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Splashes – 72/72 – Hindus to be Assertive

We are a rare case in the world that the descendants of a grand civilization and religion were kept enslaved for over thousand years by a handful of invaders who were primitive, uncivilized and spiritually perverse. The unfortunate part is that we remained at the mercy of a lady of Italian origin having little knowledge of English ruled over us but on the basis of her family connection some selfish and corrupt Indian sycophants!

Helplessly, we begged her government for preservation of our culture and the safety of our lives.  What really has been wrong with us? Perhaps over spiritualism and idealism have blocked our arteries, and have paralyzed our minds. We are helplessly awaiting someone to emerge and rescue us, while the remedy is with us to empower ourselves through Purushartha of ballot.

We shut eyes to Environment

Our Dharma Gurus – They remain busy lecturing spirituality devoid of activism. They have amassed properties for themselves and their family clans. Most of them are shy of karma yoga and have turned secular to attract more followers from global market. They are scared of calling a spade a spade, even if that happened to be truth.

Our Educated Ladies – The off springs of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, lack courage, ability and aspiration to replace the Italian born from extra constitutional authority. On the contrary some of them are begging reservation to enter legislative forums in India. They aim to compete with men in and out rather managing their homes, future generation, heritage, culture and resources.

Our Youths – They are turning helpless and hopeless due to over competitive environment contaminated with reservations. To escape realities they flock around a popped up Pappu icon from the same family to offer him Prime Minister of the country. Some of them want to run away further towards greener pastures abroad for better living rather cleaning and reclaiming on home.

Our Spiritual leaders – They are the worst of all. They remain busy segmenting Hindu society to carve a commercial niche for them. They keep mum in the face of illegal activities.

The stark fact is that we have not learnt anything from our history, spiritualism and lofty idealism.

The Gifts from God

Every person inherits his parentage, name, family, caste, blood relations, country and Religion at the time of birth. There was no choice as it came from Him. The package consisted of fond memories of ancestors, their beliefs, customs and traditions; all branded and packed in to the bundle of religion.

These are the possessions we use most of the time in our life daily as our personal identity. Subsequent circumstances may force an individual to adopt a new nationality but the link with ancestors is continued through the religion even after death. Religion is a strong bondage that establishes and regulates the relationship of persons living, dead, and those to follow. Thus, whatever was bestowed upon us by birth should be respected as a duty having been assigned to us by God Almighty.

Substance of Hindu Dharma

The substance of spirituality and the real Dharma of the individual is to love our country, parents, family, and society; and live by the laws of environment. Real Moksha comes through discharging ones duties without expecting anything in return. Hinduism has taken every one into its fold. All those living in India are Hindus provided they live within the constraints of Indian environment, customs and traditions established by indigenous ancestors.

Competition and animosity between religions occur when some religion usurped the area of another religion. The relevancy of every religion is to be assessed with reference to its place of origin. Hindus have no objection if any other religion followed some different practices, in their respective homelands. But once other religions overstep their boundaries to clash with local religion clashes are bound to result. With reference to India, Islam and Christianity are religions of alien environment pitted against Hinduism.

Blinded towards realities

It is not a shame that on the slightest sign of danger Hindus start crying aloud in India for their neighbor to help. They have individually given up Karma Yoga that other nations learnt from Hindus. Today all Hindu activities converge for a peaceful life to sit and relax under the umbrella of escapism and watch amusement on TV.

Do we ever retrospect? If outsiders have the courage to start Jihad far from their home land why Hindus could not reciprocate by counter Jihad? Why Hindus have failed to match the violence of the outsiders? Why handfuls of outsiders have taken Hindu mobs as soft targets? Biologically Hindus are not deficient in any way except unity, courage, initiative and motivation.  Aren’t Hindus passively inviting others to enslave them again? If this is the condition of Hindus even in a democratic set up, where they are having option of electing the government after every five years, what will be their plight if they are again to be ruled by some autocrat bigot non-Hindu ruler? Where will they run for safe shelter?

Excess of everything is bad

The doctrines of Non-Violence and Idealism have taken the shape of cowardice and escapism to block our arteries. We have lost direction and sense and keep moving in any direction led by unscrupulous politicians. We are simply relying on certain families that are capable of producing leadership to govern us. Seldom are we conscious that the remedy lies in our hand in the form of a ballot paper that we carelessly throw towards unworthy politicians to boss over us.

Israel is small country as compared to India, but has the will and capability to punish the terrorists. In contrast, why we continue getting beatings on our homeland every time and wait for the other countries to react? Our cowardly leaders have been carrying bags of evidence to other countries to prove their innocence and return unsuccessfully from foreign jaunts to advice restraint to own countrymen. Their assurances sound hollow when fresh terrorist attacks shake us from slumber. We don’t we kick such leaders out of power when ballet power is right in our hand? We have to choose and act between living a respectably safe life in India or hand over the home land to others.

The Law of Nature

Our religion is a bridge to connect past, present and future. Anyone who resides in India and lived his life according to Indian environment is a Hindu provided he let others also live and took pride in Indian ancestral lineage, traditions and customs. Anyone who disregarded this fundamental code should not have any place to stand on Indian soil.

Hindus need to be Assertive

Hindus have to proclaim aloud. We are Hindus first and last and have pride in saying so. We need to emulate Krishna, Chankya, Shivaji and Guru Gobind Singh. They were neither revengeful nor fanatics but down to earth karmayogies.

In every country, law provides every individual to abate the nuisance being caused to his person.  Abatement of nuisance is a legal right of every individual unless the practice has been established as a tradition. Thus the problem should be nipped in the bud before it is established as a tradition. Use of force is also considered lawful if circumstances justify.

What prevents Hindu society to apprehend missionaries indulging in conversions and handing them over to police? What prevents Hindu action groups to prosecute such Evangelist? Why can’t Hindus from habitat protection teams to apprehend terrorist and mischief mongers. Likewise, if some painting or similar object is injurious to Hindu feelings what prevents Hindu youths to snatch the same from the culprit and assign it to flames.

All places of worship and public utilities should be guarded by armed guards called Sevadars. They must be equipped with weaponry and communication owned by terrorists. They should be trained to provide protection to the place and inmates till arrival of security personnel and should be trained adequately.

Somehow Hindus have to get down to brainstorming sessions at street level and even their drawing rooms to educate their younger generations. Hindus have to re-build their self-confidence and esteem. Hindus have to eradicate local short falls, and assert themselves. No one should be allowed to snatch their home land under the grab of secularism. Towards this end every temple should be restored to its ancient status as a community center for Karama yoga.

Brain-storming on Karamayoga

The crux of the problem is that Hindus have ceased to be assertive. Instead of Karma Yoga, Hindus are living under the spell of escapism falsely disguised as spiritualism and Gandhian philosophy. Hindus have to learn that nationality may change, but if they are extinct as Hindus then Hinduism will be finished from India.

Like Arjuna, Hindus have to focus on bird’s eye for the time being.  They have to work individually and collectively to make India a Hindu country, governed by Hindu government. Everything else is of secondary importance. Hinduism is truly secular in concept and enshrines the golden principle of Vasudeva Kuttambkum. There is no greater spiritualism anywhere than the Karmayoga of Geeta. We have to save and clean our homeland. Thus every Hindu has to resolve to change the system with the strength of his ballot. Let the splashes from every individual turn into tidal waves to sweep the dirt and dangers threatening Hinduism.

