Five Reasons to Live NOW and HERE

  1. Each new day has its own energy. You can create beautiful and past and pleasant future by living through the present happily.
  2. Replace worry with contentment. Is not great that, presently, you live, are healthy, have amicable relationships and meaningful work?
  3. Know thy self. Our requirements, our dreams and our fields of interest undergo continual changes. By living in the present, you can be nearer to your self.
  4. You can be fuller of love, by living in the present. You will be keen to spend more focused time with those you love.
  5. You have only one life to live and you have only the present time slot rightfully with you. It is up to you to make it a blessing or a bliss.

“Live happily and heartily right now and let the future usher in own its own. “ – Greek Philosopher

The flowers that bloomed today

Spreading the sweet fragrance

Merrily playing atop the bunch of leaves

Are yours.

You may not comprehend

But they will for the day only.

And even if you do,

They will ingrain with the earth by the evening.

Only you can be the destiny

Of yourself and your flowers.

-       Translated excerpt of the article by Sonal Parikh – ‘Whatever it is, this is the moment’ /’જો ભી હૈ, બસ યહી એક પલ હૈ’ –  in the column ‘Reflections’ of Janmabhoomi Pravasi of 12th March’2012.

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The Boat That Sails on Rapids — From Dr. Darshana Dholakia’s ‘A Festival of Relationships’ (‘પરિચયપર્વ’)

[‘A Festival of Relationships’ (‘પરિચયપર્વ’) is a bouquet of introductory pen-portraits.  The book is an anthology of short characterizations of great personalities, close relatives and friends, distilled from subtle observations of their lives made by the author.]

To name my relationship with this individual, she is my elder sister. Her name is Kunjalata Anjaria, the only daughter of my father’s sister. I came to know that our fathers were different only when her father passed away. I was seven years old then. That realization was shocking indeed!

The reason for her intense intimacy with her younger sister was the fact that she had spent her childhood with my grandmother [my father’s mother and her mother’s mother]. She had lost her mother at an age of two-and-a-half years.  Her childhood commenced under the shelter of her widowed grandmother and her uncle [mother’s brother]. Her widower father’s stream of silent love kept flowing in the background. Even this so-called happiness of hers would last only until she turned nine, when the cruel hand of death took away her grandmother. Her second major support was now no more. She was now to seek a fresh shelter – at her uncle’s place (father’s brother).

My father also married during that period. My mother’s first footsteps in our home were in the role of an aunt to my sister [wife of mother’s brother]. The aunt- niece relationship, oft-discussed and much-maligned in our society and folklore, was to flourish on an altogether different note here. My mother’s strong bond with my father extended to my father’s favorite, and it was retained until her own death.

Please note that we are looking back 60+ years in history. Child marriages were quite common and my sister had had no other support. The family decided to marry her at the tender age of fourteen. So, her life was now tied to that of a scion of a family with a good name and position in society. A light now beamed on her life, the glow of which I have observed from a distance, in the form of still memories preserved in a bunch of letters written by her husband, then studying at Jamia Milia University, tucked away in her closed box. Would I ever dare to look at those letters! Her blissful married life of just 13 years expanded with the birth of two priceless gems of children. But, her husband’s cancer engulfed my sister’s life between 14 to 27 years in its fold.

Once again the solitary journey commenced. Her companions were: a resolute father – a student of Maharshi Arvind during his teaching years; a strong uncle [mother’s brother]; an affectionate aunt [wife of her mother’s brother] and two loving elder brothers. She had to struggle through the rough sea of life with only these rafts for support. What hardships a widow in a period 45+years in the past had to live through! A black-out of one year, life literally written off! You are left alone to cope with your loneliness. Only those who can ‘see’ the silent sobs hidden behind the veil can really imagine the anguish. This suffering is absolutely personal, with no one to share it – to find answers to unanswered questions that could be read in the eyes of an eight-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter, and to encounter numerous [social and economic] problems!

