Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Mysore Mallige

The season of  festivals has already started and Dassara or Navaratri, the Nada Habba of Karnataka, is just a few days away.
Flowers form an integral part of the festivals and Dasara is no exception.
Bangalore and Mysore is home to a variety of flowers but one of the most common flower-on Gods, in houses, for decoration and also widely used by women is the jasmine, called Mallige in Kannada.
The Mallige has had a unique place in the history of the State. The Mysore Mallige (1942) is world famous and it is the subject of a beautiful collection of poems by the late K.S. Narasimha Swamy.
This work became so famous that he came to be known as Mallige Kavi (poet). It is considered to be one of the outstanding works of Kannada literature. And since its inception, it has seen 27 reprints.
The Mysore Mallige has inspired the movie by the same name made by T.S. Nagabharana and also a musical play by Kalagangothri.
The Mysore Mallige got the GI tag a few years ago. But what few know is that apart from Mysore, the Mallige has two other unique geographical cousins: the Udupi Mallige and Hadagali Mallige. All the three Mallige varieties have been patented and Karnataka is the only State to have a GI tag for all three varieties of jasmine.
The GI tag will enable the Horticulture Department which applied for and received the patent, to provide exclusive rights to the local community to cultivate these three crops and continue to grow them for 10 years and more.
Though all the three flowers are household names in Karnataka and known around the world, the Mysore variety is better known than the other two. The GI status helps protect its commercial interest too and lead to better research and development on them.
The Mysore Mallige, Udupi Mallige and Hadagali Mallige apart from Mysore yele or betel leaf and Nanjangud bale (a variety of banana were registered simultaneously under Intellectual Property Right (IPR).
The jasmine species apart from other flowers and fruits are grown in 411 horticulture farms of the State.
Coming back to jasmine, the nomenclature Mysore Mallige is so as it is mainly grown around Mysore and partly in Srirangapatna taluk in Mandya district. This jasmine leaves a lingering fragrance.
The Mallige grown in and Hadagali and Udupi are similarly known as Hadagali and Udupi Mallige.
Hadagali Mallige (Jasminum auriculatumVahl), locally known as “Vasane Mallige", is grown mainly in Hoovina Hadagali, Hospet and surrounding areas in Bellary district.
The Udupi Mallige (Jasminum sambac-L Aiton) is of recent origin and the first cultivation of this variety started in Shankarapura in Udupi district about 100 years ago. Therefore, it is also called as Shankarapura. This variety has demand in Mumbai, Goa, Nasik and other places. This has a longer shelf life and its bud remains for three to four days.
Whatever its variety, jasmine is considered by Indians to be the queen of flowers.It is called up different names in different states such as Mogra,  Chameli, Malli poo, Jaati, Mallige, Juhi, Mogra or Moonlight in the grove.
In Mysore, farmers grow jasmine in two crops. The Mysore Mallige has good demand in Kerala and Tamil Nadu apart from south Karnataka. The reasons why jasmine gives fragrance is due to the presence of  aromatic compounds Indol, Jasmone, Benzyl Acetate, Benzyl Benzoate, Methyl Anthranilate, Linalool and  Geraniol.
It is for this reason that jasmine is today widely used in perfumery, cosmetics, incense, aroma therapy and even Ayurveda. It is also used externally to soothe dry and sensitive skin.
The Hadagalli variety is unique as it grows on sandy red soil prevailing in this region. The dry weather and good water supply are needed to this variety which is mainly propagated through cuttings. It is planted directly in  July and August or at the onset of monsoon. The flowering season spreads up to six months.
The Udupi Mallige is rated to be more economically viable among all the three varieties. The laterite soil condition of the coast, high humidity and heavy rainfall (more than 2,500–3,000 mm or 98–120 inches per annum) makes it suitable for growing this crop. Propagation is mainly by cuttings. Here, the planting is done during August and September.
The Udupi variety is mainly used for garlands, especially at weddings and other auspicious occasions and for making garlands for worship of temples deities.
Jasmine is today being used for its medicinal value. Its medical  uses are as anti depressant, anti septic, anti Spasmodic, Aphrodisiac, sedative and uterine. Recent researches have found jasmine oil to jell very well with every floral scent and, hence, it is extensively used as an important perfumery item throughout the world.
Indole, which is found in the buds, is highly volatile. It is extracted from fully opened, freshly collected flowers during early morning.
Incidentally, this is one of the key scents in some of the most celebrated perfumes in the world viz., the Chanel No. 5, created by the legendary Coco Chanel and the famous “Joy” perfume, created by the French designer Jean Patou. A single ounce, still known as the costliest perfume in the world, contains 10,600 jasmine flowers.
Though India’s share in the international market for these flowers is still negligible, Karnataka has always led the nation. Today, it accounts for 75 per cent of India's total flower production. The State has the highest area under modern cut flowers and 40 flower growing and exporting units. The country's first and only flower auction centre is located in Bangalore, Karnataka.
The GI to these three varieties was given in 2008.
So when you want to grow jasmine in your house, check out the variety.  

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Dasa who began the tradition of singing at Tirumala while climbing

This incident occurred more than two hundred and fifty years ago. A group of Haridasas were climbing the hill at Tirumala to get a darshan of Lord Venkateshwara.
When one Haridasa said he was hungry, Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755) went away from the group to find some food.  He returned within minutes and offered food to the hungry Dasa who relished it.
A little while later, Vijaya Dasa, came to the group with food. When he offered food to the Dasa, he was stunned to be told that he himself had come sometime ago and given food. Both Vijaya Dasa and the Dasa who had been hungry and this was none other than Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi soon realised that the person who had offered food was none other than Lord Venkateshwara himself.
So overcome was Vijaya Dasa by this incident that he began singing the glory of Venkateshwara and Hari all through his journey to the top of the hill.
Vijaya Dasa continued singing even as he entered the sanctum sanctorum. He fell at the feet of Venkateshwara and burst into a song.
Vijaya Dasa continued to sing the glory of Venkateshawra even as he descended the hill. Today, the practice of singing  the Lord’s glory continues and the credit for starting this unique practice goes to Vijaya Dasa.
Vijaya Dasa wrote more than 25,000 compositions and it was he who led the second renaissance of the Haridasa movement in Karnataka.
A staunch devotee of Venkateshwara and Raghavendra Swamy, Vijaya Dasa went to Tirumala along with Jagannatha Dasa and other Dasas. He has written many songs on Srinivasa whom he lovingly called Venkatesha or Venkatachala and Tirupathi Thimappa.
A master of Suladis, he has written many in that genre on Venkatsha, including “Venkateshana yatri entado varunisalu”, “Venkatachala parvata mahime suladi”,   “ba ba baba bakutara hrudaya mandira”,  Saagi baraiah bhavarogada vaidyane, “Venkatesha mantra onde
By the way, “Saagi baarayya Bhavarogada vaidyane” was composed extempore and on the spot at Tirumala when the chariot carrying the idol of Venkatesha did not move. He had gone to Tirumala during Brahmotsava. Vijaya Dasa was meditating on the Lord even as the chariot was being prepared to take Venkatesha in a procession.
The chariot, however, could not be moved and it later transpired that As Vijaya Dasa was not present, Venkatesha did not want to move without him. This was revealed to the temple officials by a devotee who claimed that Venkatesha had come upon him and given him the reason for the chariot not moving.
The temple officials searched out Vijaya Dasa and brought him to the place where the chariot stood. The Dasa then sang “Saagi…” and the chariot began moving.
Today, chants of Govinda, Govinda and Srinivasa and Venkataramana are common when pilgrims and visitors climb the hill to reach Tirumala. Besides, the practice of saying the Lord’s name aloud when travelling originated from Vijaya Dasa. 
Now a days, thousands of  devotees from hundreds of bhajan groups from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala  participate in the Tirupathi Tirumala Padi Vizha (Steps Festival) where they would trek their way through the hills to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala.
The festival is called Padi Vizha and it is preceded by the singing of devotional songs by the bhajan groups near the Balaji Busstand at the foot of the hills in Tirupathi. The festival generally commence at Alipiri on the foot of the hills.
Women devotees adorn each step with saffron and turmeric and offer camphor ‘aarti’. The devotees would climb the steps leading to Tirumala, singing devotional songs all the way.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Flu vaccine to cure HIV

