Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

India’s Language Issue

August 11, 2019

India’s Language Issue

1.0 Introduction

It is more than 50 years now, since there was a major flare-up in South India, especially in Tami Nadu, on India’s Language Issue. The Indian constitution, adopted in 1950, envisaged that English would be phased out in favour of Hindi as the official language, over a fifteen-year period, but gave Parliament the power, by law, to provide for the continued use of English even thereafter. Come 1965, on the 15th anniversary of adoption of the constitution on 26th January 1965, a massive student agitation erupted in the south, supported by Dravidian parties, against Hindi becoming the sole official language of India. In India there are more than 22 languages and hundreds of dialect in use within the highly diverse population of India.

2.0 The History of Language Issue in India

For the benefit of the current generation of youngsters and students, the language issue as it has been existing in India is summarized in the following ten paragraphs.

1. The Language issue was discussed in the constituent assembly very extensively even before the independence in 1947. Most of the North Indians felt, as the official language of the. Union, English should be replaced by an Indian language. As some form of Hindi was being spoken and understood by about 30 % of Indian population mainly concentrated in North India known as Hindi belt, Hindi was proposed as the language to replace English. There was an attempt to integrate all these various dialects of Hindi, into a single language known as Hindustani even including Urdu. Devanagari was the preferred script. Our first PM Sri. Jawahar Lal Nehru was the only voice among the senior leaders, who spoke for other major languages in India. Even days before the adoption of the Constitution he was advocating at least two Indian Languages – Hindustani in devanagari script integrating all Hindi like languages of the north including Marathi/Odiya etc, and another South Indian language with a common script integrating all the south Indian languages like Tamil/Telugu etc. He was vigorously advocating retention of English for normal use though not as official language.
2. Finally after several acrimonious debates, the Constitution had settled the issue thru’ Articles 343 to 351, by adopting two official languages for the united country – Hindi written in Devanagari Script and English. However the Constituent Assembly was equally divided on this issue and the resolution to make Hindi as an official language of India was adopted only by the casting vote of the Chairman Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The resolution also stated that international from of Indian Numerals should be used as official numeral system. The President of India was given a time of fifteen years, from adopting the Constitution, to phase out English in favour of Hindi (a right yet to be exercised).
3. Throughout these 15-years period from 1950 (when constitution was adopted on 26th January) to 1965, there were many small language conflicts, taking place especially in the South and in Bengal. In a Congress session in 1958 held in Pragjyotispur, anticipating unrest in non-Hindi areas, Mr. Nehru had suggested the use of all the 14 major languages of India, “as official Languages; inconvenient, but not impossible”, in his own words. Speaking on a resolution by Frank Anthony, the nominated Anglo Indian MP, to include English in the 8th Schedule of Indian languages, Mr. Nehru agreed to consider it as the mother tongue of Anglo Indian community.
4. Eventually,  when Hindi was to be declared as a sole official language of the Union, the Republic Day, 26th Jan 1965, was turned into an occasion for a flare-up of anger in non-Hindi south, especially Tamil Nadu. The anti-Hindi agitation turned violent fueled by some arrogant statements of North Indian Hindi zealots, including the members of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier version of the present BJP.
5. Before it could turn into an excuse for a demand for secession of the country, the former great Statesman and Politician Sri C Subramanian of Tamil Nadu, ‘discovered’ what was later known as “Nehru’s Assurance”. Though Mr. Nehru died in 1964, he had given an assurance earlier in the Parliament that English will continue as one of India’s Official Languages along with Hindi as along as Non-Hindi people want it. This assurance was introduced as a law and was passed by Parliament in 1967 among protests from Hindi Nationalists. But so far, this law is holding despite Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan concept of the ruling Party since 2014, The Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP).
6. This law did not however save the congress party from major electoral defeat in 1967, suffered at the hands of the Dravidian party DMK, supported by Rajaji’s Swatantra Party. Rajaji, as a former freedom fighter, compatriot of Mahatma Gandhi and first Governor General of free India was always very frank in his views to retain English. From here, started the decay of Congress party in South and particularly in Tamil Nadu. They could never comeback to power for the next 50 years and more, up to now. In the meantime, Tamil politics turned gradually from anti-Hindi to anti-Hindu and the national politics from pro-Hindi to pro-Hindu.
7. With the great expansion of print, audio and visual media, the regional languages improved a lot and some of them even better than Hindi, especially in digital and social media. Now there is no fear of their language becoming extinct due to use of Hindi as the sole official language of India. However, the emphasis has shifted to political power of several language groups in the Indian Parliament, Judiciary and bureaucracy. Official Hindi is no more Hindustani, a compound language, as contemplated earlier. Under the present BJP rule it is becoming more and more Sanskritised. Sanskrit (or Samskrit) is an ancient Indian language used mainly for philosophical, scientific and religious purposes, even now, by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is not a mother tongue of any particular group or region of India and hence, it is not widely spoken. But most of Indian intelligentsia have great respect for this language as it holds the key for many ancient Indian concepts of Art, Science and Culture. However it does not impress the so-called Dravidian-Tamils and also the people of non-Indian religions. They still view this language as a sign of domination of Brahmins who are considered the highest caste among Hindu caste hierarchy.
8. Under BJP rule from 2014, Hindi is becoming more prominent in Indian administration. Prime Minister Modi and most of his cabinet colleagues speak in Parliament and outside only In Hindi, though at least some of them are equally fluent In English. In this era of technology, language studies have become out of vogue. English is a major victim of this neglect. Though English is still spoken by many educated people, the standard and quality of English has certainly gone down. Same is true with many of the regional languages.
9. When it comes to the field of education, local language is justifiably given importance both as a first language of study and also as a medium of instruction in schools. English was also being taught from secondary level schooling. Need for a 3rd language was felt when Hindi was to be made as a sole official language of the Union. However with English continuing as the additional (and in fact more frequently used) official language, the need and enthusiasm for learning Hindi has reduced. Hindi is now being learnt voluntarily by many non-Hindi people, not with a purpose of using it for official purposes, more for communicating with North Indians for business and professional purposes. For this there is no need to teach Hindi in schools. One can always learn the language to a manageable level in any other language institute or private tutors within about a month or two. No, now the dominant north Indians politicians want to impose Hindi as a compulsory language in schools, which many in south resist.
10. Presently even the so-called English TV Channels telecast their programmes increasingly frequently in Hindi. Hence  most of the regional TV watchers  have stopped watching English Channels. As of now, there are no all India channels which give national view of happenings in the country. Everybody watches their own regional channels even for news. This has lead to undue regionalism in the national politics.

3.0 Possible Solutions

Any solution to this issue can be found only in the context of history, as briefed earlier. I am afraid the present brand of young politicians, journalists and TV-anchors below the age of 65 may not be aware of the above happenings as they would be just too young to comprehend at the time it happened in 1950s and 60s. They are apt to misguide the youngsters and students on this issue. Now with above history in view, let us try and evolve a few solutions:

a) The first thing to do is to obtain a re-assurance from Central BJP Government that English will continue to be an official language along with Hindi as long a non-Hindi people want it, as per Nehru’s Assurance which was enacted as a law in 1967.
b) As Mr. Nehru had suggested in 1958, we may as well have all the 14 state languages as the official languages at the Centre also. As Nehru said in 1958, “it may be inconvenient, but not impossible”. But with the present day (2019) advancement in digital and computer technology and software, it is “much less inconvenient and definitely much more possible”. If the nation accepts this as our final goal, then we can prepare moving towards the same in the next 15 years. Say, on 26th Jan 2020, we may add a south Indian language as additional official language at the Centre. The most spoken South Indian Language, I believe, is Telugu. It is also spoken in two states Andhra and Telengana. The numerals should remain the same as International Indian Numerals. After experiencing this for a year or two, perhaps we may add Marathi the most spoken language after Telugu. Subsequently we may add other languages. English will continue to be always one of the official languages of the Union.
c) Another equitable solution could be as below:
Hindi and English will continue to be official languages, as of now.
One of the south Indian languages will be an additional official for one year at a time.
One of the non-Hindi north Indian languages will also be treated as above.
This means in addition to Hindi and English, two more languages will also function as Union official language for period of one year, giving way to another two languages of the same type during the next year, by rotation.
d) This pre-supposes the development of all major regional languages to the level being an official language at the centre. Of course Language education at schools needs encouragement. It is preferable that all youngsters learn a 3rd Indian language either in Schools or privately. There should be no compulsion of any particular language as 3rd Language; it could be Hindi, Sanskrit or Tamil.
e) Central Govt and respective State Govt.s should concentrate more on development of other Indian languages listed in the 8th schedule as National Languages. Like Hindi Prachar Sabha, they can set up other language prachar sabhas throughout the country, with active help from the respective State Govts. For example, Tamil Prachar sabhas can be established with the help of Tamil Nadu Govt, in all major cities of other states especially hindi-speaking states. At the same time they may host other language prachar sabhas in cities in Tamil Nadu. These sabhas may offer their teachers on deputation to schools for teaching the language as a 3rd language option in Schools. The choice of Link Language(s) should be left to natural evolution. It could be Hindi and/or English or who knows, it may even be Sanskrit. It could even be a different language in different areas of economic, social, cultural activities.

4.0 Conclusion:

All the non Hindi-States which already have one of the highly developed National Languages as their official language can join together and put the above proposals to the Central Govt after due discussion between themselves. They may even present a modified proposal based on the above principles. It is preferable it is done in the present regime itself, when Sri. Modi is our PM. We cannot be sure what kind of Govt and leadership we will have after 2024. I sincerely believe this will promote national integration through better understanding of diverse languages and cultures, at the same time not affecting such a beautiful diversity. This will achieve real Unity in Diversity.

Long live India and all its diverse cultures and Languages

____________________________________________________________________________________

Ref:
i) The details of the student movement from 1965 to 1970 is recorded in a document. The following is the link for same: https://www.scribd.com/lists/2334276

ii) Agrawala, S.K. “JAWAHARLAL NEHRU AND THE LANGUAGE PROBLEM.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute, vol. 19, no. 1, 1977, pp. 44–67. JstoJSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43950462.

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Comments on (Draft) National Education Policy

July 31, 2019

Comments on

(Draft) National Education Policy

 Part I

School Education

1.0 General Comments

1.1 As nicely indicated by you, children who stayed behind in early schooling tend to stay behind throughout the school years. This is the reason for some children enrolled in primary schools do not even attain foundational literacy and numeracy. So we need a quality Early Child Care and Education, (ECCE).

