Sunday December 17, 2017

7 Things That We Can Learn From ‘Arjuna’ of Bhagavad Gita

Arjuna is one of the best examples of an ideal student. There are many qualities of Arjuna that we should try imbibing in ourselves. Read on to find what can be learned from Arjuna.

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Krishna and Arjuna
Lord Krishna and Arjuna from a scene in the Hindu epic book Mahabharata. Pixabay

Arjuna is one of the characters around whose life story is depicted by the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna in many ways was an ordinary person just like us. The one thing that makes him more than ordinary was the fact that he had a good heart. But he also had his own good and bad habits. Lord Krishna chose Arjuna to reveal the Gita because he saw that not many men were as sensitive as Arjuna. Usually, not many men hesitate morally in order to fight a war and stand for their rights. We have received the teachings of God because of Arjuna who was the student and Veda Vyasa who recorded it. We have made a list of 7 things about why he was an ideal student and how we can learn things from ‘Arjuna’.

Death of jayadarath
The painting depicts the scene where Arjuna is fighting in the war of Mahabharata. Wikimedia

Here are the 7 things

Humility

Arjuna was very humble and sincere. He was willing to accept his flaws and learn from them. To quote the Gita, Arjuna to Krishna, “Overcome by faintheartedness, confused about my duty (Dharma), I ask you: Please tell me that which is truly better for me. I am your student. Please teach me, I have taken refuge in you” Gita 2.7

Willingness to leave his family for learning

When the Pandavas were banished to the forest because of Duryodhana treachery, Arjuna decided to make use of the time he had and learn some new skills and the science and art of using new weaponry. So he separated from his family in order to learn about advanced weapons from Bhagwan Shiva.

Respectful towards his teacher

Arjuna was extremely respectful towards his teacher and always adhered to his instructions. This can be understood in the following instance. Guru Dronacharya had been humiliated by King Drupad. When all the Pandava princes ended their education Guru Dronacharya asked for his ‘gurudakshina’ which was capturing King Drupad alive and bringing the king to him. Arjuna faithfully carried out his teacher’s orders even if has meant risking his own life.

Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Image source: Wikimedia

Not being addicted to sleeping or eating

Arjuna was a sincere student who was ready to give up on his sleep and food if he wanted to master something. The following incident proves Arjuna’s sincerity and dedication. One time while Bheema, his brother was eating his food, the lamp blew out leaving them in darkness. Bheema was still able to complete his food. Inspired from Bheema eating in the dark, he thought that if Bheema could eat in the dark, then he could also aim and hit his target in the dark only by listening to the sounds made by the target. He kept on practicing this skill until he mastered the skill of shooting in the dark. In order to master it, he had to cut down on his sleeping hours. Arjuna has another name ‘Gudakesha’ which meant ‘He who has mastered sleep’.

Attentive and focused

Arjuna was very observant and focused. There is a very famous incident which proves Arjuna’s was very attentive and dedicated. Once Guru Dronacharya asked all the Kauravas and the Pandavas to shoot the eye of a bird that was perched on the tree with a bow and arrow. He called each of them one by one and asked they could see. All of them answered with things like tree, bird, leaves and Guru Drona himself. When Arjuna’s turn came, he answered that he could only see the bird’s eye. Thus he was able to hit the target successfully because his focus was only on the bird’s eye. There is no doubt that Arjuna became an extremely good archer.

Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Wikimedia

Persistent and Hardworking

Arjuna was extremely hard working and spent a lot of effort and time in mastering his skills. Once all the Pandavas and the Kauravas complained that Guru Dronacharya favored Arjuna too much. Dronacharya decided to test them to in order to see how they can perform compared to Arjuna. He sent Arjuna on an errand. Immediately after sending Arjuna, he taught everybody about aiming at a leaf and hitting it successfully. The lesson was completed and everybody left the site before Arjuna returned. On returning he saw a lot split leaves on the ground and understood that he had missed an important lesson. In order to make up for the lesson, he started practicing on leaves in his free time and thus covered up his missed lesson quickly. After coming to know the hard work that Arjuna put in, in order to cover the missed lesson, all the princes understood why he was Guru’s favorite.

