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Indian History Carnival – 26

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

  1. In the debate on the origins of Indo-Aryans, is a transition happening? Giacomo Benedetti thinks so
  2. What is particularly interesting in this conference is its opening to positions regarded as heretical by the academic establishment (also in the US); then it gives some hope for an authentic debate and for the Great Transition which various hints suggest as being underway: from the old paradigm to a new one, no more based on the aprioristic theory of the Aryan invasion or migration into India.

  3. Suvrat Kher argues that the river Ghaggar, identified as the Vedic Sarasvati, did not have a glacial source.
  4. The funny thing is, in my opinion the theory of a glacial source of Saraswati is not necessary in this debate. The Ghaggar was a wetter river before 1800 B.C. because of a generally more wetter climate. Strong summer monsoons over the Siwaliks and then spring flow would have made human settlements along its banks sustainable. A life sustaining river would have been holy to the people depending on it, regardless of whether it had a glacial origin or not.

  5. Maddy has a brief history of Calico and its origins
  6. These days you do find coarse crepe material from some remaining handloom units in Malabar but what is the real story of Calico? Did all the Calico exported to Europe get woven in Calicut? Or was it just an exporting center from historic times through its famous ports? Some of you may even believe that British renamed Kozhikode to Calicut due to the textile Calico.

  7. Calicut Heritage writes about Father Giacomo Finici, the Italian Priest, who tried to convert the tribals in 1603
  8. At the end of the trip all that Father Finicio and his team could find was a tribe of innocent Badagas and Todas who worshipped the buffalo. The pious priest stayed among the Todas for two months braving the biting cold, trying to convince the Todas on how they could be saved by becoming Christians. In return, the head priest of the Todas extolled on the virtues of the Bufalo God!

  9. Here at varnam, we had a three part series (1,2,3) on the Indian Spy in Kashgar during the Great Game.
  10. Fëanor writes about various titles instituted by the British for the colonies
  11. The ruling princes were so desperate for these awards that they competed desperately amongst each other; they seemed to have completely missed the fact that being awarded something like Commander of the Order of the Star of India (CSI) or even Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India would merely equate them to a high-court judge or a British resident; even so rich and grand a prince as the Maharaja of Mysore expected to be awarded the Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India in every generation, an award that put him at the same rank as, say, the governor-general of Bombay or Madras.

  12. Murali Ramavarma displays a collection of stamp papers from Travancore and Cochin
  13. Atanu Dey writes about Gandhi, Bose and few issues related to India’s Independence.
  14. I think that Gandhi was an ego-maniac as well. I read his autobiography and that message comes across very clearly to me. He could not stand anyone who challenged his authority. Subhas Chandra Bose did not approve of Gandhi’s carefully calculated pacifism. Gandhi basically decided that Subhas is his enemy. When it comes to practical matters, I suppose Gandhi decided “love thine enemy” is not applicable, and saw to it that Subhas is buried.

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 March 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 25

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

  1. A podcast series which has been at the center of attention this month among bloggers has been the UCLA course:The History of India
  2. Sarvesh writes about some of the legends associated with Bhojadeva
  3. Many legends of rAjan bhojadeva pramAra allude to widespread erudition of the common man of his reign; many tales portray carpenters, potters, ironsmiths, tailors, field-labourers and even thieves having stunning knowledge of saMskR^ita and poetic talent.

  4. When Vasco da Gama returned to Calicut in 29th October 1502 he was an angry man: angry that the locals had fooled him about their religion.
  5. Gama’s cruelty to the people of Calicut has been characterised by the Encyclopedia Brittanica (1953 edition) as ‘savagery too horrible to describe’. He set the standards for dealing with the heathens in the name of the Chruch

  6. Maddy has the fascinating tale of “Soliman the Elefant“, who went from Malabar to Lisbon to Barcelona.
  7. The travel took the time between Summer 1551 to Spring 1552.The total distance covered would have been many thousands of miles, some 7,000 miles from Malabar to Lisbon by sea, 300 miles to Valladolid by walk, 400 miles to Barcelona again walking, 500 miles to Genova by sea and then the arduous walk through the mountains for another 650 miles. In total it covered close to 9,000 miles. The poor thing, considering the terribly difficult terrains and frugal shipping conditions those days, even if it was a gift for a king.

