Krishna, A War Monger?

Lord Krshna’s preachings to Arjuna to go ahead and fight against his own kith and kin in discharging his duty, has been quoted out of context as being provocative. Many have even called Krishna, “a war monger”.

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Gita Upadesha

The reality is far from this for,

  1. Krishna was the Peace Messenger before the war
  2. Advising someone to do one’s duty after coming to the battlefield cannot be construed by any stretch of imagination as war mongering.

The doubts that Krishna clarifies in the battlefield are similar to the doubts that every human being has in waging their daily battles of life. Krishna uses the occasion to express what one’s duty and purpose of life is for all, through Arjuna.

His message to Arjuna was a call to duty – in thought, word and action, which has stood the test of time for 5100 years both in debate and in action. Which is why, it is revered as Bhagavad Gita, the “Song of God”.

Acts to the Contrary

If Krishna were a war monger, then instead of leaving Mathura and going to Dwaraka, He would have stayed back for a fight to the finish, with Jarasandha and his army.

Probably, even at a young age, Krishna had felt that discretion was sometimes the better part of valour and had moved with His people to Dwaraka, to start a new life.

Strategically moving away, inspite of having defeated Kamsa in an open battle and then installing Kamsa’s father back on the throne of Mathura, speaks of Krishna’s maturity in not coveting what was not rightfully His. At that time, Kamsa’s father Ugrasena, who was old by then, had offered the throne to Krishna.

Krishna however declined to accept the throne of Mathura and moved on to Dwaraka.

Krishna probably felt then, that if He continued to stay on in Mathura, there could be repeated reprisals from Jarasandha’s army and the brunt of these attacks would have to be borne by the army and the people of Mathura. They would have to face the repercussions of these wars.

As Jarasandha’s enmity was with Krishna, He probably felt, that if He moved away, then peace would prevail among the people of the two kingdoms, two big cities of those times.

This was a strategic move by Krishna. His decision, not to stay on in Mathura and fight with Jarasandha, shows his maturity in trying to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

It also brings to light that Krishna was not a war monger, but a strategist.

Ranchor – Walking Away From Battle

For this selfless, strategic act of leaving Mathura to avoid constant wars with Jarasandha, Krishna has sometimes even been called Ranchor, Ranchod, “one who walked away from battle.”

This name however is not used derisively, which is why, even to this day, many people are called Ranchor or Ranchordas.

Rann is battle, rann bhumi is battlefield in the Samskrt language and many other languages of India and South East Asia.

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Krishna as Ranchodrai in Dakor temple

Peace Ambassador

When it was time to go to the Hastinapura court to demand their rightful share of property, it was Krishna that the Pandava chose to represent them.

It was Krishna whom the Kaurava and the elders in the court of Dhritarashtra were willing to hold negotiations with, as a peace ambassador.

All these incidents prove with certainty that Krishna was not a war monger.

Then why did Krishna counsel Arjuna to fight the battle against his granduncles and cousins?

The answer to these questions lie within Krishna’s Upadesha, counsel to the very same Arjuna, called the “Bhagavad Gita”.

(The above is an extract from our book – “Historical Krishna”.)

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Purpose of Krishna’s Life

Krishna by far has been one of the most popular personages of India.

Krishna lived at the cross-roads of time, at the juncture, Sandhi of Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, an astronomical event, a time marker, as we have already seen.

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Lord Krishna

Multi Facet Personality

The various facets of Krishna show Him to be a beautiful intertwining of contrasts:-

  • historical and at the same time divine
  • mischievous as well as heroic
  • innocent as well as a strategist
  • playful and scholarly
  • simple as a cowherd and royal as a prince
  • down to earth, yet able to hold forth on the subtle
  • Nature loving and at the same time technical to reclaim land to build a port city

Krishna is an embodiment of how life is complementary, full of contrasts, which is what makes it wholesome.

5131st Janmashtami

This year we will be celebrating the 5131st Janmashtami, on August 14th, the birthday of this multidimensional persona, in the Indian calendar.

Bhu Bhara Haranam

Krishna is regarded an avatara – one who has descended on the earth.

For one to descend on the earth there must be a purpose. Each person who is born on this earth, looks for a purpose in this life.

Some are fortunate to realize it during their life time itself. Many live through life without knowing its purpose. They just go through the motions of it.

For a fortunate few, it is recorded for posterity to know.