Does flu vaccine provide adequate and better protection for people with HIV. Yes, if the results of a study carried out in the United States is any indication.
A research study in the US has found that quadruple-dose flu vaccine for the elderly can be used for providing better protection for people with HIV.
The study was part of a programme to find out results of research involving high-dose vaccine injected into people who have compromised or reduced immune systems.
The team of researchers were from Philadelphia institutions and they are now asking a federal advisory committee in the US to recommend high-dose vaccination for HIV-positive people.
Incidentally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 2009 had licensed Fluzone High-Dose, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur in Swiftwater, Pa., for use in people aged 65 and older.
There was limited research on other groups, such as people with HIV.
The elderly and people with compromised immune systems account for the vast majority of the thousands of deaths from seasonal influenza in the US. Such people suffer from decreased immune levels and they are prone to severe complications. Such people also produce a weaker response to standard vaccine, making them more likely to catch flu.
The study found a higher dose of vaccine more immunogenic, and more surprisingly  the stronger immune response was found in people with HIV. This proved to be similar to that produced by older people with Fluzone High-Dose. It also matched the response in healthy younger adults to the standard vaccines.
Medical experts and researchers have been trying to devise ways to give better protection from the flu to people with HIV, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure and other diseases wherein treatment suppresses the immune system.
The Philadelphia study was led by Noah McKittrick, then at Penn and now at Thomas Jefferson University. It involved researchers at Penn and also at Drexel University.
Under the study, 190 HIV positive adults were enrolled at Penn's MacGregor Clinic during the 2010-11 flu season. The trials were conducted between October 27, 2010 to  March 27, 2011. Half the enrolled  got a high dose (60mcg); the other half the standard version of Fluzone (15 mcg of antigen per strain).
The high-dose group produced more antibodies than the standard group against all three influenza. Both groups had started the season with relatively high levels of protection.
More than 90 per cent of  high-dose group produced immune responses considered protective against each of the three strains. No serious adverse events or side effects were reported. An increase in minor reactions, such as pain at the injection site, was similar to that seen in the elderly.
Now the question is whether the vaccine will actually prevent the flu. This study actually measured the level of antibodies to protect against the flu - not the flu itself- and therefore studies on prevention would require more studies.
What were the actual results of the study.
In all, 195 participants had enrolled and of them 190 completed the study (93 in the standard-dose group and 97 in the high-dose group).
The seroprotection rates after vaccination were higher in the high-dose group for the H1N1 (96 per cent versus 87 percent treatment difference, 9 percentage points [95 per cent CI, 1 to 17 percentage points]; P = 0.029), H3N2 (96 per cent versus 92 per cent treatment difference, 3 percentage points [CI, -3 to 10 percentage points]; P = 0.32), and influenza B (91 per cent vs. 80 per cent  treatment difference, 11 percentage points [CI, 1 to 21 percentage points]; P = 0.030) strains. Both vaccines were well-tolerated, with myalgia (19 per cent), malaise (14 per cent, and local pain (10 per cent) the most frequent adverse events.
The main limitation of the study was that the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing clinical influenza was not evaluated. The number of participants with CD4 counts less than 0.200 × 109 cells/L was also limited.
Moreover, the objective of the study was to compare the immunogenicity of high-dose influenza vaccine with that of standard dosing in HIV-positive participants and the participants included those over 18 year of age who were HIV infected.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Killing the AIDS virus

Pulling a fast one is very common today but how about doing the same on a virus and that too for a disease which is today the most dreaded in the world.
This disease has been the scourge of the world and it is feared and despised in equal measure. As of now, it has no cure but researchers and doctors recommend a series of measures to lessen its impact and decrease its potency of causing harm.
Though it was initially diagnosed in 1986, it spread so quickly that it is more of a pandemic than an epidemic and it is widely prevalent in Africa, Asia and of course the United States.
Millions have died due to it and million more are suffering from it. Yet, no organisation or country has won the race for a cure though almost all countries and major pharmaceutical companies have funded research into it.
India too is a major victim of this dreaded disease and it was at one point of time thought to be so virulent that doctors and hospitals feared that millions would die. Thankfully that has not happened due to a variety of reasons and the diseases has been showing a decreasing trend.
Yet, India is also staggering affected by it and it is funding Ayurvedic research into it. It also has established an exclusive institute for research into the disease.
This is HIV/AIDS.
The disease is in the news now as researchers in the United States have come up with a synthetic molecule that can be injected into human beings. What is so great?, you may ask.
The molecule will dupe infected cells with AIDS virus in human beings and pull a fast one on them to kill themselves.      
The synthetic is DAVEI and it was developed by researchers at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, which also included an Indian.
DAVEI causes the deadly pathogen to eject its contents before it can infect other human cells.
How dos DAVEI do this?
The AIDS virus which is already present in a human cell uses protein spikes on its surface to fuse itself to healthy and uninfected cells.  Once attached, the microbe inserts its genetic material into the new cells and transforming them into a factory assembly line that throws out copies of  infected HIV cells.
Here is where DAVEI come in. It gets into the cell, hijacks the virus, mimics its interaction with immune system cells, binds itself to the pathogen's outer coat and triggers a firing mechanism that breaches the wall of the AIDS virus. This leads the infected cell to die without infecting other cells.
This is what researchers at the United States’ Drexel University achieved.
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Drexel’s College of Medicine was conducting research on HIV/AIDS and it came up with this study .
DAVEI ensures that the virus in the infected cells go out, believing that they are infecting other cells. Once they leak out, they die a natural death as they shrink and they have no new cell to multiply.
DAVEI was first designed by Cameron Abrams, a professor of Engineering at Drexel. He initially envisioned it as a synthetic agent in a microbicide, a cream or gel that women could use vaginally to protect themselves from contracting the disease from their HIV-infected partners.
 Now, the researchers say DAVEI can also possibly be used in the future as a treatment for those who are HIV positive by destroying infected cells.
However, this new discovery is just a beginning. Much more needs to be done before actual anti-HIV therapies could be developed.  An article on the synthetic or manmade molecule-DAVAI- was published in the October edition of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
DAVEI means Dual Action Virolytic Entry Inhibitor and this is the latest in a new generation of  treatments that specifically destroy the AIDS virus without harming healthy and uninfected cells
DAVEI can be called as a microbicide that can trick HIV into killing itself without disturbing healthy cells.
True, DAVEI is not the only molecule which has been discovered,. There are many others but DAVEI has high potency and it is more specific than others, claim the researchers who include Dr. Cameron Abrams, Dr Irwin Chaiken  and R.V Kalyan Sundaram.
They developed this chimeric recombinantly engineered protein -a molecule assembled from pieces of other molecules and engineered for a specific purpose- to fight HIV.
The researchers designed DAVEI from two main ingredients. One piece, called the Membrane Proximal External Region (MPER), is itself a small piece of the fusion machinery and it interacts strongly with viral membranes.
The other piece, called cyanovirin, binds itself to the sugar coating of the protein spike. Working in tandem, the MPER and cyanovirin in DAVEI tweak the fusion machinery so that it mimics the forces it feels when attached to a cell. Thus, the HIV is tricked into popping itself into oblivion. 
DAVEI is now programmed to pull a fast one on HIV. The initial tests and research was conducted after being invested and tested by scientists from Drexel’s College of Engineering; School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; and College of Medicine.
The research team was co-led by Abrams and Dr. Irwin Chaiken in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Drexel’s College of Medicine, and included Dr. Mark Contarino and doctoral students Arangassery Rosemary Bastian and R. V. Kalyana Sundaram.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Treating brain disorders without drugs

