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Originally posted on leaf and twig:

DSC02072 - Version 2
soft as down
the bumblebee’s coat
silken fur of black and yellow

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Originally posted on leaf and twig:

each petal
wore a glimmer
of lavender

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Originally posted on :

Some black and white.

Others, white and black.

Intersecting lines,
converging, merging.
Symbols of diversity.
Hope, for a conflicted world.
Cheers to you from South Africa’s harmonious zebras~

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Sun Dial, a historical instrument shown in photo is the 1,400-year-old sun clock mounted on the 35-feet-high inner wall of Sivayoginathar temple at Thiruvisainallur, some 12 km from Kumbakonamin Thanjavur district. It is the only ‘wall clock’ in Tamil Nadu in the real sense of the term.The temple authorities have decided to refurbish the historic legacy which stands testimony to the infinite wisdom and scientific temper of the Chola kings.

The wall clock built during Parantaka Cholan’s rule does not require battery or electricity. Carved out of granite and shaped like a semi-circle, all it has is a three inch-long brass needle permanently fixed at the centre of a horizontal line. As the sun casts its rays on the needle, the shadow of the needle indicates the right time. The people, mostly the devotees coming to the temple, deciphered the time of the day by watching the silhouette cast…

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“Asmin vikara khahare na raasaavapi praveshteshvapi ni: srutheshu bahushvapi syaallaya srushtikaalenanthe chyuthe bhoothaganeshu yaddhath” ||

Nothing happens to the (huge number) infinity, when any number enters (added) or leaves (subtrcated) the infinity. During pralaya many things get dissolved in Mahavishnu and after pralaya, during srushti all those things get out of him. This happens without affecting the lord himself. Like that, whatever number is added to infinity or whatever is subtracted from it, the infinity remains unchanged.



Brahmagupta was Bhaskara’s role model and inspirer. To Brahmagupta he pays homage at the beginning of his Siddhanta-siromani and most of his astronomical elements are taken from the Brahmasphuta siddhanta or the Rajamrganka belonging to the same school. Bhaskara improved upon him not through any great original contribution but by the thoroughness with which he…

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Regardless of the origins of the Chinese, the evidence reveals that ancient Chinese culture was Vedic in nature.The Vedic tradition has undoubtedly been best preserved in India yet the universality of Vedic culture is such that none can claim to be the sole inheritors or originators of the Vedic traditions.These traditions are part of the basic fabric of nature and the universe and can be accessed by anyone anywhere at any time.

The same ‘eternal’ vedic tradition known as Santana Dharma is at the very core of Chinese civilization.For example, Imperial Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) used the Hindu/Vedic calendar a long side with the Chinese calendar.Amongst the Gods, the Lord of Death and the Underworld known in Vedas as Yama is called ‘Yanmo Wang’ within the Chinese tradition.

Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang (ruled 712–56) called upon the Indian monk Vajrabodhi (671–741) to perform ‘Tantric’ rites to avert a drought…

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swarnim bharat1

There is a mention of powerboat in Mahabharata –

सर्ववातसहां नावं यंत्रयुक्तां पताकिनीम् ||
A boat with engines & flags, capable of withstanding winds.

“Sent by Vidura unto them, he showed the Pandavas on the sacred banks of the Ganga, a boat with engines and flags, constructed by trusted artificers and capable of withstanding wind and wave and endued with the speed of the tempest or of thought.”

Interestingly Varuna is attributed to the ocean and voyages. He also has constructed his own boat.

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Originally posted on leaf and twig:

perfection squared
tandem bloom
of festiva maxima

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To read part one first, click here.

C.P. showed her the trees of the shola forests. Shola trees are the natural vegetation of the Nilgiris. Shola is a covering of native trees and grassland, found in the higher hill regions of south India. They were ideally suited to the cooler climate of that region, and to the native animals like the elephants, tigers, leopards and gaur who lived there; at least 25 species of trees were part of this eco-system.

When the British came, lacking any understanding of the native vegetation, they destroyed much of the shola forests, planting foreign trees there instead. “The British cut down a lot of shola forest, and put up tea estates; they planted silver oak, wattle, eucalyptus, pine, cedar, and beech, and a whole lot of temperate plants from England and Australia – because the climate in Ooty was temperate.” From some of these trees, they produced viscose, a semi-synthetic fabric called viscose rayon or rayon.

