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From Far & Near - Topics of Interest

by Bhupendra Gandhi

Destiny with death cheated by a whisker

Ewa Wisnierska, a German adventurer and a paraglider of considerable experience was involved in a freak accident with a survival chance of less than one in a million.

Some 200 paragliders had gathered in the small town of Manilla, in New South Wales, Australia, to prepare for a World paragliding Championship. These are dedicated sportsmen and women, extremely fit and healthy, with a lifestyle to match their dedication.

Paragliding is a fast and upcoming sport. Whenever we go on holiday in Canary Isles, we see these enthusiasts, especially if we are staying near mountains, monopolising the sky and enjoying themselves as if there is no tomorrow.

One can just look, stare and admire these literally high flyers, for their courage, devotion and determination to pursue their dreams. Unfortunately we do not have a right climate in this country to make paragliding a popular sport, a desirable pastime.

Ewa and her fellow enthusiasts took to sky, an every day routine for these professionals, from a 600 feet high cliff, hoping to catch a thermal wind that would take them to a height of five thousand feet at the most.

Their clothing and specialized equipments were geared to protect them for such an eventuality, soaring to a height of 5000 feet but not 32,000 feet, a death zone due to lack of oxygen. Unfortunately they were caught in a raging storm, a tropical phenomenon, common in this part of Australia.

Ewa tried to circumnavigate the storm, as it was confined to a small area in the vast open sky. But she was sucked in and spiralled to the height of 32,000 feet in less than fifteen minutes, higher than Mount Everest at 29,035 feet.

Ewa was bombarded with hailstones the size of golf balls. It was pitch dark in the centre of the storm with occasional lightening and temperature of -50C*. Ewa was continuously monitored from the ground by a team of experts with state of the art equipment who were horrified watching Ewa soaring so high, invisible to naked eyes but were powerless to intervene, to help her.

Speaking from her hotel, after the freak accident, Ewa said she felt like nothing, tossed around like an autumn leaf. She passed out for some 40 minutes which might have saved her life, as it put her in semi hibernation, with her body temperature, pulse and breathing rate very low, which enabled her to survive in thin air with little oxygen.

The previous survival record for a paraglider without oxygen was a mere 24,000 feet. So she beat the record by a considerable margin, a record that will remain intact for a very long time, if not for ever.

Her stance in the storm lasted about 40 minutes but it sounded like a life time to Ewa. When she landed, she was covered with ice with frost bites but alive and not too bad under the circumstances.

The ground support team feared she might have sustained brain damage and rushed her to hospital. But she had escaped with minor burses, hyperthermia and frost bites but nothing serious or permanent. In fact she was so confident that she promised to go out again and participate in the championship. But this experience will remain with her as long as she lives, having lost a fellow enthusiast who died in this tragedy.

There is a saying in our culture, “Ram rakha tena kon mara?” Translating loosely, “Who can harm some one who is under the protection of Lord Rama? How true it was in Ewa’s case!

We all, from time to time have such experiences. I certainly had one which I vividly recalled in my story “From Hell and Back.” I wonder whether any of our readers would like to share there experiences with the readers.

Meteorite Showers

Referring to my article Meteorite Showers in India Link, (Oct-Nov 06 issue) a good friend and ardent, enthusiastic and knowledgeable reader, Shri Ramesh Jhalla sent me his thoughts and observation which I find not only fascinating and interesting but also well researched and full of vital information that I feel I must share with the readers of India Link, as the article was well received.

Such an insight comes out of deep knowledge of our culture and religion, scripts and holly books of Vedas, Upanishad, Ramayana and Mahabharata. I feel I should share this wonderful insight into our cultural inheritance, our precious heritage, with the readers of this prestigious magazine who appreciate the knowledge, especially the knowledge that derives from our ancient and noble culture, the land of sage and sanscruti, honour and sacrifice, art and culture.

Ramesh writes, “Such meteors’ pyrotechnics and collisions have been described in detail and most vividly in our Hindu culture and various books of knowledge and records. Hindu scripts have vivified and graphically narrated the Tandav Nritya of Lord Shiva, his icon popularly known as Natraj, with multitude of hands carrying fire in each palm, can be seen not only in most temples but also in many Hindu and Western homes.

This is a symbolic image of galactic pyrotechnics as understood by learned Hindu Sages and Rishis who had the knowledge of our universe, much deeper and in more detail than the modern day scientists, astronomers, cosmologists and Space experts from NASA and the Western world. It is indeed a matter of great pride for the Bharatwasi that they possessed such knowledge at a time when the rest of the world was still emerging from the Stone Age.

Many Bhramastras showering fire on earthlings may be as symbolic as an acknowledgement of the meteors showering the earth. Rumbling caused by the elephant of Lord Indra may be Sage’s interpretation, explanation of astral hullabaloo.

Earlier stages of Dashvatar clearly describe such a collision and how Mother Earth was saved, rescued from the destructive extra terrestrial fires unleashed by the nature. The rescue, the cleansing came in the form of continuous rainfall lasting a million years, submerging the entire earth under water, with the evolution of living organism and later the more advanced marine and amphibious life depicts refinement into human being.

It injected the divine ethics, the emergence of Hinduism, the oldest, richest, most cultured and vastly knowledgeable of all religions. It seems there is no comparison with ancient Hinduism when it comes to knowledge about medicine, (Ayurvedic) earthsastra (economics) Yoga and Youdhsastra (Knowledge about weapons of mass destruction.)

Meteorite showers are also described in the latter day religions of Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism and Christian parable in their holly books of Bible and the Old and the New Testaments with stories similar to our own, perhaps based on the knowledge acquired while attending universities in the ancient land of Bharat. The universities of Taxashila, Patliputra, Magdath and many more were as famous then as are Oxford and Cambridge today.

