Rain havoc in Western Ghats… Scientific and unscientific or non-scientific reasoning….

This article is purely based on my perception and understanding of the Nature and Indian culture.

Huyo.. huyo.. maleraya huvina totake neerilla (pour, pour rain king there is no water for the flower garden..) a song we all sang and played in the rain while growing up. Now the situation in Kerala and Karnataka is such that one has to sing nillo.. nillo.. maleraya kudiyoke neerilla (stop, stop rain king there is no water to drink). Sadly after four years of draught, rain god has unleashed his fury with a bang like the minor version of big-bang. Ativrushti and anavrushti (too much or too little falling from heaven), both are purely under the control of nature and no matter what one cannot control it.

Both Kerala (nick named God’s own country) and Karnataka are part of Western Ghats. The Western Ghats or Sahyadri (benevolent) Mountain range along the Western side of India, which was formed more 150 million years ago during Gondwana split-up and is older than the mighty Himalayas. The range starts near the Gujarat and Maharashtra border and runs approximately 1,600 KMS through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala till Kanyakumari.

Irrigated by healthy monsoons, Western Ghats was a dense tropical forest and the canopy was always wet. These ancient well balanced hills form a catchment area for complex riverine drainage system and were filled with tall remarkable trees, giant bamboo clusters, medicinal plants, flora and fauna. The area had over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species recorded. The UNESCO world heritage site is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world.

But nothing has stopped man from meddling in Mother Nature’s affair. Due to ignorance and greed, destruction and death on the Western Ghats, which Mother Nature nursed and nurtured so very carefully over thousands of years has been going on over a period of time. But now it is slipped into fast forward motion which I have witnessed in my life time. Flora and fauna is pushed into extinction faster than the food is being digested in the stomach! Even the insects including the major pollinator the honey bee population is practically wiped out. Sight of sands on the river banks has become a luxurious sight! Karnataka and Kerala are strange bed mates and are poles apart in ideology but vested interests are common. After all they are human.. For some personal gains of few people, it’s been massacred and continued to do so.

In 1947, the onslaught of endless invaders from Middle East to Mongolia who brought their looting, killing and messing up the religious beliefs finally ended. Unfortunately seven decades of independence we are still held hostage by few powerful ruthless politicians and dynasties. Regrettably there are few individuals, in the name of religion and politics doesn’t lag behind too. Innocent people become victims of party wars and religious propaganda.

Aiding and abating is equally sinful as committing a crime. Like how both the states seems to be competing on who gets more rain, they competed in victimizing the people too. When politicians makes Kodagu a battle ground for votes, men armed with whatever they can afford comes to do dadagiri from Kerala too…. For example when an innocent man was hunted down and killed in broad day light in front of thousands of people within the hospital premises, even before his body was cooled down completely the verdict on killing was passed sitting in a faraway place, perhaps the fasted verdict on record. This is the fate of our beloved country… murder, rape, corruption has reached almost to the point of no return. At times, even a demon king shines dim in front of some deeds.

Now the scientific reason… over the years Mother Nature has been used, misused and abused by man, continuing to do so. Even when I was growing up the situation was not that bad. Even the Kasturirangan committee report sought to balance the development and environment protection of Western Ghats never saw the day light.

Unfortunately Man has short memory and he never learns from history. There is a limit to the tolerance of the most tolerant, the beloved Mother Nature. Unless the children/children are reformed from time to time, they will surely go wayward. How much of an imbalance is being created in recent years can be compared with the picture of Kodagu and its forest using the following report as benchmark even with habitation after establishing Madikeri.

When Tippu Sultan came to Kodagu in summer, he was also accompanied by officers and Munshi, who were shocked to experience the climatic conditions, forest, cold and rains in Kodagu. The weather was such that Tipu Sultan’s soldiers imprisoned themselves inside the fort to keep warm. A historian who accompanied him writes about Kodagu in his words. Since they were in a new place and new atmosphere, he could give a better picture than a local who was bred there.

What can I say about the amazingly wild land? Just uttering or spelling the words, the pen shivers. The bamboo bushes like the Abyssinian sheep fur, curled and impossible to penetrate. Both the large paths (cart-ways) and small paths (footways) are like passing through the stars in the sky. This country’s hills and valleys are impossible to pass through. On the taggu bhoomi (flat land), paddy crops are as tall as the chest level. Sun, even though hotter-than-hot thyself always covers himself with clouds being afraid of the cold in Kodagu, hurries along and departs early from here. Every night the fast traveling moon seeks cover under the blue sky. If summer is like this, then God only have to save us in rainy season.

The rainy season, for six months in all of this country it rains so much that the entire land is filled with water in such a way like a sad person’s eyes filled with water all the time. From evening till after the sun rise, the valley is filled with heavy mist. Lots of tall, well built, active young men, losing their body heat with bone biting cold, sleeps like an arched bow pulling their body close to their chest.  For six months, farmers cover with thick cloth or old blanket from head to toe and work nine to ten hours. During this season, the leeches from the trees and branches suck enough blood from them and their cattle before letting them go. While describing the condition of Kodagu, the hand that holds the pen is frozen like the hand dipped in the frozen icy sea. When the weather is being explained, the tongue safe within the lips feels like the ice berg with fear and astonishment!

