Bada (Big) Ganpati

Better known for its size than antiquity, this temple houses perhaps the largest Ganesh idol in the world, measuring 25 ft. from crown to foot. Created as a result of a dream to an Avantika (Ujjain) resident Shri Dadhich, it was built in 1875.

The idol has a most interesting configuration of ingredients: bricks, lime stone, masala made of gud, methi dana, soil collected from seven moksha puris: Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika, and Dwaraka, mud from stables of horse, elephant and cow, the powder of Pancharatna : heera, panna, moti, manek and pukhraj (diamond, emerald, pearl, ruby and topaz) and the holy water from all major places of pilgrimage. The metallic frame is of gold, silver, copper, brass and iron. Twice a year in the 'Bhadwa' and 'Magh' months 'chola' of pure ghee and 'Sindoor' is applied to Ganesh idol. 

Idol is believed to be miraculous.


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The Afghan Connection

Afghanistan is under intense turmoil today. Yet it enjoyed close ties with mainland India for millennia. 

Afghanistan was part and parcel of the socio-religious-political ethos of India. Close cultural ties of Afghanistan and India go back to 4500 B.C. It enjoyed the cultural and trade relations with the Indus-Saraswati culture that flourished in the Indus valley. The deities of the Vedic culture like Apam Napat, Ahirbudhnya, Maruts and the lost recension, the Bashkala samhita of the Rg Veda can be linked to Afghanistan. The Arya-Dasa conflicts in the Rig Veda occured in the Seistan province of southern Afghanistan. The purs destroyed by Indra were the mounds or butts formed in the region due to the erosive action of Bad-i-sad-o-bist, ie. wind of 120 days.

Many tribes of Afghanistan today are traced back to the Vedic period. They participated in the famous Ten kings war of the Rig Veda lore. The name of the nation itself is rooted in the ancient Indian literature. The celebrated text of Brhatsamhita by Varahamihira (6th century A.D.) refers to a group of people named avagana along with Huns and Chinese (brhatsamhita 11.61) which in later period turned into Avagana and then to Afghan. The Afghan identity is closely associated with the Sanskrit origin. The Pakhtoons are the most dominating tribal group in Afghanistan. The oldest text of the world, the Rig Veda refers to the tribal enemies of the king Sudasa who had formed a federation against the king. The tribal federation against the king Sudasa included Pakhtha, Bhalanasa, Alinasa, Visani and Siva tribes. 

Panini, the great grammarian was a Pathan by birth. His contribution to the Sankrta grammar is beyond comparison. Being a resident of the North-western Frontier Province, his unique grammar astadhyayi contains several references to the locations, tribes and geographical landmarks in the region. The roots of abhiras tribes can be traced to Afghanistan. They were defeated by Nakula as mentioned in the Mahabharata. (MHB Sabha 32.9-10). They participated in the Mahabharata War. 

Language similarity between the Kafiri language in Northern Afghanistan and Sanskrit



totta (father) tata
istri (female) stri
angura (finger) anguli
basana (cloth) vasana
asta (is) asti

In the ancient period Afghanistan was closely linked with Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian civilization. Geographically Afghanistan lies at the center of two great civilizations, namely, the Indian and the Iranian. Both have influenced the cultural ethos of the region. Legend has it that the kingdom of Gandhaar was established by Taksha, grandson of Bharat of Ayodhya. Gandhaar's borders extended from Takshashila to Tashkent (corruption of 'Taksha Khand') in the present day Uzbekistan. In the later period, Mahabharat relates Gaandhaari as a princess of Gandhaar and her brother, Shakuni as a prince and later as Gandhaar's ruler.

The north Afghanistan lay on the famous ancient 'Silk Route.' The commercial activity and spread of Buddhism gave impetus to the closer interactions with the Indian civilization. 

The word "Sthan" is actually a Sanskrit derivative that means place or land. There are a string of countries to the west of India with the suffix of "sthan," including Afghanisthan, Baluchisthan, Kurdisthan, Siwisthan, Arvasthan and Turgasthan (Turkey). Until the 10th century A.D. Hindu kings ruled over Afghanistan, and thereafter still in parts of it. As mentioned in Albiruni's India, Hindu kings continued to have their coronation in Kabul, although Kabul had passed out of their hands. India's interest in the West and Central Asian region isn't new either, with historic and cultural ties dating back centuries. At its peak during the 1800s, the sweep of the greater Indian empire extended from Kabul to Burma. Parts of Afghanistan were ruled by Indian kings and later the British, and even after Afghanistan became a separate nation, it continued to regard India as "the mother country," according to Monu Nalapat, professor of geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in south India. The famous “Kabuliwala” story by Rabindranath Tagore is a symbol of India’s emotional and cultural ties with Afghanistan.

The Afghan Connection - By P. V. Pathak and Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence - By Stephen Knapp World Relief Network October 2000 ISBN 0961741066 and Subcontinental Quicksand for the U.S. - Manjeet Kripalani BusinessWeek Online October 23 2001). For more information refer to Hindu Kush and Bamiyan Statues). For more refer to chapter on Islamic Onslaught and Glimpses VII). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Entirely by Memory

Rig Veda is the oldest surviving religious record of the human race. Much before the printing press came into existence, Rig Veda was transmitted from one generation to another by word of mouth. Naturally, question would arise about interpolations and mutilations during this transmission. There is a true story, almost unbelievable, to answer this question of interpolations and mutilations in respect of Rig Veda.  

In his book India: What can it teach us?  Friedrich Maximilian Müeller, (1823-1900) German philologist and Orientalist. He repeatedly drew attention to the uniqueness of the Vedas and awakened interest in Indology among educated people. He writes:

"Entirely by Memory: This may sound startling, but-what will sound still more startling, and yet is a fact that can easily be ascertained by anybody who doubts it-at the present moment, if every MS of the Rig Veda were lost, we should be able to recover the whole of it - from memory of the Srotriyas in India. These native students learn the Veda by heart, and then they learn it from the mouth of their Guru, never from a MS, still less from my printed edition, - and after a time they teach it again to their pupils." I have had such students in my room at Oxford, who not only could repeat these hymns, but who repeated them with the proper accents (for the Vedic Sanskrit has accents like Greek), nay who, when looking through my printed edition of the Rig Veda, could point out a misprint without the slightest hesitation.

 “Of course, this learning by heart is carried on under a strict discipline;  it is, in fact, considered as a sacred duty. A native friend of mine, himself  a very distinguished Vedic scholar, tells me that a boy, who is to be brought up as a student of the Rig-Veda, has to spend about eight years in the house of his teacher. He has to learn ten books: first, the hymns of the Rig-Veda; then a prose treatise on sacrifices, called the Brahmana; then the so-called Forest-book or Aranyaka; then the rules of domestic ceremonies; and lastly, six treatises on pronunciation, grammar, etymology, metreastronomy, and ceremonial

“These ten books, it has been calculated, contain nearly 30,000 lines,  each line reckoned as thirty-two syllables. “A pupil studies every day, during the eight years of his theological apprenticeship, except on the holidays, which are called "non-reading days". There being 360 days in a lunar year, the eight years would give him 2,880 days. Deduct from this 384 holidays, and you get 2,496 working days during the eight years. If you divide the number of lines, 30,000, by the number of working days, you get about twelve lines to be learnt each day, though much time is taken up, for practicing and rehearsing what has been learnt before.       

"Now this is the state of things at present, though I doubt whether it would last much longer and I always  impress on my friends in India, and therefore impress on those who will soon be settled as Civil Servants in India, the duty of trying to learn all that can still be learnt from these living libraries. Much ancient Sanskrit lore will be lost for ever when that of Srotriyas becomes extinct."

(source: Selection from Hindu Scriptures - Prof. G. C. Asnani - India). For more refer to chapter on Hindu Scriptures and Quotes1_20). Watch An Invasion through Conversion -

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Myths of the British Raj

There have been persistent attempts of Western scholars to argue that "India was not a country but a congeries of smaller states, and the Indians were not a nation but a conglomeration of peoples of diverse creeds and sects. Anybody familiar with the relevant situation will know that this attitude still forms the major undercurrent of Western scholarship on India. (refer to article: Hindu Nationalism Clouds the Face of India - H. D. S. Greenway. Even today the same attitude is alive and well, Mr. Greenway says in his article: "Secularists realize that a united India was a product of the British Empire. Before the British, Indians owed their allegiances to family, clan, religion, or princely state. It was the British who established a centralized administration, a common educational system, and countrywide transportation that gave the subcontinent a sense of belonging to one country). 

