Sunday 24 April 2016


2016-17  James Herriot"All Creatures Great and Small": The Little Miracle 

"James Herriot" [James Alfred Wight] [1916-1995]

James Alfred Wight [1916-1995], known by the pen name James Herriot, was a  British veterinary surgeon and writer, who used his many years of experiences as a veterinary surgeon to write a series of semi -autobiographical books about rural life in Yorkshire.

In 1972, a collection of his works, "All Creatures Great and Small", became an instant classic. His books, 18 in all, sold 60 million copies worldwide, and inspired two movies and a BBC serial.  Success seemed to have little effect on his daily routine. "If a farmer has a sick cow," he said,  "they don't want Chales Dickens turning up; they want a good vet. And that's what I have tried to be." 

His collected works include

What follows is taken from Chapter One of the book "All Creature Great and Small"
to which I have chosen the caption --

Miracle that never fades - Mother's love


They didn’t say anything about this in the books, I thought, as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back. 

I lay face down on the cobbled floor in a pool of nameless muck, my arm deep inside the straining cow, my feet scrabbling for a toe hold between the stones. I was stripped to the waist and the snow mingled with the dirt and the dried blood on my body. I could see nothing outside the circle of flickering light thrown by the smoky oil lamp which the farmer held over me.

No, there wasn’t a word in the books about searching for your ropes and instruments in the shadows; about trying to keep clean in a half bucket of tepid water; about the cobbles digging into your chest. Nor about the slow numbing of the arms, the creeping paralysis of the muscles as the fingers tried to work against the cow’s powerful expulsive efforts. 

There was no mention anywhere of the gradual exhaustion, the feeling of futility and the little far-off voice of panic.

My mind went back to that picture in the obstetrics book. A cow standing in the middle of a gleaming floor while a sleek veterinary surgeon in a spotless parturition overall inserted his arm to a polite distance. He was relaxed and smiling, the farmer and his helpers were smiling, even the cow was smiling. There was no dirt or blood or sweat anywhere.

That man in the picture had just finished an excellent lunch and had moved next door to do a bit of calving just for the sheer pleasure of it, as a kind of dessert. He hadn’t crawled shivering from his bed at two o’clock in the morning and bumped over twelve miles of frozen snow, staring sleepily ahead till the lonely farm showed in the headlights. He hadn’t climbed half a mile of white fell-side to the doorless barn where his patient lay...


...“Well now, what have you found, young man?” Uncle’s penetrating voice cut through the silence. “Head back, eh? You won’t have much trouble, then. I’ve seen Mr. Broomfield do ’em like that—he turns calf right round and brings it out back legs first.” 

I had heard this sort of nonsense before. A short time in practice had taught me that all farmers were experts with other farmers’ livestock. When their own animals were in trouble they tended to rush to the phone for the vet, but with their neighbours’ they were confident, knowledgeable and full of helpful advice. And another phenomenon I had observed was that their advice was usually regarded as more valuable than the vet’s. Like now, for instance; Uncle was obviously an accepted sage and the Dinsdales listened with deference to everything he said. 

“Another way with a job like this,” continued Uncle, “is to get a few strong chaps with ropes and pull the thing out, head back and all.”

I gasped as I felt my way around. “I’m afraid it’s impossible to turn a calf completely round in this small space. And to pull it out without bringing the head round would certainly break the mother’s pelvis.”

The Dinsdales narrowed their eyes. Clearly they thought I was hedging in the face of Uncle’s superior knowledge. 

And now, two hours later, defeat was just round the corner. I was just about whacked. I had rolled and grovelled on the filthy cobbles while the Dinsdales watched me in morose silence and Uncle kept up a non-stop stream of comment.

Uncle, his ruddy face glowing with delight, his little eyes sparkling, hadn’t had such a happy night for years. His long trek up the hillside had been repaid a hundredfold. His vitality was undiminished; he had enjoyed every minute. 

As I lay there, eyes closed, face stiff with dirt, mouth hanging open, Uncle took his pipe in his hand and leaned forward on his straw bale. “You’re about beat, young man,” he said with deep satisfaction. “Well, I’ve never seen Mr. Broomfield beat but he’s had a lot of experience. And what’s more, he’s strong, really strong. That’s one man you couldn’t tire.”

