Thursday, 31 December 2015

Lord Adinathji - First Jain Tirathankar


"He was the first king of this age and also the first ascetic. Who also was the first ford-maker (Tirthankar), my salutations to hat Rishabh Swami." -Acharya Hem Chandra
According to the Jain measurement of cosmic time one cycle of time has two divisions. These two divisions, ascending time-cycle there is a gradual improvement in physical and mental conditions, including physical strength, health, happiness and simplicity, of beings as well as climatic and life supporting conditions. During the descending time-cycle there is a gradual deterioration in these conditions.
The Age of the Twins
During the first three Aras of the current descending cycle man was completely dependent on nature for all his needs. The wish-fulfilling trees provided all that he needed. Man was simple, peaceful and contented in attitude. The environment was absolutely unpolluted. Water was tasteful, cold, and sweet. Even the sand was sweet as sugar. The air was healthy and exhilarating. The grains and fruits were nutritious and filing. A simple meal of little quantity of fruit and water lasted for days. Filled stomach and satisfied desires acted as antidote to irritation and reduced disputes and other sinful activities. The whole animal kingdom lived in harmony with the nature.
With the passage of time gradual changes occurred and around the end of the third Ara the yield from the Kalpa-vrikshas reduced. The alround deterioration in conditions spelled the beginning of quarrels and disputes. To guard against these disputes and to live in peace and harmony, man formed groups and the Kulkar system was evolved. A number of people collected to form a ‘Kula’ (family) and the head of the group was called ‘Kulkar’. It was the duty of the ‘Kulkar’ to remove discord and establish order. Nabhiraja was the seventh and the last in the line of Kulkars. His wife was Marudeva. This epoch of Kulkar system was known as the epoch of twins (Yugalia). A human couple used to give birth to a twin- one male and one female. This twin would become husband and wife on reaching adulthood. The twins used to lead a happy and contented life and died a natural death together.
To consume what was available was the way of life. As such this period was also known as Bhog-Bhumi-Kaal or the era of free consumption. Upto the time of Kulkar Nabhiraja man lived in this land of abundance.
Birth of Rishabhdev
It was during the last part of the third Ara of the current descending cycle of time that the great and pious soul that was to become Rishabhdev descended into the womb of Marudeva on the fourth day of the dark half of the month of Ashadh during the night.
In the ancient Jain scriptures it is mentioned that during many previous births, the soul that was to be Rishabhdev had done prolonged spiritual practices. As a result of high degree of purity of thoughts and attitude as well as penance, meditation, charity and benevolent deeds it had earned highly pious Karmas.
In his incarnation as Dhanna, the caravan leader, he had offered alms and services to ascetics and others. As doctor Jivanand he had taken ample care of ailing masses as well as ascetics. As king Vajranabh he had supported poor and desolate masses. After many years of public services to ascetics and others. As doctor Jivanand he had taken ample care of ailing masses as well as ascetics. As king Vajranabh he had supported poor and desolate masses. After many years of public service Vajranabh renounced the world and became an ascetic. As a result of unprecedented spiritual practices, including religious studies, penance, tolerance, and meditation, he earned Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. These pious deeds of earlier births resulted in his taking birth as Rishabhdev.
When this pious soul was conceived, mother Marudeva dreamt of fourteen auspicious things. The first thing she saw in her dream was that a beautiful and large white bull was entering her mouth. The other things she saw in her dream are as follows:
2. A giant elephant having four tusks,
3. A lion,
4. Goddess Laxmi seated on a lotus,
5. A garland of flowers,
6. The full moon resplendent in the sky,
7. The scintillating sun,
8. A fluttering flag,
9. A golden urn,
10. A pond full of lotus flowers,
11. A sea of milk,
12. A space vehicle of gods,
13. A heap of gems,
14. Smokeless fire,
Nabhiraja was an experienced and scholarly person. When he heard about these dreams from Maudeva, he said, "Devi! You will give birth to a highly endowed soul who will show the path of peace and happiness to this world"
Birth Celebrations
On the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Chaitra, around midnight, healthy Marudeva gave birth to twins. This pious birth influenced the surroundings. The sky became filled with a soothing glow, the wind became fragrant and the whole atmosphere became impregnated with unprecedented joy that was hard to describe.
From all around came the fifty six goddesses of directions. They circumambulated the Tirthankar’s mother and bowed before her. They also sang in praise of the child that was to become Tirthankar and then proceeded to perform post-birth cleaning rituals.
At that instant the king of gods of the Saudharm dimension, Saudharmendra Shakra, also came to know that the first Tirthankar has taken birth. He arrived with his large retinue of gods and, bowed before the mother,
"O great mother! I, Saudharmendra Shakra, bow before you and offer my salutations."
After the salutations the mother was put to sleep. Saudharmendra created five look alike bodies of himself. With one body he carefully lifted the baby in his hands. With the second body he took an umbrella in his hands and stationed the body behind the baby. With the third and fourth bodies he took whisks and stationed these bodies on both sides of the baby. With the fifth body he lifted his divine weapon, Vajra, and stationed himself ahead of the baby as a body guard. In this formation the king of gods airlifted the baby to Meru mountain. There, all gods, including their 64 kings with their consorts, ceremoniously performed the post-birth anointing rituals. This ceremony, popularly known as Janma-kalyanak, of a Tirthankar, is unparalleled in this world.
