Democracy turns into DemoNOcracy!!

Prof.Bal Ram Singh

There have much talk about the demonization of republicans and democrats in the United States especially since Donald Trump became candidate for the position of President. He called his opponent as crooked Hillary, and Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters as basket of deplorables.

But Indian leaders, perhaps taking some cue from the politicians of the oldest democracy, yet certainly adding their own ugly flavors to it.

“There are remarkable parallels in terms of this kind of highly prejudicial and extremely parochial nationalism that both Modi and Trump have promoted and have sought to demonize minorities.”, said Sumit Ganguly, a leftist and Tagore Chair Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Indiana University at Bloomington in an interview on April 9, 2019 with Council of Foreign Relations).

Some examples of low level stench are given below:

Modi while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh for Assembly Election, branded the main opposition party Congress as termites and called the electorates to wipe them out: “There should not be one polling booth where this termite called Congress be allowed to thrive.”

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Kejriwal had recently called Modi “a Coward and a psychopath” (Outlook India, 06 November 2017)

In 2007 campaign for the Gujarat assembly election, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had indirectly accused Modi and his government as “merchants of death” (Oulook India, 06 NOVEMBER 2017)

In an article on May 20, 2019 The New York Times wrote several disturbing statements on democracy in view of the Indian elections.

“In Hungary, Viktor Orban demonized immigrants and secured an expansion of his power. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan purged his enemies and won a new term. In Australia, Scott Morrison shrugged off calls for tougher carbon-emissions rules and was unexpectedly kept on as leader.

And in India, where the world’s biggest parliamentary election appears to be boiling down to a binary choice — Yes or No on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “

“Trump and Modi are twins separated by continents,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator, and dalit activist. “Both are against knowledge, they consider the past as the golden period, they consider themselves the center of gravity.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April, 2019 – credit Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Observers are looking at this people polarizing trend with disdain. 

“…the social media cells of the BJP and the INC seem to be projecting their star campaigners as populist leaders, demonising each other’s parties and supporters, and polarising the voters along religious lines.”, wrote Dr. Sangeeta Mahapatra, LSE Blog, January 11, 2019

“He can’t take care of his wife, he will take care of Indians?,” Mamata Banerjee said during a rally in Bishnupur. (India Today, New Delhi, May 6, 2019). She refused to even take a call from the Prime Minister to discuss the relief work on the cyclone, saying she did not recognize him as the Prime Minister of India!

“Who knew you (Modi) before you became the Prime Minister? Even now, nobody knows the name of your father. (Former Union minister Vilasrao Muttemwar, November 25, 2018).

At one time a BJP MLA, Heeralal Regar, declared his intention to “strip” Sonia and Rahul and transport them to Italy

BJP minister “Sadhvi” Niranjan Jyoti asked a gathering to choose between “Ramzaadon (followers of Lord Ram)” and “haramzaadon (illegitimately born)”

Mani Shankar Aiyar discovered Modi to be a “neech kism ka aadmi (a lowly person)”.

In 2014, a video of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal went viral, where he could be seen openly threatening to rape women members of the opposition (India Today, July 20, 2016).

“I am from Chandannagar. Leaders are created by workers. I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me… If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal said.

SP leader Mualayam Singh Yadav had shocked the nation’s conscience when he wondered aloud (about BSP leader Mayawati): “Is she so beautiful that anyone should want to rape her?

“Smriti Irani sits beside leaders like Nitin Gadkari and talks about changing the Constitution. Let me tell you a thing about Smriti Irani. She wears a big ‘bindi’ on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husbands frequently, the size of her ‘bindi’ keeps growing,” (Jaydeep Kawade, a leader from Maharashtra-based People’s Republican Party).

Insey bada kayar, insey kamjor Pradhan Mantri main jeevan me nahi dekha, (I haven’t seen a more coward and weaker PM than him in my life).” (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, May 9, 2019)

Chowkidar (Modi) chor hai”  a phrase invented by Rahul Gandhi for 2019 elections, with nearly no truth in it as asserted by the Supreme Court of India when it made Rahul Gandhi apologize for justifying the phrase by attributing it to the honorable court.

While these utterances may have been said in the heat of political campaigns, the fact that one has to come down to this level reveals the true nature of democracy which can in fact be very dangerous in places like India with unparallel history, philosophy, continuing culture, diversity of nature, humans, languages, and freedom of thoughts.

On the other hand, when Sadhvi Pragya Singh said that she had cursed Hemant Karkare, the police officer who had supervised her torture in jail, she was banned from campaigning for three days by India’s Election Commission. This is the situation in so called free India where a person is not allowed to even moan for the extreme torture meted out to her physically and mentally!

Such a deterioration in discourses can (and perhaps meant to) be divisive and destructive to a society. In other words, democracy has become demonocracy!!

As a silver lining, it may in fact provide a pause to think of an alternative system of governance, at least for India, if not the entire world.  

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA & Board Member, WAVES-International

Advertisements

वैशाखी पर्व पर जलियाँवाला बाग की नृशंसता की शताब्दी (एक पुस्तकीय पुनर्वाचन)

Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal and Dr. Rishiraj Pathak

उत्सव-प्रधान भारत देश में अन्य पर्वों के समान वैशाखी पर्व का भी विशेष महत्त्व है| जैसा कि इसके नाम से स्पष्ट है कि यह पर्व वैशाख मास से सम्बद्ध है| ज्योतिषशास्त्र के अनुसार जिस मास की पूर्णिमा को विशाखा नक्षत्र पड़े, वह मास वैशाख मास कहलाता है| निम्नलिखित वचन इसके प्रमाण हैं –

’कार्त्तिक्यादिषु संयोगे कृत्तिकापि द्वयं द्वयम्| अन्त्योपान्त्यौ पञ्चमश्च त्रिधा मासत्रयं स्मृतम’||

                                                                                  (सूर्यसिद्धान्त, मानाध्याय, १४. १६)

’यस्मिन्मासे पौर्णमासी…तन्नक्षत्राह्वयो मास: पौर्णमासी तथाह्वया’।

(नारद-संहिता ३.८४)

ध्यान देने योग्य है कि मासों के नाम नक्षत्र तथा चन्द्रमा की युति के आधार पर रखे गये हैं और सूर्य के संक्रमण से मास का काल निर्धारित किया जाता है।

