Peripheral Vision and the power of its blessings

Neurologists are studying the differences between stimuli from peripheral and central visions in the context of the bigger question "How does the brain respond to environmental stimuli which are not perceived consciously but which lead to moduled human behavior?". The brain, for example, is able to trigger certain changes in the nervous system in response to facial expressions even when a person's attention is not fully there. Unconsciously perceived fear in peripheral vision alerts the brain faster than fear presented in the central vision according to researchers at the university of Lyon, France. There must be something more to the vision from the corner of the eye than what we know now.

Poets who wrote devotional text from centuries ago acknowledged the power of the corner of the eye glance. Siddhars texts say that the divine mother showers her blessings through her corner of the eye glace. There is a special term for the sidelong look. It is called Kadaikann (கடைக்கண்) in Tamil. It equivalent term in Sanskrit is Kataakshaa (कटाक्ष). When we study the formation of this term, we can not but wonder if these poets were aware of neurological nuances of brain which relate to vision.

The word Kataaksha is a combination of Kata (to go) and Aksha (eye). This seems like a non-sensical combination. But is it? Physicians say that the loss of peripheral vision leads to "tunnel vision". A person experiencing tunnel vision loses the ability to sense motion and can not walk without crashing into things. The poets who coined the word "Kataaksha" must have sensed the close connection between peripheral vision and mobility (to go). Anyone who has read devotional poems immediately interprets the word "Kataaksha" as blessings. According to Siddhars, a liberated being sees the world as a part of his own self and as a reflection in his own heart. Everyhing maybe a perpheral vision stimuli to the brain in an altered state of consciousness. Scientists have a lot more to study about the meditative state of the brain.

Prahlada and Pantheism

Popular movies Star Wars, Avatar and The Matrix are based on a common theme. This theme can be traced back to the works of influential thinkers of the eighteenth century such as Goethe, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Whitman. Writers like Thoreau and Emerson who influenced early American political thought use this theme in their works. The roots of modern environmental movement too can be traced back to the reflection of the same idea in the works of Robinson Jeffers. Stanford Encylopedia calls this idea as "Pantheism" which is the general view that God is identical with the Cosmos.

Good and Evil are part of the cosmos. They are therefore automatically within God who maintains a balance between them. Devotion to God entails respecting rivers, plants, animals and the entire planet. Vedic texts from a distant past express these ideas lucidly. Did everyone believe in Pantheism during the time when these texts were written? A story from the Puranas, the story wing of Vedic literature, provides an interesting answer.

Long time ago, the worlds had just been created, a child was born in the family of evil doors. His name was Prahlada and he became inspired by Pantheism in an early age. He could not tolerate the cruelty of his father to other creature. Conflicts continued between the Emporer Hiranyakashipu and his son for sometime.

A day arrived when the father declared to Prahlada that Patheism is bogus. Prahlada expressed his confidence that God is present everywhere and affirmed that God resides in the pillar which stood right in front of them. The enraged father split the pillar open to prove to Prahlada that there is no God there. God appeared from the pillar taking a form which had not evolved in nature. God vanished after restablishing order between the good and the evil by taking the life of Hiranyakashipu. He installed Prahlada as the emporer.

Epigenetics and the birth of Duryodana

Purana and Itihasa texts convey knowlege in the form of stories. The latter is predominantly based on actual incidents. The Mahabharatha is one of the two well known Itihasa texts. In it we find the the story of the birth of hundred sons of queen Gandhari. Let us consider the incidence on which this story is based in the context of biology literature of today.

Queen Gandhari prematurely and forcefully delivered a hard ball of flesh in place of a hundred sons who were destined to be born as her sons. Sage Vyasa separated the ball of flesh into individual fetuses, each 1-2 inches long. Queen's servants placed the fetuses in a dark cool place in fluids within individual containers until they matured into offsprings. The queen had carried the fetuses for two years and it took another two more years for them to develop fully.

Multiple births have been increasing since 1970 with the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods. Pregancies of upto fifteen fetuses have resulted from IVF. But the chances of the survival of all fetuses is extremely poor past six fetuses. Over the years, physicians have developed and refined methods to prevent preterm deliveries. Betamemetics class of drugs are administered to delay preterm deliveries. Ancient medicine men and sages may have known about alternate ways.

