Wednesday 22 July 2020

Travelogue of Dholavira (Kutchh): Exploring The World of lost Harappan Civilization

Most of us have read about Indus Valley and Harappan valley Civilization in our school days. Truly, it is one of the most interesting places to be found in North-West of India in Gujarat.

Dholavira-Kutchh, the name sounded so musical to my ears when we decided a trip to this magical place as part of the culmination to our history unit Civilizations. Dholivara is at a distance of 235 km from Bhuj. Dholavira’s location is on the Tropic of Cancer.

This 50 hectare site, the largest in India, has been excavated only in the last decade and is attracting the attention of archaeologists from all over the world.

My journey from Bhuj to Dholavira
Dholavira is quite a remote village and very difficult to visit by public transport. Dholavira is where the remains of a part of the Harappan civilization exist. The city is located on an island called Khadir Bet.
To avoid hard travelling by public transport, we hired Swit Dezire taxi from Bhuj to Dholivara, @Rs 5000.00 to and fro. We left early morning (6.00 AM) by hired taxi.

We reached Rapar, a village in between, at 9.00 AM Rapar is the largest town in the eastern side of Kutchh. With no other major town in its vicinity.That’s the reason hundreds of people from nearby villages visit Rapar every day. There are just 2-3 basic hotels in Rapar and all are cheap and nasty.
This journey to Dholavira took us very close to the life of tribes and communities in this side of Kutchh. Their outfits, ornaments, eating habits.
On either side of the road, lies the Great Rann of Kutchh. The topography of the land is unforgiving. People adopt various kinds of vehicles for mobility, the discomfort surmounted with a stoic smile and the super white of their clothes.
Finally we reached to the village of Shiranivadh which is the last village before the island of Khadir, where excavated site of Dholavira is located. A bridge over the white desert of Great Rann connects the island to Shiranivadh. It’s a vast terrain of salt marsh and exquisitely fascinating.
I felt like as if I reached to the other shore after a voyage. Finally we reached Dholavira which lies on the edge of island overlooking the Great Rann. Driver parked taxi in parking area.
Dholivara (an ancient city) Archaeological excavation site.
The site was discovered in 1967-68 by J. P. Joshi, of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and is the fifth largest of eight major Harappan sites. It has been under excavation since 1990 by the ASI.

First, you have to visit a small museum situated near to this ancient site. This museum gives information on the city planning and its features. Do you want to gain some knowledge about History? Then it will certainly happen after your visit to Dholavira museum.
We headed to the excavation site with our guide.Now there is nothing, except those memories buried under the ground. And we are digging their past.

Step wells, citadel, castle, bailey, and ceremonial grounds narrate their glory in a slow fashion. The best part of the Island is its serenity and awe-inspiring settings in the middle of Great Rann.
In 1967, when the ASI stumbled upon Dholavira, it found the largest Harappan city yet that preserved seven distinct cultural phases spanning a period of 2,000 years. Not even Harappa and Mohenjodaro can claim to have material remains from all the distinct phases that made up the historical extent of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Dholavira acted as a link in the trade routes from the Harappan cities in the Indus Valley to the port of Lothal. Situated in the salt flats of Kutchh, Dholavira was built in three tiers:

One of the most important discoveries in Dholavira was the town plan, which incorporated a sophisticated network of storm water drains connecting to a main artery, which in turn fed a reservoir.

Ten Indus characters from the northern gate of Dholavira, dubbed the Dholavira Signboard.

The most significant discoveries at Dholavira were made in one of the side rooms of the northern gateway of the city, and are generally known as the Dholavira Signboard.
The Harappans had arranged and set pieces of the mineral gypsum to form ten large symbols or letters on a big wooden board.

This ‘signboard’ containing ten large Harappan pictorial letters,the civilisation’s script continues to be a mystery, these remain of great value.

Apparently the site is overrun with scorpions, bats, snakes and assorted nocturnal creatures once the sun goes down.
According to the archaeological records, Dholavira was known for excellent water storage system and town planning. Hence, the big water reservoirs are a big attraction. In one of the recent excavations, a 5000- year water reservoir was excavated here. This is said to be the biggest water tank when compared with baths of all Harappan Cities.

