Ghee & the Modern Man

 

Known as Ghrit or ghrta in Sanskrit, ghee is considered is a staple in Indian cooking and has been a host of good health for thousands of years. I love both butter & ghee, & growing up have eaten loads of it. After she was done churning, my mother kept the butter floating in a dish of water on the dining table & every time we passed by a portion of it went into mouth!! Both Butter & Ghee are usually solid in cooler conditions & melts as it warms. The smooth texture, melting in the mouth gives that classy feeling like the melting chocolate. Butter, Sri Krishna’s favourite dish, has a limited shelf life but a simple process turns the same butter into ghee (Clarified butter, we call it “Nei” & Kannada “tuppa”). Ghee’s own shelf life is almost one hundred years if stored properly!!! That’s makes it survive longer than us.

Boiling the butter on low fire yields the ghee. My mother added few betel leaves for flavor towards the end. The butterfat is bottled after cooling, leaving the proteins (casein, way & other milk solids such as lactose, etc.) collected at the bottom. We kids waited for the chance to collect the bottom solids & ate with banana or simply dhal which is prepared in the same vessel and smelt so good.. became so tasty… my mouth is watering. We fought for the lion share of the betel leaves cooked crisp.

Food for the Mind & Spirit

Unfortunately, modern science came up with the idea that ghee is bad, corrupting every mind & until recently not realizing the value of it. So ghee became a No… No in the modern meals…. In a way they might be right too because their study came from the cows eating all sorts of manmade concoction including plastic & ground bones (powder) of other dead animals. On the other hand, in Aryurveda, our Rishis spoke of the cows which ate grass straight from Mother Nature’s lap. I think that when the cows eat the fresh grass roaming freely in the meadows, the grass smells so good – like how the mowing brings out the unusual smell, enhancing good feeling in ourselves – making the cow happy & calm. That pleasantness (of the mind – which makes us believe either we are happy or sad) is then radiated into the entire body of the cow like the sweet fragrance, including the udder (perhaps mainly udder because cow produces milk for its baby, the calf not for us the thieves).

Everyone knows that Body & Mind of the beings works in unison when the conditions are pleasant, communicating through chemical signals creating harmony with each other. Even though we cannot see, we can experience it! Also it is noteworthy that when we are happy, small little problems just does not get any attention from us which shows that positive thinking & healthy mind condition could also reduce negativity in us. The milk in the udder comes to man, then it is converted into many different forms such as curd, buttermilk, butter, cheese, etc., etc.

Now the scientists are turning around & says its goooodddd…. Mr. Ghee is trust worthy… after Mr. Ghee, Mr. Coconut also got a praise… Lol… wonder whether Indians & Ayurveda really need certificate from the Modern Science & their chameleonic theories.

Mrs. Cows graze mainly on grass & other greens, fruits & vegetables or rice, etc. So all the vitamins & medicinal properties of the food consumed is absorbed & transported to milk. So we get the nourishment like taking a supplement in modern terms!! It’s an antioxidant & has antiviral properties too. It contains Omega 3 (so called good cholesterol) & 6, which are boosters for brain & nervous system for smooth functioning. Let’s see some of the qualifications of Mr. GHEE.

In Ayurveda it is considered as a Satvic food & like all the Satvic foods, it promotes positivity, growth & expansion of the consciousness. Even though it is a diary product, coming from another body, like mother’s milk it is accepted by everyone including pure vegetarian Brahmins. That’s one of the main reason Cow is respected & regarded highly in India. Sadly, people think it is related to religion & kill them… losing long term benefits for less than an hour’s craving…

Ghee has a high smoking point (about 250 Degree C) so it will not break down into so called free radicals like other oils. It is rich in oil soluble Vitamin A & E, K2 & CLA as well as medium chain fatty acids, which are absorbed directly by the liver like carbs & burned as energy, which does not result in fat storage. It is rich in butyric acid (so named because it was first discovered in butter & it increases its concentration in ghee), which is considered beneficial to the digestive & immune systems in many ways.

