Burn Your Old History Books – Emerging New History

Posted in European History, Gold Reserves, History, India, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on March 5, 2008

Nag Hammadi Scripts

December, 1945. Nag Hammadi

WW2 was over. Victors were busy, sharing the spoils. Colonies were awaiting release. Feudal systems were wearing thin at the cuffs.

In Upper Egypt, a farmer, Mohammed Ali Samman while digging for sabakh’ (kind of guano, bird droppings used as natural fertiliser), near Nag Hammadi, discovered an earthen jar. Overcoming his initial fears of breaking open the jar (it may well contain djinns), he found some books! Disappointed with his ‘find’, he dumped this in his house along with firewood and straw. His mother used some of the books and pages to start the fire.

20 years later after passing through many hands, it was found that these were the same books that the Catholic Church has been, allegedly, trying to suppress for 1500 years. Only 3 more copies of this book existed in the world.

Till the Nag Hammadi finding, there were three surviving copies of the Gnostic book, The Pistis Sophia – the Askew Codex (in the British Museum), The Berlin (or Akhmim) Kodex (acquired in Cairo, Egypt) and the Bruce Codex (bought in Thebes, Upper Egypt, by Lord James Bruce) donated to the Bodlein Library.

The Dead Sea ScrollsDead Sear Scroll Jar

Two years later, in 1947, at Wadi Qumran, near the Dead Sea, then in Jordan, now in Israel, a Bedouin shepherd boy was finding himself short of his goats. He set out in search of his goats and wandered into nearby caves.

In these dark caves, he made a discovery that shook the Christian world. He found earthen jars containing ancient scrolls written in papyrus, animal skin and copper plates also. Over the next 9 years, more than 900 such documents were recovered from 11 nearby caves. The Jordanian authorities handed it over to a team of (mostly) Catholic priests. For 40 years, this team did not release much information. International uproar about the slow progress and the role of the Catholic Church (re. suppression of these documents for more than 40 years) finally forced the teams to open up the documents.

West Asia

Between 1850-1900, Western archaeologists dug up more than 400,000 clay tablets in West Asia. This loot was carried back to the British Museum, Louvre France, Imperial Museum in Berlin, University Of Pennsylvania. Latter day digs and finds were retained in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. In the last 100 years, of the more than 400,000 clay tablets excavated, less than a 70,000 have been deciphered between the four institutions. Less than one fifth have been published so far.


The Elamite capital is called by Western archaeologists as Susa – but correctly is Shushan (was it so called because it was the seat of of शासन shaasan’, the Sanskritic word for governance). It was initially populated by an aboriginal tribe called ‘uwaja’ (did the Elamites call them पूरवजpurvaja’ – Sanskritic for ancestors) and some other Greek sources called them Uxii.Bas relief From Susan

Alfredo Trombetti, an Italian Elamologist, was an Italian linguist who theorised that all the languages in the world evolved from one language – monogenesis of language, his theory is called. In his book, Elementi Di Glottologia, he worked backwards to North India as the source of all languages. Trombetti learned French, German, Greek, Hebrew and Latin by himself. He spoke these languages when he was 14 years old. In the colonial era, where Britain was the single super cpower, such credit given to India was not welcome.

Archibald Henry Sayce’s essays dealing with Elamite: ‘Amardian or Protomedic Tablets in the British Museum’ settled the initial direction for interpretation for Elamite studies.

Indic Connections

Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region. Ramesis II is about 100 years after Akhenaten – (एकनाथन Eknathan meaning One God in Sanskrit). Akhenaten’s father is AmenhotepIII who wanted to marry the Mittani (another Indic kingdom) princess of Dashratta (Tushrutta). The Indic influence and presence is overwhelming in the Levant at this time. E.g. Instead of building mausoleums, Akhenaten built temples – much like other Indian kings (seen after 10th century AD).

After this there is a slow fadeout and decrease of the Indic rule in the Middle East. The Achmenaid Persians take-over from Elamites (The Indic Dravidians who settled Persia). Egypt became a Roman colony – and turned westward. Judaism began to grow.

Why this change?

Slavery Continues

West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, made Indo Aryan rulers disengage politically from West Asia and Middle East. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three ‘desert religions’, gained their first converts from slaves, but continued with slavery till the 20th century.Hittite Musicians

The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Non-political Indian role in West Asia and Middle East continued to grow in terms of trade and learning. Babylon became a part of Alexander’s empire (and then the Roman Empire).

The slave revolt of Egypt by Moses, made the Indic rulers reform and distance themselves from the slave owning societies. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.

