Thinking and Questioning are innate to man every day. Intellect develops through the process of thinking, questioning & seeking answers.
Thinking is known as “Chintan” in Samskrt. Thinking thoughts and expressing them through discussions in collective sittings or camps, called Chintan Shivir or Chintan Baithak, has been a part of our culture and tradition.
How did this day come to be called the World Thinking Day?
The Birthday of Scouting and Guiding founder Robert Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell are commemorated as World Thinking Day by the scouts and guides family worldwide.
Baden Powell and his wife Olave Baden Powell
It is interesting to note that the Swastika symbol was used by Baden Powell.
Swastika Symbol in the early Scouts Handy Book
Thanks badge issued by the Scouts and Guides under Robert Baden Powell
The card sent by the Baden Powells
Robert Baden Powell on the Swastika Symbol
The Image Swastika finds use in all ancient societies and is still used in India.
Similarity between Swatika and the spiral galaxy
The word Swastika comes from Su, meaning ‘good’, Asti meaning ‘well-being’ and Ka meaning ‘of’.
Swastika is not just the well-being of health, Swasth, but the well-being of everyone in society, in knowledge, in character, and overall in Nature. Unfortunately, during World War II , Hitler, his people and his armies grossly misused the symbol due to which profound the symbolism of Swastika has been viewed negatively in the last 6 decades.
Hitler abused the Swastika symbol. A taboo now
We need to look for its original meaning, its knowledge, for the well-being of society and the world.
Like this, on this World Thinking Day, many other thoughts should be looked at from the right perspective.
Arunachal Pradesh is a state, in the north easternmost boundary of India, and is the largest among the 7 sister states in north east India. It was a union territory until 1987, when it became the 24th state of the Indian Union, on 20th February, 1987.
The mention of this state immediately brings to mind images of lush green rain forests and a rich wildlife. A land of incredible natural beauty, and rich flora and fauna.
Arunachal Pradesh had a prominent place from ancient times.
Eastern Boundary of India
The land of Bharath, as India was known in ancient times, had four boundaries. Maha Sagara, the Indian Ocean in the south. Himalaya, the snowcapped mountains in the north. Ashtachal Mountains in the west and Arunachal Mountains in the east.
Thus Arunachal region is an important landmark in Indian geography, marking its eastern boundary.
Aruna means “The first rays of the sun” and Achal means “Mountains”.
Arunachala are the hills that receives the first light of the sun, in Bharath. In other words, Arunachal is the “land of the rising sun”.
The name Arunachal is also a name of Shiva, and has an important place in the concept of Ashta Dikpala, the rulers of 8 directions. Ashta Dikpalas are the deva who rule over the eight direction, Ashta, meaning eight, dik meaning direction and pala, meaning one who rules. The Deva who rules over the north east is Isana, i.e. Lord Shiva.
Orchid of India
Known for its flora, Arunachal Pradesh is known as the “Orchid of India”, and the “Paradise of the Botanists”.
The entry point of Brahmaputra
It is also the land where one of India’s biggest rivers, Brahmaputra, enters the country. The river has its origin at Manasarovar in Tibet, near Mount Kailash, where it has the name Tsangpo. In Arunachal Pradesh, where it enters India, it is known as Yarlang. It is only in Assam, it gets the name Brahmaputra.
From ancient Past
In the Purana, this region of Arunachal Pradesh is mentioned as Prabu Mountains.
It is at this region that Veda Vyasa mediated, for a period of time.
Parasuram kund, a lake dedicated to Lord Parasurama is a popular pilgrimage spot in Arunachal Pradesh. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims from across India, and also from Nepal. It is here that Lord Parasurama performed penance. Makara Sankranthi is a festive occasion at this kund, when around 1 lakh Devotees take dip, Snan in its waters.
Arunachal Pradesh is also the region ruled by King Bhishmaka, the father of Rukmini, whom Krishna married. This takes the antiquity of this place to 3100 BCE, as we have dated Krishna to 3100 BCE in our book “Historical Krishna”.
In the previous millennia, this region was ruled by the Ahom dynasty, from 1228 CE to 1826 CE.
Ahom Dynasty Insignia
The population of Arunachal Pradesh mainly consists of Vana Vasi.
