Friday, September 15, 2017

Cassini – created for Saturn, offered to Saturn!

Anything that has a beginning will have an end too. Cassini, the brainchild of mankind found its end an hour ago. It was a touching to hear the Cassini team bidding farewell to their creation that they followed meticulously for nearly 20 years.

For me, this moment of plunge of Cassini into Saturn is a reminder of the Vedic mantras. In the Vedic yajnas we make offerings to a specific deity in order to invoke the blessings of that deity. The offerings come first and then only the blessings follow. In the case of Cassini, Cassini received all about the Saturn in the first instance and finally gave itself as an offering to Saturn – swaha.

Shanaischarāya swāha/ shanascharāya idam na mama//

This was created for Saturn, was offered to Saturn. This is for Saturn, not for us! 
In the process, Saturn revealed itself to mankind through this that was offered.

For the scientific community, the gains have been tremendous through this probe.

For the Vedic culture too, there are gains. Three major revelations were gained from this probe which I have discussed in the past.

One is the knowledge about what actually the ‘exaltation of a planet’ means. Cassini probe showed that Sun’s northern sojourn on Saturn coincided with the time Saturn is supposed to move towards its exaltation (in Libra) in the astrological sense.

Saturn, due to its tilt like the earth is experiencing seasonal changes, with the movement of direct sunlight from north to south and south to north. North is auspicious in Vedic culture. The exaltation period of Saturn coinciding with Sun in the northern hemisphere of Saturn is a valuable and a surprising input for us. Without Cassini probe we would not have known this. I am tempted to extend this logic for other planets too, for their exaltation and debilitation signs though I am yet to come across corroboratory information from scientific probes to other planets.

The second revelation for us is the amazing formation of a hexagon on the North pole of Saturn, pictured by Cassini.

The hexagon is the basic design of the Yantra of Saturn upon which 2 triangles are inscribed one on each other. The same pattern can be formed in the above picture of Saturn’s hexagonal design captured by Cassini. It is shown below.

What we see as a result is the Yantra of Saturn!

As far as I know the Yantra of Saturn with this image is directly worshiped as a deity (Saturn) only in Tamilnadu in a temple at Thiru Erikkuppam near Arni, in Tiruvannamalai district. This is inscribed on a stone and dated 500 years ago.

The design of the Yantra concurring with the polar design of Saturn is really an amazing finding from the Cassini probe.

The third revelation is the discovery of hydrocarbons in Titan (satellite of Saturn) by Cassini. This raises scope for formation of pre-biotic like chemical substances in Titan sometime in a distant future. In other words Saturn’s satellite houses seeds of future life! 

Mosaic of Titan from Cassini's Feb 2005 fly-by. 

This is an amazing discovery from Vedic point of view, as Prajapati, the progenitor of life and living things has been assigned to lord over Saturn in the Nakshtra Sooktha of Yajur Veda!

Today life is present in Bhu loka (earth). As everything has to come to an end, life will come to an end sometime on earth. This can re-phrased as –  anything created, has to come to an end, earth would come to an end – not LIFE!

Life is what exists always. We can’t create nor destroy Life. Life exists in its subtle form everywhere, but when circumstances become conducive, it gets manifest. There is a continuity of life from one phase to another or one stage to another. When Life’s presence on earth comes to an end, it has to move on and continue elsewhere. Perhaps from the same solar system, it might find a host in Titan and progress along with the flow and evolve someday in another space and time of the Universe.
Cassini’s core molecules were digested by now by Saturn, but its legacy has left a trail in our minds too.

Related articles:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can Cholas be compared with Mughals?

No one in the know of Chola history could ever think of comparing their greatness with Mughal rule, but not so with those who know only the Mughal rule. Such a horrendous comparison was done by Devi Yasodharan whose world view of history is shaped by American TV shows and knowledge of Indian history, by online search.
I came to know about her through a tweet on her article promoting her book in Hindustan Times.

What she has written in the article is something called “Vanja-pugazhchi ani” in Tamil grammar – i.e., seeming to praise someone while actually demeaning them or pulling them down. She has treated Cholas and also Sangam age Tamils in a demeaning way in her articles published in other magazines around the same time, in the guise of promoting her book. Some of the incorrigibles in her writings are given below.

Her worst ever write-up has appeared in Huffington post under the caption “From Tortoise Meat To Roasted Peppery Goat, The Cholas Of South India Revelled In Feasting”. I am sure anyone from Tamilnadu, or in the know of Tamil’s past would be appalled at reading this title and can anticipate the material written under.