Harappan civilization is said to have come to an abrupt end.
The following reasons are put forward for its abrupt end:

(1).The neighboring desert encroached on the fertile area and made it infertile.

(2).Regular floods destroyed the area.

(3).Aryan invaders killed people and destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization.
The Harappan people were peace loving. They did not have weapons to attack others or to defend themselves. They had implements for hunting or farming.
So they could not defend themselves against the invaders. The destruction of these people by Aryans was a sad event in history. The Aryans lived in villages and knew nothing of urban life. Thus it took hundred of years again for India to have beautiful cities like Mohen-jo-daro and Harappa.

(4).The end was partly caused by changing river patterns.
These changes included the drying up of the Hakra River and changes in the course of the Indus River. The river changes disrupted agricultural and economic systems, and many people left the cities of the Indus Valley region.

(5)Earthquakes and Epidemics caused destruction.
By 1700 B.C., the Indus civilization had gradually broken up into smaller cultures, called late Harappan cultures and post-Harappan cultures. However, some aspects of Indus art, agriculture, and possibly social organization continued in the smaller cultures.

Some of these aspects became incorporated into a unified urban civilization that began developing throughout the region about 600 B.C
Finally we returned back to the parking lot and started our incessant effort for getting a ride back to Bhuj. Tourist inflow is thin in Dholavira.

The next appeasing side of this journey was a short stop for a meal at Rapar; we had in the Punjabi restaurant. There is couple of eating options in Rapar and all offers delectable meals. Gujarati Thali is the best deal and economical as well.I sauntered in the streets, chit chatted with Pan Walas.
Each place has been a theater of actions for centuries.Come, lets discover the ideas that shaped our multiple identities.
The End
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Saturday 18 July 2020

Aligarh Wale Jan Nisar Akhtar, Bollywood Lyricist “poet of love”: Father of Javed Akhtar

Aahat si koi aaye to lagata hai ke tum  ho
Saya koi lehraye  to lagata hai ke tum  ho 

Bechain nazar betab jigar
Ye dil hai kisi ka deewana
Kab shaam ho aur wo shamma jale
Kab ud kar pahunche parwana

Jan Nisar Akhtar (1914-76) was born in Gwalior. His father was the poet Muztar Khairabadi (1875-1927), and his great grandfather, Maulana Fazl-i Haq Khairabadi (1797-1861), a poet as well as a theologian who served as the editor of the collected poems of Mirza Ghalib, at the poet’s request.

After matriculation from Gwalior, he joined Aligarh Muslim University for higher studies received his B.A. Urdu in 1937 and M.A. in 1940.Unfortunately he could not complete his doctorate. He worked as a lecturer in Urdu in Gwalior, later joined Hamidia College, Bhopal.

He left the job to join Hindi films as a lyricist, and arrived at Mumbai. Here, he came in contact with other progressive writers, like Mulk Raj Anand, Rajender Singh Bedi and Ismat Chughtai.

Jan Nisar Akhtar: The lover
As a student of Aligarh Muslim University, Akhtar was no stranger to love and romance in his personal life. He had heard of Safia sister of poet Majaz, through his cousins.Curious, he went to visit her at Abdullah Womens college of AMU. Aligarh. They were struck by love at first sight.

Soon, Akhtar’s family sent a marriage proposal to Safia’s family, and they were quick to respond with an approval. However, after a prolonged silence from Akhtar’s family, Safia expressed her interest to Jan Nisar herself, through a letter.

“If I hadn’t succumbed to my superfluous desire and blithe audacity in daring to write to you, who knows where our lives would be drifting now?” Safia wrote in 1950.

Jan Nisar Akhtar married Safia, sister of the poet Majaz in 1943.
Jan Nisar Akhtar 
Safia worked as a school teacher at an urdu-medium madarsa (Muslim school) at a time when it was highly unusual for women, especially Muslim women, to work outside their homes. Yet, she was meeting a practical necessity, because Jan Nisar's income was at best sporadic, and it was necessary for her to work to support her children.