  8. Fëanor writes about the Jutewalls: of Dundee and Calcutta
  9. Calcutta’s first mill opened in 1855; seventy-five years later, the city was producing 70% of the world’s jute products. With a never-ending supply of raw materials right on its doorstep, it made far more economical sense to concentrate the industry in Bengal, rather than half-way around the world in Scotland.

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 Feb 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 24

The Indian History Carnival, published on the 15th of every month, is a collection of posts related to Indian history and archaeology. With this post, the carnival completes two years.

  1. Nikhil visited the old Chola capital and has a two part travelogue (1,2).
  2. Inside a walled fortress, this temple will take your breath away. I stood in awe, astonishment and reverence. A standing testimony of the Chola’s opulence and vision, their architectural excellence can be seen in this structure built during the 11th century by Rajaraja Chola-I. The scale and the enormity of the deities reflect the staunch reverence of the king to lord Shiva.

  3. After enthralling us with the tale of  Abraham Bin Yiju, the 12th century Jewish trader who lived in Kerala, Maddy brings us another story from the Genizah scrolls.
  4. Youngsters are always seeking adventure, and young Allan decided that he must venture farther, to India. Arus and his partner Siba were not so happy about that, but it appears that they eventually agreed to the venture. Allan was initially provided with some goods meant for trade like Coral and Storax. His cousin Joseph was dispatched to tell him that he should not cross the oceans, but then the boy did just that and went on to become a very famous & renowned India trader, continuing to do so till late in life

  5. Recently in an article Vir Sanghvi wrote that Hindu kings destroyed Buddhist monasteries which resulted in Buddhism becoming extinct in India.B Shantanu takes him to task.
  6. Marxists cite only two other instances of Hindus having destroyed Buddhist temples. These too it turns out yield to completely contrary explanations. Again Marxists have been asked repeatedly to explain the construction they have been circulating  to no avail. Equally important, Sita Ram Goel invited them to cite any Hindu text which orders Hindus to break the places of worship of other religions  as the Bible does, as a pile of Islamic manuals does. He has asked them to name a single person who has been honoured by the Hindus because he broke such places  the way Islamic historians and lore have glorified every Muslim ruler and invader who did so. A snooty silence has been the only response.

  7. Did the Peshwa accept Persian under the influence of a Muslim courtesan? Sarvesh does not think so
  8. This is nothing short of blasphemy against the most genius Hindu Warrior and Strategist we have known since cHatrapati himself. mastAnI was a daughter of a Hindu father (some say of cHatrasAla himself) and a Moslem courtesan, married to bAjIrAv as a upapatnI by cHatrasAla, during bAjIrAva’s campaign in the region where he decisive hammered the Hyderabad Nizam in the classic battle of Bhopal, dashing his ambitions towards North for ever.

  9. In 1681, Aurangzeb invaded the Maratha empire. The war lasted 27 years and Aurangzeb lost. Kedar has a seven part series (1,2,3,4,5, 6,7) on this war which is barely mentioned in our books.
  10. For the most part, Aurangzeb was a religious fanatic. He had distanced Sikhs and Rajputs because of his intolerant policies against Hindus. After his succession to the throne, he had made life living hell for Hindus in his kingdom. Taxes like Jizya tax were imposed on Hindus. No Hindu could ride in Palanquin. Hindu temples were destroyed and abundant forcible conversions took place. Auragzeb unsuccessfully tried to impose Sharia, the Islamic law. This disillusioned Rajputs and Sikhs resulting in their giving cold shoulder to Aurangzeb in his Deccan campaign.

