Gangadhara – A SHORT FILM

The release of Ganga was a River Engineering feat of Bhagiratha. #BharathGyanShortFilm – Gangadhara – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=u-aW3GTGP-g&list=PL9QLcyiVla352leXqBX6smjKtdhJ7ZhOQ&t=0s&index=2

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Ganga Dashami

Imprints of Ganga

For many millennia, even though India gets her name from the Indus, i.e Sindhu River and Veda, the oldest compendium of literature in the world were compiled by the river Sarasvati, it is Ganga that has defined India. India is known as the land of the Ganga.

Coming down from the snowy heights of the Himalaya and flowing through the northern belt of India to join the Bay of Bengal in the East, this perennial river has been revered as the holy mother “Ma Ganga”, who washes away all sins, not only by the Indians but by many of the South East Asian civilizations too.

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Bhagiratha Prayathna

In the Purana, the legends of ancient India, we have the story of Bhagiratha, an ancient king of this land belonging to the Surya Vamsa, Solar Dynasty. He was the illustrious forefather to Rama and Dasaratha, illustrious because he diverted the waters of the Ganga by his extraordinary effort, to the present day Gangetic plains.

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Bhagiratha Prayatna

This effort of Bhagiratha is celebrated in the legends as Bhagiratha Prayathna, the extraordinary or superhuman effort of Bhagiratha in bringing the waters to his parched kingdom.

Once the river Ganga was brought this side of the Himalaya and started flowing through the land, the waters gave prosperity to the land through the ages. So Ganga, with its waters has been giving unending prosperity to a civilisation for generations and generations to come.

Akshaya Trithiya

Akshaya Trithiya is the day Bhagiratha cut through the rocks in the upper Himalaya and brought the waters of the Ganga, this side to give unending prosperity to his land, kingdom and people.

It is this event of bringing prosperity with the waters that has been commemorated with the Akshaya Trithiya day.

The worldwide popularity of Ganga

Ganga has captured the hearts of so many across the world that she can be found depicted in many lands across the world in form, fame and name. (Preethi in murthi, kirthi and sruthi).

In Rome

For instance, one of the oldest depictions of Ganga river is actually in Rome. Ganga forms one of the 4 rivers in the fountain at Piazza Novonna built in 200 CE.

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Piazza Novona in Rome depicting the 4 popular rivers of the world in 200 CE – Tiber, Nile, Rhine, Ganges

In Sri Lanka – Kelani Ganga

In the south of India, in Sri Lanka, there is a place called Kelaniya on the banks of the river Kelani Ganga. Kelaniya from many millennia is held as the place where Vibhishana had his palace. A temple in honour of Vibhishana stands here even to this day. The outer wall of the temple building, which also houses a Buddhist shrine and monastery, bears a mural depicting the Coronation, pattabhisheka of Vibhishana by Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama.

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Buddha Vihar and Vibhishana Temple

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Ganga Sculpture at the temple on the banks of Kelaniya Ganga River

It is interesting to note that the river by this palace was called Kelani which is a morphed version of the word Kalyani, meaning abundance giving, auspicious.

More on this in our book, Ramayana in Lanka.

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Ganga – Perennial Rivers, Oya – Minor Rivers

The river was called Ganga since the word Ganga means one that is perennial. It has now come to be associated with larger rivers whereas minor rivers are called Oya in Sri Lanka.

Other Gangas in Sri lanka

For example there are Kalu Ganga near Bentota, Menik Ganga, Gin Ganga etc. in Sri Lanka itself.

In Early European Maps

Early European navigation maps of the world clearly depict India as a land of Ganga.

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Tabula Peutingeriana showing Indi by Peutinger in 200 CE

Ganga made her way not only to the seas of the Bay of Bengal but her name and fame had made their way all over the world.

