Varaha Mihira

Varaha Mihira, the father of astrology, wrote several important works like Brhat Jataka, Brhat Samhita, Yoga Yatra, Panca Siddhantika (on astronomy) and Prasna Vallabha (apocryphal) The date of Varaha Mihira is controversial, some say circa 100 BC others 500 AD.Mihira was one of the Nine Gems, navaratna, in the court of the great king, Vikramaditya of Ujjain. I just admire Varaha Mihira, and its nothing related to the blogs i am posting here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

OBC Reservations: View of Prof. M. Balakrishnan, IIT Delhi

OBC Reservations: View of Prof. M. Balakrishnan, IIT Delhi
Nearly six decades after independence, this country is planning to announce that majority of its population is backward and does not have equal opportunity to pursue education and employment. Along with this, it is going to open up a Pandora's Box by various caste groups to be classified as "backward". What an interesting way to begin the 21st century when finally India was beginning to emerge as a serious player in the new knowledge economy! The major carrot that is being doled out is the seats in the elite medical, engineering and management Institutes. What bothers me is no one is interested in even consulting the people who have built these Institutions and brought them to this stature. I have strong views on efficacy of reservations in general but here I would confine myself to the issues concerning IITs. At least here with my three decade long association, I can claim to know something. Many of these arguments may be applicable to the other elite Institutions in medical and management disciplines as well.

Today IITs are considered excellent educational institutions. There is a countrywide scramble to get into these with many students spending the best part of their teen years in preparing for its entrance examinations. This should not be confused with ranking of universities where just a couple of IITs make it in the top 500. These rankings deal primarily with the research output and not with the quality of undergraduate education. I can confidently say that any ranking of quality of undergraduate engineers produced would put IITs in the top 20 worldwide if not in the top 10. And it is this achievement that is going to be hard to maintain with the proposed reservations policy. Before we go any further, it would be best to examine how this excellence has been achieved.

The fundamental contribution that the Central Government has made to these institutions is in generous funding (by Indian, not global standards) combined with unmatched autonomy. The main point of engagement between the Government and these Institutions has been through the appointment of Directors. Except for a brief period during the last administration, the Governments had refrained from any major politicking in these appointments. They have by and large appointed the best available applicant Professor from the same or another IIT for the job. These venerable people had themselves a great pride in these Institutions and have ran the Institutes with the best of their abilities (maybe not always efficiently but always fairly) without major vested interest.

For someone outside IITs to understand the power of this position is not easy. The Director virtually appoints the complete senior administration including the deputy directors and deans, chairs all the faculty selections including that for the Professors, is the chairman of the senate and thus the academic head, is the financial head and also the administrative head. For most people living in the campus, which includes 90% of faculty and students, he is also the chairman of the local municipality (all major complaints on water, electricity, sewage etc. would reach him). This ensures that the buck almost always stops with him and thus decision making is unavoidable. This autonomy that has been the hallmark of these institutions is being eroded. There were attempts in the last Government (fortunately not vigorously pursued) to tell IITs what to teach. The present decision would strike at the fundamentals of IITs as the Government no longer feels whom to teach and how many to teach is best decided by these Institutions themselves. This in my opinion is the most dangerous fallout as it strikes at the very core of the success of these Institutions. Once the lines of control gets blurred, there would be no stopping, as today's political functioning is clearly not dictated by long term vision. Soon we could have reservations in faculty and create a caste based patronage system which has destroyed many of the once excellent state universities.

In IITs, the faculty selected and promoted solely based on merit has maintained a high standard of ethical behavior, have taken their teaching and research seriously, refrained from politicking themselves and supported the Institute in many ways to fulfill its commitments. Who are these faculty members? A large number are our own alumni (undergraduates as well as postgraduates), majority of them have studied or conducted research in the west and almost all of them have had opportunities of pursuing financially much more lucrative careers in India and abroad. Thus each faculty member is here by choice and he/she has exercised that choice with one major attraction - opportunity to teach, interact and work with extremely bright students perhaps unmatched anywhere. It is this attraction that is being tampered with. In a situation where all IITs are short of faculty and desperately trying to innovate to attract faculty under the constraints of the pay commission dictated salaries (while competing with Sensex based salaries), this is not a pleasant development.

