DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE TRADITION OF RIVER WORSHIP

CULTURAL UNIFICATION OF INDIA – THE PRACTICE OF TIRTHA SNAAN ( BATHING IN HOLY RIVERS )

Water plays an important role in a variety of Cultures and religious practices prevalent in this world.The role of water constitutes one of the most remarkable aspects of Indian religious life.Hindu religion is often described as ” SANATANA DHARMA “.The practice of bathing in a river is an unusual example of the continuance of an ancient tradition and hence I can refer to the practice of ‘ TIRTHA SNAAN ‘ as “SANATANA” in its origin.Simply touching water is a purifying gesture in the Vedas.Pilgrimages(TIRTHA YATRAS) to holy rivers(TIRTHA) was already known in Vedic and Epic times and it remains extremely popular up to the present day.In fact,my impression is that the practice has become more popular and a far greater number of people are participating due to the availability of modern time conveniences for travel and lodging.The news media consistently report that our river festivals such as “KUMBH MELA” and “PUSHKARAMS”have established world records as the largest gathering of human beings upon this earth in one single day and for one single purpose.The sacredness of a place is often due to the sanctity it derives from its location on the bank of a holy river(TIRTHA STHAN or TIRTHA KSHETRA).The following verse is an example of such belief.The simple act of remembering the various places that River Ganges traverses through,would be equivalent to the worship of all Gods and would bestow great blessings(PUNYA).

Tatra tatra sthitaa Gangaa,Sarva Punya Phala pradaa

Bhaveth smarana maatrena,Sarva Deva namaskrutaa.

Apart from bathing(SNAAN),holy waters are used in the ritualistic worship of deities,and the water used in the worship is used to sprinkle upon the heads of the devotees and also consumed by the devotee in acceptance of the blessings from the Deity.The devotee hopes for deliverance from sin or pollution(“PAAP”),seeks preservation or enrichment of his religious merit(“PUNYA”),hopes for a reward such as rebirth in a heaven(“SWARG LOK”)and even total emancipation(“MOKSHA or MUKTI”).There are instances when people had actually traveled to the holy city of VARANASI to die near the Ganges.More often,the cremated remains,the ashes are carried by the loved ones and are physically sprinkled and immersed in the holy rivers such as Ganges to help the onward journey of the departed soul.The worship of rivers and the practice of bathing is a belief that is connected with the traditional Indian views of earthly life.Indians believe in the theory of “KARMA”.They believe that the acts of their present lives and their past lives would be a factor that determines the condition into which a being is reborn.The “KARMA” binds the soul and compels it to go through an endless series of births and deaths.The cycle of birth,death and rebirth is called “SAMSARA”.In my previous entry,I had written about the fear of “SAMSARA”.The practice of bathing in a holy river is an example of “INDIVIDUALISM”.Even when millions of people travel and gather together to bathe in a river on one day,each is acting strictly to earn his own merit and to reap his own benefit and the community does not expect any share of the rewards that the bather may be granted.I could bathe and wash my own sins and I can not be of any help to others if they carry the burden of their own sins.Each person has to accept responsibility for their own actions and if necessary they can seek help from others to get to the river and ask for assistance to bathe in the river.River worship appears to be a communal event but its usefulness is strictly individualistic in nature.Bathing is not viewed as a simple act of personal hygiene,it constantly reminds us of the need to seek purification and makes us aware of our responsibility for own actions and challenges us to face the consequences in our future lives.People are encouraged to seek the blessings that bathing in holy rivers would contribute even while they may be showering at home.The following verse is an example of our connection to the rivers that flow across our Land.

Gangecha Yamunechiva,Godavari, Saraswathi

Narmade, Sindhu,Kaveri,Jalesmin sannidhim kuru.

MY INTRODUCTION TO RIVER WORSHIP :

I had described in my previous entry on traditional greeting,that Culture represents ideas and thoughts transmitted by one generation to the next.It indeed gives me a great pleasure to recall my learning of this unique Cultural Tradition while I lived at my Grandfather’s mansion in Innispeta of Rajahmundry town in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh.During 1950s,I lived with my parents,two brothers,grand mother,her sister and my great grand mother.The house had bath rooms and we had regular water supply from the municipality.We would generally shower at home and on important festival days,we would bathe in River Godavari.My great grand mother was an exception to this bathing practice.She firmly believed in the practice of river worship and adhered to it every single day and almost till her final days of earthly existence.She was of short stature and she was already in her ninety’s and due to her age,her spine curved and made her even smaller.Her vision had deteriorated and she was able to see only a few feet ahead of her.Our house was located at the corner of “KALABARGI VARI” street and the “RAMALAYAM” street.The Lord Sri Rama Temple of Innispeta is a well known land mark and it stands next to the protective river embankment.The river bank is fairly wide,it included railway tracks and a motor-able road.Much later,the second rail cum road bridge was built across Godavari river using these railway tracks.My great grand mother would walk to the river all by herself and used a walking stick to support herself.The journey to the river is short but she faced a lot of dangers on the street.Those days,vehicular traffic was not a problem and crossing the railway tracks was not a problem.The biggest threat was posed by the stray animals such as goats and cows that roam freely on the streets.She was practically defenseless.As young boys at home,myself and my elder brother were often given the chore of escorting my great grand mother during her walk to the river.When we followed her as her escort,the animals always behaved better and would not come to attack her.The reward myself and my brother Pratap reaped was that of getting into the emerald green,crystal clear,cool waters of GODAVARI and frolic in the shallow waters as my great grand mother did her worship.But for my great grand mother’s tenacity and perseverance,myself and my brother would never have ventured to make a trip to the river in the morning.It was a joyful experience and the Tradition of River Worship gave us some very fond memories of our life in Rajahmundry.The following verse speaks of the importance that we attach to rivers of India and they are treated with great respect as they are deemed to be the same as Ganges:

Kaveri,Tunga Bhadracha,Krishnavenicha,Gautamee

Bhagirathicha vikhyata,Pancha Ganga prakiirtitaa.

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE SPIRIT OF NATIONALISM

Jawahar Lal Nehru, India's First Prime Minister speaks eloquently about River Ganges shaping the lives of Indians throughout History.

 

“….The Ganges,above all is the river of India,which has held India’s heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history.The story of the Ganges,from her source to the sea,from old times to new,is the story of India’s civilization and culture,of the rise and fall of empires,of great and proud cities,of adventures of man….”  

Discovery of India,Jawaharlal Nehru  

  

  

JIS DESH MEIN GANGA BEHATI HAI (THE COUNTRY WHERE RIVER GANGES FLOWS)

WHAT IS INDIA ? INDIA IS DEFINED AS THE LAND OR COUNTRY WHERE RIVER GANGES FLOWS. INDIA CAME INTO EXISTENCE WHEN GANGES STARTED FLOWING THROUGH THIS LAND.