In the case of Krishna, the purpose of His life is given in the Bhagavata Purana, 10th chapter, Dasame Skandam. Here it is stated that,

“One of the primary objectives of Krishna Avatara was Bhu Bhara Haranam – to relieve the burden of the earth”.

Mother Earth is parthava, meaning “being wide”, “having great extent” because of which she is called Prithvi in Samskrt. It comes from prthu meaning “expansive”, “extensive”, and “abundant”.

She is also the base, foundation and floor on which live her children.

Hence, she is also called Bhudevi.

She is also tolerant and patient, as all mothers are of her children. She willing accepts the Bhara, “load”, “pressure” placed on her by children through their deeds and misdeeds.

But Nature, of which she is also but a part of, will not be a silent observer for long. Nature has its way of getting back and when it does get back, it can be pretty harsh.

Anything that tampers with the sustainability of life and Nature on the earth will not be tolerated for long and will be eliminated naturally, to restore balance in Nature.

Bhu Bhara Haranam means to destroy that which creates a load, pressure on the earth.

Bhu Bhara Haranam in Context

This message is nothing new. We have had this message with us for the past 5100 years. Yet we do not pay sufficient heed to it.

Among other aspects, Krishna’s role has been to highlight this reality to us humans. But this message has been lost on us, as we are after all humans.

For how many individuals on this earth, are we able to identify and

discuss their purpose of life with such clarity, as we are able to do for

Krishna?

Why did we come to live here?

Who am I?

What is the purpose of life?

These have been eternal questions of mankind from time immemorial.

These far reaching soul searching questions, for which the answers seem elusive, have actually been answered. The answers to these questions were given by Krishna, to a troubled mind – his friend, cousin and brother-in-law Arjuna on the battlefield.

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Bhagavad Gita Upadesha

These questions have been answered in a very lucid, easy to understand form, in the language of those times and these answers have held good for the last five thousand one hundred years.

Load off the Mind

Today, our minds are as troubled as Arjuna’s was, 5100 years ago.

Today, in the 21st century, everyday of our life that we lead, is itself the battlefield. Krishna’s answers are as much valid for us today if we contemporize it for our needs and situations today.

Bhu means to exist, to be. Bhara is stress, load. Haranam is to remove, destroy. The phrase Bhu Bhara Haranam in this context can also be seen as Krishna’s effort to educate mankind with the essence of life so that he can lead his life on the earth without the stress that relationships and situations can pose on a day to day basis.

Through this book we have tried to place beyond doubt the historicity of Krishna, thereby once and for all removing the tag of mythology given to the Mahabharata and establishing Krishna as one of the foremost historical heroes of this land.

We can now look up to Him as a genuine hero of the land. If He has been a hero for over 5000 years and has even been regarded as a divinity, both while alive as well as across all these millennia, then there must have been something to Him.

We need to experience this divine hero Krishna for ourselves along with the whole gamut of knowledge that He embodied.

We now need to make a personalized effort to understand Him, His qualities and His messages from a wholistic, profound perspective that the epic has conveyed, in the language of those times, without getting mired in literal or later interpretations of a few.

There are two key messages of Krishna that are essential for our life in this century, in this modern, complex world.

More on this in our book, Historical Krishna.

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Tanguturi Prakasam

Shri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu was an Indian freedom fighter, and the first Chief Minister of Andhra state. A man known for his honesty, integrity and courage, he is one of the tallest names in Andhra Pradesh.

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Shri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu

Andhra Kesari

He is popularly known as Andhra Kesari, for bravely baring his chest to the British police, daring them to shoot him.

Birth

Tanguturi Prakasam was born on 23rd August, 1872, at a small village Vinodarayanipalem, to pious Brahmin couple, Subamma and Gopala Krishnayya, in the Ongole district of then Madras Presidency, Today, that district bears his name as Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh.

The district Ongole is known for its majestic looking cows, the Ongoles. The Ongole cows provide high quantity of milk. Some are known to yield as much as 17 litres in a day.

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The Ongole bull

Prakasam’s deeds were also majestic like the Ongole Bull.

Father’s Passing Away

Prakasam’s father was the Karanam of the village, and his ancestors hailed from Tanguturu, which explains his surname too. His father however passed away when Prakasam was just 11, leaving the family burden on his mother’s shoulders. Subamma, his mother left for Ongole, where she ran a small boarding and lodging home, to support her family.  Prakasam himself used to work in homes of the richer people in Ongole, primarily to fund his studies.

