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The Magazine of Sri Narasingha Chaitanya Ashram Issue No.4

Mystical Melukote

w w w. g o s a i . c o m

Senior Editor

Swami Narasingha

Associate Editors

Swami Giri Swami Srirupa Madhava Priyanana

Science Editor

Swami Vishnu

Health Editor



Swami Giri Sanatana

Layout and Design

Rasikananda Gaura-Gopala

Art Department

Dominique Amendola


Rammohan Nila Newsom Swami Giri Satyaraja


Advaita Acharya

Contents 01 03

Editorial Free Will Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja


Sri Guru Tattva - Part 3 Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura


Sriya Suka Swami Narasingha


Sankirtana - The Process of Self -Realization Swami Narasingha


The Opulence of Bhagavan Swami B.V. Giri


Timingila - Myth or Fact?


Mystical Melukote

Swami Narasingha Swami B.V. Giri


Melukote Photospread Nila Newsom


Sanskrit - The Language of Enlightenment Vyaas Houston M.A.


Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence Rick Briggs


Alexander the Great & King Porus Prof. N.S. Rajaram


2012 - The End of the World (Again)


The Art & Life of Raja Ravi Varma


Polio and Cancer - Dr. Mary’s Monkey


Love That Corn!

161 163

Words of Wisdom

Swami B.V. Giri Dominique Amendola Edward T. Haslam Jesus Valdez

Culinary Magic Ratna Chintamani

Editorial Welcome to the first issue of Gaudiya Touchstone for 2013 - now in our second year of publication. This issue has articles on a wide range of topics; Free Will of the jiva soul as the root cause of material bondage by Swami B.R. Sridhara, the third and final part of Guru-tattva and the Secret of Diksha by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and the secret identity of Sukadeva Goswami revealed in Sriya Suka. In The Opulence of Bhagavan, Swami B.V. Giri reports on the great treasure of gold, silver and jewels recently found in the South Indian Hindu Temple of Sri Padmanabha, making Padmanabha the most opulent place of monotheistic worship in the world. In the article Timingila – Myth or Reality we learn that there were indeed monsters in the ancient seas as well as descriptions of such in Vedic literature. Our cover story, Mystical Melukote by Swami Giri, takes us on a journey to an amazing place in South India steeped in history and culture, and photographer Nila Newsom reveals Melukote to us through his lens. Sanskrit, the language of sages in ancient India, is still alive and well today. In Sanskrit the Language of Enlightenment by Vyaas Houston and Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence by Rick Briggs from NASA, we learn how effective and useful the ancient language of Sanskrit is, even in our modern scientific world. In Alexander the Great and King Porus, Prof. N.S. Rajaram turns our attention to Alexander the Great’s so-called ‘victory’ over King Puru of India and tells the true story of what happened at the battle of Hydaspes.


2012 – the End of the World (Again) allows us to breath a sigh of relief knowing that we have all survived what some people thought was the to be the end of the world on December 21st, 2012. End of the world doomsayers, it seems, have been around for a very long time and we will probably see more of them in the future. Dr. Mary’s Monkey traces the current cancer epidemic in western countries back to the 1950s when health authorities in the United States of America knowingly released a cancer contaminated polio vaccine, infecting millions of unsuspecting people worldwide with cancer. To further our understanding about what makes a healthy diet, the article Love that Corn! tells us what we need to know, especially if we are corn lovers. Also in this issue, Dominque Amendola gives us a feast for the eyes as she shares with us the art and life of Ravi Varma and in Culinary Magic, Ratna Chintamani shares some of her original recipes for a typical South Indian lunch. Read on. OM TAT SAT Swami Narasingha




Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja


onsciousness means to be endowed with free will. Without free will no consciousness can be conceived. Consciousness means free will. This individual point of consciousness (jiva) means very meager free will. By the exercise of his free will the jiva is asserting itself. It may go that side (Vaikuntha), or this side (the land of exploitation). Some jivas are going that side; some are coming this side from the marginal plane. Free will is the first action of coming into the land of exploitation. It is by free choice. Svabhava, or independence, is already there in the jiva – the very nature is there. But as the resulting consequence, we see that some jivas have taken their chance on this side. They did not accept submission, but wanted to dominate. With this germinal idea of domination, the jiva enters into the world of exploitation. The consequence of exploitation is added to his free will, then that is the basis of all these developments in variegated nature. The original starting point is like that — the vulnerability of the free thinkers. Free thinking is vulnerable because it is very meager, small, anu-chaitanya, anu-svairiatva – limited freedom, limitation of free will. That is the cause of this world. Maya is automatically the effect of the outcome of the vulnerable free will of the jiva. The world exists, just as the prison house exists due to evil desires for the encroachment on another’s property. If that misdeed is absent, then the prison house is absent. Prison

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houses are necessary. Kara-kartri – Durga-devi is kara-kartri. It is mentioned in Brahmasamhita, chayeva yasya bhuvanani vibharti durga. Kara-kartri – prison keeper.  Why prison?  There are prisons because there is vulnerability in the choice of freedom, leading to encroachment on another’s property. Otherwise no world is necessary. But because it is possible, prison houses are there. If disease is absent, hospitals are absent. No disease — no hospital. No crime — no prison house. No misuse of free will – no world!  No blame for the existence of this world or our suffering should be put on the shoulders of Krishna, nor on Maya. You and you alone are responsible for your own suffering. You are weak — your thinking, your capacity, your everything is weak. Once in Puri, one gentleman came to our Guru Maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada, and put a question, “How did our life in bondage begin? How it first started? Who is responsible – God, Maya, or jiva? There are three factors –God is there with His paramount power, Maya is there which comes to capture the jiva, and the jiva is independent we are told. Then how did it begin? What was the first cause of such a beginning – the jiva’s contact with the world? The jiva is free, and God is, of course, absolutely free and Maya is there. Maya is playing with us. But when it first starts, who is responsible?” Then Prabhupada answered but that gentleman couldn’t follow what he was saying. In various ways the gentleman was pushing his question and Prabhupada was very much feeling disturbance. A few other persons from our matha including Professor Sanyal, Vasudeva Prabhu and Hayagriva Prabhu were also present. I could not tolerate this, so I offered obeisances to Prabhupada and asked his permission that. “He cannot follow your urgent statements, so please order me to answer his question.” Then Prabhupada happily said, “Yes, you may talk with him.” I told that man, “One by one let us analyze. Suppose if for the pleasure of God, God is the cause – then what is the next step?  What it will be?  The jiva is suffering from misery, and God is the cause of the suffering of the jiva – can you adjust it? He is omniscient, He is omnipotent, He is all-benevolent and He is the cause of such


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suffering? He is seeing the fun, and so many jivas, they are under misery, suffering like anything. He can deliver them also, but He does not do so. Can you accept that conception of Godhead?” The gentleman replied, “No I can’t.” “Then He cannot be the cause of the suffering of the jivas.” The gentleman agreed, “Yes.” “Then if Maya is the cause, so many other questions come. Is Maya more powerful than the jiva and God? Maya is torturing the jiva and the omniscient God is seeing the fun. Then there is no justice in the world. God is aloof and Maya is attacking and torturing the jiva. Is that the position of God?” Then a few other steps also I explained, “The sufferer is responsible for his own suffering. If we leave the responsibility on the shoulders of Maya, these are the difficulties – on the shoulders of God, these are the difficulties. The cause of the suffering of the jiva, of the soul, must be within him (the jiva). It begins in this way – first it starts with free will. In the beginning it is like that of curiosity and then when you connect once with Maya, then Maya gets some influence over you. In this way, God does not come to interfere with the freedom of the soul. Consciousness means endowed with freedom. But the jiva is a particle of consciousness, so his freedom is also a particle. The vulnerability of the free will of the jiva soul is the cause, the first starting point. Then Maya comes. Just as when one begins taking any intoxication – first it starts with something like curiosity, and then the intoxication gets some position, some impulse is created, momentum, then he loses his freedom. The free will of the jiva gradually comes into the clutches of Maya losing it’s own free choice. Then that gentleman admitted, “It is true.” Free will is there and that is the rub. Some say in disappointment, “Why has Krishna given such dangerous free will to us, by misusing which we are under eternal suffering? Why has He given? He is omniscient – He is all-knowing. Then knowingly we can misuse. Why He has given such a thing to us? Why has an adult given a dagger in the hand of an infant, that he may stab himself?”


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The Absolute Truth does not create anyone’s sense of proprietorship, one’s actions or the results of those actions.All this is enacted by the modes of material nature. (Gita 5.14) However, devoid of free will, the jiva is only a material thing. Free will is very valuable and with the help of that, the jiva can taste rasa. TThe tongue has been given the ability to taste sweetness as well as bitter things.. If the tongue is devoid of taste, then also he will not be able to experience sweetness at any time. Because we are only touching bitter things to the tongue, we are abusing the Creator, “Why has He given us the tongue and we are tasting these bitter things?” But at the same time, to taste sweet things the tongue is necessary. In the service of Krishna, free will is necessary – for the serving purpose of the Lord. Temporarily coming in connection with bitter things, we shall abuse the Creator, “Why has He given?” Some bad things are disturbing my ears, so should we think that the ears should be abolished? The eyes should be abolished because I have to see some undesirable sight? Because the eyes have been given, then the prospect is that we will have to see such charming beauty. If eyesight is withdrawn, then we are left as a stone. So free will is the very gist of everything. If that is snatched away, then we are reduced to stone. That is not desirable to anyone. Everything has got its bright side, and for that it has been created, it has been given to us. By misuse of free will we suffer, and by good use we thrive. Some are coming into the world of exploitation to suffer, some to the world of dedication to thrive. And the beginning should be attributed to the innate tendency of the jiva, his innate nature, which is endowed with free will, free choice.


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na kartritvam na karmani lokasya srijati prabhuh na karma-phala-samyogam svabhavas tu pravartate The Absolute Truth does not create anyone’s sense of proprietorship, one’s actions or the results of those actions. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature. (Gita 5.14) It is substantiated in the Bhagavad-gita that the jiva is responsible for entering into the land of exploitation. The first awakening of freedom, free will, is from the nonspecified position when the jivas are all jumbled together — undifferentiated character, glowing only (Brahma-jyoti), they are coming with free will. By free choice they are going this side and that side. Otherwise Krishna will be responsible for their distressed condition. But, in this verse (na kartritvam na karmani…) Krishna says, “I am not responsible for the activities of the jiva. I have given them freedom, and they are working freely. And the clash between them is the cause of their disturbance. But when they leave their wholesale attention to their social activity and come to Me, they will get relief from all.” The jiva’s own innate nature is responsible for that condition. The first awakening of the jiva is free will and free choice. Free means they can go to this side or that side. Because the jiva is very tiny, anukta-prayukta, his free will is also not perfect. We have free choice. The result of that free choice is that some came this way, some went that side. It is unintelligible that Krishna is responsible for the jiva’s suffering. The responsibility is with the jiva because freedom is given to him. Someone may say that, svarupe sabara haya golokete sthiti – in the innermost existence we all have connection with Krishna, but that is not true about the section that comes from the tatastha-sakti. Kara sarvani bhutani, kuthashto ‘kara uchyate –all the jivas come from a particular potency of the Lord which is known as tatastha. Mahaprabhu says:


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jivera-svarupa haya krishnera nitya dasa jivera tatashta shakti bhedabheda prakasha The constitutional position of the jiva is to be the eternal servant of Krishna. He is the marginal potency of Krishna and simultaneously different and non-different from Him. (Cc. Madhya. 20.108) The internal potency is already going on smoothly, eternally, in svarupa-shakti  – Vaikuntha, and Goloka. And the marginal potency is the mother of so many jivas that come here by the wrong exercise of their freedom. But there is adaptability within.

The constitutional position of the jiva is to be the eternal servant of Krishna. He is the marginal potency of Krishna and simultaneously different and nondifferent from Him. (Cc. Madhya. 20.108)


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Just as while he is in the marginal potency, in the buffer state, he can come this side, he can go that side also. The jiva has got his adaptability with both sides. He is not in Goloka – he has not fallen from there – but he has got his internal adaptability to come in favorable circumstances, then he will bloom to fruit and attain that position. Free service is necessary, not forced labor. Devotion is not forced labor, but devotion is voluntary service. The jiva soul will be happy when freedom is there, but he cannot feel satisfaction if he is forced into service. Devotion is free cooperation and free service, and forced labor is not devotion nor is it service, nor is it dedication. By the nature of things, Krishna cannot interfere and He does not interfere. Not even God, what to speak of His devotees, will interfere with the free will of the jiva soul.  Freedom is indispensable for the soul and it cannot be snatched away. Freedom does not mean absolute freedom. Because the soul’s existence is small, his freedom is defective – there is the possibility of committing a mistake. Freedom of the minute soul does not mean perfect freedom. Complete freedom would be perfect reality, but the minute soul is endowed with the smallest atomic freedom. This is the position of the atoms of consciousness, and this is why they are vulnerable. They may judge properly or improperly; that is the position of those who are situated in the marginal position. If the soul were not endowed with the freedom to determine his position, we would have to blame God for our suffering. But we cannot blame God. The starting point of the soul’s suffering is within himself. This is in the clear introspection of the sadhaka. The very subtle-most thing, the starting point, cannot be detected by ordinary consciousness. The participation of the soul in this material world has been called anadi – that which has no beginning, because it affects before he enters into the factor of time and space –jadiya-kala. But one can see that this is limited. However lengthy it may seem to the victims of Maya, still it is a limited thing. The jiva’s connection with this mayika world is called anadi. Anadi means beginningless. But anadi has been explained in this way – why is it anadi? Because after he enters this phenomenal world, then he comes within the factor of space and time. Space begins


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– time begins. It is conditional. The time calculation of the world only begins when we enter the mayika ego and we come within the form of thought. Time, space, person – these are the forms of thought and they come from ego – this ego of the non-eternal aspect, the phenomenal aspect. Everything in its innate nature has got a real connection with the Lord. The inner thing is more important than the outer impressions so that must be given preference. We must think in that way. Then we can find that this mayika existence is temporary, though it is told anadi. Anadi means before it enters this world of mundane thinking, the primal stage of conscious existence. So, although it is told as anadi (beginningless), still it has got adi (a beginning) in the spiritual record.  From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, when specifications begin, movement begins and then individual conscious units grow. Because it is conscious, it is endowed with free will, and by free choice from the buffer position, from the marginal position, they have to take one side – the side of exploitation, or the side of dedication. By exercise of their free will they start, and as a result we see that some come towards exploitation and some go towards dedication. If we are to analyze to the extreme, then we are to follow such a train of thought. Anadi bahira-mukha. Anadi means that which has no beginning. Then why after they enter the land of exploitation, do they begin to come within the form of thought, place and time? Before time, before the conception of this material time, there is movement – so anadi.  Firstly, bahira-mukhata means the tendency towards exploitation. At the beginning, the first tendency is towards exploitation. When jivas enter the area of exploitation, then that comes within the factor of time and space, the thought of the mundane world. So it is said, anadi bahira-mukha. Some enter this side and some may go towards Vaikuntha. In this way, the equilibrium is disturbed and the dynamic character of this world begins in the negative side. The jiva has got his beginning, but does not come within the jurisdiction of the world of limitation until he exercises his free will. Out of curiosity he first enters into this land. From then he comes under the factor of this limited world. His participation is beyond the beginning of this limited world. Therefore, it is said, anadi. Anadi means does not come within the jurisdiction of this limited world. First participation begins, then entrance into the world of consideration. First there is subtle participation and


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then the jiva comes within calculation. Mundane calculation is not possible within the eternal world. The jiva comes within the jurisdiction of mundane calculation after subtle participation. The jiva’s beginning is before. Anadi – before this finite relativity. It is a very intricate question –  troublesome, intricate and puzzling. The nature of too much discussion may oppose faith. Ultimately, everything is adhoksaja. Krishna, Narayana – that is adhoksaja. We must have some respect for that and it is approachable only through faith – sraddha, and not by intellectual reason or argument. The solution is not within our mental scope. Mahaprabhu says acintya. It is not within the boundary of your intellect. So when we are discussing things it should be only to understand the shrauta-siddhanta (conclusions heard from the previous acharyas), the positive thing that has been given to us. We may try our best to use our experience to know the wholesale character of it, but too much of this will disturb our faith. The possibility is there. We must always keep it in the background of our discussion – that His ways are unknown and unknowable; we cannot bring Him within our fist.

Anadi means before it enters this world of mundane thinking, the primal stage of conscious existence. So, although it is told as anadi (beginningless), still it has got adi (a beginning) in the spiritual record.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada 13

Sri Guru Tattva and the Secret of Diksha Part - 3 Questions and Answers Between Sri Rajendranath Pal Chaudhuri Mahashaya and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada (From Dainik Nadiya Prakasa, Janmastami Edition, 1934)

Rajen Babu: Isn’t the kanistha-adhikari qualified to give initiation into the mantra? Srila Saraswati Prabhupada: Where is the kanishtha-adhikari coming from? Who gave him the adhikara? A kanishtha-adhikari can never become a guru. Rajen Babu: Can a madhyama-adhikari give diksha? Prabhupada: He can only perform the initial duties of diksha. It is the uttama-adhikari maha-bhagavata Vaishnava who is actually the diksha-guru. There are two types of Vaishnavas – the ragatmika and the raganuga. Those who are from the eternal realm offer service to Sri Krishna directly. These ragatmikas serve Sri Varshabhanavi and Her direct expansions. Those who perform direct service to the ragatmikas and take shelter in them through the performance of smarana are raganugas. These are spiritual gurus. A social guru does not understand Vaishnava dharma or spirituality. The attainment of selfish interests or the mundane interests of others is anatma-dharma – it is not atmadharma or spirituality. Teaching the sitar is not the duty of the Absolute. Selfishness and spirituality are two separate things. The attempt to serve oneself is the antithesis of spirituality. Self interest means discriminating between sin and piety. Mahaprabhu married for the second time, and accepted Sri Vishnupriya-devi. However, pondering how He would establish spiritual discrimination amongst His own followers, He renounced the world in order to teach the common people through His ideal example. This pastime of His intense search for Krishna is the ideal example to be followed by us. Sakshat and smriti –  there is a difference between these two things. In the state of svarupa-siddhi, remembrance of Krishna (smriti) gives rise to the state of visualization


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(sakshat-kara); the plane of vastu-siddhi gives rise to direct darshana of and service to Krishna. Rajen Babu: What is the difference between svarupa-siddhi and vastu-siddhi? Prabhupada: We must destroy the mind – it must be eliminated. The mind is the king amongst all the senses. The senses supply the mind with knowledge of the external world. Through such knowledge supplied by the senses, the mind sometimes engages in gross enjoyment and sometime in subtle enjoyment. The human soul has made the mind its agent to deal with the world of enjoyment. When this mind becomes engrossed in its own principles, then various anarthas arise. If one wants to attain real pleasure by removing displeasure, then the mind is to be destroyed. There is danger when the mind acts independently – chastising the mind is the first statement found in all the shastras. However, there is no way of chastising the mind except by serving the lotus feet of Hrshikesha. By following the path of yoga and performing yama etc. an opposite result will ensue. Sriman Mahaprabhu explains how the mind ascends to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna – anyera hridaya – mana, mora mana – vrindavana mane vane eka kari’ jani tahan tomara pada-dvaya, karaha yadi udaya tabe tomara purna kripa mani For most people, the mind and heart are one, but because My mind is never separated from Vrindavana, I consider My mind and Vrindavana to be one. My mind is already Vrindavana, and since You like Vrindavana, will You please place Your lotus feet there? I would deem that Your full mercy. (Cc. Madhya. 13.137) The shelter of Chaitanyadeva’s mind is Vrindavana, the place of Krishna’s pastimes; it remains perpetually engaged in the mood of serving Krishna in five bhavas. When the mind ceases to serve Krishna, it remains settled in the material world on the plane of shanta-dharma etc. The nirupadhika (detached) mind is Vrindavana,


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and the sopadhika (attached) mind is the material world. Mahaprabhu was given the name Sri Krishna Chaitanya because He distributes Krishna consciousness and makes people aware of Krishna. Anyone who has taken full shelter of Sri Krishna Chaitanya should know that they have no other duty except for constantly cultivating Krishna consciousness and performing smarana of krishna-lila. Of course, this does not refer to artificial lila-smarana. Forgetting the lotus feet of Krishna results in complete inauspiciousness, whereas krishna-seva creates all good fortune and destroys all types of obstacles. avismritih krishna-padaravindayoh kshinoty abhadrani ca sam tanoti For one who remembers the lotus feet of Krishna, all inauspiciousness soon disappears, and one’s good fortune expands. (Bhag. 12:12:55) When one attains the platform of svarupa-siddhi and one constantly fixes the mind on the lotus feet of Krishna, then when this subtle body (linga-deha) is completely destroyed along with gross or subtle impressions of material enjoyment and the gross body also expires, then direct visualization of one’s desired object is attained. Rajen Babu: What is vastu-siddhi? Prabhupada: To attain Krishna directly. After svarupa-siddhi is vastu-siddhi. If the mind can be eliminated while one is alive, then at the time of leaving this body, you can attain eternal service in the transcendental Vrindavana and will never take birth again. However, by the will of the Lord, divine personalities such as Kashara Muni, Bhuta-yogi, Mahad, Bhakti-sara, Shathari etc. descend from Vaikuntha in order to liberate the jivas. During Sri Krishna’s earthly pastimes in Vrindavana, His eternal associates also descended with Him. That is a different thing. They have no material birth. There are two kinds of associates – the sadhana-siddha and the nitya-siddha. The nitya-siddhas descend by the desire of Krishna in order to liberate the world.


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Rajen Babu: Isn’t it possible to take diksha at the lotus feet of a sad-guru and perform shravana and kirtana while remaining at home? Prabhupada: vastv-advitiyam tan-nistham kaivalyaika-prayojanam The Absolute Truth is the ultimate reality, one without a second. This goal is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme Truth. (Bhag. 12.13.12) In the non-liberated world, shravana, kirtana and smarana are hampered – but this is not so in the liberated world. There, after attaining svarupa-siddhi, shravana etc. goes on without any kind of obstruction. Therefore, while staying in this world of entanglement, apart from hearing from Sri Guru – who is a resident of the liberated world – and remaining close to his lotus feet and happily rendering service to him, any other place is infested with materialistic association where one has no hope for nourishment. Who will make us hear? How will we develop the proper qualification for kirtana? All these things must be taken into consideration. Rajen Babu: Can one meditate upon service to Sri Gurudeva from afar? Prabhupada: Meditation is not like that. Meditation etc. is not possible if even for a moment the thought arises to live far away from the lotus feet of our guru. Such a tendency is common nowadays. While following the customs of Vaishnavism such as asat-sanga-tyaga, there arises a cheating propensity amongst weak-hearted people to superficially perform service to Sri Guru (which lacks genuine and sincere effort) and to externally seek the association of saintly people. In fact, without the practice of hearing and chanting in association of sadhus, no one can ever advance in bhajana with such a superficial tendency. atah sri-krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah


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The mundane senses cannot conceive of Krishna’s holy name, form, qualities and pastimes. When one renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord’s holy name then the Lord reveals Himself. (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.234) These words of Sri Rupapada deserve special consideration. Rajen Babu: Can we not listen to another Vaishnava? Prabhupada: He should be respected if he is actually a disciple of a real guru. One may listen to those who have heard from a genuine spiritual preceptor. But wherever it is found that there is a conflict in opinion between him and my guru, then to see him as a ‘Vaishnava’ is a sure path leading to hell. mannathah sri jagannathah mad-guruh sri jagad-guruh My Lord is Sri Jagannatha and my guru is the universal teacher.

