30 September 2007

YOGAS IN INDIA by Kathleen Sutherland

The term ‘yoga,’ as originally used in India, refers to a spiritual way of life. The Sanscrit word yoga means union. The ultimate aim of yoga is union of the individual soul with Brahma (the Supreme). For thousands of years Indian seekers of God followed the yogic principles and practices under the guidance of able and realized Gurus. There are various systems, or schools, of yoga. A disciple would follow the school best suited to his or her nature. For example, there is Raja Yoga, which focuses on meditation as a path to enlightenment. Jnana Yoga emphasizes the study of scriptures. Karma Yoga seeks higher consciousness through doing good works. And Bhakti Yoga focuses on passionate devotion to God. Hatha Yoga is yet another yogic system. This type of yoga is best known in the West, where it has become synonymous with the term "yoga." And its use is often narrowed even further to refer just to the poses and exercises which such yogis practice. It's true that the sadhana (practice) of Hatha Yoga is based on the physical body. But Hatha uses the body's energy to move towards a higher consciousness. Health and vitality are a means to this end, not the end in itself.Hatha Yoga includes, of course, the yogasana (yoga + asana), i. e., the physical poses and exercises, which help the yogi to achieve optimal nervous system functioning. But yoga-asana is only a preliminary stage of the long Hatha Yoga path. Hatha practice also includes following basic moral principals, called the "yamas" and "niyamas." And Hatha yoga teaches the disciple to move, control and regulate one's "prana," i.e., life energy. This is done through the practice of specific breathing exercises, called "pranayama." Meditation, too, is fundamental to Hatha Yoga practice. So it is all these things together - good moral conduct, a healthy nervous system, control of one's life force and deep meditation - that lead to union with the supreme consciousness. Hatha Yoga is not mere yogasana. On the contrary, the practice of the poses is only a minor, though very apparent part of this yogic system. To many in the West, India appears a mysterious land and thus seekers of other-worldly experiences may be drawn to it for that reason. But an exotic experience is not the same thing as a spiritual experience. Importing and practicing the simplest aspects of Hatha Yoga is a misguided attempt to find a genuine spirituality. In any culture, time or place, spiritual growth requires following difficult (and sometimes boring) practices and altering one's entire way of life. It is a surrender of the ego. So it is unfortunate that yoga in the West has come to mean yoga-asana. But it is even sadder that the majority of Indians who know and practice yoga-asana, know it as yoga. The term Hatha Yoga is not even known to them. But while we cannot change this current universal misuse of the term, we nevertheless can understand that one cannot be a true yogi by practicing yoga in its modern connotation. I myself am not a practicing Hatha-yogi. Far from it. My desire here is simply to show the dangers of this sort of misguided spiritual seeking. Here is another example. Some western people took ganja (hashish) as they thought it would help them progress spiritually. They learned this from imposter bearded sadhus sitting beside the Ganges or under a banyan tree smoking their ganja profusely. The problem with the West is that they forget that Indians are as normal as they are, notwithstanding cultural differences. The so-called sadhus also bear some responsibility for this. Indians, too, are often victims of such pseudo-spiritualism, perhaps being susceptible to it because of their other-worldly mind set.Spiritual progress involves learning to detach from egoic desires. This is often an arduous and even painful process. By contrast, activities that aim to gratify the ego, such as using intoxicants, or practicing yoga for the sole purpose of achieving health and beauty, lead us away from the path. The true seeker must learn to recognize and reject the temptations of such pseudo-spirituality. The true seeker knows that serving the ego will never bring any pleasure even close to the ineffable bliss of moving towards a higher consciousness, and ultimately experiencing union with God.

