Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ramayana -- a mythology or history? -- K. Gopalakrishnan (July 2013)


The cultural memory of Ramayana narrative is abiding and intense in many parts of the globe.

śrāddham -- homage to pitṛs, ancestors -- is performed by pilgrims at Dhanushkodi. They draw a dhanush (bow) on the sands, offer samkalpam, create a śivalinga from the wet sands, perform puja and immerse the linga in the sacred waters of Setusamudram.

śankha is a shell unique to Indian Ocean rim and is sacred in Hindu traditions. Sacred śankha lives on the Ramasetu. śankha can live only on hard surfaces like boulder conglomerates and not on shifting sands. The boreholes drillings by NIOT revealed boulder conglomerates as one layer, conclusively proving that boulders obtained from land were used for the construction of the Setubandha causeway linking Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar.

This is a world heritage monument and a celebration of protection of dharma by rescuing Sita devi. Valmiki calls Sri Rama vigrahavān dharmah'embodiment of dharma'.

Valmiki ramayana, Sarga 21, Yuddhakandam describes Rama's victory over the ocean; he releases the arrow which makes a volcano erupt. This episode is rendered as a painting by Ravi Varma.


Similar Boulder Conglomerate Beds are recorded in
Mannar on Sri Lankan side

Director (Retired), Geological Survey,
Government of India

Rama Janma Bhoomi issue.
Rama Sethu issue.
Both cases are pending with the Supreme  Court of India.
One, concerning the Demolition of an existing  Mogul structure-Babri Masjid by Hindu activists.
The Other, regarding the Attempt at the Destruction of an existing  Hindu Structure-Rama Sethu by the secularist Government of India.

      (i)            As per Yuga Cycles
    (ii)            As per Vishnu Purana
   (iii)            As per Manu Samhita
  (iv)            As per Srimad Bhagavatham
    (v)            As per Swami Yukteshwar Giri

      (i)            By Vedic Astronomy –by Dr. P.V.Vartak
    (ii)            By modern Astronomy – by Pushkar Bhatnagar

      (i)            Sea Level Changes
    (ii)            Fossil Evidences of Early man's Migration
   (iii)            Botanical Evidences
  (iv)            Zoological Evidences

Lineage of Rama
      (i)            Rama's Ancestors  (ii) Rama's Descendants

B. References in Ancient Literature
      (i)            Puranas
    (ii)            Tamil Sangam Literatures
   (iii)            Other 5th – 6th Century Literatures
  (iv)            References Later Ramayanas in Other Languages
    (v)            Moghul Time Ramayana and Mahabharata
  (vi)            Ramayana in Southeast Asia
 (vii)            References in Historical Paintings


From Excavations
Inscriptions on Pillars, Plaques and Copper Plates
References in Ancient Coinages
References in Ancient Temple Sculptures

Rama's Trip with Maharishi VISHWAMITRA
Rama's route during Vanavas and to Sri Lanka

9. GEOLOGICAL EVIDENCES IN SRI LANKA                                                                                    

From the present-Day Active zone in South Pacific to the Present-Day apparently Inactive Rama Sethu Zone
Earth Movements, and Rise of Hill form the Ocean and corresponding subsidence on Sri Lankan side
 Valmiki's Description of the Gulf of Mannar site with Rama's arrow piercing the ocean, producing Earquakes, Volcanic Eruption and Tsunami generation
Drying up of far away ocean and island called Markandhara in the north by Rama's Brahmaastra – the present-day Taar Desrt in Rajasthan with trillions of tons of Rock Salt below sand.


The research article as outlined above can be read in the following link:-

Bad Sleep? Blame the Moon



Bad Sleep? Blame the Moon


Charles Choi,

LiveScience Contributor   |   July 25, 2013 12:00pm ET


The moon could be to blame for a bad night's sleep, researchers now say.

These findings are the first reliable evidence that lunar rhythms can influence sleep in humans, scientists added.

The moon often gets blamed for madness on Earth. In fact, the Latin name for the moon, Luna, is the root of the word "lunatic."


However, research has repeatedly shown the full moon apparently has no effect on human health. Although a few studies have found weak links with the full moon and increased aggression, unintentional poisonings and absenteeism, a 1985 analysis found no convincing evidence that full moons spur uptakes in mental hospital admissions, psychiatric disturbances, and homicides or other crimes. A 2010 study similarly found a lack of excess criminal activity on full-moon nights. [Stop the Lunacy! 5 Mad Myths About the Moon]


As such, chronobiologist and sleep researcher Christian Cajochen at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland was skeptical when people complained about poor sleep around the full moon. However, over drinks at a pub one evening on a full moon, Cajochen and his colleagues recalled they had completed a lab study on sleep a few years before whose results they could review for possible evidence of effects the moon had on people.


Unexpectedly, the scientists found "the lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not see the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase," Cajochen said.


Circalunar rhythms

Over the course of four years, the researchers had monitored the brain activity, eye movements and hormone secretions of 33 volunteers in the lab while the participants slept. All the participants were healthy, good sleepers, and did not take any drugs or medication.


After reviewing their data, the scientists found during the time of the full moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. People also took five minutes longer on average to fall asleep, and they slept for 20 minutes less overall on full-moon nights. The volunteers felt as though their sleep was poorer when the moon was full, and they showed diminished levels of melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep and wake cycles. [7 Strange Facts About Insomnia]


"It took me more than four years until I decided to publish the results, because I did not believe it myself," Cajochen told LiveScience. "I was really skeptical about the finding, and I would love to see a replication."


