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Miscellaneous Topics on Indian History
The Telegraph, 20 Oct., 2004
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->NOT A VERY DIFFERENT BALL GAME 
<b>Raju Mukherji argues that there is evidence to prove that cricket was played in ancient India </b>

The modern version 
When was cricket first played? This question has not yet been clearly answered. Based on assumptions, historians of cricket have all informed the world that the game of cricket began in the south of England in the 14th century.

Apart from the pictures and the poems of the 16th and 17th centuries, they based their contention on the reference to Edward I playing a sport called “creag” in England in the 14th century. But this information does not mean that cricket began in England. If we accept that “creag” was cricket in its earliest form, then the information about Edward I playing cricket merely confirms that the game was played in 14th century-England. The questions about the origins of the game of cricket remain. The English author, Andrew Lang, was probably right to claim that “…no one invented cricket. Like almost everything else, cricket was evolved.” This kind of practical reasoning, free from bias, invariably keeps the door open for further search to unearth earlier versions of the game.

A close look at ancient Indian literature and the epics might provide some idea to cricket followers about the origins, or at least the antiquity, of the most noble of sports. A reference in the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, suggests that an antiquated form of cricket did exist in India at least 2,000 years ago.

The thing which Dronacharya extricated from the well in the adiparva of the Mahabharata is the object of my attention. I have no doubt at all that the object was either oval or spherical in shape, made of wood and more or less the size of a cricket ball. If the readers would care to remember, in the adiparva of the Mahabharata there is an incident which relates to the Kaurava princes. They were playing among themselves when their game had to be stopped as the object they were playing with had fallen into a dry well.

According to the epic, Dronacharya happened to be watching the children at play. When the object fell into the well and they were unsuccessful in retrieving it, he first castigated the princes for their poor skills and intelligence. Then he uprooted a handful of the ishika plant. Ishika is the Sanskrit word for a tall species of grass whose stem has a very sharp pointed end. At first he aimed an ishika stem to pierce the object that had fallen inside the well. Then he directed another to pierce the tail-end of the first. In this way he used quite a few stems, piercing one with the other. Ultimately, he just pulled up the string that he had made with the ishika and the object was brought out of the well. The young Kaurava princes were fascinated by Drona’s ability.

Now the issue here is, was the object a ball? It is likely that the object was something of the shape of a ball. However, it could also have been an elongated oval-shaped object, as is the shape of the target in danda-guli, an old Indian sport, which is still played in rural India.

Rajsekhar Basu, in his commentary on the Mahabharata, mentioned that it was an oval-shaped object made of wood. But in the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan version of the Mahabharata, edited by Kamala Subramaniam, it is specified that the object was actually a ball. The great writer Kaliprasanna Sinha, the eminent authority on Mahabharata, as well as Sudhir Chandra Sarkar, an editor, have also acknowledged that the object was indeed a ball. The widely acknowledged Gita Press (Gorakhpur) edited Ved Vyas’s Mahabharata also accepts that the object was a ball made of wood.

Either the object was an elongated oval-shaped piece or one spherical in shape. Early versions of the game also confirm that the target in cricket had evolved from being oval-shaped to being shaped like a sphere. This may be confirmed from Barclay’s World of Cricket, edited by the erudite duo, Jim Swanton and John Woodcock.

What sort of a game was it? There is little reason to think that it was similar to football. This is because in those days, people generally played the kind of games which were primarily hand-oriented — archery, wrestling, fencing and so on — not ones in which the feet were dominant. Thus it is more likely that the sport was either cricket or volleyball.

Now that we have authoritative evidence that the object was a ball, the next query would be, was it a small ball or a big one? What was its likely size? In all likelihood, the ball was of the shape and size of a cricket ball. Bose, Sinha, Subramaniam and Sarkar as also the Gita Press have agreed that it was a small ball, but not as small as a ring.

Was the ball soft or hard? Here again, the circumstantial evidence is that the ball was not soft. Nor was it of an inflatable kind. It was surely a hard ball. If it were not, then the pointed end of the ishika plant would not have punctured the ball.

What was the material of the ball being used? Was it wood, iron or something else? Rajsekhar Basu mentioned that it was made of wood. So did Subramaniam, Sarkar and the Gita Press. Only Sinha seems to think that it was made of iron. But the ball could not have been made of iron or any hard metal. In that case, the ishika plant-head would not have been able to pierce it at all. Thus we may confirm that the ball was hard and made of wood. This revelation, that the original cricket ball was made of wood, is in conformity with the information available in the Barclay’s World of Cricket regarding the evolution of the cricket ball.

This brings us to the issue whether the sport that the Kaurava princes were indulging in could have been polo, hockey or cricket in their ancient forms. All these sports use balls of more or less similar shape, material and size.

In India, danda-guli (“bat-ball” in literal translation) was a common pastime for young people. For aeons, people have been playing the game in which a stick or club (bat?) would be used to hit an oval-shaped, wooden object (ball?). A sport that required the co-ordination of hand and eye of a very high order. Early Sanskrit literature too mentions the existence of this sport. It is likely that on the basis of the mention of danda-guli in Sanskrit literature, Rajsekhar Basu conceived that the object was oval-shaped and not spherical. Even this view is consistent with the accepted idea of the evolution that the cricket ball underwent.

