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Posts tagged ‘Mahabharata’

Let Mahabharata guide Advani

Surprisingly, even after six decades of independence, the resignation letter from BJP Stalwart LK Advani was written in English. What inference can be drawn that the senior most BJP leader opted to communicate with Party President hailing from Hindi dominant state in English? It speaks volumes against Advani that his he has no faith in the National language to convey his thoughts adequately to another Indian Colleague although he continues swearing revival of Bhartiya Sanskriti to reach Prime Minister’s Office.

Most of the Indian political parties today, including Congress, are being controlled as Family fiefdoms where ‘Party Boss’ has absolute power to reverse decisions arrived at to the family. In contrast to this, BJP is the only cadre based political party functioning according to its constitutional provisions. The mutual relationships in BJP are governed by the party constitution and not according to considerations of age or personal equations. Why should Advani be allowed to question the elevation of Narendra Modi done by the constitutional body? Airing his grudge in public against a party decision was a clear violation of constitutional norms by Advani. He ought to have demonstrated respect towards party discipline.

Recently in his blog LK Advani referred to the agony of Bhisham Pitamah to draw a parallel to him. Mahabharata depicts various situations of human society wrapped in all the shades of passion. The entire conflict in the epic is about victory of Dharma over Adharma. Their statements are more relevant today in respect of ongoing rift in BJP leaders. Advani’s obvious grudge stemmed out from indifferent attitude of Sangh Parivar and some of the party office bearers to his advice about running party affairs. That inspired him to conclude publicly that most of the party leaders were selfish and did not have any concern for the wellbeing of motherland. By thoughtless sweeping statement without naming anyone, Advani damaged the party image when elections are near.

Advani ought to have remembered that It is the prerogative of the Party President to assign duties to various members of his team depending upon their capabilities. Why there should be a pre-condition to seek approval from Advani on every matter acted upon by the Party President? Going by Mahabharta Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi did not violate any ethics by performing their assigned duties even if that went contrary to the aspirations of LK Advani. Arjuna had to fight against his near relations such as Bhisham Pitamaha and his Guru Dronacaharya. It is obligatory for every individual committed to Dharma (the order in the Society) to discharge his duties objectively.

Although Advani has now consented to continue in the party, he has caused irreparable damage to himself and party. By washing his dirty linen in front of press, he embarrassed everyone. The allegations made by him will continue to haunt him and he will be chased to substantiate by his opponents. The party functionaries have done well by showing respect to bring him back, but hence forth Advani is not likely to draw the same respect from rank and file that he was used to. He will live as an unwanted guest. In all fitness of situation he has now no other option but to lie low, stay aloof and at appropriate time when the dust raised by him gets settled, make an exit not only from Politics but public life. His innings are over.

Chand K Sharma

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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– 50/72 – Aerial Warfare in Ancient India

The ancient Indian epics go into considerable detail about aerial warfare over 10,000 years ago. Aerial battles and chases are common in ancient Hindu literature. The functions of military planes that have been given in detail read like science fiction today, but factual possibility cannot be ruled out either.

The aerial vehicles described therein (vimana) fell into two categories:

  • Airplanes that could fly in a mysterious manner and were generally not made by earthly human beings. Those are described in ancient works such as the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas. They have many features reminiscent of UFOs.
  • Man-made craft that resembled airplanes and flew with the aid of bird-like wings. The machines of this category are described mainly in medieval and secular Sanskrit works dealing with architecture.

Aeronautics in Ancient Literature

What we know about ancient Indian flying vehicles comes from written texts in Sanskrit that have come down to us through the centuries. There are literally hundreds of them and most of them have not even been translated into English. Some of the ancient texts are mentioned as follows:-

  1. The Rig Veda: There are at least 20 passages in the Rig Veda that refer exclusively to the three-storied, triangular and three-wheeled flying machines of the scientists called Ashvins. The machines were made of gold, silver and iron, and had two wings. At least three passengers could be carried through them.

