Thursday, December 24, 2009

History look

Hindu Temples

How and when the first temple took its birth is anybody’s guess. Temples do not seem to have existed during the Vedic age. The practice of preparing images of the deities mentioned in the Vedic mantras might have come into vogue by the end of the Vedic period. The view that the yagasala of the Vedic period gradually got metamorphosed into temples by the epic period owing to the influence of the cults of devotion is widely accepted.

The earliest temples were built with perishable materials like timber and clay. Cave-temples, temples carved out of the stone or built with bricks came later. Heavy stone structures with ornate architecture and sculpture belong to a still later period.

Considering the vast size of this country, is is remarkable that the building of temple has progressed more or less on a set pattern. This is because there is a basic philosophy behind the temple, its meaning and significance, which will be explained later.

In spite of the basic pattern being the same, varieties did appear, gradually leading to the evolution of different styles in temple architecture. Broadly speaking, these can be bifurcated into the northern and the southern styles.

The northern style, technically called nagara, is distinguished by the curvilinear towers.

The southern style, known as the dravida, has its towers in the form of truncated pyramids.

A third style, vesara by name, is sometimes added, which combines in itself both these styles.


Nagara

Dravida

Vesara types

The earliest temples in north and central India which have withstood the vagaries of time belong to the Gupta period, 320-650 A. D. Mention may be meda of the temples at Sanchi, Tigawa (near Jabbalpur in Madhya Pradesh), Bhumara (in Madhya Pradesh), Nachna (Rajasthan) and Deogarh (near Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh).

Among the earliest surviving temples in South India are found in Tamil Nadu and northern Karnataka. The cradle of Dravidan school of architecture was the Tamil country which evolved from the earliest Buddhist shrines which were both rock-cut and structural.

The later rock-cut temples which belong roughly to the period 500-800 A.D. were mostly Brahmanical or Jain, patronised by three great ruling dynasties of the south, namely the Pallavas of Kanchi in the east, the Calukyas of Badami in the 8th century A.D, the Rastrakutas of Malkhed came to power and they made great contributions to the development of south Indian temple architecture.
The Kailasanatha temple at Ellora belongs to this period.









Bhairavakonda, (near Nellore)

In the 7th –8th Centuries AD, Kondavidu chiefs ruled over a large part of eastern Deccan. Bhairavakonda near Nellore has remains of several rock cut Hindu temples dedicated to God Shiva and other Hindu deities. The shrines have Lingas and also small images of Shiva and other gods. The column bases have seated lions and the entrances are guarded by huge figures with clubs. Monuments in Bhairavakonda are similar to the Pallava style of architecture that flourished further south in Tamilnadu.

Undavalli, (near Vijayawada)

Like Bhairavakonda, Undavalli is also a 7th – 8th century, Kondavidu site with rock cut Hindu temples. The largest among the temples is four storeyed in height; each successive upper storey being recessed from the lower one. Projected eaves separate the floors from each other. Parapets at upper levels are lined with large lions and other figures. There are four shrines in four interconnected mandapas. Columns and walls have images of Vishnu in Anantashayana and Vishnu on Garuda sculpted on them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dose--Harappa

Indus valley civilization Priest

Harappa Environment

During this period, the climate of the region was moist with humid land; dense forests grew where animals like tiger, elephants and rhinoceros roamed. The forests provided timber for brick kilns, which supplied bricks to the cities.

Date of Harappan Culture

This civilization belonged to the Chalcolithic period. In this age, a new metal called bronze by mixing tin and copper came to be produced. It was harder and better suited to meet the needs of the people. The better tools led to intensive cultivation. Iron was not known to the Indus Valley people. According to Sir John Marshall, the Hindus Valley Civilization may be dated between 3250 B.C. arid 2750 B.C.

Extent

The Harappan culture spread to Sindh, Gujarat. Undivided Punjab (including Harayana), Jammu, Western parts of Uttar Pradesh and Northern parts of Rajasthan (Kalibangan). The remains found in these places are similar to those found in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.

Contacts with other civilizations in Harappa

The indus Valley people had overseas trade contacts with Sumeria, Babylonia and Egypt, Thus India ranks with the ancient Western cultures of Burner, Akkad, Babylon, Egypt and Assyria.

Planned Cities in Harappa

Mohenjo and Harappa were the planned cities. They were the two biggest cities, 600 km apart. They had similar planning, layout and technique in construction. They were probably the twin capitals. Mohenjo-daro, means ‘the mound of the dead’.

The city of Mohenjo-dato could be divided into three parts-the Citadel, the lower town arid the small huts on the outer limits of the city.