Regarding countrywide transportation: 

Amitav Ghosh author of several books, The Circle of Reason (1986), won France's top literary award, Prix Medici Estranger, and The Glass Palace also makes fun of the claim that the British gave India the railways. 

"Thailand has railways and the British never colonized the country," he says. "In 1885, when the British invaded Burma, the Burmese king was already building railways and telegraphs. These are things Indians could have done themselves."

(source: Travelling through time - interview with Amitav Ghosh). Please refer to chapter on History of Hinduism

Note:  The Konkan Railway, the first major railway project in India since Independence, has been a major success despite the difficult terrain and the logistics nightmares. As for the story about the Konkan Railway, it is an inspiration. In the face of obstacles, including extremely difficult terrain (many tunnels, bridges, etc) as well as the task of raising large amounts of money through a public bond issue, the railway was constructed on schedule and within budget. It used to be said that Indians could never match the feats of the British engineers who built much of India's network; isn't it amazing that E. Sreedharan, the man who ran this Herculean effort, is a virtual unknown?

(source: Historicide: Censoring the past... and the present. Refer to Indian engineering skills go poetic and heroic in the Western Ghats


" Every village had its schoolmaster, supported out of the public funds; in Bengal alone, before the coming of the British, there were some 80,000 native schools - one to every four hundred population. Instruction was given to him in the "Five Shastras" or sciences: grammar, arts and crafts, medicine, logic and philosophy. Finally the child was sent out into the world with the wise admonition that education came only one-fourth from the teacher, one-fourth from private study, one-fourth from one's fellows, and one-fourth from life."

(source: Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage - By Will Durant MJF Books.1935 p.556-557).

Christian missionaries and the British are also proud that they brought education to India, "but," counters Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Bangalore based Art of Living, an International Foundation. He recently addressed the UN Peace Summit on Aug 28. He is the only non-westerner to serve on the advisory board of Yale University's School of Divinity and is author of the book - Hinduism and Christianity:

"it is not true: there were for instance 125,000 medical institutions in Madras before the British came. Indians never lacked education, the Christians only brought British education to India, which in fact caused more damage to India by westernizing many of us."

Sir John Woodroffe, (1865-1936) the well known scholar, Advocate-General of Bengal and sometime Legal Member of the Government of India. Referring to the Macaulay's Educational Minute of 1834 (for education refer to chapter on  Hindu Culture and First Indologists) he wrote: 

"To an Indian, self-conscious of the greatness of his country's civilization, it must be gall and wormwood to hear others speaking of the "education" and "civilization" of India. India who has taught some of the deepest truths which our race has known is to be 'educated.' She whose ancient civilization ranks with the greatest the world has known is to be civilized." 

Is India Civilized - Essays on Indian Culture - By Sir John Woodroffe Ganesh & Co. Publishers 1922 p.290).

European travelers and administrators bear testimony to the great veneration in which Hindus held learning and instruction. One of the earliest observation was made on the subject of indigenous education was by Fra Paolino Da Bartolomeo. Born in Austria, he spent 14 years in India (1776-1789). He wrote: "No people, perhaps, on earth have adhered as much to their ancient usage and customs as the Indians." and "temperance and education contribute, in an uncommon degree, to the bodily confirmation, and to the increase of these people." 

Brigadier-General Alexander Walker who served in India between 1780-1810, says, that "no people probably appreciate more justly the importance of instruction that the Hindus." 

The fact of wide-spread education - a school in every village - was uniformly noticed by most early observers. Even writing as late as 1820, Abbe J. A. Dubois says that "there are very few villages in which one or many public schools are not to be found...that the students learn in them all that is necessary to their ranks and wants...namely, reading, writing and accounts." 

(source: On Hinduism Reviews and Reflections - By Ram Swarup p. 179-180 - refer to chapter on Hindu Culture and Education in Ancient India and European Imperialism).

In October 1931 Mahatma Gandhi made a statement at Chatham House, London, that created a furore in the English press. He said, "Today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and left the root exposed and the beautiful tree perished". Mahatma Gandhi said, "The beautiful tree of education was cut down by you British. Therefore today India is far more illiterate than it was 100 years ago." We now learn, with almost a sense of disbelief, that a large part of the country did have a sustainable education system, as late as even the early years of the 19th century, and that this was systematically demolished over the next 50 years or so. The present education system is, in effect, a legacy of the colonial rule. This system has perpetuated the notion that traditional societies were seeped in ignorance, superstition and rituals for thousands of years and lived a life of abject poverty, which was caused by an extreme form of social discrimination and exploitative socio-political systems. So deep has this notion seeped into our collective consciousness that, it colours the belief of both, providers of education as well as of recipients and aspiring recipients in our society.

(source: (For more please refer to noted Gandhian, Dharampal's book. The Beautiful Tree, (Biblia Impex, Delhi, 1983).


Sense of belonging: Hinduism has imparted to the whole of India a strong and stable cultural unity that has through the ages stood the shocks of political revolutions.

James Ramsey MacDonald (1866-1937) first Labor Party prime minister of Great Britain has said: "India and Hinduism are organically related as body and soul."

(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel p.208).

Political Unity of India since Ancient Times

The name Bharatvarsha has a deep historical significance, symbolizing, a fundamental unity. The term was associated not only with the geographical boundaries but also with the idea of universal monarchy. The term was associated not only with the geographical boundaries but also with the idea of universal monarchy. This name together with the sense of unity imparted by it "was ever present before the mind of the theologians, political philosophers and poets who spoke of the thousand Yojanas (Leagues) of land that stretches from the Himalayas to the sea as the proper domain of a single universal emperor". 

This is what is stated in an inscription of King Yasodharman of Mandasor, Successors of the Guptas in the North:

"From the lands where the Brahmaputra flows,
from the flanks of the southern hills, thick with grove of palms,
from the snowy mountains whose peak the Ganga clasps,
and from the ocean of the West,
come vassals, bowing at his feet,
their pride brought low by his mighty arm,
and his palace court is a glitter,
with the bright jewels of their turban."

The rulers of medieval India also considered India as one geographical unit and sought to extend their sway over the whole of the land. The song Vandematram embodies that sense of unity.

There is also an under-current of religious unity among the various religious sects in the country. That is partly due to the overwhelming impact of Hinduism on the Indian mind which transcends any other single religion. This is mainly due to the comprehensive and all-embracing pervasiveness of Hinduism. Hinduism is not a mere form of religious approach or system. It is a "mosaic of almost all types and stages of religious aspiration and endeavor." 

(source: Ancient India - By V. D. Mahajan p. 15).

The unifying effect of Hinduism and Sanskritic culture was great. Records dating from the early centuries indicate that shrines regarded sacred by all Hindus were located at widely separated points in all directions. Clearly, some concept of religious and cultural unity already existed. Long pilgrimages to such shrines created for many a connection with peoples in areas under different sovereignties. Then, too, the great body of Sanskritic literature provided a significant bond. 

(source: India: A World in Transition - By Beatrice Pitney Lamb p. 32).

According to Jawaharlal Nehru: "Right from the beginning, culturally India has been one, because she had the same background, the same traditions, the same religions, the same heroes and heroines, the same old tales, the same learned language (Sanskrit), the village panchayats, the same ideology, and polity. To the average Indian the whole of India was a kind of punya-bhumi - a holy land - while the rest of the world was largely  peopled by mlechchhas and barbarians. Sankaracharya chose the four corners of India for his maths, or the headquarters of his order of sanyasins, shows how he regarded India as a cultural unit. And the great success which met his campaign all over the country in a very short time also shows how intellectual and cultural currents traveled rapidly from one end of the country to another." 

Glimpses of World History - By Jawaharlal Nehru p. 129). 

Dr. Radhakrishnan: "In spite of the divisions, there is an inner cohesion among the Hindu society from the Himalayas to the Cape Comorin." 

(source: The Hindu View of Life - By Sir. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan p. 73-77). 

Girilal Jain, late editor of Times of India: " It is about time we recognize that we are not a nation in the European sense of the term, that is, we are not a fragment of a civilization claiming to be a nation on the basis of accidents of history which is what every major European nation is. We are a people primarily by virtue of the continuity and coherence of our civilization which has survived all shocks. And though inevitably weakened as a result of foreign invasions, conquests and rule for almost a whole millennium, it is once again ready to resume its march." 

(source: Hindu Phenomenon - By Girilal Jain South Asia Books 1998 ISBN 8174760105  p. 21).

Guy Sorman visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France, says that the idea of a nation-state was an 18th century creation of the West. It is the cultural identity that has helped India stay together. The British did not do it for the love of India. It was here that the West started to colonize what was to become the Third World, a shameless process of systematic exploitation without any moral or religious justification.