 

  

Raj Kapoor won Filmfare’s Best Actor Award in 1961 for his portrayal of ‘Raju’,a song writer,in his film titled ‘ Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behati Hai ‘.The picture was released during 1960 when I was twelve years old and was studying in VI-Form at the DANAVAIPETA MUNICIPAL HIGH SCHOOL in the town of RAJAHMUNDRY,East Godavari District , Andhra Pradesh.We had a beautiful marble statue of Mahatma Gandhi right in front of our school.I had studied Indian History as part of my school curriculum.I used to score well in my History tests.It was not difficult for me to remember all those dates,names and other facts that constitute the subject matter of History.I have a deep sense of appreciation for all those leaders who orchestrated the political struggle against the British Rule.The freedom movement did indeed foster a sense of purpose and had united people to achieve a common goal. It could be true that the fight against the Colonial powers gave a sense of Identity and very often the freedom fighters were called ‘SATYAGRAHIS.’I have great admiration for their sense of patriotism and I am ever grateful for the sacrifices they made to win our independence.I saw this movie ‘ Jis Desh Mein ‘ just once and may have heard the title song on the radio on a few occasions.But the song ,” Hotoan pe sachhai rahati hai,jahan dil me safaai rahati hai,Hum us desh ke vaasi hai,Hum us desh ke vaasi hai,Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behati Hai “, never faded from my memory.

 

Ten years after seeing the movie,in the year 1970,at the age of 22 years ,I was granted President’s Commission and joined the Indian Armed Forces in the rank of Lieutenant.While joining Service,we accept the risks that naturally accompany such an occupation and reflect upon the motivation that shapes the decision.I understand that the Freedom Struggle was important but that Struggle does not define my sense of National Identity.I have known that the country that we call India has existed long before the invasion by the Mughals,the country that we call India has existed during centuries of British Rule and now the country that we call India exists in spite of the changes in the political landscape and the political fortunes of the Parties that we elect from time to time.My sense of National Identity is not dependent upon the political history of our country.My sense of National Identity does not depend upon the language that I speak at home and it is not related to the regional customs pertaining to food or dress.I have known my country from its Cultural Traditions.In 1970,I had joined Army to defend the country which lives in my mind as the Land where River Ganga flows.

Mahatma Gandhi is revered as the Father of the Nation and had promoted the Spirit of Nationalism during India's long Struggle for Freedom.

 In my opinion,the country that we call India is not a mere political entity.It is true that India gained its political freedom in 1947.The country is existing ever since the River Ganges had started flowing across its Land. 

I am not surprised that the song ” Jis Desh Mein ” still plays and I still hear the golden voice of immortal Mukesh ,whenever my heart dreams about India. Most certainly,the Spirit of Nationalism is inspired by a history which reaches back to a period earlier than the British occupation of India.

 

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,

M.B.B.S.,  Class  of  April,  1970. 

  

 

 

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE TRADITIONAL GREETING

A Keralite Dancer in Sari( Mohini Attam: a dan...
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Om, Namah Sivaya - The Five Letter Mantra - Traditional Indian Greeting-Namaskar

THE TRADITION OF RESPECT AND OBEDIENCE : 

 

Deuteronomy, 5 th Book of Moses, The Old Testament, The Holy Bible:

Chapter 10, verse 16 : ” Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked “.

The word ” Namah ” means one that bends which implies obedience. The one word ” Namaskar ” represents the full spectrum of the legacy of India’s Culture.

NAMAH SHIVAYA :

 

Sree madaatmaney gunieka sindhavey Namah Shivaya,

Daamaleysa bhuuta loka bhandhiney Namah Shivaya

Naama soshitaa namadbhavaamdhasey Namah Shivaya,

Paamareytara pradhaana bhandhavey Namah Shivaya.

 

I shall begin this entry with a traditional greeting. As a kid I was trained to greet and acknowledge others.The greeting is called ‘NAMASKAR’ or ‘NAMASTE’. I would begin by greeting all of you who may read this entry with my ‘NAMASKAR’. Namaskar is the essence of our Culture and this single word can represent the full spectrum of our Cultural legacy. I had served in Uniform.The lesson I grasped is that to’ SALUTE ‘ is the foundation upon which the entire structure of military discipline is built.Service in the Armed Forces depends upon team work.The team structure depends upon the ability of team members to recognize and acknowledge each other at all times. I ‘ SALUTE ‘ to acknowledge the person as a member of my team. Army accomplishes great things only when the team members follow this ground rule for their conduct and behavior. Namaskar is the tool given to me by the Culture of my Land and this tool shapes my attitude and personal behavior and this tool helps me to attain my life’s goals.

DEFINING CULTURE :

Culture is defined as learned or acquired behavior in contrast to biological behavior which is genetically endowed. Human Culture is defined as learned behavior acquired by individuals as members of a social group.Culture denotes a people’s heritage of custom and belief. It is a system of ideas that has been transmitted down through the generations. It includes assumptions about the world, about life and existence, rules and ways to act, goals and ways of achieving them. People’s ideas about ways to live may shape the ways they actually do live.Beginning at birth,each individual is en cultured by a body of norms governing behavior and other knowledge that the society has.Thus Cultural heritage can be defined as the sum total of human knowledge and acquired behavior. Namaskar represents the essence of my Cultural heritage.Culture gives people a sense of personal identity.Defining that ‘identity’ helps in understanding the Culture.Namaskar is the behavior I learned and Namaskar defines my ‘identity’. It is a behavior transmitted to me through the generations.

CULTURE OF THE LAND :

The Land of India in our Culture and tradition is referred to as the land of BHARAT. My purpose is to learn the ideas and thoughts that have found their roots in this particular Land. Ideas and thoughts help in developing and defining our attitudes.Our attitudes are reflected in our behaviors.The behavior which springs from the seeds of ideas and thoughts that were planted in the soil could be described as the Culture of the Land. The ancient Hindu Scripture known as Rig Veda has recommended that we should keep our minds open to receive noble thoughts from all directions. I studied natural sciences and I gained much of my information from ideas and thoughts expressed in books that were published in the West.The basic idea and thought that I had received was that we need to carefully sort out the information that we gather. Assimilation of information would be possible only when facts are considered in a systematic manner. I learned about plants and animals as a part of my study called Biological Science. Living things are connected and are related to each other.This interconnectedness and the interrelatedness describes the ecological system.There is a great amount of diversity in nature.To understand living things, we need to group them and learn about them as a part of an ecological system. We can not understand existence if we look at individual creatures.The reactions between the players of a given geographical area gives a better understanding of life and existence. I would like to use this kind of scientific tool to identify ideas and thoughts.Some ideas and thoughts could be assigned to a particular land in the same manner that a natural scientist would identify some species are ‘ NATIVE ‘ and others as ‘NON-NATIVE ‘ in the description of an Ecological System.To prove that an idea is Culturally derived, we need to demonstrate that the idea is transmitted through generations.To arrive at ideas that originated in the Land of India, I would prefer to obtain a sense of direction from my great grand mother, my grand mothers and my mother. If an idea was not known to them, it may not be a part of my Cultural legacy. If they had known very little, I would deem it as my good fortune and that little is my whole inheritance. Namaskar thus represents the best of my acquired knowledge.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NAMASKAR :

The word Namaskar is usually accompanied with the action of joining hands and bringing them together in front of the body with the elbows flexed and the neck slightly bent forwards.The joining of hands symbolizes respect and the bending of the neck signifies obedience. A person with ‘stiff neck’ is generally considered to be disobedient, rude, arrogant or proud. Respect can not be shown if the person does not display an attitude of obedience.The very essence of Indian Culture can be stated as that of showing respect and obedience.This is the most important behavior that is expected of every one. It is not merely about showing respect and of obedience to the Gods that people worship. Even the Gods that people worship also implicitly observe the rule about showing respect and obedience.This social expectation rules every relationship and activity.It is the basic expectation, let it be parent-child relationship, husband-wife relationship, teacher-student relationship, employer-employee relationship, the Ruler and the subject relationship, the relationship between siblings and even between friends. Respectful conduct is expected while receiving guests, while dealing with any elderly person even though the person may not be related. In addition, several plants, trees, birds, animals, rivers, the sea and the the hills and mountains enjoy a special status and are treated with great respect.This social behavior is encouraged at all times and specially kids are trained and tutored to display this behavior. I grew up in India and my childhood is shaped by learning this behavior. Also my Culture has given the freedom of choice. I am free to worship several entities in addition to God. If I am not inclined to worship God, I may choose a living person, a plant, a tree, an animal, some element of nature or even a name and shapeless stone and I am free to worship that object with the same and similar amount of respect that one may give to God.The Gods of my Culture would not get angry or jealous if I am totally preoccupied with showing respect to an object of my choice. Most people of the Land of India get used to showing respect to a variety of objects.

