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Sketch (6)….

By Ankit lamba
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The immortal Parshuram ……

Parshuram is the sixth Avatar of Lord Vishnu. He was born to Saptarishi Jamadagni and Goddess Renuka in the Dwapara Yuga. There are a lot of legends associated with Parshuram that prove his greatness.

On that note, let’s take a look at some key facts about Parshuram –

1. Parshuram was gifted his famous axe (Parashu) due to his strict penance to Lord Shiva.

2. He is one of the seven immortals of Hinduism.

3. Parshuram is an important character in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

4. He was a gifted warrior who passed his skills onto Dronacharya, Bhisma and Karna.

5. On the command of his father, Parshuram beheaded his mother for her impure thoughts and killed his disobedient brothers too.

6. Pleased with his loyalty, Jamadagni offered him two boons and Parshuram chose to bring his mother and brothers back to life.

7. Lord Shiva was the mentor of Parshuram and He instructed Parshuram to destroy all evil on earth.

8. Kshatriya King Kartavirya went to Jamadagni’s ashram and stole the holy calf that was gifted to him by Lord Indra. Enraged by this act of crime, Parshuram killed the thousand armed Sahasrarjun Kartavirya and the calf was rescued.

9. Impressed by his courage and strength, Lord Indra offered his famous bow Vijaya to Parshuram. This bow was later given to Karna by Parshuram.

10. To avenge Kartavirya’s death, his sons killed Parshuram’s father Jamdagni and took his head to Mahishmati kingdom. In return he killed all Kshatriyas 21 times to restore peace to the earth.

11. Parshuram’s bow was used during Sita Swayamvar in Ramayana and Rama was the only one who could lift it, but it broke in half. When he realized that Rama was his own incarnation, he passed on his bow to Rama.

12. Parshuram saved the lands of Kerala and Konkan from drowning and stopped the advance of the Arabian Sea. As the land was barren, he worshipped Nagaraja, who made the soil fertile again.

13. Once Parshuram was enraged at the Sun for excessive heat and attacked it with his arrows. When he sent his wife to fetch more arrows, Suryadev came and offered Prshuram an umbrella and slippers for protection from heat.

14. Parshuram and Saptarishi Agasthya founded Kalaripayattu, which is the oldest martial art known to mankind.

15. According to some legends Parshuram the immortal warrior sage, still lives at the Mahendragiri Mountain peak in Orissa.

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Srinivasa Ramanujan…..

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) was an Indian mathematician who made great and original contributions to many mathematical fields, including complex analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. He was “discovered” by G. H. Hardy and J. E. Littlewood, two world-class mathematicians at Cambridge, and enjoyed an extremely fruitful period of collaboration with them from 1914 to 1919. Unfortunately, his mathematical career was curtailed by health problems; he returned to India and died when he was only 32 years old.

Hardy, who was a great mathematician in his own right, recognized Ramanujan’s genius from a series of letters that Ramanujan sent to mathematicians at Cambridge in 1913. Like much of his writing, the letters contained a dizzying array of unique and difficult results, stated without much explanation or proof. The contrast between Hardy, who was above all concerned with mathematical rigor and purity, and Ramanujan, whose writing was difficult to read and peppered with mistakes but bespoke an almost supernatural insight, produced a rich partnership.

Since his death, Ramanujan’s writings (many contained in his famous notebooks) have been studied extensively. Some of his conjectures and assertions have led to the creation of new fields of study. Some of his formulas are believed to be true but as yet unproven.

There are many existing biographies of Ramanujan. The Man Who Knew Infinity, by Robert Kanigel, is an accessible and well-researched historical account of his life.

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Tansen…….

Tansen (c. 1493/1500 – 1586), also referred to as Tan Sen or Ramtanu, was a prominent figure of Hindustani classical music. Born in a Hindu family, he learned and perfected his art in the northwest region of modern Madhya Pradesh. He began his career and spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of the Hindu king of Rewa, Raja Ramchandra Singh (r.1555–1592), where Tansen’s musical abilities and studies gained widespread fame. This reputation brought him to the attention of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who sent messengers to Raja Ramchandra Singh, requesting Tansen to join the musicians at the Mughal court. Tansen did not want to go, but Raja Ramchandra Singh encouraged him to gain a wider audience, and sent him along with gifts to Akbar. In 1562, about the age of 60, the Vaishnava musician Tansen joined the Akbar court, and his performances became a subject of many court historians.

