Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How About A Sin Tonight? by Novoneel Chakraborty

No, this one has nothing to do with CBSE or NCERT textbooks that inadvertently 'enlighten' impressionable school kids re: the co-relation between eating non-veg food and sex crimes. [Though I am quite mystified as to why and how the genius-shri or the genius-shris behind such an earth-shattering theory haven't received an award yet.]

No wonder our R&D and original research (for the last 4-5 decades at least) is so 'glorious'. No wonder we have opted to build a nation on assumed names, fake accents, and cheap labour. No wonder we have never made an attempt to scale up on the quality and type of work that has been and is being outsourced and accepted in the name of 'synergy', 'growth, 'development' and what-not. And no wonder we have never attempted to grasp the heart, the soul and the future of a nation that is being built as the promised land of cheap labour. We all know: a weak spine cannot support a strong mind and vice versa, right?

But let me not digress.

'How About A Sin Tonight?' is a novel by Novoneel Chakraborty; his third offering, following 'A Thing Beyond Forever' and 'That Kiss in the Rain'. [Now, though the latter sounds like a mushy rom-com starring Hugh Grant, I assure you... it is actually a paperback published by Srishti Publishers.]

After enjoying a bunch of Jeeves and Bertie novels, the fiction-loving epicurean in me was craving for a change of taste, and so, I picked up this one, believing it to be a thriller...

*Sigh* Lesson learned yet again: Never judge a book by its blurb or hype.

Book Blurb: "From the most beautiful space in their souls to the most confused portion of their hearts and the dirtiest corners of their minds ... Love. Took. Them. Everywhere."

This book talks about: "the biggest casting coup of the Hindi film industry where five top stars are signed up for a new movie. Shahraan - the living legend still lamenting the loss of his first love; Reva and Neev - newcomers allied in a common journey; Nishani - the celebrity kid who must avenge her father's untimely death; and Kaash -the actor harbouring a secret love from his past. As their intimately intertwined personal stories take centre stage, the industry's underbelly is left exposed for all to see. By the time the curtain draws to a close, the gossip-hungry media has enough fodder on its plate to last a lifetime.

Novoneel Chakraborty, bestselling author of A Thing beyond Forever and That Kiss in the Rain, unveils the grime behind the glitz, the insecurities and compromises, in a world where aspirants come prepared to strike a Faustian bargain. A beguiling tale of love, ambition, jealousy, and betrayal, How About a Sin Tonight? will leave you asking for more."

Unfortunately, I wasn't left asking for more; instead I'm now skeptical about picking up books penned by new authors - going forward.

The phrase How About A Sin Tonight? comes forth as a dialogue in the book - mouthed by Nishani. This is apparently Novoneel's first character driven novel and is set against the backdrop of the Hindi film industry.

The plot/storyline: Shahraan Ali Bakshi: a small-town boy with big dreams, the son of idealistic parents, hence the 'Ali' in his name. Secularism has been firmly weaved in. He leaves college, lands in Mumbai (or is it Bombay?), shares a room with five other boys (who work at 'Bheem's Biriyani Centre'); does odd jobs, even drives a taxi - which is his 'four-wheel acting school'; acts in bit roles, graduates to the hero's sidekick and then rises to the top - a living legend still going strong at 46.

One doesn't really have to try too hard to spot shades of a certain superstar that once-upon-a-time was the owner of dimpled cheeks and rubbery lips, but has now lost all of it to the lure of 'eternal youth' aka botox.

Mehfil: Shahraan's (supposed) true love and muse; they meet while he was still driving a taxi, but given the nature of her profession, Shahraan can only meet her again at the 'Neela Makaan' - as her 'customer'. Cancer claims her soon after Shahraan makes it big (or rather is at the threshold of realizing his dreams.) We are told: she was the secret Santa - that made all of Shahraan's starry-eyed dreams come true - thanks to her contacts; though Shahraan was made to feel it was all a result of his hard work and dedication.

Mehfil's desire for her corpse to not be buried but be burnt (on the pyre) - remains unfulfilled - despite Shahraan's promise, since he was too distraught to even attend her funeral.

There is this strange character called 'Unnisau Saitalis' (meaning: 1947). He wears a white vest, khaki half-pants and high-power spectacles; does imaginary calculations in the air, drinks (and offers tea from a hip flask and a common cup), yet manages to make ends meet - thanks to the generosity of a foreigner, who sends tangible tokens of his generosity - regularly. [This character - 'Unnisau Saitalis' - reminded me of Paresh Rawal's 'Babu Rao' aka 'Babu Bhaiya' from 'Hera Pheri'.]

Reva Gupta and Neev Dixit: strugglers both; one junks theatre for the lure of bigger and brighter arc-lights, while the other intentionally flunks interviews - since he doesn't want to 'waste his life' as an engineer. Dixit Sr. too falls in line and accepts his son's decision after a while.

Both land up in Mumbai/Bombay. Their paths cross; they struggle: rejection, broken dreams, television, shows, serials, salsa classes, pav bhaji, Bhojpuri movie; they upgrade from neighbours to flat-mates: infidelity, jealousy, hurt, fights, physical abuse, deception...

Suddenly: Reva Gupta becomes Mrs. Shahraan Ali Bakshi... and a celebrated youth icon.

Nishani Rai: the daughter of the erstwhile matinee idol (Shekhar Rai) who later becomes a paralyzed and broken man confined to a wheel-chair. One day he dies. Papa's girl that misses papa dearly (despite Shekhar never having spent time with her) swears revenge - on the man who (she thinks) has put her papa dearest on a wheel-chair (and has thus robbed him of his shine.)