Scientists have long known the human body often bases key activities on regular cycles, such as circadian rhythms, which are roughly a day in length. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that humans might also experience circalunar rhythms that drive cycles a month long, roughly matching the time between two full moons.


A number of patterns in animal behavior are linked with the lunar cycle, such as coral sex. Adult women also experience the menstrual cycle, which is usually a month or so long. This circalunar effect on sleep might be a relic from a past in which the moon synchronized human behaviors for sex or other purposes, much as it does in other animals.


Moonlight tugs on humans

Although the moon's gravitational pull clearly drives tides in the ocean, its tidal effects are much weaker on lakes and virtually nil on the human body. Rather than being driven by gravity's tug, any circalunar rhythms the body experiences may be set by moonlight.


The influence of electrical lighting and other aspects of modern life may mask the moon's hold on the human body. "It would be interesting to look at this in people still living outside without artificial light, but light from fireplaces," Cajochen said. "Another possibility would be to test different moonlight simulations and their repercussions on sleep in the lab."


As to whether disrupting circalunar rhythms might have ill effects on health, the effect of moonlight on any potential circalunar clock appears much weaker than that of daylight on the circadian clock, Cajochen said.


"I don't think that modern people constantly ruin their sleep when they don't see moonlight," Cajochen said. "However, exposure to artificial light at night — that is, a time when our body clock does not expect light — ruins our sleep-wake rhythm considerably."


Still, "for some people who are sensitive to the effects of the moon on sleep, clinicians should probably take it seriously and not just think of it as an excuse for bad sleep," Cajochen said.

The scientists detailed their findings July 25 in the journal Current Biology.


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

List of temples converted into Mosques in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

 "Indian history for the last 50 years or so has been the preserve of historians who were Marxists by conviction and who had come to occupy positions of influence in India's elite Universities. These historians have callously distorted past events and interpreted history to suit their political agenda. Their efforts were not an honest attempt at history writing but a warped exercise in social engineering. Nowhere is this as evident as in the case of the temple desecrations that occurred during the Muslim invasion of India. Opponents (even when evidence was forthcoming) were dubbed as fundamentalists and their views effectively suppressed.

John Keay, a British historian, in his recent book India had this to say about Mahmud of Ghazni's destruction of the Somnath Temple: "But what rankled even more than the loot and the appalling death toll was the satisfaction that Mahmud took in destroying the great gilded lingam. After stripping it of its gold, he personally laid into it with his sword. The bits were then sent back to Ghazni and incorporated into the steps of its new Jami Masjid, there to be humiliatingly trampled and perpetually defiled by the feet of the Muslim faithful."

Khuswant Singh in his book We Indians avers: "Mahmud of Ghazni was only the first of a long line of Muslim idol-breakers. His example was followed by Mongols, Turks and Persians. They killed and destroyed in the name of Islam. Not a single Buddhist, Jain or Hindu temple in northern India escaped their iconoclastic zeal. Some temples were converted to mosques; idols and figurines had their noses, breasts or limbs lopped off; paintings were charred beyond recognition."Read more...

Continued in  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pralaya in Kedarnath – some musings (Part -5) (Many Gods of Hinduism)

Previous articles:-

Part -1  On the loss of Samadhi of Adi Shankara

Part -2 Energy network of Kedarnath temple

Part -3 Do deities get angry?

Part -4 Affinity with deities


Let me continue from the last article where I concluded "There is one more issue I want to share with readers. It is about – how the manifestation of so many Gods in so many forms and names had come to stay in our land."  In analysing this part, we would also be finding answers for the 3rd issue raised in Part 3 that the Majoritarian religion decides the health of this country and that Mleccha religions have no place here.


 Let me begin this discourse with an amusing notion of Christianity in writing off sins.  In this modern age when a scientific innovation like internet comes in handy to reduce the sins (bad karma) committed by the Christians merely by virtue of they being the followers of the twitter account of the Pope, Hinduism stands out as a religion that can measure up to any scientific scrutiny and as Science Itself. This development from Vatican at this juncture of Paralaya at Kedarnath looks to me as a significant one as it reduces Christianity as a religion of no sound ideas, in contrast to Hinduism as a Thought in sync with Nature's order with which no other religion of the world can compare.  This is perhaps the New order in the post-Pralaya period that would draw the attention to Hinduism as a Supreme Thought satisfying every facet of human probing.


Like in the physical world, in the world of man, every thought, word and action must have an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction cannot be written off by a twitter account, but by solemn penance of regret and the reciprocatory experience related to the former thought or word or action or/and all the three combined that a person delivered in the past. Even in the case of reaction, Hinduism does not say that reaction would be the exact result of action, as we are not in a laboratory state of everything else being constant. Whatever backlog was present at the time of execution of action, would influence the outcome of the action thereby making the reaction not the exact reciprocal of the action. This is being implied in the famous Gita sloka,  " Karmani eva adhikarasthe".


One can plan an action and have complete control over the action. But one cannot be assured that the well planned action would give the expected and reciprocatory reaction / result. It is because the backlog of karma – even a part of it - if it is related to the action, would alter the outcome of action. The backlog would influence the result of the action which in practical terms would imply that we have no control over the reaction, as we have over our action. Our actions are not being done in a controlled atmosphere. But we can have control over the actions we do. It is here the Hindu Dharma steps in and tells us the do's and dont's for our actions.  


