“Incur debt but consume ghee” is an ancient wisdom for good health

Deshi Cow Ghee

Since our childhood, we were taught that

আমাদের দেশে হবে সেই ছেলে কবে, কথায় না বড়ো হয়ে কাজে বড়ো হবে I

মুখে হাঁসি বুকে বল, তেজে ভরা মন, মানুষ হইতে হবে এই যার পণ I

But on the contrary, when I look around, I find   that our boys and girls are having thick spectacles, obesity, unfit body, gloomy face, lack of confidence, etcin their childhood onwards. This picture provoked me to think about why is it so. Ultimately, causes of these issues point out towards our little learning and disrespect to our own ancient culture of Ayurveda in the light of modern perspective having   little understanding about the past.   Thomas Babington, better known as Lord Macaulay, is the man who brought the English language and British education to India to produce clerks for their administration. He wanted to destroy India and he believed “if you want to destroy a nation, destroy its education system.” He did exactly the same by introducing The English Education Act, 1835. All establishments of Gurukul  and  Oriental institutions like the Calcutta madrasa and Sanskrit college were stopped. That was the nail, he struck on the coffin of our all ancient wisdoms. I think, many of us may recollect the story of  the Novel “ Arogya Niketan” written by of Sri Tarashankar Bandopadhya  on a conflict of two doctors, one MBBS and the other Ayurvedic who used to predict lifespan of the patients accurately. Have we ever realized about what is the treatment strategy of modern doctors? It is to make you drug dependent for the rest of your life. If you have a heart disease, medicine is lifelong; diabetics, medicine is lifelong; glaucoma, medicine is lifelong; cancer, medicine is lifelong; High Cholesterol, medicine is lifelong; Blood Pressure, medicine is lifelong; Thyroid, medicine is lifelong, it goes on. If you pip in our current education system, you will find the cause of this modern medical system.

Sir Albert Einstein said, education is that which remains when everything that learnt in school is forgotten. If we evaluate modern education by this definition, we will find its paramount outcomes which can easily be identified as aggressive competition, pride and envy. At its best, the modern education system imparts some professional knowledge and skills, but it neglects cultivation of heart. As a result of it, our society has become the victim of twine devils, greed and shameless consumerism in all walks of life you name. Doctors, engineers, lawyer, judiciary, police, politics, poet, intellectuals, etc. are not the exceptions.  It is becoming worst day by day. As the Buddha said, nothing is permanent in this impermanent world and that is the ray of hopes we have for a change to come.  

We were taught that if wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost and if character is lost,  everything is lost. And I consider that  our health is  our wealth. We cannot enjoy our wealth, if  we have a poor health. Considering that in mind, let’s go back to our ancient wisdom of Ayurveda for our healthy life. I would like to discuss here a very common practice that has disappeared due to modern days propaganda that all forms of fat  and oils are bad for our heart and increases cholesterol level. Which is why we are now compromised badly in our health.

Since the time immemorial, Ghee has been an integral part of a “sattvic bhojan” (sound eating regimen) to annihilate side-effects of sicknesses in the body. It is the solid fat in ghee that works towards building a healthy liver and gut. 

My appeal to modern mothers to realize the importance of consuming Ghee daily by their children if they want their children to be intelligent, strong and healthy. They should remove from their mind that Ghee is unhealthy, it increases cholesterol level, etc as sometimes endorsed by some uninformed or little informed modern doctors. I wish to place on record now before you about the goodness of Ghee for maintaining our healthy life. 

Ghee is one of the most healing substances in Ayurveda.  It is viewed as medicine in Ayurveda.  In Ayurvedic literature, ghee is considered beneficial for the body. It helps to build the sapta dhatus in our body. That’s not all — it is rich in antioxidants, fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, and D. It also purifies the vata, pitta, and kapha doshas which get aggravated in our bodies. 

Now, here’s an important question — if there are so many significant uses of the consumption of ghee, which Ghee is favoured by Ayurveda? Answer is  deshi cow ghee. 

More than just clarified butter, ghee made from cow’s milk has a slightly nutty, golden flavour. It’s full of medium and short chain fatty acids including butyrates, which support a strong digestion, bile flow and a healthy microbiome.

Description in scriptures

“Ghee promotes memory, intelligence, agni, ojas, Kapha and medas.   It alleviates Vata, Pitta, poison, insanity, inauspiciousness and fever.   It is the best of all fats  and is cold, madhura rasa, madhura vipaka. It has 1000 potentialities and so, if used properly according to prescribed methods, exerts 1000 types of action. ”


 – Charaka Samhita

 An Ayurvedic classic, claims ghee is beneficial for the whole body, and recommends it as the ultimate remedy for problems stemming from the pitta dosha, such as inflammation.

 -The Sushruta Samhita

Here are some benefits of  ghee

Cow ghee is known as amritam in Ayurveda, and is packed with A2 (absence  of β-casein proteins) content, which is very useful in treating cholesterol issues.  It must be a part of your daily diet, since it improves:

Reduces acidity and improves digestion

Enhances eyesight

Helps to reduce stress, anxiety, risk of cancer, diabetes, and improves immunity

It is also anti-inflammatory in natureHelps to increase appetite and promotes flexibility.

Consumption of cow ghee is beneficial during pregnancy, but only after consulting a doctor. 

Cow ghee improves the absorption of minerals and fatty acids in the body.

In facial paralysis, cow’s ghee is introduced in nostrils through nasya therapy in panchakarma. 

It increases ojas and sattvic guna in the body. 

Ghee for weight gain -For Shukra dahatu (Ashtanga Hrudayan 16/5)

How is ghee made?

Traditional Method

Cow’s milk is boiled and cooled. Then a spoonful of curd is added to this milk and kept at room temperature overnight. The curd is then churned to extract butter from it. This butter is then heated so that the water evaporates leaving behind pure ghee.

Modern Method

Cream is separated by centrifugation and the fresh cream is heated to give pure ghee. However, this preparation gives less flavour than the traditional Ghee preparation.

Chemical composition

Chemically, ghee is a complex lipid of glycerides (usually mixed), free fatty acids, phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, fat soluble vitamins, carbonyls, hydrocarbons, carotenoids (only in ghee derived from cow milk), small amounts of charred casein and traces of calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc. It contains not more than 0.3% moisture. Glycerides constitute about 98% of the total material. Of the remaining constituents of about 2%, sterols (mostly cholesterol) occur to the extent of about 0.5%.

Ghee use in Hinduism and Buddhism

Traditionally, ghee is always made from bovine milk, as cows are considered sacred, and it is a sacred requirement in Vedicyajña and homa (fire rituals), through the medium of Agni (fire) to offer oblations to various deities. (See Yajurveda).

Fire rituals are utilized for ceremonies such as marriage and funerals. Ghee is required in Vedic worship of mūrtis (divine deities), with aarti (offering of ghee lamp) called diyā or dīpa and for Pañcāmṛta (Panchamruta) where ghee along with mishrihoneymilk, and dahi (curd) is used for bathing the deities on the appearance day of Krishna on Janmashtami, Śiva (Shiva) on Mahā-śivarātrī (Maha Shivaratri). There is a hymn to ghee. In the Mahabharata, the kaurava were born from pots of ghee.

Finding ghee pure enough to use for sacred purposes is a problem these days for devout Hindus, since many large-scale producers add salt to their product. Ghee is also used in bhang in order to heat the cannabis to cause decarboxylation, making the drink psychoactive.

In Buddhist scripture, stages of dairy production are used as metaphors for stages of enlightenment. The highest-stage product, sarpir-maṇḍa, is theorised to be ghee or clarified butter (Wikipedia)

Usages

Ghee is one of the most healing substances in Ayurveda when used appropriately.    It’s full of medium and short chain fatty acids including butyrates, which support a strong digestion, bile flow and a healthy microbiome. Research suggests it can even shut off gene expression for cancer and inflammation. Contrary to popular belief, ghee does not raise cholesterol, and is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), needed to build lean muscle mass and support weight loss. It is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, E, and K.


Ghee is taken with food for all who desire nourishment. It is best for those of Vata and Pitta constitution and especially those affected with fatigue, loss of strength, anaemia, jaundice and eye diseases. Young children, elderly and kapha individuals may enjoy ghee in moderation in small quantities.  Add ghee to the daily diet of women, especially those who are pregnant. It is said to fortify the bones and the immune system.

It’s high smoke point (485º F) makes it great for cooking. You’ll find it used in everything from traditional Indian recipes to bulletproof coffee. Enjoy it on kitchari, sautéed vegetables or even popcorn.

In Panchakarma and Ayurvedic cleansing,   ghee is used  because:

  1. It penetrates into and helps dissolve toxins in the tissues of the body. These wastes are then eliminated via the gut.
  2. Ghee increases agni // digestion, without aggravating pitta dosha.
  3. Ghee calms Pitta and Vata
  4. Ghee keeps all tissues of the body young and supple.
  5. Ghee can also be used in beauty and skin care.
  6. For dark circles: give your under-eye creams and serums a break and try ghee instead.
  7. For chapped and dark lips. Pour a drop of ghee on your fingertip and massage it gently over your lips.
  8. For dry skin: use ghee for abhyanga – apply it on your body before bath for soft and smooth skin.

How and what quantity to eat   

People of Vata and Pitta constitutions (adult) may take 1-2 spoonful of Ghee daily. Children should be given ½ spoon to 1 spoon depending upon their physic. There are five different methods of Ghee consumption as per the diseases:

  1. For all the diseases below the naval cord  such as piles, constipation, knee pain, swelling of legs, etc- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee just before the principal meals with hot water and then have your meal.
  2. For diseases around naval cord such as diseases of kidney (stone) liver disorder, Pancreas disorder, gall bladder stones, etc- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee in between the meal with hot water.
  3. For all circulatory diseases, blood related diseases, cardio-vascular diseases- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee just after the meal with hot water.
  4. For Kapha related diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, dry cough- take 1-2 spoon full of Ghee along with the meal with hot water after the meal.
  5. For all diseases of Eye-Nose-Throat, mental disorder- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee  before going to bed with hot water. One can add Triphala and honey with Ghee and may drink with hot water.

Findings of Modern Science

  • Modern science has confirmed at least a part of the ancient wisdom concerning the benefits of Ghee. One interesting finding is that the saturated fat in ghee is primarily in the form of short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are easy to digest and help to promote the production of hormones and to strengthen cellular membranes. On the contrary long chain fatty acids present in other fats and oils, are associated with a host of health problems, including blood clotting, thrombosis, and cancer.
  • Modern science tells us that ghee also harbors phenolic antioxidants, which bolster the immune system.
  • One of the qualities of Ghee that makes it particularly useful in cooking is the fact that it has a very high “smoke point.” (385 degrees F). The “smoke point” is the temperature at which an oil starts to burn. It is at this temperature also that the oil begins to oxidize and  creates the potential for cell damaging free radicals.
The last word

Ghee is nourishing and healing. Some consume it for weight reduction; others for weight gain and heart-related issues. So, accepting ghee as a part of your daily diet can be advantageous for your well-being and to fulfil well cherished desire of having healthy, strong (physically and mentally) and intellegent future generation. Young or old, no matter, add ghee in your daily use.  

Ghee has been considered immensely superior to other fats mainly because of the presence of characteristic short chain fatty acids, carrier of four fat soluble vitamins viz., A, D, E, K and essential fatty acids such as linolenic acid and  arachidonic acid.

Daily consumption of  ghee  in  an  adequate amount, imparts various health benefits such as binds toxins, enhances complexion and glow of the face and body,  a  great  rejuvenator  for  the  eyes,  increases physical and mental stamina etc. in addition to providing sustaining energy.

Since,  ghee  is  a  fat-rich  product;  therefore  natural antioxidants and  other constituents like phospholipids and protein residues etc plays major role in preventing acidity.   

Let’s remember the Health Benefits of Ghee once again:

  • Ghee lubricates the connective tissues and promotes flexibility  
  • Traditionally, the preparation has been used to promote memory, intelligence, quantity and quality of semen, and to enhance digestion. Ghee is believed to assist with digestion by allowing food to be broken down more efficiently, by stimulating digestive enzymes. 
  • In Ayurveda, ghee is also believed to enhance ojas, or “life energy.” 
  • For centuries, ghee has been considered a rasayana, which means a healing food that balances both body and mind.
  • Aged ghee—up to 100 years is even better than fresh ghee  —which treats alcoholism, epilepsy, fever, and vaginal pain.   
  • Ghee’s benefits extend to topical use as well.   Ghee as a massage base to calm sensitive pitta-type skin. 
  • Ayurvedic remedies, recommends ghee, sometimes mixed with honey, as an application for wounds, inflammation, and blisters.
  • Ghee also contains known vitamin E and beta carotene, which are known antioxidants.
  • It can cure 80 diseases of Vata; 40 diseases of Pitta and 20 diseases of Kapha constituents.

Personal Experience  

The Buddha said that knowledge does not become wisdom until it is tested within the framework of our body. I tried to convert this ancient wisdom as mine by testing it within my framework of the body. Therefore, what I expressed here is my life-time experience. Some may not agree to it and I don’t mind for it. Ultimately, it is your life and you should decide what is right for you.  Anyway, enjoy the life.

Let us end this discussion remembering always the age old saying

जबतक  जिओ सुख से जिओ I

उधर  लेके   वि घी पीओ  

Jai Hind!

