Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Deluge – A Sequel?

October 19, 2016

A New Chapter

I am again returning to the Novel ‘Deluge – Agasthya Secrets’ by Dr Ramesh Babu. It is about a year since the Novel has been published. It is an ancient mystery novel set in modern times, in the style of Dan Brown. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and had recommended the same to many of my friends. I had also written a review of the same, available elsewhere in my blog site. I felt it required a final chapter to tie up a few loose ends and also to give scope for a sequel, if ever, in the future. Initially I thought this added chapter, when read alone, will spoil the suspense element of the original narration and hence, I did not publish the same in my blog site. Now I have made a few changes which will hold the eventual suspense, and at the same time will induce the readers to read the whole novel. To begin with, I am introducing the important characters of the novel before going for the finale proposed by me.

Swathi: A medical intern starting on a career in medical research in micro biology for finding new antibiotics and pro-biotics. She teams up with an American professor in finding herbal antibiotics and takes the help of Ashwin, for locating herbal plants near Rameswaram.

Ashwin: An IIT(M) graduate in Marine Engineering and on internship at Indian Maritime University at Chennai, interested in Marine biology and Archeology.

Ravi: Director of Indian Maritime University at Chennai, a Marine Archeologist, guiding Ashwin in his internship.

MARCOS: Short form for Marine Commandos, a special operation unit of Indian Navy.

Shivani: Joined the team of Ashwin/Swathi, as a member of MARCOS, a marine commando unit, to prevent a possible terrorist attack from the sea, off the coast of Rameswaram.

Lee: Brings along a mini nuclear submarine Triton-1000 from China to help the team (!?!), in under water exploration.

 

THE FINALE

27th March 2016, 6.00 AM

After seeing off Ashwin/Swathi/Shivani trio, leaving for high seas by speed boat, Ravi was lucky to find a modest inn near Uvari itself and had a nap over night. But he got up early at 5 AM, with the village getting busy so early in the next morning. He tried to call Ashwin/Swathi, but their phones were out of range. He packed up his things and left, to take a tour of the shore temple as he had planned earlier. As he approached the Temple he again tried Ashwin/Swathi, as he was getting worried about them. He was looking at the sea intermittently for any sign of them. When he was trying his phone again, he sensed some movement in the sea. When he looked up with hope, he could only see a floating object slowly swaying towards the shore. It was semi-circular in shape and as it came nearer he realized it as a lifebuoy. But why is it floating vertically, as though some thing heavy is hanging from it? He approached the object and pulled the same to the shore. It was a lifebuoy with the inscription, TRITON 1000. Is it not the family of mini submarines, used for under water explorations, he suspected. As he pulled it completely, he saw a heavy object entangled with lifebuoy through some wild sea weeds. It was looking like a wheel guard of a heavy vehicle made of blue PVC material. It had a slit opening in which a black object was remaining stuck. On closer look he recognized it as the stone tablet Ashwin was handling the previous day. Now he was sure something serious has happened to Ashwin trio in the high seas. He again tried to contact them without success. He noticed the tablet now to have the inscriptions erased on both sides.

Sadly Ravi walks towards the shore temple ruins, after safe guarding his finds from the sea in his car. He went inside the temple ruins, to where sanctum sanctorum should have been. There was no Sivalinga – perhaps, it has been moved to the new Swayambu Linga temple nearby. The entrance to the sanctum was somewhat intact. He could see the carvings of Sages Patanjali and Vyagrapadar on either side of the entrance. But he was pleasantly surprised to see carvings of sage Agasthya below Patanjali and of sage Tirumoolar below Vyagrapadar. This carving of Agasthya was exactly the same as what they saw in Tiruchuli, again with the typical signature of Agasthiyar at the bottom, in Harappan script. Oh! What is this big space beneath the Agasthyar’s carving? It looks as though a tile of granite has been removed from this space. However on the other side there was a granite peace in place below Tirumoolar, though slightly damaged. Just as he was wondering about this, Sun’s rays started falling on these carvings. And in the sunlight he could see faintly a similar map in the space below Agasthya, as he has seen earlier on the tablet which he just now retrieved from the sea (with all inscriptions erased on both sides). But the Brahmi scripts on the map were not same. It did not take long for him to realize the map with the scripts was a mirror image of the original. Does it mean that the tablet originally belonged to this temple?

Ravi came hurrying to his car where he has stored the tablet and the lifebuoy. As he was about to return to the ruins with the tablet, he received a call from Swathi and was relieved to know they are safe. He asked them to come over to Uvari for the surprising revelation. As they arrived there in about twenty minutes along with Marcos team, they explained about what happened to them at the Spot-X. When Ravi showed them the tablet and lifebuoy of TRITON 1000, they all guessed that Shivani and Lee might have been involved in the mysterious explosion that occurred below the sea. Could they have ejected themselves and escaped? Or?