28 September 2007

PAKISTAN'S ILLEGAL AND UNREASONABLE OCCUPATION OF KASHMIR

Ancient Kashmir is steeped in legend. It is said that the Kashmir Valley was once the great lake Satisar (the Lake of the goddess Sati, also known as Durga), home to ferocious demons. Responding to the penances of the great sage Kashyapa, the grandson of Brahma himself, the gods destroyed the demon of the lake, with a pebble divinely caste, which today stands as the hill upon which towers the fortress built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and known today as Hari Parbat. The water of Satisar was drained through a breach in the mountains at what is now the mouth of the Valley, beyond the northern town of Baramulla (or the Sanskrit name of Varaha Mukh, the visage of the boar). From then on the Valley has carried the name of its founder. Like that of the rest of India, the ancient history of the State lacks detailed documentation although stuff and legend have been indistinguishably mired in the work of Rajatarangini by Kalhan whose identity remains a source of conjecture. In the 3r d Century BC, the state was incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Asoka, founder of the city of Srinagar. Buddhism became the principal religion which continued into the times of the Kushanas (1st and 2nd centuries AD), the names of many of whose rulers several towns in the Valley were named and continue to be borne by several towns in the Valley, such as Kanispora after Kanishka, and Hushkora after Huvishka. It was in Kanishka’s time that the 3rd Great Buddhist Council was held in Srinagar, formalising the split between the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter Buddhism declined in the Valley though it retained its vibrancy and continues to thrive in Ladakh.

In the 8th century, Kashmir rose to become the centre of a great kingdom , spanning much of North India and parts of Central Asia under Lalitaditya Muktapida, who was builder of the Martand (sun) Temple, and founder of the Valley’s irrigation canal irrigation system which has survived for centuries, helping water rich harvests of the finest rice, a variety of temperate fruit and exotic crops such as saffron.

Islam came to India through traders, warriors and missionaries from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The faith came to Kashmir through the Sufi saint Bulbul Shah in the early fourteenth century, finding wide acceptance. The ruling monarch Rinchen Shah converted to Islam and assumed the name of Sadruddin in 1327 AD. Thereafter, beginning with his former general Shahmir, a series of Muslim dynasties ruled the State with brief interludes of annexation into neighbouring States, to become a part of the Mughal Empire in the late 16th century, under its greatest ruler Akbar. The State was fully incorporated into the systems of administration and land settlement which long remained a legacy of that Empire in India, well after its own disintegration.

All through this period the religious activity of the Shaivites and Sufis continued to flourish, and fed the vibrant stream of Kashmiri culture. Lal Ded, Kashmir’s great poetesses was also among her foremost Shaivite ascetics and mentor to one of Kashmir’s greatest Sufi saints, Sheikh Nooruddin, whose school of Sufism is called ‘Rishi’ and who is revered by Hindus as Nand Rishi. The songs of Habba Khatoon, queen to the last Sultan of Kashmir before it fell to the Mughals, who retired to the life of a hermit in the hills of Gurez after her husband’s deportation, still resonate with the peasant women harvesting rice in Kashmir’s fields.

The rule of the Mughals has been coloured by romance, the modern remnants of which are to be found in the masterful architecture and layout of their world famous gardens in Kashmir: Shalimar, Nishat, Chashme Shahi, Chinar Bagh. A graphic account of the pomp and panoply of the Emperor’s cavalcade to Kashmir has been left to us by the French physician Francois Bernier who was in the court of the Emperor Aurangzeb.

The Imperial Court called on the Kashmiri Pandits, famed for their scholarship, to man courtly positions in Delhi. Thus it was that the ancestor of the Nehrus was recruited by the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in the early 18th century to serve as imperial scribe.

The defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Afghan brigand Ahmed Shah Abdali forced the ceding of Kashmir to the Afghans in 1753 AD, leading to a period of unmitigated brutality and widespread distress, which remained cruelly etched on the public memory, reinforced by the happenings of 1947. The greatest of the Sikh rulers Maharaja Ranjit Singh won Kashmir in 1815. On the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, the latter annexed and then sold Kashmir to the local feudatory Gulab Singh, who then assumed the title of Maharaja. His dynasty continued to rule the State under British paramountcy till the events described hereafter

GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".

Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not i ndigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.

The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire - Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India. © Govt. of India

The land of Kashmir is called ‘Heaven of the world’. In the Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir â€"no outsider is allowed to visit the wonderful scenic beauty of the valley. Some photos were sent to me by a friend are posted here.

