Why do we blink… a fascinating & beautiful story from Hindu Mythology

Have you ever wondered why we blink our eyes… like the beating of the heart.. it goes from birth to death.. unabated… something we take for granted as our birth right & yet we would never wish to lose it?

What would the world be like if we cannot see… the colours around us – the flowers, plants, birds, butterflies, fruits, etc., etc. Eyes are one of the most important organs gifted to us by our Creator. That’s why when the danger approaches the first thing we do is try to protect our eyes. Along with that, we are also blessed with a natural protection mechanism. Everyone blinks their eyes, unless they are paralyzed or suffer from some kind of disorder, till they bid final good bye to this worldly life. This process repeats itself without our knowledge unless we are sleeping. Blinking is the mechanism that protects the eye from external debris & spreads tears over the cornea. With every blink the eyelid spreads moisture over the cornea. There is a beautiful story about the blinking of the eyes (in every 0.2112 seconds) mentioned in Vishnupurana. A story of Love, Duty, Devotion & Commitment which seems to have almost slipped from the modern humanly diet!!

Ancient King Nimi was the son of Mithila King Ikshwaku & the grandson of Manu*, born in Janakpur (now part of Nepal). Nimi was a pronounced king with all the noble virtues & faultless ruling. Living in a utopia like kingdom, the subjects of his Videha Kingdom (aka Mithila) adored him. Keeping the welfare of his subjects and the peace & prosperity of the kingdom, Nimi wanted to perform a particularly powerful Yagna to evoke the blessings of the Gods. Preparation began & in the meantime he needed an exceptional powerful sage as the Presiding Priest for it. So after discussing with the Raja Guru & his Council, he came to the conclusion that Sage Vasishta would be the Presiding Priest.

So King Nimi himself went to Sage Vasishtha & bowed before him & with all the humility said: “Great Sage, I am performing a Yagna for the welfare of the Nation & the subjects. Kindly preside over it.”

Sage Vasishtha frowned & asked, “When are you going to start the Yagna?”

Surprised Nimi said, “as soon as possible Sir. We have already started gathering the essentials.”

Sage Vasishtha fell silent & perplexed & said “I am afraid I cannot come now. I have already committed to Devendra (Indra), the king of Devas, to preside on his yagna. In fact I am on my way & I cannot go back on my word.”

Now it was Nimi who went silent & kept looking at the Sage’s face with so many thoughts going through. He was wondering if he should wait for the great Sage to come back or not. Indra’s Yagna might take long time & it is a well known fact that it is always disturbed by the Danavas (demons – who also happened to be the step brothers of Devas). He thought, ‘the Yagna is not for me but for the welfare of the people…in this constantly changing world no one knows when things will change so I should not wait that long..’.

Sage Vasishta was also thinking… ‘the King has come all the way with humility, love & respect, & of course with a good cause, how sad would it be to send him back empty handed? The moment I am done with Indra’s Yagna, I will perform Nimi’s Yagna’.

Since both of them were highly evolved souls, they could not gauge what was going through other’s mind. Neither of them said anything & both went their ways….

Indra’s Yagna went on for quite some time & the minute it was over, Sage Vasishtha was happy because of the successful completion of the Yagna. Then immediately he remembered Nimi & bidding farewell to Indra he rushed back to Earth.

On reaching Nimi’s kingdom, Vasishta was in for a shock to see that the Yagna had already started with Sage Gautham as the Presiding Priest. Being Presiding Priest was a worthy & very revered job & sight of Gautham occupying what would have been his upset Vasishtha immensely. More over when he reached, King Nimi was sleeping & did not come to greet him too. It heightened his anger further. When in anger, one cannot think straight & Vasishta came to the conclusion that the King had deliberately insulted him by starting the Yagna without him. In the same fit of rage, Vasishtha cursed King Nimi: “You do not even have the courtesy to wait for the sage that you came to first. Such a man is not worthy of having a body. I curse** you, King Nimi that you will be without a body!!” As soon as the curse was uttered, Vasishtha realized his mistake but it was too late to undo it.

