Soundaryalahari – Stanzas 41-53

This is in continuation to my previous post of my study of Part 1 (stanzas 01 to 41), known as Anandalahari.

41 Tavaadhaare moole saha samayayaa laasyaparayaa

Navaatmaanam manye navarasa mahaa taandava natam

Ubhaabhyaa metabhyaamudaya vidhi muddhisya dayayaa

Sanaadhaabyaam jajne janaka jananeemat jagathidam.

Oh Devi, in your moolaadhara chakra, I bow to the thou and Shiva in his form of Anandabhairava, who dances in the Laasya style with you. In this way, they remembered the universe that was destroyed in the Mahapralaya and decided to start the Creation of universe again.
[The first part of Soundaryalahari, called Anandalahari ends here. As per some this is the portion of SoundaryaLahari that Aadishankara had read and memorized during his visit to Kailasa, while the remaining has been taught to him by Devi herself, after Nandi had wiped off the rest!]

42 Gathair maanikyatvam gagana-manibhih-saandraghatitam

Kiritam te haimam himagiri suthe kirtayati yah;

Sa nideyascchaayaa-chchurana-sabalam chandra-akalam

Dhanuh saunasiram kimiti na nibadhnaati dhishanaam.

Oh, daughter of Himagiri, the one who could describe your crown made out of the Rubis which are the 12 aadityas, could also describe the crescent of moon in the light of that crown as a beautifu rainbow. There is no surprise in the mental ability of such a poet!

43 Dhunotu dhvaantam nastulitadalitendeevara vanam

Ghana snigdha slakshnam chikura nikurumbham tava shive;

Yadeeyam saurabhyam sahajamupalabdhum sumanaso

Vasantyasmin manye vala madhana vaati vitapinam.

This is a description of the beauty of Devi’s hair.
Oh, Shiva’s consort, please let your hair, which resembles a forest of dark indeevara flowers, thick, smooth and soft, remove the darkness (of ignorance) of our mind. Even the flowers of Indra’s garden come and hide within your hair, to get some genuine fragrance.

44 Tanotu kshemam nas tava vadana saundarya laharee

Pareevaaha srotah saraniriva seemanta saranih

Vahantee sinduram prabala kabaree bhaara timira-

Dvishaam vrindair bandee kritamiva naveenaarka kiranam

Oh Devi, the beauty of your face, which finds similarity to the beauty of a full-flowing river, in the middle of the dark hair that surrounds it from both sides, the tiny red vermillion mark of your forehead also resembles the beautiful rising son amidst two dark enemy ranks that makes your beautiful hair. And let the same vermillion mark provide us good luck.

45 Araalaih swaabhavyaadalikalabha-sasribhiralakaih

Paritham the vaktram parihasati panakheruha-ruchim;

Dara-smere yasmin dasana-ruchi-kinjalka-ruchire

Sugandhau maadhyanti Smara-dahana-chakshur-madhu-lihah.

Oh Devi, thy face, surrounded by black curly hairlocks, mocks the beauty of lotus flowers with its partially open mouth, with the white teeth that resembles the inner petals of Lotus, attracts Lord Shiva’s eyes, like bees!

46 Lalaatam lavanya-dyuti-vimalamaabhati tava yath

Dvitiyam tanmanye makuta-ghatitam chandra-sakalam;

Viparyaasa-nyaasad ubhayam api sambhuya cha mitah

Sudhaalepa-syutih parinamati raakaa-himakarah.

Oh Devi, thy brows, which shines from the purity of thy beauty, looks like a second moon-crescent of thy crown; and if one turns one of them over, they would join to form a full moon, which delivers the light of nectar to the universe!

47 Bhruvau bhugne kinchit bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini

Tvadiye nethraabhyam madhukara-ruchibhyaam dhrita-gunam;

Dhanur manye savye’tara-kara-grihitam ratipateh

Prakoshthe mushtau cha sthagayati nigudhaantaram ume

Oh Uma, thou art always focused on removing all fears of all living beings, thy eye-brows are bent like the bow, with the chord string made of honey bees, and thy nose that resembles a hand that pulls the chord in the middle of the bow; I feel it is indeed the bow of Kamadeva! [Kamadeva, though without body is well-known for his bow of flowers with chord made up of honey bees, is well known, and described earlier]

48 Aha: sute savyam tava nayanam arkaatmakatayaa

Triyaamam vaamam te srujati rajaneenayakatayaa;

Tritiyaa te drishtir dara-dalita-hemaambuja-ruchih

Samadhatte sandhyaam divasa-nisayor antara-charim

Oh Devi, your right eye, which is indeed the Sun creates the day, just as your left eye, which is the Moon creates the night. The third eye, which only remains partly open creates the twilight periods, between the day and night.

49 Vishaala kalyaani sphuta-ruchir ayodhyaa kuvalayaih

Kripaa-dhaaraadhaara kimapi madhuraabhogavatika;

Avanteedrishtiste bahu-nagara-vistaara-vijayaa

Dhruvam tattan-naama-vyavaharana-yogyaa vijayate

Oh Devi, your view field is very wide (Vishaala), is clear and beautiful, and so causes good luck (Kalyaani), which even the Kuvalaya flowers cannot compete (Ayodhyaa), the basis for the flowing benevolence (Dhaara), exceedingly sweet (Madhuraa), well elongated (Bhogavati), protecting (Avanti), and always victorious (Vjayaa). Thou also are victorious over all the above eight cities and is known also be these names.
[Devi’s view field is known by these eight forms, Vishaala, Kalyaani, etc., and all these famous eight cities got their names from her association]

50 Kavinam sandharbha-sthabaka-makarandh’aika-rasikam

Kataksha-vyakshepa-bhramara-kalabhau-karna-yugalam;

Amunchantau drshtva tava nava-ras’asvada tharalau-

Asuya-samsargadhalika-nayanam kinchid arunam.

Oh Devi, thou are always keen to listen to the poet’s description, as if they are bouquets of fragrant flowers, and your ears, honey bees; and your eyes enjoying their performances, and seeing their merriments, thy third eye has already turned red of envy

51 Shive sringaaraardra tad-itarajane krutsana-paraa

Saroshaa Gangaayam Girisa-charite’vismayavathi;

Haraahibhyo bheeta sarasiruha-saubhaagya-janani

Sakheeshu smeraa te mayi janani dristih sakarunaa.

Oh mother of universe, you always view Shiva with compassion, other men with contempt, angry with Ganga (for being Shiva’s second wife), amazed with the acts of Gireesha (Shiva), a bit scared of the serpents that adorn Shiva’s neck, provide beauty even to lotuses, happy with your friends, and compassionate to me.
[This also describes Devi’s eight forms, which are each one of the Nine attitudes (navarasa), except peacefulness (Shaanta)]

52 Gathe karnaabhyarnam garuta iva pakshmaani dadhati.
Puraam bhetthus chitta-prashama-rasa-vidraavana-phale;
Ime netre gotraadhara-pati-kulottamsa-kalike
Tavaakarnaakrishta-smara-shara-vilasam kalayathah.

Oh Devi, your eyes are so much elongated as they touch the ears, and like every arrow, with their fins of feathers to stabilize them, they too have eyelashes; thus thy eyes are capable to cause in Shiva’s peaceful mind the ripples of extreme love, as if these arrows of Kamadeva (eyes) are pulled way back to the ears.

53 Vibhakta-traivarnyam vyatikarita-lilaanjanatayaa
Vibhaati tvan-netra-tritayam idameesaana-dayite;
Punah strashtum devaan Druhina-Hari-Rudraan uparataan
Rajah satvam bibhrat tama iti gunaanaam trayam iva.

Your three eyes, which are brilliant with colors white Red and Black, representing Satva, Raja and Tama properties, to cause rebirth of the Brahma, Vishnu and Mahadeva, who also also got dissolved in the grand deluge. This also hints to the fact that even while the entire universe is destroyed, the Devi still remains

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Soundaryalahari part 1 Anandalahari (41 stanzas)

01 Shivah shaktya yukto yadi bhavati shaktah prabhavitum

Na chedevam devo na khalu kusalah spanditumapi;

Atas tvam aaraadhyaam Hari-Hara-Virinchadibhir api

Pranamtum stotum vaa kathamakrita-punyah prabhavati

This shloka briefly points to the Advaita Philosophy of Hinduism. The primordial form of Matter or Energy (Shakti), which always existed in the realm of a proto-universe, even before the Big Bang happened. Besides, there was also the primordial intelligence of this proto-universe (Shivam), without which the Universe could not be created.
Almost all religious faiths accept that there is a creator, (I agree, there are Atheists, even in Hinduism, who do not consider this supreme form of intelligence as necessary for the start of creation of Universe, which they simply attach to being only accidental), and while this is the core principle explained here, it also points to the existence of pure form of Energy, without which the supreme primordial intelligence could not function. Atheists among Hindus do not consider this as “Creator”, nor the form of energy that existed before the Big Bang as that form of energy was contained in the proto-universe, where it cannot manifest itself, as it does in the Universe. But that would need creation of such large mass of energy from nowhere.
However, the union of the supreme intelligence (Shivam) with Energy, marked the start of creation. The author feels that this fact, known to the greatest exponents of the beginning of the Universe, namely Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, is rarely perceivable by ordinary mortals. The union of the principles of Shivam with Shakti, caused the formation of the universe as we observe it now, as well as all subordinate forms of intelligence.
The formation of universe was the transformation of the purest form of energy into mass and most probably a huge ball of mass was formed which bursted (Big Bang, which occurred ~12 Billion years ago). It is pertinent to know how long the huge ball of matter, formed as a result of the union of the primordial intelligence with the primordial energy, but perhaps nobody is likely to know, as even time was not formed until the next event of Big Bang. Time began only at the time of Big Bang, and before that, while the proto-universe had energy or mass in some form, time didn’t exist.
After universe started expanding, into many galaxies, cluster of stars, stars, some of which also had planets around them, and also satellites to planets. I also feel that almost the same time, Black Holes are also formed, which, by its own gravity, pulls planets, stars and galaxies into itself, initially conserving mass and angular momentum, but ultimately converting everything it sucked into itself, to pure energy, which is probably recycled into some other proto-universe in the making, thus forming a continuous process. Time also tends to stop at this moment within the Black-Hole. Probably nobody would know when the energy content of these proto-universe would become enough for the primordial intelligence to start another cycle of creation!.
Where does the huge whirlpool that the Black Hole present itself take the energy content of the huge masses it sucked in? It is an interesting observation, but probably we might not know for certain. To know this, we should be able to travel faster than light, so as to go both forward and backward in time. Vishnu, and Shiva have both learned this technique, one has earned a name Kaalanemi and the other Kaalakaalan. (Besides, there are also some Asuras who have learned this technique, as per Purana). Knowledge of stopping time would also enable them to travel beyond the frontiers of universe.
Once we transcend time, we could go even beyond the 12 Billion year’s boundary where light has reached at the present time. It is beyond this part of the proto-universe that the energy content of the matter, that the Black Holes have sucked in has probably gone.
Now that within the known universe, we know that several galaxies (like our own Milky Way), stars (like our Sun), planets such as our own Earth among millions of other celestial objects. Even inside these objects, creation, maintenance and destruction cycles happen, as though directed by an intelligence.
The shloka doesn’t stop with the creation of universe! In a scale, perhaps a 1000 orders of magnitudes smaller, we have the state inside the atoms. The tightly packed nucleus, consisting of heavy particles such as protons, neutrons, and mesons, as well as smaller particles, the nucleus is a hugely concentrated mass, around which the electrons circle around in the empty space around. Perhaps at every scales of magnitude, you could find a similar system.

02 Taniyaamsam paamsum tava charana-pankeruha-bhavam

Virincih sanchinvan virachayati lokan avikalam;

Vahaty evam Shaurih katham api sahasrena shirasaam

Harah samkshudyainam bhajati bhasitoddhulana-vidhim.

After the creation of universe, which consists of many galaxies, stars, planets, and other celestial bodies, it is the turn of Lord Brahma to start creation of all lokas. Gayatri manthra describes only three of the lokas, Bhu (Earth wehere we live), Bhuvas (netherworld) and Swa (where higher beings live), other puranas describe many more. Most of the scriptures talk about 14 lokas at least, the higher lokas than Bhuloka, the Bhuvas, Svar, Mahas, Janas, Tapas, and Satya, as well as the lower ones, Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasaataala, Talatala, Mahaatala, Paatala. This stanza describes the fact that Lord Brahma created all these lokas and many more out of tiny specs of dust from the feet of Shakthi, which after the union with consciousness, has become very powerful. At the same time, Lord Vishnu takes care of the well-being of these lokas and their inhabitants, while Lord Hara their elimination and recycling. Some of these lokas are also the abode of Brahma (Satyaloka), Sutala (Mahabali, with Lord Vishnu as his protector) and so on.

03 Avidyaanaam antas-timira-mihira-dweeppa-nagari

Jadaanaam chaitanya-stabaka-makaranda-sruti jhari

Daridraanaam chinta-mani-gunanika janma-jaladhau

Nimagdaanaam damshtra mura-ripu-varaahasya bhavati.

This stanza talks about what the needs of individuals, in certain conditions are, and the way in which the Shakti provides relief to these conditions. For example, those who suffer from illiteracy or lack of consciousness (light) benefited by the bright sun, for those who have no spirits (dead bodies) the vibrancy of the bouquet of flowers (with nectar or the elixir of life), for those who lack wealth the Chitamani jewels, and for those who are drowned in worldly affairs, the teeth of Varahaavatara that lifts him up to consciousness. I have no more comments on this.

04 Tvad anyah paanibhyaam abhaya-varado daivataganah

Tvaam eka naivasi prakatita-varaabhityabhinaya;

Bhayaat traatum daatum phalam api cha vaancha samadhikam

Saranye lokaanaam tava hi charanaaveva nipunau.

Here the motherly affection of Shakti towards all her creations is described. While all other Gods provide for by their hands, the Mahashakti provides for those who have a glance at her feet, exactly what they need. No more comments.

05 Haris tvaam aradhya pranata-jana-saubhagya-jananim

Puraa naari bhutva Pura-ripum api ksobham anayat;

Smaropi tvaam natva rati-nayana-lehyena vapusha

Muninam apyantah prabhavati hi mohaya mahatam.

Out of all the learned ones, Hari and Kamadeva are the two, who have mastered the art of worshiping Shakti. Hari, by the grace of his worship of shakti, had attained the ability to become Mohini and deceive the daanav of nectar after the same was restored from the churning of the ocean of milk. And Mohini was so perfect that even it created ripples of wish in the minds of Shiva. And Kamadeva, as a result of the boons he received from Shakti, is able to move the minds of even maharishi.

06 Dhanuh paushpam maurvi madhu-kara-mayi pancha visikhaa

Vasantaha saamanto Malaya-marut ayodhana-rathah;

Tathaa’py ekah sarvam himagiri-suthe kaam api kripaam

Apaangat te labdhva jagadidam Anango vijayate.

This stanza again emphasiszes the ability of Kaamadeva, who could even cause a ripple in the minds of Lord Shiva, who by his anger burnt him to ashes; howwver, this one warrior of minds with no body, with a bow of flowers, the cord of bow made of a number of honey-bees, five flowers in the form of arrows, a friend in battle Vasanta Rithu, Cool breeze his war chariot. Even with these impossible objects, Kamadeva who has been blessed by Shakti, is able to conquer the entire world.

07 Kvanat-kanchi-daama kari-kalabha-kumbha-stana-nataa

Pariksheenaa madhye parinata-sarachandra-vadana;

Dhanur baanan paasam srinim api dadhaana karatalaii

Purastad astam noh Pura-mathitur aho-purushika.

I certainly loved the expression Puramathituraaho-purushika “Pride of the destroyer of Pura”, which the author has used here. Indeed she was always his pride.

08 Sudha-sindhor madhye sura-vitapi-vaati parivrte

Mani-dweepe nipo’pavana-vathi chintamani-grhe;

Shivaakare manche Parama-Shiva-paryanka-nilayaam

Bhajanti tvam dhanyah katichana chid-ananda-laharim.

I am yet to master the inner meaning of this stanza.

09 Mahim muladhare kamapi manipure huthavaham

Sthitham svadhistane hridi marutamakasam upari;

Mano’pi bhruu-madhye sakalamapi bhittva kula-patham

Sahasrare padme saha rahasi patyaa viharase.

This stanza of Soundaryalahari describes this the evolution of intellect in humans. The lowermost point, Mooladharam and Manipoorakam hosts the instincts of eating to grow and procreation, when the intelligence is at that level we are just animals (there might be some men too in this class, unfortunately). When the third point Swadhishtanam (fire) awakes he would have some instincts of making a home or living in family or even within a community, typical of lowest grade of humans (Shudra). When the next point of Hrudayam (wind) wakes, he would have Power, Courage and Skills to make things, fight and beginning of learning (Vaishya and Kshatriya). The next point is the neck (abode of Aakaasham, or the abode of sound) he would start reading and understanding more (veda-adhyayana) and having completed, can be considered Brahmana. When the skills are perfected the next point Ajna (abode of mind) wakes up, and he would be in a position to command and make others obey. When the awakening process continues, he could reach even the next state Sahasraram (abode of permanent happiness, bliss).
Essentially all these states can be achieved only by humans, all of whom are typically born Shudra, but attains higher skills by continued education and learning.

10 Sudhaa dhaara saaraischarana-yugalaantar vigalitaih
Prapancham sinchanti punarapi rasaamnaaya-mahasaah;
Avaapya svam bhumim bhujaga-nibham adhyusta-valayam
Svamaatmanam kritva svapishi kulakunde kuharini

From the literal meaning, it sounds like, she makes her apparition at times and from the her feet, the nectar that flows like a river, irrigates the entire universe, and after having done that, she retires into her hibernation in Mooladharam. However, the inner meaning is that even after the creation of universe, she appears to provide additional energy to it periodically and then withdraws it and vanishes.

I am not very certain, but it must be about the new matter & energy creation that happens in the universe, with no apparent reason.

11 Chaturbhih shrikantaih shivayuvatibhih panchabhirapi
Prabhinnaabhih sambhor navabhir api mula-prakrthibhih;
Chatus-chatvaarimsad vasu-dala-kalasra-trivalaya-
Trirekhaabhih saardham tava sarana-konaah parinatah

This stanza describes the residence of Shakti, and consists of four Shreekantha (Shiva) triangles, and five Shakti triangles unite to form the nine triangles which in turn becomes the entire peripheries of the Shree Chakram. This thus describes the construction of the Shree Chakram. This stanza too has a definite inner meaning, like the construction of some object for a specific purpose, but I am unable to go much beyond this now!

12 Tvadiyam saundaryam Tuhina-giri-kanye tulayitum

Kavindraah kalpante katham api Virinchi-prabhrutayah;

Yadalokautsukyaad amara-lalana yaanti manasaa

Tapobhir dushpraapam api girisa-saayujya-padavim.

The literal meaning of this is that even the most learned persons like Brahma are quite unable to describe the beauty of Shakti (the female form) or compare it with some other object. Even the immortal ladies of heavens, who wish to see her, have to do severe penance to get the mental state of Shiva (male form), as her beautiful form is visible only to Shiva.

I felt there has never been any better expression on the beauty of a female form!

13 Naram varshiyaamsam nayana virasam narmasu jadam,

Thavaa pangaaloke pathitha manudhaavanthi sathasa

Gala dweni bhandhaa kucha kalasa visthratha sichayaa

Hathath thrutyath kaanchyho vigalitha dhukoolaa yuvathaya.

I found this as one of the beautiful verses of this entire work. It suggests that a casual glance of the goddess, could make even an old, unpleasant in looks, and ignorant of pleasantries, can become the most desired favourite for hundreds of young girls, who would follow him unaware of the surroundings.

I suddenly felt jealous of the person who is blessed by the goddess!

14 Kshitau shat-panchaasad dvi-samadhika-panchaasadudake

Hutase dvaashastis chaturadhika-panchaasad anile;

Divi dvih-shadtrimsan manasi cha chatuh-sashtiriti ye

Mayukhaasteshaam athyupari tava padambuja yugam.

This stanza reveals the different numbers of nerves originating from the spinal cord and the brain, from the different centers. The nerves are depicted as Mayukha of Rays of light. For example, the lowermost node of spinal cord, the Moolaadharaa the abode of Earth, expressed by the word “Kshitau”, has 56 of them, the next, Manipooraka which is the center of Water (udaka) has 52, The next the abode of fire (huta), the Swaadhishthaana 62, the next Anaahata or Air (anila) with 54, and above that the Visuddhi which is also the abode of sky (divi) having 72 and the next Ajna, the abode of mind (manas) radiating 64 rays. Above this is the Sahasraaram which has the radiant feet of Shakti.

It would need a medical doctor to confirm if really the above points have these many nerves originating from them, of course all are part of the central nervous system, or the guidance of the human body. Indirectly it also hints about a central command system which is responsible for the good upkeep of the entire universe, at all levels of magnitudes.

15 Sarajjyotsnaa-shuddhaam sasiyuta jataajuta makutaam

Varatraasa-traana-sphatika-ghutikaa-pustaka karaam;

Sakrnna thvaa nathvaa kathamiva sathaam sannidadhate

Madhu kshira draakhsaa madhurimadhurinah phanitayah.

Here the poet describes again the beauty of Shakti. In India, six seasons are identified, with Sharad-ritu, which comes between the Rainy season (Varsha) and Pre-Winter (Hemant), is observed as the most beautiful. The Goddess is described as having Moonlight of a Sharad evening is identified as the color of her body, and having the Moon in her tuft of hair, and Varada and Abhaya postures, the garland of crystals, and the book of knowledge in her hands. Those who ever had the opportunity of worshipping her would be bestowed with a mastery of words, that would be as sweet as honey, milk, and grapes (those who worship the Goddess would become some of the most literate)

16 Kavindraanaam chetah kamalavana baalaatapa ruchim
Bhajante ye santah katichidarunaameva bhavatim;
Virinchi preyasyastarunatara sringaara laharee

Gabhiraabhi vaagbhir vidadhati sataam ranjanamami.

And for the minds of such great scholars, she would be like Sun to the group of Lotus flowers (Lotus flower usually blossoms with sun rise), and would produce literary works which would have the majestic flow of words of love (shringaara), that makes all those who read of hear them happy.

I loved the expression giving the color red to the mood Shringaara!

17 Savitribhir vaachaam sasi-mani-sila-bhanga-rucibhir

Vasinyaadyaabhistvaam saha anani samchintayati yah;

Sa karta kavyaanaam bhavati mahatam bhangi-ruchibhih

Vachobhi vaagdevi-vadana-kamalaamoda madhurai.

Oh Devi, those who worship thee, who is always accompanied by the Vaagdevatas like Vasini, who shine like the moonstone, and create beautiful words, would be bestowed with the ability to create works with powerful and sweet verses. Indirectly the reference of Vagdevatas here brings forth the beauty of the literature authored by Vasini and others (Lalita Sahasranaamam!). The eight Vagdevatas mentioned here are Vasini, Kaameshwari, Arunaa, Vimalaa, Jayinee, Modinee, Sarveshwari, and Koulini.

18 Thanuschaayabhisthe tharuna-tharuni –srisarinibhir
Divam sarvaamurveemarunimanimagnaam smarathi yah:
Bhavanthyasya thrasya-dhwana-harina shaleena nayanaa
Sahervasyaa vasyaa katikati na geervaana Ganikaa

Even those who imagine the entire worlds having been immersed completely due to the red color of rising sun as the effect of the glow of thy body, would have at his command even most of the celestial damsels like Urvashi, who are known for their beauty and to have beautiful eyes as those of deer.

This again describes what a devotee may get from worshipping her.

19 Mukham bindun kruthva kuchayugamathas thasya thadadho
Haraardham dhyaayedyo haramahishi the manmathakalaam
Sa sadya samkshobham nayathi vanithaa inyathilaghu
Thrilokimapyasu bramayathi ravindu sthana yugam.

This sloka may have some connotation of Thantrik Vidya; in fact most of the slokas of Soundaryalahari is known to have the roots of many of the Thantrik Vidya, allowing the devotees to practice them. The details of this path has to be learnt from a Guru.

The sloka tells that one who focusses his mind in the Sri Chakram, with the Bindu as representative of the face, the part below as her breasts, and still below as the private parts of a women he desires, and concentrates on the manmadhakala with her, it doesn’t need much to understand that that women would be attracted towards him; not only that, he would, very soon conquer the minds of the entire universe, which has the Sun and Moon as its breasts.

20 Kirantim angebhyah kirana-nikurumba’mrta-rasam

Hridi tvaamaadhatte hima-kara-silaamurthimiva yah;

Sa sarpaanam darpam shamayati shakuntadhipa iva

Jvara-plushtaan drshtyaa sukhayati sudhaadhaara-sirayaa.

This sloka also appears to be linked to Thantrik Vidya; probably to cure from snakebites or high fever. How to apply Thanthrik Vidya has to be learned separately.
It says that those who would worship devi, who has the ability to irrigate the worshipper through each of her organs, and such a person would be able to remove the poison of snakes, as Garuda eliminates the effect of snakes, and cures those who suffer from fever by a mere glance.

21 Tatillekhaathanvim thapana-sasi-vaisvaanara-mayim

Nishannaam shannaam apyupari kamalaanaam tava kalaam;

Mahaapadmaatavyaam mridita-mala-maayena manasaa

Mahaantah pasyanto dadhati paramaahlaada-laharim.

Oh Devi, you are bright, yet so thin as a blade of lightning, and representing Sun, Moon and Fire and having moved from Mooladhaaram to Sahasraarapadmam, where you stay in the Mahapdma Forest, you only can remove the dirt of ignorance, desires, anger, and make the worshipper transcend into a state of intoxication by happiness.

22 Bhavaani tvam daase mayi vitara drishtim sakarunaam

Iti sthotum vaanchan kadhayati Bhavaani tvam iti yah;

Tadaiva tvam tasmai disasi nija-saayujya-padavim

Mukunda-brahmendra-sphuta-makuta-nirajita-padam.

One who wish to request you as “Oh Bhavani, please bestow your blessings on me”, would, as soon as he syays “Bhavani Twam” you would provide the worshipper unification with your feet, which has been worshipped by the bright crowns of Mukunda (Mahavishnu), Brahma, and Indra.
Perhaps, the Devi probably interprets “Bhavani Twam” as “Let me become you”, and therefore grants a place in her feet immediately. It also shows that she loves her children so much so that any word uttered by them is interpreted by her in the most favorable way for them!