In this background where then comes God?

Why then are there numerous Gods in Hinduism?


There is one God, the all pervading, the all knowing Infinite entity. It is Brahman which is identified by this name because Brh means huge and that which keeps growing. This all pervading Entity is manifest in 5 forms.

(1) Para – the Omni present state

(2) Vyuha – in the state of created Universe

(3) Vibhava – as Avataras in this world.

(4) Antaryami – the In-Dweller in every being as "one who controls from inside".

(5) Archa murthy – as manifestation in Vigrahas, in temples and in Nature.


Depending on the mental evolution, a person can make a connect with any one of these forms or move from one form to another – in a single birth or in a series of births. The ultimate realisation is that God is Para – an omni present one and that everything is Him only (Vasudeva sarvam ithi – Gita 7-19). This includes one's own Self (Tat twam asi) too. Whether this Self becomes one with Brahman or identical to Brahman is a matter of interpretation by different schools of thought, but what cannot be denied is that this Self is in the nature of Brahman and when it Realises this, it gets Liberated from the cycle of rebirth.


In the scheme of social order we say that democracy is the supreme concept. There are no kings in a democracy but everyone is empowered like a king and all are equal. This supreme concept that man can conceive for humanity is existent in the Hindu concept of God – Man / Self relationship. (Identified as Self – egalitarianism covers other life forms too, namely animal and plant life which are also occupied by the same Self). The ultimate salvation is known as Liberation (Moksha) because only in that level Man / Self attains equality or oneness with Brahman.


Heaven and Hell which other religions have allotted for men, are only transitory and not the final destinations as per Hindu Thought (Vedanthic Thought). They are not final destinations, because a question comes how long a person can be in heaven or hell. If by a twitter account, a person's sins can be lessened, won't hell become shrunk someday? Won't heaven become over crowded someday? What happens when Heaven is overcrowded? Moreover the basic question is, what is Heaven? Can they establish the existence of Heaven?  Like this many questions would arise which cannot stand scrutiny by logic. Hinduism also talks about heaven and hell but they can be explained in a very logical way.


The ultimate goal is Liberation from being born again. Once Liberated, the Self is equal in status with Brahman and is capable of doing anything that the Brahman can do, except one thing. That is about the Creating of the worlds. Though the Liberated Self is capable of Creation, it is not expected to do that and this is where the difference in status comes between Brahman and the Self where Brahman is a shred higher than the Self. This can be explained by a simple analogy of a father and his son. The Son is the same as Father or a replica of Father. In course of time the son becomes equal to his father in all respects. He can do everything that his father can do – except one thing – that of copulating his father's wife (his mother) for procreation. He can procreate through his own wife and make his own worlds, but he cannot create the worlds that his father had originally created with the help of his wife (mother of the son). That is how we justify that Creation of the worlds or the Universes is a prerogative of the father / Brahman and not the Self though the Self is competent to do it. For every concept, there is precedence in our land. This concept of Creation being the sole prerogative of Brahman that no Self can take up that job can be seen in the episode of Vishwamitra being asked to stop creating the worlds for Trishanku.


These explanations are given here to show how perfectly logical the Hindu concepts have been. These are all Vedanthic concepts which cannot be just picked out by a google word search of the Vedas. These have been excellently encapsulated by our rishis in Brahma sutras and Upanishads. Even those who cannot understand these texts, can get them easy at hand by reading the Bhagavad Gita.  By all this I am coming to say that if this incomparable Thought says 'worship the idol' or 'worship this deity', know  that there is some meaning in it; if it says that there are many deities (read here the rationale of many deities) and  or that there are 3003, 303 and 33 deities (read here), know then that there is some rationale in these numbers of deities.


Continuing from the 5 forms of Brahman /God , these five forms can be understood in the following way by a comparison with water. Water is the basic necessity of life. Even if there is no food, a person can survive on water. Similarly a person survives solely on God who is manifest in 5 forms.  That water is also manifest in 5 forms. That is why the comparison with 5 forms of God.

Water is available in Nature – first as

(1)    Clouds which cannot be consumed directly to quench the thirst. This is comparable to Para manifestation. You realise that Para exists. You realise that Para contains all seeds of water, but it's beyond your reach. 


(2)    Water of the ocean which cannot be drunk directly but without which water cycle cannot be sustained. The Vyuha manifestation is similar to this. Without Vyuha manifestation, worlds cannot come into existence and life cannot thrive. It is difficult to use this level of manifestation, but a realisation of this manifestation occurs once a person starts thinking about the way Brahman is manifest.


(3)    Rivers that go everywhere so that people at different places draw water from them. This is comparable to Avataras of God which continue to exist for all times so that people of different generations draw the essence from them and enrich themselves. The knowledge of avataras and their purpose helps in improving the awareness level of a person on the existence of God and on how we have to fashion our lives to improve ourselves.


(4)    Water in a well which is used by the owner of the well. This is comparable to Antaryami manifestation which is about a close / intimate  and one- to -one relationship with God. The all pervading God becomes a personal God in this level who is recognised as one who resides within oneself. The water analogy also would show how easy it is to draw water from a well which is one's own. The personal God concept is the easiest way to drink 'water' of the Grace of God and mature further in Realisation of God.


