2ndlook

Indian Classical Texts: Are they History, Mystery or Mythology?

Posted in History, India, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on June 26, 2012

Over the last 8-12 centuries, Indian historical figures have undergone ‘religiofication’. Result – India’s political history has been ‘lost’.

From: The true believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements  |  By Eric Hoffer  |  Page 6

From: The true believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements | By Eric Hoffer | Page 6

“Religiofication” as Eric Hoffer defined it, was all about turning practical purposes into holy causes. As noted, this leads to the politicization of religion and the religiofication of politics.

An important element of भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra was restrictions on power of elites over other people. Hence, power to criminalize or demonize people was anti-भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

De-Constructing History – And Language, Metaphors Mnemonics

If Indians classics like Mahabharata and Ramayana were mythology, then they would not have so many characters. So many of these characters appear in a line or a few verses and contribute nothing to the ‘story.’ Take the chapter on the descent of Gnaga. There is the vague king called asmanjas – whose name has come to embody dilemma. There is no need for him in the story – yet he is there. He interestingly, reappears in Egypt, in the Amarna tablets as Zananzas.

Now, if we assume that this history, then a lot of the overlays have to deconstructed.

Three de-constructions that I will leave you with: –

1. Sita – the name means furrow – as she was orphan found by Janak. (Unrelated, but Sita was also a vague, Vedic goddess, who we have forgotten, who was the goddess of fertility).

This simply means that she was a child of commoner – and earth’s child. Bhumiputri. Even today, bhumiputra is a political term used in Malaysia to denote natives – as opposed to immigrants.

When her husband’s exile was confirmed, she could have easily stayed back in the royal palace – and awaited the return of her husband. But again, her upbringing comes into play. As a commoner, she valued merit over birth. She would rather enjoy life with her husband than live alone in royal palace.

Again, after marital /political discord, Sita is unworried about royal comforts – and walks out. To reclaim her common life.

When her sons’ attain age, she again walks away and goes back to earth, her common, anonymous life, to prevent any emotional conflict and the dilution of loyalty in her sons towards their royal father, who kingdom they were to inherit.

How many times, we see estranged mothers use their children against the father? Sita eliminated this possibility by going back to earth.

And walking away from her sons.

This deconstruction is consistent with Sita’s meritocratic behavior. If Sita had an iota of entitlement-based thinking, she would have accepted Ravana’s proposal for marriage, instead of a disinherited, wandering, friendless prince that her husband was. She was entitled to all that Ravana was offering. But Sita values on loyalty and meritocratic thinking would not accept that proposal.

This also contrasts against the silly, modern interpretation of defenseless, victim of a patriarchal, backward, social structure.

2. Agnipareeksha – How will a husband, test his wife’s feelings, after nearly ten years of separation? After ten years of loneliness? If she still loved a disinherited, wandering, friendless prince that her husband was?

Even after victory over Ravana, Rama did not have a kingdom or a home.Remember that Bharat was anointed king of Bharata by Dashratha, and ruling over Ayodhya.

Rama did not know that a welcome awaited him. If Bharata decided there could have been another war to reclaim Ayodhya. And another few years of agony for Sita.

How would a husband test his wife’s love in such a situation?

Words?

I think not!

What could be the alternate meanings of agni, fire in such a situation? Was ‘agni‘ a metaphor?

3. War and women in India – If you read Mahabharata, after the war, it is the women of the slain warriors who do the final funerary rites. These soldiers had come Keykaya (Iran). Gandhara (Balochistan), Pragjyotishpura (Assam-Bengal-Afghanistan) etc.

How long would it take for messengers to reach their homes, and bring the women? Were the bodies rotting for so long? Disease, pollution from thousands of bodies lying for weeks would have made Kurukshetra unlivable.

Did the wives travel with the soldiers?

I believe they did?

Remember how after the Third Battle of Panipat, some 20,000 odd women were taken as captives? Similarly if you read the accounts of Nunez, the 16th century European chronicler in India, he talks of many women accompanying the soldiers. Nunez thinks they were prostitutes – because he could not imagine loyal wives who would follow their husbands to battle.

Why is Krishna Worshipped

Krishna was a completely different story. Off the top, I can think of the ten really big achievements.

