Thursday, July 30, 2009

#23. My Dalliance with Astrology- Why I gave up

My Dalliance with Astrology
1. If you ask me whether I believe in astrology, I would not be able to give a clear reply. I will probably hem and haw, and say that astrology is certainly not a science, and that the art of astrology needs a lot of practice and intuition. And patience. Also there are many more fake astrologers than the genuine, and those who are genuine do not trumpet their knowledge. I have heard strange stories of predictions coming out true years after at the time when it was predicted to happen. Simultaneously I was also told of the devastation the Jatak forebore in the intervening years. I frankly don’t know whether it is a good idea to know about your future, especially when the astrologers take sadistic delight to mention the bad things in future as read by them and not mention or make only a passing reference to the happy events and time that are also slated.
2. It was in 1987 that I thought that I should know something of Hindu astrology, and I went about it in a serious way. I purchased scores of books from the shops and those that were not available there I ordered by post. Courier was a thing of the future, and so were e-mails, multi-city cheques and online payment, so one had to be patient after ordering the books. Things are easy now when you can order books on line and make payment also that way. Some on-line booksellers give delivery within 3 working days.
3. To come back to the main story, I started reading the books, and spent most of my working hours with them. I don’t remember how I got this free time to stay at home. Probably I had taken leave or it was the fag-end of a medical leave for a road accident I suffered.
4. I learnt how to draw a horoscope with the help of birth data and Lahiri’s book of charts. This thing also has become easy now as there are any number of softwares available on the net by which you can draw anybody’s horoscope and take a print-out of that. Gradually I reached a point where I coud venture some predictions. I do not remember but my sister-in-law says that I correctly predicted that she would be married to an air force officer. I might have made several other predictions about others also, but I always hesitated in telling the truth when it came to bad things in the horoscope. My reasoning was this: astrology is an inexact science, I am not a professional,and so the chances of a prediction being incorrect is significant, and therefore, it is not advisable to be forthright about bad things in life. So I saw horoscope very selectively and tried to tell the Jataka bad things in as roundabout fashion as I could. The last straw on camel’s back was in Mumbai. My wife told a few of her friends about my being able to read horoscopes, and I suddenly got a number of horoscopes for viewing, mostly of unmarried girls or of married ladies who were not pulling on well with their spouses.
5. One friend of my wife was keen to know as to when her daughter would be married. I saw the horoscope and (correctly) predicted that she should be married latest by November next, and told my wife accordingly. I don’t know what my wife heard, but she seems to have told her friend that the her daughter would not be married by November next.. As it happened, she got married a few months later, and after that the mother stopped talking to my wife. My wife told me about it, and I replied that she had asked for it.
6. Another of my friends wanted to know something about the future of his daughter who was not pulling on well with her husband’s relatives. I saw her horoscope, found nothing wrong in it, and told my friend accordingly. To my surprise, instead of being relieved, he was not very happy to hear this. This must have come from previous encounters with astrologers who tell bad things and then try to extract money for some puja purportedly performed to pacify the malefic grahas.
7. My wife once brought the chart of a young unmarried girl. What I could read was nothing happy, and told my wife that I will have to study the chart further to arrive at some definite conclusion. After a few days when she asked again, I told her that presently what I could read was not very happy, and I needed to confirm it before telling it to the parents. I procrastinated once more, and in disgust she took back the horoscope.
8. Another incident was about a rich lady. I saw her horoscope and thought that some bad traits in her personality which I was seeing should be told to her personally. So I rang her up and started telling her what I had to. After hearing me for some time she rudely asked me that she would ring up after some time. Needless to sayshe never called back. I felt thoroughly humiliated.
9. A good friend of mine who is a chartered accountant once told me that some astrologer had told him that his son has Kala Sarpa Yog (KSY), and requested me to check up. Just a short background. KSY is not mentioned in classical Hindu Astrological treatises, and it has probably come from the tantrics. Second, two types of KSY are distinguished. One, Anuloma where all the planets move towards Rahu. This type is less likely to give trouble than the other, and Second, viloma where all planets move towards Ketu which can give prosperity but will give trouble side by side.
10. The other important point to note is that the Yoga is formed even if there are planets in the same house with Rahu or Ketu or both, so long as these planets are within the nodal axis by degree position. (The two paras above are based on ‘Light on Life, an Introduction to the Astrology of India’ by Defouw and Svoboda).
11. I found that the KSY in the chart of my good friend’s son is of the Anuloma type and therefore, not harmful. I told him so, and also told him that the erlier astrologer was either mistaken in the details, or he deliberately created a scare when it was not there. Similar thing happened very recently. My sister-in-law is very fond of going to astrologers, and she had obtained from my wife the birth details of my entire family. Place, date and time suffice to make a horoscope on the computer. She also has the habit of immediately passing on any bad news to her sister. One afternoon she informed my wife that my son has KSY, and it needs some remedy, in other words, elaborate puja costing a few thousand rupees. I had never seen my son’s horoscope carefully, at least for the presence of KSY. Prima facie it appeared that the astrologer from Allahabad was correct. Then I checked more thoroughly, took a print-out of the horoscope myself, and discovered that both Rahu and Ketu were not alone in their houses, but had the company of one graha each. When I checked the degrees of all four, I found that the two grahas conjoint with Rahu and Ketu are well outside the nodal axis by degree positions. Therefore, no KSY.
12. Then there is Kuja (Manga/Mars) Dosh. Considered bad for the girl, and it is said that she should marry a mangalik boy only. The real problem is that in a girl’s chart, Kuja dosh exists if Mars is in any of the 7 houses out of 12. To me, this looks absurd. Of course, there are ifs and buts, but I do not believe that God is so unkind as to make the odds for a girl being Mangali more than 50%.
13. To that friend of mine whose son was or was not having KSY, I once told of some minor blemish either in his or his son’s chart. His prompt query was:’What is the remedy then?’ Meaning what puja or other rituals could be performed to mitigate the malefic effect of the graha. I flatly told him that I had not studied that branch of astrology. That also made clear to me what other astrologers generally do.
14. This leads to the larger question of the utility of astrology to the Jataka. If something is going to happen to a person, and that is what astrology has indicated, then he should probably be equipped by the same ‘’science’ to deal with it. The solutions suggested by Jyotish are vey routine and basic, like offering oil and other indicated things to some tree, or some mantra chanted everyday for a number of weeks or months. But are they enough to avert or mitigate the effects of of the crisis? One colleague of mine dabbled in astrology and died a premature death of cardiac arrest. I don’t think he had any inkling of the impending death. A couple of years before, he had made a switch from the government to a pubic sector undertaking (PSU). Had he known of this important event, he probably would have stuck to the government.
15. And so Sri Anand K. decided to say good-bye to astrology, horoscopes, grahas and houses. Unfortunately, practising astrology is not like cycling or swimming that you remember throughout your life. If astrology is not practised for a long time, you tend to forget even the basics.