(source: The Genius of India - By Guy Sorman  (Le Genie de l'Inde) Macmillan India Ltd. 2001. ISBN 0333 93600 0 p. 197)

N. S. Rajaram: "It was claimed by the British, and faithfully repeated by the Leftist intellectuals, that the British unified India. This is completely false. The unity of India, rooted in her ancient culture, is of untold antiquity. It may have been divided at various times into smaller kingdoms, but the goal was always to be united under a ‘Chakravartin’ or a ‘Samrat’. This unity was cultural though not always political. This cultural unity was seriously damaged during the Medieval period, when India was engaged in a struggle for survival — like what is happening in Kashmir today. Going back thousands of years, India had been united under a single ruler many times. The earliest recorded emperor of India was Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, but there were several others. I give below some examples from the Aitareya Brahmana.

"With this great anointing of Indra, Dirghatamas Mamateya anointed Bharata Daushanti. Therefore, Bharata Daushanti went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.

"With this great anointing of Indra, Tura Kavasheya anointed Janamejaya Parikshita. Therefore Janamejaya Parikshita went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice."

There are similar statements about Sudasa Paijavana anointed by Vasistha, Anga anointed by Udamaya Atreya, Durmukha Pancala anointed by Brihadukta and Atyarati Janampati anointed by Vasistha Satyahavya. Atyarati, though not born a king, became an emperor and went on conquer even the Uttara Kuru or the modern Sinkiang and Turkestan that lie north of Kashmir. There are others also mentioned in the Shathapatha Brahmana and also the Mahabharata. This shows that the unity of India is ancient. Also, the British did not rule over a unified India. They had treaties with the rulers of hereditary kingdoms like Mysore, Kashmir, Hyderabad and others that were more or less independent. The person who united all these was Sardar Patel, not the British. But this unification was possible only because India is culturally one. Pakistan, with no such identity or cultural unity, is falling apart.

(source: Distortions in Indian History 

Sri Aurobindo has said: "In India at a very early time: the spiritual and cultural unity was made complete and became the very stuff of the life of all this great surge of humanity between the Himalayas and the two seas....Invasion and foreign rule, ....the enormous pressure of the Occident have not been able to drive or crush the ancient soul out of the body her Vedic Rishis made for her." 

(source: India's Rebirth - By Sri Aurobindo Publisher: Mira Aditi ISBN 81-85137-27-7 p 158).

Sri Jayendra Saraswati - The Sankaracharya of Kanchi has said:

The British never created anything in India - they merely destroyed. Instead of uniting, they divided; so the question is meaningless. For five thousand years Hindus have chanted in their morning prayers:

"Gange cha Yamunechaiva! Godavari! Sarasvati!
Narmade! Sindhu! Kaveri!  Jale asmin sannidhim kuru!

"Hail! O ye Ganges, Jamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada,
Sindhi and Kaveri, come and approach these waters."

There has been an explicit and clear geographical area that we have referred to as our land. Adi Sankara not only went to the four corners of this territory, he set up tens of shrines all over the Hindu land to be able to revive and revitalize Hinduism. It is absurd to think that India is a new idea.

(source: Interview with Sri Jayendra Saraswati - by Rajeev Srinivasan - India Abroad March 8'2002). For more refer to chapters on European Imperialism and Glimpses VIII).

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Priceless Indian treasures that are part of the Queen's collection

Priceless Indian treasures that are part of the queen's collection that will not be returned to India can be seen at the largest exhibition of crown treasures to be launched next year. 

Among the riches on display will be the famous Shivaji's sword and some of the possessions of Guru Gobind Singh and  Bird of Paradise from the throne of Tipu Sultan. The British took away this priceless figure in gold and emeralds after the death of the legendary warrior king of Mysore. The palace is reportedly keen not to fuel such demands by showing too much that India might want back.

(source: For refer to chapters on
Glimpses VIII and European Imperialism).

Excellence of Vedic Culture

Huent Sung, a Chinese visitor to ancient India has noted in his travel account:

"The Kshatriyas and Brahmans are clean-handed, unostentatious, pure and simple in life and very frugal. They are pure of themselves and not from compulsion. With respect to the ordinary people although they are naturally light-minded yet they are upright and honorable. In money-matters they are without craft, and administering justice. They are considerate. They are not deceitful and treacherous in their conduct and are faithful to their oath and promises. In their rule of government there is remarkable rectitude. while in their behavior there is much gentleness."

(source: Ancient India - By Dr. R. C.  Majumdar p. 454).

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Saffron - A sacred symbol vulgarized?

Many of should decry the cynical misuse of the idea and spiritual associations of saffron by the Indian media. Saffron is a vibrant visual symbol for those who are nurtured in the Vedic tradition, and it evokes powerful associations of self-renunciation, purity, sacrificial dedication and moral dynamism.

It is in this sense, and not in any narrow communal sense, that saffron finds its rightful place on our national tricolour, as Jawaharlal Nehru noted while moving the resolution for its adoption as our flag in the Constituent Assembly. We have remained passive witnesses to the continued communal vulgarization of this sacred symbol. Alarmingly, the situation is already so confusing that many people today associate saffron with nothing more than communalism! I would urge the media to give no quarter to the abuse of religious symbols like this. As Confucius said, calling things by their right names is the bottom-line of public service. Using the word ‘saffronisation’ as a synonym for ‘communalisation’ is a frontal insult to the spiritual sentiments of a large section of the people of this country and deserves to be denounced.

(source: Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha

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The Roman Empire - A Gangster State?

According to Peter Beckman, author of ' A History of Pi: " While Alexandria had become the world capital of thinkers, Rome was becoming the capital of thugs. Rome was not the first state of organized gangsterdom nor was it the last; but it was the only one that managed to bamboozle posterity into an almost universal admiration. Few rational men admire the Huns, the Nazis or the Soviets; but for centuries, schoolboys have been expected to read Julius Caesar's militaristic drivel. They have been led to believe that the Romans had attained an advanced level in the sciences, the arts, law, architecture, engineering and everything else. 

It is my opinion that the alleged Roman achievements are largely a myth; and I feel it is time for this myth to be debunked a little. What the Romans excelled in was bullying, bludgeoning, butchering and blood bath. They enslaved peoples whose cultural level was far above their own. They not only ruthlessly vandalized their countries, but they also looted them, stealing their art treasures, abducting their scientists and copying their technical know-how, which the Romans' barren society was rarely able to improve on.

Then there is Roman engineering: The Roman roads, acqueducts, the Coliseums. Warfare, alas, has always been beneficial to engineering. In a healthy society, engineering design gets smarter and smarter; in gangster states, it gets bigger and bigger. 

The architecture of the Coliseums and other places of Roman entertainment are difficult to judge without recalling what purpose they served. It was here that gladiators fought to the death; that prisoners of war, convicts and Christians were devoured by a many as 5,000 wild beasts at a time; and that victims were crucified or burned alive for the entertainment of Roman civilization. When the Roman screamed for ever more blood, artificial lakes were dug and naval battles as many as 19,000 gladiators were staged until the water turned red with blood. The only Roman emperors who did not throw Christians to the lions were the Christian emperors. They (Christians) threw the pagans to the lions with the same gusto and for the same crime - having a different religion. 

Romans were not primitive savages, but were sophisticated killers. The Roman contribution to sciences was mostly limited to butchering antiquity's greatest mathematicians, burning the Library of Alexandria. and it demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of sciences. Pliny tells us that in India there is a species of men without mouths who subsist by smelling flowers. 

Yet most historians extol the achievements of Rome. "it accustomed the Western races to the idea of a world-state, and by pax romana....."

(source:  A History of Pi - by Peter Beckan St. Martin's Press; ; 19th edition (August 1976) 0312381859  p. 55-59). For more refer to chapter on India and Greece).

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Martand Surya Temple of Kashmir

Perhaps the best-known early structure in Kashmir is the ruin of the Surya temple at Martand. Built within a large rectangular courtyard (220 by 140 feet), edged by a massive stone wall, the Sun Temple is situated on a high plateau with a magnificent view of distant snow-covered mountains. This majestic shrine was erected by the great Kashmiri king Lalitaditya Maktapida, who is recorded in the Kashmiri chronicle Rajatarangini as conquering most of Northern India. The riches gathered from this campaign embellished not only the Surya Temple but others in Kashmir, and later made them in turn objects of plunder. 

