Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 1: The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

In 1986, the East German government made plans to build a massive apartment complex on the corner of Vossstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse in what was then East Berlin. For constructing the complex it was necessary to demolish concrete from a darker past. Under the construction site, located 28 feet (8.5 metres) deep in the ground, was the most notorious and imposing bunker complex used by Adolf Hitler and his murderous band of Nazis at the close of World War II.

In 1987, Robert Conrad, a German photographer, disguised as a construction worker took the risk to secretly photograph Adolf Hitler’s decaying Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker-Führerbunker complex. Conrad said:

Of course there was nothing in the newspapers about the Nazi bunkers. That was very much a taboo subject, as was everything about the Nazi period… Officially, they were just constructing a new residential neighborhood.”

Wilhelmstrasse in 1934, Reich Chancellery and Foreign Office on the left

Wilhelmstrasse in 1934, Reich Chancellery and Foreign Office on the left

Wilhelmstrasse (German: Wilhelmstraße) is a major thoroughfare in the central Mitte and Kreuzberg districts of Berlin, Germany. The street whose former name was Husarenstraße was renamed Wilhelmstraße in honor King Frederick William I, who died in 1740.

Wilhelmstraße was recognized as the centre of the government, first of the Kingdom of Prussia, later of the unified German Reich, housing in particular the Reich Chancellery and the Foreign Office.

King Frederick William I (August 14, 1688 –  May 31, 1740) of Prussia built the Palais Schulenburg, at Wilhelmstraße 77, for his esteemed Lieutenant General Count Adolph Friedrich von der Schulenburg. The building was completed in 1739.

Palais Schulenburg - Main building and courtyard formerly located on Wilhelmstraße.

Palais Schulenburg – Main building and courtyard formerly located on Wilhelmstraße.

In 1875, after many ownerships, the feuding Radziwill heirs sold Palais Schulenburg to the German Reich. It became the Reichskanzlerpalais (Chancellor’s palace). It was the Chancellery of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945 from the time of Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of Germany, and subsequent German Chancellors, the last being Adolf Hitler.

The Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker

Adolf Hitler (center) with his architects Professor Leonhard Gall (left) and Albert Speer (right) (Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H29050)

Adolf Hitler (center) with his architects Professor Leonhard Gall (left) and Albert Speer (right) (Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H29050)

In 1933, Adolf Hitler decided to expand the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery), which he considered too small for his needs. On July 21, 1935, Professor Leonhard Gall, one of Adolf Hitler’s architects, submitted unique plans for a large reception hall to be built as an expansion of the old Chancellery, that could also be used as a ballroom.

The plan envisaged a bunker 5 feet (1.5 metres) beneath the cellar of the large reception hall behind the old Reich Chancellery at Wilhelmstraß. It had a 6.25 feet (1.6 metres) thick roof. The thick walls of the bunker were designed to support the weight of the large reception hall on top of it. The bunker had three doorways – to the north, west and south.

The construction was completed in 1936.

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker as it was in April 1945 (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

The bunker was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants. It was officially called the “Reich Chancellery Air-Raid Shelter” until 1943, with the construction to expand the complex with the addition of the Führerbunker, located one level below. From then on this bunker became known as the Vorbunker or forward bunker or upper bunker.

The New Reich Chancellery

Though Hitler lived in Reichskanzlerpalais he once commented that Bismarck’s Old Chancellery was “fit for a soap company” but not suitable as headquarters of a Greater German Reich. So, in January 1938, Hitler asked Albert Speer, his chief architect, to build a larger, grander, new Reich Chancellery on the same site as the existing structure. Hitler said he needed the new building built in a year, in time to host the foreign diplomats during his next New Year’s reception.

This huge undertaking was a tall order because the existing Chancellery was in full operation. After consultation with his assistants, Speer agreed to build it.

However, the site was cleared only in April, 1938. Speer employed thousands of workers in two shifts. He completed the task successfully in nine months.

New Reich Chancellery - The Eastern Administrative Building.

New Reich Chancellery – The Eastern Administrative Building.

Albert Speer presented the fully furnished New Reich Chancellery to Hitler two days earlier than the allotted last day.

Hitler, who had remained away from the project, was overwhelmed when he saw the large, impressive, structure that included a 480-feet (146 metres) long “Marble Gallery,” almost twice the length of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. In appreciation Hitler awarded Speer the Nazi Golden Party Badge. But in Winston Churchill’s words, it was the hub of “a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.”

