Manusmriti and Forbidden Food.

Goa University runs what is called Visiting faculty public lectures, these are usually a one credit course, for those who want accreditation else it is just a learning process. Most of us are there many taking time off from work the classroom is a pleasant mix.

Initially I had the time I attended a lot now I choose. Prof.Dr, Kumkum Roy is a faculty I love listening to. And this time she had the right mix that interested me, the Theragathas, Manusmriti and more.

Actually what we like to visualize as ancient India, the glorious age of Hinduism, had no Hinduism, it had a way of life with right and wrong,  and Manusmrithi was not really very touted or adhered to, having said that lets just have a look into what does Manusmrithi actually say about meat eating.. What Manusmrithi prohibits is the meat of an unconsecrated animal (5.27 – 57).

They don’t for a Brahmin is quite stringent but since I was curious about meat I am just focusing on it.  The Manusmrithi of course prohibits all carnivores’ birds, and single hoofed animals, but interestingly it allows a lot of poultry.

The Manusmrithi calls a man who eats the meat of some animals as eaters of that animal’s meat but a fish eaten is referred to as eater of every anima’s meat, therefore he must avoid fish. The pathhina, the rohita fish are allowed when they are used in an offering to gods or ancestors, while Rajiva, Simhatunda and Sasaka fish can be eaten any time.

While wandering and unknown animals or birds are prohibited. Animals with five nails are permitted, like the porcupine, hedgehog, monitor lizard, rhinoceros, the tortoise and the rabbit get edibility permit, so do animals with incisors in only one jaw with the exception of camel.

On the other hand a village hog, garlic, a village fowl, onion or leek intentionally eaten topples the Brahmin off his caste (11.213, 219)

Sacrificing animals and birds and feeding their dependents is permitted to Brahmin.

Eating meat is allowed if it is sacrificially consecrated at the behest of the Brahmin.  The Brahmin is also allowed meat when his life is at risk.

The food chain as created by the Prajapati is the hierarchy of the life breathe or the prana… mobile and the immobile need nourishment for life breathe, the immobile are food for the mobile, the fangless for the fanged, the handless for the handed, the timid for the brahve, the eater does get defieled byh eating living beings suitable for eating if if he eats them day after day, for the creator himself fashioned both the eater and the what is being eaten.

The Manusmrithi very specifically states that when a man eats meat whether it was purchased, procured by himself, or offered by someone else after making an offering t the gods and ancestors, he does not become defiled. The twice born is also allowed meat when faced with adversity. But eating ritually consecrated meat is allowed.  But killing an animal for futile reason or eating because of an urge is not acceptable.

Interestingly a person abstaining from meat and a man who offers the horse sacrifice every year for hundred years gain the same merit and the horse sacrifice or the ashwamedha entails, eating the meat of the sacrificed horse.

Very categorically the Manusmrithi says there is no fault in eating meat, in drinking liqueur, or in having sex these are natural activities of creatures, however abstaining from such activity, however brings great rewards.


tearsOne reason why I attempt the Indispire is  sometimes gives me deeper understanding of words, sometimes I see a new word that is really interesting then the rest of the day I try to use it.  somewhere i like the kind of authority and magic words wield.

The interesting part is in Sanskrit it is called Shabda and is made up of two components the Spota and the Dwani. Spota is the phonetic and dwani is the intonation, the combination of the two gives the word its potency. I like Rudyard Kipling’s take on it, that words are the most powerful drug used by mankind. To me it is actually like X-rays if used properly it will go through anything, one can just read and get pierced.

As I was trying to find out what actually the word meant I went to Merriam-Webster the word of the day  Lachrymose an adjective.

My initial challenge was to try to find out what the word meant. I figured, it must be New age spell or one of those things like boyz and girlz instead of boys and girls. So thought it was lack of remorse. I did use it in that context fortunately for me, when we speak we don’t see the spelling, we only see images.