Thus, when Jan Nisar moved to Mumbai to try his luck at earning a living as a film lyricist, Safia stayed back in Gwalior with their children, and wrote her absent husband a series of letters in Urdu.

A collection of these letters, written between 1 October 1943 to 29 December 1953, were first published in 1955 in two volumes under the title, "Harf-e-Aashna" and "Zer-e-Lab". Professor Asghar Wajahat, former Head of the Hindi Department, Jamia Millia Islamia Delhi, translated these letters into Hindi and this was published under the title "Tumhare Naam" in 2004.

Safia Akhtar died of cancer on 17 January 1953
She died ten years after her wedding, and left behind two very small sons Jan Nisar left the children in the care of relatives while he pursued his hobbies of writing poetry and hobnobbing with various luminaries and socialites in Mumbai.

Second marriage of Jan Nisar Akhtar
Three years after Safia's death, Jan Nisar got married again on 17 September 1956, to Khadija Talat. His children by Safia did not have a good relationship with their step-mother, and his relations with them were likewise dysfunctional.

Safia’s letters to Jan Nisar Akhtar
While Akhtar struggled in his initial years in Bombay, Safia supported him financially too. Thanks to his Bollywood ambitions, the two kept in touch through letters.

On 20 July 1950, Safia wrote, “Come Akhtar! Let me flow in your veins. I have prayed long and hard to make you mine. Seven years have gone by and for the most part we have been separated.My yearning grows with every passing day.

I cannot live away from you much longer…Akhtar, I desire your companionship and you want to send me a million miles away! I am truly scared of your lyrical style of love. My very own Akhtar! Come, take me to you, hide me within you in such a way that I may not exist outside of you. Let there just be you and me within you.”

A collection of these letters, written between 1 October 1943 to 29 December 1953, were first published in 1955 in two volumes under the title, "Harf-e-Aashna" and "Zer-e-Lab".

Professor Asghar Wajahat, former Head of the Hindi Department, Jamia Millia Islamia Delhi, translated these letters into Hindi and this was published under the title "Tumhare Naam" in 2004.

Jan Nisar Akhtar in Bollywood as lyrist
His career spanned four decades during which he worked with music composers including C. Ramchandra, O.P. Nayyar, N Dutta and Khayyam and wrote 151 songs.

Notable among them were songs from his breakthrough film, AR Kardar's Yasmin (1955), Aankhon hi Aankhon Mein ishara ho gaya in Guru Dutt's CID (1956), Yeh dil aur unki nigahon ke saaye in Prem Parbat (1974) and Aaja re in Noorie (1979) and his last song, Ae Dil-e-naadaan, in Kamal Amrohi's Razia Sultan (1983).

His poetry works include Nazr-e-Butaan, Salaasil, Javidaan, Pichali Pehar, Ghar Angan and Khaak-e-dil. The latter ("The Ashes of Heart") was a poetry collection for which he was awarded the 1976 Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.

It is said that O P Nayyar once said to him, “यारतुम्हारे गीतों में शायरी बहुत होती हैं..”.He replied, “शायरी के बग़ैर मैं कोई गीत नहीं लिख सकता दोस्तमैं फिल्म छोड़ सकता हूँशायरी नहीं……. This was his passion for shayari!

He was associated with Kardar Productions, as a salaried lyricist, where he wrote all the songs for the movie, Yasmin (1955). Though C Ramchandra always worked with Rajendra Krishna those days, this was an exception! The songs of Yasmin opened the doors of success and fame to Akhtar.

In total he wrote just 151 songs for Hindi films, but his contribution is significant,. if we consider the quality and versatility of his songs.He wrote and produced the movie ‘Bahu Begum’ in 1967, but the lyrics were written by Sahir.

He was still working on Razia Sultan, when he died on 19th August 1976 in Bombay (now Mumbai).

