Folk Worship in India – Shani Mahatmya

Posted in History, India, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on October 29, 2011

Indian folk tales related to worship and sacred rites reveal sexual freedom in pre-colonial era.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

A folk layer

The extract below is from Shanimahatmya – a folk tale that is recommended for narration, by brahmans and astrologers across India. This story displays sexual attitudes in India by women and society.

In this post, we start a little before halfway in the story, when

Vikramaditya reaches Tamlinda

As King Vikramaditya entered the city of Tamlinda, he met a very rich merchant name(d) Shripati who owned a local shop.  Seeing the King, the merchant thought of him as a very fine gentleman and invited the King to his house with a scheme in mind.

Shripati, the merchant, asked the king to refresh himself by taking shower etc. And then, he made some formal inquiries. The king replied that he was a Kshatriya and came from a foreign land and was in transit. The merchant ordered six flavored meal (six course meal) for Vikramaditya and invited Vikramaditya to stay for the night and leave in the morning.

After the dinner the merchant asked for more details about the king very frankly as he had some other intentions about the king.

Prospective ‘groom’ for the daughter

It so happened that the merchant had a daughter of a marriageable age called Alolika. Alolika could not find a suitable match for herself, nor could the merchant find one for her.

So the merchant had an idea that this Kshatriya would be a good match for Alolika so he went to find her to tell her the good news. When he found Alolika he excitedly told her ‘I found a very good match for you. Please marry him without any hesitation.’

But Alolika said, ‘Let me talk to him and then I can judge from the way he talks whether this kshatriya is good match for me. You might have seen many good qualities in him, but still, let me judge him.’ So she asked her father to send the kshatriya to the guest room, which was a studio for a painter.

The ‘guest’ room

Shripati went back to Vikramaditya and told him that the studio was available if Vikramaditya wanted to sleep. Vikramaditya went to the guest room, (and) he saw that there were many good paintings of the birds such as swans, peacocks and of animals such as horses and elephants. The paintings were so realistic that one could feel that the birds and the animals were alive.

He sat on the bed, which was decorated with jewels and beautiful colours and flowers. He also noticed that there ware many lamps in every corner. On seeing this he was astonished and kept on marveling about the customs of that place. Then he thought about what to do and decided to face the next moments as they come.

Daughter decides to ‘check’ out the man

Unfortunately his mind was still at unease so he covered his head to try and get to sleep.
After a short while Alolika entered in the studio where the king was sleeping. She brought with her all the paraphernalia as per the custom of the time such as five oil lamps in a plate with flowers etc. to greet the king. She did beautiful make up and wore pearl necklaces and used very aromatic perfumes. She also wore anklets, which were making a very pleasant sound. She had diamond ornaments on her hands, which were shining very brightly. She was looking like a beautiful statue and stood in front of the Vikramaditya who was pretending to be asleep.

As Vikramaditya did not awaken, Alokika thought for a while and sprinkled some water from a sandal wood jug onto Vikramaditya. Still Vikramaditya did not wake..

Thus, about two hours passed so Alolika got tired and took off her pearl necklace and hung it on a peg (hook) on a nearby wall. Eventually she fell asleep worried and disappointed.

Vikramaditya loses his ‘manliness’

Then Vikramaditya uncovered his head and started to think. Who is this girl? and why is she sleeping next to me? Keen to not commit any (mistakes) Vikramaditya decided it would be best to control his desires and treat this girl like a daughter and talk to her in that (manner). Then he looked around and again saw the paintings.

Suddenly, as if (by) miracle, the swan from one of the paintings came to life approached Alolika’s pearl necklace and grabbed it with its mouth. The King was astonished to see this and thought that it would be wrong to snatch the pearl necklace from the swan’s mouth as it would hurt the swan and it would be against his principle of not hurting any living being. So (he) watched as the swan swallowed the entire necklace.Confused about what he witnessed Vikramaditya fell asleep.

Impotent thief

The next morning Alolika woke up and thought to herself ‘This person is the greatest fool of all. For the whole night I was sleeping near him he never awoke, clearly this kshtriya (is impotent)’. She was very angry and insulted that Vikramaditya was not attracted to her so she started to leave the room and looked for her necklace on the peg.