In addition, we should also have special out-of-hours classes for these children till at least they pass out of 2nd standard.

1.2 Proposed 5+3+3+4 pattern of education would be very suitable to attend to these deficiencies within the time they finish the first five years of education up to 2nd standard.

We may also encourage a few NGOs and charity organisation to do this ‘vidya daan’ to the affected communities. There should be more stress to do such daans instead of only food. For example the Charities should concentrate also on donating age-appropriate educational toys like rattlers, musical toys, and zoological toys. They may also try and conduct charity crèches for these children for at least 2 hours a day. Slowly this could be increased to more hours with voluntary help from a few parents of these children.  This should be done for a minimum of 3 months before they can join pre-KG play-school (at the age of 3), for 6 months before they can join KG class (at the age of 4) and 9 months before they can join Preparatory class (at the age of 5). Such preparation should be made compulsory for children wishing to join 1st standard at the age of 6 or later.

1.3 This early childcare and education (ECCE) should include more localized arts, songs, stories, rhymes, puzzles, and games so that they will be able to relate to the same. Once students fall behind on foundational literacy and numeracy, they tend to maintain flat learning curves for years perpetually unable to catch up. Finally they lose interest and drop out.

You should have proper teachers who could recognize these deficiencies early enough and correct them in time by taking extra care and if required extra classes. Nutrition is also an important part for these children. So both a nutritious breakfast and a midday meal should be served to them. You could also ensure parents of participation in these programs. You should also have a program to re-integrate these droppers back into the school.

1.4 All students start their schooling with home language. They can start with English language at 6th standard, which is important. The third language of the so-called 3-language formula may be introduced at the 9th standard. Here in the student should have an option as below:

Hindi – if he wants to learn a commonly spoken language of the North

Mother tongue – If it is not same as local language

Sanskrit or Tamil – or any other classical language

Any other Indian Language –

Herein the student has to decide on one language to be continued in 11th and 12th standard, where he will study the language deeper to a literary level. The High School should have facility to teach at least five languages as below:

Local Language, English, Hindi, Sanskrit or Any classical language,

Any other Indian Language.

1.5 Schools in south should make Hindi available for study and similarly Schools in Hindi States should make at least one Southern language available for study.

1.6 It was nice to see the amount of stress given on quality, in training of teachers. The teachers’ education program and those colleges should be totally rehashed. The teachers posted in rural areas should be given additional incentives such as home near the school and other basic facilities that may not be available in the village Your idea of four year professional B.Ed course is very good.

1.7 It was nice to see the draft to include a whole chapter on obtaining social justice and equality through inclusive education. You have considered the following groups under this category: Rural girls, SC/ST pupils, tribal areas, children with special needs, transgender children.

As these are under-represented and deprived people, the education system should have much smaller classes, with special teachers for them.

2.0 My major comments are as below:

2.1 I am giving below an extract from my blog of 2018, (https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/indian-educational-reforms/). This is about the Literacy/Numeracy level of education. I assume that in the suggested scheme of 5+3+3+4 system, by the time the student progresses to 8th standard he would have achieved the required level of Literacy/Numeracy. Based on this assumption I have edited slightly my write-up as below:

“Literacy/Numeracy: Literacy generally means ‘knowing to read and write’. But in the present days, it includes literacy with numbers and computer literacy etc. One should have basic knowledge to deal with one’s own life as independently as possible. Everyone should have basic knowledge of banking, finance, health and hygiene and such other things. The syllabus should also include, Citizenship Training, Physical Training (Yoga), and Moral Science. This basic education should be achieved within the elementary/secondary (8th Std) school stage. This education is a must for all and we should aim for 100% ‘literacy’ in this sense and not just reading and writing. Hence such elementary/secondary schooling should be mass-based and should be very in-expensive, if not totally free, with incentives like mid-day meals etc.”

2.2 In the draft NEP the School structure of 5+3+3+4 is very nicely explained. While we agree to take care to see that there will be no more drop outs at least up to the 5+3 stage, we cannot avoid such drop outs in latter classes. Such drop outs, at least after we take care of our defect in ECCE and early schooling, will not be for the same reasons as discussed in the draft. It may be a genuine lack of interest, or increased interests in non-school activities, like arts & sports.

Hence in the scheme of things there should be more exit points. For a child who wants to take up his family profession of, say Jewellery, after his/her formal school education, a path should be provided. Similarly a carpenter’s child may aspire to become a furniture designer after his formal schools. The paths to be framed for these professions will also be open to others who show interest. A jeweller’s son can aspire to become a sculptor and what an excellent combination it will make when his ideas of Jewellery is adapted to his new trade of a sculptor. This will break the caste barrier and biases for any kind of trade, even when it happens to be leather work, which at the basic level, is looked down up on. I am giving below another extract from my same blog as above:

“Those who have completed the ‘Literacy’ level education may branch off to skilled trades depending on their aptitude and family tradition. For example a jeweller’s son, if he wants to inherit his family trade, he may take up training on jewellery; same thing with carpentry etc. But the training on these trades should be more formalized than just being hereditary. There should be authorized tradesman-ship certification, to enable them to commence their trade in any place. This is not to establish caste-based trades. On the contrary this kind of training and education will break this caste based trade systems, as anyone interested can take up this trade after proper training and certification. Can you think of a caste based electricians? Have you seen anybody asking for a certified mason or a plumber? Even if we look for some certified carpenter can we get one? No is the answer for all. Authorized Industrial Training Institutes established in every municipal area can offer such certified short-term courses. We can involve experienced traditional tradesmen also in this teaching process to teach some of their traditional skills. These certificate holders will fill the basic needs of many house-holders and other small business groups. Such training institutes should be established in every taluk either by local govt.’s or by authorized private parties.”

2.3 We cannot assume every person will complete 5+3+3+4 Schooling. Even if they do it, will they enrol in college for higher education? It depends on their performance and interests. Again does the country or society need so many graduates? If the student wants to take up a clerical job in MSMEs he can as well branch of here, as he will be already aged 18 or more. Based on his experience and performance in his career he progresses further. Those who want to do practical technical work may branch off even earlier say on completion of 10th standard and join Polytechnic Institutes to do his diploma courses. By the age of 19 he will also be job ready with a technical diploma. Now to make this point clear I give below the extract of from my same blog:

“At the end of this education, students are ready for taking up jobs, mainly clerical. They fill the need for support staff in any organization. With on-the-job training, some of them are able to rise further in their carrier. But still, depending on the type of business of the organization, their lack of professional skills sometimes lead to lack of passion in the process. Still we need these people, lots of them, in any organization. These are generally people who complete their high schools or preliminary college education. Many high schools will be required in every small towns and districts. Even night schools for self employed pupils will be necessary. If the school education is done purposefully, college education may not always be necessary for these kinds of jobs. For those who have the initiative for learning more and improving their carrier, part-time college education should also be made available.”

“Those who have completed 10th Std high school may branch off to professional diploma courses in advanced areas such as fabrication, forging and foundries, assembly of machines, manufacturing of spare parts in different areas of engineering. 3-year Diploma courses as existing in the present day Polytechnic Institutes would very well fill this need. These students will also have opportunities open for higher professional education and training. Such polytechnics should be established in every district in several specialized areas.”

“Those who have completed high school with merit and wants to go for higher education may opt for professional degree courses. In these courses proper scientific, engineering, commercial or administrative education will be offered with some specialization in the final years of this 4-year course. On completion of this professional degree course, the student should be able to join any major scientific engineering, commercial or public service establishments and assist them in all their professional activities with minimum training. After some experience they may even establish themselves, on their own, in their chosen profession.”

2.4 Sex education as a part of High School Curricula is not discussed in this document. If found desirable to include the same, then I wish to give me views briefly, as extracted from my blog:  https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/sex-education/

“……   It is quite dangerous in the present context to leave the youth to learn the aspects of sex on their own, from the society around them. Since such a type of responsible social set-up has long broken down, it is the duty of the society to find an alternative. High Schools are being considered as one of those places where such an education on sex could be imparted. In proceeding to provide such a system of sex education, a lot of thought should be given in commencing, maintaining and improving such a system. We should be careful about four major aspects of this education: they are a) the content, b) the candidate, c) the class and d) the counsellor.”

The Content

“….  Care should be taken to see that it does not kindle undue passions among the youth undergoing such education. It should respect the institution of marriage and should not encourage sub-normal and abnormal sexual behaviours. ….” The broad contents is proposed as below

The biology of sex

The physiology of sex

The psychology of sex

Sex and moral values

Sexual infections and deceases

Conception and Contraception

The contents of sex education as proposed above may be discussed by a panel of doctors, biologists and social scientists and a final list of contents may be evolved.

The Candidate

“…. We should allow our children to remain as children for as long a period of time as possible. In a highly populated and poor country like ours we wish to maintain a marriageable age of 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. Considering these facts we may say, sex education may start only at the age of 15 for both boys and girls.” ….. “However the age, at which to start the sex education should be left to the decision of the parents.”

The Class

“Sex education classes should be held separately for boys and girls, at different places and at different times. This will ensure a higher acceptance from the parents of the boys and girls. The children should be taught to use the books and course material discretely to avoid misuse by other younger children and non students.”

The Counsellor

The counsellors (or teachers) for sex education should be selected with utmost care. We should have only male teachers for boys and female teachers for girls. The teachers should have impeccable moral values. They should generally be happily married persons. They should have undergone special training in sexology.

In our country, i.e., India, with an ancient culture and a largely conservative population, we have to approach the subject of sex education with great care.

Part 2

Higher Education

2.0 Capacity Planning for Professional Courses

In sec 16.2, the document spends just half a page for capacity planning of professionals. While it is understood the authors may not have all the inputs available to make such a capacity plan, they can always evolve a methodology for the same. As an example: Let us assume every year, some 10000 children of about 3 years of age enter the school curriculum of 5+3+3+4 years, from one district of India. Our intention is for all these children complete their schooling up to 8th standard, i.e., up to 5+3+3. If we allow for some of these students to branch off to other streams of education and training, we may plan for about 8000 students per year to enter High school level in this district. After 10th std we may allow for another 1000 students to branch off to diploma courses. Out of the remaining 7000 another 1000 may take a pause on completion of 12th Std to take up some job. We should encourage at least half of them to take up off campus classes later in their life. Hence it works out that at least we should plan for 6000 seats per district for college education, after 5+3+3+4 schooling.

