Story of King Ravana from Ramayana – Part 3

Mother Nature has provided an amazing geographical example visible to naked eyes on how the same parent could produce 2-different off-springs. Dead Sea (North) & Sea of Galilee (South), aka the Kineret are the two largest Lakes of Israel which is mentioned in the Bible too. What is noteworthy is that located just 63 miles apart from each other both are Fed by River Jordon. Yet ironically while the highly saline Dead Sea water is not potable & literally dead to macroscopic aquatic organisms such as fish & aquatic plants, etc.(Such examples are one too many & for Kannadigas, the millennium old akka-thangi kola (Sisters pool) at Melukote is the prime example). The charming deep blue Sea of Galilee is not only the major supplier of drinking water to Israel (also used in Jordon & Syria), but also home to great ecosystem, is teaming with different species of fish, birds and lush green vegetation. So what makes them different? The Northern Sea of Galilee is fed from the North & it feeds back the Jordon River to the South. However, Southern (Dead) Sea receive but never flows out & even the tributaries in the east also only flows in!! The Dead is far below the mean sea level & it has no outlet because water flows or moves down wards not upwards.

Indian mythology is full of colorful, flavorful stories linking generations in train of connection about Devas (gods), Asuras (Demons aka Danava, Daithya, Rakshasa), boons, curses, avataras, etc. Often the links are so elaborate, I wonder how could it be but then it supposed to have happened so the links maybe plausible. Showcasing the interplay of the benevolent, not so benevolent & the malevolent forces in nature. The universe is not all milk & honey, but a circle of continual frictions, ongoing challenges; strive for ascendency; as also the mutual tolerance & existence between sets of forces opposing each other in varying degrees.

When we try to understand it, it’s easy to know that there is always a lesson to learn.. even the curses can be a boon or boons could be a curse sometimes like Kumbakarna. And the curses are there for a purpose in the meticulously woven cosmic circle.

I see the combination both of their character (& the rest family of Ravana) in every creature especially the human beings. Why we are born/created in the first place no one knows but nothing happens in the universe without a reason… & in the sophisticated fabric of creation we are all connected in a unique way no matter when, where or in which era we are born. It is said that “You are this universe experiencing itself, very briefly, as a human.” In my life (most of it spent outside India), I have met & worked with scores of good people (coming from different back ground, different religions & different nationalities) enriching my life experience & making me a better human being. That leaves a big question mark.. where are the bad people living?!? Even though I have had few bad experience sometimes… luckily I had the ratio of good people on the upper scale. Come to think of it, Good-Bad or Pious-Evil are the 2-faces of the same coin… one doesn’t exist without the other. It’s just what we nurture becomes prominent. Only thing is absence of good makes one evil & absence of evil magnifies the goodness (law of physics!?) No one stays good or bad or without them all the time except the God, who is called as BrahmaN… that’s the reason even the Devas/Devis & Sages curse when they are angry!!

Finally, just an observation… There is a disturbingly recurrent pattern in terrorist activities recorded in the world that many terrorists turn out to be brothers (it is said that upto 30% share family ties – that’s a reasonable percentage to ponder about!!)? Just a strange thought…. does the Ravana trend of sibling pairing in crime repeating to this day? Did Jaya-Vijaya leave their DNA traces of bad merits to earthling before purifying themselves… I know its crazy… Crime brothers… a perfect tandem pair… an all in the family brain storming secret vault tied with a sacred thread of DNA – with easy communication, security, trust &, sense of purpose & ideological calling.. Wow…  Some interesting pairing of the grim roster includs 19th-century French anarchists, militants in Southeast Asia & the Jewish extremists who assassinated PM Yitzhak Rabin of Israel in 1995, out of 19 hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US, there were 3-sets of siblings, Chechen (2004) suicide bombers in Russia  were sisters, Boston marathon (2013) bombing, French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris (January 2015) & then the most recent one is the Brussels attacks…

I really enjoyed writing this & hope you all enjoyed reading it. Let me know how did you like it. Thank you.

NOTE:

BrahmaN or AtmaN (what we call as the God), is the Supreme Self & the Ultimate Reality is beyond time, space, causation. {BrahmaN, not to be mistaken with one of the Trimurthis, the Brahma the creator}. BrahmaN is always the knowing subject & is not an object of perception. The eyes cannot perceive Him, the mind cannot reach Him, the gross worldly intellect cannot grasp Him, the speech cannot describe Him. The speech returns back along with the mind, as it is not able to describe Him in adequate terms. The Atman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Super Soul, all pervading consciousness in whom the entire creation dwells (the animate and inanimate entities and material). BrahmaN manifests everything & cannot be manifested by anything else. BrahmaN has neither name nor form & the attributes are hard to comprehend: is infinite, unlimited, Omni-present, Omni-potent, limitless, self-effulgent, self-luminous, imperishable, unborn, undecaying and undying. BrahmaN is that unheard hearer, that unseen seer, that unthought thinker, that unknown knower, that from which this world has come out, that in which this world exists, that in which it gets dissolved is BrahmaN. The list goes on…..

 

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!!

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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.