Alexander’s wish

Alexander’s wish to see Ganga flowing in 326 BCE, the erection of a fountain in Rome in commemoration of the 4 major rivers of the world with Ganga figuring in that list in 200 CE and India being distinguished by the Ganges river on the maps of Europe right from 2000 years ago, are proof enough of her popularity around the world through the times.

India was mapped by the Ganga. India was branded by the Ganga.

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India delineated as “India Intra Gangem” and “India Extra Gangem” on either side of the Ganga by Ptolemy in 140 CE

In Cambodia

If Ganga is found in the West, she can also be seen in the East in Cambodia. Tucked away in the jungles of Kulen Mountains, she is found as a concept, sculpted on the hard rocky stone. She is shown originating from Vishnu’s feet, touching Shiva’s head and then flowing over Sahasra Shiva linga carved on the bed rock of the headwaters of the Stung Kbal Spean river which is a tributary of the Siam Reap river that flows down from the Kulen Mountains to Angkor Wat. Dating to 11th century CE, Ganga has been depicted here as a legend.

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Sculptures of Ma Ganga story in the upper reaches of Stung Kbal Spean, a tributary of Siem Reap river, which in turn is a tributary of Mekong, flowing through the Kuhlen mountains near Angkor in Cambodia

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This stone carving of the 1000 Linga in Cambodia, built during the time of King Udayadityavarman II, in turn is found back home in South India too.

A similar depiction of Ganga and 1000 Linga can be found on the river Shalmala in the jungles near Sirsi, Karnataka. It was built in the 17th century during the reign of Sadashivarayavarma, the king of the Sirsi kingdom.

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Mekong – A Morphed version of Ganga

The Mekong of Cambodia is a morphed version of Maa Ganga.

The very name Mekong for the main river of South East Asia, is the Cambodian way of saying ‘Ma Ganga’ – ‘Me Kong’. The reverence of the South East Asians, for Ma Ganga, can be seen in Mekong, right from its name to the sculptures along the river that depict its legend.

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Map highlighting Ganga and Mekong

In India

Most perennially flowing rivers in the Indian subcontinents and S.E.Asia were called a Ganga, as they were nurturing their respective regions like Ganga does, through the year.

Wain Ganga, PenGanga, VedGanga

In India too, besides the Ganga, we have the Wain Ganga, PenGanga, VedGanga etc.

Godavari – Vrddha Ganga

Another long and wide river of India is the Godavari which rises from Trimbakeshwar in Nashik and flows from west to east across India to drain out into the Bay of Bengal.

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Godavari River, location

One other name for this Godavari is Vrddha Ganga meaning the “Older Ganga.”

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River Godavari, also known as Vrdha Ganga

Krishnaa – Elder sister of Ganga

Yet another river of India, Krishnaa, is also referred to in legends as the elder sister of Ganga.

Interestingly both are Deccan Plateau Rivers and flow through the Telugu lands.

Telugu Ganga Canal

Similarly, the canal that brings Krishna river to Chennai, an initiative of N T Rama Rao and M G Ramachandran, is known as Telugu Ganga.

Cauvery – Dakshina Ganga

Cauvery River is known as Dakshina Ganga, meaning the Ganga of the South.

Ganga Talao in Mauritius

Likewise, further south, in Mauritius, the Indians residing there have named one of their reservoirs as Ganga Talao, meaning Ganga Lake.  This shows the connect they still have with Ganga. It also shows how Ganga is held as a symbol of a nourisher by people all over.

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Ganga Talao

Ganga Sagar

With the Ganga River, draining into the Bay of Bengal, the Bay of Bengal, naturally and rightfully has been called the Ganga Sagar for many millennia, till the British in their maps started referring to Ganga Sagar as Bay of Bengal.

More on Ganga as a timeless brand of India, in our book, Brand Bharat – Unique To India.

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Ellora

If we travel to the heart of India, near Aurangabad we find the heritage site of Ellora.

Ellora is one of largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world today. Built through 400 years, from 600 to 1000 CE, it has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site.

The unique feature of Ellora is that the temple complex was carved top down from a single rock, rather than built from bottom up.