सूर्यस्य राशिगतिर्यत्र परिमीयते स सौर:।

सूर्य जितने समय तक एक राशि में रहता है, उसे सौर मास कहते हैं।

                                                        (कालमाधव, द्वितीय प्रकरण, पृ. ४५)

वर्त्तमान प्रचलन में वैशाखी पर्व १३ अथवा १४ अप्रैल को मनाया जाता है| इसका कारण है कि वैशाखी पर्व सौर मान पर आधारित है| जब भगवान् सूर्य मेष राशि में संक्रमण करते हैं तब मेषसंक्रान्ति होती है| सौर मान के अनुसार तभी नव वर्ष होता है| सौर मान सूर्य के अनुसार निर्धारित होता है| प्रति अंग्रेजी मास की १४ तारीख को सूर्य नयी राशि में प्रवेश करते हैं| इस प्रकार १३ अथवा १४ अप्रैल को सूर्य मेष राशि में प्रवेश करते हैं|

उल्लेखनीय है कि वैशाख मास को ’माधव’ नाम से भी जाना जाता है। इसका प्रमाण स्वयं यजुर्वेदीय संहिता ग्रन्थ हैं|

’…मधवे त्वा। उपयामगृहीतोSसि। माधवाय उपयामगृहीतोSसि। तपसे त्वा….’।

(कपिष्ठल-कठ-संहिता ३.५, काठक-संहिता ४.७.२९)

’मधुश्च  माधवश्च वासन्तिकावृतू’।

(कपिष्ठल-कठ-संहिता २६.९, काठक-संहिता १७.१०.२५-२८, मैत्रायणी-संहिता २.८.१२, तैत्तिरीय-संहिता ४.४.११, )

’मधवे स्वाहा माधवाय स्वाहा….’।

(वाजसनेयि-संहिता २२.३१, मैत्रायणी-संहिता ३.१२.१३ )

स्कन्दपुराण में ’माधव मास’ को सर्वोत्कृष्ट मास के रूप में वर्णित करते हुए उसका महत्त्व बताया गया है –

“न माधवसमो मासो….”

(स्कन्दपुराण वै. वै. मा. २.१)

माधव मास जैसा कोई अन्य मास नहीं है।

पुराणों में आए सूतजी और नारदजी के संवाद से वैशाख मास के महात्म्य को ज्ञात किया जा सकता है-  विद्या में वेद विद्या, मंत्रों में प्रणव, वृक्षों में कल्पवृक्ष, गायों में कामधेनु, नागों में शेष, पक्षियों में गरुड़, देवों में विष्णु, वर्णों में ब्राह्मण, प्रिय वस्तुओं में प्राण, मित्रों में भार्या, नदियों में गंगा, तेजस्वियों में सूर्य, शस्त्रों में चक्र, धातुओं में स्वर्ण, वैष्णव में शिव, रत्नों में कौस्तुभमणि के समान है। भगवान् की भक्ति के लिए यह सबसे उत्तम मास है। इसमें आक, पीपल और वट वृक्षों की पूजा करते हैं। अन्न और जल के दान का विशेष महत्त्व है, प्याऊ आदि लगवाने से व्यक्ति अपने कुल का उद्धार करता है। इस मास में खड़ाऊँ, पंखा, छतरी आदि का दान दिया जाता है। वैशाख मास में केवल स्नान मात्र से मनुष्य सब पापों से मुक्त होकर बैकुंठ को जाता है।

पंजाब में वैशाखी पर्व की विशेष महत्ता है| इस दिन १६९९ ई. में सिक्खों के दसवें गुरु श्रीगुरु गोविन्द सिंह जी ने खालसा पन्थ की स्थापना की थी| इस दिन पंजाब में तरन-तारन सरोवर में स्नान का विशेष महत्त्व है| ऐसी मान्यता है कि इस पवित्र सरोवर में स्नान करने से कुष्ठ जैसे असाध्य रोग भी दूर हो जाते हैं|

वैशाखी पर्व के इस पुण्यवर्धक अवसर पर अतीत की कुछ दुर्दान्त नृशंस घटनाओं का स्मरण हो जाना भी स्वाभाविक है| परतन्त्र भारत में १९१९ ई. की वैशाखी भारतीय इतिहास में अति अमानवीय घटना के रूप में प्रसिद्ध है| उल्लेखनीय है कि १३ अप्रैल १९१९ ई. को अमृतसर स्थित जलियाँवाला बाग में वैशाखी पर्व के अवसर पर भारतीय जन समूह अंग्रेजों द्वारा प्रवर्तित रोलेट एक्ट के विरोध प्रदर्शन में एकत्रित हो गया| जब यह बात जनरल डायर को ज्ञात हुई तो उसने अचानक वहाँ आकर अपने सैनिकों के साथ मिलकर निरपराध और निःशस्त्र भारतीयों पर गोलियां चलाईं| वहाँ १५ मिनट में १६५० गोलियाँ चलीं| जलियाँवाला बाग में आने और जाने का एक ही दरवाजा था, वहाँ डायर ने तोपें लगवा दीं और हमारे निःशस्त्र भारतीय मृत्यु यज्ञ की आहुति बनते रहे| अनेक लोग अपनी प्राणरक्षा के लिए कुँए में कूद गए| आज इस कुँए को शहीदी कुँए के नाम से जाना जाता है| मृत्यु के इस क्रूर नृत्य के साक्षी श्री ऊधमसिंह जी भगवान् की कृपा से सुरक्षित बच गए| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने प्रतिज्ञा की कि मैं निरपराध भारतीयों की हत्या का प्रतिशोध लेने के लिए डायर का वध करूंगा| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने अपनी प्रतिज्ञा पूर्ण करने के लिए बहुत संघर्ष किया| उन्होंने धन प्राप्ति के लिए बढ़ई बनकर लकड़ी का काम किया और भगत सिंह जी से प्रेरित होकर बंदूक खरीदने के लिए विदेश चले गए, किन्तु लाइसेंस न होने के कारण उन्हें पाँच वर्ष की जेल हो गयी| जेल से बाहर आकर उन्होंने पुनः तैयारी की और लन्दन चले गए| वहाँ जाकर उन्होंने एक होटल में काम किया और बंदूक खरीदने के लिए धन जुटाकर बंदूक खरीद ली| श्री ऊधमसिंह जी अपनी वीरता और चतुरता का परिचय देते हुए बन्दूक को एक पुस्तक में गोपनीय ढंग से रखकर किंग्स्टन गए| किंग्स्टन में डायर का सम्मान समारोह चल रहा था, जहाँ श्री ऊधमसिंह जी ने उसके सम्मान समारोह के उपरांत सबके सामने गोलियाँ चलाकर डायर का वध कर दिया और जलियाँवाला बाग हत्याकांड का उल्लेख करते हुए अपनी प्रतिज्ञा की सार्थकता सिद्ध की| बाद में श्री ऊधमसिंह जी को फांसी की सजा हुई और वे सदा के लिए अमर हो गए|

