Makara Sankranthi is a festival season in India. It is celebrated with different names across India and Asia.
This ebook, goes into the significance of this festival with diverse names.
Makara Sankranthi is a festival season in India. It is celebrated with different names across India and Asia.
This ebook, goes into the significance of this festival with diverse names.
Women praying for their husbands
The Ramayana battle was fought post south west monsoonThe famous Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra was also fought after the monsoons, before winter.
Mahabharata War was fought post monsoonsIndia’s East Pakistan war of 1971, for liberation of Bangladesh, was also fought after the monsoons.
The Bangladesh Liberation War which also took place after the monsoonsLike this, through the ages, post monsoon was considered an apt window to go to war.
Such timeless festivals showcase the innate steadfast nature of women and their concern for their family and near and dear. They bring out the noble qualities of women wherever they are, whatever language they may speak, whatever they may eat, whatever they may wear and however they may look!
Kargil Vijay Divas is observed, the day when Indian soldiers overcame the Pakistani insurgents and successfully regained control over the high posts in Kargil and Drass sector, earlier lost to Pakistani intruders.
Kargil on Map
527 Indian soldiers were martyred, and around 1088 soldiers were wounded in this Kargil War. Kargil Vijay Divas was instituted to honour these Kargil war heroes. Every year, citizens of the nation, pay homage to the Kargil heroes at Amar Jawan Jyoti at Indian Gate, Delhi and at Kargil hills, in Kashmir valley.
Kargil Hills Memorial
Many programmes are held all over India to remember the sacrifices made by the Indian Army then. Shaurya, valour awards were given to these soldiers and officers.
Amar Jawan Jyoti
In the year 1999, Pakistani Armed Forces were training and sending soldiers, disguised as jihadi militants, into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC).
This infiltration which they called “Operation Badr” was intended to break the link between Ladakh and Kashmir by forcing the Indian soldiers to retreat from the Siachen Glacier. The goal was to force a negotiated solution from India.
Initially, the Indian soldiers were not aware of the nature of this infiltration. The Indian forces thought that this infiltration was by jihadis and resolved to eliminate them.
In the next few days, another infiltration was observed along another part of LOC. The nature of this infiltration was very much different from the previous one which made the Indian Army to seriously study these infiltrations.
On further analysis, the Indian forces realized that the enemy’s plan was much bigger and that Pakistani soldiers in disguise, had infact captured around 200 kms of Indian Territory.
The Indian Government soon launched the Operation Vijay with 2 lakh Indian soldiers. The Battle which began on May 27th, lasted for 62 days and ended on July 26th.
Indian Soldiers attacking the intruders
Indian Soldiers in action during Kargil
India stood steadfast all through the war, whereas the Pakistani Prime Minister went to US on July 4th to meet the then President Clinton and then to China, to seek help. Incidentally, July 4th was American Independence Day.
Whereas, India did not go soliciting for help, to maintain its territorial integrity.
Nawaz Sharif with Bill Clinton seeking help
The Indian soldiers were successful in pushing back the Pakistani intruders beyond the Line of Control and regaining the lost territory. It is to be noted that it was India’s conscious decision not to escalate the war beyond the Kargil and Drass sectors.
Indian soldiers hoisting Indian flag after regaining Kargil
The victory lifted the morale of every Indian. The sentiment in India was so high, that, a number of films were made on this war. LOC Kargil was one of the first films. Shot in Ladakh, this film gives a detailed account of Operation Vijay. The Film Dhoop was released in 2003 with the Kargil war as a backdrop. Another film Lakshya was released, a fictional story based on the Kargil war.
This year, the 18th anniversary of the Kargil victory is being observed. The war might be over, but we should not forget those who sacrificed their lives in the battle. It is not enough we if just recall the sacrifices of those who gave up their ‘today’ for our ‘tomorrow’. It is time we ensure that, they get their injury benefits without any delay, which has sadly been delayed for the last many years on petty grounds.
It should also be made a policy that the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, along with ministers visit the Kargil Hills Memorial, every year, to pay homage to our Kargil martyrs who then saved Kashmir for us by giving up their lives.
Nag Panchami / Garuda Panchami is celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar.
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?
Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies
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, 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.
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, Aslesha Constellatioin
Hence with reference to the sun, this Panchami is a Nag Panchami as the sun is close to Hydra, the snake.
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.
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).
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.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian Freedom fighter who played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
The Trio of “Lal Pal Bal” were forerunners of the freedom struggle much before the times of Mahatma Gandhi. Lal was Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bal was Bala Gangadhar Tilak from Marartha, and Pal was Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal. They came from different corners of India and asked for Swaraj in united voice.