It is an architectural marvel, in that, the sculpting was started in 600 CE and completed in 1000 CE. The design was envisaged by the architects who lived in 600 CE and the temple was completed by the 8th generation of architects down the line.

In this famed temple, one can find sculptures of Ganga on the caves.

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Sculptures of Ganga at Ellora cave

Udaygiri caves

Further central to India, in the much more old Udayagiri caves in today’s Madhya Pradesh, dating to 5th century CE, one can find Ganga on the wall near the Varaha caves of Udayagiri.

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Sculpture of Ganga at Udaygiri Caves, Madhya Pradesh

Mahabalipuram

One of the best depictions of Ganga in India by far is the bas relief of the Descent of Ganga, carved on the hard granite rocks in Mahabalipuram, near Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

Dating to early 7th century CE, this panel forms an exquisite backdrop for the Annual Dance Conference held here, every year.

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Bas Relief of the descent of Ganga at Mahabalipuram

Why is Ganga held so dear in every one’s heart?

Aren’t other rivers equally special, after all they too nourish the lands they flow through?

They are long, wide and full of water like the Ganga too.

Did not the Sindhu and Sarasvati nurture the civilization of Bharat along their banks?

What is so special about the Ganga?

Ganga – The Jiva Nadi

The term Ganga itself means Perennial. All across the civilization, some of the key perennial rivers had the suffix of Ganga, implying tis perennial nature. The term for perennial nature in Indian language is Jiva Nadi, the one that has Jiva, life, for it is the perennial waters that sustain Jeevan, life. The perennial waters that which sustains civilizations. What apt naming! The intrinsic connect between perennial rivers and sustainable civilization brought out so beautifully in the continuously surviving civilization of Bharata Khanda.

The Worldwide imprints of the Ganga are not just for its size or discharge but because of the nature of it being a hydraulic river engineering marvel of a bygone era.  Let us in our generation strive to keep this symbol of India, clean and flowing with Divinity and vitality.

Summer Solstice

An important astronomic event happens every year in the month of June. This event is an important time marker in our lives.

Sun’s Movement

As we know, the earth is tilted on its axis by 23.4 degrees. Because of this tilt and the revolution of the earth around the sun, we perceive the sun to be moving northwards and southwards between the 2 latitudes, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, successively, in its annual six monthly journey each way.

Uttarayan & Dakshinayan

On June 21st of every year, our sun reaches the northern end of its journey at the Tropic of Cancer and transits into its journey southwards towards the tropic of Capricorn. The northern journey of the sun is known UttarayanUttar meaning north and the Southern Journey is called DakshinayanDakshin meaning southward.

Sun – Still

21st June is the day the sun reaches the northern most point of its journey and seems to be stationary on that day at the Tropic of Cancer. It is called the Summer Solstice. Sol meaning “Solar,” and Stice meaning “stationary”.

 1 Longest Day

For the people living in the northern hemisphere, this happens to be the longest day of the year.

Mid Summer Day

It is the mid summer day. A month before and after this day is peak summer in the northern hemisphere. This season in Indian languages is known as Greeshma Rthu, Greeshma meaning warm or hot. That is why we have the Hindi word ‘garam’ for hot.

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 Sun temples

In commemoration of this day, we have many sun temples in India. There is a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude along the tropic of Cancer, where the sun seems stationary for a few days.

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Stonehenge in England

Summer solstice has been celebrated at Stonehenge in England from Pagan days.

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Midsummer

In modern days, this day is observed as Midsummer all across Europe.  It is also called St John’s day. Bonfires are lit to celebrate the hottest period of the year.

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Shakespear Drama

William Shakespeare, the celebrated English playwright has written a drama called Mid Summer Night’s Dream, relating to this day.

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Other names in other parts

The day is similarly celebrated in other parts of the world under different names.

