Sunday, February 21, 2010

Plan for Modern India

By Mahesh Kaul

India as a nation has witnessed processes and challenges at all levels of human consciousness. The most affected areas have been religious, social, cultural and political. Indian national life and hence Indian consciousness has been the amalgam of experiences in all these fields that have shaped mental plane of the inhabitants of this ancient land whose national spirit of existence in the comity of nations has always emerged from the cultural spiritual core.
This core has existed as the nucleus of this ancient civilization. Never ever has been a thought given to the fact as to what has withheld the national sense inspite of the invasions and vandalisations from the outsiders and the colonizers.what has kept the land of Bharata alive when every external thrust was meant to subjugate the masses and crush the nation in every possible sphere.Swami Vivekananda, the wandering monk of India who ignited the flame of Indian nationalism by embracing the whole mankind in the Universal religion of Vedanta answered all these questions that concern the national life of India and chalked out the plan of action for the future of the India in nation by providing the solutions to the problems of modern Indian an introductory article written for the Bengali fortnightly Udbhodhana, which was published on 14th of January, 1889.He wrote with pride that "Of that ancient Indian race upon ,which the rays of civilization first dawned deep thoughtfulness first revealed itself in full glory,there are still found hundreds of thousands of its children,born of its mind-the inheritors of its thoughts and sentiments -ready to claim them."
Swami Vivekananda was revealing the power of the blood of Indian thought that has flown and is still flowing in the soul and the mind of its people and acting as glue that binds the Indian nation by the cohesive force of spiritualism. And he was not bothered whether it flowed in the veins of the nation in 'a distinct or in some subtle way'. This dormant and silent flow of Indian thought as per him belongs to the major portion of the universal ancient inheritance.Elaborating on the predominant power structure and the political situation Swami Vivekananda ponders over the inherent structure of the Indian national life and says "Once in far remote antiquity, Indian philosophy, coming in contact with Greek energy, led to the rise of the Persian, The Roman, and other great nations. After the invasion of Alexander the Great, these two great waterfalls colliding with each other, deluged nearly half of the globe with spiritual tides, such as Christianity.again, a similar commingling, resulting in the improvement and prosperity of Arabia, laid the foundation of the modern European civilization. And perhaps in our own day, such a time for the conjunction of these two gigantic forces has presented itself again. This time their centre is India".
Further explaining the nature of the Indian consciousness and its uniqueness, he said "The air of India pre-eminently conduces to quietness, the nature of the Yavana is the constant expression of power; profound meditation characterizes the one, the indomitable spirit of dexterous activity, the other; one's motto is "renunciation", the other's "enjoyment".One's whole energy is directed inwards, others is directed inwards, the other's outwards; one's whole learning consists of knowledge of the Self or the Subject, the other's, in the knowledge of the not-self or the object (perishable creation); one loves Moksha (spiritual freedom), the other loves political independence; one is unmindful of gaining prosperity in this world, the other sets his whole heart on making a heaven of this world; one, aspiring after eternal bliss, is indifferent to all the ephemeral pleasures of this life,and the other doubting the existence of eternal bliss,or knowing it to be far away,directs his hole energy to the attainment of earthly pleasures as much as possible."Swami Vivekananda's analysis of the Indian existence, consciousness and the spiritual core enables to understand the foundations of the Indian nation and he asks boldly with the conviction of the Vedantist to assimilate spiritual calmness of the practical yogis to held firm the roots of Indian civilization amid all external turbulence, which is infact all illusion and not the reality. The reality being the inner sense of introspection of the Vedantist.
Reflecting on the wrong interpretations on the caste system in India and its negative impact on the social and the religious life. And his concern on the varna system was equally introspective. Taking the argument to the wider plane as all these parameters have great implications on the Indian national life in terms of religion and politics as well, he was quick to give his perspective for the future and well being of modern India, he said "What should we have is what we have not, perhaps what our forefathers even had not - that which the Yavanas had; that, impelled by the life-vibration of which, is issuing forth in rapid succession from the great dynamo Europe, the electric flow of that tremendous power vivifying the whole world.We want that energy,that love of independence,that spirit of self reliance ,that immovable fortitude,that dexterity in action ,that bond of unity of purpose ,that thirst for improvement checking a little the constant looking back to the past ,we want that expansive vision infinitely projected forward ;and we want -that intense spirit of activity(Rajas)which will flow through our every vein from head to toe."This was his immediate remedy to the degeneration being caused to the national life. But he thought beyond the present scenario that needed short term solution .
He was concerned about the future of modern India.He was bothered about the improvement of India in all spheres-religious, social, political and economic. He gave the principle of such a plan like the great visionary and patriot that puts even the statesmen of great stature to shame.Swami Vivekananda said,"the quality of rajas is apt to die down as soon as it comes up ,like a fire of palm leave.The presence of Sattva and the Nitya or eternal reality is almost in a state of juxtaposition-Sattva is nearly Nitya.whereas the nation in which the quality of Rajas predominates is not so long lived ,but a nation with a preponderance of Sattva is , as it were,immortal.History is a witness to this fact."To be specific about India he said,"In India, the quality of Rajas is almost absent; the same is the case with Sattva in the West .It is certain, therefore, that the real life of the Western world depends upon the influx, from India,of the current of Sattva or transcendentalism;and it is also certain that unless we empower and submerge our Tamas by the opposite tide of Rajas ,we shall never gain any worldly good or welfare in this life;and it is also equally certain that we shall meet many formidable obstacles in the path of realization of those noble aspirations and ideals connected with our after-life."
To sum up, it is appropriate to quote from the Swami Vivekananda's poem 'To the Awakened India', the wandering monk roars like a lion and says "And tell the world-awake, arise, and dream no more!This is the land of dreams, where KarmaWeaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughtsOf flowers sweet or noxious, and noneHas root or stem, being born in naught, whichThe softest breath of Truth drives back toPrimal nothingness. Be bold, and faceThe truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease,Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams,Which are External Love and Service Free."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shankaracharya Temple

