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History of India

The History of India can be traced in fragments to as far back as 700,000 years ago.
The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest in the world, dates back at least 5,000
According to the Indo-Aryan migration hypothesis, the Aryans, a nomadic people,
possibly from Central Asia or northern Iran migrated into the north-west regions of
the Indian subcontinent between 2000 BCE and 1500 BCE.
Their inter-mingling with the earlier Dravidian cultures apparently resulted in
classical Indian culture as we know today.
The births of Mahavira and Buddha around 550 BCE mark the beginning of well-
recorded Indian history.
For the next 1500 years, India produced its classical civilisation, and is estimated to
have had the largest economy of the ancient world between the 1st and 15th centuries
AD, controlling between one third and one fourth of the world's wealth up to the time
of the Mughals, from whence it rapidly declined during European rule.
Incursions by Arab and Central Asian armies in the 8th and 12th centuries were
followed by inroads by traders from Europe, beginning in the late 15th century. By the
middle of the 19th century (1858), the British Crown had assumed political control
over virtually all of India. Indian armed forces in the British army played a vital role
in both the World Wars.
Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism led, by Mohandas Gandhi, Vallabhbhai
Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru brought independence in 1947. The subcontinent was
partitioned into the Secular Democratic Republic of India and the smaller Islamic
Republic of Pakistan. A war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East
Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In the 21st century, India has
made impressive gains in economic investment and output, and stands as the world's
largest democracy with a population exceeding 1 billion, is self sufficient in terms of
food, and is a fast-growing, economically strong country.
Human civilizations in India are some of the earliest recorded, and were equal
contemporaries of civilizations in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. India's history
essentially includes all of the Indian subcontinent, including the more recent nations
of Pakistan and Bangladesh. India is also inalienably linked with the history and
heritage of the other geographically South Asian nations like Sri Lanka, Nepal and
Bhutan, and India's culture, economy and politics has influenced, and has been
influenced in turn, by the history and culture of the nations in South East Asia, East
Asia and Central Asia, such as Bali, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, China, Tibet, Persia
and Afghanistan, over thousands of years.
After Arab incursions into India during the early part of the 2nd Millenium AD,
similar quests for access to India's fabled wealth strongly influenced the history of
medieval Europe, after the landing of Vasco Da Gama. Christopher Columbus
discovered America whilst seaching for a new route to India, and the British Empire
gained much of its resources after the incorporation of India as the 'Jewel in the
Crown', from the 1700s to 1947.
The Paleolithic Era
Isolated remains of Homo Erectus in Hathnora in the Narmada Valley in Central India
indicate that India might have been inhabited since atleast the Middle Pleistocene era
[1]. The precise date of these remains is unclear, and archaeologists put it anywhere
between 200,000 to 500,000 years [2]. The fossils are the earliest human remains
found in South Asia. Recent finds include a quarry along the Malaprabha and
Ghataprabha rivers in the Kaladgi Basin in Karnataka. Modern humans seem to have
settled the subcontinent towards the end of the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago.
The first confirmed permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago in Bhimbetka in
modern Madhya Pradesh.
The Neolithic Era
The early Neolithic culture in South Asia is represented by the Mehrgarh culture
which began in 7000 BC, now in Baluchistan, Pakistan. The Mehrgarh community
were mostly pastoral, lived in mud houses, wove baskets and tended to goats and their
farms. By 5500 BC, pottery began to appear and later chalcolithic implements began
to appear. By 2000 BC, the settlement was abandoned.
Late Neolithic cultures sprang up in the Indus Valley region between 6000 BC and
2000 BC (see below), and in southern India between 2800 BC and 1200 BC.
The Bronze Age
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Seals
The transition of settlements from agricultural to complex urban communities, a
salient feature of all late Neolithic and early Bronze Age cultures, occurred in the
Indian subcontinent sometime between the early settlements at Mehrgarh and c. 3300
BC. This period marked the beginning of the earliest urban society in India, known as
the Indus Valley Civilization (or, the Harappan Civilization), which thrived between
3300 BC and 1900 BC. It was centred along the Indus River and its tributaries,
including the Ghaggar-Hakra River, and extended into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab,
Gujarat, and northern Afghanistan.
The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, road-side drainage system and
multi-storeyed houses. The earliest historic references to India may be those to the
Meluhha in Sumerian records, possibly referring to the Indus Valley civilization.
When compared to the contemporary civilizations of Egypt and Sumeria, the Indus
Civilization possessed unique urban planning techniques, covered the largest
geographical area, and may have been a single state, as suggested by the amazing
uniformity of its measurement systems.
The Mohenjo-daro ruins were once the centre of this ancient society. Indus
Civilization settlements spread as far south as present-day Bombay, as far east as
Delhi, as far west as the Iranian border, and as far north as the Himalayas. Among the
settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as
Dholavira, Ganweriwala, Lothal, Kalibanga and Rakhigarhi. At its peak, some
archaeologists opine that the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well
over five million.
To date, over 2,500 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general
region to the east of the Indus River in Pakistan along what is claimed by many to be
the Saraswati River mentioned in the Vedas. It is thought by some that geological
disturbances and climate change, leading to a gradual deforesatation may ultimately
have contributed to the civilization's downfall.
Archaeological resources suggest that the diverse geography of ancient India was
increasing in the amount and specialization of faunal remains around 2400 to 1500
BC. This specialization suggests that the Indus Valley Civilizations were dependent
upon the alluvial soils of the rivers, which produced high yield crops. By 2600 BC,
the presence of a state level society is evident, complete with hierarchical rule and
large scale public works. These include accomplishments such as irrigation,
warehouses for grain, public streets, and brick-lined drainage systems for sanitation.
Around the mid 2nd millennium BC, the region of the Indus River basin, in which
approximately two-thirds of currently known sites were located dried up, and the sites
were abandoned.

Vedic Civilization
The Vedic civilization is the Indo-Aryan culture associated with the Vedas, which are
some of the oldest extant Indo-European texts, orally composed in Vedic Sanskrit. But
this is a misconception for the simple reason that vedas were the earliest text that
originated in India. The exact connection of the genesis of this civilization with the
Indus Valley civilization on one hand, and a possible Indo-Aryan migration on the
other hand, is the subject of disputes. Early Vedic society was largely pastoral. After
the Rigveda, the society became increasingly agricultural, and was organized around
four Varnas, or classes. Several small kingdoms and tribes merged to form a few large
ones, such as the Kuru and Panchala, some of which were often at war with each
In addition to the principle texts of Hinduism, (the Vedas), the great Indian epics, the
Ramayana and Mahabharata, the latter of which constitutes the longest poem in the
world after the Kyrgyz Manas, are said to have their ultimate origins during this
period, from an oral tradition of unwritten Bardic recitation. The Bhagavad Gita,
another primary text of Hinduism, is contained within the Mahabharata.
Early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds, in part, to Ochre Coloured Pottery,
archaeologically. The kingdom of the Kurus marks flowering of the Vedic civilization,
corresponding to the Black and Red Ware and the beginning of the Iron Age in
Northwestern India begins, around 1000 BC, likely also contemporary with the
composition of the Atharvaveda. Painted Grey Ware spread over much of Northern
India marks the Middle Vedic period, followed by a wave of urbanization that
occurred across the Indian sub-continent, from Afghanistan to Bengal, in the 6th
century BC. A number of kingdoms and oligarchies, often called republics, emerged
across the Indo-Gangetic plain and the northern part of South India during this period.
16 of them, called Mahajanapadas (great lands), are referred to in the ancient literature
of the period.

By 500 BC, sixteen monarchies and 'republics' known as the Mahajanapadas stretched
across the Indo-Gangetic plains from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. The
largest of these nations were Magadha, Kosala, Kuru and Gandhara. The right of a
king to his throne, no matter how it was gained, was usually legitimized through
religious right and genealogies concocted by priests who ascribed divine origins to the
Hindu rituals at that time were complicated and conducted by the priestly class. It is
thought that the Upanishads, late Vedic texts dealing mainly with incipient philosophy,
were first composed early in this period. The educated speech at that time was
Sanskrit, while the dialects of the general population of northern India were referred
to as Prakrits. In 537 BC, Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment and founded
Buddhism, which was initially intended as a supplement to the existing Vedic dharma.
Around the same time period, in mid-6th century BC, Mahavira founded Jainism.
Both religions had a simple doctrine, and were preached in Prakrit, which helped it
gain acceptance amongst the masses. While the geographic impact of Jainism was
limited, Buddhist nuns and monks eventually spread the teachings of Buddha to
Central Asia, East Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

Achaemenid Empire
Much of the northwestern Indian Subcontinent (present day Eastern Afghanistan and
most of Pakistan) was ruled by the Persian Achaemenid Empire from c. 520 BC
during the reign of Darius the Great, up intil its conquest by Alexander the Great.
Lands in present-day Punjab, the Indus river from the borders of Gandhara down to
the Arabian Sea, and some other parts of the Indus plain, became a satrapy of
Alexander's empire. According to Herodotus of Halicarnassus, it was the most
populous and richest of all the twenty satrapies of the empire. Achaemenid rule lasted
about 186 years. The Achaemenids used the Aramaic script for the Persian language.
After the end of Achaemenid rule, the use of Aramaic in the Indus plain diminished,
although we know from inscriptions from the time of Emperor Asoka that it was still
in use two centuries later. Other scripts, such as Kharosthi (a script derived from
Aramaic) and Greek became more common after the arrival of Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great
The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism began when Alexander the
Great conquered Asia Minor and the Achaemenid Empire, reaching the north west
frontiers of the Indian subcontinent in 334 BC. There, he defeated King Puru in the
Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern-day Jhelum, Pakistan) and conquered much of
the Punjab. However, Alexander's troops refused to go beyond the Beas river, and he
was forced to march his army southwest.
Alexander created garrisons for his troops in his new territories, and founded several
cities in the areas of the Oxus, Arachosia, and Bactria, and Macedonian/Greek
settlements in Gandhara and the Punjab. The regions included the Khyber Pass - a
geographical passageway south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains - and
the Bolan Pass, on a trade route connecting Drangiana, Arachosia and other Persian
and Central Asian kingdoms to the lower Indus plain. It is through these regions that
most of the interaction between South Asia and Central Asia took place, generating
intense cultural exchange and trade.

Greco-Buddhist Period
Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Grco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism
between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism, which developed over a
period of close to 800 years in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and
Pakistan, between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD. Greco-Buddhism
especially influenced the artistic development of Mahayana Buddhism, before it was
adopted by Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately
spreading to China, Korea and Japan.

The Magadha Empire

Amongst the 16 Mahajanapadas, the kingdom of Magadha rose to prominence under a
number of dynasties that peaked in power under the reign of Asoka Maurya, one of
India's most legendary and famous emperors. The kingdom of Magadha had emerged
as a major power following the subjugation of two neighbouring kingdoms, and
possessed an unparalleled military.
Shishunaga Dynasty
According to tradition, the Shishunaga dynasty founded the Magadha Empire in 684
BC, whose capital was Rajagriha, later Pataliputra, near the present day Patna. This
dynasty lasted till 424 BC, when it was overthrown by the Nanda dynasty. This period
saw the development of two of India's major religions. Gautama Buddha in the 6th or
5th century BC was the founder of Buddhism, which later spread to East Asia and
South-East Asia, while Mahavira founded Jainism.

Nanda Dynasty
Nanda dynasty was established by an illegitimate son of the king Mahanandin of the
previous Shishunaga dynasty. Mahapadma Nanda died at the age of 88 and, therefore,
he ruled the bulk of the period of this dynasty, which lasted 100 years. The Nandas
were followed by the Maurya dynasty.
The first Nanda, the Mahapadma Nanda has been described as the destroyer of all the
Kshatriyas. He defeated Ikshvakus, Panchalas, Kasis, Harhayas, Kalingas, Asmakas,
Kurus, Maithilas, Surasenas, Vitihotras, etc.,. He expanded his territory till south of
Deccan. The last of the Nandas was Dhana Nanda. Plutarch tells that Chandragupta
Maurya had stated that Nanda was hated and despised by his subject on account of the
wickedness of his disposition. The bloody fight between the Nandas and the Mauryas
overthrew the dynasty of Nandas.
The Nandas who usurped the throne of the Shishunaga dynasty were of low origin.
Some sources state that the founder, Mahapadma , was the son of a Shudra mother,
others that he was born of a union of a barber with a courtesan. Nandas were the first
of a number of dynasties of northern India who were of non-kshatriya origin.The
Nandas are sometimes described as the first empire builders of India. They inherited
the large kingdom of Magadha and wished to extend it to yet more distant frontiers.
To this purpose they built up a vast army consisting of 20,000 cavalry, 200,000
infantry, 2,000 chariots and 3,000 elephants. But the Nandas never had the
opportunity to use this army against the Greeks, who invaded India at the time Dhana
Nanda, since Alexander's campaign terminated in the Punjab.
The Nandas made the methodical collection of taxes by regularly appointed officials a
part of their administrative system. The treasury was continually replenished, the
wealth of the Nandas being well-known. The Nandas also built canals and carried out
irrigation projects. The possibility of an imperial structure based on an essentially
agrarian economy began to germinate in the Indian mind. But further development of
the Nandas was cut short by Chandragupta Maurya and his mentor Chanakya.
Chanakya dethroned Dhana Nanda in a battle of wits and replaced him with
Chandragupta Maurya, a young adventurer. Dhana Nanda was murdered which finally
signaled the advent of the Mauryan era in 321 B.C.

Maurya Dynasty
In 321 BC, exiled general Chandragupta Maurya founded the Maurya dynasty after
overthrowing the reigning king Dhana Nanda to establish the Mauryan Empire.
Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who expanded the kingdom over
most of present day India, barring the extreme south and east. During this time, most
of the subcontinent was united under a single government for the first time.
The kingdom was inherited by his son Ashoka The Great who initially sought to
expand his kingdom. In the aftermath of the carnage caused in the invasion of
Kalinga, he renounced bloodshed and pursued a policy of non-violence or ahimsa
after converting to Buddhism. The Edicts of Ashoka are the oldest preserved historical
documents of India, and from Ashoka's time, approximate dating of dynasties
becomes possible. The Mauryan dynasty under Ashoka was responsible for the
proliferation of Buddhist ideals across the whole of East Asia and South-East Asia,
fundamentally altering the history and development of Asia as a whole. Ashoka the
Great has been described as one of the greatest rulers the world has seen.
Shunga Dynasty
The Sunga dynasty ruled the Sunga empire of central and eastern India from 185 BCE
to around 73 BCE. The last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty was Brhadrata. He was
killed by his own commander-in-chief Pusyamitra Sunga in 185 BCE. With the fall of
Mauryas, India lost its political unity. Pushyamitra Sunga became the ruler of the
Magadha and neighbouring territories. The north-western regions comprising
Rajputana, Malwa and Punjab passed into the hands of the foreign rulers. The
kingdom of Pushyamitra was extended upto Narmada in the south, and controlled
Jalandhar and Sialkot in the Punjab in the north-western regions. Pushyamitra died
after ruling for 36 years (187-151 BCE). He was succeeded by son Agnimitra. This
prince is the hero of a famous drama by one of India's greatest playwright, Kalidasa.
Agnimitra used to hold his court in the city of Vidisa, modern Besnagar in Eastern
Malwa. The power of the Sungas gradually weakened. It is said that there were ten
Sunga kings.

Early Middle Kingdoms - The Golden Age

The middle period, especially that associated with the Gupta dynasty, is known as
India's Golden Age, a time of unparalleled cultural development. The Kushanas
invaded northwestern India about the middle of the 1st century CE, from Central Asia,
and founded an empire that eventually stretched from Peshawar to the middle Ganges
and, perhaps, as far as the Bay of Bengal. It also included ancient Bactria (in the north
of modern Afghanistan) and southern Tajikistan. Their power also extended into
Turkestan and helped spread Buddhism to China. In South India, several kingdoms
The earliest of these is the Pandya kingdom in southern Tamil Nadu, with its capital at
Madurai. The Indo-Greek Kingdoms following the conquests of Alexander the Great
ruled much of Gandhara from 180 BC to 10 CE. Around the same time in southern
India, the Dravidian Pandyan kingdom began to take shape. An important source for
the geography and history of that period is the Greek historian Arrian.

Satavahana Empire
The Satavahanas, also known as the Andhras, were a dynasty which ruled in Southern
and Central India starting from around 230 BC. Although there is some controversy
about when the dynasty came to an end, the most liberal estimates are of about 450
years. Long before that their kingdom had disintegrated into successor states. Conflict
with the Sakas and the rising ambitions of their feudatories, led to their decline.
Several dynasties divided the lands of the kingdom among themselves.

Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire (c. 1st 3rd centuries) was a state that at its height, about 105 250,
stretched from Tajikistan to the Caspian Sea to Afghanistan and down into the Ganges
river valley. The empire was created by Tocharians from modern East Turkestan,
China, but was culturally dominated by north India. They had diplomatic contacts
with Rome, Sassanian Persia and China, and for several centuries were at the centre of
exchange between the East and the West, spreading Buddhism through trade with

Gupta Dynasty

In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gupta Dynasty unified northern India. During this
period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture, science and political
administration reached new heights. After the collapse of the Gupta empire in the 6th
century, India was again ruled by numerous regional kingdoms. The Gupta 'golden
age' marked a period of significant cultural development.
Their origins are largly unknown, however the Chinese traveller I-tsing provides the
first evidence of the Gupta kingdom in Magadha. The Vedic Puranas are also thought
to have been written around this period. The empire came to an end with the attack of
the Huns from central Asia. A minor line of the Gupta clan continued to rule Magadha
after the disintegration of the empire. These Guptas were ultimately ousted by the
Vardhana king Harsha, who established an empire in the first half of the seventh
century that, for a brief time, rivalled that of the Guptas in extent.


Figure in Sassanian dress North-western India,

probably Punjab Hills Late 6th/early 7th century Sandstone
The Sassanian empire of Persia, who were close contemporaries of the Guptas, began
to expand into the northwestern part of ancient India (now Pakistan), where they
established their rule. The mingling of Indian and Persian cultures in this region gave
birth to the Indo-Sassanian culture, which fluorished in the western part of the Punjab
and the areas now known in Pakistan as the North West Frontier Province and
Baluchistan. The last Hindu kingdom in this region, the Shahis, also may have arisen
from this culture.

Late Middle Kingdoms - The Classical Age

Later, the Chola kingdom emerged in northern Tamil Nadu, and the Chera kingdom in
Kerala. The ports of southern India were involved in the Indian Ocean trade, chiefly
involving spices, with the Roman Empire to the west and Southeast Asia to the east.
In the north, the first of the Rajputs, a series of kingdoms which managed to survive in
some form for almost a millennium until Indian independence from the British.
Harsha's Empire
King Harsha of Kannauj succeeded in reuniting northern India during his reign in the
7th century. His kingdom collapsed after his death. From the 7th to the 9th century,
three dynasties contested for control of northern India: the Pratiharas of Malwa and
later Kannauj; the Palas of Bengal, and the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan.

The Chalukyas and Pallavas

The Chalukya Empire ruled parts of southern and central India from 550 to 750 (from
Badami, Karnataka)and again from 970 to 1190 (from Kalyana, Karnataka). The
Pallavas of Kanchi were their contemporaries to the south. Over a period of roughly a
century, the two kingdoms fought a series of low-intensity wars, each conquering the
other's capitals at various points. The kings of Sri Lanka and the Keralan Cheras
rendered support to the Pallavas, while the Pandyas rendered support to the
Chalukyas. Whilst the northern concept of a pan-Indian empire had collapsed at the
end of Harsha's empire, the ideal instead shifted to the south. The two dynasties were
responsible for some of the greatest examples of both rock-cut and free-standing

Chola Empire
The Cholas emerged as the most powerful empire in the south in the 9th century and
retained their pre-eminent position until the 13th century when the Vijayanagar empire
was founded. The Cholas, like the Chalukyas and Pallavas before them, and the
Vijaynagar after them, were responsible for some of India's finest monuments, and
being located on the south tip of the peninsula, ruled Sri Lanka, and culturally
dominated most of South East Asia, where the Hindu Srivijaya and Khmer empires of
Indonesia and Cambodia used south Indian temple design. The Chola Navy was the
most powerful for its time having conquered the neighbouring island of Lanka and
other areas across the Bay of Bengal.
History of South India

Pratiharas -- Palas -- Rashtrakutas

The Pratiharas, also called the Gurjara-Pratiharas were an Indian dynasty who ruled
kingdoms in Rajasthan and northern India from the sixth to the eleventh centuries.
The Pala Empire controlled Bihar and Bengal, from the 8th to the 12th century. The
Rashtrakutas of Malkhed (Karnataka) were a dynasty which ruled the Deccan during
the 8th-10th centuries after the end of Chalukya rule. Each three kingdoms vied for
north Indian domination around the same time that the Cholas were flourishing in the
The Rajputs
The first recorded Rajput kingdoms emerged in Rajasthan in the 6th century, and
Rajput dynasties later ruled much of northern India, including Mewar (Sisodias),
Gujarat (Solankis), Malwa (Paramaras), Bundelkhand (Chandelas), and Haryana
(Tomaras). The Pallava dynasty of Kanchipuram ruled southeastern India from the 4th
century to the 9th century. The Pratihara ruled northern India before the Rajputs.
Various other dynasties such as the Yadav, Chera, Hoysala of Halebidu, Sena and Pala
controlled various empires of their own.