The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker

3D model of Führerbunker (left) and Vorbunker (right) by Christopher Neubauer

3D model of Führerbunker (left) and Vorbunker (right) by Christopher Neubauer

The most famous and arguably the most notorious and elaborate bunker complex in Germany consisted of two separate shelters, constructed in two phases. The Vorbunker completed in 1936, and the Führerbunker, to the west-southwest, completed in 1944. Since the bunkers were kept secret, information and details about them are rather scarce.

Increased bombing of Berlin led to the expansion of the Vorbunker as an improvised permanent air-raid shelter. The Führerbunker located 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) lower than the Vorbunker was built about 28 feet (8.5 metres) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery, 390 feet (120 metres) north of the new Reich Chancellery building at Voßstraße 6.

The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker was the last of the Führer Headquarters used by Adolf Hitler.

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker  as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

The above sketch of Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker is based on the photographs taken in 1988 by researcher Tom Posch of the remains of the bunkers and published in the book titled “The Berlin Führerbunker: The Thirteenth Hole, After the Battle, No.61“, Special Edition, Battle of Britain International Ltd, 1988.

The Vorbunker and the Führerbunker were connected by a stairway set at right angles and could be closed off from each other by a bulkhead and a steel door.

Besides being deeper underground, the Führerbunker had significantly more reinforcement than the Vorbunker. Its roof was made of concrete almost 10 feet (3 metres) thick. About 30 small rooms were protected by approximately 13 feet (4 metres) of concrete; exits led into the main buildings, as well as an emergency exit up to the garden.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Prelude


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Born in 1941, during World War II, I naturally have a fascination for the history of the Great War. Every time, I read about Adolf Hitler, the great dictator murdered more than 11 million people, including over one million children during the Holocaust, and his band of Nazis I look forward to coming across intriguing new viewpoints about the end of the Third Reich and the ultimate fate of its Führer.

According to popular consensus among historians, Hitler killed himself at the close of World War II. But, many unanswered questions, doubts, and uncertainties still linger about his death.

The perennial question: “Did Adolf Hitler commit suicide on April 30, 1945?” prompts those with even a modest knowledge of the history of World War II to pursue this issue even further. This question has also served as a catalyst for the prolific output of books and articles by conspiracy theorists.

Many historians claim that Adolf Hitler died of a self-inflicted gunshot while biting a cyanide capsule while Eva Braun committed suicide along with him by ingesting cyanide.

If we accept that Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, here again accounts differ about how he died:

  • Hitler died from a lethal injection administered by his personal physician Werner Haase.
  • Hitler died of a self-inflicted gunshot while biting a cyanide capsule while Eva Braun committed suicide along with him by ingesting cyanide.
  • Hitler after shooting his wife Eva Braun swallowed a cyanide capsule and shot himself.
Were reports of Hitler's death "greatly exaggerated"? Cover of Time Magazine, May 7, 1945

Were reports of Hitler’s death “greatly exaggerated”?
Cover of Time Magazine, May 7, 1945

An article written by Yorkshire war reporter Joe Illingworth in August 1945 casts doubt on events in the bunker, claiming that the Russians said there was no “convincing” proof of Hitler’s demise.

On September 26, 2009, the History Channel aired a documentary called Hitler’s Escape. For the making of the film, Connecticut archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni flew to Moscow to inspect the Hitler trophies at the Russian State Archive which included the skull fragment with a bullet hole through it, which the Russians dug up outside the Führerbunker in 1946, as well as bloodstains from the bunker sofa on which Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were believed to have committed suicide. The Russian government has been publicly claiming since 2000 that these articles belonged to Hitler.

“I had the reference photos the Soviets took of the sofa in 1945 and I was seeing the exact same stains on the fragments of wood and fabric in front of me, so I knew I was working with the real thing,” Bellatoni said.

Examination of the skull by Bellantoni revealed it belonged to a young woman and not that of the 56-year-old dictator. “The bone seemed very thin. Male bone tends to be more robust,” he said. “And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40.”

Bellantoni applied cotton swabs and took samples for DNA tests during the one hour he was allowed with the Hitler trove. The swabs were then flown back to Connecticut. At the university’s Centre for Applied Genetics, Linda Strausbaugh, worked for three days on the samples sent by Bellatoni. “We used the same routines and controls that would have been used in a crime lab,” she said.

The DNA analysis revealed that the skull undoubtedly belonged to a female, and the only positive physical proof that Hitler had shot himself had suddenly been rendered worthless. The result of the DNA analysis reopened the mystery surrounding Hitler’s death. Many compelling questions resurfaced such as:

  • Why did the Russians exhibit the corpse of Hitler’s double? Was it because they believed it to be the real Hitler?
  • If Hitler allegedly shot himself in the right temple, then why did the Russians exhibit what is claimed to be Hitler’s cranium, showing a bullet hole in the back of his head?
  • Why did the Russians refuse to allow their Western Allies to see Hitler’s presumed autopsy report?
  • Was Josef Stalin, the Russian leader telling the truth when he told US President Harry Truman and others that Adolf Hitler had escaped from Germany?
  • Why did Hitler’s plane land in Barcelona, Spain, on April 27, 1945, three days before the alleged suicide?
  • Why did three German submarines, land at the coast of southern Argentina more than two months after the end of World War II?’