To her amazement the necklace was missing so she woke up Vikramaditya and accused him of stealing the necklace.She ordered him to return the necklace and get out the way he came. She also threatened to tell all the villages about what had happened and told Vikramaditya that he would face public humiliation and shame for his theft.

So the King said that he did not take the necklace, and just because he slept there he was being accused.

A Woman Scorned

So, Alolika became very angry and immediately told her father that the perfect match, he brought home was a mere professional thief who stole her necklace. Then she told her father to get the necklace from the guest and send him on his way (164)

Then, Shripati said to Vikramaditya , ‘I gave you a (nice) place to rest, gave you nice dinner and on top of that I was about to offer you to marry my daughter. But, in spite of this you stole her necklace. How foolishly you behaved! And that’s the way you are returning my favors! So, return the necklace immediately and go away back to where you came from. (via Shani Mahatmya.).

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

The story continues

Further in this cycle of misfortune (sade-saati), Vikramaditya, after a criminal conviction, becomes limbless. Inspite of Vikramaditya physical condition, Princess Padmasena, of Tamlinda, becomes infatuated with Vikramaditya’s rendition of various ragaas.

The common Marathi version mentions that Padmasena, without her father’s consent, decides to initiate a भर्तृ-like (similar to husband) relationship with the crippled Vikramaditya – without getting married. Padmasena and Vikramaditya spend many evening celebrating in ‘Diwali’ like manner.

What is so interesting

Finding a groom was Alolika’s choice and responsibility. Both Alolika and Padmasena initiate a physical relationship with Vikramaditya – with or without their father’s knowledge. They are secure that they have the right and freedom to do so.

This initiation is also done openly – and no furtive actions are even hinted at. Further, Alolika threatens Vikramaditya with public disclosure of their night together, if he does not return the allegedly stolen pearl necklace.

Egalitarianism is a constant in the story. Vikramaditya reconciling himself to the life of a commoner  and a rich and eager Shripati willing to entrust his daughter to a kshatriya stranger, are two instances from the story.

Nala Damayanti is the other story which is associated with cyclical misfortunes - called saade-saati in Indian languages.  Image source and courtesy - greatertelugu.com. Click for source image.

Nala Damayanti is the other story which is associated with cyclical misfortunes - called saade-saati in Indian languages. Image source and courtesy - greatertelugu.com. Click for source image.

Online critical examination of this literature is absent – and original texts are not available online. The Gita Press has published a different series of Bhagwad Geetha mahatmya stories – which displays a liberal attitude towards courtesans and prostitutes.

Notes on extract. The translation by Anand Gupte while the most detailed; has been considerably ‘cleaned’ by the translator, to dilute the feminine sexual status; keeping in mind current ‘sensitivities’. Some parts have been excised from the translation for the sake of brevity and relevance.

Commonly this story is recommended for narration to short-circuit or dilute the effects for those who are going through sade-saati, cyclical misfortunes – a common Indian belief. This story is available in print at a nominal cost of Rs.10-20 – at relevant stores or practitioners. A 2ndlook Irregular drew my attention to this literature about 6 months ago.

Like the Santoshi-maa tradition, narration of this story is widely recommended across India – though this translation is from the text that is common in Gujarat, Maharashtra Goa, as per my knowledge. The Northern India tradition for this Shani-dev story is awaited. These Shani and Bhagwad Geeta mahatmya stories are not from vedas, puranas, upanishads, or any vedic sankrit text.

Turnaround In Tashkent

Posted in America, Desert Bloc, Indo Pak Relations, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on October 25, 2011
A grim LB Shastri riding with Alexei Kosygin, waves to crowds at Tashkent. (Source - LIFE - Google Books accessed on 2011-10-24 23-55-25; via books.google.com).

A grim LB Shastri riding with Alexei Kosygin, waves to crowds at Tashkent. (Source - LIFE - Google Books accessed on 2011-10-24 23-55-25; via books.google.com).

At Tashkent

After the 1965 War with Pakistan, during the peace talks at Tashkent, India was pushed to retreat to pre-war positions. All territories were returned back to Pakistan. Treatment of Pakistan’s position at parity with India, at Tashkent, disappointed India. Pakistan was not named the aggressor – which further angered most of Indian leaders.

