Sunday, July 30, 2017

IGNOU to start courses in Vedic and Indic studies next month


IGNOU to start courses in Vedic and Indic studies next month

The courses will begin next month and will be offered to applicants in India and abroad.
Smriti Kak Ramachandran 

The Swaminarayan sect has followers in many countries, especially in the United States of America, United Kingdom, South Africa and Kenya. 

A senior official of the University said the courses in Vedic and Indic studies are aimed at creating awareness about knowledge of the native people. 

“There are not many who can even tell the time sequence of the four Vedas and not many realise what is a Ved. General perception is it a collection of hymns. ….Vedas are a reflection of Indian civilisation and offer an insight into what society was all about,” an official told HT. 

The official said Indic studies will focus on the geographic, social, religious aspects of ancient Indian civilization. It will also take into account other spiritual sects and faiths such as Sufism. 

“Since the days of colonialism we have been taught history with a particular shade; more than 70% of the time we were talking ill of the Indian society—Dalits and women were ill-treated and it was a decrepit society. If that were true, why are there illustrious accounts of Greek people, who talk so highly of Indian society?” the official said. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ötzi man’s Tuscany copper axe, a proof of migration from Harappan Dwaraka?

 Ötzi man is in news again. (Ötzi was the oldest well-preserved remains of a man found on the highs of Alps and dated at around 3300 BCE wikipedia article). (As a disclaimer, let me say at the outset that this article is not about the migration of Otzi man).

After a recent discovery of the presence of the Indian- origin H.pylori bacterium in his stomach, establishing his ancestral origins in India (Subash Kak's article), now comes a research finding that says that the copper for his axe came from Tuscany in Italy.

The name Tuscany induces interest for two reasons:

(1) The presence of a specific subclade of mtDNA U, namely U1a is found only in Tuscany and also in Kerala in India.

(2) The once thriving of Urnfield culture in the same region of Tuscany at Veii of Villanovan settlements having parallels to Vel people who migrated from Dwaraka to Tamil lands at the end of Harappan culture (around 1500 BCE). Kerala and its adjoining regions in Tamilnadu and Karnataka housed these people. There even existed a region called “VeNadu” (Vel Nadu – meaning land of Vels) somewhere here in the later period of Sangam age.

Urnfield culture rings a familiarity with Indians, particularly those in Tamilnadu, as it refers to the deposition of ashes and bones after cremation in an urn and burying it underground. Such burials have been found in Adicchanallur and Sembian Kandiyur in Tamilnadu and were mentioned in many Sangma age poems.

This practice of collecting incinerated bones and ashes in pots is Vedic in origin as the very process of collection of the ashes and bones is done to the uttering of Veda mantras. The only difference is that the pots are disposed in running waters along with the collected items – here again guided by the Veda mantras.

A practice which is entirely Vedic in origin and present in India made its appearance in Tuscany and some other regions of western and central Europe that once had Celtic presence. The duration of this practice in these regions was between 1300 BC – 750 BCE. The period 1300 BCE roughly coincides with the end of Harappan civilization when Vel people of Dwaraka migrated to Tamil lands. A similar Urn culture appearing in Tuscany and West Europe around the same time gives rise to an opinion that another group of people of the same Harappan region having the same cultural habit had left for Europe and Tuscany in Italy.

Extent of Urnfield culture 1300 BCE – 750 BCE

The Ötzi man’s copper axe made of copper from Tuscany gives more hints on links with Tuscany for Harappan people of Dwaraka.

Ötzi man’s copper axe.

The date of Ötzi man is older than the period of Urn culture by nearly two millennia. What is of interest is the discovery that copper was mined in Tuscany as early as 5000 years BP. This date rings a familiarity to us, as that was when the mature phase of Harappan culture started with a sudden hike in commercial trade with Central Asia and Europe.

In the absence of evidence of manufacture of copper items in Tuscany at that period, the Ötzi man’s copper axe must have been made in another place. As of today there is no clue on the region where it was produced. At the present level of available records, Gola Dhoro, a Harappan site in the Kutch region of Gujarat stands a better chance to fit in.

The date of Gola Dhoro (2500 – 2000 BCE) is behind Ötzi man’s time by nearly 800 years. But there is scope to believe that Gola Dhoro existed much before the currently dated period. At the time of its end, Gola Dhoro was a shell and gem artefact factory.

Heaps of unused shells and half cut shells are found in that site.

But this site also has items made of copper. Copper axes, spear heads and the like are found in this site leading to a conjecture that commercial production of copper items must have existed here before it became a shell factory.

Copper items unearthed in Gola Dhoro.