The Citadel in Harappa

It was the raised part of the city. It has often been described as a fort or administrative block. People might have lived here. The ruling classes included priests and wealthy merchants. The citadel had massive walls. Those walls provided protection against the floods of the Indus river. The citadel consisted of important buildings like the Granary and the Assembly or Town Halls, We also come across the Great Bath here.

The Great Bath

it was situated in the citadel, it measures 1.88 meters X 7.01 meters and is 2.43 meters deep. It had two flights or steps on oTher side, It was made of burnt bricks and mortar, it was provided with two openings one at the top (to let in water) and the other a the bottom (used as an outlet), The idea was to clean the Bath periodically. 1”here were small rooms around tile Bath. They were probably used as dress changing rooms. One of the rooms contained a big well.

The Granary in harappa

In Mohenjo-daro the arqost building is the Granary. It s 45,71 meters long and 15.23 meters wide. In Harappa there were 6 granaries. To the sooth of the granaries, there were circular brick platforms. They were meant for threshing grain.

Town Hall in Harappa

The Town Hall is an imposing structure with 69 meters long arid 23.4 meters wide. The thickness of the walls varied from 1.2 to 1.5 meters. lt might have been used as an administrative block, an assembly hall, a prayer hall, or as a hall for cultural shows.

Lower Town in Harappa

Below the citadel laid a lower town. It was inhabited by petty merchants and craftsmen. This town was divided into rectangular blocks by wide roads. The roads run from north to south and east to west. These roads cut each other at right angles. Here, the remains of brick houses can be seen. The drainage system is praiseworthy. Provision was made for street lighting.

Harappan Houses

The houses were one or two storey high. All the houses were made of baked bricks of uniform size. Every house had two or more rooms, a bath-room, a kitchen and a courtyard. The houses were also provided with doors and small windows The grinding stones were found close to the hearth

Drainage System in Harappa

The kitchen and the bathroom had drains leading out. The main drain was running alongside the main roads. The drains were lined with bricks. Most of them were covered. There were flights of steps leading to drains. The drains were cleaned periodically.

Occupations of the people in Harappa

The Indus people were farmers, weavers, potters, metal workers, toy makers, jewelers, stone cutters and traders Agriculture was the most important occupation In the fertile soils, farmers cultivated two crops a year They were the first who had grown paddy They knew different methods of irrigation. They used ploughs and sickles Pottery was a popular industry. They were skilled in the use of potter’s wheel.

Animal Husbandry in Harappa

The Indus people had domesticated a number of animals such as oxen, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, asses and camels.

Spinning and Weaving in Harappa

The Indus people were skilled in the art of spinning and weaving. They manufactured woollen cloth from sheep and goats’ hair.

Toy-making and sculptures in Harappa

Manufacture of terracotta (burnt clay) was a major industry of the people. The figures of toys, animals and figurines were manufactured. A miniature toy-cart with a driver pulled by oxen is praiseworthy. Figures of animals such as sacred bull and dove were discovered. The figures of Mother Goddesses were used for religious purposes

Seal-making in Harappa

A large number of seals numbering more than 2000 have been discovered. They carry short inscriptions with carved pictures of animals. The seals were made of terracotta or satellite. They were used for trade. They have provided lot of information about the daily life of the people, their religion, occupations, customs and trade.

Building Industry in Harappa

In building industry, large number of people were employed Manufacture of bricks was an important industry. The bricks were more or less of an uniform size.

Trade in Harappa

The lndus people had engaged themselves in internal and foreign trade The Mesopotamian seals were found in Indus cities and the Indus seals were found in Mesopotamia. Remains of dockyard have been discovered at Lethal in Gujarat. In this dockyard, the ships might have been loaded and unloaded. Thus, the Hindus people were familiar with ships. The merchants were prosperous and lived lavishly. They used sticks with marks to measure articles. They also used various kinds of weights and measures.

Political Organization in Harappa

The city was well administered by a class of wealthy merchants and priests. There was some kind of municipal organization It took care of sanitation and regulated trade. It collected taxes in the form of grains and also maintained law and order in the city

Social Life in Harappa

There were three social groups. The first group or the ruling class lived in the citadel It comprised of wealthy merchants and the high priests. They second group consisted of petty merchants, artisans arid craftsmen. The laborers belonged to the third group and lived in small huts. Generally speaking, the social organization was more definite

Life of the People in Harappa

The Indus people led prosperous life. They had more time for leisure. There was a very big improvement in their food habits, dress and amusements.

Food in Harappa

Wheat and barley were the staple food of the people. Besides these, they consumed milk, meat, fish, fruits and dates.

Dress and Ornaments in Harappa

The women wore a short skirt. It. was held at the waist with a girdle. The men wore a long, loose unstitched garment Women wore necklaces bangles, bracelets, earrings and waist bands. These were made of gold and silver, bone, stone, ivory and she! Men had also adorned themselves with ornaments like armlets. The rich wore gold and silver jewelry. The poor used shell, copper and silver ornaments. The women combed their hair.

