Monday, August 31, 2009

Did Lord Krishna Exist ?

Did Krishna exist?

Most certainly, says Dr Manish Pandit, a nuclear medicine physician who teaches in the United Kingdom, proffering astronomical, archaeological, linguistic and oral evidences to make his case.

"I used to think of Krishna is a part of Hindu myth and mythology. Imagine my surprise when I came across Dr Narhari Achar (a professor of physics at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, in the US) and his research in 2004 and 2005. He had done the dating of the Mahabharata war using astronomy. I immediately tried to corroborate all his research using the regular Planetarium software and I came to the same conclusions [as him]," Pandit says.

Which meant, he says, that what is taught in schools about Indian history is not correct?

The Great War between the Pandavas and the Kauravas took place in 3067 BC, the Pune-born Pandit, who did his MBBS from BJ Medical College there, says in his first documentary, Krishna: History or Myth?.

Pandit's calculations say Krishna was born in 3112 BC, so must have been 54-55 years old at the time of the battle of Kurukshetra.

Pandit is also a distinguished astrologer, having written several books on the subject, and claims to have predicted that Sonia Gandhi would reject prime ministership, the exact time at which Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati would be released on bail and also the Kargil war.

Pandit, as the sutradhar of the documentary Krishna: History or Myth?, uses four pillars -- archaeology, linguistics, what he calls the living tradition of India and astronomy to arrive at the circumstantial verdict that Krishna was indeed a living being, because Mahabharata and the battle of Kurukshetra indeed happened, and since Krishna was the pivot of the Armageddon, it is all true.

You are a specialist in nuclear medicine. What persuaded you to do a film on the history/myth of Krishna? You think there are too many who doubt? Is this a politico-religious message or a purely religious one?
We are always taught that Krishna is a part of Hindu myth and mythology. And this is exactly what I thought as well. But imagine my surprise when I came across Dr Narhari Achar (of the Department of Physics at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, in the US) and his research somewhere in 2004 and 2005. He had done the dating of the Mahabharata war using astronomy.

I immediately tried to corroborate all his research using the regular Planetarium software and I came to the same conclusions. This meant that what we are taught in schools about Indian history is not correct.

I also started wondering about why this should be so. I think that a mixture of the post-colonial need to conform to western ideas of Indian civilisation and an inability to stand up firmly to bizarre western ideas are to blame. Also, any attempt at a more impartial look at Indian history is given a saffron hue.

I decided that I could take this nonsense no more, and decided to make films to show educated Indians what their true heritage was. The pen is mightier than the sword is an old phrase but I thought of new one: Film is the new pen.

Any ideas I have will receive wide dissemination through this medium.

I wanted to present a true idea of Indian history unfettered by perception, which was truly scientific, not just somebody's hypothesis coloured by their perceptions and prejudices.

Why not a documentary on Rama, who is more controversial in India today? Proof of his existence would certainly be more than welcome today...
A documentary on Rama is forthcoming in the future. But the immediate reason I deferred that project is the immense cost it would entail. Whereas research on Krishna and Mahabharata was present and ready to go.

Further more, Rama according to Indian thought, existed in the long hoary ancient past of Treta Yuga, where science finds it difficult to go.

There is a controversial point in your documentary where someone Isckon monk alludes to Krishna as being the father of Jesus. How can you say that since there is an age gap of roughly 3000 years between the two spiritual giants?
Is Krishna the spiritual father of Jesus? That is what the person who was training to be a Roman Catholic priest, and who now worships Krishna, asks. The answer comes within the field of comparative religion and theology.
The Biblical scriptures qualify Jesus as the son of God. Most Indians have no problems accepting this as Hindus are a naturally secular people. However, then the question that arises is, if Jesus is the son, then who is the Father or God Himself?

Now, Biblical scriptures do not really give the answer except to say that the Father is all-powerful and omnipresent. Now, of course, we know that Jesus does not say that he is omnipresent or omnipotent.

Now, no scripture can live as an island, all by itself, and the Srimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures such as the Bramha Samhita all call Krishna as an all powerful, omnipresent being.

So, if we use these words of Bhagavatam, there can be no other truth, which means that Krishna is the father of all living creation.

But it does not mean that Jesus is not divine. Jesus is indeed divine. What I liked about the monks in my documentary is that they do not denigrate Jesus although they worship Krishna as God. They keep Jesus in their hearts, while worshipping Krishna. What could be more secular or more Christian?