Numerous legends have been written about Tansen, mixing facts and fiction, and the historicity of these stories is doubtful.Akbar considered him as one of the Navaratnas (nine jewels), and gave him the title Mian, an honorific, meaning learned man.

Tansen was a composer, musician and vocalist, to whom many compositions have been attributed in northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. He was also an instrumentalist who popularized and improved musical instruments. He is among the most influential personalities in North Indian tradition of Indian classical music, called Hindustani. His 16th century studies in music and compositions inspired many, and he is considered by numerous North Indian gharana (regional music schools) as their lineage founder.

Tansen is remembered for his epic Dhrupad compositions, creating several new ragas, as well as for writing two classic books on music Sri Ganesh Stotra and Sangita Sara.

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India’s ASTROSAT makes rare discovery….

An artist's impression of Astrosat, with its various instruments mounted on top. Photo courtesy: ISRO

ASTROSAT, Indias first multi- wavelength satellite observatory, has detected an extreme ultraviolet (UV) light from a galaxy which is 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth, the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) said on Monday.null

A release from the Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics said a global team led by IUCAA scientists have achieved the major breakthrough.

“Indias first multi-wavelength satellite, which has five unique X-ray and ultraviolet telescopes working in tandem, AstroSat, has detected extreme-UV light from a galaxy, called AUDFs01, 9.3 billion light-yearsaway from Earth,” said it said.

The discovery was made by an international team of astronomers led by Dr Kanak Saha, associate professor of astronomy at the IUCAA, and published on August 24 by ‘Nature Astronomy’, the release said.

This team comprised scientists from India, France, Switzerland, the USA, Japan and The Netherlands.

Saha and his team observed the galaxy, which is located in the Hubble Extreme Deep field, through AstroSat.

These observations lasted for more than 28 hours in October 2016, the release stated.

But it took nearly two years since then to carefully analyse the data to ascertain that the emission is indeed from the galaxy. Since UV radiation is absorbed by Earths atmosphere, it has to be observed from space, it said.

Earlier, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST), a significantly larger than UVIT (UV imaging telescope), did not detect any UV emission (with energygreater than 13.6 eV) from this galaxy because it is too faint, it said.

AstroSat/UVIT was able to achieve this unique feat because the background noise in the UVITdetector is much less than the ones on HST,” said the release quoting Saha.

Saha said they knew it would be an uphill task to convince the international community that UVIT has recorded extreme-UV emission from this galaxy when more powerful HST has not.

Dr Somak Raychaudhury, Director of IUCAA, said, “This is a very important clue to how the dark ages of the universe ended and there was light in the universe.

“We need to know when this started, but it has been very hard to find the earliest sources of light. I am very proud that my colleagues have made such an important discovery

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Music of the gods……..

Pandit Jasraj, who passed away in New Jersey aged 90, was one of the last great Hindustani classical vocalists. Birbal My Brother, a nondescript film released in 1975, has a jugalbandhi of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Jasraj. For years, admirers have argued over who fared better in this rare Malkauns: Joshi, the Kirana gharana legend or Jasraj, the Mewati gharana master who was eight years junior to Joshi? There is no conclusive answer because both the musicians refused to confine themselves in their gharanas and included what they liked in other schools to embellish their own personal styles.

Like Joshi, Jasraj too didn’t consider music an elite art. He added elements of the thumri to the khayal, giving the latter more malleability and making it more audience-friendly. This would have been considered blasphemous half a century ago, when the khayal was serious business and the bandish would be sung with a certain indifference. He brought haveli sangeet to the stage and introduced Jasrangi — the male-female duet in different ragas — in concert platforms. He also added bhajans to his repertoire, which enabled him to reach a wider audience.