  11. It was National Curry Week in Britain recently. But the British fascination with “curry” started much before.
  12. It can be a surprise to see how early curry recipes begin to appear in domestic recipe books: long before Britain had a formal empire in India and long, long before mass immigration from the Subcontinent. One of the most influential early cookery books, Hannah Glasses The art of cookery, made plain and easy (1748), contains recipes for curries and pilaus:

  13. 150,000-strong Indian Army took part in World War I. Fëanor writes about one India soldier — Manta Singh — who fought in France in 1914
  14. Manta Singh had one, or possibly both his legs amputated. And then he died. His body was taken to the South Downs, one of 53 Sikh and Hindu soldiers who, having given their for King and Empire, were cremated in the open air, here, according to their beliefs. A monument to them, called the Chattri, stands on the very spot where the cremations took place. This was a remarkable act of what we would call cultural sensitivity on behalf of the British Army. Open-air cremations were illegal, and remain so to this day. But on this occasion, they were allowed.

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 Jan 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 23

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

  1. According to linguists, languages like Sanskrit and German are derived from proto-Indo-European and hence share similarities. An important concept in linguistics is laryngeals, which no one knows how to pronounce. In a post Jesús Sanchis says
  2. The results are as follows: 66% of the recontructed verbs are based on words found in only one or two of the IE branches; only 34 % are attested in three or more branches. On the other hand, it is supposed that the laws governing phonetic change in IE, e.g. Grimm’s Law, should be a useful tool to determine these reconstructions. However, these laws are usually modified with a series of secondary laws or refinements, so that there is always some kind of intricately designed new parameter to explain any apparent deviation from the norm. Marcantonio has clearly shown that, when you have a PIE verbal root with forms attested in many IE branches, a high number of laws is needed to account for the whole set. In some cases, the number of rules equals the number of laws. This is how the corpus of PIE reconstructions has grown in the last 150 years: by a cumulative amount of laws, many of them designed ‘ad hoc’. What is the use of a law, e.g. Grimm’s Law, if it is immediately followed by new laws, e.g. Verner’s, to make it tenable? Marcantonio sees the adjustable parameters of PIE laws as an indication of circularity.

  3. Prof. Wendy Doniger, of the RISA Lila Fame (1,2), has  a new book The Hindus : An Alternative History, in which she states that Aryans were cattle thieves. Lekhni asks
  4. I am baffled as to why Wendy, who holds a doctorate in Sanskrit, first chooses to take the literal meaning when she must surely understand the symbolism involved, and second, why she does not even mention the alternate interpretation of the text that many historians believe.

  5. Balaji did a sojourn in the Chalukyan territory
  6. The year was AD 750. Chalukyan King Vikramaditya II and his Queen Lokadevi are visiting Pattada Kallu. Master Sculptors Anivaritha Gunda and Sarvasidhi Achari are showing off their spectacular creations to the royal couple. I can imagine the pride, happiness and gaiety that must have been in the air.

  7. The Persian Sufi mystic Mansur al-Hallaj  was tortured and publicly crucified on March 26, 922 CE for proclaiming that he was God. At Jahane Rumi, Akhilesh Mittal writes
  8. Restless in his quest for Truth Hussaiyn bin Mansour Al Hallaj set forth on his journey to India in 284 Al Hijri when he was forty years old. He returned after visiting Mansoura and Multan. As Adi Shankara had already pronounced his ‘Aham Brahmaasmi’ by this time is it possible that its Arabic echo ‘Ana’l Huqq’ arose out of the Indian experience of Al Hussaiyn?

  9. Near the town of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh lies the city of the Varman kings. Feanor writes about a temple complex from that period which has survived to this day.
  10. The intricately wrought temples in the region are reminiscent of the craft of the Gupta period, and this is not surprising. Throughout the north of India flowed ideas and techniques informing the art and architecture of Ellora and Aurangabad and Bilaspur and Sirpur. It is conjectured that itinerant sthapatis roved from town to town, sharing their knowledge and constructing temples in a singular mode.

  11. While the modern Malayali is against globalization, it was not always so, writes Calicut Heritage.
  12. The Zamorin not only encouraged the Pardesi traders to settle down but even provided them secretarial and other assistance, much like the government’s current policy of encouraging Special Economic Zones (SEZ) as enclaves of foreign capital operating under a different set of laws and protected from local threats.