This slave reform and distancing of Indic rulers from slave societies was led by Indian reformers like Buddha and Mahavira. This happened not around and after 500 BC as determined by Western dating logic (which needed to fit the Aryan Invasion Theory, The ‘evolution’ of Greek and Romans) – but around 1000 BC.

Reformist Rulers & Inherited Systems

In the extended India, slavery was an inherited social system – for which the Hittites made some liberal laws. The inherited norm of slavery was sought to be liberalised, in incremental manner by the Indic societies of the Middle East.Slavery In Egypt

This incremental liberalisation created a backlash against the ‘holier-than-thou’ Indians, by the slave-owning, ruling classes of the non-Indic societies – and the newly liberated classes also. The ancient equivalent of Nixon’s outbursts against the ‘sanctimonious Indians.’ It was this humane treatment of slaves and humanization of criminals which has possibly resulted in a the low crime rates in India.

Who were blamed

Possibly, the Indic reformers. The liberated blame the liberator. Much like Gandhiji was killed by a Hindu.

I can hear people screaming, ‘Who asked you to give such fancy ideas like dignity, freedom to these slaves. Look now what has happened”. And when the unemployed, hungry slaves were turned back by their bankrupt masters, the slaves must have said, “You have created these rifts. All that we asked for was a little less of work and a little more of comfort. We don’t want this freedom. Can we eat freedom!”

Anti-Babylon tirades in in the Judeo-Christian tradition were a direct result of this anti-slavery attitude of the Indics in the Middle East. Moses and Semitic followers freed themselves – and enslaved others. Possibly, the Indics in Babylon did not approve of such practices – and hence the anti-Babylon tirades.

The Moses Connection

This liberalisation triggered a (vengeful) Moses to walk out of Egypt and formed Judaism – a monotheistic religion. The (suspected) Pharaoh at that time was Ramesis-II roughly between 1300-1200 BC. This is also when the Battle of Kadesh happened with the Hittites, which resulted in the most famous treaty.

The cause of this battle was the defection of King Benteshina of the Amurru (is the correct name Bente = वंश vansha in Sanskrit and shin = moon goddess; meaning Chandravanshi?). The Amurru, (also known as Amorites) possibly switched sides from being an Egyptian vassal, to a Hittite ally. Were Amurrus, the Mauryas who later defeated the Seleucid army?

Military paradigm changes

As the political disengagement progressed, the Indic rulers also changed the military paradigm. Buddhist texts talk about 16 mahajanapadas – which formed this ruling federation.

The foremost administrative innovation was the concept of Bharata(ah) – the aryavart and the arya dhwaj. Comprising of 16 to 30 mahajanapadas, Bharata(ah) became a federation of kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms became a series of succeeding lines of defence against invading armies. What the European Union is grappling with, (and may yet fail) for the last 300 years, was implemented and used 3000 years ago in India.

Six other important changes were seen.

One war chariots became less important. By the time of Alexander’s march in India, chariots were a minor part of the Indian armies. Instead, the importance of cavalry increased. Bessos, the Bactrian mathista, designated to succeed Darius III, led the successful Indic cavalry charge, at Gaugamela, on the Macedonian right flank – which forced Alexander to focus on the centre of the Persian army, led by Darius III.

When Alexander finally was able to make his way to India, he met a fierce onslaught of the Indian cavalry units – supported by fearsome elephants. Indian cavalry units were always smaller than in other nations due to paucity of horses in India. India was a traditional importer of horses. For combat use, Indian cavalry used imported horses and Indian breeds (like the marwari breed) were smaller – easily trained and more intelligent, but smaller and less stamina, were used as as pack animals .

Two – a system of alliances supporting frontline kingdoms in the entire North West Indian swath was formulated. For instance, against the Assyrian invasion, led by Semiramis, a minor Indian king, Stabrobates, was supported to beat back the Assyrian invasion. Against Cyrus the Great, Tomyris, a Scythian Queen was supported to massacre the Persian invaders. Alexander’s nightmare began immediately, as soon as he crossed into the Indic area.

Instead of the complete collaboration that Alexander got from the defeated Achmaenid ruling family of Sisygambis, Stateira, Oxathres (brother of Darius III; also written as oxoathres and oxyathres) et al, the foursome of Bessos, Spitamenes, Datafernes and the Scythians made Alexander’s life miserable. At Gaugamela, it was Bessos and his cavalry which broke Alexander’s formation.