His initial training was in tabla. But when a senior musician questioned his knowledge of music by saying he only “pounded dead flesh”, a hurt Jasraj decided to master vocal music. And master he did. The audience loved him. How could he, drawn to music in his childhood by the voice of the great Begum Akhtar, not be sensitive to his audience? He was friendly with them, never high strung and impatient, unlike many of his illustrious contemporaries. He would oblige their farmaish and sing popular pieces such as Mata Kalika and Mero Allah Meherbaan. His singing evoked the feeling of being in a place of worship, a space with a heightened level of energy, where God sat with us and listened to the music in admiration.

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Sketch (5)…..

By Ankit lamba
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History of Vaccines…….

Edward Jenner, born in mid-18th century England, would eventually become one of the most famous scientists in medical history and the so-named “Father of Immunology.” After observing that cowpox infection seemed to protect humans against smallpox, Jenner inoculated an eight-year-old boy with cowpox matter from a blister on the hand of an English milkmaid. He then repeatedly attempted to “challenge” the cowpox inoculation by exposing the boy to smallpox material—but the boy never fell ill. Jenner had demonstrated smallpox immunization.

Jenner’s method of vaccination against smallpox grew in popularity and eventually replaced variolation, which had been the standard before his demonstration. In the latter part of the 20th century, about 150 years after Jenner’s death in 1823, smallpox would be making its last gasps. It would eventually be eradicated after a massive surveillance and vaccination program—thanks largely to the initial efforts of the Father of Immunology.

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Saving a tree….

A community banded together to resurrect a 200-year-old Banyan in Goa, and showed the way

For decades, Class 7 students across India have been taught that “only God can make a tree”. But the poem by Joyce Kilmer, included in the NCERT textbook, forgot to add that if enough people get together, they can bring one back to life. In Goa, as this paper reported, people from across the country and the world banded together to resurrect a fallen banyan tree. The tree was uprooted during a storm and thought to be dead. After much coordination, fundraising and multiple efforts, it was put back into place earlier this week. The dendrophiles involved in reviving “The Source” (as it is called by people who dance under and near it), are a diverse group — the owner of the land on which it sits, a local construction crew, experts who flew down from as far as Hyderabad, and people who had visited the site from across the world who donated money.

There is an intrinsic value to the 200-year-old tree — by sheer virtue of its size, it is a small ecosystem unto itself. But its true value, the reason so many people from such diverse backgrounds banded together to save it, is that it had become an organic part of the community. Apart from being home to a snake, the resting place for a bull and many other insects, birds and animals, it served as a source of income for the owner: She charged a modest fee for the tourists and expats who gathered around it. The “community” that led the restoration effort was bound together by the memories, stories, dance and music — culture, really — fostered around the giant banyan.

There is a lesson in the resurrection. Too often, “nature” is seen in opposition to people. The banyan at Arambol is just one tree. But perhaps, at a time when much of the world is isolated, it can serve as an example of how to build a better world, with people, not despite them.

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Formless infinite principle……

In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the glories of the Lord that had been spoken of in the seventh and also in the ninth chapters are explained further. Repeated references are for the sake of reinforcing the mysterious and mystic aspects of the Lord’s infinite glories that are shown here to be only a mere speck of what remains unknown and unfathomable, pointed out Swamini Satyavratananda in a discourse. As one tries to meditate on the Lord’s Vibhuti, the upasana gets strengthened gradually. The most striking aspect of His glories is the inherent dual aspect, the manifest and the unmanifest forms He assumes. The manifestation is for the sake of His devotees who are keen to know more about Him. In fact, it is possible to invoke the Infinite God even in a small handmade mould of Haridra Kumkum.null

God is always available to His bhaktas in whatever form they wish. When He appears as Rama, Krishna or Devi, it is to be understood that these are forms of the one and eternal ‘changeless, formless, infinite principle.’ These forms are aids to realisation as in the case of Saint Thyagaraja’s Rama bhakti or in the case of Meera Bai who shines in her Krishna bhakti.

Their devotion makes them perceive the eternal Lord in their Ishta devata with whom they are able to converse with ease. The Purana stories are to be interpreted as symbolic of higher truths with the help of sastra knowledge even as they are storehouses of moral values for the common man to imbibe. The puranas try to capture the infinite principle in tangible terms even as a picture that captures a memorable moment is only a version of the reality. One has to seek beyond the representation that speaks of a Ravana with ten heads, or of a physical destination such as Vaikunta or Kailasa