Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PANCHAAMRITAM 91 - 100

PANCHAAMRITAM 91

ONE

President APJ Abdul Kalam's extended family came to visit him some days ago, the first time since he assumed office. After reaching Delhi, the 30 odd family members from Rameshwaram were booked in a bus to Ajmer, and on their return, they enjoyed the hospitality of Rasthrapati Bhavan for 2-3 days. The President asked for the bill for the food, laundry and other incidentals after they had left. He paid for them by cheque.

From BUSINESS STANDARD, June 6, 2006. Idea: MANTHANA, Bangalore.

TWO

In its response to the petition filed by Shri Dinanath Batra and others of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti before the Delhi High Court, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has clarified in the court that out of the total 70 objectionable passages, mentioned by the petitioner in his petition, 37 have been replaced in accordance with the new curricula. The counsel said the discussion over the deletion or modification of four other passages was going on. (Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti comprises several all-Bharat patriotic groups including the Vidya Bharati, the Samskrita Bharati and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – ABVP. As part of its agitation, the Samiti has organized over 100 seminars all over the country. For bringing about awareness, the Samiti has published 30 booklets and has circulated them among 6,000 distinguished people all over the country).

Based on a special report in ORGANISER, July 2, 2006.

THREE

In a devout village, 9 km from the Tiruvalla town of Kerala, Bharat, women are worshipped. The temple is dedicated to the Deity of Bhagavati, and follows a unique annual ritual called "Naari Puja." On the first Friday of Dhanu (December), the male priests wash the feet of female devotees who have fasted for 10 days. This system takes root in the belief that female devotees visiting on this particular day are the incarnation of Chakkulathu Amma (Goddess). They are also showered with flowers and sprinkled with perfume, after which the aarti (worship) is conducted. The temple itself is over 3,000 years old and the tradition of worshipping women has been passed along over the ages. Interestingly, every Friday, female devotees also bring their relatives who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling. The addicts, who are mostly male, are asked to touch the Devi's sword and pledge to renounce their habit. Locals claim many success stories in which even the hard-core addicts have ended up on the wagon. "My younger brother was an alcoholic for years. I brought him here three years ago and made him swear by the Devi. He has renounced his drinking habit now," says a woman. Of the 3,00,000 or so devotees coming here annually for darshan, 75% are estimated to be women. They are revered to the extent that during Pongala, a major festival that lasts 12 days and is held every December, the temple becomes the exclusive domain of women. Males do not participate in this tradition.

A report by Shri. P.K.Surendran in timesofindia.indiatimes.com July 6, 2006

FOUR

In a Delhi building full of computers cooled by powerful air conditioning and whirring overhead fans, dozens of doctors in the traditional ayurvedic, siddha and unani practices thumb through books, some more than 2,000 years old. Practitioners such as ayurvedic doctor Jaya Saklani Kala painstakingly type alphanumeric codes for words and phrases. "We were born with this knowledge," says Kala. "Our ancient rishis or ancient scientists, they were explorers. It is as much yours as it is mine”, Kala says. "You can't have a person taking the sole right over something that has existed already." (India claims to have found 5,000 U.S. patents on medicinal plants, 80 percent of them from India. Half of these patents should never have been given to the American drug developers, according to India's government. Europe has also granted a patent to use neem extract for its antiseptic properties. It cost millions of dollars to fight the neem patent, which was repealed in 2005. (In the United States, the World Health Organization reports, 42 percent of Americans have tried some form of traditional medicine at least once).

Based on a report in SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, July 8, 2006. Idea: SB.

FIVE

“RSS is contributing in a very valuable manner for nurturing Samajik Samarasata in Tamilnadu. It regularly brings together leaders of various Hindu communities at every district headquarter and thus enables discussions about problems affecting Hindu society in a cordial atmosphere. This is the major thrust by Sangh during Shri Guruji Centenary year 2006-2007”, said Shri. V.Sundaram, IAS (Retired), while delivering the presidential address at the Shri Guru Pooja function of RSS South Chennai on July 9, 2006. To substantiate this, he referred to the ambience at the meet at Villupuram, held on June 25. He said: “One Shri. E.Samikkannu Nattar, whose ES Trust runs a women’s college, a polytechnic, and a matric school in Villupuram, was so impressed by the equal and loving treatment to all caste leaders at the meet and the cultured manner in which the proceedings were carried out, that he invited Swayamsevaks to conduct weekly ethics classes in all his educational institutions so that students too could imbibe our noble culture. This heartfelt appeal, from one belonging to the fishermen community and known to be quite close to DMK and DK for decades, is an index of the positive impact RSS work leaves on all sections of our society”.

Based on a report in VIJAYABHARATAM, August 4, 2006.

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PANCHAAMRITAM 92

ONE

A unique function took place at Rashtrapathi Nilayam in Hyderabad on July 1 when the President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, gave a party to about 1,400 workers who had laboured hard for 8 months to make the Nilayam suitable for his occupation. The workers and artisans included about 50 Banjara women in their picturesque dress and ornaments. Speaking to them for about ten minutes, the President emphasized that work was more important than the person who did it, and the time had come when they should bridge the gulf between the rich and the poor, the small and the big. When he arrived at Hyderabad some days back, the first decision he made was to meet these simple folk and entertain them.

