Thursday 24 September 2009

Water on Moon!

It's official! Water found on the Moon! It feels proud that India played a role in this discovery!
Look at the picture of the Moon taken by Chandrayaan spacecraft (Source: NASA) .

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Fatal Killer Poisonous Plants

The next time when you go for a trekking and got attracted to a beautiful plant or flower, and thought of tasting it, beware, you might be in a serious trouble! That plant could be a killer having a poisonous substance. Unless you are pretty sure about the plant, you should not be taking a risk!

Wondered about the killer plants?! Here is a list of 16 most fatal killer poisonous plants.

Friday 18 September 2009

Pages From History: Saligrama, The Sacred Deity

This article was published in Star Of Mysore newspaper on 12th Sep issue. In its website, they keep newspaper archives of only last 7 days. As I'm not sure about getting the link of this article after a day or two, I thought of pasting the article here.
Credit and Source: Star of Mysore

By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy
Salagrama, also called Saligrama is a sacred stone of unique character. Though it has a scientific explanation, its origin is shrouded in puranas and legends of great antiquity. Salagramas are found in almost all the important Mutts, temples and traditional homes.

Salagrama is a village on the banks of the river Gandaki in the Himalayas. Sage Viswamitra's son Salakayana had the darshan of Vishnu in a Sala tree in his house and hence the village came to be called Salagrama. It is also the name of a type of stone available in the Himalayas and Nepal, mostly on the banks of Gandaki river. The Gandaki river is an ancient river referred to in puranas and Mahabharatha. Its sacred nature has been described in Mahabharatha. Sri Krishna, Bhima, Arjuna and others are said to have crossed this river during their journey.

Salagrama stone

The river is also referred to as Narayani, Salagrami, Hiranyavati etc. Thus salagrama is intimately connected with Gandaki river. Thus Salagrama stone was used in ancient times to make idols and Siva-lingas. It is said that the image of Vishnu at Badari and the Krishna image at Udupi are made of Salagrama stone. Many ancient temples claim this distinction for the deities in their garbhagrihas.

However, the word Salagrama has another and more important connotation. It refers to a small roundish black stone with a small hole and some decorations like Chakra (wheel) or shankha (Conch) etc. These Salagramas are worshipped as Vishnu. There are many legends about the origin of Salagramas in the puranas. According to a legend, a woman by name Gandaki performed penance and when the gods appeared before her wanted that these gods should be born as her children. The gods refused and cursed her to be born as a river. In turn she cursed the gods to be born as worms in the river and hence gods were born as worms covered by a stone cover or shell known as Vajrakita and they came to be called as Salagramas.

According to another legend, Shani (Saturn) wanted to test his power against Vishnu. The latter to escape from Shani assumed the form of a hillock and hid himself in the river Gandaki. Shani went there also and destroyed this hillock and its pieces fell into the river. As they were parts of the body of Vishnu, they became as sacred as Vishnu himself and Gandaki also became sacred. Still one more legend connects Salagrama with Tulasi leaves. Tulasi was a highly devoted woman and by a curse she took birth on earth as a Tulasi plant. She prayed to Vishnu and he promised her that he himself will be born as Salagrama and she will adorn him always. That is why Salagramas are worshipped with Tulasi leaves. In fact, worship of Salagrama without Tulasi leaves is no worship at all.


Ancient texts describe the colour of Salagramas: Vasudeva Salagrama - White; Narayana S- Blue-Black; Vishnu S-dark; Damodara S- blue; Madhava S- honey coloured; Sankarshana S red; Narasimha S-tawny; Anan-tha S-multi coloured;
Vamana S- Atasi flower.

Their sizes vary from that of a gooseberry (nellikayi) to that of a ball. All Salagramas are not suitble for everybody and hence they have to be chosen with great care. That is why people who bring Salagramas for worship to their house, keep them temporarily for sometime and if nothing untoward happens, they may keep them permanently for worship. Salagramas are considered very powerful deities and daily rituals including the offering of the food (naivedya) are mandatory. Otherwise it will destroy the family itself.

Hence many people who cannot perform daily worship as per the tradition, hand over the Salagramas to the Mutts or temples for worship. Thus the people are afraid of the power of the Salagramas.

Adi Shankaracharya has specially recommended the worship of Salagrama because Vishnu resides in them. Ancient records also attest to the worship of Salagramas from second century BC.

According to geologists, Salagramas are the outer shells of worms which are now extinct. Thus they are fossils which are millions of years old. They are found all over the world at some pockets, including western countries. The worm which comes out of the shell makes different types of decorations mostly in the form of wheel, conch etc. They are available in plenty in Gandaki river.

Narasimha Salagrama

Traditionally Narasimha Salagramas are considered very sacred and highly powerful. There are 24 varieties of Narasimha Salagramas. They generally contain four or two wheels. Generally Narasimha Salagramas are rare. Nowadays, greedy persons in Nepal are manufacturing artificial (fake) Salagrama by using modern technology. Hence one should be very careful in buying a Salagrama in Nepal or any other holy place.

Dr. Mathoorji during his discourse mentioned an incident which took place decades ago. A rich man in Chennai died and his two sons divided all the property without any difficulty, except a Salagrama which was under worship. Both the brothers claimed it and ultimately it went to the Privy Council. The English Judge, amused over the case relating to a piece of black stone, said 'cut it into two pieces and let each brother take one piece'. To an Englishman it was just a black stone but to the millions of Hindus, it is the symbol and abode of Vishnu, the protector. Next time when you visit a temple, look for a Salagrama in it.

[Inputs: S.K. Ramachandra Rao and Dr. V.S. Sampathkumarachar].

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Haunted Railway station reopens

Begunkodor railway station which is 260KM from the state capital Calcutta was closed for nearly 42 years. The reason: In 1967, a railway worker is said to have died after he saw a woman ghost in white Saree! The result: Railway station was closed and there was no stop for the trains passing this station!

It seems the whole ghost story was cooked-up by railway officials as they never wanted a posting in a remote place! Now, the same station has reopened. I wonder why it took 42 years to know the truth! Or is it that the woman ghost has also left the place as no train was stopping over there!

Obviously, the villagers are celebrating the occasion as they can board a train after a long 42 years gap!

Note: Recently, there was a news in Bengaluru that, some policemen saw ghosts in the High Court campus. I hope high court will not get closed!

Monday 7 September 2009

Ten classic conspiracy theories

Here are ten interesting conspiracy theories listed. As you might have guessed, this list includes Apollo moon landing and 9/11 attack. Read on here.