Satyabrata Maiti

References:

  1. Benefits of Ghee: Why You Should Add It to Your Diet by Linda Knittel
  2. Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishan 
  3. The Indian Materia Medica  
  4. https://satyabratamaitiblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/15/ayurvedic-treatment-for-glaucoma-an-experience/
  5. https://satyabratamaitiblog.wordpress.com/2022/01/25/my-30-day-walk-in-the-path-of-vipassana-as-monk/

Disclaimer

No part of this article is my own work. Information presented in this article have been collected from various internet sources and literatures available in public domain.    

My 30-day walk in the path of Vipassana as Monk

Pagoda

Disclaimer: Everybody gives disclaimer at the end, but I am giving it at the beginning of this blog to make it clear from the mind of the readers that this is not a self-help guide for learning  Vipassana without going to a  Vipassana center.  It is only to make people aware about such a wonderful scientific technique available that can make us free from all our “Dukha” (=”suffering”, “unhappiness”, “pain”, “unsatisfactoriness” or “stress”),  if practice in all sincerity. 

Let’s understand what is Vipassana

Vipassana may be a new vocabulary to some and has no idea about what it means.  Vipassana means “special viewing” and   in the ancient Pāli language  it means   “insight”.  It is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching about how to make actual experience of the ultimate truth. Even truth (Satya) is of various kinds: “Sabhda-satya”(=sounds that seems true), “Anuman-satya (=imagination that seems true)”, “Prakat-satya (=that appears as true)”,  Saṃvṛti-satya (=empirical that common people understands which may be far away from the ultimate truth) and  Paramartha-satya (=means ultimate truth). Vipassana guides  us to see the ultimate truth  that will liberate us from “Dukha”.

The Buddha himself   experienced the ultimate truth by the practice of meditation, and therefore meditation is what he primarily taught. Not the religion that people believe. He of course talked about “Dhamma” which is not religion but the characteristic or quality of human being as all Indian literature writes “Dharama of water” or Dharama of physical matter”.   He did not establish any organized religion (Buddhaism). His words are records of his personal experience in meditation, as well as like detailed SOP of modern science in the form of instructions on how to practice in order to reach the goal he had attained in experiencing the ultimate truth.

The Buddha in his whole life targeted to remove “Dukha” from the life of human being since it is a kind of disease which is again universal and distributed irrespective of cast, creed, colour, country, rich or poor.

Let’s understand what is “Dukha”

I think this does not need much explanation or elaboration. Every human being has experience of “suffering”, “unhappiness”, “pain”, “unsatisfactoriness” or “stress” in life. It is a part and parcel of our life as well as modern life style has added more such elements in our life.  Stress related diseases are in increasing trend. What modern medical science called Psychosomatic (Psycho=mind; soma=body) diseases that was investigated and thoroughly understood by Gautama the Buddha about 2500 years ago.  He worked through his whole life to liberate people from it by distributing his wisdom gained by walking in the path of liberation. He identified presence of it in all stages of life: “Jati vi Dukha”; “Vyadhi vi Dukha”; “Jara vi Dukha” and “Maranam vi Dukha”. We all want happiness but happiness also turns to “Dukha” because of our “Avijja or Avidhya (=lack of understanding and awareness)”. Rabindranath Tagor nicely expressed this conversion from happiness to sorrow in his poem:

“সখী, ভালোবাসা কারে কয়! সে কি কেবলই যাতনাময় ।

সে কি কেবলই চোখের জল? সে কি কেবলই দুখের শ্বাস?

লোকে তবে করে কী সুখেরই তরে এমন দুখের আশ ।”

The Buddha walked like a doctor scientist the entire path that causes “Dukha” and  investigated the aetiology of “Dukha” disease, its ins and out, length and breadth from surface to core through his own bodily experience and  then discovered the method of its control ie. “Dukha Nivaran”.   He discovered

first two Noble Truths: “Dukkha-sacca” (=Suffering), and “Samudaya-sacca”(= Its origination and multiplication) which is  “Law of Dependent Origination” as given below:

Avijja (ignorance) ARISES >  Sankhara (volitional activities) ARISES

Sankhara (volitional activities) ARISES >  Vinnana (consciousness)                                                             

Vinnana (consciousness) ARISES >  Nama- rupa (mind and matter)

Nama- rupa (mind and matter) ARISES >   Salayatana (six sense doors)

Salayatana (six sense doors) ARISES > Phassa (contact)

Phassa (contact) ARISES >  Vedana (sensation)

Vedana (sensation) ARISES > Tanha (craving)

Tanha (craving) ARISES > Upadana (clinging)

Upadana (clinging) ARISES > Bhava (becoming)

Bhava (becoming) ARISES > Jati (birth)

Jati (birth) ARISES > Jara-marana (decay and death)

Thus this vicious circle of “Dukha” rolls on. In other words, the origin of each link depends upon the preceding one. As long as this chain of twelve causal relations operates, the wheel of becoming (bhava-cakka) keeps rolling, bringing nothing but  “Dukha”.

This process of cause and effect is called “Anuloma-paticcasamuppada” (Direct Law of Dependent Origination).

Every link of “Anuloma” results in “Dukkha”, suffering, as a result of avijja (=ignorance), which is at the base of every link. Thus the process of “anuloma” clarifies the first two Noble Truths: “Dukkha-sacca” (=Suffering) and “Samudaya-sacca” (= its origination and multiplication).

How to Get rid of “Dukha” or Control “Dukha” in our life

The Buddha discovered the first two novel truths and then when saw that it is a chain link of depended origination, naturally he found that  it can be stopped if we can break the chain. But like a scientist he found that all links cannot be destroyed. For example, mind and matter cannot be destroyed; similarly, six sense doors cannot be destroyed; birth cannot be destroyed.  He discovered next two laws:

“Patiloma-paticcasamuppada” (=the Law of Dependent Origination in reverse order) which clarifies the third and fourth Noble Truths, “Nirodha-sacca” (= the cessation of suffering) and “Nirodha-gamini-patipada-sacca” (= the path that leads to the cessation of suffering).

“Vedana” is the cause of “Tanha”, which gives rise to “Dukkha” and therefore, he discovered a method to convert ignorance into wisdom and with that “Vedana-nirodha, tanha-nirodho”which means complete cessation of suffering. This process of cessation is called Vipassana meditation which he was teaching in rest of his life to the people with great compassion and love.   

Let us understand what “Vedana” means and how it looks like in little details:

In Sanskrit, “Vedana” means anguish. But in Pali it means  either “feeling” or “sensation.” In general, “vedanā” refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and  associate with the consciousness.  Our primary senses are considered to be sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. All senses require one of four fundamental sensory capacities: chemoreception, photoreception, mechanoreception, or thermoreception.

In Vipassana, we start observing  “Vedana” only on the surface level of the body and gradually one can fell inside.  Whatever you feel on the surface is called sensation.  It can be felt as itching, pain, heat, cold, numbness, trickling, pressure, heaviness, throbbing, etc., even some sensation, you cannot even name. Therefore, never search for anything different as sensation.  When we practise awareness to sensation and equanimity together, that leads to liberation from suffering.

Understanding of our own nature and understanding achieve by direct experience of truth deep within ourselves, that is what the Buddha called “yathā-bhūta-ñāna- dassana”, the wisdom that arises on observing reality as it is not as we like it be. With this wisdom we can emerge from suffering and every sensation that occurs will give rise only to the understanding of impermanence.

Process of Vipassana Meditation:

It has three segments such as “Seella” (=Foundation); Samadhi (=Concentration) and Panna (=Wisdom).

My journey as Monk:

Vipassana is taught in India in various Vipassana centers established by the S. N. Goenka who brought this technique from Burma where it was preserved in “Guru-Shishya” tradition in pristine purity. It is taught first as 10-day course and thereafter  one is eligible for other advanced courses such as Satipatthana Sutta Courses, long courses of 20-day; 30-day; 45-day and 60-day.  One can ask me, how it can be called as Monk. Genuine question deserves genuine answer. It is so because Monk’s life style is being followed as long as you are in the course. A Monk gets his food from others donation; they don’t interact with society; they devote entire day for their practice and they follow Shilla-Samadhi-Panna with all seriousness. I joined a 30-day Vippasana course as Monk in Dhamma Khetta Vipassana International Meditation Centre  (Address:Bus Stop, Ibrahim-patnam Road, Nagarjuna Sagar Rd, Gurram Guda, Hyderabad, Telangana 500070).

Dhamma Khetta Vipassana International Meditation Centre  

The centre came into existence in 1976- the first centre to conduct a course in this tradition during 4-15 September, 1976. Goenkaji named it Dhamma Khetta and he used to take two courses in a year in initial years until assistant teachers were appointed. The center was started on two acres land but gradually many people came forward and donated land to the center. It is now on about seven acres of land. A spacious Dhamma Hall for about 150 students and a Pagoda having  125 cells  were built.  It has a mini hall for about 50 students, another hall for 30 students and another one for 75 students were built.  About 77 rooms for male and 60 rooms for female accommodation are available. The kitchen having modern gadgets and dining halls in both the sides are available.  There are residences available for 2 female Assistant Teachers (ATs)  and 4 male ATs.

Dhamma Sevak (Sudhakar Reddy), Center Teacher ( Mr Pidugu Ravindra Reddy), Course Teacher (Dr. S. N. Saha) under Bodhi Tree that was brought by Goenka ji from Bodh Gaya
Meditation Hall
Residential (Female and Male) area
Kitchen and dinning space with quality of breakfast

The centre is 1-km away from the main road (which leads to Nagarjuna Sagar).  The airport is about 34 kms away and the various train stations in Hyderabad are between 20 to 22 kms away.

One interesting point that I could note about the center after we broke Nobel Silence is that all the staff engaged in the service of the center  have attended at least one 10-day course. I found that some have also attended long course, Satipatthana Sutta Courses, etc and therefore, service has a different perspective of  kindness and love. 

Staff (Kitchen and Field)

14-December-2021:

I reached Hyderabad airport at about 2:00 pm from Anand-Vadodara. My friend, Mr Udayan Ganguly kindly provided me a car in the airport to facilitate my timely arrival in the meditation center for registration. I reached the center by 3:30 pm. The Assistant Teacher of the course, Dr Satya Naryan Saha came in the counter and facilitated my process of registration and thereafter dropped me in my room. A small room with a bed and attached toilet and bathroom. A little Varandha in the front. The landscape is of forest having lot of trees but predominantly,  coconut in male residential side and bamboo in the female residential side.  At 5:00 pm there was a   bell ring for light snacks. At 6:00 pm we were introduced to two Dhamma Sevaks  and were shown to   various facilities that we were going to use time to time during our stay. By 7:00 pm we started the programme by taking our oath for observing strict silence by shutting down our mouth (no communication by any form, verbal or body gesture) and strict follow of 5-precepts (no killing, no stealing, no lying, no sexual misconduct and no intoxicants). We were given various instructions for practicing  Anapan (=Samadhi =concentration) and programme ended by 9:00 pm.

Vijay Kumar and Sudhakar Reddy (Dhamma Sevaks)

15-December-2021:

Our day started at 4:00 am by a bell. We all sat in meditation either in cell allotted to individuals or in the meditation hall at 4:30 am and continued till 6:30 am. The schedule for the day was as follows till 12-January-2022.  

Work Schedule of each day

TimeActivity
4.00 hrsMorning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 hrsMeditate in the Hall or in Cell
6:30-8:00 hrsBreakfast break
8:00-9:00 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
9:00-11:00 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
11:00-12:00 hrsLunch Break
12:00-13:00 hrsRest and interview with teacher
13:00-14:30 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
14-30-15:30 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
15:30-17:00 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
17:00-18:00 hrsBreak for lime-water
18:00-19:00 hrsGroup meditation in the hall
19:00-20:00 hrsDiscourse
20:00-21:00 hrsMeditation in Hall or in Cell
21:00 hrsRetire to your own room

We continued our Anapana (Samadhi) for ten days and there after we were given Vipassana for practice with insight of its various aspects through discourse in the evening.  Some of my experiences are as given below:

  1. More and more I was going dip into the process, I was experiencing truthfulness of some of the Buddha’s words through my body.  For example dhamma of the universe-nothing is permanent. Our body is not permanent, our mind is not permanent and whatever are the products of our body and mind are also not permanent. Therefore, our reactions to all these are also not permanent and we do because of our old habit pattern of mind which is due to our unawareness about the nature of these products.
  2. Modern genetics revealed the  hereditary pattern of the body but mind is an important segment of life that remained untouched. And according to the Buddha, mind has the ability to create wheel of life and death. The mind is governed by defilement (Bikar) that is accumulated in life after life.   
  3. The Buddha has talked only two things “Dhukha” which is an universal truth  and how to eliminate “Dukha”.
  4. His prescription is “Sabbe Sampojano”.  “Sampajanna” means  the Constant Thorough Understanding of Impermanence.
  5. He explained it to others according to the understanding of the receiver. In the above statement, it becomes clear that one is “sampajana” only when one realizes the characteristic of impermanence, and that too on the basis of experience of sensation (vidita vedana). If it is not realized through vedana, then it is merely an intellectualisation, because our fundamental contact with the world is based on sensation. It is directly through sensation that experience occurs. The statement further indicates that sampajana lies in experiencing the impermanence of vedana, vitakkavedana, vitakka (the initial application of the mind on an object) and sanna (perception).
  6. Here we should note that impermanence of vedana is to be realized first because according to the Buddha-Vedana-samosarana sabbe dhamma. -Everything that arises in the mind is accompanied by sensation.
  7. I experienced painful sensation coming from nowhere and passing way after some duration and again coming and again going. It gave me an insight of  Vedana-samosarana sabbe dhamma.
  8. Eight-fold path in life is important and to be followed such as right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Eight-fold path is simple yet powerful guide for all individuals including people in high places, political and business leaders, scientist, bureaucrats and professionals. 
  9. The Buddha talked about the  middle path which is wrongly interpreted by many ignorant. Middle path does not mean to compromise with Shilla and eight-fold path. I remember, one of my known persons always tells that 100% following Seela is not possible, as  for making ornaments, we need 22 carat gold not 100% gold. We always try to find justification of not doing the things 100% for our comfort by misinterpreting words of great people.  
  10. I experienced that one has to battle with his/her own nagging mind who brings past references again and again for the future escaping the present.
  11. There is no express or bullet trains in this path to reach the final destination of enlightenment. One has to travel step by step in his/her own pace.
  12. Similarly, there is no high speed washing machine for cleaning our dirty “Bikar”. One has to clean one by one when it comes to surface through equanimity.
  13. How much time will take to reach the goal, that should be left to the nature since we do not know how much load we have and how much efficient we are?

