Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The First President


Bharata Ratna Babu Rajendra Prasad was a saint among politicians. After a brilliant academic career, he enjoyed a lucrative practice at the bar. One of the earliest and foremost disciples of Gandhiji, he plunged into the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 and devoted the rest of his life to the national cause and the independence movement. He was many times Congress President. With India’s attaining independence, he became Union Minister and President of the Constituent Assembly. He reached the pinnacle of fame as the first President of the Indian Republic and served in that capacity for three terms. Devout and deeply religious, he was an embodiment of the best values in Indian Culture.

Even as President of the country, Rajendra Babu had great concern towards the inconvenience caused to the public whenever he or any other dignitary visited a particular place in his official capacity. In a letter written to India’s first Prime Minister Sri. Jawaharlal Nehru, he wrote:

“I have myself felt and expressed on several occasions my concern about public inconvenience caused by over-elaborate police and security arrangements. I think it is overdone in most cases.

If no such arrangements are made, all that will be required is to give a few minutes more for my transit from one place to another; this loss of my time for a few minutes has to be set off against many more minutes of thousands and thousands of people of the country. As for security, I am afraid what is done in its name only exposes me more as a target to anyone determined on mischief without in anyway making me more secure against such mischief”

Babu Rajendra Prasad and Jamnalal Bajaj were two close inmates of Gandhiji’s Sabarmathi and Wardha Ashrams. They were also equally devoted to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi at the Sri Ramanashram. Recalling his meeting with Rajendra Prasad in 1938, Bhagavan has said:

“Some time ago, Gandhiji came to Tiruvannamalai. A meeting had been arranged to be held on the road round the hill, beyond the Ashram. People here thought that he would come to the Ashram on his way back, but owing to pressure of the crowds it was impossible and he went away direct to the station. It seems he very much regretted this afterwards. When Rajendra Prasad and Jamnalal Bajaj came here in 1938 and saw the Skandashram, they wanted to induce the Mahatma to stay here for sometime. But it did not happen. If at Sabarmathi or at Wardha anyone said that he was mentally depressed, the Mahatma used to say “Go to Ramanashram and come back after a month’s stay there”

In 1956 Rajendra Prasad had opened a Savings Bank Account [S.B. 3068] in the Exhibition Branch of the Punjab National Bank, Patna. The account has been preserved even today as a tribute to the man who remained the First Citizen for 12 consecutive years from 1950-1962. It has been declared as a ‘National Heritage’. In normal circumstances, the account number would have become dormant since it is non-operational for the past 45 years. One prime reason for the account being inoperative is that the First President did not make anybody his nominee while opening the account. In those days, the practice of making a nominee was not much in vogue. As on date the account has a balance of Rs. 1508 [one thousand five hundred and eight rupees] to which interest is added every year. It appears that the Head Office of the Punjab National Bank decided that the account No.3068 should be declared a National Heritage
as Rajendra Prasad was the first person from Bihar to become the first President of Independent India.

“Oh! Rajen Babu, Thou shouldst be living at this Hour

India has need of thee”


Article No.476---BABU RAJENDRA PRASAD,the First President of Republic India
Created: Thursday, December 4, 2008 1:29 AM

The Power Of Hindu Mysticism


Acharya Shankara [788-820]: When Acharya Shankara returned to Madhyarjuna pilgrim centre [now known as Tiruvidaimarudur] during his Vijaya Yatra, many learned scholars approached Sri Shankara and said “We know that Advaita as propounded by you in your treatises is the underlying principles of the Vedas [Shrutis]. However, in this context if there could be a divine display of this considered view, then everybody will be convinced that Advaita is the irrevocable doctrine of Vedanta.
Immediately thereafter, Sri Shankara went to the altar of Mahalingaswamy, the deity of Madhyarjuna along with the scholars and prayed “O Bhagavan, thou art the knower of the significance of the Vedas. The Vedas are your manifestation. Therefore, you should declare in doubtless terms the doctrine contained in the Vedas”. Suddenly the Lord, appearing out of the Mahalinga vigraha, held aloft his right hand and declared in thunderbolt like voice “Satyam Advaitam, Satyam Advaitam, Satyam Advaitam”

Sri Ramanujacharya [1017-1137]: Sri Ramanuja, the foremost exponent of Vishishtadwaita, went on foot in search of his guru Yamunacharya at Srirangam to take over the mantle of leadership from him, as Yamunacharya was almost nearing his end. By the time he reached Srirangam, Yamunacharya had passed away and arrangements were being made for his Samadhi. When Ramanuja went to have darshan of the dead body of his Guru, he was amazed to find that the three fingers of the right hand of the dead Swamiji were folded. There was a sudden intuitive flash in the heart of Ramanuja and he felt that the phenomenon of closed fingers signified three tasks which were close to the heart of the dead Acharya and which he could not take up while alive. These works were: 1 To write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras of Badarayana
2. To write a commentary on the Divya Prabandham, the Sookthis of the divine
Alwars in Tamil
3. Firmly establish and spread the name of Sage Parashara, the author of Sri
Vishnu Puranam.
Ramanuja openly took a pledge to perform these three desired tasks. Immediately the three fingers of the dead Acharya returned to their normal positions.

Sri Madhvacharya [1238-1317]: Sri Madhavacharya, one of the three giant pillars of the Hindu philosophical thought, was once meditating near the seashore of Malpe on the West Coast. He noticed a ship caught in the midst of rough weather and the captain giving a distress signal. When Madhvacharya noticed this, he started waving his saffron coloured upper garment when the ship started sailing towards the shore and reached it safely. Grateful for having saved the ship and its crew from an impending disaster, the Captain of the ship requested the Swamiji to choose whatever was there in the ship as a gift. The Acharya wanted only a dried heap of sandalwood paste [Srigandha], which he knew by his yogic power, contained an idol of Lord Srikrishna. He carried it to Udupi, singing the popular Dwadasha Stotram and had it installed there. According to tradition, Rukmini worshipped the idol earlier and when Dwaraka got submerged, sandal paste covered the idol, only to be retrieved by a saint later.

Sri Raghavendra Swamy [1598-1671]: When Sri Raghavendra Swamy was adorning the Mantralaya Math, Sir Thomas Munro was an Administrative Officer of the East India Company. He was entrusted with the job of bringing the land of Mantralayam under the Company’s rule as per the policy of Permanent Settlement. The natives and devotees vehemently opposed the move, as they thought it was a religious sacrilege to encroach upon the holy premises of the Math. Fortunately for the devotees, Sir Thomas Munro, even though a Britisher was a great devotee of Swamiji. With a view to assessing the exact situation on the spot, Munro made a personal visit to Mantralayam.
It is said when Munro reverentially took off his shoes and stepped into the Math, Sri Raghavendra Swamy appeared before him in a vision and both became involved in a conversation. However, no one could see or hear this.. The matter became public only when the Madras Government Gazette subsequently published about this incident.. Munro, it is interesting to note, soon became the Governor of Madras Presidency and cancelled the order to annex Mantralayam to the British Government As a token of gratitude for having saved the Math premises from the occupation of the British, the Temple authorities offered special worship to Sri Raghavendra and sent the Prasadam [Mantrakshata] to Munro who accepted it with all reverence.

Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra [18th Century]: Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra, a great Jeevanmuktha and a music composer [ known for his songs like Broohi Mukundeti, Pibare Rama Rasam, Khelathi Mama Hrudaye etc ] lived in the 18th Century and has been held in highest esteem and reverence by the Shankara Math, Sringeri. He gave up his mortal frame sometime between 1750 and 1753 at a village known as Nerur, about 12 kms from Karur in Tamil Nadu. He knew very much in advance when the end would come and that when he would enter Samadhi. He had specified the date and time to his followers and identified the place for the Samadhi. He had further said that on the 9th day after his Samadhi, a Bilva tree would sprout from his Samadhi and on the 12th day, a Brahmin from Kashi would bring a Lingam which was to be consecrated and a temple built, exactly 12 feet from the Samadhi towards the East. People in large numbers had assembled on the 9th and 12th days to witness the miracles. As prophesized, the Bilva tree sprang up on the 9th day and a Brahmin from Kashi turned up on the 12th day with the Lingam. This Lingam has been subsequently consecrated and a temple around has been built as specified by Sadashiva Brahmendra. Even today, people who go to Nerur can see both the ancient Bilva tree and the temple built around the Lingam

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa [1836-1886]: Just a week before he passed away on 16th August 1886, Sri Ramakrishna asked a close disciple to read to him from the Bengali Panchangam the dates from the 25th day of the Shravanamasa [9th August] onwards. The disciple read until he came to the last day of the month. The Master then made a sign to stop it. Four or five days after this, the Master called Narendranath [Swami Vivekananda] to his side. There was nobody else in the room. He made Narendra sit before him and gazing at him fell into Samadhi. Narendra felt a subtle force like an electric shock penetrating his body. Gradually, he, too, lost outward consciousness. He did not remember how long he sat there. When he came to normal consciousness, he found Sri Ramakrishna weeping. On being asked why he wept, the Master said “Today I have given you all and I have become a Fakir! Through this power you will do immense good to the world and then only shall you go back”, It was in this way that Sri Ramakrishna passed on his powers to Narendra. Henceforth Ramakrishna and Narendra became one soul in two bodies. Vedanta as revivified in the life of the Master found in the person of Narendra a worthy disciple, an effective instrument to bring about the world-wide regeneration of our Sanathana Dharma.

Swami Vivekananda [1863-1902]: Even though much pressed by his close associates, Swami Vivekananda was undecided and confused about his going to Chicago for the Parliament of World Religions. During his visit to the South and when he was in Kanyakumari, he swam through the rough sea and reached the rock [now known as Vivekananda Rock] , quarter of a mile away, in the last week of December 1892. He stayed on the rock for three days for deep meditation. There he had a great vision of the future of the country. One night, as he laid half asleep, the command came to him in a symbolic dream. Vivekananda saw the figure of his Master, Ramakrishna, walking from the seashore into the waters of the ocean and beckoning him to follow. He woke up. A great peace and joy filled his whole being; his mind seemed to have been impressed with the authoritative “GO”. The vision sustained him. He thought it to be a direct command from above. All his doubts and misgivings were dispelled and he made up his mind to go to Chicago.