The principal implements of the sport, the stick and the small target, are remarkably similar to what is used in cricket, as we know of the game today. The game of hockey would have required many such sticks and polo would have required the presence of horses. There is no evidence that there were many sticks or clubs involved, nor of horses. <b>Thus we can safely assume that the sport played by the Kaurava princes was neither polo nor hockey, but a sport that had remarkable similarity to modern-day cricket.</b>  <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo-->
There is a blog i have been writing for a couple of weeks about Indian Kings , Queens,Wars etc...It is in Tamil. I intend to make a website once i finish a good portion of a 1000 year history (pre-islamic periods , from Samrat Chandra Gupta Maurya , to the time until Muslim invasions started)...Request members to please correct mistakes out there.The attempt is to showcase a bit of Indian glory to people around me (relatives,friends)

My Blog
<b>Did the Ancient Hindus know Gunpowder?</b>

By Ayyaswami Kalyanaraman (ARYA-TARANGINI)

Most western writers credit the discovery of gunpowder to the Chinese, from whom Marco Polo is said to have learnt the art of making the explosive, and to have carried it to Europe in the 13th century. As Carman (‘History of Fire Arms’) points out, this theory is now discredited, as gunpowder was known to the Arabs, the Hindus and Eastern Greeks, long before Marco Polo’s time. There are strong indications that the ancient inhabitants of Aryavarta were aware of the use of explosive powders, even earlier than the Chinese and that the art, probably, traveled from India to China in the east, and to the Arab countries, in the west. I have quoted elsewhere the views of Prof. Wilson and Dr. Oppert on this subject; the following observations will go to reinforce the opinion expressed by these western writers.

Henry Wilkinson in his book “Engines of War” (written in 1841) deals with the origin & the nature of gunpowder. Considering the discovery of gunpowder to be of unsurpassed significance to humanity, he holds that “it gave civilised notions a decided superiority over the barbarous ones”. It is obvious, however, that long before true gunpowder was known, there were fire implements and fire-throwing engines in martial use. Vessels and pots containing inflammable mixtures, and arrows with burning fire-heads, were familiar weapons in the Epic wars in India, according to our great poets. The Ramayana mentions even ‘manosila’ (antimony sulphide), a powerful explosive, and now in requisition for warfare and for fireworks Kautilya’s Arthasastra (4th century B. C.)[1] Lists a number of recipes for making explosive and inflammable mixtures, as I shall detail presently.

Oriental Greeks attributed the discovery of explosive powders to one Kalinus[2] of Heliopolis of Syria, who served under Emperor Constantine of Byzantine, in the 4th century A. D. the semi-liquid composition was known as sea fire and could not be extinguished with water.[3] The Emperor kept the formula a dark secret, which was, however, revealed by his daughter, Princess Anna, (in her book called Alexiad). According to her, this ‘sea-fire’ was compounded of powdered resinous gums, naphtha and sulphur. According to later writers (Francis Grose and H. W. L. Hime), the composition was bitumen, sulphur and naphtha, which were familiar to the Arabs, who exported them to the West. In the Crusades, both sides used this ‘sea-fire’, which was also called ‘Greek-fire’ by the Christians, on the supposed Greek origin of the invention. “The Saracens”, in the words of Joinville, an ancient writer of the 13th century, “brought an engine called petrary in which they put this ‘Greek-fire’ in the slings. It came front-wise like a barrel of verjuice, (sour or sauce) and the trail of fire issuing from it was as large as a long lance. Its noise was like Heaven’s thunder and it gave a light like that of sun”.[4] W. Y. Carman (A History of Fire-Arms, P-8) said, fire could be of the principle of tension (large loons), torsion (twisted rope), or counterpoise (weighted swiveled arms)”. He mentions that in the time of King Edward III of England, one John Ardenne proposed, “that apart from long bows and cross-bows throwing incendiary material, birds and animals could carry the fiery composition in iron or brass containers. In a manuscript of Vienna, a cat and a flying bird are shown as pressed into this dangerous and noncomfortable service”. It is highly interesting to find that Ardenne had been anticipated, by nearly 18 centuries, by Kautilya, (whom I have cited elsewhere in this chapter) who suggests that birds and animals could be made to carry inflammable powder (agniyoga) into an enemy's fortress, from the invading monarchies camp.