Festival Country
Tiregan Iran
Kapala Night Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia
Wianki Poland
Juhannus Finland
Jani Latvia
Saint Jonas’ Festival Lithuania

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International Yoga Day

Yoga-The Union

 

Yoga-1

The Roots

Yoga, the latest rave across the world, comes from the root Yug, Jug which means to align.

It is the same root as for the word “Yoke” which is used to align bullocks to pull a cart.

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YogaYug/Jug – Yoke – Join

The root of the word Yoga and its practice, lies in India.

The Practice

Yoga is not just exercise or postures.

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Yoga, as the name suggests, is the practice by way of which mind, body and breath are aligned to achieve a state of harmony with each other and to become homogeneous with the cosmic consciousness – a state that brings with it a sense of freshness, energy and calm, a sense of balance of the various senses and emotions.

The extent of harmony and balance maintained, defines the depth of insight the Yogi has gained.

In a simplistic form, it is a structured combination of

  • Asana – exercise postures for the body,
  • Pranayama – regulating energy through control of the breath and
  • Dhyana – meditation for the mind,

along with maintaining physiological, psychological and sociological hygiene through Yama (control / abstinence), Niyama (adherence) and other guidelines.

Daily activities as Yoga

In our life, the various activities that we perform are also various aspects of Yoga. For example,

  1. When we greet each other with Namaste, it is Anjali Mudra.
  2. When we sit down on the floor to eat, the sitting position is called Suhasan, one of the asana, postures of Yoga
  3. After eating, the asana, posture that is  suggested for easy digestion is Vajrasana
  4. The sleeping posture is Shavasana. The act of sleeping with awareness is known as Yoga Nidra

The common punishment asana is called Palikarsha. In Hindi it is called Baski and in Tamil Topukaranam. It is the act of crossing one’s arms and holding the opposite side ear lobes and performing situps.

Mistakes usually happen due to lack of knowledge and awareness. The Palikarsha posture stimulates the nadi, nerve which helps enhance neuron cells, their perfect connectivity and thus improves knowledge acquisition and transfer process within the body. It also helps to internalize whatever is learnt and to become more aware.

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Palikarsha

Like this, every simple activity is linked to one of the yogic postures or the other.

Child – An Expert in Yoga

Yoga comes to us naturally right from our childhood.

Many of the different poses that a child does in its antics are yogic poses. As we grow from childhood into youth, we need to continue our practice of Yoga.

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Children bending their bodies in play like Yoga Asanas

Yoga as a structured practice by the adults can be traced to India to beyond 7100 years ago at the very least.

A 7100 Year Old Structured Practice

The general opinion is that Yoga is 5000 years old. But we can see the trace of Yoga even during Ramayana times, 7100 years ago. Yoga was a specialized practice then too and hence must date to times before Rama as well.

Yoga Vasishta

The antiquity of Yoga can be ascertained from the fact that Rama’s Spiritual Guru, Vasishta, counselled and groomed Rama’s mind through the treatise Yoga Vasishta. One of the longest texts in Samskrt after Mahabharata, Yoga Vasishta forms an important text for Yoga and Advaita Vedanta (Non duality).

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Vasishta imparting Yoga Vasishta to Rama – An Illustration on Art of Living CD Cover

Rama’s birth datable to 5114 BCE, makes Yoga Vasishta and the concept of Yoga, atleast 7100 years old.

Continuous practice

From the timeless Veda, we can see that Indians have been in the habit of this continuous practice to keep both mind and body fit. Antiquity can be seen both in art and text.

In art, we can see a continuity of Yoga practice right from Mohenjodaro and Harappan times in the form of terracota Yogic posture figurines.

146 Yoga Poses Fig.jpg

As far as texts go, across the times, illumined minds have given structure to this practice, through a large body of texts, thereby giving Yoga practice, a breath of fresh air every few generations.

Rishi Patanjali and Yoga

Rishi Patanjali, one of the earliest pioneers of Yoga was born in the land known today as Afghanistan.

