Indian National Congress

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

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

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Galapagos Tortoise

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tsunami

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Arjuna viewing the Tsunami from a tree top

– a Southeast Asian representation

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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Eclipse: An Ancient Indian Perspective

An eclipse occurs when the sun is obscured by the moon or the moon comes under the shadow of the earth.

Lunar Eclipse

A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the moon comes under the shadow of the Earth.

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A Lunar Eclipse – Earth’s shadow falling on the moon

Solar Eclipse

A Solar Eclipse occurs when the sun is obscured by the Moon.

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A Solar Eclipse – Moon hiding the Sun

Around 5 to 6 eclipses happen every year.

Recordings of eclipses are available in texts, temple inscriptions, copper plates and legends of the land.

In the Veda

The Veda are considered to be the oldest literature of mankind available today. One among the 4 Veda is the Rig Veda. In this text, in verses 5.40.5 to 9.

A Solar Eclipse- Svarbhanu

It states that, “Svarbhanu, i.e Solar Eclipse etymologically meaning a powerful phenomenon which takes away the splendour of the heavens, occurs, leaving the world bewildered.”

Rishi Atri, the first observer of Eclipse

Atri, the seer or Dhrishta, who observed this eclipse and understood the phenomenon of eclipse, is explaining it to the world through these Vedic verses.”

This makes Rishi Atri, probably the earliest astronomer to have expounded on eclipses for posterity.

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Vedic Rishi Atri, observing an Eclipse

In Ramayana

Notable amongst the celestial events mentioned in the Ramayana is the description of the solar eclipse that occurred on the day of the fight between Rama, the hero of the epic and the two demons Khar and Dushan.

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Solar eclipse on the day of the Khar – Dushan Episode in Ramayana

Searching for this eclipse using the Planetarium Software and the planetary configuration listed in the text, experts have dated this event to 7th October, 5077 BCE or over 7100 years ago, making this eclipse, perhaps one of the earliest recorded eclipses.

This date is substantiated by the internal consistency seen in the dates of other events arrived at by the Planetarium software using the description of the sky configuration from the Ramayana text, their sequence and elapse time between these dates tallying with the sequence and gap between the events as mentioned in the text as well.

Through the times, we see a continuity in the understanding and recording of eclipses.

Why were our ancients interested in eclipses? Why did they learn to predict eclipses?

Dos and Donts surrounding eclipse

We see, there are many elaborate dos and donts surrounding eclipses which have been a tradition of this civilization. Some interesting ones that have continued to this day are

  • eating food atleast 4 to 6 hours before an eclipse and not carrying forward food cooked prior to an eclipse
  • the use of Dharba grass to protect food items and other perishables
  • protection of pregnant women from the rays of sun during solar eclipses
  • not seeing solar eclipse with the naked eye

Advice for Pregnant Women

Scientists have shown today how during a Solar Eclipse, the amount of Ultra Violet rays and other cosmic rays reaching the earth are higher. These rays are harmful to the foetus. Hence pregnant women were advised to cover themselves and stay indoors during an eclipse to protect the foetus from these rays. Even today pregnant women are advised to stay away from radiation exposure of all kinds for example X Rays.

Contamination of Food

The increased exposure to such rays also contaminates food. Carrying forward of food cooked before an eclipse is therefore not advisable. Further more, there is the need to ensure that all food in one’s stomach is digested before the start of an eclipse.

Using Dharba grass

The antidote for preventing the food from contamination by radiation has been the practice of covering food with Dharba grass. This points to our ancients having used the Dharba grass as a shield to absorb the unwanted radiations in the atmosphere, especially those arising during eclipses.

Dharba grass absorbs X Rays

Nascent, independent research on Dharba grass has revealed its ability to absorb X Rays. These early finds make Dharba grass a very promising field of study.

We see a good grasp of astronomy, physics, biology and mathematics all rolled into the practice of predicting eclipses and the traditions followed during an eclipse. This holds good for a host of other astronomical observations and traditions followed too.

Donations During Eclipses

De Dhaan Chute Grahan – is a slogan one got to hear on the streets about 4 to 5 decades, during the time of eclipses.

It means Give Alms To Release The Eclipsed.