It protects the body, aids digestion & strengthens immune system. In Ayurveda, ghee is used as a carrier for the nutrients in herbs & to lubricate the intestinal tract & all the tissues inside the body. Bowl movement & Digestion related problem, is a big problem for many people in the modern world. Our body is designed to digest. However, many suffer from digestive stress & it is said that an estimated one in four Americans suffers from gastrointestinal (GI) track & digestive maladies! (no study is done in India…)

Ghee preventing onset of body ache, joint pain, alzimers, cancer, etc., etc. So don’t feel bad if you want to consume gheeeeee….. However, people suffering from heart ailments & diabetics should be little careful & if doctor says no then please don’t eat it!!

Finally, the ghee enhances the taste & flavor of the food. Cook dhal, chicken or biryani with ghee & see how great it tastes & smells!! My mother used to narrate this fable: Kai guna Mavayya or nei guna Mavayya (is it merit of the cook’s hand or the ghee). A wife had been cooking for her husband all her married life. He never really appreciated or perhaps did not show openly. Time passed, her son grew up to be nice young man & got married, & the daughter-in-law, let’s call her Asha came home. Once wife was away for few days & the Asha cooked the food. The food was so tasty… Mava (father-in-law) could not believe his tongue. When his wife returned, all that she heard was that how good was Asha’s food… all her dishes. Suddenly/sadly the old man felt wife’s cooking was not good, nothing in front of Asha!! Poor Mavi (mother-in-law), a good cook herself could not understand how come her food is not tasty to her husband any more. So one day she hid herself & watched Asha cooking everything with ghee. So next day the smart lady hid the ghee container. Asha could not find the ghee & unable to ask anyone, finished cooking with oil. After tasting Mava said why Asha did not cook today.. the food is not tasty…. Wife was waiting for this & told her husband to ask Asha “Kai guna or nei guna”? Asha shyly answered “Nei guna Mavayya”, ending Mava’s nagging of his wife for good!

Me& the Kodava Mapila

January 2016, just 10 days after coming back from India, I was going again to India as my brother was unwell… It’s been two decades since I traveled by Kuwait Airways… they had started a direct flight to Bangalore lately. Departure from Gate No.8 in the basement.. it was crowded… a group of Indians were returning from Omrah… strangely majority of them were coughing… as if there was a coughing competition. Like some times during the rainy season when a group of frogs starts croaking in one location, the minute it stops the sound from another batch in another place will start as if they are in to Olympic size competition. Same way they coughed nonstop… Then magically a lady, new comer who just came at the same time as me started coughing… instant transferring of coughing… Wow so much so I started regretting that I was making a trip by KAC as I was afraid that I would be carrying the transferring-cough to the hospital with me making everyone sick including my brother. But I had no choice but to wait as the synchronized coughing bout continued.

Finally, we reached the aircraft to be waiting yet again for another hour or so as the conveyer belt had some problem. Thanks to whatsapp, I spent that extra hour messaging my family voicing my fear about transferring-cough. The lady who caught the cough at the airport was sitting next to me & started complaining how she got the cough. In the meantime the gentleman who was on the other side of the isle who was also going home from Saudi was trying to assure me that it’s not contagious & they drank chilled water in the cold weather which effected their throat. I had no comments… I was stressed.. tired & too worried about what must be happening back home?

The woman next to me spoke nonstop during the flight, with breaks to cough every now & then… baffling me with her personal history. An adventure par excellence & beyond imagination, one of the most fascinating persons I have ever met! To my utter surprise she was an illiterate shepherdess, who never stepped into a classroom in her life!! Spending 6-1/2 hour with her was like a life time… In return all that she wanted from me was to fill her information in the immigration form… and point to her where to sign & assist her to talk to the custom office when landed regarding the 32” TV which she was carrying with her!! But the world she opened around me was infinite.