Vijayanagar Empire
The brothers Harihara and Bukka founded the Karnataka Empire, also known as the
Vijayanagara Empire, in 1336. The Vijayanagara empire prospered during the reign of
Krishnadevaraya. It suffered a major defeat in 1565 but continued for another century
or so in an attenuated form. Southern Indian kingdoms of the time expanded their
influence as far as Indonesia, controlling vast overseas empires in south east Asia. The
Hindu dynasty came into conflict with Islamic rule (the Bahmani Kingdom) and the
clashing of the two systems, the prevailing indigenous Hindu/Muslim religion, which
caused a mingling of the indigenous and foreign culture that left lasting cultural
influences on each other. The later Mughal rule also saw such influences of Gujarati
and Rajasthani culture contributing towards this.

The Islamic Sultanates

After the Arab-Turkic invasion of India's ancient northern neighbour Persia, various
short lived Islamic empires invaded and spread across the subcontinent over a period
of 1000 years. Prior to Turkish invasions, Muslim trading communities flourished
throughout coastal South India, particularly in Kerala.

Delhi Sultanate
In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and
established the Delhi Sultanate at the beginning of the 13th century. The Slave
dynasty managed to conquer large areas of northern India approximate to the ancient
extent of the Guptas, while the Khilji Empire was also able to conquer most of central
India, but they were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering most of the subcontinent,
until the onset of the Mughals.

The Mughal Era

Mughal Empire
Taj Mahal
Other Mughal Architecture
In 1526, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur, swept across the Khyber Pass and
established the Mughal Empire, which lasted for over 200 years. The Mughal Dynasty
ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600; it went into a slow decline after 1707
and was finally defeated during the Indian rebellion of 1857. This period marked vast
social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the
Mughal emperors, some of whom showed religious tolerance, while others liberally
patronized Hindu culture, and some of whom destroyed historical temples and
imposed taxes on non-Muslims. During the decline of the Mughal Empire, which at
its peak occupied an area slightly larger than the ancient Mauryan Empire, several
smaller empires rose to fill the power vacuum or themselves were contributing factors
to the decline.

The Maratha Confederacy

The Maratha Kingdom was founded by Shivaji in 1674 when he annexed a portion of
the Bijapur Sultanate. Shivaji had declared war upon the oppressive Mughal dynasty
in order for the Hindu majority of the subcontinent to once again be free of the various
Islamic dynasties that had appeared over the last 600 years. By the 18th century, it had
transformed itself into the Maratha Confederacy under the rule of the Peshwa. By
1760, the Empire had stretched across practically the entire subcontinent. This
expansion was brought to an end by the Maratha's defeat by an Afghan army at the
Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the
British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War.

The Kingdom of Mysore

The Kingdom of Mysore was a kingdom of southern India, which was founded around
1400 CE by the Wodeyar dynasty. The rule of the Wodeyars was interrupted by Hyder
Ali and his son Tippu Sultan. Under their rule Mysore fought a series of wars
sometimes against the combined forces of the British and Marathas, but mostly
against the British with some aid or promise of aid from the French. After the death of
Tippu Sultan in the Fourth War of Mysore in 1799, the Wodeyar dynasty regained
limited power as a Princely State under the British. The Kingdom of Mysore became
part of the modern day, Indian state of Karnataka.

The Punjab - Sikh Empire

The Punjabi kingdom, ruled by members of the Sikh religious movement was a
political entity that ruled the region of modern day Punjab. Founded by the ten Gurus
of the Sikh faith, it expanded its borders during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at
the height of the Sikh Empire to include surrounding areas like Kashmir and
Peshawar, and was among the last areas of the subcontinent that was conquered by the
British. The Anglo-Sikh wars marked the downfall of the Sikh Empire.

Company Rule
Colonial India and European Colonies in India
Vasco da Gama's discovery of a new sea route to India in 1498 paved the way for
European colonization of India. The Portuguese set up bases in Goa, Daman, Diu and
Bombay. They remained the longest colonial rulers for 500 years till 1962. The British
established their first outpost in South Asia in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast
of India, arriving in the wake of Portuguese and Dutch visitors. Later in the century,
the British East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras,
Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers.
French India
The French set up base along with the British in the 17th century. They occupied large
parts of southern India. However subsequent wars with the British, led to the loss of
almost all their territory. They however retained the colonies of Pondicherry -
(Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mah.) and Chandernagore. Pondicherry was
ceded to India in 1950.
The Dutch did not have a major presence in India. The towns of Travancore were
ruled by the Dutch. However they were more interested in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)
and their prize of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They were responsible for
training the military of the princely state of Kerala. In 1845, the Danish colony of
Tranquebar was sold to the United Kingdom.

The British Raj

The British established a foothold in Bengal when the British soldiers, funded by the
East India Company, and led by Robert Clive, defeated Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah in the
Battle of Plassey in 1757 and plundered the Bengali treasure. Bengal became a
protectorate, and then directly went under the rule of East India Company. The British
East India Company monopolized the trade of Bengal. The Bengali craftsmen were
inevitably fixed at foreign posts of the Company, where they were obliged to render
their labour at minimal compensation while their collective tax burden increased
harshly. The result was the famine of 1769 to 1773 in which 10 million Bengalis died,
followed almost a century later by the catastrophic Great Calamity period, resulting in
part from an extension of similar policies, in which up to 40 million Indians perished
from famine amidst the collapse of India's native industries and skilled workforce.
By the 1850s Britain controlled most of the Indian sub-continent, which included
present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. From 1830, the defeat of the Thugs played a
part in securing establishing greater control of diverse Indian provinces for the British.
The Indian rebellion of 1857 in the north, led by mutinous Indian soldiers, was
crushed by the British. It is also called the first war of Indian independence. In the
aftermath all political power was transferred from the East India Company to the
Crown, which began administering most of India directly. It controlled the rest
through local rulers.

The Independence Movement

In the late 19th century "British India" took its first steps toward self-government with
the appointment of Indian councillors to advise the British viceroy, and the
establishment of provincial Councils with Indian members; the British subsequently
widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leaders such
as Mohandas K. Gandhi (also known as Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi) and Subhas
Chandra Bose transformed the Indian National Congress into a mass movement to
campaign against British colonial rule. The movement eventually succeeded in
bringing independence to the people of the Indian subcontinent, by means of
parliamentary action and non-violent resistance and non-cooperation. Following the
division of India into the secular Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of
Pakistan in August 1947, rioting broke out between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in
several parts of India, including Punjab, Bengal and Delhi, leaving some 200,000
dead. Also, this period saw the largest mass migration ever recorded in modern
history, with a total of 12 million Hindus and Muslims moved between the newly
created dominions of India and Pakistan.

Republic of India
Since independence, India has fought a number of wars against its neighbours, most
notably four wars against Pakistan, and one against China. It also detonated a nuclear
device in 1974 and became a Declared nuclear state in 1998 following a series of
tests. From a socialist-inspired economy to the early 1990s , India continued to make
slow progress away from the state the British had left the country in, however, it was
only after extensive economic reforms in the early 90s (initiated by Present Prime
minister of India Manmohan Singh) that India's economy began to grow at a high rate.
Today, in the 21st century, India is considered an emerging economic superpower, and
is currently the tenth largest economy in terms of gross GDP, and 4th largest when
accounting for purchasing power parity.
Since independence, India has fought three major wars and one minor war with
Pakistan (see Indo-Pakistani Wars). The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 started over the
control of Kashmir. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was also fought over Kashmir. In
1971, India hosted refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan and helped the Bangladeshi
freedom fighters (Mukti Bahini) with resources and training during the Bangladesh
Liberation War. During the final stages of that war, India became directly involved in
the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which ultimately resulted in Pakistan's defeat and the
independence of Bangladesh. India also fought a border war with China in 1962 (see
Sino-Indian War).
As well as being a declared nuclear state, India has an advanced space program
designed to benefit the country economically, rather than merely create prestige. In the
1990s, following economic reform from the socialist-inspired economy of post-
independence India, the country began to experience rapid economic growth, as
markets opened for international competition and investment. In the 21st century,
India is an emerging economic power with vast human and natural resources, and a
huge knowledge base. Economists predict that by 2050, India will be among the top
three economies of the world.
History of India

Ancient Indian Architecture

Indian architecture is that vast tapestry of production of the Indian Subcontinent that
encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, transformed by the
forces of history considered unique to the sub-continent, sometimes destroying, but
most of the time absorbing. The result is an evolving range of architectural production
that none the less retains a certain amount of continuity across history.
Indus-Sarasvati Civilization and the Vedic Village
The earliest production in the Indus Valley Civilization was characterised by well
planned cities and houses where religion did not seem to play an active role. The
presence of drainage systems and public baths showed advanced standards of hygiene
and sanitation and ingenious planning. The Vedic village had certain distinct
characteristics that influenced subsequent architectural production. The Vedic grama
could have a pur, or a fort-like structure within it. The Vedic hymns speak of "purs"
made of stone and metal.
The Vedas have many words for houses. It appears that the main distinction was
between chhardis ( house with a thatched roof), harmyam (a house of brick and stone
that had a courtyard in the middle), and gotra (a multi-dwelling complex with sheds
for animals). The Rig-Veda speaks once of a palace with 1000 doors, and twice of a
palace with 1000 columns.
Buddhist and Jaina Architecture
Buddhism gained prominence during the reign of the emperor Ashoka. It is primarily
represented by three important building types- the Chaitya Hall (place of worship), the
Vihara (monastery) and the Stupa (hemispherical mound for worship/ memory)-
exemplified by the magnificent caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental
Sanchi Stupa. The Greek influence led the Indian architecture of the time, especially
the rock-cut art, to fall under one of the two categries: the Mathura school of art which
was strictly Indian in spirit and did not adopt from the Greek styles, and the
Gandharva school of art which incorporated influences of the Greek art. The division
of Buddhism into Hinayana and Mahayana phases also influenced the nature of rock-
cut art, the former being represented by artefacts used by the Buddha, and the latter by
images of the Buddha.
The Jaina temples are characterised by a richness of detail that can be seen in
the Dilwara Temples in Mt. Abu
The reference to temples in literature go back early with Panini (520 BC - 460 BC)
and Patanjali mentioning temples which were called prasadas. Early beginnings of
Hindu temple architecture have been traced to the remains at Aihole and Pattadakal in
present day Karnataka, and have Vedic altars and late Vedic temples as described by
Panini as models. Later, as more differentiation took place, the Dravidian/ Southern
style and or the Indo-Aryan/ Northern/ Nagara style of temple architecture emerged as
dominant modes, epitomised in productions such as the magnificent Brihadeeswara
Temple, Thanjavur, and the Sun Temple, Konark. The older terminologies of
Dravidian and Indo-Aryan are not used in current practice because of their racial and
dubious origins. Buddhist elements and motifs have influenced temple architecture to
a considerable extent.
Early temples were rock-cut, later structural temples evolved. The Kailasanatha
temple at Ellora is a good example of the former, excavated from top to bottom out of
a massive rock face.
The pyramid formed an essential architectonic element in any temple composition-
stepped in the Dravidian style, stepped and slightly curved in the Northern style. The
structural system was essentially trabeated and with stone being the basic raw material
for the Indian craftsman, construction could be carried out with minimal or no mortar.
Decoration was fundamental to Indian architecture and is seen in the myriad details of
figured sculpture as well as in the architectural elements. The concept of fractals has
been used to examine the form of the Hindu temple, both in terms of its planning and
external appearance.
The garba-griha or the womb chamber forms the central focus housing the deity of the
temple and is provided with a circumambulation passage around. However, there are
also many subsidiary shrines within temple complexes, more particularly in the South
Indian (the Dravidian style) temple. As the Hindu temple is not meant for
congregational worship, the garba-griha is small in scale when compared to the whole
temple complex. However, it is articulated externally by the vimana or the sikhara.
Pillared halls or mandapas are found preceding the garba-griha.
The spatial experience of a South Indian temple complex is considered particularly
rich and meaningful. In many of them, such as the Ranganathaswamy temple at
Srirangam, the concentric enclosures or prakaras along with the series of gopurams or
entrance gateways reducing in scale as they move towards the garbha-griha set up a
rhythm of solids and voids as well as providing a ritual and visual axis.The principles
of temple architecture were codified in treatises and canons such as Manasara,
Mayamatam, and Vaastu Shastra. These offered an ordering framework yet allowed a
certain latitude for contextual articulation.
Today most of the ancient Hindu architecture thrives in temples of south India and
south-east Asia as the subsequent forces of Islam transformed the cultural landscape
of India more dominantly in the north.

Influence of Islam and the Mughal Architecture

With the advent of Islam, the erstwhile Indian architecture was slightly adapted to
allow the traditions of the new religion, but it remained strongly Indian at its heart and
character. Arches and domes began to be used and the mosque or masjid too began to
form part of the landscape, adding to a new experience in form and space. The sahn or
the open courtyard for congregational worship with the enclosing cloisters or liwans
and the sanctuary at the Western end offered a different architectural vocabulary. The
fundamental difference lay in the fact that Islam prohibited idol worship and therefore
a concentrated point of focus such as the garba-griha was unnecessary. However, the
mihrab on the Western wall of the sanctuary articulating the Qibla or the direction
towards Mecca offered a notional focus. As idolatory was prohibited, the main means
of adornment was surface decoration through the use of geometry, arabesque and
calligraphy. Later, mosques began to be built with original material. The Jami masjid
at Delhi is a representative example of an Indian mosque. Islamic architecture was
also represented by distinct regional styles that drew a lot of inspiration from the local
he most famous Islamic buildings in India emerged during the Mughal period. Mughal
architecture built on the traditional Hindu architecture with influences from the
Persian world. Over time, Hindu and Islamic architecture produced a synthesis that is
exemplified in the glorious production of Akbar- the city of Fatehpur Sikri, considered
by many to be superior to the Taj Mahal (often seen as representing India) in terms of
what it has to teach to civilisation- syncretism, tolerance and the best of different
worlds, and the Taj itself, renowned for its beauty in white marble, its intricate
engravings, its minarets and its setting.
The most popular Islamic building type in India is the tomb or the mausoleum which
evolved from the basic cube and hemisphere vocabulary of the early phase into a more
elaborate form during the Mughal period where multiple chambers are present and
tombs were set in a garden known as the char-bagh. The tomb chamber houses the
cenotaph below which is the grave. Well known examples are the Gol Gumbaz,
Bijapur and the Taj Mahal, Agra.

Secular Architecture

The colonial attention towards Indian architecture was mainly focused towards
religious buildings and hence there is much scholarship in this area. In recent times,
the secular production of India is gaining the attention it merits. Cities of the desert
region in the North such as Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, towns such as Srirangam in Tamil
Nadu evolving around the temple as nucleus, the stepped wells of Gujarat, the
vernacular architecture of the warm, humid area of Kerala- all these are unique in
their response to socio-cultural and geographic context.

Architecture Under the Colonial Rule

With colonization, a new chapter began. Though the Dutch, Portuguese and the
French made substantial forays, it was the English who had a lasting impact.
The architecture of the colonial period varied from the beginning attempts at creating
authority through classical prototypes to the later approach of producing a supposedly
more responsive image through what is now termed Indo-Saracenic architecture- a
mixture of Hindu, Islamic and Western elements. Institutional, civic and utilitarian
buildings such as post offices,railway stations, etc., began to be built in large numbers
over the whole empire. Perhaps the most famous example is the Chhatrapati Shivaji
Terminus (CST) in Mumbai, originally named in honor of Queen Victoria. The
creation of New Delhi in early 20th century with its broad tree lined roads and
majestic buildings generated lots of debate on what should be an appropriate
architecture for India.

Post-independence architecture of India

With the introduction of Modern Architecture into India and later with Independence,
the quest was more towards progress as a paradigm fuelled by Nehruvian visions. The
planning of Chandigarh- a city most architects hate/love- by Le Corbusier was
considered a step towards this. Later as modernism exhausted itself in the West and
new directions were sought for, in India too there was a search for a more meaningful
architecture rooted in the Indian context. This direction called Critical Regionalism is
exemplified in the works of architects such as B.V. Doshi, Charles Correa, etc.,


Indian architecture as it stands today is a pluralistic body of production that cannot in

all justice be exemplified by the approaches, buildings and architects cited above.It
has evolved over the centuries and has been affected by numerous invaders aho have
brought different styles from their motherlands.But it is an unavoidable fact that
certain expressions tend to get magnified and others reduced when set against the vast
canvas of the world. In that sense, there is a distillation to an essence that does not
have all the ingredients. A more representative selection can occur only at a deeper
level of study.

Astronomy in Ancient India

The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is actually one of six major observatories built by the
Maharajah. The one in Jaipur not only follows the movements of the sun and the
moon to help determine auspicious dates for events, it also helps map out the position
of the stars in the sky. Although no telescopic instruments were available at the time,
the precise observation of the stars was greatly facilitated by observatories such as
Jantar Mantar.
It should also be noted that such an endeavor (six major observatories, a staff of full-
time priests etc.) did not come to a small cost. This is further evidence of the
importance placed on the study of the stars. As mentioned earlier, both astrology and
astronomy were reasons to build these structures. Unlike the "west", astrology did not
become as pseudo-science as astronomy became more factual and experimental.
Instead, both were considered an integral part of society.

Ancient India's contributions in the field of astronomy are well known and well
documented. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Rig Veda, which
are dated 2000 BC. During next 2500 years, by 500 AD, ancient Indian astronomy has
emerged as an important part of Indian studies and its affect is also seen in several
treatises of that period. In some instances, astronomical principles were borrowed to
explain matters, pertaining to astrology, like casting of a horoscope. Apart from this
linkage of astronomy with astrology in ancient India, science of astronomy continued
to develop independently, and culminated into original findings, like:
The calculation of occurrences of eclipses
Determination of Earth's circumference
Theorizing about the theory of gravitation
Determining that sun was a star and determination of number of planets under
our solar system
There are astronomical references of chronological significance in the Vedas. Some
Vedic notices mark the beginning of the year and that of the vernal equinox in Orion.
This was the case around 4500 BC. Fire altars, with astronomical basis, have been
found in the third millennium cities of India. The texts that describe their designs are
conservatively dated to the first millennium BC, but their contents appear to be much
Yajnavalkya (perhaps 1800 BC) advanced a 95-year cycle to synchronize the motions
of the sun and the moon.A text on Vedic astronomy that has been dated to 1350 BC,
was written by Lagadha.
In 500 AD, Aryabhata presented a mathematical system that took the earth to spin on
its axis and considered the motions of the planets with respect to the sun (in other
words it was heliocentric). His book, the Aryabhatya, presented astronomical and
mathematical theories in which the Earth was taken to be spinning on its axis and the
periods of the planets were given with respect to the sun.
In this book, the day was reckoned from one sunrise to the next, whereas in his
Aryabhata-siddhanta he took the day from one midnight to another. There was also
difference in some astronomical parameters.
Aryabhata wrote that 1,582,237,500 rotations of the Earth equal 57,753,336 lunar
orbits. This is an extremely accurate ratio of a fundamental astronomical ratio
(1,582,237,500/57,753,336 = 27.3964693572), and is perhaps the oldest astronomical
constant calculated to such accuracy.Brahmagupta (598-668) was the head of the
astronomical observatory at Ujjain and during his tenure there wrote a text on
astronomy, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta in 628.
Bhaskara (1114-1185) was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain,
continuing the mathematical tradition of Brahmagupta. He wrote the
Siddhantasiromani which consists of two parts: Goladhyaya (sphere) and Grahaganita
(mathematics of the planets).
The other important names of historical astronomers from India are Madhava and
On April 19, 1975, India sent into orbit its first satellite Aryabhatta. In 1984, Rakesh
Sharma became the first Indian to go to outer space. Kalpana Chawla, later a US
citizen, became the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.