Lachrymose means given to tears or weeping, or tending to cause tears.

It comes from the Latin word lacrimosus, which in turn is comes from the noun lacrima…now I am on familiar territory of the lacrimal glands and secretion. Though lachrymose appeared in English only around 1727, how ever in the 15th century Lachrymal was used…this was sometimes spelled as lacrimal particular for scientific application. To the date it is used in Medical terminology to mean “of, relating to, or being glands that produce tears” Lachrymose takes a little different flavour as it means someone who is so moved, or feels so strongly that tears flow. It could also mean something that evokes that strong emotion that brings tears.

Lachrymose I finally can handle it but I wonder if Lachrymosic would be tendency to be Lachrymose, or should I say tendency to Lachrymosis? Anyway for now I go with Lachrymose.

Wondering what other words, come in, after all the words of the year bygone, belongs to last year’s language and words of the year to come is the language of the future, but the word learnt today is the word of the present.

I like to imagine words as forgotten names, like names they have power, power that lights fires, in the minds of people, words that wring tears…are they lachrimyatic?

Down the Memory lane.

picnic Once upon a time.

We are busy  planning for tomorrows Ramleela it is a student production and at the break, Mrs.Padmashree Josalkar and I were discussing our growing up, Padmashree is from the famous Gubbi theatre, she was talking of how the kids of the family would step in small roles, and as little kids they would forget that when performing they were characters and not “ammi” and” china”

I remember one ramkatha we performed at school, when my friend was Ravan, and I did Mandodhari, the scene was Mandodhari crying over Meghanaad’s death, and guess what one little kid from the first row, piped, up, ”How joru,..Jay is she is making paapa.. shah cry” that was the end of the dramatic moment.

But here I was thinking of some really great things we did, our class that entered standard one in the year 1971 was rather unique, anyway we began putting our own plays at the in standard three, and we were guided by the greatest story teller of them all, ”Amarachitrakatha,” we would open the book, and figure out where each one of us would have to stand,

Dialogues were easy too, just sprout what the character in the comic said, costumes were even easier we would just replicate what was in the illustration, the only whooper was, we were fed on some stereotypes like royals wore “zarf border” and commoners, “folk” wore cottons with checks, so were the jewellery silver and Kowaris  jewellery for the folk and gold like jewellery for the royals.

We would meticulously cut out jewellery in cardboard, stick golden paper on it, and use it.

It was the time before CD’s and TV so someone would meticulously learn up the songs, we would put in the steps, then three days before the performance, some ones older brother/uncle or handy relative would provide the table and harmonium,

It was really fun. I think it was these things that brought us together, since it was not structured with parental approval or guidance we got to experiment, the rule was simple don’t get your quarrels to parents.

annual lakshadeepa which all of us would attend

There was only one kid, who would actually complain to his parents, i remember all of us ganging up and telling him, “Kid we are telling you this, because you will complain to your parents, and they will come to shout at us, and see what we will do then,” funnily enough the boy got totally cured of his whining habits.

Today the products of our schoolroom theatre are quite well known personalities of performing arts.  Thankfully the same cannot be said about our brigand group, whose whole aim was eliminate all raw mangoes from the trees in the Manipal campus, maybe if we asked we would be allowed to pick it, but the thrill of stealthily getting on to tree while we delegated my brother to distract the lady of house, and do away with tender mango, sitting right on the centre of the road…yes that is what we did, sharing the mango not to mentioned smuggled salt and chilli powder, whew.. that was adventure.

Again everyone was part of everything guess that made our growing up balanced. Reading a book meant we climbed up a tree perched on a branch to read. When the new swimming pool was built at Manipal the entire gang of kids went to learn how to swim.

Holidays meant library, swimming, playing in the garden, eating in which ever house we were at lunch time. Remember this was the era before mobiles and phone, no one took amiss.