She is concentrating on Cholas of the medieval period – particularly Rajendra Chola. They are ‘cool kids’ and foodies. She thinks that it is fun writing about their food habits and recipes. The issue is she is bringing out these aspects in a ‘historical’ fiction where she wants to be historically correct in portraying the scenes. Is she correct in her portrayals?  What is the cool stuff she has got to say about the people under Rejendra Chola?

They were a society fond of alcohol and good food. Feasts thrown by kings ended with a happy, drunk populace, and included meat, fruit and liquor that was "strong like an enraged snake".
This is not from Rajendra Chola period but from Porunar Arrup Padai dedicated to Karikala Chola. Karikala Chola belongs to Sangam age which is more than 1000 years before Rajendra Chola’s time. A gap of 1000 years is too big and lot of improvements in life style take place within that time.

Her focus is on 11th century Chola empire which is better known for agricultural food production. The adage is “Chola Naadu Sorudaitthu” ( Chola land is known for food – the cultivated variety). Kudanthai (Kumbakonam) and Tanjore are well attested in the hymns of Alwars as prosperous centres of food production. Tanjore continues to be regarded as the granary of South India. One cannot show a single inscription on the Cholas of this period feasting on exotic recipes of animal food.

But she portrays the 11th century port of Nagappatinam as “a city that had street food with plenty of choices, from duck eggs and goat meat cooked out in the open to more varied options, including roasted nuts, sweet jaggery rolls, rice cakes and crackers”. So her heroine is a like a modern day girl, walking down the street munching something bought in one of the shops – something unseen even in today’s Nagappatinam streets.

The best parallel to street scenes of olden days is found in Silappadhikaram - in Pumpukar of Chola kingdom. This text gives a good picture of the entire city. The street scenes that Devi Yasodharan imagines are only restricted to ‘Maruvur Pakkam’ – the region allotted for traders, foreigners and sellers. All kinds of things are sold here, including the animal food. But Silappadhikaram mentions the sale of animal products in just two lines at the most, while mentioning about sale of other products in many lines. This shows the number or proportion of meat traders in comparison with traders of other goods. In any society meat eaters are there and they were there in Chola’s country too. But to concentrate only on that part as if the entire society is fond of exotic animal food is a misnomer.

What she is portraying is actually found in Sangam age texts, like Perum Panarrup padai and Porunar Arrup padai. Only these two texts describe in detail the kind of food prepared in every region on the way. But these two texts stand apart as a kind of travel- advice to fellow bards who are hesitant to undertake an arduous journey through tough topographies. They are poor and have to walk all the way. These bards convince them to take up the journey by explaining them the route, the habitats on the way, the places of halt, the hospitality of the people and the kind of food available to them.

Their narration shows that one can expect sea food in coastal habitats. When one crosses forests, one gets food made from hunted animals.  When one crosses the habitat of cowherds (Ayar), one is treated with milk and vegetable products only. In the regions where cultivation was the norm, only vegetable foods are mentioned. There is even mention of a Brahmin habitat (in Perum Panaarrup padai) and the food cooked by them. That food continues to be popular in Brahmin households of Tamilnadu even today. The beauty of the narration is that anyone crossing these habitats would be received with affection and offered food that is available with them– in the best sense of Athithi bhojanam. Anyone reading these texts would not miss the narration of how the people used to receive the traveller by calling him or her as son, daughter or father or mother. That is the essence of culture – that existed then. If Devi Yasodharan has brought out this feature in her book, that is real history. But leaving them aside, this author is literally salivating at the recipes of the forest dwellers and hunters of the Sangam age, while describing her novel set in 11th century time period of the Cholas. 

Sangam sources.

The food she has explained in the Huffington Post article is from Sangam texts explained above. She has conveniently assigned them to Rajendra Chola’s times.

For example, she says,

The wandering poets of the Chola empire often were invited into households for a meal, and they used that opportunity to make friends and observe the local culture. In the places they visited, ingredients were modest but exotic: meat from 'short-legged' boars or porcupine, as well as forest fruit and vegetables like bamboo, elephant-foot yam, jackfruit and jamun”.

These scenes appear in Porunar Arrup padai (a Sangam text) on Karikal Chola and in Perum Panarrup padai on Ilam Tirayan of Kanchipuram. The meal of short-legged boar is found in Perum Panarrup padai, in the kingdom of Ilam Tirayan, in a place called ‘Pattinam’ near a coastal habitat called ‘Neer-p-peyar’. The elephant-foot yam and jackfruits were offered in farms that are found inland and occupied by agriculturists. There is no mention of animal food in that habitat.