Showing respect and obedience is considered as the most important learning tool to acquire humility.Through humility, the individual can subdue his ‘ego’. Ego is viewed as a great obstacle in the pursuit of self-knowledge. Self-Knowledge is the chisel that lets an individual to break the shackles of all attachments. Freedom from all attachments is described as ‘MOKSHA
‘ or LIBERATION and as ‘MUKTI’ or RELEASE.This Cultural norm of showing respect and obedience and the use of Namaskar would help us in attaining life’s goal or to realize man’s purpose in life.

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,

Ex- Number. MS-8466 Rank. Captain AMC/SSC; Number. MR-03277K Rank. Major AMC/DPC

Medical Officer, South Column, Operation Eagle,

Directorate General of Security,

Office of Inspector General Special Frontier Force,

East Block V, Level IV, R.K. Puram, New Delhi – 110 022.

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE TRADITION OF ‘AHIMSA’.

Lord Krishna-Indian Identity-Ahimsa
Defining Indian Identity-The Tradition of Ahimsa. The Tradition of Cow Worship and Cow Protection.

Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Visvarupa-Darsana Yoga, The Vision of the Universal Form, verse 55 proclaims “ADVESHAM SARVA BHUTESHU”- Being devoid of enmity towards all living entities is a must and laid the foundational principle of AHIMSA. Krishna is most popularly known as “GOVINDA”, a provider of a great sense of Joy to cattle.

Defining Indian Identity-Ahimsa-Mahatma Gandhi
Defining Indian Identity. The Tradition of Ahimsa. Mahatma Gandhi was a staunch advocate of Cow Protection and Prevention of Animal Cruelty.

Mahatma Gandhi had applied the principles of ‘AHIMSA’ to fight for India’s Freedom. 

“Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi.

Defining Indian Identity-Ahimsa-Lord Gautama Buddha
Defining Indian Identity. The Tradition of Ahimsa. Lord Gautama Buddha preached Nonviolence and Kindness towards all living things.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha lived in India, c. 563 B.C. – c. 483 B.C. was the founder of Buddhism. 

Lord Mahavira - The Tradition of Ahimsa
Defining Indian Identity. The Tradition of Ahimsa. LORD MAHAVIRA – Jainism is founded in the 6th century B.C. emphasized the importance of reverence for all living things.

LORD MAHAVIRA – Jainism is founded in the 6th century B.C. emphasized the importance of reverence for all living things. 

In the ancient land of India, the tradition and practice of ‘Ahimsa'(noninjury) have been well established. This entry is not intended to speak about the greatness of Lord Mahavira, Lord Gautama Buddha or Mahatma Gandhi. Their contributions are well-known and well-respected by all. As a beneficiary of this great tradition, I want to claim that Ahimsa helps humans as much as it promotes the well-being of animals. Animals give us a chance to learn and practice the habit of showing compassion. Animals may not be able to speak and communicate their fears, pain, and suffering. But they provide us with the skills to listen and know the emotion of fear. Animals give us the ability to discern pain when we are not in a position to speak for ourselves. I want to describe as to how a person, experienced in preventing cruelty to animals, is well equipped to rescue humans.  

CHILD ABDUCTION AND A STORY OF MIRACULOUS RESCUE:

Swami Karunyananda 1894 - 1997 - The Tradition of Ahimsa.
Swami Karunyananda ( One who delights himself or experiences a sense of Joy by showing Karuna or Compassion. His birth name was Venkata Subbiah. His birthplace was Kammavarpalayam, a tiny village in Madras or Tamil Nadu State of India. He founded and established Sri Gowthami Jeevakarunya Sangham at Rajahmundry during 1940.

Swami Karunyananda ( One who delights himself or experiences a sense of Joy by showing Karuna or Compassion. His birth name was Venkata Subbiah. His birthplace was Kammavarpalayam, a tiny village in Madras or Tamil Nadu State of India. He founded and established Sri Gowthami Jeevakarunya Sangham at Rajahmundry during 1940. 

Image result for gowthami jeevakarunya sangam, rajahmundry

I am narrating my personal story to recall an event and express my gratitude to a person whose name is not known to me but whom I remember for his timely intervention to rescue me. Otherwise, my life’s journey would have proceeded on an altogether different track. This very simple, down to earth, the unassuming person acted in a manner that had made a lasting impression on my mind and I am able to recollect the incident without any effort.

In 1951, that is 56 years ago, I lived in the town of Rajahmundry, East Godavari district of the present State of Andhra Pradesh. The town is on the left bank of river Godavari which enters the town from the north and flows towards the south. I lived in a residential neighborhood known by the name Innispet and it is located next to the river bank.

Those days, many of the streets had no given names and the houses had no designated house numbers. The part of the street where I  lived was later named as ‘KALABARGI VARI’ street. Our house was built by my grandfather (Late)Shri.R.Subbarao who had earlier worked as the District Public Prosecutor. I lived with my grandmother Smt. Lakshmi Narasamma, my parents and two elder brothers. My great-grandmother and my grandmother’s sister had also lived in this mansion. My younger brother and sister are not yet born. I may also mention that my father had chosen my personal name to be Rudra Narasimham and he had made this choice to please and honor my grandmother. For this reason, I had also enjoyed her affectionate treatment.

At the age of three and a half years, I was able to walk and move freely. My elder brothers had already joined schools. I whined about it and my father got me enrolled at King George Elementary School which was on the same street at a short distance from my home. The name King George reminds us of our colonial past. The School had a very modest structure. There was no kindergarten class and hence I had joined the grade 1 class.

A little while after the monsoon season had finished, the School was temporarily closed because of a panic created by a string of child abduction incidents. My father was in the habit of going out for an evening walk. That day, the evening was cool and pleasant and the sky was clear. I insisted that I would accompany my father during his evening walk. He tried to talk me out of it and more so out of concern about the child lifting incidents. He left for his walk leaving me at home. I slipped out of the house and I thought I would be able to follow him from behind while he walked ahead of me.

I was walking towards the north on the street and very soon lost sight of him. I kept walking, went past an intersection and at the next intersection, the street had ended. I made a right turn as I had noticed that a lot of people were walking in that direction towards the ‘Main Street’ of our town. The streets had no sidewalks and the pedestrians walk all over the street and there was not much of vehicular traffic.

Soon after I had made the right turn, I was suddenly lifted up by a stranger and was handed over to a woman who accompanied him. I instantaneously recognized that I was in some big trouble. I had started crying loudly but was not able to express my sense of fear in words. The pedestrian crowd around me paid no attention and my crying aroused no particular concern.

