Recent studies hint at possible links between the ancient civilization
of the Indus Valley and that of the Mayas of Mexico and Central
America. B. G. Siddharth, director of the B. M. Birla science
centre in Hyderabad, has pointed out striking similarities between
the two ancient cultures, although Mexico and India are situated
at opposite sides of the earth in longitude.
The experts took a deep interest in the calendars followed by
the two cultures. While the Indus Valley people followed a calendar
based on the movements of Jupiter, acknowledged to be the leader
of the gods, the Mayas followed one based on the movements of
Venus or Sukra, who, according to the Puranas, was the
leader of the Asuras.
Siddharth also pointed out that some carvings in Mexico depicted
an episode similar to that of the churning of the ocean by the
gods and the demons in Hindu mythology. The Mexican representations
of the tradition bore a striking resemblance to those found in
different parts of India. Dr. Ganpati, a Chennai-based expert
on ancient Hindu architecture, has also found similarities between
the design and construction methods used by the Mayas and the
Students of H.P.B.'s Isis Unveiled and The Secret
Doctrine well know that the Mayas had links with the Old World.
Their ceramics, fine arts and architecture, experts admit, compare
favourably to the Hindu and South Asiatic. And herein lies the
clue to understanding the "mystery" of the Mayas. In Chapter XIV
in Volume I of Isis Unveiled, there is ample discussion
of the origins of early American races. H.P.B. remarks in this
In order to institute a better comparison between the specimens
of prehistoric architecture to be found at the most opposite
points of the globe, we have but to point to the grandiose Hindu
ruins of Ellora in the Dekkan, the Mexican Chechen-Itza, in
Yucatan, and the still grander ruins of Copan in Guatemala.
They present such features of resemblance that it seems impossible
to escape the conviction that they were built by peoples moved
by the same religious ideas, and that had reached an equal level
of highest civilization in arts and sciences. (I, 561)
Without recognizing that there once existed a vast Atlantic continent
on which flourished a civilization which was the mother of all
the cultures of the ancient world, it is impossible for modern
archaeologists to arrive at the true explanation for similarities
in prehistoric architecture, and in customs and traditions. "America,"
H.P.B. writes in "A land of Mystery" (reprinted from The Theosophist
in THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT for May, June, July and August 1943),
"was once united with Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia." And
in The Secret Doctrine she states that "although certainly
coeval with Plato's Atlantis, the Mayas belonged to the Fifth
Continent, which was preceded by Atlantis and Lemuria" (II, 35
Over the years it has been generally accepted, even by physicians,
that people who suffer from all sorts of illnesses generally improve
when they get placebo treatment-inane pills or potions that the
patient believes are effective medication. Recently, however,
two researchers from the University of Copenhagen wrote in the
New England Journal of Medicine that "there is no justification
for the use of placebos" in medical practice. Since then, a debate
has been raging over the issue. No firm conclusion has yet been
arrived at by researchers except that placebos do much more for
some illnesses than for others. The placebo effect still remains
Experts like Irving Kirsch of the University of Connecticut argue
that the placebo effect is not unique in the psychology of expectation.
It may be one more example of a wide variety of situations in
which what we expect to happen is what actually happens.
The placebo response is described as "a non-verbal communication
between patient and doctor, the affective response to this relationship
being displaced on to the placebo. In other words, if the patient
feels that the doctor is helping him, he will respond to the placebo."
The substance prescribed is infused with a virtue not naturally
its own. The wise doctor knows that most people, when they are
ill, need reassurance and hope more than medicine.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said: "Each patient carries his own
doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We
are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each
patient a chance to go to work."
An instance of what human will and determination can accomplish
is provided by Ila Sachani, daughter of a farmer in Surat district
of Gujarat. Diagnosed with an irreversible congenital deformity
in her upper limbs, Ila, now 26 years old, learnt to cope with
the disadvantage from an early age. Her hands are mere appendages
on her body, but she seldom feels handicapped on their account.
At a young age, she was taught how to go about her daily grind
with the help of her legs. Things that people normally did with
their hands, Ila learnt to do with her lower limbs. She was soon
adept at using her feet for eating, combing her hair, dusting,
folding clothes, even chopping vegetables. (India Today,
What is even more intriguing, IIa, while still a little girl,
learnt to use her legs to paint and sew. The most intricate-and
at times discouraging -lesson was on threading a needle. It took
much perseverance, but her enthusiasm and determination to succeed
made matters easier. The effort paid off and by the time she was
10 she had not only mastered the highly intricate Kathiavad embroidery
typical of Saurashtra region but also styles from outside Gujarat
like Kachha, Lucknowi and kashmiri. Many awards, including the
President's Medal in December last year, have come her way.
Ila, and others like her (there is a worldwide institution of
foot-and-mouth-painting artists), are a living example to handicapped
people wherever they may be. It has truly been said: "Exertion
is greater than destiny."