Ravi, Ashwin and Swathi approached the stone tablet in the car with all reverence. When they lifted it out into the sun, they could again see the map in the sun light at a particular angle. Ravi immediately reversed the tablet – Yes, they could see the inscription on the reverse also in the early morning sun light. Apparently the ancient chemical used for inscription is able to show up under ultra violet rays of the early morning sun!  They carried the Tablet as though it is a divine idol and tried to place it in the space below the Agasthya carving in the shore temple. Like a strong magnet the frame attracted the tablet with perfect fitting. It may require some force to take the same thing out again. Ravi observed a smile in the face of sage Agasthya. Or was it his imagination? But what is it about a similar tablet below Thirumoolar? Ravi made a mental note to come back soon to the site with ultraviolet lamp and other accessories to do further research.

With the sun still falling on the temple they could still read the inscription shining in the ultraviolet rays.

ஊழி அடைத்த உலக நாதன்

ஆழி வேலெறிந்த அய்யன் தலம்

Uuzhi adaitha Ulaga naathan

Aazhi vel erintha ayyan thalam

Ravi understood. Yes,

“Know this place from where the Swami

  Threw his spear to seal Tsunami”


 

(PS): I shared this proposed final chapter with the author Mr. Ramesh Babu. He liked this so much, he is proposing to include this finale in the next edition of the book. In his own words, “One reader Mr. L. Nagarajan has suggested an entire new chapter to my novel. It fits in so well just after the climax and also follows my style of narration! Hats off!” (https://plus.google.com/101148246018050836170). You may get this book ‘Deluge (Agasthya Secrets)’, at the following sites:

https://notionpress.com/read/deluge

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/deluge-20

http://bookstore.bookcountry.com/Products/SKU-001042017/Deluge.aspx

https://www.amazon.com/Deluge-Agasthya-Secrets-Ramesh-Babu-ebook/dp/B014XUEVR0

 

Dan Brown’s Inferno, the hell

August 19, 2016

I just finished (Aug 2016) reading the novel Inferno by Dan Brown. When I finished reading The Amber Room by Steve Berry, I wrote a blog about similar mysteries that abound in ancient and medieval India. I invoked English language writers of Indian origin to write such mysteries a-la Dan-Brown-Style, but with Indian artifacts and mysteries. (Please refer to my blog.

https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ancient-mystery-thriller/). My thirst for the same was quenched somewhat by a novel ‘Deluge – Agasthya’s Secrets’, by Dr. Ramesh Babu of Chennai. (https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/dr-ramesh-babu-indian-version-of-dan-brown/).

This new novel ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown is based on a biological ‘terrorism’ of scientific age placed in the surroundings of medieval mysteries of Ottoman Empire covering present day Florence of Italy and Istanbul of Turkey.

This novel is heavily based on Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s master piece ‘The Devine Comedy’ consisting of three cantos – Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, describing the path of the dead/soul towards hell, punishment and finally perhaps the heaven. There are many articles available in the net comparing this piece of literature with similar ideas represented in ancient Hindu scriptures by Saint Veda Vyasa in his Garuda Purana. Some of them even suggest that Dante was inspired by this description of Hell (and the travel of soul with its pseudo-body through the hell to the Paradise). I wonder if any other Indian  literature has given annotations of this work in Sanskrit or any other modern languages. I am vaguely familiar with a story in Mahabharat where King Yutishtra, with all his integrity and moral equipoise, is made to undergo a horrible view of the Hell, as a punishment for his abetment of a lie in killing Aswatthama in the war. Any extract of description such a view, is it available, I wonder.

(Those who have not read this novel ‘Inferno’ and are planning to read the same, may please avoid reading further, to retain the mystery and suspense of the Novel.)

In this novel there are some unexplained ambiguities as below

  • How can a single type of vector virus would do equal harm to the fertility of both men and women? Evidently, their reproductive systems are quite different.
  • Neither it is necessary to affect random one-third of both male and female population equally, to reduce the birth rate by a third.
  • Hence it is better to say that the vector-virus modifies the DNA of whole population but switches on at random only in one-third of male population. This will reduce the birth rate by one-third and gradually reduce the population by a third, as this DNA-Virus from even unaffected males gets inherited by the subsequent population. It will be again switched on at random in one third of males in every generation.
  • Though a lot of anxiety is expressed by all the characters in the novel about this biological ‘terror’, it appears to be a very humane way of controlling the population. It is same as vasectomy and tubectomy, which are of course, voluntary. This type of population control is normally adopted in animals and pests.
  • The characters in the novel, opposed to this type of ‘terrorism’ initially, come around and accept the same and think of making it reversible.

However the novel is quite interesting and highly readable. I understand it is also coming as a movie soon with Indian actor Irfan Khan in the role of Provost, the off-shore expediter and the secondary antagonist in the novel.

PS: I remember playing a board game in my village (India) on the nights of Gokul Ashtami and Shivratri known as Parama Pada Shobanam. It is a kind of a snake and ladder game where we start from hell and pass through several evil images and then on to happy images and finally to the heavenly images of Gods.(i.e. Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise).  On the way we encounter many snakes (named after villains of Hindu epics) and ladders of good conduct and behaviors. I wish somebody adds an image of this board to this blog. (LVN)

 

 

Dr. Ramesh Babu, Indian Version of DAN BROWN

March 22, 2016

Deluge

Agasthya Secrets

A novel by Dr. Ramesh Babu

A REVIEW by L V Nagarajan

An Indian version of Dan Brown has risen in the horizon. Many of us might have read Dan Brown’s Novels Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Digital Fortress and the like. These novels are based on ancient mysteries being interpreted and used in the present days for good or bad deeds. These mysteries involve codes, puzzles and secrets that existed in the context of medieval European History. We always felt Indian history and culture, being much older, offers much more scope for such novels.

