VALMEEKI

Today is Valmeeki Jayanthy, the birth day of Valmeeki
According to legend, Valmeeki was a dacoit, who lived by looting way farers. One day a few Sages saw him and advised him to lead a life of piety. He sat there and chanted ‘RAM RAM’, until his body was covered with dust hill. He woke up from meditation and wrote the famous Ramayan.
Every character in the epic, experienced a tragic end.
The first was Dasarath who died of the shock of his son going into the forest, to fulfil his father’s vow. Then Ram who lost his wife. Ravan lost his kingdom. Sita was exiled into the forest. Ram finally committed suicide by jumping into the river Sarayu.
The moral is that life itself is a tragedy!

LOOKING BACK-AD 1800

LOOKING BACK-AD 1800

If you could fly over India two hundred years ago , you will find a huge forest , extending from the North to the South.

In the Times of India hundred years ago ( a column in the front page ), a letter shows that Coimbatore town was attacked by wild animals ! Even in my childhood , leopards used to kill cows from houses in Wadakancherry mother used to say. Her grandfather’s house was there. Even today peacocks abound there .

At that time only a few cities were there . All the rest was forest. There were no railways or roads . People used to trudge along paths through the forest, even as they do in Wynad where many die by attacks of elephants. There were no bridges for rivers . Country boats ferried people across the rivers . At home we had several canoes made of mango tree , which float in water. (now , not a single canoe is there . )

The bullock cart was the universal carrier of goods . It is made of wooden chassis supported on wooden wheels with iron rims . It is made by local people. In the North , bullocks are used ; in the South , I have heard of caravans of carts drawn by buffalos. The driver may even go to sleep , but the animals know the way from Coimbatore to Trichur and never make a mistake.

For ladies and old men there are carts with roofs and sides covered with bamboo skins. I have seen them in my childhood. When my father was bitten by a snake , he was taken to Trichur in such a cart. (I have described it in my earlier blog-Pages from my life)

Irrigation was by using bullocks which draw a big drum , full of water , attached to the their neck by a strong rope , moving over an iron pulley. The animals move along slope , so they can get mechanical advantage. For small areas , a wooden bucket is drawn by a man. It is balanced over the pulley by attaching mud filled in a cage.

Metallurgy

India was famous for bronze lamps and cooking vessels . Our men developed metallurgy much before Europeans . Moradabad is famous for lamps . In Keralam , people knew how to make polished mirrors with bronze.

Coins

Obviously , there were no currency notes . Foreigners , including East India Company , paid gold coins for our goods. India was the richest country in the world . Mecaulley , who introduced English education in this country , says he could not see a single beggar in this land.

Education

Temples were the community centres where the upper caste people learned Samskrutham , astronomy , medicine and yoga. As the language was not spoken in india , Knowledge remained confined to the upper castes , mostly Brahmanas.

There were no electricity or telephones. People lived in clusters of houses , protected by mud or stone boundaries. Each village was governed by a council of elders , sitting under a tree. This continues even today in the North . All houses had thatched roofs except the temples and mosques . Temples were made of granite or rubble . Taj Mahal is made of mud with facing marble slabs. In the South , granite is the only material , cut into squares and placed one over the other.

People in the north wore long dhothis and shirts or blouses and wide skirts , all made in handlooms as cottage industry. In the South , even women were naked above the waists. (When the Raja of Travencore ordered that women should wear blouses , there were protests by them. Taylors did not even know how a blouse is made.)

Simple pits with cross planks , were the latrines even in my childhood

(to continue )

STORY-GARDEN

GARDEN

Delhi is full of gardens. It is said to be the city with the maximum forest cover. I belong to a remote village in Keralam and came here, at the invitation of my friend , who is employed in the Central Secretariat. I was curious about this city with the historic forts and monuments . As my friend lives in Lodhi colony , I used to frequent the garden here.

After walking along long , meandering paved paths , I sat on a bench , immersed in my own thoughts . I did not notice the feminine presence , so near to me on the same bench. At last I saw a young lady and was about to go , when She said:”Do not go gentleman , have I disturbed you?”

“Who are you? Can I be of any service to you?”

“You speak chaste English. I was attracted by the kind ad serene look in your eyes. Shall we be friends?”

I did not know what to say.

She must be nearing thirty. Her complexion is white and she is tall . To say something I asked :”Are you married?”

“No; I am Leela. I live with my uncle. In Noida.”

“You are quite attractive . why did you not marry till now?”

