Mayan Calendar

The Mayan calendar was a complex system used by the ancient Maya civilization for various purposes such as astronomy, religious rituals, and record-keeping. It consisted of several interconnected cycles of different lengths, with the most important being the Tzolk'in and the Haab'.

The Tzolk'in was a 260-day calendar made up of two smaller cycles: the 20-day week called "Weeks" or "Suns", represented by a dot, and the 13-day month called "Days", represented by a bar. These two cycles aligned approximately every 52 years, creating what the Maya called a Calendar Round.

The Haab' was a 365-day solar calendar divided into 18 months of 20 days each, plus an additional period of 5 days called the "Wayeb" at the end of the year. The Haab' months were named after various activities or aspects of life.

In addition to these calendars, the Maya also used a long-count calendar that recorded the passage of time in relation to a starting point called the "0 Date". This calendar was composed of three parts: the Bak'tun (a period of approximately 394 years), the B'akab'tun (a period of approximately 7,882 years), and the Piktun (a period of approximately 52,000 years).

The Mayan numeral system was one of the most advanced of its time, using just three symbols - dots for 1, bars for 5, and a shell symbol for zero. This allowed them to record dates accurately and make complex calculations for their calendar systems.

In summary, the Mayan calendar was a sophisticated system with various cycles that intertwined with religious, astronomical, and cultural aspects of Maya society.

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Chanakya - Across Two Millennia

Chanakya: A Persistent Presence in Indian Literature Across Two Millennia

Introduction

Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, is a historical figure whose name resonates through the annals of Indian history and literature. Known primarily for his authorship of the Arthashastra, a treatise on statecraft, economic policy, and military strategy, Chanakya's legacy has been referenced and debated for over two thousand years. This blog post delves into the various historical references to Chanakya in Indian texts and the significance of these mentions in understanding his enduring legacy.

Early Mentions and Integrations

One of the earliest and most significant integrations of Chanakya's story is found in the Mudrarakshasa, a play by Vishakhadatta. The Mudrarakshasa connects Chanakya with Kautilya, intertwining the Arthashastra into the narrative. This blending of texts and legends underscores the importance of Chanakya in Indian historiography and literature.

In the Visnu Purana, a text dating back to the 7th century CE, a short passage mentions Chanakya's deeds, attributing them to Kautilya. This text highlights the influence of Chanakya and the Arthashastra in the broader context of Indian literature and historical accounts.

Critique of the Traditional Account

Despite these early mentions, there is evidence suggesting a distinction between Chanakya and Kautilya in some sources. The Jain text Nandisutta lists Chanakya among famous intellectuals, while separately mentioning a text called Kodillaya (identified with Kautilya and the Arthashastra) among Brahmanical works. This separation indicates that Chanakya and Kautilya were not universally recognized as the same individual in all historical accounts.

Additionally, the Bhagavata Purana presents an alternative version where the deeds attributed to Kautilya are ascribed to another Brahmana. This further complicates the traditional identification of Chanakya with Kautilya, suggesting that this equation might be a later addition to the legend.

Other Identifications and Textual Evidence

The Panchatantra and the Nitisara (NS 1.6) also cite Chanakya as the author of the Arthashastra. In these texts, Chanakya's association with the Arthashastra is reinforced, yet the identification with Kautilya remains debated among scholars. The Dasakumaracarita credits the Arthashastra to Vishnugupta, another name associated with Chanakya.

The Arthashastra's ascription to Vishnugupta, particularly in the commentary on chapter 15.1, suggests that the text might have been authored or compiled by someone who brought it to its present form. The verses concluding chapter 15.1.73 emphasize the role of Chanakya (as Vishnugupta) in rescuing and completing the text, linking him directly to its creation and preservation.

Conclusion

Chanakya's presence in Indian literature spans more than two millennia, with references ranging from early texts like the Mudrarakshasa and Visnu Purana to later works such as the Panchatantra and Dasakumaracarita. These mentions highlight the enduring impact of his contributions to statecraft and economic thought. Despite some scholarly debates regarding his exact identification with Kautilya or Vishnugupta, Chanakya's legacy remains a cornerstone of Indian historical and intellectual tradition.

References

  1. Mudrarakshasa by Vishakhadatta
  2. Visnu Purana (ca. seventh century CE)
  3. Nandisutta (Jain text)
  4. Bhagavata Purana
  5. Panchatantra
  6. Nitisara (NS 1.6)
  7. Dasakumaracarita (D 2.8)
  8. Arthashastra (various chapters and verses)
  9. McClish, Mark. "The History of the Arthashastra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India." Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  10. Burrow, T. "Cāṇakya." Various analyses and studies on Chanakya and Kautilya.

By examining these references, we can appreciate the profound and lasting influence of Chanakya on Indian literature and historical thought. His teachings and strategies continue to be studied and revered, underscoring the timeless relevance of his contributions.

