Mission Shakti

India recently carried out its anti-satellite missile launch successfully with Mission Shakti, and became only the fourth nation to have done so after US, Russia and China. She has thus joined this small group of elite space powers.

In case of a conflict situation in future, India can shoot down a spy satellite, by sending an automated missile into space.

This is no small achievement.

Mission Shakti, a representative image
Defence Research Development Organization

Stalled previously due to indecisive Government

India has this capability in 2012, but was stalled due to an indecisive government. The plan was submitted to the Central government in 2012, but no sanction was given.

The political will shown by the present government has enabled India to become a space power, after its successful Mission Shakti Project.

Humble beginning in 1963

Thumba, the place of first launch

This is all after a humble beginning a few decades back. It was in 1963, 53 years ago that India’s first rocket took off from Thumba on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This place soon became a launch station known as Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station, and later on with more advancement went on to attain the name of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, named after the eminent space scientist Dr. Vikram Sarabai, the Father of Indian Space Program.

Dr. Vikram Sarabai Space Centre

It was Dr. Vikram Sarabai who helped India make its first signature in space, as he chose Thumba for carrying out this Mission.

Dr. Vikram Sarabai

Dr. Sarabai felt that Thumba with its location at 8°32’34” N and 76°51’32” E is ideal for low altitude,  upper atmosphere, and ionosphere studies. Thus he felt that Thumba would be ideal for any rocket launch.

Dr. Kalam among the young recruits

Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam in his earlier days then, was one of the recruits in Dr. Sarabai’s team consisting of young enthusiastic scientists who were sent for training on rocket assembly and launch at NASA’s Wallops Island in Virginia, USA. After their training, this young bunch of scientists began to gradually assemble together their first rocket.

A young Dr. Kalam with Dr. Sarabai

Rocket parts carried on cycles and bullock carts

Thumba in those days was an isolated village, and didn’t have adequate transportation facilities. It is thus that the parts for making a rocket was carried in cycle and bullock cart.

Parts of India’s first rocket being carried on cycle and bullock cart

India Soars into Space

On 21st November, 1963, India was all ready to launch it first rocket. After a few hiccups initially, the rocket eventually took off at 6.25 pm, allowing India to make its first mark in space. It was due to the skill of Dr. Vikram Sarabai and young budding scientists like Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam that this mission became possible then.

India’s first rocket launch in 1963

Mission Shakti – 2019

India has gone a long way today in becoming a space power, after its first baby step in 1963. After 53 years, DRDO today conducted an anti-missile test from Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex, in Orissa.

This test was successful on all parameters. The technology used for carrying out this mission consisted of DRDO’s ballistic missile defence interceptor, along with Kinetic Kill, a space technology in which India has capability. The main goal of this mission was to demonstrate that India has the capability of safeguarding its space assets as well as prevent any misuse of space technology in targeting India.

Multiple Levels of Precession shown

A satellite which is at 300 kms from Earth travels at a speed of 30,000 Km / h, while an ASAT missile travels at 24000 km/h. Thus hitting a satellite requires an incredible precision, and DRDO (Defence Research Development Organization) must really be credited for making this humungous task possible.

 A phenomenal achievement!

The size of the satellite that was hit was 1 cubic metre, only as big as large suitcase. It is indeed remarkable to hit such a small object moving at an incredible speed.

An object of 1 cubic metre

Shooting a bullseye is part of the archery contests. The precession of hitting a target is what our legends tell us from ancient times. The classic case is of Arjuna hitting the fish eye, during Draupadi Swayamvara. This hitting of the satellite is similar to the great precession shown by Arjuna.

Arjuna at Draupadi Swayamvara

Moreover, as per international regulations, the target has to be hit, when it is flying over one’s country, and which in this case is only 7 minutes owing to the great speed of this satellite.

The satellite area in the space is also very crowded. In that crowd to pin point the target exactly is a bigger achievement.

The crowded Space

The target also has to be hit in such a way that the debris doesn’t hang around in space, becoming an obstacle for other satellites.

