Connecting with Mā Gangā

Ms. Neera Misra

Introduction

Gangā! The very name creates a sense of sanctity, devotion and reverence. It is the only flowing body of sacred waters whose history of origin through superhuman efforts, has been immortalized in legendary films and arts, and termed Gangā Avtaraṇa or even as Bhāgiratha Prayathna. We get a detailed description of Gangā Avtaraṇa  in Srimad Vālmīki Ramāyana.

कथं गङ्गावतरणं कथं तेषां जलक्रिया….॥ (बालकाण्ड, द्विचत्वारिंश सर्ग ६)

भगीरथस्तु राजर्षिर्धार्मिको…..राज्यं गङ्गावतरणे रत:॥ (वही, ११-१२)

(Source of Image : ‘Gangā Avtaraṇa गङ्गावतरण ‘ – A famous painting by Sh. Raja Ravi Verma

The water deity, identified with ‘makara’ at her feet, brings with it unique power of salvation from sins. It is the spiritual river that has defined Bhārata’s culture and civilization since time immemorial.

The Gangā occupies an unrivalled position among the rivers of the world. No other river is so closely identified with a country as the Gangā is with India’, says Jagmohan Mahajan in Gangā Observed (Foreign accounts of the river). ‘Cities and pilgrimage centers teeming with temples and shrines have sprung up all along its course (milestones in the history of the land and the growth of Indian civilization). The Gangetic plain has indeed been the pole towards which the political, economic and religious life of the country has gravitated’.  Gangā is much more.

‘पतित पावनी जीवनदायनी’ Mā Gangā is integral to us from birth to death. Its water is used at every ceremony for purification, as a charm to ward off evil spirits, sprinkled at weddings over the bride and bridegroom, and dropped into the mouths of the dying, and also serving as a medium for oath taking. Geographer Strabo calls it ‘the largest river’. The English traveller Thomas Coryat, who visited India from 1612 to 1617, has called it ‘the captains of all rivers in the world’.

Yet this water of life and death is not just a naturally existing river as perceived by many. Descending from the heavens as rain, she was created as a channel for human salvation with the vision of Solar Dynasty King Sagara and his five generations of descendants, a task finally accomplished by Bhāgiratha with the blessings of Lord Shiva. Gangā is not just flowing waters but divine waters endowed with unique properties for our ‘mokṣa’. Some scholars believe that our current understanding and approach to ‘river’ is based on European ideas and very different from what ancient seers of Bhārata conceived. Dilip da Cunha, in his book ‘The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Gangā’s Descent‘, (published 2018 November by the University of Pennsylvania) attributes the colonial understanding of river and banks, the separation of land and water, to be derivative from Alexander’s concept and ancient Greek cartography. He explains ‘Although Alexander the Great never saw the Ganges, he conceived of it as a flowing body of water, with sources, destinations, and banks that marked the separation of land from water. This Alexandrine view of the river, as per Dilip da Cunha ‘has been pursued and adopted across time and around the world.

Dilip da Cunha, indirectly agrees with the Vedic view that Gangā descended from heavens, when he argues that ‘the articulation of the river Ganges has placed it at odds with Gangā, a “rain terrain that does not conform to the line of separation, containment, and calibration that are the formalities of a river’ He explains  that ‘What we take to be natural features of the earth’s surface, according to da Cunha, are products of human design’, thus again authenticating the ‘itihāsa’ of Sagar and Bhāgiratha.

In the 4th century BC, Megasthenes came from Greece as ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, leaving the first detailed account of India by a foreign visitor. He noted that the Indians worshipped the rain-bringing Zeus (Indra), the Gangā River and local deities. The Arthashastra of Kautilya mentions that ‘during drought shall Indra, the Gangā, mountains and Mahakachha (sea or ocean) be worshipped. Textual references prove that the Gangā is actually channeled rainwater (Ṛgveda 1.32.11-12).

इन्द्रो यद् वॄत्रमवधीन्नदी….| (ॠग्वेद १.५२.२)

Mysterious purifying powers

Gangā that we revere is the very special living divine liquid energy with mysterious purifying properties. This unique and mystifying trait of the Gangā has intrigued modern scientists for long but till date none have succeeded in decoding the Gangā’s spiritual powers.

Mark Twain notes that a scientist named Mr. Henkin, who was employee of the government of Agra, concluded experiments to examine the water. He went to Banāras for his tests and took water from the mouths of the sewers where they empty into the river at the bathing-ghāts; Tests revealed that a cubic centimeter of it contained millions of germs; but at the end of six hours they were all dead. He then also caught a floating corpse, towed it to shore, “ … and from beside it he dipped up water that was swarming with cholera germs; at the end of six hours they were all dead’ writes J Mahajan (Virgo Publication, 1994). Repeatedly, he took pure well-water which was barren of animal life, and put into it a few cholera germs, they always began to propagate at once, and always within six hours they swarmed- and were numerable by millions upon millions.

Europeans wondered, as many of us still do, ‘how did they find out the water’s secret in those ancient ages? Had they germ-scientists then? We do not know. We only know that they had a civilization long before we emerged from savagery’ (Mark Twain: Following the Equator, 1897).