Let us look at it in the non-scientific angle. Kerala is said to be created by the axe carrying warrior sage Parsurama, the Sixth Avatara of Lord Vishnu. He is supposed have thrown his axe and the sea receded covering the distance it covered. No wonder there are thousands of temples for the size of Kerala. In short the legend goes that:

His birth claimed to be to quell the oppression of the then ruling Kshatriyas. When he finished the blood filled five lakes! Burdened by the sins of killing, he approached an assembly of learned men to find a way for penitence. He was advised that, to save his soul from damnation, he must hand over the war gains to noble and pious people and meditate at Gokaranam. Doing so in Gokaranam, Varuna, the god of ocean/rain and Bhudevi, Goddess of Earth blessed him.

Once free of his sins, from Gokaranam he walked upto Kanyakumari and threw his axe northward across the ocean. The place where the axe landed is Kerala. According to the old measures it was 160 Katam. Earlier Kerala was known as Parasurama Kshetram or in Sanskrit Aitareya Aranyaka. Later when King Keralian Thamboran ruled it got its name Kerala. There are some people who also say, when desert dwelling Arabs landed on the shores of Kerala they were mesmerized by the beauty and said Kair-alla (gift of God) and hence the name.

Then there is the world famous harvest festival Onam, in the honour of benevolent Asura (demon) utopian King Mahabali, the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grandson of Prahlada and son of Virochana who was wise, judicious and extremely generous. But that legend is from Lord Vishnu’s Vamana (dwarf) avatara. However, both the legends are related to the arrival of Lord Vishnu.

Santana dharma, the oldest philosophical school of thoughts has given us not just a book but a library to learn. It teaches us to respect Mother Nature and live in harmony with every living being in the universe.

Indian culture believes that every element in the universe created by the creator has sagacity. That’s why the philosophy says God in me is God everywhere. God is not an individual entity sitting in a far off place probably known as heaven but we are all inside him, he is part of us. Mother Nature is the manifested form of the God. Like a fish in the ocean we dwell within him in his unmanifested form. The very spark of life which makes us alive, the very breath we take which when stops we die, is the very presence God. (Sorry these explanations come from my limited knowledge and I cannot explain more).

Based on that Indian culture says water carries memory. Now scientists say that under certain circumstances water can retain a memory of solute particles after arbitrarily large dilution. Water memory is the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substance previously dissolved in it even after an arbitrary number of serial dilutions. So if we think in that term then is the water claiming its property which was taken forcibly?

Scientists gave up searching for the God particles even though they claimed finding it and spent billions and billions of something to be scraped! So is there a force beyond our understanding capacity? What our forefathers found and tried to explain has some essence in it? Is there a secret buried or hidden in Western Ghats which cannot be disturbed? Is it time to learn to respect the privacy of Mother Nature?

Then there is Naga, the serpent people who is supposed to live underground. There is no logical explanation as no one has seen them in the living memory but it appears in Indian scriptures. A remnant of it still lives in Indian culture as Naga Panchami (it was on August 15th). While building the new airport, yet to be commissioned, the once sacred grove of serpents was claimed by man forcing them to seek shelters in people’s home. Deeming homeless over night after thousands of years, Mother Nature wants people to taste the same?

In the home front, whatever is happening in Vidhanasoudha, the New Chief is not sleeping during the session but has been knocking on the doors of every Gods within reach! In 80 days of power ONLY 42 temples are visited.. so more begging in front of God than….. Its noteworthy that sadly the movement of Indian politicians disrupts the normal life as if a green corridor is made for a organ carriage, including in holy places.

Scientific or unscientific of nonscientific, it’s a wakeup call for all the citizens of Mother India, to wake up and live in harmony with all the living beings, with utmost priority to the welfare of the nation and fellow living beings. To use the God given commonsense instead of being influenced by propaganda of imaginary differences, outside forces, social media, etc. Come out of the Religious intolerance in the name of unseen God, no one can ever show God to anyone or give ticket to heaven. If they could do it then what are they still doing here provoking others to act bad to fulfill their own personal ego than going to their favourite destination? All-pervading God is an not object to see or hold, no one can see the God one can only feel or sense the presence of God. Unless this is done we will be dragging the rock on our own feet.

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Bloomington Diary – Part 2 – Catskills

After landing in New York our destination for the weekend was not Central Park but Fleischmanns Village, upstate New York, approximately 140 miles north of New York City. Fleischmanns is located in the Catskills mountains, an unusual name for a place of Delaware County in the state of New York. It’s a pretty little place with loads of wild flowers that seem to bloom practically everywhere; a small river with crystal clear water, which seems to be passing all through the place. Fresh mountain air with moisture from the previous rain suddenly gave the impression of entering into my home town. After crossing a little bridge, we landed in our accommodation. The minute we entered the place all 7 of us had the same feeling- it’s like entering a house in Madikeri during the rainy season both in sense of look as well as the scent!! It had that old damply moist smell we all of us knew so very well. The next sentence from my daughter was I want a house like this!!

