Indian National Congress

Blog _ Logo_v1

After the first ‘War of Independence” in 1857, wherein Indians put on a brave front, but lost to the British, the control of India was taken over by the British Raj from East India Company. There was much bitterness against the British in India, after this rebellion. The British administration sought to change Indian minds, and get support for its governance through English educated Indians. It wanted to form an organization of such Indians, who would be friendly to its policies and governance.

The Forming of Indian National Congress

With this goal in mind, A O Hume, a British Civil Servant embarked on the task of creating an organization by reaching out to the alumni of the Calcutta University. On 28th December 1885, Hume along with 72 Indians founded the Indian National Congress, to form a platform for Indian Public opinion. Hume assumed the office as the general secretary, and Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was elected President.

INC 1.jpg

The first session of the Indian National Congress, December 28th, 1885

Source: Wikipedia

The Initial years

In its Initial years, British hegemony was very much apparent in the activities of Indian National Congress, as it was not concerned by the real problems faced by Indians, such as poverty, and merely echoed the British position. The members of the Indian National Congress, failed to influence the Indian public opinion, and the ordinary people of India, were hardly impressed by its functioning.

3 Ps

Slowly and steadily, Indian National Congress became one of the principal opposition forces against the British Raj, as it took part in India’s Freedom struggle. Their main principles were the 3 Ps – Petition, Prayer and Protest.

The Change

With the passage of time, there was much unrest in India due to the misrule and plunder by the British administration. The general public opinion began to slowly reflect in the minds of the congress members, as a wave of nationalism swept the whole country.  Now there arose a desire in the congressmen to play an active role in governing their country, even though as a part of the British Government. Many prominent freedom fighters, like Dadabhai Naoroji, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Gopala Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi found their way to its ranks.

INC 2

Dadabhai Naoroji

“Lal Pal Bal”

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 Maharahstra, and Pal was Bipin Chandra Pal from East Bengal. They came from different corners of India and asked for Swaraj in united voice.

INC 3

Lal Bal Pal

Congress and Gandhi

After the First World War, Gandhi became the primary face of the Congress. Many leaders who were committed to the Gandhian principles of Ahimsa and Satyagraha, came to fore, in their struggle against the British, which soon became a movement for independence, under the leadership of Gandhi. Some of these leaders of the Congress were Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Jawahar lal Nehru and C Rajagopalachari, among many others.

Some of the prominent Congress leaders who fought for India’s freedom

INC 4

INC 5

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was another leader from the ranks of Congress, whose achievements stood apart from the rest.

INC 6

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

In 1943, Bose regrouped the Indian National Army with the help of the Indian soldiers from among the defeated British Indian Army in Singapore and marched through South East Asia reaching Moirang in Manipur.

INC 7

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose inspecting Troops of Indian National Army, Singapore

In Manipur, he hoisted the Indian Army flag – the Azad Hind Fauz for the first time on Indian Soil on April 14, 1944, defeating the local British Army.

While British could not but respect Mahatma for his non-violent struggle, the British feared the Indian National Army of Netaji.

This twin approach of Gandhiji and Netaji led to the dismantling of the British Empire not only in India, but in other parts of world.

Independence and Post-Independence

This country eventually attained freedom in 1947, and Congressmen played a vital role for the same, as India became an independent nation. After independence, Gandhi called for the disbanding of the Indian National Congress, as he felt that its purpose had been served. However, the legacy of Congress continued, and it became a national ruling party with Jawahar Lal Nehru as the first prime minister.

Indian National Congress was the principal opposition party opposing the British, before independence. After independence, it became the principal ruling party, and is one of the two national parties in India today.

Darwin’s Journey to Evolution

Blog _ Logo_v1

There have been many scientists who have revolutionized science, and have taken man’s understanding of his own origin to a completely new level. Charles Darwin was one of those great scientists, who through his ‘evolution theory’, opened a new vista in the scientific world.

Charles Darwin 1

Charles Darwin

Voyage in Beagle

Charles Darwin began his exploration at a young age of 22, when he undertook a land mark Voyage on the research vessel H M S Beagle, on 27th December 1931. This was a chanced opportunity that Darwin fervently took, as one of the research scholars opted out at the last moment. It was during this trip that he formulated his theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin 4

The Vessel, H M S Beagle

Until then, the prevalent view in Europe was that which was dictated by the Christian Theology which states that God created the earth, man and animals in 7 days, in a set sequence.