King Nimi woke up with a startle & when he heard the commotion around him realized that the things had changed from the time he went to bed. When he looked around he saw his own lifeless body & his family, the entire kingdom along with those present at the Yagna were crying. Wondering what was happening, he closed his eyes & meditated. With his divinity he was able to understand the situation & he was angry that Vasishtha was being so unreasonable. The thought of not completing the Yagna for his subjects & the opportunity robbed for no apparent reason accentuated the anger. Blinded by anger he cursed Vasishtha back saying: “I curse you that you would also be without a body!”

The king had not been a just ruler but also was very spirutal & had considerable spiritual prowess too. Hence his words also came true & Sage Vasishta’s spirit/soul**** left his body…..

Nimi roamed around in the form of a spirit & immersed himself in the Brahman. Now that he was not bound by his body or his responsibilities, he found the true joy of being one with the Brahman. The king became spiritually stronger as he meditated continuously.

In the mean time the citizens of King Nimis were very unhappy & they could not believe that the king who had looked after them like a father was no more. They could not phanthom the idea of continuing the yagna without their beloved King. So with help from the great priest present at the yagna, the family & the subjects manged to preserve the King’s body with oils & scents & continued the yagna with even more vigour.

Once the yagna was completed the Gods came in for their offering. At that time the people presented their plea before the Gods. They said,  “Our King was the greatest king in the world! He performed this yagna for our benefit! It was because of the yagna that his lifeless body lies there…. Please help us!*** “

“What do you want?” the Gods asked them.

“Let the King’s spirit be reunited with the body! We want our beloved King back! Without him we could never feel safe!”

Their intention & request was so genuine that pleased by the love of the people, the Gods agreed to their request.

Using their powers they summoned the King’s spirit & were about to put it back in the preserved body when the King yelled “Please… please… don’t do that!”

The Gods were surprised when the plea came from the King’s spirit.

“I am now free! I do not wish to have any more bondage! Please do not put me back in the body! I wish to continue to be free & become part of the Supreme Brahman!”

“Your people wish that you have to be with them! That is the reason we….”

Nimi looked at his people & memories of his subjects came to him, as if from another life. But he realized that these people genuinely loved & trusted him with their lives. He turned to the Gods & smiled at them. “If my subjects want me to be with them, I will! But not in the way they wish!”

The Gods looked surprised.

“I have lived like a spirit for too long & I cannot be attached to a body! However I wish to be a part of my people & their future generations to perpetuity! I wish to be in a spirit form with them always!”

The Gods granted this boon & even now Nimi is said to stay on in the eyelids of people. It is said that people open & close their eyelids because Nimi stays there. In fact the time it takes to open & close the eyelids is called “Nimisha” in Sanskrit.

However it was not good enough for the family & the citizens of Nimi. So they took the plea to the Sages to find a solution.

The Sages looked at the Kings body & decided that the body itself could be used for creating another King. Using the powers of the mind, they churned the body of the dead King & from it a glowing person emerged with complete spiritual awareness, well-versed in shastras & Vedas. The glowing man was named Kushadhwaja & was crowned as the King. Kushadhwaja was just as Nimi & he kept his people very happy & prosperous. However Kushadhwaja was not known by this name. Because he was born from a dead body, Kushadhwaja was known as Vaideha (son of the man without a body in Sanskrit) & because Kushadhwaja was born without an actual father or mother he was called Janaka (the man without a progenitor). Kushadhwaja was also born from the churning of the mind & hence was called Miti.

The King was/is better known by the name Vaideha Janaka from Mithila the father of Sita…. or Ramayana.

 

*It is said that Manu was the Manasa-putra (son created from mind) of Lord Brahma {the creator – one of the Trimurthi & not to be mistaken with Brahman, aka Paramatman, the Supreme Reality} & he started the new Yuga. The Sanskrit word Manav (for man) comes from Manu as he the progenitor of mankind.