12-January-2022

At 9:00 to 10:00 am “Metta” was given to all and we were allowed to break the silence.

13-January-2022

At   10:00 am we were made free to contact our kith and kens. 

 14-January-2022

 After final Metta starting at 5:30 to 6:30 am and the we had our breakfast and left the center as per the departure schedule of individuals.

About my batch of meditators

When we were made free from Nobel Silence, I tried to know who were my fellow meditator. I find that people from variety of walks attended the course. In total eleven meditators completed the course and they were from different walks of life such as school  teacher, business man, retired geologist, retired professional, Engineer, Agricultural scientist, from actors family,  veterinary doctor, Vipassana AT, etc. Age profile was between 40-85 years. It was amazing to see the enthusiasms and seriousness of the senior meditators. I now feel that why I made so late entry. Then remembered the discourse of Goenkaj where he was repeatedly reminded that everything should be left to the time of nature. Starting sooner or later, itself is a wonderful achievement.

Female and Male Meditators with Dhamma Sevaks of long course with the ATs (Ms Rudra Narmada and Dr. S. N. Saha)

I could also interact with few female meditators on 13-January-2022 and astonished to see three young meditators who have completed 2-3 long courses before coming to this course. One was dentist and other one was IT professional, third-one, I have no idea. When asked whom will you marry, the  Dentist said with great clarity that if a boy having faith on this tradition, she will choose. The   female meditators out-numbered the male in our batch.

Senior most meditators of Male group, S. Sathy Reddy (85), T. Tama Rao (75) and Shivanna (67) except me
Teacher with young meditators

Wisdom gained during 30-day course

  1. We are in a world of illusion and our perception are also unreal. In the unreal world every product will be unreal.
  2. We have no control over what is happening around us.
  3. World is a stage where everything is arising and passing way.
  4.  We need to take action not reaction.

Epilogue

In the middle of the street, the Buddha taught Vipassana to a recluse and that is our final goal to achieve. He spoke only a few words, but those words contained the entire teaching:

“In your seeing, there should be only seeing; in your hearing nothing but hearing; in your smelling, tasting, touching nothing but smelling, tasting, touching; in your cognizing, nothing but cognizing.”

When contact occurs through any of the six bases of sensory experience, there should be no evaluation, no conditioned perception. Once perception starts evaluating any experience as good or bad, one sees the world in a distorted way because of one’s old blind reactions. In order to free the mind from all conditioning, one must learn to stop evaluating on the basis of past reactions and to be aware, without evaluating and without reacting.

Acknowledgement:

  1. I am grateful to Dr. S. N. Saha, my senior in the profession and now AT for dragging me in this path step by step.
  2. Dr. Jagan Mohan, one of my IIHR colleagues who gave me the first information about Vipassan center opening in Bangalore in 1997 that stimulated me to take first course in 1997.
  3. I acknowledge my mico- and macro-environments in my family and office when I was in IIHR that pushed me to search this path.
  4. I am thankful to  Mr Pidugu Ravindra Reddy, Center In-charge teacher for giving me the time for   discussion on various issues of the center and allowing me for taking few photographs of the cenrter’s facilities.
  5. I thank the Dhamma Khetta Vipassana International Meditation Centre and its wonderful kind-hearted staff for making my stay and meditation peaceful.
Our special thanks to this boy, Alok for his remarkable service to all mediators from the day one to the end.

Satyabrata Maiti

Trekking to Tungnath temple, Chandrashila and Deoriatal: a thrilling experience

Photo copyright: Satyabrata Maiti

We decided to go to Tunganath temple, Chandrasila and Deoriatal trekking during middle of October since the monsoon would withdraw by that time and the journey to the hills would be safe and enjoyable. Weather also would be moderate. Finally, after lot of discussions with our travel organizer, e-Uttaranchal we finalized the itinerary as given below:

17-Oct-2021 (Sunday): Ahmedabad – Dehradun airport; night stay at Rudraprayag

18-Oct-2021 (Monday): Stay at Sari Village

19-Oct-2021 (Tuesday): Trekking to Deoriatal and night stat at Duggalbhitta (Chopta)

20-Oct-2021 (Wednesday): Trekking to Tunganath and Chandrashila summit and back

21-Oct-2021 (Thursday): Trekking  to Ansuyadevi and Chopta Mandal 

22-Oct-2021 (Friday): Chopta to Rishikesh and night halt

23-Oct-2021 (Saturday): Rishikesh –  Dehradun –  Ahmedabad airport and back to Anand

Tunganath Temple

Tunganath peacefully decorated on the Chandranath Parvat is the highest Shiva temple in the world ( about 12057 ft amsl) and also the highest Panch Kedar temple in Uttarakhand. 

It is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. Tunganath is  considered to be more than 1,000 years old.

Out of all the temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the cluster of five shrines of Shiva is the most revered. They are known as Panch Kedars. According to Mahabharata, when Pandavas were searching for Lord Shiva, he turned himself into a bull to avoid revealing. However, when Bheema tried to capture the bull, it disappeared and later reappeared in body parts at five locations, presently known as PanchKedar. These are as follows in spiritual order.

The hump reappeared at Kedarnath (1stKedar); the navel in Madhyamaheshwar (2ndKedar) ; the arms  in Tunganath (3rdKedar); the face at Rudranath (4thKedar) and the hair and head emerging in Kalpeshwar (5thKedar). It is believed that the “Pandavs” built temples at these five places for worshiping Shiva.

Many devotees of Lord Shiva take part in Panch Kedar Yatra to all the five Shiva temples mentioned above.  Panch Kedar trek is also very popular among people who like the thrill of trekking to the holy places hovering in the mountains. We are also among those thrill loving trekkers and always in search of  undisturbed/lest disturbed nature and its beauty.

Chandrashila Summit:

About another 1.5 km trek from Tunganath Temple leads to Chandrashila summit which is about 13000 ft amsl and offers a majestic 360 degree view of snow clad Himalayan peaks including Trishul, Nanda devi, Kedar and Chaukumba. 

Deoriatal:

Deoria Tal is a lake at an altitude of 7315 ft amsl which is about 3 km from the villages of Mastura and Sari on the Ukhimath-Chopta road in Uttarakhand. It has heavily forested with lush green surroundings and snow-covered mountains of Chaukumba in the backdrop.

Caution:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

At altitudes above 10,000 ft the chances of being hit by AMS are real. Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker. Even experienced trekkers can get affected. 

Fitness helps in making your trek easier. But do not forget that even a fit person climbing too high too soon experiences equal risk of developing AMS. Some symptoms to watch out for: (a) Persistent headache (b) Feeling fatigue or weak (c) Feel nauseous or vomit (d) Feeling dizzy or light headed, often while sitting up or standing suddenly (e) You don’t feel like eating, you have a loss of appetite (f) You don’t sleep very well at night.

Journey begins

17-Oct-2021 (Sunday)

As scheduled we started our journey from Anand at 7:10 am humming the song “Amar Ei Poth Chola tei Anondo”and reached Ahmedabad Airport by 8:30 am. Flight also left the airport 10 min early at 10:30 am. I was happy with the early departure. Flight reached Dehradun airport 10 min early. After formalities of vaccination check-up, we came out of the airport and called Pradeep (our driver) to come to the pick-up area. Rain started slowly. We left the airport by 1:00 pm to reach Rudraprayag for night stay. Traffic became stand still after driving for about 10 km. We reached Rishikesh police check post by 5:00 pm and got the shock when Police said that there was red alert and no vehicle would be allowed further. We tried to enquire from other sources also but could not get information. I tried to book hotel nearby but could not find. We wanted two rooms but either not available or too costly. Finally, I booked two rooms and a dormitory for the driver in  an Oyo hotel (Spot on 79585 Hotel Tapovan Valley) about 1.6 km away. We settled there by 6:00 pm. After taking some snacks and tea, we went to Police station by walking to enquire once again about the situation. We were given the same answer. This time with one more additional information that the weather might turned to be like previous Kedarnath disaster. The CM was monitoring the situation and he had announced red alert. We finally, returned back to the hotel. Rain was not heavy in Rishikesh. Mind was running around about what to do. At a point I was thinking of abandoning the trip and returned. I contacted my friend,  Dr. G B Raturi who was in Dehradun, to get some authentic information about the situation. He also confirmed about the red alert and discouraged me to cancel the trip. He advised that the alert was for three days and I had time up to 19-Oct-21. Even if we could reach Chopta on 20-Oct-2021, we could trek to Tunganath and Chandrashilla on 21-Oct-2021 and return to Rishikesh on 22-Oct-2021 as scheduled. Finally, we decided to do so and also to take a chance on the next day morning to go to Rudraprayag.

While Landing
Weather changing to rain
Started Raining

18-Oct-2021 (Monday)

I got up at 6:00 am and had tea. At 9:00 am we had our breakfast and then went with the vehicle upto police station to see the situation. We found that some vehicles were allowed to go. We talked to an inspector and he told that we could go upto Rudraprayag. Hearing this we returned back to the hotel and checked out quickly and left Rishikesh by 11:00 am. Upto Srinagar we went smoothly, Pradeep (driver)  was hoping to take us to Sari village for our night stay as scheduled. “Man proposes and God disposes”. After crossing about 10 km from Srinagar, we found there was a big traffic jam on the road. I walked to see the situation and found that there was a huge landslide ahead. Fall was still going on. Pradeep also enquired and found that it was not possible to clear the road even by next day. He contacted the Travel organizer, Mr. Sandeep of  e-Uttaranchal  and he was kind enough to manage two rooms in IVY hill top resort in Srinagar where we stayed in  our last trip to Valley of Flowers. While thanking God for this arrangement, I was remembering that I wanted to avoid staying here once again in this trip since I wanted to reach Sari village early. Hence decided to stay in Rudraprayag. Man can plan but not necessary that planning will be always right.  God knows what is right and therefore He/She brings changes in our planning which we may not like at that point of time  but at the end we find it that it is good for us.  With this understanding we checked in the resort by 4:30 pm. We ordered for some sandwich and mixed vegetable pakoda with tea.   We were hungry and enjoyed the food they served. We had our dinner by 8:30 pm and slept with a hope that we shall be in a position to reach Chopta by the next day.

We encountered landslide
Encountered road block
River overflowing
Landslide forced us to return to Srinagar
Anxious co-trekker

19-Oct-2021 (Tuesday) 

I got up at 5:00 am and found that sky was clear. We went out and took some photographs. We decided to leave early by 9:00 am. Before that we finished our breakfast and checked out by 9:30 am. Pradeep (Driver) enquired and found that road had not yet been cleared. He took an alternate route via Kharshu which was about 35 km longer. We left our every burden on Tunganathji and started enjoying the scenic view on our road side. After about  15 km we encountered a muddy patch of about 10 m where vehicles were struggling to cross. We got down from the car and Pradeep  somehow crossed the patch with the help of other drivers who pushed  the vehicle from the rare side. At about 11:15 am we touched the Rudraprayag high way near Daridevi temple. As per the convention, we went to Dhari mata for taking permission to visit Deva Bhumi and left the place by 11:40 am. We reached Tilwara at 12:30 pm and took diversion to Chopta at 1:10 pm. We took a road to Mukku math and enjoyed the route which was full of flora and fauna. We stopped over in Mukku math where Tunganathji stays during  winter months.   We offered our puja and then proceeded to Duggal Bhitta for our night stay in Mayadeep resort. Road journey was very scenic and took lot of photographs. We reached Mayadeep resort at about 5:00 pm.  The resort was surrounded by dense forest of Deodar trees and lush green meadows.   

 At about 5:30 pm Pradeep came running to take us to show beautiful unobstructed view of Himalayas peaks just few meters away from our cottage. We went out and photographed the snow peaks till it was dark.   Our guide, Dinesh came to meet us and told that we should leave tomorrow by 8:00 am in the morning. The place was very cold and we had our dinner in the room. We retired by 8:30 pm since there was no electricity except limited solar power supply.   We got all our camera batteries and mobiles charged through the caretaker since there was no provision for charging in the cottage.