Lal Bal Pal
Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 at Ratnagiri village of Maharashtra. His father was a Samskrt teacher.
Birth Place of Tilak
A first cover of Tilak’s Birth Centenary issued in 1956
Tilak was among the first generation of Indians who secured a graduation.
In 1871, Tilak married Satyabhamabhai. He began teaching mathematics at a private school.
According to Tilak, spirituality was not divorced from worldly life. He got his inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, which he believed taught selfless service to humanity.
He said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation my highest religion and duty.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak Was imprisoned in Mandalay Jail, Burma From 1908 to 1914. During his imprisonment in Mandalay, he wrote the book titled Gita Rahasya.
Later he went on to write a commentary on the work called the Bhagavad Gita Rahasya.
Making social service the goal of his life, Tilak founded the ‘Deccan Education Society’ along with his college friends in Pune, with the aim of improving the quality of education in India.
Deccan Education Society, Pune
Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890 and became a part of the Freedom struggle. His main aim was to unite the people against British. He worked with Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the Home Rule Movement.
He was soon conferred the title of ‘Lokamanya’, Loka meaning, ‘world’ and Manya, ‘acceptance’, as he was accepted by all sections of the society as their leader.
He was called the ‘Father of Indian unrest movement’ by the British for his successful attempts in uprising the masses towards freedom.
Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, two other freedom fighters, Bal Gangadhar Tilak became a part of the trio who were collectively nicknamed, ‘Bal Pal Lal.’
In 1894, Tilak called for celebrating the domestic Ganesha festival as public event. His intention again was to unite people through the fervour of the festival.
Tilak started Ganesha Utsav
In 1897, Tilak raised the clarion call,
“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.”
This slogan is ingrained in the Indian consciousness even to this day. A stamp has been released by the Government to this effect.
Tilak’s call intensified the yearning for Swaraj from the British, in every common man’s mind as well as collectively in the entire population of the land. It became a turning point of our Freedom movement.
In 1905, following the partition of Bengal, He encouraged the Swadeshi and Boycott movements.
At this moment, he also began his journalistic career by founding the newspapers Kesari and Maratha. Tilak opposed the many policies of British by publishing strong worded articles in his papers. Kesari and Maratha became the voice of the freedom fighters.
Tilak was sent to jail for carrying out anti-British activities. Here, he spent his time in writing the commentary on Bhagavad Gita. He also authored a book called “Orion, or the antiquity of the Vedas”, which is a research on the antiquities of the Veda.
In this book, which he wrote in his prison cell, he writes about the knowledge in the Veda about the galaxy, the galactic arm, the position of our sun in the galactic arm, the constellation of Mrigashirsha in this arm. Through these he tries to fix probable dates when this knowledge could have been composed on earth in the form of Veda.
All in all, Tilak paved the way for Mahatma Gandhi, as the momentum of his activities helped Gandhi to start his non-cooperation movement. In this regard, Gandhi considered Tilak his Guru.
Tilak passed away on August 1st, 1920 in Mumbai. A true devotee of Bharath in true sense of the word.
Last words of Lokmanya Tilak on verdict of Jury in 1908, is on plaque outside Central court of Bombay High Court
Funeral procession of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Pi Day is celebrated all over the world on March 14th.
The story of Pi (Π) is interesting and long. It is intertwined with the development of thinking of mankind not only in India but the world over.
Since Pi has a connection with circles, we shall look at the manner in which the circular shape was understood and used by the ancients in India.
A circle is one of the perfect and most naturally occurring shapes in the world. It is a figure where every point along the line called the circle or its circumference, is equi-distant from a point called the centre of the circle, lying within the area bound by this line.
This distance was named as TriJya by the ancients, after Jya, meaning the chord of the bow. The ancients had noticed a relation between this distance Trijya and the length of the line that made up the circle. Modern Geometry calls this TriJya, the Radius and twice Trijya as Diameter.
They had found that if the length of the circular line (the length called circumference) was a little over 3 times the diameter, then the line would go round the centre such that at every point, it would always be equidistant from the centre point.
The ratio of the length of the circular line (circumference) to the width of the circle (diameter) had to be 3.x for the shape to become a circle.
It is simple:
Take a rope and a stick such that the rope has to go around the stick.
If the length of the rope is just 1 x stick length, then it would only be able to align along the stick itself.
If the length of the rope is such that it is 2 x stick length, then it would align along the stick twice. But, it would lie along the length itself and not be able to uniformly maintain a distance from the centre of the stick.
If the rope length is 4 times the stick length, then it would align along the stick 4 times. No different from 2 x stick length.
