Friday, 6 December 2019

Fascinating temple festival at Evoor Major Srikrishna Swamy temple, Kerala

Aaraattu” ritual, Kerala
Rich in culture and tradition,  Often referred to as the God's own country because of its breath-taking geography and picturesque scenery,   Kerala state has lots of Hindu temples where the temple festivals  are unique, colorful and quite fascinating.  They are held on specified days for a particular reason and the age old tradition is being observed even today. Many of them held for a long time to propitiate the Gods that have bestowed them with the best land with lots of greenery and water bodies. Among the Hindu temple festivals of Kerala,  Vrishchikolsavam of Tripunithura sree poornathrayeesa temple and the Thrissur Pooram, Vaddakunathan temple are most people, drawing a sea of people. Equally famous are the Utchavams of Padmanabha swami temple at Trivandrum Guruvayoor Anayottam (Elephant race; Spreme Court of India banned it in the recent past), Chottanikkara Makam and Sivarathri festival in Aluva temple, Padanilam temple at Mavelikkara, Maradu Thalappoli at Maradu, and Kalpathy Ratholsavam Palakkad, etc. 
Among them, the most common features of Kerala festivals are the ''flag-hoisting'' ceremony (each Hindu temple across India has a flag-pole called ''dwjasthambam'' and a specific flag to be used on festive occasions). The flag is hoisted on the first day of the festival and is brought down on the final day toward the end of the festival. Yet another important ritual is “Aaraattu”, giving a ritual 
bath to the procession idol (Utchavar) in the river or any other water body before taking the idol back to the sanctum.
In most of the temple festivals in Kerala   you can see the participation of well-decorated, caparisoned elephants specifically trained for this purpose. Decorated male elephant  normally carries the idol on its  back along with three priests escorted by two elephants before and the small procession goes around the temple court yard (prathkshana path), a common ritual in the evening as part of evening puja. 
Decorated elephants, male carrying the idol of god. Kerala

In this post  we are mainly focused on the  festivals of Evoor Major Srikrishna Swamy temple, near Alappuzha, the annual temple Utchavam is quite interesting. In this temple God Sri Krishna himself  had installed the idol in the Srikovil (sanctum)

The annual festival at  Evoor Major Srikrishna Swamy temple is so  popular it  draws  thousands of Hindus to this temple set in the midst of a wooded area of Kerala close to the world famous Serpent temple Haripad. The most inspiring aspect of this kind of festival is participation of various Hindu communities who themselves follow their own tradition of worship and puja rituals.

 According to Vedic scholars the idol in the sanctum which is in a ferocious form has a unique divinity  '' in-resistible aura'' with high intensity. Normally, in all Hindu temples following Vedic tradition  Jeeva Chaithanyam (living aura) radiating  in and around the deity in the sanctum (garbagriha or Srikovil)  plays a crucial role. This is because of chanting of certain relevant mantra  during the consecration ceremony and during daily regular puja  protocol  invoking the deity's blessing.  The deity is energized now and this helps the devotees standing close to the sanctum get positive vibration from the main idol, displacing negative aspects in our mind and body. This is the reason many true devotees come out of the temple calm and composed with better confidence level than before.

Consecration of idols amidst chanting of certain mantras plays  no less role in Vedic temples where the prime deity is instilled with aura/divinity.  When great Yogis like Bogar, Agasthiyar and  Rishis installed idols of god, they took special care to create mystical power in them and  it was done to benefit the humanity.  At Evoor, it was God Sri Krishna had himself  energized the deity. Naturally the God's aura - a bundle of positive energy permeates in all places around the temple.  Tantric  meditation, chanting of Vedas, ‘Pushpaanjali’ and ‘Abhishekam’ with Vedic mantra, besides  the priest's  discipline  all add up to the sanctity of this place.Besides,  special festivals “Utsavams ” (annual festivals), annadhanam  (distribution of free food), etc further increase the power of the  moolavar in the sanctum.  “Utsavam” or temple festival is held with a view to rejuvenating the divine  power “Chaithanyam” of Deity, by  way of conducting  specified  purification, anointing of the deity.  
At Evoor Sri Krishna temple it  is a 10-day long  “Utsavam” and during that period the entire place comes alive filled with lots of devotees  who actively take part in it with religious fervor. It begins on  the first day of the Malayalam month of ‘Makaram’ (January) and  ends  on the 10 day with a ritual bath in the nearby water tank commonly referred to as  “Aaaraattu” (Holy Bath). During the festivities, this place is nicely decorated with colorful arches and thoranas, etc. As for houses, etc., cut  plantain trees,  bunches of coconut and arecanuts and light illumination invite the visitors. As in many Hindu temples of Kerala, the temple tower and  the lamp (Villakku) madam/deepa sthambam  are illuminated. Oil lamps are used in the Villakku madam, etc.  