(source: Indian Art - By Roy C. Craven p. 177)

The most memorable and beautiful work of Lalitaditya is the construction of spacious Martand temple which the emperor got built in honour of the Sungod (Bhaskar). It may be mentioned here that Lalitaditya was himself a Kshatriya of Surya dynasty. The style of the construction of the temple and the skill of the makers are rare in the history of the world. According to Stein, it is not possible to find and excavate cities, towns and the ruins belonging to the era of Lalitaditya. But from whatever material and ruins, found and excavated so far, one learns about the fame of their matter Lalitaditya. The remnants of the big Martand temple, which the emperor had built at the pilgrimage of the same name, is an example of unique building skill of ancient Hindus. These ruins, even in total disarray, receive praises for their design, beauty and art.

(source: Translation of Rajtarangani - By Stein Page 60). For more refer to chapter on Glimpses VIII).

According to Younghusband Martand has a very high place in the world's great architecutral designs. 

It is an example of not only the Kashmiri architectural skill but it has pride of having been set up at a fine spot which is prettier than the spots where Parthinan, Taj Mahal, St. Peters have been built. It can be considered either a representative of all such great buildings and monuments or a combination and sum total af all the qualities. It gives an insight into the greatness of the people of Kashmir. The ruins of the huge temple stand in a square field with snow capped mountains of the smiling valley as the background. In terms of beauty and strength and in grandeur it is next to Egypt and Greece. This temple has been built with strong and square limestones. The temple has received grandeur and beauty through the pillars of Greek pattern. It is now in ruins and there are many such ruins scattered in Kashmir. The very existence of this temple encourages man to carry out study of the skill and art of Kashmiris. Anyone bereft of the love of nature could not select such a special spot for the construction of the temple. A restless and destructive mind would have not been able to built such a spacious and praiseworthy temple.

(source: Kashmir - By Younghusband Page 201).

(source: For more refer to chapter on Glimpses VIII).

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Is Yoga the Work of the devil?

Fundamentalist Christians in Georgia stopped the Toccoa-Stephens County Recreation Department from offering a Yoga class. Philip Lawrence, who headed the fight against the class, solicited help from a number of local church organizations. He claimed Yoga could lead to devil worship. Christian conservatives and other rigid and dogmatic religious sects have some serious issues with Yoga. The Yoga Sutras offer a philosophy which includes the Yamas and Niyamas - suggestions for living. These suggestions encourage honesty, purity, devotion, chastity, non-violence and non-stealing. Many people who practice Yoga eventually find themselves embracing many of these ideals. Of course, according to Fundamentalist Christianity, good works will not get you into Heaven - only accepting Jesus Christ as Lord will do that. Hindu belief that a spark of the divine exists within every living being. Hindus also believe in an immortal soul. Fundamentalist Christians disagree completely with these ideas - according to their beliefs, seeing God in yourself creates a void which can be filled with very dangerous forces. In addition, there are many conservative interpretations of the Bible which assert that the soul is not immortal and can be destroyed.

As many as 20 million Americans practice yoga in pursuit of physical or mental fitness, with a little om along the way. According to BBC News, "Madonna is a big fan. So is Sting. They are just two stars who are devoted practitioners to the discipline of yoga. An increasing number of people have taken up the ancient eastern health and fitness practice."

(source: Is yoga good for you? - BBC News). Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is doing it on TV flashing her newly flat stomach, Madonna and Sting swear by it and ever more vigorous variations are crossing the Atlantic with enticing images of toned and fit ‘yogis’, Uma Thurman and Christy Turlington, but no one is sure just how American British yoga should be allowed to get.

(source: Times of India). 

A few years ago the Pope issued a proclamation telling Catholics, particularly monks and priests, to avoid yogic practices and mixing Catholicism with Eastern traditions like the Hindu and Buddhist. 

(source: Hinduism: The Eternal Tradition (Sanatana Dharma) - By David Frawley Voice of India. ISBN 81-85990-29-8 p. 233-234).

Kristin Davis gives youth yoga high marks. "Yoga has been around 5,000 years. It doesn't matter if actresses are doing it. People are responding to yoga on a deeper level. It's not a fad."

Actor-turned-Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha was today all praise for Yoga and said his practicing of the physical exercise for nearly two decades has kept him fit.

(source: For more on yoga, please refer to chapter on Yoga and Hindu Philosophy).

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Dhyana (meditation) = Jhana = Ch'an = Zen

According to Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, late curator of the Boston Museum: " Japanese Buddhism on the ritualistic side elaborated the cult of Amida and the Western Paradise, and on the mystical side the practice of the Ch'an Buddhists of China, which had been established, ca. 527-536, by the Indian monk Boddhidharma, and derived in the last analysis from the Indian Yoga. 

Dhyana (meditation) = Jhana = Ch'an = Zen. The external influence of Indian thought created a theology and forms of art resembling those of India; the more fundamentally stimulating influence of a method, acting inwardly, enabled the Japanese genius to realize itself in an attitude of aesthetic appreciation of natural beauty and an art which bear no evident resemblance to anything Indian. 

(source: History of Indian and Indonesian Art - By Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Dover Pubns; ; Reprint edition (August 1985) ASIN 0486250059 p. 155).

The Japanese word Zen(na) (Chinese Ch'an(na); Sanskrit Dhyana) refers to the unity of mind which can be obtained through spiritual practice. 

(For more refer to chapter on India and China and Glimpses X). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Oldest and largest group of Jews in India

Bene Israel, the oldest and largest group of Jews remaining in India. The Bene Israel claim to be descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Jews trace their roots back two millennia - were always able to live freely as Jews in India. There are 4,500 in India today. Some 3,500 of them, including Ezekiel and Joseph, live in and around Bombay. There are also a few hundred Baghdadi Jews in Bombay and Calcutta, 70 in Cochin (once a flourishing Jewish center), and several hundred in Thane, a 400-year-old Jewish community about 40 km. from Bombay.

That history has been untarnished by antisemitism. " The Hindus have traditionally been very tolerant of other religions," says Ezekiel, who works at the Israeli consulate in Bombay and is very active in the Jewish community. Joseph, a businesswoman, nods in agreement, but adds that she did experience anti-semitism when she was growing up - at the hands of Catholics. Like many members of the Jewish community of Bombay, she attended a convent school because of its high standards and English-language instruction.

"The Jews in the school were constantly taunted," she recalls. "The nuns would say: 'You killed Christ.'"

Indeed, in a recent report, UNESCO pointed out that out of 128 countries where Jews lived before Israel was created, only one, India, did not persecute them and allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in peace. 

(source: To the Very Last Jew - The Jerusalem Post and (source: Redefining India  - By Francois Gautier - December 11 '02). For more refer to chapter on Glimpses VI and Glimpses VII).

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Hindu Palace of Cairo, Egypt

"Walking in the suburbs of the famous city, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Hindu Palace in the elite suburb of Heliopolis. From the outside, this mansion looks just like one of the fabulous Hindu temples of Orissa with the Garuda and other Hindu icons sculpted on its facade. The Palais Hindu was completed in 1911. Since it is one of the protected monuments of the Egyptian Archaeological Department, there was no problem in walking into the grounds of the building and examining it at close quarters. This palace with beautiful sculptures of Hindu deities was vacant. It was known as the Hindu Palace for nearly 90 years.

An article was published in the Egyptian Gazette two decades ago, describing the history of the palace. The Belgian-born industrialist, Baron-General Edouard-Louis-Joseph Empain (1852-1929), belonging to one of the eminent aristocratic families of France, had extensive business interests in Indonesia. An eminent Egyptologist, after his retirement from his commercial career, he decided to settle down in Cairo. Ever since the interest shown by Napoleon 200 years ago, France has always been in the forefront when it comes to study of Egyptology. During the turn of the century, Empain became the adviser to the Egyptian Government on metropolis planning. He developed the suburbs of Cairo into magnificent plazas/gardens/and residential areas. For his own home, he chose Heliopolis — the best portion of the super-rich planned suburb. He decided to build a huge mansion, which was to be a copy of the Indonesian Hindu temples he had seen during his sojourn in that country. He obtained the best Indonesian artists and sculptors for its construction. In a matter of few years, the Hindu Palace became one of the magnificent buildings of Cairo." In the early 70s, Muslim fundamentalists, especially in Saudi Arabia, were enraged that, at the citadel of Muslim Cairo, there is a Hindu palace with the icons of Hinduism represented!

(source: The palace that is an enigma
- K. R. N. Swamy -

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Servants for the Afterlife

In Ancient Egyptian burial it was important that the deceased had a workforce to carry out their every day tasks in the underworld so they would not have to dirty their hands. Originally in high ranking Old Kingdom burials servants were buried with their masters. It is not known if these were sacrifices, or people honored with a resting place beside their King when they died. The Egyptians had as many as 2000 gods and goddesses. Some, such as Amun, were worshipped throughout the whole country, while others had only a local following. Often gods and goddesses were represented as part human and part animal. For example, Horus, the sky god, had the head of a hawk, and body of a human.