The size of a fetus towards the second month, two years in the case of queen Gandhari, of pregnancy is 1-2 inches long. Cartilage is turning into bones by this time. Mahabharatha text describes the lump of flesh (māṁsapeśī) which the queen delivered to be an assembly of hard aṣṭhīla, a word which is formed by asthi+ la, meaning something resembling a bone.

Herbs likely prolonged Gandhari's pregnancy to allow each of the hundred fetuses to grow properly. We find comprehensive healthcare regiment for pregnant women in Ayurvedic texts. Rishis who wrote texts such as the Garbhopanishad (knowledge about the embryo) surely knew of ways to protect a preterm fetus into full maturity.

tāṁ māṁsapeśīṁ bhagavānsvayameva mahātapāḥ॥ 1-130-6(5773)śītābhiradbhirāsicya bhāgaṁ bhāgamakalpayat।yo yathā kalpito bhāgastaṁta dhātryā tathā nr̥pa॥ 1-130-7(5774)ghr̥tapūrṇeṣu kuṇḍeṣu ekaikaṁ prākṣipattadā।
kauravasyāparijñātaṁ yatnena mahatā svayam।udaraṁ ghātayāmāsa gāndhārī śokamūrchitā॥ 1-129-27(5705)tato jajñe māṁsapeśī lohāṣṭhīleva saṁhatā।dvivarṣasaṁbhr̥tā kukṣau tāmutsraṣṭuṁ pracakrame॥ 1-129-28(5706)

Jarayu - it is the cacoon!

The word "blastocyst" which is a combination of the greek words for sprout (blastos) and cavity (cystos) represents the first major milestone in the growth of a human embryo. The blastocyst can be compared to the seed of a plant. A seed contains a thin protective layer which a sampling sheds when it emerges. The outermost later of a blastocyst develops into a protective sac (chorion) in which a baby develops, A fully conscious individual being emerges as a babby from this sac.

The protective sac in which human or a mammal baby grows is called "Jarayu" in Sanskrit. Humans are Jarayu-Ja or born from the sac. Seers of ancient India, divided living beings into four categories based on the enviornment in which they mature before assuming their full individuality. Reptiles and birds are Anda-Ja as they are born from an egg or Anda. Plants are seed born or Ud-Bij-ja. Bacteria and the like are Sveda-ja; they detach from the skin of the parent like sweat.

There are higher order beings in the model of a conscious cosmos. Everyone today understands the idea of Earth being a living entity. A conscious being is associated with the Earth and other luminaries per Vedic tradition. These beings have an individual personality. Siddhar Agasthiyar calls these higher order beings as Jarayu-Ja also! Vedas say that the sac (Jarayu) in such cases is of the nature of clouds. Astronomers say that the Earth and other planets developed out of a large mass of dusty cloud swirling around a nascent Sun. Every star(Sun) in the universe developed from interstellar gas clouds. Associated units of consciousness incubated and began their individual journeys in a Jarayu!

Who blinked first?

The cornea of the eye is an interesting organ whose top layer forms as early as 5-6 weeks into gestation. Many consider the tear film next to the cornea to be an integral part of the cornea. It supplies oxygen to cornea which has no blood vessels. For a long time scientists therefore understood the eyeblink to be an occular lubrication mechanism. A spontaneous blink is more than that. For example, it provides the brain a "moment" of rest, according to a 2012 study. A spike is seen in the activity in certain regions of the brain during an eyeblink. These regions are associated with a state of restful awakeness during which the mind disengages from the outside world.

Is an eyeblink connected with meditative state of consciousness? It is likely, based on the fact that the dopamine, an important chemical in the brain, controls the rate of eyeblink. Adults blink fifteen times a minute where as infants blink 2-3 times a minute and some new borns blink as slow as once a minute. Acoording to Vedic literature a baby is in the meditative state of Samadhi in the womb. The brain of a new born does not seek moments of rest like an adult brain does. Puranas, a subset of Vedic literature, honor the consciousness behind eyeblink through an interesting story.

Great Kings and Royal sages had the ability to contact Devas or celestials in a different era. Vasishtha, the royal sage went to perform a Yagna for Indra, the king of Devas. King Nimi wanted to begin a Yagna during the same time but Vasishtha, his family priest, had asked him to wait. King Nimi was spiritually accomplished and understood the transcient nature of human existence. The foremost thought in his contemplation then was about the transcient nature of connection between consciousness and body. The power behind that idea nudged the king to start the Yagna right away, before the return of the royal priest.