The Vedas described vimana of various shapes and sizes; such as the Ahnihotra-vimana with two engines, the ‘elephant-vimana’ with more engines, and other types named after the kingfisher and other animals.  The Rig Veda has references to the following modes of transportation:-

  • Jalayan – designed to operate in air and water. (Rig Veda 6.58.3)
  • Kaara – operated on ground and in water. (Rig Veda 9.14.1)
  • Tritala – a vehicle consisting of three stories. (Rig Veda 3.14.1)
  • Trichakra Ratha – a three-wheeled vehicle designed to operate in the air. (Rig Veda 4.36.1)
  • Vaayu Ratha – a gas or wind-powered chariot. (Rig Veda 5.41.6)
  • Vidyut Ratha – a vehicle that operated on Electric power. (Rig Veda 3.14.1).
  1. The Yujur Veda: The Yujur Veda also described the movement a flying machine that was used by the Ashvins (two heavenly twins) to rescue King Bhujyu from distress at sea.
  2. The Vaimanika Shastra: The Vaimanika Shastra, written by Rishi Bhardwaja, was rediscovered in 1875 from a temple in India. The text referred to about 97 previous works about Aeronautics out of which at least 20 works dealt with the mechanism of aerial Flying Machine. Of course none of the previous works are now traceable but the text of Vaimanika Shastra has been translated into English. It deals with the operation of Vimans:
  • The text has eight chapters with diagrams; describing three types of aircraft, including apparatuses that would be fire-proof and un-breakable.
  • It also mentions 31 essential parts of these vehicles and 16 materials from which they are constructed. As the recommended materials could absorb light and heat; they were considered suitable for the construction of vimana.
  • It included information on precautions during long flights, such as steering, protection of the airships from storms and lightning, and how to switch the drive to solar energy from a free energy source that sounds like anti-gravity.
  • The position and functioning of the solar energy collectors are described. It said that eight tubes had to be made of special glass capable of absorbing the Sun’s rays. Though the details are comprehensive but some of those are unintelligible.
  1. Yantra Sarvasva: This work is also attributed to Sage Bhardwaja. It consists of as many as 40 sections of which the Vaimanika Prakarana dealing with aeronautics has 8 chapters. About hundred topics have been explained in 500 sutras.  Sage Bhardwaja classified airplanes (vimans) into three categories:-
  • Domestic airplanes – that could travel from place to place;
  • International airplanes – that could travel from one country to another;
  • Interplanetary airplanes – that could travel between planets.

Of special concern among those were the military planes whose functions were delineated in some very considerable detail and which match to the science fiction of today. For instance, those aircrafts had the following capabilities:-

  • Impregnable, unbreakable, non-combustible and indestructible. They were capable of coming to a dead stop in the twinkling of an eye;
  • Invisible to enemies;
  • Technically proficient to see and record things, persons, incidents and situations going on inside enemy planes;
  • Know at every stage the direction of the movement of other aircraft in the vicinity;
  • Capable of rendering the enemy crew into a state of suspended animation,
  • Intellectual to recover from complete loss of consciousness;
  • Capable of destruction;
  • Manned by pilots and co-travelers who could adapt in accordance with the climate in which they moved;
  • Temperature regulated from inside;

Constructed of very light and heat absorbing metals; provided with mechanisms that could enlarge or reduce images and enhance or diminish sounds.

Notwithstanding the fact that such contraption would resemble a cross between an American state-of-the-art Stealth Fighter and a flying saucer, it adequately points to the existence of concept that air and space travel were well-known to ancient Indians and airplanes flourished in India when the rest of the world was just learning the rudiments of agriculture.

  1. The Samarangana Sutradhara: It is a scientific treatise dealing with every possible angle of air travel in a Vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with the construction, take-off, cruising at thousands of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible collisions with birds.

In the Samarangana Sutradhara five flying machines were originally built for the gods such as Brahma, Vishnu, Yama, Kubera and Indra. More additions were made later. Four main types of flying Vimans are described:

  • Rukma: The Rukma were conical in shape and dyed gold.
  • Sundara: Sundara were like rockets and had a silver sheen.
  • Tripura: The Tripura was three-storied.
  • Sakuna: The Sakuna looked like birds.

Ten sections deal with uncannily topical themes such as pilot training, flight paths, the individual parts of flying machines, as well as clothing for pilots and passengers, and the food recommended for long flights.

The texts also explained how to clean metals, the acids such as lemon or apple to be used and the correct mixture, the right oils to work with and the correct temperature for them.

Seven types of engine are described with the special functions for which they are suited and the altitudes at which they work best. The catalogue is not short of data about the size neither of the machines, which had stories, nor of their suitability for various purposes.