1. Unarmed Combat: – Krishna’s killing of Kaiwalyapidu, Kamsa’s rogue elephant, the deaths of Chanura and Mustika and of Kamsa himself were all chronicles in unarmed combat, where as children, Krishna and Balarama showed that even children can defend themselves. This went later to China – and we have the birth of Kung-fu.

2. Kill-and-eat: Krishna pioneered the grow-and-eat economy with dairy as the backbone of the food chain. He started with the cleaning of Yamuna – which I presume was heavily polluted by endless dumping of meat-waste. You only have to see how animal fat is extracted or glue (sares) made from animal waste (bones and skins) to understand how polluting this is.

Krishna, it was who probably, replaced animal fat with dairy fat – and his love of butter was an indicator of this change. Krishna’s jumping into the polluted Yamuna, to get his ball, and the killing of Kaaliya nag, is how he cleaned the Yamuna – by transforming a kill-and-eat food system to grow-and-eat system.

3. Animal Husbandry: He also pioneered the taming of the bull-calf – which is why he is called natho.

4.Agriculture: Balarama pioneered ploughing and irrigation – the backbone of agriculture.

5. Transportation: As a charioteer he popularized fast transportation – which is why you will find him in all parts of India.

6. Plant Breeding: He brought the legendary Parijaat tree – which is the famous Baobab tree from probably West Asia or Africa (supposedly flying on a Garuda). Baobab tree is unique tree that lives for hundreds of years, can store enough water for a small village population, and its fruit and leaves have great nutritive value.

7. Escape From Superstition: Krishna swept away all the superstitions and ancient folk-gods during the Goverdhan incident.

8. Diplomacy: He laid out principles of diplomacy during Shishupal Vadh and his peace embassy before the War of Mahabharata.

9. Marriage & Society: He also reinforced the principles of free marital choice in the Subhadra-Arjun incident with well-structured arguments and negotiations.

10. His warcraft was second to none – which is why he alone was enough for the Pandavas. He was the inventor of the discus – the Sudarshana chakra. As an expert war-charioteer, he played a crucial role in Mahabharata.

Thus Krishna’s contribution in politics, ethics, combat-and-warcraft, transportation, animal husbandry, agriculture have never been duplicated in history.

Krishna’s two most famous killings were Kamsa and Jarasanda. Both these rulers were prolific ‘imprisoners’. Krishna killed both of them – and Narakasura. All three have been mentioned as rulers who imprisoned people.

How many people were imprisoned in Ram Rajya? How many people did Yudhisthira or Yadava Krishna imprison?

Here is an interesting review of literature and treatment of Krishna in India – over the centuries. The narrative below misses out many such points  – but remains a powerful study of the forgotten colossus – the political Krishna.

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote Krishna-Charitra in 1886. Since then, more than a century has gone by. This work of Bankim, one of the finest in Bengali literature, has remained within the confines of Bengali, totally unknown to the vast readership of the country as well as of the world. Bankim brought Krishna out from a maze of confusion and misinterpretations created by myriads of interpolations and inexactitudes propagated by many ill-informed and little-informed Western writers. He had the gigantic task of separating the grain from the chaff in his quest for the historicity of Krishna and, in that process, to some extent, that of the Mahabharata.

Bankim’s was the first attempt to establish the historicity of Krishna and consequently of that portion of the Mahabharata that deals with Krishna. In the process we find that Krishna emerges as a supreme human being with all the desirable human qualities in all their resplendence, and not as a God churning out miracle after miracle from his divine repertoire. Bankim put forward Krishna as an ideal before the nation to be emulated, to be followed as a ideal man and not to be worshipped as a god who remains a Utopian dream forever.

Bankim was a pioneer, a pathfinder who limited his study only to Krishna, basing his research entirely on cold logic and scientific analysis. He destroyed some extremely popular myths which had found their way into the socio-cultural milieu of the entire country, namely the miraculous slaying of Kamsa, Jarasandha, Sishupala, Jayadratha and Drona. He established them as a simple matter of normal battle, bereft of any divine interference of godly prowess or base political machination.

Bankim began to write Krishna-Charitra as a skeptic but by the time he reached the end he had become a devotee of Krishna, an ardent believer in Krishna as God.

Bankim identified the decadent ‘Babus’ in Kamalakanter Daptar, Muchiram Gur etc., lashed at them viciously and resurrected Krishna from confusion, misinterpretation and intellectual oblivion to put him up before them as an idea who must be followed, emulated, as an ideal around whom they should mould their own personalities. Like the proverbial phoenix, must arise a generation of rejuvenated youth, conscious of their responsibility in a subject country, led by the hand of the Krishna he had created. Bankim provided Krishna. We have seen the excellent impact of it in the history of our Independence.