Still coughing in synchrony, most of the passengers slept off after the meal…. Somewhere in between I heard someone talk in a strange Kodava-dialect.. I thought I imagined it & ignored. After a while I heard again but I could not get up & look as it was dark… after the dinner the lights were off… anyway we landed in Bangalore late… While getting up I saw this lady wearing manly-looking, shiny gold-rings in 3-fingers.. just joked with her so you got a new ring… wow.. nice… in English… she gave me a weak smile without answering back but her husband from behind said yes.. in Riyadh… then I picked up a conversation & learnt that they were from Kodagu & 35 of them went to Omrah as part of a group … When I understood who they were, it was a strange feeling… while growing up I had heard of them but never really bothered to find or talk to them as there was simply no need & the priorities were different then.

They were a gang of Kodava-Mapillas, the progenies of Tippu’s malice…… who are still known as Kodava-Mapillas in Kodagu, speak the language (though with a slightly different accent/dialect) but their ways, life style & behavior were different… clothing was different.. Ironically they still have clan names too… I had such mixed feelings…after all, we shared the same DNA in a different past yet we were poles apart… somewhere inside my heart, it pinched me… I know its history yet I wondered what if it did not happen all those years ago.. what if maniac Tippu’s father never came hitch-hiking to India? Perhaps I would have known some of them personally, some of them may have been my relatives. {as a small community which does not allow inter-marriages, the whole community is somehow distantly related to each other.} I would have spent time with them & enjoyed their company. So many if & buts… it was a far-cry & a question which will never have answers…. I couldn’t even imagine myself fitting into their shoes…

According to Indian belief the “runau-bandha” (there is no equivalent word in English… the unexplained relationships something like unseen & unwritten DNA), lasts for 7-lives… doesn’t expire even when the physical body expires!! There was this elderly lady & a middle aged man was helping her out… he said it was his aunt. When I reached the escalator they were in front of me & the man was trying to convince her to go with him… waited for a minute or so & offered to help her… that man left her hand immediately & moved forward, the lady did not put her feet down properly & along with her I too fell down on the escalator… perhaps God was watching as both of us were unhurt.. Finally we ended on top of the escalator & I requested one of the guys around to arrange for a wheelchair for the lady. Later found them near the luggage area again & spoke to them …to make sure the old lady now on wheelchair was safe & comfortable. Our acquaintance ended there… it was a strange feeling… it had been a long stressful day from the time I heard about my brother early morning… meantime so much had happened in a different way.. I met so many people & learnt so much about the life.. When we landed something strange happened, which perhaps even Mr. Ripley can’t find an answer… all of a sudden everyone stopped coughing!! LoL it just vanished into thin air of Namma-Bengaluru.

Forcible conversion is a funny thing… a cruel joke, treating humans like lifeless objects without any personality… Gold can be converted to bangle, chain, necklace, ring, etc… but the gold always remains the same only it’s shape & quality changes. I remember whenever we twisted & turned while explaining or doing something, my mother would say.. if you take the food straight from the plate (Indian enjoy eating with hand) it will go to your mouth… supposed you take your hand (with the food) around your head & eat, it still the food goes to your mouth… so speak straight! Similarly whether one convert or not the physical body does not alter, the body function does not alter, DNA remains the same… perhaps all that happens is the way they dress, food/drink habits & change in praying style.. but the prayer will be still towards the same God… only thinking process differs. People cannot alter God. God does not belong to anyone and we belong to God and it is the ultimate fact of life. God is beyond anyone’s perception or reach unless one becomes a real human in deed & thinking… Feel sorry for those pathetic, purposeless, sadist salesmen of God who acts like a monkey who is given charge of maintaining the beautiful garden. No matter how much hungama one creates to prove their religion or faith is better than others they will not be born or created differently… they will not eat or bring out the waste product differently. They cannot progenate differently.. That’s how it meant to be because God is only one… that’s the first second & the third fact!!

 

 

Tippu Series Part 5: What’s with Astrology & Tippu?