The dweller of forest who are the true custodians of this ecosystem are known as Vana Vasi.
Vana meaning forest, and Vasi, dweller.
These tribals were not poor, but instead they were rich, for all the forest of the land were theirs by right. They were the guardians of the forest. The forest looked after their well being.
Today, they have been classified as Adi Vasi, Adi meaning first and Vasi, dweller, and restricted to living in pockets within their forests.
Adi Vasi is a new term and also has a sense of derogatory to it. The Adi Vasi brings in an incorrect concept that tribals are the first dwellers of the land and the town and village dwellers are later migrants. This is ethnographically erroneous.
Whereas the words, Vana Vasi is their rightful name used with respect.
Nagar Vasi, Grama Vasi and Vana Vasi, all three belong ethnically to this land from time immemorial. And each have their respective place in the civilization, in the land and in the society.
There are more than 26 tribes of Vana Vasi in Arunachal Pradesh, who follow their own customs and tradition, making it one of the most culturally diverse states in India.
Some of the major tribes being,
Arunachala, fire element and Sun worship
In South India, Shiva is manifested in the form of Arunachala hill at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.
As per the legends, this hill was originally a pillar of fire that appeared before Brahma and Vishnu. Brahma had flew towards one end to search for its origin while Vishnu had penetrated towards the other end taking the form of Varaha, the Boar, to bore to its other depths. But they could not reach the two ends of this column of fire.
Depiction of a legend in the Shivapurana – Search for the ends
This column of fire was a manifestation Shiva.
More on this legend in our book – Understanding Shiva.
The form of Shiva as Arunachala is associated with the fire element.
Arunachal Pradesh is the land of rising Sun, where the worship of Sun, a manifestation of the fire element, is prominent among all the tribes. Here Sun is worshipped as the Supreme Divinity.
Donyi Polo is a religion practiced here, which worships the Sun and the Moon, Donyi meaning the Sun and Polo, the Moon.
Si-Donyi is an important festival celebrated in Arunachal Pradesh, dedicated to the Sun.
There are also other tribes who worship the Sun.
Arunachal Pradesh is also home to many Buddhist monasteries.
Some of the prominent ones being,
The main occupation of Arunachal Pradesh is agriculture, while weaving is another vocation, popular mainly among the woman folk.
The people here are experts in creating beautiful carpets, wooden vessels, and silver articles.
Woodcarving is another favourite vocation, as also ornament making that is practiced in Arunachal Pradesh.
The state is also famous for its Bamboo handicrafts.
Arunachal Statehood Day is observed every year on 20th February, the day when Arunachal Pradesh became a state. A day to remember an important part of the Indian civilization. A state which apart from its rich flora and fauna, is also a home to richly diverse culture.
We celebrate Shivaji Jayanthi on February 19th. A day observed by the state Government of Maharashtra to mark the birthday of a boy born about 400 years ago. A boy, who would grow up to establish the Maratha Empire and become its ruler as Chatrapathi Shivaji.
Born Shivaji Raje Bhosle, Shivaji made significant contributions not only to the Maratha Empire, but also to the destiny of the rest of India.
Named After Shivaidevi
Named Shivaji after the deity Shivaidevi, a form of Goddess Durga, an embodiment of courage, strength and fearlessness, Shivaji, true to his name, fearlessly strode the path that would eventually liberate the land from the oppressive rule of the Mughals and their vassals in different parts of India.
The legends of Shivaji, his conquests, the Guerilla warfare that he popularized, the ploys he adopted to outwit the Mughals, are all well known and well documented.
Shivaji, the humanist
Apart from his conquests, Shivaji is known for his respect for every human being, He honoured every women even if they belonged to the enemy ranks.
Jadunath Sarkar in his book ‘Shivaji and His Times’ speaks of an incident that shows the high upbringing of Shivaji. He writes,
Built a robust administration
We all know Shivaji as a great warrior, but how many know he built up a very robust administration too. And this when he had no formal education and spent most of his life in battle. Some of his achievements
1) Ashta Pradhan a council of 8 ministers who advised him on all matters
2) Recognized the importance of a navy to protect Konkan coast and built one.
3) Built sea forts at Sindhudurg, Jaigad to protect from pirates.
4) Did away with Jagirs and paid army in cash, this eliminated corruption.