Why did Bankim choose Krishna and not Rama, the other epic hero who could do no wrong’ the maryada purushottama considered the ideal human being throughout the length and breadth of the country? There is a reason. Bankim was mainly concerned with Bengal. He was a part of the Bengal Renaissance and his target population was the Bengali. He wrote in Bengali for the Bengali reader and Rama is not the popular deity in Bengal. It is Krishna throughout. Therefore, he decided to deal with the character of Krishna. He knew that he could get the attention of the common Bengali only if he wrote Krishna-Charitra and not Rama-Charitra. But he found the Krishna of Chaitanya, the Krishna of the brilliant Vaishnava poets Jayadev, Vidyapati, Chandidas etc., the Krishna of the Bhakti cult, a romantic, erotic and rather soppy Krishna who went about gallivanting in the groves of Vrindavana along with Radha, Chandravali and other gopis, playing his irresistible flute. The whole of Bengal was drowned in the worship of this Krishna.

Instead of the emotionalism of the lyric poet, he brought out the toughness of the epic poet. He attempted to replace the erotic Krishna of the Bhagavata, Harivamsa, Chaitanya and the Vaishnava poets by the tremendously powerful personality of the epic, totally divested of his godhood, and involved in nation building, shifting power centers, politics, diplomacy, using peace and war according to requirement’ in short, using his overpowering but human wisdom and intelligence in the struggle for supremacy, resulting finally in the establishment of truth over falsehood, of good over evil, and of right over wrong. Here we find a Krishna bathed in the brutality and complexity of real-life struggle who is far removed from the flute-wielding romantic totally immersed in inane activities like hallisha krida. We find a strategist, a diplomat and a warrior, instead of a lover, a stealer of women’s hearts and butter and cheese.

The tremendous political acumen of Krishna is highlighted in the way he used all the four principles of Dandaniti to destroy the malignant power centers, create new alliances that emerged as counter balances to the existing power structure and use diplomacy to bolster the Yadava interest. He used war and peace, he used marriages and he used his basic superior intelligence for this one purpose. Consequently, the Yadavas accepted him as their supreme commander. It took some time. It also took some effort. But in the final analysis, he emerged as the leader whose judgement and veracity could not be disputed. His political acumen combined with his sharp intellect, personal courage and physical prowess established him as a major force. The contemporary powers came to regard the Yadavas under Krishna with respect and fear. It has not been spelt out clearly anywhere in the Mahabharata but his guiding principle must have been the establishment of a Yadava hegemony on the political map of northern India. Every evidence seems to indicate that. To understand his plans and actions clearly, the political situation of the country at the time of Krishna must be visualized.

The prevalent political situation has its roots in Yayati’s lust. He gave the kingdom of Pratisthana (later shifted to Hastinapura by Hasti and his son Vaikunthan) to his youngest son Puru, depriving his other sons, Yadu, Turvasu, Druhyu and Anu. Consequently, they established themselves elsewhere in the country. For the purpose of our discussion, we shall ignore the others as they are not relevant and concentrate in the progeny of only Yadu and Puru, i.e. the Yadavas and the Pauravas.

Between Yayati and Yudhisthira and Krishna, there are twenty-six generations. Much naturally happened during these years. We find a sort of internal conflict within the Paurava and Yadava clans and also existence of bad blood between the Yadavas and Pauravas. These naturally had developed and distanced the clans and sub-clans over a period covering these twenty-six generations. The main Paurava line continued at Hastinapura. We find Dhritarastra ruling a very powerful political assemblage that included such stalwarts as Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Kama, Ashvatthama, Vidura and Sakuni.

Another line of the Pauravas left Hastinapura (or were made to leave) and conquered Chedi from the Yadavas. This was another reason for the Yadava-Paurava enmity that began with the ouster of Yadu. Later, of course, this line re-established the Yadavas at Chedi and moved on to establish their sway in Magadha. We find one of the finest statesmen of the time, ruling at Magadha was Jarasandha, who easily was superior to any contemporary, including Krishna, in might, diplomacy and power. He even managed to alienate the Southern Yadavas from the mainline Yadavas of Mathura and bring them inseparably under his tutelage. This Paurava line became supremely antagonistic towards the Mathura Yadavas after the slaying of Kamsa. Jarasandha vowed to annihilate them totally.
The third Paurava line went and established themselves at Panchala (around Badaun, Bareilly etc.), and were known as the Panchalas. There was bitter enmity between these relations and neighbours which even the gap of generations could not dilute. In fact it went on increasing, finally culminating in the Kuru-Panchala War.