Early cultures identifed celestial objects with gods and spirits. They related these
objects (and their movements) to phenomena such as rain, drought, seasons, and tides.
It is generally believed that the first "professional" astronomers were priests (Magi),
and that their understanding of the "heavens" was seen as "divine", hence astronomy's
ancient connection to what is now called astrology. Ancient constructions with
astronomical alineations (such as Stonehenge) probably fulfilled both astronomical
and religious functions.
Calendars of the world have usually been set by the Sun and Moon (measuring the
day, month and year), and were of importance to agricultural societies, in which the
harvest depended on planting at the correct time of year. The most common modern
calendar is based on the Roman calendar, which divided the year into twelve months
of alternating thirty and thirty-one days apiece. In 46 BC Julius Caesar instigated
calendar reform and created the leap year.
There are astronomical references of chronological significance in the Vedas. Some
Vedic notices mark the beginning of the year and that of the vernal equinox in Orion -
this was the case around 4500 BC. Fire altars, with astronomical basis, have been
found in the third millennium cities of India. The texts that describe their designs are
conservatively dated to the first millennium BC, but their contents appear to be much
Yajnavalkya (perhaps 1800 BC) described the motions of the Sun and the Moon in his
book Shatapatha Brahmana, and also advanced a 95-year cycle to synchronize the
motions of the Sun and the Moon.
The Vedanga Jyotisha, a text on Vedic astrology that has been dated to 1350 BC,
was written by Lagadha. It describes rules for tracking the motions of the Sun and
the Moon, and also develops the use of geometry and trigonometry for astronomical

In Indian languages, the science of astronomy is called Khagola-shastra. The

word Khagola perhaps is derived from the famous astronomical observatory at
the University of Nalanda which was called Khagola. It was at Khagola that the
famous 5th century Indian Astronomer Aryabhatta studied and extended the
Around 500 BCE, Aryabhata presented a mathematical system that took the
Earth to spin on its axis and considered the motions of the planets with respect
to the Sun. He also made an accurate approximation of the Earth's
circumference and diameter, and also discovered how the lunar eclipse and
solar eclipse happen for the first time. He gives the radius of the planetary
orbits in terms of the radius of the Earth/Sun orbit as essentially their periods of
rotation around the Sun. He was also the earliest to discover that the orbits of
the planets around the Sun are ellipses.
He is the first known astronomer on that continent to have used a continuous
system of counting solar days. His book, The Aryabhatiya, published in 498
AD described numerical and geometric rules for eclipse calculations. Indian
astronomy at that time was taking much of its lead from cyclic Hindu
cosmology in which nature operted in cycles, setting the stage for searching for
numerical patterns in the expected time frames for eclipses.
Aryabhatta is said to have been born in 476 A.D. at a town called Ashmaka in
today's Indian state of Kerala. When he was still a young boy he had been sent
to the University of Nalanda to study astronomy. He made significant
contributions to the field of astronomy. He also propounded the Heliocentric
theory of gravitation, thus predating Copernicus by almost one thousand years.
Aryabhatta's Magnum Opus, the Aryabhattiya was translated into Latin in the
13th century. Through this translation, European mathematicians got to know
methods for calculating the areas of triangles, volumes of spheres as well as
square and cube root. Aryabhatta's ideas about eclipses and the sun being the
source of moonlight may not have caused much of an impression on European
astronomers as by then they had come to know of these facts through the
observations of Copernicus and Galileo.
But considering that Aryabhatta discovered these facts 1,500 years ago, and
1,000 years before Copernicus and Galileo makes him a pioneer in this area
too. Aryabhatta's methods of astronomical calculations expounded in his
Aryabhatta-Siddhatha were reliable for practical purposes of fixing the
Panchanga (Hindu calendar). Thus in ancient India, eclipses were also forecast
and their true nature was perceived at least by the astronomers.
The lack of a telescope hindered further advancement of ancient Indian
astronomy. Though it should be admitted that with their unaided observations
with crude instruments, the astronomers in ancient India were able to arrive at
near perfect measurement of astronomical movements and predict eclipses.
Indian astronomers also propounded the theory that the Earth was a sphere.
Aryabhatta was the first one to have propounded this theory in the 5th century.
Another Indian astronomer and mathematician, Brahmagupta estimated in the
7th century that the circumference of the earth was 5000 yojanas. A yojana is
around 7.2 kms. Calculating on this basis we see that the estimate of 36,000
kms as the Earth's circumference comes quite close to the actual circumference
known today.
There is an old Sanskrit Sloka (couplet) which is as follows:
"Sarva Dishanaam, Suryaha, Suryaha, Suryaha."
This couplet means that there are suns in all directions. This couplet which
describes the night sky as full of suns, indicates that in ancient times Indian
astronomers had arrived at the important discovery that the stars visible at night
are similar to the Sun visible during day time. In other words, it was recognized
that the sun is also a star, though the nearest one. This understanding is
demonstrated in another Sloka which says that when one sun sinks below the
horizon, a thousand suns take its place. This apart, many Indian astronomers
had formulated ideas about gravity and gravitation.
Brahmagupta, in the 7th century had said about gravity that "Bodies fall
towards the Earth as it is in the nature of the Earth to attract bodies, just as it is
in the nature of water to flow".
About a hundred years before Brahmagupta, another
astronomer, Varahamihira had claimed for the first time perhaps that there
should be a force which might be keeping bodies stuck to the Earth, and also
keeping heavenly bodies in their determined places. Thus the concept of the
existence of some attractive force that governs the falling of objects to the
Earth and their remaining stationary after having once fallen; as also
determining the positions which heavenly bodies occupy, was recognized.
It was also recognized that this force is attractive force. The Sanskrit term for
gravity is Gurutvakarshan which is an amalgam of Guru-tva-akarshan.
Akarshan means to be attracted, thus the fact that the character of this orce was
of attraction was also recognized. This apart, it seems that the function of
attracting heavenly bodies was attributed to the sun.
The term Gurutvaakarshan can be interpreted to mean, 'to the attracted by the
Master". The sun was recognized by all ancient people to be the source of light
and warmth. Among the Aryans the sun was defiled.
The sun (Surya) was one of the chief deities in the Vedas. He was recognized as
the source of light (Dinkara), source of warmth (Bhaskara). In the Vedas he is
also referred to as the source of all life, the center of creation and the center of
the spheres. The last statement is suggestive of the sun being recognized as the
centre of the universe (solar system). The idea that the sun was looked upon as
the power that attracts heavenly bodies is supported by the virile terms like
Raghupati and Aditya used in referring to the sun.
While the male gender is applied to refer to the sun, the Earth (Prithivi,
Bhoomi, etc.) is generally referred to as a female. The literal meaning of the
term Gurutvakarshan also supports the recognition of the heliocentric theory, as
the term Guru corresponds with the male gender, hence it could not have
referred to the earth which was always referred to as a female.
Many ancient Indian astronomers have also referred to the concept of
heliocentrism. Aryabhata has suggested it in his treatise Aryabhattiya.
Bhaskaracharya has also made references to it in his Magnum Opus Siddhanta-
Shiromani. But it has to be conceded thatthe heliocentric theory of gravitation
was also developed in ancient times (i.e. around 500 B.C.) by Greek
What supports the contention that it could have existed in India before the
Greek astronomers developed it, is that in Vedic literature the Sun is referred to
as the 'center of spheres' along with the term Guru-tva-akarshan which
seemingly refers to the sun. The Vedas are dated around 3000 B.C. to 1000
B.C. Thus the heliocentric idea could have existed in a rudimentary form in the
days of the Rig Veda and was refined further by astronomers of a later age.
Indian Astronomers like Aryabhatta and Varahamihira who lived between 476
and 587 A.D. made close approaches to the concept of Heliocentrism. In the
Surya-Siddhanta, an astronomical text dated around 400 A.D., the following
appellations have been given to the sun. "He is denominated the golden
wombed (Hiranyagarbha), the blessed; as being the generator".
He is also referred to as "The supreme source of light (Jyoti) upon the border of
darkness - he revolves. bringing beings into being, the creator of creatures".
The Surya-Siddhanta also says that "Bestowing upon him the scriptures (Vedas)
as gifts and establishing him within the egg as grandfather of all worlds, he
himself then revolves causing existence". Thus we can see that what ancient
Indian astronomers say comes close to the heliocentric theory of gravitation,
which was a thousand years later articulated by Copernicus and Galileo inviting
severe reactions from the clergy in Rome.
Brahmagupta (598-668) was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain and
during his tenure there wrote a text on astronomy, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta in 628.
He was the earliest to use algebra to solve astronomical problems. He also develops
methods for calculations of the motions and places of various planets, their rising and
setting, conjunctions, and the calculation of eclipses of the Sun and the Moon.
Bhaskara (1114-1185) was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain,
continuing the mathematical tradition of Brahmagupta. He wrote the
Siddhantasiromani which consists of two parts: Goladhyaya (sphere) and Grahaganita
(mathematics of the planets). He also calculated the time taken for the Earth to orbit
the sun to 9 decimal places.
Other important astronomers from India include Madhava, Nilakantha Somayaji and
Jyeshtadeva, who were members of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics
from the 14th century to the 16th century. They were responsible for founding
calculus and modern mathematical analysis, along with a number of other
Hindu Astronomy
The Hindu Astronomy is one of the ancient astronomical systems of the world. It is
sometimes considered a controversial subject, because some scholars argue that it
shows a higher antiquity of the Vedic culture as generally assumed.
The astronomy and the astrology of India are based upon sidereal calculations. The
sidereal astronomy is based upon the stars and the sidereal period is the time that it
takes the object to make one full orbit around the Sun, relative to the stars. This is
considered to be an object's true orbital period.In Hindu Astronomy, the vernal
equinox (the First Point of Aries) is often calculated at 23 from 0 Aries (1950 CE),
i.e. about 7 Pisces (Frawley 1991:148). The constellation that marks this vernal
equinox is the Uttarabhadra.
In the time of the Puranas, the vernal equinox was marked by the Ashwini
constellation (beginning of Aries), which gives a date of about 300-500 CE.
The Vishnu Purana (2.8.63) states that the equinoxes occur when the Sun enters Aries
and Libra, and that when the sun enters Capricorn, his northern course (from winter to
summer solstice) commences, and the southern course when he enters Cancer.
In the Suryasiddhanta, the rate of precession at 54" (it actually is 50.3"), which is
much more accurate than the number calculated by the Greeks (Frawley 1991:148).
The Hindus use a system of 27 or 28 Nakshatras (lunar constellations) to calculate a
month. Each month can be divided into 30 lunar tithis (days). There are usually 360 or
366 days in a year.
The Hindu astronomer Varahamihira, Garga (quoted by Somakara), the Mahabharata
and the Vedanga Jyothish refer to the constellation Dhanishta (Shravishta) and thus to
an ancient calendar that would have been used in 1280 BCE (see Frawley 1991: 152
The Kaushiktaki Brahmana and possibly the Atharva Veda refer to a similar calendar
(Frawley 1991).
The Atharva Veda, the Tandya Mahabrahmana and Laughakshi (quoted by Somakara)
may show knowledge of an earlier calendar, but still in the Magha constellation
(Frawley 1991).In still earlier Hindu calendars, the vernal equinox was in the Krittika
There are additionally references to the summer solstice in the Magha constellation.
This could indicate a date around 2000 BCE. The Atharva Veda, the Taittiriya
Brahmana, the Shatapahta Brahmana, the Maitriyani Upanishad and the Vishnu
Purana show such a constellation in the Krittika (Frawley 1991).
In the working out of horoscopes (called Janmakundali), the position of the
Navagrahas, nine planets plus Rahu and Ketu (mythical demons, evil forces) was
considered. The Janmakundali was a complex mixture of science and dogma. But the
concept was born out of astronomical observations and perception based on
astronomical phenomenon. In ancient times personalities like Aryabhatta and
Varahamihira were associated with Indian astronomy.
It would be surprising for us to know today that this science had advanced to such an
extent in ancient India that ancient Indian astronomers had recognized that stars are
same as the sun, that the sun is center of the universe (solar system) and that the
circumference of the Earth is 5,000 Yojanas. One Yojana being 7.2 kms., the ancient
Indian estimates came close to the actual figure.

An Anglicized form of the Sanskrit, avatara, "descent", from the root tr, "pass" (cf.
Latin in-trare), and the preposition ava, "down".
The word is used, in a technical sense, in the Hindu re!igion to denote the descent
upon earth of a portion of the essence of a god, which then assumes some coarser
material form, be it animal, monster, or man. Such descents are ascribed in the
mythology of Hinduism to various gods, but those ascribed to Vishnu are by far the
most important. They are believed to have taken place at different ages of the world,
and to have consisted of different proportions of the essence of the god Vishnu. Their
number is variously stated, ranging from ten to twenty-eight, finally becoming
indefinitely numerous. Any remarkable man is liable to be regarded as a more or less
perfect avatar of Vishnu, and the consequence one of the worst features of Hinduism -
has been the offering of divine homage to men, especially the founders of religious
sects and their successors.
In Hinduism, an avatar or avatara, is the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of an
Immortal Being, or of the Ultimate Supreme Being. It derives from the Sanskrit word
'avatara' which means "descent" and usually implies a deliberate descent into mortal
realms for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations
of Vishnu the Preserver, whom many Hindus worship as God. The Dasavatara (see
below) are ten particular "great" incarnations of Vishnu.
Unlike Christianity, and Shaivism, Vaishnavism believes that God takes a special
(including human) form whenever there is a decline of righteousness (dharma) and
rise of evil. Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, according to Vaishnavism that is
espoused by Ramanuja and Madhva, and God in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, said in the
Gita: 'For the protection of the good, for destruction of evil, and for the establishment
of righteousness, I come into being from age to age.' (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, verse
8.) In any event, all Hindus believe that there is no difference between worship of
Vishnu and His avatars as it all leads to Him.The word has also been used by
extension by non-Hindus to refer to the incarnations of God in other religions, notably
Christianity, for example Jesus.
Teachings and Significance
The philosophy reflected in the Hindu epics is the doctrine of the avatar (incarnation
of Vishnu or God as an animal or a human form). The two main avatars of Vishnu that
appear in the epics are Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, and Krishna, the advisor of
the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Unlike the superhuman devas (gods) of the Vedic
Samhitas and the abstract Upanishadic concept of the all-pervading Brahman, the
avatars in these epics are intermediaries between the Supreme Being represented as
either Saguna Brahman or Nirguna Brahman and mere mortals.
This doctrine has had a great impact on Hindu religious life, for to many it means that
God has manifested Himself in a form that could be appreciated even by the least
sophisticated. Rama and Krishna have remained prominent as beloved and adored
manifestations of the Divine for thousands of years among Hindus. The Upanishadic
concept of the underlying unity of Brahman is revered by many to be the pinnacle of
Hindu thought, and the concept of the avatars has purveyed this concept to the
ordinary Hindu as an expression of the manifestation of the Hindu's highest single
divinity as an aid to humanity in difficult times. The Hindu cycle of creation and
destruction contains the essence of the idea of "avatars" and indeed relies on a final
avatar of Vishnu, that of Kalki, as the final destructive force at the end of the world.
Aside from Rama and Krishna there are many other human or animal forms which
appeared on earth or elsewhere in the universe. Scriptures do not describe any
appearance as an avatar by Brahma or Shiva (they are themselves listed as guna
avatars) of nirguna Brahman, but emanations of Vishnu have appeared a number of
times. Some Hindus, based on the Ramayana, aver that Shiva incarnated once as the
monkey-god Hanuman. Hanuman is more well-known as the son of Vayu, the deva of
wind or his emanation. (Hanuman lived in a jungle in Treta Yuga and is called vanara,
which means people having characteristics of monkey, and was one of the greatest
devotees of Vishnu).

The Ten Avatars, or Dasavatara

1. Matsya - The Fish - According to legend, the king Manu was washing his
hands in a river when a little fish swam into his hands and begged him to
save it. He put it in a jar, which it soon outgrew; he successively moved it to a
tank, a river and then the ocean. The fish then warned him that a Great Flood
would occur in a week that would destroy all life. Manu therefore built a boat
which the fish towed to a mountaintop when the flood came, and thus he
survived along with some "seeds of life" to re-establish life on earth.
2. . Kurma - The Tortoise - Vishnu in this form offers his back as the pivot on
which rests Mt. Mandara, while the gods and demons churn with it various
valuable objects from the ocean of milk. In Hinduism, Kurma was the second
avatar of Vishnu. He took the form of a tortoise and sat on the bottom of the
ocean after the Great Flood. A mountain was placed on his back by the other
gods so that they could churn the sea and find the ancient treasures of the Vedic
The Churning of the Ocean itself forms an interesting legend. In the ancient
times, both the Devas (divinities similar to Greek Gods) were mortal. Their
enemies were the Asuras. One day, the King of the Devas, Indra was riding his
elephant when he came upon a sage. The sage decided to honor Indra by giving
him a scented garland. Indra took the garland, but placed it on the forehead of
his elephant. The elephant was irritated by the scent and threw the garland off,
trampling on it. The angry sage gave Indra a curse that he and the Devas would
begin to lose all their energy and power.
The Devas feared that the Asuras would take over the whole world. Therefore,
they prayed, and the Hindu Trinity suggested a solution: churn the Ocean of
Milk in order to obtain the Nectar of Immortality. However, the Devas could
not churn the Ocean themselves. They struck a temporary truce with their
enemies so that all could participate in the churning.
The Ocean was churned by using the mountain Mandara and the snake Vasuki
wrapped around it. Each side would hold an end of the snake and pull on it
alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn would cause the
Ocean to be churned.
However, once the mountain was put on the Ocean, it began to sink. Then,
Vishnu incarnated in the form of a turtle to support the mountain. As the ocean
was churned, a deadly poison known as Halahalal emerged. This poison
threatened to suffocate all living things. In respons to various prayers, Shiva
drank the poison and held it in his throat. This caused the throat to turn blue.
Then, various people, animals, and treasures emerged.
These included:
- Sura, goddess and creator of wine
- Apsaras, various divine nymphs
- Kasthuba, the most valuable jewel in the world
- Uchhaishravas, the divine horse
- Parijata, the wish-granting tree
- Kamadhenu, the first cow and mother of all other cows
- Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth
- Dhanavantri, the Heavenly Physician, emerged with a pot containing nectar.
As the Asuras rushed to take the nectar, the frightened Devas appealed to
Kurma, who then turned himself into a maiden named Mohini. The damsel
distracted the Asuras, while the Devas secretly drank the Nectar. One Asura
suspected foul play, disguised himself as a Deva, and drank some Nectar. But
before the Nectar could pass his throat, Vishnu cut off the head. The head,
however, remained immortal. It is believed that this immortal head occasionally
swallows the sun or the moon, causing eclipses. Then, the sun or moon passes
through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.