5) Built up a very professional army.
6) Disallowed dancing girls, to maintain discipline in army.
7) State looked after families of dead soldiers.
8) All enemy property seized during a campaign belonged to Treasury, none was allowed to use for personal purpose.
9) Robust revenue collection system.
10) Maintained a large network of forts and garrisons.
A Wrong perception
A popular statement made by many is that,
“the British took over the political control of India from the Mughals”.
Little known to many is the ground reality, corroborated by British Maps themselves.
After Shivaji and his forces had dealt a decisive blow to the Mughal forces, the Mughal empire, along with many of their vassals had disintegrated. In their place, the Maratha rule and the Maratha confederacy of Peshwa, local kings and heads of principalities, started ruling different parts of India.
It was a confederacy because while there were many Peshwa ruling in their respective localities, they shared the ideals, principals, goals and the rule of law of the Marathas.
British Map Testifies
All this is borne out as a fact when we see the British map of 1780, during the times of Robert Clive, where it shows the Maratha Empire covering pretty much, most portions of present day India – Central, North and South India. It stretched from Tamil Nadu in South India to Peshawar in the north, in modern day Pakistan and upto Bengal in the east.
Naval forces keeps colonial powers at bay
The Naval force that the Marathas created under the able leadership of Kanhoji Angre, helped guard the Konkan coast for nearly a century and kept the colonial powers at bay. The colonial powers could only function as minor trading posts in the Konkan coast and become colonial powers in this region only after they managed to defeat the Naval forces of the Marathas.
The Maratha Power
Shivaji had personally marched through much of Karnataka, central parts of Andhraand visited even Madras, which was a fledgling town then, primarily a British trading post operating out of Fort St.George.
Gifts from British
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 formed the entry point to Madras then. They did this as a good will gesture requesting him not attack their trading post saying that they were only peaceful traders.
Marathas at power when British arrived
This corroborates the point that it was indeed the Marathas, who were in power when the British arrived in India. If Shivaji had then gone ahead, attacked and decimated this fledgling trading post, then the history of India would have taken on a different turn.
The Maratha Effect
Many years later, Anqetil DuPerron, a French orientalist and linguist, who had visited India and stayed here for 7 years between 1755 and 1761, quotes a traveller as,
“When I entered the country of the Maharattas, I thought myself in the midst of simplicity and happiness of the golden age … misery was unknown … the people were cheerful, vigorous and in high health.”
This statement of DuPerron highlights to us that not only had Shivaji and his lineage of Marathas, conquered the lands they did, but were administering them in a sustainable manner with the welfare of the people in mind.
Barring a few parts of India, it was the Maratha Confederacy which was in power after the Mughals. It was a campaign, initiated and given a form by Chatrapathi Shivaji, that brought India together as a cohesive unit after the Mughals and before the British.
Then how could the British have taken over India from such a powerful empire? While it was a period of resurgence in India, which applied a healing balm to many a wounds that had been inflicted by the various foreign invasions and their oppressive rule, sadly this period of resurgence was shortlived.
Mughals joing hands with Afgans
The defeated Mughals started joining hands with the Afghans and the Nawabs to counter the expansion of the Maratha empire and started pushing the Marathas back.
Also, the individual rulers in the Maratha Confederacy, whose autonomy had grown over the years, soon started fighting amongst themselves due to jealousy and thirst for power.
It was by dethroning these individual, infighting rulers in the Maratha Confederacy in the 1800s, through bribe, deception, trade, threat, treachery and force, that the comparatively smaller in size, but devious British force, weakened the confederacy and gained monopoly over India – literally every inch of it.
Shivaji’s efforts in vain
All the unification brought about by Shivaji and his followers, had gone to vain. This is an excellent lesson on how,
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
The word “Maratha” today conjures up an image of present day Maharashtra alone, for the present generations. It invokes a picture of pleasant, simple, sincere and hardworking locals, popularly termed as “Marathi Manus” these days.
The contribution of Shivaji and the Marathas, towards the unification of India before the British and in the development of a spirit of fearlessness in the Indians, which helped them later to resist the British and eventually gain Independence, cannot be acknowledged enough. Anything said will only be an understatement!