The Yadavas spread all over. The mainline Yadavas remained in and around Mathura. Other lines went to Dvaraka, Mahismati, Vidarbha. Chedi, Avanti, Dasharna, even up to Mysore. The entire Paurava kingdom practically was surrounded by the Yadavas. But though the Yadavas were a large clan, there was no cohesion among them. There was a lot of conflict within the Mathura Yadavas, mainly due to Kamsa who became king after imprisoning his father Ugrasena. There was no peace due to the power struggle between Andhakas, Shinis, Sattvatas, Vrishnis etc. The southern Yadavas were not friendly towards the Mathura Yadavas. Even though two of Vasudeva’s sisters were married to the kings of Karusha Chedi, they remained firmly on the side of Jarasandha who took advantage of the situation. He married his daughters to Kamsa, supported him in his ascendancy and brought Mathura too under his control. In this way, it was Jarasandha who controlled the entire Yadava clan for some time. Even when Jarasandha attacked the Mathura Yadavas, Vidarbha, Chedi, Dasharna, Avanti, Karusha etc. joined his imperial forces.

Besides these warring relatives, there were other power centers in the country. The most important were the Matsyas of Virata (Jaipur of today) who played a vital role in shaping the course of history of the time, Salva of Sauva (Punjab) and Paudrak Vasudeva of Anga, Pundravardhana etc. Also, there were Gonanda of Kashmir, Subala of Gandhara, etc. These were all friendly towards Jarasandha and joined the imperial forces in their campaign against Mathura.

This, in very short, was the political situation of northern India when Krishna appeared on the scene with his heroic abilities, superior intellect and tremendous political foresight. He, having been thrown into the situation, was quite clear in his objective. He had to retrieve the Yadavas from the political quagmire into which they had fallen and slowly re-establish them as the supreme power in North India to take their rightful place as the heirs of Yayati by replacing the usurpers, the Pauravas. His course of action was also clear to him. He had to bring back unity among the belligerent Yadavas. He achieved this which a master’stroke of diplomacy, a combination of brain and brawn. He slew Kamsa and his henchmen but did not assume power himself. Neither did he put Vasudeva, his father, on the throne. Instead, he brought back Ugrasena, Kamsa’s hapless father and set him on the throne. This endeared him to all the Yadavas, irrespective of clans, including Kamsa’s supporters. Then, when Jarasandha attacked to avenge the death of his son-in-law, he kindled the Yadavas with the spirit of patriotism and provided inimitable leadership in the defence of Mathura. It is a remarkable achievement of Krishna that he was able to defend Mathura with a handful of Yadavas against the colossal imperial army that included practically all the major powers of India, namely, Salva, Gonanda of Kashmir, Chedi, Bhishmaka, Virata and of course Duryodhana and his brothers. This imperial force was thwarted time and again not only by Krishna’s personal courage and prowess, but also by the leadership provided by him. All the Yadavas stood by him as one. By the time he retreated to Dvaraka in the face of the superior forces of Jarasandha, he had achieved his goal. The entire Yadava clan, the Bhojas, Vrishnis, Andhakas, Shinis, Kukuras, Sattvatas etc. swore by him and looked up to him as their natural leader in all matters of importance. Every future incident reconfirmed his position as leader and the bond of the Yadava brotherhood went from strength to strength. The path was not free of obstacles. Nevertheless, he achieved what he wanted-unity among the Yadavas. He did not succeed in bringing the southern Yadavas immediately into his fold. But by this time, the Mathura-Dvaraka Yadavas had already emerged as a major force, feared even by Hastinapura.

Having united the Yadavas, Krishna found it necessary to consolidate. Though powerful, the Yadavas were politically isolated and had powerful enemies. So, he needed political alliances, which would help him in containing or removing the enemies. His main adversary was Jarasandha and his allies. He realised that only after destroying him, could he turn his attention to Hastinapura, his final goal. That Duryodhana joined Jarasandha in the siege of Mathura, must have weighed with him considerably in his antipathy towards the Pauravas. But, first of all, the alliances.