Rage flooded through me like a draught of strong spirit. The right thing to do, of course, would be to get up, tip the bucket of bloody water over Uncle’s head, run down the hill and drive away; away from Yorkshire, from Uncle, from the Dinsdales, from this cow.

Instead, I clenched my teeth, braced my legs and pushed with everything I had; and with a sensation of disbelief I felt my noose slide over the sharp little incisor teeth and into the calf’s mouth. Gingerly, muttering a prayer, I pulled on the thin rope with my left hand and felt the slipknot tighten. I had hold of that lower jaw.

At last I could start doing something. “Now hold this rope, Mr. Dinsdale, and just keep a gentle tension on it. I’m going to repel the calf and if you pull steadily at the same time, the head ought to come round.” 

“What if the rope comes off?” asked Uncle hopefully. 

I didn’t answer. I put my hand in against the calf’s shoulder and began to push against the cow’s contractions. I felt the small body moving away from me. “Now a steady pull, Mr. Dinsdale, without jerking.” And to myself, “Oh God, don’t let it slip off.”

The head was coming round. I could feel the neck straightening against my arm, then the ear touched my elbow. I let go the shoulder and grabbed the little muzzle. Keeping the teeth away from the vaginal wall with my hand, I guided the head till it was resting where it should be, on the fore limbs. 

Quickly I extended the noose till it reached behind the ears. “Now pull on the head as she strains.” 

“Nay, you should pull on the legs now,” cried Uncle. 

“Pull on the bloody head rope, I tell you!” I bellowed at the top of my voice and felt immediately better as Uncle retired, offended, to his bale.

With traction the head was brought out and the rest of the body followed easily. The little animal lay motionless on the cobbles, eyes glassy and unseeing, tongue blue and grossly swollen. 

“It’ll be dead. Bound to be,” grunted Uncle, returning to the attack. 

I cleared the mucus from the mouth, blew hard down the throat and began artificial respiration. After a few pressures on the ribs, the calf gave a gasp and the eyelids flickered. Then it started to inhale and one leg jerked. 

Uncle took off his hat and scratched his head in disbelief. “By gaw, it’s alive. I’d have thowt it’d sure to be dead after you’d messed about all that time.” A lot of the fire had gone out of him and his pipe hung down empty from his lips.


I know what this little fellow wants,” I said. I grasped the calf by its fore legs and pulled it up to its mother’s head. The cow was stretched out on her side, her head extended wearily along the rough floor. Her ribs heaved, her eyes were almost closed; she looked past caring about anything. Then she felt the calf’s body against her face and there was a transformation; her eyes opened wide and her muzzle began a snuffling exploration of the new object. 

The Little Miracle
Her interest grew with every sniff and she struggled on to her chest, nosing and probing all over the calf, rumbling deep in her chest. Then she began to lick him methodically. Nature provides the perfect stimulant massage for a time like this and the little creature arched his back as the coarse papillae on the tongue dragged along his skin. Within a minute he was shaking his head and trying to sit up. 

I grinned. This was the bit I liked. The little miracleI felt it was something that would never grow stale no matter how often I saw it. I cleaned as much of the dried blood and filth from my body as I could, but most of it had caked on my skin and not even my finger nails would move it. It would have to wait for the hot bath at home. Pulling my shirt over my head, I felt as though I had been beaten for a long time with a thick stick. Every muscle ached. My mouth was dried out, my lips almost sticking together.

A long, sad figure hovered near. “How about a drink?” asked Mr. Dinsdale. 

I could feel my grimy face cracking into an incredulous smile. A vision of hot tea well laced with whisky swam before me. “That’s very kind of you, Mr. Dinsdale, I’d love a drink. It’s been a hard two hours.” 

“Nay,” said Mr. Dinsdale looking at me steadily, “I meant for the cow.” 

I began to babble. “Oh yes, of course, certainly, by all means give her a drink. She must be very thirsty. It’ll do her good. Certainly, certainly, give her a drink.”