However, the flower of my sister’s life kept blossoming and spreading its fragrance in the midst of these storms of life, on the strength of her inner sensitivity. The broad-minded father supported her in continuing her studies, disregarding any ‘ism’. He made her go through a teachers’ training course, known as B.T. in those days, to enable her to stand on her own. He accompanied her wherever she had to go in pursuit of these studies. What other economic benefits would this elder member of a middle-class Nagar family have? He had a paltry pension income which he would hand over in totality to her, with the complete consent of his elder sons. The sister and her family were totally subsumed in the brothers’ own large families! The brothers’ homes would resound with joyful voices of children of the brothers and the sister during the summer vacations, and everyone would forget who was a child of whom.

Years later, the sister having done well financially, when she returned the whole of her father’s pension amount to her elder brother in the form of a cheque of Rs. 6,000, it became extremely difficult for the large-hearted brother, despite living in middle-class circumstances, to accept it! These were sweet dilemmas and difficult tests arising from the extraordinary values inculcated by the teacher-father of ordinary means!

No sooner could she stand on her own financially, than she initiated her independent life in a one-and-a-half room house. These days – with a meager salary, children’s’ education, six hours on the job – could pass only with help from a caring mother-in-law, a lively neighborhood and the warmth of an old, affectionate housemaid who did the housework for several years. She underwent a lot of internal and external struggle to ensure that the bright career of the children was not impaired by the adversities of her present life.  The virtue of detachment, inherited from her father, helped her in not getting infatuated with the success of her distinctive children. Her bright daughter was a student at the very school where she was a teacher. And yet, the staff, always praising the daughter, would know only much later that their favorite student was the daughter of their senior colleague!

Financial conditions were tight even when the son had to go away for higher education. But his enlightened professors could see the boy’s mettle and readily supported him. He had to share the burden of domestic chores of the houses of his relatives where he stayed during the period of his higher education. Once the son was fed up of this tiring routine and wrote a complaining letter to the mother, to which she replied with advice to take such difficulties in his stride, and with a stern warning not to write to her with such complaints again! As the young daughter of sixteen was to leave for higher studies, the first time away from home and from a lone mother, as her eyes moistened with tears of the sorrow of parting, the mother is known to have said: “What’s this? Such softness while you are going to pursue studies? If that’s what you want to do, get down from the bus!”

I have not seen my sister’s happiness wither through her untimely widowhood, tight finances or the vagaries of social life. Her equally caring behavior towards all her students made her attractive to them. Her presence was always most sought after in the staff room. Many of her colleagues gratefully remember her help in finding solutions to their knotty personal problems. Her capability to reach beyond herself, in spite of her own adverse circumstances, was always a matter of surprise to all. She used to be the life of the neighborhood as well. Only she could comprehend my loneliness at my father’s demise, when I was five. She would take me along to her home every night. There, I would be surrounded with children of all ages. Her mother-in-law would serve me my favorite dishes. At night, the Shiva Mahimna Stotra would be recited. Everyone would be made fun of, we would play games, and I would be recharged to the brim.

At the foundation of all this was the nest of love she had built with all. There was shelter for everyone there – a shelter offered by someone who was herself without shelter!

Circumstances continued to change and my sister’s effort bore fruit, transforming the adversities of life into pleasures.  She traveled across the nation and the world with her son, who was scaling one peak of success after another. Life’s happiness, so-called, was now hers. The sense of duty and love of the son, the daughter and the daughter-in-law was exemplary. But instead of resting on her laurels, her feet remained rooted to the ground – with the help of that detachment of hers.  When I see my sister, now eighty-six, stand erect, I wonder whence she got her life-affirming nature, what juices enriched the soil on which this tree grew? From a sister who wrote letters in her pearl-like handwriting,  was the first to wish on every family member’s birthday, had a treasure trove of interesting talk that could not end for nights together, I do not recall hearing a single memory of those lonely nights and exhausting days. When, as she was recuperating from a recent major surgery and from a painful illness of five years, I saw pleasure win over pain in her beaming face, I could not help but ask her: “How have you been able to bear all of this pain?”. She was momentarily lost in the past, and then replied, “I am contented today. My grandmother [her mother’s mother and my father’s mother] used to say when I was a child, ’This girl will be able to endure all pain. She will never be unhappy.’  I think I have been able to live up to her faith, with God’s grace. I have never formed strong likes or dislikes. I can quickly decipher ways to be at peace under all circumstances.