Friday, July 24, 2009

#22. Some Beautiful Trees for Central India with GWALIOR in mind

I have made some notes for a write-up titled ‘Beautiful Trees for Central India with Gwalior in Mind’. Comments are welcome. Main reference books are by Pradeep Krishan, Bose and Chaudhury and Shakti Sinha.
1. Maulsari…….Mimusops elengi
Tolerates shade. Also known as Bakul. A favourite of Gurudev Ravindranath Thakur.
Likes warm and moist climate, but found suitable for hot and dry climes as well
Propagation by SEEDS

2. Ficus benghalensis var. Krishnae….Krishna peepal
Curiosity value
Medium sized tree
3. Ficus elastica…Indian rubber tree
Native to NE India where it can grow as high as a 16 storey building.
Original source of natural rubber, later replaced by Para rubber from Brazil
30% of pottedd plants in US are Indian rubber plant.

4. Pilkhan or Pakad..Ficus virens
Avenue tree, wind breaker

5. Peepal and Bargad ….Ficus religiosa and ficus benghalensis
Oldest peepal at Anuradhapur (Srilanka) where a branch of Mahabodhivriksha of Gaya was taken by Ashok’s son in 288 BC. So now this tree is more than 2000 years old.
As the tree in Gaya died, a branch from the Anuradhapur tree was planted which prospered.
Peepal and bargad considered female and male, and it is said that plating the two together brings good luck to you.

6. Kanju or Chilbil…Holoptela integriiifolia
Large tree.
Prop.: SEEDS

7. *Nyctanthus arbor-tristis….Parijat/harsingar
Four trees in Hindu mythology have been variously described as KALPAVRIKSHA, namely Parijat, Mandar (Erythrina), ficus benghalensis, kadamba.
Paarijat and Mandar came out of sea when it was churned by the gods and demons. Parijat was taken by Krishna for his wife Satyabhama. Then Rukmini insisted on having a similar tree and so Mandar was also taken by Krishna.

8. Indian Coral Tree…..Erythrina variegata
A delicate tree. Very few specimen can be seen in Gwalior. Mohite’s garden had a few, but have been destroyed by insects, possibly termites. One of the trees known as Kalpavriksha.

9. *Lagerstroemia speciosa
Small tree
*Lagerstroemia thorrelli
Smaller bushy tree
*L. indica …crepe myrtle

10.Neolamarckia cadamba…Kadamba
Native of humid climate of NE, but found adapted to Gwalior climate. Some good specimen at the Tourism Institute.

11.*Mitragyna parviflora….Kaim
Probably the real kadamba tree associated with Krishna as it is native of Mathura-Vrindavan region.

12.Acacia auriculiformis, Earpod wattle….vilayati keekar
Quick growing, small tree. Has bottlebrush like spikes of yellow flowers.
13.Syzigium nervosum….Rai Jamun
Ripens in Ashadh (June). Lush green large tree.

Bush, only pink variety thrives in Gwalior. Not white or red. Likes semi-shade

15.Silkworm mulberry …Monis alba
A darling of birds because of its fruit.

Small dep purple to black berries which are liked by birds.

17.Khirni…Manilkara hexandra
A tall beautiful tree. Edible fruit. Rootstock used for grafting of chikoo.

18.Mahua….Madhuca longifolia var. latifolia
Fast growing, evergreen.
‘Arguably the most valuable of Indian trees’. Flower edible, tribals in the interir eat it as well as distill a liquor from it. Also used by modern distilleries.

19.Maharukh….Ailanthus excelsa
Grows even in towns on its own. Nice tall tree.

20.Artocarpus heterophyllus…..Kathal
An evergreen tree.
My first posting as SDO was at Jashpurnagar where some ex-ruler had found the virtues of this tree, and got planted Kathal all over the state The result was that wherever there was marriage at district or divisional headquarters at an officer's place, large quantity of big kathals were sent by the subordinates, effecting a big saving for the senior.

21.Baheda…Terminalia bellirica
A local tree. Grows easily.

22.Kanak champa…Pterospermum acerifolium
Beautiful tree. Large atractive leaves. Flowers fragrant, keep their fragrance long after drying.