Srinagar from IVY hill top on 19th Oct (Morning)
Hill tops from the resort
Hill tops from the resort
Hill tops from the resort
From the resort
Some wild flower on our way
Our Car
Dhari Devi Temple
Dhari Mata
Profusely flowering tree
Fruits of Trichosanthes cucumeroides (Ser.) Maxim.
Flower of Zingiber chrysanthum Roscoe

Zingiber chrysanthum Roscoe is a traditional medicinal plant species extensively occurring in Mukhi math   path way, Uttarakhand. Sparkling red coloured flower mesmerized the viewer.

A typical village house roof
Water falls on our way
Entrance of Mukhi Matth
Mukku Math Temple
In Temple complex
In Temple complex
Young friends from the village greeted us
Road from Mukhi Muttah to Chopta
Arum maculatum is a woodland flowering plant species in the family Araceae. It is widespread across the Himalaya.
Road to Chopta
Waterfalls on the way
Waterfalls on the way
Lophura leucomelanos

Kalij pheasant

Description

The kalij pheasant is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills.   Males are rather variable depending on the subspecies involved, but all have an at least partially glossy bluish-black plumage, while females are overall brownish.

Scientific nameLophura leucomelanos

Lophura leucomelanos
Resort where we stayed
Our cottage in forest surroundings

20-Oct-2021 (Wednesday) 

I got up by 6:00 am, got ready to have early breakfast and departed the resort by 8:00 am.  While travelling in car, we went on taking photographs.     

We reached Chopta by 8:30 am from where trekking starts. Slowly we started to climb up. It was about 2.5 km trek to Tunganath temple. I reached the temple by 11:00 am and light was not good for taking photographs. I spent about two hours in the temple complex and we had lunch together outside the temple. At 1:00 pm we started trekking to Chandrashila summit although it was not having photo worthy clear sky to capture the peaks. I reached  the summit at about 2:00pm. We waited there hoping against hope for at least some clear view of the peaks. But it was not possible. Gradually the light was falling low due to heavy clouds and fog. We left the summit at 4:00 pm and reached Tunganath at 4:30 pm and stopped there for a while. We met many travellers (95% of the visitors were from Bengal) and had chat with them.  We reached back to the base by 5:40 pm. In between there was drizzling and it was foggy. We spent some time in a tea stall run by a local women and her son from Mukhi Matth area. They run the stall for six  months and return to their village when winter sets. We finally reached our resort by 6:00 pm. I was too tired and slept until food was served. After taking dinner I slept like a dead wood.  

About Tunganat Temple
Pathway to Tunganath temple
Rhododendron trees
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
Tunganath Temple
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
Chandrashila covered with cloud
Temple in Chandrashila summit
At Chandrashila summit
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
On the way to Chandrashila
Path from the top
At Chandrashila summit, Pradeep and Dinesh
Cloud did not allow us to see the peaks
Spot light effect
A small rat enjoying the scenic view
A welcome smile of tea stall owner

21-Oct-2021 (Thursday) 

I got up at 5:00 am and got ready to leave the place by 6:00 am as per the advice of the guide so that we could see some birds and animals on our way. However, our car gave trouble in getting started and we lost some time. In the mean time we went out and took some photographs. We could also watch birds activity in the forest.  Driver arranged a battery from other driver and got it started. We could leave the place by 6:40 am and reached the base of the trekking site to Deoriatal at about 7:00 am. Slowly we reached the Deoriatal by 9:40 am which was about 2.5 km trek . I took lot of photographs of birds and trees.  The lake  was  amazing in which Himalayan peaks were reflected like a mirror. My temptation of taking photographs went on increasing one shot after another.  We spent time till 12:40 pm and then had some noodles and tea. We slowly returned and on the way we  went to Harihar temple which was about 500 m above the base.  It was also an  ancient temple. The Pujari explained us the details of idol and also told that the temple was from Pandava’s time We reached back to the base at 3:40 pm and Maydeep by 4:00 pm. I  took rest in the cottage.

Sunrise makes the Himalaya in golden hue
Sunrise makes the Himalaya in golden hue
Sunrise makes the Himalaya in golden hue
Trekking starting point for Deoriatal
Wild flower on the way to Deoriatal
Kalij pheasant
Kalij pheasant
Kalij pheasant
View of Chaukhamba peaks
Deoriatal view
Reflection of Chaukumba in Deoriatal
Reflection of Chaukumba in Deoriatal
Reflection of Himalayan peaks in Deoriatal
My fellow trekkers
My fellow trekker
Flowers on our way back from Deoriatal
View from the top
A View
What a natural smile of a shopkeeper
Stellagama is a monotypic genus of agamid lizard, containing the single species Stellagama stellio.
Agama is a genus of small-to-moderate-sized, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards.

Nicandra physalodes is a species of in subfamily Solanoideae of the nightshade family. It has been adopted into the traditional medicine. Traditionally it is used as Analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge and its regular use also increases bodily vigour. It is also used in the treatment of contagious disorders, toothache, and intestinal pain from worms and in impotence.

Harihar Temple on the way back

22-Oct-2021 (Friday) 

I got up early,  went around and took very good photographs of birds. After breakfast at 8:00 am we left the resort by 8:30 am for going down to Rishikesh.  We crossed Vijaynagar Agastyamuni at 10:20 am, Tilwara at 10:35 am, Rudraprayagsngam at 10:50 am and  Srinagar at 12:10 pm. We had lunch at Dhanveer hotel, Moolayagaon at 1:00 pm where we took the lunch in our last trip also. The lady owner recognised us and served us with love and care. We reached Rishikesh in Tapovan area at 3:45 pm and hotel Laxmi Yellow at 4:00 pm. Preedep dropped us and left by 4:30 pm. After taking some rest for about 15-20 min, we went out to Laxaman Jhula and roamed around till evening. We enjoyed wonderful sunset standing on the Laxaman Jhula.  We returned back to the hotel. Since there was no food arrangement, we had to go out  for dinner.   

White-throated laughingthrush
White-throated laughingthrush
Eurasian jay
Eurasian jay
Yellow-billed blue magpie
Yellow-billed blue magpie
Anaphalis (Astereraceae)
A jolly village women showing her talent of acting
Acting made one of the fellow members of the flock to burst into laugh: What a spontaneous beautiful expression !
Rudraprayag
Sunset in Laxman Jhula

23-Oct-2021 (Saturday) 

We got up by 5:00 am and went to the Ghat for taking photographs. We spent about 2 hrs and then returned back to hotel. WE had our  breakfast outside with puri sabji. We left the hotel at 10:30 am and reached the  airport at 11:00 am. Flight was before time and reached Ahmedabad by 3:30 pm. Reached Anand by 5:30 pm. Mind was full with  the experience of the journey which was moving like a kaleidoscope. New spirit for the next visit was raising its head in the subconscious mind. “May God gives us the strength and support for our next trip” with this prayer I slept early.

Laxman Jhula in the morning
At Ghat
Temple
At Ghat

Acknowledgement:

  1. Dr. G. B. Raturi for his timely advise and mental support with experienced wisdom.
  2. My Co-trekker, for her cooperation and cool support in changing scenario of adverse climatic change. 
  3. Mr. Sandeep,   e-Uttranchal for the support in arranging alternate stay arrangements in our nature disrupted itinerary.
  4. Mr. Pradeep, Driver for his support in partially completing the trip.
  5. Mr. Dinesh, Guide for being with us in the trip.  
  6. On line resources were used for the write up.   
The Author: Satyabrata Maiti

A trip to valley of flowers in Uttrakhand in July 2021

Photo credit: Satyabrata Maiti

One fine morning in the month of June end, Geetha who was my travel companion in Kedarnath, Kalias and Mansarovar trekking trip came and expressed that let’s go to Himalaya again. After 2019 we have not gone anywhere due to COVID pandemic. Her interest is to visit ancient temples in Himalaya and my interest is to see the nature.  Our interest did not clash because, all ancient temples in Uttarakhand are in the lap of least disturbed nature. I enjoy walking in nature while going to  such temples.  After lot of discussions we decided to venture Valley of flowers and HemKund Sahib since other temples are closed to public due to COVID situation.    

Visiting Valley of Flowers was my long desire but somehow, it was not materialized.  I decided this  visit this year considering I  am ageing  slowly and do not know when there will be a full stop. When I expressed our plan  before some of my friends, my old friend, Subir (Ghosh) expressed his desire too but somehow he could not make it. I started my home work for the trip and booking.  I tried first to book our trip through Garwahal Mandal Vikas Nigam, but they did not respond. Then I saw an advertisement of e-Uttranchal and sent them my queries. I got their response immediately. In such trips they insist to share the night hotel accommodation to reduce the cost. I had to tell them that we are fellow trackers and need separate night accommodation rooms and also since  their trip starts from Joshimath, I had to tell them to make pick up arrangement from Jolly Grant Airport at Derhadun to Josihimath with a night stay at Srinagar because our flight reaching time was at 1:00 pm.  Mr. Sandeep Bisht (M:9891225211) was kind enough to understand our requirements and made an itinerary for us as given below. 

eUttaranchal Travel Network ! 

Guest DetailsName: Mr. Satyabrata Maiti (9408035761) 

Booking Confirmation 

PAN: AAFCE2608C 

GST: 05AAFCE2608C1Z9 

Date of Arrival: 24thJuly Date of Departure: 30th July 

Adult: 02
Valley of Flowers Tour – Day Wise Itinerary 

Day 01: Pickup from Dehradun Airport and Drive to Srinagar (125kms) 

Day 02: Drive from Srinagar to Joshimath (150kms drive). Stay in Himalayan Abode Homestay, 

Day 03: Joshimath to Govindghat (22kms drive). Govindghat to Ghanghria (13 kms trek). 

Day 04: Valley of Flowers (5kms trek one way). Stay in Ghangharia 

Day 05: Hemkund Sahib (6kms trek one way). Stay in Ghangharia. 

Note: Hemkund Sahib remains closed for tourists as of now. If it remains closed, we will visit Valley of Flowers on 02 consecutive days. 

Day 06: Ghanghria to Govindghat (13kms trek). Drive from Govindghat to Badrinath. (Possible if Char Dham is open by then). We drive back to Joshimath at night. 

Day 07: Badrinath / Joshimath – Haridwar 

Accommodation in Hotels 

24th July: IVY Top Resort, Srinagar (Single Sharing)


25th July & 29th July: Himalayan Abode, Joshimath (Single Sharing) 

26th, 27th & 28th July – Nanda Lokpal / Valley of Flowers Holiday Homes (Single Sharing) 

Includes 

  • 6 nights premium accommodation on as per itinerary (2N Joshimath, 3N Ghangharia, 1N Srinagar)  
  • Veg and egg meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Snacks and Dinner) for the trip duration as per itinerary  
  • Entry fee for Valley of Flowers as applicable to Indian nationals  
  • Fully escorted trek with fluent English speaking license holder local  trekking guide (01 guide)  
  • Charges for mules for trekking client’s soft luggage (1 piece of soft luggage, max 10 kg, per client)  
  • VOF 6N7D Deluxe Package: Rs. 25500 per person including 5% GST  
  • Swift Dzire (07 Days): Rs. 20000 (all inclusive) Cab Number: UK07TB4639
Driver Details: Pradeep Jiwadi (9720924265)  (Pickup from Airport on Day 1, Drop to Airport/Haridwar on Day 07) 

Total Tour Amount 

Rs. 71,000/- 

Valley of flowers lies deep inside in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand

It is believed to have been discovered in 1931, when three British mountaineers – led by Frank S Smythe – lost their way and landed upon this spectacular valley. Attracted by the beauty of this place they named it the “Valley of Flowers”.

At 3352 to 3658 meters above sea level, the gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 km2 and it is about 8 km long and 2 km wide. The park lies completely in the temperate alpine zone. Both parks are encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (223,674 ha) which is further surrounded by a buffer zone (5,148.57 km2). Nanda Devi National Park Reserve is in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Entry to Valley of Flowers opens at 7.00 am every day and last entry is allowed till 2.00 pm. You should start back around 1 pm so as to reach back by 5.00 pm. Though the Valley is beautiful in May, June and September. But for maximum number of flowers in July and August are most preferred months.

The Valley of Flowers is generally open on June 1st till end of September, every year and is the best time to see the valley in full bloom. The rest of the time, it’s a snow laid meadows and closed for the year. It is known for its natural flower bed that blossoms in monsoon.   

The valley is believed to have approximately 520 species of plants, out of which, 498 are flowering plants. The Valley of Flowers was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005.

As Valley of Flowers trek is quite demanding, therefore tourists should be physically and mentally fit for the trek. The valley of flowers trek is well-defined and well paved. Although it is steep at many places, but except the day you go for trek to valley itself. Of course you can hire basket (locally called “Palki”) to reduce the difficulty level of the trek.  

The Trekking starting point is Govindghat. One can reach Govindghat from Joshimath by car. No vehicles are allowed thereafter. Some local small jeeps can take you upto Polani which is 5km from Govindghat. From Polani one has to walk or can hire pony to reach Ghangaria (12 km).