Please refer to my blog:

(https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ancient-mystery-thriller/) wherein I have given some ideas on such themes.

 

Dr. Ramesh Babu’s novel DELUGE is a very successful attempt to create a full length fiction of ancient mystery thriller set in modern India. He has made an excellent mix of several ancient intrigues like, Nadi jyothish, Siddha philosophy, mythology of Lord Siva as Tripurandaka, mystical land of Lemuria, ancient Tamil-Brahmi scripts etc. This novel is about events set to happen in the near future. The parallel story of devas and asuras of yore and merging it with the tsunami of Lemuria keep the reader quite engaged. The synthesis of Vedic Culture and Tamil Culture has been brought out very well in the narration. Extremist views in Politics and Religion has also been brought out convincingly. Narration is very absorbing and it is difficult to believe that it is author’s first full length novel.

I recommend this novel to all my friends for a good read.

Following are the details

Deluge

Agasthya Secrets

By Dr. Ramesh Babu, MS, MCh, FRCS Glas, FRCS Edin, FRCS Paed
Professor of Paediatric Urology,
SRMC, Chennai.

https://notionpress.com/read/deluge

Nagarajan

Swatch Bharath Abhyan

October 1, 2015

Swatch Bharath Abhyan

(Clean India Campaign)

It is just one year since the above campaign was launched by our Prime Minister Shri Modi. Many reviews of ‘progress-so-far’ have appeared in print, visual, electronic and social media. Ignoring the politically biased views, generally there is a concern that the campaign has not achieved the desired result so far. Mr. Modi has perhaps anticipated such apathy to the campaign and hence has given himself and the government 5 full years up to 2019 to achieve reasonable cleanliness. Still it is a good idea to review the ‘progress-so-far’ and take some positive actions to improve the progress based on our experience till now.

What makes the public places and surroundings unclean? There are about 10 types of wastes generated by individuals, families and institutions. They are:

Kitchen/Garden waste

Personal and Health care waste

Stationery waste

Plastic waste

Packing waste

Party/event waste

Industrial waste

Construction waste

Electrical/Electronic waste

Metal waste

General public need a lot of guidance and facilities to dispose of these wastes appropriately. I am attempting here to give my own ideas on how to dispose of Plastic Wastes in an environmentally friendly way.

  1. Single plastic bags should never be disposed of on their own. It is more likely to fly off anywhere and block any drain or air passage and block water seepage to the ground and below.
  2. Any thin plastic bag should be disposed off tying its ends together in to a bundle so that it cannot balloon and fly off.
  3. At home a number of such tied up thin plastic bags should all be gathered together in to a larger plastic bag/bundle and disposed of separately. This will enable and encourage the trash pickers to collect them and deposit them for recycling.
  4. Thicker plastic bags should be reused as much as possible. There should be municipal collection facilities where we can deposit them, after packing them neatly.
  5. Waste plastic sheets (thin and thick) should be treated the same was as bags.
  6. Plastic bottles should also be deposited in municipal collection facilities as above.
  7. Disused plastic containers and other thicker materials like boxes, mugs, buckets, furniture and fittings should all be gathered together and handed over to trash dealers personally.
  8. Housing societies and apartment complexes should have a dry waste collection day, once in a month (say, last Saturday of the month). On this day all the residents should deposit their plastic waste material collected as above in to a common bin provided for this purpose. The trash dealers may be requested to collect the same at the end of the day.
  9. Municipal ward offices should announce one day in a month (say, last Sunday of the month) as dry waste collection day and a truck should go around the ward collecting such wastes.
  10. The slums and low cost housing areas should be more actively involved in this Clean India Campaign, for it to succeed.

Such methods of waste disposal as above should be evolved for all types of wastes. They should be publicized periodically in all media, especially the vernacular ones.

Let us all have a Clean India and a Green India. Vande Mataram.

Ways To Overcome Negative Emotions

September 17, 2015

This is an extract from ‘The Speaking Tree’ columns of Times of India dated 31 Aug 2015, by Mr. Sanjay Teotia.