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Annam Brahma - Food is God

The Upanishads state "Annam Brahma" - "Food is God," and therefore it must be given the highest veneration. Even today, in many Indian homes, be they meager or affluent, a symbolic offering of food is given to Brahma before every meal. 

(For more refer to chapter on Glimpses VIII).

Russia's Fascination with Valmiki Ramayana Continues

Russia is perhaps the only European country where the Valmiki Ramayana, the story of Lord Rama written by the Hindu sage Valmiki, has sold tens of thousands of copies in Russian. More than a thousand people offered prayers and tributes to the Hindu God Ram in the first ever Ramnavami celebrations, at which Russian artists and writers who took Ram's story to the people were felicitated. The Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Center (JNCC) at Moscow organized a function to honor those who are associated with translating and staging the Ramayana as a play in Russia. 

While eminent Indologist Alexander Baranikov first translated the Ramayana into Russian in 1948, Natalia Guseva, another prominent scholar on India, had written the script for a play based on the Indian epic that was staged in Moscow Children's Theatre in the Soviet Union for the first time in 1957. The Ramayana, popularly perceived as a tale of triumph of good over evil, is used extensively for inculcating noble values in Russian children, and has been staged in scores of cities many times over during the past five decades.

(source: For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Prosperity of Ancient India

For well over a millennium and a half, the Indian subcontinent may have been the richest area in the world. As early as the first century A.D., a statesman in ancient Rome wrote in worried vein about the squandering of Roman wealth on Indian luxuries. In south India, large hoards of ancient Roman coins have been unearthed. The legend of the wealth of the "Indies" continued to grip Western minds. A few intrepid world travelers, Marco Polo among them, confirmed it with eyewitness accounts. The power of this legend caused Columbus in 1492 to take his dangerous journey westward across the Atlantic, seeking to re-establish direct contact with India. As late as the eighteenth century, British observers were repeatedly struck by the material prosperity of the land they were beginning to conquer.

(source: India: A World in Transition - By Beatrice Pitney Lamb p. 19). For more refer to chapter on Hindu Culture1.htm and Hindu Culture2 and European Imperialism).

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The Gobind Deva Temple

The Gobind Deva temple in Vrindavan, Mathura, is indeed massive; its plinth is 105 to 117 feet. Its height today is about 55 feet. It is estimated that the original height was twice this, without which the mashaal (torch) could not have been possible to be seen either from Agra or from Delhi. The temple was built in 1590 by Maharaja Mansingh of Jaipur. Bharatvarsha. For the satisfaction of its desecraters, the celia, or the sanctum sanctorum, was destroyed. Fortunately, the idol of Sri Krishna or Gobind had been removed to Jaipur by the pujaris in anticipation of Aurangzeb's proposed visit in 1670; the emperor was already notorious as an iconoclast.

The roof of the truncated edifice was to be reserved for names. No sooner than the mehraab was constructed, as illustrated in the photograph copied from History of Indian and Eastern Architecture by James Fergusson, (John Murray; London), Aurangzeb inaugurated it by himself offering prayers.  

Prof R Nath, author of History of Mughal Architecture (Delhi, Abhinav 1985), introduces the subject of the Gobind Deva temple by quoting Aurangzeb's decree of April, 1669. It said, "...eager to establish Islam, (Aurangzeb) issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels (Hindus) and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these disbelievers." The great temple of Gobind Deva fell a victim to iconoclastic vandalism within a year of the decree. Its inner sanctum and its superstructure were almost entirely destroyed. The main hall was also damaged. Sculpted figures on the dvarasakha were literally defaced." Almost two centuries later, the original idol remained at Jaipur, another set of deities was installed by the pujaris.

While Aurangzeb's ego might have been gratified, the desecration took with it what is described by Fergusson as one of the most elegant temples in India, and the only one, perhaps, from which an European architect might borrow a few hints. What F S Grouse (a Bengal civil service official) had to say about this? "I should myself have thought that solemn or imposing was a more appropriate term than elegance for so massive a building and that the suggestions that might be derived from its study were many rather than few." A number of motives have been attributed to the invaders who desecrated temples, such as loot of treasure, subduing the populace by arousing dread, informing the area that a sultan had replaced the raja. There is, however, no other instance of a temple being desecrated because it defied the ego of a Mughal emperor.

(source: Daily Pioneer Oped)  Watch History of Ayodhya -

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Diamonds and Dam

Did you know that India was the world's only source of diamonds until 1896, according to the Gemological Institute of America. For more refer to chapter on Hindu Culture1 and Hindu Culture2).

Earliest Dam

The earliest dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra. According to Saka King Rudradaman I, a beautiful lake called Sudarshana was constructed on the hills of Raivataka in Chandragupta Maurya's time.

Christian missionaries and History of India

The Christian missionaries were interested in the history of India, although for a different purpose. They had no sympathy for Hinduism which, in their view, was "at best work of human folly and at worst the outcome of a diabolic inspiration." According to Charles Grant, "the people of India lived in a degenerate condition because Hinduism was the source of dishonesty, purgery, selfishness, social divisions, sexual vices etc." The Christians saw no future for the people of India unless they were converted to Christianity.

Like the Christian missionaries, the Utilitarian of England also had no sympathy for the purpose of India. James Mill was a Utilitarian. He wrote "History of British India" which was published in 1817. He divided Indian history into three periods - Hindu, Muslim and British. He was critical of Indian culture which he called barbarous and anti-rational. The 'History of British India' was prescribed as a textbook at the Haileybury College and other institutions where English officers were given military training before they were sent to India. The views of James Mill must have affected the minds of those officers against India. 

(For more refer to the chapter on European Imperialism and First Indologists).

Lord Wellesley, Governor General from 1798-1805, whose policy was frankly annexationist, called Indians, "vulgar, ignorant, rude, familiar, and stupid."

(source: Ancient India - By V. D. Mahajan p. 1 and India: A World in Transition - By Beatrice Pitney Lamb p. 61)

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Heroism of Prithiviraj Chauhan 

Prithviraj Chauhan III was the last of the great Chauhan rulers of Ajmer who left a deep imprint in the sands of time and redefined the concept of valour in its noblest form. The legendary Prithviraj lived here and became a force to reckon with. His exploits are related with great wonder and sometimes disbelief. Few rulers of that time could match the charisma and heroism of this dynamic ruler.

Prithviraj was the son of Someshwara who died in 1179 A.D. The second Turkish attack was led by Mu'izzu'd-Din Muhammad (also known as Muhammad Ghuri), who conquered Sindh and Lahore in 1182. Soon after, he commenced his attack on the Rajput kingdoms. Prithviraj Chauhan successfully led the Rajputs against Ghuri at the first battle of Tarain in 1191 AD. However, at the second battle in 1192 AD, Prithviraj who became the last Hindu ruler was defeated and the kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghuri. 

Prithviraj Chauhan, king of Delhi, magnanimously let Ghuri off. Legend has it - and it is widely believed in India - that when Ghori eventually succeeded in defeating Prithviraj Chauhan at the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192, he blinded him and took him in chains to Afghanistan along with his friend, the poet Chandravardai.

Adhai – din- ka- Jhonpra - Its construction took two and a half days (Adhai-Din) to complete. It was originally a Sanskrit college, built within a temple. In 1193 A.D., Mohammad Ghauri conquered Ajmer and converted the building into a mosque by adding a seven arched wall in front of the pillared hall in just two-and-a-half days (adhai-din) and hence the name.

To this day, Prithviraj Chauhan is remembered by the Rajputs as a model of chivalry and courage, and is the hero of many folk ballads.

(For more refer to chapter on Islamic Onslaught). Watch History of Ayodhya -

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Decolonizing Indian Studies ?

An address at North Gujarat University, delivered by Makarand Paranjpe of the English department at JNU. Astonishingly, here is an actual real-life JNU person writing about the need for 'Decolonizing Indian Studies: Attaining Swaraj'. 

He mentions, approvingly, that Bhartrihari's Vakyapadiya, Panini's Asthadhyayi, and Bharata's Natyashastra have been introduced into the curriculum at JNU. Amazing that such a thing could ever happen at that last bastion of neo-imperialist Marxist obscurantism, that white elephant devoted to Fabian Socialist-Stalinist ideas that have been thrown in the trash everywhere else. Says Paranjpe: "The point is that the day you begin to take your own tradition seriously, you begin to get a strength, a grounding, a sense of belonging, a purpose, and an identity... you experience liberation, decolonization... [And] if you are serious about critiquing Indian traditions you first have to read them, you first have to engage with them. This, a lot of us are unable or unwilling to do. We are used to condemnation and repudiation, often mouthing the very words of those who tried systematically to destroy this civilization." 