He was an unusually unpredictable character & a delusional soul… he claimed that he was a Muslim. However, since his passion for expansion weighed greater, he was addicted to astrology. He consulted astrologers, believed in omens, sought answers for his dreams… on behest of astrological predictions observed some Hindu believes to ward of trouble… Even spared some temples from destruction to avoid curse!! Yet he used conversion as a tool… perhaps he must have thought that they would be loyal?

He enjoyed the destruction of temples… His destruction of Hindu temples were innumerable. The intensity of Tipu’s raid was so terrifying that hundreds of temple priests from Kodagu fled to Mangalore along with their families. Many Priests had to dump the idols & the other holy artifacts into temple wells to protect it. Many priests lost their lives. Worship came to a permanent halt in several temples. Like the Maletirike Bhagavati temple at Virajpet some temple were covered with leaves in order to conceal their presence. The famous Omkareshwara (Shiva) temple of Madikeri faced mortal danger. To avert it from Tippu’s wrath the ruler of Madikeri removed the existing tower (Kalasha) of the temple & replaced it with a dome so that it appeared like a Mosque from afar. To this day it stands with its dome as a testament to Tippu’s destruction spree!

On the other hand it is on record that the Tipu addressed the head of the Sringeri Math, Sachchidananda Bharati, as Jagadguru (“World Teacher”; Saletore, 1999, p. 127) &, according to an eyewitness account, “went barefoot to [the] . . . Math to receive the Swamy’s blessings & to ask him to pass on a letter to the Marathas requesting them to take his side than that of the British” (Subhan, 2002, p. 43). Tipu patronized the temples of Sri Gandeswara & Sri Ranganatha. Subbaraya Chetty (1999) cites a list of grants from the Sultan to the Hindu temples & priests.

As the an astrology freak he consulted Hindu astrologer to find out right time to travel, start & wage wars, gave Brahmins dakshina to clear any bad omens. So much so, he was wearing a 41.2 gm oval yellow gold ring with the name of the Hindu God Rama inscribed in raised Devanagari given by Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math. He must have hoped that by wearing such a ring, he would reach the status of reverence like Lord Rama & his lies will be covered. {The famous ring was sold in Christie’s auction as part of the Raglan Collection on May 23, 2011 for 1.5 crore rupees. It was taken off the finger of the dead ruler by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, as his personal spoil of war after the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799.} Astrologers obliged him fearing for their lives, their family & to protect their deities. Because of Tipu’s trust in astrology, astrologers managed to convince him that offering poojas on behalf of him at Sri Ranganath temple will give him immense power that he seeks. That’s one of the reasons few of the temples like Sri Ranganatha is still standing! Not because he was an apostle of secularism, peace & religious tolerant! {Sri Ranga did pay his debt by saving Tipu’s life once… read further!) Also it is said that Tippu used to dream & would seek meanings & solutions for his dreams from both Hindus & Muslim astrologers….. it is not surprising!! How could one sleep in peace after the evil destruction?

In 1960s when there was heavy rains & flooding in Lakshmanathirata River, many artifacts such as lamps washed up from the sand near my cousin’s home. He not only destroyed the two temples (there were very few temples in Kodagu) near my ancestral home in Napoklu, Kodagu but also along with it, set fire to the  homes of Kodavas & burnt everyone inside alive by not allowing anyone to leave. The atrocities meted out on Nairs (in general it is referred as Nairs but it is inclusive of all the Hindus of Kerala), Kodavas, Brahmins, Catholics in Mangalore, is beyond imagination. Interestingly, according to the folk lore, the origin of Badaga community of Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) with their uniquely beautiful culture & songs originated when their revered “Hethai“ managed to escape Tipu’s advances with handful of trusted people from Karnataka. Luckily they managed to make a living & to keep their culture & tradition alive. There are one too many untold tragic calamities befell on so many communities & families.

