Monday, May 13, 2019

India’s first ever arch dam across two hills was constructed by Sri Ramanujacharya.

Tonnur Lake in the Mandya district of Karnataka is becoming a picnic spot nowadays for many in the surrounding areas, but what people had not known is that this Lake was a product of the efforts of Sri Ramanujacharya, the doyen of Srivaishnavism and proponent of Visishtadvaita philosophy. Many had heard about him and even recognise him for his compassion for all cutting across social barriers. But his contribution to economic prosperity of the region remains unknown. A search into historical records show that he was instrumental in building a dam – an arch dam, across two hills to form what is now called Tonnur Lake.  

During his long stay in Tonnur also known as Tondanur, Ramanujacharya had observed the wasting away of the waters of two mountain streams through a gap between two hillocks. He had thought of an ingenious plan of bridging this gap to store the waters of the streams and make an alternative path to streamline the passage of water in a controlled way for the benefit of the community. He engaged the locals to construct the bund between the two hills that stands at 80 feet height and 500 feet lengthwise.

The Google map shows this bund as a small curve between two long hill ranges. (Picture below)

Ramanuja’s role in the formation of this lake and the bund, now known as Tonnur Kere is absolutely unknown even to Vaishnavite scholars and historians. The proof of his role comes from an unexpected source, the Sthala Purana of Shravana Belagola written by Jains who were bitterly opposed to Ramanuja for getting many Jains change over to Vaishnavism.[i] The Sthala Purana says that the Hoysala king Bitti Deva converted into the Vaishnava religion and under the influence of Ramanujacharya built a tank at Tonnuru (Tondanur) and named it Tirumala Sagara. Surprisingly no inscription of Vishnuvardhana or any Hoysala kings attributes this feat to Vishnuvardhana or any other king. In the absence of any reference to any king or a royal official in the making this engineering feat, the presence of this man-made structure stands as an evidence for a localised and independent effort to build this bund.

The only other evidence of Ramanuja’s role in forming this bund is found in the travelogue of Francis Buchanan published in 1807 soon after Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British.[ii]  On passing through the regions once occupied by Tipu, Buchanan had collected the information on the geography of the land and also the local legends connected with them. His records show that Tonnur Lake was known as “Yadava Nuddi” at that time and was remembered as one created by Ramanujacharya.

His account says runs as follows: Read here

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Maha Shivaratri: The concept of Creation in the Dance of Nataraja.

The dance of Shiva on the night of Maha Shivaratri is perhaps the best concived idea of the ancient Vedic wisdom of how the comsos moves. Our exitence just being part of the smallest of the smallest fraction of the entire cosmos hypothesised by modern science, the scientists know how difficult it is to aquire a bird’s eye view of the entire cosmos. Interestingly that is what Vedic sages have achieved and immortalised into the Dance of Shiva, popularly understood in the form of Nataraja. They have even identified a day, rather a night for that dance – that is the 14th night before a complete black out of the Moon. That night is Shivaratri coming month after month but the one coming in the month of Maagha is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri – a time marked for universal dissolution.

Skeptics may dismiss this as an untenable tenet of a religious myth thriving on fear psychosis of hapless mortals, but what is hidden behind the posture of Nataraja leaves much for contemplation, leading to self realisation of why we are here and when we will get releif and release from the imposing cosmos enveloping all around us. The perfect setting for this is a night before complete black out – that is perhaps why the 14th night before No-Moon is chosen. Among the months, none other than Maagha is suitable as the new month starting after No-Moon is Phalguna that heralds the start of spring with the return of Kaama (Holi festival) and marriage of Gods.

Having chosen a perfect day, our seers have laid out certain axioms that describe the nature of cosmos. The oft repeated ones are
·       There are infinte number of worlds.
·       There is no beginning and end to the creation of worlds.
·       The three stages of creation, sustenace and destruction are going on continuously in all the worlds.
·       All these are being borne by the Cosmic womb called Hiranya Garbha.
The crux of all these is that the infinte number of worlds are all happening within the ‘womb’ of that Being whom one may call by any name but what is implicit is that the Being Himself / Itslef is unfathomable for the very fact we are talking only about the womb that is home for the cosmos. The entire of body of the Being can never be known.