“Emotional balance is vital for personal well-being and the health of our communities. The path to freedom is paved with positive emotions. Negative emotions prevent inner transformation” – We do want to control negative emotions, but HOW is the question. This article suggests some logical methods for the same, which I want to share with my readers. I have listed them below:

  1. For emotional balance, never react suddenly to anything. First think, then, try to find out facts, assess the situation and then give your opinion or take action.
  2. Never be judgmental. Try to find out positive things or reasons in negative and adverse situations also.
  3. Always try to speak positive things. Emotional balance is genetic as well as acquired.
  4. It also depends on your group or friends circle. If you are surrounded by negative-thinking people who are always complaining and criticising others, then you too tend to think negatively. So try to be in the company of positive people.
  5. Emotional balance occurs when we allow ourselves to feel whatever comes up, without stifling it or being overwhelmed by it, and learn to accept our feelings without judgment.
  6. Always avoid confrontation, try to find out the middle path. Negative emotions create negative aura and spread negative vibes from the person who has negative emotions.
  7. Prayer, meditation, faith in God and kind heartedness help you remain positive.
  8. Adverse conditions or tough times come in everyone’s life but nothing is permanent. As the good time passes, in the same way bad times will also pass. Have faith in God, as it protects us from negative emotions, negative psychology, negative thinking and negative perception.
  9. Negative emotions makes the person sadist by nature, he never wants to see others happy. Such persons have complaints about God also. When they are in difficult situations they ask God, `Why me in this situation?’. They forget their fun times. They never said `Why me?’ when they went through happy times.

My Thanks to Mr. Sanjay Teotia.

Naganathar Temple at Kochadai

July 1, 2014

2

Kochadai Naganathar Sthala Puranam

Image 

மதுரா நகராக்ரஸ்த நாளிகேர வனாலயம் …

பாரத்வாஜ குலோத்பூத மகனீயை ப்ரதிஷ்டிதம் ….

திராவிடீகவி சார்தூல வெங்குஸ்வாமி கவீடிதம் ….

மகாபூர்ண குலோத்பூத சோரநாத கவிஸ்துதம் …

நாகநாதம் அஹம் வந்தே

                              கோச்சடை க்ஷேத்ர வாஸினம்.

 

Kochadai is a small village near Madurai. Now it has become a suburb of Madurai Municipal Corporation. In this town on the banks of river Vaigai, there is a small, beautiful temple for the powerful deity of Lord Naganatha. He is worshipped both as Naga Bhushana of Lord Shiva and Naga Sayana of Lord Vishnu. Here is a brief account of the history of this temple.

About 150 years ago, (shall we say, 1860s AD) a well-to-do Brahmin of Bharatwaja Gothra was living in Madurai, in Kaka Thoppu agraharam. He owned a big coconut farm near Kochadai, on the banks of river Vaigai. He used to visit this farm very often. During one of his visits he happened to stay late in the afternoon. Hence he decided to perform his sandya-vandana there. He was performing Gayathri Japam with his eyes closed. After the japam when he opened his eyes, he was startled to see a big cobra with a wide open hood in front of him. He decided not to panic. He calmly completed his sandya-vandana. Surprisingly the cobra was also waiting. When he observed the cobra keenly, he found that it was sticking out his fangs and there was a thorn stuck deep into his fangs. The cobra was obviously in pain, not being able to get rid of the thorn. The bold Brahmin used the stem of his uttarini (spoon), and succeeded in digging out the thorn. The cobra was visibly relieved. But to Brahmin’s surprise it started circum ambulating him. After doing three pradakshans, it stuck the ground three times as though doing a sathya-pramaan. Then the cobra had gone away.

After returning home, the Brahmin narrated the event to his family and they were all very surprised. The same night Lord Naganatha, in his 5-headed glory appeared in the Brahmin’s dream and appreciated him for saving the life of one of his clan. The Lord promised him that no harm will come to any future generations of the Brahmin, from any snake or from any poison. The Lord asked the Brahmin to build a temple for him in the same spot at Kochadai and to adopt Lord Naganatha, as their family deity in future. With His divine grace, the Kochadai Naganatha Swamy Temple was constructed by the family at the present site. The family, which had Saptha Matha or Saptha Kannika as their Kula Devata (A small temple near Siruthyur, Lalgudi), had since started offering prayers to Lord Naganatha at Kochadai. Even today a few of our family members visit Vaishnavi (Ila-madicchi Amman) kovil in Siruthyur and pray just to keep the link. Otherwise the family have adopted Lord Naganatha as their Kula Devata and prays at Kochadai. They do Samaradhanai at the Temple premises ahead of any marriage or upanayanam ceremonies in the family. These days, a few of our family members even do Mudi-kanikkai there. Some do Anga-pradkshan also there.

One of the descendents of the Brahmin, Dindugal Sri L. A. Vengusamy Iyer, had composed Tirukochadai Naganathan Stotra Venba in 1957, consisting of 51 Venbas in Tamil on Lord Naganatha. This is being regularly recited at the shrine. Another Sanskrit scholar, (and pattrachariar of Santhana Gopala Krishna Swamy Temple at Sholavandan, near Madurai), Br. Sri. Kalla Piran had composed Kochadai Naganatha Stotram in Sanskrit consisting of twenty two slokams. Many in our family have included this also in their daily prayers at home.

Image

(The above incident was told to me by my father when I was a young boy. It will be nice if some in our community could corroborate/supplement this narration with more facts, names and dates – L V Nagarajan, 2012) 

Soul tied to physical body

May 28, 2014

Soul tied to physical body

L V Nagarajan

1.0 Soul, in a spiritual context

Last spring, I attended a spiritual workshop conducted in our neighborhood. In one of the sessions the Guru involved me in a demo conversation to bring out the concept of Soul or Atma.