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi [1879-1950]: A gentleman from Kashmir came to Sri Ramanashram with his Assistant who could not speak a word of any other language except his native Kashmiri. One night when the Hall was almost dark except for the pale grimmer of a hurricane lantern, the Assistant alone came to the Hall and stood before Bhagavan in a respectful manner jabbering something rapidly in his language. Bhagavan said nothing and sat quietly gazing at him. After a while, the Assistant saluted and left the Hall. Next morning his master came to Bhagavan and complained “Bhagavan, you never told me that you could speak Kashmiri, Was it fair? When Bhagavan asked how he thought so, he said “Last night my assistant came to you and asked several questions in Kashmiri. He tells me that you answered him in the same language and cleared all his doubts”. The Maharshi replied “I never opened my mouth”.

Maharshi Aurobindo [1872-1950]: Aurobindo passed away on 5th December 1950. As he had innumerable devotees spread all over the world who wanted to have his last Darshan, it was expected that the Samadhi would not take place earlier than 7th December. By that time the grave was ready and the Samadhi would take place at anytime. But instead of the burial on that day, an announcement came from the Mother who said “The funeral does not take place today. His body is charged with such a concentration of supernatural light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed as long as it remains intact”.
As the French Colony had a legal regulation that no dead body should be kept unburied longer than 48 hours, the French officials thought that the Ashram was breaking the laws. On the morning of 7th December, the French Government deputed one of their doctors by name Dr. Barbet who inspected Aurobindo’s body. At the end of the examination, the doctor reported that it was a ‘Miracle’ and that there was no deterioration whatsoever, no rigor mortis. It was an unheard of occurrence in medical history, according to the doctor.

The body was finally laid to rest on 9th December 1950 in the evening.

H.H. Sri CHandrashekhara Bharati [1892-1954]: His Holiness was the 34th Pontiff of the Sringeri Math. Once during mid-summer, while feeding was about to start in the open courtyard within the Math campus, clouds gathered, heavy winds blew and heavy downpour was imminent. Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati, who was returning to Narasimhavanam from Sri Sharada Temple, saw many women and children sitting in rows for taking food and the rains about to fall.
He halted for a minute, took his upper cloth and waved it over his head towards the sky and walked away. The women and children who were in the courtyard finished the food and hurried to their homes. Immediately thereafter the clouds gathered again and there was a heavy downpour.

The Paramacharya of Kanchi [1894-1994]: Following in the footsteps of Acharya Shankara, the Paramacharya took an all-India tour on foot for 20 years from 1919 to 1939.
Since 1927, a dog was following the Paramacharya and his retinue of the Math. It was a strange dog—an intelligent animal without the least trace of uncleanliness. It would keep watch over the camp during nights. It would eat only the food given to it by the Math. The Acharya would therefore enquire every evening if the dog had been fed. When the camp moved from one place to another, the dog would follow, walking underneath the palanquin. When the entourage stopped so that the devotees of the wayside villages could pay their homage, it would run to a distance and watch devoutly from there, only to rejoin the retinue when it was on the move again.
One day, a small boy hit the dog. The dog was about to retaliate when the officials of the Math, in fear, caused the dog to be taken to a distance of 25 miles blindfold and left it in a village. But strange as it may seem, the dog returned to where the Acharya was, even before the person who had taken it away could return. From that day onwards the dog would not eat without seeing the Acharya and stayed till the end of its life with the Math.


Created: Friday, November 28, 2008 9:31 PM

Longfellow And A Psalm Of Life


“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
ootprints on the sands of time”-----H.W.Longfellow

These memorable lines and oft-quoted verse were written by the famous American poet H.W.Longfellow [1807-1882] nearly 150 years ago and form a part of his well-known poem ‘A Psalm of Life’. Born in 1807 in Portland, Maine, USA in an orthodox New England family, Longfellow entered Bowdoin College at the age of 15, tavelled extensively at the age of 20 and by the time he was 22, started writing and tried to bring the Romantic tradition in English literature in America. When he was 24 he married Mary Potter, daughter of a Portland judge. Twelve years after his marriage his wife delivered a baby but unfortunately she died in childbirth. This was a great setback to Longfellow in his flourishing literary career. Ten years later, he took a second wife by name Elizabeth Appleton who was extremely charming. Both Longfellow and Elizabeth led a happy life for a few years.

One afternoon Elizabeth was sealing some envelopes using burning wax. Unfortunately the burning wax fell on her flimsy dress which immediately caught fire. Although Longfellow extinguished the flame, Elizabeth was so badly burned that she died the next morning. The ghastly sight of the burnt body of his wife, so beautiful and bewitching when it had life, upset Longfellow so much that he could not completely recover from this shock. At that time he was working as Professor in the Harvard University.

Every crucial experience in life can be regarded as either a setback or the beginning of a new kind of development. In the case of Longfellow the loving memory of his beloved haunted him for quite sometime. Though life had become an empty dream for him, he knew that he could not remain in that dejected, unbearable state any more. It was exactly at that moment of agony, he heard an inner voice from his innermost heart advising him to take courage and face life boldly with a belief in God. When he was thus rallying from depression, his inspired poem “A Psalm of Life” came forth spontaneously. This is how the poem goes:

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that reach tomorrow
Find us farther than today

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

There is no Future, however pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its head!
Act, act in the living present!
Heart within, and God overhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing over life’s solemn main
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother
Seeing, shall take heart again

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
H.W. Longfellow

His unmistakably heartfelt lines of hope and faith went straight to the hearts of millions of people and students all through the world, who read it and memorized it in every major language including Sanskrit.

He died on 24th May 1882 and was mourned all over America and England.

B.M.N. Murthy
ARTCLE NO. 474--Footprints on the Sands of Time
Created: Friday, November 21, 2008 8:15 PM

Saraswathi Temple Makes Way For Mosque


The Paramara dynasty which ruled part of the present day Madhya Pradesh from the 8th Century A.D. onwards reached the pinnacle of its glory during the reign of King Bhojaraja during the first half of the 11th Century A.D. He was known as the ruler of Ujjain and Dhara. This Dhara is the same as the State of Dhar which was a part of the Central Provinces, now renamed Madhya Pradesh. King Bhoja was probably a boy of 15years or so when he ascended the throne and during his reign from 1010 to 1060 A.D, the country attained the highest state of eminence and the Paramaras rose to the zenith of their power.

Bhoja Raja was not only a great and popular king but was an equally great man of letters who authoured nearly 30 works on diverse subjects like Astronomy and Astrology, Medicine, Sanskrit Grammar, Philosophy, Alankara, Poetry and Prose, Lexicography, Dharma Shastra, Economics and Administration etc. In fact, he had read all the available books in Sanskrit on Kingcraft and Administration. He was skillful in the use of 36 weapons used in those days in warfare. His erudition was such that he could hold his own in learned debates against the greatest scholars at that time. His versatile mind did not limit the activity only to the business of war and writing. It was also extended towards building up a good number of educational institutions and temples
and thus make Malwa an ideal kingdom. It is unfortunate that a good number of those constructions built during his regime were destroyed subsequently by the first conquest of Malwa by the Muslim rulers. Even the Bhojashala [college] founded by him in Dhar and housing a Saraswathi temple inside, was partially destroyed and made way for a mosque.

The present day Kamal Mouli Mosque at Dhar stands at the same site which was once occupied by the Bhojashala. It is still recognized and called as Bhojashala by the local Hindus. The existing modern structure is Islamic in style and architecture and was constructed with the materials got out of demolishing the Saraswathi temple which stood on the same site as the college. When King Bhoja built the temple, he had installed an Ashtadhatu idol of Goddess Saraswathi [bust only] which is now in the custody of the British Museum in London. Late Dr. V. Raghavan, well-known Sanskrit scholar from Madras and President , International Association of Sanskrit Studies, who visited the British Museum a couple of years back, has confirmed his having seen the idol in the British Museum. Raghavan has also stated that the idol has an inscription at the base mentioning the date of inscription as 1034 A.D which coincides with the period of Bhojaraja’s reign. The Goddess is in the ‘Abhanga’ pose with four hands, partially damaged. She wears a crown; her ear-rings hang down to her shoulders; she wears a pearl necklace; a pearl-embroidered band encircles her breast and her waist is decorated all round. She is in a meditative mood with a serene and lovely face. [The description is from a copy of the photograph with me].

Though it was an established fact that the mosque had come up in the place originally occupied by the Saraswathi temple, it was difficult to prove the same with concrete evidence. The reason was that for a thorough study of the structure of the mosque, the permission of the Mosque authorities was necessary which was all along denied. However, after India became independent, the Department of Epigraphy. Government of India, got the permission and a delegation was sent to examine the structure of the mosque. After a thorough study of the structure, it could be established that the iconoclastic Muslim rulers of Malwa in the 15th Century had destroyed the Saraswathi temple and used the same materials to put up the present Kamal Moulvi Mosque. A large portion of the flooring of the mosque prayer hall is paved with black marble slabs which were used to build the temple, but with the face turned inwards. These slabs, when removed and examined, disclosed that they contained some Sanskrit inscriptions which were hidden by their being turned upside down.

A curious and unexpected incident revealed as to how the mosque walls were constructed. The walls have been lined with granite slabs. At the junction of two walls, crevices have been left, wide enough to allow a hand to go in. Some visitor to the mosque, out of sheer curiosity put his hand inside the crevice and felt the backside of the lining. He was amazed to discover that they contained some inscriptions. When the matter was further examined after removing a slab from the lining, to the amazement of one and all, it was found that it contained an inscription in the form of a wheel containing Sanskrit shlokas pertaining to grammar. The idea behind the wheel is that the science of language---Grammar—must form part of the temple of Saraswathi, the Goddess of speech. From a close look at the inscriptions on the wheel in the form of Shlokas, one can Sanskrit grammar without much effort. It is because of the fact that the science of language, the grammar, is worthy of worship, that the wheel with the grammar inscriptions was installed in the temple. The Department of Epigraphy has now published the text of the inscription with an English translation.

The Mosque was closed for several years and in the year 1940 Muslim devotees were allowed to offer Namaz. In 2003 the Bhojashala Complex was also opened to the Hindus to enable them to offer Pooja. This was done in compliance with the directive of the Archaeological Survey of India [A.S.I.] which directed that that Hindus should be allowed to perform Pooja inside the Complex every Tuesday from dawn to dusk with flowers and rice. Apart from Tuesdays, the Hindus are also allowed Pooja facility on the ‘Basant Panchami Day’ once in a year. Muslims are allowed to do Namaz every Friday for two hours from 1 P.M to 3 P.M. Tourists are allowed entry into the historic Complex on other days by paying a nominal admission fees.

Source Material:

1. Hindu Dharma by Paramacharya of Kanchi
2. The Vedas by Paramacharya of Kanchi
3. Immortal Bhoja’s Royal House by Sri. M.K. Ranganathan
4. An Anthology on Aspects of Indian Culture by Dr. V.Raghavan.
5. Cultural History of Ancient India by R.Sathianathaier, Annamalai University.

Created: Friday, November 7, 2008 10:38 AM

Dance As Worsphip

This article has appeared in the Deepavali Special Issue of the 'Bhavan's Journal 'of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Mumbai

in its issue dated 31st October 2008, with a couple of photographs

Best wishes
B.M .N.Murthy, Saturday 15th November 2008

Dance Tradition in Indian Temples

The term “Nritya’ which also includes dance was created by Lord Brahma himself as a visible means to elevate man from the mundane to the sublime, to enlighten him through entertainment and to ultimately teaching him to desire and look for union with the Infinite. According to Sage Bharata, the creator of ‘Natyashastra’, “there is no wisdom nor art nor craft, no device, no action that is not found in dance”. It was but natural that this glorious art was presented from the earliest times in the sacred precincts of the temple for it was also education besides entertainment. In course of time, the temple became the centre of all theatrical arts and soon dance became part of the temple ritual worship. With the passage of time, dance became an inseparable activity in major temple complexes like Madura, Chidambaram, Tanjore. While designing and building a temple complex, apart from the several components of a temple complex like the Garbhagudi, Vimana, Gopuram, Prakara etc, an additional structure was also accommodated for fine arts like dance and music and was called as Ranga Mantapam.

According to tradition and the Sthala Puranam [Local legend] of Lord Jagannatha Temple at Puri, when the great temple was being built at Puri, Raja Indradyuamna sent a special invitation to Lord Brahma to inaugurate the temple. Brahma agreed and came to Puri with two of the celestial dancers-- Urvashi and Rambha. With the installation of deities- Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra- who were carried in three beautiful chariots, musicians sang while the Apsara women danced. The dancers attached to the Puri temple claim their heritage to those two celestial dancers Urvashi and Rambha who brought dance to the earth. These dancers were called ‘Maharis’ and the tradition in Puri used to be that when the Naivedyam was offered to the Lord, the dancer and her accompaniment on Pakhwaj [ a musical instrument made of wood and similar to Tabla] were the only two others who were present besides the Raja Guru who represented the Raja of Puri. This shows the high esteem with which the dancers were held in the temple.

While in Puri the temple dancers danced Sri Jayadeva’s ‘Geetha Govinda’, their sisters in the South, called Devadasis, danced in praise of Lord Shiva, The Lord of Dance. The Devadasis of South India were custodians of some of the rituals within the shrine. They made their dance a certain temple ritual which was essential to establish a contact between man and divinity. They were called Devadasis because they were the servants of the Lord dedicated to the service of the temple. Their main duty was to sing and dance in front of the deity at specified times daily and accompany the deity in procession. From the epigraphs pertaining to the Chola period we learn that they had a respectable place in the society and that even affluent people dedicated their daughters to the service of god in the temple.

Devadasis were good exponents of dance and music who did much to preserve the traditional dance forms for several generations. The temple was the greatest single agent which extended patronage to them and utilized their services, particularly during festivals. Even their dance masters called ‘Nattuvars’ were in the service of the temple. Some of the temple inscriptions mention about the different types of dances which the Devadasis performed. According to one inscription found in the Chola period, the dance mode which they adopted while performing in front of the deity was entirely different from what they adopted while performing before the general public.

Apart from mere dancing, some Devadasis specialized in Dance-dramas. Instances of dance-dramas performed by the Devadasis came mostly from the Pandyan country. They chose the theme from the Mahabharata and from the Puranas and enacted them on the stage. Dance sculpture found in several South Indian temples bear witness to the progressive development of dance as an art. In leading temples like the Brihadeeshwara Temple at Tanjore, Sarangapani Temple at Kumbhakonam and the Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, we find graphic descriptions of various dance poses with explanatory labels from Bharata’s Natyashastra. We can also see exquisite paintings of Apsaras dancing before the deity.

The system of engaging dedicated dancers for worship in the temple was not confined to India. It was in vogue in ancient times even in other civilizations and religions. In fact, ancient Greece, Egypt and Japan had more or less similar arrangements in their place of worship.

To dance in a temple with dedication and devotion was not as easy as it appears to be. Not all, even with a lovely form and figure, could become Devadasis. A certain ingrained attitude, what we call as ‘Vasana’ in Sanskrit, was essential to become a Devadasi. Further, the dancer was to have an alert mind, appropriate physical features, an agile body capable of swift and graceful movements, expressive eyes etc. In fact, Bharatha prescribes the following major qualifications for an ideal dancer “ Strikingly beautiful, sweet in speech, steady, sprightly, skilled in conversation, born of good family, learned in ancient scriptures and Shastras, sweet voice, expert in singing, quick in grasping and with total self-confidence”

Selection of Devadasis for a temple was very strict and the qualifications were rigid and tough. Moreover, before one could aspire to become a Devadasi, she was expected to have several years of experience and training in music and dance. The lower age of admissibility was 15 years and the retirement was at the age of 30 years. A Devadasi could serve a temple for a maximum period of about 15 years. She could get married or remain as a spinster.

With the advent of the East India Company to India and subsequent conquest of our country by the Britishers, the glory attached to the institution of Devadasi started eroding gradually. Some temple officials colluded with some of the Government officers and mortgaged the institution of Devadasis for totally selfish purposes and brought bad name to a Devadasi. In fact, a new name was given to these dancers and they were called
‘Nautch Girls’. The foreign ruler started interfering with the tradition and practice of the Devadasi system. The degradation of the institution went so low that even an ‘anti-nautch’ movement was started. In course of time, the movement gained so much momentum that the elite and educated in the society thought that it was beneath their dignity to send their daughters to learn dance. It was at this juncture that there came a wave of general art renaissance in the country, sometime in the mid thirties of the 20th century, spear-headed by two great personalities namely Sri. E.Krishna Iyer and
. Rukmini Devi Arundale. It was the untiring efforts of these two great stalwarts that revived dance as a divine art and put it back in its high pedestal.

In Kerala, temple dance took a slightly different form in the form of Kathakkali. Here the dancers are usually all-male and they pick up their themes from some of our sacred scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata etc and perform the dance in the form of a dance-drama. The main purpose is to portray that in the battle between good and evil, it is only the Good that triumphs finally. At the Guruvayoor Temple, Kerala
the main theme for dance is chosen mostly from Bhagavatham and Narayaneeyam.

In Andhra, temple dance took the form of ‘Kuchipudi’. Dance-dramas were enacted by choosing subjects from ancient scriptures. Each temple had a Balipeetha, established on a large, well polished slab of stone placed in the inner courtyard of the temple. Upon this stone platform, the Devadasis danced on festive occasions.

Karnataka had its own temple dance in the form of ‘Yakshagana’, similar in content to the dance-dramas of Kerala and Andhra. Here too, as in Kathakkali, the actors wear enormous crowns; the facial make-up is intricate and suggestive of the character of the role. The costumes are also intricate and the colour of the costume depends upon the dominant mood of the character. While one particular colour suits portrayal of sentiment of Sringara, quite a different colour is chosen while portraying a demonic scene with the dominating sentiment of Raudra.

In India, every dance-drama had its origin in a temple and there have been several instances where they have been offered as vows to the deity by the people in times of calamity. Kings and affluent people patronized dance. It was not merely the temple precincts that were important. More importance was given to the spirit of dance which was nothing but total dedication to the Supreme. Dance was held in such high esteem and the divine status accorded to it was such that it was believed that wherever a dance-drama was staged that ground would be sanctified. No wonder Sage Bharatha in his Natyashastra says;

“One who performs well the art of dance created by Lord Shiva

Will go liberated to the abode of God”


ARTICLE NO. 473--Dance Tradition in Indian Temples
Created: Friday, November 14, 2008 8:20 PM

The Founder Of Vijayanagar

Now that the Hampi [ also Called Vijayanagara ] Utsav is very much in the news on account of the grand celebrations recently held in

Hampi, it may be appropriate to turn the pages of Indian History and study the life of the founder of the Vijayanagara Empire,

Swami Vidyaranya.

Best Wishes

B.M.N.Murthy, 6th Nov 2008

The history of medieval India has traditionally been called the Muslim Period in all Indian History textbooks. Not only did this period see the steady growth of Muslim kings and chieftains, but it also saw the spread of Islam among masses and the flowering of Islamic art, architecture, literature, culture etc. A notable exception to this trend was the establishment of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara in South India and one name that is inextricably linked with its foundation is that of Madhavacharya who became famous as Vidyaranya. Vidyaranya was a true Rajarshi who combined the qualities of both a Raja [king] and those of a Rishi [saint]. He could be called a Raja since he was a far-sighted statesman and was the bulwark of the Vijayanagara Empire in its early days of its establishment; he could be called a Rishi since he gave up mundane life in later days, took up Sanyasa and became a pontiff of the Sri Shankara Math, Sringeri.

Historians recognize Vidyaranya more as the founder of Vijayanagara, the City of Victory. In his time practically the entire country north of the Tungabhadra river and large territories of the south of the river had passed under Muslim rule. The Muslim armies had been razing down the Hindu temples and sacred shrines and Vidyaranya was anxious to stave off further penetration of the Muslims. It is with this objective that he founded the Vijayanagara Empire. It was while Vidyaranya was doing Tapas at the Matanga Hill that the two warrior brothers, Harihara and Bukka [more popular as Hakka and Bukka], sons of Sangama, approached him seeking his blessings and guidance, having been so directed by a dream.

Earlier, these two brothers were in the service of the Kakatiya King Prataparudra of Warangal. When the forces of Mohamed Bin Tughlak defeated the Kakatiya king in 1333A.D. the two brothers were taken as captives to Delhi as prisoners of war. It is believed that the brothers were forced to embrace Islam under compulsion. The Delhi ruler, recognizing their courage and valour, sent them back to the South as the head of an army to contain the rebellion brewing in the Deccan. Seizing this opportunity, the two brothers asserted their independence and with the guidance and blessings of Vidyaranya established their own independent kingdom with its capital named Vidyanagara, as a mark of respect and gratitude to sage Vidyaranya whom they regarded as their Guru, God and Savior. This city subsequently became popular as ‘Vijayanagara’ or ‘The City of Victory’. The city was planned in the form of a mystical diagram, The Sri Chakra, in accordance with the directions of sage Vidyaranya. The Virupaksha temple was kept in the middle of the city with nine gates all around the city.

One student of Vedanta by name Bharathikrishna Tirtha and Vidyaranya were both students of the 10th Pontiff of Sringeri Math, H.H.Sri Vidyashankara Tirtha. When the Pontiff attained Samadhi, Bharathikrishana Tirtha succeeded him to the Sringeri Math as the 11th Pontiff, as Vidyaranya was not interested in the same, even though he had been initiated into Sanyasa as early as 1331 A.D. However, when Bharathitirtha also left his mortal coil in
1380 A.D, the mantle of responsibility of heading the Sringeri Math fell on Vidyaranya who adorned the Pontifical throne of Sringeri for a period of six years from 1380 to 1386 A.D. as the 12th Pontiff.

Vidyaranya’s devotion and dedication to his Guru was unsurpassed. On the mortal remains of his Guru Vidyashankar, he built a beautiful temple, the Vidyashankar Temple, in Dravidian and Hoysala styles of Architecture on the banks of the Tunga River .The beauty of the temple is that not even an ounce of lime has been used as a cementing material in the construction o the temple. Another remarkable feature is that the huge Assembly Hall contains 12 pillars named after the houses of the zodiac. The sun in the morning strikes for the duration of each month that particular pillar which is named after the corresponding house of the zodiac. This has been an engineering marvel and appears to have no parallel in the world. During his period, Vidyaranya ordered that the seals of documents should bear the insignia of his Guru’s name. Thus, even today the Sringeri Acharya’s seal has the legend of Sri Vidyashankar.

Vidyaranya was a versatile scholar and has written treatises on many branches of learning as Advaita Vedanta, Poorvamimamsa, Mantashastra, Astronomy, and Music. After Acharya Shankara, Vidyaranya has been ranked as the most illustrious preceptors of Advaita. Some of his well-known works are Panchadashi, Jeevanmukthi Viveka, and Shankara Digvijaya.
For the last several years of his long life of 90 years, Vidyaranya himself presided as the Acharya at Sringeri Math. In guiding the course of the Vijayanagara Empire as the minister to the first two kings, in setting the trend for the Dharma of the people as Raja Kula Guru and in leaving an indelible impression on the Indian philosophical tradition with his erudite writings, Vidyaranya had accomplished more than what any one could hope to achieve in one’s life. His fame stands as second only to that of the great Acharya Shankara


HAMPI UTSAV---Vidyaranya Swami and Vijayanagara Empire
Created: Thursday, November 6, 2008 3:12 AM

Why We Do Pradakshina

PRADAKSHINA—Its Significance

The term ‘Pradakshina’ is an age-old devotional practice, generally associated with the visit to a temple. Before the devotees enter the shrine that houses the deity, they go round the temple, normally three times, as a token of their reverence and self-surrender to the deity. This is called Pradakshina or circumambulation.

Any visit to a temple is generally followed by raising our thoughts from the mundane to the sublime and spiritual. Being active all- through with worldly thoughts, to raise the thoughts to a higher level cannot be achieved all of us a sudden and it does take time for the transformation. The Pradakshina provides this time. The time taken during Pradakshina gradually halts the flow of mundane thoughts and brings the deep-seated feelings of devotion to the devotee’s surface-consciousness, before he is actually face to face with the Deity. With a view to having better results, most of the devotees during Pradakshina resort to Namajapam, either reciting it in a low tone or with a Japamala [Rosary], the moment they enter the temple premises.. Having gone through these preparations, the devotee is usually rewarded by a rapturous communion with the Divine at the time of Darshan.

It is customary to do the Pradakshina in a clockwise direction, keeping the object of devotion to our right side. Right is normally considered auspicious as opposed to the anti-clockwise movement which is considered inauspicious. That is why we go round in an anti-clockwise direction during an inauspicious occasion like going round a funeral pyre during the last rites of a dead body. In fact, even in the English language we hear of the phrase ‘keep the person always on the right’, implying that the person is to be kept in good humour as we expect his guidance and help.

In the ‘Shabdakalpadruma’ [which is a Literary Encyclopedia of the Sanskrit language written in 1850A.D.and which consists of 7 volumes, each volume to running about 1,000 pages and which took 36 years for completion], the word ‘Dakshina’ has been defined as ‘efficacy’ and ‘Pradakshina’ as ‘special efficacy’. In the light of this interpretation, Pradakshina enables a devotee to be more efficacious and deserving to receive the blessings of the Deity.

There is no definite rule about the number of Pradakshinas one is supposed to do. Normally three rounds are very much in vogue. Some people go round the temple 11 times, as number 11 is also considered auspicious. Occasionally a devotee goes round as many as 108 times for a specific purpose such as acknowledging the fulfillment of a specific wish, seeking the fulfillment of a specific desire, as an atonement or a Prayaschitta for having done a wrong deed, self-purification etc. When the Pradakshina route is very long as in the case of going round a hill [like the Giri Pradakshina for Arunachala Hill in Tiruvannamalai, which is as long as 13 kms], there is no binding that one should do it non-stop. The devotee may take rest at as many places as he wants. During such long Pradakshinas, it is customary for the devotee to go on reciting Namajapas mentally or chant the name of the Lord in a subdued tone or resort to Japa with the help of a rosary. This serves the purpose of meditation.

Just as we cannot draw a circle without a centre or a focal point, similarly the Pradaksina is a circle around the Deity as the focal point. Just as the centre is the focal point from which emanate the radii, the Grace of God emanates from the Deity and reaches the devotees who are all at equal distance from the Deity. This is just to remind the devotees that God makes no distinction whatsoever and that all the devotees are equally eligible for his grace.

It could be observed that during one Pradakshina that the devotee takes four right- angle turns by the time he returns to the starting point. It means he has turned himself around himself completely once, as he would have done if he had taken those four turns standing still at a place. Since the Self or Atma is felt to be inside the body, this would mean that he has made one Pradakshina around his own Self and this is called ‘Atma Pradakshina’ or Self-circumambulation. It is customary that after the Pradakshina around the Sanctum is completed, the devotee turns around himself, normally three times, which reminds him of the presence of Divinity within himself, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside. As we circumambulate we chant:

Yani kaani cha paapani Janmantara kritani cha
Taani taani vinashyanti Pradakshina pade pade

This means “All sins committed by an individual from innumerable past births are destroyed by each step taken during Pradakshina”

In Pradakshina, it is observed that both concepts of Advaita and Dvaita are harmoniously blended. From the Dvaita standpoint, the object of Pradakshina is held to be outside, say inside the shrine. From the Advaita standpoint, the object id held inside as one’s own Self.

Pradakshina is also practiced around holy objects too, such as a Mahatma’s Samadhi, around a Brindavana [pot containing the Tulasi plant], around a hill like the Arunachala, a lake like Manasa Sarovara, a mountain like the Mount Kailas. Hindu marriages are sanctified by the Pradakshina of the bridal couple around the Agni. In the conduct of a Yagjna, going around the sacrificial fire in Pradakshina is an integral part of the proceedings.

In an esoteric language, Acharya Shankara defines Pradakshina as “Real Pradakshina is the meditation that thousands of universes are revolving around the Great God, the unmoving centre of all forms”. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi beautifully explains the benefits of Pradakshina in the following words:

PRA stands for removal of all kinds of sins
DA stands for fulfilling all desires
KSHI stands for freedom from future births
NA stands for giving deliverance through Jnana.


470--PRADAKSHINA, Its Significance
Created: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:04 AM

Strange, True, Unbelievable?

--Kanchi Paramacharya’s Views.

Sometime in 1958 there was a newspaper report that a Marwari woman in Rajasthan gave birth to a snake. On reading this, many dismissed the report as just sensational while some others remembered the Mahabharata where in the Adi Parva we hear about such an incident. According to the Mahabharata, Rishi Kashyapa had a wife by name Kadru who gave birth to several snakes like Vasuki, Dhananjaya, Karkotaka, Takshaka, Sesha etc. When some devotees of the Paramacharya came to Kanchi to have his darshan many years back, this point surfaced as a side issue during his talks with them. Paramacharya made the following interesting observations on ‘the birth of a snake in a human body’ which have been recorded in his magnum opus “HINDU DHARMA”.
I quote the relevant paragraphs in his own words:

“We distrust the Puranic story, according to which, Kashyapa had a wife called Kadru who gave birth to snakes. But many of you must have read a newspaper report last year [1958] of a snake born to a Marwari woman. When I read it I was reminded of another story.

It refers to a family I had heard about before I became a Swamigal. In that family neither the daughters nor the daughters-in-law wore screw pine flowers [which is called Ketaki in Sanskrit, Taale in Kannada and Tazhambu in Tamil] on their hair. When asked the reason for it, they told a ‘story’—but by story is not meant anything made-up

“Ten or fifteen years ago” one of the family members, a woman, said “a snake was born in our family. The family was ashamed of its birth and concealed the fact from others. But, all the same, it was brought up in the home, fed milk etc. This wonder child could not be taken out. The mother went out only when she had some work of utmost importance. There is a saying: If you are married to a stone, well, the stone is your husband. Likewise, if a snake is born to you, the snake is your child. One day the mother had to go to the wedding of a close relative.

There was an old woman in the house. We do not know who she was, whether she was the grandmother of the snake child. In those days the family cared for even distant relatives who were otherwise helpless. Nowadays children are over-anxious to leave their parents to set up their own households. The joint family was then still a strong institution. The old woman in our family was blind. The mother of the snake child left it to the care of this woman when she went to the wedding.

Before leaving for the wedding, the mother gave the following instructions to the old woman as to how to take care of the child:” There is no need to bathe the child or do up its hair. There is no need to dress it up or to carry it in your arms. All you have to do is to feed it regularly. Feed it with boiled milk. Boil the milk and put it in the cavity of the stone mortar. The snake will feed on it”. Probably the mother had trained the snake to be fed like this.
For a day or two, the old woman did as she had been told. But one day she probably over-slept and it was past the time to feed the snake. When the snake crept up to the mortar, it did not find any milk in it. It waited for sometime but soon fell asleep crouching in the mortar itself. It was then that the old woman brought the boiling milk. It had not been cooled and was piping hot. She could not naturally see the snake lying coiled in the mortar, as she poured the hot milk into it. The milk was too hot for the snake and it died in the mortar.

At the same time, the mother who had gone to attend the wedding had a dream in which the snake child appeared and said to her ‘Mother, I am dead. You come and cremate me amid the clump of screw pine. Hereafter no daughter or daughter-in-law in your family shall wear screw pine flowers on their hair’. From that day onwards, no one in our family has worn screw pine flowers” the woman said, concluding her story.

When I heard this account first I was astounded and wondered whether such things really happened. Many years later, after I had taken up Sanyasa, people belonging to that family in which the snake child was born came to see me. They did not come to speak about the snake child of the past. There was an old copper- plate inscription in their family. They had come to know about my interest in old inscriptions and they brought the copper-plate inscription for me to see. The inscription on it belonged to the time of King Achyutaraya of the Vijayanagar Empire who ruled the kingdom after Krishnadevaraya.

According to the copper plate-inscription, a Brahmin had distributed the land received from Achyutaraya among 108 fellow Brahmins. All the names and gotras are mentioned it, together with the subjects in which they were proficient. Among them figures the name of the ancestor of the people who came to see me, people descended from the family in which the snake child was born. The copper plate had come as a family heirloom through as many generations. An interesting fact emerging from the inscription was that the name of the ancestor mentioned on the copper plate was Nageshvara. I was told by my visitors that the family had a Nageshvara every successive generation.

I could guess at once that the name was associated with the snake child. It seemed to answer my doubts about its story. When I heard the newspaper last year of the birth of a snake to a woman, I had more reasons to believe the earlier story of the snake child”

B.M.N. Murthy

Article No. 468--Birth of a Snake in a Human Body
Created: Friday, October 17, 2008 10:53 PM

The Trial Of The Poet Of Patriotism


After the Indian War of Independence in 1857 [the so called Sepoy Mutiny], even though there was simmering discontent among Indian subjects about the harsh treatment meted out by the British Government to some political leaders and patriots, it was only in 1885 that an organized movement to fight a relentless battle against foreign rule was started with the birth of the Indian National Congress. For the first 20- 25 years after the birth of the Congress, the leaders took a conciliatory attitude towards the British Government which was not to the liking of a significant section of the party who advocated a more aggressive attitude to be followed. It was at this time when the Congress was in cross-roads that patriots like Aurobindo Ghosh and Lokamanya Tilak vocally became critical of the top leadership of the Congress.

The partition of Bengal in 1905, when Lord Curzon was the British Viceroy, drove a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims, in keeping with the well-known policy of the British “Divide and Rule”. This confirmed the worst fears of the critical group. The Bengal partition spread unrest all over the country and people resorted to all sorts of violence to register their protests. On 30th April 1908, there was an attempt at Muzzafarpur to kill the District Judge, an Englishman by name Mr.Kingsford Two bombs were hurled at him but unfortunately the bombs missed the target but killed two innocent ladies, the Kennedys, by mistake. Kudiram Bose, a young man of 18, was arrested for the crime, tried and sentenced. When the young man was given a long sentence, his mother expressed joy at the service rendered by her son to Mother India and more than 500 Bengali ladies went to her place to congratulate her

Even though Aurobindo had absolutely no hand in the Bomb incident, he was falsely implicated, arrested on May 4th 1908 on a charge of sedition and put in the Alipore jail. The trial known as the Alipore Bomb Case is one of the most famous trials in the political history of India. This memorable and long-drawn-out political trial with 36 accused, 206 witnesses and nearly 4,000 documents and about 5,000 exhibits and hair-splitting legal arguments roused a country-wide public interest. A remarkable feature of this sensational trial was the magnificent defence of Aurobindo by Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das [C.R.Das], poet, patriot and Aurobindo’s close friend and collaborator.
The able and prophetic advocacy of C.R.Das raised the trial to an epic level. He was at the peak of his eloquence when he made a fervent appeal to Judge Beachcroft in the following memorable words

“My appeal to you, sir, is this: Long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil and agitation will have ceased, long after he [Aurobindo] is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will have echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore I say that the man in his position is standing not only before the bar of this court, but before the bar of the High Court of History”.

The trial ran for exactly one year and on 5th May 1009 Aurobindo was acquitted as innocent and released from the Alipore Jail.

After release from the jail, Aurobindo made his first public appearance at Uttarapara on 30th May 1909 and delivered a memorable speech which became popular as ‘Uttarapra Speech’. The Uttarapara speech is openly a description of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual experience while in jail. Here are some of his own words:

“I looked at the bars of the cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vaasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. I lay on the coarse blankets that were given to me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper Vision the Lord gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers and as I looked at them I saw Vaasudeva. It was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies”.

Sri Aurobindo emerged from the jail with a sense of widened horizons which profoundly influenced his future life.

In the meanwhile, Balagangadhara Tilak, who was in the forefront of the freedom struggle along with Aurobindo with his line of thinking, had started a newspaper in 1881 in Marathi called “Kesari” and published from Poona. This was started with the specific purpose of using it as a weapon against foreign rule. In this paper he published a few articles pertaining to the outbreak of violence in the country as a result of the Bengal partition and also about the Alipore Bomb Case in which he defended the freedom fighters of the country. These were written in chaste Marathi. Some of the articles were not to the liking of the Government who initiated action on Tilak on charges of sedition. Tilak was arrested on 13th July 1906 and was tried which lasted just for five days.

During the trial Tilak, being himself a great legal luminary, defended the case himself. He examined the translator who had translated his Marathi article in English for the benefit of the court. Under severe examination the translator broke down and confessed that he was not the translator of the impugned articles for which Tilak was being tried. Tilak had no difficulty in proving that the English translations deliberately omitted some important sentences in Marathi and in short, it was a garbled version that was presented to the court. The articles written in high-flown Marathi in ‘Kesari’ could have been beyond the understanding capacity of Justice Davar who tried the case. The Jury of 9 [7 Europeans and 2 Parsis], after being closeted for one and half hours came out with a divided verdict—the Europeans pronouncing him guilty and the Parsis not guilty. It appears that the Court and Justice Davar had made up their mind to prosecute Tilak, as was confirmed by some revelations later. Tilak was given six years’ transportation and was deported to a jail in Mandalay, Burma.

How the Court and the Judge had made up their mind to sentence Tilak is evident from the fact that while the Judge pronounced his judgment towards midnight, the exact punishment was talked about by about 5.30 in the evening among members of the Bar who, it was said, had received this information from a highly placed officer attending the case. It also appears that in the evening a few people had heard that a carriage was kept waiting in the premises of the High Court in which Tilak was to be taken out. This was how the British showed justice to Indians in their patriotic struggle for independence.

Soon after the pronouncement of the judgment, Tilak, addressing Justice Davar, observed:

“In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of man and nations and it may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may prosper more by my suffering than my remaining free”


Article No.467--The ALIPORE BOMB CASE
Created: Friday, October 10, 2008 11:22 AM

On Deepavali

A Note From Alladi Jayasri:
When I needed to write an article on Deepavali that looks at the festival in a new light!! I turned to Murthy Uncle and this is what he came up with. Needless to say, it was another gem.

DEEPAVALI—Its Significance

“Which else shall beautify a home
But the flame of a lovely lamp.
Which else shall adorn the mind,
But the Light of Wisdom deep.

It is man’s inherent nature to be happy and rejoice, for which he tries to create as many occasions as are possible. To celebrate is to rejoice and celebrations are as old as mankind. For a cave-dweller, the killing of an animal itself is a cause for celebration. Whether celebrations have a primitive or crude form or suffused with a culturally refined taste, man can not help celebrations. He has a festival-inbuilt instinct to his personality. As rejoicing is the main purpose of a festival, the festivals can take several forms with variations in observation, while the basic purpose is the same.

An Indian festival like Deepavali is a picturesque web into the making of which so many strands have gone—religious, social and cultural—a raiment that adorns the entire fabric of society, cherished and preserved by all alike, men and women, old and young, in all corners of the country. There may be variations in detail, differences in social values attached. But the main purpose in all cases is to celebrate the victory of Virtue over vice and this is expressed in the form of lighting lamps and dispelling the darkness. It represents the joyous celebration of the death of the Titan of Hell, Narakasura, at the hands of Lord Sri Krishna. With the elimination of Narakasura, the champion of Darkness, the contamination that afflicted the Earth is washed away and myriad lamps are lighted to signify the victory of the Lord.

