International Chess Day

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.

2

From Ramayana period

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.

1

Mandodari and Ravana playing chess – An Artist Impression

A Sindhi Legend

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.

                          
          Raja Bhalit                        Rishi Shashi
Rishi Shashi                                                Raja Bhalit

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.

Chess1Chess2

               Chess3Chess4

This incident became the talk of the kingdom and the popularity of the 64 square game spread far and wide.

The Persian Connect

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.

As a reciprocatory gesture, he 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 come from the Persian word, “shah Mat”, meaning ‘the king is dead’.

king

Vedanta Desika

Another interesting reference to Chess can be taken from South India, in Kancheepuram. About 800 years ago, there lived a philosopher, poet par excellence called Swami Vedanta Desika. He composed a poem of 64 aksharas (letters), which was meant to be laid one each on each square of the chess board.

Vedantha Desika

Vedantha Desika

Each time a horse moved on the chess board in its unique pattern, those aksharas resulted in the birth of a new poem. This was a sort of poetry writing which is known as Chithra Bhandhana.

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.

Chess poetry

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.

Karkidakam Masam

Karkidakam is a month in the Malayalam Calendar, which corresponds to the month July-August.

Period of Monsoon in India

The word Karkidakam refers to the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the period when the Sun hovers over the Tropic of Capricorn, and the monsoon rains have fully set in the Indian Sub-Continent. There are incessant rains all across the country, and especially in the state of Kerala.

               1  2

Monsoon Rains in India

In the Ramayana

In the Ramayana text, there is mention of this annual rainy season period. In the year 5076 BCE, Sugreeva and his army had to wait for a couple of months before starting their march to Lanka, because it was the rainy season. This shows that this rain has been annual and regular feature of India, for over 7100 years and more.

Time to Read Traditional Scriptures

The people thus mostly spend their time indoors and from there has been an ancient practice to read and listen to the traditional scriptures, like Ramayana, Purana and so on.

In the Malayalam Calendar, this month is also called Ramayana Masam, when people undertake a Parayana, a devout reading of Ramayana. People start the Parayana on the first day of the month, and continue through all the days, and the reading is finished by the time this month, Karkidakam Masam ends.

3

Karkidakam Masam, the period when the Ramayana is read

Historical Rama

Ramayana is a scripture that has been innate to the cultural ethos of this land, and has influenced many civilizations, across many millennia.

Rama, while is a Divinity of millions and crores of Hindus all over the world, has also been believed through the ages to be a historic King of India who ruled from Ayodhya.

In the last 300 years, Rama was dismissed as a mythical figure, dismissing the ancient, traditional history of India. Ever since then, the issue of the acceptance of Rama as one of the most influential, historical king of this land, has been one of the questions in front of young India.

Is Rama Historical? Is Ramayana a historical account or just a story?

Our Work

In our trilogy on Rama, which includes “Historical Rama”, “Ramayana in Lanka” and “Ayodhya – War and Peace”, we prove the historicity of Rama, using an interdisciplinary and integrated, logical, rational and scientific approach.

The work ‘Historical Rama”, has also been made into a Film, in four languages – English, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil.

4

Visit www.bharathgyan.com to know more about these products

Also See:

This Hangout deals with the ideal Administration during the reign of Rama.

This short film highlights the historicity of Rama from different perspectives, corroborating data from the sky charts available in the texts, the legend of the land, geography and science. Watch it. Share it. It’s your history.

This film brings to light the layers of bridge construction and the month and the year when the Rama Setu was built.

Relish the Historicity

On this occasion of Karkidakam Masam, these are our humble offerings, through which you can understand Rama from a historical angle and appreciate the fact that Rama, a hero of the land of India, was indeed historical.

Reading the story of Rama, from this sense of historicity, we can enjoy the story of Rama, with added relish.

World Snake Day

1

Revered and Feared

Snakes are both feared and revered. While the venom of a snake can take away one’s life, venom is also collected to counter poison in treatments.

