Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Travels & Advocacy in Assam Boat Clinics on the Brahmaputra Teaser: JafaJourney bring out the story of the Boat clinics on the mighty Brahmaputra river, a program by the nonstate actor Centre f…

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Travels & Advocacy in Assam: Boat Clinics on the Brahmaputra

 

Teaser: Jafa Journey bring out the story of the Boat clinics on the mighty Brahmaputra river, a program by the non-state actor Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research. Travelling in Incredible India is more than exotic of Maharajas, IT, it is about the Grass-roots voices that assert sustaining dignity of communities

 

Boat clinc -1Jafa Journey – stories  programs by  non-state actor Travelling is about Grass-root voices

Boat clinic - 2

Bringing out representation of non-state actors in development forms an important part of the Jafa Journeys and part of untold stories on India. In Assam one of the most remarkable work that was factored was a visit to a Boat Clinic run by Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research. The program officer Ritu Rekha met us at the Ferry at Nimatighat. The Ferry a small township with cars, people, and shops would take us Majuli, the largest river island. Ritu along with six other spend much of their time in the boat clinic which caters to people in the and bar islands – Chars. On landing in Majuli, we drove to one of the boat clinics. In a note be the Centre this was presented:

The char/sapories areas are very sensitive ecological component and regarded as an important element in the river hydrodynamics and river morphology. The density and types of char/sapori in different stages of river are different. The most suitable chars/sapories for human habitation formed in the upper reaches of the river are those islands detached from the mainland due to course of river channel shifting. Chars/sapories having good quality of soil and productivity are formed in the lower reaches of the river. Thus the density of the char/sapories is thin at the upper reaches of the river but the density of River Island is higher at the lower region of the river. This is the prevailing condition of island formation in case of river Brahmaputra. The islands are very prone to erosion and are mostly semi-permanent to temporary in nature, so there is a variation of inhibiting populace due to migration. The process of sediment deposition is a routine activity of the river, while temporary islands are washed away during floods, new land mass forms at a different location downstream. Since the actual number of river Islands and population in these islands is not constant, routine monitoring of these aspects is very important.

The health sector services in the char/chapori suffers the worst, both due to lack of infrastructures and health professional due to inaccessibility, recurring flood, intensive erosion, lower literacy rate, chronic poverty, superstition, dogmatic social transformation etc. In this existing system and situation the boat clinic units have been serving very effectively, lowering down the MMR, IMR and morbidity considerably though various socio-economic and environmental factors act as barriers to holistic health related interventions by the Boat Clinic program.

Committed team of boat master, cook, nurses, attendants this is a remarkable statement of the way Incredible India really functions. Do watch the Ted Talk by Dr. Sanjoy Hazarika n this initiative :

Boat of Hope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9DWeH6EjXQ

 

 

 

 

Travels & Advocacy in Assam

Boat Clinics on the Brahmaputra

Teaser: JafaJourney bring out the story of the Boat clinics on the mighty Brahmaputra river, a program by the nonstate actor Centre for North East Studies & Policy Research. Travelling in Incredible India is more than exotic of Maharajas, IT, it is about the Grass-roots voices that assert sustaining dignity of communities

Boat clinc -1

 

Bringing out representation of non-state actors in development forms an important part of the Jafa Journeys and part of untold stories on India. In Assam one of the most remarkable work that was factored was a visit to a Boat Clinic run by Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research. The program officer Ritu Rekha met us at the Ferry at Nimatighat. The Ferry was a small township with cars, people, and shops and it would take us to Majuli, the largest river island. Ritu along with six other spend much of their time in the boat clinic which caters to people in the sand bar islands – Chars. On landing in Majuli, we drove to one of the boat clinic. Here is  a note that was presented by the  Centre on the geography of such sand bar islands :

The char/sapories areas are very sensitive ecological component and regarded as an important element in the river hydrodynamics and river morphology. The density and types of char/sapori in different stages of river are different. The most suitable chars/sapories for human habitation formed in the upper reaches of the river are those islands detached from the mainland due to course of river channel shifting. Chars/sapories having good quality of soil and productivity are formed in the lower reaches of the river. Thus the density of the char/sapories is thin at the upper reaches of the river but the density of River Island is higher at the lower region of the river. This is the prevailing condition of island formation in case of river Brahmaputra. The islands are very prone to erosion and are mostly semi-permanent to temporary in nature, so there is a variation of inhibiting populace due to migration. The process of sediment deposition is a routine activity of the river, while temporary islands are washed away during floods, new land mass forms at a different location downstream. Since the actual number of river Islands and population in these islands is not constant, routine monitoring of these aspects is very important.