The tribes and kshatrapas (satraps) of Indian North West swath, delayed Alexander for nearly three years – before he could step into India. In India, Alexander had to pay the King of Taxiles, Omphis, (Ambi) 1000 talents of gold (more than 25 tons of gold) – to secure an alliance. He had to return the kingdom of Punjab to Porus – purportedly, after winning the battle. His loot and pickings from India were negligible. Thus while, invaders were kept at bay, within the Indic area, borders and crowns kept changing and shifting.

Three – the biggest game changer were the elephant corps. War elephants was an Indian invention and an Indian monopoly. After the defeat and death of Cyrus The Great at the hands of Tomyris, the Persians stopped looking India-wards. 500 years later (nearly), with the help of the Indian elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders.

With these three changes, Indian heartland became invincible. Empire builders like the Assyrian Queen, Semiramis and the Achmaenian Emperor, Cyrus the Great mounted expensive campaigns to conquer India – and barely escaped with their lives. Later, Genghis Khan’s armies  avoided India completely. Timurlane could invade India – when Delhi was under rule by a foreign dynasty, the Tughlaks. Indian invincibility and military prowess was unmatched for till the 13th century – when the first foreign rulers, the Slave Dynasty rulers from the Levant started ruling from Delhi – Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1206.

Four – Indian teachers and intellectuals were sent to all corners of the world. The spread of Buddhism in Asia is well chronicled. Socrates’ encounter with an Indian yogi however, is not so well known. Mani, the Buddhist teacher was feared by the Vatican for the next 1000 years. Vatican killed, burnt and quartered all those who displayed any leaning towards Manicheanism. Islamic invaders searched and destroyed statues or ‘boet’ (meaning statues of Buddha?).

Five – the legal and political structures were popularized. The usage of gold was popularized  and became widespread as an economic tool. Coinage in India was not a royal prerogative or   implemented by fiat. Thus, for instance, there were intricate Greco-Bactrian coins, (probably privately minted) compared to crude and simple Indic official coins. Sanskritic and Darvidian systems were used to structure ancient languages like Akkadian and Elamite. Slavery in Asia went into remission till the rise of Islam. Religious persecution became a random occurrence. Asian economy accounted for between 50%-80% of world economic output.

Alexander’s takeover of the Assyrio-Persian empire in Asia was largely reversed. The spread of the Roman Empire, built on slavery and loot, was halted at West Asia. The Sassanian Dynasty with its elephant corps, the  Zend-hapet, or “Commander of the Indians,” blockaded the Asian continent from Western invaders – which stabilized Asiatic societies. Initially, the Sassanian dynasty was able to wrest back and later defend the Persian dominions from the Greco-Romans rulers after setting up an Indian elephants corps in their army – evidenced, for instance, by the carvings at Taq-i-Bustan. At one time, the Sassanian rulers had increased its elephant corps to 12,000 elephants.

Sixth – Technologically, the Indian invention of Wootz steel, was another game changer. Wootz steel, which was an Indian monopoly from 500 BC till nearly 1900 AD, was the best steel for swords, lances, spears – for defence products. Wootz steel, was the preferred input in the world, for swords, pistols and such. Known as Damascus steel, it went into Japanese Katanas, European guns. The famed Damascus steel swords, armour and pistols, used steel ingots imported from India as Wootz steel. Indian exports of Wootz was a big earner for India till British efforts killed this industry in India. Subsequent efforts to “reverse engineer” this technology in Europe during the 20th century, has been unsuccessful. Damascus was the trading centre over which the Battle of Kadesh, the biggest chariot battle, was fought between the Indo-Aryan Hittites and the Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses-II fought.

Moses & Christ

Christ – a more forgiving man than the vengeful Moses, came in a little later. His life as a young man has been obscured. Till 400 AD, Buddhism was blanking out Christianity. Constantine’s Council of Nice, the subsequent State patronage and force of Church oppression thereafter ensured the survival and growth of Christianity.

Mani – Linking Buddhism to Christ

Mani, a Buddhist preacher who also talked of Christ as a major reform teacher was seen as a major threat by the Church from 250 AD to till about 1500 AD.

Buddhism had already spread to Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan – making waves. The Church was having a uphill time in gaining believers from new religions – like Buddhism, and Mani, a Persian Buddhist teacher trained in India. The Manichean religion was an eclectic mix of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Mithraism. It appealed to significant sections of the population, as it showed continuity from earlier faiths. It recognised earlier prophets and teachers like Buddha and Jesus – and Mani as the last teacher in this line of prophets.