From THE HINDU of July 3, 1956 reproduced in the ‘This Day That Age’ column
TWO

The India story gets stronger on the global arena. (1) Bharat expanded its presence on the elite list of Fortune Global 500 companies, as the State Bank of India has become the sixth BHARATIYA firm to feature in the league. Besides SBI's grand entry to the list, all five current incumbents -- Reliance Industries Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Oil and Natural Gas Corp -- have scaled up the ranking on the list of world's biggest 500 companies. Among the six Indian companies on the list, IOC holds the top rank at 153rd position, followed by RIL at 342nd rank, BPCL at 368, HPCL at 378th, ONGC at 402nd and the new entry SBI has been placed at 498th rank. RIL has scaled up 75 ranks on the list from the previous year, while IOC has gained 17 positions, BPCL has jumped 61 ranks, HPCL has moved up 58 positions and ONGC has scaled up 52 positions. RIL figures among the top 25 climbers on the list. Based on a report in rediff NEWS, July 13, 2006. (2) In the face of stiff competition from Chinese and Korean equipment suppliers, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has achieved a major success by bagging a prestigious contract for a 250 MW Thermal Power Station (TPS) in Maharashtra. The contract has been won from Tata Power Company (TPC) under competitive bidding. Notably, this is the first order secured by BHEL where the boiler will be designed to suit firing of imported coal. The equipment for the present contract will be manufactured at BHEL’s Haridwar, Trichy, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bhopal and Jhansi Plants. From a July 10, 2006 Press Release in www.BHEL.com.

THREE

Recently, the wedding of Muktamani, daughter of Dr Ganeshdutt Bhardwaj, took place with Vidhichand Sharma in Hoshiyarpur, Punjab, Bharat. In this marriage, Dr Bhardwaj, who is head of Sanskrit Department in Punjab University, did not receive the money of shagun (wedding gift) from any guest. He kept a pot before the picture of Bharatmata and requested the guests to pour the money they wish to give as shagun in the pot. He made it clear that all the money poured into the pot as shagun, would be donated to Seva Bharati, Hoshiyarpur. After the wedding ceremony, the money poured in pot was counted as Rs 15,200. The Bhardwaj family themselves added another Rs 505 and handed over the amount of Rs 15,705 to Shri B.K. Bhardwaj, chairman, Seva Bharati and Shri Arvind Sharma, general secretary. Everybody who participated in the wedding ceremony praised this initiative of Dr Bhardwaj.

From ORGANISER dated July 16, 2006. Also HINDU VISHWA.

FOUR

As a soldier handed five-year old boy Prince over to his mother Karamjit, she shed tears of joy. In a dramatic operation, Prince was rescued by the Army on Sunday, July 23, 2006, about 50 hours after he fell into a 60-foot pit while playing at Haldheri, a village near Kurukshetra, Haryana, Bharat. People cheered loudly as a crane hoisted the boy, wrapped in a white sheet and cradled by a soldier, from a well. The ordeal united the nation in prayers for his well-being. As Prince spent what were the most harrowing two days of his life in the pit — barely 16 inches wide — soldiers, aided by experts from the Fire Service and the Air Force, worked relentlessly to free the child. Prince looked dazed but did not appear to be in any pain. His mother Karamjit and his father Ram Chander had been sitting at the site for the past two days. The rescuers dug a tunnel from a dried-up well parallel to the narrow and dark pit. A soldier finally reached Prince a little before 7 p.m. on Sunday. Throughout the operation, the rescuers monitored the boy's condition using a CCTV system that allowed him to talk to people on the surface. Food and water were also lowered to the boy.

Based on a report in THE HINDU of July 24, 2006.

FIVE

Yoga classes based on ancient Hindu practices of meditation through controlled breathing, balancing and stretching, are catching on in military circles in the USA. The August edition of FIT YOGA, the US’ second largest Yoga magazine with a circulation of 1,00,000, features a photo of two naval aviators doing yoga poses in full combat gear aboard an aircraft carrier. “At first it seemed a little shocking – soldiers practicing such a peaceful art”, writes editor Rita Trieger. Upon closer inspection, she said, she noticed “a sense of inner calm” on the aviators’ faces.

Based on an AP report in The Hindu BUSINESS LINE of July 18, 2006.

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PANCHAAMRITAM 93

ONE

S.M. Suvetha, a standard VIII student of St. Philomina's Higher Secondary School, Tiruchi, performed Bharatanatyam. That is nothing extraordinary for a 13-year-old schoolgirl. She belongs to the Narikorava community and that makes it an unusual event. It was at a function organised by Indian Bank's Tiruverumbur branch on July 29, 2006 to distribute loans to members of the community. The Narikoravas are traditionally gypsies. Daughter of Shri. S. Mahendran, a resident of the Devarayaneri Narikorava colony near Thuvakudi, Suvetha learnt Bharatanatyam from Kanmani, a dance teacher at Kalkandarkottai. The girl evinced keen interest and picked up the `bhava' and `rasa' of Bharatanatyam, surprising her teacher. Chairman and managing director of Indian Bank K.C. Chakrabarty commended Suvetha's performance and honoured her with a purse.

Based on a report in THE HINDU of August 1, 2006.

TWO

The evil of untouchability has been removed by villagers in the six hamlets under Kallathur panchayat in Thiruvannamalai district, Tamilnadu, Bharat. The hamlets are: Kallathur, Kilaiyur, Pudhukkilaiyur, Turunjikuppam, Mottur and Thottimaruvu. They are situated close to the Javadhu hills. 80 percent of the people in this panchayat are vanavasi people (‘Scheduled Tribes’ or ST as per government reckoning). For the past ten years, sharing of prasad at the village temple festival by all sections of the hamlets is a tell tale highlight of samarasata. Smt. Saraswati Ashok, an ST herself, is the elected President of this Panchayat. The state government has recently awarded Rs. 1 lakh to this Panchayat for having eradicated untouchability. The samarasata (amity) has led to a happy situation with “not a single criminal case pertaining to these hamlets being registered at the nearby Chengam police station”, as Saraswati claims.

Based on a report by Shri. Kuruvirajan

in KUNGUMUM, Tamil weekly, of August 13, 2006

THREE

Of the 50-odd homes at Govindarajan Nagar in Moulivakkam Panchayat near Porur, a western Chennai suburb, `home composting' is the norm in almost all. This remarkable turnaround has come about in the short space of three or four months. Even the slightest scrap of plastic or paper waste is picked up — even by young schoolchildren — and dumped in the common bin meant for residents of this locality. The story begins about two years ago when Shri. A. Subhash, former Director (Training) Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board moved into the locality. Kitchen waste, including vegetable peelings and even paper could be converted into organic manure; all it required was only a small pit. In apartment complexes, where space and soil are scarce, flowerpots can be used. Every human being on an average produced about 200 to 500 grams of garbage a day,. Subhash said, adding this could be brought down to only about 10 grams if `home composting' was undertaken. In Govindarajan Nagar, where Mr. Subhash is now secretary of the Residents' Welfare Association, the concept of home composting has really caught on.