Ghangaria – VoF – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km) new route 

 Ghangaria –   Hemkund Sahib – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)

Suggested Itinerary for Valley of Flowers 

  1. Day 1– Haridwar/ Rishikesh / Dehradun– Joshimath 
  2. Day 2– Joshimath – Govindghat Trek start place – Ghangaria (Trek – 5 km* + 12 km); *Jeep is also available
  3. Day 3–  Ghangaria – VoF – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)
  4. Day 4– (Optional) Ghangaria – Hemkund Sahib (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)
  5. Day 5– Ghangaria – Joshimath 
  6. Day 6– Joshimath – Haridwar/Rishikesh/Dehradun

We started our journey on 24-July-2021 from Anand, Gujarat

24-July-2021 (Saturday): 

Geetha came to my place at 7:30 am with the car and driver and picked me up. We reached Ahemedabad airport at about 9:10 am and left Ahmedabad for Dehradun airport named Jolly Grant airport at about 1:00 pm. There were formalities in the airport for RT-PCR checking. Mr. Pradeep, the driver of the car that we hired reported us in the parking lot when we were through with the formalities and left for Srinagar at about 1:20 pm. On the way we had our lunch in a road side hotel. We crossed Rishikesh at 1:55 pm and Devaprayag at 4:30 pm. Reached Srinagar by 5:00 pm. We purchased two umbrellas expecting rains although we had our raincoats. But I wanted an umbrella which will give me a cover to my camera when I take photographs even when it may be raining. I did the same trick in our Kedarnath trekking and it was very effective. Finally we reached our hotel (IVY Hilltop Resort) at 5:20 pm which was about 2.5 km away in a hill top from where whole Srinagar was visible. It is a beautiful resort having mountain peaks around and river below. Hotel is also surrounded by mango trees and a beautiful view of surroundings. I spent time in the outside courtyard and took some sunset photographs. We had our dinner at 9:00 pm and called it a day. 

Air borne before landing in Deheradun airport

Air borne before landing in Deheradun airport

Skyline at Sunset in Srinagar
An evening view of Srinagar from the IVY Hilltop Resort
Dawn at IVY Hilltop Resort
IVY Hilltop Resort at Srinagar

25-July-2021 (Sunday):

I got up as usual at 4:30 am and went outside sitting place. I could not take sunrise photographs because of cloudy weather. However, took some random photographs. We had our breakfast with Aloo-paronthan and left the resort at 9:20 am.  There were road blocks due to landslides. Day was clear and warm.  We crossed Karnaprayag at 12:30 pm and thereafter, we visited Dharidevi Mandir which is situated in middle of the river. Dhari Devi temple is located inside  the Alaknanda River between Srinagar and Rudraprayag. The temple is home to the upper half of the idol of the goddess Dhari, while the lower half of the idol is located in Kalimath, where she is worshipped as a manifestation of the Goddess Kali.

She is considered to be the guardian deity of Uttarakhand and is revered as the protector of the Char Dham’s.  Her shrine is one of 108 Shakti Sthals in India, as numbered by Srimad Devi Bhagwat. Fortunately, this temple was opened and we spent some time there. 

We had our lunch at Piplakoti at 2:00 pm. Reached Joshimath and visited Narasimhamoorthy temple at 4:00 pm. I took some good photographs of the temple. Thereafter reached our hotel, Himalayan Abode home stay at 4:30 pm. Hotel was also in a nice location. Opposite to it is having a big hillock with zig zag roads.  We found there were three couples who would also visit VoF and booked through e-Uttaranchal. Two couples were from Vadodara. 

Alakananda River

Dharidevi Mandir inside Alakananda River
Dharidevi Mandir inside Alakananda River
Narasimhamoorti Templeat Joshimath
Narashimhamoorti Templeat Joshimath
A view from our hotel, Himalyan Abode Homestay at Joshimath
A view from our hotel, Himalyan Abode Homestay at Joshimath

26-July-2021 (Monday):

We had our breakfast early and left the hotel at 7:45 am with lunch pack. Mr Mayank, the guide came with us in our car. Other fellows travelled in a different car upto Govindghat. From Govindghat we were transferred to a small jeep. Our luggages were handed over to pony for carrying. We reached Pulna which is about 5 km from Govindghat. View was very beautiful. Lot of waterfalls were visible. I took some photographs from the running Jeep. We reached Pulna by 9:30 am. We started trekking from Pulna to Gangaria (12km). We reached Gangaria at about 5:30 pm. On the way we had our lunch and also real festive photography of scenic beauty of forest around and flora. Rain started by the time we approached Gangaria. On the way we met lot of other fellow visitors and I freely become uncle of many. Our Vadodara fellow visitors went to stay in tent camp. We reached the hotel, Nandan Lokpal and checked in 203 and 204 rooms. I took tea first and then hot water bath. Hotel boys were  from UP and Nepal. There was oil massage facility also. It was pretty cold, about 12oC. We had our dinner served in the room at 7:30 pm and slept early. 

Water falls on the way to Gangaria
Local ladies in search of fodder for thier cattle
Lakshaman Ganga on the way to Gangaria
Lakshman Ganga on the way to Gangaria

Local ladies carrying heavy load of grass for thier cattle where we were struggling to walk
Path to Gangaria
Temple on the way to Gangaria
Lakshman Ganga
Path to Gangaria

27-July-2021 (Tuesday):

We had our breakfast at 6:30 am and also packed lunch as well as some toffies. We left hotel at 6:45 am to reach the forest check post at 7:00 am. Mayank, our guide was with us and we had some problem in the checkpost when they wanted to see our RT-PCR report. I did not bring my mobile since I never felt it would be needed. Somehow Mayank convinced the Forest guards and we were allowed. We started walking at 7:30 am. It was a wonderful trek but very steep. I started with slow and steady pace; walking and taking rest while taking photographs. Wonderful scenic beauty of Lakshman Ganga river, snow peak, Forest path, flora in flowering, various types of mushrooms, etc. Geetha could not keep pace with me and since there was restriction of timing at the valley, I left her behind and went ahead to reach Valley to spent more time in the valley. I reached by 12:00 noon and spent about one hour taking photograph  after photograph. Geetha came at about 12:40 pm. We had lunch and left the Valley at 1:30 pm. We reached back the check post before 5:00 pm (schedule time) and reached the hotel by 5:10 pm. We had tea and mixed pakoda and thereafter took a refreshing bath with hot water. Since Hemkund Sahib is closed due to COVID, we decided to change the programme and informed e-Uttranchal. Mr Sandeep  suggested us to return to Joshimath after visiting temples in Pandukeshwar and next day visited Auli. We agreed to that arrangement. Our other fellow Vadodara couples decided to go to Auli tomorrow and then to their destination. We had our dinner in the dining hall at 7:30 pm and slept. I took lot of photos of various flora, mostly flowers and also of some wood rotting fungi (Mushrooms and ascomycetes).  Some of those are presendted here.  

Scenic Beauty of the path

Floral Beauty on the way and in the Valley

Wood rotting Fungi

Beauty of raindrops on the foliage

28-July-2021 (Wednesday):

We had our breakfast at 7:30 am. It was raining since morning. At 7:45 am rain stopped and we left the hotel at Gangaria. I could see that most of the visitors were returning on pony. I was asked by many that  whether I am from defence or not. I had to tell them that I am a civilian and has only NCC training for a brief period. They were wondering that at this age of 70 years how I am still trekking. In fact in trekking mind plays 50% and physical ability plays 50%. Therefore, one has to be  mentally strong and should have determination. We came down to Pulna at about 1:10 pm and then reached Govindghat at about 1:35 pm. Mr Pradeep, our taxi driver was waiting for us there. We went to Pandukeshewr temple and from there returned Joshimath to our  Himalyan Abode Homestay hotel at about 3:00 pm. We ordered lunch, only rice and dal were available.  In the evening we just went out for a brief walking. We had our dinner with local dish. Slept by 9:00 pm.  

Busket/Palki
Resting
Blue Pine

29-July-2021 (Thursday):

We left the hotel after early breakfast at 7:40 am and reached Auli by 8:30 am. Auli,standing at around 2,800 m, and surrounded by acres of oak and coniferous forests, Auli offers panoramic views of some of India’s highest peaks, including the second-highest in the country, Nanda Devi (7,816m).  It is also the gateway to the Nanda Devi and the Valley of Flowers National Park, including the Hemkund Sahib gurdwara, and popular trekking destinations such as Gorson Bugyal, Pangerchulla Summit, and Tapovan can be accessed through Auli. Besides Auli, Uttarakhand has several other skiing destinations, like Dayara Bugyal, Munsiyari and Mundali.We could not see the peaks because of cloudy rainy weather. 

Hemant, a new guide was waiting for us. It was raining since morning.   I along with the guide went for enjoying monsoon trekking. It was reminding me my Shillong days when I used to go for short trekking and also for the field experiments in farmers’ field. I trek about 3km and went upto the Nanda devi reserve forest area. We had tea on the way and returned 3km back to the Auili ropeway station. We had a roapway ride to get an aerial view of the entire valley. We returned back to Joshimath hotle by 1:30 pm. Photography was limited due to rain.  

Roapway

30-July-2021 (Friday):

We got up early and had breakfast at 6:30 am, left the hotel at 7:00 am. It was a long drive to reach Haridwar (about 235km). There were landslides on the road at different places. We had break for tea and also for the lunch on the way. We reached Srinagar at 1:30 pm, Devaprayag at 2:30 pm, Rishikesh by 4:45 pm and Haridwar by 6:00 pm. Checked in Hotel Madhuban Guest house. 

On the way back to Haridwar

31-July-2021 (Saturday):

We got up in the morning and went to Ganga temple and from there went to Daksha Mandir where Daksha yoggya was performed by Daksha Prajapati and returned by lunch time. In the evening went to see Ganga Aarti. 

 1-Augest-2021 (Sunday): 

We went to Ganga Ghat as morning walk. Returned back and then again went to have breakfast near temple and tested famous Mathurawal Jelebi. We left hotel at 12:45 pm and reached Dehradun airport by 1:45 pm. Flight was on time and reached Ahmedabad at 7:00 pm. Rafik Bhai, driver was waiting for us and we reached Anand by 9:00 pm. Mind was bubbling with the experience and the photographs that I took. I was also planning in my mind for my next trekking trip.

Haridwar

Acknowledgement:

Thanks to Mr. Sandeep Bisht of e-Utaranchal for arranging our trip hassle free. Thank to Mr Pradeep, driver for engaging us while journey by sharing his experiences in life; Mr Mayank, guide in VoF for his constant care while trekking and also Mr Hemant, guide at Auli. 

From Left to Right: Mr. Pradeep, Mr. Mayank, Mr Hemant

Predominant species 

  1. Himalayan bell flower, Campanula latifolia(violate coloured)
  2. Geranium
  3. Multi storied flowers, Morina longifolia
  4. Impatiens sulcata, (pink balsaum type)
  5. Inula
Satyabrata Maiti

Jai Hind!

Satyabrata Maiti

Naga Sanyasi and their Kumbha Mela connection

Recently when I posted photographs of some Naga Sanyasis after my Haridwar Kumbha Mela -2021 visit, one of friends asked a question “ why I am so interested on them” I had lot of curiosity about Naga Sadhus or sanyasis since my college days. They used to attract me  for two reasons i) They avoid  coming to the society normally and appear once in 10 years in Khumbha mela ii) Their unique appearance: They don’t put clothes on them even in winter. I did some search in literature to know about them and become fascinated.  Let’s know about them.  

Hindu dhrma promotes peaceful life taking into cognizance human relations with the nature. Cycle of birth and death is only a medium for the soul to reside in a human body, to elevate the consciousness to reach God. 

People ignorant of great Hindu bhakti and traditions only make fun of Hindu ethos and rituals   without knowing that Sadhus and monks who practice these high consciousness take penance to an impossible level that is unimaginable to common people even they take hundreds of  birth in human form. 

What Nag means?

Naga in Sanskrit means mountain, people residing in and around mountain are called Naga or Pahadi. 

Histories of Naga Sadhus are stressed back to Manjodoro Harrapa civilization. It is found in coins and images where Naga Sadhus are shown worshiping Lord Sivha in Pasupatinath form. Alexander and his solders also encountered Naga Sadhus during their stay in India. Buddha and Mahavir were very much impressed by the penance of Naga Sadhus, their devotion for the people and motherland. Jains Digambar tradition has the roots in Naga rituals.     

Naga Sadhus protected ancient Hindu temples from Invaders. Only a few people have knowledge about them. What makes them unique?  How actually they become a driving force for the world to stay in synchronization to the nature? Naga Sadhus are equipped with various arms such as Talwars, Trishuls, Gaddas, etc to fight for protection of temples. 

Aurangazeb and his terrorist army was defeated  by Naga sadhu in 1664 when they assaulted Kashi Vishwanath temple. Naga Sadhus killed the army of looters that shocked Aurangazeb such an extent that he stopped the destruction of the temples for few years. This thrashing of Mughals was well documented in a book  “Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Hinduisim”  Volume –I by James G. Lochtefeld. It was illustrated as “Great fightback”

William R Squeeze in his book “Solder Monks and Militant Sadhus” has depicted another incidence of heroic resistance of Naga Sadhus in the period of cruel Akabar. 

As you know that there are many types of Sadhus or saints in Hindu religion. Of these, Naga Sadhus  are seen in Kumbh Mela. In fact, they are the  first to take bath in Kumbh Mela. Even, during Kumbh festival several people visit to the Akhara’s of Naga Sadhus to take their blessings.

Who are naga sanyasi?

The Naga Sadhus are followers of the Lord Shiva and known as Shaivites. They live in the Himalayas.    One can become a Naga Sadhu only during Kumbha Mela. This initiation ritual takes place during the Kumbh Mela and is attended by different people of various age groups. 