The movements of the Vimana are such that it can vertically ascend, vertically descend, and move slanting forwards and backwards.

  1. Katha Saritsagara: This work refers to highly talented woodworkers called Rajyadhara and Pranadhara. While Rajyadhara was so skilled in mechanical contrivances that he could make ocean crossing chariots, Pranadhara manufactured a flying chariot to carry a thousand passengers in the air. These chariots were stated to be as fast as thoughts.

The Arthasastra of Kautilya mentions amongst various tradesmen and technocrats, the Sauvikas as pilots to fly vehicles in the sky. Kautilya used another significant word ‘Akasa Yodhinah’, which has been translated as persons who are trained to fight from the sky.  The existence of aerial chariots, in whatever form it might be, was so well-known that it found a place among the royal edicts of the Emperor Ashoka which were executed during his reign from 256 BC – 237 BC.

In the Vedic texts the configuration of the machines has been broadly shown as triangular, but the description of these machines in old Indian texts is amazingly precise to specific details. However the difficulty is that the texts mention various metals and alloys, which have not been identified so far. The above texts cannot be dismissed as mere fantasies without going into critical evaluation since most of the possibilities are realities of our age today. 

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 51/72 – Revealing Mohenjo-Daro Excavations)

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– 46/72 Origin of Political Thought

For the western world, the origin of political theory began with Greek philosophers, but Vedas show that the principle of representative government was in practice in India at least 1000 before the Greek philosophers were born. Political thinking had already been matured in India when Europeans started regrouping their tribes, and races in to tribal areas, societies and countries. Our Rishies had suggested idea for the ‘Government for the Universe’ even much earlier.

Written Form of Governance

The Vedas and Manusumriti were the foundation, upon which not only Indian, but the Egyptian, Persians, Grecians and the Roman codes of law were built later. The ancient Hindu works on law are a marvel of simplicity and wisdom. The articles of Hindu code are composed and arranged in natural and luminous order. They are numerous, comprehensive and had been investigated with minute attention.

Whoever examined the whole texts cannot deny the efficacy of ancient jurisprudence, and the fact that the same was creation of an enlightened, logical and far-sighted society. Whoever looked into any particular title will be surprised by its minuteness of detail that goes beyond the attention of European legislation even today. There were charters of duties for the rulers, ministers, other officials and subjects as well. Rules of succession were clear and there is no instance where untimely death of a ruler caused a war for succession to go on for decades as it often took place on other parts of the globe.

Raj Guru to oversee Kingship

Dharma was the essence of governance. As a true welfare state, the Prajapati (King) was responsible for providing protection, justice, education, and health care to all the subjects. King was also obliged to adhere to Dharma. The Raj Gurus (Spiritual Mentors) acted as Ombudsmen to pronounce violations of Dharma and no one could be out of their jurisdiction. There was no escape route even for people in high position.

Concept of welfare state

During the epic age the concept of welfare state was visualized with Ram Rajya, a perfect Utopian concept of state governance.  Reference exists in Ramayana regarding voluntary abdication of power by the kings to enable younger generation to succeed. Rama sent his brother Lakshmana to Ravana to learn the art of state-craft as soon as the latter fell on the battlefield. To set an example that of an ideal king, Rama banished even his beloved wife when public suspicion was caused against her. Although Caesar’s wife is now quoted to be above suspicion, but how many rulers have dared to emulate that example?

Democratic Form of Governance

India, and certainly NOT England, is the mother of democracy. In fact, there was a democratic deity called Samajnana to whom the last hymn of the Rig Veda makes salutation. Republics existed in India at least as early as the days of the Buddha (6th century before Christ); and continued for at least a thousand years thereafter.

Each Hindu township was, a ‘community-republic’ by itself. The whole of India was one vast federal congeries of such republics – like United States of America. Though evidence for non-monarchical government goes back to the Vedas, republican states were most common during the Buddhist period. There was a complex vocabulary in Pali, Sanskrit, Buddhist and Brahmanical literature to describe the different types of groups that ran their own affairs.

Local self-government

India had developed a style of local self-government that endured up to modern times. It had developed an amazingly modern system of town and village planning, and almost fool-proof economic and social structure. It kept the country and its culture stable through disturbances and invasions.