Copper axe of Ötzi man

It remains to be seen if the copper axe of Otzi man has any similarities with Harappan copper tools.
Even in the absence of a research on establishing the origin of this axe to a Harappan site, there is room to believe that Harappan manufacturers of copper goods must have had knowledge of copper mining regions from where they received their supply of copper.

Copper works must have been at its advanced stage even as early as 5000 years ago known from the reference to copper-walls around Krishna’s city of Dwaraka in Tamil Sangam poems.  So the manufacturers of Kutch region must have had a good knowledge of copper mines of Europe and could have even visited those places out of professional interest.

The copper walls around Dwaraka mentioned by Sangam poets must have been in effect copper plated walls. The ruins at Bet Dwaraka caused by upsurge of sea water belonged to the period that saw the end of Harappan culture. That was around 1500 BCE. It was at that time, 18 clans of royalty connected with Krishna’s family and 18 groups of different types of artisans who originally belonged to the regions around the Ganges (who moved over to Dwaraka along with Krishna) made a migration to Tamil lands. A major group among them were experts in pottery! Potters were known as VeLs in Tamil.

Evidence of Vel Migration on the route to South.

The presence and migration of Vels from Gujarat (Gurjara) to south is established from the names of places in and around Gujarat and also on their route to the South. For example Ellora was one of the Vel settlements which is known from its name mentioned as “Velur” or Veluragam” in the inscriptions.

Sholapur was originally “Velapur”. Similar names with “Vel” or “Vela” are found on Maharashtra.
Coming further south, Belgaum was known as “Vel Gramam” in inscriptions.

Belhutti was “Vel patti” according some researchers. More of this information has been given by Mu. Raghava Iyengar in his book “Velir Varalaru” written a century ago.

Each of the 18 groups of artisans was engaged in a different kind of art or metal work. They brought everything from stone works (both building and inscribing) to pottery and copper works to gold smithy. Tamilnadu was enriched by these artisans only.

The urn culture of burying the pots underground is associated with Vels only. Earlier also potters had existed in Tamilnadu, but the huge burial pots made their appearance only with the arrival of Vel people. Until then urn pots must have been smaller in size and disposal of them was by throwing them into water as is done by Tamil Brahmins even today.

Urnfield culture of Tuscany and Europe.

The appearance of urn culture around the same time in Tuscany and spreading to adjacent regions could not have been a mere coincidence. When Dwaraka (Bet Dwaraka) suffered ruins, the people had left the city as had  happened when Krishna left the world 5000 years ago. A part of them had come to South India. Another group of them must have gone to Tuscany.

This could have happened only if those people have had some prior connection or familiarity with Tuscany. Such a connection is seen in the trade links with Tuscany from where they received their copper resources. There was a greater chance of the copper workers having made their destination to Tuscany as that could ensure continuing their profession there. They had taken along with them the Vedic practice of cremation and collecting the incinerated bones in pots. This required them to take along with them the ‘Vel’s, the potters!

The name of a town as Veii having phonetic resemblance to Vel with the Urn culture in that region gives an indication of a migration from Gujarat region of the Harappan culture which was very much Vedic in essence.

Veii s culture resembled everything that one can associate with the coastal people of Dwaraka. An interesting element in their culture is their patron Goddess Juno. She was the Goddess of prosperity and fertility and many more added after she was adopted by Roman culture. But her origin is traced to Veii people and this brings it back to Vedic concepts. That concept was none other than that of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth in Vedic society.  To understand this link, the concept of how Lakshmi got connected with Kardama is discussed below.

Lakshmi, the daughter of Kardama

Lakshmi is a popular Goddess of Vedic religion. There is hymn dedicated to her in Rig Veda. Known as Sri Sooktham it says that Lakshmi or Sri is the daughter of Kardama rishi.

Who was Kardama?

Sages had always given the concepts in amazing forms of riddles and stories and based on the etymology we have to unlock them. The story of Kardama is one such thing.

The very personification of Kardama can be best understood from Valmiki Ramayana and further unlocked from Srimad Bhagavatha.

In chapter 3-14 of Valmiki Ramayana, Rama meets Jatayu, the eagle on the way. Jatayu tells Rama about his identity by tracing the very creation of all beings from the beginning. An analysis of this description by Jatayu shows a remarkable concept of how mankind evolved with its works.

The first creation was Kardama. Kardama means mud. This refers to the land we stand and also the availability of mud as a means for the betterment of man’s life.

The 2nd creation was Sesha. Though it means the left-over, it refers to snakes.