आधुनिक संस्कृत काव्य परम्परा में इसी घटना को आधार बनाकर डा. ऋषिराज पाठक ने श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् नामक ऐतिहासिक खण्डकाव्य की रचना की है, जिसे हिन्दी, अंग्रेजी, और पंजाबी भाषाओं में अनुवाद के साथ जलियाँवाला बाग घटना के शताब्दी वर्ष पूरे होने के अवसर पर प्रकाशित किया जा रहा है| प्रसादगुणोपेत यह काव्य सरल तथा प्रवाहमयी भाषा में लिखा गया है| इस काव्य में जलियाँवाला बाग की वैशाखी की घटना का जीवन्त वर्णन है| अंग्रेजों के रोलेट एक्ट के विरोध में भारतीयों द्वारा विरोधप्रदर्शन, डायर द्वारा नृशंस हत्याएँ, श्रीऊधमसिंह जी की प्रतिज्ञा, उनका संघर्ष और डायर का वध, काव्य में इन सभी घटनाओं का सजीव वर्णन है| इस काव्य की कुछ पंक्तियाँ इस प्रकार हैं-

डायर द्वारा नृशंस हत्याएँ –

यदाङ्ग्लो डायरो दुष्टो विद्रोहं ज्ञातवानिमम्|

तदादिशद् विघाताय निःशस्त्राणां सभामहे||

डायरादेशतस्तत्र सेनया प्रहृतं ततः|

चक्ररूपभुशुण्डीभिरग्निगोलकवृष्टिभिः||

(श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् २०-२१)

And when General Dyer came to know about the protest,

The sadist foreigner ordered for the massacre of the unarmed people.

On Dyer’s order, the army rained ammunition from the machine guns,

On the crowd, hapless and feeble. (20-21)

जब दुष्ट डायर को इस विद्रोह के विषय में ज्ञात हुआ तो उसने सभा उत्सव में निःशस्त्र भारतीयों के विनाश के लिए आदेश दे दिया| तदनन्तर वहाँ डायर के आदेश से चक्र के समान (घूमती हुई) आग की गोलियों की वृष्टि करने वाली बन्दूकों द्वारा सेना ने निरपराध भारतीयों पर प्रहार किया| (२०-२१)

ਪਤਾ ਲੱਗਾ ਅੰਗ੍ਰੇਜ਼ ਡਾਇਰ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਵਿਦ੍ਰੋਹ ਦਾ

ਦਿੱਤਾ ਹੁਕਮ ਨਿਹੱਥਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਵਿਨਾਸ਼ ਦਾ

ਉਦੋਂ ਚਲਾਈਆਂ ਗੋਲੀਆਂ

ਡਾਇਰ ਦੀ ਸਰਕਾਰ

ਮਾਰਿਆ ਨਿਹੱਥਿਆਂ ਭਾਰਤੀਆਂ

ਨੂੰ ਸੰਗੀਨਾ ਨਾਲ

ਡਾਢੇ ਕਹਿਰਾਂ ਨਾਲ॥20-21॥

(Punjabi Translation by – Dr. Gurdeep Kaur)

श्रीऊधम सिंह जी की प्रतिज्ञा –

नरसंहारसम्भारं दृष्ट्वा भीष्मप्रतिज्ञया|

ऊधमसिंहवीरोऽसौ संकल्पं कृतवान् दृढम्||

डायरं मारयिष्यामि नूनमेष दृढव्रतः|

एतदेवास्ति लक्ष्यं मे चिन्तयामास तद्गतः||

(श्रीमदूधमसिंहचरितम् २८-२९)

After seeing the massacre,

Udham Singh took a brilliant and firm vow,

“I will kill Dyer“, he swore,

And started contemplating about how to achieve it. (28-29)

उन वीर ऊधमसिंह ने नरसंहार के समूह को देखकर भीष्मप्रतिज्ञा पूर्वक ”मैं डायर का वध करूँगा”, यह मेरा दृढ़ व्रत है और यही मेरा लक्ष्य है, यह दृढ़ संकल्प किया और उसी प्रतिज्ञा के विषय में चिन्तन करना प्रारम्भ कर दिया| (२८-२९)

ਦੇਖ ਇਹ ਨਰਸਿੰਘਾਰ

ਊਧਮ ਸਿੰਘ ਨੂੰ ਆਇਆ ਰੌਹ

“ਮੈਂ ਡਾਇਰ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਰਨਾ,

ਇਹ ਮੇਰਾ ਲਕਸ਼ ਇਹੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਸੌਂਹ”॥

ਰੁੱਝਿਆ ਫਿਰ ਉਹ ਸੋਚਾਂ ਦੇ

ਕਿਵੇਂ ਵਿਉਂਤਣੀ ਹੈ ਸੌਂਹ॥28-29॥

आज हम भारत की गौरव पूर्ण परम्परा में वैशाखी पर्व के उल्लास का विस्तार करते हुए तथा अपने निरपराध भारतीय पूर्वजों के प्रति श्रद्धांजलि अर्पित करते हुए वीर श्री ऊधमसिंह जी को सादर स्मरण करते हैं| साथ ही हमारा मानना है कि किसी प्रकार के संबंध बनाने के लिए अथवा लोकप्रियता के लिए आज जिस प्रकार सोशल मीडिया का प्रयोग किया जाता है, उसी प्रकार हो सकता है उस दिन वैशाखी पर्व पर एकत्रित हुए लोगो की सामाजिक सभा का राजनीतिकरण करने के लिए इस्तेमाल किया गया हो। अतः सामाजिक और धार्मिक समारोह का इस्तेमाल राजनीति के लिए करना अत्यंत खतरनाक सिद्ध हो सकता है और कलह का कारण बन सकता है।

[Author’s clarification – The person who opened fire in Jallianwala Bagh was Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer who died in 1927 due to cerebral haemorrhage and arteriosclerosis. It was Sir Michael Francis O’ Dyer who was assassinated by Udham Singh in 1940 in London. O’ Dyer happened to be the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and a supporter of the heinous crime. This tiny nugget of information has been excluded from the poem in order to maintain the tempo and brevity of it. However, it has been mentioned here because it is an important fact of modern day History.]

Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth &

Dr. Rishiraj Pathak, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College, University of Delhi, Delhi

Why Women are still considered Second Class Citizen in Indian Society?

*[‘International Women’s Day’ – celebrating Womanhood that comprises of all the attributes that are natural to Women i.e., patient, affectionate, caring, emotional, generous, devoted, elegant, calm, sensitive, strong, courageous amongst the top ones.

In this era of male dominance our society is constantly dealing with conflicting issues such as gender equality & women empowerment. Recent movies for instance, Padmaavat and Manikarnika made a huge impact on mindset of people as the portrayal of Women therein, represents & redefine the multitude characteristics of a woman. How significant is to hold on to one’s individuality, is to be learnt from such powerful characters of Indian society. In this small initiative at Vedic WAVES Blog, an effort has been made through a survey to gather an opinion over the current status as enjoyed by women in present day society, in India.]  

*Editorial note by Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Women are not just considered but are also treated as 2nd to men in current society. Ancient social engineering made women equal half. First time a woman was considered an object … Bharata rose in arms to protect Dharma of equality and respect.

Ms. Neera Mishra, Chairperson, Draupadi Dream Trust

I consider the very question based on ignorance. Granted gender discrimination occurs around the world (in case of both sexes) and India would have it’s own share of problems. I grew up in villages and also spent time in cities of India. I also lived in multiple countries. Based on my limited experience I have not seen imbalanced discrimination against women.

That remains my experience.  If at all, I have noticed discriminatory laws against men, especially in family law courts around the world.

Mr. Nilesh Oak, Adjunct Faculty, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Theoretically, women are on a par with men but in actual practice they are considered second class citizens who suffer discrimination in almost all walks of life. This kind of mindset is starkly evident not only in the family for the upbringing of female child in comparison to the male ones but also in education, jobs, career opportunities, promotions and future expectations. The society must eradicate this obvious injustice and menace perpetrated by people in general and institutional biases in particular.

Dr. Dayanand Parashar, Former Associate Professor, Physics, ARSD College, University of Delhi, Delhi

प्राचीन भारत में महिलाओं को देवी के तुल्य सम्मान था। मनु के द्वारा भी इसकी पुष्टि की गई है। जो भी विषमताएं आईं हैं, वो निसंदेह मुस्लिम संस्कृति के प्रभाव से है और अब पाश्चात्य संस्कृति का प्रभाव भी दृष्टिगोचर है। समाज में महिलाओं की स्थिति सुधारने के लिए सर्वप्रथम उनको शिक्षित करना होगा, सिर्फ साक्षर बनाने से बात नहीं बनेगी। अब पहले से महिलाओं की स्थिति में सुधार है, इसका कारण शिक्षा ही है। समानता में लाने के लिए महिलाओं को मुफ्त में शिक्षा, और रोजगार के अधिक अवसर उपलब्ध कराए जा सकते हैं।

श्रीमति स्नेहलता उपाध्याय, पुस्तकालयाध्यक्ष, राष्ट्रीय संस्कृत संस्थान

Yes, women are better than men in respect of mental ability, farsightedness, sincerity, still they are treated as second grade citizens now. They are not getting their due recognition in nation-building. Even in Vedic times, they weren’t treated respectably. Apala can be cited as example, who was abandoned by her husband due to skin disease. Even Gargi was asked to keep shut when Yagyavalkya could not answer her queries. Situation is same even now!

Dr. Raj Kumari Trikha, Former Associate Professor, Sanskrit, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi, Delhi

In this materialistic world those who don’t earn/ have money are looked at as 2nd.

Mrs. Suvarta Vinod, Anandavan Bhakta Samudaya, Institute of Advanced Studies in Veda and Science.

Everything was balanced during Vedic period, but it is only after post Vedic era the misinterpretations of our ancient Indian texts that evolved such thought process in Indian society.

Secondly, It varies from culture to culture –via- family to family in the sense of treating their daughters-in-law, i.e., how families expect their daughter-in-law to behave in particular manner.

Dr. Pankaja Ghai Kaushik, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit, Lady Shree Ram College, University of Delhi, Delhi

भारतीय समाज में सम्बन्धों को महत्व दिया जाता है। ऐसे सामाजिक परिप्रेक्ष्य में महिला का स्थान माँ, बहन, बेटी, और धर्मपत्नी के रूप में सर्वोच्च विदित है। इन सम्बन्धों से वंचित यदि महिला का, या कि किसी और भी वर्ग का, अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय दिवस मनाना भारत में अजूबा सा लगेगा|

प्रोफेसर बलराम सिंह, सदस्य, बोर्ड ऑफ़ डायरेक्टर, वेव्स

Maintaining balance in the society is not a woman’s problem, it’s a national issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced business, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, gender-balance in wealth… Let’s hope this race ends, balance remains with gender equality.

Happy Women’s Day!!

Mrs. Shubha Rawal Wadhawan, Chief communications Officer – IG International pvt. Ltd.

I don’t consider there is a difference between men and women. So first of all there is no need for celebrating International Women’s Day. Is there any International Men’s Day? When you celebrate something like this then you producing yourself as victim. You already give an upper hand to men. In a civilized and sensible society in reality there shouldn’t be difference between men and women. Both have their own limitations biologically, physically and mentally. We should know each other limitations and respect similar to a normal Indian family. Once we understand this we will make a better society.

Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Botulinum Research Center, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

We live in a patriarchal society where in male members are given more liberty and decision making choices. It’s a woman who is expected to change her surname after marriage. It’s a woman who is expected to take care of cooking, cleaning, etc. It’s a woman who works even on holidays. There is no holiday for women. It’s a woman who is expected to take care of family and children after marriage. They are made to do work both inside and outside their homes. It’s just because women are not given a friendly environment to show their talents. The problem lies in our education system and Indian values. Women are still not given adequate education. Even the text books we read show women doing all the household chores like cooking, cleaning and taking care of men. They don’t depict men doing household work rather men are shown going to work or seeking leisure in their free time. Our Indian family values also don’t support a woman standing hand in hand with her male partner. From the very initial stages girls are taught to walk properly, dress properly, keep themselves presentable. The in-laws also expect their daughter-in-law to look after the entire family needs. Even in case of major decision making events the opinion of women is kept as second choice and the ultimate decisions are still taken by male members. Even in job sectors more preference is given to male members keeping less job opportunities to women.

Ms. Tanya Kumra, Accounts Assistant, Shreeram World School, Delhi

I always believe that women are same as the men. When I was a child my MAA always fulfilled my dreams, when my family faced economic problem my elder sister has been there to support me, and now when I  face ups and down in my life  my wife becomes my strength. My supervisor (Prof. Rani Majumdar), my well wishers like Prof. Shashi mam, Dr. Aparna Dhir di and many more always teach me, support me and advise me. They all are women. Therefore how can I believe women are second in Indian society? For me without these women I (men) am incomplete!!!

Kisi ne Kya khoob kaha

Soch ko badlo sitare badal jayenge/

Nazar ko badlo nazareyin badal jayenga/

kastiyan badal ne ke zaroorat nehin hai/

dishayein badlo kinare khud badal jayenge.

Mr. Tahasin Mondal, Research scholar, Department of Sanskrit, AMU, Aligarh, U.P

I don’t think women are considered second in the society. I think there is no society without women. Women are the ones who is giving birth to a child, upbringing the child and making of a future citizen. So in short women only are shaping the thoughts, values and the culture of the society. Whatever a woman teaches a child goes on for generations!! Women are also the biggest strength of a man! A woman who is strongly supporting a man that man is definitely successful in all spheres of life. In Ramayana, it is said man and woman are two wheels of the same chariot, if somehow one wheel breakdown the chariot automatically stop. So, both have to be strong to move in the sphere of life. It is just that every individual has to play his role in life. It is not about 1st or 2nd. I think it is about how efficiently you play your role in life, the tasks assigned to you, your duties towards your people and of course yourself too! It is definitely not about 1st or 2nd at least in today’s times. All the things have to go hand in hand for the smooth running of one’s life.

Mrs. Neeti Chawla, Housewife, Delhi

“As women, we have super powers. We are sisters. We are healers. We are mothers. We are goddess warriors”

It’s International Women’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate the cultural, social, economic and political achievements of women. It’s a day to remind ourselves why women are so amazing. They are the ones who are responsible for bringing new lives to existence. There’s no field where women are lagging behind men. It’s a day to be cherished… Happy Women’s Day to all the lovely ever smiling faces no matter what comes.

Mrs. Shagufa Afzal, Principal, Kuruom Vidayalaya, U.P.

In the modern era, Indian women are no more lacking behind men. They are equally capable and talented in all the fields, e.g., doctors, teachers, astronauts, etc. But still in some places Indian women have not got the equality as men due to religious or orthodox thoughts which need to be changed by giving proper education and awareness.

Mrs. Ankita Dhir, Teacher, K.R. Mangalam World School, Delhi

In present time, Indian women doing their empowerment and society also demand for Equality. The fearless woman today raises her voice against harassment like “MeToo Campaign”.

Mr. Yogendra Bhardwaj, Research Fellow, Sanskrit, JNU, Delhi

The Indian woman has to make her way through all the social prejudices against her, and the men yet have to allow and accept the women to be equal participants in the country’s way forward.

Mrs. Rajni Bhalla, Teacher, DAV Public School, Delhi

In my point of view women are considered to be an integral part of the Indian family and society. They are not given secondary status as we can see in our families or around us in the society.

Ms. Anuja Sinha, Director and Anchor, TCN Media

भारत में आज भी स्त्री का स्थान दूसरे नंबर पर है क्योंकि भारतीय समाज पुरुषों के द्वारा ही संचालित होता रहा है और कहीं ना कहीं स्त्रियां स्वयं भी जिम्मेदार हैं| उन्हें स्वयं को उपभोग की वस्तु के दायरे से बाहर निकलना होगा| वैचारिक रूप से स्वतंत्र होना पड़ेगा|

डॉ. सुषमा चौधरी, अध्यापक, संस्कृत, कमला नेहरू महाविद्यालय, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

The position and status of women in society has been changing from time to time. In Vedic India, woman was considered like a goddess. With time, the position of women received a set- back. But in modern context, women no longer depend on others. Education has raised her status. She holds equal status in society.

Ms. Suruchi Sharma, Teacher, Modern Public School

हिन्दू संस्कृति को जीवंत रखने का श्रेय नारी को ही है। नारी को परिवार का हृदय और प्राण कहा जाता है – न गृहं गृहमित्याहु गृहिणी गृहं उच्यते ।

श्री विकास शर्मा, तदर्थ अध्यापक, संस्कॄत, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

Women are a perfect combination of strength and beauty. 

Happy Women’s Day !!

Mrs. Rekha Khandelwal, Housewife, Mumbai

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

Continued from Part-II

-Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Festivals during Māgh, Fālgun, Chaitra and Vaiśkha:

Mahāśivrātrī: This festival is celebrated on the 14th day of Kriśna Pakṣa in Māghmās. This is celebrated with great pomp and glory at twelve Jyotirlinga places i.e. Kedarnāth, Baidyanath, Kashi Vishwanath, Somnath, Mallikarjuna,  Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar, Nageshwar, Ghrishneshwar, Tryambakeshwar, Bhimashankar, and Rameshwar. When the twelve Jyotirlingas come for discussion, I must mention their importance for Suvrushti Projects. “Suvrushti’ means ideal, adequate and well-distributed rainfall. The inspirational Research Paper which has been the basis of Suvrushti Pojects undertaken by Vedāśram; was the paper submitted by a primary teacher from Bihar in 1950 to our then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The summary findings of this research paper was that Twelve Jyotirlingas are the Holy Fire Places (nodal centres of Sacred Fires) which attract and accelerate the Monsoon Cycles in Bhārat Khand i.e. India. If a series of Somayāgas are performed during dry season (Rain Conception Period) at these twelve Jyotirlinga places, Bhārat Varsha will get Suvrushti-timely, adequate and well-distributed rainfall during wet season throughout the country. This theory and RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir were validated during the Suvrushti Projects undertaken by Vedāśram in 2005-06 and 2015-16. The reports of these Suvrushti Projects have been published in Asian Agri-History Journal published by Asian Agri –History Foundation.