To her: that man is Shahraan, though Shekhar was at the receiving end of an action scene gone horribly wrong. [Shades of who and what...? You get it, right?]

Nishani meets a chap that makes horror movies, sort of specializes in this genre; and he kind of offers her a weird role that for him is a 'woman-oriented' role. [Guess? Guess?]

A once hot-shot but now-retired producer directs Nishani to his sons (who have now taken charge of his empire) - for a role. The elder son: a soft-spoken, supposedly god-fearing family man dines with her for two whole weeks (all the while discussing everything... except the role.) But on being probed by the exasperated Nishani, gives her not-so-subtle hints - about the 'quid pro quo'. [Family ties don't matter in the glamour industry, obviously. But the father and son reminds you of whom?]

Both Nishani and Reva are willing to do anything - to get a break in Bollywood; both treat intimacy casually, though Reva still has guilt issues attached to it (despite thinking otherwise), while Nihani has none - whatsoever.

Kaash Sehgal: childhood friend of Nishani (and supposedly secretly in love with her ever since.) Overweight as a schoolboy, but (miraculously) slim-and-trim + handsome as an adult. [Sounds familiar?!]

He has no qualms about having a one-dimensional relationship with Reva - where they do not even get to see each others faces (since they meet in dark rooms!); nor does he have any hang-ups about doing the 'real thing' during a film shoot with her either (one that leaves a haphazard blotch on a freshly painted wall, and prompts Reva to ask her assistant to go fetch her an I-pill quickly.)

... The empty packet of which duly reaches Shahraan - since Reva keeps it in her handbag.

What follows: bruised ego, silence, fights and violence (with Shahraan slapping Reva instead of someone else - during a shoot.) And despite measures taken to stop the media from getting a whiff of it, the pics go viral. That in turn necessitates: a saccharine-laced photo-shoot to undo the damage, it almost succeeds, but with Neev's arrival there's more bitterness, more fights, more deception, etc, etc.

Back to Kaash: school dropout - due to a sudden downturn in the family fortunes; forced to work at seventeen, entanglements with the boss's wife, then with struggling actress Reva, co-worker, Priyanka; brief stay behind bars, issues with Sehgal Sr., patch-up with family. He is now an upcoming actor (thanks to a small-budget movie that does really well) and has also hooked up with film critic Aravali Pathak. Yet he does not kiss, and though he has been writing letters to Nishani ever since his boarding school days, he has never posted a single letter.

Why he does not kiss? Umm, he experienced his first kiss as a 16-year-old overweight kid - with Nishani - and is unable to get over it (despite indulging in multiple flings.)

Though Nishani and Kaash have lost touch with each other for years, they get to meet at a filmi party... and are cast together for a film. It's an emotional scene they have to shoot, and this makes Kaash nervous, since he does not want Nishani to ever get to know of his real feelings for her (and thereby maintain its pristineness!)  

Aravali reads all those unposted letters (except one), and is taken in by Kaash's (apparently) deep philosophical reflections... and longs for a man who can love her like that - with all his heart and soul despite being an incorrigible playboy...!  

And though Nishani suspects that Kaash loves her (which Kaash deftly denies), she finally concludes that she doesn't really hate Shahraan... but is in love with him instead (thanks to some gyaan from Kaash.) Eventually, Nishani finds solace in the lap of her father. Frankly: I am not even sure what to make of all this.

Verdict: Umm, 2011 ended and 2012 commenced - for moi - with eminently forgettable books. 2012 just might replicate that. Note to self: I better do something to not let it happen.

The production value of the book is reasonably good, though there is quite a bit of editing errors that could have and should have been pruned out.

Frankly, the story begins well; it even manages to hold the reader's interest for a while, but loses direction after the first few pages. Thereafter, it disintegrates and meanders through convoluted writing, sad grammar, clichés, dirty language and cuss words. I think the book had potential, perhaps the author intended to bring out some allegorical aspects (given that there is a mention of 'Unnisau Saitalis' or 1947) - but sadly couldn't live up to it.

My rating: I am going with a 2/5 for Novoneel's latest. Despite this being the X-Mas season, I am unable to imbibe any more of the festive spirit and be more generous. Sorry. With better editing and a tighter plot, apart from cutting out the ample dead wood, this one could have made for a good read, if not a great one.

Details of the book: How About A Sin Tonight?/ Author: Novoneel Chakraborty/ Publisher: Ebury Press, an imprint of Random House India/ Binding: Paperback/ Publishing Date: 11/05/2012/ Genre: Fiction/ ISBN-10: 978-8-184-00031-3/ ISBN-13: 9788184000313/ Pages: 283/ Price: Rs.125.

Picture: The book jacket cover of How About A Sin Tonight? Courtesy: link.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reclaiming our History | Decoding the Ramayana: The *real* Shri Ram: Whether he was a "bad husband" and what is 'Ram-Rajya'? (Part-XIII)

Author's Note: Please visit - The 'Real' Ramayana/ Ram-Rajya - to read the other parts of this series, so as to be able to fully understand or grasp the contents of this one.

What does 'Ram' and 'Krishna' mean? What does the Blue Lotus (Pushkara or Indivara) and the Blue Water-lily (Utpala) represent? Notes on: the meaning (symbolism) of a lotus flower, the significance of the blue water-lily in ancient Egyptian culture, 'divine', Bharatvarsha, the 8th 'avatar' - Balaram, Bhagiratha, Ma Ganga, the 'curse' of Raja Yayati, etc. Why is Shri Ram and Shri Krishna depicted as 'blue-hued'? Why the cow is considered sacred, worthy of worship and treated as a 'mother'? What is 'Kamadhenu'? 