Many conspiracy theorists have rejected the accounts of suicide by Hitler as either Soviet propaganda or an attempted compromise to reconcile the different conclusions. According to every one of the conspiracy theorists, the investigations conducted by the American and Soviet armies at the fall of Berlin lead to the only conclusion that Hitler escaped alive and left Germany during the fall of Berlin, most probably on April 22, 1945.

If Hitler escaped from  Germany, then where did he go, and how long did he survive? Some say there is evidence suggesting that Hitler may have fled to Indonesia, where he married and worked at a hospital in Sumbawa. However, the popular consensus among the conspiracy theorists is he fled to Argentina.

Present conspiracy theorists contend that evidence of Adolf Hitler’s suicide is flawed and that he did manage to escape from Germany. Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, authors of the book ‘Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf‘, claim that Adolf Hitler did manage to escape to South America. Their claim is more speculative and doubts have been raised about the validity of their conclusions. Guy Walters, the British author, novelist, historian, academic and journalist ridiculed the claims by the sensationalists as “2,000 per cent rubbish.”

I am not a professional historian. Still, from what I have read, I will describe to you in an abridged form, in my subsequent posts, of what happened in the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker from January 16, 1945 to May 1, 1945.

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Hurry Curry to Brazil for Bangladeshi FIFA Fans


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Mustafa Azim, a director of Imperial Air Salvage, is a Bangladeshi. When Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster The Edge of Tomorrow was being shot at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, the Imperial Air Salvage provided planes to be blown up on the set.

Azim and a couple of his friends have tickets for the World Cup final. Many of his football crazy friends from Bangladesh are already in Brazil. Since curry, rice, and fish are the main items in their regular diet, they were disappointed when they realized that there are no Indian restaurants in Brazil and intimated him.

Waiter Habib Miah with restaurant owner and chef Mohammed Wahid (Source: worthingherald.co.uk)

Waiter Habib Miah with restaurant owner and chef Mohammed Wahid (Source: worthingherald.co.uk)

So, Azim approached Mohammed Wahid, the owner of Chilcha, an Award Winning Indian Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing, West Sussex, to arrange a 12-person delivery to Brazil of some of their favorite dishes. “Chilcha” is the Bengali word for happiness.

Azim was already aware of Wahid’s delicious, appetizing cooking when the latter provided catering on the set of The Edge of Tomorrow at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden.

Mohammed Wahid owner and chef of Chilcha Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing. (Source: m.theargus.co.uk)

Mohammed Wahid owner and chef of Chilcha Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing. (Source: m.theargus.co.uk)

Wahid was surprised at first and agreed to cater to him.

Mustafa Azim, will fly into Shoreham Airport on a chartered plane to collect the dishes. He will then head to an airport near Heathrow, before boarding a commercial plane to take him and the food to Brazil.

The overall cost of the delivery is £4200: £1200 for the curry, £1800 for the flight to Brazil, £1000 for a chartered flight to Shoreham to collect the takeaway, £100 landing and parking charges, and £100 for the taxi to the hotel.

 

To Worship or Not to Worship Shirdi Sai Baba: That Is the Question…


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Dwarka Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Dwarka Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati seems to be an outspoken person. A few days before the recent parliamentary elections the seer was in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to attend a religious programme. A reporter from a news channel pressed him to know his views on Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate. The seer lost his cool and instead of answering slapped the reporter.

The incident was politically coloured with both Congress and BJP taking different stands. The seer brushed aside the matter, saying he did not want to discuss politics.

Mayank Aggarwal, the State Congress leader said: “Sadhus should not be asked political questions in the first place.” He also added that the seer wanted the discourse to be around religious issues and felt bad at being asked about Modi.

The BJP spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai,  said: “We believe that the religious leaders are the flag-bearers of religion, ethics and truth. They should be the epitome of forgiveness. Questions from the media are of prime importance and should not be brushed aside.”

However, the unperturbed seer brushed aside the matter, saying he did not want to discuss politics. Elucidating on the matter he said: “I slapped the reporter and told him ‘you are talking about him (Modi) so that he can remain a topic of discussion’.

