Afghanistan Independence Day

Afghan Anglo Treaty

Afghanishtan Independence Day is the day the Anglo – Afghan treaty was signed giving complete independence to Afghanistan from British control. This settlement came forth after the third war between Britian and Afghanistan.

Three Wars

Britain and Afghanistan fought three wars.

First War

In the first war, between 1839 and 1842, the British forces were completely routed by Afghan forces. In this crushing defeat for the British, off the 16000 British soldiers who fought the battle, only one survived.

1

 The Lone British survivor

Second War

In the second war, initially the British were on back foot, but came back strongly at the battle of Kandahar. After this there was amity between both for the next 40 years.

Third War

In the third war, of 1919, the British sensing a defeat under the hands of Afghan forces decided to patch up with the Afghans, and ceasefire was agreed upon by both sides. Further negotiations led to the complete independence of Afghanistan on August 19, 1919.

Indo Afghan Connect

The India Afghanistan connect is ancient.

Afghan, Ashva, Ashvaka

The word Afghan comes from the word Ashvaka. In Samskrt, the word Ashva refers to a horse. Ashvaka means ‘A land of horses’. In ancient times, the people of this region were known for raising fine breed of horses. Hence the Afghan region was called Ashvaka in those days.

2              3

Afghanistan, land of horse                                                            Afghan Horses

Gandhara Desha, Gandhari

The Gandhara Desha from Mahabharata times is the present day Khandahar. The mother of the Kauravas got the name Gandhari for she hailed from Gandhara Desha, kingdom of Gandhara.

4

Gandhari

Rivers

The Rig Veda-10.75.6 speaks of the northwestern rivers, tributaries of Indus flowing through Afghanistan and north western Pakistan. The rivers are Trstama, Susartu, Rasa, Shvetya, Sindhu, Kubha, Gomati, Kruma and Mehatnu.

5

‘Hara quaiti’ – ‘Saras Vati’

The River Haraquaiti, a tributary of Helmund River in Afghanistan derives it name etymologically from the River Sarasvati.

6

7

River Haraquaiti

Hindu Kingdom

It is a fact that Afghanistan was an Hindu Kingdom till, 871 CE. This kingdom was last ruled by King Lagatorman. His dynasty was also called by the name, Kabul Shahi, Brahman Shahi, Hindu Shahi and Raya of Kabul.

8

King Lagatorman

9

Coins of Kabul  Shahi Kings

Naga King

A statue of a Naga king holding a lotus can be found at the Afghanistan, Kabul Museum.

10

Statue of a Naga King

‘Head of Brahma’

Similarly, a statue called ‘the head of Brahma’ dating to 200 CE is also found in the museum.

11

‘Head of Brahma’

Panini

Panini, one of the early grammarians of Samskrt language was a Patan from Afghanistan. His authoritative work on Samskrt grammar is called Ashtadhyayi, Ashta meaning eight and Adhyayi, chapters. This work consists of 8 chapters on the Science of Grammar.

                    12                13

                                   Panini                                          Panini writing Ashtadhyayi brought out in Indian stamp

Buddhism

Buddhism also had a major presence in Afghanistan as can be seen from the many statues of Buddha at Bamiyan.

14

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

                                     15                         16

Statues of Buddha in Bamiyan

17

A 160 metre statue of Buddha equal to a six storey building in Bamiyan

Hieun Tsang, Chinese traveller describes the statue of a 3rd Buddha, when he visited Bamiyan on his way to India in 630 CE. This is a reclining figure of Buddha about to enter Nirvana.

                                   18

              Hieun Tsang

19

             Buddha in relining position, a sculpture in Bamiyan    

Lady in Namaskara position

A Reliquary Gold set with rubies dating to 200 CE, found in Afghanistan, depicts a lady in the namaskara position and also wearing a bindi. This gold set is presently at the British Museum in London.

20

Reliquary Gold Set, British Museum

Tillyya Tepe

Similarly, a pendant, called the Tillyya Tepe found in 100 BCE in Afghanistan has the mark of a bindi.

