Category Archives: Hindu Dharma

Kashmir. Perpetually in the news, for the wrong reasons.

by Ira Pande
‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’. I have heard this line parroted by leaders of all political hues. It has always sounded like an arbitrary statement designed to rebuff Pakistan, and to reaffirm India’s military might over a coveted geographical area.
Recently I came across facts that have changed my perspective on Kashmir totally. Facts that have astounded me. But more than that baffled me, for they reveal glaring lacunae in the history we have been led to believe so far.
Understandable that the British established a syllabus for us that was designed to obliterate our glories and inculcate shame in us for all things Indian. But, 70 years past independence, we are guilty of still toeing their line. Why?????
The facts I speak of are proof that Kashmir is the fountainhead from which flows our culture, in fact everything that defines our identity as Indians.
Due to my education in an elite school, i had considered myself reasonably well  informed. Yet, i had no clue at all about the significance of Kashmir vis a vis Indian history and that it was home to Panini, whose Ashtadhyayi is considered the most scientific and flawless treatise on grammar in the world.
Patanjali, who gifted to humanity his Yog Sutra..
Sharangdev, considered the father of both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
Acharya Abhinav Gupt, one of the greatest scholars of all times, who wrote 46 literary classics, including the renowned Abhinav Bharti. His principles of ras are being taught in 80 universities around the world.
Kashmir was considered the abode of Saraswati, the highest seat of learning in India, and was also referred to as Sharda Peeth. So much so that when students graduated from Kashi, they took 4 symbolic steps towards Kashmir, denoting their aspiration for higher learning.
Almost the entire body of Sanskrit literature has its origins in Kashmir.
Rajtarangini, an authoritative historical tome on the royal lineage of Kashmir, written by Kalhana in the 12th century, outlines the greatness of King Lalitaditya, possibly the most powerful Indian Emperor of all times, whose kingdom in the 8th century extended from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south, and included Assam in the east.
How many Indians have even heard his name???
How many of us know that Srinagar was established by Ashoka ?
That Mahayana Buddhism was spread across Mid Asia, China and Japan by Kashmiri monks?
Who are these educationists who are deliberately withholding such vital slices of history from our text books?
How will the present as well as future generations realize that Kashmir is the keystone of our heritage through millenia, finding mention even in our oldest scriptures?
It is not a piece of land. It is the abode of the soul of India.
“Kashmir is an integral part of India” now  has a new meaning for me. It is no longer a statement, but an impassioned avowal!

Vanchinathan – Remembering the Great Hero on His 106th Death Anniversary

 Vanchinathan Iyer, popularly remembered as Vanchi, was a fearless freedom fighter, who participated in Bharat’s independence movement and gave up his life as a symbol of the uprising of Swatantra Bharat against the British and the atrocities committed by them in the name of governance. At the age of 25, he assassinated Robert Ashe and embraced brave death.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu, he was born to parents Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal in Shenkottai (then part of the Travancore Kingdom) as Shankaran Iyer in the year 1886. He completed his schooling and higher education in Shenkottai .

Vanchi is notable as being one among the first and prominent Tamils who took part in the struggle for freedom and in some instances initiated the fight against the British Raj.

While working in Travancore, he came under the influence of many nationalists like V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Neelakanta Brahmachari, Subramaniya Siva and Subramaniya Bharathi. They were his mentors and together they belonged to the Bharatha Matha Assocation (1900).

Robert William Ashe was the collector and district magistrate of Tirunelvelli district in year 1911. He was engaged in activities that were largely favourable to the ruling British class , ignoring and ensuring that the interests of the locals are never addressed nor issues pertaining to them redressed. He is also accused of propagating missionary activities of forcible conversion. Ashe was also instrumental in working against V. O. Chidambaram Pillai’s shipping company (established as the first indigenous Bharatiya shipping company between Tuticorin and Colombo) which led to its liquidation, and later in Pillai’s arrest.

On 17th June 1911, the Maniyachi Mail left Tirunulvelli Junction for Maniyachi with Ashe and his wife Mary Lillian Patterson aboard. They were on their way to Kodaikanal with their four children. At 10:38 AM the train pulled in at Maniyachi. The Ceylon Boat Mail was due to arrive at 10:48 AM. As the Ashes sat facing each other in the first class carriage, waiting for the Boat Mail to arrive, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair boarded the carriage and pulled out a Belgian made Browning pistol and shot Ashe at point blank range in the chest. The bullet hit Ashe and he immediately collapsed. Vanchi ran along the platform and took cover. After some time he was found dead having pulled the trigger in his mouth. The pistol was found to be empty, indicating his intention to shoot only Ashe and himself and nobody else, not even Ashe’s wife.