Based on a report in THE HINDU of August 9, 2006.

FOUR

The doctors said that Shri. Nagarajan, a weaver of Kaanjikoil, Erode district, Tamilnadu Bharat, could hope to live for another 6 months. That was 16 years ago. Today, at 55, Nagarajan is not only healthy himself, he has rendered the environment in the village healthier by his unique contribution: A total of 22,000 trees that he planted over the years. Yes, unfazed, he had vowed to do something good before death could overtake him. He started planting saplings ignoring his ill health. He gradually immersed himself in tending them and adding newer and newer trees. His health improved greatly, so did the atmosphere in the neighbourhood in 10 kilometre radius around Kaanjikovil.

From HINDU SANGHA SEIDHI, monthly Tamil bulletin, August 2006.

FIVE

Lekh Vidhata, a 9-year old schoolgirl of Bastar in Chattisgarh, Bharat, regularly runs 15 kilometres a day, while relying solely on the noon meal served at her school. She runs ever since she was four years old. She lost her mother and her father became ill. But Lekh kept up her practice for two years by running around her house several times. This she did for two years. Now, accompanied by her father Shri. Shivnarayan Soni, this standard IV student of Vivekananda School, goes to Jagadalpur where there is a stadium and runs there daily. Proper coaching and support (balanced diet, etc) will certainly help her - her state and her country - win laurels in world events in due course.

Based on a report in the weekly Hindi news bulletin (July 20, 2006) of HINDUSTHAN SAMACHAR, a news agency,

(23, Ashok Road, New Delhi – 110 001; Fax: 011-23349422;

email: hindusthansamachar@gmail.com)

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PANCHAAMRITAM 94

ONE

Two years ago, Guru Hargobind Sports Club of village Gurusar Sudhar (Ludhiana, Punjab, Bharat), in cooperation with the panchayat and a few non-resident Indians (NRIs), decided to stop looking to the government for development. The result today is neat and wide roads, streetlights, trees planted along roads and a sports stadium (at a cost of around Rs 9 lakh.). The villagers collected their own funds to widen around a 5-km length of roads. More than 50 villagers surrendered around 15,000 sq ft of land for widening roads, that too without receiving any compensation. Panch Pawanjit Singh, also a member of the village cooperative agricultural society, was the first one to announce donation of three-fourths of an acre in front of his house, not caring about its market value. Around 250 saplings of ornamental and shady trees have been planted along the roads and at least 90 poles installed for streetlights from the pooled funds. The village panchayat bears only the maintenance expenses. The village cooperative agriculture society has always been ready to offer the use of its machinery and tractor for the development works for free.

From the ‘Essentially India’ column, by Shri. Manoj Dhiman in HINDUSTAN TIMES of August 15, 2006.

TWO

Ustad Bismillah Khan died in his beloved Varanasi, early on August 21. He was 90. Music lovers insist that the Ustad enjoyed spiritual experiences, playing shehnai at the temples of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges. "Idhar Ganga bahti hai kya?" (Does the Ganges flow here?), the Ustad asked friends and sponsors in the United States when they offered him money and migration. He was an ardent devotee of Saraswati too, the Hindu goddess of music. The maestro never knew a life of comfort commensurate with his fame and worldwide concerts. He supported a joint family of close to 70 members, including nine sons and daughters, and many grandchildren. After he lost his wife he began to call his shehnai "my Begum." He lived till his end at a dilapidated house and always travelled by the cycle-rickshaw.

From a tribute by Shri. R.C.Rajamani, a former Deputy Editor of PTI, in ‘The Hindu BUSINESS LINE’, August 23, 2006.

THREE

There is more to the story of Deepak Das, the son of a tea-stall owner of Kolkatta, who topped the Orissa state-level medical joint entrance examination. Unable to afford the admission fees of a medical college, Deepak’s father had pinned his hopes on government assistance. But with the Jagatsinghpur district collector ruling out any help since “the government does not have any particular programme to fund anyone for higher education”, help has come from other channels. After his story was published in the Hindustan Times and other news portals, an NRI working in Microsoft volunteered to help Deepak. Many others too followed this. What began as a trickle, soon assumed the dimensions of flood. Deepak declared that he would take only a fraction of the help he received and would give the rest away to a Trust set up by a local newspaper for the benefit of other needy students.

From FLASH LIGHT, a fortnightly of Patna dated July 31, 2006.

FOUR

On August 28, 1730, Smt Amrita Devi of Bishnoi community of Khejathi village, 25 kms from Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Bharat, opposed felling of a tree, put her arms around it and protected it till her head was chopped off like dead wood. Her two daughters too sacrificed their lives for the same cause. 363 persons including 69 women followed them. When the then king of Jodhpur came to know of it, he went to Khejathi and apologized to the people. He issued an order that thenceforth, cutting of a tree and hunting animals would be criminal offence. The same law is prevalent there even today. Meanwhile, the United Nations arranged a conference at Stockholm on June 5, 1972 to consider ways and means of protecting environment. The solution they found was to declare an International Environment Day – namely June 5, simply the day they met. The people of Khejathi and knowledgeable persons of Bharat, anyhow, continue to observe August 28 as Paryaavaran Diwas (Environment Day).

Based on a write up in VISHWAKARMA SANKET (August 2006) by Shri. Ram Prakash Mishra, Vice President of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Bharat’s number one confederation of trade unions.