The allocation as shown in the Table below, is only an arbitrary one, but can be improved as we get reliable field data. All are just guesstimate for a single district of India. Hope the committee can give such guidelines for capacity planning of professional courses.

Table 3.1

Subject Graduate Courses Masters option Doctorate Option
Teaching          200

600

60

Legal & Humanitites          200
physical sciences         1000
Commerce         1000
Information Technology         1000
Biological Sciences / Agriculture           500
Engineering          1000
Medical & Health Care profession           500
Management            600
Total Strength per Dist  per year          6000    600 60

Addendum

Making it Happen 

4.0 Corporate Educational Responsibility

Nowadays the involvement of Industries in education has reduced to just campus recruitments. “85% campus recruitments”, the ads for some professional colleges blare as a means of catching students. When campuses prepare students for the need of the Industries, should not the Industries do their responsibility towards education? Yes, there are some private universities run by industrial houses. But what about their contribution to other education and research institutes, precious nothing. Basically, Industrial Houses can help education and research in three ways:

  1. They can offer deputation and part-time employment in their operations or in their R&D dept, to the concerned faculty members in their field of industry. This way it helps the faculty and the institution to gain knowledge on the need of the industry both in training the students and guiding the research.
  2. They can support research activity in their field by offering grants and scholarships.
  3. They can offer special study leave for their employees for full time studies in selected Institutes. They may also depute some of their employees for targeted courses and educational workshops conducted by professional institutes.

This can be included as an obligatory Corporate Education Responsibility (very much as Corporate Social Responsibility). Corporate companies can be considered for tax-breaks for the expenses incurred by them for these purposes.

Comments From:

L V Nagarajan B.Sc., B.E., M.Tech.,

IISc/IIT-K

Email – (lvnaga@yahoo.com)

Web site – (lvnaga.wordpress.com)

Poetry and Prosody in Tamil Pasurams

January 15, 2019

We are again going to meditate on the ideas of poetry, prosody and melody. We discussed this theme in my earlier blog on Prosody and Melody. This time we are going much deeper into the cultural history of South India dominated in those days by Tamils. Tamil poetry after Sangam Era, took a turn towards devotion to Hindu Gods of Shiva and Vishnu. There were many Saint Poets who sang in praise of Vishnu or his different manifestations. Most prominent among them were 12 Azhwars (as they are called) whose works were compiled into 4000 verses by a later day saint Nathamuni (824 – 924 CE). Even till date they are considered as Tamil Veda. A pure Vaishnavite (follower of Vishnu) is required to learn both Sanskrit Vedas and Tamil Vedas. Then they earn the title of Ubaya Vedantis or the twin-experts.

Among the 12 Azhwars as above, Tirumangai Azhwar is a very prominent Saint Poet, who has composed many more than 1000 verses, of which his collection of poems known as Peria Tirumozhi (Grand Holy Words) itself is of 1084 verses. Though traditionally he is believed to have lived in 2700 BCE, scholars estimate his actual date to be 776CE. This date itself makes these verses to be more than 1000 years old. Here we are taking 4 of these verses (from 1018 to 1021), to appreciate and enjoy the aspects of poetry and prosody, mixed with emotion, rhythm and melody. (i.e.) In musical terms, Ragam, Talam and Bhavam.

I acknowledge with thanks

(http://narasimmah.blogspot.in/2010/10/1018-1127.html)

for giving me the Tamil text of the four verses. I also acknowledge with thanks

(http://periyathirumozhi-1stdecad.blogspot.in/p/kongkalarndha.html)

for providing the corresponding texts in Roman script.

திருப்பதி ஏழுமலையான் பெரிய திருமொழி – திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார்

The above line states that these verses are on Tirupati, God of Seven Hills, from Tirumangai Azhwar’s Peria Tirumozhi (Grand Holy Words). Here the poet combines poetry and emotion to create these beautiful verses describing the mysteries of Lord Vishnu and the beauty of his abode Tirupati, also known as Tiruvengadam.

எழுசீர்க் கழிநெடிலடி ஆசிரிய விருத்தம் –

The above line describes the prosody (or meter) employed in composing this poetry. In short the above prosody works out to the following rhythmic syllables

தகிட  தகதிமி  – தகிட தகதிமி –  தகிட  தகதிமி  –  தகிட தா . .  ம்

Now let us go to the actual verses

Verse: 1018

கொங்கு அலர்ந்த மலர் குருந்தம் ஒசித்த* கோவலன் எம்பிரான்*
சங்கு தங்கு தடங்கடல்* துயில் கொண்ட தாமரைக் கண்ணினன்*
பொங்கு புள்ளினை வாய்ப் பிளந்த* புராணர் தம்மிடம்* – பொங்கு நீர்
செங்கயல் திளைக்கும் சுனைத்* திருவேங்கடம் அடை நெஞ்சமே*!. 1.8.1

kongalarnda malar kurundam oSitta kOvalan embirAn
Sangu tangu taDangaDal tuyil koNDa tAmarai kaNNinan |
pongu puLLinai vAi piLanda purANar tammiDam ponguneer
Sengayal tiLaikkum sunai, tiruvEngaDam aDai nenjamE ||

After killing the demon who disguised himself as a Kurunda tree full of fragrant flowers, the lotus eyed God was resting in the ocean in the company of holy conch shells. But he became aware of Bakasura, the demon who came in the form of a crane. He tore the demon’s pair of beaks away and killed him. Such a hero of many ancient deeds, stays in Tiruvengdam which is full of tanks and fountains breeding well grown red fishes. Oh Mind, seek him in Triuvengadam.

விளக்கம்:-
(கண்ணனை கொல்ல கம்சன் அனுப்பிய அசுரன் குருந்த மரமாக மாறி நின்றான்!) நல்ல வாசனையுள்ள மலர்களையுடைய குருந்த(மரத்தை) ஒடித்த எம் கிருஷ்ணன், எம் இனிய இறைவன் , சங்குகள் தங்கியிருக்கின்ற பெரிய கடலில் ஹாயாக (தூங்குவது போல நடித்து உள்ளுக்குள் நம்மை கவனத்துடன் பார்த்து கொண்டே பாதி கண்கள் மூடியவாறு)படுத்து கொண்டுள்ள தாமரை (மலர் போல அழகான குளிர்ந்த) கண்களுடையவனும்,(கண்ணனை கொல்ல வேறு வடிவில் வந்த அசுரனை அதாவது) பொங்கி வந்த கொக்கின்வாயை பிளந்த பழமைக்கும் (பழமையாய் புதுமைக்கும் புதுமையாய் உள்ள ஆதியும்அந்தமும் இல்லாத பரம்பொருள்) இருக்குமிடம்), பொங்கி வரும் நீரில் கொழுத்த மீன்கள் (மகிழ்ச்சியுடன் துள்ளி விளையாடும்) குளங்களும் (அருவிகளும் நிறைந்துள்ள) திருவேங்கடம் தயவு செய்து தித்திக்கும் கரும்பான என் ஏழுமலையான் வாசம் செய்யும் இடமான திருப்பதி) அடை நெஞ்சமே!

While we enjoy the beautiful poetry, we also enjoy the happiness of visiting the holy Tirupati. Sri R K Sriram Kumar, the musical genius has poured his emotion in setting this verse to rhythm and melody. He has chosen aptly Misra Chapu tala of 7-beats, as suggested by the prosody and tuned the verse to the beautiful raga Yamuna Kalyani. Please click the following link to listen to Smt Janani Ganesh Kartik (a deciple of Sriramkumar) rendering it with a clear diction, tempo and emotion.

Verse – 1019
பள்ளியாவது பாற்கடல் அரங்கம்* இரங்க வன் பேய்முலை*
பிள்ளையாய் உயிருண்ட எந்தை* பிரான் அவன் பெருகும் இடம்*
வெள்ளியான் கரியான்* மணி நிற வண்ணன் என்று எண்ணி*நாள்தொறும்
தெள்ளியார் வணங்கும் மலைத்* திருவேங்கடம் அடை நெஞ்சமே*!. 1.8.2

paLLiyAvadu pArkaDal arangam irangavan pEi mulai
piLLaiyAi uyiruNDa endai pirAnavan peruhum iDam |
veLLiyAn kariyAn maNi nira vaNNan enreNNi nADorum
teLLiyAr vaNangum malai, tiruvEngaDam aDai nenjamE ||

The place where he rests is the Ocean of Milk & Srirangam. The place (Dwaraka) was his nursery, where he cried as a hungry child and sucked off the life of demon Poothana through her feeding breasts. Wise people know that silver complexioned Maha Vishnu, Sri Rama – the dark and blue skinned Sri Krishna are all the same Narayana as saluted by them in his holy abode at Tirupati, also known as Tiruvengadam. Oh Mind, please find him at Tiruvengadam.

விளக்கம்:-
(என் இனியவன் இறைவன்) பள்ளி கொண்டிருக்கும் (இடங்கள்) பாற்கடல், ஸ்ரீரங்கம் (அப்படி படுத்து கொண்டிருந்தவன் கிருஷ்ணா அவதாரத்திலே கெட்ட எண்ணத்துடன் கண்ணனை
கொல்ல கம்சன் அனுப்பிய பூதனை என்பவள் ஒரு சமயத்தில் குழந்தை கண்ணன்
அழும்போது அம்மா போல நடித்து கண்ணன் அழுவதை பார்த்து விஷ பாலை கொடுக்க வந்தவளை) கதற (கதற) கொடிய பேயின் முலையை (வாயில் பற்றிக்கொண்டே சிறு) பிள்ளையாய் (ஒன்றும் தெரியாதது போல அவள்) உயிரையும் உண்ட என் தந்தை(யாகிய) இறைவன் வளரும் இடம், வெள்ளியானே,கரியவனே ,(நீல) மணி வண்ணனே! என்று எண்ணி நாள்தோறும் தெளிந்த (அறிவுடையோர்) வணங்கும் மலை திருவேங்கடம்(தயவு செய்து தித்திக்கும் கற்கண்டு என் ஏழுமலையான் வாசம் செய்யும் இடமான திருப்பதி) அடை நெஞ்சமே!

Such moving poetry needs to be recited in a melody befitting the emotion. Sriramkumar has chosen the emotive Raga Nadanamakriya. It is very nicely presented by Janani in the following recording.

