Monday, April 29, 2013

Postcards from Ladakh by Ajay Jain

It won't quite suffice to say that Ajay Jain is a leading travel writer and photographer, 'coz he wears a few more hats - that of an author, a journalist, a blogger and the owner of Kunzum Cafe, located at the picturesque Hauz Khas Village, in Delhi.

So, besides having a lot of time to travel, click photographs and pen travelogues, Ajay also finds ample time to pen books, one of which is the pictorial delight: Postcards from Ladakh.

Ladakh means 'Land of high passes'. La means 'Pass' in Tibetan.

And Ladakh never ceases to fascinate, right? It can be an endless lifelong journey and a truly enriching one at that. It's an amazing land. It's a land of beautiful mountains and blue water lakes.

Postcards from Ladakh is a pictorial travelogue on Ladakh intended to give readers a flavour of what Ladakh truly is... based on Ajay's 10,000 km journey across the region (circa 2009).

10,000 km. Imagine !!

And though the blurb suggests that the book is neither a "guidebook nor encyclopedia", I would say that it is a bit of both, besides being a handy and colourful introduction to the people, life and terrain... in all its stark beauty. Ajay's writing style is unique, since he combines snippets of history, sights and sounds with culture, cuisine, lakes, wildlife, observations and anecdotes, and then tops it up with a whole bunch of high-quality colourful photographs. This he then serves with a dash of humour.

Result? I have already slow read Postcards from Ladakh twice... and will do so again, lingering over every photograph. 'Coz it kinda grows on you.

... Nourishing your romance with this beautiful and serene region, where a cup of tea, a hot meal and a room are always available for visitors. And where a bunch of happy little children spontaneously walk up to a complete stranger... wanting to share their bounty of freshly plucked peas, expecting nothing in return.

If that is not contentment, what is?!

And one comes across butter tea. Am curious to know what it is though.

'Tibet' is Sanskrit 'Tripishtaka' or 'Trivistaka', meaning the supposed land of the Devas to the north of the Himalayas. Deva does not mean god or even demi-god. These were an ancient clan of people that inhabited vast tracts of land along the Himalayan ranges. They had their own 'way of life'; they were Aryan or noble-natured and were ruled by the Devaraj Indra - very likely a title for the king or chief of the Deva people.

Yours truly first heard of Tibet when she was little... thanks to Tintin in Tibet.

This place is also the source of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers, which merge to become the Chandrabhaga and flow on as the Chenab. [Chenab was Chandrabhaga during the Vedic period.] And just as the River Ganga (Ganga Nadi) emerges from a mountain snout that is shaped like the mouth of a cow, the once-mighty River Indus/Sindhu Nad, it is said, originates from the mouth of a lion in Manasarovar, in Tibet. Thus it is also called Sengge Tsangpo or Lion River. (Sengge is nothing but a variant of Singha, meaning lion). This river is a common lifeline, and symbolically binds the people of more than one nation. Few rivers in the world flows through as stunning a landscape as the Sindhu Nad; it flows through plains, villages, hamlets and towns, as well as by valleys, gorges and peaks of countless hues before flowing into the Sindhu Sagar (which has - for some reason - come to be known as the A. Sea).

One comes across several monasteries and Gompas (possibly Ladakhi for Gufa, a place of solitude, of meditational retreats); the names are difficult to remember, tongue-twisting even. But the pictures of the smiling lamas (monks) - including the mischievous boy-lamas and nuns, accompanying the narrative - are enough to put a smile to your face.

Despite the starkness of the region, the prayers and the chanting, they rarely look austere. In fact, their antics - puckering their lips, sucking in their cheeks, widening their eyes, putting out their tongues, pulling each other's ears or indulging in friendly banter... makes it seem as though being a lama is the most un-sober thing in the world!! One still gets to meet lamas as young as four years. Young lamas have the option to leave the order, but most stay on for life. Not that they must renounce the world completely. They can visit their families, who treat them not as sons but as lamas. Lamas can listen to music, watch movies, own cell-phones and cameras; dine out - but always in their robes. It's all fine... as long as they do not obsess with worldly pleasures. What a simple solution! Literally: the Middle Way or the Middle Path. :)  The younger lamas even play cricket with a stick and pebbles! [Perhaps, a Ladakhi version of our ubiquitous gilli-danda, what?] An account of their practice session - as part of their preparations for their festival - was fun to read... 'coz most dancers possessed two left feet; they attempted to dance and twirl under the guidance of a 71-year-old lama. Their fun side is infectious, indeed.

There is the Hemis Gompa, now Ladakh's most revered and largest monastery... nestled amidst towering mountains, thus assuring its monks uninterrupted solitude. In the 13th century Buddhist sage Gyalwa Gotsangpa zeroed in on this lofty, secluded and secure location for Hemis Gompa. It is inspired by a Vulture's Nest. [Gotsangpa means vulture's nest; Got = 'vulture' and Tsang = 'nest'.]

Was Gyalwa Gotsangpa a modern-day descendent of the ancient Shakuna people who were a vulture (or perhaps a Bald Eagle)-worshipping/totem-bearing clan? Think of Jatayu and his brother Sampati - from the Ramayana. Think of Shakuntala - raised under the care of the Shakuna. The Shakuna were an offshoot of the Suparna - an eagle or falcon-worshiping clan, i.e. a clan with an eagle or falcon-totem - to which Shri Garuda belonged.

Well, what do you think?

Hemis - as seen today - was founded in the 1630s by Kushok Shambhu Nath (the first Stagsang Respa) under the patronage of King Sengye Namgyal (regarded as Ladakh's greatest king; Sengye is a variant of Singha, meaning: lion). After 1730, Stagsang's third incarnation, Gyalsey Rinpoche not only added shrines, stupas, scriptures and murals, but also founded the Hemis Festival (Hemis Tsechu) - to commemorate Guru Padmasambhava's birth. Hemis is the headquarters of Buddhism's Drupka lineage, which most Ladakhis follow. 

In the 9th century, the rise of Buddhism at the expense of the Bon religion provoked Langdarma, Tibet's Bon king, into persecuting Buddhists. Monks were disrobed, monasteries dismantled. Result? The powerful monk Palji Dorge came dancing to Lhasa dressed in a wide-brimmed black hat, high boots and brocade costume, and pierced the king's heart with an arrow. Hemis Festival opens with an act by 13 dancers dressed like Palji Dorge. Supposedly endowed with spiritual powers, they symbolically ward off any evil spirits that might hinder the festival. The dancers flourish sacred items like daggers, spears, bells, vajras (dorjes), skulls and damrus (small two-headed drums).

BTW, Shambhu Nath is one of the many names of Shiv (one of the many Shivs that people our ancient history or pracheen itihasa, that is). Skulls, damrus... the symbolism are unmistakable, is it not? But which of the Shambhu Naths is responsible for Shambhala - the fabulous Buddhist Pure Land or mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia? My guess is as good as yours. Shambhala (ruled over by Lord Maitreya) is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra + other texts that predate Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet.

Is the Buddhist myth of Shambhala an adaptation from our ancient texts such as the Mahabharata and the Puranas? Is it an extension or adaptation of "sambhavami yuge yuge"?

... Well, my guess is as good as yours.