A letter with the below words was recovered from his pocket,

The mlechas of England having captured our country, tread over the sanathana dharma of the Hindus and destroy them. Every Indian is trying to drive out the English and get swarajyam and restore sanathana dharma. Our Raman, Sivaji, Krishnan, Guru Govindan, Arjuna ruled our land protecting all dharmas and in this land they are making arrangements to crown George V, a mlecha, and one who eats the flesh of cows. Three thousand Madrasees have taken a vow to kill George V as soon as he lands in our country. In order to make others know our intention, I who am the least in the company, have done this deed this day. This is what everyone in Hindustan should consider it as his duty.    –

                                                                          sd/-, R. Vanchi Aiyar, Shencottah

 The letter clearly indicates the motive behind the assassination was the removal of English mlechas (who eat the flesh of cow) who were destroying Sanatana Dharma. This clearly goes parallel with the common statement, “Poisonous weeds have to be removed at the earliest or else they could prove to be fatal.”

This brave and selfless act of Vanchi acted as the much needed adrenaline rush for Bharat’s independence movement. The assassination and contents of the letter caused great apprehension and unrest.

Ashe was the first and only colonial British officer to be assassinated in Dakshin Bharat throughout the freedom movement. The British were left shocked and rattled by this incident.

The Maniyachi Railway station was later renamed as Vanchi Maniyachi station. But it is greatly sad and shameful that this is the best act of secular government of Bharat to recognize the brave act of Vanchi and that this is the highest honour given to his bravery. And it is immensely angering that even this little gesture has become a thorn in the flesh of Dravidians and evangelists. It is unfortunately being used as a catalyst by #BreakingIndia forces to fulfil their agenda by demoralizing and demeaning Bharat’s history and belittling the valour of our brave heroes.

One such dangerous trend started by them is to brand nationalists from upper castes as casteists forgetting their contributions and sacrifices – this can be equated to the insult of our army jawans fighting to safeguard our borders. Falsified stores are being spread to tarnish the image of these brave warriors. One such illogical story is currently being floated around by the Periyar followers of Tamil Nadu where Ashe is eulogized as the champion of downtrodden people.

According to this fantastic spin, Ashe apparently angered Vanchinathan by taking a poor woman in labour pains to hospital via driving through agraharam. Yes, agraharam, the area around the temple where Brahmins live. Since Vanchi supposedly had so much hatred towards the lower castes, this is the reason for him assassinating Ashe.

Now this story is not only ridiculous but also completely devoid of any sense and logic. Ashe was a tax collector for the district of Tirunelvelli in the Madras Presidency, which was under British rule. Shenkottai was in Travancore state (a sovereign state). It can be clearly seen that Ashe had no business whatsoever to be in Travancore. Even if for argument’s sake we accept this falsified theory, geographical location and the city’s plan do not support this theory. In Shenkottai, the agraharam was located in a remote area outside the town. Now why would Ashe drive a woman in labour pain through the remote agraharam outside the town to the hospital inside the town? This clearly shows the baseless allegations made by these sectarian groups to tarnish the image of our freedom fighters.

Are we going to stay silent and let these fringe groups hijack the achievements and sacrifices of our freedom fighters by sullying their names with ulterior motive to break Bharat on the lines of caste? If no, then it’s high time we started teaching our children the real history which has always been ignored in our school.

Note: This article first appeared at and is being republished here with the permission of the author


Banda Bir – বন্দী বীর – An eulogy by Rabindranath Tagore

This poem by Rabindranath Tagore describes the uprising led by
Banda Singh Ji Bahadur  against Mughal Empire and his eventual martyrdom on 9th June 1716

Bengali Original

বন্দী বীর

পঞ্চনদীর তীরে
বেণী পাকাইয়া শিরে
দেখিতে দেখিতে গুরুর মন্ত্রে
জাগিয়া উঠেছে শিখড্ড
নির্মম নির্ভীক।
হাজার কণ্ঠে গুরুজির জয়
ধ্বনিয়া তুলেছে দিক্।
নূতন জাগিয়া শিখ
নূতন উষার সূর্যের পানে
চাহিল নির্নিমিখ।

“অলখ নিরঞ্জন’
মহারব উঠে বন্ধন টুটে
করে ভয়ভঞ্জন।
বক্ষের পাশে ঘন উল্লাসে
অসি বাজে ঝন্ঝন্।
পঞ্জাব আজি গরজি উঠিল,
“অলখ নিরঞ্জন!’