A more specific axiom comes from the 3rd and 4th verses of Purusha Sukta giving an idea of proportion of created worlds. These verses say that only one fourth of this Being is manifest as created worlds while three fourths are always unmanifest.

Combining all these together, we can conceive only a circular formation capable of fulfilling all these axioms. This is also conceptualised as ‘Brahma Chakra’ in Shvetasvatara Upanishad. Such a model will have infinite number of universes revolving in different layers of in  circular orbits,  stretching vertically one above the other and laterally one beyond the other. Only in this kind of formation, the worlds can be truly infinite and endless.No one can say where the beginning point of this lies or where this will end.

Within this chakra, life thrives and even gets trapped. It is in the event of a realisation that one is getting trapped in this chakra, Vedic wisdom comes to our rescue to undertsand where we stand, what we are and what to do escape from this chakra. This is what a person is expected to ponder on the occasion of Shivaratri. Such pondering inevitbly leads us to think of the Universe – the stage where creation and disssolution are happening relentlessly. And the Dance of Nataraja presents a wholesome idea of how the Universe exists.

The Dance of Nataraja has captured the imagination of scientists too as a symbolism of dance of sub atomic particles – the proof of it in the display of 2 metre tall statue of  Nataraja  standing in front of CERN in Geneva

But Vedic concept views this dance at macro level, not at sub-atomic level. This dance posture follows the combined force of Shiva and Shakti as seen in Shiva- Shakti Yantra having two equilateral triangles placed one on the other in opposite directions and inscribed inside a circle. 

The contours of this formation decide the posture of Nataraja. This is the basic structure guiding the sculptors and dancers who wish to enact the posture of Nataraja. CERN Nataraja inscribed within this formation is shown below.

The macro cosmic feature in Nataraja is seen in the top two hands, the right hand beating the drum (Damaru), symbolising the birth of sounds giving rise to birth of worlds and the left hand holding Agni (fire). Modern science postulates birth of worlds from Big bang, but Nataraja concept indicates sound as the causative or an indication of creation.
The distance between the hands fulfil the major axiom of Purusha sukta of 1:3 division of the cosmos. In the picture below this distance covers one fourth of the circle ...continue reading here

Monday, March 4, 2019

கமல் ஹாசனைக் கேள்வி கேட்டு விடாதீர்கள்!

Earlier published in PGurus

'அசட்டுத்தனமான கேள்வியும் அதற்கேற்ற பதிலும்' என்ற தலைப்பில் அந்தநாளில் ஒரு வார இதழில் ஜோக்ஸ்கள் வந்தன. உதாரணத்திற்கு, சாப்பிட்டுக் கொண்டிருக்கும் ஒருவனிடம், 'சாப்பிடுகிறீர்களா?' என்று கேட்டால் என்ன அசட்டுத்தனமான கேள்வி அது? அதற்கு அவன் 'இல்லை, சாதம் என்ன கலர்-னு பார்த்துக்கிட்டுருக்கேன்' என்று பதில் சொன்னால் அசட்டுக் கேள்விக்கு சரியான பதில்தானே அது!  

கேள்விக்கேற்றார்ப்போலத்தான் பதில் இருக்க வேண்டும். அசட்டுக் கேள்விக்கு அசட்டுத்தனமான பதில்தான் கொடுக்கவேண்டும். இதுவே ஆக்கபூர்வமான கேள்விக்கு எப்படி பதில் கொடுக்க வேண்டும்? ஆக்க பூர்வமாகத்தானே பதில் கொடுக்க வேண்டும்? ஆனால் அசட்டுத்தனமாக   பதில் கொடுப்பதில் ஒரு ட்ரெண்டை உண்டாக்கிக் கொண்டிருப்பவர் கமல்ஹாசன் அவர்கள்.