3067 BC is when the Mahabharata war took place, says Dr Achar. How did he arrive at this?
There are more than 140 astronomy references in the Mahabharata. Dr Achar used simulations of the night sky to arrive at November 22, 3067 BC, as the day the Mahabharata war began.

He used the references common to Udyoga and Bhisma Parvan initially, and so Saturn at Rohini, Mars at Jyestha with initially only the two eclipses, Lunar at Kartika and Solar at Jyestha.

Let me tell you how rare this set of astronomical conjunctions is.

The Saros cycle of eclipses is periodic at 19 years and so is the Metonic cycle of lunar phases.

So if I say that Amavasya has occured at Jyestha, then this will occur again in 19 years, but if I say that a solar eclipse has occured at Jyestha, then this occurs again at Jyestha only after 340 years. Add Saturn at Rohini and we take this to 1 in 7,000 years. This set of conjunctions takes all of these into consideration, but also takes all the other data into consideration.

So now, we know about Balarama's pilgrimage tithis and nakshatras, and believe it or not, all that fits the 3067 BC date perfectly.

And to top it all, so does the repetition of the three eclipses described at the destruction of Dwarka 36 years later.

This would explain why so many other researchers tried and failed to find the date of the Mahabharata war as it is based on such a unique set of astronomy that it occured only once in the last 10,000 years.

So essentially, your thesis is that since the Mahabharata war actually happened, as confirmed by astronomical deduction, Krishna was also a living entity since he's the fulcrum of the Great War?
Not just that, but the fact that archaeology, oral and living traditions point to the same. And yes, we cannot separate the Mahabharata war from Krishna. If one is shown to have happened, then the other must be true as well.

What's your next project?
The next project is called Indian Jesus. It is already 80% complete. It is very controversial but needed to be done. Living in India convinced me that there are definitely many paths to God. Anybody who lives in India and does not subscribe to that concept should be termed intolerant, but instead the opposite is happening. There are some people today who call their God as God and mine as the devil, this is unacceptable, and I will see to it that those intolerant concepts are demolished. I long to see a one borderless world where we live in mutual respect. I cannot say much on the project but to say that I will prove that the underlying basis of religions is the same.

There is talk of a banyan tree which the documentary says was a witness to the Battle of Kurukshetra, where 4 million people are said to have died in 14 days. Where exactly does this exist? Has the tree been carbon-dated to confirm its age?
There is indeed a banyan tree at Jyotisaar in Kurukshetra which is worshipped as such. This concept is similar to the tree in Jerusalem, which is thought to have witnessed Jesus's arrival. Carbon-dating of this banyan tree is unlikely to give any concrete answers. I have included it in the documentary to show the living tradition of India --- like worship of the Ganges cannot be carbon-dated to give any answers.

There is a gentleman named Ram Prasad Birbal, who said he has found many bones which are said to belong to the Kurukshetra battle. Has this been scientifically proved?
Ram Prasad Birbal is a resident of Kurukshetra. I am not aware of carbon dating of those bones. But I am informed that thermo-luminescent dating of other relics as well as carbon-dating at other sites in Kurukshetra have given dates far older than the Indus valley civilisation. Further, Euan Mackie, an eminent archaeologist, had found a clay tablet of Krishna's Yamalaarjuna episode at Mohenjedaro, a site of the Indus Valley civilisation proving that even in 2200 BC, there was a culture of worshipping Krishna.

You said Hinduism spread across South East Asia in those times ... how big was this religious empire?
The Hindu religious empire extended across the whole of the Asian sub-continent to South East Asia, from Afghanistan to Thailand (where Ramayana and Krishna are still shown through dances), Burma, Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, etc), Vietnam, Laos (little Kurukshetra and temples), Malaysia (which was Hindu until recent) up to Java (more temples), Bali (where Hinduism is still the religion) and Indonesia, where Bhima's grandson is said to have performed a thousand fire rituals at Yogyakarta. Afghanistan was of course home to both the Yadu race and Shakuni (Kandahar or Gandhar).

Dr Achar said the Kurukshetra war must not have happened on a full moon day...
The Mahabharata war did not start on an Amavasya. That is straight forward.

Krishna tells Karna "Saptama chappi divasat Amavasya Bhivasyati" and says that Karna should tell Drona and Bhisma to do the ayudha (weapons) pooja on that date. But not start fighting the war on that date.