Krishna (also: Krishn, Krsna; Sanskrit: Krshn) means: "that attracts" or "all-attractive". From classical texts we gather that Shri Krishna possessed a magnetic personality, crimson cheeks, 'coral lips', eyes shaped like lotus petals (Pundarikaksha, Padmalochan, puṣkara-locanaḥ, puṣkara-akṣaḥ, puṣkara-īkṣaṇah), head bedecked with peacock feathers, a fascinating face, an enchanting smile, a perfectly proportioned body and a sky-blue complexion - features largely due to the delicate blending of the martian, saturnine, venusian and lunar characteristics (i.e., due to the dominance of the influences of the Moon and Venus, with Saturn and Mars.)

Therefore, what we can conclude is this: that Shri Krishna was a figure of matchless good looks, grace and splendor that no mortal eyes have ever witnessed. He also possessed extraordinary conversational ability. [More: HERE.]

Ram (also: Ramchandra) comes from the Sanskrit Rāma, which means: black, dark; Chandra means: moon (in Sanskrit). Therefore: Ramchandra means: the Rāmamoon. Or as gentle as the moon (which distills the harsh rays of the sun. A gentle moon in a dark sky exudes peace and tranquility). Shri Ram has been described as: tall, strong, handsome and 'big-eyed' (vishalaksha). He is also known as the 'lotus-eyed one' (i.e. one whose eyes are shaped like lotus petals).

[However: we must remember that the humans of the earlier eras or yugs were nothing like the 'modern humans' of the current era (the Kali Yug) in all respects: be it in height, appearance, strength, caliber, intelligence, knowledge, 'way of life', technological know-how and so on and so forth.]

Ma Saraswati, the goddess (or the symbol) of learning, wisdom, and knowledge too is referred as: Vishalakshi or 'the big-eyed-one' and as 'Padmakshi', 'Padmalochana' and 'Kamalalochane' - all of which means: the 'lotus-eyed-one' i.e. one whose eyes are shaped like lotus petals:

|| Saraswati Mahabhaage Vidhye Kamalalochane
Vishwaroope Vishaalaakshi Vidhyaam Dehi Namostute ||

Maa Shakti or Maa Durga - the divine Mother - has 108 names, one of which is 'Padmapatrakshi' or 'eyes like the lotus leaf'.

Shri Krishna is also considered to be a 'part' of Maa Shakti or Maa Durga - and this is due to the greatness of his actions and deeds (keerti).

The dark-blue complexion of Krishna is compared to that of the Neel-kamal - the Blue Water-lily (Utpala) or the Blue Lotus (Pushkara or Indivara), and hence, this flower is also called: 'Krishna Kamal'. While devi Durga, the 'manifestation' of the divine cosmic feminine force (or energy) - is worshiped with 108 'Neel-Kamal' or Blue Lotuses, Shri Krishna too is the possessor of 108 names and is known as the 'lotus-eyed-one'.

[Divine probably comes from dev, which in turn comes from daaivic - meaning: noble traits or qualities. Therefore, divine = one who possesses noble traits or qualities. It can be animate or inanimate. Dev (an honorific for a great male) or Devi (an honorific for a great female) comes from daaivic (meaning: one who possesses noble traits or qualities.) Devi is essentially a reverential honorific for a female (entity, person, power, force or energy) - that is worthy of respect and worship. Dev is the male version.]

The Blue Lotus [Indivara] and the Blue Water-lily [Utpala] are often confused despite the distinct differences between the two plants. Many say: there is no blue lotus, no such flower exists or ever has; that it is a botanical chimera. Or that: lotuses can be white [Pundarika, Svetakamala, Pankaja], pink [Padma] or pink-going-on-red [Kokonad, Kamala, Rakta-Kamala], but they are never blue.

However, I would like to say that: perhaps a long time ago the blue lotus was indeed blue; that there indeed was a Blue Lotus - known to our ancients; maybe it was a rare flower. And maybe: due to changed circumstances, environmental factors, increase in adharm, etc..., the Blue Lotus - pushkara or indivara - went into a Nirvikalpa Samadhi to awaken to moksha.

And when this happened, our forefathers began to consider the Blue Water-lily (Utpala) instead, in its place. This blue lotus (rather: the blue water-lily; utpala) is actually a delicate shade of indigo. Perhaps a similar thing happened with the red lotus [Kokonad, Rakta-kamala] too, who can say? Meaning: the actual red lotus may have faded away from the face of the earth, and therefore, had to be replaced by the pink-going-on-red variety.

Moral of the story: I would not like to be drawn into the 'Utpala or Indivara' debate.

[Note: Nymphaea caerulea, also known as the Blue Egyptian water lily or sacred blue lily, is a water lily in the genus Nymphaea. Its original habitat may have been along the river Nile and parts nearby, apart from other locations in East Africa, besides the Indian Subcontinent, Nepal and Thailand.

The blue water lily had a much deeper significance to the Egyptian people. In the beginning were the waters of chaos ... Darkness covered the waters until ... the Primeval Water Lily rose from the abyss. Slowly the blue water lily opened its petals to reveal a young god sitting in its golden heart. A sweet perfume drifted across the waters and light streamed from the body of this Divine Child to banish universal darkness. This child was the Creator, the Sun God, the source of all life.

