The Indian History Carnival, published on the 15th of every month, is a collection of posts related to Indian history and archaeology.
- Who is an Aryan? Giacomo Benedetti goes through the history of this word
- A Greek play written before the second century CE in Egypt was set in Malabar and
featured an ancient South Indian language – either Tulu or Kannada. Maddy has the story of Charition
- In 1787 Charles Grant, who was the Commercial Resident of Malda, wrote a letter to one Mr. Wilberforce. This letter contained the word “Hindooism” – the first ever known usage of this word. varnam has a post on Charles Grant.
- If you are interested in learning about the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a few podcasts are available and Anne has a list
- Worried about the Chinese military activity in Tibet, the Americans decided to install a surveillance device on the summit of Nanda Devi. Murphys law was involved and Fëanor has that story.
- Recently Kim Plofker published a book called Mathematics in India based on books from the Vedic period to the 18th century. Hari has the book on his desk
In fact, when the Europeans, in the nineteenth century, began to familiarize with the Sanskrit and Avestan traditions, they were in a colonialist and positivistic frame of mind, they were inclined to see all in terms of biological races, and of the superiority of the white race… Previously, ethnic, social and religious differences were more important, and the East was seen as the origin of civilization and wisdom (also the Christian religion came from Asia), but in the nineteenth century they saw everywhere the supremacy of the white Europeans, and they were induced to think that this was due to a racial, intrinsic superiority. Moreover, they had to justify somehow their dominion.
And strange isn’t it – we come across the Indian weakness for booze in the Geniza scrolls – dealing with the Bomma slave and now again in these papyri. If only the king of Malpe (Malpinak) or Alupa knew how to handle his liquor, we may choose to think, but then again, he did not, and so we have this precious piece of history. Other interesting facts are the usage of women as personal bodyguards (these days the Libyan dictator Gaddafi has such a set of Amazons guarding him) and the attachment the Yavana Devadasi forms with the moon goddess and her refusal to steal the ornaments or offerings made by her devotees, are interesting aspects of the story.
After taking a position as the Commercial Resident of Malda, Grant took an interest in the moral nature of Indians. He rejected the argument that Hindus were people in whom mild and gentle qualities dominated; he thought that they were morally depraved. He wanted to bring in social and economic reform and the way for that, not surprisingly, was to make people acquainted with the truth of Revelation and free them from the ‘false religion’.
In a short a time, three podcast series have started paying attention to the revolt in India in 1857. What began with disconcerted Indian foot-soldiers in the British colonial army – hence the rebellion is also called a mutiny – extended into a broad revolt which eventually even got the Mogul Emperor involved. After the fighting and the massacres neither India nor Britain would be the same
The following year, the Indians returned to the mountain. To their horror, they found that a landslide had hidden the nuclear generator. A missive of masterly understatement found its way to the CIA (‘We may be experiencing a small operational problem with Project Blue Mountain’). The Americans returned in force to attempt to salvage the device.
There is the use of Pythagoras’ famous theorem in the construction of pillars, some centuries before the Greek philosopher is said to have postulated it in fifth century BC; Pāṇini’s rules of Sanskrit grammar and recursion, which “without exaggeration…anticipated the basic ideas of modern computer science”; and Pingala, whose study of Sanskrit verses led to the binary notation and the development of Pascal’s famous triangle, useful in the calculation of binomial coefficients (which, coincidentally, is what I am teaching now); and Madhava of Sangamagramma (circa 14th century), the genius of the Kerala School, who contributed along with others, to “the discoveries of the power series expansions of arctangent, sine, and cosine” (a text on this in Malayalam has survived).
If you find any posts related to Indian history published in the past one month, please send it to jk AT varnam DOT org or send a tweet to @varnam_blog. The next carnival will be up on April 15th.