Latest on Thalassery-Mysuru Railway project…

In spite of the assurances given by both the ex-government under Mr. Siddaramaiah as well as the opposition party in Karnataka, the problem with Mysurur-Thalasherry railway doesn’t seem to be dying a natural death under the present government. Son of the Son of soil does not seem to be aware of the needs of the soil. Seems like the politicians just talk the talk but they won’t do anything.

Previously on one hand the state government said that “in principle” we are not in favour of the project and we will not allow DPR (Detailed Project Report) to be prepared on the controversial railway project. On the other they held the so called preliminary meeting regarding the project with representatives of Karnataka, Kerala and Railways in Bengaluru. Now they went one step further… and on the sly, survey work on the project started in Kodagu for the said project. The question remains who gave the authorization for survey to Konkan Railway officials?

There is a proverb in Kannada, “ganda-hendira jagaladalli kusu badavayitu” (roughly translated as while husband & wife fought, the child became poor in every sense). While Indian Politicians fought endless power and party wars, manipulated religions and invented new ways to get votes, caught in-between people as well as the land suffers endlessly.

This is what is happening to the district as well as the people of Kodagu. For being in the opposite side, the ruling party used every weapon in the arsenal.. either you are with us or we will not let you sleep in peace was their motto… seems like the trend remains rolling to this day.

Sadly India is cursed with more than its fair share of political parties and half baked politicians whose agenda is to grow their wealth and divide the country in the name of religion to stay in power. They say there cannot be two kings in one land… unfortunately after the state assembly election, the state is filled with one too many kings and queens. On top of it not only every politician and their cronies but also the krimis (insects) under their butt acts like kings.

However something doesn’t really make sense to me and there is something wrong somewhere. As far as I perceive, our beloved Modiji is the most sensible PM India ever had. So it’s hard for me understand why such an issue is happening even though Mr. Pratap Simha assured that the project will not take off. So in that case, the issue of the survey by the Konkan Railway officials really does not make any sense to me as the Railways come under the Central Government. So either there is some communication gap or someone very influential is pushing it underhand for some kind of personal gain.

Fear of future water shortage or resource crunch or man-animal conflict, nothing seems to deter the ignorant dull-witted politicians. Ignorance is tolerable but to dwell on it is utter sin. If someone is committing sins wide awake, how could there be any solution?

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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…..

 

Legends of Magical Tala-Kaveri, River Kaveri and the Kodavas

If someone asks how old is River Kaveri… what could be the right answer? Well I guess she has been around forever!! Then how old is the Brahma Kundige? Unfortunately no carbon dating possible I guess… perhaps the old Ashwata-mara could have given a clue… it’s too late for that too…

The River Kaveri (anglicized as Cauvery) is a name every soul in Karnataka is familiar with. If they have the privilege of getting Kaveri water supplied to their homes, they go an extra mile in telling with a note of pride… “We get Kaveri water (as opposed bore-well water)”… its tasty & brings the flavour in the food. Don’t believe me, try it out!! Every visitor to Mysore will have the trip to KRS in their itinerary. Yeh.. The Krishna Rajendra Sagar dam is built across the river Kaveri by our late Maharaja Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar IV, under the guidance of Sir M. Vishveshwariah, one of the greatest Engineers Karnataka has ever produced. However, she is equally revered in Tamil Nadu. Ironically the two neighboring states Karnataka & Tamil Nadu constantly fight* over the distribution of water too.

Kaveri (birth name Lopamudra), born with the blessing of Lord Brahma, is the daughter of Sage Kavera, who had given up his throne to do tapsya seeking moksha (salvation) & for the welfare of his subjects. Then Kodagu & the surrounding area is said to be barren filled with only rocks & dirt. Wife of great Sage Agasthya, she came to be known as Kaveri, after her father Kavera muni.

“Brahma Kundige” (Kundu – pond in Kodava dialect) at Talakaveri (aka Dakshina Kashi) on the picturesque Brahmagiri betta (hill) at an altitude of 1276 meters above sea level, Kodagu district in the Western Ghats is the Ugama-Sthana (birth place) of the Jeevanadi (life supporting river) Kaveri. After originating at the little Kundige, flows down inconspicuously as Guptagamini, re-emerging at a distance downwards at Nagateerta. So called as the rock formation looks like the water is flowing out of a Cobra’s hood. It is also said that on Sage Agastya’s behest Nagas along with their king tried to stop her at this point. But when Kaveri told them her heart’s desire of serving the mankind, they let her go with utmost respect. From there she flows downstream joining river Kannike & mythical river Sujothi at Triveni Sangama (the confluence of 3-rivers) in Bhagamandala.