Go and study the Bhagavata from a Vaishnava. Totally surrender at the feet of a Vaishnava. Always associate with the devotees of Sri Chaitanya. Only then will you understand the waves of the ocean of devotional conclusions. (Cc. Antya 5.131-132)

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It is not proper to associate with a person who has deviated even minutely from the suddha-bhakti-siddhanta preached by my Guru-Pada-Padma. The basis of hearing from him is that he himself has heard from Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Rajen Babu: Is the study of spiritual books or periodicals also considered to be shravana and kirtana? Prabhupada: In attempting to understand a book with my own realizations, I will actually understand something different due to my perception being covered with anarthas. Sri Damodara-svarupa has said: yaha bhagavata pada vaishnavera sthane ekanta asraya kara vaishnava-charane chaitanyera bhakta-ganera nitya kara sanga tabe ta’ janiba siddhanta-samudra-taranga Go and study the Bhagavata from a Vaishnava. Totally surrender at the feet of a Vaishnava. Always associate with the devotees of Sri Chaitanya. Only then will you understand the waves of the ocean of devotional conclusions. (Cc. Antya 5.131-132) Rajen Babu: And if I study while under the shelter of the lotus feet of a guru? Prabhupada: If one cannot hear topics directly at the lotus feet of the guru, then one can study various books etc. Acharyatrika Prabhu (Kunja-vihari Vidyabhushana): yahara darshane mukhe aise krishna-nama tanhare janiha tumi vaishnava-pradhana One whose very presence induces others to chant the name of Krishna should be understood to be a first-class Vaishnava. (Cc. Madhya 16.74) One must only perform shravana and kirtana while situated at the lotus feet of that person, whom upon meeting, the name of Krishna instantly manifests on ones lips; and while one is in the presence of such a person, all other thoughts are removed and bad association can never influence us.


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Prabhupada: Shravana is eternal. Shravana continues even after the attaining svarupasiddhi. Once, Thakura Haridasa was performing solitary chanting of the holy name of Hari in a hut deep within the jungles of Benapol. At that time, in order to diminish the glories of Haridasa, an immoral woman was sent to that place by the conniving landowner Ramachandra Khan, and she entered the Thakura’s hut expressing her evil intentions. Then the Thakura told her, “I have taken hari-nama diksha. I will talk to you after that diksha is over.” In other words, the actual purpose of Haridasa was that this diksha will never end and I will not listen to what you have to say. On hearing hari-nama chanted from the holy mouth of the Thakura, the consciousness of that immoral woman changed. sei vaishnavi haila parama-mahanti bada bada vaishnava tanra darshanete yanti In this way the prostitute became an advanced devotee. Great Vaishnavas would come for her darshana. (Cc. Antya 3.132) When the Thakura left Benapol and went to Phuliya, he instructed the prostitute to remain in that hut and to perform hari-bhajana with intense renunciation. One’s consciousness becomes purified through the process of shravana. Then we become like this: keba shunaila shyama-nama kanera bhitara diya, marama pasila go akula karila mora prana Who forced me to hear the name of Shyama? It has entered into my ear and touched the very essence of my being, overwhelming my life airs! (Candidasa)


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Thakura Bhaktivinoda has sung: ye dina grihe bhajana dekhi, grihete goloka bhaya That day that I see the worship of the Lord in my home, the abode of Goloka seems to manifest there. (Saranagati 3.6) Rajen Babu: Can we fall down even after having taken diksha? Prabhupada: Yes, if we become indolent. Rajen Babu: After diksha, will I notice that the tendency to enjoy material pleasures has decreased? Prabhupada: Of course. divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya samkshayam tasmad diksheti sa prokta deshikais tattva-kovidah Great scholars who are expert in spiritual science call the process by which divine knowledge is given and sins are eliminated as diksha. (HBV 2.7) This diksha never ends. There is also no end to the attacks of bad association. It is not simply a question of receiving the mantra in the ear: vishrambena guroh seva sadhu-vartmanuvartanam One must serve the spiritual master with intimacy and affection and follow the path of the sadhus. (BRS. 1.2.74) One must follow the guru by the process of seriously inquiring about the nature of bhajana (bhajana-riti-prashnah), forsaking all types of sense-enjoyment in order to cultivate love for Krishna (sri krishna-pritaye bhogadi-tyagah) etc. If one shows a lack of sincerity in properly understanding this due to the pride of receiving diksha, then what possibility is there of removing anarthas? One must be in touch with the real thing. diksha-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana sei-kale krishna tare kare atma-sama


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At the time of diksha when a devotee fully surrenders then Krishna accepts him as good as Himself. (Cc. Antya 4.192) sei deha kare tara chid-ananda-maya aprakrita-dehe tanra charana bhajaya When the devotee’s body is fully transformed into a spiritual substance, then with that spiritual body he worships the lotus feet of Krishna. (Cc. Antya 4.193) After surrendering oneself at the lotus feet of Sri Guru, through the process of shravana etc, pure devotion arises within one’s pure consciousness. If after accepting this, one continues to serve the spiritual master, then gradually the thirst for gratifying one’s own senses reduces and the thirst for serving Krishna’s senses intensifies.

FOOTNOTES anatma-dharma – Those activities that are against the nature of the self. atma-dharma – Activities that are of the nature of the true self. gurutva – Literally means heavy, or in this case, strong or superior. laghutva –Literally ‘lightweight’ or in this case, superficial. raganuga – Those devotees that take shelter of the path of spontaneous devotion. ragatmika – The eternal residents of Goloka whose devotion is saturated with deep attachment for the Lord. rati – The stage of transcendental attachment. sakshat – Direct experience of the Lord. shanta-dharma – The path of neutrality. smriti – Remembrance of the Lord and His pastimes. svarupa-siddhi – The stage when bhava manifests; one becomes free from the influence of matter and one’s spiritual identity is revealed. vastu-siddhi – The stage where the devotee actually enters the pastimes of the Lord. yama – The various observances found in the process of yoga.




Swami B.G. Narasingha



f you have been attending extensive harikatha in recent years then you may have heard or read the story of Radha’s parrot generally known as Sriya Suka. The story is paraphrased as follows: One day Lord Siva was speaking the Bhagavatam for his wife Parvati to hear. As Siva spoke in deep rapture, Parvati herself was not so attentive and began to slumber. A parrot however was sitting nearby and he appeared to be listening to Lord Siva as he spoke. Suddenly Siva could see that Parvati had not been listening. Then he understood that the parrot had seemed to have taken it all in. Siva began to reflect that this ignorant bird had heard the Bhagavatam but would simply repeat it, as parrots are prone to do and thus make a mockery of the great message of Bhagavatam. Siva thus decided to terminate the parrot, at which time the bird took flight in great fear with Siva in hasty pursuit. The chase was on and the parrot soon reached the ashram of Vyasadeva where he flew into the mouth of Vatika, Vyasadeva’s wife, entering her womb. The parrot was now safe. For sixteen years the parrot stayed within the womb of Vatika before taking birth, becoming known as Sukadeva, the son of Vyasa, and eventually as the speaker of the Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit. Yet we are told that the original identity of Sukadeva was that of Srimati Radharani’s pet parrot. The story goes this: Radha’s pet parrot (suka) used to sit on Her left hand while She would affectionately feed him the seeds from pomegranate fruit. She would pet him affectionately telling him “Bolo Krishna! Bolo Krishna!” This parrot would then sweetly utter the Names of Krishna. “One day that


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suka flew away to Nandagrama to Krishna who was sitting within a kunja (Garden) with His friend Madhumangala and others. The suka sat on a branch of a pomegranate tree and very sweetly began to utter Krishna’s Name, “Krishna, Krishna.” Krishna looked toward the suka and was moved. The parrot spoke again, “Oh, I am very wretched and unfortunate. I am kritaghna, ungrateful, and don’t recognize the good qualities of anyone. For I have left my mistress and have come here.” He uttered this in such a pitiable manner that Krishna was both astonished and impressed. He at once took the parrot, who was Srimati Radhika’s own, in His hand and began to fondle him. “After Krishna’s manifest lila ended, by the order of Krishna, the parrot, to manifest Bhagavatam, remained in this world. Later, he entered into the mouth of Vyasadeva’s wife and remained for 16 years. This Sukadeva is ‘sriya suka,’ the suka of Srimati Radharani.” The first part of this story involving the parrot flying into the mouth of Vatika and taking shelter in her womb is confirmed in the Moksadharma Parva of Mahabharata, Brahma-vaivarta Purana and the Skanda Purana. Once Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura was asked by a noted pandita from Assam as to what was the origin of Sukadeva Goswami. Saraswati Thakura replied as follows: In the Puranas we find two conclusions regarding the appearance of Sukadeva. One story says that he took the form of Suka from the arani wood after Vyasa saw the naked apsara, Ghrtaci. The other story says that he was born from the womb of the wife of Vyasa. (Conversation with Sri Atmarama Shastri, Assam, October 25th 1928, The Gaudiya)


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These two very different accounts for an origin of Sukadeva can be understood according to different kalpas (kalpa-bheda). In one kalpa Sukadeva appeared from the arani wood and from another kalpa (our kalpa) he appeared from the womb of Vatika. This has also been collaborated by Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja as follows: When Mahadeva was talking about Krishna to his wife Durga (Parvati), then Durga-devi slept while attending the talk of Mahadeva. And one bird, suka-pakshi (parrot), he was hearing also, listening. And Mahadeva was regularly, now and then, asking Parvati, “Do you hear?” “Yes!” And the bird was continuing the answer, “Yes!” Though Durga slept, Mahadeva was continuing. But at last Siva found out that Durga was sleeping and the bird was answering – then he chased the bird and the bird went. Suddenly somehow he managed to enter within the womb of a woman (Vatika). And then, by any function (vidhata), he came out as a man. Suka was his name. (Conversation, July 10th 1982) Part two of the story, wherein the pet parrot of Radharani flew to Nandagrama and entered the kunja where Krishna was seated, is cited in the eighth stavaka of Ananda Vrindavana Champu by Sri Kavi Karnapura – a very sweet and charming narration. Part three of the story, however, wherein Krishna orders the parrot to remain in this world and manifest the Bhagavatam is not cited in any sastra or by any previous acharya. Part three, it seems, is a conjecture. In other words, there is no evidence in literature or in the commentaries of previous acharyas that Sukadeva Goswami in krishna-lila was the pet parrot of Radharani. In this regard we find a very interesting statement by Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Vyaso vetti na vetti va – whatever Krishna wants to do, that is done. Sukadeva was the great exponent of Bhagavatam, but it is not found that he is in the highest position of krishna-lila. What he is delivering through his mouth, through tongue - so many high things have been transmitted


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through his tongue, but he may not have his stand in that plane. We don’t find that Sukadeva has got his permanent position in Radha-Krishna’s lila, or in the madhurya-rasa as a particular sakhi also. But that which Sukadeva has given to us through his mouth, that is unfathomable…he is delivering – akuntha-medhasa. He is going on. These things were coming through him flowing in a natural way. What he has delivered through his nectarine tongue has no comparison in the world ever, anywhere. But still he is considered in that way – from the general position of his previous consideration (a brahmavadi). Jagama bhiksubhih sakam – after giving delivery to all these things, he went away along with the beggars to nowhere. He did not care to meet Vyasadeva, his father and guru, nor his father’s guru Narada, there in the meeting. He did not care for that. He chose to be unseen. He came from the unseen and entered into it untraceable, solitary life. But there was his guru, parama-guru – he did not care. Hare Krishna! So he was selected as some machine, loudspeaker…something like that. The inspiration came only to help – that Bhagavata is above Vedanta, above jnana. The jnanis and yogis formed the major portion of the audience, so Sukadeva was necessary. Suka-mukhad amrita-drava-samyutam. To the audience at large, it was proved that Bhagavata is more than this non-differentiatedness the nirvisesavada. Sukadeva was necessary. That must come from him, Then those fellows will have some regard. At least they won’t say, “Oh, we know all these things, from Padma Purana, from Brahma-vaivarta Purana, we have seen all those things – what is there more?” But when colored by the brahmajnana of Sukadeva Goswami it was received with rapt attention…he gave to Bhagavata their ears. (Conversation, August 20th 1982) In another conversation Srila Sridhara Maharaja goes into further detail on this topic: Sukadeva Goswami has given us so many things, even rasa-lila, Gopi-gita, Radharani’s vilapa, Krishna’s pastimes with His friends, vatsalya-rasa – but still he is generally not considered to be established in the highest position


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of the rasa world. For some purpose, that rasa was given through him, but that does not mean that he has entered there and he is established there. For the particular service and purpose of the Lord, through him it was given to the world. Just as pralapitavakya -– he does not know, though all these higher thoughts pass through him. He was a peon of those higher deliberations, but he himself has no permanent settlement in the highest quarter. We do not hear about that. He was utilized by Krishna to give it to the public for the facility of their conviction for such men who are sinners – who are Mayavadis and jnanis. Then he was again converted into krishna-lila. So krishna-lila must be above jnana. It is helpful practically – such a sinner is converted overnight. So to give these teachings to the world, to help the public and the necessity for the devotion and preaching facility, he has been utilized by the higher power. But he himself does not possess. We are told like that. Though many things were unknown to him, it has been delivered through him – vyaso vetti na vetti va. There is a saying that Vyasa has given everything, but he may not know the real purport. Devotee: But that verse says, aham vedmi suko vetti vyaso vetti na vetti va. It says that Suka knows! Now we are saying he does not know. Srila Sridhara Maharaja: That is from one plane. This is talk of Siva himself. But Siva’s knowledge is also limited. The knowledge of the author of this sloka – his realization is also limited. From his standpoint he says like so – aham vedmi, suko vetti vyaso vetti na vetti va. The higher knowledge can make the lower an instrument, to serve His purpose. Something like that. (Conversation, August 22nd 1981) From the above conversations it is clear that Srila Sridhara Maharaja says: 1) Sukadeva Goswami is not found to be in the highest position of krishna-lila. 2) That Sukadeva does not have his stand in that plane. 3) That we don’t find that Sukadeva has got his permanent position in RadhaKrishna’s lila.


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4) That Sukadeva came from the unseen and entered into it again. 5) That his delivery of Bhagavatam was as some machine, “a loudspeaker… something like that.” What Sridhara Maharaja has said about Sukadeva is so much deeper than what the shallow thinkers are able to appreciate. In other words, Sukadeva Goswami did not come down from Krishna-lila from a previous position as a parrot to speak Bhagavatam as some persons have suggested. Rather, Sukadeva’s previous position was that of Brahman realization and his ability to speak Bhagavatam was due to the causeless mercy of Krishna and nothing else. In Chapter 22 of Jaiva Dharma, Thakura Bhaktivinoda confirms that Sukadeva was the recipient of the causeless mercy of Krishna: The mercy of Krishna is of three types – vachika, alokadana and hardda. Instances where Krishna rewards all three types of mercy are found in the scriptures. In vachika, Krishna simply promises His devotee by word of mouth, and immediately that all-benedicting crest-jewel embodiment of divine bliss and transcendentally willful bhakti that seeks only Krishna to serve, awakens as bhava within his heart. An example of alokodana-kripa are the sages of Dandakaranya forest, who had never directly seen the Supreme Lord. But as soon as they beheld the Lord, their hearts were flooded with bhava and bhakti, simply by the mercy of the Lord. Bhava which spontaneously sprouts within the heart, as in the case of Srila Sukadeva Goswami, is due only to the causeless mercy of the Lord, or hardda-kripa. So the story of Sriya Suka seems to be a compendium of the actual story of the birth of Sukadeva, having first entered the womb of Vatika as a parrot, from the Puranas; then combined with a completely different story of Radha’s pet parrot from Ananda Vrindavana Campu and concluded with a ‘rasika’ style twist. Strangely enough, no one has been able to put forward any evidence, either sastrika or from previous acharyas, to prove that Sukadeva Goswami’s identity in krishna-lila was


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that of Radha’s pet parrot or that Sukadeva has any standing in krishna-lila. To the contrary, we found that in more than 75% of the cases where we approached the heads of various Sahajiya communities in Vrindavana for verification of the third part of the story, they replied that it was conjecture by someone trying to stand out as a rasika. This was strange indeed coming from the Sahajiyas. As it turns out, many members of today’s Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya (particularly among western branches) are the most prone to tell the story of “Sriya Suka/Radha’s Parrot” in their hari-katha. This is especially true among those who are sentimentalists and gate-crashers of the highest lila of Krishna. True and sad as it may be, such are the attempts of the ignorant spurred on by ignoble leaders claiming to be Vaishnavas of the highest order. Some persons have deviated even further and gone so far as to conjecture that Sukadeva Goswami was actually a manjari in krishna-lila, surpassing even the position of Radha’s parrot. But such conjectures are a shabby substitute for sastrika truth. Someone may ask, “What difference does it make even if some of the story is conjecture? It is still sweet anyway!” The answer is that such conjectures are bitter and distasteful like neem-boli (the fruit of the Neem tree) to those whose hearts are truly filled with the nectar of krishna-prema. Even a little conjecture of the truth spoils the whole thing. It becomes rasabhasa – rasa with artificial sweetener. Some contemporary Vaishnavas are so confused regarding higher and lower topics, that they prefer the devotion of Sukadeva over that of great personalities such as Prahlada Maharaja and Advaita Acharya, saying that such personalities cannot give Krishna-prema. They speak of krishna-prema as though it were a handout from the public welfare services and all one need do is just take it (take initiation from the rasika). This understanding is indeed pitiful. Such a mentality springs from the deepest ignorance born of “amara guru jagat-guru” and smacks of pigheadedness and false egotism. Mahaprabhu Himself became very angry when Srivasa Pandita tried to compare Advaita Acharya with Sukadeva. Mahaprabhu rebuked Srivasa with a slap and


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told him that Sukadeva was a mere infant compared to Advaita who had the deepest connection with caitanya-lila. The story appears in Chaitanyabhagavata, Antya-khanda 9.282-296 as follows: The Lord said, “O Srivasa, tell Me what type of Vaishnava do you think Advaita Prabhu is.” Srivasa Pandita thought for a while and finally said, “I consider Him to be similar to Sukadeva or Prahlada.” Upon hearing the comparison of Advaita with Prahlada and Sukadeva, the Lord became angry and hit Srivasa. Just as an affectionate father beats his son in order to teach him, similarly the Lord gave a slap to Srivasa. “What did you say? What did you say, Pandita Srivasa? You are comparing My Nada (Advaita) with Sukadeva or Prahlada! “You may claim that Sukadeva is fully liberated, but compared to Nada, he is like a child. “How dare you say such a thing about My Nada? O Srivasa, today you have put Me in great distress.” Saying this, the Lord in an angry mood grabbed a stick in His hand and ran after Srivasa to hit him. Sri Advaita Acharya then stood up and gently caught hold of the Lord’s hand. “O Lord, a father teaches his sons out of compassion. So who in the three worlds is a suitable candidate for Your anger?” “Hearing the words of Advaita Acharya, the Lord gave up His anger and in ecstasy began to profusely glorify Advaita.


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The Lord said, “Since all of you are just like My children, My anger has now dissipated. “Who can understand the glories of Nada? It was He who awakened Me from sleep and called Me here. The Lord said, “O Srivasa, is this how you show respect to My Nada? “Suka and others are like His children. You should know that they are all junior to Nada.” Our conclusion is as Srila Sridhara Maharaja and others have stated – that Sukadeva Goswami has no permanent position in krishna-lila and that he was empowered by the causeless mercy of Krishna to speak Srimad Bhagavatam. I am writing this essay on Sriya Suka to set the record straight because I too have told this conjectured story in the past as though it were true thru and thru. To err is human, but to admit one’s mistakes and to be rectified with the proper understanding is to make real advancement. To remain in ignorance – even if one thinks that such ignorance is bliss – is to continue on the path of doom!


VERSE 6 ajo’pi sannavyayatma bhutanam-ishvaro’pi san prakritim svam-adhishthaya sambhavamy-atmamayaya You should know that although I am the creator, controller and master of all that be and I appear to take birth, I am not actually born. I appear in this universe in every millennium in My original spiritual form and that form never deteriorates. VERSE 7 yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham O descendent of Bharata, whenever there is a decline in dharma and a rise of adharma, at that time I personally appear. VERSE 8 paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya ca dushkritam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge To protect the pious living beings and to put an end to malevolence, I appear in every age to establish dharma. VERSE 9 janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah tyaktva deham punar-janma naiti mameti so’rjuna One who understands My divine appearance and activities never takes birth again after giving up this material body. He comes to Me, O Arjuna.