On June 30, 2014, while addressing a meeting of the central working committee of the Bharat Sadhu Samaj at Kankhal near Haridwar in Uttarakhand, the forthright Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand stood steadfast on his stand on Shirdi Sai Baba. He asserted that Sai Baba was a Muslim fakir and should not be worshipped like a Hindu deity. He said his campaign to protect the Hindu religion will continue even if he is sent to jail, “They may burn my effigy or even send me to jail, but my campaign to protect the sanctity of the Hindu religion will continue,” Shankaracharya said.

On June 30, 2014, while addressing a meeting of the central working committee of Bharat Sadhu Samaj at Kankhal near Haridwar in Uttarakhand, the forthright Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand stood steadfast on his stand on Shirdi Sai Baba. He stressed that there is a need now to guard against forces that were “corrupting” the Hindu religion by arbitrarily creating new gods and propagating them. He said his campaign to protect the Hindu religion was being opposed by those who had made religion a means of livelihood and some people were making money in the name of Shridi Sai Baba. He said worshipping Sai Baba was a conspiracy to divide the Hindus.

Uma Bharti (Source: dnaindia.com)

Uma Bharti (Source: dnaindia.com)

At that meeting a letter sent by Uma Bharti, the Union Minister of water resources, to the Shankaracharya explaining the rationale behind her statement made the previous day was also read out at the confluence. In the letter she had said, looking upon someone as a god was people’s prerogative.

Shirdi Sai Baba - 2 Shirdi Sai Baba - 1 Shirdi Sai Baba - 3

However, Uma Bharti’s justification did not seem to satisfy the seer. Known to be a Congress backer, the Shankaracharya, belittled Uma Bharti saying he thought a devotee of Lord Ram had become a Union minister and a Ram temple in Ayodhya would soon be a reality, instead, she turned out to be the “worshiper of a Muslim.” He asked whether she had not seen the pictures of Sai Baba depicted like Hindu Gods including Shiva and Vishnu?

Now, while people are ranting and raving over this controversy of whether it is right to worship a human or not, some might wonder who the protagonist, Shridi Sai Baba, is.

The early life of Sai Baba continues to be an enigma. There are no reliable and consistent records of his birth and parentage. He is believed to have been born around 1838. He arrived at Shirdi as a nameless individual at a young age.

At Shirdi, he stayed on the outskirts of the village in Babul forest and meditated under a tropical evergreen Neem tree. Many villagers after perceiving him as an embodiment of discipline, penance and austerity, revered his saintly figure and gave him food.

After wandering in the woods for days, Sai Baba took shelter in a disused decrepit mosque. He referred to his new dwelling as “Dwarkarmai“, after the abode of Lord Krishna in Dwarka.

Very soon he had a large number of devotees among the Muslims, Hindus and Zoroastrians, who regarded him according to their individual beliefs, as a saint, a fakir, an avatar or an incarnation of god, or a Sadguru. They flocked to Dwarkarmai seeking spiritual guidance.

Unlike the present day spiritual leaders, Sai Baba had no love for corporeal materials. His sole concern was teaching self-realization.

Sai Baba is worshiped by people in India and around the world as a saint. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to the Almighty and the guru. He did not distinguish people based on religion or caste.

It still remains a mystery and almost everyone is uncertain of Sai Baba’s true religious leaning – Islam or Hinduism. His teachings combined elements of Islam and Hinduism. He practiced Islamic rituals, but taught using words and figures drawn from both traditions.

A minor section of the Islamic community in India considers Sai Baba as a Muslim Fakir and as a Sufi Pir or Peer, translated into English as “saint” and could be interpreted as “Elder”. In Sufism a Pir’s role is to guide and instruct his disciples on the Sufi path.

Zoroastrians like Nanabhoy Palkhivala and Homi Bhabha, worship Sai Baba who has been cited as the Zoroastrians’ most popular non-Zoroastrian religious figure.

Sai Baba died on October 15, 1918. He was buried in Shirdi. He is well known for the aphorisms such as “Allah Malik” (“God is King”) and “Sabka Malik Ek” (“One God governs all”), which is associated with both Islam and Sufism. He also said:

Trust in me and your prayer will be answered“.

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Have Will? Then, You Can Travel in the Indian Subcontinent!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Up to now I thought overloading was the major trait of transportation peculiar to India alone. But, now, I am really confused …

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Video grab from "Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!" uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia.

Video grab from “Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!” uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia.

I grabbed the above image from a video titled Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory! uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia. I do not think anyone in the West would have seen a train crowded like this in their country. But in India, it is a common sight, particularly during the festival seasons.