FIVE

At the age of 6, G. Aditya Ram started playing the flute mainly to enhance his lungs and thus get relief from his childhood Asthma. Playing the flute is a tough task even for grown ups. But his innate interest in the musical instrument saw him involve more and more in it. Son of Anil Kumar and Gita Lakshmi of Adayar, Chennai, Aditya, now 12, can play the flute for two hours at a stretch. A class VIII student of Vidya Mandir, Mylapore, Aditya gives recitals in many temples in Chennai.

Based on a report in DINAMANI of June 18, 2006.

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PANCHAAMRITAM 95

ONE

Meet E.Logeswari (18), an undergraduate student at the Madras School of Social Work, Chennai..Daughter of Shri. Elangovan, a noon meal organizer in Karalappakkam village (40 kilometres from Chennai) in Chingleput district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, the teenager travels four hours every day to reach her college. She reaches home at 7.30 pm every evening since there are no direct buses to her village. She and her two elder sisters could pursue education beyond school, thanks to her father’s firm resolve to send the girls to college against objection by villagers. At college, Logeswari found it formidable to cope with the English medium, as she had her schooling in Tamil at the village school. With help from her teachers she has become confident after her performance in her first term exams and after participating in cultural activities. Her weekends are spent helping her parents pluck jasmine flowers in the fields from 6 in the morning. Or bring the cows back home or draw water from the well. Logeswari hopes to use her degree in social work to make her village more habitable. She feels her brush with city life has rendered her tough. There is no comparison. Logeswari’s life is different from her classmates as chalk is to cheese.

Based on a report by ‘yes team’ in YOUTH EXPRESS supplement of The New Indian Express, September 1, 2006.

TWO

Jaunpur District Magistrate Shri. Anurag Yadav is trying to set in motion the wheels of change at the grass roots. To achieve the goal, he is on a cycle yatra, covering 12-15 km in each block. He says: “We all are obsessed with the demand for physical infrastructure and have forgotten that physical infrastructure is just a means to achieve human development. For example, construction of a school building is no guarantee of literacy, so the option is to organise and empower communities for human development.” He wants a group of volunteers to be formed in every village. The group will take care of human development issues in the village. People are asked to maintain grain banks and certify that no family in the village is suffering from malnutrition. Everyone is asked to condemn female foeticide and pledge to fight it. To protect the environment, one must at least contribute by planting a tree, he says. Tree plantation is an essential component of every yatra. Almost 6,000 people in 17 blocks have given their names to work as volunteers.

Based on a report by Shri. Anil Kumar Pandey

in HINDUSTAN TIMES, August 20, 2006.

THREE

The wonder boy from the premier Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, is Shri. Sarath Babu. He declined a lucrative offer with a salary of Rs. 8.75 lakhs per month. He wanted to do independent business so that he could provide employment to the unemployed youth.He has already started one at Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Bharat. It was inaugurated by none other than Shri Narayanamurthy, former chief of Infosys. Sarath Babu did his graduation in BITS, Pilani with the help of loans. He has repaid all his loans. In his formative years, he was helping his single mother, earning an income of Rs.30 per month by selling idlies made by her to their clients in his street. That went on till he reached his 10th class. Thereafter, he was earning Rs. 150 per month by taking to bookbinding. He is from what is known as backward caste (BC). Though he had availed the reservation in quota system for BCs, he never really needed that since he was always the class first.
 
From a report in DECCAN CHRONICLE, August 27, 2006.  Idea: Shri .Srinivasan.
 

FOUR

A few months back, a senior swayamsevak of South Chennai district regaled schoolchildren in a city school with a story. As ever, his was a soulful rendering. The story was about the intense Krishna Bhakti of a village lad. The boy lost his way in a dense jungle and it was pitch dark. Afraid, the lad fervently prayed to Gopala to come at once and accompany him. His prayer was answered. One teacher of the school, let us call her Lakshmi, was so impressed that she decided to have faith in the children her class. Particularly the one that was weakest in studies. With single-minded shraddha, Lakshmi concentrated on that pupil. Soon the child’s performance improved. Now the child has got third rank. The teacher narrated her experience in a recent teachers’ meet at Mahakavi Subramania Bharati’s house (now a memorial) in Triplicane, Chennai.

A report in VIJAYABHARATAM, September 22, 2006. Idea: Shri. S.Murthy.

FIVE

An important method of contact during emergency situations is ICE. As cell phones are carried by many, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergencies as "ICE " (meaning ‘In Case of Emergency’). The idea was thought of by a paramedic. He found that when they went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which numbers to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there were a nationally recognized name for this purpose. Following a disaster in London, the East Anglican Ambulance Service has launched a national "In case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign. In an emergency situation, Emergency Services personnel or hospital staff would then be able to quickly contact your next of kin, by simply dialing the number stored as "ICE". For more than one contact, simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3, etc.
Information circulated by Anita in a yahoogroup maintained by former schoolmates of a North Chennai school. Idea: Shri. M.Jayaraman. 
 
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PANCHAAMRITAM 96

ONE

Lakshmamma (75) had been seeking alms at the entrance of Sri Lakshmi Venkateswara temple at Devunikadapa, Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh, Bharat, for the last three decades ever since her estrangement with her husband. She has contributed her earnings of Rs. 3.50 lakhs to Lord Venkateswara, for improving amenities to devotees. At the beginning, left to fend for herself, she took to seeking alms. Earlier, she donated all her earnings to Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in in Kadiri of Anantapur district and organised discourses on `Ramayanam' for three months. She later moved to Kadapa and began seeking alms near the Venkateswara Swamy temple. Lakshmamma recalls she went without food for a fortnight on coming to Kadapa. She slept near the temple and the temple prasadam was her food. She sweeps the temple premises daily before priests and devotees turn up.

Based on a report by Shri. M.V. Subramanyam in THE HINDU OF September 1, 2006.