Anuvritti To understand Sri Krishna’s appearance and activities is indeed to become situated beyond the cycle of birth and death. In material life all living beings are in a perpetual state of transmigration from one birth to the next. Only when one attains pure spiritual consciousness does this samsara, or transmigration, cease. Krishna tells Arjuna that both of them have passed through many births that Arjuna has forgotten, but Krishna remembers them all. Because the living beings change bodies at the time of death, they also forget their previous lives. Krishna is the Absolute Truth and thus He does not change His body or transmigrate to another body at any time. Because He does not undergo a change of body He does not forget. Krishna is non-different from His body, whereas living beings in material life are units of consciousness that are embodied by material elements. The bodies of all living beings in the material world are made of the basic elements


of earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence and false ego. Krishna is sat-chidananda – eternity, knowledge and bliss. Krishna’s body is also sat-chid-ananda, thus Krishna and Krishna’s body are non-different – transcendental spiritual substances. Sri Krishna not only remembers all His previous births, but He remembers all of Arjuna’s previous births also. This is the characteristic of the Absolute Truth who is fully omniscient. The knowledge of yoga being lost naturally results in a decline in dharma and a rise of adharma (false dharma). Malevolence arises out of adharma. When this occurs, Krishna says that He appears in the world to re-establish the principles of dharma. Dharma is understood as duties, activities and practices that will sustain the living beings in a state of prosperity and enable them to realize their constitutional position as conscious parts and parcels of the Absolute Truth, Krishna. As such, dharma should not be confused with the mundane religions of this world. In verse eight Krishna says that He appears in every age (yuge yuge) to establish the yuga-dharma. In Satya-yuga, Krishna appeared as Hamsa, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha and Narasimha avataras. In Treta-yuga, He appeared as Vamana, Parashurama and Ramachandra avataras. In Dvapara-yuga, He appeared as Sri Krishna and in Kaliyuga, He has appeared as Buddha and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There is one more avatara yet to appear at the end of Kali-yuga, some 427,000 years from now, and that is Kalki-avatara. When Krishna was speaking Bhagavad-gita, it was at the end of Dvapara-yuga – an age of considerable piety where open degradation such as clubs and establishments for the consumption of alcohol, illicit sex, political corruption, drug abuse and the organized slaughter of animals were completely unheard of. Now, five thousand years on, we are in the midst of the age known as Kali-yuga where the unheard of vices in Dvapara-yuga are the norm of the day. Similarly, as Krishna had appeared at the end of Dvapara-yuga, He again appeared after the first 4,576 years of Kali-yuga had passed as the avatara, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, also known as the Kali-yuga avatara, or the yugavatara. As the yugavatara,


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Krishna taught the dharma of nama-sankirtana, the chanting of the maha-mantra as not only the most important process of self-realization, but as the only recommended process of self-realization in Kaliyuga. Conclusively, the Brihan-Naradiya Purana says: harer-nama harer nama harer nama eva kevalam kalau nasty eva nastya eva nasty eva gatir anyatha In the age of Kali there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way except for the chanting of the names of Hari (Krishna).

Whatever results were gained in Satya-yuga by meditating upon Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing elaborate sacrifices and in Dvapara-yuga by Deity worship can be obtained in Kaliyuga simply by chanting the names of Krishna. (Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.52)

When the maha-mantra is chanted congregationally in a loud tone it is called kirtana or sankirtana. When the maha-mantra is chanted softly and the repetition is kept count of on a string of one hundred-and eight beads it is called japa. Since the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the sankirtana movement, many great and learned scholars, philosophers and yogis such as Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Prakashananda Saraswati have put aside other systems of yoga, Vedanta and philosophy in favor of becoming fully absorbed in the chanting of the holy names of Krishna. According to great self-realized personalities, the chanting of the mahamantra is the surest path to spiritual perfection in this age. Srimad Bhagavatam states as follows:

kaler dosha nidhe rajan asti hy eko mahan gunah kirtanad eva krishnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet Although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults where people are short-lived, slow in self-realization and always disturbed, still there is one great quality about this


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age – simply by chanting the name of Krishna, one can be delivered from material bondage and attain the supreme destination. (Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.51) krite yad dhyayato vishnum tretayam yajato makhaih dvapare paricharyayam kalau taddhari-kirtanat Whatever results were gained in Satya-yuga by meditating upon Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing elaborate sacrifices and in Dvapara-yuga by Deity worship can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the names of Krishna. (Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.52) The chanting of the maha-mantra advances one in self-realization because it purifies the heart of material influences and eliminates the false conceptions of life, thus terminating the cycle of birth and death. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has composed a verse wherein the benefits of sankirtana, chanting the maha-mantra, have been described as follows: cheto-darpana-marjanam bhava maha-davagni nirvapanam sreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri krishna-sankirtanam The holy name of Krishna cleanses the mirror of the heart and extinguishes the fire of misery in the forest of birth and death. Just as the evening lotus blooms in the moons cooling rays, the heart begins to blossom in the nectar of Krishna’s name. And at last the atma awakens to its real inner treasure – a life of love with Krishna. Again and again tasting nectar, the atma dives and surfaces in the ever-increasing ocean of ecstatic joy. All phases of the self of which we may conceive are fully satisfied and purified, and at last conquered by the all-auspicious influence of the holy name of Krishna. (Shikshashtaka 1) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught the chanting of the maha-mantra and a complete system of philosophy known as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva that has encompassed all the great philosophical systems of India that preceded Him, such as Shankara’s advaita,


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Vishnu Svami’s shuddhadvaita, Nimbarka’s dvaitadvaita, Ramanuja’s vishishthadvaita and Madhva’s dvaita. The achintya-bhedabheda-tattva philosophy is essentially the philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference in the Absolute Truth, culminating in prema-bhakti or divine love. As such, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has revealed the greatest philosophy of spiritual perfection in this world. To accompany the chanting of the maha-mantra the process of Deity worship that was prominent in Dvapara-yuga is still in vogue today. The Deity is the archa-vigraha representation of Sri Krishna that is manifest before the aspirant so that one can perform archana (worship) and fix the mind and senses on the form of the Supreme Person. When the authorized archa-vigraha is present, such worship should not be confused with the worship of lifeless and unauthorized idols. Current in the communities of bhakti-yoga are the worship of the archa-vigrahas of Sri Krishna such as Jagannatha, Pancha-tattva, Gaura-Nitai, Gaura-Gadadhara, Sri Narasimha and Sri Sri RadhaKrishna.

The Opulence

Bh a g ava



n the Vedas, Lord Vishnu is referred to as Bhagavan – He who possesses all strength, all beauty, all fame, all knowledge and all renunciation. Bhagavan also possesses all wealth and this became apparent recently in the case of the ancient AnantaPadmanabha Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The temple is famous as one of the Divya-desams (holy abodes of Vishnu) and its presiding Deity is Ananta-Padmanabha, the form of Vishnu who rests on the coils of Ananta-sesa. However, in June 2011, the temple’s fame became worldwide when the Indian Supreme Court ordered the archeological department to open and make an inventory of




mi B.V.Giri

items contained in six vaults beneath the temple. The investigators had no idea what to expect, and when they opened the first five vaults they were astounded. Piles of gold coins (both foreign and Indian), hundreds of gold chains, precious gems, crowns, thousands of ornaments, golden Deities and other treasures filled the chambers. By the time the team had completed their inventory of the first five vaults, they estimated that the trove was worth about 38 billion dollars. Up to this point it was believed that the Venkatesvara Balaji Temple in Tirupati was the richest temple in the world, but this latest discovery at the Ananta-Padmanabha Swami Temple challenges that. The existing temple dates back to the 8th Century when the royal family of Travancore


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began to patronized the shrine. They made major renovations and offered great amounts of wealth to the Deity of Ananta-Padmanabha. The kings of Travancore accept the title ‘Padmanabha Dasa’ (the servant of Padmanabha), considering that the Lord is the actual ruler of the kingdom and they are simply His servants. The great wealth found in the temple vaults is thought to have been offered to the Deity by their royal attendants over the centuries. However, since the opening of the vaults, the present king of Travancore, Maharaja Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma is not amused with the governments handling of the situation. As custodian of the temple, the king considers the treasure to be the sole property of Lord Padmanabha. To this end, the royal family approached astrologers prior to the opening of the sixth vault. The astrologers performed a deva-prasna – a ceremony that is performed to discover the will of the Deity Himself. Such rituals are generally done in order to determine any course of action related to temple activities. The four-day ritual began on August 18th 2012 and on the final day the conclusion of the astrologers was that government officials should not open the final chamber. They claimed that it was too close to the main altar of Lord Padmanabha and opening the vault would incur His displeasure. Despite the warnings, officials were not fazed and the sixth vault was opened at midday on July 27th 2012. Its door was purportedly made from a solid piece of seamless iron, sealed with a complicated locking system and embellished with the image of two intertwined cobras (naga-bandham), leading many to believe that the vault was sealed with a special mantra and that misfortune would befall whoever opened it.


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When the authorities finally entered the chamber, the first thing they set eyes on was a large solid gold Deity of Lord Padmanabha weighing about 35 kgs. All around the chamber there were chests full of gold ornaments, diamond necklaces silver artifacts and precious stones. Reportedly, one gem found in the vault was itself worth 50 crore (app. $9,000,000) While the royal family of Travancore and the devotees of Lord Padmanabha strongly feel that the treasure belongs to the Deity, some people argue that the government should take the treasure and use it for humanitarian purposes. However, in November 2012, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the first priority of the government would be to strengthen the first vault and shift the valuables back inside once a detailed inventory was completed. However, due to the sheer volume of treasure, it is predicted that the inventory will not be finished until June 2013. In regards to the officials who entered the sixth vault, so far no misfortunes have yet been reported. But one cannot help but wonder whether the decision of the Supreme Court was influenced by a desire to please the devotees of Padmanabha, or due to fear of arousing His disapproval. Either way, it is all for the good‌


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Swami 45

o r


F a c t ?


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deha-smrti nahi yara, samsara-kupa kahan tara taha haite na cahe uddhara viraha-samudra-jale, kama-timingile gile gopi-gane neha’ tara para The Gopis have fallen into a great ocean of separation and are being devoured by the Timingila fish of their ambition to serve You. The Gopis must be delivered from the mouths of these Timingila, for they are pure devotees. Since they have no material conception of life, why should they aspire for liberation? The Gopis do not want that liberation desired by yogis and jnanis, for they are already liberated from the ocean of material existence. (Cc. Madhya 13.142) The above verse is quoted from Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 13.142, wherein Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu equates the Gopis as having fallen into a great ocean and that they are being devoured by their ambition to serve Krishna. Mahaprabhu compares their ambition to the legendary Timingila fish. The Timingila fish is said to have lived in the oceans of this planet as the greatest predator ever known. This article is not about Krishna, the Gopis, or their intense desire to serve Him. This article is about the Timingila fish — myth or fact? (So if you were expecting to read something rasika you can stop reading here.) The Srimad Bhagavatam, Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Vedic literatures often speak of fantastic places and of creatures that may have once lived on this planet. One such creature was the Timingila fish. The Timingila is said to have been the most formidable predator in the oceans. It was enormous in size and its favorite food was said to have been whales. Whales are also very big creatures of the ocean, but unlike the Timingila, the whale has yet to become extinct. Some whales of our time reach up to 60 feet in length, like the Whale Shark of the Indian Ocean. The Whale Shark is actually a whale that physically resembles a shark but is not a predator. The Timingila, on the other hand, was a fierce predator and used to eat whales in one giant gulp! But did the Timingila actually exist on this planet or did it exist only in the poetic imagination of the writers of the Vedic literatures? Certainly many mundane scholars would have us think so.


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The etymology of the word ‘timingila’ is as follows: in Sanskrit ‘timi’ is the word for ‘whale’ and ‘gila’ means ‘to swallow’. Thus timingila literally means ‘to swallow a whale’ – not just to swallow, but to swallow in one huge bite! References to the Timingila fish of antiquity are to be found in numerous places. In Srimad Bhagavatam, Markandeya Rsi encounters the Timingila in his fantastic experience in the waters of devastation and survives the ordeal by the grace of the Supreme Lord. ksut-trit-parito makarais timingilair upadruto vichi-nabhasvatahatah tamasy apare patito bhraman diso na veda kham gam ca parisramesitah Suffering from hunger and thirst, attacked by Makaras and Timingila and battered by the waves and the wind, Markandeya wandered through the infinite gloom that enveloped him. Overcome by exhaustion, he lost all sense of direction and could not ascertain what was the sky and what was the earth. (Bhag. 12.9.16) In Ramayana the Timingila is mentioned as inhabiting the waters between Lord Rama and Lanka, the capitol of the demon king, Ravana. chandra udaye samadhutam pratichandra samakulam chanda anila mahagrahaih kirnam timi timimgilaih When the moon rose, the ocean surged and the image of the moon reflected unlimitedly in it. That ocean abounded with huge crocodiles that were as swift as fierce winds, as well as whales and Timingila. (Ramayana, Yuddhakanda 4.114)


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Similarly, Mahabharata mentions the Timingila as being deep within the ocean, along with other huge sea creatures. timingilah kacchapascha tatha timi timingilah makaraschatra drisyante jale magna ivadrayah There were seen Timingilas, tortoises, Timi-timingilas and Makaras, that were like great rocks submerged in the water. (Mahabharata, Vana Parva. 168.3) The Ayurvedic text of the 6th century BCE known as Susruta Samhita also lists the Timingila as being amongst the formidable species of marine life. timi-timingila-kulisa-pakamatsya-nirularu nandi-varalaka-makara-gargaraka-chandraka mahamina-rajiva prabhritya samudrah The Timi, Timingila, Kulisa, Paka-matsya, Nirularu, Nandi-Varalaka, Makara, Gargaraka, Chandraka, Maha-mina, and Rajiva etc., constitute the family of marine fish. (Susruta Samhita, Ch.45) Are these various accounts of the Timingila to be taken as factual or are they simply a part of fiction? The Makara is also mentioned in several of these verses and according to scholarly opinion the Makara, like the Timingila, is more or less a fantastical, mythical, fiction. However, in Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that of aquatics He is the Makara. pavanah pavatam asmi ramah sashtra-bhritam aham jhasanam makaras chasmi srotasam asmi jahnavi


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Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rama, of fishes I am the Makara [shark], and of flowing rivers I am the Ganga. (Gita 10:31) From the story of Markendeya we can deduce that the Makara was a predator or at least aggressive, since Markandeya was attacked by Makaras in the ocean. Temple art in India generally depicts the Makara as being a combination of several wonderful animals. Such renderings show the Makara as having the jaws of a crocodile, the trunk of an elephant, the tusks of a boar, the scales of a fish, the tail of a peacock and the eyes of a monkey. Although translators of the Bhagavad-gita usually render the word ‘Makara’ as shark, this is for simplicities sake and for the ease of the reader. If Krishna was simply comparing Himself to a common shark then He would have used the Sanskrit word for shark, namely graha, but He didn’t. Krishna Himself is certainly not ordinary and can only be compared to the most extensive and wonderful things within our experience, and yet He is even beyond that. The Makara, like the Timingila, is certainly something more wonderful than just a shark – something difficult for us to imagine in this day and age. If someone were to ask why Krishna compares Himself to a Makara rather than a Timingila, we would probably reply that the Makara is more wonderful than the Timingila in that it is a combination of many wonderful and beautiful creatures. So, are we to gather that in Bhagavad-gita, Krishna has compared Himself to a creature that does not exist, and if so, are we then to conclude that Krishna Himself does not exist? Should we also conclude that the wind, Rama and the Ganga are all fictional? After all, has anyone actually seen any physical evidence of one of these monsters of the deep blue? Well, in fact they have – meet the Megalodon! Early accounts of large triangular teeth found imbedded in rock cliffs first appeared in Europe during the Renaissance period, but were believed to be the petrified tongues of dragons and snakes. In 1667 a Danish naturalist, Nicolaus Steno, recognized these findings as ancient shark teeth. In 1835 a Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz, gave this


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mysterious creature the name by which it is known today, Megalodon — which in Greek means ‘big tooth’. Thought to easily reach 82 plus feet in length, weighing in at 70 plus metric tons, with teeth measuring 18 plus centimeters in length and capable of exerting a bite force of 40,131 pounds plus per square inch — the Megalodon is easily recognized as the greatest predator of all time. Fossil remains of the Megalodon, have been excavated from many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, South America, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Africa, Malta and India. Forensic studies of Megalodon fossils reveal that the predator was capable of eating anything in its path, but favored whale meat. According to scientific evidence it is estimated that the last of the Megalodons lived on this planet around 1.5 million years ago, give or take a few thousand. That is a long time ago, especially considering that the estimated age of the first human being was only 250,000 years ago. That would mean that the Megalodon became extinct 1,250,000 years before the first human being walked upright, spoke a coherent language, kept records or attempted to write anything. By comparison of the size, haunt, predator behavior and dietary habits, the Megalodon and the Timingila appear to be the same creature. But what is so amazing or interesting about that and what is our point? Our point is that western scholars assert that the Bhagavatam was only written in the 9th century CE, the Ramayana in the 4th century BCE, and the Mahabharata between the 8th and 4th centuries BCE.


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But if this were a fact, then how did the writers of these books know about an oceandwelling creature, its size, its vicious aggression and its diet that had been extinct for 1.5 million years? Bhagavatam, Ramayana and Mahabharata all mention the existence of the Timingila/Megalodon. Where did they get this information? When (by scientific estimation) human beings have only been on this planet since 1,250,000 years after the Megalodon/Timingila became extinct — who told them about these creatures? If there were no humans present on this planet between the period when the Megalodon/Timingila became extinct and 250,000 years ago, how could the writers of the Vedic texts have known such things? The scientist and scholar will have to answer this question, but for us it is simple — there have always been human beings on this planet from its very creation and the knowledge of all such things has been passed down thru the ages via the disciplic succession of gurus and disciples.


Sri Upadesamrta is a short, yet essential work by Srila Rupa Goswami. In this publication by Gosai Publishers, the timeless wisdom of this great acharya is presented along with the deep realizations of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. A powerful work for both the serious devotee or the beginner.

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Mystical Melukote Swami B.V. Giri



enerally most people consider Srirangam or Tirupati to be the most important centres of Sri Vaishnavism in South India. But mention the name of Melukote and, unless you are a follower of Ramanuja, you may never have heard of it. Yet Melukote is considered to be one of the most important holy places to Sri Vaishnavas; so much so that in his last instructions, Ramanuja told his followers that they should all endeavour to take up residence in Melukote. Thus, Sri Vaishnavas believe that the quintessence of all the divyadeshams (holy abodes of Vishnu) is to be found here. In the Kashi-mahatmya, Lord Shiva refers to Melukote as kshetra-raja –  the king of all holy places and it is also known in the Puranas as Dakshina Badari – the Southern Badarinatha. Melukote’s Ancient History Melukote is 32 miles from the city of Mysore in Karnataka and is situated 3,589 feet above sea level. The town’s origins go back to hoary antiquity and it is referred to by many names in the Puranas such as Narayanadri, Vedadri, Yadavagiri, Yadavadri, Yatishaila and Tirunarayanapuram. In the Matysa Purana it is said that Lord Narasimha came to Melukote after killing Hiranyakashipu and was requested by the Devas to stay there for a while to bless the people. In Treta-yuga it is said that Dattatreya taught the Vedas to his disciples here and also accepted tridandisannyasa at this place.


The Temple of Tirunarayana In Dvapara-yuga both Krishna and Balarama would come here with the Yadava Dynasty. The Matysa Purana tells how after Jarasandha was defeated seventeen times, Krishna wanted to spend some time in a quiet place and decided to come to Melukote. In ancient times Melukote was also home to many great sages such as Prahlada, Shandilya, Ambarisha, Maitreya, Vishnu-chitta and Sanata-kumara. The Temple of Tirunarayana There are two main temples in Melukote – the temple of Tirunarayana and the temple of Yoga-Narasimha. The temple of Tirunarayana is situated at the end of the town. The temple complex is square and dates back to about 1000 years, although there is


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reason to believe that an older shrine existed here much earlier. The main Deity in the temple is Tirunarayana. He stands six-feet high holding conch, disc-weapon and club in three hands. His bottom right hand is lifted in abhaya-mudra – the sign of benediction for all His devotees. The Puranas narrate how Brahma propitiated Lord Narayana and requested Him to provide him a Deity for his personal worship. Narayana manifested the Deity of Tirunarayana and Brahma worshipped Him regularly. Brahma later gifted this Deity to his son, Sanat-kumara who had a strong desire to worship Tirunarayana. Later, Sanat-kumara installed Tirunarayana in Melukote.


However, over time and as Kali-yuga progressed, Melukote fell into ruin, the temple was lost and the Deity of Tirunarayana was buried in the earth. When Ramanuja came to Melukote in 1099, he had a dream in which the Lord told him to uncover Him from the ground. Aided by his disciple King Vishnu-vardhana, Ramanuja discovered the Deity installed Him and reestablished His worship in what is now the present temple.

Although the main Deity was established, Ramanuja also wanted an utsava-murti (processional Deity) in the temple. Previously the temple had an utsava-murti named Rama-priya, but the Muslims had stolen it when they had pillaged Melukote many years before and taken it to Delhi. Ramanuja and his followers journeyed to Delhi, approached the Sultan and requested him to hand over Rama-priya. The sultan was impressed with Ramanuja’s personality and knowledge and proceeded to show him many Deities that he had stolen during his raids into South India. Yet Ramanuja


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was not interested – he specifically wanted Rama-priya and went on to describe the Deity to the sultan. The sultan replied that this Deity was in his daughter’s quarters and she was very attached to Him. The sultan joked with Ramanuja and said, “Call your God and if He comes out, you can take Him!” In a loud voice, Ramanuja called out, “Rama-priya! Come to me!” Immediately, from the room of the princess, the Deity came running out and jumped onto the lap of Ramanuja. The sultan kept his promise and Ramanuja took the Deity back to Rama-Priya Melukote. But knowing how much the sultan loved his daughter and how much she was attached to Rama-priya, Ramanuja knew that the sultan would send soldiers to bring back Rama-priya. Thus, Ramanuja and his disciples kept off the main roads and did not stop anywhere. Just as Ramanuja has anticipated, the sultan and the princess along with his soldiers tried to catch up with Ramanuja, but when they came to the borders of a rival king, the sultan and his infantry were forced to turn back. His daughter however continued alone and finally arrived in Melukote. When she came to the temple she was forbidden entrance by the priests due to her Muslim birth. Ramanuja however, understood her devotion to Rama-priya and allowed her access. When she entered the shrine the doors closed by themselves and she merged into the Deity of Rama-priya. Ramanuja had a small deity of the princess installed at the feet of Rama-priya. The deity of the princess is called Bibi Nacciyar However, the story of Rama-priya again goes back to the time of Brahma. After gifting Sanat-kumara the Deity of Tirunarayana, Brahma once again approached the Lord for a Deity. This time the Lord manifested a Deity from His own heart. This metallic Deity was called Cheluva-Narayana (‘Beautiful Narayana’). He was smaller than Tirunarayana and was accompanied by His consorts Bhu-devi and Sri-devi. In Treta-yuga, Lord Ramachandra gave away all his possessions to those who helped Him defeat Ravana. Rama gave Vibhishana His worshippable Deity of Ranganatha


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and so He had no Deity to worship. In order to facilitate Him, Brahma donated Cheluva-Narayana to Lord Rama. Rama was very attached to the worship of these Deities and so Cheluva-Narayana become known as Rama-priya (‘He who is very dear to Rama’). Rama’s son Kusha inherited Rama-priya and gave Him to his daughter Kanaka-malini when she married into the Yadava Dynasty. Rama-priya finally came into the possession of Krishna and Balarama in Dvapara-yuga.

The Yoga-Narasimha Temple

When Balarama was performing pilgrimage during the Kurukshetra War, He came to Melukote and was struck by the beauty of Tirunarayana. When He returned to Dvaraka, He told Krishna about the beauty of Tirunarayana and declared that the Deity was identical to Rama-priya. Krishna wanted to see for Himself and so the two brothers travelled south to Melukote with Rama-priya. When They arrived, Krishna agreed that the two Deities were exactly the same and both Krishna and Balarama decided to leave Rama-priya in Melukote as the utsava-murti for Tirunarayana. From then on, members of the Yadu Dynasty would come to Melukote to worship Rama-priya. Thus Melukote became known as Yadava-giri – the mountain resort of the Yadavas.