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An idol of Patanjali

When Rishi Gonika was praying to Surya, Sun with cupped hands – an Anjali Mudra, a yogic posture, a baby fell into it. The child was thus named Patanjali, meaning one who fell into cupped hands.

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Anjali to Surya

Rishi Patanjali had his education at Takshashila University, the premier centre of advanced learning then, which is near present day Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Takshashila was a sought after centre for higher studies in Yoga, Ayurveda among many other subjects.

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Takshashila Ruins of today

Patanjali Rameshwaram Connect

Rishi Patanjali attained his Samadhi in Rameshwaram in South India.

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Rameshwaram Temple

Rama installs Rameshwaram Lingam

Rameshwaram is one of the hallowed places of India, where Rama installed and worshipped a Shiva Lingam, before his battle with Ravana.

More on Rama installing the Lingam at Rameshwarm in our book ‘Historical Rama’.

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Rama praying to Shiva Linga                  Rameshwaram Temple                                                        Historical Rama

Rameshwaram – A Jyothir Linga

The Lingam at Rameshwaram is one of the 12 Jyothir Lingas. We discuss the significance of Jyothir Linga and Rameshwaram in our book ‘Understanding Shiva’.

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Understanding Shiva

It is in such a holy place that Patanjali lived, practised and propagated Yoga and eventually attained samadhi.

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Rishi Patanjali Samadhi, Rameshwaram

Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra composed by Rishi Patanjali, which goes back by many millennia, has been a forerunner and guide for the practice of Yoga in all these years.  Traditional Yoga as in Yoga Sutra is about meditation and mantra (OM-pranava). Asana had a secondary role. Yoga must lead to meditation and Samadhi to achieve its true goal of self-realization.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra being explained by H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living

Rishi Patanjali recorded, systematized and expounded Yoga through the entire stretch of land from north-west Afghanistan, where He was born, to Rameshwaram in south-east India, where He attained Samadhi.

Thus the structured practice of Yoga was not limited to north India alone, but has stretched from north-west India to south-east India, covering the whole civilization of India.

Shiva-Adi Yogi

Shiva is referred to as Adi Yogi, represented as a bodily form, Shankara.

Indus Valley Pashupathi Seal

Probably one of the earliest representations, can be found in the Harappa – Mohenjodaro seal of Pashupathi, where Shiva or Pashupathi is shown seated in a Padamasana pose with all the animals surrounding Him.

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Pashupathi seal from Harappa

Gundestrup Cauldron

A very interesting archaeological find in Denmark, of a very ancient bowl, at a place called Gundestrup, throws new light on Pashupathi and His following. This bowl, now called the Gundestrup Cauldron, bears in one of its panels, an image very similar to the Pashupathi seal unearthed from the Harappa – Mohenjodaro sites.

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Gundestrup cauldron, Denmark, Unearthed in 1891 Dating back to 150 BCE & Pashupathi

Indo-Euro Yogic connect

This shows that this yogic form was prevalent not only to the Indus Valley sites but even to far away Denmark in North Western Europe.

Krishna – Yogeshwara

Sri Krishna was an exemplary Jnana Yogi. Krishna also speaks about other Yoga such as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Gita Upadesha was given on 22nd November, 3067 BCE. How we have conclusively arrived at this date, is discussed in our book, “Historical Krishna”.

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                  Gita Upadesha                                 Historical Krishna

This implies that Krishna and His Upadesha, counsel on Yoga are historical and real.

This means that Yoga and it benefits are also real.

This positions Yoga as not just exercise postures, Asana, but as knowledge, action, devotion, all coming together, to verily become a harmonious way of life.   

Yogasana and Namaz Postures

There are interesting similarities between Yogasana Postures and the Muslim practice of Namaz.

Namaz Postures have their equivalent names and poses in Yogasana as can been in this chart.

