All posts tagged: history

Devgiri Fort – A Microcosm Of Indian History

During one of our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji’s public contact program “Pariksha pe charcha” one mother shared her worries with the Prime Minister. The lady said that her son is hooked on to computer and internet games, which is adversely affecting his studies. And the Prime Minister’s response, which has since become viral on social media, was “ये PUBG वाला है क्या?” This is the age of computer, internet and mobile games. Youngsters are hooked on to these games. In some of these arcade games are mazes (in which one gets lost) with trap doors, dark alleys, tunnels and secret passages. The player’s computer-avatar has to successfully cross this maze. There are difficulties and dangers at every step. One mistake and you are out! In computer games your avatar may get two life-lines, but the third time, “The game is over!” There is a lot of excitement about these games amongst youngsters. But in real-life you only get one chance. Only a brave person will take on such challenges. Is there such a …

An Ode to Orchha

Lord Ram’s ruling of Ayodhya as a king is the ultimate example of an ideal ruler. People of India yearn and strive for such a governance. At the same time I cannot stop myself from mentioning that Mata Sita was also an ideal queen who left the palace and the kingdom to save her husband the king from a धर्म संकट and made a sacrifice for the people of Ayodhya. There is one more place in India where the people consider and worship lord Ram as their king. The forts, palaces, temples and chhatris (cenotaphs) in this town were an inspiration for Edwin Lutyens to design New Delhi. Can you guess which place is this? It is the one time capital of the Suryavanshi Bundela Rajput kings – Orchha, in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh situated around 18 kms from Jhansi. Bundela Rajput’s reign in northern India (today’s southern Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh region) began in the 14th century and that is why this region came to be known as Bundelkhand. When Raja …

Playing With Zero and Ancient History

Mathematical and physical arguments are easier to check for basic errors than those in the social sciences and history. You may not divide by zero, because if you did then you could show, for example, that 2 = 3 (because 2/0 = 3/0); likewise, any system that delivers more work than the energy it takes in is a logically impossible perpetual motion machine. Authors in the social sciences sometimes get carried away by ideas that are unfalsifiable or logically inconsistent and since these ideas are repeated in the echo chambers of the academia, it can take a generation or two, or even longer, to realize this. Here I wish to speak of just one matter of ancient history concerning languages of India and Europe that are far apart geographically but belong to the same family. Recently, people have begun to use ancient DNA to see how India was populated by outside migrants and settlers. It is quite fair to assume that people traveled in different directions in the ancient world but to effectively assume that …

History Of Christianity

Death of Classical Age in Rome and Violence perpetuated by Christianity

It is said that “Absolute power corrupts”. Hence the post-Roman era is typically referred to as the Dark ages, since it was the period when Christianity held absolute power, which resulted in widespread destruction and corruption of everything that it touched. However, what was it like when Christianity was struggling to acquire power ? What effect did it have during that time? These are the questions that Catherine Nixey’s book titled The Darkening Age attempts to answer. And it sheds light on some of the facts hitherto brushed under the carpet by the historians who have told the story of the triumph of Christianity based on christian sources, and thus, presented the narrative of a decadent barbarian empire which was saved by Christianity. However, this was not the case. The tale of Christianity acquiring power over Rome is one that brought great amount of sorrow to the classical world. Hence, “The Darkening Age” is an apt metaphor for those times. Early on in the book, Nixey explores the motivation of the Christians to convert the …

How The Ghost Of 1857 Haunted The British In India

The backbone of the British Empire was the army it created in India. It had one of the best cavalry and armed soldiers amongst all its colonies comprising of Indian and British soldiers. The British Army ensured that the subjects and the slaves lived in constant fear and retribution. Hence, the 1857 ‘War of Independence’ and the 1946 naval ratings  uprisings gave a jolt and rattled the empire to the core. “The British Indian Army is the only instrument in the hands of the British Government to maintain internal peace and quell external aggression.” Umer Hayat Khan (1929) On 1857, a shot rang out at the Barrackpore cantonment in what is today Bengal. It was the spark that lit a fire that had been simmering under the surface for quite some time. The East India Company (EIC) had painstakingly built its empire in India, gaining victory in various battles across the country. In the process it had also laid the foundations of the modern Indian army. Indian sepoys had been drafted into British style battalions …