This terrible situation suddenly changed when a man wearing simple, white, handspun garments(‘KHADI’) came by riding on a bike. He spontaneously reacted to my crying. In my speechless voice, like any other dumb animal, I could communicate to him that I was very apprehensive and that I was gripped with a sense of fear and pain. He read my emotions correctly and he lost no time and decided to intervene.

He stopped the pair and started grilling them with questions and insisted that I was not their child. They initially argued that I was their child. My rescuer did not relent a bit and eventually, he demanded that the pair should accompany him to the Police Station to verify my identity. I remained a silent spectator and the sense of fear would not let me speak up the fact that I was not their child and that woman was not my mother.

As the heat of the argument built up, the pair decided to get away and the woman dropped me down leaving me with the man on the bike. I was at ease in the company of this unknown man and the sense of fear vanished and I stopped crying.

He placed me on the front bar of his bike. He inquired about my address. The only information that I could provide was that my house was located near a doctor’s clinic. Meantime, the evening had already turned into night. He decided to return me to my home. Before doing so, he took me to a street vendor selling sweets and snacks. He had asked me to pick an item of my choice. He paid the merchant. After I had finished eating my snack, I felt a lot more relaxed and was ready for the bike ride through the neighborhood.

After spending some time conversing with me, he began his search at the south end of the street where I lived. The street was fairly long and had several houses on either side. Those were the days when we had no television; before retiring for sleep, people were in the habit of relaxing in front of their homes after it gets dark. House after house, he was checking with people and was inquiring about any missing child.

Finally, we had arrived at the intersection where my house stood on the street corner. At that point, to recognize my house was very easy for me. I saw my grandmother and my mother standing on the front porch with a very worried expression on their faces. The search was over and I simply jumped out from the bike and literally ran into my home. I was not around when my mother and grandmother thanked him for bringing me back home safely and they were shocked to know that I was briefly got abducted. Later, my mother tried to gently admonish me and asked if I would ever go out alone all by myself. By then, I had lost the fear that gripped my mind and I was happy with my experience of meeting this man who got me back home and very boldly I answered my mother that I am not afraid of going out on my own.  

This unknown man worked for a charitable organization by the name ” Sri Gowthami Jeeva Karunya Sangham”. This organization provides animal shelters and a variety of humanitarian services. The employees patrol the streets on bikes to detect and to prevent cruelty to animals.

His belief in Ahimsa or Non-Injury, his personal experience in dealing with the pain and suffering of dumb animals had also given him the insight to recognize my plight when I was lifted up from the street. On a crowded street, while I was snatched, no one had paid attention to my cries and but for this person, the abduction would have proceeded unnoticed. I would describe that this person has the Indian Identity that I cherish and value. This Identity springs from our long-established Cultural tradition of Ahimsa. I would consider him to be a true practitioner of AHIMSA.

I have not personally known or seen Sri. Karunyananda( 1894- 1997 ) who established Sri Gowthami Jeeva Karunya Sangham in Rajahmundry during the year 1940. Karunyananda was at Swami Sivananda’s Ashram at Rishikesh in northern India. Mahatma Gandhi visited Rishikesh and addressed the group of young ‘sanyasins’ at the Ashram. He encouraged them to render humanitarian service and serve others to practice the principle of ‘Ahimsa’ which involves treating all living entities with a sense of respect and dignity.

This concept of ‘Ahimsa’ reached me through the service rendered by a man who practiced the principle of ‘Ahimsa’ and gained the ability to recognize pain and suffering even when there is no verbal communication to express that condition.   

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,  

Danavaipeta Municipal High School, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India,  

S.S.L.C.,  Class  of March   1961.

 

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE TRADITION OF HOSPITALITY

A Locator map of North East Frontier Agency in...
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The war memorial at Walong, Arunachal Pradesh
 

   

  

I had the wonderful opportunity to serve in North East Frontier Agency after Indian Army's victory in Bangladesh. I had camped at Walong visiting troops.

 

A view from a hill top near Walong, Arunachal Pradesh.

 

During 1962 Chinese aggression Indian Army had valiantly resisted the enemy's attack in a historical battle at Namti Plains, near Walong, Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Suspension bridge across Lohit River near Chigwinti, Arunachal Pradesh.

 

This is a picture taken at Headquarters 'D' Sector, prior to my visit to Chigwinti, and Walong. I am seen here along with Major Deedar Singh, the Unit Adjutant, and Captain Roop Singh an Assistant Company Commander standing in the middle.

 

This entry is dedicated to the memory of those brave men who gave their precious lives fighting the massive Chinese aggression in 1962.I experienced the traditional Indian hospitality at a forward Company location in Arunachal Pradesh(North East Frontier Agency) and my memories are fresh after a lapse of nearly 35 years and the reason is that I still feel the same passion to serve our men who fight for our country.    

In 1962 while the Chinese attacked India, I was a first year student studying for a Bachelor of Science degree(3 year degree course) at Government Giriraj Arts College, Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh. India was taken aback by this unprovoked and unexpected invasion across the Himalayan Frontier.There was a spontaneous reaction from people across our nation. Nizamabad was no exception and the Giriraj students took out a procession to condemn the enemy. I was not a student leader but I was the son of the Principal of the College. That placed me in the very first row of students who led the procession. At that time, I did not visualize myself that I would be wearing the Olive Green Indian Army Uniform. By year 1972, I had completed two years of service in Indian Army and the great moment in my life arrived when I stood before the War Memorial in WALONG. The following verses were inscribed on it:    

The sentinel hills that round us stand    

bear witness that we loved our land.    

Amidst shattered rocks and flaming pine    

We fought and died on Namti Plain.    

 O Lohit, gently by us glide    

pale stars above us softly shine    

as we sleep here in sun and rain.    

Let us keep our collective memory afresh and pay tribute to these loyal sons of our land.    

THE TRADITION OF HOSPITALITY IN INDIA :    

Hospitality is a fairly popular tradition for a variety of cultures across our globe. In India the tradition was well established a long time ago and we elevated it to a degree which may not be seen anywhere else in this world. The Vedic statement ” Athiti Devo Bhava ” is a thought that was expressed only in our land. The word ‘Athiti’ defines the guest as a person who could show up at your home without a prior notice or formal invitation and on a day and time of his own choice. Our literature is full of stories about this great tradition of hospitality and the episode described in the story of MAHA BHARATA shows the importance of preserving this tradition. Princess Draupadi was overwhelmed by the arrival of a large number of guests , while she and the Pandava brothers lost their kingdom and were living in the forest. She did not want to fail in her duty of being a good hostess. She was desperate and she met this challenge by earnestly praying to Lord Krishna. Upholding the principle of hospitality is very important to Lord Krishna and He gracefully provided the help Draupadi needed to serve her guests in accordance with our DHARMA(Right Conduct). Her adherence to the tradition of hospitality truly defines the Indian Identity.    

Most of you would have experienced some act of hospitality or the other and I want to narrate a simple act of hospitality that I had experienced at CHINGAWANTY ( or CHIGWINTI ) in Arunachal Pradesh and would take this opportunity to speak of my memorable experience at this forward Company location and describe this as our Indian Identity.    