21

Tillyya Tepe Pendant

Connect in recent times

Coming to the present days, the connection continues.

Kabuliwala

Raindranath Tagore wrote a story called Kabuliwala, which was later made into a film.

        23          Raindranath Tagore  22

                                                                                            Kabuliwala story                                                                                                                 

24

                                                                                             Film Kabuliwala

Hamid Karzai studied in India

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai studied in India. He came to India as an exchange student and studied at the Himachal Pradesh University.

 

25

    Hamid Karzai    

26

                                                   Himachal Pradesh University    

Afghan Snow Cream

Afghan snow cream was one of the popular cream that was used in India, in the days gone by.

27           28

 

29                   30                                31         32

 

Afghan Snow Popularity through the decades

Close ties through millennia

India and Afghanistan have been geographically and culturally close for many millennia. These are but some of the facets of of these close ties.

 

 

5126th Birth Anniversary of Lord Krishna

janmashtamii-1---FB

The people of this country never had any doubts about the historicity of Krishna until the colonial invaders projected Krishna as a mythical figure cooked up by wonderful stories.

The story of Krishna is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of India and the people of this land revere Him as a Divinity. The colonial hangover has however left a doubt on the historicity of this highly adored Divinity.

The science of Archeo-Astronomy has enabled us to go beyond the boundaries of conventional archaeology in tracing the historicity of some well known personages of this land, such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira and Shankara. Planetary configurations mentioned in the ancient scriptures pertaining to major events and personages connected, help us date events that happened around these personages, centuries and millenia ago, either manually or with more ease and accuracy, using Planetarium software.

As per the scriptures, Lord Krishna was born around midnight. That night was the eight phase of the moon known as Ashtami Tithi. The moon was near Vrshabha, the bull, i.e the Taurus constellation that houses the star Rohini. The star Rohini is known as Aldeberan in modern astronomy. The month was Shravana, one of the 12 months in the Indian calendar.

Krishna's birth  in prison

Krishna’s Birth in Prison

These details are clearly mentioned in the 10thSkanda, 3rd chapter of the Bhagavata Purana. The relevant sloka is,

Shravana vada ashtami, Rohini Nakshtra, uditam Lagnam

This detail combined with details of sky configurations for events that happened around Krishna’s lifetimes, namely the Mahabharata, leads us to the exact birth date for Krishna.

Sky Chart of Krishna's birth

Krishna’s Birth Chart

 Courtesy Prof.Narahari Achar, Memphis University, USA

Such a search leads us to 27th July, 3112 BCE as Krishna’s date of birth in the Gregorian Calendar.

In Indian tradition, Krishna’s birth is also called as “Sri Jayanthi”. The word “Jayanthi” has an interesting connotation in Indian Astronomy. Indian astronomers have accorded special names to lunar phases occurring at certain stars.

The lunar phase occurring at Punarvasu star in Gemini constellation is called Jaya. The lunar phase occurring at Pushya star in the Gemini constellation is called Nasini. The lunar phase seen at Shravana star in the Capricorn zodiac is called Vijaya. Similarly, the phase of the moon occurring at Rohini star is called Jayanthi.

Krishna’s birth which happened when the moon was at Rohini star is called Sri Jayanthi.

Jayanthi also means celebrations and the word has thus come to be used to indicate birthday celebrations. Thus, the word “Jayanthi, over time, has also come to be used for the birthday celebrations of other great personages and we today celebrate Buddha Jayanthi, Mahaveer Jayanthi, Shankara Jayanthi, Shivaji Jayanthi, Gandhi Jayanthi, Ambedkar Jayanthi etc.

 “Jayanthi” became popular because of association with Krishna.

Every year, for millennia, Indians have been celebrating Krishna’s birthday in the Shravana month, on Rohini Nakshatra, Krishna Paksha Ashtami (8th phase of the waning moon) based on these details in scriptures.

It is the year of birth however, which has been the missing piece in common knowledge.