It was a fairly popular treatment for brain injuries in the West in the 1960s and it came to India only almost fifty years later.
The origin of this treatment goes back almost to ninety years when a German psychiatrist connected electrodes to a patient’s scalp and tries to measure the electrical waves.
The instrument used to measure the electric waves was a galvanometer. To him goes the credit of recording the first ever human EEG. The initial results of his experiment led the psychiatrist to carry out more research in the years to follow on electroencephalogram (EEGs).
The psychiatrist was Hans Berger (1873-1941) and he had carried out his experiment on electrodes on 1924. Subsequently, he published a series of papers on EEG between 1929 and 1934 and even today our knowledge on the middle frequencies is based on Berger and his research. He also invented the electroencephalogram.
Today, much of the facts that we know of middle frequencies in EEG is ascribed to Berger. His discoveries on EEG were first confirmed by British scientists Edgar Douglas Adrian and B. H. C. Matthews in 1934 and they also published some of his material in the magazine Brain.         
Many decades later, Joe Kamiya came up with what is today called neurofeedback therapy. He based this on his experiments on alpha brain wave that he had been conducting in the 1960s.
The results of these experiments were first published in Psychology Today in 1968.
Since then, neurofeedback became popular in the West and neurofeedback training (NFT) became a part of treating brain disorders. It was only in 2006 that this method of treatment came to India, thanks to NIMHANS.  
In NFT, an individual is made to modify the amplitude, frequency or coherence of the electrical activity. The patient is then taught to influence the electrical activity of their brain. Thus, an individual is helped to normalise the abnormal EEG frequencies.
The treatment has benefitted patients with traumatic brain injuries (mainly caused by accidents) and helped them regulate brain activity.
The treatment makes use of both EEG and o homoencephalography (HEG) to illustrate brain activity and teach self-regulation. EEG neurofeedback uses sensors that are placed on the scalp to measure brain waves, while HEG neurofeedback uses infrared (IR) sensors to measure brain blood flow. This leads to a signal which can be used for self regulation.
Now, neurofeedback is taking a second look at deep states. Alpha-theta training has been used in the treatment of alcoholism and anxiety.
NIMHANS now conducts regular neurofeedback sessions to treat a wide array of brain disorders. It has even used this system for treating patients who have suffered road accidents and have brain injuries.  
NIMAHS is also using neurofeedback in patients suffering from stroke and autistic children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
One of the major advantages of this system is that the patient does not have to take any medicines, which generally have side effects.  It can be used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS), asthma, constipation, drug addiction, headaches, Arthritis, attention deficit disorder/ hyperactivity disorder, non-cardiac chest pain, hypertension, insomnia,  low back pain, knee pain and even breathing problems, urinary elimination disorders.
Though NIMHANS says the system has worked successfully, other neurologists say deep brain stimulation in which a pacemaker is implanted in a brain, is one of the most advanced treatments. It has been found to be more effective in treating Parkinson's disease and it also substantially reduces the need for drugs.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A seer who always stood his ground