Chose God over materialistic riches and power

Before the great war, both Arjuna and Duryodhana approached Krishna to get him to fight for their respective sides. But Krishna told them that he would personally not pick up any weapon and fights and gave both them a choice between him and his mighty army. Duryodhana chose Krishna’s might army while Arjuna just chose Krishna as his charioteer and allowed God to lead him and did not care about the mighty army. Life is full of choices. We often act as Duryodhana and choose the path of power and wealth, compromising on our honesty and justice. But we should always be like Arjuna choosing the path of truth and ‘dharma’ over worldly temptations. This is the reason why Arjuna won the battle even after having a smaller army

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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Seven Wonders of the World : Ancient and Modern

The Seven Wonders of the World are a set of monuments which show the artistic and architectural excellence of humanity from history to the present times. Read more to find out about the ancient and the modern seven wonders of the world

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FILE - The silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado hill stands out against the full moon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. VOA

The Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient times was a list made by the Greeks in order to honor the most magnificent piece of architecture in their known world. Sadly today other than the Pyramid of Giza, none of the other wonders have been able to survive the test of time. Since then a new list has been made in order to acknowledge the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World as per the Greeks: 

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza – The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient wonder which has survived. This pyramid erected in the year 2560 BC, is known to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest of all ancient wonders.
Pixabay
The Pyramids of Giza – Pixabay
  • The Hanging Garden of Babylon – There is not much to say about this wonder because of the fact that there is very little historical documentation about these gardens. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife in 600 BC because she was missing her hometown in the hills.
A Painting of Hanging Garden of Babylon – Wikimedia Common
  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria – The Lighthouse of Alexandria was 400ft tall in length and had kept its record for being the tallest building in the world for centuries. This was built around 280 BC. This magnificent structure was destroyed by several earthquakes. In 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, which till date stands on Pharos Island.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes – The Colossus of Rhodes is a nearly 100 feet tall statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausoleum around 350BC. The structure was demolished by a series of earthquakes which occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia – The statue was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, it represented Zeus seated on his golden throne. The statue itself is 40ft tall and is adorned with gold and ivory. The cause of the destruction of the statue is not clearly known but it was destroyed sometime in the  5th century.
A Painting of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Pixabay
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – The temple is located in Eastern Turkey. It has been rebuilt several times following its destruction every time. One memorable incident related to the temple is the fact it once burnt down the same night when Alexander the Great was born. The third temple was acknowledged by the Greeks as a wonder. It was finally destroyed for good by the Goths in 268AD.
The Temple of Artemis Ruins – Wikimedia Commons

The List of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 1997, a new set of seven wonders was developed which was based on the online voting system from all around the world. The new Seven Wonders of the World are:-

  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – The Chichen Itza is the ruins of a complex in the form of a step pyramid from the Mayan civilization.
Chichen Itza – Pixabay
  • Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil – This is a 98 ft statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was built by French sculptor, Paul Landowski.
Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil – Pixabay
  • The Great Wall of China – The Great Wall of China is a wall that was built along the northern border of China in order to protect the Chinese empire from the nomadic attacks from the Eurasian tribes.
The Great Wall of China – Wikimedia Commons
  • Machu Picchu, Peru – Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel which is located high up on the Andes Mountains. It is famous for its age-old stone block walls. The exact nature of use of this citadel is not exactly known.
Machu Picchu – Pixabay
  • Petra, Jordan – Petra was an ancient desert in Jordan which consists of numerous temples and tombs carved in pink sandstone thus earning its nickname as the “Rose City”.
Petra – Jordan, Wikimedia Commons

 

  • The Roman Colosseum, Rome – The Colosseum as it is famously known, is a huge amphitheater located in the center of the city of Rome in Italy. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was used for gladiator fights, animal matches, and re-enactment of various dramas prevalent in those times.
Colosseum in Rome – Wikimedia Commons
  • The Taj Mahal, Agra – The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum which is built in pure white marble on the orders of Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is situated on the south bank of the Yamuna River and was commissioned to be built in 1632.
The Taj Mahal, India – Wikimedia Commons

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

CNN announced a list of wonders which were not manmade but were formed naturally over a period of thousand years. This list was given in 1992.

  • Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon – Wikimedia Commons
  • The Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef – Pixabay
  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt Everest
Mount Everest – Pixabay
  • Northern Lights
Northern Lights -Pixabay
  • Paricutin Volcano

    The Crater of Paricutin Volcano – Pixabay
  • Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls Africa – Pixabay

No list of Seven Wonders is definite. These lists tell us how much the humanity has progressed and nature has evolved over the years.  These wonders are nothing but the remainder of the accomplishments of mankind from history to the present.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

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10 Ayurvedic Herbs That Are A Boon to Mankind| Newsgram

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Ayurvedic herbs
Shatavari. Wikimedia

Oct 08, 2017: The supreme tradition of Ayurveda has been considered as universal and eternal. Ayurvedic herbs have been in use since the ancient times. This statement of Charaka sage (one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda in ancient India) is completely true – Life is the combination of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayurveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and world beyond. The effect of this is that even today Ayurvedic method has settled in our hearts in some form.

We hear in our everyday life that we are told to take celery when there is abdominal pain or gas. When there is cold and cough, it is said that do not drink cold water, take ginger, basil, black pepper tea. All this is part of Ayurveda directed by the elderly. After all, that time is returning now when not only the leaders of the country but people of the whole world have not only accepted Ayurvedic medicine and its authenticity but also have adopted.

Here is a list of 10 Indian Ayurvedic Herbs:

Gritkumari (Aloe Vera)

Gritkumari/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

This strange looking plant or ayurvedic herb has no end to its beneficial properties. Gritkumari or Aloe Vera helps in diabetes, uterine disease, stomach upset, joint pain, skin malfunction, acne, wrinkles, facial scars, dark circles of eyes, torn ankles. 

Shatavari (Asparagus)

Shatavari
Shatavari/Ayurvedic Herbs. Pixabay

Shatavari is called Asparagus in English and its botanical. It is a medicinal plant (one of the indian ayurvedic herbs known as “reproductive tonic”) found in India, which is used in the treatment of countless diseases. Shatavari is sometimes also translated as “she who possesses 100 husbands.” The plant is known to enhance the fertility of both male and female. It promotes lactation in women.

Bhringraj (False Daisy)

Bhringraj/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Bhringraj is considered a herb for longevity and rejuvenation. It works wonders for hair and cirrhosis. It also rejuvenates memory, teeth, bones, vision, and hearing. This plant is native to India and Southwest America.

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

Ashwagandha plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng has been very important in ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda. It is a herb that has been used for many centuries. In an effort to stay away from many types of infection, it has also been used by native Americans and Africans. This herb originated in India and it grows best in dry areas. Ashwagandha is very beneficial for those who are always feeling lazy. Laziness ends with its consumption.

Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia)

Giloy/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Giloy is known as the ‘root of immortality’. Giloy has been called Amrita due to its richness. Giloy enhances the body’s immune system and eliminates blood loss in the body. Giloy’s intake is also very beneficial in jaundice. 

Methi (Fenugreek)

Methi/Ayurvedic Herbs. Wikimedia

Fenugreek is a very famous herb and due to its unparalleled medicinal properties, it is also used in Ayurveda very popularly. Fenugreek is also found in high quantities of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. Apart from this, it also contains Vitamin B 6. Effective antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and antiviral properties are found in fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are used for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. The seeds of fenugreek are known for a sharp flavor and fragrance.

Tulsi (Basil)

Tulsi plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

Basil not only holds religious significance but also has many health benefits. Many scientific researches confirm the properties present in Tulsi. In India, the medicinal properties of Tulsi are highly valued. Chewing leaves of Tulsi with ginger gives relief from a cough and cold. Boil the basil with tea leaves and remove a sore throat.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Bhrami/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

In addition to the intelligence, memory, Brahmi is used for many health problems. This medicine has great importance in Ayurveda. Brahmi is green and white. All parts of the Brahmi plant are useful. As far as possible, Brahmi should be used freshly. The effect of Brahmi is mainly on the mind. It is a tonic for the brain and also gives peace to it. If there is a decrease in the efficiency of the person after the strenuous work, then the use of Brahmin has a great advantage.

Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

Arjuna plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

It is a medicinal tree and is found supreme among the medicines used in cardiovascular diseases in Ayurveda. Arjun tree is being used in Ayurveda for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases since ancient times.

Tagar (Valeriana wallichii)

Tagar plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Tagar plant is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine system for sleeping disorders. It is also known as Indian Valerian. It is used in Ayurveda, for treating brain-related disorders such as insomnia, hysteria, nervous unrest, and emotional troubles. 

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94