Indus Script in Harappa

Indus Script Most of the inscriptions were engraved on seals They contain only a few words They developed picture writing (Pictographs,,). Altogether about 250 to 400 pictographs were discovered. It is interesting to note that the Indus script has not yet been deciphered.

Religious Life in Harappa

The Papal tree was used as a religious symbol. They worshipped Pasupathi (Siva) and Mother Goddess Mother Goddess represented fertility. There are no temple structures among the remains. The Indus people believed in life after death. They buried their dead in huge earthen pots along with food and ornaments. The articles used by them in then’ daily life were also kept in those pots.

Decline of the Indus Civilization

The Indus Civilization was at its peak for about 500 years They lived in the same kind of houses, used the same tools and ate the same food. The city (Mohenjo-daro) was destroyed for a number of times and it was built again and again. The exact causes for the destruction of this great civilization are not known. The cities might have been destroyed by natural disasters like earthquakes, floods or a change in the course of the Indus. The cities declined owing to Aryan invasions also. Deforestation was another cause for the destruction of this civilization



The Harappan did not know the use of iron.



Courtesy--http://www.indiaandindians.com/india_history/harappan_civilization.php

Poona Pact

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Poona Pact, Agreed to by Leaders of Caste-Hindus and of Dalits, at Poona on 24-9-1932

The following is the text of the agreement arrived at between leaders acting on behalf of the Depressed Classes and of the rest of the community, regarding the representation of the Depressed Classes in the legislatures and certain other matters affecting their welfare

1. There shall be seats reserved for the Depressed Classes out of general electorate seats in the provincial legislatures as follows: -

Madras 30; Bombay with Sind 25; Punjab 8; Bihar and Orissa 18; Central Provinces 20; Assam 7; Bengal 30; United Provinces 20. Total 148. These figures are based on the Prime Minister's (British) decision.

2. Election to these seats shall be by joint electorates subject, however, to the following procedure –

All members of the Depressed Classes registered in the general elec- toral roll of a constituency will form an electoral college which will elect a panel of tour candidates belonging to the Deparessed Classes for each of such reserved seats by the method of the single vote and four persons getting the highest number of votes in such primary elections shall be the candidates for election by the general electorate.

3. The representation of the Depressed Classes in the Central Legislature shall likewise be on the principle of joint electorates and reserved seats by the method of primary election in the manner provided for in clause above for their representation in the provincial legislatures.

CENTRAL LEGISLATURE

4. In the Central Legislature 18 per cent of the seats allotted to the general electorate for British India in the said legislature shall he reserved for the Depressed Classes.

5. The system of primary election to a panel of candidates for election to the Central and Provincial Legislatures as i herein-before mentioned shall come to an end after the first ten years, unless terminated sooner by mutual agreement under the provision of clause 6 below.

6. The system of representation of Depressed Classes by reserved seats in the Provincial and Central Legislatures as provided for in clauses (1) and (4) shall continue until determined otherwise by mutual agreement between the communities concerned in this settlement.

7. The Franchise for the Central and Provincial Legislatures of the Depressed Classes shall be as indicated, in the Lothian Committee Report.

8. There shall be no disabilities attached to any one on the ground of his being a member of the Depressed Classes in regard to any election to local bodies or appointment to the public services. Every endeavour shall be made to secure a fair representation of the Depressed Classes in these respects, subject to such educational qualifications as may be laid down for appointment to the Public Services.

(Adult franchise but reservation has been provided for Dalits on population basis, till 1960),

9. In every province out of the educational grant an adequate sum shall be ear-marked for providing educational facilities to the members of Depressed Classes,

Courtesy--


Rowlatt Act

Rowlatt Act

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The Rowlatt Act was passed in 1919, indefinitely extending wartime "emergency meaures" in order to control public unrest and root out conspiracy. This act effectively authorised the government to imprison without trial, any person suspected of terrorism living in the Raj .


Mahatma Gandhi, among other Indian leaders, was extremely critical of the Act and argued that not everyone should be punished in response to isolated political crimes. The Act led to indignation from Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures. Some people who read the enactment found that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless so on April 6th, a "hartal" was organised where Indians would suspend all business and fast as a sign of their hatred for the legislation.

However, the hartal in Delhi was overshadowed by tensions running high which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Gandhi saw that the Indians were not ready for such a stand and suspended the hartal.

The Rowlatt Act came into effect in March 1919.
In the Punjab the protest movement was very strong, and on April 10th, two outstanding leaders of the congress Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kithlew, were arrested and taken to an unknown place.

A protest was held in Amritsar, which led to the Amritsar Massacre of 1919.