  13. The Malayalam movie Pazhassi Raja, based on the true life story of a prince who fought against the British from 1795 is in theaters. The man who captured Pazhassi Raja was Thomas Baber, who also was blogger Nick Balmer’s great great great great uncle. He has a series of posts about that period: A brief history of the Pazhassi Raja, Thomas Baber’s account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Murali writes about Pazhassi Raja based on the journal of Lachlan Macquarie (1761–1824) who participated in one of the battles.
  14. Short Posts: (1) When did China first invade India? (2) Anti-Apostacy Law by the State of Bhopal, 1920

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 Dec 15th.

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Indian History Carnival – 22

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

  1. In February 2009, a conference was held in Los Angeles titled, “The Sindhu-Sarasvati Valley Civilization: A Reappraisal“. This title was the cause of grief in some circles due to the association of Sarasvati with the Harappan civilization. Few of those lectures have been posted in their blog
  2. Did Islam spread in India through violence? Were Hindu kings more violent than Islamic conquerers? Sandeep takes a look
  3. I hate to disappoint him but this particular morsel of history dates farther back than Ghaznis and Ghoris. As early as CE 664, Abdur Rahman, an Arab invader took Kabul (then part of India). However, it took at least two centuries for Mohammad Bin Qasiman Arab againto successfully occupy parts of Sindh around CE 711-712. Subuktgin and his prodigious son, Mohammad of Ghazni, and then Mohammad Ghori were all Turks. I leave it to the readers intelligence to deduce from this piece of historical evidence that Qasim, Subuktigin, and the two Mohammads were merchants.

  4. Based on Prithviraj Vijay, a 12th century account of the Kingdom of Ajmer, Airavat writes about the political and militrary details.
  5. The pages following this eyewitness account are missing but this seems to have occurred in 1178 when Muhammad Ghori invaded Gujarat, sacking Nadol and Kiradu on the way. The manuscript continues, “When these fiends in the shape of men took possession of Nadol, the warriors of Prithviraja took up their bows and the emperor became angry and resolved to lay Ghori’s glory to dust.”

  6. While Hampi is a well known destination, Pattadakkal which is about 90 miles is masked by Hampi’s shadow, says Arundhati.
  7. After all, was Pattadakkal not considered so auspicious that Chalukya kings made it a point to be crowned on its soil? Did its literature not include some of the earliest work in the nascent Kannada language? And did not its architecture set the standard for future temple building? Even Vijayanagar for all its confidence could not resist incorporating Chalukya architectural styles.

  8. Visiting Mahabalipuram after many decades, Kamini writes about the journey, how this place captured Western imagination and different versions of Arjuna’s penance.
  9. Marco Polo is said to have visited Santhome (now in modern-day Madras) where he was regaled with tales of the lost temples of Mahabalipuram. His descriptions found their way, in part, to the Catalan Atlas of 1375. The Catalan Atlas is one of the most important atlases of the medieval era, and was put together by a Catalan Jew (from Spain) called Abraham Cresques. It shows India in peninsular form, and Mahabalipuram is mentioned there as “Setemelti”, which is assumed to be an erroneous version of “Sette Templi” – or seven temples.

  10. Another place which Marco Polo visited was Tanjavur, the Chola capital. Hari was there recently and writes about how Dravidian politics has caused a surge in faith.
  11. Being pious and following certain customs are ways of projecting one’s elevated caste status. This has resulted in a resurgence of local gods and goddesses — Adi Parasakthi for example. And feature stories in Tamil weeklies are often about film stars and prominent personages visiting their villages to worship their family deities.

  12. Arby explores the similarities between Roman religion and Hinduism
  13. It is more likely that the over the last three millennia, Hindutva evolved across the Indian subcontinent integrating itself with local beliefs, much like the Roman religion as mentioned earlier. However, without a central point of authority, the evolution has been chaotic and inconsistent. Also, the evolution was slow and time consuming. But in the end, Hindutva is a religion similar in character to the Roman one, with respect to religious belief, though not theology.

f you find any posts related to Indian history published in the past one month, please send it to jk AT varnam DOT org. Please send me links which are similar to the ones posted, in terms of content.The next carnival will be up on Nov 15th.

See Also: Previous Carnivals

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