India-Pakistan War – 1965

LB Shastri, India’s combative Prime Minister after Nehru, with none of Nehru’s oratorical skills, was able to surprisingly unite and galvanize the nation behind him. Pakistani media painted escapist and crude scenarios.

The time is not far off when the six-foot-six-inch Sheikh Abdullah will catch the five-foot-two-inch Lal Bahadur Shastri by the neck and take back Kashmir. (Mashriq, Lahore, March 5, 1965)

Within a few days of the war, both the warring parties got bogged down, without spares and ammunition – with international sanctions against both countries. On the diplomatic front, China had been checkmated to paralysis – a position that China adopted in 1971 Bangladesh War also.

India had retaken territory in Kashmir, with Indian armies in sniffing distance of Lahore. After the 1962 debacle against China, India made creditable, though slender, territorial gains.

Call to Tashkent

Tashkent’s Hunuddin Asamov to a pair of wary travelers: Pakistan’s President Mohammed Ayub Khan and India’s Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri wrote in an open letter. “Moreover, we Uzbeks have a saying: If two neighbors have an argument, go to the third, and you will always achieve peace.”

Aleksei Kosygin invited the pair to Tashkent during the height of last summer’s Indo-Pakistani border war. Since then, an uneasy, U.N.-imposed “ceasefire” has been torn almost daily by vicious, small-scale clashes, and both sides have counted more than 3,596 “violations.”

“There is an almost poisonous atmosphere between the two countries,” said a top Shastri aide last week. “To expect any dramatic results [in Tashkent] seems to be rather impractical.” (via Asia: Talk in Tashkent – TIME).
A wary Shastri with YB Chavan listening to Kosygin's opening address. (Image source - LIFE - Google Books accessed on 2011-10-25 10-24-57).

A wary Shastri with YB Chavan listening to Kosygin's opening address. (Image source - LIFE - Google Books accessed on 2011-10-25 10-24-57).

US hands-off

Curiously, this war also coincided with America’s reduction of interest in the region – preoccupied as it was, with a disastrous war in Vietnam.

A few months before the war, the US cancelled visits of President Mohammed Ayub Khan of Pakistan – and subsequently of Indian Prime Minister, LB Shastri.

The US also let Alexei Kosygin upgrade Soviet involvement in the Indian sub-continent. The next US administration, under President Nixon, stood behind Pakistan – a stance that continues till today, for more than 40 years.

Third Party involvements

Most analysis misses how Tashkent changed Indian Foreign policy.

In 1948 and in 1965, India had tried to use the UN for achieving peace with Pakistan. Instead it became a bigger problem. Failed UN and international interventions after 1948 and 1965 wars with Pakistan, the 1962 War with China and the Tashkent declaration, made India change its basic stance. Gone was Nehruvian experiments with third-party ‘interjections’ – couched in words like ‘commitment to UN and world opinion’ – so well spelt out in extract above.

New stance

Instead came a tough bargaining position.

Not just India-Pakistan issues – but all issues are now bilateral. India blocked ‘outside’ help and disallowed foreign ‘interference’ in bilateral matters. Instead of super-powers playing the role of ‘honest brokers’, India decided to negotiate its position with neighbours – alone.

Reverting to its India’s classical position (as in the Jataka tale of monkey and two cats). Instead of the Desert Bloc tendency of using of going to a ‘third-person.’

After Shastri’s death in Tashkent, conspiracy theories abounded. More than a million mourners turned out in Delhi to bid farewell to Shastri on his last journey. Even with little Government attention after his death, Shastri remains a revered figure in India.

And his death at Tashkent, a dark chapter.

Shaking The Pagoda Tree

Posted in America, British Raj, Desert Bloc, European History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on October 13, 2011
Opium, empire and the global ... - Carl A. Trocki - Google Books 2011-10-13 21-14-12

Opium, empire and the global ... - Carl A. Trocki - Google Books 2011-10-13 21-14-12


A common idiom in 18th and 19th century England was ‘shaking the pagoda tree’. This meant making easy, quick money. And the place it happened was India – and the Indies (Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.).

For the next 100 years, there was significant private loot. Apart from the institutionalized loot by the British administration of their Indian territories. Indian opium was an important product for the British Raj and started from Buxar, and continued till about 20 years before India’s independence.

British governors, Robert Clive and Warren Hastings faced lengthy Parliamentary inquiries about corruption.  Same was the story in Dutch colonies.