She continues to describe as follows:

Fatty pieces of porcupine are from animals 'killed by female dogs'. The poet sits in the same courtyard where these dogs are leashed, waiting for the meal. He watches the women mix the meat with sweet tamarind and buttermilk, admires them for their beauty.”

This is also a mixed-up narration from Ilam Tirayan’s country and not Chola’s country – definitely not Rajendra Chola’s country.

Towards the end of that article she mentions about a recipe made of “avarai beans (broad country beans), cooked in tamarind gravy”. This is also found in Ilam Tirayan’s country and not in Chola’s land.


Another obsession of hers is liquor. She attributes the narration found in Sangam texts to Rejendra Chola’s period. There are 48 synonyms for liquor in Tamil thesaurus (Chudamani Nigandu), but they are not like the liquor of present times. They were all largely restricted to a different age, i.e., the Sangam period. From Sangam texts we come to know that only women prepared and sold liquor. This gave them the name “Pazhaiyar Magalir”. Pazhaiyar means old, here it refers to old stuff that was allowed to ferment. The preparation methods are given in some texts like Porunar Arrup padai and one can prepare them to check if they are same as present day liquor.

Comparison with Mughals.

More than all these, what shocks me most is her comparison of Cholas with Mughals! Comparison or analogy is indeed an easy way to explain who Cholas were and what type of people they were. But the comparison done by Devi Yasodharan shows what type of person she is and how far one can take her for granted when it comes to intellectual stuff.

The Hindustan Times article quoted in the tweet begins with exposing her knowledge of great empires of India. According to her Mughal empire comes first as the great empire. How did she come to this conclusion?  Elsewhere in the same article we get an answer for this. It is through an online search of what she calls – ‘a decidedly unscientific search online for Mughal related books’ through which she found 2000 titles on Mughals. She allows herself to be carried away by those books developed in the 60 plus years of leftist narration of Indian history but bemoans on actual records of Cholan period from academic texts (perhaps supported by epigraphy) – as something not “written with an eye to the crowd”.

History is not written with an eye on the crowd. Devi Yasodharan is free to write anything with an eye on the crowd, but she should not have taken up history for background, by meddling up with facts. Chola history is something imprinted in the minds of Tamil readers by writer Kalki whose book Ponniyin Selvan is a real historical novel in which history was not twisted even a bit but presented well with an imagined story. As one who has not even known the Mughal history, her treatment of Cholan history and comparing it with Mughal history is a bad joke. Finding them published in magazines like Huffington Post is crudest joke of all.

The best (or the worst) part of her knowledge is seen in the Hindustan Times article wherein she compares the Cholan architecture with Mughal architecture. She thinks that

The spectacular Chola bronzes are semi-nude human figures, with sensuous curves and slender limbs. The art of the Mughals have, on the other hand, restraint as a key feature”.  

Typical of one who has no knowledge about rules of architecture that has gone into making temples and the various sculptures, she finds “emphasis on human beauty, turning the gods too into erotic human sculpture”.  She goes to the extent of saying that “the (Cholan) queens had their likenesses carved in temples in the form of goddesses — slender and elegant, royal and divine” in The Hindu article. Can she show evidences for these claims?

It is only from her we come to know that Cholan kings were protected by women body guards – who even accompanied them in war -fields to safe guard them!  Leave alone the Chola king – even a soldier of that time period would commit suicide on hearing this portrayal like this. For the first time I am coming across a claim like this on Cholan kings. There is no such reference in Sangam texts or even to Medieval Cholas. I wonder on what basis she is making these claims.

I have doubts about her sources as I can see that she thinks, the text Perum Kathai is reflective of Tamil society. Perum Kathai  is originally a story set in North India (Ujjain and Magadha) with North Indian characters (Udayana is the hero) but written in Tamil as a secondary text by a Jain ascetic, only to prove that Jains were capable of writing on mundane and love life. The clever woman, acting as a peace maker in Perum Kathai, that Devi has mentioned in The Hindu article , was not of Tamil origin.
To top this all, she concludes in her Hindustan Times article with an imagination of what if a Chola and a Mughal meet each other. She writes,

The Mughal aghast at the Chola’s taste for strong alcohol, perhaps, and for any kind of meat that can be killed with arrows or caught by dogs, for his love of raucous, public dances, and the women with their bare legs and arms.