Krishna saw that to destroy Jarasandha, he had to use the Pauravas, the other most powerful nation. For that, he needed to make an inroad into them. Luck was with him. He found the Pandavas. There were three distinct reasons why the Pandavas must be chosen as allies. First, they were individually extremely gifted, not only in the art of warfare but also in the qualities of head and heart. Most important, they too were isolated, without much political support and constantly persecuted and hunted by their kinsmen of Hastinapura. They needed help. Secondly, they were matrimonially linked with the Panchalas, the biggest hardcore enemies of Hastinapura. That too suited him very well. Thirdly, the Pandavas were his natural allies, being his first cousins, through their mother Kunti who was the sister of his father Vasudeva. Providence was therefore with him. He needed the Pandava-Panchala alliance and they needed the power of the Yadavas at their back. He therefore extended the hand of friendship which was gratefully accepted. He chose for his friend Arjuna, who he saw was the most versatile, balanced and capable among the five. Arjuna was certainly the kingpin in this alliance and he needed cultivating. He did it with such consummate grace and finesse that Arjuna could nor even think without Krishna and was always willing to do what was pleasing to Krishna. So, what began as a political need ended up as a deep emotional involvement for both. This attitude of Arjuna had far-reaching effects. It was not for nothing that Arjuna’s grandson inherited the empire. Krishna ensured it with a Yadava angle to it. It was a dubious Paurava inheritance with a strong Yadava flavor. He conceived a plan the moment he saw the Pandavas and nurtured it fondly, always progressing steadily towards the fructification of his ultimate plan.

Krishna used another traditional diplomatic instrument, matrimony, for securing political alliances. His grandfather and father used it, with only limited success. Pritha, Vasudeva’s sister, was married to Pandu who did not live long. So this alliance did not produce the expected results, except, that it provided Krishna with the invincible Pandavas and, through them, with a strong foothold in the Hastinapura sphere of influence. Two other sisters were married to the Yadavas of Chedi and Karusha. These were not successful at all as, in spite of these marriages, Chedi and Karusha remained firmly in alliance with Jarasandha. However, there was another powerful Yadava kingdom in the neighborhood of Chedi. which also was an ally of Jarasandha. This was Bhishmaka of Vidarbha and his son Rukmi. Bhishmaka was also very friendly with Sishupala of Chedi and had planned to marry Rukmini, his daughter, with Sishupala. Krishna wanted to rectify the situation and win the powerful Yadavas of Vidarbha to his side. He abducted and married Rukmini hoping that this marriage would unite the Vidarbhas with the Mathura-Dvaraka Yadavas, but this effort failed. Vidarbha was incensed with the abduction and was driven more firmly to Jarasandha. This also enraged Sishpuala of Chedi, who was already a sworn enemy of his cousin Krishna. In the end of course, we find that Rukmi came to join the Pandava forces on the eve of the war, with an expressed desire ‘to do something pleasing to Krishna.’ But how much of it was political expediency (since the Krishna of now was a much more powerful person than the Krishna of yore) and how much of it was his genuine feeling for a brother-in-law, is a matter of conjecture. But it did not matter any more. Neither Krishna, nor the Pandavas needed him.

When Krishna realised that he would have to base his activities solely on this Pandava-Panchala alliance he strove to make it more lasting and powerful. He wanted to bring the Yadavas too into this alliance. And this he decided would be done through Arjuna. He arranged the marriage of his sister Subhadra with Arjuna which was most unusual, as Arjuna and Subhadra were first cousins. Unusual but politically very useful. Also this marriage brought the Yadavas into the Panchala-Pandava alliance firmly. This marriage therefore he nurtured fondly. He brought up Abhimanyu and trained him to be the equal of Arjuna and himself. Such allegiance was not paid to the sons of Draupadi, which is significant. The new alliance becomes powerful but not enough. Now Abhimanyu had to be married. Opportunity presented itself in the form of the Matsya Princess, Uttara. Why did Arjuna prefer Abhimanyu and not any of the sons of Draupadi who were equally available and marriageable? Perhaps, Krishna’s farsightedness and well-laid plains bore fruit now. Arjuna was never in love with Draupadi. His beloved was Subhadra whom he married out of love. So, it was not surprising that he considered Subhadra and Abhimanyu to be his family. Draupadi after all was not his alone. She was more of a political entity, a matter of convenience. Also, Abhimanyu was the rephew of Krishna, Arjuna’s friend, philosopher and guide. Arjuna would always do what pleased Krishna. Who else could he choose except Abhimanyu? This marriage further confirmed the Yadava claim on Hastinapura’s throne, because Abhimanyu’s son Parikshit would be the king of Hastinapura later. And Abhimanyu or Parikshit were more Yadavas than Pauravas. Abhimanyu’s mother and grandmother were Yadavas. His father was not strictly a Paurava. Both Arjuna and Pandu did not have any Paurava blood in them. Both were ‘kshetrajna’ sons of their family.