And corruption is rife in Imperial America today also.

Shakedown in modern times

Most recently, during the Iraq and Afghan Wars, the US Department of Defense has not able to properly account for (to the satisfaction of US Govt. auditors) a sum of (still being estimated) of US$2.3 trillion, says Donald Rumsfeld – to US$10 trillion, an estimate by Stephen Glain author of State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire.

In fiscal 1999, a defense audit found that about $2.3 trillion of balances, transactions and adjustments were inadequately documented. These “unsupported” transactions do not mean the department ultimately cannot account for them, she advised, but that tracking down needed documents would take a long time. Auditors, she said, might have to go to different computer systems, to different locations or access different databases to get information. (via Reforming Financial Management System Can Save Big  |  By Jim Garamone  |  American Forces Press Service).

For the accounting entries, $2.3 trillion was not supported by adequate audit trails or sufficient evidence to determine their validity, $2 trillion was not reviewed because of time constraints, and $2.6 trillion were supported. via DoD Audit Report No. D-2000-091 February 25, 2000 (Project No. 0FI-2115.01).

taking a look at the Department of Education, which, for the last three years hasn’t been able to get a clean audit. Then I understand that the Department of Defense shares many of the same problems that we have with the Department of Education. I think the IG just notes that in one of the audits that you went through of the 1999 financial statements included adjustments of $7.6 trillion — that’s trillion — in account adjustments, of which 2.3 trillion were supported by un — by reliable documents — were unsupported by reliable documentation. (REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R-MI) – Testimony before the House Budget Committee on the FY 2002 Defense Budget As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Comptroller Dov Zakheim, Cannon House Office Building, Wednesday, July 11, 2001.?

Pentagon contracting has been broken for decades. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said — on September 10, 2001 — that “according to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” The next day was 9/11, and counting Pentagon dollars was no longer a top priority. (via The Pentagon’s Marauding Fraudsters|Time).

“We know it’s gone. But we don’t know what they spent it on,” said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service. (via The War On Waste).

DoD financial experts, Zakheim said, are making good progress reconciling the department’s “lost” expenditures, trimming them from a prior estimated total of $2.3 trillion to $700 billion. And, he added, the amount continues to drop. (via Zakheim Seeks To Corral, Reconcile ‘Lost’ Spending).

Back in time

A Portuguese word of uncertain origin, Pagoda probably a corruption of bhagvata. Another dictionary suggests (less probable, in my view) it is derived from from dāgaba, meaning ‘relic-container’, something that contained relics from Gautama Buddha’s body.

For sometime, till late 18th century, apart from describing a temple, the word was also used to denote a golden coin. The champa flower tree was also called Temple tree, or Frangipani.

Easy come

Making money was as easy as collecting champa flowers – which drop off very easily. Knowing the riches of Indian temples, like shaking a pagoda tree was the easiest way to get flowers, a shake-down of Indians was the easiest way to make money for Englishmen.

India, the richest economy of the world at that time, with Mughal treasury, the largest in the world, and English character that David Hume described so well, was a mix of circumstances never repeated before in history.

Britain – The Rise of a Pirate Empire

Posted in British Raj, Desert Bloc, European History by Anuraag Sanghi on October 11, 2011
Extract on Piracy - Cultures of Exchange: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade By David Richardson; from  Transactions of the Royal Historical ... - Ian W. Archer - Google Books 2011-10-09 19-27-47.

Extract on Piracy – Cultures of Exchange: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade By David Richardson; from Transactions of the Royal Historical … – Ian W. Archer – Google Books 2011-10-09 19-27-47.

Let there be piracy …

During the centuries of Britain’s rise (1600-1800), a significant source of wealth was piracy – loot of merchant shipping, on high seas.

A particular target of English pirates were Spanish ships, crossing the Atlantic, carrying gold from the Americas to Spain. English pirates attacked and looted these ships. Any ship was a target – and many a time, the ship itself, and not the cargo, was the target of the pirates.

British access to financial liquidity, initially, was a result, of organized piracy – targeting Spanish merchant shipping. Modern British history glosses over this ‘contribution’ made by piracy.

Looting … uh?

Pirate nation to super-power

Till 1856, sea piracy was legal. And not just legal, but also promoted by European Governments.