It was a common practice in India to give donations during eclipses and other cosmological events such as:

Ayana, Solstices – Dakshinayana, Summer Solstice and Uttarayana, Winter Solstice

  1. Vishnuvrata Equinoxes – Mesha Vishu, Vernal Equinox and Tula Vishu, Autumnal Equinox
  2. Grahana, Eclipses – Surya Grahana, Solar eclipse and Chandra Grahana, Lunar eclipse
  3. Amavasya, New Moon
  4. Yugadi, New Year

Many explain that such Dhana were given in the superstitious belief that the donor will gain relief from the evil forces that were capable of even devouring the Sun and the Moon.

On the contrary, we find from traditional literature that the people were well aware of the scientific nature of these cosmological events. They could predict their occurrences due to their understanding of the motions of the earth, moon and various planets as well as their proficiency in Mathematics, which is needed to model these motions and calculate dates for their occurrences in advance.

Dhana for noble causes was given on these significant days as these days were considered as markers of time and hence would be easily remembered over time.

Every king, landlord, zamindar, royalty made it a point to give Dhana every year from their accumulated wealth. Various kings like Krishnadevaraya, Harshavardhana and others, repeatedly gave Dhana every year and during such events as eclipses.

Many temple inscriptions speak about such Dhana, endowments made to the temple and thereby to the people at large, on the occasion of eclipses.

Eclipses continue to happen and many just ignore them. Inscriptions continue to remain as evidences of the ones gone by but are hardly known to many.

The request for alms on eclipses are no longer heard on the streets. Neither are there donors, nor are there receivers on this day.

But misconceptions about the Indian perception of eclipses continue to loom large in everyone’s minds.

More on Eclipses in our book, Triple Eclipse.

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Purandara Dasa

Birth

One of the foremost composers of Carnatic Music, Purandara Dasa was born at Kshemappura in Karnataka in 1484 CE. He was named Srinivasa Nayaka after the ‘Lord of Seven Hills’ in Tirupati.

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Purandara Dasa

Wealthy Person, Extreme Miser

Srinivasa Nayaka was a shrewd businessmen, the biggest jeweller of his times. He was so rich that he was nicknamed Nava Koti Narayana, meaning his wealth was more than 9 crores of those days’ currency. To expressively state this, he installed 9 kalasa on the top facade of his house, to announce to the world that he was wealthy to the extent of 9 crores.

On the other hand he was an extreme miser.

The incident that changed his life

According to the local legends, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a poor man and approached Srinivasa Nayaka at his shop. He asks Srinivasa Nayaka for money. Srinivasa Nayaka refuses to lend him a penny. After repeated pleas, this man goes to the richest house in that town. Incidentally, this house happens to be the house of Srinivasa Nayaka himself. There he asks his wife for charity. His kindhearted wife finds nothing else but her own nose ring to give in charity.

This man now goes to Srinivasa Nayaka’s shop with the nose ring. As Srinivasa Nayaka had earlier refused to give him any wealth, this poor man pledges for money by giving the nose ring to Srinivasa Nayaka.

Srinivasa Nayaka recognizes it to be his wife’s nose ring, asks him to wait, locks up the nose ring in his safe vault in the shop and goes home to accost his wife.

He asks her to bring him her the nose ring. His wife is at a loss as to how to explain to her miserly husband the charity, dhana that she has done. All the same, in his presence, she goes to the cupboard and opens her jewel box, praying to Devi, to save her. And Lo! She finds her nose ring in her jewel box and with a sigh of relief hands it over to Srinivasa Nayaka.

Now it was Srinivasa Nayaka’s turn to be perplexed. He takes this nose ring and runs to his shop. He opened his safe vault where he had locked his nose ring earlier. Lo and behold, the nose ring was no longer there.

Srinivasa Nayaka then learnt of all that had happened from his wife. By then, the old man had vanished and was not traceable. Srinivasa Nayaka learnt a big lesson from this miracle.

This incident changed his life. It shook him into realization that he was an epitome of Narada, the Divinity for Music.

Wandering Life

Srinivasa Nayaka then gave up his wealth in charity and started a wandering devotional life along with his family, to inspire devotion to the Lord in people, through his compositions.

The subsequent life of Purandara Dasa was spent travelling and composing many songs on Lord Narayana.

He composed over 4 lakh odd songs.

He travelled all across the country visiting major temples such as Tirupati and Pandharapura. He got the name Purandara Dasa after the Deity at Pandharapura – Panduranga, Dasa meaning ‘Servant’.