1

Snake venom being extracted

Snake venom being extracted

Snakes are diverse, found across the world, except in Antarctica. There are around 3000 species of snakes in the world, living in diverse ecosystems like deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and oceans.

However, it is to be noted that only about 24% of world’s snakes are poisonous. Moreover, maximum snake bites have happened only when humans stepped on these creatures.

Snakes are ecological predators that keep the rodent population in check.

A day for snakes

World Snake Day is an occasion to study and protect these creatures, considered dangerous, but nevertheless admired. On this day, many snake conservationist hope to create awareness among people and dispel their fears and misunderstanding about this marvellous reptile. Many programs, including seminars, talks and plays are held for the same.

1

Snake, a popular concept

A Snake is a popular concept across all ancient civilizations. The Mediterranean civilizations, the Indians, the Cambodians and the Mayans revere the concept of a snake.

In Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean coastal plains, a Phoenician deity called Eshmum, the God of Medicine has serpent for his symbol.

2

The symbol of professional medicine

3

God Eshmum holding a stick with coiled snake

In Egypt

In the Egyptian civilization snake was attributed with life giving powers, particularly due to its nature of shedding skin and thereby exhibiting a “New Body” continually.

In India

In India, snakes are adored along with many Divinities. Lord Vishnu’s couch is a snake. Lord Shiva wears snake as an ornament. Lord Ganesha has a snake for the sacred thread.

Anantha, Infinity

Narayana, the primordial divinity, who lies in the cosmic water in a quiescent state, is always depicted in a reclining form on the bed of a coiled snake called Adi Sesha in literature, sculpture and all other art forms.

This multihooded snake represents Infinity in the ancient Indian thought and perhaps goes to form the basis for the symbol  for infinity and the root for the word “infinite” too.

17

Anantha, Infinity

Anantha denotes the infinite number of cycles of Creation, Dissolution and Recreation of the Universe.

More on this in our book and Film, Creation – Srishti Vignana.

5

Vasuki, Alertness

Shiva wears a snake around his neck as an ornament, which is known as Shankarabaram, and which symbolizes alertness.

18

 Lord Shiva wearing snake as garland

In Carnatic music, there is Ragam called Shakamabarnam. Like the way snake slithers and moves, the Raga intertwines.

Intertwined Snakes in Villages

The fusion of two giving rise to life is reflected in the basic building block of every life form, namely the DNA.

The double helical, intertwined structure of the DNA reflects this aspect of the separate but inseparable components of life. Shiva – Shakthi as Ardha Nari represent the source of life, Shiva being the potential for manifestation for life with Shakthi being the trigger and energy behind the creation of life.

Many would have noticed small stone idols of double helical intertwined snake under trees in temples and villages in India, which represent Shiva and Shakthi. There is an age old custom in India where people pray to this idol of a double helical snake in order to beget a child.

7

                                DNA                       Praying to double helical Naga

More on this in our book and film, Understanding Shiva.

        8

This double helical intertwined snake represents the Indian view and understanding of Shiva and Shakthi and their roles in creation, procreation and re-creation.

Naga Panchami

Nag Panchami is a festival celebrated in the month of Aashada or Shravan as per the Indian calendar, dedicated to snakes. This festival is also known as Garuda Panchami, Garuda being an eagle.

9

Eagle and Snake, Arch Enemies

Both snake and eagle are arch enemies. How come there is a festival on the same day for these 2 arch rivals?

 More on this in our article on Naga Panchami:

https://bharathgyanblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/naga-panchami-garuda-panchami/

In Inca Civilization

In the ancient American Inca civilization too, they worshipped Naga and Garuda.

Carlos A.Irigoyen Forno, of Peru is a descendent of the Incas of South America.

He too has researched on this subject and his statement based on his research reads as,

The Incas, who are part of the tribal population of Peru, share many things in common with Hindus; they have the same belief in Sun and Moon worship, besides worshipping Garuda and Snake”.

More on this in our book – 2012 – The Real Story.

Kaliya, Pollution

The story of Kaliya Nardhan, where Krishna subdues and dances on the snake Kaliya is one of the popular stories around Krishna’s childhood.