Ancient Kashmir is steeped in legend. It is said that the Kashmir Valley was once the great lake Satisar (the Lake of the goddess Sati, also known as Durga), home to ferocious demons. Responding to the penances of the great sage Kashyapa, the grandson of Brahma himself, the gods destroyed the demon of the lake, with a pebble divinely caste, which today stands as the hill upon which towers the fortress built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and known today as Hari Parbat. The water of Satisar was drained through a breach in the mountains at what is now the mouth of the Valley, beyond the northern town of Baramulla (or the Sanskrit name of Varaha Mukh, the visage of the boar). From then on the Valley has carried the name of its founder. Like that of the rest of India, the ancient history of the State lacks detailed documentation although stuff and legend have been indistinguishably mired in the work of Rajatarangini by Kalhan whose identity remains a source of conjecture. In the 3r d Century BC, the state was incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Asoka, founder of the city of Srinagar. Buddhism became the principal religion which continued into the times of the Kushanas (1st and 2nd centuries AD), the names of many of whose rulers several towns in the Valley were named and continue to be borne by several towns in the Valley, such as Kanispora after Kanishka, and Hushkora after Huvishka. It was in Kanishka’s time that the 3rd Great Buddhist Council was held in Srinagar, formalising the split between the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter Buddhism declined in the Valley though it retained its vibrancy and continues to thrive in Ladakh.

In the 8th century, Kashmir rose to become the centre of a great kingdom , spanning much of North India and parts of Central Asia under Lalitaditya Muktapida, who was builder of the Martand (sun) Temple, and founder of the Valley’s irrigation canal irrigation system which has survived for centuries, helping water rich harvests of the finest rice, a variety of temperate fruit and exotic crops such as saffron.

Islam came to India through traders, warriors and missionaries from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The faith came to Kashmir through the Sufi saint Bulbul Shah in the early fourteenth century, finding wide acceptance. The ruling monarch Rinchen Shah converted to Islam and assumed the name of Sadruddin in 1327 AD. Thereafter, beginning with his former general Shahmir, a series of Muslim dynasties ruled the State with brief interludes of annexation into neighbouring States, to become a part of the Mughal Empire in the late 16th century, under its greatest ruler Akbar. The State was fully incorporated into the systems of administration and land settlement which long remained a legacy of that Empire in India, well after its own disintegration.

All through this period the religious activity of the Shaivites and Sufis continued to flourish, and fed the vibrant stream of Kashmiri culture. Lal Ded, Kashmir’s great poetesses was also among her foremost Shaivite ascetics and mentor to one of Kashmir’s greatest Sufi saints, Sheikh Nooruddin, whose school of Sufism is called ‘Rishi’ and who is revered by Hindus as Nand Rishi. The songs of Habba Khatoon, queen to the last Sultan of Kashmir before it fell to the Mughals, who retired to the life of a hermit in the hills of Gurez after her husband’s deportation, still resonate with the peasant women harvesting rice in Kashmir’s fields.

The rule of the Mughals has been coloured by romance, the modern remnants of which are to be found in the masterful architecture and layout of their world famous gardens in Kashmir: Shalimar, Nishat, Chashme Shahi, Chinar Bagh. A graphic account of the pomp and panoply of the Emperor’s cavalcade to Kashmir has been left to us by the French physician Francois Bernier who was in the court of the Emperor Aurangzeb.

The Imperial Court called on the Kashmiri Pandits, famed for their scholarship, to man courtly positions in Delhi. Thus it was that the ancestor of the Nehrus was recruited by the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in the early 18th century to serve as imperial scribe.

The defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Afghan brigand Ahmed Shah Abdali forced the ceding of Kashmir to the Afghans in 1753 AD, leading to a period of unmitigated brutality and widespread distress, which remained cruelly etched on the public memory, reinforced by the happenings of 1947. The greatest of the Sikh rulers Maharaja Ranjit Singh won Kashmir in 1815. On the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, the latter annexed and then sold Kashmir to the local feudatory Gulab Singh, who then assumed the title of Maharaja. His dynasty continued to rule the State under British paramountcy till the events described hereafter

GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".

Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not i ndigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.

The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire - Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India. © Govt. of India

The land of Kashmir is called ‘Heaven of the world’. In the Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir â€"no outsider is allowed to visit the wonderful scenic beauty of the valley. Some photos were sent to me by a friend are posted here.

25 September 2007

SUN WORSHIP IN ANCIENT BENGAL

THIS WRITING IS CONTRIBUTED BY ASIS K CHATTERJEE

Sun is the most worshiped of the gods in almost every ancient religion.

