GANGETIC PLAIN

THE GANGETIC PLAIN
The Ganga flows through Uthar Pradesh , Bihar and Bengal. The plain on either side of the river is extremely fertile , as the river and its tributaries bring fresh silt from the Himalayas,  every year during monsoon. Farmers produce rice and wheat , sugarcane , mangoes , potato and other vegetables . Potatoes are bought damn cheap by the traders and sold in all towns , making fabulous profit. Farmers’  cooperatives as in Gujarath can help in securing remunerative price.
Maximum mangoes are exported from UP. The farmers cut the plant , when young and ensure that they do not grow high. Mangoes can be plucked like oranges. In Keralam , we allow the tree to grow high and it becomes impossible to climb up.
The soil is alluvial and there are no stones anywhere, however deep you may dig! For making houses and roads , they make bricks . At the Atomic Power Station at Narora,on the bank of the river Ganga, raft foundation is made , by casting RCC beams in the shape of a raft , very large to support buildings , to ensue that it does not sink! The site was chosen due to political pressure..
We were staying as guest of my coworker in RAPP Sarvan Singh . In his court yard , they grow potato, onion, gajar,carrot,mooli, etc. , enough for their purpose. At RAPP , it is all rock and we depended on arrivals from the villages.
Ganga was the only means of transport till the British came. Now even small ships ply from  Calcutta to Allahabad and beyond. All major cities like  Kanpur, Allahabad ,Patna , Mughal sarai lie near the river. My great wish is to travel in a ship, along the Ganga. I was not lucky till now.
The world famous Nalanda University is neat Patna. It has been revived recently. Bihar I the cradle of civilization in India.
Pilgrimage
Kashi is a pilgrims’ spot for Hindus . Even when there were no roads , people used to walk all the way from Keralam and Tamilnadu , to pray at Kashi Viswanath temple , after bathing in Ganga. One of my uncles stayed permanently in Cochin House in Kashi.
Pollution
In spite of all efforts by the Government, Ganga water is extremely polluted. The practice of throwing even half burnt dead bodies into the river must be banned.
Mythology
According to Hindu puran , the whole plain was dry and the sage Bhageerth, took tapasya to please Lord Siva . In the end, Shiva released Ganga , who was hiding ln his coiled long hair(to escape detection by his wife Parvathy), and the whole plain was flooded

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SUNDERBANS OR SUNDARAVANAM

SUNDERBANS OR SUNDARAVANAM

A WORLD HERITAGE SITE, this mangrove forest spreads over 10,000 sq. kilomtres in Bangladesh and East Bengal. . It is the native land of Bengal tiger. Many villagers come here to collect fire wood and some are eaten by tigers. They were a mask with large eyes , on the back of the head. , to scare the tigers.

The mangrove diffuses the waves and protects the land during high tides in monsoon.

It was a refuge for thieves from the army of Mughal empire . During British time it was developed as national park. It is formed by the delta of four rivers-Brahmaputhra, Ganga , Padma and Meghna.

It is worth visiting. Be careful about mosquitoes

YAMUNA LAKE PROJECT – A VISION AND A MISSION

Way back in 2003,  I wrote the above piece and personally gave it to the Chief Minister, hoping that action will be initiated soon, for making a lake in the river bed. 

The excavated soil is to be used for making two embankments, along the river, on either side, for separating the dirty water coming from the city, so that clean water may be collected in the pit, 20 feet deep, running along the length of the river in Delhi.

The embankments may be very wide, to accommodate wide roads, restaraunts, children’s parks, forests etc. The slopes must be protected with grass. Some specimens of such embankments, formed naturally, can be seen near the Tibetan market.

Sir Metcaffe, who was in charge of Delhi administration for over forty years  in the nineteenth century, construced an earthen check dam and diverted the water to the channels in the old fort area (Red Fort) . That time only that area was inhabited.

People were so happy that they celebrated the occasion by floating diya (earthen lamps), as they do in the Ganga.

Why can’t we do it now?

SHORT STORY – ANANTHU’S FAMILY

My name is Ananthapadmanabhayyar. As it is too long, all called me Anathu. As we lived in a remote village, father put me in a school in Bombay where my uncle lived.

I had some school mates who led me to women of undesirable character and soon I knew things which were very tempting, including alcohol.