It was a break from the din & roar of the city to spend quality family time & as well as a special meeting. I was meeting my would-be son in law for the first time. I had met his parents a couple of times back home & knew them before too but not the boy himself. After landing at JFK he had joined us. Funnily, we were 7 different people from India, Kuwait & 4 different parts of the USA itself, holidaying at another town in the country. The world really is shrinking!

We three ladies wanted to explore the village. Before that, we wanted to soak our legs in the river & could hear the children’s laughter from below the thicket. As we passed the little bridge we could see a large, simple building. We thought it must be a school or something, through which we could go to the river. There was no sign board but when we entered we could see many picnic tables behind the building, where a lot of women & some kids were just lazing around. Then, towards the gate walked a teenager with 4 other kids following him. He was immaculately dressed in a black suit with a white shirt & a black hat.  We asked him whether we could go to the river through the compound.

The teenager turned his face away from us as if he had seen 3 ghosts!! One of the girls, around 7 or 8, smiled at us & when we asked her again she said we could go but walked off without telling much as the teenager signaled her to continue walking. We were not sure if we were trespassing or something so we returned to our accommodation.

We had to get some groceries & we three again wanted to go out & explore, knowing that we could find something interesting. But as we started walking our first impression was, what a rundown ghost town, as if we had gone into the sets of some ghost movie or something. All the restaurants were abandoned. One old fashioned boutique which was cute was also closed! Finally, we found one little supermarket opened but we were the only customers. To our utter surprise, it was owned by an East Indian. We bought some onions & marshmallows (luckily it was available!!). He did not talk much to us but warned us not to go out in the night…  we were taken aback as were already little paranoid of the looks around us!! However when we asked him why & he said…”The bears!!”

When we came out of the shop it was almost evening & we could see so many people, practically everyone immaculately dressed in white & black, all in groups of family or friends. Seemed like everyone shared the same tailor! Some men wore some kind of round hat resembling Old Russian style hats. The most interesting thing for us was that all the boys had cropped hair (it was not clearly visible) leaving just two lock of hair on both sides of the ear (payot) which was neatly curled up & was flying in the air when they moved.  It was a sight to behold. Everyone seemed to engrossed in their own thoughts or maybe suspicious of foreigners because no one even acknowledged our presence there..as if we never existed!! Just coming from Bloomington it was a different kind of experience for us.

Then it occurred to us it must be an orthodox Jewish community & today being Sabbath, everyone was taking everything easy. Then the round hat was confusing to us too… anyway we reached back home as we were very hungry. The main problem was the late sunset which was confusing what time of the day it was & going from Asia, our system could not get used to it!!

We had a great family time & it was really refreshing with all the fresh mountain air & loads of wild flowers & unspoiled natural beauty. Next two day, whenever possible, we walked around but no one ever smiled at us except one time when we were at the deck one lady walking with her husband waved at us. When I wished her she did not reply… on one side of the village many houses are occupied by Native Indians but even they did not acknowledge our presence. I have no idea if it was because we were from another part of the world or they just wanted to shy away from someone outside the village border.

We had made few trips to the super market & tried to go to the little boutique hoping to carry some souvenirs but it was never opened.. even though an ‘Open’ placard was on the pavement. Anyway, I was bent upon finding out why the town was so abandoned. On our last day, we three ladies went to the supermarket with the pretext of getting chocolates, (the owner was little mellowed by then, yet reserved) & popped the question. What I heard was really sad.

The place was abandoned not by choice but by the wrath of Mother Nature in the form of devastation through hurricane Irene; it was really sad. However, I could not understand how the water from the low lying river/creek could cause such a huge flood. Then he said that the water came from the mountain as if a tide had washed if off. It’s beyond my understanding capacity how a tropical wave starting somewhere in Africa could have such a monstrous effect thousands of miles away. It is a mystery showcasing the power of nature, in front of whom we are nothing but a nano-dot or perhaps even invisible. The truth hit me hard that in the hands of Mother Nature’s fury, we are just puppets. He said that the water level in his shop was three feet high, submerging everything. Most of the residents had left the place as the houses had become inhabitable & the state is now searching for ways to prevent such happenings in the future before rebuilding.

Even though at first I thought that the behavior of the Orthodox Jewish community was unusual, then I realized we had lessons to learn from them. Against all the odds & the backdrop of all the calamities, this group has stayed tall- proving the phrase United we Stand, Divided we Fall. I thought of the olden days when even in India people lived in groups {like balyamane (big house) of our own community, Taravads of Kerala, etc.,) & joint families. But with the so called new age, families are becoming nuclear & divided. Divorces have become the order of the day, which often leaves the children in lurch/doldrums, depriving them of so many good things in life such as sharing, loving, respecting, etc. Not very long ago, irrespective of the caste, creed & religion people in villages lived in harmony, I have witnessed it myself growing up. Sadly many a times till trouble knocks on our door or stands at our threshold we don’t bother because it’s not our problem… let the neighbor face first then we will think about it. Unfortunately people are Dividing, Sub-dividing & slowly Fragmenting.

World is really shrinking but sadly with fragmented thought streams. Hope the days are not far away when we will learn to live united…