Was Ladakh's greatest King Sengye Namgyal a modern-day descendant of the ancient 'lion people': the Kimpurusha, the Kirata or the Kinnara (as depicted by the 4th 'avatar' of the "Dasavatar" - the Nrisingha or the Narasimha Avatar)?

Was ancient Tibet, Ladakh and surrounding areas the cradle of civilization? Did the ancient denizens of these areas have some links or ties with the ancient denizens of the Sarasvati Civilization? Did they together constitute the Sindhu-Sarasvati Sabhyata? 

Well, what do you think?

Is Padmasambhava a variant of Shri Vishnu who is also known as Padmanabha?

What say you?

The longest and most interesting dance at Hemis Festival depicts the eight forms of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, who (according to the author) established Buddhism as the core religion of Tibet and Ladakh in the 8th century. Eight masked lamas denote the eight forms of Padmasambhava.

[However, it was the renowned Buddhist teacher and Pandit - Dipankar Srigyan (Atiśa Dipankara, Shrijnana) - who set out from a village called Bajrajogini (in Bikram Pur) near Dhaka to spread Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh's message - in the whole of Tibet. ... And succeeded too. Atiśa was a revered figure in his homeland as well.]

Invaders plundered many monasteries in Ladakh over the centuries. However the one at Chemde, or Chemrey stayed safe. Here's a tale worth telling.

Apparently the Mongols laid siege on Chemde in the late 17th century. But being outnumbered didn't stop the head lama from outsmarting them. From afar, he shot the Mongol king's teacup with a rifle. Stunned, the king thought Goddess Kali ruled over the Gompa and made peace with the monks. A temple to Kali stands at the base of the hill on which Chemde nestles.

Stagsang Respa founded this impressive gompa, Hemis' most important branch.

There are several interesting anecdotes including about 'flying lamas', though folks have yet to meet any lama who's actually logged some miles in the air. The author is quite a raconteur, must say. [However, the stories about 'flying lamas' probably is a much-corrupted modern-day version of ancient vimanas or aircraft. This region and its surroundings is well known for having been the landing site of ancient vimanas.]

Postcards from Ladakh contains snippets about: the statues of Padmasambhava's eight manifestations, the famed oracles of Matho, marble statues of Avalokitesvara (Tibet's patron saint of compassion); Tibetan thangka paintings - illustrating Tibetan Buddhism and art, manis - large prayer wheels that one sees all over Ladakh; mask dances and Zanskar, rock engravings of the five Dhyani Buddhas, 8 m high statue of a seated Sakyamuni; a histrionically inclined tourist guide, the Ladakh Marathon, archery contest, healthiest looking vegetables; images and statues of the Maitreya (the future Buddha) and Manjushri, murals of Prajnaparamita ('Goddess of the Perfection of Wisdom'), Je Tsongkhapa - regarded by many as the second Buddha; alaks ('precious lamas'); Tso Moriri - an unending expanse of sheer azure, a tale about a devil that drank up all of the overflowing Tso Kar; the Changpas and their livestock - sheep, pashmina wool, yak; brown-headed gulls, the adorable Himalayan Marmots, bar-headed geese (this being the only breeding site for the bar-headed geese in India); black-necked cranes, the kiang (Tibetan wild ass), Tibetan argali, blue sheep, snow leopard, Tibetan wolf and lynx, besides 150 bird species. And much more.

[Is Prajnaparamita a variant of Devi Sarasvati - the deity/devi/goddess of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge? 'Coz modern Burma (also: Burmah, now Myanmar) was actually Brahma Desha or the 'Land of Brahma'. And Shri Brahma is associated with Devi Saraswati. Brhmaloka (very likely) was the abode of the most learned person of the time, referred to as Shri Brhma (also: Brahma). Perhaps: Brhmaloka and Brahma Desha were one and the same.

As for the bar-headed geese, Hamsa = a bird. Either the white swan or the bar-headed white goose. The white swan is called Raja-Hamsa, literally: the royal swan. The white swan is a 'vaahan' or 'vehicle' of Devi Sarasvati - the goddess (or symbol) of learning, knowledge and wisdom. It is also associated with Brahma - the creator god as well as 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 Hamsa, therefore, can be a reference to the white swan and/or the bar-headed white goose. There is a raaga as well, the very auspicious Raaga Hamsadhwani. 

Buddhi = wisdom + knowledge. Buddha = an enlightened person. Prince Siddhartha, son of King Śuddhodana of the Śākya clan, is best known as: the 'Sage-Prince' Bhagavan Shri Gautam Buddh. He is also referred to as: Śākyamuni. (Muni = an enlightened person). He hailed from the Kshatriya Suryavanshi (Sun-worshiping/Sun-flag-bearing) Śākya clan, that would (very likely) come under the Puruvansh or the Puru clan.

As for manis or large prayer wheels, their name is derived from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" - chakra. Chakras are centers of Prāṇa, life force, or vital energy. Chakras correspond to vital points in the physical body i.e. major plexuses of arteries, veins and nerves. The 7 Chakras are the energy centers in our body in which energy flows through.]

There's a bit about a wizened old man picking apricots, separating fresh fruit from spoilt - perfectly still but for his slow, precise hand movements. Who was he? The author notes his fair complexion and features, and then mentions he was a Brokpa (or Drokpa), member of a pure Aryan race, and that the original Brokpas came with the invading Greek armies of Alexander, then embraced Buddhism... but retained their socio-cultural values.

[However, 'Aryan' is not a race, Aryan means noble-natured. People who adhered to a noble set of principles or followed a noble 'way of life' were known as: 'Arya' or 'Aryan'. And this has nothing to do with language or physical characteristics. The Greeks were Yavana (somewhat civilized people who also indulged in un-Arya-like activities; meaning: despite possessing a high culture, these people also indulged in barbaric behaviour like: slave-taking and plundering, they misbehaved with the womenfolk, etc). The Greeks were clearly not Aryan. Therefore, the Brokpa (or Drokpa) are very much part of this land. Are they too modern-day descendants of the ancient 'lion people': the Kimpurusha, the Kirata or the Kinnara? My guess is as good as yours.]

There's Lamayuru Gompa that stands majestically amidst green fields, mud-houses and lofty peaks. Lamayuru's actual name is Yun- Drung ('swastika') - it is a gompa named after swastika-shaped barley plants.

There is mention of two great snakes, Nanda and Taksako at Likir Gompa. [Clearly much myth has seeped in and altered the narrative. Taksako probably is a reference to the great Nag King Takshak. Maybe, this too was a hereditary title assumed by one of the 8 great Nag kings. The Nag were a clan of people that worshipped the serpents and/or displayed a serpent totem.]

Apparently, some years ago, ancient Buddhist texts engraved in gold, silver and copper... could be found lying about uncared for. They were finally catalogued in 1997. However, by then nearly a quarter of the 108 volumes of Kangyur texts were lost and 2000 pages were missing from the rest. What a loss! A significant chunk of our history and culture obliterated - forever. Apparently, gold, silver, copper, turquoise and other gems were crushed and turned into ink to write the scriptures. Amazing, indeed.