Cutting down the original forests “was very harmful to the birds and the animals. Shola forests are soft, but the pines had sharp needles which were harmful to the birds and the native mammals. Now the government is pulling down the invasive species – but the native trees take a very long time to grow back.”

Eucalyptus trees, which were commonly planted to replace the original trees, also produce an oil that has antiseptic properties and can be used as an insecticide. Because of these properties, it was toxic to many of the birds, animals, and native insects which had lived there.

This lesson learned in childhood of how native plants and animals are essential to sustaining a thriving eco-system served a valuable purpose later on.  One of the key projects of CPREEC, one of the foundations headed by Dr. Krishna, is reclaiming eco-systems, especially the complete restoration of 53 sacred groves. These are acres of forest land, held by and cared for by local village people, but over the centuries, many have fallen into neglect.


The officers of CPREEC, especially the botanists and other scientists, have brought these 53 sacred groves back to life, ensuring that every tree they plant is originally native to that specific area, and that it will help to bring back the wildlife and animals that used to live in these sacred lands. In restoring eco-systems, just “planting trees” will not do, they must be the specific trees native to that area.

Away from the forest and back in Bombay for the school year, there was not so much of nature. Nanditha’s school, which she attended from kindergarten through the eleventh standard (eleventh grade) before going on to university, was Cathedral and John Connan High School.


When she was in the ninth standard, she and a few of the other girls came upon a fledgling crow – a pied crow, the kind of Indian crow that is pale gray and black.  The young crow had a bit of a crooked beak, was being tormented by the other birds, and was clearly in need of help.  They rescued the crow, calling him “Charlie,” and hid him out of sight in the bathroom on the top floor, since they weren’t allowed to have any pets or other animals at school.

Without any knowledge of exactly what to do, they nevertheless managed to take good care of Charlie. “We knew nothing about how to care for a crow. We just fed him our lunch.” Fortunately, crows are omnivores, who will eat a wide variety of food, and Charlie had no permanently disabling injuries. He had a good appetite and grew stronger.

When they were sure he could fly well, they released him from the top floor. On the ground floor they had a tiny garden – there wasn’t room for a big garden in Bombay. That was where they had lunch, and they all shared part of their lunch with Charlie who would fly down every day to join them. Usually lunch was sandwiches. “He had a lot of sandwiches. I used to come on Sundays.  I’d walk over to the school to give him something to eat.” She also gave food to two rabbits who were there as well. Very sadly, to the horror of the students, the rabbits were sacrificed by the biology teacher to be dissected – the only lessons the students learned from that horrible incident were that human beings can be very cruel and that science is not infallible.

Charlie continued to return daily for lunch while Nanditha was in the ninth, tenth and then the eleventh standard – and perhaps afterwards too. She left to attend college.

editedKumbakonam school IMG_8296

The many enchanted, magical hours that Dr. Krishna spent with her father, her great grandfather, and sometimes her grandparents, roaming through the forests and the wild places of India, experiencing a mystical connection with the wild animals, left an enduring legacy of kindness and of being at one with nature, that she has passed on since to thousands of young people. Through the schools and universities run by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and all the many school programs that CPREEC carries out throughout south India, children come to experience an enduring love and reverence for the natural world.

Top photo: L. Shyamal / cc-by-2.5 / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.” / Exacum bicolor, Shola flower from Talakaveri, Coorg, India.

Second photo: Sharon St Joan /A sacred grove near Arunachala, the first sacred grove restored by the C.P. Ramaswami Foundation; Dr. Nanditha Krishna, and Mr. Selvapandian, who is the CPREEC officer in charge of managing the restoration of the sacred groves.

Third photo: J.M.Garg / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / A pair of Indian pied crows in West Bengal.

Fourth photo: Sharon St Joan / Dr. Nanditha Krishna with one of the children at the Kumbakonam school run by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, following an event at the school.

To visit the website of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, click here.

To find Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s book Sacred Plants of India on Amazon, click here.