“I am afraid. Many of my friends have regretted after marriage. I do not like to experiment.

“Oh! I am Akash. I have appeared for Assistats Grade Examination. I live with my friend . I shall go back , if I do not get selection.

“For getting a job , there is no place better than Delhi. I think you are bored . I shall expect you tomorrow here. Give me your address and mob:no.”

I wrote it in her diary . :“Please sign.” As I signed it she kissed me lightly in my cheek and went away.

The whole day I was thinking about her.

When my friend came , he said:”You seem to be pleased . I did not say anything about my encounter with the lady.

The net day I waited impatiently . She came a bit late. She was beaming with joy and embraced me tightly. She opened her lips. I kissed her . Soon she led me to a shady place where no one can see us. I felt nervous . She sensed my hesitation and assured me.

“Here it is normal. Couple come here for this purpose only.

I do not know how long she slept in my arms. When she woke up, she asked:”Did you enjoy it?”

This went on for some days. When results came , I was selected and appointed as Assistant in the Sectretariat.

I was forced to tell my friend about Leela. He cautioned me :”There are many ladies who like to have a niee time. Ask her whether she will marry you.”

I mentioned it. “Let me come to Kerala and see your parents.”

“As I have just joined service , I cannot take leave.”

“Then you can shift to my house”

So the days passed. During holidays we used to go sight seeing around the Capital. She used to drive and taught me driving. Unexpectedly she became pregnant. I thought she must be using precautions . She was unperturbed “Now you have proved your manliness”. But I took leave and we went home. All the way she was happy as child. She wanted to go by train and avoided the plane. At home all were surprised to see the lady with me . I said she is my friend. We travelled in the county side in a taxi cab and went up to Kanyakumari.

On our return from the tour , I mentioned to my parents that we want their blessings for marriage. Mother was not happy , but gave in. We were married at Guruvayoor temple , without any fanfare and got registration certificates there itself. We received ten lakh as dowry subsequently.

A ROOM IN THE SKY

Wth this money , we gave contract for the construction of a new building in place of the old tiled roof structure. So we remained some days there for supervising the work.

Our house is on the bank of the river. Leela had an idea. So we built strong pillars and a room , projecting towards the river. This was to be our bed room. As she was pregnant she told me she would remain in the village. So I left her there.

On receipt of intimation , I flew in . The boy is very cute but my wife would not allow breast feeding , lest her balls may lose shape. I did not have the will to deny it.

The baby was always in the hands of Narasu , a dirty brat with running nose , who used to play with me . Now she has become mature with budding breasts . She used to look at me longingly.

During this period my wife learned to make sambar , vada etc.

Leaving the baby to the care of my mother , we returned to Delhi. Leena gave birth to two more children , a boy and a girl.. Then she left me . It was virus fever. I could not recover from the shock. When I became normal , mother told me to marry again.

“Whom?” “The girl who brought up all your children.” I Told Sarasu:”I know it is cruel ; will you marry me?”

She smiled shyly

MOHINIYATTAM (DANCE OF THE ENCHANTRESS)

MOHINIYATTAM (DANCE OF THE ENCHANTRESS)
According to researchers , this form of dance was being performed in the old Mysore State, by ‘devdasis’s. They are supposed to be the wives of the deity of the temple. In practice , they are patronized by the feudal lords.
Some thousand years ago , they came to Kerala and taught our girls this mohiniyattam. Here , it was pure art , and the artists were respected in society. Anyone who watches this seductive dance , is bound to retain its fragrance , for a long time.
According to mythology , Vishnu assumed the guise of Mohini and enticed Shiva. Lord Ayyappa was born and left in the forest , where the boy grew up among tigers , playing with the cubs.