Prakasam’s passion for sports

Prakasam’s good physique, made him take part actively in theater, and loved games too. However due to his interest in dramas and sports, Prakasam’s education suffered as he only just got through his matriculation – class 10.

Pursuing a course in Law

Prakasam’s teacher Immaneni Hanumantha Rao Naidu enrolled him in Pre Matric, and also sponsored his education. When Hanumantha Rao, left for Rajahmundry, he also took Prakasam with him, the city then was a well-known educational center. Hanumantha Rao enrolled Prakasam in an Arts course, and later sent him to Chennai to study Law.

As chairman of Rajahmundry Municipality

Prakasam soon became a successful lawyer, and became the chairman of Rajahmundry Muncipality, at the age of 35. However since he was still a second grade pleader, Prakasam could not practice in the higher courts. In those days only barristers could plead in the higher courts, and one of them suggested Prakasam to do the course.

Leaving for London for Higher studies

Prakasam left for London in 1904 in pursuit of becoming a barrister. This was not before promised his mother not to touch meat, liquor or tobacco.

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Prakasam in London

At Madras High Court as First Telugu Barrister

After finishing his higher studies in Law, Prakasam returned to India in 1907 and began his practice in the Madras High Court. Prakasam became the first Telugu barrister to make a mark in the Madras High Court, that till then was mostly an English preserve. One of the most prominent cases he took up was that of the murder of Ashe, the British collector of Tirunelveli district.

A Hands on Leader

Prakasam actively supported the other freedom fighters of his time. He was pretty much a hands on leader, being one of the first to visit the spot of any unrest or riot. When British banned people from attending speeches of Bipin Chandra Pal, Prakasam defied the order by boldly attending them.

When outsiders were not allowed into Kerala during the Moplah revolt, Prakasam was one of the few who defied orders and visited it.

Plunging into Freedom Struggle

Prakasam gave up his lucrative law practice, plunged into the freedom struggle, and donated all his money for the nation, he became the editor of the Swarajya Magazine, in Telugu, English as well as in Tamil.

Becoming General Secretary of Congress

Prakasam became a regular at most Congress meetings and signed the declaration for Satyagraha in 1921. He was elected as the General Secretary of Congress party in the 1921 Ahmedabad Session.

Pakasam’s one Daring Act

Prakasam fame grew with the incident at Parry’s Corner, Chennai in 1928 during protests against Simon Commission. Prakasam was leading the protests at Madras High Court, slogans of “Simon Go Back” rent the air, police fired on the crowd to disperse. A youngster Parthasarathi was shot dead in firing, and the police, warned that any one coming to carry the corpse would be shot too. It was then Prakasam boldly stepped in to claim the corpse of Parthasarathi, when everyone in the crowd was afraid to. As the police turned their guns on him, Prakasam bared open his chest, and shouted “Shoot you cowards, if you have any guts” to police.

 This one open act of defiance by Prakasam made him a hero of sorts, and he was given the title of Andhra Kesari after that.

Helping Congress in Madras Presidency

In 1937, the Congress party swept the elections in the Madras Presidency and Prakasam played a major role in that victory. Though he was the first choice for the post of Chief Minister, Prakasam had to make way for Rajaji, brought out of retirement. Prakasam worked as Revenue Minister in Rajaji’s cabinet, and one of his major initiatives was looking into the Zamindari system then.

A Prominent Satyagraha leader

Prakasam was one of the prominent leaders down South, who led the Satyagraha against the British war preparations in 1941.

Arrested during Quit India Movement

In 1942 Prakasam was arrested for 3 years for taking part in the Quit India Movement, and on his release in 1945 toured all over South.

Chief Minister of Madras Presidency

The Congress once again came to power in the Madras Presidency in 1946, and this time Prakasam was sworn in as the Chief Minister, for the next 11 months.

Meeting the dreaded Razakar leaders

After Independence in 1947, Prakasam once again plunged into activism, toured Hyderabad under Nizam, in spite of Nehru warning not to do so. Prakasam met Qasim Rizvi the leader of the dreaded Razakar’s and warned them that they were pushing their luck too hard.

Finding a New Party – The Praja Party

In 1952, Prakasam founded a new party, the Praja Party and ensured that all the Congress ministers ended up losing the elections. That much was his popularity.

First Chief Minister of Andhra State

When the Andhra State was formed in 1953, Prakasam became the first Chief Minister.