(source: Refer to chapters on First Indologists, European Imperialism, Glimpses VIII, Glimpses IX and Glimpses X). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Khakis are from India 

While serving in the heat of India, Sir Henry Lumsden dyed his pajama bottoms khaki (Hindi for 'dust') so he can wear comfortable pants and still look presentable. Khaki is a closely twilled cloth of linen or cotton, dyed a dust color. The color caught on with troops worldwide.  

Today khakis have made it from World War II to civilian life. 

A New Vocabulary

The British during their time in India incorporated into speech many Indian terms that, because of their familiarity and usefulness, made their way to England and beyond. A sampling of 900 words or so adopted from India include:

bandanna, bangle, bungalow, calico, cheroot, chintz, chit, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry, cushy, dinghy, dungaree, gunny, jodhpurs, khaki, loot, musk, pajamas, pariah, punch, pundit, sandal, seersucker, shawl, shampoo, swastika, thug, tomtom, and veranda. 

(source: What Life Was Like in the Jewel of the Crown: British India AD 1600-1905 - By The Editors of Time-Life Books. p. 119). For more refer to chapter on European Imperialism).

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The Puranas 

Partition, which the British wilfully and consciously left behind as a parting gift (remember the words of Churchill when he learnt of the chaos following Partition: 'At last, we've had the last word').

It is used to be the general opinion of Western scholars that the Puranas belonged to the latest productions of Sanskrit literature and came into existence during the last thousand years. However, this view is not accepted today. The Poet Bana knew the Purana very well and he tells us that he attended a reading of the Vayu Purana in his native village. Kumarila Bhatt relies on the Puranas as a source of law. Shankara and Ramanuja referred to the Puranas as ancient and sacred text. Arab Albernuei was familiar with the Puranas and he gives us a list of the 18 Puranas. There is a lot of common between the Puranas and Latiavistara. The Puranas are 18 in number but all of them are not equally important for historical purposes. As a source of history, we depend largely on the Vishnu Puranas, Vayu Puranas, Matsya Puranas, Brahma Puranas and Bhavishya Puranas. The Puranas start with the rulers who trace their origin from the Sun and the Moon. They describe the various kings who ruled in the Madhyadesh. They give the names of the Puru kings of Hastinapur and the Ikshvaku King of Kosala. The give us details about Sisunaga Kings and Nanda Kings. 

Dr. V. A. Smith has shown that the Vishnu Puranas is reliable as regards to the Mauryan dynasty and the Matsya Purana is reliable as regards to the Andhra and Saisunaga dynasties. the Vayu Purana describes the rule of the Guptas as it was under Chandragupta I. At the end of the list of kings certain Puranas give a series of dynasties of low and barbarian origin such as Abhiras, Gardabhas, Sakas, Yavanas, Tusaras, Hunas etc...

The Puranas can be used for the purpose of building up the history of ancient Indian geography. In them, we come across the names of very many cities which existed in their times. The distances between cities is mentioned as well as names of rivers and mountains. 

There is a tendency among modern scholars to belittle the value of the information found in the Puranas. It has been suggested that the genealogies of the Puranas were invented by some fertile brains. However, there is nothing to support such a view. The Pauranikas profess to tell the truth and they had nothing to gain from kings and their descendents who were already dead and gone. Most western scholars seem to suffer from the old prejudice against the Puranas dating from the time of Lord Macaulay. It is high time that the scholars give up their prejudices and give the Puranas a due place as a source of ancient Indian History.

(source: Ancient India - By V. D. Mahajan p. 19-21). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Education in Ancient India

Education in India has always been regarded as one of the basic inputs in human resource development. In the ancient days, the Gurukul system of education was prevalent. The teacher was the Guru and the disciple was the Sishya. The disciples lived in the Guru's aashram during the course of their training and in turn offered their services to the ashram. This period of learning of, about 12 years, was considered as a great sacrifice or a penance. The Guru identified the capability of his Sishya and accordingly imparted knowledge. The sishyas learnt amidst the natural surroundings of the ashram, in open air, in close contact with nature. The Kings sent their Princes to Gurus for training on the art of using weaponry, vedas, music, art and physical forms of exercising & defence. At the end of their training, the disciples thanked their Gurus with a gift in the form of a gurudakshina - which literally means "offerings to the Guru".

One of the most popular cultural institutions in India which still follows the Gurukul system is Shanthiniketan near Calcutta which was established by the great teacher, artist, philosopher and literary laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Kalakshetra in Madras, established by the great dancer Rukmini Arundale too follows the Gurukul system. To-date, a teacher in India is regarded as a Guru, a master in his discipline.

One of the most ancient universities of India is in Nalanda near Patna. Founded in the 5th Century AD, this great seat of learning flourished until the 12th century AD. Gautam Buddha and Parsvanath Mahavir are believed to have visited Nalanda. The Chinese chronicler Huen Tsang spent many years here both as a student and as a teacher. Nagarjuna, the Buddhist Mahayana philosopher, Dinnaga, the logician and Dharmapala, the Brahmin scholar taught here. At one point of time about 2000 teachers and 10,000 students crowded the portals of Nalanda University. Besides religious texts, students in the ancient universities learnt about Ayurveda (Medicine), Ganitha (Mathematics), Arthashastra (Political science), Jyothisha (Astrology), Vyakarna (Grammar), Shilpathana Vidya (Art and Crafts), and Adyatma Vidya (Philosophy).

(source: - For more on education, please refer to chapter on Education in Ancient India).

Christians are also proud that they brought education to India, "but," counters Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Bangalore based Art of Living, an International Foundation. He recently addressed the UN Peace Summit on Aug 28. He is the only non-westerner to serve on the advisory board of Yale University's School of Divinity and is author of the book - Hinduism and Christianity:

"it is not true: there were for instance 125,000 medical institutions in Madras before the British came. Indians never lacked education, the Christians only brought British education to India, which in fact caused more damage to India by westernizing many of us." 

Sri Aurobindo has commented on the state of education: "In India...we have been cut off by a mercenary and soulless education from all our ancient roots of culture and traditions..."

(source: India's Rebirth - By Sri Aurobindo Publisher: Mira Aditi ISBN 81-85137-27-7 p 65). (For more refer to chapter on
European Imperialism).

In the Round- table conference in 1931, Mahatma Gandhi in one of his speeches said, "The beautiful tree of education was cut down by you British. Therefore today India is far more illiterate than it was 100 years ago."

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Gupta period - The Classical Age in India

According to (Marxists) historian Romila Thapar, the Gupta Age as the Classical Age of ancient India is true so far as the upper classes are concerned, amongst whom standards reached a peak never before attained. Dr. D. N. Jha has also concluded: " For upper classes, all periods in history have been golden: for the masses, none. The true golden age of the people does not lie in the past, but in the future. 

In the light of what has been stated by V. A. Smith, Dr. R. C. Majumdar, Dr. M.A. Mehendale, and Prof. R.N. Dandekar in the support of the view that the Gupta period was the Golden Age of Indian history, the criticism of Romila Thapar and Dr. D.N. Jha does not seem to be convincing. (Both Thapar and Jha are known for their Marxist interpretation of Indian history).  Moreover, Dr. Sriram Goel points out that main emphasis of the critics is on the point that prosperity and culture of the Guptas did not reach certain classes and certain areas.

According to Dr. Goyal, those critics have shown, the mentality of a drain inspector who concentrates merely on certain shortcomings in a system. They have tried to misinterpret and distort certain facts. Dr. Goyal points out that the benefits of progress does not reach all the regions in any country or society. Such a thing did not happen even in Athens in the Periclean Age. It did not happen in the Age of Elizabeth. 

(source: Ancient India - By V. D. Mahajan S. Chand and Company Ltd. New Delhi 1990 p. 575-577). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Prayer in US Schools Doesn't Mean Christian Prayer

A frequent proposal from the Christian Right in America is for a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools. Proponents will cite results from the Gallup poll, such as at "source," which show 78% of Americans support such an amendment. What they don't usually cite is the response to this question Gallup also posed: "Suppose spoken prayers were allowed in the local public schools. Do you believe that the prayers should be basically Christian, reflecting Christian beliefs and values, or should the prayers reflect all major religions, including Christianity?" 76% say the prayers should "reflect all major religions" and only 18% say basically Christianity. So if the amendment ever does pass -- a very unlikely scenario -- Hindu and Buddhist prayers would be just as eligible for the classroom as anything from Christianity.