He is regarded as one of the outstanding Madhwa seers of the twentieth century. A renowned scholar, he has to his credit more than a hundred Shishyas or disciples, each of whom made a name for themselves as writers, scholars, philosophers, religious heads and men of eminence.
Many of his disciples also ended up heading different Madhwa mathas. After taking Sanyasa, the seer donated his entire property to the Matha that he was chosen to head.
He was termed as “Rakshasha Dwaitha Pandita” or a man who put forth Dwaitha philosophy vociferously. His opponents feared to take him on and saw in him a lion hungry for a meal. Here, the meal was an argument and many who tried to take him on never could sustain the arguments, tenor and wit of the seer. They saw in him a demon with a voracious appetite for devouring all those who took up the cause of  Adwaitha and other shastras.
He is also perhaps the only Madhwa saint of the twentieth century with the maximum number of books written on him and his achievements.
He is also the sole saint, Madhwa or otherwise, to have taken on one of India’s finest Freedom fighters and the architect of the Swaraj movement, Balagangadhar Tilak, and made him accept Madhwacharya’s interpretation in a debate on the Bhagavatha Geeta.
What is more Tilak called the Madhwa seer to his home where he welcomed him with all religious rituals. Tilak also wore a tilaka on his forehead as a mark of  respect to the seer and a Marathi newspaper carried the news item along with a photograph saying. ““Tilakani Kalirekha Angara Akshata Odhali, ”  meaning Tilak has applied Angara and Akshata.
Even today, newspaper reports of the debate that the seer had with Tilak and Tilak gracefully accepting the seer’s interpretation of the Geeta, can be seen in the archives.
This seer is none other than Satyanadhyana Theertha, the pontiff of the Uttaradi Matha  from 1911 to 1942.     
Born in 1872 in Chikodi in Belgaum district, the seer in his poorvashrama days was known as Sethuramacharya Korlahalli. His father was Jayaramacharya, who later became Satyadheera Theerta who headed the Uttradi Matha. His mother was Krishna Bai and his wife Savitri Bai.
His ashrama gurugalu was Satyajnaana Theertha and the Ashrama Shishya was Satyaprajna Theertha. He was the Vidyagurugalu for his ashrama guru-Satyajnaana Theertha.
Even in his young age, he demonstrated a remarkable talent for leaning and debating. He learnt from several gurus and this stood him in good steed. He learnt Nyayashastra from Sri Ramacharya Rangampet of Surpur or Shorapur, Nyayasudha from Satyadheera Theertha and from Sridharacharya Talwalkar he learnt  Nyayamruta, Tarangini, Chandrika.
He served as Diwan of Uttaradi Matha and also began preaching and giving discouses. Some of his notable disciples who went on to head Madhwa mathas are: Vidyamanya Tirtharu of Bandarakeri Matha, Lakshmeendra Theertha of Shiroor Matha, Raghukantha Theertha of Akshobhya Teertha Matha, Lakshmeesha Theertha of Kundapura Vyasaraja Matha, Raghudaanta Theertha of Tankaswali Matha, Vidyasindhu Theertha of Subramanya Matha, Satyaprajna Theertha and Satyabhijna Theertha of Uttaradi Matha and Pradyumna Theertha of Sagarakatte Matha.
Others include Goswami Gokulnathaji Maharajaru of Jagadguru Vallabhacharya Peeta and Raghuveera Theertha of Akshobya Teertha Matha. Some eminent scholars like BNK Sharma, Pandurangi Jayacharya, Jalihal Srinivasachar, Chaturvedi Ramachandracharya, Mahuli Gopalacharya, Varkhedi Narasimhacharya, Adya Tatacharya, Doddaballapura Vasudevacharya and Yelemeli Vasudevacharya among others learnt from him.
One of his shishyas, Kinhal Gangur Jayacharya, became the Uttaradi Matha head and it is he who gave him Deekshe and nominated him to the Uttaradhi Matha pontificate. Another Shishya of his, Pandurangi Jayacharya, later took over from his as  Satyapragnya Theertha.
Among the scholars who he prepared were: Malagi Vedavyasachar, Yagna Vitthalachar, Chincholi Krishnachar, Varkhedi Pradumnacharya, Varkhedi Narasimhacharya
Subbannacharya Galgali, Kurmacharya Galagali, Ramacharya Galagali, Muddacharya Galagali, Venkannacharya Galagali
Hulagi Hucchacharya, Mahuli Gopalacharya, Valkonda Narasimhacharya, Kolhapur Rangacharya, Rangacharya Korlahalli
Munji Lakshmanacharya, Katte Srinivasacharya, Udupi
Inna Krishnacharya, Seetharamacharya Udupi, Kashi Krishnacharya, Guntur Markapuram Padmanabhacharya.
Markapuram Srinivasacharya, Malagi Venkannacharya,
Malagi Krishnacharya, Bojji Srinivasacharya, Galagali Madhavacharya, Agnihotri Srinivasacharya, Agnihotri Hanumanthacharya, Praktooru Bhimacharya, Katti Gururajacharya Koppal, Doddaballapur Vasudevacharya, Hosahalli Narayanacharya, Pandurangi Gururajacharya, Gangur Gopalacharya, Gangur Jalihal Ramacharya, Alampalli Narayanacharya, Gangur Seetharamacharya, Veeracholapuram Krishnacharya, Vattangadu Ramacharya, Vattangadu Ranganathacharya, Kumpanipuram Ramacharya, N.Desikacharya,
H.Subba Rao,  Dr.R.Nagaraja Sarma, Raghavacharya Javali
Yalameli Vitthalacharya, Karpur Srinivasacharya, Galagali Annayyacharya, Jalihal Srinivasacharya, Galagali Narayanacharya
Galagali Shukacharya, Kolli Ramacharya, Bhimsenacharya Korlahalli, Dambal Anantashayanacharya, Umapuram Venjatagiri Acharya, Chaturvedi Ramachandracharya, Dadacharya Kale,
Venjannacharya Chincholi, Yelmeli Vasudevacharya, Dharapuram Krishnamurthyacharya, Korlahalli Krishnacharya, Gangur Hanumanthacharya, Raddi Rangacharya, Belubbi Annayyacharya
Shivanagi Vittalacharya, Belagundi Padmanabhacharya, Sriranga Madhavacharya, P.P Lakshmi Narayana Upadhyaya, Bojji Krishnacharya, Harti Venkobacharya, Kapusubbaraya Puranik
Adya Tatacharya, Panghri Tatacharya, Toravi Krishnamurthyacharya, Sheeranahalli Bhodharajacharya
Kashi Sripadacharya, Hunasigi Ramacharya, Umarji Narasimhacharya, Galgali Krishnacharya, Sonni Krishnacharya
Guttal Rangacharya, Dwaipayana Srinivasacharya, Katti Keshavacharya and many others.
Satyadhyana Theertha converted many scholars and respectable persons from other mathas to Dwaitha. Some of them include M. R. Sharma, Sowkar Ramanna, H. Subbarao and  V N Deshikacharya.
A staunch defender of Dwaitha Siddantha, he once took on Ramasubba Sastry of Kumbakonam for writing a book in which he had condemned Chandrika of Vyasaraja Theertha. Ramasubba Sastry had named the book Chandrika Khandanam. He had sent a copy of the book to Satyadhyana Theertha, who went through the book, and almost immediately started writing a Khandana.
The seer than called his book Chandrika Mandanam and sent a copy to Ramasubba Sastry who, however, did not reply. The seer then invited Sastry for a debate but when he refused, the seer called for a sabha at Tiruchanoor where he released the Chandrika Mandanam.  
He then went to Mysore and openly said “Adwaita matha is avaidhika.” He further said that the Adwaitha Matha is not supported by any Vedas. The Adwaitees called a sabha and condemned this statement but none of them dared to take on the seer in a debate.
 Meanwhile, Satyadhyana Theertha had defeated Chandrashekara Bhatta, an Adwait scholar on his journey to Kashi. In Madras, he overcame Mahamahopadyaya Harishastri and in Kumbakonam, he defeated Sheshacharya, an Vishishastadwaita scholar on the topic “Whether there is taratamya in Mukthi also.”  
However, the seer’s most famous debate was with Balagangadhar Tilak over Geetha Bhashya.  When Tilak was in jail, he happened to read the Geetha. He expressed displeasure over the Geetha Bhashya of Madhwacharya and this was contained in his book, “Geetha Rahasyam.
When this was brought to the notice of Satyadhya Theertha, he called Tilak for a debate. Tilak, on his part, agreed to meet the seer at Chickodi.  The debate went on for three days and the seer not only managed to convince Tilak about Madhwacharya’s stand but also about the Dwaitha interpretation.
Tilak gracefully accepted the greatness of  Madhwacharya and the truth of Madhwa Siddanta. is great.  The April 17, 1917 issue of Kesari, the newspaper, published by Tilak, carried a detailed report of this meeting.
When Tilak arranged a bhiksha for the seer at Tulasi Bagh in Pune, he had applied Angara Akshata on his forehead. This was reported in Bhopatkar’s Bhala newspaper.
He has written several books, most of which are available. He entered Brindavana in 1942 in Pandrapur