THE TRADITION OF HOSPITALITY AT CHINGAWANTY ( CHIGWINTI ) :    

The Company Commander Major.G B Valenkar was the recipient of VIR CHAKRA award for his role in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 and at that time we had worked together in the same Unit. He had briefed me about the traditional hospitality of the men of his Company. Before the dinner was served, he told me that the men would continue to serve food till such time I would announce that I am fully satiated and that I need no further servings. Then,they would bring one more final serving to ensure that I am truly satiated and well fed. I wanted to test them and find out for myself their devotion to their hospitality tradition. After dinner was announced, I mentioned my preference for bread. Instead of ‘chapatis’, I told them that I would like to be served with ‘purees’to go with my meal. The dishes were served piping hot and the purees were made one after the other and a fresh serving would arrive just before I would finish the previous serving. The food was delicious and the mountain weather was cool and refreshing and I was young and had a healthy appetite.  I continued eating while having a pleasant conversation with Major.Valenkar and after several servings, the man stood before me respectfully and had asked me to grant him some additional time before he could bring forth the next serving. He mentioned that the cook had run out of the dough he had prepared for the evening meal. I responded saying that I really need no further servings and asked him not to bother about preparing more dough. The man submitted that it would not be fair on my part to stop him at that juncture and stated that I could only stop him from serving only at a time when he is  able to provide more servings. In Indian tradition, the guest is also expected to give his host a reasonable opportunity to fulfill his obligation and the host has also a right to derive a sense of satisfaction by observing the rules of hospitality. I had to concede and in a little while, he resumed his service. After eating to my heart’s content, I had told him that I am really satiated. He agreed to bring in the final serving and he passed in the test and he did not give up until he made sure that I am fed till such time that I am fully fed.    

I am speaking of this hearty meal to just give you a chance to taste the passion that keeps us united and we relished the opportunity to serve our land and defend its traditions.    

Annam Brahma raso Vishnu robhaktaa Devo Maheswarah    

Yevam samchintya bhumjaano,drushti doshie ranlipyatey.    

The above verse is asking us to consider both, the meal, and the guest who is partaking the meal as God.   

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,    

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,    

M.B.B.S.,  Class  of  April,  1970.   

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY – THE ‘ LIGHT BULB ‘ CONNECTION

An original Edison light bulb from 1879 from T...
Image via Wikipedia

 

Deepam jyothi ParamBrahma,Deepam sarva tamopaham      

Deepena saadhyatey sarvam,Sandhyaa Deepa Namostutey.    

Deepam Jyothi Param Brahma - Light and Ultimate Reality Indian Tradition recognizes 'Light' as the manifestation of Ultimate Reality known as Param Brahma and Indians worship all sources of light including that of a light bulb. This light bulb appears lit. What is the source of its energy?

 

Thomas Alva Edison - 'The Light Bulb' Connection to Indian Identity
Thomas Alva Edison - A Great Inventor of Modern Times. His invention has connected me to my Indian Identity.

 

Firstly,I want to give my thanks to Mr.Thomas Alva Edison,the great American inventor.He is most famous for his development of the first commercially practical incandescent lamp(1879).Perhaps his greatest contribution,however, was the development of the world’s first central-electric-light-power station.We owe him thanks for making the human existence pleasant and comfortable. I also give my thanks to Nikola Tesla who is indeed the Genius Who Lit the World.  

While speaking about Light and Electricity, I also pay my homage to Nikola Tesla, The Genius Who Lit the World.

 

 What is this ‘Light Bulb‘ connection that may define the Indian Identity?      

 I grew up in India. People visit a variety of temples to worship and to seek the presence of God.They do that at homes as well.When I was a boy, one of my early observations was that, in the evening hours as it gets dark after the sunset, when I flip the switch to turn the light on, my mother would pay respects to the light bulb. It is almost like a reflex behavior. I had asked my mother about it.The instant the light bulb comes to life, it becomes a source of light and being a source of light, it would represent God. My mother had told me that she would be reminded of God’s presence when the light bulb is switched on. My grandmother had also done the same thing.We worship the light bulb as it gives us the awareness and makes us conscious of the reality of God.       

Sri Kalahasti Temple at Sri Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, India.
All living entities are ‘CONSCIOUS’ and are aware of their existence and their living environment. Living Entities are also ‘CONSCIOUS’ of the Creator. The legend at Sri Kalahasti establishes the awareness of creatures like a spider, a snake, and an elephant and their desire to seek the LORD.

LIGHT AND CONSCIOUSNESS  :  

 

Light or JYOTI in Sanskrit language represents the ETERNAL REALITY. Jyoti is our conscious, its our awareness and it connects us to the Creator.This consciousness permeates all entities that are created and it includes all the five elements of Mother Nature. Consciousness is a function which enables a living organism to be aware of its own state of existence and to maintain that state of existence. Living organisms are aware of their need for an external source of energy to sustain their state of existence. Living organisms exist as ‘Energy Seekers’ and to exist they need connection with a ‘Energy Provider’. Consciousness is a biological function which establishes the connection between ‘Energy Seeker’ and ‘Energy Provider’. Because of this awareness, all entities would recognize and respond to their Creator, the Prime Source of Energy and the Controller of Energy. In the Old Testament Book of Exodus, Chapter 14 narrates the story of  Moses leading children of Israel on dry ground in the midst of Red Sea.      

The Old Testament Book of Exodus, Chapter 14, verse 16 :"But lift up your rod, and stretch your hand over the Sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the Sea."

 

Water one of the five elements of Nature has ‘awareness’, or ‘conscious’ of its Creator. Otherwise, how could Moses lead his people to ‘The Promised Land’ across the Sea?. It is not just humans who possess the awareness of God. In India, in the State of Andhra Pradesh, there is a beautiful town known as SRI KALA HASTI. According to legend, at this place, a spider, a snake, an elephant, and a man had worshiped Lord Shiva with an excellent sense of devotion.      

Indians light up a lamp as a ritual to worship a deity of their choice. In several parts of the world and in various cultural traditions, the use of light is prevalent and is a part of ritualistic worship. In the Land of India, light is not only used as part of a ritual but also is directly worshiped with the belief that light represents God. Light is also worshiped in a personal form known as JYOTI, the sister of SKANDA and the daughter of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati.      

Goddess Jyothi, daughter of Parvati
DEEPAM, JYOTHI, OR LIGHT REPRESENTS GOD. The personification of light is Goddess Jyothi, daughter of Parvati, the Divine Mother.

 

  Asato maa sadgamaya      

 Tamaso maa Jyotirgamaya      

 Mrutyor maa Amrutamgamaya      

Om, Shanti,Shanti,ShantiH.      

The above is a prayer to lead us towards Right Conduct,to lead us from darkness towards LIGHT(ETERNAL REALITY) and to lead us from death towards Eternal Life.      

It is easy and simple to know the Indian Identity. Flip that light switch and let the ‘Light Bulb’ connect you to the Reality. The First Book of Moses called GENESIS, Chapter 1, verses 2, and 3 describe the creation of Light : Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. If light was not created, the physical matter could have simply existed as dark matter. I describe luminosity, the quality of giving off light as an event of creation.  

ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE  : 

Man, the multicellular human organism exists as a physical, mental, social, moral, and spiritual being. Man’s existence is conditioned by the subjective reality called alternating periods of light and darkness known as day and night, and the unconditioned reality is that of Sun who shines with the same brightness all the time while man experiences Sun rise and Sunset.   

Please view the related blog post titled ‘The Creation of Day and Night – A Synchronized Existence’    

https://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/the-creation-of-day-and-night-a-synchronized-existence/       

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,      

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,      

M.B.B.S.,  Class of  April, 1970.      

