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NAMAMI BRAHMAPUTRA-BIGGEST RIVER FESTIVAL OF INDIA

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THEME SONG

… Namami Brahmaputra,

Kabhi shaant bahe kabhi rudra,

Pal pal mein ek naya chitra,

O Zindagi ke sakha

Yu he behna,

Dur hai shristi,

Brahma tere pita  …

    When the end gets nearer, life gets dearer, childhood comes closer and memories get thirstier. The song brings about wild nostalgia and takes me back in time, some 45 to 50 years when I used to sojourn in Guwahati circuit house, located near the High Court, on the banks of mighty Brahmaputra while driving down from Shillong, then capital of Assam, on my way to Kolkatta with my Parents. So, one can’t help but reminisce those wonderful times after hearing this beautiful song cranked by Mr Bachchan. I was very young then …

    I had not seen the mighty sea, but yes I was seeing the powerful Brahmputra in its shaant and rudra expanse as the song goes. The view from the circuit house was just tantalizing. Each morning as I woke up, I used to rush to the lawns and thereafter run to the railings that divided the circuit house from the long and wide embankment of the river.  As the sun rose, one could see herds of cattle flocking around the shore for water and pasture and their herdsmen, with their long crooks on their shoulders singing those folksongs, perhaps to please the rising sun. A few bare feet—bare chested Deswali milkmen too, passed my sight with their soiled dhotis tied around their slender waist. Generally in conversation, trying to describe the might of the river, while comparing it with the humble brooks in their distant village in faraway states.

    Even, when, it was hazy. From the embankment one could get a vivid view of the lush green Uma-Nandi islet, located in the centre of the river. It had tall trees and a few boats anchored around. From a distance, it appeared as a humble abode for some rural families involved in small time farming. Where, one could distinctly hear, calls of languri bandars (monkeys) coming from there, that could be heard right up to the rooms of the circuit house. The fierce flow of the river made that rhythmic splash at regular intervals, when it hit the shore, while it kept under wraps, its strong undercurrents. Something, that we humans also need to learn. To keep our raucous mood swings under check.

    All around there were hills and hillocks some tall and some not so tall. At a distance one could see a flurry of dinghies and even a couple of ferries carrying people across. By now the sun had arched up and its mirror image could be seen in the river water. The entire panorama is still so fresh in my mind as if it was captured by some high pixel camera about half a century ago.

    I jumped the railings to be on the other side of the circuit house that gave me a feel as if I had touched the river. But the flow of water was still at a distance. From here it looked blue and foamy. I walked the distance and up to the shore without anyone noticing me. Where, I dipped my hands to finally touch Brahmaputra. He was cold. Yet he was the biggest warmth around, for the civilisation. The passing herdsman yelled at me to get back, as the river had strong undercurrents. Meanwhile, his carefree children raced across to me. They appeared ace swimmers. The elder one jumped into the river and swam for a while. The others pointed their fingers towards the circuit house. ‘Yes I’m from there.’ I said. They clapped and asked for some money to buy ‘chanajor garam’ early in the morning. They were four so I gave them eight annas. And they immediately ran away, thinking, I might ask them to return the money as there was no one selling chanajor early in the morning. But soon I saw them at a close by tea stall.

    I waved and they waved back. Soon I was immersed in my own thoughts. Why are some places so beautiful and some so ugly? Why can’t fishes be out water and live with me? Why can’t I walk through the water and go to Uma-Nandi to see those langurs? Why do I need to always do, what others tell me, and not what I want to do?

    Suddenly, I could hear the voice of my Dad’s office boy. He was darting at me, finding me alone and that too on the banks of such a powerful river. The serene and enchanting morning was thus over but it had left a mark in me. I wish I could carry the mighty Brahmaputra with me in my pocket was the last thought.  

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     Namami Brahmaputra is the biggest river festival of India. It was organized across 21 districts in Assam from March 31-April 4, 2017. Brahmaputra is the only male river by name in India and the fifth most powerful river of the world with very strong undercurrents.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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THE POWER OF NATURE

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POWER OF NATURE

    Each morning as I walk up to the flowing rivulet near the small hillock that lies above my picturesque hamlet I get to feel the power of silence. Looks like everything around is trying to say something by remaining quiet. And on my way up as my steps take to the natural rhythm. It gives me a supernatural feel as if the hillock is the insurmountable head of Shiva. And the flora and fauna around are his deep rooted jatas and the rivulet is the humble adornment of Namami Gange. And where, both are in a stance to bless me and perhaps, they are also saying something when you distinctly hear the dribble upstream.