On the day of Mahāśivrātrī in the ceremonial pūjās, Devas are invited, Śiva is invited, Yajñā is performed. Offerings are made with chants and devotional songs. Rudra Swahakars are performed at most of the places. At our Homa farm we also organize” Rudra SwahakarYajñās” periodically but not necessarily on Mahāśivrātrī Day.

“Rudra Swahakar”Yajñā being performed at the Farm

Holī: On the full moon day of Fālgun, Holī is celebrated throughout India. Holī has religious, philosophical, spiritual and seasonal significance. In India, the Agri-eco production system has basically two cropping patterns in a year i.e. Kharip crops and Rabbi crops. Kharip crops mature during Aświn-Kārtik (Oct. /Nov.) and Rabbi crops mature during Fālgun to Vaiśkha (Jan. to April). It is our Vedic tradition that new produce of crops is first offered to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā which are the main sources of cosmic energy and then we start having it as food to nurture the life bio-energy within us.  In Sanskrit the word ‘Holak’ means raw (just reaching maturity stage) cereals and grams roasted in bonfires of dry cow-dung patties, wood and grass stalks (remains from the fields). Holī as a colourful festival has significance in many ways. The first and foremost is the process of Yajñā. Holy Bonfires are lit and offerings of sweets and snacks prepared from new season’s crops are made to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā. Incense sticks and lamps are lit and sacred fires, which represent success of good over evil, are circumambulated thrice with slow pouring of water from the containers. The next day is celebrated as “Dhulīvandana” where, ’Bhūmi’ or ‘Prithvī’ is recognized and appreciated. From Dhulīvandana to Rang Panchami it is celebrated as a colourful festival representing colours of spring flowers and nature’s beauty and bounty. It is a joyful festival of throwing on or smearing others with colours without any discrimination. In the bonfires, old furniture, dead wood, prunnings of trees and waste material of crops are burnt as and by way of “Holikā Dahan” for “Space Clearance” (discarding old and welcoming new).

From Puraṇas, one story which is associated with “Holikā Dahan” is the story of Bhakta Pralhād and ‘Dhundha’ or ‘Holikā’ Hiranyakashyapu’s sister. Holikā had a boon that she will not get burnt in fire i.e. she had protection from fire. Hiranyakashyapu, the Rakṣasa was against the worship of Lord Vishnu by his own son Pralhād. Since Bhakt Pralhād was not ready to give up worship of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyapu ordered that Pralhād be burnt alive. For that purpose he made Holikā to take Pralhād in her lap and lit a big fire. But with the grace of Lord Vishnu Pralhād was saved and Holikā got burnt into the fire, thus representing the success of virtue over vice.

Jyotir bhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, the founder and author of, “Kālnirṇaya Panchāng” (published in many Indian Languages) describes in his book, “Dharmbodh” a ‘Vrita’ or ’Anuṣṭān’ (practice) called “ Vanhi Vrita” which is related to Agnihotra / Yajñā. Vanhi Vrita is started on the 14th day of Fālgun Kriśna Pakṣa or one day prior to Fālgun Amāvasyā. On this day an idol of Agni made from any metal or five metals is worshipped and offered cow-ghee, til (sesame seeds) and sugar with mantra, “Agnaye Swaha!”. Agni is worshipped because Agni is the connecting link between man and Devatās like Indra, Varun, Ādi Śakti, Lord śiva and Vishnu. During Holī all elements i.e. Prithvī, Āp, Teja, Vāyu are worshipped and readiness is made for celebration of the fifth element,’ Ākāś’ on the following first day of Chaitra i.e.’ Gudi Padava’ by hoisting well decorated/adorned Gudis or flags pointing towards Ākāś’or Space, which is the mother of all other elements, for auguring well the  “ New Year” as per Hindu Calendar.

Rāmnavamī Navrātra: This is celebrated as birth-day of Lord Rāma. In some parts of the country Yajñās like, “Vishnu Yāga” are performed.

Akśaya-Tritīya/Paraśurām Jayantī: Akśaya-Tritīya is supposed to be an auspicious day as per Hindu calendar. On this day also some Yajñās/ Homas are performed. Lord Paraśurām had initiated Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj of Akkalkot Maharashtra, to rejuvenate the Vedic Yajñā system and also the Vedic Way of Life. Followers of Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj perform Havans on this day while celebrating Paraśurām Jayantī.

Vedic Yajñā System and Festivals based on the concept of Yajñā:

Our Vedic Yajñā System broadly consists of Yajñā  performances during “Sandhi Kāl” or “Sankraman Kāl” as Nityakarmas for restoration of atmospheric order, ecological and seasonal balance and ensuring Suvrushti  i.e. good, adequate and well–distributed rains –“ निकामे निकामे न पर्जन्यो वर्षतु-“ “Nikame Nikame Nah ParjanyoVarśatu!”. Apart from these Yajñās there are various Naimittik or Kāmya Yajñās which are prescribed in Vedic system including Homas and Havans which form part of Sixteen Hindu Sanskāras. The Yajñā System for ecological balance, good rains etc. consists mainly of the following :

  1. Agnihotra (Smārta/ Shrouta)— ‘ Nitya’ Daily at the time of sunrise and sunset as per circadian cycle.
  2. Darshya-Poorna Māsya (Smārta/ Shrouta Eshti )— ‘Nitya’ Fortnightly  on Full-Moon/ New Moon Day as per Moon Cycle.
  3. Chaturmāsya Yāga (Shrouta Eshti )—‘Nitya’ during Sandhi Kāl i.e Transition Period of change in Seasons as per Cycle of Seasons. This is also called as Medicinal Homa for healing the Atmosphere.
  4. Somayāgas– ‘Nitya’ during Sharad Ṛtu and during Vasant Ṛtu.” वसंते वसंते ज्योतिस्तोमेन यजत” –“ Vasante Vasante Jyotistomen Yajat!”.
  5. Parjanya Yāga—‘Naimittik’- During Rainy Season when one or two Nakṣatras have gone dry and Bhūmi is “Vrishti Kāmu”, i.e, when the land is desirous of rains for sowing new crops (new life).