There's a massive piece of rock engraved with images from ancient daily life - hunting men on the prowl, hunted beasts on the run; images of ibex hunters with bows and arrows and animals resembling wolves and the ibex, buffalo hunts and group dances. The perplexing bit is that except for this one rock, there is no other ancient rock art for miles around. Umm, why was this particular rock chosen then? Were there others too? Have the elements and/or the mists of time claimed them?

The answer is... we don't know. We can only speculate.

There's even a sanctuary for donkeys, where abandoned donkeys that cannot work any more due to old age or disability are well cared for; they now spend their time playing pranks on visitors! There's also the enigmatic Magnetic Hill - where you can turn off your car engine and leave it in neutral... (and lo!) your car starts moving on its own at 10-20 km per hour - uphill and downhill. What happens to the law of conservation of energy (?) - asks the author.

Don't think he has received a response - yet.

And yes, one gets to read about the Druk Lotus School in Shey's Naropa Palace complex (where 50 nuns/chotoks or dharma sisters live in and manage the palace + conduct prayers. Lord Naropa was a great scholar and chancellor of Nalanda University). Established by the Drukpa lineage in 2001 this unique school teaches how to succeed in the modern world but not at the expense of one's traditions and rooting. It's a school where one learns to cherish one's environment, where teachers are still true to their calling.

We sure need more schools like this... and teachers too.

Ladakh has several cafes including Book Café that offers filter coffee, and Desert Rain that also offers sumptuous cakes and pancakes to go with it. Besides milkshakes, sandwiches, pizzas and the ubiquitous Meggi noodles (actually Maggi instant noodles). They screen films on Saturdays and offer a great collection of books to browse. No one asks you to leave. No one minds if you sit around or even sleep off for hours.

This surely is Heaven, no?

And imagine having Meggi noodles, honey butter cake and piping hot filter coffee when it is really cold.

That's three inches above Heaven, right!

Postcards from Ladakh also contain interesting tidbits like: Why not to get stranded on higher ground? Have you packed right? How to conduct yourself in a monastery? And what one can do to not disturb the ecosystem. Nothing requiring huffing and puffing though, just little things - that indeed go a long way. 'Just because someone gets away with doing something wrong shouldn't mean you do it too' - says the author. Agree.

Ajay also shares his little chitchat-cum-unexpected opportunity to interview His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa - the head of the 800-year-old Drukpa lineage. His Holiness' words are simple yet profound, and makes one to reflect. He says they (him and the author) were Karma-bound to connect.

Verdict: Grab this little book and read all you can, and while you are at it, don't forget to linger over the pics.

There are a few editing errors though, but what is a postcard or a bunch of postcards without a few errors? The author uses simple everyday language, which suits the book and the region. It feels "real". And it's something an average Indian traveler would connect with and be comfortable with.

The only thing that's missing is a glossary of terms... so that readers can understand the meaning of various Ladakhi names, terms and Buddhist references.

About Kunzum Café: In 2007, Ajay started, a travel Website, named after a pass in the Lahaul-Spiti valley in HP. It was here, at 15,000 feet, atop Kunzum La... that Ajay got his inspiration to become a travel writer.

"The site carries write-ups on destinations, photographs, book reviews, hotel listings, etc," says Jain. In fact, he publishes an online travel magazine by the same name. Besides his Web ventures, he kept honing his skills in photography. In early 2008, a series of his photographs was exhibited at the India Habitat Centre and received appreciation. This got Ajay thinking about the need for a permanent place to showcase his photographs and build a more complete brand that catered to all aspects of traveling.

And so, in October 2009, Kunzum Café was born. 

The café is a place where tourists can swap travel stories, inquire about the best places to stay, get sightseeing tips, and so on. And all this happens over a cup of coffee and cookies, for which guests can pay as much as they like!

Ladakh is calling. Julley!

Details of the book: Postcards from Ladakh/ Author: Ajay Jain/ Publisher: Kunzum, an imprint of TCP Media Pvt. Ltd./ Available at: Ajay Jain's Blog/ Binding: Paperback/ Publishing Date: 2009/ Genre: Travel/ ISBN-10: 978-81-906007-5-0/ ISBN-13: 9788190600750/ Pages: 184/ Price: INR 395, US $19.95, UK £11.95

Pictures: The book jacket cover of Postcards from Ladakh besides a few other pics (Lamas walking, moonrise over the River Indus, a pensive lama boy, Mask Dance at Hemis Festival, the adorable Himalayan marmots, the Apricot Man, ancient rock art, brown-headed gulls. Courtesy: link.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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

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. 

Thoughts on: the colour green (Hari-Hara/Prakriti); red (Lohith or Rohitah); Neelamber, Neelesh, 'dark' (Ghanshyam) and the peacock allegory; Shri Krishna and some verses from the Srimad Bhagavad Geeta. Notes on: dark blue (Shyam); vigjnana; Kara-puṣkara or lotus-palm; Mahiruha and Mahidhara; Samudra manthanam, Sagar manthan, Kshirsagar manthan and Halahala; Brahma's Days (Kalpas); Brahma's Years; Brahma's Life span; Maha Yugas and Manvantaras; Overview of the Yugas, our position as of 2008 A.D. and the beginning of the current Kali Yug. *Continuing* with our *discussions* on the "Ardhanarishvara".

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, Text 18:

|| vidya-vinaya-sampanne
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
panditah sama-darsinah ||


Vidya: true knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment; vinaya: humility; sampanne: bestowed with, blessed with; brahmane: in the Brahmana/ the Supreme Being (Parameshwar) or the Supreme Spirit (Paramaatma); gavi: in the cow; hastini: in the female elephant; suni: in the dog; ca: and; eva: certainly; sva-pake: in the dog-eater (Mlechcha); ca: respectively; panditah: a truly enlightened or wise person; sama-darsinah: do see with equal vision, consider as equal, does not differentiate.


One who is blessed with wisdom and humility (i.e. one who is truly wise, enlightened) see the divine - the Brhamana (variously known as: the Cosmic Energy, the Supreme Being - Parameshwar, the Supreme Spirit - Paramaatma, the Ultimate Being, the Ultimate Knowledge or the Ultimate Reality) - in the cow, in the female elephant, in the dog... as well as in the dog-eater (Mlechcha). The wise one sees all beings as equal.

[Note: "the dog-eater" is sometimes mistranslated as 'outcaste'. But in Dvapar (during Shri Krishna's time) there was no concept of 'caste'... and hence, there was no such thing as 'outcaste' either. "Dog-eater" refers to Mlechcha, those who are somewhat barbaric and uncultured in nature as well as intemperate in their eating habits.  

However, one must understand what Shri Krishna meant by "barbaric and uncultured". This is different from Pisacha. Shri Krishna indicates Mlechcha; he does not mean Pisacha. The ones that indulged in heinous acts including the lowest form of union, by rape (i.e. a forced union), were the most barbaric of all beings and were associated with the Pisacha. [Refer: Part-XX. In fact, Duryodhan and Dushshasana too displayed paishachic tendencies: Part-XV.] Misbehaviour against women was considered as the lowest of the lowest of paap (terrible sin) that one could ever commit. [Refer: Part-XVIII.] These Pisachas are condemned to the most despicable/lowliest place of all - which we will talk about when we discuss the Lower Planets.