Charles Darwin 5

Darwin’s Study

In the course of his voyage, Darwin studied various forms of life, right from butterflies, insects, to tortoises, including the famous long living tortoise of Galapagos. At every port of call, he collected samples and studied them. The ship route covered southern hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil, lasting for 5 long years.

Charles Darwin 6

Galapagos Tortoise

Charles Darwin 7

The Voyage of the Beagle

On the Origin of Species

After he came back to England from the Voyage, he settled down to write his master piece book, “On the Origin of Species”.  Initially, the publisher was hesitant to print and publish his book. But, Darwin was so sure about his theory being accepted that he offered to buy back the 1250 printed copies of the book if they did not sell.

This book soon shook the very foundations of science and Christian theology.

Charles Darwin 8

Charles Darwin’s Book, The Origin of Species

Charles Darwin & the Indian Connect

There are some aspects of Darwin’s theory that are in sync with the Indian story of evolution.

According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, aquatic creatures were the first to come into existence, followed by amphibians and then land creature.

In India, the concept of evolution has been discussed in the sequence of Dasavatara of Vishnu, starting from the fish and evolving all the way to the intellectual human.

Charles Darwin 9

Charles Darwin 10

Indians knew it all

While Charles Darwin’s theories challenged the idea of Divinity in the west by propounding an evolutionary origin of humans, the same theory was in line with the Indian concept of Avatars, incarnations of the Divinity Vishnu. The people of this land had understood the concept of evolution even before Darwin.

King Solomon Feast Day

Blog _ Logo_v1

King Solomon is revered as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and is honoured with the title “Righteous Prophet and King”. He was the King of the United Kingdom of Israel and reigned from 970 BCE to 931 BCE. Known for his wealth and wisdom, King Solomon is fondly remembered for the Temple that he built in Jerusalem, the ‘Holy Temple’, famously known as the ‘First Temple’.

King Solomon Feast

On the completion of the temple, King Solomon arranged a grand feast, with citizens from all across Israel. This feast is recorded in the Bible, and is celebrated every year on 26th December, a day after Christmas, as “King Solomon Feast Day”.

King Solomon 1

King Solomon

Apart from the temple, King Solomon also built his palace and other structures in Jerusalem. This grand palace of Solomon today only survives in the Bibilical texts, as no part of the original structure remains, being destroyed by the ravages of time.

The India connect

The city and palace that he built used a lot of teak wood and ivory from the east, over the seas. This region to the east, where both teak and ivory are available in plenty, is the Malabar Coast, in the land of India.

King Solomon 2

City Built by King Solomon, Jerusalem

King Solomon 3

Malabar Coast, India

Archaeological Survey of India through their excavations have been able to identify that the coast near Kollam, Kerala was a major trading center of yore. This region was abounding in teak. The Kannimara Thekku Teak Tree, which is said to be Asia’s largest living teak tree, is located at Thoonakkadavu, in Kerala.

King Solomon 4

Kannimara Teak at Thoonakkadavu

A Thriving Connect

These archaeological findings state that teak, ivory, indigo and spices was exported from the Malabar Coast ports near Kollam to Arabian and European ports.

This indicates a thriving trade connect over 3000 years ago, between the Indian civilization and the Middle East civilization, in the pre Christian era.

King Solomon 5

The Indo-Middle East Connect in Pre Christian times

It is from these shipments, that the wood, ivory and indigo for the palace of King Solomon, could well have been supplied, in those ancient days.

King Solomon 6

Teak, Ivory, Indigo and Spices were regularly exported from Malabar

Tsunami

Blog _ Logo_v1

Tsunami is a term that entered the Indian vocabulary with a big bang after a tsunami struck the south coast of India and South East Asia, on 26th December 2004, leaving behind a wide scale of destruction. Until then, in recent memory, tidal floods of a massive scale were not associated with coastal India.

Tsunami is a Japanese word for these giant tidal waves emanating from the ocean after a massive earthquake.

Tsunami 1

Dwaraka

In ancient India, there are references and descriptions in our scriptures, of a Tsunami like event, which left behind massive destructions.

The classic case is that of Dwaraka, the city built by Lord Krishna.

The destruction of Dwaraka is ascribed to a major ecological upheaval that occurred after the departure of Krishna. After the departure of Krishna and the Yadava civil war, the city of Dwaraka was swallowed by the sea. This is mentioned in the Mahabharata.

Tsunami 2

Tsunami 3

Krishna’s Warning

The Bhagavata Purana says that Krishna in His wisdom had recognized the signs of an impending geological upheaval and had warned His people of this foreboding calamity. He calls his people and advises them to move to other lands, saying Dwaraka was in danger. He Himself then moved down south to Prabhas Patan, near present day Somnath, where He shed His mortal coils.