3. Varaha The Boar

Varaha is the third avatar of Vishnu, a boar sent to defeat Hiranyaksha, a horrible
demon who had taken the Earth (prthivi) and carried it to the bottom of the ocean. The
battle took a thousand years, but Varaha won.
Varaha is depicted in art as either purely animal or as being anthropomorphic, having
a boar's head on a man's body. In the latter form it has four arms, two of which hold
the wheel and conch-shell and the other two hold a mace, sword or lotus or form a
blessing posture. The earth is held between the boar's tusks.The avatar symbolizes the
resurrection of the earth from a pralaya (deluge) and the establishment of a new kalpa
(cycle), and can thus be considered to constitute a creation myth. The Varaha purana is
a purana in which the form of narration is a recitation by Varaha. A very ancient
temple lies in Tamil Nadu goes by the name of Sri Mushnam, and is considered a
"svayambhu" murthi like Tirupati and Badrinath.
4. Narasimha - The Man-lion - Vishu takes this form to deliver the world from a
demon, who had obtained from Brahma the boon, that he should be slain neither by a
god, a man, nor an animal. In his previous avatar, Vishnu was Varaha and killed the
demon Hiranyaksha, whose brother, Hiranyakashipu, was greatly angered by this.
Hiranyakashipu decided to gain magical powers by performing a penance for Brahma.
Hiranyakashipu asked for a boon from Brahma that he would not die on Earth or in
space, nor in fire or water, not during the day or night, not inside or outside, and not
by the hand of a human, god, animal or any other animate or inanimate species.
Brahma was pleased with his penance and granted the boon.
Hiranyakashipu, a Daitya, hated the gods and most especially Vishnu, the followers of
whom he began to torture. Hiranyakashipu's son, Prahlada, was a very devoted
follower of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu failed in convincing his son to join him against
Vishnu, and tried to kill him, but Prahlada was protected by Vishnu. When asked,
Prahlada refused to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe
(though he had used his boon to conquer the entire world) and claimed that Vishnu
was omnipresent.
Hiranyakashipu asked if Vishnu was in a particular pillar and Prahlada answered he
was. Hiranyakashipu smashed the pillar, and Narasimha came from it. Narasimha
killed Hiranyakashipu, since he was neither human nor animal nor god (an avatar is a
human, but this avatar was only part human and part animal) and did so during
twilight (neither day nor night), placing him on Narasimha's thighs (not on earth, nor
in space), on the threshold of the entrance to a courtyard (neither inside nor out) and
using nails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons.
5. Vamana - The Dwarf - Vamana is the Fifth Avatara of Vishnu, a dwarf brahmin. He
is also known as Upendra.
He defeats the Devas' (Gods') enemy Bali Chakravarthi (of the demon race) into
giving up all of the heavens and earth. King Bali, in an attempt to cement his place as
the ruler of all Three Worlds (i.e. the Universe), performed a series of grand yajnas
(prayers/sacrifice). The Gods feared that this would cause evil to stalk the Universe,
so they prayed to Mahavishnu to assist them. On King Bali's last yajna, Vamana a
small brahmana boy appeared.
The King was delighted to be graced by the presence of such a holy being, and offered
Vamana anything that he wished for. Vamana asked for a piece of land only three
paces wide and Bali laughs at the proposal, highlighting the great wealth and land that
he owns. However he nonetheless agrees to this wish, against Asuraguru
Sukracharya's warning that Vamana is in fact the avatar of Mahavishnu who has come
once again to defeat the demon race. King Bali agrees, but this invokes the anger of
his spiritual master, Sukracharya, who curses him. King Bali presents Vamana his gift,
whereupon Vamana grows in size and steps across the earth in one step, the heavens in
the second step. Having now conquered all of Bali's wealth, Vamana asks him where
he should place his third step. King Bali, in trying to fulfill his promise, offered his
head as the third place. Thus Vamana places his third step on King Bali's head,
defeating him completely.
Vamana taught King Bali that arrogance and pride should be abandoned if any
advancement in life is to be made, and that wealth should never be taken for granted
since it can so easily be taken away. Vamana then took on the form of Mahavishnu.
He was pleased by King Bali's determination and ability to keep his promise in the
face of his spiritual master's curse and the prospect of losing all his wealth. Vishnu
named the King Mahabali since he was a Mahatma (great soul). He allowed Mahabali
to return to the spiritual sky to associate with Prahalada (the demoniac Hiranyashipu's
pious son, also a descendant of the demon race) and other divine beings. Mahavishnu
also declared that Mahabali would be able to rule the universe in the following yuga
Bali is supposed to return every year to the land of his people, to ensure that they are
prosperous. This is celebrated as the Onam festival in Kerala, where he is also called
6.Parasu-rama - Rama with the Axe - In the form of a hero, Rama, armed with an
axe, Vishnu destroys the Ksatriyas, or warrior caste, in the interest of the priestly
caste, the Brahmins. In Hinduism, Parashurama ("axe-wielding Rama") is the sixth
avatar of Vishnu, and a son of Jamadagni. He received an axe after doing penance for
Shiva. He is a Chiranjeevin.
King Kaartaveerya-arjuna and his army visited Jamadagni, who fed his guest and the
whole army with his divine cow; the king demanded the cow and Jamadagni refused
because he needed the cow for his religious ceremonies. King Kaartaveerya-arjuna
sent his soldiers to take he cow and Parashurama killed the entire army and the king
with his axe. In return, the princes beheaded Jamadagni. In revenge, Parasurama killed
the entire clan of Kaartaveerya-arjuna, thus conquering the entire earth, which he gave
to Kasyapa.
According to one legend, the story goes on that Parashurama was struck by remorse at
his wanton killings, and offered penance on a mountain top. The sea god Varuna
responded, and offered him land equal to the distance he could throw his axe.
Parasurama threw his axe from Gokarnam and it fell at Kanyakumari. As promised the
sea gave way to land, thus giving rise to Kerala.
Parashurama also went to visit Shiva once but the way was blocked by Ganesha.
Parashurama threw the axe at him and Ganesha, knowing it had been given to him by
Shiva, allowed it cut off one of his tusks.
Alternative: Parasurama
7. Rama, the great hero of the Hindu Odyssey, the Rama yana, who is made into an
avatar of Vishnu. Rama was a real or mythical king in ancient India, whose life and
heroic deeds are related by the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.
Astronomical data in the Ramayana has been interpreted to suggest that his reign was
would have been at approximately 2015 BC, however the Ramayana was written
many centuries after this date, probably two thousand years later. It cannot be taken as
an accurate guide to the life of the historical Rama, except by devout Hindus. In
Hinduism, Rama is regarded as the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu and worshipped
together with his companion Hanuman, the monkey-god who assists him in the epic
narrative of the Ramayana.
He is the Prince of Ayodhya and is banished to a forest by his stepmother. While in
exile, his wife, Sita, is kidnapped by Ravana, King of the Rakshas on Lanka (cur: Sri
Lanka). Rama, along with Hanuman, rescued her, killed Ravana and becomes King of
Ayodhya. Rama also killed Vali, the monkey-King of Kishkindhya. He is protected
during his adventures by Agastya, and also rescued Ahalya after she was turned to
stone by her husband for having an affair with Indra. In recent years the cult of Rama
has become associated with Hindu Nationalism. Rama is held up as a model of Hindu
devotion to caste and the rules of dharma, and as a militant opponent of those who
would break with it.
8. Krishna the Indian Hercules, as he is styled by Megasthenes, the most popular hero
of India, is the most perfect avatar of Vishnu. Krishna (meaning black as well as all-
attractive one) is a Hindu god, and is popularly considered one of the avatars of
Vishnu. Another perspective presents Krishna as existing prior to any material
manifestation and prior to any God such as Vishnu, who is assigned the task of
maintaining the material manifestation. In this view, Krishna is considered the
Supreme Lord. Perhaps the best way to explain the relationship between Krishna and
Vishnu is to consider them to be irrevocably linked and that one is the expansion of
the other. The Bhagavad Gita, a section of the ancient epic Mahabharata, describes the
teachings imparted by Krishna to Arjuna at the beginning of the great battle at
Parthasarathy is a name of Krishna that refers to his being the charioteer (sarathy) of
Arjuna at this time, a name that endears Krishna to Arjuna, who becomes blissful
whenever he contemplates how merciful it is that Krishna has consented to become
his charioteer. Stories of Krishna's childhood and youth depict him as mischievous
and clever, showing that even God has a sense of humor.
He is found stealing clothes from the Gopis, breaking the butterpot for ghee, and
playing transcendental pranks. This is a counterpoint to another avatar of Vishnu:
Rama, he of the straight and narrow path. Krishna also is involved in defending honor,
and in fighting demonic personalities. In one such story, Vishnu told Krishna to kill
Kamsa, a tyrant and a son of a demon. Krishna and his brother Balarama were
threatened by Kamsa, who had been told a son of his half-sister Devaki would kill
him. He therefore murdered her first six children. Krishna and Balarama were moved
to Rohini's womb to protect them. Krishna was then given to Nanda and Yasoda to
hide him from Kamsa; as a child, he was known as Balakrsna, one of hundreds of
names for Krishna.
Of all names, Krishna, or all attractive, is considered the topmost. Krishna is 'Sat Cit
Ananda', full of bliss and knowlege. To a Hindu, all living entities are part and parcel
of Krishna, and each living entity walks within a world made up of the material
energy, another one of Krishna's unlimited energies. The amorous pastimes of Krishna
are popularly misunderstood and should not be attempted until the nature of Krishna
is fully inderstood. For example, to fulfill the desires of his devotees he expanded to
be personally present to His sixteen-thousand wives. On one hand this seems
adulterous, whereas on the other hand, as expansions of Krishna, all husbands are part
and parcel of Krishna and therefore ultimately Krishna is indirectly married to all
Despite all these transcendental activities, Krishna's favorite is Radha, daughter of
Vrishabhanu. When Krishna advented in Vrindavana, Radha followed within two
years. However, she would not open her eyes until Krishna was present before Her. At
Her first birthday Krishna, then three, came and pulled down the veil of her crib. She
opened her eyes for the first time then. Until Krishna appeared before her, it was as if
there was nothing on this earth worthwhile for Radha to see. Radha is the prime object
of Krishna's love, and is joined with Him as the Fountainhead of all Spiritual Energy
from which the material universes emanate.
9. Balarama - In Hinduism, Balarama (phonetically Balarma - his other names
include Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha) is the name of the elder
brother of Sri Krishna. Most South Indian Hindu sects and some Vaishnava
sects based in eastern India regard Balarama as being the ninth avatar of
Vishnu. In either tradition, Balarama is acknowledged as being a
manifestation of Shesha, the divine serpent on whom Vishnu rests. The
sacred Hindu scripture Bhagavata Purana explains how Krishna is the
Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything emanates. In doing
so, his first expansion is Balarama. From Balarama all other incarnations of
God appear. Of the three transcendental elements (sat, cit and ananda),
Balarama is in charge of sat(Sanskrit: eternity or truth), cit (Sanskrit:
knowledge or consciousness). Hence he worshiped as the supreme teacher or
adiguru. (Note: Ananda (Sanskrit: happiness or bliss.) Balarama was
conceived as a son of Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa, brother of Devaki and an
evil king, was intent upon killing all the progeny of Devaki, because of a
prediction that Kamsa would die at the hands of the eighth son of Devaki.
Kamsa threw his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva into jail, and
proceeded to kill each of their children as soon as they were born. In due
course of time, Devaki bacame pregnant for the seventh time. However, this
child was not destined to meet the fate of the six previous infants. The
unborn child was miraculously transferred from the womb of Devaki to the
womb of Rohini, who had long been craving a child of her own. Thus
Balarama's other name is also Sankarsana which describes the transfer of the
child from the womb. The child was formally named Rama, but because of his
great strength he was called Balarama (Strong Rama). Thus, Rohini actually
gave birth to Balarama and raised him. Balarama spent his childhood as a
cowherd boy with his brother Krishna and friends. He later married Revati, the
daughter of King Raivata, ruler of the Anarta province. Balarama is almost
always depicted as being fair skinned, especially in comparison to his brother,
Krishna, who is shown as dark blue or black in hue. His weapons are the
plough and the mace. Traditionally Balarama wears blue garments and a
garland of forest flowers. His hair is tied in a topknot and He has earrings,
bracelets and armlets. Balarama is described as being very physically strong,
in fact 'bala' in Sanskrit refers to 'strength'. Sri Baladeva is famous as being
Krishna's dearest friend. In the Bhagavata Purana it is described that after
Balarama took part in the battle that caused the destruction of the rest of the
Yadu dynasty, and after He witnessed the disappearance of Lord Krishna, He
then sat down in a meditative state and departed from this world by
producing a great white snake from His mouth, and thus He was carried by
Sesha in the form of a serpent.

10. Kalki - In Hindu traditions, Kalki (also rendered by some as Kalkin and Kalaki) is
the name of the tenth and final Maha Avatara (Great Avatar) of Vishnu the Preserver,
who will come to end the current Kali Yuga, (The Age of Darkness and Destruction).
The name Kalki is often a metaphor for "Eternity" or "Time". The origins of the name
probably lie in the word Kalka which refers to "dirt", "filth" or "foulness" and hence
denotes the "Destroyer of Foulness", "Destroyer of Confusion", "Destroyer of
Darkness", or "The Annihilator of Ignorance". In Hindi kal ki avatar means
"tomorrow's avatar". Other similar and divergent interpretations (based on varying
etymological derivations from the ancient Sanskrit language, including one simply
meaning "White Horse") have been made.In the Buddhist Kalachakra tradition, the
Kalki (or Kulika) is the ruler of the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala, where the
whole of society is enlighted and the Kalachakra tantra is held and widely practiced.
In this form Vishnu will descend when the world is wholly depraved, destroy utterly
the wicked, and restore the happy conditions of the Age of Virtue. In Hinduism, Kalki
(alt. spelling: Kalaki) ('Time") is the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu. Kalki is expected
to appear on Earth at the conclusion of the current Kali Yuga; He will come from the
sky on a white horse, brandishing a flaming sword with which to destroy the wicked
people of the current world, renew creation and bring righteousness back to Earth.
According to Hindu scripture, Kali Yuga (the Age of Kali) began at the end of
Krishna's bodily lifespan near the end of the 15th century BC and will last exactly
432,000 years - placing its conclusion near the middle of the 431st millennium AD.
Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of Vishnu, is expected to appear at this time, riding a
white horse and wielding a flaming sword with which to strike down the wicked.
Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is the last of 4 Yugas; upon its conclusion, the world will "reboot" into a
new Satya Yuga (Golden Age.) This involves the end of the world as we know it and
the return of the earth to a state of paradise.
According to most interpretations of Hindu scriptures, including the Vedas, the Kali
Yuga (lit. Age of Kali , also known as Iron Age) began at the end of Krishna's bodily
lifespan (approximately 5100 years ago, 3102 BCE) and will last exactly 432,000
years - placing its conclusion in the year 428,899 CE (it began with a year 0). Kalki,
the 10th and final avatar of Vishnu, is expected to appear at this time, riding a white
horse and wielding a flaming sword with which to strike down the wicked
.Kali Yuga is the last of four Yugas - upon its conclusion, the world will 'reboot' into a
new Satya Yuga (Golden Age). This involves the end of the world as we know it and
the return of Earth to a state of paradise. Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18
February 3102 BCE according to the Surya Siddhanta, which is an astronomical
treatise that forms the basis of all Hindu and Buddhist calendars.
Kali Yuga is sometimes referred to as the Iron Age because it was also the time when
forging iron was discovered. Throughout the Kali Yuga, human civilization
degenerates further.
Hindu Calendar

While the Republic of India has adopted the Gregorian calendar for its secular life, its
Hindu religious life continues to be governed by the traditional Hindu calendar. This
calendar, based primarily on the lunar revolutions, is adapted to solar reckoning.
Early History
The oldest system, in many respects the basis of the classical one, is known from texts
of about 1000 BC. It divides an approximate solar year of 360 days into 12 lunar
months of 27 (according to the early Vedic text Taittiriya Samhita or 28
(according to the Atharvaveda, the fourth of the Vedas, 19.7.1.) days. The resulting
discrepancy was resolved by the intercalation of a leap month every 60 months.
Time was reckoned by the position marked off in constellations on the ecliptic in
which the Moon rises daily in the course of one lunation (the period from New Moon
to New Moon) and the Sun rises monthly in the course of one year.
These constellations (naksatra) each measure an arc of 13 20' of the ecliptic circle.
The positions of the Moon were directly observable, and those of the Sun inferred
from the Moon's position at Full Moon, when the Sun is on the opposite side of the
Moon. The position of the Sun at midnight was calculated from the naksatra that
culminated on the meridian at that time, the Sun then being in opposition to that
The year was divided into three thirds of four months, each of which would be
introduced by a special religious rite, the caturmasya (four-month rite). Each of these
periods was further divided into two parts (seasons or rtu): spring (vasanta), from mid-
March until mid-May; summer (grisma), from mid-May until mid-July; the rains
(varsa), from mid-July until mid-September; autumn (sarad ), from mid-September
until mid-November; winter (hemanta), from mid-November until mid-January; and
the dews (sisira), from mid-January until mid-March.
The spring months in early times were Madhu and Madhava, the summer months
Sukra and Suci, the rainy months Nabhas and Nabhasya, the autumn months Isa and
Urja, the winter months Sahas and Sahasya, and the dewy months Tapas and Tapasya.
The month, counted from Full Moon to Full Moon, was divided into two halves
(paksa, "wing") of waning (krsna) and waxing (sukla) Moon, and a special ritual
(darsapurnamasa, "new and full moon rites") was prescribed on the days of New
Moon (amavasya) and Full Moon (purnimas).
The month had theoretically 30 days (tithi), and the day (divasa) 30 hours (muhurta).
This picture is essentially confirmed by the first treatise on time reckoning, the
Jyotisa-vedanga ("Vedic auxiliary [text] concerning the luminaries") of about 100 BC,
which adds a larger unit of five years (yuga) to the divisions. A further old distinction
is that of two year moieties, the uttarayana ("northern course"), when the Sun has
passed the spring equinox and rises every morning farther north, and the daksinayana
("southern course"), when it has passed the autumnal equinox and rises progressively
farther south.
The Classical Calendar
In its classic form (Surya-siddhanta, 4th century AD) the calendar continues from the
one above with some refinements. With the influence of Hellenism, Greek and
Mesopotamian astronomy and astrology were introduced.
Though astronomy and time reckoning previously were dictated by the requirements
of rituals, the time of which had to be fixed correctly, and not for purposes of
divination, the new astrology came into vogue for casting horoscopes and making
Zodiacal time measurement was now used side by side with the older naksatra one.
The naksatra section of the ecliptic (13 20') was divided into four parts of 3 20' each;
thus, two full naksatras and a quarter of one make up one zodiac period, or sign (30).
The year began with the entry of the Sun (samkranti) in the sign of Aries. The names
of the signs (rasi) were taken over and mostly translated into Sanskrit: mesa ("ram,"
Aries), vrsabha ("bull," Taurus), mithuna ("pair," Gemini), karkata ("crab," Cancer),
simha ("lion," Leo), kanya ("maiden," Virgo), tula ("scale," Libra), vrscika
("scorpion," Scorpius), dhanus ("bow," Sagittarius), makara ("crocodile,"
Capricornus), kumbha ("water jar," Aquarius), mina ("fish," Pisces).
The precession of the vernal equinox from the Sun's entry into Aries to some point in
Pisces, with similar consequences for the summer solstice, autumnal equinox, and
winter solstice, has led to two different methods of calculating the samkranti (entry) of
the Sun into a sign. The precession (ayana) is not accounted for in the nirayana system
(without ayana), which thus dates the actual samkranti correctly but identifies it
wrongly with the equinox or solstice, and the sayana system (with ayana), which thus
dates the equinox and solstice correctly but identifies it wrongly with the samkranti.
While the solar system has extreme importance for astrology, which, it is claimed,
governs a person's life as an individual or part of a social system, the sacred time
continues to be reckoned by the lunar naksatra system. The lunar day (tithi), a 30th
part of the lunar month, remains the basic unit. Thus, as the lunar month is only about
29 1/2 solar days, the tithi does not coincide with the natural day (ahoratra). The
convention is that that tithi is in force for the natural day that happened to occur at the
dawn of that day. Therefore, a tithi beginning after dawn one day and expiring before
dawn the next day is eliminated, not being counted in that month, and there is a break
in the day sequence.
The names of the naksatras, to which correspond the tithis in the monthly lunar cycle
and segments of months in the annual solar cycle, are derived from the constellations
on the horizon at that time and have remained the same. The names of the months
have changed: Caitra (March-April), Vaisakha (April-May), Jyaistha (May-June),
Asadha (June-July), Sravana (July-August), Bhadrapada (August-September), Asvina
(September-October), Karttika (October-November), Margasirsa (November-
December), Pausa (December-January), Magha (January-February), and Phalguna
In this calendar the date of an event takes the following form: month, fortnight (either
waning or waxing Moon), name (usually the number) of the tithi in that fortnight, and
the year of that era which the writer follows. Identification, particularly of the tithi, is
often quite complicated, since it requires knowledge of the time of sunrise on that day
and which 30th of the lunar month was in force then. Eventually, India also adopted
the seven-day week (saptaha) from the West and named the days after the
corresponding planets: Sunday after the Sun, ravivara; Monday after the Moon,
somavara; Tuesday after Mars, mangalavara; Wednesday after Mercury, budhavara;
Thursday after Jupiter, brhaspativara; Friday after Venus, sukravara; and Saturday
after Saturn, sanivara.
A further refinement of the calendar was the introduction into dating of the place of a
year according to its position in relation to the orbital revolution of the planet Jupiter,
called brhaspati in Sanskrit. Jupiter has a sidereal period (its movement with respect to
the "fixed" stars) of 11 years, 314 days, and 839 minutes, so in nearly 12 years it is
back into conjunction with those stars from which it began its orbit. Its synodic period
brings it into conjunction with the Sun every 398 days and 88 minutes, a little more
than a year.
Thus, Jupiter in a period of almost 12 years passes about the same series of naksatras
that the Sun passes in one year and, in a year, about the same naksatras as the Sun in a
month. A year then can be dated as the month of a 12-year cycle of Jupiter, and the
date is given as, for example, grand month of Caitra. This is extended to a unit of five
cycles, or the 60-year cycle of Jupiter (brhaspaticakra), and a "century" of 60 years is
formed. This system is known from the 6th century AD onward.
At the other end of the scale, more precision is brought to the day. Every tithi is
divided into two halves, called karanas. The natural day is divided into units ranging
from a vipala (0.4 second) to a ghatik) (24 minutes) and an "hour" (muhurta) of 48
minutes; the full natural day has 30 such hours. The day starts at dawn; the first six
ghatikas are early morning, the second set of six midmorning, the third midday, the
fourth afternoon, the fifth evening. Night lasts through three units (yama) of time: six
ghatikas after sundown, or early night; two of midnight; and four of dawn.
The Sacred Calendar
There are a few secular state holidays (e.g., Independence Day) and some solar
holidays, such as the entry of the Sun into the sign of Aries (mesa-samkranti), marking
the beginning of the new astrological year; the Sun's entry into the sign of
Capricornus (makara-samkranti), which marks the winter solstice but has coalesced
with a hoary harvest festival, which in southern India is very widely celebrated as the
Pongal festival; and the mahavisuva day, which is New Year's Eve. But all other
important festivals are based on the lunar calendar.
As a result of the high specialization of deities and events celebrated in different
regions, there are hundreds of such festivals, most of which are observed in smaller
areas, though some have followings throughout India. A highly selective list of the
major ones, national and regional, follows. Ramanavami ("ninth of Rama"), on Caitra
S. (= sukla, "waxing fortnight") 9, celebrates the birth of Rama.
Rathayatra ("pilgrimage of the chariot"), Asadha S. 2, is the famous Juggernaut
(Jagannatha) festival of the temple complex at Puri, Orissa. Janmastami ("eighth day
of the birth"), Sravana K. (= krsna, "waning fortnight") 8, is the birthday of the god
Krsna. Ganesacaturthi ("fourth of Ganesa"), Bhadrapada S. 4, is observed in honour of
the elephant-headed god Ganhsa, a particular favorite of Maharashtra. Durga-puja
("homage to DurgaT), Asvina S. 7-10, is special to Bengal, in honour of the
destructive and creative goddess Durga. Dasahra ("ten days"), or Dussera, Asvina 7-
10, is parallel to Durga-puja, celebrating Rama's victory over Ravana, and
traditionally the beginning of the warring season.
Laksmipuja ("homage to Laksmi"), Asvina S. 15, is the date on which commercial
books are closed, new annual records begun, and business paraphernalia honored; for
Laksmi is the goddess of good fortune.
Dipavali, Diwali ("strings of lights"), Karttika K. 15 and S. 1, is the festival of lights,
when light is carried from the waning to the waxing fortnight and presents are
exchanged. Maha-sivaratri ("great night of Siva"), Magha K. 13, is when the
dangerous but, if placated, benevolent god Siva is honored on the blackest night of the
month. Holi (name of a demoness), Phalguna S. 14, is a fertility and role-changing
festival, scene of great fun-poking at superiors. Dolayatra ("swing festival"), Phalguna
S. 15, is the scene of the famous hook-swinging rites of Orissa. Guru Nanak Jayanti,
Karttika S. 15, is the birthday of Nanak, the founder of the sect of Sikhism.
The Eras
Not before the first century BC is there any evidence that the years of events were
recorded in well-defined eras, whether by cycles, as the Olympic Games in Greece
and the tenures of consuls in Rome, or the Roman year dating from the foundation of
the city. Perhaps under outside influence, the recording of eras was begun at various
times, but these were without universal appeal, and few have remained influential.
Among those are (1) the Vikrama era, begun 58 BC; (2) the Saka era, begun AD 78
(these two are the most commonly used); (3) the Gupta era, begun AD 320; (4) the
Harsa era, begun AD 606. All these were dated from some significant historical event.
Of more mythological interest is the Kali era (Kali being the latest and most decadent
period in the system of the four Yugas), which is thought to have started either at
dawn on February 18, 3102 BC, or at midnight between February 17 and 18 in that
The Hindu calendar used in ancient Vedic times has undergone many changes in the
process of regionalization, and today there are several regional Indian calendars, as
well as an Indian national calendar.
Mostly, these are inherited from a system first enunciated in Jyotish Vedanga (one of
the six adjuncts to the Vedas, 12th to 14th century BC), standardized in the Surya
Siddhanta (3rd century) and subsequently reformed by astronomers such as Aryabhata
(499), Varahamihira (6th century), and Bhaskara (12th century). There are differences
and regional variations abound in these computations, but the following is a general
Hindu Calendars Wikipedia