Verse -1020
நின்ற மா மருது இற்று வீழ* நடந்த நின்மலன் நேமியான்*,
என்றும் வானவர்க் கைதொழும்* இணைத் தாமரையடி எம்பிரான்*
கன்றி மாரி பொழிந்திடக்* கடிது ஆநிரைக்கு இடர் நீக்குவான்*,
சென்று குன்றம் எடுத்தவன்* திருவேங்கடம் அடை நெஞ்சமே*!. 1.8.3

ninra mA marudu iTTru veezha naDanda ninmalan nEmiyAn
enrum vAnavar kai tozhum iNai tAmarai aDi embirAn |
kanri mAri pozhindiDa kaDidu Aniraikku iDar neekkuvAn
Senru kunram eDuttavan tiruvEngaDam aDai nenjamE ||

My lord, Narayana, holds the powerful Chakrayudha. But still he came as an innocent toddler who walked between a pair of marudha trees, felling them in the process, to free himself from a rope tied to a pounding stone, restraining him from mischief. He walked dragging the stone and such was the strength of his legs. But they become soft as a pair of lotus when heavenly beings salute him. When once, out of anger rain(god, Indra) poured down in a torrent, our lord, in contempt, lifted a mountain, underneath which, all men and animals took refuge. Such was his strength. Oh Mind, take refuge under him in Tiruvengadam

விளக்கம்:-
(முன்பு இருவர் செய்த மகா தவறுக்காக சாபம் பெற்று பல காலமாக இருவரும் மரங்களாக மாறி நின்றனர். ஒரு சமயத்தில் இறைவன் கிருஷ்ணா அவதாரம் எடுத்த போது குழந்தை பருவத்தில் வெண்ணை திருடி சாப்பிட்டதால் யசோதை அம்மாவால் உரலால் கட்டப்பட்ட குட்டி கண்ணன் இருவரின் சாபம் நீக்க உரலில் கட்டப்பட்ட கயிற்றை அவிழ்ப்பது போல) நின்ற பெரிய மருத (மரங்கள்) ஒடிந்து விழும்படி (இரு மரத்திற்கும் இடையில்)நடந்த மாசற்றவன், (அழகான) சக்கரத்தை (கையிலே) கொண்டிருப்பவன், என்றுமே வானத்தில் (உள்ளவர்களும்) கை (எடுத்து கும்பிட்டு) வணங்கும் தாமரை மலருக்கு இணையாக (அழகான) பாதத்தை (உடைய) எம் இறைவன், (ஒரு சமயம் இந்திரனின் கோபத்தால் பலத்த) மழை பெய்ய , (உடனே) வேகமாக சென்று பசு கூட்டங்களின் துன்பத்தை நீக்கினான். (பசுக்களை மழை தாக்காதவாறு உடனே) சென்று மலையை (குடையாக) தூக்கியவன் (வசிக்கும் இடம்) திருவேங்கடம் (தயவு செய்து மனமே! தித்திக்கும் சக்கரகட்டி என் ஏழுமலையான் வாசம் செய்யும் இடமான திருப்பதி) அடை நெஞ்சமே!

How the poet projects contrasting images of the Lord and the way He uses his strength and compassion effectively !!!.  For showing compassion Sriramkumar effectively uses raga Kapi and of course Janani brings out the same compassion in her voice

Verse -1021
பார்த்தர்க்காய் அன்று பாரதம் கை செய்திட்டு* வென்ற பரஞ்சுடர்*
கொத்து அங்கு ஆயர் தம் பாடியில்* குரவை பிணைந்த எம் கோவலன்*
ஏத்துவார் தம் மனத்துள்ளான்* இடவெந்தை மேவிய எம்பிரான்*
தீர்த்த நீர் தடம் சோலை சூழ்* திருவேங்கடம் அடை நெஞ்சமே*.! 1.8.4

pArtarkkAi anru bAradam kai SeidiTTu venra paranjuDar
kOttangAyar tam pADiyil kuravai piNainda em kOvalan |
EttuvAr tam manattuLLAn iDavendai mEviya embirAn
teertaneer taDanjOlai Soozh tiruvEngaDam aDai nenjamE ||

The other day, He became a charioteer for his friend and devotee Arjuna and helped him win the ‘Bharata War’. Again at his home in Ayarpadi (shepherd village) he mingled and danced with admiring gopikas, the girls of the village. He always resides in the minds of his devotees, (whoever and wherever they are), be it in shrine at Idavendhai or in Tirupati surrounded by lakes and gardens. Oh Mind, behold Him at Tiruvengadam.

விளக்கம்:-
அர்ச்சுனனுக்காக அன்று (நடந்த) பாரத போரில் (தேர் ஓட்டுபவனாக இருந்து அவர்களுக்கு உதவியாக) கை கொடுத்து வென்ற எல்லையில்லா ஒளி உடைய இறைவன், (என்ன செஞ்சான்னா) தன்னோட ஊரில் பசு மேய்ப்பவர்களோடு சேர்ந்து கைகோர்த்து (ஆனந்தமாக விளையாடிய குட்டி) கண்ணன், (பாசத்தோடு) போற்றி வழிபடுபவர்களின் மனசுல உள்ளான்.
(அது தவிர) திருவிடவெந்தை(யிலும்) பரவிய எம் இறைவன் (வசிக்கும் இடம்), புனிதமான நீருடைய குளங்களும், சோலைகளும் சூழ்ந்த (அழகான) திருவேங்கடம், (தயவு செய்து தித்திக்கும் வெல்ல கட்டி என் ஏழுமலையான் வாசம் செய்யும் திருப்பதி) அடை நெஞ்சமே!

To show devotion is there any other better raga than Sindu-bhairavi? Sriramkumar shows his devotion to God and music by setting the verse to this raga and has trained Janani well to bring out her devotion to both.

Hope you enjoyed the poetry, the emotion, the nice prosody and the matching music.

Renderings:

Music composed by reknowned violin vidwan, R K Sriram Kumar

Sung by By Janani Ganesh (Karthik) Los Altos, Ca, USA

If you want to listen to the full rendering of the ragamalika please use the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pip1t9UGzaQ

Sung by By Vidwan Sri. Ramakrishnan Moorthy

Accompanied on the violin by his own mentor and music composer of this piece Vidwan R K Sriramkumar,

on the Mridangam by Manoj Siva and on Kanjira by Purushottaman.

The Traditions of Sabarimala Ayyappa

November 7, 2018

Samiye Saranam Ayyappa

There is a whole chapter in the holy Tamil Text, TirukkuraL, titled as ‘Ikal’ (இகல் = Humiliation, Hostility). Herein the Saint Poet Tiruvalluvar in three couplets tells us about the harms of hostility and humiliation.

குறள் 857:

மிகல்மேவல் மெய்ப்பொருள் காணார் இகல்மேவல்
இன்னா அறிவி னவர்.

The real intent and meaning of victory will be lost, if the victor ever humiliates the vanquished with hostility

குறள் 858:

இகலிற்கு எதிர்சாய்தல் ஆக்கம் அதனை
மிகலூக்கின் ஊக்குமாம் கேடு.

Real victory is to be devoid of hostility and humiliation. Otherwise the victory will turn out to be harmful.

குறள் 859:

இகல்காணான் ஆக்கம் வருங்கால் அதனை
மிகல்காணும் கேடு தரற்கு.

The real winner will not humiliate the loser. If he does, winner will be the only loser.

This is exactly what happened in the case of Sabarimala verdictof gender equality by Supreme Court of India and the aftermath of the verdict. It was a just cause and a good victory by Indian Women Activists. Their celebrations are well justified. But where is the need to humiliate the system that existed earlier and its followers?

The Sabarimala devotees traditionally start their ritual penance for the pilgrimage, 41 days in advance. As such, when the verdict against the tradition came they were already half-way into the rituals. There is no way the activists, who hurried to celebrate their victory could have done this 41-day ritual. Most of the women, who dared to visit the shrine, did so in a way that humiliates the traditional devotees. It could have even been their aim, and not any true devotion or serene happiness. Unfortunately as said in the above verses of TirukkuraL:     a) Even the real winners lost the intent and meaning of their victory, b) their victory itself has come under suspicion, and c) and who knows, ultimately, they may even become the losers.

Without going into the merits of the verdict, we can easily conclude that SC has not specified any time limit for implementing their verdict of gender equality. The leftist (atheist) Govt of Kerala could have easily waited for a period of time, and could have used this time, to at least make preparations for the security and safety of first batch of women pilgrims and also more importantly, to secure the ritual value of the pilgrimage of thousands of devotees under penance. But the Govt in trying to celebrate the victory of atheists, chose to humiliate the devotion of the pilgrims. The visual, social and print media in their hurry to celebrate the victory of their ‘secular’ backgrounds, chose to send their women correspondents to the shrine along with the so-called women pilgrims. They never gave a thought for the humiliation it caused for the real devotees under penance. Almost all of the so-called women pilgrims with their media escorts were from non-Hindu communities. What were the intentions behind such a move, except that to humiliate the real devotees? It was really surprising that Supreme Court also did not take cognisance of its verdict, being sabotaged in this manner, let alone the fact, that they chose to remain unconcerned with the violent fallout of its verdict. In this process they allowed their verdict to be sabotaged openly.

I am not a Sabarimala devotee. I have never ever undertaken the penance and neither joined the pilgrimage. But I have great respects for those who go on such a pilgrimage. I have equal respect for the Haj Pilgrims also. It will be really nice, if women devotees of all ages are enabled to go on such pilgrimages. As we all know all pilgrimages have rules and regulations to be followed. Were there any such rules and regulations evolved for women by the Devasvom Board? Did Kerala Govt ask Devosvom Board for such set of rules as existing for male pilgrims? Any pilgrimage, (including for Haj), cannot be treated like a picnic by any new set of pilgrims. If they were real devotees, they themselves could have asked the Devasvom Board to evolve such rules, and could have given adequate time for them to do so. Supreme Court, in their hurry, or some would say, in their Judicial Activism, did not think of such a clause in their verdict also.

Amidst all these tussles within the Hindu Community, was there anybody interested in evolving a solution or a compromise; – neither victors, nor vanquished, nor the mediator and nor the media? Everyone was just following their agenda, political or otherwise. I have no agenda and I am totally apolitical. Being a Hindu, I am interested in safeguarding our gender equality and intrinsically secular culture, and hence I have evolved a solution which can be reviewed by all concerned. Activists can reserve their right to fight against such a solution if they find it not agreeable, either at the proposal stage or at the subsequent implementation.