Still remember Brinda aunty, my friend’s mother, she baked the best biscuits in town, I promised myself I would be like her, she was well read, she kept a beautiful house, she cooked divinely, she could paint, she could stitch innovatively, well some day before I die I will get there, right now I am still struggling with housekeeping part. There was Saraswati aunty who taught us how to cook saagu to perfection. Narmada aunty who introduced us to ketchup with everything.

Thanks ZeeTV for this yaaron ki bharat though I do not qualify for it. I think I should share this bit, as way of saying thanks to the universe.

Mahila samaj 2
Manipal Mahila Samaj still active.

more on “

To the Weirdos in My life.

Weirdo’s are unusual people.

Though actually the word weird means, supernatural unearthly. Sometimes it is connected with fate, and sometimes it is a person’s destiny  in the context of Scottish archaic, or so Merriam-Webster  assures me, while in northern America it is an inform word that induces a sense of disbelief or alienation.

Guess there is a sense of weirdness in all of us, including life.  then we find someone who is also weird, and the weirdness of this person is compatible with ours, then we team up with them, and create a space of weirdness that is mutually acceptable and satisfying… this space we call it love… who yes sometimes even true love.

Alain de Botton claims intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone and find that is okay with them.

In my own space like being weird, the ultimate comatose state for me, is conformity, though it is inescapable, maybe I can continue to be a closet weirdo with the mask of conformity on…? actually we are a sea of ordinary people, almost 80% of us ordinary people, 15% of the rest are busy playing victims it is only 5% that rise above. Having said that, even the 80% of us have certain quirks, flaws or ingenuity that stands out. It makes that small ripple from being mundane and boring.

There is this innate otherness in me, call it a concept, an experience or a core belief, I know I started out as a weirdo, for a long while I stayed a weirdo, it took me, Landmark curriculum for living and Hypnotherapy to embrace my outsider-ship and see it as a strength rather than as a weakness. I just realized that made the unique person that I am. But then that also made me normal.

Today the 8th of September is the day to acknowledge the weirdo in us, and the other weirdo’s our life is blessed . those people who out there who inspire us to think outside the box, who remind us to be a little more true to ourselves, maybe we should give them a hug and acknowledge their presence in our lives.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels, The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen

By the way Leo Tolstoy was born on this day in 1828, May his soul rest in peace.

constantly changing.

DSCN8317The clouds were clearing, usually this time of the year the shadow of the peak of Kudremukh was visible but with iron ore project the peak had scaled down the mountain ranges that stopped the water laden south-western clouds, resulting in the torrential rains of the western coast line of India had weakened.

When I look up, the peak stands though no longer straight and strong but a little stooped, I was  reminded of that evening with renowned Gulzar who grew up in the Paharganj region of Delhi sharing his experience.,

“when we were kids ” he said in Urdu laced Hindi,”Paharganj, mein Pahar tha, abh toh sirf naam hai,” he then continued to share the thrill of saving that “naya paisa’ for hiring a bicycle, and riding it downhill without applying the brakes. It was something that I could relate to, I mean riding the bicycle down the slopes with no break. He then went on to that point when he says you return to the place and it is not what you left behind, there are new vendors, in the market, new kids on the block the language is different too.

Maybe it the search for something permanent lead people to philosophy , and each generation reburies certain wisdom of the past, in the fleeting drivels of modernity,  which is again mined by a minority, who not only restore it, but also polish it, and re-invent it as something extremely new and and highly valuable and refreshing as understood by the current.

Life does not really stop for anybody, nothing is really permanent in life friends circumstances, riches or parental love… that probably is the difference between the living and dead. Clinically death is body that does not change, does that mean change is life and stagnation is death? If I don’t change I die…its simple and scary at the same time. This actually holds good for a society too, it is never static, if it does not grow it decays, if it does not transcend a status quo for better then it does not remain the same, it changes for the worse. We do often entertain the illusion is remain unaltered and stand still in any situation, but that is the most fatal illusion of it all… for the moment we stand still the decay begins.

