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#1166 - March 25, 2008 03:55 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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The British bled us

In my childhood, elders said India was once known as 'sone ki chidiya'. How can I believe it, looking at the clay bird it has become today. I have read many books on how the British exploited India. Some books like that by RC Dutta did convince me of their exploitation but, like many other Indians, I did not pay heed.

This column deals with a book by Will Durant, the greatest American historian of the 20th Century. He shot to fame because of his 11 volumes of Story of Civilisation and another book titled Story of Philosophy. The third book, about which I am going to talk, was banned by the British. Not even a single copy could be found. Fortunately, someone found a copy and it was published by Strand Book Stall, Mumbai. The book put me thinking on how India would survive. But first, let's see, what Durant had to say about India just before the British came.

Quoting Sunderland he says: "This wealth was created by the Hindus' vast and varied industries. Nearly every kind of manufacture of product known to the civilised world - nearly every kind of creation of man's brain and hand, existing anywhere and prized either for its utility or beauty - had long, long being produced in India. India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or than any other in Asia. Her textile goods - the fine products of her looms, in cotton, wool, linen and silk - were famous over the civilised world; so were her exquisite jewellry and her precious stones cut in every lovely form; so were her pottery, porcelain, ceramics of every kind, quality, colour and beautiful shape; so were her fine works in metal - iron, steel, silver and gold. She had great architecture - equal in beauty to any in the world. She had great engineering works. She had great merchants, great businessmen, great bankers and financers. Not only was she, the greatest ship-building nation, but she had great commerce and trade by land and sea which extended to all known civilised countries. Such was the India which the British found when they came."

In his own inimitable style, Durant built India's case, "The present caste system in India consists of four classes: the real Brahmins - ie, the British bureaucracy; the Kshatriyas - ie, the British army; the real Vaishyas - ie, the British traders; and the real Shudras - ie, the Hindus."

The story of miserable farming community has gone through a process: "Before the coming of English, the land was private property, the Government made itself the sole owner of soil and charged for it a land tax or rental now equal to 1/5th of the produce. In many cases, in the past, this land tax has amounted to half the gross produce, in some cases, to more than the entire gross produce; in general, it is two to three times as high as under pre-English rule."

Durant, further wrote, "It might have been supposed that the building of 30,000 miles of railways would have brought a measure of prosperity to India. But these railways were built not for India but for England; not for the benefit of the Hindu, but for the purposes of the British Army and trade. If this seems doubtful, observe their operation. Their greatest revenue comes, not, as in America, from the transport of goods (for the British trader controls the rates), but from the third-class passengers - the Hindus; but these passengers are herded into barren coaches like animals bound for the slaughter, 20 or more in one compartment. The rails-roads are entirely in European hands, and the Government has refused to appoint even one Hindu in the Railway Board."

The book is full of instances describing how the British destroyed India's shipping trade, how artisans producing clothes were impoverished, how the Indians bore the cost of all the wars Britain fought, how the industrial revolution of Britain and some of Europe happened at the cost of Indians, how millions of people starved to death when the British exported grains, produced by Indian farmers. How education and social fibre of the society was destroyed systematically by Lord Macauley and duly approved by the British Parliament.

This is how Durant, described the conquerors of India: "The British conquest of India was the invasion and destruction of a high civilisation by a trading company, utterly without scruple or principle, careless of art and greedy of gain, over-running with fire and sword, a country temporarily disordered and helpless, bribing and murdering, annexing and stealing, and beginning that career of illegal and 'legal' plunder which has now gone on ruthlessly for 173 years."

Durant is not an ordinary historian and the rape of India by the British is not an ordinary event either. But, we Indians are most extraordinary people: We just take everything in our stride. Time we woke up from this stupor and mould India again into a sone ki chidiya.

#1167 - March 25, 2008 03:57 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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India’s Glorious Scientific Tradition-XLVI

Surgery in ancient India

By Suresh Soni

Surgery developed very fast during the Buddha period. According to Vinay Pitak, worms started breeding in the head of a distinguished, wealthy man of the royal family. At that time, Vaidyaraaj Jeevak not only removed all the worms with surgery but smeared the wounds with a medicine. Our Puranas also give us a lot of information about surgery. According to the Shiv Purana, the Ashwini Kumars transplanted a new head when Lord Shiva severed the head of Daksh. Similarly, when Ganesh’s head was cut off, an elephant’s head was transplanted. We get similar examples in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In one place in the Ramayana, it has been said “Yaajamaane swake netre udghrityaavi-mana dadau.” This means that when the need arose, the eye of one man would be taken out and transplanted in another human being. (Valmiki’s Ramayana 2-16-5). From the dialogue between Yudhishthir and Naarad in the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata, we are introduced to the eight parts of surgical treatment.

Vaidya Sabal Singh Bhaati says in the Sushruta Samhita, that training in surgery was given through the guru (teacher)-shishya (pupil) tradition. Practical training was given by dissecting cadavers or dummies. Trained surgeons performed surgery using various surgical instruments and through fire. If the need arose, blood transfusion was also given. For this, a sharp instrument called shiravedh (piercing the veins), was used.

Eight types of surgeries—The surgeries described by Sushruta are:
1. Chhedya (to bore)

Surgical instruments as described by Sushruta
2. Bhedya (to pierce)
3. Lekhya (to separate)
4. Vedhya (to remove some harmful substance from the body)
5. Aishya (to find the wound from the veins)
6. Ahaarya (to remove harmful produces)
7. Vishravya (to remove the fluid from the body)
8. Seevya (to stitch the wound)

The instruments and appliances necessary to do these surgeries are also given in the Sushruta Samhita in detail. Some resemble the forceps and the tongs required in modern surgery. The great book written by Sushruta talks of 24 kinds of swastiks, 2 kind of sandas (pliers), 28 kinds of needles and 20 kinds of catheters. Besides these 20, other kinds of instruments have also been described which were used for carrying out surgeries to various parts of the body. The eight surgeries that have been talked about earlier, were carried out with the help of different instruments and appliances. They were-

Ardha-aadhaar, atimukh, araa, badisha, danta shanku, eshani, kar-patra, kritarika, kutharia, kush-patra, mandalaagra, mudika, nakh shastras, sharaarimukh, soochi, trikurchakar, utpal patra, vridh-patra, vrihimukh and vetas-patra.

At least three thousand years ago, Sushruta had spoken about the necessity of making these instruments with the best quality steel. He even stressed that the instruments should be sharp and so pointed that even a hair could be divided into two. Sushruta has laid so much stress on the cleanliness of the atmosphere and sterilisation of the instruments used before or after the surgery, and has described the ways to do so in such a manner that even the modern surgeons are amazed. He has also talked about how to make the patient senseless (by giving anaesthesia) and the necessity to do so. In the Bhoj Prabandh, it is written that King Bhoj was made to smell a powder named sammohini to make him unconscious before performing surgery on his forehead.

Fourteen types of bandages—Along with these appliances, if the need arose, bamboo, crystal and some special kinds of broken rock were also used in surgery. Sushruta, who was an expert in surgery, gave a description of 14 kinds of bandages besides the six bone dislocations and 12 kinds of fractures of bones. His book also talks about 28 diseases related to the ear and 26 related to the eyes.

Sushruta Samhita also mentions surgical removal of harmful tissues born out of cancer in the intestines and also the birth of children through caesarian section. There is a mention of neuro-surgery, that is performing surgery on the nerves to rid the body of diseases and also about plastic surgery, which is the most complicated surgery of modern times. Apart from some methods which are considered as very modern ones, there is mention of some methods which are not known even to the modern medical science.

In short, it can be said that surgery was very highly developed in ancient India while the rest of the world was totally unaware of it.

(This book is available with Ocean Books (P) Ltd. 4/19 Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-110 002.)

#1168 - April 09, 2008 12:49 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Hindus: Were they not brave fighters?

By M.S.N. Menon
April 13, 2008

India is on the move. It is already a great power. It is, therefore, time to shed the hangovers of the past. And one such is the canard that “200 Muslim horsemen conquered India.” No such thing ever happened. This was the Muslim and British line. It is time we knew the facts.

Then how do we account for the defeat of the Hindus at the hands of the Muslims? This has to do with the philosophic outlook of the Hindus. The Hindu has been an atheist, an agnostic, but never a hedonist. To eat and be merry has never been his outlook in life. Naturally, the Hindu gave little attention to his political life. Which is why the Hindus have no place in the political history of the world. Only such a view of ancient India provides the key to understanding and explaining India’s long subjection to foreign rule.

To the Hindu conquest of other people was never a matter of prestige. What mattered to him was self-conquest.

Then, again, it is wrong to judge the Muslim attack on India in isolation. It was part of a major upsurge of the Arab people, inspired by a religion which openly called upon them to wage a war on the world. And they fought with the resources of an empire. But our historians never project the Muslim invasion in this manner. Remember, within four years of the Prophet’s death, the Arabs brought the mighty Sassanian (Persian) empire under their control!

But it took them (and Muslims in general) 500 years to get a foothold in India.’ Shows the obstinate resistance of the Hindus. Remember, Alexander dared not go deeper into India. Then what was it that won the day for the Arabs and Muslims? The fact that they were inspired by a religious frenzy. Hindus were not. They did not even understand the nature of this frenzy.

But they fought bravely. I’ll give two major instances: The first Arab attack on India was on Thane (Bombay) in 636. It took the Muslims 570 years more before they could establish themselves in Delhi. Surprisingly, Muslim rule came to an end after 500 years with the demise of Aurangzeb in 1707. Between 636 AD and 1206 AD, the Hindus never ceased to resist.

Muslim historians say that there were two major reasons for the defeat of the Hindus:1) superiority of the Muslims over Hindus and 2) the caste system.

Let us examine these claims. The Caliph Muawiyah (661-680 AD) sent as many as six expeditions against Sind. All of them were repulsed with great force and massacre. And Sind was largely Buddhist! The aim of the Arabs was to loot, not conversion. They wanted the wealth of India, its women and slaves.

The repeated Arab failure to capture Sind made Caliph Uthman to call for a report on the matter. Hajjaj, governor of Iraq, however, mounted an expedition, but it was defeated by the son of Dahir, the king of Sind. The Caliph gave up all hope of conquering Sind. Hajjaj, then pleaded for a new attempt. He had an army of 50,000. He put them under his 19-year-old in-law, bin Qasim and himself guided the battles. But this time the Hindus were betrayed by a pries (712 AD).

It is true Dahir was no great general. He hardly knew the nature of the Islamic upsurge. And he was blind believer in astrology.

My second story: The Arab armies came close to the Indian border, i.e. Afghanistan, in 636 AD. And yet they could not break though the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms for another 350 years! Such was the resistance of the Hindus.

Jayapala of the Sahiya dynasty (Punjab) tried to nip the mischief at the source. He mounted an attack on Ghazni, but was driven back by a fierce storm.

Subuktigin (977-997 AD), father of Mahmud of Ghazni, had a series of battles with Jayapala, but could not prevail. The Muslim historian says that Jayapala’s soldiers were as “impetuous as a torrent”. They could not be defeated. At last Subuktigin resorted to a trick. He threw beef into the wells from where Jayapala’s soldiers drew water.

No doubt the Muslims were clever. But it is not proved that they were superior. And the world knows that it was a priest who betrayed India at Somnath.

Caste was never a decisive factor. But weapons were. And it is not true that Hindus willingly accepted Islam. Al-Bi runi says that the Hindus held the Muslims in “inveterate hatred.” On the soldiers of Jayapala, Hassan Nizami writes in his book “Taj-ul-Maasir’ that “they wee demons in human form.”

No wonder, Mahmud employed one Tilak to head his Central Asian army. And his son followed the tradition. And let us not forget that the Mughal and British empires were sustained by Indian soldiers.

For years after Mahmud, the Afghans dared not attack India. But when they did under Mohammed Ghori, he was soundly defeated twice. What demoralised the Hindus was the cruelty of the invaders. Ziyauddin Burani, a contemporary of Khusrau, writes that wars against the Hindus were no ordinary wars, but were massacres of extermination. It was perhaps against this unheard of brutality that the Hindus gave up resistance and withdrew into a shell.

#1169 - June 13, 2008 10:28 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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The Story of India
Michael Wood

Indus Civilisation

Madurai: the first civilisation in the south

Pre Harappan Bhirrana


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited July 25, 2008).]

#1170 - August 12, 2008 04:57 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Huns & China, India and the Romans


..I had a fabulous two week
trip to Beijing and Shanghai with a group of ten faculty members from
Bentley. The trip gave us an opportunity to see the Great Wall of
China, about 80 miles north of Beijing. I want to tell you the
thought that came to my mind as I was standing on the wall after
climbing the uneven stairs for almost an hour. At the end of the 5th
century AD, the Huns from Central Asia tried to attack China but the
Chinese army defeated them decisively at this 3,000 mile long wall
with fortifications at strategic places. Unfortunately, the Huns
turned westwards after their defeat in China and changed the course
of history by destroying two great empires of the ancient times. One
branch of the Huns ravaged Europe and destroyed the Roman Empire and
another branch turned towards India at the time when the Gupta Empire
was at its zenith. From their bases at Bamian
and Balkh, one of the Hun commanders, Toramana, defeated the Gupta
army and occupied Kashmir, Punjab, and Malwa, and his son,
Mihiragula, extended the Hun conquest to Gujarat. North India, as a
Hindu empire, never recovered from this disaster and the ground was
prepared for the Moslem conquest of India.

In the declining stages of the Gupta Empire, India was infested
with Ponga pundits, fortune tellers and astrologers of all kinds, and
the bewildering superstitions of the Purans had supplanted the
sublime wisdom of the Vedas.

Perhaps this is the ultimate truth of history: empires rise and
fall on the undulating waves of time, but the Chinese empire did a
better job of protecting itself by relying on its own efforts by
building the wall rather than waiting for some preternatural
interposition at the last moment, as you often see in Bollywood

Satya Prakash Saraswat, Ph.D.
Professor of Information and Process Management
Bentley College
175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452

#1171 - September 16, 2008 01:12 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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#1172 - July 14, 2009 08:08 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
While we knew about the decline of India in the last millennium and the many reasons for it, we have wrongly attributed it to the muslim conquests and the British only.

However in the south the decline began much later in the 13th century, as the
Cholas inexplicably withdrew from their colonies in the Indian Ocean Region. Had
they maintained their maritime concerns it would have been a different story for
the later 15th century chinese fleets and the 16th century european colonialists
and the Indianised kingdoms of southeastasia.

Indian renaissance begun in the 1830s when Macaulay introduced english mass
education replacing sanskrit and urdu. The end of superstitious voodoo Hinduism
begun right there!


[b]Why Science Declined In Ancient India?/b]

Dr. K. Jamanadas,

A learned medical specialist from Nagpur, in a recent article in lay press, while describing ancient medical sciences in India, has remarked that fall of science of surgery was because of 'ahimsa' taught by the Buddha. Though the remark was as an orbus dictum, it shows not only his ignorance of Indian history and of Buddhism, but also desire for making false charges on Buddhism due to, may be, his contempt for the Buddhists. The surgery was never considered 'himsa' by the Buddhists, nor for that matter by anybody. Certainly fall of sciences was not because of 'ahimsa' of the Buddha.

Modern science is undoubtedly a contribution of the west. That way, in all societies, there were attempts of obstruction to progress of science. In India they got more success. There was a time in Indian history when Indian science was not only famous in the country, but it was so all over the world. If the progress of Indian science would have been maintained unhindered after the sixth century A.D., we Indians, today, would have been foremost in the scientific field.

Golden era of Science in India

From the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, it is clear that there existed a pre Aryan urban civilization of Dravidians, which went by the name of Nagas. It shows great development of town planning, water supply and urban facilities, sanitary drainage and granaries.

Gold used for ornaments in Harrapan culture was from Kolar gold mines, the only source available, which is proved by a committee of metallurgical experts under sir Edwin Pascoe, who performed chemical analysis, under the direction of Sir John Marshall. So gold mining was a flourishing industry of the time. This also shows the communicating links between south and north, Vindhyas and forests of Dandakaranya were no bar.

The copper used in Harrapan civilization was imported from Rajputana, and tin from Hazaribagh. It used various types of stones quarried all over India, and some imported from outside.

The modern number system of 0 to 9 with use of decimal point is the contribution of Indian mathematicians. It spread to Europe via Arab countries.
Mauryan India also achieved remarkable success in fields of Engineering, town planning, architecture and art. India's first irrigation dam belongs to this era and was aptly called "Sudarshana", i.e. beautiful in later inscriptions of Rudradamana.

We know the importance of Ashokan pillars for aesthetic beauty, craftsmanship and religious declarations, but it was also known for the science of polishing of stones to such an extent that it became the distinguishing mark, the structures with high polish being ascribed to Ashokan period. Such gloss and polish, Marshall says, "no modern mason can produce", Vincent Smith calls it "the despair of modern masons", Tom Coryat and Whittekar described it as of brass, Chaplain Terry as a pillar of marble, and Bishop Heber as pillar of cast metal.

In the first and third centuries A.D., two important texts were composed on medical science, namely Charak Samhita and Sushrut samhita, which show the advanced stage medical knowledge in India.

Susrut Samhita, which is a text of surgical science, describes more than one hundred instruments of surgery. It also describes the plastic surgery procedures, specially the operation of rebuilding of nose, what we today call as rhinoplasty.

At the time of invasion of Alexander, India was famous for medicine and surgery.

In Buddhist books, we find mention of Jivaka who operated on the brain of a merchant. He was appointed by Emperor Bimbisara as a physician for Lord Buddha and cured him of constipation by making use of inhaling fragrance of medication on a lotus flower. The science of Inhalers in modern medicine is pretty recent. He cured diseases of head, a fistula by ointment, jaundice and performed surgery on brain and intestinal "entanglements" as per the Vinaya texts, which Radha Kumud Mukharji calls were "not given to exaggeration like a work of fiction".

Ashoka had sent medical missions to five Hellenistic States of Europe for humanitarian service, with aushadha, mula and phala, as per Rock Edict 2 and 13.

Education of medicine was compulsory in Nalanda Mahavihara and even I-Tsing had to undergo a course.

Up to seventh or eighth century A.D., Indian physicians and surgeons were respectfully appointed in Baghdad.

Indian medical books were popular in China. A Chinese work composed in 455 A.D., is derived from Indian text. A number of medical books are found in Chinese Buddhist collection. A text on Children's Diseases, named "Ravana-kumara-charita" was translated into Chinese as late as 11th century.

Indian Medical science and arithmetic was highly valued in the west. Greek and Iranian physicians knew Indian medical texts. It is recorded that Barzouhych, a subject from Sassanid King Khusro I's court (531-579 A.D.) visited India for study of medicine.

Meharauli iron pillar, which is standing in the courtyard of Kutub Minar at Delhi, belongs to fourth century A.D. It is standing there, defying the ravages of times, for centuries but not a spot of rust or corrosion on it. Its composition was examined by a committee of experts, who held that, it was beyond the capacity of any Iron foundry in the world of that time to manufacture such a masterpiece.

From Periplus we know that the sword made of Indian steel is proverbial in Arabic literature, showing the highest skills and knowledge of metallurgy. The famous Damascus blade was made from Indian steel.

Ancient South Indian bronzes are praised even now in the whole world not only for their craftsmanship but also for metallurgy. Sultanguanj colossal Buddha in copper is a metallurgical masterpiece and a marvel, still preserved in Birmingham museum.

Jawaharlal Nehru describes how the Roman Emperor scolded his daughter for wearing so little clothing on her person, while in fact she was fully clad in Indian made muslin clothing, showing the high degree of skill in textile industry.

It is recorded that, "the Roman beauties, decked in even seven folds of Muslin, and parading themselves on the highways of Rome, became a menace to its morals." and import of Indian textiles had to be banned by Roman Parliament. The ban on imports was necessary also because of balance of payment crisis. Pliny estimates one million pounds sterling drain per year. It resulted in favourable trade balance for India, with a stable gold currency for the Kushana empire.

India was also famous for paints and dyes, which were the products for export. The pictures of Ajanta are famous not only for aesthetic beauty, art and history but also for quality of paints and pigments used.

The science and art of ship building suffered most during "kali varjya". The sea worthy people of south India were great voyagers. They built ships of huge tonnage, traveled to far east, established settlements, colonies and even kingdoms and propagated their faith both brahmnic and Buddhist. All these qualities became futile after imposition of ban on sea travel.


In the medical field, the scholars of present time, seem to have forgotten about Jivaka, Nagarjuna, Sushruta, Charaka and Vagbhata. They appear to give more importance to Dhanvantari. The picture presented of him is not as a medical teacher, but as an imaginary mythological puranik god who sprang up from the churning of ocean of milk by the devas and danavas. Why the former historical dignitaries are ignored in preference to him will be clear if we bear the fact in mind that all leading names in ancient medicine were Buddhists. So they had to invent a god for Ayurveda.

However, there is a minor medical work going by name of Dhanvantari. It is a Nighantu or a medical dictionary. It is mentioned in Amarkosha, and hence in original form must have preceded the Amarkosha; but its extant form it must be ascribed to a later date. Amar, writer of Amarkosha, was according to tradition one of the nine jewels at the court of Vikramaditya, whose very identity it has not yet been possible for scholars to fix beyond all doubt. He is "known as a poet, and was certainly a Buddhist who knew the Mahayana and used Kalidasa", as per Winternitz, His date is uncertain but he probably flourished before the eighth century A.D.


Aryabhatta, born in 476 A.D., flourished in the centre of Buddhist heart land, i.e. Capital of Magadhan empire, at Pataliputtra. and his Aryabhatiya was composed in A.D. 499. He was first to treat Mathematics as a distinct subject and he dealt with evolution and involution, area and volume, progressions and algebraic identities, and intermediate equations of the first degree. He also arrived at a 'remarkably accurate value of PI, viz. 3.1416'

Aryabhatta was also the first to hold that the earth was a sphere and rotated on its axis. For this, he gave a beautiful analogy that to a person travelling in a boat, trees on the shore appear to move in oppoite direction, similarly because earth is rotating on its axis towards east, it appears to us as if the sun moves from east to west. He also explained that the eclipses were not the work of Rahu and Ketu or some other 'rakshasa', but were caused by the shadow of the earth falling on the moon. As we will see later, both these views were rejected and severely condemned by later astrologers like Varahmihira and Brahmagupta.

One of the most important features of Aryabhatta's mathematical system is his unique system of notation. It is based on the decimal place value system, unknown to other ancient people, but now in use throughout the civilized world. Whether Aryabhatta invented the system or merely improved on an existing one cannot be definitely stated. But with the doubtful exception of Bakhshali manuscript, which is referred by some to c. A.D. 200, the earliest use of the system occurs in Aryabhatiya, and it is found in all later mathematical works.

Thus till that time, which was the golden era of Buddhism and decline had yet to start, India was in no way inferior or behind any other country of the world, in the field of science.

Buddhist rulers and science

In third fourth century B.C., in the Asokan times, there was great advances in veterinary science. For treatment of elephants, "Palkapya samhita" and for treatment of horses, "Shalihotra samhita" were written. We find in his edicts, mention of hospitals established by him for men and animals even in far off places in south India. All this shows the growth of Veterinary science in India.
All these show that Indian science was well advanced up to sixth century. One has to ponder over what were the reasons which not only obstructed the progress of science, but also destroyed what was already achieved. One has to understand the history, literature and puranas, and social conditions to find these out.

It is clear from the dates, that the age of progress of science in India was the age of glory of Buddhism. Acharya Charak was the 'rajvaidya' in the court of Buddhist emperor, Kanishka, of first century A.D. Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna was also their contemporary. He was also famous physician. The contribution of Charak to "Charak Samhita" is as important as Nagarjuna's contribution to "Sushrut Samhita".

Whatever knowledge of ayurveda was being spread through the oral traditional method of Guru sishya teaching was revised and reduced to writing in the times of Buddhist rulers.

During the early centuries of Christian era, medical science was on zenith. In this development, the contribution of Buddhists was enormous. Through them, the knowledge spread all over the other foreign countries.

Role of Buddhist faith

As a matter of fact, science spreads only when it is free from the fetters of traditions. Lord Buddha had given that freedom to Indian society, that freedom of thought and action. Liberated from the severe caste rules, society was taking keen interest in progress of scientific pursuits.
Jivaka, discussed above, was an infant found on a dung heap, and still could reach such an illustrious position, only because of Buddhist environment. We know in brahmanic tradition, admission to school was based on caste as is seen by examples of Karna, Ekalavya and Satyakama Jabaala.

The situation was quite opposite in Brahmanic teaching institutions, In Brahmanic Gurukulas, there were no criteria for admission apart from the caste of the prospective student and whims and fancies of the teacher. Examples of denial of admission to very meritorious candidates on the basis of caste are seen. Glaring example is of Eklavya. Not only the guru Dronacharya denied admission to Eklavya, but demanded Eklavya's thumb as gurudakshina for education NOT imparted by him. Many people feel it is irony of fate and mockery of awards, that such a name is associated with highest sports awards in this country today, without any protest from the sufferers of the system.

Second example is of Karna, who got admission to Parashurama's class, which was exclusively reserved for the brahmins, on false statement of caste. Benefit of his knowledge, labeled as unlawfully obtained, was withdrawal when his caste became known, which ultimately lead to his death.
Example of Satyakama Jabala is mentioned by many orthodox people to erroneously show that education in Upanishadic times was open to low caste people. This is a wrong inference drawn from his story. Satyakama was asked by his guru his caste. His mother sent a word to the guru that she did not know the exact father of the child as she had relations with many people. This frank statement, the guru declared, can only be a statement of a son of a brahmin. So the admission to the gurukul was done on the basis of brahmin caste. Not only that, the test applied by him, and his presumption of brahmin caste, was derogatory to non- brahmins, because it was his belief that only brahmins could speak such a truth and non-brahmins could not have uttered such truth.

Buddhism and Science

Kurt F. Leidecker, President Buddhist Center of America, and others very aptly observe in "Buddhism and Science",

" Perhaps one reason (for progress of science) is that Buddhist thinking has always enjoyed the greatest freedom untrammeled by dogmatism and authority of any kind, not even that of Buddha himself. We have his words in the Kalama Sutta which should be given in the hands of any who write and pronounce judgment on Buddhism."

"Science observes, describes, establishing the truth on ocular demonstration and verification by experiment which anyone may undertake without the least faith in ultimate results."

"Whatever progress has been made in the western world in science and technology, was made not because of faith and belief in supernatural, but largely by rejecting it or being indifferent to it."

"Science is based most assuredly on analysis, that is, scrutinizing every phenomenon and examining every part of it and finding out how it came about. That is exactly what the Buddha did."

"The fact is that in the history of Buddhism there has never been any altercation with scientists, and no war has ever been declared on science. Warfare between science and Christianity? Yes, there has been too much of it. Warfare between science and Buddhism? Never."

Crusade against Science

There were wars against science in the western world also. But it is in India that the antagonists of science won the war. Brahmins opposed Buddhists, and their relations were so strained on the issue of caste supremacy, that they became bitter enemies of each other. They opposed every thing in which Buddhists were experts, even the science. Dr. Ambedkar very rightly said, "It must be recognized that there never has been a common Indian Culture, that historically there have been three Indias, Brahmanic India, Buddhist India and Hindu India, each with its own culture. It must be recognized that the history of India before the Muslim invasions is the history of a mortal conflict between Brahmanism and Buddhism."