The 3rd creation was Samshraya. It means residence or a dwelling place. Snakes make holes in the mud (ground) and make their living. It is from snakes, man perhaps learned to make dwelling places. Earliest dwellings were supposed to be subterranean. Such dwellings are found in Mehrgarh dated at 9000 years BP.

Then came Sthanu, the 4th creation. Sthanu means firm or immovable. Man came to live in permanent dwellings.  

The 5th one was MarIchi. MarIchi means ray of light or just ray. Perhaps this refers to harnessing light or making fire.

The 6th creation is Atri. Atri means the devourer. Perhaps this refers to the losses suffered as is known from the next creation.

The 7th creation was Kratu. It means sacrifice. Perhaps this refers to conceiving the idea of Almighty, an unseen power that can protect man. This idea could have come only when man suffered losses beyond his control. So Atri (previous one) as devourer makes sense. When mankind,after settling down suffered losses, the prayer to an unseen power sprang up.

The 8th creation was Pulasthya, the name associated with birth of demons. Perhaps with knowledge of the Almighty and ways to tap its benefits, man became arrogant. The case of Hiranyakashipu is a good example to relate with.

The 9th creation was Angira. He stands for Agni – of the kind used for yajnas.

The 10th creation was Pracheta. This word means clever and wise. By now man has become clever, in tapping material and Godly benefits. 

Then came Pualaha, Daksha, Vivaswan and Kashyapa.

The last 4 are mankind-proper that indicates  birth of man as thinking and civilised person.
Of them Kashyapa was the progenitor of mankind. Even now, if someone does not know the gotra, the priests in the temple would mention Kashyapa as one’s gotra and do puja in their name for the deity.

The basic components or stages of growth and maturity of mankind are explained through these names.

Then came the daughters. They were married to these men mentioned above. Kashyapa married 8 daughters of Daksha according to Jatayu in that narration. It refers to the various genetic traits (mtDNA perhaps) that gave rise to diversified growth of mankind.

For this article, I am confining myself with the issues connected with Vel, the potter.

Lakshmi was Kardama’s daughter. Kardama refers to the mud and objects connected with mud. Lakshmi as daughter of Kardama refers to the wealth and prosperity that man could make from mud. The first houses were made of mud only. That was the first level of betterment in man’s life. That is why Lakshmi is connected with Kardama from the very basic level.

Kardama had another daughter called “Shraddha” which means effort.

Shraddha was married to Angiras, the agni. With sharadha when man works with mud (kardama) and fire (Angira), the result is a pot!

After learning to make pots, which was the first innovation and industry of mankind, man became prosperous. The pot became an inevitable object for everything from birth to death and kitchen to Yajna. The increase in his standard of living was therefore attributed to the daughter of Kardama, Lakshmi.

Juno of Veii people has all the trappings of Lakshmi.

The group that left Dwaraka / Kutch region on the wake of loss of habitat around 1500 BC found a home in Tuscany where copper workers found a new lease of life. {Conditions were no longer available to get copper imports in their previous abodes in Harappan sites. This forced them to move to regions where copper was available}.

With them went the potters and their Goddess. Due to lack of contact with ancestral culture, the newly established culture in Tuscany underwent changes with successive generations. Their memories faded but their habits and allegiance to their Goddess continued with modifications.
With the coming of Greeks, every name and form was altered. Today their links can be established only through genetics. The genetic link is already established in the presence of Haplogroup U1a in Tuscany and Kerala besides very less presence in East Europe, which only indicates the route of this migration through East Europe.

My articles in Tamil on Kardama-

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rainfall Check – 5 (July 2017)

Previous articles:-

The month of July 2017 begins with 2 positive features and one negative feature, all of whom have long term and long range applications.

The foremost  positive feature or rather redeeming feature is that the forward march of the fiery planet, Mars, was put under check for the first time after nearly 10 months (since 25th  August 2016) by a meekly Mercury just a couple of days ago, on 28th June, 2017. For these 10 months a dry and dragging force was associated with Mars in upsetting the rainfall expectation and realisation. That is now removed, though the final easing of conditions would begin from 29th July when Sun overtakes Mars.

The 2nd positive feature is that Sun, Mars and Saturn are going to be in watery signs during the 2nd half of the month when Sun enters Cancer on 16th July. This position keeps them in alternate and odd signs to each other. This positional relationship between these 3 planets was the same as how it was during Chennai floods in Nov- Dec 2015. This time the location of rainfall is North India as Cancer and Scorpio occupied by them indicate North.

In addition to this, from 4th July onwards Saturn and Jupiter are going to be in watery Navamsa throughout the month of July and frequently joined with other planets such as Sun, Mars and Mercury. All through that time, Venus and Rahu are going to be in fixed signs. This combo package is supposed to bring in copious rainfall in Northern parts of India as watery signs stand for Northern direction.