We remain us, that does not change and we are constantly changing there is nothing we can do about it, there are roads we traverse, not every road we come across in our daily life is one we have to take, standing still and being could be the best move. Then comes the cross road in a relationship that asks…”what is it you want from me?”

Acceptance would be the answer and acceptance would only come from understanding, life after all is series of natural and spontaneous changes, resisting them would create disharmony. As we let things flow naturally in whatever way they like, harmony is recreated.  You could call it love, a triangle made of  understanding, acceptance and appreciation, if any one component is gone the triangle looses an angle and its stable form. The world becomes two dimensional, for the love of the triangle lets keep love whole.


Nagabana Bennekudru
Nagabana Bennekudru


August 7th 2016

The worship of the snake god happens all over India and other indigenous  cultures. In the Tulu – Malayala region it is very vibrant since it is essentially the snake territory. We have the cult of Nagamandala, the Nagapatri and other folk rituals which tell the stories connecting nature-animal-man.  Most families are associated with nagabana or  snake hives.

The worship could rise from the belief that the earth is held together by Sa-akarshana the geomagnetic force that is symbolized by the snake sankarshana.  So snake worship is a form of earth worship, where clusters of old trees are found.

The motif of earth-soil and fertility keeps popping up along the  coast, the land being created or reclaimed by Parashurama the son of Renuka  while Renu is also the essence of sand or soil. Goa at one end of the Parashuramakshetra has satteri the anthill in this folk religion tradition for ants are pointers to fertile soil. Once the ants move on, the snakes arrive indicating that the Bhu is now ready to turn to Shri. So snakes are always known as the keepers of wealth.

shed snake skin
shed snake skin

It is believed that the snakes return to Patala after nagapanchami, though I am not really sure when they emerge from there, anyway ritual offerings are made to ensure that the snake has enough nourishment for the journey through the sea.  So a symbolic stone is consecrated with milk, coconut water and water, soft offerings are made of traditional food like chikkli, tambittu and halubai. Nagapanchami also heralds the end of the period of where farm work particularly digging is a taboo. The belief is one might accidently kill a snake or be killed by one.

Nagabana - Kadekaar
Nagabana – Kadekaar

There some interesting rituals like not using the kumkum, or heating oil in a pan for the it might irritate the skin of  the snake.

The snake is believed to be natures equivalent of a Brahmin, probably because it the knowledge that recognizes fertile soil, the belief is so strong that if one sees a dead snake particularly a cobra it is given a human funeral.

Astrologically when the asteroid Rahu snake headed goes off balance then he is appeased by making offerings to the snake.

Ailments  of the nerves and skins are sarpadosha or the effect of the element of snake.

Eminent snakes in Hindu mythology

Worship of snakes in other cultures

Nagarapanchami worship of snakes

Naga preeta bhavanti shantimapnoti via viboh
Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samh

Let all be blessed by the snake goddess, let everyone obtain peace
Let all live peacefully without any turbulence.

Women Journalists of Kashmir.

hijabiWomen Journalists of Kashmir.

Sameer Yasir is a favourite writer of mine, and I like the way he thinks, this time round he shared the emerging women journalists of Kashmir. Here were some things that struck a chord.

Emerging young women of Kashmir, something has changed in the valley, women are opting to be journalist in a turbulent valley. They are talking about, moving beyond talking causalities to look back on devastation, that seem to be call of the Kashmiri women journalists. Though conventionally women are allotted women centric roles, it is an interesting observation that the women have to keep fighting since a dead person is son, brother , husband to someone, and their war is on.

The challenges are unannounced curfews, encounters and killings, Shahana Butt, a reporter since the age of 21 says that Kashmiri women were never bound to gender specific roles.

We take separate washrooms for granted. Yet Greater Kashmir didn’t take women staff because they did not have that facility.

I am ashamed that I do not know but I have to ask, who are half widows?

The author can be reached on Twitter @Adnan__Bhat