Uncle arranged a stenographer’s job for me. I was very quick and accurate; so much so that I got several jumps in my factory. Then father thought of marrying me to a girl who was related to him

There was no thrill of the “first night”described in novels and shown in films; still I enjoyed deflowering her. For the first time, I saw hymen!

 She was plain but very docile and enjoyed our new life, seeing a city like Bombay for the first time.

We were living in the quarter allotted by the company. I found that my wife, Nina, was becoming very popular with the neighbours and one or two were always there, when I came home. I didn’t like it but could not find a way of convincing Nina, who was too innocent to suspect their intentions.

I was happy to leave her in her home in the village as soon as she became pregnant. I reestablished contacts with my night lovers who were too eager and adept in making love.

When she came with a son, everything changed. I never knew that a baby could be so sweet and precious. As son as I came home, the boy would come smiling and the next one hour would be spent in playing with it. On holidays, we would go for a movie or to some friends’ flat. Or simply moving around in parks or temples.

The years passed and my son was enrolled in a good school. As soon as the school bus moved away with the kid, I would be uneasy until the boy returned safe and sound, at two in the afternoon.

We used to attend parent-teacher meetings. The teachers were full of praise for our boy, except that he needed improvement in maths. So we engaged a tutor for him.

One day I returned at noon from the factory to search for some document. I saw a pair of shoes in our front veranad. The door was locked from inside.

I quetly went round towards our bed room. There were sounds from inside; when I peeped through the window curtain, Nina was lying on the bed with her skirt drawn up and Pawar was pumping with gusto…. More forcefully, more forcefully: she was shouting…….

I was dazed and completely lost my senses.

 Somehow, I managed to walk away towards the railway station

I was sitting on a parapet on the road side, where the road and the rail line were running parallel. I do not know how long I sat there, watching the movement of suburban trains and the red buses. A woman came and sat beside me. It was Mary. Both of us had learned short hand in the same institute together.

She said: after a long time I am seeing you; what are you doing here? You look terribly upset.

I was in no mood to speak. We new each other too much and all attempts at evasion were futile. I spoke out, about what I saw in my bed room.

She kept mum for some time; then she urged me to go with her: my mother is not well. That is why I am here.

We walked along, talking. I just listened.

I am working in a private company at Nagpur. You know I can manage any boss with my beautiful body. Now I am getting handsome salary. Still unmarried. I don’t say you marry me. Let us live together. I shall fix up a job for you. I have just to ring up my boss.

We reached her place. It was a rented house which her parents occupied long ago. Her father was no more.

Her mother was very pleased to see me She told me to sit beside her in the bed and kissed me on the cheek: I am seeing you after a long time. Now you have become a man. Aren’t you married?

Yes, Maji. How are you?

I am beyond hope. My daughter gives me all sorts of medicines. I tell her not to waste money on me.

Mary brought coffee and biscuits. Afterwards, we went to her room.

As was our habit, we lay on the bed. She cuddled towards my body and whispered in my ear: I am yearning for your warmth.

I was in no mood. Yet, can any man resist it? How long? Soon we were converted into the Khajuraho postures.

At last, when fully satisfied, she opened the subject: you must realize that circumstances make us virtuous or not. What will your wife do when you are away in the factory and the kid in the school? And this neighbour, having done his night duty is ready all the time. It is not a new thing. Fashionable ladies are always eager to have a fling. They are just afraid.

I told her I can come with her.

The first few months were somewhat pleasant. But I missed the joy we felt at home, with the boy a source of great comfort, especially when I return from the factory. He was a tonic, better than a glass of fresh fruit juice.

And those barbs…….Poor Mary has to satisfy her boss in the office and Ananthu at home…. some wags would say.

I told her about it.

She said: if you want, I shall give up my job.

That is a good idea, but I want my boy.

We decided to go to my quarter in the factory, but my family had already left.

One day I just went away, in spite of Mary’s protests.

First, I went to Hardwar and then Rishikesh. In those days the mountainous Rishikesh was somewhat scarcely populated, especially upstream along the bank of the Ganga. In my state of mind I approached several sadhus living in caves. No one impressed me, but their very presence was soothing.

A well known Guru in a math was different. He advised me about life in general.