This meant that the length of the rope must be between 2 and 4 times stick length, i.e. 3, for it to be able to go around the stick such that it will stay exactly at the same distance from the centre of the stick at all times.
This ratio 3, came to be referred to as paridhi-vyasa sambandhana in Indian thought.
Paridhi means the circumference. It denotes that, which separates space into “this, flat, receptacle, area (dhi)” and the space “beyond this area (pari)”. It is the line around this area.
Vyasa means the diameter. Vyasa is that which disjoins, severs, distributes, rearranges. The diameter severs or rearranges the circle into 2 halves or semicircles.
This is why Vyasa is also the term for a compiler, since, as an arranger he reorganizes and arranges, distributes data suitably while giving it a coherent shape.
Sambandhana denotes relationship. Paridhi-Vyasa Sambandhana is the relationship between the diameter and the circumference of a circle which in present times is known to every school child as the constant Π approximated to 3.14, a value, very close to the value 3 for the Paridhi-Vyasa Sambandhana.
But why did the ancients want to be so precise about their circles?
What did they use circles for?
Ancient Indians, who were Nature worshippers, are referred to as the Vedic civilization, for their understanding and close association with Nature.
One of their ways of veneration was through Vedic rituals centred around use of fire, hymns and altars. The shapes of altars played a very important role in the lives of these people known as Ritwik.
The Ritwik stayed in synergy with Rta, the order in the cosmos, Nature, using
The Ritwik’s life was centred around Rta – order, pattern, repetition, rhythm, cycle.
Such use of altars, hymns, chants, offerings, rites came to collectively be called a Ritual.
Rituals, sharing etymological root with Ritwik, were for the Ritwik, the source of energy for mind, body and environs.
Such profound rituals of the Ritwik, came to be called erroneously and limitedly as “sacrifices” by some colonial commentators, due to the tangible and visible aspects of offerings.
It is hard to say when this Vedic period started or when the Veda were composed. But what one can confirm with a fair amount of certainty, is that the Veda and ancillary texts were last recompiled in 3100 BCE, as against composed for the very first time. This means that, this window of 3100 BCE must have been a prominent era of the Vedic period. Ritual practices would have been taken up vigorously and procedures for setting up and using altars would have been adhered to, then.
The Sulva Sutra, the oldest work on geometry gives procedures for construction of geometrical altars (vedi) using rope (rajju) and gnomon (sanku).
The compendium of these Sutra is dated to have been worked upon until 800 BCE though one cannot isolate and say which ones and when.
Companions to these Sutra were the Brahmana texts which outlined the process of Vedic rituals. Popular among these, the Shatapatha Brahmana also contains many mathematical instructions to build venues, altars and conduct rituals.
A circular Vedic Fire Altar excavated at Harappa dating to before 2500 BCE
When colonial historians had dated the Veda to around the 1st Millennium BCE, the Sulva Sutra and other texts too came to be bound by this upper limit.
But with the last recompilation of the Veda being traceable to 3100 BCE, the Sulva Sutra and other Vedic texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana can also be dated to atleast 3100 BCE if not earlier.
But Vedic altars were only one of the needs for circles. It was a need of only a particular set of people who were entrusted with safeguarding the psychological and physiological wellbeing of the society by keeping them in tune with Nature as well as sustaining Nature itself through daily rituals.
There were others who were in charge of the development of the township and in development of trade. They needed more precise circles as even a small error could make their living very shaky.
Circular tower at Mehergarh dating to before 5000 BCE, implying existence of such mathematical and architectural skills atleast from 6000 BCE.
The use of such precise mathematics and geometry can be seen in one of the ancient structures of the world – a circular tower which is not only a perfect circle but also stands perfectly straight even after 8000 years.
A perfect circular tower has been excavated at the ancient town of Mehergarh in the Sindhu Sarasvati belt, dating back to beyond 5000 BCE. Such a perfect structure which has not only stood tall but has also withstood the test of time, indicates the perfection in ratios and proportions applied during design as well as construction.
What is making us go around in circles today is the question, “why did they need to build such tall circular towers?”?
Were they water wells? Were they storage wells? Were they observation towers? Were they astronomical tools? Were they signalling beacons?
Or were they so advanced that just like us today, they chose to build circular columns and towers out of aesthetics?
Whatever be the motive, precise mathematics to plan and build circular structures was the need of those who practiced professions such as engineering and architecture.
The ancients did not stop with Nature worship alone. They were also in tune with Nature, to the extent that the motions of objects in the sky determined how they would lead their lives. For, it is these motions that gave rise to day, night, seasons and years.
All the shapes, right from that of the earth, the moon, the sun are all circular.
