Smart Cities

Smart cities

The concept of Smart Cities is not alien to this land. Smart Cities are part of the ethos of this land. The ancient Indian university towns like Takshashila and Nalanda were Smart Cities of those times.

India is embarking on an ambitious plan of building 100 Smart Cities in the coming decade.

Concepts from tradition to build Smart Cities

Our Tradition could provide lessons to incorporate sustainable time tested ideas in these upcoming Smart Cities.

What makes a Smart City?

Smart City is not just about commercial spaces, residential areas, public transports, basic amenities, hospitals, schools, colleges, shopping malls, car parkings, and manicured gardens; it is lot more….

A Smart City should have a knowledge commune, water harnessing, hinterland development and has to be ecologically sustainable and environment friendly. It has to be an alignment of all this. In other words, it has to be a skilled centre.

The present government policy being a mix of tradition with modernity, these would bring in the right balance.

Indian Architecture

The science of Indian architecture is based on the idea of living in harmony with all energies.

Bound in Boundless, Space in Space

Space is boundless. We have created bounds on the boundless.


It is the role of the Architect to create spaces in space for our dwellings.The people who built cities, dwellings and habitats were called Vishvakarma. Vishva means ‘World’ and Karma means ‘Action’. Vishvakarma were those who built the world for us to live in.

More on Indian Architecture in our work ‘Ethos of Indian Architecture’.


Click on Image to read the Book

The Vishvakarma built these cities to cater to the harmonious way of living, based on the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, meaning, ‘One World Family’.


Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam

Deva means glowing and Vasu means earth, a dwelling place, where you live in a glowing divine way and where there is a purpose to life. Kutumbhakam means Family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam is living together as family in bond, bandhan.

Chaturvedi Mangalam

Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes were the Smart Cities of yore, where there was harmony with knowledgeable living.

college classroom (1)

Smart Cities of Yore, harmony with knowledgeable living

 Chatur means four and Vedi is knowledge, Vidya. It need not be necessarily looked at as four Veda, but Vidya as a whole.

It is about knowledge, vidya, coming from all four directions.  Mangalam means auspicious.

Ano bhadra katavo yanto vishwatah –Rig Veda

Let noble thoughts come from all directions

Noble thoughts from all directions

Chaturvedi Mangalam were truly the centres of auspiciousness. They were early models of knowledgeable Smart Cities, built on the wholistic ethos of Indian Architecture, based on the principles of Swasthi Rasthu, Healthy, Pushti Rasthu, Prosperous and Tushti Rasthu, Happiness.


 4 pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam

  1. Society
  2. Produce – Industry and Agriculture
  3. Knowledge and Administration
  4. Environment Ecology


4 Pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam

These 4 should formed the pillars for Chaturvedi Mangalam. The same 4 are valid today for the Smart Cities.


One of the key features of these ancient Smart Cities was that 1/6th of the landspread was covered by water. This facilitated water harnessing.

India is a tropical country and temperatures are high 6 months of year. This 1/6th coverage of the land with water gave the land enough humidity throughout the year. This humidity kept down the temperature of the landscape and made the land salubrious for the people to live in.

This water body also provided the right inputs for greenery and horticulture in these Smart Cities.

Hinterland development

Hinterland Development was another aspect of the ancient Smart Cities, for it is the hinterland that provides basic necessities for Smart Cities like water, vegetables, support services and other consumables.

Components of Smart City, A Model


Chaturvedi Kingdoms

In days of yore, few of the noble kings recognized the need for Smart Cities in their kingdoms, for their times and established Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes. These Knowledge Communes, Smart City were where people of knowledge lived and gave guidance for sustainable living. This knowledge was not just in Veda Samhita, but was applied in a range of subjects like architecture, agriculture, water management, languages, culture, paintings, fine arts, handicrafts, in technical expertise, sciences, mathematics and astronomy, among a whole range of other subjects like this.