    Everything around is so very still. Is when, you get to feel, silence is the loudest explosion on earth. Very faintly at a distance you can now hear the horn of passing car that was not there earlier. Man has made mechanical inroads to most hideouts of nature. There is a chirping shemozzle that sounds like music in the bird’s camp that is only ratcheting as the dawn is broad banding. Some of them really don’t know what to do except for fluttering here and there for want of food. Few mongrels have just got up as the morning rays strike their eyes when they start stretching themselves. The flying butterflies as if have started a troupe dance to honour the morning rays of the sun. And one can indistinctly hear the mooing of the cows from the barn that only tells you that the village has woken up for the day.

    I halt to catch my breath is when I turn back. The hamlet looks much smaller than its actual size. Sights at times change even when reality doesn’t. I continue with my walk. There are no human beings here and so there is no ruckus. I’m all by myself. This is how I came and this is how I’ll go, all alone.

    I leisurely reach the top from where I get the divine view of my beloved village down below. I wonder what it must have taken Almighty to create this wonderful settlement. Perhaps even exotic creations are a small thing for him. There is a sudden drift in the direction of the breeze that only tells me to accept the ensuing change and there is no reason to feel lonely. For there is enough in nature to give you company when there is no human company around you. But you need to explore it.

    And like every day, I sit there for sometime, interacting, with my mother of all times, that is mother earth. This is where she caresses me. The intensity of which is equivalent to the intensity of the aromatic breeze that touches me all over. The shrill calls of some mynahs that have just landed there, give me a feel as if she’s trying to say you are not alone and I’m there. I feel rejuvenated. But it is time to head home now. So, I start the descent back. Where, on the way I come across a few goats and some cows as if giving me a standing ovation to my victory over loneliness. Is when I start humming the evergreen song of Kishore da … Zindagi ka safar, hai ya kaisa safar, koi samjha nahi koi jana nahi.

   (In today’s day and age loneliness is a huge social problem. It is not always possible for parents to be with their children and for children to be with their parents. But you still need to live it out and live it out grandly. So move out of your loneliness and explore the nature. For it has a cure for every life situation)

By Kamlesh Tripathi

   

   

Stone Soup

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         Once upon a time a kind old stranger was walking through the forest when he came across a village. But as he entered the village he saw something very strange. The villagers were scared and started moving towards their homes, and even closing their doors and windows.

    The stranger could not understand this behavior of the villagers. So he smiled and asked, ‘friends how come you all are so frightened of me. I’m just a traveler looking for a safe place to stay and a warm heart for a meal.’

    But the villagers looked at him apprehensively and said, ‘there’s not a bite to eat. The whole province is under famine. As a result we have not eaten and have grown weak and even our children are starving. So you better keep moving on.’

     ‘Oh! You needn’t worry. I have everything I need.’ He said. ‘In fact I was planning to make some stone soup to share with you all.’ And with that he pulled out an iron cauldron from his luggage and filled it with water and began to build a fire under it.

    Then, in a ceremonial fashion he drew an ordinary looking stone from a silken bag and dropped it in the water.

    This spread a rumour about food. When, most villagers came out of their homes or started watching from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the “broth” and started licking his lips in anticipation. Is, when, hunger started overcoming fear in the village. 

    ‘Wow! What a soup!’ said the stranger, ‘I love this tasty stone soup.’ And of course, stone soup with cabbage—is hard to beat.’

    Soon a villager approached hesitantly. He was holding a small cabbage he’d retrieved from his place of hiding and dropped it in the pot.

    ‘Wonderful!’ cried the stranger. ‘You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of mutton and believe me the dish was only fit for a king.”

    The village butcher managed to find some mutton and dropped it in the pot. And so the stranger went on and on. When, the villagers one by one dropped potatoes, onions, carrots, mushroom and some other vegetables and lentils until there was a sumptuous meal for everyone in the village to share.

    The villager elder offered the stranger a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell it and decided to continue with his travel the next day.

    But as he left, the stranger came upon a group of village children standing near the road. He gave the silken bag containing the stone to the youngest child, while whispering to the group, “It was not the stone, but the villagers that had performed the magic.” 