Giving the Name
Next morning Nabhiraja organized the birth celebrations. He invited his friends and relatives to a feast and announced, "As there is a sign of a bull on the thigh of the new born, and Marudeva first of all saw a bull in her great dreams, we name this child as ‘Rishabh Kumar’." His twin will be known as "Sumangala".
The Beginning of the Ikshvaku Clan
When Rishabh Kumar was one year old, Saudharmendra came to Kulkar Nabhi for formalizing the family name. He carried a sugar-cane in his hand Baby Rishabh was sitting in his fathers lap. When he saw the sugar-cane he eagerly extended his tiny hands to grab it. Saudharmendra gave the sugar-cane to the baby and seeing his affinity for sugar-cane (Ikshu) he formally named the family as Ikshvaku.
Rishabh Kumar was married to a girl named Sunanda whose twin died in an accident. This was the beginning of the marriage system. He was also married to his twin Sumangala in a ceremony that was arranged by the gods.
Prince Rishabh led a happy married life. In due course Sumangala gave birth to Bharat, Brahmi and ninety eight other sons. Sunanda gave birth to Bahubali and Sundari.
Evolution of Crafts and Trades
Prince Rishabh was a highly endowed, farsighted and industrious individual. He had a profound insight into the human psychology. Looking at the needs the times and society he evolved numerous arts, crafts and trades and taught them to people with right aptitude and physical and mental capacities. To some he taught farming and to others the trade of agricultural produce. He invented the alphabets, language, and the numbers along with the tools for writing. For self defense he evolved martial arts and taught these to individuals with strong physique. He also established systems of social security and penal codes. Pottery, architecture, music, dance, and many other arts and crafts that enriched the human society in the fields of knowledge, arts, entertainment, administration, etc. are said to be his contributions.
Then one day, on the request of the people’s representatives. Nabhiraja nominated Rishabh to become the first king of this age. He arranged for an elaborate coronation ceremony and handed over the reigns of the state to Rishabh Kumar. The ceremony was attended by all members of the family, large number of twins, and gods. The gods created a golden throne and anointed Rishabh with the water collected from various pilgrimage centres. They attired him in divine dress and ornaments and formally put the crown on his head. The twins humbly poured water on his feet from the cups made of lotus leaves. Rishabh became the first king of this era. The king of gods ordered Kuber, the god of wealth, to construct a suitable city. This beautiful city was named Vinita; later on it became popularly known as Ayodhya.
Preaching the Path of Renunciation
For many years Rishabhdev continued to rule his people and open new frontiers of knowledge. During the reign of his father the population was organized into random groups only. Rishabhdev reorganized them according to their virtues, activities and professions, and broadly divided the society into three groups. Trading community was known as Vaishya, martial community was known as Kshtriya and all other people indulging in a variety of services were known as Shudra. Till his times the Brahman group was not formed.
After a long span of time (6.3 million Purva) he started loosing interest in mundane things and activities, and drifting toward detachment. He felt that he should transfer all his responsibilities to his sons and proceed towards liberation through spiritual practices. He also desired to reach the state of omniscience and consequently show the path of disciplined life and spiritual practices. His concept was that indulgence in mundane things does give happiness. It gives only an illusion of happiness. True happiness is derived out of freedom from mundane indulgences.
Following the stream of his thoughts Rishabhdev divided the area of his rule between his one hundred sons. Bharat was given the state of Ayodhya and Bahubali that of Takshashila. Getting free of the responsibilities of the state, Rishabhdev decided to take Diksha (the formal initiation into the ascetic way). At that time the gods from the edge of the universe (the Lokantikdev) arrived and requested, "O savior of the human race! Your desire to show the path of renunciation to the mankind is admirable, kindly proceed soon to the task of propagating Dharma."
After one year of meritorious charity, Rishabhdev sat in the palanquin named Sudarshan and arrived in the Siddharth-vana garden. it was the eighth day of the dark half of the month of chaitra when, under an Ashok tree, Rishabhdev abandoned all his apparels and ornaments. He started pulling out his long strands of hair. After four fistfuls, when he was pulling out the fifth fistful of hair Indra said, "Sire! This strand of hair on the crown of your head and hanging down over you shoulders looks attractive. Kindly leave it as it is." Rishabhdev agreed. Due to this bunch of hair he got he popular name-Keshariya ji (one with hair). The king of gods collected the hair pulled out by Rishabhdev in a divine cloth and immersed them in the divine ocean of milk.
Following the example of Rishabhdev many of his subordinate rulers as well as common people got inspired to embrace the ascetic way of life. It is mentioned in scriptures that with Rishabhdev four thousand others also took Diksha.
The First Charity