He asked me : “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am Nagarajan”

“No that is your name. I know it. But who are You?”

After some thought I replied: “I am an Electrical Engineer.”

“No that is your profession. But who are YOU?”

After some more thought I pointed to my body somewhere near the heart and said – “This is Me.”

“No that is your body. But who are Y-O-U? Can you tell me who are you without referring to your extensions like name, profession, your body and such things. They are all temporary and subject to change.”

“How? Body can change ….?”

Guru did not reply. He went on to describe Soul or Atma in a spiritual context and how it will finally merge with the superior SOUL or PARAMATMA. But I was intrigued by the unanswered question – like name and profession, can you change your body also?

2.0 Soul, in Yogic context

I was surprised to find the answer to this question recently through the columns of Times of India. Writing in ‘The Speaking Trees’ of 30th April 2014, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says: “Breath is not just the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. For different levels of thought and emotion that you go through, your breath takes on different types of patterns. When you are angry, peaceful, happy or sad, your breath goes through subtle changes. Whichever way you breathe, that is the way you think. Whichever way you think, that is the way you breathe. Breath can be used as a tool to do many things with body and mind. Pranayama is the science whereby consciously breathing in a particular way, the very way you think, feel, you understand and experience life can be changed”. He further adds: “Breath is like the hand of the Divine. You don’t feel it. It is not the sensations caused by the air. This breath that you do not experience is referred to as Koorma Nadi. It is a string which ties you with this body, an unbroken string. If i take away your breath, you and your body will fall apart because the being and the body are bound by the Koorma Nadi. This is a big deception. There are two, but they are pretending to be one. There are two people here, the body and being, two diametrically opposite ones, but they pretend that they are one. If you travel through breath, deep into yourself, to the deepest core of breath, it will take you to that point where you are actually tied to the body. Once you know where and how you are tied, you can untie it at will. Consciously, you can shed the body as effortlessly as you would shed your clothes. When you know where your clothes are tied, it is easy to drop them. When you don’t know where it is tied, whichever way you pull, it does not come off. You have to tear them apart. Similarly, if you do not know where your body is tied to you, if you want to drop it, you have to damage or break it in some way. But if you know where it is tied, you can very clearly hold it at a distance. When you want to drop it, you can just drop it consciously. Life becomes very different. When somebody willfully sheds the body completely, we say this is mahasamadhi. This is mukti or ultimate liberation. It is a great sense of equanimity where there is no difference between what is inside the body and what is outside the body. The game is up. This is something every yogi longs for. Consciously or not, every human being is working towards this.”

Yes, here we have the answer. You are different from your body. I find this as a Yogic or elemental way looking at your soul. A yogic practice to realize oneself separated from one’s own body. This is perhaps the way Sri Ramana Maharshi found the answer for his monumental question WHO AM I? Subsequently he even achieves out-of-body experience and preaches these concepts to thousands of his followers and devotees. All this said and done, this is still not a complete answer to my question – ‘Like name and profession, can you change your body also?’

3.0 Soul, in a scientific context

Idly I turned my eyes away from ‘The Speaking Trees’ to the next page of the same issue of Times of India. To my surprise I found the missing part of the answer in another news item on science pages. It talks of ‘A device to let you ‘virtually’ swap your body with another’. Here goes the report: 

 “A group of artists based in Barcelona has created an unusual virtual reality device that can allow you to experience what it might be like to step into the skin of another person. The device, called ‘The Machine to be Another’ lets people experience life in another person’s body. Participants in a body swapping experiment at the ‘Be Another’ lab, don an ‘Oculus Rift’ virtual reality headset with a camera rigged to the top of it. The video from each camera is piped to the other person, so what you see is the exact view of your partner. If she moves her arm, you see it. If you move your arm, she sees it. To get used to seeing another person’s body without actually having control of it, participants start by moving their arms and legs very slowly, so that the other can follow along. Eventually, this slow movement becomes comfortable, and participants start to feel as though they are living in another person’s body, BBC News reported.”

Is the above an attempt to look at your soul from scientific aspect? Now we can look up to Jagat Guru Adi Sankara. He had achieved this feat of entering another body but without the aid of such devices as above. Even some lesser mortals have achieved this feat and this is known as one of ashta-ma-siddis, the eight great feats. In Tamil it is known as Koodu-vittu-koodu-paaydal, or ‘from one shell to another’.

We may meditate on this.