Moral of the story:  There is no alternative to team work and team spirit.

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     The story is based on Marcia Brown’s 1947 children’s book, Stone Soup 1947

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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A day with Dad

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    I knew for sure. This ever changing world around me will only change further. But I just didn’t know how much. Ever since you left us on this very day many years ago. I have stayed away from Lucknow. And after many years I’m home around this time. Thinking, I would sight the changing times myself. So, on this serene and dismal morning I went out for a morning walk. Pursuing, quite the same route. That, you once frequented. And it gave me a feel as if I was following the same trail that you had left behind.

     To be frank. I wasn’t surprised when I saw. The old surroundings had really sprung up to the hilt, leaving no niche for that stilly calm. The flow of river Gomti has receded and it isn’t what it used to be in your times. It has thinned down. Like the plait of an ageing lady. The chirping Gauraiyas are nowhere to be seen. And no one knows where they have gone. Did you see them by any chance? Did they come to you? Meanwhile some Gods have grown in stature but some remained where they were. The temple of Hanuman Setu has exalted both in pomp and spirits, just like you. But the small Shivalaya near the banks has only greyed. It still emanates of that salt and pepper looks. The overarching, Banyan tree there, has spread all around the Shivalay. As if, protecting, the God of the poor, residing in it. That reminded me of the days when you protected all of us.

     The chauraha has become quite psychedelic as everything out there has changed. The famous samosawalla—Phullu who had his makeshift shop in the middle of it is nowhere to be seen—the samosas are there but the walla has changed. No one knows where he has gone. Some say he is no more. One, Good Samaritan has converted her home into an institution. I wish. Many were like her.

     The chauraha gossips are no more vociferous. The morning newspapers have swapped positions and with that even the feel. From Swatantra Bharat it is now Dainik Jagran and some others. What has grossly depleted over the years is ‘time.’ People don’t have time but enough to whine. Where, morals have declined.

    Even in the faint trickle and rustle of the holy river. I could hardly hear the serenading calls of those joyous koel in the colourful months of spring. That used to be so piercing earlier. It has now been overtaken by the roar of the swarming vehicles thriving on the embankment. That sadly pollutes the vicinity, all along the scorching day. Lots of people walk up to the newly resurrected Mandirs, Ashrams and even a Masjid nearby for peace of mind. Perhaps, someday, their temples within, shall also kindle to the call of the Almighty.

    Most bright children in and around have left for good. I now only find their parents whiling away their time in obsolescence. Is when, I wonder what I got from you and what I gave to my child. If the equations are not comforting peace shall always elude me.

    So much has changed over the years. Yet a few things haven’t changed. Just as, the day and night take their turn. The sun still rises and the rain comes when it has to come. Seasons too, alternate when they have to. But more importantly the chord we struck during our lives will never ever change.

    What I continue to learn from you is, pillars should not change. But they should allow  the change.

    May, you rest in peace.

    By Kamlesh Tripathi: Homage to Babuji (K.P. Tripathi). He left us this day in 1984.

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CHANAKYA SAYS-PART 3

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CHANAKA SAYS—3

Paroshe karyahantaran pratakshya priyavadinam,

Varjayetadrishyam mitran vishwakumbham payomukham.

A friend, who talks flatteringly sweet things overtly but covertly tries to harm should be gotten rid of without any delay. He is like a pot that is filled with poison but is topped with cream to deceive.

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Na vishwaset kumitre cha mitre chasapi na viswaset,

Kadachit kupitam mitram sarv guham prakashyet.

A friend who is no good, should not be trusted and a friend who is not proven bad should also be not trusted with your secrets because he might reveal them when he is not on good terms with you.

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Mansa chintitam  karya  vacha nev prakashyet,

Mantren rakshayed goonam karya chasapi niyojayet.

What plan you have thought of in your mind, should not come on your tongue. Contemplate and rethink over it, keeping it guarded. Put the idea or plan into action without voicing it.

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Kashtam cha khalu mukhatava kashtam cha khalu yovanam,

Kashtatookasthtaram chaev pargenivasanam.

Stupidity is a woe, the youthful days are woeful, but living on other’s mercy is woe extreme.

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Shaley shaley na manikayam mokitakam na gaje gaje,

Sadhavo na he sarvatra chandanam na vane vane.