How one can  become Naga Sadhus?

It is  a mandatory to be a member of any “akhara” for three years before a sadhu qualifies to become a Naga sadhu. The considerations for selection include their health and approach towards their fellow men and women living in the akharas’ ashrams.

 Process of becoming Naga Sadhu and their activities 

1. Naga Sadhus have to undergo very difficult Examinations and practice of difficult “tapasya” to become a monk. It takes about 12 years to become a Naga Sadhu. Naga Sadhu stay in the Akhara’s.     

2. It is compulsory to make Guru in the Akhara for becoming a Naga Sadhu. The Guru may be the head of the Akhara or any big scholar in the Akhara itself. The process of becoming a Naga Sadhu is said to be completed when Guru’s teachings are gained in a proper way. After serving the Guru, they can reach to the next step of becoming Naga Sadhu. No doubt Naga Sadhus are trained warriors too.  

3. Naga Sadhus are both vegetarian and non-vegetarians also.   

4. The Naga Sadhus in appearance usually wander around naked.  

5. We see most of the Naga Sadhus in Kumbh Mela or in their Akharas.   Naga Sadhus take part in Kumbh Mela and then move to the Himalayas. So, Naga Sadhus live either in Akharas or himalayas and usually visit the civilisation during the Mahakumbh festival in India to take part in the holy dip. It is said that  seeing Naga Sadhus   are equivalent to seeing the Lord Shiva.  

6. As hard as the austerity of Naga Sadhus, they have many wonderful powers too. Naga Sadhus preaches and teaches humans about the special grace of God.     Naga Sadhus   through their austerities have spiritual powers which they use to help and heal people   Nagas are also usually known as warrior Sadhus and are ready to fight intellectually or wrestle anytime.  

7. There is no doubt that Naga Sadhus  adhere to the complete “Brahmacharya”, staying away from the family. Even

in the process of becoming a saint, they have to sacrifice their families and  they make their own “Shraadh” before joining. During their austerities, they never meet their families. Because it is said that during the course of meditation they don’t want any type of disturbances and so they never meet their family members. Therefore, one can understand the mental strength they have to pass through the austerities.  

Satyabrta Maiti

 References: 

Disclaimer:No part of this article is my own work. Information has been collected from various internet sources. I have only the copyright of the photographs. 

https://haribhakt.com/the-mysterious-world-of-great-naga-sadhus-revealed/#The_Great_Naga_Sadhus_and_Their_Way_of_Life_to_Protect_Sanatan_Dharm

My journey to Haridwar Kumbha Mela-2021

It is one of the major pilgrimage and festivals in Hinduism.It is celebrated   approximately after evry 12 years, to celebrate every revolution of Jupitar (Brihaspti)   at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: the Prayagraj/Allahabad (Ganges-Yamuna Sarasvatirivers confluence), Haridwar (Ganges), Nashik (Godavari), and Ujjain (Shipra).The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the rivers, but it is also a celebration of community commerce with  fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, mass feedings of monks or the poor, and entertainment. The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prāyaścitta (atonement, penance) for past mistakes,and  it also cleanses them of their sins.

Approximately 50 and 30 million people attended the Prayagraj Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019 and Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 respectively to bathe in the holy river Ganges, making them the largest peaceful gathering events in the world.

I had a long desire to visit Khumbha mela and cover it with photographs along with a holy dip in the river. I booked my tickets for Prayagraj Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019. But could not attend since I did not get any hotel accommodation and finally gave up. I thought that my destiny has not given the green signal yet for the same. 

When Haridwar Khumbha Mela 2021 was announced, I did not resist my desire even though COVID-19 pandemic situation cut short the mela during for a month only. I booked my hotel (Madhuban Guest house) in March by paying full money in advance and then booked my air tickets. My friend, Dr. G. B. Raturi who stays in Dehradun advised me to visit during 12-15 April, 2021 because two ”shahi snan” (royal baths)one on 12-April and other on 14-April I can cover.  Itinerary was prepared according to his advice. When I booked the tickets and accommodation there was no panic of COVID-19. However, situation become worst near to my departure time. Many of my friends and well wishers advised me to cancel my trip. But I gave them my argument in favour of going  that “Tomar karma tumi karo ma, loke bale kori ami”; means “Oh God, you do your work, but others say I do it.” I also jokingly told by welwisher friend Dr. Devakumar that my horoscope is with you, If I die, people will once again reiterate that destiny drags. Before, I go to my visit, let us know something about KUMBHA MELA. 

What is Kumbh Mela?

The Kumbh Mela is held at one of the four holy pilgrimage destinations, Haridwar, Nashik, Prayagraj (Allahabad), and Ujjain, every 12 years by rotation. However, this year, the event is taking place after 11 years instead of 12 years. According to the astrological calculations for this Kumbh, Jupiter will complete this cycle in 11 years and enter the Aquarius sign in 2021. By the time the Sun enters Aries in 2022, Jupiter will have entered Pisces. Jupiter will be available in Aquarius and the Sun in Aries in 2021. Therefore, Kumbh Mela will be organized in the year 2021, according to the official website.

Why is Kumbh Mela celebrated?

According to the beliefs, the nectar from the pot fell at four locations – Prayagraj, Ujjain, Haridwar, and Nashik during an epic battle between the gods and the demons. At these four places, Kumbh Mela takes place. The Hindu devotees throng these places with a belief that a dip in the waters of the sacred rivers will wash away all their sins. The fact that hundreds of millions of people (coming from the most ancient and sophisticated philosophical and metaphysical system on earth) have for thousands of years believed this to be true suggests that an awesome power is indeed present at the Kumbha Mela sites.
In the case of those who give up their bodies after purifying themselves at Prayaga by bathing at the confluence of these two rivers – Ganga and Yamuna – the two wives of the ocean, there is no bondage of another body in a future birth and this liberation is achieved even without philosophical knowledge.

 

 

 

The astrological periods 

The four melas.
The years of their most recent and future occurrences:


Haridwar: when Jupiter is in Aquarius and the Sun is in Aries

During the Hindu month of Chaitra(March-April) 1986, 1998, 2010, 2021 

Prayagraj: When Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn
During the Hindu month of Magha (January-February); 1989, 2001, 2012, 2024. 

Nasik: When Jupiter and the Sun are in Leo
During the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August-September); 1980, 1992, 2003, 2015. 

Ujjain: When Jupiter is in Leo and the Sun is in Aries, or when Jupiter, the Sun, and the Moon are in Libra during the Hindu month of Vaisakha (April-May); 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.

HAPPENING OF KUMBH MELA

As per ancient scriptures of sanatan dharma, based on planetary positions the Kumbh Mela happens at various places. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years at four river-bank pilgrimage sites


The Normal Kumbh Mela

It is held every 3rd year.

The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela

It is held every 6th year.

The Purna (complete) Kumbh Mela

It takes place every 12th year, at 4 places Prayagraj (Allahabad), Haridwar,    Ujjain, and Nashik.

The Maha Kumbh Mela

It takes place every 144th year (after 12 ‘Purna Kumbh Mela’).

 

 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year the Kumbh Mela will be held for 48 days in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, instead of three-and-a-half months. The Kumbh Mela began on January 14. , while the first Shahi Snan (holy dip in river) took place on March 11 on Maha Shivratri.

Dates of  Shahi Snan (holy dip in river) 

March 11: Maha Shivratri.

April 12: Somvati Amamvasya  

April 14: Baisakhi

April 27: Chaitra Purnima

The last Shahi Snan will mark the end of the Haridwar Kumbh Mela.

There was strict guidelines for pilgrims visiting Kumbh Mela

  • Devotees and tourists visiting the Kumbh Mela will have to carry a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. The report should have a test date 72 hours before the date of the visit.
  • Devotees and tourists will also have to obtain a compulsory medical certificate in their state from the nearest Community Health Center/District Hospital/Medical College.
  • Based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry ofHealth and Family Welfare, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) also makes it compulsory for devotees to bring a medical fitness certificate and an e-pass or e-permit issued to them after registering on the Kumbh Mela web portal.

After following the strict guidelines, I procured my medical fitness when doctor giving the certificate also discouraged me. I told him that if don’t take a chance now, I may not get the opportunity in my this life since next KUMBHA MELA will be after 12 years and I may not survive that long. He laughed and signed my certificate. 

Journey started on 12-April-2021

I left Anand at 6:30 am after taking the blessings of one of my elders. Reached Ahmedabad airport and subsequently to Dehradun by 12:30 pm. When went to book a prepaid taxi for Haridwar, I got a shock that all the roads have been blocked for outside taxis by the mela administration. Finally, I was advised by the fellow in the counter to go upto Nepali Farm by taxi and then to avail local transport arrangements of mela administration. Accordingly, I reached Nepali farm which was 16 km away from Haridwar and got a bus upto a depot (about 5km). I got down and again directed to board a bus. Bus went with a snail speed upto Har ki paudi and stopped since procession of Sudhas started by then. I got down with my luggage since I could not resist temptation of taking photographs of procession. I somehow could go above an over bridge and could take some of good photographs. I spent about an hour. After that I started walking to my hotel which was about 6.5 km away. I reached hotel and checked in had a cup of tea. I took bath and again went to Ghat for photography. I returned by 8:00 pm and again took bath followed by dinner.   

13-April-2021

I got up at 4:30 am and went to Ghat by 5:00 am. I found people already started taking bath. I spent time their upto 8:00 am and then returned. I took bath followed by heavy breakfast for the whole day and went out again at 9:00 am. I returned from the Ghat by 12:30 pm and took some rest. In the afternoon at 4:00 pm went to Har ki Paudi spot. Took some photographs and waited till evening for taking photographs of Sandhya Aarti. The spot was jam packed. Social distancing was only on announcement. Of course, administration was distributing mask free of cost.  After Aarti, I returned to hotel at about 8:00 pm and took bath followed by dinner. 

14-April-2021

I went to Ghat at 5:00 am and roamed around. When was returning about 7:00 am, I found one spot when NAGA SADHUS were getting ready to go in procession for Sahi Snan. I was disappointed, when I was told that when they will take bath, no unauthorised persons will be allowed in that spot. Therefore, photography will not be possible. However, I become happy to see the Naga Sadhus on the road en mass. I stand in a spot and took photographs of their activities and their joyful activities which fulfilled my apatite of capturing those moments. I spent about 2 hours there and the returned back to hotel. I received a call from Dr. Raturi. He reminded me that I should take a dip in Ganga today and also a dip in his name. I took breakfast and then went to ghat with swimming costume and towels at about 10:00 am. I took refreshing dip in Holy Ganga and remembered my well-wishers and also took dip in their name.   I returned back to hotel at 11:00 am and took rest till 3:00 pm. I againfor the last time went to Ghat for taking photographs. I returned at 7:00 pm and took bath followed by dinner. 

15-April-2021

I got up at 3:30 am and got ready for leaving the hotel at 4:30 am. Reached Dehradun at 5:30 am and reached Ahemedabad Airport via Delhi at 1:40 pm. Reached Anand at 3:30 pm and prepared myself for self quarantine for next 7-days. I shall not regret for taking risk in COVID-19 pandemic condition since my memory is full of positive vibrations that will last long.   

Photo Gallery: 

Introduction: Beauty of the beach and arrangements 

Ghat decorated for the Kumbha
Ghat decorated for the Kumbha
Ghat decorated for the Kumbha

Processions:

Charas smoking in procession
Procession
Procession

Naga Sadhus:

Procession
Procession
Procession
Procession
Procession

In the Ghat:

Holy dip
Holy dip
Holy dip
Holy dip
On the way to Holy dip
Holy dip

Portraits:

Holy Dip

Sandhaya Aarti

Nataraj in the Sandhya Aarti
Nataraj in the Sandhya Aarti
Sandhya Aarti
Sandhya Aarti
Sandhya Aarti
Sandhya Aarti

A little rest:

Worshiping
A little rest with tea
Giving Ashirbad
Taking rest at the noon
A little rest
A Naga Sadhu
Ashirbad given freely
Naga Sadhus
Foreign Visitors in Mela
Naga Sadhu
What a Jatha?
Nothing is a barier for the Kumbha Mela
Some Sadhus do respect COVID-19
Sadhu covered with Rudraksh
Majority of the visitors from Rural background
God’s creation together
Morning meditation and prayer
Puja

Livelihood in the Ghat

Livelihood in Kumbha
Livelihood in Kumbha
Livelihood in Kumbha
Livelihood in Kumbha
Livelihood in Kumbha

Naga Sadhus

Naga Sadhu impressing the devotees
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Naga Sadhu in procession for Sahi Snan
Fighting of COVID_19
End of the journey

Photo credit: Satyabrata Maiti

Ayurvedic treatment for Glaucoma: An experience

After my eye surgery for fixing retinal detachment, I was told by medical doctor that I have developed Glaucoma. Doctor tried to treat it with   topical drops but when it was not controlled properly, I was advised to go for another surgery in my right eye (Phaco+IOL with medical control of glaucoma poor prognosis due to glaucoma and retina-Right eye pupiloplasty).  I was told clearly that it is a probability of correction but not assured correction. I went through then to understand what  Glaucoma is?     

Common Symptoms of Glaucoma

Glaucoma could be called the silent killer of vision, as the progressive degeneration that sets in the eye, resulting in total loss of vision, if left untreated. The primary cause of glaucoma  is  the build up of fluid pressure  within the eye     (between the iris and the retina) which starts pressing against the walls, resulting in the optic nerves getting damaged, and if left unchecked, results in permanent damage. This condition, referred to as ocular hypertension first causes loss of peripheral vision.