(5)    Tap water. The water that descends from the cloud and goes into ground is drawn by someone else and directed to reach us through the pipe lines in such a way that all that we have to do is to just open the tap and drink water. This is comparable to the Vigrahas or idol worship. Idol worship is the easiest way to connect with God and draw His blessings. This is not the lowest form as it is mentioned last, but it is the easiest form in which one can form a connect with God and draw the energy. The water that initially originated in the clouds finally reaches every home and every place in a single home, wherever you want, through the taps. That is the benefit of idol worship.


Depending upon the preferences of the house owner, the taps are fixed in his house from which he draws the water when he wishes. The same rationale is applied to the manifestation of numerous Gods throughout our country.

Suppose you have to cross a forest, don't worry, God is manifest there as Vana Kali to give you protection.

Suppose you have to cross a mountain, God is manifest as Muruga to guide you safely.

Suppose you have to cross a tough terrain full of dangers, Shiva's deputies Veera Bhadra or Bhairava would be there to offer you safety.

Suppose you have to cross oceans, Varuna is there to protect you. The former Tamil lands of sangam period scattered in 49 small islands in the Indian ocean were constantly under threat from the oceans and tsunamis. The people of those lands conducted Varuna festival, as "Munneer nediyOn vizha" . Even the Parathavas (the fishermen community mentioned in the last article) had worshiped Varuna, says  Pattinappaalai, a Tamil Sangam text.

In the settlements in South India, the helping God was Indra, of clouds and thunder. This region was dependant on rainfall from cyclone from the Bay of Bengal. That is why the people of Pumpuhar in the east coast worshiped Indra by means of Indra festival.


In this way, many Gods became manifest, each of them identified with a specific benefit for a community or population in a location.  In this way Muttharamman was manifest in coastal regions from whom the Parathavas drew their strength for pearl diving.

Maariyamman was manifest wherever a threat of small pox was felt.

Sitalamma was manifest when a threat of an epidemic was seen.

Village deities were manifest to protect the villagers and boundary deities (Yellai amman) were manifest to protect the boundary from enemies. The basic nature in all these Gods and Goddesses is that they are easy –to-reach forms of Para – like the availability of water from clouds to taps in your house. 


But in any of these, a Jesus or Allah does not fit in! Whatever deity you are seeing as an idol anywhere in India is the simplified form of Brahman – in our analogy, water of the cloud, the Para! This kind of conceptualisation or logical connect is not there for the Mleccha deities. Let them be Gods of Mlecchas, but to bring them to our land and claim them to be Gods equal to Hindu Gods is an act of ignorance.


One may say that these Mleccha Gods are like other Gods of Hinduism. The Parathavas (part 4) of the 16th century had no difficulty in converting to Christianity because they thought the same. Today also there are many Hindus who confer 'egalitarianism' for Gods of all religions.  They proudly flaunt their 'secular' thought by saying that they go to church or pray with Muslims as they don't find any difference between Gods. Readers would have read many articles on how this is not so. (sample ones are (here)  (here) and (here).  In this article let me bring to their notice an explanation that they would not have read anywhere except in Tamil texts.


The Tamil sangam texts contain so much information about Hinduism, Hindu  culture and the way of life of all the sections of the society that are applicable to people living in other parts of India in those days, say, in the pre Christian era. There is a specific sutra in the Sangam Grammar book of Thol Kappiyam, on how a deity is consecrated. (PuRaththiNAi Iyal – 63).


It is a 4 +2 process in which a deity can be "sighted" and made into an idol and then worshiped. Initially there must be a "Sighting"  (Kaatchi), which decides that it deserves to be worshiped.  Then a "stone" (Kaal kOL) is identified and cut out. Then it is "bathed in sacred waters" (Neer-p-padai).  Then the image of the being to be worshiped is drawn or carved out in this stone and installed (Nadukal), in the place where the 'sighting' was seen. With this the 4 step consecration is over. Then "offerings" (perum padai) are done by which formal initiation of worshiping is begun. Then "praising" or puja (Vaazhthuthal) is done by which worship is concluded. Worship of this consecrated deity continues for ever from then onwards.

The relevant Sutra in Tamil is as follows:

"காட்சி கல்கோள்2 நீர்ப்படை நடுதல்3
சீர்த்தகு மரபில் பெரும்படை வாழ்த்தலென்று" (புறத்திணை இயல்- 63)


A transliteration of this:-

"Kaatchi kaalkOL neer-p-padai naduthal

Seer-th-thagu marabil perum padai vaazhththal enRu" (Tholkappiyam – II., PuRaththiNai iyal - 63)

Meaning:- "Sighting, finding a stone, bathing it and fixing it, and offering food in the great tradition and singing in praise"

There are two types of sightings. One is what people had seen as visions or a deity appearing in person, or speaking to them. In this case, the Para-Brahma in its various manifestations had made itself felt (like in many instances of Vana-Kali – infact the Tholkappiyam sutra mentions this sighting etc process in Mullai lands which are forest tracts) or appeared in person like in the case of Divya Desams of Vishnu. Every Divya Desa has its origin in Vishnu having appeared to saints or kings or a devotee and conferred some good on them or for the land. The place where such a sighting of Vishnu was reported came to have an idol of that deity in the very place where the sighting took place.