Contribution in Education

During Prakasam’s tenure, Sri Venkateswara University was set up in Tirupathi. It holds a NAAC rating of “A+” with a score of 3.52 out of 4. It was the 31st university to be built in India, and after the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 it is the second oldest university in Andhra Pradesh, after Andhra University.

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Sri Venkateswara University

In Irrigation

Prakasam also promoted water harnessing and irrigation.

After the land forms evolved and stabilized, there were continuous rains which cooled the earth and caused vegetation to grow thereon. One of the earliest rivers to have formed during this period is the Krishna River.

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Krishna River

Krishna has been a naturally flowing river through the rugged landscape of Andhra Pradesh for many a millennia.

It was during Prakasam’s tenure the barrage over Krishna River, near Vijayawada was built, to aid irrigation.

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Prakasam Barrage, Vijayawada

The End

On May 20th, 1957, Prakasam passed away in Hyderabad, after suffering a sun stroke which he got while touring.

The Ongole district, formed in Andhra Pradesh was named after Prakasam, as a fitting tribute to a great son of the soil.

A stamp has been released in his honour by the government.

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He was a great Bida, Son of Telugu Talli, Mother Telugu.

More on Telugu Talli in our book and short film Telugu Talli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzPtbEZH5s4

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Armenian – Madras Connect

Armenia is a country bordering Turkey and Russia. Armenia became one of the early Christian countries around 400 CE itself. Armenians are an enterprising mercantile community and were traders all over Europe, before they were colonized. Armenia has been invaded and ruled by Turkey, Iran and Russia one after another.

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Armenia

Coromandel Coast – An attractive destination

The Coromandel Coast in India has been a prosperous area attracted the west European countries such as Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, French and English to come to trade here.

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Coromandel Coast Prosperity attracted all Trading posts

This coast was also an attractive destination for other communities like Armenians, from Central Asia, near Caspian Sea.

The Armenians settled down in different parts of India to trade with India, and became prosperous. They traded in precious stones and fabrics.

They established themselves well in Madras and Calcutta.

Armenian Street, Madras

The Old Madras Street, where they traded is known as Armenian street, to this day.

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Armenian Street, Madras

Armenian Church, Madras

There is an Armenian church in Madras, known as St.Mary’s church, which is well maintained to this day.

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Armenian Church, Madras

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Armenian church, Inside

Armenians constructed the Bridge

The Armenian traders were so prosperous in Madras that they funded the construction of a bridge across Adyar River, known as Armenian Bridge.

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Armenian bridge near St Thomas’s Mount, built by Armenian traders of Madras,

A painting by William Daniell in 1820

Armenians celebrate Christmas on 6th January

It is interesting to note that both Armenian Churches of Madras and Calcutta celebrate their Christmas not on 25th December, but on 6th January, as the Christians of Armenia belonged to the East European Christian groups, who celebrate Christmas on January 6th.

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Armenian Christmas Celebration on January 6th, Kolkata

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Armenian Church, Calcutta

Influential

The Armenians were so influential in their trade links not only in Madras, but back home in Armenia as well, that they ventured out to prepare their own constitution for their own country sitting in Madras.

Did you know that the draft constitution of Armenia was drafted in Madras!

These prosperous Armenian traders contributed to their freedom struggle, back home in Armenia.

Part of Soviet Union

Armenia was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, when it gained complete independence.

Drafting of Armenian Constitution in Madras

Shahamir Shahamirian

Shahamir Shahamirian of Armenian descent was a writer and philosopher, notable figure in the Armenian liberation movement and a wealthy Armenian merchant in Madras.

“Snares of Glory”

In 1773, he compiled the draft of the Armenian Constitution and named it “Vorogait Paratz”, meaning “Snares of Glory”.

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The draft constitution of Armenia

Armenian Printing Press and Publications in Madras

To facilitate the printing of the constitution draft, a printing press was setup in Madras.

Armenia’s First Newspaper printed in Madras

The first book and first newspaper in the Armenian language was printed in Madras.

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Shahamir Shahamirian

“The Trap of Glory”,

In 1772, “The Trap of Glory”, the work of Armenian political philosophy by Shahamirian was written and published in Madras.

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The Trap of Glory

“Azdarar, The Monitor”

“Azdarar, The Monitor”, the 1st Armenian periodical headed by Haruthyun Shmavonian, was published in Madras in 1794.

