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Indian History Carnival – 55: Rebirth, Zamorin, Alasinga Perumal, Midday lunch, Will Durant

  1. After writing about the how the notion of Kamma changed over time, Jayarava writes about the concept of rebirth
  2. Contrarily those who seek to deny that rebirth was part of the original teaching don’t have a leg to stand on. Rebirth is prominent in the older hagiographical accounts like the Ariyapariyesanā Sutta, and in the older parts of the Sutta Nipāta. Rebirth is quite obviously an important part of Buddhism in the earliest records we have. The idea that rebirth is somehow in the background, or was added later, is insupportable based on current evidence. That rebirth no longer seems plausible is an entirely different proposition. And one that creates a dilemma that I have no wish to underplay. We have yet to really work out the implications of this news, though it is the news. Understanding that our doctrines have always been quite changeable and responsive to social change, seems to me to be an important factor in loosening our grip on traditional doctrines with a view to letting them go. Everything changes. Resisting changes causes suffering. The only way forward for Buddhism is, well, forward

  3. Where do you think the Zamorin’s palace was and how do you think it looked like? Maddy draws an image based on notes from various visitors
  4. And with all that background, let us summarize how the palace would have looked.

    The palace grounds were enclosed by low walls with wooden inlays, there were perhaps some moats around the walls (I doubt it), that the walls had four gates and were well guarded. The palace was in the middle and the courtyard housed other buildings such as the women’s quarters, the main meeting halls etc. the roads within were lined with tress, ponds and so on, and some of the buildings were multistoried with tiled roofs. There were bathing ponds within the palace and outside, the Manachira tank provided water supply to the large numbers of people employed. The manachira grounds hosted competitions and bazaars often. Close by was the Tali temple, the mint and the stables.

  5. One person who worked behind the scenes in sending Swami Vivekananda to USA was  M.C.Alasinga Perumal. Karthik Bhat has that story
  6. A thought then struck Alasinga that Swami Vivekananda could be sent to Chicago as the Hindu representative. On this idea being put forth before him, Swami Vivekananda readily agreed, having earlier been requested by various dignitaries such as the Maharaja of Mysore and the Raja of Ramnad to travel to the West and propagate the ideals of Hinduism. Soon, preparations started in full earnest for the travel of Swami Vivekananda to the West. A subscription committee was formed under the leadership of Alasinga to raise funds, which did not always come easily. Alasinga even had to resort to door to door begging at times to raise the money. Soon, a princely sum of Rs.500 was collected. However, this sum was redistributed as Swami Vivekananda had second thoughts about his participation in the Parliament, as he took as a bad omen the fact that the Raja of Ramnad had failed to pay up the money promised by him for the purpose. Alasinga was disheartened that his efforts had gone waste. 

  7. Sriram writes about the person who pioneered the mid day lunch scheme in schools in Madras
  8. Among his first observations was that several of the poor children of the George Town area did not come to school. He also observed that among those who attended, several remained hungry during the lunch break, as the parents could not afford to send any food. Perhaps taking a leaf from the Chennapuri Annadana Samajam, which had begun sending cooked food to schools, he decided that the Hindu Theological would have its own kitchen. He seeded it with his savings and later aggressively canvassed for support from the parents of well-to-do students. The Deenabandhu Sangam was formed shortly thereafter which took on the task of providing the noon meal and also clothes to indigent students.

  9. L K Advani’s blog mentions Will Durant’s A Case for India in which he wrote against the British. Advani quotes Durant’s following lines
  10. “The final element in the real caste system of India is the social treatment of the Hindus by the British. The latter may be genial Englishmen when they arrive, gentlemen famous as lovers of fair play; but they are soon turned, by the example of their leaders and the poison of irresponsible power, into the most arrogant and over-bearing bureaucracy on earth. “Nothing can be more striking,” said a report to Parliament, in 1830, “than the scorn with which the people have been practically treated at the hands of even those who were actuated by the most benevolent motives”. Sunderland reports that the British treat the Hindus as strangers and foreigners in India, in a manner “quite as unsympathetic, harsh and abusive as was ever seen among the Georgia and Louisiana planters in the old days of American slavery”.

Sorry for the delay. The next issue will be out on Independence Day. Thanks to Sandeep V and Feanor for their contributions.

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