23.Weeping bottlebrush…callistemon citrinus
Crimson bottlebrush…C. pollandi
Smaller tree 3-4 metres.
24.*Bauhinia variegate
Purple flowers fill the trees

**Bauhinia X Blakeana
The best of bauhinias.Large, deep purple flowers. Developed from an isolated tree found in Hong Kong.
Only vegetative propagation possible. CUTTINGS

Bauhinia pupurea

*Bauhinia variegate ‘Candida’

Bauhinia acuminata
Bush. White flowers.
Pruning once a year is good for the plant.

B. galpinii
Creeper, orange coloured flowers. Likes milder climate.

B. tomentosa
Bush. Yellow flowers.
Almost all the varieties of Bauhinias suit Gwalior climate to the T. A pleasant flower which has not been used much.

25.Butea monosperma, Flame of the Forest….Palash
Frost hardy, drought resistant, TOLERANT TO SALINITY.

26. **Tecoma goudichaudi/castanifolia…flowers in bunches
Tecoma stans…flowers singly
Small tree or large bush. Easily grown. Grows fast. Flowers the next year, almost through the year. Ideal for Gwalior.
Needs yearly pruning to keep the tree in shape.

27. Adansonia digitata, Baobab tree.
Huge tree, lives for maybe 3000 years. Unusually thick trunk at the bottom. Tree reputedly carries 500 liters of water in the trunk. A desert tree brought from Africa by the Portuguese. No specimen in Gwalior, but Indore Residency compound has at least 10 of them which should be more than 100 years old.

27.**Floss Silk Tree. Chorisia speciosa.
Small tree. Introduced in Delhi on a large scale in 1950s. One of the most beautiful flowering tree which is covered with flowers at a time when there are hardly any garden flowers blooming (October). A white variety is also there. Initially the tree looks like Kapok and is spiny as well which however falls off later. Must try in Gwalior. Single specimen planted doing well.

28. Semal, Bombax ceiba
Large tree. Flowers profusely. Much liked by birds.

29.Wild almond, Sterculia foetida.
Large tree. Pretty copper-cloured leaves before fall.

Bush, with nice red or pink fluffy flowers. Long and curved billed nectar-eating birds
(sunbird) like the flowers.

31.**Tabebuia argentea (yellow)

T. avallandae (Dark pink)

One of the most beautiful flowering trees. Suited for Gwalior climate. Small tree. Specimen found on the road divider from Padav to Phoolbagh, courtesy an industrialist. A couple of good trees in the Tourism Institute.

32.**Polyalthia longifolia ….Ashok
Stately shady tree.

**P. longifolia ‘Pendula’, Mast tree
Gets deshaped if the mast to allowed to grow unchecked. It is prudent to cut them at the top after they attain a certain height.

**P. augustifolia…Same as P. longifolia, but a smaller tree.

Ashok tree is ideally suited for Gwalior climate. Hundreds of trees can be found in the town, most being Mast trees. Some old specimen can be found in the old High Court building. They must be more than a century old. Some mast trees in the Samadhi of Hardaul in Orchha could easily be 200 years or more.
**Should not be confused with Seeta Ashok which is associated with Sita who spent her captivity under Saraca asoca. This is another beautiful tree which likes semi shade, and has bunches of beautiful orange-red flowers.

33.**Cassia fistula….Amaltas
One of the most beautiful native flowering tree. The tree however is nothing to look at, and has to be given support to save it from being twisted. It is drought tolerant, and CATTLE REPELLENT, and therefore can be tried in open areas as well. Strongly recommended for Gwalor.
SEEDS. In the wild the long fruit does not open on its own, and jackals, bears, pigs and monkeys help in propagation by eating its flesh and passing the seeds in the excreta. In the nurseries the pod is to be broken manually, and the seed soaked in water overnight.
34.Cassia javanica
Flowers in bunches. Large tree. Tree has to be protected from hot dry winds. Better to plant it with trees which can shield it. Dislikes transplantation. Therefore sow in situ or in polythene bags.

*Cassia nodosa
Suitable for saline tract
SEEDS should be rubbed against a rough surface to help germination.
One good specimen at ‘Saket’ on Gandhi Road.

35.Spathodea campanulata
Suitable for tropical and sub-tropical climate.

36. Alstonia scholaris…Saptaparni
Likes moist and warm climate, but has been found growing well in Gwalior. An avenue of Saptaparni can be seen in the Tourism Insitute (IITTM). Has a tendency to send shoots from the bottom of the trunk which should be removed to keep the tree in shape. A beautiful shady tree.
37. Plumeria
One of the best flowering trees for Gwalior. Needs less water and grows very well in inferior soils. Also known as Frangipani or Temple Champa. Plumeria rubra can be bicolour, triclour or deep pink. Forma acutifolia is white/cream with yellow centre, whereas lutea is is like acutifolia but with more gold at the base of the petals. From a distance this variety looks all yellow-gold. In all these varieties the five petals are overlapping, whereas in P. obtusa (white frangipani) the petals are narrow and not overlapping. The flowers are white with yellow throat. Also whereas the leaves of P. rubra are pointed, that of white frangipani are rounded at the tip.
Some foreign nurseries advertise scores of colours. Even the net gives hundreds of colours. See the link:
This tree is eminently suited for Gwalior climate. Gwalior has any number of specimen. Mohite’s garden has white variety. Pawar has a light pink variety, whereas Bapuna has the deep pink variety.
Propagation by CUTTINGS.
**Highly recommended

Saturday, July 4, 2009

#21. Sequel to the History of a Linguistic Minority

The History of a Linguistic Minority (SEQUEL to #19).

