Radhashtami

Concepts and Misconceptions on Radha

Of all the Gopis that Krishna used to play with, Radha was His favourite and Krishna was everything to Radha.

 Some have explained Radha as a concept that denotes pure love and devotion. Various forms of art have depicted Krishna and Radha as a couple. Some stories tell us that Krishna married Radha.Some others describe Radha as a married woman, older to Krishna, who was enamoured by Krishna and sought Krishna’s company. Some have even gone to the extent of writing derogatorily that Radha was a concubine.

In modern times too, Radha has been described by a few, even in learned circles, as a Gopi who had a live-in relationship with Krishna.

345-Radha and Krishna

 Radha and Krishna

Radha and Krishna were together only in Vrindavan, before Krishna left for Mathura, never to return to Vrindavan ever again. Krishna then was less than twelve years old.

How could Krishna, a child who may not have attained puberty, not yet in his teens, have had a live-in relationship?

Such statements evidently show a deliberate suppression of real fact while blowing out of proportion an incorrect interpretation of the context and concept of Radha and Krishna relationship.

 Such misconceptions could also have set in due to picturizations that show Krishna not as a 10 to 12 year old lad but instead as a young handsome man while in the company of Radha and the Gopi.

Comprehending the true essence of such picturizations, needs an indepth understanding of the meaning of “Radha”.

 Meaning of Radha

 Ra means to give, to yield. Dha means to leave, to let go, to wish to give, to wish to gain, to strive after, to fix mind upon. These two syllables when joined together as “Radha”, give a very interesting interpretation.

 It is only when we “give in” and “let go of ourselves” with “our mind fixed upon” the truth, can “we gain” the realization of the true self within ourselves as well as the universal divinity. If we hold back, there is no gain.

The word Radha, aptly suggests that we give ourselves in, fully, to realize the divinity that encapsulates us and this whole universe, of which we are but a part.

 Radha thus embodies the act of complete and unconditional surrender, which is also known as Sharanagathi, surrendering at the feet of the divine. Pure Bhakti, devotion, is when one unconditionally gives oneself unto the other.

Historical Radha

Radha has been accorded historical status by various accounts. Legends state that Radha, the Gopi, was already a married woman when she met Krishna.

The husband of Radha was a senior trusted soldier in the army of Kamsa, the wily king of Mathura. Kamsa had deputed Radha’s husband to battle in the far ends of his kingdom. It is probably then that Radha spent her time with the local children, especially Krishna and participated in their playful deeds.

To misconstrue this association beyond this, from an immoral perspective, would be incorrect, given the facts of the story.

The birth place of Radha is Brahmasarin, which is now known by the name Barsana. This place is about 45 kilometers from Mathura. Radha’s husband’s name was Abhimanyu. Jatiladevi was her mother-in-law and Kutiladevi, her sister-in-law.

 Radha’s father was Vrushabhanu and mother, Kirtida. These information are available in Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Padma Purana, Narada Purana and Garga Samhita.

 Radha was born at noon on Sukla paksha ashtami of Bhadrapada month, i.e on the 8th day of the increasing phase of the moon in the month spanning across August – September, in present times.

 This day falls 14 days after Krishna Janmashtami and is celebrated with much gaiety in the birthplace of Radha at Barsana and also all over Braj Bhumi as Radhashtami.

More on Radha in our upcoming book ‘Historical Krishna’ to be released shortly in three volumes.

Krishna1  Krishna3 Krishna2

Celebrating Ganesha with Knowledge

The festival Ganesha Chathurthi has arrived, the festival to invite the divinity Ganesha to our homes and bless our homes with prosperity and happiness.

Ganesha is a fun loving, dancing, frolicking divinity from the Indian pantheon. Ganesha has been symbolically and graphically illustrated and modelled in different forms, from riding on His vahana, vehicle, the mouse Mooshika, to the modern day figurines, showing Him speaking on the phone, typing on the computer etc. Interestingly, all these caricatures seem to suit Him well and only go to make Him dearer and more loveable.

Ganesha

Who is this Ganesha?

His name Ganesha, has two components, Gana plus Esha.

Esha means “the lord of”.

Gana stands for count, numbers, multitude. Which is why, the subject mathematics in the Indian knowledge system is known as “Ganitham”. The name Ganesha denotes Him to be the lord of multitudes and numbers and the faculty that is needed to count, deal with multitudes, is knowledge, intellect.

It is this intellect which can help man overcome obstacles as man’s obstacles primarily stem from his mind.

Ganesha is therefore also called Vigneshwara, the one who removes obstacles. And to channelize our mind, our thoughts and energies in the right direction to ensure successful completion of any task, we pray to Vigneshwara before we embark on any important activity, before all beginnings.