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Vijayanagar - the splendor

Of all the kingdoms of the south, Vijayanagar was the finest with the longest history.  It was founded in 1336 and was visited by Italian Nicolo Conti who came in 1420; Abdur-Razzaq of Herat, in 1443; and Paes, a Portuguese, who visited the city in 1522. Abdur-Razzaq from central Asia wrote of a temple made of pure molten brass: "It was 15 feet high, and 30 feet high by 30 at its base." He goes into ecstasies over the city" "The city is such that eye has not seen nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon the whole earth."

Paes, who came in 1522, describes it: "The city of Vijayanagar, is as large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight." He describes at length the wonders of the city, and the charms of its innumerable lakes and waterways and fruit gardens. It is the best-provided city in the world...for the sate of the city is not like that of other cities, which often fail of supplies and provisions, for in this everything abounds." He also describes the great ruler of Vijayanagar at the time of his visit. He was one of the great rulers of South Indian history, and his reputation as a great warrior, and as one who was chivalrous to his enemies, as a patron of literature, and a popular and generous king, still survives in the south. His name was Krishna Deva Raya, and he ruled from 1509-1529. "Great irrigation works were erected about 1400 to bring good water to the city. A whole river was dammed up and a big reservoir was made. From this the water went to the city in an aqueduct, 15 miles in length, often out of the solid rock. 

Other descriptions of Vijayanagar: " The opulent palaces, the magnificent temples and the massive fortifications appear very natural among the rock formations, as if they have just grown out of these theatrical, barren, craggy surroundings. A foreigner said of the stones: ``they are piled one block on another in a manner most singular, that it seems as if they stood in the air, not connected with each other''.

" One of the finest is the Hazara Rama temple, an exquisite structure for private worship of the Vijayanagar kings. Standing within a walled enclosure, it exudes an air of elegant serenity either when the moonlight softly washes over the friezes, or when it glows in the sunlight. The herds and bands of elephants, horses, dancing girls and musicians, and scenes from the Ramayana come alive on the outer walls of the temple. The eye lingers on the fine features of a musician, or the graceful limbs of a dancing girl or the noble prancing of a caparisoned steed. Inside, the four black polished pillars invite you to run your fingers over their smoothness. Their geometrical square blocks alternate with cylindrical shafts, all luxuriantly carved in tangible loveliness."

"The large stone chariot in the Vithala temple is a marvelous testimony to the skill of the stone carvers - its wheels can rotate on the axle. The carved pillars in the Hall of Musical Pillars resound like musical instruments. The Hampi ruins include the monolithic statues of Ugra Narasimha (Vishnu's incarnation of the man-lion creature), badly mutilated by the invading Moghul armies and Ganesa. The 22 ft. high statue of Narasimha had Lakshmi seated on his thigh - unfortunately it was hacked to pieces. The Virupaksha temple has beautiful gopurams, and on the way there is the King's Balance on which he was weighed against gold and diamonds which were then distributed to the people."

In a series of wars Rama Raja completely defeated the Bijapur ruler to inflict humiliating defeats on Golconda and Ahmadnagar. It seems Rama Raja had no larger purpose than to maintain a balance of power favourable to Vijayanagara. The five broken Bahamani kingdoms, did a combined crusade on Vijayanagara at Bannihatti in 1565 and in the battle of Rakshasa-Tangadi, Rama Raja was surrounded, taken prisoner and immediately executed and this brought an end to the Best Empire of the South.
It was thoroughly looted and left in ruins.

Glimpses of World History - By Jawaharlal Nehru p. 257-259 and The stones of Hampi - By Maya Jayapal). For more information on architecture refer to chapter Hindu Art).

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Is India Civilized?

Is India Civilized: Essays on Indian Culture a book under this rather startling title was published some decades ago, by Sir John Woodroffe, the well known scholar and writer on Tantric philosophy. That well known dramatic critic, Mr. William Archer, leaving his safe natural sphere for fields in which his chief claim to speak was a sublime and confident ignorance, assailed the whole life and culture of India and even lumped together all her greatest achievements, philosophy, religion, poetry, painting, sculpture, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana, in one wholesale condemnation as a repulsive mass of unspeakable barbarism. 

It is argued by many at the time that to reply to a critic of this kind was to break a butterfly, or it might be in this instance a bumble-bee, upon the wheel. What he has done is to collect together in his mind all the unfavorable comments he has read about India, eke them out with casual impressions of his own and advance this unwholesome and unsubstantial compound as his original production, although his one genuine and native contribution is the cherry cocksureness of his second-hand-opinions. The book is a journalistic fake, not an honest critical production.

Both materially and spiritually Europe has thrown herself repeatedly upon Asia, to conquer, assimilate and dominate. India, is the quintessence of the Asiatic way of being. 

(source: The Foundations of Indian Culture - By Aurobindo p. 1-45).

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For Europeans Only

In his Discovery of India (written in 1943), Jawaharlal Nehru recorded how humiliating he had found it always to see posted in railway carriages, in station waiting rooms, on park benches, and in other places the exasperating sign "For Europeans Only." He added:

"The idea of a master race is inherent in imperialism. There was no subterfuge about it; it was proclaimed in unambiguous language by those in authority. More powerful than words was the practice that accompanied them, and generation after generation, and year after year, India as a nation and Indians as individuals were subjected to insult, humiliation, and contemptuous treatment....The memory of it hurts, and what hurts still more is the fact that we submitted for so long to this degradation."

Nehru has remarked: "In India every European, be he German, or Pole or Rumanian, is automatically a member of the ruling race. Railway carriages, station retiring rooms, benches in parks, etc. are marked 'For Europeans Only.' This is bad enough in South Africa or elsewhere, but to have to put up with it in one's own country is a humiliating and exasperating reminder of one's enslaved condition."

(source: The Discovery of India - By Jawaharlal Nehru  p.295). (For more refer to chapter on European Imperialism).

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Great Zimbabwe (Africa) and Eurocentrism

If it was great, it must have been white: If advanced science, art, or architecture is found in Africa or South America, then Phoenecians, Greeks, Celts, Vikings must be invoked to explain their presence.

Alluding to the way in which the spectacular stone ruins of Great Zimbabawe (zimbabwe means "stone enclosure") were viewed as Phoenician creation, M. Posnansky (1982) refers to "the notion that what was advanced in Africa's past was the work of outside invaders, merchants or metal-workers, variously derived from Phoenicia, Israel, India and Indonesia." He adds that 

"this was an idea that was extremely attractive to the White community that at no time amounted to even 10 per cent of the total population of Rhodesia. It served to justify their depreciation of the Black capabilities and past achievements and their occupation of more than half of the best agricultural land. The preservation of White civilization ultimately retarded the discovery of Black civilization and hampered the progress of archaeology."

About the 11th century AD the first stone building began, and this rapidly developed into a distinctive and impressive architectural style. Stone building reached its first peak in the city of Great Zimbabwe, which was built between the 11th and 15th centuries. Several attempts by people to argue for an early external origin for Great Zimbabwe.  Archaeologists and historians believe that from the 13th to 15th centuries Great Zimbabwe was the capital for a large area in southern Africa. Throughout this region there are smaller but similar madzimbabwe. The site Great Zimbabwe covers over 1779 acres and comprises mainly stone wall enclosures and areas of hut remains. Because of the wealth of Zimbabwe and the importance of Sofala as a trading city, the Zimbabweans from 1000 AD onwards were exposed to Indian, Chinese, and Persian crafts and culture.

(source: Colonial Indology: Sociopolitics of the Ancient Indian Past - By Dilip K. Chakrabarti p. 25-26). (For more refer to chapter on European Imperialism). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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France's love affair with Shiva continues

Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, continues to fascinate the French literary world that has already seen the publication of numerous books on him. Two more books on differing aspects of Shiva have joined the list. "Le religion de Shiva" (The religion of Shiva) has been written by renowned Sanskrit scholar, N. Ramachandra Bhatt. Bhatt, who has exceptional understanding of the Sanskrit texts, has explored in depth ancient texts and through it studied history in a scientific line," says the preface of the book.

The second book, written by Catherine Clement, a renowned French writer and wife of a former French diplomat who had served in India, deals with Varanasi, a city closely related to Shiva. "Le religion de Shiva," translated into French by French Sanskrit scholar Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat and published by Editions Agamat, tries to explain Hinduism through the famed temple art of South India in the medieval ages. Bernard Bouanchaud, owner of Editions Agamat, an Indophile, says he fell in love with India during his first visit to the country over 30 years ago and since then he has been in regular contact with India and its philosophy, spirituality and religion.