There is no other country, ancient or modern, where republics existed and continued for so long a period. That was possible due to the spirit of freedom and democracy, which manifested in many forms among the Indian people from the earliest ages. The benevolent nature of Hindu civilization is proved by the fact that the Hindu settlements colonies and dependencies also enjoyed their own Constitution. India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.

There were many sovereign republics in India. It is pertinent from the Greek evidence, since the Greek writers spoke in a political language that is universally more familiar to the European world. Greek accounts of Alexander’s campaigns portray ‘free and independent’ Indian communities at every turn.

Nysa, a city on the border of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan was ruled by a president named Aculphis aided by a council of 300 persons.  Similar development is mentioned by Kautilya also, according to whom there were two kinds of Jana-padas (Republics), called Ayudhiya-praya; (Cantonments) made up mostly of soldiers; and shreni-praya, consisting of guilds of craftsmen, traders, and agriculturalists.  Furthermore, power in some republics was vested in a large number of individuals. In a well-known Jataka tale we are told that in Lichavi capital of Vaishali, there were 7707 kings, 7707 viceroys, 7707 generals, and 7707 treasurers!

Diplomacy and Espionage

The history of diplomacy in ancient India commences with the Rig Veda Samhita where the use of spies is sanctioned while pursuing some mission in general interest for the protection of Dharma.  There is also an interesting account of a successful espionage mission undertaken and executed by Brahspati’s son Kucha, on behalf of Indra to Demon kingdom in disguise to learn the science of Sanjeevani from Demon Guru Shukracharya. The love triangle between Kutch, Guru Shukracharya’s daughter Devyani and host princess Sharmishtha is the first recorded thrilling instance of knowledge espionage.

Apart from Vedas and Manusumriti, we also come across ‘Vidur Neeti’ during Mahabharata and Kautillya’s ‘Arathshastra’ that contain additional detail about the statecraft, diplomacy, spies, and related aspects of contemporary governance and administration.

The following corner stones of ancient diplomacy are very much relevant to our modern times also: –

  • Sama– according reciprocal treatment,
  • Dama – implying appeasement as tool to accomplish desired objectives.
  • Danda-coercion as tool to enforce own dictates.
  • Bheda– with-holding or revealing own intentions to serve own purpose.

Control over Corruption

Rig Veda contains comprehensive instructions for eradication of corruption. Spies (Spasah or Varuna) filled an important role in civil as well as military affairs of ancient India. In addition to their external duties, they were engaged to look after the home officials and those of the royal household.

Only men of wisdom and purity were employed on this errand. They were to be persons above the temptation of corruption. During Mauryan age, young females were brought up on snake poison and employed in assassination of rival chieftains through means of seduction.

Internal Secret Service

In the Ramayana, spies have been described as the ‘eyes of the king’. It may be surprising that In Valmiki Ramayana, when Sarupnakha went to Ravana with her bleeding nose, she chided him for being careless on his spy network, and asked him several questions, the substance of which would form a check list to conduct security audit of even our military installations.

Manusamriti also contains a full chapter on security and diplomacy during military campaigns. Kautilya’s Arthashastra is another comprehensive text-book on matters concerning diplomacy, internal security and intelligence network. The destruction of mighty Nanda Empire by Chankya and Chandragupta Maurya was a remarkable feat in history of sabotage, valor and wisdom.

In Mahabharata, it is stated that cows see by smell, priests by knowledge, kings by spies and others through eyes. Bhishama has listed seven essential qualifications in persons to be sent as ambassadors. They should come from noble heredity, belong to a high family, be skillful, eloquent in speech, true in delivering the mission, and have excellent memory. Mahabharata had galaxy of diplomats and statesmen out of whom Vidura, Krishna, Shalya and Shakuni were prominent.

Apart from Scriptures, it was the famous Indian strategist of the fourth-century BC, Kautilya, who gave the dictum: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Arthashastra predates Sun-Tzu and Christ by centuries. It dwelled at length on the importance of espionage and the creation of an effective spy network. Such details may indicate the high development of the science of diplomacy in ancient India.