The documentary is quiet crisp. I am told this is the first time you held a camera, and learnt how to shoot. How many days did this take and what was your budget?
I learnt film editing first using a variety of software such as Final Cut 6 as I realised that a film director must be able to do decent basic editing to realise what to shoot, from what angles and for what duration.

I bought a professional grade HD movie camcorder initially and then learnt to shoot before we went filming in 8 major Indian cities, the US, UK and Cambodia.

However, nothing prepares you as thoroughly as filming on your own. Most of this was done with a skeleton crew, mostly handling audio.

I later was funded to buy the latest Cinealta tru HD movie cameras, which are not available in India, and which I am now proficient in using. I also taught a few crew members how to shoot.

Then came the task of assembling a team of professionals to do editing, graphics, voice over and all else, so that I had a team of people for my next set of documentaries.

It was a steep learning curve, as I never went to film school, but it has worked out well, with people within the industry who are veterans complimenting my work. I personally think that it was all God's grace.

The budget was 15,000 pounds or approximately Rs 12 lakh. It took me 18 months to complete.

Your documentary says India did not have a tradition of putting down everything in writing till 325 BC, when Alexander the Great arrived. How did you come to this conclusion?
This is what the current scientific belief is. Although people have talked about deciphering the Indus Valley "script", there is no straightforward conclusion about the same, so we stuck to the "official line" there. We will deal with these issues in a future documentary.

S R Rao, the marine archaeologist from the National Institute of Oceanography, found a 9th century building, and an entire city. Where was this and when did he find it?.

S R Rao found the sunken city of Dwarka a few years ago at Beyt Dwarka in the early 1990s.

Apparently, this city near Dwarka was set up 36 years after the Mahabharata war. Is this the summation of Rao?
It is believed that due to damage and destruction by the sea, Dwaraka has submerged six times and the modern-day Dwarka is the 7th such city to be built in the area. Scientifically speaking, we see that 36 years after the war there were the same repetitions of an eclipse triad as we have shown in the documentary.

From Dwarka to Kurukshetra is more than 1,000 km. How do you think Krishna travelled to help the Pandavas?
As a scientist, I believe that they travelled on horses which would enable them to reach pretty quickly. If you consider 1,000 km, that should take him 7 days if he had a string of horses. Of course if you take faith into account, then it could happen in a twinkling of an eye.

What's the link between the two comets that Sage Vyasa talked about, the retrograde motion of Mars (Mangal or Kuja) at Antares (Jyestha) to all this
The idea that comets are harbingers of doom is well-documented. The thing is that there is a set of statements describing comets and their positions. Only Dr Achar has arrived at the correct deduction, that those sentences in Bhisma Parvan relate to comets, not planets --- which is where previous researchers found it difficult.

We know that Halley's comet was seen in that year as well.

Dr Achar interpreted verses from the Bhism Parvan and Udyog Parvan to arrive at various conclusions. One of them is that when Saturn in at Aldebaran (Rohini) it brings great bad tidings. The last time this happened was in September 2001, when 9/11 happened. When does this happen next?
Actually Saturn at Rohini is long known to be a bad omen by astrologers. Rohinim Pidyannesha Stitho Rajan Shanischarah. This transit happened in 1971 where a million or so were killed, and again in 2001 September, when 9/11 happened. The next time is in 2030/2031 AD approximately.

When is the next time Mars will be in Antares?
Mars at Jyestha has to be taken in conjunction with the other things mentioned by Karna when he talks to Krishna, as it occurs every year. In any case, those people were great astronomers and not just warriors, so we don't know what the extent of their knowledge was regarding these events, In my personal humble opinion it was perhaps even better than that which we have today.

Sources: & Saraswati Films

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Extra-Judicial Killings in Sri Lanka

A video clip received from Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) evidences the way extra-judicial killings are executed in the island. The video captured in January show the behaviour of Sri Lanka’s soldiers during the war that is claimed ‘humanitarian operation’ to rescue the Tamils, JDS reported Tuesday.

The conversations of the killers are in Sinhala. “From the casual nature of the conversations and from the fact that it is taking place in an open area in broad daylight – it can be surmised that these are not ordinary acts by rogue elements carried out without the permission from the top leadership. The soldiers egging each other on, the insulting jokes and the laughter show that there is a consensus that these cold blooded killings should take place,” JDS further reported.

As there is no reason to believe there is a change in the behaviour of the armed forces, the treatment of the 280,000 people in the internment camps kept for ‘screening’ and another more than 10,000 alleged to be LTTE cadres, kept in undisclosed locations, is widely feared.