In the far off counties, the Buddhists were getting name and fame, but at home in India, there were efforts to dig out and uproot their moorings. Later when Buddhist became weaker due to internal differences and contradictions, the brahmins put themselves in citadel, in which the new arrangements were made by which they declared as inferior and degraded all those things, which Buddhists were good at and for which Buddhists were famous for all over the world.

Even science was not spared from this fate. A famous scientist of modern India, Dr. Neelaratna Dhar aptly observes that, the progress of science was obstructed by the decline of Buddhism in India. The help and support received from Buddhist Universities and monasteries to chemical and medical sciences in the hospitals was stopped. After the fall of Buddhism, Brahmins dominated and they denounced, condemned, denigrated and maligned all those things in which the Buddhists had excelled.

In the fight against the Buddhists, kali varjya was clamped on this society. Hinduism got rearranged, and in its new concept, foreign travel was forbidden. All vocations relating to science were declared sacrilegious, blasphemous, heretical and disrespectful. Caste rules, rules of high and low, rules of untouchability and inequality all were made more and more strict. All knowledge and science was made more secret, secluded, hidden and concealed and every new thought and invention was opposed.

Due to ban on travel to foreign lands, India got cut off from the rest of the world. The society was not like a frog in the pond, before; but due to severance of bonds of communications with the outside world, the stupid injunctions of priests became the words of authority. There is a phrase in Marathi saying, whatever priest tells is east and whenever he says is the new moon day. In such circumstances, it was natural that all scientific progress got suffocated.

The various vocations were graded according to basis of caste hierarchy, white collar jobs were kept by higher castes and the rest of population, the shudras i.e. the working class, the marathas or kunbis, the malis, the telis, the gawalis, the lohars, the sutars, the mangs, the mahars, the chamars, the paradhis, the gonds, the bhils etc. etc. all 'shudras and ati- shudras' in Mahatma Phule's terminology and 'bahujans' in todays terminology, were made the beasts of burden to carry out all activities requiring toil and sweat. By this the prestigious castes lost all links with practical aspects of technology and means of production. All niceties of life, food clothing housing and attendant luxuries, wealth, comfort, and prosperity was concentrated in the hands of three varnas, and to provide these the shudras had to toil and sweat their blood out. All the productive work which is done in western countries by choice, option and preference was done in India as a burden, a charge, an obligation, a stress through a feeling of frustration and pressure of compulsion due to 'purva karma', the deeds of past life. The society was made to believe that those people who do not work with their hands are more civilized, sophisticated, cultured, noble, dignified and worshipable, and have attained that position because of the good deeds they had done in the past lives; the good deeds meant, of course, the preservatin of chaturnarna.

Lord McCauley, some times, is unnecessarily blamed for creating the army of white collared babus. The reality is that this germ of white collared arrogance was already in this soil.

Role of Mahabharata

In this important text of Hinduism, medical science, architecture, manufacture of weapons, painting, sculptor, agriculture and animal husbandry has been condemned time and again. In one place it is even said that, the food given to a vaidya, i.e. a physician, in a shraaddha becomes unacceptable to the pitars like blood and pus. It is clear that till the time of Mahabharata all these vocations were declared mean, contemptible, lowly, humble and ignoble.

There are three types of treatments in ayurveda, they say. Where rasas are used is 'daivi', where fruits are used is 'manushi' and the surgery, some modern authors say, was a 'aasuri or rakshasi' knowledge. This is the brahmanic interpretation of later times. If similar sentiments prevailed in the earlier times we would not have seen the prosperity of surgical knowledge at the time of Jivaka and Sushruta etc. Because of this feeling, surgery was despised and hated more and more and so it went to hands of the lower castes in the society.

It is said by Dr. Satya Prakash that science of obstetrics and maternity surgery was well developed at the time of Sushrut. When none in the outside world could think of surgical instruments, Sushrut describes various operations of maternity with these instruments. His advises about maternity are similar to modern ones.

The famous Jivaka of Buddha's time, was expert in maternity science. He was called Kumar Bhrutya Jivaka. Till the Buddhists dominated, the art and science of maternity in ayurveda flourished. After the fall of Buddhism, when brahmins dominated, they declared this science as dirty and it passed on to the women of low castes. It remained with them till the British came, and still in villages these dayees of low castes, i.e. midwives, prevail even today.
The feeling of high and low was so great in the Brahmanas, that even the gods had been divided into castes, high and low. Ashwani kumars were declared shudra gods, not eligible to take part in drinking soma by Indra, who was considered ksatriya. As they were physicians, this profession degraded them to the status of shudras.

In west, all the scientist were sons of ordinary working class people, like carpenter, blacksmith, cobbler, barber etc. These professions were never considered degraded. With us, the working class was always degraded castes. If they had been given some encouragement and motivation in technological fields, science in India would have flourished.

The science develops by spread of thought, but in India, there was more of secrecy to guard it from lower castes. Nobody having any useful knowledge wanted to part with his knowledge. It was within Guru and his disciple to start with. When writing came in, around beginning of Christian era, the texts were written in such a script that they were understood by only a few. Example of Varahmihir can be quoted who ordained that only selected disciples should be given such knowledge, and see that it does not pass even to his son. How much knowledge is lost in darkness, nobody can guess.

Science deals with physical world, but we were taught that world is unreal only the god was real. This raised the armies of sadhus, who were interested in philosophy and bhajan kirtan and their subject was in the world here after. They were not interested in science as world was 'mayajal' for them.

With perhaps a solitary exception of Bhaskaracharya of 12 to 14th century, there was not a single activity in the sphere of scientific knowledge, roughly from sixth century, up to 19th century when the British came,
Some people like to blame Islam for this decline in science. It is wrong to say so. Decline had started much before the Muslims came. We became slaves afterwards, we were withered and wrinkled much before that time due to our internal weaknesses. The reasons of decline of science in India are also the reasons for its defeats and political fall and are responsible for the slavery, this land suffered for centuries.

Creation of Illiteracy

India is supposed to have largest number of illiterates in the world. Many institutions are fed on State revenue for the 'noble' cause of so called 'adult' literacy. But nobody tells us why India remained illiterate for centuries. It was Dr. Ambedkar who brought this fact in light. He averred that, without formal education the accumulated thought and experience relating to a subject can not be learned by a student and he will not get new perception and his horizon will not widen. This requires schools, books and planned materials and literacy. Formal education was confined to study of to Vedas alone, in schools meant only for brahmins, as they propagated that there was no knowledge outside Vedas. Education of rest was neglected by the state. Children of vaishyas learned rudiments of business geography and arithmetic from fathers in course of business, and so did the shudra craftsmen from their parents. This education was domestic and practical. Due to this illiteracy became inherent part of Hindus. Manu and others made laws to this effect. Those who had right to study the Vedas had right to read and write, others were deprived of this right. So according to laws of Manu, reading and writing has become the right of few high caste men and illiteracy has become the destiny of low caste multitudes. This is how literacy was prohibited and general ignorance prevailed among the masses.

Fate of Aryabhatta

One need not confuse between astronomy and astrology in ancient India, because both went by the name of 'jyotisha'. If the study of astronomy would have progressed in normal way, we would have achieved tremendous progress in space technology. But the blind faith in stars and imaginary 'loka's led to ruin of this science.

We know that Vedas declare that earth is stationary and sun is moving. We know the word 'achalaa' for earth, we also know the horses for the 'ratha' of sun. In spite of such ideas in Vedas, astronomers like Aryabhatta in fifth century declared, as mentioned above, that earth is moving and sun is stationary, and explained how lunar and solar eclipses take place. The priestly class saw danger to their livelihood, if Vedas were found fallible. They organized a crusade against Aryabhatta, in two ways.

Brahmagupta (c. 598 A.D.) criticized and asked, if earth is moving, where is it going to and by which way. Varahmihir (c. 600 A.D.) wrote, if earth is moving the birds would not reach their nests in the evening. If the earth is rotating fast towards east, the flags would always fly towards west, and if it is rotating slowly, it would not complete rotation in 24 hours. Same arguments were repeated by another acharya, Lallacharya in seventh eighth century. He also said if earth moves towards East, the arrow shot in the sky would fall on the West and that the clouds would move West. If earth is moving slowly, how would it complete rotation?

Even Bhaskaracharya (some time between 1114 and 1400 A.D.) totally denied that earth can move. He said Earth is fixed. As Sun and fire are hot, as Moon is cold, as water flows, as stone is hard, similarly it is natural that earth is fixed. So much so that word 'achalaa' became a alternate term for earth.

Thus Aryabhatta was ridiculed and criticized with wrong logic. Not only that, but in 10th century a fraud was committed, a fake copy of 'Aryabhatiya' was prepared declaring earth as 'achalaa', and later it was declared that this is his real text of Aryabhatta. The fraud is clear as the real point is, if Aryabhatta had originally said, in the first place, that earth is 'achalaa', why was he ridiculed, condemned and denounced for about five hundred years.

Thus astronomers, or so called 'jyotirvids' were denounced from all angles whenever opportunity presented. They were declared mean, lowly and contemptible, they were declared polluted, they were denied all respect and their means of livelihood were withdrawn. They were prohibited from being called to yadnyas, mahadanas and shraadhas. The rearer of goats, painters, vaidyas and watchers of stars must not be respected though they might be learned like a brahaspati, so says Atrisamhita.

Mahabharata says those brahmins who study the stars must not be allowed to sit in the line with for meals in shraadha. (Anushasan parva, 90, 11/12) Manu III. 172, 167 declared those as lowly, contemptible and unfit for yadnas and shraadha. Nirnaya sindhu 3, and Vivek sindhu 3, also declare them unfit for being called in yadnyas and shraddha. They are also condemned and ridiculed by Brihit samhita (2-2).

These 'daivadnyas' not only deceived the masses but also the rulers, and condemned the 'jyotirvids'. They were cunning and talked glibly. Varahmihir says, he should be clever, bold, quick witted, irrepressible, smart and shrewd. They were very near the political powers and so nobody could touch them.
Still the public respected the jyotirvids, so the brahmins changed the meaning of the word jyotirvidya, which now meant those who study the 'effects' of stars on human beings contrary to the original meaning of study of stars, and themselves became 'daivaidnyas', - the knowers of fate. This stopped the progress of astronomy which died a natural death.

Not only that, daivadnyas later declared the means of controlling and changing fate by shanti, mantras and yadnya etc. Varahmihir describes the many qualities for daivadnya, like shantik - mantras for removing calamities, poustik - mantra for increasing health wealth etc., abhichar - means of punishing the enemies.

Still the common people criticized these fortune tellers. So they declared such critics as 'nastika', 'mlencha', 'chandala' etc. and pronounced them of 'sankara yoni'. This stopped all progress of astronomy. Everybody knows that 'varna sankara' is a big abuse of ancient India, and a greatest punishment in civil life. These people were boycotted and were compelled to lead an isolated life of a beast.

Thus astronomy or mathematical Jyotish was driven away by the 'falit' jyotishya, which provided bread and butter to brahmins and is still doing it. This 'falit' jyotishya has made Indians mere fatalists. Whereas in other countries, everybody exerts his own effort to change the unfavorable surrounding environment, we, in India, are more in search of Rahu and Ketu. Even today, the same thing prevails, and we find the dignitaries changing the direction of entrances to their residences and timing the oath ceremonies to match the timings of the stars. For the first time after centuries, Aryabhatta was honoured by Indian scholars, when the first ever Indian satellite was sent to orbit was named after him.

Why only science suffered

Dr. Gorakh Prasad writes that after Bhaskaracharya, it was considered a sin to make any progress. To find errors in old texts and correct them and to search for new things was totally banned. When such a thing was brought up, the brahmins of Kashi opposed vehemently.

Some people unburden themselves by putting blame on 'foreigners', meaning Muslims, for this fall of science, but history tells us that our other activities, other than science, did not change much. Why only science suffered? Not that we had no scholars. There were fights, disputes and clashes in 'shastrartha'. The very word 'shastrartha' applied to debates, denotes that no new facts are to be discussed, whatever is to be discussed must be to find the real 'artha' i.e. the meaning, of the old 'shastras'.

The philosophical texts abounded by constant churning. Puranas and smritis were compiled, edited and reedited. Various commentaries were written amending old laws. And a lot of discussion took place on poetry. The literary innovations of metre and rhyme is plentiful in the drama and poetry of the time, and the intricacies of art and 'alankaras' were invented, which no other country has done. Poets and scholars spent their effort and capacity in observing most minute details of female anatomy and portraying it in texts, and such poets are compared with literary merit of Shakespere. Then why this ban on science alone?

The reason becomes apparent when you view the society in proper perspective. The society was divided into six thousand castes, all placed one above the other, with brahmin at the top, who also did every thing to maintain its supremacy. The real reason of fall of science was that, the science and technology brings comfort to common masses, which our acharyas did not want. They were self centered in their own domination over the masses and their Rajput - ksatriya masters were after life of comforts and luxury throughout the period of alien rule. The threat to these comforts was considered danger to the 'dharma'. It might be an interesting subject for study, as to what were the various things which were consideed as 'danger to dharma' in course of our history. If these gods on the earth and their disciple rulers would have thought of broader welfare of masses, and incorporated these problems in their agenda, the science would not have suffered, neither the country would have been slave for centuries under a fistful of individuals of alien faith.

#1173 - November 15, 2009 10:22 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Mehrgarh-Sumeria-Indus Civilisation - 7,000 BCE to 500 BCE

The Sarasvati-Indus Civilisation covers over 1,100 city-sites, spanning two millenium, showcasing a mature society. We can see the civilisational continuity between Mehrgarh and Indus. Mehrgarh is older than Sumeria by three millenium.

We should stop using the term Indus Valley civilisation and start using the term Mehrgarh-Sumeria-Indus Civilisation that goes back to the Neolithic Age, 7,000 BCE, as a beginning of the Hindu religion, has it has been proven to have an unbroken continuous development of the Hindu religion.

"The continuous flow and development of Mehrgarh was entirely local in its scope, development, technological and symbolic
expressions. No doubt around 6000 BC there was human activity in Middle East and some areas of Turkey but the developmental level of Mehrgarh in art, symbolism, nature control, and technology was far more developed and continuous as compared to the pastoral, grazing communities of the Middle East and Turkey." Meaning no foreign invasion or migration influence.


Merhgarh - 7000BCE

Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization. "Discoveries at Mehrgarh changed the entire concept of the Indus civilization," according to Ahmad Hasan Dani, professor emeritus of archaeology at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, "There we have the whole sequence, right from the beginning of settled village life."[4] According to Catherine Jarrige of the Centre for Archaeological Research Indus Balochistan, Musée Guimet, Paris

    "... the Kachi plain and in the Bolan basin (are) situated at the Bolan peak pass, one of the main routes connecting southern Afghanistan, eastern Iran, the Balochistan hills and the Indus valley. This area of rolling hills is thus located on the western edge of the Indus valley, where, around 2500 BCE, a large urban civilization emerged at the same time as those of Mesopotamia and the ancient Egyptian empire. For the first time in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent, a continuous sequence of dwelling-sites has been established from 7000 BCE to 500 BCE, (as a result of the) explorations in Pirak from 1968 to 1974; in Mehrgarh from 1975 to 1985; and of Nausharo from 1985 to 1996."

The chalcolithic people of Mehrgarh also had contacts with contemporaneous cultures in northern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran and southern central Asia.[5]

Somewhere between 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE, the city seems to have been largely abandoned, which is when the Indus Valley Civilisation was in its middle stages of development. It has been surmised that the inhabitants of Mehrgarh migrated to the fertile Indus valley as the Balochistan became more arid due to climatic changes.

The religious ideas of Mehrgarh are known to be having reference to Indriya Goddess, which is considered to be the oldest reference to the Indian mythological gods. Her presence shows the matriarchal hierarchy in the society.

One amazing bit of info about this town is that in 7000 BCE it had a population of 25000 people, which was the number of people living in the entire Egypt at 7000BCE. [8]

During the excavations, the archaeologists discovered clay female figurines associated with fertility rites, and believed to have been worshipped by the natives. Similar figurines have surfaced in other archaeological sites in the province. Several of these statues are carved with necklaces, and have their hands on their breast or waist.
Some have children on their laps.

The people of that era used to wear woolen or cotton clothes. Some of the deities had their braid on their back and shoulders. Most of the male statues wore turbans, which is still in vogue in Baluchistan. While the opinion of several archaeologists that several of the statuettes discovered at the site might have been children, there are many who link these terracotta figures to be religious beliefs and the eon-old concept of the power of nature and female deities.

Recent archaeological evidence especially from Mehrgarh has established that the Indus Civilization was essentially an indigenous development growing out of local cultures in an unbroken sequence from the Neolithic at the end of the eighth millennium BC, through the Chalcolithic (about 5000-3600 BC) and Early Harappan (about 3600-2600 BC) to the commencement of the Mature Harappan period in about 2550 BC.[10]

The continuous flow and development of Mehrgarh was entirely local in its scope, development, technological and symbolic expressions. No doubt around 6000 BC there was human activity in Middle East and some areas of Turkey but the developmental level of Mehrgarh in art, symbolism, nature control, and technology was far more developed and continuous as compared to the pastoral, grazing communities of the Middle East and Turkey.

#1174 - November 15, 2009 10:32 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Alain Danielou, Shiva and Dionysus and Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae - Peter Myers

November 12, 2001; update May 9, 2009. My comments within the text are shown {thus}.

The Proto-Australoids

The Proto Australoids, in India called adivasi (first inhabitants), speak Munda or Mom-Khmer languages. They form one of the great racial and linguistic groups, the other two being the Dravidians and the Aryans. According to S.S. Sarkar (Aboriginal Races of India), the Proto Australoids are "the most archaic race which has survived". They show affinities with Neanderthal man (according to Huxley, Sollas, Von Luschon and Howells), a more ancient race than the Negroids. To this group belong the Veddas of Ceylon and the Khonds of Central India, the Khasis of Assan and the Shom Pen of Great Nicobar. Outside India, the Sakai of Malaysia, the Moi of Indochina, the Orang batin, Lubu and Ulu of Sumatra, the Toula of the Celebes, certain populations in Southern Arabia and the Dhofar, as well as the Aborigines of Australia, may all be included in the same anthropological group. Their relationship with the African Pygmies and Bushmen of the Kalahari appears probable. They seem to have been the most ancient inhabitants of Europe, India and Africa. Skeletons of this type have also been discovered in predynastic Egyptian tombs. as well as at Mohenjo Daro in present-day Pakistan.

"The hunting tribes of whom the Bushmen and Pygmies are the last remnants, once covered all Africa. Even the Caspian art of the late Palaeolithic period, found in areas around the western Mediterranea,n has affinities with Bushman painting... The Bushmen represent an early group of humans ancestral to the larger and darker skinned peoples who lived around the fringes of the Indian Ocean before they in turn spread to all parts of Africa. except for the far south." (Cottie Burland. "Africa, South of the Sahara." in Primitive Erotic Art, p. 198. ) It was this race of small, gracile men who peopled Europe at the beginning of the Neolithic Age and who were eliminated by the stronger Cro-Magnon-type men.

The Dravidians

During the Neolithic Age a new race appeared amongst the Mundas in India. They had brown skin, straight hair and spoke an agglutinative language. The origin of these people, who are called Dravidian (from the Prakrit damila: Tamil), is obscure, but they and their religion,{p. 21} Shivaism, played a basic role in the history of humanity. According to tradition, they came from a continent situated to the southwest of India which was engulfed by the sea. This myth recalls that of Atlantis. The possibility cannot be excluded that other branches of the same people may have reached Africa and the Mediterranean - hence the difficulty of attributing with any certainty a place of origin to Shivaite or Dionysiac revelation. "The people who created and developed the first Greco-oriental civilization, of which the Isle of Minos was the principal centre - despite their relations with Mesopotamia and Egypt - confirm that they were neither 'Greek', nor Semitic, nor Indo-European. . . It is possible to suppose. . . that the people involved spread throughout the whole of Greece.. . There was in the Greek language a substratum of words of foreign origin . . . which must have survived from long before, despite the occupation of the country bv various invaders. . . Their Anatolian, Pelasgian. and even Proto-lndo-European origin is still being debated ........ The language thus formed was spoken throughout the Aegean, the whole of Greece and southwest Anatolia." (Charles Picard, Les Religions prehelleniques, pp. 53-54.)

The Dravidian language and culture, which even today are those of the population of Southern India, seem to have spread their influence from India to the Mediterranean before the Aryan invasions. It was this civilization, some of whose linguistic vestiges - such as Georgian, Basque, Peuhl, Guanche and the dialects of Baluchistan - survive still in outlying areas, which served as a vehicle for ancient Shivaism. It appears that Sumerian, Pelasgian, Etruscan and Lydian, as well as Eteocretan, also belonged to the same linguistic family: the relationship between Sumerian, Georgian and Tamil leaves no doubt as to their origins. Moreover, the Basque language (Eskuara) and Georgian both have the same structure and, even today, have more than three hundred and sixty words in common. Again, Basque songs and dances are related to those of the Caucasian Iberians.

Herodotus (Histories. I. 57) speaks of the barbarian language used by the Pelasgians who in his time were living in Southern Italy and at the Hellespont. He considered that the Pelasgian language was closely related to Etruscan and Lydian. Saint Paul, who was shipwrecked at Malta in 69 A.D., mentions the "barbarian" (non-Aryan) language which was still spoken there. "The main provenance of the Pelasgians was ... from the far side of the Black Sea. There is some possibility that they did not arrive in Crete before the beginning of the second
{p. 22} millennium B.C .... [The name of the place where they lived, Larisa, proues it]." (R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals, pp. 135 and 136.)

According to Jacques Heurgon (La Vie Quotidienne chez les Etrusques, pp. 14-15), "The Etruscans were not newcomers to Italy, but the first inhabitants of a land whose sovereignty was taken from them by the Indo-European invasions, without eliminating them entirely... They were the indomitable descendants of the Bronze Age... The relationship betueen Etruscan, Caucasian, Lycian and the speech of Lemnos points to the existence of an Etruscan-Asiatic language, at first in current use in Italy, the Balkan Peninsula, the Aegean and Asia Minor and then thrust aside by the linguistic pressure of the invaders."

"The Eteocretan language spoken by the inhabitants of Praisos in Crete, up to the third century B.C., was thus the remnant of the common non-Greek language which was once spoken in Greece, Crete and the other islands as well as in the south-west of Asia Minor. Inscriptions at Praisos in Greek characters have not yet been deciphered." (R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals, p. 133.) This was apparently a Dravidian language. It appears that modern linguists have never dreamt of using the agglutinative Dravidian languages, which are still widely spoken in the south of India, as a basis for their research into the ancient languages of the Mediterranean world.

The myth concerning the Aryan origin of civilization, which Rene Guenon termed the classic illusion, is still far from being forgotten. Dravidian languages have a common origin with Finnish-Hungarian languages (Balto-Finnish, Hungarian, Volgaic, Uralian, Samoyedic) and Altaic languages (Turkish, Mongolian and Eskimo), but it seems that the division between this great linguistic family and the Dravido-Mediterranean group during the Palaeolithic Age took place long before the formulation of Shivaism as we know it.

In the Middle East and the Mediterranean world, there was an important civilization of Asian origin, or which was at least linguistically related to Asia before the Aryan invasions. The megalithic monuments, myths and religious traditions common to India and the Mediterranean indicate moreover that this civilization was indeed the vehicle of Shivaism.

Even before the sixth millennium, "the myth of Anat may be classified as belonging to the common elements of the old agricultural civilization which stretched from the Eastern Mediterranean to the
{p. 23} Ganges plain". (M. Eliade, Histoire des croyances et des idees religieuses, p.169.)

After the last Ice Age, the great migrations from India to Portugal began in a climate which finally became more temperate during the fifth millenium. However, it is only starting from the third millenium, that we find remains of an advanced level of civilization. These cultures bear the undeniable stamp of Shivaite thought, myths and symbols, and all of them are more or less contemporary in the cities of the Indus, Sumer, Crete or Malta. The megalithic sanctuaries which are found everywhere from India to the British Isles and America, belong to the same culture, but are often the only vestiges of this stupendous civilization to have survived. The fact that the principal archaeological remains are all of the same period, but at apparently different technological levels, does not exclude the possibility of an advanced civilization. Their preservation depends entirely on the materials used and on prevailing climatic conditions, or sometimes on the total destruction of sites by invaders or bv natural catastrophes, such as the eruptions of Santorini or Vesuvius.

The civilizations of the Indus

On the Indian continent the centres of pre-Aryan Dravidian culture which have left important archaeological remains are mainly found in the Indus valley in present-day Pakistan, especially at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. The siting of these important cities in a region which has become almost a desert has preserved certain elements. This civilization spread over a large part of India and towards the West.

"The contacts [of the cities of the Indus] with the ancient proto-historic and historic civilizations of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt and the Aegean, are important... There exists proof of contacts with Sargon of Akkad (about 2370-2284 2370-2284 B.C.), and with King Urnammu (about 2100 B.C.), although Mohenjo Daro was in existence long before. Objects coming from Mohenjo Daro have been found at Tel Asmar and at Troy (about 2300 B.C.), as well as in a royal tomb at Ur. Bronze objects from Luristan and Mesopotamian weapons have been discovered at Mohenjo Daro... Identical painted steatite necklaces have been found at Harappa and at Knossos... A great number of steatite seals bearing inscriptions in characters of the Indus were discovered at Bahrein (Dilmun), as well as at Ur (about 7350 B.C.) and La~yash (Larsa period)." (Mortimer Wheeler, The Indus Civilizations, pp. 111-115)

{p. 24} The towns of the Indus were founded before 3800 B.C. and lasted until their destruction in 1800 B.C. by the Aryan invaders. The principal religion of the Indus civilization was withbut doubt Shivaism. Extant seals represent an ithyphallic and horned Shiva seated in a Yoga position. or dancing triumphantly as Nataraja. Numerous Shivaite symbols are also found there, such as stone phalli, swastikas. and the images of the bull, the serpent and the Goddess of the Mountains.

"The likelihood that both Shiva and linga (phallus) - worship have been inherited by the Hindus from the Harappans is perhaps reinforced by the prevalence of the bull ... [and also] in less degree, to the tiger, elephant... and 'Minotaurs'... as well as man-faced animals." (Wheeler, ibid., p. 109.)

Given the importance of the contacts mentioned above. it is not at all surprising that the same religion and symbols are found extending from India to the Mediterranean. The problems posed by the Aryan invasions are the same and the survivals of this ancient religion and its periodic reappearance are similar in India, the Middle East and the West.

The Aryans (Indo-Europeans)

The migration of the nomadic Aryan peoples - erroneously called Indo-Europeans - played a considerable role in the history of mankind. They left the regions which today compose the Soviet Union probably for climatic reasons, and successively invaded India, the Middle East and Europe.

"The irruption of the Indo-Europeans into history is marked by terrible devastation. Between 2300 and 1900 B.C., numerous cities in Greece, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia were sacked and burned, such as Troy about 2300 B.C., Beycesultan, Tarsus, and some three hundred towns and settlements in Anatolia ... The dispersal of the Indo-European peoples had begun a few centuries before and was to last through two millennia ... The Dorians from Thessaly descended on Southern Greece towards the end of the second millennium B.C. By about 1200, the Aryans had penetrated into the Indus-Ganges plain, the Iranians were firmly installed, Greece and the islands were Indo-Europeanized ... This process only ceased in the last century. It is not possible to find another such example of linguistic and cultural expansion." (M. Eliade, Histoire des croyances et des idees religieuses, p. 199.)

