NGT – Not Good Try Again

What does one do, when they go out of circulation and unnoticed for a long time? Piggy back on to something/someone popular – Exactly what NGT seem to be trying to implement to perfection these days. After their unwarranted and vengeful attempt to defame and derail  World Culture Festival, during which they were exposed by their own Expert Panel with Observations that cannot even be categorised as Amateurish, the recent “Selective” targeting of the Art of Living’s  Temple of Knowledge by the EKW Management Authority (EKWMA) comes in handy for them. Who better to piggy back than world renowned Spiritual Master & Guru of Joy Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of Art of Living.

Since I am in the know about some facts and background of this project, thought this should be recorded here. Here we go…

First up, every single legal norms warranted by all concerned regulatory authorities has been complied with by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan Trust of the Art of Living in respect of the Temple of Knowledge Project  

On Oct 25, 2017, Kolkata NGT, ordered the demolition of the Temple of Knowledge (ToK) – the structure owned by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan (VDS) Trust by relying upon an order passed by the East ​Kolkata Wetlands Authority on the previous day i.e 24 October 2017, UNILATERALLY without even serving the same to VDS for it to deal with it legally. VDS has come to know of the said order of EKWMA through the Media. Basic premise and process of Natural justice is to afford an opportunity to all parties or atleast keep affected parties informed. Especially since VDS has all records and FACTS to prove that the order of EKWMA’s order is legally Void and Erroneous – which is well known to EKWMA and the NGT – (Was it the reason to go ahead and issue the order almost surreptitiously?)

It is pertinent to note here that the plot of the Trust has been categorised under the schedule to the East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Preservation) Act 2006, as one in which Rural and Urban Settlement was allowed. The structure of the Trust was therefore perfectly legal and valid.

A cursory drive past would reveal existence of more than a thousand private and ​commercial projects, schools, colleges in the wetland area. Why is it that a Not for Profit Charitable ToK, VDS & Art of Living being singled out – Vendetta?

Let it be known that when the construction of the ‘Temple for Knowledge’ began, a group of volunteers started it based on the sanction plan given to VDS by the donor. The East ​Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority was not even functional then. VDS had obtained all required permissions from regulatory departments.

It is in this context that Selectively ToK building which is for the public good been ordered to be razed down. I hope VDS trust won’t let itself to be bullied by these kind of over-reach and use of discretionary powers and move higher court against this arbitrary order of EKWMA and NGT.

Some pictures of permanent structures existing in the same area where the Trust has been singled out.

View of Wetlands and Structures on it
Structures that has been spared
A view from the Under Construction ToK
Temple of Knowledge Building

NOTE: This rebuttal could have well been provided to the Media who had published the report, but it would be sending more hits to their portal which I don’t wish to do. A responsible media would have first sought Art of Living/VDS Trust’s reaction before they went to town with a one sided reportage.

Additional Reading: This is by no means an attempt to say Two wrongs don’t make a right. But to put things in perspective – Witch hunting (for reasons that is anyone’s guess) a legally cleared and permitted Not-For-Profit Organisation while commercial activities goes unchecked.

  1. In a meeting on July 14, the first of the reconstituted authority chaired by Chatterjee, the newly constituted EKWMA committee (this committee was created by the Government just to bull doze decisions on the Authority) made a series of decisions which, environmentalists allege, have formalised encroachment within the wetlands. This sitting cleared several Government Project (In-Principle approvals).A five kilometre flyover which will see 146 piers constructed within eight water bodies in the core of the Ramsar site is not a danger? Also note this has come post establishment of the authority unlike ToK which was much before.  Click on the picture below for details.

    Wastewater is released into the Kolkata wetlands at the Bantala Lock Gate
  2. A 5 km long flyover over the wetland – WB Government cared two hoots to the concerns raised.
  3. Clearance for dumping of City”s Solid waste (yes! You read it right) – Though this has been resisted, Minister Chatterjee has been very vocal with this demand.
  4. Two roads that would definitely damage and adverserly affect the Wetlands.
  5. This committee has allowed the Meghnath Saha Institute of Technology to procure land outside the wetland area and turn it into a water body (this was expressly banned by the authority and now overturned by this Committee)
  6. As evident from the pictures above, huge skyscrapers are also being permitted brazenly and the Authority nor the NGT seem to be bothered.
  7. There are reports that there is rampant and illegal sale of Wetlands (and on August 15th 2017, there was even violence between two parties including firing due to differences in sharing the spoils)

 

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Shami Patra & its Significance for Vijayadashami

India is a country where everything in the creation is revered – both living and non-living. Every festival or celebrations includes this aspect in some form or the other.

After the holy nine night, the Navaratris, Vijayadashami is a day to Celebrate Victory of Good over Evil. While every region has its own unique flavour and significance for the day, this is a piece discussing a ritualistic practice – Worship of Shammi Vruksha (Tree) and giving Shammi Patra (Banni ele in Kannada) to others.

Source: Wikipedia

Some scientific facts (sourced from Web):

The binomial Botanical name of  Shammi Tree is Prosopis cineraria, which is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is native to arid portions of Western Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, including Afghanistan, Iran, India, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is the state tree of Rajasthan and Telangana in India. A large and well-known example of the species is the Tree of Life in Bahrain – approximately 400 years old and growing in a desert devoid of any obvious sources of water.It is also the national tree of the United Arab Emirates.