In any South Indian temple, only the appointed priests are allowed inside the sanctum. They will do Abisheka, Alankara, Archana and Aradhana from inside the sanctum and will be in direct physical contact with the deity or murthy. The devotees will witness and participate only from outside. This is very much unlike temples in North India. Even in the case of Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, devotees are allowed only up to the upper prakara of the temple above the traditional 18-steps. Of course they will have uninterrupted darshan of the deity, will have their offerings accepted and will receive their prashad. The 41-day penance they do is only to become eligible to go up these holy 18-steps. A few of the women activist have managed to reach the terrace just below the 18-steps, and that is where, they were violently, or otherwise, stopped by the devotees and the priests. When thousands of devotees voluntarily undertook penance to reach that stage, how can such activists with police protection be allowed, sans any such penance? Under this context, here comes my solution:

Women of ages between 10 years and 50 years, if they are menstruating, will not be able to observe 41-day penance for obvious biological reasons. Hence they could be specified some easier penance for say 18-days. After completing this easier penance, they can be admitted to take the pilgrimage, in a way not to distract or disturb the more severe penance of male devotees. These women devotees may be admitted up to the terrace below 18-steps. From then on, only those women who are below 10, or above 50 years, who have kept up their penance for 41-days will be allowed to mount the 18-steps and have a close darshan of the deity. All other women can have indirect darshan, say through a real time CCTV/screen, just outside the 18-steps, thus respecting the celibate status (Naishtika Brahmacharya) of Lord Aayyappa of Sabarimala. Offerings of the devotees may also be collected and made to the deity by the priests, who will then distribute the prashads to these devotees. In every Sabarimala season, the first day of opening of the shrine may be allotted only for women. All the male devotees may be stopped at Pamba base camp itself, till darshan by women devotes are completed and they have returned to the dedicated base camp at Pamba.

This solution or any other variations should be discussed with all devotees, priests, Devasvom Board, Pandalam Royalty and Kerala Govt. Such an agreed solution should be presented to the Supreme Court, during the ongoing review of the verdict, if possible. Otherwise, they should appeal to Supreme Court now itself, for sufficient time to implement any other solution based on the revised verdict they may pass on review.

Even if no party appeals for more time or if they show no intention of drafting a solution enabling the visit to the shrine by women devotees of all ages, Supreme Court on their own wisdom may direct the parties to form a committee and propose such a solution. In the end, there should not be any Victor or Vanquished and neither any scope for humiliation of any one.  Hope with the help of such a fair justice to be delivered by Supreme Court, with the cooperation of all Sabarimala (men and women) devotees and by the divine grace of Lord Ayyappa, we will all find an amicable solution with a win-win status.

Samiye Saranam Ayyappa

 

 

Carnatic/Hindu Music

September 6, 2018

I have a Tamil book on Carnatic music bequeathed by my grandfather. This book was published in 1910, more than 100 years ago. The title of this Tamil book on Carnatic music is, yes, ‘Hindu Sangeetham’. So I am well within my rights to give the same title to my blog also. Most of my readers may be aware of the recent controversy of yet another attempt, by Christian Missionaries of India, to appropriate this essential Hindu culture of Carnatic music into their system with an obvious attempt at incentivised conversion. When I first heard of this controversy I did not believe Christian Missionaries will risk doing this. In all good intention I wrote to some of these Christian organisations a general appeal to reassure the Carnatic Music community of their respect for Hindus and their culture. But when I realised their true intentions, I wrote another appeal to some of the Carnatic Artists I happen to know, to resist these measures from Christian Missionaries. The above two appeals are given at the end of this blog. Subsequently, Sri T M Krishna, an artist whom I like and respect a lot, turned the whole issue upside down, perhaps, to serve his socio-political ideology. I started following TMK on his twitter handle.  I interacted with all in the conversation and I learnt there are several aspects to this controversy. But most of my tweets were not answered by T M Krishna. I am listing my reactions and my comments on major issues below, quoting my tweets wherever needed.

  1. What is wrong if we sing compositions on gods and icons of other Religions?

Nothing wrong at all, if such compositions are sung during the natural course of a concert. I have heard many singers do it and enjoyed the musical and other aspects of such compositions, including the melody, rhythm and emotion. But it should not lead to a situation where there is an obligation on every singer to do at least a few such compositions in every concert or otherwise he will be branded as manuvadi, brahminical or a sanghi, the usual attributes given to secular Hindu artists.

  1. T M Krishna promised to sing and release one song on Allah or Jesus every week. Why not?

If he is doing it on his own I appreciate his initiative, but why only at this point of time and why such a regularity of one song every week?

(I tweeted) I am afraid it will become obligatory on other artists to sing one such song in every concert (as otherwise the concert will be called communal?) which is not good for Music.  I do not think, TMK is doing it for evangelical purposes.

Sri. KVN used to sing Vedanayakam Pillai’s Krithis on Karthar very regularly in concerts, not for evangelical purpose, neither for obtaining the support of Christians.

If Carnatic Art music had not been secular in content, how come Kanimozhi(DMK) is able to enjoy these concerts on a regular basis?

No, I don’t think singing one or two compositions in concerts on other non-Hindu icons (like Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Gobind, Allah, Jesus, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam or our Nation) is wrong.

My Tweet: 90% of Indian Christians are converted Hindus – may not mind & may even be proud to sing and listen to melodious songs on Hindu Gods.

  1. Then why this hue and cry, when Aruns/Arunas sing krithis on Jesus?

My Tweet: Hue and cry is not about singing Christian Carnatic songs. Done 100 years back. But why an event of only Christian songs, and who sings & why. It depends on who is arranging and why? You saw OS Arun wearing the cross while singing? Will TMK do it and back to Thirumann for Vishnu!!

Is it secular to do it? It was obvious that here is an attempt to propagate Christianity through Carnatic music, than to propagate Carnatic music through Christianity. This is simply a cultural appropriation.

  1. How do you say this is a cultural appropriation?

You may all be aware of Churches celebrating their religious festivals with all types of Hindu customs, like Dwjasthamba, Abhisheka, Archana, Procession and Rathotsavam. If it had stopped with that may be Hindus would not have objected. But now they have Yesu Suprabhatm, Christhu Bhujangam, Jesus Sashti Kavacham and Mary Ashototram. And I hear they also have Yesu Rudram, Yesu Suktham, Yesu Upanishad etc. Tomorrow they may pay Rs 100,000 (from the funds of Christian missionaries abroad) to any Brahmasri Rama Subramania Ganapadigal (with full support of T M Krishna) and ask him to recite these mantras (and play them) at Churches. Is this not cultural appropriation and propaganda?

My Tweet: What is done is not to promote music thru’ Christ but to promote Christ thru’ music. Let them first accept it. TMK et al shouldn’t support this.

  1. Haven’t the brahmins appropriated this music from lower castes?

My tweet: “Dravidian movement alienated Carnatic Music from other communities. Want to unfollow everything brahmins follow. M.K. himself was of music caste”. This remained as one of the top tweets in @TMKrishna handle for almost a week with 1500 viewers. 

All carnatic musicians respect Thevarams as the first ever scripted musical pieces available in the whole world. Tamil Panns are the precursors for many modern day ragas. They are aware of silappdikaram and its documentation and grammar of performing arts of those times including Music. Even with all these historical facts, the Dravidian movement disowned their own music. Though late Sri M Karunanidhi, the doyen of Dravidian Movement is himself from a musical community of Isai Vellalars, he was tragically instrumental in alienating other non-brahmin communities from this music and calling Brahmins as non-dravidians. Brahmins continued to invest their quality time, efforts and resources to keep this tradition of music alive. As more and more Isai Vellalars and Oduvars have dropped out of learning and practicing their musical tradition, Brahmins took up the job of preserving it. Even today many conservative Brahmin families do not allow their talented and trained girl children to perform concerts in public. As performers from traditional music communities dropped out, these talented Brahmin youngsters were reluctantly permitted to perform. Oduvar tradition in Hindu Temple was discouraged by the same Dravidian rulers. When Archakas are getting paltry sums as compensation, how will Oduvars get anything reasonable?

Brahmins did not appropriate carnatic music. It was abandoned by other communities; Brahmins are investing their time, efforts and resources keeping the tradition alive. Even today it is the Brahmins who are mainly saving our music traditions and fighting the appropriation by a foreign Christian culture.

And it is not easy. Aruna Sayeeram struggled for 30 years before she became a front line performing artist at the age of 50. She is now 70 as she gains the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi from Music Academy. Brinda Manickavasagam, a non-brahmin was very lucky to come into prominence early in her life. Of course she richly deserves her place with her rich and effortless singing. Once you gain a place among celebrities, still you have to struggle to retain your rankings. They earn paltry sums, compared to film music singers under A R Rehman or Ilaya Raja.

My Tweet: other communities allowed the Brahmins to dominate in what’s essentially their art. Now they avoid it saying it is brahminical. What a pity!

  1. Why Titles and recognition are given only to Brahmin artists?

When others have disowned this music, what else do you expect? Till 10 years back a lot of non Brahmin artists received many awards. Tamil Isai Sangam is now finding it difficult to find non-brahmin Tamil artists for awards. I heard the organisers of Thirugnana Sambandhar Vizha In Mylapore lamenting that they have no way than to take the cooperation of Brahmin community to find artists and audience for this festival. Othuvar community has been bankrupted and impoverished by successive Dravidian governments’ anti-Hindu policy. Where are Madurai Somu’s, Namagiripettais, Pazhani Subramania Pillais, T M Thygarajans?

  1. Why Tamil songs are not given prominence in concerts?

This art was founded and developed by Dravidians. Purnadaradasa, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Carnatic Music, a non-brahmin, is from Karnataka region of Dravida Nadu. Almost all his compositions are in Kannada.  St Thygaraja was a Telugu composer from Tamil Nadu. Swati Tirunal was from Kerala and mainly composed in Sanskrit. Muthiah Bhagavatar is a Tamil Composer from Mysore Durbar. Tamil Moovar are Tamil Composers of Pre-Trinity period (Mutthu Thandavar, Marimuttha Pillai, Arunachala Kavirayar). We all know about Papanasam Sivan a 100% Tamil composer of Mylapore. All musicians from Dravida Nadu, i.e., Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are learning compositions of all Dravidian languages including Tamil. Only then they can perform all over South India and India, including cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Hyderabad, not counting Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. They select compositions according to the mix of the expected audience, their own mood and choice. Do you know that Tamil Brahmins recite Kanda Sashti Kavacham more often than Vedas, Abirami Andhadi more often than Lalita Sahasranamam? I hope other communities will not disown these great works also like they have done with their music.