{p. 25} The Aryan tribes who occupied Latium around 1000 B.C. and founded Rome in about 753, were one of the principal agents of Aryan linguistic expansion. Aryan colonization under the form of Hindi in India, and French, English, Portuguese and Spanish in the rest of the world, still continues today especially in the African and American continents. We do not hesitate to speak of French- or English-speaking Africa and of Latin America, as though we were speaking of something clearly beneficial.
The Vedic texts evoke the struggles against the dasa or dasya and the pani, the continuators or survivors of the Indus civilization who rejected the Vedic cult. They are described as being dark-skinned and having small noses. They spoke a barbarian language and venerated the phallus (shishna deua). They owned large herds and lived in fortified towns (pur). According to the Purana genealogies, it is calculated that the Mahabharata war, which completed the Aryan conquest of India, took place about 1400 B.C. in the Madhyadesha, near Delhi. Other Hindu sources, however, seem to indicate an earlier date.

Primaeval religions

The four religions {animism, Shivaism, Jainism, Aryan i.e. Indo-European polytheism}
We know almost nothing of the religious and philisophical thought of mankind since his appearance nearly two million years ago. Since the beginning of that very recent period which we can consider historical, traces of highly developed civilizations are everywhere to be found, together with languages which, whatever the level of material life, whether primitive or refined, are all equally suitable for expressing the most abstract notions and bear witness to an extremely long evolution of thought.

In India, four main religions correspond to the different approaches to the problem of the supernatural. These have often influenced or opposed each other throughout the course of their long history. They demonstrate mankind's attainment of religious thought since remote prehistory. All later religions can only be considered as adaptations of elements deriving from this marvellous heritage. Really new elements are never found, whatever their claims. The four religions of ancient India correspond to four distinct concepts of the world and of the gods, whose extension well beyond the frontiers of India seems to have been universal. The first of these concepts could be termed animistic.

{animism - first of the four religions}

{p. 26} In the natural order of the world living beings know what they require in order to ensure survival. Side by side with a perceptive mechanism of a practical order all beings are conscious that there is a limit to their senses. They feel more or less confusedly the presence of "something inexplicable", of more subtle powers with which they eventually try to communicate. These powers, which mankind respects and worships, are called spirits or gods. The man who finds his proper place in the natural world becomes conscious of spirits, or aspects of the divine to be found in mountains, springs, rivers and forests. "For all people who live in harmony with the consensus of the powers which surround them ... many animals are sacred, and therefore, in this sense, everything is sacred: sky, earth, fire, air ... The whole life of 'primitive' man is a succession of magical operations aimed at creating an 'affective tie' between himself and the world around him, 'to bind', 'to put a spell on', 'to conjure up' the powers of nature." (Paolo Santarcangeli, Le Livre des Labyrinthes, p. 108.)

Animals too are conscious of invisible presences and have a foreboding of the wrath of the gods, which is made manifest in what we call natural catastrophes. The sudden and absolute silence of the forest during the moments preceding an earthquake is a startling phenomenon. Never do so called savage animals kill for pleasure {wild dogs and cats do sometimes kill prey in a frenzy, more than they need for eating}. They always avoid disturbing the balance of nature. Animistic man behaves in the same way and thus acquires a very acute sense. He asks pardon of the spirit of the tree from which he has to cut a branch. He tries to conciliate the divinities whom he believes protect the world. His life is a perpetual ritual. Respect for the spirit which dwells in all things, in all beings, is thus the basis of all morality and religion, and allows man to reach a level of intuitive knowledge which the logical mind can never grasp. Animistic concepts have been perpetuated amongst the "primitive" tribes of India. Animism is opposed to the appropriation of land, to property, and to agriculture which destroys natural order and to anything which subjects nature to man. It is against the development of urban and industrial civilization. Such a concept, however, appears to be one of the most fundamental approaches to the religious problem. The animistic attitude is not sentimental or "naturist". Hunting is the basis for survival, and the cruelty of the gods and spirits requires sacrifice. It is in this climate that the cult of Murugan or Kumara (the youth) developed, corresponding to the Kouros (the youth) in Crete. He is an infant or adolescent god, a god of Beauty and War, avid for the blood of the
{p. 27} animals sacrificed to him. Indeed, his cult originated amongst the adivasi (the first inhabitants), of which such tribes still existing today speak Munda languages. The symbols associated with this cult are the hunting-spear, the cock and the ram. The Munda legends which Rudyard Kipling has transcribed in the Jungle Book give an interesting insight into the poetic level of Indian Animism.

{Shivaism - second of the four religions}

During the Neolithic Age and early part of the Old Bronze Age, the cult of Pashupati, the Lord of the Animals, and of Parvati, the Lady of the Mountains, became established amongst the Dravidian invaders. It involved a great philosphical and religious movement which under the name of Shivaism was superimposed on Animism, and became the principal source from which later religions have been drawn. The Lord of the Animals and the Lady of the Mountains, who are found in Crete under the names of Zagreus and Cybele, are also found in all the civilizations which are linguistically or culturally related to the Dravidian world. The salient features of this religion are the cult of the phallus, the bull and the snake and, to a lesser extent, of the tiger and lion, the mounts of the goddess. Historical Shivaism was codified towards the end of the sixth millennium B.C. as the result of a fusion between the religions of Pashupati and Murugan, and was designed to satisfy the world's religious needs up to the end of the present cycle. Murugan becomes the son of Shiva. He is called Kumara (the youth), or Skanda (the jet of sperm). The two cults are closely intermingled in their later forms. Murugan, born in a reedy marsh and nourished by nymphs, is elsewhere called Dionysus. Pashupati corresponds to the Cretan god, husband of the Lady of the Mountains. He is called Zan, then Zagreus, and later, Cretan Zeus (Kretagenes). His legend, as in the case of Shiva and Skanda, gradually becomes merged with that of Dionysus.

{Jainism - third of the four religions, early Buddhism being a variant of it}

Another religion which can claim a very long history is Jainism, a puritan religion which believes in transmigration, in the development of the human being through many lives, both in human and animal form. Without being precisely atheistic, Jainism does not envisage the possibility of contacts between man and the supernatural. According to Jainism man can never know with certainty whether or not there exists a creative principle, a god, or prime cause, and there is therefore no reason to be concerned with it. This religion which is more moralistic than ritualistic, insists upon the protection of life, on strict vegetarianism, and total nakedness amongst its followers. Original Buddhism is an adaptation of it.

{p. 28} Mahavira, the last Jaina prophet, was the contemporary and rival of Gautama Buddha. Like the Buddhists, the Jainas sent missionaries to all parts of the world. The influence of these naked ascetics was very important in Greece, as can be perceived in certain of the philosophical schools and in Orphism. Later Hinduism took from Jainism the theory of transmigration and vegetarianism which originally existed neither in Shivaism nor in Vedism.

{Aryan polytheism - fourth of the four religions}

With the Aryan invasions, the great religion of the nomadic peoples of Central Asia was imposed on India and the whole of the Western world. The gods of this religion are in fact natural phenomena and personified human virtues. Indra is the god of the Thunderbolt, Varuna the god of the Waters, Agni the god of Fire, Vavu god of the Wind, Surya god of the Sun, Dyaus the god of Space, while Mitra represents Solidarity, Aryaman Honour, Bhaga the Sharing of goods. Rudra is the Destroyer, Time, the principle of death. He is subsequently identified with Shiva. Although seeking to propitiate the powers of nature by means of sacrifice, the Aryan religion is not a nature religion. It is a religion centred on man which only seeks the aid of the gods in order to ensure his safety and dominion.

{Hinduism is a synthesis of those four religions}

From the second millennium, Shivaism was gradually absorbed into the Aryan Vedic religion, forming on the one hand later Hinduism, and on the other, Mycenaean and Greek religion. However, Shivaism has resisted this merger and periodically reappears in its ancient form in India as well as in Hellenic Dionysism, and in many later mystic or esoteric sects up to modern times.

Orphism is derived from the influence of Jainism, which was very important in the ancient world for its impact on Shivaism-Dionysism. Mithraism, on the other hand, is the attempt of a soldier community to rediscover part of the ritual and initiatory aspects of original Shivaism.

These four great currents of religious thought spread throughout the world combining with local divinities, legends and cults, as did Christianity at a later period. They remain the basis of almost all existing forms of religion, including the Semitic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which derived from ancient Hebrew polytheism. The great Semitic civilization of Egypt absorbed numerous Shivaite elements, in particular the cult of Osiris, and was able to avoid the danger of monotheism, despite the attempt of Akhnaton in the fourteenth century. Monotheism was later to isolate the Semitic religions from ancient cosmological and religious thought.

{I find it difficult to see Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam as derivatives of those four religions; I think Danielou should have made Zoroastrianism a fifth founding religion ... then the origin of Judaism and its offspring would be accounted for. But Danielou presents Judaism, Christianity and Islam as Western morality religions, correlates of Buddhism & Jainism, on p. 224 below. He also sees Judaism's derivation from Akhnaten's religion, on p. 228 below. Perhaps Akhnaten's religion needs to be added to the above five, to make six founding religions}

{p. 29} The religions of the Far East will not be included in the scope of this book. although Shivaite influence on Taoism is evident and Jaina rationalism had a great influence on Confucianism. Later, through Buddhism, Jaina and Shivaite influences again made themselves felt in China, Southeast Asia and Tibet, by means of Mahayana Tantrism, which was largely a fusion of the two religions. Indian Tantric texts moreover, often mention the existence of "Chinese rites" (Cinachara).


Whether dealing with heroes, divine incarnations or gods, all mythology is founded on the personification of certain cosmological principles or particular virtues. "Together with the gods, I will tell of the birth of the elements which they personify," says Hesiod. What counts in mythology are the inherent principles and not the legends with which they are surrounded in order to make them more readily understood. It is of no importance that these legends are legion, differing from one region to another, from one visionary poet to another. We should not lose sight of the fact that such myths or legends are only there to make abstract ideas and universal realities more comprehensible.

The wicked fairy remains the wicked fairy even if we invent new fairy-tales. Heroes are attributed with certain acts which surpass reality, but which are designed to emphasize their virtues and the teachings which they personify. To attribute to Jesus of Nazareth the miracles and legends of Dionysus or Krishna does not detract from his message, but serves to make his divine nature more easily understood. To try to see only strictly historical facts is to deny his divinity and his value as an eternal symbol.

The legends surrounding a particular divine aspect in the various civilizations only differ in the indigenous names given to the heroes and gods. These wonderful tales illustrate universal cosmological or philosophic concepts by incorporating them in a local pantheon to make them more accessible and, occasionally, to mask their meaning from the uninitiated who take these legends literally. The same process is found everywhere, whether in the myths of Dionysus, Bacchus, Zagreus or the Minotaur, of Egyptian Osiris or Roman Liber. In the same way, the legends were adapted so as to include Shiva and his cult amongst the Vedic gods or in Tibetan Buddhism. Thus saints are substituted for gods in the Christian world: the life of Buddha appears in the lives of the saints under the name of Saint Joshaphat.

{p. 30} We are so used to connecting the idea of civilization with a certain level of technological development that we lose sight of the level of human knowledge and culture in those times which we term prehistoric. Only through a few archaeological accidents have the extremely evolved art forms and culture of the Neolithic and even Palaeolithic periods been brought to light - periods during which we imagine the Earth to have been peopled with bearded savages armed with clubs! It is evident that some of the artists invited to decorate the subterranean sanctuaries of Lascaux or Altamira, between the fifteenth and sixth millennia B.C., possessed an excellent technique and a masterly hand. They did not live below ground and their usual occupation must therefore have been the decoration of relatively luxurious dwellings. Similar forms of art exist even today in Indian villages built of daub and wood which, once destroyed, leave no trace.

The first Egyptian dynasties date from the end of the fourth millennium. In the same period the Sumerians, speaking an agglutinative (Dravidian) language, migrated from the Indus to Mesopotamia which was already highly civilized. More than a thousand years later the builders of the megaliths brought a similar civilization to Northern Europe.

From the beginning of the sixth millennium, the marks of Shivaism are to be found everywhere: the cult of the bull, the snake and the phallus, the royal symbol of the horns, Yoga positions, funeral chambers, both in those places where urban remains have survived and where only cliff-face engravings still exist.

It is very often the case that in order to explain ancient rites and symbols, we have only much later attempts to rediscover knowledge almost lost as a consequence of cataclysms, barbarian invasions, or religious upheavals. This is true of the Greeks in relation to the Minoans or of the Celts in relation to the megalithic civilization. Behind Hesiod's Theogony, the most ancient Greek text on mythology, a more precise and less superficial text may be glimpsed, the deeper meaning of which Hesiod does not always comprehend.

The first great period of Minoan art in Crete dates from about 2600 B.C. Knossos and Phaistos were destroyed for the first time by a sudden catastrophe, probably the explosion of the volcano of Santorini in about 1700 B.C. The first Achaeans seem to have appeared around 1600 B.C. As "a prize of war", they brought back to Peloponnese the Minoan religion, which was the basis of what is termed Mycenaean culture. The Achaeans gradually installed themselves in Crete and
{p. 31} must have destroyed Knossos for the first time around 1400 B.C. Its final destruction by the Dorians took place in ahout 1100 B.C. In Malta, the monumental temples of Ggantija were built between about 2800 and 2400 B.C. There appear the cults of the bull, the phallus and the goddess. The dolychocephalic-type Mediterranean population was totally annihilated in about 2400 B.C. and after a vacant period was replaced by a round-headed (brachycephalic) population who created the Tarxien civilization, similar to the Mycenaean, which was also destroyed about 2000 B.C. Such was the destruction that no survivor remained.

"The disappearance of the Minoan civilization, the most ancient to have flourished in Europe, is one of the most appalling dramas in the history of Europe, which has always been particularly dramatic ... Until the flowering of the new Greek civilization, the continent fell hack into an agricultural life without a history." ( Paolo Santarcangeli, Le Livre des labyrinthes, pp. 96 and 187.) "The Achaean conquerors were not capable of making their own, any more than they were capable of promoting, the artistic efforts and organization of those whom they had conquered and subjected... The Minoans, after two thousand years in which they had built up the first Western civilization, disappeared from the scene of European history." (Gaetano De Sanctis, Storia dei Greci, p. 138.) We must understand that the same distance which separates the end of the original Minoan civilization from the Greece of Pericles, separates us from the Roman Empire. It is therfore quite logical that only popular traditions concerning the Yogic and philosophical bases of rites and symbols were able to be transmitted through the still barbarous conquerors. The seriousness with which mythological accounts are taken nowadays sometimes appears highly comical. It is imagined that ancient peoples took symbolic accounts for realities, even though today the Hindu kirtana poets still invent daily new episodes in the legend of the gods. Christians take as historical fact the symbolic accounts of the Bible and the Gospel. They go and dig on the top of Mount Ararat to find the remains of Noah's Ark even though the flood myth is universal, known to the Hindus as to the Babylonians and the American peoples, and each tradition makes the Ark ground on a different mountain.

Modern interpretations, although giving proof of considerable erudition and certain intuition, are often founded on a lack of appreciation of the intellectual level and knowledge of man in
{p. 32} relatively distant times. At this level, we are not yet entirely free from the dogma of the creation of the world in the year 4963 B.C., still held as an article of faith by certain Christian theologians at the beginning of this century.

The origins of Shivaism

According to Indian sources and as confirmed by numerous archaeological data, it was during the sixth millennium B.C. - a period which more or less corresponds to what we call the Neolithic Age - that Shivaism was revealed or codified. This great religion was derived from animistic concepts and from the long religious experience of prehistoric man, of which there remain only a few rare archaeological indications and allusions to mythical sages in later writings. Starting from this period, Shivaite rites and symbols begin to appear both in India and in Europe: the cult of the bull, the phallus, the ram, the snake, the Lady of the Mountains, as well as ecstatic dances the swastika, the labyrinth, sacrifices, etc. Thus it is difficult to determine where Shivaism was born. Its origins stretch far back into the history of man. The megalithic monuments and symbolic representations testifying to its presence are so widespread: the traditions, legends, rites and festivities deriving from it are found in so many regions, that it appears everywhere as one of the main sources of later religions. There is nothing to prove that India was the place where it originated, since Shivaite rites and symbols appear almost simultaneously in different parts of the world. However, only in India have these traditions and what are known as Dionysiac rites been maintained without interruption from prehistoric times until today. Greek texts speak of Dionysus' mission to India, and Indian texts-of the expansion of Shivaism towards the West. According to Diodorus, the epitaph of Osiris (identified with Dionysus) mentioned Osiris' expeditions to India and the countries of the North. Innumberable similarities in mythological accounts and iconographic survivals leave no doubt as to the original unity of Shivaism and the wide extent of its influence.

A great cultural movement extending from India to Portugal took place during the sixth millennium B.C. This movement is apparently related to the diffusion of Shivaism, and is characterized by a naturalistic art giving great importance to animals. We only possess vague legendary allusions to the period and only the chance discovery of "prehistoric" sites has been able to supply some points of reference.

{p. 33} It was, in fact, the era during which civilization used wood, and it appears almost strange to call such a period the "Stone Age". 'Wood' civilizations still exist in India and Southeast Asia, and it is well known that, whatever their degree of refinement, they leave practically no trace behind them. All the symbols associated with the cult of Shiva - the erect phallus, the horned god, the bull, the snake, the ram, the Lady of the Mountains - are found in this cultural and agricultural complex which, starting from 6000 B.C., spread westward to Europe and Africa and eastward to southern Asia. "The young naked ithyphallic god seated on a throne is present at all stages in Ancient Europe, from Proto-Sesklo and Starcevo (sixth millennium) to Dimini and the Vinca period. He wears a horned mask. He is also represented standing, holding his sexual organ with both hands... However, the principal manifestation of the male god seems to have been in the form of a bull, sometimes a bull with a human face or a man with a bull's head." (Valcamonica Symposium, Les Religions de la Prehistoire, p. 135.) During the Vinca period in Rumania (from the seventh to the fifth millennium), archaeological research has given evidence of the bull cult, the bull with human face, the ithyphallic and horned god, the phallus cult, and the phallus with a face. The dead are buried in a Yoga position, as at Lepenski Vir, near the Iron Gates of the Danube.

The first true Shivaite images are found at Catal Hoyuk in Anatolia, dating from about 6000 B.C. The cults of Osiris, the bull and the ram, appear just after the dawn of Egyptian civilization. In Egypt, the cults of bull-Osiris and ram-Osiris are found in a fused form, although originally separate, as in the case of the fusion of the cults of bull-Shiva and ram-Skanda. There also exists a colossal statue of the ithyphallic god Min, coming from predynastic Egypt and dating from the middle of the fifth millennium B.C. It was during this period that the Minoan peoples arrived in Crete (about 4500), as well as in Anatolia, Cyprus, Malta and Santorini. Concepts such as the Yin and Yang - a Chinese transcription of the words Yoni (vulva) and Linga (phallus) -, representing the closely entwined female and male principles, are in no way different from the Linga inserted into the arghia (receptacle) as used in the Shivaite cult, and indicate the influence of Shivaite symbolism at the very source of Chinese thought.
Images of the bull-god or horned god, the Lord of the Animals, similar to those at Mohenjo Daro, are found in pre-Celtic and Minoan
{p. 34} tradition. In southeast Asia (Cambodia, Java, Bali), Shivaism is closely linked with the very beginnings of civilization. In Bali, it is even now the predominant aspect of religion. The temples of Angkor, like the ancient temples of Java, are for the most part Shivaite.

During the fourth millennium, a Shivaite civilization arose in the Indus plain. The Sumerians, who probably came from the Indus, arrived in Mesopotamia by sea. The religion which they practised spread all over the Middle East, to Crete and continental Greece. From the beginning of the third millennium up to the Aryan invasions, the three great sister-civilizations of Mohenjo Daro, Sumer and Knossos developed along parallel lines, extending over the whole European continent on the one side, and central and east India and southeast Asia on the other.

The end of the third millennium appears as an important date. It was in fact in about 3000 B.C. that the (historical) flood took place, dividing the Sumerian dynasties into antediluvian and postdiluvian. According to Hindu chronology, the beginning of the Kali Yuga, the Age of Conflicts, or Modern Age, also dates from this period.

During the same period, a new people of Atlanto-Mediterranean race appeared in Malta, and subsequently in Armorica, coming from the Mediterranean probably by way of the Iberian Peninsula. "They introduced a new religion and new burial customs. The megalithic civilization belongs to them: during the course of two thousand years, the soil of the peninsula was covered with their monuments. The tumulus of Saint-Michel at Carnac was built about the year 3000 B.C., the lines of the stones dating from around 2000. The builders of the megaliths... certainly preserved contacts with Iberia and further afield, with their origins in Crete or in the Middle East ... or at least were not ignorant of their existence... nor of the rites practised there by the bull-worshippers." (Gwenc'hlan Le Scouezec, Guide de la Bretagne mysterieuse, pp. 72 and 99.) The palace [of Knossos], the temple of the solar bull, has a subtle but close link with the stone circles to be found in our countryside." (R. A. Macalister, Ireland in Preceltic Times.) "The menhir statues of upper Adige and Liguria. . . (as well as) Stonhenge and other megalithic monuments. . . seem to derive from a prototype which appeared at Mycenae around the sixteenth to the fourteenth century B.C." (Paolo Santarcangeli, Le Livre des Labyrinthes, p. 139.) The designs of the labyrinths at Valcamonica date from 1800 to 1300 B.C. Those of Malta are several centuries older.

{p. 35} The birth of Dionysus

The beginnings of Minoan civilization seem to stretch back to the middle of the fifth millennium and are therefore contemporary with predynastic Egypt. The greatest Minoan period, however, as shown by its incredible artistic development, (which may well be a period of spiritual decadence and does not necessarily correspond to a parallel progress on an intellectual and religious level), stretches from about 2800 to about 1800 B.C. The monumental temples in Malta were built between 2800 and 20000. This Mediterranean civilization is thus contemporary with the postdiluvian Sumerian civilization and also with the greatest period of Mohenjo Daro and the cities of the Indus, with which there is an evident relationship. Whatever the importance of the most ancient archaeological data emerging from all over the Mediterranean world - Anatolia and the Middle East, as well as of Sumerian or Babylonian literary references - it is only with the Minoan civilization and its Greek heritage that Shivaite rites and myths, in their Dionysian version, make their real debut into what we know as the religious history of the Western world.

Cretan civilization developed due to a considerable contribution from Asian civilizations. "Neolithic Crete may be considered as the most important extension of the Anatolian province as a whole." (Evans, The Palace of Minos, chap. 1, p. 14.) Relations with Egypt, Greece and the Middle East were constantly maintained throughout Cretan history. "Trained... architects and painters... were invited... from Asia (possibly from Alalakh... ) to build and decorate the palaces of the Cretan rulers... The technique of fresco painting... and methods of construction ... employed in Yarim-Lim's palace. [on the Syrian coast] are the same as those... of Knossos... Moreover, Yarim-Lim's palace antedates by more than a century the Cretan examples in the same style." ( R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals, p. 17.)

According to Homer (Odyssey XIX, 178), Minos governed Crete and the isles of the Aegean three generations before the Trojan War, which took place during the thirteenth century B.C. He is therefore referrjng to the second Cretan civilization, which was influenced by the Achaeans. As in the Mesopotamian civilizations, many elements characteristic of Shivaism are found in Minoan Crete: the young god, the Goddess of the Mountain, the bull and the Minotaur, the snake, the horns, the lion, the he-goat, the sacred tree and the phallic pillar, the bull sacrifice and the esctatic dance of the Korybantes and {p. 36} Kouretes, who are in all aspects identical to the Ganas, the young companions of Shiva and his followers. The symbols of the swastika. the double axe and the labyrinth derive, as we shall see later, from Indian ideas related to Yogic experience and to the Earth cult. The same symbols are found at Malta, where extremely important monumental remains have survived.

The Minoans sought harmony between man and nature. Their paintings show us a peaceful and idyllic life in fairy-like, enchanted surroundings, recalling the earthly paradise of Shiva-Pashupati, the Lord of the Animals. We do not know what name was given to the god at the time of the first King Minos, but it was probably Zan, Hellenized into Zagreus and later identified with Zeus. The name Zeus is Indo-European. "The Achaeans who came into Crete gave the name of their sky-god to a Minoan deity... Zagreus... was an Oriental name. . . [from] Phoenicia. . . [and is probably an] ethnic from Mount Zagron, between Assyria and Media... This Idaian Zeus, also honoured by the Kouretes... is the old Cretan god who is so like Dionysus elsewhere that it is natural for the initiated mystic to describe himself as Bakkhos... [This god] who dies and is born again ... causes the renewal of life in the worshipper who enters into his mysteries, culminating in the eating of the raw flesh of the animal which is the god himself made manifest - the bull, whose blood also sanctified his shrines." ( R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals, pp. 200-203, 240.) Euripides mentions Zagreus in The Cretans: "I have sounded the thunder of Zagreus who wanders by night, accomplished the raw-flesh feasts and held high the torches to the Mountain-mother, torches of the Kouretes, Hallowed and named as a Bakkhos. All-white are the clothes I wear and I shun human birth, touch no urn of the dead and their tombs, have been on guard to all taste of meat".

The myths concerning the young god and the Cretan goddess are similar to those of Shiva and Parvati. An echo is found in the myths of Ishtar and Tammuz, Isis and Osiris, and Venus and Adonis. Rhea, the Goddess of the Mountain, is the Indian Parvatl (she of the mountain). The names of Diktynna and Artemis also evoke the idea of a mountain-mother. The name Diktynna comes from the name of a mountain, Mount Dikte. Parvati is the daughter of Himavat (the Himalayas). .....

#1175 - November 29, 2009 10:41 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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A brief introduction to technological brilliance of Ancient India
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Food Science:
Variety of Indian foods, balanced nutritious foods, natural traditional baby foods, the medicinal components usually added in foods � like asafetida, turmeric, spices etc. � advised food during illness, specialized cooking, roasting, fermenting, processing, preserving, etc done for variety of foods ands their science. Generation of specific flavors in foods by suitable modifying spices. The science of altering the foods during fasting on specific days. Opting for integrated balance foods through fasting and vrathaas, science of selecting variety foods based on seasons, importance of selecting cooking vessels � for getting micronutrients like iron, zinc, copper, silica, magnesium, sodium, potassium etc. - variety of vegetable and their significance in balanced healthy foods. Many more significant scientific observations can be made in a student carefully examine the Indian foods, Naturopathy, Vegetarian food.

The ancient Indian knowledge on chemicals and the subject of Chemistry given in Rasaratna Samucchayam, Rasarnavam, Rasendra Choodamani, Rasa Ratnakaram etc and many similar books. These books are available in Sanskrit with English and Hindi translations. Sanskrit names of chemicals, details of setting up a laboratory, scientific temper, qualification of chemists, laboratory assistant, research scholars, properties of inorganic chemicals, and their used described by Nagarjuna centuries ago. Chemicals used for a various purposes as described in Bharadhvaja in Yantra Sarvaswa, Varahamihira in Bruhath Samhita and also by others in the above chemistry books.