Last Word

This brings us to the end of the stroll along the beach to get the feel of Splashes from Hindu Maha Sagar. The information passed was introductory and elementary in substance. There are many more splashes and waves in the depth of the ocean of Hinduism to be explored by those who may have time, motivation and enthusiasm. With every dive one is likely to discover more and more intellectual wealth.

Chand K Sharma

 

 

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Splashes– 60/72 – Destruction of Hindu Identities

Islam got entrenched in India due to multiple reasons. The most prominent of all were federalism, local treachery, lack of aggressive spirit and outdated military tactics. Almost every Hindu feudal ruler looked towards other side when his neighbor was under attack. Many often someone close to the Hindu ruler was won over by Muslims to defect and sabotage. Hindu warriors did not resort to offensive action even when situation was favorable. They remained defensive and allowed the invader to choose his time and direction of attack. Instead of offering wider frontage, Hindus would assemble at one place and let the invader launch a concentrated attack. Hindus lacked mobility, shrewdness to anticipate enemy moves while Muslims were cunning and did not shy from adopting ruthless and deceitfulness means. Hindus lacked initiative and did not learn from their defeat after defeat and repeated same mistakes. Prithviraj Chauhan and later several Rajputs were the victims of outdated military tactics despite their individual valor.  Thus Hindu paid heavily for their own neglect and are continuing in the same fashion.

Enslaving of Hindus

Apart from actual killing on the battlefield, millions of Hindus disappeared by way of enslavement. Slave markets in Baghdad and Samarkand were flooded with Hindus. Many of the slaves died of hardship. The mountain range Hindu Koh, (Indian mountain), was re-named Hindu Kush, (Hindu-killer), when on a cold night a hundred thousand Hindu captives died during transportation to Central Asia by Timur. Slaves were always subjected to inhuman treatment such as whipping, amputation of limbs, sexual assault and whatever else the master could think of. Their life had no meaning. They were subjected to ill-treatment till they died or converted to Islam. Because of conversions the numbers of Muslim community swelled.

Destruction of Temples

Many prominent Hindu temples were desecrated and destroyed. Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat was plundered and destroyed. The Vishnu temple was replaced with the Alamgir mosque at Benares, and The Treta-Ka-Thakur (Lord Rama) temple in Ayodhya was demolished and Babri Masjid was erected on its debris. This is just to mention the few, as about over 63000 temples all over India were destroyed, or converted in to mosques. Many Hindu buildings like Dhruva Stambha at Mehroli (Delhi) and Tajo Mahalya at Agra were usurped and converted to Muslim monuments. Today every ancient site of temple is either fully usurped by some Islamic shrine or is being shared by Muslim encroachment.

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) topped the list. The number of temples destroyed under his orders is counted in four figures.  He ordered all temples destroyed such as the Kashi Vishvanath that was one of the most sacred temples, and a center of Hindu learning. He had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach also suffered destruction, and mosques were built upon them. Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura was desecrated by cow slaughter and a mosque was built over it. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples; the worshippers  were also wiped-out. He had his own brother, Dara Shikoh, beheaded for showing little interest in Hindu religion.

Islamic Conversion of India  

Islamic Conversion of India continued for eight centuries as under:-

Language – Sanskrit went out of use. Arabic and Persian came to dominate royal court. After some competition between the two, Persian replaced Arabic but most of the converted could not grasp the same. Thus a new language emerged by the name of Hindvi. That was a mixture of Persian and some Sanskrit words. Muslims wrote Hindvi in Persian script and called that Urdu, while Hindus used Devnagri script and called that language Hindi. Urdu derived its vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, while Hindi had her foundation in Sanskrit.

Places and Palaces – Ancient cities were renamed. Prayag and Ayodhya were made Allahabad and Faizabad. From the booty taken from Temples and Jazia Tax, Muslim rulers maintained large harems, built mosques and tombs for their dead. The ‘great builder’ Shahjehan kept more than seven hundred concubines, and emptied his coffers in building palaces for himself, including the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum, built for the burial of his wife, who had died far away long ago. On the basis of records made in ‘Badshahnama’, the official chronicle of Shahjehan, and other archeological evidence, Taj Mahal is now suspected to be a Hindu building ‘Tajo Mahalya’, which had been allegedly usurped by the Emperor from one of his Hindu nobles Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Conversions – Many Hindu family names can be found in India among Muslim families. Some prominent surnames are Suri, Bakshi, Malik, and Desai. Those were basically Hindus that converted to Islam in the past. There is no case where any Muslims was converted to Hindu faith. Hindus maintained that one had to be a Hindu by birth. Thus conversions were never sought.

But Hindu identity withstood

Although Muslim rulers changed the identity of cities and places but they failed to obliterate the identity of the country. India remained to be the land of Hindus. Every Muslim ruler called the country as Hindustan and preferred to be addressed as Shahansha -e – Hind or Sultan –e- Mumalkat-e- Hindostan. Many of the Muslim Emperors extended their rule up to Afghanistan, but they could not shift their capital out of India or merged India with Afghanistan.

This aspect is pertinent that India’s identity remained tied with Hindus only. Muslims tried hard to make India Muslim dominated but India continued to be Hindustan till 1947. They were Muslims when compared to Hindus but when compared to outsiders they remained owners of Hindustan.

Hindu Survival Adaptations

The Hindu adaptations for survival were necessity-dependent. They had to survive under nearly impossible conditions to save Hindu girls from Muslim loot, raid, plunder, and rape, among other things.

  • Some Hindu texts escaped destruction as the same went underground, like Bhrigu Samhita. It was a compendium of all possible horoscopes to correctly predict the life events of every individual, provided, the sheet matching the time and place of birth of the individual could be traced within the bunch. The book is still available in parts with certain families practicing astrology in North India.
  • As an escape route from depression and humiliation, Brahmins, saints and poets devoted themselves to Hindu deities instead of being called the slaves of Muslims. They suffixed their name with ‘daas’ of their chosen deity such as Ram Dass, Krishna Dass or something like that.
  • From the practice of ‘Karamyoga’ they turned to ‘Bhaktiyoga’ to find some solace, while they lived in an environment polluted by insecurity, insult and fear.
  • Some sought spiritual guidance from humanized gods like Rama and Krishna; while others like Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak sought salvation in abstract from of God, and vainly tried for Hindu Muslim synthesis. Subsequently such individualized sects expanded and carved their own distinct identifying rituals. Primarily, they were Hindu initiatives for rapprochement, and have remained so. However they could not bring any change in absolutely fundamentalist Islamic mindset.

Hindus had to pay terrible price in order to survive. Although many Hindus rulers individually continued their military struggle to resist Muslim rule but collectively due to the selfishness of traitors among them, they failed to forge any united resistance.