Christian writers (Hippolytus and Epiphanius) write about Scythianus, who visited India around 50AD from where he brought ideas about Apokatastasis (re-birth) – “the doctrine of the Two Principles”. Scythianus’ pupil Terebinthus (Tere – Lord + binthu = Hindu; Hindu Lord) called himself as a “Buddha” (“Buddas”), as mentioned in writings of Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles “becoming known and condemned”, and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani.

This religion spread far – from Europe to China. In China, this was integrated with Buddhist beliefs (Taisho Tripitaka). In Afghanistan, Iran it was Aiyn-e-Mani. In Europe it became Manichean. This posed a challenge to the Church. The response of the Church – wipe the very thought of a different belief.

Simply put, this religion posited that there is an eternal struggle between Good and Evil. Men should protect themselves against evil (the Roman Church feared that this may lead to Devil worship) and lead a life of virtue. The Vatican Church believed that there was God and he did not create evil.

Women (Eve) did. This was the Original Sin. All mankind are sinners now and need to pray to God (and Jesus was his son and sent to Earth to save mankind) and redeem ourselves. St.Augustine was canonised for his conversion from Manichean to Christianity.

Pistis Sophia, Gnostics & Buddhism

Pistis Sophia (surviving as Bruce Codex, Berlin-Akhmim Codex and Askew Codex) were suppressed by Britain and Germany for decades. Rediscovered as Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamamdi manuscripts, research has been slowed to a crawl. The question now is no more ‘did Buddhism influence Christianity’ but ‘how much did Buddhism influence Christianity’. Do these manuscripts show a greater extent of Buddhism than colonial Britain, supremist Germany and the Vatican would like to admit?

Slavery In India

Slavery in India, disappeared from about 1000 BC. Zilch. Nyet. Non. Nada, nada. Unlike in the rest of the world, no records, ever, have been found of human trafficking in the Indic bloc. Indian pauranik and classical history begins to make sense only after the concept of ‘asuras’ as a verbal cue for slavery, slave masters and slave traders is used. Sanskrit and Indic languages have no word for ‘slave’. In modern times, India’s rise as a power in computing industry, is also partly due to the same logical structure of Sanskrit language.

While the Levant and the Occident continued with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD, in India (referring to the Greater India, including the Hittites and Mitannis) after 1100 BC, slavery vanished. Compared to the retributive and vengeful Hammurabi’s code, the Indic rulers of Middle East (the Hittites, Mittanis and Elamites) already had a more liberal and humane legal system.

Kung-fu stances

Kung-fu stances

Enter The Ahimsa Twins

Buddha and Mahavira come in.

Western historian dates are slotted for 500 BC for the ahimsa ‘twins’. What if the Buddha and Mahavira are from the 1000 BC – and led the reform against slavery. This also ties in with the historic (and unique) movement of Indian diet towards an increase in vegetarian component.

Indic rejection of slavery, led to their disengagement from the Middle East, where other cultures, continued with slavery. From dominance, Indians became satisfied with presence and influence. Capture by slave traders and slavery was also the reason, that possibly, Indian traders preferred buyers to come to them. This also accounts for the system of unarmed combat that travelled with Buddhist monks to China – and became Chinese Kung Fu, or the Kalaripayattu (in Kerala) or the system of लठैद (combat practitioners using ‘lathis’ – bamboo sticks).

The Ahimsa Appeal

The exhortation towards ‘ahimsa’ is an appeal to the ‘oppressors’ to stop ‘himsa’ against all life – and similarly for the oppressed to resolve the social issues by ‘ahimsa.’ There is of course, some merit in taking some issues like oppression at a general level, as a matter of principal – and not to get bogged down in specifics.

Do keep in mind that Elamites, (cousins of modern Dravidians) founded Persia; the Middle East was influenced and had significant presence of Indic Mittanis and Hittites – and India was far bigger than what we see today.Buddha

Slave Memory In Indian Society

Slave memory faded out and there are only some stray references in Indian classical literature about slavery – like the Harishchandra story. The understanding of the word ‘asura’ changed – and foreign words like ‘ghulam’ made their way into Indic languages.

Jataka stories (mainly considered as children’s stories in the West) are a reflection of social mores, realities- and also cautionary tales for adults. This Jataka story (click on the link) refers to a “demon’ (another word for a slave trader) and cautions travellers and merchants about slave traders. This ‘demon’ kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind. Similarly, the story of Bali, the righteous Asura king, who was sent to the patalaloka, by Vamana, makes sense, the moment ‘demons’ are defined as slave-owners and enslavers.

Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.