23 Tvayaa hrithvaa vaamam vapuraparitripthena manasaa

Sariraardham sambhoraparam api sankhe hrithamabhut;

Yadethat tvadrupam sakalam arunaabham trinayanam

Kuchaabhyaamaanamram kutila-sasi-chudala-makutam.

Oh Devi, you have already taken the left half of Lord Shiva, yet not fully satisfied, I feel you have also stolen his right half as well! Because when I see you in my mind, I always see you in red color, having three eyes and slightly bend due to the heavy weight of thy breasts, and a crown with moon on it. (This is the view the worshipper of Devi sees, in her form as Ardhanareeshwara.)

24 Jagat suthe dhata harir avati rudrah kshapayate

Tiraskurvannetat svamapi vapurisastirayati;

Sadaapurvah sarvam tadidamanugrihnaati cha Shiva-

Stavaajnaamaalambya kshanachalitayoh bhrulatikayoh.

This reaffirms the role of Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the Preserver and Rudra as the destructor of universe, after which he also vanishes (even Rudra form has to undergo destruction). Oh Devi, Shiva restores everything in their previous state when he considers the slightest movement of thy eyebrows as an order.
This sloka illustrates her supremacy over every form of intelligence.

25 Trayaanam devaanaam thriguna janitaanaam tava Sive

Bhavet pujaa pujaa tava charanayor ya virachitaa;

Tathaa hi tvat-paadodvahana mani pithasya nikate

Sthitaa hyete sasvanmukulita karottamsa makutaah

Oh Devi, all worships at your feet becomes worship of the Trimurtis, who have been created out of thy three properties, Satwam, Rajas and Tamas. This is ideal, as theses three, with their joined hands and crowns, which have been placed near the foot-rest when and where you place your feet. In other words, the Trimurtis are just three different forms which you have taken, and so there is probably no need to worship them separately, for those who worship the Devi.

26 Virinchih panchatvam vrajati hariraapnoti virathim

Vinaasam kinaaso bhajati dhanado yaati nidhanam;

Vitantri maahendri vithathirapi sammeelitadrisaa

Mahaasamhaare asmin viharati sati tvatpatirasau.

Oh Devi, when the time of Mahapralayam comes (that is 156,733,920,000,000 human years), all Gods such as Brahma, Vishnu, Yama, Kubera as well as all 14 manus, get destroyed. However, because of your love towards him, your husband still moves around freely.

[Please note that Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga are respectively 1,728,000, 1,296,000, 864,000 and 432,000 human years, which makes a Chaturyuga. 71 Chaturyuga would make 1 Manwantara and 14 Manwantara makes to 1 Kalpa (4,294,080,000 human years) 1 Kalpam is a day of Brahma, who has a life span of 100 years (36,500 Kalpas). It is also learnt that present Brahma is at his middle age, and next one Sri Hanuman]

27 Japo jalpah shilpam sakalam api mudraavirachanaa

Gatih praadakshinya-kramanamasanaadyaahuti-vidhih;

Pranaamah samvesah sukham akilamaatmaarpana-drisaa

Saparyaa paryaayastava bhavatu yanme vilasitam.

Oh Devi, let all my utterances be your prayers, all my deeds the Thantrik mudras of thy worship, all my movements as thy pradakshina, my eating be Aahuti for you, and my lying posture thy namaskaaram. Thus, let all my happiness, wishes and actions be your Pooja.
Can there be any better expression for Puja to any God?!

28 Sudhaamapyaasvaadya pratibhayajaraamrityu-harinim

Vipadyante visve Vidhi-Satamakhaadya divishadah;

Karaalam yat kshvelam kabalitavatah kaala-kalanaa

Na Shambhostanmulam tava janani taatanka-mahimaa.

Even though all Gods such as Indra and Brahma, who have eaten the Amrit, which is to remove fear of death and old age ultimately succumb to death when the time comes. However, due to the grand effect of your ear ornaments (which are worn only by married women, and her ear ornaments are Sun and Moon, so are perpetual!), Shiva who had even eaten the most potent Kalakuta Poison, doesn’t get affected by death.

29 Kiritam vairincham parihara purah kaitabha bhidah

Kathore kotire skalasi jahi jambhaari-makutam;

Pranamreshwateshu prasabha mupayaatasya bhavanam

Bhavasyaabhyutthaane tava parijanoktir vijayate.

Oh Devi, once while Brahma, Vishnu and Indra were worshipping you with their metallic crowns near your feet, Paramashiva arrived there. While you suddenly got up to welcome him, your chambermaids were telling you, “Please avoid Brahma’s crown right in front of you”, and “Please avoid the hard crown of Vishnu, as it might hurt your feet”, and please leave Indra’s Crown”, etc.
This goes to state that your court is always full of so many omnipotent Gods all the time.
30 Svadehodbhutaabhir ghrinibhiranimaadyaabhirabhito

Nishevye nitye tvaamahamiti sadaa bhaavayati yah;

Kimaascharyam tasya trinayana-samriddhim trinayato

Mahaasamvartagnir virachayati nirajana-vidhim.

Oh Devi, you are surrounded by the Siddhis like Anima which are the rays of light emerging from your body. The one who would always believe and worship you with the understanding “you and I are the same”, such a person would have the blessings as much as Paramashiva. There is no wonder if such a person is getting Nirajanam by Pralayaagni.
This sloka goes to say that the one who finds no distinction between himself and the Devi would attain the same level of intellect as Devi.

31 Chatuh-shashtyaa tantraih sakalamatisamdhaaya bhuvanam

Stitastat-tat-siddhiprasava-para-tantraih pasupatih;

Punas tvannirbandhaad akhila-purushaarthaika ghatanaa-

Svatantram te tantram khsiti-talamavaatitaradidam.

Oh Devi, Lord Paramashiva created the Sixty-four Thantras that could provide the upaasak limited abilities, and just after the entire humans got attracted towards them, hid it from them. However, he released these Thantras for the benefits of humans, only due to your insistence, in such a form that it could now provide them with any desires (purushaartha).
[This is an introduction of how the Thantravidya originated]

32 Sivah saktih kaamah kshitiratha ravih shithakiranah

Smaro hamsah sakrastadanu cha paraamaara-harayah;

Amee hrillekhaabhistisribhiravasaaneshu ghatithaa

Bhajante varnaaste tava janani naamaavayavatham.

Oh Mother, if one assembles the specific syllables corresponding to Shiva, Shakti, Kamadeva, Bhumi ( meaning the letters ka, ai, ee, la), with those of Sun, Moon, Kamadeva, Hamsa, Indra, namely the syllables ha, sa, ka, ha, la, as well as those corresponding to Paraashakti, Maara and Hari, namely the syllables sa, ka and la, and at the end of this add your own syllable Hreem, that would be your signature mantra (panchadashaakshari manthra). This you would get the base of the mantra “Aim hrim srim ka ai ee la hrim ha sa ka la hrim sa ka la hrim” of the Shreechakram.

[This sloka explains how the different Mantras take shape with different syllables.]

33 Smaram yonim lakshmim tritayam idamaadau tava manor

Nidhaayaike nitye niravadhi-mahaa-bhoga-rasikaah;

Bhajanti tvaam chintaamani-guna-nibaddhaaksha-valayaah

Sivagnau juhvantah surabhi-ghrita-dhaarahuti-shataih.

Oh Devi, some of the learned devotees, while enjoying the eternal bliss of thy worship, wearing a rosary made of Chintamani stones, express the syllables of Kamadeva, Yoni, and Lakshmi (respectively, “aim hreem sreem”), make hundreds of offerings of ghee from Kamadhenu’s milk in Shivagni (which is represented by the Triangle in Sree Chakram).

[I haven’t fully understood this. But this is probably to show how the mantras are created out of this prime source of all Tantrashastra]

34 Sariram twam sambhoh sasi-mihira-vakshoruha-yugam

Tavaatmanam manye bhagavati navaatmanam anagham;

Atah seshah seshityayam ubhaya-saadharana taya

Sthitah sambandho vaam samarasa-parananda-parayoh.

Oh Devi, I understand that the body of Shiva, with breasts of Sun and Moon becomes your body. Therefore, Shiva and Shakti have the complete unity of shesha and sheshi (which is the relation between ‘important’ and ‘unimportant’). Probably because, at the time of creation of universe, one can consider Shakti (energy) is more important than Shiva (the intelligence behind it), while at the final phase of destruction, when the universe disappears into undefined energy, it is Shiva (the intelligence) that is more important, than the energy itself.

35 Manas tvam vyoma tvam marudasi marut saarathirasi

Tvamaapastvam bhoomistvayi parinathaayam na hi param;

Tvam eva svaatmaanam parinamayithum visvavapushaa

Chidaanandaakaaram Shivayuvati-bhaavena bibhrushe.

Oh devi, mind, ether (aakaasham), air, fire, water, and bhumi are all you. There isn’t anything that is other than you. And you take this perpetually happy form of Shiva’s consort, only to make the universe perceivable to others.
The five elements, Bhumi, Water Fire, Air, and sky are supposed to be the base of everything in universe (Matter or Energy). Mind represents the intellect or intelligence. Here we see the universe being formed by the unification of the primordial energy form with primordial intelligence.

36 Tavaajna chakrastam tapana shashi koti dyutidharam,

Param shambhum vande parimilita paarswam parachitaa

Yamaaradhyan bhaktya ravi sasi sucheenaama vishaye

Niraaloke-aloke nivasati hi bhalokha bhuvane

Oh Devi, I bow to the form of Shiva, who resides in your Ajnachakra as para, with brilliance of several millions of Suns and Moons, along with Shakti (who is apara).
Of course, those who worship that Parama Shiva would not get influenced by Sun, Moon or Fire, nor illuminated by their brilliance (because they have become luminescent), as they (or their minds) reside in the Sahasraara.

37 Vishuddhou the shuddha sphatika visadam vyoma janakam

Shivam seve devimapi siva samaana vyavasitaam

Yayo kaantyaayantyaa sasi kirana saaroopya sarane

Vidhootantardhwaantaa vilasati chakoreeva jagathi

Oh Devi, in your Vishuddhichakra, I bow to the Shiva who is clear as crystal and the proponent of Aakashatatwa, and thy equivalent form of Shakti. The brilliance of moon that radiate from you two make the entire universe happy as a Chakori bird and get rid of the darkness of ignorance.

[This also reminds us that when those who practice yoga, when the Kundalini arrives at Vishuddhichakra, the practitioner would get rid of ignorance and enjoy happiness.]

38 Samunmeelat samvitkamala makarandaika rasikam

Bhaje hamsadvandvam kimapi mahataam maanasacharam

Yadaalaapaa dashtaadasha gunitha vidyaparinati

Yadadate doshaad gunamakhila madbhayah paya eva

Oh Devi, I bow to thee, who enjoy the nectar of wisdom of numerous learned people, and who resides in the minds of all great people, and just as a Swan separates milk from water, who removes all bad qualities from their good deeds, and the couple (Shiva and Shakti), whose discussions have turned themselves as the 18 Learnings for human.s and other benefits]

[This also hints of the Kundalini having reached the Anaahata Chakra, when the practitioner attains all 18 learning]

39 Tava swaadhishtaane hutavahamadhishtaaya niratam

Tameede samvatam janani mahatim tam cha samayaam

Yadhaloke lokaan dahati mahati krodha kalithe

Dayaardra yaa drishti shisiramupachaaram rachayati

Oh mother, the one who is in (have mastered) your Swaadhishtaana Chakram would have the Agni tatwa at his command, and has attained saaroopya with Shiva, mere so that a glance can burn the entire world, and by your graceful glance could cure all such burns in the next glance. I bow to the time, that has taken birth at this moment.

[When ultimately the universe gets destroyed, you are the one to decide when to resurrect the universe once again, and time also takes rebirth and starts again; because the concept of time, also stops when the end of universe comes]

40 Tatitwantam shaktya timira paripandhi sphuranayaa

Sphurannaa naanaaratnaabharana pareenedhendra dhanusham

Tava shyaamam megham kamapi manipooraika sharanam

Nisheve varshantam haramihira taptham tribhuvanam.

Oh mother, you who stays in the Manipooraka Chakra has powers like the brilliance of lightning yet capable of removing darkness, and wearing numerous jeweled ornaments that resemble Rainbow, thou protect the worlds which are scortched by Sun through the rains from the clouds you send. I bow to the duality of Shiva and Shakti.
[This is almost a repetition of the concept of the previous sloka, reinforces the ways in which she protects the universe]

41 Tavaadhaare moole saha samayayaa laasyaparayaa

Navaatmaanam manye navarasa mahaa taandava natam

Ubhaabhyaa metabhyaamudaya vidhi muddhisya dayayaa

Sanaadhaabyaam jajne janaka jananeemat jagathidam.

Oh Devi, in your moolaadhara chakra, I bow to the thou and Shiva in his form of Anandabhairava, who dances in the Laasya style with you. In this way, they remembered the universe that was destroyed in the Mahapralaya and decided to start the Creation of universe again.
[The first part of Soundaryalahari, called Anandalahari ends here.]

As per some, this is the portion of Soundaryalahari that Aadishankaraacharya had read and memorized during his visit to Kailasa, while the remaining 59 slokas have been taught to him by Devi herself, by her love towards him, after Nandi had wiped off the rest, which is actually called Soundaryalahari!

Life as a Student in France – Part 1

This was after I resigned my job, and went as a Scholarship Holder to France. I will discuss the events that happened during the first two years here in France.

I immediately offered.my resignation to the Project Manager Mr L N Sarin, who was very kind and gave me all kinds of advices. I left Mehsana on 17/10/1973 evening, by train to Mumbai.

In Mumbai, I went with my passport to the French Consulate for my Visa. The officer went through my copy of the letter from ministry and examined my passport, and agreed to affix a visa. He also made a booking by air France by the flight on 20/10/1973. The airline official at the consulate advised me to go to the Reserve Bank of India Mumbai as their Ahmedabad office had not provided a certain P-Form. The RBI issued the necessary P-Form as well as approved a foreign exchange of FF 50 towards my initial travel expenses. The Air France office kindly issued my ticket for France and thus I was all set for my studies in France.

My flight was in the night, and as required, I checked in at Mumbai Airport (The Santa Cruz Terminal was the only one those days). I boarded the flight, a Boeing 747, coming from Hong Kong, with a stop at Tel Aviv before landing in Paris. I was given a great French Dinner, but most I didn’t enjoy it, as I already had my dinner before boarding. I felt bad of having to waste a dinner. Before landing in Paris Orly airport, they gave me a breakfast, which I really enjoyed.

At the Orly Sud International Airport, where I had arrived in the morning, I got my US$50 exchanged into French Franks, after which I went to the Helpdesk. I told them that I am a student from India and had to go to the address in Paris, given by the GOI. They told me that I could use a Cab which would cost me quite a bit, or use the Orly Rail & Bus, a system using French Metro & Bus. I decided to use this option. I purchased a Rail ticket to the place which was advised by the HelpDesk, and boarded a bus. The bus driver had very courteously lifted my suit case and kept inside the Bus, with a smile. I was surprised at his behaviour, as in India, the driver would not have bothered to do such a thing. After he loaded all baggages, and ensuring that all passengers had boarded, he started the bus which was to take us to the Rail (or Metro, probably) station Rungis. The same driver loaded all baggages in the train, very politely. I thanked him profusely.

The train took us to the Invalids Station, where I was to get down. The office I was to go was quite close by, and the Taxi fares were quite reasonable. I took a Taxi and told the driver where I was to go, by showing the address & directions given by the airport helpdesk. He was kind enough to take me to the office.

At this Office i was welcomed by a lady, who told me that if I am yet to pay the cab fares, she would pay, and told me that they generally expect students to take a cab from the airport to their office, even without any money with them. My case was different, as I had spent much less, all within the cash available with me.

The first part of my study program was a French Language Course. I was told that I need to be proficient in this language to be able to write exams or reports or theses in French. This was a quick fix, and this was in Royan, a small town in the Atlantic Coast in the Charente-Maritime District. A train was to take me there that evening from Gare d’Oreleans Austerlitz.

This office also had a university restaurant nearby, I was given a lunch coupon so that I could have a lunch there. In the evening I was courteously dropped off with my baggage at the Railway Station. The rail ticket and money for my journey and some more was also provided. Actually I don’t remember at all about how much money I was to get until then, but here somebody told me that the GOI scholarship was for FF 250 per month. Besides, since Royan didn’t have a university restaurant nor residence, I was to get an additional FF 100 per month.

Early morning the train had reached a station La Rochelle where I was to take small train to Royan. This way, I also had a view of the French country side. The train went through Rochefort, Saintes and finally Royan. It was in fact the rail Terminus. The Paris office had sent information of my arrival and I was picked up by my landlady Madame Gilet. The place I was to stay was in Boulevard de l’Ocean. The language institute was just walking distance from there.

I was the first of Indian students, sent by the Ministry of Education. I was told that they have received communication of three students in all, to undergo French Language Course at the Language center (Centre Audiovisuel de Royan pour l’Enseignement Linguistics (CAREL).

The director of the institute was Max Delhomme, the chief of administration Madamme(Mme) Reigneux, Head of French Language course Prof Patreuilleux, Reception Mademoiselle (Mlle) de la Chappelle. Apart from this there were teachers Mlle Moulya, Mlle Catherine, Mme Patreuilleux and Mme Jeanine Louche.

There were many students from Arabia, mostly Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanian, two from Yemen and Albania and one each from Rhodesia, and Malawi. We were to be soon three Indians.

In about a week, Mr Amar Ranjan Ghosal, chemical engineer from Jadavpur University joined. The same day there was also Aishwarya Mann Shreshtha from Nepal and Kaukert Bonchukosol from Thailand. After a few days, Mr Sharma who was a teacher in aeronautical engineering in University of Punjab also joined.

We Indians the Thai and the Nepalese knew no French and naturally were moving together. But soon we started talking in Hindi, as Shreshtha also knew Hindi, putting Kaukert to some discomfort. Though I felt it was not good, this Hindi conversation always continued, although Kaukert, Shreshtha and me used to be together more occasionally. In fact we became quite thick friends. Among the Indians, such friendship was only with Ghosal, as Sharmaji was interested in his personal activities alone.

I started communicating with Indian embassy for information and news from India. They were very friendly those days, probably because of the very small Indian Community. In one of my letters, I explained to poor understanding of India among my classmates from various countries, as well as the French staff of the Language centre, and without any notice, I got a carton of Film Reels, suggesting that I could project them for the benefit of the public there. As soon as I had this, I requested the Director Max, who agreed to screen it, Professor Julian of the English Department was asked to coordinate, along with Mme Reigneux. My friends Ghoshal, Sharma were also very happy, so was Shreshtha. A good crowd, mostly Frenchmen, took part in the screening of the film and discussions that followed. Of course, for me also, it was the first time I had seen the film, so I didn’t have a clue what was going to be shown, but it was a good show. From the Language Centre, they had arranged some cold drinks / coffee for the participants. The next day, I packed up all the stuff and sent the reels back to Indian Embassy, by Rail Courier Service.

This event made Professor Julian to be one of my good friends, as he had invited me to his home to meet his wife, who was from Australia.

My class teacher was Mlle Moulya, but after about a few months, some of the Arab Students requested for changing her, and it was immediately agreed, and Mme Louche became our teacher. Kaukert and Shreshtha were also in my class, also the Albanian, Jordanian, Yemeni, Malawi, Rhodesian, Kuwaiti and some Syrian, and Palestinian students. Ghosal and Sharma used to be in another class with Catherine as the teacher, with the rest of Palestinian and Syrian students. Perhaps this association of such diverse nationalities that helped me to learn language much faster and better.

Professor Patreuilleux was also advising students in their pursuit of higher studies in France. I had written a couple of letters, of course in my own French, to universities and the Institut Francais du Petrol, requesting for an opportunity of research. Professor Patreuilleux had modified those letters, encouraging me to write more, and told me of the nuances of addressing persons of higher education or public institutions, as well as the polite ways of ending the letters in different contexts. I think I followed his ways, even in the last ever letter I wrote to someone.

We also used to have Weekly picnics around the area, to Cognac, Saintes, Poitiers, La Rochelle, as a part of our Language Program. Probably the funding was from the French Government, as we didn’t have to pay except for the packed lunch (Sandwiches generally).

In Cognac we had visited several of the famous the wineries and the distillery of Martell. We used to get free samples of wine and cognac, which some of our Arab friends weren’t supposed to have, but in general, they had enjoyed the drink more than others. We were given an introduction to wines of the region and Cognac. Saintes was a small town nearby, known for its cathedral and wineries around.

Poitiers was a historical sleepy town, or a small city, where in the olden days, the Crusades were fought between invading Muslim Army and the defending Christians under Charles Martel (Who subsequently became the Pope Charlemagne of Avignon). Battle of Poitiers was quite decisive as if the results went otherwise the Europe would have been another large islamic area. I had no idea that Spain and the southern half of France were part of the Arabs of North Africa till then.

La Rochelle was also a small city like Poitiers, had a sea port and Chemical Industry, and looked prosperous. Characteristic of all towns and cities was a large Cathedral, which could be seen from almost everywhere. Buildings were small, unlike in larger towns and small cities which had many multi storied buildings.

By March we had completed the Courses, all of us could read, write and speak fairly fluently. Professor Michel Combarnous had replied me saying that he would be in Bordeaux one of those days, and i could meet and discuss the prospects of my higher studies under him. This was a decisive interview, and he had suggested that after a few more months of my present course, I can join him in the team at Toulouse. When he saw a communication I had with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore offering me admission to a course in Master of Engineering, he took a copy of the same and told me that that was the only recognized educational/research institution in India by the French Government and would be very handy for my admissions.

At this time, we were scheduled to go to some larger university premises where we were to undergo specialised training for the specific areas of industry or science where we were to be specialised. Ghosal and I, along with several Arab students were sent to the Paul Valerie University of Montpellier in the Southern France. The Course here was under Prof Lalaurie of the Faculty of Chemistry. We had a good teacher who explained various technical terms of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, comprehension and writing of technical language.

Weekends were more interesting, as we were taken on picnics to Sete, Nimes, Avignon, Sea Beaches and Grottes (Caves) of Clamouse, and Notre-Dame, Pont-du Gard, and many other places. I saw Bull fight for the first time in Avignon (known to be the seat of Holy pope, until Vatican had the prestige many years later).

In the month of April, I had been called to visit Toulouse, where I was to meet Professor Serge Bories and Michel Combarnous. Serge had taken me around the Laboratories of the group and in the institute in Banleve as well. I was told that I could actually come any time and start the program.

Thus, I think in May or June 1974, I was in Toulouse, staying in the University Hostel of Daniel Faucher (It was a vacation Hostel for students who actually stay in any of the six or seven Hostels in the city), and started my work in the IFP-IMF Group under Prof Serge Bories.

My work in the Research Lab had started earlier than the University sessions to reopen. After that happened, I was advised to take a few courses as a pre-requisite for my PhD Registration. Turbulence, Mechanics of Suspensions, Two-Phase Flow and Heat transfer with phase change were among the compulsory subjects that I had to clear. Meanwhile my first year’s requirement was to study literature, and find a suitable project, which if approved by the industry, would fetch me grants to pursue my research, apart from the University’s grants, which was not as high. In about three months, I had completed the Library research, and selected a project, which Serge and Michel had reviewed. They felt that it could be presented to the Group’s Board, for possible grants. And the funding of the research was soon approved by March-April 1975.

However, the passage of the compulsory courses was far from satisfactory. Out of the four subjects, I could not clear in one in the Exams of May 1975, and had to take it fresh in July 1975 once again. The rule was that the repeat examination was just on one subject, which I would know only when I start writing the exam!. This time, I was much luckier, and the exam results were fine.

With this, my research project had started in July 1975

Sri Chakram: What it represents

SriChakram.jpg

Since ancient times, it has been a common practice to install a Shri Yantra (or Chakra) at the gate of all Hindu temples. This Yantra is said to possess the powers to remove all negative vibrations and energies from the environment. Meditating on the Shri Yantra and worship of Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth & prosperity) harmonizes and optimizes all the four legitimate goals in our life.

  • Pursuit of Dharma (Vocation)
  • Pursuit of Wealth (Artha)
  • Pursuit of Sensual Pleasures (Kama)
  • Pursuit of Salvation (Moksha)

The Shri Yantra is said to be the most powerful geometrical Yantra for peace & prosperity. Its design is based on intersection of nine triangles. Four of these triangles are pointing upward and five downward. The four upward pointing triangles are Shiva triangle (Yang forces) and five downward pointing triangles are Shakti or Durga triangles (Yin forces). A combination of these nine triangles makes Shri Yantra the most dynamic of all Yantras.

What does the Shri Yantra do?

The Shri Yantra has the powers to remove all negative vibrations and energies from the environment. Installing a Shri Yantra in one’s home or at the place of work will protect the person from all Vastu deficiencies (referred to as the Fengshui distortions by the Chinese) It purifies the environment and it helps creating wealth and prosperity, not only for the individual, but also in the entire environment surrounding the individual.

The Geometry of the Shri Yantra

The Shri Yantra is constructed with nine triangles – four pointing upwards and five pointing downwards – it is the symbol of balance and the static state. The imbalance is deliberately introduced in the construction of Shri Yantra in the form of the 9th triangle, which makes the Yantra dynamic and powerful, symbolizing increasing prosperity and wealth. Shri Yantra is the only asymmetric geometric Yantra, but the beauty of it is that visually, it will appear symmetrical. Shri Yantra usually represents the body of goddess Tripurasundari but some scriptures refer to it as the navel of the Divine Mother from which the entire universe is created. Shri Yantra is also known as the Yantra of the cosmos. It is constructed on the sameo principles as the human organism is created. Just as the body has nine Chakras (Psychic centers), so too does the Shri Yantra.

I- Bhupur (TRAILOKYAMOHANA CHAKRAM): All geometrical Yantras reside on Bhupur, the square with four gates is also known as “Trailokya Mohana Chakram”, the point that attracts the three Lokas (places) the physical, astral and the celestial. Bhupur is the seat of the Yantra – the dwelling place of Shakti, representing the grass material phenomenon – in which Shakti dwells as long as cycle of creation and preservations lasts.

Bhupur consists of three concentric enclosures made from parallel straight lines. The outer line is the home for ten Siddhis, namely Anima, Laghima, Mahima, Isitva, Vasitwa, Prapti, Prakamya, Bhukti, Iccha, and Sarva Kaama. All these ten Sidhis are depicted red in colour, have four hand, are armed with Chintamani, Kapaalam, Trident and Siddhyanjanam and are very compassionate.