கமல்ஹாசனைக் கேளுங்கள் என்னும் ஹாஷ்டாகில் (#AskKamalHaasan) அவர் கேள்விகளை வரவேற்கிறார். நல்ல பதிலை வரவழைக்கும்படியாக ஒரு கேள்வி கேட்பதற்கே திறமை வேண்டும். அப்படிப்பட்ட கேள்விகளையே  பதில் கூறுவோர்கள் தேர்ந்தெடுப்பார்கள். கமல் இப்பொழுது அரசியல் அவதாரம் எடுத்திருப்பதால், ஏடாகூடமான கேள்விகள் வரும். அதனால் கவனமாகக் கேள்விகளைத் தேந்தெடுத்து பதில்  கூறுவார் என்றுதான் நாம் எதிர்பார்ப்போம்.

அவரும் ஒரு கேள்வியைத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்திருக்கிறார். சாதாரண கேள்வி, ஆனால் நல்ல கேள்வி.  ஒரு அறிவுஜீவியாக, படிப்பாளியாகத்  தன்னைக் காட்டிக்  கொள்ளும் கமல் மீது தாக்கத்தை ஏற்படுத்திய புத்தகம் எது என்று அறியும் ஆவலில் அவரது ரசிகர் கேட்கிறார். 

இதற்கு கமல் தரும் பதில் எப்படி இருக்கும் என்ற எதிர்பார்ப்பு நமக்கு இருக்கும். ஒன்று ஜோக்கடித்து பதில் சொல்லலாம். அல்லது சீரியஸாக பதில் சொல்லலாம். இரண்டும் இல்லாமல் அசட்டுத்தனமான ஒரு பதிலை கமல் தருகிறார்.
இந்த பதிலைப் படித்துவிட்டு அவரவர் கமலைத் திட்டித் தீர்த்து விட்டார்கள்- பூணூலைக் கேவலப்படுத்திவிட்டார், பார்ப்பனர்களை மட்டம் தட்டுகிறார், தான் திராவிட அரசியல் செய்வதாகக் காட்டிக் கொள்வதற்கு இப்படி ஒரு பதிலைக் கொடுத்திருக்கிறார் என்று ஆளாளுக்கு சொல்லிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறார்கள்.

கமல் அப்படி என்ன சொல்லிவிட்டார்? பூணூல் அணிந்துகொண்ட காரணத்துக்காகவே பார்ப்பனர்கள் அவமதிக்கப்பட்டார்கள், பாதிக்கப்பட்டார்கள். அதைத்தான் கமலும் சொல்லியிருக்கிறார் - என்னை பாதித்த நூல் பூணூல்- என்று. அதனால் அதைக் கழற்றி வைத்துவிட்டார் போலிருக்கிறது. அத்துடன் நிறுத்திக் கொண்டிருக்கலாம். அதற்கு மேலே போய், 'அதனாலேயே பூணூலைத் தவிர்த்தேன்' என்கிறாரே அதுதான் அசட்டுத்தனம்.

பூணூலைத் தவிர்த்தேன் என்கிறாரே, பூணூல் போட்டுக் கொண்டவரைத் தவிர்த்தாராபரம்பரை பூணூல் இல்லை என்றாலும், திடீர்ப் பூணூல் அணிந்த ராகுல் காந்தியை அவர் தவிர்த்தாரா? இல்லையே.