Variety of plant products, neem, tulasi, clove, pepper, turmeric, tobacco, oils like sesame oil, cotton seed oil, castor oil etc are used as bio-pesticides and some as preservatives. Traditional methods of pest control are also available from old farmers.

Plant Drugs Pharmacology:
Active plant bio-chemicals, processing medicinal plants, etc. Understand as many plants as possible which are good sources of the bio-active principles. Variety of plants used for curing diseases like herbs, shrubs, creepers, grass, trees etc. The plant leaves, buds, flowers, stems, roots, latex etc. used for treating specific diseases. Single drug treatment.

Medicines and Medicinal Preparations - Plant Biochemistry:
The descriptions of inorganic chemicals used as medicines in ancient Indian Rasa Chikitsa books, their preparations, processing, and prevention. The plant products used as drugs, the raw drugs, their harvesting, drying, storage, mixing, drug formulation, decoction preparation etc. Variety of Ayurvedic drug formulation obtained by mixing many raw drugs. Knowledge on the preparation while drying, storing, heating roasting, boiling with water, concentration etc in all Ayurvedic preparations. Here we have to focus only on the knowledge existed and their scientific merits in the area of plant drugs.

Basic Plant Sciences Botany:
Detailed description given in Vrukshayurveda by Saarngadhra, Katyayana, Varahamihira, Parasara, and others. Plant growth, grafting, irrigation, use of manure, seeds preservation, phototropism, agricultural practices both basic and applied. Varity of the traditional knowledge still practiced in villages in production of agriculture commodities.

Fermentation Technology:
Fermentation of milk to curd and yoghurt, fruit juice, medicinal preparations of arishtas etc. Fermentation procedures followed in four major types liquors mentioned in Chanakya�s Artha Saastra, the source of microorganisms, cultures, fermentation products mentioned in the Ayurvedic and Vrukshayurvedic books. Fermented rice based common solid foods like pancake, fermentation of traditional liquors from coconut and palm products.

Ancient Indian Mines:
Knowledge on the ancient Indian mines which were active during last three or more millennia, mines of the ores and minerals of copper, gold, zinc, lead and silver which were distributed throughout Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc. The technology adopted for digging, mining, transportation, processing on the spot, provisions given for aeration, and lighting in mines etc. The present day scenes of ancient metallurgical sites.

Ancient Indian Knowledge in Metallurgy:
The production and purification of metals, use of flux and slag, temperature attained, technology for production and purification of metals like tin, copper, iron, silver, zinc, lead. An understanding of the chemical reactions accomplished like oxidation, reduction, slag formation, distillation of low boiling metals etc.

The fine technology used for the large scale production of bronze, brass, panchaloha, bell metal, coin making metals and many alloys mentioned in chemistry books and also in the books like Channakya�s Arthasaastra. Impressive metallic alloy preparation techniques mentioned in the Rasa books, Rasopanishad and Bharadvaajaa�s writings. The mental ingots, sheets, plates etc of Indian origin excavated from other countries like Athens, Babylonia, Rome, and Egypt.

Iron making Technology:
Production of pig iron, cast iron, and wrought iron in ancient India. Delhi and Dhar iron pillar, forge welding, lamination, paint coating for preventing rusting. Making of swords, the Banaras and Kodumanal swords, carburization in iron instruments used in agriculture and surgery. Rust free preservation techniques adopted for iron, woortz steel. Large scale production of iron alloys, export of iron to European and Middle East countries etc.

Ceramics Science and Technology:
The top quality ceramic vessels, tiles, glazed vessels, beads, bricks etc produced in Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, Varanasi, Thakshasila, Kalibhangan, Hastinapura and many other north and south Indian archeological sites. Variety of coloring materials used for the ceramic vessels and decoration ceramic articles.

Glass Technology:
Industrial and Instrumental Glass Technology existed in India. Variety of multi colored glasses with different size, shape, appearance, and capacity produced in India. The glass beads, ornaments, plates, vessels made using variety of inorganic coloring materials like the oxides, carbonates, sulfates, phosphates etc of chromium, lead, copper, iron, nickel, calcium, and sodium. The non metallic compounds used as coloring materials. Technology introducing the golden and silver leaf plates in glass.

General Instruments used in Ancient India:
Descriptions of a variety of instruments are given in Bharadvaja�s Yanthra Sarvaswa � only a part of this book is available now. The Vaimanika Saastra, Dvaantha Pramapaka Yanthra etc. the numbering systems with serial numbers of the components of instruments, alloy preparations, quality of lenses, prisms, glass plates, variety of Kithara Aloha � artificial metallic alloys having non metallic compounds also- dies used for molding the instrument parts and components, in required size and shape. The instruments used in astro0nomical calculations know under the title of Jyothir Yanthra.

Musical Instruments:
Variety of string instruments for music and dance performances, the metallic alloys used for the preparation of strings, wind instruments, the knowledge of sound waves, the membrane instruments, preparation and processing of the membranes for these musical instruments.

The basic knowledge of sound in music. The granite music pillars known as Sangeetha Mandapa seen in ancient south Indian temples. Traditional Indian musical instruments like flute, idakka, mrudanga, chenda, thaala, naadaswara, veena, violin, harmonium and so on. The basic principles adopted in their making and use.

Surgical Instruments:
The surgical instruments known as Sastras and Yanthras numbering more than a hundred as mentioned in Susrutha Samhitha. The metals used for making these
instruments, their size, shape, and comparison with the modern instruments used for the purpose. Description of plastic surgery techniques. The instruments for kidney stone removal, stitching, cutting open etc.

Laboratory Equipments:
More than 35 types of ceramics and metallic equipments mentioned in Rasaratna Samuchaya for the use in chemical laboratories for the processes like distillation, sublimation, extraction, drying, heating, roasting, mixing, decanting etc. Generally known under the name of Yanthras made using specific quality clays.

Kilns, Furnaces, Mushas & Putas:
Variety of furnaces, Kilns, and crucibles used for the production of various metals and alloys. The temperature attained for oxidation, reduction, slag preparation, and distillation of variety of metals and correspondingly suitable selection of putas or furnaces. Heating materials and their proportions, heating time, flux used for removing the impurities in the metal processing, description of maha gajaputa, gajaputa, kukkuta puta, kapotha puta etc, and their preparations.

Painting Technology & Colorants:
The chemistry of paints used in Ajantha, Ellora and other cave temple paintings, mural paintings, the inorganic colors and paint products used for paintings, their preparation, mixing, applying on the preprocessed surfaces. Selecting and processing plant products used as paints. The preparation of inks for variety of applications mural paintings, oil paintings, preparation of painting beds, walls, canvass etc. as done in cave temples and walls.

Textile Technology:
Ancient Indian textile industry as mentioned in Chanakya�s Artha Saastra, textiles produced using cotton, silk, wool, jute, and also incorporation of gold, silver, and lead metallic threads as boarders for the textiles. The famous Kancheepuram, textile dyes, leather colors, variety of coloring materials produced in different parts of India and method of application of the dyes.

Architecture & Civil Engineering:
The civil engineering skill demonstrated in the famous south Indian temples constructed by the kings of the Chola, Chera, Pandya, Hoysaalsa, Kakateeya, and Vijaya Nagara periods. The huge and tall entrances or gopurams of these temples. The mortars, cements used for the construction of these temples. The instruments used for measuring, maintaining the geometry of these structures. The granite, marble, latt� rite stone cutting and polishing equipments and devises existed during that time. The transportation techniques adopted for the huge granite pieces. Construction of marble temples, palaces, and lake palaces of Rajasthan.

The temples of Kancheepuram, Rameswaram, Chidambaram, Kumbhakonam, Thiruvannamali, Sucheendram, Trivandrum, Konarak, and Khajuraho. The music pillars and music mandapas, the knowledge on the sound waves produced by these granite pillars and granite stone carvings � thick, thin, pointed and so on. The carvings undertaken with top precision in all the above structures. The construction of cave temples of Ajantha, Ellora, Elephanta, and the knowledge on geological aspects of rocks in which the Chaityaas and Viharas were carved out. Huge palaces constructed particularly like Jaisalamar palace, palaces in the pink city of Rajasthan, Gwalior, Mysore, Hyderabad etc.

The air conditioning or temperature maintaining mechanisms adopted glazed and non glazed tiles and glasses used for flooring and windows. The ponds and water reservoirs made thousands of years ago. Try to learn as many structures constructed as possible and their technologies. The civil engineering sciences and technologies of forts and walls, channels, rivers etc. the archeologically important sites of Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, Harappa, Dwaraka, the lost city of Cambay etc.

Physics in Ancient India:
The velocity of light, wave nature of sound, seven colors of light, Heisenberg�s uncertainty principles, definition and explanation of atoms, gravitational forces, different types of rays like UV, IR, Heat rays, visible rays � as explained by Bharadvaja. Lenses, prisms, magnetic materials like iron and variety of magnets, time, weights, and measures, linear parameters. List the Ancient observations which are equivalent to modern scientific principles.

Mathematics & Astronomy:
Detailed knowledge in mathematics is given in the books written by Aryabhatta I, Aryabhatta III, Bhaskara I, Bhaskara II, Vateswara, Manjula, Lalla, Varahamihira, Parameswara, Sankaranarayana, and many other mathematicians.

The four number systems � Sanskrit number, Aryabhatta number, Bhootha Sankya and Katapayaadi number. Progressions, various geometrical parameters connected with area, perimeter, volume of squares, triangles, circles, trapeziums, spheres, cones, cyclic quadrilaterals, polygonals, detailed algebra, quadratic equations, monomial, and binomial theorems etc. hundreds of theorems developed by Aryabhatta, Bhaskara, Sankaranarayana, Sangamagrama Madhavacharya, Puthumana Somayaji, Vateswara, Aryabhatta II, Sankara Varman, Paramewaracharya.

The application of ka ta pa yaasi number and Bhootha Sankhya systems made by the above mathematicians. Sine, Cosine, and Tangent, Rsine values and their tables, method of determining these values, angles in degrees and radians, calculations and theorems connected with these values. Relation among radius-arc-chord- circumference- sine-cosine- tangent-angles etc.

Astronomical Parameters:
Various astronomical parameters mentioned in ancient Indian books. The spherical shape, size, diameter, circumference, gravity, declination, rotation speed, revolution, latitude, longitude, parallax in latitude and longitude, earthsine etc. of earth. many mote astronomical parameters described with definition by Vateswaracharya, like co-latitude, prime meridian and its relation with time, sunrise and sunset, eight type of revolutions of planets, visibility of planets, declination, precision equinox, alpha Aeries point, apogee, perigee, solar and lunar eclipse, calculation of eclipse diameter of shadow and movement of shadow, instruments used for time calculation and also for the calculation of various astronomical parameters know as Yanthras.

Indian Management Science:
Management principles explained by Chanakya in Chanakya Neetisara, Bharthru Hari in Upadesa Sathaka, Vidura in Vidura Neetisara, Bhishma in Bhishmopadesa and other books like Yoga Vaasishta, Bhagavath Geetha, Sukra Neetisara, Subhashitams mentioned in Panchathantra, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Thirukkural etc.

Economics in Ancient India:
The book of Artha Saastra written by Chanakya, also known as Koutileeyam, which is the book of ancient Indian Economics. There are many books mentioned in Artha Saastra like books of Saastras and Smruthies dealing with subjects like money, budget, banking, interest, loans, compound interest, penal interest, surety, witness, documents for loans, pledging of materials, leasing etc.

The detailed method of implementing sales tax, agricultural tax, property tax, gift tax, land tax, house tax, customs duty, and penal taxes etc as described in Dharma Saastra.

Indian Philosophy:
The philosophical compilations known as Darsanas by Vyaasa, Jaiminee, Pathanjali, Gouthama, Kapila, and Kanaada � poorva & uttara Meemamsa, Yoga, Nyaaya,
Vaiseshikaa are the most important books known as Shad Darsanas. Many fundamental principals of physics, chemistry, biology etc are mentioned in the above Darsanas. Adi Sankara�s Adwaitha and Madhava�s Dwaitha. The book of Charvaka known as Charvaka Samhitha of atheism. Other than the specific philosophical compilations, the philosophy described in Upanishad, Bhaghavat Geetha, Yogavasishta etc.

Dharmic way of Life Style:
The unique Indian life style. The self imposed duties and responsibilities including privileges coming under Dharma Saastra. The Dharmas or duties of each family member know as Prithu-father, Mathru-mother, Putra-son, Putri-daughter, Pathnee-wife, Bhartru-husband Dharmas. Similarly Dharma of a teacher, village head, king, queen, four Purushaarthaas � Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha, four Aasramas � Brahmacharya, Gruhasta, Sanyaasa and Vaanaprastha, selection of jobs or professions and specialization based on Varnas.

#1176 - January 23, 2010 05:21 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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The Colonial Legacy - Myths and Popular Beliefs

While few educated South Asians would deny that British Colonial rule was detrimental to the interests of the common people of the sub-continent - several harbor an illusion that the British weren't all bad. Didn't they, perhaps, educate us - build us modern cities, build us irrigation canals - protect our ancient monuments - etc. etc. And then, there are some who might even say that their record was actually superior to that of independent India's! Perhaps, it is time that the colonial record be retrieved from the archives and re-examined - so that those of us who weren't alive during the freedom movement can learn to distinguish between the myths and the reality.

Literacy and Education

Several Indians are deeply concerned about why literacy rates in India are still so low. So in the last year, I have been making a point of asking English-speaking Indians to guess what India's literacy rate in the colonial period might have been. These were Indians who went to school in the sixties and seventies (only two decades after independence) - and I was amazed to hear their fairly confident guesses. Most guessed the number to be between 30% and 40%. When I suggested that their guess was on the high side - they offered 25% to 35%. No one was prepared to believe that literacy in British India in 1911 was only 6%, in 1931 it was 8%, and by 1947 it had crawled to 11%! That fifty years of freedom had allowed the nation to quintuple it's literacy rate was something that almost seemed unfathomable to them. Perhaps - the British had concentrated on higher education ....? But in 1935, only 4 in 10,000 were enrolled in universities or higher educational institutes. In a nation of then over 350 million people only 16,000 books (no circulation figures) were published in that year (i.e. 1 per 20,000).

Urban Development

It is undoubtedly true that the British built modern cities with modern conveniences for their administrative officers. But it should be noted that these were exclusive zones not intended for the "natives" to enjoy. Consider that in 1911, 69 per cent of Bombay's population lived in one-room tenements (as against 6 per cent in London in the same year). The 1931 census revealed that the figure had increased to 74 per cent - with one-third living more than 5 to a room. The same was true of Karachi and Ahmedabad. After the Second World War, 13 per cent of Bombay's population slept on the streets. As for sanitation, 10-15 tenements typically shared one water tap!

Yet, in 1757 (the year of the Plassey defeat), Clive of the East India Company had observed of Murshidabad in Bengal: "This city is as extensive, populous and rich as the city of London..." (so quoted in the Indian Industrial Commission Report of 1916-18). Dacca was even more famous as a manufacturing town, it's muslin a source of many legends and it's weavers had an international reputation that was unmatched in the medieval world. But in 1840 it was reported by Sir Charles Trevelyan to a parliamentary enquiry that Dacca's population had fallen from 150,000 to 20,000. Montgomery Martin - an early historian of the British Empire observed that Surat and Murshidabad had suffered a similiar fate. (This phenomenon was to be replicated all over India - particularly in Awadh (modern U.P) and other areas that had offered the most heroic resistance to the British during the revolt of 1857.)

The percentage of population dependant on agriculture and pastoral pursuits actually rose to 73% in 1921 from 61% in 1891. (Reliable figures for earlier periods are not available.)

In 1854, Sir Arthur Cotton writing in "Public Works in India" noted: "Public works have been almost entirely neglected throughout India... The motto hitherto has been: 'Do nothing, have nothing done, let nobody do anything....." Adding that the Company was unconcerned if people died of famine, or if they lacked roads and water.

Nothing can be more revealing than the remark by John Bright in the House of Commons on June 24, 1858, "The single city of Manchester, in the supply of its inhabitants with the single article of water, has spent a larger sum of money than the East India Company has spent in the fourteen years from 1834 to 1848 in public works of every kind throughout the whole of its vast dominions."

Irrigation and Agricultural Development

There is another popular belief about British rule: 'The British modernized Indian agriculture by building canals'. But the actual record reveals a somewhat different story. " The roads and tanks and canals," noted an observer in 1838 (G. Thompson, "India and the Colonies," 1838), ''which Hindu or Mussulman Governments constructed for the service of the nations and the good of the country have been suffered to fall into dilapidation; and now the want of the means of irrigation causes famines." Montgomery Martin, in his standard work "The Indian Empire", in 1858, noted that the old East India Company "omitted not only to initiate improvements, but even to keep in repair the old works upon which the revenue depended."

The Report of the Bengal Irrigation Department Committee in 1930 reads: "In every district the Khals (canals) which carry the internal boat traffic become from time to time blocked up with silt. Its Khals and rivers are the roads end highways of Eastern Bengal, and it is impossible to overestimate the importance to the economic life of this part of the province of maintaining these in proper navigable order ....... " "As regards the revival or maintenance of minor routes, ... practically nothing has been done, with the result that, in some parts of the Province at least, channels have been silted up, navigation has become limited to a few months in the year, and crops can only be marketed when the Khals rise high enough in the monsoon to make transport possible".

Sir William Willcock, a distinguished hydraulic engineer, whose name was associated with irrigation enterprises in Egypt and Mesopotamia had made an investigation of conditions in Bengal. He had discovered that innumerable small destructive rivers of the delta region, constantly changing their course, were originally canals which under the English regime were allowed to escape from their channels and run wild. Formerly these canals distributed the flood waters of the Ganges and provided for proper drainage of the land, undoubtedly accounting for that prosperity of Bengal which lured the rapacious East India merchants there in the early days of the eighteenth century.. He wrote" Not only was nothing done to utilize and improve the original canal system, but railway embankments were subsequently thrown up, entirely destroying it. Some areas, cut off from the supply of loam-bearing Ganges water, have gradually become sterile and unproductive, others improperly drained, show an advanced degree of water-logging, with the inevitable accompaniment of malaria. Nor has any attempt been made to construct proper embankments for the Gauges in its low course, to prevent the enormous erosion by which villages and groves and cultivated fields are swallowed up each year."

"Sir William Willcock severely criticizes the modern administrators and officials, who, with every opportunity to call in expert technical assistance, have hitherto done nothing to remedy this disastrous situation, from decade to decade." Thus wrote G. Emerson in "Voiceless Millions," in 1931 quoting the views of Sir William Willcock in his "Lectures on the Ancient System of Irrigation in Bengal and its Application to Modern Problems" (Calcutta University Readership Lectures, University of Calcutta, 1930)


#1177 - January 23, 2010 05:22 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Modern Medicine and Life Expectancy

Even some serious critics of colonial rule grudgingly grant that the British brought modern medicine to India. Yet - all the statistical indicators show that access to modern medicine was severely restricted. A 1938 report by the ILO (International Labor Office) on "Industrial Labor in India" revealed that life expectancy in India was barely 25 years in 1921 (compared to 55 for England) and had actually fallen to 23 in 1931! In his recently published "Late Victorian Holocausts" Mike Davis reports that life expectancy fell by 20% between 1872 and 1921.

In 1934, there was one hospital bed for 3800 people in British India and this figure included hospital beds reserved for the British rulers. (In that same year, in the Soviet Union, there were ten times as many.) Infant mortality in Bombay was 255 per thousand in 1928. (In the same year, it was less than half that in Moscow.)

Poverty and Population Growth

Several Indians when confronted with such data from the colonial period argue that the British should not be specially targeted because India's problems of poverty pre-date colonial rule, and in any case, were exacerbated by rapid population growth. Of course, no one who makes the first point is able to offer any substantive proof that such conditions prevailed long before the British arrived, and to counter such an argument would be difficult in the absence of reliable and comparable statistical data from earlier centuries. But some readers may find the anecdotal evidence intriguing. In any case, the population growth data is available and is quite remarkable in what it reveals.

Between 1870 and 1910, India's population grew at an average rate of 19%. England and Wales' population grew three times as fast - by 58%! Average population growth in Europe was 45%. Between 1921-40, the population in India grew faster at 21% but was still less than the 24% growth of population in the US!

In 1941, the density of population in India was roughly 250 per square mile almost a third of England's 700 per square mile. Although Bengal was much more densely inhabited at almost 780 per square mile - that was only about 10% more than England. Yet, there was much more poverty in British India than in England and an unprecedented number of famines were recorded during the period of British rule.

In the first half of the 19th century, there were seven famines leading to a million and a half deaths. In the second half, there were 24 famines (18 between 1876 and 1900) causing over 20 million deaths (as per official records). W. Digby, noted in "Prosperous British India" in 1901 that "stated roughly, famines and scarcities have been four times as numerous, during the last thirty years of the 19th century as they were one hundred years ago, and four times as widespread." In Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis points out that here were 31(thirty one) serious famines in 120 years of British rule compared to 17(seventeen) in the 2000 years before British rule.

Not surprising, since the export of food grains had increased by a factor of four just prior to that period. And export of other agricultural raw materials had also increased in similar proportions. Land that once produced grain for local consumption was now taken over by by former slave-owners from N. America who were permitted to set up plantations for the cultivation of lucrative cash crops exclusively for export. Particularly galling is how the British colonial rulers continued to export foodgrains from India to Britain even during famine years.

Annual British Government reports repeatedly published data that showed 70-80% of Indians were living on the margin of subsistence. That two-thirds were undernourished, and in Bengal, nearly four-fifths were undernourished.

Contrast this data with the following accounts of Indian life prior to colonization:-

" ....even in the smallest villages rice, flour, butter, milk, beans and other vegetables, sugar and sweetmeats can be procured in abundance .... Tavernier writing in the 17th century in his "Travels in India".

Manouchi - the Venetian who became chief physician to Aurangzeb (also in the 17th century) wrote: "Bengal is of all the kingdoms of the Moghul, best known in France..... We may venture to say it is not inferior in anything to Egypt - and that it even exceeds that kingdom in its products of silks, cottons, sugar, and indigo. All things are in great plenty here, fruits, pulse, grain, muslins, cloths of gold and silk..."

The French traveller, Bernier also described 17th century Bengal in a similiar vein: "The knowledge I have acquired of Bengal in two visits inclines me to believe that it is richer than Egypt. It exports in abundance cottons and silks, rice, sugar and butter. It produces amply for it's own consumption of wheat, vegetables, grains, fowls, ducks and geese. It has immense herds of pigs and flocks of sheep and goats. Fish of every kind it has in profusion. From Rajmahal to the sea is an endless number of canals, cut in bygone ages from the Ganges by immense labour for navigation and irrigation."

The poverty of British India stood in stark contrast to these eye witness reports and has to be ascribed to the pitiful wages that working people in India received in that period. A 1927-28 report noted that "all but the most highly skilled workmen in India receive wages which are barely sufficient to feed and clothe them. Everywhere will be seen overcrowding, dirt and squalid misery..."

This in spite of the fact that in 1922 - an 11 hour day was the norm (as opposed to an 8 hour day in the Soviet Union.) In 1934, it had been reduced to 10 hours (whereas in the Soviet Union, the 7 hour day had been legislated as early as in 1927) What was worse, there were no enforced restrictions on the use of child labour and the Whitley Report found children as young as five - working a 12 hour day.

Ancient Monuments

Perhaps the least known aspect of the colonial legacy is the early British attitude towards India's historic monuments and the extend of vandalism that took place. Instead, there is this pervasive myth of the Britisher as an unbiased "protector of the nation's historic legacy".

R.Nath in his 'History of Decorative Art in Mughal Architecture' records that scores of gardens, tombs and palaces that once adorned the suburbs of Sikandra at Agra were sold out or auctioned. "Relics of the glorious age of the Mughals were either destroyed or converted beyond recognition..". "Out of 270 beautiful monuments which existed at Agra alone, before its capture by Lake in 1803, hardly 40 have survived".

In the same vein, David Carroll (in 'Taj Mahal') observes: " The forts in Agra and Delhi were commandeered at the beginning of the nineteenth century and turned into military garrisons. Marble reliefs were torn down, gardens were trampled, and lines of ugly barracks, still standing today, were installed in their stead. In the Delhi fort, the Hall of Public Audience was made into an ****nal and the arches of the outer colonnades were bricked over or replaced with rectangular wooden windows."

The Mughal fort at Allahabad (one of Akbar's favorite) experienced a fate far worse. Virtually nothing of architectural significance is to be seen in the barracks that now make up the fort. The Deccan fort at Ahmednagar was also converted into barracks. Now, only its outer walls can hint at its former magnificence.

Shockingly, even the Taj Mahal was not spared. David Carroll reports: "..By the nineteenth century, its grounds were a favorite trysting place for young Englishmen and their ladies. Open-air balls were held on the marble terrace in front of the main door, and there, beneath Shah Jahan"s lotus dome, brass bands um-pah-pahed and lords and ladies danced the quadrille. The minarets became a popular site for suicide leaps, and the mosques on either side of the Taj were rented out as bungalows to honeymooners. The gardens of the Taj were especially popular for open-air frolics....."

"At an earlier date, when picnic parties were held in the garden of the Taj, related Lord Curzon, a governor general in the early twentieth century, "it was not an uncommon thing for the revellers to arm themselves with hammer and chisel, with which they wiled away the afternoon by chipping out fragments of agate and carnelian from the cenotaphs of the Emperor and his lamented Queen." The Taj became a place where one could drink in private, and its parks were often strewn with the figures of inebriated British soldiers..."

Lord William Bentinck, (governor general of Bengal 1828-33, and later first governor general of all India), went so far as to announce plans to demolish the best Mogul monuments in Agra and Delhi and remove their marble facades. These were to be shipped to London, where they would be broken up and sold to members of the British aristocracy. Several of Shahjahan's pavilions in the Red Fort at Delhi were indeed stripped to the brick, and the marble was shipped off to England (part of this shipment included pieces for King George IV himself). Plans to dismantle the Taj Mahal were in place, and wrecking machinery was moved into the garden grounds. Just as the demolition work was to begin, news from London indicated that the first auction had not been a success, and that all further sales were cancelled -- it would not be worth the money to tear down the Taj Mahal.

Thus the Taj Mahal was spared, and so too, was the reputation of the British as "Protectors of India's Historic Legacy" ! That innumerable other monuments were destroyed, or left to rack and ruin is a story that has yet to get beyond the specialists in the field.


#1178 - January 23, 2010 05:26 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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India and the Industrial Revolution

Perhaps the most important aspect of colonial rule was the transfer of wealth from India to Britain. In his pioneering book, India Today, Rajni Palme Dutt conclusively demonstrates how vital this was to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Several patents that had remained unfunded suddenly found industrial sponsors once the taxes from India started rolling in. Without capital from India, British banks would have found it impossible to fund the modernization of Britain that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In addition, the scientific basis of the industrial revolution was not a uniquely European contribution. Several civilizations had been adding to the world's scientific database - especially the civilizations of Asia, (including those of the Indian sub-continent). Without that aggregate of scientific knowledge the scientists of Britain and Europe would have found it impossible to make the rapid strides they made during the period of the Industrial revolution. Moreover, several of these patents, particularly those concerned with the textile industry relied on pre-industrial techniques perfected in the sub-continent. (In fact, many of the earliest textile machines in Britain were unable to match the complexity and finesse of the spinning and weaving machines of Dacca.)