Formulated Carnatic Music learning

Purandara Dasa formulated the method of learning Carnatic music that is still followed. He brought together the components of Carnatic Music such as Bhava, Raga and Laya.

Pitamaha of Carnatic Music’

He is fondly known as the ‘Grandfather, Pitamaha of Carnatic Music’ for his great contributions to this form of Music.

Purandhara Upanishad

His work consisting of the 4 lakh songs are respectfully referred to as, ‘Purandhara Upanishad’.

Purandara Dasa left for the heavenly abode in 1564 CE, on a Pushya Amavasya Day which falls in the month of January-February.

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Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre

Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre still lingers in our minds.

On 13th April, 1919, the people of Amritsar were peacefully celebrating the Punjabi New Year –Baisakhi at Jallian Wala Bagh, a public garden in Amritsar, when they were mercilessly shot down on the orders of General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, of the colonial British force, and under the approval of Michael O Dwyer, the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.

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One of the worst massacres in the history of humanity, the aftermath of which saw the whole country rising up.

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Jallianwala Bagh tragedy

From this rage was born a freedom fighter who avenged this brutal slaughter.

Advent of Udham Singh

His name is Udham Singh!

If you haven’t heard his name, then we need to understand that there are many such forgotten heroes of this land, who sacrificed their present for our future.

Udham Singh is popularly known as Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh, meaning “The great martyr Udham Singh.”

He was born on 26th December, 1899, at Sunam in Punjab.

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Udham Singh

Ram Mohammed Singh Azad

Udham Singh was a person who believed in the harmony of all religions. He changed his name to Ram Mohammed Singh Azad.

Inspired by Bhagat Singh

The Jallian Wala Bagh tragedy of 1919 had a great impact on the young Udham Singh, when he was just 20 years. From then on, he began to take part in the Indian Freedom Struggle. He was very much inspired by the revolutionary activities of Bhagat Singh and his group, and followed in his footsteps.

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Bhagat Singh

Joining Ghadar Party

In 1924, he became involved with the Ghadar Party, a party founded by the Sikhs in US and Canada, with the aim of securing freedom for India, from the British. He lived in these countries for the next 3 years.

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Ghadar Party Symbol

Return to India

In 1927, he returned to India, under the request of Bhagat Singh, with 25 associates as well as many arms and ammunitions.

Arrest and Release

He was soon prosecuted and sent to prison by the British, for 5 years, for carrying these weapons.

In 1931, he was released, but his actions were under constant surveillance.

Escape to Germany

Udham Singh, however didn’t give up. The constant thought in his mind was to avenge the Jallian Wala Bagh massacre.

He was able to evade the police and slip away to Kashmir. From here, he escaped to Germany.

Reaches London

In, 1934, he reached London, where he planned to assassinate Michael O Dwyer, who had approved the Jallian Wala Bagh massacre, as the Governor of Punjab.

He had to however wait for another 6 years to actually execute his plan.

Assassination of Michael O Dwyer

On 13th March, 1940, Michael O Dwyer was to speak at the joint meeting of the East India Association at 10 Caxton Hall, in London. Udham Singh found this an apt opportunity to aim at his target. He hid a revolver in his jacket, took a comfortable seat, and shot Dwyer twice, as he was moving towards the speakers’ stage. This was on the eve of Baisakhi.

Michael O Dyer was immediately killed, and Udham Singh was arrested at the site.

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Udham Singh being taken away, after he shot Michael O Dwyer

Udham Singh’s reply at the Trial

On 1st April, 1940 charges were formally framed against him.

When asked about his motivation, during the trial, Udham Singh had replied,

“I don’t care. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?”

Martyrdom

Udham Singh was convicted and sentenced to death, by the British Court.

On 21st July, 1940, he was martyred at the Penton Ville Prison.

This act of Udham Singh in 1940, was an important step towards India’s freedom in 1947.

A martyr whose name should be written in golden letters for his contribution towards Indian Independence.

Hanuman Jayanthi

Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman is one of the popular divinities across India. Hanuman is venerated by millions, for his intelligence, strength, devotion, faith and courage. He is one of the central characters of Ramayana and is worshipped as the foremost devotee of Lord Rama. It is often said that, Rama as an Avatar, could not fly on His own, but Hanuman could fly over the seas.