The political outcome of this marriage was an invincible alliance of Paurava-Panchala-Yadava-Matsya which the marriage of one of Draupadi’s sons could not have brought about effectively. It brought the Yadavas into direct contact with the Matsyas. This axis very conclusively set up a balance of power which more or less neutralised the immense authority of the Hastinapura monolith.

In all this power game, what is bewildering is the marriage between Krishna’s son Samba and Duryodhana’s daughter Lakshmana. It is true that Krishna did not know anything about it. It was Balarama who went and rescued Samba and Lakshmana from the clutches of Duryodhana who had forcibly detained Samba for his misadventure of marrying aud trying to abduct Lakshmana. This is intriguing. Did the marriage please Krishna? Or was he enraged? Did it add to his negative feelings towards Duryodhana for imprisoning his son or was he happy on being presented with another, possibly useful, alliance? However, this marriage did not in any way affect the course of history, nor does it throw any light on the character of Krishna.

All through these happenings on the matrimonial front, Krishna kept himself busy, with eliminating those malignant powers that were irretrievably inimical towards the Yadava cause. No amount of diplomacy would have helped. Some he removed himself, others he tackled with the help of the Pandavas. He systematically destroyed Kamsa, Kalyavana, Hamsa Dimbaka and Sauvaraj Salva. Then he saw that unless Jarasandha was eliminated, the Magadha confederacy, the most powerful one at the time, could not be broken. He also knew that there was no power in the country that could take on the Magadha confederacy in direct conflict. Nor could he handle it alone. So he took recourse to stratagem and, with the help of Bhima and Arjuna, slew Jarasandha. Then he went on to destroy Sishupala of Chedi, Paundraka Vasudeva of Pundravardhana and other minor adversaries to clear the stage for the final holocaust which he knew must come. The Magadha confederacy was completely defused. He had realized that if all these people came to help the Kauravas, nothing could save the Pandava alliance.

An interesting gambit, which was often employed by Krishna, also bought him considerable allegiance from the erstwhile enemies. He never usurped the territory of the vanquished. He established their surviving relatives or the throne and returned the territory. He made Ugrasena, father of Kamsa, the king of the Yadavas. He gave the empire of Jarasandha to his son Sahadeva. He made Dhrislaketu the king of Chedi after his father Sishupala was slain. These kings gave their loyalty to Krishna out of gratitude for his magnanimity. Consequently we find them at the side of the Pandavas during the War. Kalhana tells us that Krishna placed one of the female relatives of Gonanda on the throne of Kashmir. He was a kingmaker and not a king. And in the history of mankind we have seen time and again that it is the kingmaker who wields real power, never the king thus made.

Therefore, Krishna succeeds in all his plans. He unites the Yadavas. He removes the enemies. He makes the Yadavas very powerful through various alliances. He uses marriage effectively for the purpose. And for the final battle, he sets up a powerful axis of Yadava-Panchala-Pandava-Matsya aided by his grateful proteges against the Hastinapura allies. All the time, the Pandava interest is never lost sight of. When suddenly, at the end of the War, Abhimanyu’s unborn son was also killed (which eventuality even he had not foreseen), he resurrected him so that he could become king. Why did he do it? Why not one of Draupadi’s sons who also had died on the same night? The tragedy of Draupadi was that nobody really cared for her. She was a queen, she was a wife and she was a woman with very feminine emotions and frailities. This Draupadi was always ignored. She was a piece on the political chess-board of the time, to be used at convenience. Arjuna preferred Abhimanyu to her sons, because he was Subhadra’s son and Krishna’s nephew. Krishna preferred him because he was Subhadra’s son and more or less a Yadava. For the same reason, he resurrected Parikshit. Draupadi’s sons were not Yadava relations and for Krishna it was necessary that a Yadava relation survived to rule Hastinapura. It was a political necessity for him. He was all for Draupadi. But whenever there was any clash of interest between Draupadi and Subhadra, he invariably chose Subhadra’s cause, because the Yadava interest coincided with that of Subhadra, not Draupadi. For Krishna, blood was always thicker than water. Therefore, it was Subhadra and her progeny who must survive to carry on a Yadava history (even if it is in the guise of a Paurava history).