এসেছে সে এক দিন
লক্ষ পরানে শঙ্কা না জানে
না রাখে কাহারো ঋণ।
জীবন মৃত্যু পায়ের ভৃত্য,
চিত্ত ভাবনাহীন।
পঞ্চনদীর ঘিরি দশ তীর
এসেছে সে এক দিন।

হোথা বারবার বাদশাজাদার
তন্দ্রা যেতেছে ছুটে।
কাদের কণ্ঠে গগন মন্থ,
নিবিড় নিশীথ টুটে–
কাদের মশালে আকাশের ভালে
আগুন উঠেছে ফুটে!

পঞ্চনদীর তীরে
ভক্তদেহের রক্তলহরী
মুক্ত হইল কি রে!
লক্ষ বক্ষ চিরে
ঝাঁকে ঝাঁকে প্রাণ পক্ষীসমান
ছুটে যেন নিজনীড়ে।
বীরগণ জননীরে
রক্ততিলক ললাটে পরালো
পঞ্চনদীর তীরে।

Translation by 

On the banks of the rivers five,
His locks coiled upon his head,
Has risen the Sikh
Inspired by his Gurus’ writ
With unrelenting tread.
Waver or fear he does not.
“Hail the Gurus,” the quarters resound
With the cry that rises
From voices that in thousands abound.
Thus has the Sikh risen,
His gaze fixated unblinking
Upon the new sun of dawn.

“Alakh Niranjan,” –
The great cry breaks all fetters,
Scatters all fears.
While close to the breast,
With a joy so great,
Rattles the sword.
Today, all Punjab raises the roar
“Alakh Niranjan.”

Today is the day
When a million hearts
Know no doubts
Nor bear any debts.
Life and death
Are as slaves at their feet
Of all worries are their spirits freed.
Such a day has arrived indeed
Upon the ten banks bounding
The rivers five.

Upon the ramparts
Of the palace in Delhi
The Emperor worries
Unable to sleep –
‘Whose voices churn the heavens,
Shatter the night so silent and deep,
The fire from whose torches
The brow of the sky scorches?’

On the banks of the rivers five
Gushes blood devout
From a million hearts so stout.
As flocks of birds, souls so many
Rush to their nests.
The mothers of the braves
With blood anoint their brows
Upon the banks of the rivers five.

In war, each other
Mughal and Sikh face,
And fall
Clasping in a death embrace.
One the other battles
As a falcon, poison rent,
Battles a serpent.
In fray so terrible that day
“Victory to the Gurus,” the brave Sikhs say,
The cry from a deep store of peace hails.
While the Mughal, blood maddened,
“Deen, Deen” yells.

At the fort in Gurdaspur
Was Banda captured
By the Turani legion.
Chaining him
As they will a lion
Delhi’s road they take.
Thus of Banda in battle
A prisoner did they make.

The Mughal soldiers lead the way,
Upon the road, clouds of dust appear.
The severed heads of Sikhs they display
Impaled upon spears.
Seven hundred Sikhs, their chains rattling,
In the soldiers’ wake walk following.
Multitudes gather by the way, jostling for space,
Many windows are thrown open, many eyes gaze.
The Sikhs roar, “Victory to the Gurus,”
For their own lives, they do not sorrow.
Thus, today,
Mughal and Sikh walk Delhi’s way

The Sikhs jostle in impatience
To be the first to die,
As a day ends,
And night draws nigh
Line they up and at terminator’s hands
Saying “Victory to the Gurus”
A hundred braves give up their hundred heads.

Thus, a week was past
And the seven hundredth life
Was taken at last.
Then a Qazi put on Banda’s lap
One of his sons.
“With unconcern
Must you slay your son,”
The Qazi said.
With these words, his hands fettered,
Was Banda his little son given.