The regular commuters are mainly laborers coming to New Delhi from neighboring states. They would work for a week and then return home over the weekend. Most of them travel without tickets, and the state-owned Indian railways, are compelled to permit this, else their entire railway system will be debacled by these laborers.

Indian Railways ... (Source: imcradiodotnet.files.wordpress.com)

Indian Railways (Source: imcradiodotnet.files.wordpress.com)

I came across the above image captioned “Indian Railway…” on IMC – India meets Classic presents… web page hosted on wordpress.com. I doubt whether this photo was taken in India. I think it was most probably, taken somewhere in Pakistan. Also, I wonder whether all these people are genuine passengers or merely clinging on to the train, posing for the photograph to prove a point.

Recently, I viewed several videos on YouTube about railways in Asia. When I saw the following video titled “End of Ramadan rush-hour in Bangladesh” uploaded by No Comment TV on August 8, 2013, I was dumbfounded.

Eid al-Fitr or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). On this day all Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity.

This video shows thousands of Bangladeshis getting crammed on ferries and climbing on trains while leaving Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, to return to their home villages and celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This video needs no further comments.

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Dhanushkodi – Fifty Years After the Cyclone of 1964


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A cyclonic storm now referred to as the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone or the Dhanushkodi cyclone started with the depression that formed in the South Andaman Sea on December 17, 1964. On December 19, it intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. From December 21, it moved westwards, 400 km to 550 km per day. On December 22, it crossed Vavunia in Sri Lanka with a wind speed of 280 km per hour.

On December 22-23 night, the cyclone moved into Palk Strait and made landfall in Dhanushkodi, at the southern tip of Rameswaram island, on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India. The devastating tidal waves that were 7 metres high submerged all houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town  with heavy casualties.

On December 22, 1964, the tidal wave smashed into the Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger train and washed it into the sea while it was crossing the viaduct during the cyclonic storm.

 The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22, 1964

The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22 – 25, 1964.

More than 100 passengers drowned in the sea. The death toll was estimated to be anywhere between 115 and 200. The variation is due to the many ticketless travellers. The railway line running from Pamban Station to Dhanushkodi Pier was washed away.

The 1¼ mile-long Pamban Rail Bridge over the Pamban Channel, that links the Indian mainland with the island of Rameswaram was also badly damaged; 126 of its 145 girders collapsed. However, the lift span was barely damaged.

The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)

The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)

Most of the girders were salvaged from the sea and the Pamban viaduct was working once again in a span of just three months time.

The metre gauge branch line from Pamban Junction to Dhanushkodi was abandoned after the cyclone destroyed it.

Prior to the cyclone, Dhanushkodi was once a flourishing town. Then, the Railway line to Dhanushkodi, destroyed in the 1964 cyclone, went directly from Mandapam station to Dhanushkodi without touching Rameswaram. In those days Dhanushkodi had a railway station, a small railway hospital, primary schools, a post office, customs and port offices. There were hotels, dharmashalas (religious rest houses), and many textile shops that catered to the Hindu pilgrims and travellers to Sri Lanka.

A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)

A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)

Dhanushkodi is about 18 miles (29 km) West of Talaimannar, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). There was a steamer ferry service which operated daily from the pier on the south-east of the Dhanushkodi town to the pier at Talaimannar. The ferry transported travellers and goods, across the Palk Strait.

In the 1950s and 1960s, I used to travel to Ceylon by the Dhanushkodi-Talimannar steamer ferry.

The Indo-Ceylon Express, also known as the Boat Mail train, plied from 1915 to 1964 on a metre gauge track between Egmore Station in Chennai (then known as Madras) and Dhanushkodi. It took almost 19 hours to complete the journey of 420 miles (675 Km).

Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.

Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.

After the Boat Mail train reached Dhanushkodi Pier at 15:05 hours in the afternoon, the passengers after alighting from the train had to pass through the customs before boarding the ferry which used to leave the Indian shore soon after 16:00 hours. Depending on the weather, it took between 2 and 3½ hours to cross the very shallow Palk Bay and reach the Talaimannar Pier in Sri Lanka. The voyage used to be bumpy and nauseating when the sea was rough.

The name of the train changed from Indo-Ceylon Express to Rameswaram Express after the 1964 cyclone. Now, it is a 12-hour journey from Chennai to Rameswaram on a broad-gauge track.

On June 12, 2014, my wife and I along with relatives left Chennai on Rameswaram Express to attend a wedding at Pamban town. We reached Rameswaram the following day around 5:30 am and lodged in a hotel. We hired a van and left the hotel around 11:00 am to see Dhanushkodi.

After travelling for 20 minutes, we reached Dhanushkodi. Even 50 years after the cyclone of 1964, Dhanushkodi remains a dilapidated strip of land.