The health sector services in the char/chapori suffers the worst, both due to lack of infrastructures and health professional due to inaccessibility, recurring flood, intensive erosion, lower literacy rate, chronic poverty, superstition, dogmatic social transformation etc. In this existing system and situation the boat clinic units have been serving very effectively, lowering down the MMR, IMR and morbidity considerably though various socio-economic and environmental factors act as barriers to holistic health related interventions by the Boat Clinic program.

Committed team of boat master, cook, nurses, attendants this is a remarkable statement of the way Incredible India really functions. Do watch the Ted Talk by Dr. Sanjoy Hazarika n this initiative :

Boat of Hope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9DWeH6EjXQ

Boat clinic - 2

Untold Stories – Performed India: Mighty Untamable, Unconquered Brahmaputra: Based on Lecture by Dr. Arupjyoti Saikia – I.I.T Guwahati, Assam

Brahmaputra- boat makingTeaser: Brahmaputra- One of the three rivers of India which in mythic imagination is a male river remains untamed and unconquered. One of the largest rivers of the world which has caught and is embedded in the common imagination of the Assamese.

Performed Stories -Assam: Gateway to North East India

The Gateway to the North East is often viewed as a space of human migration, displacement, nature’s fury through floods, voices of dissent and protest, and yet the value of its cultural, natural richness and diversity emerges emerged through the Ambulatory Seminar crafted, curated and executed by Dr. Navina Jafa.

Thematically organized by Dr. Navina Jafa the travel journey on and of Assam was a spectacular window into the multi layered cultural, natural tangible and intangible heritage of Assam. A comprehensive glimpse of Incredible India.

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Brahmaputra- One of the three rivers of India which in mythic imagination is a male river remains untamed and unconquered. One of the largest rivers of the world which has caught and is embedded in the common imagination of the Assamese. The Brahmaputra called ‘Luhit’ in Assamese is derived from the word which means ‘blood’. The river which is perceived as a Male river unlike Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada or even Godavari finds mention in the 58th canto of markandeyapurana. The myth associated with the river speaks of the birth of the river in the womb of Amogha, the wife of sage Shantanu. The semen came from Brahma, the God of creation. She delivered the baby in a place called yugandhara, and Sage Shantanu placed this creation now called brahmakunda in the middle of four mountains. The lake grew and Parusaram, one of the incarnation of Vishnu, the God of protection took his axe and released the water. Like many other myths, the reflection of reality is about seismic and geological movement. The river carries one of the largest amount of sediments in the world, such that in one year 200 million trucks can be filled. Its terrain as well as its protector from the greed of human species which has exploded in the last 200 years is the fault line and its underground reality of seismic zone. The sediments that it carries creates hundreds of sand bar islands locally called ‘Char’ with which the humans interact and coexist  based on its flood cycle which is always uncertain. Its width is huge, sometimes varying from one to 18 kilometers near Dibrugarh. The inherent nature which is temperamental, volatile from changing its course (especially due to earthquakes, and sediments) to its natural flooding.

Until recently say 100 years before, human settlements did not risk settling on or near the river. It is believed that the first Ahom King Sukapha when he came weighed the sand in sample of the water of the river, and decided that since it was too heavy it would not make any sense to build a settlement on or near the river. Hence, the great Ahom dynasty that ruled the area for 600 years from 13th to 18thc used it as a battlefield, King Sukapha also invested much on river engineered boats. Until 1965 Indo Pak war, the river was a vibrant maritime trade waterway and was covered with boats.

The seismic geographical reality has made the river untamable, and although there has been talks on creating dams along with creating reservoirs not much has been done. Creating reservoirs is expensive and creating tall dams on a river in the seismic zone not very practical.

With migration and population growth people have begun to reside on the Chars, but their lives are uncertain. The river is there in the people’s imagination captured in folk songs rituals, customs, agriculture and much more. It is the central part of the eco-system in Assam – turbulent, temperamental over and with which human greed and aspiration can but only humbly submit. A thought which is reflected in the song by the iconic folk singer of Assam Dr. Bhupen Hazarika – “piercing the barrier of darkness a stream of light will flow and earthen lamps will illuminate the banks of the luit with the light of wisdom… humanism will be embraced and science will bring forth a tidal wave of knowledge… the banks of Luit will light up again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets Of Ladakh- Water Shrines- Travel & Advocacy