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Fishing for blood clots

Nets are generally used by fishermen to catch fishes. But can you imagine a net to retrieve blood clots from a human body.  What is more, these are clots or thrombi that have formed due to stroke and they have stopped the supply of oxygen and blood to the brain, causing paralysis.
Such nets are now being used regularly in the United States to get to the blood clots and remove them from the brain of patients who had suffered a stroke or have had a series of strokes.
Generally, upwards of four strokes occur in a human being when blood clots block a blood vessel from carrying blood to the brain. When the clot stops the flow of blood, the brain is starved of oxygen and glucose and the cells die by millions, damaging the tissues (infarcts) leading to paralysis and in some cases even death.
Till now, the clots were removed or dissolved with the help of drugs. The drug, rt-PA, is almost fully effective if administered to victims within three hours of a stroke felling them. Unfortunately, it fails to dissolve large blood clots.
Doctors also use anticoagulants, which are popularly known as blood thinners, to treat clots. These medications- heparin, low molecular weight heparin, and warfarin-slow the time it takes for blood to clot and also prevent growth of a clot. However, all of them have side effects.
Other techniques to remove a clot include MERCI Retrieval System, which can be used at any time. This is a minimally invasive catheter-based system to retrieve and remove clots in patients experiencing acute ischemic stroke. The catheter is inserted into the brain to remove the clot. Another option is the Penumbra System, but this can be used only within eight hours of a patient suffering a stroke. Here, suction is used to remove the clots and restore blood flow.
Now, a team of doctors and researchers in the US have successfully tested a new technique to remove clots. They have used small nets to get to the place where the clot has formed. The net is sent to the brain through an artery in the leg.
When the net reaches the clot, the tip expands into a net and pulls out the clot into itself.
The device has been named as Solitaire and it has so far yielded promising results in a recent medical trial at the University of California, Los Angeles. This devise is different from the MERCI and its success too is double of MERCI.
Researchers were stunned to find that when MERCI was used, 598 per cent of the patients reported improved mental and motor functioning within a three month period. This compared well with those treated with MERCI (33 per cent).
More importantly, only 17 per cent of those treated with Solitaire died following treatment compared to 38 per cent treated with the MERCI.
Another study involving 178 patients showed those  treated with Solitaire had almost double the chance of living independently after treatment.
Why this success rate?. One reason is that it has allowed doctors to  successfully open up arteries and save the brain. What makes this device all the more valuable to a patient suffering from stroke is that it has been proved to effectively reverse a stroke even while it is happening.
This is because the brain cells can survive if blood supply can be restored quickly. This is what Solitaire can do.
Moreover, it is always advisable to use clot retrieval devices than go in for clot dissolving drugs.
By the way, the Solitaire was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a clot retriever in March 2012. This is actually called Covidien Solitaire FR Revascularization Device.
Dissolving blood clots
By the way, a John Hopkins study in the US has come up with a new technique to dissolve blood clots in brain and also lower the risk of brain damage after stroke.
The research is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke
The technique which involves minimally invasive treatment   removes potentially lethal blood clots in the brain safely without cutting through easily damaged brain tissue or removing large pieces of skull.
More importantly, this technique was particularly successful in treating victims of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), which is considered to be the last  untreatable form of stroke.
ICH is caused by high blood pressure and in such cases the clot builds up pressure and leaches inflammatory chemicals. This leads to irreversible brain damage, causing death or extreme disability. Very few undergo the more invasive and risky craniotomy surgery, which involves removing a portion of the skull and making incisions through healthy brain tissue to reach and remove the clot. Roughly 50 percent of people who suffer an intracerebral hemorrhage die from it.
This new technique, if found positive, allows patients with stroke and paralysis to recover independent functioning of the organs that had been affected. The USP in this technique is that the brain remains safe and only a small hole the size of a coin is made in the skull to get to the damaged tissue which is then treated with rt-PA which is allowed to drip on the damaged cells.  

Friday, 13 September 2013

The irreversible stroke

What happens when you have a stroke and why is the damage to the brain extensive or irreversible..
Here are some answers.
A stroke is a medical condition where the brain cells suddenly die because of a lack of oxygen. The cells die a natural death when there is an obstruction in the blood flow or a rupture of an artery that feeds blood to the brain.
The average human brain generally weighs three pounds or 1.35 kilograms and it contains anything between 10 billion to 100 billion neurons and even a larger count of glial cells.
When a person is affected by stroke, close to two million cells die  and the person may suddenly lose the ability to speak, think or walk, talk. There may also be memory problems or one or two sides  of the body can become paralyzed.
The blocked cell form a clot and it is this clot that stops circulation of blood to the tissue in the brain, leading to neurological damages. The stoppage in the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain is a deadly Natural act which requires to be reversed if the damage is to be undone or lessened.
An unfortunate fallout of a stroke is paralysis and this kills lakhs of people all over the world. In US alone, paralysis in stroke victims kills one and a half million or thereabouts every year.
There is some good news though. Half the victims of stroke do survive with varying and often deteriorating degree of paralysis.
A stroke in nothing but a brain attack. Just as there is a heart attack, there is also a brain attack and this is called stroke which is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 20 million people each year will suffer from stroke and of these five million will not survive.  In developed countries, stroke is the first leading cause for disability, second leading cause of dementia and third leading cause of death. By 2015, India will report 1.6 million cases of stroke annually, at least one-third of whom will be disabled.
Stroke is also classified as a major cause for loss of life, limbs and speech in India, with the Indian Council of Medical Research estimating that in 2004, there were 9.3 lakh cases of stroke and 6.4 lakh deaths due to stroke in India. What is tragic is that most of these people are 45 years old or less.
The World Health organization says  by 2050, nearly 80 per cent  stroke cases in the world would occur in low and middle income countries including India China and Brazil.
This is the main reason why India has now come out with national guidelines for stroke management. This guideline has been Prepared by Dr Kameshwar Prasad, director of the clinical epidemiology unit of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, doctors from Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, Command Hospital in Lucknow and PGI in Chandigarh.
The guidelines are fairly comprehensive and they cover the management of stroke from onset to chronic care.
Stroke has a propensity for people with high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood fat, which is also called as cholesterol. What makes Indians more vulnerable to stroke is that 16 per cent or more above 20 years of age suffer from high blood pressure (BP). Shockingly, Fifty per cent of those with high BP are not even aware of it. Of those who are aware, only 50 per cent take measures to control it, and even among those only 50 per cent  are adequately controlled. This, means just about 12.5 per cent of patients with high BP are adequately controlled against stroke.
The guidelines make it mandatory for hospitals to set up a Acute Stroke Team, written care protocols for such patients and an emergency department whose personnel should be trained to diagnose and treat all types of stroke.
Early and timely diagnosis of stroke can help in a large way in the treatment and further spread or deterioration of paralysis.
The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, has done far reaching studies on several aspects of neurological disorders, stroke, brain related diseases and other related aspects. More about them in the coming posts.
(The next post is on a net to fish blood clots and thus reverse brain damage and paralysis).