பரம்பரைப் பூணூல் கமலும், திடீர்ப் பூணூல் ராகுலும் தமிழ் நாட்டு அரசியலுக்காகக் கை குலுக்கிக் கவலைப்பட்டுக்கொண்டிருக்கிறார்கள். அப்படியிருக்க பூணூலைத் தவிர்த்தேன் என்று ஏன் பதில் சொல்ல வேண்டும்? நாளைக்கு யாராவது இதை பற்றிக் கேள்வி கேட்டால், 'நான் பூணூலைத்  தவிர்த்தேன் என்று சொன்னேனே தவிர பூணூல் போட்டுக் கொள்பவரைத் தவிர்ப்பேன் என்று சொல்லவில்லையே' என்று அசடு வழிய வேண்டியிருக்கும். அதனால்  ஒழுங்காக கேட்ட கேள்விக்கு பதில் சொல்லியிருக்கலாம். ஆனால் கமலுக்கு அது சாத்தியமாகாது போலிருக்கிறது.

சமீபத்தில் இன்னொரு கேள்விக்கு அவர் அளித்த பதில் அசட்டுத்தனத்திலிருந்து அபத்தத்துக்கு முன்னேறி இருந்தது.
கமலுடைய  சொல்லுக்கும் செயலுக்கும் சம்பந்தம் இல்லையே என்ற கருத்தில் ஒரு ரசிகர் கேட்கிறார்.

இந்தக் கேள்விக்கு யோசிக்காமல் பதில் சொல்கிறார் கமல். பாரதியார் இவருக்குத் தகப்பனாராம். பாரதியார் முகம்தான் இவரது முகமாம்.

பாரதியார் முகத்தைத் தன் முகமாக ஏற்று கொள்கிறார் என்றால், பாரதியார் சொன்ன கருத்துக்களையும் ஏற்றுக் கொள்கிறார் என்று அர்த்தம் கொள்ளலாமா?

ஜாதிக் கொடுமைகள் வேண்டாம் என்று எட்டு திக்கும் முரசு கொட்டும் பாடலின்  ஆரம்பத்திலேயே 'வேதம் என்றும் வாழ்க என்று கொட்டு முரசே' என்கிறாரே பாரதியார் அதை கமலஹாசன் வழி மொழிவாரா?

அது மட்டுமா,
'வேதமறிந்தவன் பார்ப்பான் - பல
வித்தை தெரிந்தவன் பார்ப்பான்'
என்று பூணூல் போட்ட பார்ப்பானை உயர்வாகச் சொன்னாரே, அதை ஏற்றுக்  கொள்கிறாரா கமல்?

'நாலு வகுப்பும் இங்கு ஒன்றே - இந்த
நான்கினில் ஒன்று குறைந்தால்
வேலை  தவறிச் சிதைந்தே - செத்து
வீழ்ந்திடும் மானிடச் சாதி'

என்று மனுவாதி வர்ணங்களைத் தூக்கிப் பிடித்துள்ளாரே பாரதியார், அவரது அந்த முகம்தான் தனது முகம் என்று கமல் சொல்கிறாரா? இதையும் விடுங்கள். தென் மாநிலங்கள் என்று பாரதத்திலிருந்து பிரித்துப் பேசுகிறாரே கமல், தந்தை என்று சொல்லும் பாரதியார் அதை ஏற்றுக் கொண்டிருப்பாரா? கங்கையையும், காவிரியையும் இணைத்தவர் அவர். 

காசியையும், காஞ்சியையும் ஒரே நோக்கில் பார்த்தவர் அவர். நாக்கில் வேதம், வாக்கில் செப்பு மொழி பதினெட்டு என்று பாரத தேசம் முழுவதையும் ஒருங்கிணைத்துப் பார்த்தவர் பாரதியார். அப்படி இணைப்பதற்கு அடிபப்டையாக வேத மதத்தை ஏற்றுக் கொண்டவர் அவர். அவரைப் போய் தனக்குத் தந்தை என்கிறாரே,  அவரது முகம் தன் முகத்தில் பொருந்துகிறது என்கிறாரே இது அசட்டுத்தனமா, அல்லது அபத்தமா?