** We often read about Curse in mythology. Everything in the creation is predetermined by Brahman, as Brahman is both the cause & effect. For example when we are born our death is already registered! Only thing a channel such as heart attack, accident, drowning, etc… is required. Hence even the curse of evolved souls has a purpose to surve. Even Sri Krishna was cursed by Gandhari to be killed & his clan Yadukula wiped out like hers did. Otherwise they could not just walk out of earth without reason.

***This was the face of ultimate Sacrifice/Love – Subjects wanted the boon for their King & King did everything for his subjects.

**** Some call it Spirit & some call it Soul… you can choose what you want… after all India is a democratic country!!

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Tri-colour tropical beauty in the desert of Kuwait…

The other day when I saw the creeper for the first time I could not believe my eyes… Wow…growing in Kuwait in all its tropical glory? There she was swaying happily, head held high, beaming with flowers and bees buzzing around. Nostalgic memories of childhood flooded back, elevating my mood for the day.  Back home we called it Beli-poo (hedge or fence flower) because that’s what we used it for. This pretty mildly fragrant (woody smell) with pretty long soft flexible tubular stem helped us to make garland or braid without thread. So we braided it together as crown, & played king & queen games. It’s hard to pinpoint the colour of the flower. Even though the bud often looks reddish, when the flower blooms in the evening it is white (almost) with very light subtle tinges of pink that gradually turns pink in the morning. It then graduates to a reddish pink by evening & stays the same till it dries. So we could be white or red or pink or colourful royalities!! It blooms from February to May & again from August to November. The creeper bears flowers every day during the season & the mature flowers stays for few days. So in the bargain it creates an unusually spectacular sight of three generations swaying together. The drooping bunch with rare tri-colour flowers at the same time is a sight to cherish. Bees & butterflies are attracted to these flowers.

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Native to tropical Asia, this ligneous creeper called Quisqualis Indica/Combretum indicum, Madhu Malati in Sanskrit,Akash Mallige in Kannada (akash meanins sky), Radha Manoharam in Telugu (sounds so very romantic), Chinese honeysuckle, Rangoon creeper, is a sturdy, vigorously growing, profusely flowering, perennial climber that practically does not need any maintenance. (Quisqualis in Latin means who or what!!). The leaves are elliptical with an acuminate tip & a rounded base. It supposed to bear ellipsoidal fruit with five prominent wings which tastes like almonds when mature. However, I don’t really remember seeing fruits though!! In a mature creeper, the stem becomes woody & thorns appear. Once established, it is the boss, sky seems to be the limit for Akash Mallige’s growth & with proper sunlight & enough water, it flowers profusely in big bunches of 15-30 flowers. (Can there be a better proof than its growth in Kuwait??). In between the season, the creeper sheds most of its leaves as if sad for not having flowers. Then starts to spring back with reddish leaves as if it is beaming in preparation for the motherhood!! Fast catching up as an ornamental creeper, you can train the creeper as you like & it can be grown in the pot too…

This Royal beauty has medicinal value too. I have heard that: decoctions of the root, seed or fruit can be used as antihelmintic to expel parasitic worms such as roundworm & pinworm or for alleviating diarrhea. It is said to be toxic to the parasite & kills it in the digestive tract. Fruit decoction can also be used for gargling & are also used to combat nephritis (inflammation of kidneys). Leaves are used to relieve pain caused by fever. The roots are used to treat rheumatism.

It is said that ”A thing of beauty is a joy forever!” No picture can do justice to a thing of beauty, as we see it in all its glory… nor does a picture satisfy the longing for seeing it for real. In my enchanted state, I have made humble attempts to capture the lovely sight as best as I can….. hope they please your eyes as they did mine!

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Sheer Magic of creation….

Witnessing both the side of the process of creation with naked eye….