In modern times, though India is a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus. In August 2008, there was hoax story, which alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database – and sold to the European underworld – and some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

The Greek Dark Age

Around the 1000 BC inflection point, there is another interesting thing that happened – the so called Greek Dark Age. From 1200 BC to 900 BC – when the Indic kingdoms, like Hittites, the Mittanis and Elamites were dis-engaging from the Levant, the Greeks went through ‘a catastrophe’. Egypt and Mesopotamia were threatened. Two Mycenaen cities, 40 other cities of Turkey, Syria and Middle East were destroyed.

The Greek Miracle assisted by the revival of trade links with India through the Phoenicians in 900 BC. And the Greek city states who were the recipients of the slaves from the Anatolia. These new found slaves from the Middle East spurred the ‘Greek Miracle’.

And who were the Phoenicians? Some suggest that the word ‘phoenia’ is corruption of ‘bania’ – and these were the South Indian sea-traders, with ships made in Masulipatnam and Sopara.

Plague, Locusts, Disease

So what was behind the the Indian disengagement from West Asia, the Greek Dark Age and the fall of the XVIIIth dynasty of Egypt.

Moses and Judaism, slavery, revolt of the slaves is my hypotheses. With the walkout by slaves, cities became dirty, plague broke out, agriculture suffered and locusts descended. With malnutrition, hunger and deprivation, came diseases.The newly liberated slaves fled to Greece – on Phoenician ships, where they were enslaved again.

And who went to town claiming credit for mishaps in Egypt? Moses, proclaiming the power of his God.

Vegetarianism & Cows

This outbreak of war between the slave owners, led to reform in Indian diet. Increased vegetarianism in India. India diets (there are vast regional and ethnic variations) has the lowest ‘meat’ content in the world. The sheer dominance of non-meat items in the normal Indian diet is unique in the world.

This also made the cow ‘holy’ – as the cow saved Indians during this difficult times. The Indian cow is incredibly easy to maintain. The Indian zebu cow yields nutritious milk, butter, ghee, eats anything, is resistant to diseases, has a long life (15-20 years), short gestation period, bull calves can be used as ‘draft’ animals, cow-dung can be used for fuel – and, of course, cow skin makes the best leather.

What Did This Do In India

At least 3000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.

It was these events in 1000 BC which made two things happen.

It catalysed the refinement and consolidation of Sanskrit, the Vedas, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata et al. And it led to many reform leaders, the Bodhisatvas and Tirthankaras – prime amongst whom were Buddha and Mahavira, who counselled patience, introspection, ahimsa to their followers.

In modern times, the easiest test of oppression is ‘statistically significant’ population decline. And there has been no population decline in India to even talk about ‘oppression’ in the genocidal meaning that the West tries equating with India – to cover up their own genocides.

Dates and Periodization

Of course, Western historians (and its followers) will throw the problem of dates at this hypothesis. Buddha and Mahavira were periodized circa 500 BC by Western historians; to ensure that the Greeks got all the credit and that the Aryan invasion theory became feasible. A relook at the dates will support this hypotheses.

The other aspect is that even if Buddha and Mahavira are correctly dated, the role of Tirthankaras and Bodhisatvas (highly regarded by Gautama Buddha and Mahavira) cannot be diminished in the reform story.

Anton Fuhrer – Fixer Of Dates & Places

The gentleman who is supposed to have ‘fixed’ Gautama Buddha’s birthplace, date and time was a certain Dr.Alois Anton Fuhrer. This gentleman was subsequently accused of having tampered with archaeological artifacts – and the Lumbini artifacts etc.

Call it reform or evolution. Slavery was clearly an inherited institution in some part of the great Indic spread.

Feminism, Women, Social Position, et al

Posted in Feminist Issues, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on November 13, 2007

Indian women in the ancient world …

One of the wonders of the ancient world was The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – commissioned by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for Amytis, his homesick Elamite princess. Amytis, the daughter of the Median King, (a neo Elamite King), longed for the greenery of her homeland. A prominent ruler of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, 605-562 BC, (as spelt in English) not only married a Elamite princess, but also took on an Elamite name (related to the Dravidian languages). Replace ‘b’ with ‘d’ and you are very close the Tamil name of Neduncheziyan (Nedunchedianuru) – a current and modern Tamil name.

Interestingly, Neduncheziyan is more famous as the fabled erring Pandyan King in the Tamil classic – Silappadhikaaram. Neduncheziyan’s mistaken justice, brings him grief and finally death. In the Tamil classic, Neduncheziyan is overshadowed by the other King, Cheran Senguttavan. Cheran Senguttuvan’s fame rests today on the Tamil classic, Silappadhikaaram – written by Jain Saint, Elangovadigal.