Courtesy--

http://z.about.com/f/lg/ae01sm.bmp

Monday, December 21, 2009

Harshavardhana

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Harshavardhana was an Indian emperor who belonged to Pushibhukti family. He was born around 580 AD and is believed to be the son of Prabhakar Vardhan, the founder of Vardhan Dynasty. At the height of his glory his kingdom spanned the Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada river. He ascended the throne after his elder brother Rajya Vardhana got murdered by Sasanka, King of Gauda. At this time he was just 16 years of age.
After his accession to the throne he merged the two kingdoms of Thanesar and Kannauj and shifted his capital to Kannauj.

Harsha was a secular ruler and respected all the religions and faiths. In his early life he used to be a sun-worshipper but later he became the follower of Shaivism and Buddhism. According to the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang, who visited the kingdom of Harsha in 636 AD, Harsha built many Buddhist Stupas. He was also a great patron of the Nalanda University.
He was the first to establish the Sino-Indian diplomatic relationships.

He was a good scholar and a noted author. He wrote three plays in Sanskrit namely Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda. We can find well-documented record of his reign in the work of his court poet Banabhatta. Bana wrote Harsha Charita, the first historical poetic work in Sanskrit language. Work of the Chinese traveler, Xuanzang also provides a deep insight into the life during Harshavardhana's rule.


He ruled India for almost forty years, and died in 647 AD, leaving behind no heir to the throne. After his death his empire disintegrated.

cOURTESY----
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Bhishma Parva

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Hindu epic Mahabharata contains 18 books or parvas. The sixth Parva is Bhishma Parva. (sanskrit, पर्वन्, parvan, noun, means portion)

This Bhishma Parva (Main Division) contains the following four Sub Divisions:

Jamvu-khanda Nirmana Parva: 1 to 10 chapters
Bhumi Parva: 11 & 12 chapters
Bhagavat-Gita Parva: 13 to 42 chapters
Bhishma Vadha Parva: 43 to 122 chapters

This book of the Mahabharata is important for two reasons.

First of all, it contains the Bhagavad Gita, the best-known Hindu sacred text.

Secondly, this book describes the start of the enormous battle which is the center-piece of the work, specifically the first ten days of conflict, up to the fate of the hero Bhishma.

The Bhishma Parva starts with an overture of apocalyptic and unnatural portents. It then immediately digresses into a treatise on geography and natural history--one of several texts which the great epic accreted over time.

After this comes the Bhagavad Gita, which unlike some of the other digressions, is a good thematic fit in the narrative. Arjuna, facing a battle in which he will have to fight many of his immediate relatives, is understandably hesitant to fight. The Avatar Krishna then proceeds to explain to Arjuna why he must fulfill his duty as a warrior, and how he can emerge from this spiritual crisis of conscience with a clean slate. This text deals with the contradictions of living a devotional life in an imperfect world. Even non-Hindus have found the Gita meaningful for this reason. Then Krishna reveals to Arjuna his divine form; this section is one of the best attempts to describe the indescribable ever written.

Finally we move on to the battle itself, which occupies two-thirds of Book 6, a relentless and immersive description of the horror of war. This is literally a blow-by-blow description of each incident of combat over a period of ten days. And this is no ordinary battle. The combatants absorb incredible numbers of arrows and are still standing, ready to fight the next day. The field is stalked by vampires and cannibals. There are rivers and oceans of blood and gore. The heroes wield superweapons and magic spells, only described elliptically, with which they slay thousands of opponents at a time. And at the end we learn how Bhishma, the undefeatable leader of Duryodhana's army, is finally brought down.

Gautamiputra Satakarni

Gautamiputra Satakarni
Gautamiputra Satakarni was the famous ruler of Sattavahana dynasty, under whom the empire regained a dazzling recovery.

The Sattavahanas who are mentioned in the Puranas as the Andhra were the original inhabitants of Western Deccan. They however extended their sway over Eastern Deccan in the later years.
The founder of the Sattavahana dynasty according to Puranas was Simuka who ousted the last Kanva king Susharman from the throne and established the dominion of the Sattavahanas.
Since the ascension of Simuka to the throne for the next half-century, the Sattavahanas witnessed a series of decline owing to the Scythian invasion. But the Sattavahanas had experienced an incredible recovery under Gautamiputra Satakarni, the celebrated king of the Sattavahana Dynasty. He is also regarded the greatest of the Sattavahanas since his prosperity even excelled his predecessors. The exploits and achievements of Gautamiputra Satakarni were commemorated in the Nasik Prasasti, incised 20 years after the death of Gautamiputra by his mother Devi Gautami Balasri. Another important source about the reign of Gautamiputra Satakarni is the Nasik Prasasti.