Record of Births and Dead

Brahmins confined their activities and affiliated themselves to certain geographical areas. They maintained records of births, deaths and other events in respect of their client families at pilgrim centers at Haridwar, Varanasi, Ujjain and Nashik.  Even today any Hindu can approach such places to trace out the names of their ancestors and allied records more than five generations backward, provided ancestors had visited the pilgrim center during their life span and had updated the data. Fortunately, at certain places those records are now being computerized. Unfortunately the younger generation is unaware of it and patronage is lacking.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 61/72 – Hindu Resistance to Islam)

Splashes – 51/72 – Revealing Mohenjo-Daro Excavations

The Indian History Books prescribed during British period start with Mauryan Dynasty as the first historical fact. History prior to that is un-authenticated for want of historical evidence. Unless we were told by Sir John Marshall, even our own McCauley brand Indian intellectuals would not have accepted that Indus Valley Civilization dated to five centuries BC.

According to Western Historians

Writing found at Mohenjo-Daro is still un-deciphered. When archaeologists excavated Mohenjo-Daro during last century, they found skeletons just lying in the streets, some of them were holding hands, as if some great doom had suddenly overtaken them. Those skeletons were among the most radioactive ever found, at par with those found at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is no logical explanation with them for the nitrification of stone forts and cities, except from an atomic blast.

Originally Mohenjo-Daro is more than 5000 years old. The hamlet lay on two islands in the Indus. Within a radius of 1.5 km three different degrees of devastation had been noticed, which appeared to have spread from the center outwards. Thousands of lumps, called ‘black stones’ by archaeologists, turned out to be fragments of clay vessels which had melted into each other in the extreme heat.

The possibility of a volcanic eruption is excluded, because there is no hardened lava or volcanic ash in or near Mohenjo-Daro. It is assumed that the brief intensive heat reached 2000 degree C and made the ceramic vessels melt.

References in Epic Histories

Ancient names of the present continents have been described in Hindu texts as Atal, Vitul, Talatala, Rsatal, Sutal, Mahatal, and Pataal. Since Atal continent had submerged into sea, the water body came to be known as Atal – Antak (destroyer of Atal continent). This legend corroborates the incident of Noah’s Arc and first two Avtars of Indian mythology also. References like this one are not isolated. Battles, using a fantastic array of weapons and aerial vehicles were common in the entire epic in India:-

  • An interesting example of a vimana is the flying machine which King Salva, had acquired from Maya Danav, an inhabitant of Talatala.
  • There is another description of an atomic like war in Mahabharata. One even described a Vimana-Vailix battle on the surface of Moon. The above section very accurately described what an atomic explosion could look like and the effects of the radioactivity on the population. Jumping into water was the only respite.
  • Also through Mahabharata, we learn that an individual named Asura Maya had a Viman measuring twelve cubits in circumference, with four strong wheels. The poem is a veritable gold mine of information relating to conflicts between gods who settled their differences apparently using weapons as lethal as the ones we are capable of deploying today.
  • Apart from blazing missiles, the poem records the use of other deadly weapons, such as Indra’s Dart – Vajra – operated via a circular reflector. When switched on, it produced a ‘shaft of light’ which, when focused on any target, immediately ‘consumed it with its power’.
  • In one particular exchange, the hero, Krishna, is pursuing his enemy, Salva, in the sky, when Salva’s Viman, the Saubha is made invisible in some way. Undeterred, Krishna immediately fired a special weapon: ‘quickly laid on an arrow, which killed by seeking out sound’.

UFO Enigma

Many researchers into the UFO enigma tend to overlook a very important fact. It is assumed that most flying saucers are either alien, or part of some clandestine Military operation. Another possible origin of UFOs could be ancient India and Atlantis. What we know about ancient Indian flying vehicles comes from ancient Indian sources; written texts that have come down to us through the centuries.

Facts wrapped in Fiction

Certainly the epic writers of Ramayana and Mahabharata were two different persons and were not professional soldiers of modern armies. The similarity of their description is a pointer to differentiate fact from fiction. There is no doubt that most of these texts are authentic; many are the well-known ancient Indian epics themselves.

The ancient Indians themselves wrote entire flight manuals on the care and control of various types of vimans. Would these texts exist (and they do) without there be something to actually write about? Surely this kind of literature is not out of the imagination of one ancient fiction writer.

Indian meteorological concepts date back to the age of the Rig Veda. A discussion regarding the existence of and the use of flying vehicles in ancient India naturally waits for an advanced state of knowledge in cosmogony. A close and careful study of the Vedic literature shows that it was not just a collection of primeval poetry but a varied literature of a powerful and dynamic society where the people had the knowledge of cloud and vapor, of the season and of the monsoon, of the different types of wind, of the expanse of the sky, of the strength of the wind blowing at high-speed and so on.

Conceptual Contribution of Rishies

Concept always precedes inventions. Concept is transformed into reality through technology. However technologies get outdated faster than concepts. At least we can conclusively say that ancient Hindu Rishies had conceptualized long ago that has been realized by the Western scientists in twentieth century. The ancient Indians, who manufactured these ships themselves, wrote entire flight manuals on the control of the various types of Vimans, many of which are still in existence, and some have even been translated in to English. If there were no airplanes why would they write such comprehensive manuals?

The manuscripts mention a planned trip to the Moon also. The Ramayana has a detailed account of a trip to the moon in a Viman. There is also an account of a battle on the moon with and Ashvin’ airship to suggest evidence of anti-gravity and aerospace technology thought of by Indians, when elsewhere the awakening was yet to dawn.

Till a year ago science made us believe that there was no water on Moon till India’s Chandrayaan belied that myth. There are more than billion galaxies discovered by NASA scientists. If ancient Indian sages had said through their scriptures that there were Koti Koti Brhamandas; then what is the difference between scriptures and modern Science? Truth is like Horizon, the closer we reach the farther it recedes. Today’s known truths could be replaced by new truths. This fundamental reality of Science was propounded long ago through Indian thought that except the Creator nothing is true in this universe. This is the strength of Hinduism.

With the passage of time the machines went out of use so that the secrets of its make-up and flying were equally lost. Methods for the large-scale production of metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and mercury and of alloys like brass, bronze, and those of gold and silver with baser materials were known to ancient Indians. Kautilya has described in detail the properties of mineral ores, gems, and precious stones.

With a highly developed state of civilization flourishing in art, culture, literature, history, medicine, alchemy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology, geology, trade, commerce, shipbuilding, and agriculture it is natural to think that some sort of flying vehicles as attested by literary references were in all probability known.

Destruction of Unguarded Treasures

From the time of Panini up to the time of King Bhoja we come across references to the great universities of Takshshila, Valabhi, Dhar, Ujjain and Vishala. The annals of history inform us that the depredations of the foreign tribes began as early as the 2nd century AD. From two centuries later came succeeding waves of attacks of other foreign hordes like the Arabs, Turks and Afghans. All the well-known universities and other centers of learning like the temples, the Viharas and the libraries containing books and other priceless treasures of the Indian heritage had to stand the fire and fury of the marauders.

It is interesting to note, that the Nazis developed the first practical pulse jet engines for their V-8 rocket buzz bombs. Hitler and the Nazi staff were exceptionally interested in ancient India and Tibet and sent expeditions to both these places yearly, starting in the 30’s, in order to gather esoteric evidence that they did so, and perhaps it was from those people who the Nazis gained some of their scientific information.

Wright brothers had jumped atop a building with the help of artificial wings attached to their body to experiment flying and were hurt badly in the process. No such experiment took place in India. In contrast to those crude attempts, our scriptures have described infrastructures relevant to scientific knowledge.