All the motions, right from the rotation of the earth, to the moon around the earth, to the earth around the sun, to the planets around the sun, are all based on circular orbits.
The need to calculate these motions in “space” and predict the arrival of “time” meant the calculation of distances and speed of these astronomical objects along circular paths.
Thus precise mathematics to draw up circular paths and precisely calculate these motions was the need of those who practiced professions such as agriculture.
Even though India is classified as an agricultural civilization, trade has been one of India’s vibrant professions right from the times the Veda were composed, atleast more than 8000 years ago, since Ramayana is dateable to 7100 years ago.
Many sloka in the Veda mention about trade and there are also slokas that speak about navigation across oceans for this trade.
India has thus been navigating the seas from over 8000 to 10000 years ago.
Ancient Indians had travelled the world over for trade as well as making contact with people and lands as far away as Central and South Americas. There are many evidences to show an Indo-American connect right from over 5000 years ago.
They had travelled eastwards to arrive at lands to their west for, they knew that the Earth was round and waters encircled the earth. So sailing the seas, one could go from one end of the earth to the other – i.e. go around the earth.
This need for navigation, gave rise to precise mapping of stars in the spherical sky with locations and distances across flat seas.
These needs translated into the development of many branches of study, differentiated today as Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus and so on, all of which were lapped up by the entire world community as these needs are common to all mankind.
The ancient Indians were also adept in dividing the earth into zones of time using meridians to locate and navigate to remote places.
Thus precise mathematics to work with a spherical globe and circular lines called meridians was the need of those who practiced professions such as trade and navigation.
It would therefore not be amiss to say that the ancients who drew these perfect circular shapes and built structures were in the know of the ratio of the length of the periphery of a circle to its width.
To be able to work with chords, arc and sines of a circular path in the sky and map it to distances on earth, the ancient Indians would have had to first know the ratio of length between the circumference and the diameter.
So, when was Pi born?
The concept of Pi in India is pegged to the Sulva Sutra, which go back to the date of the accompanying Brahmana, which again go back as far as the Veda atleast 8000 years ago. These Sulva Sutra are dated to have been last edited in 800 BCE.
The precisely dateable, physical proof for the usage of the concept of Pi though lies in Egyptian papyrus scrolls, dating to around 2000 BCE.
The list of mathematicians who have subsequently worked on this ratio Pi and have achieved converging results is quite long. It is almost as along as the number of digits after decimal for Pi.
The list of people who have worked on the value of Pi and those who will continue to do so in future may also be endless just as the infinite series of Pi. In this never ending evolution of the mathematical expression of Pi, what can perhaps be fixed though, is its birth.
This birth can be traced to the version of the Sulva Sutra going way back to the time of the composition of the Veda, based on the dexterity of the ancient Vedic Indians.
All of which, point to their mastery over circles and spheres and the mathematics concerning them.
With the Vedic texts dateable to having been last recompiled in 3100 BCE, the birth of the concept of Pi and a value close to 3 for this ratio can be attributed to times going beyond 2000 BCE into the mists of time and mysteries of ancient Indians.
The name Pi and symbol Π for this ratio though, can be traced to William Jones, the British mathematician in 1707 CE who identified this name and symbol for this ratio.
Incidentally, William Jones, the mathematician, was the father of Sir.William Jones, the Philologist and Orientalist who became a Jurist in India during the British rule, founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal to popularize Oriental studies and was one of the first to popularize the idea of Indo-European group of languages, which culminated later in the incorrect and ill- famed Aryan Theory of migration into India.
William Jones, the Mathematician (The Father) Source – Painting by Willaim Hogarth, National Portrait Gallery
Sir. William Jones, the Philologist (The Son)
Source – Pictures in the Hall of University, Oxford
This name Pi and the Greek letter Π as symbol for it, was later popularized by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, in 1737.
A portrait by Emanuel Handmann in 1753
William Jones, the father, was a Welsh born mathematician who between 1695 and 1702, was commissioned to teach Maths onboard naval ships. While aboard ships in the sea, William Jones learnt the finer aspects of navigation and produced the work “A New Compendium of the Whole Art of Navigation” in 1702.
William Jones was also a close friend of Sir. Isaac Newton and Sir. Edmund Halley. While Newton is credited with the discovery of Calculus, Halley is credited with predicting the path and appearance of the comet which came to be named after him as Halley’s comet.
We see that the development of sciences in Europe, especially Maths, Astronomy and their primary use for Navigation, took place over the foundation provided by Indian mathematics which had reached Europe through Arabs and later through Jesuits.