The blood and water theory seems to be apposite when we consider an aspect of the Mahabharata which is not much talked about. Why did the Yadavas refrain from joining the War? Why did no one question them on this? Again it was Krishna. Krishna offered only himself without arms, and an akshauhini of Narayani Sena (probably mercenaries) who were as powerful as he was (mere sales talk, no doubt, but enough to fool Duryodhana). That is all. Satyaki joined the Pandavas out of friendship with Arjuna and Hardikya Kritavarma joined the Kauravas, out of an old enmity with Krishna, And, most surprisingly, at the end of the War when everyone died, the only survivors, besides the Pandavas, were Satyaki and Kritavarma. Krishna, one feels, prevented the Yadavas from annihilation by keeping them away. Out of all the nations, only the Yadavas survived to be supreme and to be the rulers of the earth. It was an unparalleled master-stroke which may not be a appreciated but was in total consonance with his policy of establishing a Yadava hegemony.

At the end of it all when all the dust settles down on Kurukshetra, when the earth has drained the blood of eighteen akshauhinis and is ready once again to pick up the reins of life after bathing in death, we find the Yadavas at the helm of affairs. And a little later, we find Subhadra’s grandson Parikshit on the throne of Hastinapura and Krishna’s grandson, Vajra, on the throne of Indraprastha that was founded by the Pandavas on the site of Yayati’s ancient capital. The wheel had indeed turned full circle. Yayati created a rift between Puru and Yadu by throwing out Yadu. His successor, after 26 generations, brought the Yadavas back into power in the land of their ancestors. If one is a little more gracious to Krishna, one can of course say that he brought the progeny of two brothers, who had fallen out, once again together in Parikshit who was both a Paurava as well as a Yadava.

Power brings decadence and decadence destroys a race. The Yadavas were no exception to this rule. They destroyed each other before the grieving eyes of Krishna. He had made them powerful, saved them from the war and brought them so far. But he could not save them from themselves. This was the peculiar tragedy of Krishna. Nevertheless, he succeeded in placing the Paurava-Yadava Parikshit on the throne of Hastinapura. This is where he won.

Bankim perhaps did not get an opportunity to place this aspect of Krishna-Charitraon record. He did not give Krishna the credit for being a supreme leader of men, a diplomat of indisputable caliber and unrivalled political far sight. Bankim failed to place Krishna in the political geography of the country and to underline his political acumen in bringing about a completely new political set’up. Bankim missed this master statesman, but then, as he himself has said, Krishna is an ideal person in every field of human activity. Therefore, we have no difficulty in including Krishna’s political excellence within Bankim’s comprehensive definition.

via Bankim’s Krishna-Charita by Maj. Gen. Shekhar Sen.

In the rest of the world, religion was politicized and politics underwent religiofication. But India with the tradition of भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra stopped at deification of political figures.

Outside India, even Gautama Buddha, a huge political reformer, in post-Saraswati India, was deified – while in India he was revered as a teacher.

Piercing this mist of religiofication, will be the biggest challenge that Indians face.


Destruction of Takshashila – a defining moment

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, History, Indo Pak Relations, language, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on August 4, 2009
The theory that Huns destroyed Takshashila in 5th century is a theory with no legs – and a case without evidence. So … then what could have happened?
Julian (?) Monastery, Takshashila

Julian Monastery, Takshashila

The importance of Takshashila

As the oldest university in the world, Takshashila has a special place in the history of the world. More so, in Indian history. It’s destruction (purportedly) at the hands of the Hunas, as proposed by Western historians (and their followers) has been rather facile  – to say the least.

There is evidence that the truth may be otherwise. This post lays out an alternative scenario, but before that let us refresh ourselves with the history of Takshashila.