Th utchavam  covers the  whole gamete of  rituals and among them "Prasaada Sudhhi" (purification of Murthy), " various homams  associated with
"Abhishekams"  "Kotiyettu" (Flag hoisting), "Pallivetta" (Holy Hunting), "Aaraattu" (Holy bath), "Kotiyirakku", "Pallikkuruppu are worthy of mention. The festival comes to a close on the 10th day with  Aaraattu" (Holy bath)  and "Pallikkuruppu"-  reverentially carrying the idol to the holy bed room (in Tamil Palliarai) for slumber with his consort.      

tiyettam is a symbolic beginning of a temple festival with  hoisting of  a specified flag of that temple. It involves invocation of the deity  by tantric rituals such as ‘ Kalasam ’ and other poojas ; and then infusing divinity  to the flag bearing ‘Garuda’ emblem in this case”.  It has been a tradition that the Travancore Devaswom board and specific groups of devotees sponsor  first five days  of events. With respect to 7, 8 and 9th day events, three  villages (called‘Karas’)  such as  Evoor South, Evoor North and Evoor North-West  conduct them respectively. Each ‘village competes with the other to make the best out of the “ Utsavam”.

When the normal rituals  and pujas are over , it is time for cultural programs such as “Ottanthullal” etc, In the evening thousands of oil lamps on the temple premises are lit and after  Deeparadhana”, two hour long ‘Seva” starting  at 7.15 PM draws lots of people. It is the depiction of 
direct manifestation (Thidambu) of the deity and the temple priest  atop the male elephant sits with the utchavar idol.  After the last puja protocol is over. colorful cultural programs take place such as   ‘Kathakali', velakali etc., traditional dances of Kerala.

The 9th day event is marked by the inclusion of  “Kala-kali ” (decorated effigies of Bulls); people carry the small ones and big ones are mounted on wheels for easy mobility.  It is a sort of thanks giving offering to the deity for the welfare of the society and successful agricultural season. 
Kala-kettu  goes around the temple or prathakshana patha thee times.
Upon regular seva and  “Deeparadhana” ,
Pallivetta ” (Holy Hunting) is held at  midnight before a huge gathering. This cultural program is symbolic of god hunting the evil forces in the bygone era close to a Banyan tree  near-by. The lord atop the the gold caparisoned elephant, to the accompaniment of servants and devotees, go on a hunting trip -Pallivetta.  Trdition ("Jeevatha Ezunnallathus'') has it upon his successful hunting  trip back to home, the god is accorded a ceremonial welcome by his sisters  from the nearby  Bhagavathy temples - Kannamballil and Kalloorath. Dancers hailing from priestly section of the Brahmin community, wearing the traditional  dress and  holding the heavy "Jeevatha "on shoulders, perform the divine dance. The rhythmic dance goes through many phases expressing various emotions in unison with the beats by the drummers. God's sisters Bhagavathys also dance with ecstasy before God Krishna.  Upon reaching the temple, the sisters quickly complete ‘pradakshina’ around the temple, bow down again before the sanctum  and run outside. Bhagavan Sri Krishna bids goodbye to his sisters with sad countenance and gets back  to Srikovil (sanctum).

The 10th day event is an interesting one and the long-drawn festival utchavam comes to an end  with a grand “Aaraattu” procession.  The utchava murthy is taken atop the elephant to  “ Aaraattu palace tank at “ Muttam'' 3 Km away - purported to be the place where  sage Kanva-Maharshi used to worship the lord before. “Aaraattu” is a ritual bath in the water, a sort of sacramental ablution of the utchava murthi in the sacred tank.

 Afternoon,  marks the “Kettukazhcha” procession conducted by communities from three villages -“ Karas “ around the temple and  Decorated effigies of bulls,  etc go around the temple three times.

In the night  after this event, thousands of oil lamps are lit all around the temple. Now an important event takes place that is transfer of divinity / aura  from principal deity to the “Utsava deity” to be mounted  on the “Thidambu “ that is carried by the chief priest
Melsanti and other three priests. Atop the decorated elephant covered with ornamental  silk umbrella  escorted by 
two other elephants (Poojaris carrying “Muthukkutas” atop them), the Aaarattu procession  consisting of people in thousand will move on. There will be display of thunderous fireworks on the way at some points.
 At the sacred tank, the final destination, after conducting poojas by 1 am, the Tantri and Melsanti bring the “Utsava murthy” to the tank platform and perform  more  poojas. Next, they carry the deity  in their hands,  take three dips in the water and complete the ritualistic “Aaraattu”. Afterwards, the “Utsava Deity” is seated at the palace for Darshan.“Kotiyirakkam” (Lowering of Flag) is yet another event before the end of the festival. The Aaaraattu “ the procession returns to Evoor temple and by 5 am “Kotiyirakkam” starts around 5.00 AM. After the transfer of divinity in the flag by the priest, the flag is lowered to complete  “Kotiyirakkam”ritual.
Soon the “Utsava murthy ” is shifted to the “Ardha mandap” before the sanctum inside temple for “Pallikkuruppu” (sleep) where the deity sleeps after a busy day.
Tradition has it a  small calf (young cow) is tied to the pillar and the main temple is closed.  The lord  would wake up only after hearing the cry of the calf. Till such a time the temple priests and others wait in anxiety. When the calf cries, the main priest melsanti gets into  the temple and will be busy transferring the divinity. aura  from the “Utsava murthi ” to the principal “ deity”. Then the temple door is opened, to allow ‘darshan’ to the devotees.
Sri Villiputhur rath yatra, Tamil Nadu.