ELEPHANTINE FURY -<a href=’http://www.blogsurfer.us

On the sixth of March, 2011, three elephants were kept ready for the parade of Guruvayoorappan. Suddenly, the elephant at the centre got enraged, apparently for no reason, and, charged its neighbour, which fell down. Seeing this, the third elephant became panicky and ran away to escape. The rogue elephant then came again to the one lying on the ground and pierced the poor animal, which was consoled and brought to its home, by its mahouts (keepers)
In order to understand it, we must see the conditions in which a number of elephants, belonging to Guruvayoor temple are kept in a comparatively small enclosure. The meek among them suffer in silence and remain docile, like inmates in a jail.
Elephants like to walk for thirty miles daily in search of food and water. Each herd has several cows and babies, but only few males. This allows plenty of chance for mating. In captivity, on the other hand, cows are not there. Males hate each other. So the action of this rogue elephant mentioned earlier,is similar to Americans killing innocent people.
After capturing them, elephants are totured and beaten to submission. This creates permanent enmity between these animals and their keepers.
I have seen sadhus in North India, traveling with an elephant, without any chain. They are lovable and esiy tamed. But the mahouts here in Keralam are very cruel. Elephants kill their mahouts only.
Vengeance is something only human beings are capable of. But elephants are capable of remembering some injustice done to them and wreaking revenge, when an opportunity comes. An elephant pulled down the mahaut sitting on its neck, when the other one went to buy something, and threw him into the air and trumpled him, when he landed, in the presence of onlookers.
All the roads here are covered with tar. It becomes very hot and unbearable to elephants which have no protection for the feet. During festival season, they do not get washed, as often as in the forests.
The only solution is to ban keeping elephants except in wild reservoirs.

ELEPHANTS NEED HUMANE TREATMENT

It was distressing to watch on live TV, an elephant collapsing during the pooram procession at Trichur.

Immediately, people gave cool water bottles and the animal, after being drenched in cool water, recovered and slowly stood up.

Animal lovers have been protesting against this inhuman treatment of elephants, which are best left in the forest.

URMILA’S LAMENT – EVEN THE POET FORGOT HER

RAMAYAN AT A GLANCE

Dashrath, the King of Ayodhya had four sons by his three wives. Kausalya had Ram, Kaikeyi had Bharat and Sumitra gave birth to twins- Lakshman and Shatrughn. They all loved each other, but Ram and Lakshman were always together; Bharat and Shatrughn moved together.

The main story revolves around Ram and his wife Sita.

When Dashrath announced his intention to crown Ram, the eldest, Kaikeyi demanded the throne for her son Bharat.  The king suffered a big shock and died. But Ram volunteered to fulfil his step mother’s wish and went into the forest for fourteen years, as demanded by Kaikeyi. Sita, his wife and Lakshman too accompanied him.

Thirteen years they wandered in the forest, enjoying its beauty and the hospitality of sages doing tapasya (concentrated thinking). The last year proved tragic. The events of this crucial year made the epic a gripping story.

Ravan, the King of Srilanka, had an eye for  Sita. He sent his uncle in the guise of a golden spotted deer (I have written a blog about this episode) and Sita wanted to posses it. Both Ram and Lakshman tried in vain to capture it, but the animal deluded capture and led the brothers away, when Ravan came and kidnapped Sita..

In the south, Bali and his brother Sugriv were fighting for the kingdom and a woman (all monkeys, apparently there were no men there) and Ram killed Bali, by stealthily sending an arrow from his hiding spot. In return, Sugriv and his army of monkeys helped in defeating Ravan. Vibhishan, Ravan’s brother, was throned in Srilanka and Sita freed from captivity.

As she had spent a long time in captivity, she was asked to jump into the fire to prove her chastity. She complied and all returned to Ayodhya where Bharat was ruling by proxy. He placed Ram’s footwear on the throne and slept on the floor, eating only the minimum food; such was his reverence towards Ram.

During the reign of Ram, fondly recalled as Ramraj, the wishes of his subjects were paramount. When there were whispers about the chastity of Sita, she was thrown into the forest by her husband, when she was carrying twins, Lav and Kush. The king wanted to call her back, but the proud woman committed suicide, by disappearing into the earth.

Unlike other epics, Ramayan is the sacred text of Hindus who read it during the month of Shravan (July 16 to August 15) at home and in temples.

URMILA’S LAMENT

While describing the scene, where the princes meet their mothers before setting out into the forest, they see Kausalya and Sumitra. Sumitra advises them about how they should face the long journey into the unknown forest, where they may have to face formidable difficulties.

Ram tried to dissuade Sita but she insisted on following her beloved.

What about Urmila? She too could have followed suit. It would have been good company for Sita. But Lakshman even forgot to say good bye to her.

I AM BAFFLED BY THIS BIG OMISSION IN VALMIKI’S RAMAYAN.

A lot has been written about Ram’s treatment of Sita. Kumaran Asan has written the beautiful and sad poem “Chinthavishta aya Sita”( Sita immersed in thoughts). A number of commentators have mercilessly criticised Ram; but why did they ignore the poor, lonely girl Urmila?

I think Lakshman never loved her. Otherwise, how could he go away ? Did he ever think of her?

If I have written a blunder, please enlighten me; I am ready to withdraw this.