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE DOCTRINE OF INDIVIDUALISM

ISKCON desire tree - Bhagavad Gita Ch 07 - 07 ...
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.
Adi Shankaracharya - Individualism
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

ManO bhudhyahamkaara Chittaani na aHam,

Na Karnam, na Jihvaa, na cha Ghraana Netram,

Na cha Vyoma Bhumir na Tejo na VaayuH,

Chidaananda RuupaH  ShivO aHam, ShivO aHam.

WHAT IS INDIVIDUALISM?

The word individual is derived from Latin, ‘Individualis’-that which is not divided-an individual. Individualism can be defined as follows:1. a belief that stresses the primary importance and worth of each person and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence, 2. the principle or practice of maintaining individuality or independence of the individual, 3. the principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action, 4. the conception that all values, rights and duties originate in individuals, 5. a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount, and 6. the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests. The doctrine of Individualism may support a view that the interests of the individual should take precedence over the interests of the State or Social Group.

Indian Culture views human existence in absolute individualistic terms and the legacy of Indian Culture could be described as ‘INDIVIDUALISM’.

THE FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUALISM:

Bhagavad Gita - Individualism
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Sankhya Yoga, verse 39, claims that the analytical knowledge derived from Samkhya philosophy gives the description of the nature of individual and individuality.

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Chapter II, of the Bhagavad Gita explains this philosophy in several verses.Verse 11 claims that those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

In verse 12, Lord Krishna states that there was never a time when He did not exist, nor Arjuna, nor all others in the battle field, and in the future there will never be a time when any of them cease to exist. Lord Krishna(The Supreme Individual Person) and also all other individuals are eternal persons.They existed as individuals in the past and they will continue to exist as individuals in the future.Their individuality existed in the past and their individuality will continue in the future without interruption. Lord Krishna clearly states that the individuality of all others will continue eternally. Hence, Indians do not accept the bodily conception of the living entities. Living entity is an individual soul and even though the body changes every moment, the soul does not undergo any change.

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Verse 13, claims that the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age; similarly, the soul also passes into another body at death. By nature the human body is ever changing, and the soul is eternal.

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Verse 24 states that this individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble. He is everlasting, unchangeable, immovable, and eternally the same.

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Finally, verse 27 establishes the foundation for ‘Individualism’ by stressing that ” For one who has taken his birth,death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain.”

THE SUPREMACY OF INDIVIDUAL:

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

The primary importance of the individual is established by the Vedic statement “AHAM BRAHMASMI” which describes the True Identity of the Individual as that of Ultimate Reality known as Brahman. The following verse supports the idea that the individual is totally identical with the perfect, Supreme Being:

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Om, purna mada, purna midam, purnaat purna mudachyate

Purnasya purna maadaya, purna meva vasishtyate.

“That”( is an indefinite term to designate the Invisible Absolute ) is Whole( Perfect Substance with Perfect Nature and Quality ); “This” ( the visible, the phenomenal embodied Soul ) is Whole, from the ( invisible ) Whole comes forth the ( visible ) Whole. Though the visible Whole is derived or deducted from that invisible Whole, yet the Whole remains unaltered and both retain their Perfect Condition called Whole. The human entity is virtually trapped in a repeated cycle of birth, death and rebirth.The ultimate purpose of human existence is to achieve ‘MOKSHA'( LIBERATION ) or MUKTI( RELEASE ) from this cycle that is referred to as ‘SAMSARA’.

THE PRACTICE OF INDIVIDUALISM:

Individualism is built upon the value attached to knowing oneself. We are encouraged to look inwards and to reflect upon the nature of ‘SELF’. Self-Knowledge is considered to be more valuable than gaining knowledge of the material world.The following prayer which is known as ‘GAYATRI MANTRA’ is one such example of motivating individuals to look inwards. Similarly, Socrates had suggested, “Know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.”

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

 Om Bhur Bhuva Suvah, Om tatsa vitur vareynyam

Bhargo Devasya dhee mahi dheeyo yo nah prachodayaat.

The individual while firmly establishing his individuality also takes complete responsibility for his actions.The individual bears the burden for his own actions.

THE JOURNEY TO ULTIMATE INDIVIDUALISM:

The individual strives for self-reliance, learns to minimize the importance of all external relationships and concentrates upon developing an intimate relationship with his personal God.The following prayer is one such example of an individual’s journey on the path of devotion( BHAKTI ).

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Tva meva maata cha pitaa tva meva, Tva meva bandhu cha sakha tva meva,

Tva meva vidya, dravinam tva meva, Tva meva sarvam mama Deva Deva.

Devotion to God practically takes over, replaces and consumes the need for any other kind of external relationship such as man’s relationship to his mother, father, relatives, friends, and educational and material status.

THE GOAL OF ABSOLUTE INDIVIDUALISM:

For the individual to win the battle of ‘SAMSARA’, to gain freedom from the cycle of birth and death, to declare victory over death and to finally reach the shore and complete the long and tiresome swim across the uncharted ocean, he is required to disentangle himself from the cobweb of relationships and set himself free. The following prayer known as ‘MAHA MRITYUN JAYA MANTRAM’ illustrates the point:

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

 Om,Triyambakam,Yajamahe sugandhim pushti vardhanam,

Urvaaru kamiva bhandha naat mrutyor muksheeya amrutaat.

Such liberated individual who had freed himself from all external relationships would be able to proclaim his True Identity and the following verse written by Shri Shankaracharya is an example of an individual who had reached the Goal Of Absolute Individualism:

Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

Na Mrityur, na Shankaa, na me Jaati bheydaH,

Pitaa naiva, me naiva Maataa, na Janma,

Na Bandhur,na Mitram, Gurur naiva  SishyaH,

Chidaananda RupaH  ShivO aHam, ShivO aHam.

Thus Indian Identity is none other than the identity of “SHIVA” whose Individualistic Identity is described as Sat+Chit+Ananda.

lord-rama-with-seetha-lakshmana-and-hanuman
Defining Indian Identity. The Doctrine of Individualism.

In the Epic Poem of Ramayana, the concept of Individualism is vividly portrayed. Rama alone was required to live in the forest. He could have just refused to do so. No force upon earth could have moved Him but He made His own choice. Lakshmana made His own choice and had accompanied His brother for a life in the forest.Rama made no decision about Seeta. He did not want that She must accompany Him into the forest. Seeta had made Her own decision. All of them express their own personal independence in unique manners.

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,

Personal Number. MS-8466  Rank. Captain  AMC/SSC, & Personal Number. MR-03277K  Rank.  Major  AMC/DPC

Medical Officer, South Column, Operation Eagle,

Directorate General Of Security,

Office of Inspector General Special Frontier Force,

East Block V, Level IV, R. K. Puram, New Delhi – 110 022.

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE WORSHIP OF FEET

“Vishno pade parama” ituudita prasamsau  

Yo “madhva utsa” iti bhogyatayaapyu paatau  

Bhuyasta dheyti tava paanitala pradhistau  

Sree Venkatesa Charanau Saranam Prapadey.  

 PADA VANDANAM,PADA NAMASKARAM,PADA ARCHANAM,PADA SEVANAM, PADA PUJA OR WORSHIP OF FEET  : 

The land of India is a very unique place on this planet where people are culturally endowed with an ardent desire to worship feet.No other society or social community has openly exhibited this behavioral trait and feet worship could be described as the hall-mark of Indian Identity.This tradition and literal practice of feet worship was well established by the time the epic poem of Ramayana was composed.In AYODHYA KANDA,we read the very moving account of Rama touching the feet of His father Dasaratha and queen mother Kaikeyi after having received the orders for his banishment to live in the forest for fourteen years.Later in ARANYA KANDA,we read about the younger brother Bharata who literally clung to the feet of Rama seeking His refuge.Eventually,Bharata carried Rama’s sandals keeping them on his head and installs them on the throne( PADUKA PATTABHISHEKAM ) and served them with great devotion for fourteen long years during Rama’s exile.  