After becoming an ascetic, Rishabhdev took the vow of total silence and started wandering accompanied by other ascetics. When, after his penance, he went out to beg for food, he did not get anything to eat. The common people of that age were ignorant about the practice of giving food as alms. They did not even appreciate the need to do so. Whenever Rishabhdev approached them, they offered him respect and valuable gifts as they would to a king. Rishabhdev would then proceed ahead without accepting anything. As time passed the accompanying ascetics conferred among themselves and decided to eat fruits and vegetables naturally available. They slowly drifted away from Rishabhdev and the true ascetic way of life. After one entire year of wandering from place to place and doing harsh spiritual practices without touching any food or water Rishabhdev decided to beg food once again. He came to Hastinapur town.
Bahubali’s son, Somprabh, was the king of Hastinapur. His son Shreyans Kumar saw a dream during night that Suvarnagiri, the golden mountain had turned black and he had brought it back its golden color by washing it with pitchers full of milk. He narrated his dream to his father and friends, but no one could interpret its significance.
Shreyans Kumar was sitting in the balcony of his palace and brooding over the dream he saw last night. All of a sudden he heard the noise caused by happy masses who had seen Rishabhdev entering the town. Thousands of citizens of Hastinapur rushed toward Rishabhdev with gifts. Rishabhdev did not even look at these things and continued his graceful walk in the direction of the palace.
When Shreyans saw approaching Rishabhdev, he rushed to welcome his great grandfather. After bowing down at the great ascetics feet when Shreyans looked at Rishabhdev’s face he could not shift his gaze. He went into a state of meditative thoughts and suddenly he acquired Jati-smaran Jnan, the knowledge that opens up memories of the past births. In his past birth Shreyans was the charioteer of king Vajranabh (the past incarnation of Rishabhdev). This knowledge also made him aware of the duties of laity toward Shramans. He realized that Bhagavan Rishabhdev had been wandering around without food or water due to the prevailing ignorance of the people regarding ascetic norms.
With due reverence he requested Rishabhdev, "Prabhu! I am honored by your presence. I have just received 108 pitchers full of fresh sugar-cane juice that are pure and suitable for you in all respects. Kindly accept the juice and break your fast." Rishabhdev extended his cupped palms and Shreyans poured the sugar-cane juice from a pitcher. Rishabhdev broke his fast and the skies reverberated with the sound of divine drums and divine applaud, "Hail the alms giving!" The gods also showered gems, flowers and perfumes.
This was the beginning of the tradition of religious charity and alms giving. In memory of this incident, the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh is celebrated as Akshay Tritiya festival. The Jains specifically celebrate it as the breakfast day after the penance of Varshi Tap (one meal and fast on alternate days for one year).
Omniscience and Nirvana
For one thousand years Bhagavan Rishabhdev continued his harsh spiritual practices completely ignoring his body and other mundane activities. On the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Phalgun he was meditating under a banyan tree in the Shakatmukh garden outside Purimtal town, close to Ayodhya. Around forenoon he transcended to the purest higher state of meditation. The intensity of his practice caused the shedding of the knowledge and perception obscuring Karmas as well as the illusory Karmas. As a result, he attained omniscience, the purest and enlightened state of soul. Rishabhdev became a Jina.
When Rishabhdev attained omniscience the whole world was filled with a soothing glow for a moment. Numerous gods descended from heavens to pay their respects to the Tirthankar. They also created the Samavasaran, the divine pavilion. King Bharat also proceeded toward the divine assembly riding an elephant and taking along his grandmother Marudeva. Apprehensive about the hardships of the ascetic life of her son, Marudeva was relieved when she beheld the scintillating face of Rishabhdev sitting in the divine assembly surrounded by happy and dazzling gods. The vision of her son perched on the spiritual pinnacle triggered the flow of spontaneous joy in the heart of Marudeva. This mundane joy slowly turned into the ultimate bliss and she acquired omniscience. Coincidentally, at the same moment she completed her age and became liberated soul (Siddha). Bhagawan Rishabhdev made the announcement Marudeva had become a Siddha.
In his first discourse Rishabhdev detailed the trilogy of right conduct. Knowing about the significance of life as a human being and importance of a dutiful life, thousands of people including Rishabhsen, the eldest son of Emperor Bharat, and five thousands of people including Rishabhsen, the eldest son of Emperor Bharat, and five thousand other members of royal family embraced the acetic way of life. Thousand of other persons accepted the Shravak Dharm (the religious way for laity). As he founded the four pronged religious ford at the beginning of the present era, Bhagavan Rishabhdev became popularly known as Adinath, the first Tirthankar.
The first disciple of Bhagavan Rishabhdev was Rishabhsen. He became the first chief disciple. He was also known as Pundarik.
For a long time Bhagavan Rishabhdev continued to propagate his religion having the five great vows as its central theme. When he realized that all his remaining Karmas are approaching their end he proceeded to the Ashtapad mountain. On the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Magh, a little before noon time, Rishabhdev, along with ten thousand other ascetics, was observing a six day fast without water. He was sitting in the meditation in the Paryanka pose. When the moon entered the Abhijit lunar mansion he got nirvana and got liberated from all sorrows.
The king of gods, Saudharmendra, Emperor Bharat, numerous gods and men gathered and celebrated the auspicious event of Bhagavan Rishabhdev’s Nirvana