Ref:

  1. THE SPEAKING TREE, Life Breath & The Ultimate Expansion, by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Time of India 30th April 2014, page 20.
  2. A device to let you virtually swap bodies with another, BBC News report,  Time of India 30th April 2014, page 21

LVN/28 May 2014

Ancient Mystery Thriller

January 28, 2014

Ancient Mystery Thriller

(by L V Nagarajan)

I have just finished a novel by Steve Berry titled The Amber Room. It is a novel about a mysterious art piece known as Amber Room, apparently pilfered by Germans from Russia during World War II.  It is a whole room paneled all over by Amber pieces carrying exquisite carvings in dazzling colours. The novel describes the hard chase by legal and illegal art collectors of the world to find this missing piece of art. This book is recommended by none other than Dan Brown, the author of Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons etc. After reading these novels involving ancient mysteries, intrigues, puzzles and secrets, mostly of European culture and history, I felt why such novels are not written with Indian theme. There are enormous amount of such material in ancient and very ancient Indian history and culture. I wish authors of Indian origin like, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri or Arvind Adiga would take up such themes in their future works. In Tamil, Indra Soundar Rajan could make an excellent narration. I have attempted here to give a few ingredients for such a novel.

Ancient Treasures

As many Indians know, Anantha Padmanabha Temple in Trivandram, Kerala is one of the richest shrines in the world. It has got treasures of art and other riches stored in their underground vaults. They were recently opened for judicial inventory. Even so, one of the underground vaults could not be opened as there are no visible locks for the strong art-full door. The legend is: the vault is locked by a special mantra recitation known as Naga Bandham (Cobra Lock). It can be opened by only a counter recitation of another mantra known as Garuda Moksham (Falcon key), if at all anybody knows it these days. The vault is believed to be protected by the divine Anantha himself who is the multi-headed cobra serving as a recliner for Lord Padmanabha, a form of Vishnu. If anybody forces open this vault many calamities are forecast. Hence even the Supreme Court of India left this vault alone. This vault apparently contains highly valuable treasures and secrets.

When India was under Mughal invasion and occupation, many Hindu dynasties hid their treasures in such temple vaults. Later on these vaults were locked and sealed in various ways, like camouflaging, walling-up, coded locks etc. There are legends of many such treasure vaults in many temples especially in South India. During the Mughal rule and the later British rule, some of these vaults were pilfered and treasures moved to different parts of the world. We only know about a few like Mayurasan (Peacock Throne), Kohinoor Diamond and Sivapuram Nataraja. Many other vaults are still remaining unopened and un-explored.

(Please refer: http://www.boydom.com/2013/03/21/top-10-alleged-indian-treasures/)

Secret passages and escapes

There are many legends about secret caves, tunnels and escape routes used by ancient rulers of India to hide their treasures from their enemies, citizens, even descendents and other claimants. They even used them as hiding places with all basic necessities provided for. Unfortunately the present day Indians are not good explorers. Neither, they take sufficient pride of, or care for, their ancient treasures and monuments. Due to this, these tunnels and caves remain totally unexplored. And some of them are even demolished for other purposes.  We have heard of some tunnels as below:

From Nayakar Mahal Madurai to Tiruvedagam Temple 10 miles away

From Srirangam Temple to Rockfort temple in Trichy

From Mysore palace to Chamundi Hills

From Amber Palace, Jaipur to uphill Jai Garh Fort. (Barely a small portion of this tunnel is uncovered)

Secret Codes          

There are many works of literature and poetry which have different secret messages encoded in them.  The words of poetry are split and combined in different ways to encode messages. Other methods include numerical codes, reverse reading etc. There are poems which can be read entirely in the reverse to give a different message. There are formal coding procedures like Katapayadi Sankhya to encode messages. As children we have used what was called Ka-language where every word in a sentence will be preceded by ‘Ka’ syllable. There were people who were very good at that. Another way was to interchange the first two syllables of every word, (e.g) Mantra will be pronounced as Namtra or Tranma. There were also extensive sign and symbolic languages used, where symbols of Swastika, Om, Trishul, Conch are employed. Hasta mudras (hand gestures) convey many ideas and emotions without any spoken word and they are employed even today in Indian dance forms.

A famous secret is kept as a secret even today – the Secret of Chidambaram or Chidambara Rahasyam. This secret is interpreted in three different levels, but still remaining a mystery, yet to be solved. Beyond the statue of Nataraja at Chidambaram Temple is hidden, the real sanctum sanctorum. On occasions this sanctum is exposed to perform special prayers, by unveiling the curtain covering the same. What is inside – NOTHING! According to Hindu tradition there is a fifth element in addition to the four known to other cultures, Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. The fifth element is Akash, or Ether, i.e., the space containing the entire universe. The god of Chidambaram is said to represent this Space element, just like the other four known temples dedicated to the other four elements. Hence only Space is worshiped in the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. This is a religious explanation of the Secret. Philosophically, it is explained as a representation of the formless GOD. But there is a scientific explanation also. In Hindu tradition Sakthi or energy is represented by a Goddess. In her formless representation, she is known as a DOT or a Bindu, wherein the whole energy of the universe is concentrated. In Chidambaram, the male, ‘SIVA, the SPACE’ interacts with his consort ‘Sakthi, the DOT’, to create all the matter in this universe, by creating a big explosion or the Big-Bang. That is the secret message hidden behind the veil! People are still looking beyond these explanations to find the real secret hidden. Will it ever be exposed?