TWO

Nine-year-old Rajani Gopalkrishna (now 36) suffered an allergy-triggered severe eye inflammation that left her almost blind. But, she survived. A chartered accountant employed in a top Bangalore based multinational, her life subsequently has not exactly been a bed of roses. Her vision gradually started to fade and a corneal grafting operation at 19 years led her to the verge of blindness. What was difficult was facing the “sympathy” from people around her. She says, “I turned blind through no fault of mine. Who will marry me now, what is my future are thoughts that did course through my head.” But a very strong and positive nature has helped her through this misfortune. Rajani found a way. She started Sahajaya yoga or a form of meditation. Rajani also learnt a musical instrument, the veena. Around this time, Rajani also joined Samarthanam, a voluntary organization in Bangalore, and learnt about screen reading software for the visually challenged. She cleared her CA exams. “I am happy that after me, many visually impaired people are pursuing commerce instead of arts,” she says. “ I’ve always seen my disability at a mental level and not at a physical one,” she adds.

Based on a YOUTH EXPRESS (September 15, 2006) feature by Smt.Kavitha Daniel

THREE

“I, an octogenarian, was returning with my daughter from Bangalore to Madras on the night of the August 28. Instead of boarding the Bangalore-Chennai Mail, we boarded the Kanyakumari Express by mistake. Luckily for us, even though the train had started moving, we found out the mistake quickly. Before we could even think any further, the Ticket Collector (TC) who came on the scene, told us courteously and gently that we could get off at Bangarapeti station (an hour from that point) and board the Chennai Mail from there. Next, the A/c engineer spontaneously called his colleague in the Chennai Mail and asked him to inform the respective TC not to give away our berths to anyone, explaining what had happened. Not only were we treated with respect (without a word of anger or enquiry) but were also offered the railway staff's seat till we got off the train!! The A/c engineer also informed us that the TC in the other train would look out for us at Bangarapet station. We got off at this station and waited for the Chennai Mail. It was midnight. The Mail did arrive in 15 minutes, the TC did look out for us, beckoned to us and comforted us by asking us not to hurry as we started scuttling towards our coach as the train was coming in. He also told us to make ourselves comfortable first before showing him our tickets.”

From a letter by Shri. Sethu Bhaskaran of Chennai in the Reader’s Mail column of THE HINDU of September 11, 2006.

FOUR

These pieces of information are from a recently published volume PRIDE OF INDIA: Sushruta Samhita (an Ancient text on Medicine) details procedures for the use of leeches for blood letting. Today, therer are at least Two US Compaines that supply Leeches to US Hospitals. Leeches are now classified as 'medical equipment' by the US FDA. In 1553 A.D. Michael Servetus, a Spanish Physician postulated that blood circulated from the heart to the lungs and back. In 1628 A.D, an English Physician, William Harvey Published a book describing the circulation of blood as accepted now. Harvey is usually credited as the discoverer of Blood Circulation. However, Sushruta (6th Century BC) and Bhela as well as Charaka clearly indicate not only the existence of blood circulation, but also the purpose of the blood circulation, i.e, supplying nutrition. Bhela even describes the blood circulation in the foetus. Bricks were found in 15 different sizes in Harappan sites. The length, width and thickness of the bricks were always in the ratio of 4:2:1 The 5,000 year old bricks from the Harappan excavation were used as ballast for the 100 miles of railway track between Multan and Lahore.

(Source: PRIDE OF INDIA;

Publishers: Samskrita Bharati, New Delhi 110 055; Price: Rs. 2,000)

[http://www.samskrita-bharati.org/books/prideofindia.pdf].

FIVE

Village Dhaaree, Pithoragarh district, Uttranchal, Bharat. Come evening and the air is filled with the heady odour of arrack emanating from the 13 illegal breweries there. Menfolk indulge in a drunken brawl on the street. Once they reach home, their wives become the target of their abuse and beatngs. Children were the worst hit. Meena (now 35) was shocked at this state of affairs when she entered the village as a bride. Her husband too was adrunkard. Soon she made up her mind. She built a team of 50-60 women and formed the Mahila Mangal Dal. The Dal fought and won a battle in getting the illicit liquor dens closed by the authorities. These days, if any male member if the village is sighted in a drunken position, a whisle is blown and lo, be it day or night, the entire womenfolk rush to the spot in no time. The man gets beaten up blue and black. Next, the women smear a herb that causes severe itching of the skin all over his body. With such untiring efforts of Meena and her brigade, village Dhaaree now smiles, the wails of women thrashed by their drunken menfolk having become a the thing of the past. Naturally, chidren play in the streets without any fear.

Based on an article in SANGH MARG (August 28, 2006), a Hindi monthly from Rohtak. The author is Shri. Susheel Rai who works for Sudarshan TV and is the Assistant Editor of SEWA JYOTI.

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PANCHAAMRITAM 97

ONE

She collects seeds scattered on the roadside, takes them home and plants them in paper cups. Once those seeds take hold, she gives them away. "One tree for every home" — that is Keerthana John's mission in life. A student of Class VII at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan MHSS, Coimbatore, Keerthana has so far grown 300 saplings, usually tamarind, gulmohur or vilvam. However, Keerthana does not give away her plants to all and sundry. To get a sapling, one has to answer a questionnaire: `Do you live in an independent house or a flat? Do you have space to plant one tree? Would you plant a tree? If not, why? And, would you collect and distribute seeds and saplings to others to spread the message of `one tree for one home'?' Keerthana has bought paper cups for her saplings with the money she has got by selling old newspapers and junk. The paper cups cost her 80 paise each. Keerthana hopes to enlist the help of her school and neighbouring ones to spread her green message.

Based on a report by Smt. Pankaja Srinivasan in THE HINDU of October 4, 2006. Idea: Shri. S.S.Narayanan

TWO

After the huge success of the Vedic epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Upanishads will appear on television in India. A noted Malyalam filmmaker is planning a 200-episode TV serial. The serial, called Upanishad Dhara,, seeks to explore the ancient Vedic Wisdom in all its 'beauty, subtlety and depth'. The entire project will cost approximately Rs 25 crore. The Upanishads, 108 in number, discuss philosophy, meditation and nature of God. According to the filmmaker Shri. Shaji N Karun, it is a massive project and will take two years of extensive research before filming begins. He said that the primary objective of this project is to propagate Vedic wisdom.