Not Mere fantasies

Unlike Arabian Nights and Fairy Tales, these accounts are by no way fantasies narrating someone crossing the ocean while sitting on Alladin’s magic carpet or Sindbad being carried across the mountains by an eagle. But all accounts in ancient Indian literature are backed by scientific possibilities that exist today. Many casual foreign tourists, who are accustomed to click their cameras on half-naked vagabonds displaying physical pranks at tourist sites to project India as a land of snake charmers, may not reconcile to the enigmatic military science possessed by Ancient Indians; but it cannot be denied that there has been continuous trivialization of Indian concepts and practices for centuries.

Recently newspapers carried the headline ‘Obama flies to India’, but after thousand years if that headline is interpreted that Obama flew to India like a bird, the technology cannot be doubted. Thus Indian intellectuals need to muster courage to assert themselves through investigative trials. It is now for the Hindus to take stock of their neglected treasures and retrieve whatever can be. If they also reject their treasures without glancing at them, they are similar to those half-naked being photographed by the tourists to degrade India.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 52/72 – Indian Achievements Under-rated)

Splashes – 49/72 – Martial Arts of India

In Hindu society, Martial Arts were popular and not exclusive to the Khashatryas alone. Vatsayana mentions in Kama Sutra that even women also practiced with sword, single-stick, quarter-staff, bow and arrow to retain their physical fitness.

Literature on Martial Arts

Like other branches of knowledge, Martial Art also have their origin in Vedas that, contain fundamental knowledge about eighteen arts and skills. Vishnu Purana, Agni Purana and Dhanurveda dealt with the skills of archery as one of the eighteen branches of applied knowledge. Dhanur Veda divides the art into five parts as below:-

  1. Vantra-mukta – projectile weapons such as the sling or the bow,
  2. Pāṇi-mukta – hurling weapons that are to be thrown, such as the javelin,
  3. Muktāmukta – weapons that can be used by hurling at the enemy or thrusting but remain within the reach of the user, such as spear and trident.
  4. Hasta-śastra – weapons that are to be used while held in hands such as sword, battle-axe and mace.
  5. Bāhu-yuddha – unarmed fighting.

Combat Training 

Like other branches of Sanskrit Literature, treatises on Martial Arts were also more systematic during 1st century AD.  The 8th century text Kuvalay Mala by Udyotanasuri recorded fighting techniques being taught at Ghatika and Salad educational institutions. Those included archery, fighting with sword and shield, with daggers, sticks, lances, and with fists, and in duels.

Competitions were also organized to assess the competency of the warriors. Rama had to display his physical strength by lifting Shiva’s bow. Mahabharata narrates one such event organized by Guru Dronacharya to test aiming proficiency of princes. All participants were required to hit the eye of a clay bird placed at some distance and finally Arjuna succeeded.

Similarly Arjuna won the hand of princess Draupadi in swaymber by hitting the eye of a fish placed on a revolving platform, while aiming through its reflection caused in an oil plate kept below. Another unarmed battle in the Mahabharata describes two fighters boxing with clenched fists and fighting with kicks, finger strikes, knee strikes and head butts.

Unarmed Combat

Sushruta’s text Sushruta Samhita identified 107 vital points on the human body of which 49 were classified as being lethal if properly struck with a fist or stick.  Indian fighters knew and practiced attacking and defending vital points.

Around 630, Pallava King Narasimha Verman commissioned dozens of granite sculptures showing unarmed fighters disarming armed opponents.

Combative Recreation

  • Wrestling was known as Mall-YudhaHanuman and Bhima, Jarasandha and Krishna’s elder brother Balram are associated with the art of wrestling and are revered by the wrestlers’ even to-day.
  • References to fighting arts are also found in early first century in Buddhist text of Lotus Sutra. It refers to a boxing art and combat techniques as joint locks, fist strikes, grapples and throws.
  • In the 3rd century, elements from Patanjili Yoga Sutrtra as well as finger movements in the Nata dances were incorporated into martial arts.

Some of the well-known martial arts of India since ancient times are Kalarippayat, Vajra-mushti, and Gatka.

Kalarippayat

Kalarippayat is said to be the world’s original martial art. It was developed more than 2,000 years ago by warriors of the Chola kingdom in Kerala. It is most violent. From unarmed kicks and punches, Kalarippayat warriors would graduate to sticks, swords, spears and daggers and identify the ‘marmas’ (the 107 vital spots on the human body), where a blow can kill.

Participants advanced from unarmed combat to the use of swords, sharpened flexible metal lashes, and peculiar three-bladed daggers. The Urimi – a double-edged flexible sword was the most extraordinary weapon used in Kalarippayat, and it is unique in the world. The old-time masters used to wrap it around their waist. It used to be kept coiled in one hand, and whipped suddenly at the opponent to inflict mortal blows. Training followed strict rituals and guidelines. Fighters took Shiva and Shakti, as their deities.

With the advent of Buddhism, Kalarippayat spread to Far East countries. Buddhist monks travelled far and wide, to spread the teachings of the Buddha. As they used to be mostly unarmed, they adopted this form of self – defense, against religious fanatics, since that suited to their philosophy of non – violence – no first use of weapons.

Vajra-mushti

The name Vajra-mushti referred to the usage of the hands in a manner as powerful as the vajra (maces) of traditional warfare. Fighting on foot for a Khshatreya warrior was necessary in case he was unseated from his mount and found himself without weapons. Although the ethical code forbade the opponent from attacking him, but violators of the code could always be expected. When faced with an unscrupulous opponent, the Khshatreya defended himself, by using hand-to-hand combat, which combined techniques of wrestling, throws, and hand strikes. Tactics and evasion were formulated and passed on to successive generations.

Vajra-mushti was practiced in peacetime by means of regular physical training sessions and these utilized sequences of attack and defense technically termed in Sanskrit Nata. In ancient Hinduism, Nata was acknowledged as a spiritual study representing the awakening of wisdom through physical and mental concentration.

After the Muslim invasion of India and its brutal destruction of Buddhist and Hindu culture, the Khshatreya art of Nata vanished and many of its teachers were slain. In 1804 the British banned it following series of revolts.

Gatka

Gatka is a popular martial art from Punjab. It is played between two teams of either singles or doubles participants. The participants are armed with canes or swords, Khandas and also carry small circular shields. Generally it is played on the pattern of fencing, and is very popular sport with Nihangs – a martial sect among Sikhs.

Export of Indian Martial Arts

Some of our martial art forms traveled to China, Korea and Japan. Judo and Sumo wrestling was one of the many techniques spread in the Far East by Buddhist pilgrims from India.

The Japanese samurai also had similar traits to the traditions of sacred Swords, of honorable self-sacrifice, and service to one’s Lord that are found first in India.

The idea that man enters into harmony with the five elements, through the science of breathing, is to be found in the most ancient records of Indian history. If mind and body are one, the possibilities of development of one’s physical and mental capabilities are limitless, provided they are united and controlled. Using this as the foundation, Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk started a new trend in the Shaolin temple in China, from which stemmed most of the rules and precepts, which governs all martial art forms.

  • The relationship between a student and teacher in the disciplines of Judo and Karate could trace its roots to the ‘guru shishya’ tradition of India.
  • Similarly the technique of Pranayama (breathing control), also emerged as a prominent feature of Tae Kwan do, Karate.

