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Did you know? Lord Ram was born on Jan 10 October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in History.
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Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 23, 2009

Lord Rama’s birthday should be celebrated a few months before Ramanavami, if an article in Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh mouthpiece Organiser is to be believed.

In the article, the writer, retired bureaucrat Pushkar Bhatnagar, says Rama was born on January 10, 5114 B.C.

Using a software called Planetarium, Bhatnagar fed planetary positions mentioned in Valmiki’s Ramayana to arrive at the date. “This software is used to predict eclipses as well as distances of other planets from earth,” he says in the article.

The argument, however, runs at variance with the conventions of history writing. Historians affix dates to ancient history by associating archaeological discoveries with texts.

For instance, a kind of pottery called painted grey-ware is associated with Vedic texts. Its origins can be traced with carbon dating. This period is placed between 1100 B.C. and 500 B.C.

In Ancient India, historian Romila Thapar places the Mahabharat war in 900 B.C., and the Ramayana later. The logic: the Aryans moved eastward with time, and Ayodhya is east of sites associated with the Mahabharat such as Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district.

But scholars such as HP Ray of the Jawaharlal Nehru University say the domains of archaeology and text can’t be compared.



Symbols akin to Indus valley culture discovered in Kerala October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in hinduism, History, Kerala.
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PTI 29 September 2009, 10:26am IST

KOZHIKODE (KERALA): A rock engraving indicating clear remnants of Harappan culture, has been found in the Edakkal caves in neighbouring Wayanad 
district, linking the Indus Valley civilisation with South India.

“There had been indications of remnants akin to the Indus Valley civilisation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but these new findings give credence to the fact that the Harappan civilisation had its presence in the region too and could trace the history of Kerala even beyond the Iron Age,” said historian M R Raghava Varier.

The unique symbols integral to the Indus Valley culture traced in Harappa and Mohanjedaro region that stretched up to Pakistan were found inside the caves during recent excavations by the State Archaeological Department.

Of the identified 429 signs, “a man with jar cup, a symbol unique to the Indus civilisation and other compound letters testified to remnants of the Harappan culture, spanning from 2300 BC to 1700 BC, in South India,” said Varier, who led the excavation at the caves.

The “man-with-the-jar” symbol, an integral remnant commonly traced in parts where the Indus Valley civilisation existed, has even more similarities than those traced in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he added.


Indus Valley symbols found in Kerala October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in History, India, Kerala.
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Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times
Thiruvananthapuram, September 29, 2009

A rock engraving similar to the unique sign of the Indus Valley civilization — a man with a jar — has been found in Kerala for the first time.

The engraving provides a significant southern link with the 600-year-old Indus Valley civilization that flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian sub-continent between 2300 BC and 1700 BC. Harappa and Mohenjodaro, both now in Pakistan, were the principal towns of the developed urban civilization discovered in the 1920s.

The Dravidian or an equally vibrant civilization existed in southern India during this period, historians said.

The engraving seems to have been made with a stone axe in a linear style to portray a two-dimensional human figure. It was discovered at the Edakkal caves in Wayanad district, 450 km north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram, last week.

Archaeologists and historians are excited with the “unique” discovery.

“What is striking in the Edakkal sign is the presence of an Indus motif, which is rare. The jar is the same as the Indus Valley’s. But the human figure is slightly different. This is where the influence of the Edakkal style really dominates,” said historian M R Raghava Varrier, who identified the sign during the excavation.

“The occurrence of the sign, which is the most characteristic symbol of the Indus script, is very significant,” he said.

Varrier said there had been indications of remnants similar to the Indus Valley civilization in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But this new finding clearly establishes the fact that the Indus Valley civilization had its presence in the south, he said.


Worthy of worship February 22, 2009

Posted by reader111 in hinduism, History, India, religion.
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Devdutt Pattanaik, TNN, 7 Mar 2008


Power in hindu mythology is a goddess — Shakti, commonly visualised as Durga, a goddess who rides into battle on a lion and kills a buffalo-demon with her many weapons held in her many arms. The goddess is power but who is Shaktimaan , the powerful one? That is Shakti’s husband, Shiva, a hermitgod , who has no desire for anything. This must not be translated literally (“ men are powerful because of their wives” ) but symbolically (“ why is power the spouse of the ascetic?”). Is there a message here?


Chanankya once told Dhanannad, king of Magadha, who had insulted him, “I have no desire for wealth or power or pleasure. That makes me a dangerous enemy. You cannot corrupt me and I have nothing to lose.” Dhananand had power but it was Chanakya who was powerful.