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We called it the Midnight flower, and I saw the flower for the first time when I was in middle school. The fine silky texture of the spotless white petals almost gave an illusion of transparency. We had a vine in the pot for quite some time which grew from a small shoot to a tall lanky-gangly stemmed plant & one fine day it had many light carmine red buds formed along the edge of the leaf-like stem . The plant usually begins to set flower buds in July through September & it can be just a single one or as much as the leaf can accommodate. My mother, an avid gardener had managed to get a small cutting from somewhere. Since we saw it for the first time, as kids we used to wonder what is going to pop out of it. We watched it daily to gauge when it will bloom. Then the small little buds became bigger, swelling up dramatically in its shiny reddish shade.. so we still waited wondering if it was red flower or what… then Mum, in her colourful enthusiastic way, explained to us that it was going to be a beautiful, out of ordinary white flower with carmine red coloured outer petals the size of a dinner plate but only one problem we have to wait for it to bloom at night… as it is a midnight bloomer & the full flower will open only at midnight. by morning it will die… we could not understand the logic.

The nocturnal bloom concept was new to us. We knew of the fragrant parijatha (Nycanthes arbortrisis with small flower with snow-white petals & a orange-red pipe stalk) which opened in the evening.. with the full bloom at night & fall down in the morning, but it still would be opened & the scent would be still there for us to see and smell. Moreover in the evening its half opened too. So what is so different about this flower? This easy to grow, fast growing tropical plantdid not appeared capable of producing such stunning breath takingly beautiful blossom!! Even by appearance the stem does not look having the capacity to hold a single flower of such large dimension let alone FIVE or more at one go.

Finally the day came & we got the pot inside the living room so we can enjoy it as long as we wanted… my mother’s enthusiasm was contagious & even my dad was a willing partner in the whole drama. Even some of our neighbours were there! Telephones were not common & we were the ever ready message carriers about the imminent D-Day blossom!

It started opening up filling the room with fragrance. The buds began to open around 8 or 9 pm… (And be wide open by midnight). What a sight…. Luckily not one or two but five bloomed that day… When they are ready to open, they do so in dramatic fashion, literally before your eyes – you can practically see the movement of the flower. As if the whole process of birth & death is enacted right before your own naked eye in just one-third of a day!! A divine spiritual experience, believe me it’s worth witnessing the large (about 11 inches long & 5 inches wide), funnel-shaped, white flowers at least once in your life & it is worth losing a little sleep.. Perhaps that’s why people call it Brahma Kamala named after the creator. Everyone was spellbound & calling everyone around sharing the joy – come & see or did you see this & that. It was as if a new baby had arrived at home… & we all even took torch & try to look inside…. And I refused to go to bed without seeing the full bloom only to fall asleep on sofa… morning when I woke up the flower had already closed… making me so very sad… Mum said she tried several times to wake me but I would not budge… it was an electrifying moment.. as if the time stood still & seemed like the full moon had appeared in our living room… I cried my heart out.

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Each bloom lasts only for one night & by sunrise the flower is spent. So I had no choice but to wait for the next one. Back in those days, we all were very active children & there was no TV & the longer we were awake mother would make us study more. So we all learnt from small age to sleep early… hence I could not keep my eyes opened!! . We did see it again, but the enthusiasm & the magic was not the same as the first time…. Something like the first kiss! We children were the happiest because we would also get sweets/chaklis or something to eat too. The blooms appear intermittently during the summer months. Some plants bloom every year, while others have an alternate blooming cycle.. However, for years we continued the practice of waiting for it to bloom with the torch & sharing the joy! Eventually grew out of it like a child out of toy, becoming midnight flower Sanyasin!

A colleague of mine from Rathnagiri (Alphonso land) told me when they were little boys they knew the unique qualities of the flower & would say, if anyone can manage to put a flower in a case with a currency note or gold or diamond, the box would be filled with multiple of the same on its own… in other words sheer magical. I am sure there on too many different experiences around.

Years later in July 2013, the same drama was enacted far away from India at my neighbor Shruthi Cariappa’s house. Unfortunately I could not re-live the nostalgic memory as I was on vacation. Many of their friends were invited & there was dinner later it seems… a photo was posted on the facebook too. Many of the pictures posted here are from them. The timing is shown earlier my guess is that perhaps the plant brought from India has its biological clock set to Indian timing!!