The same tradition is followed in many temples of Kerala and as for other Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, etc, the rituals are more or less similar except the “Aaraattu” ritual. In Tamil Nadu, normally processional deities are not carried on the elephant's back, but are mounted on a nicely decorated  huge  wooden ratha (chariot) and go around the four Mada streets (close to the temple
) for ''Pothu Darshan''  and it is of immense help to senior citizens and physically-handicapped devotees.

Evoor Major Sri krishnaswamy temple, Kerala installed by Sri Krishna himself!!

Evoor Major Srikrishnaswamy temple, Kerala/
Evoor Major Srikrishnaswamy temple, Kerala
The present temple built by King Moolam Thirunal,  Evoor Major Srikrishnaswamy temple, close to the famous Snake temple,  near Haripad, Alappuzha, Kerala is said to be pretty old; its antiquity is not traceable. 
God of fire,  Agni after continuously consuming butter, ghee, etc poured into the 'Homa kunda' developed severe stomach ailment. On God Brahma's advice to consume
the Khandava forest that would offer herbal remedy, Agni decided to   devour it, not realizing that it was the abode of  Takshaka, the Naga leader and a friend of Indra (god of rain). Indira with heavy rain and showers would put out the fire, thus preventing Agni to consume the forest. Now, Agni turned to Arjuna and Sri Krishna for help. Upon seeing  Agni with Arjuna carrying Shiva's bow Gandiva,   Kanva Maharishi (seer) who had been engaging in the spiritual activities there, requested  them  to spare Arca moorthy (an idol of Vishnu with four hand). Sri Krishna agreed and Arjuna constructed a Sarakoodam - a sort of enclosure  to shelter Agni within which he could consume the herbal forest to cure his stomach ailment. 

Quite pleased  Agni, expressed his wish to install Arca moorthy in a new temple there to facilitate worship. Upon instruction from Sri Krishna, Arjuna fired an arrow to locate  an auspicious place for the proposed temple. The place where the arrow fell was chosen to build the temple.  Evoor, a corrupt form of Eythoor  refers to the place where arrow was shot.  A temple was built and Sri Krishna performed Prana-Pratishta and Arjuna performed the first pooja. Bhoothanatha Swamy (Kiratha Murthy form of Lord Shiva) and Yakshi Amma ( Parvati) were consecrated as the Sub Deities. The remains of burned trees in the locality and names of  villages close-by  such as Karippuzha (kari means char), Pathiyoor (courruption of Kathiya Oor-place that burnt), Pandavarkavu, Mannarasala, Kannamangalam (Kanva-Mangalam Kanva's abode) corroborate what is mentioned in the sthalpurana of this temple. 

 For some unknown reason there was a fire mishap in the  Srikovil (sanctum)  of the temple and fortunately the main idols were safely recovered. The ruler of this place  King Moolam Thirunal, who was on a pilgrimage  to Kasi in the north  had a vision in which Sri Krishna asked him to have a temple rebuilt there. Being a  true devotee, upon his return he built the temple as early as possible  to help devotees worship at the temple set in the midst of a wooded area.

The idol of Sri Krishna  in the sanctum has four arms armed with Panchajanya Shankha in  rear left hand, Sudarshana Chakrain rear right and butter in three hands and the fourth arm held on hip. The idol is in a  sort of ferocious form, unlike many temples where Sri Krishna has a benign and enchanting smile. It is the only Vishnu temple where Raktha-pushpanjali, a special offering is available. 

The main festival is Ulsava  and here in  Evoor it  starts on first day of makara  month and  lasts  for ten days. The utsava begins with flag- hoisting and the flag carries the image of Garuda and the festival ends with lowering of the flag. After the ritual bath Aarattuon the final day, the god is taken to the  Pallikkuruppu (Holy Sleep); in Tamil it is called Palliarai.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Wheeler Senate Hall of Patna University, a fine British heritage building

Wheeler Senate Hall Patna University, Patna
Wheeler Senate Hall Patna University, Patna
Patna University was established in October, 1917 after the creation of the separate Province of Bihar and Orissa. A positive step had been taken to give a fillip to higher education in Bihar.  In July 1919 Post-graduate classes in various arts subjects were  introduced  at Patna College. The Science College  became a separate  entity in 1927 for promotion of higher scientific teaching.
The Senate hall is an integral part of any university, besides fine library, sports facilities, exam centers, etc, The newly formed Patna university experienced tough time in the early stages of its inception owing to lack of a spacious Senate Building. 

Situated in the heart of Ashok Rajpath, Patna city,  Bihar
the Wheeler Senate Hall, a convention center of the Patna University played no less role than other buildings in the area of socio-economic well being of the people of Eastern India. For more than 75 years it shaped the best brains from this region.  It was built with a view to holding conventions, exams, university meetings and other important activities. The senate hall came up in 1925 and the entire cost of construction  - roughly Rs, 1.75 lakhs was borne by Raja Devaki Nandan Prasad Singh of Munger. In the following year the senate hall was declared open by none other than the then Governor of Bihar and Orissa province and Chancellor of the University Sir Henry Wheeler after whom the hall was named.
Before the construction of the Senate hall, the Patna university was handicapped by the lack of proper facilities to hold meeting, convocations, etc and consequently, the officials of the university had to use  different venues  in the city on different occasions to hold important meeting, etc, a cumbersome time-consuming job that needed lots of groundwork,  proper cooperation and coordination among the officials. 