IITs have had reservations for SC/STs for decades. Why would this be different? Aren't these students likely to be better prepared than the students admitted under the existing reserved category? Here I would like to share some of the facts with the readers. IITs have been admitting SC/ST students for years under two modes. From the general category, a significantly lower JEE cutoff is decided and reserved category students scoring above this cutoff are admitted directly to the UG programmes. Another still lower cutoff is decided and reserved category students from this set are admitted to a one year preparatory course conducted by IITs themselves. After passing this course, they can join the programmes without having to appear in JEE again. Even this exercise collectively yields less than 15% in IIT Delhi though the quota amounts to nearly 22.5%. Half of the reserved category students manage to clear courses comfortably while the other half struggle on the margins. What would be called a good performance (cumulative grade point average or CGPA of 8 and above) and is achieved by nearly forty percent of general category students, is rare and occurs once in many years among the reserved category students. It is not that all general category students do well. There is nearly a 5% "dropout" rate even among them which is a cause of concern but mainly attributed to the burnout due to JEE preparation phase. The "dropout" students have no effect on teaching as they neither are regular nor make their presence felt in classes. The remaining part of weak students is too small and at present hardly any instructor would pitch his / her course at that level. On the other hand, the present policy may introduce a large band of weak students which no instructor can ignore. This would definitely result in drop in the quality of education. It is the hypocrisy of the highest order that on one hand the reservation for SC/STs is considered a success and quoted for extension to OBCs, and on the other hand, no hard data on the performance of these students is available in the public domain. Some administrators I talked to consider this data as sensitive! Analysis of where the reserved category students go after graduation would be enlightening. I do not have the sensitive data but my experience shows that most of them either go to services like IAS/IES or to the public sector companies. Normally this choice of careers by IIT graduates should be a matter of satisfaction except that both these entries are again using the reservation quota. Is it empowerment or crutches for life?

In this whole episode, the most stunning news for me was when the Hon'ble minister announced increase in intake to compensate for the reservations. This would amount to nearly 56% overall increase in undergraduate intake in the IITs. This showed complete ignorance of what makes IIT undergraduate education tick. There are few Institutions in the world where undergraduate students get to interact one to one and so freely with such high-caliber faculty. Students are advised on courses in small groups, interact over hostel dinners, go on industrial trips and finally carry out a well supervised project. Every undergraduate student does an intensive "novel" project either individually or in groups of two and he/she is effectively "supervised" by a faculty member. Many of them result in publications. This system evolved when the student-faculty ratio was 6:1 and is getting strained at the seams when it has reached 12:1. In some disciplines like Computer Sciences and Electrical Engineering where market competition is heavy, it has already gone to 20:1 and above. Though currently producing excellent results, it is a highly non-scalable mechanism. Intake increase on this scale, when effectively faculty strengths in key areas are decreasing could sound a death-knell to one of our few international brand names. I have a poser for Prof. Jayati Ghosh, my well renowned colleague from JNU and a member of the knowledge commission. She has justified reservations in IITs based on the poor ranking of IITs internationally. Her argument is anyway these Institutions are not great, why they should crib about the quality of intake. She nowhere states that any of the 400+ odd Institutions worldwide which are ranked above IITs have achieved their status through reservations. In that case all Tamil Nadu Engineering Colleges with 69% reservation for decades (openly defying the Supreme Court suggested norm of 50%) now should be at the top.

Postscript: Finally, I would like to seek opinion on the composition of our next Olympics team. We have admittedly done much poorer in sports than education. Should our next Olympics team be chosen on caste basis or perhaps with adequate representation to athletes aged 40+ who are at present completely unrepresented? After all we do not have much to lose as we only win one bronze medal in alternate Olympics. I would no longer be surprised if some future Sports Minister considers caste based quotas for our national cricket team. After all that would be worth a few votes and the nation would have been well prepared by then to cheer only for its own caste brethren!

The author is a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at IIT Delhi. He has been with IIT Delhi since 1977 except for a three year stint outside India. Currently he is on Sabbatical and working with a startup. The views represented here are completely his own.