The British Crown gave permits to pirates for looting on high seas – through, what were known as, letters of marque. With two conditions – English ships would not be attacked and the State would get a part of the loot.

One of the earliest ‘success stories’ was Pirate John Hawkins. So successful was Pirate Hawkins, that he became Admiral ‘Sir’ John Hawkins. Pirates like Admiral ‘Sir’ John Hawkins made money on slave trade and piracy. This model of ‘voyages’, became the norm for the next 200 years. With the encouragement and sanction of the English State, high seas piracy and African slavery combination became the national industry in Britain. Trafficking African slaves one way, piracy the rest of the time.

Descendants of Admiral ‘Sir’ John Hawkins, recently ‘apologized’ to Africans for the crimes of their ancestor – Admiral ‘Sir’ John Hawkins.

Francis Drake calling for pirate hands. ©Copyright 2009 The Way Network. Click for larger image

Francis Drake calling for pirate hands. ©Copyright 2009 The Way Network. Click for larger image

El Draque

Admiral Hawkin’s more famous nephew, was ‘Sir’ Francis Drake. El Draque, The Dragon, to the Spanish.

Drake’s voyage in the ship Golden Hind is an event in British economic history. His attack on the Spanish ship, Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, nicknamed ‘Cacafuego’ (meaning Shitfire!) captured off Ecuador on March 1, 1579 yielded much loot. It took six days to transfer the loot from the Spanish ship to the British. In this capture, Drake seized 80 pounds of gold and 26 tons of silver. Queen Elizabeth, apart from knighting him, was also a financial partner in these criminal enterprises.

And the Others

Anne Bonney, Henry Morgan (later appointed a Governor in the Caribbean) were other celebrated pirates. Edward Teach (also Edward Thatch, c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard remains famous to this day.

Dutch pirates like Maarten Tromp, Piet Hein (also Heyn), were made admirals. Thin lines divided pirates from official naval forces. Michael de Ruyter , another Dutch pirate became notorious for his raids across the Canadian coastline. Recently, Netherlands named an underground tunnel after Piet Hein – and ditties were written and set to music for Piet Hein. Piet Hein’s became famous when he captured booty worth 1 million sterling or 12 million guilders in gold, silver, and expensive goods like indigo and cochineal from Spanish ships.

Looting from Looters

The main target for pirates – Spanish ships in the Atlantic.

Why only Spanish ships?

Spain, which had a monopoly over most of America by the Papal Bulls, had a steady stream of ships, carrying looted gold from the Americas, after the massacres and genocide of Native Americans.

A captive bows before Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan as Morgan and his men sack the city of Panama in the 1670s. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/11/21/f-pirates-whoswho.html#ixzz0stPqRYn3

A captive bows before Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan as Morgan and his men sack the city of Panama in the 1670s. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/11/21/f-pirates-whoswho.html#ixzz0stPqRYn3

Papal Bulls

How did Spain end with a ‘monopoly’ over the New World?

The Vatican in the 15th century, partitioned the world between Spain and Portugal. Each of these nations were given exclusive rights for expanding ‘trade’, and ‘planting the banner of Christ’. These awards to Spain and Portugal, known as Papal Bulls, excluded Britain, France, Danes, Netherlands and German region.

Was that the reason for the support to Protestantism in most of these countries. Why did Henry VIII change – from a Defender Of The Faith, to revolt against the Church?

The politics of of piracy

After the break with Vatican, during the reign of Henry VIII, no longer tied by Papal injunctions and diktat, the English decided to challenge Spain. After the grant of duopoly to Spain and Portugal, vide the Papal Bulls, by the Church Of Rome, England, France and Netherlands declared open season against Spanish ships.

Jamaica, captured by the British (1655), from the Spanish, was an ideal hideout from which English pirates, attacked Spanish ships. Further, it was it was a safe-haven for escaping Native American Tainos and African Slaves. Called Maroons, they were recruited by these pirate ships, to bolster manpower.

The Spanish Armada was assembled by Spain to end British piracy.

And Britain decided to form a company to challenge Portugal in India. In 1600, the English East India Company (EEIC) was formed to spearhead English trade with India. By 1650, EEIC obtained the firmaan from Shah Jehan to operate in India – and compete with the Iberians.