Yogasana Namaz Postures
Namaste Qiyam
Ardha Uttanasana Ruk’u
Vajrasana Julus
Balasana Sujud

yoga

Similarities of Yogasana and Namaz Postures

The similarity of Yogasana and Namaz Postures shows unison. For, Yoga itself means to unite, to come together.

Yoga Travels World Over

This structured practice of Yoga has now travelled and become popular world over as one of the preferred forms of keeping body and mind fit with one move.

Yoga to Near West

A look into the past shows that even Sufi saints from the Near West, Sultans and Mughal kings have interacted with Yogis, with an open mind inorder to learn of the good aspects of Yoga from its master practitioners.

Yoga to Far West

The visit of Swami Vivekananda to US in 1893 was a kick off point for Yoga in the modern international arena. Yoga kicked off and spread as a big  in the US and worldwide.

Yoga to the East

Yoga went to the East from India along with Buddhism more than 2000 years ago, for Dhyan, meditation lies at the heart of Buddhism.

A sitting example is at the west entrance of Wat Phra Kew, the main temple attached to the Grand Palace at Bangkok, Thailand, in the form of a bronze statue popularly called “The Hermit Doctor”.

The locals refer to this statue as their patron of medicine, an Indian hermit Jivaka, who gave them Yoga and herbal medicine and hence offer prayers and other offerings here, to get cured of illnesses.  This Jivaka was none other than the personal physician of the Buddha.

This statue at the front of the temple is placed on a stone pedestal, with another pedestal in front, bearing a stone mortar and pestle – an indication of how he practiced medicine with herbs, he used to grind.

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Jivaka, Patron Hermit of Yoga and Medicine, Wat Phra Kew, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Further more, many Yoga postures can be seen displayed by statues in the gardens of Wat Pho, the temple adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, which houses the Reclining Buddha and is home to the original Thai massage. Housing many plaques with inscriptions on the pressure points in the human body, this temple from a long time has been renowned as a study centre for Ayurveda including Thai style of massages and Yoga.

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Statues depicting Yoga Postures at Wat Pho Temple in Thailand, Bangkok

The statue, 2nd from left in the 2nd row, just under the large leafed plant can be seen

doing Pranayama, breathing exercise, with his hands on his waist

Yoga, Now a Global Brand

It was Paramahamsa Yogananda and then Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri. Krishnamacharya, Sri B.K.S.Iyengar, their disciples and Gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev, who have literally taken Yoga to the world.

World Yoga Day

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a clarion call to have an World Yoga Day declared, to raise awareness of keeping mind and body fit through Yoga.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in his address to UN Assembly in September 2014, made a request to formalize a World Yoga day. The UN body adopted this resolution and passed it with a overwhelming majority in December 2014.

The world now has a new day to observe and celebrate – A World Yoga Day!

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June 21st of every year, which is the day of Summer Solstice, i.e. the day when the Sun is seen longest in the sky, the day when daylight is maximum, was declared by UN on 12th December 2014, as World Yoga Day.

It is an apt day to be chosen as a World Yoga Day for every Yoga session typically starts with Surya Namaskar, the reverence to the Sun. What could be a better day than a Summer Solstice, the day when the Sun is in its peak to revere and celebrate the connection between our body and the Sun. It is the connection which drives the very metabolism clock in our bodies.

What is even more amazing is that, the proposal from India to the UN, to declare June 21st as World Yoga Day was seconded and co-sponsored by an unprecedented number of 175 nations out of 193.

This is indeed a remarkable feat. Normally, so many countries coming together in the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution for a commemorating day is rare.

For the 1st time so many nations have unanimously voted for a declaration in the history of UN General Assembly and that too within a record 3 months of the proposal having been put up in September 2014.

This in itself is proof of the universal acceptance of Yoga.

The popularity of Yoga and universality of Yoga, is what led so many countries to come together to jointly announce a World Yoga Day.

“Yoga embodies

  • unity of mind and body;
  • thought and action;
  • restraint and fulfilment;
  • harmony between man and nature;
  • a holistic approach to health and well being.” ,

were the words with which India described Yoga and garnered this support.

