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The Rama and Krishna circuits may undermine the sanctity of holy sites

Questions about whether the Ayodhya and Dwarka of today exist on the precise spot that they did in ancient times raise doubts about the duplication

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  • The Centre has approved projects worth Rs 300 crore for the development of these circuits in UP alone
  • Questions about whether the Ayodhya and Dwarka of today exist on the precise spot that they did in ancient times raise doubts about the duplication
  • The challenges faced by the committee are many as they have to create one template for all pilgrims even though there are myths and counter-myths

The Ministry of Culture has set up two national committees for the Rama and Krishna circuits. Religious leaders, spiritual gurus, and educationists associated with RSS-backed organisations have been asked to come together to advise the government on developing the two circuits as “Religious tourism” destinations.

The committee formed would devise ways to encourage tourism by identifying theme-based pilgrimage circuits along India’s age-old religious sites associated with Ram and Krishna. The two religious circuits are to map all the major sites associated with the two deities and develop them as religious tourism destinations. It is expected that this initiative would definitely influence the vote bank ahead of the polls.

The Ramayana circuit is expected to stretch from Nepal to Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka. The Krishna circuit will move from Mathura to Dwarka at one end and to Arunachal Pradesh on the other, sources said. The UP government has also been asked to send in proposals.

The Centre has approved projects worth Rs 300 crore for the development of these circuits in UP alone.

The committee had to narrow down many tirthas, or religious sites as the lives of both Ram and Krishna in their human avatars, were marked by constant mobility. On June 14, the committee proposed 11 sites across six states for what is being called the Ramayana circuit: Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringhverpur and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh; Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga in Bihar; Jagdalpur in Chattisgarh; Bhadrachalam in Telangana; Hampi in Karnataka; and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. Under the Krishna circuit, they proposed Dwarka in Gujarat; Nathdwara, Jaipur and Sikar in Rajasthan; Kurukshetra in Haryana, Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon and Govardhan in Uttar Pradesh and Puri in Odisha, says the Scroll.in report.

Questions about whether the Ayodhya and Dwarka of today exist on the precise spot that they did in ancient times raise doubts about the duplication of these sacred places.

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Ram Paidi ghat in Ayodhya. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
Ram Paidi ghat in Ayodhya. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

“The pilgrims” India, writes Diana Eck in her book ‘India: A Sacred Geography’, “ is a vividly imagined landscape… created by linking, by duplication, and multiplication of places so as to constitute an entire world.”

Some interpretations put pilgrims to be beyond the boundaries of an actual physical presence as the Mahabharata, says, they can be in the mind. Tuladhar says to Jajali: “O Jajali, all rivers are holy, all hills are pure, and the human soul is the true tirtha. It is therefore senseless to undertake pilgrimages and become guests in alien lands.”

Revered gurus such as Gorakhnath and Kabir, also voiced their opinion on going on long and elaborate pilgrimages and bathing in holy rivers to cleanse one’s soul, says Scroll.in.“Ganga na jaoon ji, main Jamuna na jaoon ji main na koi teerath nhaoonji !” – I shall not go to the Ganges, or the Yamuna, neither will I bathe in the holy waters at a tirth – Goraknath has famously proclaimed.

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The challenges faced by the committee are many as they have to create one template for all pilgrims even though there are myths and counter-myths, multiple interpretations of religious lore and multiple versions of Ram and Krishna’s story.

Preparing a calendar of events for the guided tours of Ramayana and Krishna circuits is sure to create issues given that there are so many events to choose from.

To create a specific and centralised tourism patterns in this sacred landscape without destroying the broad spiritual margin is indeed a herculean task. It is also needs to be  ascertained whether the identification of these cities by the committees was not driven by political dimensions. After the conflagrations over Ram and Krishna Janmbhoomi that rocked the state in the 1990s and unleashed horrific communal violence in several parts of India, killing thousands, the government needs to ensure that lands claimed by religions are not used for political mileage.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Some people believe that these circuits may undermine the faith of these holy sites. The need is to reconsider on these.

  • AJ Krish

    Where people arrive at large numbers, business flourishes. Whether they are pilgrimages or tourist spots, people open up stores to cater to the needs of the visitors. I don’t see any fault with commercializing pilgrim centers.