Religious rites and procedures

Sacred Hindu Texts like vedas and upanishads are known to encode great scientific principles, some of which are still not fully decoded.  There is an entire sect of veda known as Atharvana veda, which is reported to contain many procedures used for psychotherapy and black magic (and white magic!). It also has chapters on various armory (empowered by mantras) used in warfare. The Tantric applications of Hindu religious rites are sometimes very mysterious and frightful. There are also some folk-arts and practices which are meant for certain special occasions – to induce or remove emotions such as anger, fear, sleep, madness etc. “Inception” of thoughts and ideas in human mind have been tried successfully in ancient days using dedicated mantras and procedures. Garuda Purana another Hindu text describes the aspects of Gemology. In another part it describes the punishments to be meted out for various crimes committed by humans.

Mantras, Yantras and Tantras

Mantras, Yantras and Tantras are a few of the Hindu religious practices. There are apparently hundreds of mantras (recitations) to invoke the divine and natural forces, either in favour of yourself or against your adversary. It is believed that there are also counter-mantras to cancel the effects of earlier mantras. Yantras (symbols) are also used to invoke the divine (and demonic) forces to enter and stay in those symbols. They are used for meditation and prayer and also for ill effects. These yantras are believed to protect the people and places against evil forces. Yantras vary from simple to very complex geometrical patterns either drawn on paper, or on the floor, or imprinted on copper plates. Some of them are even said to contain secret texts and messages. In Indian religious tradition Kolams (or rangolis, elaborate decorative patterns drawn on the floor or on a pedestal) play an important role. Tantras (Mysticals) are special practices involving the way a mantra is recited, the hand and bodily gestures, special anointments and accompaniments of sounds of Conch, bells, drums and other musical instruments. It also uses aspects of sex and sexual symbols for special effects. In the 21st century, we may ignore these things as no more than superstitions. However, we cannot deny that they were widely prevalent till the end of 19th century in India. Even now, they are practiced at least as rituals in many temples, religious centres and social and religious festivals. There were many yogic and mystic experiences of transplantation of souls between bodies and out-of-body experiences.

A Bija-Akshara is a seed-letter and is a very powerful Mantra. Every Deity or Devata has his or her own Bija-Akshara. The greatest of all Bija-Aksharas is OM or Pranava. It is the symbol of the (supreme soul) Paramatman Himself. Generally a Bija-Mantra consists of a single letter but sometimes it constitutes several syllables. Some Bija-Mantras are made up of compound letters, such as the Mantra ‘Hreem’. Their meaning is subtle and mystical. Ham, Yam, Ram, Vam and Lam are the Bija aksharas of the five elements, namely Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, respectively.

(Ref: http://www.dhyanfoundation.com/bija-akshara.php)

Great Tsunamis and lost City

In very ancient literary history, there are mentions of a great tsunami in which a large track of land south of the present India was lost to the sea. This land was known as Lemuria. However there is no geological or archeological evidence to prove the existence of this hypothetical  land mass referred to frequently in ancient Tamil literature. More recently around 400-900 AD, another tsunami was blamed for disappearance of Poompuhar, a coastal capital city of great Chola kingdom. Archeological excavation do support this fact of history.

Sectarian and religious conflicts       

Throughout the ancient history of India there were regional, sectarian and religious conflicts between different dynasties, communities and religious sects. These led to destruction and abduction of many symbols and treasures of the victims, which are even to the present day, not traceable. Some major conflicts are as below:

Conflicts among  kingdoms – such as Chera, Chola, Pandyas, pallavas, Chalukyas and rajaputs

Conflicts among religious sects – such as Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Kaapalikas, Jains and Buddhists

Conflicts beyond the seas – Cholas towards Srilanka and Indonesian islands, Yavanas (Romans on the Indian ocean)

A possible theme for a Novel (as seen by L V Nagarajan)

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is under the total control a special sect of Brahmins known as Dikshits. According to religious history God Siva himself has ordained this religious order and established the sect known as Thillai-3000, a set of 3000 priests. Their religious practices are special and different from others. Due to mis-use and mis-rule, this sect has now reduced to just 300 people, barely fighting to save this tradition. Many of them may not even know the full texts of their religious order, let alone their obvious and hidden meanings. Under such circumstances, our protagonist is the second son of a very senior Dikshit, who is no more. Both brothers were very bright students of their father and had learned many religious texts from him and others. They still have in their possession their father’s religious work books. Elder brother becomes a traditional Dikshit in the Nataraja Temple. But the younger one pursues his science education and obtains his Masters degree in Astro Physics. He joins the National Physical Laboratory and starts doing research on the origin of universe. The kind of scientific literature he gets access to, simply amazes him. Many of the postulates and ideas remind him of some of his father’s texts and explanations. He decides to get back to Chidambaram and to continue his religious research with the help of his more learned bother. Some of his later correspondences with the world scientific community evince a great amount of interest. He is awarded a grant from Ford Foundation to continue his research. With the help of his brother he is able to penetrate the secrecy of several other Dikshits and their hold on some ancient religious literature. He gets access to several secret vaults in the Chidambaram Temple and in nearby areas in the town of Chidambaram. When he is on the threshold of a big discovery, perhaps, a discovery of the SECRET itself, a major conspiracy from a terrorists group comes to light … … … … And so goes the story!