Bodhidharma

Boddidharma was a Brahmin born in Kacheepuram in Tamil Nadu. He arrived at the courts of the Chinese Emperor Liang Nuti, in 522 A.D. He taught the Chinese monks Kalarippayat, so that they could defend themselves against the frequent attacks of bandits. In due course, the monks became famous as experts in bare handed fighting, later known as the Shaolin boxing art. He introduced the concept of vital energy or chi (prana), which is the basis acupuncture.

When Buddhism came to influence India (circa 500 BC), the Deity Nataraja was converted to become one of the four protectors of Buddhism, and was renamed Nar (y)ayana Deva (Chinese: Na Lo Yen Tien). He is said to be a protector of the Eastern Hemisphere of the Mandala.

Vallamkali Boat Race

Vallamkali literally means boat race in Malayalam. It is the traditional boat (paddled war canoe) race in Kerala. This colorful spectacle of the race is performed on the banks of the river Pamba at Aranmulla where a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Nearly 30 chundan-vallams or snake boats participate in the festival. Singing traditional boat songs, the oarsmen, in white dhoti and turbans, splash their oars into the water to guide their boats to cruise along like a fish on the move. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a spectacular show of pageantry too.

Each snake boat belongs to a village along the banks of the River Pampa and is worshipped like a deity. Every year the boat is oiled mainly with fish oil, coconut shell, and carbon, mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and the boat slippery in the water. The village carpenter carries out annual repairs lovingly and people take pride in their boat, which represents their village and is named after it.

The one end of the boat is shaped like cobra’s head and it is from this shape that boat has derived its name. Skilled craftsmen and a lot of patience meticulously craft each boat. The boat is about 100 feet long and usually made of anjili or sometimes teak and kadamb wood is also used.

Legend is that The King of Champakesari had one boat to be made that would require about hundred boatmen to row. By using the same he defeated his rival King of Kayamukham. The vanquished king sent his spies to find the secret of mysterious boat. They spy emotionally involved the daughter and wife of the manufacturer and learnt the art of boat making and returned to Kayamukham.

The race unites boatmen in a team to win the race. It has now turned out to be a big tourist attraction. Likewise almost every state in India has one or more martial games like peg picking or taming violent animals with bare hands as a show of their masculine powers.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 50/72 – Aerial Warfare in Ancient India)

Splashes– 48/72 – The Art of Warfare

Omnipresent, Omniscience and Omnipotent are the attributes of God. The Supreme Being is kind, merciful, and gracious but is most destructive as well. This aspect is pictorially well expressed through Hindu mythology.

Importance of Weapons

HE is always shown carrying flowers to indicate His power of blessing, conch shell to symbolize His warnings to the evil-doer, and weapons to destroy the evil. The Supreme Power is always portrayed in calm and composed disposition, without any signs of anger, revenge or hatred even when engaged in the destruction of evil. Every God and Goddess is also shown possessing weapons for the protection of Dharma – to restore natural law and order in the Universe.

Weapons were respected, ‘worshiped’ and sought after as blessings and boons from learned Rishies and superior deities through penance or other rituals. Though non-violence is regarded as supreme virtue, cowardice is considered as biggest sin. Heroic death is preferable over comfortable but inglorious life. Self-defense and protection of Dharma is a sacred duty for which sanction has been accorded in the scriptures as under:-

अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा त्थैवः चः

“Although nonviolence is ideal but violence for protection or restoration of Dharma is also the same”.

Scriptures cannot be defended without power and weapons. That is the reason the mother goddess Shakti is reverend in Hinduism. The Supreme Being has exemplified it on several occasions through His incarnations and has indicated His commitment to repeat the same from time to time.

The right of Self Defense 

Nature has equipped every living being with suitable tools for self-defense, such as teeth, claws, physical strength and evasive instincts to protect own life. Even the most docile animals and persons make use of the same. Since Dharma compressed in the concept of ‘live, and let live’, contemplation of planned and deliberate war is justified for the protection of ‘dharma’ in discharge of one’s duty.

Many often offensive action is the only and best form of defense. Hinduism justified and preferred war in protection of Dharma than submission to the evil forces of adharma. The great Mahabharata war was commended by Krishna for restoration of values in the society even against own kith and kin.

The Battlefield Environment

Ancient Hindu scriptures contain comprehensive instructions regarding the conduct of ‘Dharm yudh’ for protection and restoration of DharmaRamayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas make frequent mention of battlefield organizations, rank structure such as Rathi and Maha-rathies. Chaturangani Sena implied four elements under one field commander consisting of chariots (armored), horsemen, foot soldiers and services. Modern armies also have the same components.

Scripture mention about fortifications and there is exhaustive catalog of weaponry. A canon was called ‘Shataghni’. There were agni-astras, or weapons of fire, chemical astras (warheads) as well as biological warheads that could be shot or launched. The wars were fought on land, water, and air.

Principles of Warfare

Even if we assume for a moment those account to be fictional, yet the comprehension of all the principles of modern warfare and maneuvers have been depicted to present an advanced scenario of the battlefield. Unlike other epics of the globe, wars were not confined to one instance of cuddling few soldiers in a dummy horse to be dragged in to the rival camp, but Ramayana and Mahabharata battles were fought at the scale of world wars, simultaneously in different theaters spread over far off fronts for several days, but according to central command and control of the rival Commanders in Chief.

All the factors that influence modern war such as superiority of numerical strength and weaponry, aggressive action, tactics, personal chivalry, morale, planting of information, night attacks, raids, and suicidal missions have been amply illustrated to indicate the professionalism of Indian warriors and match all the standards of advanced armies of the present century also. By no stretch of imagination the Rishies could be equated to thriller writers or war correspondents of today.

Use of Battle insignia 

The origin and use of flags can be traced to the Rig Veda Samhita. The term dhvaja (flag) occurs in the Veda. Besides, dhvaja, there are good number of expressions for a banner in Vedic literature. These are Akra, Krtadhvaja, Ketu, Brhatketu, and Sahasraketu. Banners and drums were counted among the insignia of ancient Vedic kings. In the Mahabharata war, every commander had his own insignia to distinguish his army division from the other’s.

Missiles and Launchers 

Ancient Hindus knew the use of gunpowder. The Shukra Neeti is an ancient text that deals with the manufacture of arms such as rifles and guns. Its author Shukracharya was the Guru of demons and possessed equal capability to match the army of Devas.

Alexander mentioned in a letter to Aristotle that terrific flashes of flame were showered on his army in India. It was the fear of Military might of Emperor Ghana Nanda of the Magdha empire, that soldiers of Alexander did not dare to advance towards him and forced the world conqueror to return home.

Rockets were also Indian inventions and were used by native armies when Europeans first came into contact with them. Eliot tells us that the Arabs learnt the manufacture of gunpowder from India, and that before Indian connection they had used arrows of naphtha.

Codes of Military Honor

The ancient Hindus had evolved precepts on fair fighting which formed a chivalrous code of military honor. Wars were characterized by less violence and savagery than wars fought elsewhere. The indiscriminate slaughter of all men of adult age or the enslavement of women and children of the conquered state were hardly known. Nowhere in the history of ancient India would one trace even a single incident of rape or arson before or after the war.