This is a natural sequel to my earlier monograph. However, this write-up is at a more personal level, and is the story of a few families. Business houses come and go. Thre are very few business families who could retain their wealth after a few generations. Similarly these migrated families also had their ups and downs. Some were rich by the sheer dint of labour, intelligence and application, some by chance, by gifts from wealthier men and familes, and some by dubious means like association with the Pindaris. Many could not have goddess Lakshmi with them for more than a few generations. Some were wastrels or spendthrift, and some lost it by sinking of ships and economic depression.

2. One wealthy family of Ghazipur (not related to us) had sugar business. He was known as Sugar King. He once sent two shiploads of sugar to England. Both the ships were either lost in storm , or taken over btes, and they just disappeared on the high seas. Poor man died bankrupt and heart-broken. His son owned the local power house which a few years after independence was taken over by the government. He had a large ancestral house in the downtown area, with a huge red gate so that the market was known as Lal Darwaza. The mansion was minimally maintained.

3. The mention about the power house above reminds me of my first posting as SDO at a place called Jashpurnagar (now in Chhattisgarh). God knows why ‘pur’ and ‘nagar’ both are added to the name of the town! In such cases you have to remember the Great Bard who said ‘what’s there in a name’. On an altitude of about 2500’, and therefore a mild climate. A tribal belt, with a lot to do for a civil servant, but if one wanted to take things easy, that was also possible. Anyway, it had a power house which was owned by the local ex-ruler, and during my time, the electric line of State Electricity Board could be extended to the town. Yes, the earlier power house was nothing more than a medium sized diesel generator which ran from 6 pm to 11 pm. After that one had to depend on the old dependable hurricane. I was a regular user of hurricane lantern. I was a bachelor then, and fond of reading. Now I cannot read without the help of a bright light or table lamp.

4. To come back to the stories. One Tukoji Pant was bequeathed a jagir at Bhandara by the Peshwa for showing great valour during the battle with Tipu Sultan. Thus he was a minor Sardar. His son was Kashinath Rao. It seems that for the Third Battle of Panipat, all 84 Sardars were asked by the Peshwa to go to the battle. In the battle 36 Sardars laid down their lives, and 18 decided not to return to their homeland out of shame and embarrassment. They felt dishonoured with their names tarnished. They dispersed to various places in the North: Pants of Rajawali went to Almora. Govind Vallabh Pant was a scion of that family. Vinchuks went to Kashipur, Aptes to Faizabad, Newalkars to Jhansi, Prabhune to Bithur etc. Kashinath went to Kashi (Varanasi), threw his sward and other weapons in the river (Ganga). He was about to throw his Rajmudra (Ring) as well, but a Brahman who was performing his sandhya saw his action, and chided him not to throw away the ring as it was the state property. He said that let the Brahmans decide where it would be kept in safe custody. It was decided later by a group of Brahmans that the ring would be kept in the custody of Pt. Waman Rao Shastri till Kashinath took it back to Bhandara. Kashinath was financed by Waman Rao for opening his hundi business which thrived. Kashinath was 32 years of age when he came to Varanasi. Three years after WamanRao died. The vidwat samaj asked Kashinath to marry his daughter. The marriage was performed and the mudra was brought back by the bride Manorama. The family tree as told to me by Prahlad Rao who also told me this story was: Kashinath- Vishwanath- Venkatesh Rao- Madhavji- Narayanji- Bhalchadra-Kashinath-Prahladrao who has two sons Anand and Saurabh. Anand has a son now named Kartik. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the story, but PRB may not be all incorrect, leave aside some embellishments.

5. One brother of Vishwanath, Shivanji did some embezzlement and he was banished from Varanasi and sent to Ghazipur. He was given some settlement. He had two sons Gopal Lal and Lalgopal Lal. Gopalji’s son Lallu was my youngest uncle’s contemporary. Later Bhalchandra had a younger brother Sakharam. During the earthquake of circa 1870, their mother fell off from the fourth floor in the courtyard about 40' below and died. Sakharam got stuck between two stones, and was later sent to Calcutta (now Kolkata) for wet nursing. He grew up there, and was the more dominant of the two brothers. He started the business of coalfields and shipping and incurred huge losses. Bhalchandra, as the story goes, went to his father (Narayanji) during the initial days when the business was started and expressed his apprehensions. However, Narayanji’s reply was that Lakshmi stays in a family for seven generations, after which she goes elsewhere; the cycle for his family was over and he could not do much. Bhalchadra got disgusted and joined Shaw Wallace as a Purchase Officer ( He had studied upto Intermediate). Prahlad told me that when he was born his was a typical low middle class family, with all the property gone. As for Narayanji and Sakharam, the house was sold on the order of Court of Wards. Narayanji could not bear the shock, and died six days after the house was sold. Before his death he admitted that had he got the partition done, at least all that would not have happened.