My sister has played several roles in our lives: mother to her children; sister-in law; my sister; loving teacher to her students; house-owner to someone and neighbor to others – but all roles have been enacted with equal all-encompassing élan.

When someone asks me today, alluding to the above, “Is Kunjalataben your sister?” and in response to my affirmative reply, I  see on their faces the feeling that I have received a better bargain from nature, this relationship of mine seems like a festival of life to me.

[Pages: 197; Price Rs.80/-, Publisher: Gurjar Prakashan, Opp. Ratanapole Junction, Gandhi Road, Ahmedabad 380001; Phone: +91-79 22144663; E-mail: goorjar@yahho.com]

URL to article: http://www.readgujarati.com/2011/08/04/hodi-tejtarape/

  • Translated by: Ashok Vaishnav
  •         Edited by: Tadatmya Vaishnav <tavaishnav@gmail.com>
Posted in પરિચયપર્વ, Dr. Darshana Dholakia's Writings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Old is Kutch – Translation of Chapter ‘કચ્છ કેટલું જૂનું?’

More you know Kutch, more you appreciate its historical and ancestral perspective. We come across several instances of Kutch as we delve deeper into the history.  This goes on to show that Kutch was known across the world since the ancient times. Since the reference list is likely to be too lengthy, we would take a snap view here.

Kutch is a Sanskrit word, equivalent to tortoise in English. Even as the name is derived from its geographical shape, the Indian mythological epic, ‘Bhagwat’, describes one incarnation of Lord Vishnu as ‘Kacchap’, thereby adding religious ancestral sanctity to the nomenclature.

Kutch also gets a mention in ‘Vaayupuraan’ along with other regions, as: ‘Bhanu-Kutch, Saraswat, Kutch, Surashtra and Aanart – are the regions near river Narmada, having linkages to the hilly region of Abu’.

Indian Mythology refers to Narayan Sarovar as one of the  four major lakes of ancient India. It is said that sages used to practice their penance here.

Poet Kalidas has also referred Kutch in the description of the passage to Alkapuri in Meghdoot (કન્દલીશ્યાનુ કચ્છમ).

Kutch is also discussed in Amar Kosh as well as in ‘Paanini Ashtaadhyayi’.

The jain epic ‘Bhagwat Sutra’ states that: ‘The region surrounded by river waters and having trees, is Kutch.’

The review of literatures reveals that Ram, Laxaman and Sita seem to have travelled to Narayan Sarovar during their forest-sojourn. Places known as, Well-of-Ram, Garden-of-Sita, Cave-of-Ram, Cave-of-Laxman, still exist. It is also believed that temple of Koteshwar is built on multi-crore fragments of Shiva-Statue, ostensibly broken up when Ravana placed it on the ground near Narayan Sarovar during his return journey.

It is also believed that Pandavs of Mahabharat had stayed at ’Gedi’, near Rapar, during their last incognito year of the exile to the forests. A place known as ‘Bhim-gudo’ exists even now in that region.

Megesthanis also refers Kutch as Isle-of-Abyss. It is also believed that King Alexander had passed through Kutch in his return journey. Plin, the first century B.C. traveler, has described Kutchis as ‘odumbary’. Bactrian writer Strubo describes Kutch as ‘Crown Nation’, probably on the basis of which Moghul historian Abul Fazal mentions Kutch as “the Shining Crown’

Tolumi, Periplus, stone-writings of Xatraps, Hue-en -Sang also refer to Kutch.

All these go on to demonstrate that Kutch is ancient and has existed ever since.

— Translation of Chapter ‘કચ્છ કેટલું જૂનું?’ @ pages # 72-73

                                            From the book: “કચ્છઃ વિહંગાવલોકન”

First Edition: July 2011

Author: Haresh Dholakia          hareshdholakia@yahoo.com

Publishers: Goorjar Granthratna Karyalay      goorjar@yahoo.com

ISBN 987 -81-8480-596-3

Posted in Haresh Dholakia's Writings, Kutchh: Bird’s Eye view | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Synthesis of Rainbow and Music in mud-grey Rann — Translation of Chapter ‘ભૂખરા રણમાં મેઘધનુષ્ય અને સંગીતનો સમન્વય’

A rural temple in the middle of the Rann of Ku...