Tipu’s correspondences with the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math reveal his scare for the foreboding of doom that he tried desperately to counter (Sharma, 1991). A firm believer in astrology, he often resorted to religious rituals & wore apotropaic objects & trinkets—Hindu as well as Islamic—either to avert a disaster or to attain success in his undertakings. A near contemporary historical account describes how, on May 4, 1799, the day Tipu died in the battlefield, he had ordered for all the ceremonies prescribed by the Brahmins to be duly performed, & having given them several presents, requested their prayers for the prosperity of his government. He also ordered to be slaughtered two elephants with all their golden trappings; . . . & large sums of gold mohurs were distributed amongst the beggars. (Maistre De La Touche & Mohammad, 1855, p. 307)

When the morning of May 4th came, Tipu was told that, the omens were not propitious. Since fighting was inevitable, He tried to ward off misfortune. Perhaps his black soul was so huge, even the elephants souls could not carry it away which stayed behind to welcome the death personally!! He appears to have developed a defeatist mentality of a doomed man several months before the siege of Srirangapatnam. Lieutenant Wilks writes of the Sultan’s apprehension of an impending dissolution of his empire based on a folk tale of cephalomancy he sincerely believed. {Cephalomancy: Divination by the study of the skull or head of a donkey or goat. Sometimes mentioned as the roasting of an ass’s head on hot coals}. According to this tale, the mysterious power of a crushed human skull showing some cracks caused the death of 40 persons. When Tipu noticed some cracks on the mast of the ship the Frenchman Ripaud had taken to the Isle of France, he was convinced that these cracks foreboded the destruction of his empire & thus “he readily made up his mind to throw himself unconditionally in his Lordship’s [Wellesley’s] compassion” after he had read the Governor General’s letter of January 9, 1799 (Wilks, 1810-1817/1869, Vol. 2, pp. 332-333). {Wilks does not mention how he obtained the information on Tipu’s reaction to Mornington’s letter of January 9, 1799.}

It’s very odd to write this… for all his offering to Hindu Gods & God men (Brahmins)… Sri Ranaga did save his life once, in the form of a Nair!!

 

Tippu Series Part 4: The marauding Tiger

Roderick Mackenzie (1793) commented on Tipu’s march to Trinomaly & his mayhem there in 1790: Here neither respect, for the grandeur & antiquity of their temples, nor veneration for the sacred rites of a religion whose origin no time records, proved any protection for the persons or property, even of the first Brahmins. Their pagodas, breached with sacrilegious cannon, were forcibly entered, their altars defiled, their valuables seized, their dwellings reduced to ashes, & the devastation was rendered still more horrible by the scattered remains of men, women & children, mangled beneath a murderous sword. (Vol. 1, p. 203).

On his raid of Napoklu near Madikeri, Tipu destroyed the temples in the the surrounding villages of Betu & Kolakeri. He set fire to the house of the Biddatanda family. Forty members of this family were captured as prisoners & transported to Ganjam. After a few years, two members of this family escaped from Ganjam & returned to their hometown. One of them was a warrior named Appanna. However, the people of his hometown decided that he had now become a Mapila (Muslim), & excommunicated him. Appanna built a hut near the town-lake & spent the rest of his life there. This lake was in existence till recently, & was known as the Appannajja kere (Lake). Like the siege of Nargund letter (quoted earlier), he left nothing in the path of destruction. Remnants of the savagery that Tipu inflicted upon the hapless Kodavas are visible even today. His actions could dwarf every event from Afghanistan to Middle East combined. (Sandeep Balakrishna- Tipu Sultan The Tyrant of Mysore page 105).