In Europe and America

In the later renaissance period in Europe and in 20th century America, one of the defining features was the establishing of University Towns which were the modern Knowledge Communes. These knowledge communes gave ideas, inputs and directions for the growth of the modern world.

Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities made India prosperous

Just as Europe and America realized the need of knowledge communes to spur think and growth, the kings and people of yore in India had established Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities across centuries, over millennia, across the length and breath of the country.

When India was prosperous from ancient to medieval ages, it was these Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes which gave directions, ideas and vision for the land, kept the land prosperous, sustainable with its culture, practices and traditions, even when kings and kingdoms were in decline.

100 smart cities being planned

As India is now planning 100 Smart Cities, it will be prudent to have Chaturvedi Mangalam / Knowledge Commune enclaves as an integral part of the Smart Cities, which would not only give the balance, but really give them the edge of being Smart Cities.


True Yoga

This is through yoga. The root word for Yoga, is Yug, Yuga, meaning to align, Yoke, join. Thus Yoga is not just asanas but it is a factor of aligning and joining all aspects together in harmony, on the lines of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam.

                    10 11

 An analogy of Cattle Yoke used to join two bulls

This is being smart. This is the true embodiment of Smart City. This is wholesome yoga that will bring Harmony and Happiness.

Happiness is not just about Quality and Quantity, but the overall ambience which humans create in coordination with Nature.



Holi is the festival that evokes colour and gaiety. The word “Holi” can be traced back to Holika, the sister of King Hiranyakashyapu and the aunt of Prahalada.

When Holika tried to burn Prahalada by sitting him on her lap, she got burnt instead and Prahalada escaped unscathed.

All this goes in the hazy past of the legends of the land. This holy festival celebrated by Krishna with the Gopi in Vrindavan, Mathura and later in Dwaraka is part of the folklore, paintings and poetry.

Holi is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Phalguna. It is also called as Phalguni festival. This process to vernal equinox when the sun travels in north crosses the equator.

Akbar celebrates Holi

Akbar celebrating Holi with his courtiers and commons is a part of the folklore and paintings of this land.

Akbar’s chronicler, Abul Fazl Ibn Mubarak who wrote the book AIn- i – Akbari who was one of the 9 gems in the court of Akbar vividly writes about Akbar collecting the holy play nozzle spout, pichkari.

He writes, “Shehansha bustche Shudam Aviyar minhal mustamber Qabl e jashn e fam”, meaning the emperor started collecting pichkari, the Holi nozzle in different designs, well before the start of Holi.

Shahjahan also plays Holi

Akbar’s son Shahjahan was also big time into playing Holi with his courtiers and the commoners.

The French traveler, Franko Bernier who visited the court of Shahjahan speaks about this.

Franko Bernier was quite taken in by the colours of Holi, and how the royalty and commoner mixed on this day in playing Holi.

Holika Dahan

One of the high points of the holy festivities was the Holi ka dahan, also referred to as ‘Dhulandi’, where a bon fire was raised in which everyone participated, while the bon fire idea, dahan may have started with Holika being burnt in it. Later through the ages, the Dahan came to symbolize the collective burning of ill will on this occasion of Holi.

Different types of Holi celebration

In Central India, in places like southern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Holi takes on one more flavor in which we have lattmar, where the women symbolically beat the men with lathi, sticks and men shield themselves.

Sir Aldus Huxley, the British philosopher, while describing the various festivals of India, describes Holi as the ‘subcontinent festival of festivals’.

Phag mahotsav

Phag mahotsav is celebrated more in Rajasthan area.

Holla Mohalla

It is an occasion where the Sikhs exhibit their skills in battle dramas. The word Mohalla in Punjab means procession of Army column accompanied by drums, people carrying the army flags, basically an army march to drum beats and festoons.

Celebrate Holi in true organic manner

In the last few decades, the colours used in the Holi festivities have a lot of chemicals in it, bringing about injury to skin, persons and animals. It will always be safe to play Holi with organic colours of chandan, haldi, to enjoy Holi in its true organic manner.