The driver stopped the van at a spot on the Indian Ocean side where many other vans carrying tourists were parked.

The driver said he cannot go farther as local regulations, meaning rules set by the local cartel of van drivers, forbids it. But the members of that association ply a number of their own vans to ferry the travellers to the end of Dhanushkodi and charge ₹100/- per person. At the end of the journey we paid ₹2,200/-.

After 35 minutes of a bumpy ride by van, on shallow waters and muddy tracts, we reached the tip of Dhanushkodi where Adam’s Bridge, a chain of sand shoals between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar begins. The distance from the tip of Dhanushkodi in India and Talimannar in Sri Lanka is about 18 miles (29 km). The Dhanushkodi fishermen say that some sand dunes are just 50 yards in length. Surprisingly, the smallest land border in the world, is a shoal in Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka – just 45 metres in length.

An eerie stillness prevailed around us except for the chatter of the few tourists subdued by the sound of waves. There were a few marine birds pecking on the soggy earth searching for food and many sea eagles circling in the air ready to swoop on any prey they could spot in the shallow waters or on the muddy land.

We saw many Hindu pilgrims bathing in the Palk Bay. The Hindus believe that pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi (Benares / Varanasi) in North India would not be complete without having the ritual bath at the tip of Dhanushkodi, considered a sacred confluence of the Palk Bay and the Indian Ocean, before completing their pilgrimage to Rameswaram.

St. Antony's Church at Dhanuskodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

St. Antony’s Church at Dhanushkodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

It was heartrending to see only thatched huts and no buildings with standing walls. The only walls we saw were the dilapidated walls of St. Anthony’s church and of a school devastated during the cyclone of 1964.

Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The main trade other than fishing was the sale of conch shells, and trinkets and ornaments made of shells sold at exorbitant prices to tourists and pilgrims.

Eventually, we left Dhanushkodi around 2:30 pm with a heavy heart after having seen the ravages wrought by the 1964 cyclone.

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Hoodwinking the Innocent in the Name of Jesus and The Holy Spirit


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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An innocent Congo boy

In the New Testament in Mark 10:13-16 we read:

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

If your heart is physically weak please do not view these videos.

The images you see in these videos are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where self-styled pastors hoodwink ignorant rural folk using the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These criminals who call themselves “pastors” resort to so-called “exorcism” of infants and children to fatten themselves by levying a high fee equal to US$50 or more to drive out the evil spirits in the innocent children. The government officials in Congo do not bother to intervene and arrest these extortionists because they receive their kickbacks under the table.

In India too, there are in every nook and corner, many crooked Christian pastors such as these, who inveigle ignorant people to their churches and fleece them in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

These felons should be stripped bare and molten lead should be poured into their blasphemous mouths for Exodus 20:7 says:

You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.

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Is a College Degree Necessary for Smriti Irani to hold the HRD Portfolio?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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I do not subscribe to any political party. But, when I perceive talent in any form, I will be the first person to endorse it.

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Smriti Zubin Irani, incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014.

Smriti Zubin Irani, incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014.

Smriti Zubin Irani, a former model, television actress and producer represents the Bharatiya Janata Party and is the incumbent Minister of Human Resource Development of Government of India since May 27, 2014. She is a first time Lok Sabha polls contestant and a first time minister and the youngest in the Narendra Modi cabinet.

She is a first time Lok Sabha polls contestant and a first time minister.

Born on March 23, 1976, in Delhi to a family of Punjabi–Bengali background, Smriti Malhotra is the eldest amongst three sisters. She studied up to class 12 at Holy Child Auxilium School (HCA) in New Delhi, and discontinued further education.

Smriti worked as a waitress at McDonald’s before finding stardom in modelling. In 1998, Smriti was one of the finalists of the Miss India beauty pageant.

In 2000, she made her debut with TV series Aatish and Hum Hain Kal Aaj Kal Aur Kal, both aired on Star Plus. In mid-2000, Irani bagged the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Ekta Kapoor’s production Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Awards for the Best Actress (Popular), four Indian Telly Awards, eight Star Parivaar Awards.

In 2001, Smriti married Zubin Irani, a Parsi.

Smriti Irani is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat and is now widely acknowledged in the BJP as a key member of Narendra Modi’s inner circle.

In her message to the Subject Toppers of Senior School Certificate (Class XII) Examination, 2014 conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi, posted on the website of the Government of India Ministry of Human Resource Development she said:

I congratulate all the students of CBSE who have excelled in their schools, districts and States in different subjects.

I applaud those who have worked hard and have got good results which make them and their families proud.