The British Raj's Divide and Rule: Martial Race Theory, SGPC, and Hindu Society

The British Raj's Divide and Rule: Martial Race Theory, SGPC, and Hindu Society

The British colonial rule in India was characterized by various policies and strategies aimed at maintaining control over the vast and diverse subcontinent. Among these were the promotion of the "martial race" theory, the creation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), and efforts to exacerbate divisions within Hindu society. This article examines these aspects of British colonial policy and their lasting impacts.

The Martial Race Theory

The concept of "martial races" was a colonial construct developed by British administrators and military officers in the late 19th century. This theory posited that certain ethnic or social groups in India were inherently more militarily inclined and loyal to the British than others.

Key points of the martial race theory include:

  1. Classification: The British categorized various Indian communities as either "martial" or "non-martial" based on their perceived military prowess and loyalty.
  2. Recruitment practices: The theory heavily influenced recruitment policies for the British Indian Army, favoring groups designated as martial races.
  3. Stereotyping: It perpetuated stereotypes about different Indian communities, often based on colonial prejudices rather than factual evidence.
  4. Divide and rule: By elevating certain groups and marginalizing others, the theory served to create divisions among Indian communities.

The martial race theory had far-reaching consequences, influencing social hierarchies and inter-community relations even after India's independence.

Creation of the SGPC

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was established in 1920 during the British Raj. While ostensibly created to manage Sikh gurdwaras (places of worship), some historians argue that its formation was influenced by British colonial interests:

  1. Background: The SGPC emerged from the Gurdwara Reform Movement, which sought to remove corrupt mahants (priests) from Sikh shrines.
  2. British involvement: Some scholars suggest that the British supported the formation of the SGPC to counter the growing influence of the Indian independence movement among Sikhs.
  3. Institutional power: The SGPC became a powerful institution representing Sikh interests, potentially serving British aims of balancing different religious communities.
  4. Legacy: The SGPC continues to play a significant role in Sikh religious and political affairs in modern India.
  5. Controversial incidents: The relationship between the SGPC and the British authorities during this period has been a subject of historical debate. One controversial incident often cited is the alleged honoring of General Reginald Dyer at the Golden Temple in 1919, shortly after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It's important to note that: a. The historical accuracy of this event is disputed by some scholars and Sikh organizations. b. If it did occur, it was likely an action by the temple management at the time, not the SGPC, which was formed later in 1920. c. The incident, whether factual or exaggerated, has been used by various parties to support different narratives about Sikh-British and Sikh-Hindu relations during this period. d. The vast majority of Sikhs, like other Indian communities, were opposed to British colonial rule and participated actively in the independence movement.

These complex historical events and their interpretations highlight the nuanced and often contentious nature of colonial-era politics and inter-community relations in India.

Divisions in Hindu Society

The British colonial administration also implemented policies that some historians argue exacerbated existing divisions within Hindu society:

  1. Caste-based census: The introduction of caste-based census classifications in 1872 is said to have rigidified the caste system and heightened caste consciousness.
  2. Support for reformist movements: British support for certain Hindu reform movements, while potentially progressive, also led to internal divisions within Hindu society.
  3. Separate electorates: The introduction of separate electorates for different religious communities, including various Hindu groups, further emphasized communal identities.
  4. Orientalist scholarship: British Orientalist studies of Hindu texts and traditions sometimes misinterpreted or oversimplified complex social structures, influencing how Hindus viewed their own society.

Conclusion: The Path to Unity and Shared Values

The policies and actions of the British Raj, including the promotion of the martial race theory, the creation of institutions like the SGPC, and various measures affecting Hindu society, had profound and lasting impacts on the social and political landscape of India. While these policies were often implemented under the guise of administrative efficiency or social reform, they also served the colonial strategy of divide and rule.

The legacy of these colonial policies continues to influence social and political dynamics in modern India, underscoring the complex and enduring effects of the colonial era on the subcontinent. However, recognizing this history also presents an opportunity for reflection and positive change:

  1. Overcoming Divisions: There is a growing recognition of the need to address and overcome the divisions that were exacerbated or created during the colonial period. This involves challenging stereotypes, promoting inter-community dialogue, and fostering a sense of shared national identity.
  2. Revisiting Cultural Values: Many scholars and social leaders advocate for a return to indigenous value systems and philosophies, often referred to as Dharma. These traditional principles emphasize harmony, mutual respect, and social responsibility.
  3. National Unity: The partition of India in 1947 was a traumatic event with far-reaching consequences. There is an ongoing effort to strengthen national unity while respecting the diversity that has always been a hallmark of Indian civilization.
  4. Critical Examination of History: A nuanced understanding of history, including the complex interplay between colonial policies and pre-existing social structures, is crucial for addressing contemporary challenges.
  5. Inclusive Development: Efforts are being made to ensure that development and progress benefit all segments of society, countering the divisive impacts of colonial-era categorizations and policies.
  6. Cultural Renaissance: There is a renewed interest in India's rich cultural heritage, with attempts to integrate traditional knowledge and values into modern education and governance systems.

The path forward involves balancing the preservation of India's diverse cultural traditions with the need for national integration and social harmony. It requires a critical examination of historical narratives, a commitment to inclusive policies, and a shared vision of a united and prosperous nation.