The only depreesing feature throughout this month is that Venus and Mercury are moving away from each other throughout this month. The distance between them ranges from 55 degrees on 1st July to 66 degrees on 31st July.

Whenever these two planets are nearer to each other, there will be copious and continuous rainfall. When they are conjunct, the rainfall will be heavy and mostly triggered by cyclones. But this widening gap between them is a worrisome feature. This gap keeps increasing till 27th August.

So we can expect the rainfall for July to be pulled by two extreme features. This being the 2nd year of my personal observation of weather on a daily basis, the continued presence of Saturn and Jupiter in watery Navamsa and the presence of Saturn, Mars, Sun and Mercury in watery signs is something I am observing for the first time  in the background of absence of Mercury- Venus closeness.

In the past, Mercury- Venus closeness was present in most of the instances of rainfall.  Now in the absence of this feature, I am not able to rule out rainfall with so many planets getting associated with watery signs. Any success of rainfall in this month must be attributed to the planets in watery signs, and particularly to Sun, Mars and Saturn in watery signs that are in odd numbers to each other. Lack of rainfall would mean that Mercury- Venus closeness is a must for good rainfall.

The following table reveals the dominance of the planets in watery signs.

Astrological features
Spoilers, if any
July 1
Mercury continues in combustion
West India
Mars in the lead.

Ven- Sat opposition
July 1
Saturn in watery sign in Rasi and Navamsa
North India.
(Scorpio, Pisces)
Mars in the lead.

Ven- Sat opposition
July 4
Mercury comes out of combustion.
Mercury rises in the west.
Mer, Jup, Sat and Sun in watery Navamsa.  
Spurt in Rainfall
West and North India
Same as above.
July 6
Mer, Sat, Moon in watery signs +
Ven and Rahu in fixed signs.
Jup, Sat and Ven in watery Navamsa
North India (Mer in cancer & Sat in Scorpio),

Parts of East India (Rahu in Leo)

Parts of South India (Ven in Taurus)
Same as above
July 11
Mars enters cancer (watery sign).

Mer, Mars & Sat in watery signs,
Moon in Amirtha Nadi (Sravana)
Mer, Mars, Sat, Jup and Moon in watery Navamsas.

North India in the Gangetic plain
Same as above.
July 13, 14, 15
Sat, Mer, Mars in watery signs.
Moon conjunct with Ketu. Then enters watery sign.
Ven, Rahu in fixed signs.
Sat, Mars, Jup in watery Navamsas
North and North west India.
Gangetic plains.
Same as above.
July 16
Sun enters cancer.

Sun, Mars and Saturn in watery signs and in odd signs to each other with Moon in watery sign, in 5th and 9th signs from them.
Sun, Mars, Sat and Jup in watery Navamsa

Heavy rainfall.
North and east India.
Same as above
July 21
Mercury enters Leo to join with Rahu.

Ven, Mer, Rah in fixed signs while Sat, Mars and Sun are in watery and odd signs to each other
North and East India
Same as above.
July 23, 24, 25
Sat, Sun and Mars in watery signs and in odd signs to each other. Moon joins them.
Sat and Jup in watery Navamsas.
North India
Same as above.
July 26, 27 and 28
Sun in deep conjunction with Mars

Sun, Mars and sat in alternating and watery signs.
Moon joins Rahu
North India
Same as above
July 26
Venus enters next sign, Gemini.
Comes out of opposition to Saturn
West, North West India
Same as above
July 29
Sun overtakes Mars for the first time after11months  
Reduction in heat conditions in general
North India

Outlook for Chennai.

The Chennai scenario is depressing. The local Garbottam hinting at rains on 29th and 30th June did not materialise, though there were drizzles in some parts of Chennai on 30th June. One reason could be the lack of support from planetary combinations.  Presently the planetary combinations at Gemini are active in giving rainfall. Gemini signifies west and is occupied by Mercury which was in combustion right from 9th June. When Mercury entered Sowmya Nadi (Arudra star) on 21st June, rainfall picked up in the western section of India. This combustion ends on 4th July. Other features are given in the above table.

When a local Garbottam fails to give expected rainfall in a place due to some reason, it would anyway give rainfall that is due in the next Garbottam date but accompanied with gusty winds or hails.  This was noticed on 27th June when parts of Chennai experienced rainfall accompanied with heavy winds. The previous day was supposed to have experienced some rainfall but that rainfall did not materialise. The very next day also was in the Garbottam radar. It rained then but accompanied with gusty winds. By 27th June, planetary support for rainfall ended for Chennai.