Know about Hindu Lord Shiva

About Lord Shiva

Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious One) is one of the main deities of Hinduism that is worshipped as the paramount lord by the Shaivaite sects of India.
In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is regarded as the representation of the Supreme Being. He is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity(Trimurti), the other two members being Lord Brahma - the creator and Lord Vishnu - the protector. Shiva is the destructive form of the Almighty. As the cycle of destruction and recreation is always in a circle, Shiva’s primary responsibility is maintaining the life cycle. Scholars say, as the Mahakaal, Shiva destroys and dissolves everything into nothingness but as Shankara, he also reproduces that which has been destroyed and dissolved. His symbol of Lingam or the phallus represents this reproductive power.
Lord Shiva is also considered to be the most unique of all Hindu gods and also the God of all. A great ascetic, Shiva is the only godhead who is forever in deep meditation, totally absorbed in contemplation in His abode, Kailaasa Mountain in the great Himalaya. Lord Shiva is also said to be inseparable from Shakti - Parvati the daughter of Himavaan - Haimavati. There is no Shiva without Shakti and no Shakti without Shiva, the two are one - or the absolute state of being.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Goa

The Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi

To the west of the Se Cathedral is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The structure is built of laterite blocks and is lime-plastered.alt

The church faces west and has a nave with three chapels on either side, a choir, two altars in the transept and a main altar. To the north of the main altar is a belfry and a sacristy. The convent, which forms an annexure to the church, now houses the Archaeological Museum.

The exterior of the Church is of the Tuscan Order while the main entrance is in Manuline style. The main altar is Baroque with Corinthian features. There are no aisles but only a nave, which is rib-vaulted.

The internal buttress walls, separating the chapels and supporting the gallery on top, have frescoes showing intricate floral designs.

In a niche on the fa├žade, stands a statue of our lady of miracles brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka. A wooden statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns a pedestal bearing the insignia of the Franciscans. A wooden pulpit, richly carved with floral designs is to the left as one enters.

Beneath a ribbed vault with frescoes showing floral decorations, is the main altar, which is gilded and has a richly carved niche with a tabernacle supported by the four evangelists.

The tabernacle was used for displaying the holy sacrament. Above the tabernacle, in the main altar, is a large statue of St. Francis of Assisi and an equally large statue of Jesus on the cross. Beneath the two figures are inscribed the three vows of the Saint - poverty, humility and obedience. On either side of the main altar, in the nave, are beautiful large paintings on wood, depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assai.

The origin of this church and the attached convent can be traced to the humble beginnings made by eight Franciscan friars, who, on their arrival in 1517, secured from the then Governor a few houses that belonged to a deceased Thanadar. By their persistent efforts they constructed a small chapel with three altars and a choir.

A church consecrated to the Holy Ghost was built in 1521 and was later pulled down and the present church was built on the same spot in 1661 retaining only the entrance of the earlier church.

Life history of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi Biography

Saint (c. 1181–1226)

St. Francis of Assisi abandoned a life of luxury for a life devoted to Christianity after reportedly hearing the voice of God, who commanded him to rebuild the Christian church and live in poverty. He is the patron saint for ecologists.


Born in Italy circa 1181, St. Francis of Assisi was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison—awaiting his father's payment—and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God. After his release from prison, Francis heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian Church and live a life of poverty. Consequently, he abandoned his life of luxury and became a devotee of the faith, his reputation spreading all over the Christian world. Later in life, Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ—marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified—making Francis the first person to receive such holy wounds. He was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228. Today, St. Francis of Assisi has had a lasting resonance with millions of followers across the globe.

Early Life of Luxury

Born circa 1181, in Assisi, duchy of Spoleto, Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, though revered today, began his life as a confirmed sinner. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant who owned farmland around Assisi, and his mother was a beautiful Frenchwoman. Francis was not in want during his youth; he was spoiled, indulging himself with fine food, wine, and wild celebrations. By age 14, he had left school and become known as a rebellious teenager who frequently drank, partied and broke the city curfew. He was also known for his charm and vanity.
In these privileged surroundings, Francis of Assisi learned the skills of archery, wrestling and horsemanship. He was expected to follow his father into the family textile business but was bored by the prospect of life in the cloth trade. Instead of planning a future as a merchant, he began daydreaming of a future as a knight; knights were Medieval action heroes, and if Francis had any ambition, it was to be a war hero like them. It wouldn't be long before the opportunity for warfare beckoned.
In 1202, war broke between Assisi and Perugia, and Francis eagerly took his place with the cavalry. Little did he know at the time, his experience with war would change him forever.

War and Imprisonment

Francis and the men of Assisi came under heavy attack, and in the face of superior numbers, they took flight. The whole battlefield was soon covered with the bodies of butchered, mutilated men, screaming in agony. Most of the surviving Assisi troops were immediately put to death.
Unskilled and with no combat experience, Francis was quickly captured by enemy soldiers. Dressed like an aristocrat and wearing expensive new armor, he was considered worthy of a decent ransom, and the soldiers decided to spare his life. He and the other wealthy troops were taken as prisoners, led off to a dank underground cell. Francis would spend nearly a year in such miserable conditions—awaiting his father's payment—during which time he may well have contracted a serious disease. Also during this time, he would later report, he began to receive visions from God.