And the Chola might rub his chin in bemusement at the Mughal, who is wearing a turban that makes him sweat in the summer, who opens up his chess board when it’s such a nice day out; baffled at his cultural restrictions of everything fun, watching him as he hastily diverts his eyes from the beautiful girls”.

What a distortion of facts! This is the best commentary – self commentary on what she knows and what one can expect from her. In her article (here) she compares Chola kings with her favourite TV (American) show, the ‘Game of Thrones’. It shows how serious she is about the facts of history. It is unfortunate that such a person was the speech writer of Narayana Murthy! But then is Narayana Murthy ever known as a best speaker? Perhaps we know the reason now!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rainfall check - 7 (September 2017)

Previous articles:-

Almost half way through the rainfall season, two rainfall supportive features have emerged as reliable ones, that were outlined earlier and subject to observation.
(1) The Megha and Meghadipati of the Year.

These two were discussed in the 1st article of this series. The Megha for the current year is Kāḷa megha and Meghadhipati is Mercury.

From the 1st  article posted on 26th December, 2016 :-

So far, rainfall in most parts of India had come from Kāḷa megha formation of clouds. Tamilnadu in particular received rainfall from this kind of Megha (Thunder shower). Mercury as the Meghadhipati of the current year plays supportive role for Kāḷa megha.

Inference:- When Megha and Meghadhipati concur with each other, the feature (rainfall or lack of it) indicated by them becomes the general feature of the overall rainfall scenario.  

(2) Venus- Mercury closeness.

When these two planets move towards each other there had been a spurt in rainfall. The periods of closeness for this year was posted on 27th Dec 2016, in this link.

Now that we are in the third round of such closeness, we can expect good rainfall based on the past experience from the former two periods

Within this period, the planetary based rainfall supportive periods was posted on the same article on 27th December, 2016.

The following is taken out from that article:-

Inference:- Venus – Mercury closeness  is an unmistakable feature which this writer cross-with past data. Rainfall could have occurred in the absence of this closeness. But this closeness had ensured rainfall.

The astrological feature to be tested in September 2017.

Venus is the foremost planet coming to the aid of rainfall. Whenever it is moving ahead of Mercury and Sun, it is supposed to give plentiful rainfall. But this year it is behind these two for most part. However, a specific location of Venus in certain stars is supposed to give plentiful rainfall. This feature is going to appear in September and continue for some time.  This is the first time in my personal observation since last year, this feature is coming up and I hope it comes out true.

Venus in the Eastern sky transiting Magha, Purva Phalguni, Uttara Phalguni, Hasta and Chithrai gives plentiful rainfall. This begins on 15th September and ends on 8th November 2017.

Till the end of year, Venus is going to be behind the Sun. Between 5th and 9th of January 2018, it is going to cross the Sun after more than a year. In a rainy season this could give heavy rains. But this feature coming in January makes me think that it would trigger heavy fog. Cloudy days observed in August (Tamil month of Avani) correspond to this period. The upcoming year could very start with cold and foggy nights. Places in Europe and the USA could experience heavy snowfall right from the middle of December 2017, when Venus- Mercury closeness begins.

Coming to the topic of this article:-

Rainfall supportive features in September:-

(1) Venus- Mercury closeness between 27th August to 8th October.

With Mercury in retrogression, these two planets seem to be moving towards each other. On 1st September they are 22 degrees apart. This gap narrows down up to 10 degrees on 14th September, after which they start drifting apart (due to end of retrogression of Mercury). By the end of the month the distance is 19 degrees which is within supportive range.

(2) Venus in the eastern sky in Magha, Purva Phalguni till the end of the month.

This begins on 15th September. This is supportive of rainfall. The increasing distance with Mercury (previous feature) is offset by this transit of Venus.

(3) Combustion of Mercury.

Mercury comes out of combustion on September 4th and re-enters combustion on September 22nd.  These two dates trigger rainfall. This can be split into 2 periods. (1) 19th August – 4th September and (2) 22nd September – 31st October. Usually combustion periods see rainfall.

The stars transited by Mercury during these two periods cover Central India and North Interior Peninsular India. The 2nd part starting on 22nd September covers entire South India including Kerala. Kerala, so far a deficit State in the current period of monsoon, is likely to get good rainfall after 22nd September that would continue for a month. I am saying this based on past records of good rainfall during combust period of Mercury (applicable to Venus as well).