Tsunami 4

There were however some people in His kingdom, who were complacent and did not pay heed to Krishna’s warning.

An internecine war for broke out amongst them.

Arjuna’s Observation

Arjuna heard about the departure of Krishna from this world and the ensuing war, and rushed to Dwaraka. He was pained to see the loss of lives and destruction to property all over Dwaraka, due to the war. He rescued the wives and other women of Dwaraka and headed back towards Hastinapura. As soon as he left the city of Dwaraka, he saw the coastal city of Dwaraka being engulfed by a major tidal wave, like a tsunami, in which the whole city of Dwaraka was washed away.

Arjuna gives an eye witness report in the Mausala Parva of what he saw from a distance.

Tsunami 5

Arjuna viewing the Tsunami from a tree top

– a Southeast Asian representation

Tsunami 6

This poetic but precise, heart-rending, eyewitness account of Arjuna can be easily understood by us now as that of a Tsunami, as we have come to read of many similar tragic, eyewitness accounts by the survivors of the Tsunami of 26th December, 2004.

Evidence from Marine Archaeology

Archaeological evidences that corroborate this Tsunami has been identified by Dr. S. R Rao, the father of Marine Archaeology in India. He discovered the sunken city of Dwaraka, which is a veritable under water museum, off the coast.

Tsunami 7

Dwaraka underwater excavation photos

The general layout of this sunken city tallies well with the graphical description of the city as given in the Mahabharata text. The findings of these expeditions suggest that the city had submerged about 5000 years ago.

Tsunami 8

Dwaraka City Model

Not a local event

While the record in Mahabharata talks of a local event, there are many pointers all over the world, which when strung together, show that this sea rise which swallowed Dwaraka, a Tsunami of those times of 3000 BCE, was not limited to Dwaraka alone.

We all know how the tidal wave which started in Indonesia in December 2004 after a massive earthquake, travelled all the way upto the coasts of India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and east coast of Africa etc. and caused major destruction to life and property in all these places.

Tsunami 9

Spread of the 2004 Tsunami

This Tsunami from ancient times that struck Dwaraka, had a major ecological impact on the whole geographical arc from Southern India all the way through Persia, Mesopotamia, Sumeria, Babylonia and to the West Asian regions.

Tsunami 10

Historical sites affected by the Epic floods around 3000 BCE, in a geographical arc

It is interesting that, if we look at the arc of the coastline from Arabia to India, we find different descriptions of floods having occurred in these areas. All the local legends of the floods, in these different parts of civilization, seem to converge around the period 3000 BCE.

Sumeria

The Epic of Atrahasis describes a great flood that submerged the Sumerian civilization around 3000 BCE.

Tsunami 11

Epic of Atrahasis flood

Noah’s Ark

The Biblical flood in which Noah’s ark rescued various species for the continuity of life is said to have occurred around 3000 BCE.

Tsunami 12

Noah’s arc

Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia had the famous legend called the epic of Gilgamesh. Most of the epic of Gilgamesh is lost to mankind due to widespread destruction which happened to their civilization because of a massive tidal wave.

Many scholars independently have arrived at a date of around 2800 BCE for when this civilization was washed out by a massive tidal wave. Some stone inscriptions have also been deciphered which speak of an extensive flooding which annihilated civilizations. They have been dated to 3123 BCE.

Tsunami 13

Gilgamesh and stone inscription

Kumari Kandam

In South India, in the Sangam literature, we have mention of a Kadalkol, a sea rising, swallowing the land of Kumari Kandam.

Kumari Kandam is the lost submerged land, south of the southern coast of India. Description of the sea engulfing the land of Kumari Kandam is described in detail, in the ancient Tamil texts.

Tamil texts such as Silappadigaram, Manimeghalai, PuraNanooru, Aga Nanooru, Ain Thinai and Ettu Thogai, describe the submergence of Kumari Kandam as having occurred many thousand years ago.

Poompuhar

Poompuhar was a prosperous port which also finds mention in early Sangam Tamil literature. Today Poompuhar is a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu.

Marine archaeologists, Dr.S.Badrinarayan, former Director General of the Geological Survey of India and Graham Hancock, author of the book, “Underworld”, have photographed the old Poompuhar submerged in the sea, a few miles off the coast of the present day Poompuhar. They estimate this submergence to have taken place about 5000 years ago i.e. around 3000 BCE.

The same Tsunami?