At the heart of Britain’s wealth – piracy

The explicit use of pirates in the Caribbean brought great riches to the Britain. For a good part of 300 years (1550-1850), the English crown gave permits for pirates to operate on high seas. The rise of European powers coincided closely to piracy. In a modern context, imagine the Italian government giving legal sanction to the Mafia, or Colombians to the Cali cartel.

Keynes famously linked all British foreign investment to the single act of looting of the Spanish Armada. John Maynard Keynes, famously and honestly, tracked the source of British capital – and computed the compounded value of this loot. Keynes wrote: –

I trace the beginnings of British foreign investment to the treasure which Drake stole from Spain in 1580. In that year he returned to England bringing with him the prodigious spoils of the Golden Hind. Queen Elizabeth was a considerable shareholder in the syndicate which had financed the expedition. Out of her share she paid off the whole of England’s foreign debt, balanced her Budget, and found herself with about £40,000 in hand. This she invested in the Levant Company –which prospered. Out of the profits of the Levant Company, the East India Company was founded; and the profits of this great enterprise were the foundation of England’s subsequent foreign investment. Now it happens that £40,ooo accumulating at 3f per cent compound interest approximately corresponds to the actual volume of England’s foreign investments at various dates, and would actually amount to-day to the total of £4,000,000,000 which I have already quoted as being what our foreign investments now are. Thus, every £1 which Drake brought home in 1580 has now become £100,000. Such is the power of compound interest!

Now we all know where the Spaniards got their gold from!

Piracy across the Desert Bloc

Were Europeans the only pirates.

Among Islamic pirates, the more famous were the Barbarossa Brothers – Muslim pirates operating in the Turkey-Mediterranean region. No less capable, or less effective, the Barbarossa Brothers were the most notorious pirates – raiding towns and villages, for slaves. Their raids were feared across the Mediterranean. Against the Barbarossa Brothers were the Knights of St.James.

Indian shipping was also significantly affected by piracy.

Piracy affects India

British historiography claims that Maratha Navy under Kanhoji Angre – which levied taxes on British ships, were privateers and /or a pirate. Before that, Mughal armies removed the Portuguese from Daman, for attacking a royal ship, Rahimi, carrying the Mughal Queen, Maryam uz Zamani,  to the Haj in 1613.

Using their ill-gotten gains, from slavery, piracy, crime, loot, et al Islamic rulers and the English outbid Indian rulers. For military elements like saltpetre, elephants, sepoys, horses, armies et al. In India’s military market, the highest bidder usually also won the subsequent wars.

Increased stranglehold of Indian economic output, after the 1857 war in India, gave British a fresh impetus to de-legitimizing piracy. In 1858, Rep. HL Underwood, on June 10th 1858, on the subject of ‘Increase of the navy’, in the US Congress stated that

United States would be the first to resist the unauthorized use of her flag by vessels of other nations fraudulently to carry on said trade, as Great Britain asserts is being done.

Smuggling, piracy and slave trade as an 'adventure'  | Poster for 1939 film, Jamaica Inn, a story about piracy and smuggling, based on a book by Daphne du Maurier; Starring - Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

Smuggling, piracy and slave trade as an ‘adventure’ | Poster for 1939 film, Jamaica Inn, a story about piracy and smuggling, based on a book by Daphne du Maurier; Starring – Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

Romancing Piracy

British propaganda and the Government made these pirates and privateers into governors, officials and heroes – and the Spanish Armada into an instrument of Catholic repression. In the best Anglo Saxon propaganda tradition, books soon started a ‘white wash’ of slavery and piracy.

One such was the skilled Lord Byron – whose pirate-poem Corsair, sold out its entire print run of 10,000 copies on the first day itself. Another book that chiselled the pirate-image was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Like Mr.Midshipman Easy, by Captain Frederick Marryat (Retd. Royal Navy), in 1836.

British ‘celebration’ of Drake’s fugitive flight from Spanish ships has been credited by no less than Keynes himself as the turning point in British fortunes. 400 years after the Drake’s ‘exploits’, British historians at the Royal Historical Society (image 1) gloss over the role of the British Government as fountainhead of piracy and slave trading in the first place.

Britain’s official historians, the Royal Historical Society, ignores these facts – and instead takes credit for ‘reducing’ piracy.