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Here’s A List of Top 5 Gadgets of India in 2018

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 for Rs 57,900 is packed with rich features -- both for the workaholic and the lazy soul

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Top 5 gadgets that grabbed eyeballs in India in 2018. (IANS)

From high-end tablets to powerful cameras, the year 2018 saw some cool gadgets arriving in India. Here are the top 5 picks from the lot.

1. Apple Watch Series 4

Call it guardian of your health. If you are constantly worried about an elderly person in your family suffering a fall in the bathroom or in the garden, the Apple Watch Series 4 is what you need.

The device houses a feature called “Fall Detection” that will alert emergency contacts saved in your iPhone in case you meet with a hard fall.

The new Watch has an electrical heart sensor with two new features — low heart rate notifications and faster heart rate reading. The moment you get furious, Watch Series 4 sends you an immediate notification about your heart rate going through the roof, requiring you to cool down.

In the US, Apple Watch Series 4 will now help users take an electrocardiogram (ECG) right from their wrist and check irregular heart rhythms (hope these features come to India soon).

Apple Watch Series 4 is now available in India — the GPS+Cellular variant starts from Rs 49,900 and GPS-only model from Rs 40,900.

Apple Watch
Apple watch series 4.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 for Rs 57,900 is packed with rich features — both for the workaholic and the lazy soul.

The 2-in-1 comes equipped with Samsung “DeX” (docking station) and S Pen, making it a perfect device for those who are always on the go and seek entertainment on the side.

The redesigned S Pen offers services like navigate, translate and organise notes — and even to send personalised texts via Samsung “Live Message”.

The device has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, runs Android 8.1 Oreo, has 4GB RAM in two 64GB and 256GB internal memory with microSD variants. There is a 13MP rear and 8MP front camera.

If you are a Samsung smartphone user, especially Note 9, and want the same experience on a bigger display, Galaxy Tab S4 is your default choice. Invest in a Book Cover Keyboard to give the tab a laptop-like form factor.

3. OnePlus 6T

Undoubtedly the flagship killer of the year in the Rs 30,000 – Rs 40,000 segment.

The company’s latest addition packs in all the goodness of OnePlus 6 along with meaningful upgrades such as the much-anticipated under-display fingerprint sensor, a smaller waterdrop-style notch and a bigger battery.

The 6T is OnePlus’ costliest smartphone so far with a price tag of Rs 37,999 (for the 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage base variant). It is also available in a configuration of 8GB RAM+128GB storage and 8GB RAM+256GB storage for Rs 41,999 and Rs 45,999, respectively.

OnePlus has brought a slew of meaningful upgrades to the 6T and the phone definitely looks and feels better this time. Topped with a bigger battery and some hardware improvements, OnePlus 6T makes for a highly desirable smartphone in the premium category.

4. Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

The Rs 14,999 All-New Echo Plus (2nd Gen) with a smarter Alexa comes with a built-in smart hub that helps you set up compatible Zigbee-enabled smart home devices directly, just using your voice.

Just ask Alexa to discover your devices and begin controlling compatible lights, plugs, locks, thermostats, sensors and in-wall switches.

With seven microphones, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation, Echo Plus will hear you from all directions.

One feature that is worth mentioning is the equaliser (EQ) feature that allows users to personalise sounds by adjusting the bass, mid-range and treble.

Just ask Alexa to increase or decrease a specific band like “turn up the bass” or “decrease the treble” and she does it for you.

The second-generation Echo Plus with a far more intelligent Alexa is a real upgrade if you have experienced the first generation Echo.

Google , US, Alexa
With seven microphones, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation, Echo Plus will hear you from all directions. Pixabay

5. Canon EOS R

The first full-frame mirrorless camera from Japanese camera maker Canon, the 30.3MP EOS R is the show stopper.

With the new EOS R, four types of RF mount adapters have been introduced to complete the EOS R ecosystem.

The EOS R features an electronic viewfinder. The camera is equipped with features like advanced Dual pixel CMOS AF, Digic 8 imaging processor, High density AF points positions, Multi-function slider bar, Flexible AE Mode and High speed data communication RF mount.

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The RF lens mount is a balance of optical, mechanical and electronic engineering excellence, enabling innovative full-frame lens designs, faster auto focus and high-speed communication between the camera and lens.

The 54mm diameter RF mount is what makes EOS R unique with its short back-focus of 20mm and 12-pin contact points for enhanced communication between the lens and body.

The camera costs Rs 189,950 and with the EOS R kit (RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens), the price is Rs 278,945. (IANS)