M. Balakrishnan (
5, Taxila Apartments
IIT Delhi Campus,
New Delhi - 110016

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tajmahal hidden truth

BBC says about Taj Mahal---Hidden Truth - Never say it is a Tomb


No one has ever challenged it except Prof. P. N.Oak, who believes the whole world has been duped. In his book Taj Mahal:The True Story, Oak says the Taj Mahal is not Queen Mumtaz's tomb but an ancient Hindu temple palace of Lord Shiva (then known as Tejo Mahalaya). In the course of his research Oak discovered that the Shiva temple palace was usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai Singh. In his own court chronicle,Badshahnama,Shah Jahan admits that an exceptionally beautiful grand mansion in Agra was taken from Jai SIngh for Mumtaz's burial. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur still retains in his secret collection two orders from Shah Jahan for surrendering the Taj building. Using captured temples and mansions, as a burial place for dead courtiers and royalty was a common practice among Muslim rulers.

For example, Humayun,Akbar, Etmud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung are all buried in such mansions. Oak's inquiries began with the name of Taj Mahal. He says the term "Mahal" has never been used for a building in any Muslim countries from Afghanisthan to Algeria. "The unusual explanation that the term Taj Mahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal was illogical in atleast two respects.

Firstly, her name was never Mumtaz Mahal but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani," he writes. Secondly, one cannot omit the first three letters 'Mum' from a woman's name to derive the remainder as the name for the building."Taj Mahal, he claims, is a corrupt version of Tejo Mahalaya, or Lord Shiva's Palace. Oak also says the love story of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan is a fairy tale created by court sycophants, blundering historians and sloppy archaeologists. Not a single royal chronicle of Shah Jahan's time corroborates the love story.

Furthermore, Oak cites several documents suggesting the Taj Mahal predates Shah Jahan's era, and was a temple dedicated to Shiva, worshipped by Rajputs of Agra city. For example, Prof. Marvin Miller of New York took a few samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj. Carbon dating tests revealed that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan.
European traveler Johan Albert Mandelslo,who visited Agra in 1638 (only seven years after Mumtaz's death), describes the life of the cit y in his memoirs. But he makes no reference to the Taj Mahal being built. The writings of Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz's death, also suggest the Taj was a noteworthy building well before Shah Jahan's time.

Prof. Oak points out a number of design and architectural inconsistencies that support the belief of the Taj Mahal being a typical Hindu temple rather than a mausoleum. Many rooms in the Taj ! Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan's time and are still inaccessible to the public. Oak asserts they contain a headless statue of Lord Shiva and other objects commonly used for worship rituals in Hindu temples.
Fearing political backlash, Indira Gandhi's government tried to have Prof. Oak's book withdrawn from the bookstores, and threatened the Indian publisher of the first edition dire consequences. There is only one way to discredit or validate Oak's research.

The current government should open the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal under U.N. supervision, and let international experts investigate.

Do circulate this to all you know and let them know about this reality.....

Hey please check this link adds as a visual proof.........

This site the BBC's view on the Taj Mahal and briefly explains both sides of the story that maybe Shah Jahan built the Taj and maybe he didn't.