Vasishtha was surprised upon seeing the Yagna of the king when he returned. A tinge of disappointment arose in Vasishtha's mind and transformed into negative omen for King Nimi. King Nimi dropped his body that very instant per the nature of the top most idea in his mind which had caused him to disobey his Guru. Priests who offiated the Yagna saw to the completion of the Yagna and prayed to celestials for the welfare of the virtuous king Nimi. King Nimi had sought enlightenment, however, the blessings of the priests and celestial had brought him eternal life at the domain of humans. Nimi choose to be the consciousness behind the eyeblink. Eyeblink is known as Nimi in memory of the great king Nimi. The duration of one eyeblink is called a Nimisha.

Human hearing and Prachetas

Scientists trace the origins of the tiniest bone in the human body which is an important part of the human auditory system to fish gills. Evolutionary biologists state that rudimentary ears were operational even during the transition from aquatic to terrestial lifestyle some 250 million years ago. Nature has continued to slowly refine the mammalian and the human ears over millions of years. The story is the same for the evolution of human sight. Human sensory system is a gift from nature's intelligence which per ancient Rishis is a part of cosmic consciousness.

Consciousness is an inseparable property of space per Vedic sciences. Diversity in creation is the play of consciousness. We can appreciate the idea of a primordial intention to project the perceptive ability of consciousness outwards if we trace back the origins of the human sensroy system to cosmic consciousness. This intention to externalize the power of perception is Prachina (priomordial) Barhis (platform) in the language of the Vedas. Prachetas is the collective name of divine beings who are the offsprings of Prachina-Barhis. We can correlate each Prachetas to the development of intelligence in nature which is behind the evolution of a corresponding sensory system.

Veda Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, wanted to keep the idea of Prachetas alive among the masses and he embedded hints about the nature of Prachetas by weaving them into interesting stories. Per one story, Prachetas who are ten in number are descendents of Prithu. a noble king who belonged to a different era. They found land to be filled with vegetation and giant trees when they came out of their meditation of a thousands of years under water. Brahma, the creator stopped them from destroying all of the forests when they tried to clear the land for cultivation. Daksha Prajapati, a key progenitor of human race who is known for his skills is a descendent of Prachetas. Skills diminish when sensory perception becomes weak!

A Rig Veda mantra praise Prachetas, the forces behind the sensory limbs of the mind, as the gatekeepers to the domain of the Super conscious being.
आ त्वा विशन्त्वाशवः सोमास इन्द्र गिर्वणः |
शं ते सन्तु प्रचेतसे ||

Enclosing Divinity in a Pebble

The nervous system enables a human being to realize the vastness of existence. Rishis and seers used the term "Narayana" to denote Consciousness which powers the nervous system. The term Vishnu is synonymus with the term Narayana because the term Vishu refers to the ability of the divine principle to expand in an unbound fashion. Rishis believed that there are ways to tap into the compassionate nature of the unbound cosmic consciousness. A story conveys the long standing nature of one such way by alluding to geological time scales.

Shangava, a Rishi, meditated upon Vishnu for a long time in the Himalayas. Huge mountains and tall trees which go by the name "Saal" (Shorea Robusta) or "Shala" dominate the views in the Himalayas. A desire arose in the mind of the Rishi after realizing the unbound nature of Vishnu. He wanted to offer worship to a physical representation of Vishnu which would embody two salient aspects of the surroundings, namely the benevolent Saal trees and the heafty mountains. Nature began to fulfill the wishes of the great Rishi. It fossilized the Saal trees during plate tectomic upheavals and prepared a path for a powerful river to etch the mountains over the eons. 

River Gandaki separates two of the highest peaks of the Himalayas today while creating the deepest Gorge in the world. The river has smoothened the fossilized remains of Saal trees into shiny pebbles, some big and some small. Shaligram is the name for the revered black pebbles found in the river. Two notable features of the Shaligram  are the tiny circular etchings on the surface and the pits. The Omnipresent Vishnu is persent everywhere but in a special way in the Shaligram stone. Devotees offer leaves of the Tulasi (sacred basil) plant while worshipping Vishnu as Shaligram in their homes.