What are the Causes for Glaucoma? 

Other causes include direct injury to the eye, eye infection and inflammation. It has been found that more than half the patients who have glaucoma set in do not recognise their gradual loss of peripheral vision as there are no ‘noticeable’ symptoms.

I searched then Ayurveda by which degenerative diseases are very successfully treated. In the process, I got a reference of Sreedhareeyam  Ayurvedic Eye Hospital in Kerala. I contacted them and had video conferencing with Dr. Shrikanth Namboothiri.

It was a COVID time and hence given prescription of medicines for the treatment. It continued for about three months and  final I was asked to go to their hospital at  Koothattukulam, Ernakulam  for treatment. I landed Kochi airport from Ahmedabad at about 1:00 pm on 21-Jan-2021. On my request a car was sent to airport by the PRO of the hospital on payment. Mr. Jishil Abraham, the smart driver droop me to the hospital by 2:30 pm and it took about half an hour for resgistration and room allotment. As per the COVID protocol of the state, I was put in the 3rdfloor (Room # 4456) in isolation ward where about 21 new patients were accommodated. We were strictly advised not to go out of the room. All essentials like food will be served in the room only. It was like a house arrest. A red tag was put on our hand to recognize that we are the patients of quarantine ward. New building is an excellent new construction with separate treatment rooms and rooms for staying. 

Next day samples for rapid antigen test for COVID-19 was collected and thereafter Dr Naryanan  Namboothiri, Chief Physician   visited with his juniors and advised treatments for each patients. Treatment started in the afternoon of 22-Jan-2021. From 23-Jan-2021, treatment schedule started at 5:30 am and ended at 4:00 to 4:30 pm with break for breakfast and lunch. Everyday morning and evening, blood pressure and temperature were measured and recorded. A battery of senior doctors including Dr. Shrikantha Namboothiri, Chief Medical Officer with whom I did video conferencing  started visiting and examining the patients on a regular interval. On 27-Jan-2021 again samples were collected for RT-PCR test of COVID-19. On 28-Jan-2021 we received our test result and surprisingly, one of our fellow patients was found positive. As a conscience, he was shifted to another location and our quarantine was extended further for a week. It was set back for many of our fellow patients. However, hospital authority continued our treatments with care and caution. In this period, we started mingling and opening to our our fellow patients. I started enquiring problems of others and came to know about vivid types of misery they are passing through, which, when I compared with mine looked how fortunate I am. Very quickly, I also become close to most of the nurses and other helping hands including those who were serving food to us. Many of them shared their personal matters with me.   

I shall tell about them briefly too after I describe the types of treatments I received.  

Treatment Schedule:

#TreatmentStarting DateEnding DateTime
1Nethradhara (closed)22-Jan-2130-Jan-218:00-9:00 am & 2:30-3:30 pm
2Anjanam (RE); eye drop22-Jan-219-Feb-218:00-9:00 am & 2:30-3:30 pm
3Nasal drop (Nasyam)23-Jan-2131-Jan-215:30 am
4Kashayam23-Jan-219-Feb-216:00 am & 6:00 pm
5Thalam 23-Jan-2124-Jan-2110:00-11:00 am
6Purumpuda (RE)23-Jan-2124-Jan-2111:00-12:00 noon
7Shiravesthanam25-Jan-2130-Jan-2110:00-11:00 am
8Purumpuda (RE)25-Jan-219-Feb-213:30-4:30 pm
9Dhanyamladhara31-Jan-212-Feb-2110:00-11:00 am
10Nethrapichu31-Jan-219-Feb-212:30-3:30 pm
10Siradhara1-Feb-217-Feb-2111:00-11:30 am
11Virechanam3-Feb-213-Feb-216:00-6:30 am
12Mathra Vasthi4-Feb-218-Feb-21After lunch

Every treatments were started with prayer.

Dhanyamladhara

Dhanyamladhara which literally means a ‘dhara’ or pouring of a medicinal liquid called Dhanyamlam over the patient’s body. This herbal liquid is made of cereals with highly nutritious starch content like Navara rice or millet. This treatment is given to the diseases caused by the derangement of vata humour are treated with dhanyamla.

Kasyam seeradhara

Sirodhara is of various types. It is done either with oil or medicated water which is called Kasyam. A concoction of medicinal plants is poured slowly on the forehead with massage. This is done for about 30 minutes and thereafter a Kasyam is given for drinking. 

Matra vasti

Vasti is one part of the highly effective panchkarma treatment. One particular form of vasti is matra vasti. A matra vasti treatment consists of abhyangam—an oil massage   with a vayu decreasing oil—that is suited to your prakriti.

Basti is an enema of herbal oils or decoctions used in AyurvedaBasti is one of the five Pradhana Karmas of Panchakarma and it is used to treat vata disorders.

Vasti is an important treatment in Ayurveda and it’s especially meant for rheumatic (vata) diseases. There are many types of vasti. This treatment should be done under the guidance of an expert Ayurveda doctor(vaidya) and all kind of rheumatic (vata) disorders would have eliminate with the proper use of vasti. Kashaya vasti, Uttaravasti, Snehavasti, Siro vasti etc. are known as the main Vastis. It has a proven method of Ayurveda and the Vasti treatment is very effective in every aspect.

In this treatment, the system is cleansed with herbal oil applied through the rectum.
Mathravasthi is effective in curing arthritis, paralysis, hemiplegia and numbness. The treatment is done for a period of 3 to 14 days.

Nasyam

Therapeutic administration of medicine through the nostrils. For the treatment of diseases affecting the chest and above, Migraine, Tic doulorex (Trigeminal neuralgia), Facial Palsy(bell’s palsy), Cervical Spondylosis, Degenerative disc disorders, IVDP, Bone disorders, Sinusitis, Ophthalmic diseases, Hair fall, etc. Nasyam ( instillation of medicine in nose )

Netradhara

Netradhara is a simple eye treatment in Ayurveda. In this treatment, extracts of herbs that possess preventive and curative properties are thoroughly inundated to the patient’s eyes.

Nethra Pichu  

Placing cotton or cotton cloth soaked with medicated material   for one hour. Pichu is performed in those patients who cannot withstand the course of Shirovasti. This is useful in diseases of eye ear nose and head ache depending on the medicinal quality of oil.

Purampada

Mukkadi purampada, Pindi ( placing of herbal paste over eye) was done regularly. It is an important eye treatment mostly done for all the eye patients.  

Sirovesthanam 

When people speak of sirovasthi, they are referring to an Ayurvedic treatment in which medicated oils are applied on the head and kept there for about fifteen to sixty minutes, depending on the ailment to be treated. The oil is kept on the head with the help of a special bandage made out of organic material. The oils are heated and cooled to room temperature before they are poured onto your head. Used specifically to treat ailments related to the head, nostrils, sinuses and throat, the main aim of this treatment is to balance your doshas and therefore cure ailments related to the imbalance of that dosha.

The oil used for sirovasthi is specially made to suit you and is decided upon after a complete study of your health and the balance of your doshas. Generally, the oil contains a mixture of gingley oil, staff tree, castor oil, ghee, milk and medicinal herbs like black gram, bala, bacopa and winter cherry. 

Sirovasthi is a treatment that is known to help treat ailments like dryness of nostrils, mouth and throat, facial paralysis, severe headaches, eye diseases, diseases of cranial nerves, hair fall, to improve memory and vision. Here is what the treatment can do for you.

Thalam 

Thalam is an Ayurvedic therapeutic remedy. Thalam is the Malayalam name for Shiro Vasti (Shiro Basti) and the Ayurvedic Theraputic measure Shiro Vasti can define as Thalam in Malayalam. Thalam enhance and nourishes the brain cells. It’s a very effective treatment and it cures insomnia, stress, tension and different kind of mental conditions. Thalam is pure and natural in every aspect. It has everything to prevent mental abnormalities. The way of Thalam activity is very special. The medicinal oil is retaining over the head in a sealed manner. A suitable cap is using for retaining the medicinal oil over the head. This process provides nourishment to the brain and it prevents brain damaging. In the past and many years back the Thalam treatment is meant only for mental patients and almost illness and mental disorders were treated successfully. The modern life styles create many kind of mental problems include with insomnia and stress. Thalam is a redesigned way of Ayurveda treatment especially to implement in stress, insomnia, tension, anxiety etc.

Virechana

Virechana is a Sanskrit word that means “laxative” or “purging” and may refer to any substance used to induce purging. Virechana is a controlled process that gathers ama (toxins) from many Pitta locations in the body, concentrates it in the small intestine, and then discharges it.

 clean and toxin-free digestive tract benefits the entire body system, keeping your healthy, disease free and energetic. Virechanam is one such therapy of the panchakarma therapies that effectively detoxifies the body through means of purgation.

Virechanam is the medicated purgation therapy that completely cleanses the body of the pitta dosha, and removes toxins from the gastrointestinal tract, liver and gallbladder.

The procedure is carried out by liquefying and smoothening the doshas and bring them to the intestine before the actual treatment is given. On the day of the therapy, virechanam specific drugs are given to the patient to induce bowel movements. It facilitates the elimination of pitta from kidneys, lungs and sweat glands, purifies the blood, and treats and uproots diseases ensuring non recurrence.

The treatment is known to effectively heal the following conditions,

  • Piles
  • Jaundice
  • Spleen Enlargement
  • Liver disorders
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Womb ailments
  • Semen disorders
  • Worms in intestine 
  • Arthritis 
  • Constipation 
  • Skin diseases like Herpes,  Psoriasis  
  • Diabetes 
  • Paraplegia, Hemiplegia
  • Joint disorders
  • Gynaecological disorders
  • Asthma

Wonderful staff who treated us

Dr Naryanan  Namboothiri, Chief Physician :A very soft spoken doctor with immense experience of eye treatment.  He is like a pillar of the Hospital. In fact he was shouldering the responsibility of deciding treatments for all the patients. 

Dr Shrikantha  Namboothiri, Chief Medical Officer: He was visiting me often as Consultant doctor with whom I did first my video consultation. 

Dr. Susan Rose Joseph, Duty Doctor: She was very helpful and clearing my doubts regarding treatments and also acting as a bridge between Dr. Narayanan and me. 

Deepa:She is a very soft spoken person in the treatment desk. She overviews  and coordinates the various treatment schedule of all the patients in the floor.  

Pradeep: A very friendly person who can speak all the four south Indian languages and also fluent in Hindi. He is an ever ready person to extend help to all the patients.  

Aswathi: A nurse of rare serving attitude with always smiling face  who makes patients  to feel comfortable and ease. 

Surjeet: Ayoung man who can not speak Hindi well but his body language makes patients to feel ease. 

Jinnesh: Another very friendly person who gives various treatments. Have good Hindi and English speaking ability. 

Athira Raju:  A very jolly lively nurse. Speaks good English and communicate with ease. 

Sneeha: A jolly young nurse who speaks English well. She talks in friendly manner. 

Ashawaria: Ashy young nurse with smiling face always. 

Anu:  An PRO assistant who took me to their herbal nursery for my visit on my request. Her assistance was very useful for me. 

My Fellow Patients whose company made my stay homely:

  1. Aadya, a lovely girl from Hyderabad
  2. Vardhan, a young boy  from Nasik
  3. Ayush from Dhanbad
  4. Chetan from Indore
  5. Chitti Babu from Chennai
  6. Prashanta and Mohan from Chennai
  7. Srinivasan from Chennai
  8. Ranganathan from Chennai (L&T)

My treatment is not yet finished. I have been given two months medicines and asked to report back after two months in their Mumbai branch. There is some improvement in vision but eye pressure is still hovering between 26-29 which should come back below 20. I am hopeful that it will certainly be normal over a period of time. 

Some of the essential items you must carry under COVID situation 

  1. 2-3 towels 
  2. Spoons
  3. Water bottle
  4. Soap and detergents
  5. No laundry facilities

Disclaimer: 

This blog has been written by taking information from various open sources available in web. My experiences expressed in my blog is purely personal and should not be considered as universal. 

Should WE Go Ahead With Covid-19 Vaccine? 

Before considering should we go ahead with COVID-19 vaccine? Let us first understand “How are vaccines made?” Let us understand “How Are Vaccines Made Against Viral diseases?”

Several methods are used to make vaccines against viral diseases. Let us examine their strengths and limitations one by one:

Using “Weaken” virus

Viruses are weakened so they reproduce extremely poorly once inside the body. Viruses usually cause disease by rapidly reproducing themselves many times in the body normally thousands of times during an infection. Whereas, weakened vaccine viruses usually reproduce fewer than 20 times hence do not cause disease. However, this much viruses are enough to induce “memory B cells” that protect against infection in the future.  The vaccines for measles, mumps, German measles (rubella), rotavirus, oral polio, chickenpox, and influenza (intranasal version) vaccines are made this way. The advantage of live, “weakened” virus vaccines is that one or two doses provide usually life-long immunity. The limitation of these vaccines are usually cannot be given to people with compromised immune systems (like people with cancer or AIDS). 

Using Inactivated virus

In this method, viruses are completely inactivated (or killed) with a chemical. These inactivated virus cannot reproduce itself or cause disease. Because the virus is still “seen” recognised by the body, cells of the immune system that protect against disease are generated. The inactivated polio, hepatitis A, influenza and rabies vaccines are made this way.