This Mission of DRDO was able to achieve all these requirement, showing a high level of precision skills.

Till date, we have 49 satellites in space. This anti-satellite skill that we have achieved of will help us safeguard our satellites, because now we know how to bring down enemy satellites.

Today’s space is still an unregulated area, and very few countries are in the elite space club. This technical capability and achievement not only puts us in that elite space club, but if and when regulatory bodies are formed, by world space bodies, then India will naturally have her rightful place on high tables, with veto powers.

A landmark achievement

Mission Shakti has been a landmark achievement for India on Space front, and 27th March 2019, will be etched in the memory of many, for witnessing one of the challenging tasks of shooting a satellite in faraway space. This will take India a long way in becoming a Space Super Power.

For more on Mission Shakti, see this conversation by D K Hari, on Shree TV:

World Theatre Day

World Theatre Day is celebrated across the world on 27th March, by the international theatre community. Many kinds of plays and shows are organized, at different places, to promote Theatre, which has been an ancient form of communication, in India and the World.

Today’s Cinema Theatres are only the latest form of this art, which has been prevalent in various forms, through the world.

In the culture heritage of India, theatre has been one of the most popular components, which caters to both education and entertainment.

It has been an integral part of Indian heritage for well over 7000 years, all across the land.

Theatre – Natyashala

Theatre refers to the platform where plays – dramatics are formed. A Theatre is known by the term Natyashala in Samskrt.

Bharata Muni

Among the earliest mention of Theatre in India, is from Bharat Muni. Bharat Muni is a contemporary of Rishi Valmiki, who is dated to 5100 BCE. Which means that Theatre existed in India, 7000 years ago.

Bharata Muni, was an ancient Indian theatrologist, who wrote the popular work Natya Shastra, consisting of 36 chapters, a treatise on theatre. Ancient Indian dance and music were based on this Shastra.

Bharata Muni    

Natya Shastra should not be limitedly understood as a dance treatise. It deals about

  1. Dance
  2. Drama
  3. Music
  4. Aesthetics
  5. Makeup
  6. Stage Preparation
  7. Stage Entry
  8. Appearances

and all aspects related to theatre.

Bharata Muni is today revered as the Father of theatrical forms, not just for India, but for the world. There is a temple that has been built in his honour between Chennai and Mahabalipuram on the east coast road.

Rangabhoomi – Indian Theatre

In India, theatres, platforms, stages were known as Rangamanch, term still in use for stage in India.

Many ruins of Rangamanch have been discovered in this land, in archaeological excavations.

The Rangabhoomi at Dholavira, as per the excavations has been dated to have been built and used around 3000 BCE, which is about 5000 years ago.

This data from a timeline perspective, places the Rangabhoomi of Dholavira to be twice as ancient as the famed ancient stadia of Greece and Rome.

Rang means colours, Bhoomi means ground and Manch means a platform. These arenas and stages offered sights of colours.

We find mention of Rangamanch and Rangabhoomi in the literature of those days.

Visualizing Dholavira Rangabhoomi

The archaeologist R.S.Bisht who is credited with the excavation of Dholavira writes,

He further writes,

Details of the Rangabhoomi

  • A small two meter by two meter portion of the field was found to be scattered with hundreds of jewellery beads. Bisht visualizes, “You can imagine performers decked in beads from top to bottom, freely dancing and the beads falling everywhere.”
  • One of the artifacts recovered from this Rangabhoomi is a terracotta theatre mask probably used by the entertainers.
  • Row after row of peg holes were discovered – indicating that they would have been used to erect stalls and dividers during performances.
  • Steps were excavated around the Rangabhoomi – indicating the location of the stands for the audience.
  • The excavations showed that the people then seemed to add a new layer of mud to their Rangabhoomi, every year. The mud was brought from outside of Dholavira. This annual layering of mud, gave the whole stadium and the stage, unique acoustics and sonorous quality.
Terracotta Mask Found at Dholavira Rangbhoomi Site

All these details of the Rangabhoomi tell us that it was not a casual site but a full-fledged stadium as with all the trappings of theatrical shows.