As to: Why the cow is worshiped, do read: Part-XIII. For elephant and what Sri Ganesh represents, do read: Part-XI. For the truly wise or enlightened see "jeevan mukta" - Part-XVII.]

Shri Bhagavan says, there is nothing that is "evil" in this world (Bhuvan), in nature (Prakriti), in our universe (Brhmaand) or in creation (Srristi, cosmos). And this is commensurate with the wisdom of our ancients... as per the philosophies of the "Sanaatan Dharma" or "the eternal way of life" - rooted in Vedic wisdom. [Sanaatan = timeless or eternal, Dharma = path or the 'way of life'. For Sanaatan Dhama and Vedic, do read: Part-XI.]

Therefore, even when the miscreants (duskrtam/negative/aasuric forces or entities) are dealt with (by some or the other great human), it is not punishment, but an opportunity for redemption - provided to these aasuric entities by these great humans.

Both 'Sur'/'Sura' (i.e. positive forces or entities) and 'Asur'/'Asura' (negative forces or entities) are required for creation, and they are present everywhere: in the cosmos, in our universe and in this world; they are present within us (as traits), within society and within civilization as well - so as to sustain it, or rather, so as to maintain the balance. Else it will result in stagnation.

Imbalance is also part of nature. ['Vikriti' is also part of 'Prakriti'.]

It is only when the 'balancing factors' reach an alarming stage that civilization is threatened and cannot progress well. Meaning: only when there is great imbalance, there is cause for alarm. However: the complete absence of 'balancing factors' will result in civilization itself stagnating!]

The above verse contains such noble thoughts, right?! So befitting of Krishna - the Delight of Yashoda; the Pride of Dvarka; Bliss of the Bharatas; Friend and well-wisher of the Marginalized and the Disadvantaged; Friend to the Good-hearted (dharmic); Foe to the Malicious (adharmic) and perhaps most humanly, Soldier-Statesman par excellence. [For Soldier-Statesman par excellence, do read: Part: XXII.]

It is a small wonder then that the Srimad Bhagavad Geeta is a treasure-trove of immense wisdom and illumined knowledge... and is therefore, regarded as the jewel of ancient India's spiritual wisdom, one that is not constrained by time and space. And this is because of Karm Yog. One rarely finds books (including spiritual texts and discourses by various Gurus) laying emphasis on doing one's duty (i.e. upholding one's dharma) - irrespective of the outcome.

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

[To know the meaning of the above verse, do read: Part: XII. In other words, Shri Bhagavan says: remember, the journey is more important than the destination... just as our business is with the action (karm) only, never with its fruits (result, outcome). Note: The verse [Chapter 5, Text 18] is best understood in light of what we have discussed in Part: XII.]

But have we really understood the essence of Shri Bhagavan's message? What say you? And he wasn't even saying anything new, merely distilling the wisdom of our ancients (as manifested in the Sanaatan Dharma).

Our ancients left us many gifts, we - the moderns, have squandered almost all of them, thanks to our arrogance and petty-mindedness. While our forefathers revered and preserved nature (Prakriti) in all her beauty and glory, and made her essential part of their being, we - their so-called descendents have excelled in destroying nature, thanks to our relentless greed. Our ancients gave us many lessons: not to destroy, over-exploit or denude nature's gifts to mankind. We have done - for several generations now - the complete opposite. We must reflect on our actions and try to make amends - collectively. Or else, we shall all perish. Together.

Yet unfortunately: Our environment is being ravaged, our mountains are being desecrated, our hills are being razed to the ground, our trees (Mahiruhas) are being indiscriminately massacred, our birds and animals are struggling to survive, our water-bodies are being polluted beyond recognition: faecal matter, factory effluents and even nuclear waste are dumped into them; civilizations are being decimated and there is a competition to grab the resources of the world. No tactics is considered too low - in order to achieve this. Nations and people are being torn apart: in the name of 'faith', 'charity', 'history', culture, language, 'friendship', 'research', media, commerce, sports and what have you. But with what result?

"Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven," so said Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

"Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness," said Kahlil Gibran.

But then, Robi Thakur and Kahli Gibran may speak all they want about trees and Prakriti, we are super-gods, right?! :)

In Part-XXI we discussed the concept of "Ardhanarishvara" in some detail. Let's continue from where we left off.

In this syncretic form, Shiv is also representing/personifying humanity (manav-jaati), while Parvati/Devi Durga represents/personifies Prakriti (Mother Nature). 

[As per our ancients and as per the philosophies of the Sanaatan Dharma, humanity is He/masculine, while nature/Prakriti is She/feminine.] 

Humanity (manav-jaati) needs and will always need Prakriti (Mother Nature) - in order to survive. She/Nature/Prakriti does not need Him/ Humanity. 

Unfortunately, we - the modern humans - have forgotten this valuable lesson, and are bent on 'conquering'/'subjugating' nature. But will that ever happen? What will be the outcome?

Here's the answer: Without Prakriti (Nature/ personified by Parvati/Devi Durga), Shiva (humanity/manav-jaati) will become Shava (corpse). 

Hence: It is best to learn or rather re-learn the lessons and imbibe the wisdom of our ancients. [We should not follow in the footsteps of the Mlechchas who regard Prakriti as inanimate... and are bent on exploiting (read: plundering) her riches. Remember: Sanaatan Dharma did not regard Prakriti as inanimate, hence the imagery of Parvati/Devi Durga.]

Prakriti is draped in green. [Therefore, the colour green/Hari also symbolizes Parvati/Devi Durga.] Vishnu and Shiv - the other cosmic forces/energies are also known as Hari and Hara respectively, and as Hari-Hara in their syncretic form. Hari and Hara, means green and green is the colour draped by Prakriti - during the day.

Dark, dark blue (Ghanshyam, Shyam), green (Hari-Hara), red (Lohith or Rohitah) and golden yellow (peet) are the colours of the universe, cosmos and Prakriti; rather they signify creation per se. Our ancients' understood this and revered nature. They also worshiped the water-bodies: the oceans (samudra), the rivers (nad and nadi) and the lakes (sarovara). They worshipped the Mahidharas (the mighty mountains) too. Mahidhara etymologically means: the one who holds the earth or the one who sustains the earth. Our ancients respected the mountains, the mahidharas, as the sustainers of the earth. So great has been our reverence for the Himalaya that in the Sanaatan Dharma (rooted in Vedic wisdom), it is not just a chain of mountains, He is divine. Himalaya is not only the 'father' of Devi Parvati, but is also the 'father' of the sacred Ganga, Yamuna and the Sarasvati. This reverence for the mightiest mountain-range is due to the acknowledgement of the central role He has played in preserving and sustaining our glorious mother-land.

But what have we been doing?

It is important that we become aware that the mountains play the singularly most important role in sustaining the environment in the Indian sub-continent. And we must also realize the importance of regenerating the mountains in order to revive the environment. [Do also read: Part-XXI.]

[To know more about the colours red (Lohith or Rohitah), dark blue (Shyam) and golden yellow (Peet), do read: Part: XXII.]

Dark, dark blue (Ghanshyam, Shyam), green (Hari-Hara/Prakriti), golden yellow (Peet) and red (Lohith or Rohitah): the peacock best sums up these colours. And isn't it an amazingly creative way to sum up nature (Prakriti), cosmos (Srishti) and our universe (Brhmaand)? Only our ancestors... enriched as they were with vigjnana (illumined knowledge/jnana + spirituality + philosophy) could think of this.