The time period of Gautamiputra`s reign is a controversial subject and till date historians have failed to provide authentic information about that. Satakarni was the contemporary of Saka Kshatrapas, Nahapana and also defeated him in the eighteenth year of his reign. However Gautamiputra ruled till 130 A.D.

Gautamiputra Satakarni was described in the Nasik Prasasti as "Saka-Yavana Pallava Nisudana", the destroyer of the Sakas, Pahlavas and the Yavanas.
The first sixteen years of his reign was devoted to the great preparation of the struggle against the Saka power under Nahapana. The coins of Nahapana engraved by the name of Gautamiputra, testifies his success against the Sakas. Nahapana had seized the Western Deccan from Sattavahanas.
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To take avenge Gautamiputra carried out a valiant struggle against the Sakas for two long years and finally killed Saka chief Nahapana and his governor Rishavadatta. The legend of the Saka-Sattavahana struggle during Gautamiputra is also known from a gatha in Nirukti. Nahapana defended his capital Brigukachchha from the Sattavahana invasion for two years but the accumulated wealth being exhausted, Nahapana became weak, defeated and finally was killed. Gautamiputra later uprooted the Yavanas and the Pahlavas from Deccan. Gautamiputra not only recovered his paternal land Maharashtra, the original homeland of the Sattavahanas, but also annexed the Saka kingdom in Gujarat, Berar, Saurashtra, Malwa and North Konkan.

The overthrow of the Sakas by Gautamiputra constituted the Sattavahanas as a formidable power in South. The idea of Digvijay began to haunt the Gautamiputra`s vision. From the Nasik Prasasti it is known that apart from the countries conquered from Nahapana, Gautamiputra extended his sway over the districts watered by the rivers of Rishika, Godavari and also the regions of Hyderabad and Berar. The conquests of Satakarni are known from the Nasik Prasasti. The territories conquered by Gautamiputra include Asika or Maharashtra, Muluka or northern Maharashtra, Surutha or Kathiawar, Kukura or Western Rajputana, Anupa or Narmada Valley, Vidarbha or Berar, Akara, Avanti or western Malwa, Aparanta or Konkan. The Nasik Prasasti also delineated that Gautamiputra was the master of the extensive land lying to the south of the Vindhya Mountain, extending from the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats and also included the Travancore region. However there is still a keen controversy among the historians whether the region of Andhra, the second home of the Sattavahanas and Southern Kosala were part of Gautamiputra`s territory.

The mighty conqueror Gautamiputra Satakarni also earned enough prosperity as an able and benevolent ruler. As a ruler Gautamiputra had a strong sense of public duty. To stabilise a strong administrative establishment he introduced twin foundations of Sastric Laws and humanism, on which his administration was based. He emphasised on the taxation system and levied taxes in conformity with justice. He worked for the well-being and upliftment of the poor and the downtrodden section of his Empire.
As a king he witnessed the ill effects of narrow casteism, which had crept up in the society during the contemporary era. Hence he was a great patron and a promoter of Varnasrama dharma. At the same time he stopped the growth of sub castes due to the intermingling of four social orders.
But Dr. Gopalachariya however thinks that sub-castes existed during that period. According to him, due to the multiplication of vocations, it was not practically possible for Gautamiputra to stop the growth of sub-castes. A sophisticated and learned king, Gautamiputra Satakarni was a staunch Brahmanist but he was benign to other religious sects also.

Such a tough and powerful king like Gautamiputra Satakarni towards the end of his reign suffered overthrows in Kardamaka Sakas. They snatched away most of the districts conquered by Gautamiputra from Nahapana, the king of the Kshatrapa Sakas. After the fall of the Kshatrapa Sakas, a sister branch of Kshatrapas, the Kardamakas emerged. The Geography of Ptolemy and the Girnar inscription of Rudramana also corroborate the fact.

Gautamiputra Satakarni the illustrious ruler of the Sattavahana Dynasty was successful in unifying the major parts of India under the authority of the Sattavahana Empire. Gautamiputra was considered the destroyer of the Sakas, Pahlavas and the Yavanas. Under Gautamiputra, the Sattavahana Empire attained a successful recovery and thriving prosperity. Being a benevolent ruler Gautamiputra was tolerant towards the other religious groups and introduced administrative reforms for the successful administration of the vast Empire. Gautamiputra Satakarni, hence can be regarded the greatest among the Sattavahanas.



Source--------

Indianetzone: Largest Free Encyclopedia of India with thousand of articles

Mudra- Rakshasa, Sanskrit Drama

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Mudra- Rakshasa, Sanskrit Drama
Mudra-Rakshasa is a Sanskrit drama of Visakhadatta.

Mudra-Rakshasa is a Sanskrit drama of Visakhadatta. This is said to be a drama, which has an historical interest, for Chandragupta, the Sandracottus of Greek writers, is a leading character in it. The date of its production is apparently the eleventh or twelfth century A.D.