The way the men are treated even in execution, shown in the video clip, is a repeatedly demonstrated feature of the chauvinism in the island. One can imagine the treatment of women, was the observation of Tamil circles.

BBC Sinhala Service Monday reported the trauma of the internment camp inmates about 'Dolphin vans' whisking away people, who then disappear.

While some governments are sitting on indicting Colombo’s war crimes and while some other governments don’t want to recognise the genocidal perspectives or the need to call for the closure of internment camps, Colombo enjoys absolute impunity, Tamil circles said.

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) was founded on 18th of July in Berlin, with the participation of Tamil and Sinhala journalists coming from six European countries, who were forced into exile. JDS aims to raise the concerns about the deteriorating conditions of democratic rights in Sri Lanka, with a special emphasis on issues related to media freedom.

Sources: Tamilnet

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Swine Flu - Dont Panic, Take Precautions

The spread of swine flu has brought the Union health ministry under the scanner. Dinesh Trivedi, minister of state for health, who belongs to the Trinamool Congress, has remained in the shadows even as his senior Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad faces the fire over government inaction on the issue.

Trivedi gives his take on the issue and a lot of advice as well. Even though he doesn't say it in enough words, Trivedi wants people to take the H1N1 pandemic in their stride and not go by the coverage in electronic media.

Q: What is the real picture of spread of swine flu in India?

A: Since the outbreak of swine flu in the western countries, the health ministry's team -- under the guidance of Ghulam Nabi Azad -- is working round the clock. Honestly speaking, it is due to the hard work of doctors, scientists and officers of the health ministry in the last two months that we have been able to contain the disease to this extent.

To answer your question I would say so far, so good. But, do we have infrastructure to tackle the disease if it spreads? The answer is yes and no; because, every day things are changing and every day the ministry changes its strategy. So far, we have done very well, but now the common flu season is on. We will have to increase collection centres; we will have to increase the number of beds for isolated cases. And, if the patients go beyond certain numbers, then we will have to do something dramatic.

Q: What is the biggest challenge before the ministry?

A: The major challenge is educating people. Without running down any particular section of the media, I would say that a section of electronic media is trying to create a sensation without knowing what this disease is all about, how does one counter it and the right treatment is. I somehow think a section of the television media has not covered the disease maturely. They have mishandled it. I am not saying all, just few of them.

Some of the channels were asking me angrily why are you not increasing testing centres or why are you restricting it to the government. The answer is very simple. These laboratories are very sophisticated. It requires investment and one has to have what is called BSL level 3. It will require four to five months to set up such a lab.

These labs require trained technicians, doctors and staff. It is like handling a nuclear power plant where waste management is an equally big job. These labs have to manage the waste of the virus. These labs don't have many people inside. If somebody goes in, they are covered from top to toe. If any lab does the test and is not well equipped to manage the waste management, then you can create more problems than solutions.

The maintenance of such a lab even without testing could be more than one lakh rupees a day. The private sector is not into social service; they want to make money. The government has 12 functional labs in the country; on paper there are 16 labs!

In Kolkata, I have visited one such lab, which has state-of-the-art technology. We as countrymen should be proud of it. Doctors told me that they can test 92 cases per day. Another machine is coming, so they will be able to conduct 180 tests.

If you read any European or American medical journal, most of them have praised the way India has controlled swine flu. We are screening 100 per cent of passengers at international airports. If an infected passenger is found, we go through the list of passengers, track down and contact each and every passenger sitting around that patient in the aircraft.

Since the government contacts them, they are bound to respond and tell us if they have caught swine flu or not. We have visited so many air-passengers' houses. You have to understand that in India more than lakh patients die due to viral flu, malaria and TB. But, nobody gives it in headline news. I am also, not trying to distinguish between rich and poor. Swine flu has suddenly become disease of high society because it has come through people flying abroad. Rich patients are scared to do anything with the government. They may have justification. They are scared to be in isolated beds in government hospitals. Many of them have never seen government hospitals.

When blasts occur in a middle class locality there is not as much coverage as it was in case of the November 26 attack on the Taj hotel. We already have serious diseases and that too requires attention of the people and the media.

Q: So, do you mean there is no reason to panic?

A: There is no reason to panic for one simple reason that there is a cure for swine flu. One has to see that when there are symptoms, go to the government laboratory and get the test done. Now, we don't even insist that they should be quarantined in hospital. We give a choice to patients if they have the infrastructure at home to live in isolation. We give the medicine (Tamiflu).