Benefits to this process is:

• The vaccine cannot cause even a mild form of the disease that it prevents

• The vaccine can be administered to people with compromised immune systems.

However, the limitation of this approach is that it typically requires several doses to achieve immunity.

Using a part of the virus

In this method, just one part of the virus is removed and used as a vaccine The vaccine is composed of coat-protein that covers the virus DNA/RNA. This strategy can be used when an immune response to one part of the virus (or bacteria) is responsible for protection against disease. The hepatitis B, shingles and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are made this way. Advantages of this type of vaccines are having long-lived immunity after administering first does followed by a booster doses.

These vaccines also can be given to people with weakened or compromised immunity.

Useing part of the bacteria

Some bacteria cause disease by making a harmful protein called a toxin. Several vaccines are made by taking toxins and inactivating them with a chemical (the toxin, once inactivated, is called a toxoid). By inactivating the toxin, it no longer causes disease. The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis  vaccines are made this way. Another strategy to make a bacterial vaccine is to use part of the sugar coating (or polysaccharide) of the bacteria. Protection against infection by certain bacteria is based on immunity to this sugar coating (and not the whole bacteria). However, because young children don’t make a very good immune response to the sugar coating alone, the coating is linked to a harmless protein (this is called a “conjugated polysaccharide” vaccine). The Haemophilus influenza type B (or Hib), pneumococcal, and some meningococcal vaccines are made this way.

Just like inactivated viral vaccines, bacterial vaccines can be given to people with compromised immune systems, but often require several doses to induce adequate immunity.

Using genetic code (DNA, mRNA, or vectored viruses) for part of the virus

Using this strategy, the person who is vaccinated makes part of the virus. The vaccines for COVID-19  are made this way. The vaccine contains messenger RNA (mRNA) (Ref. 3), which is the code, or blueprint, for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The vaccinated person’s muscle cells use the blueprint to make the spike protein from the surface of the virus. Once the immune system realizes this protein is “foreign,” it creates an immune response against it, including immunologic memory, so the next time, the person is exposed to the virus, the immune system is ready to respond rapidly. Similar to vaccination strategies that inject parts of a virus directly, this strategy can be used when an immune response to one part of the virus is capable of protecting against disease. These vaccines can be given to people that are immune-compromised but require two doses to be protective.

-Listen to Dr. Offit explain mRNA vaccines in his short video (Ref. 3)

DNA vaccines deliver the genetic code from which mRNA is made. The mRNA then serves as the blueprint for making the viral protein, and the immune system, recognizing it is “foreign,” responds to protect the body and create immunologic memory. Currently, no DNA vaccines are commercially available (Ref.2).

-Listen to Dr. Offit explain DNA vaccines in his short vedio (Ref. 2)

Another way to deliver the gene that codes for the coronavirus spike protein is to put that gene into a virus that can’t reproduce itself but can still enter cells and deliver the needed gene. This strategy is being used in so-called replication-deficient human or simian adenoviruses. Although adenoviruses can cause disease in people, these vectored viruses are engineered so that they can’t cause disease.

In India, we are listening about the three vaccines and their trials for approval. The nature of these vaccines are:

Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

The vaccine, which is being co-developed by BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, consists of molecular instructions — in the form of messenger RNA — for human cells to make the coronavirus spike protein, the immune system’s key target for this type of virus. 

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

It is also a mRNA vaccine. Disadvantage of this vaccine it it require -70° C for storage.

Bharat Biotech’s “Covaxin”

Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine developed from an Indian strain of the novel coronavirus isolated by NIV. This can be stored in 5-8° C. That is the advantage over other two vaccines. In addition it is cost effective.

Questions remain unanswered: 1. One key unanswered question is how long the vaccine’s effectiveness will last? Experts think that “Right now, we need a vaccine that works,” even if it works for only a few months or doesn’t stop transmission. “That’s what we need in order to get half-way back to normal. Should WE go ahead with Covid-19 vaccine? 

Vaccines have played major role in preventing life even before COVID-19. Many viral diseases have been eradicated like small pox, polio, through vaccines. So there is no doubt that vaccines are important for saving lives. As far as vaccine for COVID-19 is concerned questions are raised because it is developed very fast. Normally, a vaccine development takes about 7-8 yrs for public use. But when it is matter of life or death you have to save life first. One has to opt for “Desperate time, desperate measure.”. Some of the opposition leaders with their uninformed are trying to implant doubt in the mind of common scientifically less informed people about the safety ignoring the decision of the best brains of medical science.

However, I would remind the Indians that Ayurveda has the knowledge but that has not been given a level playing field to have a say in the creation or implementation of the immune boosters for COVID. The wisdom in Ayurveda that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm is not practiced or understood in the society at large. So just looking at the need of the hour and not looking beyond, is not going to work. If not COVID something else will crop up tomorrow. We have experienced such outbreaks like HIV, SARS, MARS and now COVID. Short term view will hurt us in long term. I wish to end this blog with the Vedic mantra chanting:

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Meaning:  Lead us from the unreal to the real Lead us from darkness to light Lead us from death to immortality Aum peace, peace, peace!

And hope that our policy makers and opposition leaders will move from darkness to light and take informed decision in the in the interest of saving life which is prime important at the moment than politics. Jai Hind! Satyabrata Maiti

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared with information drawing from various sources: research papers, websites, text books, video resources and no part of this is claimed by the author as his original work.  

References

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03326-w

2. https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/video/how-do-dna-vaccines-work

3. https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/video/how-do-mrna-vaccines-work

On the New Year Day: A new sunrise with hope of COVID-19 free world for good health in 2021

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

May all sentient beings be at peace,
may no one suffer from illness,
May all see what is auspicious, may no one suffer.
Om peace, peace, peace.

[A very popular prayer mantra of ancient India ]

Let’s start the year with the age old ancient prayer of the above to be in peace in 2021. Year 2020 saw a turmoil, disorder, depression, disruption, confusion, unrest, uproar, turbulence in all arenas of our life: social, political, economical, mental and above all health due to outbreak of Corona Virus called COVID-19. This tiny virus showed us that how incomplete our knowledge is and how insignificant we are so far nature is concerned. It gave us an opportunity to look back on our tall claims in the medical science. It also showed us that how the advanced countries miserably failed in combating this virus and providing health to millions of their citizens. I will not go into the statistics since it is available on daily basis in the websites. I will try to draw your attention about why we failed.

Let’s understand about the COVID-19– coronavirus which is highly infectious. It also spreads extremely easily through person to person contact. But it’s not especially deadly compared to some others viruses.
Over the past two decades, we have seen two other smaller-scale coronavirus pandemics; one was from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China during 2002-2003 and the other was the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in the Middle East in 2012.Now, the COVID-19 coronavirus that we are dealing with now seems to kill about 3% of those who get infected worldwide. Compared to it SARS was much more deadly killing about 10% of the people who got it.
And MERS was incredibly dangerous killing 34% of those who got infected. That is one out of every three people who got infected, died. And yet MERS has not even been eradicated – it still bangs up occasionally.
Of course COVID-19 is dangerous, especially for seniors or the immune compromised (Co-morbid).
But, generally, most people get only mild symptoms – or none at all.And children and young adults have almost nothing to fear from COVID-19. Very likely reason for this is because they have robust, powerful immune systems. And studies showed that a strong immune system can help STOP a viral infection. Let me tell you with CAREFUL THOUGHTS that the VIRUS IS NOTHING. The immune system is EVERYTHING. In fact, we have made a huge mistake in our modern medical science for treating virus diseases by looking outside the body in search of control measures i.e. drug.
This mistake started with blindly applying Dr. Pasteur’s germ theory of the disease. Dr. Louis Pasteur, the French scientist famous for our understanding of microbes or “germs” which are tiny organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
He invented pasteurization – the process that makes milk last longer by superheating it to kill the germs. Pasteur believed people get sick and diseased because of germ attacks from outside our bodies.
The great Indian wisdom, Ayurveda(Ref.3) (medical science) did not approve the germ theory. For treatment of the body they squealy depended on the constitution of the body (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and their imbalance that disturbed the immune system to cause disease of various kinds. Moreover, we must understand the 90% of our diseases are psychosomatic & physiological. This itself does not testify the germ theory for most of the diseases. Many of us do not know about Dr. Claude Bernard, an absolute genius and also considered as “One of the greatest of all men of science.” who was also a good friend of Dr. Pasteur. He contradicted Dr. Pasteur and believed that germs are always inside us and we only get sick when our immune systems become weak.
Dr. Bernard was right. And Dr. Pasteur was wrong. Yet medical world, specially pharmaceutical industries hugged Dr. Pasteur theory because of their business prospective.
Believe it or not, We have more virus cells in your body than we do have our own cells. It’s true. We have about 37 trillion cells in your body.But that’s NOTHING compared to how many VIRUS cells we have right now in our body. For every human cell in our body – we have about 10 virus cells.Therefore, we have over 370 TRILLION virus cells in our body right now.
In fact, humans have been home to so many viruses since its evolution and interestingly about 8% of our DNA is now made up of ancient virus DNA.
This is absolutely true.
It’s known and accepted in medical science.

The fact is: We are full of both harmful and benign viruses and bacteria and other germs all the time.
“Most microbial diseases are caused by organisms [viruses and bacteria] present in our body. They become the cause of disease when a disturbance arises which upsets the equilibrium of the body.”
Dr. Bernard’s theory in a nutshell is the germs are not important. Exactly that Ayurveda says.
It is the “environment of the body” – including our immune system – that matters. Bernard was right about infectious disease and Dr. Louis Pasteur was wrong.

And if Pasteur’s theory – that we become sick because of external germ attacks – was correct, we would be permanently sick. But we are not. Because of our immunity.
The latest science now agrees with this fact and we have experienced in our recent past in COVID-19 treatment protocol. You will find now in the market everybody talks about the immunity. Products with claim to boost immunity are full in the market.
You may ask an obvious question. If immunity is everything, why our mainstream medical science is not working on it?
Well, you may call me a conspiracy theorist if you want. But my answer would be “there is no money to be made by boosting our immune systems”. Especially when the best ways to do it involve natural substances (Ref.1&2) that can’t be patented.
Irony is that mainstream medicine STILL does not involve themselves in working with immune system. You have seen now the completion for makeing vaccine for COVID-19 worldwide. Billions of dollar have been spent. And there will be now rat race to recover this money. For immunization programme, many developing countries will face economic hurdle to fulfil it. More concern is that many countries are approving the vaccines in hurry without studying their long term side effects.
I personally feel that we should have faith on our ancient wisdom (ISM) in boosting immunity to tackle this COVID-19 rather than falling in trap of multi-national pharmaceutical companies.
Jai Hind!

Satyabrata Maiti

References:
1. https://satyabratamaitiblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/the-covid-19-coronavirus-threat-to-india-and-some-self-assured-measures-to-avoid-it/
2. https://satyabratamaitiblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-and-best-possible-prevention-options-for-india/
3. (https://satyabratamaitiblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/golden-opportunity-for-india-to-test-our-ancient-wisdom-an-appeal-to-the-honourable-prime-minister-of-india/)

Mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere

The World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10.  Under the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health and the Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter, the first ever World Mental Health Day was celebrated on October 10, 1992. 

This year, to shed light on the alarming rise in mental disorders, the international awareness day will be focusing on “Mental Health for All” and an increased investment in mental health.

We are beginning to understand the importance of mental health more so than any other time in the history due to Covid-19 pandemic. It is now necessary to ensure wellbeing. To a great extent, the entire world has experienced transformation in their day to day lives for the past 9 months the entire world has come to a stand-still. This pandemic has created a global state of emergency for over 9 months and there is absolutely no signs of ending to it.

Holding the reigns of one’s sanity and ensuring mental and emotional wellbeing is difficult on any given day. The day-to-day stress about life that we carry around with us is hard in its own regard but when a global pandemic is thrown into the mix, ignoring mental health has become increasingly dangerous. 

The stress and anxiety caused by the constant threat to personal physical wellbeing and to that of loved ones alone is enough to wreak havoc.  Adding to that the isolation and quarantine along with the  deadly mixture  of  downfall of the economy, loss of jobs and job uncertainty, uncertainty for future, etc are causing  and emotional distress  to almost the entire global population that has led many people to become depressed.   Throughout this pandemic, statistics show an alarming increase in the number of people being affected by mental health issues.

Frustration, hostility and feelings of helplessness are increasing in recent years among the children and leading to suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.

This bleak picture demands, we ensure that mental health is prioritised now more than ever before.

Importance of mental health has been recognised in Indian ancient culture but unfortunately, not practiced now.  Therefore, it is the time for now seriously to revive yoga and meditation that was a part of our education curriculum for training the mind to be strong enough for overcoming those negative feelings.  It is never too late to do something.   

I invite you to join to action in highlighting the need for making mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere.

Jai Hind

Satyabrata Maiti

Additional information

Situation is often complicated by some of the most common myths related to mental health.  

Myth 1: Mental illnesses are rare.   This is not true. As per the World Health Organization, “close to one billion people globally have a mental disorder”

Myth 2: If you try harder, you can make your symptoms go away 

Myth 3: Everyone who has a mental illness needs medication to manage symptoms 

Myth 4: Keeping a job is too stressful for individuals with mental illnesses

Myth 5: Someone living with a mental illness is more likely to commit a crime or be violent 

Myth 6: Individuals who experience mental health symptoms will never recover