Even in the absence of such sightings, deities had been consecrated in the following ways:-

(1)    Para Itself is self-manifest in some form– This is called Swaymbhu. Lord Kedarnath comes in this category.  

(2)    Established by Devas.

(3)    Established by Siddhas and rishis.

(4)    Consecrated by humans.


The 2nd type of sighting pertains to human beings! A popular example is Kannagi. She was seen being approached by a celestial car from the sky. Her departed husband appeared in celestial form from that car. She ascended the car with him and was gone. Some hunters in the vicinity saw this extraordinary sight and reported it to the Cheran King. The king decided to erect a temple for her at that site, for which he went to the Himalayas to cut out a stone and bathed it in the Ganges. Back home he had the image of Kannagi carved out in it and consecrated it on an auspicious day at that place where the sighting occurred. The consecration by Vedic Homas made her a three-in-one Shakthi having  Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathy. The praising part of the episode speaks of her as the daughter of Himavan, - as she (the stone for making her image) was brought from the Himalayas.  A young woman of Pumpukar was thus made a deity on par with Parvathy. All these parts of the process starting from Kaatchi (sighting) have been detailed in separate chapters in Silappadhikaram.


This consecration took place in the beginning of the Christian era. But numerous consecrations of departed people had taken place much prior to this period. The Tholkappiyam sutra says that this is how the tradition had been or how it was in times prior to the time of Tholkappiyam. There are many sangam poems on such deifications. The sighting on such occasions was about the valiant soldiers who died by saving the country and / or people. The place where the dead body of such a valiant one was found was considered as "Katchi" (sighting). The above mentioned process of Kaatchi, KalkOL etc was done to those dead persons. Instead of carving out the stone, the name of the dead person was carved and consecrated at the very place where his body was found.  


In the instances where extraordinary sightings or experiences were seen or felt, the image of the dead person was drawn on the stone and worshiped. Those who go out to war with rivals in a bid to save their own country / community men, used to worship these deities. The departed ones of the consecrated deities are said to help them or accompany them or bless them in winning over the rivals and returning safely. Today these are known as Hero stones, but a reading of the sangam texts show that they were revered as Gods. There is even a verse in Purananuru that asks "Can there be any deity other than the one who died by killing an elephant in his bid to drive out the enemies."  (Pura nanuru 335). The one who saved masses and lost life in the process of saving was deified as a Deva!


This brings us to the concept of Hindu Thought that says that the Self can be born as a Deva, or man or an animal or a plant.  The Devas are not in some people in inaccessible lands. The Self that was once in a man's body goes to occupy a Deva body.  In this way, even the departed ancestor is considered as a Deva in Hindu Thought. The consecration on stone does happen for the departed ancestors too (or anyone who is departed) on the concept that stone binds energy (or the Self). But on the 10th day after death, the stone is left in the flowing water. In the case of valiant deaths, the stone is consecrated in a site and worshiped thereafter.


This difference has a symbolism which can be derived from verse 263 of Purananuru, the Sangam text. This verse says that the deified person in the stone continues to protect the people who come to him seeking help. It is like, how the stone is stalling the waves of water, this Deva in the stone is stalling the flow of water of destiny of the people. This description rings a contrast to the stones that are installed initially for the departed ancestors. On the 10th day, the stone in which the departed ancestor is fixated is left in the water as a symbolism for the departed one getting further taken away by the flow of Destiny.  But the stone (idol) of the departed person who died while saving the country becomes empowered to save the people against the current of Destiny.  This is how the concept of Devas with the power to save people is rationalised.  


There are many regional deities throughout India which were once living persons and have been deified due to some exemplary act they did while living or dying. Many regional sects have such deities worshiped exclusively by them. A common thread in all these deities is that they were all sons or daughters of this soil, suffered for this soil and its people and have been deified by them for glorification or protection or even to discourage them from harming them. One example for the last reason can be read in the 1881 Census records. It says that in a village in Punjab, in North West India, "an imperial trooper was once burnt alive by the shed in which he was sleeping catching fire, and it was thought well to propitiate him by a shrine, or his ghost might become troublesome. He was by religion a Musulmán; but he had been burnt and not buried, which seemed to make him a Hindoo. After much discussion the latter opinions prevailed, and a Hindoo shrine, with an eastern aspect, now stands to his memory." The unnatural and gory death of a person was feared to cause troubles to the people and therefore it was thought to be better to appease his ghost by worship.


Confusions arose in the way of worship after people were Islamised. Yet another incident recorded in the report prior to this information speaks about a dilemma among a community on how to do ancestral worship after a part of the community was converted into Islam. A common ancestor had died and the converted people could not forget the age-old practice of worshiping the ancestors. Finally it was decided to build a grave for the ancestor facing the South in the Mohammedan way and construct a shrine upon it facing the east in the Hindu way! Whatever be their religious identity today, the fact is that these people belong to this land from a long chain of ancestors who were Hindus. The same holds good for Indian Christians too.  Their deities were from this soil. Their deified ancestors were from this soil and the valiant heroes who became deities to protect them came from this soil, died for this soil and died for their ancestors. If they fail to form a connect with these deities, only they will be the losers.