With this intellect to discern good from bad, knowledge and strength to overcome obstacles and act wisely and purposefully, it is but natural man will be endowed with prosperity. Hence Ganesha is also considered to usher in prosperity and good luck. And to embody the humility that should go with all these wealth and wisdom, He is also called Vinayaka or the humble, approachable one.

Such a concept of praying for mental strength, wisdom, prosperity and to ward off all obstacles before embarking on any important activity, is not unique to the Indian culture alone.

Janus and Ganesha

In ancient Rome too, the pre-Christian era had a divinity known as “Janus.

This Janus was a divinity who was propitiated to, during all beginnings. Images of Janus were also installed on doorways as a guardian. This  Janus had 2 faces, one to look at the past and one to look at the future.

Janus

 The God Janus

Janus and Ganesha both seem to be associated with two faces.

Ganesha had a human face before He got an elephant face. There are many interesting similarities between Janus and Ganesha including the aspect that phonetically their names are also similar. Janus is also a divinity associated with numbers, which is why, the first month of the calendar is named January after Janus.

Ganesha, Ganesha Everywhere

It is not only in Rome, but in different other parts of the world, that we find the knowledge, appreciation and reverence to the concept denoted by Ganesha.

We have sculptures of Ganesha in Central America, Persia, Afganisthan, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and in many other South-Eastern Asian islands.

Kangiten Ganesha

Kangiten Ganesha, Japan                                                

Ganesha as warrior

Depiction of Ganesha as Warrior in Persia               

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and forms the major part of the south eastern archipelago. The currency, the Rupiah note of Indonesia too, has an image of Ganesha, depicting him as a divinity for numbers and knowledge.

Indonesian currency

From this example, we can see that the concept of Ganesha was prevalent far and wide from faraway Central America to Europe to Asia, more than 2500 years back itself.

This commonality and the prevalence of the concept of Ganesha across the world, brings to our attention that Ganesha is not just a Hindu divinity in the limited sense, but a divinity of knowledge and numbers, not just of India but of the multitudes across the world.

On this Ganesh Chathurthi, let us repledge ourselves to bring forth this knowledge so that, we can unite all the people of this world so that this world can once again grow as a knowledgeable society,  apart from just counting its monies, its luxuries and its several goodies.

Ganesha with all His multitude of forms, symbols and stories, is a concept, Tattva, epitomising the winning formula for a good mind, intellect, knowledge, strength and prosperity, which is the direction we all need to progress in.

Dhyan Chaand

Legendary Hockey Player

Dhyan Chaand, the legendary Indian hockey player is counted among the greatest sportmen this country has every seen.

    ‘Hockey ka Jadugar’

The greatest hockey player the world has known. Known for his great ability to score goals, he was nicknamed ‘Hockey ka Jadugar’.

    ‘The Wizard’

Internationally, he was called “The Wizard” for his great ability to control the ball. His name was verily synonymous with hockey.

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Dhyan Chaand, the Hockey Wizard

Dhyan Singh was born on August 29th, 1905 in Jodhpur.

Practicing under Moon light

He later got the name “Chaand” as he used to practice hockey under moon light, Moon in Hindi is Chaand. We should remember that there were no flood lights in those days.Thus came about his name Dhyan Chaand.

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Dhayanchand practicing under moonlight

From Moonlight to Limelight

From being under ‘moon light’, Dhyan Chaand soon came under international limelight.

    1927-Folkstone Festival

He displayed his skills against the British Hockey team at the London Folkstone festival, scoring 36 of India’s 72 goals in 10 matches.

    1928-Summer Olympics in Amsterdam

In 1928, the Indian Hockey Team participated in the Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In this tornament, Chaand helped India gain a victory score 3-0, by scoring 2 goals.

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 Gold Medal of Amsterdam Olympics               Dhyanchand in action during the Amsterdam Festival

      Wizard of Hockey

Dhyan Chaand’s impeccable control over the ball was such that, people soon started having doubts as to whether he had hidden a magnet in his hockey stick. The ball always seemed to stick to his hockey stick when he was playing. Once, during Indian hockey team’s sojourn to Japan, the Tokyo hockey officials had a similar doubt. They broke open his stick to see whether there was a hidden magnet within. Such was his magic!

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Dhyan Chaand scoring a goal

    Playing with Walking Stick

In another amusing incident, a lady from the audience asked Chaand to play with her her walking stick. He was able to score goals even with that walking stick.

    1932 Olympics in USA

In this Olympics, the Indian hockey team defeated the United States 24-1. Dhyan Chaand scored 8 of these goals and made it a one sided contest.