Not only from Archaeo-astronomy, but also from a wholistic analysis of data across various disciplines, today we can conclude that Lord Krishna was born in 3112 BCE.

So, this year, 2014 CE, makes it the 5126th year since His birth, Sri Jayanthi. Let us celebrate this 5126th birthday of Lord Krishna, keeping in mind that India’s most beloved Divinity was indeed also a historical figure who had walked this planet about 5000 years ago.

While Divinity is a matter of faith, historicity is a matter of existence. With the unravelling of the dates for Krishna, what comes out for all to see is the beautiful blend of Divinity and Historicity in Krishna.  One does not preclude the other.

5126th Birth Anniversary of Lord Krishna

janmashtamii-1---FB

The people of this country never had any doubts about the historicity of Krishna until the colonial invaders projected Krishna as a mythical figure cooked up by wonderful stories.

The story of Krishna is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of India and the people of this land revere Him as a Divinity. The colonial hangover has however left a doubt on the historicity of this highly adored Divinity.

The science of Archeo-Astronomy has enabled us to go beyond the boundaries of conventional archaeology in tracing the historicity of some well known personages of this land, such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira and Shankara. Planetary configurations mentioned in the ancient scriptures pertaining to major events and personages connected, help us date events that happened around these personages, centuries and millenia ago, either manually or with more ease and accuracy, using Planetarium software.

As per the scriptures, Lord Krishna was born around midnight. That night was the eight phase of the moon known as Ashtami Tithi. The moon was near Vrshabha, the bull, i.e the Taurus constellation that houses the star Rohini. The star Rohini is known as Aldeberan in modern astronomy. The month was Shravana, one of the 12 months in the Indian calendar.

Krishna's birth  in prison

Krishna’s Birth in Prison

These details are clearly mentioned in the 10thSkanda, 3rd chapter of the Bhagavata Purana. The relevant sloka is,

Shravana vada ashtami, Rohini Nakshtra, uditam Lagnam

This detail combined with details of sky configurations for events that happened around Krishna’s lifetimes, namely the Mahabharata, leads us to the exact birth date for Krishna.

Sky Chart of Krishna's birth

Krishna’s Birth Chart

 Courtesy Prof.Narahari Achar, Memphis University, USA

Such a search leads us to 27th July, 3112 BCE as Krishna’s date of birth in the Gregorian Calendar.

In Indian tradition, Krishna’s birth is also called as “Sri Jayanthi”. The word “Jayanthi” has an interesting connotation in Indian Astronomy. Indian astronomers have accorded special names to lunar phases occurring at certain stars.

The lunar phase occurring at Punarvasu star in Gemini constellation is called Jaya. The lunar phase occurring at Pushya star in the Gemini constellation is called Nasini. The lunar phase seen at Shravana star in the Capricorn zodiac is called Vijaya. Similarly, the phase of the moon occurring at Rohini star is called Jayanthi.

Krishna’s birth which happened when the moon was at Rohini star is called Sri Jayanthi.

Jayanthi also means celebrations and the word has thus come to be used to indicate birthday celebrations. Thus, the word “Jayanthi, over time, has also come to be used for the birthday celebrations of other great personages and we today celebrate Buddha Jayanthi, Mahaveer Jayanthi, Shankara Jayanthi, Shivaji Jayanthi, Gandhi Jayanthi, Ambedkar Jayanthi etc.

 “Jayanthi” became popular because of association with Krishna.

Every year, for millennia, Indians have been celebrating Krishna’s birthday in the Shravana month, on Rohini Nakshatra, Krishna Paksha Ashtami (8th phase of the waning moon) based on these details in scriptures.

It is the year of birth however, which has been the missing piece in common knowledge.

Not only from Archaeo-astronomy, but also from a wholistic analysis of data across various disciplines, today we can conclude that Lord Krishna was born in 3112 BCE.