Hindu Theories of Creation

n Hindu philosophy, the existence of the universe is governed by the Trimurti of

Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer) and Shiva (the Destroyer).
The sequence of Avatars of Vishnu- the Dasavatara (Sanskrit: Dasa-ten, Avatara-
incarnation) is generally accepted by most Hindus today as correlating well with
Darwin's theory of evolution, the first Avatar generating from the environment of
Hindus thus do not see much conflict between creation and evolution. An additional
reason for this could also be the Hindu concept of cyclic time, such as yugas, or days
of Brahma in approximately 4.3 billion year cycles (unlike the concept of linear time
in many other religions). In fact, time is represented as Kaala Chakra - the Wheel of
Time. (alchemy wheel)
In Hinduism, nature and all of God's creations are manifestations of Him. He is within
and without his creations, pervading the entire universe and also observing it
externally. Hence all animals and humans have a divine element in them that is
covered by the ignorance and illusions of material or profane existence.
In earlier Vedic thinking, the universe was created by Hiranyagarbha (here interpreted
as 'the golden embryo') or by Prajapati who was born from the Hiranyagarbha (here
interpreted as 'the golden womb'). Prajapati was later identified with the puranic
Brahma. Other gods are credited with acts of creation, primarily the act of propping
apart the sky and the Earth - gods who are said to have done this include Indra, Varuna
and Vishnu.
Another myth which began in late Rig-Vedic times with the Purusha Sukta hymn was
the story of the creation of the universe from the remains of the primaeval cosmic
male Purusha, who had sacrificed himself or been sacrificed by other primaeval
beings (not the most popular Vedic gods because they were said to have been born
from Purusha after the sacrifice) at the Purushamedha yajna.
According to Hindo Mythology creation happened gradually. The universe in
primitive form was made up of Ishwat Tattva, the Ishwar Tattva primarily spread
homogeniously throughout the universe.
Sar veshaktiman and Sarvevyapak, were some other names ofIshwar Tattva.
Purusha and Prakriti identifies as energy and matter, mixing of these two in different
ratios resulted in Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva having great amount of energy and
little matter, Tamas having less energy and big matter, Rajas being in between, are
basic building blocks of our Universe.
Presently they can be interpreted as Electron, Proton and Neutron. These three basic
Gunas in different ratio made five elements, named as Ether, Air, Fire, Water and
Earth. These five elements present in the universe can be observed directly by our Ten
Indriyas, five Gyanendriyans and five Karmendriyans.


The Vedic traditions of India tell us that we are now in the Fourth Age of mankind.
The Vedas call them the "The Golden Age", "The Silver Age", and "The Bronze Age"
and we are now, according to their scriptures in the "The Iron Age". As we approach
the end of the 20th century both Native Americans, Mayans, and
Incans, propheciesclaim that we are coming to the end of an age.
The Vimanas - The Ramayana describes a Vimana as a double-deck, circular
(cylindrical) aircraft with portholes and a dome. It flew with the speed of the wind and
gave forth a melodious sound (a humming noise?). Ancient Indian texts on Vimanas
are so numerous it would take several books to relate what they have to say. The
ancient Indians themselves wrote entire flight manuals on the control of various types
of Vimanas, of which there were basically four: the Shakuna Vimana, the Sundara
Vimana, the Rukma Vimana and the Tripura Vimana.
The secret of constructing aeroplanes, which will not break, which cannot be
cut, will not catch fire, and cannot be destroyed.
The secret of making planes motionless.
The secret of making planes invisible.
The secret of hearing conversations and other sounds in enemy planes.
The secret of receiving photographs of the interior of enemy planes.
The secret of ascertaining the direction of enemy planes approach.
The secret of making persons in enemy planes lose consciousness.
The secret of destroying enemy planes.

Sanskrit texts are filled with references to Gods who fought battles in the sky using
Vimanas equipped with weapons as deadly as any we can deploy in these more
enlightened times. For example, there is a passage in the Ramayana which reads: The
Puspaka car that resembles the Sun and belongs to my brother was brought by the
powerful Ravan; that aerial and excellent car going everywhere at will.... that car
resembling a bright cloud in the sky.
".. and the King [Rama] got in, and the excellent car at the command of the Raghira,
rose up into the higher atmosphere."
In the Mahabharatra, an ancient Indian poem of enormous length, we learn that an
individual named Asura Maya had a Vimana measuring twelve cubits in
circumference, with four strong wheels. The poem is a veritable gold mine of
information relating to conflicts between gods who settled their differences apparently
using weapons as lethal as the ones we are capable of deploying.
Apart from 'blazing missiles', the poem records the use of other deadly weapons.
'Indra's Dart' operated via a circular 'reflector'. When switched on, it produced a 'shaft
of light' which, when focused on any target, immediately 'consumed it with its power'.
In one particular exchange, the hero, Krishna, is pursuing his enemy, Salva, in the sky,
when Salva's Vimana, the Saubha is made invisible in some way. Undeterred, Krishna
immediately fires off a special weapon: 'I quickly laid on an arrow, which killed by
seeking out sound'.
Many other terrible weapons are described, quite matter of factly, in the Mahabharata,
but the most fearsome of all is the one used against the Vrishis.
The narrative records:
Gurkha flying in his swift and powerful Vimana hurled against the three cities of the
Vrishis and Andhakas a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe.
An incandescent column of smoke and fire, as brilliant as ten thousands suns, rose in
all its splendor. It was the unknown weapon, the Iron Thunderbolt, a gigantic
messenger of death which reduced to ashesthe entire race of the Vrishnis and
It is important to note, that these kinds of records are not isolated. They can be cross-
correlated with similiar reports in other ancient civilizations. The after-affects of this
Iron Thunderbolt have an ominously recognizable ring. Apparently, those killed by it
were so burnt that their corpses were unidentifiable. The survivors fared little better,
as it caused their hair and nails to fall out.
Perhaps the most disturbing and challenging, information about these allegedly
mythical Vihmanas in the ancient records is that there are some matter-of-fact records,
describing how to build one. In their way, the instructions are quite precise.
In the Sanskrit Samarangana Sutradhara, it is written: Strong and durable must the
body of the Vihmana be made, like a great flying bird of light material. Inside one
must put the mercury engine with its iron heating apparatus underneath. By means of
the power latent in the mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion, a man
sitting inside may travel a great distance in the sky. The movements of the Vimana are
such that it can vertically ascend, vertically descend, move slanting forwards and
backwards. With the help of the machines human beings can fly in the air and
heavenly beings can come down to earth.
The Hakatha (Laws of the Babylonians) states quite unambiguously: The privilege of
operating a flying machine is great. The knowledge of flight is among the most
ancient of our inheritances. A gift from 'those from upon high'. We received it from
them as a means of saving many lives.
More fantastic still is the information given in the ancient Chaldean work, The Sifrala,
which contains over one hundred pages of technical details on building a flying
machine. It contains words which translate as graphite rod, copper coils, crystal
indicator, vibrating spheres, stable angles, etc.
'Ancient Indian Aircraft Technology' From The Anti-Gravity Handbook by D.Hatcher
Many researchers into the UFO enigma tend to overlook a very important fact. While
it assumed that most flying saucers are of alien, or perhaps Governmental Military
origin, another possible origin of UFOs is ancient India and Atlantis. What we know
about ancient Indian flying vehicles comes from ancient Indian sources; written texts
that have come down to us through the centuries. There is no doubt that most of these
texts are authentic; many are the well known ancient Indian Epics themselves, and
there are literally hundreds of them. Most of them have not even been translated into
English yet from the old sanskrit.
The Indian Emperor Ashoka started a "Secret Society of the Nine Unknown Men":
great Indian scientists who were supposed to catalogue the many sciences. Ashoka
kept their work secret because he was afraid that the advanced science catalogued by
these men, culled from ancient Indian sources, would be used for the evil purpose of
war, which Ashoka was strongly against, having been converted to Buddhism after
defeating a rival army in a bloody battle. The "Nine Unknown Men" wrote a total of
nine books, presumably one each. Book number was "The Secrets of Gravitation!"
This book, known to historians, but not actually seen by them dealt chiefly with
"gravity control." It is presumably still around somewhere, kept in a secret library in
India, Tibet or elsewhere (perhaps even in North America somewhere). One can
certainly understand Ashoka's reasoning for wanting to keep such knowledge a secret,
assuming it exists.
Ashoka was also aware of devastating wars using such advanced vehicles and other
"futuristic weapons" that had destroyed the ancient Indian "Rama Empire" several
thousand years before. Only a few years ago, the Chinese discovered some sanskrit
documents in Lhasa, Tibet and sent them to the University of Chandrigarh to be
translated. Dr. Ruth Reyna of the University said recently that the documents contain
directions for building interstellar spaceships! Their method of propulsion, she said,
was "anti- gravitational" and was based upon a system analogous to that of "laghima,"
the unknown power of the ego existing in man's physiological makeup, "a centrifugal
force strong enough to counteract all gravitational pull." According to Hindu Yogis, it
is this "laghima" which enables a person to levitate.
Dr. Reyna said that on board these machines, which were called "Astras" by the text,
the ancient Indians could have sent a detachment of men onto any planet, according to
the document, which is thought to be thousands of years old. The manuscripts were
also said to reveal the secret of "antima"; "the cap of invisibility" and "garima"; "how
to become as heavy as a mountain of lead." Naturally, Indian scientists did not take
the texts very seriously, but then became more positive about the value of them when
the Chinese announced that they were including certain parts of the data for study in
their space program! This was one of the first instances of a government admitting to
be researching anti-gravity.
The manuscripts did not say definitely that interplanetary travel was ever made but
did mention, of all things, a planned trip to the Moon, though it is not clear whether
this trip was actually carried out. However, one of the great Indian epics,the
Ramayana, does have a highly detailed story in it of a trip to the moon in a Vihmana
(or "Astra"), and in fact details a battle on the moon with an "Asvin" (or Atlantean")
airship. This is but a small bit of recent evidence of anti-gravity and aerospace
technology used by Indians.
To really understand the technology, we must go much further back in time. The so-
called "Rama Empire" of Northern India and Pakistan developed at least fifteen
thousand years ago on the Indian subcontinent and was a nation of many large,
sophisticated cities, many of which are still to be found in the deserts of Pakistan,
northern, and western India. Rama existed, apparently, parallel to the Atlantean
civilization in the mid- Atlantic Ocean, and was ruled by "enlightened Priest-Kings"
who governed the cities.
The seven greatest capital cities of Rama were known in classical Hindu texts as The
Seven Rishi Cities According to ancient Indian texts, the people had flying machines
which were called "Vimanas." The ancient Indian epic describes a Vimana as a
doubledeck, circular aircraft with portholes and a dome, much as we would imagine a
flying saucer. It flew with the "speed of the wind" and gave forth a"melodious sound."
There were at least four different types of Vimanas; some saucer shaped, others like
long cylinders ("cigar shaped airships"). The ancient Indian texts on Vimanas are so
numerous, it would take volumes to relate what they had to say. The ancient Indians,
who manufactured these ships themselves, wrote entire flight manuals on the control
of the various types of Vimanas, many of which are still in existence, and some have
even been translated into English.
The Samara Sutradhara is a scientific treatise dealing with every possible angle of air
travel in a Vimana. There are 230 stanzas dealing with the construction, take-off,
cruising for thousand of miles, normal and forced landings, and even possible
collisions with birds. In 1875, the Vaimanika Sastra, a fourth century B.C. text written
by Bharadvajy the Wise, using even older texts as his source, was rediscovered in a
temple in India.
It dealt with the operation of Vimanas and included information on the steering,
precautions for long flights, protection of the airships from storms and lightning and
how to switch the drive to "solar energy" from a free energy source which sounds like
"anti-gravity." The Vaimanika Sastra (or Vymaanika-Shaastra) has eight chapters with
diagrams, describing three types of aircraft, including apparatuses that could neither
catch on fire nor break. It also mentions 31 essential parts of these vehicles and 16
materials from which they are constructed, which absorb light and heat; for which
reason they were considered suitable for the construction of Vimanas.
This document has been translated into English and is available by writing the
publisher: Vymaanidashaastra Aeronautics by Maharishi Bharadwaaja, translated into
English and edited, printed and published by Mr. G. R.Josyer, Mysore, India, 1979.
Mr. Josyer is the director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Investigation,
located in Mysore. There seems to be no doubt that Vimanas were powered by some
sort of "anti-gravity." Vimanas took off vertically, and were capable of hovering in the
sky, like a modern helicopter or dirigible. Bharadvajy the Wise refers to no less than
seventy authorities and 10 experts of air travel in antiquity.
These sources are now lost. Vimanas were kept in a Vimana Griha, a kind of hanger,
and were sometimes said to be propelled by a yellowish-white liquid, and sometimes
by some sort of mercury compound, though writers seem confused in this matter. It is
most likely that the later writers on Vimanas, wrote as observers and from earlier
texts, and were understandably confused on the principle of their propulsion. The
"yellowish- white liquid" sounds suspiciously like gasoline, and perhaps Vimanas had
a number of different propulsion sources, including combustion engines and even
"pulse-jet" engines.
It is interesting to note, that the Nazis developed the first practical pulse-jet engines
for their V-8 rocket "buzz bombs." Hitler and the Nazi staff were exceptionally
interested in ancient India and Tibet and sent expeditions to both these places yearly,
starting in the 30's, in order to gather esoteric evidence that they did so, and perhaps it
was from these people that the Nazis gained some of their scientific information!
According to the Dronaparva, part of the Mahabarata, and the Ramayana, one Vimana
described was shaped like a sphere and born along at great speed on a mighty wind
generated by mercury. It moved like a UFO, going up, down, backwards and forwards
as the pilot desired.
In another Indian source, the Samar, Vimanas were "iron machines, well-knit and
smooth, with a charge of mercury that shot out of the back in the form of a roaring
flame." Another work called the Samaranganasutradhara describes how the vehicles
were constructed. It is possible that mercury did have something to do with the
propulsion, or more possibly, with the guidance system. Curiously, Soviet scientists
have discovered what they call "ageold instruments used in navigating cosmic
vehicles" in caves in Turkestan and the Gobi Desert. The "devices" are hemispherical
objects of glass or porcelain, ending in a cone with a drop of mercury inside.
It is evident that ancient Indians flew around in these vehicles, all over Asia, to
Atlantis presumably; and even, apparently, to South America. Writing found at
Mohenjodaro in Pakistan (presumed to be one of the "Seven Rishi Cities of the Rama
Empire") and still undeciphered, has also been found in one other place in the world:
Easter Island! Writing on Easter Island, called Rongo-Rongo writing, is also
undeciphered, and is uncannily similar to the Mohenjodaro script.
Was Easter Island an air base for the Rama Empire's Vimana route? (At the Mohenjo-
Daro Vimana-drome, as the passenger walks down the concourse, he hears the sweet,
melodic sound of the announcer over the loudspeaker,"Rama Airways flight number
seven for Bali, Easter Island, Nazca, and Atlantis is now ready for boarding.
Passengers please proceed to gate number..") in Tibet, no small distance, and speaks
of the "fiery chariot" thus: "Bhima flew along in his car, resplendent as the sun and
loud as thunder... The flying chariot shone like a flame in the night sky of summer... it
swept by like a comet... It was as if two suns were shining. Then the chariot rose up
and all the heaven brightened."
In the Mahavira of Bhavabhuti, a Jain text of the eighth century culled from older
texts and traditions, we read: "An aerial chariot, the Pushpaka, conveys many people
to the capital of Ayodhya. The sky is full of stupendous flying-machines, dark as
night,but picked out by lights with a yellowish glare." The Vedas, ancient Hindu
poems, thought to be the oldest of all the Indian texts, describe Vimanas of various
shapes and sizes: the "ahnihotravimana" with two engines, the"elephant-vimana" with
more engines, and other types named after the kingfisher, ibis and other animals.
Unfortunately, Vimanas, like most scientific discoveries, were ultimately used for war.
Atlanteans used their flying machines, "Vailixi," a similar type of aircraft, to literally
try and subjugate the world, it would seem, if Indian texts are to be believed.
The Atlanteans, known as "Asvins" in the Indian writings, were apparently even more
advanced technologically than the Indians, and certainly of a more war-like
temperament. Although no ancient texts on Atlantean Vailixi are known to exist, some
information has come down through esoteric, "occult" sources which describe their
flying machines.
Similar, if not identical to Vimanas, Vailixi were generally "cigar shaped" and had the
capability of manoeuvering underwater as well as in the atmosphere or even outer
space. Other vehicles, like Vimanas, were saucer shaped, and could apparently also be
According to Eklal Kueshana, author of "The Ultimate Frontier," in an article he
wrote in 1966:
Vailixi were first developed in Atlantis 20,000 years ago, and the most common ones
are "saucer shaped of generally trapezoidal cross- section with three hemispherical
engine pods on the underside. They use a mechanical antigravity device driven by
engines developing approximately 80,000 horse power. The Ramayana, Mahabarata
and other texts speak of the hideous war that took place, some ten or twelve thousand
years ago between Atlantis and Rama using weapons of destruction that could not be
imagined by readers until the second half of this century.
The ancient Mahabharata, one of the sources on Vimanas, goes on to tell the awesome
destructiveness of the war: "...
(the weapon was) a single projectilecharged with all the power of the Universe. An
incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as the thousand suns rose in all its
splendor. An iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes
the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. The corpses were so burned as to be
The hair and nails fell out; pottery broke without apparent cause, and the birds turned
white.... after a few hours all foodstuffs were infected.... to escape from this fire, the
soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment..." It
would seem that the Mahabharata is describing an atomic war! References like this
one are not isolated; but battles, using a fantastic array of weapons and aerial vehicles
are common in all the epic Indian books. One even describes a Vimana-Vailix battle
on the Moon! The above section very accurately describes what an atomic explosion
would look like and the effects of the radioactivity on the population. Jumping into
water is the only respite.
When the Rishi City of Mohenjodaro was excavated by archaeologists in the last
century, they found skeletons just lying in the streets, some of them holding hands, as
if some great doom had suddenly overtaken them. These skeletons are among the
most radioactive ever found, on a par with those found at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Ancient cities whose brick and stonewalls have literally been vitrified, that is-fused
together, can be found in India, Ireland, Scotland, France, Turkey and other places.
There is no logical explanation for the vitrification of stone forts and cities, except
from an atomic blast.
Futhermore, at Mohenjo-Daro, a well planned city laid on a grid, with a plumbing
system superior to those used in Pakistan and India today, the streets were littered
with "black lumps of glass." These globs of glass were discovered to be clay pots that
had melted under intense heat! With the cataclysmic sinking of Atlantis and the
wiping out of Rama with atomic weapons, the world collapsed into a "stone age" of
sorts, and modern history picks up a few thousand years later Yet, it would seem that
not all the Vimanas and Vailixi of Rama and Atlantis were gone. Built to last for
thousands of years, many of them would still be in use, as evidenced by Ashoka's
"Nine Unknown Men" and the Lhasa manuscript.
That secret societies or "Brotherhoods" of exceptional, "enlightened" human beings
would have preserved these inventions and the knowledge of science, history, etc.,
does not seem surprising. Many well known historical personages including Jesus,
Buddah, Lao Tzu, Confucious, Krishna, Zoroaster, Mahavira, Quetzalcoatl,
Akhenaton, Moses, and more recent inventors and of course many other people who
will probably remain anonymous, were probably members of such a secret
It is interesting to note that when Alexander the Great invaded India more than two
thousand years ago, his historians chronicled that at one point they were attacked by
"flying,fiery shields" that dove at his army and frightened the cavalry. These "flying
saucers" did not use any atomic bombs or beam weapons on Alexander's army
however, perhaps out of benevolence, and Alexander went on to conquer India.
It has been suggested by many writers that these "Brotherhoods" keep some of their
Vimanas and Vailixi in secret caverns in Tibet or some other place is Central Asia, and
the Lop Nor Desert in western China is known to be the center of a great UFO
mystery. Perhaps it is here that many of the airships are still kept, in underground
bases much as the Americans, British and Soviets have built around the world in the
past few decades. Still, not all UFO activity can be accounted for by old Vimanas
making trips to the Moon for some reason.
Unknown alloys have been revealed in the ancient palm leaf manuscripts. The writer
and Sanskrit scholar Subramanyam Iyer has spent many years of his life deciphering
old collections of palm leaves found in the villages of his native Karnataka in southern
One of the palm leaf manuscripts they intend to decipher is the Amsu Bodhini, which,
according to an anonymous text of 1931, contains information about the planets; the
different kinds of light, heat, color, and electromagnetic fields; the methods used to
construct machines capable of attracting solar rays and, in turn, of analysing and
separating their energy components; the possibility of conversing with people in
remote places and sending messages by cable; and the manufacture of machines to
transport people to other planets! Contributed by John Burrows

Another Myth
This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive
marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep
Then the Divine Self-existent, himself indiscernible but making all this, the great
elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the
He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and
eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own
He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought
created the waters, and placed his seed in them.
That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself
was born as Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world....
The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his
thought divided it into two halves;
And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle
sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters.
From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal, likewise
from the mind ego, which possesses the function of self-consciousness and is lordly.
Moreover, the great one, the soul, and all products affected by the three qualities, and,
in their order, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation.
But, joining minute particles even of those six, which possess measureless power,
with particles of himself, he created all beings.
The India myth is essentially the same as the stories of Ziusudra, Utnapishtim, and
Noah. Like those flood heroes, Manu (the protagonist) receives supernatural help and
is saved by remaining in a ship until he is able to tie up on an Indian version of Mount
Ararat. This story is told in the Shatapatha-Brahmana.