    1933 The most memorable moment

Interestingly, the most memorable moment for Dhyan Chaand according to him was in a match in which he did not score a goal. This was the Beighton Cup final of 1933. The contest was between Calcutta Customs and Jhansi Heroes. In this closely fought match, Dhyan Chand provided a crucial pass for the only goal of the match won by Jhansi Heroes.

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Jhansi Team with the Beighton Cup

    1935 Tour of New Zealand and Australia

This was another memorable tour for Dhyan Chaand as he scored 201 of the total 584 goals by the Indian team in 43 matches. Needless to say, the Indian team crushed their opponents.

    Meeting Don Bradman

During this tour of Australia, Dhyan Chaand met Don Bradman, the legendary Australian cricketer. After seeing Dhyan displaying his skills, Bradman paid his tributes to the Indian hockey magician remarking, “He scores goals just like we score runs in cricket.” That was the consistency and ease with which Dhyan Chaand scored goals.

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    Don Bradman                                                                 Dhyan Chaand

     1936 Olympics – Hitler impressed

Even the Nazi dictator Adoloph Hitler was impressed by Dhyan Chaand’s skills. In the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Dhyan Chaand led the Indian Hockey Team. In the first round of the final, Indans lead German 1-0. In the second round, the Indian team managed 6 consecutive goals.

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Dhyanchand displaying his magic during the Berlin Olympics

At this moment, the Germans resorted to body play, trying to win by foul means. Dhyan Chaand was injured as he broke one of his teeth. He however continued to play.

Hitler who was in the audience couldn’t see his team being crushed. He left midway.

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Adolph Hitler at Olympics, 1936

During the course of the match, the Germans sensed a foul play at the ease with which Dhyan Chaand was scoring, inspite of his breaking his teeth. He was ordered to change his stick. The magic however continued and Indians won the final 8-1.

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Dhayan Chand, the hero of Berlin Olympics

    An invitation to become German

The next day Hitler called Dhyan Chaand for a meeting. Hitler offered him German citizenship for his scintillating performance in 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was also offered a senior position in the German military. Dhyan Chaand however refused saying, “India is my India”.

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                                                    Hitler                                                             Dhyan Chaand

    After World War

In the subsequent years from 1939, no matches could be played as the World War-2 was on. After the Word War, Dhyan Chaand continued to display his magic. He hit 61 goals in 22 matches against East Africa.

Post Retirement

In 1948, Dhyan Chaand retired from the sport. The glory of Dhyan Chaand did not fade. Many statues were erected in his honour. The citizens of Austria erected his statue with four hand and four sticks, displaying his control over the ball.

The astro-turf hockey pitch at the Indian Gynkhana Club in London has been named after Dhyan Chand.

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The Dhyan Chaand astro turf hockey pitch, London

In his own country, a statue of his can be found near India Gate, Delhi. Many such statues in honour of Dhyan Chaand can be found all across the country

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  Dhyan Chaand Statue, India Gate     

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                                                Dhyan Chaand Statue, Jhansi         Dhyan Chaand Statue, Vishakapatnam

The Indian Government has issued a stamp in his honour in 1980.

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Stamp on Dhyan Chaand

Dhyan Chaand’s birthday is also observed as National Sports Day India. The Dhyan Chaand Award has been institued by the government in his memory.

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Dhyan Chaand Award

The Gentleman – Good husband

Inspite of his greatness, Dhyan Chaand was simple at heart. An incident with a fan shows his strong roots in Indian culture. In an exibition match that he played at Prague, a lady fan who was impressed at his game, came upto him and requested to allow her to kiss him. Dhyan Chaand politely refused saying, “I am a married man”.

Rush of Pakistani fans at Lahore station

Sometime after 1947, Dhyan Chaand was in Lahore railway station as part of the Indian on their way to Peshawar, to travel from thereon to take part in Joshan celebrations, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Pakistani fans rushed to have a glimpse of Dhyan Chaand. There was much rush at all stations as many trains arrived late by 4 hours at Peshawar.

A forgotten hero

It is sad that we have forgotten such a hero. A fitting way to remember and honour him would be confer Bharat Ratna on him. That will an apt tribute to this great sportsman.

Madras Day

A City’s Birthday

People celebrate their birthdays. Here, a city celebrates its birthday. The city of Madras was founded on August 22, 1639. This day is celebrated as Madras day.

Events

On this day, many events are held focussing on the history and cultural heritage of the city and Tamil land in general. Many groups, communities and companies come forward to organize events on culture, music, food, poetry, and talks, on the history of the city.