Greek Ambassador Megasthenes has stated that Indians were neither engaged in wars with outsiders nor invaded by any foreign power”. There were friendly relations between Chandragupta Maurya and Seleucus Nikator. Their successors Bindusara and Antiochus also followed the same. Ashoka and Samadragupta also maintained diplomatic relations with Lanka.  Pulaski with Persians, and Harshavardhana established and maintained diplomatic friendly relations with Nepal and China. Certainly, that all had happened well before political awakening came elsewhere.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 47/72 – Hindus are a Nation)

Splashes – 44/72 – Ruins of Indian Architecture

The identity of every country reflects through the Language, Dress, Food and Architecture of its people. Despite being the oldest and richest civilization, Hindus in India have nothing left at their land to show younger generations that their ancestors had bridged the sea in Ramayana period, and built a house of wax in Mahabharata period, or had constructed grand Trunk Road from Patliputra in the East to Takshashila on North West frontier. Today India’s identity is only through Taj Mahal – a controversial tomb in marble housing the remains of Shahjahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. All our monuments have been destroyed while the few remains have disputed ownership with invaders.

Vaastu Shastra

Architecture is called Vaastu-Kala. Ancient text on this subject is Vaastu Shastra, a treatise attributed to Maya Danava, the father in law of demon King Ravana, who constructed the golden citadel of Lanka. On technical, aesthetic and scientific aspects Indian architecture has been greatly influenced by Vaastu Shastra’s instructions on planning layout of cities, buildings and locations.  Even today, Hindus spend a considerable amount to rectify non conformities of their buildings according to the suggestions made in Vaastu Shastra.

Several prosperous cities have been mentioned in Puranas centuries before the dawn of civilization on other part of the world. Just to mention the few those exist till date with names changed by invaders are Kashi (Varanasi), Prayag (Allahabad), Ayodhya (Faizabad), Mathura, Kashyapa-pur (Multan), Patliputra (Patna), Vaishali, Panchala (Ferozabad) and Indraprastha (Delhi). All of them were well planned and had centrally administered public utilities. Manusamruti contains an exclusive chapter on administration of public utilities.

Indus Valley Civilization

When people lived nomadic life, India was the first nation to have executed the science of Town Planning. Indian architecture has been traced to the Indus Valley civilization. Excavations carried at the sites have revealed remnants of unsurpassed in civil engineering. The towns had roads intersecting at right angles to one another. The major buildings in the citadel included a large granary and water tank or public bath.  There was elaborate drainage system of covered drains running the length of the main streets, connected by chutes most residences.

The great bath at Mohenjo-Daro, with a layer of bitumen as waterproofing, and adjoining well to supply water and an outlet to a large drain having finely built brick structure were available. Surrounding the bath were porticoes and set of rooms, while a stairway led to an upper level. An estimated 700 wells supplied Mohenjo-Daro residents with water and even the smallest house was connected to a drainage system. The impressive infrastructure of the Indus cities suggested an effective central authority.

Mauryan Period

The ruins of Mauryan period are great landmark in the history of Indian art. The Mauryan architecture was embalmed in timber. The art of polishing of wood had reached such perfection that master craftsmen used to make wood glisten like a mirror.  Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya had got constructed a wooden fort 14.48 km long and 2.41km wide, along the River Ganga in Bihar that housed many buildings and palaces. However, only a couple of teak beams have survived from this fort.

The earliest reservoir dam for irrigation was built-in Saurashtra. Later a beautiful lake called ‘Sudarshana’ was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya’s time.

Ashoka (3rd century BC) was the first Mauryan Emperor who began to think in stone. The stone-work of his period was of highly diversified order and composed of lofty free-standing pillars, railings of the stupas, lion thrones and other colossal figures. Even small fragments of stone art were given a high lustrous polish resembling fine enamel.

Ashoka pillar at Sarnath is one of the finest pieces of sculpture. Ashoka’s palace near Patna was a masterpiece. Enclosed by a high brick wall, the highlight of the palace was an immense high pillared-hall having three stories. The Chinese traveler Fa-hien was so impressed that he stated that to have been ‘made by spirits’ and that its carvings were so elegantly executed which no human hands could accomplish. The Ashoka period marked the beginning of the Buddhist School of architecture in India.

Gupta Period

Gupta period was the golden age of India, during which the caves of Ellora and Ajanta were dug out and frescoes painted. The Mighty caves of Ellora were carved out of solid rock with the stupendous Kailasa temple in the center. The caves of Elephanta, with the powerful and subtle Trimurti, also belong to this period. At the Rock temple on Elephanta-Island is a pillared hall, housing a towering three-headed bust of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The entrance to the temple was through a very lofty gateway. The amount of earth and rock that had been gouged by hand and later carved with great delicacy with rudimentary tools stands to testify the devotion of the followers of the ancient faith.