In the Vedas, the ancient Holy scriptures of the Hindus, the Sun occupied a very

important place.The sun was one of the forms of AGNIDEVA, the god of fire.

Ancient Bengal was inhabited by different tribes & races of Non-Aryan people of Negrito, Proto-Australoid & Indo-Mongoloid origin. They had their own traditions of worshiping the sun-god. The Aryan invasion later changed these to some extent, but the traditional sun-worshiping is still practiced in Bengal, especially in the rural areas in various forms. It is interesting to see these forms of the sun-god & the methods of sun worshiping that are still practiced in present day Bengal.

Different names of the sun-god in Bengal includes DHARMARAJ, ITOO, RAAL-DURGAA, REVANTA, MAAGHMANDAL, SOORJAAI etc.

1) DHARMARAAJ: The most important of the various forms of the sun-god in Bengal is DHARMARAAJ or DHARMATHAAKUR, though several local variations of these names are there. In this name the sun-god is worshiped mainly by the lower cast people. Actually they worship the sun as the Supreme God. Various powers are attributed to DHARMARAAJ , most importantly the power to heal Leprosy ( it is highly significant that Leprosy is endemic in certain parts of the present day West Bengal), Arthritis & Infertility, & the power to end draught by bringing in the rains. Another interesting thing is the tradition of presenting the god with clay models of horses (mainly) & elephants.

2) ITOO: Mostly worshiped by women, more specifically by unmarried maidens, ITOO is worshiped in the Sundays of the Bengali month of AGRAHAYAN(mid November to mid December).The style of worship reminds the tradition of some sort of fertility cult. The worshipers hope to get good matches (husbands) through the blessings of ITOO.

3) SOORJAAI: Exclusively worshiped by women in the Bengali month of MAGHA(mid January to mid February). This worshiping is also known as SOORJABRATA.

4) REVANTA : Once very popular among the rural people, this form of the sun-god is almost unknown now. The sun-god was worshiped in the form of a hunter on horse back (probably) by the hunter population of ancient Bengal.

5) MAAGHMANDAL : Worshiped in the Bengali month of MAGHA, exclusively by unmarried maidens in rural areas with a hope to get good husbands.

6) RAAL-DURGAA : RAAL means red, so the name RAAL-DURGA literary means the Red Durgaa. It is interesting to note that DURGAA is the FEMALE form of the Supreme Power or SHAKTI. So, in this form the sun is worshiped as a goddess! Probably the gender of the worshipers (exclusively FEMALES) has something to do in this.

One interesting point to note is that the sun is worshiped mainly by the women, & during the winter . Why? The answer is not clear. May be the original social idea was to give the womenfolk a chance to get some warm sunrays in the cold winter days!

ASIS K CHATTERJEE'S BLOG- http://asiskchat.blog.co.uk/

'Intrigued' as captioned by Joel Schekman

This beautiful photo was taken by Joel Schekman. He is kind enough in permitting me to post this here in my blog.

ABOUT JOEL SCHEKMAN-know him in his own words:

"I am a 28 year old musician from California who is now playing in the Grand Rapids Symphony in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm still using my Canon Powershot A620- its a good little camera but eventually I'd like to get something with more control. I have many interests and photography is something of a hobby I picked up in the last year. Besides photography I am a musician first and foremost. I play Clarinet for the most part but I also like to compose. One of these days I'll have a website up that has my playing and music on it"