The middle line of Bhupur is the home for the 8 matas, namely, Brahmi, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Mahendri, Chamunda, and Mahalakshmi. They have similar powers as generally attributed to their male counterparts and also are armed similarly.

The innermost enclosure of Bhupur has 10 Mudradevatas, namely, SarvaSamkshobhini, SarvaVidravini, Sarvaakarshini, Sarvavasamkari, Sarvonmadini, SarvaMahankusha, Sarvakheshari, SarvaBija, SarvaYoni, and Sarvatrikhanda. They are embodiment of all Mantras. Sarvasamkhsobhini is the Mudradevata of the entire Trailokyamohanachakram.

Thus the Trailokyamohana Chakram is the outermost of Sri Chakram, and has 28 (Siddhi / Mata / Mudradevata), and is represented by the formless Prakata Yogini. The Trailokya Mohana Chakram is worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim Amam Souhu Etah Prakata Yoginyah Trailokyamohana Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Parijaata gunadhikya padabjayai namaha”. The Siddhis and devis are to be worshipped by a prayer to each one, for example, to the Devi representing Anima / Brahmi, it would be “Aim Hrim Srim Amam Souhu Anima Sidhaye Namaha” or for any of the Devi, it would be “Aim Hrim Srim Amam Souhu Brahmi Maatai Namaha” or “Aim Hrim Srim Amam Souhu Sarvasamkshobhini mudradevyai Namaha As I am not certain which order these Siddhi / Maata / Mudradevata have to be worshipped.

Regarding the eight Sidhis, we can have the following explanations:

Minuteness – anima. This is the power which the yogi possesses to become as small as an atom, to identify himself with the smallest part of the universe, knowing the self in that atom to be one with himself. This is due to the fact that the anima mundi, or soul of the world, is universally spread throughout all aspects of divine life. Anima also means you know the subtlest of things around you and just by mere will, you can make yourself appear very small to everyone. Or you can become so subtle that you can enter into the dreams of people and guide them or if you misuse the power, you can misguide them, which is dangerous. Or even though all the doors to a room are locked and the walls are solid, by assuming a subtle form, you are able to penetrate those walls and doors. So anima means very subtle, to be atomic in size or to assume the minutest form with which you could go anywhere you like.

Magnitude – mahima. This is the power to expand one’s consciousness and thus enter into the greater whole as well as into the lesser part. Mahima means to be very, very, very heavy. These are only the surface meanings. There are so many other celestial meanings to these most practical powers, which come to you.

Gravity – garima. This concerns weight and mass and deals with the law of gravity, which is an aspect of the Law of Attraction. Garima is to be able to assume a mountainous size, which means your form, appears colossal, mountainous or cosmic.

Lightness – Laghima. This is the power underlying the phenomenon of levitation. It is the capacity of the adept to offset the attractive force of the planet and to leave the earth. It is the opposite of the third siddhi. Laghima means to be very light. By practice of the mantra, no matter how weighty you are, you have the power to make your entire system very light, like cotton or flower petals. That is the secret of levitation and reaching anywhere.

The attainment of the objective – prapti. This is the capacity of the yogi to achieve his goal, to extend his realization to any locality or to reach anything or any place he desires. It will be apparent that this will have an application on all the planes in the three worlds, as indeed all the siddhis have. Prapti means that whatever you wish for, either for yourself or for others, immediately you obtain the same.

Irresistible will – prakamya. This is sometimes described as sovereignty, and it is that driving irresistible force found in every adept, which bring about the fruition of his plans, the attainment of his desires, and the completion of his impulses. It is this quality which is the distinguishing characteristic of the black and the white magician alike. It necessarily demonstrates with greatest force on that plane in the three worlds which reflects the will aspect of divinity, the mental plane. All the elements obey this force of will as used by the yogin. Prakamya means, among other things, that if a soul is not resurrected, that is, it is caught somewhere in the astral worlds, it is visible to you, and you can use that prakamya power to send that soul to a higher dimension. Or if someone is asking for help in conquering the prarabdha karma, the incurable karma, and he remembers the guru, the guru is able to cure that karma and see that the person is healed, restored to his health or pristine purity or lifted from any fall and raised to a higher height. With prakamya, you even have the power to create new dimensions or to ask a special favor from God for certain souls for their enlightenment. This applies not only for individual wishes, but for the collective wishes of mankind.

Creative power – Ishitva. This concerns the power of the adept to deal with the elements in their five forms and produce with them objective realities, and thus to create on the physical plane. Ishitva means lordship. You are the lord of your senses, the lord of your mind. It means you conquer and wherever you go, that lordship is there. That is why you call Jesus ‘Lord Jesus,’ or Krishna ‘Lord Krishna.” Often these powers come to a social, political or religious leader and all too often, we see how this power is misused. You have to develop humility and remember that God alone is Lord. If you allow the ego to operate this siddhi, then definitely there will be brainwashing and the killing of the spirit of others. You must be very careful to remain humble. All great Masters fall on their knees when this siddhi manifests and pray again to the Almighty to bless them with humility. “Blessed are the poor in spirit …” it is said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Otherwise, you will get lordship over certain things, such as continents or wealth, etc., but you’ll lose the Kingdom.

The power to command – vasitva. The magician as he controls the elemental forces of nature, utilizes this power and it is the basis of mantra yoga, the yoga of sound or of the creative word. Creative power, the seventh siddhi, concerns the elements and their vitalizing, so that they become “effective causes;” this siddhi, the eighth, concerns the power of the Word to drive the building forces of nature into coherent activity so that forms are produced. It also means attraction. Wherever you go, you are the magnet, the centre of attraction. You attract everything–all the angels, all the human beings, all the species–towards you.

Out of the 100 stanzas of Soundarya Lahari, some 28 are also associated with the above Siddhi, Maata / Mudradevata. Here again, I am not sure which of the 28, and so I am not making any suggestion!

II- Shodashdal (SARVAASAPARIPURAKA CHAKRAM): Within Bhupur, there are three circles, which are only to keep a separation between it and the next Chakram, the Sarvaasaparipuraka Chakram. This ring of sixteen lotus petals, the final outer ring of the Yantra is also known as “Sarvaashaparipuraka Chakra”. This is the point of fulfilling all our hopes and desires, of materialising all kinds of expectations. It is the final wish fulfilling Chakra.

The sixteen petals are the seats of sixteen Shaktidevatas. The Shaktis work through five Elements, ten Indriyas and one Mind, thus, Kaama, Buddhi, Ahankaara, Shabda, Rupa, Rasa, Gandha, Chitta, Dhairya, Smruti, Nama, Beeja, Atmaa, Amruta, and Sareera – The sixteen tools that are represented by the sixteen petals. The corresponding devatas are, Kamaakarshini Devi, Budhyaakarshini Devi, Ahamkaraakarshini Devi, Shabdaakarshini Devi, Sparshaakarshini Devi, Rupaakarshini Devi, Rasaakarshini Devi, Gandhaakarshini Devi, Chittaakarshini Devi, Dhairyaakarshini Devi, Smrutyaakarshini Devi, Namaakarshini Devi, Bijaakarshini Devi, Atmaakarshini Devi, Amrutaakarshini Devi, and Sariraakarshini Devi. These devataas are of the colour of Corals, and radiate a bright smile, four-handed, three-eyed and armed with Bow, Arrows, Sword and Shield. The presiding Mudradevata of this Chakram is Sarvavidravini. We start our meditation from this outer ring of sixteen petals where we first create before seeking divine grace to fulfill all our desires.

The Sarvaasaparipuraka Chakram: The enclosure is worshipped as Gupta Yogini as “Aim Hrim Srim Aim Klim Souhu Etah Gupta Yoginyah Sarvasa Paripuraka Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Chakraraja Mahayantra Madhya vartayai Namaha”. Each of the devis could be worshiped in the general form: “Aim Hrim Srim Aim Klim Souhu Kamaakarshini devyai namaha” etc.

Just as in the case of the 28 Siddhi / Maata / Mudradevatas of the Trailokya Mohana Chakram, 16 of the stanzas of Soundarya Lahari are also associated with the yoginis described here.

III- Ashtadal (SARVA SAMKSHOBANA CHAKRA): The inner ring of eight-louse petals is also known as Sarva Samkshobana Chakra. These petals symbolize the seat of eight goddesses. Their functions are Vachan (Speech) , Adaan (Transaction), Gaman (Departure), Visarg (Transcendence), Ananda (Bliss), Upadan (Giving), Upeksha (Neglect), The eight petals symbolize Rupa (Form), Rasa (Taste), Gandha (Smell), Sparsha (Touch), Shabda (Sound), Nada (Primordial Sound), Prakriti (Primordial nature) and Purusha (The self). The corresponding devataas are Anangakusuma Devi, Anangamekhala Devi, Anangamadana Devi, Anangamadanatura Devi, Anagarekha Devi, Anagavegini Devi, Anangankusha Devi, and Anangamalini Devi.

This is the superset of our complete human existence. Meditation on this Chakra harmonizes the complete human existence in all its manifestation. They are also red in colour, with bows of sugar-cane, and arrows of flowers, and capable of defeating anybody. They derive their strength from Kaamadev. The Mudraadevi of this chakram is Sarvaakarshini Devi. Sarvasamkshobhana Chakram is represented by Guptatara Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Hrim Klim Souhu Etah Guptatara Yoginyah Sarva Samkshobhana Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Sahasra Surya Samyukta prakashayai Namaha”. The Devis can be worshiped like: “Aim Hrim Srim Hrim Klim Souhu Anangakusuma devyai Namaha”.

As in the previous cases, eight of the shlokas of Soundarya lahari are associated with these eight devis.

IV- Chaturdashar (SARVASAUBHAGYADAYAKA CHAKRA): The group of fourteen outermost triangles or Shaktis is also known as ‘SarvaSaubhagyadayaka Chakra’. This means the divine grace, which allows us to take control of our destiny or fortune. Thes fourteen Shaktis reside in manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (being), ahankara (ego or self consciousness), and the 10 Indriyas. The Devis of this Chakram are Sarvasamkshobhini Devi, Sarvavidravini Devi, Sarvaakarshini Devi, Sarvaakladini Devi, Sarvasammohini Devi, Sarvastambhini Devi, Sarvajrumbhini Devi, Sarvavasamkari Devi, Sarvaranjini Devi, Sarvonmadini Devi, Sarvarthasadhini Devi, Sarvasampathipurani Devi, Sarvamantramayi Devi, and Sarvadwandwakshayamkari Devi. They are collectively known as Sampradaaya Yoginis and have their hair bound as a single bunch, have four hands armed with Bow Arrows, Sword and a Shield named Vanhichakram. This creates the complete synthesis – and we are blessed with “Divine Grace” to create the destiny that we desire in this life. The Sarvasaubhagyadayaka Chakram is with 14 devis. The entire chakram is represented by Sampradaya Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Haim Haklim Hasouhu Etah Sampradaya Yoginyah Sarvasaubhagyadayaka Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Sahasra Rati Soundarya Sariraya Namo Namaha”. The ten devis can be worshipped in the form: “Aim Hrim Srim Haim Haklim Hasouhu Sarvasamkshobhinyai Namaha”.

Again, fourteen of the shlokas of soundarya lahari are associated with these Sampradaaya yoginis.

V- Bahiradashaaram (SARVAARTHASADHAKA CHAKRA): The group of ten outer triangles known as the Bahiradasharam is also known as “Sarvaarthasadhaka Chakra”- the point of realization of all desires. This Chakra gives one the power to realize what one wants – whatever gives meaning to one’s life. It removes all impediments to pursue wealth or Artha in this life. In the ten triangles reside ten Yonis or Shaktis (Energy points). These Shakties regulates the ten Pranaas or life forces in human organism. It is through Pranaas that everything becomes alive and full of meaningful (Artha). Meditation on this Chakra helps one get control over Pranaas which in turn gives control over mind. The mind works through ten Indriyas (five organs of action and five organ of senses). The sense organs make the outside world meaningful and the organs of the action provide the skill to obtain the objects of desire and satisfy the senses. These shaktis are Sarvasidhiprada Devi, Sarvasampathprada Devi, Sarvapriyamkari Devi, Sarvamangalakaarini Devi, Sarvakamaprada Devi, Sarvadukhavimochini Devi, Sarvamrtyuprasamani Devi, Sarvavighnanivarini Devi, Sarvangasundari Devi, and Sarvasoubhagyadayini Devi. They are responsible with providing their respective siddhis to the worshipers. They have a clear complection, and armed with Parasu (Axe), Paasam (Rope), and Ghantamani (Bell). These shaktis are collectively known as Kulottirna Yoginis. The mudradevi of the Sarvaarthasaadhaka Chakram is Sarvonmadini.

Sarvaarthasadhaka Chakram manifests ten devis. The enclosure is represented by Kulottirna Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Hsaim Hsklim Hsouhu Etah Kulottirna Yoginyah Sarvarthasadhaka chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Srishodashakshari Mantra Madhyakayai Namaha”. The ten devis can be worshipped in the form: “Aim Hrim Srim Hsaim Hsklim Hsouhu Sarvadukhavimochani devyai Namaha”, etc.

Ten of the shlokas of Soundarya Lahari are associated with these ten devis.

VI- Antardashaaram (SARVARAKSHAAKARA CHAKRA): The group of ten inner triangles, the Antardashaaram is known as “SarvaRakshaakara Chakra”- the all-round protector. Protection is achieved not from the outside but from within – through inner discipline. The ten triangles represent all the five organs of action and the five organs of sense, known as the Indiryas. By controlling these ten Indriyas one creates an inner protective shield from all external stimuli. Within the ten triangles, are seated the ten Yonis, representing the ten body fires or functions. The deities on this chakra are Sarvajna, Sarvasakti, Sarvaishvaryaprada, Sarvajnanamayi, Sarvavyadhivinasini, Sarvaadharaswarupa, Sarvapaapahara, Sarvanandamayi, Sarvarakshaswaroopni, and Sarepsitaphalaprada. These shaktis have four hands in which they all have Lightning, Spear, Mace and Chakra as weapons. They are very fair in colour and brilliance. They are commonly called Nigarbha Yoginis and the Mudradevi of this chakra is Sarvamahaamkusa.

Meditation on this group of 10 triangles regulates these 10 body functions and helps one become the master of the five organs of actions and five organs of senses – providing full internal protection. Sarvarakshakara Chakram is with 10 devis. The Chakram is represented by Nigarbha Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Klim Blem Etah Nigarbha Yoginyah Sarvarakshakara Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Mahesha Yukta Natana Tatparayai Namo Namaha”. The devis can be worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim Klim Blem Sarvajna Devyai Namaha”

As shown earlier, ten of the Shlokas of Soundarya Lahari are devoted to these ten devis.

VII- Ashtar (SARVAROGAHARA CHAKRA): Ashtar is the group of eight triangles, is also known as “Sarva Rogahara Chakra” which means destroyer of all disease or disturbance of ease. The 8 triangles, in fact symbolize the 8 implements or weapons held by Kameshwar and Kameshwari to destroy all diseases. The 8 triangles of Ashtar and one central Trikona – these 9 triangles are called the “Navdwar Chakra” – the foundation stone of the phenomenal world. Meditation on the Ashtar, Trikona and Bindu gives protection, power, bliss and takes away all kinds of spiritual, mental and physical ailments. These eight Vagdevataas are bright with colour of Ashoka Flowers, and have in their four hands Bow, Arrows, Book and Veena. the Theydevataas are also theauthor of They are collectively called Rahasya Yoginis. Tripuraasiddha is the Keeper of this Chakra and its Mudradevi is Sarvakhechari.

Vasini Vagdevatadevi – worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Hrim Srim Souhu amam im eem um uum arum aruum alum aluum em aim om oum ah am arbum Vasini Vagdevatayai Namaha” Thus Vasini Vagdevata represents all vowels of the alphabet. Incidentally, the Rshis of Lalita Sahasranamam are the same Vagdevatas.

Kameshwari Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu kam kham gam gham gnam khlrim kameshvari Vagdevatayai Namaha” (This is the “kavargam” or group of consonents)

Modini Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu cham chham jam jham njam Nablim Modini Vagdevatayai Namaha” (This is the “chavargam” or group of consonents)

Vimala Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu tam tham dam dham nam ylum Vimala Vagdevatayai Namaha” (This is the “Tavargam” or group of consonents)

Aruna Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu tam tham dam dham nam jmrim ArunaVagdevatayai Namaha” (This is the “thavargam” or group of consonents)

Jayaini Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu pam pham bam bham mam Hsluyum Jayaini Vagdevatayai Namaha” (This is the “pavargam” or group of consonents)

Sarveshwari Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu yam ram lam vam jhmrym Sarveshvari Vagdevatayai Namaha” (The group of consonents ya, ra, la, va)

Kaulini Vagdevatadevi- worshipped as “Aim hrim srim hrim souhu sam sham sam ham lam zham ksmrim Kaulini Vagdevatayai Namaha” (The group of consonents sa, sha, sa, ha and la)

Sarvarogahara Chakram with its eight devis, represented by Rahasya Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Hrim Srim Souhu Etah Rahasya Yoginyah Sarvarogahara Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Srim Ashesha Dushta Danuja sudanayai Namo Namaha”.

These eight Vagdevatas are also worshipped through the eight shlokas of Soundarya Lahari.

VIII- Trikona (SHARVASIDDHIPRADA CHAKRA): The Trikona is also known as the “Sharva Siddhiprada Chakra” which means the point of eternal enlightenment and powers. It is the main triangle where the Bindu is located. This triangle is created when the Bindu manifests itself, in all its radiance. The three goddesses, Mahakameshwari, Mahavajreswari and Mahabhagamalini represent the three sides of the triangle. They manifest the three Gunas or characteristics of all living beings. (Sattva, Rajash, Tamash). The Trikona is also seen as a Yoni (female genital organ), the primordial self with all three Gunas. These three Gunas, namely, Jagriti (the waking state), Swapna (the dream state), and Sushupti (the state of deep slumber), represent the three states of consciousness: They have, as weapons Bow, Arrows, Alcoholic beverage, pomegranate fruit, Sword, Shield, Naagapasa (Rope of Snakes) and Ghantamani (Bell) in their eight hands They are collectively called Atirahasya Yoginis. The ruler of this Chakra is Tripurambika and the Mudradevi is Sarvabija. Meditation on Trikona helps one to exercise the powers of consciousness.

Sarvasidhiprada Chakram with its three devis. The deity representing this chakram is Atirahasya Yogini, worshipped as “Aim Hrim Srim Hsraim Haskrim Hsrouhu Etah Atirahasya Yoginyah Sarvasidhiprada Chakre. Om Aim Hrim Sumabaneshu Kodanda Manditayai Namo Namaha”.

Mahakameshwari Devi – worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim Hsraim Haskrim Hsrouhu ka ei la hrim Vama Rajoguna ichcha sakti Kameshvarayai namaha. Sri ichchashakti sri padukam pujayami tarpayami namaha”

Mahavajreshwari Devi- worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim Hsraim Haskrim Hsrouhu ha sa ka la hrim jyeshta Sattva guna jnanashakti Vajreshvarayai namaha. Sri jnanashakti sri padukam pujayami tarpayami namaha”

Mahabhagamalini Devi- worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim Hsraim Hasklim Hsrouhu sa ka la hrim Roudri Tamo Guna Kriyashakti Bhagamalinyai namaha. Sri Kriyashakti sri padukam pujayami tarpayami namaha”

Three shlokas of Soundarya Lahari are also devoted to these three mahadevis.

IX- Bindu (SARVAANANDAMAYA CHAKRAM): The point inside the central triangle and the center of the Yantra is also known as the “Sarva Anandamaya Chakra”, which means the point of all-encompassing bliss. The point is the seed of the entire universe, the supreme consciousness and is beyond time and space. At this point, Mahakaameshwar (the lord of Kama or Desire) and the mother of entire universe Kameshwari (the Energy of the desire for the final union) remain ever united. The final act of meditation is to concentrate on the Bindu, the symbol of eternal union of Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati, the symbol of shakti (power/energy).

Sarvanandamaya Chakram: It has one devi. The yogini representing this Chakram is Parapara Rahasya yogini – worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim ka e i la hrim ha sa ka la hrim sa ka la hrim Lalita Sri Maha Chakreshvari Sri Padukam pujayami tarpayami namaha. Aim Sarva yonimudra pradarsya”. Srirajarajeshwari Devi- worshipped in the form “Aim Hrim Srim ka e i la hrim ha sa ka la hrim sa ka la hrim Sri Sri Lalitambika Sri Sahasrakshi Sri Rajarajeshvari Sri Padukam pujayami tarpayami namaha”.

Shree Lalitambika Shree Rajarajeshwari, as Chakreshwari, is worshipped through the remaining three of the shlokas of Soundarya Lahari.

Soundarya Lahari: Sri Shankaraacharya’s Soundarya Lahari is in two parts, Ananda Lahari (Shlokas 1 to 41 and Soundarya Lahari (Shlokas 42 to 100). Just as Sri Chakra is the ultimate in mysticism, the 100 Shlokas of Soundarya Lahari are considered to possess many mystical properties, and can result in attainment of all the worldly desires! The way in which these shlokas have to be used has not been presented here, but in almost all cases, it involves usage of the specific shlokas along with recitation of some mantras (and of course offerings of lamps, flowers, etc.).

The following has been taken from http://www.soundaryalaharishloka.in/2009/01/home.html

01 Shivah shakthya yukto yadi bhavati shaktah prabhavitum
Na chedevam devo na khalu kusalah spanditumapi;
Atas tvam aradhyam Hari-Hara-Virinchadibhir api
Pranantum stotum vaa katham akrta-punyah prabhavati

02 Taniyamsam pamsum tava carana-pankeruha-bhavam
Virincih sanchinvan virachayati lokan avikalam;
Vahaty evam Shaurih katham api sahasrena shirasaam
Harah samksudy’ainam bhajati bhajati bhasito’ddhalama-vidhim.

03 Avidyanam antas-timira-mihira-dweeppa-nagari
Jadanam chaitanya-stabaka-makaranda-sruti jhari
Daridranam cinta-mani-gunanika janma-jaladhau
Nimadhanam damshtra mura-ripu-varahasya bhavati.

04 Tvad anyah paanibhyam abhaya-varado daivataganah
Tvam eka n’aivasi prakatita-var’abhityabhinaya;
Bhayat tratum datum phalam api cha vancha samadhikam
Saranye lokanam tava hi charanaveva nipunav.

05 Haris tvam aradhya pranata-jana-saubhagya-jananim
Pura nari bhutva Pura-ripum api ksobham anayat;
Smaro’pi tvam natva rati-nayana-lehyena vapusha
Muninam apyantah prabhavati hi mohaya mahatam.

06 Dhanun paushpam maurvi madhu-kara-mayi pancha visikha
Vasantaha samanto Malaya-marud ayodhana-rathah;
Tatha’py ekah sarvam Himagiri-suthe kam api kripaam
Apangat te labdhva jagadidam Anango vijayate.

07 Kvanat-kanchi-dama kari-kalabha-kumbha-stana-nata
Pariksheena madhye parinata-sarachandra-vadana;
Dhanur banan pasam srinim api dadhana karatalaii
Purastad astam noh Pura-mathitur aho-purushika.

08 Sudha-sindhor madhye sura-vitapi-vati parivrte
Mani-dweepe nipo’pavana-vathi chintamani-grhe;
Shivaakare manche Parama-Shiva-paryanka-nilayam
Bhajanti tvam dhanyah katichana chid-ananda-laharim.

09 Mahim muladhare kamapi manipure huthavaham
Sthitham svadhistane hridi marutamakasam upari;
Mano’pi bhruu-madhye sakalamapi bhittva kula-patham
Sahasrare padme saha rahasi patyaa viharase.

10 Sudha-dhara-sarais carana-yugalanta vigalitaih
Prapancham sinchanti punarapi ras’amnaya-mahasah;
Avapya svam bhumim bhujaga-nibham adhyusta-valayam
Svam atmanam krtva svapishi kulakunde kuharini

11 Chaturbhih shri-kantaih shiva-yuvatibhih panchabhir api
Prabhinnabhih sambhor navabhir api mula-prakrthibhih;
Chatus-chatvarimsad vasu-dala-kalasra-trivalaya-
Tri-rekhabhih sardham tava sarana-konah parinatah

12 Tvadiyam saundaryam Tuhina-giri-kanye tulayitum
Kavindrah kalpante katham api Virinchi-prabhrutayah;
Yadaloka’utsukyad amara-lalana yanti manasa
Tapobhir dus-prapam api girisa-sayujya-padavim.

13 Naram varshiyamsam nayana virasam narmasu jadam,
Thava panga loke pathitha manudhavanthi sathasa
Gala dweni bhandha kuch kalasa visthrutha sichaya
Hatath thrudyath kanchyho vigalidha dhukoola yuva thaya.

14 Ksitau sat-panchasad dvi-samadhika-panchasadudake
Hutase dva-sastis chatur-adhika-panchasad anile;
Divi dvih-shatrimsan manasi cha chatuh-sashtir iti ye
Mayukhastesham athyupari tava padambuja yugam.

15 Saraj-jyotsna-shuddham sasi-yuta-jata-juta-makutam
Vara-traasa-traana-sphatika-ghutika-pustaka karaam;
Sakrn na thva nathva katham iva sathaam sannidadhate
Madhu-kshira-drakhsa-madhurima-dhurinah phanitayah.

16 Kavindranam chetah-kamala-vana-baal’atapa-ruchim
Bhajante ye santah katichid arunameva bhavatim;
Virinchi-preyasyas tarunatara sringara-lahari-
Gabhirabhi vagbhir vidadhati satam ranjanamami.

17 Savitribhir vacham Chasi-mani-sila-bhanga-rucibhir
Vasiny’adyabhis tvam saha janani samchintayati yah;
Sa karta kavyanam bhavati mahatam bhangi-rucibhih
Vacobhi vagdevi-vadana-kamal’amoda madhuraii.

18 Thanuschayabhi sthe tharuna-tharuni –srisarinibhi
Divam sarva-murvi-marunimani magnam smaranthi ya
Bhavanthasya thrasya-dhwana-harina shaleena nayana
Sahervasya vasya kathikathi na geervana Ganika

19 Mukham bindun kruthva kucha yuga mada sthasya thadha dho
Harardha dhyayedhyo haramamahishi the manmathakalam
Sa sadhya samkshebham nayathi vanitha inyathiladhu
Thrilokimapyasu bramayathi ravindu sthana yugam.