After the War

After a year of negotiations, Francis's ransom was accepted, and he was released from prison in 1203. When he came back to Assisi, however, Francis was a very different man. Upon his return, he was dangerously sick in both mind and body—a battle-fatigued casualty of war.
One day, as legend has it, while riding on a horse in the local countryside, Francis encountered a leper. Prior to the war, Francis would have run from the leper, but on this occasion, his behavior was very different. Viewing the leper as a symbol of moral conscience—or as Jesus incognito, according to some religious scholars—he embraced and kissed him, later describing the experience as a feeling of sweetness in his mouth. After this incident, Francis felt an indescribable freedom. His earlier lifestyle had lost all of its appeal.
Subsequently, Francis, now in his early 20s, began turning his focus toward God. Instead of working, he spent an ever-increasing amount of time at a remote mountain hideaway as well as in old, quiet churches around Assisi, praying, looking for answers, and helping nurse lepers. During this time, while praying before an old Byzantine crucifix at the church of San Damiano, Francis reportedly heard the voice of Christ, who told him to rebuild the Christian Church and to live a life of extreme poverty. Francis obeyed and devoted himself to Christianity. He began preaching around Assisi and was soon joined by 12 loyal followers.
Some regarded Francis as a madman or a fool, but others viewed him as one of the greatest examples of how to live the Christian ideal since Jesus Christ himself. Whether he was really touched by God, or simply a man misinterpreting hallucinations brought on by mental illness and/or poor health, Francis of Assisi quickly became well-known throughout the Christian world.

Devotion to Christianity

After his epiphany at the church of San Damiano, Francis experienced another defining moment in his life. In order to raise money to rebuild the Christian church, he sold a bolt of cloth from his father's shop, along with his horse. His father became furious upon learning of his son's actions and subsequently dragged Francis before the local bishop. The bishop told Francis to return his father's money, to which his reaction was extraordinary: He stripped off his clothes, and along with them, returned the money back to his father, declaring that God was now the only father he recognized. This event is credited as Francis's final conversion, and there is no indication that Francis and his father ever spoke again thereafter.
The bishop gave Francis a rough tunic, and dressed in these new humble clothes, Francis left Assisi. Unluckily for him, the first people he met on the road were a group of dangerous thieves, who beat him badly. Despite his wounds, Francis was elated. From now on, he would live according to the Gospel.
Francis's embrace of Christ-like poverty was a radical notion at the time. The Christian church was tremendously rich, much like the people heading it, which concerned Francis and many others, who felt that the long-held apostolic ideals had eroded. Francis set out on a mission to restore Jesus Christ's own, original values to the now-decadent church. With his incredible charisma, he drew thousands of followers to him. They listened to Francis's sermons and joined in his way of life; his followers became known as Franciscan friars.
Continuously pushing himself in the quest for spiritual perfection, Francis was soon preaching in up to five villages per day, teaching a new kind of emotional and personal Christian religion that everyday people could understand. He even went so far as to preach to animals, which garnered criticism from some and earned him the nickname "God's fool." But Francis's message was spread far and wide, and thousands of people were captivated by what they heard.
In 1224, Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ—marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified, through his hands and the gaping lance wound in his side. This made Francis the first person to receive the holy wounds of the stigmata. They would remain visible for the rest of his life. Because of his earlier work treating lepers, some believe that the wounds were actually symptoms of leprosy.

Death and Legacy

As Francis approached his death, many predicted that he was a saint in the making. When his health began to decline more rapidly, Francis went home. Knights were sent from Assisi to guard him and to make sure that no one from neighboring towns would carry him off (the body of a saint was viewed, at the time, as an extremely valuable relic that would bring, among many things, glory to the town where it rested).
Francis of Assisi died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44, in Assisi, Italy. Today, Francis has a lasting resonance with millions of followers across the globe. He was canonized as a saint just two years after his death, on July 16, 1228, by his former protector, Pope Gregory IX. Today, St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint for ecologists—a title honoring his boundless love for animals and nature.

Gurudwara Shri Guru Ka Lahore Sahib, Basantpur

GURUDWARA SHRI GURU KA LAHORE is situated in the village Basantpur in Billaspur Distt. of Himachal Pardesh. Its situated on the border of Himachal Pardesh only 12 km from Shri Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Hari Jas ji father of SHRI MATA JITO JI came to Chak Nanaki ( Shri Anandpur Sahib) for getting Marriage fixed up with SHRI GURU GOBIND SINGH JI (Engagemenimet had already been done during the life time of SHRI GURU TEG BAHADUR JI) But the elders didn't agreed on barats going to lahore. So SHRI GURU GOBIND SINGH JI proposed that we shall create lahore here and MATA JITO JI's family may come here and marriage ceremonys may take place. later a little lahore was setup which exactly resembled to the nine Bazaars of lahore in village Basantnagar. And finally GURU SAHIBS marriage was performed here. 

Life history of fourth Sikh Guru Ramdasji

Fourth Sikh Guru Ramdas ji:

Artist Bodh Rai's immpression of  Sri Guru Ramdas  ji
Sri Guru Ram Das ji are known to be the Chauthi Patshahi or the Fourth Guru as well as Guru who established the city of Amritsar. Sri Guru Ramdas ji kept alive the tradition of first three Gurus.
Guru Ramdas was born in Lahore into a Sodhi Khatri family residing in Mohalla Chuna Mandi. By all accounts, the date of his birth was the second day of the dark half of the month Karthik in the Bikrami Samvat (1591 (24 September 1534). His parents Har Das and Daya Vati were known for their honest and pious living. Ram Das was popularly addressed as Jetha, being the first-born of his parents (Sanskrit word Jayeshth means the first). In the words of Macauliffe, "He was of fair complexion, handsome figure, pleasing and smiling face and not disposed to weep or cry in the manner of ordinary children". From the beginning his outlook was other wordly, and he felt the happiest when he happened to be in the company of holy people.
The village Basarke (now in the district ofAmritsar) which was the native place of the third Guru Guru Amardas was also the place to which Jetha's mother Daya Vati belonged. Like other children he too had immense fascination for his Nanake (the house of his maternal grandparents) and was a frequent visitor to it. During his stay at Basarke, it was his usual practice to go round the countryside hawking boiled grains. With his charming looks and winsome manners he soon won admiration from the men and women of Basarke and the villages nearby. Guru Amardas felt so much impressed with him that he decided to marry his second daughter bibi Bhani, to him.
A very interesting story is narrated by almost all writers, old and new. One day the Guru's wife seeing Bibi Bhani playing about remarked to her husband that as Bhani as grown up, they ought to search for a husband for her. The Guru agreed and ordered the search for a husband for her. Bibi Bhani's mother saw a boy outside her door hawking some articles of food. On carefully observing him, she said "Search a youth like him". Hearing this Guru exclaimed "He is his own parallel, for God has made none other like unto him". Saying this Guru called the youth and enquired from his about his whereabouts. After that he sent him with marriage presents to his father Har Das in Lahore and had the betrothal ceremony performed (1545).
Bibi Bhani served Jetha not merely as her dear husband but also as a rare saint. The couple lived happily and in due course three sons were born to them. In order of seniority the were Prithi Chand (1547 A.D), Mahadev (1551) and Arjan Dev (1553). No precise information is available as to the exact time when Bhai Jetha assumed his permanent residence along with his family at Goindwal, but the probability cannot be dismissed that it was done soon after Guru Amar Das having been selected as the third Guru had set up his headquarters at that place. Goindwal had been founded several years back in the time of Guru Angad Dev, and soon after its foundation Amar Das with the whole of his family had shifted his residence here from his native place Basarke. After that whenever Jetha and Bhani felt like meeting them, they naturally had to come to Goindwal.
Punjab was attacked by Mirza Hakim, the ruler of Kabul, in 1565 in a bid to dislodge his half-brother Mughal Emperor Akbar from power. To meet the challenge Akbar Left Agra for Punjab in November 1565 and reached Lahore in February 1566. Mirza Hakim lost heart and beat a hurried retreat to Kabul. Akbar decided not to pursue him and stayed on at Lahore for more than a Year. He left for Agra in March 1567. When the Emperor was encamped at Lahore, a small representative of hostile Brahmins and Khatris proceeded to Lahore and lodged a serious complaint against Guru Amar DasThe substance of the complaint as follows:"Thy majesty is the protector of our customs and the redresser of our wrongs. Every man's religion is dear to him. Guru Amar Das of Goindwal hath abandoned the religious and social customs of the Hindus, and abolished the distinction of the four castes. Such heterodoxy hath never been heard of in the four ages. There is now no twilight prayer, no gayatri, no offering of water to ancestors, no pilgrimages, no obseques, and no worship of idols or of the divine salagram. The Guru hath abandoned all these, and established the repetition of Wahguru instead of Ram; and no one now acteth according to the Vedas or the Smritis. The Guru reverenceth not jogis, jatis, or Brahmans. He worshippeth no gods or goddesses, and he orderth his sikhs from refrain from doing so for ever more. He seateth all his followers in a line and causeth them to eat together from his kitchen, irrespective of caste - whether they are jats, strolling minstrels, Muhammadans, Brahmans, Khatris, shopkeepers, sweepers, barbers, washermen, fishermen or carpenters. We pray thee restrain him now, else it will be difficult hereafter. May thy religion and empire increase and extend over the world!" On receiving the complaint, the Emperor sent a special messenger to Goindwal asking Guru Amardas to see him. The Guru did nor agree to go personally on account of his old age but commissioned Bhai Jetha to wait upon the Emperor and to answer the allegations made against him at the court. Before Jetha set out for Lahore, the Guru is said to have spoken to him thus: "Thou art in mine image; Guru Nanak will be with thee, and none shall prevail against thee. The Khatris and Brahmans who have complained are ignorent and false. Answer truly all the questions put to thee. Be not abashed and fear nobody. If any difficul questions be put and thou art at a loss for an answer, then think of the Guru, and thou shalt be able to give a suitable reply. Vindicate before the court the true teaching of Guru Nanak. Falsehood cannot contend with truth".
Jetha appearing at the Mughal court answered all the charges contained in the complaint to the entire satisfaction of the Emperor. Greatly pleased with the skill and confidence with which he had trounced the adversaries, the Emperor dismissed the complaint outright and requested the Jetha to convey his deep respects to the Guru.
Jetha was a paragon of love, devotion, service and resignation. He looked upon Guru Amar Das not merely as his father-in-law but also as his most revered beau ideali.e. The Guru. He served him in a spirit of complete self-surrender. He along with his wife Bibi Bhani used to shampoo him, draw water, cook, serve meals from the kitchen and then wash the dishes. The more he served the Guru the more his love for him and for all mankind increased. Gruadually his disposition became divine just as they say iron is turned into gold by the contact of the philosopher's stone. Later on, when the construction of the Baoli (a well with stairs) was undertaken, Ram Dass became conspicuous for his tireless and unremitting labour. He carried baskets of earth on his head like everybody else and paid no heed to the banter or reproaches of his companions of his kith and kin. Once when his relatives were returning from a pilgrimage to the river Ganga, they halted briefly at Goindwal on their way to Lahore. When they saw Jetha working like a common labourer, they were furious and said to him. "Thou hast shamed the family by performing menial service like Shudra in thy father-in-law's house. Couldn't thou not obtain suitable maintenance to draw water, scrub daity vessels, and shampoo the Guru". Jetha was much displeased at this language and replied, "In your estimation the Guru is my father-in-law but in mine he is God in person." On hearing this they went to the Guru and complained to him about what he had made of his son-in-law. To this Guru's reply was : "I had not made him carry filth on his head, but I have put filth on the heads of his slanderers, and I have caused the umbrella of true sovereignty to wave over him. If he had not been born in your family, you would all have been damned. It is he who hath saved the whole of your tribe."