Dark or dark-blue is all pervading, is omnipresent, is everywhere. Yet it is maya, illusion, and is a manifestation of the deep, unfathomable aspect of Prakriti (nature) and Srishti (creation/cosmos). And no matter how much we endeavour to unravel all the mysteries of nature and/or the cosmos, some aspect(s) of her will continue to elude us - as maya ('illusion'). This is (also) symbolized by dark or dark blue. 

... Hence, we must understand and accept this, and bow to Prakriti. 

[Dark-blue is Shyam; the colour of dusk - the colour Prakriti wears after sunset and during the predawn hours. Dark is Ghanshyam, the colour of Prakriti - at night. Red is the colour of Prakriti during pre-dusk and early morning. Rohit or Rohitah signifies the colour red, it means the "First rays of the sun". The early morning sunlight usually has a lot of reddish tint. Lohith also refers to the colour 'red'. It indicates the power of Devi Durga/Parvati. Lohitagni is red flame (to symbolically sacrifice/burn one's negative traits). Hari (green) is the colour that Prakriti drapes - during the day. As for dark or Ghanshyam, we'll discuss that in greater detail - in our later posts.]

Therefore, Prakriti (personified by Parvati/Devi Durga) is Shyam, Ghanshyam, Peetamber, Lohith (or Rohitah) and Hari-Hara - all together.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna is also Shyam, Ghanshyam, Peetamber... and Hari - since he is revered as the human manifestation (sagun swaroop) of Vishnu - the balancing or preserving force behind the cosmos. This is the measure of Shri Krishna's karm - nishkam karm... as well as his stature, his magnificence, his grandeur and his immeasurable greatness. Rohit is also one of Shri Vishnu's many names.

[As for the colour red/Lohith or Rohitah: Krishna is also compared to Maa Parvati/Durga/Shakti - due to the grandeur of his Karm and Nishkam Karm. Maa Shakti - the divine mother and her human 'manifestation' - Devi Durga - has 108 names, one of which is 'Padmapatrakshi' or 'eyes like the lotus leaf'. Shri Krishna too is the possessor of 108 names and is known as the 'lotus-eyed-one' (with eyes as broad as the petals of the blue lotus). 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). Hence, this flower is also called: 'Krishna Kamal'. Devi Durga, the human 'manifestation' or the sagun swaroop of the divine cosmic feminine energy (Shakti) - is worshiped with 108 'Neel-Kamal' or Blue Lotuses. Do read Part-XIII - to know more about the Blue Lotus and the Blue Water-Lily.

Human manifestation or sagun swaroop is not literal. It essentially means that through him we can "see" the balancing or preserving force/energy behind the cosmos: Vishnu. And this is because of the greatness of Krishna's Karm - that helped preserve the noble principles of Sanaatan Dharma, restored balance in society and prevented its degradation/decadence + stopped the disintegration/demise of civilization.]

BTW, though we mentioned earlier that green/Hari is one of the colours of Prakriti (nature) and is to be found everywhere, yet given our relentless 'efforts', perhaps it is not, what say? 

As for dark blue or Shyam: The dew-covered grass, the predawn hours, the mist-covered hills and the cloud-kissed forests seem dark blue. The pristine snow on the mountains, the Pārijāt, the Banyan tree (Sanskrit: Vata vrksha), the Peepal tree (Sanskrit: Ashvatha), the Tulsi (Sanskrit: Tulasī), the Aparaajita, the Palash, the Atasi, the Akund (Sanskrit: Arca), the Ashok, the Bel (Sanskrit: Bilwa), the Champak (Sanskrit: Campaka), the Yuthika (Juhī), the Kadamba vana (the Kadam forest), the Japāa kusuma (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), the Bakulah (Maulsari), the Karnikār  (karnayoh karnikāram, Kanak Champā), the Tamāl (Tamala, Himalayan Garcinia), the Mālatī, the Punnāg  (Punnaga, Sultan Champa), the Mādhavī (Atimukta, meaning: completely liberated), the Kovidār (Kovidara, Purple orchid tree), the Ketakī (Kewdā), the Pātal (Paral), the Gunjā (Gunjaa, Gunj), the Kund  (Kundo, Star jasmine), the Bandhook  (Midday Flower) - all appear to be dark blue, draped in the morning mist or in the evening twilight. Even the elegant deodars (Sanskrit: devadāru) have dark bluish-green leaves.

So, Shyam is indeed Sundar, no? And Krishna is Shyamsundar :)

Here is Robi Thakur's ode to the Shyamalo-Sundaro - Esho Shyamolo-Sundaro - based on raaga Desh and rendered by Srikanto Acharjo:

The new moon (also referred to as Neelesh) appears to be dark or deep blue in colour. 'Neelesh' means 'god of the blue sky' and refers to the moon. Dark blue skies and a glowing moon exude peace and serenity. Shri Krishna is much admired for his radiance, calm and serene disposition even in the face of adversity. He is without ego (ahamkara). [Shri Ram (also: Ramchandra) comes from the Sanskrit Rāma, which means: black, dark; Chandra means: moon (in Sanskrit). Therefore: Ramchandra means: the Rāmamoon. It can also mean: as gentle as the moon (which distills the brilliant rays of the Sun).]

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). Methinks: it perhaps refers to the entire cosmos. Mother Earth (Prithvi-Loka or Bhu-Loka) appears as 'Krishna-loka' i.e. dark or dark blue in colour - in and from space (Vyoma).

[Shri Krishna is also known as 'Hrishikesa' and 'Gopala', meaning: 'Master of the senses'; since He had not only gained mastery over his own senses (indriyas), but also over those of others. Refer: Part: XXII. Krishna is also a teacher and guide (Gopala) to his flock. Here: Go = humanity; pala = guide, master, caretaker. 

Gopala = Go + pala; Go = cow.]

Therefore, dark or dark blue is all pervading, is omnipresent, is everywhere. Yet it is maya, illusion - transient, ephemeral - and is a manifestation of the deep, unfathomable aspect of Prakriti (nature) and Srishti (creation/cosmos).

'Neel' means blue and 'amber' means sky, therefore 'Neelamber' means 'the blue sky'. 'Neelesh' means 'the Blue God', and is one of the many names of Shri Vishnu - "The Balancer" or "The Preserver." This name is a combination (sandhi) of two words: Neel (Blue) and Ish (Master, Lord or God). Ish or Esh is also a Sanskrit word for head. Hence, this name can also be interpreted as 'Blue Head,' and is a reference to Shri Vishnu as well. Shri Vishnu too is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. [See Part: XXII - to know the meaning of 'lotus-eyed'.] 'Neelesh' also means 'the destroyer of adharm'. Shri Krishna is a friend to the wise and the good-hearted (the dharmic), a foe to the wicked and the malicious (the adharmic); he fought the latter in order to restore balance in society. He is therefore considered as a manifestation (avatar) of Shri Vishnu - "The Preserver" or "The Balancer" - i.e. the preserving or the balancing force/energy behind the cosmos. [There is yet another Shri Vishnu - the one who resides in the other Vishnu-Loka, also known as Vaikunth. We will discuss Him later.]