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Azdarar, The Monitor

There has been regular connect between Central Asia and India, and which has been brought out in our eBook, Indo – Russia, A Connect Over Millennia.

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Madras Day

A City’s Birthday

People celebrate their birthdays. Here, a city celebrates its birthday. The city of Madras was founded on August 22, 1639. This day is celebrated as Madras day.

Events

On this day, many events are held focusing on the history and cultural heritage of the city and Tamil land in general. Many groups, communities and companies come forward to organize events on culture, music, food, poetry, and talks, on the history of the city.

East India Company

Land from Raja of Chandragiri

On this day, the British East India Company, represented by Francis Day, purchased land from Raja of Chandragiri, near Tirupati, to build Fort Saint George on the Coromandel Coast.

 

Madras Day 1Francis Day                                     East India Company Logo               

Madras Day 2

Chandragiri in India Map                                                Chandragiri fort

Dynasty of Padmavati Devi

It was a daughter of this Chandragiri dynasty, Padmavati Devi whom Lord Venkateswara married.

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Princess Padmavathi of Chandragiri dynasty

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Lord Venkateswara & Goddess Padmavathi

Why Francis Day chose this place?

Francis Day decided to set up their camp at the estuary of the Cooum River, probably because, his lady love, a Portuguese girl, was in the Portuguese settlement of Luz, which was around 5 kms down south, along the same beach.

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Cooum River

Luz – Light

‘Luz’ is a Portuguese word, meaning light. When the Portuguese were one evening, searching for a suitable spot in the Coromandel coast, they saw a ray of light on shore and decided to move their ship and set up their trading camp there.

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Coromandel Coast

This place is now remembered as Luz church.

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Luz Church

This beach between Fort Saint George and Luz is the famous Marina beach of Chennai.

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Marina Beach, Chennai

British Trade Post

This piece of land soon grew into a fledgling town, primarily a British trading post operating out of Fort Saint George.

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Fort Saint George

Chennaipatnam

The word Chennai comes from Chennaipatnam. The word patnam in Tamil means town.

Patron Divinities

The word chennai comes from the two patron divinities of this region, Chenna Malleswara and Chenna Kesava. The word Chenna itself finds more usage now in the Kannada language, meaning good, that which augurs well. This shows how people, language intermingled and were composite, even few centuries back.

Similarly, we have the word Vishakapatnam in northeast, with the word patnam, meaning town.

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Vishakapatnam

Madras – Madrassa – Thousand lights

The name Madras could well have come from a madarasa, a school of Islam that was then situated at a place now known as thousand lights. It was then called Airyam Vilaka, for, Madarrasa was well lit, every evening, with thousand glistening lamps.

Birthplace of Indian Army

In 1746, there was a war in the outskirts of Madras called the Adyar War. It was fought between the French commanders who had thousand soldiers on his side against the local Nawab who has a 10,000 strong army. The local Nawab was routed at the Adyar Estuary. The handful of British who were present there were bystanders during the war.

Major stringer Lawrence who was present then collected all the local soldiers post this battle, made them into a fighting force and called them the Madras Army.

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Madras Army

Not of Recent Origin

While the British might have set up their colony here only in the year 1639, this place of Chennai has ancient antiquity.

Adi Shankara visits Chennai

Tiruvottiyur

2500 years ago, Adi Shankara visited the area around Chennai. When he came, he visited the Devi temple at Tiruvottiyur, which is today in North Chennai.

Madras Day 7Adi Shankara                                                 Tiruvottiyur Devi Temple

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Adi Shankara with his four disciples at Tiruvottiyur Devi Temple

Mangadu

He also visited the Devi temple at Mangadu. The word Mangadu means mango groove, Manga meaning mango and Kadu for forest.

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Mangadu Devi temple

Both these Devis at Tiruvottiyur and Mangadu were in their ugra, ferocious form. Adi Shankara through his penance made a sri yantra in front of both Devis, to bring down their ferocity and make this place habitable for the locals.

Alwars

Alwars who lived around 1500 years have visited Chennai. One of the Alwar, Bhoothath Alwar was born in west of Chennai.

Around Chennai, there are over a dozen temples that have poems sung by Alwars, called Pasuram in Tamil, when they visited these temples.

 

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The 12 Alwars

Nayanmars

Nayanmars who also lived around 1500 years ago, also visited the Chennai region.

Nayanmars, who are devotees of Shiva have visited many Shiva temples in this region.