20 Kirantim angebhyah kirana-nikurumba’mrta-rasam
Hrdi tvam adhatte hima-kara-sila murthimiva yah;
Sa sarpanam darpam samayati sakuntadhipa iva
Jvara-plustan drshtya sukhayati sudhadhara-siraya.

21 Tatil-lekha-thanvim thapana-sasi-vaisvanara-mayim
Nishannam shannam apy upari kamalanam tava kalaam;
Maha-padma tavyam mrdita-mala-mayena manasa
Mahantah pasyanto dadhati parama’hlada-laharim.

22 Bhavani tvam daase mayi vitara drishtim sakarunam
Iti sthotum vanchan kadhayati Bhavani tvam iti yah;
Tadaiva tvam tasmai disasi nija-sayujya-padavim
Mukunda-brahmendra-sphuta-makuta-nirajita-padam.

23 Tvaya hrithva vamam vapur aparitripthena manasa
Sarir’ardham sambhor aparam api sankhe hritham abhut;
Yad ethat tvadrupam sakalam arunabham trinayanam
Kuchabhyam anamram kutila-sadi-chuudala-makutam.

24 Jagat suthe dhata harir avati rudrah kshapayate
Tiraskurvan etat svam api vapurisastirayati;
Sada-purvah sarvam tad idamanugrhnati cha Shiva-
Stavajnam aalambya kshana-chalitayor bhru-latikayoh.

25 Trayanam devanam thri-guna-janitanam tava Sive
Bhavet puja puja tava charanayor ya virachita;
Tatha hi tvat-pado’dvahana-mani-pithasya nikate
Sthita hy’ete sasvan mukulita-karottamsa-makuta

26 Virincih panchatvam vrajati harir apnoti virathim
Vinasam kinaso bhajati dhanado yati nighanam;
Vitandri mahendri vithathir api sammeelita-drsa
Maha-samhare smin viharati sati tvat-patirasau.

27 Japo jalpah shilpam sakalam api mudra-virachana
Gatih pradaksinya-kramanam asanady’ahuti-vidhih;
Pranamah samvesah sukham akilam atmarpana-drsa
Saparya-paryayas tava bhavatu yan me vilasitam.

28 Sudham apy asvadya pratibhaya-jaraa-mrtyu-harinim
Vipadyante visve Vidhi-Satamakhadya divishadah;
Karalam yat ksvelam kabalitavatah kaala-kalana
Na Sambhos tan-mulam tava janani tadanka-mahima.

29 Kiritam vairincham parihara purah kaitabha bhidah
Katore kotire skalasi jahi jambhari-makutam;
Pranamreshwateshu prasabha mupayatasya bhavanam
Bhavasy’abhyutthane tava parijanoktir vijayate.

30 Sva-deh’odbhutabhir ghrnibhir animadyabhir abhito
Nishevye nitye tvamahamiti sada bhavayati yah;
Kim-ascharyam tasya tri-nayana-samrddhim trinayato
Maha-samvartagnir virchayati nirajana-vidhim.

31 Cautuh-shashtya tantraih sakalam atisamdhaya bhuvanam
Sthitas tat-tat-siddhi-prasava-para-tantraih pasupatih;
Punas tvan-nirbandhad akhila-purusarth’aika ghatana-
Svatantram te tantram khsiti-talam avatitaradidam.

32 Sivah saktih kamah kshitir atha ravih sithakiranah
Smaro hamsah sakrastadanu cha para-mara-harayah;
Amee hrllekhabhis tisrbhir avasanesu ghatitha
Bhajante varnaste tava janani nam’avayavatham.

33 Smaram yonim lakshmim trithayam idam adau tava manor
Nidhay’aike nitye niravadhi-maha-bhoga-rasikah;
Bhajanti tvam chintamani-guna-nibaddh’aksha-valayah
Sivagnau juhvantah surabhi-ghrta-dhara’huti-sataih.

34 Sariram twam sambhoh sasi-mihira-vakshoruha-yugam
Tav’atmanam manye bhagavati nav’ atmanam anagham;
Atah seshah seshityayam ubhaya-saadharana taya
Sthitah sambandho vaam samarasa-parananda-parayoh.

35 Manas tvam vyoma tvam marud asi marut saarathir asi
Tvam aastvam bhoomis tvayi parinathayam na hi param;
Tvam eva svatmanam parinamayithum visva-vapusha
Chidanand’aakaram Shiva-yuvati-bhaavena bibhrushe.

36 Tavaagna chakrastham thapana shakthi koti dhyudhidharam,
Param shambhum vande parimilitha –paarswa parachitha
Yamaradhyan bhakthya ravi sasi suchinama vishaye
Niraalokeloke nivasathi hi bhalokha bhuvane

37 Vishuddhou the shuddha sphatika visadham vyoma janakam
Shivam seve devimapi siva samana vyavasitham
Yayo kaanthya sasi kirana saaroopya sarane
Vidhoo thantha dwarvantha vilamathi chakoriva jagathi

38 Samunmeelath samvithkamala makarandhaika rasikam
Bhaje hamsadwandham kimapi mahatham maanasacharam
Yadhalapaa dhashtadasa gunitha vidhyaparinathi
Yadadhathe doshad gunamakhila madhbhaya paya eva

39 Thava swadhishtane huthavahamadhishtaya niratham
Thameede sarvatha janani mahathim tham cha samayam
Yadhaloke lokan dhahathi mahasi krodha kalithe
Dhayardhra ya drushti sishiramupacharam rachayathi

40 Thatithwantham shakthya thimira paree pandhi sphuranaya
Sphuranna na rathnabharana pareenedwendra dhanusham
Thava syamam megham kamapi manipooraika sharanam
Nisheve varshantham haramihira thaptham thribhuvanam.

41 Thavadhare mole saha samayaya lasyaparaya
Navathmanam manye navarasa maha thandava natam
Ubhabhya Methabhyamudaya vidhi muddhisya dhayaya
Sanadhabyam jagne janaka jananimatha jagathidam.

42 Gathair manikyatvam gagana-manibhih-sandraghatitham.
Kiritam te haimam himagiri-suthe kirthayathi yah;
Sa nideyascchaya-cchurana-sabalam chandra-sakalam
Dhanuh saunasiram kim iti na nibadhnati dhishanam.

43 Dhunotu dhvaantam nas tulita-dalit’endivara-vanam
Ghana-snigdha-slakshnam chikura-nikurumbham thava sive;
Yadhiyam saurabhyam sahajamupalabdhum sumanaso
Vasanthyasmin manye vala-madhana-vaati-vitapinam.

44 Tanothu kshemam nas tava vadhana-saundarya lahari
Parivaha-sthrotah-saraniriva seemantha-saranih
Vahanti sinduram prabala-kabari-bhara-thimira-
Dvisham brindair bandi-krtham iva navin’arka kiranam;

45 Aralaih swabhavyadalikalabha-sasribhiralakaih
Paritham the vakhtram parihasati pankheruha-ruchim;
Dara-smere yasmin dasana-ruchi-kinjalka-ruchire
Sugandhau madhyanti Smara-dahana-chaksur-madhu-lihah.

46 Lalatam lavanya-dyuthi-vimalamaabhati tava yath
Dvithiyam tan manye makuta-ghatitham chandra-sakalam;
Viparyasa-nyasad ubhayam api sambhuya cha mithah
Sudhalepa-syutih pareenamati raka-himakarah.

47 Bhruvau bhugne kinchit bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini
Tvadhiye nethrabhyam madhukara-ruchibhyam dhrita-gunam;
Dhanur manye savye’tara-kara-grhitam rathipateh
Prakoshte mushtau ca sthagayati nigudha’ntharam ume

48 Ahah sute savyam tava nayanam ark’athmakathaya
Triyamam vamam the srujati rajani-nayakataya;
Trithiya the drishtir dhara-dhalita-hemambuja-ruchih
Samadhatte sandhyam divasa-nisayor antara-charim

49 Vishala kalyani sphuta-ruchir ayodhya kuvalayaih
Kripa-dhara-dhara kimapi madhur’a bhogavatika;
Avanthi drishtis the bahu-nagara-vistara-vijaya
Dhruvam tattan-nama-vyavaharana-yogya vijayate

50 Kavinam sandharbha-sthabaka-makarandh’aika-rasikam
Kataksha-vyakshepa-bhramara-kalabhau-karna-yugalam;
Amunchantau drshtva tava nava-ras’asvada tharalau-
Asuya-samsargadhalika-nayanam kinchid arunam.

51 Shive sringarardhra tad-ithara-jane kutsana-paraa
Sarosha Gangayam Girisa-charite’vismayavathi;
Har’ahibhyo bhita sarasi-ruha-saubhagya-janani
Sakhishu smera the mayi janani dristih sakaruna.

52 Gathe karnabhyarnam garutha iva pakshmani dhadhati.
Puraam bhetthus chitta-prasama-rasa-vidhravana-phale;
Ime nethre gothra-dhara-pathi-kulottamsa-kalike
Tav’akarn’akrishta-smara-sara-vilasam kalayathah.

53 Vibhaktha-traivarnyam vyatikaritha-lila’njanathaya
Vibhati tvan-netra-trithayam idam Isana-dayite;
Punah strashtum devan Druhina-Hari-Rudran uparatan
Rajah sattvam vibhrat thama ithi gunanam trayam iva.

54 Pavithrikarthum nah pasupathi-paradheena-hridhaye
Daya-mithrair nethrair aruna-dhavala-syama ruchibhih;
Nadah sono ganga tapana-tanay’eti dhruvamamum
Trayanam tirthanam upanayasi sambhedam anagham.

55 Nimesh’onmeshabhyam pralayam udayam yaati jagati
Tave’ty ahuh santho Dharani-dhara-raajanya-thanaye;
Tvad-unmeshaj jatham jagad idham asesham pralyatah
Pari-trathum sankhe parihruta-nimeshas tava drusah.

56 Tav’aparne karne-japa-nayana-paisunya-chakita
Niliyante thoye niyatham animeshah sapharikah;
Iyam cha srir baddhasc-chada-puta-kavaiam kuvalayam
Jahati pratyupe nisi cha vighatayya pravisathi.

57 Drisa draghiyasya dhara-dhalita-nilotpala-rucha
Dhaviyamsam dhinam snapaya kripaya mam api Sive;
Anenayam dhanyo bhavathi na cha the hanir iyata
Vane va harmye va sama-kara-nipaatho himakarah

58 Araalam the paali-yugalam aga-rajanya-thanaye
Na kesham adhatte kusuma-shara-kodhanda kuthukam;
Tiraschino yathra sravana-patham ullanghya vilasann-
Apaanga-vyasango disati sara-sandhana-dhisanam.

59 Sphurad-ganddabhoga-prathiphalitha-thatanka yugalam
Chatus-chakram manye thava mukham idam manmatha-ratham;
Yam-aruhya druhyaty avani-ratham arkendhu-charanam
Mahaviro marah pramatha-pathaye sajjitavate.

60 Sarasvatyah sukthir amrutha-lahari-kaushala-harih
Pibanthyah Sarvani Sravana-chuluk abhyam aviralam;
Chamathkara-slagha-chalita-sirasah kundala-gano
Jhanatkarais taraih prati-vachanam achashta iva te.

61 Asau naasa-vamsas tuhina-girivamsa-dhvajapati
Thvadhiyo nedhiyah phalatu phalam asmakam uchitam;
Vahathy anthar muktah sisira-kara-nisvasa galitham
Samruddhya yat tasam bahir api cha mukta-mani-dharah.

62 Prakrithya’rakthayas thava sudhati dantha-cchada-ruchaih
Pravakshye saadrisyam janayathu phalam vidhruma-latha;
Na bimbam tad-bimba-prathiphalana-raagad arunitham
Thulam adhya’rodhum katham iva bhilajjetha kalaya.

63 Smitha-jyothsna-jalam thava vadana-chandrasya pibatham
Chakoranam asid athi-rasataya chanchu-jadima;
Athas the sithamsor amrtha-laharim amla-ruchayah
Pibanthi svacchhandam nisi nisi bhrusam kaanjika-dhiya.

64 Avishrantam pathyur guna-gana-katha’mridana-japa
Japa-pushpasc-chaya thava janani jihva jayathi saa;
Yad-agrasinayah sphatika-drishad-acchac-chavi mayi
Sarasvathya murthih parinamati manikya-vapusha.

65 Rane jithva’daithyan apahrutha-sirastraih kavachibhir
Nivrittais Chandamsa-Tripurahara-nirmalva-vimukhaih;
Visakh’endr’opendraih sasi-visadha-karpura-sakala
Viliyanthe maatas tava vadana-tambula-kabalah.

66 Vipanchya gayanthi vividham apadhanam Pasupathea
Thvay’arabdhe vakthum chalita-sirasa sadhuvachane;
Tadhiyair madhuryair apalapitha-tantri-kala-ravam
Nijaam vinam vani nichulayati cholena nibhrutham.

67 Karagrena sprustam thuhina-girina vatsalathaya
Girisen’odasthama muhur adhara-pan’akulataya;
Kara-grahyam sambhor mukha-mukura-vrintham Giri-sute
Kadham-karam bramas thava chubukam aupamya-rahitham.

68 Bhujasleshan nithyam Pura-damayituh kantaka-vathi
Tava griva dhatte mukha-kamalanaala-sriyam iyam;
Svatah swetha kaalaagaru-bahula-jambala-malina
Mrinali-lalithyam vahati yadadho hara-lathika.

69 Gale rekhas thisro gathi-gamaka-gith’aika nipune
Vivaha-vyanaddha-praguna-guna-samkhya-prahibhuvah;
Virajanthe nana-vidha-madhura-ragakara-bhuvam
Thrayanam gramanam sthithi-niyama-seemana iva the.

70 Mrinali-mridhvinam thava bhuja-lathanam chatasrinam
Chaturbhih saundaryam Sarasija-bhavah stauthi vadanaih;
Nakhebhyah samtrasyan prathama-madhanadandhaka-ripo
Chaturnam sirshanam samam abhaya-hasth’arapana-dhiya.

71 Nakhanam uddyotai nava-nalina-ragam vihasatham
Karanam te kantim kathaya kathayamah katham Ume;
Kayachid va samyam bhajatu kalaya hanta kamalam
Yadi kridal-lakshmi-charana-tala-laksha-rasa-chanam.

72 Samam devi skanda dwipa vadana peetham sthanayugam
Thavedham na khedham harathu sathatham prasnutha mukham
Yada loakakhya sankha kulitha hridayo hasa janaka
Swa kumbhou herambha parisrusathi hasthena jhhaddithi

73 Amuu theey vakshoja vamrutharasa manikhya kuthupou
Na sadhehaspatho nagapathi pathake manasi na
Pibhanthou thow yasma dhavadhitha bhadusangha rasikou
Kumara vadhyapi dwiradhavadhana krouncha dhalanou

74 Bahathyambha sthamberam dhanuja kumbha prakrithibhi
Samaarabhdham muktha mamibhi ramalam haara lathikam
Kuchabhogo bhimbhadara ruchibhi rathna saabhalitham
Prathapa vyamishram puradamayithu keerthimiva thee

75 Twa stanyam manye dharanidhara kanye hridhayatha
Paya paraabhaara parivahathi saaraswathamiva
Dhayavathya dhattham dravida sisu raaswadhya thava yat
Kaveenam proudana majani kamaniya kavayitha

76 Hara krodha jwalaavalibhir avaleedena vapusha
Gabhire thee nabhisarasi kruthasangho manasija
Samuthasthou thasmath achalathanaye dhoomalathika
Janastham janithe thava janani romaavalirithi

77 Yadhethath kalindhi thanu thara ngaa kruthi shive
Krushe mahye kinchid janani thawa yadbhathi sudheeyam
Vimardha –dhanyonyam kuchakalasayo –ranthara gatham
Thanu bhootham vyoma pravishadhiva nabhim kuharinim

78 Sthiro gangavartha sthana mukula romaa vali latha
Kalaabhalam kundam kusuma sara thejo hutha bhuja
Rathe leelamgaram kimapi thava nabhir giri suthe
Bhila dwaram siddhe rgirisa nayananam vijayathe

79 Nisargha ksheenasya sthana thata bharena klamajusho
Namanmurthe narree thilaka sanakaii –sthrutayatha eva
Chiram thee Madhyasya thruthitha thatini theera tharuna
Samavasthaa sthemno bhavathu kusalam sailathanaye

80 Kuchou sadhya swidhya-sthata =ghatitha koorpasabhidurou
Kasnthou dhormule kanaka kalasabhou kalayatha
Thava thrathum bhangadhalamithi valagnam thanubhava
Thridha naddham devi trivali lavalovallibhiriva

81 Guruthvam vistharam ksithidharapathi paravathy nijaath
Nithambha Dhhachhidhya twayi harana roopena nidhadhe
Athasthe vistheerno guruyamasesham vasumathim
Nithambha =praabhara sthagayathi lagutwam nayathi cha

82 Karrendranam sundan kanaka kadhali kaadapatali
Umabhamurubhyam –mubhayamapi nirjithya bhavathi
Savrithabhyam pathyu pranathikatinabham giri suthe
Vidhigne janubhysm vibhudha karikumbha dwayamasi

83 Paraa jenu rudhram dwigunasara garbhoy girisuthe
Nishanghou Unghe thee vishamavishikho bhada –maakrutha
Yadagre drishyanthe dasa satra phalaa paadayugali
Nakhagrachadhyan sura makuta sanayika nishitha

84 Sruthinam murdhano dadhati thava yau sekharathaya
Mama’py etau Matah sirasi dayaya dhehi charanau;
Yayoh paadhyam paathah Pasupathi-jata-juta-thatini
Yayor larksha-lakshmir aruna-Hari-chudamani-ruchih

85 Namo vakam broomo nayana ramaneeyaya padayo
Thavasmai dwandhaya sphuta ruchi rasalaktha kavathe
Asooyathyantham yadhamihananaaya spruhyathe
Passonamisana pramadhavana kamkhelitharave

86 Mrisha krithva gothra skhalana matha vailakshya namitham
Lalate bhartharam charana kamala thadayathi thee
Chiradantha salyam dhahanakritha –munmilee thavatha
Thula koti kkana kilikilith –meesana ripuna

87 Himani-hanthavyam hima-giri-nivas’aika-chaturau
Nisayam nidranam nisi charama-bhaghe cha visadau;
Varam laksmi-pathram sriyam ati srijanthau samayinam
Sarojam thvad-padau janani jayatas chitram iha kim.

88 Padham the kirhtinam prapadham apadham Devi vipadham
Katham nitham sadbhih kutina-kamati-karpara-thulam;
Katham vaa bahubhyam upayamana-kaale purabhida
Yad adhaya nyastham drshadi daya-manena manasa.

89 Nakhair naka-sthrinam kara-kamala-samkocha sasibhi
Tarunam dhivyanam hasata iva te chandi charanau;
Phalani svah-sthebhyah kisalaya-karagrena dhadhatam
Daridhrebhyo bhadraam sriyam anisam ahnaya dhadhatau.

90 Dhadhane dinebhyah sriyam anisam asaanusadhrusim
Amandham saundharya-prakara-makarandham vikirathi;
Tav’asmin mandhara-sthabhaka-subhage yatu charane
Nimajjan majjivah karana-charanah sat-charanathaam.

91 Pada-nyasa-kreeda-parichayam iv’arabdhu-manasah
Skhalanthas the khelam bhavana-kala-hamsa na jahati;
Atas tesham siksham subhaga-mani-manjira-ranitha-
Chchalad achakshanam charana-kamalam charu-charite.

92 Gataas the mancathvam Druhina-Hari-Rudr’eshavara-bhrutah
Sivah svacchac-chaya-ghatita-kapata-pracchada-pata;
Tvadhiyanam bhasaam prati-phalana-rag’arunathaya
Sariri srungaro rasa iva dhrisam dhogdhi kuthukam.

93 Araala kesheshu prakruthi-saralaa manda-hasithe
Sireeshabha chite drushad upala-sobha kucha-thate;
Bhrusam thanvi madhye pruthur urasijh’aroha-vishaye
Jagat trathum sambhor jayahti karuna kaachid aruna.

94 Kalankah kasthuri rajani-kara-bimbham jalamayam
Kalabhih karpurair marakatha-karandam nibiditam;
Athas thvad-bhogena prahti-dinam idam riktha-kuharam
Vidhir bhuyo bhuyo nibidayathi nunam thava krithe.

95 Pur’arather antah-puram asi thathas thvach-charanayoh
Saparya-maryadha tharala-karananam asulabha;
Thatha hy’ethe neetah sathamukha-mukhah siddhim athulam
Thava dvar’opantha-sthithibhir anim’adyabhir amarah.

96 Kalathram vaidhathram kathi kathi bhajante na kavayah
Sriyo devyah ko va na bhavati pathih kairapi dhanaih;
Mahadevam hithva thava sathi sathinam acharame
Kuchabhyam aasangah kuravaka-tharor apyasulabhah.

97 Giram aahur devim Druhina-gruhinim agaamavidho
Hareh pathnim padhmam Hara-sahacharim adhri-thanayam;
Thuriya kapi thvam dhuradhigama-niseema-mahima
Maha-maya visvam bhramayasi parabhrahma mahishi.

98 Kadha kaale mathah kathaya kalith’alakthaka-rasam
Pibheyam vidyarthi thava charana-nirnejana-jalam;
Prakrithya mukhanam api cha kavitha-karanathaya
Kadha dhathe vani-mukha-kamala-thambula-rasatham.

99 Saraswathya lakshmya vidhi hari sapathno viharathe
Rathe pathivrithyam sidhilayathi ramyena vapusha
Chiram jivannehva kshapathi pasu pasa vyathikara
Paranandabhikhyam rasayathi rasam twadjanavaan.

100 Pradhipa-jvalabhir dhivasa-kara-neerajana-vidhih
Sudha-suthes chandropala-jala-lavair arghya-rachana;
Svakiyair ambhobhih salila-nidhi-sauhitya karanam
Tvadiyabhir vagbhis thava janani vacham stutir iyam.

Agricultural Crisis in Kerala

Like most parts of India, the traditional economy of keralites was essentially based on agriculture. Primarily it was paddy, coconuts, pepper and other spices, and lastly rubber.

Typically, the low lying wetlands have been Kerala’s rice fields, and the medium altitude plots have coconut farms and the highlands cash crops like cashew nuts, cardamom, and at still higher altitudes, tea.

1. Paddy Cultivation:

Pokkali, among rice fields, are in places which are all year under water. Traditionally two crops are taken after sowing once, when the water level is at minimum level on elevated mounds of Earth, and after the seedlings become taller, they are replanted by carefully breaking up the mounds. Pokkali doesn’t need fertilizer application, as the fields are almost always submerged in water. The first type of seeds, e.g. Mundokkannan, is sowed with Aryan, another seed, but they have different harvesting times.

The Puncha, on the other hand, is submerged under water for almost half a year, and one crop. The high lands nearby provides the foliage as manure for the rice crops.

There is also the level lands which have much better water control, usually have two crops. As these lands are near thickly populated areas, cow-dunk, and foliage forms the primary fertiliser.

2. Coconut Cultivation:

The coconut farms which used to be the main cultivation in dry lands, were very common. The coconut trees are usually 45ft apart, in rows and columns. As the trees grow up to about 30 years, ditches are taken in the mid points, to plant new trees. The older trees are removed when the trees reach 50 to 60 years. In addition, the space between trees are used to plant bananas, vegetables like snake gourds, bitter gourds, ash gourds, legumes and beans of various types, etc, fruit trees like mangos, and chickoos, guavas or areca nut trees along the boundaries. It was indeed a good Eco system supporting a large number of birds. Most of the trees also would have pepper wines, which yield every year a good crop of pepper.

3. Rubber

The high profitability of Rubber with about 7 years of nurturing the saplings followed by a productive period of 25-30 years, made sure that plantations of every other crops gave way to Rubber. The grant of subsidies by the Rubber Board for plantation, and nurturing, made sure that cultivators filled up and converted even the low lands which could have supported only paddy cultivation normally.

Prices of around Rs 200/kg of Rubber made sure that no other crop survived. Most plots which had coconut plantation were converted into Rubber. Even the paddy fields and other low lying areas were filled up, partly illegally and rest with permission. As a result of the rising competition to convert paddy fields and coconut farms into rubber estates, the price of land increased very fast, thus an acre of paddy field, fetching as little as Rs 50,000/- increased to Rs 5,000,000/- within a span of 5-10 years. Similarly, an acre of coconut farm, which used to be available at Rs 100,000/-, increased to Rs 10,000,000/-

The Rubber Board also ensured that the Kerala Land Ceiling Act, applicable over all landed property in Kerala exempts Rubber Plantation, thus the estate owners could have Rubber plantation owned by individuals with 100 or 500 acres. The same act also ensured that the Rice or Coconut fields got fragmented to the present size of half an acre on an average, preventing application of mechanised agriculture.

Along with the cost of agricultural property, the wages also spiralled very fast. Rubber tapping is a skilled job, performed between 0500 AM and 0800 AM, followed by selling the produce either as liquid latex, or processed as Rubber Sheet, which required another a few hours more in the morning. For this the tapper would get for a wage of Rs 1000/- This made many of the farm labourers into the skilled job of tapper. This made all costs in the farmlands of Kerala expensive.

Conversion of farm lands into dwelling sites was yet another development. Dwelling plots were much more expensive and builders would often use every strategy to get farm lands which they would have bought as dwelling sites and sold at a very high premium.

As against this, the produce fetched very little increase in price. Governments of course provided some incentives to farmers, but the difficulties in using mechanised farming, and over dependence of expensive manual labour, made the profit margins shrink. In addition, all Rice farming depended on the timely rains, and the uncertainties of water availability and ability to drain fields when necessary resulted in crop failures.

The farmers started thinking about their economics. An acre of farm land fetches about Rs 50,000,000, and if he were to sell it, he would easily get this (even sometimes a price up to Rs 1 crore). This could fetch an annual interest of Rs 3-4 lakhs. With the vagaries of agriculture, except Rubber plantations, it was impossible to find a single crop that would bring in this much of profit.