Examinations, marks, and above all values and Character in life, are the means to move forward and achieve progress

I wish all the students success in achieving their dreams in whatever walk of life they find joy and fulfilment and thereby contribute to a healthy, harmonious society and a strong nation.

But, there is something to be said about Smriti Irani’s own education.

Congress leader Ajay Maken questioned Smriti Irani’s credentials to lead the HRD ministry which oversees the country’s education system including the prestigious IITs and IIMs. Hitherto, the portfolio had always been held by a person with high academic qualifications. Maken tweeted: “Smriti Irani is not even a graduate,” triggering a political row, which until then had been fuelled online solely by her main detractor Madhu Purnima Kishwar, an Indian academic, and writer, who has been going hammer and tongs at Smriti Irani since the swearing-in.

In the past Madhu Kishwar vociferously defended Narendra Modi both on Twitter and on television channels. Now, after the swearing-in, Kishwar seems to have taken on a new role of being his critic-in-chief.

Smriti Irani seemed unfazed by the drama. However, there is more to this controversy.

Her BIODATA published in the HRD website states:

Educated at Holy Child Auxilium, Delhi and School of Correspondence and Continuing Education, University of Delhi, Delhi.

Smriti Irani has herself provided conflicting affidavits of her educational qualifications.

In 2004, in the affidavit filed with the Election Commission of India she submitted that she had received a bachelor’s degree in Arts (B.A.) in 1996 from Delhi University (School of Correspondence).

Details of school and university education - 1

 

In the affidavit filed with the Election Commission of India for the recent 2014 elections Smriti Irani claimed that she only completed Part I (first year) of her bachelor’s degree in commerce (Part I B.Com.) in the year 1994 from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (correspondence)..

Details of school and university education - 2

 

To add venom, a leak from the School of Correspondence, as reported by a newspaper, claims that Smriti Irani had enrolled in 2013, but had not written the examination.

This incidence of doubts raised about Smriti Irani’s education leads to the perennial question “What is education?

When knowledge, skills, and habits convey from one person to another through teaching, training, or research we call it education. So, we can say that education is any experience that has a developmental effect that leads to the way one thinks, feels, or acts.

Education - 1

By the way, do you think that all recipients of diplomas and college degrees are really educated?

At present, most people look at education as commonly divided into stages: preschool, primary school, secondary school and then college, university or apprenticeship under the guidance of others. But many do not freely acknowledge that education may also be autodidactic.

Autodidacticism or autodidactism or self-education is self-directed learning.

An autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidactism is a contemplative and absorptive process. One may become an autodidact at any point in one’s life. While one may have studied a particular field in the conventional method they may choose to inform themselves in other, often unrelated areas by self-study.

Many autodidacts have complemented their formal learning with self-study. Though I have a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, I am an autodidact in computer science. Forty-two years ago, I was not able to find any teacher who could teach computer science. So, I spent a great deal of time reviewing the resources found in physical libraries and buying whatever books on computer science that I came across in search of knowledge. I always say: “To learn, teach!” I gained most of my knowledge in computers by following this dictum — teaching others who sought knowledge in basic computer science.

Though autodidactism is only one facet of learning, many autodidacts have made notable contributions to the human race. Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci is one of history’s best known autodidacts.

Since most autodidacts do not advertise themselves, why not we consider Smriti Irani as one such person.

On May 19, 2014, Smriti Irani hit back at Congress leader Ajay Maken’s comments on her educational qualifications. She said,

Judge me by my work, I would only say this… Attempts have been made to deviate my attention from my work. The party has always entrusted me with assignments as they have confidence in me.

The late Kamaraj Nadar, former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, India, was a 3rd grader. He was a visionary and he opened hundreds of primary schools accessible to rural kids to improve the literacy rate in Tamilnadu.

The current Chief Minister of Tamilandu J. Jayalalitha is a 10th grader (Matriculation). She is fluent in several languages, including English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi.

So, before you write off Smriti Irani as an ‘uneducated’ person, just listen to the speech she gave before an International audience at the International Women’s Conference in February 2014, at The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore, India, a few months before she was sworn-in as the Honourable Union Minister of Human Resource Development, and then form your opinion about her.

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“Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  (AP)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (AP)

If you ask me to name two good men who stood for the rights of their fellow beings in the last century and made a mark in the history of humanity, I would immediately say: “Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

These two passionately devoted men with dreams and visions inspired their people using nonviolent civil disobedience based on their respective religious beliefs.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi called all Indians to break free from the yoke of the British rule and Martin Luther King mobilized his fellow Afro-Americans, who still languished in all the corners of American society and found themselves in exile in their own land, to break free from the shackles of the invisible, but existing slavery.