ஒரு வேளை தந்தை பெரியார் என்ற எண்ணத்தில் இந்த பதிலைத் தந்திருக்கிறாரோ? இருக்கும், இருக்கும். கேட்ட கேள்விக்கு ஒழுங்கான பதில் சொல்வதில்லை என்று முடிவெடுத்துவிட்டால் இப்படித்தான் அசட்டுத்தனமும், அபத்தமும் அரங்கேறும்.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kumbha Mela: Not just the largest but the oldest religious practice of the world supported by State.

Published in Ind Samachar

A recent article in The New York Times lamented about the excellent arrangements made for the Kumbha Mela at Prayagraj as something abominable and done with the aim of catching votes! Even the development of amenities, construction of roads and flyovers and ban on letting out tannery effluents into the Ganga were commented upon by this newspaper as agenda-driven to keep the Hindu vote bank in good humour. While this is nothing but an expression of a sick mind, one accusation needs to be cleared to set the record straight and also to keep the Hindus informed of how this event was managed in the past.

The report has termed this Kumbha Mela as ‘State sponsorship’ of the religion of the Hindus. It ‘justifies’ this criticism by quoting a figure of $600 million as having gone into the making of a number of bridges, roads, flyovers, trashcans, toilets etc for the visiting population. While this is nothing but long term investment benefiting the entire region, what the newspaper had failed to understand is that this event was not just Paraygraj-centric, but is celebrated all over India wherever there are temples. And in all those temples, this event was sponsored by the kings or/ and by the community living around the temple in olden days. Temple inscriptions stand as evidence for ‘State sponsorship’ of this event in those temples.

This event is a yearly affair even now in the temples of Tamilnadu and celebrated on the Full Moon of the month of Kumbha (Aquarius) by the name “Maasi Magham”. Gods themselves are taken out in a procession and given bath in the sea, or river or confluence of rivers or in a nearby tank, in the absence of access to other water bodies. In the very heart of the capital city Chennai, in the temple of Adhipureeswarar in Tiruvottriyur, there stands a pillar inscription on the gift of money by an assembly of members for conducting this festival which we call as Kumbh Mela today.

(Source: Inscriptions Of The Madras Presidency Vol.I by Rangacharya.V.)

An inscription found in the Devanatha Perumal temple of Tiruvaheendipuram in Cuddalore conveys about the grant of land and tax exemption for generating money for conducting this festival. The mention of tax exemption makes it clear that the grant was ‘State- sponsored’.

Maasi Magham, the annual celebration of Kumbha Mela celebrated even now in the temples of Tamilnadu had been continuing from an undated past if we look at a verse of Sangam text called ‘Pattinappalai’. This text, presumably written before the start of the Common Era refers to a temple on the shore of Pumpukar, known as ‘Magha viṇmeen kottam’ (temple of Magha star).
By the name of it, this temple was exclusively meant for Magha festival when Moon becomes full in Magha star in the month of Maasi (Sun in Aquarius). Today this temple is not there – perhaps lost into the sea due to successive inundation experienced in Pumpukar in the past. But the reference to this in southern most part of India makes Kumbha festival a pan-Indian festival and the oldest one in recorded history, with the Sangam text testifying its antiquity.

The text continues to mention about two lakes associated with it and named as ‘material desire of present birth’ and ‘desire of future birth’ (Ulagiyal immai-k kaamam, Marumai-k kaamam). These names being self- descriptive, it is obvious that people had taken sacred bath in these lakes on Maasi Magham for material gains in this birth and future birth. The entire community – who were all Hindus and none else – have considered this occasion as sacred and worthy of a dip in the waters.

This concept must have been there in temples of North India too and supported by the kings of yore. But with temples becoming the target of the invaders of alien faith that culture had vanished in north India, and Kumbh Mela revived in later centuries. The Wikipedia article giving a recent genesis for Kumbha Mela is an evidence of the revival of this festival by a beleaguered civilization limping back to normalcy. What is wrong in keeping up this ancient practice in its glory? Is it not the duty of the State to preserve this culture that has been continuing for more than 2000 years, going by the reference found in the Tamil Sangam text? The mischievous article in The New York Times is against humanity in having cast aspersions on the conduction of a heritage practice that a civilised society is expected to cherish. 