Now, can you see the similarities between this story and the one we know involving Brhma emerging out of Vishnu's lotus-naval? Perhaps: the river Nile got its name from the blue water lily. Nile is anglicized; it is actually 'Neel', meaning: blue. Egypt (ancient Miṣr, Mishr) fascinates me no end; and we will discuss this land in our later posts, for sure.

The ancient Egyptians saw that the blue water lily opened up each morning, seeing the intense golden center set against the blue petals, seemingly an imitation of the sky that would greet the sun, releasing sweet perfume. Each afternoon, they would close again only to open again each day. The flower was therefore firmly linked with the rising and the setting of the sun, and thus to the sun god and the story of creation. The significance of the flower was great - many columns of the Egyptian temples had water lily capitals crowning them. It has been depicted in numerous stone carvings and paintings, including the walls of the famous temple of Karnak. [Now: whether Konark and Karnak have anything to do with each other... well, what do you think?]

Nymphaea caerulea (Blue Egyptian water lily or sacred blue lily) was considered extremely significant in Egyptian mythology, since it was said to rise and fall with the sun. Consequently, due to its colourings, it was identified, in some beliefs, as having been the original container, in a similar manner to an egg, of Atum, and in similar beliefs Ra, both solar deities. As such, its properties form the origin of the lotus variant of the Ogdoad cosmogeny. It was the symbol of the Egyptian deity Nefertem (the god of the blue water lily).

As with the blue lotus in Hindu and Buddhist artwork and philosophy (essentially: 'Sanaatan Dharma'), the blue lily has a similarly prominent place in the art and culture of ancient Egypt and Near Eastern cultures. Water lilies have been identified painted on Egyptian frescoes, pillars, and vases, usually in the process of being consumed by deities or held in their hands as part of rituals. A 13th or 14th century BCE terracotta plaque from Syria depicts the goddess Ashera holding two flowers that are probably water lily blossoms. In an interesting piece of cross-cultural synchronicity, the water lily also seems to have been of importance to the ancient Maya: some Classic Period Mayan statues also feature deities holding lily buds or flowers in their mouths, although in the case of the Maya, the species of lily was probably Nymphaea ampla. But then, it may have been the elusive Neel-Kamal too, who can say?]

The Indivara (blue lotus) is a symbol of victory, victory over the senses. It signifies knowledge and wisdom. Krishna is also known as Hrishikesa - the master of the senses. He had not only gained mastery over his senses (indriyas), but also over those of others. Hence, he was 'illusionist' par excellence - the best of his era no doubt, but of all times as well. [This 'illusionist' is not to be confused with what passes for magic and magicians these days. Krishna's mastery over the senses was due to a combination of illumined knowledge or 'yog' and awesome technology. He was a 'Yogeeswara' - which is a Sanskrit word, and means: 'a great yogi who is equivalent to the Almighty (Ishvara)'. We will discuss this in greater detail in our later posts. However, 'yog' should not be confused with what passes for 'yoga' now-a-days.]

While the lotuses, white and pink, either stand on the surface or slightly above the (muddy) water, the blue lotus is completely up and out of the water. The Neel-kamal or the Blue Water-lily (Utpala) too is seen thus - completely up and out of the (muddy) water.

This is representative of somebody who carries out his or her tasks with little concern for any reward and with a full liberation from attachment. The drops of water easily sliding off its petals signify this. Shri Krishna did all that he did, not for personal glory or to earn a great name for himself. He did not annex territories or expand his kingdom nor indulged in rape, loot and plunder. Whatever he did was for the greater good of mankind and for civilization to flourish well. His was Nishkam Karm; he was doing his duty and upholding dharm (i.e. the right principles or 'way of life') without expecting anything in return.

Notes on Bharatvarsha: Raja Yayati had five sons: Yadu, Turvasu, Druhyu, Anu and Puru. 

Puru started the Puruvansh (the Puru lineage), while the eldest - Yadu - started the Yaduvansh (the Yadu or the Yadav lineage). Puru is the progenitor of the Puru clan i.e. the Bharatas (from which 'Bharat-Varsh' derives her name).

According to the scriptural description of the Brhmaand, the entire planet earth is called Bharatavarsha, but particularly the area that lies south of the Himalayas has also been referred to as Bharatavarsha (also: Bharatvarsh.) [This area has been compared to a Neel-Kamal or a Blue-Lotus (Pushkara or Indivara) - since it is surrounded by mountains or hills, much like how the center of the blue-lotus is surrounded by the petals.]

Bharatavarsha literally means the continent ('varsha'; Sanskrit) that is dedicated ('rata') to light, wisdom ('bha'). Our Vedic Rishis and Munis (i.e. learned persons) devoted themselves to the quest for the eternal truth or 'illumined knowledge' (kevala jnana) and the ultimate reality or bliss for the mind and soul i.e. satchidananda.

[Sat-cit-ānanda, pronounced as: sach-chid-ānanda, means: one who has achieved eternal bliss of self-realization. Sat describes an essence that is pure and timeless; cit is consciousness; ānanda is absolute bliss.]

Bharata means "the cherished", Bharatavarsha is the land of Bharata; it is the bhumi of the Bharatas or "cherished land" (and this is not confined to the descendents of Puru only.)

Bharatvarsha is our 'Punya-Bhoomi' or worshipable Motherland and the nation of our ancestors. It is in this land that the eternal principles of 'Sanatana Dharma' were understood and practiced for many millennium - and complied as well. The philosophy and culture that evolved in this land are very distinct and vibrant... for which we should be proud. It is this land where a clarion call was given to all humanity to pursue the goal of becoming higher spiritual beings and realize the Ultimate Truth (i.e. the Brhaman, the Paramaatma, the Parameshwar, the Ultimate Knowledge or the Ultimate Reality.)