From Kundige, the steps lead up to the nearby Brahmagri betta with breath taking 360 degree panoramic view, where the Sapta Maharishis are said to have performed a special yagna. The Brahmagiri range was supposed to known as Agnigiri, Vayugiri & Gangagiri in the Puranas. With the misty clouds it literally gives the feeling that you are climbing the STAIRWAY to HEAVEN!! The butterfly kiss of fresh gentle air feels like God Almighty thyself caressing you gives the feeling of elation. A sentiment even the baring of tree on the hill is for a purpose: just to let the angles kiss you gently!! Time seems to be frozen & transporting one into another era/yuga… The thought of sharing the same ground once walked by the greatest souls, watching the same mountains & the misty clouds… wishing the feeling never ends… When you are up there your mind plays trick on you & you feel like as if you are transported into nothingness with the sound of Omkar in your ears. I have personally experienced it on every visit.

I remember my mother mentioning that there is supposed to be a very small pond filled with perennial water on top of the betta which is said to be made by Lakshmana from shooting his arrow to get water for cooking & drinking during his Vanavasa with Sri Rama. But I have never seen it. A lot of stories are attached with her origin & is supposed to be visited by Gods & Goddesses & many mythological characters. (It’s very interesting story appearing in Skanda purana but too long to cover here). Snaking through arduous journey joined by numerous tributaries, turning into a mighty maiden & nourishing/helping millions in various forms makes her way to merge with Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar covering almost a distance of 800 kms. There are numerous holy places & shrines built on her way so also bunds, dams, hydroelectric plant (Shivansamudra – Asia’s first built in 1902), etc.

We celebrate her birthday, Kaveri Sankramana on Tula-Sankramana day (the first day of Makara-masa in Hindu calendar), which normally falls on the 17th of October every year. On that day occurs the spectacular emerging of the holy spring from the Brahma-kundige known as THIRTHODBHAVA. A very unique natural phenomenon which does not have any scientific explanation & I am sure there never ever going to be one!! The fountain head rises when water gushes up from the spring at a predetermined moment, predicted in advance an year earlier. {Thirtha = holy water & udbhava = springing from/growing/origin). The Kundige is never allowed to over flow as it is believed that overflowing would bring famine. The priests will pour out the thirtha on the devotees mostly with tonsured heads who jumps into the main pond in frenzy to get the glimpse of the occurrence & collect it in containers. I feel that there is enough & more Thirtha in the Kundige (roughly about 3-1/2 by 2-1/2 sq ft between the shrine & tank located on the platform enclosing the temple tank) for the entire worshipers & more.

Kodava men in traditional dress render traditional dudi-kott-paat (dudi is a small native drum, kott-beating & paat-singing), singing the glory of the mother. The Nandi (bull) at the small Lord Agasteshwara (Shiva) temple seems to be watching over the tank for mischief mongers. The prabhavali at the sanctum sanctorum close to the Brahma-kundige bedecked with grand floral arrangements adds momentum & fragrance. The whole atmosphere religiously surcharged amidst the relentless chanting of Vedic hymns by posse of priests, is electrifying as everyone praying/thinking in unison on the lap of peaceful serene Mother Nature. It’s something one has to experience & cannot be explained. Even though it is at a very high altitude & millions of pots of water are taken out each year, irrespective of the global warming, the magical Kundige has the same level of water 365 days. Earlier Thirtha used to be preserved for number of years at home without any preservative & expiry date, thanks to pollution; now it cannot be stored very long. This year (2014) the annual spectacle of Thirthodbhava occurred on October 17th Friday at 6:04 pm just 3 minutes before the calculated time, followed by heavy rains. For next one month tens of thousands of devotees will make a pilgrimage trip to particpate in the Tula Sankrmana jathre (fair).

Growing up we were told that all across Kodagu, all water bodies in the paddy fields to wells to ponds to streams to rivers, you can see bubbles rushing out at the same time. Also come what may it will rain at least a little. Such is the power of Kaveri. Legend has it that every year Mother Ganga comes via an underground route to Kaveri for a cleansing dip to wash off the sins accumated from the devotees.

