire to live together). Like any other nation, India also has gone through turbulent times. Even in those turbulent times, instead of hankering for purity, India gave some very powerful ideas to this world….. the idea of accommodation, the idea of incorporation, the idea of inclusion, the idea of embracing, and the idea of mixing without losing the basic character. She sees the moment of mixing as the most creative and imaginative one. She sees the moment of mixing as an opportunity to create the culture of give and take, and ultimately become one. So, the idea of India is not an abstract idea of just cultural pluralism and democracy, it is an idea of amalgamation of different ideas.

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This amalgamation gave diversity to Indian system. Scientifically speaking this process increases the entropy/randomness, which all the thermodynamic systems aspire to. Energy is constant in an entropy-driven process. So, we need to know how to utilize this energy in a useful way. That is why increasing entropy can be advantageous and disadvantageous, too. Advantageous when you know how to utilize this excess entropy and balance the system, and disadvantageous when you don’t know how to control the randomness. I will use an example to simplify the above statement. Protein folding, a biological process, is a very important event when the linear sequence of amino acid organizes different interactions to devise a biologically functional shape. In this process, entropy is decreasing to create a useful structure. While acquiring a biological function from linear sequence, protein has two very important intermediate stages, molten globule and intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). These two states are very flexible (higher randomness) and when needed can acquire a biologically functional state (entropically low structure). In another way, randomness is a necessary requirement but to perform function system needs to be organized. Randomness provides flexibility and fluidity, which is a necessary trait of our existence, and the idea of India already have this naturally.

You must have heard this statement ….. India is a very diverse country and its diversity is an asset. But nobody explains what is the meaning of this statement. Diversity means randomness, which is natural tendencies of anything in this world. It brings freedom; freedom of thought, freedom of action, and freedom of expression. Freedom is not the one-way road, it is a two-way path; one way is freedom, and another concurrent way is responsibility/onus/liability. Diversity in scientific terms is a degree of freedom, more degree of freedom more available options. More options mean more ways of doing things. In other words, different things can be done in a coordinated way to achieve the same goal. Therefore, in this sense diversity of India is an asset, but we need to know how to utilize it, we need to know how and where to direct this diversity, and we need to know how to fulfill our responsibilities and contribute to advancing the idea of India. One successful example of focusing diversity is the United State of America (USA). The USA has accepted people from all over the world, which gave her an asset of diversity. She utilized this diversity very smartly and focused to build a strong nation. India needs to do the same.

Thus, the idea of India is not a hypothetical one, it is a geographically, socially, philosophically, and scientifically proven idea. India’s diversity needs to be crystalized, so that the nation can move forward together in a constructive way. We did this very successfully in the past on several occasions, we need to do it again now to solve our current problems.

We are all pieces of the same puzzle.

References

  1. The Vedic Core of Human History by M. K. Agarwal, 2013.
  2. Indian Foreign Policy: Challenges and Opportunities by Atish Sinha, Madhup Mohta and Foreign Service Institute, 2007.
  3. ArunKumar, G., Soria-Hernanz, D. F., Kavitha, V. J., Arun, V. S., Syama, A., Ashokan, K. S., … The Genographic Consortium. (2012). Population Differentiation of Southern Indian Male Lineages Correlates with Agricultural Expansions Predating the Caste System. PLoS ONE7(11), e50269. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050269.
  4. https://www.ibm.com/solutions/genographic/us/en/geno_story.html

 – Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA.