Friday, 10 February 2017

UNNS-The Captivation

Blogging after a long long time. The last one was when Hrithik Roshan's Mohenjo Daro was about to release and it received quite an awesome response from the readers. Perhaps because it was shared on various forums and fan clubs of Hrithik as well. Well, thanks for liking!

My 2nd book, UNNS- The Captivation is coming out in a month. Published by Inspire India publishers, the book will be up for pre-booking on Amazon from the 14th of Feb. Yep, Valentine's Day cause its a love story!

A lot of my friends and readers have asked me the meaning of the title, UNNS, and why the rose on the cover is blue!?

Well, as per Sufi tradition, there are 7 stages of love. An idea, which has been portrayed brilliantly in movies like Dedh Ishqiya and in videos of songs like Satrangi Re from the movie Dil Se.

Here is the list of seven stages of love:
1.) Hub- The Stage of Attraction
2.) UNNS- The stage of Captivation
3.) Ishq- The Stage of Love
4.) Aqeedat- The stage of Reverence
5.) Ibadat- The stage of Worship
6.) Junoon- The stage of Obsession
7.) Maut- The stage of Death

My book UNNS is a tribute to all the seven stages of love.

Now, why is the rose on the cover blue? Well, for that you will have to read the book when it comes out!

Till then, keep watching the space, and enjoy the complete poster of the book.

Link to buy the book on Amazon

http://www.amazon.in/UNNS-Captivation-Sapan-Saxena/dp/9385783874/ref=zg_bsnr_1318160031_7?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=16J3ZXKPGGZWPXHECEPW


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Mohenjo Daro and the Intellectual Push

Picked up my laptop to write another blog post after a long time today. The last I wrote on the blog was the review of The Curse of Damini which doesnt actually count as a blog post. So, before I start, I want to set the premise by stating four points upfront.

1.) I am not a fan of Hrithik Roshan. I really like him as an actor, but not that crazy of a fan. Same goes for Ashutosh Gowarikar.
2.) Hrithik's next movie Mohenjo-daro is stated as a "26th century fiction" in Wikipedia. Its a commercial movie, and not a documentary for History Channel. 
3.) All Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code did was pick up a popular theory of his times, and create a fiction around it. There are proofs both for and against that theory, but till this date the theory remains mostly a rumour.
4.) My first book Finders, Keepers involved a mythical society of the Nine Unknown Men by Asoka, and the historical conflict between Shaivas and Vaishnavas as the premise.

Now, since the time the first trailer of the movie Mohenjo-Daro was out, followed by a song, forums, blogs, tweets and comments are buzzing around the movie, the costumes, the sets, the settings, etc. Mostly by the look and feel of it, this seems like another blockbuster in making and that thought is aided by the Page views, likes, overall social media buzz and various trade analysts. This blog post however is not about the commercial expectations of the movie. It has been seen that a lot many people have raised serious objections, doubts and even jokes on how funny and light-hearted effort the movie is inspite of trying hard to be taken seriously. While I agree with a couple of them, (come on, every movie has mistakes), I find others a very hurried and desperate push to sound intelligent and bring the movie down somehow. 
So, lets talk about those points. All the points mentioned here are collected from various posts, comments, blogs, tweets that I have found against the movie.
Here is the trailer to the movie

Mistakes that I agree with:

1.) The first and foremost, how could the script writers miss it. Mohenjo-Daro literally means "The Mound of the Dead". The ancient city was termed so in not before 1922 by the excavators, and the term "Mohenjo-Daro" is a Sindhi term. Surely, this would not be called by that name back in that age and we still see Hrithik calling it by this name a number of times. Bad bad mistake, that

2.)The pronunciation of the name is itself wrong. It is pronounced differently in Sindhi dialect, however, Hrithik says how it would be called in English.

3.)Stitched clothes in 2016 BC: Many traditions still believe that stitched clothes restrict energy and to expect it in 2016 BC is not correct. But, here comes the limitation and I am pro-this mistake. This statue was unearthed in the excavations, and is titled "The Dancing Girl". Can you suggest one actress who would do this role? I mean this mistake had to happen and could be deliberate



Now, lets focus on mistakes that over-enthusiasts are pointing and to me sound nothing less than funny and over-reactions to criticize the movie. Mins you, some utterly laughable, but have been mentioned all over social media and I have merely compiled them.

Mistakes I dont agree with

1.)Why are they in a French kiss in 2016 BC.
Anyone who points that mistake should go to his bathroom, look into the mirror and ask "Seriously? You passed your high school?" I mean that type of kiss was given a name much later, but didnt ancient Indians kiss? Or they really did not, because they didnt know its name. A piece of trivia for you guys. Vatsyayan wrote Kamasutra not by theory but by visiting households, brothels and other places and depicting the actions of the male and the female on his text while they were at it. Its not that before Kamasutra they didnt know how to conceive.

2.) Why are they fair skinned when Aryans hadnt arrived.
Like seriously? Thats your "historical mistake" you are talking about? But, lets get to the point. This is one of those theories which have a lot of counter arguements as well, and lately those counter arguements have been much more heavy and well documented than those pro to the Aryan Dravidian theory. Read this post to read the counter-narrative. Its like Priory of Sion. Two theories against each other, one documented and much more famous. But, thats the point. Whats wrong in weaving some popular theory in your "fictional" movie. I think thats a smart move.

3.)Horses were domesticated during Vedic Age. Much after the Mohenjo Daro
Because Hrithik is seen riding a horse in the movie. In his book, Mohenjo-Daro and the ancient civilization, 1931, John Marshall has stated historians found seals of horses and statues of domesticated horses. Now, the popular theory against it is, there were no horse bones found, but come on, what about the statues and the seals that were found? This is one pro-horse theory blog. Anyways, not taking any sides, this is in addition to above point. Whats wrong in flirting with a popular counter narrative.

4.)Use of spears and axes:
In the 2000 published book International Symposium on History of Machines and MechanismsProceedings HMM, it is clearly mentioned that Harappans knew hot to make spears, axes out of bronze-copper metals. The excavations have found weapons made out of those metals. Iron was still not known to be used. 

5.)Disparity with history.
These are the ruins of the city structure of Mohenjo Daro as per Wikipedia(credit Comrogues

This is from their trailer

I think the movie depicts a perfect visual representation of how the city would be. I am not sure why some people disagree to this as well.

5.) The plot itself looks cliched
I may not have the intellectual capability to comment on that because honestly, one can think of any plot for a fictional movie. The narrative and execution is more important. However, with such a plot some people are having so many problems, God knows if they would have chosen a more complex plot, those guys would have gone bonkers.

6.)The first video song
And now, my most favorite part. How people are so desperate to pull it down. There is one 3-miunte song that has been released recently and there have been funny comments. Here is the song

i.)Why are they with horns?
That looks stupid? Out of place? Lets see, have you noticed why there eyes are colored red as well? The male dancers? Its for a reason.
The above is the image representation of Lord Pashupati, and the above seal is found in excavations of the Indus Valley. Pashupati is known as the lord of the animals. So, in the song, they play animals, and the horns symbolize praying to Lord Pashupati himself. Notice how Kabir Bedi wears horns on his head? He is depicting himself as a God to his citizens. Pooja Hegde, in all probability, is symbolizing a Goddess among all of them.
Notice how in the seal above the animals are bowing to Lord Pashupati, much akin to how is it in the song


ii)Bollywood Dance Moves


On the same lines as the "French kiss" point above. There have been male and female statues found where they are shown as dancing in their posture. So, dance was not alien to them. In addition to that, it has often been rumoured that Harappans knew about Nataraja and his dancing stance. The postures that they are taking up are certainly not "Bollywood" anyways.

iii)Blue, chlorinated Swimming Pool
This comment makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I mean that much of cherry-picking in a movie? Just to prove a point? Such scrutiny?
Anyways, here is an image of "The Great Bath" from Wikipedia by Saqib Qayyum


Historians claim The Great Bath at the ruins of the Harappan civilization to be ancient world's first water tank. A side-by -side pic of both courtesy India Today

The blue tiles? They could very well be symbolic reflection of sky or even added color to make it look divine. But, I think making fun of some brilliant attempt is easier than attempting something similar.
And chlorinated water? The city had world's first sewage system, and you are talking about water treatment? Just for the curious minds, water purification is even prescribed n Ayurveda. This may date further back, but historians claim Harappans knew about sanitation and treatment of water. Thats why it may be clean. And did you smell chlorine?

Do you know that in the 1995 historical movie Braveheart, the fruit thrown at the protagonist includes tomato, which werent even discovered by the era that movie is set in? In 2010 movie RobinHood, the French king is told they would land on English Coast in 40 minutes. The period the movie is set in, minutes werent used to measure time. Coins were used to cover eyes of dead in 2004 hit Troy, when the coins werent clearly invented by that time.

I wont talk about how tacky you think the VFX crocodile was in the trailer, or if the plot sounds cliched to you. the battles dont appeal or whatever. The point is these days with the ease of access of a click and a share, people jump to conclusions way too often. Didnt like the trailer, saw a few comments, read a few blogs, and lo! You get an opinion! The moment someone tries to bring a really interested and difficult topic on celluloid, the intellectuals start pointing what all could have been corrected. I know a few of them and have seen cheering Jason Statham when he was chasing a car on his cycle in Transporter 3 or when Salman Khan enters the villain's den alone in Wanted.
Some of them even called it a "Hindutva" movie. I mean someone give them a life! The move hasnt even released.

Hold your horses, folks. This is definitely an interesting and innovative attempt. Enjoy the movie for what it is and not what you want it to be. Stitching theories and rumors into fiction is a very popular mechanism and highly entertaining and I am sure you loved Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Ending the post with a spoof song which I think relates very heavily to his blog post



Sunday, 10 April 2016

Book Review- The Curse of Damini by Debajani Mohanty

The moment I picked up Debajani Mohanty's debut novel "The Curse of Damini", and read the back cover blob which talked of a historic pre-Independence setting, I was sure of two things. One, an extensive detailing of the Bengali culture and the rustic rural settings, and two, a definite inspiration from Tagore's works and stories. So, that part didnt come as a surprise or a novelty factor to me.
Yet, I will give full credits to Debajani, its very tough to recreate and reinterpret what Tagore has already done so perfectly. Even a director of the stature of Anurag Basu wasnt so perfect in capturing the maestro's stories and the vibrant atmosphere he built up in them. But where everyone mostly fails, Debajani succeeds. So, +1 for that.

The book is feminist to the core, a topic which I appreciate and find a lot of interest in reading. Debjani has very smartly kept away from pseudo feminist ideas and her protagonist Renuka fights with the system and the society surrounding her, keeping her identity and valor intact. I was aware that the setting being pre-Independence rural Bengal, a small town of Medinipur, the problems a strong willed girl would face and fight would be the very problems we have grown up reading about . I wasnt exatcly disappointed to see the same problems surfacing in Debajani's book. However, I expected more clever solutions to those problems, more imagination from Renuka. I was a bit disappointed in Debajani using the same old methods to fight those problems, same old theatricals and approaches. So, -1 for that.

The book begins on a very high pitch and strong grounds. Debajani has very cleverly arched out the characters of Renuka and her strong willed husband. Its always a pleasure to read books where demure spouses gradually rise above the stature of their level headed partners. I mean thats a character arch, where the protagonists make an impression isnpite of the risk of getting overshadowed. And for most of the part Debajani succeeds in the same. But then, all of a sudden you cannot make the same level headed character say something totally out of his league, just to make a point.

The first half is splendid, the reader completely gets lost in the aura of the Havelis and the pompousness of the zamindars of those times and the little neatly explained detailing of the Bengali culture. The terror of communal violence is beautifully explained not via those who got killed, but by those who lived and that deserves a special mention.
The story begins to falter in the second half a bit. Introductions of certain characters and re-introduction of a few break the momentum and all of a sudden there is another feminist character who is confused yet determined.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, specifically for the detailed explanations by Debajani of the scenic beauty of Medinipur, the villagers, their antics, their customs and rituals. The character of Damini is the spice of the story as Debajani has very intelligently used her character.
I would give 3.5/5 stars for the book. Its a must read.

You can buy the book from Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012A3MOVM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1
http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B012A3MOVM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Rudraksha

"A multi-dimensional hologram in the form of a seed"

The Shiva Puran consists of 24000 shlokas, and these 24000 shlokas are divided into 7 Samhitas. A Samhita is a collection or compilation of hymns or verses in a sacred book.
In the first Samhita of the Shiva Puran, the Videyshwar Samhita, in the 25th Chapter, is the first mention of Rudraksha.
Literally meaning the 'tear of Rudra', the seed forms an almost inseparable part of the Hindu philosophy and customs, not only because of the ascendancy it commands when we talk of Hindu symbols, but also because  like all the pan-Hindu symbols be it the OM, or the Namaste, this again seems to be a purely scientific marvel designed altogether as a religious symbol.

The Vidyeshwar Samhita states that Shiva had been performing penance for thousand of years, when out of sport, he opened his eyes, wanting to help Shakti with the benefit of world. Seeing the misery and the grief all over, drops of tears fell from his half-closed eyes. These tears became immobile as soon as they fell on the earth and from these drops cropped up the the Rudraksha tree .

Symbolism of Rudraksha: Though the prime symbolism of Rudraksha has already been explained earlier, a few other attributes could be aligned with its symbolism.
Since ancient Vedic times, beads are known to help a person concentrate one's thoughts while reciting verses or performing certain rituals. Rudraksha adds to that, it being a symbol of Shiva, and becomes the perfect bead when reciting "Om Namah Shivay" for meditation. A common Rudraksha is divided into 5 sub-sections, symbolic of the 5 faces of Shiva, viz. West, South, North, East and Skyward faces, while a 2 facet Rudraksha symbolizes Shiva and Parvati.

Scientific Analogies: In the year 1993, Subhas Rai of Banaras Hindu University conducted a detailed study on Rudraksha and its scientific analogies and he came out with some very interesting results.
Mr Rai proved that Rudraksha is di-electric and can store electrical energy and have permanent magnetic properties which affect human body when worn on it. Not only the electromagnetism provides anti-ageing qualities to the Rudraksha, the di-electric attributes cause a subtle change in the electric make-up of the body, helping it in a life-supporting manner.

Healing attributes: Rudraksha not only affects the central nervous system, resulting in decreasing anxiety, blood pressure, tension, it also helps a person in increasing concentration. This, coming not from some commercial site selling Rudraksha beads, but a scientific paper presented in one of the topmost engineering institutes of India.
A certain chemical called serotinin, which is responsible for levels of confidence or mental energy \, when falls below a certain level, causes anxiety, depression or low self esteem. Anti-depressants and tranquilizers control the levels of serotinin in the body and soothe mental disturbances. Depending upon which faceted Rudrash one wears, wearing it near the heart controls certain brain chemicals, thereby inducing the state of mind.

Feeling lucky?: The left part of the brain does all the logical and structured decision making, while the right side of the brain is known more for the abstract thinking or the lateral thinking part. Now, what is being lucky? Simply put, being at the right place at the right time or making a decision at the right time. Wearing Rudraksha for longer periods activates the right part of the brain, and people start taking more decisions, based on their subconscious layer of mind, as explained in The Multifaceted OM.


Feng-Shui Connection: Rudraksha doesnt come up as your regular, "more popular", classic tools of Feng-Shui. Infact, it is has been adopted by many Feng-Shui followers who have been fascinated by Hinduism and Rudraksha, in particular.

I am not trying to advertise Rudraksha here, trying to increase the sales of Rudraksha beads being sold in every nook and corner of the country. Most of them are not even genuine Rudraksha seeds. Commercialization certainly has its demerits, and attaching magical tales and legends with Rudraksha is yet another attempt to pep up the sales in various sacred cities of India, an attempt to push the sales among the general "not-so-educated" section of the society. This, in a way, demerits the credibility of such a magnificent phenomenon and raises doubts among people.
Rudraksha has its fair share of benefits, and should certainly be treated with utmost respect and treated more of a scientific marvel than a religious symbol. However, the fanaticism associated with such symbols somehow overshadow the science and the mysticism attached to them.
Think of it, a botanical seed, rich in electro-magnetism,  the intensity varying with the facets of the seed, is no small a marvel both in terms of science and religion. No wonder, a number of MNCs are vying to make a claim to patent Rudraksha now. I am really looking forward to the day when a majority of us Indians would start looking beyond the clouds of doubtfulness and start taking pride in our rich heritage.




Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Journey Past Forward

"A highly sophisticated and advanced urban culture, the quality of planning and construction suggest efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene.
A centralized granary, much akin to the concept of modern day State Banks is also evident. The entire urban plan included world's first sanitation system. The engineers were highly advanced, and that shows in the construction of the houses, the warehouses, granaries, and walls"

Any guesses which city, exactly are we talking about? No, its not present day New Delhi, though the current governance definitely pulls it back to the age which we are talking about. 
We are not even talking about a century old New York or Boston, and not even a decade old London, the description as such, though, would perfectly map to that of the cities.
The city, or rather setup I am talking about belongs to an era even 3400 years prior to the rule of Ashoka. It would sound nothing short of a miracle, even mysticism, to even believe such a civilization existed around 3600 BCE. Yes, we are talking about the Indus Valley civilization, in particular.
Time to move past forward and refresh the memories of your first ever history books!! I know it was boring, but lets try to make it interesting.

The architecture: Perhaps the most astonishing feature of the Indus Valley civilization, it is hard to believe that cities used to have a proper drainage system in those times, much akin to those even in use today. The walls were made of bricks, and houses were even multistory! Home to the first ever sanitation system in the entire world, separate dedicated rooms were set aside for bathing and toilets, which were connected to covered drains on major roads. Think of it, that we are not talking of our present day drainage system, but a system more than 5000 years ago.

Wide streets and easy access to all the routes was provided. The roads intersected each other at right angles, the houses were built on sides, taking care that the roads are never encroached. Buildings on corners of the streets suggest hotels or common dining places used for drinking and regular business activities. Pubs and restaurants, anyone?

The houses were built from east to west or north to south on a road, such that winds blowing in one direction would flow across all the houses in a row, ventilating them all across.  

Town Planning: Another one of the most astonishing attributes of Indus Valley Civilization was the concept of Granaries.
As a structure, the Granaries were quite interesting in their conceptualization and usage. The granaries ran 150 feet in length, 75 feet in width and 15 feet in height, and was divided into 27 distinct compartments in 3 rows. The granaries were very well ventilated, thus prohibiting decay of food items, and grains could be filled in, from outside. 
A remarkable feature of the civilization was the presence of a prominent current of egalitarianism in the society. The houses, though differed in sizes, probably based on the financial conditions of the inhabitants, each one of them had an individual well, and bathrooms were provided along with proper ventilation. 

Economy: Indus and Saraswati being the most remarkable out of the rivers, Ravi and Sutlej being the other two, the people used the presence of the three rivers much to their benefit. The rivers not only kept the land fertile and water handy for irrigation, they provided excellent medium for transportation and trade as well.

The concept of Granaries again comes into play here, as it was one of the primitive versions of modern day State Banks. Farmers were expected to pay a huge sum of their crops in the granaries in the form of taxes.
In the absence of any concrete evidence related to the medium of trade, barter system could be a distinct possibility.
Excavations have revealed possibility of a weight system with objects being discovered which could have been used for weighing. In all probability, they followed the sixteen system for weighing(16, 64, 160, 320).

Religion: An important aspect, considering they laid the very foundations of what was to be followed centuries later, there is an evident usage of Swastika. But, considering that it was a symbol more of rational implications then, than religious, seals with inscription of Pashupathi and Shiva-Linga have been discovered. A mother Goddess, primarily Earth, was worshipped, farming being there prime source of livelihood.
A few certain structures have been identified as temples, most of the deity figures, though unidentified till now, show them sitting in a Yoga posture, a highly corroborative evidence of Yoga being practised d
uring those times.

The Firsts: While it has already been mentioned that Indus people were the first to have a proper sanitation system and measurement system, they also scored in having the first ever dentists. Excavations have produced driller molar set of teeth along the site. They also were the first to use buttons as a means of ornament as well as fastening the clothes. They also built up world's first dockyard at Lothal where they had shops to trade with neighbouring lands.

The Mystery: The biggest mystery surrounding the Indus valley Civilization, is the sudden collapse of the entire existence of around 1000 years. They disappeared out of nowhere without leaving much behind.
Lately, the mysteries have been uncovered, and the disappearance has been attributed to drying up of Saraswati as the primary occupation then, was farming. There was a major reduction in monsoon over the area and Sutlej changed its course, resulting in drying of Saraswati. The theory, however itself is ambiguous as they could have easily moved over to certain other areas and survived.
The cult and the ideology of Indus people is highly unknown. Were they violent, or were they highly religious, one can not be much sure of. They certainly were democratic to a point as no statue or seal depicting a King or a head has been found.
They were certainly rich, and loved sanitation, cleanliness and bathing. They have often depicted battles between beasts and humans and Gods in their arts.

And to think of it, the planning and architecture they applied could put India's metros to shame. The population has increased heavily since then, one could argue, but so has technology. They were heavily dependent on a few rivers, so they vanished. The egalitarianism they enjoyed during those times is certainly a lesson for all the societies of the world to follow.
I chose to write about the Indus Valley Civilization, just to prove how modern and conceptualized the land was even 5600 years ago. Indians are lucky to be able to boast of one of the earliest and advanced societies of all times.

Ending the article on an interesting note, during the Middle Bronze ages(3600BCE-1200BCE), the people of Sumer are known to have had trading relations with a prominent center called Meluha. Probably, Meluha is the none other than the Indus Valley civilization. Though, there are no substantial proofs to validate this theory.

Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers

Namaste for Now!




Friday, 31 October 2014

The Number 13

"Never cross a road if a black cat has crossed your path"
"If you sneeze before some work, the work is bound to fail"
"If you mutter the word 'oil' or 'tel' before leaving your home, something unasupicious will befall upon you."
"Wait for the Shubh Muhurat for anything auspicious, be it a medical checkup"
"Consult your horoscopes before getting married"
And the most famous...
"Do not plan anything auspicious on 13th of a month. Dont buy your home on the 13th floor."

I would like to analyze in this post, what caused the above mentioned superstitions to set their stronghold in India, how many of them were based on scientific and logical analogies, and may still hold true even to this day. How many of them are completely baseless, and why do people keep on sticking to them. Needless to say, most of these superstitions have made their way successfully through the new millennium into even this current decade. I may not be able to take up all of them in this post itself, but would definitely like to address all.

The Wicked Black Cat: Surprisingly, this superstition originate in India and has no reference whatsoever in any ancient Indian text. As a matter of fact, black cat was the Vahana of Goddess Shashthi, and symbolized childbirth in ancient India.
What was initially a mere propaganda, is now what people follow with blind faith. In earlier Egypt, the Goddess Bast, who was the Goddess of protection was actually a female black cat. In an attempt to denounce everything non-Christian, the then Christians declared a black cat to be a symbol of bad fate. This superstition propagated further and soon reached India.
Logical/Scientific value: None. This superstition is as good as useless.

Howling dogs: Howling dogs are said to be impeding signs of coming danger. It is believed that if someone listens to a howling dog, some great tragedy would befall on him.
The origin of this superstition turns out to be a very smart move by the ancient Indians. They had learned about the hearing abilities of dogs, and it has also been proved now that dogs have some sixth sense. Hence, howling dogs could very well predict natural calamities like earthquake, tsunami, or even heart attacks in advance and proper measure could be taken.
Logical/Scientific value: Credible to a limit. Not to be followed without reason

Sneeze and drink water: Another one of the most common and widespread superstition of all times is related to sneezing. This again, is based on a scientific logic. When we sneeze, the air and mucus leave our mouth and nose at the speed of 100 miles per hour. Science says that when this much amount of energy is released from the body, body becomes weak for a moment. Just before sneezing, one takes a deep breath  which increases flow of blood to the heart, increasing the heart rate. After sneeze, the heart rate drops all of a sudden, creating the effect of almost missing a heart beat. The western countries have a tradition of saying "Bless You". Saying "have something sweet", or "drink some water" is a way of asking the other person to relax.
Logical/Scientific value: Credible to a limit. Shall not be linked with any jinx or ominous behaviour.

Buri Nazar and the remedies: A superstition as widespread as the black cat and number 13, in the Indian sub-continent, is the Buri Nazar, or the evil-eye. Someone is looking very pretty in a party, or a child genius is celebrated in a parents-teacher meeting, or even getting a meagre salary-hike, can catch someone's fancy or the evil eye, and you are attacked by the Buri Nazar(yes, its that easy). If the person even feels a headache the next day, it confirms someone has set his or her evil eye. The remedy is to take a glass of water and dissolve some salt in it and rotate it around the affected person, immediately flushing it down afterwards.
Stupid, the cause and remedy, may sound, this is based on a solid medical foundation. Salt water attracts negative cosmic energy and breaks it down. It is equally important to throw the contaminated water away regularly.
Logical/Scientific value: Highly credible remedy , but not in the way it is followed in India.

Playing with scissors: Unnecessarily playing with scissors causes rifts in a home. How else would someone educate a child not to play with sharp objects like knife and scissors. A theory was developed around scissors and rifts. Creating fear in a child's mind helps, but thats not the best way always
Logical/Scientific value: Valid only for children, even that is debatable.

Right foot first: The superstition has got more to do with the psych and psychology of a person, than what is right to do and what is wrong. When setting on an important journey or a task, it is important to be in the right and correct frame of mind. Keeping right foot first is training yourself sub-consciously to be upright in the journey. This again, however, depends on the person, rather than "always right foot". Some people may feel more confident setting their left foot forward first. This is a highly personalized practice.
Logical/Scientific value: Again, as good as useless.

The twitching eyes: A left eye twitching on its own is a bad omen, while the right eye twitching on it own means a good news is on its way, or some success on its way. As per modern science, this is nothing more than a sham, this being the only superstition with no logical reasoning whatsoever.
Twitching of eye is a neurological disorder, like Perkinson's disease and should be taken care of, instead of feeling happy about it.
Logical/Scientific value: Again, as good as useless.


The Number 13: A lesser known fact is that 2 days before Diwali(in some regions 1 day before Diwali), Dhanteras is celebrated as the day when one should buy new utensils or jewellery, as it is considered auspicious, however, the day falls on 13th day in the month of Ashwin. Shivratri is celebrated on the 13th night of the Magha month. The probable cause of surge of number 13 as an unlucky number seems to be in the ritual when after death of a person, a ceremonial fast is held in remembrance of the departed soul on the 13th day after his death.
Logical/Scientific value: What began as an innocent practice now faces us in the form of a big and unhealthy superstition with no logical or scientific base whatsoever.

Think of it, India was chosen to be God's own country. Why else would civilization first sow its roots in this land. the intellect of ancient sages, the knowledge of the Vedas, it was all bestowed upon us out of all the lands of the world.
Its a pity, that from being a holy land we are now more of a Land of Superstitions. Most of the practices are followed out of habit and superstition more than intent and the need. people go on teaching these things to their children without even explaining, probably because they themselves are not aware. This awareness has to rise, if we want to get rid of the shackles of superstitions.

Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers

If you liked the above post, please click on Khoj-In Search of lost signs and like the page which opens up. Bidding Adieu for now.
Namaste


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Festival of Lights


I will keep this post light and simple. Festival of Diwali is just round the corner, and there is no point expecting readers to spend a good few half an hour in front of their laptops/mobile phones. But, amidst this very debate of crackers v/s no crackers, people often bring up the point of "What's the point of fire crackers?" in their conversation. Well, lets sit back for a moment and have a look at the festival of Diwali. Who knows, a few people may get some answers here and there?

A point of confusion:  Lets move directly to the day when Rama has just defeated Ravana, the day, we celebrate even today as Dusshehra. Now, Ram was a pious king, so he would have made sure that the bodies of all soldiers were ceremoniously cremated. He also waited for Vibhishana to be crowned king of Lanka, or whatever remained of it. He would have bid adieu to Sugriva, Jamavant, Nala, Neela, and others. All of this could have taken a day, or two, when Rama along with Laxman and Sita would have started back for Ayodhya. All of them reach Ayodhya and the entire town broke into celebrations, the day, we still celebrate as Diwali. Which means, it took all three of them some 18-19 days to travel back the distance of 3253 km. This certainly seems to be a bit far fetched, especially knowing that they crossed sea, and high altitude mountains and dense forests, not to mention they didnt have any maps. How did they do it then? Ramayana mentions a certain Pushpak Vimana, but could they fly in those days?
To get the answers of the above question, please like the page of my upcoming book, Finders, Keepers. There is no point missing a chance of promoting your book :)

The burning of crackers: Its always been a nature of history, that what we see around us today, may not have been because of results of one singular act of events in history, but a combination of results of a number of acts together in history, which led to the very activity that we see in front of us.
Interestingly, there is no mention either in Ramayana or any other scripture of those times of burning of firecrackers when Rama along with Sita returned back to Ayodhya in Pushpak Viman. Then how did this act of burning of crackers got associated with the festival of Diwali?

As per some scriptures, there was a demon Narakasura who ruled the kingdom of Pradoshyapuram, who was the son of Bhumi Devi. He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother. and Bhumi Devi had already died in his childhood. That had made him immortal in a way.
The king was evil and had even troubled Indra with his atrocities. Indra requested Krishna to end the evils of Narakasura. Krishna requested his wife, Satyabhama to accompany him  in this quest as he was aware that Satyabhama was the reincarnation of Bhumi Devi.
Krishna fought an epic battle with Narakasura and destroyed his army but was heavily injured by Narakasura because of his boon. Seeing an injured Krishna, Satyabhama picked up his Chakra and killer Narakasura out of fury.

Before his death, he requested for a boon from Krishna and Satyabhama that people should celebrate his death anniversary by lighting up their houses, distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers. His boon was granted by Satyabhama and Krishna and they blessed him that his death anniversary would be celebrated on the day of Diwali, which was already celebrated to mark the return of Rama and Sita back to Ayodhya.


The scientific angle: Believe it or not, there is a very scientific angle reated to burning of crackers and lighting lamps around this time of the year. Diwali comes at the onset of winters, and the rainy season is almost coming to an end.
With water being stagnant, mosquitoes and other insects  breed a lot, bringing with them a whole lot of  diseases.  In the older days when healthcare was not so advanced, bursting firecrackers was seen as one way to rid the atmosphere of  the insects, kill the bugs around. Also in a way burning firecrackers was one way of welcoming the winter chill, that was just about setting in

The etymological reasons: As per certain historians, the practice of burning of crackers originated in China as a means of warding off evil and notorious spirits by scaring them with loud bursting sounds and lights. Soon, this practice spread to other parts of the world, including India.
In the early days, the practice of burning of crackers and lighting of lamps was done to entertain the royals and the kings only, but soon, the practice associated a religious significance of symbolizing the victory of good over evil with itself, and burning of crackers became a regular practice at Diwali.
People had already been celebrating Diwali by lighting lamps, and cleaning their houses by then, as a mark of return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya, and soon other practices also came to be getting associated with Diwali.

I didnt touch upon the Rama v/s Ravana part much in the above post, as that is one story that we have been listening to, hearing from our grannies since a long time, and in my knowledge, almost everyone if aware of. But, that doesnt stop me from mentioning how Diwali is still symbol of victory of the good over the evil. The tale of the victory of Rama over Ravana, or the tale of death of Narakasura at the hands of Satyabhama certainly strengthen the belief.
So, make your own decision on how you want to celebrate the festival of lights, and there is no particular way by which Diwali should be celebrated. As long as you are comfortable with your own way of celebrations, you should stick to it and celebrate the day as a symbolic victory of good over evil.

I would like to end this post now.
Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers
Bidding Adieu for now.
Namaste