A dakini (Sanskrit: "sky dancer") is a Tantric priestess of ancient India who "carried
the souls of the dead to the sky". This Buddhist figure is particularly upheld in Tibetan
Buddhism. The dakini is a female being of generally volatile temperament, who acts
as a muse for spiritual practice. Dakinis can be likened to elves, angels, or other such
supernatural beings, and are symbolically representative of testing one's awareness
and adherence to Buddhist tantric sadhana.
According to legend, members of the Indian royal castes and the wealthy nobility
brought their deceased to the far North to visit the Shrine of the Dakini (located at the
foothills of the Himalaya). Other legends mention a Tibetan myth which says dakini
first appeared in a remote area "pure of man".
Dakini are timeless, inorganic, immortal, non-human beings who have co-existed
since the very beginning with the Spiritual Energy. In some New Age belief systems,
they are angelic. This New Age paradigm differs from that of the Judeo-Christian by
not insisting on angels being bona fide servants of God.
Moreover, an angel is the Western equivalent of a dakini. The behavior of dakini has
always been revelatory and mysterious; they respond to the state of spiritual energy
within individuals. Love is their usual domain - one explanation for dakini or angels
supposedly living in the sky or heaven. Manifestations of dakini in human form occur
because they supposedly can assume any form. Most often they appear as a human
female. By convention, a male of this type is called a 'daka'.
In Tibetan Buddhism and other schools closely related to Yogacara and Vajrayana
practises, a dakini is considered a supernatural being who tests a practitioner's abilities
and commitments. Many stories of the Mahasiddhas in Tibet contain passages where a
dakini will come to perturb the would-be Mahasiddha.
When the dakini's test has been fulfilled and passed, the practitioner is often then
recognised as a Mahasiddha, and often is elevated into the Paradise of the Dakinis, a
place of enlightened bliss. It should be noted that while dakinis are often depicted as
beautiful and naked, they are not sexual symbols, but rather natural ones. There are
instances where a dakini has come to test a practitioner's control over their sexual
desires, but the dakini itself is not a being of passion. Tantric sex may involve a
"helper" dakini - a human female trained in Tantra Yoga - or an "actual" dakini. Both
increase the level of erotic pleasure for the sexual participants by helping them focus
on a non-physical state of spiritual joy and the physical pleasure of sex at the same
Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a
dancing posture, often holding a skull cup filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of
life in one hand, and a curved knife in the other. She may wear a garland of human
skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and
hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on
top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance.
Practitioners often claim to hear the clacking of her bone adornments as the dakinis
indulge in their vigorous movement. Indeed these unrestrained damsels appear to
revel in freedom of every kind.
There is a connection between Dakini goddess energies and all of creational feminine
Some people believe the Dakini language is linked to that of Atlantis - the trilling of
the high priestesses in the language of Vril.
Dakini is the Goddess of Life's Turning Points. Distillations of archetypal emanations,
the Dakinis represent those essence principles within the self which are capable of
transformation to a higher octave. Dakinis are 'sky dancers,' heavenly angels devoted
to the truth (dharma), woman consorts of and partners with the god-creators of India
and Tibet. Dakini serves as instigator, inspirer, messenger, even trickster, pushing the
tantrika (aspirant) across the barriers to enlightenment.
Dakini's wrathful aspect is depicted by the mala of skulls. Her peaceful aspect is
depicted by the lotus frond. Like Hindu goddess Kali, her role is to transmute
suffering. Her left hand holds high the lamp of liberation. Dakini represent the sky
being a womb symbol connoting emptiness, creativity, potentiality. They are objects
of desire and also carriers of the cosmic energies that continually fertilize our human
sphere. Dakinis bring us pleasure and spirituality. They provoke the enervating lust
that brings life into being. They are poetic and cosmic souls, put here to tempt us to
It is said that the Dakinis have the power to instantly entrap mere mortals with their
gaze. The mirror of your mind is the mysterious home of the Dakini - your right brain
- your feminine side. The secret Dakinis guard the deeper mysteries of the self.
Representing upsurging inspiration and non-conceptual understanding, Dakinis invite
you to cut free of all limitations. They are unconventional, unexpected, spontaneous,
dancing in great bliss, at one with divine truth. In the eastern tradition, a cycle of 64
Dakinis/Yoginis represents a complete cosmogram for the transformation of the self,
embodying the total energy cycle of creation as depicted by the dance of Gnosis, the
wisdom and energy of the divine feminine. In representing this complete cycle we
have the opportunity of evoking not only the Goddess, but of manifesting the totality
of the Great Goddess herself.
Yogini/Dakini temples flourished in India around the 9th through the 12th centuries.
Erected in remote places, especially on hilltops, the temples were circular enclosures
open to the sky. Around the inner circumference were 64 niches which housed
exquisite stone carvings representing various aspects of the Goddess energy, creating
a circular mandala around a central image of Shiva, symbol of Cosmic Consciousness
and the one-pointedness of yogic discipline.

Hindu philosophy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Indian
philosophy. (Discuss)

Part of a series on

Hindu philosophy


Samkhya Yoga Nyaya Vaisheshika Purva

Mimamsa Vedanta (Advaita Vishishtadvaita Dvaita Achint

ya Bheda Abheda)



Gautama Jaimini Kanada Kapila Markandeya Pataj

ali Valmiki Vyasa



Shankara Basava Dnyaneshwar Chaitanya Kabir Ma

dhusudana Madhva Namdeva Nimbarka Ramanuja

Vedanta Desika Tukaram Tulsidas Vallabha


Aurobindo Coomaraswamy Dayananda

Saraswati Gandhi Krishnananda Narayana

Guru Prabhupada Ramakrishna Ramana

Maharshi Radhakrishnan Sivananda Vivekananda Yog

This box: view talk edit

Hindu philosophy is divided into six stika ("orthodox") schools of thought[1], or darshanas (literally,
"views"), which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. The other three nstika("heterodox")
schools, which do not accept the Vedas as supreme do not form part of Hindu philosophy.
The stika schools are:

1. Sankhya, a strongly dualist theoretical exposition of mind and matter.

2. Yoga, a school emphasizing meditation closely based on Sankhya

3. Nyaya or logics

4. Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism

5. Mimamsa, an anti-ascetic and anti-mysticist school of orthopraxy

6. Vedanta, opposing Vedic ritualism in favour of mysticism. Vedanta came to be the dominant
current of Hinduism in the post-medieval period.

The nstika schools are:

1. Buddhism

2. Jainism

3. Crvka, a skeptical materialist school, which died out in the 15th century and whose primary
texts have been lost.

In Hindu history, the distinction of these six schools was current in the Gupta period "golden age" of
Hinduism. With the disappearance of Vaishshika and Mimamsa, it was obsolete by the later Middle Ages,
when the various sub-schools of Vedanta (Dvaita "dualism", Advaita "non-dualism" and others) began to
rise to prominence as the main divisions of religious philosophy. Nyaya survived into the 17th century
as Navya Nyaya "Neo-Nyaya", while Sankhya gradually lost its status as an independent school, its
tenets absorbed into Yoga and Vedanta.


1 Samkhya

2 Yoga

3 Nyaya

4 Vaisheshika

5 Purva Mimamsa

6 Vedanta

o 6.1 Advaita

o 6.2 Visishtadvaita

o 6.3 Dvaita

o 6.4 Dvaitadvaita (Bhedabheda)

o 6.5 Shuddhadvaita

o 6.6 Acintya Bheda Abheda

7 See also

8 Notes

9 References

10 Further reading

11 External links


Main article: Samkhya

Samkhya or Sankhya is the oldest of the orthodox philosophical systems in Hinduism. Samkhya
postulates that everything in reality stems from purusha (Sanskrit: , self, atma or soul)
and prakriti (matter, creative agency or energy). There are many living souls (Jeevatmas) and they
possess consciousness. Prakriti consists of three dispositions known as qualities (gunas): activity (rajas),
inactivity (tamas) and steadiness (sattva) which arises when the two other gunas are held in equilibrium.
Because of the intertwined relationship between the soul and these dispositions, an imbalance in
disposition causes the world to evolve. Liberation of the soul happens when it realizes that it is above and
beyond these three dispositions. Samkhya is a dualistic philosophy, but there are differences between
Samkhya and other forms of dualism. In the West, dualism is between the mind and the body, whereas in
Samkhya it is between the soul and matter.[clarification needed] The concept of the atma (soul) is different from
the concept of the mind. Soul is absolute reality that is all-pervasive, eternal, indivisible, attributeless, pure
consciousness. It is non-matter and is beyond intellect. Originally, Samkhya was not theistic, but in
confluence with Yoga it developed a theistic variant.

In Indian philosophy, Yoga is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools.[2] The Yoga
philosophical system is closely allied with the Samkhya school.[3] The Yoga school as expounded by
Patanjali accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic than the Samkhya, as
evidenced by the addition of a divine entity to the Samkhya's twenty-five elements of reality.[4][5] The
parallels between Yoga and Samkhya were so close that Max Mllersays that "the two philosophies were
in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." [6] The
intimate relationship between Samkhya and Yoga is explained by Heinrich Zimmer:
"These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline. Skhya provides a basic
theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-
operation in a state of bondage (bandha), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release
(moka), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, and outlines practical
techniques for the gaining of release, or 'isolation-integration' (kaivalya)."[7]

The foundational text of the Yoga school is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, who is regarded as the founder
of the formal Yoga philosophy.[8] The Sutras of the Yoga philosophy are ascribed to Patanjali, who may
have been, as Max Mller explains, "the author or representative of the Yoga-philosophy without being
necessarily the author of the Sutras."[9]

The Nyaya school is based on the Nyaya Sutras. They were written by Aksapada Gautama, probably in
the second century B.C.E. The most important contribution made by this school is its methodology. This
methodology is based on asystem of logic that has subsequently been adopted by the majority of the
Indian schools. This is comparable to the relationship between Western science and philosophy, which
was derived largely from Aristotelian logic.

Nevertheless, Nyaya was seen by its followers as more than logical in its own right. They believed that
obtaining valid knowledge was the only way to gain release from suffering, and they took great pains to
identify valid sources of knowledge and distinguish these from mere false opinions. According to Nyaya,
there are exactly four sources of knowledge: perception, inference, comparison, and testimony.
Knowledge obtained through each of these is either valid or invalid. Nyaya developed several criteria of
validity. In this sense, Nyaya is probably the closest Indian equivalent to analytic philosophy. The later
Naiyanikas gave logical proofs for the existence and uniqueness of Ishvara in response to Buddhism,
which, at that time, was fundamentally non-theistic. An important later development in Nyaya was the
system of Navya-Nyya.

The Vaisheshika school was founded by Kanada and postulates an atomic pluralism. All objects in the
physical universe are reducible to certain types of atoms, and Brahman is regarded as the fundamental
force that causes consciousness in these atoms.

Although the Vaisheshika school developed independently from the Nyaya, the two eventually merged
because of their closely related metaphysical theories. In its classical form, however, the Vaisheshika
school differed from the Nyaya in one crucial respect: where Nyaya accepted four sources of valid
knowledge, the Vaisheshika accepted only twoperception and inference.
[edit]Purva Mimamsa
The main objective of the Purva Mimamsa school was to establish the authority of the Vedas.
Consequently, this school's most valuable contribution to Hinduism was its formulation of the rules of
Vedic interpretation. Its adherents believe that one must have unquestionable faith in the Vedas and
perform the yajas, or fire-sacrifices, regularly. They believe in the power of the mantras and yajas to
sustain all the activity of the universe. In keeping with this belief, they place great emphasis on dharma,
which consists of the performance of Vedic rituals.

The Mimamsa accepted the logical and philosophical teachings of the other schools, but felt they did not
sufficiently emphasize attention to right action. They believed that the other schools of thought that aimed
for release (moksha) are not allowed for complete freedom from desire and selfishness, because the very
striving for liberation stemmed from a simple desire to be free. According to Mimamsa thought, only by
acting in accordance with the prescriptions of the Vedas may one attain salvation.

The Mimamsa school later shifted its views and began to teach the doctrines of Brahman and freedom. Its
adherents then advocated the release or escape of the soul from its constraints through enlightened
activity. Although Mimamsa does not receive much scholarly attention, its influence can be felt in the life
of the practising Hindu, because all Hindu ritual, ceremony, and law is influenced by this school.

The Vedanta, or later Mimamsa school, concentrates on the philosophical teachings of

the Upanishads rather than the ritualistic injunctions of the Brahmanas.

While the traditional Vedic rituals continued to be practised as meditative and propitiatory rites, a more
knowledge-centered understanding began to emerge. These were mystical aspects of Vedic religion that
focused on meditation, self-discipline, and spiritual connectivity, more than traditional ritualism.
The more abstruse Vedanta is the essence of the Vedas, as encapsulated in the Upanishads. Vedantic
thought drew on Vedic cosmology, hymns and philosophy. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is believed to
have appeared as far back as 3,000 years ago. While thirteen or so Upanishads are accepted as
principal, over a hundred exist. The most significant contribution of Vedantic thought is the idea that self-
consciousness is continuous with and indistinguishable from consciousness of Brahman.

The aphorisms of the Vedanta sutras are presented in a cryptic, poetic style, which allows for a variety of
interpretations. Consequently, the Vedanta separated into six sub-schools, each interpreting the texts in
its own way and producing its own series of sub-commentaries. Four of them are given here.

Advaita literally means "non duality." Its first great consolidator was Adi Shankaracharya (788-820), who
continued the line of thought of some of the Upanishadic teachers, and that of his teacher's teacher
Gaudapada. By analysing the three states of experiencewaking, dreaming, and deep sleephe
established the singular reality of Brahman, in which the soul and Brahman are one and the same. He
saw this form as that of Vishnu. He wrote a thesis on the Vishnu Sahasranama (1008 names of Vishnu),
and also composed poems like the Bhaja Govindham instructing people to think about Govinda (Vishnu)
all the time. Ishvara is the manifestation of Brahman to human minds under the influence of an illusionary
power called Avidya.
Main article: Visishtadvaita

Ramanujacharya (1040-1137) was the foremost proponent of the concept of the Supreme Being having a
definite form, name, and attributes. He saw this form as that of Vishnu, and taught that reality has three
aspects: Vishnu, soul (jiva), and matter (prakrti). Vishnu is the only independent reality, while souls and
matter are dependent on Vishnu for their existence. Thus, Ramanuja's system is known as qualified non-

Madhvacharya (1238-1317) identified Brahman with Vishnu, but his view of reality was pluralistic.
According to Dvaita, there are three ultimate realities: Vishnu, soul, and matter. Five distinctions are
made: (1) Vishnu is distinct from souls; (2) Vishnu is distinct from matter; (3) Souls are distinct from
matter; (4) A soul is distinct from another soul, and (5) Matter is distinct from other matter. Souls are
eternal and are dependent upon the will of Vishnu. This theology attempts to address the problem of evil
with the idea that souls are not created.
[edit]Dvaitadvaita (Bhedabheda)

Dvaitadvaita was proposed by Nimbarka, a 13th century Vaishnava Philosopher from the Andhra region.
According to this philosophy there are three categories of existence: Brahman, soul, and matter. Soul and
matter are different from Brahman in that they have attributes and capacities different from Brahman.
Brahman exists independently, while soul and matter are dependent. Thus soul and matter have an
existence that is separate yet dependent. Further, Brahman is a controller, the soul is the enjoyer, and
matter the thing enjoyed. Also, the highest object of worship is Krishna and his consort Radha, attended
by thousands of gopis, or cowherdesses; of the celestial Vrindavana; and devotion consists in self-

Shuddhadvaita was proposed by Vallabhacharya (1479 - 1531), who came from the Andhra region but
eventually settled in Gujarat.
[edit]Acintya Bheda Abheda
Main article: Achintya Bheda Abheda

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534), was stating that the soul or energy of God is both distinct and non-
distinct from God, whom he identified as Krishna, Govinda, and that this, although unthinkable, may be
experienced through a process of loving devotion (bhakti).He followed the Dvaita concept of Sri Madhva.
This philosophy of "inconceivable oneness and difference" is followed by a number of modern Gaudiya
Vaishnava movements, including ISKCON. ISKCON has recently participated in bringing the academic
study of Krishna-related philosophies into Western academia through the theological discourse
on Krishnology.
Further information: Svayam bhagavan

[edit]See also
Hinduism portal

Indian philosophy

Hindu idealism

stika and nstika

Buddhist philosophy

Buddhism and Hinduism

Kashmir Shaivism

1. ^ For an overview of the six orthodox schools, with detail on the grouping of schools, see: Radhakrishnan and

Moore, "Contents", and pp. 453-487.

2. ^ For a brief overview of the Yoga school of philosophy see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.

3. ^ For close connection between Yoga philosophy and Samkhya, see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.
4. ^ For Yoga acceptance of Samkhya concepts, but with addition of a category for God, see: Radhakrishnan and

Moore, p. 453.

5. ^ For Yoga as accepting the 25 principles of Samkhya with the addition of God, see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.

6. ^ Mller (1899), Chapter 7, "Yoga Philosophy", p. 104.

7. ^ Zimmer (1951), p. 280.

8. ^ For Patanjali as the founder of the philosophical system called Yoga see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 42.

9. ^ Meller (1899), Chapter 7, "Yoga Philosophy", pp. 97-98.

10. ^ Lord Chaitanya ( "This is called acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva, inconceivable, simultaneous oneness

and difference."

This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources
remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help
to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where
appropriate. (March 2009)

Chatterjee, Satischandra; Datta, Dhirendramohan (1984). An Introduction to Indian

Philosophy (Eighth Reprint Edition ed.). Calcutta: University of Calcutta.
Meller, Max (1899). Six Systems of Indian Philosophy; Samkhya and Yoga, Naya and
Vaiseshika. Calcutta: Susil Gupta (India) Ltd.. ISBN 0-7661-4296-5. Reprint edition; Originally
published under the title of The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy.
Radhakrishnan, S.; Moore, CA (1967). A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Princeton. ISBN 0-
Zimmer, Heinrich (1951). Philosophies of India. New York, New York: Princeton University
Press. ISBN 0-691-01758-1. Bollingen Series XXVI; Edited by Joseph Campbell.
[edit]Further reading
Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996. ISBN
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton
University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4.
Rambachan, Anantanand. "The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity." 2006.

Zilberman, David B., The Birth of Meaning in Hindu Thought. D. Reidel Publishing Company,
Dordrecht, Holland, 1988. ISBN 90-277-2497-0. Chapter 1. "Hindu Systems of Thought as Epistemic
Hindu Prophecies

From the Puranas:

Apocalypse for the Hindu is the natural ending of the world in the fourth age, the Kali
This referes to one of a series of apocalypses, each of which marks the end of one
cycle and the beginning of another creation. The central figure in the story is Vishnu,
the preserver God, into whose self the world is absorbed before being born again.
Vishnu has already saved humanity on a number of occasions, symbolically appearing
as a savior in many different forms. It is said that He will appear again soon, as Kalki,
a white horse, destined to destroy the present world and to take humanity to a
different, higher plane.
All kings occupying the earth in the Kali Age will be wanting in tranquillity, strong in
anger, taking pleasure at all times in lying and dishonesty, inflicting death on women,
children, and cows, prone to take the paltry possessions of others, with character that
is mostly vial, rising to power and soon falling.
They will be short-lived, ambitious, of little virtue, and greedy. People will follow the
customs of others and be adulterated with them; peculiar, undisciplined barbarians
will be vigorously supported by rulers. Because they go on living with perversion,
they will be ruined.
Dharma becomes very weak in the Kali Age. People commit sin in mind, speech, and
Quarrels, plague, fatal diseases, famines, drought, and calamities appear. Testimonies
and proofs have no certainty. There is no criterion left when the Kali Age settles
People become poorer in vigor and luster.
They are wicked, full of anger, sinful, false, and avaricious.
Bad ambitions, bad education, bad dealings, and bad earnings excite fear.
The whole batch becomes greedy and untruthful.
Many sudras will become kings, and many heretics will be seen.
There will arise various sects; sannyasins wearing clothes colored red.
Many profess to have supreme knowledge because, thereby, they will easily earn their
In the Kali Age, there will be many false religionists.
India will become desolate by repeated calamities, short lives, and various diseases.
Everyone will be miserable owing to the dominance of vice and Tamoguna.
People will freely commit abortion.
Earth will be valued only for her mineral treasures.
Money alone will confer nobility.
Power will be the sole definition of virtue.
Pleasure will be the only reason for marriage.
Lust will be the only reason for womanhood.
Falsehood will win out in disputes.
Being dry of water will be the only definition of land.
Praise worthiness will be measured by accumulated wealth. I
Propriety will be considered good conduct, and only feebleness will be the reason for
Boldness and arrogance will be equivalent to scholarship.
Only those without wealth will show honesty.
Just a bath will amount to purification, and charity will be the only virtue.
Abduction will be marriage.
Simply to be well dressed will signify propriety.
Any hard-to-reach water will be deemed a pilgrimage site.
The pretense of greatness will be the proof of it, and powerful men with many severe
faults will rule over all the classes on Earth.
Oppressed by their excessively greedy rulers, people will hide in valleys between
mountains, where they will gather honey, vegetables, roots, fruits, birds, flowers and
so forth.
Suffering from cold, wind, heat and rain, they will put on clothes made of tree bark
and leaves.
And no one will live as long as twenty-three years.
Thus in the Kali Age humankind will be utterly destroyed.
Hindu Scriptures
Hindu scripture is overwhelmingly written in Sanskrit. Indeed, much of the
morphology and linguistic philosophy inherent in the learning of Sanskrit is
inextricably linked to study of the Vedas and relevant Hindu texts. Hindu scripture is
divided into two categories: Shruti that which is heard (i.e. revelation) and Smriti
that which is remembered (i.e. tradition, not revelation). The Vedas constituting the
former category are considered scripture by all Hindus. The post-Vedic Hindu
scriptures form the latter category; the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are notable
epics considered scripture by many sects. A sort of cross-over between the religious
epics and Upanishads of the Vedas is the Bhagavad Gita, considered to be revealed
scripture by almost all Hindus today.
Hindu texts are typically seen to revolve around many levels of reading, namely the
gross or physical, the subtle, and the supramental. This allows for many levels of
understanding as well, implying that the truth of the texts can only be realized with the
spiritual advancement of the reader.