The purpose of the play is to reunite Rakshasa, the hostile minister of Nanda, the late king of Palibothra, to the individuals by whom, or on whose behalf, his sovereign was murdered, that is the Brahman Chanakya, and the prince Chandragupta.

By means of this analysis Rakshasa is provided by the device of Chanakya, an object of suspicion to the prince with whom he took refuge, and is consequently dismissed by him. In this abandoned condition he discovers the forthcoming danger of a dear friend whom Chanakya is about to put to death. With the aim to save his friend he surrenders himself before the enemies. On the contrary the enemies offer him with the rank and power of prime minister, and the parties are finally friends.

The author of the play is called in the prelude Visakhadatta. He was not a poet of the sphere of Bhavabhuti or Kalidasa but he has a vigorous perception of character and a manly strain of sentiment. He is the Messenger of the Hindus.

cOURTESY--http://www.indianetzone.com/30/mudra-_rakshasa_sanskrit_drama.htm

dOSE (hINDUISM)

Adi ShankaraImage via Wikipedia


Who is Sankaracharya?

Jagadguru Sri Adi Sankaracharya was the greatest exponent of the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and a savior of Vedic Dharma. Salutations to Sankara, who is an ever shining star on the sky of Indian philosophy.

The existence of Vedic Dharma in India today is due to Sankara. The forces opposed to Vedic religion were more numerous and powerful at the time of Sankara than they are today. Still, single-handed, within a very short time, Sankara overpowered them all and restored the Vedic Dharma and Advaita Vedanta to its pristine purity in the land pure knowledge and spirituality.

Sankaracharya occupies a very important position in the history of Indian philosophy.

(excerpts taken from http://dlshq.org/saints/sankara.htm)

Philosophy of Adi Shankara

Shankara spread the tenets of Advaita Vedanta, the supreme philosophy of monism to the four corners of India with his ‘digvijaya’ (the conquest of the quarters). The quintessence of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) is to reiterate the truth of reality of one’s essential divine identity and to reject one’s thought of being a finite human being with a name and form subject to earthly changes.

According to the Advaita maxim, the True Self is Brahman (Divine Creator). Brahman is the ‘I’ of ‘Who Am I?’ The Advaita doctrine propagated by Shankara views that the bodies are manifold but the separate bodies have the one Divine in them.
The phenomenal world of beings and non-beings is not apart from the Brahman but ultimately become one with Brahman. The crux of Advaita is that Brahman alone is real, and the phenomenal world is unreal or an illusion. Through intense practice of the concept of Advaita, ego and ideas of duality can be removed from the mind of man.

The comprehensive philosophy of Shankara is inimitable for the fact that the doctrine of Advaita includes both worldly and transcendental experience.

Shankara while stressing the sole reality of Brahman, did not undermine the phenomenal world or the multiplicity of Gods in the scriptures.

Shankara’s philosophy is based on three levels of reality, viz., paramarthika satta (Brahman), vyavaharika satta (empirical world of beings and non-beings) and pratibhashika satta (reality).

Shankara’s theology maintains that seeing the self where there is no self causes spiritual ignorance or avidya. One should learn to distinguish knowledge (jnana) from avidya to realize the True Self or Brahman. He taught the rules of bhakti, yoga and karma to enlighten the intellect and purify the heart as Advaita is the awareness of the ‘Divine’.
Shankara developed his philosophy through commentaries on the various scriptures. It is believed that the revered saint completed these works before the age of sixteen.
His major works fall into three distinct categories – commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

The most important of the works is the commentaries on the Brahmasutras – Brahmasutrabhashya – considered the core of Shankara’s philosophy of Advaita.

Shankaracharya’s Monastic Centers

Shri Shankaracharya established four ‘mutts’ or monastic centers in four corners of India and put his four main disciples to head them and serve the spiritual needs of the ascetic community within the Vedantic tradition. He classified the wandering mendicants into 10 main groups to consolidate their spiritual strength.

Each mutt was assigned one Veda.

The mutts are Jyothir Mutt at Badrinath in northern India with Atharva Veda; Sarada Mutt at Sringeri in southern India with Yajur Veda; Govardhan Mutt at Jaganath Puri in eastern India with Rig Veda and Kalika Mutt at Dwarka in western India with Sama Veda.

It is believed that Shankara attained heavenly abode in Kedarnath and was only 32 years old when he died.