  1. Are not the Brahmins biggest manuvadis and communalist and deserve all the mud being thrown on them?

Please be aware that MANU is not a Brahmin and neither Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar was a Brahmin. In those days Brahmins were a respected community and hence they got the prominence. Atrocities being committed on dalits, now and in the last century, were not only by Brahmins, and neither had they the sanction of Manu Smrithi. Presently all the atrocities on Dalits are by other upper caste non-brahmins, and habitual Brahmin-haters know it. They are diverting this blame to Brahmins for political reasons and thereby degrading both the Dalits and the Brahmins . And who are these singers performing for Christians? Almost all of them are Brahmins and you call them communalists. I appeal to all Hindus, especially dalits to care for Brahmins who are safeguarding Hinduism and its cultural traditions from decay, appropriation and possible extinction. As writer Jeyamohan says “Brahmins are small in number and hence they are defenceless. They are surrounded by a social behaviour in which, insulting them is considered a social duty.”

  1. Why do you think Carnatic music is in the domain of Hindu Culture

Make no mistake. Carnatic Music is Hindu Music. It is not like Hindustani music which was influenced by Mughal invaders and it has no lyrical importance. Rik Veda is montonic on ‘sa’. Yajur Veda is 3-toned Ni-Sa-Ri and Sama Veda is 5-toned Da-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga. Ma-Pa were introduced later as 4/3 & 3/2 ratios for consonance with Sa of both octaves. All music system of the world followed the same. Carnatic Music is the original Hindu/Indian music which is the mother music for all other music. We still have 22-sruthi system as described in 4th-century-BC scripts of Bharata Muni and Tamil epic Silapadikaram. Others have diluted this to a 12-sruti (equi-tempered) System. Being secular does not mean forgetting our culture.

Again, Chanda Sastra of ancient Hindus have developed prosody and meters for recitations; such as, Anushtup Chanda for Sahasranama, Gaythri Chanda for gayathri mantra, and a complicated chanda for Bhujangam. Christians have composed recitations using these chandas, Yesu Sahasranama, Jesus Gaythri, Christ Bhujangam.

I have a question for the so-called secularists – if the music being of Hindu origin stops you from enjoying the same, what kind of a secularist you are? – If the music being followed heavily by Brahmins stops you from following it, what kind of caste-free attitude you have?

My Tweet: Carnatic Music had originated from Hindu thought and remained that way. Hinduism was not forcibly introduced as being done now by Christians

  1. But Carnatic music still remains Elitist. Why?

What do you mean by elitist?

Do you think it is only for the rich? Annual income of 90% of followers of carnatic music will be much less than Rs 8 Lacs, the official limit for creamy layer among BCs of our society accepted by all the Social-Justice Activists

Do you think it is only for people living in bungalows in posh localities? 90% of listeners live in 1 or 2 bedroom apartment blocks in typical middle class areas

Do you think it is only for car owners? 90% of listeners come to the concerts by share Autos, Buses or two wheelers.

Do you think these concerts cost a lot of money? Minimum Tickets are less than Rs 100 and many of the concerts are free. Compare this with a concert by SP Balasubramanian or AR Rehman where the minimum ticket is Rs 500 to Rs 1000.

Do you think the Carnatic Artist are Elites? They are all from middle income group

Do you think Music teachers are elites? Most of them are well trained musicians who unfortunately failed to make it to the top of the popularity chart, either because of lack of sponsors or due to family responsibilities.

Then why is this, ‘Elitist’ impression?  What irks these so-called social-justicians, is the fact that 90% of the carnatic music listeners and organisers are Brahmins. Carnatic music practitioners and followers know very well that this music cannot become as popular as folk music, pop music or film music. Most of the artists are so highly talented they could have easily shifted to any of the above formats where their chances of success could have been higher. But they chose to remain as carnatic artists basically to save this Dravidian traditional music for the future generations.

The fact is there are countless opportunities for anybody to learn and practice carnatic music. If you are against any brahmin teacher there are many non-brahmin experts available in all cities. There are carnatic music department available in Anna University teaching many students. There is a dedicated Govt Karnatik Music College in Chennai. Kalakshetra is a secular organisation involved in training students in dance and music. Social-justicians, like TMK and others, may campaign for and sponsor non-brahmin and non-hindu students, so that they throng these courses in big numbers.

The following were my initial reactions in this controversy

My appeal to all the people involved in this controversy

I have heard Sri KVN singing in his regular concerts, to predominantly Hindu audiences, excellent Krithis of Vidwan Vedanayakam Pillai on “Karthar”, the Jesus. I have also seen many Christians attending Carnatic vocal concerts, where songs predominantly on Hindu gods were sung. We have seen many Christian artists singing and playing in Carnatic music concerts, including Sri Jesudas, Sri Jose (on Viola) and Sri Higgins Bhagavatar. But then, where is the problem?

None of the above secular rasikas and artists were concerned or interested in religious propaganda conversion. They were truly secular in that they practiced their religion without minding   the religion practiced by their listeners. But the situation has changed a bit in the last 20 years, since a dominant political party of India and the government fell in the hands of a catholic foreigner. Though she became a ‘secular’ Indian, it has not stopped the political back biters in pandering to (apparently) please her, by encouraging conversions and promoting Catholics to prominence. It even encouraged some people to Hindu-bashing to attract the attention of the so called secularists. This has led to expected reaction from Hindus, some of them even violent. The present regime, which is trying to check such tendencies, is not very successful. On the contrary the Hindu elements have started over reacting. The opposition is trying to exploit this situation by further encouraging Christians and other minorities with their appeasement policies. This is resulting in religious polarization, caused by whom, l leave it to your guess and opinion.

Now let us come to this Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham: Here is a need to unite our Tamil and Dravidian community. (Dravidam = Tamil+ Telugu + Kannada + Malayalam + others).

  1. Let the Yesu program organisers announce publicly: “We have great respect for Hindus and their music composers. We are not for propaganda or conversion. This is just our efforts to promote Carnatic music among all communities”
  2. Let them say “The selected artists are allowed to sing songs of all religions Hindus, Buddhist, Chiristians and Islam”
  3. Let them openly declare that any artist not convinced about this, may withdraw without any financial or contractual constraints.

If organisers are adamant in refusing to do the above, then, they share the blame in polarizing Tamil/Darvidian communities.

Hope good senses prevail on both sides.

My appeal to all the Carnatic Artists

இசை என்பது பல வகையானது. நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை, சேர்ந்திசை, நாடக/நாட்டிய இசை, இறைஇசை, படை இசை என்று பல விதங்கள். எல்லாமே இசை தான். எல்லாவற்றிற்கும், ராகம், இசைவு, தாளம், பாடல், மேலும் உணர்வுகள் தான் அடிப்படை. இருப்பினும், இசைகள் வேறுபடுவது இவற்றில் எதற்கு அதிக முக்கியத்வம் தருவது என்பதில் தான். மாதிரிக்கு சேர்ந்திசையில் இசைவுக்கும், இறை இசையில் பாடல் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும், படை இசையில் தாளம் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும் முக்கியத்வம். நுண்ணிசையில், ராகத்தோடு இவை எல்லாவற்றுக்குமே முக்கியத்வம் உண்டு.

நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை இரண்டுமே மத சார்பற்றவை. அனைத்து மதத்தினரும் கேட்டு ரசிக்கலாம், இசைக்கலாம். இறை இசை அப்படி அல்ல. அந்த அந்த மதத்தினர் தான் முழுமையாக ஈடுபட்டு ரசிக்கமுடியும். இசைப்போரும் அந்த மதத்தை சேர்ந்தவராகவோ அல்லது பெரிதும் மதிப்பவராக இருக்கவேண்டும்.

இறை இசையை நுண்ணிசை போல பாடலாம். ஆனால் நுண்ணிசையை முழுவதும் இறை இசையாகவே மாற்றிவிடக்கூடாது. அப்படி இல்லாமல் இருப்பதால்தான் கனிமொழி போன்ற நாஸ்திகர்களும் கர்நாடக நுண்ணிசையை ரசிக்கிறார்கள். அவர் நிச்சியமாக இறை இசையை விரும்பமாட்டார். (அவர் ஏன் இந்த கிறித்தவ இறை இசை நிகழ்ச்சியை ஆதரித்தார் என்று தெரியவில்லை).

நமது திராவிட கர்நாடக இசை ராகங்களை இந்த எல்லா இசை வடிவங்களுக்கும் பயன்படுத்துகிறார்கள். இனிமை கருதி சற்றே இலக்கணம் மீறியும் இசைக்கிறார்கள். நுண்ணிசையாளர்கள் அதைச் செய்ய தயங்குவார்கள். பல தேச பக்தி பாடல்கள், ராகங்களில் மெட்டமைத்து பாடப்படுகின்றன. ஒரு பாகிஸ்தானிய தேச பக்தி பாடலை இந்திய கலைஞர்கள் பாடுவதை நாம் ஒத்துகொள்வோமா?

ஆனால் ஒரு இந்து மதத்தை சேர்ந்த ஒரு கலைஞர் மற்ற மத பாடல்களை பாடுவதை நாம் ஏற்றுகொள்கிறோம், அது ஒன்றிரண்டாக இருக்கும்வரை. அதுவே ஒரு மதப்பிரச்சாரமாக, பல பாடல்களை பாடுவதற்கு, அவர்கள் ஒரு கிறித்தவ கலைஞரை பாடவைத்தால் இன்னும் கூட உணர்சசி பூர்வமாக பாடுவார்கள் அல்லவா? முன் காலங்களில் திருமதி ஜிக்கி அவர்கள் பாடிய “எல்லாம் ஏசுவே”, “எனை ஆளும் மேரி மாதா” போன்ற பாடல்களை இன்னும் அனைவராலும் ரசிக்கமுடிகிறது. இல்லையா?