So, this year, 2014 CE, makes it the 5126th year since His birth, Sri Jayanthi. Let us celebrate this 5126th birthday of Lord Krishna, keeping in mind that India’s most beloved Divinity was indeed also a historical figure who had walked this planet about 5000 years ago.

While Divinity is a matter of faith, historicity is a matter of existence. With the unravelling of the dates for Krishna, what comes out for all to see is the beautiful blend of Divinity and Historicity in Krishna.  One does not preclude the other.

Our Book Historical Krishna to be released shortly in 3 Vols.

Krishna1          Krishna3            Krishna2

Naga Panchami / Garuda Panchami

Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami is celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar.

Festival for Arch Rivals

Panchami is the fifth phase of the moon. Nag is snake and Garuda is eagle. Both are arch enemies. How come there is a festival on the same day for these 2 arch rivals?

Arch rivals

Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies

‘Garuda Constellation’

Let us fist understand this time of the year first. It is the month of Shravan. This means the Full Moon in this month occurs near the Shravan Star. This star is identified with Altair of Aquila constellation. This constellation is likened to an eagle in the sky.

Aquila

Aquila, Shravan constellation

There are many Indian legends associated with why this constellation has been called Shravan.

Coming to the point of Garuda Panchami, this Aquila, eagle, Garuda constellation is prominent in this Shravan month as the full moon occurs here. Hence the Panchami of this month being referred to as Garuda Panchami.

‘Snake Constellation’

 Now, look at this from the

point of view of the sun. When it is Full Moon, the sun is directly opposite in the sky on the other side of the earth. i.e this month, the sun will be near the Aslesha star in the sky. Aslesha star is likened to the snake, the constellation Hydra in the sky.

Hydra

Hydra, Aslesha Constellatioin

Hence with reference to the sun, this Panchami is a Nag Panchami as the sun is close to Hydra, the snake.

Rivals in the Sky

The Aslesha star and the Shravan star are almost diagonally opposite in the sky being 13 stars away from each other in the lineup of 27 Nakshatra in the sky as per Indian Astronomy.

We see the snake, Nag and the eagle, Garuda to be rivals – not only on ground but also in the sky.

Beautiful concept

Is it not interesting that such a beautiful fact of astronomy has been brought out through this conjoint festival of Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami?

It reminds us that Hydra and Aquila are opposite to each other in the sky.

It reminds us that during this time of the year, the sun is near Hydra (Aslesha) and Full Moon occurs near Aquila (Shravan).

Bringing 2 side together

These festivals are like two sides of a coin. Actually they are like two sides of the sky. Each opposite to the other.

This is perhaps why it got translated into the sentiment of women praying to the Nag, snake or tying Raksha Bandhan to pray for the safety and wellbeing of their brothers.

Is this also why, we also celebrate Friendship day to express love for our friends around this period?

It is perhaps a way of making the snake and the eagle come to respect each other.

The Nag (Hydra) and the Garuda (Aquila) indeed rule the day and the night sky respectively, throughout this month.

 

Summer Solstice

An important astronomic event happens every year in the month of June. This event is an important time marker in our lives.

Sun’s Movement

As we know, the earth is tilted on its axis by 23.4 degrees. Because of this tilt and the revolution of the earth around the sun, we perceive the sun to be moving northwards and southwards between the 2 latitudes, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, successively, in its annual six monthly journey each way.

Uttarayan & Dakshinayan

On June 21st of every year, our sun reaches the northern end of its journey at the Tropic of Cancer and transits into its journey southwards towards the tropic of Capricorn. The northern journey of the sun is known UttarayanUttar meaning north and the Southern Journey is called DakshinayanDakshin meaning southward.

Sun – Still

21st June is the day the sun reaches the northern most point of its journey and seems to be stationary on that day at the Tropic of Cancer. It is called the Summer Solstice. Sol meaning “Solar, Sun” and stice meaning “stationary”.

  1

Summer Solstice

Longest Day

For the people living in the northern hemisphere, this consequently happens to be the longest day of the year.