Lord Rama and the Tradidtion of 'Feet Worship'
Ramayana gives detailed accounts of the Tradition of Feet Worship.Rama had worshipped the feet of His father, mother, stepmothers and His Gurus. Bharata, the younger brother of Rama had installed the sandals(Padukas) worn by Rama upon the throne and had worshipped them for fourteen years.

India is the land where you witness people touching the feet of living persons as an act of worship.This is a fairly common event and sometimes the remembrance of such worship lingers in your mind.I would like to narrate one such event that I had witnessed in the past and my act of remembrance may add-on to the blessings these feet worshipers may be receiving even today.  

I was traveling by train from Rajahmundry to Lucknow City to serve in the Indian Army Medical Corps. I was motivated by a desire to see the land of India with my own eyes and know its people.For the first time, I was traveling in a first class compartment and was the sole occupant. Later in the night, a lady entered the compartment and was apparently traveling alone. She was elegantly attired, looked modest and the picture of an upper middle class house wife. Early morning, when the train had halted at a station, I did not realize that she had reached her destination. She was quietly seated, was not gathering her belongings and was not even looking outside to check if some one had arrived to receive her. After a little while, I had noticed three young men, well- dressed and well-groomed, all of them little older than me, checking the list of passenger names on the door of the train compartment and entered the compartment. They did not pay any attention to my presence. One after the other, they went forward to bend and touch her feet and paid their respects. The behavior of the young men that I was keenly observing was natural, spontaneous and unpretentious. That early morning hour, they were not putting up an act in a public place to impress any one. They acted in a deliberate, purposeful and reverential manner and I am very sure that they grew up in that manner and clearly they were not inhibited in displaying their respect in front of strangers. I was a silent spectator of this scene wherein an unassuming woman suddenly got transformed into a living deity. I can assure you that you would witness such a scene only in the Land of India. Hence, I would claim that the desire to worship the feet of a living person would define Indian Identity.  

Every deity that Indians seek to worship are better pleased when we worship their feet. PRAHLADA had described ” PADA SEVANAM ” as one of the nine ways to worship VISHNU. Indians worship feet not only as a sign of humility but also as a mark of submission, total surrender to the will of God. They touch feet as a plea for protection. This is not a mere religious rite or ritual and it actually shapes the attitudes and behavior of people. The final resting place for the individual souls(‘ JEEVATMA ‘)has been described as the Lotus Feet of the Lord. This is described as ‘CHARANAM'( Feet of the Lord ) ‘SARANAM’ ( Ultimate Refuge ).  

Please also view a related blog post titled ‘Defining Indian identity – The Land of Karma’  

https://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/defining-indian-identity-the-land-of-karma/ 

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,  

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,  

M.B.B.S.,  Class of  April,  1970.  

    

DEFINING INDIAN IDENTITY-THE FEAR OF SAMSARA

 Ullanghya Sindho salilam saleelam
Ya soka vahnim Janakaatmajaayaa
 Aadaaya te nieva dadaaha Lankaam
 Namaami tam praamjali Anjaneyam.
 In one great leap of faith,Hanuman jumps over the sea with utmost ease,whereas crossing the sea evokes only a sense of fear in my heart.I derive some hope from the legend about the land bridge built by the army of monkeys.The Sea God had promised that the rocks and boulders used for the construction of the bridge will be held in place and stay afloat.He did that to please Lord Rama.During my journey across the ocean of ‘ SAMSARA ‘,I could use the name “RAMA” and remain afloat.
 
 
 

   

  

LORD RAMA - THE MEDICINE FOR A DISEASE KNOWN AS 'SAMSARA'
In the fearful journey described as 'SAMSARA', I would use Lord Rama's name as a 'Life Jacket' and also the name serves like a Beacon of Hope and provides a sense of direction while journeying across an uncharted sea.

 

 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” says the Holy Bible,in The Book of Proverbs,Chapter1,verse7.For the religious traditions that originated outside of India such as Judaism,Christianity and Islam,the fear of the Lord could be a primary motivating factor to seek worship of the Lord.On the contrary,the religious traditions that originated in the land of India,do not encourage their adherents to entertain any such fear of the Lord.In the Indian traditions,the Lord or deity that Indians choose to worship would receive them with a sign that proclaims ” BE FEARLESS “.The Lord reassures them with a sign that is popularly described as ” ABHAYA HASTA “or ” ABHAYA MUDRA “.In Indian literature,countless number of images,idols,paintings and drawings,there are invariable references to a consistent message of ” ABHAYA “and naturally Indians are less concerned with ” The fear of the Lord “.  

The cultural traditions that originated in India motivate people to seek refuge or shelter at the Feet of the Lord by evoking a sense of fear and this fear is described as the fear of ” SAMSARA “.Samsara or Bhava describes the viewpoint about the human condition and deals with the problems of human existence.It contributes to a sense of apprehension and anxiety and the attitude it generates is one of intense fear and helplessness.Samsara portrays the picture of life’s journey as a tedious,difficult and challenging swim across an unknown,uncharted and treacherous ocean.Samsara is also depicted as a serious disease entity afflicting a person’s health and is referred to as ” BHAVA ROGA “.Others view Samsara as existence in a bottomless deep pit(“AGHADHA”)or that of being trapped in a deep well from where an escape would not be easy.The fear of Samsara/Bhava,the human condition,has nothing to do with physical courage.The powerful idea of Samsara inspires a sense of fear in the hearts of even the most courageous of all people.Cultural traditions that have their roots in the other parts of this planet may not be aware of this kind of fear and hence the fear of Samsara could be viewed as a feature that defines and molds the Indian Identity.Indians chant the Lord’s name as a medicine to cure this terrible disease and they seek Lord’s protection to reach the shore and complete the journey across the ocean.There are numerous references in Indian literature and some verses could be quoted to illustrate the point.  

1.SRI RAMA MANTRAM:  

  

Human existence faces challenges from several directions. The concept of Samsara is an additional and significant challenge experienced by the people of Land of India. Lord Rama during His life's journey had faced several challenges and His name gives the comfort and protection that I seek while my journey is rough and tough.

 

 Samsara sagara bhayaapaha viswa mantram  

Sakshaanmu mukshu jana sevita siddhi mantram  

Saranga hasta mukha hasta nivasa mantram  

Kaivalya mantra manesam bhaja Rama mantram.  

This verse would banish the fear generated by the ocean like Samsara.  

2.THE PRAYER TO LORD MAHA VISHNU:  

  

"VANDE VISHNUM, BHAVA BHAYA HARAM" - Salutations to Lord Vishnu, the Destroyer of the Fear of Samsara.

 

Shantaakaaram,bhujaga sayanam,padma naabham,Suresam,  

Vishwaakaaram,gagana sadrusam,megha varnam,subhangam  

Lakshmi kaantam,kamala nayanam,yogi hrudyaana gamyam  

Vande Vishnum bhava bhaya haram,sarva lokaika natham.  

The prayer would destroy the fear of bhava/Samsara.  