To know some more lightly on this ‘Greek-fire’: it is clear that the Arabs knew of it long before the Western Greeks. As Wilkinson says, (P-132 ‘Engines of War’) it was considered by the ancients as an Arab invention and was known also as ‘Medes-fil’; it was known to the Chinese long before the Europeans knew of it, and was called “the oil of the cruel fire”, by the Celestials. As already mentioned the ingredients were naphtha, resinous gums, sulphur and perhaps, nitre. I suggest that the ancient Indians were the original discoverers of this ‘sea-fire’, for the following reasons. We have strong indications of the use of fire weapons and inflammable powders and oils in our ancient literature like the Great Epics, the Manu, and the Sukra, Nitis, and the Arthasastras, all of which antedate the theories of the Arabs and the Asiatic Greeks by a long interval. The famous sloka in Manu, (Ch. VII 90) asking Kshattriya warriors not to make war on adversaries resorting to fire-weapons etc., had been interpreted by Halhed (“Laws of the Gentoo’s), as referring to the use of poisoned arrows and of inflammable missiles, through subsequent Western writers have disagreed with this interpretation.[5] Resins and incense (along with sulphur and/or niter) were the basis for all incandescent projectiles; and India was the home, par excellence, of resins and incense powders. We have seen elsewhere in this book, that the Egyptians imported these commodities from Sapta Sindhu and King Solomon had sent ships to the West Coast of India (the land of Ophir) for these very articles. Bdellium, (guggulu in Sanskrit) is a highly inflammable tree-gum and commanded an extensive market in the ancient world, not only for use as incense, but also for spectacular pyro-technic demonstrations.
Guggulu when reinforced with turpentine and lac (Sanskrit: laksham) would not be easily extinguishable by application of water. The Mahabharata, as I had mentioned elsewhere, refers to the use of resins, waxes and combustible materials, in the Great War. Kautilya gives more specific details of the use of explosives while dealing with assaults on forts[6] (which could also be taken by sapping and mining and by “the use of machines”). He gives several recipes for making inflammable powder; in these formulae, guggulu, lac and turpentine figure prominently, vide the extracts, which I have given elsewhere in this chapter. It is common knowledge that many sciences and arts traveled from India to Europe through the Arabs and the Asiatic Greeks[7]. To quote only a few, Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicines, Alchemy and Magic (not to mention various Transcendental Philosophies) flowed west from Sapta Sindhu to Persia and to Arabia, and thence to Europe. In the same way, the knowledge of fire-weapons probably progressed from India to the Mediterranean region.

To turn to the technique of making real explosives like gunpowder: it has been often concluded by Western writers, that the Indians of old did not know the use of the two main ingredients of explosive powder, viz., sulphur and saltpetre. This allegation is somewhat strange since the Sanskrit vocabulary has had, from the earliest times, expressions descriptive of both these chemicals. Sulphur was known as “gandha” and Saltpetre (or nitre) as yavaja and yavakshara[8] and both
these are mentioned by Panini and Kautilya. Further, petroleum and naphtha, (other ingredients used in gunpowder), have been known in South Asia from even
pre-historic times.[9] Flaming-naphtha was used heavily in Arab warfare of the Prophet’s time (in one of the wars, the Kaaba is said to have been burnt down by
naphtha, supplied by Syrians).[10] There is reference to the substance in the Bible and in the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Bitumen and naphtha were well known to Kautilya (vide Book II, Chapter XII of the Arthasastra).

In this context, the observations of H. Wilkinsobn are of great importance. Suggesting that “the origin of gunpowder could be traced to the practice in China and India of cooking fire with wood-fires, on a soil strongly impregnated with nitre”, he adds, “the very obscurity of the origin of gunpowder is evidence of its antiquity” (Engines of War, P.132). It will be worthwhile to ascertain what actually the composition of this elementary explosive was. Marcus Graceus (8th century A. D.) in his ‘Liber Ignium ‘ gives the formula as 6 lbs. of saltpetre, 2 lbs. of charcoal and 1 lb. of sulphur. Earlier writers are not so precious; for example, Virgil mentions a contrivance “which imitates thunder”.[11] Says Wilkinson: “The Brahmins had a similar thing according to Themistins and also the Indians generally, where practice is recorded by Philostratas of 300 A. D. The latter referring to the Oxydrachae[12] says, ‘These truly wise tribes lived between the Hyphasis and the Ganges; their country Alexander never visited, deterred not by the fear of its inhabitants, but from religious motives; their holy men overthrow their enemies with fiery tempests and thunderbolts, shot from the city walls’. In Wilkinson’s words, “This is the most striking illustration of the antiquity of gunpowder with which I am acquainted. It is also known that iron-rockets have been used in India as military weapons from times out of mind.” I may also cite here the opinion of Sir George Stannton, who observed about a hundred years ago, “gunpowder in India and China was coeval with the most distant historical events and it will no doubt strike the reader with wonder to find a prohibition of firearms in records of unfathomable antiquity.[13] Alexander did undoubtedly meet with some such weapon in India, as a passage in Quintus Curtius seems to indicate.”

In the words of Halhed (who has been much criticised by later writers), “Cannon[14] in Sanskrit idiom is called Satagni (or a hundred fires) and the Purana sastras ascribed this invention to Bhisvakarma”. According to Wilkinson, the use of Satagni (which may be the incipient cannon) fell later into disuse both because of moral injunctions and because of the awkwardness and imperfection of this kind of artillery itself. “There was an aversion to use newly invented arms as contrary to humanity and opposed to bravery,” says Wilkinson.

The ingredients commonly used in gunpowder in recent times, are nitre, charcoal and sulphur in the ratio 50:25:25[15]; “and this formula appears to be very ancient”, says Wilkinson, who adds that although sulphur was very desirable as an ingredient, it was not indispensable. “Sulphur was not an essential article even in good gunpowder, especially in large charges. Mr. Napier found that powder made from nitre and charcoal only, projected a thirteen inch shell as far as the best powder composed in the usual manner could”. The strongest powder consisted of 16 ports nitre and 4 of charcoal. As W. Y. Carman points out,[16] the use of sulphur gives rise to heavy smoke, which could be avoided by eliminating sulphur and using only salt-petre and charcoal, as was done by the French, till the 18th century.