The massive tidal wave at Dwaraka and the other similar tidal waves in the Gilgamesh epic, the Bibilical flood, the tidal wave in Sumeria and Mesopotamia as well as Kumari Kandam and Poompuhar, all occurred around the 3000 BCE period. The same Tsunami had perhaps struck other civilizations too in this geographical arc.

More on this in our book “Historical Krishna” and “Triple Eclipse”.

Historical Krishna_3_Vol

Tsunami 15

Madan Mohan Malviya

Blog _ Logo_v1

Madan Mohan Malviya is one of those notable leaders that this country has seen. His role in the Indian Freedom struggle and his contributions towards education can scarcely be missed as his legacy stands tall even today after 71 years of his leaving the mortal coil.

Madan Mohan 1

Madan Mohan Malviya

Great Educationist

The Banaras University, the largest residential university in Asia is one of those great legacies that Malviya left behind in his role as an educationist. The university now provides higher education to more than 12000 students across various streams like science, arts and technology.

Madan Mohan 2

Banaras Hindu University

Freedom Fighter

As the president of the Indian National Congress for four times, Malviya played a vital role in the freedom struggle. He was an important in the non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi.

On Par with Gandhi

Malviya is perhaps the only freedom fighter who has been compared with ‘the Mahatma’. Mrs Sarojini Naidu described Malviya’s courtesy as being far greater and sweeter than ‘the Mahatma’.

Madan Mohan 3

Sarojini Naidu

Mahatma Gandhi himself lauded Malviya’s efforts in saving innocent lives of Indians after the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.

Madan Mohan 4

Madan Mohan Malviya and Mahatma Gandhi

A committee was formed under the presidency of Malviya in 1919, soon after the tragedy to build a memorial for the martyrs who died in the attack.

Madan Mohan 5

Jallainwala Bagh Memorial

Prince among Beggars

Mahatma Gandhi called Malviya, the ‘Prince among Beggars’ for his capacity to repeatedly collect funds as huge as 1 crore rupees for public cause. The Banaras University was formed as result of Malviya’s ability to collect funds.

Other Initiatives and Roles

Malviya was also one of the founders of the Indian scouts, and also founded the newspaper, ‘The Leader’ published in the year 1909. He also served as the chairman of Hindustan Times newspaper from 1924 to 1946.

Great Orator

Malviya was also a great orator which earned him the title “Silver tongued orator”, due to his great command in English.

Mahamana’

For the varied roles in many fields, he was conferred the title, “Mahamana’, by the people, meaning ‘the Great One’, towards the end of his life, as the whole nation recognized the contributions of this great freedom fighter, politician, educationist and orator.

Madan Mohan Malviya passed away on November 12th, 1946 at Varanasi.

He was bestowed with the Bharat Ratna in 2015.

Swami Vivekananda’s Yatra to Kanyakumari

Blog _ Logo_v1

Swami Vivekananda travelled mostly on foot all over India from the Himalayan peaks, through the land, to Kanyakumari, the southeren tip of Indian peninsula, reaching there on 24th December, 1892.

Vivekanand 1.jpg

Swami Vivekananda

Wandering Monk

It is for this ceaseless travel that Swami Vivekananda has been respectfully referred to as the ‘Wandering Monk’. He swam across the waters to a large rock, just off the tip of the land, sat there in meditation for 3 days, 24th, 25th and 26th, realized the reasons as to why his mother land, Bharatha Desha which had its days of glory, fallen in his times.

Vivekanand 2

Swami Vivekananda, the Wandering Monk

The answer that came to him in meditative state, after his physically observing the length and breadth of the land during his travels, are poignant indeed. Some of the thoughts that came to him which he has expressed in his speeches and works can be assimilated here for our understanding.

Bhogya – Self-Indulgence

This land has Bhog, food prosperity, whereas people had become Bogyam, interested only themselves, their immediate fame and their self-aggrandizement, not giving a thought to the consequences of what it would lead to and who was feeding them this bhogya, and for what purpose.

If somebody is offering you bhogya, food and wealth and other minor worldly pleasures, they are doing so to please you, for, they expect from you to do something to you in return, what you normally would not do. It is selling of one self’s momentary bodily pleasures, pleasures of flesh.

These thoughts that passed through his mind, was the clarity that occurred to Swami Vivekananda.

Halasyam – Laziness

This was leading to apparent stupidity among people because of their craving. This in turn led to laziness, halasyam. The key people who had the role to be vibrant were put into a stupor.

