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Indian History Carnival – 31

  1. Are there any references in Tamil to Valmiki Ramayanam? Are there any sculptures to support it? Vijay has an analysis
  2. The Pullamangai sculpture is part of the base stones of the Vimana and the latest date for this Vimana is 953 CE, and the portrayal clearly show the curse of Ahalya to turn to stone had taken firm root by then. Was valmiki unclear in the actual wording of the curse, did he mean that she be turned to stone as well. But one thing is clear, that she was turned to stone was part of tamil folkore as early as in the late sangam period as evidenced by the Paripadal verse.

  3. Fëanor writes about the fall of Hindu Sindh at the hands of an invading Muslim army.
  4. The first engagement of the war was the siege of Daybul. al-Thaqafi set up a large catapult, a swing-beam hand-pulled weapon, to bombard the city. The artillerymen targeted a big Buddhist stupa atop which a red flag fluttered; when it was brought down, the spirit of the defenders wilted, and the Arabs penetrated the city and slaughtered the inhabitants for three days. Dahir’s governor fled ignominiously, but hundreds of priests were murdered, and their temples laid waste.

  5. Maddy has a post with the translation of the Vencaticota Ola – a manuscript describing Malabar history and the Portuguese arrival
  6. Considering that this document has not seen light in recent times, it would surely be of some interest to history enthusiasts, buffs and Malabar specialists. I can only begin by offering a small token of thanks to today’s modern search engines like Google and the good sense of the long lost Englishman who consigned this to paper and archived it for posterity. Regrettably, our own precious original history & manuscript collections are slowly rotting away and disintegrating in Kerala, if not gone already, for lack of care & finance. 

  7. Dr. Koenraad Elst writes about a painting which shows Guru Nanak wearing a Hindu-style cap and worshipping Lord Vishnu and the later events.
  8. In 1970, he presented to the publishing unit of Punjabi University Patiala a manuscript with illustrations for a book, 100 Years Survey of Panjab Painting (1841-1941). It was eventually published by the PUP in 1975, but only in mutilated form. The Senate Board of the University objected to the inclusion of one particular painting, and threatened that if it were published, the grant for the whole publishing unit would be stopped.

  9. Calicut Heritage has a brief history of those tea chests which used to come with the words E&SJCWS inscribed on them.
  10. Starting with the business of wholesale merchanting, these CWSs expanded to cover every item of business from production to retailing. It also dabbled in banking and insurance. At one time, the English CWS owned 174 factories in different parts of England and Wales. Similarly, the Scottish CWS owned 56 factories and employed 13000 workers. In the pre-world war years these two CWSs came together to form the English and Scottish Joint Co-operative Wholesale Society (E&SJCWS). 

  11. Nicole Bovin says good bye to Dr. Raymond Allchin, who died on 4th June 2010.
  12. Raymond helped to educate and inspire numerous generations of South Asian archaeologists, including my own. I knew him only late in his career, after his retirement from the University ofCambridge, but was nonetheless struck by his intelligence and warmth. While I lived in Cambridge, our families met occasionally for tea or dinner, and I remember his lively and often humorous stories with great fondness. Also memorable was the grace that he sang at my wedding to a fellow South Asian archaeologist – in Sanskrit and, naturally, without notes.

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 Aug 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 30

  1. Analyzing a paper by P.A. Underhill et. al on the Indo-European migration Giacomo Benedetti writes
  2. The mid-Holocene period is around 6000 years BP, that means that after 4000 BC we cannot suppose a migration from Europe to Central Asia and South Asia, and this refutes all the theories supposing that the Kurgan people of the Pontic region went to Afghanistan during the Bactria-Margiana civilization (III-II mill. BC) and then to India (II mill. BC).

  3. Is Hinduism a missionary religion? While most people don’t think so, Arvind Sharma writes about an exception
  4. The diffusion of Vaisnavite and Saivite ideas outside India is strong enough to show that Hinduism, too, was a missionary religion; at a very early date a Hinduist movement took root in the Hellenistic world and penetrated as far as Egypt. The decline of Hinduism after the Moslem period must not be allowed to obscure this fact.