(Source of image : ‘Devprayāg’ where the Bhāgirathi joins Alakhnandā to form Gangā. Image courtsey by Sh. Abhay Mishra)

This most telling image from Devprayāg distinctly shows here two flowing water bodies of very different colors. It is pertinent to note that this is the sacred place of the ‘divine confluence’ (Devprayāg) of two rivers that join together, creating Gangā’s emergence as the single flow towards the plains. Also, that the chemical properties of such contrasting waters will be different is clear to even an ordinary person.

How does the mixture of two or more variant waters, flowing through mineral rich pristine areas, affect the final properties of the Gangā waters that have mysterious purifying qualities? Was this confluence natural or man-made? We know of Panchprayāg (five confluences) at Uttarākhand. Waters descend crossing through Vishnuprayāg (DhauliGangā-Alakhnandā), Nandprayāg (Alakhnandā-Nandākinī), Karnaprayāg (Alakhnandā-Pindar) and Rudraprayāg where Alakhnandā meets Mandakinī.

What is the significance of the name ‘Devprayāg’ as ancient seers named people or places with certain symbolic identifications? Where or what is the initial source of the mystical properties of Gangā waters? We know that – Gangā water is always sacred as germs do not develop in it. Gangā water is always pure. It has medicinal properties in it. This drinking water has divine traits as stated in ancient texts –

शं नो देवीरभिष्टय आपो भवन्तु पीतये शं योरभि स्रवन्तु न:। (ॠग्वेद १.९.४)

Germ free pure water is also mentioned –

यथोदकं शुद्धे शुद्धमासिक्तं तादृगेव भवति। (कठोपनिषद् २.१.१५)

It is notable that where the Gangā waters fall on Hemkunt as spring,  gold particles are found there. In several places in the Gangā valley there is a tradition to strain gold particles. This gold is called ‘Gangāye’ Periplus mentions this.

Gangā is called the ‘Das Pāpa Hara Devī’ as she provides solution for ten problems. Gangā Daśera is festival celebrated in recognition of Gangā’s power of washing away ten ‘Pāpa’ or sins (sin means problems). It is also mentioned by Bhojrāj (Rajmartand) [quoted in गङ्गा नदी : उद्भव एवं देवत्व – एक सांस्कृतिक यात्रा, presented by Prof. Deen Bandhu Pande, at Draupadi Dream Trust Gangā Conference, 6th Dec 2018, Delhi]. Was course of waters having divergent properties chartered to form the miracle water?

Rajnīkānt describes the ten traits of Gangā, by which it helps us keep away problems. These ten natural qualities of Gangā are –

1. शीतत्वम्, 2. स्वादुत्वम्,  3. स्वच्छत्वम् ,  4.  अत्यन्तरुचत्वम् , 5. पत्थ्यत्वम्, 6. पावनत्वम्  7. पापहारित्वम्,  8. तृष्णामोहध्वंसनत्वम् 9. दीपत्वम्, 10. प्रज्ञाधारित्वम्.

As the British interests in India increased, they also started exploring its natural resources. Gangā, Yamuna, Brahmaputra and other rivers originating from the Himalayas attracted their attention, during 1800s and early part of 1900s. British surveyors surveyed these rivers comprehensively, and Sir William Willcox, the Director General of Irrigation of India has, in his book, shows his understanding of high standards of ancient documentations. He writes that Indian ancient writers wrote about physical facts in a spiritual manner. Regarding the rivers he states that every flow which went southwards whether, big as the Bhagirathi or not, originally started as a canal and that these canals were lined out, dug and placed just at the distance that canals should be placed. Sir William Willcox reasons that Gangā or the River Bhāgirathī was a canal constructed by our ancient visionaries. The bringing of the Gangā from the heights of Meru to the plains of India would be the greatest accomplishment of engineering in India, or even in human history.

Divine water

What is the mystery of this Divine water?

Modern scientists are gradually realising the science of Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga and even ‘ritual fasting, but will take many decades, if not centuries, to unlock all the secrets unearthed by our ancient seers. Knowledge of our Rishi’s came through centuries of penance by understanding and connecting with nature. They unravelled the depths of ‘vijñāna’ and planned for welfare of humanity.

The gospel of preventive medicine and science of life ‘Ayurveda’ is the ‘Charak Samhitā’ which means research by travelling to various parts of the land. It was not commercial exploitation as Vedic dharma is based on the principles of

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद् दुःख भाग्भवेत्।।

Gangā too was channeled from heavenly waters for the welfare of mankind. It is the perfect blend of nature and culture for social engineering the welfare of a civilization that believed in divine nature of man, nature and all earthy beings.

Gangā Mā is a marvelous gift of visionary King Sagara, dedicated efforts of his 60,000 population and sons Anshumān, Dilipa and especially Bhāgiratha, who is immortalized through Bhāgirathī river which joins Alakhnandā at Devprayāg, to finally form the Gangā we know.

Since time immemorial Mother Gangā is flowing through our heartlands and we use her pure waters for all our holy rituals. But in this auspicious Śrāvan māsa we pay special tribute to the heavenly Divine Gangā. People travel for days, covering thousands of miles up the mountains to bring the freshest waters of Gangā river to pour on Lord Shiva, thanking him for blessing us by bringing Mā Gangā to us mortals. It is like a thanksgiving celebration, so integral to our sanskriti.

Jai Mā Gange!

Om Namay Shivāye!

Ms. Neera Misra, Independent scholar on Vedic and Mahābhārata Heritage, Chairperson-Trustee Draupadi Dream Trust

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

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

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