In these Rangamanch, performances and sports were exhibited together. In the morning, it was sports, while during the dusk, Rangamanch transformed itself into theatre.

India’s oldest treatise on performances, Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, describes in detail, the principles and guidelines for constructing Rangamanch besides covering all aspects of the art of performing, in depth.

Dholavira by the River Sarasvati

More on Rangamanch in our book, Autobiography Of India – Breaking The Myths – About Ability.

Theatre in India

In this land, theatre existed everywhere. There was theatre inside a building. There was theatre in open air, and also house theatre. Each variety of these theatre goes back by many millennia and have been honed for thousands of years.

Theatrical forms in India

India has a wide and rich display of theatrical arts. Right from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh in the east to Punjab and Sindh in the West, to Leh, Ladakh in the North, India is abounding in theatre forms.

Drama, Dance and Puppetry

Theatre in India consists of Drama, Dance and Puppetry. Thus theatre is a wide spectrum.

Ramayana and Mahabharata

Our two itihasa, Ramayana and Mahabharata, have been used from time immemorial in theatre forms.

Regional Theatrical forms

Every region has its beautiful theatrical forms,

Some of them being,

  • Bhaona in Assam
  • Jatra in West Bengal
  • Maach in Madhya Pradesh
  • Nautanki in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab
  • Swang in Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh
  • Rasa leela in Uttar Pradesh
  • Dashavatar in goa and Konkan
  • Theyyam, Krishnattam and Kathakali in Kerala
  • Veedhi Natakam in Andhra Pradesh
  • Burrakatha and Harikatha in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
  • Yakshagaana in Karnataka

Kama Sutra

In Kama Sutra, which is a treatise on sexual advances and positions, it also speaks of Dance and Drama in one section.

Kalidasa

Kalidasa, who lived in 5th century CE is revered in India, as one of the greatest dramatist, whose many theatrical dramas have been very popular in this land. Some of his dramas include,

  1. Abhijnanashakuntala – The Recognition of Shakuntala
  2. Vikramorvashi – Vrvashi won by Valour
  3. Malavikagnimitra – Malavika and Agnimitra
Kalidasa

Harshacharithra

Harishacharithra is the story of Raja Harishchandra, written by Banabhatta, which has been used in Theatre forms.

Thyagaraja

Thyagaraja, the Telugu poet from Tanjaore, wrote Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam for Theatre.

Thalapathi Maram and Manimegalai

In the South, Illango has written two plays, adapted to theatre, Thalapathi Maram and Manimegalai.

Buddhist – Jataka Tales

Buddhist Jataka Tales are popular stories from Buddhist traditions. These stories have also take shape in theatre forms over the centuries.

Jataka Tales

Prithiviraj Kapoor

Prithviraj Kapoor, born 1906 was a pioneer of Indian theatre and of the Hindi film industry. He was the father of the popular actor Raj Kapoor. In 1944, Prithviraj Kapoor started his own Theatre group known as Prithvi Theatres, which supported innumerable theatrical productions in India.

Prithiviraj Kapoor

Theatre, an important part of Indian Heritage

So theatre has been a vibrant form in India, across times, and across the land, as a way of expression both at the folk level, in village and street plays, and as well as the court durbar level.

Theatre was given an important place in the Indian ethos.

Theatre was an integral part to life. Theater was never looked at as only a form entertainment. Theatre was looked up as one of the ways to upkeep the values of the society, of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

It was the villagers who took active part in theatre, and it was an ideal way to spend time in the evening, after a hard day of back breaking toil.

The coming of cinema in modern era, has broken the back of theatre.

Need to restore Theatre to its pristine glory

It is for this generation to recognize, the antiquity of theatres, the reach of theatre, the value of theatre, in the upkeep of the values of the society, in the spread of message and revive theatre to its pristine glory that held its head high in this land for the last 7000 years. Let this be our focus on this World Theatre Day.

Significance of Lotus

Lotus is a flower that is native to this land. It was flower that used to be found commonly across the land, until the organized gardens, with roses, became the norm of a model garden.