Untold Stories on Performed India- Secrets of Ladakh –

Water Shrines in the Cold Desert

Tour Scheduled – 8th- 13th September, 2016 email : indianculturalheritageresearch@gmail.com

In Ladakh, spring water Water stoneas and remains a precious resource. Unfortunately, while the earlier generations understood the significance of spring water and thus provided interesting ways to avoid pollution and contamination, the up scaled tourism in this Buddhist landscape has meant that traditional knowledge and practices are becoming redundant.  The opening of Ladakh to tourism meant that the local people gradually became exposed to ‘development’ and changes and in that run they started neglecting their traditional practices. Now, with greater awareness there is growing consciousness to protect both the environment and their resources. One aspect of traditional practices was the creation of Water shrines in Ladakh as community initiatives. An example of this is the reverence given to sources of spring water.

Come summer, just five short months, and the people in the valleys in Ladakh start working round the clock. Their lives revolve around preparing for the long winter. From collecting and drying fodder for their cattle to drying vegetables and other food on their flat roofs. Water is priceless. Glaciers melt and the springs generate the revered source and supply.

One such manifestation of reverence can be seen in Leh. In earlier times communities, monasteries, rulers or rich merchants erected rock sculptures above a spring water source. The chosen sculptures would usually be five dhyani Buddhas. The aspects of the idea of Buddha are a part of the Vajrayana Buddhism or the tantric system of Buddhism. They are represented by five colors – white, blue, yellow, red and green (the same colors of the prayer flags). Each of the Buddhas are associated with countering one aspect of delusion and one aspect of the enlightened mind, they are also associated with the five elements, five senses, five physical organs, five physical conditions and much more.

The placing of rock sculptures of the 5 Buddhas along with an urn to burn incense and hanging of prayer flags created a  community sacred shrine around the source of the spring water. The idea of sacredness prevented contamination and pollution of the water source.

There is one such shrine just below the palace in Leh called Chubi Yokma. The land of this water source is owned by the Hemis monastery which is one of the largest and richest in Ladakh.

Built in the 17th c by the Namgyal Ruler, the water source for drinking water served not only the King and his palace but also 208 families who lived around the hill where the Leh palace is situated. It was the King who had commissioned for the 5 dyani Buddhas to be sculpted. Later 4 of the sculptures were relocated at the Sankar Monastery or Gompa (as a monastery is called in Ladakh). Only the heaviest of the five monoliths was left behind.

With time, as development and tourism gained popularity both the Leh palace and the shrine of the spring water were neglected. In 2009, a local historian Sonam Phuntsog from the beautiful village of Achinathang appealed to Ladakh Buddhist Association and to the administration of the Hemis monastery to restore the shrine. The sculpture which had fallen and sunk into the ground was along with the source itself was restored by the Green Ladakh Welfare Society.

Setting of Ajanta Caves: Victory to Future Buddha

IMG-20150817-WA0001
Story 3: Setting of Ajanta Caves
Sitting with Dr. M.N. Despande, former Director General of Archaeological Survey of India on top of the view point from where in 1819 the hunting party led by cavalry officer John Smith re-discovered the world Heritage site of Ajanta, I was explained the rational of choosing the site for Monsoon retreat both for the Buddhist monks as well as the common people, like the traders on the east-west trade route as well as the common people. From the Upanishads (Indian texts of inner mystical teachings) he quoted…  A place of meditation is one where the searching soul hears the rippling water, and his eyes sees the path of truth and beauty through the environment… this was why Ajanta which comes from the word Ajitanjaya Sthan – Victory to the Future Buddha the enlightened one was selected . The site comes alive only and only during the monsoons.  Of all the thirty Buddhist caves on the opposite side of the Waghora river which are in a compact horse shoe shape, four are chaityas (prayer halls) and the rest are viharas (places of dalliance which were used as rest place and rain shelters). And amidst the basalt volcanic rock are the waterfalls.  When one enters the caves after walking through the setting, one is beheld by a narrative through the journey of Buddha to a road of enlightenment as well as one of submission, where the journey ends in cave 26 with the prototype of the dying Buddha which goes on to inspire large number of sleeping and dying Buddha in different countries there is only silence, and somewhere outside the cave one can hear the rippling water of the waterfall and the Waghora (Tiger) river…

 

Aurangabad, Ajanta, Ellora and Grushneshwar Jyotirlinga

Academic Tour scheduled – 1st -3rd July 2016

Limited seats

 

 

Ellora Caves Cave 16 – The World of Shiva

Gaj Lakshmi- Ellora3 river goddesses- ElloraKamdeva- Ellora

 Teaser :

The Cave 16 Kailash Temple in the Ellora Caves made of Granite rock is dug from Top to Bottom representing the idea of formless evolving into form. The pilgrim enters the mammoth cave into the world of Shiva, his odyssey is traversing lands of symbols and myths. He concludes his journey of the pilgrim in the sanctum called Garbh Grah (womb chamber) the intent is to recede again as formless.
For the pilgrim in the cave of Kailash it is about transmigration into spiritual ecstasy. There is a circumambulatory path which the pilgrim audience follows, lives only to return symbolically to where he began his life.