Their imported Gods from Israel or Mecca have no affinity to our land. They were not sons of our soil nor were they deified in the way our departed people were deified to become powerful Gods. So they cannot give what the Gods of our land can give. Nor are they manifestations of Brahman, the Supreme Power that exists in Nature. (Recall whatever is written above. There are 2 types of manifestation, one, Brahman Himself manifesting in 5 forms of which the 5th one is in the form of idols. The numerous naturally occurring Devathas such as Vana Durga are part of these manifestations. The other type is that of Man becoming Deva.). Even if they claim that they too had sightings or marvels done by their Gods of Mleccha lands, that is not because of any power on their part. That is because of the power of this land.

As I wrote in Part 3 of this series, the shape of the land does matter in the manifestation of unique energy forms in a land. The triangular shape identified with Kali Yantra traps or aids in the manifestation of unknown energy forms. It must be noted that Bermuda Triangle is a region where unknown and powerful energy get manifest within a region of triangular shape. England where crop circles that defy the present scientific knowledge appear in great numbers is triangular in shape. Similarly Sicily where such crop circles appear frequently also is triangular in shape. For more details go through the article here.


The naturally occurring triangular shape of India facilitates the manifestation of Energy forms which when channelized through Vedic Homas and tapped through meditation, result in the manifestation of Gods of different hues, which are all Brahman in some form.  It is possible to establish temples anywhere in the world, but for God to have come down by His own to take up a home for Himself, the triangular shape of Bharat acts as a facilitator. That perhaps explains why our ancients refused to move out of Bharat, but drove out those who did not comply with Dharma in this land.  Hinduism is the natural religion of India and India is the home of Hinduism. This status cannot be changed. If people – like the current generation of secularists and Mleccha religionists – try to disturb this equation, the land and the manifested deities would flare up until it regains the original equilibrium.  We are crossing such a period of flaring up. The Pralaya at Kedranath is one such indiactor.


Why a person thinks of God?

Basic human tendency is craving for something. After the fulfilment of every kind of wish, man moves to craving for higher levels of wishes – something like what is explained in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. People can be categorised on the basis of the wishes they nurture towards God. They are 4 in number.


(1)    Those who seek wealth or gratification of material or mundane desires.

(2)    Those who seek release from the sufferings they experience

(3)    Those who are keen on knowing what all this stuff about God is. These people ask about what is Self, what is Atman and why we are born and so on. All these three categories of people develop a connect or affinity with God in the course of seeking to fulfil their wishes.

(4)    Those who are wise (gyani). These people have no wishes to be fulfilled as they realise that all these - even the wishes - are His Creation and that we are all a part in His Creation Play.


A cursory reading of these four types of wishes would show that there is no scope to go beyond the first two levels in the case of Mleccha religions. The natural desire of man with a thinking mind is to move over to the 3rd level of seeking answers to questions about himself and the world outside. The Mleccha religions give no scope for that search.


The first two categories centre around the last 3 manifestations of Brahman namely Avataras, Antaryami and Vigrahas. The 3rd category is in the intermediate period between last three and the first two forms of manifestations (Para and Vyuha). The 4th category people see Brahman as Para.


One example for the 4th category can be shown from the episode on Shabari in Ramayana. Shabari was serving the rishis at Matanga ashrama. When the time came for the rishis to depart, Shabari wanted to accompany them. But they asked Shabari to stay back to serve Rama when he would be visiting the ashrama.  By serving Rama, she would attain higher realms. A question comes why the rishis didn't stay back for some more time to have a darshan of Rama. Were they not interested in getting the darshan of Rama? The answer is that they were already enlightened ones and had attained oneness with Brahman. In that state they can see Rama or Krishna in any place they want and at any time they want. Such is the power of the one who is a gyani (wise) and who is in the verge of attaining Liberation or had attained Liberation. For such wise beings, God in a form or a manifestation makes no difference with what they eternally know as God.  


Explained in this way, the ultimate aim of birth is to realise the Self as one with Brahman. This happens at the Thought level. It is by thought, all our words and actions are shaped.  Actions further beget reactions.  That is how the cycle of karma keeps rolling endlessly. Now start reading from the 3rd paragraph in the beginning of this article. For all our actions to be channelized, redefined and refined, we need a God – a focal Brahman who serves both as a means and also as an end.


In the process of connecting with God, the more you are maturing, the closer you come to God. The instances of God appearing in person (in the form that the devotee has worshiped) or speaking to God or the voice of God heard as Akasha vani are not impossible. The so-called "wrath" of God as witnessed with Dhari Devi can be explained in this context.


Let me narrate an incident from Manimegalai, one of the 5 Tamil Epics to explain the above paragraph. This text written by a contemporary of the author of Silappadhikaram puts its date somewhere in the 1st or 2nd century AD. The narration I am going to give here refers to the period of Parasurama explained in this Epic. Parasurama's wrath was not confined to North India alone. The kings of the South also were greatly frightened by the vow of Parasurama. The Cholan King ruling form Pumpukar decided to live in hiding in Kodagu in the ashram of sage Agasthya.  He anointed his son, Kanthaman,  born to a concubine to the throne as he felt that Parasurama would not consider Kanthaman as a Kshatriya. This king had 2 sons.