It goes to the credit of Indian culture that ethical codes were also part of military tactics, Warriors were to refrain from attacking the unarmed and unaware opponents, females, non-participants, places of worship, hospitals, and residential complexes and the battle camps at night. These codes were the precursors of Geneva conventions today, that are violated by our adversaries.

Shipbuilding and Navigation

The Rig Veda makes several references to ships used to cross the Samudra (Ocean). India was a peninsula cut off from the Northern world by the Himalayas, and by vast expanses of water on the Eastern and Western side. India had to take to shipping, if she wanted to export her immense surplus goods.

The art of Navigation was born in the River Sindhu 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word Nav Gatih. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit `Nou‘. The Rig Veda not only refer to River Saraswati as Hiranyavartani, (path of gold), and the Sindhu as Hiranmayi (possessing gold), it also makes a direct reference to panned-gold from the Saraswati riverbed.

Trade was also a big part of this civilization. Indians traded with the Egyptians, with the Sumerians acting as intermediaries using ships. In the third century, horses were exported from India to the Malay Peninsula and Indochina, by means of ships of considerable size.

History of Indian Navy

In Indian mythology, Varuna is the God of Seas and Rivers. The Devas and Danavas, who were the sons of Rishi Kashyapa by queens Aditi and Diti, churned the ocean, in order to obtain Amrut, the nectar of immortality and other treasures. Even today the invocation at the launching ceremony of a war-ship is addressed to ‘Aditi’.

The Rig Veda credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes commonly used by ships, and describes naval expeditions using hundred-oared ships to subdue other kingdoms. There is a reference to Plava, the side wings of a vessel that give stability under storm conditions: perhaps the precursor of modern stabilizers. Similarly, the Atharva Veda mentions boats, which were spacious, well-constructed and comfortable.

The Rig Veda mentions the two oceans to the east and the west, (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) just as they mention ships and maritime trade. The picture of the Vedic people as sea-faring merchants meshes perfectly with the archaeological evidence of the Indus-Saraswati civilization. India’s maritime history predates the birth of western civilization. The world’s first tidal dock was built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Harappan civilization, near the present day Mangrol harbor on the Gujarat coast.

The Sanskrit text, Yuktikalpataru, explains how to build ships, such as the one depicted in the Ajanta caves. It gives minute details about ship types, sizes and materials, including suitability of different types of wood. The treatise also elaborately explains how to decorate and furnish ships so they are comfortable for passengers. Yuktikalpataru gives a detailed classification of ships.

Two Indian astronomers of repute, Aryabhatta and Varahamihira, having accurately mapped the positions of celestial bodies, developed a method of computing a ship’s position from the stars. A forerunner of the modern magnetic compass called Matsya Yantra was used. It comprised an iron fish that floated in a vessel of oil and pointed towards North.

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya established an Admiralty Division under a Superintendent of Ships as part of his war office.  Charter of his responsibility included navigation on the seas, oceans, lakes and rivers. Indian ships traded with Java and Sumatra, and with countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Trade linkages also existed between Philippines and with the powerful Hindu empires in Java and Sumatra.

To the east, Indian mariners had gone as far as Borneo and flourishing Indian colonies had existed for over 1,200 years in Malaya, the islands of Indonesia, in Cambodia, Champa and other areas of the coast. Indian ships from Quilon, made regular journeys to the South China coast.

The Indian Ocean, including the entire coast of Africa, had been explored centuries ago by Indian navigators. Indian ships frequented the East African ports and certainly knew of Madagascar.

To the awakened Western world, conquest of India was virtually the conquest over the world. Dream of World conquest remained unfulfilled for Alexander and he had to retreat without fighting the Indian Emperor. His successor Seleucus attacked India but he also had to beg peace from Chandragupta Maurya by offering his daughter in marriage. Such was the military might of India at the very beginning of our history.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 49/72 – Martial Arts of India)

Splashes – 45/72 – Melodiously mystifying Music

Right from celestial beings to humans, every Hindu is individually attached to music in some form. Hindu’s and life without music is considered hellish. The arts of vocal singing, instrumental performance and dance are wrapped within the definition and scope of Music.

Ancient Texts on Music

Indian system of music is the oldest in the world as a written science. Sama Veda deals with the subject of music in addition to religion and philosophy. Musical notes and intervals were analyzed and mathematically calculated in the Indian treatises on music. Instrumental music was a part of music from very early days and Hindus had a variety of percussion, wind and stringed instruments.

Musical instruments have been associated with Gods and goddesses. Shiva danced Tandava to the beats of his own Damroo while Saraswati, the goddess of learning is depicted playing a Veena. Krishana played flute that inspired gopies (milk-maids) to dance. Sage Narda, Ravana and Pandva prince Arjuna are also associated with Veena while Arjuna was well versed in tutering dance also. Apasaras and Gandharvas are considered to be exponents in music and are celestial performers.

Apart from Sama Veda, Bhart Muni’s Natya Shastra is comprehensive treatise on music and drama. It is a fore runner of opera and provides a detailed account of stagecraft and theory of music. There is also a very detailed discussion of the musical instruments. The second part of Narada Purana deals primarily about the art of music. The theory explained there in is the foundation of Indian music. The formation of seven note scales (swara- saptaks), Low, middle and higher octaves (Mandra, Madhya and Taar Sthanas), modes (moorchhanas), natural and complex movements (shuddha, and koota taanas) have been explained. It is noteworthy to contrast that till first century, western music had only five notes in vogue and there was no theory at all till Aristotle provided some format.

Development of Musical Art

Worship of sound (Nada-upasana) is thought to be an important means for attaining Moksha (total contentment).The highest musical experience is the divine bliss (ananda). This devotional approach to music is a significant feature of Indian culture. The art of Vedic chant was an essential element of Vedic rituals. The references in Vedic literature, the epics, and other scriptures, show that it was a highly developed secular art centuries before the Christian era.

The Vedic hymns, like all Hindu poetry, were sung. Those travelled from temples to royal courts and to common folk being integral part of festivals. The form of music also changed accordingly from mystic to classical and thereafter as folk music that is called popular music or pop music. Chandogya Upanishada helped the priests to sing the Samans properly for the pleasure of Gods. The Samans could either be sung or played on the Veena. That became the basis of later Bhakti movements, where all other rituals and sacrifices were given up to be replaced by simple Bhakti expressed through devotional music. Music developed as a means of pleasure in the courts later, during Muslim period.

Besides generation of concepts, later to be known as Binary figures and Pascal Triangle during third century BC; Pingala was the first to introduce an important concept in the field of music also. According to his view, Shruti was to be the shortest unit of the musical sound (Nada) that could be imitated or reproduced. Shruties are capable of generating vibrations in the air that are conducive to be used in music. Today, in the musical jargon shruties are placed between micro-tones and semi-tones, though the equation is not exact. Two or more shruties create Swara (Natural Musical Notes). Indians were the first to identify musical notes. In Indian Music all notes are not made of equal number of shruties, while in Western music all natural notes have two semitones except F and B notes.

The development of Western music also followed more or less similar pattern. It started with choral chants in Church, traveled to Royal Chambers and reached the masses through Operas and Public performances during its Classical age in seventeenth Century. The origin of Western music theory is attributed to Aristotle and Pythagoras in third century BC.