Being a Kodava/Coorgi, the river Kaveri holds a very special place in my heart. She is not only our Kula Devate & we consider her the Big Mother & believe that Kodagu flourishes because of her blessing. To mark our gratitude we name our children after her: girls are called Kaveramma/Kaveri & boys Kaverappa. Our civilization developed in her banks, our culture & tradition revolves around her, & even the unique way of draping our sari is in her honour. As a Kodava, for us she does not have a form & the name Kaveri always brings the Kundige to our mind as traditionally we don’t have a statue/image. Her beauty, character & legend par excellence, it’s impossible to fathom a shape or form. All the statues you see all around Karnataka or beyond is a recent addition to fit into each one’s mind set. This is how things including legends get contorted & contaminated generally…

She is called as the Ganges of South & one of the Sapta Sindhu (Seven sacred rivers) of India. We consider her holier than Ganges & our lives from birth to death & in-between is associated with her. Our final journey ends with our ashes immersed in her. When a Kodava dies his/her ashes will be immersed in Triveni sangama at Bhagamandala & believed that, only then the soul will be liberated. It is customary that after a Kodava gets married both has to make a trip to Tala-Kaveri (tala means head) & take a dip in the kola (pool) together in front of Kundige to SEAL the marriage. Basically Kodavas are not very religious & we just have a very special eternal maternal bonding/love affair with River Kaveri just like a “Mother & Child” as genetic inheritance!! After that as long as both are alive, both cannot make a solo trip to Tala-Kaveri. It may surprise the readers that Kodava wedding is performed with the Blessings of Elders of the community without the presence of a Priest!! Believe me up until the last decade or so divorce was never heard of in Kodava community. Also I am proud to say that there is no Dowry System as well & considered a shameful act. Every Kodava household keeps the thirtha at home & before taking up a long journey, a little is consumed pouring on the cup of the palm for protection on the way. When someone is above to die, the last drop of water given is the Kaveri thirtha. Generally, Hindus believe that anyone who dies without last sip of water in the mouth, be it Ganges or coconut or any water, his soul will not rest.

All said & done, Mythical incidents are beyond the understanding capacity of ordinary human mind, science or technology. Perhaps it’s subtler than the understanding on why a little “toddler cloud” from Africa causes havoc & misery in USA as “hurricane”. According to a mythical legend, the trimurthis, Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara, gave darshana to the great sage Agastya under the holy Ashwatha tree (was pretty small compared to its age) just above the Kundige which stood test of time for thousands of years. It’s noteworthy that dark skinned Agastya, one of the most powerful sages of his time was born in a Kumbha (pot), himself was very short, almost a dwarf. Finally about 15 – 20 years ago when some modern thinkers, wanting to please tourists, attempted to build a katte to the tree (perhaps out of good intentions) & while doing so managed to kill the tree itself. The one you see now is the modern one!! They had to clear lorry loads & loads of roots perhaps one for each year the tree stood there!! The whole Tala-Kaveri is given a facelift lately. People are really strange, an Indian colleague of mine suggested that someone should dig up the place between Talakaveri & Nagateerta to find out how the river flows gupta-gamini & I said sure if you are funding!! So until he comes up with funds, secret is safe!!

Sometimes human meddling in Nature might have negative consequences. For some unknown reason the insects & birds population in Kodagu have noticabley dwindled in the last decade along with scores of plant species, which is noteworthy.

Another interesting theology is that Kaveri wanted to be the holiest river & she did tapsya to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu told her Ganga is holy as she started from the touch of his feet. Kaveri would be his garland, close to his heart & therefore would be more sacred. Incidentally three of the holiest shrines of Lord Vishnu are found at Srirangapatna, Shivanasamudra & Shrirangam called Adi-Ranga, Madhya-Ranga & Antya-Ranga respectively. Incidentally all the three temples are on island with the Kaveri encircling it just like the mythical garland!

I can write volumes… Next time you drink the Kaveri water just think how blessed you are to be part of a great legend! Mortal man came & gone, comes & goes, but legend lives on…. irrespective of the doubts in anyone’s mind. As for me even though River Kaveri is extra special, I have equal respect to entire water body of the earth irrespective of the size or legend. PLEASE conserve the water & help Mother Nature in whatever way possible for the betterment of our Future Generation & welfare of the Universe. Don’t let your future generation suffer & say what the heck my predecessors were thinking or doing? Simple fact of life: Mother Nature does not need us for her survival (perhaps better off) but we definitely cannot do without her!!

 

*When my younger daughter who is named after River Kaveri was 4-years old, she happened to be in Mysore with my cousins. There was a protest march & every one was shouting we want Kaveri… Kaveri is ours… (of course in Kannada) & when my daughter heard that got so scared & started crying bitterly, uncontrollable & shivering with fear. After that for a long time she did not even wanted to leave the house!!