Quite interesting to note in the early stages in the first 5 years - 1917 to 1922  of its existence,  Patna University was allowed to use  a wing of the Patna High Court as its temporary office. Faculty meetings  were held in the hall at the new college, now known as Patna College,  whereas  senate meetings were held in the conference room of the Patna Secretariat. Believe it or not can you imagine the Durbar hall of the Governor House, present day Raj Bhavan building was the venue of the University convocations? It may be hilarious, but it was a fact of the university's early growth   prior to the construction of the  wheeler Senate hall. The entire complex including Darbangha House (it is on a plot of 15 acres of land)  was handed over to PU by the Maharajah of Dharbanga in 1955 for a meager sum Rs. 7 Lakhs to promote modern education  and scientific advances  to face future challenges. 

Wheeler Hall is a magnificent  spacious structure  built for a specific purpose to meet the various needs of a new university. It is so big it can accommodate about 1000 people at a time  and has been renovated a few times in the past.   Considering soaring high temperatures in the summer, the building was   aesthetically designed  with high ceiling, huge tall pillars and adequate ventilation. The fine gallerias add additional attraction.  This senate hall is steeped in history and through the portals of this building  passed such eminent personalities  as 
Vallabhbhai Patel, C. D. Deshmukh, V. K. R. V. Rao, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Jayaprakash Narayan, Lord Mountbatten, Sarojini Naidu,  to address the  university convocations here.  The  spell-binding  address of scientists of great  repute  like Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sir C. V. Raman, Meghnad Saha, Satyendra Nath Bose and Sisir Kumar Mitra before the  university students and faculty members reverberated the hallowed hall. It was  right here the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was felicitated on 17 March 1936 soon after he won the most prestigious  Nobel prize. The hall has fine old wooden table and the old electric fans. In 2014 and earlier period, Wheeler hall was in a dilapidated condition and the beautiful gallery became a garbage dumb. Once a beautiful ceiling became leakey due to poor upkeep and sheer negligence. Equally disturbing was the storage of old exam papers. The storage spaces were poorly maintained and in disarray. Continuous appeal and media reports drew the attention of the state administration who immediately understood the gradual degradation of  a heritage structure of immense value for the posterity and soon made funds available to restore the structure back to old glory. The state administration also paid a serious attention to other old  crumbling structures in Bihar. 
Patna City map, Bihar.
 The Bihar government and the ASI (Archeological Society of India) state wing declared  Senate Hall (Patna University), Patna College (it is a 155 year old institution)  and the Dharbanga House  as  heritage structures of immense value and had spent lots of money for their  upkeep and regular maintenance. This senate hall becomes a beehive of activities during exam times  because it  turns into an annual exam hall that will decide the fate of  anxiety-ridden students who will take the final examination with trepidation, notwithstanding their good preparation.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Sir Thomas Munroe's 5th generation visited Mantralaya Mutt and received blessings from Saint Sri Raghavendra Swamji

Sir Thomas Munroe's descendants at Mantrayala mutt.

Sri Ragavendra Swamiji and Sir Thomas Munroe.
Mantralaya in Telengana state, South India  is a great place of  pilgrimage for millions of devotees of Sri  Raghavendra Swamiji.  Here  on the serene banks of the Thungapatra river, the venerated Swamiji  attained  his Jeeva Samadhi.  Attaining Jeeva Samadhi means  shedding  the mortal body through constant meditation, fasting  and control of breath within a small enclosure with walls on sides simultaneously  being built and the roof closed finally).  Born Vekatanatha in a Madhawa family near Bhuvanagiri near Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu,  Saint Sri. Raghavendra Swami, finally chose  this quiet place at  Mantralaya  and lived here
from 1595 to 1671, constantly meditating and engaging in religious activities. He was a well-known saint of the 17th century and a proponent of Dvaita philosophy. The mutt he established has lots of revenue lands and the income would go to religious activities, Annadhanam (free food), etc.

A great pilgrimage site, it is being visited by thousands of devotees every day from across the breadth and length of India. There are fine lodging facilities available there close to the Samadhi.  It was in this blessed place the great enigmatic  British administrator  Thomas Munroe
received Manthraksha (god's blessing) from the great saint, indeed a rare privilege.   The interesting news is  the British officer's   descendants (5th generation)  visited this holy place on 29th  and  30 July 2018,  218 years after Munroe's time. They took the blessings of one of the greatest saints of  India Sri Raghavendra Swamiji (affectionately referred to as Rayaru). It is indeed surprising the ladies  and men wore  traditional Indian dress; the women wearing Sarees, flowers and Kumkum and were inside the holy premises barefoot. (Photo credit Sri Rajaraman). It is in the same premises  Thomas Munroe had a sort of apparition from the holy saint with respect to Mutt lands.
Munroe's descendants at mantrayala.
A bit of nostalgia:  When  EIC company at last won the battle against Tipu Sultan of Mysore (the last Angelo Mysore war; Tipu was killed in 1799), Thomas Munro was posted as  the Collector of Bellary in 1800, then it was part of  the Madras Government  (Residency).  The land was annexed after the final war  was over. The greedy company was finding out ways and means to increase the land revenue and they  never left out the lands owned by  various  Hindu mutts. Monroe was ordered to investigate the lands owned by Sri  Raghavendra Swamy Mutt in Mantrayala village and adjacent places. When the revenue officials were at a loss to know about the ownership of the mutt lands, as a last resort, being an honest officer, he  himself visited the mutt and made inquiries. Mutt officials told him he could only approach  only Sawmiji  to get a clear picture. Munroe was in a fix  as to how he could access a great seer who had  been dead for a long time and whose mortal remains  were  in the tomb (Samadhi). The Mutt official allowed him to visit the samadhi and pray to the seer. Perfect gentleman as he was, before entering the sanctified place, he removed his shoes and hat, and sat before the holy place with respect and hands in supplication. Swamiji's voice was only audible to him and he got the needed clarification.  Munroe emerged out of the Samadhi with a blessed soul which none experienced. It is a reward for his honesty, integrity and uprightness.  Munro  clearly clarified  to the English company the status of lands being owned by the mutt  and  waived all the taxes on the holy Mutt.
This notification regarding  the Raghavendra Mutt lands was published in the Madras Government Gazette - Chapter XI, page 213, with the caption "Manchali Adoni Taluka". This order is still preserved in Fort St. George, Chennai  and Mantralayam.