The first millennium provides us with several texts that show the evolution of Indian music. The Brihaddeshi written by Matanga Rishi (700 A.D.) is very important.  It is in this work that we first find the word ‘Raag’ mentioned.  Another important text is the ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’ by Sharangdeva.  This work, written around the thirteenth century, gives extensive commentaries about numerous musical styles that existed at that time.

Scales and Ragas 

Indian music is based upon a system of Ragas that are derived from scales (Thaata) and reflect a particular mood. The term Raga is derived from Sanskrit root – ranj or raj, literally meaning to color, but figuratively meaning to tinge with emotion and are assigned a specific time for performance. Musical notes of every Raaga, are selected with extreme care to maintain the mood and purity of the Swara-mala of Raaga. It is upon this basic structure that a musician or singer improvises according to his feeling within the strict rules of musical grammar, and the precision of timing given by the accompanying percussionist. Structural melody is the most fundamental characteristic of Indian music. As compared to India there is no time theory in Western music, and entire range of western scales can be compressed just in 5 scales of Indian music. Indian music has seventy two scales out of those 10 scales, Bilaval, Kalyana, Khamaj, Bhairava, Bhairavi, Kafi, Pooravi, Asavari, Marva and Todi are presently in vogue. Indian music is melody dominant while in Western music many often harmony and melody have equal share.

Indians were original and far ahead of Western musicians. They subdivided the octave in 22 Shruties, while the latter have only 12 Semitones in an octave. Further by taking the initial letter of the Notes Indians improvised Swaramalika that can be sung as – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni. The Persians also borrowed these notes. During eleventh century Guido d’ Arezzo introduced them in Europe in the form of Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti. Subsequently different notation systems prevalent in European Countries were standardized and first seven Alphabets of English language were picked up to identify seven musical notes. These notes cannot be vocalized and have to be substituted with musical phonetics such as Yo yo, la la or something else convenient to the singer. There are several other disparities and handicaps but those are beyond the scope at present.

Indian concepts in the West

Of late western composers are experimenting Micro tonality to have 24 sub-divisions within an octave. However their newly designed keyboard having one black and one white keys is yet to gain acceptance. In contrast the Indian micro tonality of 22 shruties within octave is a well-known nuance of expert Indian vocalists.  This can also be demonstrated on Sarangi that is a fretless bowed instrument to accompany vocalists.

The Minimalism is another new trend wherein a simple melodic motif is repeated over and over with prolonged chords in harmony. It is like repetition of cosmic sound OM using three notes harmonized against the prolonged vibration of similar sound emanating from the revolution of other heavenly bodies.

Development of Opera took place during Gupta Period from 4th to the 6th century AD. This was the classic period of Sanskrit literature, culminating in the drama of Kalidasa and his other contemporaries. Same time is assigned to the amalgamation of music and drama to entertain aristocracy. During Bhakti movement Kirtan was a popular format of devotional music. The same format has now been adopted in Disco, wrap and Rock style for the purpose of entertainment often under the influence of drugs. 

The contribution of Film music directors deserves to be mentioned for blending classical music with folk music and carrying the same to masses in the form of popular (Pop) music. In this field of compositions, maestro Naushad has towered his contemporaries with several successful experimentations. Indian film music is more popular all over the world.

Indian Dance

India has a proud history of dance dating back to 5000 BC. The earliest available ‘evidence’ of dance in India is the figurine of the ‘dancing girl’ found at the Harappa excavation in IndusValley.

According to Natya Shastra, Nritta, Nrithya and Natya are the three aspects of dance.

  • Nritta means pure and simple dance. This involves movements of the body and limbs, for a decorative effect, without conveying any meaning.
  • Nrithya lays emphasis of expressions, to convey the meaning of the rendering. Nrithya involves facial expressions, gestures and symbolic poses.
  • Natya includes drama through the use of spoken word, apart from Nritta and Nrithya.

According to Natya Shastra dance originated when sage Bharata approached Lord Shiva with a request to give the world an art form through which the essence of the Vedas could be propagated to everybody. Hence Shiva took parts from the four Vedas to create Panchama Veda of Natya. He took Nada from Rig Veda, swara from Samaveda, acting from Atharvaveda and chanting from Yajurveda. On Shiva’s request Parvati performed the elegant Lasya style of dance. She taught this to the Asura princess Usha who eventually propagated it in the western parts of present India. Shiva (in the form of Nataraja) is the presiding deity of dance.

Vishnu in the form of Mohini is said to have danced with Bhasmasura. Krishna is also said to have danced over the head of the deadly snake Kaliya. He is well-known to have danced the Raas with the Gopies of Vrindavan.

The other form of Dance originated by Shiva is Tandava that is most energetic and known as dance of cosmic destruction.

There are several dance styles out of which Bharat Natyam, Kathaka, Katha-Kali, Kuchipudi, and Manipuri are the most popular classical forms. In addition there are several folk dances representing India’s diverse culture. Most of the folk dances fall under the basic category of Tandava or Lasya. Bhangra dance from Punjab and Garba dance from Gujarat are conspicuous examples.

A Living Paradise

Volumes can be written to explain the variety of Music and Dances of India for the inquisitive mind. Folk music and folk dances have been part and parcel of Hindu society in every shade of life. The colorful life style of Indians have remained a big attraction for other nations of the world.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 46/72 – Origin of Political Thought )

Splashes – 34/72 – Indian Contributions towards Physics

Philosophy and Science are deeply related. Ideas precede inventions. Philosophers generate ideas and scientists shape them. The two functions might be combined in one person or more. The founders of Western scientific thought were also philosophers. So were the Indians. Indian scientists were called Ashvins.

The Beginning of Physics

Today the text books on Physics tell that matter lays in three states, that are solid, liquid and gas. This statement tells the condition of matter at some particular time only. The forms and shapes can change. The properties of different kinds of matter are the subjects covered under the Science of Physics.

Vedas were the first text books on Physics. The compiled knowledge about matter and its properties came to humans originally through the text of Vedas that provided the first, foremost and subtle knowledge about basic elements (Panch Bhuta) of Nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Ether; out which rest of the things have come in to existence. The process of acquiring knowledge about the composition of different things, properties, and establishing cause to the effects has been a continuously ongoing process.

Vedanga and Vedanta carried forward the studies in Physics. Upanishdas, Darshana Shastras and Puranas are the sources that contain mantras explaining properties of various natural phenomena and link causes to the effects. All Mantras are not meant for spiritual development. Most of them contain vast knowledge in compressed form, like zipped files, and need further expansion.

Format of Texts

Those days even the scientific writing was also done in poetic Chhandas, economized within the given structure of the metric measure. That served as an aid for memorizing. Mostly the style of writings was either in ‘Ode’ format. The author ‘addressed’ the ‘Subject’ and narrated the properties and utilities before seeking the effect. Another style used in ancient texts was a dialogue between the Rishi and disciples. This style offered explanation with examples also. 

Example of the knowledge content

Atharva Veda is mostly devoted to Physics.  It stated that there are seven fundamental elements of matter. Those are (1) Dhara (Earth), (2) Jala (Water), (3) Teja (Fire), (4) Vayu (Wind), (5) Khitija (Horizon), (6) Tanmatra (Quantity) and (7) Ghamanda (Ego).