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Languages - survival of the fittest?

Sanskrit — never a mass language — is being used by fewer and fewer people. For centuries, it has turned into an ossified artefact used only by Hindu priests on duty or finance ministers showcasing their aesthetic prowess. By trying to impose Sanskrit on school and college syllabi, the government has made noises about resuscitating a dead language. While the immediate parallel to Sanskrit is Latin — used on occasions to show erudition — one must not forget the Israeli experiment of resurrecting Hebrew. While the task of making a new nation speak a forgotten tongue had more to do with the construction of a national identity rather than linguistic preservation, Hebrew today is alive and kicking.

Taj Mahal: A stable?

R P Anand, professor of international law at JNU, writes: 

"In the 19th century, the Britishers had turned the Taj into a stable. It also wanted to take it apart to sell the marble..."

(source: Why is the world helpless?


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Diamonds of India

Hope Diamond 

The "Great Blue Diamond", the Hope is also called the "cursed diamond" because it is said to have brought nothing to its possessors but tragedy. Nothing is further from the truth. A jewel trader, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, purchased it in India and sold it in 1669 to Louis XIV, who had it cut into the heart shape, which reduced its weight from 112 to 68.8 carats. Later, the stone was stolen, and it came into the possession of the British banker Philip Pierre Hope in 1830. Via Sultan Abdul-Hamid, the Paris jeweler Pierre Cartier, and the newspaper magnate William McLean, the Hope diamond landed in the United States. In 1958, a diamond dealer Harry Winston donated it to the Smithsonian Institute where it is now on display. The stone was sent to the Institute by ordinary mail.

The Daryinoor

The Crown Jewels of Iran are considered to be the finest in the world-exceeding even those of the United Kingdom and Austria-Hungary. Along with the Noor-al-Ain, Precious Light, the Darya-I-Noor once formed the world's largest pink diamond, the Great Table. A centerpiece of the Crown Jewels of India, the Darya-I-Noor was brought to Iran by the great conqueror Nadir Shah where it became the most spectacular gem in the considerably imposing collection. Considered the sister of the Kohinoor, Mountain of Light, the Darya-I-Noor was reunited with its real sibling in 1959 when the Shah purchased the Precious Light diamond for a wedding tiara. Because of its legendary origins, its rank as one of the world's largest diamonds.. 

The Orlov

The Orlov diamond, originally called the Sun of the Sea, once decorated a Hindu temple statue. A French deserter stole it and sold it in Madras to a British sea captain, who in turn, sold it to a Jew who passed it on to a Persian. This man met Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, a rejected lover of Catherine II the Great, who bought the Sun of the Sea for 400,000 rubles, a fabulous sum at the time. Although the Empress accepted the gift, her love was not reawakened. The Count died in an institution for the mentally ill. It may be a comfort to him that the diamond now bears his name. It is now in the Kremlin, mounted on the imperial scepter. 

The Shah of Persia 

Nadir Shah of Delhi, India, owned this 99.52-carat, yellow, cushion shaped diamond in1739. It was believed that the diamond was presented to General V.D. Starosselky, a Russian military expert for his excellent command of the Persian army. The general brought the diamond to America. The diamond is mounted in a pendent brooch with 72 smaller diamonds. For a long time, this pendent was owned by Carl D. Lindstrom, a Los Angeles gems dealer. Harry Winston, a New York City gem dealer bought it in 1957.

The Pigott 

Supposedly, this diamond weighed form 47 to 85.80 carat, it is a fine quality Indian diamond. Named after Baron George Pigott who acquired it in 1775 from an Indian Prince, this diamond changed hands several times, ending finally in the hands of Ali Pashas, ruler of Albania in 1818 for $150,000. 

He carried it around in a small bag and seldom showed it to anyone. The Sultan of Turkey, over lord of Albania, became envious of Ali's popularity and sent his army to capture Ali. During the fighting, the 80-year-old Ali was fatally wounded, he ordered his captain to his side, gave him the diamond and asked him to smash it right there and then. 

The Great Mogul

 When found the Great Mogul Diamond weighed 787.50 carat in the rough. After it was cut into a rose cut diamond it weighed only 280 carats. The owner of the stone, Emperor Shah Jahan, who is also the builder of the Taj Mahal fired and fined the cutter $10,000 (the cutter's entire fortune) for doing such a poor job. The whereabouts of this diamond is unknown.

 (source: Diamonds of India
- Hindustan Times).

The Star of Africa

The biggest chunk, the Star of Africa, is 530 carats, has 74 facets, and is considered the largest cut diamond in the world. It is also part of the British crown jewels.

The Cartier Necklace

There is also the Cartier necklace, which was recently on display in New York. Commissioned by the Maharaja of Patiala in 1928, it was laid with 2,930 diamonds and weighed almost a thousand carats.

The Sancy Diamond

Sancy Diamond, a 55-carat pale yellow stone that fluoresces yellow and pink. It was found in India, passed through French and English kings, was bought by a Bombay merchant in the 19th century but lost to America's Lady Astor (who set it on her wedding tiara) before it was retrieved by the French. Current resting place: The Louvre.    

The Regent Diamond

The Regent, which weighed more than 410 carats when discovered by a slave near Golconda in the 18th century.  

The bauble was once owned by William Pitt, the English prime minister, who sold it to the Duke of Orleans, the regent of France (hence, The Regent). Louis XV wore it at his coronation and it adorned the hat of Marie Antoinette.  

After the French Revolution, it was owned by Napoleon Bonaparte who set it in the hilt of his sword. It is now on display in the Louvre.   

India has lost the great Kohinoor Diamond, marble bath of Shah Jahan and the Amravati marbles. 

(source: Lost baubles from India -

(For more refer to chapters on European Imperialism and Glimpses VIII).

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Persecution Forcing Hindus to Flee Pakistan

Religious persecution and violation of human rights are forcing Hindus in Pakistan to flee to India, a Pakistani migrants association said today. Each month groups of persecuted Hindus are coming to India in the hope of a better future, but they face a tough time due to the lack of a refugee policy in the country, the Visthapit Sangh said. There are 17,000 Hindu refugees who have yet to get Indian citizenship. Five thousand of them live in Jodhpur alone. Many of those who arrived in India as refugees in 1965 have also not received citizenship, convenor of the Sangh, Hindu Singh Sodha, told reporters. Others are scattered in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore and Pali districts. He said the Centre should amend the Citizenship Act and fix a time limit for granting citizenships. He also said the government should review the rehabilitation policy prepared in 1978 for those living in camps after leaving Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.


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Did You Know?

Kaliyug - The Age of Kali

According to Vedic scriptures, we are now living in the kaliyuga, the age of Kali. We are given to using the term kaliyuga quite freely and frequently, not quite knowing its import or significance. In the cosmic timetable, kaliyuga is the last of the four yugas (ages) - satyayuga, tretayuga, dwaparyuga and kaliyuga - called chaturyuga. The duration of kaliyuga is said to be 432,000 years; of dvaparayuga 864,000 years; of tretayuga 1,296,000 and of satyayuga 17,280,000 years. Kaliyuga is so called because it is dominated by Kali, the embodiment of evil.

The abysmal low that human values would descend to in kaliyuga is vividly described in the twelfth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The purana forecasts that in kaliyuga people will succumb to the rule of barbarians who will be steeped in adharma and untruth, and the yuga will be calamitous for the whole of mankind. All good human qualities and values will decay; might will be right; wealth will signify goodness; business will tantamount to cheating and fraud; people will live to eat and not eat to live; they will observe false dharma; rulers will be unrelenting thieves; humans will behave like animals; leaders will perpetuate rule by their children; adultery will be rampant; adharmic persons will preach dharma; people will fight over trivialities; old and infirm parents will be abandoned as will old and dry cows; atheism will be widespread and people will mock those who utter the name of God. 

In the Kalisantarana Upanishad it is stated, "To save oneself from the contamination of Kali there is no alternative but the chanting of the names of the Lord".It is said that spiritually inclined people in other yugas who seek liberation, pray to be born in kaliyuga to take advantage of this bright silver lining. Even though it is simple and easy, not many are able to follow this method because of the damning influence of Kali. The story goes that when Kali was once confronted by a sage and told that his days were numbered because people would be able to escape his scheming ways simply by remembering the Lord, shrewd Kali replied, "That is if I let them!".

(source: Kaliyuga has a Silver Lining - Parmarthi Raina). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Updated - October 28, 2008