We have seen that gandha or the Hindus knew sulphur of old, but unfortunately, there is no specific literary mention of its use in the making of explosives in ancient times. (That powerful explosive, manosila[17] or sulphide of antimony was however well known even in the puranic age, as the Epics bear out). The case was otherwise with nitre or salt-pitre, which was often found in a natural stone in India, as admitted even by Carman. In historical times, Europe obtained its nitre from India & China by surface mining, and the various East India Companies carried on a flourishing trade in this commodity.[18] Subsequently, the Europeans learnt the art of making salt-petre from artificial beds, in which vegetable and animal refuse, was collected and allowed fermenting, and thus forming crude nitre. This process is very significant to students investigating the art of warfare in ancient India, as explained below:

Kautilya, who professedly summarised and transmitted for posterity the injunctions contained in the many Arthasastras written by ancient writers, terms all explosives as ‘agnisamyogas’ and he enumerates various ingredients,[19] constituting these explosives. Briefly, their list would be as follows:

1. Charcoal i.e., powder of the pine (sarala) and deodar (devadaru);
2. Putrid vegetable matter (putirna, i.e., stinking grass);
3. Bdellium (guggulu);
4. Turpentine (sriveshtaka);
5. Lac (laksha);
6. The fermenting dung of non-carnivores, like the ass, the camel, sheep,and goats;
7. Wax (maduchchishta);
8. “The powder of all metals (sarvatoha) red as fire” (probably, aluminium oxide, antimony sulphide etc.);
9. Powder of lead (sila) and trapu (zinc);
10. Bitumen (silajathu or giripushpakam);
11. Fatty vegetable oils or tallow.

It will be seen from the above list that practically all the ingredients necessary for making an explosive charge are found in the Arthasastras except that sulphur, as such, is not explicitly mentioned.[20] Even assuming that sulphur was not in vogue as a constituted of gunpowder in Kautilya’s time or earlier, it is evident that it was within the competence of contemporary scientists to make an efficient explosive mixture, using the other serviceable ingredient, namely nitre. We have seen that nitre or salt-petre was found widely in India in its natural state and on the surface. Even if the natural products were not available, nitre could be synthesized from the raw products indicated by Kautilya, viz., decaying vegetable and animal refuse. As Wilkinson has pointed out, these were the source from which artificial salt-petre was extracted, by fragmentation in beds, in countries like England, and France, (where the natural product was scarce.)

To sum up, there is a strong indication that the flame throwing contrivance, known in ancient times as ‘sea-fire’ or ‘Greek-fire’, was none else than the Sarvathobhadra, mentioned in our ancient writings. There is also almost conclusive evidence that the Indians of old were acquainted with many varieties of explosives used in warfare, and that some of these contained ingredients, practically identical with those some used in making gunpowder in early historical and medieval times. It is only in the late 19th century, that the discovery of ‘high explosives’, or propellants using nitric acid and sulphuric acid, like gun-cotton, nitro-cellulose etc., changed the type of explosive charges used in war and in the blasting industry.[21]


[1] The Arthasastra of Kautilya (or Vishnu Gupta) is now generally conceded to be the genuine work of Chanakya, the Mauryan statesman and not the ‘effort of a medieval pundit’ as suggested by a German author. Among others F. V. Thomas, V.
A. Smith, Jolly and L. D. Barnett accepted the authenticity of the treatise, which was itself a late summary of many earlier Arthasastras, as mentioned by Kautilya himself in his learned treatise: “This Arthasastras, or Science of Polity, has been made as a compendium of all those Arthasastras which, as a guidance to Kings in acquiring and maintaining their realms, have been written by ancient writers”, (chapter I Book I). Kamandaka, writing in the II century B. C., hails Kautilya as his great exemplar.

[2] C/f. kallinos (or Kalyana), for famous Sophist who met Alexander and later
burnt himself, before the Greek ruler.

[3] In this respect, it resembled, a well-known diabolical weapon, first used by the Germans in World War I, viz. the flame-thrower. The British and the Americans perfected this instrument of attack which has since been widely used, especially, in flushing out troops hidden in caves and trenches, and in overcoming bunkers and strong points. The famous Churchill Crocodile was a tank-cum-flame-thrower.

[4] The word petrary (stone thrower) comes from Sanskrit patra or stone. It is significant that the Saracens should have used such an engine, which is nothing, but a refinement of the ‘Sarvatobhadra’ mentioned by both Panini and Kautilya, and defined (by the Commentator of the latter), as “a cart with wheels capable of rapid rotation for throwing stones in all directions”.