Before ending, let us know about the uniqueness the holy dip at Prayagraj which is considered supreme. The reason, as told in Mahabharata (13-25) is that ten thousand tirthas and thirty crores of other tirthas are supposed to come to Prayagraj in the month of Magha. Therefore a dip at Prayagraj in the month of Magha and on the day of Full moon is supposed to be equal to taking dips at all the tirthas of Bharat. The one who takes the dip is cleansed of his sins and attains heaven, says Bhishma to Yudhsithira. The description in this chapter doesn’t restrict the event to once in 12 years or 6 years but to every year. Sacredness is attached to the astronomical combination occurring every year.

The 12 year and the like are related to the movement of Jupiter reckoned in the calendar of Jupiter Era or Barhaspatya-mana at the height of Vedic culture. The calendar system was different then with five years making a yuga and 7 yugas making a 35 year cycle. The location of Jupiter during different yugas of this cycle was immortalised into Kumbh Mela years later, when Vedic culture was on the wane. The continuity without losing the advantage of the astronomical combination of the day makes Kumbha Mela the oldest continuing practice – something not found in any other part of the world. Let us celebrate this fact on this sacred month of Kumbh Mela. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sabarimala: Zero knowledge of temple -Science harming Hinduism - II

Published in

Effect of negative ions on menstruating women.

Menstruation, a process vital for the procreation of our human race is the least researched subject around the world. It is not about a few days of the menses flow, but it is a continuous process of some change happening in the woman’s body throughout her menstruating life. In the first week of the menstrual cycle, there is pre-dominance of Kapha dosha, which increases the vitality of the person. During ovulation and after, Pitta dosha becomes predominant which is manifest as acne or pimples in the face (for some) and many become irritable in nature.[i] In pH terms Pitta is low in pH value indicating higher levels of positive ions! With the onset of menses flow there is a continuous generation of positive ions around the woman due to the dead tissues getting flushed out. Positive ions (cations) are associated with dead tissues that enhance bacterial activity.  The promotion of anion (negative ion) sanitary napkins as a remedy to reduce the discomfort and bacterial effects during menses is proof enough that science recognises generation of more positive ions during menses.

This raises a question why not allow women into temples, the source of constant generation of negative ions - during her menses so that she can be greatly relieved of the pain, discomfort and mood swings caused by low pH aided positive ions in her body. This can be answered in two ways.

1. Temples have been found to be negative ion generators for the benefit of the entire community with the entire community taking part in the generation of the same by worshiping in the temple. Suppose there are 100 persons in a community where at any one time, 5 persons may be having menses. If those 5 persons are going to enter the temple, the high level of positive ions in them can mess up with the ‘negative ion-only’ atmosphere of the temple. It is like mixing a drop of poison in a pot of milk. The temple nurtured by a community for the well-being of the community cannot be disturbed of its composition for the sake of the few, particularly when other means are there to cater to their needs at those times. By staying away, if the anion-purity of the temple can be maintained, then that is the best way in the interest of the masses.

2. The generation of positive ions associated with menstruation is part of the natural process of removing the dead tissues from the system. In such a scenario, exposure to high levels of negative ions (as in a temple) would be against this natural and necessary process. So a counter therapy should aim at reducing the adverse physiological and psychological effects of positive ions. It is here the traditional practices of Rajaswala Paricharya sound very much logical and far advanced than the present level of our knowledge of menses related problems. The traditional practices include remaining outdoors and secluded from others, rest from all physical activities, specific diet, not to have complete bath etc. A study done on 30 women to test the effect of these practices of Rajaswala Paricharya found an improvement in relief to issues related to physical and psychic well being[ii].