The Yoga-Narasimha Temple As one gets close to Melukote, one cannot fail to notice the shape of the gopuram of the Yoga-Narasimha Temple atop of the highest hill in the town. Typical of many South Indian temples, in order to get to this shrine, one has to climb a steep hill. The 360 weathered granite steps leading up to the temple are flanked either side by plumaria trees inhabited by Rhesus monkeys.


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Prahlada’s Cave

The Tenth Chapter of the Naradiya Purana narrates how Prahlada came to Melukote in order to meet Vishnu-chitta, a great ascetic who had rejected all sorts of boons that the Devas had tried to tempt him with. They both stayed here for some time and the Lord eventually appeared to Prahlada in a self-manifest Deity form of Yoga-Narasimha which Prahlada installed on the hilltop. The cave where the Deity of Yoga-Narasimha is said to have manifest is below the temple and if one wishes to see it, one can ask one of the priests.When the Lord takes the form of Yoga-Narasimha, He sits in the utkutikaasana wearing a yoga-patta – a belt encircling His back and legs and tied in a tight knot. His two upper hands hold sankha and chakra and his lower hands rest on his knees. In this form the Lord is in a meditative, benign mood. He is seated in yogic posture, instructing His devotees that they should perform yoga in order to attain Him.


There is a local story that when the ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali, was passing through Melukote with his army, his war-elephants suddenly became seriously ill. Some of the Hindus in his retinue suggested that if he prayed to Yoga-Narasimha, the elephants would be cured. Accordingly, Hyder Ali prayed to the Deity and soon after the elephants were back to normal. To show


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his gratitude, Hyder Ali gifted a large leather drum to the temple. Since that time, this drum is sounded everyday when the Deity is offered naivedya (food-offerings). Ramanuja in Melukote The great Vaishnava saint Ramanuja came to Melukote in 1099 when he fled from Tamil Nadu due to the persecution of the Shaivite King Kulothunga Chola. When he arrived he was in disguise, dressed not as a sannyasi, but as a householder, lest the spies of Kulothunga discover him. Safe under the royal patronage of his disciple King Vishnu-vardhana, Ramanuja donned the robes of a sannyasi again and continued to teach his philosophy of Visisthadvaita (qualified non-dualism). When Ramanuja arrived in Melukote it was a shadow of its former glory. It was a temple-town, but the temples were in disrepair and the brahmanas were eking out a living doing other professions. Ramanuja’s presence in Melukote helped to revitalize the town. He reestablished the original Deities, built new temples, trained priests, established festivals and employed people of all castes in temple activities. Ramanuja’s organization and management breathed new life into Melukote. Ramanuja spent twelve years in Melukote and before leaving the residents requested if they could make a deity of Ramanuja. This is one of three deities made of Ramanuja during his lifetime, the others being in Sriperumbudur (his birthplace) and Sri Rangam. At the end of his life, Ramanuja called his followers around him and told them: kutim kritva tasmin yadu-giri-tate nitya-vasatih “You should build a cottage on the outskirts of Yadu-giri (Melukote) and always reside there!” Ramanuja also composed the following shloka to emphasise the importance of Melukote to his followers: sri-ranga mangala-manim karuna-nivasam sri-venkatadri shikharalaya kalamegham sri-hasti-shaila shikharojvala parijatam srisham namami shirasa yadu-shaila dipam


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The Lord of Sri Rangam is like an auspicious gem and is the abode of all compassion. The Lord of the hills of Venkata is as resplendent as a dark raincloud. The Lord of Sri Hasti shines like the parijata flower. The Lord of Yadu-shaila is the Lord of Goddess Sri and a beacon of light. Other Places of Interest in Melukote

At the foot of the Yoga-Narasimha Temple one can find the Kalyani Tirtham – a large tank which, according to the Puranas, was formed from a drop of sweat of Varaha when He carried the presiding deity of the earth, Bhu-devi. It is also stated that the holy River Ganga comes to reside in the Kalyani during the month of Phalguna (February-march).

Around Melukote there are more than sixty holy kundas, each one with a story attached to it. The most famous are the eight Asta-tirthas. During the month of Karttika, devotees go on procession to these eight kundas with the shoes of the Deity. At each kunda, the priests immerse the shoes into the water amidst the recitation of Vedic hymns and the devotees follow suit by jumping into the waters to get the blessings of the Lord.

Kalyani Tirtham

There are also seven kshetras (holy places) within the vicinity of Melukote –Paridhanashila Kshetra, Yoga-Narasimha Kshetra, Jnanashvata Kshetra, Tarkshya Kshetra, Nayana Kshetra, Varaha Kshetra and Sita-Aranya Kshetra. Festivals in Melukote There is a festival almost every month in Melukote and they are all celebrated in a grand fashion. For sake of brevity we will name only a few of the major festivals – Kotharotsva – This festival is held in January and runs for ten days. Rama-priya is taken procession through the streets and stops at every doorstep, every day to receive offerings of flowers.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Vairamudi – This is the most famous festival in Melukote and it draws almost 400,000 people to this small town every year. It is held between February and April. Rama-priya is taken on procession and adorned with the vaira-mudi – a diamond studded crown. Legend has it that while He slept in His abode the crown was stolen from Narayana by the demon Virochana, the son of Prahlada. Garuda went to retrieve the crown and fought with Virochana until he finally recovered it. On his way, Garuda saw young Krishna playing with His friends in Vrndavana. Because it was midday and the sun was very hot, Garuda protected Krishna with his wings and placed the crown on Krishna’s head. The residents of Melukote claim that Krishna later presented Rama-priya with this same crown. Punarvasu Utsava –  This festival, celebrated in June commemorates the arrival of Ramanuja in Melukote. Because Ramanuja was in disguise and wearing white cloth, the deity of Ramanuja is dressed in white on that day. A visit to Melukote is a wonderful experience. It is a town steeped in history, tradition and culture, surrounded by grand vistas and beautiful flora and fauna. And for those who are devotionally inclined it is a mystical experience never to be forgotten.



The beauty, culture and people of the ancient Vaishnava town of Melukote are wonderfully captured through the lens of our staff photographer Nila Newsom.












sanskrit The Language of Enlightenment Vyaas Houston M.A.

Sanskrit and the Technological Age The extraordinary thing about Sanskrit is that it offers direct accessibility to anyone to that elevated plane where the two – mathematics and music, brain and heart, analytical and intuitive, scientific and spiritual – become one. By Vyaas Houston M.A.


hitehead’s Modes of Thought speaks highly of language: “...The mentality of mankind and the language of mankind created each other. If we like to assume the rise of language as a given fact, then it is not going too far to say that the souls of men are the gift from language to mankind. The account of the sixth day should be written: ‘He gave them speech, and they became souls.” But Whitehead’s words are somewhat ambiguous, and may have created in readers as many different responses as there are readers. One may perceive his statement as a noble and inspiring truth. Another may react to the notion that a ‘soul’ could depend on language. Still another may be completely in the dark about what Whitehead is saying.


The quote will actually take on meaning according to context, and the context is largely determined by the meanings we attribute to words. This is especially so in this quote for the word “soul.” According to Webster, “soul” can mean “the immortal part of a human being,” or “the seat of emotional sentiment and aspiration,” or simply “a human being.” In addition to or apart from these definitions, each of us may bring our own religious or philosophical beliefs or experiences into the context, but the point is this: wherever we go in our interpretation of Whitehead, we use language. So the question arises, “Where does the soul exist other than in language?” We have greatly underestimated the sacred power of language. When the power of language to create and discover life is recognized, language becomes sacred; in ancient times, language was held in this regard. Nowhere was this more so than in ancient India. It is evident that the ancient scientists of language were acutely aware of the function of language as a tool for exploring and understanding life, and their intention to discover truth was so consuming that in the process of using language with greater and greater rigor, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fullfulling such a search that the world has ever known—the Sanskrit language. This, along with the example of Whitehead’s quote, points out what is perhaps the most important distinction we can make in the fulfillment of our lives: either language uses us or we use language. Either we think that Whitehead is right or wrong based on what our already-established definition of “soul” is, or we discover the relation of his use of words to our own use of words, which opens the doors to the possibility of seeing something that lies beyond both. Only in the latter do we actually communicate, free from the domination of unconscious memory dictating meaning. Of all the discoveries that have occurred and developed in the course of human history, language is the most significant and probably the most taken for granted. Without language, civilization could obviously not exist. On the other hand, to the degree that language becomes sophisticated and accurate in describing the subtlety and complexity of human life, we gain power and effectiveness in meeting its challenges. The access to modern technology, designed to give ease, efficiency, and enjoyment in meeting our daily needs, did not exist at the beginning of the century. It was made possible by accelerated advancement in the field of mathematics, a “language” which


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

has helped us to discover the interrelationship of energy and matter with a high degree of precision. The resulting technology is evidence of the tremendous power that is unleashed simply by being able to make the finer and finer distinction that a language like mathematics affords. At the same time, humankind has fallen far behind the advancements in technology. The precarious state of political and ecological imbalance that we are now experiencing is an obvious sign of the power of technology far exceeding the power of human beings to be in control of it. It could easily be argued that we have fallen far behind the advancements in technology simply because the languages we use for daily communication do not help us to make the distinctions required to be in balance with the technology that has taken over our lives. Relevant to this, there has recently been an astounding discovery made at the NASA research center. The following quote is from an article which appeared in AI (Artificial Intelligence) magazine in spring of 1985, written by NASA researcher Rick Briggs: “In the past twenty years, much time, effort, and money has been expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural languages to make them accessible to computer processing. These efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel logical relations with relations expressed by the syntax and semantics of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data. Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages are unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor. But this dichotomy, which has served as a premise underlying much work in the areas of linguistics and artificial intelligence, is a false one. There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an artificial language


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

also, and that much work in AI has been reinventing a wheel millennia old.” This article by NASA scientist Rick Briggs also appears in this issue of Gaudiya Touchstone. This discovery is of monumental significance. It is mind-boggling to consider that we have available to us a language which has been spoken for at least 3000 years that appears to be in every respect a perfect language designed for enlightened communication. But the most stunning aspect of the discovery is this: NASA, the most advanced research center in the world for cutting-edge technology, has discovered that Sanskrit, the world’s oldest spiritual language, is the only unambiguous spoken language on the planet. In early AI research it was discovered that in order to clear up the inherent ambiguity of natural languages for computer comprehension, it was necessary to utilize semantic net systems to encode the actual meaning of a sentence. Briggs gives the example of how a simple sentence would be represented in a semantic net. He further comments, “The degree to which a semantic net (or any unambiguous non-syntactic representation) is cumbersome and odd-sounding in a natural language is the degree to which that language is ‘natural’ and deviates from the precise or ‘artificial.’ As we shall see, there was a language (Sanskrit) spoken among an ancient scientific community that has a deviation of zero.”


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Considering Sanskrit’s status as a spiritual language, a further implication of this discovery is that the age-old dichotomy between religion and science is an entirely unjustified one. It is also relevant to note that in the last decade, physicists have begun to comment on the striking similarities between their own discoveries and the discoveries made thousands of years ago in India which went on to form the basis of most Eastern religions. Considering the high level of collaboration required in uncovering the nature of energy and matter, it is inconceivable that it ever could have taken place without a common language, namely mathematics. This is a perfect example of using a language for discovering and designing life. The language of mathematics, being inherently unambiguous, minimizes personal interpretation and therefore maximizes opportunity for exploration and discovery. The result of this is a worldwide community of scientists working together with extraordinary vitality and excitement about uncovering the unknown.

Sanskrit is the most ancient of all languages. From its sisters, Latin and Greek, most of the modern European languages have been derived. Sanskrit use can be traced as far back as before the first millennia B.C.

It can also be inferred that the discoveries that occurred in India in the first millennia B.C. were also the result of collaboration and inquiry by a community of spiritual scientists utilizing a common scientific language, Sanskrit. The truth of this is further accented by the fact that throughout the history and development of Indian thought, the science of grammar and linguistics was attributed a status equal to that


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

of mathematics in the context of modern scientific investigation. In deference to the thoroughness and depth with which the ancient grammatical scientists established the science of language, modern linguistic researchers in Russia have concluded about Sanskrit, “The time has come to continue the tradition of the ancient grammarians on the basis of the modern ideas in general linguistics.” Sanskrit is the most ancient of all languages. From its sisters, Latin and Greek, most of the modern European languages have been derived. Sanskrit use can be traced as far back as before the first millennia B.C.; the only preserved language to which Sanskrit was originally related is Vedic. The oldest extant example of the literature of the Vedic period is the Rig-Veda. Being strictly in verse, the Rig-Veda does not give us a record of the contemporary spoken language. Still it is believed that the Vedic culture coexisted with Sanskrit originally as a living language. The term “Vedic Sanskrit” is more appropriate to later Vedic prose which exhibits features that imply the influence of Sanskrit. The very name “Sanskrit” meant “language brought to formal perfection” in contrast to the common languages, or “natural” languages (Prakrita). Although there existed an older form of Sanskrit utilized in epic literature—namely the Ramayana and Mahabharata—which was slightly less strict in its grammatical codification, the form of Sanskrit which has been used for the last 2500 years is known today as classical Sanskrit. The norms of classical Sanskrit were established by the ancient grammarians. Although no records are available of their work, their efforts reached a climax in the fifth or fourth century B.C. in the great grammatical treatise of Panini, which became the standard for correct speech with such comprehensive authority that it has remained so with little alteration until present times. Based on what the grammarians themselves have stated, we may conclude that the Sanskrit grammar was an attempt to discipline and explain a spoken language. The NASA article corroborates this in saying that Indian grammatical analysis “probably has to do with an age-old


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

Indo-Aryan preoccupation to discover the nature of reality behind the impressions we human beings receive through the operation of our senses.” Until 1100 A.D., Sanskrit was without interruption the official language of the whole of India. The dominance of Sanskrit is indicated by a wealth of literature of widely diverse genres including religious, philosophical, fiction (short stories, fables, novels, and plays); scientific (linguistics, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine), as well as law and politics. From the time of the Muslim invasions onwards, Sanskrit gradually became displaced by common languages patronized by the Muslim kings as a tactic to suppress Indian cultural and religious tradition and supplant it with their own beliefs. But they could not eliminate the literary and spiritual/ritual use of Sanskrit. Even today in India, there is a strong movement to return Sanskrit to the status of “the national language of India.” Sanskrit, being a language derived from simple monosyllabic verbal roots through the addition of appropriate prefixes and suffixes according to precise grammatical laws, has an infinite capacity to grow, adapt, and expand according to the requirements of change in a rapidly evolving world. Even in the last two centuries, due to the rapid advances in technology and science, a literature abundant with new and improvised vocabulary has come into existence. Although such additions are based on the grammatical principles of Sanskrit, and mostly composed of Sanskrit roots, still contributions from Hindi and other national and international languages have been assimilated. For example, the word for television, duradarshanam, meaning “that which provides a ‘vision’ of what is far away” is derived purely from Sanskrit; whereas the word for motorcar, motaryanam, borrows from the English. Furthermore, there are at least a dozen periodicals published in Sanskrit, all-India news broadcast in Sanskrit, television shows and feature movies produced in Sanskrit, one village of 3000 inhabitants who communicate through Sanskrit alone (not to


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mention countless smaller intellectual communities throughout India), and schools where Sanskrit is fostered. “Contemporary Sanskrit� is alive and well. Although the Muslim invasion seems to be the ostensible historical cause of the decline of Sanskrit as the lingua franca of India from 1100 A.D., it seems important in the context of this article to consider some other possibilities. By the great body of philosophical, religious, literary, scientific, and linguistic knowledge that was held by succeeding generations with increasing reverence, the qualifications for being a learned man became more and more consuming, especially considering the great emphasis in Indian culture on the memorization of entire texts. This fact could easily have contributed to the decline of Sanskrit as a language tool for the discovery of the nature of reality, which was the real source of its own perfecting. Apart from historical contexts there is one obvious explanation for Sanskrit’s decrease in popular use. Its function gradually became more and more mechanical as its practice increasingly served the purpose of only reviewing the discoveries of the past. When the esteem for knowledge as the mastery of what had already been learned was replaced by the thirst for new discovery, the widespread usage of Sanskrit declined. At the same time, this need not imply any detraction from the value and inspiration derived from a thorough knowledge of the great works of antiquity; it only helps to explain the decline of Sanskrit as a living language. But the striking lesson to be learned from the example of Sanskrit may be well worth the 2000 years it has taken. The attempt to recapture the truths discovered by the ancient Sanskrit explorers by the mere repetitions of their formulas actually may have destroyed the spirit of investigation and ended up dulling the language instrument. If this were not so, there is no imaginable reason for the discontinuation of such a perfect language as the lingua franca of India or its utilization by other civilizations throughout the world. The benefits which a language like mathematics affords in scientific investigation, or even English in economic advancement, are today sought from every corner of the globe. Therefore the consideration of what might bring Sanskrit to life as possibly the most valuable tool we have for optimum global communication and spiritual unity requires that we learn from the miscalculations of the past. The linguistic perfection of Sanskrit offers only a partial explanation for its sustained presence in the world for at least 3000 years. High precision in and of itself is of


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

limited scope; like mathematics, it generally excites the brain, but not the heart. Like music, however, Sanskrit has the power to uplift the heart. It’s conceivable that for a few rare and inspired geniuses, mathematics can reach the point of becoming music or music, mathematics. The extraordinary thing about Sanskrit is that it offers direct accessibility to anyone to that elevated plane where the two—mathematics and music, brain and heart, analytical and intuitive, scientific and spiritual—become one. Great discoveries occur, whether through mathematics or music or Sanskrit, not by the calculations or manipulations of the human mind, but where the living language is expressed and heard in a state of joy and communion with the natural laws of existence. Generating clarity and inspiration, the Sanskrit language is directly responsible for a brilliance of creative expression such as the world has rarely seen. No one has expressed this more eloquently than Sri Aurobindo, the twentieth-century poet-philosopher: “The ancient and classical creations of the Sanskrit tongue both in quality and in body and abundance of excellence, in their potent originality and force and beauty, in their substance and art and structure, in grandeur and justice and charm of speech, and in the height and width of the reach of their spirit, stand very evidently in the front rank among the world’s great literatures. The language itself, as has been universally recognized by those competent to form a judgement, is one of the most magnificent, most perfect, and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human mind, at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly-formed, and full and vibrant and subtle. Its quality and character would itself be sufficient evidence of the character and quality of the race whose mind it expressed — the culture for which it was the reflecting medium.” Sanskrit is the language of mantra—words of power that are subtly attuned to the unseen harmonies of the matrix of creation, the world as yet unformed. In Sanskrit, vak (speech), the “word” of Genesis, incorporates both the sense of voice and word. It has four forms of expression. The first, para, represents cosmic ideation arising from absolute divine presence. The second, pasyanti (seeing), is vak as subject, seeing which creates the object of madhyama-vak, the third and subtle form of speech before it manifests as vaikhari-vak, the gross production of letters in spoken speech.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

This implies the possibility of having speech oriented to a direct living truth which transcends individual preoccupation with the limited information available through the senses. Spoken words as such are creative living things of power. They penetrate to the essence of what they describe, and give birth to meaning which reflects the profound interrelatedness of life. Although it is a tantalizing proposition to consider speaking a language whose sounds are so pure and euphonically combined, the basic attitude towards learning Sanskrit in India today is “It’s too difficult.” Actually Sanskrit is not difficult, and there are few greater enjoyments than learning it. The first stage of learning Sanskrit is to experience the individual power of each of the 49 basic sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet. This is pure discovery, especially for Westerners who have never paid attention to the unique distinctions of individual letters such as location of resonance and position of the tongue. It is arranged on a thoroughly scientific method, the simple vowels (short and long) coming first, then the diphthongs, followed by the consonants in uniform groups according to the way in which they are pronounced. The unique organization of the Sanskrit alphabet serves to focus one’s attention on qualities and patterns of articulated sound in a way that occurs in no other language. By paying continuous attention to the point of location, degree of resonance, and effort of breath, one’s awareness becomes more and more consumed by the direct experience of articulated sound. This in itself produces an unprecedented clarity of mind and revelry in the joy of language, as every combination of sound in Sanskrit follows strict laws which essentially make possible an uninterrupted flow of the most perfect euphonic blending of letters into words and verse. The script used to depict written Sanskrit is known as devanagari or the “city of the gods.” The phonetic accuracy of devanagari compares well with that of the modern phonetic transcriptions. Once the alphabet is learned, there is just one major step to take in gaining access to the Sanskrit language: learning the case and tense endings. The endings are what make Sanskrit a language of mathematic-like precision. By the endings added onto nouns or verbs, there is an obvious determination of the precise interrelationship of words describing the activity of persons and things in time and space, regardless of word order. Essentially, the endings constitute the “software” of the basic program of the Sanskrit language, and once a pattern has been noted, it is a


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

simple exercise to recognize all the individual instances that fit the pattern rather than see the pattern after all the individual instances have been learned. Learning the case endings through the chanting of basic pure sound combinations in musical and rhythmic sequences is a perfect way to overcome learning inhibitions, attune to the root power of the Sanskrit language, and access the natural computerlike efficiency, speed, and clarity of the mind. What may be the greatest immediate benefit of learning Sanskrit by this method is that it requires participants to relinquish control, abandon prior learning structures, and come into a direct experience of the language. But one thing is certain — Sanskrit will only become the planetary language when it is taught in a way which is exciting and enjoyable. Perhaps the greatest hope for the return of Sanskrit lies in computers. The precision play of Sanskrit with computer tools could awaken the capacity in human beings to utilize their innate higher mental faculty with a momentum that could inevitably transform the world. In fact the mere learning of Sanskrit by large numbers of people in itself would represent a quantum leap in consciousness, not to mention the rich endowment it would provide in the arena of future communication. Vyaas Houston has been a student of Sri Brahmananda Saraswati, learning Sanskrit and practicing spiritual life for 17 years. He also has an M. A. degree in Sanskrit from Columbia University. He teaches Sanskrit from Columbia University. He teaches a Sanskrit correspondence course, and personally offers “immersion� weekend sessions throughout the U.S., demonstrating his unique approach to learning the language. For information call or write: 73 Four Corners Rd., Warwick NY 10990, (914) 986-8652.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

References 1. The Mother on Sanskrit by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, India. 2. A History of Sanskrit Literature by Arthur A. MacDonnell, M.A., Ph.D., Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1962. 3. A Short History of Sanskrit Literature by H. R. Aggarwal, M.A., P.E.S., R.D.E., Munshi Ram Manohar Lal, Delhi, 1963. 4. A Companion to Contemporary Sanskrit by Hajime Nakamura, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1973. 5. Sanskrit by V. V. Ivanov and V. N. Toporov, Nauka Publishing House, Moscow, 1968.


Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence - NASA RIACS, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, California 94305 Rick


Abstract In the past twenty years, much time, effort, and money has been expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural languages to make them accessible to computer processing These efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel logical relations with relations expressed by the syntax and semantics of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data. Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages arc unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor. But this dichotomy, which has served as a premise underlying much work in the areas of linguistics and artificial intelligence, is a false one. There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist


with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an artificial language also, and that much work in AI has been reinventing a wheel millennia old. First, a typical Knowledge Representation Scheme (using Semantic Nets) will be laid out, followed by an outline of the method used by the ancient Indian Grammarians to analyze sentences unambiguously. Finally, the clear parallelism between the two will be demonstrated, and the theoretical implications of this equivalence will be given. Semantic Nets For the sake of comparison, a brief overview of semantic nets will be given, and examples will be included that will be compared to the Indian approach. After early attempts at machine translation (which were based to a large extent on simple dictionary look-up) failed in their effort to teach a computer to understand natural language, work in AI turned to Knowledge Representation. Since translation is not simply a map from lexical item to lexical item, and since ambiguity is inherent in a large number of utterances, some means is required to encode what the actual meaning of a sentence is. Clearly, there must be a representation of meaning independent of words used. Another problem is the interference of syntax. In some sentences (for example active/passive) syntax is, for all intents and purposes, independent of meaning. Here one would like to eliminate considerations of syntax. In other sentences the syntax contributes to the meaning and here one wishes to extract it.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

I will consider a “prototypical” semantic net system similar to that of Lindsay, Norman, and Rumelhart in the hopes that it is fairly representative of basic semantic net theory. Taking a simple example first, one would represent “John gave the ball to Mary” as in Figure 1. Here five nodes connected by four labeled arcs capture the entire meaning of the sentence. This information can be stored as a series of “triples”: give, agent, John give, object, ball give, recipient, Mary give, time, past. Note that grammatical information has been transformed into an arc and a node (past tense). A more complicated example will illustrate embedded sentences and changes of state: John Mary book past “John told Mary that the train moved out of the station at 3 o’clock.” Figure 2. As shown in Figure 2, there was a change in state in which the train moved to some unspecified location from the station. It went to the former at 3:00 and from the latter at 3:00. Now one can routinely convert the net to triples as before. The verb is given central significance in this scheme and is considered the focus and distinguishing aspect of the sentence. However, there are other sentence types which differ fundamentally from the above examples. Figure 3 illustrates a sentence that is one of “state” rather than of “event.” Other nets could represent statements of time, location or more complicated structures.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

A verb, say, “give,” has been taken as primitive, but what is the meaning of “give” itself? Is it only definable in terms of the structure it generates? Clearly two verbs can generate the same structure. One can take a set-theoretic approach and see a particular gift as an element of “giving events” — a subset of ALL-EVENTS. An example of this approach is given in Figure 4 (“John, a programmer living at Maple St., gives a book to Mary, who is a lawyer”). If one were to “read” this semantic net, one would have a very long text of awkward English: “There is a John” who is an element of the “Persons” set and who is the person who lives at ADRI, where ADRI is a subset of ADDRESS-EVENTS, itself a subset of ‘ALL EVENTS’, and has location ‘37 Maple St.‘, an element of Addresses; and who is a “worker” of ‘occupation 1’. . .etc.” The degree to which a semantic net (or any unambiguous, non-syntactic representation) is cumbersome and odd-sounding in a natural language is the degree to which that language is “natural” and deviates from the precise or “artificial.” As we shall see, there was a language spoken among an ancient scientific community that has a deviation of zero. The hierarchical structure of the above net and the explicit descriptions of set-relations are essential to really capture the meaning of the sentence and to facilitate inference. It


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

is believed by most in the AI and general linguistic community that natural languages do not make such seemingly trivial hierarchies explicit. Below is a description of a natural language, Shastric Sanskrit, where for the past millennia successful attempts have been made to encode such information. Shastric Sanskrit The sentence: (1) “Caitra goes to the village.” (graamam gacchati caitra) receives in the analysis given by an eighteenthcentury Sanskrit Grammarian from Maharashtra, India, the following paraphrase: (2) “There is an activity which leads to a connection-activity which has as Agent no one other than Caitra, specified by singularity, (which) is taking place in the present and which has as Object something not different from ‘village’.” The author, Nagesha, is one of a group of three or four prominent theoreticians who stand at the end of a long tradition of investigation. Its beginnings date to the middle of the first millennium B.C. when the morphology and phonological structure of the language, as well as the framework for its syntactic description were codified by Panini. His successors elucidated the brief, algebraic formulations that he had used as grammatical rules and where possible tried to improve upon them. A great deal of fervent grammatical research took place between the fourth century B.C and the fourth century A.D. and culminated in the seminal work, the Vakyapadiya by Bhartrhari. Little was done subsequently to advance the study of syntax, until the so-called “New Grammarian” school appeared in the early part of the sixteenth century with the publication of Bhattoji Dikshita’s Vaiyakarana-bhusanasara and its commentary by his relative Kaundabhatta, who worked from Benares. Nagesha (1730-1810) was responsible for a major work, the Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa, or Treasury of definitive statements of grammarians, which was condensed later into the earlier described work. These books have not yet been translated.


G a u d i y a To u c h s t o n e

The reasoning of these authors is couched in a style of language that had been developed especially to formulate logical relations with scientific precision. It is a terse, very condensed form of Sanskrit, which paradoxically at times becomes so abstruse that a commentary is necessary to clarify it. One of the main differences between the Indian approach to language analysis and that of most of the current linguistic theories is that the analysis of the sentence was not based on a noun-phrase model with its attending binary parsing technique but instead on a conception that viewed the sentence as springing from the semantic message that the speaker wished to convey. In its origins, sentence description was phrased in terms of a generative model: From a number of primitive syntactic categories (verbal action, agents, object, etc.) the structure of the sentence was derived so that every word of a sentence could be referred back to the syntactic input categories. Secondarily and at a later period in history, the model was reversed to establish a method for analytical descriptions. In the analysis of the Indian grammarians, every sentence expresses an action that is conveyed both by the verb and by a set of “auxiliaries.” The verbal action (Icriyu- “action” or sadhyu-“that which is to be accomplished,“) is represented by the verbal root of the verb form; the “auxiliary activities” by the nominals (nouns, adjectives, indeclinables) and their case endings (one of six). The meaning of the verb is said to be both vyapara (action, activity, cause), and phulu (fruit, result, effect). Syntactically, its meaning is invariably linked with the meaning of the verb “to do”. Therefore, in order to discover the meaning of any verb it is sufficient to answer the question: “What does he do?” The answer would yield a phrase in which the meaning of the direct object corresponds to the verbal meaning. For example, “he goes” would yield the paraphrase: “<he performs an act of going;” “he drinks:” “he performs an act of drinking,” etc. This procedure allows us to rephrase the sentence in terms of the verb “to do” or one of its synonyms, and an object formed from the verbal root which expresses the verbal action as an action noun. It still leaves us with a verb form (“he does,” “he performs”), which contains unanalyzed semantic information This information in Sanskrit is indicated by the fact that there is an agent who is engaged in an act of going, or drinking, and that the action is taking place in the present time.


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Rather that allow the agent to relate to the syntax in this complex, unsystematic fashion, the agent is viewed as a one-time representative, or instantiation of a larger category of “Agency,” which is operative in Sanskrit sentences. In turn, “Agency” is a member of a larger class of “auxiliary activities,” which will be discussed presently. Thus Caitra is some Caitral or instance of Caitras, and agency is hierarchically related to the auxiliary activities. The fact that in this specific instance the agent is a third person-singular is solved as follows: The number category (singular, dual, or plural) is regarded as a quality of the Agent and the person category (first, second, or third) as a grammatical category to be retrieved from a search list, where its place is determined by the singularity of the agent. The next step in the process of isolating the verbal meaning is to rephrase the description in such a way that the agent and number categories appear as qualities of the verbal action. This procedure leaves us with an accurate, but quite abstract formulation of the sentence: (3) “Caitra is going” (gacchati caitra) - “An act of going is taking place in the present of which the agent is no one other than Caitra qualified by singularity.” (atraikatvaavacchinnacaitraabinnakartrko vartamaanakaa- liko gamanaanukuulo vyaapaarah:) (Double vowels indicate length.) If the sentence contains, besides an agent, a direct object, an indirect object and/or other nominals that are dependent on the principal action of the verb, then in the Indian system these nominals are in turn viewed as representations of actions that contribute to the complete meaning of the sentence. However, it is not sufficient to state, for instance, that a word with a dative case represents the “recipient” of the verbal action, for the relation between the recipient and the verbal action itself requires more exact specification if we are to center the sentence description around the notion of the verbal action. To that end, the action described by the sentence is not regarded as an indivisible unit, but one that allows further subdivisions. Hence a sentence such as: (4) “John gave the ball to Mary” involves the verb to give,” which is viewed as a verbal action composed of a number of auxiliary activities. Among these would be John’s holding the ball in his hand, the movement of the hand holding the ball from John as a starting point toward Mary’s hand as the goal, the seizing of the ball by Mary’s hand, etc. It is a fundamental notion that actions themselves cannot be perceived, but the result of the action is observable, viz. the movement of the hand. In this instance we can infer that at least two actions have taken place:


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(a) An act of movement starting from the direction of John and taking place in the direction of Mary’s hand. Its Agent is “the ball” and its result is a union with Mary’s hand. (b) An act of receiving, which consists of an act of grasping whose agent is Mary’s hand. It is obvious that the act of receiving can be interpreted as an action involving a union with Mary’s hand, an enveloping of the ball by Mary’s hand, etc., so that in theory it might be difficult to decide where to stop this process of splitting meanings, or what the semantic primitives are. That the Indians were aware of the problem is evident from the following passage: “The name ‘action’ cannot be applied to the solitary point reached by extreme subdivision.” The set of actions described in (a) and (b) can be viewed as actions that contribute to the meaning of the total sentence, viz. the fact that the ball is transferred from John to Mary. In this sense they are “auxiliary actions” (Sanskrit kuruku or literally “that which brings about”) that may be isolated as complete actions in their own right for possible further subdivision, but in this particular context are subordinate to the total action of “giving.” These “auxiliary activities” when they become thus subordinated to the main sentence meaning, are represented by case endings affixed to nominals corresponding to the agents of the original auxiliary activity. The Sanskrit language has seven case endings (excluding the vocative), and six of these are definable representations of specific “auxiliary activities.” The seventh, the genitive, represents a set of auxiliary activities that are not defined by the other six. The auxiliary actions are listed as a group of six: Agent, Object, Instrument, Recipient, Point of Departure, Locality. They are the semantic correspondents of the syntactic case endings: nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative and locative, but these are not in exact equivalence since the same syntactic structure can represent different semantic messages, as will be discussed below. There is a good deal of overlap between the karakas and the case endings, and a few of them, such as Point of Departure, also are used for syntactic information, in this case “because of.” In many instances the relation is best characterized as that of the allo-eme variety.


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To illustrate the operation of this model of description, a sentence involving an act of cooking rice is often quoted: (5) “Out of friendship, Maitra cooks rice for Devadatta in a pot, over a fire.” Here the total process of cooking is rendered by the verb form “cooks” as well as a number of auxiliary actions: 1. An Agent represented by the person Maitra 2. An Object by the “rice” 3. An Instrument by the “fire” 4. A Recipient by the person Devadatta 5. A Point of Departure (which includes the causal relationship) by the “friendship” (which is between Maitra and Devadatta) 6. The Locality by the “pot” So the total meaning of the sentence is not complete without the intercession of six auxiliary actions. The action itself can be inferred from a change of the condition of the grains of rice, which started out being hard and ended up being soft. Again, it would be possible to atomize the meaning expressed by the phrase: “to cook rice”: It is an operation that is not a unitary “process”, but a combination of processes, such as “to place a pot on the fire, to add fuel to the fire, to fan”, etc. These processes, moreover, are not taking place in the abstract, but they are tied to, or “resting on” agencies that are associated with the processes. The word used for “tied to” is a form of the verbal root a-sri, which means to lie on, have recourse to, be situated on.” Hence it is possible and usually necessary to paraphrase a sentence such as “he gives” as: “an act of giving residing in him.” Hence the paraphrase of sentence (5) will be: (6) “There is an activity conducive to a softening which is a change residing in something not different from rice, and which takes place in the present, and resides in an agent not different from Maitra, who is specified by singularity and has a Recipient not different from Devadatta, an Instrument not different from.. .,” etc.


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It should be pointed out that these Sanskrit Grammatical Scientists actually wrote and talked this way. The domain for this type of language was the equivalent of today’s technical journals. In their ancient journals and in verbal communication with each other they used this specific, unambiguous form of Sanskrit in a remarkably concise way. Besides the verbal root, all verbs have certain suffixes that express the tense and/or mode, the person (s) engaged in the “action” and the number of persons or items so engaged. For example, the use of passive voice would necessitate using an Agent with an instrumental suffix, whereas the nonpassive voice implies that the agent of the sentence, if represented by a noun or pronoun, will be marked by a nominative singular suffix. Word order in Sanskrit has usually no more than stylistic significance, and the Sanskrit theoreticians paid no more than scant attention to it. The language is then very suited to an approach that eliminates syntax and produces basically a list of semantic messages associated with the karakas. An example of the operation of this model on an intransitive sentence is the following: (7) Because of the wind, a leaf falls from a tree to the ground.” Here the wind is instrumental in bringing about an operation that results in a leaf being disunited from a tree and being united with the ground. By virtue of functioning as instrument of the operation, the term “wind” qualifies as a representative of the auxiliary activity “Instrument”; by virtue of functioning as the place from which the operation commences, the “tree” qualifies to be called “The Point of Departure”; by virtue of the fact that it is the place where the leaf ends up, the “ground” receives the designation “Locality.” In the example, the word “leaf ” serves only to further specify the agent that is already specified by the nonpassive verb in the form of a personal suffix. In the language it is rendered as a nominative case suffix. In passive sentences other statements have to be made. One may argue that the above phrase does not differ in meaning from “The wind blows a leaf from the tree,” in which the “wind” appears in the Agent slot, the “leaf ” in the Object slot. The truth is that this phrase is transitive, whereas the earlier one is intransitive. “Transitivity” can be


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viewed as an additional feature added to the verb. In Sanskrit this process is often accomplished by a suffix, the causative suffix, which when added to the verbal root would change the meaning as follows: “The wind causes the leaf to fall from the tree,” and since English has the word “blows” as the equivalent of “causes to fall” in the case of an Instrument “wind,” the relation is not quite transparent. Therefore, the analysis of the sentence presented earlier, in spite of its manifest awkwardness, enabled the Indian theoreticians to introduce a clarity into their speculations on language that was theretofore unavailable. Structures that appeared radically different at first sight become transparent transforms of a basic set of elementary semantic categories. It is by no means the case that these analyses have been exhausted, or that their potential has been exploited to the full. On the contrary, it would seem that detailed analyses of sentences and discourse units had just received a great impetus from Nagesha, when history intervened: The British conquered India and brought with them new and apparently effective means for studying and analyzing languages. The subsequent introduction of Western methods of language analysis, including such areas of research as historical and structural linguistics, and lately generative linguistics, has for a long time acted as an impediment to further research along the traditional ways. Lately, however, serious and responsible research into Indian semantics has been resumed, especially at the University of Poona, India. The surprising equivalence of the Indian analysis to the techniques used in applications of Artificial Intelligence will be discussed in the next section. Equivalence A comparison of the theories discussed in the first section with the Indian theories of sentence analysis in the second section shows at once a few striking similarities. Both theories take extreme care to define minute details with which a language describes the relations between events in the natural world. In both instances, the analysis itself is a map of the relations between events in the universe described. In the case of the computer-oriented analysis, this mapping is a necessary prerequisite for making the speaker’s natural language digestible for the artificial processor; in the case of Sanskrit, the motivation is more elusive and probably has to do with an age-old Indo-Aryan preoccupation to discover the nature of the reality behind the the impressions we human beings receive through the operation of our sense organs. Be it as it may, it is a matter of surprise to discover that the outcome of both trends of thinking — so


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removed in time, space, and culture — have arrived at a representation of linguistic events that is not only theoretically equivalent but close in form as well. The one superficial difference is that the Indian tradition was on the whole, unfamiliar with the facility of diagrammatic representation, and attempted instead to formulate all abstract notions in grammatical sentences. In the following paragraphs a number of the parallellisms of the two analyses will be pointed out to illustrate the equivalence of the two systems. Consider the sentence: “John is going.” The Sanskrit paraphrase would be “An Act of going is taking place in which the Agent is ‘John’ specified by singularity and masculinity.” If we now turn to the analysis in semantic nets, the event portrayed by a set of triples is the following: 1. “going events, instance, go (this specific going event)” 2. “go, agent, John” 3. “go, time, present.” The first equivalence to be observed is that the basic framework for inference is the same. John must be a semantic primitive, or it must have a dictionary entry, or it must be further represented (i.e. “John, number, 1” etc.) if further processing requires more detail (e.g. “HOW many people are going?“). Similarly, in the Indian analysis, the detail required in one case is not necessarily required in another case, although it can be produced on demand (if needed). The point to be made is that in both systems, an extensive degree of specification is crucial in understanding the real meaning of the sentence to the extent that it will allow inferences to be made about the facts not explicitly stated in the sentence The basic crux of the equivalence can be illustrated by a careful look at sentence (5) noted in Part II. “Out of friendship, Maitra cooks rice for Devadatta in a pot over a fire ”


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The semantic net is supplied in Figure 5. The triples corresponding to the net are: cause, event, friendship friendship, object1, Devadatta friendship, object2, Maitra cause, result, cook cook, agent, Maitra cook, recipient, Devadatta cook, instrument, fire cook, object, rice cook, on-lot, pot. The sentence in the Indian analysis is rendered as follows: The Agent is represented by Maitra, the Object by “rice,” the Instrument by “fire,” the Recipient by “Devadatta,” the Point of Departure (or cause) by “friendship” (between Maitra and Devadatta), the Locality by “pot.” Since all of these syntactic structures represent actions auxiliary to the action “cook,” let us write “cook” next to each karakn and its sentence representation: cook, agent, Maitra cook, object, rice cook, instrument, fire cook, recipient, Devadatta cook, because-of, friendship friendship, Maitra, Devadatta cook, locality, pot. The comparison of the analyses shows that the Sanskrit sentence when rendered into triples matches the analysis arrived at through the application of computer processing.


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That is surprising, because the form of the Sanskrit sentence is radically different from that of the English. For comparison, the Sanskrit sentence is given here: Maitrah: sauhardyat Devadattaya odanam ghate agnina pacati. Here the stem forms of the nouns are: Muitra-sauhardya- “friendship,” Devadatta -, odana- “gruel,” ghatu- “pot,” agni- “fire’ and the verb stem is paca- “cook”. The deviations of the stem forms occurring at the end of each word represent the change dictated by the word’s semantic and syntactic position. It should also be noted that the Indian analysis calls for the specification of even a greater amount of grammatical and semantic detail: Maitra, Devadatta, the pot, and fire would all be said to be qualified by “singularity” and “masculinity” and the act of cooking can optionally be expanded into a number of successive perceivable activities. Also note that the phrase “over a fire” on the face of it sounds like a locative of the same form as “in a pot.” However, the context indicates that the prepositional phrase describes the instrument through which the heating of the rice takes place and, therefore, is best regarded as an instrument semantically. Of course, many versions of semantic nets have been proposed, some of which match the Indian system better than others do in terms of specific concepts and structure. The important point is that the same ideas are present in both traditions and that in the case of many proposed semantic net systems it is the Indian analysis which is more specific. A third important similarity between the two treatments of the sentence is its focal point which in both cases is the verb. The Sanskrit here is more specific by rendering the activity as a “going-event,” rather than ‘going.” This procedure introduces a new necessary level of abstraction, for in order to keep the analysis properly structured, the focal point ought to be phrased: “there is an event taking place which is one of cooking,” rather than “there is cooking taking place,” in order for the computer to distinguish between the levels of unspecified “doing” (vyapara) and the result of the doing (phala). A further similarity between the two systems is the striving for unambiguity. Both Indian and AI schools en- code in a very clear, often apparently redundant way, in order to make the analysis accessible to inference. Thus, by using the distinction of


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phala and vyapara, individual processes are separated into components which in term are decomposable. For example, “to cook rice” was broken down as “placing a pot on the fire, adding fuel, fanning, etc.” Cooking rice also implies a change of state, realized by the phala, which is the heated softened rice. Such specifications are necessary to make logical pathways, which otherwise would remain unclear. For example, take the following sentence: “Maitra cooked rice for Devadatta who burned his mouth while eating it.” The semantic nets used earlier do not give any information about the logical connection between the two clauses. In order to fully understand the sentence, one has to be able to make the inference that the cooking process involves the process of “heating” and the process of “making palatable.” The Sanskrit grammarians bridged the logical gap by the employment of the phalu/ vyapara distinction. Semantic nets could accomplish the same in a variety of ways: 1. By mapping “cooking” as a change of state, which would involve an excessive amount of detail with too much compulsory inference; 2. By representing the whole statement as a cause (event-result), or 3. By including dictionary information about cooking. A further comparison between the Indian system and the theory of semantic nets points to another similarity: The passive and the active transforms of the same sentence are given the same analysis in both systems. In the Indian system the notion of the “intention of the speaker” (tatparya, vivaksa) is adduced as a cause for distinguishing the two transforms semantically. The passive construction is said to emphasize the object, the nonpassive emphasizes the agent. But the explicit triples are not different. This observation indicates that both systems extract the meaning from the syntax. Finally, a point worth noting is the Indian analysis of the intransitive phrase (7) describing the leaf falling from the tree. The semantic net analysis resembles the Sanskrit analysis remarkably, but the latter has an interesting flavor. Instead of a change from one location to another, as the semantic net analysis prescribes, the Indian system


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views the process as a uniting and disuniting of an agent. This process is equivalent to the concept of addition to and deletion from sets. A leaf falling to the ground can be viewed as a leaf disuniting from the set of leaves still attached to the tree followed by a uniting with (addition to) the set of leaves already on the ground. This theory is very useful and necessary to formulate changes or statements of state, such as “The hill is in the valley.” In the Indian system, inference is very complete indeed. There is the notion that in an event of “moving”, there is, at each instant, a disunion with a preceding point (the source, the initial state), and a union with the following point, toward the destination, the final state. This calculus-like concept facillitates inference. If it is stated that a process occurred, then a language processor could answer queries about the state of the world at any point during the execution of the process. As has been shown, the main point in which the two lines of thought have converged is that the decomposition of each prose sentence into karaka-representations of action and focal verbal-action, yields the same set of triples as those which result from the decomposition of a semantic net into nodes, arcs, and labels. It is interesting to speculate as to why the Indians found it worthwhile to pursue studies into unambiguous coding of natural language into semantic elements. It is tempting to think of them as computer scientists without the hardware, but a possible explanation is that a search for clear, unambiguous understanding is inherent in the human being. Let us not forget that among the great accomplishments of the Indian thinkers were the invention of zero, and of the binary number system a thousand years before the West re-invented them. Their analysis of language casts doubt on the humanistic distinction between natural and artificial


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intelligence, and may throw light on how research in AI may finally solve the natural language understanding and machine translation problems. Reprinted from the Clarion Call Magazine by permission. Original article appearing in The AI Magazine Spring, 1985, Vol 6, No 1 (see also VedicSciences.Net).


