Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

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)

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Spirituality and Patriotism in National Politics

March 24, 2018

There is a general feeling, promoted and attempted to be perpetuated, by leftists and the so-called liberals, that Indian Nationalists in the form of BJP/RSS have hijacked Swamy Vivekananda and Subash Chandra Bose as their icons of Spirituality and Patriotism. It is nice that these people at least agree that Swami Vivekananda and Sri Subash Chandra Bose are the Indian idols representing India’s Spiritual and Patriotic traditions. The thought and Sloka attributed by these leftists to Swami Vivekananda, as the evidence of his ‘secular’ and ‘pluralistic’ ideas, is actually the essence of Hindu thought and their way of living. The Sloka   “Aakashath Pathitham Thoyam Yatha Gachathi Sagaram, Sarvadeva Namaskaram Keshavam Prathi Gachathi”, is an ancient well known principle enshrined in every Hindu mind, even before the time of Swami Vivekananda. (Just as the rains falling from the sky, gets back to the sea; Prayers to all the different gods gets  back to the supreme GOD, Kesahav or Maha Vishnu)  This is one of the very first prayers taught to every child of devout Hindu parents. Most of the world religions have accepted this principle, that there is only one God, identified by different names and forms. As Hindus, we already have many deities, from forms to formless, from animals to trees and from five elements to stars and planets. We intrinsically know that all of them will lead to same Godhood. This principle was kept hi-jacked by the secular leftists, if at all, and it has recently been released and made known to their followers, emulating Swami Vivekananda. How can anyone say that the present regime is discouraging the above thought by projecting (or hijacking) Swami Vivekananda? Is it not totally illogical? When Vivekananda and his thoughts were easily available for all, where is the need for anyone to hijack?

Once I had a school mate (Mr. Abdul Subhan) with whom I used to exchange tiffins, of course, on days when he brings vegetarian food. In due course, just as a token of our friendship, he almost always brought vegetarian tiffin to be able to exchange with me every day. Eventually he became a vegetarian even at home on his own accord. Vegetarianism and Veganism are healthy modes of eating practices recognised all over the world. There is nothing spiritual or religious about it. By promoting vegetarianism one is not promoting Hindu religion and by promoting Veganism neither she is promoting Jainism. Forcing and fouling food habits either way is not acceptable.      

Spiritualism is beyond religion or culture or eating practices. Many of the so-called atheists and agnostics have displayed several trends of spiritual thinking, not necessarily religious. Spiritually inclined persons, irrespective of their religion (or no-religion) have always displayed better value systems. Such spiritual people with better value systems should be at the helm of all public affairs and especially in politics.

Integrity and Sense of Justice are also in some way spiritual qualities, evolved out of spiritual thinking. It has nothing to do with any religion or patriotism. Patriotism (or loyalty) is a must for certain disciplines of human activity. Though it is commonly called as loyalty, Patriotism is nobler than loyalty, since it involves sacrifice. In the name of global or universal view, our patriots and our soldiers and their selfless sacrifices cannot be insulted.   On the contrary they should be honoured and respected.

How can anyone hi-jack Spirituality and Patriotism, leave alone their idols? Senses of Spirituality and Patriotism are important requirement for any Political System, Political Party and Political Leadership. That is why nations have oath taking ceremonies for elected politicians and they also have National Anthems, Flags and Emblems. Do we not display our patriotism collectively on Independence Day and Republic Day?

If Spirituality and Patriotism are kept out of politics, we will have only mob-ocracy and not democracy.

Thirukkural – 292

December 3, 2017

Chapter – 30 / Vaaymai/ Verse – 2

பொய்ம்மையும் வாய்மை யிடத்தே – புரைதீர்ந்த

நன்மை பயக்கும் எனின்.

Poymmaiyum vaaymai idatthE – purai theerndha

Nanmai payakkum enin

 

Poymmai(yum) – (Even) a lie

Vaaymai – Oral Integrity or communicative integrity

Purai – harm, crime

Purai Theerndha – Harmless, without criminal intent

Nanmai – Good, comfort, help

Payakkum – Yield, achieve

Nanmai Payakkum enin – If it yields good result of comfort or help.

Even a lie will be acceptable as vocal integrity, if it yields, but without any criminal intent, good result of comfort or help.

This whole chapter No.30 of ten verses speak about ‘Vaaymai’ as a virtue. Saint Tiruvalluvar defines Vaaymai in the first verse of the chapter as ‘any communication which does not bring harm to anyone’.

‘Vaaymai’ does not have a good translation in English. You may roughly call it as vocal (or communicative) integrity.