With the knowledge of effect of negative ions, we can deduce the extent of exposure to negative ions by the menstruating women to get relief from her physical and mental stress while at the same time not tampering with the natural process of removal of dead material associated with positive ions.
The primary feature of remaining outdoors in seclusion from every one, which is looked down upon with disdain today, has a positive effect of offering an anion-rich environment. The maximum concentration of positive ions is found inside houses today and it could have been so in olden times too. By offering the menstruating woman a separate room, she is exposed to free flow of air and therefore to anion-rich atmosphere. About 85% of anions are absorbed through our skin. Just by keeping away from people and remaining outside, she is able to get the refreshing ions needed to reduce her stress. The terminology used in Tamil for menses is ‘veLi’, meaning outside or outdoors – which is self-descriptive of a state of wellness in terms of ion-therapy for a menstruating woman. 

It is known that vigorous exercise reduces the pH level thereby increasing the positive ions. Seen from this perspective, one can understand why the menstruating woman was exempted from doing all physical activities.

The supply of negative ions comes from her foods which are highly alkaline. This food is collectively known as ‘Havishya anna’ – the food used as oblations in yajna! It includes rice, moong, sesame, jiggery, ghee, cow’s milk etc. Sceptics who find fault with the tradition of menstruating woman keeping away from the temple and puja should ponder over the fact why she is asked to take the yajna-food during her menses. Doesn’t this convey that the body of the menstruating woman is a yajna kunda and menses blood is like agni, that she has to offer Havishya anna to get maximum positive benefits?  It is a practice in Tamilnadu even now to offer jiggery mixed sesame balls to the young girls during their menses. This quickens the process the easy and painless flow while supplying negative ions to her body. Even now there are women who are wary of taking sesame sweets while nearing their menses date, for the reason that sesame induces menses.

Positive ions during death.

A bath generates negative ions but also causes exertion which is related to positive ions. That is why Rajaswala Paricharya recommends incomplete bath to her. The traditional practices with reference to bath under different circumstances further reinforce the ion- theory in ashaucha (impurity). Death is associated with positive ions. The wail and sad state of mind of the near and dear also generate positive ions. The extended period of ‘impurity’ for the close relatives of the dead is better understood when seen through the ion-theory. It will take them for a while to come to terms with the loss of the person and stop crying. As long as they are crying, they will be surrounded by positive ions only which will increase the mental irritation of everyone around them. So it is better for these people to remain secluded for a while after death of their dear one so that the ion balance for others would not be upset. This is similar to why women stay from temples during menses.

This also justifies why a temple remains closed when someone dies in close vicinity. As long as the body is lying in state, positive ions keep growing around. (Cell death is associated with ion movement)[iii]. Once the body is removed, negative ions are injected through water – that is why cleaning by water is done. Shudhikaran is done not only after a death, but also when a child is found to have urinated or defecated within the temple premises. The process of Shuddikaran can be understood better from the effects of negative ion. The Shuddhi ritual involves water and there are researches establishing the effect of thoughts and chanting on water molecules. Whenever water is involved, the process of negative ion generation can be taken for granted. Even in our house we are generating negative ions while taking shower bath. The bath given to the menstruating woman on the fourth day (end of menses) is similar to shower bath which in traditional way involves pouring water on her through a sieve from a height.

Effect of negative ions in Sabarimala on women of menstruating age.

Sabarimala temple is situated on a mountain surrounded by dense forests. The location itself is brimming with a heavy dose of negative ions. By an estimate it is more than 10,000 per cubic centimetre in forested and hilly regions dotted with waterfalls or streams. The access path is also full of forests which once again ensure continuous exposure to negative ions. To cap it all the temple situated on top of the hill generates high level of negative ions by the rituals and abhisheka material brought by millions of devotees. What does this high dosage of negative ions do to the people? 