An institute for AIDS research

India is one of the countries world that is affected by HIV/AIDS. Though recent surveys have indicted that the number of HIV/AIDS cases have come down, the country is still home to millions of people suffering from this pandemic.
While there is enough literature on HIV/AIDS and also a variety of treatments available, a common man still harbours a great deal of misconceptions about it. Similarly, very few are also aware that there is a research institute that is exclusively devoted to research on HIV/AIDS and that it has been doing yeomen service since its inception.
This is the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), which was established in October 1992 in Bhosari, Pune on a seven acre plot.
An Institute devoted exclusively to HIV/ AIDS that could undertake research of such a diversity and magnitude was established to meet this requirement.
Over the years the institute has expanded its activities in various aspects of research on HIV and AIDS and also collaborated with other national and international agencies and organizations in the field.
The activities of NARI are supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research and other agencies. Its research activities are guided by a scientific advisory committee which comprises among others of eminent scientists from different disciplines.
Because of the sensitive nature of research and ethics, all research projects are reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee which ensures that any research is conducted with highest ethical standards.
The main objective of the institute is to control spread of  HIV and to provide care to HIV infected population. The care includes  treatment and vaccine. NARI itself runs seven clinics in different parts of  Pune city which provides varied services such as voluntary counseling, testing centers and care and support.
The institute has eight divisions, including Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Serology and Immunology, Clinical Sciences, Molecular Virology, Microbiology, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Library and Documentation and Administration.
Currently NARI has a permanent staff strength of 60 with additional personnel for specific projects.
It collaborates with Johns Hopkins University, USA, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease ,USA, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Family Health International. At the national level, the institute has a sound working collaboration with National AIDS Control Organization, New Delhi and Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi.
NARI has set up a cohort of HIV seronegative persons so that it can collect information on the spread of HIV, the rate of infection and role of other diseases such as herpes simplex, virus 2 and syphilis. 
NARI also has the distinction of  having conducted India's first HIV vaccine trial. It also carried out clinical trials for anti-HIV drugs under international regulatory requirements. The institute has a separate center for carrying this trial which  provides treatment to HIV infected through National ARV roll out programme.
The institute has also taken up studies on what it calls women controlled methods for prevention of HIV.
Apart from NARI, there are several other institutes that are currently engaged in research on HIV/AIDs and its prevention and cure.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A new tablet for HIV/AIDS