Krishna also means 'dark' (Ghanshyam). Krishna's grayish to dusky-blue complexion is similar to the colour of a newborn's skin immediately after birth. However, the word 'Krishna' (dark, Ghanshyam) has yet another meaning, that of the all-absorbing one

During his lifetime, (it is said) he was the target of malicious attacks. Accusations, abuse and insults were hurled at him; several small-minded people orchestrated these. But Krishna never stooped low nor responded back in kind. He simply absorbed them all - with his characteristic grace, and hence is also known as Ghanshyam - the all-absorbing one.

He is a "Neelkanth" remember? He absorbs poison (negativities, profanities, etc) and brings down adharm - through his Karm Yog. He does not sow them. [Do also read: Part-XIII, Part-XX and Part: XXII

For "Neelkanth", do read Part-XVII. The palms of such great humans remain: kara-puṣkara or lotus-palm, in a manner of speaking, that is. 

While their feet remain 'lotus feet'. This is because: A lotus grows in muddy water yet remains untouched by it. Similarly: These greats 'absorbed' several poisonous/negative aspects of society - due to their Karm Yog, thereby cleansing society of various ills + bringing down the negative content. Whatever they did was for the greater good - Loka-sangraha or Loka-Kalyana.]

As for the peacock allegory: The Hindi word for peacock is Mor while the Sanskrit word is Mayur. The peacock is a regal bird, royal blue in colour, interspersed with black, peet, red and a brilliant green; it is graceful and a sight to behold. It is a bird that dances when dark clouds gather in the sky... signaling the arrival of the rains. [In short: the peacock is Manmohan. It mesmerizes. Just like Krishna, who too possessed a magnetic personality and an enchanting smile... and who played the flute, the notes of which filled others with joy. Refer: Part: XXII.]

The peacock is a bird that eats reptiles, and therefore helps humans, cattle and other animals - especially during the rainy season. [Sort of the "Neelkanth" imagery.] The peacock is a king among birds, has a regal bearing and is the vaahan (vehicle, transport) of Shri Kartik (the Devasenapati or the commander-in-chief of the Deva army and the son of Shiv-Parvati). It is also the 'vaahan' of Skandah - Shiv-Parvati's grandson. [Do read: Part: XXII - for more info on Kartik and Skandah.]

Krishna's head is bedecked with peacock feathers. He is also known as Mayur - due to his magnetic personality, handsome appearance, grace and splendor. 

Krishna, as we know, plays the flute, but:

"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."

Also: || yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham ||

And: || paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||

[Do read: Part: XXII - to know the meaning of the above verses.]

The name 'Neelesh' is also used to refer to Shiv, who too is known as "The Destroyer of Adharm." Shiva is said to have "drank"/"held in his throat" the lethal poison (Halahala) generated due to the 'churning of the ocean' (samudra-manthan) - resulting in his throat turning blue in colour. And hence, he is also known as "Neelkanth" - the blue-throated one. [Neela = blue, kantha = throat in Sanskrit.]

Apparently: his action protected mother Earth (Prithvi-loka, Bhu-Loka) and/or Nature (Prakriti) from destruction.

But all this is clearly camouflaged language. Let us make an attempt to de-code/interpret it, meaning: let us try to understand what "samudra-manthan" was all about - as best as we can, that is: 

Samudra Manthan is also known as:
  • Samudra manthanam: Manthanam is the Sanskrit equivalent of Manthan, meaning 'to churn'.
  • Sagar manthan: Sagar is another word for Samudra, both meaning an ocean or large water body.
  • Kshirsagar manthan: Kshirsagar means the ocean of milk. Kshirsagar = Kshir (milk) + Sagar (ocean). Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk. [Ksheera = milk, Sagara = ocean, Manthan = churning.]
There are three dimensions to Samurdra manthanam or Sagar manthan. And two dimensions to Kshirsagar manthan:

The three dimensions to Samurdra manthanam or Sagar manthan are as follows:
  1. The celestial 'churning' of the Andromeda (Constellation) resulting first in the 'birth' of the Andromeda Galaxy and other binary stars, then in the 'birth' of the 'Akash Ganga' (the Milky Way), followed by the 'birth' of our Solar System, besides other planets and stars, gas and dust, et al. [BTW, it could even be the 'churning' of the Orion Constellation resulting in the 'birth' of the Andromeda and so on.]

    [Remember: the cosmos is constantly increasing in size - thanks to the efforts of Shri Brahma (who we have sort of discussed... later in this post). But at the time of the first "samudra-manthan" (the 'churning' of the Andromeda Constellation or (maybe) the Orion Constellation), the cosmos was far more compact than what we find today.
This phenomenon (the 'churning' of the Andromeda Constellation or the Orion Constellation) can be referred to as Samurdra manthanam or Sagar manthan, as well as Kshirsagar manthan. In fact, this (probably) is one aspect/part of Kshirsagar manthan.]

  1. The Earth - at some point in time - was completely covered with water (due to the melting of gigantic chunks of ice perhaps). The turbulent waters: due to strong currents + underwater rocks, etc - gave the impression of a bubbly, or aerated and unstable current - due to vast amounts of air bubbles mixing in it. All of these culminated in frothy waters... that appeared white; and hence the metaphor of "milk"/Kshir.
(Hence, this too can be referred to as Samurdra manthanam or Sagar manthan, as well as Kshirsagar manthan. And it is (perhaps) the other aspect/part of Kshirsagar manthan - one that happened much later than the 'churning' of the Andromeda Constellation and/or the Orion Constellation.)

The Mount Mandarachala, also known as Mount Meru - that was used as the churning rod is NOT a reference to any mountain, but instead is an allegory for the Earth's Axis of Rotation.

  1. In literal terms, this tale (samudra-manthan or sagar-manthan) is an allegorical description of what transpires during a kundalini awakening process. Kundalini is a latent energy that lays dormant in the spine. Upon awakening, it rises in a sensation akin to a slithering reptile, up the spinal column (Meru-danda, also represented by Mount Meru in the story).
[Sanskrit: kund - "to burn"; kunda - "to coil or to spiral". Kundalini = a concentrated field of intelligent, cosmic, invisible energy absolutely vital to life; beginning in the base of the spine when a man or woman begins to evolve as wisdom is earned. Kundalini has been described as liquid fire and liquid light. The ultimate outcome of kundalini is the union of Will (sakti- kundalini), Knowledge (prana-kundalini) and Action (para- kundalini).]   

However, there can (perhaps) be a fourth dimension to samudra-manthan or sagar-manthan as well: it can also refer to the (constant) tug-of-war happening within a person - in one's mind and heart, and in society - between negative (aasuric) and positive (daaivic) thoughts, feelings, forces and entities. This samudra-manthan or sagar-manthan (in our minds and hearts and in society) gives rise to new discoveries, thoughts, philosophies, literature, culture et al

Here is Robi Thakur's Aloker Ei Jhorna Dharaye Dhuyiye Dao - sung by Kishore Kumar:

We will discuss Samudra manthanam/Sagar manthan/Kshirsagar manthan in greater detail in our next post.