Mid Summer Day

 It is the mid summer day. A month before and after this day is peak summer in the northern hemisphere. This season in Indian languages is known as Greeshma Rthu, Greeshma meaning warm or hot. That is why we have the Hindi word ‘garam’ for hot.

2

Hot Summer day

Sun temples

In commemoration of this day, we have many sun temples in India. There is a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude along the tropic of Cancer, where the sun seems stationary for a few days.

 3

Sun Temples along tropic of Cancer

Stonehenge in England

Summer solstice has been celebrated at Stonehenge in England from Pagan days.

4

Stonehenge, England

 5

Stonehenge celebrations, England

 6

Stonehenge in England map

Midsummer

In modern days, this day is observed as Midsummer all across Europe.  It is also called St John’s day. Bonfires are lit to celebrate the hottest period of the year.

7
Midsummer celebrations with Bonfire at Alesund, Norway

Shakespear Drama

William Shakespeare, the celebrated English playwright has written a drama called Mid Summer Night’s Dream, relating to this day.

                             8                                             9

  William Shakespeare                                                                                   The Book

Other names in other parts

The day is similarly celebrated in other parts of the world under different names.

Festival

Country

Tiregan

Iran

Kapala Night

Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia

Wianki

Poland

Juhannus

Finland

Jani

Latvia

Saint Jonas’ Festival

Lithuania

 10                                      11

Lights lit for Tiregan festival in Iran                                  Kapala Night fire works in Poland

World Ocean Day

The World Ocean Day was declared by the United Nations on June 8th, 2008, to honour the biggest water bodies of the ‘Blue Planet’.

1

Earth, The Blue Planet

Ocean, major Habitat

Oceans and Seas are the major habitat of this planet, covering most of the earth.

2
The Ocean

They are home to varied species of flaura and fauna.

In Indian language, an Ocean is called Mahasagar, the great water body.

Sagar is sea. Sa meaning “Good” and Grha, Ghar, ‘home’, referring to Oceans being a good home to many creatures.

3

Sagar is ghar, home to many creatures

The word Samudra is also used for Oceans. Sam means collection and udra means water. Samudra is the largest collection of water on Earth.

The Oceans are also the major route for international trade.

4

Major Shipping Sea Routes

Perils facing Ocean

The pollution of Oceans has dwindled many species of fishes and other aquatic creatures. The dumping of wastes in Oceans and Seas is the cause. Many beaches and shores are strewn with garbage. Oil pollution, caused by various offshore drilling accidents, harm marine life and ocean ecosystems.  We are also trawling away with huge nets the life of Oceans itself.

5

Ocean Pollution

Awareness on Ocean Protection

There are around 1600 ocean sustenance organizations under the banner of World Ocean Network that come together and organize events on this Ocean day, to raise awareness on ocean protection. Many educational programs, contests and film festivals are held to this effect.

Indian Ocean

India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the South, the only Ocean named after a country, the other oceans being the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean.

6

Indian Ocean
Img: Courtesy Wikipedia

Samudra Manthan

There is an interesting legend associated with the Ocean in Indian legends – Samudra Manthan, the churning of the Ocean.

7

Samudra Manthan

In the legend of Samudra Manthan, during churning, apart from Amrit, the pot of immortal nectar, many other things also came out of the Samudra.  Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth, emerged from the Samudra, followed by kalpa vrksha, the symbolizing perennial youthfulness, Kamadhenu the fulfiller of all wishes, Hala hala, the  poison and host of other things both beneficial and detrimental.

This expresses to us, as to what we can draw from the ocean.

A Symbol of prosperity

Oceans symbolize source of prosperity and also immortality in the Indian tradition.

It is the oceans that create dissolution on earth. There is a continuous cycle of dissolution and regeneration going on in the Universe. The process of dissolution is called Pralaya, when waters-oceans or fire engulf everything.

The World Ocean Day is an opportunity to sensitize ourselves to Oceans and Seas and honour the greatest resource of this planet.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day was instituted by the United Nations in the year 1972, to raise awareness among people on environment protection.