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Hanuman flying with the Sanjeevani Parvat

Hanuman, Meaning

Hanuman as the name suggests in Samskrt language, is a person with a long jaw. Hanuman is depicted as a human with a protruding jaw, which resembles that of a monkey. His imagery shows that he had a protruding jaw, prompting people then, to call him Hanuman.

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Hanuman

Hanuman is regarded as Vayu Putra or the son of the wind divinity. He is also called Maruti, the son of Marut, the divinity for a special type of spatial wind.

Anjaneya is another name for Hanuman, meaning, ‘the son of Anjana’, who was the mother of Hanuman.

Chiranjeevi

It is believed that Hanuman lives on even today, as he is one of the Chiranjeevi, living eternally in the physical body.

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Hanuman, the Chiranjeevi

We see his footprints in the Mahabharata. He is a distant cousin of Bhima, one of the Pandava. In the Kurukshetra battle, the chariot of Arjuna, another Pandava, has a Vanara Dwaja, with Hanuman in his flag.

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Bhima

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Arjuna’s chariot with Vanara Dwaja

Different dates of birth

The birth of Hanuman is celebrated on different dates in this land. This is probably due to different systems, scriptures and calendars in the country.

In North India, this day is observed on the 15th Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month.  In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in the month of Margazhi, Margashirsha, in the months of December-January, as there is a belief here that Hanuman was born under Moola Nakshatra, scorpio star of Amavasya.

Different birth Places

In the Tirumala hills of Andhra, also called Sapthagiri as it comprises of 7 hills, there is one hill called Anjandari. This is not the actual place of Hanuman’s birth, but was the area where Anjana, the mother of Hanuman resided.

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Anjanadri hill, Tirumala

There is one belief which suggests that Hanuman was born in Kishkinda at Anjaneya hill near Hospet, in north Karnataka. There is another belief which has Anjanari in Nasik district, as the birth place of Anjaneya.

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Hanuman statue at Hanuman’s birth place in Anjanari

Similar figure in Mexico

The image and story of Echtill in the Aztec legends of Mexico, is similar to that of Hanuman of the Indian legend.

The Aztec legends speak about Echtill, who is explained as the son of wind. The same legend further goes on to state that, it is his breath that moves the Sun.

A statue was found while excavating for a subway station in Mexico City and reported in the National Geographic magazine in the December 1990. This figure excavated in Mexico too, is that of a human with a long jaw face.

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       Mexican Image   

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 Indian Image

Observe the Jaw Protrusion in both

In the Aztec legend there is a link between the Sun and Echtill. In the Indian legend of Hanuman too, there is an interesting anecdote of Hanuman flying towards the sun to eat it.

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Hanuman Flying towards Sun

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

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Was Hanuman a monkey?

Now, Hanuman and other Vanara are commonly referred to as Monkeys. Were they really monkeys?

Monkey is a term that has been loosely used in the last couple of hundred years to explain the term Vanara in the English language. The term Vanara when analyzed, can give us vital clues, some of them being,

  • People of the forest or Vana –Vana nara, nara meaning man
  • Vanara could be an exclamatory! Word, Vah nara? “Are they human?”

So human like, yet different!

This may have been the way to express different varieties of people as is evident from other words in our ancient texts such as Kinnara or Kimpurusha. Kin, Kim here meaning, “Are they?” and Purusha and Nara meaning men or humans.

There probably were people in those days, very similar to what we now understand as normal humans, but who had a minor but perceptible variance, which raised exclamation. This could well have been a part of the evolution process.

Vanara were known as Rama Banta, meaning “A follower of Rama” in the Andhra and Karnataka regions of South India. The word Bantu was used for singular form and Bantlu for plural. This word Bantlu was used by people as respect and formed a part of many surnames in these regions.  In ancient time, these regions in South India comprised of the geography of Vanara region. The people who lived in the forests of Andhra were called Banajara.

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Geography of Vanara region

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                                                                 Rama Bantlu                                                                            

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 Banjara

More on this and the various incidents involving Hanuman in the Ramayana, the dates pertaining to these events are discussed in our book and Film ‘Historical Rama’.

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On this Hanuman Jayanthi, let us take inspiration from Hanuman and follow in His footsteps. Then Hanuman will live on in our hearts.

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Statues of mighty Sri Hanuman in Bali, Indonesia