6. In Biharsharif, there were four zamindar families. Yogu was our contemporary, who died very recently. He was alone in the house, with his very old invalid mother who even now is counting her last days. In the night he slipped badly in bathroom, was unconscious, wounded his skull, and by the time help could arrive in the morning he was already dead. Death comes to you in so many ways! Yogu’s great-grandfather Nandram was a low graduate, and he was working with a barrister in Calcutta. There he came in contact with Suchantis, the Jain Seths of Pawapuri. Pawapuri has an important Jain shrine which had 700 villages donated by the disciples. The affairs of these villages were in complete mess. Nandram worked on it and divided the lot into 32 trusts and got them registered. For this work he was gifted 11 villages and became a mid-sized zamindar.He had two daughters: Kesar and Kasturi. Kesar was married to Jitendraji who was a court writer at Allahabad High Court. His son was an Advocate and later became a deputy Advocate General. One of his sons became a Judge in Allahabad high court. I remember an interesting episode. My uncle wanted his daughter to be married to the eldest grandson of Jitendraji. At that time his son was also a widower. Jitendraji’s reply was that his first priority was the marriage of his son and only after that he would think of his grandsons. My cousin was a pretty girl and she did not have any difficulty in getting another match. The other daughter Kasturi was married to Lakshmikant, a meek hen-pecked husband. Kasturi was maniacal about cleanliness. I have observed that cleanliness is a fetish. Some are fussy about personal hygiene, some about their surroundings, and some are about clothes. Well, this lady had a fetish about fecal dirtiness. She used to carry a bucket of water to the loo, and when she came out of that, used to sprinkle the ground ahead of her with whatever water was left. Naturally the clothes she wore to the loo were discarded for washing. This practice was quite prevalent among several Brahman families up to the generation just above me. The reason probably has to be found in the filth of the dry latrine which people had at their home at that time. And if somebody had upset stomach in the family, you had it.

7. My grandmother used to cook food for herself and the family during the dayafter takeing bath and wearing a silk sri which I don’t know for how many years she had been using. It ad faded and had become a dirty brown colour after after years of washing daily and then tolerating heat and smoke. Yes, nobody was allowed inside the kitchen when shen was coking. In retrospect, it wass a very hygiening practice. My grandmother had been a widow for such a long time that all her good colourful saris might have been taken away by her daughters and other relations. In any case as a widow she was not allowerd to wear brightly coloured sarees She always wore white, and and she found male dhotis to be most comfortable and light to her body. I remember her to be a shortish fair lady, with a sharp nose, and beautiful clear eyes, but she looke much older that her age between 65 and 70 years. She couldn’t have been more that 50 kg, but had clear, baritone voice. I remember one of my classmates was sitting wih me in the outer room which we called baithaka. At that time Dadi wass talking to someone in the family and my friend was surprised to hear such clear voice form a frail old lady. With four grown-up sons who were all eaarnign,though not substantial, she did not have a bad life. She came from the Upasni family of Chunar. After the untimely death of my elder Kaki Usha (of small pox) her small daughter was raisesd by her, and when I was studying at Ghazipur staying with my uncles, I also got the same affection from hef, though the plave of my cousin Ruby was very special in her heart.

8. The other group at Biharsharif were the Pathaks who had the zamindari of about 12 villages. Post-mutiny there were four brothers. One of them Keshavdeo Pathak was a Hindi and Sanskrit scholar, and wrote an authoritative Hindi grammar book. Another brother Manmohan Pathak (=Bhatt) moved to Calcutta where he got enrolled in the Presidency College. He haad mastered English, Hindi, Persian, Urdu and Bangla. Pathaks were from Baglan tehsil in Nashik and they spoke Ahirani. Manmohan Pathak has sort of rags to riches story. Once the Ruler of Burdwan Lakshmipati Singh Bahadur was going from Kulti to Diamond Harbour, and was camping somewhere in between. Here he got a letter from an English officer. He did not know English, and sent his men to find a man who could read the letter to him. One landed on Manmohan Pathak and wanted to know whether he could read out a letter in English meant for the Ruler. Pathak said yes, but he could come only after he completes his sandhya puja. After some time he presented himself to the Raja who had become fairly impatient by now. Pathak explained the letter to him and on his request drafted a reply for the Englishman. The Raja was suitably impressed, and he made Pathak Wazir-e-Khas of Burdwan His son Gadadhar worked with Barrister P.R.Das. The King of Burdwan gave Manmohan zamindari of 17-18 villages which was about 3000 acres of land. Gadadhar Bhatt was childless, and after much puja and anushthan he got a son at the age of 58 (Aniruddh Bhatt). Gadadhar died when Aniruddh was 14-15 years of age. There were now 7-8 villages left after clearing the land revenue etc. Aniruddh and the sons of a lady who used to look after Gadadhar's household started the business of coal and cement, and made their money during the Second World War. He earned a lot of mney from a number of brick kilns that he ran. During the famous Bengal famine, Aniruddh donated 200 bags of cereals to the government and duly earned a lot of praise from the British. This story about Manohan does look like a fairy tale, but such things do happen, though not to everybody.

9. the Upasnis of Biharsharif had a big zamindari. Jaidev Upasni was a wastrel and exhausted all his money. The daughter of my grandfather’s cousin (Sadhram) was married to the younger brother of Jaidev (Kewalram). The story goes that Kewalram got interested in Pari siddhi( winning a fairy, that is, a beautiful lady) and was in the grip of a Muslim mentor which so disgusted the family that Sarla’s brother Baleshwar who was a law graduate working as Sub-Registrar got the property partitioned, and extracted Rs, 1.25 lakh form Jaidev for Sarla and Kewalram’s two children Sadashiv and Sushma. Baleshwar then admitted the two in the Ewing Christian College, Allahabad and also admitted them in the hostel. Sarla started staying with his father at Ghazipur where they had a house with a huge compound almost adjacent to our house.