Thus: we must work to preserve the ancient traditions of Bharatvarsha, and keep it as the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic culture.

However: this can only be achieved if we collectively work towards uprooting the still thriving toxic harvest born out of all the poisonous seeds that were diligently sown by an assortment of friendly colonizers + internal vested interest. This combination indiscriminately mutilated our ancient texts, resulting in several negative aspects creeping in, which in turn caused a huge exodus from the Vedic fold. [These vested interest have also come up with long narratives about how Radha and Krishna still dance together; Radha's date of birth - complete with the 'fact' that she was 5 or 8 years older to Krishna and was his aunt (!) and the like. They are also the ones that have thought up some fictitious narrative (that accuse Krishna of some really disgusting activities), and then ritualistically hurl the choicest of abuses at him - while pulling his 'rath'. As for Ram and Sita, we already know what has been done to them.]

All this: with what result? Ram, Sita, Krishna, et al get a bad name, while these vested interest continue to thrive and benefit. Sadly.

This great land is our 'Matri-Bhoomi' (mother-land, Bharat-mata) as well as our 'Karm-Bhoomi'. And this (i.e. our 'Matri-Bhoomi' and 'Karm-Bhoomi') encompasses the entire landmass of Bharatvarsha, not just bits and pieces of it. Just like: though we are born out of our respective mother's womb, yet the entire person is the mother... and not just her womb. Isn't it?

Now, lets move on to the lotus.

Lotus: padma, aravind, nalini and kamala – in Sanskrit.

Brhma - is the name of the cosmic force (or energy) that sustains and supports creation (and stands for Buddhi + the creative and discretionary energies in humans). The energy or force that our ancients called "Brhmaa" signifies Creation. And this force emerges out of the "lotus-naval" of the energy that our ancients called: Vishnu (Vish = poison). Here "lotus" is a metaphor. A lotus grows in muddy water, yet remains untouched by it. Brhmaa or Creation emerges out of poison (Vishnu), yet remains untouched by it. [Do read: Link.]

The meaning (symbolism) of a lotus flower ranges from divine purity and enlightenment to creation, beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. As a lotus is able to emerge from muddy waters un-spoilt and pure, it is considered to represent a wise and spiritually enlightened person; it is representative of someone who carries out their tasks with little concern for any reward or recognition, and with a full liberation from attachment (rather: negative attachment or 'moh'.) Hence: the lotus flower represents non-attachment (or lack of 'moh'.) This symbolization is based on the characteristic of the lotus flower itself. As we all know: the lotus flower grows in muddy water, but in spite of growing in dirt and filth, the flower never has even a drop of mud on it. This is regarded as the symbol of detachment.

[Incidentally: lotus leaf and stem surfaces are coated in a wax that is super-hydrophobic, meaning: it repels water and is very difficult to wet. This hydrophobic adaptation is referred to as the "lotus effect" and has inspired many products that emulate its properties, such as paints, fabrics and roof tiles.]

A lotus flower or Padma, held by the lower right hand, represents spiritual liberation (lack of 'moh'), Divine perfection, purity (sattva; sattvic or sāttvika) and the unfolding of Spiritual consciousness (Sat-cit-ānanda) - within a person.

Lotuses white, pink or blue can represent human beings of 3 types, since they either stand on the surface (white lotus), slightly above (pink lotus), or up and out of the (muddy) water (blue lotus).

Because they emerge from slime (corruption), then grow up through the purifying water to emerge into the sunlight, they are seen as metaphors for the development of a person towards enlightenment. Meaning: the flower stands for (or symbolizes) little heed towards worldly aspects like rewards, etc, and represents the desire for enlightenment and selfless service - for the sake of others (i.e. for the greater good; Loka Kalyana or Loka-sangraha.)

In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speech, and mind as while rooted in the mud, its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire ('moh', greed). It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of water easily slide off its petals.

In the Srimad Bhagavat Gita (5.10) Shri Krishna tells Arjun (and through him to all of us):

|| brahmaṇy ādhāya karmāṇi
sańgaḿ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ
lipyate na sa pāpena
padma-patram ivāmbhasā ||


brahmaṇi: the unseen and formless energies of the cosmos: the Brhaman; also known as: the Paramaatma (the Supreme Spirit) or the Parameshwar (the Supreme Being); the Ultimate Truth, the Ultimate Reality or the Ultimate Knowledge; ādhāya: by resigning or surrendering, by leaving it to; karmāṇi: the outcome of all work or actions; sańgam: attachment; tyaktvā: giving up; karoti: performs; yaḥ: who; lipyate: is affected; na: never; saḥ: he; pāpena: by negativities; padma-patram: a lotus leaf; iva: like; ambhasā: by the water.


One who performs his or her duty without attachment (i.e. without expecting rewards, recognition, etc), surrendering the results unto the Supreme Spirit or the Brhaman, is unaffected by negativities, just as the lotus leaf is untouched by water. [In short: selfless service or Nishkam Karm and 'Karm Yog'.]

In other words:

|| karmaNi eva adhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana,
maa karma phala hetuH bhuH maa sanghaH astu akarmaNi ||

- [Srimad Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 2, Verse - 47]

Meaning: "Thy business is with the action only, never with its fruits; so let not the fruits of action be thy motive, nor be thou to inaction attached." [Do read: Part-XII – for greater detail.]