By acknowledging the divisive strategies of the past and consciously working to overcome them, India has the potential to build on its ancient civilizational strengths while embracing the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. This journey towards unity and shared progress, while challenging, is essential for realizing the full potential of India's diverse and dynamic society.

Metals in Hindu Texts

This illustration captures the essence of a Vedic ritual involving various metals, reflecting the rich cultural and spiritual heritage described in the Vedic texts.

The ancient Vedic texts of India provide a fascinating glimpse into the advanced metallurgical knowledge and practices of their time. The Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, and various Upanishads contain numerous references to metals and minerals, highlighting their significance in different aspects of life, from medicine to rituals. Let's delve into the rich history and use of metals as described in these sacred texts.

Metals in the Rigveda

The Rigveda, one of the oldest known scriptures, reveals that copper, gold, iron, and other metals were commonly used during its time. It references a story where the Asvins, the divine twins, substituted the lost leg of Vishala with a thigh made of iron. This anecdote not only underscores the advanced knowledge of metallurgy but also indicates the use of metals in medical treatments.

Yajurveda's List of Metals

The Yajurveda provides a comprehensive list of metals and minerals, demonstrating a deep understanding of their properties and uses. The metals mentioned include:

  • Ayas (Iron)
  • Hiranya (Gold)
  • Syam (Copper)
  • Loha (Iron)
  • Sisa (Lead)
  • Trapu (Tin)

Each of these metals had specific applications, whether in tools, ornaments, or rituals, showcasing the practical knowledge of ancient metallurgists.

Swarna in the Yajurveda

According to a quotation in the Yajurveda, Swarna (gold) was considered highly beneficial for improving longevity, luster, and strength. This reverence for gold underscores its value not only as a precious metal but also for its supposed health benefits.

Medicinal Uses in the Atharvaveda

The Atharvaveda, another significant Vedic text, mentions Hiranyadarshanphala and its internal uses, indicating the medicinal applications of metals. The knowledge of using metals for health and healing highlights the advanced understanding of their properties.

Tikshnaloha in the Chandogya Upanishad

The Chandogya Upanishad refers to Tikshnaloha (sharp iron) as a medicine. This reference indicates that certain metals were specifically chosen for their therapeutic properties, further showcasing the intersection of metallurgy and medicine in ancient India.

Transmutation in the Taittariya Brahmana

The concept of alchemy and the transmutation of metals is also found in Vedic literature. The Taittariya Brahmana describes the process of turning lower metals into gold, hinting at early practices of alchemy and the quest for converting base materials into precious ones.

Swarnaprasana in Manusmriti

The cultural significance of metals is evident in the Manusmriti, which mentions the ritual of Swarnaprasana. During this birth ritual, gold is used, indicating its importance in early life ceremonies and the belief in its auspicious properties.

Descriptions in the Puranas

Metals like Swarna (gold), Rajat (silver), and precious stones like Manikya (ruby) are extensively described in texts like the Garuda Purana, Agni Purana, and Devi Bhagvat. These descriptions provide insights into the value placed on these materials in various aspects of life, from daily use to spiritual practices.

Conclusion

The Vedic texts offer a treasure trove of information on the use of metals in ancient India. Their detailed descriptions and varied applications highlight a sophisticated understanding of metallurgy and its integration into daily life, medicine, and spiritual practices. This rich heritage underscores the advanced knowledge and cultural significance of metals in the Vedic era, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to intrigue and inspire us today.

References

  1. "Rigveda," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/
  2. "Yajurveda," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/yajurveda/
  3. "Atharvaveda," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/av/
  4. "Chandogya Upanishad," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/cu.htm
  5. "Taittariya Brahmana," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe12/
  6. "Manusmriti," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/manu.htm
  7. "Garuda Purana," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gpu/index.htm
  8. "Agni Purana," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/api/index.htm
  9. "Devi Bhagvat," Sacred Texts. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/db/index.htm

Feel free to explore these references for a deeper understanding of the significance of metals in the Vedic texts.

What Guru Chanakya wrote about Varnas

तस्यां चातुर्वर्ण्यनिवेशे सर्वभोगसहत्वादवरवर्णप्राया श्रेयसी बाहुल्याद्ध्रुवत्वाच्च कृष्याः

 कर्षकवती कृष्याश्चान्येषां चारम्भाणां प्रयोजकत्वात् गोरक्षकवती पण्यनिचयर्णानुग्रहादाढ्यवणिग्वती ।

 

 

Translation: 

"In that system of the four varnas (social orders), where all enjoy the fruits of society equally, agriculture is most beneficial and stable due to the predominance of the varnas that came later. Since agriculture initiates other activities, it sustains like the activities of plowing by farmers and taking care of cows by cowherds. By facilitating trade and accumulation of wealth, commerce thrives like a prosperous merchant."

 

 

What do you think about this statement.

 

Why did British lie?

Why did missionaries push caste system onto India?

Be free!