By A.K.Khanna

The temple of SHANKARACHARYA is located on the top of a detached ridge of an igneous rock, The conical hill rises behind the Boulevard beside the Dal Lake. The temple is situated at a height 1100 ft above the Srinagar city. The temple could be reached by two hundred forty three steps with twenty-three landing and the approximate height is 550ft or 167.68 meters from the end of the road to hill, before one reaches the temple platform.This hill is known as Shankaracharya Hill. A temple is said to have been first built here by the son of the Mauryan King Asoka, the great in 2nd century BC. It also serves as a landmark of Srinagar city on the summit of the Gopadari. According to renowned Archaeologist, R. C. Kak, “Neither the hill nor the Temple preserves its ancient name”.A Hindu Temple is an aggregate of different symbols. It is ritually invested human personality or Vastu purusha which is conceived in terms of human body. The names of various parts of human body from the foot to head are applied in Indian Temple architectural texts or Shilpa sasatra to correspond with the various parts of the Temple. The most perfect body is lifeless without the resident soul. So, the temple has been considered as the abode of God whose spirit is immanent in the Universe. The Sunrise and the Sunset, birth and death etc. are controlled by a Universal power regulating the earth and living species. The temple, therefore, is known in such terms as devalaya, sivalaya and devayatana. The life installed in the form of the deity in the sanctum is known as grabhagriha or the house of the womb. It is here that regeneration is effected and higher self of the devotee is attained through worship, which leads to perception and realization of the power in the Universe manifested in various forms in the Indian religious ethos.The temple consists of a circular sanctum built on a high octagonal plinth approached by a long flight of steps flanked by two-side wall. A parapet wall surrounds the plinth. The inner face of which is embellished with a range of actuate recess enclosed in rectangular panels. The upper part of the original Shikhara has disappeared. The present structure of temple is datable to circa 7th century A. D.Thirteen steps with a railing leads to the dwarf wall at the plinth level, enclosing the parapet wall which acts as the circumambulatory passage or paridiksanapath. The dwarf parapet wall with sloping coping stones has rectangular niches with circular top opens on the inner side. The plinth of the temple has torus and fillet moulding all-around upto the level of the main structure of the temple.The terrace surrounding the temple is reached by three flights of stone steps numbering respectively six, seven and eighteen, the last encased between two walls. From the terrace another flight of 10 steps leads to the door of the temple, the interior of which has a chamber, circular in plan, in the center, a modern multi coloured lingam of probably Dogra period, as it resembles the stone of Ranbireshwar and Rughunath Temples of Jammu. The main shrine consists of a circular Cella . The interior of the sanctum is covered by a ply board ceiling concealing the flat sandstone slabs which are supported by two lintels bearing the load on four eight sided column of stone in the centre. The lower course of the ceiling is still extant in its original shape. There is a large oval shaped Shiva Lingam with reddish black stone probably brought from the Naramada River valley in Madhya Pradesh of Central India. The south-west column bears two inscriptions of Mughal Period. The temple resembles the interior plan of a large temple at Ladhuv (District Pulwama) in the ValleyThe brick roof supporting the slopping stone slabs probably has been added in the 19th century. The lower courtyard has an octagonal precast ornamental iron rain shelter shed with some benches for tourists comfrot. There are some modern structures added on the right side in Dogra period for the benefits of the priests of the temple. The shrine is under the religious control of the Dharmarth Trust for conducting ceremonies. The temple is a nationally Protected Monument under the Archaeological Monument, Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The temple is located in the valley under high security zone and hence no camera and mobile is permitted on the top. The night view from terrace of the Temple is mesmerizing and enchanting, with yellow, white and saffron lights twinkling city below. The view is a wonderful experience with white snow clad mountain ranges in the background, yellow & white light of Houseboats reflecting in water of Dal Lake, in a series of rows. The valley below provides an enchanting view in moon light from the temple equally of the same enthralling experience as the sight of The Taj Mahal at Agra.