( Nitya = Regular ,  Naimittik = Occasional for specific purpose)

From the above it will be clear that Agnihotra can be performed individually by anybody, however for performance of Shrouta Yajñās, particularly so in case of “Sapt Somayāgas”, you require Ritwijas well versed in all Vedas. Our great Rishis had anticipated that if Shrouta Yajñā System gets dwindled or out of practice for whatever reason at least the festivals based on Yajñā Concept will be celebrated by mass-participation; for the purpose of keeping Atmospheric Order and Ecological Balance and also to safeguard cultural traditions. Since Yajñās are related to environmental protection, purification/ restoration of atmospheric order, ecological balance and ensuring good rains during Monsoon Season it is important to understand the relevance of Verse 28 and Verse 30 of Chapter 21 of Brihat Samhitā:

भद्रपदाद्वयविश्र्वाम्बुदेवपैतामहेष्वथर्क्षेषु |

सर्वेष्वृतुषु विवृध्दो गर्भो बहुतोयदो भवति ||२८||

“Bhadrapadādvaya Viśvāmbudeva Paitā Maheṣvathkṣerṣu \

Sarveṣvṛtuṣu Vivṛddho Garbho Bahutoya Do Bhavati  \\28\\

The Rain-foetus that develops when the Moon stands in any of the five asterisms viz. Purvabhādra, Uttarabhādra, Purvaṣadha, Uttaraṣadha and Rohiṇī in any season will yield plenty of rain. Also

मृगमासादिश्वष्टौ षट् षौडश विंशतिश्र्चतुर्युक्ता |

विंशतिरथ दिवसत्रयमेकतमर्क्षेण पन्चभ्य: ||३०||

Mṛgamāsādiśvaṣto  Ṣat Ṣodaś Vimśatischaturyuktā |

Vimśatiratha Divasatraya Mekatamarkṣeṇa Panchabhyaḥ ||30||

Rain-foetuses coming into being when the Moon is in conjuction wih any of the aforesaid asterisms during the month of Margaśirṣa, Pauṣya, Māgh, Fālguna, Chaitra and Vaiśakha; will yield rain after 195 days for 8,6,16,24,20 and 3 days respectively.

Thus celebration of and participation in the festivals based on Yajñā concept by masses ensures restoration of Atmospheric Order, Eco-Seasonal balance and good rains during the rainy season. This is the great wisdom and sagacity of our Ṛṣis and Seers in interweaving seamlessly the festivals based on Yajñā concept in our social and cultural life. Therefore these festivals should be celebrated with proper understanding of the Yajñā concept incorporated into them and not simply by way of fun and frolic or introducing any pervert way of celebration. The sanctity of Yajñā, Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā has to be kept in mind in the joyful celebrations of these festivals.

References:

  • Panditabhushan Sastri VS & Bhat MRV, “Varāh Mihir’s Brihat Sanhita” With an English Translation  and Notes . V.B. Soobbiah & Sons Bangalore City.1946.
  • Jyotirbhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, “Dharmbodh” (in Marathi) Jaya Ganesh Mandir  Nyas, Medha Malwan, Dist-Sidhudurga Maharashtra 2011.

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

Disintermediation: The Future of Higher Education (Part II)

(Continued from part-I)

– Sh. Rajiv Malhotra

The single most important trend that is revolutionizing education is information technology, especially the internet. Teaching platforms like the Khan Academy are the wave of the future, not the physical classroom in a brick and mortar building. The old-fashioned teacher is being squeezed out along with the physical classroom. The total cost of higher education in the US is estimated to exceed $500 billion annually, using the old delivery models. Many administrators in major universities are worried that their institutions are becoming like the dinosaurs. A disruption is long overdue and we should see this as an opportunity for creative entrepreneurship. This may be seen as a part of the wider trend in dis-intermediation (bypassing of the middleman) taking place in various industries.

  • The new cloud-based teaching methods are rapidly threatening the old school systems in many ways, such as the following:
  • Huge campuses are becoming obsolete. In the future, the buildings required will be mostly those with laboratories and high-tech infrastructure that cannot become virtual. The ordinary classroom will become almost extinct.
  • Old teaching materials are already obsolete. The teacher’s class notes that were once written on the board or handed out in class are now a waste of time because all that is readily available online. With video conferencing, considerable interaction is also available without physical meetings.
  • This trend will lower tuitions significantly because it is not necessary to hire full-time faculty.
  • This also changes the demand side of university professors and impacts the future of academicians as a profession. Many subject matter experts who are not formally classified as professors will be teaching part-time and sharing their knowledge and practical experience. The old style professor with limited real world experience will be replaced by learned persons who will also bring their lived experience to teach.
  • All this means an end to the ivory tower academic snobbery of the past, in which there was great prestige associated with being a professor disconnected from mundane life. Now the floodgates are opening for teaching that is brought by knowledgeable individuals who are embedded within communities and who also speak as voices of the community.
  • Higher education will be a lifelong pursuit and not limited to a few years of college/university. Most workers will take online courses as a regular part of staying current with the trends in their field. Education will be seen as something you do all your life and for which you do not need necessarily to take several years off.

While the above list of changes pertains to the teaching side of higher education, there are equally revolutionary changes expected in the research side, especially in the humanities. Let us discuss religious studies in the US academy, as an example.

Twenty-five years ago, when I first started monitoring and intervening in the American academic research on Hinduism, the academic fortress was a formidable center of power. To make any impact, it was crucial to get inside the system one way or another. But today, an increasing amount of high quality scholarly works are being published by scholars and practitioners outside the walls of the academic fortress. Many guru movements have their own writings and publishing houses. The new works produced by Hindu movements are not only about standard topics like Bhagavad Gita, but also pertain to issues of society, politics, family, health, etc. Many other groups started by civic society now nurture non-academic research and publishing. These new suppliers are seen as threats to the turf traditionally controlled by the academicians. The academic empire is fighting back, but it is a losing battle. (I am an example of someone seen as a threat to the officially credentialed producers of knowledge about my culture.)