[5] Hopkins for instance, was fully persuaded that Halhed had misconstrued Manu and that the ancient Aryans had no knowledge of any fire weapons. It need scarcely be emphasised that Hopkins was consistently chary of crediting the early Hindus with scientific refinements in war. For instance: he seriously maintained that prior to the date of Alexander, Indians had no knowledge of stone architecture and of masonry fortifications. Recent excavations at Rajagriha, Kausambi etc. have completely refuted Hopkins. In Orissa and in Bihar, city- fortifications in stone masonry running into tens of square miles, and going back to the 7th and 8th centuries B. C., have been uncovered. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the excavations at Kausambi take this type of masonry culture back to 1000 B. C. and more. The Rig-Veda knew of stone-fortresses. “We find indeed mentions of Purs, which were occasionally of considerable size and were some times made of stone (asmanaya) or of iron (ayasi). Some were furnished with a hundred walls (satabhuji). These Purs were probably, rather ramparts or forts, than cities” (“An Advanced History of India”, P. 34, by Mazumder, Roy Chowdhuri and Datta). Panini and the Mahabharata, frequently refer to cities, in post-Vedic times. The Epic mentions the following as indispensable for city defences: durga, gulma, nagarapura, bala-mukhyas, sasyabhihara, samkrama, prakanthi, akasa-janani, kadangadwaraka, dwaras, satagni, bhanda-gara, dhanya-gara, asva-gara, gaja-gara and baladhi-karana (Santiparva 69-1-71).

[6] Chapter IV, Book XIII, Arthasastra

[7] The name “Greek-fire” given to the incendiary weapon mentioned earlier, originated only in the sixth century A. D. Neither the Arabs nor the Greeks used
this description themselves.

[8] Other Sanskrit names: Pakyah: Yavagrajah

[9] The Greeks came to know of this rock oil from the Persians only after Alexander’s invasion, says W. Y. Carman (‘A History of Fire-Arms’ P.11/12). “Petroleum was known in ancient times and its name shows its origin-rock oil. Naphtha is another ancient term, having reference to the earth origin of the oil. Balls of naphtha were used in India, and thrown by catapults.” In medieval India, polo was played at night with balls of naphtha set alight.

[10] Citizen Langles announced before the French National Institute (in the 18th century), that the Arabs knew of gunpowder in the 7th century and used it in the siege of Mecca.

[11] This must obviously be the ‘big bang’, or the saluting gun, used to produce thunderous sounds on important occasions like Royal or Temple processions, marriages, etc., in ancient India.

[12] The Kshudrakas of Panini

[13] I.e., in the Code of Manu, already cited.

[14] Westerners derive the word cannon from canna = reed. The canna or reed (probably the bamboo of India) was originally in use for throwing the ‘Greek-fire’, which was the precursor of artillery.

[15] In the British Army the best gunpowder was made of 25 parts petre, 15 parts
of sulphur, and 10 parts charcoal.

[16] History of Fire-Arms, P. 162

[17] Curiously manosila was used in ancient India as a beauty aid, (Collyrium). Sulphur is however, mentioned in the Sukra-niti.

[18] The nitre, imported from India by the English East India Coy, was known as the “Company’s petre” and commanded a good premium in the English market. Sulphur was usually got from Indonesia and Sicily. The East India Coy, made huge
profits from the export of salt-petre, especially after the death of Aurangzeb, who had placed a ban on its export.

[19] Chapter IV, Book XIII

[20] It is extremely significant that in the 17th century A. D., the Prince Bishop of Munster invented an incendiary shell (known as a carcass), containing practically the same ingredients as mentioned by Kautilya. To quote Carman, (P. 170 ibid.),

“Carcass have thick iron shells and are frequently made oblong with several holes, to allow the inflammable composition to come out. This mixture consisted of salt-petre, sulphur, resin, turpentine, and sulphide of antimony and tallow. It burnt with extreme violence, for three to twelve minutes, even under water.” It may be added that the Sukra-Niti mentions sulphur, as used in the Brihan-nalika (a cannon?)

[21] Alfred Noble was a 19th century product!
On the BR HICAF forum long time back, when these issues were still permitted, Kaushal or Sridhar had posted an article on the origins of the dravidian languages, and the languages that they were derived from. If someone still has it, can they post it here please?

<!--QuoteBegin-raj+Nov 6 2004, 11:10 PM-->QUOTE(raj @ Nov 6 2004, 11:10 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/scripts.html <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Sorry, this wasn't what I was looking for.
I want to read book on Alexander and Porous. Any historically accurate title?
Why Gujarat's Jurassic park is best in India?

To be honest I was not even aware of its existence until I came across this link.. <!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Wish Modi can build a theme park around that place and develop tourism.. <!--emo&:rocker--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rocker.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rocker.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Anyway a quote from the article..

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->One of the most interesting part of discovery from Gujarat is the fossilised bone of a dinosaur which was so unique that it was given an Indian name <b>'Rajasauras'</b>. This exhibited some of the characteristics of the ferocious Tyrranosauras types. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--emo&:felx--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/flex.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='flex.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I have seen some fossils from Gujarat in Vienna, Austria Museums.
Some fossils from Chandigarh, Harayana are also displayed in New York and Paris museums.