This Chapter talks about Truthfulness only in the last verse where the saint says ‘Vaaymai’ is better than ‘Meimmai’. He says there is no better truthfulness than communicative integrity.

He talks about Vaaymai in two more verses where he states vaaymai is the best form of penance and charity and it keeps your mind bright and without guilt. At the same time he extols the virtues of ‘Poyyamai’ or being against falsehood, in five verses. He does not at all approve any type of falsehood.

We may compare this with a famous Sanskrit verse of Saint Adi Sankara: “Satyam bruyat priyam bruyat.  Na bruyat satyam apriyam. Priyam cha nanrutam bruyat. Esha dharmah sanatanah.”  Truth is always spoken with kindness. Truth is never spoken in a harsh way. Even with kindness falsehood is not to be spoken. This is the eternal path of virtue.

Here also the saint give preference to Vaaymai than Meimmai, i.e., Communicative integrity than truthfulness.  After all, Tamil Nadu Government’s emblem saying வாய்மையே வெல்லும் (Vaaymai alone triumphs) is right, instead of the usual (Satymeva Jayate) Truth alone triumphs. We may rank these virues as: Poyyamai is the best, Vaaimai is the next and Meimmai is the last.

There is a proverb in Tamil which says “Unnmai Sudum” (உண்மை சுடும்​), Bear Truth Hurts. As per both Adi Sankara and Tiruvalluvar, we should not tell this truth which hurts. (i.e.) if you are unable to tell it in a way it does not hurt. In such a situation where the ‘Truth Hurts’, It is better to tell a lie, provided it does not have any criminal intent. Hence the Titukkural says,

Even a lie is better than the truth if it yields

Haven to a disturbed situation

Bye till the next Tirukkural.

 

Nadopasana

July 25, 2017

(Nada Upasana)

There is no better way to invoke the blessings of Almighty than to do Nadopasana (i.e.) invocation to divine Nadabrahma.

It is difficult to describe Nada in one word. It is Sound, but really more than just the sound. It is Vibrations, but more than just vibrations, physical or metaphorical.

It is the first form of energy, released by the union of Shiva and Shakti, to start the entire Creation. It all started with a Big-Bang.

From Hindu scriptures we learn, the seed of this energy (Nada Bindu) is dormant in Shiva, and is enhanced by the active Energy of Shakti. ‘Kala’ are the ways by which this Nada is expressed. This is why we pray to lord Subramanya, as ‘Nada Bindu Kalaadhi Namo Namo’. In its divine from, it is invoked as Nada Brahmam, and practiced by sages as Nada Yoga.

In Indian Carnatic Music, there are many kritis (compsitions) by Saint Thyagaraja, grouped as Nadopasana Kritis, which describes Nada Upasana (i.e., invoking Nada as Nada Brahma). Saint Thyagaraja practices it himself and extols those who have practiced it. Here are a few typical ones from which we get a very good idea of Nada Brahmam.

“O Mind! By becoming a lover of Nada, attain the eternal Bliss. By total involvement in that music through countless ragas which result by the manipulation of the seven notes of music and which fulfills all the righteous desires, attain such a Bliss. Know that it is by this expression and experience of Nada that the trinity -Indra, Ganesha and Subrahmanya and other personages had done upasana. Myself, Thyagaraja is also aware of this”. (Nadaloludai – Raga Kalyana Vasantham)

“O Mind! Praise the divinely beautiful forms of the seven musical notes, which originate, glow and then pass through in the navel, heart, vocal chords, tongue and nose of the human body. (These seven notes) shine in the four Vedas and in the sublime Gayathri Mantra as its essence. (These seven notes) sparkle in the hearts of, the celestial beings, the worthy Bhusuras and in myself, Thyagaraja”. (Sobhillu Saptha Swara – Raga Jaganmohini)

“Hari, i.e., God Vishnu, is immensely pleased with the garland made of a hundred melodious ragas. Let us adore and adorn (him with this garland) and be bestowed with abundant fortune. The garland of ragas is embellished with the essence of vedas, the six sastras, the epics and the Agamas (science of architecture). It is said that the sages and seers are blessed with eternal Bliss by such adoration of God. These are the songs that the most fervent devotees sing and immerse in. The garland of ragas would bestow salvation to me, Thyagaraja also. (Ragaratnamalikache – Raga Ritigaula)

 There many more such krithis such as: Sangita-jnanamu; Nada tanum anisam; Gitarthamu; Nadopasanace; Mokshamugalada and Svara-raga-sudha etc.

Let us also, with our limited capability and in all humbleness practice this Nadopasana.

– Nagarajan L V : 19/5/2017

 

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