Colostrum: Is it the ultimate gift to new born from the God Almighty?? New Mothers PLEASE make sure to feed it to your babies.

When I wrote about ‘Ginnu’ (colostrum) in my previous blog, a colleague of mine from Kerala showed distaste for the ginnu & also said that they don’t eat it because of hygienic reason…they considered it unhygienic!! It touched a chord in me, because when I was growing up, we were encouraged to eat it as much as possible. In those days almost all the households in Kodagu had their own herd of cattle. Since I have a sweet tooth, I would eat till there is no space left in my tummy & would joke that if I put my finger through my throat, I could touch it!! My mother said it was very good for health & every drop of it was worth more than its weight in gold!! Also, I firmly believe that God almighty is both the cause & effect of everything, & that everything created by God has a purpose. Just because we don’t know does not mean that things don’t have a purpose!! So to substantiate myself, I asked around, and surprisingly none of my other Keralite friends knew about it either.

In the bargain I managed to ask people from different states & religions and hear their responses. Generally the quick response from those who are used to eating Ginnu: “oh I love ginnu” or “it’s my favourite”. Almost all (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra & Pakistan) seem to prepare*** it the same way. When I spoke to a sweet old lady from the Lingaygat community (from North Karnataka) about ginnu, she smiled and said: oh I love it & mentioned an age old proverb: “Honna kottaru ginna sigodilla”… which means even if you give gold you can’t get ginnu. She also added that the orthodox from her community especially from the Karvar (Mangalore) side & the Brahmins will not eat ginnu & instead, they pour the colostrum under trees (due to madi.. something like suddam in Malayalam.. sorry I have no idea what is the English word). My elder daughter, born & raised outside India, finds the colostrum not up to her taste (feels the same way about country eggs too). So if she finds me eating (happens once in a blue moon), she ends up arguing with me because I over eat & sugar is bad! So overall it’s a mixed perception, either according to an individual’s palate or passed on in the culture.

So what is colostrum? Colostrum is the slightly yellowish coloured pre-milk fluid produced from the mammary glands of female mammals during the first 2 to 3 days after birth before true milk appears. Most often, this fluid is taken in the first twelve hours of a newborn’s life. It is a rich mixture of natural source of antibodies (immunoglobulins* designed to fight disease-causing agents like bacteria & viruses) & essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, & minerals for a young one to grow & develop. It confers immune protection to the newborn from infections. In simple words, it is produced naturally in the new mothers’ breasts to help the helpless young ones to kick-start their lives & surely a perfect testimony for the sophistication of the Creator himself.

Colostrum seems to be the natural weapon that equips & prepares the young ones in the wild to stand up & face the world against all the odds in every terrain. It is mind blowing to imagine how potent it must be in order to offer such multitude of benefits & sustain a new born. Next time you see a new born Wildebeest (gnus) calf following the mother (herd) in the long arduous journey, or a Polar Bear cub following the mother on the ice or a Camel calf on the desert, close your eyes for a minute & learn to appreciate the glorious creations of God almighty.

Neonatal care varies from communities to communities for both the new baby & the mother; the baby will breast-feed only on the 2nd or 3rd day. Although breast-feeding in India is traditional, colostrum rejection is also equally traditional. Colostrum is produced by every female mammal since the dawn of creation yet not much is known about it. If some communities were particular in giving the colostrum to babies, most shun it. Many give boiled & cooled water to babies or give a raisin tied in a mull cloth to suck till the milk appears. Some say that the babies are very alert at this stage & eye contact with the mother is needed for lactation, while others believe that the babies do not understand anything!! New mothers are often encouraged to feed the babies & insist that the child to be brought to the mother & be placed on her bosom.. others say that the mother needs to rest…

Colostrum is relatively new as a nutritional supplement and gained grounds only after the resurgence of breastfeeding in the Seventies. The powdered supplement known as Pedimune is administered to boost the immunity & is mostly produced from the cows. This is known as the Bovine (related to animals) colostrum..guess there are no human donors!!

Lately colostrum has caught up with the mass as highly nutritious (for both infants & adults) & a must for the immunity of a child. With the modern ideology kicking over, many mothers are willing to give colostrum to their offspring. After all, anything pricey should be good right? This also makes me wonder how many really know what colostrum is? Do they really know the true value of colostrum or are blindly administering it because their pediatrician or friends told them it’s good for their child? Or simply the old medicines look good in a new package?

Since the bovine colostrum is tailored to the needs of calves in particular, it is hard to say how much it (the antibodies) can help humans**. However, colostrum also contains substances that might offer general benefits, such as growth factors (which stimulates the growth & development of cells in the digestive tract & perhaps elsewhere) & transfer factor (which may have general immune-activating properties). Then again, humans have been drinking milk through the millennium & our systems are adapted to it. Similarly the cow’s colostrum might vibe well with human system.

Colostrum is even becoming popular with athletes. It has been used as a dietary supplement to treat diarrhea, infections, colitis, & to improve athletic performance. Studies say that it possesses anti-inflammatory & chemo-preventive properties. Regular consumption is said to play a protective role for infantile gastrointestinal immunity due to its direct effect of promoting & developing infantile gut-associated lymphoid tissues which are responsible mainly for pronouncing infantile gut immunity. It is also being considered for prophylactic treatment of recurrent upper respiratory tract infection (URTIs).