Even today, we find the descendant of these Kodavas who were forcibly converted during Tipu’s time. these Kodava mapilas till recently used to celebrate Coorg festivals, built houses (called ain-mane) like the non-Muslim Kodavas, bore the same arms, the same kind of jewelry, & carried similar surnames. We have surnames like Alira, Cheeranda, Chimma Cheera (this surname is shared by non-Muslim Kodavas), Duddiyanda, Kaddadiyanda & Kolumanda in Virajpet. In Davanageri village, we have Muslim family names like Puliyanda & in the regions surrounding Virajpet, we have Muslim family names like Kuvalera, Italtanda, Mitaltanda, Kuppodanda, Kappanjeera. Similarly in the Madikeri taluk, we have Kalera, Chekkera, Charmakaranda, Maniyanda, Balasojikaranda & Mandeyanda.  Intriguingly, in the Hoddur village in Madikeri taluk, there is a Muslim family with the surname of Harishchandra… (Sandeep Balakrishna, Tipu Sultan the Tyrant of Mysore page 108).

Being Kodava – “No Thank you”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going against the theme of this blog by saying “no thanks” to being a Kodava. That’t not what this is about. Often I get asked where I’m from and more often than not people haven’t heard about Coorg. I also sometimes explain to people how and why the culture is so different from those that surround us.  There’s a lot of hype about our origins, including that we’re somehow connected with the Greeks of Alexander’s time. “Being Kodava” is my take on what it is to be a Kodava, and some of the things we should be proud of.

Someone once asked me how do you say thank you in your language. I told them in my language, we do not have words for “Thank you, Please, or Sorry”. We have never been taught it, and as far as I know, these words don’t exist. Did they once exist but were got rid of once the brits took  over our educational system? We’ll never know. But what I was told was the reason for this paucity of “Golden words” is because for kodava’s,  it’s our duties as family, community and friends to help each other out at all times, to always be there for anything, without having to ask please if you want something, say thank you when you have been helped, or say sorry if you have hurt.

kodava coorg traditional wedding jewelery men peeche odi kathi

This is quite deep if you think about it. Western education is steeped in the use of golden and kind words almost mechanically, sometimes without really meaning it. Making helping others a duty is really unique in our culture, and it really has to do  with the unique clan setups we have in Coorg: Clans typically helped each other with everything from planting crops, defending them against wild animals, celebrations, festivals, weddings, wars, etc. Every traditional wedding begins with the close family members getting together to cook for the entire wedding. It is our duty to help.

See there is more to being Kodava than coffee, Greeks and our weddings!

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!!

Krishna Kamala or Passion of Christ… did I fall from heaven??  

While walking around Kukkanalli pond in Mysore, I saw these wild fruits hanging from the vine on a fence which looked like a small wild passion fruit but was hairy like ramubtan. I was very sure it’s the cousin of passion fruit as the flower & the leaves looked same but I was not sure if the fruit is edible & as usual my husband would not let me pluck it to avoid me eating it. Known as Kukkiballi in Kannada is also called clock flower, love-in-a-mist and stinking*.

I have seen & tasted passion fruit all my life & simply love the amazing taste &, flavour of the juice which is hard to find on shelves even though its presence is felt strongly in most the cocktail juices. It’s a popular fruit in Kodagu & every one, young & old alike loves it. The pulp is used in juices, wines, ice creams, cakes (my mouth is watering, honestly), etc. Some of my relatives make amazing concentrates. There are more than 400 species in passion flower family passifloraceae & the flower is usually white & purple or mauve. Depending upon the variety & climatic conditions, there are many types of passion fruits & comes in different sizes, shapes & colours like purple/maroon, green, yellow etc & the taste could be sweet to sour to somewhere in in-between. Usually the purple/maroon ones are sweeter!!

When we were young we also used to eat a wild variety just like the passion fruit but with slightly elongated fruit with supple outer cover & white flower (I think), which is hardly seen these days. It said to have possessed many medicinal properties.

IMG-20140913-WA0014

Those who have not seen or eaten a passion fruit, the globose fruit have a white sack (which resembles dressed goat tripe – the Turkish towel like stomach cover) inside the smooth, hard outer shell/cover. The sack is filled with numerous black seeds with a very thin coating of orangish-yellow, pulpy-juicy flesh. Even when the fruit is wrinkled outside with aging, the sack inside remains fresh for some time.