In 1819, Sir Thomas Munroe  became the  Governor of Madras Presidency and  introduced the famous the 'Ryotwari system that eliminated the exploitation of tillers by the merciless landlords. 

Sri Raghavendra Swamiji,  it is believed,  would continue to live for 700 years after his  Jeeva  Samadhi and  thousands of devotees and people worshiping him  at the samadhi  mention about his  miracles and mystic power. 

When India was under the company rule and later under the direct Crown administration, there were, indeed, countless British administrators  who had a soft corner for the Indian natives. Many of them worked hard and gave no room to corruption and under-handed dealings. Among them, Sir Thomas Monroe was a humane and effective administrator. Glory  and fame came to him as he chose the dharmic path. A Karma Yogi to the core. Please refer to my early post on Thomas Manroe:

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

British Major William Alexander Brown was tha man who created a mess in Kashmir in the 1940s
Kashmir  has been a contentious issue between ''Theocratic'' Pakistan and ''Democratic'' India ever since its illegal occupation in part of Kashmir in 1948 soon after partition. Gilgit and Baltistan abutting China border are part of Kashmir  and they  now form part of ''Pakistan occupied Kashmir'' and it is nothing but illegal occupation by the belligerent neighbor. With the problem of Kashmir which is legally part of the Indian Union remaining unresolved  for decades, several months ago the Indian government made a right move that is abrogation of article 370  and 37A of the Indian constitution  which gave special status to Kashmir. This article had countless holes/ impediments. One being the people of Kashmir do not enjoy freedom on par with other states in the Indian union.  The other being the state government had more powers than the central government and this helped Pakistan  send in more terrorists into  the state  to create mischief and violence  with support from local traitors and the state administration has remained a mute spectators. Handicapped with less power in matters related to Defence of this state,etc  Delhi could not take drastic steps against the terrorist activities going on there in collusion with certain separatists organizations based in Kashmir. These organizations  do not care for the progress of Kashmiris. Rather, they get donations and wallowing in large amount of money. These leaders send their children abroad for higher studies and live in palatial houses with expensive cars and other luxuries, all in the name of liberation of Kashmir. The thoroughly misled Kashmir youths by these separatists' emotional rhetoric failed to give priority to their education. Nor did they realize their responsibility toward their families. Besides these  hardcore separatists (JKLF) on advice from religious fanatics  and  Inter-Services Intelligence  in Pakistan  engaged in religious persecution  and cleansing in Kashmir  and in  1989 and 1990, drove  away under threats to their lives  lakhs of native Hindus called Kashmiri Pundits; besides they  took away their houses and lands.The end result was due to continuous insurgency and violence  innocent  Muslims  there  also suffered a  lot with no proper income and in the last  three decades Kashmir has not made any  economic progress. There are no industries there to offer jobs to the people. Nor  are there any good universities to promote education and welfare. The terrorism orchestrated by the Pakistani army  across the border had a grip on the people's living close to the Pakistan border areas. In the cross-border-firings on the Indian side the victims were mostly poor Muslim families close to the border.
Political map of India.
Ladakh and Kashmir
Above image:   The Indian Government releases maps of Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the illegal occupation by Pakistan and China. The new Union Territory of Ladakh consists of Kargil and Leh - two districts.
The rest of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir is in the new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
In 1947, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had the following 14 districts - Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi, Anantnag, Baramulla, Poonch, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Leh and Ladakh, Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory.
By 2019, the government of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had reorganised the areas of these 14 districts into 28 districts. The names of the new districts were - Kupwara, Bandipur, Ganderbal, Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Shupian, Kulgam, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtivar, Samba and Kargil.
Out of these, Kargil district was carved out from the area of Leh and Ladakh district.
The Leh district of the new UT of Ladakh has been defined in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Removal of Difficulties) Second Order, 2019, issued by the President of India, to include the areas of the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the remaining areas of Leh and

Ladakh districts of 1947, after carving out the Kargil District.
The maps prepared by Survey General of India depicting the new UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, as created on October 31, 2019, along with the map of India, are released, the statement said.