Based on a report in THE TIMES OF INDIA of September 27, 2006.

Idea: www.globalgoodnews.com

THREE

About 50 residents of Kallampalayam in Palladam Taluk of Coimbatore district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, were enticed by a wily proselytiser and were converted to Christianity. The were made to give up worship of Hindu deities. The proselytiser floated a chit fund, collected hard earned money from the unsuspecting villagers and fled the place. Meanwhile, many in the village were affected by Chikun Guniya epidemic last month. Now, a Hindu lady of the village, Smt. Mallika (35), swung into action, driven by humanism. She managed to arrange vehicles and got all the patients admitted to an hospital in the nearby town. She also cooked food and fed them till they got well. They returned home. At this juncture, the villagers started having a nagging feeling that they were hit by the epidemic because they had earned the displeasure of their kula devata on conversion. They all wanted to return to Hinduism but did not know how to go about it. Mallika was there to help them now as well. She invited all to come to her house. They came after taking bath. Mallika kept a big vessel full of water in front of them. Brought a few leaves of tulsi from the garden and put them in the water. She asked each one to drink a little of the tulsi tirth after sprinkling it on them all. Then she announced: “All of you are now Hindus. You will be known by your old Hindu names hereafter.” All were happy and grateful to Mallika, mother of two Sevikas of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, an all-Bharat organisation for Hindu women.

Based on a chat with RSS pracharak Shri. Sriram of Coimbatore in October, 2006.

FOUR

Scientists are using modern imaging technologies to digitally restore a 700-year-old palm-leaf manuscript containing the essence of Hindu philosophy. Each palm leaf of the sacred Hindu manuscript, the Sarvamoola granthas, was captured in multiple sections, processed and digitally stitched together. The project led by P.R. Mukund and Roger Easton, professors at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), will digitally preserve the original Hindu writings known as the Sarvamoola granthas attributed to Shri Madvacharya (1238-1317). The collection of 36 works contains commentaries written in Sanskrit on sacred Hindu scriptures. The processed images of the Sarvamoola granthas will be stored in a variety of media formats, including electronically, in published books and on silicon wafers for long-term preservation.

From www.rit.edu Idea: Dr. S. Kalyanaraman.

FIVE

PANCHAAMRITAM 98

ONE

A. Bharat’s top investigative agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has introduced a session of yoga to its personnel. The CBI has called upon New Delhi-based Prajana Institute of Yoga and Allied Sciences to help its officers to get rid of professional stress. The officers are being taught to practice yoga at any place including the office. Girish Jha, Yoga Trainer from the Institute said. Indian authorities, who have introduced such practice sessions for Army personnel as well, say yoga sessions are helping officers, who face strenuous working conditions (www.zeenews.com September 30, 2006). B. Indian industry has started delving into the depths of ancient wisdom; the Bhagvad Gita has become a handbook for the aspiring manager. The Gita has entered the classrooms of Business Management students. To the Y2K generation, the Gita has become a management gospel expounded by `super guru Krishna.' From the Pushpak Vimana to herbal medicines (Charaka Samhita), from management tactics (the Gita) to stress busters (yoga) and meditation (dhyana), our ancient texts had said it all much before the WTO-governed universe was ever thought of. IIM-Calcutta, Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune and others have designed their curriculum in line with Eastern thinking. Buzzwords such as TQM (total quality management) in our business schools have been replaced with Aham Brahmasmi (I am God) and Tat Tvam Asi (That thou art) to inspire confidence in oneself and in one's organisation. (Smt. Ranee Kumar in Metroplus of THE HINDU, October 23, 2006).

TWO

Gujarat government has collaborated with NGOs to start 'hunger helplines' across the state, a first of-its-kind project in Bharat. The objective of starting such a project with food charity organisations is to satisfy the basic hunger of people on regular days as well as during natural calamities like floods and earthquake. A pilot project "hunger helpline" has already started in Surat and around 30 food charity organisations have been clubbed under one organisation, which has been given the responsibility of guiding hungry people to the nearest place in the city where they can get food free of cost. Those in need for this helpline service just have to call one number to get connected to hunger helpline and an operator directs them to the nearest charity organisation from the area they are making the call, the official said.

Based on a report in THE TIMES OF INDIA, October 11, 2006. Idea: Shri. Arun Venkatraman

THREE

“We have 16 Shakhas (for Hindu men) and 5 Samitis (for Hindu women) in Mauritius. The overall population of Mauritius is approximately 16 lakhs million of which 51% is Hindu. Mauritius is the only country outside India to have known a ‘Hindu regeneration movement’. The movement ‘Jan Andolan’ was headed by Professor Basdeo Bissoondoyal following his return from his studies in Bharat in December 1939. When he passed away in 1991, his movement covered 50 years of existence, having succeeded in preventing Mauritius from becoming an outpost of Christianity as wished by Rev. Patrick Beaton in the 19th Century. Currently we have a Hindu Prime Minister belonging to the Mauritius labour party. According to the ‘proportional representation’ political system, Hindus would be given 51% of the seats in parliament, even if a lesser percentage of Hindus is elected”.

Shri Ramkisson Jeethah of Mauritius in an interview to Shri. Nilkesh Mehta of SANGH SANDESH of March – April, 2006. Idea: Shri. Raveendra Surange, UK.

FOUR

Shri. Shankar Ram Jangid, Additional Commissioner of Police, Chennai recently received a call from his elder brother Shri. Tararam Jangid. The line got abruptly disconnected. The worried police officer contacted his brother’s residence in Barmer district, Rajasthan only to learn that Tararam was away, busy rescuing marooned people to safety using his jeep during the unprecedented floods in Rajasthan.. He had already saved the lives of 105 persons thus. The younger Jangid hurriedly flew to Barmer and found out that Army rescue teams were searching for the body of Tararam. Barmer district Collector informed him that Tararam in his last phone call to him (the Collector) had requested, “the life of no rescue worker should be risked to rescue me. Please arrange to take the villagers whom I have rescued, to safety”. Tararam was the General Manager of a bank and had been instrumental in initiating several welfare measures in the neighbourhood. He had made those phone calls even as was about to be washed away by the furious floods. His body could be traced only a few days later.