The ruins of Temples 

Although Islamic invaders destroyed most of the grand temples yet few temples in ruins stand out to narrate and evidence of their destruction

Meenakshi Temple Madurai – Dedicated to Lord Shiva Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest and ancient. According to legend Madurai was the actual site where the wedding of Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The temple is a geometrical marvel.  Everything here is larger than life. The soaring and exquisitely carved towers enclose the temple. There are four other entrances to the temple, under huge Gopuras in the four cardinal directions. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi about nine story high. The Mandapa is an impressive structure, with a hemispherical ceiling. The temple walls were studied with gold and precious stones. The 985 pillars produce musical sounds when struck. In 1310 AD Malik Kafur, a Hindu convert slave of Allauddin Khilji plundered and damaged the temple.

The Chain of Sun Temple

Sun has been regarded as the visible deity that provides life-sustaining energy and light for our solar system. There were several temples dedicated to Sun God such as Sun Temple at Multan (now in Pakistan), Martanda Temple (Kashmir), Katramal (Almora), Oshia (Rajasthan), Modhera (Gujarat) and Konark (Oddisha). All of them had impressive images of Sun God cast in pure gold but were ransacked by Islamic invaders. The impressive ruins of the following exist to narrate the destruction and plunder.

Konark – Konark Temple was one of the grandest temples of India for its architectural grandeur, the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the Sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style.

Modhera – This temple is situated along the banks of River Pashupati in Gujarat. It has been referred in Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana.  There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya. The Suryakund is finest example of geometry. The organization of stone into composition gives shape to a dazzling pattern of art. The entire temple is based on an inverted lotus-base plinth. It was designed such that the rays of the rising and setting sun on the day of equinox (when day and night is equal on 20 March and 21 September), fell on the bejeweled pure gold idol of Sun riding on his chariot driven by Saarthi Arun. The idol made of gold was plundered by Mahmud Gaznavi and finally destroyed by Allauddin Khilji.

Multan – Younger generations would hardly believe that a Sun Temple existed in Pakistan. Ancient name of Multan was Kashyapa Nagar and that was founded by Hiranyakashyupa where his sister Holika had attempted to put Prahlahd in a pier. During Mahabharata period, Kashyapa Nagar was the capital of Trigrataraja, who was defeated by Arjuna. Subsequently, the city was named Moola-sthana and Multan. In 324 BC the Macedonians under Alexander invaded Multan and, it was here that he was seriously wounded, which caused his death later.

Sun Mandir was situated on the old Fort Mound. It had an idol made of pure gold with two eyes made of bright red rubies. Mohammad Bin Qasim, ordered the idol to be removed. An underground chamber was also discovered, in which were found two hundred and thirty maunds (over quintal) of gold and forty huge jars filled with gold dust.

Rajput Period

The palaces of Datia are one of the most architecturally interesting buildings in India. It is also one of the most impressive. Conceived as a single unit, unlike the Moghul palaces, it towers above the little town of Datia like the work of an extinct race of giants. Each side is about 100 yards long rising from the bare rock so subtly that it is hard to tell where nature’s work ends and man’s begins. The impression is of immense strength, and only the skyline of flattened domes and cupolas gives any hint of the treasures within.

The temples of Dilwara and Khajuroho attract tourists all over the world to provide glimpses to remind us the rich spiritual heritage and aesthetic past India.

Though many of the finest temples and places were defaced and destroyed by Islamic invaders, Hindu Art in the Old Indian Colonies fortunately escaped to testify the magnificent achievement of Hindu architecture. There are some impressive monuments in South East Asia to testify the grandeur of India’s architectural past. Angkor Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Thailand is one such monument. The Angkor Temple ranks as chief wonder of the world today.

Recently an enthusiastic in Delhi had privately chartered a helicopter to photograph Kutab Minar from the top. The monument looked exactly a fully blossomed lotus, a sacred Hindu motif. The photographs were sent to several websites by the individual.

Hindus had thought and implemented the idea of bridging the sea when rest of the world did not know all the four oceans on the globe. Rama Setu is known as Adam’s Bridge. While grand monuments of other civilizations were made to house the remains of dead Kings such as Pyramids of Egypt, the monuments of grandeur in India were for the use of public.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 45/72 – Melodiously mystifying Music)

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