He said: sanyas is not for young people like you. You have done Brahmacharya (schooling). Now you must complete your Grihastham, including looking after business, property, children etc. When all things are settled and your children grown up and able to look after the business, should you think of Vanaprasth. You may wander the whole Himalayas even now, as it will change your narrow out look and enable you to see things objectively. Stay here for some days and go through the books in my library.

I followed his instructions literally and then returned to my village, after wandering in the Himalayas for full six years.

I was able to locate my family after some enquiriesthough her people had shifted to Salem.

 Nina appeared like a shadow of her former self, very thin and wiry. The boy was grown up and could not recognize me. In spite of the presence of curious on lookers, I went and embraced them.

WHEN WE REJOINED, IT WAS A NEW LIFE.

MYHICAL SARASWATY IS A REALITY

From my book CHILDHOOD MEMOIRS

SARASWATY- MYTH OR REALITY?

 The study of subterranean water channels (SWC)

 According to Hindu mythology Ganga, Yamuna and the underground Saraswaty meet at the holy Sangam at Allahabad. We tend to dismiss Saraswaty as just a myth, but invariably myth is based on some facts and are unraveled by historians. Remains of Dwaraka city have been recently discovered under the sea. Such instances are numerous.

 G. T. Vigne, Esq. F.G.S. who traveled in Kashmir and Ladak in 1830’s describes how the river Burengi goes underground near Shahbad and resurfaces at a point downstream:

 “The Burengi river, after flowing for some distance under the bank, suddenly disappears beneath the ground. It first loses a portion of its water in numerous little whirlpools, that are seen in full play amongst the rounded stones in its bed; and all that escapes absorption in that place pursues its course for a little farther, where it suddenly disappears through the bottom of a large fissure, formed by the almost perpendicular position of the limestone strata, and nearly large enough to allow a man on horseback to sit upright in it. The natives say that the spring of Achibul, or Yech-I-bul, is but the reappearance of the river Burengi. Probability is strongly in favour of this theory. Walnut-shells that have been thrown in it in Burengi are said to have reappeared at Achibul; and the direction thus ascribed to the river is much the same, as it would have followed on the surface. The greater proportion, however, of the water of the Burengi river has been preserved from submersion, by a canal cut by one of the Mogul Emperors, by which it sinks, to some distance below it, and its waters are used for irrigating purposes.”

 Whirlpools are said to be common in the Ganga. These indicate vertical downward movement of water into a hole, somewhat similar to the movement of cyclones, but in the reverse direction. Water may thus enter even a subterranean channel inside the rock structure below the soil surface and re-emerge at unexpected points as springs which are quite wide spread and have attracted the attention of geographers from early 19th century. In the islands of Malta the inhabitants depend upon springs in the absence of wells. Springs are common in Europe and even in deserts. Hot springs of Iceland are famous from time immemorial.

 G.T. Vigne, Esq. F.G.S. has described a dozen springs in Kashmir and one hot spring even near a glacier in Ladak. Apart from the hot springs of Yamunotry, Gourikund and Badarinath, very little is known about the springs in the Himalayan region. It is desirable to have a compendium of springs in the whole of India showing particulars of:

1. Location.

2. Temperature.

3. Flow per second.

4. Perennial or seasonal.

5. Pure or containing minerals (analysis to be given).

 District collectors and other officials can help in collecting information regarding location of springs from the local people.

 Such information will help in understanding and mapping the SWCs.

 Water vents were discovered right at the bottom of the seas in 1976, of which early sailors were aware on account of the tremendous force with which the water flows upward and may even overturn vessels.

 If we imagine the earth without oceans and sands and surface soil, what is left will consist of continuous rock structure, extending from top of huge mountains to the bottom of deep oceans. The rock is porous and permeable. Water interacts with chemicals in the rock and dissolves them. Ice cracks up crevices and certain roots dissolve rocks, and, in millions of years, a whole network of channels are formed, filled with water. The total water content of SWCs is estimated to be thousands of times higher than the water content of all surface channels such as rivers, streams etc put -together.

 Unfortunately, very little is known and recorded about SWCs. Just as the rivers have been explored by geographers, SWCs too require concerted study by a group comprising experts from geology, hydrology, and oceanography, apart from geography, to determine their origin, route, and destination. After obtaining a three dimensional map of SWCs, it maybe possible to:

1.  Block a SWC at a suitable point and connect it to a stagnant lake to make it alive.

2.  Connect SWC reservoir to a dry river to augment the flow.

3.  Pump out the water from SWC for irrigation purposes or drinking.

This way, we can release pressure from the rock system,  to reduce the intensity of earthquakes.

