By Bhuvi M
Sometimes back I was discussing hobbies and interests with a recent acquaintance and spurt she came up “Gazing Stars”. This one phrase somersaulted me back to my growing up school days in a sleepy town. Putting my emotions at bay, I popped up with a few questions. What was so fascinating about it this activity? Was she able to identify a few stars and constellations? Was this activity just a fun or has some relevance too? She asked me, why was I asking so.
This is an activity best done in a small town, village or countryside where we get an opportunity to explore the sky in quiet darkness of night. Fun, imagination, learning, disaster management are all rolled into one activity. I recalled my childhood days spent in my hometown with frequent power cuts. Inverter yet to come into existence and generators not always available or practical; I got ample occasions to spend on the terrace and courtyard of our huge house.
Staring the starry sky with naked eye is quite a fun. My childhood brain had array of imaginations. At times the dark sky appeared to me as big bowl with stars as pearls scattered in it. Another moment it seemed as if it was God’s house decorated with twinkling lights and there was celebrations going on. He watched and safeguarded us from there. At yet another they were our ancestors who became stars and watched us each day. Still another stars of Saptarishi (The Great Bear or Ursa Major constellation) were seven sages of Hindu mythology transformed to permanency as stars in heaven by God. For me the sky was a synonym of heaven.
“Saptarishi” is formed from two words in Sanskrit; “Sapt” as seven and“Rishi” as sage and hence seven sages. The name of seven sages was told numerous times by my Grandparents. I could never remember all the names then. It was tough for a child’s brain to remember all these names and no exams were conducted on Hindu mythology. They were Attri, Bhardwaj, Gautam, Jamadagni, Kashyap, Vashishth & Vishwamitra. A small star, little less in brightness very close to one of these seven stars was sage Durvasa who was not included initially in the constellation because of his anger. (This is the story as told in my area and can’t be verified through scriptures) He was included as eighth one upon his request to God. Hence it shined less. Another version said, the eighth less shining star was Arundhati, wife of sage Vashishth. She was included in the constellation because of her virtues and was placed close to her husband. Pole Star or Dhruv Tara was Dhruv a little prince son of king Uttanpad. Little Dhruv was thrown out from his father’s lap by his stepmother Suruchi. Dhruv meditated hard to Lord Vishnu. He converted Dhruv to brightest star and gave a permanent lap and thrown in God’s kingdom. I understood that Dhruv tara or Pole star shined brightest in the sky only to realize later my learning was not right.
Continued at Dhruv Tara (Pole Star) & Me – Part 2