Some euro-centric authors have attempted to deny any such linkage. They have tried to assert that not only was the Industrial Revolution a uniquely British/European event - that colonization and the the phenomenal transfer of wealth that took place was merely incidental to it's fruition. But the words of Lord Curzon still ring loud and clear. The Viceroy of British India in 1894 was quite unequivocal, "India is the pivot of our Empire .... If the Empire loses any other part of its Dominion we can survive, but if we lose India the sun of our Empire will have set."

Lord Curzon knew fully well, the value and importance of the Indian colony. It was the transfer of wealth through unprecedented levels of taxation on Indians of virtually all classes that funded the great "Industrial Revolution" and laid the ground for "modernization" in Britain. As early as 1812, an East India Company Report had stated "The importance of that immense empire to this country is rather to be estimated by the great annual addition it makes to the wealth and capital of the Kingdom....."

Unfair Trade

Few would doubt that Indo-British trade may have been unfair - but it may be noteworthy to see how unfair. In the early 1800s imports of Indian cotton and silk goods faced duties of 70-80%. British imports faced duties of 2-4%! As a result, British imports of cotton manufactures into India increased by a factor of 50, and Indian exports dropped to one-fourth! A similiar trend was noted in silk goods, woollens, iron, pottery, glassware and paper. As a result, millions of ruined artisans and craftsmen, spinners, weavers, potters, smelters and smiths were rendered jobless and had to become landless agricultural workers.

Colonial Beneficiaries

Another aspect of colonial rule that has remained hidden from popular perception is that Britain was not the only beneficiary of colonial rule. British trade regulations even as they discriminated against Indian business interests created a favorable trading environment for other imperial powers. By 1939, only 25% of Indian imports came from Britain. 25% came from Japan, the US and Germany. In 1942-3, Canada and Australia contributed another 8%. In the period immediately before independence, Britain ruled as much on behalf of it's imperial allies as it did in it's own interest. The process of "globalization" was already taking shape. But none of this growth trickled down to India. In the last half of 19th century, India's income fell by 50%. In the 190 years prior to independence, the Indian economy was literally stagnant - it experienced zero growth. (Mike Davis: Late Victorian Holocausts)

Those who wish India well might do well to re-read this history so the nation isn't brought to the abyss once again, (and so soon after being liberated from the yoke of colonial rule). While some Indians may wax nostalgic for the return of their former overlords, and some may be ambivalent about colonial rule, most of us relish our freedom and wish to perfect it - not gift it away again.

References: Statistics and data for the colonial period taken from Rajni-Palme Dutt's India Today (Indian Edition published in 1947); also see N.K. Sinha's Economic History of Bengal (Published in Calcutta, 1956); and "Late Victorian Holocausts" by Mike Davis.

Travelers such as Tavernier, traveling around India in the seventeenth century, remarking that “even in the smallest villages rice, flour, butter, milk, beans and other vegetables, sugar and other sweetmeats, dry and liquid, can be procured in abundance”. Many travelers at the time extolled Bengal as marvelous in the abundance of its resources, the advanced nature of its crafts. By the 1920s, after nearly two centuries of British rule, India was a byword for the vast abyss of its all-pervading poverty. “The average Indian income”, wrote two economists in 1924, “is just enough either to feed two men in every three of the population, or give them all two in place of every three meals they need, on condition they all consent to go naked, liver out of doors all the year round, have no amusement or recreation, and want nothing else but food, and that the lowest, the co****st, the least nutritious”.

The British devastation of India was initially achieved by the simple means of taxing it into destitution. In the last year of the last Indian ruler of Bengal, in 1764-5, the land revenue realized was 817,000 pounds sterling. Within a few years of British rule the population had shrunk by one-third through famine, in which ten million perished in 1770 and a third of the country into “a jungle inhabited by wild beasts”. Nonetheless, by 1771-2 the Bengal revenues had risen to 2,341,000 pounds sterling. As Warren Hastings reported to the Court of the Directors of the East India Company in 1772 with bracing frankness,

“Notwithstanding the loss of at least one-third of the inhabitants of the province, and the consequent decrease of the cultivation, the net collections of the year 1771 exceeded even those of 1768… It was naturally to be expected that the diminution of the revenue should have kept an equal pace with the other consequences of so great a calamity. That it did not was owing to its being violently kept up to its former standard”.

The British destroyed the old manufacturing towns and the economy of the villages. In Palme Dutt’s words, “The millions of ruined artisans and craftsmen, spinners, weavers, potters, smelters, smiths, alike from the towns and the villages, had no alternative save to crowd into agriculture”... India was “forced to the status of agricultural colony of British manufacturing capitalism”, whose ideologues then invoked Malthus to explain India’s degraded condition.

Bibliography: (For further research into this area)

M. M. Ahluwalia, Freedom Struggle in India,
Shah, Khambata: The Wealth and Taxable Capacity of India
G. Emerson, Voiceless India
W. Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times
Brooks Adams, The Law of Civilization and Decline
J. R. Seeley, Expansion of England
H. H. Wilson, History of British India
D. H Buchanan, Development of Capitalist Enterprise in India
L. C. A Knowles: Economic Development of the Overseas Empire
L. H. Jenks: The Migration of British Capital


#1179 - February 12, 2010 11:15 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Wendy Doniger:
'The Hindus - An Alternative History'(c2009)
Extracts (1):
Material culture, animals, bricks and words 
Material remains of IVC and earlier
….. the IVC (Indus Valley Civilization) is older than the oldest extant Hindu texts, the Vedas, and its material remains include many images that may be the earliest-known examples of important Hindu icons that only (re)surface much later.

Much of what we now call Hinduism may have had roots in cultures that thrived in South Asia long before the creation of textual evidence that we can decipher with any confidence.  Remarkable cave paintings have been preserved from Mesolithic sites dating from c. 30,000 BCE in Bhimbetka, near present-day Bhopal, in the Vindhya Mountains in the province of Madhya Pradesh.  They represent a number of animals that have been identified as deer, boars, elephants, leopards, tigers, panthers, rhinoceroses, antelope, fish, frogs, lizards, squirrels, and birds.  One painting seems to depict a man walking a dog on a leash. …..

Several of the animals in the paintings have horns, like gazelles, and one painting shows people dancing with what may be a unicorn with a close-clipped mane.  This possible unicorn continues to tease art historians when it reappears in the IVC.

There were other early settlements in India, notably the culture of Baluchistan, in the westernmost part of what is now Pakistan, dating to before 6000 BCE.  But from about 2300 BCE, the first urbanization too place, as great cities arose in the valley of the Indus River, 150 miles south of Baluchistan, also in Pakistan.  The material remains of this culture, which we call the Indus Valley Civilization or the Harappan Civilization (named after Harappa, one of the two great cities of the Indus, the other being Mohenjo-Daro), present a tantalizing treasure chest of often enigmatic images that hover just beyond our reach, taunting us with what might be the keys to the roots of Hinduism.  .......

The civilization of the Indus Valley extends over more than a thousand sites, stretching over 750,000 square miles, where as many as forty thousand people once lived. ….. Yet the Indus cities were stunningly uniform and remarkably stable over this wide range, changing little over a millennium, until they begin to crumble near the end.  They had trade contacts with Crete, Sumer, and other Mesopotamian cultures, perhaps even Egypt.  There are Harappan sites in Oman (on the Arabian Peninsula), and Indus seals show up in Mesopotamia. ..…

Archaeological evidence suggests that the use of cubical dice began in South Asia and indeed in the IVC.  Sir John Marshall, the director general of the Indian archaeological survey from 1902 to 1931, found many cubical terracotta dice, with one to six dots, at Mohenjo-Daro, and a number of other dice have been identified since then from Harappa and elsewhere, including several of stone (agate, limestone, faience, etc.).  This is a fact of great significance in the light of the importance of gambling in later Indian civilization, from 1200 BCE.
They had gold, copper, and lead, and they imported bronze, silver, and tin (as well as lapis lazuli and soapstone), but they had no iron;  their weapons were made of copper and bronze.  There was a huge wheat and barley storage system, and there were household and public drainage works superior to those in parts of the world today, including much of India.  Most of the buildings are constructed out of bricks (both sun baked and kiln fired) of remarkably consistent size thoughout the extended culture; equally unvarying stone cubes were used to measure weights. …..  Some scholars have taken the visible signs of an overarching hand of authority and urban planning as evidence of ‘urbanity, sophistication, well-being, ordered existence’.  One might also see, in the tiny scale of the seals and figurines, and in the children’s toys, a delicate civilization, whose artwork is fine in both senses – beautiful and small.

The civilization of the Indus is not silent, but we are deaf.  We cannot hear their words but can see their images. ……

But the images on the seals do make a more general statement that we can decipher, particularly in the realm of flora and fauna.  The vast majority of Indus signs can be directly or indirectly related to farming:  Typical signs include seeds, fruits, sprouts, grain plants, pulses, trees, farm instruments, etc.), seasonal / celestial or astral signs, and even at times anthropomorphized plowed fields. ….. the winter Indus crop was barley and wheat;  the spring crop, peas and lentils; and the summer and the monsoon crops, millets, melons, dates, and fiber plants.  They also probably grew rice.  They spun, wove, and dyed cotton, probably for the first time on the planet Earth, and may also have been the first to use wheeled transport.  They ate meat and fish. 
Indus animals
Animals, both wild and tame, dominate the representations from the IVC, both on the seals, ….. and on figurines, paintings on pottery, and children’s toys.  These images tell us that tigers, elephants, and one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as buffalo, antelope, and crocodiles, inhabited the forests of this now almost desert region, which then had riverine long grass and open forest country, the natural habitat of tigers and rhinoceroses. ……. There are also animal figurines of turtles, hares, monkeys, and birds, …..

But it is the representations of domesticated animals, as well as the archaeological remains of such animals, that tell us most about the culture of the IVC, in particular about the much-disputed question of its relationship (or lack of relationship) with later Indian cultures such as that of the Vedic peoples.  Millenia before the IVC, people in South Asia had hunted a number of animals that later, in the IVC, they bred and domesticated (and sometimes continued to hunt). ….. Zebu and water buffalo (Bubalus) were used as draft animals, and elephants (domesticated, more or less) were used for clearing and building.  Elephants are not native to the lands found west of central India, but they might have been imported into the Indus Valley.

They had dogs (which may already have been domesticated at Bhimbetka). ….. They had also domesticated camels, sheep, pigs, goats, and chickens.  This may have been the first domestication of fowl, a major contribution to world civilization……
By contrast, they do not seem to have found female animals very interesting, and significantly, no figurines of cows have been found. ….. Of course, they must have had cows, or they couldn’t very well have had bulls (and indeed there is material evidence of cows in the IVC), but the art-historical record tells us that the Indus artists did not use cows as cultural symbols, and why should we assume, with Marshall, that they were sacred?  ……
Artifacts, techniques and words
….. It is hard work to fit the ruins of the IVC into the landscape of the Rig Veda.  The Rig Veda does not know any of the places or artifacts or urban techniques of the Indus Valley.  None of the things the Veda describes look like the things we see in the archaeology of the Indus.  The Rig Veda never mentions inscribed seals or a Great Bath or trade with Mesopotamia, despite the fact that it glorifies in the stuff of everyday life.  It never refers to sculptured representations of the human body.  It has no words, not even borrowed ones, for scripts or writing, for records, scribes, or letters. …..

Many of the words that the Rig Veda uses for agricultural implements, such as the plow, as well as words for furrow and threshing floor and, significantly, rice, come from the non-Sanskritic languages, suggesting that the Vedic people learned much of their agriculture from communities in place in India before they arrived.  But the Indus people, who obviously did have plows and mortar, presumably would have had their own words for them.  Even in the Vedic period, there was multilingualism.  But how could the Vedic people have forgotten about architecture, about bricks, about mortar (let alone about writing).  The answer is simple enough:  They had never had them. ….

Lions, elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, unicorns ….

….. The evidence of animals suggests that the civilizations of the Indus Valley and the Vedas were entirely different, though this does not mean that they did not eventually interact.  The Rig Veda mentions (here in alphabetical order) ants, antelopes, boars, deer, foxes, gazelles, jackals, lions, monkeys, rabbits, rats, quails, and wolves, and other Vedas mention bears, beavers, elk, hares, lynxes, and otters.  The Rig Veda also mentions lions, though the Vedic people had to invent a word for ‘lion’ (Note 1), though the Vedic people had to invent a word for ‘lion’ (and to borrow a word for ‘peacock’).  (Lions may or may not be depicted in the Indus Valley;  there’s a figurine that might be a lion or a tiger.)

The Vedic people knew the elephant but regarded it as a curiosity; they had to make up a word for it and called it ‘the wild animal with a hand’ (mrigahastin).  But they do not mention tigers or rhinoceroses, animals familiar from the Harappan seals.  Nor are there any references to unicorns, mythical or real.  The zoological argument from silence (‘the lion that didn’t roar in the night’) is never conclusive (beware the false negative; the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), but all this suggests that the Vedic people originally lived north of the land where the tiger and the elephant roam, and generally north of the Indus rhinoceroses, on the nonfalsifiable assumption that people who had seen an animal as weird as a rhinoceros would have mentioned it.

Note 1:  A typo: wrongly stated as RV 10.28.11.  Instead it should be RV 10.28.10:
suparṇa itthā nakhamā siṣāyāvaruddhaḥ paripadaṃ nasiṃhaḥ  
niruddhaścin mahiṣastarṣyāvān ghodhā tasmāayathaṃ karṣadetat
10 There hath the strong-winged eagle left his talon, as a snared lion leaves the trap that caught him.
Even the wild steer in his thirst is captured: the leather strap still holds his foot entangled.
Cattle are central to both cultures – though the Indus Valley Civilization favored bulls, the Vedas cows – as well as to many other ancient cultures and therefore of little use as differentiating markers.  But the IVC does not seem to know, or care about, the horse, who speaks loudly and clearly in the Vedas …. 

….. wherever Indo-European-speaking cultures have been identified, evidence of horses has been found.  This does not in itself prove that an ancient culture with no horses is not Indo-European, nor does it follow that wherever people had horses, they spoke Indo-European languages. ….

….. For the horse is not indigenous to India.  There is archaeological evidence of many horses in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent only in the second millennium BCE, after the decline of the IVC.  Horse bits and copper and iron objects were used in Maharashtra, and horse paraphernalia (such as bits) south of the Narmada during or after this period suggest an extensive network of horse traders from northwestern India. 

By contrast, the absence of a thriving horse population in the IVC, the fact that …… the horse seems not to have played a significant role in the Harappan economy, supports the hypothesis that the Indus Valley people were not Indo-European speakers.  ….. Now, though it has been asserted with some confidence that no remains of horses have been found anywhere in the Indus Valley culture or, somewhat more tentatively, that ‘the horse was probably unknown’ to the Indus people, there is archaeological evidence for the possible existence of some horses in the IVC, if very few. ……..

But such horses were probably imported, like so many other items, in the course of the vigorous IVC international trade.  India’s notorious lack of native bloodstock may have been, already in the Indus Valley, as ever after, the Achilles heel of its ambitious empire-builders. …..  the simple fact that horses do not thrive on the Indian subcontinent and therefore need to be imported constantly. …. The IVC had no horses of its own, so could not have been Indo-European speakers.  And so the IVC could have played no part in the most ancient Hindu text, the Rig Veda, which is immensely horsey.

…..  Horses, observed in affectionate, minute, often gory, detail, pervade the poetry of the Rig Veda.  The Vedic people not only had horses but were crazy about horses. 

But horses are not depicted at all in the extensive Indus art that celebrates so many other animals.  The Indus people were crazy about animals, but not about horses.  So widely accepted is the ‘horse = Indo-European’ equation that even when one or two clay figurines that appear to depict horses were found at a few Indus sites, these were said to ‘reflect foreign travel or imports’ …… In Europe, people constructed unicorns by sticking a horn on a horse, either tying a horn onto a real horse or drawing a horn onto a picture of a horse.  Only in India does it work the other way around, for on Indus seals, unicorns are real and horses nonexistent.
….. Knowing how important horses are in the Vedas, we may deduce that there was little or no Vedic input into the civilization of the Indus Valley or, correspondingly, that there was little input from the IVC into the civilization of the Rig Veda.  This does not mean, of course, that the IVC did not contribute in a major way to other, later developments of Hinduism. 

….. The authors of the Rig Veda did not know about bricks; their rituals required only small mud altars, not large brick altars.  But later, around 600 BCE, when the Vedic people had moved down into the Ganges Valley and their rituals had become more elaborate, they began to build large brick altars.  The size of the mud bricks was a multiple or fraction of the height of the patron of the sacrifice, and a fairly sophisticated geometry was developed to work out the proportions.  We know that the Indus people had mastered the art of calculating the precise size of bricks, within a system of uniform and proportionate measurement.  The use of bricks and the calculations in the Vedic ritual may therefore have come from a Harappan tradition, bypassed the Rig Vedic period, and resurfaced later. ……
…. We can see the remains of the world that the people of the Indus Valley built, but we are blind to the material world of the Vedic people;  the screen goes almost blank.  The Vedic people left no cities, no temples, scant physical remains of any kind;  they had to borrow the word for ‘mortar’.  They built nothing but the flat, square mud altars for the Vedic sacrifice and houses with wooden frames and walls of reed stuffed with straw and, later, mud.  Bamboo ribs supported a thatched roof.  None of this of course survived. 
As nomadic tribes, the Vedic people sought fresh pastureland for their cattle and horses.  As pastoralists and, later, agriculturalists, herders and farmers, they lived in rural communities.  Like most of the Indo-Europeans, the Vedic people were cattle herders and cattle rustlers who went about stealing other people’s cows and pretending to be taking them back. ……
The Vedic people, in this habit (as well as in their fondness for gambling), resembled the cowboys of the nineteenth-century American West, riding over other people’s land and stealing their cattle. ….. Unlike the American cowboys, however, the Vedic cowboys did not yet (though they would, by the sixth century BCE), have a policy of owning and occupying the land, for the Vedic people did not build or settle down; they moved on. …..

The Vedic people sacrificed cattle to the gods and ate cattle themselves, and they counted their wealth in cattle.  They definitely ate the beef of steers (the castrated bulls) ….. they sacrificed the bulls (Indra eats the flesh of twenty bulls or a hundred buffalo and drinks whole lakes of soma) and kept most of the cows for milk. One verse states that cows were ‘not to be killed’ (a-ghnya [7.87.4]), but another says that a cow should be slaughtered on the occasion of marriage (10.85.13), and another lists among animals to be a sacrificed a cow that has been bred but has not calved (10.91.14), while still others seem to include cows among animals whose meat was offered to the gods and then consumed by the people at the sacrifice. 
New York Times
April 26, 2009

Another Incarnation
THE HINDUS - An Alternative History
By Wendy Doniger
779 pp. The Penguin Press. $35
Visiting India in 1921, E. M. Forster witnessed the eight-day celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday. This first encounter with devotional ecstasy left the Bloomsbury aesthete baffled. “There is no dignity, no taste, no form,” he complained in a letter home. Recoiling from Hindu India, Forster was relieved to enter the relatively rational world of Islam. Describing the muezzin’s call at the Taj Mahal, he wrote, “I knew at all events where I stood and what I heard; it was a land that was not merely atmosphere but had definite outlines and horizons.”
Forster, who later used his appalled fascination with India’s polytheistic muddle to superb effect in his novel “A Passage to India,” was only one in a long line of Britons who felt their notions of order and morality challenged by Indian religious and cultural practices. The British Army captain who discovered the erotic temples of Khajuraho in the early 19th century was outraged by how “extremely indecent and offensive” depictions of fornicating couples profaned a “place of worship.” Lord Macaulay thundered against the worship, still widespread in India today, of the Shiva lingam. Even Karl Marx inveighed against how man, “the sovereign of nature,” had degraded himself in India by worshipping Hanuman, the monkey god.
Repelled by such pagan blasphemies, the first British scholars of India went so far as to invent what we now call “Hinduism,” complete with a mainstream classical tradition consisting entirely of Sanskrit philosophical texts like the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads. In fact, most Indians in the 18th century knew no Sanskrit, the language exclusive to Brahmins. For centuries, they remained unaware of the hymns of the four Vedas or the idealist monism of the Upanishads that the German Romantics, American Transcendentalists and other early Indophiles solemnly supposed to be the very essence of Indian civilization. (Smoking chillums and chanting “Om,” the Beats were closer to the mark.)
As Wendy Doniger, a scholar of Indian religions at the University of Chicago, explains in her staggeringly comprehensive book, the British Indologists who sought to tame India’s chaotic polytheisms had a “Protestant bias in favor of scripture.” In “privileging” Sanskrit over local languages, she writes, they created what has proved to be an enduring impression of a “unified Hinduism.” And they found keen collaborators among upper-caste Indian scholars and translators. This British-Brahmin version of Hinduism — one of the many invented traditions born around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries — has continued to find many takers among semi-Westernized Hindus suffering from an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the apparently more successful and organized religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The Hindu nationalists of today, who long for India to become a muscular international power, stand in a direct line of 19th-century Indian reform movements devoted to purifying and reviving a Hinduism perceived as having grown too fragmented and weak. These mostly upper-caste and middle-class nationalists have accelerated the modernization and homogenization of “Hinduism.”
Still, the nontextual, syncretic religious and philosophical traditions of India that escaped the attention of British scholars flourish even today. Popular devotional cults, shrines, festivals, rites and legends that vary across India still form the worldview of a majority of Indians. Goddesses, as Doniger writes, “continue to evolve.” Bollywood produced the most popular one of my North Indian childhood: Santoshi Mata, who seemed to fulfill the materialistic wishes of newly urbanized Hindus. Far from being a slave to mindless superstition, popular religious legend conveys a darkly ambiguous view of human action. Revered as heroes in one region, the characters of the great epics “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata” can be regarded as villains in another. Demons and gods are dialectically interrelated in a complex cosmic order that would make little sense to the theologians of the so-called war on terror.
Doniger sets herself the ambitious task of writing “a narrative alternative to the one constituted by the most famous texts in Sanskrit.” As she puts it, “It’s not all about Brahmins, Sanskrit, the Gita.” It’s also not about perfidious Muslims who destroyed innumerable Hindu temples and forcibly converted millions of Indians to Islam. Doniger, who cannot but be aware of the political historiography of Hindu nationalists, the most powerful interpreters of Indian religions in both India and abroad today, also wishes to provide an “alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell.”
She writes at length about the devotional “bhakti” tradition, an ecstatic and radically egalitarian form of Hindu religiosity which, though possessing royal and literary lineage, was “also a folk and oral phenomenon,” accommodating women, low-caste men and illiterates. She explores, contra Marx, the role of monkeys as the “human unconscious” in the “Ramayana,” the bible of muscular Hinduism, while casting a sympathetic eye on its chief ogre, Ravana. And she examines the mythology and ritual of Tantra, the most misunderstood of Indian traditions.
She doesn’t neglect high-table Hinduism. Her chapter on violence in the “Mahabharata” is particularly insightful, highlighting the tragic aspects of the great epic, and unraveling, in the process, the hoary cliché of Hindus as doctrinally pacifist. Both “dharma” and “karma” get their due. Those who tilt at organized religions today on behalf of a residual Enlightenment rationalism may be startled to learn that atheism and agnosticism have long traditions in Indian religions and philosophies.
Though the potted biographies of Mughal emperors seem superfluous in a long book, Doniger’s chapter on the centuries of Muslim rule over India helps dilute the lurid mythology of Hindu nationalists. Motivated by realpolitik rather than religious fundamentalism, the Mughals destroyed temples; they also built and patronized them. Not only is there “no evidence of massive coercive conversion” to Islam, but also so much of what we know as popular Hinduism — the currently popular devotional cults of Rama and Krishna, the network of pilgrimages, ashrams and sects — acquired its distinctive form during Mughal rule.
Doniger’s winsomely eclectic range of reference — she enlists Philip Roth’s novel “I Married a Communist” for a description of the Hindu renunciant’s psychology — begins to seem too determinedly eccentric when she discusses Rudyard Kipling, a figure with no discernible influence on Indian religions, with greater interpretative vigor than she does Mohandas K. Gandhi, the most creative of modern devout Hindus. More puzzlingly, Doniger has little to say about the forms Indian cultures have assumed in Bali, Mauritius, Trinidad and Fiji, even as she describes at length the Internet-enabled liturgies of Hindus in America.
Yet it is impossible not to admire a book that strides so intrepidly into a polemical arena almost as treacherous as Israel-­Arab relations. During a lecture in London in 2003, Doniger escaped being hit by an egg thrown by a Hindu nationalist apparently angry at the “sexual thrust” of her interpretation of the “sacred” “Ramayana.” This book will no doubt further expose her to the fury of the modern-day Indian heirs of the British imperialists who invented “Hinduism.” Happily, it will also serve as a salutary antidote to the fanatics who perceive — correctly — the fluid existential identities and commodious metaphysic of practiced Indian religions as a threat to their project of a culturally homogenous and militant nation-state.
Pankaj Mishra is the author of “An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World” and “Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond.”

#1180 - June 26, 2010 09:50 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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Acceptance speech of Asko Parpola, recipient of the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award

The Hindu, Published: June 24, 2010 17:53 IST | Updated: June 24, 2010 18:05 IST

Your Excellency the President of India, Srimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, distinguished dignitaries, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Vanakkam!

It is indeed a very great honour to receive the first Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award from the President of India. Yet I feel embarrassed, because my work is only partly related to Classical Tamil, while there are Classical Tamil specialists who really would have deserved this award. But as this is not the only time when the award is given, I humbly accept that this is my turn. I am most grateful for the very considerable support for my continued work in this field.

The Government of India has rightly recognized Tamil as a classical language, a status that it fully deserves in view of its antiquity and its rich literature that in quality and extent matches many other classical traditions of the world. Yet, Tamil is not alone in possessing such a rich heritage in India, which is really a very exceptional country with so many languages having old and remarkable literatures, both written and oral. Sanskrit with its three thousand years old tradition has produced an unrivalled number of literary works.

Sanskrit goes back to Proto-Indo-Aryan attested in a few names and words related to the Mitanni kingdom of Syria between 1500 and 1300 BCE, and to earlier forms of Indo-Iranian known only from a few loanwords in Finno-Ugric languages as spoken in central Russia around 2000 BCE. But none of these very earliest few traces is older than the roots of Tamil. Tamil goes back to Proto-Dravidian, which in my opinion can be identified as the language of the thousands of short texts in the Indus script, written in 2600-1700 BCE. There are, of course, different opinions, but many critical scholars agree that even the Rigveda, collected in the Indus Valley about 1000 BCE, has at least half a dozen Dravidian loanwords.

Old Tamil texts constitute the only source of ancient Dravidian linguistic and cultural heritage not yet much contaminated by the Indo-Aryan tradition. Without it, it would be much more difficult if not impossible to penetrate into the secrets of the Indus script and to unravel the beginnings of India's great civilization. In my opinion the Tamils are entitled to some pride for having preserved so well the linguistic heritage of the Indus Civilization. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that, though their language has shifted in the course of millennia, people of North India too are to a large extent descended from the Harappan people, and have also preserved cultural heritage of the same civilization.