Further, every kind of matter is possessed by three Gunas (qualities) of (1) Satvik, (2) Rajasik and (3) Tamsik. That implied that all matters can cause beneficial, dormant and harmful effects.

By different permutations and combinations of seven fundamental matter and three Gunas, 21 more products could be formed.

Likewise, another Treatise Vaisheshika Darshana Shastra lists out Prithavi (Earth), Jala (Water), Agni  (Fire), Vayu (Wind), Akasha (Horizon), and adds Kala (Time), Disha (Direction), Atma (Soul) and Mana (mind).

The properties of those are briefly  explained below:-

Prithavi- Earth element has qualities of smell, shape, taste and touch, out of which smell is most significant.

Jala – Water qualities are Taste, Touch and shape. Taste is most significant. Presence of Water is identified through coolness in matter. The warmth in Water denotes the presence of Fire element.

Agni – Fire element has qualities of shape and touch, out of which shape is most significant. 

Vayu – Wind element has distinct quality of touch. 

Akasha – Ether element has qualities of sound. It is formless, but where ever sound can be heard, presence of this element is confirmed. Ear drums are the recipients of this property.

Kala – Time causes origin, state and destruction of everything. For practical interpretation, it has been conceptualized into hours, days, months, age, present, past and future.

Disha For practical application there are ten directions that have been conceptualized for the origin, existence and expiration of matter.

  • These are four cardinal points East, West, North and South.
  • Four corners North East, South East, South West, and North West.
  • Two sides, Surface and Bottom

Atma – Awareness is the sign of Atma. Awareness is not the identity or qualification of senses, because previous knowledge continues to stay even after destruction or mal- functioning of the sense that had acquired knowledge in the past. It implies that Atma experienced knowledge and is separate from senses. Desire, feelings, efforts, comfort and discomfort are separate from body and are the identity of Atma.

Mana – It is a tool to experience various sensory feelings.

The above illustrations depict that spirituality has been neatly blended with the subject of pure science Physics. It is not necessary to use only European terminology to look authentic. Explaining subtle scientific facts through artistically woven mythological stories has been the hall mark of Hindu religion.

Scope of Hindu Scriptures

Scientific gems are lying scattered throughout in Hindu Scriptures like Vedas, Vedangas, Vedants Purans and Epics. Modern physics confirmed that the Sun’s rays travel in a curved way, but not in a straight line. The same fact our ancestors had artistically explained through mythology that seven horses tied by snakes drew Sun’s chariot. As the movements of the snakes are crooked and curved, so also are the sun’s rays. This phenomenon has been poetically described in scriptures:

भुजंगनः मितः सप्तः तुर्गः

Similarly the Atharva Veda explained another scientific truth about Sunlight that there are seven colors in the white ray of the Sun. Sun rays contain blend of seven colors:

सप्तः सूर्य्स रसम्यः। 

Contribution of Indian Scientists

In the realm of physics, Indian scientists have made remarkable contributions.

  • Rishi Kanada, the founder of the Vaisesika system of philosophy, expounded that the entire matter in this world consisted of atoms, as many in kind as there were various elements. About light he explained that light and heat are variations of the same reality. He is the fore-father of Atomic Science. Jain thinkers went a step further. They thought that all atoms are the same kind and variety emerged because they entered into different combinations.
  • Sushrut explained that we are able to see the objects around us due to the light falling on them. Aryabatta also supported his views later. In contrast, Greek scientists held the view that objects are seen because of light in the eyes.
  • Varahmihir in sixth century explained how shadows were cast.
  • Chakrapani was the first to explain that light and sound traveled through waves, but the speed of light was many times faster than the sound waves.
  • Pratispda further elaborated that sound waves travelled in the shape of concentric circles and every sound wave has a corresponding echo.
  • Vachaspati interpreted light as composed of minute particles emitted by substances striking the eyes. This is a clear anticipation of the corpuscular theory of light, which was proposed by Newton, but was rejected till the discovery of the proton.

Gravitation and Astro-Physics

The theory of gravity found its existence in Yajur Veda that explains that the Earth is kept in space owing to the superior attraction of the Sun. Scholars of the Gupta period were already acquainted with the movement of the heavenly bodies, the reasons for eclipses of the Sun and the Moon.

  • Aryabhatta put forward a brilliant thesis regarding the Earth’s rotation on its axis. As regards the stars being stationary, Aryabhatta stated that starry vault was fixed, but the earth moving round its axis, again and again caused the rising and setting of planets and stars. He also described the Polar days and nights of six months duration. Aryabhatta affirmed the diurnal revolutions of the earth on its axis. He wrote that when the sun rose in Sri Lanka, it was midday in Yavakoti (Java) and midnight in the Roman land. Yavadvipa, a Sanskrit name mentioned in the Ramayana, to which Sugriva sent search parties looking for Sita, was the ancient name of Java. As regards to the size of the earth, he calculated the circumference of the earth as 4,967 Yojanas and its diameter as 1,581 1/24 Yojanas.  A Yojana is equal to five English miles, and the calculation tallies with modern calculations. The circumference of the Earth works out to be 24, 835 miles, with its diameter as 7, 905 5/24 miles. He also wrote a textbook Aryabhatta Siddhantafor working out astronomical calculations.  Even today, this data is used in preparing Hindu calendars (Panchangs) giving most accurate results.
  • Brahmagupta, (598 AD – 665 AD) is known for introduction of negative numbers and operations on Zero in Arithmetic. His main work was Brahmasphuta Siddhanta, which was a corrected version of an old astronomical treatise Brahma Siddhanta. From his time the Hindus were aware of the length of diameter and circumference of the earth.
  • Varahamihira in 6th century produced valuable material relating to Astronomy, Geography and Mineralogy in his work Brihat-Samhita. It is stated that one half of the moon, whose orbit lies between the sun and the earth, is always bright by the Sun’s rays;  while the other half is always dark by its own shadows, like the two sides of a pot standing in the sunshine. Explaining eclipse of the Moon and Sun, he wrote that Moon enters into the Earth’s shadow; and in Solar eclipse the same thing happens to the Sun. He further explained the commencement of a lunar eclipse does not take place from the Western side. The solar eclipse does not take place from the Eastern side. He gave the calculation of eclipses; independent of any reference to the mythological ‘Rahu Ketu’ episode.
  • Bhaskaracharya knew the law of gravitation. In a verse in Sidhanta Shiromani, he held that the Earth is endowed with the power of attraction. It drags with own power heavy objects on the sky.  It appears that objects are falling but actually they are not, they are only being dragged by the power of attraction of the Earth. When everything on the sky drags each other equally there is no question of objects on Earth to fall. It is explained that Earth, planets, stars, Moon, and Sun – each of them is being dragged by the other with its respective power of attraction and as a result of this attraction none of them is removed from their axis. This theory was deliberated in the Siddhanta Shiromani centuries before Newton was born. According to Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya the diameter was calculated to be 7182 miles, some calculated that to be 7905 miles, while modern scientists take it to be 7918 miles. Bhaskara is renowned for his concept of Tatkalik-agati (instantaneous motion).

Last but not the least, none of the Hindu scientists suffered the fate of poor Galileo for making new discoveries. 

Chand K Sharma

Next: Splashes – 35/72 -India’s Technological Contributions

 

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