20140831_164401

Coming back to the flower, it also comes in exotic colours such as dark purple, red, fuchsia, etc. But they are mostly ornamental & do not seems to be bearing fruits. The flower stays for a day only but blooms practically every day & butterflies are attracted to these flowers. The wild, cultivated & the hybrid flower formation looks the same at the first glance. But if you look closely it differs from one another. It looks as if so many different parts from different flowers are put together to form an unusual master piece. Human globalization is happening now but this species seems to be far ahead of us. The flowers usually have pleasant smell (at least the ones which are known to me).

IMG-20140914-WA0016

The amazing thing is that the uniquely beautiful flower & the vine is linked to scriptures & believes in different religion. The name passion flower was given by the 15th century Spanish Christian missionaries who thought that the flower depicted the crucifixion (passion) of Christ (Crown of Thorns (corona), & other parts as the instrument – 3-nails, 5-wounds, sponge of Gall & vinegar, Pillar of scourging, sacrificing blood, Centurion’s spear (leaf), lashing (tendrils) & the fruit (as globe). Some people also link it to sexual passion, after all a man sees in the world what he/her carries in his/her heart….

In India it is called both as Krishna Kamala (particularly the large purple one) & Paanch Paandav (Mahabharata). The unique formation of the perennial flower is supposed to symbolize or represent: The waxy-white Petals (5) alternating with sepals (5) with their green hook (awn) at the tip for ten Avtars of Vishnu, five 5 filaments with anther in the center for five well-armed Pandavas, the single ovary (bulb in the center) for Pandava queen Draupadi & the three styles with stigma for the holy trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. And the corona filaments are the Sudarshana-chakra of Lord Krishna. I was told that the filaments are hundred in number representing the Kauravas. I had to hire a pro-bono investigator to count the number… & luckily my husband’s niece who also has a degree in criminology fitted the bill & she reported back with a picture: I counted the filaments with a tweezers and there are exactly one hundred!!

To top it, the 3-lobed leaves which are alternately arranged along the stems & borne on stalks, shaped in trident (Lord Shiva’s weapon) form. Whatever one may perceive it as, one thing is certain that it is amazingly beautiful. Don’t believe me take a break & look in the neighborhood you might find one or go to a botanical garden!!

IMG-20140913-WA0015

I am sure besides being beautiful, there is something special about this flower as thousands of miles apart two different believers associated their belief in it!! After all the life spark/energy in me is the life spark/energy everywhere & everything comes from God almighty. If beauty lies in the eye of the beholder – Faith lies in the very being itself. When you are in love with God you can see God everywhere & in everything. This unusually beautiful flower looks out of this world… as if someone stole her from the heavenly garden & brought her to earth or perhaps she was so proud of herself & her significance, the weight of the pride brought her down to earth!!

The vine can be reproduced by seeds easily but it’s a very slow process. So commonly it is propagated by mature cuttings. This hardy long lasting vine loves sun but not scorching though & water, & unless groomed can grow uncontrollable yielding plenty of fruits under healthy conditions. So you have to provide a strong support. I vaguely remember seeing large bees & humming bird buzzing around. All the unopened buds from different species are light green in colour. The flower looks strong but it is delicate. The petals & sepals have the same finish & can be passed as petals. But if you look closely the sepals have green hook (awn) at the tip. It is said that each & every part of the flower has specific role which they play religiously!!

Among the flowers I have seen only the wild one on the bank of the pond had bracts, which are supposed to trap insects but if as merely as defensive mechanism to protect its flowers (think it was white) & fruits or is it carnivorous (digest & gain nourishment from its catch) is not known. Leaves & stems of this particular variety is said to be poisonous. Wondering if I should eat & test it??

The whole vine has medicinal properties & is used in treating digestive problems including dyspepsia & diarrhea, an astringent & expectorant for nervous conditions & spasms. Tea from the flower is an antioxidant & used to calm the mind (depressant) as well as sleeping aid, used to contain diarrhea/dysentery, neuralgia, etc.