[The palms of such persons remain: kara-puṣkara or lotus-palm, in a manner of speaking.]

However: Shri Ram and Shri Krishna were not blue-hued or blue-skinned - not literally, that is.

Blue is the colour of the sky and it is vast. Hence: the blue colour of Ram and Krishna is only to denote their vast wisdom and illumined knowledge, as well as the greatness of their deeds (or keerti).

Their 'sky-blue complexion' is a metaphor: to indicate that they achieved the exalted status of divinity (that of the 'Fortunate One' or the 'Blessed One'; or in other words: that of 'Bhagavan') through sheer dint of action (karm) or through the diligent pursuance of 'Karm Yog'. Both Shri Ram and Shri Krishna are regarded as 'physical manifestations' of the unseen and formless energies behind the cosmos (not only by the people of their respective eras - the Treta Yug and the Dwapar Yug, but also by those beyond these eras as well.) So, their depiction with a 'sky-blue complexion' is perhaps to essentially state that since they are divine (i.e. since they possessed noble traits or qualities; and were the 'Fortunate One', the 'Blessed One' or 'Bhagavan'), they have 'descended from the skies'.

[The unseen Cosmic Energy is variously known as: the Supreme Being (the Parameshwar), the Supreme Soul (the Parmaatmaa), the Brhaman, the Ultimate Truth, the Ultimate Knowledge or the Ultimate Reality.]

Also: Shri Ram and Shri Krishna represent or denote a different kind of humans that walked on this planet; humans that did not evolve on earth nor were conceived the natural way. Shri Ram represents an era where somewhat 'agni-born' humans appeared. That is: humans that were 'born' as a result of 'IVF therapy' (not conceived naturally, yet born out of their mothers' womb). While Shri Krishna represents an era that saw a proliferation of 'agni-born' or 'virgin-birth' humans: i.e. genetically engineered humans including 'cloned humans'.

[Do read: Part-V - to get the drift. We will discuss the 9th avatar of the 'Dasavatara' - the 'Krishna-avatar' - in greater detail in our later posts. We have already discussed the 'Narasimha-avatar', the 'Vaman-avatar' and the 'Ram-avatar' besides the 'Hayagreeva' - and it should be reasonably clear by now that the 'Dasavatara' essentially depicts the evolution of the earth as well as the evolution of various kinds of humans on it.]

However: it is possible that the actual complexion of Shri Ram and Shri Krishna were grayish to dusky blue (meaning: similar to the colour of a newborn's skin immediately after birth.)

Plus: our ancients may have considered indigo sacred, and this plant may have grown on the banks of the sacred rivers Ganga and/or Sindhu.

However: the depiction of Ram and Krishna as 'blue-skinned' may have also been inspired by the blue-lotus or the Neel-Kamal, that remains untouched by (muddy) water despite growing on it; Shri Ram and Shri Krishna exemplifies this. [Do refer to our discussions above.] Plus: they were 'absorbing the poisonous/negative aspects of society', in a manner of speaking, that is - due to their Karm Yog, thus cleansing society of various ills.

Why the cow is worshiped and some thoughts on the sacred river Ganga.

The Arya people or the ones that followed the Arya 'way of life' subscribed to a set of principles. Even during times of war, when various groups of people fought against each other, a set of guidelines was strictly adhered to. The battles were fought during specific times of the day; it was halted at sundown. They did not indulge in slave-taking or pillaging, they did not harm the children, the elderly and the sick; they did not mistreat their women nor buried their daughters alive, they did not harm the livestock, especially the cows; and they did not molest or rape women. They did not kidnap or covet other people's spouses either. This is because such acts were against the 'way of life' that prevailed in this great land. [That way: Bali (also: Vaali) as well as Duryodhan and Duhshasana crossed this red line.]

[Arya = 1. a group of people. 2. also means: noble thoughts, noble traits and a noble 'way of life' that stresses upon doing one's duty.]

Now, let us discuss as to why the cow is considered sacred, worthy of worship and treated as a 'mother'.

Among all animals, the cry of a cow sounds like 'Maa' (meaning: mother.)

A newborn baby derives its nourishment from its mother. But in case the mother is unable to nurse the baby for whatever reason, cow's milk can be (and is) an excellent surrogate. Otherwise too, a small child is fed cow's milk for its all-round nutritive qualities.

Needless to say: one does not eat the flesh of an animal whose milk one drinks as a baby, as a toddler and as a child. And hence, this gentle animal is considered and worshiped as a 'mother' instead.

The elderly and the sick (patients) benefit from cow's milk. It is also used to prepare a variety of (sattvic) food and drink: butter, ghee, sweets, cheese, curd, lassi, buttermilk and the like; and most of these are used as offering - during puja or worship.

The cow dung is used as a natural fertilizer, and as a natural disinfectant. People cleaned the surroundings of their homes with a thin solution of cow dung. Many still do, especially in the interiors.

Cow dung cakes were used as fuel - to light the earthen 'chulhas', in order to cook food. It is still used, especially in the interiors. This form of fuel is extremely Eco-friendly.

The Rg Ved (also: the Rig Ved or the Rikh Ved) talks about: "cows coming out from the mountains."

This is a clear allusion to "Gomukh". The sacred river Bhagirathi emerges from Gomukh and later branches into the Alaknanda... and then becomes the Ganga.