Aye dile naadan
Aarzu kya hai justuju kya hai
Ham bhatakate hain
Kyon bhatakate hain
Dashtao sehara me
Aisa lagta hain mauj
Pyasi hain apane dariya me

The End
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Tuesday 14 July 2020

सबको मिला अमृत, महादेव ने पिया विष: समुद्र मंथन से उत्पन्न हलाहल विष को महादेव ने पी लिया था

श्रावण के महीने को भगवान शिव का प्रिय मास माना जाता है। यही कारण है, कि इस महीने में महादेव की पूजा, आराधना का विशेष महत्व होता है। भगवान शिव को प्रसन्न करने के लिए श्रद्धालु सामर्थ्य अनुसार व्रत, उपवास, पूजन, अभिषेक आदि करते हैं। इस माह में की गई उपासना का विशेष फल भक्तों को प्राप्त होता है। लेकिन आखिर शिव की आराधना के लिए यह माह विशेष क्यों है ?

भोलेनाथ के प्रिय सावन (श्रावण) मास का प्रारंभ हो गया है. शिव ने इसी महीने में संपूर्ण सृष्टि का जहर स्वयं पीकर सभी को जीवनदान दिया. इसलिए पूरा ब्रह्मांड परमेश्वर सदाशिव को स्वच्छ जल अर्पित करके धन्यवाद देता है. 

श्रावण में महादेव अपना धाम कैलाश छोड़कर समस्त लोकों में विचरण करते हैं. श्रावण में महादेव अपना धाम कैलाश छोड़कर समस्त लोकों में विचरण करते हैं. इस बार पवित्र महीने की शुरुआत 6 जुलाई से हो रही है. जो कि 3 अगस्त तक चलेगा.

क्यों पार्वतीपति शिव को प्रिय है सावन: समुद्र मंथन से उत्पन्न हलाहल विष को महादेव ने पी लिया था.

सावन का महीना परमेश्वर सदाशिव के सर्वहितकारी स्वरुप के प्रकट होने के आभार स्वरुप मनाया जाता है. क्योंकि इसी महीने में परमपिता ने अपनी सृष्टि की रक्षा के लिए देव-दानवों के समुद्र मंथन से उत्पन्न हलाहल विष को पी लिया था.

हालांकि आदिशक्ति जगदंबा ने इस विष के घातक प्रभाव को अपने पति के कंठ में ही रोक दिया. इसलिए परमेश्वर को नीलकंठ के नाम से जाना गया. देवताओं और दानवों ने समुद्र-मंथन का मंथन किया. अर्थात ईश्वर की बनाई दो बेहद शक्तिशाली लेकिन एक दूसरे के विपरीत सोच रखने वाली प्रजातियों ने समुद्र रुपी प्राकृतिक निधियों का ज्यादा से ज्यादा दोहन किया गया.

इस समुद्र मंथन का माध्यम बने नागेश्वर शिव के गले में रहने वाले महानाग वासुकि. जिनकी कुंडली में मंदराचल पर्वत को लपेटकर समुद्र का मंथन किया गया था. वासुकि का मुंह दानवों की तरफ था, जबकि पूंछ देवताओं की ओर. पर्वत को नीचे से भगवान विष्णु ने कछुए के रूप में आधार दिया था.

लेकिन मंथन शुरु होते ही समुद्र से 'कालकूट' और वासुकि के मुख से 'हलाहल' विष की भयानक ज्वाला प्रकट हुई. जिसने पूरी सृष्टि को अपनी चपेट में ले लिया. ठीक उसी तरह जैसे इस समय संसार में इस समय मनुष्य द्वारा प्रकृति के अधिकतम दोहन से प्रदूषण और विनाशकारी मस्तिष्क द्वारा लैब में तैयार किया कोरोना वायरस चारो तरफ विनाश कर रहे हैं.

हलाहल विष फैलने की वजह से देव-दानव मूर्च्छित होने लगे और मुद्र मंथन का काम ठप हो गया था. तब उन्होंने भोलेनाथ से विनती की.