The historical blunder done by the Indian politicians in the late 1940s and early 50s is corrected by the present government. The advantage of this abolition of this special status to Kashmir is Ladakh and Leh areas which had been neglected for several decades owing to Kashmir imbroglio are going to be much benefited by this. Jammu region, it has become a Union territory directly under the Delhi administration. As for  Kashmir, it  is under the full control of the central government now , the incidence of terrorists activities has come down and it is said that in the near future Kashmir will make good progress in many fields and the people there have to change their mindset and so are the politicians there.    

The British rulers in India successfully used their famous ''Divide and Rule'' policy  world over and when offering freedom to India   became inevitable, they found a stool pigeon in Mohd. Ali Jinnah and instigated him to have a separate country for the ''Muslims''. This led to the birth of Pakistan and soon after partition, Jinnah's greed and ego had a hold on him and he illegally took over Baluchistan on the western side and later directed the Afghan tribes and others  to attack Kashmir that was ruled by the Hindu Maharajah Hari Singh. To stop invasion further,  Maharajah Hari Singh signed the instruments of transfer and Kashmir including Gilgit Agency became part of the Indian union. 

There is a  wise saying in Tamil ''Kuzhanthium killividanum, thotiliyum Attividanum" meaning '' spanking the baby and swinging the cradle'' to please the baby.   This is what one Major William Alexander Brown MBE (13 December 1922 - 5 December 1984) did; he worked in the Gilgit area under Hari Singh for about seven years. He did not like this area with 99% Muslim population joining the Indian Union. In the shadow he helped Jinnah in his  illegal raid on Kashimir  and this resulted in Gilgit Agency (including Baltistan) becoming  part of Pakistan, totally an illegal move. This area has not made any progress whatsoever so far and every year there are countess cases of human rights violations and  disappearance of innocent people;  media reports point out that the Pakistani army mainly controlled by the Punjabis are ruthless. Near the border areas with blessing from the Army and vested interests schools are being run to train terrorists. It is said they belong to the school of Wahhabism (It is an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab "ultraconservative", "far-right" "fundamentalist", or "puritan (ical)"; as an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship" (tawhid) by devotees; and as a "deviant sectarian movement" -Vide Wikipedia)'. Taking advantage of Pakistan's precarious financial mess, the areas under the Gilgit Agency  are being exploited by the Chinese in the name of construction work against serious protests from  locals and also by the Indian government who legally own the areas.  
unofficially divided  State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Born in Melrose, Scotland, William Alexzander  Brown was educated at St. Mary's School, Melrose and George Watson's College in Edinburgh. In 1941, upon finishing school he enlisted in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and in December left for   India. He had  the Officer Cadet Training Unit in Bangalore and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 10th/12th Frontier Force Regiment. He soon transferred to the Frontier Corps of the Scouts and Militias, serving with the South Waziristan Scouts in the North Western Frontier Province. He learnt Pushto and other languages   and in 1943 he was posted to the Gilgit Agency.
Gigit-Baltistan, legally part of India.
Gilgit Agency area. A boat in Attabad LakeT wikipedia.
When on 3 June 1947 the Gilgit Agency was transferred to the  Kashmir Maharajah, he   appointed Ghansar Singh Jamwal to govern the area on his behalf. On 22 October 1947, Pashtun militia aided by the Pakistan Army as wished by Jinnah  invaded Jammu and Kashmir.  Having no choice, on 26 October, Hari Singh announced Jammu and Kashmir would be joining India and signed an instrument of accession. Soon  Brown urged Ghansar Singh to ascertain the wishes of the local Muslim community over the accession.  Brown unilaterally thought that the whole of Kashmir, including Gilgit, should go to Pakistan in view of the fact that the population was predominantly Muslim  and Singh  remained unconvinced and Brown then began to plan what became known as "Operation Datta Khel''.
On 31 October, the Gilgit Scouts under the command of Brown, surrounded the Gilgit Residency and took Ghansar Singh into protective custody. Further, he contacted the Pakistan  Army. With Brown's  full support  on 1 November a military administration took control over the region and on 2 November Brown  hoisted the Pakistani flag over the Residency and announced the accession of Gilgit to Pakistan. Brown led  the Scouts until 12 January 1948 in Gilgit  when he was replaced by Aslam Khan. He died of a heart attack on 5 December 1984 aged 62 and in 1993 Brown was posthumously awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the government of Pakistan for this nefarious role during the partition of India. If Pakistan is in a financial mess today, the credit goes to Mohd. Ali Jinnah who never listened to great people like  Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Patel, Frontier Gandhi Gaffer Khan, Gandhiji and other great leaders. Well educated people on both sides of the border feel the two nation theory is a big fiasco.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Sir C. Sankaran Nair, Member Viceroy's council, an unsung freedon fighter and lawyer

Sir C. Sankaran Nair, Member Viceroy's council and eminent
Sir C. Sankaran Nair, eminent
The Indian history presented by the government  has countless pit falls; so  are the History Text Books for schools and colleges. There are no elaborate chapters on great rulers of India and freedom fighters. The true story of Nethaji Bose is not presented. There are many pieces of misinformation on people, local rulers  who are/were against Indian culture and traditions.  The stories of many freedom fighters and their contributions are either left out or just  dealt with brief information. Atheists who have neither made valid contribution to India's freedom nor made efforts toward amity among various communities have a liberal dose of their biographies.  As for patriots and freedom fighters across India,  many remain unsung and unheard of. One among them was a great lawyer and Congress man  Sir C. Sankaran Nair (1857-1934). He was relegated to the back stage in Indian history because  he boldly said Gandhiji's doctrine of non-violence won't  bring in quick result in dealing with autocratic British  rulers. Besides, his book ''Gandhi and Anarchy'' earned the ire of the Congress party leaders. A towering personality and an eminent judge of Madras High Court, Sri Sankaran Nair's distinguished contribution to India's freedom has to be properly recognized by the Indian government as well as by the Kerala government.  That he has not found a proper place in Indian History related to freedom struggle is a sad fact.
Jallianwalla bagh,.Punjab, India.