And who were the Elamites?

The Elamites

The people of Elam (yes in Tamil, Eelam means homeland), were the first to civilise the Iranian Peninsula in the 2700 BC period. They were contemporaries of the Egyptians, the Mittanis and the Hittites. The Elamites were a significant people till the 800BC in Persia (modern day Iran).

The Elamites concluded a major treaty with the Akkadian, King Naram-sin (Naram to Narain and Sin is the moon goddess, Chandra; possibly Narayan Chandra). Akkadian language, is itself implicated of being in cahoots with Sanskrit and Indus Valley languages – and the creation and spread of most modern languages. The Elam culture had a language which is similar to Dravidian languages. Elamites were founders of the first kingdom in the Iranian geography.Bas relief From Susan

The Greatest Chariot Battle In History

1301 BC. An Egyptian land army, numbering more than 20,000, (divided in 4 divisions) was raised. The leader – Pharoah Ramesses-II of the XIX Dynasty. They were out to punish a small kingdom of Hittites, for trying to lure Amuru, Egyptian vassals, to their side. Another force set sail, in ships, to reach Byblos and squeeze the Hittites in the world’s first pincer movement.

What followed was a historic chariot battle.

Peace broke when the queens of Hatti and Egypt, Puduhepa and Nefertari, both of Indo-Aryan extract and parentage, respectively, sent one another congratulatary gifts and letters. Over the next 15 years, they arrived at modus vivendi and drafted a peace treaty.

This peace treaty is the first in recorded history. A replica of this peace pact, in cuneiform tablet, found at Hattusas, Boghazkoi, hangs above the Security Council Chamber, United Nations, in New York, – a demonstration to modern nations the power of peace through international treaties.

Enter The Mittanis

One series are letters written by a Mittani king named Tushratta (meaning ” of splendid chariots”, similar to Dashratha meaning ” of ten chariots”) writes to his son-in-law, Amenhotep III, the king of Egypt ( the letter reads much like an Indian father-in-law’s letter will). Amenhotep married Tadukhepa, Tushratta’s daughter.

In these letters Tushrutta reminds Amenhotep, how his father, Thutmose IV had sought marriage seven times, with Tushrutta’s daughter, before this marriage to, Tadukhipa, was agreed upon.

Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region. Ramesis II is about 100 years after Akhenaten – (एकनाथन Eknathan meaning One God in Sanskrit). Akhenaten’s father, Amenhotep-III who wanted to marry the Mittani (another Indic kingdom) princess, daughter of Dashratta (Tushrutta).

Similarly, in order to marry Hattusil II’s daughter, the Amorite King Putakhi agreed, in the treaty of alliance for a specific clause “to the effect that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore”.

The daughter of King Artatama was married to Tuthmose IV, Akhenaten’s grandfather, and the daughter of Sutarna II (Gilukhipa, – “khipa” of these names is the Sanskrit “kshipa,” night) was married to his father, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), the great temple builder (alike the focus on temple construction in South East Asia 1000 years later).

Queen Sitamen

Queen Sitamen

In his old age, Amenhotep wrote to Dasharatha many (7 requests are documented and evidenced) times wishing to marry his daughter, Tadukhipa. It appears that by the time she arrived Amenhotep III was dead. Tadukhipa married the new king Akhenaten and she became famous as the queen Kiya (short for Khipa).

What is it, about these Indic princesses, that made them so sought after?

Indic women and Political Power

Interestingly, most Indic countries have had women in political power – in the post WW2 nations. Srimavo Badranaike, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Shaikh Hasina, Khalida Zia, Sukarnoputri, (not to forget Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Uma Bharathi) were amongst the first in the world to rule their countries. The three divas/devis of Indonesia are not a co-incidence. Aung San Suu Kyi is waiting in the wings to add to this list.

An all-time favorite is, of course, the USA without a woman President, Chief Justice. So, much for political opportunity in the land of the free!

Economic Power

India has the world’s largest private Indian gold reserves! And it is Indian women who have created, maintained these reserves over the centuries even to the amusement of the westerners. It is RBI’s failure that India has no financial instrument to make this gold, liquid, usable and empower India(n women).

Chinese Guanyin Figure

Chinese Guanyin Figure


The 2 most important festivals in India – Deepavali and Dusshera, are devoted to Lakshmi and Durga. Feminine goddesses. How many societies in the world have any female deities at all? Which society celebrates the biggest days in the year with female deities?