Nirbhayatvam – To be fearless

To do any work successfully against the existing odds, one has to be fearless. This land and its people had the kshatriya bhava, to do things fearlessly. The word kshatriya does not denote only caste. It denotes a state of mind which exhibits fearlessness, a sense of capacity, capability, in trying to achieve ones goal that one has set out to achieve. What Swami Vivekananda saw was that, this innate quality of nirbhayatvam had gone missing from the masses.

In its place, there was a mentality of paying obeisance to the new colonial masters. This nirbhayatvam or kshatriya bhavam is not only to be exhibited in the battlefield, but is that which must exist in our attitude, for, every day is a battle. The land as a whole had slid into divisions.

Slide of Indian civilization

While, the division of labour and specialization of family skills and helped in the productivity of land through millennia, its stratification and hardening that happened from time to time in the mindset, had created vicissitudes in the very body of the population. This had happened like never before. This aided the divide and rule policy that the colonial masters were quick to seize up for their benefit. These were the 3 key point that Swami felt were the reasons for slide of Indian civilization from its hoary heights. These were the stark point that came to his minds when he swam back on 27th, from the rock in the sea to the mainland, where the Kanyakumari temple stands at the land’s end.

Meditating on Bharath Mata

Through times, different sanyasis had meditated on different divinities for boons and or for wellbeing of society. In contrast, Swami Vivekananda meditated on a rock in the sea of Kanyakumari at the foot of the land mass of Bharatha and meditated on the divinity of Bharat Mata, trying to find out the reasons for our slide, how the civilization can once again be rejuvenated for the single-minded effort of his. Swami Vivekananda is commonly referred to as Patriotic Saint. This is not to say that the other saints are not patriotic, but is to empathize that, Swami Vivekananda’s call of patriotism, an analysis stood out in the hour at the time of dire needs.

After the successful visit of Swami Vivekananda to USA, in particular to the Chicago address at the world religions conference on 11th September in 1893, Swami Vivekananda further analyzed the reasons for the decline of the Indian civilization.

In comparison to the American civilization doing well then, India lacked of organizing ability, to perform in a united way.

In stark contrast, he could see this organizing ability and standing united among Americans during his nearly 4 year stay in USA. The other stark aspect that came forth to his mind was that the Indians did not know the greatness of their land.

Arudra

Blog _ Logo_v1

3

Arudra, also known Thiruvathirai is a festival celebrated in South India, especially in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This festival celebrates the Cosmic Dance of Shiva, Tandava.

Arudra – Ananda Tandava

There are many types of Tandava dance, the prominent ones being Ananda Tandava or blissful dance and Rudra Tandava or a fierce dance.  Rudra Tandava is associated with Rudra, the destructive form of Shiva, while the Ananda Tandava is associated with the blissful form of Shiva, also called Arudra, i.e A-Rudra – opposite of Rudra. This festival being called Arudra implies that this festival is observed to commemorate the Ananda Tandava of Shiva.

Arudra 1

Shiva Tandava

Arudra Star

Arudra is also a star in the sky. The Betelgeuse star, in Orion constellation is known as Arudra, in Indian Astronomy. This star is linked with Shiva. And as per Indian legends, there is a tale of Shiva chasing a deer. Shiva is very closely associated with a deer or Mrga. And we find the same thing being depicted in the skies.

Arudra 2

Arudra Nakshatra

What is Tandava?

Shiva is a Universal phenomenon, a formless phenomenon, a Cosmic form and the body of the cosmos itself.  His dance is therefore nothing but the dance of the cosmos itself.  The icon of Shiva in dance pose is known as Nataraja. Nataraja today adorns the lawns of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland, the centre in Europe researching on creation.

Arudra 3

Nataraja in CERN

At Chidambaram

The classic piece of this iconography of Nataraja is in the Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu. This temple is one of the PanchaBhutha temples where it represents the Akasha, Space concept. It was sculpted during the Chola period around 1000 years ago when iconography was at its zenith. Chola art, that too bronze art is considered to be very refined.

Arudra 4

Nataraja idol, Chidambaram

Of all these Chola bronze works, Nataraja is considered to be a cut above all other forms.

And of all the Nataraja figurines, the Nataraja icon in Chidambaram is considered to be par excellence.

Nataraja – Path to Bliss

Nataraja is the divinity who dispels ignorance and shows the path for true bliss or Ananda. This realization and understanding is what this Ananda Tandava Nrttya of Nataraja is expected to convey to those who see this idol. This is also the message of the Arudra festival.

More on Arudra, Shiva and Tandava in our book and film, “Understanding Shiva”.

Arudra 5