Thank You

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The 18 Siddhas

The word "siddha" is derived from the word "chitta," a Siddha is essentially a perfected being. The chitta is the mind-stuff which lingers around the innermost self and percolates through the sheaths surrounding the self. Patanjali has stated in Raja Yoga Sutras that Yoga consists of cleansing the chitta. He is referring to the release of the unconscious memories, thought forms, sense of separateness from the inner divine self, and the erroneous conception that the being is actually the external ego and associated consciousness. These limited “memories” and inaccurate aspects of the mind-stuff have often been stored for lifetimes in the subtle space of self (akash). Here the reference to “memories” is made even though the mind-stuff is not remembered by the external self. It is the mind-stuff that interferes with the Divine will manifesting from soul (atman) in an individual and drives the actions of the external being into areas that are not consistent with Divine will. As an individual begins to be liberated from the influence of the mind-stuff, the divine attributes of the atman or self manifest in the very subtle sheath of bliss (Anandamaya kosham) that surrounds the atman. When the transformation of that very subtle part of the being has been given fully to the divine, the individual becomes literally a beacon of bliss-light. Simply being in the presence of such a being is uplifting. Such an elevated individual is often acknowledged by a conscious or spiritual community as a saint. When you look into the eyes of such a being, you will feel the depth of bliss and peace and be blessed and gradually transformed. The divine can initiate a sincere aspirant through such means.The transformation of the bliss sheath, however, does not occur in a vacuum. Anyone whose spiritual practices have thus resulted in the awareness of the Divine working through them has already begun the transformational process and surrendering of the sheath of the intellect (Vinjnanamaya Kosham). When the analytical or intellectual component of the being is fully informed by the divine light attributes we may (through Divine Grace) be in a position to recognize such a being as the sage that they are. Such an individual is truly a “muni” or one who has had their accumulated experiences and knowledge enlightened by the higher, deeper aspects of self. When the transformation of the intellect is complete the speech and communication skills are highly evolved and express a consciousness which is focused, penetrating, broad and vast. It is a misconception to think that such persons are clones of each other. The Divine essence manifests with variety in the intellect of every soul not only because the external experiences vary, but also because of the unique qualities that are inherent in the deepest part of the being, the atman. It is said that no one is a muni who has no independent opinion of their own. Such a sage has digested and integrated the informed divine light into the analytical aspects of the being.As the intellect undergoes this transformation, the mental sheath (manomaya Kosham), associated with the senses, is similarly transformed. This is, of course, an individual who is fully aware of the Divine as the prime mover. Since the ego has been given to the Divine, every action related to the senses is observed and understood to be none other than the indwelling god or goddess doing the experiencing and enjoying. Such a Buddha can enjoy all the senses without fear of confusion or being lost spiritually in them. For the great tantrics who have attained to this state, conventional rules which guide and provide stability, safety and structure to society are irrelevant. As the divine light descends into the sheath of energy (pranamaya kosham) the entity becomes a siddha in the truest sense of the word. As defined in the upanishads, A siddha is one who has progressed from the exalted state of freed while living (jivanmukta) to supremely free with full power over death (para mukta). This state is referred to in Siddhantha literature as soruba mukti or soruba samadhi. This para mukta will rarely retain the transformed physical frame and when so, remains as an avatar. The physical body (Ananda Maya Kosham) of the siddha glows with the fire of immortality. The transformation of the physical plane is rare indeed, even among the celestial siddhas. An accurate rendering on the life of such a siddha is precisely as difficult as reducing the cosmic to a rule. The divine is to be experienced, not expressed, and the mystic greatness of a saint, sage, or siddha lies not on the surface for men to see. It is clear that these siddhas have, and continue to guide the advance of consciousness on our planet and elsewhere. Humanity truly owes a deep dept of gratitude to these God-Men, of which 18 are acknowledged as the greatest. The climax of the siddha tradition is the immortal Himalayan Kriya master, Babaji Nagaraj.

The 18 Siddhas

Sri Patanjali Siddhar(1st)
Sri Agathiyar(2nd)
Sri Kamalamuni(3rd)
Sri Tirumoolar(4th)
Sri Kudumbai (5th)
Sri Goraknath (6th)
Sri Danvanthari (7th)
Sri Sundaranundar(8th)
Sri Konkanavar (9th)
Sri Sattamuni(10th)
Sri Valmiki(11th)
Sri Rama Devar(12th)
Sri Nandi Devar(13th)
Sri Idai Kadar(14th)
Sri Machamuni(15th)
Sri Karuvoorar(16th)
Sri Boganathar(17th)
Sri Paambati(18th)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