Power has to be distinguished from being powerful. Power is a resource that exists in the external world while being powerful is a state of mind. Power is outside, being powerful is inside. Power is a resource while being powerful is an attitude . One can have the resource but not the attitude. That is why many people in positions of power feel weak and constantly threatened. Like Indra, for example.


Indra, the king of the gods, is visualised as sitting in Swarga or paradise, located in the sky. There, in his garden , is the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpataru, and in his shed is the desire-realising cow, Kamadhenu, and in his treasury the dream-manifesting jewel, Chintamani. His elephant, Airavat, has seven trunks and six tusks. His weapon, Vajra, is the great thunderbolt. He seems to have access to a lot of power but he is eternally insecure . A king by performing more sacrifices (yagnas) or a hermit by performing more austerities (tapasya) can accumulate more power and usurp his position. That is why Indra is always depicted as a jealous god, someone who disrupts yagnas of kings and tapasyas of hermits . His position is not permanent. Anyone who is better than him can lay claim to his paradise, his thunderbolt and his elephant. Even his wife, Sachi, a form of Lakshmi, goddess of fortune, is not faithful to him. She is faithful to the throne, to the position, not to the person.



All around us there are many Indras , apparently powerful, holding thunderbolts in their hands and riding elephants, but terrified of losing their position. For they know that their power resides in the position, not in them. So they cling to the throne and destroy anyone who comes close to it. And around Indras there are others who also believe the same thing and struggle all their lives striving to occupy the position.


The Mahabharata tells the story of Ashwatthama, the son of Drona. Though son of a priest, Ashwatthama aspires to be a warrior and a king. He goes to Krishna and asks for alms in his capacity as a priest. In keeping with the laws of hospitality, Krishna is obliged to give the ‘priest’ whatever he desires. “What can I give you?” he asks. “I want your Sudarshanchakra ,” says Ashwatthama, referring to Krishna’s discus, a very powerful weapon. “Take it,” says Krishna. Ashwatthama rushes to pick it up. First he tries to pick it with his left hand. He cannot.


So he tries to pick it up with his right hand. He fails once again. He tries with both his hands and still he cannot not pick up the Chakra. He looks at Krishna and Krishna only smiles. Finally, after many failed attempts, Ashwatthama leaves, feeling frustrated, wondering what has happened. Ashwatthama thought that by possessing the Sudarshan-Chakra he could become as powerful as Krishna. What he does not realise is that Krishna is not powerful because he has the Sudarshan-Chakra . It is because Krishna was powerful that he could wield the great weapon.


Indra clings to the throne because he believes his power comes from the throne. Invariably, someone comes along and takes the throne from him. Indra fights back with cunning or strength and eventually takes back what he lost for his self-esteem resides in victory. Thus the cycle continues — a merry-go-round fuelled by ignorance. Trapped in a cycle of losing and winning, Indra becomes unworthy of worship.


Indra needs to be contrasted with Vishnu. Vishnu never seeks power but he is infinitely powerful. As indicated by the spiral of the conch-shell in his hand and the rotations of his discus, he knows that everything in life is cyclical — so he does not fight to win. He does not need to win because he does not need victory to feel powerful. He is powerful all the time, irrespective of the situation he is in.


As Ram, he is powerful in Ayodhya and in the forest. As Krishna, he is more powerful than kings whether he is cowherd or charioteer . His actions are governed by dharma, which means the ‘other’ matters to him more than the ‘self’ . He works for the betterment of the organisation, the team, the world at large, and not to indulge his own ego.


Whether he is Ram, maintaining things, or Krishna, who is changing things, his strategic intent is always love, which means his attention is to make those around him feel secure and inspired so that they can realise their full potential. Power , manifesting as his many weapons, is but a tool, not an end in itself. That is why Indra chases Lakshmi while Lakshmi chases Vishnu.



Maharaja Hari Singh January 25, 2009

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From the Dogra lineage, Hari Singh, assumed power in 1925 and ruled till 1948.


He introduced many reforms, which included throwing open all public schools, colleges and wells to the untouchables in 1931. The next year, all state temples were also thrown open to them. In 1940, he proclaimed untouchability a cognizable offence. He was also responsible for two more important social reforms. One was the prevention of juvenile smoking and the other was the removal of legal disabilities on the marriage of Hindu widows.


Equally important was the change, which occurred in India’s political atmosphere. On the national scene, two distinct political groups dominated – the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. In the state, anti-monarchy forces were gaining ground under Sheikh Abdullah who arose as a charismatic leader of the Kashmiri Muslims and led a strong anti-Dogra agitation, the “Quit Kashmir” movement in 1931.


Hari Singh was unable to adjust to the fact that monarchy was on the decline and could not grasp the importance of evolving with the changing political scenario.