The final and supreme test of Jetha's spirit of service and sacrifice when Guru Amar Das wanted to select his successor just like the first two Gurus (and all the Sikh Gurus starting from the Guru Nanak Dev). The Guru asked both of his sons-in-law, Rama and Jetha to make him two platforms beside the Baoli at Goindwal. He held out the promise without telling them about the Guruship that he who did the better work in his eyes should receive the greater honour. When they completed their platforms, the Guru went to inspect them. Both the platforms were declared to be defective and they were asked to throw them down and rebuild them. In obedience to his command, new platforms were erected. These were also disapproved and ordered to be dismantled. On this Rama the elder son-in-law refused to build it a third time. He demurred, "The Guru hath grown old and his reason faileth him". Jetha's work was subjected to the same rigorous standard. He continued to build platforms which were then dismantled each time pronouncing it faulty by the Guru. This process was repeated seven times. Ultimately, Jetha clasped the Guru's feet and humbly addressed him :" I am a fool; pray have regard for thy duty (bird) to me as thy son. I am erring and of mean understanding, while thou possessest all knowledge." On hearing this Guru smiled and embraced him affectionately saying, "Jetha is a perfect being who hath become incarnate and the world following him shall be saved" The Sikhs were astonished on witnessing Jetha's marvellous devotion and obedience, and henceforth began to recognize him as the image of the Guru.
In 1574 A.D. Bhai Jetha succeeded Guru Amar Das as the fourth Sikh Guru under the name Ram Das. His pontification lasted up to 1581. Like his father-in-law he too had to deal with the hostile and perverse attitudes of Brahmans, Tapas and Jogis. Both Mehma Prakash and Suraj Prakash are replete with descriptions of such categories of people coming and holding long discussions with him on such subjects as observance of caste discipline, performance of rites and ceremonies, pilgrimage, reading of old religious texts, etc. One illustration will suffice to make it clear. Once a company of Jogis called upon him and questioned him as to why the atached no importance to the practice of Yog (celibacy) among his Sikhs. The Guru's reply to this was that a man may wear a Yogi's garb and keep chanting god's name and test himself to various tests,but without devotion in his heart God will not enter it". (Asa measure in Guru Granth, O Yogi).
Guru Amar Das had devoted much of his time to the problems of definition and organization confronting the young emerging Sikh panth (called nirmal panth by sarup das bhalla). Lest the Brahmanical influence should reassert themselves over his followers, he had all along endeavoured to make the Sikh position in the matter of religious beliefs and practices as well as in social behaviour as definetive as possible. Simaltaneous he had made efforts to improve the organizational setup of the Sikh Society. The introduction of the annual Baisakhi day, the construction of the Baoli, and the distinction drawn between sachi (authentic) and kachi (unauthentic) Bani (sacred compositions) were a few of the measures taken by the Guru in this connection. Guru Ram Das went ahead with the work thus begun by his master. Through his words as well as deeds he underscored the essential features of the Sikh teachings and repeatedly warned his followers against the pitfalls involved in the Brahman's emphasis on pilgrimage, ritualism or formal reading of Vedas and Shastars. He also left no opportunity to caution them against the futile practices of the Udasis, Yogis, Naths, Tapas and Sidhs (all ascetis of one kind or another. A good number of these ascetics fell under his spell and adopted his creed.
Before he was appointed as Fourth Guru, just after completing the Boali at Goindwal, third Guru Guru Amardas ji had sent him to a magical place in the vicinity of the villages of Sultanwind, Tung, Gumtala and Gilwali, all at the pargana of Jhabal in the Taaluqa of Patti, which formed a part of the Suba of Lahore ruled by the Mughals. Guru Amardas ji wanted him to establish and create another Sikh center apart from Goindwal. Guru Ramdas was so immpressed with this place that he started visiting it every Sagrand (The first day of the Punjabi month) and Amavasaya (the dark moonless night of the month). Bhai Jetha purchased this area with wild shrubs(Ber trees) and jungles on the payments of Rs 700 to the Zamindar of village Tung., later villagers of Sultanwind presented more land to Guru out of regard and reverence for the Guru. Earlier, Emperor Akbar also had gifted a tract of land in the vicinity to the daughter of Guru Amardas ji Bibi Bhani, Guru RamDas's wife. After obtaining land for the purpose of creating the Sikh center, he was told by Guru Amardas ji to excavated a tank (now called Santokhsar at Baba Atal) that he did, as well as created a small house for himself. Thus he founded the town of Ramdaspur (later Amritsar) which continues to be the centre of Sikhism till today. Just then Guru Amardas ji were nearing his end and thus Amritsar project had to be put on hold for some time. Guru Ramdas ji decided to start it again in 1577 and thus year 1577 has gone down in the history as the foundation year of the Amritsar. Guru Amardas ji had again told him to excavate another tank about 1 km down from the old one. This is the current Sarovar of the Golden Temple. He dug a tank which became the principal place of pilgrimage. Traders and artisans were invited to settle at the town so that its growth could be rapid. In due course it became the largest commercial centre in northern India. Phrase came to be associated with the tank dug at Amritsar which was "Ramdas Sarovar Nahate, Sab uttre paap kamate", "I bath in the tank of Ramdas and all my sins were washed away" . It was a landmark in the life of the community, because the Guru established a central place that was quite distinct from that of the Hindus and the Muslims. Since then Amritsar is for the Sikhs what Mecca is for the Muslims. All this indicates that the Guru had a distinct sense of his mission and did everything to establish it as a separate religious system and entity.
Guru Ramdas was not merely a constructive genius who planned and founded a new city and instituted an original missionary order but also a poet of great sensitivity and tremendous effect. He composed 679 hymns in varying musical measures, which were incorporated into Adi Granth by his son and successor, Guru Arjan Dev. His whole life was embodiment of love, devotion, dedication and service. All these noble sentiments are abundantly reflected in his writings. His straight and simple message went straight to the heart and evoked the most sensitive chords of one's consciousness. There was only a modocum of metaphysics in his compositions and almost the entire emphasis was laid on life of self-less service rendered in a spirit of total devotion to the Guru and God. For example:
O my beloved, I live by meditating on thy name; Without the name I could not live, O my satguru, implant it in me. The Name is a priceless jewel; the perfect satguru possesseth it. By applying myself to the service of the Satguru, he bringeth forth and displayeth the jewel of the Name. Blest are the very fortunate who come to the Guru and meet him. (Adi Granth, Sri Rag).
The momentous career of the Guru came to its end on September 1, 1581 (Bhadon Sudi 3, 1638 BK) after a pontification of 6 years, 11 months and 18 das. He was succeeded by his youngest son, Arjan Dev. The eldest son Prithia created many obstacles and tried his level best to influence the decision in his own favour, but the Guru was as firm in regard to the issue of succession as he had been all through his life in dealing with the detractors of Sikhism.
Gurdwara of Guru Ramdas ji at Lahore
Read biography of Guru Arjan Dev ji