Tortoise - NY
Eggs - NY & France
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I want to read book on Alexander and Porous. Any historically accurate title? <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Alexander's passage through North-Western India and his encounters with the various tribes that dwelled there is indeed a fascinating chapter in Indian history. Unfortunately there is a dearth of material in this regard. Needless to say, there are a plethora of "Euro-centric" books on Alexander, but typically from their point of view the India campaign is merely one of those "colorful episodes" involving elephants and chariots and oriental tribes with strange names who were subdued by the highly disciplined army of the conqueror. (Nonetheless, 2 definitive works
deserve mention -- that of Peter Green (Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B. C.: A Historical Biography) and A. B. Bosworth (Conquest and Empire : The Reign of Alexander the Great)

Fortunately, one book exists which provides a rare glimpse of Alexander's campaigns viewed thru the prism of India: <b>Age of the Nandas and Mauryas K.A.N. Sastri</b>
( http://www.mlbd.com/mnewreldisp.asp?Page=5&nxtPage=1 )

I think this is the only trustworthy source available which provides the Indian perspective. Edited by none other than the great historical doyen KA Nilakantha Sastri, it gives a detailed account of the great Conqueror's movements and maneuvers down the Jhelum and the various chieftains who stood in his path. The book in fact covers the entire period between 400 BC - 185 BC, especially the glory and might of the Imperial Mauryas under "devanam priya Rajan Asoka"

The task of retracing the Great Conqueror's passage is no easy one: for one thing, the names of the North Indian tribes, places, rivers, kings etc are all "hellenized", so it is hard today to reconstruct their Indian equivalents. Moreover, one of the earliest surviving accounts of Alexander comes down to from <b>Flavius Arrianus Xenophon</b> (92- 175?) (popularly known as Arrian) who was a Roman citizen. He wrote 2 definitive works: <b>Anabasis Alexandri</b> (or The
Campaigns of Alexander) and <b>Indica</b>, an account of the voyage by Alexander's fleet from India to the Persian Gulf under Nearchus. Arrian had the advantage of accessing sources which are now lost such as the contemporary works by Callisthenes (the nephew of Alexander's tutor Aristotle), Onescritus, Nearchus and Aristobulus, and Cleitarchus. Most important of all, Arrian had the biography of Alexander by Ptolemy, one of Alexander's leading generals. Despite all these accurate sources, when it comes to India, there is no subsititute for having a local perspective, which, alas, we will never have.

The best that one can get about this is from <b>Megasthenes</b>. Here are fragments of hisINDIKA


Megasthenes was Seleucus's ambassador in the Mauryan Court. So this is very much a first hand account of the Indian milieu c.300 BC!

This link might also make interesting reading: Arrian's Anabasis Alexandri: Book VIII (Indica)
Sridatta ,
Thanks a lot, that is what I was looking. Great!!!
Megasthenes views on Indian Philosophers -- interesting, superficial, sometimes funny!


Of the Indian Philosophers.

(58.) Speaking of the philosophers, he (Megasthenes) says that such of them as <b>live on the mountains are</b> <b>worshippers of Dionysos</b>, showing as proofs that he had come among them the wild vine, which grows in their country only, and the ivy, and the laurel, and the myrtle, and the box-tree, and other evergreens, none of which are found beyond the Euphrates, except a few in parks, which it requires great care to preserve. <b>They observe also certain customs which are Bacchanalian</b>. Thus they dress in muslin, wear the turban, use perfumes array themselves in garments dyed of bright colours; and their kings, when they appear in public, are preceded by the music of drums and gongs.

<b>But the, philosophers who live on the plains worship Herakles</b>. [These accounts are fabulous, and are impugned by many writers, especially what is said about the vine and wine. For the greater part of Armenia, and the whole of Mesopotamia and Media, onwards to Persia and Karmania, lie beyond the Euphrates, and throughout a great part of each of these countries good vines grow, and good wine is produced.]

(69.) Megasthenes makes a different division of the philosophers, saying that they are of two kinds--one of which he calls the <b>Brachmanes</b>, and the other the <b>Sarmanes</b>. <b>The Brachmanes are best esteemed, for they are more consistent in their opinions. From the time of their conception in the womb they are under the guardian care of learned men</b>, who go to the mother and, under the pretence of using some incantations for the welfare of herself and her unborn babe, in reality give her prudent hints and counsels. The women who listen most willingly are thought to be the most fortunate in their children. After their birth the children are under the care of one person after another, and as they advance in age each succeeding master is more accomplished than his predecessor. <b>The philosophers have their abode in a grove in front of the city within a moderate-sized enclosure. They live in a simple style, and lie on beds of rushes or (deer) skins. They abstain from animal food and sexual pleasures, and spend their time in listening to serious discourse, and in imparting their knowledge to such as will listen to them. The hearer is not allowed to speak, or even to cough, and much less to spit, and if he offends in any of these ways he is cast out from their society that very day, as being a man who is wanting in self-restraint. After living in this manner for seven-and-thirty years, each individual retires to his own property, where he lives for the rest of his days in ease and serenity.</b>

They then array themselves in fine muslin, and wear a few trinkets of gold on their fingers and in their ears. They eat flesh, but not that of animals employed in labour. They abstain from hot and highly seasoned food. They marry as many wives as they please, with a view to have numerous children, for by having many wives greater advantages are enjoyed, and, since they have no slaves, they have more need to have children around them to attend to their wants.