Infact, one of the big festivals of Chennai, is the carrying of the 63 Nayanmars in palanquin, around the Kapileshwar temple and its tanks, annually, in the month of March.

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Kapileshwar Temple, Chennai

This festival is popularly known as Arvathi Muvar, named after 63 Nayanmar saints.

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Arvathi Muvar, 63 Nayanmars being carried in chappram, palanquin procession

Ancient Antiquity

The antiquity of this area having continuous habitation for the last 2500 years and more is available to us through poetry, archaeology and monuments.

Recent Antiquity

It is only the British component of Madras, which grew around Fort Saint George, which is of recent antiquity of 375 years.

Chatrapati Shivaji visits Chennai

Chatrapati Shivaji, in his conquest of the south, came upto Chennai. He prayed at the Kalika temple on 16 October, 1677.

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 Chatrapati Shivaji Plaque at the Kalikaamba temple

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Kalikamba Temple, Chennai

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 Shivaji statue found at Kalikambal temple gopuram

British paid honorariums to Shivaji

During this visit to Madras, the British sent him gifts, honorariums, which in the local language is called “Kappam”, twice within a month, to his camping site near the Kalikambal temple, which is to the west of Fort Saint George, which was then the entry point to Madras.

They did this as a good will gesture requesting him not attack their trading post saying that they were only peaceful traders.

Madras First

As the East India Company and the British rule of India slowly grew from Madras. Madras has many firsts to its credit.

·   First Allopathy Hospital in India

·   First Muncipal Corporation in India

·   First Centre of Technical Education In India

·   First English type school

·   First Astronomical Observatory

·   First native infantry regiment

·   Great Trignometrical Survey which measure the size of India, which survey incidently found the Mount Everest to be the tallest peak, started their first survey from Chennai

·   First Railway track for demonstration purpose was laid here

·   Madam Tussads wax museum famous now, was brought to Madras for display, before finally being housed in London.

Becoming a Major City

This town continued to grow over the centuries. Around this piece of land, has grown the modern city of Madras, known as Chennai today.

Madras Day is an occasion to remember the glorious heritage of this city that has evolved over millennia.

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Afghanistan Independence Day

Afghan Anglo Treaty

Afghanistan Independence Day is the day the Anglo – Afghan treaty was signed giving complete independence to Afghanistan from British control. This settlement came forth after the third war between Britain and Afghanistan.

Three Wars

Britain and Afghanistan fought three wars.

First War

In the first war, between 1839 and 1842, the British forces were completely routed by Afghan forces. In this crushing defeat for the British, off the 16000 British soldiers who fought the battle, only one survived.

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 The Lone British survivor

Second War

In the second war, initially the British were on back foot, but came back strongly at the battle of Kandahar. After this there was amity between both for the next 40 years.

Third War

In the third war, of 1919, the British sensing a defeat under the hands of Afghan forces decided to patch up with the Afghans, and ceasefire was agreed upon by both sides. Further negotiations led to the complete independence of Afghanistan on August 19, 1919.

Indo Afghan Connect

The India Afghanistan connect is ancient.

Afghan, Ashva, Ashvaka

The word Afghan comes from the word Ashvaka. In Samskrt, the word Ashva refers to a horse. Ashvaka means ‘A land of horses’. In ancient times, the people of this region were known for raising fine breed of horses. Hence the Afghan region was called Ashvaka in those days.

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Afghanistan, land of horse                                                            Afghan Horses

Gandhara Desha, Gandhari

The Gandhara Desha from Mahabharata times is the present day Khandahar. The mother of the Kauravas got the name Gandhari for she hailed from Gandhara Desha, kingdom of Gandhara.

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Gandhari

Tarim Basin

Until about a thousand years ago, the Tarim Basin in Tibet was Indic in culture & ethnicity and its people spoke the Gandhari language and Khotanese Saka, which are both closely related to Samskrt.

Rivers

The Rig Veda-10.75.6 speaks of the northwestern rivers, tributaries of Indus flowing through Afghanistan and north western Pakistan. The rivers are Trstama, Susartu, Rasa, Shvetya, Sindhu, Kubha, Gomati, Kruma and Mehatnu.

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‘Hara quaiti’ – ‘Saras Vati’

The River Haraquaiti, a tributary of Helmund River in Afghanistan derives it name etymologically from the River Sarasvati.