The last 3 days of June (28th, 29th and 30th) also were supported by local Garbottam. I have added an update on the reality check at the end of the article on June Rainfall (Read here). The next rainfall date is likely to be gusty. July 1st happens to be such a date as it is supported by local Garbottam. The corresponding Garbottam dates were 20th and 21st January 2017.

One can see the rain bands at the present times (on 30th June) in North and west India corresponding to the cloud movement on 20th and 21st January (satellite pictures below). The only disappointment is Chennai. A plausible explanation for this is the lack of support from planetary combinations. Only Western section is in the planetary line of rainfall. Added to this is the dragging effect by the absence of Mercury- Venus closeness.

The rainfall realisation time for these two dates comes at night / evening / sun set on 1st July.
The next probable date is July 6th which corresponds to 26th January (satellite picture below). On that date it rained in many places in Chennai but not in may place. We have to wait and see if it rains on that date.

One can see the cloud cover on 26th January in North and North West India. It coincides with current position of planets in watery signs that signify North.

Now let’s take a look at the Garbottam chart for Chennai for July.

 July is not at all promising for the parched Chennai!

Updated on 6th August 2017:-

Final Rainfall tally for July 2017
First 2 columns pertain to Garbottam observation. 
In the last column marked 7, the actual rainfall realization is marked in blue.
The red one is failure of expected rainfall. 

Important observations and learnings are:- 

# The first rain expected on July 1st came on July 3rd. Upon checking, the thithi is split at the time of garbottam. So pinpointing the date becomes messy. For example assume that there was garbottam between 8 AM and Noon on a day. During garbottam a thithi may end and another may begin. Assume that Navami ends and Dasami begins. So it must rain at the night of both Navami and Dasami. On the rainfall realization time, this would be split into two days as the night time of Dasami would come nearly 24 hours after night time of Navami. 

# Another problem in the ascertaining the thithi, particularly during Garbottam, is the variations between Panchangs on duration of a thithi. Thithi at Garbottam is very important and must be accurate to decide on the rainfall thithi. So this kind of errors can be seen. 

# Based on this when rainfall realization occurs a day after the garbottam thithi, it might be due to this error in thithi duration.

# When it occurs 2 days after the garbottam, division of a thithi at the time of garbottam can be noticed/ The failure of rainfall on 1st July and its arrival on 3rd July come under this category.

# Rainfall between 6th to 9th come under this category. The rainfall on 12th also come under this category. 

# The drizzles on 18th and 19th are associated with garbottam that was noticed a month later. 

The is due to the jumping of months - like in adhik masa.

Normally two lunar phases come one after the other in a solar month (the counting of dates for rainfall is done on the basis of solar months)

At times, one lunar phase comes almost exactly in the middle of the solar month and the other comes in two halves in the beginning and end of the month.

For example assume that 2nd half of waxing phase comes in the first week of a solar month. This is followed by a full waning phase. This is followed by the 1st half of the next waxing phase in the last week of the solar month. The dates based on thithis of the lunar phase gets jumbled in Gregorian calendar . 

This happened in July rainfall period. Take a look at July 19th. 
The corresponding Garbottam was on Feb 8th which was a dry day. So I didn't expect any rainfall on 19th July. But it drizzled in my location and reasonably well in some parts of Chennai on 18th and 19th July. 

While preparing August chart, I noticed., the date March 8th tallies with previous phase, that is in the previous part of the month. This shows that we have to check the next month's garbottam dates also for the previous month's rainfall.

July 19th got rains on that basis. The thithi conjunction resulted in the rainfall splitting into 2 days. 

The next date of rainfall was July 29th.
Rainfall of July 29th in my place has no garbottam to back up.
But it was an important date as Sun crossed Mars on that date.
Mars was in the forefront for nearly a year.
When Sun was nearing Mars there was a sudden spurt in temperature. 
But at the time of Sun taking over Mars it rained. 

But on that day, the "Kaappu-kattal" ceremony in a Mariamman temple in my locality was performed to initiate a Utsav for Amman. The local belief is that it will rain on the day of Kappu-kattal. Homas, chantings and unknown causes are also responsible for unexpected rains (July 29th rain was unexpected as there was no support by garbottam, but Moon - Jupiter conjunction was there at the time of rainfall).

The general belief in our country is that "nallaar oruvar uLarEl, avar poruttu, ellaarkkum peyyum mazhai" 
Auvaiyar has said:-

நல்லார் ஒருவர் உளரேல் அவர் பொருட்டு
எல்லார்க்கும் பெய்யும் மழை

Perhaps this also must be borne in mind........