Every region has had its mini form of Holi celebrations, but unfortunately in the last few decades, it has degenerated to loud blaring of film songs.



Bhogi is a festival in South India, celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and occurs on the same day as Lohri in North India.

The word “Bhogi” comes from Bhog, meaning “bountiful harvest”. India has had 3 harvests, 3 Bhog every year through the ages.

During the medieval times, the living conditions in Europe were very tough from many perspectives, including the climatic conditions, due to which only one harvest was possible in a year.

On the other hand, in the local literature of this land, in different vernacular languages, the capability of this land to yield three harvests or Bhog, is discussed frequently. Even to date, the term “three Bhog”, continues to be the yardstick to measure the industrious nature of the agriculturist and the yield of this land.

  Bhogi Harvest

Fertile lands of India

Not only three harvests a year but the farmers also practiced multi-cropping which resulted in bounties of food and other agricultural products such as cotton, indigo, spices.

Ringing out the old and ringing in the new

Prior to the Bhogi day, every household is cleaned of its cobwebs. All the unwanted stuff is taken out, accumulated and burnt as Bon fire at sunrise on Bhogi morning. Much as the concept of spring cleaning in England and Europe.

This cleaning was significant for this Bhogi day for the next day of Makara Sankranthi marked a new beginning with the sun entering the Makara zodiac and warmer days start from thereon. The days also start getting longer in Northern Hemisphere, conducive to agriculture and other activity. Bhogi represents ringing out the old and ringing in the new.

bon fire

Bhogi Bon Fire

Marriage of Andal

In Tamil Nadu, Bhogi is also celebrated as the marriage of Andal with Lord Ranganatha. Andal was a poetess of Bhakti genre. Andal’s 30 days of prayers & divine poetry culminated on Bhogi and Her wedding is celebrated with feast in every Vishnu temple of Tamil Nadu. Her poetry is called Tiruppavai. Tiru means “holy, noble, good” and Pavai means “maiden, doll”.

 Tiruppavai is a garland of poetry by a maiden of noble thoughts.



Chappan Bhog – Orissa

 The word Bhogi has resonance in Orissa too. In the Puri Jagannath temple, Lord Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra are daily offered Chappan Bhog, i.e. 56 varieties of sweets and foods as offering. Here, the word bhog implies the whole hearted offering for the enjoyment of the Lord. Bhog also means “to enjoy to eat”.

 chappan bhog

Chappan Bhog

Bhogali Bihu-Assam

In Assam, the harvest festival is called Bhogali Bihu.

Bohali Bihu

Bohali Bihu being celebrated in Assam

 Bohali Bihu is celebrated in Assam on 14th or 15th of January.

We see that, Bhogi is a wholesome festival that covers the whole of this land of India.

Brand Bharat


Bharatha – A land of people who relish knowledge

India had a pride of place in the ancient and medieval world. This land was called Bharatha, Bha meaning light and Ratha meaning ‘to relish’. Bharatha was the land of people who relished knowledge.

1 Bharatha

Indian Prosperity

The Indian literature, right from the Veda, to the Tamil Sangam literature, speak of India as a land of prosperity. These bodies of literature describe a civilization that was prosperous. They present a picture of a society that was rich in material, cultural and spiritual wealth. The economy of the land was thriving. There was wide spread trade. Arts and culture were patronized and well established.     The testimony to this prosperity is given by Marco Polo, a Venetian visitor to India in 1290 CE. He describes India in his writings as “the most prosperous of all, in the world he had seen.”


Marco Polo

What gave India such a Brand Image of the most prosperous land, a sone ki chidiya?

Some are brands of goods that went from India, world over.   Some are brands of thoughts and practices, with roots in India.   Some are brands created by the image of India, for the world.   These brands of yore created openings, not just in the field of trade but also in the very spread of thought and thought process. This is something that India can be rightfully proud of.   For, it is thought process that shapes the evolution of thought, sciences, practices and lifestyle, which in turn, have a bearing on the pace of evolution of mankind.   If there are a few civilizations or nations that can proudly say that it has offered something to the evolution of the thought process of humanity, then the Indian civilization does earn a pride of place, perhaps right on top.