The unfortunate incident in Pune involving that little girl was sad. She had no reason to die this way. Her parents went to a place, which was not equipped to test H1N1. Her test result came out negative. So, obviously she was not treated for swine flu. She didn't get the right medicine at the right time. Then the family panicked and rushed her to a government hospital with the sample. She tested positive. But by then it was too late.

I am again saying that do not panic. Have faith in the system. Go to registered laboratories. If you test positive, then take medicines as per the doctor's advice and you will be cured. The masks are not important for ordinary citizens; handkerchiefs will do.

Masks are a must for medical people or people who are vulnerable. Take personal caution. Greet people with a 'namaste' instead of shaking hands. Take care of hygiene. Avoid kissing and hugging for some time. Cover yourself with a handkerchief. Don't be shy of it.

Q: Even as we talk, television channels are showing that Mumbai has been shut down. Why?

A: I have just come from Mumbai. I had gone to Bali, Indonesia on an official visit. It's quite amusing to see Mumbai. Mumbai panics very fast and normalises very fast as well. I think it's strange on part of the government to ask parents to SMS their opinion. How do you expect them to react one way or the other on diseases they have no knowledge about? The authorities should have taken their own decision.

However, Mumbai is alright and functioning. The intensity of panic is more on television than in real life. Do you have any idea when you hype more than what is real how much the country loses in terms of business? Do we know what the spread of swine flu in America is? In the western world, there are over one million cases. They are not panicking; they are taking care to cure.

I am sorry to say that some channels are adding to the panic. People watch it and panic more. I have gone to many studios and I have seen that the interviewer has no idea about the disease. We have enough stock of medicines. Companies have given us manufacturing schedules to ensure supply. Somebody in the world will quickly crack the solution and make vaccines soon. Few companies are doing clinical trials.

We have enough centres for testing; enough isolated beds. Why panic? I see that the print media is much more responsible. They are analysing it and telling people without spreading panic. See, few days back a friend of mine called from Kolkata. His nephew Rishabh tested positive. They didn't want to enter a government hospital but were worried about how to tackle the 11-year-old boy's flu. I strongly advised them to go to a government hospital. These are all psychological fears. I went to see the boy. He was in an isolated area with all sides covered with glass. I could not enter that place, but he wrote on a piece of paper in bold handwriting 'Uncle, You saved my life'. I was so touched.

Q: Still, what are your fears?

A: My fear is that we are entering the flu season. We have no control over the atmosphere. While we are talking, it is quite possible that the virus is somewhere around in the air around us. I won't say fear but my concern is that if the virus really spreads, I am afraid we may not have capacity to treat everybody. In that case, we will have to change our strategy.

In US, the issue has gone beyond testing time. There, in many cases, they are skipping the testing and going by symptoms.

We have relaxed the system where in we are doing away with keeping patients in quarantine area of government hospitals. It is quite possible that a situation may arise when we may have to allow certain things and may have to further liberalise. We are updating our website. The government is bearing the cost of Rs 5,000 for a negative test and Rs 10,000 for a positive one. The government is not concerned about money. We give free test and medicines. But I wish the private sector will chip in. There is no bar on private investment in laboratories that can test swine flu and on curing patients.

Q: What will happen if swine flu spreads to the villages?

A: I am not ruling that out, but I would not panic. There are more serious medical issues and diseases that we already face. Nobody is talking about it, but it doesn't mean they are not there. The same way, we will fight against flu. People don't necessarily die of flu but in some cases when patients also have lung disease, diabetes or obesity, those issues get aggravated if not treated on time.

I am hopeful that as it happened in Mexico, the virus would become weak as it passes on from one person to another person to another and so on. Swine flu started in Mexico but the deaths are decreasing there. We will have a graph of infected patients that will go up but it would come down soon. Sorry to repeat myself, but there is nothing to worry. If you get it, you get it. All cases are not terminal. It can become terminal if you run away from it. If you get any symptoms, go to the government doctor. Get the test done if he advises. Take medicines and let life go on.
The Indian government tried to stop the flu from coming to India. We requested western countries to try screening passengers. But, you know this is a unipolar world. The western countries would have stopped flights from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh in a similar case. This flu is imported. It's difficult to guess how the disease will mutate. But the silver lining in the current situation is that in a couple of months we are definitely going to have the vaccine. Importantly, the virus weakens as it is passes on from person to person. So, we will have to withstand this storm for a while.


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