இன்று என்ன நடந்திருக்கிறது? பெயர் பெற்ற நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களை வைத்து அவர்களை இயேசு இறை இசையை பாடவைத்திருக்கிறர்கள். அவர்கள் இறை இசை பாடகர்களே அல்ல. பணத்திற்காகவும் நட்பிற்காகவுமே பாடியிருப்பார்கள். இதைச் சிலுவை அணிந்து வீடியோ காட்சிகளாக வேறு. இது முழுக்க முழுக்க அவர்களின் ஜனரஞ்சகத்தை (popularity) மதப் பிரச்சாரத்திற்கு பயன் படுத்தியதாகத்தான் தோன்றுகிறது. இந்த மறைமுக நோக்கம் நமது நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களுக்கு தெரியவில்லையா, என்ன?

நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களே, உங்களுக்கு பெயரும் புகழும் யாரால் வந்தது என்பதை மறக்கலாமா? சிந்தியுங்கள்.

Gid’s Gift of Carnatic Music

Finally here are just a few words for Carnatic Music Artists, Organisers and listeners. Do not allow these aberrations to affect your enthusiasm for our Dravidian Carnatic Music. It is a great tradition. By following this tradition of music you will never become a fundamentalist, or Manuvadi or a Sanghi. These are all epithets used by political activists and they are not social activists as they claim to be. Sqaure-up your shoulders, keep your head high and be proud that you are bestowed by God, with this precious gift of Carnatic Music. You may even wear a T-shirt with words printed boldly “Rasika of Carnatic Music”.

“Entharo Mahanubhavulu Antariki Vandanamu”

(Many are the great souls, to all of them our salutations)

Graceful Aging

July 26, 2018

(Following is a summary of my talk to my ex-classmates of IISc, Bangalore, in the golden reunion, Swarna Sammilana, of the class of 1967, held during December 2017.)

Time and tide stops for none. We have gone through our times – good, bad and ugly. Now we have reached a stage where we have no obligations to anybody, no regret of anything and nothing much to prove. This is the stage where we need to age gracefully.

We need to take care of three important aspects of our life to be able to enjoy the time left with us as of today. They are: our health, our wealth and our dignity.

HEALTH

Health is primary requirement for our happiness. 50% of our health complaints originate due to our age. As our body ages all parts of our body struggles to keep up to their routine. We develop age related deficiencies such as Hernia, Cataract, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar etc. Mind you, these are not deceases; these are just the results of aging. They become deceases when we neglect them.

Another 30% of our health problems are due to our life styles – like sedate life, bad food habits, lack of sleep etc. Another 10% of our complaints originate from emotional and psychosomatic reasons – arising from spouse and partners, from parents and children, from in-laws and out-law’s and from one’s own self assumed failures. Finally it leaves only 10% of all health problems, coming perhaps out of genetic reasons and/or unexplained stroke of bad luck – which you have to just accept and undergo medical attention and treatment.

For a graceful and happy aging, just attend to the normal aging problems like Hernia, Cataract etc well in time. BP can be easily controlled and managed by effective medicines and by changing your life style and food habits. Do not also worry about your cardio vascular deficiencies too much. It is normal at old age for the arteries to thicken and there are effective drugs to keep this process under safe levels. With a good routine of exercises and healthy food even blood sugar can be controlled with the limited use of drugs. These are definitely not life-threatening.

We have a dilemma when we respond to our body reactions – when we should see a doctor and when we should not? If you have a family doctor, he knows your body well and generally he gives proper advice. Otherwise, it is left to us to decide when to approach a doctor and which doctor. In these days of specialisation, general physicians have become a rare commodity. It is always best to have the first approach to the same doctor every time as he will know our health history better. Another dilemma we have – when to involve others close to us in our health issues? It is good to keep your spouse aware of all your health problems and also for you to be aware of your spouse’s. Involving others should be done selectively and judiciously.

WEALTH

We have had the best of our career in our chosen profession and have earned and saved enough wealth to take care of ourselves and our dependents. We should have proper financial planning which should include apart from our own day to day living expenses, our enjoyment and charity and also to cover contingencies of accident and medical expenses. Most of us who have retired from private services may not have pensions, pay revisions and medical coverage and hence should go in for Medical Insurance. These days such medical insurance policies have become very expensive especially for people above 70 years. If you have already supported your children to be educated and get settled in life, there is no need to leave any legacy specifically for them to inherit. In fact many of our children say openly, not to save anything for their future which they are confident, they will take care of. Still if you think you can spare some of your wealth for gifting to them, better do it now, so that you can feel happy to see them get the benefits of your legacy. After such gifts to them, you will also feel free of your responsibility and enjoy the rest of your wealth on your own. This is the time for involving your spouse in all your financial planning, if you have not doen already. Ladies, please, take interest in the finances of your family together, at least for the sake your husband’s peace of mind. One of us partners will have to leave first and the other one will have to manage alone for the rest of the time.  Better make a will to leave your children with good mutual affection. Involve a neutral third party if felt needed. You have earned enough and, ‘NOW’ is the time to enjoy your wealth, when you are physically able-enough. If not now, when?

DIGNITY

If you take good care of your Health and Wealth, your Dignity is generally assured. When you are together with your spouse, each can take care of other’s dignity. But when you become single at some point of time, you should take particular care of your dignity and self-respect. It is better to prepare for such an eventuality from now itself.

In whosoever care you are in (or planning to be in), you should always try to be of some help to them and get as less dependent on them as possible for your daily routines. You should always accept the changing times and should not impose your values on them.

GENERAL

There are several ways to enjoy your life without much financial, physical or mental strain. Try to update yourself with latest trends in fashion, food habits. Always have something to do: A hobby or something close to your heart. You may learn a game or a language. Keep your friendships alive. Read books. You may try and contact your old classmates or your long lost cousin. Attend marriages of children of your relatives, friends and neighbours. Enjoy your food. Have any food you like – but less often if it does not suit you. Do yoga, walking or some physical exercise for atleast 30 minutes a day. Get spiritual  (not necessarily relegious) and do meditate often.  Keep all your physical aids in good condition – like Hearing aids, Spectacles, Walking Sticks. Keep all your routine medicines easily accessible. Try and keep a diary and maintain to-do-lists even for your daily activities. Keep company with as many youngsters as possible.

Wishing you all senior citizens a very happy retired life with your spouse, care taker, relatives and friends. Let us all age gracefully, with good health, adequate wealth and enhanced dignity. Bye for now.

The Shrine of Death – By Divya Kumar

July 24, 2018

 

A Book Review

 

Shrine of Death

The Shrine of Death 
Kumar, Divya; Paperback (331 pp)
Published by Bloomsbury India (2018)

 

Congratulations to Divya Kumar for her first ever novel, (really?). The narration is so smooth and natural it is hard to believe it is her first novel. The suspense and mystery is maintained till the very end. Set in locales of Chennai city, the mood of the comparatively slow paced city is brought out well in dialogues. The professional and private lifestyle of neo-liberated women of India is well reflected in the narration. It was nice to know some of the historical perspectives of sculptures of Chola period. The mystery of the concerned sculptures is maintained well throughout. However, as a reader, one feels, some more intrigues could have been built into this mystery to kindle further interest in the topic, and perhaps, to enhance the scope for a sequel. One could have also used a few pictures to show an ancient Temple and with a few bronze idols of Chola period. The novel gains good momentum, after about 80 pages, when the super cop Gerard Ratnaraj appears on the scene. The linking of disappearance of a fiery young historian, Sneha, to the idol theft could also have been brought out more dramatically. Occult powers of Jai and the circumstances which led to the revelation of such powers in him are quite interesting and could have even been developed as a strong second track. Flashback of Prabha could have been given more elaborately. Tamil accented language is used quite effectively to bring out the respective characters alive. Overall it was a good read and augurs well for Divya’s progress as a story teller. CONGRATS, Divya!

 

L V Nagarajan

23 July 2018

 

 

 

 

Innovative Ideas 10, 11, 12 and 13

July 21, 2018

In my first write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up “Innovative Ideas 2, 3, 4 and 5”, I have proposed an elevator system with helical rails, a Number Lock with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. In the third write-up  “Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8, and 9”, I have given my innovative ideas for improvement of passenger convenience in the vast Railways network of India. I hvae already sent them to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the 4th in the series, I have given my ideas in several different areas benefitting the citizens in general.

Idea 10 – Elections Eligibility Test (EET)

We are all very much concerned about the quality of candidates contesting various elections and the quality of elected people to Parliament, Assemblies and Local Bodies. My suggestion to improve the situation will be to devise an Elections Eligibility Test (EET). Taking this test may be made voluntary initially. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) may devise such tests for different levels of governance. (more…)

Adik Maas in Luni-Solar Calendars of India

June 10, 2018

I am not sure how many of my readers are aware that we are in the 13th month of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. Though this is only the third month of this current Hindu Luni-Solar calendar, this month (from 16th May 2018 to 13th June 2018) is an extra month, called Adik-Jyeshta, and eventually we will have 13 months during this year in this luni-solar Hindu calendar. From 14th June 2018, we will have the 4th month of Luni-Solar Vilambi year and it will be called as Nija-Jyeshta. The current luni-solar year will range from on 18th March 2018 to 6th April 2019 (i.e. totally 384 days).  The names of the 13 months of current Vilambi year are:

Chaitra, Vaisaka, Adik-Jyeshta, Nija-Jyeshta, Ashada, Sravana, Bhadrapada, Aasvina, Karthika, Margasira, Pausha, Magha, Phalguna.

But why 13 months and 384 days are in this year? We are all aware that lunar months are based on the lunar cycle of 29.53 days between two new moons. An ‘Amanta’ lunar month ends on the new moon day and a new month begins on the next day. (Ama-anta: Ending in Amavasya, the New moon). Hence normally the lunar year will be of 354 days. This is 11 days short of a normal solar year. Hence, to synchronise with Solar year, approximately every third year an extra month (adik Maas) of 29.53 days is added making a year of 384 days. On an average, Adik Maas (or extra month) comes once in 2 years and 8.5 months. A lunar month is given the same name as the solar month in which the new moon occurs signalling the end of the lunar month. Since a solar month is generally of 30 days or more, there are occasions when two new moons occur within a solar month, one at the start and the other at the end. This results in the particular solar year having 13 new moons, instead of normal 12. This accounts for the 13th month or Adik-Maas (extra month). The lunar month starting on the first new moon of this solar month is designated as Adik-Maas with the same name as the next month with an adjective ‘Adik’ or extra. The next lunar month starting after 2nd new moon of the solar month, will also  have the same name, but with adjective ‘Nija’ or real.