22 September 2007

Global warming

The Planet is Heating Up—and Fast

Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are drying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It's becoming clear that humans have caused most of the past century's warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than in the last 650,000 years. We call the result global warming, but it is causing a set of changes to the Earth's climate, or long-term weather patterns, that varies from place to place. As the Earth spins each day, the new heat swirls with it, picking up moisture over the oceans, rising here, settling there. It's changing the rhythms of climate that all living things have come to rely upon. What will we do to slow this warming? How will we cope with the changes we've already set into motion? While we struggle to figure it all out, the face of the Earth as we know it—coasts, forests, farms and snow-capped mountains—hangs in the balance. Greenhouse effect The "greenhouse effect" is the warming that happens when certain gases in Earth's atmosphere trap heat. These gases let in light but keep heat from escaping, like the glass walls of a greenhouse. First, sunlight shines onto the Earth's surface, where it is absorbed and then radiates back into the atmosphere as heat. In the atmosphere, "greenhouse" gases trap some of this heat, and the rest escapes into space. The more greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere, the more heat gets trapped. Scientists have known about the greenhouse effect since 1824, when Joseph Fourier calculated that the Earth would be much colder if it had no atmosphere. This greenhouse effect is what keeps the Earth's climate livable. Without it, the Earth's surface would be an average of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. In 1895, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius discovered that humans could enhance the greenhouse effect by making carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. He kicked off 100 years of climate research that has given us a sophisticated understanding of global warming. Levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have gone up and down over the Earth's history, but they have been fairly constant for the past few thousand years. Global average temperatures have stayed fairly constant over that time as well, until recently. Through the burning of fossil fuels and other GHG emissions, humans are enhancing the greenhouse effect and warming Earth. Scientists often use the term "climate change" instead of global warming. This is because as the Earth's average temperature climbs, winds and ocean currents move heat around the globe in ways that can cool some areas, warm others, and change the amount of rain and snow falling. As a result, the climate changes differently in different areas. Aren't temperature changes natural? The average global temperature and concentrations of carbon dioxide (one of the major greenhouse gases) have fluctuated on a cycle of hundreds of thousands of years as the Earth's position relative to the sun has varied. As a result, ice ages have come and gone. However, for thousands of years now, emissions of GHGs to the atmosphere have been balanced out by GHGs that are naturally absorbed. As a result, GHG concentrations and temperature have been fairly stable. This stability has allowed human civilization to develop within a consistent climate. Occasionally, other factors briefly influence global temperatures. Volcanic eruptions, for example, emit particles that temporarily cool the Earth's surface. But these have no lasting effect beyond a few years. Other cycles, such as El Niño, also work on fairly short and predictable cycles. Now, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than a third since the industrial revolution. Changes this large have historically taken thousands of years, but are now happening over the course of decades. Why is this a concern? The rapid rise in greenhouse gases is a problem because it is changing the climate faster than some living things may be able to adapt. Also, a new and more unpredictable climate poses unique challenges to all life. Historically, Earth's climate has regularly shifted back and forth between temperatures like those we see today and temperatures cold enough that large sheets of ice covered much of North America and Europe. The difference between average global temperatures today and during those ice ages is only about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), and these swings happen slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years. Now, with concentrations of greenhouse gases rising, Earth's remaining ice sheets (such as Greenland and Antarctica) are starting to melt too. The extra water could potentially raise sea levels significantly. As the mercury rises, the climate can change in unexpected ways. In addition to sea levels rising, weather can become more extreme. This means more intense major storms, more rain followed by longer and drier droughts (a challenge for growing crops), changes in the ranges in which plants and animals can live, and loss of water supplies that have historically come from glaciers. Scientists are already seeing some of these changes occurring more quickly than they had expected. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eleven of the twelve hottest years since thermometer readings became available occurred between 1995 and 2006. This article was sent by Deyasini Ghosh-a Member of WWf-India


18 September 2007

Otter Lake Road


Otter Lake Road
Originally uploaded by peggyhr
Such photos or images where the destination is not defined but they are meant verily for unknown destinations.
I like it under the name "The bend of the road" also.
I am indebted to Peggyhr-a kind Canadian lady who has permitted me to publish this photo to this blog.

14 September 2007

My collage

I love trees ,forests and hills. As I live in Calcutta-I am desparately seeking greens and finding nowhere around I go on to make my one.

Calcutta maidan

This is in central Calcutta. None, even a Calcuttan will believe that such a greenery exists in Calcutta-which is better expressed in its dingy narrow lanes,thickly populated streets with vehicles emitting poisonous digel fumes, the dilapidated houses standing as a potential danger to fall down in any moment and the shouting processions of political parties asserting their power bringing the traffic to standstill and its pavements turned into open markets for hawkers leaving no place to walk and its every wall and lamp-post pasted with political graphities and buisness posters. But as a last hope and the lungs of the diseased city -this greenery -named as Maidan still exists. This green space belongs to the Indian Defence Department and not to the state government of West Bengal -where it lies. This is Calcutta-which once was known as the second city of the British Empire after London. But it is the city which is today shunned by the industrialists and its own meritorious Bengali youths for better futures.

