Thursday, February 10, 2011
Six am, Mandalay Jail, Burma, February 10, 1916: the revolutionary freedom fighter Sohan Lal Pathak was being readied for execution in accordance with jail procedures. A long delay followed. The jailor then personally brought the news that the governor had ordered his life be spared if he asked for mercy. Sohan Lal flatly declined to do so. A poignant situation followed. The hangman respectfully begged the jailor to be relieved of his duty. The jailor looked for a volunteer among his other staff. None was forthcoming. Finally, the assistant jailor personally placed the noose around his neck. It was a sad moment for all.
Who was this incredibly brave man? Born in Patti, Amritsar district, on January 7, 1883, Sohan Lal found a petty job in the irrigation department after his eighth class. Tragedy struck early. In 1903, his mother was stricken with bubonic plague.
For months, he did not reveal the news to his younger brother, Mohan Lal, who was studying at Lahore, because a visit to the affected village would have been a virtual death sentence.
In 1908, at 25, deeply impressed by the ideals of Lala Hardayal, Sohan Lal decided to devote his life to the cause of freeing India from British rule. There was more personal tragedy ahead.
His young wife died that year, followed soon after by their infant son. But his immense grief did not alter his goals. In the pursuit of his cause he travelled to Siam, and later made his way to San Franciso to join Lala Hardayal and work for the Ghadar party.
When World War One broke out in 1914, hardly 20,000 of the 200,000 strong army was left in India. Lala Hardayal perceived this as an opportunity to sow disaffection among those who remained.
Sohan Lal was assigned to work on the India troops in Burma. He then successfully recruited dozens of trusted volunteers and was able to gather substantial funds.
The British were extremely concerned. In their search for Sohan Lal at least 17 others were arrested. As an example to potential insurrectionists, nearly half the 2,000 men of the Singapore Military Police who had been successfully primed by the Ghadar party for revolt, were captured and executed.
Sohan Lal was finally apprehended at Memayo, Burma. On his person was a revolutionary article written by Lala Hardayal, an issue of Ghadar and arms and ammunition.
As a prisoner, he defiantly refused to stand up—as prisoners were required to—when British officers visited him; he did not recognise their authority and felt he was not bound by their rules.
The Governor of Burma was keen to meet him. Fearing disrespect, the jail superintendent engaged Sohan Lal in casual conversation beforehand, so that he was on his feet when the governor arrived. When the latter hinted that his life might be spared if he expressed regret for his actions, he replied that it was the British government, not he, that should apologise.
Pathak was 33 when he was hanged. The only survivors of the family today are the children of his younger brother Mohan Lal. Dr Lajpat Rai Pathak, Mohan Lal’s eldest child, who was was born five years after the hanging of Sohan Lal, was named at a time of revolutionary fervour.
Now 82, he continues his life’s work as a surgeon in Delhi.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saraswatai mayadrashta, veena pustak Dharini,
Hans vahini, samayukta, vidya daan karo mamah.
All requested to place this shloka and link as their status on this auspicious day.
Vasant Panchami is a festival of the Spring season. ‘Vasant’ means Spring and panchami refers to the fifth day of the Hindu lunar calendar month. Thus, Vasant Panchami refers to the Hindu Spring festival that falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Magh. Vasant Panchami is also known as Shri Panchami.
Goddess Sarasvati, the Goddess of purity and spiritual knowledge, associated with Creation of the Universe is worshipped on Vasant Panchami day, which signifies Spring or the season of Creation.
|Yellow color, representative of spiritual knowledge, is given importance on this day. An idol of Goddess Sarasvati is dressed in yellow garments and worshipped. People, too, wear yellow garments on this day.|
|Brahmans (Hindu priests) are fed and worship for the liberation of deceased ancestors’ souls (Pitru-tarpan) is performed.|
|Children are taught their first words (as an auspicious beginning to learning), and schools and colleges (places of learning) organize special worship to Goddess Sarasvati on this day. Children place their books on the altar, at the Goddess’s (idol’s) feet. On Vasant Panchami books are not supposed to be touched, signifying that Goddess Sarasvati is blessing the books.|
On this day, special worship is also offered to the Sun deity (Surya dev), to the deities (divine energies) associated with Ganga (the sacred river Ganges in North India) and the Earth. This is done to pay obeisance and gratitude to these deities, for providing us the means of acquiring food and all that we need to keep alive. Such acknowledgment helps remind one of the attitude of service and giving that is present in all creation, thus facilitating the spiritual emotion (bhav) that like nature, one is here to imbibe a giving attitude and of remaining in service to The Lord.
Hindus all over the world celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, as it is believed to be the birthday of Goddess Sarasvati, the God principle of motion (gati), Who is also associated with the creation of the Universe. She is the Energy (Shakti) related to the male deity, Lord Brahma. Below is a chart explaining the special characteristics in the idol of Goddess Sarasvati and their implied meaning:
Special characteristics of the idol
The implied meaning
1. Complexion: bright
|Lord Brahma in the form of radiance|
2. Four hands
|Four directions (disha)|
3. Objects in the four hands:
|4. Color of the sari (garment) - white||Purity|
|5. Vehicle – white swan||The soul (seated on all the souls, She is the Supreme ruler of them all)|