10. My grandfather died when he was in his thirties. During his lifetime he got children every two years with clockwork regularity. During his lifetime he had three daughters and three sons. In addition, one son had died in infancy of plague. Even after his death the clock did not stop, and my youngest uncle was born posthumously. Their uncle was working as Chief Boiler Inspector of UP and he supported the family for umpteen number of years. But as it happens with large families with hardly any source of income except a number of houses in Ghazipur which fetched a paltry sum of rent, they largely fended for themselves. My father and elder uncle dropped out after high school. The second uncle failed in class VII, and after that never went back to school . There were people who advised him that he should follow the footsteps of his grandfather and become a vaidya He did start learning ayurved, I have seen his handwritten notes on ayurved lying at home during my childhood days, but my uncle seems to have lost interest or heart midway. Maybe he did not have the intellectual capacity to absorb the details of ayurvedic science, Who knows? It never occurred to me to ask him or anybody else in the family as to why the tradition of my great-grandfather was not continued. My grandfather from what I have heard was a gentleman-at-large, and his father had left him enough property and money to last a lifetime. My father was sent to Calcutta for B.Sc., but it seems that the race tracks had more attraction for him than the text-books, and whatever money he got for college fees and pocket money etc was wasted on betting on this stallion or that filly. He stayed with his elder sister, the mother of Bachcha, cousin and good friend of mine. He and Prahlad are the main sources on which this write-up is based. Probably if I go to Varanasi or Biharsharif, I would get somebody who could give me some more information. The trouble with the elders in my own family was that they were all reticent about themselves and their community.

10. During the early days of independence, my father did get some good government jobs, but later lack of a college degree always came in his way. Ultimately he got disgusted, and started farming some land which he and the brothers had purchased in Jharkhand , courtesy my maternal grandfather. Later he was killed by dacoits in the village. My eldeast uncle got trained in cloth cutting and tailoring and opened a shop in Ghazipur which he continued with for almost two decades. Later he got a chance in the Ordnance Clothing Factory at a middle level, and died in harness at the Military Hospital, Delhi. Here in spite of his widow getting family pension and my uncle leaving behind comfortable sum of money, two of the three sons could not do much The second son is a medical practitioner, and has opened his private hospital in Varanasi, being ably assisted in his work by his doctor wife. He has been helping his two brothers off and on whenever there is need.

11. My second uncle did odd business in quick succession. He sold the farmhouse so lovingly developed by Saligram, my great-grandfather, purchased a flour mill which did well for a few years, but then the profits dwindled, the machinery became old, and he never knew the idea of creating a depreciation fund. Ultimately, his wife did a teachers’ training course, and got a job in a government girls’ school from where she retired a few years back. In the meantime my uncle became bed-ridden and died after a few years. They had three sons and a daughter. Daughter is married, and the sons are earning their living.

12. My youngest uncle did his graduation for Varanasi, and then started a bank job at Calcutta hoping that he would save enough money to complete his PG. He lived with the same old sister in Calcutta, and after a year or so, came back to Ghazipur to get admitted for his M.Sc. degree. My second uncle was getting married, and he gave his hard-earned money for the marriage, hoping that it wold be treated as loan, and not gift, which did not happen. Ultimately he did complete his post-graduation when he was in his thirties. After some time he got selected for a Class II job in the Consolidation Dept. of UP Govt. In the meantime, an under-developed country of south-east Asia offered him a job in their topography dept. He spent more than a decade there, but later the local government decided to keep a local man on the sensitive post he was holding. He came back to India, got a job in JNU, completed his Ph.D. and retired a few years ago from a Reader-level post. He is the only surviving uncle, relatively healthy and a little whimsical.

12A. Our leaders who foght for our indipendence had a charisma by which they could easily attract the youth. In 1939 Subhas Bose made his separate party (Forward Bloc) and was touring different places to attract people to his party. He had come to Ghazipur and stayed with us for a short while, and had lunch there. This visit of Netaji hurt the chances of my father and elder uncle who were both recommended by the district Magistrate (DM) for King's Commission. Prior to that my father dabbled with some revolutionary groups, It seems that a revolver stolen from the DM's place was kept in our house. There was a search conducted, and my grandfather's cousin's widow had hidden the revolver in her sari and threw it in a well some distance. The police seems to have connive at it. Later another DM who was an Irish had recommended my father and uncle for King's Commission in spite of knowing it. My uncle says that being an Irish, he was a little symapathetic to the Indian independence movement.
Anyway, after the DM's recommendation, the CID sent a detailed report to the government about our association with Subhash, and later a regret letter had come which I had seen lying somewhere in the house.

13. Let us now come to a more interesting story. In the beginning I have mentioned Sadashiv and Sushma. Sadashiv was a colourful personality. He had a brilliant mind, a beautiful handwriting both in Hindi and English, and when he wanted wrote a flowery language in either. It is not known how his path got twisted. He believed in having a good life. Probably the same genes that dominated Jaidev became preponderant in him . He spent lavishly in his student life, he knew that his mother had enough money to support him, and he was the only son, pampered and spoilt. He could not complete his graduation. He had a way with ladies, and they fell for him right and left. He was of Napoleonic height, fair and pleasant looking, though he could not be called handsome. But had a kind of magnetism. He was mealy mouthed and very patient with the ladies who bared their soul to him. Ultimately his uncle Baleshwar put his foot down , got him admitted for a diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Gorakhpur, and started giving him the bare minimum allowance to cover his fees and living expenses. But he had a leeway. Intelligent as he was, he won a scholarship and could indulge in his activities, though on a much reduced scale. He got a job in the Irrigation Dept. of UP govt. You would think that the story would end there. No sir, much more water had to flow under the bridge, to twist a proverb. In the department he was involved in some unauthorised sale of departmental store. He was in hiding for a few years, got married to a very inconspicuous looking girl, and ultimately got caught when he was working in a unit in Calcutta. He was behind bars for more than a couple of years. After he was released, he was roaming around for some time, then got a job at Maduadih near Varanasi in an engineering unit and retired from there. His wife died, and he spent his last days with his adopted daughter at a small town in M.P. where he died. I saw him during that time. Old age had shrunk his bones and he looked shorter than before, below 5’. But otherwise healthy, and dressed well.