As more and more farmers found Rubber as more profitable, the acreage of other crops diminished very fast. However, this panacea for agricultural sector in India came to a stop recently, when the Rubber prices came down sharply from Rs 200/kg to less than Rs 100/kg. The reason for this is attributable to the drop in Crude Price and the resulting availability of synthetic Rubber at low prices. In spite of the drop in Rubber prices, the cost of fertilisers, wages of tappers and other employees in Rubber plantations and other expenses did not come down. The state government made an attempt to provide a support price by directly paying the cultivator the difference of a notional Rs 150/kg and the actual market price at which he would have sold Rubber!. In fact, such a provision is not made available to any other crop, yet it is far from a sustainable solution.

The other cash crops such as pepper, ginger, turmeric, cloves, etc., which used to be cultivated among the coconut farms, have been also affected by the spiralling land prices and labour costs. Similarly, the others like tea, coffee, cardamom, cinnamon, etc, grown at high altitudes, have also been affected by the same factors.

The land taxes for agricultural land in Kerala is one of the highest in India (around Rs 600/ha for holdings below 5 ha, and Rs 1200/ha for over 5 ha). I understand that the taxes are below Rs 100/ha in most other states)

Agriculture provides a lot of free time to the farm owners and labourers. When the paddy, coconut and other village based agriculture was still being practised, a large number of people used to spend their free time in other professions, the common-most being weaving. A few were also engaged as teachers in the village schools, etc. Weaving provided profitable engagement to a large number of people. This led to the formation of Weavers’ Co-op Societies in each village. Most of the woven cotton materials was being used up in the village itself, and some to the neighbouring villages.

When the agricultural activity came to a halt, most people tried to find alternate employment; many of the educated went to other states as stenographers, a few went to other countries (mostly to the middle east, which was in brisk activities following the oil discovery). Many women also started taking employment as school teachers, nurses, secretaries, etc., both in other Indian states and in middle east, Europe and North America.

The employment potential of Keralites in other states and abroad started bringing in plenty of cash. This suddenly became the source for investment in the form of landed property. This led to the filling up of more and more agricultural land. While agriculture and weaving came to a grinding halt, many became owners of land in villages and cities. Many of the youngsters didn’t know how to spend money which was coming plenty from abroad. As the money was not earned by hard work, they had to device new ways of spending; alcohol became the number one drain for money. This led to Kerala replacing Punjab in per-capita alcohol consumption, coming to the top place in India. And with the high rates of taxation on liquor, the Government’s revenue started increasing very fast.

There were many who were not as lucky as those who had relatives abroad, sending money to Kerala. Also, those who already spent money of a relative, wanted to replace the fund by the time they returned. As this was not possible, many started buying Lottery Tickets, and making offerings in temples. No wonder Kerala topped in the sale of lottery tickets in India. The revenue of temples also was increasing fast. The governments also took active role in siphoning part of the profits, by starting Government Lotteries. Already the Hindu Temples were under the State’s Devaswom Boards, which are under the State Government’s Ministry, and it was quite easy to collect the majority of temple funds to the public exchequer! Thus, instead of other more common sources of revenue, Kerala’s revenue comes from Alcohol, Lotteries and Hindu Temples. In a state where traditional economic activities like agriculture and manufacturing have suffered from the political and trade-unionist overexposures, such activities are making the most of state’s revenue. The only other industry that has survived is Tourism, that too mostly eco-tourism and Health-Tourism, which took advantage of the absence of polluting industries in the state.

I feel that the state has to make some hard decisions before it is too late to save the younger generation from abuse of alcohol (and probably drugs too, perhaps), and bring the mainstream to agriculture, cottage industries, tourism.

Chhandas – India’s ancient science of writing verse.

Chhandas are the basic rules for writing verses in Sanskrit. As the rules are strict and classified according to a logic, it is possible to stay within these, making the verses sound beautiful, and meeting a specific purpose. The study of Vedic meters, along with post-Vedic meters, is part of Chandas, one of the six Vedanga disciplines:
Vedangas are six auxiliary disciplines associated with the study and understanding of the Vedas. Before understanding Chhanda, it might be interesting to see an overall view of the six Vedangas. The six vedangas are as follows:

Shiksha (Phonetics)
Kalpa (Ritual Canon)
Vyakaran (Grammar)
Nirukta (explanation)
Chhanda (Vedic meter)
Jyotisha (Astrology)

1. Shiksha (Phonetics)
Its aim is the teaching of the correct pronunciation of the Vedic hymns and mantras. The oldest phonetic textbooks are the Pratishakyas (prātiśākhya), describing pronunciation, intonation of Sanskrit, as well as the Sanskrit rules of sandhi (word combination), specific to individual schools or Shakhas of the Vedas.

2. Kalpa (Ritual Canon)
It contains the sacrificial practice and systematic sutras. There are three kinds of Sutras part of Kalpa:
a) Śrautasūtras, which are based on the Shruti, and teach the performance of the great sacrifices, requiring three or five sacrificial fires
a) Smartasūtras,or rules based on the Smriti or tradition. The Smartasūtras have two classes viz.
1. Grhyasutras, or domestic rules: They are basically treating the rites of passage, such as marriage, birth, namegiving, etc., connected with simple offerings into the domestic fire.
2. Dharmasutras or customs and social duties: The Dharmasūtras are the first four texts of the Dharmasastra tradition and they focus on the idea of dharma, the principal guide by which Hindus strive to live their lives. The Dharmasūtras are written in concise prose, leaving much up to the educated reader to interpret.The most important of these texts are the sutras of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vasiṣṭha. The Dharmasūtras can be called the guidebooks of dharma as they contain the rules of conduct and rites as practiced in the Vedic schools. They discuss about the duties of people at different stages of life like student hood, house-holdership, retirement and renunciation. These stages are also called āśramas. They also discuss about the rites and duties of kings, judicial matters, and even personal practices like the regulations in diet, offenses and expiations, daily oblations, and funerary practice.

3. Vyakaran (Grammar)
Vyakaran includes the Aṣṭādhyāyī, of Sage Panini. Most of the work of very early Indian grammarians ranging to 8th century BC is lost.

4. Nirukta (explanation)
It is traditionally attributed to Yāska, an ancient Sanskrit grammarian. It deals with etymology, particularly of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Veda

5. Chhanda (Vedic meter)
It measures and divides Vedic Mantras by number of padas in a verse, which is called Padas. Number of padas divides each verse, hymn, or mantra and number of syllables divides each pada. There is a distinct taxonomy on this basis. For example a Gayatri Chhanda has 3 padas of 8 syllables containing 24 syllables in each stanza. Similarly, Anuṣṭup has 4 padas of 8 syllables, thus has 32 syllables in each stanza. Anustup is the typical shloka of classical Sanskrit poetry

6. Jyotisha (Astrology)
It describes rules for tracking the motions of the sun and the moon and the foundation of Vedic Jyotish. Frequently it is considered as one of the Shastras, rather than Vedanga.

Chhanda Basic Principles:
The above are the six Vedangas, and as such, used to have a better understanding of Vedas. However, they are used in any kind of verse that we use in daily life. We can try to understand some of the features of Chhandas.

It was the Sage Pingalacharya who organised the Chhandas in its present form. It is often stated ”
“NACHCHHANDAI VAGUCHCHARIT”, meaning, without the Chhand (stanza), one cannot even pronounce!

Akshara (Syllables): First of all, all Indian languages are phonetic, and are based on the sounds that we can create. To utter a word, one has to create a vocal sound, which is called an akshar (One does not get destroyed). Each akshara could have one or two maatras. When it has one maatra, it is Hrswa (e.g., a, ka, etc.), and when it has two, Deergha (e.g., aa, kaa, etc). We can consider them as basic (binary) building blocks of a word. Consonants get their maatra from the swara, associated to it.

The Chhanda have been listed into 26 categories, by the number of Akshara in each on the four lines of the verse. (Sanskrit and most Indian Languages use quartets for all literary purposes). Each Chhanda can have more than one Vritta which are so numerous, and used in literary works. The first of 26 Chhandas, named Ukta, has just one syllable, the next Atyukta has two and so on. The list of Chhandas are as follows:
1. Ukta
2. Atyukta
3. Madhya
4. Pratishta
5. Supratishta
6. Gayatri
7. Ushnik
8. Anushtup
9. Brihati
10. Pankti
11. Trishtup
12. Jagati
13. Atijagati
14. Shakwari
15. Atishakwari
16. Ashti
17. Atyashti
18. Dhriti
19. Atidhriti
20. Kriti
21. Prakriti
22. Aakriti
23. Vikriti
24. Sankriti
25. Atikriti
26. Utkriti

Even though there are such long number of Chhandas, most poets use Chandas between Anushtup (8) and Prakriti (21) for literary works. However, Most of the works in epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have used Anushtup.

In addition to the categorization into Chhandas, the framework of verses fall into a large number of Vrittas. Each Vritta has a pattern of its syllables. Each syllable can be a Hrswa or a Deergha. As the number of syllables increase, the number of possible Vrittas (or patterns) also increase. Here the mathematical rule Fibbonacci series of Pascal’s Traingle applies. Thus, Ukhta can have no other Vritta, while Atyukhta can have one more variant, and so on. Larger number of letters in each pada can give rise to very large number of Vrittas in the same Chhanda.

The way in which syllables are placed in each Vritta follows grouping into Ganas, a group of three syllable, each place occupied by either a Hrswa or a Deergha. Thus, there are 8 possible Ganas. The following are these eight Ganas. A hrswa syllable is marked by “L” and a Deergha with a “H”.
Na-Gana = L-L-L
Ya-Gana = L-H-H
Ra-Gana = H-L-H
Ta-Gana = H-H-L
Bha-Gana = H-L-L
Ja-Gana = L-H-L
Sa-Gana = L-L-H
Ma-Gana = H-H-H

The mnemonic “yamātārājabhānasalagaṃ” is used by Pingalaacharya’s gaṇas, developed by ancient commentators, using the vowels “a” and “ā” for light and heavy syllables respectively with the letters of his scheme. In the form without a grammatical ending, yamātārājabhānasalagā is self-descriptive, where the structure of each gaṇa is shown by its own syllable and the two following it:

ya-gaṇa: ya-mā-tā = L-H-H
ma-gaṇa: mā-tā-rā = H-H-H
ta-gaṇa: tā-rā-ja = H-H-L
ra-gaṇa: rā-ja-bhā = H-L-H
ja-gaṇa: ja-bhā-na = L-H-L
bha-gaṇa: bhā-na-sa = H-L-L
na-gaṇa: na-sa-la = L-L-L
sa-gaṇa: sa-la-gā = L-L-H

Next is Sama Vritta, and Vishama Vritta, Sama when all four lines of the quartet have same order of syllables. In case of Vishama Vritta, the alternate lines will have a different order of syllables.

There could be mixed vrittas, where the vishama paada and sama paada could have different matrices of syllables. Such vrittas are called upajaadi (you may need to state the two participating vrittas in this).

Examples of most common Vrittas:
1. Indravajra: The disposition of syllables in each paada are, Ta-Ta-Ja-followed by two deergha, thus “H-H-L-H-H-L-L-H-L-H-H”. I am going to indicate a Hrswa by “La” and a deergha by “Haa”, so that each paada of the verse would sound “Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-Haa-Haa”. You will have to make these sounds to have a feel of this vritta. Also, with 11 syllables in each paada, this will fall under Trishtup Chhanda.
2. Upendravajra: The disposition of syllables in each paada are, Ja-Ta-Ja-followed by two deergha, thus “L-H-L-H-H-L-L-H-L-H-H”. Thus, each paada of the verse would sound “La-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-Haa-Haa”. Also, with 11 syllables in each paada, this will too fall under Trishtup Chhanda.
3. Vasanthatilakam: The disposition of syllables in each paada are, Ta-Bha-Ja-Ja, followed by two deergha, thus “H-H-L-H-L-L-L-H-L-L-H-L-H-H”. Thus, each paada of the verse would sound “Haa-Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-Haa”. You will have to make these sounds to have a feel of this vritta. Also, with 14 syllables in each paada, this will fall under Shakwari Chhanda. Poet Kaalidasa has used this, perhaps one of the reasons for the beauty of his verses is the Vritta!
4. Sragdhara: Each stanza would have Ma-Ra-Bha-Na-Ya-Ya-Ya, thus with 21 syllables (Chhanda Kriti). Besides, there is a pause after each 7 syllables. The phonetic form would be “Haa-Haa-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa|La-La-La-La-La-La-Haa|-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa”
5. Bhujangaprayaanam: This Vritta has in each paada four Ya-gana, so 12 syllables (Chhanda Jagati). The phonetic form would be “La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa”. This is an interesting sequence, and gives the feel of the movement of a snake!
6. Viyogini: This one is more popular in Kerala. The Malayalam poet “Kumaaranaasaan” has immortalised this vritta through his work, “Chintaavishtayaaya Sita”. The vritta has been able to convey the melancholy mood of a wife who was suffering separation. It has the alternative paadas different, the first paada having the scale, Sa-Sa-Ja-H and the other Sa-Bha-Ra-L-H. So phonetically, it would sound “La-La-Haa-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-Haa” for the first or Vishama pada, and “La-La-Haa-Haa-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-Haa” for the even or Sama pada.

6. Kusumamanjari: This Vritta has all four paadas “Ra-Na-Ra-Na-Ra-Na-Ra”, thus altogether 21 syllables (Prakriti Chhanda). Phonetically, this would sound like “Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-La-Haa”

7. Mandaakraanta: This Vritta has in its four paada the sequence “Ma-Bha-Na-Ta-Ta-H-H”, thus 17 syllables (Atyashti Chhanda), with pauses after 4th and 7th syllables, thus the paada broken into three groupings of 4, 6, and 7 syllables. The Vritta would sound “Haa-Haa-Haa-Haa|-La-La-La-La-La-Haa|-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa”

8. Shaardoolavikreeditham: The sequence of Ganas in this vritta are “Ma-Sa-Ja-Sa-Ta-Ta-H, thus 19 syllables per paada (Chhanda Atidhriti), with a pause after 12 syllables. The phonetic equivalent of each paada would be “Haa-Haa-Haa-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa”.

9. Shaardoolavikreeditham: The sequence of Ganas in this vritta are “Ma-Sa-Ja-Sa-Ta-Ta-H, thus 19 syllables per paada (Chhanda Atidhriti), with a pause after 12 syllables. The phonetic equivalent of each paada would be “Haa-Haa-Haa-La-La-Haa-La-Haa-La-La-La-Haa-Haa-Haa-La-Haa-Haa-La-Haa”.

Invasion of Kuwait

I had resigned from Agartala Project ONGC in the first week of 1990, and returned to Ahmedabad, where my family was residing at that time. Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) had already offered me a job as Petroleum Engineer to have a peek at their Thermal EOR Pilot in Ratqa Field, in North Kuwait. I joined KOC on 27 January 1990.

The new atmosphere of workplace was great. I had several friends like BB Singh, PR Sarkar, P Viswanathan, Mohammad Idris, MM Huda, KZN Ahmad, JR Singh, KP Chandrashekharan, UB Acharya. Many of them were from ISM, some from ONGC, and the rest new friends. All of them were very helpful to integrate me to the new working environment. Almost the same time, my residence formalities with the civil authorities were completed.

Some of the Kuwaiti Friends I met those days were Ealian Al-Anezi, who was posted in Ratqa Field, whom i used to meet and discuss while at the WHI of Ratqa. He had his education in US (Most probably, Marietta College, Ohio, USA) and quite fluent in English. I had also almost daily interaction with my boss, Mr Mahmoud Milhem, a Palestinian National, from Egypt. He was a classmate of my other Egyptian friend in IFP, Mr Ayman El-Naggar, but Ayman had pursued his higher education and got a doctorate before he joined KOC, while Mahmoud joined directly after passing out, and rose to the level of Superintendent. There was also a pro-palestini factor in KOC which helped him to go up faster. Another Palestini Superintendent who was very helpful and kind was Mr Ahmed Saleh.

My probation period was for 90 days, thus ending on 27/04/1990. However, Mahmoud was kind enough to declare satisfactory completion so that I could bring my family to Kuwait. He also was happy about the work I was doing. As soon as my probation period was declared complete, I could ask KOC to allow me bring my family. However, my wife and daughter had to wait for their present academic sessions to be over before they could join me. As soon as I had the probation completed, I was offered KOC accommodation. I took accommodation in the KOC Rented Flats in Jabriya. After that I had asked KOC to arrange me family visa, & passage for them to rejoin me, and finally they joined on 24 June 1990.

As soon as they arrived, I could apply for their residence permit. This was being done through KOC for my new residential area in Jabriya. I was told that the process would take about 3 months. Till then, they had to move around with me along with their passports, which were returned after my applications were verified, pending the approval of the residence permit. I didn’t have a driving license and car, so we were dependent on others, Mr PJ Vincent, my neighbor was very helpful. Besides there were two buses in Jabriya and although I didn’t know the route, we soon figured out that it covered our basic necessities. My friends in office, Mr P Vishwanathan, Mr ESS Menon, and Samuel was also very helpful and introduced us to the Malayali crowd. Time flew very fast, and the month of July was over, during which we had furnished the house with TV, Washing Machine, and the like. We also had a dining table, a few chairs, a second-hand sofa, all essential cooking utensils, and a big double-bed by then.

As most of our friends told us that my daughter would have to pass a school exam in Arabic, we thought it would be better to get her some private Arabic Tuition from a Keralite teacher. This person used to reside in Abbassia, and told us that twice a week he came to Jabriya to give private tuition to a student in another family and we could join that class. So we had been to that family, who was also from Kerala, and strangely enough, my wife could trace them to one of our relatives!

And then came the fateful day of August 02, 1990 of Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. The previous day, a Wednesday, August 01, 1990, I was in the office, and was not even aware of what was going to happen the next day. The morning newspaper of that Wednesday, did not contain any news report about the possibility of a war or invasion of Kuwait. We used to get “Kuwait Times” those days.

On the fateful day, my friend Viswanatnan called early in the morning (unusual, as most people stay in bed longer as it was a holiday (Thursday and Friday used to be our weekly holidays in KOC). He announced that we are in Iraq overnight! I thought it was a joke, told him so, and he said if I didn’t believe, asked me to look out to see any battle tanks on road.  We then did so, and found a couple of (kuwaiti) police cars at a fierce speed, being chased by a larger number of military jeeps. We also heard loud sounds of fire from somewhere far, and could not know where it was. It was clear that something has gone wrong. We realized that something has gone wrong, and decided to call home to tell our people that Iraq seems to have overrun our area in Kuwait. By noon, we understood that the previous night, while Kuwait and Iraq representatives were having a discussion on the monetary compensation that Iraq wanted from Kuwait had failed, Iraq decided to invade Kuwait. Knowing this, the entire government, royal family, army, police and majority of Kuwaitis had fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia. The population of Kuwait at that time was essentially expatriates. Expatriates didn’t have an option to leave like Kuwaitis.

Those days we only had Kuwait TV, which would start only much later in the day. Some foreign channels covered the news of Iraqi Invasion, and Arabic channels were showing a picture of Saddam Hussain, and people were discussing in Arabic. We couldn’t follow what they were talking in that channel. Kuwait TV was silent. Soon there were others who spoke to us about the Iraqi Invasion that had happened the previous night.

Our first attention was to ensure that during our stay at home, get informed about the status around us through TV, have enough food and water, stay safe from the Iraqi Army, and find when and how to leave Kuwait under occupation. One day we were told that KOC was to issue cash to its employees and went along with friends in one of their cars. We got KD 10 per employee, which was not a very big amount, but was a great gesture by the company, a decision made by one of the very senior Kuwaiti Employee who could not leave the country.

Supermarkets, particularly those owned by Indians were open, and we tried to stock as much of food, wheat flour, fruit juices, dry fruits and nuts, and drinking water as possible. By that time, some of those who were staying in Ahmadi, KOC headquarters came to our rented houses in Salmiya, and Jabriya, as Ahmadi had by that time a large presence of Army, with their tanks, heavy artillery guns and military vehicles. The residential areas near Kuwait City were safer, and had mainly expatriates. Many of them were Arab nationals from Egypt, Syria and of nationality Palestinian.

One day we were told that banks were to disburse cash from individual accounts to the tune of KD 300. We went to the branches which were open for such operation. My bank, Bank of Kuwait & Middle East (BKME) had a branch in Fahaheel which was to be open. When I reached, there was already a big crowd, but in the end we had the money. There was one more money disbursal during my stay under occupation. Meanwhile there was a feeling that the Iraqi Army was not hostile to Indians in particular, and we also heard stories of them asking for food from Indians who obliged such requests without question (perhaps out of fear or by our culture of providing food to those who plead, probably both). We realised that things were not so bad any way.

One day, we were told that the Indian Community leaders were to explain to the General Indian Public ways to stay alive under Iraqi occupation. They told us the need to minimize journeys, the importance of having food and drinking water, and basic emergencies. There was Dr Narayanan Nampoori among this group and said he was ready to help, and offered us his phone number, to be used in any emergency. Then one day we were informed about the visit of Mr I K Gujral, India’s foreign affairs minister to Kuwait, to negotiate safe repatriation of the sick, women and children among the Indian Community. We were told that he would carry with him any letter to India that we wished to send. I think almost all Indians made use of this opportunity and left the letters in Indian School, Salmiya, to be picked up by Indian Ministry Officials. On among the rich Indian merchants had also agreed to provide Rice, Pulses, and wheat flour to us, as a means to clear his stocks. Within days his stocks were converted to cash. We later learnt that he was among the important people to leave with Mr Gujral to India. I think the only person who remained in Kuwait wasDr Narayanan Nampoori, who later became our close friend.

Soon after this, a ship full of Food for Iraq had arrived in Kuwait, and returned with some 500 women and children to Mumbai. The month of August went of quite fast, and  towards the end, we heard of many leaving Kuwait, mostly through Iraq and Turkey. However, by then we heard that Jordan allowed refugee camps near border. The life of refugees was not quite nice, as the hostile summer weather in desert was bad. Those who went towards Turkey were not that lucky, as the Turkish border had not permitted refugees. However, after the Indian Embassy in Ankara intervened and offered to keep one of their staff near border, the border guards started allowing indians who were given temporary permits to enter Turkey and were promptly sent back to India. I am told that those numbers were not very large.

By first week of September 1990, we were told that Iraqi Airlines were offering air passage to Amman (from Baghdad) against payment in US Dollars. By that time, Iraqi currency was devalued thoroughly and the running rate was USD 1 = 20 Iraqi Dinar. Also One Kuwaiti Dinar was worth 10 Iraqi Dinars. We decided to tell or household items to Iraqi merchants, but insisted that they give us only Kuwaiti Dinars or US Dollars. Finally we got Enough Kuwaiti Dinars in exchange of our Television, VCR player, Washing machine, dishwasher, Vacuum Cleaner etc. Then we had them exchanged to US Dollars (which we later learnt as an illegal transaction!). We also did not have any idea of counterfeit currency those days. Sometimes, ignorance becomes better.

With the US Dollars, a few of us went to Baghdad for Air Tickets to Amman, with which we also got a visa for Jordan from the Jordanian Embassy (This was on a piece of paper, just the names and passport numbers and a stamp of the Embassy official along with his signature) We also had booked a bus to take us from Kuwait to Baghdad a day before on 18/09/1990, to catch our flight on 19/09/1990. We were still unaware whether we would be admitted to Jordan at Amman Airport with the Group Visa we had been issued.

We had plenty of Sugar, Oil, Milk & Milk Powder, Plain Flour, and other food items. With these, we decided to make a large quantity of biscuits for our way to India. We knew we cannot have except small baggage. We had kept the biscuits in a number of carry bags, which we could finally discard after finishing the contents. We also had sugar, coffee, milk powder, and condensed milk besides the biscuits.

Then the due departure day came of 17/09/1990, when we thought it would have been better if we could leave a day before. The bus contractor agreed to take us at dusk, on 17/09/1990, instead of dawn of 18/09/1990. But Iraqi police had different designs, and stopped us even before the bus had left Kuwait City, and escorted us to the nearest police station (Manned by Iraqi Police). We had no idea why they stopped us, but later we came to know that those days many of bus convoys were robbed by miscreants at dark on highway, and Iraqi Police didn’t want such a thing to happen. The night was not very cold as we were in the bus, and the winter had not set in. The day journey was quite OK, too, and the way was pleasant as we went through many ancient cities. We also had seen many Air Coolers, which was a common sight in Ahmedabad and Delhi. No wonder why Iraqis were buying window AC units in large numbers just as they were doing with Color TV Sets and VCR.

By early afternoon we arrived in Baghdad, at the Hotel where we were planning to stay. The Hotel reception informed us that there was no food with them. But of course we had quite a lot of food with us, and later we had offered them to the hotel boys. Most of them were from India, particularly, Kerala. They were extra courteous to our Group. We left with the Hotel workers, the remaining food stock that we did not take, like Packaged milk, water, pulses, and wheat flour. The same bus which had brought us to Baghdad was to take us to Baghdad Airport the next day to catch our flight.

The night was quite peaceful. As there were more people in our team than our booked numbers, some had to sleep in a few rooms with extra beds. The next day, we decided to go to the airport a bit early. Thus we had arrived at the airport a few hours before time.

Airport had a deserted look, as the only airline “Iraqi Airlines” was flying only between Baghdad and Amman. They were not allowed to land in any other neighboring countries. Our only wish was to escape Iraq before any fight between NATO led forces and Iraq, which was beginning to materialize.

Iraqi border police were frisking passengers and some of us were asked to leave behind money and gold ornaments they had, but for some reason that I still don’t know, we three didn’t face any such action. The policemen were correct with us. And at the scheduled time, the flight took off and in about an hour and half, it landed in Amman. I don’t even remember if there were Air Hostesses in that flight. The only fact I realized was why Indian Airlines had the code IC, as Iraqi Airlines was already allocated the Code IA!. Of course, after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines to a single entity Air India, Indian Airlines has become almost irrelevant.

There were Indian Embassy officials at airport, who told us that they would not take us to the refugee camps, but instead, repatriate us in one of the 20 or so flights between Amman and India, both direct flights as well as via Dubai. Indian Airlines had pressed into service their grounded A-320, into this service. (These were the aircrafts which were grounded after the air crashes at Ahmedabad and Chennai in 1989, and it was evident that those accidents were probably due to human error, rather than equipment failure. However, the Government was not willing to accept their stand earlier!)