VEDIC SCIENCE Can science provide us with the answers to life's mysteries? Can modern scientists continue to reject the concept of a creator intelligence? Scientists have long held that the universal creation is describable by simple mathematical formulas. Recent discoveries in algorithmic information theory have definatively shown that this is not so. Where do we go from here?... Can Vedic Science help? This website is inspired by the profound Vedic culture and the many important contributions to modern science, mathematics, architecture and many other fields that are credited to it. As such, many of the scientific and other articles here are not about Vedic Science directly but lead one to the conclusions of the Vedas â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they are inspired by Vedic Science and the culture of the Vedas.

Alexander the Great & King Porus Prof. N.S. Rajaram Indian history has been distorted to meet the ideological needs of the ruling powers, a situation that continues to the present day. The pattern though is startling: just as the myth of the Aryan invasion was created to make Vedas and Sanskrit foreign imports, the myth of Greek superiority beginning with Alexanderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s victory in India was concocted to make Greek learning superior to Indian. It was a claim the Greeks themselves never made. It was not for nothing that Napoleon called history a 'fable agreed upon.' 107


ccording to colonial British historians and their Indian followers, Alexander’s campaign in India (actually West Punjab now in Pakistan) was one of the most important episodes in Indian history. The reasons given are two. First it allowed scholars to establish a chronological marker for Indian history by identifying Sandracottos of Greek records with Chandragupta the founder of the Maurya Empire. This made him a contemporary of Alexander whose dates are known from other sources. This equation, known as the ‘Greek Synchronism’, is hailed as the sheet anchor of Indian history and chronology. All other dates are derived assuming it to be correct. No less importantly, Alexander’s ‘victory’ has been used as evidence of European superiority over Indians even in ancient times. This soon led to the claim that all Indian achievements from astronomy and mathematics to Sanskrit drama and epic poetry must have been borrowed from the Greeks. (like: Ramayana was a copy of the Iliad!) It is commonplace among Western Indologists to claim that all Indian science and mathematics were borrowed from the Greeks after Alexander. (If so why didn’t the Greeks have the decimal place value system for another thousand years, which they got from India?) Some even claim that Indian writing was borrowed from the Greeks. Anyone who questions this is immediately denounced as a chauvinist incapable of logic. The idea is fantastic. Alexander entered India in the winter of 327 — 326 BC and left when a mutiny of his soldiers forced him to retreat with heavy losses. As we shall see later his stay was brief and troubled. Philip, the satrap he left in charge of the garrisons was murdered by the locals and his garrisons swiftly overrun. Seleucus who tried to recover them was defeated and driven out. But to go by the accounts of colonial scholars, Alexander must have brought an army not of soldiers but scholars and scientists who taught Indians everything from writing to astronomy — all in a matter of months! Contrast this with the British experience. Their rule lasted two centuries, and at its height included all of India. And yet India retained its identity and knowledge, learning from the British of course but adapting them to Indian conditions. The Greeks were in control, if at all of a remote corner of India for a few months. How could they achieve so great a transformation in so short a time that the British couldn’t in centuries? But such questions are dismissed as chauvinistic and unworthy of debate. So it is best to leave these claims alone and look at what the records have to say.


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Greek and Indian records Before we examine these claims, especially Alexander’s supposed military success against the Indians a few facts should be kept in mind. No Greek records from the period survive; we know about them only from later, much later accounts that refer to them. This includes the Indica of Megasthenes which is only known from references in later works by writers like Strabo, Diodorus, Plutarch and a few others. And none of them mention the word Maurya. Several scholars have suggested that Sandrocottos of the Greek records could have been Samudragupta of the later Gupta dynasty. This would topple the Greek synchronism and place the Maurya dynasty including Chandragupta and Ashoka several centuries before Alexander. The point to note here is that the whole of Indian chronology rests on the correctness of this linguistic similarity between Sandrakottos and Chandragupta (Maurya). There is no technical or inscriptional evidence to support it. Ashoka’s inscriptions don’t mention Alexander even though other kings are mentioned by name. Nonetheless historians for the most part have taken it as proven although a few dissident scholars are questioning it citing some recent archaeological finds. It is important to note that Ashoka’s date, as well as the dates of his inscriptions are deduced from this Greek Synchronism and not based on any scientific grounds like radiocarbon tests. (Recent archaeological data relating to stratification seem to cast doubt on it, but this line is not pursued here.) In all this there is an implicit assumption that Western sources are always reliable and objective and should be accepted without question. But the trustworthiness of Greek accounts on which much of this version of history is based, including those of Megasthenes and his successor Deimachus, has been questioned from the earliest time. The late R.C. Majumdar pointed out that we must give up any notion that they were somehow more reliable than others — a view propagated by colonial historians. Even the ancient Strabo (c. 65 BC — c. 24 AD) wrote: “Generally speaking, the men who hitherto have written on the affairs of India were a set of liars. Deimachus holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next... Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachus and Megasthenes.”


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In contrast to the paucity of Greek records, we have ample records from Indian sources — Hindu, Buddhist and Jain — from the periods before and after Alexander. The most famous of these is the Arthashastra of Kautilya who was a contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya and hence of Alexander if his identification with Sandrakottos is correct. While they know nothing of Alexander, they do note invasions by others like the Scythians (Shaka), Huns (Huna), Persians (Parasika), Parthians (Prithu-Parthava) and others. The word ‘Yavana’ (Yona in Prakrit) is fairly common in the late ancient age, but does not always mean the Greeks (or Ionians) much less Macedonians. The first identifiable reference to Alexander in an Indian work is found in Banabhatta’s Harshacarita written almost a thousand years after Alexander’s invasion. In this Bana refers to an Alikasundara and his campaign against a country ruled by women (streerajya) or ‘Amazons’. They are probably the same as the Massagetae whose warrior queen Tomyris defeated and killed the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great around 535 BC. Their country corresponds to modern Kazakhstan, so Alexander would have encountered them on his march towards Afghanistan (or Bactria). This suggests that the impact of Alexander’s march on India has been exaggerated out of all proportion to reality by historians of the colonial era. In order to get a truer picture it is necessary to have some idea of the historical and political background to Alexander’s campaign which was part of Macedonia’s expansionist policy and not just a bolt from the blue. Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias, the fourth of Philip’s seven (or eight) wives. As Macedonians, they were looked down upon by the Greeks as half-barbarians. Probably to counter this, Philip engaged Aristotle to tutor Alexander in Greek learning. It was Philip who initiated an expansionist policy by invading and occupying Athens and other parts of Greece proper. To this end Philip introduced a military innovation known as the ‘phalanx’ — a compact and disciplined infantry formation that could fight as a unit. This proved successful against the tribes of Asia Minor and Central Asia, as well as the once mighty but now disintegrating Persian Empire. These were pitched battles in which Alexander’s disciplined phalanxes proved superior. They proved less effective in India where he needed to move against large formations over vast areas.


Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, plotted by Alexander’s mother Olympias according to some historians. Alexander III (to give his official name) inherited his father’s kingdom as well as the powerful army that he had created. He continued Philip’s policy of subduing the Greek states, which they intensely disliked, and expanded east and south until his forces were in Asia Minor (East Turkey). Egypt, which was chafing under Persian rule threw off its yoke and greeted Alexander as liberator. In 334 BC, he turned his attention to the wealthy but decaying Persian Empire. Alexander’s campaign against the Persian Empire consisted of a series of raids in which he plundered wealthy cities like Issus, Susa and Persepolis, the last of which he reduced to ashes. They were not unlike Mahmud of Ghazni’s raids into India 1300 years later. Darius III, the unworthy bearer of a great name, proved both incompetent and unpopular. He was captured and killed by one of his own subordinate rulers, Bessus of Bactria. In his Persian campaigns Alexander was greatly helped by his general Parmenion (c. 400 — 330 BC) who had loyally served his father also. Alexander repaid his loyalty by having the seventy year-old general executed on false charges of disloyalty. (This shows that Alexander was not the kind of man to reward a defeated adversary like Porus.) By 330 BC, Alexander found himself in Central Asia and Bactria (Afghanistan), trying to consolidate his hold over what were once parts of the Persian Empire. He was now


near the border of India. He, like his contemporaries had heard a great deal about the country and its legendary wealth. Whether it was his love of plunder or imperial ambition that attracted him, he descended into the plains of Punjab in the winter of 327 BC. This shows that Alexander was not the first foreigner to take an interest in India. There were others — traders, mercenary soldiers and adventurers before and after Alexander. Some even set up kingdoms, or tried to until uprooted or assimilated into in the region of the northwest. They are referred to as the Indo-Greeks. They should be seen as part and parcel of long standing encounters between India and the people to the west though most of them were not military in nature. We need to have some idea of this to get a truer picture of Alexander’s campaign and its impact.

“History — a fable agreed upon” Links between India and the West, including the Mediterranean world of Greece, Ionia, Egypt and Rome is of untold antiquity. It is important to recognize that the ancient Greeks did not see themselves as Europeans, but as one with other people of the Mediterranean region that included Egypt, Babylonia and Persia. To them Europe and its people were barbarian. As previously observed, Alexander and his fellow Macedonians were seen by the Greek elite as barely a step removed from being barbarians.


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Other than a few questionable references in the Old Testament, the earliest Western work to mention India appears to be the Histories of Herodotus (c. 484 — 425 BC). His writings indicate that there were others before him who had visited India including possibly Pythagoras (c. 570 — 495 BC). It is not known if Herodotus himself was ever in India. His writings (or those ascribed to him) do not suggest any great familiarity with India of the time. But they do show that India and its people were already familiar to the Greeks centuries before Alexander. Until the campaigns of Alexander, there was no large scale Greek presence in India though a few Greek colonies did exist in the northwestern regions of the subcontinent. Following his failure to gain a position in India and the defeat of his successor Seleucus Nikator, relationships between the Indians and the Greeks and the Romans later, was mainly through trade and diplomacy. Also the Greeks and other ancient peoples did not see themselves as in any way superior, only different. Herodotus in fact is full of admiration for Egyptians, Persians and the Ethiopians (Africans). The notion of Greeks as superior to Indians and other non-Europeans was a conceit introduced by Europeans of the colonial period. To preserve this conceit of ‘European’ superiority, colonial officials made the Greeks all but the bringers of knowledge to India — a claim the Greeks themselves never made. As a first step, these ‘scholars’ turned what was Alexander’s disastrous defeat into a victory that somehow resulted in his ‘defeated’ opponent ending up with more territory! Alexander also had to face a mutiny by his supposedly ‘victorious’ army and forced to beat a hasty retreat that resulted in the near destruction of his army and his own premature death. Further, his position became so weak that Alexander dared not return by the northern route by which he had come but took the forbiddingly inhospitable southern desert route where water is very scarce. (This is reflected in the legend of how Alexander on his deathbed gave the last cup of water he was about to drink to a thirsty soldier.) This historically realistic picture was first brought to light — to Indians at least — by the famous Russian general and military thinker Marshal Georgy Zhukov. In his convocation address delivered at the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun, Zhukov stated that Alexander’s conduct in the aftermath of his battle with Porus showed that he had suffered a catastrophic defeat. According to Zhukov, Alexander in his Indian


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campaign had fared far worse than Napoleon in Russia. A careful examination of Greek and Roman sources like Plutarch reinforces Zhukov’s analysis who was undoubtedly familiar with them. In particular it shows that his supposed victory over Porus was a later fabrication. Here is how Plutarch described Alexander’s ‘victory’: “This last combat with Porus took off the edge of the Macedonians’ courage and stayed their further progress in India... Alexander not only offered to Porus to govern his own kingdom as satrap under himself but gave him also the additional territory of various independent tribes whom he had subdued.” So Porus emerged from his war with his territory doubled and his gold stock augmented. This can only mean that Alexander had to buy peace with Porus to ensure a safe passage for himself and his troops. How this constitutes victory is known only to colonial historians and their gullible Indian followers. Worse fate awaited Alexander and his army on their way south. As he was trying to withdraw, Alexander nearly lost his life in a battle near Mulasthana (the modern Multan), and managed to escape thanks to the bravery of his friend Peucestas who sacrificed his life to save Alexander. Alexander and what was left of his army beat a hasty retreat towards Babylon through Sind only to be decimated. The ‘world conqueror’


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died in Babylon – a shadow of his arrogant self. All this is recorded by Plutarch who goes on to add, “Alexander left deceptive monuments to exaggerate the scale of his successes in India.” This should give an idea of how seriously Indian history has been distorted to meet the ideological needs of the ruling powers, a situation that continues to the present day. The pattern though is startling: just as the myth of the Aryan invasion was created to make Vedas and Sanskrit foreign imports, the myth of Greek superiority beginning with Alexander’s victory in India was concocted to make Greek learning superior to Indian. It was a claim the Greeks themselves never made. It was not for nothing that Napoleon called history a “fable agreed upon.” (To balance this it should be added that the 1941 movie Sikander with Sohrab Modi as the brave but defeated Porus and Prithviraj Kapoor as the victorious Alexander chivalrously restoring the defeated Porus to his kingdom did as much to seal the myth of Alexander and his nobility as any colonial era history book. It was released at the height of World War II when the nationalist sentiment was running high. It captured the mood of the people.) In conclusion we may say that while ancient records may not give us a full picture of the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum River) between Alexander and Porus, they certainly tell us it was far from being a victory. Of one thing we can be sure: like Napoleon’s march on Moscow, it was the beginning of the end of Alexander’s career as world conqueror. After a disastrous retreat through Sindh and Makran, Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, broken in health and spirit. Navaratna Srinivasa Rajaram is an Indian historian and author, holding a Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Indiana University. He has published papers on statistics in the 1970s and on artificial intelligence and robotics in the 1980s. He is notable for his scholarly publications with the Voice of India publishing house, focusing on the Indigenous Aryans controversy. He is also a member of Folks Magazine's Editorial Board since 2009.


w w w. a r c h a e o l o g y o n l i n e . n e t




a m i B . V. G i r i


ongratulations to all our readers! If you are reading this article, then you have survived the end of the world which was predicted to occur on December 21st 2012 – or at least that’s what some doomsayers would have had us believe. Apparently the world was supposed to be scheduled for annihilation last month. But it was not to be – somebody up there decided to give us another chance… Certain fundamentalists proclaimed 2012 to be the year of reckoning and some were already preparing for The Rapture – when God teleports all good Christians to heaven and leaves the rest of us infidels to contend with hellfire and brimstone. Some predicted that the earth would be struck by an asteroid, collide with a black hole, be hit by giant solar flares – or all of the above. The more eccentric prophets forecasted that we would collide with a (yet to be discovered) planet called Nibiru. All these apocalyptic predictions were centred on a stone calendar that was discovered in the 1960s at Tortuguero in

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the state of Tabasco in Mexico. This tablet (known as the Long Count Calendar) was carved by the Mayans, whose civilization flourished between 300CE to 900CE. According to the Mayans, this calendar marks the end of a 5,126 year cycle which ushers in the return of Bolon Yokte’ Ku, the Mayan god of destruction and creation. The long calendar begins in 3,114BCE and is basically divided into periods of 394 years called B’ak’tuns. In the west, the number 13 is thought by some to be unlucky, but the Mayans considered 13 to be sacred and the 13th B’ak’tun ends on 21st December 2012. So what happened? Experts in Mesoamerican history explain that time, according to the Mayans, was cyclic and not linear. In other words, the socalled ‘end day’ in December simply refers to a transition from one time period to another. Mayan scholar Sven Gronemeyer of La Trobe University, Australia, says that people have ignored evidence showing that dates beyond 2012 can also be found in Mayan records. For example, on the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, there are texts referring to 21st October 4772CE. Another inscription found at the ancient city of Coba gives a date that translates as 41 octillion years into the future – a date that is 3 quintillion times the age of the universe as determined by modern cosmologists. Erik Velasquez, an etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico says, “We have to be clear about this. There is no prophecy for 2012…it’s a marketing fallacy.” The National Institute of Anthropological History in Mexico also stated that, “The West’s messianic thinking has distorted the world view of ancient civilizations like the Mayans.”


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However, such doomsday scenarios are nothing new. Humans have been predicting the end of the world almost since the world began. Below, we present a brief history of how many peole through the ages have prophesized the End of Times, only to be frequently disappointed:

Assyrian tablet

Probably the earliest record of an End of Times prediction is from round 2800 BCE. An Assyrian tablet was found which said, “Our earth is becoming degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.” In 634 BCE, a rumour spread in Rome that the world was about to end. Apparently there was a myth that 12 eagles revealed to Romulus (the founder of Rome) a secret number that represented the duration of the world. Some Romans speculated that each eagle represented 10 years and since the Roman calendar began from the founding of Rome (753 BCE), they expected to be destroyed in 634. It didn’t happen.



The same rumour did the rounds again in 389 BCE. This time the Romans figured that the numbers that the magic eagles had revealed to Romulus represented the number of days in a year. Thus, they expected

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the end of the world in 389 BCE. It still didn’t happen! In fact, Rome didn’t get destroyed until 64 CE when the Great Fire of Rome almost burned the entire city to the ground.


A Jewish religious sect known as the Essenes that flourished from the 2nd Century BCE till the 1st Century CE believed that there was to be a final battle before the end of the world. And indeed, the world did end – but only for the Essenes. They rebelled against the Romans and were wiped off the face of the earth in 70 CE. When Christianity appeared on the world stage it brought with it a plethora of apocalyptic predictions. Almost every couple of years there was a prediction that Christ was returning and the end of the world was near. Some 1st Century Christians believed that Christ would return within one generation of his death. The belief that Jesus is ‘just now coming’ has been a prediction that has been repeated up to modern times.

Persecution of Christians

When the Roman Empire observed its thousandth anniversary in 247 CE, the senate celebrated by increasing its persecution of Christians – so much so


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that many Christians believed that the End of Days had arrived.

Beatus of Liebana

On April 6th 793 CE a Spanish monk named Beatus of Liebana told a crowd of people that the world would end that very day. Believing him, the people became frightened and fasted throughout the night until the next morning. However, seeing that the world had not ended, one of the fasters said, “Well, we may as well eat and drink now – if we die, at least we won’t be hungry when we go!” Later, Beatus wrote a book in which he claimed that there was only 14 years left before the end of the world. The year 1000 CE brought with it a huge amount of apocalyptic predictions. In December 999 CE, everyone was on their best behavior thinking that Christ was coming to judge them the next year. Thousands went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, crops were not planted, criminals were set free and charity was given in abundance. When the year 1000 came and nothing happened, it was business as usual. On October 19th 1533, the German mathematician Michael Stifel calculated that Judgment Day would begin just before breakfast at 8:00am.

Michael Stifel

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The following year, another German, Jans Matthys, predicted that the entire world would be destroyed on April 5th and only the town of Munster would be spared. In 1669 the Old Believers (a Christian sect in Russia) believed that the world would end that year. So convinced were they that 20,000 burned themselves to death to protect themselves from the Antichrist.

Hen of Leeds

The British mathematician William Whitson predicted a flood of biblical proportions that would wipe out all life on October 13th 1736. Apart from a few light showers, the day remained dry. Richard Brothers, a believer and teacher of Anglo-Israelism, stated that Armageddon would begin between 1793 and 1795. He was eventually committed to an insane asylum. 1806 saw the amazing ‘Prophet Hen of Leeds’ – a hen that laid eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. Eventually it was discovered to be a hoax.

Joanna Southcott

In 1814, Joanna Southcott, a 64-yearold woman claimed that Christ was returning and that she was pregnant


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with the Christ child who would be born on Christmas Day. However, it was not to be. She died on the day of her prediction and an autopsy proved she was not pregnant.


In 1844, a sect of Christians known as the Millerites believed that the world would end on October 22nd. Gathering on hilltops and wearing white ‘ascension robes’ the group became disappointed when nothing happened. The day became known amongst them as ‘The Great Disappointment’. As one believer wrote – “I waited all Tuesday and dear Jesus did not come. I waited all the forenoon of Wednesday, and was well in body as I ever was, but after 12 o’clock I began to feel faint, and before dark I needed someone to help me up to my chamber, as my natural strength was leaving me very fast, and I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain – sick with disappointment.” George Rapp, the founder of the Harmony Society, preached that Jesus would return in his lifetime, even as he lay on his deathbed on Aug 7, 1847.

George Rapp


1874 also saw the first apocalyptic prediction of the Bible Student Movement. The movement tried to predict the end of the world seven

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more times between 1874 and 1925, but without success. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, predicted that Jesus would descend and the end of the world would happen in 1890 when Smith would reach 85 years old. Unfortunately, by 1890, Smith had already been dead for almost a half century, after being assassinated by a mob.

Joseph Smith

Albert Porta, an expert seismographer and meteorologist predicted that a conjunction of six planets on December 17, 1919, would generate a magnetic current that would cause the sun to explode, thereby destroying the whole planet. His failed prediction caused severe damage to his reputation. In October 1962, during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the entire town of Madison thought the apocalypse was nigh. So they did what most people would do when faced with imminent global destruction â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they threw an enormous party. The next morning, the residents of Madison woke up with enormous hangovers and probably regretted that the world was still there!

George Van Tassel

August 20th 1967 would mark the beginning of the Apocalypse, during


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which the southeastern United States would be destroyed by a Soviet nuclear attack, according to George Van Tassel, a UFO prophet, who claimed to have channeled an alien named Ashtar.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet

Elizabeth Clare Prophet predicted a nuclear war would start on April 23rd 1990, with the world ending 12 years later, leading her followers to stockpile a shelter with supplies and weapons. Her prediction did not come to pass and she was promptly diagnosed with epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. On March 8th 1998, a religious group in Karnataka, South India, claimed that earthquakes would destroy the world and India would break off and sink into the ocean. Then, after the destruction, Lord Vishnu would appear on Earth.