There is also supposed to be another similar flower (selenicereus) in pulish-pinkish magenta. I never had the previlage of meeting…the pretty lady.

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Details on the flower, the plant, and growing it:  Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw. Commonly known as midnight flower, Dutchman’s-Pipe Cactus, Queen of the Night, Orchid Cactus, Jungle Cactus, Night Blooming Cactus, Night Blooming Cereus. In Kerala it is called Ananthasayanam or Nishagandhi flower. Ananthasayanam – infinite bed/seat – where Vishnu is sleeping on the Aadishesha, the thousand headed snake floating in the ocean of milk & the hood of Adishesha shielding the Lord. I was told by colleague that in Kerala this flower is considered sacred & this rare bloomer is usually welcomed by lighting a lamp. As it blooms in the evening, people consider it as a divine visit.. As the divine personality of God would visit us by a whisper of air or a butterfly touch, this flower blooms with an unusual divine fragrance around midnight& shuts off by morning. The inner core of the bud has the shape of a sleeping Sree Ananthapadmanabha (Maha Vishnu). Traditionally it is believed that menstruating ladies & non-veg eaters are not supposed to touch the plant. And it is said to bring good luck & wealth (lucky bamboo & money plant has a competitor!!)

It is supposed to be a tropical orchid cactus native to Central & Northern South America but it has been cultivated all over the world perhaps because it is unique. It’s an erect/semi-erect, branching cactus, can grow up to 20 feet tall with cylindrical stems bearing elliptic, leaf-like, scalloped, dark green stem/branches. These plants are very easy to grow even as a houseplant. Simply place each leaf cutting (roughly two to four inches in length) – cut end down (can root either way) vertically into some well-draining sandy potting soil. Pack the soil tightly around the leaf to remove any air pockets & make sure the whole bottom of the leaf has good contact with the soil. It should be rooted with three to six weeks. Root-bound plants tend to bloom better, so don’t repot your plant very often. Since it is a cactus water sparingly but regularly & make sure not to allow water to stand as it will rot. The soil should be allowed to dry between watering. Like vanilla if you stress the plant a bit, the flowers are better & bigger in size but quantity will be less. (But you should know what exactly you are doing). It will usually take two to three years before you have a plant that begins blooming. The plants are supposed to bear small, 4 inches long, oblong, purplish-red, angled edible fruits very similar to the pitaya or dragon fruit. But I never saw any in our plants at home or at our neighbours may be because the cooler weather condition or a particular species of pollinator required like vanilla which was absent or there was no chance of pollination as we always took the plant inside the house.

Coorg Warrior 1837

The following article is a contribution from my Son:

I’m a big history buff, and have spent hundreds of hours pouring over facts and figures from Cahokia to Dwaraka, Alexander to Xerces and Hannibal to Rommel. I’ve replayed alternative histories, imagined ancient battles, and often found myself dreaming about discovering new civilizations or lost Incan gold!

But what recently blew my mind was my own piece of investigative history during my trip to India last December (2012). With all the excitement of an old Tintin story, spanning two cities, learning something new about Coorg (Kodava) History, to finding lost gold (yes GOLD), all in a span of 36 hours! Here’s my story….

During my cousin’s wedding, I overheard someone talking about how Coorgs have stopped sporting the once famous “Coorg Wildlife Society”* stickers on their vehicles, and were now moving towards what’s called the “Coorg Warrior” sticker. Apparently the Coorg wildlife society sticker was so widely available that everyone and anyone were sticking it on their cars and bikes. Additionally, you no longer had to join the society to get the sticker, so this also led to a slight drop in its use by actual Kodavas.

My Dad was gifted one of the warrior stickers by a cousin of mine, and when I was in Mysore, I got a chance to take a look at it as I was cleaning out my Dad’s car. The sticker depicted a common poise of a Kodava Warrior, taken from an old French or British picture of an ancient Kodava warrior brandishing an Odi Kathi (Fighting sword) above his head, and a musket/flintlock on his other hand. I say ancient because of the particular way in which he wears his traditional attire: Coorgs today wear their traditional black woolen Kupiya, tailored to a modern fit, with a white and gold turban, a red and gold ornate silk sash (Chaele) that wraps tightly around their waists, and a ceremonial dagger, the Peche Kathi tucked into the sash. The kupiya is worn over either a modern shirt/pant/tie combination or over a kurtha pyjama.