Roots In India

The major aspects that make a prosperous civilization such as Education, Maths, Sciences, Languages, Music and Lifestyle, had their roots in India. They went on to create the Brand Bharat in the eyes of the world.

Signs of Brand Bharat

Some of the other signs of Bharat which became a brand, include

  1. Plentiful and Varieties of Food
  2. Abundance of Water and Water Harnessing
  3. Ganga
  4. Knowledge
  5. Kama Sutra
  6. Yoga
  7. Sports – Chess, Polo, Snooker, Badminton,

to list just a few.

Trading Giant

India was a leader in trade, having 25 % to 30 % share in World Trade in Ancient and Medieval times all the way upto 1800s.

6 India's trade

Made in India – The Big Five

India had many produces to its credit that made it an economic powerhouse. The 5 main products that were manufactured in India were Iron and Steel, Zinc, Cotton, Indigo, Sugar and Spice.


The Five Ts – The Principles

They were able to sustain the brands, through many centuries and millennia, with the diligent practice of the 5Ts.

T Principles
Tradition Understanding and Following Tradition
Talent Skilled along with Quest and Innovation
Technology Producing but Sustaining Nature
Trade Trading, but not for Greed
Truth Living with Truth – The Cosmic Principle, Dharma

Lost to Plunder

Unfortunately, India lost its prosperity to wave after wave of plunder, first from near west and later from the far west in the name of colonisation, which destroyed Brand Bharat. But all is not lost. India may have lost a lot of wealth she had generated. But she has not lost the grace of Nature that can help her build similar wealth in no time, the way the earlier generations had done. All India needs, is to understand her strengths and deploy them suitably. More on Prosperity, Plunder and Rejuvenation of India, in our book ‘You Turn India’.


Bharath Gyan

Bharath Gyan is an endeavour to bridge the old and the new worlds through knowledge from the past, for the present and future. Founded by the couple, D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari and disseminated by The Art of Living of H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bharath Gyan is 15 years of compilation of the knowledge and ethos of India from an interdisciplinary and wholistic perspective. “Brand Bharat”, as conceptualized by the Hari couple, paints the true picture of India and the pride of place India held among the comity of civilizations. It delves into the brands that had kept it so, for millennium after millennium. Brand Bharat leaves us with a new image of India, a new outlook on prosperity and a new sense of pride at being an Indian. More, in our work, ‘Brand Bharat’ from the ‘Autobiography of India’ series.


New Year – New Beginning – New Hopes

New Year is the time to look forward as well as back at what we have come through – the good and the not so good.

January and Janus

The word January comes from the Roman divinity, Janus with 2 heads – one which looks forward and one which looks back.



Stock Taking

It is a time we pause, take stock to march forward.

Stock Taking

In Animals too

It is like the time when the molting snake sheds its old skin, the past and wriggles out with a new skin to the next phase out its life.


Snake shedding its old skin

It is like how the American eagle sheds its old feathers and beak, gains new ones for its next phase of life.

This shedding of the past and adopting the new is not just to humans and calendars but to animals too as we see here.

In the Indian ethos we have festivals such as Lori in Punjab where the old articles are burnt in the bonfire. We see the same practice in Deep South in Tamil Nadu where the old things are discarded in the bon fire during Bhogi.

Ringing out the Old and Ringing in the New

This is one way of symbolically ringing out the old and ringing in the new. Be it the temple bells or church bells symbolize this ringing out the old and ringing in of the new.


Change through Celebration

So New Year is now just a calendar but also harbinger of change. Change happens through a revolution which is generally violent. Change can happen through celebration.

Revolution – Change Through Celebration

So let us welcome this New Year, this Change, with Celebration.