The number of readers who receive their knowledge about religion from sources outside the academy far exceeds the number who are sitting in class to learn from their professor. The American academicians refused to accept this trend during the past two decades when I tried to explain it to them. They were too arrogant to be open to this new reality. The pride of being the exclusive source of knowledge had been instilled in them during their PhD, and was seen as their ticket to success that could never be taken away. This attitude of the senior professors has misguided the new generation of academicians, and made the academic system insular and vulnerable.

Today, most people get their knowledge about religions (their own and those of others) through television, online sources, personal travels to sacred and holy sites, teachings from their gurus and swamis, and reading materials published by non-academic writers. If someone wants to invest in spreading particular ideas about our traditions, the investment is better spent on such platforms and not on feeding the old system which is rapidly becoming obsolete. Instead, they should rethink the dynamics of this intellectual kurukshetra of civilizational discourse. Only then can they develop a more viable strategy for interventions.

Indians have in the past bought used technologies and obsolete models in certain industries, at a time when the Western countries exporting these were migrating to new paradigms. I feel many of us are being fooled into investing in what is rapidly becoming an obsolete model of higher education.

Instead of funding American higher education’s pre-internet era system, India should develop the next generation platforms. And India should not be content with a back-office role in this emerging industry, but should develop and own the brands seen by the end users (i.e. the students). Besides developing the platforms and delivery systems, Indians should also lead in content development and educational methodology, especially in areas where traditional Indian systems would give us a competitive advantage.

There are also examples where unethical opportunism is driving the disintermediation. For example, China is disintermediating the R&D centers of the West by stealing intellectual property. They take the lead in implementing others’ discoveries. We can argue about the ethics, but this is a ground reality shaping our world. The examples of disintermediation I am proposing in education are perfectly ethical and should be seen as natural evolution. The age of disintermediation is upon us. It is important to ride this wave rather than avoid it out of fear or ignorance.

– Sh. Rajiv Malhotra, Member, Board, WAVES-USA

Disintermediation: The Future of Higher Education (Part-I)

– Sh. Rajiv Malhotra

When I was consulting for AT&T, British Telecom and other IT giants in the 1980s on futuristic strategies, I used the term “disintermediation” to mean getting rid of intermediaries in various industries. The new technology would enable tech companies to replace the middlemen in a variety of fields. I argued that travel agents, stock brokers, record labels, book publishers, etc. were examples of highly vulnerable businesses. Displacing them with tech platforms presented great opportunities for my clients.

At that time, such ideas were considered too far out, but it made a lucrative consulting career for me to dish out path-breaking propositions for very large MNCs. They had virtually unlimited money to spend on exploring futurist ideas. Today, these ideas are considered established and even old school. Not only have the above mentioned intermediaries become obsolete, one can also see the same trend of disintermediation in retailing (i.e., Amazon), taxis (i.e., Uber), e-learning (i.e., education), to name a few.

One of my predictions for disintermediation that has not (yet) come true is politics. I had predicted that rather than democratic elections taking place every few years, there could be real-time measurement of the pulse of the voters and instant polls to make policies and elect/de-elect politicians. Further, one could envision an artificial intelligence system adapting itself in real time to reflect public opinion and have the authority to govern on some matters – subject to human supervision to avoid over-mechanization or abuse of some kind.

We must first understand how and why “intermediation” came about, before fully understanding dis-intermediation.

In the beginning, producers and consumers lived in close proximity to one another. The village was self-sufficient in many ways, and only certain kinds of products had to be imported from the outside. The industrial revolution changed this. It became more efficient and competitive to have middlemen between producers and consumers. The distance between the points of production and consumption increased and have become global. Distribution channels and supply chains are global today and there are many layers of intermediaries. This trend of globalized supply chains and distribution is likely to increase even further. It gives better resource allocation than the local model of small-scale self-sufficiency.

At the same time, every new wave of technology disrupts the supply chain and distribution channels. This means new opportunities for the creative and enterprising minds will continue to present themselves. My focus in this article is on the way such trends are rapidly disrupting the field of education.

Indians were once upon a time (during the days of Nalanda, Taxashila and other world-class universities) the preeminent producers and exporters of knowledge, ideas and values to the rest of Asia. Now we are consumers of what the Western institutions teach us. We are stuck in a system of dependency so serious that our elites feel they must get certified by the West in order to be credible back home in India. But a window of opportunity has opened up and we cannot afford to miss this chance to take back our leadership role as a knowledge producer and exporter. This window is due to the disruptions caused by the internet.

One of the latest trends in US universities is the growing role of foreigners, including Indians, in the affairs of these universities. First this role was only in the form of foreign students bringing in billions of dollars. Many US academic institutions are financially dependent on foreign students because they cannot meet their expenses through domestic student tuitions alone. An effect of this has been that a large number of Indian elites (both in USA and those returning to India) have been influenced by American values and principles, both good and bad. From the US side, this is not only a great source of tuition fees but also a way to spread its intellectual influence.

A more recent trend is for wealthy Indians to invest in US universities for personal brand building. (See an interesting article, titled, ‘Harvard is a hedge fund with a university attached.’) This is shortsighted and dangerous. Indians are giving grants and endowments to US universities without adequately evaluating the subject matter being produced by the scholars. It’s all about wealthy Indians seeking a seat at the high table of prestige in American society. They see their family name on a building or attached to an academic chair as their next step in climbing the social ladder. Few donors get sufficiently involved in the details of the subject matter and the impact that is being created by their donation.

A major contrast between India and China in this regard is that China retains strict control over the disciplines pertaining to its civilization, values, domestic politics and culture. They readily buy (or use unscrupulous means to acquire) Western science, technology and business knowhow. But they do not want to brainwash their youth with Western prejudices in areas of the humanities that are considered sensitive to the interest of national unity and security. India has not been able to appreciate this strategic point even now.

Against this backdrop, I want donors to understand some tectonic trends that are taking place in US higher education which are rapidly making brick and mortar university campuses obsolete. I wish to advise those giving donations to US academic institutions to step back and rethink their strategies keeping the future trends in mind. Most donations being given are wasteful because they fund obsolete models at a time when they should be funding the incubation of new models.

(to be continued….)

Sh. Rajiv Malhotra, Member, Board, WAVES-USA

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