In "Sri Yogavasishtam", while talking to Shri Ram, Maharshi Vashisht tells him what Yogi Bhusunda once shared with him

"I remember that once upon a time there was nothing on this earth, neither trees and plants, nor even mountains. For a period of eleven thousand years the earth was covered by lava. In those days there was neither day nor night below the polar region: for in the rest of the earth neither the sun nor the moon shone. Only one half of the polar region was illumined. Apart from the polar region the rest of the earth was covered with water. And then for a very long time the whole earth was covered with forests, except the polar region. Then there arose great mountains, but without any human inhabitants. For a period of ten thousand years the earth was covered with the corpses of the asuras who roamed the world."

[Now, whether this period of eleven thousand years and ten thousand years is based on how we calculate in modern times - my guess is as good as yours. Meaning: whether this was in Brahma Years, Deva Years or Human Years - my guess is as good as yours.]

According to our ancient sastras, the life span of Brahma is 100 Brahma years, or 72,000 kalpas, or 311.04 trillion human years (311,040,000,000,000 or 311.04E12 human years).

The Brahma is 50 Brahma years old now. [This is the Shri/Lord Brhma of the
other Brahma-Loka, also known as Satya-Loka, elsewhere in the cosmos. It is the highest planet in the Material Realm and is the abode of Lord Brahma and his consort Sarasvati. This Loka (Brahma-Loka or Satya-Loka) is the highest amongst the Urdhva-Loka or the Higher Planets. Above this (beginning at 26,200,000 yojanas above Satyaloka) is the other Vishnu-Loka, also known as Vaikunth. Vaikunth represents the eternal planets peopled by highly advanced spiritual beings. They are way advanced
in every way, including technologically and spiritually, than us.

The Brahma-Loka and Vishnu-Loka - on earth (in the current four-yug cycle) - we have discussed in Part-XXI. Our universe or Brahmaand (the one we inhabit) is different from the Lord Brahma we are talking about now. Our Brahmaand is just a part of the cosmos - within a larger Multiverse or Superverse.]

Lord Brahma is 155,521,972,949,110 human Years old now!! [He does not have four heads though, that is allegorical - to indicate his wisdom + to depict that he is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.]

1. Brahma's Days (Kalpas):

A kalpa is a single day time period in the life of Brahma, the creator god/Deva. Two kalpas are a day and a night of Brahma.

Each kalpa is composed of 1,000 maha yugas. A kalpa is thus equal to 4.32 billion human years.

The smallest cycle is called a maha yuga. A maha yuga is 4,320,000 human years. Each maha yuga is subdivided into the following four ages, whose lengths follow a ratio of 4:3:2:1.

Satya or Krita Yuga: 1,728,000 year.

Treta Yuga: 1,296,000 years.

Dvapar Yuga: 864,000 years [Bronze Age]

Kali Yuga: 432,000 years [Iron Age]

Total for Maha yuga = 4,320,000

Kalpa or day time of Brahma = 1000 X 4,320,000

That is the total Time for One Cycle or Manvantara: 4,320,000,000 years

This is called "A Day of Brahma" and is followed by a night of equal length.

One complete day and night of Brahma: 8,640,000,000 years

2. Brahma's Years:

A year of Brahma is composed of 360 day/night cycles of Brahma, or 720 kalpas, or (8.64 billion X 360) human years.

Thus 360 of these days is called "One Year of Brahma": 3,110,400,000,000 years.

3. Brahma's Life span:

The life span of Brahma is 100 Brahma years, or 72,000 kalpas, or 311.04 trillion human years.

Thus 100 of these years constitute the life of Brahma called a Maha Kalpa: 311,040,000,000,000 years or 311.04 trillion human years.

[At the end of the life-span of (each) Brahma, all the worlds (excluding Vaikunth, but including Brahmaloka/Satyaloka and the other Shiv-Loka/Kailash + the Devi-dham) are completely dissolved (maha-pralaya) - resulting in the balancing/preserving Cosmic Energy (also) known as Vishnu to go into the (metaphoric) 'big sleep' (ghum/maha-nidra). This Vishnu 'awakens' only after a NEW Shri/Lord Brahma appears/is created (after a day and a night of Brahma has elapsed or in other words: after 2 kalpas) - in order to take over the task of creation all over again. That is: to begin the cycle of creation all over again. This is the Ultimate Truth/Satya. Hence the first yug (of each maha yuga or a four-yug cycle) is also known as Sat/Satya Yug.]

4. Our position as of 2008 A.D.:

50 years of Brahma has elapsed and we are in the first Day of the 51st year. That is: We are located in the fifty-first Brahma year of the life of our Brahma. This Brahma's day, Kalpa, is named as SVHETAVARAHA Kalpa.

Within this Day, six Manvantaras have already elapsed and we are in the seventh Manvantara, named as: VAIVASVATHA Manvantara.

Within the Vaivasvatha Manavantara, 27 Mahayugas (4 Yugas together is a Mahayuga), and the Satya/Krita, Treta and Dvapara Yugas of the 28th Mahayuga have elapsed. Hence, we are in the
Kaliyuga of the 28th Mahayuga. [This would place us at about the 454th maha yuga of the 1,000 maha yugas that comprise this day of Brahma.]

This Kaliyuga began in the year 3102 B.C. in the proleptic Julian Calendar. Since 50 years of Brahma have already elapsed, we are in the second Parardha, also known as DVITHIYA Parardha.

The time elapsed since the current Brahma has taken over the task of creation can be calculated as:

432000 x 10 x 1000 x 2 = 8.64 Billion Years (1 Kalpa and Pralaya of Brahma)

8.64 x 10E9 x 30 x 12 = 3.1104 Trillion Years (1 year of Brahma)

3.1104 x 10E12 x 50 = 155.52 Trillion Years (50 years of Brahma)

Brahma's First Day of 51st year:

6 x 71 x 4320000 = 1,840,320,000 human years elapsed in first six Manvataras. 

7 X 1.728 X 10E6 = 12,096,000 for Adi Sandhi and 6 Sandhi Kalas. 

27 x 4320000 = 116,640,000 human years elapsed in first 27 Mahayugas of the current Manvantara.

1.728 x 10E6 + 1.296 x 10E6 + 864000 = 3,888,000 human years elapsed in current Mahayuga.

3102 + 2008 = 5,110 human years elapsed in current Kaliyuga (as of 2008 A.D.)

Total human years in this Brahma's day is:

1,840,320,000 +12,096,000 + 116,640,000 + 388,000 + 5,110 = 1,972,949,110

Therefore, the time elapsed since current Brahma is:

155.52 x 10E12 + 1,972,949,110 = 155,521,972,949,110 human years, or 155.521972949110 E12 human years.

Hence, Lord Brahma's current age of 50 Deva Years (~155 Trillion Human Years) + Half a Day (~1.85 Billion Years) amounts to the massive figure of 155.521852 Trillion Solar Years which would also be the Age of OUR Universe (the current Brhmaand) approximately.

The current Kali Yug began: at midnight of 18 February in 3102 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar.

This is because Bhagavan Shri Krishna departed on 18th February 3102 B.C. The period after his departure marks the beginning of Kaliyug. [Krishna's departure should not be interpreted as 'death', 'coz he is a Chiranjeevi, he has Eternal Life; this was just the end of yet another eventful chapter. That's all. We will discuss Chiranjeevi in our later posts.]