Nanri! Tamizh vaazka!

Asko Parpola

COIMBATORE, June 25, 2010

Underlying language of Indus script, Proto-Dravidian: Asko Parpola

T. Ramakrishnan

Asko Parpola, Professor-Emeritus of Indology, Institue of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland delivering a Lecture on `A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem' at the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore on Friday. Photo: M. Vedhan
The Hindu Asko Parpola, Professor-Emeritus of Indology, Institue of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland delivering a Lecture on `A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem' at the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore on Friday. Photo: M. Vedhan.

The underlying language of the Indus script was Proto-Dravidian, Asko Parpola, Professor-Emeritus of Indology, Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland, said on Friday.

Declaring that an opening to the secrets of the Indus script has been achieved, Prof. Parpola said the results of his readings kept within narrow limits: fertility cult connected with fig trees, a central Hindu myth associated with astronomy and time-reckoning and chief deities of Hindu and Old Tamil religion.

Delivering the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Research Endowment Lecture on A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem at the World Classical Tamil Conference here, the Indologist said the readings were based on reasonable identifications of the signs pictorial shapes. The results made good sense in the framework of ancient Indian cultural history.

These readings have been achieved with strictly adhered methodology which is in full agreement with the history of writing, methods of decipherment and historical linguistics including the comparative study of Dravidian languages, he told the audience that included Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Displaying nearly two dozen illustrations of Indus seals and inscriptions, he dwelt upon the topic by explaining two broad aspects underlying language and type of the script that were essential in the decipherment of an ancient script. He also substantiated his thesis with an etymological analysis of certain Tamil words such as muruku and miin.

Hinting that Harappan language had a genetic relationship with the Dravidian language family, Prof. Parpola said 26 Dravidian languages were now mainly spoken in central and southern parts of India. However, one Dravidian language, Brahui, had been spoken in Baluchistan of Pakistan for at least one thousand years. In contrast to Burushashki, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic languages, very small minority languages in south Asia, the Dravidian speakers until recently constituted one-fourth of the population in India.

Loanwords from the Dravidian family had been identified from Indo-Aryan texts composed in northwestern India around 1100-600 BCE. Besides, Indo-Aryan had several structural features that had long been interpreted as borrowings from Dravidian. Historical linguistics thus suggests that the Harappans probably spoke a Dravidian language.

Referring to the type of writing system, Prof. Parpola said the number of known Indus signs was around 400 which agrees well with the logo-syllabic type but is too high for the script to be syllabic or alphabetic. Though word divisions were not marked, many inscriptions comprised one, two or three signs and longer texts could be segmented into comparable units. The Indus script was created before any syllabic or alphabetic script existed.

Pointing out that the confirmed interpretations and their wider contexts provided a lot of clues for progress, he acknowledged there were still serious difficulties in the decipherment of the script. One is the schematic shape of many signs which makes it difficult to recognise their pictorial meaning with certainty. Possibilities of proposing likely readings and their effective checking are severely limited by our defective knowledge of Proto-Dravidian vocabulary, compounds and phraseology.

The problem of the Indus script resembled to some extent that of the logo-syllabic Maya script, where advance was phenomenal after Mayan speakers were trained in the methods of decipherment.

The Indologist said those who had good acquaintance with the realities of Indian culture and south Asian nature could make useful contributions in suggesting possible pictorial meanings for the Indus signs. For this, there was no need to be a Dravidian speaker.

Iravatham Mahadevan, eminent archaeologist, presided over the event.

#1181 - July 07, 2010 09:02 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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How the South Held Off the Muslim Invaders for 250 Years

For 250 years all the southern kingdoms united under Vijayanagar and held off the muslims at the Krishna and Tungabhadra river with 1.1 million men.

An account by two portugese travellers Fernao Nuniz and Domingo Paes in 1520, who themselves describe a history of India which even then they say was already forgotton.


A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar


Introductory remarks -- Sources of information -- Sketch of history of Southern India down to A.D. 1336 -- A Hindu bulwark against Muhammadan conquest -- The opening date, as given by Nuniz, wrong -- "Togao Mamede" or Muhammad Taghlaq of Delhi -- His career and character.

In the year 1336 A.D., during the reign of Edward III. of England, there occurred in India an event which almost instantaneously changed the political condition of the entire south. With that date the volume of ancient history in that tract closes and the modern begins. It is the epoch of transition from the Old to the New.

This event was the foundation of the city and kingdom of Vijayanagar. Prior to A.D. 1336 all Southern India had lain under the domination of the ancient Hindu kingdoms, -- kingdoms so old that their origin has never been traced, but which are mentioned in Buddhist edicts rock-cut sixteen centuries earlier; the Pandiyans at Madura, the Cholas at Tanjore, and others. When Vijayanagar sprang into existence the past was done with for ever, and the monarchs of the new state became lords or overlords of the territories lying between the Dakhan and Ceylon.

There was no miracle in this. It was the natural result of the persistent efforts made by the Muhammadans to conquer all India. When these dreaded invaders reached the Krishna River the Hindus to their south, stricken with terror, combined, and gathered in haste to the new standard which alone seemed to offer some hope of protection. The decayed old states crumbled away into nothingness, and the fighting kings of Vijayanagar became the saviours of the south for two and a half centuries.

And yet in the present day the very existence of this kingdom is hardly remembered in India; while its once magnificent capital, planted on the extreme northern border of its dominions and bearing the proud title of the "City of Victory," has entirely disappeared save for a few scattered ruins of buildings that were once temples or palaces, and for the long lines of massive walls that constituted its defences. Even the name has died out of men's minds and memories, and the remains that mark its site are known only as the ruins lying near the little village of Hampe.


An excellent account that must be part of Indian school history texts. The later war of 27 years between 1780-1807 where the 150,000 Marattas held off and defeated the 500,000 Moghuls led by Aurangzeb, leading their demise, was fought 300 years after the even more spectacular Vijayanagar wars of 250 years!

The Vijayanagar wars lasting 250 years from 1336-1550 where the southern kings under the Vijayanagar banner raised 1,100,00 men to fight the Delhi sultans, who were eventually defeated, leading to the establishment of the Moghuls. Exhausted, Vijayanagar itself came to an end a hundred years later after this.

King Krishnadevaraya's personal army consisted of 100,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalrymen and over 900 elephants. This number was only a part of the army numbering over 1.1 million soldiers, a figure that varied as an army of two million has also been recorded along with the existence of a navy as evidenced by the use of the term Navigadaprabhu (commander of the navy).[41] The army recruited from all classes of society (supported by the collection of additional feudal tributes from feudatory rulers), and consisted of archers and musketeers wearing quilted tunics, shieldmen with swords and poignards in their girdles, and soldiers carrying shields so larges that no armour was necessary. The horses and elephants were fully armoured and the elephants had knives fastened to their tusks to do maximum damage in battle.[42]

This was 300-500 years before the Maratta wars.

#1182 - July 07, 2010 09:07 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent
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27 Year War That Changed Course Of Indian History

Schoolchildren in India learn a very specific blend of Indian history. This school version of history is stripped of all the vigor and pride. The story of Indian civilization spans thousands of years. However for the most part the schoolbook version dwells on the freedom struggle against British and important role played in there by the Indian National Congress. We learn each and every movement of Gandhi and Nehru, but not even a passing reference is made to hundreds of other important people and events.

My objection is not to the persons Gandhi or Nehru. However the attention they get and the exposure their political views and ideology gets is rather disproportionate.

And thus it comes no surprise to me that rarely we talk about an epic war that significantly altered the face of Indian subcontinent. The war that can be described the mother of all wars in India. Considering the average life expectancy that time was around 30 years, this war of 27 years lasted almost the lifespan of an entire generation. The total number of battles fought was in hundreds. It occurred over vast geographical expanse spanning four biggest states of modern India- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. For time, expanse and human and material cost, this war has no match in Indian history.

It started in 1681 with the Mughal emperor Aurangzebs invasion of Maratha empire. It ended in 1707 with Aurangzebs death. Aurangzeb threw everything he had in this war. He lost it all.

Its tempting to jump into the stories of heroics, but what makes the study of war more interesting is the understanding of politics behind it. Every war is driven by politics. Rather war is just one of the means to do politics. This war was not an exception.

Shivajis tireless work for most of his life had shown fruits by the last quarter of seventeenth century. He had firmly established Marathas as power in Deccan. He built hundreds of forts in Konkan and Sahyadris and thus created a defense backbone. He also established strong naval presence and controlled most of the Western ports barring few on end of Indian peninsula. Thus tightening the grip on trade routes of Deccan sultanates, he strangled their weapons import from Europe and horses import from Arabian traders. These Sultanates launched several campaigns against Shivaji, but failed to stop him.

On the Northern front, several Rajput kings had accepted to be the vassals of Mughals. Aurangzeb had succeeded to the throne after brutal killing of his brothers and imprisonment of his father. With Rajput resistance mostly subsided and the southern sultanates weakened, it was only matter of time before Marathas were in his cross-hair.

At the time of Shivajis death in 1680, Maratha empire spanned an area far more than the current state of Maharashtra and had taken firm roots. But it was surrounded by enemies from all sides. Portuguese on northern Coast and Goa, British in Mumbai, Siddies in Konkan and remaining Deccan sultenates in Karnataka posed limited challenge each, but none of them was capable of taking down the Marathas alone. Mughal empire with Aurangzeb at its helm was the most formidable foe.

For the most part, Aurangzeb was a religious fanatic. He had distanced Sikhs and Rajputs because of his intolerant policies against Hindus. After his succession to the throne, he had made life living hell for Hindus in his kingdom. Taxes like Jizya tax were imposed on Hindus. No Hindu could ride in Palanquin. Hindu temples were destroyed and abundant forcible conversions took place. Auragzeb unsuccessfully tried to impose Sharia, the Islamic law. This disillusioned Rajputs and Sikhs resulting in their giving cold shoulder to Aurangzeb in his Deccan campaign.

Thus in September of 1681, after settling his dispute with the royal house of Mewar, Aurangzeb began his journey to Deccan to kill the Maratha confederacy that was not even 50 years old. On his side, the Mughal king had enormous army numbering half a million soldiers, a number more than three times that of the Maratha army. He had plentiful support of artillery, horses, elephants. He also brought huge wealth in royal treasuries. Teaming up with Portughese, British ,Siddis, Golkonda and Bijapur Sultanates he planned to encapsulate Marathas from all sides and to form a deadly death trap. To an outsider, it would seem no-brainer to predict the outcome of such vastly one sided war. It seemed like the perfect storm headed towards Maratha confederacy.

Enormous death and destruction followed in Deccan for what seemed like eternity. But what happened at the end would defy all imaginations and prove every logic wrong. Despite lagging in resources on all fronts, it would be the Marathas who triumphed. And at the expense of all his treasure, army, power and life, it would be the invading emperor who learned a very costly lesson, that the will of people to fight for their freedom should never be underestimated

Timeline Marathas under King Sambhaji (1680 to 1689):

After the death of Shivaji in 1680, a brief power struggle ensued in the royal family. Finally Sambhaji became the king. By this time Aurangzeb had finished his North missions and was pondering a final push in Deccan to conquer all of the India.

In 1681 sambhaji attacked Janjira, but his first attempt failed. In the same time one of the Aurangzebs generals, Hussein Ali Khan , attacked Northern Konkan. Sambhaji left janjira and attacked Hussein Ali Khan and pushed him back to Ahmednagar. By this time mansoon of 1682 had started. Both sides halted their major military operations. But Aurangzeb was not sitting idle. He tried to sign a deal with Portughese to allow mughal ships to harbor in Goa. This would have allowed him to open another supply route to Deccan via sea. The news reached sambhaji. He attacked Portughese territories and pushed deep inside Goa. But Voiceroy Alvor was able to defend Portughese headquarters.

By this time massive Mughal army had started gathering on the borders of Deccan. It was clear that southern India was headed for one big conflict.

Sambhaji had to leave Portughese expedition and turn around. In late 1683, Aurangzeb moved to Ahmednagar. He divided his forces in two and put his two princes, Shah Alam and Azam Shah, in charge of each division. Shah alam was to attack South Konkan via Karnataka border while Azam Shah would attack Khandesh and northern Maratha territory. Using pincer strategy, these two divisions planned to circle Marathas from South and North and isolate them.

The beginning went quite well. Shah Alam crossed Krishna river and enterd Belgaum. From there he entered Goa and started marching north via Konkan. As he pushed further,he was continuously harassed by Marathas. They ransacked his supply chains and reduced his forces to starvation. Finally Aurangzeb sent Ruhulla Khan for his rescue and brought him back to Ahmednagar. The first pincer attempt failed.

After 1684 monsoon, Aurangzebs another general Sahabuddin Khan directly attacked the Maratha capital, fort Raygad. Maratha commanders successfully defended Raygad. Aurangzeb sent Khan Jehan for help, but Hambeerrao Mohite, Commander-in-Chief of Maratha army, defeated him in a fierce battle at Patadi. Second division of Maratha army attacked Sahabuddin Khan at Pachad, inflicting heavy losses on Mughal army.

In early 1685, Shah Alam attacked South again via Gokak- Dharwar route. But Sambhajis forces harassed him continuously on the way and finally he had to give up and thus failed to close the loop second time.

In april 1685 Aurangzeb rehashed his strategy. He planned to consolidate his power in the South by taking expediations to Goalkonda and Bijapur. Both were Shia muslim rulers and Aurangzeb was no fond of them. He broke his treaties with both empires and attacked them. Taking this opportunity Marathas launched offensive on North coast and attacked Bharuch. They were able to evade the mughal army sent their way and came back with minimum damage.

On Aurangzebs new Southern front, things were proceeding rather smoothly. Bijapur fell in September 1686. King Sikandar Shah was captured and imprisoned. Goalkonda agreed to pay huge ransom. But after receiving the money, Aurangzeb attacked them in blatant treachery. Soon Goalkonda fell as well. King Abu Hussein of Goalkonda was captured and met the same fate as Sikandar Shah.

Marathas had tried to win mysore through diplomacy. Kesopant Pingle, (Moropant Pingles brother) was running negotiations, but the fall of Bijapur to mughals turned the tides and Mysore was reluctant to join Marathas. Still Sambhaji successfully courted several Bijapur sardars to join Maratha army.

After fall of Bijapur and Goalkonda, Aurangzeb turned his attention again to his main target Marathas. First few attempts proved unsuccessful to make a major dent. But in Dec 1688 he had his biggest jackpot. Sambhaji was captured at Sangmeshwar. It was in part his own carelessness and in part because of treachery. Aurangzeb gave him option of converting to Islam, which he refused. Upon refusal, Aurangzeb, blinded by his victories, gave Sambhaji the worst treatment he could ever give to anyone. Sambhaji was pareded on donkey. His tounge was cut, eyes were gorged out. His body was cut into pieces and fed to dogs.

There were many people who did not like Sambhaji and thus were sympathetic to Mughals. But this barbaric treatment made everyone angry. Maratha generals gathered on Raygad. The decision was unanimous. All peace offers were to be withdrawn. Mughals would be repelled at all costs. Rajaram succeeded as the next king. He began his reign by a valiant speech on Raygad. All Maratha generals and councilmen united under the flag of new king, and thus began the second phase of the epic war.

27 Years War TimeLine Marathas under King Rajaram (1689 to 1700)

To Aurangzeb, the Marathas seemed all but dead by end of 1689. But this would prove to be almost a fatal blunder. In March 1990, the Maratha commanders, under the leadership of Santaji Ghorpade launched the single most daring attack on mughal army. They not only attacked the army, but sacked the tent where the Aurangzeb himself slept. Luckily Aurangzeb was elsewhere but his private force and many of his bodyguards were killed.

This positive development was followed by a negative one for Marathas. Raigad fell to treachery of Suryaji Pisal. Sambhajis queen, Yesubai and their son, Shahu, were captured.

Mughal forces, led by Zulfikar Khan, continued this offensive further South. They attacked fort Panhala. The Maratha killedar of Panhala gallantly defended the fort and inflicted heavy losses on Mughal army. Finally Aurangzeb himself had to come. Panhala surrendered.

Maratha ministers had foreseen the next Mughal move on Vishalgad. They made Rajaram leave Vishalgad for Jinji, which would be his home for next seven years. Rajaram travelled South under escort of Khando Ballal and his men. The queen of Bidnur, gave them supplies and free passage. Harji Mahadiks division met them near Jinji and guarded them to the fort. Rajarams queen was escorted out of Maharashtra by Tungare brothers. She was taken to Jinji by different route. Ballal and Mahadik tirelessly worked to gather the scattered diplomats and soldiers. Jinji became new capital of Marathas. This breathed new life in Maratha army.

Aurangzeb was frustrated with Rajarams successful escape. His next move was to keep most of his force in Maharashtra and dispatch a small force to keep Rajaram in check. But the two Maratha generals, Santaji ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav would prove more than match to him.

They first attacked and destroyed the force sent by Aurangzeb to keep check on Rajaram, thus relieving the immediate danger. Then they joined Ramchandra Bavadekar in Deccan. Bavdekar, Vithoji Bhosale and Raghuji Chavan had reorganized most of the Maratha army after defeats at Panhala and Vishalgad.

In late 1691, Bavdekar, Pralhad Niraji , Santaji ,Dhanaji and several Maratha sardars met in Maval region and reformed the strategy. Aurangzeb had taken four major forts in Sahyadrais and was sending Zulfikar khan to subdue the fort Jinji. So according to new Maratha plan, Santaji and Dhanaji would launch offensives in the East to keep rest of the Mughal forces scattered. Others would focus in Maharashtra and would attack a series of forts around Southern Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka to divide Mughal won territories in two, thereby posing significant challenge to enemy supply chains. Thanks to Shivajis vision of building a navy, Marathas could now extend this divide into the sea, checking any supply routes from Surat to South.

The execution began. In early 1692 Shankar Narayan and Parshuram Trimbak recaptured Rajgad and Panhala. In early 1693 Shankar Narayan and Bhosale captured Rohida. Sidhoji Gujar took Vijaydurg. Soon Parshuram Trimbak took Vishalgad. Kanhoji Angre, a young Maratha Naval officer that time, took fort Kolaba.

While this was in work, Santaji and Dhanaji were launching swift raids on Mughal armies on East front. This came as a bit of surprise to Aurangzeb. In spite of losing one King and having second king driven away, Marathas were undaunted and actually were on offensive. From Khandesh, Ahmednagar to Bijapur to Konkan and Southern Karnataka, Santaji and Dhanaji wrecked havoc. Encouraged by the success, Santaji and Dhanaji hatched new action plan to attack Mughal forces near Jinji. Dhanaji Jadhav attacked Ismail Khan and defeated him near Kokar. Santaji Ghorpade attacked Ali Mardan Khan at the base of Jinji and captured him. With flanks cleared, both joined hands and laid a second siege around the Mughal siege at Jinji

Julfikar khan, who was orchestrating Jinji siege, left the siege on Aurangzebs orders and marched back. Santaji followed him to North, but was defeated by Julfikar Khan. Santaji then diverted his forces to Bijapur. Aurangzeb sent another general Kasim Khan to tackle Santaji. But Santaji attacked him with a brilliant military maneuver near Chitaldurg and forced him take refuge in Dunderi fort. The fort was quickly sieged by Santaji and the siege only ended when most of the Mughal soldiers starved and Kasim Khan committed suicide. Aurangzeb sent Himmat Khan to reinforce Kasim Khan. Himmat khan carried heavy artillery. So Santaji lured him in a trap in the forest near Dunderi. A sudden, ambush style attack on Mughals was followed by a fierce battle. The battle ended when when Himmat Khan was shot in head and died. All his forces routed and Santaji confiscated a big cache of weapons and ammunition.

By now, Aurangzeb had the grim realization that the war he began was much more serious than he thought. He consolidated his forces and rethought his strategy. He sent an ultimatum to Zulfikar khan to finish Jinji business or be stripped of the titles. Julfikar khan tightened the Siege. But Rajaram fled and was safely escorted to Deccan by Dhanaji Jadhav and Shirke brothers. Haraji Mahadiks son took the charge of Jinji and bravely defended Jinji against Julfikar khan and Daud khan till January of 1698. This gave Rajaram ample of time to reach Vishalgad.

Jinji fell, but it did a big damage to the Mughal empire. The losses incurred in taking Jinji far outweighed the gains. The fort had done its work. For seven years the three hills of Jinji had kept a large contigent of mughal forces occupied. It had eaten a deep hole into Mughal resources. Not only at Jinji, but the royal treasury was bleeding everywhere and was already under strain.

Marathas would soon witness an unpleasant development, all of their own making. Dhanaji Jadhav and Santaji Ghorpade had a simmering rivalry, which was kept in check by the councilman Pralhad Niraji. But after Nirajis death, Dhanaji grew bold and attacked Santaji. Nagoji Mane, one of Dhanajis men, killed Santaji. The news of Santajis death greatly encouraged Aurangzeb and Mughal army.

But by this time Mughals were no longer the army they were feared before. Aurangzeb, against advise of several of his experienced generals, kept the war on. It was much like Alexander on the borders of Taxila.

The Marathas again consolidated and the new Maratha counter offensive began. Rajaram made Dhanaji the next commander in chief. Maratha army was divided in three divisions. Dhanaji would himself lead the first division. Parshuram Timbak lead the second and Shankar Narayan lead the third. Dhanaji Jadhav defeated a large mughal force near Pandharpur. Shankar Narayan defeated Sarja Khan in Pune. Khanderao Dabhade, who lead a division under Dhanaji, took Baglan and Nashik. Nemaji Shinde, another commander with Shankar Narayan, scored a major victory at Nandurbar.

Enraged at this defeats, Aurangzeb himself took charge and launched another counter offensive. He laid siege to Panhala and attacked the fort of Satara. The seasoned commander, Prayagji Prabhu defended Satara for a good six months, but surrendered in April of 1700, just before onset of Monsoon. This foiled Aurangzebs strategy to clear as many forts before monsoon as possible.

In March of 1700, another bad news followed Marathas. Rajaram took his last breath. His queen Tarabai, who was also daughter of the gallant Maratha Commander-in-Chief Hambeerrao Mohite, took charge of Maratha army. Daughter of a braveheart, Tarabai proved her true mettle for the next seven years. She carried the struggle on with equal valor. Thus began the phase 3, the last phase of the prolonged war, with Marathas under the leadership of Tarabai.

The signs of strains were showing in Mughal camp in late 1701. Asad Khan, Julfikar Khans father, counselled Aurangzeb to end the war and turn around. This expedition had already taken a giant toll, much larger than originally planned, on Mughal empire. And serious signs were emerging that the 200 years old Mughal empire was crumbling and was in the middle of a war that was not winnable

Mughals were bleeding heavily from treasuries. But Aurangzeb kept pressing the war on. When Tarabai took charge, Aurangzeb had laid siege to the fort of Parli (Sajjangad). Parshuram Trimbak defended the fort until mansooon and retreated quietly at the break of monsoon.The mughal army was dealt heavy loss by flash floods in the rivers around. These same tactics were followed by Marathas at the next stop of Aurangzeb, Panhala. Similar tactic was followed even for Vishalgad.

By 1704, Aurangzeb had Torana and Rajgad. He had won only a handful forts in this offensive, but he had spent several precious years. It was slowly dawning to him that after 24 years of constant war, he was no closer to defeating Marathas than he was the day he began.

The final Maratha counter offensive gathered momentum in North. Tarabai proved to be a valiant leader once again. One after another Mughal provinces fell in north. They were not in position to defend as the royal treasuries had been sucked dry and no armies were left in town. In 1705, two Maratha army factions crossed Narmada. One under leadership of Nemaji Shinde hit as deep North as Bhopal. Second under the leadership of Dabhade struck Bharoch and West. Dabhade with his eight thousand men,attacked and defeated Mahomed khans forces numbering almost fourteen thousand. This left entire Gujarat coast wide open for Marathas. They immediately tightened their grip on Mughal supply chains.

In Maharashtra, Aurangzeb grew despondent. He started negotiations with Marathas, but cut abruptly and marched on a small kingdom called Wakinara. Naiks at Wakinara traced their lineage to royal family of Vijaynagar empire. They were never fond of Mughals and had sided with Marathas. Dhanaji marched into Sahyadris and won almost all the major forts back in short time. Satara and Parali forts were taken by Parshuram Timbak. Shankar Narayan took Sinhgad. Dhanaji then turned around and took his forces to Wakinara. He helped the Naiks at Wakinara sustain the fight. Naiks fought very bravely. Finally Wakinara fell, but the royal family of Naiks successfully escaped with least damage.

Aurangzeb had now given up all hopes and was now planning retreat to Burhanpur. Dhanaji Jadhav again fell on him and in swift and ferocious attack and dismantled the rear guard of his imperial army. Zulfikar Khan rescued the emperor and they successfully reached Burhanpur.

Aurangzeb witnessed bitter fights among his sons in his last days. Alone, lost, depressed, bankrupt, far away from home, he died sad death on 3rd March 1707. I hope god will forgive me one day for my disastrous sins, were his last words.

Thus ended a prolonged and grueling period in history of India. The Mughal kingdom fragmented and disintegrated soon after. And Deccan saw rise of a new sun, the Maratha empire.

Reflection: Strategical Analysis:

In this war, Aurangzebs army totaled more than 500,000 in number (compared to total Maratha army in the ballpark of 150,000). With him he carried huge artillery, cavalry, muskettes, ammunition and giant wealth from royal treasuries to support this quest. This war by no means a fair game when numbers are considered.

The main features of Aurangzebs strategy were :-

Use of overwhelming force to demoralize the enemy This tactic had proved successful in Aurangzebs other missions. Thus he used this even in Maharashtra. On several occasions giant Mughal contigents were used to lay siege to a fort or capture a town.

Meticulously planned sieges to the forts Aurangzeb knew that the forts in Sahyadri formed backbone of Maratha defense. His calculation was to simply lay tight siege to the fort, demoralizing and starving the people inside and finally making them surrender the fort.

Fork or pincer movements using large columns of infantry and cavalry With large number of infantry and cavalry, pincer could have proved effective and almost fatal against Marathas

Marathas had one advantage on their side, geography. They milked this advantage to the last bit. Their military activities were planned considering the terrain and the weather.

The main features of Maratha strategy were :-

Combined offensive-defensive strategy Throughout the war, Marathas never stopped their offensive. This served two purposes. The facts that Maratha army was carrying out offensive attacks in Mughal land suddenly made them psychologically equals to Mughals launching attack in Maratha land, even though Mughals were a much bigger force. This took negative toll on Mughal morale and boosted morale of their own men. Secondly, these offensive attacks in terms of quick raids often heavily damaged enemy supply chains taking toll on Mughal army.
The forts formed backbone of Maratha defense. Thanks to Shivaji, the every fort had provision of fresh water. The total forts numbered almost 300 and this large number proved major headache to Aurangzeb.

Defense of forts till onset of Monsoon Forts are an asset in rest of the year, but are a liability in monsoon as it costs a lot to carry food and supplies up. Also the monsoon in coasts and ghats is severe in nature and no major military movement is possible. Thus Marathas often fought till Monsoon and surrendered the fort just before Monsoon. Before surrendering they burned all the food inside. Thus making it a proposition of loss in every way. Often times Marathas surrendered the fort empty, but later soon won it back filled with food and water. These events demoralized the enemy.