It would therefore not be out of place here to conclude that even though William Jones is credited with having named this ratio of circumference to diameter as Pi, his study and findings could have been based on Indian works available and followed by Europe then.
The name Pi and the alphabet symbol, is said to come from the Greek word “Perimetros” for “perimeter” and hence the attribution of the Greek alphabet ‘Pi’ and its symbol Π.
Another way to ascribe Pi to this ratio could have been the fact that this ratio is used along with arc, angles and chords of circles which divide the circle into small “pies”.
Also the more prevalent use of Pi today as an infinite series comes from the notion of adding up the infinite and minute arcs of a quadrant and comparing this integrated value with the radius or Trijya of a circle. A method that William Jones as a mathematician of the 1700s and a friend of Newton, would have been fairly conversant with.
For, this method of arriving at the value of Pi, as worked out by Madhava from Kerala, had reached Europe by then via the Jesuits.
Pi, as a concept thus was revealed and came into relevance for mankind from many millennia ago.
Pi, as a ratio was known to the Indian civilization as evidenced by the Circular towers, Vedic altars and procedures to create them from 6000 BCE and before.
Pi, as a mathematical concept travelled from India along with other aspects of Mathematics including Jya (Sine) in Trigonometry and Calculus needed for navigation along the many millennia since.
Pi, as a number has gained various levels of accuracy with further independent work by various civilizations and their mathematicians especially from the first millennium of the Common Era (CE).
Pi, as an infinite series of expression using Calculus, as in use in the modern world today, was deciphered by the Kerala school of Mathematics in 1350 CE.
Pi, as a name and symbol was coined by William Jones in 1707 CE.
Pi, as a constant was popularized in modern maths today by Leonhard Euler in 1737 CE.
Pi, as Π found its way into basic school books, all over the world in 1900s.
In Pi, Π, we thus see a blend of,
The world has been literally and metaphorically bound in a circle of knowledge defined by the Perimeter called Pi, Π.
And, India’s slice, rather pie, of contribution to Pi and to the world of Maths is worthy enough to be branded and celebrated.
More on Pi in our book, Brand Bharat – Vol-2 – Roots In India.
National Flag Adoption Day is celebrated every year on 22nd July, the day when the flag in its present form was official accepted by the Constituent Assembly in 1947, as the Indian National Flag.
Indian National Flag
The word flag in English means something that flaps in air. This word has its origin from the German word, Flagge, and dates back to the days of Tutons.
Some Vexillologists are of the opinion that China is originally the birthplace of the flags, and the first mention of it is dated to 1122 BCE.
India has had a long history of flags. In ancient India, each kingdom had its own flag, own identity.
In Samskrt, a flag is known as Dvaja.
In the Ramayana, we have Surya Vamsa Dvaja, of Rama’s dynasty, dating to 5100 BCE.
In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse-74-36 and Kishkinda Khanda – 16-37, there is a mention of flag being hoisted to celebrate the New Year on Ashwin Purnima. In the Ayodhya Khanda – verse – 77 – there is another mention of Flags being defaced due to heat and showers.
Surya Vamsa Dvaja
The chariots of kings, princes and soldiers hosted their own individual flags. Infact during the war, the flag of the chariot helped the rival army identify a particular soldier.
Arjuna’s flag had the insignia of Hanuman, a Vanara, through which the other soldiers identified His chariot during battles.
Arjuna’s Dvaja with the image of Hanuman
Similarly Bheeshma’s flag had the insignia of a Tala, Palm tree and 5 stars.
Dronacharya’s flag had the insignia of Vedika – an altar, Deer Skin, Kamandalam – a Pitcher and a bow.
Duryodhana had a snake in his Dvaja, a Sarpa Dvaja.
For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.
In this land, each Divinity also has its own flag.
The Dvaja of Indra, the King of Deva is mentioned in the Rig Veda, which dates to earlier than 3100 BCE.
A Sculpture of Indra which shows his flag
In ancient times, Indra Dvaja Mahotsava was celebrated for 4 days after every successful military campaign.
Of the 8 modes of recitation, Ashta Vikriti that evolved in this land, Dvaja Pata is one.
Dvaja, a flag has been a part of the temple architecture from time immemorial. Dvaja stamba can be found in all temples.
For each nation, flag represents its unique identity, the country’s pride.
The Manusmrithi 9.285 says,
“Damage to dvaja is sacrilegious and the offender has to repair it or pay damages of 500 pana.”
There were a varieties of flags associated with different empires in the pre colonial era.
In the 18th and 19th century, India was under the British rule. Every Indian state had its own flags as it has been having from time immemorial.
Flag of British India
After the First War of Independence in 1857, the idea to have a common flag for India was mooted by the British. The first group of flags based in British symbols was called the star of India.