Today, the field of medicine is a vast one and almost all sectors therein are witnessing rapid research and development.
One of the most dreaded diseases in recent years in the medical field which has posed a challenge to nations, R and D organizations and to the field of medicine has been HIV/AIDS. There has been constant research by several organisations, multinationals and even countries who are in a race to find a cure for this disease.  
India is one of the few countries that has a separate institute to work on a cure for this epidemic. On the other hand, the private sector in the United States is leading the research in this field.
A few weeks ago, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug to fight HIV/AIDS. The new drug is currently available in the US and it should be in the Indian market any time. This is one of the drugs that are being tested on people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
This drug is called Tivicay and it is currently manufactured under licence by GlaxoSmithKline.
It is used to treat the most common strain of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is also known as dolutegravir and it is generic drug. It acts as integrase inhibitors: it blocks the HIV virus from entering cells.
Tivicay, as of now, is owned by ViiV Healthcare, an HIV joint venture between GSK, Pfizer Inc and Shionogi & Co Ltd.
US researchers say Tivicay (50mg) can be used to treat infected adults who have been treated or are being treated with other drugs or are new to treatment.
Tivicay is an integrase strand transfer inhibitor that interferes with one of the enzymes necessary for HIV to multiply. It is a pill taken daily in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.
Researchs in US says Tivicay is approved for use in a broad population of HIV-infected patients. It can be used to treat HIV-infected adults who have never taken HIV therapy (treatment-naïve) and HIV-infected adults who have previously taken HIV therapy (treatment-experienced). This also includes those who have been treated with other integrase strand transfer inhibitors.
Tivicay is also approved for children ages 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kilograms (kg) who are treatment-naïve or treatment-experienced but have not previously taken other integrase strand transfer inhibitors.
It is available as a small, yellow, 50-mg tablet. Importantly, it can be taken with or without food and at any time of the day. Tivicay is now available in pharmacies in the US.
Coming back to the disease, HIV/AIDS occur due to a variety of reasons. It is important for a doctor who treats such patients to zero in on the cause and if you happen to know the cause, you would be doing yourself a favour by revealing it.
In Bangalore, all Government hospitals such as KC General, Bowring and Victoria Hospitals in Bangalore have HIV/AIDS cells. These hospitals have opened Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres mainly for providing Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).
The ART is best understood when you visit one of the centres. By the way, eating nutritious food is an important factor when undergoing ART.
The Karnataka Government has provided certain facilities for HIV/AIDS patients for patients undergoing ART, including subsidized travel and treatment.
The Department of Health and Family Welfare and Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society (KSAPS) first inaugurated this facility in Bangalore. Besides, the Government last year opened  the ID NAT (Individual Donor Nuclic Acid Testing) facility at K C General Hospital in Malleswaram.
Under this scheme, the Government will give 80 paisa per kilometer to HIV+ patients. The patients can reimburse the amount from the government. Patients from urban areas will be paid Rs. 20 to travel one way for ART treatment. In case they spend more than Rs. 20 then the government will reimburse at the rate of 80 paisa per kilometer. A maximum of Rs. 100 will be paid for patients travelling from outside the district  and the procedure of reimbursement will be monitored by a nodal officer.
The ART consists of at least three anti-retroviral drugs to suppress the HIV virus and so far this has been found to be the most effective allopathic treatment. These drugs are being distributed free.
The government also offers treatment for tuberculosis (TB) - one of the deadly opportunistic infections suffered by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and even this is free of cost.
However, free ART and TB medicine do not alone complete HIV treatment. With immunity levels dipping constantly and with new stains being discovered, the infected people need regular and constant medical attention. Besides, recurring infections like herpes and diarrhea could call for regular hospitalisation.
As written earlier, a combination of drugs can be used to control the virus. Each of the classes of anti-HIV drugs blocks the virus in different ways. It is best to combine at least three drugs from two different classes to avoid creating strains of HIV that are immune to single drugs. The classes of anti-HIV drugs include:
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). The NNRTIs disable a protein needed by HIV or virus to make copies of itself. Examples include efavirenz (Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence) and nevirapine (Viramune).
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs are faulty versions of building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include Abacavir (Ziagen), and the combination drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir (Truvada), and lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir).
Protease inhibitors (PIs). PIs disable protease, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir (Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva) and ritonavir (Norvir).
Entry or fusion inhibitors. These drugs block HIV's entry into CD4 cells. Examples include enfuvirtide (Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
Integrase inhibitors. Raltegravir (Isentress) works by disabling integrase, a protein that HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 cells.
This treatment should begin if you have or are having Your CD4 count under 500: You have HIV-related kidney disease: You're being treated for hepatitis B.
HIV treatment regimens can involve multiple pills at specific times every day. The side effects can include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, abnormal heartbeats, shortness of breath, skin rash, weakened bones, bone death, particularly in the hip joints.
Please remember that some health issues are a natural part of aging and that they may be more difficult to manage if you have HIV. Some medications that are common for age-related cardiovascular, metabolic and bone conditions, for example, may not interact well with anti-HIV medications. Talk to your doctor, family doctor if you have one, about other conditions you're receiving medication for. There are also known interactions between anti-HIV drugs and:Contraceptives and hormones for women: Medications for the treatment of tuberculosis and Drugs to treat hepatitis C
Once the ART commences, your response is measured by your viral load and CD4 counts. Viral load should be tested at the start of treatment and then at regular intervals-say every three to four months during therapy. CD4 counts should be checked every three to six months.
HIV treatment should reduce your viral load to the point that I becomes undetectable. Mind you, this does not mean that HIV has vanished. It just means that the test is not sensitive enough to detect it or the low levels. Yet, you can still transmit HIV to others when your viral load is undetectable.
In India HIV is most commonly diagnosed by testing your blood or saliva for the presence of antibodies to the virus. Unfortunately, these types of HIV tests are not fully accurate immediately after infection because it takes time for your body to develop these antibodies — usually up to 12 weeks. In rare cases, it can take up to six months for an HIV antibody test to become positive.
A newer type of test checks for HIV antigen, a protein produced by the virus immediately after infection. This test can confirm a diagnosis within days of infection. An earlier diagnosis may prompt people to take extra precautions to prevent transmission of the virus to others. There is also increasing evidence that early treatment may be of benefit.
If you receive a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, several types of tests can help your doctor determine what stage of the disease you have. These tests include:
CD4 count. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that's specifically targeted and destroyed by HIV. A healthy person's CD4 count can vary from 500 to more than 1,000. Even if a person has no symptoms, HIV infection progresses to AIDS when his or her CD4 count becomes less than 200.
Viral load: This test measures the amount of virus in your blood. Studies have shown that people with higher viral loads generally fare more poorly than do those with a lower viral load.
Drug resistance: This blood test determines whether the strain of HIV you have will be resistant to certain anti-HIV medications and the ones that may work better.
Tests for complications:
Your doctor might also order lab tests to check for other infections or complications, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, toxoplasmosis
Sexually transmitted infections, liver or kidney damage and or
urinary tract infection
In resource-poor nations like India and in the continent of Africa, TB is the most common infection associated with HIV and a leading cause of death among people living with AIDS. Millions of people are currently infected with both HIV and tuberculosis, and many experts consider the two diseases twin epidemics.
Salmonellosis: You contract this bacterial infection from contaminated food or water. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal pain and, occasionally, vomiting. Although anyone exposed to salmonella bacteria can become sick, salmonellosis is far more common in people who are HIV-positive.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV): This common herpes virus is transmitted in body fluids such as saliva, blood, urine, semen and breast milk. A healthy immune system inactivates the virus, and it remains dormant in your body. If your immune system weakens, the virus resurfaces — causing damage to your eyes, digestive tract, lungs or other organs.
Candidiasis: Candidiasis is a common HIV-related infection. It causes inflammation and a thick white coating on the mucous membrane of  mouth, tongue, esophagus or vagina. Children may have especially severe symptoms in the mouth or esophagus, which can make eating rather painful and difficult.
Cryptococcal meningitis: Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Cryptococcal meningitis is a common central nervous system infection associated with HIV, caused by a fungus that is present in soil. It may also be associated with bird or bat droppings.
Toxoplasmosis: This potentially deadly infection is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite spread primarily by cats. Infected cats pass the parasite in their stools, and the parasites may then spread to other animals.
Cryptosporidiosis: This infection is caused by an intestinal parasite that's commonly found in animals. You contract cryptosporidiosis when you ingest contaminated food or water. The parasite grows in your intestines and bile ducts, leading to severe, chronic diarrhea in people with AIDS.
Cancers common to HIV/AIDS
Kaposi's sarcoma: This is a tumor of the blood vessel walls. Although rare in people not infected with HIV, it's common in HIV-positive people. Kaposi's sarcoma usually appears as pink, red or purple lesions on the skin and mouth. In people with darker skin, the lesions may look dark brown or black. Kaposi's sarcoma can also affect the internal organs, including the digestive tract and lungs.
Lymphomas: As the name itself suggests, this type of cancer originates in your white blood cells. Lymphomas usually begin in your lymph nodes. The most common early sign is painless swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin.
Other complications
Wasting syndrome. Aggressive treatment regimens have reduced the number of cases of wasting syndrome, but it does still affect many people with AIDS. It is defined as a loss of at least 10 percent of body weight and is often accompanied by diarrhea, chronic weakness and fever.
Neurological complications. Although AIDS doesn't appear to infect the nerve cells, it can still cause neurological symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, depression, anxiety and trouble walking. One of the most common neurological complications is AIDS dementia complex, which leads to behavioral changes and diminished mental functioning.
Kidney disease: HIV-associated nephropathy (HIV AN) is an inflammation of the tiny filters in your kidneys that remove excess fluid and wastes from your bloodstream and pass them to your urine. Because of a genetic predisposition, the risk of developing HIV AN is much higher in African Americans. Regardless of CD4 count, anti-retroviral therapy should be started in people diagnosed with HIV AN who are not already being treated.
The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection.
Primary infection
The majority of people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. Possible symptoms include: fever, muscle soreness, rash
Headache, sore throat, mouth or genital ulcers, swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck, joint pain, night sweat and diarrhea.
Although the symptoms of primary HIV infection may be mild enough to go unnoticed, the amount of virus in the blood stream (viral load) is particularly high at this time. As a result, HIV infection spreads more efficiently during primary infection than during the next stage of infection.
Clinical latent infection:
In some people, persistent swelling of lymph nodes occurs during clinical latent HIV. Otherwise, there are no specific signs and symptoms. HIV remains in the body, however, as free virus and in infected white blood cells.
Clinical latent infection typically lasts eight to 10 years. A few people stay in this stage even longer, but others progress to more-severe disease much sooner.
Coming back to AIDS in India, the country has seen a 57 percent drop in number of new HIV infections during the last decade and these are the latest figures from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
India has seen reduction of new Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections (among adult population) from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011.
NACO says nearly 1.5 lakh lives have been saved due to free Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) medicines provided to HIV/AIDS patients. But these figures are nothing to crow about when you remember that the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in India in 1986.
(These facts are compiled from several medical and pharmacy reports and also bulletins and journals. The information here is meant only to help guide people and all drugs and medication should only be taken with doctors’ prescription. The facts here are only for purposes of reference and not for any other purpose).