Letting go of a grudge can have dramatic health benefits, studies
show; but forgiveness requires fortitude. It is about finding
a genuine way to respond with compassion to a person who has done
you a wrong. How can you forgive someone? Stop rehashing hurtful
events and harbouring ill feelings, suggest psychiatrists. (Health
and Nutrition, May 2002)
The following steps are suggested as a help to drop a grudge:
See it from the other side. Understand the factors that
may have shaped the other person's behaviour, and recognize
that there are times when we hurt others too. Empathy is the
gateway to forgiveness.
Acknowledge that no one can change the past. When you
stop expecting that the offender can take back a hurtful act,
you take responsibility for healing yourself. And don't expect
an apology or changed behaviour either, because forgiving doesn't
Wish him well. Find a small way to genuinely wish the
other person well. For example, you might say to yourself, "I
hope he gains control of his temper." This helps you replace
bitterness with a positive emotion.
Confucius said: "To the good I would be good; to the not good
I would also be good, in order to make them good." How many
are there today ready to live up to this sage advice?
According to psychiatrists in Mumbai, mental health in the city
is going from bad to worse. It is estimated that nearly 12 lakh
people here suffer from mental health problems and more and more
are seeking help. Statistics show that: one out of every three
people who go to a medical practitioner suffers from mental problems;
one out of every 10 children suffers from a mental disorder; two
out of every 10 suffer from depression.
Psychiatrists say that the ever-increasing workload and stress
levels in a fast-paced city like Mumbai are too much; or, maybe,
Mumbai's overcrowded, overpolluted physical conditions encroach
on a person's physical and emotional "space," leading to lower
thresholds of tolerance.
There are deeper causes of mental disturbances. There needs to
be a perception on the part of both doctors and patients of the
relation between philosophy of life and mental health, and of
the fact that man is something more than a thinking animal. The
recognition by medical men of something within each of us higher
than brain consciousness and transcending the narrow personality
would be a long step in the right direction.
How does one work toward the attitudes and behaviours which characterize
a mentally healthy person? Among the steps in the "working-towards"
process may be mentioned the taking of one's share of responsibility
in all spheres of life, and the saving of a little time for doing
something for others, especially for those who are in need of
help. The least one can do is to offer others his sincere interest.
Each one needs to remind himself that he can be important to his
fellow men, regardless of his position, title, wealth, or knowledge.
Life needs must be lived. One who has good mental health lives
it well, and one who lives it well has good mental health. One
who does not, hurts not only himself but also those around him.
One of the fundamental factors that shape the future citizens
is education. But the lessons that children learn in the classrooms
are far removed from the reality around them. What kind of education
should we give our children to enable them become better member
of society in later life? Purity (May 2002) offers these
Education should be a process of developing the spirit of rational
inquiry and self-discovery. Even where facts are taught, teachers
should facilitate children to inquire, explore, think and express
different viewpoints and discern the values of life….
Discipline is a value that is imbibed and maintained by the
self. Fear of reprimand or punishment is not the means to teach
discipline as it is enforced in schools. Children need to learn
from the beginning the value of self-discipline so that we may
not require so many law-enforcement systems to control the citizens.
Value education is a hot topic these days. Many schools teach
values as subjects, but values cannot be taught, they have to
be caught by the young minds from their environment and good
role models. When teachers fail to embody these values in their
behaviour it raises confusion about the ideal and the practical.
Education should be a means for getting in touch with our innate
values like love, happiness and truth so that we become strong,
balanced and constructive citizens. When we start educating
in this way, we can begin to hope for a better future.
Most Indians are familiar with the story of Tansen, who lit
up the lamps in Emperor Akbar's court with an evocative rendering
of Raag Deepak. Likewise, Raag Megh Malhar is reputed to invoke
The practice of using music as a healing influence is thousands
of years old. Dr. Anil Patil, an allopath who is also a practitioner
of alternative therapies, remarks, "Music therapy is a great
leveller in self-growth and understanding." Commenting on the
role of therapists, he says, "Music therapists assess emotional
well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication
abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses."
(The Times of India, May 31)
How does music therapy actually work? "My theory," says Dr.
Patil, "is that the body is made up of vibrations, which get
disturbed during illnesses. Eventually, only vibrations can
balance vibrations. So, along with ragas, I also use different
laya (beats) for each patient. A vilambit (slow)
beat works for a hyperactive person, while a dhrut (fast)
beat is more suitable for a dull person."
Music has the power to relax a person. As a result, it combats
tension and depression. "Consequently, the chances of such a
person suffering from acidity, diabetes or heart problems are
also greatly reduced," says another music therapy practitioner.
Belief in the healthful and curative properties of music is
not only ancient but almost universal. Theosophy abounds in
references to the power of music, which is an aspect of the
power of sound. H.P.B., who calls sound "the most potent
and effectual magic agent," writes:
Harmonious rhythm, a melody vibrating softly in the atmosphere,
creates a beneficent and sweet influence around, and acts
most powerfully on the psychological as well as physical natures
of every living thing on earth; it reacts even on inanimate
objects, for matter is still spirit in its essence, invisible
as it may seem to our grosser senses. (Isis Unveiled,
LIFE would be dull and colourless but for the obstacles that
we have to overcome and the fights that we have to win.