11 September 2007

10 September 2007

The Tusker and His Love

AN INDIAN TUSKER

The word "politics," which originally referred simply to the art and science of government, now commonly connotes devious or underhanded dealings. The Americans were the first to render the word a pejorative, and now this meaning is universal. Another word which is fast losing its original pure meaning is "love." It is the most adored word in all the world's languages. But more and more, we see its use narrowed to refer primarily to relationships between men and women. But animals also love and they never vulgarize the emotion. I have heard that crows, for example, are very chaste in their conjugal relations. The monogamous crow is devoted to its mate and never changes partners. And recently an event confirming the elephant's jumbo capacity for love has created a sensation throughout India. It happened on August 30, 2007. The Olympic Circus team had camped inKumarbazar, a village 175 km from Calcutta and bordering W. Bengal and Jharkhand. The Bengal-Jharkhand border area is habitat for wild elephants, who roam freely about the region. There were four female elephants with the circus, named Savitri, Gayatri, Chanchala and Mala. In the dead of night, at 2.30 am, a wild tusker from Jharkhand, having crossed the river Damodar, approached the circus party and heard the calls of the female elephants in their tent. Their sweet feminine voices aroused the Cupid within him. He forced his way into the tent and ran amok as a fierce knight until he found Savitri his beloved. By the way, the tusker was 26 years old and Savitri was 20. The tusker exhorted Savitri to tear the shackle off her foot and follow him into the jungle. The other three elephants started to trumpet loudly and they too tried tear their shackles. The manager of the circus party, fearing major destruction from the frenzied tusker and mayhem within the tent, ordered his staff to release all four of the elephants. Once freed, the ladies thundered after the tusker into the jungle.
The following morning the manager entreated the forest department to help
him retrieve the elephants; their permanent loss would have been a serious crisis for the circus. The forest ranger succeeded in locating three of the elephants and led them back to their tent. But he failed to find Savitri. Finally after many days' search he spotted Savitri along with the tusker, frolicking in a jungle pond. The forest officials and Kalimuddin Sheikhthe, Savitri's mahout, tried to cajole her back to the circus tent. But Savitri refused. She looped her trunk around the tusker’s leg and instantly the tusker shielded her with his huge torso. The mahout said that he had reared and groomed Savitri from her very childhood and she had never disobeyed him. This was the first time that love got the better of her obedience. The enamored pair continued to roam together throughout the jungle. The forest department deemed it would be unwise to force Savitri back to her tent as the loss of his mate might enrage the tusker. He could become destructive and ravage the nearby villages. So the pair was not disturbed. But they were kept under constant vigil. They were followed by the forest officials, who waited for the mating period to pass. Finally when the tusker was over his initial orgy and Savitri seemed a little weary, the mahout took advantage of Savitri’s loving obedience to him. He cajoled and pleaded for her to return. At last Savitri returned to the tent and resumed performing for the public. Savitri's heart had been divided by having to choose between her mate and the mahout. I think the time has come for a regulation that no animal should be deprived of its natural life impulses. Let them be in their wild habitat to live freely. We cannot expect the government of India to be of any help in this matter. There should be a campaign from all the animal lovers of the world and the WWF.Animals love with as much if not more passion than we humans. Observing their lives and dramas helps us to understand the meaning of love in its purest manifestation. It is an energy that flows throughout mankind, animal-kind and every molecule of creation.

5 September 2007

me with the ducklings

me with the ducklings Originally uploaded by nutmeg20008

It is Kathleen Sutherland who helps the wild ducks to have their babies in her courtyard near the National Zoo in Washington DC. She helps the ducklings grow up with her love and care not a bit less than their native mothers do and when they are enough grown up she helps then to fly off through the vast and wide sky above her appartment roof-to their native wild world. Sometime I want to know whether she is pained while bidding good bye to the departing birds.

Kathleen says:


Thanks, Debabrata, for the post. I do miss the ducklings, the last of whom just flew off this past weekend. But I'm also happy for them, because I know that now they are having a lot of fun in the wild. The courtyard fountain is a poor substitute for a big creek. And the woods and meadows are much more magical than a manicured lawn.