some words about Varaha Mihira

The Vedas are the foremost among all ancient books. All the classics ofthe world have been born out of the Vedas. The root verb of the word‘Veda’ is ‘vid’ meaning knowledge. Through the classics of Indianastrology, one can easily acquire knowledge about God while learningabout living beings. For this reason, astrology is considered to be theeyes of the Vedas. Thousands of years ago, the Saints who wereknowledgeable about the past, the present and the future, through thepower of their meditation and yoga, have described in detail in theirastrological classics the characteristics, features, appearance andnature of the planets and their auspicious and inauspicious effects onthe living and non living world. The depiction of the position ofplanets in the zodiac at the time and place of a person’s birth iscalled the Janma Kundali or the Horoscope.Varaha Mihira, he is the father of Astrology.He wrote many books abt astrology
The importance of Varaha Mihira warrants a brief biographical sketch. The date of Varaha Mihira is controversial, some say circa 100 BC others 500 AD. The date is unimportant for presenting an episode from his biography. The following adumbration from Life of Varaha Mihira, by Suryanarian Rao gives many salient qualities of Varaha Mihira.
Mihira was a Brahmana, the son of Aditya Dasa, from the region of Avanti, near present day Ujjain, in Western India. He was instructed in astrology by his father and was a devout worshipper of Surya Narayana, that is, Krsna who manifests as the Sun. By performing severe austerities to please Surya Narayana, Mihira got blessed with knowledge of ganita, hora, and samhita.
Mihira was one of the Nine Gems, navaratna, in the court of the great king, Vikramaditya of Ujjain. He was greatly honored by the king for his vast learning and correct predictions. Once, after the birth of the King's son Mihira was asked to make predictions about the prince's future. Going into meditation after studying the chart Mihira "observed that a serious and irremediable danger beset the path of the longevity of the royal child and that he would be killed by a varaha, or boar, on a particular day in a certain month of his 18th year and no human remedies could save the prince from the jaws of death."
Having learnt of this danger to his son from his most reliable of court astrologers, Vikramaditya consulted with Bhatti, his Chief Minister. It was decided that a special palace would be constructed with stupendous walls 80 feet high. Ten thousand elite troops would patrol both inside and outside the property as well as in the palace. Such careful watch was taken of the palace that not even a cat or rat could enter the compound what to speak of a wild boar. Every precaution was taken and the prince was under constant guard and practically under house arrest, he was not allowed to leave his compound for any reason. In fact he was ensconced on the seventh floor and not allowed to go to a lower floor. The precautions were so thorough that they boasted that the prince may die but certainly not by the agency of a varaha.
After such security measures were put into place Mihira was asked if he would like to reconsider his former prediction. He emphatically stated that there was nothing that could save the boy. As the date grew near he was again asked to reconsider, and again gave the same reply. Tension began to mount, not so much for the sake of the boy but for the reputation of Mihira. His detractors thought that Mihira's reputation exceeded his ability, and though the boy might die, the possibility of it be caused by a boar was so remote that Mihira would be publicly disgraced. Even his friends, who had implicit faith in him and knew of his great abilities, had doubts as to how his prediction would be successful, because it was impossible for even a rat to move about undetected in that palace.
On the fateful day Vikramaditya held court. Reports were brought to him every hour on the safety and health of the Prince, now 18 years old. All the chief pandits were assembled as well as the navaratnas, the nine greatly learned men, of the King's court. The whole city was waiting for the result of Mihira's prediction. Would it come true or not? The time of death had been fixed at 5:00 PM in the afternoon. The King, though a great admirer of Mihira, was beginning to doubt Mihira's abilities. With a condescending smile he addressed Mihira, did he still want to maintain his previous prediction that the boy should be killed by a wild boar this afternoon. Did any new calculation possibly change his mind, would the child just die, this was possible, but death by a wild boar would be impossible. The King suggested that Mihira gracefully back down from his former stance, without losing face. The King vowed that if the impossible happened he would give Mihira the highest honor and bestow on him the golden and be-jeweled Royal ensign or emblem, the Varaha, wild boar, that was currently on his crown and transfer it to Mihira's head-dress and that for posterity he would henceforth be given the title Varaha Mihira. Everyone applauded the King.