Offensive attacks in terms of evasive raids Marathas mostly launched offensive attacks in the region when Mughal army was away. They rarely engaged Mughal army in open fields till later part of the war. If situation seemed dire, they would retreat and disperse and thus conserve most of their men and arms for another day.
The rivers Bhima, Krishna , Godavari and the mountains of Sahyadri, divide entire Maharashtra region is in several North- South corridors. When Mughal army traveled South through one corridor, Marathas would travel North through another and launch attacks there. This went on changing gradually and in the end, Maratha forces started engaging Mughals head on.

A noted historian Jadunath Sarkar makes an interesting observation. In his own words, Aurangzeb won battle after battles, but in the end he lost the war. As the war prolonged, it transformed from war of weapons to war of spirits, and Aurangzeb was never able to break Maratha spirit.

What Marathas did was an classic example of assymetric defensive warfare. The statement above by Mr. Sarkar hides one interesting fact about this assymetric defense. Is it really possible to lose most of the battles and still win the war?

The answer is yes, and explanation is a statistical phenomena called Simpsons paradox.. According to Simpsons paradox, several micro-trends can lead to one conclusion, however a mega-trend combining all the micro-trends can lead to an exact opposite conclusion. Explanation is as follows.

Say two forces go on war, force A with 100 soldiers and force B with 40 soldiers. Now say in every battle between A and B, the following happens.

If A loses, they lose 80% of the soldiers fighting.
If B loses, they only lose 10% of the soldiers fighting.
If A wins, they lose 50% of the solders fighting.
If B wins, they lose only 10% of the soldiers fighting.

In the case above, the ratio of (resource drain of A / resource drain of B ) is higher than (initial number of A soldiers / initial number of B soldiers). So even if A wins battle more than 50% of the time, they will lose their resources faster and, in the end, will lose the war. All B has to do is keep the morale and keep the consistency.

One of the most famous warrior in ancient Indian history seems to agree with the conclusion above. In Bhishma- perva of Mahabharata, pitamah Bhishma begins the war-advice to king Yudhisthira with a famous quote -
The strength of an army is not in its numbers

It was not Shivajis personality but his vision and his values was what Deccan fought for. They imbibed that vision and made it their own. After that, they were not fighting for their hero, they were fighting for themselves. The secret of why people simply refused to surrender to Mughal power can be found not in Shivajis heroics, but somewhere else. The secret lies in the reforms he brought.

During the short span of his governance, Shivaji brought a manifold of reforms. For the purpose of discussion, I will divide them into four categories. Governance reforms, political reforms, defense reforms and social reforms.

Governance reforms deserve first attention. After the coronation, Shivaji put in place fully functioning governance consisting of Ashta-Pradhan (eight ministers). These eight men were noted statesmen in their era. They laid foundation of formal economic policy, foreign policy and other functions of government.

One key aspect differentiated Shivajis governance through ministers from the prevailing watan and jahagir type of governance division of work based on function rather than geography. To put in management terms, this was horizontal decentralization where each minister was responsible for only one function, say judiciary branch, but was responsible for the entire empire. This was much better than vertical decentralization of watan system, where one person would be named in charge of all affairs of a small region. Horizontal decentralization helped keep uniformity across the whole empire and made it easy for people to migrate, do business, and remain one political entity. Also when divided this way, different branches of government keep check on each other and stop each other from running amok. These ministers kept military focused on the military objectives. They checked personal rivalries between individual commanders. In addition these ministers provided a crucial diplomatic support complementing the military ventures.

Second, Defense strategy reforms. The combined choice of Guerrilla warfare as tactics, the reliance on light infantry and and a solid line of more than 300 strengthened forts represents Shivajis coherent defense strategy. Unlike Rajputs, who stuck to their code of warriors even as Mughal and Persian invaders broke every possible rule of ethics, Marathas retaliated in tit-for-tat way. They preferred guerrilla warfare for defense and engaged in open field battles only when necessary. They never disrespected the women like Khilji and Ghori did, so they were certainly ethical minded. But they never shied from attacking their enemies at night if required. They were more committed to the political objective than the personal objective of bravery.

Additionally Shivaji launched Navy. Though the Maratha ships were smaller and the weapons inferior in technology, they gave Marathas capabilities to open a sea front. This sea front played a big role in the 27 year war by blocking Aurangzebs supply chains from Surat.

Several social reforms were introduced as well. It is largely this statesmanship of Shivaji that laid the foundation of indefatigable Maratha resistance. Common people fought because ,for them, going back to the horrors of previous governance was simply not an option.

On the economic front, there was a taxation reform. The previous empires had followed a system of taxation that was predatory or at times outright cruel. They had appointed Jameen-dars that collected tax on their behalf. The amount that was to be deposited in the royal treasury was fixed, but the amount that was to be collected from the peasants was left to Jameen-dars. These jameen-dars exploited this opportunity to fill their treasures, driving the farmers to bankruptcy. Over the years these Jameen-dars had built big castles, had their own armies, their own courts and they enjoyed being mini-kings.
Shivaji scrapped this system of taxation and introduced taxes where the amount that was to be collected from the peasants was fixed. The appointed officers were given only limited mandate and authority to carry out their duty to collect taxes. They were often transferred, preventing them from developing too strong local ties. If in any year it did not rain and the farmers lost their crops, the taxes were waived.

Shivajis fiscal policies were conservative. Thus no magnificent monuments like Taj Mahal or Royal Mughal gardens were built by Shivaji. But it was him for whom his nation was ready to die. This fiscal conservative bend shows a striking resemblance to another visionary leader. After the American revolutionary war, Thomas Jefferson refused to pay for the extravagant ballroom maintained by British Viceroy in Virginia colonies noting that such mansions represent colossal waste of taxpayer money.
By contrast, Deccan Sultanates and Mughals had shown little interest in welfare of people. During the 22 years that took to build Taj Mahal, three times there was severe draught and hundreds of thousands of people died. But Shahjahan focused all the money and efforts on building a tomb for his wife.

Its indeed an irony that that Taj Mahal has become symbol of India while the forts that cradled the first swaraj, first rule of people, languish in desolation.


For centuries , the mountains and valleys, towns and villages of Deccan had gotten used to being a pawn in the game of power. They changed hands as kingdoms warred with each other. They paid taxes whoever was in a position to extract them. For the most part they remained in a sleepy slumber, just turning and twisting in their bed.
Once in a while they sent their sons to fight in battles without ever asking why exactly the war is being launched. Other times they fought amongst themselves. They were divided, confused and did not have high hopes about their future.
This was the condition of Deccan when Shivaji launched his first expedition of fort Torana in 1645. By the time of his death mere 35 years later, he had transformed Deccan from a sleepy terrain to a thundering volcano.

Finally, here was a man whose vision of future was shared by a large general audience. An unmistakable characteristic of a modern concept of nation-state. Perhaps the most important factor that distinguishes Shivajis vision is that it was unifying. His vision went beyond building an army of proud warriors from warrior castes. It included people from all rungs of society sharing a common political idea and ready to defend it at any cost. His vision went far beyond creating an empire for himself in Maharashtra. It included a building confederacy of states against what he thought were foreign invaders. He was trying to build an Alliance of Hindu kingdoms. He went out of his way to convince Mirza-Raje Jaisingh to leave Aurangzeb. He established relations with the dethroned royal family of Vijaynagar for whom he had tremendous respect. He attempted to unify the sparring Hindu power centers.

And they responded. Sikhs in Punjab, Rajputs in Rajasthan, Nayaks in Karnataka, rulers of Mysore, the royal family of Vijaynagar were of valuable help to Shivaji and later to Marathas. It was certainly a step towards a nation getting its soul back.

While he was creating a political voice for Hindus, Muslims never faced persecution in his rule. Several Muslims served at high posts in his court and army. His personal body guard on his Agra visit was Muslim. His Naval officer, Siddi Hilal was Muslim. Thus Shivajis rule was not meant to challenge Islam as a personal religion, but it was a response to Political Islam.

Last but not the least, we must give due respect to one more thing. The seeds of every political revolution can be traced back to a spiritual one and this was no exception. The Bhakti movement in Maharashtra that began with 12th Century saint Dnyaneshwar and spearheaded by saint Tukaram (who was contemporary of Shivaji), played a role of social catalyst of immense effect. It created a forum, a pool in society where everyone was welcome. The shackles of cast system were not broken, but were certainly loosened. Once people were on the same page spiritually, it was easier for Shivaji to get them on the same page politically.

Its tempting for a Maharashtrian to claim the root of success of Marathas solely be in Maharashtra. But at the height of its peak, only 20% of Shivajis kingdom was part of Maharashtra. When Marathas launched northern campaigns in 18th century, it was even more less. Soldiers in Maratha army came from diverse social and geographical backgrounds including from areas as far away as Kandahar to West and Bengal to East. Shivaji received a lot of support from various rulers and common people from all over India.

Thus limiting Marathas to Maharashtra is mostly a conclusion of a politician. It must be noted that the roots of Maharashtra culture can be traced to both ancient Karnataka and Northern India. Shivaji himself traced his lineage to Shisodia family of Rajputs. Maharashtrians should not be ashamed to admit that their roots lie elsewhere. In fact they should feel proud that land of Maharashtra is truly a melting pot where Southern and Northern Indian cultures melted to give birth to a new vision of a nation. Shivaji was far more an Indian king than a Maratha king.

Dear readers, here ends the story of an epic war. I hope this saga gives you a sense of realistic hope and a sense of humble pride. All you might be doing today is sitting in a cubicle for the day ,typing on keyboard. But remember that the same blood runs in our fingers that long long time ago displayed unparalleled courage and bravery, the same spirit resides within us that can once soured sky high upon the call of freedom.

Jai Hind !!


History of Mahrattas by James Duff

Shivaji and His Times by Jadunath Sarkar

A History Of Maratha People by Charles Kincaid

Background of Maratha Renaissance by N. K. Behere

Rise of The Maratha Power by Mahadev Govind Ranade

Maratha History by S R Sharma

#1438 - April 19, 2011 01:05 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Kumari: The lost land of Tamils in literary tradition

Volume 28 - Issue 08 :: Apr. 09-22, 2011
from the publishers of THE HINDU


The Lemuria myth


How it permeated the Tamil tradition through folklore and writings as the lost continent of Kumari.


Lost land of Tamils

The narratives about Lemuria found their way into colonial India about the time when folklore began to permeate historic knowledge as though they were fact. The writings of Wishar Cerve and the maps of Scott Elliot were brought into Tamil writings by K. Appadurai, in his book Kumari Kandam Allathu Kadal Konda Thennadu (Kumari Continent or the Submerged Southern Land, 1941). The term Lemuria found its way into certain Tamil textbooks and was given the Tamil name Kumari kandam, or continent of Kumari. Names from Tamil classics were given to the mountain ranges, rivers, places and areas. For example, the puranic geography of an axial mountain called Meru as the centre of Jambudvipa (Sanskrit) or Navalan Theevu (Tamil) was accepted, and, later on, these names were attributed to certain parts of Lemuria, giving it acceptability among Tamil readers. In the 1920s, with Tamil revivalism and the efforts to counter the “Aryan” and associated Sanskrit dominance, the concept of Lemuria was wedded to the notion of the lost land referred to in Tamil literature.

There are a few references in Tamil Sangam classics to a landmass that was swallowed up by the sea. Historians consider the first three centuries A.D. as the Sangam period. The reference to the tradition about three Tamil Sangams (assemblies or academies) is noted in Iraiyanar Kalviyalurai, attributed to Nakeerar. According to this commentary, the Pandya kings patronised Tamil poets in their capital, where the Sangam was located. According to tradition, the Mudal Sangam (first assembly), was located in Thenmadurai. When the sea swallowed Thenmadurai, the capital was shifted to Kapatapuram and the second or Idai Sangam was established. The Idai Sangam functioned until a deluge destroyed Kapatapuram. After the deluge, the Pandyas shifted their capital to the present-day Madurai where the last or Kadai Sangam was established.

Some of the important references from Tamil Sangam classics are as follows:

1) in Purananuru 9, verses 10-11 are interpreted as a reference to a Pandya king who ruled a part of the lost land where the river Pahruli flowed.

2) in Silapathigaram (Kadu Kaan Kaathai) (11:17-22) is a reference to a Pandya king who won over kingdoms in Imayam (the Himalayas) and Gangai (the Ganga) to compensate for his land lost to the deluge. Tamil scholars such as Devaneya Paavaanar consider the deluge under reference to be the one that destroyed Thenmadurai.

3) According to Adiyarku Nallar, poem 104:1-4 from Mullai Kalithogai indicates that the Pandya king resettled the survivors of the deluge in certain Chera and Chola territories. It is portrayed by certain Tamil writers that the series of deluges destroyed the Tamil civilisation and the survivors spread out and civilised other parts of the world.

The Tamil tradition about a lost land was committed to writing after the 10th century by commentators like Nakeerar in his commentary on Iraiyanar Akapporulurai. Nachinarkiniyar and Adiyarku Nallar followed him. Those who wrote the commentaries exaggerated the extent of land that was submerged by the deluges referred to in Silapathigaram and Kalithogai. According to the commentators, there were 49 countries ( nadu) in the lost land of Kumari and the distance between the river Kumari and the river Pahruli that flowed in the lost land was 700 katham, which according to one calculation is about 770 km.

The crucial question is whether the land referred to as Kumari was as large as a continent? The advocates of Kumari kandam interpreted the term nadu to mean country. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala many small towns and villages have in their names the term nadu, which basically referred to a settlement, as opposed to kadu, or forest. In the above Tamil references there is no mention of the term kandam, referring to land the size of a continent.

According to Pingala Nikandu, a lexicon of ancient words, k andam means country. In the words of the historian N. Subrahmanian (1996), “It is possible that a small area of land (to the extent of a present-day district) was lost by sea erosion and Pahruli and Kumari were parts of that territory and that the king shifted this capital to some other place. But in all probability that event occurred only in the 5th or 4th century B.C. Such erosions on a limited scale were not unknown to the southern and eastern seaboards of Tamil Nadu. If the fiction is removed from the fact, the entire romantic superstructure called the theory of the Kumari kandam will stand exposed, as non-history” ( The Tamils - Their History, Culture and Civilisation; pages 26, 27).

If the oral traditions and the subsequent writings exaggerated the size of the submerged land called Kumari, what was the background to the lost land referred to in Sangam literature?

Sea-level changes

Geology emerged as a scientific discipline in the late 19th century when both scientific and popular imagination was dominated by Biblical accounts of creation and deluges. Dramatic geological events were attributed to catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Eventually, the understanding of phenomena such as plate tectonics, continental drift and sea floor spreading dismissed the catastrophe theories. The speculation about land bridges and lost continents faded into obscurity elsewhere in the world but not quite so in Tamil Nadu.

Since the early part of the last century major strides have been made in the geological and geophysical understanding of the earth. For instance, in 1912 Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist, explained the concept of continental drift; in 1924, the British geologist Arthur Holmes explained that the convection current in the mantle could cause continents to drift; in 1962, the American Geologist Harry Hess pointed out that continental drift could be explained by sea-floor spreading; in 1966, the concept of sea-floor spreading was established by independent oceanographic data involving microfossils, sediments of the sea floor, measure of heat flow from the earth's interior and palaeo-magnetic and seismic studies.

Since the first oceanic sounding in 1840, the study of oceans, including their chemistry, biology, geology and physics, has advanced in the last century. Improved coring devices have enlarged our knowledge of the oceans, and deep ocean floors have been mapped by echo-soundings and ultra-sonic signals. In the 1940s, seismic methods were also used to study the ocean floor.

Evidence of former glaciations on a wide scale became overwhelmingly conclusive in the last century. During the past two million years, there have been five major glacial advances and five glacial retreats as the globe began to warm. The last of such periods is the present period known as Holocene. The last Ice Age caused the fragmented distribution of Homo sapiens, and the enormous environmental changes that took place with global warming had a profound influence on the prehistory of humankind.

Extensive studies were done to understand global warming during the interglacial periods; sediments were subjected to meticulous analyses to establish the age and palaeo-geographical conditions in many parts of the world.

For instance, about 18,000 years ago, during the time of the last Ice Age, ice sheets in the poles spread much wider and the sea level was more than 100 metres lower than it is today, exposing a large area of land along the continental shelf. Then Siberia was connected to Alaska and along this land bridge, the peopling of the Americas and migration of animals happened over a long period. At this time, the landmass of present-day Papua New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania were joined together as were the British Isles with Europe. After the last Ice Age the level of the Indian Ocean, like the rest of the oceans, fell. Sri Lanka was connected to the Indian peninsula by a landmass, which now lies under the Gulf of Mannar. In the following 8,000 years, global warming continued and large masses of ice and glaciers melted, raising sea levels in stages and inundating low-lying lands. The portion of the continental shelf of the south Indian peninsula and the land that connected it to Sri Lanka also went under water as the sea level rose.

Records of sea-level fluctuations and related climatic changes are preserved in the layered sediments of the seabed. These can be studied through data such as faunal contents and nature of sediments. Rajiv Nigam and N.H. Hashimi of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, have done extensive work on sea-level rise by analysing sediments for microfossils such as pollen and foraminifera to determine palaeo-climate and by dating corals from the continental shelf in the west coast of peninsular India. The team studied marine sediments to generate proxy climate records through which changes in palaeo sea levels could be deciphered.

Nigam and P.J. Henriques, also of the NIO, have developed a regional model for palaeo depth determination on the basis of percentage of foraminifera in surface sediments of the Arabian Sea. The significant results of the study on palaeo sea levels are that the sea level was lower by 100 m about 14,500 years ago and by 60 m about 10,000 years ago and that during the last 10,000 years there had been three major episodes of sea-level fluctuation. These sea-level changes had affected human settlements and peopling of the coastal areas and had left their signatures on archaeological events.

Once the status of the periodic sea-level rise was established, it was easy to decipher the configuration of the coastline, giving allowance wherever applicable to tectonic activities and deposition of silt at the confluence of rivers. The Naval Hydrographic Office, Dehra Dun, has produced hydrographic charts (INT 717071-1986 717071-1986 to the scale 1:10,000,000 and INT 7007706-1973 7007706-1973 of scale 1:3,500,000) pertaining to Cape Comorin-Gulf of Mannar, where it surveyed the depth of the sea floor with echo-sounders, which measure the sea floor contours with great accuracy.

Changes in southern India

It is possible to demarcate the land lost to the sea in the south of India from postglacial inundation maps that indicate the significant changes in the coastline.

The author has prepared inundation maps on the basis of bathymetric contours and the sea-level curve for the central west coast to work out the configuration of the coastline south of India since the last Ice Age. This study shows that about 14,500 years ago the sea level was lower by approximately 100 m than the present sea level. The land between the present coast and the bathymetric contour of 100 m roughly was the land that was exposed during that time.

In other words, hypothetically, if a 100 m column of sea water were to be removed, the land that went under water would be exposed. At that time the present Gulf of Mannar was a landmass of 36,000 sq. km connecting Sri Lanka with peninsular India and the coast was wider by about 80 km to the east, south and west of present-day Cape Comorin exposing a triangular mass of 6,500 sq. km adjoining the Cape. The coastline was 25-35 km wider than the present near Cuddalore and about 25 km wider near Colombo.

Global warming

The increased rate of global warming between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago saw the sea level rise almost 50 m, inundating low-lying lands and covering a major part of the exposed continental shelf. About 10,000 years ago, the sea level was about 50 m lower than the present sea level. At that time, the land extended about 25 km south of the Cape and the coast was about 40 km broader than the present coastline along the east and the west, which exposed about 1,000 sq km of land near Cape Comorin. Rameswaram and Mannar were joined by land and the land that extended in the present-day Gulf of Mannar was a 2,500-sq km stretch marked by sedimentary formations and coral reefs.


AN INUNDATION MAP by S.C. Jayakaran. He prepared the map on the basis of bathymetric contours and the sea-level curve for the central west coast to work out the configuration of the coastline south of India since the last Ice Age. It shows that about 14,500 years ago the sea level was lower by about 100 m than the present. The land between the coast now and the bathymetric contour of 100 m was the land that was exposed then.

As the research of Rajiv Nigam indicated, sea levels continued to rise and reached the present level around 6,000 years ago. This is about the time Sri Lanka evolved as an island. Between 4,000 and 3,500 years ago, heavy rains, in addition to melting of snow, also contributed to the sea level rise. It rose by a couple of metres and fell to the present level about 2,000 years ago.

It is scientifically uncontested that the earliest Homo sapiens developed in Africa 100,000 to 200,000 years ago and migrated to Europe and Asia. Genetic evidence and fossil records of early human beings indicate that they came out of Africa as early as 100,000 to 60,000 years ago. Their descendants migrated to the Far East, probably along the coastal areas adjacent to the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal around the Indian peninsula, Sri Lanka and then north into China and south into Sumatra.

As the sea levels rose, resulting in periodic flooding and deluges, prehistoric settlements that were located in the low-lying coastal lands and the exposed continental shelf were inundated. The people who lived in the coastal area of the Indian peninsula and Sri Lanka and who escaped the deluges perpetuated the oral tradition of a lost land. It is my considered opinion that it is this development that gave rise to the legend of Kumari kandam.

Also read:


Aug 2, 2010

Google's map of India's continental shelf : Kumari Kandam?


1. The Google map could now be reached by clicking on the followiing link:

3. Let's not overlook the fact that there was a submergence of a major sea port and city, Puumbukaar (or kaavEripuumpaddinam), barely 2,000 years ago:

The city could not have been simply washed away from land far out into the sea by some tsunami. That the city was submerged must mean that there was a significant rise in sea level (in that local region, and not globally) and/or subsidence of land. This occurred not some 18,000 years ago, but around the beginning of the Common Era (CE), barely 2000 years ago.

4. Now going back to the Google map referred to in (1) above:

What is now regarded as continental shelf, would have been land sometime in the past. Beyond the continental shelf is the continental slope before the plunge to the ocean bed. Even if the land corresponding to the shelf were no larger than it is today, it is still a sizeable area. Taken as 100km by 100km, it is an area of 10,000 sq km. Much larger than the areas covered by the Egyptian and Sumerian civilzations (?)



Aug 23, 2009
Mar 15, 2006

mEl or mElai (west) and kIzh or kIzhai (east)


2. In fact, I recall reading - some time ago - an explanation for the Tamil words for the directions of East (kizhakku) and West (maeRkku). It also common to say kIzh-thisai (East) and maEl-thisai (West). These literally mean referring to the East as the 'descending direction' and the West as the 'ascending direction'. The explanation is based on the landscape of the submerged continent of Lemuria or Kumari Kandam. It is said that towards the East the land was low lying, whilst it was high rising (e.g. ridges) towards the West......


The scholars concerned believe that the Western Ghats had extended further south into Kumari.

The following post indicates how science may help shine light into old myths of the great floods, particularly relevant here because the first two Tamil Academies (Sangams) were ended by such floods:

Comet crash & mega-tsunami of Indian Ocean : Kumari Kandam ?

The New York Times

November 14, 2006
Ancient Crash, Epic Wave

#1499 - March 08, 2012 02:43 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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The Shipping Technology of Cholas


Chola Navy



#1502 - April 04, 2012 05:43 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Dvaraka, Kumari Kandam, Dhola Vira



#1504 - May 13, 2012 11:34 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Challenges to caste system among medieval Tamils

Of the 58,800, recorded inscriptions in Indian languages, 44,000 are in South Indian Dravidian languages, and 28,000 are in Tamil alone, Karashima said in pointing out how there is ample scope in Tamil for a statistical study to bring in reliable information and perspective.

Karashima was steadily working on statistical data of Tamil inscriptions ever since his publication A Concordance of Names in Chola Inscriptions, compiled along with Subbarayalu and Matsui was published in 1978.

Through his analysis, Karashima has also shown how there were challenges against the Brahmanical order of caste hierarchy in the Tamil country.

Behind the formation of i&#7693;a&#7749;gai/ vala&#7749;gai [Idang-kai/ Valang-kai] groups in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, we may perceive the challenging idea, that the people conceived of, namely, changing the caste system which was made hierarchically based on the Brahmanical ideology, by bifurcating the jati groups horizontally into i&#7693;a&#7749;gai [Idang-kai] (left hand) and vala&#7749;gai [Valang-kai] (right hand), he argued in his paper.

There seems to have been an aspiration among the people who founded i&#7693;a&#7749;gai/ vala&#7749;gai [Idang-kai/ Valang-kai] organizations towards an egalitarian society and this is something new to South Indian medieval society, he further said.

Idang-kai and Valang-kai were umbrella social organisations that gave new horizontal identity to various communities of vertical hierarchy in the Brahmanical order.


Edited by webmaster (May 13, 2012 11:35 AM)

#1506 - September 04, 2012 03:40 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Chola Navy and Marine Corps

Prakash Katoch

Did ancient India have a Marine Corps? Yes, it did. Considering that aircraft and helicopters were not on the scene in medieval India other than in epics of Ramayan and Mahabharat, the Navy or rather Naval Infantry of the Chola Empire could well be classified as the Marine Corps of that period. Historical records actually mention of Chola Navy having a core of Marines including trained saboteurs who were trained pearl-fishermen employed for diving and disabling enemy vessels by destroying / damaging the rudder. The Imperial navy of medieval Cholas was composed of a multitude of forces in its command. In addition to the regular navy, there were many auxiliary forces that could be used in naval combat. Chola Navy had the capacity to establish beachheads and or reinforce the Army when required. Expeditionary voyages of the Chola Navy were accompanied with other naval arms of ancient India. Chola Navy played a vital role in the conquest of then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Bengal and present day Indonesia. The array of Hindu temples built in South East Asia stand witness to exploits of the Chola Navy.

As per recorded history, Chola Admirals commanded much respect and prestige in the society, even acting as diplomats in some instances. From 900 CE to 1100 CE, the Chola Navy had grown from a small backwater entity to that of a potent power projection and diplomatic symbol in all of Asia. The early Chola naval ships are known to have rudimentary flame-throwers and catapult type weapons but at the height of power of the Chola Dynasty (985-1014 CE) the Cholas incorporated foreigners, mainly Arabs and Chinese, in their naval ship building program and developed modern combat ships of that era that gave them blue water capability. What is more significant is the organization and classic employment of Naval Infantry in Chola conquests in foreign lands. Chola Navy was thus effectively employed for securing beachheads, against sea pirates, protection of SLOCs, trade commerce and diplomacy, extending Chola influence to China and Southeast Asia. The Tang dynasty of China, the Srivijaya Empire in the Malayan archipelago (now Indonesia) and the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad were their main trading partners.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army


#1549 - January 06, 2014 09:28 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Chronology and the Upanishads Koenraad Elst

The first six or so of the Upanishads easily predate the Buddha.


Editor's Note: the Mahabharata event is mythology and did not take place anytime in history. The Mb dating places the Mb event millions of years ago during the Dvapara yuga when Australopithecus were walking on earth and the Homo genus had not yet branched.

Edited by webmaster (January 06, 2014 09:30 AM)

#1552 - March 04, 2014 10:10 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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#1557 - September 01, 2014 04:12 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Loc: Penang

Tamil Nadu had elected judiciary 1,200 years ago

Tamil Nadu had an elected judiciary more than 1,200 years ago, with rules stipulating that the judges should have sterling character (su vrittaraiai iruppar), should have passed examinations in legal treatises (Dharma Sastras), should rely only on written evidence (lekhya pramanas) and so on. This is borne out by two inscriptions in Tamil found at the Sri Ambalavana Swamy temple at Manur near Tirunelveli, and the Sri Bakthavatsala Perumal temple at Tiruninravur, 30 km from Chennai.