Deepavali is a compound word made up of the two words---Deepa and Avali. Deepa means light and Avali means a row in Sanskrit. Hence, Deepavali means lighting a row of lamps. It is very difficult to trace the origin of the festival. According to some scholars, it was already a well-known festival by the time of the Bhavishya Purana said to have been composed before 1000 A.D. In some works, the festival of Deepavali has been called ‘Kaumudi Utsava’—a festival in which people find delight on this earth among themselves.[ The term ‘Kaumudi’ means delight or Ahlada].

Deepavali proper is a festival of generally three days. The first day is called ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’. Originally the celebration of this day may have been aimed at escaping from Naraka or hell by propitiating Yama or the Lord of Death and Hell. But later, it seems to have been associated with Lord Srikrishna’s killing of the demon Narakasura, the King of Pragjotishapura [Modern Assam]. On this day, one is advised to take oil-bath at dawn, pray for the destruction of one’s sins, offer Tarpana to Yama and light a row of lamps. After a sumptuous feast with 14 kinds of vegetables [since the festival starts on the 14th day [Chaturdashi], rows of lamps are lighted in the evening on all corners of the house. In Bengal, Goddess Kali is worshipped on this day in clay image throughout the night.

The next day, Amavasya, is said to be the darkest day of the year. Taking oil-bath at dawn, worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, offerings to departed fore-fathers etc are some of the important rituals observed. Lighting of lamps and general illumination continues as on the previous day. Since this is day specially devoted to Lakshmi and since there is every chance of Alakshmi[ the inauspicious goddess, the opposite of Laksmi] peeping in to ruin one’s prosperity, women of the village are asked to create a terrible noise to scare her away by beating drums or by loud crackers around midnight. In several parts of the country, it is observed as a Trader’s Day. The traders adore Laksmi, worship the account books, open the new account books, invite friends, customers etc and give them Tambula and sweets.

The third day is celebrated as ‘Balipadyami’. The day is considered as one of the most auspicious in the Hindu almanac. Worship of Bali [the powerful King of the demons who was vanquished and pushed into Patala, the nether world by Vishnu in the incarnation of Vamana] is the most important rite. One is also supposed to keep awake the whole night spending the time in seeing religious dramas. Gifts made on this day are supposed to bring inexhaustible benefits.

In Maharashtra the day after Balipadyami is celebrated as ‘Bhau Beej” which is day of reunion of sisters and brothers. Brothers are invited by sisters to their houses and sumptuously fed. The brothers give presents to the sisters. Since there is a separation of the sisters after their marriage from their parents and brothers and they are not likely to meet each other frequently. The festival provides for a much needed opportunity to get together.

On all the three or four days of the Deepavali festival, the skies are rent asunder by the terrific sounds of bursting crackers. This bursting of crackers seems to be a universal practice all over the country. It signifies not only the expression of one’s joy but also to symbolically celebrate the destruction of all evils personified by demons like Narakasura.

In some parts of the country, Balipadyami is also called ‘Dyuta Padyami’. Dyuta means gambling in Sanskrit. There is a curious reference to this in the Brahmapurana which directs those observing this day to gamble! It seems that on this day Parvati defeated Shiva in a game of dice and she became very happy, making Shiva quite unhappy.[ A scene depicting this Puranic incident can be seen in the Ellora Cave No.21].
Hence, those that win in the gambling on this day will be happy all through the day and the opposite being the case in the case of losers. This temptation makes people, even today, to gamble recklessly. According to Mahamahopadhyaya P.V.Kane, eminent Dharma Shastra expert in the country, the stakes soared up to 30 lakhs rupees in a small country like Nepal in 1955 on the Balipadyami Day


My dear Jayasri,

I hope the attachment prepared overnight meets your requirements

Best wishes
Murthy uncle, 8th Oct 2008

Article No. 469--Significane of DEEPAVALI
Created: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:04 AM

Here Comes Indian Wisdom

--Indian Wisdom Personified

“While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.”
--Oliver Goldsmith
So said the famous English poet Oliver Goldsmith in his poem “The Deserted Village” while describing the School Master. Students of English literature are apt to remember these lines when they go through the life of Sir S. Radhakrishnan, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. No wonder when he was walking on the streets of Oxford in England in 1936as a Professor there, British intellectuals used to comment
‘Here comes Indian Wisdom’.

This great trailblazer in the field of Indian Philosophy had a humble beginning in the village of Sarvapalli in Tiruttani, a small town on the Andhra-Tamil Nadu border. He was born as the second son of Sarvapalli Veerasami and Seethamma in a Telugu speaking household on 5th September 1888 [That is why 5th September every year is celebrated as Teacher’s Day]. The Sarvapalli family was known for its scholarship in the Vedas and other religious Hindu scriptures. The family was held in high esteem by the entire village.
Veerasami worked in a Tahasildar’s office with meagre earnings. With the addition of three more sons and a daughter to the family, it was almost a hand to mouth existence. But this in no way dampened the religious and spiritual fervour of the parents. Radhakrishnan had his primary education at Tiruttani and for the secondary education he joined a Missionary school in Tirupati

Radhakrishnan had a maternal uncle by name Narasimham who took up Sanyasa later in life under the name ‘Swami Pranavananda’. He was one of the earliest disciples of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. According to him, Radhakrishnan was rather dull as a child which upset his father. Narasimham, the maternal uncle of the boy, volunteered to take the boy to Vellore and take care of his education there. On reaching Vellore, Narasimham initiated his nephew in the ‘Sri Rama Taraka Mantram’. Constant repetition of the potent Mantra resulted in the blossoming of Radhakrishnan’s inherent intellect and he grew into a brilliant student. He joined the Voorhees College at Vellore and passed his Intermediate examination in 1903. While he was still a student, he got married at the age of 15. By taking care of Radhakrishnan during the formative period of his life and by helping him through his academic career, Narasimham laid the foundation of Radhakrishnan’s success in later life. Later, he joined the Madras Christian College for his M.A where he came across eminent Professors of Philosophy who influenced his life very much. It was during this period that he read extensively the works of well-known philosophers like Plato, Kant, Hegel etc and also Vedantic works like the Vedas, Upanishads, Acharya Shankara’s several works, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature etc. At the age of 20, as a part of his M.A.Course he wrote a dissertation on “The Ethics of Vedanta”. He completed his M.A. in 1909.

After M.A., Radhakrishnan took up teaching in a few colleges before he joined the Mysore University in 1918 as Professor of Philosophy. The Mysore University had started in 1916 and the then Maharaja of Mysore, Nalvadi Sri Krishna raja Wodeyar and his able Dewan Sir M.Visveshwaraya were instrumental in scouting for talents all over the country and get their services to the newly established University. In the meanwhile, the University of Calcutta had started functioning and it was headed by India’s greatest educationist of the 20th Century, Sir Asutosh Mukherji, who had a record tenure of having been the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University for 5 successive times. He conveyed to Radhakrishnan sometime in 1921 that he should accept the Chair of King George V Professorship of Mental and Moral Philosophy in Calcutta University. Radhakrishnan got selected for the post. Most people were surprised by the choice. Many thought that Radhakrishnan, a man from the South and barely 30 years old was not a good choice to succeed Brijendra Nath Seal, who was considered the doyen of Indian philosophers. Radhakrishnan was also hesitant since he considered himself too young and inexperienced but some of his close friends and well-wishers prevailed over him to accept the post.

The news of Radhakrishnan’s resignation spread like wild fire all over Mysore and Bangalore and the entire academic community in the State was shocked. Recalling the last day of his father’s stay in Mysore, his son Prof .S. Gopal writes:
“He had declined all formal functions to bid him farewell. But the students converted the occasion of his departure to such a function which has now become a part of the History of Mysore University. The horses of the horse-drawn carriage by which he was to go to the railway station were detached. Students in harness pulled the carriage all through to the railway station. There the platform was wreathed with Mysore Mallige and rose garlands. The compartment was filled with roses. Almost the whole faculty and students of the University turned up at the station to bid him a farewell. The traffic on all roads was held up foe a few hours. The crowd inside the platform was such that many found it difficult to get through. As the train pulled out hours late, my father, like many others, was moved to tears”

Adorning the King George V Chair at Calcutta helped Radhakrishnan to get both national and international recognition. This was probably the most productive part of his intellectual life. It was during this period that he wrote his well-known book
“Indian Philosophy” which was published by the famous London Publishers, George Allen and Unwin. The impact of the book was tremendous with the result that the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica requested him to give a write-up on “Indian Philosophy” for their 14th Edition. Till the 13th Edition, the Encyclopedia did not have any entry under the head ‘Indian Philosophy’. Along with Sir J.C.Bose, Radhakrishnan attended the World Conference of Universities in the British Empire in London in 1926. The same year he attended the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard. Wherever he went, he made a positive impact on the audience. In all these lectures abroad, he proved to the predominantly Western and Christian audience that Hinduism is not a rigid sect or doctrine but it was a way of life which was universally applicable.

His brilliant lectures in the West resulted in his receiving an invitation to take up the post of Principal in a Manchester College, Oxford in 1930. During his stay there, he delivered the prestigious Hibbert Lectures in the Manchester University and also in the London University. Bertrand Russell who had attended his lectures in London met him and told him that he had never heard philosophy better expounded than in those lectures. It was as a result of these lectures that the Oxford University decided to found a chair at Oxford for ‘Eastern Religions and Ethics’. The chair was established in 1936 and was offered to Radhakrishnan. In the meanwhile he had been knighted by the British Government in 1931 when Lord Irwin was the Viceroy of India. He returned to India in July 1939 after his assignment at Oxford.

Soon after his return, Radhakrishnan joined the Benares Hindu University as its Vice-Chancellor at the specific request of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Founder and the then Vice-Chancellor of the University. He served there till 1945 and again went to Oxford University in 1945. After India got independence in 1947, Radhakrishnan was sent to Soviet Union as India’s Ambassador in 1949. Subsequently, he became Vice-President of the country and finally adorned the post of The President of India in 1962.

He passed away on 17th April 1975.

B.M.N. Murthy

ARTICLE NO. 466---SIR S. Radhakrishnan
Created: Friday, October 3, 2008 9:28 PM

Navaratri- The Festival That Celebrates ABsolute Bliss


Man’s basic nature is Absolute Bliss. He tries to reach this state with the help of his mind and intellect. But the mind constantly gravitates in search of sense objects for sensual pleasure and intellect is always after seeking external knowledge of the material world. By such extroverted pursuit of happiness man gets entangled more and more in the world of objects and accumulates desires which veil the divinity in him. With a view to helping him get out of this quagmire, our ancients devised ways and means to turn his attention inwards so that he gets Absolute Bliss to seek which he foolishly goes after the external world. With this in mind, they introduced various rituals and festivals throughout ht the year to remind him of his supreme goal and ideal. One such festival is the Navaratri, also popular as the Dasara.

Navaratri means Nine Nights. It is a nine-day festival and after the conclusion of the festival, the tenth day is celebrated as ‘Vijaya Dashami’ which means victory on the tenth day. The Hindus have been celebrating Navaratri from time immemorial. The scriptural texts prescribe the observance of Navaratri twice in a year: once during March-April season in the spring which is called Rama-Navaratri which coincides with Sri Ramanavami, the birthday of Lord Srirama. The second occasion is during autumnal season, sometime during September-October which is popular as ‘Sharannavaratri’. This is dedicated to the worship of Mother Goddess. The Goddess of Energy is worshipped in Her several aspects as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The observance of Sharannavaratri is more popular.

The term ‘Dasara’ is the corrupted form of the word ‘Dasha Papa Hara’ which means the liquidation of 10 sins attributed the 10 sense organs. It is through these sense organs that man contacts and gains knowledge of the external world and also reacts to the stimuli received from the world. Hence the idea is that on the sacred 10th day, the Vijayadashami, by the observance of Dasara Festival he annihilates all the 10 sins and becomes rooted in Transcendental Experience.

The 10 days are divided into three stages of three days each for worship and the culmination of the festival marks the tenth day, the Vijayadashami. In the first three days, Goddess Kali, also called Durga, is worshipped; the next three days are dedicated to Lakshmi and the last three days are dedicated to Saraswathi. The invocation to Goddess Durga is done first with a particular purpose. Durga is described in our Puranic literature
as ‘The Terrible Power’ that vanquished and killed the demons that terrorized devoted religious seekers. Similarly, in the heart of man there are destructive monsters like desire, passion, lust, greed, jealousy etc which have to be annihilated before seeking spiritual unfoldment. Hence Mother Durga is first invoked. By worshipping her for three days man merely invokes his own dormant power and destroys all the negative forces within him as the first step towards realization.

Destroying one’s evil tendencies is only a negative approach to spirituality. So the next step is to practice the positive aspect of Sadhana. This is done by worshiping Goddess Lakshmi for the next three days. Lakshmi is the Goddess of Aishwarya. Aishwarya is not to be understood in the narrow sense of material wealth and possessions. It means Divine Wealth like love, kindness, devotion, charity, patience, endurance etc which Acharya Shankara calls as ‘Shatsampath’ in his Vivekachoodamani.
These are not to be gained from without but are to be obtained from within by invocation of Goddess Lakshmi. By the end of these three days, these Divine qualities replace the earlier devilish tendencies

With the development of these Divine qualities, the seeker is fully qualified and becomes eligible for philosophical studies, contemplation and meditation. The invocation of Goddess Saraswathi at this stage is therefore the last and the final stage of spiritual evolution. Just as Goddess Saraswathi brings out the music and melody from her well-tuned Veena, similarly man can manifest the divinity and harmony with a well-integrated mind, by the study of the scriptures, constant reflection and meditation. It is usual to recite the ‘Durga Saptashathi’ during Navaratri

After all these three stages of worship are gone through, on the last Vijayadashami day, the devil is burnt down indicating the transcendence of the ego
When man attains the great victory—VIJAYA—over his sense life and revels in the ecstatic experience of the Transcendental Reality


Created: Friday, September 26, 2008 10:09 PM

100 Years Of Electricity In Mysore

" The royal city of Mysore will catch up with history today viz Friday, the 26th Sept 2008. It is exactly 100 years ago that the city got electricity. The Maharaja of Mysore, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, ushered in the electrical era in style by switching on the power from the throne in Jagan Mohan Palace . The city was lit up on Sept 26, 1908 thanks to the efforts of the then Dewan of Mysore ,K..Seshadri Iyer and Deputy Chief Engineer of Mysore State, Major A. J. DeLotebiniere, who thought about harnessing power from the River Kaveri at Shivanasamudram.

The completion of the Shivanasamudram hydroelectric project brought about a complete revolution in the working of most of the gold mines in Kolar Gold Fields. The erstwhile Mysore State held the enviable position of establishing the first major hydroelectric generating station for commercial purposes in 1902. Elephants and horses and bullock carts were used to carry the heavy equipment brought from United Kingdom and USA to the hilly terrain. Wooden poles were specially imported from Australia for the transmission lines.

Shivanasamudram is the place where the first hydroelectric power station in Asia was set up "

Created: Thursday, September 25, 2008 9:42 PM

Snippets On Religious Conversion

Dear Friends,
In view of the ongoing debate and discussion over the activities of the Christian missionaries and conversion in India I

thought the attached article written sometime in March 2006 might interest you.

Best wishes

B.M.N.Murthy, 25th Sept 2008

--Snippets from Here and There

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: After Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in September 1893, he toured America extensively and delivered several lectures on different subjects. The subject for the fifth lecture delivered at Detroit on 21st February 1894 was “Hindus and Christians”. The Detroit Free Press, a newspaper from Detroit, which covered the function, reported as under. The following are a few selected paragraphs from the report: Relevant paragraphs are only reproduced:
“In the course of his address Swamiji told the audience about the Christian missionaries who came to India and indulged in abusing Hindus and Hindu Religion; “You train and educate and clothe and pay men to do what? To come over to my country, to curse and abuse
all my forefathers, my religion and everything. They walk near a temple and say, “You idolators, you will go to hell”. But they dare not do that to the Mohammedans of India; the sword would be out. But the Hindu is too mild; he smiles and passes on and says, “Let the fools talk”. That is the attitude. ---
Did we send one messenger to convert anybody in the world? We say to you ‘Welcome to your religion, but allow me to have mine’
Swamiji asserted that Christianity never succeeded except with the sword and he challenged his audience to show him at least one place, not even two, where it had been otherwise”

2. When Swamiji travelled for a second time to the West sometime in 1900, he came across a Christian missionary on board the ship. Without resorting to any formalities, Swamiji straightaway asked the gentleman whether he was an American. The gentleman said ‘yes’. Swamiji further asked him ‘Are you a Christian missionary?’. The gentleman again replied ‘Yes’ Swamiji asked him, without mincing words “ Why do you preach religion in my country?”. Coolly the missionary retorted ‘Why do YOU preach religion in my country?’. Swamiji suddenly blazed and burst forth “Let England teach us the fine art of government, for in that art England is the leader of the nations. Let America teach us agriculture and science and your wonderful knack of doing things, for that we sit at your feet and learn. But let no nation presume to teach India religion, for India shall teach religion to the world”

THE MOTHER, PONDICHERY: In 1914, the Mother [Turkish-Egyptian descent] travelled to India in a Japanese steamer with her husband Paul Richard to join the Aurobindo Ashram at Pondichery. A few Christian missionaries were also in the steamer on way to China. On Sunday a service was arranged in the saloon of the boat but the Mother did not participate. When the priest asked the Mother why she did not participate, she answered
“ I do not feel that you are sincere. You go there to China just to fulfill a social obligation but not at all because you really want to enter into communion with God. Listen, even before your religion was born- not even two thousand years ago- the Chinese had a very high philosophy and knew a path leading them to the Divine. And when they think of Westerners, they think of them as barbarians. And you are going there to convert those who know more about it than you? What are you going to teach them?”

JESUS JESUS EVERYWHERE : Early in the year 2000, several secret Christian Societies rose up in America and made a beeline stealthily to interior provinces of China to spread Christianity. The evangelists were specially trained for the missionary work. Lady evangelists were given a special haircut covered under a hat. They wore specially designed vests with large secret pockets, which were crammed with about 300 religious pamphlets. From midnight to the first glimmering of the dawn, they wandered down alleys in
Small-town China, stuffing mail boxes, bicycle baskets and window sills with their religious contraband. When the people woke up early in the morning there was Jesus Everywhere.

THEY GOT THE LAND, WE GOT THE BIBLE: Jomo Kenyatta [1889-1978] was an African freedom fighter and a highly respected leader of Kenya nationalists. Under his leadership, Kenya [Africa] got its freedom from the Britishers in 1963. Kenyatta was the First President of Independent Kenya from 1964 till his death in 1978. Though he was educated in a Scottish Mission, he remained skeptical of Christianity. During the course of a talk, dealing with the activities of Christian missionaries in Africa, he once said
“When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible”.

TAILPIECE: The Archbishop of Canterbury refused to attend the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 because he said ‘There cannot be a Parliament of Religions when there was but one religion in the world--CHRISTIANITY’


Created: Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:11 AM

With God- In Spirit Or In Dream?

Fw: Have you ever seen someone sleeping in temple???
Friday, September 19, 2008 9:38 AM

India's Own Bang For The Big Bang Theory- S N Bose

--The Scientist who deserved the Nobel Prize but missed it

It remains a wonder among the scientific community even today why Satyendra Nath Bose, a versatile genius and a scientist, was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, in spite of his name having been closely associated with what came to be known as “Bose-Einstein Statistics and Bosons”. The question that we should ask, in terms of decades and centuries ahead, is not whether a scientist has received a Nobel Prize , but
whether his name will survive in the pages of science that all will read, discuss, debate and use. In the latter category will come Satyendra Nath Bose. Bose-Einstein Statistics and the use of the word Bosons will live on a permanent basis in the history and development of science.