Story 2:On entering the cave and before accessing the World of Shiva, interestingly there is a practical reality check, one is confronted by the image of Gaj Lakshmi , (Goddess of wealth accompanied by two elephants). This relief is one of the most beautiful representation of the Goddess, reminding the audience that such a mammoth architectural site was possible only through benevolent energies of Lakshmi and on one of the walls in inner porch door facing the Goddess is the image of Ganesh  (elephant God of removing impediments). The sculptural relief of Lakshmi is breathtaking when one sees not only the striking full body of the goddess as she sits proudly on the eternal waters, but the lotus leaves on the water made in granite stones have dew drops, and between the leaves one can see water life.

The pilgrim then turns left and formally begins his odyssey to his inner self which begins by turning his back to Kamadev the god of sensory distraction. He now faces sculpted reliefs of the three river Goddesses – Saraswati – the symbol of the power of rational mind which is central to a man’s evolution, Jamuna – symbol of devotion or commitment toward a focused goal and Ganga- symbol of ultimate purification.  The pilgrim travels in rock cut corridors, up and down viewing various  panels of sculptural reliefs that elaborate on the ideas represented by the river goddesses and also the idea of Shiva as mentioned in the article yesterday; and finally the pilgrim comes into the  sanctum  which is the dark cave representing the recess of retreat of where he began his life… there in darkness in the sanctum the inner chamber is where the final process happens where the outer form transcends into formless; there is situated the Grey black stone austere Shiva Linga – the symbol of unity of being, of dissolution, of submergence into shoonyata   or void…. silence the idea of Shiva!

Hidden Story of Ellora Caves in Sahyadri Hills

23rd  April 2017: : Journey into the Self – Story 1-  World Heritage Site – Ellora Caves

Kailash - Cave 16Navina Jafa 

The Idea of Shiva

If the female sound of ‘ ee’  is removed… it becomes –shav

A dead Body

But Shiva is the Ying and the Yang

It is a process…

From the form of Shiva as a householder, a demon killer

He becomes form in transition – Form-formless

He is the meditative Yogacharya 

As Energy evolves Shiva becomes Formless

Which is the Central Axiom – Shivalinga 

 

Dr. M. N. Despande, the former Director General of Archaeological Survey of India led me to the Cave Number 16 known as the Kailash, the mythical abode of Shiva, a multilayered symbol that resolves contradictions. Dr. Despande lived, breathed walked and slept the amazing caves carved in the Deccan from volcanic rocks and in his last days he taught me their inner secrets, which I perform as untold stories in my tours.

Both Ajanta and Ellora are a part of trade routes, and like other archaeological sites statements of power of the ruling Kings. This story is a peep into one aspect of Ellora. On one occasion just as I performed the narrative of Ellora, I saw a group of Inchegeri Sampradaya Nathpanthies in front of Kailash.

I requested this group ascetic yogis to sing one of their songs. The Naths are Yogis prevalent in different parts of India, the ones in Maharashtra are Lingayats or -Shiva worshippers. The Nath movement was a social reform movement between 12-18thc which allowed people from all castes to find themselves through the otherwise high Hindu God Shiva. This inclusive caste democratization in Western India was influenced by the  Mystical Islamic Sufis who allowed  the entry of all people irrespective of gender, caste or creed to participate in spiritual journeys.

The  group of white clad Nathpanthi with cymbals and drums stood before the weathered Sculpture of Shiva just on the opening on the left of the Cave. It was weathered but Shiva was spectacular – Striding across the granite rock he carried on his right shoulder, his own formless self – the linga, , and the Nathpathanies with tears rolling down sang – dekhiliyo, dekiliyo, saara jag deekhi leeyo  – Seeing, seeing this Shiva in Kailash I have seen the entire cosmos.

Tour Scheduled – 1st-3rd July, 2016, write to indianculturalheritageresearhc@gmail.com