1

Man is a part of environment. Every being that forms the environment needs to survive be it humans, animals, birds and plants.

2

 Environment

Present Actions, Future Environment

The environment that we live in today is product of our past actions. What we do today, creates our future environment. Thus, it is vital, that our actions are not detrimental to environment.

 Man, a Virus

Every creature on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment.

Unfortunately modern man does not! Humans move to an area and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed and the only way they could then survive is to spread to a different area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. It is the virus.

6

A scathing comparison. By his mindless actions, man is killing his environment.

The pollution of land, water, air. The trees making way for concrete jungles in the name of development, have become the norm of the day.

7     8

Environment Pollution

9

Concrete Jungle

 Urgent need to save environment

From inhabitants we have become custodians of our planet and now some have taken it further to the ‘gang-rape’ of our environment.

The UN theme

The UN comes up with a theme every year, to help focus on various aspects of environment and its protection.

Think Eat Save

The theme for the year 2013 was, ‘Think, Eat, Save’, highlighting, ‘eating the right food, in right quantity, avoiding wastage, to save ourselves and our environment.’

 10

Theme 2014 – Islands

The theme this year is, ‘Small Islands Development’.

 11

 Islands, unique ecosystems

Islands form unique ecosystems with special flaura and fauna.  They form a key aspect of the environment and play an important role in ecology and its balance.

12

Rare species of tortoises on Galapagos island

 According to present estimates, around 600 million live on islands, i.e, around 1/10th of the World population.

These islands are key to the livelihoods, well being and cultural identity of the 600 million people who live on it.

Island, Etymology

The word “island” is derived from the words ieg, meaning ‘slightly raised land surrounded by marshy, wet areas’. The word was later modified to island, referring to a land surrounded by water on all sides.

 13

An Island

 In Samskrt, the word Dwipa is used for an island.

 Mala Thivu, Maldives

Similarly, the Tamil word for an island is Thevu. Maldives is an island country in Indian Ocean. The name is actually derived from the words Mala Thivu. Mala meaning necklace and Thivu means islands. The name means ‘necklace of islands’.

14

Male, the Island capital of Maldives

 Lakshadweep

The Lakshadweep islands of India, off the Malabar coast, in the Arabian Sea, as its name suggests,  is made up of a lakh of islands, laksh meaning, ‘Lakh’ and dwipa meaning ‘island’.

15

Lakshadweep Islands

 Majauli Island

There are also many small islands on rivers across the world. Majauli island in Brahmaputra is one of the largest river islands in the world. It is a moving island, which is sadly shrinking.

3

Majauli Island

Islands in Cauvery River

The famous Srirangam temple town near Tiruchirapalli, in Tamil Nadu, is an island in the Cauvery River.

  16

Srirangam Temple township located on Cauvery River

 Ranganthetu Bird sanctury

Ranganthetu bird sanctury near Mysore is also an island on the Cauvery River, thetu meaning ‘island’ in Kannada.

4

Ranganthetu bird sanctury

Krishna Dwaipayana

It is interesting to note that the real name of Veda Vyasa, the compiler of Veda, is Krishna Dwaipayana, meaning, ‘Krishna the island born’. In this case the island of his birth was on the Yamuna River.

17 Krishna Dwaipayana, The Island Born

Thus, we see that there are many such islands not only in the seas and oceans, but also in rivers.

Continents are islands

In fact every continent is an island.These continents have been called as dwipa in the Purana.

The seven dwipa mentioned in the Purana are,

  1. Jambhu Dwipa

  2. Plaksha Dwipa

  3. Shalmali Dwipa

  4. Kusha Dwipa

  5. Krauncha Dwipa

  6. Shaka Dwipa

  7. Pushkara Dwipa

We need to understand the islands and the dangers they face. The global warming and sea level rise is one thing that could swallow the small islands.

Preserve islands

This Environment day resolve should be to preserve the small islands if we want to protect the large islands, the continents for our future generations.

An opportunity to sensitize ourselves and others about saving our environment.