Once when a married Brahmin woman by name Maruthi came to take bath in the river Kaveri, one of the sons of King Kanthaman called her with a desire to possess her. This shocked Maruthi who went into the temple of Sambapathi (the Protector deity of Jambhu dweepa. In Tamil it is known as Sambu theevu, and hence the deity is named as Sambu Devi or Sambapathi) and cried why the deity did not kill him or teach him a lesson the moment he cast his eye on a married woman. Note this is similar to how people think that the God they devoutly worship does not redeem their suffering. Let us see what the deity says in reply. It says that if a woman treats her husband as God and serves him as God even while not serving any other God, whatever she says would happen. If such a woman says 'let it rain now', it would rain immediately. (There is a Thirukkural of the same meaning.) Though Maruthi served her husband as God, she worshiped other Gods too, which made her less powerful in converting her thought into instant action to be done by Natural forces. The deity reasoned that it is because of this, the king's son did not get instant rebuke.


Note here, the rebuke is not supposed to come from the deity, though we formally say that the deity punishes people for the misdemeanour. But what the deity says here is that the rebuke or punishment or reaction to happen to the opponent who causeed harm to one, comes as a result of what one is possessed in terms of strength of the mind or thought and work – which in this case is her complete devotion to her husband by not even diverting her attention to God.


However, said the deity, that the reaction would come late – say, within 7 days when he would be punished by the king. If Maruthi had been cent percent steadfast in her power of attention to her Husband as God, it would have become possible for the deity to hand over the punishment instantly on anyone who casts his eye on her with evil intentions. Such a punishment was given in the case of another woman, by name Vishaka, when the other son of the king Kanthaman wanted to possess her which he thought he could signal by taking out the garland wound on his head,  and throwing it on her shoulder. With this intention, when he raised his hand towards his head, it could not be brought down. Vishaka's steadfastness in her sense of morality, facilitated an instant deliverance of punishment to the one approached her with a wrong intention.


This narration is being told here to show 2 ideas. One is that the deity giving a 'punishment' or 'not giving a punishment' is not the deity's making, nor is it its intention. The punishment to the one who causes suffering is related to the already existing inner nature of the one who suffered. A seemingly innocent one may be getting a raw treatment from another. But the 'another' may not be getting any punishment immediately or within a palpable time frame. The reason is as much traced to the moral and spiritual uprightness of the supposedly innocent one. He must be having a karmic burden that warrants a suffering and hence however he may be innocent in a given situation, the perpetrator of the crime could not be punished immediately. 


What we must note here is that God has no role in having caused the suffering to the innocent or in having let off the criminal. It is all about a realignment of the plus and minus of all the players involved with God as the witness. The Vishaka episode shows that the more one is upright, no one can afford to cause harm to them. The rebuke would be instant and heavy too as if one who hits the mountain would get badly hurt while nothing would happen to the mountain. In this context I want the readers to relate the gory scenes and the hardships witnessed in the pralaya in Kedarnath.  Any experience comes in proportion to what we already possess as told in the case of Maruthi and Vishaka. 


The 'wrath' of the Dhari Devi can also be understood from this narration, in that the more powerful the deity is, any violation done to it would invite instant backlash. This deity has expressed itself as a Akasha vani in the past. That must have alerted the people on the kind of supreme manifestation in Dhari Devi. Those who disturb Her would stand disturbed.


The second idea is about a woman treating her husband as God! A woman who is devoted to her husband in the nature of Sthree dharma told in scriptures is supposed to attain higher realms that even her husband cannot attain. What is implied here is the 'attitude' that such a woman has towards her husband which is in the nature of attitude or devotion towards God. Here the husband is not a God, but by treating him as God such a woman finds it possible to show selflessness, compassion, care, servitude, and such other qualities that make one saatwic.


One easy example is the way such a woman forgets even her hunger until her husband has finished eating. Only after he eats, she would take whatever is left over. Imagine a man sitting in his puja room and doing the Puja. This woman would have kept everything ready for his Puja besides taking care of cooking and children at the same time. The man would be shouting at her at times – in the middle of the Puja - why this thing is not here or that thing is not proper. You can see how his concentration is distracted. Even during the long course of the Puja he may even be feeling the pinch of hunger and hurrying up to finish the Puja to take up his food. But in all these, the woman would be very much concerned about how his needs are taken care of, to the extent of not thinking about her burden of work or hunger or anything about herself. This is the attitude needed to show towards God. What a man could not exhibit in his devotion to God, a woman can show in real time experience by treating her husband as though he is a God.  It is because this attitude comes easy and works out easily, devotees like Aazhwars imagined themselves as women and treated God in Nayaka- Nayaki bhava.


Finally, it is the attitude or thought that determines how well we grow in our path of Realisation. It is by Thought, the Brahman replicated Itself in the beginning of Creation which Upanishads say, 'It Thought May I become Many, and It became Many'. If some day the scientists identify something as the initial force that caused Creation to happen, it would be this Thought. Down the levels of Creation, this Thought continues to exist in us as our thought. It is by thought and through thought that we think of God whose identity became manifest through Thought. The journey from thought to Thought is enshrined in our existence within the Karmic map. When this map is dismantled, this journey comes to an end or it is vice versa. The legends connected with Badrinath and Kedarnath signify such an end which in other words is known as Mukthi or Moksha.  The final journey of the Self thus takes place in India only. India belongs only to Hinduism!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Stolen Ardhanarisvara Murthy in Australian Museum.


Ardhanarisvara murti stolen and kept in National Museum, Canberra Australia,
return the 'idols' to India's temples.

