“We were not Poor; We didn’t have Money”. These are the words of an Indian American, having very humble beginnings in India but now a pretty rich businessman in USA.
‘Poverty is a curse’. That is so often said in the West. In the East, not having ‘samskara’ is said to be the curse.
What is Samskara?
“Samskara is a Sanskrit term, derived from two roots; sam meaning ‘well planned’ or ‘well thought out’, and kara meaning ‘the action under-taken.’ According to various schools of Indian philosophy, samskaras are the subtle mental impressions left by all thoughts, intentions and actions that an individual has ever experienced. Often likened to grooves in the mind, they can be considered as psychological or emotional imprints that contribute to the formation of behavioral patterns.” (Yogapedia)
Could you guess what is the head picture about?
It may be difficult as there are no celebrities in that. Those who have insights of Indian culture may be able to guess. But for the benefit of all, this is the picture of ‘Bhai Dooj’ being celebrated in a slum in India.
Sister is applying ‘Tilak’ to her Brother. Mother has raised her hand to give her blessings. The Sister’s straight dripping hair show that she is doing this soon after bath. The boy is in his best attire after bath. Indeed, in Hindu tradition, you do every religious ritual after washing and cleaning yourself.
What is Bhai Dooj?
It is celebrated on the second day after Diwali. Diwali is the day when (Prabhu Shri) Ram Chandra son of King Dhasharatha of Ayodhya returned after spending 14 years in the forests and killing many rakshasas (evil-doers) including Ravana. Bhai Dooj is the day Ram Chandra was throned as the King of the Ayodhya. The throning of a king, in vernacular, is called, ‘Raj Tilak’. Since then in India, among Hindus, every sister applies ‘Tilak’ to her Brother, signifying, every brother is a Ram Chandra to her Sister. He should live like Ram.
Diwali is well known all over the world as the Festival of Lights. It signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, truth over falsehood. Here is the well-known visual of Diwali.
It is far better to light a lamp than cursing the darkness.
Dhanteras, Annkoot, Goverdhan Puja
Let me take this opportunity to also briefly mention three other festivals that are celebrated around Diwali and Bhai Dooj. Of course, India is known as the land of festivals. A famous saying goes, ‘Ek Var, nau Tyohaar’, meaning in India each day has nine (many) festivals.
This may bring a question: Why so many festivals? Were Indians just unemployed? They had nothing else to do. The truth is it was the most prosperous land before Muslims and the British occupied and exploited it. A recent estimate says that the British alone sucked up wealth from India equivalent to 45 Trillion dollars. The very fact that India never went to occupy anyone’s lands and Muslims and British went to occupy India, is the evidence that India was prosperous, definitely, compared to their lands.
India is still in 2020 the most prosperous in terms of Samskaras, human values and institution of family, not GDP. BTW: GDP is primarily ‘credit-driven’ consumption. The two top economies of the World, USA and China, as of 2019, had Domestic Credit/ GDP 112.6% and 117.7%, respectively. India’s Domestic Credit/ GDP in 2019 was 20.3%. This is based on the CIA World Fact Book, 2019.
Dhanteras is Dhanwantri Tryodashi. Tryodashi means 13th day. (Diwali is Chaturdashi. Chaturdashi is the 14th day. These days are as per the lunar calendar). Dhanwantri is the name of the topmost medical doctor of his time. Dhantersa and Diwali are the days from which the season will change. The Winter will set in. Celebrate Dhanteras to be reminded that you got to take of your health in the new season, beginning from those days.
Annkoot is the day when you cook the previous evening to serve next morning. In the Winter, it is possible to have wholesome food to eat even if cooked the previous evening. Test and taste. That is what Annkoot is all about. Did you see the ingenious way to test and taste in the absence of refrigeration? Those of us who are used to eating food refrigerated weeks and months after preparation may see no relevance of Annkoot. But there is still a fair chunk of 7.8 billion population, that may benefit from Annkoot concept. The same day Goverdhan Puja is also celebrated. That is the day, as per legend, that lord Krishna had held up the whole mountain to provide shelter to his community from incessant rain.
He had also given a very unconventional message of his time. Worship this hill that saves you from the incessant rain, more than ‘Indra’, the God of Rain. Value manifest as much as unmanifest realities of life.
Happy New Season!