Banda’s speech lay at rest.
Tenderly, his little son
He drew to his breast.
For a moment, he put his right hand upon the boy’s head,
Once Banda kissed his turban red.
Then from his girdle
He pulled his dagger.
Looking upon his son, “Victory to the Gurus,”
Banda whispered in his ear,
“Fear not my son,” said he.

That form so new
Shone with fervour.
A song from that young voice flew
Over the court which was a-tremor.
“Victory to the Gurus, all fear is a mirage,”
Sang the little boy
Looking at Banda’s visage.

Then Banda curled his left arm
Around the boy’s neck.
While his right hand, unwavering, firm
With a dagger did the child’s breast rake.
“Victory to the Gurus,” the child cried
And fell upon the earth and died.

The court stood silent!
Banda’s form
The terminator did rend
With heated tongs.
Banda died a death stoic,
Not once did the brave moan,
He was a man heroic.
Not once did Banda in pain cry.
Of the onlookers,
Horror shut every eye
In stunned silence, the court watched by.

Source of Translation : SikhNet by Saumya Dey

Hanuman – The True Role Model for You(th)


  • By Shravan Dantu

Today is one of the most auspicious days for the followers of Sanathana Dharma. Today is Hanuman Jayanthi – The birth day of Lord Hanuman!  When you visit devalayas or public gatherings today, I am sure that you will hear the following verse:

buddhihīna tanu jānikai sumirau pavanakumāra।
bala budhi bidyā dehu mohi harahu kalesa bikāra॥

This is the second doha in Hanuman Chalisa. I have transliterated it in English as that has, unfortunately, become the common language for communication. But many of us might still not understand what the above words actually mean, so, here is a simple translation in English.

Knowing my body to be devoid of intelligence, I remember Hanuman, the son of Vāyu. Give me strength, intelligence and knowledge and remove all ailments (kalesa) and impurities 

There will not be a single one from today’s youth, who, in their childhood, would not have prayed to Hanuman. When, as a child, you were scared and alone, you asked him to give you strength and company. And he did. During exams time, when you were tensed and wanted a self-assurance that “all is well” and will be well, you prayed to Hanuman and all tuned out to be well. When you were not focused on studies or the tasks that your parents wanted you to be focused on, the local devalaya purohit, gave you a Hanuman locket to wear and whenever you had to complete an important task, you kissed that locket… and lo!,  that important task was done.

Ah! Those were the days of childhood. You did many things without knowing why you should do them, but you did and you are now a confident, successful young person, ready to take on more responsibilities.  And it was in those days that when your uncle or aunty asked you who you admired the most, you inadvertently said that you wanted to be  like Hanuman – Strong, Fearless, Successful and yes, Playful and Lovable also.

Your Role Model was Hanuman.

But alas! Now that you have grown up, your role model may have changed. It could now be a Hollywood or Bollywood Hero/ Heroine or a cricketer. It is not wrong to admire your Bollywood star or a cricketer, for they, have achieved that success with a lot of hard work and that is why, they are popular in their field. But “in their field” is very important to note.  So, they are not, cannot and should not be a role model, when you are molding your entire life.

So, on this auspicious day of Hanuman Jayanthi, I think it is the right time to re-learn and really learn on why Hanuman is one of the apt historical characters who has walked (and continues) to walk this land of vedas, to be the Role Model for you.  I will talk about 5 (a handful) qualities that you and I can imbibe, to start with.

  • Like who you are and be what you are!

When Hanuman leapt to catch the Sun, thinking that it is a red apple, Indra struck him with his Vajra. Baby Hanuman fell and his Jaw got disfigured. And that is one of the reasons that he came to know as Hanu-man. So, it was this disfigured face that gave Hanuman, a name and a unique distinction. He did not try to change it. He did not try to hide it. He was what he was!

This is a very important thing to learn. You need not be perfect. No one is. Do not be cowed down by bullies who accuse you of being short or fat or tall or thin. Especially, in this stage of your life, you have to face extreme peer pressure. So, just be yourself and figure out how you can make that perceived shortcoming, a strength for yourself and may be, make a name out of it, literally.

Be focused on the task at hand and do not waver till that is done!

When Hanuman was crossing the ocean to find Sita Mata, a mountain king wanted him to rest on his peak. Hanuman politely declined and moved on without wasting time.  A rakshasi stopped his flight and challenged him to a duel. Hanuman only humored her by decreasing his body size so that he can enter via mouth and exit via her ear so that the rakshasi understood his strength. But he did not stop his flight to engage her and waste time.