#1560 - April 10, 2015 01:33 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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When Hindus ate beef, India was NEVER conquered

When Hindus ate beef, India was NEVER conquered
March 24, 2015 11:06 IST

'There is a remarkable link between the eating of beef (or at the very least, tolerating the eating of beef) and India being a superpower.'

'In India, whenever an empire was strong, religion took a back seat.'

'Alternatively, whenever religion asserted itself, the main empire of India crumbled...'

'By seeking to ban beef in every state that it rules, the BJP may well be taking India on the route to becoming a weakling,' warns Amberish K Diwanji.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra has chosen to ban beef derived from oxen.

Many are up in arms against the move, saying it is aimed at harassing the Muslims and Christians, in particular, and against all non-vegetarians in general (including Hindus) since the cost of other meat will go up with the non-availability of beef in the market. Similar steps have been taken by BJP governments in other states.

For the BJP, banning the slaughter of bulls and oxen (the killing of cows was banned decades ago by the Congress) is part of its aim to assert the nation's Hindu identity.

The Mauryan Empire at its zenith.

But the BJP also styles itself as a nationalist government committed to turning India into a superpower. It often recalls a glorious Hindu past, harking back to the likes of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Chandragupta and Samudragupta, and Harshvardhan. This was in the millennium before Muslims hordes entered India (though Arabs had captured Sind in the 8th century).

The problem is that there is a remarkable link between the eating of beef (or at the very least, tolerating the eating of beef) and India being a superpower. Put another way: In India, whenever an empire was strong, religion took a back seat.

Alternatively, whenever religion asserted itself, the main empire of India crumbled and was soon destroyed by another power, either from within India or from outside India.

Today, by seeking to ban beef in every state that it rules and across India, the BJP may well be taking India on the route to becoming a weakling.

In ancient India, killing and consuming animals was part and parcel of life of all. Hindus then were overwhelmingly non-vegetarian. There are historians who have pointed out that back then Hindus ate beef. And back then, India was never conquered. Never!

Even the mighty Alexander (hailed as 'the Great' by Western historians) merely conquered the Punjab; his troops, fearful of facing the might of Magadha, preferred to return home. It was a Russian historian or military officer (regretfully I can't recall his name) who pointed out that rather than mutiny, as claimed by Western historians, Alexander's troops might have simply refused to fight Magadha after the bruising victory over Porus. The homesickness myth was merely created to explain away this embarrassing retreat across the Indus.

The Magadha Empire was followed by the Gupta Empire, and later that of Harshvardhan, all before or during the first millennium of the Common Era (CE), a time when, historians tell us, Hindus ate not just meat but also beef. Meat eating then was common practice (and caste was based on profession, not birth).

The very fact that Buddhism, which was born and blossomed in north India circa 200-300 BCE (Before CE), places absolutely no restriction on eating beef shows that back then, there was no restriction on eating beef among the Hindus, which practice Buddhism followed.

By contrast, Sikhism, born more than 1,500 years later in northwest India, accepted the then prevailing practice of not consuming beef (even as Sikhs devour other meat).

In contrast, Jainism, born around the same time as Buddhism, banned the killing of all animals, thus forever restricting itself to a narrow fringe of followers such as traders.

The Chola Empire at its zenith. (see link)

But do note, when consuming meat and beef was common practice, it was Hindu emperors who ruled over this huge subcontinent. Similarly, at the cusp of the first and second millennia CE, the Chola Empire, with meat-eating kings and soldiers, achieved unmatched glory in creating a maritime empire as far as Indonesia.

A later legatee of this empire, a Hindu based in Southeast Asia, would create the world's largest temple in faraway Angkor Wat of Kampuchea (Cambodia).

Towards the end of the first millennium CE, some changes took place in India. Buddhism waned and Hinduism, with a system of caste based on birth, reasserted itself. The revival was led by Adi Sankaracharya. Somewhere around this time, some castes chose to distinguish themselves from the Hindu masses by resorting to vegetarianism.

Brahmins, who had overcome the challenge of Buddhism, increasingly became vegetarian, along with the Banias (who were strongly influenced by the Jains). Why this happened is not yet very clear.

Simultaneously, there was born the ridiculous myth of vegetarian diet being 'superior' to the non-vegetarian diet, if only to help the Brahmin assert his own superiority over the other castes.

Now the coincidence: As vegetarianism spread among the influential sections of the Hindus, they suffered repeated defeats. Through the second millennium CE, Hindus would never rule over the larger part of India (till 1947), and would be subjugated to empires that were created by Turks, Afghans, Mughals, Portuguese, and lastly the British.
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All of them meat eaters, all of them beef eaters. The only Hindus who came close to ruling India were the Marathas (who love their mutton!).

A professor of comparative religions, Arvind Sharma, has argued that Hindus turning away from beef actually happened after Hindus lost political power to the Muslims. Not killing the cow became a mark of identity and faith.

The theory is that Hindus stopped eating beef as a cultural assertion and reaction to the presence of Muslims in their midst, similar to Brahmins turning completely vegetarian to stand out among fellow Hindus.

There is merit in this argument: One tends to assert one's identity when feeling threatened. Just see how Indians abroad behave!

The rise and fall of empires is much more than just diet. When a Rajput defeated a fellow Rajput, they both shared similar diets, as did the different Muslims kings who fought each other (Turks, Afghans, Mughals), and later when the Portuguese and British faced each other.

Many, many factors go into the rise and fall of empires (it is an entire subject by itself). The better known reasons include politics, population, economic power, and military prowess.

There are also other reasons such as the role of religion (usually negative), social factors, and technological advancement (which, in itself, is a reflection of society).

But what is undeniable about the history of India is that those who ruled India for most of the first and second millennia, regardless of religion, ate meat. And beef. Let us ponder that thought as we go about banning various forms of beef.

Yet, eating or not eating beef is not really the issue. It is merely a reflection of the tolerance that the ruling class shows for the people and their faiths. What is undeniable in India is the inverse link between a strong State and secularism (howsoever defined).

In India, whenever religion has asserted itself, the State (empire or kingdom) has crumbled (sooner or later).

Alternatively, whenever a ruler kept religion (and religious practices howsoever important for the followers of that faith) at bay, that kingdom became an empire, and the empire in turn prospered.

Thus, Asoka's turn to Buddhism led to his empire ending within years of his demise. Akbar's secularism saw him create a strong Mughal empire, one of the mightiest in the world then (exactly what we aspire for India today), but with a few decades of his death, Aurangzeb's religious policies saw the Mughal empire crumble from within.

Less well known is that the Peshwas's increased religiosity is probably what stopped the Marathas from replacing the Mughals.

For instance, before the Third Battle of Panipat, the Marathas had in tow some 30,000 pilgrims keen to visit the temple towns of north India. Pilgrims accompanying an army! Then, when cholera broke out in the enemy camp and the best strategy would have been to attack (in the December 1760-January 1761 period), religious considerations about an auspicious time meant the Marathas waited till the day of Makar Sankranti.

How can religion decide battle tactics? A far cry from the time when Shivaji decided his battle plans based on intelligence, not religion. The Portuguese failed to build an empire because they were too busy converting people to Christianity, and turning the general public against them.

By contrast, the East India Company kept religion at bay even as its plunder activities turned to empire building.

In that context, the increasing Hinduisation of India, the determination of some politicians to assert the Hindu religion within India, is the recipe for the weakening of India. If that should happen it is just a matter of time before India weakens internally.


Gujaratis are perceived as being overwhelmingly vegetarian. They are not; but the dominant castes, such as the Jains, Banias, Brahmins, and Patidars are vegetarian. When under British rule, as the trading class of Gujaratis (vegetarian) set up trading post across India and the world, they gave the impression of a vegetarian Gujarat.

M K Gandhi, a Modh Bania, and Vallabhbhai Patel, a Patidar, further cemented the notion of Gujaratis as vegetarian. It is true that many Gujaratis are vegetarian. But not all! And no one can deny that Gujaratis are one of India's most successful communities in the commercial world.

While the Gujaratis's commercial success is undeniable, their military history is marked with failure. Gujarat (or what is now Gujarat) is one of India's most conquered states, having come under the Rajputs, Turks, Afghans, Mughals, Marathas, and finally the British. Excluding the British, the others over time became a part of the state.

While Gujarati society makes a virtue of being vegetarian, it has not helped fend off invaders.

There is nothing wrong in being vegetarian. It is every person's personal choice. There is, however, everything wrong in believing, and propagating, howsoever latently, the notion that vegetarian societies or people are superior. Or that a country is better for it.

The history of India, and Gujarat, shows that those not tolerating beef or meat, sooner or later, come under the rule of invaders. Let those who seek to ban beef realise that behind great powers have been meat consumers.


#1568 - May 28, 2016 05:13 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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African slaves, warriors and rulers in India

African rulers of India: That part of our history we choose to forget

The elite status of the African slaves in India ensured that a number of them had access to political authority and secrets which they could make use of to become rulers in their own right, reigning over parts of India.

Adrija Roychowdhury
Updated: May 28, 2016 6:16 am
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When your family has been ruling for hundreds of years, people still call you by the title of Nawab, says Nawab Reza Khan, tenth Nawab of Sachin as he traces his familys regal history. Reza Khan currently works as a lawyer and lives in the city of Sachin in Gujarat. He says his ancestors came from Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia in East Africa) as part of the forces of Babur. Eventually, they conquered the fort at Janjira and later occupied Sachin and ruled over their own kingdoms.

The Nawab of Sachin is a personified remnant of a glorious African past in India. Africans have, for centuries been a part of Indian society. While the slave trade from Africa to America and Europe is well documented, the eastward movement of African slaves to India has been left unexplored.

The systematic transportation of African slaves to India started with the Arabs and Ottomans and later by the Portuguese and the Dutch in the sixteenth -seventeenth centuries. Concrete evidence of African slavery is available from the twelfth-thrirteenth centuries, when a significant portion of the Indian subcontinent was being ruled by Muslims.

There is, however, a major difference between African slavery in America and Europe and that in India. There was far greater social mobility for Africans in India. In India, they rose along the social ladder to become nobles, rulers or merchants in their own capacities. In Europe and America, Africans were brought in as slaves for plantation and industry labour. In India on the other hand, African slaves were brought in to serve as military power, says Dr Suresh Kumar, Professor of African studies in Delhi University.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Nawab Ibrahim Mohammad Yakut Khan II of Sachin (1833-1873) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

These were elite military slaves, who served purely political tasks for their owners. They were expensive slaves, valued for their physical strength. The elite status of the African slaves in India ensured that a number of them had access to political authority and secrets which they could make use of to become rulers in their own right, reigning over parts of India. They came to be known by the name of Siddis or Habshis (Ethiopians or Abyssinians). The term Siddi is derived from North Africa, where it was used as a term of respect.

The Nawab of Sachin and Janjira

The political power acquired by Africans in the Deccan, in particular in Janjira and Sachin, is best demonstrated in a painting by Abul Hasan, that depicts Emperor Jahangir taking aim at the head of the African slave Malik Ambar. The political career of Malik Ambar can be traced back to a time when he was known as Chapu. He was initially bought as a slave in Ethiopia by an Arab merchant. Later, after being resold a number of times, he somehow landed in the court of Ahmadnagar as one among the hundreds of Habshi military slaves there.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Jahangir Shooting Malik Ambar through the head, painting by Abul Hasan; Circa. 1616

By the mid-sixteenth century, the Mughals had increased their appetite for the South and were aggressively trying to encroach upon the Nizam Shahi dynasty that ruled much of Deccan. In 1600 AD, the Ahmadnagar fort finally fell into the hands of the Mughals. However, the presence of the Mughals in the Deccan was still limited and Ahmadnagars surrounding countryside still lay with the troops deployed by the Nizam Shahi state of which Malik Ambar was a part.

It was during this period that the African slave grew to be a political game changer. Commanding a troop of 3000 cavalrymen, he proved to be a major obstacle to the Mughals appetite for the Deccan. The painting by Abul Hasan is testimony to what a nuisance the Ethiopian soldier had become to the Mughals.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Left: Nawab Haider Yakut Mohommad Khan of Sachin (1930-1947) Right: Nawab Ahmad Khan of Janjira ( 1879-1922) {Source: collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins}

Malik Ambar constructed a fort at Janzira, located in the Konkan coast, by the end of the sixteenth century. It still stands intact, currently under protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). At Janjira, the Africans developed their own kingdom (with their own cavalry, coat of arms and currency) which the Mughals and Marathas failed to occupy despite repeated attacks. Later, the African rulers of Janjira went on to occupy another fort at Sachin in modern day Gujarat. The present Nawab of Sachin, Reza Khan says the title of Nawab was given to our ancestors by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, since they had not allowed his competitor Shivaji to occupy the Janjira fort.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Court of Arms stamp in Janjira (Source: collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins)

The Habshi Sultans of Bengal

A large number of royal coins found in Bengal tells the story of a time when the region was ruled by Africans who had been originally brought as slaves. Much of Bengal, in the thirteenth century was being ruled by the Muslim Sultans of Delhi. The Bengal Sultanate was established by Shams al-Din Ilyas Shah in 1352. Historian Stan Gordon has recorded that during this period a large number of Abyssinian (inhabitants of Ethiopia in East Africa) slaves had been recruited in the army of the Bengal Sultans. They did not just work in the army, but also rose to get involved in major administrative tasks such as act as court magistrates, collecting tolls and taxes and involved in services of law enforcement.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Habshi coins from the fifteenth century excavated in Bengal (Source: collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins)

Eventually, the Abyssinians in the army managed to seize power from the Sultans under the leadership of Barbak Shahzada, and conquered the throne of the Bengal Sultanate. Barbak Shahzada laid the foundation stone of the Habshi dynasty in Bengal in 1487, and became its first ruler under the name of Ghiyath-al-Din Firuz Shah.

Ghiyath-al-Din was followed by three other Abyssinian rulers. His successor, Saif al-Din Firuz is considered the best of the Habshi rulers. He is said to have been a brave and just king, benevolent to the poor and needy, and a patron of art and architecture, says Stan Gordon. Firuz is believed to have patronised the building of a number of religious and secular structures. Most well known among these is the Firuz Minar at Gaur which still stands tall, in a good state of preservation. The Firuz Minar is often compared to the Qutub Minar in Delhi, both in appearance and also in its significance of a victory tower.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Firuz Minar located in Gaur (Source: Wikimedia commons)

The Habshi rule of Bengal was very brief and came to an end in 1493 AD, when Sayyid Husain Sharif Makki seized the throne and founded the Husaini dynasty.

Sidi Masood of Adoni

Adoni is situated in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. In the fifteenth century it was part of the Vijayanagar empire. With the decline of the Vijayanagar empire, the city came in the hands of the Bijapur Sultanate. As part of the Bijapur Sultanate, Adoni got one of its most important governors by the name of Siddi Masood Khan. Masood was a wealthy merchant from Abyssinia.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Shahi Jamia Masjid at Adoni was constructed by Sidi Masood Khan. (Source: collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins)

Siddi Masood was the vizier of Bijapur and was virtually the ruler of Adoni. He improved upon the Adoni fort and also built the Shahi Jamia Masjid. Apart from architectural constructions, he is known to have patronised a sizeable number of paintings under his reign. It is possible that he also founded the school of painting at Adoni, which is a variant of the Bijapuri style.

The Abyssinian rulers reign at Adoni came to an end when Aurangzeb captured Bijapur in 1686. Records suggest that a dramatic fight took place on the banks of the mosque built by Siddi Masood, following which he surrendered since the mosque was very dear to him. Aurangzeb appointed Ghazi ud-din Khan as governor of Adoni, replacing Siddi Masood.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Sidi Masood improved upon the Adoni fort. (Source: collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins)

Apart from the above rulers, historians are still trying to recover more about African elites in the past. It is possible that the first ruler of the Sharqui dynasty in Jaunpur in the fourteenth century was an Abyssinian. African rulership was perhaps also a part of Sinds history. However, not enough documentary evidence has been unearthed to make these claims.

Presence of Siddis in Contemporary India

Today, approximately 20,000 to 50,000 Siddis are residing in India and Pakistan, with the majority concentrated in Karnataka, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Makaran and Karachi. In contrast to their part of royal privileges, most of them live in conditions of abject poverty.
Africans, Africans in India, racism in India, African rulers, African history, African slaves, African slaves in India, Janjira, Sachin, Nawab of Janjira, Nawab of Sachin, African elites in India, African elites, Habshis, Siddis, Siddis in India, Habshis in India, Malik Ambar, Habshis of Bengal, Sidi Masood Adoni, Kenneth Robbins, express research Today, approximately 20,000 to 50,000 Siddis are residing in India and Pakistan, with the majority concentrated in Karnataka, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Makaran and Karachi. (Source: Express Archives)

Anthropologist Kiran Kamal has been working on the Siddi presence in India for the past couple of decades. He lived amongst a group of them in Mundgod Taluk (Karnataka) for a year. They live in dense forest areas, literally cut off from everyone. says Kamal. He observed the way Siddis interacted with people in a market place and says that they would always maintain a distance. There is a strong fear of Non-African Indians. Indians also have a very disrespectful attitude towards them, despite using them for all the hard labour.

Poverty, lack of access to education and racism are some of the reasons why the Siddis live in solitude today. They did not even know they originated from Africa, says Kamal. On being asked about how an awareness of their history might help them, Kiran Kamal says that, it does help in spurring a motivation from within. But substantially it does not have much value. What is mainly required is that all the Siddis come up socioeconomically and are well integrated into the larger society.

Dr. Kenneth Robbins, author of African elites in India, is of the opinion that it is necessary to shed light on the ruling status of Africans in India. The purpose is to see India in a different light, to understand social mobility in India. It is important for Indians to take note of the place that Africans had at one point secured in the country.

A major difference in the history of African presence in the rest of the world and that in India is that racial discrimination was not a feature. Nowhere else in the world had they ruled. However, I do not know why, this part of their history has been ignored, says Dr. Suresh Kumar. He goes on to explain that the elite history of Africans in India is particularly significant in todays times considering that instances of racial prejudices keep occurring in various parts of the country.


#1569 - June 02, 2016 04:29 PM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Indus era 8,000 years old, not 5,500; ended because of weaker monsoon

KOLKATA: It may be time to rewrite history textbooks. Scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations. What's more, the researchers have found evidence of a pre-Harappan civilization that existed for at least 1,000 years before this.

The discovery, published in the prestigious 'Nature' journal on May 25, may force a global rethink on the timelines of the so-called 'cradles of civilization'. The scientists believe they also know why the civilization ended about 3,000 years ago climate change.

"We have recovered perhaps the oldest pottery from the civilization. We used a technique called 'optically stimulated luminescence' to date pottery shards of the Early Mature Harappan time to nearly 6,000 years ago and the cultural levels of pre-Harappan Hakra phase as far back as 8,000 years," said Anindya Sarkar, head of the department of geology and geophysics at IIT-Kgp.

The team had actually set out to prove that the civilization proliferated to other Indian sites like Bhirrana and Rakhigarrhi in Haryana, apart from the known locations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Dholavira and Kalibangan in India. They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana and ended up unearthing something much bigger. The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilization flourished, said Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, which helped analyse the finds along with Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

The researchers believe that the Indus Valley Civilization spread over a vast expanse of India stretching to the banks of the now "lost" Saraswati river or the Ghaggar-Hakra river - but this has not been studied enough because what we know so far is based on British excavations. "At the excavation sites, we saw preservation of all cultural levels right from the pre-Indus Valley Civilization phase (9000-8000 BC) through what we have categorised as Early Harappan (8000-7000BC) to the Mature Harappan times," said Sarkar.

While the earlier phases were represented by pastoral and early village farming communities, the mature Harappan settlements were highly urbanised with organised cities, and a much developed material and craft culture. They also had regular trade with Arabia and Mesopotamia. The Late Harappan phase witnessed large-scale de-urbanisation, drop in population, abandonment of established settlements, lack of basic amenities, violence and even the disappearance of the Harappan script, the researchers say.

"We analysed the oxygen isotope composition in the bone and tooth phosphates of these remains to unravel the climate pattern. The oxygen isotope in mammal bones and teeth preserve the signature of ancient meteoric water and in turn the intensity of monsoon rainfall. Our study shows that the pre-Harappan humans started inhabiting this area along the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers in a climate that was favourable for human settlement and agriculture. The monsoon was much stronger between 9000 years and 7000 years from now and probably fed these rivers making them mightier with vast floodplains," explained Deshpande Mukherjee.

Indus Valley evolved even as monsoon declined

They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana and ended up unearthing something much bigger. The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilization flourished, said Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, which helped analyse the finds along with Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

The researchers believe that the Indus Valley Civilization spread over a vast expanse of India stretching to the banks of the now "lost" Saraswati river or the Ghaggar-Hakra river but this has not been studied enough because what we know so far is based on British excavations. "At the excavation sites, we saw preservation of all cultural levels right from the pre-Indus Valley Civilisation phase (9,000-8,000 years ago) through what we have categorised as Early Harappan (8,000-7,000 years ago) to the Mature Harappan times," said Sarkar.

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At 8000 years, Indus Valley civilization is now officially the world''s oldest civilization! That now proves to the world that we Indians are actually the pioneers of civilization in human history!!Tarun

The late Harappan phase witnessed large-scale de-urbanisation, drop in population, abandonment of established settlements, violence and even the disappearance of the Harappan script, the researchers say. The study revealed that monsoon started weakening 7,000 years ago but, surprisingly, the civilization did not disappear.

The Indus Valley people were very resolute and flexible and continued to evolve even in the face of declining monsoon. The people shifted their crop patterns from large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species like rice in the latter part. As the yield diminished, the organised large storage system of the Mature Harappan period gave way to more individual household-based crop processing and storage systems that acted as a catalyst for the de-urbanisation of the civilization rather than an abrupt collapse, they say.


#1572 - January 11, 2017 01:46 AM Re: History of the Indian Subcontinent [Re: webmaster]
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Sanskrit is Tamil and NOT Indo-European

The colonial construction of Aryan Invasion Theory where it also talked of Dravidian folks, identified as the Dashus of Rig Veda, who were conquered by the invading Aryans and pushed to the South and forth, was based on the wrong classification of Sanskrit as Indo-European allied to the Greek, Latin and such other European languages.

What I challenged is this basic assumption, by denying it and claiming that Sanskrit, seen as a variant of SumeruTamil is also Dravidian as much as Tamil and so many other Indian languages. I also claimed the same goes for Pali and hence suggested that possibly all Indian languages are Tamil in essence and hence the construct of Indo-European or Indo-Aryan family of languages quite vacuous,

Here what I want to describe is the story behind it all, on how I came to this conclusion that goes counter to the widespread view of the Indologists both European and Indian that led to the marginalization of the Tamil contributions in shaping the essences of Indian languages and culture with disastrous political repercussions as well.

Now when I started my SumeruTamil studies in the seventies, I became aware of the fact that many Sumerian words are better retained in Sanskrit than in C.Tamil. A good example is Su.merian ji; meaning life, soul etc and which is Sanskrit jiwa rendered ciivan in Tamil. I also noticed that many words actually Pure Tamil are wrongly attributed to Sanskrit even by Tamil scholars.

A good example of such words is karma where it is derived from the Sumerian root garu: to set up, to do etc. This word that is philosophically so important and present in almost all Indian languages is actually ultimately SumeruTamil.

Such observations made think of a common origin for both C.Tamil and Sanskrit where later I also included Pali.

The Early Sanskrit Texts I Studied

Even as a young man in the sixties, still an undergraduate student, over and above my mathematical courses, I also attended philosophy course which the university ( University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand) allowed.

The course was mainly on Western philosophies and in order to compare them I also collected books on Indian philosophies which included the Ten Upanishads translated and transliterated into English by Prof. S. Radhakrishnan himself. Later after returning to Malaysia I also collected many other texts in Sanskrit. Now it was in the eighties that I collected the Vedas specially the whole of Rig Veda, translated and transliterated into English by Swani Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidhyasankar and published by Veda Pratisthana, New Delhi.

Using these and many other texts including of course the quite easily available Bagavath Gita, I began, comparing the lexicon and grammar of Rigkrit and Sanskrit with SumeruTamil and convinced myself that there is a linkage but the nature of which I was not clear.

It was then that I had rudiments of Evolutionary Linguistics forming in my mind and on the basis of which I began to articulate that while C.Tamil is a direct evolute of SumeruTamil, Rigkirit is not so because such a direct recognizability was lacking. However I described the relationship that Rigkrit has SumeruTamil as its base language and where the original meanings of the Rig Veda slokas can be recovered only by recovering the SumeruTamil BASE.

The Publications

I did not rush into publications on this discovery and so far I have not published any major paper on this as I have dome on SumuruTamil. However having convinced myself over several years of thinking, I began publishing these findings only in the Cyber Space, around the year 2000 in the various egroups I created and had access to. This is how it stands to this day where I am in the hope of a future generation of Linguists will take up such studies and discover more and more of the linkages Sanskrit has with SumeruTamil.

I took Rig Veda as my source of Rigkrit and Bagath Gita as my source of Sanskrit language. I did not use many of the dictionaries as I wanted to analyse the whole sentences and not isolated words as available in the dictionaries. Consistent with the basic principles of Evolutionary Linguistics the basic unit of analysis is the sentence and not the words. In this way I also avoided the pitfalls of seeking the protoforms of Constructive Historical Linguistics of the West where they can easily construct protoforms by comparing a collection of similar etymas and claim language family identities. Taking the sentence as the basic unit of analysis, it was not necessary for me to construct protoforms and so forth. Having taken a sentence in Rig Veda or Bagavath Gita, what I did was to construct the Base Form and which is a sentence in SumeruTamil, possibly that by transforming which the sentences in Rig Veda and Bagavath Gita were produced.

Evolutionary Linguistics

I believe that Aurobindo initiated Evolutionary Linguistics where he does not talk of Protoforms but rather embryonic forms because he was quite unhappy with the quite unfounded claims of the Western scholars with their Constructive Historical linguistics where they can easily be mistaken about the root words. The protoforms are not the ROOTS and hence such studies cannot help out in identifying the language from which a certain word could have originated and spread through diffusion to many other languages.

I believe the enormous influence of Sumerian in the formation of ancient European languages and the fact that Rigkirit (Sanskrit) has SumeruTamil as its base language, may account for the lexical correspondences between these languages. They constructed the notion of Indo-European family of languages only because they failed to notice the COMMON origins of most of these words from Sumerian.

Thus the evolutionary view into Historical Linguistics and the common origin of both C.Tamil and Sanskrit explains why there are many similarities and parallels between both languages so much so that both can be said to be from the same family of languages viz, Tamil.

Prayoga Viveekam

It is here that I came across the 17th cent AD Pirayoga Viveekam in Tamil where the author takes up a comparative study of the grammatical features of both Tamil and Sanskrit and concludes that the differences are very little so much that in modern parlance both languages can be classified as belonging to the same family of languages, a concept that was not available at that time.

Loganathan @ Ullaganar

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