According to a quatrain by Nostradamus, the “king of the Mongols” was supposed to “rain terror from the skies” in July 1999. Everyone waited with baited breath, but the King of the Mongols didn’t show up. The year 2000 had so many doomsday predictions that we can’t even list them all. As well as the religious crackpots, Y2K mania swept across the globe to add extra spice to the doomsday scenarios.

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Harold Camping

90-year-old California preacher Harold Camping has made various predictions since the 90’s about the end of the world (all of which were wrong). His most recent was when he stated that May 21st 2011 was the day of reckoning. With such a shoddy record of prophecies, Camping was cautious this time, stating,” ‘I really am beginning to think as I’ve restudied these matters that there’s going to be no big display of any kind. The end is going to come very, very quietly.” When his latest prediction failed to manifest, Camping went into hiding only to reappear and predict that October 21st 2011 would be the day or reckoning.

And this is just a fraction of prophecies that have been reported throughout history. To record all of them here would probably take up our whole magazine! In conclusion, the ancient Mayans did not predict global warming, nuclear wars, polar shifts or the dawn of a new ice age. All the hype about 2012 was simply a case of conditioned living beings projecting their own fears upon the Mayan calendar myth. So we have no reason to worry – the world will not end any time soon. And by the looks of things, neither will human ignorance and stupidity…


the nineteen century oil painter

Raja Ravi Varma Dominique Amendola


he years 1848 to 1906 represent an important period for the fine art of painting in India. They are marked by the legendary artist Ravi Varma, later honored with the title of ‘Raja’ by the British aristocracy, and better known as the ‘Great Raja Ravi Varma.’

Photograph taken about 1900 by the Government photographer, Zacharias D'Cruz of the Travancore Maharaja's State Carriage in Trivandrum.

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He was born in Kilimanoor Palace as the son of Umamba Thampuratti and Ezhumavil Neelakandan Bhattathiripad. He was from a princely family, very closely linked to the ruling house of the former State of Travancore. His uncle was also instrumental in bringing him to Thiruvananthapuram where Ayilyam Thirunal accorded him royal patronage. Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma was the ruler of the princely state of Travancore from 1860 to 1880. His reign was highly successful with Travancore gaining the appellation of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The model state of Indiaâ&#x20AC;?. In Travancore Ravi Varma became exposed to many new influences â&#x20AC;&#x201C; western and Indian alike. One of the helpers of Ramaswamy Naicker, (the palace artist), named Arumukham, used to visit Ravi Varma secretly in the dead of night to enlighten him with the secrets of oil painting that he had learned from his master. Ravi Varma was obviously quick to learn on his own and adapt any new technique. He was bold enough to explore things and thus remained an untutored painter all his life. As his name began to spread, he was soon commissioned to execute portraits all over the country


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Ravi Varma’s talent never went unrecognized. Although he lived for only fifty-eight years, his enormous contribution to various aspects of Indian art has made an lasting impact. A popular and significant artist of his time he was a prominent representative of Europeanized School of Indian artists. His oleographs (lithographic prints textured to resemble an oil painting) of Indian divinities still survive in many homes and shrines and these kitsch prints are framed and sacredly worshipped for posterity. His works are also popular and visible in religious prints, calendars, posters, and other popular arts. Interestingly enough, in the last decade of the Twentieth Century, with changing perceptions and trends in collecting art, Ravi Varma’s paintings have soared in the art collector’s esteem. Even after a century he is still one of the most celebrated painters of India. As we mentioned before Ravi Varma sought the guidance of the palace artist Ramaswami Naicker, who had mastered the European style of painting, and later from Theodore Jenson, a Dutch portrait painter who came to Travancore. But due to their own personal interests none of them helped much. But this merely strengthened Ravi Varma’s resolve to master the art. For nine years Ravi Varma experimented with different color pigments and techniques and in his struggle to understand the principles of European art, he spent lots of time studying albums and the prints and paintings in the Travancore palace collection. In this, his uncle as well as Maharaja Ayilyam Tirunaal encouraged him. With the influence of the West, Ravi Varma, acquired new materials and new techniques, convinced of their power and utility. Through self-instruction and by the simple method of trial and error he learnt the art of mixing colors. He painted both portraits and landscapes and introduced new elements into Indian painting. For the first time in the annals of Indian art, he had mastered and introduced the principle of perspective, the use of the stretched canvas and oil colors. He brought in a perfect blend of European Academic realism and the true spirit of the Indian milieu. Most of his oil paintings are based on devotional epic stories and characters. In 1873 he won the First Prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition. He became a world famous Indian painter after winning the Vienna Exhibition in 1873.


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Ravi Varmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings won virtually all the accolades that were possible for an Indian painter of his times. He was invited to Baroda, Mysore, Bhavnagar, Jaipur, Alwar, Gwalior, Indore and Udaipur. Wherever he went he painted portraits and paintings on a variety of devotional themes. His diaries written between 1895 and 1904 are perhaps the earliest personal accounts of an Indian artist. They reveal the inner workings of a creative mind. Raja Ravi Varma has been credited with the title of the earliest Indian landscape painter. Effectively landscape painting was an absolutely unknown art in India at the time.

Yashoda & Krishna


Birth Of Krishna

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Sir Madhava Rao, the Diwan of Travancore of that time and later the administrator of Baroda State was quick to see the possibilities in Ravi Varmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s popularity. He suggested they reproduce his works through the technique of Oleography. Oleography was a comparatively new mode of printing perfected in 1885 by George Boxter in England and it was another mode of lithography. Ravi Varmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oleographs established his reputation as an Indian artist.


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His marriage, in 1866, to Pooroouttati Naal Tampuratty of Mavelikkara Kottaram Royal family and its social status brought him into contact with the British Resident at Trivandrum. It was the Resident who persuaded him to participate in the Fine Art Exhibition, Madras in 1873. His work titled “A Nair Lady at the Toilet” showing a pretty woman adoring her hair with a garland of jasmine was adjudged to be the best.

The Lady

Not only did he win the first prize Governor’s Gold Medal but was also granted an interview by the Governor Lord Hobart, who spoke encouragingly of his work, and advised him to persevere and make a name for himself The Maharaja of Travancore welcomed him on his return to Trivandrum for bringing honor to the State. In the same year the painting was sent to an international exhibition at Vienna, where it was awarded a medal and a Certificate of Merit. And more importantly, this award received appreciative notices in the English dailies published from Madras, Bombay and Calcutta, thereby spreading Ravi Varma’s reputation as an artist of merit to other parts of India.

His marriage brought him two sons and three daughters. Raja Ravi Varma’s elder daughter, Ayilyam Nal Mahaprabha Thampuran, actually appears in two of his prominent paintings. His descendants comprise the Mavelikara Royal house while two of his granddaughters, including the said Sethu Lakshmi Bayi were adopted to the Travancore royal family, the cousin family of the Mavelikara House, to which lineage the present Travancore Maharaja Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma belongs. Well known among his descendants are writer Sri Kumar Varma (Prince Punardam Thirunal), artists Rukmini Varma (Princess Bharani Thirunal) and Jay Varma, classical musician Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma and others.


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Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi the grand daughter of Raja Ravi Varma adopted by the Travancore Royal family.

Representations illustrating the “Puranas” (Vedic scriptures), were the most popular with the public because they found their place in the “ Puja Rooms “ (prayer rooms) in millions of Hindu houses. Indeed, for the first time probably ordinary people had access to a visual representation of gods and goddesses. This contributed to the huge success of these works of art, success made​​ possible by lithography. The mass production of prints by Varma was however short-lived. Indeed, the artist had no business sense and he was forced to sell his printing in the early 1900s.

This date does not necessarily marked the end of the craze for chromolithographs by Ravi Varma, since these reproductions were later embellished with embroidered fabrics. Although the tradition of embroidered lithographs is difficult to trace, some clues for the place where it started are in South India, especially in the state of Tamil Nadu, in the area of Chetinad. ​​ These embellished versions of the reproductions of Ravi Varma often decorated and still adorn the walls of Indian houses. These chromolithographs played a major role in the development of contemporary Indian art and the technique of reproduction of paintings. The valuable Indian culture is expressed perfectly in the art of the country and especially in these reproductions. These chromolithographs played a major role in the development of contemporary Indian art and the technique of reproduction of paintings. The valuable Indian culture is expressed perfectly in the art of the country and especially in these reproductions. By the turn of the 20th century Raja Ravi Varma had become almost a cult figure and when he died in October 1906, people had already started worshipping his paintings. We owe the popularization of chromolithography to Raja Ravi Varma. We also owe to him the introduction of oil painting on canvas as a medium in India, Indian landscape painting and more.


POLIO & CANCER Sixty years ago, knowing or even hearing about someone dying of cancer was rare — even unheard of. In the 21st century cancer is a leading killer of both male and female adults between the age of 40 and 60. In the opinion of many health experts we are in the midst of a cancer epidemic. The following article is adapted from the book “Dr. Mary’s Monkey” by Edward T. Haslam. Haslam traces the current cancer epidemic back to a single source – to a contaminated polio vaccine unwittingly released by the American medical establishment. Indeed a harrowing story — what began as a fight against polio ends in a cancer epidemic taking the lives of thousands, even millions of unsuspecting individuals worldwide.


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TODAY, MANY AMERICANS DO NOT REMEMBER what a terrible curse “the polio epidemic” was upon the land. at its crest in the early 1950s over 33,000 Americans fell crippled to died slow, terrible deaths from polio each year. Most were children. The word “polio” struck fear into the hearts of parents across America. It was a casually transmitted virus that first infected the lining of the intestines , then the blood stream, and finally the nervous system, were it destroyed the victim’s brain stem. The difference between crippled and dead was determined by the extent of the damage to the brain stem. Cavernous hospital wards full of hideous looking machines called iron lungs” awaited patients who became too weak to breathe for themselves. President Franklin Roosevelt himself was crippled by polio before he entered the White House. The search for a polio vaccine became a national scientific effort supported by the most powerful political forces in the land. The Problem was this: Polio was caused by a virus, not a bacteria, and viruses do not respond to antibiotics. So, despite the spectacular success of antibiotics introduced to the American clinical scene in 1942, the medical community was powerless to stop these virus from crippling and killing. A New York City lawyer close to President Roosevelt organized The March of Dimes, and collected millions of dollars of coins from school children across the country to finance the research effort. The progress was encouraging.


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By the early 1950s, American scientist Jonas Salk came forward with a brave idea to eliminate all three strains of polio at once. Grow the polio viruses in the lab, kill them, then inject health children with the dead viruses. The dead viruses would not be able to reproduce, so they would not harm the children, but their immune systems would detach the presence of the invading viruses and would rally to defend the body, producing a hefty supply of antibodies in the process. Then the children’s fullyarmed immune systems would be ready to repel any living polio virus that attacked them in the future. His trials in 1953 and 1954 were successful. Optimism about Salk’s vaccine reached its perk. Five laboratories began producing the vaccine with the procedure that Salk designed, and accumulated a large enough supply for a mass inoculation beginning in April of 1955. This, touched off by an official ceremony on the tenth anniversary of Roosevelt’s death, confirmed Salk’s success. The results of the years of research, millions of dollars of investment, and the fate to thousands of crippled children were ready for the most publicized and anticipated event in the history of medicine. At the eleventh hour a bacteriologist at NIH was told to safety-test the new polio vaccine. Her name was Bernice Eddy, M.D.,PhD. When she injected the polio vaccine into her monkeys, they fell paralyzed in their cages.Eddy realized that the virus in the vaccine was not dead as promised, but still alive and ready to breed. it was time to sound the alarm. she sent pictures of the paralyzed monkeys to NIH’s management and warned them of the upcoming tragedy. A debate erupted in the corridors of power. Was the polio vaccine really ready? Should the mass inoculation proceed on schedule? A handful of prominent doctors across the country stepped into the fray to throw the weight of their reputations on the side of the vaccine. One of these doctors was


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Mary Sherman’s boss, Dr. Alton Ochsner. To demonstrate his conviction & that the vaccine was really ready, he inoculated his own grandchildren with it. The mass inoculation proceeded on schedule. Within days, children fell sick form polio, some were crippled, some died. Estimates of the results vary dramatically.. Ochsner’s grandson died.His granddaughter contracted polio but survived. An enormous lawsuit erupted. Heads rolled everywhere. The Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare (Oveta Hobby) stepped down. the Director of the National Institutes of Health ( Dr.William Sebrell) resigned. it was the biggest fiasco in medical history. A second, safer vaccine developed by Albert Sabin was deployed. it used a weakened live virus instead of a dead virus. it worked. Polio was history. The future was safe… or so it seemed. In the aftermath of the debacle, Bernice Eddy was taken off polio research and transferred to the influenza section by the thankless NIH management. She shared her frustrations with a small group of women scientists who ate brown-bag lunches on the steps of one of the laboratories. There Eddy met a tenacious scientist maned Sarah Stewart, M.D,PhD., who was waging her own battle against the official paradigms of bureaucratic medicine. Bernice Eddy and Sarah Stewart became close friends. Sarah Stewart’s name remains virtually unknown today, despite her huge contribution to modern medicine. Not only did she prove that some cancers were caused by viruses, but subsequent research on the virus she discovered led to the discovery of DNA recombination, which is one of the most powerful tool in medical research today. Raised in the fertile Rio Grande Valley on the Mexican border, Stewart’s educational odyssey ranged from the New Mexico Agricultural college in 1927 to a Ph.D. instead of an M.D. Because this was holding back her career advancement, she entered Georgetown Medical School and earned her 1947. Then she joined the National Cancer Institute, and stayed there until reassigned to the U.S. Public Health Service in 1960.


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From the beginning, Sarah Stewart promoted the idea that cancer was caused by viruses. Due to this, she was not well accepted by the NIH or NCI staffs, who described her as “excepted lady” determined to prove her theory was right: “No one believed her…” Finally, she was given access to an NCI laboratory in Bethesda, where she could try to prove her theories. In 1953, she almost succeeded, but her work was not accepted by the ruling crowd at NIH. They found her methods sloppy and objected to the fact that she did not culture her viruses. In 1956 her lunch partner Bernice Eddy showed Sarah Stewart how to grow her viruses in a culture of mouse cells. She now had all the ingredients she needed, and began a series of experiments which are called “classic” by modern day NIH researchers. As her work progressed, she realized that she stood on the edge of an extremely important discovery and became very protective of her techniques. In staff presentations, she would bewilder NIH pathologists by showing them slides of things they had never seen before. Then when they asked how she produced her results, she would giggle and say, “It’s a secret.” To quote her supervisor Alan Rabson: “She drove everybody crazy.” One of her procedural anomalies was that she never did control groups, saying, “They only confuse you.” In 1957 Stewart and Eddy discovered the polyoma virus, which produced several types of cancer in a variety of small mammals. Polyoma proved that some cancers were indeed caused by viruses. Her discovery officially threw open the doors of cancer virology. As Rabson phrased it: “Suddenly the whole place just exploded after Sarah found polyoma.” It was the beginning of a new era of hope, but it raised some dark questions about earlier deeds. Before long Yale’s laboratory discovered that the polyoma virus that had produced the cancer in Stewart’s mice and hamsters turned out ot act like Simian Virus #40 (SV-40), a monkey virus that caused cancer. In June 1959 Bernice Eddy,who was still officially assigned to the flu vaccine project, began thinking about the polio vaccine again. This time she was worried about


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something much deeper then polio. The vaccine’s manufacturers had grown their polio viruses on the kidneys of monkeys. And when they removed the polio virus from the monkeys’ kidneys, they also removed an unknown number of other monkeys viruses. The more they looked, the more they found. The medical science of the day knew little about the behavior or consequences of these monkeys viruses. But times were changing. Confronted with mounting evidence that some monkey viruses caused cancer, Eddy grew suspicious of the polio vaccine and asked an excruciating question: Had they inoculated an entire generation of Americans with cancer-causing monkey viruses? She conducted her research quietly, without alerting her NIH supervisors. In October 1960, one month before the Kennedy/Nexon presidential debate, Eddy gave a talk to the New Yourk Cancer Society and, without warning NIH in advance, announced that she had examined monkey kidney cells in which the polio virus was grown, and had found they were infected with cancer-causing viruses. Her implication was clear: There were cancer-causing monkey viruses in the polio vaccine! This was tantamount to forecasting an epidemic of cancer in American. No suggestion of cancer-causing monkey viruses in the polio vaccine was welcomed at NIH. When the cussing stopped, they crushed Bernice Eddy professionally. They took away her lab, destroyed her animals, put her under a gag order, prevented her from attending professional meetings, and delayed publication of her scientific papers. In the words of Edward Shorter, author of The Health Century: “Her treatment became a scandal within the scientific community”. Later it became the subject of a Congressional inquiry. In the words of Dr. Lawrence Kilham, a fellow NIH researcher who wrote a letter of protest to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office: “The presence of a cancer virus in the polio virus vaccine is the matter demanding full investigation.” And further: “Dr Eddy’s case, to many of us, represents a somewhat Prussian-like attempt to hinder an outstanding scientist.”


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Eddy, however, was not the only one who investigated the issue. A viral specialist maned Laurella McClelland, working for vaccine developer Maurice Hilleman in Philadelphia, found similar problems in the polio vaccine. The essence of the problem was that SV40 did not cause cancer in these natural hosts, such as this Asian MONKEY. But what would it do in another primate that had never even exposed to it? One whose immune system had not been sensitized to SV-40? Like Stewart and Eddy, Hilleman knew that the pollution of laboratory animals were polluted hopelessly cross-infected with all sorts of viruses. Monkeys from different continents were frequently caged together. it would be impossible to guarantee that any monkey in the American laboratory population had not been exposed to SV-40 at some point in the past. Hilleman needed clean monkeys caught in the wild. To avoid any last minute contamination, he completely by-passed the commercial animal importing network. He arranged to have a group of Green Monkeys caught in africa and sent to Philadelphia via Madrid, an airport which normally did not handle any animal traffic. His own drivers picked up the clean monkeys at the Philadelaphia airport and brought them straight to his lab. When injected with SV-40, these clean African Green Monkeys developed cancer. Hilleman announced these findings at a medical conference in Copenhagen. But it was not news to the NIH staffers in the audience. The insiders already knew there was a cancer-causing virus in the polio vaccine, but they had not announced it. It was the public that did not know. Should the public have been told? It is difficult for those of us who have seen the enormous press coverage of AIDS to understand the indolent response of the 1960s press on this subject. Was it really their job to prevent public panic? Did they cower in the face of scientific authority? Were they lazy? Or stupid? Or arrogant? Or were they told not to run the story by political forces? It is hard to say. But there is evidence that the word leaked out anyway. In the spring of 1961, one of Eddyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s co-workers published a medical article which said there was live SV-40 in the polio vaccine. Eddy herself confirmed that the SV40 monkey virus was causing cancer in hamsters as well as monkeys, proving that it was capable of crossing the species barrier. But she was not allowed to release the information until a year later. NIH notified the U.S. surgeon general that â&#x20AC;&#x153;future


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polio vaccines would be free of SV-40.” On July 26th, 1961, the New York Times reported two vaccine manufacturers were withdrawing their polio vaccines “until they can eliminate a monkey virus.” The article ran on page 33, with no mention of cancer. Seven months later, a second article in New York Times mentioned the possibility of cancer in the polio vaccine. That article ran on page 27. There the story died, and the specter of an approaching epidemic of cancer silently rose on the horizon. On the heels of the polio fiasco, the medical hierarchy feared the judgement of the masses. Their ability to destroy a painstakingly constructed scientific career overnight had been clearly proved. Another spate of bad news might shatter the public’s confidence in vaccines altogether. Where would the world be then? Where would the public health establishment be then? As SV-40 discoverer Maurice Hilleman put it, the government kept the contamination of the polio vaccine secret to “avoid public hysteria.” We are reminded of the scene in Frankenstein when a crowd of superstitious villagers gathered at a castle gate, angrily waving their pitchforks and torches in the air, demanding to know what evil was going on inside the doctor’s laboratory. To quote the words of polio vaccine Albert Sabin: “I think to release certain information prematurely is not a public service. There’s too much scaring the public unnecessarily. Oh, your children were injected with the cancer virus and all that. That’s not very good!” “Prematurely” ? Hadn’t the mass inoculation already taken place? Hadn’t several top scientists using carefully controlled experiments established that this problem was real? Hadn’t they announced the results to their professional peers? “Unnecessarily”? Wasn’t there still time to try and do something about it? Shouldn’t someone at least try? Sabin might as well have said, “I prefer my tombstone read, ‘the vanquisher of polio,’ and not, ‘the father of the great cancer epidemic.’” His attempt to hide behind the apron of “Public service” is no more than an attempt to avoid both responsibility and the unpleasant experience of facing the angry public. I’m sure we would all prefer not to be held accountable for our blunders.