The Skanda Purana by Bibek Debroy

Book: Skanda Purana translated by Bibek Debroy The Skanda Purana is a Tamasika purana and one of my favourite puranas as it contains many stories. Puranas are named thus as they are of purakala (ancient) times and also because they complement (purana) the knowledge of the Vedas. The Skanda Purana is the 13th Purana in the list and is the longest Purana with eighty-one thousand slokas. It is nine times the length of the shortest purana and about four to five times the length of an average purana. It is believed that the Skanda Purana was the first purana to be written, as quite a few of the stories are the same ones that are mentioned in the Mahabharata. This purana is divided into seven parts or khandas, which are as follows: Maheshvara khanda – the part relating to Shiva Vishnu Khanda – the part relating to Vishnu Brahma Khanda – the part relating to Brahma Kashi Khanda – the part relating to the holy city of Kashi or Varanasi Avanti Khanda – the part relating to the kingdom of Avanti Nagara Khanda …

Review: Vada in Theory and Practice by Radhavallabh Tripathi

Book: Vada in Theory and Practice Author: Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi sargāṇāmādirantaśca madhyaṃ caivāhamarjuna, adhyātmavidyā vidyānāṃ vādaḥ pravadatāmaham Of creation I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. I am spiritual knowledge among the many philosophies, arts and sciences; I am the logic of those who debate. [Gita: 10: 32] In the history of Indian philosophy there were two fundamental streams of progression: darsana and vada. The former with its six main schools is widely known, studied and appreciated across the world, the later has been relegated to footnotes of history. The previous cursory mentions of vadashatra (science of debates and discussions) comes from the works of Amartya Sen and A. Raghuramaraju, but it is only now that connoisseurs of Indian philosophy can delight in this beautiful, exhaustive monograph on the art and culture of debating as it has been practiced in this subcontinent from a very ancient time. Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi, author of 162 books, and 227 research papers and critical essays, is the Vice-chancellor of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. He …

Historic Temples In Pakistan: A Call to Conscience by Reema Abbasi

The partition of India in 1947 led to the largest human migration in history. Around fifteen million people crossed the borders on both sides. Communal violence claimed many lives and millions of families lost their family members, livelihood and property for ever. The partition left a wound that is still healing and will probably leave a permanent scar on our collective memories. The primary goal for Jinnah to create Pakistan was to create a homeland for the Muslims of India. He firmly believed that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations and hence cannot coexist. It was surprising that of the estimated 41.2 million Muslims in the dominion of India only 17.4% decided to migrate to the promised land of Pakistan, mostly from the modern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi. A staggering 82.6% decided to stay back. The census of India, 1951 counted 9.8% of the Indian population as Muslims. Today, in a hostile country, according to Jinnah, their number has gone up to 14.2% (census 2011). In absolute terms from 34 million …

varuna purana

The Varaha Purana by Bibek Debroy

The Varaha Purana is a satvik purana, so it concentrates more on Vishnu and glorifies him in his Varaha avatar. The Varaha Purana comes 12th in the list of Mahapuranas. It has twenty-four thousand shlokas so it is medium sized in length. These shlokas are divided into two parts – the purva bhaga and the uttara bhaga. This purana is named so because it was narrated by Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar to the earth (prithvi). Prithvi had many questions and was also curious to know the powers of Vishnu and who he really was. In answer to these questions Vishnu narrated this Purana. This Purana talks about rituals, sacrifices, fasts and major tirthas in detail. It also talks about the 35 ways in which varaha or a boar is connected to sacrifices and the Vedas. Now let us move on to my favourite stories. There were lots of different stories and many of them were new to me and I hadn’t heard of them before. But these two were the ones that I liked the most. As you know, most of the Puranas are narrated in the naimisharanya forest by Lomaharshana. The story …

The Linga Purana by Bibek Debroy

The Linga Purana is considered a Tamasika Purana. I is eleventh in the list of Mahapuranas and is the second shortest Purana as it has only eleven thousand shlokas! The Linga Purana is divided into two parts – the purva bhaga, which has a hundred and eight chapters, and the uttara bhaga which has fifty-five chapters. The language of the Linga Purana is not that simple to interpret as it is made of long sentences which makes the comprehension difficult. It does not purely consist of rituals as many tamasika Puranas do. It includes an assortment of stories that glorify Shiva, and also a few that glorify Vishnu. The rituals in this Purana are barely mentioned, at least in the abridged version of the Purana that I am reviewing. Information on the geography of India, and on the Solar and Lunar dynasties is the same as the Bhagvata Purana with a few minor variations. Favourite Stories This Purana has a different version of stories that I have read in other Puranas. In this Purana, the stories are altered to glorify Shiva, and in some …