Religious Significance:

Shami, is highly revered among Hindus and worshipped as part of Dasara festival. This tree takes importance during the tenth day of Dasara Festival when it is worshipped in various parts of India. Historically among Rajputs, the Ranas, who were the high priest and the king, used to perform the worship and then they used to liberate a jay which was considered the sacred bird of Lord Rama. In the Deccan, as part of the tenth day ritual of Dasara, the Marathas used to shoot arrows on to the leaf of the tree and gather the falling leaf into their turbans as a custom.
In Karnataka (and many other places too), Banni mara is believed to be the tree where the Pandavas hid their weapons during exile and revered and worshipped on Vijay-Dashami day. Banni mara or the Shammi Vruksha holds a special place in the Mysore Dasara where its worshipped on the Vijay-dashami day.
In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are known to have spent their thirteenth year of exile in disguise in the kingdom of Virata. Before going to Virata, they are known to have hung their celestial weapons in this tree for safe keeping for a year. When they returned after a year, they found their weapons safe in the branches of the Shami tree. Before taking the weapons, they worshipped the tree and thanked it for keeping their weapons safe.

The Legend ( in Karnataka)

There lived a very poor destitute child Shamivruta who despite being an orphan was an epitome of good qualities. In the same place existed a Gurukul (India Traditional School) called Sisu managed by Guru Mahaana. Hardworking and diligent Shamivruta came to the Gurukul and began his education with extreme sincerity and commitment. He also had Prince Vrukshita, son of the Maharaja of that Kingdom as his classmate.

Art of Living – Gurukul

As Guru Mahaana used say, Good Education demands a lot of humility and would also mean going hungry at times to acquire knowledge – Shamivruta followed this unscrupulously but Vrukshita used to believe that “enthusiasm and knowledge can be acquired only when the stomach has no hunger. Else a student is as good as a breathing dead body”

Years flew past and their education in Gurukul Sisu came to an end and it was time for everyone to move out to face the real world and put their knowledge to worldly use. Before they embarked on to their native places, Guru Mahaana says that he will come to each one of them in due course for receiving his Gurudakshina (Reverential Offering/Gift made to a Guru in return for knowledge imparted).

One day Guru Mahaana arrives at the palace of Vrukshita who had become the king by the time. He receives the Guru with ceremonies befitting a royal reception. He wanted to gift his Guru something that no one should have given before or no one can gift later.  He also wanted the Guru to realize the worth of this royal student who is now the king. He then loaded the Palace elephant with chests of Gold Coins, Gems and Jewels sent it along with the Guru. He then secretly followed the Guru just to witness the misery of Shamivruta – who would surely be repenting due to his inability to give anything to his Guru

As Guru Mahaana reaches Shamivruta’s humble hutment, he receives his Guru with utmost devotion and offers him Milk and fruits. He enquired about the wellbeing of the Guru. Despite knowing he has nothing to offer, Shamivruta tells his Guru to ask anything and he ensure that is  made available. To everyone’s surprise Guru Mahaana demands Shamivruta to give him a complete Shami Tree with fully grown fresh green leaves from the Garden of his backyard. Shamivruta who believed that there is nothing Greater than a Guru and nothing beyond death, offers it to the Guru right away and takes him to the backyard.

As soon as Guru Mahaana touches the tree, all the leaves on the tree turns into Gold coins. And it started dropping down from tree one by one growing into a huge heap. Surprisingly, tree was still not bereft of leaves.

Guru Mahaana then tells, “Even a leaf given with love is equivalent to Gold compared to any gift given out of pride” He then summons Vruskhita and tells him that Gold may be available anywhere, but it can never buy Love, and Good relationship. He then asks Vrukshita to seek forgiveness from his friend Shamivruta. Since both of them become one and thick friends due to the greatness of this tree – it was came to be known as Shami Vruksha after both of them.

Thus began the practice of giving Shami patri or Banni ele, (leaves) on Vijayadashami to symbolize a gift equivalent to gold but filled with love. We say “Banni Bangaaravaagona” while handing over leaves – which has two meanings. Literally it means – Come, let us become Gold – but symbolically it means, let us be like the Banni/Shami Gold relation

|Banni Bangaaravaagona|

Shanitrastu, Pushitrastu, Thushtirastu.

May you be blessed with Peace, Prosperity and Contentment.

On this auspicious occasion, please watch this video – a message from the Art of Living‘s Founder  Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji

Chants for Navaratri

It is that time of the year – the Blissful retreat from the hustle bustle of the world to “Within” from “Where” you are to “What” you are. Navaratri – the Nine Nights literally. This piece will focus on a few Chants that are beneficial and important during the Navaratri.

Gurudev

All the weblinks to the chants are drawn from the renditions of Artistes from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji founded The Art of Living. At the time of writing this piece all the links are functional. Please let me know if there are any that doesn’t work

Here we go… Please note that it is not in any order of hierarchy. Each of the chant has its purpose and hopefully we listen to each of them atleast once during the Navaratri. Where possible, please listen to them everyday during Navaratri and beyond

Devi Kavacham

Lalita Sahasranam

Rudram

Durga Devi Stotram 

Devi Namana Stotram 

Argala Stotram

Lakshmi Astotara 

Annapoorna Stotram

Mahishasura Mardhini Stotram

For those interested here are some of my old pieces on Navaratri – Open to corrections and credit will be given for the suggestion

  1. https://yensures.com/2015/10/11/nine-gifts-from-nava-durga/
  2. https://yensures.com/2015/10/22/navaratri-some-beliefs-practices/
  3. https://yensures.com/2015/10/22/navaratri-significance-of-colors/
  4. https://yensures.com/2015/10/22/flowers-naivedya-rangoli-colors-and-mantra-for-navaratris/