Among the blatant  atrocities committed by the British under the company (EIC) rule during the great rebellion of 1857 in which tens of thousand of Indian natives were mercilessly killed as a sort of retaliation against the unexpected killings of British subjects  including women and children by the Indian rebels and later under the direct administration of the Crown in London after 1958, none will surpass  the gory, mayhem and bloodletting that had taken place on the 13th of April 1919 at a closed garden called Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.  Acting Big Gen. Reginald Dyer, on orders form Punjab governor Michael O' Dwyer,  openly committed what was billed as the worst massacre in the British Empire  on a vast crowd of innocent people gathered in the bagh. With one exit to escape, he had his soldiers  stand near the exit and shoot continuously at the escaping, unarmed crowd until they ran out of ammunition.  The casualty was 373 people including children, women and elderly people,  many of them bled to death and thousands suffered grievous injuries, all happened in a short time.  No ambulance and no medical aids to the injured.  Unofficial casualty figure was more than 1000 killed in this horrible massacre.  Initially, the British administration in India gagged the press  and the British media hushed up this mass murder in collusion with the administration.  When the incident was leaked out secretly by some honest British reporters, this grisly incident not only shook the conscientious people in Brittan but also the entire world, in particular, western countries. The Indian patriots like Gandhiji, Patel and others were quite furious. 
Jallianwalla bagh, Amrisar, Punjab
None was more in rage than   Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair, the only Indian in the Viceroy’s Executive Council then, who soon resigned the covetous post in protest against this  appealing crime on the Indian soil by the foreign aggressors. In his autobiography he mentions ....''At the same time, I found that Lord Chelmsford [the Viceroy] approved of what was being done in Punjab. That, to me, was shocking.” Rabindranath Tagore, India’s most famous literary figure, gave up  his knighthood by way of registering his anger and resentment.

In the wake of Sankaran Nair's resignation, realizing the gravity of grave situation after the ghastly massacre,  the government lifted censorship of the press and terminated the  martial law in Punjab. The royal commission of inquiry headed by Hunter with both British and Indian members  was formed to go down to the bottom of this massacre. The whole of India appreciated  Sankaran Nair's reaction to the massacre and no doubt he won the heart and soul of every patriotic Indian. His resignation from the most powerful post in the British government was indeed a supreme sacrifice. In those days very high positions for the Indian was a far cry and the highest post they could reach was subaltern in nature.  Few eminent  people like Sir Rangacharlu,  Sir Sheshadri Iyer, Sir Mirza Ismail (Mysore), Sir Dinkar Rao, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar (Travancore), Sir Visvaswaraiah, Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar (Mysore),  Sir Sheshaya Sastry (of Pudukottai), et al held positions of eminence in the British Raj.

 Sankaran Nair's journey to the exalted position was an arduous one. Like many others, he began his career as an advocate in 1880 in Madras. After a long stint, he  became a  member of the Madras Bar.  As a member of  the Madras Legislative Council in 1890, he was instrumental in introducing the legislation leading to enactment of the Malabar Marriage Act of 1896. Being a staunch Congress man, obviously, in recognition of his leadership qualities and administrative skill he  became  an  elected President of the Indian National Congress. Incidentally, the only person from Kerala ever to hold this  most responsible position  at its Amaravathi session in 1897. Soon he became  the first Indian to be appointed Advocate General of the Madras government in 1907.  Earlier in 1902, the Viceroy Lord Curzon appointed him Secretary to the Raleigh University Commission. In 1904  he was appointed a Companion of the Indian Empire by the King-Emperor  and in 1912 he was knighted for his vast contribution in many fields. Later in 1908  he was elevated as judge of the Madras High Court and he held the post till 1915.  He became a member of the Viceroy's Council in the same year with the charge of the Education portfolio;  the highest post in the British Indian government ever enjoyed by an Indian.  He had numerous  departments under his control all headed by the British. 
Sankaran Nair's wisdom and handwork  were on full display in the preparation of  the Montagu-Chelmsford Report significantly influenced the British Parliament in enacting the Government of India Act of 1919 which was  a ground-breaking move toward India's independence. He, without any hesitation,  mooted an ingenious deal that  India's  participation in the World War was contingent upon the acceptance by the British government of ''Self-Rule'' by the Indians after the war was over, thus  showing the groping Indian leaders flickering light at the end of the dark tunnel, gateway to India's freedom from the British yoke. K.P.S. Menon, a great diplomat said, ...'' a prophet who was to change the course of events not only in India but in Asia and the world”. Being a courageous man, he was of the opinion that  Gandhiji's  ''doctrine of  non-violence for self-purification was  certain to lead to frightful disorders and riots”. He meant that the adamant British government, particularly under the Conservative Administration would give a damn to civil disobedience promoted by Gandhiji as a tool to get freedom.  Nethaji also felt this doctrine of non-violence won't work and the British would prolong giving freedom to India.