महायोगी शिव ने अपने योगबल की ताकत से संपूर्ण विष को इकट्ठा करके निगल लिया. पूरी सृष्टि का हलाहल और कालकूट विष शिव ने अपने कंठ में धारण किया जिसके कारण उनका गला नीला हो गया और उन्हें नीलकंठ के नाम से जाना गया.महाग्रीवा शिव के नीलकंठ में रखे विष को शांत करने के लिए पूरी सृष्टि ने उनपर शीतल जल की वर्षा की. शिवलिंग पर जल अर्पण करके हम भी इस प्रक्रिया में अपना सहयोग देते हैं.           

विष की ज्वाला समाप्त होने के बाद समुद्र मंथन हुआ और उसमें से लक्ष्मी, शंख, कौस्तुभ मणि, ऐरावत हाथी, पारिजात का पेड़, उच्चैःश्रवा घोड़ा, कामधेनु गाय, रम्भा और उर्वशी जैसी अप्सराएं, समस्त औषधियों के साथ वैद्यराज धनवन्तरि, चंद्रमा, कल्पवृक्ष, वारुणी मदिरा और अमृत निकला.

लक्ष्मी को भगवान विष्णु ने ग्रहण किया. हाथी-घोड़े, कल्पवृक्ष, अप्सराएं देवताओं को मिली. मनुष्यों को मिला धन्वंतरि का प्राणदायक आयुर्वेदिक ज्ञान. दानवों ने वारुणी मदिरा प्राप्त की. अमृत के लिए संघर्ष हुआ जिसमें मोहिनी विष्णु ने दानवों को धोखे में रखकर उन्हें वारुणी मदिरा देते हुए देवताओं को सारा अमृत पिला दिया.

लेकिन इस उपलब्धि से पहले समस्त लोकनाथ शिव को कालकूट-हलाहल विष पीना पड़ा. जगत्माता पार्वती ने उनका गला पकड़कर विष को कंठ से नीचे उतरने से रोका. सर्वेश्वर शिव के अंदर संपूर्ण सृष्टि समाहित थी. यदि कालकूट विष नीचे उतरता तो संपूर्ण सृष्टि का विनाश हो जाता. इसलिए ईश्वर ने महामाया पार्वती और अपने योगबल की मदद से विष को अपने कंठ में केन्द्रित कर लिया.

इसी विष की ज्वाला को शांत करने के लिए पिता परमेश्वर शिव पर ठंडे गंगाजल की धारा अर्पित की जाती है. सावन के महीने में देवता भी आकाश से रिमझिम फुहारों की वर्षा करके विषधर शिव का अभिषेक करते हैं.

विष पूरी तरह खत्म करने के लिए आगे आईं आदिशक्ति

देवताओं, गंधर्वों, यक्षों, दानवों, असुरों, राक्षसों, मनुष्यों द्वारा अर्पित जल से भी शिव की जलन शांत नहीं हो रही थी. तब आदिशक्ति महाविद्या ने अपना सबसे पहला अवतार धारण किया. वह स्थूलशरीरा नील तारा के रुप में प्रकट हुईं और विष के प्रभाव से नन्हें बालक की तरह बिलखते शिव को अबोध शिशु की तरह अपने गोद में धारण किया और स्तनपान कराया.

महाविद्याओं में सर्वप्रथम तारा का रंग नीला होता है. यह प्रौढ़ावस्था में दिखाई देती हैं. वैसे तो शिव अजन्मे और अविनाशी हैं. लेकिन स्तनपान कराने के कारण भगवती तारा को शिव की माता के रुप में जाना जाता है.

मां तारा की पूजा बौद्ध परंपरा में भी होती है. महाशक्तियों में उनका स्थान महाकाली से भी पहले होता है. उनके अमृतमय दूध की वजह से शिव की ज्वाला शांत हुई थी. मां तारा का प्रसिद्ध मंदिर झारखंड और पश्चिम बंगाल की सीमा पर बीरभूम जिले में एक श्मशान के बीचोबीच स्थित है.

Note:---This blog has been prepared with help of various materials and photos available on Net, with thanks.

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