Image via Wikipedia

Rann – the desert.

On hearing the word desert, images of huge sand dunes fill up our minds. Winds start blowing suddenly, causing sands to fly-off and shift the dunes. The sandstorm fills up the skyline, hiding the sun. You lose the sense of direction, thoroughly confused. You’re gone for good, if you are lost! The annoying wandering! The picturesque looking Rann turns out to be quite dangerous, if you err so slightly!

Rann of Kutch!

Well, why add one full word – Of Kutch! I Isn’t a desert the desert, be it that of Kutch or Rajasthan or Sahara. A Desert has to be, the desert, beautiful and dangerous. What a sheer wastage of one sentence!

This is where you are mistaken. Rann of Kutch is temperamentally different from other deserts of the world. It does not bear any characteristics of the desert, neither sand-dunes nor oases. It is only a barren land. Full of sea-waters for eight months in a year, it brims with layers of caked salt when dry. It shines out like polished silver, the moment bright sunlight falls on Rann. This is why mirages are more dangerous here. It can take anyone to a ride. Rann of Kutch is an ocean of salt. Hence the Rann it has been, and not the desert. Totally dry! Muddy-grey! Shining at Noon! Cold at pitch dark night! If you are acquainted with it, you would fall in love, or else …..

By and large, Kutch is dry. Rains are irregular and scanty. High temperatures accelerate evaporation of whatever water the land has received. The land, therefore, remains dry most of the time. As a result, the vegetation is also quite sparse, forests are unimaginable. In most places, the land is rocky and flat; open and rough. It is so greyish that pinches the eyes. Grey sky, grey land, and white desert create a sense of melancholy in the ambience. One sees blank colourless landscape for miles on. Hence, obviously, the thin population is widely spread, lead a very ordinary life, has a sense of emptiness, the behaviour is rough, and the life is dull.

However, the way of people’s life at the boundary of Rann is as much different as compared to that of other deserts, like the difference in comparative ecology.

The reason is strength of the Kutchis to fight the odds.

Parched land, adjacency to Rann and next-to-nothing infrastructure facilities – make the struggle inevitable. No surprise that people have become listless and life has become achromatic.

However, Kutchi people, in contact with ecology of Rann, are lively. They have sixth sense which discovers music and colours from this silence and colour-devoid state and enlivens the Rann with strains of music and rainbow.

This is first visible in their houses. The houses, in and around Rann have unique shape – cylindrical base and conical roof – known as ‘Bhoonga’- and are made from the mix of wood, grass and mud and are totally eco-friendly. Further surprise awaits no sooner you enter these houses – a colourful interior décor and vivid patterns in storage arrangement of utensils. Your eyesight starts following these psychedelic arrangements, causing your body also to swing in synchronous harmony. The sight is simply irresistible.

And well, you will ever forget that you are in the midst of Rann the moment you enter Bhoonga, see it and feel the excitement.

The people of the region have developed knack of extracting mounds of seven colours from the grey of the ambience, to colour up their Bhoongas and dresses with these colours and thus awash the atmosphere with the rainbow.

We may call this ‘handicraft’, because it is seen to be done with the aid of hands. But here it becomes ’Art-of-seeing’. These people have cultivated the art of seeing colours from within and through the environment and then fill them up in their lives. The artisans of this region express their view of the life through several media, irrespective of strong winds or scorching heat or freezing cold in the adjacent Rann. Their hands seem to work through their eyes.

In fact, these handicrafts seem to have transformed the mood of Rann and its people, thereby creating a distinctly unique ecosystem that takes you through a deep dive into ethereal feel beyond any description and into a deep trance of happiness.

What a range of handicrafts these capable-to-see-through people have created!

The most spectacular among these is ‘Dhadaki’, what we urbanites know as quilt. Making of quilt may be a ‘job‘to us, but these Rann-ites have transformed it into an ‘art’. Ridiculous it may sound, but Dhadaki is made from pieces of clothes, well almost, the rags. Dhadaki is kaleidoscopic arrangement of these simple rags, stitched into a Dhadaki quilt. The female artists dip these Dhadakis into the rainbow of colours, floating in their minds. The sight of Dhadaki is breath-taking in terms of multitudes of colours and range of the artists’ imagination.