We were happy at this, the embassy officials had taken our passport to stamp it for issuance of the tickets, which we had not had for a long time. We were also able to provide some of our biscuits to the batch of Indian passengers who had been coming from Refugee Camps. Finally our time came, and we found that the Airline didn’t have boarding cards, but let us into the flight on the strength of the passport with the stamp of Embassy. (The ticket jackets and Boarding cards were all exhausted by then). In the flight, I found almost everybody had fallen asleep after the crew had served hot dinner. Perhaps a sound sleep after a bit of anxious moments. Finally, after a flight that lasted for 4 or 5 hours, we arrived in Mumbai.

Most of us had tears in our eyes on touching Indian soil after a short period of uncertainty. And the surprise was not yet over. The newly constructed Haj Departure facility had been utilised even before its inauguration, as the Mumbai Airport Could not have handled the large number of flights between Amman and Mumbai. The Emigration & Custom officials were also nice, and after the passports were stamped, they had placed a crisp Rs 500/- in it for us to reach home. How thoughtful of Government of India, who knew that there would be many without even a rupee in hand. There was also special trains, free to our destinations, free food and newspapers from social organisations. We had called our people that we all have arrived in India, and after a brief halt in Mumbai left to our homes. Most of the stations en-route to Bangalore was aware of this train, and vendors were quite eager to provide us food and water.

The experience of living under occupied Kuwait for over a month was an experience: no two-way communications with outside world, seeing so many guns with young soldiers (who should have been studying in High Schools or College, rather than being deployed in war!), constant threat to life by a possible air-born war, starvation, in case our food and water stocks depleted too fast, getting ill and having little or no options for medical treatment, having money but not being able to use, and so many other issues, which are difficult to imagine in a free society. Nevertheless, the happy fallout from this is that all three of us became stronger to face similar realities.

 

Bad Dads in Indian Mythology

Bad dads are a part and parcel of mythologies from across the globe, and no matter how inspiring the mythical kings from the vast Hindu mythology might seem to you, you just can’t deny that they didn’t match up to the ideals of fatherhood. Don’t believe?

Here are a few dads from Hindu mythology who just weren’t the best, or not even there, when their kids needed them the most. Certainly not an example to emulate to present kids!

Dushyanta and Bharata (also known as Sarvadamana) 

Now this story has two children abandoned by their fathers. Vishwamitra left the heavenly nymph, Menaka, and their newborn daughter–because Menaka had dared to disturb his meditation. Menaka couldn’t take the child back to heaven, so she left her in the forest, where the sage Kanva found her and adopted her. That’s how Shakuntala, the heroine of Kalidasa’s famous Abhignanshakuntalam was born.

She probably didn’t know that history would repeat itself when she would fall in love with King Dushyanta. The couple fell in love and married through the Gandharva ritual (which is a legal marriage by mutual consent, without anything further to sanctify it!), while Kanva was away, and their time together left Shakuntala pregnant. All she had as a proof of the wedding was a signet ring, which she was supposed to present to the king’s court when she reached his capital. After Dushyanta left to resume work in his kingdom, Shakuntala was cursed by sage Durvasa that her beloved would forget her, unless she is able to show the signet ring.

When Shakuntala travelled to Dushyanta’s court (and lost the ring on the way), the king rejected her. Kalidasa’ plot might have been poetically penned, but what sort of a man forgets a woman he married simply because of a curse? Shakuntala returned to her hermitage, and gave birth to a son, Bharata. Dushyanta went on to be a king with a huge dominion, and stumbled across the young Bharata only years later.

Yes, he did finally accept Shakuntala and Bharata, but the whole story points to the fact that this mythological king didn’t give two hoots about the woman he had married in secret, or the son from that union. The king whose name inspired the name of India grew up without knowing the love or recognition of his father. Dushyanta might have been a great conqueror, but he was clearly not a great dad.

And even Shakuntala’s father, Sage Vishwamitra, couldn’t say a word, because he too had abandoned the pregnant Menaka, from whom the child Shakuntala was born. We can see Sage Vishwamitra too wasn’t very reputed as a great dad.

Shiva and Ganesha

We’re all aware of the wrath, the ‘destroyer of the world’, Shiva is capable of. But beheading his own son? That was a little extreme.

The legend described in the Shiva Purana says that Parvati created Ganesha, by her in divine power of being resplendent, when Shiva left for an expedition, leaving her alone and bored. On being persuaded by Lakshmi, Parvati created a statue of clay and blew life into it, and created a son who was called Ganesha.

Parvati ordered her son to guard the entrance while she was bathing, which is when Shiva, oblivious to Ganesha’s relation with him, returned. The obedient son that Ganesha was, he denied Shiva entry inside his mother’s bath, despite all the hermits and Devas trying to convince him. A stubborn Ganesha refused to listen to anyone but his mother, enraging his father.

Soon, the father and son were involved in a battle-like situation, which ended with Shiva beheading his son. The grieving Parvati’s fury on her husband forced him to reinstate life into her son’s headless body. Giving in to the prayers of the entire celestial beings, Shiva placed an elephant’s head on the body, and it came to life, thus, Lord Ganesha was reborn with an Elephant’s head!.

While it’s okay to have ideological differences with your children, and disagreements are a part of life, such violent acts should be condemned. There were other ways of penalizing Ganesha for his behavior; or else, he could just wait till Parvati  came out from her bath, but going to the extent of killing him out of rage, was extreme.

Of course, there are some versions if this story, which doesn’t punish Shiva as much!

Arjuna and Iravan

The son of Pandava prince, Arjuna, and Naga princess, Ulupi, turned out to be the ultimate sacrificial son.  Arjuna met and fell in love with the Naga princess, while he was living in the forest, as a punishment for a year, for entering Draupadi’s chamber while she was with Yudhishtira.

He married her, and the two were blessed with a boy, Iravan, the son Arjuna abandoned shortly after his birth, when his exile was over, only to turn his own son into his scapegoat much later.

Iravan lived in Nagaloka with his just mother, until the day his mother asked him to join Arjuna for the Mahabharatha war. Arjuna was fighting the battle, the Kauravas were winning, and Iravan joined in on his father’s command, because that’s what one was expected to do, even as a son abandoned shows up, out of respect.

Soon after Iravan’s entry into the battle, it was declared that the Pandavas could only win the battle if a prince was sacrificed to Goddess Kali. As expected, Iravan agreed to offer himself to the deity, because that’s what an obedient son was expected to do. Iravan himself chopped his head off for the father who abandoned him, without looking back with regret.

Arjuna might be the greatest archer in the world, but clearly, he wasn’t the greatest father.

Bhima and Ghatothkacha

Another scapegoat from the Mahabharata, Ghatothkacha was the son of the strongest Pandava, Bhima, and his Rakshasi wife Hidimbi. Like Arjuna, Bhima abadoned his son and wife in the forest only to think of his half-human half-rakshasa son when the need arose.

Ghatothkacha embodied the strengths of a rakshasa, and the intellect of a human. This made him one of the strongest warriors in the battle of Mahabharata. Abandoned by his father on Kunti’s (his grandmother) wishes, Ghatothkacha was remembered first when the Pandavas were too fatigued to walk, after coming out of the burning castle of wax. So, he carried them on his shoulders.

The next time Ghatothkacha was called to duty by Bhima was during the battle, where he killed Kauravas like ants under an elephant’s foot. To stop the terror he had unleashed on the Kauravas, Karna killed him using the Vaijayanthi Shastra (granted to him by Indra, in Exchange of Karna’s kavacha-kundala, with which he would have been invincible, and in spite of the fact that Karna had actually reserved this for his arch enemy Arjuna). Such was the power of this human-rakshas, who died serving his father, and is still an unsung hero.

Shantanu and Bhishma (Devavrata)

To be fair to Shantanu, one has to admit that he did try to stop Bhishma’s mother, Ganga, from drowning him at birth. She had drowned all seven previous children in the river, but he feared that she would leave him if he utters a word that could displease her. When the eighth son was born, Shantanu tried to stop her, and she revealed to him that she was Ganga and would leave him immediately, but promised him to bring him back after the infancy stage was over. When the father and son were reunited on the banks of the Ganga years later, Shantanu announced Devavrata as the crown prince.

But here, the good bit of this story from the Mahabharata ends. Four years after reuniting with Devavrata, Shantanu went for a little stroll in the forest, where he fell for the sweet-scented Satyavati. Of course, he couldn’t control himself, and Satyavati was not foolish enough to be seduced by a king without benefits. Her father, the chief fisherman of the village, asked Shantanu to vow that any child born of Satyavati and his union could claim the throne of Hastinapur.

When Devavrata learned about this, he wished to support his father’s desire, and took a pratigna of renouncing the throne, and staying a life-long celibate so that none of his lineage could ever challenge Satyavati’s children. Subsequently he was named Bhishma, as the vow was so strong that the entire world knew this was impossible for mortals, and he didn’t stray from his word till he died at Kurukshetra.

Bhishma has always been an ideal for us, but don’t you think Shantanu’s lust was the root of everything the young prince had to go through, even the war at Kurukshetra?

Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada

Both the Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana describe the terrifying story of this father-son duo. Most Hindu kids have grown up hearing the stories of the villain that Hiranyakashipu was, thanks to the nearly immortal boon he got from Brahma. His son Prahlada, born away from his father’s evil influence under the tutelage of sage Narada, was a bhakt of Vishnu, whom Hiranyakashipu hated.

Obviously, this father was very disappointed with his son for choosing a God he didn’t love one bit. I am sure your father might have been disappointed with your choices of friends, careers, or partners, and perhaps learnt to deal with them in time. That’s what parents do when they realize their child is an individual, and has a right to his/her own choices. But that’s a good father we’re talking about, not Hiranyakashipu.

He tried to get his son killed on numerous occasions. At one point, he has his sister, Holika, sit with Prahlada on a burning pyre. This led to Holika dahan, but Prahlada the Devout was unscathed. Finally, Hiranyakashipu directly challenged Prahlada’s beliefs, and Vishnu himself appeared in his Narasimha avatar to kill the demon king.

Uttaanpaada and Dhruva

Another character mentioned in Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, Dhruva craved the love of his father, but did not receive it. He was born to King Uttaanpaada and his first wive, the gentle queen Suniti. His favourite wive was, however, Suruchi, who also had a son and competitor for the throne, Uttama.

Suruchi always managed to turn Uttaanpaada against Dhruva. On one occasion, Dhruva was sitting on his father’s lap when Suruchi forcefully separated them. When Druva lay claim to his father’s affection, Suruchi told him to go and ask god for it. So Dhruva did. He performed severe austerities and prayed to Vishnu, who finally granted him his presence, love and Dhruvapadam (which means that he would become a celestial body after death, and be untouched by mahapralaya or apocalypse).

Dhruva went back to his kingdom and ascended the throne at the age of six. He was a good ruler, not by courtesy of his dad, and became the Dhruva star after his death.

If only Uttaanpaada had been a fair and loving father, Dhruva wouldn’t have had to compete with his brother for his affection. Vishnu was clearly a better father-figure in this story than this king. But then, we wouldn’t have the Dhruva Star or the Pole Star!

Rama and Luva-Kusha

There are as many versions of how Lord Rama came to know about his sons as there are versions of the Ramayana in this subcontinent.

According to the Valmiki Ramayana, Sita lived in Valmiki’s ashram after her banishment from Ayodhya under the suspicion of having committed adultery. Lord Rama sentenced her even without any trial, even ignoring the fact that she had already been put on a fire-test, immediately after the fall of Lanka.

The story states that Sita had twins, Luva and Kusha, who were born and brought up in Valmiki’s ashram, and trained by the sage himself.

They stopped the horse from Rama’s Ashwamedha yagna, and went on to battle with (and defeat) Shatrughna, Bharata and Laxmana. Finally, Rama encountered these twin boys in battle, and invited them to the Yagna in Ayodhya after witnessing their prowess. It was then that he was told that these young warriors were his sons. [Other versions say that Luva and Kusha travelled to Ayodhya with Valmiki, and sang the sage’s Ramayana to the citizens as well as the king. The citizens commented on their resemblance with Rama, and Valmiki finally revealed that they were the king’s true-born sons.] No matter which narrative you choose to believe, it’s clear that Rama’s love for laws and his kingdom far exceeded his love for his unborn children, especially when he banished Sita, even during her pregnancy.

Some might choose to believe that this proved Ram was an ideal ruler, but I think he failed as a father by not just missing out on the twins’ birth, but also by not keeping in touch with his wife and kids while they lived a life of penance in the jungle?

Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana

This is one case when a blind emperor became totally blind by his love for his son. All good advices from elders and noblemen were totally ignored, till the Mahabharata War destroyed the entire 18 Akshauhini of Armies, Duryodhana and his brothers, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shakuni and all maharathis, and all male children.

In other words, love for kids from dads also must have certain limits!

Our mythical kings and princes were quite the inspiration, but only as rulers. Their lives stand testimony to the fact that they weren’t the best dads; most of them were absent during their kids’ childhood, some didn’t even recognize the child’s mother until much later. These are clearly not the examples our great fathers looked up to, and we couldn’t be more glad for it.

My Recent Travel through the Epic Ramayana

I had read the great Epic Ramayana several times, that too a few different versions, the Adhyatma Ramayanam in Malayalam, translated by Thunchathu Ezhutachan; actually at home, we used to read a chapter of Adhyatma Ramayana almost everyday, and occasionally Srimad Bhagavatam,  never Mahabharatha.

I don’t know the reason, perhaps we didn’t have a copy of Mahabharatha at home. (Most people here believe that daily reading of Mahabharatha is not very auspicious, although it was also one of the holy books, for fear that mere reading might trigger family disputes.)

Ezuthachhan, has translated several holy books Adhyatma Ramayanam and Srimad Bhagavatham, Mahabharatham, besides writing several others like Harinamakeerthanam.

A story of Ramayana always intrigued me. The story of Sampati, the king of birds, and elder brother of Jatayu. It seems that once he and Jatayu decided to fly to sun, and as an elder brother, he felt it is his duty to protect his brother and flew above him. The hot rays of sun quickly burnt all feathers on his wings, and he dropped fast like a stone. Even his brother Jatayu could not look out for him, and he was lost.

After some searches, Jatayu abandoned his search for his brother and left the scene in sorrow, and later became a friend of King Dasaratha. Actually Sampati had fallen to an inaccessible valley in a hill.

Centuries of penance at the spot where Sampati fell, Lord Vishnu felt sympathy on him and appeared before him. He asked him to continue his penance and told him that soon in Tretayuga, A group of monkeys would come looking for Lord Ram’s wife Sita, and you have to tell him where the Mighty Ravan has abducted her. On giving the directions to them, you will regrow the feathers on your wings and get back to your youthful age.

Recently, I was reading an article on Vultures and Condors, who are the present largest birds on earth with wingspan over 10ft almost! These birds usually become heavy as they age, and their talons and beaks grow crooked inwards, making them useless to hunt. The bird, after having lost its ability to hunt will have to die. But they are given yet another chance of life, if they were willing to go through a long and painful process in their life.

These birds then stay  in the safety of a tree-top, without food for almost a month, they start carefully plucking the talons with their crooked beak, until the talons are almost bare, without their calcareous coating. He then starts plucking each of the old heavy feathers from the wings, till the bird almost becomes nude. The long neck helps him to do this. Then he hits the beak on the hard parts of the tree, until it breaks off. After that, the surviving bird waits till their new beaks, feathers on the wing and talons start growing, and believe me, they grow and the bird has yet another lease of life!

When I read this article, I felt whether Aadikavi Valmiki knew this fact, while writing the epic!

 

Coding of Numbers in Malayalam

Most people find it difficult to remember numbers, especially when it is a monotonous string of the 10 digits, often with decimals. It is true that the decimal system was invented by Indian Mathematicians, most likely before Buddha’s time, or roughly 2000 years ago, but except the names of multiples of ten, which are used to write the numbers in words, the numerals are written with the 9 numerals and zero.

To remember the strings of numbers, people of many places have devised coding for many reasons. However, I find that in Kerala, there is something astonishingly simple. I am referring to. the Paralpper System (Also known as Katapayadi).

The Paralpperu or Katapayaadi is a code in Malayalam to represent a number. This could even be used in all Indian Languages. The convention is as follows, based on the consonants displayed in the table below:

Ka 1 Kha 2 Ga 3 Gha 4 Nga 5 Kandhya
Cha 6 Chha 7 Ja 8 Jha 9 Nja 0 Talavya
Ta 1 Tha 2 Da 3 Dha 4 Na 5 Murdhanya
Pa 6 Pha 7 Ba 8 Bha 9 Ma 5 Oshthya
Ya 1 Ra 2 La 3 Va 4
Sha 5 sha 6 sa 7 Ha 8 Sha (talavya),  sha (murdhanya), sa (dantya)
La 9 Zha 0 Rha 0 Special characters of Malayalam

1 -> Ka, Ta, Pa, Ya

2->  Kha, Tha, Pha, Ra

3->  Ga, Da, Ba, La

4->  Gha, Dha, Bha, Va

5->  Nga, Na, Ma, Sha

6->  Cha, ta, sha

7->   Chha, tha, sa

8->  Ja, da, Ha

9->  Jha, dha, la

0->  Nja, na, Zha, Rha

Vowels do not have any value and can be used to effectively compose meaningful words. The first character of the code would represent the place of unity, the second in tens, third in hundreds and so on, and in general you would need to inverse the numbers you get while coding.

Altogether there are 51 letters in Malayalam script. There is a very popular saying “Please do not speak any “KaMa”, to indirectly say, “do not speak anything”. Ka has a value of 1 and Ma 5. Place value of Ka in Unit place, and Ma in place of Ten, which would make 51, and this popular saying would mean “Do not speak any of the 51 letters”

The word Kavi would signify a number 41, Kavita 641, and so on. Ganita would mean 653, Bharata would have a value of 624. You can start composing some words to mean different numbers.

In ancient texts dealing with mathematics, the value of p, the ratio of circumference to the diameter of a circle, expressed to 10 decimal places is given by a Word “ChandaamshuChandraadhamaKumbhipaala” which would be (31415926536).

In Karnatic Music, there are altogether 72 “melakarta ragas”, each of them have been coded this way. Thus, the Raga Kanakaamgi would be 01, or the First Melakarta Raaga. Similarly, Kharaharapriya would be 22nd Melakarta raga, Dheerashankaraabharanam, the 29th and so on.

The Malayalam Year started on the Kali year represented by the word “Taralaamgam” or 3926. So, if you add 3926 to Malayalam year, you would have the Kali year. Also, The same Malayalam year was started on the Common Era (CE) Year Sharajam (825), so if you add 825 to Malayalam year, you would have the CE year.

It is a known fact that many of the mathematical constants used in Astronomy are expressed in this way. I am sure many of them are still to be explored, and now open for the scientists to decipher these wonders for popular usage.

The zero was invented many centuries ago, but the decimal and fractions were not so much use.  However, fractions were used with certain ingenuity. It gives the circumference of a circle of diameter, expressed as “anūnanūnnānananunnanityai” (10,00,00,00,000) ,as chaṇḍāṃśuchandrādhamakuṃbhipālair (31,41,59,26,536). This gives the value of the Circumference to diameter ratio, pi (π) as 3.1415926536. The exact sloka (in Malayalam) Karaṇa·paddhati, written has the following śloka for the value of pi (π):

അനൂനനൂന്നാനനനുന്നനിത്യൈ-
സ്സമാഹതാശ്ചക്രകലാവിഭക്താഃ
ചണ്ഡാംശുചന്ദ്രാധമകുംഭിപാലൈര്‍-
വ്യാസസ്തദര്‍ദ്ധം ത്രിഭമൗര്‍വിക സ്യാത്‌

Similarly, Shaṅkara·varman’s Sadratnamaalā uses the Kaṭapayādi system.  A famous verse found in Sad·ratna·mālā is . भद्राम्बुद्धिसिद्धजन्मगणितश्रद्धा स्म यद् भूपगी:
It’s transliteration is bhadrāṃbuddhisiddha janmagaṇita śraddhāsmayad bhūpagīḥ, which gives the number 314159265358979324. A more accurate value of pi has not been referred in the 15th century by any other text. People used the katapayadi system for coding such large numbers. I am told about pi having been worked to 32 places of decimal by yet another sutra. As there are more than one alternate to represent a number, our ancient astronomers and mathematicians used very interesting combinations to better remember the code later on!

Life as a Student in France – Part 2

This is continuation from part 1, where I described how i spent the first few months in France, in the cities of Royan, Montpellier and Toulouse. It was in August that I finally cleared the course work and completed a technical formality towards my Provisional Registration to PhD, which now has become regular. And with the encouragement from my friends and the research team, and having got a “yes” from Baby, life suddenly became more meaningful. Serge found the changes happening to me, and suddenly wondered what happened to me in the past week, and I told him about my love affair and what happened very recently. He couldn’t believe that anyone could have had a love affair for such a long time!

I have now 3 years to go, but wished that I could do it faster, perhaps in 2 years. My friend Jean-Marie Martin gave me a name “Fusee”, meaning Rocket, as I worked practically from 07:00 in the morning till 18:00 hours on all five days. (Primarily because I used to have breakfast in my Hostel Room (Not the cafeteria), Lunch near the office at a University Restaurant, and dinner on my way back from Institute. I usually reached home by 20:00, after a walk from the Restaurant Universitaire d’Arsenal.

We had a new addition in the group, Mr Louis Castanier that year. He was from Institut National de Sciences Appliqués (INSA), I found his base in mathematics and physics to be extremely strong, much better than mine. The patrons of the group, Professors Combarnous and Bories were not very happy with the progress made in the Geothermal project by François Klockenbring during the previous year, a project sponsored by the DGRST (funding from the R&D budget if France), and was perhaps waiting for a replacement. Louis was inducted into that place, and François left for some other job. I was very sorry for him as he was already with a family with three children. But then, that was life. From then onwards Louis and I became very close. Meanwhile, IFP had sent Roland Lenormand on a post doctoral assignment in the group. He and Jacques were working on visualization of two-phase flow in porous medium. Jacques Bonnet had already made 2-D structures of porous media and was experimenting with visualization, and the association with Roland made some very quick progress on the project. I suddenly found we have three leaders, Serge, Jean-Marie and Roland, in the group with whom I could discuss any research related issues. Louis was a very lively person, who took me out for a few evenings in town, where I could freshen up a bit, away from the pressures of work. I am not certain if it was the idea of Roland or Serge to ask Louis to cool me a bit, once a while.

I knew the standard ways of determining interfacial tension between oil and water phases at ambient temperature. but what I needed was the IFT at elevated temperatures and pressures. Jean-Marie suggested that I contact Mr Minssieux and Mr Cuiec of IFP who could help me with this problem. Roland and Jean-Marie called them and discussed the problem, and it was then decided that I should go to IFP for a month and carry out IFT studies. I was also given accommodation at the IFP Scholars’ residence of IFP on Rue Sophie Rodrigues, about 1-1.5 km from IFP. I was given all facilities for my work at IFP by Mr Minssieux, so that my work was complete in about a month. My friends Ghoshal and Ayman were there, as good company. We went to Museums, and other landmarks of Paris during weekends. I had set a number of conditions for IFT measurements by varying salinity, and temperature, while preserving a high constant pressure. Of course, for control, I also carried two additional measurements, one at much higher pressure than the other. On one of those days, I had gone to Indian Embassy and met Mr Iyengar also. When I showed the results, Serge was very impressed and happy and told me that my research is going in the right direction. We also published a technical paper in the IFP Magazine “Revue de l’IFP”.

The research was to proceed in the planned direction from then onwards, after discussing the results of those experiments with the patrons of research, Mr Simandoux of IFP, Mr Gravier of CFP, and Mr De Lamballerie of  Elf-Aquitaine.

Winter in Toulouse was never very cold, and there is a saying that if the Christmas is warm, the Easter would freeze. That year it was exactly so, Toulouse did have a warm Christmas in 1975, but the following Easter 1976  was very cold. I also decided to have a summer vacation in July-August in Kerala, and made a request to my Scholarship Authorities. It would be Paris-Bombay-Cochin, but till the last day, there was no confirmation on the Bombay-Cochin sector. I wrote to Ghoshal, if he needed anything from Toulouse as my exit point was Paris, and I would perhaps stay with him for a day or so. I was also told that there is a need to get a Visa Return+Re-entry, that I needed to apply at the Toulouse Prefecture Office, as directed by Air France, So I applied and got the same in a couple of days.

Thereafter I had the tickets from Air France delivered to me by post. I then booked my train journey to Paris for arriving the previous day of my departure. Still there was no confirmation for the Bombay-Cochin Sector.

Meanwhile, Ghoshal, Ayman and I decided to visit some more shops, and Ghoshal asked me to buy things for my people in Kerala. With their help, I had bought some things to fill my suitcase. Ayman dropped me at the Airport well ahead of time, and I had an easy check-in and boarding. I ate and slept well during the flight, and arrived in Bombay at an early morning. I found out that the Bombay-Cochin flight was full and I might not stand a chance, so contacted one of my friends from Indian Airlines, Mr Vellodi, who could somehow arrange a ticket for Trivandrum instead. As that was the only one available. That flight was in the evening, and Indian Airlines had agreed to take me to Cochin after landing in Trivandrum.

The flight must have landed in the evening around 0500 PM, after a very long flight (probably 3-4 hours I don’t remember, in one of the old Avros turboprop aircrafts, which was very bumpy and noisy) and immediately after collecting baggages, I got into a KSRTC bus going to Ernakulam. Luckily for me, the flight was passing through Kottayam, Vaikom and Tripunithura. I told the Conductor that I would like to get down at Tripunithura. It reached around 0900 PM, and I went straight to my uncle’s place near the bus stop. There was a big crowd there, as the very next day, Thulasi Chettan was getting married.  I was very happy and could meet all their family. Early in the morning, I took one of the first buses to Kanjiramattom with my suitcase.

I had to get ready for the wedding and came with my people. At the wedding place, met Baby, her parents & brother Rajan, Sasi my other cousin, who was also in Ranchi & Durgapur those days (after I had left Dhanbad), Thulasichettan’s sister Rajachechi and Appuchettan, from BHU, (Whom I had met many years ago, while they were in Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Calcutta. I was pleasantly surprised that almost everyone knew about the affair between Baby and I, and were even asking when we were planning to get married!. Of course, both of us didn’t have any plan to get married at that point of time.

After the wedding, or probably the next day, the three of us (Rajan, Sasi and I) were introduced  by Thulasichettan Prema, his new sister-in-law, her brothers and parents. That time, we were all his cousins. Sasi and I were also taking some photos with my camera (I was having a few colour film rolls those days). Weddings are always very exciting.