Published: July 21, 2013 00:37 IST | Updated: July 21, 2013 03:14 IST

Temple idol from Tamil Nadu surfaces in Australia

It was allegedly stolen from the Vriddhagisvara temple in Vriddhachalam,

where it was photographed by the French Institute of Pondicherry.

    The idol now under worship in the temple. Photo: T. Singaravelu.
  • The HinduThe idol now under worship in the temple. Photo: T. Singaravelu.

Vriddhachalam temple is unaware that its prized Ardhanarisvara is now ensconced in Sydney museum

A thousand-year-old stone sculpture of Ardhanarisvara from the historically important and popular Virddhagesevarar temple in Vriddhachalam in Tamil Nadu has surfaced in the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It is the second museum in Australia now to be involved with the purchase of possibly smuggled Indian artefacts.

Intriguingly, the temple authorities in Vriddhachalam, a town about 200 km south of Chennai, claim ignorance about any theft. They are also unaware that the idol currently under worship in the temple could be a fake one.

The Chola-period Ardhanarisvara is datable to 10th century CE.
With this revelation, that came during ongoing investigations involving Subhash Chandra Kapoor, a United States-based antiquities dealer arrested and jailed for his alleged involvement in an idol theft case, it has become apparent that the looting of Indian temple treasures is far more rampant than what was hitherto assumed or known. And, it would seem that even big and well-known temples have not been spared

The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra is already the focus of investigation with regard to another idol from Tamil Nadu that has been linked to Kapoor's operations.

The fact that the Ardhanarisvara – an androgynous from of Siva and Parvati – was missing was not noticed in Vriddhachalam so far because a relatively new idol, though vastly different in terms of details and craftsmanship, replaced the original one. The new idol, which is located in the koshta or niche near the sanctum, is in worship now.

The credit for spotting the missing sculpture goes to Vijay Kumar, a Singapore-based blogger who extensively writes about art and architecture of South India.
Following public pressure that followed the arrest of Kapoor, museums across the world barring a few have had a relook at artefacts procured from him. To its credit, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is probably the only one to release the provenance documents (pointing to the history of ownership) and list the objects it had bought from Kapoor.

Examining photos and documents, Mr. Kumar noticed that the Ardhanarisvara in Australia was strikingly similar to the one that was in Vriddhachalam. He compared it with photographs of the sculpture published by Douglas Barrett, a scholar of Chola sculptures, in one of his books in 1974 and confirmed the match. He alerted The Hindu by email and published his finding on the blog site Poetry in Stone. Following this, The Hindu, collaborating with Mr. Kumar and two investigative journalists based in the U.S. and Australia (Jason Felch of the Los Angeles Times and Michaela Boland of The Australian), unearthed further details. The French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), which has been studying South Indian temples for decades, had documented the Ardhanarisvara sculpture in Vriddhachalam in 1958, 1967 and 1974. All the three images obtained by The Hindu from the IFP visually match the Ardhanarisvara in Australia.

This has raised serious doubts about the genuineness of the provenance documents, which Kapoor provided to the Art Galley of New South Wales. One of the documents shows that Uttam Singh and Sons, a handicrafts firm in Delhi, sold the Ardhanarisvara to a diplomat in April 1970. This seems unlikely since the sculpture was in Vriddhachalam until 1974.

When The Hindu traced out the shop, which still exists in Old Delhi, and spoke to one of the sons of Uttam Singh over the phone, he said he was not aware of such a sale. He also clarified that his deceased father Uttam Singh signed only in Urdu. The receipt produced by the Australian gallery bears no signature. In an email, the gallery officials said they were looking into this issue and promised to reply in a week.

The authorities in Vriddhagisvarar temple seemed blissfully unaware of the lost sculpture and insisted that Ardhanarisvara was still there, pointing to the idol which is in worship. But this idol has no resemblance to the one photographed by Barrett and IFP. The authorities claimed that there were no records of either theft or replacement of the sculpture.

When The Hindu took up the matter with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu government department that administers most of the temples in the State, P. Dhanapal, Commissioner, acknowledged that it was a serious issue. He immediately referred the matter to the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu police for investigation.

(With inputs from A.V. Ragunathan in Vriddhachalam)

See related links on return of Indian murti-s stolen from temples and kept in Australia, Netherlands, Brithsh Museums: An intl. campaign should be mounted for restitution of antiquities from museums to the people Australia should return the Sarasvati pratimaa to a Karnataka temple where she belongs Stolen Nataraja bronze now in National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Australia should suo moto return the murti to Sripuranthan temple. British Museum must return murtis to Sarasvati temple at Dhar (S Kalyanaraman, 20 May 2012) British Museum should return two Sarasvatī Pratimā (statues) for puja in Sarasvatī temple in Dhar, India Honor the fundamental right of each state to its own cultural heritage Dhār, Bhoja and Sarasvatī: from Indology to Political Mythology and Back - Michael Willis Bhojshala: movement to recover Sarasvati pratima from British Museum Shiva Nataraja statue in Rijks Museum. Netherlands Govt., we demand return of the statue to the temple where it belongs. Petition in London court asking British Museum to return Sarasvati pratima to Bhojshala, Dhar: Dr. Subramanian Swamy. Movement against museums of the world to return Hindu temple artifacts Qatar returns statues to Greece. British Museum should return Sarasvati pratima to people in Dhar.