Every hill does not contain gems, every elephant has no mani-pearl on its forehead, every place is no home of nobles and every forest does not grow sandalwood trees.

Translated by Kamlesh Tripathi

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PHILOSOPHER AND THE MERCHANT’S DOG

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

    Once, a rich merchant was crossing a turbulent river in a boat along with his dog.  With him there were some other passengers also, including a philosopher. Perhaps, the unruly dog of the merchant had never sailed earlier. Therefore, it was not feeling at home, in the changing surroundings. And so, it was trying to run helter-skelter and in the process it was pushing the passengers all over. The dog obviously was scared of the unfamiliar sight around. And in the process it was not allowing anyone to even sit peacefully.

    So much so, that even the oarsmen were feeling shaky about his misdemeanours. That had unsettled all the passengers, and where, everyone was somewhat panicky. The, boatman was now beginning to fear about the dog’s rowdy movement, that was swaying the boat excessively. Where, it could have just overturned. And in the process, everyone could have drowned including the mischievous dog.

   But the dog was unfazed and remained in the state of caper and romp. The merchant therefore, was regretting having brought him and was in a state of helplessness. But, he was unable to tame it. In the meantime a passenger who happened to be a philosopher in the boat couldn’t resist.

    He walked up to the merchant and said—‘Sir, if you permit me. In a minute or so I could docile your dog. Upon, hearing this, the merchant was greatly relieved and he gave him the permission forthwith.

    The philosopher with the help of two daring passengers lifted the dog and threw him in the river. Scared, the dog started squealing on top of its voice and started swimming back, towards the boat. Soon it even started pawing the boat—as if fearing for life. The philosopher was watching the dog intently. After a little while he pulled him back to the boat. But the dog was now frightened. So he waddled to a corner of the boat and just sat down. The passengers and even the merchant were surprised at this benign behavior of the dog.

    Merchant asked the philosopher—‘my dog was earlier caper romping all over the boat. But now he stands tamed and is just sitting in one corner like a domesticated goat. How come?

     Philosopher said-

    ‘Sir, without experiencing pain, no one can imagine the agony of others. It was only when I threw him in the river. He could understand the might of the river, the utility of the boat and the struggle of the oarsmen.

     This story goes out to those ungrateful Indians. Who stay in India but keep abusing her. They too should be thrown at Pakistan. Only to realise the beauty of india.

Jaihind

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CHANAKYA NEETI-1

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SAYS CHANAKYA—1

Vishadapyamritam grahammedhyadapi kanchanam,

Nichadpayutama vidya striratnam dushkuladapi.

If there is nectar in poison, accept it. If there is precious metal or object in filth, retrieve it. If a low bred man has some good knowledge, wisdom, art or quality, imbibe it. If a woman born to a family of disrepute turns out to be a lady of high qualities, possess such a gem.

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Strinaam diguna aaharo budhisatasam chaturguna,

Sahasam shargunam chav kamoastgun uchayate.

Compared to males, the females, eat twice the amount of food, possess cleverness four times, display courage six times and have hunger for sex eight times.

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Aanratam sahasam maya murkhtavmatilubadhata,

Ashochatavam nirdayatam strinam dosha: swabhavjhaha.

Speaking falsehood—starting a work without any due diligence or thought, daredevilry, deceitful behavior, foolish acts, greed, impurity and cruelty. These are things, basic to the nature of women.

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Bhojayam bhojanshaktitascha ratishaktivarragna,

Vibhavo danshaktishcha naslapasya tapas: phalam.

Only great penance can earn one: Rich food to eat and a good digestive power to dispose it—A beautiful woman, for a wife and the virility to ravish her—and riches with charitable disposition to use the money for good causes.

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Yasya putro vashiibhooto bharya chandasnugaamini,

Vibhave yashcha santushtsatasya swarg eihev he.

This very earth is heaven for one whose son is obedient. The wife is faithful and whose own heart is content with whatever money he has.

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Te putra yepiturbhakta sa pita yastu poshakah,

Tanmitram yasya vishwasahah: sa bharya yatra nirvrati.

True son is the one who is obedient to his father. A true father is the one who looks after his sons. Similarly, true friend is the one who is trustworthy and true wife is one who makes her husband happy.

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Translated by Kamlesh Tripathi