However, if you look at the Warrior’s attire,  you’ll notice how it’s fitting to his martial needs. He wears a cloth around his head, his kupiya is free flowing, and not rigid like the woolen ones of today, and he wears nothing on this legs and feet. His Cheale appears to merely be a cloth wrapped around his waist. Even the peeche kathi appears to be purpose built as a weapon and less of a ceremonial blade.

The sticker also had the following words on the bottom, “Coorg Warrior 1839”. Now that year really got me hooked and my mom suggested I find out what the significance of that date is. That night, a bit of wordsmithing and googling later, this is what I found:

a)      There was no particular significance of the date 1839 in Coorg history pertaining to that medal. Let me know if you know otherwise**

b)      There was however, significance to 1837, when it is recorded in multiple publications and sites that a Coorg Medal was issued by the British Government to some Kodavas for their loyalty to the British during an uprising in Canara, Karnataka in April of 1837.

c)       The reverse of the medal is the Coorg coat of arms (sans the rifle that is in the coat of arms used today). This coat of arms contains the Odi and Peeche Kathi, and also included the “thodanga”, which is girdle used to hold the Odi Kathi at the back of the warriors waist. A laurel wreath surrounds all of them, and an English inscription surrounds the wreath “For distinguished conduct and loyalty to the British Government. Coorg, April 1837

d)      On the front of the medal, I found what I was looking for: The Coorg Warrior. The medal, unlike the sticker, afforded the opportunity to build depth the warrior, and so I could clearly make out the warriors face, well defined calf and pectoral muscles, his rifle, the free flowing Kupiya, the dagger in his Chale.

I was quite stumped: mainly because of my own (and I suspect most Coorgs) lack of knowledge in the origins of the Coorg warrior pose. Here I had found we were not only citing the date wrong, but more so, we were using a something that the British created as a symbol of our warrior history!

Now, I’m not going to get into the obvious arguments of our allegiances, what were we doing helping the British when we should have been fighting to keep them out, etc etc etc. India in 1839 did not exist as a country, and we were really 500 states (or countries even) that either paid tribute to or were ruled over by the British Crown. The concept of the entire region being a country is quite debatable, so let’s save that for another time or offline. For now, treat this as a story of what happened: pure facts.

Anyway, the next morning, off we went to Coorg for my final trip there before I had to come back to the US. That afternoon, I found myself sitting with my close uncle and aunt (I them Papa and Mama) and the conversation obviously drifted into this exciting story that I told them. How we were using a British sign of loyalty to depict our warrior backgrounds, etc. The whole time I told the story, I noticed a growing gleam in my Papa’s eyes, his lips and manner itching to butt into my story, until finally; he said “no you’re wrong; the medal was given by the Maharaja of Coorg, to certain people for their bravery. We have one of those medals, and I can show it to you!”He instructs his daughter to get the special medal from the safe, and I thought he was kidding. But lo and behold, she appears with this:

Front-lightroom British Coorg History india indian Knowlegde Martial medal Warrior Kodagu kodava wealth hindu  medal 1837 Back-lightroom British Coorg History india indian Knowlegde Martial medal Warrior Kodagu kodava wealth hindu medal 1837

Goosebumps, flashbacks, everything came pouring out as I took the medal in my hands. I just couldn’t believe I was holding a piece of history so close to my people, right in my hands, a mere 24 hours after I first began my search for an answer! After much observation and translating, we confirmed that it was indeed given by the British and not the Maharaja, and we spent the next hour or so refreshing our memories and getting our history right!