Based on a report by Shri. Kanishka in the twice-a week Tamil magazine JUNIOR VIKATAN of October 15, 2006. Idea: Shri. Sundara Lakshmanan.

FIVE

If you look up the pages of the Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of France published in May 1911, you’d come across a paper by Venkatesh Ketakar on an as-yet unknown planetary body that was exerting a gravitational pull on the neighbouring planet Neptune. Ketakar’s paper featured orbital and other key calculations of this strange new planet. He named it Brahma. Almost 20 years later, in 1930, American scientist Clyde Tombaugh discovered it and called it Pluto. As textbooks around the world change with the recent demotion of Pluto from a planet to a ‘Pluton’ or a ‘dwarf planet’, perhaps Ketakar’s name could be added as well along with Tombaugh. A leading American college textbook Universe by Roger Freedman and William J Kaufmann III did that in 1968. The Indian Journal of History of Science recognised him in 1984.

Based on a report in DNA.com by Shri. Sachin Kalbag on August 25, 2006.

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Dear PANCHAAMRITAM readers,

namaste / vanakkam.

Next to this will be the 100th issue of your PANCHAAMRITAM. In between, we are mailing you a Special Message tomorrow (November 6, 2006) inviting your ideas as to how PANCHAAMRITAM could be made use of, for spreading the good word.

-- Team PANCHAAMRITAM

PANCHAAMRITAM 99

ONE

Bharat carried out the first test of a cryogenic rocket engine at Mahendragiri (near Kanyakumari) in Tamilnadu on Saturday, October 28, 2006. That put the country in a select club of 6 nations possessing such a capability. The test lasting 50 seconds was conducted at the Indian Space Research Organisation`s liquid propulsion systems center. It was "very successful", said ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair. This cryogenic rocket engine will enable India to launch heavier satellites. India need not rely on other countries for this purpose hereafter. This is another proof of the capability of Indian scientific community to accept challenges. Earlier, Russia had signed an agreement with India to transfer this high-energy knowhow. But the US thwarted this attempt and made Russia to pull back. But Indian space scientists built this Cryogenic Rocket Engine indigenously after ceaseless efforts. In an earlier episode, Indian computer scientists had accepted a similar challenge and built a supercomputer indigenously.

Based on an editorial in VIJAYABHARATAM, November 10, 2006.

TWO

Meet Smt. Shakuntala, 69, a housewife residing in KK Nagar, Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat. She has visited 2,50,000 Hanumans in 14 years. She read a news item in a 1992 issue of DINAMALAR VARAMALAR, a Tamil weekly that spoke of one Auto Pandi who regularly fed monkeys but always referred to them as Hanuman. That inspired Shakuntala to take a vow to visit 1lakh Hanuman temples. The highlight is that she always prays at those temples for others, not for herself. One prayer by her to bestow a child to an issueless woman flower vendor met with success. Now Shakuntalamma welcomes anyone with any grievance to contact her at phone number: 044-32520770. She offers to pray.

Based on a report by Shri. L.Murugaraj in DINAMALAR VARAMALAR of October 29, 2006. Idea: Smt. Vasantha.

THREE

Sri Lankan refugees, under the banner of the Organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR), have set up 25 livelihood training centres for the tsunami-affected people in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari districts. The OfERR has planned to provide 504 women with skills that offered alternative sustenance avenues. In Cuddalore district, 204 women underwent training in tailoring and handicrafts. At a function organised at Chinnur near Parangipettai on November 2, 2006, Tamilnadu State Fisheries Minister Shri. K.P.P.Sami gave away certificates to those women who had successfully completed the training. Shri. S.C.Chandrahasan, OfERR treasurer, said the refugees had taken up this service to express their gratitude to the host country (Tamil Nadu in India) that provided them with shelter, food and education when they landed here in a destitute condition. A total of 75,737 refugees (most of them Tamil speaking Hindus) are living in 131 camps in the State, and of them, 2,500 obtained degrees he informed.

Based on a report by Shri. A.V.Raghunathan in THE HINDU, November 3, 2006.

FOUR

Shri Selvakumar (now Shri. Raamaandi) runs a roadside idly shop on Ellis Road, off Walajah Road in Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat. Late night every day, he serves idlies and dosas free to about 60 old persons and children below 6 years of age. This annadaanam is going on for the past 25 years without break. He had suffered a lot in his childhood for want of food. So he feeds children. He feeds the aged as they are too weak to toil and eke out a livelihood. “Work hard. If you are unable to feed yourself even after that, come to me”-- reads a board displayed at Selvakumar’s idly shop.

Based on report in ANANDAVIKATAN, October 25, 2006. Idea: Shri. Krishnaraj.

FIVE

Vedapuri is the ancient name of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) on account of the presiding deity Shri Vedapreeshwara. Last week, a film company making a Tamil film ‘Sabari’ held a shooting inside the holy precincts of Shri Vedapureeswara temple, causing much inconvenience to devotees. Many complaints were made to the authorities. On November 2, the company again tried to shoot the film this time with its lead actor Shri Vijayakant present on the site. The news spread and activists of Hindu organizations including Hindu Munnai and RSS, as well as workers of BJP staged a demonstration in protest. They said that such irreligious activities harm the sanctity of the temple. An altercation between the Hindu activists and the film company functionaries followed. Vijayakant hurriedly left the spot. The shooting was cancelled; the film unit packed up and left, complaining that it had obtained prior permission.

(DINAMANI, November 3, 2006)

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AMAVAASYA, Kali Yugaabda 5108, Vyaya Karthigai 4 (November 20, 2006)

Dear PANCHAAMRITAM reader,

Namaste.