Marija Gimbutas, a Lithuanian archaeologist, an expert in 16 European languages, excavated sites of Vinca, Starcevo, Karanovo and Sesklo cultures. Based on some pioneering work, she suggested that Indo-European cultures have descended from matristic (not even matriarchal) cultures which also worshiped “mother goddess” or female deities – something which starts happening from Indic cultures only. The whole of West Asian, European cultures have no worship of any female deity. Interesting thing is the furore this has caused – How can We Europeans, be female worshipers? is the unspoken objection!

In China, it was Buddhism which enabled the introduction of a female deity, Guanyin (or Kuanyin, Kwan Yin, Miao Shan, 观音觀音), the Goddess of Mercy, in the Chinese pantheon. Though there are 4th century mentions of Guanyin, but it was only 14th century, during the Ming dynasty, that worship of Guanyin became popular.

Working Women

Amongst the poor and low income income families, women are in a position of power as they significant contributors to family income. Malnutrition amongst poor, exists – regardless of gender or age.

Amartya Sen highlights in his landmark study (Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation By Amartya Sen) about The Great Bengal Famine that “…for every dead woman there were nearly two dead men …” Sir Charles Elliot Famine Commissioner in Mysore in 1876 the general belief about Indian famines that “all authorities seem agreed that women succumb to famine less easily than men.”

However, it was by the beginning of 20th century, that the West put the Birkenhead Drill in place. First used by HMS Birkenhead, in 1852, it allowed orderly evacuation of women and children first. Over the next 50 years this became standard practice. In India, during famines, the old, the children and women were the last to be deprived. It was the men who paid the price.

Role Models

Indian texts, scriptures and classical litertaure has no negative characterisation for a wife – Mandodari, Ahalya, Sita, Draupadi, Kunti – the entire pantheon. The story of Kannagi’s fight for justice for her husband (from the classic Tamil play, Silappatikaram) is repeated in some part of South India, every day, even now, 2000 years later.

The Western frieze of mythical characters includes Delilah, Helen, Clytemnestra , Jezebel murderesses, adulteresses. The entire Greco-Roman frieze does not have a single positive characterisation of a wife.

Women are the source of all evil is current western concept – after all, Eve led Adam to his downfall from the Garden Of Eden. After a war with Midianites, Moses asked the Israelite army to kill all the women captives.

Moses blames the women – and an angry Moses tells the commanders

“of thousands and commanders of hundreds – who returned from the battle.”Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They (the women) were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Italics, emphasis, bold letters mine).

In India a Grihalakshmi can take her Pati Parmeshwar anywhere in life.

Universal Suffrage

Universal suffrage came to the USA, Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia after a long struggle. The USA had to pass the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920; Italy in 1945; Canada in 1940; France gave women the right to vote in 1945; Switzerland in 1971 gave its women the right to vote in all elections.

These “advanced” countries, gave women the right to vote after a long struggle. In India, universal suffrage in 1950 started from the very first election in sovereign India. Without any female activism, Republican India had universal adult franchise from the very first day.

Education And Women

Indian women have been doctors, lawyers – and freedom fighters. The role of women like Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Nehru, Kasturba Gandhi’s Annie Beseant, Madam Cama is more famous than known.

An interesting insight on the role that Indian women are playing in education is highlighted in – “Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Religious Discourse” by Laura E. Donaldson, Pui-lan Kwok. Indian women have been in the vanguard of the Indian culture – Bharatnatyam, Classical Indian Music and Sanskrit. If Indian culture survives another 100 years, Indian Woman, you saved it.

In the explosive TV content sphere, it is a matter of interest that TV stars are women – and men seem to be playing a nominal role (of looking good; next to their women).

Indian Women & Fashion

Much to the grief of Luciano Bennetton, Indian women have not taken after western fashion – unlike Indian men. Indian women have changed their fashion sense – from very regional variations to the very pan-Indian salwar kameez. But Indian.

But 2300 years before Luciano Bennetton, when Alexander’s armies visited India, one of the few things they could take away were Indian clothes. Indian clothing became popular in Macedonia. The Macedonian national costume is the salvaria – which is the same as the salwar of the Indian North West. The entire North West Indian sub-continent, from Punjab to Afghanistan wears the salwar – which is tubular leggings.

This is a unisex garment – like the sari /dhoti also is. And popular all over India today. Unlike other parts of the world, where women were forced to conform to a male standards and prescriptions of dressing, Indian women were free and dressed like their men did (Feminists note – Indian men were forced to dress, like their women did, since you insist).