Similar is the interplay of colourful threads and cloth in Kutchi-stich work, resulting in the colourful art- form. Dark colours are used in this Kutch-stich work. Red is most profusely used colour to keep the blood warm in the otherwise dull life. It sustains the excitement in the life.

And what a powerful sense of the artisans’ imagination! Oh well, you would never ever tire of seeing the file lines on the edge of the cloth, the variety of emerging designs , shapes, mirror-work. The stich-work and those who wear it reflect the beauty of this Rann as well as that of their lives. The stich-work represents the combined dance form of tradition and imagination, thereby help defeat the dull environment of Rann.

Similar is the stich-work on leather. It is no mean feat to create beauty onto the skin of dead animals! Use of small needle [known as ‘Aar’ in local parlance] and threads give rise to shapes of fish, flower, Peacock,    — onto the leather! The first sight of its intricacy and tenderness engulfs our body and generates a deep thrill.

And what about ‘Rogaan’ – the wall paintings! The traditional figures are intricately painted on the walls and then splashed up with colours. One such artisan equals to thousands in tems of range of designs and colors..

Similar fantastic work is that of ‘vadha’ artisans, too. They shape the wood. They transform wood into different shaped figures and then colour them up. The viewer would be spell bound into seeing intricate binding of blending of different colours when they take up colouring of this wood-work. These carefree – those who live and sleep under the trees, have not even dreamt of alphabet – artisans remind those who built Taj Mahal, when they take up colouring of the wood-work.

The ‘Kharaki’ lends tune to these colours. We know these as bells. They give shape to their imagination through the work on simple metal sheets. Each ‘Kharaki’ chimes in different scales. Chiming of Kharaki around the neck of animals creates the symphony of sweet clinking of bells, seemingly transforming Rann into a temple. The mind moistens up lush green and fine-tuned amidst the dry atmosphere.

There are many more such other handicrafts. Roaming in the Rann has its own charm. The colourful atmosphere of Arabian Nights is created if you can ‘listen’ to these handicrafts. You can recreate the pleasure of ‘safari’ in any other desert while listening and seeing to these handicrafts. [Fair of Dhranga is all these rolled into one!]

This why Rann of Kutch is ‘unique’, having ‘festivals’ every moment. It constantly entices you to enjoy its beauty.

— Translation of Chapter ‘ભૂખરા રણમાં મેઘધનુષ્ય અને સંગીતનો સમન્વય’ @ pages # 65 – 68

                From the book: “કચ્છઃ વિહંગાવલોકન”

First Edition: July 2011

Author: Haresh Dholakia        hareshdholakia@yahoo.com

Publishers: Goorjar Granthratna Karyalay      goorjar@yahoo.com

ISBN 987 -81-8480-596-3

Posted in Haresh Dholakia's Writings, Kutchh: Bird’s Eye view | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Writing The History of Kutch — Translation of Chapter ‘ક્ચ્છના ઇતિહાસના લેખન સંદર્ભે’

Map of Gujarat showing the Greater Rann of Kut...

Image via Wikipedia

Kutch has a long history, extending up to Harappan era. It has remained multi-faceted across ancient to middle to contemporary times. It is also not, further segmented to eras, like Slave era, Lodi era or Moghul era, akin to history of India. It seems to be clearly demarcated along the ancient period, pre- & post – Jadeja periods and post-Independence period. It has been devoid of many upheavals and is quite peaceful, more because only family-lineage had ruled during Jadeja period.

Lack of extensive documentation is one of the major constraints in the research on Kutch history. There is dearth of, even, notes, particularly the published ones. As result of this inadequate documented information, it is not uncommon to observe several gaps in certain periods. The research to fill up these gaps is in itself a great challenge.

It is not that, the history of Kutch is not written till now. Many foreign and indigenous historians have published books on Kutch history. Many doctoral theses are also being pursued. But, still, the efforts are not systematic.

A look at the published work shows that most of these seem to be inspired by the State. Even as this seems obvious, it still presents one-dimensional view point. There are some books based on folk history, which in turn call for discretion in differentiating fact from the fiction.