Research[iv] says that high dose of negative ions reduces male infertility, but the same cannot be said about female fertility. It is on record that the female fertility in mountainous regions is less compared to plains. The ‘corpus luteum’[v] found in the ovary and produced during every menstrual cycle and is responsible for secreting progesterone (a hormone responsible for maintaining pregnancy) doesn’t function well in altitudes. The development of corpus luteum depends on luteinizing hormone (LH) which is correlated to the level of pH value in the body. It is here temple chemistry comes into relevance as temple ingredients are associated with high pH value.

A study by Ding et al has found a relationship between pH value and LH, a hormone needed for ovulation and formation of corpus leteum.[vi]  It is found that LH peaks several times in high pH range. For normal ovulation, the LH must peak only once. In the normal functioning of the menstruation cycle, the LH level keeps gradually rising within a safe limit (1.9 to 12.5 IU/L) in the beginning. In the middle of the cycle it peaks at around 8.7 to 76.3 IU/L which causes the ovary to shed the ovum. After this LH level must come down to 0.5 to 16.9 IU/L. This means the pH level in a woman’s body keeps fluctuating from low in the first half, to sudden high in the middle (to cause ovulation) and then dropping down for the second half of the cycle. This means that a fertile woman should not have continuous high levels of pH.

The study has found out that LH level peaks several times when the pH level is high. In a place like Sabarimala, where the pH value must be the highest compared to any other temple, owing to its location in forested hill and highly alkaline ingredients used for worship, a trip to the temple by a woman of menstruating age would expose her to high dose of negative ions continuously for days. This causes the LH level in such a woman to peak irrespective of the date of the menstrual cycle thereby causing premature ovulation or ovarian dysfunction.

Traditionally it is believed that restriction on women is for their own benefit. It must noted that an expert in menstrual studies has recorded that her menstruation advanced by a week after she visited Pampa when the Sabarimala season was on with many devotees thronging over there.[vii] It is not difficult to guess the causes. With the discovery of effect of negative ions on LH and through that on ovulation, the traditional view only reiterates the traditional belief that Hindu practices are scientific and not dogmatic.

The locational factor of Sabarimala temple is incomparable with any other hill-temple like Tirumala or Ahobila. There had never been a tradition of vrat going for more than a normal menstrual cycle of a woman and never a compulsory walking all the way through the forests to reach the hill temple in the case of other temples. The negative ion concentration in Sabarimala is likely to be the highest among the hill temples and this is detrimental to the reproductive health of the woman.

In addition to the ion theory, the concept of God plays a role in creating the benefits for the community.  Every form of the Supreme Being has a name- form-action associated with It[viii] and the one wishing to draw the benefits from that form has to adhere to the rules associated with it. Or else there is no meaning in building temples and consecrating the deity with elaborate rituals. Vigraha being the last form of the Supreme Being to facilitate easy access to the devotee, and its manifestation carefully done through temple science, it is nothing but foolishness to interfere in or alter the temple traditions.

Temples with consecrated deities have come up in large numbers only in the last 1500 years. This seems to be in tune with the rise in population and stressful living conditions. The ever growing stressful conditions demand that temples are maintained in their pristine purity to help the community draw optimum levels of benefits – one facet of which revolves around the generation of negative ions.  The motto of Hindu religion namely ‘Sukha’ (happiness), exemplified by the Upanishadic vachan “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah” is best served by the temple concept.   In times when the universality of Upanishads is being frowned upon, it is our wish that those sitting as arbiters for the Sabarimala case understand the temple concept as a way of nature and the traditions around it as way of life that are needed to be respected and therefore left untouched.

[ii] “Rajaswala Paricharya: Effect on menstrual cycle and Its associated symptoms” Dr.Pallavi Pai et al.

[iii] “Ion movements in cell death: from protection to execution”

[iv] “Miraculous effects of Negative Ions on Male Infertility”

[vi] [vi] Preponderance of basic isoforms of serum luteinizing hormone (LH) is associated with the high bio/immune ratio of LH in healthy women and in women with polycystic ovarian disease”.

[viii] Changogya Upanishad 8-14-1