All eyes focused on Mihira. He rose and gave a speech in which he deprecated his own learning, that unfortunately no great rishis such as Vasishta were present to reverse the karma of the Prince. He took a vow that if his prediction failed he would never practice astrology again, he would never enter the court of the king, and indeed, would leave Ujjain altogether and go deep into the forest to practice tapasya, austerities, till his last day. But Mihira stated that indeed the death would come true as predicted, there could be no thwarting of fate and the Prince would be killed by a boar. He then calmly sat down.
In the afternoon at 2:00 PM the King again convened his court. Senior military commanders came every half hour with news of the Prince. He was hale and hearty. Everything was going smoothly. The King had given orders that the guard be on the highest alert and was confident that no harm could befall his son. But Mihiracarya was totally calm, how could this be so, in only a few hours his prediction would be proven wrong, yet he was still placid. Time went on, a half hour after the appointed time of death a guard reported that there was no disturbance in the Prince's palace. Mihira calmly told the King that the boy had already died at the appointed time and they should go see for themselves. Just then another guard came to report that all was still peaceful in the palace. On the way to the palace other guards confirmed that all was quite and calm at the palace. It was now about 6:00 PM and the King told Mihira that his prediction must have been wrong because nothing at all wrong had been reported, he couldn't believe that his officers were liars.
Mihira replied: "Victorious Monarch! the prince has died at the hour, minute, and second, I have named and none of your watchmen has noticed it. It is a sad event no doubt but it has happened and your son is lying dead in a pool of blood, unnoticed by his watchmen and personal companions, and you will see the truth of my prediction. Let us go and examine."
On entering the palace they noticed on every floor that peace and calm prevailed. On the 7th floor they found a dozen or so of the Prince's friends engaged in assorted games such as chess. When the Emperor made inquiries about the Prince, they all replied that he had been playing with them a little while ago and that he was quite hale and hearty and that he had just gone out to take some air on the open terrace of the 7th floor.
Mihira said: "The Prince must be lying dead in a pool of blood caused by the injuries of a boar, and if you go to the terrace you will be shocked to find him dead as predicted by me. This wonderful prediction is not mine. My knowledge is too humble and too limited to make such inconceivable and surprising predictions. I have made all my predictions under the guidance of Surya Narayana. Could such predictions inspired under His grace ever fail?"
They all went to the terrace and saw with horror and sorrow the Prince lying dead on a cot in pool of blood. He was disfigured by the iron hooves of the artificial boar-the Royal Emblem-that was attached to the flag staff. Everyone was thrown into simultaneous gloom and ecstasy by the successful prediction. Vikramaditya awarded Mihira with the Royal Emblem and he was hence forth called Varaha Mihira.
The Prince's death had transpired in the following way. At about 4:00 PM, the Prince, who had been playing with his friends, began to feel a sort of oppression in his chest and giving over his cards to a nearby friend asked him to play in his place. He then rose without complaint and went out to the terrace. A tall flag staff, emblem of Royalty, rose high in the air, it had an artificial boar attached to its top.
As this emblem of royalty was affixed to all important turrets and towers of all the Emperor's palaces no one took any notice of them. Near the flag staff was a cot with soft cushions for the Prince to take rest whenever he felt fatigued. The Prince feeling tired while playing games with his friends came to lay down in the cool air. At 5:00 PM precisely, a very strong gust of wind knocked loose the iron boar. This fell down onto the Prince who was lying on his back. The hooves struck severely against his breast and stomach and the tusks struck his head and mouth. The Prince lost copious amounts of blood and died immediately. The mattress on the cot absorbed the sound of the crash so no one heard it fall. And as the Prince would often go to the terrace, and as the game was very absorbing, no one noticed the Prince's absence.
Spiritual Life the Root of Accurate Predictions
This incident from the life of Varaha Mihira shows the great accuracy that can be attained in astrology if the astrologer is properly trained and performs his spiritual practice and gets the divine blessings. Varaha Mihira lived to be 80 years old, there are many other histories involving him. His son Prithuyashas, was also a great astrologer. His son wrote Horasara, a important classic in natal astrology, and Shatpancashika, a text on Prasna. Varaha Mihira was very terse in his own writings, but Horasara is meant to give more explanation of what Varaha Mihira was teaching.
Rao, Suryanarian, 1987, 3rd edition, Life of Varaha Mihira, Bangalore, India.

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Nehruji's View on Reservation

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