(4) Mars in Leo, behind the Sun and conjunct with benefics in the rainy season.

From 15th September onwards Mars is going to be joined with Venus and Mercury, the two benefic planets. At that time Mars will be behind the Sun. This combination occurring in Leo in the rainy season ensures good rainfall. This continues till 27th September when Mercury leaves the combination.

Rainfall spoiling features.

 (1) All planets behind Saturn from 17th September. This will cause dry conditions.


No planets are present in any spoiling star in the Sapta Nadi chakra.
With 4 features in support of rainfall and only one as a spoiler, September is likely to see good rainfall. The following table is prepared on the basis of planetary conditions and applicable to India as a whole.

Astrological features
Spoilers, if any
Sep 1
Mercury nearing Mars within 1 degree
East and South east India

Sep 2-4
Mercury- Mars conjunction.
Mercury crosses Mars from behind.
East and South east India

Sep 2-4
Moon in Amirtha Nadi & conjunct with Ketu &
in opposition to Venus+Rahu in watery sign.
North west India

Sep 4
Mercury comes out of combustion.
Spurt in rainfall
East, Central east India.

Sep 12- 16
Venus – Rahu conjunction in watery sign.
Central India, South East and east Peninsular India.

Sep 14
Mercury – Venus closest to each other at a distance of 10 degrees.

Venus crosses Rahu
(Some meteorological event possible)
Heavy rainfall
Central India, South East and Peninsular India

Sep 15
Venus enters next sign (Leo).

Venus in eastern sky in star Magha.

Mars+ benefics in Leo (Mer & Ven)

Moon in watery sign and watery Navamsa.

(Some meteorological event possible)

Heavy rainfall
Central India, South East and Peninsular India

Sep 16-17
Sun enters next sign  and comes in alternate sign to Saturn
all the above mentioned in Point 7.
Heavy rainfall
Central India, South, South East and Peninsular India
All planets behind Saturn
Sep 14 - 17
Mercury in conjunction with Mars.
In Leo, with Venus in conjunction
Central India, North Interior Peninsula, East and West coastal Peninsula.

Sep 22
Mercury begins combustion
Spurt in rainfall.
South India including Tamilnadu

Sep 22 – Sep 30
Mercury continues combustion period
South India covering Kerala and Tamilnadu & Cauvery basin

Sep 26-27
Mercury enters next sign to join Sun
Spurt in Rainfall
South India covering Kerala and Tamilnadu & Cauvery basin

Sep 29-30
Moon in Amirtha nadi
Joins Ketu.
North West India

Inference:- Overall the planetary combinations are conducive for widespread and regular rainfall in the region starting from Vindhyas in Central India up to southern end of Peninsular India. The main features I am banking on are (1) the transit of Venus in the eastern sky in Magha and Purva Phalguni, (2) the closeness between Venus and Mercury and the (3) a repeat combust period of Mercury.

These rare features of rainfall are (1) transit of Venus in Magha, Purva Phalguni in the eastern pre-dawn sky and (2) Mars in Leo behind the Sun but along with benefics.

If this month finds good rainfall as written in the table above, I will attribute it to these two features. With these transits happening in Magha and Purva phalguni, all the regions in and around Vindhya range and the regions to the south of it are indicated as beneficiaries.

Rainfall scenario for Chennai.

Interestingly, the Garbottam chart for September for Chennai is bleak with just 2-4 days of rainfall between 12th  and 15th September.  But corroboratory indications from Margazhi Garbottam support rainfall on many days in September. Following was the relevant part of the table of Margazhi Garbottam for Chennai posted by me on Jan 12, 2017

The dates in this table are not supported by daily Garbottam that I watched (in the corresponding period in March-April). But this table corresponds with planetary table (above).

Putting them together, it is inferred that night time Garbottam would cause rainfall in the indicated period of the above two tables. What I watched was the conditions during day time. There is no way to watch the Garbottam that occurred at night. Night time Garbottam gives rainfall during the day time. Last month, it rained during the day time (late afternoon) on many days which did not show up as Garbottam in my chart. So it is understood that Garbottam clouds were present at corresponding dates at night time.

So it is inferred that day time or twilight time rainfall is likely to occur on more days of September for Chennai.  Almost all dates in the planetary chart displayed above pertain to South India and South East India that pertain to Tamilnadu. Daytime rainfall is likely on most of these days in and around Chennai except 4 days from 12th to 15th September when night time rainfall can be expected. Overall, September is going to be wet for Tamilnadu and Chennai.