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Darshan Author Darshan Author
1. Nyaya Sage Gautam 4. Yoga Maharshi Patanjali
2. Vaisheshik Sage Kanad

5. Purva
(mimansa)

Sage Jaimini
3. Sankhya Sage Kapil 6. Vedanta
(Uttarmimansa)
Maharshi Vyas

(Uttar) Mimansa or the Vedanta Darshan: ‘It is also called the Vedanta, Uttarmimansa and the Shankardarshan. This Darshan is the jewel in the crown of the entire science of Spirituality. This Darshan envisages the ultimate culmination of the Darshanik school of thought and philosophy prior to Shankaracharya. In the Upanishads the Vedanta is referred to as the ultimate doctrine of the Shrutis. The Upanishads themselves were called the Vedanta. The definition of the Vedanta can be given as -

Meaning: The concluding part of the Vedas and the holy text in the form of the Upanishads which describes Brahman is known as the Vedanta. - Nyayakosh

The Brahmasutras too elucidate the meaning of the Upanishads and hence are included in the Vedanta. The Upanishads were referred to as the Vedanta because they unravelled the mysterious meaning of the Vedas. Sage Badarayan compiled the Brahmasutras with the motive of eliminating the contradictions and differences of opinion in the Upanishads and creating an unanimous opinion.

‘Worship and spiritual practice have to be founded on some Darshan. Only then do they derive some significance. Prior to the elucidation of the unmanifest form of The Lord done in the Vedas there was no Darshan about its manifestation. Sage Vyas wrote the Brahmasutras and accomplished that task. He gathered the spiritual doctrines in that holy text in the form of aphorisms (sutras). Shankaracharya, Nimbarkacharya, Ramanujacharya, Vallabhacharya, Madhvacharya and other authors of the Darshans have compiled their own sectarian Darshans based on the Brahmasutras.’

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ancient History

Harshavardhana

With the commencement of the 7th century, Harshavardhana (606-647 A.D.) ascended the throne of Thaneshwar and Kannauj on the death of his brother, Rajyavardhana. By 612 Harshavardhana consolidated his kingdom in northern India.

In 620 A.D. Harshavardhana invaded the Chalukya kingdom in the Deccan, which was then ruled by Pulakesin II. But the Chalukya resistance proved tough for Harshavardhana and he was defeated. Harshavardhana is well known for his religious toleration, able administration and diplomatic relations. He maintained diplomatic relations with China and sent envoys, who exchanged ideas of the Chinese rulers and developed their knowledge about each other.

The Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang, who visited India during his reign, has given a vivid description of the social, economic and religious conditions, under the rule of Harsha spoke highly of the king. Harsha's death, once again, left India without any central paramount power.

The Chalukyas of Badami

The Chalukyas were a great power in southern India between 6th and 8th century A.D. Pulakesin I, the first great ruler of this dynasty ascended the throne in 540 A.D. and having made many splendid victories, established a mighty empire. His sons Kirtivarman and Mangalesa further extended the kingdom by waging many successful wars against the neighbours including the Mauryans of the Konkans.

Pulakesin II, the son of Kirtivarman, was one of the greatest ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. He ruled for almost 34 years. In this long reign, he consolidated his authority in Maharashtra and conquered large parts of the Deccan. His greatest achievement was his victory in the defensive war against Harshavardhana.

However, Pulakesin was defeated and killed by the Pallav king Narasimhavarman in 642 A.D. His son Vikramaditya, who was also as great a ruler as his father, succeeded him. He renewed the struggle against his southern enemies. He recovered the former glory of the Chalukyas to a great extent. Even his great grandson, Vikramaditya II was also a great warrior. In 753 A.D.,

Vikramaditya and his son were overthrown by a chief named Dantidurga who laid the foundation of the next great empire of Karnataka and Maharashtra called Rashtrakutas.

The Pallavas of Kanchi

In the last quarter of the 6th century A.D. the Pallava king Sinhavishnu rose to power and conquered the area between the rivers Krishna and Cauveri. His son and successor Mahendravarman was a versatile genius, who unfortunately lost the northern parts of his dominion to the Chalukya king, Pulekesin II. But his son, Narsinhavarman I, crushed the power of Chalukyas.

The Pallava power reached its glorious heights during the reign of Narsinhavarman II, who is well known for his architectural achievements. He built many temples, and art and literature flourished in his times. Dandin, the great Sanskrit scholar, lived in his court.
However, after his death, the Pallava Empire began to decline and in course of time they were reduced to a mere local tribal power. Ultimately, the Cholas defeated the Pallava king Aparajita and took over their kingdom towards the close of the 9th century A.D.

The ancient history of India has seen the rise and downfall of several dynasties, which have left their legacies still resounding in the golden book of Indian history. With the end of the 9th century A.D., the medieval history of India started with the rise of empires such as the Palas, the Senas, the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas, and so on.