During the current solar year of Vilambi, you may observe two new moon days in the second solar month of Vaikasi, (Rishaba or Vaisaka), one on 1st of Vaisaka (15th May 2018) and another one on 30th of Vaisaka (13th June 2018). Hence we have two months of Jyeshta named as Adik-Jyeshta, Nija-Jyeshta. Adik-Jyeshta Amavsasya is occurring in Solar month of Vaisaka itself as extra amavasya, and Nija-Jyeshta  Amavsaya, in Aani, Mithuna or Jyeshta Maasa. Please refer Tamil ‘Pambu’ Panchangam.

Similarly, a few of the shorter solar months of 29 days, (as in Margazhi, Paush and Magh), may, very rarely, not have any new moon at all. Such a solar month is known as ‘Kshaya maas’ or defective month. When this happens there will generally be two Adik maases, one in the month prior to, and another in the month subsequent to kshaya Maas. If Paush happens to be kshaya maas, then Kartika and Phalgun will have two Amavasyas each. Then the sequence will be, Adik Kartika, Nija-Kartika, Margasira, Magh, Adik-Phalgun, Nija-Phalgun. Lunar month of Paush will not exist at all and the year still having 13 months.

I have discussed only about Luni-Solar ‘Amanta’ calendar widely followed in South India and Maharashtra. A major variation of this is known as “Purnimanta calendars”, (purnima-anta: ending in Pournami, Full moon), which are followed in most of the Hindi belt in North India. It generally follows the same principle, including the names of the months. Following is an interesting point to note. Purnimanta months are named after the star that is brightest and closest to the moon, on the full moon day. Amanta calendar also adopted the same names.  Same names were adopted by the Solar system also, in addition to the names of the zodiac. In fact Kerala still go by Rasi names only for the solar months.

In the appendix, I have given a list of Regional Varieties of the Indian Calendars, as given by Helmer Aslaksen and Akshay Regulagedda.

The Government of India set up a committee to reform our calendars in 1955 with the renowned physicist Meghnad Saha as its chairman. The committee recommended, among other things, that the Indian Solar year should start on March 22, the vernal equinox, and the first month should be called Chaitra. It was adopted, with a lot of fanfare, as The Indian National Calendar known as ‘Saka Varsh’ in 1957. But the Union Govt under Sri Jawahar Lal Nehru failed to respect the existing system which was also based on scientific observations and principles. Our existing almanacs were described as “encyclopaedia of errors, superstitions and half truths”. Hence Saka calendar failed to take off. (Satyam Bhruyat, Priyam Bhruyat !!!) Even the current universal Gregorian calendar proposed in 1582 CE got adopted by England only in 1752 CE. But then, it was proposed by Pope Gregory, not by any Govt order.

Ref:

  1. Tamil Pambu Panchngam – விளம்பி வருஷ வாக்கிய பஞ்சாங்கம்
  2. Regional Varieties of the Indain Calendars –http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_regional.html
  3. Names of the Months in the Indian Calendars   http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_months.html
  4. Medieval mistake – by Biman Nath :FRONTLINE, Vol. 25 – 06 : Mar. 15-28, 2008;    http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2506/stories/20080328250610000.html

Appendix:

From: http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_regional.html

Regional Varieties of the Indian Calendars

 by:  Helmer Aslaksen and Akshay Regulagedda

State   Calendar   New Year
Andhra Pradesh   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Goa   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Karnataka   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Maharashtra   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Gujarat   Western amanta   One day after Deepavali
Gujarat – Kathiawar   Western amanta   Ashaadha S 1
Bihar   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Chattisgarh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Delhi   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Haryana   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Himachal Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Jammu and Kashmir   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Jharkhand   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Madhya Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Uttaranchal   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Uttar Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Rajasthan   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Punjab   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Punjab – Nanakshahi   (Solar) Sidereal; fixed relative to Gregorian calendar   14th March
Tamil Nadu   Solar   The Mesha samkranti
Kerala   Solar   Simha samkranti
Orissa   Solar   The Mesha samkranti
Assam   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti
Tripura   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti
West Bengal   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti

Note: The table is exhaustive neither in terms of calendars nor in terms of states. Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim were left out.

 

 

Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8 and 9

May 2, 2018

Ideas for Indian Railways

In my earlier write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up I have proposed an Elevator System with helical rails, a Number Lock  with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the third in the series, I am giving my innovative ideas for the improvement of passenger convenience in our vast Railways network in India. I hope to send this to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel.

6.0 Railway Reservation

In India, Railways is one of the most preferred and popular mode of travel between cities and towns. Since it is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport, the Indian Government is rightly giving high importance to this and offering a lot of incentives to promote its use. For the last few years I am observing a very disturbing trend which results in considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. The amount of last-day-cancellations is on the increase. For example, last December I was travelling from Bengaluru to Chennai by morning Shatabdi express. I was wait-listed and my reservation was confirmed only late on the previous day of my travel. When I came to the train, I found our carriage was almost 2/3rd empty. I thought it may get filled up at the next Bengaluru Cantonment Station. But it still remained half-empty. When I enquired with a co-passenger, he said this is the normal occupancy or slightly less on the particular day. It is apparently due to multiple bookings or safety bookings, mainly by software engineers travelling very frequently between Chennai and Bengaluru. They book multiple tickets 3 months in advance by default, and as the travel day approaches they review their need to travel and cancel the trip with minimum loss. Since the seats become vacant in the last moments, there are no takers, who are ready to travel at such short notice. This happens almost in all express trains between cities causing, as told earlier, considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. There is very simple solution as suggested below:

Booking Window:

  • Open only 30% of seats for reservation 3 months or 90 days, in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quota) for reservation 60 days in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quotas) for reservation 30 days in advance of travel date
  • Last 10% will be the Tatkal quota to be opened only 3 days in advance of travel date

You may compare this with the present practice of opening all the 90% at one stroke 90 days in advance. On very popular and crowded routes the 90% quota will be exhausted in the first 2 or 3 days. Any genuine traveler, who plans his journey, even 8o days in advance, will have to wait for 77 days before going for Tatkal booking. This will force him to think of other modes of transport.

Cancelling Window:

  • Anyone who cancels his reservation within 30 days of his booking, or 30 days in advance of his travel date, whichever is earlier, will get 100% refund including reservation charges. Only a nominal service charge of Rs 10 or so could be billed to him.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 29 days and 15 days in advance of his travel date will get 100% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 14 days and 5 days in advance of his travel date will get 75% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 4 days and 3 hours in advance of his travel date/time will get 50% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 3 hours in advance of his travel date or a few minutes after departure of train, will get only 25% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Any cancellation later than the above windows will get refunds at the discretion of Railway Superintendent of the respective stations.
  • After such cancellations as above, the vacated bookings should be allotted to the next passengers in the waiting list immediately at every stage, so that they have adequate time to prepare for their travel.

You may again compare this with present practice. Now even if somebody knows well enough that he will not be travelling on the booked date, he waits upto72 hours before departure of the train before cancelling the tickets. Resale of this ticket in such a short notice will not happen and eventually Railway loses a customer. With computerized booking, such intelligent choices are very easy and efficient to implement.

Hope Indian Railways considers my suggestion as above.

7.0 Bridging Platforms:

In Indian Railways, recently they have realized the tremendous advantages of double discharge platforms on either side of the train. Such double discharge platforms are being implemented in all major railway stations and terminuses. The idea of double discharge platforms relieves the passengers with the stress of deciding which side, to be ready with the luggage, to disembark from the train. Another stress for the travelling public is to crossover to the exit of the stations, or to another platform for catching a connecting train, using over bridges or under passes. With several luggages and along with family and kids it is always stressful. Here is my idea to improve this situation:

  • Provide retractable bridges between the platforms over the railway lines at three places across the length of the platform – at both ends and in the middle.
  • The bridges can be retracted as the train arrives at (or runs through) the particular track with required safety features like interlocked signaling, bells, lamps and whistles.
  • This may not be practicable in very busy stations with frequent arrival of trains. In such stations escalators and elevators are a must.

This will greatly avoid the risk of fatalities occurring during illegal line-crossing which happens too frequently in India.

8.0 Train Toilet – 1

There are many problems with toilets in train: Cleanliness, Wetness, convenience, washing facilities, safety grips etc. In addition when the trains are halted in a station, yard or on a loop-line, use of toilets makes the station more dirty, unhealthy and unsightly. Of course there is a notice of request to the passengers not to use the toilets when the train is halted at stations. But the rule is rarely adhered to. Here is a solution at least for the last mentioned problem.

  • Toilets should be prevented from usage when the train is not moving,
  • To do this we may use an intelligent movement sensor to be interlocked with the toilet latch
  • When the train slows down to a very low speed, preparatory to halting, the movement sensor will lock the latch to prevent opening from outside. Anyone using the toilet will be able to open the latch from inside to let himself out. But as he closes the door, the latch will again get interlocked with the movement sensor.
  • As the train picks up speed, the latch will get decoupled from the interlock and get released for opening from outside.
  • The maintenance staff can be provided with a special key to open the toilet even when interlocked, for cleaning and maintenance.

9.0 Train Toilet – 2

All 2-Tier, 3–Tier and Chair-car carriages have totally 4 toilets, 2 each at the respective two ends. It may be better to convert 2 of them (one each from either end, into one male and one female urinal). Urinals are more frequently used, easier to clean and require less space, by accommodating both urinals in the space of one toilet. It will make it easier to keep the toilets clean.

However one major problem is with the solid refuse of the toilets. In most of the trains these toilets discharge waste through an opening, onto the track area itself. This corrodes the track fittings and risks the hygiene of track workers and inspectors. Here is my solution to this problem:

  • It could be better to compact the solid refuse in the under carriage of the train itself.
  • These compacted solid refuse stored in exchangeable drums can be replaced as a part of train cleaning and maintenance process at the terminal stations, or even in a designated cleaning stopovers en-route.
  • These drums of solid refuse can be used as bio-fuel and fertilizer for various applications
  • For safety of conservancy workers, we may automate the process suitably, (eg) auto-sealing of the waste drums as they remove them, integrated cleaning sprays for the toilet discharge area etc.

I Hope these ideas get considered seriously enough. They may be suitably engineered to increase the passenger convenience and safety many fold.