I remember having attended a few (at least two more) weddings during those days. One was of Latha, daughter of my cousin Kuttanchettan (Ittanthottu), and the other of my classmate in school, Surendran. Latha’s wedding was in their house in Kanjiramattom, while Surendran’s wedding was in another village, we as groom’s party, went by a chartered bus. I remember a guy got drunk in at a toddy shop in that village, created some scene, but then was quite tired by the time we were returning. I felt that it is necessary for the Groom’s party to be at least decent, and it should be the responsibility of one senior member of the party. I spent quite some time with Baby, as by then most of our relatives were aware of our plans. One of my uncles told us that it is not a nice idea to go out together before marriage, but since our parents had full confidence on us, we did not bother much. Most probably we restricted our going together to relatives’ houses after that.

The two months were over so fast, and it was time to return. One day, I suddenly realized my camera developed some snag, and would not click. I opened the lens from the body, and gave a few jerks and it was OK again. Baby was near me, and was amused at that and enquired if that’s what I were to do later in my life, when someone or something doesn’t function correctly! I don’t think I had answered her question.

From Kochi, I could not get confirmation of my air France flight, but I booked for my flight Cochin-Bombay. Airlines office said they would send a message to Bombay. The date of my departure came and I was ready to go.

The flight was pretty eventless, and not as bumpy as the flight from Bombay to Trivandrum I had taken earlier. I also had a window seat, so took some photos from the plane. At Bombay, I got down in a hurry, and then took a cab to go to my uncle’s house. I didn’t realize that it was far away, in Borivali. All of a sudden, I realized that I don’t have my camera with me, so took a return to airport, where I tried to enquire with Indian Airlines, if they had found my Camera (Mamiya 35mm SLR). As I didn’t find it, I lodged a police complaint  at the airport, and then took a cab to the Vile Parle railway station and took a suburban train to Borivali. I reached there by about 0930 PM, I think, told my uncle about the missing camera.

Next day, I contacted the Air France Office about my flight, which was to be delayed. I then went to the airport customs to see what can be done about the lost camera, which had an entry in my passport. With the help of some of my friends in Indian Airlines, I could meet the additional collector of customs, who reduced the customs duty on my camera, which was paid the next day. Thereafter I went to the Air France office and reconfirmed my return journey for the next available flight.

I had almost exhausted most my my cash in hand, and had paid my rail ticket Paris-Toulouse from bank account by cheque, which had very little balance; my scholarship was also a month away almost, but still work in the lab immediately made me busy. Of course, I had to wait for my scholarship before I could print my photos. Buying a camera was still farther. My radio and tape recorder were giving me some company & entertainment. As the Cite Universitaire Chapou was closed, and the available accommodation was a bit farther, I stayed with a friend for about a week till my residence was open. And when I moved in, I had to fetch my suit cases which were left in the cloak room, however, I could not find one. I waited for some time till I was certain that the person who took mine by mistake had no intent return mine! So it was lost for ever. Luckily, I had no idea what i had packed in, and as I didn’t really miss anything at all, probably those things were junks for me any way, except perhaps the suitcase itself!

I was spending more on postage, as every week I was writing letters to Baby, in addition to my parents, and once a while to my other friends, in France, and in India.

The post office, which was near my lab, where I used to have a savings account, also became a place I used to visit. For some reasons, we students could not have a bank account those days, except in my last year, although in my first year in Royan, with the help of the Language Institute, I could have a bank account in “Credit Agricole”, however the branch of this bank in Montpellier and Toulouse, refused me to operate the account. But in the year 1976, the branch of “Banque National de Paris” agreed to open an account which I made use of.

 There was a new occupant from DGCA for association with Airbus Toulouse. He told me about his well-researched SLR camera, a Praktika, and after listening to his descriptions I decided to go for that. He was also keen to buy that. Then on one of the next tours to Andorre, we too decided to go. There was also some more friends from ISRO, Mr Dasgupta and Singhal. In Andorre, we got Praktika with even better specifications that what my friend had described. And the price was just about half of what I would have paid for a Japanese make equivalent. I realized that this camera had designs from East German Zeiss, but manufactured probably in Czechoslovakia (those days it was just one country). It was of course a very good buy.

Very soon my research project was approved by the patrons (IFP, CFP and Elf-Aquitaine) and so, my research guide asked me to start writing my thesis. His secretary did a good job of typing the text from my manuscript, and after about two further corrections, it was submitted. I think they had made about 100 copies of the same. My scholarship had a provision to these jobs and I didn’t have to spend any money from my pocket.

 The Institut National Polytechnique of Toulouse and the Academy of Toulouse had fixed provided copies of the thesis to a number of important personalities of university and industry, and based on their convenience, it fixed a date for the public presentation of the thesis. And after about three hours, they pronounced the verdict, and gave me a copy of their judgement. I was asked to take it to the Director of ENSEEIHT, Professeur Nougaro, who had also chaired the Jury, to fix his signature and stamp, so that the Ministry of Education, Ministry of External Affairs would attest it, and Indian Embassy would attest the signature of the Ministry of External Affairs. All this was required to make the document a legal document in India or anywhere outside France. On my return journey, I had kept a full week in Paris, so that all these formalities would be completed in time, before my departure. I took a Visa for Exit this time with adequate time to pack my bags and leave France. My Toulouse team gave me a warm send off, with everybody with their family members in a nice restaurant.

In Paris, things went very well with me, only because my friend Mr Ayman El-Naggar helped me to go from place to place in his car. And at the Indian Embassy, I didn’t have any difficulty as Mr Iyengar  was in full readiness to help me out. Meanwhile I got a letter from Baby, asking for some chemicals (which were also used in medicine) to be bought. I checked with the chemical suppliers, and found out that they need to be stored in Refrigerator. I decided to pick up them the last day, so that the storage would not be an issue.

Finally on the day when I had to leave, I had been given a warm send off by Ghosal and Ayman who also dropped me at the airport. The flight itself was quite boring, and I think it stopped at Tel Aviv before landing in Bombay at an early morning hour. The queue for immigration was long, and by the time I came out to fetch my baggage, I could not find it. Apparently, there was a mix up and the airline baggage handling staff had not brought in my suitcase! I made a complaint at the Air France Counter, who gave me a copy of the same, and told me that the flight has already left for (I think) Hong Kong, and they would send it to Kochi Customs for me to collect it there. They also advised me to get a landing certificate from Customs, to this effect, so that I could collect my suitcase.

This time, I had more time to prepare my return journey, so my Indian Airlines (Now Air India) flight was sometime late in the morning, and I reached Cochin Airport (at Wellington Island) early afternoon. As there was just a carry-on bag, I didn’t have to take a taxi to go home. My sister and brother-in-law were at the airport, and very soon we were at our home in Kanjiramattom.

I had a small bag with chemicals Baby had asked, and as we didn’t have a fridge to store it, I took it to her parents, also in Kanjiramattom, saying that I would go to deliver it at Andhra University very soon, and till then it must be kept in the fridge. And we were talking for some time, and it became late in the evening when I left for my home.

The very next morning, we got the news that my grandfather expired, and we all left for their house, also at walking distance. That delayed my going to Andhra University by about a week, I think. Eventually I took a train to Visakhapattnam and delivered the packet to Baby. I think I stayed for a couple of days at  Andhra University Guest House, and then returned. She was also planning to take leave and come over to Kerala after a few weeks.

I got a message from Air France that my baggage had been sent under Customs seal to Cochin, and asked me to collect it at Cochin Customs. I promptly went there with my brother-in-law to clear the suitcase. The customs officials found that it contained my clothes, and cleared it very easily.

 Within a month plenty of things happened to me. First was my marriage with Baby. After that, I received a letter from ONGC, asking me to report to the GM of Ahmedabad Project and join as Deputy Director in the Institute of Reservoir Studies. So, within days of the wedding, we both proceeded to Andhra University, and then after a couple of days to Ahmedabad, via Bombay. There I met a number of my friends, and reported to Mr A. K. Gupta, GM of Ahmedabad Project, as one of the new employees of the Institute of Reservoir Studies, which was yet to be built and inaugurated!

First Appointment in ONGC

I previously hinted that I attended my interview for IPS/Allied services at Chennai with an appointment letter to join ONGC at Mehsana Project in Gujarat. At that time I was also very eager to join the job. So immediately after the interview, I took a train to Mehsana from Chennai, instead of returning to Kanjiramattom and proceed. Perhaps that saved me train journey by a couple of days. The train was first from Madras Central to Bombay Dadar, and then change train to Ahmedabad, again change train to Mehsana. Quite a long trip it was.

The train journeys through central India was very bad those days, weather hot, and the Coal engines driven trains were very dirty. There were no AC coaches (At least I saw only Third Class, Second Class and First Class Coaches in trains those days). The compartments were dirty, never were cleaned, as “Swatcch Bharat” was to come only several decades later. Of course, I am not saying that the train routes I had frequented till them, mainly the east coast route, was cleaner.

I still remember some stations en route, Guntakal, Raichur, Solapur, Pune and few others. Bombay was about 2 days journey, and I had to get down at Dadar Junction and change over to another platform to wait for a train to Ahmedabad, which was just about a night’s journey. And from Ahmedabad, my destination, Mehsana Junction was about 3 hours distance.

Quite interestingly, I felt that the Central India, especially stations like Raichur, Guntakal, etc., were with fairly good catering and served hot lunch/dinner. But that was not the case in the stretch between Dadar and Ahmedabad. Nobody came to the (unreserved coach) asking if anyone wanted dinner. Perhaps I was the only one boarding the train without having the dinner. I had some tea at some stations and some snacks to satisfy my appetite. In the morning, It was Ahmedabad.

I now don’t remember which train I took for Mehsana, the only thing I realized is that it was a meter-guage train, and after many station such as Sabarmati, and Kalol, the train moved into Mehsana Junction.

After getting down, I went to a restaurant nearby, asked if I could have a bath, they asked me who I was, and when they learnt that I was from the South, and came to join ONGC, there were many volunteers and help. I took a good wash, had my breakfast and got ready for going to ONGC Office.

Mr L N Sarin was the then Project Manager, where I had to submit my joining report, which I did early in the morning. He promptly advised me to proceed to Mr S Prasad, Executive Engineer Production. In his office, I met some of his Assistant Engineers, Mr B M Bindal, Mr F A Khan, Mr Chittar Singh, Mr T S Kapoor and others. Mr Alex was the secretary to Mr Prasad. After a while I was assigned to the Well Head Installation of Kadi-1, where already several nearby wells, a few production tanks, a few separators, etc. If such a thing were to be installed in the 80’s or 90’s, it would have got the name of “Early Production System”, and would have received lots of press coverage. Not in 70’s, when publicity wasn’t the most important thing. I now feel proud that it is now the biggest oilfield of ONGC’s Western Region, and was once the biggest on-land oilfield of India till Rajasthan’s Mangala Field overtook this one!

My family in Kerala was very happy that I had started working.

Before I had joined Mehsana, Mr Johri, my classmate had already joined, and Mr Mahajan was to join probably the same week. All were in the same place with Mr B M Bindal, who was the installation in charge of WHI Kadi-1. Mr FA Khan was in charge of WHI Sobhasan-1, which was very near Mehsana Town, while Kadi-1 was about 35km, and took at least 1 hour for the ONGC Shift vehicle to reach. The shift timings were 07:00-14:00. 14:00-22:00, 22:00-07:00 hours, and we had 2 mornings, 2 evenings, 2 nights followed by 2 days off, and the cycle continued.

A few months after I had joined Mehsana, the IPS selection list had appeared; as expected my name was not there. I was not happy or unhappy, as by then I had already settled into the job.

I had in my shift Mr Mathew, Tech Asst-II, Mr E M Noohu, Production Operator as my crew, plus the usual Fireman, Security Guard, etc. The crude produced was being metered by tank gauging and loaded into Tanker Trucks (Bowsers is the name in Oil India Limited), sealed with a note, to be acknowledged by the receiving installation in ONGC Ahmedabad field. Very soon we realized that the other end had also one of our friends, in charge of the installation, and we also explored if it is possible, after the second night shift to get to that place and spend a couple of days. This turned out to be much easier, as the distance from our place to Ahmedabad was mostly by better roads and took less time. After a few months, we started using this strategy.

We three had rented an apartment near the office, in Nandanvan Society. Among my friends were two persons from BIT Sindri, Mr Sinha and Mr Sah, who used to live near by. They used to come and meet us occasionally. Mr Sinha told me that he was preparing for Public Examinations for Indian Engineering Services. Curiously, I checked with him the subjects, and eligibility, and found that any engineering graduate from a recognized engineering college could appear for the same. Also the different subjects did not have Petroleum Engineering, but all other subjects, such as Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Chemical and others. English was the other subject in the format of this examinations.

In Ahmedabad, I realized that there were some good public libraries with lots of good books. As I had already prepared for the IAS exams, where I had taken Mechanical and Electrical Engineering as the options, I thought with the help of the library facility of Ahmedabad, I would have a good chance to get through.

Meanwhile, there was an advertisement, calling for overseas higher studies scholarships from Government of India, for graduates like me, who have not yet completed a certain age, and could be from any branch of engineering. I felt like applying, requested for Application forms and applied to the Ministry of Education.

The centre for the Engineering Services Examinations was at Ahmedabad, and I appeared, taking a few days leave. The Interview for the Overseas Scholarship scheme was in Shastri Bhavan New Delhi. I had in my interview somebody from the Embassy of France, who asked me if I knew any French. Of course, I didn’t have any knowledge of that language, but to his question about France, I could talk fairly well about the Book by Victor Hugo, the Les Miserables, the French Revolution and its consequences in the world politics. I suddenly remembered how much the Kanjiramattom’s Library, and the IAS Examinations had helped me in these answers. Still I had no idea if my answers to the Technical interview were impressive or the chance of my being selected.

It looks like the subject of my choice of higher studies had matched with some of the facilities the French Government had offered, that is why the interview of the board had a member from the French Embassy.

After the interview was over, I returned to Mehsana. Mr Bindal had agreed to Mr Prasad’s request to place me in the office, to handle the Technical Cell of the EE Production. I readily agreed. Of course, this meant that I had no further easy trips to Ahmedabad and all that. The technical Cell had in its possession a FACIT mechanical calculating machine, which required punching numbers using keys, and then rotate a crank in one direction to multiply, and the other to divide as many time. I have never seen another machine later in my life. There was one Mr Suryanarayanan, who taught me how to use the machine to do multiplication and division, fairly accurately.

The main activity is to reconcile the production figures coming out of different installations. reconcile the despatch from installations in Mehsana Project with the Receipts at Ahmedabad Project, for each day. Once the reconciled figures are ready a daily report would be issued by the Cell for the other Departments such as Geology, E&S and other departments, the Regional Headquarters at Baroda, and the ONGC Headquarters at Dehradun. Very soon I could streamline this, and found out that there was some kind of discrepancy between the Production and Receipt figures, which was not very easy to ignore. A Facit Calculator was the main asset of the Cell.

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Facit Calculating Machine, similar to what I had used in the Technical Cell.

Usually the crude oil is allowed to settle in the O/H tanks, and with time, the liquid would lose almost all gas and froth, and thereafter there should not be anything except measurement inaccuracies between the measurements at Mehsana installations or Ahmedabad. But the discrepancies were more. It was then decided to pull up the transport contractor and recover from him for the loss in transit beyond the permissible limits.

I had decided to go on holidays in the month of July and return in September. As the day of my journey had approached, there was a news that Train journey between Mumbai and Chennai had been disrupted by rains. I decided to start my journey as per plan. As there was a large gap between my next departure at Dadar, I decided to take a break journey at Dadar (Western Railway) and go to my uncle’s place.

I then found out that my train has been cancelled, when I asked for cancellation, the railway office told me as mine was an out-station ticket, it cannot be cancelled. With reluctance, he agreed to give me a note that the train by which I had booked has been cancelled. I then bought a return ticket to Mehsana and returned.

Next day, I cancelled my leave and rejoined office, went to Mehsana Railway Station to claim refund of the ticket. They agreed to do that, after deducting the cost of the sectors I had used. Thats what happened to my vacation! I was very sad and disappointed, due to the bad weather floods had caused disruption of rail services, and I had to cancel my vacation.

But destiny had something else reserved for me, that was perhaps why my journey was disrupted. But then after a few weeks, towards late September or early October, I received a letter, asking me to prepare for my journey to France, and that different letters to the Passport Office, Reserve Bank, French Consulate, and Airlines are all being sent by the Education Ministry. The interview I had in the Ministry of Education in Delhi was by then a forgotten story for me. But then, I could not correlate the cancellation of my vacation and this study opportunity; had I been on my vacation, I probably might have missed it!

I felt in such a short period, it might no be possible to proceed to France, so decided to take a dash to Delhi. In ministry, they gave me a copy of each of the documents they had sent to the different authorities and copies to me, and asked me not to delay my departure. I only had to believe what he said, but still not convinced that Passport, Visa etc, could be arranged so fast.

I returned, and went to the Passport office, Ahmedabad, who only wanted a passport photo and an ONGC officer’s signature, to identify me. They also asked me to make sure that that officer must affix a rubber stamp along with the signature. I went to ONGC’s Nawagam Project, which was the nearest, even though I knew that nobody knew me there, but I still found some from ISM, who were more than helpful to do what the passport office wanted, though they weren’t certain of what I told them (the form stated that “…by any officer not below the rank of Jt Secretary”.

The Passport Office, Ahmedabad asked me to collect passport in the afternoon. I promptly went & collected the passport. The next day, I went to the Reserve Bank Office in Ahmedabad, who immediately went overdrive and gave me the Foreign Exchange as per rules.

I then went back to Mehsana, and told the people that all is successful and can leave any time. I wrote a letter of resignation to the Project Manager, and routed through Mr Prasad. He actually took me to Mr Sarin, Project Manager, who wished me good luck. And with good words from all, I had Decided not to waste any more time, and proceeded to go to Mumbai. Mrs Kapoor gave me a warm send off, and fed me some home made food, including some special sweets, just as a Bhabhi would send her husband’s younger brother away from home.

That was the end of my Working with ONGC. I had a second spell with ONGC, which was much later.

Life in Indian School of Mines

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Some pictures of ISM, which I had taken in 2007:

By middle of August 1966, ragging was over, most of us got a large number of textbooks from our seniors, who became extra friendly. (Usually the person who ragged most became the closest friend). We could wear shirts with folded sleeves, and it was no more a necessity to salute seniors. Generally there was a big friendship between our senior batch and us, particularly among the same branch. I also understood the nice tradition of everyone inheriting text books from their immediate seniors. We also got some equipment like set of squares, drawing instruments, etc. from our seniors. Also those among the senior batch became our advisors for just about anything, and we could ask for help.

We used to go out almost everyday. Hirapur was the closest place to get essentials like toiletries, Bank Mode for eating out, Railway Club for English movies, Railway Institute for Hindi Movies. All these were mostly on walks at least one way. Besides, we also used to go to Jharia for new Hindi movies. From the back gate, we used to walk up to Dhaiyya & the G T Road, and CMRS, while from the main gate, it was Mony Shop to have some nice Dosa. There was a second gate to the same road, mainly for use by the people of Teaching Staff Quarters, and we could walk up, as the road used to be less congested and low traffic. The inner roads which were frequented by me were around the upper grounds, around the Football & Tennis courts, by the side of Tank Shop, etc., and towards the Post Graduate Hostel.

We used to have a tutorial in subjects like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, which was really helpful. A good number of problems were being solved during that time. In case of Physics and Chemistry, this was an additional activity in the Practical Class. We also had a Viva-Voce exam in almost every practical class. I found this very useful, as that also made us understand better some of the reasons for the phenomena.

I must have visited Ranchi perhaps a couple of time that year, and my cousin Baby used to ask me some doubts in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. I was glad to comply with her requests. I was there on some short holiday, and had no book to study, or homework to finish, so mostly free most of the time. Of course, those few weeks prior to examinations, where we didn’t have to attend classes, I stayed in ISM campus itself, it was only when I used to have a short break that I used to go to Ranchi. Also, when Baby’s exams were near, I would normally not be visiting, so I do not really feel there was any contribution on her marks from my intervention.

We also used to have Geology Practicals, which consisted of visiting nearby areas, to see the boundaries between Talchir and Barakar formations, identification of a fault by slickenside coals, fossils in coal such as Foraminifera, and so on. Explanations were given by Mr Tiwari. The classes were generally by Mr Hussain, and Dr R T Shukla.

After the First year examinations were over, we were to attend a month-long training in a coal mine (Compulsory for every student of ISM those days). My room mate Mr Udayan Sarkar and I were asked to proceed to Sawang Colliery (Hazaribagh Dist). We arrived at the place as usual. Those days there was a Mining Training School with a Hostel at Jarangdih, near the Jarangdih Colliery, which accommodated more ISM First year students. We used to have food in the mess, and the mess boy used to collect money for the food for week ahead. I used to pay this systematically, but one day suddenly realized that my colleague Udayan, who was going with me to Sawang Colliery, was missing. The mess boy said he had not even paid his dues, and asked me to check from the colliery office. That day, we all decided to leave the place, as we have stayed in the mine for about two weeks. I had told about this to Mr Balaswami (A Guindy Engineering College graduate) and Mr Krishnan (who was Manager at Sawang Colliery, and ex-ISM), who told me that after the month is over they would prepare my certificate, and I can collect later.

This time, I could not return to ISM, as they would realise that I didn’t complete my full training period, so I decided to go to Ranchi, complete the remaining period, and then return to Dhanbad, to pick up my Railway pass for my homeward journey. There was still a risk of somebody from ISM visiting Sawang Colliery to check about what training we were undergoing, and although Mr Krishnan had assured me, that he would take care of my full training there, I was a bit tense. So, after completing my scheduled training period, I again passed via Sawang Colliery to collect my training certificate, and return to Dhanbad.

Those days, Hazaribagh was perhaps one of the hottest places in summer, and staying any amount of time in sun would be fatal. However, Bus and train journeys were pleasant. After reaching Dhanbad, I found out that the results of the First year exams were out. I had top marks in one or two subjects, with an overall 9th position! Good news for me as this ensures my scholarship (which needed just a pass, anyway). Some of my close friends had to re-appear in a few subjects, the majority was in Machine Drawing! There were a fewer number in Mathematics, but the numbers in other subjects were hardly anyone! Here, I would like you to remember my first impression of Mr C R C Rao!

I collected my railway pass, and took a three day-long journey to my hometown to spend the remaining summer holidays. As it was a ticket purchased on the date of journey, getting any reservation was out of question. As expected, my train arrived at Howrah after the last train to Madras had already left, I decided to enjoy the hospitality of my friend Mr Rajagopal, who was with me in the train from Dhanbad. I boarded the train on the next day for Madras, and thereafter to Cochin Harbour Terminus.

After reaching my hometown, the first thing was to try booking for a return reservation, Those days, getting a reservation was not all that simple. Booking at the railway counter was only for the stations not covered by that train, and they used to send a telegram to the station where the next train originates and so on. Of course, I was not sure I would get onward reservations, even though the journey was a month away. Actually I don’t remember whether or not my reservations for the return journey was confirmed!

The vacation period at home was without much event. My family was happy to find me well, I realised that they also underwent a traumatic time while I was getting ragged in ISM!. But all that was history by then. First time, I realized that the problems that we face are only for a while, and after that, when we look back, we feel happy, and how easy life can become!

I promptly returned for the next academic session. My new room was on the top floor of Old Hostel, a place known as Kailash. In this floor, there were many who were senior to me, like Mr U K Acharya, Mr D P Mukherjee, to name a few. I got some extra money, for standing first in the class for two of the subjects, which was to be spent for the purchase of books. As I had already inherited some text books from my seniors, I could spend the money in buying note books and stationery. The subjects for the Second Year of ISM, again common for all ISM students, were Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Machine Drawing, Geology, Mining, English, Building Materials & Surveying, Practical Training, & Physical Training & Conduct. Out of this, Practical Training was already completed, and I had scored 85% (one month’s Training in Sawang Colliery. Mr Krishnan must have helped me, perhaps!).

In early winter months, the Class-II and Class-I Mine Managers’ examinations were being held every year, with Dhanbad as the venue. A large number of graduate engineers from Mining, from all Engineering colleges, such as ISM, BHU, arrive in Dhanbad. They used to stay in student hostels. Generally they develop good relations with the students who accommodated them, and in return, helped them while the students are on summer training. While students from other ranches have only one month’s training in mining as compulsory, Mining Students undertake more, sometimes as much as two months each summer holidays.

Among the teachers, I vividly remember the style of teaching by Mr Guha, Mr M L Choudhury, and Dr Rawat of Chemistry, Mr Nag and Mr Kar of Mathematics, Mr Mitra and Mr Rangachary in Physics, Mr Jha of English, Mr Ansari, (building materials) and Mr A C Gupta (surveying). Occasionally we used to do mass-cuts in different classes, especially that of Mr Gupta, who would teach even if he has one student in his class. I once happened to be his lone victim, while he was to teach us Dumpy Level. Mr C R C Rao continued with Machine Drawing, but curiously no mass cut in his class. Quiz Tests were yet another feature in ISM, although some teachers gave us a couple of days warning before holding such tests. And the Viva-Voce after Laboratory sessions, meant perhaps to instill confidence in us, was also there almost continuously.

Mr Nag was probably a good teacher, but somehow I was quite unable to follow the logic, and wished someone explained the logic better. Mr Kar was definitely better, and I still remember the solution to Cubic equations by the famous Cardan’s solution. Mr M L Choudhury was a great teacher, always in his Dhoti, unlike all other professors and Lecturers, and used to explain things from first principles. I initially thought that the subject he was teaching was Physical Chemistry, but it would be more appropriate to call it Chemical Physics, I felt. Especially the Langevin’s theory and all that…

Again, during the longer weekends, and short holidays, I used to go to Ranchi, rather than staying in ISM. I think it was in my second year that I started to feel some kind of attraction to Baby. I had no idea to know if she felt anything like that towards me.

I also made a trip to Rourkela, where my uncle used to live, along with a friend, as both were bachelors. I remember I reached their place late in the night, probably after 0100 AM, woke them up and stayed there for a week. That is when I had seen a large steel plant for the first time. What we learnt in Mining about Steelmaking in theory, got a good practical support. I still remember the Blast Furnaces, Linz-Donawitz Converters, etc., that I saw in Rourkela.