In the 20th century, as the freedom struggle gained momentum, many flags were created by Indian freedom fighters with symbols unique to Indian identity.
The partition of Bengal in 1905, gave birth to a new flag, called the Vande Mataram flag, aimed at uniting people of different caste, creed and community.
Vande Mataram flag, 1906
In 1907, Madam Bhikaji Cama tore her sari and unfurled it as a flag at Stuttgart Congress, Germany. The design and colour of her saree was adopted in a modified Vande Mataram flag, with a few changes.
Madam Bhikaji Cama
Modified Vande Mataram flag, 1907
In the year 1921, Gandhiji asked a person from Andhra Pradesh by name Pingali Venkayya, to design the flag.
Venkayya designed this flag of 3 colours, white on the top, green in the center and red at the bottom, with a Charka, a spinning wheel in the middle. It was popularly known as the Charka Flag.
This Flag was first hoisted on December 31, 1929, at the Lahore Congress Session on the banks of River Ravi, in Punjab, by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was under this flag that Gandhiji declared our goal of freedom movement as “Purna Swaraj”, complete independence.
It was this flag, designed by Pingali Venkayya from Andhra, which became the basis for the Indian National Flag later. The Charka changed into Dharma Chakra – wheel of Dharma and the red colour at the bottom became saffron at the top, with white in the middle and green at the bottom.
Pingali Venkayya with Mahatma Gandhi
In 1931, The Indian National Congress adopted an official flag called the Swaraj flag which was used until 1947. The flag had three colours representing all the three main communities with a Charka in the middle. The aim was to unite all communities.
Flag of Indian National Congress
The Azad Hind movement under Subhas Chandra Bose which represented the provincial government of a free India had their own flag from 1942 to 1945.
Azad Hind Flag Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji from Hyderabad, was an Indian Civil Service officer in the Prime Minister office in 1947.
Suraiya Badruddin Tayabji
She designed the present Indian National Flag with Chakra, from the Charka flag that Pingala Venkayya had earlier designed.
The Charka was replaced by Ashoka Chakra in the centre.
Before Independence, a committee was formed under Dr. Rajendra Prasad to decide upon independent India’s National Flag.
This Chakra Flag was approved, accepted and adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, and it became the official flag of the Dominion of India on 15th August 1947.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Indian National Congress Flag
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave a famous speech, Tryst with Destiny, about the Indian flag, on India’s First Independence Day – 15th August 1947.
“This flag that I have the honour to present you is a flag of freedom, not only for ourselves, but for all those who see it.”
“The flag represents a message of freedom and comradeship, a message that India wants to be friends with every country of the world”.
“This flag is of Indian independence.”
“Behold it is born. It is already sanctioned by the blood of martyred youths.
I call upon you gentle man, to raise and salute this flag of Indian independence.
In the name of this flag, I appeal to all lovers of freedom, all over the world,
to cooperate with this flag in freeing 1/5 of the human race”.
Nehru giving the historic speech
The 1st Indian National Flag hoisted on 15th August, 1947 at Fort St George. Chennai
The flag satisfied the four major communities, namely Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist, as each of the three colours, saffron, white, green and the symbol Ashoka chakra, represented the respective communities.
This colour has denoted Sacrifice. It denotes the sacrificing mentality of service, Seva, which was exemplified by the Sadhu and Rishi of this land, who had sacrificed personal comfort for the larger benefit of the world and its inhabitants. This saffron colour has been associated with these Sadhu and Rishi from timeless eons. Over time, it therefore has also come to be associated with Spirituality and the Hindu religion.
This colour in the flag stands for Peace, the principle which India has stood by from the time that the Veda were first composed, for the Veda conclude with the Shanti Mantra – Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti – Let Peace Prevail.
This band stands for the fertility and prosperity of the land, which India had in abundance.
The blue chakra, called the Dharma Chakra in the centre, denotes the qualities that govern the people and society of this land.
The tricolor flag of India thus conveys an image of a flourishing, prosperous, peace loving, friendly nation with people who abide by the principle of Dharma and are ever ready to be of help to all.
These are the basic reasons for the choice of these colours in the Flag.
Apart from this, these colours have inspired various thinkers and poets to ascribe further meanings for the tricolor, from the point of view of the needs of the times.
Colours of Indian Tricolur flag seen displayed in Nature
Source – A picture taken from Fort Ajinkyatara, Dist- Satara, Maharashtra – popular in social media
Alexander Kadakin was the Russian ambassador to India, between 1999 and 2004, and between 2009 until 2017, when he left his mortal coil. He was the longest serving Russian ambassador to India.