Krishna and His friends were grazing their cows when one of the cows went to the riverside to drink water from the river Yamuna. Soon it dropped dead from water poisoning.

Krishna’s uncle Kamsa had been sending his emissaries on and off to kill Krishna and they too had tried various methods to kill Him, but in vain. So, many thought that this must be another ploy of Kamsa but soon realized that the culprit behind the poisoning of the Yamuna was Kaliya, the dreaded Naga, snake.

The friendly waters of the Yamuna soon became green and nobody could go near the Yamuna any longer. Krishna seized of this, entered the water to seek out and rout out Kaliya.

The people of Braj were shocked and anxious at Krishna’s dare. Krishna’s father Nandagopa and mother Yashoda came running in panic, worried about what would happen to their dear son. The whole village assembled on the banks of the river and everyone started pleading with Krishna to return to the shore.

Krishna however waded further and sought out Kaliya. A fierce struggle ensued between Kaliya and Krishna. At one point, both Krishna and Kaliya disappeared beneath the waters. People on the bank prayed with bated breath.

Krishna suddenly emerged from the waters, dancing on the hood of the fierce Kaliya, holding Kaliya’s tail in His hand.

Seeing her husband in this plight, Kaliya’s wife emerged from the waters and pleaded with Krishna, not to harm Kaliya but to let them off, so that they could go away somewhere far off and not disturb the people of Braj anymore.

Krishna let Kaliya and his family off and peace returned to Braj. The waters of the Yamuna sparkled once again. Krishna and His friends returned to their favourite pastime of grazing and playing by the Yamuna.

This incident of Krishna subduing Kaliya has come down as Kalinga Nardhana, one of the popular tales around Krishna’s childhood.

It has found a place in everyone’s heart and in almost all homes in India through millennia in some form of art or the other, including song and dance.

This legend of Kaliya has to be understood and internalized beyond the miracle and beauty of Krishna’s dance on the hood of a venomous snake.

10

Krishna dancing on Kaliya

Even today, there are people who continue to poison our waters with modern day pollutants and garbage. They are the “Kaliya” of today, who need to be identified and suitable steps taken to rescue our water bodies from the inconsiderate acts of such Kaliya.

Aghasura

Krishna is also slays another snake, Aghasura, during His childhood. Aghasura, associated with the form of a huge snake, was a friend of Bakasura and Putana and was dispatched by Kamsa to poison and kill Krishna when He was a child. Krishna in turn slays this Asura snake.

11

Krishna and Aghasura, Image Courtesy – Iskcon

More on this in our book, Historical Krishna.

Samudra Manthan

Another legend relating to a snake ingrained in the cultural fabric of this land is the Samudra Manthan. When Deva and Asura decided to churn the Ocean, they used a snake called Vasuki as rope to move the Mandara peak, to secure Amrita.

19

Samudra Manthan

In Cambodia

This Samudra Manthan legend has found a place even in other countries. The capital city of the then Cambodian Khemer kingdom was designed and built on the concept of Samudra Manthan.

6

The huge snake idol in Cambodia

In Thailand

In the new airport named Suvarana Bhumi in Thailand, Bangkok, the central theme is of a gigantic Samudra Manthan.

15

Samudra Manthan in Suvarna Bhumi Airport

In Buddhism

The snake is also revered in Buddhism. At Bodha Gaya, Buddha is shown as sitting on the coils of a snake, Mucalinda. The serpent is supposed to have protected Buddha from the elements of Nature.

16

Buddha statue at Bodha Gaya

In Christianity

In Christianity however, snake is considered evil. A snake is said to have tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple.

17

A snake tempting Eve

In Islam

Similarly, in Islam, a snake symbolizes struggle with misfortune and remorse.

Multidimensional

Like this, the snakes symbolize positive factors like fertility, protection, healing, transformation, alertness, infinity. They also represent negative factors like pollutants, temptation, misfortune and other qualities, based on one’s belief. These contrary values goes to show the multidimensionality of snakes viewed from the radars of different civilizations and faith.