East India Company

Land from Raja of Chandragiri

On this day, the British East India Company, represented by Francis Day, purchased land from Raja of Chandragiri, near Tirupati, to build Fort Saint George on the Coromandel Coast.

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                            Francis Day                                                East India Company Logo

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Chandragiri in India Map                                                          Chandragiri fort

Dynasty of Padmavati Devi

It was a daughter of this Chandragiri dynasty, Padmavati Devi whom Lord Venkateswara married.

 

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Princess Padmavathi of Chandragiri dynasty                          Lord Venkateswara & Goddess Padmavathi

Why Francis Day chose this place?

Francis Day decided to set up their camp at the estuary of the Cooum River, probably because, his lady love, a Portuguese girl, was in the Portuguese settlement of Luz, which was around 5 kms down south, along the same beach.

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Cooum River

Luz – Light

 ‘Luz’ is a Portuguese word, meaning light. When the Portuguese were one evening, searching for a suitable spot in the Coromandel coast, they saw a ray of light on shore and decided to move their ship and set up their trading camp there.

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Coromandel Coast

This place is now remembered as Luz church.

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Luz Church

This beach between Fort Saint George and Luz is the famous Marina beach of Chennai.

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Marina Beach, Chennai

British Trade Post

This piece of land soon grew into a fledgling town, primarily a British trading post operating out of Fort Saint George.

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Fort Saint George

While the British might have set up their colony here only in the year 1639, this place of Chennai has ancient antiquity.

Adi Shankara visits Chennai

Tiruvottiyur

2500 years ago, Adi Shankara visited the area around Chennai. When he came, he visited the Devi temple at Tiruvottiyur, which is today in North Chennai.

 

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                                 Adi Shankara                                                                               Tiruvottiyur Devi Temple

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Adi Shankara with his four disciples at Tiruvottiyur Devi Temple

 Mangadu

He also visited the Devi temple at Mangadu. The word Mangadu means mango groove, Manga meaning mango and Kadu for forest.

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Mangadu Devi temple

Both these Devis at Tiruvottiyur and Mangadu were in their ugra, ferocious form. Adi Shankara through his penance made a sri yantra in front of both Devis, to bring down their ferocity and make this place habitable for the locals.

Alwars

Alwars who lived around 1500 years have visited Chennai. One of the Alwar, Bhoothath Alwar was born in west of Chennai.

Around Chennai, there are over a dozen temples that have poems sung by Alwars, called Pasuram in Tamil, when they visited these temples.

 

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The 12 Alwars

Nayanmars

Nayanmars who also lived around 1500 years ago, also visited the Chennai region.

Nayanmars, who are devotees of Shiva have visited many Shiva temples in this region.

Infact, one of the big festivals of Chennai, is the carrying of the 63 Nayanmars in palanquin, around the Kapileshwar temple and its tanks, annually, in the month of March.

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Kapileshwar Temple, Chennai

This festival is popularly known as Arvathi Muvar, named after 63 Nayanmar saints.

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Arvathi Muvar, 63 Nayanmars being carried in chappram, palanquin procession

Ancient Antiquity

 The antiquity of this area having continuous habitation for the last 2500 years and more is available to us through poetry, archaeology and monuments.

Recent Antiquity

It is only the British component of Madras, which grew around Fort Saint George, which is of recent antiquity of 375 years.

Chatrapati Shivaji visits Chennai

Chatrapati Shivaji, in his conquest of the south, came upto Chennai. He prayed at the Kalika temple on 16 October, 1677.

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 Chatrapati Shivaji Plaque at the Kalikaamba temple

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Kalikamba Temple, Chennai

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 Shivaji statue found at Kalikambal temple gopuram

British paid honarariums to Shivaji

During this visit to Madras, the British sent him gifts, honorariums, which in the local language is called “Kappam”, twice within a month, to his camping site near the Kalikambal temple, which is to the west of Fort Saint George, which was then the entry point to Madras.

 They did this as a good will gesture requesting him not attack their trading post saying that they were only peaceful traders.

Becoming a Major City

This town continued to grow over the centuries. Around this piece of land, has grown the modern city of Madras, known as Chennai today.

Madras Day is an occasion to remember the glorious heritage of this city that has evolved over millennia.

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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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‘Hara quaiti’ – ‘Saras Vati’

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

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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.

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King Lagatorman

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Coins of Kabul  Shahi Kings

Naga King

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

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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.

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‘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.

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                                   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.

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Bamiyan, Afghanistan

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Statues of Buddha in Bamiyan

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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.

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              Hieun Tsang

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             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.

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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.

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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.

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                                                                                            Kabuliwala story                                                                                                                 

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                                                                                             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.

 

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    Hamid Karzai    

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                                                   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.

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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.

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.