Dr. Uttamadhanapuram Venkatasubbaiyer Swaminatha Iyer, known as U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, was one of the famous Tamil Scholars, born on February 19th 1855 in Uthamadhanapuram nearby Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu.
For his efforts in the publishing field, he is respectfully referred to as “Thamizh Thatha”. The grandfather of Tamil Literature.
His father Venkata Subbu Iyer was a leading Musician.
Dr. Swaminatha Iyer did his schooling and music in his own town. In his 17th year, he started learning Tamil from Thirisipuram Sundaram Pillai, who was a teacher in Thiruvaduthurai Saiva Athinam. U.V.Swaminatha Iyer learned Tamil for 5 years and later he worked in a college at Kumbakonam in the year 1880, and then he worked for some time in Presidency College, Madras.
Salem Ramaswami Mudaliyar’s encouragement
When he was working in Kumbakonam, he made friendship with Dr. Salem Ramaswami Mudaliyar, who gave him the idea to edit and reproduce ancient Tamil Classics and Tamil poems.
He edited the manuscript Seevaga Sinthamani, a Jain Classic first.
In 1887, Dr. U.V Swaminatha Iyer successfully published Seevaga Sinthamani, and after that he published Pattupattu.
Dr. UV Swaminatha Iyer continued his publishing works. He published many prominent books. Otherwise we may not have a single line from the books like,
Silapathigaram written by Ilango Adigal, one of five epic in ancient Tamil Literature,
Manimegalai written by Seethalai Saathanar, one of the five Epic in ancient Tamil Literature and
Purananuru, one of the Pathinen Melkanakku books of Sangam Period written by more than 150 poets,
which were published by UV Swaminatha Iyer.
He published more than 100 books including Tamil classics, poems, devotional books etc, during his life time.
Work continues in Retirement
In 1919, Swaminatha Iyer retired and later he joined as a principal in Meenakshi Tamil College, Kumbakonam. Due to health problem he resigned his job in 1927 and he became involved in manuscripting, editing and publishing until his death.
Tribute of Subramanya Bharati
Subramanya Bharati, the famous Tamil poet who inspired people during the freedom movement, wrote a poem in tribute to U. V.Swaminatha Iyer, whom he considered to be of the statue of Sage Agastya.
He has sung in the poem:
Rabindranatha Tagore’s Tribute
In 1926, Sir Rabindranath Tagore called on Swaminatha Iyer, and even penned a poem on him, praising his great efforts in publishing ancient Tamil works.
Iyer was awarded the title of Dakshinathya Kalanidhi in 1925 by Madras University. He was also conferred the title Mahamahopathiyaya, meaning: “Greatest of Great teachers”.
Dr. U V Swaminatha Iyer passed away on 28th April 1942.
The Indian Postal Department issued a commemorative stamp in his name in 2006. His house in Uttamadhanapuram has been made into a memorial.
A stamp released on Dr. Swaminatha Iyer
Swaminatha Iyer House
A great literary figure and son of Tamil Thai who salvaged the ancient Tamil texts, from palm leaf manuscripts. This is the debt that the Tamil literature owes him.
Nicholas Copernicus was an astronomer of Polish origin during the European Renaissance period, who was born on 19th February 1473.
Introducing Heliocentric Model in Europe
Copernicus was the first to come up with the Heliocentric Theory in Europe i.e. all planets go around the sun. Copernicus’ theory was an important step in European astronomy. Europe had till then believed that earth was in center, all else go around earth, i.e. in a Geocentric Model.
In India, the Heliocentric View, that all the planets move around the sun is mentioned in the Veda, that were composed thousands of years before Copernicus.
The Indian astronomical texts have repeatedly mentioned that the planets, sun and moon are not geocentric but are heliocentric, with the sun at the center of the solar system and the earth with its moon going around it, along with other planets.
How can we say for sure that they had this heliocentric view thousands of years ago itself?
Navagraha, Around the Sun
Besides the over thousands of years old Veda, which speak about a heliocentric Solar System, the heliocentric state of the Solar System has been continuously showcased in every major temple of India in the form of the Navagraha shrine. Nava means 9 and graha refers to a planet or an occupied space.
In the Navagraha shrine, it is the sun which is at the center and the planets are placed around it.
And people go around this shrine as a sign of reverence to the planets and the sun.