No wonder then that people across the globe, across times have therefore held and continue to hold Yoga in high respect and demand. The need for Yoga and the benefits of Yoga are as universal, as is our breath and our desire to be in union with the divine.

Yoga is a universal offering from India which has the potential to align all bodies and minds, across the world, towards the common goal of self realization, oneness, unity and peace.

Battle of Haldighat

A fierce battle was fought between Rajput King Maha Rana Pratap and Mughal King Akbar on June 18th, 1576 CE, which has now come to be called the Battle of Haldighat.  Another record says that this battle was fought on 21st June. But these four days from 18th to 21st are commemorated in Haldighat and also at his birth place.

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Akbar’s Ploy

Akbar wanted to extend his Mughal Empire. The ploy he adopted was to take strong Hindu kings under him through friendship. These Hindu kings in turn helped him to defeat other Hindu kings.

Maha Rana Pratap

Maha Rana Pratap was persuaded by Akbar in every way, to come under him, but the Rajput King refused. Akbar soon lost his cool and declared a war on Rana Pratap. Rana Pratap also made preparations for the battle.

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 The battle

The two armies took stage at Haldighat. Akbar’s Army had 200000 soldiers while Rana Pratap had only 22,000.

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Great Valour by Rana Pratap

The lesser numbers for Rana Pratap did not mean that the battle was a cake walk for Akbar. Rana Pratap and his soldiers fought with great valour.

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Chetak Horse

As much as this battle was fought by Rana Pratap’s brave warriors, it was also a story of great versatility shown by his horse, Chetak.

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Even though Rana Pratap was defeated, Akbar’s army could not completely conquer the Rajput king.

Sacrifice of Chetak

Rana Pratap’s horse made a great sacrifice in saving his master. Just as Alexander had a brave horse in Bucephalus, Rana Pratap had Chetak. Chetak was a native breed war horse, a Kathiawari.

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Chetak was seriously injured in the battle, but, to save his master’s life, it crossed over a big canal, to safety.

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As soon as it crossed, it fell down dead. Rana Pratap broke down and was moved by the great commitment his horse had shown in saving his life.

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A statue in memory

He created a beautiful garden at the spot where Chetak had passed away. A statue was later erected in its memory at Haldighat, where it had shown great bravery.

Scooter and Helicopter in its name

The valour of this horse is so ingrained in the Indian minds that the famous scooter in the 1980s and 1990s of India was named Chetak. Chetak is also an inspiration behind the name of India’s indigenously built helicopter. There is also an Express train in the name of Chetak.

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Many statues have been built over the centuries depicting Rana Pratap on his horse, Chetak.

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Popular across land

This battle of Haldighat goes down as one of the greatest battles fought by Maha Rana Pratap.

After this battle, the ethos and valour of Maha Rana Pratap reached far and wide through the country.

In Coin

His valour has been commemorated by the Government in a coin.

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A Serial

A serial on Maha Rana Pratap is being aired in TV, in English, Hindi and other vernacular languages. It is also popular in regions where Maha Rana Pratap has not visited. Such is the spread of his valour all over the land, across languages.

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Rani Lakshmibai

Rani Lakshmibai was born on 19th November, 1828 at Varanasi. She is popularly known in this land as Jhansi Ki Rani, meaning “Queen of Jhansi” as she ruled over the Maratha state Jhansi. She fought against British with the slogan Meri Jhansi Nahin Doongi. She was the rallying spirit behind the 1857 war of Independence against the British.

 Jhansi 1.jpg

Rani Lakshmibai

Birth

Rani Lakshmibai was born into a Maratha family. Her parents Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre named her Manikarnika, after the Manikarnika Shakti Peeth in Varanasi.

Chhabili

Her father worked for the Peshwa, chief minister of Bithoor district. The Peshwa was very fond of her and nicknamed her Chhabili, meaning ‘playful’.