I gathered up my tackle and stumbled out of the barn. On the moor it was still dark and a bitter wind whipped over the snow, stinging my eyes. As I plodded down the slope, Uncle’s voice, strident and undefeated, reached me for the last time. 

“Mr. Broomfield doesn’t believe in giving a drink after calving. Says it chills the stomach.”

Full text of "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot: [Click Here]

Audio Book: "All Creatures Great And Small" Unabridged: [Click Here]

Sunday 17 April 2016


2016-16  William Wordsworth: "The Education of Nature": Lucy Poems

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
William Wordsworth [1770-1850] 
British poet, credited with ushering in the English Romantic Movement with the publication of Lyrical Ballads(1798) in collaboration with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

"Three years she grew in sun and shower", also known as "The Education of Nature", was composed in 1798 by William Wordsworth, and published in the Lyrical Ballads. 

It is one of the five poems that make up the "Lucy Poems". We shall see below two of these.

The Education of Nature: Lucy Poems


Three years she grew in sun and shower,
Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower 
On earth was never sown;
This Child I to myself will take; 
She shall be mine, and
I will make 
A Lady of my own.
"Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse: and with me
The Girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.

   "She shall be sportive as the fawn
   That wild with glee across the lawn
   Or up the mountain springs;
   And hers shall be the breathing balm,
   And hers the silence and the calm
   Of mute insensate things.

   "The floating clouds their state shall lend
   To her; for her the willow bend;
   Nor shall she fail to see
   Even in the motions of the Storm
   Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form
   By silent sympathy.

"The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.

And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell."

     Thus Nature spake—The work was done—
     How soon my Lucy's race was run!
     She died, and left to me
     This heath, this calm and quiet scene;
     The memory of what has been,
     And never more will be.

YouTube Video: "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower": [Click Here]


She dwelt among the untrodden ways
         Beside the springs of Dove,
    A Maid whom there were none to praise
         And very few to love:


        A violet by a mossy stone
              Half hidden from the eye!
       —Fair as a star, when only one
              Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
         When Lucy ceased to be;
    But she is in her grave, and, oh,
         The difference to me!

YouTube Video: "She dwelt among the untrodden ways": [Click Here]

Sunday 10 April 2016


2016 -15  Cecil Frances Alexander: "The Maker of Heaven and Earth"  or 
                                      "All Things Bright and Beautiful"

Cecil Frances Alexander [1818-1895]
Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander [1818-1895] was an Irish poet and hymn writer. She was born in Dublin, and started writing verse from her childhood. By 1840's she was already known as a hymn writer and her compositions were soon included in Church of Ireland hymn books. 

Her book, Hymns for Little Children reached its 69th edition before the close of the 19th century. The hymns "All Things Bright And Beautiful" and "There is a Green Hill Far Away" are known to millions of people, the world over, as is her translation of "Saint Patrick's Breastplate".

She was also involved in charitable work. Profits from Hymns for Little Children were donated to the Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

Maker of Heaven and Earth

All things bright and beautiful, 
All creatures great and small, 
All things wise and wonderful, 
The Lord God made them all. 

Each little flower that opens, 
Each little bird that sings, 
He made their glowing colours, 
He made their tiny wings. 

The purple-headed mountain, 
The river running by, 
The sunset, and the morning, 
That brightens up the sky; 

The cold wind in the winter, 
The pleasant summer sun, 
The ripe fruits in the garden, 
He made them every one. 

The tall trees in the greenwood,   
The meadows where we play, 
The rushes by the water, 
We gather every day; - 

He gave us eyes to see them, 
And lips that we might tell, 
How great is God Almighty, 
Who has made all things well. 

Sunday 3 April 2016


2016-14  Vedic Wisdom: Purusha Sukta: In Praise of the Cosmic Being [RV 10.90] 

Purusha, the "Cosmic Being" 

Purusha Sukta is hymn 10.90 of the Rig Veda dedicated to the Purusha, the "Cosmic Being". 

The hymn finds place in Atharvaveda (19.6), Samaveda (6.4), Yajurveda (VS 31.1-6), Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), and it is commented upon in the Shatapatha Brahmana, Taittiriya Brahmana, Shvetashvatara Upanishad and Mudgala Upanishad. 