The Vedas
The Vedas are referred to as the Shruti. Scholars who have made a study of world
scriptures maintain that the Vedas are the oldest extant texts. The ideas expressed in
the Vedas were traditionally handed down orally from father to son and from teacher
to disciple. Therefore, these ideas had been in circulation for a long time before their
codification and compilation, which are attributed to a Rishi named Veda Vyasa
(literally, "the splitter of the Vedas," ). He was named that way as it was he who was
accredited with forming the large mass of knowledge and hymns of the Vedas and
'splitting' them into comprehensible sections for the rest of humanity. On the basis of
both internal and external evidence, scholars have suggested various dates for the
origin of the Vedas, ranging from approximately 1000 BC to as far back as 5000 BC,
with most scholarship accepting a range between 1200 and 1400 BC.

The Upanishads
While the Upanishads are indeed classed within the fold of the "Vedas," their actual
importance to Hindu thought has far exceeded that of possibly any other set of Hindu
scriptures, and even resulted in the Bhagavad Gita, which is a self-proclaimed yoga
upanishad. Thus, they deserve a look that is independent from the samhitas and
brahamans, whose excessive ritualism the Upanishads famously rebelled against.
They form Vedanta and are the basis of much of Classical Hindu thought.
The Upanishads ("Sittings Near [a Teacher]") are part of the Hindu Shruti; these
religious scriptures primarily discuss philosophy and "cosmic reality"; they also
contain transcripts of various debates or discussions. There are 123 books argued to be
part of the Upanishads; however, only 13 are accepted by all Hindus as primary. They
are commentaries on the Vedas and their branch of Hinduism is called Vedanta. See
Upanishads for a much more detailed look at the mystic backbone of Hinduism.
The Upanishads are acknowledged by scholars and philosophers from both East and
West, from Schrdinger, Thoreau and Emerson to Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma
Gandhi and Aurobindo Ghosh, to be superlatively beautiful in poetry and rich in

Post-Vedic Hindu scriptures

The new books that appeared afterwards were called Smriti. Smrti literature includes
Itihasas (epics like Ramayana -- Mahabharata) -- Puranas (mythological
texts), Agamas (theological treatises) and Darshanas (philosophical texts).
The Dharmashastras (law books) are considered by many to form part of the smrti.
From time to time great law-givers (eg Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parashara) emerged,
who codified existing laws and eliminated obsolete ones to ensure that the Hindu way
of life was consistent with both the Vedic spirit and the changing times. However, it
must be noted that the Dharmashastras have long been discarded by many groups of
Hindus, namely those following Vedanta, Bhakti, Yoga and Tantra streams of
The Hindu philosophy reflected in the epics is the doctrine of avatar (incarnation of
God as a human being). The two main avatars of Vishnu that appear in the epics are
Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, and Krishna, the chief protagonist in the
Mahabharata. Unlike the gods of the Vedic Samhitas and the more meditative, mystic
and ethical Upanishadic ideas regarding the all-pervading and formless Brahman, the
avatars in these epics are more developed personalities, loving and righteous
intermediaries between the Supreme Being and mortals.

The Bhagavad Gita

Many a Hindu has said that the most succinct and powerful abbreviation of the
overwhelmingly diverse realm of Hindu thought is to be found in the Bhagavad Gita.
Essentially, it is a microcosm of Vedic, Yogic, Vedantic and even Tantric thought of
the Hindu fold. Composed between the 5th and 2nd centuries BC, the Bhagavad Gita
(literally: Song of the Lord) is a part of the epic poem Mahabharata and is revered in
Hinduism. It is not limited to Vaishnavs, as some people incorrectly assume, since it is
accepted by Tantrics and non-denominational yogins of all Hindu streams as a seminal
text. Indeed, the Bhagavad Gita refers to itself as a 'Yoga Upanishad,' thereby
establishing itself as more than just a text based on Krishna, but rather one that speaks
of truths through Krishna.
What holds the devotee's mind foremost is Krishna's repeated injunction to abandon
the mortal self to the infinite love of the Lord. He spoke to not only to the mind and to
the Hindu's innate sense of Dharma, but called for overwhelming love, that to love
God was to love the immortal Self, and to find some harmony in oneself was to be at
peace with the entire cosmos. It speaks of cultivating both the intellect and the body,
but always to remain equal in perspectival intuition of the greater Self. The Bhagavad
Gita truly sought to be a liberation scripture universal in its message.

Other Hindu texts

Other famous texts of Hinduism include those of the bhakti yoga school (loving
devotion to God) such as the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas (an epic poem on the scale
of Milton's Paradise Lost based on the Ramayana), the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva (a
religious song of the divine love of Krishna and his consort Radha) and the Devi
Mahatmya (the tales of Devi, the Hindu mother goddess, in her many forms as Shakti,
Durga, Parvati, etc.).
Epic Poetry

Sports and Games in Ancient India

Games like, Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Playing Cards, Polo, the martial arts of Judo
and Karate had originated in India and it was from here that these games were
transmitted to foreign countries, where they were further developed.
Several games now familiar across the world owe their origins in India, particularly,
the games of chess, ludo (including ladders and snake), and playing cards. The famous
epic Mahabharata narrates an incidence where a game called Chaturang was played
between two groups of warring cousins.
The age when epic Mahabharata was written is variously dated around 800 BC to
1000 BC. In some form or the other, the game continued till it evolved into chess. H.
J. R. Murry, in his work titled A History of Chess, has concluded that chess is a
descendant of an Indian game played in the 7th century AD.
The game of cards also developed in ancient India. Abul Fazal was a scholar in the
court of Mughal emperor Akbar. In his book, Ain-e-Akbari, which is a mirror of life of
that time, records game of cards is of Indian origins.Martial arts by the name of
Kalaripayattu were a native of Kerala, a state of India. Kalaripayattu consists of a
series of intricate movements that train the body and mind.

Chess originated in ancient India and was known as Chatur-Anga - Meaning 4 bodied,
as it was played by 4 players. From this name we have its current name Shatranj. One
such instance is in the Mahabharata when Pandavas and Kauravas play this game.
Yudhistira the eldest of the Pandavas places his bets on his kingdom, his wife
Draupadi and all other material possessions. And by a malevolent trick he loses to the
Kauravas everything that he had placed his bets on. Consequently to humiliate the
Pandavas, Dushasana one of the evil Kaurava brothers takes hold of Draupadi whom
Yudhisthira has lost to the Kauravas, and tries to disrobe her in front of the assembled
court. The Pandavas though powerful are helpless as they have lost Draupadi and
according to the rules of the game they have no claim on her anymore.
In distress, Draupadi invokes Lord Srikrishna to come to her rescue. And in answer to
her prayers the lord appears and in a miracle sends a continuous stream of apparel to
clothe Draupadi's body. The evil Dushasana tires himself out trying to tear away
Draupadi's clothes but he is powerless against the divine strength of Lord Srikrishna.
After hours of struggling to achieve his evil intention he falls unconscious to the floor.
Draupadi's honor is saved. In deference to Lord Srikrishna's wishes, the Kauravas
relinquish their claim to Draupadi. But in return the Pandavas are obliged to relinquish
their kingdom for fourteen years and go into exile in forests, after which they return
and regain their from the Kauravas, but not before a devastating war is fought
between the two clans on the battlefield of Kurutshetra.
The Mahabharata story throws light on the fact that a game similar to Chess was
played in ancient India. The Mahabharata is variously dated around 800 and 1100
B.C. Thus this game was known in India nearly 3000 years ago. It is the view of some
historians that this game was also used in the allocation of land among different
members of a clan when a new settlement was being established.
The Indian origin of the game of chess is supported even by the Encyclopedia
Britannica according to which, "About 1783-89 Sir. William Jones, in an essay
published in the 2nd Vol. of Asiatic Researches, argued that Hindustan was the cradle
of chess, the game having been known there from time immemorial by the name
Chaturanga, that is, the four angas, or members of an army, which are said in the
Amarakosha (an ancient Indian Dictionary - S.B.) to be elephants, horses, chariots and
foot soldiers.
As applicable to real armies, the term Chaturanga is frequently used by the epic poets
of India. Sir William Jones' essay is substantially a translation of the Bhawishya
Purana, in which is given a description of a four-handed game of chess played with
Sir William, however, grounds his opinions as to the Hindu origin of chess upon the
testimony of the Persians and not upon the above manuscript. He lays it down that
chess, under the Sanskrit name Chaturanga was exported from India into Persia in the
6th century of our era; that by a natural corruption, the old Persians changed the name
into chatrang; but when their country was soon afterwards taken possession of by the
Arabs, who had neither the initial nor the final letter of the word in their alphabet, they
altered it further into Shatranj, which name found its way presently into modern
Persian and ultimately into the dialects of India.
The further says that Wander Linde, in his exhaustive work, Geschichte and
Litteraturdes Schachspiels (1874), has much to say of the origin-theories, nearly all of
which he treats as so many myths. He agrees with those who consider that the
Persians received the game from the Hindus.
The outcome of his studies appears to be that chess certainly existed in Hindustan in
the 8th century, and that probably that country is the land of its birth. He inclines to
the idea that the game originated among the Buddhists, whose religion was prevalent
in India from the 3rd to the 9th century.
According to their ideas, war and slaying of one's own fellow-men, for any purpose
whatever, is criminal, and the punishment of the warrior in the next world will be
much worse than that of the simple murderer, hence chess was invented as a substitute
for war.
H.J.R. Murry in his monumental work A History of Chess, concludes that chess is a
descendant of an Indian game played in the 7th century.
According to the Encylopedia - altogether, therefore, we find the best authorities
agreeing that chess existed in India before it is known to have been played anywhere
else. In this supposition they are strengthened by the names of the game and some of
its pieces. Shatranj as Forbes has pointed out, is a foreign word among the Persians
and the Arabians, whereas its natural derivation from the term Chaturanga is obvious.
Again affix the Arabic name for the bishop, means the elephant, derived from
alephhind, the Indian elephant.
Even the word checkmate is derived from the Persian term Shah Mat which means
'the king is dead!'. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra Mruta.
Another term viz. 'the rooks' which is the name for one set of the counters used in
chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term
according to the Encyclopedia is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously
seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier from
Raksha which means 'to protect'.
About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia says that the Persian
poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the
introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom
came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board and men
asking him to solve the secrets of the game, if he could or pay tribute. The king asked
for seven days grace, during which time the wise men vainly tried to discover the
secret. Finally, the king's minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a
day and a night.
The concludes that "Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into
Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be
considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to
the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture V of Persia by the Caliphs in
the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a
time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. That the
source of the European game is Arabic is clear enough, nor merely from the words
"check" and "mate", which are evidently from Shah mat ("the king is dead"), but also
from the names of some of the pieces.
Thus it was from India that the ancient Persians are said to have learnt this game, and
from them it was transmitted to the Greco Roman world. The evidence of the Persians
having borrowed this game from India is seen in the name the Persians gave to it. The
Persian word for chess is Chatrang, which was later changed by the Arabs to Shatranj.
As said in , this word is obviously a corruption of the Sanskrit original Chaturanga.
The other term Astapada meaning eight steps, which was also used to describe this
game in ancient India, perhaps was a description for the eight steps (Squares) which
the modern Chessboard, has. The modern Chessboard is chequered with 64 (8 x 8)
squares in all, with eight squares on each side. The old English word for chess which
is Esches, possibly stems from this eight squared aspect of the game as did the
Sanskrit word Astapada.

Playing Cards
Surprising though the popular game of cards originated in ancient India and was
known as Krida-patram in ancient India. The game of playing cards was also one of
the favorite pastimes of Indians in ancient times. This game was patronized especially
by the royalty and nobility. This game was known in ancient times as Kridapatram, in
the middle ages, it was known as Ganjifa. In medieval India Ganjifa cards were
played in practically all royal courts. This game is recorded to have been played in
Rajputana, Kashyapa Meru (Kashmir), Utkala (Orissa) the Deccan and even in Nepal.
The Mughals also patronized this game, but the Mughal card-sets differ from those of
the ancient Indian royal courts.
Some scholars are of the opinion that this game was in fact introduced into India by
the Mughals. But according to Abul Fazal author of the Ain-e-Akbari, the game of
cards was of Indian origin and that it was a very popular pastime in the Indian (Hindu)
courts when the Muslims came into India.
According to Abul Fazal's description of the game, the following cards were used. The
first was Ashvapati which means 'lord of horses'. The Ashvapati which was the highest
card in, the pack represented the picture of the king on horseback. The second highest
card represented a General (Senapati) on horseback. After this card come ten other
with pictures of horses from one to ten.
Another set of cards had the Gajapati (lord of elephants) which represented the king
whose power lay in the number of elephants. The other eleven cards in this pack
represented the Senapati and ten others with a soldier astride an elephant. Another
pack has the Narpati, a king whose power lies in his infantry. We also had other cards
known as the Dhanpati, the lord of treasures, Dalpati the lord of the squadron,
Navapati, the lord of the navy, Surapati, the lord of divinities, Asrapati, lord of genii,
Vanapati, the king of the forest and Ahipati, lord of snakes, etc.
On the authority of Abul Fazal we can say that the game of playing cards had been
invented by sages in ancient times who took the number 12 as the basis and made a
set of 12 cards. Every king had 11 followers, thus a pack had 144 cards. The Mughals
retained 12 sets having 96 cards. These Mughal Ganjifa sets have representations of
diverse trades like Nakkash painter, Mujallid book binder, Rangrez, dyer, etc., In
addition there were also the Padishah-i-Qimash, king of the manufacturers and
Padishah-izar-i-Safid, king of silver, etc.
Cards were known as Krida-patram in ancient India. These cards were made of cloth
and depicted motifs from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. A tradition carried on
today with floral motifs and natural scenery.
The pre-Mughal origin of the game of cards is evident if we examine the pattern of
painting the cards. We also find that despite the observation of Abul Fazal that Akbar
introduced the pack with 8 sets, we find that even earlier, in Indian (Hindu) courts we
have packs with 8, 9 and 10 sets apart from the usual 12. The numbers were derived
from the eight cardinal directions Ashtadikpala, for the pack with 8 set, from the nine
planets Navagraha for the one with 9 sets and from ten incarnations Dashavatara of
Vishnu for the pack with 10 sets.
Themes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are painted on these cards. The largest
number of such cards are to be found in Orrisa. The largest number of such cards are
to be found in Orissa. The painters from Orissa have represented various illustrations
like the Navagunjara, a mythical birdhuman animal which was the form assumed by
Sri Krishna to test Arjuna's fidelity, il lustrations from the Dashavatata of Vishnu are
also portrayed.
All these cards were hand-made and were painted in the traditional style. This
required considerable patience and hard meticulous work. The kings usually
commissioned painters to make cards as per their preference. The commoners got
their cards made by local artists who were to be ; found in urban and rural areas. In
order to -obtain the required thickness a number of sheets of pieces of cloth were
glued together. The outlines of the rim were painted in black and then the figures were
filled with colors.
As cards were played by members all strata of society we find different types of cards.
Some cards were also made of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, inlaid or
enameled with precious metals. The cards were of different shapes; they were circular,
oval rectangular, but the circular cards were more common. The cards were usually
kept in a wooden box with a lid painted with mythological figures. This art of
handmade, hand painted cards which had survived for hundreds of years. gradually
feel into decay and became extinct with the introduction of printed paper cards by the
Europeans in the 17-18th centuries. With the extinction of the art of making and
painting cards also was erased the memory that Indians ever had played the game of
cards with their own specific representations of the Narapati, Gajapati and Ashvapati.

Martial Arts
Ancient India claims to have been the origin of Judo and Karate.
Something similar to karate was called Kalaripayate.
This art from seems to have traveled from India to the countries of the far-east along
with the Buddhist religion. Buddhists monks who traveled barefoot and unarmed to
spread the gospel of Buddha seem to have accepted this art with alterations suitable to
the philosophy of nonviolence. Such a technique of defense would have been
necessary for them as they traveled individually or in small groups in foreign lands
during which they were exposed to dangers from bandits and fanatics from other
religions. Buddhist monks seem to have tempered the originally violent character of
this art. The violent and exterminative nature of Kalaripayate is evident from the
daggers and knives that are used. Unlike Kalaripayate, Judo and Karate do not allow
the use of lethal weapons.
The aim of a Karate practitioner is mainly to disarm and disable his opponent without
mortally wounding him. This can be looked upon as a reflection of the Buddhist
attitude towards life. Further both Judo and Karate are deeply interwoven with
meditation unlike other martial arts like boxing, wrestling, fencing, etc. The
concentration aspect in Judo and Karate perhaps stems from this. Both Judo and
Karate are sought to be kept as arts to be used for just purposes for protection of the
weak, etc.,
The oath that every student of these disciplines has to take is evidence of this. A
teacher of Judo or Karate traditionally commands deep respect of students and a
lesson always starts with a bow of the students to the teacher. The teacher here is not
looked upon only as a coach as in western martial arts like boxing and fencing. This
relationship between a teacher and student in Judo and Karate could have its roots in
the Guru-Shishya tradition of India.
Thus it is quite possible that these martial art forms originated in southern India and
were transmitted to China, Korea and Japan by Buddhist monks. But it has to be
conceded that they were neglected in India where like Buddhism they atrophied and
today the world considers them to be a legacy bequeathed by the countries of the far-
Physical perfection has been an integral part of Hinduism. One of the means to fully
realize one's Self is defined as the body - way or dehvada.
Salvation was to be gained through physical perfection or kaya sadhana, possible only
through perfect understanding of the body and its functions. The capstone of Hatha
Yoga is strength, stamina and supreme control of the body functions. The zenith of the
whole experience is the fusion of meditation and physical movement.
The ' eight - fold method ' encompasses techniques associated with breathing control
or pranayama, body posture or asanas, and withdrawal of the senses or pratyahara.
Religious rites provided the needed impetus to physical culture in ancient India. Many
of the present day Olympic disciplines are sophisticated versions of the games
involving strength and speed that were common in ancient India and Greece.
During the era of the Rigveda, Ramayana and Mahabharata, men of a certain stature
were expected to be well - versed in chariot - racing, archery, military stratagems,
swimming, wrestling and hunting. Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro confirm
that during the Indus valley civilization ( 2500 - 1550 B.C ) the weapons involved in
war and hunting exercises included the bow and arrow, the dagger, the axe and the
These weapons of war, for instance, the javelin (toran) and the discus (chakra), were
also, frequently used in the sports arena. Lord Krishna wielded an impressive discus
or Sudarshan chakra. Arjuna and Bhima, two of the mighty Pandavas, excelled in
archery and weightlifting respectively. Bhimsen, Hanuman, Jamvant, Jarasandha were
some of the great champion wrestlers of yore.
Women also excelled in sport and the art of self - defence, and were active
participants in games like cock fighting, quail fighting, and ram fighting.
With the flowering of Buddhism in the country, Indian sport reached the very peak of
excellence. Gautam Buddha himself, is said to have been an ace at archery, chariot -
racing, equitation and hammer - throwing.
In Villas Mani Manjri, Tiruvedacharya describes many of these games in detail.
In Manas Olhas - 1135 AD. - Someshwar writes at length about bharashram (weight
lifting), bharamanshram (walking), both of which are established Olympic disciplines
at present, and Mall - Stambha, a peculiar form of wrestling, wherein both contestants
sit on the shoulders of their 'seconds', who stand in waist - deep water throughout the
The renowned Chinese travelers Hieun Tsang and Fa Hien wrote of a plethora of
sporting activities. Swimming, sword - fighting ( fencing, as we know it today ),
running, wrestling and ball games were immensely popular among the students of
Nalanda and Taxila.
In the 16th century, a Portuguese ambassador who visited Krishnanagar was
impressed by the range of sports activity, and the many sports venues, in the city. The
king, Raja Krishnadev was an ace wrestler and horseman, himself.
The Mughal emperors were keen hunters of wild game, and avid patrons of sports,
especially wrestling.
The Agra fort and the Red Fort were the popular venues of many a wrestling bout, in
the times of Emperor Shahjahan.
Kerala's martial art form, Kalari Payattu, is very similar to Karate. Those who practice
it have to develop acrobatic capabilities, when using swords or knives to attack their
adversaries, and even an unarmed exponent can be a force to reckon with. With the
advent of Buddhism, this art form spread to the Far East countries.
Buddhist monks who travelled far and wide, mostly unarmed, to spread the teachings
of the Buddha, accepted this form of self - defence, against religious fanatics, with
alternatives that were suitable to their philosophy of non - violence.
The relationship between a student and teacher in the disciplines of Judo and Karate
could trace its roots to the guru - shishya tradition, India was, and continues to be
famous for. It is quite possible that some of our martial art forms travelled to China,
Korea and Japan, but as in the case of Buddhism, atrophied in India.
The technique of Pranayama or breathing control, which is a prominent feature of Tae
- kwan - do, Karate, Judo and Sumo wrestling was one of the many techniques spread
in the Far East by Buddhist pilgrims from India. The idea that man enters into
harmony with the five elements, through the science of breathing, is to be found in the
most ancient records of Indian history.
If mind and body are one, the possibilities of development of one's physical and
mental capabilities are limitless, provided they are united and controlled. Using this as
the foundation, Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk started a new trend in the Shaolin
temple in China, from which probably stemmed most of the rules and precepts which
govern all martial art forms.
Festivals and local fairs are the natural venues of indigenous games and martial arts.
Post - Independence the government made special efforts to preserve and nurture the
awesome cultural heritage, by setting up a number of new incentives, and by
heightening media exposure at the national level, to propagate and popularise
indigenous games.