In 1947, following the partition of the sub-continent, there arose the question of the settling the position of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state had the choice of either going with India or with Pakistan.


Hari Singh proved indecisive at this crucial juncture. He offered a standstill agreement with India and Pakistan.


Pakistan signed it but India did not. Violating the agreement, Pakistan inflicted an economic blockade followed soon by a tribal invasion of the state on October 22, 1947.


Hari Singh requested India to send in troops but Mountbatten, India’s governor-general, put a condition for the help:   Accession first and troops later. On October 26, 1947, Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession brought to him by VP Menon, the Centre’s emissary. Thereafter, Indian troops landed in Srinagar on October 27, 1947, to quell the invasion.


But the tide was clearly against Hari Singh. He had the forces aligned against him in the Centre and the state. He nursed an animosity towards Nehru because Nehru supported his archrival Sheikh Abdullah.


His attempts to bring about changes in the state and efforts to retain power did not yield results. Clearly, Sheikh Abdullah was the chosen leader of the Kashmiri Muslims.


In 1934, Hari Singh had sanctioned the creation of a Legislative Assembly called the Jammu & Kashmir Praja Sabha. In the first elections to the Praja Sabha, the Muslim Conference bagged 14 seats out of 21 reserved for the Muslims. In the next election in 1936, it was able to raise its strength to 19. This established the claim of the Conference to be called the major political party in the state. In June 1939, however, Sheikh Abdullah broke away from the Muslim Conference and established a new party, the National Conference, which soon secured a large following.


Hari Singh acceded to the popular demand for more power to be given to the Praja Sabha. He called upon the Praja Sabha to nominate a panel of six members (three Muslims). From this panel he nominated two members as his Ministers, one of whom was a Muslim. This step was welcomed by all sections of the Assembly and led to the appointment of Mirza Afzal Beg and Ganga Ram as the Ministers. The former belonged to the National Conference while the latter was a Dogra politician.


With increasing feeling among the Kashmiris in the state that they should be granted more rights and Sheikh Abdullah gaining in authority, Hari Singh retired to Bombay. Apparently, it was felt that it would help if he were away from the state for some time. His son, Karan Singh, then only 17, took over as Regent of the state on June 20, 1949.


Under him, elections to the State Constituent Assembly were held. National Conference won all the 75 seats. In its very first session of October 1951, the assembly abolished the Monarchy and with this Dogra rule in this state came to an end.


Maharaja Hari Singh breathed his last at Bombay on April 26, 1961.


Ref: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=ddda86d7-db79-41e9-a138-581279cd9ee1

The Exile: A maharaja’s tragic journey January 25, 2009

Posted by reader111 in History, Uncategorized.
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What do you do when you have to chronicle the tragic life and death of the last Sikh maharaja? You write a fiction novel to capture the emotional churn that a human being, of the stature of a maharaja whose kingdom is systematically annexed by the British, goes through without distorting historical facts.

That’s what author Navtej Sarna, Ambassador-designate to Israel has done in his second work of fiction, aptly titled The Exile. His first book, We Weren’t Lovers Like That was published by the same publisher Penguin in 2003.


Sarna, during his interaction with readers at the book reading session at Crossroad in Mumbai was at his animated best as he read selected passages from The Exile and answered queries from those gathered for the event.


Incidentally, the author spent almost nine years to research his subject — Maharaja Duleep Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest acknowledged sons. It was under Ranjit Singh — also popularly known as the Lion Of Punjab — the kingdom of Punjab spread from the Sutlej to Khyber Pass. His death in 1839 led to a slow and painful downfall of the Sikh kingdom which was sytematically annexed by the British.


The Exile is the heartrending story of Maharaja Duleep Singh who was separated from his mother Queen Jindan after his father’s death in 1839 and converted to Christianity. Later he was disillusioned by the treatment the British meted out to him and became a Sikh again. However, this rebellion came in a tad too late as the British botched every attempt Duleep Singh made to return to his motherland. As fate would have it, Duleep Singh met his tragic end in a cheap hotel room in Paris.


The story is narrated by six voices including that of Duleep Singh. Each one was chosen because the author was looking for a person who’d have an authoritative voice; somebody who’d have easy access to the maharaja throughout the 55 years of his life.


To gather as many facts as accurately as possible the author traced Maharaja Duleep Singh’s footsteps across several continents and countries. His love of labour took Sarna to England, Moscow, Paris, Lahore (capital of the Sikh kingdom) and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.


Actually, being a diplomat helped — he was posted in Moscow, Warsaw, Thimphu, Geneva, Teheran and Washington, DC — as most of his travel to these places was work-related. Sarna, though, had to spend time beyond work for his research.


Ref: http://specials.rediff.com/news/2008/oct/15sl1.htm