The Purusha Sukta is also mentioned with explanations and interpretations in Vajasaneyi Samhita (31.1-6), Sama veda Samhita (6.4), and Atharva veda Samhita (19.6). 

Among Puranic texts, the Purusha Sukta has also been elaborated in Bhagavata Purana (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in Mahabharata (Mokshadharma Parva 351 and 352).

The Significance of the Purusha Sukta and the benefits of chanting Purusha Sukta according to Swami Krishnananda of the Divine Life Society

1) Five-fold force for God Realisation; 

The Purusha Sukta of the Vedas is not only a powerful hymn of the insight of the great Seer, Rishi Narayana, on the Cosmic Divine Being as envisaged through the multitudinous variety of creation, but also a shortcut provided to the seeker of Reality for entering into the state of Super-consciousness. 

The Sukta is charged with a fivefold force potent to rouse God-experience in the seeker. 

Firstly, the Seer (Rishi) of the Sukta is Narayana, the greatest of sages ever known, whose mind cannot be disturbed by desire and, as the Mahabharata says, whose power not even all the gods can ever imagine. Such is the Rishi to whom the Sukta was revealed and who gave expression to it as the hymn on the Supreme Purusha. 

Secondly, the mantras of the Sukta are composed in a particular metre (chandas) which makes its own contribution by the generating of a special spiritual force during the recitation of the hymn. 

Thirdly, the intonation (svara) with which the mantras are recited adds to the production of the correct meaning intended to be conveyed through the mantras, and any error in the intonation may produce a different effect altogether. 

Fourthly, the Deity (devata) addressed in the hymn is not any externalised or projected form as a content in space and time, but is the Universal Being which transcends space and time and is the indivisible supra-essential essence of experience. 

Fifthly, the Sukta suggests, apart from the universalised concept of the Purusha, an inwardness of this experience, thus distinguishing it from perception of any object. 

2) Universal Super-consciousness: 

The Sukta begins with the affirmation that all the heads, all the eyes, and all the feet in creation are of the Purusha. Herein is implied the astonishing truth that we do not see many things, bodies, objects, persons, forms, or colours, or hear sounds, but rather only the limbs of the One Purusha. 

we are to behold creation not as a conglomeration of discrete persons and things but as a single Universal Person who gloriously shines before us and gazes at us through all the eyes, nods before us through all the heads, smiles through all the lips and speaks through all the tongues. This is the Purusha of the Purusha Sukta. 

This is the God sung in the hymn by Rishi Narayana. This is not THE GOD OF ANY RELIGION, and this is not one among many gods. This is the only God who can possibly be anywhere, at any time. 


Our thought, when it is extended and trained in the manner required to see the universe before us, receives a stirring shock, because this very thought lays the axe at the root of all desires, for no desire is possible when all creation is but one Purusha. 

This illusion and this ignorance in which the human mind is moving when it desires anything in the world— whether it is a physical object or a mental condition, or a social situation—is immediately dispelled by the simple but most revolutionary idea which the Sukta deals to the mind with one stroke. We behold the One Being (ekam sat) before us. 

The Purusha-Sukta is not merely this much. The above description should not lead us to the erroneous notion that God can be seen with the eyes—as we see a cow, for instance—though it is true that all things are the Purusha. It is to be remembered that the Purusha is not the ‘seen’ but the ‘seer’. 

When everything is the Purusha, where can there be an object to be seen? The apparently ‘seen’ objects are also the heads of the ‘seeing’ Purusha. There is, thus, only the seer seeing himself without a seen. 

Here, again, the seer’s seeing of himself is not to be taken in the sense of a perception in space and time. It is the seer seeing himself not through eyes, but in Consciousness. 

It is the absorption of all objectification in a Universal Being-ness. In this meditation on the Purusha, which is the most normal thing that can ever be conceived, man realizes God in the twinkling of a second. 

YouTube Video: Purusha Sukta: Vedic Chanting with Sanskrit Txt and English Translation: [Click Here] 6:36 min

Purusha Sukta [RV10:90] Sanskrit Txt with English Meaning: [Click Here]

Ancient Vedic Chants That Enlighten: "Pancha Sukta": [Click Here] 37m