Cannot ignore snakes

It can be seen that, snakes are not just physically everywhere, but seem to pervade almost every thought, land, civilization and religion.

We just cannot ignore snakes and more so on this Snake Day.

National Plastic Surgery Day

Plastic Surgery Day

Plastic Surgery is a branch of medical science which involves the surgical process of restoration, reconstruction or alteration of a part of a human body.

National Plastic Surgery Day is observed every year on July 15th, to create awareness on the science of Plastic Surgery.

In today’s world, the purpose of plastic surgery has become more of cosmetic in nature.

Did you know that the science of Plastic surgery had its roots in India? And for a very different reason.

In this case, the roots lay in the human nose.

Surpanaka’s Shaming

The year was 5076 BCE, about 7100 years ago. It was in the deep and dense forests of Dandakaranya. Danda means to punish and Aranya means forest. Dandakaranya got its name as it was a harsh and punishing forest. It is the stretch of forest that used to cover Central India, vestiges of which are still found smattering the central landscape of India.

Rama, the young and handsome, exiled prince of Ayodhya, with his, beautiful wife Sita and ever vigilant younger brother Lakshmana had made this forest their home during their 14 year exile.

This Dandakaranya forest was part of the kingdom of Lanka, ruled by the fearsome Rakshasa king Ravana.

Once, while wandering through the Dandakaranya forest, Surpanaka, the Rakshasa sister of Ravana spotted Rama and Lakshmana with Sita. Bewitched by Rama’s radiant looks, she assumes the form of a beautiful damsel and proposes to Rama. Rama turns down her proposal and asks her to check with Lakshmana instead. When Lakshmana also declines, Surpanaka loses her cool, her assumed beautiful form and charges towards Sita to harm her out of jealousy.

At this juncture, Lakshmana pulls out his sword and chops Surpanaka’s nose. Mind you, he does not maim her in any other way other than chopping off her nose to shame her. This incident made her incite Ravana into kidnapping Sita, eventually leading to Rama waging a war on Lanka and killing Ravana inorder to rescue Sita.

1

The place where this shaming of Surpanaka by a Nose cut took place, came to be called Nasik, from nas for Nose.

More on this in our book, Ramayana in Lanka.

1

The act of shaming, in the various languages of India, literally translates to a “Nose Cut”, for example Naak kaatna in Hindi. Perhaps it has its contextual roots in this incident from 7100 years ago.

But if this was a common form of shaming, 7100 years ago, it implies that a Nose cut for shaming or adultery must have had its roots even before 7100 years ago.

But why cut the nose for shaming? What was the rationale?

We need to go forward in time to 1790s to see the reason.

Sepoy’s Shaming

In August 1794, The Madras Gazette carried an incredible story.

2

It was about an Indian cartman and 4 Indian sepoys who were fighting as part of the British army against their own brethren. These 5 men were captured by Tipu Sultan’s army and their noses were chopped off as a sign of infidelity to their motherland.

These 5 men went to the house of a potter in Pune, who surgically fixed their noses and they walked out with repaired noses.

3

It was about an Indian cartman and 4 Indian sepoys who were fighting as part of the British army against their own brethren. These 5 men were captured by Tipu Sultan’s army and their noses were chopped off as a sign of infidelity to their motherland.

These 5 men went to the house of a potter in Pune, who surgically fixed their noses and they walked out with repaired noses.

4

The surgeon’s name was mentioned as Maratta Vaidya Kumhar – Maratta as Pune was the land of the Marathas, Vaidya since he was a man of medicine, a surgeon and Kumhar as he was a potter by birth.

This was reported by two travelling British doctors – James Findley and Thomas Cruso who, during their travels, were astounded to witness such a new, advanced surgery unknown to the world, being done in the house of a potter. They came to Madras, which was then the centre of British power in India and wrote this article in The Madras Gazette. This article was later reproduced in The Gentleman’s magazine, a popular magazine of London, in October 1794.