I continued with South Indian mess. Food was generally good (of course, it is also true that I really do not care about the quality of food). We also had two students for M Sc. App Geology, third year, again from Andhra University, Mr Reddy and Mr Raghupathi Rao that year. Mr U K Acharya was also in Third year. Mr Simha and Ramana Rao were a year senior to them. Mr Chetty of CMRS, and these four, would always talk in Telugu, and (probably) none else would follow, I thought. That year, in the final year we had only Mr Natarajan Mony, as others like Suresh Ramanathan, Hassan, Moorthy and Dhaveji had passed out. There was no new entrant in First year into our mess.

The academic session 1967-68 ended very soon with our examinations, and I was really not very worried about the results this time. The entire batch of students of Petroleum Engineering Discipline had to undergo a one-month long training at the Research & Training Institute (or R&T I) those days, which later became Keshav Dev Malaviya Institute of Petroleum Exploration or KDMIPE), ONGC, Dehradun. ISM had arranged a building for us to stay, for food, we went to one of the two restaurants, Barkat Ram’s near the Railway Station, or Punjabi Restaurant near Ghanta Ghar. Each of us also had hired a bicycle to go to R&T I. I had learnt to ride a bicycle while I was student of Class 10 in Kanjiramattom, which suddenly became useful, but I was totally out of practice at that time. Apart from falling down a couple of times initially, there was no major damage to the bicycle or me.

We had a classmate, Mr Ravi Khanna, who had a camera those days, and took a number of photos of our training period. I have seen some of them later on, I think he would still be having some with him!

The return to Dhanbad was important, as I had to collect my Railway pass and proceed for home after that. Most others in our train, were heading for Calcutta, while some to Bihar. Those from Delhi went to Delhi and perhaps would get back to Dhanbad with the same Railway pass. My friend Mahajan didn’t need any Railway pass, being son of a Railway employee!

I think I took a detour for few days to Ranchi, after reaching Dhanbad, before going to Kerala. After returning to Dhanbad, I spent a few more days, before boarding the train to Calcutta and then to Madras, and thereafter to my hometown in Kerala. The holidays in Kerala was spent mostly visiting relatives.

After the holidays, I returned to ISM quite on schedule, to find that I was placed second rank among all. I got a few first positions for which there would be some cash. Third year classes included Heat Engines & Thermodynamics, Hydraulics, Strength of Materials, Building Materials, Surveying, Fuel Technology, Electrical Engineering, and Geophysics, as new subjects. I still remember the explanations given by Prof Pai in different kinds of Electric Motors and Generators. Prof N Srinivasan, fondly known as Chacha used to teach us Heat Engines and Thermodynamics, and the joke was that even if a few pages of his lecture notes were removed he wouldn’t notice, and continue teaching! And then there was Naganathan, Ramasubban and many others in engineering.

We also had to study German as an additional language. Why, nobody knew for sure. There was a previous teacher Prof. Deshpande, who was also the Head of Department, who used to teach German, and during the summer holidays, Mr D P Jha one of our English teachers took a diploma in German somehow, and suddenly became the HOD of the language department. Later I realized how wrong was his German pronunciation, as he was teaching it in the Bihari accent! There was a better teacher of English, Mr Basu, who continued as lecturer, as he didn’t get a German diploma! It was quite strange why ISM should have insisted a diploma in German to become head of department of Languages.

The session in third year was not with any significant changes. I think it was in January or February we had that year’s Basant Function, which was the Annual Convocation. For some reason, I think there was no Basant the previous year, and that year’s function was much larger, and lot more people were attending. A very colourful event, though I don’t remember who all had attended. I knew that the chairman of ISM governing council, Director and all Heads of Departments were on the stage, along with the Chief Guest.

Our batch, had also the unique distinction of being the last in Annual sports festival, all through the five years. Ours was not a sportsmen batch, I think. Certainly not because of my contribution, I could console myself.

At the end of the year, we had our Vacation Training in Ahmedabad and Ankleshwar oil fields. The batch of 20 was split into 10 each. First time I was seeing an oilfield in Ankleshwar. In the previous year we had some exposure to a Drilling rig, while at Dehra Dun, and we saw several smaller (work-over) rigs. Also, the operations in producing wells, field installations such as Gathering Cners, tank farm, water injection stations, all. We stayed in one of the vacant houses in ONGC Colony, which was left by the previous ONGC Employee on transfer, and was not yet allotted to the new person. After a month, we went to Ahmedabad, where our stay was arranged in “Mavlankar Hall” Close to Ellisbridge. We had to go out to one of the nearby restaurants for food. We were being picked up by staff bus to Sabarmati Office, from where we were being sent to different sites. I felt the training we had received in Ankleshwar was definitely better.

After the two month’s assignment, I returned to Dhanbad, and after a few days, went to Kerala for a 15 days of holidays before our next session began.

I had reasons to be happy. I stood first in the previous years examinations, jointly with Mr Syal. My close friend Lal Chand Ram stood Second. Again some money from ISM for books for the year. And we didn’t get many books from our senior batches, (except some of their notes, that later I found was not much of use any way) In the classes, we had several new subjects. No more Engineering, except the Core Petroleum Engineering subjects (Properties of Petroleum fluids, Drilling technology, Production Engineering, etc), and Petroleum Geology by Mr K S V Ram, Physical Chemistry by Mr Guha & Dr N S Rawat, Advanced Mathematics by Mr Nag. I found Mathematics by Mr Nag was really tough, as most of the times, he himself couldn’t explain much. Luckily I had a book from one of my senior (Advanced Mathematics by Louis L Pipes), which made things slightly easy, but I always had difficulty with some of the basic concepts of what I learnt that year, even though I used to get good marks in examinations. Dr Rawat and Mr Guha were great teachers. We had Mr Mony, who had joined ISM that year, and found his teaching really good.

There was also Prof. S Srini-Vasan (popularly known as Boss, as he was the HOD) and Prof. N V R Subrahmaniam (better known as Kaddu), were the two full Professors, Mr BP Pandey, and Mr G S Mony, both Asst. Professors. Between them, they used to teach all subjects in the Department. But, Mr Pandey and Mr Mony were the best among all of them. There was also a pool officer who used to help us with the practical sessions.

We had just two additions to the South Indian mess, Mr Ravindran, who joined Petroleum Engineering and Mr Suchindan, who joined third year Geology, when I was in my pre-final year, and the very next year Mr Baker Zaheer. However, the number of people leaving the mess was much large, and in my final year we decided to merge the mess with Bombay mess. Thereafter Mr Rishi used to take care of me for food. I didn’t miss any particular food, as they also used to have Dosa for Sunday breakfast. In the subsequent year or so, the South Indian Mess was restarted as there were more people.

As usual, I had gone to Rourkela for my Durga Puja Holidays, and perhaps for any short holidays when there is no chance of a journey to Kerala.

At the end of fourth year, we had our summer training in Assam, a month each in Assam Oil Company, Digboi, and Oil India Limited, Duliajan. In OIL, we had met Dr KVVSN Murthy (who used to be ISM as Assistant Professor, when we joined ISM).

At the end of the training period in Assam, when we returned to Dhanbad, the news of our Fourth year exams were available. I had the first position, Lal Chand Ram second, and Syal, third. As our sessions were to begin fairly quickly in about two weeks, I didnt go to Kerala, but went over to Rourkela.

All the years, my visits to the Library, after dinner, to read some books (a few I could borrow as well) actually turned out very useful. Especially when I was taking the IAS exams, where I could take Ancient Indian History, Physics and Chemistry and three optional subjects. I wasn’t consulting any of my subjects during these visits, most part of the year. Of course, that was not really the case when exams were approaching. I used to study in my Hostel room the subjects which were taught that day, quite meticulously, and even used to make a note of the day’s work in class or practicals.

The final year was less eventful. And the last exam results were out when I was holidaying in Kerala after exams. I was preparing that time for the IAS that year, written exam at Thiruvananthapuram. I was called for my interview for appointment to ONGC, was selected and had the appointment order when I was asked to appear for the interview for IPS and Allied Svcs selection. Of course I didn’t get selected, and proceed to join my job with ONGC at Mehsana. I had applied for higher studies in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISC), while I was in my final year for ME programme. I was called for interview, but as there was a clash between some of my exams or travel for interview in Dehradun, I couldn’t make it. I just preserved this letter, I have no answer why I kept that!. Of course, there was a desire to pursue higher studies, though I had not told anyone at that time.

That ends my scholastic life at ISM.

My First Few Months at Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad – “विकल्प”

In 1966, Dhanbad was in Bihar. After the split of Bihar, Dhanbad, along with almost all Mineral rich districts, is in Jharkhand. The capital is Ranchi, which has now far better connectivity with Dhanbad.

Again, it was the first time I had taken a long train journey. Previously, the farthest journey I had performed was to Trivandrum, Kerala’s capital for the ISM entrance exams. But Dhanbad was far, and it involved two changes of trains, one at Madras (the name of Chennai those days) and Howrah. In Howrah, I had boarded the wrong train at Howrah, and reached Chittaranjan instead of Dhanbad. Some nice fellow passengers put me on a bus from there, and the nice bus driver helped me get down at the gate of ISM. There was a restaurant (Mony Shop) there, around 0800 PM, I was both very thirsty and hungry and decided to have some food. Then I realized that Mr Mony was from Kerala, and I was super thrilled to hear a word of Malayalam.

Luck again for me, at that time, one of the teaching faculty member (probably a lecturer, I don’t exactly remember), Mr Satheesan, had come to Many shop for some Masala Dosa with his family. Mr Mony introduced me to him, and he was extremely pleased to take me to his home for spending the night. the next day, I reported to ISM office to join.

During the long train journey, in unreserved third class coach (Those days we used to have a Second Class as well), at times there were huge rush, someone had stepped on my feet, and that resulted in a small wound, which was neglected till then. First thing Mr Satheesan did the next day after my arrival was to take me to the ISM Doctor, Lt Colonel (Dr.) Mitra, (everyone used to call him by his pseudonym Dr Ghoda!). He examined me, prescribed some antibiotic cream for the wound on my foot, and gave me a medical fitness certificate, which would enable me to join ISM.

There were many new discoveries in the first year. First about my language proficiency. Though I could talk in English and Hindi, but I soon realized that my textbook Hindi in schools isn’t really enough for me to talk to the Mess Boys and all that, although I could converse with my seniors.

It was at this juncture that a few of my seniors came to my rescue. One of my senior, Mr Ganesh Chandra Thakur, who became one of my close friends, taught me basic food stuff, like “Tarkari, Daal, Bhat, Roti”, and sentences like “Tarkari lao”. (Of course I knew constructions like “abcd lao”, which means that please bring me abcd). He also told me that ISM has some ragging till 15 August, the independence day, till which I was supposed to wear shoes, full-sleeved shirt always, and salute all seniors.

Incidentally, the wound helped me a lot, as all my seniors were very sympathetic to me, on account of my foot injury, and even asked my class mate Mr. Susanta Lahiri to get me some essentials like toiletries from the nearby market, which he did happily, and I am thankful even now. I was also excused from being ragged by several of my seniors, like G C Thakur, B K Singh, Panigrahi (I remember them very clearly). In ISM I met the Office head clerk, Mr Das Babu, I think he allotted a Lower Barracks room (If I remember correctly, Room 213), which was also allotted together to Mr Udayan Sarkar (my Room mate).

Ragging was quite common those days for the first year students. Apparently, many had difficulty, as my Hindi was really bad, and I was not very fluent in English. But these difficulties did not matter so much for my friendship with Yogendra Upadhyay, Pradeep Sharma, Surenderjit Sibal, Bhal Chand Pandey, Paramveer Singh Grewal, Lal Chand Ram, Tapas Kumar Das, Tapan Mandal, Jayanta Kumar Pal, Suniti Kumar Mazumdar, Subrata Chowdhury, Sikendra Kishore De, Dipankar Sarkar, Partha Sarathi Banerjee, to name just a few. I ate in one of the messes in Upper Barracks for about two weeks, and after that I was taken by some seniors (Suresh Ramanathan, Natarajan Moni, Murthy, Hassan Zaidi & C S Dhaveji) who introduced me to the South Indian Mess. After a couple of weeks Mr Vishweshwaran Rajagopal had joined our batch (He was in my class). He and I constituted the total intake from south of the Vindhyans (Although he used to live in Calcutta where his father was employed in Railways). In the South Indian mess, there was also Udipi Keshava Acharya (two years my senior). We also had a few non-student members of mess, Mr Kejriwal and one more, who used to Post-Graduate Trainees from Mining, and Mr Shetty and Mr Balasundaram from the nearby Central Mining Research Station (CMRS). After a few more days, two more students joined in the 3rd year Applied Geology, Mr Simha and Mr Ramana Rao (who already had a degree in Geology from Andhra University). I still remember Bhola, the cook and his assistant Matha, who used to make nice food.

Mr Rajagopal was admitted in the Geology Branch, though he wanted Mining. He told me that some of his relatives are holding responsible positions in Mining Industry, and had advised him to join Mining. Till that time, I was not even aware that change of branch was possible. So, we two together set out for this purpose. We were told that after we make our choice, it will be permanent, and we cannot change again. I too decided to change my branch to Petroleum, by some instinct as there were too few in this branch, as I had nobody to guide me. It could also be due to some words with U K Acharya, as all the rest in South Indian Mess were of Mining Engineering Branch. Perhaps all those who were selected didn’t join, as they could have had selection to other institutions like IIT, I am not sure.

We had subjects like Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Machine Drawing, Workshop Practice English, Geology, Mining and Physical Education, which were all common for all branches. Machine drawing, Geology and Mining were new subjects for me. We used to have Practical Lab work in Chemistry and Physics, and tutorial sessions in Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry. Prof. C R C Rao, who taught us machine drawing was always an enigma; if he stared at your work with a grim face, it meant everything was fine, and smiled at you after seeing your work, it meant the drawing had an error!

The only communication with my home was through post, which took about a week on either direction. In these days of mobile phones, it would be difficult for younger people to know the anguish and anxiety that people on either side.

Ragging was to continue till August 15, that was the rule in ISM. My vocabulary was improving fast, and so the self confidence. I got a letter from home saying that my cousin lives in Hatiya, near Ranchi in Heavy Engineering Corporation. I had the address with me, but had absolutely no idea how long the road journey would take, as there was no Google maps. I couldn’t possibly have got information from my seniors for fear of more ragging, escaping from which during the weekend was most desirable, so on a Friday evening I took a bus, near Dhanbad Railway Station, the conductor assured me that it goes to Ranchi, from there I thought I could take a cycle-Rickshaw to HEC in Hatiya. Eventually the bus stopped in Ramgarh (and not Ranchi, to my utter surprise!), and driver asked me to take one of the share taxis to Ranchi. I did so, and reached Ranch taxi stand quite late in the evening. They I took a Cycle-Rickshaw to HEC.

In the HEC colony, by the time I reached, I found many people sleeping on wayside in Hatiya, and finally met one person who said there is a Madrasi, matching the descriptions I gave, and he came with me in the Rickshaw. He was right, and my journey ended. He had no idea that I was coming, but I had a delayed dinner very soon! Spending Saturday and Sunday with him, I left for Dhanbad on Sunday evening. The return journey was by a State Transport Bus, but the route was different, not touching Ramgarh. I reached the upper barracks around 0800 PM. Quickly I went to the mess to have my dinner and returned to bed.

After a few more weeks, the list of ISM Scholarship winners were announced. (incidentally it was for those among the candidates who joined ISM, by merit). Among those who joined ISM that year, Mr Ambrish Kumar Gupta stood first, and Mr Ashok Kumar Syal, second. I came to know that I stood 9th in merit, and was eligible for ISM scholarship, which included free studentship and Rs 90/- per month. The cost of living was not much, as Room Rent in ISM hostels was Rs 15/- and with an additional Rs 50 from my father I can continue my education there, including some pocket expenses. Some of my friends turned down ISM Scholarship as their state government scholarship was a bit higher. I didn’t have to worry about that choice, as Kerala did not offer any scholarships to study in ISM! the only condition was that I should not fail in any exam of ISM. I felt much relieved.

Meanwhile my mother’s eldest brother, had asked his youngest brother (my uncle, who was in Rourkela Steel plant) to help me with money after visiting me. One fine day, he landed in Dhanbad and reached ISM, in midweek . He told me that one of my maternal grand-uncles was in Ranchi, and we would go there the next morning. Another way to escape ragging for the rest of that week and the following week-end, I thought. However, I didn’t know that this visit was to pave way for some very important future developments in my life, a decade later.

We went to Ranchi next morning, and by noon we were at the HSL colony in Doranda, Ranchi, where my uncle was living those days. I had met this uncle on one previous occasion, when I was in my primary schools. My auntie knew me as “Bharathi’s son” as my mother and she used to go to school together and were of same age. Their son, Rajan, was a year or so younger than me, and was at St. Xavier’s School, Ranchi in his Senior Cambridge, and daughter, Indu, affectionately called Baby by almost everyone, in Loreto Convent School, Ranchi. I told them about my previous trip to Ranchi, meeting my cousin and all that. Later on one of my trips, this cousin and family had come to visit my uncle in HSL. Besides, I met a few of my uncle’s friends as well as their children. I used to visit Ranchi during all ISM holidays, except the long annual break.

In the last phase of ragging, two of us, Tapas Kumar Das and I, were caught one day, and asked to copy two bundles of drawings, by tracing with a glass table and lamp. And after giving us the job, the senior Mr G C Thakur locked the room and left on weekend, after asking one of his friends to let us go, after we finished the work. I did my bundle in a few hours and called Mr Thakur’s friend, who took the original and copies that I made, and let me go, leaving Mr Das alone in the room. He did a bit of mischief and put the entire paper and some clothes all over the table with the lamp below, called again the neighbour, told him the work is done, helped him to turn off the light and fan. Mr Thakur’s friend didn’t check, but in the night, there was a small fire, in which most of the copying work went in smoke. Mr Das left for his home in Midnapur, and returned to Dhanbad only after August 15. We all came to know this story from Mr Das after he came back, and he became a hero for all of us. I didn’t ask Mr Thakur (who retired as Vice-President of Chevron) about what was the loss he had, even in 2015, when we met in Hong Kong!

In first week of August, while it was raining heavily one night, all of those who were asleep in the Barracks were rounded up by a group of seniors, and brought to one of the quadrangles of Old Hostel. There was an inch of water in the quadrangle, lights were turned off. We were all made to strip completely, and made to swim in the inch-deep water from one end to other. Suddenly one from (probably the final year) came and asked all of us to get dressed, and asked to leave. We did not have any idea who was that, but the Mass Ragging ended that way.

During the days when I was ragged severely, I used to feel depressed, but there was no alternative as the Admission in Kerala was still in progress, and there were several lists, coming one after the other. But it was only in the end of the ragging period, that I was told that there is a seat available in Civil Engineering in one of the Engineering Colleges in Kerala (I am not sure, but it was either REC or TKM). As the mass ragging was over, the fear of ragging was over, though we were waiting for the formal end of Aug 15. I felt I was much better in ISM, especially since I had some financial assistance, which was very remote chance in Kerala. So I decided to stick along.

After this, I did not have to make any choice till the end of the academic life in Dhanbad.

My journey to Indian School of Mines – “इदम् न मम”

At School:

I come from a rural background, with father teaching in a school about 7 km from home. The St Ignatius High School, where I studied in Malayalam Medium, was very near, only 3km from home. There was a village library and reading room (Amballoor Grameena Vayanasala), where I used to go every evening, to read some newspapers and borrow books for reading, mostly in Malayalam. I used to read, books on fiction (including science fiction), novels, poetry, history, and scientific publications. I remember having read a translation of Les Misérables of Victor Hugo, and some Russian Classics, those days.

Maharaja’s College:

In 1964, I appeared for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Exam, and passed with a First Class. I got admission to the First Group of the 2-year Pre-Degree Course (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Social Studies, English & Hindi), in the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. The medium of instruction was English and for a whole year kept me down with a complex, as among my class-mates some 50% had come from English medium schools.

My father decided to get my accommodation in a hostel, which made me quite independent at that age. I had a large number of friends from almost all over Kerala, but unfortunately, lost touch with most of them as time passed. My visit to the village reading room & library had changed to weekly routine. The hostel used to have a large number of daily newspapers, and college library was good. Unfortunately, we were the junior-most in the big college and for that reason, I didn’t feel very comfortable to go there. Secondly, most of the senior students, who used to frequent Library, were very fluent in English, which made me nervous with inferiority complex.

By the second year in college, I had several senior students in B. Sc. And M. Sc. levels, some of them used to go to Library. While each department had its own library for the post graduate students, the Undergraduate level they used to go to the general library, which used to be crowded, and noisy. As a result, I decided not to go there.

Preparations for future

Towards the end of that academic year, I applied for the National Science Talent Search Examination, just before the university examination. Also, I had to apply for the selection to one of the Engineering Colleges, and separately for the Regional Engineering College, Calicut. However, I learnt that the admission to IITs was through entrance test. I was quite busy in January-Feb with these applications. I was mentally prepared to go to IIT Madras, or Bombay, but not farther ones like Delhi, Kanpur of Kharagpur.

Around the end of this period of applications, a friend asked me if I was willing to try for admission at the Indian School of Mines in the far away state of Bihar. One of his relatives in Kolkata somehow found out that the institution is very reputed and a degree from there was a sure way to a secure job. His family was not keen as the place was very far. I felt that might not be a bad idea, as, even the IIT was far away. I took the application form (and paid him Rs 10/- the cost of that form!) and started filling up. It turned out that the IIT Entrance test was in Trissur, and ISM Entrance test in Trivandrum, a week later. Luckily the admission to Kerala’s Engineering Colleges did not require separate tests.

In the university examination, as we were of the first batch of Pre-Degree, there was no question papers of previous exams, and all we had were the questions in our text books to study. The college conducted a model examination sometime in March, and that was our only guide. None of my friends, who were taking the entrance examinations like me, knew anything about centres which prepare students for these exams (Coaching Classes)

The exams went on well, and after that I was also busy with a project report for the National Science Talent Search Examination, which was also in Ernakulam. I was helped significantly by Mr Kamath, a lecturer in the Chemistry Department. He, as well as some of my friends doing post-graduation in Chemistry and Physics helped me to correct my project. After this was the Entrance tests for IIT and a week later for ISM.

I realized that two subjects, Hindi and Social Studies, which in our college, we all had neglected, would affect the rank list. I thought I would be very lucky to just scrape through these papers, and if so, a fairly high first class was sure (though it was not probably enough for securing admission to Kerala Engineering Colleges).

The entrance test for IIT was tough, and I was not able to answer even half of the questions in Mathematics (The format was just 4 subjects English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, in two days). The IIT entrance test that I took the previous week really helped me in my ISM Entrance, as when I saw the question papers, I didn’t have any great surprises. Also my friends told me that since the same questions are given to all students across India, it does not matter how well I do a paper, but more important is how others did it! In a way, for the first time I realized that when you get a First Class, it is your effort, but a rank is given to you by your peers!

The results of the Pre Degree, Science Talent Search Exam, Entrance Tests for IIT and ISM all came, around May-June period. There was nothing surprising, as I had a First Class in Pre Degree with a bare pass in Social Studies, Hindi and English (where I thought I should have got more marks, though). The interview I had for the Science Talent Search Examinations was held at IISc Bangalore, and I was told that the scholarship was not open for those who opt for Engineering or Medicine, so I had to excuse and not appear for the interview! My name was not there in IIT Entrance tests, but ISM had called me for admission.

Think about it, I was planning for admission to one of the Engineering Colleges in Kerala, but it was only pure destiny that I was selected in ISM, an institution I had not even heard about at that time. I had very few people around me who had heard about Dhanbad. One of them told me that the summer is scorching hot, but when it rains there is a flood, from his experience during the time of British, when he had served in the Army. One of my relatives told me that the place appeared to be one of the rare places of learning, and so I would not have any issue of finding a job in future. I accepted the offer.

Those days there was a train from Ernakulam/Kochi to Madras (Chennai now), from where I had to change train and go to Calcutta (Kolkata now), and board another train to my ticketed destination Dhanbad. I proceeded without reservations! I had met the oldest member of our matrilineal family, my grandmother’s uncle, who blessed me profusely, and gave me Five Rupees, saying that since I am not doing any work in the train, that money would be enough for one meal a day for a three day journey.

The train that left Cochin Harbour Terminus (the starting station, where I could find a seat) in the evening arrived in Madras Central Station next morning, from where my next train was in the evening. My mother’s uncle had sent his son to the Madras Central Station and picked me up, as he knew fully well that I was so unfamiliar outside Kerala. He dropped me off at the railway station in the evening, well in advance, so that I could get a seat in one of the several unreserved coaches. The train seemed to have taken over 40 hours and reached Calcutta in the afternoon. There I tried to find out which is the train going to Dhanbad, perhaps it was too tough for me to communicate with people. The railway people advised me to take “Toofan Express” and something more that I could not follow. I did take that train, but when the ticket examiner came, the train had just left Asansol, where I was supposed to change train (Obviously I did not know that!) He advised me to get down at the next stop Chittaranjan and then travel with a new ticket. I thus got down at Chittaranjan, and one of the co-passengers took me to a bus near the station, instructed the conductor to drop me near ISM Dhanbad. In the hurry, I even forgot to thank that good Samaritan. The bus conductor took the exact fare, and reassured me that the bus actually went near Indian School of Mines (called “Mining College”), and would remind me to get down. Later, after a couple of hours, he asked me to get down, right in front of Mani’s café, outside the main gate of ISM!

I was hungry, and tired, it was around 8:00 PM, and decided to go to the small roadside restaurant; while having something to eat, I asked the owner of the place if I could stay somewhere for the night. Mr Mani told me in Malayalam that I can directly go to ISM, but then decided to introduce me to one of the lecturers of ISM, Mr Satheeshan, who had come to have Dosa with family. He told me that as I was very tired, I could stay in his quarters that night, and take me to ISM for admission next morning. I simply agreed for all that.

As expected, I joined ISM the very next day.

Now you would have realized what exactly was my contribution to my getting educated at ISM! If I had studied a little better and got a decent mark in the three subjects (English, Hindi and Social Studies), probably I would have got selected in one of the Engineering Colleges in Kerala. Else, probably I would have gone to IIT, but neither of these possibilities happened. Thus, getting myself to ISM was something happened and I was simply taken there by some unknown power, which was not me. That is why I said “इदम् न मम” (it is not mine). Later at many occasions in my life, I felt this statement is so profoundly true.