Kadakin was a great admirer of the Indian culture, cuisine, and its great and continuous history. He was fluent in Hindi, and was much appreciated for his knowledge about Indian society, and ethos. He had a keen interest in Indian films and had many books from India, including Panchatantra, Hitopadesha and Jungle book, as his childhood passion.
It will be apt here to quote his own words, on his passion for India.
“The other day, in Darjeeling, an idea struck my mind that the discovery of India is like scaling a Himalayan summit. The higher one ascends, the more the horizon broadens, and only at the top the breath-taking panorama unfolds in a short-lived drama of the morning. India has entered my life as a second homeland. It has become my Karma Bhumi, because I worked here for so many years, my Gyana Bhumi, because I have learnt a lot form here, my Tapa Bhumi (especially in the hot season), but most importantly – my Prema and Maitri Bhumi, because I have given a half of my heart to India and because me personally and the new Russia, which I have the honour to represent as Ambassador for the second time, have millions of good friends here.”
Kadakin plays on the word Tapa Bhumi, which he uses as a pun, to indicate the hot nature of climate in the Indian sub-continent. Tapa, which means penance, also means heat. This in short shows how well he understood the country and also its language-Hindi.
Kadakin was known by his pet name Shasha, among his admirers in India. Shasha is a name of the Moon divinity, Chandra Deva, in India.
So, while his pun on Tapa refers to the heat of the sun, his pet name indicates the coolness of the moon.
Kadakin first arrived in India on the “rainy day” of August 9th 1971, as he himself describes, when his country and India signed a landmark agreement of Indo-Russia friendship and cooperation treaty. This was the treaty was useful during the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971.
He was also in India as the Deputy Chief of the Mission, in 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up.
Later on he served as ambassador of Russian Federation to India in 1999, and served two terms.
His association with India started in 1971 and went on till 2017. A 46 years long friendship.
Kadakin passed away in New Delhi on 26th January, 2017, on the occasion of India’s Republic Day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then described him as a “glorious son of Russia, and a great friend of India.
A friend he was, as played a key role in furthering the Indo-Russia diplomatic relations. He was posthumously awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 2018, the third highest civilian award in India.
The Chanakyapuri road in Delhi has been named after him, in appreciation of Kadakin, who regarded India as his Karma Bhumi and Prema Bhumi.
A true Indophile indeed!
Chess is a game that India gave to the world. It was called Chaturanga in India because it comprised of 4 arms of the army – the infantry represented by the Pawn, the horse cavalry represented by the Knight, the elephant represented by the Rook and the chariot represented by the Bishop.
While the antiquity of Chaturanga lies in the mists of time, some of the legends suggest that this game was played even during the time period of Ramayana. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, the king of Lanka, is said to have played a game of war movement strategies.
Mandodari and Ravana playing chess – An Artist Impression
Chaturanga has been in India for a very long time. There is an interesting legend from Sindh to this end.
Rishi Shashi took the 64 squares of the chess board to the then king of Sindh, Raja Bhalit. He asked the king to give him 1 grain for the 1st square and double it to 2 grains for the 2nd and double it to 4 grains for the 3rd, and to repeat it and double it to 16 grains for the 5th square.
The king, considering this to be a childish request, conceded to this request. Little did he realize that by the 16th square, all the grains in his granary had to be put forth and by the 24th square, all the grains from his land had to be bequeathed to the Rishi.
This incident became the talk of the kingdom and the popularity of the 64 square game spread far and wide.
This game was then taken to Persia during the reign of King Cosroe 1 Noshirwan Adel of the Sasanian Dyansty who ruled between the years 531 and 579 CE.
The king who introduced Chess is named in Persian sources as Deva Sharma.
An ancient Persian painting depicts an Indian ambassador (shown in dark skin) introducing Chess to Persians in the Pre Islamic Sassanid court.
As a reciprocatory gesture, King Cosroe sent the Persian game Nard to India.
One of the distinct features that the modern game chess has with Persia is the final move in the game of chess, ‘Checkmate’, which comes from the Persian word, “shah Mat”, meaning ‘the king is dead’.
Another interesting reference to Chess can be taken from South India, in Kancheepuram. About 750 years ago, there lived a philosopher, poet par excellence called Swami Vedanta Desika. He composed two verses with each verse consisting of 32 Aksharas.
Chess board as a base on which 64 aksharas (letters) were laid one each on each square, was one such type of his composition. The cipher was the movement of the chess pieces.
For example, in a cipher based on the movement of the horse, each time a horse moved on the chess board in its unique pattern, those aksharas resulted in the birth of a new poem, with a new meaning.