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Cassini Completes Final Close Enceladus Flyby

Cassini Completes Final Close Enceladus Flyby

Cassini will continue to monitor activity on Enceladus from a distance, through the end of its mission in Sept. 2017.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft paused during its final close flyby of Enceladus to focus on the icy moon's craggy, dimly lit limb, with the planet Saturn beyond.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has begun transmitting data and images from the mission's final close flyby of Saturn's active moon Enceladus. Cassini passed Enceladus at a distance of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers) on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 9:49 a.m. PST (12:49 p.m. EST).

"This final Enceladus flyby elicits feelings of both sadness and triumph," said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL. "While we're sad to have the close flybys behind us, we've placed the capstone on an incredible decade of investigating one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system."

Cassini will continue to monitor activity on Enceladus from a distance, through the end of its mission in Sept. 2017. Future encounters will be much farther away — at closest, more than four times farther than this latest encounter.

This was the 22nd Enceladus encounter of Cassini's mission. The spacecraft's discovery of geologic activity there, not long after arriving at Saturn, prompted changes to the mission's flight plan to maximize the number and quality of flybys of the icy moon.

"We bid a poignant goodbye to our close views of this amazing icy world," said Linda Spilker, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Cassini has made so many breathtaking discoveries about Enceladus, yet so much more remains to be done to answer that pivotal question, 'Does this tiny ocean world harbor life?'
After revealing Enceladus' surprising geologic activity in 2005, Cassini made a series of discoveries about the material gushing from warm fractures near its south pole. Scientists announced strong evidence for a regional subsurface sea in 2014, revising their understanding in 2015 to confirm that the moon hosts a global ocean beneath its icy crust.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft peered out over the northern territory on Saturn's moon Enceladus, capturing this view of two different terrain types. A region of older terrain covered in craters that have been modified by geological processes is seen at right, while at left is a province of relatively craterless, and presumably more youthful, wrinkled terrain. Cassini acquired the view during its final close flyby of Enceladus, on Dec. 19, 2015.

Mictlight flying in Coorg

Microlight Flying in Coorg

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About the activity: 
  • Experience the thrill of flying at a height of 5,000 feet and get a bird’s eye view of dreamy Coorg with a 10 minutes or 30 minutes ride.
  • Partake in this fun and exciting activity anytime between 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM. Arrive at Ponnampet. 
  • The hand glider is perfect for two people and comes with a robust machine that reaches a speed of 100 km/hr. 
  • Feel the euphoria as you fly at around 5000 feet above the surface of the earth and delight in the sights and sounds of the surrounding landscapes that pass by. 
  • Duration: 10 minutes or 30 minutes 
Location : Chelavara, Coorg
Meeting point: Ponnampet, Coorg
Number of people for the activity: Minimum –1, Maximum –15
Activity Included
Some Facts:
  • Safety gear
  • Trained expert charges
  • Instructions and Guidelines
    • Consumption of alcohol or any other intoxicating products is strictly prohibited during this activity. 
    • For safety purposes, do pay heed to the guidelines given by the instructors.