    Hinduism long ago advanced beyond the limits assigned to it by Manu, by means of conquest or peaceful absorption, by marriage, and by adoption.

  5. Sandeep has a three part post (1,2,3) on his visit to Ajanta and Ellora. In his final post he laments about the state of the monuments and Hindu apathy.
  6. This one-upmanship game is one of the chief reasons why Hindu monuments continue to languish this horribly. The other reason though is the near-complete deracination of Hindus. As I mentioned in the opening part, Ellora is simply another drop in the sea of similar monuments across the country. Take any state, city, town and village: the two magnificient Hoysala temples in Nagalapura village (in Karnataka) are orphaned but for a moronic ASI signboard. The state of most of the grand temples in Tamil Nadu evokes tears of blood.

  7. Was Chola art of the 13th century influenced by Ancient Greek sculpture? Vijay has the answer.
  8. The diagrams of the movement and flow in the Greek sculpture so closely resemble the Chola bronze. The rear view of bronze shows the exaggerated `S’ so talked off above to move in conjunction with the Contrapposto.

  9. Maddy looks at the period 1732-1805 when Tipu Sultan started his conversion spree and the Zamorin went into exile. During that time two gentlemen tried to hold on to power sometimes aligning with the British and sometimes even with Tipu.
  10. So these two will always remain as enigmas, fighters with faces unknown, and fighters with no personal life, who spent their entire youth and middle age fighting the Mysore Sultans & the British, mainly the former. The populace in the eagerness to name only the British as the oppressors and conquerors forgot the two lone fighters who fought for Malabar against both. Nevertheless, the Pazhassi raja that joined later got into the limelight mainly because his fight was against the declared invader the British and much better chronicled.

The next Carnival will be up on July 15th. You can send the nominations by e-mail to jk @ varnam dot org or as a tweet to @varnam_blog

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Indian History Carnival – 29

  1. As a response to the 2004 paper by  Farmer, Sproat & Witzel which argues that the Harappans were illiterate, Sukumar, Priya Raju and NK Sreedhar  have published a paper which refutes that theory.
  2. With all due respect to FSW, we reached the conclusion that most of their arguments can be refuted. The paper can be downloaded at Response_to_FSW2_Paper_v3.1-Final .  If you are really interested in the IVC research, i strongly recommend that you read the FSW paper as well as our response to it. Please chime in with your comments.

  3. Takshashila was a cosmopolitan town from where great scholarship, new styles of art form, and future emperors would emerge. It was a historic meeting place of the East and the West
  4. .

    After a 30 day rest, Alexander crossed the Indus into “the country of Indians” and on the other side he was met by an army in battle formation. This was highly unexpected. The king of Takshashila, Ambhi or Oomphis, had sent word that he would not oppose Alexander and would fight on his side. When it looked as if Ambhi had reneged on his promise, Alexander ordered his army to get ready.

  5. The Hamilton bridge in Chennai: How did that name come about? Maddy explains
  6. So is Gauri right? Was there a lord Hamilton in Madras? According to Muthiah, none. He opines however, that Madras had no Governor named Hamilton to justify the story that the bridge was named after a Governor of Madras. He adds … The only other Hamilton of any significance I’ve come across during this period is William Hamilton, a Civilian. When Major-General Archibald Campbell became Governor of Madras in 1785, he divided the administration into four Boards: Military, Hospital, Revenue and Trade. One of the four civil servants who constituted the Board of Trade was William Hamilton. That would have made him an eminent enough person to have something named after him. And why not a bridge, if he lived close-by?

  7. The first train in South India ran on July 1, 1856 from Arcot for a distance of 100 KM. It reached Beypore in 1861 and till the Calicut station was opened, Beypore served as the main station for Malabar.
  8. The Asylum for 1888, describes Beypore thus: The terminus of the line on the western coast. There is an hotel on the station premises for the accommodation of travellers. Calicut, the principal town of Malabar is 9 miles distant and the population is 57,085. The Beypore river is crossed in boats, and bullock bandies (‘vandi ‘in Malayalam!)can be obtained on the other side. Traveller to Cannanore and other places would find it most convenient to take passages in the B.I.S.N Company’s Steamers which call weekly at Beypore except during the South West Monsoon, though it is possible to make the journey by land through Calicut and Tellicherry, travelling partly by bullock cart and partly by boat on the backwaters. 