5

The First Rhinoplasty of the West

This article fired the mind of young 30 year old surgeon, J.C. Carpue. He got hooked onto the story, collected more data from Indian traders in England and also from the records of two other Italian surgeons, who had earlier tried this procedure with information from Indian traders in Italy.

Armed with this information, Dr. J.C. Carpue performed the first nose surgery, Rhinoplasty operation on October 23, 1814 in England.

6

The fact that the procedure of Rhinoplasty surgery was an Indian offering to the world, among many other surgeries, has been expressed by Prof. A.A. MacDonell and Sir. William Hunter of the University of Glasgow.

7

8

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Museum in Melbourne too acknowledges the source of Rhinoplasty, plastic surgery, to have been India, 2000 years ago. While commenting how the practice of surgery, especially plastic surgery grew due to the World War I, the Museum states that India had already been practicing these surgeries about 2000 years before this period too. That it was a common enough surgery in India then.

9

10

Nose Surgery Became the Forerunner for Plastic Surgery

This form of Nose surgery, had been practised in India for many centuries. It became the forerunner for Plastic Surgery.

The father of surgical procedures in India was Susruta.

11

More on this in our book, Brand Bharat – Roots in India.

The knowledge of Indian medicine, Ayurveda, travelled and reached far off lands to register India as a land of medicinal sciences.

Along with this, the science of Rhinoplasty and Plastic Surgery also travelled.

On this Plastic Surgery Day, let us remember this contribution of India to the world.

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla - birth

Nikola Tesla – Swami Vivekananda – Veda Connect

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943), born in Serbia, was the genius who lit the world, whose discoveries in the field of alternating polyphase current electricity, propelled the United States of America and the rest of the world too, into the Modern Industrial Era.

In Magnetic Science, the Magnetic Flux Density unit of measure is called Tesla.

1

Nikola Tesla in turn had taken inspiration from Swami Vivekananda and the Veda for his world acclaimed work.

Nikola Tesla Meets Swami Vivekananda

Nikola Tesla had met Swami Vivekananda in 1895. The meeting was arranged by French actress Sarah Bernhardt.

Sarah Bernhardt, playing the part of ‘Iziel’ in a play of the same name, which was a French version about the life of Buddha, saw Swami Vivekananda in the audience. Impressed by the Swami, she organized a meeting for him, which was attended by Nikola Tesla too.

2

Nikola Tesla Drawn Towards Veda

Swami Vivekananda’s effect on Nikola Tesla was so great that he became a vegetarian and began using Samskrt words and concepts in his work.

Nikola Tesla was very much impressed by the Samkhya cosmogony and the theory of cycles given in the Vedic text. He was particularly struck by the resemblance between the Samkhya theory of matter and energy and that of modern physics.

On 13th February 1896, Swami Vivekananda had written, in a letter to a friend,

3

Nikola Tesla’s View of Prana and Akasa

While working on Force and Matter, Nikola Tesla studied the concept of Prana and Akasha which gave him a new perspective to the Universe. He started viewing the world in terms of frequencies and energy, which resulted in him establishing his concepts on energy.

In an article, “Man’s Greatest Achievement”, published in 1907, Nikola Tesla wrote about Prana and Akasa.

4

Swami Vivekananda too was eager to see Nikola Tesla’s theory at work. He writes in one of his letters,

5

A Poser On the Unity OF PRANA AND AKASA

Swami Vivekananda had written,

“There is the unity of force, Prana; there is the unity of matter, called Akasha. Is there any unity to be found among them again? Can they be melded into one? Our modern science is mute here; it has not yet found its way out.” 

The mathematical proof of this principle came about ten years later when Albert Einstein published his paper on relativity and showed how matter and energy are inter-convertible.

Nikola Tesla and Vedic Thought

Nikola Tesla’s use of Vedic terminology provides a key, to understanding his view of electromagnetism and the nature of the universe.

Nikola Tesla is looked up to as one of the greatest scientist of all times. But, his connect with Indian knowledge is indeed thought provoking.

6