We thank those who responded to our note on the eve of PANCHAAMRITAM 100. More responses are coming in. A sample:

“Panchaamritam has brought back the self-esteem of Bharatiyas through well-chosen yet unglorified publications. The Indian elite, which has been groomed to look down upon anything Indian has run out of excuses to demean itself further with each issue of Panchaamirtam.(S.Karthikeyan).

This issue of your PANCHAAMRITAM, as you may note, has a theme: “collect to serve”. The idea is by reader Shri. Bhaktavatsalan,an RSS pracharak.

-- Team Panchaamritam

PANCHAAMRITAM 100

ONE

Smt Amudha’s hobby has a purpose: to help others. In her house in Oorappakkam West, on the outskirts of Chennai-603 202, Tamilnadu, Bharat (mobile: 9382201800, 9444762972), Amudha has organized a ‘Global Reference Service’, catering to the research needs of scholars. Occupying almost every nook and corner of the house are issues of over 500 magazines and newspapers collected over decades and arranged chronologically. Says Amudha, “so far 15 scholars have benefited by data inputs from Global Reference Service and got their Ph.Ds. The news of this service spreads by word of mouth and university students have begun making a beeline to our house.” This extrordinary housewife (husband Shri. Bhupathi is a journalist and son Shri. Stalin Kumaran is a trained technician) values a late 60’s copy of THE ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY OF INDIA carrying the interview of Shri. Guruji Golwalkar by Editor Shri. Kushwant Singh as precious possession. “Indeed, the Editor tries to prostrate before Shri. Guruji”, Amudha points out excitedly.

From a report by Shri. R.P. Murugesan and Shri. Pudhuvai Saravanan in the 2006 Deepavali special number of VIJAYABHARATAM (page 129).

TWO

A. Shri. Sankaran, 35, an activist of Bharat Vikas Parishad of Chennai, presents himself at gatherings of devout people anywhere in the city. He patiently waits at the gate with a load of Tulsi saplings. When the devotees disperse, he offers them the saplings free. He ensures that the receiver has regard for Tulsi. At early mornings, Sankaran takes position at the gate of big parks in the metro. As morning walkers emerge, he offers Tulsi plants to them. If someone offers a little money he does not refuse. (Idea: Shri. Ranganathan, Shri. S.Murthi). B. Parampara, of Chennai, takes up projects that integrate national wisdom with modern applications. Its Tulsi Project spreads awareness of the greatness of the Tulsi by offering its saplings to people who promise to nourish and nurture the holy basil. Krishna tulsi grown at Parampara is a plant that has very high medicinal properties and is used extensively in Ayurveda. The Tulsi saplings make ideal gifts on auspicious occasions like griha pravesam and children's birthdays. (chennaionline.com, August 9, 2003).

THREE

Chennai-based Shri. N.Balasubramanian, a former Defence department official, has a sizeable collection of publications “on, of and by Subramania Bharati”, the nationalist poet (1882-1921). All that meant for the youth, he adds. Every month he collects a few dozen persons in one of the Chennai neighbourhoods at the residences of friends by turn and reads out pages from Bharati’s prose, which is not as familiar as the Deshiya Kavi’s poetry. The readings are quite often on subjects alive even at present. This post retirement service of Balasubramanian has its beginnings in the centenary year (1982) of the patriotic Kavi. Then a resident of Delhi, Balasubramanian, managed to sensitize, as it were, the Central government on the need to celebrate the poet’s centenary. He had to goad Delhi-based litterateurs like Ka.Na. Subramaniam and Professor Swaminathan into action, he says. As the over-formal state celebration that was duly wound up at the end of the year “failed to measure up to the stature of Bharati”, Balasubramanian started his campaign to cause Bharati’s message reverberate through next generation -- under the banner of “Bharati 200”. An idol of Bharatamata worshipped by Bharati (obtained from the Mandayam family) is the unique piece among his collections.

As told to Team Panchaamritam

FOUR

From Tiger Varadachari of yesteryears to Unnikrishnan of today -- you can listen to almost all Vidwans. Cassette players, ear-phones, apt cubicles, etc., add to the listening pleasure. Yes, there is an excellent collection of Carnatic music audiotapes (over 3,000) at Sampradaya (on Kalakshetra Raod, Thiruvamiyur, Chennai). The voices of S.G. Kittappa, N.C. Vasanthakokilam, Ariyakudi, Semmangudi and D.K. Pattammal are easily identifiable. Smt. Geetha, Director, Sampradaya Trust (Phone: 044-24521217) and Shri. Govindan are ever willing to help music lovers in their pursuit. Some 25 years back, Shri. Ludwig Paesh, a German, and Shri. Michael Nicholson of USA, both students of Smt Savithri Rajan (a disciple of the soulful gayaka M.D.Ramanathan) began this service in an empty garage in Chennai. Max Mueller Bhavan of Chennai pitched in with recording facilities. Ford Foundation of USA funded the project for some time.

As told by Smt. Geetha to Team Panchaamritam

FIVE

One who sets out to learn Vedanta in a traditional method needs to devote quite a bit of time and energy. If such an arrangement, that facilitates one to grasp the outlines of Vedanta authentically at leisure (that too in one’s mother tongue or in a language one is conversant with) is there, then it would be excellent. The Chennai – based Sastraprakasika Trust provides precisely that. It offers pre-recorded audio cassettes containing recording of the discourses / lectures by learned acharyas like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Omkarananda and Swami Guruparananda. The cassettes mainly contain the lectures, in Tamil and in English, delivered by them on Vedantic texts to their students. For the last 26 years, the Sastraprakasika Trust meets the needs of spiritual seekers through its audio-cassette lending library comprising 3000 audio cassettes in Mylapore, Chennai (Phones: 044-28475009 and 28470311). A nominal membership fee of Rs. 40 is charged. Over 200 members are benefited by this service. According to the website of the Trust, sastraprakasika.org, the Vedanta cassettes are also available for sale.

As told by Swami Paramarthananda to Team Panchaamritam

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