Unisex clothing, saris and dhotis dominate the Indian plains, and the salwars, in the North West mountain regions of Indian sub-continent. The Indo-Scythians used leather leggings – which were helpful in case of long marches on horse backs.

Criminals & Rape

While the press and activists beat their breasts about crimes against women, an interesting first hand insight that I can share. In Indian prisons, criminals and under-trials accused of rape are shunned by all other prisoners. They are not welcome in by other prisoners – in any any social activity. This is one crime that other criminals do not accept. However, much Indian films may show criminals targeting women, in reality, inside prison walls, criminals who have targeted women are not accepted.

Divide et impera

Indian women have a poor status in society – just like all other Indians. Period.

Indian society, due to economic poverty, political evolution, social changes has a long way to go before people (women, men and children) are treated right. Indian poli+bureau+crats are following their old colonial gurus and using ‘divide et impera’ divide and rule strategy. Further, western agenda, ideology, humungous funds drive many governmental programmes – which further creates false issues.

So, there are a myriad lost causes – child labour, dowry, poverty, backward classes, reservations, each one of which divides and gets lost in the “dreary desert sands”. Isolating “women’s” causes just furthers the date when everybody will get treated right. And that is my quarrel with all these sociologists, feminists, NGO groups who have serious misgivings about the status and empowerment of women in Indian society.

These misgivings – based on anecdotal evidence, ‘international’ (read as western) imagery and paradigms, social biases and prejudices completely miss the picture.

Post Script

Shobha Narayan, a columnist, wrote,

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Indian clothes are on the verge of dying out of corporate India. Sure, there are women executives who wear saris: ICICI’s Renuka Ramnath, Britannia’s Vinita Bali and HSBC’s Naina Lal Kidwai come to mind. In Bangalore, I am proud to say that prominent women such as Sudha Murthy and Rohini Nilekani don’t just wear Indian clothes, but bindis as well.

Unlike traditional Japanese attire such as the kimono, Indian clothes are wonderfully adaptable and comfortable. Nobody even knows what traditional Chinese clothing is. You have to go to Lijiang and Dali and observe pretty maidens from the Yi tribe in colourful red clothes to realize what China has lost in its race for economic prosperity at all costs

For my Delhi gig, I took the middle path, which I guess is the same as copping out. I wore Western clothes for one session and Indian clothes for another. I am not proud of my choice. I feel that I should have worn Indian clothes throughout, particularly in light of what I’ve just said. But cut me some slack, okay? It was my first presentation and I wanted to blend in.

Shoba Narayan has spent time in three countries – India, the United States and Singapore. After graduation, she enrolled as a Foreign Fellow at Mount Holyoke College where she majored in Fine Arts, focusing on welded steel sculptures. She went on to do five years of Art – three in graduate school in Memphis, and a summer at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.

After marriage, … she attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism (J-school) and received a Master’s degree. She also won the Pulitzer Travelling Fellowship awarded to the top three students in each graduating class. Armed with the degree, she pursued a career in freelance journalism, writing for many publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Condenast Traveler, Time, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Saveur, Newsweek, Beliefnet and House Beautiful, among others. She also worked as a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered Weekend.

Shoba’s first book, “Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes” was published in April 2003 by Random House. She lives in Bangalore, India with her husband and two daughters.

And no! Indian clothes (and whole parts of India) are not dying out, Shobha! There are Indian Women (many more like you) taking care of that! Thanks.

But a rare piece of journalism was recently in the Times Of India. Untouched by Western effacement of Indian alternatives, this post makes some interesting points about the role of Indian women in Indian politics.

“A patriarchal ethos dominates both the societies, American and Indian, but they operate in different ways. In India, despite the patriarchal ethos, powerful women leaders have emerged,” says political scientist Imtiaz Ahmed.

The most famous examples are BSP chief Mayawati and AIADMK head Jayalalitha. Both emerged from the shadow of iconic godfathers, to establish themselves as leaders with grassroots support.

Neerja Gopal Jayal, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s centre of law and governance points out that “Even at the panchayat level, we have had women from the member families being nominated. But the first time, patronage may work but not the second time. And this is true at the national level too.”

Clearly, the Indian system — or lack of it — gives space to those who have no political backing or godfathers. For every Jayalalitha, Sonia Gandhi or Sheila Dikshit, there is a Mamata Banerjee, Sushma Swaraj and Renuka Chaudhary.

Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research says, “What is unique to India, is the fact that women have the space to grow as leaders. Maybe, it has to do with our cultural ethos, where women are worshipped as goddesses.’’

More power to you Indian Woman.

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