Even ancient Egyptians and Chinese civilizations were aware of space travel, cosmic collision and meteorite showers which is probably the most plausible, understandable and explainable reason for the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs, the life evaluation most likely to colonize and dominate the planet earth.

The theosophical literature has predicted transmigration of life to other hospitable planets. Perhaps the life on Mars and even on our moon may have been transferred to Mother Earth when these planets became inhospitable to life, perhaps due to collision, meteoric showers on a very large scale lasting a very long time, remains of a super star, a planet, a nova that may have been destroyed, forming a tale with a million billion particles of varying shape and size littering the space. If the earth passes through such debris, the meteorite shower may last years rather than days, destroying life on earth as we know it.

The space is such a complex, intricate and mind boggling subject that even today we know next to nothing about super novas, black holes, other galaxies and collapsing stars, space that is expanding at a rate of a million miles a day. Can any one imagine that some of the stars that twinkle in our sky have been dead for millions of years but will go on twinkling for thousands of years more before they disappear from our horizon?”

Well, I hope the knowledgeable and knowledge hungry readers of IL will appreciate Ramesh Ji’s contribution as much as I do. Any comment?

It is time Hindus get equal attention

The formation of Hindu Safety Forum. (HSF) is a step in the right direction..

The Hindu interest, in particular Hindu safety, especially of those who are most venerable, such as students on the University campus is long overdue and routinely ignored by the police, the media and even our own community members.

As Hindus are the most peaceful and law abiding citizens of the country, with the lowest prison population, it is the duty of the law authority, the police to protect them, the protection they need and deserve.

This is the only way Hindus can keep the community law abiding, not to let our younger generation to take the law into their own hands or follow in the foot-steps of others who use violence as the first weapon, the only weapon to resolve differences, ignoring the civilized way of discussions, and the courts if every thing else fails. This is the essence of democracy.

The conference at the London School of Economics was attended by the representatives of the Metropolitan Police.

Not surprisingly, the issue that dominated the conference was the lack of understanding of the Hindu Culture, Hindu way of life and the Hindu ethics by the police and the authority that provide security, and the aggressive attitude of the radical students, especially on the University Campuses where they engage in bullying and the conversion of Hindu students in aggressive manner. So often girls are beaten up and have to leave their studies half way.

Ramesh Kallidai, the General Secretary of HFB said, “There is much passion and resentment amongst Hindu and Sikh student community over the continuous attempt to convert Hindu students, especially the Hindu girls.” These girls form the bulk of the ethnic female student populations, as Hindus fervently believe in educating all their children, boys and girls equally. Not surprisingly, some students would like to shed the tag of Hindus being an easy target and who can blame them? But could it be good fot the community, the race relations?

Judging from the experiences of our own children, there is nothing new except that it is taking on an endemic proportion, especially in the inner city Universities, now routinely bypassed by many Hindu parents. But this is not the answer.

The trend of going to University and living on the campus, in special accommodation built by the authority, is becoming less popular due to such activities. This is supposed to be a unique experience for the young students, where lifelong friendships are forged, career chosen and so often life charted, with the taste of independent living away from parents and family members. Not any more, at least not for the majority of the female students who now prefer to live at home and travel to University.

In a way this is a curtailment of one’s freedom, freedom of choice, travel and socializing, imposed by a handful of fanatics. The University authorities have promised to eradicate such extreme activities but has miserably failed. This is nothing new when Hindus are the victims.

It was also pointed out that, to counter this, the Hindus, Jains and Sikh students are becoming more radical, form their own inner circle and are unable or unwilling to participate fully in university activities except within their own culture and background.

This could only be detrimental for the good race relations, especially for the vast majority of law abiding Muslims, as by far the vast majority of their members are unable or unwilling to integrate with the main stream society, thus missing out on employment opportunities and suffering a lower standard of living than other ethnic minorities. Surely this can not be right?

I do not know how active NHSF is but it should have a branch at every University, especially where there are significant numbers of Hindu students. It should actively encourage every one to join and provide active support, advice and guidance when Hindu students are under pressure.

NHSF should also seek active support from every community that share our values and that include Muslim communities such as Daudi Bhora, Ismaili, Ahmedia and Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslims. From my own personal experience, youngsters from these communities are as articulate and law abiding as our own children and their children are so often targeted as well.

The leading Hindu organizations should prepare a list of Unis where such a problem exist and boycott them enemas. We should also write to the Chancellors of these Universities as well as to our MPs who are best placed to influence these institutions of learning.

If we unite, we can tackle any problem, if not, we will be picked up one by one. It seems Hindu parents are at last waking up to this problem. We must congratulate Miss Natasha Jalota and her parents who innocently gave her mobile number to her fellow Muslim student. She was hounded for two years until she confided in her sister who told her parents. They encouraged her to go to the police who quickly brought the harassment to an end; but not before her health took a bashing and she wasted the first year of her University. She said these were supposed to be the best years of her young and ambitious life; instead she has been to hell and back.

Speakers and panellists included Tony McNulty, Minister for security and police, Raj Joshi from Crown Prosecution Service (CPR) who gave an excellent speech, Dr. Rob Berkeley of Runnymede Trust as well as many seniors from the Metropolitan Police and Chief Superintendent Mr Steve Jordan of Security Lead on the Commission of Integration and Cohesion. Although the Hindu community should take heart from the formation of Hindu Security Forum, it is too early to pass a judgement on the police. It is easy to say a few soothing words at the conference in full glaze of the media but real proof will come only when the police is involved at the ground level, how rapid is their react when called upon by the Hindu community.

Policing has become some what a political currency and moves with the political tide rather than need, fairness and justice. Let us hope that the tide has indeed turned and the needy, the weak and the law abiding people will get all the protection they deserve.

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