Lotus was used in imagery by our ancients to convey various messages.

For starters, the Lotus has been associated with life. One may ask, why a Lotus and not a rose or a tulip or even a sunflower to depict life?

Lotus

Pushkarni

Temple Tank

In India through the ages, every village temple has had a tank called Pushkarni. The word “Pushkarni” comes from the word “Pushkaram”, meaning, “that which provides fertility”, Pushti, “health”.

Pushkarni at Tirumala

Pushkarni maintains water level

When the waters are collected and stored in the centre of every village, typically next to the temple, in the centre of the village, then the water table in the whole village stays full and provides water not only for daily use of the village, such as drinking and bathing, but also provides fertility to the whole village.

A full, clean temple tank is beautiful to look at. These were built through the ages by the local people, as benefactors of the society.

Apart from daily bathing and for local temple ritual, these tanks were primarily meant for harnessing water.

Pushkarni at Shravanabelagola

The earliest such tanks can be seen amidst the ruins of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. Called the Great Baths, they reflect similar design and construction from over 5000 years ago.

Design of these tanks

These tanks were designed and constructed around a natural ground spring. The gradient from local groves also led to these tanks for rain waters to pour in. These groves were designated as sacred groves. The trees that were native to that topography were planted there.

Being designated as sacred groves, they were looked upon as divine, generation after generation, thus providing catchment areas for the rain water to drain into the Pushkarni.

Sloped roofs

The roofs of the houses around these tanks were sloped towards the tank to harness the rain waters. Thereby, the rain waters collected in these tanks during the rainy season, fulfilling the water needs of the people, through the year, year after year, century after century, in the last couple of millennia.

A healthy Water Table

The tanks thus being kept full throughout the year ensured that there was a healthy water table around that area.

It is but natural these tanks were called Pushkarni for they gave fertility to the community around them.

In sync with Nature

Pushkarni were planned and executed over generations, taking into consideration the topography, the rainfall patterns, the climate and such other relevant factors of Nature. This shows how the communities lived in sync with Nature. Instead of exploiting Nature, they harnessed Nature in a sustainable manner for sustained prosperity.

Punya Tirtha

Such Pushkarni, which bring fertility as well as a sense of harmony among the people, became Punya Tirtha, worthy of being venerated too, like the divinity inside the temple.

Not only did the local people consider each temple tank to be a Punya Tirtha, they considered every river, every stream as a Punya Tirtha too and took the effort to keep every river clean.

Dirty ponds of today

In the last 100 years, somehow we have lost this concept of Punya Tirtha, because of which, we ourselves have dirtied our rivers, our streams and our ponds.

Ponds dirty today

Today when we bathe in any of these, we do not feel fresh, we do not feel clean and we will not get any punya, merit. What we are sure to get are diseases because we have made our waters in every sense and form, filthy.

Need to clean up Pushkarni

Today, we should take it upon ourselves to clean and maintain these village ponds, pushkarni, so that we have a beautiful tank at the village centre in which rain waters can collect during monsoon and the water level in the entire village is kept up through the year.

Hence, though found near the temples, looking after the temple tanks should not be a task limited to the people of the religious community who look after the temple but it should be a community effort, as the benefits of this water reach the entire community of the village, irrespective of religion, caste and creed.

It is only when we realize that it is our waters, which are our Punya Tirtha, will each one of us clean our water bodies, so that they once again really become Punya Tirtha and give us water to clean our bodies.

Ides of March

Ides of March, the 15th March in the Roman Calendar corresponds with the Full Moon day.

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 Old Roman Calendar

The term Ides of March has been made popular by William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar.

                                   William Shakespeare and his book Julius Caesar                                                               

A soothsayer had warned Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March”. Ironically, it was on the Ides of March that Julius Caesar was assassinated by his Roman senate members, Brutus Cassius and others.

4

Julius Caesar being assassinated

With the onset of the Julian calendar which was solar based, the connect of Full Moon with Ideas of March got disassociated.

What we can gather here is that, the ancient Roman pagan calendar was probably Luni Solar with ‘Ides of March’ being the March Full Moon.