© Sharon St Joan, 2015


From her earliest childhood, her father and mother used to drive from Bombay to Madras, where they would stay for two or three months in the summer.

They would drive along the back roads and would always stop along the way at a couple of wildlife sanctuaries. They are no longer there now – replaced by factories or businesses.

Nanditha outside FoundationIMG_8511

One of India’s leading environmentalists, Director of CPREEC  (C.P. Ramaswami Environmental Education Centre) and President of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, and author of many books, including most recently Sacred Plants of India, Dr. Nanditha Krishna has always been fascinated by the natural world. She credits her family, especially her father and her great-grandfather for introducing her to the wonders of nature when she was a child.

At the wildlife sanctuaries they visited along the road to Madras, they would see many birds, and lots of leopards, tigers, elephants, deer and gaur. Gaur is the Indian bison; they are not the same as water buffalo. The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle, and they are still found today in the forests of India.

Dr. Krishna recalls the leopards as being “very curious.”  “The tigers were very shy and would just disappear.” “Spotted deer were dainty and elegant.”  “Sambar deer were big.” There were wild boar and several different species of monkeys – macaques and langurs. There were also Malabar squirrels which are large tree squirrels, called giant squirrels. She saw a black panther once. “It was magical.”


They would go from Bombay to Bangalore – off the main road and off the beaten track. The Dandeli forest is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka; the river Kali and its tributaries wander through the forest.  Bandipur National Park is adjacent to Mudumali National Park, with the Moyar River running between them. “We saw so many animals – mongoose, snakes, peacocks. And a huge variety of birds.”

Whenever they drove up to Ooty, a town in the hills of the Nilgiris, leopards and tigers would often cross the road. “When a herd of elephants was on the road, you would have to stop and wait because they could be unpredictable. The gaur were also unpredictable.”

When they saw leopards and tigers, her father and she would get down out of the car and go through the trees to have a look. Her mother, like mothers everywhere, was worried about their safety. “My mother was always shouting at my father, ‘Don’t get down!!’”


Whenever they saw a leopard, her father would say, “Come, let’s go as near as we can.”  They would watch the leopard, and the leopard, equally curious, would watch them too. “Animals don’t attack unless they feel threatened or are hungry. They were just as curious about us as we were about them.”

“In those days, the animals were very curious, but the tigers were so shy.”

After serving for several years as the Dewan (Prime Minister) of the state of Travancore, Dr. Krishna’s great-grandfather, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, who is remembered as one India’s greatest statesman, went to live in Ooty where he spent the summer months and sometimes part of the winter. He lived there from 1948 until he passed away in 1966.

During this time he was the Vice-Chancellor of two Universities. When Nanditha was there as a child, C.P., as he was known to his friends, (she called him Thatha or “Grandfather”) would take her for daily walks into the forests.  This is one of the most beautiful regions of India, with steep green hills, covered in green vegetation, dotted with rocks and boulders.  The road there makes a steep climb, with many hairpin turns, up from the Mudumalai Forest or from Coimbatore. Ooty was popular with the British because of its cool, temperate climate.

cropped,edited CP as young manIMG_8522

On their walks, C.P. showed Nanditha how to find edible berries and which berries were poisonous. Because he had an excellent western education, as well as a profound knowledge of  Indian culture, he would often quote English poetry. If they saw a yellow flower, he would quote from Wordsworth’s poem about the daffodils  –

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils; …”

She remembers him fondly, “He understood the beauty and harmony of nature. He knew places in depth…he taught the art of silence.” Often, they would simply “sit and watch a lake or a river.”

To be continued in part two…  

Top photo: Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” / Mudumalai Forest in Tamil Nadu.

Second photo: Sharon St Joan / Dr. Nanditha Krishna outside the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation.

Third  photo: Rakesh Kumar Dogra / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” / A Malabar Giant Squirrel, or Indian Giant Squirrel, in the Mudumalai Forest.

Fourth photo: Yathin S Krishnappa / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / Leopard in the Kabini Forest Reserve, Karnataka, India.

Fifth photo: Courtesy of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation / C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar as a young man, early twentieth century.

To visit the website of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, click here.

To find Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s book Sacred Plants of India on Amazon, click here.

© Sharon St Joan, 2015


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