Monday, December 14, 2009

dOSE--Medieval History of India

For a period that has come to be so strongly associated with the Islamic influence and rule in India, Medieval Indian history went for almost three whole centuries under the so-called indigenous rulers, that included the Chalukyas, the Pallavas, the Pandyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Muslims rulers and finally the Mughal Empire. The most important dynasty to emerge in the middle of the 9th century was that of the Cholas.

The Palas

Between 8th and 10th centuries A.D., a number of powerful empires dominated the eastern and northern parts of India. The Pala king Dharmpala, son of Gopala reigned from the late 8th century A.D. to early 9th century A.D. Nalanda University and Vikramashila University were founded by Dharmpala.

The Senas

After the decline of the Palas, the Sena dynasty established its rule in Bengal. The founder of the dynasty was Samantasena. The greatest ruler of the dynasty was Vijaysena. He conquered the whole of Bengal and was succeeded by his son Ballalasena. He reigned peacefully but kept his dominions intact. He was a great scholar and wrote four works including one on astronomy. The last ruler of this dynasty was Lakshamanasena under whose reign the Muslims invaded Bengal, and the empire fell.

The Pratihara

The greatest ruler of the Pratihara dynasty was Mihir Bhoja. He recovered Kanauj (Kanyakubja) by 836, and it remained the capital of the Pratiharas for almost a century. He built the city Bhojpal (Bhopal). Raja Bhoja and other valiant Gujara kings faced and defeated many attacks of the Arabs from west.

Between 915-918 A.D, Kanauj was attacked by a Rashtrakuta king, who devastated the city leading to the weakening of the Pratihara Empire. In 1018, Kannauj then ruled by Rajyapala Pratihara was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni. The empire broke into independent Rajput states.

The Rashtrakutas

This dynasty, which ruled from Karnataka, is illustrious for several reasons. They ruled the territory vaster than that of any other dynasty. They were great patrons of art and literature. The encouragement that several Rashtrakuta kings provided to education and literature is unique, and the religious tolerance exercised by them was exemplary.

The Chola Empire of the South

It emerged in the middle of the 9th century A.D., covered a large part of Indian peninsula, as well as parts of Sri Lanka and the Maldives Islands.

The first important ruler to emerge from the dynasty was Rajaraja Chola I and his son and successor Rajendra Chola. Rajaraja carried forward the annexation policy of his father. He led armed expedition to distant lands of Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

The successors of Rajendra I, Rajadhiraj and Rajendra II were brave rulers who fought fiercely against the later Chalukya kings, but could not check the decline of Chola Empire. The later Chola kings were weak and incompetent rulers. The Chola Empire thus lingered on for another century and a half, and finally came to an end with the invasion of Malik Kafur in the early 14th century A.D.

cOURTESY--http://india.gov.in/knowindia/medieval_history.php

Dose--The ChALUKYAS

Badami Chalukya Empire MapImage via Wikipedia

  1. The Chalukya Empire was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related, but individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled from their capital Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakesi II. After the death of Pulakesi II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from their capital Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) till the end of the 12th century.
  2. Hiuen-Tsiang, a Chinese traveller had visited the court of Pulakesi II. At the time of this visit, as mentioned in the Aihole record, Pulakesi II had divided his empire into three Maharashtrakas or great provinces comprising of 99,000 villages each. This empire possibly covered present day Karnataka, Maharashtra and coastal Konkan.
  3. Pulakesi II is the most famous ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. In his reign the Chalukyas of Badami saw their kingdom extend over most of the Deccan.
  4. The Chalukyas ruled over the Deccan plateau in India for over 600 years. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. These are the "Chalukyas of Badami" (also called "Early Chalukyas"), who ruled between the 6th and the 8th century, and the two sibling dynasties, the "Chalukyas of Kalyani" (also called Western Chalukyas or "Later Chalukyas") and the "Chalukyas of Vengi" (also called Eastern Chalukyas).
  5. The Aihole inscription of Pulakesi II (634) written by his court poet Ravikirti in Sanskrit language and Kannada script is considered as an excellent piece of poetry. A few verses of a poetess named Vijayanaka who describes herself as the "dark Sarasvati" has been preserved. It is possible that she may have been a queen of prince Chandraditya (a son of Pulakesi II).
  6. The rule of the Western and Eastern Chalukyas, however, is a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu literatures respectively. By the 9th–10th centuries, Kannada language had already seen some of its most notable writers. The "three gems" of Kannada literature, Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna belonged to this period.
  7. The army was well organised and this was the reason for Pulakesi II's success beyond the Vindyas.It consisted of an infantry, a cavalry, an elephant corps and a powerful navy. The Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsiang wrote that the Chalukyan army had hundreds of elephants which were intoxicated with liquor prior to battle. It was with their navy that they conquered Revatidvipa (Goa), and Puri on east coast of India. Rashtrakuta inscriptions use the term Karnatabala when referring to the powerful Chalukya armies.

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