In a sensational case Nair Verses Lieutenant-Governor Michael O’Dwyer  that came up before the King's Bench in London (Mr Nair was sued for libel), not withstanding the fact both Gov. O' Dwyer and  Brig. Gen. Dyer were responsible for killing countless innocent people in Punjab,  the biased  judge and equally prejudicial  jury handed down verdict against Nair who preferred to pay 7000 pounds in damages rather than tendering an apology before the royal bench. You could not expect justice from a society that declared Gen. Dyer was a savior of British women and awarded him a big purse in London under the patronage of a well-known British newspaper.  As of today  Britain, which colonized India for 200 plus years and looted it as much as they could, is yet to tender an apology for the incident and similar such excesses committed by its forces on the Indians.
In 1997, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh  were on a visit to the bagh. The royal couple  merely signed on the visitor's book and  they made no comments on the innocent  people who died in the disgusting massacre in April 1919.  Way back in  2013, former British Prime Minister David Cameron  did the same thing
when he visited the bagh in Amritsar.  No apology was offered. he said  the  Jallianwala Bagh massacre  was a "deeply shameful event".

Sir Sankaran Nair retired from active politics and public life at a time when  the Viceregal  made an announcement  granting Dominion Status to India, one step toward freedom. Unfortunately he died in 1934 at the age of 77, 13 years before India attained freedom from the British. If Sri Sankaran Nair were  alive he would have become a broken man as Indian subcontinent was partitioned into ''Democratic'' India and ''Theocratic'' Pakistan, the latter  has been consistently a source of trouble for the peace-loving Indians. In the last two decades, Pakistan has become a breeding ground for religious terrorists and fanatics  who without any mercy engage in mass killing by setting bombs, etc  and  spreading ghastly violence in many parts of Asia. Hard core terrorist Bin laden was hiding in Pakistan until he was captured by the US forces. Consequently, innocent people in that country suffer on account of this misguided rule. How many of you know that  Major William Alexander Brown MBE (13 December 1922 - 5 December 1984), a British military officer in British India created a big problem during the Partition of India. He vehemently led a successful coup, killing both Hindus and Muslims  against the ruling Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir Guru Singh. This  resulted in the Gilgit Agency (consisting of Gilgit and Baltistan, both part of Kashmir) becoming part of Pakistan administered Kashmir. The Indian government has vowed to take them over  them in the future

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Historical Mayo Memorial Hall, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Mayo Memorial Hall, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Viceroy Nayo, British India.

Located close to  the Thornhill and Mayne Memorial State Public library, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh,  the Mayo memorial hall was built in 1879 in memory of  ''Lord Mayo”.  Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo  was a British politician and administrator belonging to  the British Conservative Party from Dublin, Ireland.  It was in  1869  Mayo became the Viceroy of India to take care of the administration of the subcontinent, representing the Crown administration in London.  It was a crucial period for the Raj that tackled  with great difficulties the great Indian rebellion a decade ago and this resulted in the exit of the English company rule. 
Mayo memorial hall, Allahabad.
As ill-luck would have it, Lord Mayo was on a visit to the British prison complex (locally called Kala Pani) in Port Blair in Andaman island for the purpose of inspection and to observe how the prisoners were treated by the Jail authorities. Upon completion of his investigation in the late evening he was near the shore to take a boat to his camp. In a jiff he  was assassinated on 8 February 1872 by a convict named Sher Ali Afridi, a Pathan.  With a knife he had been waiting behind the bushes for the arrival of Lord Mayo. The stabbing was so bad he could not survive the attack and later he  died; he was just 49 years of age. Lord Mayo happened to be a good officer and and had a soft corner for the native Indians. His main mission to the penal island was to check the prison conditions  and how the Indian prisoners were being treated by the Jail wardens and others. Mayo  was buried at the medieval ruined church in Johnstown, County Kildare, near his home at Palmerstown House.

Designed by  Roskell Bayne, a reputed British engineer with East Indian Railway,  it is an impressive big  hall with a 180-ft high tower and a semi circular high roof. The interior decorations and designs were done with meticulous care by Professor Gamble of the South Kensington Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum), London. The work was completed in 1879 and this hall was built to conduct  public meetings and official  balls and receptions. Incidentally, this hall was famous for its fine dance floor.
The outer walls of Mayo Hall carry impressive and eye-catching tiny  projections of busts representing different kinds of people like  a Greek scholar,  a man with African features, a native American  Indian and more.
Mayo Memorial Hall, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
The place where it is standing used to be known as Civil Lines; late came to be known as Canning Town or White Town. This part of town was designed in a grid pattern and built soon after the great rebellion of 1857.  This was meant for the  British officers of the North-Western Provinces. Within this newly laid down area  many impressive colonial buildings came up including Raj-era public buildings, colonial bungalows and impressive churches. The red brick Mayo hall was part of this town to cater to the needs of the Europeans.
The Mayo College in Ajmir, Rajasthan  and Mayo Hall in Bangalore, Karnataka bear testimony to this great Irish administrator.