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

To immerse or to consecrate

Normally Ganesha is immersed in water and more so if it is installed in public. Very few would are to keep the Ganesha back and Ganesha Visarjane is part of  a ritual.
Very rarely do the police or for that matter any other agency interfere in the Visarjane. The police do provide escort and security and also clear the road if the Ganesha procession is huge as in the case of Mumbai.
But, hold on. There is a locality in a city where the police are insisting that the organisers of a Ganesha which was placed in public do not immerse the idol.  The reason: They feel the Ganesha will be fished out of water by thieves and they do not want to set off a communal riot over the issue.
But wait. Why would a Ganesha be stolen unless it is an antique, priceless or valuable. This Ganesha does not satisfy the first two words. However, it is valuable as it is made of pure silver and it is worth more than Rs. 20 lakhs.
While the residents and organizers want to immerse the silver Ganesh, the police are dead against it. You see, they are scared that thieves will dive into the water, fish out the Ganesha and either melt it or sell it as it is. This, the police feel, could set off a riot and lead to a communal conflagration.
The police have, therefore, advised the organizers not to immerse the Ganesha. On their part, the residents and organizers are form on immersion. They say the Ganesha festival would come to a logical end only after the idol is immersed in water amid Vedic chants.
The “for and against” lobby is tearing the suburb of Pulianthope in Channai apart and giving sleepless nights to one and all. The police are asking residents of  Pulianthope to consecrate the Ganesha in a temple. The residents and organisers say they will row ten kilometers into the sea and then immerse the Ganesha.
The police remain unconvinced about the safety of the Ganesha after its immersion. They are sure that thieves will have a go at it. Having classified the suburb as communally sensitive, they are loathe to allow the immersion.
Their argument is that the area often sees violence and murders and till August this year, Pulianthope recorded some 30 murders and this half of all murders in Chennai.
Pointing to this disturbing trend, the police say the Ganesha issue may snowball anytime into a law and order issue. As of now, three policemen guard the silver idol on display at the Prakash Rao Colony.
The  Ganesha idol is made of 19 kilograms of silver with experts from Mysore and Udaipur designing and sculpting it. The residents of the colony decided to go in for a silver Ganesha to mark the 25th year of having these idols on public display.
By the way, Chennai, this year, has seen installation of more than 1,700 Ganesha idols on public display. Of them 165 are in Pulianthope police district.
Apart from the Ganesha row, Pulianthope is also known for another strange phenomenon. This unexplained phenomenon occurs on the narrow lane of Jafferkhan Street when life comes to a standstill after 7-30 p.m.
This is so as bricks starts falling on the houses after this hour and they continue well  past midnight.
Nobody known who throws the bricks or why. All they know is that this strange incident is confined only to this lane and it starts after 7-30 p.m. The bricks fall on four to five homes only. The police are sure that it is the handiwork of miscreants but the residents are not fully convinced. How can anyone throw bricks on roofs of two storied houses, they ask.

Narada inspired this poetess

When she was a child, she went to sleep only after her grandfather sang Dasara Padagalu. On days or rather nights when he did not sing, the child refused to sleep and cried till her grandfather relented and sang her to sleep.
Married when still young, she lost her husband and like the widows of her age, she tonsured her life and readied herself to live a life of strict widowhood. She was just eleven when she was married off to Muniyappa, thrice widowed native of Harapanahalli. The couple had a son and daughter. She lost Muniyappa when she was 36.  It was during this time of difficult times that her interest in Dasara Padagalu helped her build up her life.
Since she was Madhwa, leading a normal life after becoming a widow was all the more tough.
She slowly began taking interest in Dasara Padagalu. She also began singing them. Soon, she spent most of her time in reading  various Madhwa scriptures and singing Devara namas. Indeed, she became so involved with religion and philosophy, that even in her dreams she was constantly focused on Hari.
When she sang, she lost herself  in the world of Hari. She then began composing her own songs and sang them with the rest of the Dasara Padagalu. One day, when she was deeply immersed in singing the praise of Hari, the saint of  Heaven, Narada muni, came to her in the guise of a Brahmin holding tamboori in his hand. He then gave her the Ankita “Bhimesh Krishna.” This soon transformed the woman and she subsequently came to be known as one of the foremost Haridasa composers of her times. She is none other than Harapanahalli Bheemavva (1822-1902).
 She began composing under the new Ankita Nama, Bhimesh Krishna. Legend has it that she wrote down whatever she saw in her sleep. Thus, her dreams played a major role in writing Kritis and Devara Namas.
She regularly visited Bomagatti Pranadevaru and composed many songs on him and on Mahalakshmi. She also has many compositions on Krishna and his childhood. She visited Mantralaya, Udupi, Sonde and composed songs on Udupi Krishna, Raghavendra Swamy and Vadiraja. She composed more than 200 Devara Namas.
Mangalarathi Thandu Belagire, the Mangalarthi song of Lakshmi is written by Bheemavva as is the popular Gajamukhane Ganapathiae.
Her Harathi Hadagalu are even popular today among the womenfolk.
Bheemavva was born in Narayanakere village of Hospet talyuk of Bellary district. She died at Hosur which is located on the Tungabhadra in December 1902.  

The little known Taj of Bhopal

If you thought that the Taj Mahal is only at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, you would be way of the mark. This is so as there is a palace by that name and though it is as not as well known as its Agra counterpart, this too is a architectural masterpiece.
If the Taj at Agra was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shahajahan, as a resting place for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this Taj was built as a residence.
Work on the Agra Taj commenced in 1632 and it was completed some twenty years later in 1653. This residence, also called the Taj Mahal, was built over a thirteen year period between 1871 and 1884.
Estimates of the cost involved in the construction of the Taj vary as Shahajahan spared no effort or money in constructing what he wanted to be a fitting memorial to his wife. If the Taj is today among the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO recognised monument, no such honor is invested on the other Taj, so much so that it is in ruins.
This is the Taj Mahal, a residence built by a Begum in Bhopal. Though it is located besides the Taj-ud-Din mosque, it is among the least visited monuments of  Madhya Pradesh. Coincidentally, the name of the Begum who built this palace was Sultan Shah Shah Jahan, the Begum of Bhopal.
The Taj Mahal at Bhopal was built at a cost of Rs. 30 lakh and when completed it was one of the largest palaces of the world built at the time.
The building was originally named Raj Mahal or the royal palace. The then British Resident of  Bhopal was so impressed with the architecture that he suggested to the Begum that it be renamed the Taj Mahal of Agra.
The Begum, who was the eleventh ruler of Bhopal and reigned between 1868 and 1901, accepted the suggestion and the palace was renamed to Taj Mahal. The Begum ordered a three-year-long celebration called Jashn-e-Taj Mahal after the completion of the building.
After the partition of India in 1947, Nawab Hamidullah Khan allowed Sindhi refugees to stay in the palace. The refugees stayed on in Taj Mahal for four years, before shifting to Bairagarh and it was during this time that it suffered some damage.
Though some members of the royal family of  Bhopal stayed at the palace, they gradually moved away, as they had no money for the repairs. By 2008, large parts of the palace complex had collapsed.
The palace was declared a state heritage monument by the State Government in 2005 and the State Archaeology Department carried out restoration in parts. However, it was denotified in 2011 and the government now plans to transfer the property to the tourism department for its development as a heritage hotel.
What sets aside this building from others of its ilk is that it has British, French, Mughal Arabic and Hindu influences on it.
The palace is built in Indo-Saracenic style and it is huge. It contains 120 rooms- all different from one another in colour scheme and decoration-and eight large halls.
Besides, the palace had a hall of mirrors called sheesh mahal and the savon bhadon pavilion, which is a fountain like structure that simulated the effect of rain. This is 50 feet by fifty feet structure in the courtyard.
The main entrance is a seven-storied structure. The palace was part of a complex of buildings along the three lakes that includes the Benazir palace, which was the begum's summer palace, and the Taj-ul-Masjid mosque, which is one of Asia’s largest mosque.
The entrance dome of the palace was so large that a 12-horse buggy could turn under it with ease. The Begum would alight from the coach here as she observed purdah.