  9. In 1937, Ursula Graham Bower came to India to find a husband. Instead she became a guerilla leader with a price on her head.
  10. 1942, Malaya, Singapore, and Burma had fallen to the Japanese. Guerrilla troop V Force came into being; British officers who led local tribesmen in patrolling the border. Ursula was an early recruit to the force but only ad interim until an officer could be found to replace her. She formed a band of 150 Naga warriors patrolling with her the dense jungle hills between Burma and India. Nothing came to pass in 1942 or 1943, and Ursula was still not replaced.

  11. In 1942, the British discovered a lake in Roopkund filled with skeletons. It seemed as if they all died in the same manner.
  12. However, the short deep cracks in the skulls appeared to be the result not of weapons but of something rounded. The bodies also only had wounds on their heads, and shoulders as if the blows had all come from directly above…

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 June 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 28

The Indian History Carnival, published on the 15th of every month, is a collection of posts related to Indian history and archaeology.

  1. Why are there no Chinese fishing nets in Calicut — the place where Zheng He visited — while Cochin has them? CHF has a theory. Please read the comments for this post as well.
  2. A more plausible explanation has been offered by Deepa Leslie in her article at http://enchantingkerala.org/kerala-articles/chinese-nets.php According to her, it is the Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau who brought this form of fishing into Cochin. She explains further that the names of the various parts of the net currently in use are Portuguese in origin

  3. Fëanor writes about 16th century Manipur when texts in Meitei Mayek script were burned to make way for new Sanskrit texts.
  4. After Charai Rongba, his son Gareeb Niwaz fell under the influence of the Chaitanya school of Vaishnavism. He decided to no longer support the Meitei Mayek script, and – fearing that the old texts would undermine his efforts to establish Hinduism among the Manipuris, and quite probably encouraged by his Brahmin adviser Shantidas Adhikari – ordered the burning of documents written in it. Large numbers of histories and texts of the old faith were publicly set aflame. In view of the supposed prestige of the languages of the incoming new faith, Manipuri began to be written in the Bengali script, which along with Sanskrit, assumed greater importance in ritual matters.

  5. Inorite has the tale of the kingdom of Vadakkamkur in Kerala
  6. The fate of the dispossessed Rajahs of the Travancore region had always interested me and I could, at best, only find scattered sources that mentioned them in passing. I am still highly intrigued as to what happened to the Kayamkulam Rajah who was perhaps the fiercest and most difficult enemy of Travancore so much so that Marthanda Varma on his death bed instructed his successor that the enmity of the Kayamkulam Rajah was “never to be forgotten”.

  7. Between 1840 and 1870, a commodity that was imported to the Presidencies of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay was American Ice. This trade made one man — Frederic Tudor of Boston — a millionaire. Maddy writes about A Frozen Journey and varnam has a post on the The Forgotten American Ice Trade.
  8. The Oxford University Blog has an excerpt from the 1888 book The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook which gives practical advice to memsahibs in India.
  9. In regard to other supplies, the difficulty in procuring them depends entirely on your position. The district officials have none, while a mere globe-trotter may starve. It is merely a matter of coercion, for the peasant does not wish to sell, and will not sell, if he thinks it polite to refuse. This fact should never be forgotten by the mistress, for it is easy to understand how fearful a weapon for oppression that appalling necessity of camp life, the tâhseel chuprassi, or tâhseel office orderly, may become…

  10. Uber Desi has some photographs of coins used in pre-colonial and colonial India

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 May 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 27

The Indian History Carnival, published on the 15th of every month, is a collection of posts related to Indian history and archaeology.

  1. Who is an Aryan? Giacomo Benedetti goes through the history of this word
  2. 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.

  3. 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
  4. 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.

  5. 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.
  6. 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’.

  7. If you are interested in learning about the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a few podcasts are available and Anne has a list
  8. 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

  9. 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.
  10. 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.

  11. 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
  12. 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.

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