Satyendra was born in Calcutta on 1st January 1894 in a Kayastha family with two generations of English education behind them. His father was working in the engineering department of the East Indian Railways. Satyendra Nath was born at a period when the country was witnessing a new political awakening all over, particularly in Bengal. The impact of the British rule, the introduction of the English education, the growth of a new economy, the partition of Bengal—all these factors led to the creation of a middle class intelligentsia which was sensitive to the new winds of change. The new awareness brought about its inevitable consequence—an upsurge of nationalist movement. Into this age was born Satyendra Nath.

Bose was a born genius. He started schooling at the age of five and in the final year of schooling he joined famous Hindu High School of Calcutta which was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1817 and which was the first school in the country to impart English education. In spite of weak eyes, Satyendra was a voracious reader whose favourite poets were Tennyson and Tagore. He was a lover of Sanskrit and it is said that he could recite the entire ‘Meghadutam’ of Kalidasa by heart. In 1905, when Bose was 11 years old, Lord Curzon announced the partition of Bengal. The educated Bengali rose up in protest, a wave of new patriotism swept over Bengal. Satyen and his generation grew into manhood in this atmosphere of inspired idealism.

Satyen joined the Presidency College in Calcutta in 1915 and topped the list in M.Sc Mathematics. In 1914 he got married to a girl of 11 years while he was still a student of M.Sc. The selection of the girl was entirely left to the choice of his mother but the only condition he laid down was that not a penny should be accepted as dowry. After obtaining the M.Sc degree in Mathematics, he joined the Calcutta University as a lecturer in the Applied Mechanics Department. As he could not get along with the then Professor of Mathematics, he got himself transferred to the Physics Department, even though his formal training in Physics was only up to the B.Sc level. However, intelligent and studious as he was, Satyen studied Modern Physics on his own, took lessons in German language and became entirely self-taught in Physics. In course of time. He specialized in the Theory of Electromagnetism and The Theory of Relativity. In 1921 he joined the newly founded Dacca University as Reader in Physics.

In 1924 Satyen got his paper on “Planck’s Law and Light Quantum Hypothesis” published in the well-known German Scientific Journal ‘Zeitschrift fur Physik’. This paper made him famous all over the world. The paper was published in German, after its translation to German by no less a person than the Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein who made the following comment:
“In my opinion Bose’s derivation of the Planck formula signifies an important development in the scientific field”
With the publication of this paper, Satyen got an opportunity to go abroad and make further studies. He went to Paris in 1924 on a study leave for two years. After spending about a year in France and working with the luminaries of Modern Physics, Satyen left for Berlin in 1925. There he met Einstein, spent about a year attending seminars, lectures, workshops etc and came into close contact with all the towering figures of science. In 1926 he returned to Dacca University as Professor of Physics and worked there for almost 19 years till 1945 and built up the University. He devoted most of his time in building up an intellectual and devoted young group of scientists with the result that he was able to publish only a handful of papers in international journals.

With the dawn of the year 1945 when the Second World War was coming to a close and there was rising political tension in Dacca, not conducive to academic environment, Bose left Dacca and went to his alma mater The Presidency College at Calcutta as Professor of Physics. It was a happy home-coming. He stayed there till 1956 until he was 62 and thereafter joined Tagore’s Vishwabharati University as Vice-Chancellor where he worked till 1958 and then retired. In 1952 a delegation of teachers from India was going to visit China. Bose was requested to join them. Initially he agreed but when he was told that it was going to be a seven-day whirlwind tour with the condition that after their return, they were supposed to speak about their Chinese experience, Bose withdrew. He said that since he did not know either their language or their temperament, all he could do was to meet a few people in meetings. How could one call that a fruitful experience?

Bose was a sort of an unconventional scientist. Much of the work done by him was on loose sheets of paper which he never bothered to preserve. After his paper was published in any of the scientific journals, he washed his hands clean and cared the least to preserve the hand-written manuscripts. Thus the intriguing problems concerning the Theory of Numbers on which he had been thinking for over 20 years never got published. He seemed to care the least about the publication of papers. For him, knowledge was much more important than getting a Doctorate degree. It was for this reason that the number of doctorates who worked under him was hardly a dozen.

In January 1974 when he completed 80 years, celebrations were organized on a nationwide scale. To coincide with it, an International Seminar of leading world scientists was held in Calcutta. Bose spoke about long years of his struggle and the satisfaction of having seen his life’s work appreciated at long last. He ended his words with “Now I feel that I do not need to live any longer”. His words ended with a ring of prophecy for he passed away peacefully on 4th February 1974.


India (ECIL) contributed for Big Bang Theory experimentbeing conducted at Geneva
Created: Sunday, September 14, 2008 6:52 AM

Therapy For The Spirit- Logotherapy

VIKTOR FRANKL [1905-1997]—Founder of Logo therapy

According to Vedanta, all activities are creations of the mind. However, the mind by itself is inert and it becomes active and alert only when it is illumined by an Immanent Power behind it which goes by the names Divine Power, Shakthi or God. According to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts which has no independent existence. We often hear of a term ‘Strength of mind’, [also called by the name ‘Will Power’] and here the term ‘strength’ means the recognition of the Immanent Power behind the mind.

It is often noticed that there are some people who, in spite of most trying conditions and physical abnormalities, have enough mental resources to ignore them. They are even prepared to face death calmly and courageously with equanimity of mind.
Having acknowledged and submitted themselves to their spiritual dimension, they call upon it with the confidence of faith. Having tapped the infinite resource of that Power lying within them, they are cool and calm under all circumstances and endure the shocks and provocations of life without brooding and wallowing in self-pity. They do not succumb to tension, depression, anxiety, fear etc as they have understood the deeper meaning of suffering which alone gives them an opportunity to awaken the spiritual dimension lying dormant within them. One such special person who lived with us till recently and passed away about 10 years back was a German Professor by name Dr.Viktor Frankl.

Dr.Frankl was a professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Vienna, Austria when the Second World War took place. When the German dictator Adolph Hitler conquered Austria in August1938, a number of civilians were arrested and taken to Nazi prisons and Dr.Frankl was among them. Dr.Frankl had to spend three black years in the prison at Auschwitz and other Nazi prisons and had to undergo untold miseries, both physical and mental. Recalling some of his experiences under detention in the Nazi camps and how they were ruthlessly shifted from prison to prison, Frankl writes in one of his books:
“When, we, the new arrivals to the prison, were courted, one of us was missing. So we had to wait outside the prison in the pouring rain and chilly wind until the missing man was found. He was at last discovered in a dilapidated hut where he had fallen asleep due to exhaustion from long walk. Then the roll call was turned into a punishment parade. All through the night and into the morning we had to stand outside the camp , frozen and soaked to the skin after the strain of our long journey. On our entering the new prison, we found there was not enough room for every one even to couch on the floor at the same time. Most of us had to stand all the way while a few took turns at squatting on the scanty straw which was soaked with human urine”

When Dr.Frankl got released from the jail after three years, he discovered that every one in his family had been exterminated in the prison camps except his sister. During these terrible years he deliberately chose a life saving attitude: he would sublimate his degradation and suffering by total surrender [Sharanagathi] to a higher Force which could only give a meaning to life. Many times he felt like committing suicide but averted all such thoughts and lived through harshest conditions He and a few other physically weak persons like himself managed to survive the Nazi atrocities because of their firm belief that they had an undying soul tethered to their physical bodies. Others in the prison, who were physically much stronger and healthier but who lacked this belief in the existence of a Divine Force which would have come to their rescue,, fatally succumbed to stress and suffering. Writing a book much later and analyzing the reasons which enabled him and the like of him to withstand the stress and strain in the Nazi camps, Dr.Frankl says:
“Under the hammer blows of fate and in the white heat of suffering, meaning to life could be found only through the ‘right activity’ of re-orienting one to the belief in the existence of a Supernatural Power behind us. It is this Power [Shakthi] that raises our consciousness and allows us to perceive the higher perspective of inevitable and immutable destiny of ‘noble misfortune’. Those who did not believe in this, perished in the prison”.

With a view to making people aware of this innate Divinity hidden within us and the efficacy of total surrender[ Shranagathi ] to such Divinity, Dr.Frankl evolved a new theory which he called ‘ Logotherapy’, based on the Greek word ‘Logos ‘which means ‘spirit; or ‘divinity’ Logotherapy tries to analyze the ability of a man to survive suffering by finding the meaning and purpose of life and tries to establish that a higher power always dwells in us which gives us strength to bear any suffering calmly without any emotional disturbance. Due to this power we would be able to elevate our thoughts and realize that we are immortal, infinite and eternal. This infuses sufficient strength in us so that we face all calamities in life with a smile, including death—calamities which we can neither change nor avoid in life.

Viktor Frankl became the President of the Austrian Medical Society of Psychotherapy, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Vienna. In due course, he went to America. He taught psychiatry and neurology at the U.S.International University in San Diego, California and was a visiting Professor at the Harvard University as well as visiting Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.
The deep inspiration he received while in the Nazi camps and the profound light it shed on the meaning of life was the subject of many of his lectures which drew large audiences. He was invited to lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.
He made at least 32 lecture tours in the United States as well as three lecture tours around the world. He had also visited India.

In modern hectic days, a feverishly hectic and restless individual is always tense around the clock and emotionally impaired. His busy life lacks the dimension of depth. The testimony of many great souls like Frankl and the life they led proves that the faith that springs from inner strength sustains us through otherwise intolerable sufferings and strong faith in God is always helpful.

Dr. Viktor Frankl passed away in 1997 at the age of 92 years.

B.M.N. Murthy

ARTICLE NO. 461--Dr.VIKTOR FRANKL, Founder of Logotherapy
CreatedFriday, September 5, 2008 10:24 PM