This is another very important thing to learn. When we are studying hard, we face numerous distractions like movies, friends, games, etc. But there is a time for those and now is the time for you to focus on the task at hand, which is to study. Little wonder that Hanuman Jayanti comes during our exam times, I guess, so that we learn this great quality from Hanuman himself.

  • Understand the larger picture and work towards solving the bigger task!

When Hanuman was trying to search for Sanjeevini herb, he was confused as he could not identify the right herb. The bigger task at hand was to save Lakshmana and the only knowledge that he had, was that he was at the right mountain which had the herb. He did not spend any more time for research but used all his strength to carry the entire mountain so that the lifesaving medicinal herb could be reached to Lakshamana in time.

What you can learn from here is that while exams and marks are important, exams are only a means to the end. The end is what you make out of what you have learnt and how you can use it to contribute to the larger society and your country, which has given you all that you needed.

  • Communicate clearly, knowing what the other party knows what they need to know!

When Hanuman returned from Lanka after finding Sita Mata, the first person that he saw was Jambavan. When Jambavan, who was his grandfather’s age, asked him about his exploits, like a little kid, speaking to his grandfather, he narrated all things that he had done – how he destroyed the Ashoka Vanam with his extra-ordinary strength; how he escaped right under the nose of mighty Ravana and set his beautiful Lanka on fire, etc. Just like you would take your sweet time to talk about your escapades with your friends or family.  But when he was before  Sri Rama, the King, he shared only what Rama wanted to know, in brief and crisp sentences, saying that he found Sita Mata, that although she was sad before he met her, she was now happy knowing that Rama would come and teach Ravana a lesson and that that she would be united with her Swami.

It is important that you should know what to speak, when to speak, why to speak and who you are speaking to, so that you mould your message accordingly.

I think there are several other qualities like his humility, strength, wisdom that we can learn from Hanuman but I will come back to point 4 and elaborate further, since we Indians often lack in clear communication.

  • Communicate so that your purpose is achieved!

When Hanuman finally came across Sita Mata in the Ashoka Vanam, he had hardly a few minutes to convince her that he was Sri Rama Doota. Sita Mata was in an enemy land, she already was witness to several mayavi tricks from Ravana, she was hoping against hope (but with firm belief) that Sri Rama will come to save her, but nevertheless, in such situations, it would be extremely difficult to convince her that he was not another maya/trick of the Rakshasa, but a genuine soldier of Sri Rama and that the times would now really change for the good.

What you need to learn is that you do not always have the luxury of time. Now that you will be completing studies and interview for jobs, you have to learn how you to package your communication so that your purpose is served  – which is that the interviewer knows who you are and what you can do.

I think that is a lot of moral lessons for now. But do realize that each festival in our sanathana dharma is celebrated so that we can remind ourselves of our great historical giants and learn something from them.  And what better day to remind ourselves that Hanuman is the best Role Model that we can have, during this Hanuman Jayanthi.

Since I started with a doha from Hanuman Chalisa, let me also end with one. One which tell us more about science – the distance between Earth and Sun, in a simple, easy way to understand.

juga sahasra jojana para bhānū।
līlyo tāhi madhura phala jānū॥ 

Jai Shri Ram!!!



Where Woman is Goddess – Nari Puja in Kerala

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया:।

Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata,
yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah

Where Women are honoured, divinity blossoms there, and where ever women are dishonoured, all action no matter how noble it may be, remains unfruitful.

In addition to the special place that women have in Hindu society, a tradition of this nature is worthy of study.

Allapuzha: Environmental activist Vandana Shiva participated in the Nari Pooja held in Chakkulath Kaav, a unique event held every year in this temple. She had, in fact, visited the temple as a special guest, but after the Pooja she said, “I have never seen such a ceremony anywhere and it has really touched my heart.”

This is a ceremony woman is considered Goddess, seated on a special ‘peetam’, her feet are washed, flowers offered and ‘arati’, performed, and then she is garlanded  by the Chief Priest.  Every year, a special person is chosen by the Trust for Naari Pooja, and it has been first time they chose an environmental activist.

Others who had earlier participated in Naari Pooja include singer Chithra, actress Manju Warrier, Latha wife of Rajanikanth, Parvathi wife of actor Jayaram.

Source : Matrubhumi