References

*Coorgs, traditionally bound by geography and family ties to Coorg, have spread out of their homeland over the last few decades, moving into Mysore, Bangalore and beyond. Fiercely connected to their identity, we would look for ways to identify ourselves when we were out driving around in these cities. Now, wearing a Kupiya and riding your motorcycle is not for everyone, but most of us would stick the Coorg Wildlife sticker our Motorcycles and Cars. I had one on my bike’s petrol tank, and most cars have it at the rear windshields or on the boot(trunk) of the car.

** It’s possible that strict British industrial age policy of making goods in the British homeland necessitated the medal being produced and shipped from the UK. This could mean that they were probably distributed in 1839 for the actions of 1837.  However, that’s my interpretation. The real person to know for sure is the one who printed the sticker for the first time:-D

Reference:

1880-British-Military-and-Naval-Medals-and-Decorations (pg 26, Coorg)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/100191148/1880-British-Military-and-Naval-Medals-and-Decorations

Knowlegde is power

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I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now. My children have been forcing me to write… but it never happened for two years now. Finally, my daughter-in-law said “I always learn something from your mails and stories, why don’t you write in a blog! We set up a site way back in November 2012, which forced me to write… I spent two months wondering what to write… and finally settled for an interesting thought and observation I have.

I’ll start with a small advice which was passed on to me by my departed father: old men are wise and that too fathers are always wiser, right? His advice was about education vs. wealth. As an Indian I have grown up looking at the pictures of gods and goddesses all my life. I am sure most of you know that Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of education and knowledge and Goddess Laxmi is the goddess of wealth. I wonder how many people really thought of or glanced at the depiction of both of them in either the Vedic symbolism or in the Indian philosophical perspective. Vedas are one of the oldest books known to mankind, yet they are also relevant and even modern in its thoughts, that can cater to the unending quest of the human mind. There is meaning for everything if one really wishes to learn, everything is given for a certain reason with certain inner meaning.

Take for example Goddess Laxmi. The goddess of wealth stands on the lotus with wealth (gold coin to be precise) falling from her hand. Wealth provides comfort, luxury & material enjoyment for the body. On the other hand Goddess Saraswathi, the goddess of words, knowledge and inspiration, clad fully in pure white sits gracefully either on a rock or on lotus playing her veena (lute). In Sanskrit the word ‘Sara’ means ‘essence’ and ‘swa’ means ‘self’. Thus Saraswati means ‘the essence of self’. She is known as the awakener of the consciousness to right thinking or right states of mind. She represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, eloquence and power. While Goddess Laxmi represents material wealth related to body and senses, Goddess Sarswati represents the purity of thought, word and deed.

A deeper meaning is that knowledge and education is like a rock which once gained cannot be moved. They are solid foundation that, rain or shine, sits like the rock. It’s a permanent gift one can give to oneself. No matter how hard one may try, they will not be able to steal it from you. Wealth on the other hand, is fickle. Like how with every passing wind, the lotus standing on water will sway from side to side, wealth always sways unsteadily. Unless one is really careful, it’s difficult to hold on to the wealth. In an instant, wealth can be blown away. Over the years I have seen people born with a silver spoon losing their money in a short span of time. However, a few years of hard work and dedication to education will reap healthy benefits in the longer run.

Moral of the story is: Give primary importance to education: It is the true key to success. I remember my son when he was in first or second standard singing his school anthem will full gusto “Knowledge is power! Knowledge is power! (I don’t think he understood the meaning back then) An education can also help you to manage your wealth.

I know one might say Bill Gates is a school dropout. Well there is only one Bill Gates out of 7 billion in the world right? Unless otherwise you are pretty sure that you are born in the right place at the right time with right luck, (did you check your horoscope this morning?), give the highest importance to education. That’s what I have been preaching my children all along!!

Na chor haryam, na raaj haryam, na bhratra bhajyam na cha bharakaari,
vyaye krate vardhate eva nityam, vidhya dhanam sarva dhan pradhanam

Meaning: The wealth that cannot be stolen, neither abducted by state, nor can be divided amongst brothers, Neither it is burdensome to carry, The wealth that increases by giving, That wealth is knowledge and is supreme of all possessions.