Overview of the Yugas:
  1. Satya Yug (Krita Yug): 1,728,000 Human years
  2. Treta Yug: 1,296,000 Human years
  3. Dvapar Yug: 864,000 Human years
  4. Kali Yug: 432,000 Human years. 5,115 years have passed - as of 2013 A.D., in the current mahayuga/four-yug cycle; how many of the remaining 426,885 years are left - my guess is as good as yours. How many Satya/Krita, Treta or Dvapar Yugs are yet to come - my guess is as good as yours. Maybe: it all depends on our karm. So, the length of each yugs in a maha-yuga may not be uniform or may not remain the same - over all maha yugas. Who can say? The current Kaliyug though started in 3102 B.C.; CE 2013 corresponds to the 5,115th Year of the Era of Kaliyug - in the current mahayuga/four-yug cycle. [And perhaps: the key as to when this Kali Yug should begin to wither away is in our hands - based on our actions, our Karm Yog. What say you? Kali = bud; the best era of all. And this was indeed a very good era... until the demise of the Gupta era.]
Now, do all these years in a Yug come all together? The answer is no, they do not.

Instead: They are spread over multiple maha yugas (and each of these maha yugas have a four-yug cycle viz., Satya/Sat/Krita Yug, Treta Yug, Dvapar Yug and Kali Yug).

[50 years of Brahma has already elapsed and we are in the first Day of the 51st year. That is: We are located in the fifty-first Brahma year of the life of our Brahma.]

We are currently in the Kaliyug of the 28th Yug Cycle of the 51st Day of Brahma. [Toward the end of a Kali Yug, various calamities cause a good deal of destruction. Hence, it's something we will experience at the end of the current Kali Yug too. Given the cyclical nature of each maha-yug (a four-yug cycle: Sat/Satya, Treta, Dvapar and Kali Yug) and its ratio of 4:3:2:1, it means: Kaliyug (the last yug of each maha-yug) will be the shortest. Sat/Satya Yug will follow it. This transition will be accompanied by some amount of natural calamity. But a major 'pralay' may not precede each Sat/Satya Yug. However: A major 'pralay' will take place... after the completion of a few maha-yug.]

[Our ancient texts view history as cyclical in character, with vast repeating series of ages. Each age has it's own specific qualities.

The Puranas describe a number of cycles within cycles. Discussions of these cycles can become confusing because different cycles are measured in different types of units. For example, the cycles are often described in units of Deva Years, each of which equals 360 Human Years.]

Manvantaras: Another cycle that overlaps the others is that of manvantaras. Each kalpa is reigned over/overseen by a succession of 14 Manus, and the reign of each Manu is called a manvantara. A single manvantara is approximately 71 maha yugas.

Coomaraswamy states: "Each Manvantara is followed by a Deluge, which destroys the existing continents and swallows up all living beings, except the few who are preserved for the re-peopling of the earth."

Well, maybe there is large-scale destruction, reconfiguration of the landmass even + huge tectonic shifts. Maybe... a lot of species, flora and fauna are wiped out.

The ones who survive (people, flora and fauna - according to the Cosmic Plan?) board some specially built ships (nao) and set-off for safer places or distant lands. Some probably live in specially equipped caves or in settlements below the ground. The ones who sail on the turbulent waters carry whatever provisions they can (including water and medicines) with them. However, it is very likely that they also carry large quantities of dietary supplement or Super Food such as Spirulina - powder or capsule - with them. [Do they also carry cryogenically stored seeds, DNA samples, donor eggs and sperms? Well, my guess is as good as yours.]

This journey towards the unknown... takes a lot of time and effort; several of the ones on-board these specially built ships (nao) perish... due to old age, health issues, etc. [Some probably are discarded - to ensure the longevity/sustainability of others (more healthier ones?) and to maintain peace and harmony. The bodies and carcuses are thrown into the turbulent waters.] Maybe: 2 or 3 or even 4 generations are born in these ships itself!

Finally some of these ships reach their destination (meaning: others lands, when the turbulence subsides or subsides sufficiently enough), while several others (ships/nao) perish. [Some of these nao/ships probably return to their earlier/original lands or whatever is left of them, that is - with the help of information/coordinates given to them by their elders - gathered from the first/original batch of humans on the nao/ships.]  

The ones (humans, flora and fauna) that survive... begin life/civilization afresh - in distant, unknown lands (as well as in the land of their forefathers/elders or whatever is left of it)

Life/civilization starts afresh: maybe with the help of cryogenically stored seeds, DNA samples, donor eggs and sperms + the survivors (humans, flora and fauna)

Umm, we talked about specially built ships or "nao" remember?

So, who do you think was Noah?

Also: Shiv is also known as Noukeshwar - the Lord/Master of the Boats. [Nao or boats can also mean ships, is it not?]

So, are Noah and Noukeshwar one and the same? What do you think?

Therefore, imagine the number of Shivs we have had !! No wonder there is so many stories (albeit in camouflaged language) associated with Him. And we'll get royally entangled in confusion if we think Shiv is one or two persons. Only. These Shivs are not to be confused with the Shiv of Shiv-Sati or the Shiv of Shiv-Parvati or even the (namesake) Cosmic Energy associated with 'pralay' or 'mahapralay' (cosmic turbulence) for that matter. 

[Various human Shivs are associated with 'pralay' - times of great destruction, turbulence and flood. Hope we can now figure out why. :)]

Also: Raja Yayati - we all are familiar with, but who was Jyapeti?

Brahma and Abraham?

What do you think??

Now ponder over "Manu". [We will of course discuss Manu - in greater detail - later.]

Let me end this post with Robi Thakur's - Akash Bhora Surjo Tara - rendered by Srikanto Acharjo:

Do think of or silently repeat the words "Aham Brahmasmi" [Part-XIV] while you listen to this lovely song (Robindroshongeet).

And here's a fusion of Indian classical dance and ballet to the tune of Robi Thakur's - Mor Bhabonare:

Mor Bhabonare (in a new classical flavour, raaga Gaur Malhar) by Sounok Chattopadhyay: 

Enjoy !!  

[Do remember: Robindroshongeet is best enjoyed based on one's mood and the time and type of day; such as: early mornings, lazy afternoons, quiet evenings, rainy days, on days when there is a nip in the air, and moonlit nights - when sleep is elusive. The words are layered, yet have a lyrical and ethereal quality... that needs no imagery; one automatically visualizes and feels them. But it's very difficult, nay impossible to translate into any other language.] 

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

(Do stay tuned…)

Pictures: Illustrations of: Bhagavan Shri Krishna; what we have done to Prakriti; the Ardhanarishvara; the magnificent peacock and close-up of a peacock feather; the gentle moon in a dark sky; Shri Krishna; imagery for kara-puṣkara or lotus-palm and lotus feet; the peacock imagery; Neelkanth and Halahala; milky white waters; the samudra-manthan or sagar-manthan within ourselves and in society; the Shri/Lord Brhma of the other Brahma-Loka, also known as Satya-Loka; Shri Krishna departs (on 18th February 3102 BC);  'pralay' or 'mahapralaya' at the end of each kalpa; a specially built nao or ship... laden with some humans besides all kinds of flora and fauna setting off for safer places/distant lands - to begin life/civilization afresh.