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Is this Dr. Eddy’s forecasted epidemic? The more important question: was Eddy’s prediction of a cancer epidemic accurate? Did the epidemic ever happen? If it did, wouldn’t it show up in the cancer statistics? Wouldn’t the great wizards of medicine tell us if there was really an epidemic? Wouldn’t the press jump all over it? Given the times, I decided to check the numbers myself. A real epidemic should be easy to spot due to its size. So I dug out the cancer statistics published by the national cancer institute in 1989 and started reading related literature. Two things became clear: 1. We are losing the war on cancer, and 2. We were in the midst of an ongoing cancer epidemic. Despite the improvements in cancer treatment which had decreased the age-adjusted, per capita death rate slightly, the hard fact remained: Americans were getting cancer faster than ever ! Reporting on a 1994 article published in the journal of The American Medical Association, the front page of USA Today stated, “Baby boomers are much more likely to get cancer than their grandparents were at the same age.” And further, “Men born between 1948 and 1957 have three times as much cancer not related to smoking as men born in the late 1800’s.” Why? Per USA Today: “The studies’ researchers insist the increase cannot be fully explained by smoking, better diagnosis, or an aging population.” In the works of U.S. Public Health Service official Devra Lee Davis: “There’s something else going on.” I’m not a biostatistician, but John Bailar III was when he worked for the National Cancer Institute. When he told the sad facts to congress in 1991, NCI’s response was “absolute rage.” His subsequent tenure there was brief. That “Something else going on” may also help explain why the summary data we have available to us ends in 1988 (document B, page. 353). Despite the $22,000,000,000 spent on research during the twenty-year-old War on Cancer, little progress had been made in prevention and some areas had gotten dramatically worse. The bottom line for the cancer establishment was that the NCI’s initial lofty goal of a fifty percent reduction in the cancer rate by the end of the century


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had to be abandoned. The “war” may have stimulated additional billions of dollars in funding in its day, but well before the end of the century it became indefensible. The reality is that 1988 versus 1973 saw a twenty percent total increase in cancers! But as is true with most averages, the twenty percent increase does not tell the whole story. The last majority of cancers remain relatively stable versus 1973. The twenty percent increase is the result of five cancers which increased dramatically: lung, breast, prostate, lymphoma, and melanoma of the skin. The rest of the cancers did not increase significantly during the same period. Remember the dreaded polio epidemic of the 1950’s With its 33,000 cases of polio each year? Compare that to these numbers from 1994: 182,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed; 500,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed. The increase in any one of these diseases in the years since 1985 was greater than the entire polio epidemic at its peak! Since 1985? Yes, 1955 + 30 years is 1985. A ten year old who received the polio vaccine in 1955 turned 40 in 1985 the graph entitled “The Cancer Epidemic” shows the situation clearly. It depicts the percentage increase in the incidence rate compared to the base year 1973. (The NCI age adjusted the numbers to keep the aging babyboomer age wave from inflating the picture). The first thing to notice is what didn’t happen. Look a the line entitled “all other sites combined.” 1988 shows a zero percent increase over 1973. This includes leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and cancers of the brain, colon, bladder, rectum, larynx, pancreas, kidney, stomach, ovary, testes, cervix, uterus, thyroid, esophagus, and liver. For some reason, bone cancers are not mentioned. Next is the lung cancer line. Lung cancer statistics were terrible for both men and women. Both sexes showed a long, steady increase in both incidence rates and mortality rates over the 16 years from 1973 to 1978. This upward trend had been consistent ever since it began in the 1920’s, when lung cancer was a virtually non existent disease. The general consensus had been the dramatic, but consistent, rise in lung cancer is the result of cigarette smoking, so we will isolate it from our search for Eddy’s epidemic


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of viral cancer but it is sobering to think that the 500,000 annual cases of this lung disease consumed approximately $50,000,000,000 worth of our medical insurance premiums each year. That’s twice as much money as was spent on the war of cancer over those twenty years! If you are like most of us and have a problem thinking in billions, then try this: in the U.S., we were spending $137,000,000 every day on the treatment of one disease. The line entitled “Four soft tissue cancers show four cancers that averaged a 50% increase over the sixteen year period. These four all show dramatic increase in their incidence rate versus 1973: Skin : 70% Lymphoma : 60% Prostate : 60% Breast : 34% We should note that there is no accepted explanation for what caused this! Each of the four soft tissue cancers showed a dramatic increase in its incidence rate at the same time. Is this not what we would expect to find following a mass inoculation with a virus which caused multiple types of cancers? This would be my candidate for Eddy’s epidemic Of all the cancers, non receives more press then breast cancer. Talk shows and softnews TV features share the common burden like a giant group therapy session. Science magazine, which is hardly sensational, said, “The breast cancer statistics are alarming.” Publicly, professionals expressed bewilderment over the breast cancer statistics. The explanations they did offer were feeble. The most commonly heard: “early detection.” Early detection certainly helps treatment and the death rate, but it does not significantly affect the incidence rate. All early detection does to the incidence rare is borrow a fraction of cases from the next year or two. That lowers next year’s incidence rate unless it too borrows from the following years with early detection. In other words, it has no long-term effect on the incidence numbers


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The “Breast Cancer” graph show the incidence of breast cancer per 100,000 women from 1978 to 1987. There was a huge and sudden increase in the breast cancer rate around 1985. Remember: Ten-year-old girls who received the vaccine in 1955 became forty-years-old women in 1985, the age when breast cancer starts showing up in significant numbers. If the contamination of the polio vaccine was going to produce a wave of breast cancer, 1985 would be a logical years for it to show up. (Is it coincidental that 1985 just happened to be the year that my forty-year-old sister got breast cancer, when there was no history of breast cancer in our family?) The time period shown in the above graph reveals an over 30 per cent increase in the rate of breast cancer. What this works out to is breast cancer in American women grew from 130,000 cases per year to over 180,000 cases per year. Is the sudden appearance of 50,000 additional cases of breast cancer per year an epidemic? Polio was considered a major epidemic with only 33,000 total cases per year! Why was breast cancer not considered an epidemic at 180,000 cases per year? These breast cancer numbers alone eclipse the polio numbers of the 1950s. Then add the 200,000 cases of prostate cancer… then add lymphoma… then add skin cancer… We should ask ourselves the obvious question: Why have we not heard more about this enormous epidemic of soft tissue cancers? Could it be because the billions of dollars which the U.S. government gave to NCI andNIH failed to produce a solution in time? Despite the fact that the viral nature of several cancers had been proven by government scientists nearly forty year earlier the 1994 edition of the American Cancer Society’s publication Cancer Facts & Figures did not even mention “virus” among the possible causes of the most alarming increase in cancer ever recorded. Why? Today, however, there is abundant evidence of a variety of simian viruses found in the human blood supply. Of particular concern is the DNA form SV-40 repeatedly extracted from several types of tumors, including brain, bone, and previously-rare chest cancers. In the words of former FDA virologist John Martin, M.D., Ph.D., “SV40” infection is now widespread within the human population almost certainly as a result of the polio vaccine.”


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Does “almost certainly” imply some conditionality that a careful reader might object to? Does “former FDA virologist” create even the tiniest crack in seamless credibility? Am I forcing this point? Is this for real? Did dozens of monkey viruses get into the human blood supply from the polio vaccine? Did they contaminate both the Salk and Sabin vaccines? Were these the same vaccines given to millions of children to both the United States and Europe? Consider this 1997 quote from the U.S. Government’s own Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “In the 1950s, SV-40 was one of several dozen viruses that contaminated the original Salk and Sabin polio vaccines administered to millions of school children in the United States and Europe.’ The vaccine contaminated with SV-40 was injected into trusting children until 1963. Forty-one years later, an in-depth investigation by journalists Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher finally documented this same public health disaster in the detail which it deserves, including interviews with many of the scientists involved. The 2004 title speaks for itself, The Virus and the Vaccine: True Story of a Cancer Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccin, and the Millions of Americans Exposed. Enough said. Bernice Eddy Obviously Thought the possibility of an upcoming epidemic of viral cancer was real. Why else would she have risked her career and her pension by announcing her findings to the medical community without NIH’s knowledge? Did she fear that political interests at NIH would burry her warning, like they did when she sent them photos of monkeys paralyzed by walk’s Vaccine? Or was she just concerned that the glacially slow gears of bureaucratic science would not move fast enough to produce a solution in time? It may already have been too late. The viral damage to the genetic structure of the cell may take place very early in the infection. In 1959 Eddy explained it this way: It may be that the virus starts the cancerous process, but by the time we detect the tumor, there is so little virus left and it is in an altered form – thus we cannot detect it. In 1995, it was explained this way: If the growth-controlling ras gene is somehow damaged, it may become stuck in the “on” position. Either way, there was no possible


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political benefit to be gained from telling the public about Eddy’s forecasted epidemic of cancer unless a vaccine could be developed in time to prevent it. The issue was speed. Developing a vaccine against a spectrum of cancer-causing monkey viruses already inoculated into millions of people in the polio vaccine was at best a long shot. But there was some evidence that anti-virus vaccines were possible. Quoting Time Magazine: Stewart and Eddy have gone a vital step farther…and made a vaccine that protects a big majority of normally susceptible animals against the polyoma virus’s effects. The odds of success were slim, but the stakes were enormous: millions of Americans with cancer. They had to do something. They had to try. And they might get lucky. They might have serendipity. In a word, they were desperate. Eddy may have underestimated the government, or she may have understood them better than any of us. Either way, it looks as if the government did spring into action, at least by bureaucratic standards, but the statistics suggest that they failed to produce solution in time.



Hola Amigos!

Summer is a time of year th many good reason: clear s garden fresh vegetables and fo of fresh corn.

Since the colonization of th Columbus “discovered” the has become a favorite food fo to Europe, to Africa, to India to the world.

Maize had been a stable of the i so even today. The pilgrim settlers in North America and th adopted maize into their diet and sent maize back to their hom most everywhere — eatable by humans and animals alike.

Corn as we know it today would not exist if it weren’t for the people is a human invention, a plant that does not exist naturally in the wild maize at least 7000 years ago. It was cultivated from a wild grass called kernels of teosinte were small and spaced far apart.

From Mexico maize spread north to the Southwestern United States and south people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America



Jesus Valdez

hat most folks really look forward to and for skies, warm sunny days, outdoor recreation, or some folks, who like me, love the abundance

he Americas beginning in 1492 when Christopher e new world, corn (known to us in Mexico as maize) or millions of people world wide — from the Americas a and China. Corn/maize is one of Mexico’s great gifts

indigenous people of the Americas for millennia and remains he Conquistadors in Central and South America all eagerly meland where it soon became a favorite. Corn was a welcomed

es of Mesoamerica (Mexico) that cultivated and developed it. Corn d. Some estimates are that people living in central Mexico developed d teosinte. Different from our stains of maize and sweet corn today, the

h all the way down the coast of Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Mesoamerican a, they brought maize with them. The first “Thanksgiving” in North America


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was celebrated in 1621 and while contemporary dishes like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn/maize certainly was. The Native Americans, Aztecs, Mayans, Incas and others taught the new arrivals from Europe how to plant corn and the many ways in which corn could be prepared â&#x20AC;&#x201D; from simple popcorn, to hominy, to corn bread baked in clay ovens, to tortillas, tamales and more. Not to mention the alcoholic beverage chichi, otherwise known in English as moonshine. Corn was fantastic. The indigenous people showed the settlers how to prepare the corn before turning it into a dough by first soaking it in lime water (North American Indians used wood ash water) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; then rinsing the corn before grinding it into corn mash. This process came to be known as Nixtamalizacion (in English Nixtamalization). However, for the Europeans the process of Nixtamalization seemed unnecessary. After all what good did it do? Nixtamalization was probably just another superstition of those uncivilized people. Or was it? What happened next is one of those untold tragedies in history. Corn became a staple diet for many people is parts of Europe, Africa, India and China, but without first undergoing the process of nixtamalization. The result was the development, on-mass, of a life threatening disease called pellagra, caused by a chronic lack of niacin [vitamin B] in the diet. A deficiency of the amino acid lysine in the body can lead to a deficiency of niacin, thus leading to pellagra causing extreme suffering and even death. This is the risk one takes when eating a corn-based diet that has not been nixtamalized. Kwashiorkor is another such disease potentially brought on by eating a corn based diet of non-nixtamalized corn. Kwashiorkor rarely occurs in developed nations but is often found in African countries, especially among children, where a balanced diet is hard to get. Because pellagra outbreaks occurred in European countries where maize had become a dominant food crop, the belief for centuries was that the corn either carried a toxic substance or was a carrier of disease. Later, the lack of pellagra outbreaks in


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Mesoamerica where maize is a major food crop, led researchers to investigate the process of nixtamalization. In the 17th century physicians in Spain prepared the first documents studying a major outbreak of pellagra (then called Asturian leprosy). In Italy the disease had become endemic and it was there that it was named pelle agra (pelle = skin; agra = sour). The symptoms of pellagra sufferers included high sensitivity to sunlight, aggression, dermatitis, and inflammation of the skin, lesions, insomnia, weakness, confusion, paralysis of extremities, diarrhea, dilated cardiomyopathy and dementia. If not treated properly pellagra often led to death.

In the early 1900s pellagra deaths in South Carolina, USA numbered 1,306 during the first ten months of 1915; 100,000 Southerners were affected with pellagra in 1916. At that time the medical community believed that a germ, or some unknown toxin in corn caused pellagra. The Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital in Spartanburg, South


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Carolina was Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first facility dedicated to discovering the cause of pellagra. It was established in 1914 with a special congressional appropriation to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and set up primarily for research. In 1915, Joseph Goldberg, assigned to study pellagra by the Surgon General of the United States, showed pellagra was linked to diet by inducing the disease in prisoners, using the Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital as his clinic. Goldberger experimented on eleven prisoners. Before the experiment, the prisoners were eating fruits and vegetables from the prison garden. Goldberger started feeding them only corn [non-nixtamalized corn]. About two weeks into the experiment, the prisoners complained of headaches, confusion, and loss of appetite. In the third week, seven of the eleven inmates broke out with pellagra. Goldberger cured them, feeding them fruits and vegetables again. However, he failed to identify a specific element (niacin) whose absence caused the pellagra. Goldberger continued his work, but died without discovering the cause. So it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an old Aztec superstition after all, but it took modern scientists and doctors from the 15th century until the 20th century to figure out that people who ate a nonnixtamalized corn based diet were in a high risk group for getting pellagra. How did my ancestors in Mesoamerica figure out the benefits of nixtamalization more than 7000 years ago? They had no scientific methods or instruments that we have today, so how did they do it? We may never know. But today we do know how and why nixtamalization works. When ash or lime is mixed in water it creates an alkaline solution that interacts chemically with corn. This interaction frees up essential amino acids and niacin that would otherwise be locked in the curnals of corn. Thus instead of a corn based diet depriving the body of niacin, the corn based diet of nixtamalized corn actually provides niacin and essential amino acids to the body providing the basis for good health.


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In countries like mine where people eat nixtamalized corn nobody gets pellagra or kwashiorkor diseases. How about you, what type of corn do you eat or put on the table for your family? In Mexico we only eat nixtamalized maize and nixtamalized maize products. Even processed junk food manufacturers only use nixtamalized maize in Mexico. Should nixtamalizing corn seem a little daunting, you might pick up a bag of masa harina (nixtamalized corn flour) from the grocery store - you’ll find it in the Mexican food section. Make sure to check the sell-by date on the bag and buy the freshest you can find. If you are living in the USA try the Masa Brosa brand (available at Hannaford stores) - it has a nice corn flavor, mixes in a snap and also makes terrific tortillas. But wait there’s more. Although I love corn and I think it is one of the most wonderful and delicious foods in the world, still I have to say that all that is corn (even nixtamalized corn) isn’t good corn. Corn is everywhere these days — grown on every continent except Antarctica, planted on 93 million acres of land in the United States alone, and finding its way into nearly everything on the dinner table world wide, the humble corn plant of my country may just be the most influential crop that society has ever seen. Corn and its byproducts are in everything from canned fruits to antifreeze, body lotion to car batteries, margarine to magazines and it is basically all poison, especially if you are eating it in the form of Genetically Modified Corn (GMC) and corn fructose. Either way if you are eating GMC or corn fructose you are basically putting slow poison into your body. It’s in everything these days. It’s as though society had a death wish to commit suicide by eating GMC, corn fructose and for that matter any kind of Genetically Modified Food (GMF). Ever hear of obesity? Well all fingers point to corn fructose as the leading cause. And cancer? Follow the GMF food chain and at the other end you will find a host of cancer patients.


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But donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just take my word for it. Spend a little time and do some research, do your homework. Self-discovery, as I call it, makes for a lasting impression. Okay, I have said my piece. Eat healthy and live long. Adios amigos!


w w w. d e vav i sion . or g

of The Brahmana and the Crane (A story form the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata)

Grandfather Bhishma told Yudhisthira Maharaja the following story – Once there was a brahmana named Gautama who was extremely poor. One day he happened to meet Rajadharma, the prince of the cranes who inquired about his welfare. Gautama replied that he was suffering due to acute poverty. “Fear not,” said the Crane. “The king of the Rakshasas (man-eating demons) is my close friend. Go and tell him that you are my friend and he will certainly help you.” Thus Gautama visited the Rakshasa city of Meruvraja and was brought in front of the king, Virupaksha. The king was very happy when he heard that Gautama had been sent by his friend, the crane and he immediately asked how he could help him. After Gautama explained his situation, Virupaksha called his guards and told them to immediately prepare a large amount of gold and jewels for the brahmana to take with him. With great joy Gautama left Meruvraja and returned with his treasure to that place where he had met Raja-dharma. Feeling great fatigue and hunger from carrying the great abundance of gold and gems, Gautama sat down beneath a tree. Not long after, the crane returned and seeing his friend weary from his toil, fanned him with his wings. Gautama began to think,


Gaudiya Touchstone

“This treasure is so heavy and I still have a long way to travel before I get home. What will I eat?” Looking at his friend, the crane, that wicked brahmana thought, “This prince of cranes looks very large – he has plenty of meat on him. I shall kill him and eat his flesh!” Raja-dharma had kindled a fire to keep his friend warm and as night fell, both the brahmana and the crane curled up next to the fire to sleep. Once the crane fell asleep, the evil Gautama grabbed him and thrust his head into the flames. That poor bird screamed and flapped around while the brahmana held his body tightly until finally Raja-dharma’s body became limp. Plucking the feathers off the birds dead body, Gautama roasted his flesh and ate him. Some days after, King Virupaksha told his son, “I have not seen our friend, the prince of cranes for a long time. The last time he was seen was when he was traveling to see the brahmana Gautama. I fear that something untoward has happened to him. Go and ascertain if that pure soul is still alive!” When he arrived at the tree where Raja-dharma had been slain, the son of Virpaksha found the remains of that bird and with great speed, ran to the home of Gautama, seized him and dragged him back to his father at Meruvraja. The son of Virupaksha showed his father the remains of Raja-dharma and the king of the Rakshasas wept bitterly. “Let this wretch be killed! Let the Rakshasas happily feed on his flesh!” However, the Rakshasas refused to eat Gautama. “O king, we cannot eat such a sinful and ungrateful rascal. Let him be given to the cannibals in the forest.” The angry Rakshasas happily hacked at Gautama’s body with axes, lances, swords and maces until his body was broken into pieces, then they dragged his dead carcass into the forest and presented it to the cannibals to devour. However, when the forest cannibals heard from the Rakshasas about the brahmana’s ingratitude, they also refused to eat him. Bhishma concluded – For one who kills a brahmana, drinks alcohol, steals property or breaks a solemn vow, there are ways of atonement. But there is no atonement for an ungrateful person. Such an evil and vile wretch will not be eaten even by Rakshasas and cannibals. Indeed, not even worms will feast on his dead body.


In this issue of Gaudiya Touchstone, one of our seasoned cooks, Ratna Chintamani, shows us how to cook a typical Indian lunch. 163

Culinary Magic With Ratna Chintamani


Lemon Rasam INGREDIENTS 1 cup toor dal or mung dal 4 cups of water 2 tsp of cumin seeds 1 tsp mustard seeds A small pinch of Asafetida 1 tsp grated ginger (optional) 1 tsp turmeric powder 165

1 tsp coriander leaves 3 Green chilies split lengthways                    2 lemons 6 curry leaves (optional) Salt (as required)

METHOD Cook the toor dal or mung dal along with green chilies and cumin in a vessel or cooker with 4 cups of water. Cook till the mixture becomes soft and can be mashed easily. In a separate pan, heat oil or ghee, add mustard seeds to the hot oil and turn off the flame. Fry them until they start to pop. Turn on the flame again under the mustard seeds and add curry leaves, cilantro, grated ginger, asafetida, and saute for 2 minutes only. Mix this into the cooked dal, add turmeric and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the flame and add lemon juice. Keep it covered for 5 minutes. Serve with rice. 166

Yoghurt Rice INGREDIENTS 1 cup of cooked rice 1 cup of yoghurt Half cup of cold water 3Â green chilies 5 curry leaves (optional) 1 tbsp coriander leaves 1 tsp mustard seeds 167

1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp grated ginger 2 tsp cooking oil A small pinch of asafetida (optional) Salt (as required)

METHOD Cook 1 cup of rice to 3 cups of water till it is soft and starchy, then allow the cooked rice to cool.In a saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil becomes hot, turn off the flame. Fry mustard seeds in a little oil. When they start popping add them to the rice. Again turn on the heat to a low flame. Add the curry leaves, green chilies (slit lengthways), grated ginger, coriander leaves, and a pinch of asafetida and sautÊ for 2 minutes only.Add the cooled cooked rice and salt. Add yoghurt and water, then mix well and serve. NOTE: You can also optionally add pomegranate seeds for garnishing. 168

Sabji INGREDIENTS 250 grams potato 250 grams beans 3 tsp garam-masala powder 1 tsp chili powder 3 tsp coriander powder 2tsp dry mango powder             1 tsp turmeric 169

1 tbsp coriander leaves      8 curry leaves 1 tsp mustard seeds 1tsp cumin seeds   1 tsp grated ginger Salt (as required)

METHOD Steam or boil the vegetables in a cooker till tender. Put the vegetables in a pan and add cooking oil and put on a low flame. Fry mustard seeds with a little oil. When the seeds pop, add cumin, curry leaves, grated ginger and sautĂŠ for 1 minute. Add the cooked vegetables and the cooked spices and mix together. Add chilli powder, dry mango powder, garammasala powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder to it and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.


INGREDIENTS 1 cup wheat flour 1 tsp ghee (optional) Half tsp salt METHOD Mix the flour, ghee, and salt into a crumbly mix by adding some water little by little. Knead the mixture into a tight, firm dough by adding more water if required. The dough must not be sticky, but its texture should be stretchable. Cover it with a wet cloth and leave it aside for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into small golf-ball sized portions. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan. Roll each ball into a round circle – not too thick and not too thin. For rolling one can dust wheat powder on the balls or use a little oil. Slide each piece slowly into the hot oil and fry them by holding it under the oil until it puffs up. One can also scoop some oil with the spoon and pour it onto the puris to help them puff up. After the puri puffs up, turn it over and fry till both sides are a light golden brown colour. Remove the puri from the oil, drain well and serve. 171



Besan Halwa INGREDIENTS 1 cup of chickpea flour/ besan flour 2 cups of sugar Half cup of ghee 3 cups of water 1 tsp of turmeric for colour (optional) Dried fruits of your choice (optional)


METHOD Take a deep bottom pan. Add ghee in it and melt it on a low flame. Add chickpea flour to the melted ghee, and continue stirring on a low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, water and turmeric powder and continue stirring. When the mixture becomes semi-thick, switch off the flame and keep aside for 15 minutes or until it becomes cold, then serve NOTE: Dry fruits roasted in ghee can be added to the halwa before serving. 174

Maddur Vada

INGREDIENTS 1 cup fine rava/semolina Half cup of Maida/all-purpose flour 1/4 cup rice flour   1 tsp sesame seeds or cumin seeds                1 cup of finely chopped cabbage 1tsp green chilli paste or red chili powder 6  curry leaves (optional) 1 tsp grated ginger (optional)                   1 tsp coriander leaves 1 tsp baking soda (optional) Salt (as required) METHOD In a mixing bowl, add the rice flour, all-purpose flour, semolina, and 1 tsp of hot oil. Mix with a spoon. Add chopped cabbage, cilantro, curry leaves, grated ginger, chilies, sesame seeds, baking soda, and salt. Sprinkle water a little at a time and mix all the ingredients to make a firm dough (do not add all the water at once) Heat oil in a deep bottom pan. Pull golf-ball size balls from the dough, place them on a cooking tray with greaseproof paper and push them down to form a flat patty. Slowly slide them into the hot oil. Fry them on medium flame one by one till each piece is golden brown. Drain them well and serve. 176

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Srimad Bhagavad-Gita in Kannada



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