I am glad that my colleague squirmed… so that I could write this & encourage the young mothers to feed colostrum to their new born… including my future grand children!! Until now I was under the impression that in India, Keralites are the pioneers of using the natural resources & slowly I realized that there are no masters of anything in this world!! I wish & hope one day maybe scientists will decode the amazing full value of colostrum & in the mean time all the New Mothers will make sure to feed their newborns. There is so much to learn from the experiences & knowledge from our fore-parents

*Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells (white blood cells). They act as a critical part of the immune response by specifically recognizing & binding to particular antigens, such as bacteria or viruses & aiding in their destruction.

 **I read that efforts have been made to create a special form of infection-fighting colostrum (agent) called hyper-immune colostrum by inoculating cows with bacteria & viruses that affect humans. The cow in turn makes antibodies to these bacteria and virus, & secretes those antibodies into its colostrum. How effective it is, well we have to wait & see… I am always apprehensive of hybrid products!! Also, commercializing this makes one wonder how much will the new born calves get to drink what is rightfully theirs…

 ***Ginnu (Colostrum pudding) is the easiest pudding to prepare. Mix 1 cup colostrum, 3/4 cup (or as per taste) powdered jaggery or sugar in the vessel. Stir until the powder dissolves completely. Strain through the strainer to remove if there are any impurities. In the steaming vessel pour (preferably in a plate) the colostrum & steam for 20 minutes. Once it is steamed it sets like pudding. Let it cool completely. After steaming it oozes out very little water which is absolutely normal. You can collect & drink the water. When it is completely cooled, cut it to neat squares. Refrigerate & enjoy. Sprinkling a pinch of cardamom powder or nutmeg powder or saffron is absolutely optional but personally recommended. Mostly every one prefers it plain. Water-buffalo colostrum is very thick so the pudding turns very hard. In that case you can add 1/8th of a cup normal milk to make is soft.

 

Why do we help others in crisis? Why do we pray? (2/3)

To begin with its because it is basic human nature passed by God almighty the spark of life which make us tick. Since it is from God, no one has been able to pin point the location of the spark, in spite of all the claims in advancement of Science & Technology. Also we know that if we help someone today, tomorrow I am entitled to get help when I myself am in trouble. So we have both the pairs of opposite selfish & selfless motives as our instincts. We pray because even though we have not seen God Almighty we accept the simple fact that there is someone who is mightier than us. We mortals are so limited in our mental ability we don’t even see the proof in front of our very own eyes… the Mother Nature… in the form of Creator, Sustainer & Destroyer. She is nothing but the very extension of God Almighty visible to naked eye,no matter if you are in any form, shape, size, back ground, colour, etc. That’s why the basic essentials like Sun, Air & Water are provided by nature without any partiality. Unless you are blind physically but also mentally you can realize that.

In micro term imagine yourself as an toddler with constant need of care & your fatigued mother collapses walking on her way home or overwork done at home… put that into Macro context, a sick Mother Nature & the entire creation left in melancholies/doldrums… I am referring to mother here because her qualities are a visible extension of Mother Nature. And also under normal circumstances she is the only reality to naked eye & does not require DNA testing to prove. So think backwards… you are a child your mother is sick, needs major surgery, she neglects herself for your sake… how much chaos will occur in the family particularly in your own small little mind. The Super Mother is sick, & sums up the total chaos in the world!! It’s beyond anyone’s perception right? Suppose your mother gets help to take care of you temporarily & she manages to get her operation done & with proper care & nourishment comes back home… who will be the happiest? And who will be benefited? Surely you don’t have to wait for the Cinderella ending yeh? Similarly Mother Nature is sick attending to all of her creations particularly to greedy humans who Use, Misuse & Abuses & no care/nourishment & requires major surgery. This reminds me of a quote from Mr.Gandhi himself: There is enough in the world for everybody’s need, but not enough for one man’s greed. Because of our mismanagement flora & fauna is becoming extinct faster than we can imagine.
Just a thought… if only the man could carry everything with him while departing from his decaying body… what would have happened… what all he would have packed!?!?

We have almost reached the point of no return… but we still have hope (Mothers always tries to gives chances to children no matter how bad they are). Then there is a limit for everything. When the rubber band pulled beyond the limit either it snaps or loses its elasticity. Similarly even mother’s tolerance has a limit. And once she loses his tolerance then no one can control… There is a Brazilian saying: God Almighty always forgives. Man forgives sometimes but Mother Nature Never forgives!! Should we wait for that day??? The “D” DAY!!

Let us wake up to the future crisis today & do the needful in any possible way. Saving water, avoiding pollution, wasting food, cutting trees, being kind to fellow creation, list goes on & on… even a small thing matters.. like the phrase alilu-seve* (service of the squirrel) at the time of building the Rama-Sethu. Each & every one of us can make a difference. A small good deed can bring oodles in return. Please all of you try to do your best to save the Mother Nature in order to save ourselves & the world from destruction.