<b>The Brachmanes do not communicate a knowledge of philosophy to their wives</b>, lest they should, divulge any of the forbidden mysteries to the profane if they became depraved, or lest they should, desert them if they became good philosophers: far no one who despises pleasure and pain, as well as life and death, wishes to be in subjection to another, but this is characteristic both of a good man and of a good woman.

<b>Death is with them a very frequent subject of discourse. They regard this life as, so to speak, the time when the child within the womb becomes mature</b>, and death as a birth into a real and happy life for the votaries of philosophy. On this account they undergo much, discipline as a preparation for death. <b>They consider nothing that befalls men to be either good or bad, to suppose otherwise being a dream-like illusion</b>, else how could some be affected with sorrow, and others with pleasure, by the very same things, and how could the same things affect the same individuals at different times with these opposite emotions?

Their ideas about physical phenomena, the same author tells us, are very crude, for, they are better in their actions than in their reasonings, inasmuch as their belief is in great measure based upon fables;

<b>yet on many points their opinions coincide with those of the Greeks, for like them they say that the world had a beginning, and is liable to destruction, and is in shape spherical, and that the Deity who made it, and who governs it, is diffused through all its parts</b>. They hold that various first principles operate in the universe, and that water was the principle employed in the making of the world. In addition to the four elements there is a fifth agency, from which the heaven and the stars were produced. The earth is placed in the centre of the universe. <b>Concerning generation, and the nature of the soul, and many other subjects, they express views like those maintained by the Greeks. They wrap up their doctrines about immortality and future judgment, and kindred topics, in allegories, after the manner of Plato. Such are his statements regarding the Brachmanes.</b>

(60.) Of the <b>Sarmanes</b> he tells us that those who are held in most honour are called the <b>Hylobioi</b>. They live in the woods, where they subsist on leaves of trees and wild fruits, and wear garments made from the bark of trees. They abstain from sexual intercourse and from wine. They communicate with the kings, who consult them by messengers regarding the causes of things, and who through them worship and supplicate the deity.

Next in honour to the Hylobioi are the <b>physicians</b>, since they are engaged in the study of the nature of man. They are simple in their habits, but do not live in the fields. Their food consists of rice and barley-meal, which they can always get for the mere asking, or receive from those who entertain them as guests in their houses. By their knowledge of pharmacy they can make marriages fruitful, and determine the sex of the offspring. They effect cures rather by regulating diet than by the use of medicines. The remedies most esteemed are ointments and plasters. All others they consider to be in a great measure pernicious in their nature. <b>This class and the other class practise fortitude, both by undergoing active toil, and by the endurance of pain, so that they remain for a whole day motionless in one fixed attitude.</b>

Besides these there are diviners and sorcerers, and adepts in the rites and customs relating to the dead, who go about begging both in villages and towns. <b>Even such of them as are of superior culture and refinement inculcate such superstitions regarding Hades as they consider favourable to piety and holiness of life</b>. Women pursue philosophy with some of them, but abstain from sexual intercourse.

Among the Indians are those philosophers also who follow the precepts of <b>Boutta</b>, whom they honour as a god on account of his extraordinary sanctity.
Reg Alexander
Does any one know of Chandra Gupta Mauryas relation with Alexander ?

One Advice ,read Megasthenes Indica...little text survives , and you have to ignore wrong translations like plants growing clothes (obviously cotton) and the like ....Some excerpts are also in my blog which i plan to convert into a website for indian kings,generals and famous wars.

Mudy, Sridatta,

What do you think of the TV serial Chanakya?

There Porus' name is mentioned as Maharaja Paurava Paravatesvara of the Puru clan.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What do you think of the TV serial Chanakya?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Great masterpiece ever made my Indian film industry.
Give clear reflection of historical facts and it is most fascinating piece.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->There Porus' name is mentioned as Maharaja Paurava Paravatesvara of the Puru clan<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
yes, and it is true.
Greeks add "us" or "os" everywhere. <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Speaking of TV serials , any idea about the drama "Mudrarakshasha" , connect with Chandra Gupta Maurya ?
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Nov 21 2004, 10:10 PM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Nov 21 2004, 10:10 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> <!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->There Porus' name is mentioned as Maharaja Paurava Paravatesvara of the Puru clan<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
yes, and it is true.
Greeks add "us" or "os" everywhere. <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I loved the way Alexander was called Alakshendra by the Indians.. That was the first time I realized how much we had missed out creating our version of History, and accepted what had imposed upon us by the west & middle east..
A village forgets its own celebrated scholar

Can someone please shed some light on the `Mitakashara' ?
The Yajnavalkya Smruti lists twenty sages as law givers. The Mitakshara commentary in on taking decision on matters relating to the conduct of life, social and legal matters and expiation.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Sastras. The most important are those of Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara. The other fifteen are those of Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka.

The laws of Manu are intended for the Satya Yuga; <b>those of Yajnavalkya are for the Treta Yuga</b>; those of Sankha and Likhita are for the Dvapara Yuga; and those of Parasara are for the Kali Yuga.