Incidentally, the Indian calendar since early times to now has been a Luni Solar calendar. After all, we keep track of time not just with the clock or calendar on the wall. Time is kept track with the earth, moon and sun and their relative movement led the Ides of March being linked in the Roman Calendar.

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Ides of March coin

Historical Krishna Talk

Click Here To Access eBook : Proving The Historicity Of Krishna

The people of this country never had any doubts about the historicity of Krishna until the colonial historians projected Krishna as a mythical figure cooked up by wonderful stories.

The story of Krishna is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of India and the people of this land revere Him as a Divinity. The colonial hangover has however left a doubt on the historicity of this highly adored Divinity.

The science of Archaeo-Astronomy has enabled us to go beyond the boundaries of conventional archaeology in tracing the historicity of some well known personages of this land, such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira and Shankara. Planetary configurations mentioned in the ancient scriptures pertaining to major events and personages connected, help us date events that happened around these personages, centuries and millennia ago, either manually or with more ease and accuracy, using Planetarium software.

As per the Purana, Lord Krishna was born around midnight. That night was the eight phase of the moon known as Ashtami Tithi. The moon was near Vrshabha, the bull, i.e the Taurus constellation that houses the star Rohini. The star Rohini is known as Aldeberan in modern astronomy. The month was Shravana, one of the 12 months in the Indian calendar.

janmashtamii-1

Krishna’s Birth in Prison

These details are clearly mentioned in the 10thSkanda, 3rd chapter of the Bhagavata Purana. The relevant sloka is,

Shravana vada ashtami, Rohini Nakshtra, uditam Lagnam

This detail combined with details of sky configurations for events that happened around Krishna’s lifetimes, namely the Mahabharata, leads us to the exact birth date for Krishna.

Sky Chart of Krishna's birth

Krishna’s Birth Chart

 Courtesy Prof.Narahari Achar, Memphis University, USA

Such a search leads us to 27th July, 3112 BCE as Krishna’s date of birth in the Gregorian Calendar.

In Indian tradition, Krishna’s birth is also called as “Sri Jayanthi”. The word “Jayanthi” has an interesting connotation in Indian Astronomy. Indian astronomers have accorded special names to lunar phases occurring at certain stars.

The lunar phase occurring at Punarvasu star in Gemini constellation is called Jaya. The lunar phase occurring at Pushya star in the Gemini constellation is called Nasini. The lunar phase seen at Shravana star in the Capricorn zodiac is called Vijaya. Similarly, the phase of the moon occurring at Rohini star is called Jayanthi.

Krishna’s birth which happened when the moon was at Rohini star is called SriJayanthi.

Jayanthi also means celebrations and the word has thus come to be used to indicate birthday celebrations. Thus, the word “Jayanthi, over time, has also come to be used for the birthday celebrations of other great personages and we today celebrate Buddha Jayanthi, Mahaveer Jayanthi, Shankara Jayanthi, Shivaji Jayanthi, Gandhi Jayanthi, Ambedkar Jayanthi etc.

 “Jayanthi” became popular because of association with Krishna.

Every year, for millennia, Indians have been celebrating Krishna’s birthday in the Shravana month, on Rohini NakshatraKrishna Paksha Ashtami (8th phase of the waning moon) based on these details in scriptures.

It is the year of birth however, which has been the missing piece in common knowledge.

Not only from Archaeo-astronomy, but also from a wholistic analysis of data across various disciplines, today we can conclude that Lord Krishna was born in 3112 BCE.

So, this year, 2017 CE, makes it the 5129th year since His birth, Sri Jayanthi. Let us celebrate this 5129th birthday of Lord Krishna, keeping in mind that India’s most beloved Divinity was indeed also a historical figure who had walked this planet about 5100 years ago.

While Divinity is a matter of faith, historicity is a matter of existence. With the unravelling of the dates for Krishna, what comes out for all to see is the beautiful blend of Divinity and Historicity in Krishna. One does not preclude the other.

More on this in our book, Historical Krishna.

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