Four weeks after returning from India, King prepared a draft for an article titled “My trip to India,” April 1959. Ebony magazine published it under the title “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi“.

In that article King notes that Gandhi’s spirit was still alive, though “some of his disciples have misgivings about this when… they look around and find nobody today who comes near the stature of the Mahatma.” Lamenting India’s pervasive economic inequalities, King observes that “the bourgeoise - white, black or brown – behaves about the same the world over,” and he calls upon the West to aid India’s development “in a spirit of international brotherhood, not national selfishness.

I admit that until the early 1960s, I was not a fan of Martin Luther King, Jr., mainly because I did not know much about him, or I might even say misinformed.

August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.(Associated Press File Photo)

August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. (Associated Press File Photo)

After hearing Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, at the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” on August 28 1963, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 200,000 civil rights protesters, I realized how truly a great man and a gifted leader he was. He began his speech with:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of materia1 prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. …

I was spellbound. His soaring close: Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last,” still resonates even today and inspires those who follow his dream.

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Here is the full text of his speech “I Have a Dream“:

I HAVE A DREAM…

(Copyright 1963, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.)

Speech by the Rev. MAXTIN LUTHER KING
At the “March on Washington”

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of materia1 prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality — 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge. And that is something that I must say to my people who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their adulthood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.

Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go hack to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring

When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.

(Copyright 1963, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.)

Martin Luther King. jr. Tomb (Source: Panoramio.com)

Martin Luther King. jr. Tomb (Source: Panoramio.com)

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Six Qualities a Man in India Expects From His Wife


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A woman of worth is the crown of her husband,
but a disgraceful one is like rot in his bones.
- Proverbs 12:4

The presence of near and dear ones, reception parties – large or small, and honeymoons, etc., most certainly enhance the pleasures of the occasion and the joy of a wedding.

But what is the ultimate goal of a marriage from a man’s viewpoint?

Universally, all men wish for a perfect wife. But what does one mean by a “perfect wife”? What are the qualities needed to be an ideal spouse? Many women do not know about it though most of the qualities of a perfect wife are already built into them and develops as she grows up.

In India, Neeti Saara or Neeti Sastra is a popular collection of morals written by Baddena, a 13th century Telugu poet, believed to be a Chola prince named Bhadra Bhupala.

Baddena sums the six noble virtues an ideal wife should have in a verse as:

‘కార్యేషు దాసి, కరణేషు మంత్రి, భోజ్యేషు మాతా, రూపేచ లక్ష్మీ, శయనేషు రంభ, క్షమయా ధరిత్రీ… and so on.

 

‘Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Pathni’

Translation:

Karyeshu Dasi: work like a maidservant.

Karaneshu Mantri: advice like a minister.

Bhojeshu Mata: feed like a mother.

Shayaneshu Ramba: please in bed like Rambha.

Roopeshu Lakshmi: look beautiful like Goddess Lakshmi.

Kshmayeshu Dharitri: be patient like Earth.

Shat dharma yuktah Kula dharma Patni: A woman who has these six virtues is a good housewife.

Be a maidservant

Be a maidservant

Give advice ((Source: martofimages.com)

Give advice

Feed like a mother (Source: martofimages.com)

Feed like a mother

Please in bed.

Please in bed

Look beautiful like (Source: beautifullwallpapersfree.blogspot.in)

Look beautiful

Be patient (Source  - photogallery.indiatimes.com)

Be patient

In short, a good housewife should serve her husband like a maidservant; counsel him like a minister to deal with various problems that confront him; feed him like a mother; please him in bed as a courtesan like the heavenly seductress Rambha, unrivalled in the art of making love; maintain her beauty like Goddess Lakshmi; be patient and endure like Mother Earth.

This indeed is a tall order! I do not think any woman in the 21st century would qualify as a perfect wife by meeting these six criteria.

In this age of sex equality, the women argue that these verses were written by a man and so are chauvinistic. What will happen if a woman expects the following six qualities in a man?

Bhogeshu Raja: Rich like a king.

Vachaneshu Rama: Honest like Lord Rama.

Chaturasya Krishna: Intellectually smart like Lord Krishna.

Dhairyeshu Karna: Courageous like Karna.

Roopecha Indra: Handsome like Lord Indra.

Kaameshu Madana: Romantic like Madana Kamaraja.

Shatdharmayuktha manadharma Ramana: A man who has these six virtues is the dear husband.

Rich

Filthily Rich

Honest as Lord Rama

Honest

Intellectually smart like Lord Krishna

Intellectual

Courageous as Karna

Courageous

Handsome

Handsome

Romantic as Madhana

Romantic

If you are a man, do you think you can qualify as a perfect husband?

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