It was a simple, clear and concise way of making the common man, understand the heliocentric concept of the Solar System.
This is not the only scientific knowledge of the ancient Indians, to have come to be accepted by the modern world.
Who knows what else we may uncover for future, If only we take the pains to wade through them and read them from their perspective!
Gopala Krishna Gokhale was one of the freedom fighters during the Indian Freedom Movement. He was one of the earlier leaders, who sought and fought to bring greater representation of Indians within the British administration. He was a political mentor to both Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Gopala Krishna Gokhale
Birth and Education
Gokhale was born on 9th May, 1866, in the Ratnagiri district of present day Maharashtra. Inspite of hailing from a poor family, Gokhale was able to pursue his education in English, with assistance from his family members. He went to complete his graduation from Elphinstone College.
Joining Indian National Congress
Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress in 1889, where he met the other contemporary leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Gokhale was moderate in his view and tried to convince the British about Indian right and capability to rule, through dialogue and discussion. Gokhale became the president of the Indian National Congress in 1905.
In the same year 1905, he founded the Servants of India Society, to further education in India, as he felt that education would promote human development, and economic progress, among Indians, which will eventually help throw the British out of India. This society also sought to fight social evils like poverty, untouchability, alcoholism and domestic abuse.
In Gokhale’s own words, “the Servants of Indian Society will train men prepared to devote their lives to the cause of the country in a religious spirit, and will seek to promote, by all constitutional means, the national interests of the Indian people.”
Today, it has its centers in many Indian states.
Servants of India Society Logo
Gokhale also gave many speeches among the Indian masses, to bring awareness among people, about the ground realities in the country, and as to how they could prosper.
Worked for Indian cause
Gokhale worked with the British, for the Indian cause, all through his life, and occupied various positions during his career. Some of them being,
Elected to Bombay Legislative Council in 1889
Elected to the Imperial Council of the Governor General of India in 1901
A member representing Bombay Province in 1903
Appointed Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1904
A member of Imperial Legislative Council in 1909
Even while occupying such positions in the British administration, Gokhale worked for the Indian cause, by persuading the British to bring in necessary reforms for the welfare of Indians. He forced the British to accept the capabilities of Indians.
Mentor to Mahatma Gandhi
Gokhale guided Mahatma Gandhi in his early days of the freedom movement, on the issue facing the common Indians, and gave him an understanding of the political situation in the country.
Mahatma Gandhi with Gopala Krishna Gokhale
In those days, Gandhi was living in South Africa. Gokhale and Gandhi first met in 1896. The two again came together in 1901, at the Calcutta Congress, and spent more than two months together. It was here that Gokhale for the first time, persuaded Gandhi to return to India. But, Gandhi couldn’t return to India until 1915, when Gokhale was towards his end.
When Gandhiji eventually returned from South Africa on January 8th, 2015, Gokhale asked him to undertake an all India tour, to properly understand the situation in the country, and also to build a connect with the people. He also funded this tour for Gandhi.
In his autobiography, “My Experiments with Truth,” Gandhi refers to Gokhale as his political Guru. He describes Gokhale as being, “pure as a crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault, and the most perfect man in the political field.”
The role that he played in molding Gandhi has been brought out by Govind Talwalkar in his book, “Gopala Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi’s Mentor”.
Mentor of Jinnah
Gokhale was also the political mentor of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who in his own words wanted to be a “Muslim Gokhale”.
Gokhale passed away on 19th February, 1915.It was an end of an era. It was also the beginning of the Gandhian era, where Mahatma Gandhi would take up a more prominent role in the Freedom Movement on the footsteps of his political Guru, Gopala Krishna Gokhale.
Today Gokhale’s legacy finds expression in the many educational institutions in his name, in the country.
The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune
Gokhale Memorial College in Kolkata
Gokhale Hall in Chennai
Gokhale Centenary College in Ankola
Gopala Krishna Gokhale College in Kolhapur
Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs in Bangalore
The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune
The Gokhale Education Society today runs more than 50 educational institutions in Maharashtra.
A stamp has been issued in his name by the government of India.
A life truly lived for the cause of Indian Freedom. In Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s words, “This diamond of India, this jewel of Maharashtra, this prince of workers is taking eternal rest on funeral ground. Look at him and try to emulate him.”