Gomukh is also referred to as: "Gaumukh" or "Gomukhi". The word "Gomukh" (go + mukh) or "Gaumukh" (gau + mukh) or "Gomukhi" (go + mukhi) literally means: "Mouth of a Cow". According to some sayings, earlier the snout (from where the river Bhagirathi emerges) looked exactly like the "Mouth of a Cow".

Therefore: the holy Bhagirathi River descends from a snout that is shaped like the mouth of a cow. This river becomes the Alaknanda and then the Ganga. Ma Ganga weaves her way throughout the length and breath of the country, sustaining life along the way - of people, livestock and crops. Hence: Ma Ganga is another name for life. Her waters are also well-known for their bactericidal properties. The waters of the Ganga (Ganga-jal) are used during festivals, rituals, and puja (worship); it was and is offered to a dying person - so as to prevent the micro-organisms present in his or her stomach and intestines from coming out (after he or she is no longer alive). This prevents proliferation of disease or ailments.

[Note: The sacred river Bhagirathi is named after Bhagiratha - a noble ancestor of Shri Ram; he was instrumental in bringing the waters of this river - to the whole of this land. This would have solved the irrigation and drinking water needs of the people. Bhagirath would have achieved this feat via the use of geological equipments, drilling and terrain clearing, apart from cutting of hills, rocks and forested areas, though the story associated with him is very different. But then, our ancient texts are in camouflaged language - with lots of metaphors and imagery in them, plus: we should not rule out mistranslations and later embellishments too. The supposed '60,000 sons' of Bhagirath are very likely the work-force engaged to bring out the hidden river through the mountains, and also to make way for the waters to flow smoothly - throughout the land. The king in those days was viewed as a paternal figure; hence the work-force has been described as Bhagirath's 'sons'. Bhagirathi = daughter of Bhagirath; since the latter was instrumental in getting the gupt or hidden river (that flowed beneath the ground) to emerge out of the mountains; a birth - in a manner of speaking. 

The Bhagirathi Mali is a landowning agricultural community of Western Uttar Pradesh. They claim to be the descendants of the Ikshvaku king Sagara and the Suryavansha king Bhagiratha, whom the community is named after. They adopted the Saini surname in 1941.

Karma (Karm Yog) must be done in massive quantity as Bhagiratha did, but selflessly. Brave people continue to work in spite of a mountain of difficulties or challenges, and finally achieve their goal. Bhagiratha, with his unparalleled effort to out the hidden river - that flowed beneath the ground - showed us how much effort a man (or a woman) can put in and as a result what wonders can be done. We can achieve wonders, once we put in effort and dedication. Indeed, impossible is nothing. 

However: by taking a dip in the holy waters of this sacred river, we are unlikely to rid ourselves of our misdeeds, etc. Only 'Karm Yog' can make this happen. Unfortunately: the misinterpretation of our ancient texts + the misunderstanding of the Vedic 'way of life' has only resulted in the river itself getting heavily polluted. Pouring milk and dumping flowers and ash into the waters would not bring purity to any river, or for that matter, to any human, whether departed or otherwise.

The ancient 'Bharatas' worshiped Ma Ganga (the holy and mighty river Ganga), the mighty Brahmaputra (Brhmaputr), the sacred river Sarasvati (now lost, but which existed during Shri Krishna's time), the Alaknanda (also: Alakananda, one of the two head-streams of the river Ganga), the Bhagirathi (the other head-stream of the river Ganga, it is longer than the Alaknanda and is the source stream), the Mandakini (one of the five head-streams of the river Ganga), the Kaveri (the river Cauvery), the Tapi (the river Tapati), the Narmada, the Sindhu (the river Indus), the Suvastu (now: the river Swat), the Sutlej and the Chenab (known as Śutudri or Satadru and Chandrabhaga respectively - during the Vedic period), the Ravi, the Vipasa (the river Beas), the Jhelum (Sanskrit: Vitastā), the Karnali (Ghaghara) ... among several more.

The waters of all these rivers sustain life - be that of humans, animals, birds or plants. They sustain the lives of all living beings and have been doing so since time immemorial. But what we have done - for several generations now - is the complete opposite. We must reflect on our actions and try to make amends - collectively. Or else, we shall all perish.

We must not get confused between the mortal Shiv and the formless Cosmic Energy of the same name, or stuffs related to Aakash Ganga and other celestial events. We must not confuse some or the other mountain of the Himalayan ranges - through which the river Bhagirathi emerges, or falls, in order to soften its force - for Shiv's dreadlocks (jaata). I mean: we should not take these things at face value. Nor should be mix up the 'Shiv-Sati' stories with the 'Shiv-Parvati' stories, or be confused by the numerous metaphors and imagery. The former (the 'Shiv-Sati' stories) is essentially describing some natural + celestial events, while the latter talks about the history of the 1st era (Satya/Sat/Krita Yug) or the early part of the 2nd era (Treta Yug) - albeit in camouflaged language.]

The galaxy that we inhabit - the Milky Way - is known as Aakash-Ganga or the 'Ganga of the sky' - in Sanskrit.

[Ma Ganga is also called the tripathga - because she flowed in Swarga or heaven (Aakash-Ganga), flowed on earth (as the river Ganga and her many tributaries) and flowed in the nether-world as well (i.e. beneath the ground - in her hidden form; gupt-Ganga or patalganga). Hence: the three paths or tripathga.]

The planet that we inhabit, Mother Earth has several Sanskrit names - given to her by our ancients. One of these names is: Go-loka. This is because: the earth is round in shape. But 'Go' also means: cow.