Education

She was educated in archery, horsemanship and self-defence at a very young age.

Marriage

In the year 1842, she was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the Maharaja of Jhansi. From then on she was called Lakshmibai and also Jhansi Ki Rani.

Son and Adopted Son

In 1851, Rani Lakshmibai gave birth to a son named Damodar Rao. The child was not to live long as he passed away within 4 months. Gangadhar Rao then adopted a child born to his cousin. This child was also named Damodar Rao.
Gangadhar Rao soon passed away in the year 1853, leaving alone his wife and adopted son. Rani Lakshmibai started ruling the kingdom.

British wanting to Annex Jhansi

British had by then annexed many of the Indian states and now wanted to seize Jhansi. Lord Dalhousie was the governor General of British India then. He sent notices to Rani Lakshmibai, rejecting her son Damodar Rao’s right to throne. They said that as Damodar Rao was not the biological son of Gangadhar Rao, he cannot lay claim to throne and that the state of Jhansi now belonged to the British. In this backdrop, Rani Lakshmibai was paid Rs 60,000 as pension and was ordered to vacate the palace at Jhansi fort.
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Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi

Rani Lakshmibai was however not going to give up easily. She strengthened her defences and enlarged her Army recruiting many warriors of those times like Khuda Baksh, Gaulam Gaus Khan and Dost Khan among others into the army. Her famous slogan was “Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi”, meaning, “I won’t give my Jhansi”.

First War of Independence

Three years later, in the year 1857, the first War of Independence broke out and there was unrest throughout the country. The attention of British was turned away from Jhansi to other parts of the country. Rani Lakshmibai seized this moment to further mobilize her forces.

The Battle

In the year 1858, after the First War of Independence, the British forces under Hugh Rose decided to lay siege on Jhansi. Rani Lakshmibai and her forces were by then fully prepared to take on the British.
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A fierce battle began between the Jhansi forces and British troops on 23rd May, 1858. Rani Lakshmibai led from the front and gave a tough time to the British, in a battle that lasted for two weeks. Her forces were also joined by the army of Tantya Tope.
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Her army was however not able to hold on against the British Troops who were more experienced in warfare and the British captured Jhansi fort.

Escape and Recoup

Rani Lakshmibai managed to escape from the city along with her few guards, by making a brave jump from the fort, on her horse.
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Rani Lakshmibai and her son Damodar Rao recouped their forces and joined with the other rebel group of Tantiya Tope.

Defeating Gwalior Maharaja

The combined forces of Rani Lakshmbai and Tantiya Tope now moved to Gwalior, where they defeated the Maharaja of Gwalior, who had joined hands with the enemy forces and captured the Gwalior fort.

Death

The British attacked Gwalior in a few days. Rani Lakshmibai passed away on 18th June, 1858, while saving the Gwalior fort.

Praise from the Enemy Camp

The remarkable bravery and courage she had shown all through, made even General Hugh Rose of the enemy camp remark, “Remarkable for her beauty, perseverance and intelligence, she was the most dangerous of all the rebel rulers”.

Legacy

After her death, she became a symbol of bravery and courage and was considered an icon by many freedom fighters who came after her, in the struggle for Independence. Many women were influenced by her life.

Portrait of Queen Laxmi Bai Made During Her Lifetime, Found In 1857 During Capture of Farrukhabad’s Palace Army

Army Female Unit named after her

The first female unit of the Indian Army was named after her.

Statues

Statues of Jhansi were erected in Jhansi and Gwalior, the two places of her glory.
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Post Independence, her statues were built in every nook and corner of the land as people still saw her as an epitome of bravery.
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Stamps

Stamps have been issued in her name by the Government of India.
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Films

Many films and serials have also been made on the life of Rani Lakshmibai.
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Part of school books

Today, every child knows her name as ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’, as her inspiring life has become part of textbooks in schools.
Rani Lakshmibai will remain an inspiration for the women and youth of this country for many more generations to come.