3.THE PRAYER TO LORD LAKSHMI NARASIMHA SWAMY:  

  

THE UPLIFTING POWER OF LORD NARASIMHA TO CONQUER THE FEAR OF SAMSARA.

 

Samsara koopa mati ghoramaghadha mulam,  

Samprapya dukha sata sarpa samaa kulasya  

Deenasya Deva krupayaa saranaagatasya  

Laksmi Nrusimha mama deeht karaavalambam.  

The verse pleads the Lord to extend His hand and physically lift the worshiper from the horrible bottomless well of Samsara.  

4.THE PRAYER TO LORD SHIVA:  

  

LORD SHIVA, THE PROTECTOR, THE DESTROYER OF ALL FEARS.

 

Praatarnamaami girisam girijaardha deham  

Sarga sthiti pralaya kaarana maadi Devam  

Visweswaram vijita viswa manobhiraamam  

Samsaara roga haranoushadha madviteeyam.  

The verse describes Lord Shiva as the root cause of creation,sustenance and eventual destruction and the Lord’s name is the matchless medicine to wipe out the disease of Samsara.  

5.A PRAYER FROM BHAJA GOVINDAM:  

  

Guru Adi Shankaracharya describes the fear of Samsara and its resolution by seeking protection from chanting the name of GOVINDA.

 

Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam  

Punarapi jananee jatare sayanam  

Eha samsaare bahu dustaare  

Krupayaa paare paahi Murare.  

This verse seeks the compassion of Vishnu to reach the shore and to get over the problem of this difficult existence which involves repeated cycles of birth,death and rebirth.  

6.KALI KALMASHA NAASANA MAHAA MANTRAM:  

  

SHODASA NAAMA MANTRAM. The Sound Energy of these 16 names would destroy all the polluting effects of our present times.

 

Hare Rama Hare Rama-Rama Rama Hare Hare  

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna-Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.  

 
This Mantra is composed with sixteen words and hence is also known as Shodasa Naama
Mahaa Mantram.Amongst all Vedas,there is no better device than this Mantra to seek
 

  

deliverance from the trappings of Samsara.The following verse from Kali Samtaranopanishad  

proves the efficacy of this Mantra.  

Eti Shodasam Naamnam,Kali kalmasha naasanam;  

 NaaTha parataropayaH, Sarva Vedeshu drusyatey.  

Human existence is beset with countless uncertainties and difficulties which may arrive without any prior warning from different directions in an unpredictable manner.It is rational to approach life with a sense of apprehension and seek the help of the Lord who graciously held His right hand in a show of compassion and receives with a greeting of “ABHAYA” and is willing to banish the fear of Samsara.  

Please also view a related blog post titled ‘Defining Indian Identity – The Land of Karma’  

https://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/defining-indian-identity-the-land-of-karma/  

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,  

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,  

M.B.B.S.,  Class of  April,  1970.    

 

  

A PRAYER TO LORD GANESHA FOR SUCCESS WITH HUMILITY

A PRAYER TO LORD GANESHA FOR SUCCESS WITH HUMILITY

 

A Prayer to Lord Ganesh for Success with Humility.
 
 
 
 
A Prayer to Lord Ganesh for Success with Humility.
 
Lord Ganesha is unique amongst all deities. He has a human form with the head of an Asian elephant. Like the elephant which can grasp objects with its trunk, the entire realm of knowledge is in His grasp. In brilliance, He outshines Sun(Surya) and His radiant appearance can illuminate the entire universe. His body is so huge, it can accommodate the entire creation. He is worshiped to remove obstacles. He removes obstacles when we contemplate actions that promote our well-being and brings us the goodwill of others and the actions should have no evil design or purpose. Lord Ganesha removes obstacles and paves the way for accomplishment and success in human endeavors. The notion that success is the result of divine sanction rather than being entirely due to personal effort, would let us reach our goals with a sense of modesty and humility. The primary goals for man have been described as Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Dharma(right conduct)is not only a goal but also is the way. The other three goals should only be reached following the way of Dharma. To prepare for the journey on the path of Dharma, the traveler finds direction from a sense of humility. The radiant and immense personality of Ganesha endows us with humility. Having reached the goals of Artha(personal wealth, social status and position), and Kama(fulfillment of desires, progeny, and family), we inevitably encounter with the consequences of the powerful effects of time. The following verse from ‘ Bhaja Govindam’ sets us on a mission to seek the fourth goal of human existence.
 

 

A Prayer to Lord Ganesh for Success with Humility.
 

The fear that time would dissolve everything we possess would help us to overcome arrogance that may be associated with acquiring wealth, family and being youthful in age. Sooner or later, we set our sights for the fourth goal and it will not be very easy to visualize the final destination. To achieve Moksha or Mukti, to reach the shore of liberation and conclude the journey across the ocean of Samsara, a person endowed with humility would be able to say the following prayer and get the needed help. Human existence is permanently bound to the illusionary sensory experience of Sunrise and Sunset. Sun shines with all His radiance all the time. The living entities exist in an illusionary state which helps them to mark their existence by the alternating periods of light and darkness. We do not have the biological ability to detect the spin of the Earth and we have synchronized our existence with Sunrise and Sunset and this biological rhythm, known as Solar Rhythm, Circadian Rhythm, or Diurnal Rhythm, manages several of our biological functions. It is not easy to comprehend the Ultimate Reality when the existence is synchronized with an illusion. Time’s Power of Dissolution would eventually compel us to investigate and to explore the concept of Absolute and Unchanging Reality. A prayer to Lord Ganesha would endow us with humility that we need to achieve the four primary goals and gives us success in life.

 
MENTORSHIP:
 
Bammera Potana, the well-known Telugu poet while translating the epic poem of Bhagavatam from the Sanskrit language into Telugu had stated that he would narrate the story of Bhagavatam using imagination and inspiration entirely provided by Lord Rama: 
 

 

 

1 16 Palikedidi

Image result for palikedidi bhagavatam
I would like to narrate my story, describe my ideas, and share my thoughts drawing inspiration from Lord Rama and it would be my endeavor to destroy the state of conditioned existence called ‘Bhava’, and get over the fear of ‘Samsara’, a journey of the embodied soul across uncharted sea which constantly evokes a sense of fear of the unknown.
   

LORD RAMA, THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR CREATIVE WRITING. 

 

Maharishi Valmiki, Adikavi Prime Poet, had no formal education. He was totally inspired to narrate the Story of Lord Rama called RAMAYANA. Telugu Poet Bammera Potana who also had no formal education translated the epic poem known as Bhagavatam from Sanskrit into Telugu and displayed his immense powers of creativity. He not only dedicated his work to Lord Rama but also acknowledged that every word that he used was inspired by Lord Rama. For my humble endeavor, I seek the same inspiration.

anyathA sharaNaM nAsti tvameva sharaNaM mama |
tasmAd kAruNya bhAvena rakSha rakSha Janardhana||
I have no other refuge, Thou art my sole refuge,
Out of a sense of compassion, protect me, O Supreme Lord!
anyathA sharaNaM nAsti tvameva sharaNaM mama |
tasmAd kAruNya bhAvena rakSha rakSha Parameshvara ||

I have no other refuge, Thou art my sole refuge,
Out of a sense of compassion, protect me, O Supreme Lord!

 

 
Anyatha sharanam nasti, tvameva sharanam mamah

Tasmat karunya bhavena, kshamasva Parameshvara. Please also read the related blog post titled ‘A  prayer to Ganesha’ 

https://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/a-prayer-to-ganesha