Go-loka is interpreted as Shri Krishna's abode in the spiritual sky (Goloka-Paravyoma). Mother Earth (Prithvi-Loka or Bhu-Loka) appears to be 'Krishna-loka' i.e. dark or dark-blue in colour - in and from space (Vyoma). [Shri Krishna is also known as 'Hrishikesa' or 'Gopala' meaning: 'Master of the senses'; since He not only gained mastery over his senses (indriyas), but also over those of others. Krishna is a teacher and guide (Gopala) to his flock (here: Go = humanity; pala = guide, master, care-taker.) 

[Gopala = Go + pala; Go = cow.]

Bullocks have been (and are still used) to irrigate the fields.

[The 8th 'avatar' in the 'Dasavatara' is 'Balaram', and he is depicted with a plough or 'hal' - probably indicating that after the humans resulting out of IVF therapy made their appearance (as represented by the 7th 'avatar' - the 'Ram-avatar'), there was a period of calm and prosperity (meaning: there was a lull in such experiments). Therefore: 'Balarama' depicts an era where various vocations, especially agriculture - flourished. 

Balaram is also known as 'Haldhar' or 'the one holding a plough'. He was transferred from Devaki's womb to that of Rohini's womb (via embryo transfer) and hence, is also known as: 'Sankarsana'. Balaram was married to Revati, the daughter of King Raivata; they had two sons: Nisatha and Ulmuka. Balarama is so-named because of his immense strength (bala). Farmers worship him, while the plough too is worshipped before farming commences. Balaram's symbol is the agricultural equipment - 'plough', while his younger brother (Krishna) is depicted with cows. Together they represent peace, prosperity and plenty.]

Therefore, as you can see: this gentle animal, the cow, gives back to mankind far more than it takes. And hence, it is considered sacred, worthy of worship and treated as a 'mother'.

However: the 'Kamadhenu' is not a cow per se.

The 'Kamadhenu' is a device whose output was far greater than its input. Just like a cow. And hence, the metaphor of a 'cow' has been used.

It is very likely that the 'Kamadhenu' was a multi-purpose device: one that was capable of growing 'synthetic meat' or 'in vitro meat', besides other eatables of course; apart from developing exact replicas of precious jewels - that were equal in shine and value to the original. [As can be gathered from the stories associated with Draupadi and Rishi Jamadagni.]

Incidentally: The powerful Yadavas had become arrogant and decadent... and were proving to be a menace for others. Therefore, Krishna and Balaram destroyed them, meaning: Yadu-vansh was decimated. Krishna, who rarely took up arms, made an exception in this case. 

[If one were to observe closely, Shri Krishna remains calm and rarely takes up arms - to fight; but when he does - he is a true warrior. However: on most occasions, he uses his wits, his razor sharp intelligence, his perception, his oratory, his power of conviction, his charisma, his wisdom and knowledge, his immense foresight and his understanding of people and events - in order to fructify his thoughts and plans. He chooses the time, the moment of action and the instrument of action - with precision. Thus he used the mighty Bheem - to slay Jarasandha, Duryodhan and Dushshasana. These three were indulging in adharm - and their thoughts, words and deeds were detrimental for the common people, for their own families and clans... and for society as well.]

Raja Yayati did away with primogeniture and made his youngest son (Puru) the successor. The eldest son - Yadu - was the preceptor of the Yadu lineage or the Yaduvansh. It is said that the Yadus or the Yadavas can never be rulers - as a result of Raja Yayati's 'curse'. This simply means: that Yadu (Yayati's eldest son) was disinherited/overlooked. However: in light of Balaram and Krishna's actions, most of the Yadu clans were decimated. [Though the stories associated with this event is again in camouflaged language, spiced up with much embellishments + other philosophical narratives.]

Krishna had no hesitation in surmounting loyalty to kith and kin in slaying his maternal uncle, Raja Kansh - who had become a tyrant, as well as his cousin, Shishupala - who had allied himself with the imperialistic ambitions of the nefarious Jarasandha (the mighty ruler of Magadha.) Free from greed for personal aggrandizement, Krishna refused to become the ruler of the Yadavas (the Chandravanshi or the moon-worshipping/moon-flag-bearing Yadava clan/Yadu vansh/Yaduvamsa - to which he belonged) in Mathura, and reinstated the old Ugrasena back on the throne. [Kansh had let himself to be manipulated by his friend, Jarasandha, and had first dethroned and then imprisoned his own father - the aged Ugrasena. Note: People with the surname of 'Mathur' are probably the ones whose ancestors hailed from ancient or maybe even medieval Mathura.]

The opposite of Jarasandha in his goal, Krishna would be no samrat or emperor, for his status is that of svarat, he removes the tyrants and aggrandizers of public wealth. Finally, the killing of Jarasandha restores independence to nearly a hundred chieftains/kings, besides freeing the Yadava clans and indeed the whole of this country - of the spectre of the all-constricting Magadhan python. Here is the idea of loka-sangraha ("welfare for all" or the "welfare of the world") exemplified. Shri Krishna's use of power is precisely what should have engaged Bheeshma Pitamah: protect the noble-hearted, destroy the wicked, paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam.

Years ago, a statue of Shri Krishna (carved out of stone) was discovered during the excavation at Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh.) The English version of the Sanskrit write up found on it is as below:

"When there are clouds of hypocrisy and when the sins turn into a storm, then my melodious flute takes the form of a small spear."

[We will continue our discussions in the next post...]

(Do stay tuned…)

Pictures: An illustration of: Shri Krishna, the blue water lily, and the lotus flower; Krishna with the cows, Balarama; Krishna and Balaram annihilating the Yadus.