One of the ciphers, encoded using Chess board and the moves of a horse but making a valid well meaning sentence
The encoded verse, placed on the chess board
The moves of the horse applied for decoding the verse
The decoded verse containing the same letters but in a different sentence with a different meaning
This sort of poetry writing is known as Chithra Bhandhana. It requires a high degree of felicity in a poet to be able to arrange letters thus on a 64 square board.
That the poet Swami Vedantha Desika had used the chess board as a frame for his poem and the unique L shaped movement of the horse as per the rules of present day chess game, clearly tells us that the chess board and the rules of the movement of the horse had been a common knowledge in this land even 800 years ago.
More on Chess in our book, Brand Bharat – Roots In India.
Thus we see that the game of chess, its components and usage have been an integral part of this land from North West to South, through the ages.
The ancient game, Chaturanga, modernised to chess, is a game that India thus shared with the modern world.
This game in early Samskrt works is also referred to as Kshatra Mruta. Kshatra comes from the word “Kshatriya”, meaning warrior. Kshatra here indicates the training session for the Kshatriya. Mruta comes from the word, “Mrtyu”, which means death. This was a game that taught war strategy to wipe out an enemy army.
In Amarakosa, this game is referred to as Ashta Pada, the 8 steps. There is an exclusive Samskrt text called Chaturanga Dipika which describes in detail the game of chess in its early form. It is from this text that we get the name Chaturanga.
Later in some of the other works, this game has also been referred to as Buddhibala, Buddhi meaning “Brain” and Bala, “Strength”. Such a name is indeed an apt tribute to the talent, intellect and logical reasoning that this game demands.
We all are familiar with the Emojis, the smileys of varied expressions that we exchange over the digital platform. These Emojis help us convey our emotions and is a popular form of communication. Emoji is all about speaking of emotion.
The word Emoji is borrowed from the Japanese, wherein E stands for an image and Moji for a character. Emojis are images that depict a character. They convey an idea or an emotion as an ideogram, and exist over various genres including facial expressions, common objects, places, weather and animals.
While Emoji is a modern term, these form of expressions existed over many centuries and millennia.
There are five main modes of written communication that had developed over the millennia.
An ideograph is a symbol that represents an idea or a concept, independent of language and specific words.
Pictograph is an ideograph that conveys its meaning through its physical resemblance to the physical object.
Hieroglyphs are a combination of alphabets, syllables and images, with many distinct characters forming a script, of communication.
Syllabic form of communication consists of specific syllables conveying a meaning.
Alphabetic form of communication, consists of specific alphabets, through which words and sentences are formed, giving form to a language through which one communicates.
It is also interesting to known that emojis were also used in ancient India.
The ancient Indian civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro had used ideograms. Thus this way of expression with ideograms was practiced by Indians 5000 years back itself. This method of communication is now known as Rebus.
Meluhha is the Sumerian name of a prominent trading partner of Sumer. The historians most commonly associate them with the Sindhu Sarasvati Civilization. In Samskrt and the scripts of this civilization, they were known as Mlechha, dating around 3000 BCE. Mlechha hieroglyphs document ancient trade on Tin Road from Malhar, Uttar Pradesh, India to Haifa, an ancient port of Israel. The script transcribes Proto-Indian speech of Mlechha language glosses. Rebus cipher of Mlechha provide plaintext readings of hieroglyphs and prove that cipher text rebus renderings detail traded resources and processes of ancient times, mostly stone, mineral, metal and alloyed artifacts as catalogs in Mlechha language.
Dr. S Kalyanaraman has done pioneering work on this, and has documented the same in his book, Indus Script.
Dr. S. Kalayanaraman
Epigraphia Indus Script
This is what the great poet Kalidasa in his work Raghuvamsa speaks about how communication should be. In this work, there is an invocation addressed to Parvati Parameshwara, where he asks them for blessing so that he can communicate what he wants to.
The person who wants to communicate has a three step process,
The person who receives the message has also a three step process
So what the great poet Kalidasa is asking is, to give him felicity to communicate and reach his message to the receiver of communication at all three levels.
What we call modern understanding has been understood and sought as a blessing to communicate.
This is the same thing that the Tamil poet, Kamban who wrote Ramayana, popularly known as Kambaramayanam.
Today, in the smartphone world, we are reapplying the same method of communication and giving it a new name, a more current name and calling it Emoji. This form of communication has come a full circle in 5000 years.
World Emoji Day is celebrated every year on July 17th, with Emoji events and programs. On this Emoji day let us know that this form of communication has existed across times and across places, and popularize it with ever new Emoji across the digital platform.