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River Haraquaiti

Hindu Kingdom

It is a fact that Afghanistan was an Hindu Kingdom till, 871 CE. This kingdom was last ruled by King Lagatorman. His dynasty was also called by the name, Kabul Shahi, Brahman Shahi, Hindu Shahi and Raya of Kabul.

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King Lagatorman

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Coins of Kabul  Shahi Kings

Naga King

A statue of a Naga king holding a lotus can be found at the Afghanistan, Kabul Museum.

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Statue of a Naga King

‘Head of Brahma’

Similarly, a statue called ‘the head of Brahma’ dating to 200 CE is also found in the museum.

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‘Head of Brahma’

Panini

Panini, one of the early grammarians of Samskrt language was a Patan from Afghanistan. His authoritative work on Samskrt grammar is called Ashtadhyayi, Ashta meaning eight and Adhyayi, chapters. This work consists of 8 chapters on the Science of Grammar.

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                                   Panini                                          Panini writing Ashtadhyayi brought out in Indian stamp

Buddhism

Buddhism also had a major presence in Afghanistan as can be seen from the many statues of Buddha at Bamiyan.

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Bamiyan, Afghanistan

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Statues of Buddha in Bamiyan

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A 160 metre statue of Buddha equal to a six storey building in Bamiyan

Hieun Tsang, Chinese traveller describes the statue of a 3rd Buddha, when he visited Bamiyan on his way to India in 630 CE. This is a reclining figure of Buddha about to enter Nirvana.

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Hieun Tsang

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             Buddha in relining position, a sculpture in Bamiyan    

 

Ancient Buddhist city unearthed in Afghanistan

Lady in Namaskara position

A Reliquary Gold set with rubies dating to 200 CE, found in Afghanistan, depicts a lady in the namaskara position and also wearing a bindi. This gold set is presently at the British Museum in London.

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Reliquary Gold Set, British Museum

Tillyya Tepe

Similarly, a pendant, called the Tillyya Tepe found in 100 BCE in Afghanistan has the mark of a bindi.

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Tillyya Tepe Pendant

Connect in recent times

Coming to the present days, the connection continues.

Kabuliwala

Raindranath Tagore wrote a story called Kabuliwala, which was later made into a film.    23          Raindranath Tagore  22

Kabuliwala story

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Film Kabuliwala

Hamid Karzai studied in India

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai studied in India. He came to India as an exchange student and studied at the Himachal Pradesh University.

 

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    Hamid Karzai    

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Himachal Pradesh University

Afghan Snow Cream

Afghan snow cream was one of the popular cream that was used in India, in the days gone by.

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Afghan Snow Popularity through the decades

Close ties through millennia

India and Afghanistan have been geographically and culturally close for many millennia. These are but some of the facets of of these close ties.

 

 

 

Navroz

Navroz is celebrated in the July-August to mark Persian, Parsi New Year. The New Year is calculated based on the Parsi calendar, Shahenshahi.

Navroz is also celebrated on March 21st, on Vernal Equinox day, every year, to mark the first day of Spring.

Nav is new both in Samskrt and Persian. The English word ‘New’ also has same root. Ancient civilizations were connected.

This festival is celebrated not only among Parsis in Iran, but in many countries like Syria, Kazakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

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When the Parsis were persecuted in Persia, a small group came to India for refuge. The Parsis community has since prospered In India and observe all their festivals including Navroz every year.

The Parsi calendar has only 360 days, compared to Gregorian calendar having 365 days.

Before New Year, a 10 day mourning period is observed. The Parsis believe that the departed souls come to earth during these 10 days.

The New Year is a time for celebration, ending the mourning period. On Navroz day Parsi families visit fire temples, early for their morning prayers. The usual practice is to donate sandalwood to the priest to be offered in fire.

Another aspect of the festival is feasting. Many Parsi sweets like Satarfenis and Jilabis are exchanged.

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Feast for Navroz

The families visit each other, dine together and display their cultural unity. Gifts are given away.

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Parsi Family feasting together

Family prayers are also conducted.

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Prayers being conducted on Navroz

On Navroz Day, a special tradition of Churshama Kulla is followed where people jump over fire.

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The practice of jumping over fire on Navroz

Renew Friendship

The celebration of Navroz has got a noble thought in it. Let us all on this occasion, being Parsi or not, observe and genuinely repent for our misdeeds, harsh words, so that we move forward with all members of this world happily. Let us use this day, this occasion to renew our friendships and move forward as this world is one happy family.