14. Here was a man who could achieve anything if he was serious in life. He could be an I.C.S., a renowned literateur, or a brilliant engineer. But he wasted his talent. Incidentally, all the stories above about our family points to the fact that for a child, you need the firm presence of father, who could bring them back on the right track if there was any deviation.

15. Sadashiv used to write short stories under the pen name Shanti Upasni, and at least some of them were published in magazines like ‘Manohar Kahaniyan’. I remember one story which he showed to me at manuscript stage. It was about a wealthy man gone bankrupt who allowed his pet falcon to eat his own flesh. He said that he had Jaidev in mind when he wrote that story. At that time I was hardly interested in Jaidev and was not aware of him and his exploits. At one time Sadashiv and my second uncle were very close, and lots of letters used to go to and fro. My uncle must be deriving vicarious pleasure from the various exploits and adventures of Sadashiv. They had nicknames for each other. Thus my uncle was Tenny and I forget the nickname of Sadashiv. When my father was working for army recruitment at Namkum (Near Ranchi) he had a pup which he called Tenny, I frankly don’t know why. Needless to say, my uncle was not amused. Years later at the dinner (or lunch) he casually mentioned how hurt and annoyed he felt. At Namkum, my uncle had come and stayed with us for sometime. I vaguely remeber him a thickset moustachioed man thoroughly rustic. I also remember that even during his later life in Varanasi, Mannu Kaka(Sadashiv) used 7o’clock razor blade only once. My uncle had told him not to throw them as he used to do earlier, an whenever he went to Varanasi, he used to bring 2-3 packs which were good enough for a few months. I remember one story which my second uncle told about himself. Once when he was in his late teens, he went to the court to be a witness in some land dispute case. The lawyer wanted him to say that he was 111 or 12 years of age. When in the court , the lawyer for the opposition asked for his age and upon his saying 11-12, he sarcastically asked: ‘And how about the moustache and the beard then.’ Pat came the reply from my uncle that it was Pitra paksh (the fortnight dedicated to your ancestors when you don’t shave your beard and moustache for the period). My uncle told that even the Judge had a hearty laugh at this reply.

16. There was another Sadashiv Upasni based at Varanasi. He was a good singer of Thumri, and whenever he went to his relations the girls requested him to sing, and he generally obliged them by reeling off 10-20 film songs. He used a thali (a metal plate used for taking food: it could be of brass or bronze, but now it is mostly of stainless steel) for percussion. He married a Bengali girl, was a junior officer in State Bank of India, and was in demand in his region for thumri. He sang for the radio as well. I remember once when I was a student at Allahabad University, he had come to the hostel in my absence, and left his Allahabad address where he was staying. I had gone to the chowk, and while returning I decided to drop in at his place which was not very far from my hostel. On the way back I had taken from a shop on hire a couple of Hindi pornographic books which were clandestinely available all over. There was a bulge in my trousers pocket. Sadashiv was curious to know what it was. I said books. He wanted to see them. I said they are on Economics, a fairly dry subject of which I was a student. He still wanted to see the books. I frankly did not know what to say. Ultimately I told him to let it go and I didn’t think it necessary to show the books, or something like that. Needless to say he was taken aback. I stayed for another 5-10 minutes and then went back. But all this introduction about Sadashiv is for his father Sanyasi Ramchandra Upasni.

17. Ramchandra did Acharya in Vedas, and taught Sanskrit in Queen’s College, Varanasi. He was married to the daughter of Rajaram Joshi of Chunar who has been mentioned elsewhere in the write-up. He was revered in several akhadas, and one Baba Parmarthgir of Anrohi akhada (Fyzabad district) held him in great regard. His first wife died and he married a second time from whom he got three sons and two daughters (Sadashiv was the youngest). At one time Acharya Ramchandra thought that he would be able to succeed Parmarthgir as Akhada Pramukh. He became a sanyasi. However, somehow his being married leaked, and he was denied the throne. There was protracted litigation in which Ramchandra was supported by his father-in-law Rajaram Joshi. The story goes that in the court Ramchadra was asked to take out his turban and show whether he had the choti (Tuft of hair at the back of skull). Well, he had, and the sanyasis do not have it. Ultimately Ramchandra lost the case.

18. The fourth family of Biharsharif was of Umanath Bhatt. He was a successful lawyer of his area. His brother A.C. Bhatt rose to be the General Manager of the Bank of Behar.

19. As for Chunar, Rajaram, Dayaram and Kriparam were brothers and being the eldest Rajaram was the karta and controlled the property. Rajaram had two sons Vijayram and Parashram. Vijairam fathered Usha my late aunt who died early of small pox, and Vishnu who is alive. He has also contributed to this monograph;

20. The other family of Chunar was of Vidyadhar Upasni. It is said that in 1890 he went to Hyderabad where he was given contract of some work of Nizam, and he came back in 1920-21 after earning about four lakh rupees. Vidyadhar had Ramkant, Radhakant and Lakshmikant (Mohan) as his sons. My grandmother was the daughter of Srikant Upasni, brother of Vidyadhar Upasni. Srikant Upasni was a railway contractor at Secunderabad, and later came to Chunar to settle down. He got established a College at Chunar where he became its founder-manager. He had only one daughter. My grandmother once told me that during his late teens my father had gone to his grandfather, and requested him to settle something in the name of his daughter, otherwise after his death legally all the property would go to his brother’s family. Srikant did not take any action immediately, but assured my father that he would do something. My father came back to Ghazipur, and after a few days ( or weeks) Srikant died and all his property went to his brother’s family. Remember the case of Vijaylaxmi Pandit?