The laws and rules which are based entirely upon our social positions, time and clime, must change with the changes in society and changing conditions of time and clime. Then only the progress of the Hindu society can be ensured
<b>Sage Yajnavalkya</b>

According to Mitakshara, the property of a Hindu is not his individual property. It is property which belongs to what is called a coparcenary, which consists of father, son, grandson and great grandson. All these people have a birth-right in that property and the property on the death of anyone member of this coparcenary passes by what is called survivorship to the members who remain behind, and does not pass to the heirs of the deceased.
From Pioneer, Agenda Section

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Shalom kochi

<b>The Jewish synagogue in Kochi built in 1568 AD stands out as a testimony of communal harmony in the State for centuries. It is the oldest Synagogue in the common wealth countries.</b> Located at Mattancherry, the Synagogue has the scrolls of the Old Testament and the copper plates, which recorded the grants of privilege, bequeathed by the Kochi rulers. The tolerance of the erstwhile Kochi rulers is responsible for India having the fourth largest Jewish community in Asia after Israel, Asian Russia and Iran, says Arun Laxman

The predominantly Jewish State of Israel was formed in 1948. But centuries before that, the Jews had registered their presence in India. Among other things, they built a majestic Synagogue at Mattancherry in Kochi, Kerala in 1568. It has been, through all these years, an enduring monument to peace. It was only during the Portuguese rule that a few minor incidents of attack on the institution were reported.

Considered the oldest in the British Commonwealth by historians, the synagogue has an interesting history.

It is housed in an old mansion, which was built by a Jewish merchant. Today the interiors have a plush look.

One enters the synagogue after buying a Rs 2 ticket. On the right, after entering, are paintings depicting the erstwhile Kochi kings and the Jewish traders who were allowed to do business in the land. The most interesting of these paintings that of Joseph Rabban, the Jewish leader, getting the title deed of Anjuvannam, a village near Kochi. The King Sri Parkaran Iravi Vanmar is seen donating the title deed to Joseph Rabban.

A rough translation of the title deed in Hebrew says: "We the King of the Cochin dynasty transfer the rights of the land an Ìd the village Anjuvannam to Joseph Rabbin, the Jewish business man who will henceforth be known as the Prince Anjuvannam and is donated the village of Anjuvannam together with the seventy two propriety rights, tolls on boats and carts, the revenue and the title of Anjuvannam, the lamp of the day cloth spread in front to walk on a palanquin and he and his descendants can enjoy all these benefits as long as the sun and the moon exist."

But the best feature of the synagogue is the floor in the prayer hall. The significance of the floor is in its 1100 tiles. No two of them are alike. The tiles had been brought from Canton in China. An interesting story behind the tiles goes something like this: A Jewish merchant told a Hindu King that the tiles had been made by the Chinese with the blood of cows. The King, a devout Hindu, promptly sold the tiles to the shrewd Jew. No doubt the Jew businessman had concocted the tale to get the tiles at throwaway prices for the synagogue.

Another interesting object is the huge mechanically operated clock on the top of the synagogue. Inside the prayer hall are chandeliers, imported from Belgium, hanging in beautiful rows. On the left and the right side of the altar are inscriptions from the Old testament in Hebrew. The Jewish community now has restricted the display of a copy of the Old testament which lies inside a curin in the altar in five boxes.

Visitors are also not permitted to walk upstairs for a look at the top of the prayer hall wherein the women devotees generally sit at prayer time. The Synagogue opens from 10 am till 1 pm and 3pm till 5pm.

The area around the synagogue is known as Jewtown and is one of the centres of the Kochi spice trade. Many Jewish names can be seen inscribed on the premises and there are several curio shops on the street leading to the synagogue.

These days, the Jews do not have a priest in this synagogue and pray on their own. The interesting thing is that notwithstanding all the enmity between the Muslims and the Jews in Israel and the West Bank, the Jews in Mattancherry enjoy a healthy camaraderie with predominantly Muslim community of the area. Incidentally, the MLA from Mattancherry belongs to the Muslim League.

The Government had released a stamp and first day cover in 1968 to commemorate the 400th year of the synagogue. Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the special guest at the function. In her speech, she specifically pointed out the tolerance of the erstwhile rulers of Cochin towards the Jewish community and said India enjoyed its reputation as the land of tolerance from the acts of the Cochin Kings.

According to Mr S H Hallegua, a community elder the reason why his community was depleting was due to most of "our people going back to our motherland and the remaining dying of old age."

Marriages are also few and in between as the Jews are a closed community and do not think much of inter-religious marriages. Mr S H Hallegua says the Jews in Kochi total around 60 and have their prayers still at the Mattancherry Synagogue. They still read the prayers in Hebrew the ancient Jewish language.

<b>In 1984, a thesis presented by a Jewish student for her Masters degree in Sociology incorporated a questionnaire given to all the members of the community. </b>The study was aimed at finding out the reason for the emigration of the Jews from the place. <b>Chief among the reasons were cited religious sentiments, lack of marriage partners, and also better employment opportunities. Not one cited discrimination of any kind as the reason for leaving Mattancherry. </b>It also does not seem that when in time, the Jewish populace passes away in Kochi and Kerala, it would only be due to their passion in their holy land and not by any political or social intolerance.


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