Even the current efforts also seem to be one-dimensional. Some schools of thoughts relate to only Hindu or Muslim or even anti-Monarchy points of views. Some researchers have evaluated the whole with reference to a particular aspect. But, all these works remain presentations of partial viewpoints. History has to be documented as objective chronology of facts only and not as narration of any particular viewpoint, pro-or anti-stances or those of faiths or of isms or of religions.

Some efforts have presented Kutch history in the form of folk history or as a treatise to oppose the monarchy or to misrepresent the monarchy. However, there is no gainsaying that history of Kutch has hovered around monarchy. The common populace has always remained both devoted to Monarchy and docile, making it difficult to avoid references to monarchy. Indeed, it is desirable to write the political or cultural or social or religious history of Kutch, but this remains referenced to the then King only, because of his perennial all-pervasive influence.  The state of peace or turmoil, progress or staleness seems to be dependent on the Monarch. This makes Monarchy unavoidable, yet making imperative that Monarchy is evaluated objectively, with due importance to other aspects of the then society. It is also necessary to avoid being one-dimensional or biased. Hence, the task should better be assigned to those who are well-versed with the systematic approach. ‘Cultural History of Gujarat’ should be benchmarked as standard reference.

In order to avoid history becoming too voluminous, it may so naturally happen that minor events either may not be covered at all or may get less space allotted. This is not desirable, since these minor events have their own importance in the history. One solution is to compile two sets of streams – one main history volume which only records all events of the entire period and the other one as supplementary reference books, dealing with events or individuals, not covered in details in the main volume. This second stream of historical reference books can be further expanded to include events or individuals in the subsequent ranks of importance. Thus these reference books can be utilized to understand the events not covered in details in the main history volume. The researchers or readers also can use these references for detailed information regarding these events. Many such reference books, like Maharao Raidhanji, The British in Kutch, Contribution of Gandhi era in the freedom fight etc., have been so published too. These can be reviewed and taken up for any required – additions /deletions – editing to modernize them. This will provide opportunity for imparting due recognition and interpretation to some of the minor events,

The documentation of our cultural history is almost sketchy, leaving out studies of social undercurrents or the psyche of the populace. Hence, extensive research of social, psychological and /or anthropological studies is certainly called for. Similarly, the statistical history of the post-independence development is quite scattered, requiring integrated compilation. The comparative historical evaluation also calls for due attention.

In short, compilation of the history is quite an arduous task, difficult to expedite and certainly not to be done in haste. A full-fledged competent institution, with requisite funds and resources, like separate teams of expert historians, teams to monitor effectiveness of systematic approach etc., on sustainable continuity basis, needs to be established. The technical teams should be provided freedom from the undue interference of the administration. The biases or preconceived notions of providers of the funds also are required to be prevented from influencing or controlling the technical experts. As an analogy, “Kutch History Trust” can be constituted on the lines similar to “Vishwakosh Trust”.

This task is quite critical and requires to be taken up without any delay. It is necessary to transform the laudatory activities being undertaken by Kutch University or Kutch Development Council into – autonomous, systematic, institutionalized – sustainable mechanism. It should have full operational autonomy and the complete objectivity in documenting the history as its founding principles. It should have no room for personal prejudices, which has caused enough damage and distortions in the past.

Let us wish that writing of the history of Kutch proceeds in right earnest. Broad-based public discussions are also welcome.

— Translation of Chapter ‘ક્ચ્છના ઇતિહાસના લેખન સંદર્ભે’ @ pages # 69 -71

                            From the book: “કચ્છઃ વિહંગાવલોકન”

                            First Edition: July 2011

                            Author: Haresh Dholakia       hareshdholakia@yahoo.com

                            Publishers: Goorjar Granthratna Karyalay      goorjar@yahoo.com

                             ISBN 987 -81-8480-596-3

Posted in Haresh Dholakia's Writings, Kutchh: Bird’s Eye view | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

Welcome to the world of English transliterations from Gujarati non-fiction essays , articles or similar forms of literature.

I would provide  soft link to original digital article,wherever available. Or else, each post will have all requisite details to enable reaching out to the original hard print.

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