I hope some international authors of Indian origin will enhance and evolve this theme into full length novel.

The River – நதி

June 23, 2013

                         நதி

தாயின்று எழுந்து நீராவியாய், பின்

வான்நின்று பொழியும் நல்மேகமாய்,

பூநின்று செல்லும் நீரோட்டமாய், நதி

தாயொன்றி மகிழும் கடல் கூடியே. –  1

தான்நின்று பல்லோர்க்கும் அமுதாகி, நதி

தாள்சென்று அடையாது நஞ்சுற்றே

உயிர்குன்றி ஒசிந்து உணர்வற்று, தன்

உடல்குன்றி வீழ்ந்து ஓய்ந்ததுவே. –  2

ஆஒற்றிக் கரந்த பால் எனினும்

அதன்கன்றிர்க்கும் ஓரளவு ஈவது போல்

உயர்குன்றில் விழுந்த நதி நீரும், சிறிது

தாய்சென்று அடைவதே தருமம் அன்றோ. –  3

வேரின்றி வளராது விருட்சம், தன்

காலின்றி வாழாது கால்நடைகள்

நீரின்று அமையாது உலகு, எனின்

வானின்று அமையாது ஒழுக்கு. –  4

English Translation

Rising from its source as vapours

Falling from the benevolent clouds

Flowing through earth as streams – rivers

Folding joyously into the laps of seas. – 1

Holding its flow to feed thousands, but

Stalling on its way with filth and toxins

Losing its life, form and feeling – river

Falling a victim to greed and neglect. –  2

Tending the cow and drawing the milk, but

Leaving a bit for its calf to drink – like wise

Allowing the waters to reach its source – river

Ending its flow in a holy communion. –  3

No growth for trees without their roots

No life for animals without their feet

No human race without the waters -never

Any peace sans water resources –  4

(The last two lines are adopted from Tirukkural-Tamil)

I am re-publishing this poem after seeing the man-made disaster in Uttarakhand.

L V Nagarajan – 23 June 2013

Ambition and Contentment

May 21, 2013

  

Many may wonder how one can connect the above two opposite qualities in one idea. At the same time, at least some of us would be very happy to find a way of achieving both Ambition and Contentment in their lives. Yes, both are great virtues as per normal standards of human values. Both are difficult to achieve, but, are they really opposite? I would rather think, they are complimentary, and not opposites.

As per standard dictionaries,

‘Ambition’ means :-  Strong Desire – to be successful – usually needing hard work

‘Contentment’ means :- To be happy with what one has – not wanting any more

But what is success? Success is generally evaluated in terms of money and marketability. If one strikes money early in his path of ambition, the ambition suffers a premature demise. I know of a doctor whose ambition was to do cancer research. After completing his MD, he set up a consulting room.  He was very successful, especially, in terms of money. His ambition to do cancer research just dissolved in thin air.

Real ambitions are those which involve sacrifices. Mahatma Gandhi’s ambition was to see free India. He sacrificed his carrier as a barrister. His ambition was social reforms. He sacrificed his political career. His ambition was communal harmony. He sacrificed his life. If you are ambitious in one aspect of life, you need to be content in many other aspects of life. Otherwise, you cannot succeed.

Contentment means to be happy with what one has. But this does not give anybody any justification to be lazy and unproductive. Contentment in one aspect of life should always lead one to follow a forgotten pursuit in some other area. Thus contentment can at the same time be a cause and a result of an ambition. Contentment leading to inactivity, or trivial activity, is not a virtue at all. It is this base level of contentment and inactivity that has led Uttar Pradesh and other BIMARU states in India to remain poor and backward, in spite of fertile land, suitable climate, abundant natural resources and a high level of political patronage.

Contentment without ambition will lead to laziness and inactivity, whereas, ambition without contentment will lead to frustration.

In trying to be ambitious, one should avoid the following two situations:

  1. Donkey and Carrot situations: where we keep our pursuit on and on, going after a target which is moving away in phase with our pursuit.
  2. Mirage situation: Where the target is an illusion and not real, or rather not realistic.

Contentment will help you avoid the above the above situations. But, in the same way, while trying to be contented you should avoid the following two situations:

  1. Lollypop situation: where you set yourself an easy target and rest happily after the same is achieved.
  2. Rocking Chair Situation: where you sit and relax with total inactivity

When thinking of ambition and contentment, one more factor we must consider is the AGE. It is always said, you are as young as you feel. But there is no denying the fact, age takes a toll on both your physical and mental capabilities. Your capacity to learn and remember, your stamina and tenacity reduce considerably, as you pass the age of, say, 50. You also know, at the back of your mind, you have much less time to live and work. With reduced capacity and limited time, achieving your ambitions is a real challenge. Failure to acknowledge this challenge, will lead to stress and related health problems. That is the time when one should scale down his ambitions, with the help of contentment.

I will conclude with a well known prayer:

Oh Lord,

    Give me the courage to change the things I can

    Give me the humility to accept the things I cannot (change)

And please,

    Give me the wisdom to know one from the other 

L V Nagarajan

20 May 2013