Vectors of religion and slavery

To marginally ethical people, without recourse to loot, piracy and slavery under the Indic values system of shubh labh, ‘Desert Bloc’ ethics were an ‘attractive’ alternative. Economically affected by shrinkage in Indian exports due to slave raids and piracy, land grab by the colonial Indian State, some took the easy way of embracing English practices and values – giving the British Empire a leg up in India.

Pirates and slave traders as vectors of the insidious Desert Bloc ethic are usually not factored, analysed or discussed. Indian ship manufacturing centres were world leaders. Hence, ‘traders’ (especially slave traders) from the world over came to India shipyards – centred around Kerala, Gujarat and Chittagong. But slavery and loot are the two elephants in the Desert Bloc room which needs to be recognized, examined – and understood.

Kanhoji Angre - Statue at Alibaug

Kanhoji Angre – Statue at Alibaug

When the State commissions crimes!

Behind every great fortune there is a crime – Honoré de Balzac.

For many centuries, piracy, slavery, were encouraged, licenced by European States. Balzac’s statement only be understood with that background.

A 1936 novel by Daphne Du Maurier’s was set in the Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, based on and named after the real Jamaica Inn, a Bolventor pub, that evolved from a coaching inn in 1750, and went on to become famous as a smugglers’ base. Her other book, was the The Frenchman’s Creek (1942), was based on the life of a pirate.

Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. A book examines this phenomenon tangentially – when a ‘licenced’ fighter goes ‘private’! In Asia. Like Britons did in India.

Remember O’Dyer and O’Dwyer!

End of piracy

Piracy was outlawed by The Declaration of Paris, in 1856, ratified by various powers. Initially by Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia and Turkey – but not by Spain, Portugal and the USA.

Beginning of the end for Britain …

Wonder why the Great British culture is taking them nowhere! After they lost their slaves (in 1830), after the end of piracy (1860) and the end of colonies (1960).

Even with a hybrid, mongrel polity, India has emerged as a significant economic force within 60 years of British departure.

Wonder what India missed by a doing this hybrid shindig – instead of a full Indic.


Sexual Equations in Bharattantra

Posted in Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, India by Anuraag Sanghi on October 4, 2011

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Desolate Wasteland

The anti-sex and anti marriage bias of the Desert Bloc has created a global population of nearly 1 crore prostitutes (10 million). Marriage is seen mostly as dysfunctional system across the West or exploitative as in the Islāmic world.

Sexual dynamics of Indian society does not stop at the explicit sculptures of Khajuraho, Konark or the Kamasutra. The most remarkable is the पंच कन्या panch-kanya pantheon.

Concept, Execution, Implementation

अहल्या द्रौपदी तारा कुंती मंदोदरी तथा ।
पंच कन्या स्मरेन्नित्य महापातकनाशनम् ।
Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari
Keeping in memory these five maidens will destroy greatest sins

All these 5 women, considered the ideals of womanhood, ‘knew’ multiple men. Unlike the 5 satis, whose sexual experience was limited only to their husbands. Even today, in classically minded households, the पंच कन्या panch-kanyapantheon is held as ideal in India.

This post extracted below technically examines in much detail, the significance of this shloka. Yet, the post below does not propose an alternate sexual equation – different from the Desert Bloc.

Walking The Talk

The relevance of this shloka was the sexual equation between the genders in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. This shloka proves how sexual liberty for women was guaranteed in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

There is another traditional verse celebrating five satis, chaste wives: Sati, Sita, Savitri, Damayanti and Arundhati. Are then Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari not chaste wives because each has “known” a man, or more than one, other than her husband? If so, why should invoking them be extolled as redeeming? Moreover, why is the intriguing term kanya applied to them?

Of this group, three – Ahalya, Tara, Mandodari – belong to Ramayana, the epic composed by Valmiki, the first seer-poet. Draupadi and Kunti are celebrated inMahabharata, Harivamsa and the Markandeya, Devi Bhagavata and BhagavataPuranas. (via Panchkanya : Women of Substance by Pradip Bhattacharya).

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra guarantees four freedoms – धर्म (dharma – justice), अर्थ (arth – wealth and means), काम (kaam – human desires) मोक्ष (moksha – liberty) and ensures three rights – ज़र (jar – gold), जन (jan – human ties) and जमीन (jameen – property) for all.

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