Science, Medicine, Technology in Ancient India

Science and technology in ancient and medieval India covered all the major branches
of human knowledge and activities, including mathematics, astronomy, physics,
chemistry, medical science and surgery, fine arts, mechanical and production
technology, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, sports and
Ancient India was a land of sages, saints and seers as well as a land of scholars and
scientists. Ancient India's contribution to science and technology include:
Mathematics - Vedic literature is replete with concepts of zero, the techniques
of algebra and algorithm, square root and cube root. Arguably, the origins of
Calculus lie in India 300 years before Leibnitz and Newton.
Astronomy - Rig Veda (2000 BC) refers to astronomy.
Physics - Concepts of atom and theory of relativity were explicitly stated by an
Indian Philosopher around 600 BC.
Chemistry - Principles of chemistry did not remain abstract but also found
expression in distillation of perfumes, aromatic liquids, manufacturing of dyes
and pigments, and extraction of sugar.
Medical science & surgery - Around 800 BC, first compendium on medicine
and surgery was complied in ancient India.
Fine Arts - Vedas were recited and recitation has to be correct, which gave rise
to a finer study of sound and phonetics. The natural corollary were emergence
of music and other forms of performing arts.
Mechanical & production technology - Greek historians have testified to
smelting of certain metals in India in the 4th century BC.
Civil engineering & architecture - The discovery of urban settlements of
Mohenjodaro and Harappa indicate existence of civil engineering &
architecture, which blossomed to a highly precise science of civil engineering
and architecture and found expression in innumerable monuments of ancient
Shipbuilding & navigation - Sanskrit and Pali texts have several references to
maritime activity by ancient Indians.Sports & games Ancient India is the birth
place of chess, ludo, snakes and ladders and playing cards.

Mathematics represents a very high level of abstraction attained by human brain. In
ancient India, roots to mathematics can be traced to Vedic literature, which are around
4000 years old. Between 1000 BC and 1000 AD, a number of mathematical treatises
were authored in India.
Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981) said that India was the mother of our
philosophy of much of our mathematics.
It is now generally accepted that India is the birth place of several mathematical
concepts, including zero, the decimal system, algebra and algorithm, square root and
cube root. Zero is a numeral as well as a concept. It owes its origin to the Indian
philosophy which had a concept of 'sunya', literal translation of which is 'void' and
zero emerged as a derivative symbol to represent this philosophical concept.
Geometrical theories were known to ancient Indians and find display in motifs on
temple walls, which are in many cases replete with mix of floral and geometric
patterns. The method of graduated calculation was documented in a book named "Five
Principles" (Panch-Siddhantika) which dates to 5th Century AD.A. L. Basham, an
Australian Indologist, writes in his book, The Wonder That was India that "... the
world owes most to India in the realm of mathematics, which was developed in the
Gupta period to a stage more advanced than that reached by any other nation of
The success of Indian mathematics was mainly due to the fact that Indians had a clear
conception of the abstract number as distinct from the numerical quantity of objects or
spatial extension.
Algebraic theories, as also other mathematical concepts, which were in circulation in
ancient India, were collected and further developed by Aryabhatta, an Indian
mathematician, who lived in the 5th century, in the city of Patna, then called
Pataliputra. He has referred to Algebra (as Bijaganitam) in his treatise on mathematics
named Aryabhattiya.
Another mathematician of the 12th century, Bhaskaracharya also authored several
treatises on the subject one of them, named Siddantha Shiromani has a chapter on
algebra. He is known to have given a basic idea of the Rolle's theorum and was the
first to conceive of differential calculus.
In 1816, James Taylor translated Bhaskaracharya's Leelavati into English. Another
translation of the same work by English astronomer Henry Thomas Colebruke
appeared next year in 1817.
The credit for fine-tuning and internationalizing these mathematical concepts - which
had originated in India goes to the Arabs and Persians. Al-Khawarizmi, a Persian
mathematician, developed a technique of calculation that became known as
"algorism." This was the seed from which modern arithmetic algorithms have
developed. Al-Khwarizmis work was translated into Latin under the title Algoritmi de
numero Indorum, meaning The System of Indian Numerals. A mathematician in
Arabic is called Hindsa which means from India.
The 14th century Indian mathematician Madhava of Sangamagrama, along with other
mathematicians of the Kerala school, studied infinite series, convergence,
differentiation, and iterative methods for solution of non-linear equations.
Jyestadeva of the Kerala school wrote the first calculus text, the Yuktibhasa, which
explores methods and ideas of calculus repeated only in seventeenth century Europe.
Ancient India's contributions in the field of astronomy are well known and well
documented. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Rig Veda, which
are dated 2000 BC. During next 2500 years, by 500 AD, ancient Indian astronomy has
emerged as an important part of Indian studies and its affect is also seen in several
treatises of that period. In some instances, astronomical principles were borrowed to
explain matters, pertaining to astrology, like casting of a horoscope. Apart from this
linkage of astronomy with astrology in ancient India, science of astronomy continued
to develop independently, and culminated into original findings, like:
The calculation of occurrences of eclipses
Determination of Earth's circumference
Theorizing about the theory of gravitation
Determining that sun was a star and determination of number of planets under
our solar system
The Pleiades hold a prominent place as the mothers or wet nurses of the newborn
infant in one of the most ancient and central Hindu myths, that of the birth of the war-
god Rudra/Skanda, who evidently represents, among other things, the victorious rising
sun (and as vernal sun the new year). The Pleiades are said to have been the wives of
the seven sages, who are identified with the seven stars of the Great Bear.
The Great Bears Old Tamil name elu-meen seven-star corresponds to the
combination of the pictograms '7' + fish, which alone constitutes the entire text of
one finely carved Indus seal. The Satapatha-Brahmana states that the six Pleiades
were separated from their husbands on account of their infidelity; other texts specify
that only one of the seven wives, Arundhati, remained faithful and was allowed to stay
with her husband: she is the small star Alcor in the Great Bear, pointed out as a
paradigm of marital virtue to the bride in the Vedic marriage ceremonies.
Evidence for the Harappan origin of this myth is provided, among other things, by
Indus seals which show a row of six or seven human figures; their female character is
suggested by the one long plait of hair, which to the present day has remained
characteristic of the Indian ladies.

The root to the concept of atom in ancient India is derived from the classification of
material world in five basic elements by ancient Indian philosophers. These five
elements and such a classification existed since the Vedic times, around 3000 BC
before. These five elements were the earth (prithvi), fire (agni), air (vayu), water (jaal)
and ether or space (aksha). These elements were also associated with human sensory
perceptions: earth with smell, air with feeling, fire with vision, water with taste and
ether/space with sound. Later on, Buddhist philosophers replaced ether/space with
life, joy and sorrow.
From ancient times, Indian philosophers believed that except ether or space, all other
elements were physically palpable and hence comprised of small and minuscule
particles of matter. They believed that the smallest particle which could not be
subdivided further was paramanu (can be shortened to parmanu), a Sanskrit word.
Paramanu is made of two Sanskrit words, param meaning ultimate or beyond and anu
meaning atom. Thus, the term "paramanu" literally means 'beyond atom' and this was
a concept at an abstract level which indicated the possibility of splitting atom, which
is now the source of atomic energy. The term "atom" however should not be conflated
with the concept of atom as it is understood today.
Kanada, a 6th century, Indian philosopher was the first person who went deep
systematically in such theorization. Another Indian, philosopher Pakudha Katyayana,
who was a contemporary of Buddha, also propounded the ideas about the atomic
constitution of the material world. All these were based on logic and philosophy and
lacked any empirical basis for want of commensurate technology. Similarly, the
principle of relativity (not to be confused with Einstein's theory of relativity) was
available in an embryonic form in the Indian philosophical concept of 'sapekshavad',
the literal translation of this Sanskrit word is theory of relativity.
These theories have attracted attention of the Indologists, and veteran Australian
Indologist A. L. Basham has concluded that they were brilliant imaginative
explanations of the physical structure of the world, and in a large measure, agreed
with the discoveries of modern physics.

Ancient India's development in chemistry was not confined at an abstract level like
physics, but found development in a variety of practical activities. In any early
civilization, metallurgy has remained an activity central to all civilizations from the
Bronze Age and the Iron Age, to all other civilizations that followed. It is believed that
the basic idea of smelting reached ancient India from Mesopotamia and the Near East.
Coinage dating from the 8th Century B.C. to the 17th Century A.D. Numismatic
evidence of the advances made by smelting technology in ancient India.
In the 5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus has observed that Indian and the
Persian army used arrows tipped with iron. Ancient Romans were using armor and
cutlery made of Indian iron.
In India itself, certain objects testify to the higher level of metallurgy achieved by the
ancient Indians. By the side of Qutub Minar, a World heritage site, in Delhi, stands an
Iron Pillar. The pillar is believed to be cast in the Gupta period around circa 500 AD.
The pillar is 7.32 meters tall, tapering from a diameter of 40 cm at the base to 30 cm
at the top and is estimated to weigh 6 tonnes. It has been standing in the open for last
1500 years, withstanding the wind, heat and weather, but still has not rusted, except
very minor natural erosion. This kind of rust proof iron was not possible till iron and
steel was discovered few decades before.
The advance nature of ancient Indias chemical science also finds expression in other
fields, like distillation of perfumes and fragment ointments, manufacturing of dyes
and chemicals, polishing of mirrors, preparation of pigments and colours. Paintings
found on walls of Ajanta and Ellora (both World heritage sites) which look fresh even
after 1000 years, also testify to the high level of chemical science achieved in ancient

Medicine & Surgery

Ayurveda as a science of medicine owes its origins in ancient India. Ayurveda consists
of two Sanskrit words - 'ayur' meaning age or life, and 'veda' which means knowledge.
Thus, the literal meaning of Ayurveda is the science of life or longevity. Ayurveda
constitutes ideas about ailments and diseases, their symptoms, diagnosis and cure, and
relies heavily on herbal medicines, including extracts of several plants of medicinal
values. This reliance on herbs differentiates Ayurveda from systems like Allopathy
and Homeopathy. Ayurveda has also always disassociated itself with witch doctors
and voodoo.
Ancient scholars of India like Atreya, and Agnivesa have dealt with principles of
Ayurveda as long back as 800 BC. Their works and other developments were
consolidated by Charaka who compiled a compendium of Ayurvedic principles and
practices in his treatise Charaka-Samahita, which remained like a standard textbook
almost for 2000 years and was translated into many languages, including Arabic and
Latin. 'Charaka-Samahita' deals with a variety of matters covering physiology,
etiology and embryology, concepts of digestion, metabolism, and immunity.
Preliminary concepts of genetics also find a mention, for example, Charaka has
theorized blindness from the birth is not due to any defect in the mother or the father,
but owes its origin in the ovum and the sperm.
In ancient India, several advances were also made in the field of medical surgery.
Specifically these advances icluded areas like plastic surgery, extraction of catracts,
and even dental surgery. Roots to the ancient Indian surgery go back to at least circa
800 BC. Shushruta, a medical theoretician and practitioner, lived 2000 years bebore,
in the ancient Indian city of Kasi, now called Varanasi. He wrote a medical
compendium called 'Shushruta-Samahita. This ancient medical compendium describes
at least seven branches of surgery: Excision, Scarification, Puncturing, Exploration,
Extraction, Evacuation, and Suturing. The compendium also deals with matters like
rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and ophthalmology (ejection of cataracts). The
compendium also focuses on the study the human anatomy by using a dead body.
In ancient India Medical Science supposedly made many advances. Specifically these
advances were in the areas of plastic surgery, extraction of cataracts, and dental
surgery. There is documentary evidence to prove the existence of these practices.
An artist's impression of an operation being performed in ancient India. In spite of the
absence of anesthesia, complex operations were performed. The practice of surgery
has been recorded in India around 800 B.C. This need not come as a surprise because
surgery (Shastrakarma) is one ofthe eight branches of Ayurveda the ancient Indian
system of medicine. The oldest treatise dealing with surgery is the Shushruta Samahita
(Shushruta's compendium). Shusruta who lived in Kasi was one of themany Indian
medical practitioners who included Atraya and Charaka. He was one of the first to
study the human anatomy. In the Shusruta, Samahita he has described in detail the
study of anatomy withthe aid of a dead body. Shusruta's forte was rhinoplasty (Plastic
surgery)and ophthalmialogy (ejection of cataracts). Shushruta has described surgery
under eight heads Chedya (excision), Lekhya (scarification),Vedhya (puncturing),
Esya (exploration), Ahrya (extraction), Vsraya (evacuation) and Sivya (Suturing).
Yoga is a system of exercise for physical and mental nourishment. The origins of yoga
are shrouded in antiquity and mystery. Since Vedic times, thousand of years before,
the principles and practice of yoga have crystallized. But, it was only around 200 BC
that all the fundamentals of yoga were collected by Patanjali in his treatise, named
Yogasutra, that is, Yoga-Aphorisms.
In short, Patanjali surmised that through the practice of yoga, the energy latent within
the human body may be made live and released, which has a salubrious affect on the
body and the mind. Now, in modern times, clinical practices have established that
several ailments, including hypertension, clinical depression, amnesia, acidity, can be
controlled and managed by yogic practices. The application of yoga in physiotherapy
is also gaining recognition.
Civil Engineering & Architecture

ndia's urban civilization is traceable to Mohenjodaro and Harappa, now in Pakistan,

where planned urban townships existed 5000 years before. From then onwards, the
ancient Indian architecture and civil engineering continued to develop and grow. It
found manifestation in construction of temples, palaces and forts across the Indian
peninsula and the neighbouring regions. In ancient India, architecture and civil
engineering was known as sthapatya-kala, literal translation of which means the art of
constructing (something).
During the periods of Kushan Empire and Maurya empires, the Indian architecture
and civil engineering reached to regions like Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Statues of
Buddha were cut out, covering entire mountain faces and cliffs, like Buddhas of
Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Over a period of time, ancient Indian art of construction
blended with Greek styles and spread to Central Asia.
On the other side, Buddhism took Indian style of architecture and civil engineering to
countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand,
Burma, China, Korea and Japan. Angkor Wat is a living testimony to the contribution
of Indian civil engineering and architecture to the Cambodian Khmer heritage in the
field of architecture and civil engineering.
In mainland India of today, there are several marvels of ancient Indias architectural
heritage, including World heritage sites like Ajanta, Ellora, Khajuraho, Mahabodhi
Temple, Sanchi, Brihadisvara Temple and Mahabalipuram.

Production Technology
Mechanical and production technology of ancient India ensured processing of natural
produce and their conversion into merchandise of trade, commerce and export. A
number of travelers and historians (including Megasthanes, Ptolemy, Faxian,
Xuanzang, Marco Polo, Al Baruni and Ibn Batuta) have indicated a variety of items,
which were produced, consumed and exported around that society's "known world" by
the ancient Indians.

Shipbuilding & Navigation

A panel found in Mohenjodaro depicts a sailing craft, and thousands of years later
Ajanta murals also depict a sea-faring ship. The science of shipbuilding and
navigation was well known to ancient Indians. Sanskrit and Pali texts are replete with
maritime references, and ancient Indians, particularly from the coastal regions, were
having commercial relations with several countries of across the Bay of Bengal like
Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and even up to China. Similar maritime and trade
relations existed with countries across the Arabian Sea like Arabia, Egypt and Persia.
Even around circa 500 AD, sextants and mariner's compass were not unknown to
ancient Indian shipbuilders and navigators. J.L. Reid, a member of the Institute of
Naval Architects and Shipbuilders, England, at around the beginning of the 20th
century has got published in the Bombay Gazetteer that "The early Hindu astrologers
are said to have used the magnet, in fixing the North and East, in laying foundations,
and other religious ceremonies. The Hindu compass was an iron fish that floated in a
vessel of oil and pointed to the North. The fact of this older Hindu compass seems
placed beyond doubt by the Sanskrit word 'Maccha-Yantra', or 'fish-machine', which
Molesworth gives as a name for the mariner's compass".

Ancient India - Writing

The assumption that the ancient Hindus could not read or write probably springs from
the fact that no writing material was excavated on Indian soil. That pictographs await
excavation in India does not undermine the importance of literary evidence to the
existence of writing skills of the Vedic folks.
Also, it is suggested that no script was developed in Rig Vedic India since the verb
"likha-to write" is not mentioned in the Vedas. Rig Veda is acclaimed as the oldest
extant literature available to humans.
It is definitely older than the Ramayan (at least 5500 B.C) and some internal evidence
takes it as far as 23,000 B.C. There are a number of references in the Rig Veda which
allude to the art of writing. That the seers 'inscribed, engraved' words (on some
material) itself points that they knew how to write.
One more verse (Rig Veda 1-164-39) states, " In the letters (akshara) of the verses of
the Veda...".
There are a number of compositional chandas (metres), lines in a metre and specific
number of words in a line available from the Rig Vedic text.
It will take a tremendous amount of mental effort to compose and to commit to
memory the vast amount of lines with all the intricacies involved.
Unless these are reduced to writing and given a specific concrete shape, it would not
facilitate oral transmission.
Yet another verse (RgV 10-62-7) mentions cows being "marked" by an "8-eight"
which again shows that the ancients possessed the art of writing.
Also, RgVed 10-71-4 refers to a language which can be "seen"; that is a script.
If there was no script, preferably the verb "to pronounce" rather than "to
inscribe/write" would have been utilized.
However, such a distinction has been made obviously because a written form of
language existed during that time.
Even during the Mahabharat era the art of writing was prevalent. The verb "lekhi
(writing)" in all its forms (lekhako, lekhani, etc.) appears numerous times in the
Mahabharat text (Aadi 1.77/78).
On the arrows were inscribed the names of specific persons to whom they belonged.
Distinction has been made between "to write" and "to read" (Harivansha .50)
indicating "what was written was being read".
How could a text with a monumental 100,000 verses could be composed, preserved
and transmitted through memory alone?
This incredible feat may have been performed by a few, but that does not suggest that
the art of writing was not developed. The Atharvasheersha (from the Upanishads)
symbolizes Shree Ganesh as an "omkar", a combination of "g-aakar, m-aakar".
How can there be an "aakar - shape" to a syllable only transmitted orally?
The "omkar" is mentioned in the Mahabharat text as well indicating that the art of
writing was prevalent during the Mahabharat times, that is around 3100 B.C., as a
continuing tradition since remote antiquity.
The Mahabharat text (3100 B.C) contains quotes of Rishi Vasistha of the Ramayanic
Era (alteast 5500 B.C) on the meaning of the "granth(a)" (manuscript), its value and
other literary attributes. Discussions on skills required to writing and evaluating a
"granth(a)" were already in vogue during the Ramayanic era.
How is this possible if "writing" was not known in that era? The Yujurvedic Taittiriya
Samhita and also the Atharvaveda utilize the word "likha (to write)", although not as
ancient as the RgVed, at least are of the Ramayanic era.
The art of writing was known by ancient Vedic peoples since remote times.
In spite of the evidence presented above, it has been continually stressed that the
ancients passed on their knowledge through oral tradition alone and no art of writing
was available - the earlier part of course is probably true.
On the deliberate stress given to oral transmission, R.N. Dandekar remarks, "There is,
indeed, considerable circumstantial and inferential character which enables us to
perceive the existence of writing even in the very early periods of Indian cultural
It is true that the Veda has been handed down from generation to generation through
oral tradition. It must not, however, be supposed that on that account, as is often
erroneously done, that the art of writing was unknown in the early Vedic age.
The practice of oral transmission of Veda was adopted, not because written copies of
these texts were not available, but presumably because it was believed that oral
transmission alone was more conducive to the preservation of the magic-religious
potency and the formal protection of those arts.