21. Why have I done this exercise? I thought that it is time that somebody records it for the benefit of the posterity of this group, because after our generation dies, there would hardly be anybody who can remember these old stories. I admit that sometimes in details I have not been entirely frank and I have not shown some warts which I am sure would have hurt some people if I did. I don’t know whether I have done the correct thing or not, but I don’t want curses and abuses piled on me. I can also add that all the stories are based on hearsay. It is something like the Grandmother’s Tales meant for young children, but not that young! There could be some incidents which may not be fully true, or exaggerated. Well, whatever, this and the first part are a recorded account which was the aim. Any correction of suggestion are welcome. To repeat, I am grateful to Prahlad Rao Bhandari, Sushil Kumar Bhatt (Bachcha), Vishnu Joshi and Dr. Ashok Bhatt for their contribution.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#20. Jasmine in India

Jasminum rex

Jasminum rex

Jasminum sambac 'motia' मोतिया


Jasminum malabaricum , मुद गरा, रान मोगरा.

Wild Jasmine, J. augustifolium, wild jasmine. वन मल्लिका.

Jasminum sambac 'Japanese Rai' मोगरा.

J. sambac 'motia', मोतिया.




J. auriculatum जूही

Jasminum multiflorum कुंद


J. grandiflorum. Spanish Chameli

Jasminum officinale चमेली

J. flexile. Sometimes known in Hindi as मालती or चमेली.

Echites caryophyllata. मालती.

J. humile, सोनजुही.

J. nudiflorum

J. odoratissimum

राज चमेली. angel wing jasmine

Japanes primrose

(Picture credit to self, Flowers of India and Wikipedia. Labels denote the flower above it. )

Various varieties of Jasmines are found in India, and matching their botanical names to prevalent Hindi names has always been a nightmare to me. Bose and Choudhury's book mentions the following Jasmines in the category of shrubs:
1. Jasminum humile.
सोनजुही. There are a few more yellow jasmine varieties like:
(i) J. odoratissimum
(ii) J. nudiflorum: Winter Jasmine
(iii) J. mesnyi: Japanese jasmine, Primrose jasmine. All of them are exotic varieties which have been iiiintrodced.
2. Jasminum pubescens and J. pubescens 'Rubescens' कुंद
It is also known as J. multiflorum. Kund finds wide mention in ancient literature. Good, white set of teeth were compared to kund. Variety Rubescens has petals which are white on the inside and pink on the outside.
3. J. nervosum: wild kund. जंगली कुंद. It is native to Manipur. Wild cousin of #2.
4. Jasminum sambac (Arabian jasmine).
Various varieties are grown in In India:
(a). Japapnese sambac 'Rai' and 'Japanese Rai'
मोगरा. The two varieties differ in the size of the flower. Both have compact buds and flowers.
(b). J. sambac 'motia'
मोतिया. One of the most popular flowers of North India during the summer months। The flowers are used for garlands as well as for ladies’ hair. Lovely fragrance.

It is presumed that all these varieties are native to India.

In the category of climbers they have mentioned a larger number. Some more I have added. The contribution of Tabish to the list is acknowledged.

*1. Jasminum augustifolium: Wild jasmine.
वन मल्लिका
*2. J. sessiliflorum: Similar to J. augustifolium. Smaller leaves as compared to above.
*3. J. auriculatum
जूही. Hindi poets are very fond of this flower.
4. J.flexile: मालती, चमेली.
5. J. grandiflorum (Spanish Jasmine): Grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions, preferably in mild climate, for perfumery industry. It is similar to J. officinale.
*6. Jasminum officinale (white jasmine)
चमेली, यास्मीन. Native of Persia, China and North India. True jasmine. It is the national flower of Pakistan (Yasmin), as well as of Philippines (Sampaguita) and Indonesia (Melati).
*7. J. trinerve
*8. J. undulatum
9. J. nitidum: Angelwing jasmine. Royal jasmine. Introduced. Native to Papua New Guinea.
10. J. fluminense: River jasmine, Brazilian jasmine. Introduced. Woody vine.
*11. J. arboriscens: Tree jasmine. नाग मल्लि। Large, usually erect but sometimes climbing shrub. Various parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes.

All the varieties with asterisk are native. J. sambac is also named as Arabic Jasmine, so it could have been initially brought from Arabia, although it has been naturalised centuries ago. It may be noted that the concept and design of formal gardens have been brought to India by Mughals only.
There are reportedly 200 species of Jasmine which are native to tropical and warm climate of the old world. However, several varieties have duplicate names and in truth there seems to about 90 original varieties.

Another flower which is often considered Jasmine is Echites caryophyllata
मालती, a large woody climber which flowers profusely in the late summer and rains. It is a native of Florida, Mexico and West Indies.
For some varieties I have not mentioned the Hindi equivalent. I don't know them. I would request the members and readers for any help in this matter. Also any suggestions for improvement and correction are welcome.
Added on 8 April 2011.
Recently I came across another variety of Jamine in my favourite site 'indiantreepix'. This is Jasminum rex, a native of Thailand. The present photographs were taken by Aarti Khale at Kandy (Srilanka). (Pictures are at the top).