 Even if no commercial exploitation is feasible, it is necessary to study SWCs for the sake of our knowledge. If millions of dollars can be spent, to study water in the Mars, should SWCs remain unexplored for want of money?

 What is the relevance of river Saraswati in this study?

 Considering the similarity in the source of Ganga and Yamuna, in glaciers of Himalayas, it is highly surprising that there is very little flow in the Yamuna. It is also noteworthy that at Sangam, the Ganga is clear whereas Yamuna is turbid. If the water of Yamuna goes underground to join SWCs which open at Sangam, the absence of water in the river and turbidity of the Yamuna at Sangam can be explained.

There is also the possibility that,  a part of the Alaknanda river goes underground, at the Mana pass. The guide actually shows the spot, I am told.

GROUND WATER LEVEL

Even the earliest civilisations near a river have survived. Kashi, near Ganga is such a city. The Nile was home to an ancient people, as also Narmada.

Many later settlements faced extinction,  owing to scarcity of water. It is clear that there was water, when the people originally settled there. The ground water level went on going down over a period of time, until it became beyond the reach of the people. Rajasthan desert has virtually a sea underneath, which was at sufficiently higher level, to support a forest, once upon a time!

At Jaisalmer, in the heart of the Thar desert, we saw a fossil park. There is a long trunk of a tree, black in colour, which is so old that it has become coal by slow oxidation. (You must have seen the change in colour of an old calendar and a new one. The hydrogen molecules at the surface of the paper, have combined with the oxygen of the atmosphere, leaving carbon molecules. Hence the change in colour.)

The whole tree has been encased in glass case. The area of the park, where one can see small pieces of coal, is well protected. I had not heard of it before.

What is the reason for the ground water level going down?

It may as well be, that the ground itself is going up!

Water finds its level. The oceans and rivers and water channels through the rock system, are all connected by macro and micro water channels. The relative level of one with the other, will have an effect on the ground water level, which is the basis for human and animal habitation.

The New World is comparatively low lying, except for the mountainous west. There is no shortage of water and comparatively no desert in areas corresponding to the great Sahara desert, extending towards the east, through Arabia, Tibet and China, where the general level of the earth is high, the Himalayas being the highest. The desert was once home to vast forests. When the ground water level fell, owing to the slow rise in the level of the earth, vegetation dwindled.

SHIVA AND SATI- A LOVE STORY

SHIVA
Of all the Hindu gods, Shiva is a bizarre charactor.
I think he never takes bath. He covers his body with ashes, carries a cobra on his shoulders, which holds  its hood high, like a sentinel and a lady named Ganga, secretly in his coiled hair, which is neither cut nor cared of. He travels on the back of a bull.
He wears nothing, except a tiger skin to cover his nakedness. Who will like to marry him?
Sati, a self willed, obstinate girl, fell madly in love with him. Her  father, a King (Daksha Prajapathy), who never liked Shiva, advised her, threatened her with dire consequences, and ultimately threw her out of his palace. Undeterred, the girl went to Lord Shiva and prayed to him, for their marriage. Thus, they became husband and wife; but their alliance was short lived.

Daksha decided to conduct a Yagam, involving animal sacrifice. All powerful Kings did so, to prove their might and to please the gods. He invited all and sundry, but deliberately omitted his son-in-law. Sati had hoped in her heart, that her father would forget his enmity with Shiva and forgive her, by extending an invitation, for such a grand occasion. But her hopes were belied by the despotic King.
Sati decided to go alone, ignoring the  warnings of her husband, who knew Daksha, but too well. His army of mustlemen, virtually goondas, accompanied her.
Daksha, who was in the midst of his Yagam, ignored her. Sati pleaded desparately, but her father remained unmoved. In her shame and desperation, Sati jumped into the sacrificial fire and ended her life.
 Enraged by this sudden tragedy, the army of Shiva’s goondas, ran amock, killing, throwing things here and there and setting fire to the tent. Daksha was killed in the melee.
Thus ended the first love story in India.
Here, we do not tolerate love between boy and girl, even now !