Takshashila in classical texts, history, geography

The Vayu Purana traces the start of Takshashila, to Taksha, son of  Bharata (brother of Raghu Ram Chandra). Takshashila also finds a mention in Mahabharata – citing Dhaumya, as the acharya of Takshashila. It was at Takshashila, that Vaishampayana made the first recorded narration of the Mahabharata to Janmajeya.

The Gitopdesha from the Mahbharata

The Gitopdesha from the Mahbharata

It finds continued mentions in numerous Jatakas, too. For centuries, across many cultures, stories of Takshashila (and its environs) swirled, like even later,

According to a story contained in the Mujma-t-Tawarikh a twelfth-century Persian translation from the Arabic version of a lost Sanskrit work, thirty thousand Brahmans with their families and retinue had in ancient times been collected from all over India and had been settled in Sindh, under Duryodhana, the King of Hastinapur. (from Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World By André Wink).

The Buddhist anthology of storiesAvadana-shataka mentions that “3.510 millions of stupas were erected at the request of the people of Taxila”.

Students paid upto 1000 coins in advance to receive education at Takshashila – and there were thousands of such students. Students came from all over the world – and paid large sums of money to Indian teachers for education! Kings, brahmans, commoners – all came to study at Takshashila. Its alumni included all the stars of the Indian firmament – Atreya, Pasenadi, Mahali, Patanajali, Jivaka, Panini, Kautilaya, Prasenjita.

Its development and importance lay in the fact that,

Takshashila and Purushpura on either side of the Sindhu river were connected with the Indian trade routes on the Indian side and Central Asian trade routes on the other. Strategically located, Takshashila, the capital of Gandhar, was the terminus of several inland routes and the starting points of the great trade routes connecting India and Central Asia. (from India and Central Asia By J. N. Roy, Braja Bihārī Kumāra, Astha Bharati (Organization)).

Based on subsequent excavation and diggings, it is thought that Takshashila was the oldest city in South Asia – when Alexander landed there. So Takshashila’s historic and cultural importance is too high to become a victim of slip-shod colonial propaganda – posing as history.

Faxian, Fa Hian, Fa Hien

Faxian, Fa Hian, Fa Hien

Chinese travellers to India

An important source for ‘modern’ history, much used by Western historians are the travels of Chinese travellers (like Fa Hian/ Faxain, Huien Tsang /XuanZang). Supposedly 1000 years after death of Gautama Buddha, overlooking some gaping holes in Fa Hian’s travelogue.

How could Fa Hien miss meeting /mentioning Kalidasa – supposedly a contemporary of Fa Hien? In fact, Kalidasa is not mentioned at all in Fa Hian’s account, which supports the hypotheses that Kalidasa preceded Fa Hian. It may be pointed out that since, Kalidasa’s works are artistic rather than religious or philosophical, the lack of Fa Hain’s interest in his works is obvious. But to ignore a man of Kalidasa’s stature and learning?

Then Fa Hian misses the name of the supposed ruling ‘Gupta’ king – a dynasty which ruled over most of South Asia! And it is Fa Hian who is supposedly a significant authority on the Gupta period. Western history labelled the Gupta period as the ‘golden age’ of Indian history – which Fa Hian seems to have completely missed. Similarly when Fa-Hien visited Takshashila in 5th century AD (travelled in India during 399-414 AD), he found nothing. His travelogue makes some cursory mentions of Takshashila.

And that leaves Indian history with some rather big ‘dating’ holes! Is it that Fa hian visited India much after Kalidasa, the Gupta dynasty, the death of Buddha? Maybe a few centuries later, relative to the period in Indian history. Fa Hian’s date is well indexed. So that possibly cannot move much. It is the the corresponding Indic dates which come into question!

Another Chinese traveller, Sung Yun, who had a rather exalted view of his country and its ruler, is largely responsible for overly negative image of the Hunas in ‘modern’ history. Sung-Yun’s peeve – the Huna king did not read the letter from the Wei Tartar king standing, but in a seated position. A modern historian writing on the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist traveller’s tales thinks that,

Like most things India it (Buddhism) suffered somewhat from the invasions of the Huns, who dominated many parts of the northwest from 480 to 530; but the immediate effect of their depredations does not seem to have been very striking. At any rate, the Chinese pilgrim Sung Yun, who travelled through this region in 518-21, gives us a picture in which Buddhism is quite as thriving as it was in Fa-Hien’s time. (from The Pilgrimage of Buddhism and a Buddhist Pilgrimage By James Bissett Pratt, page 111)

Subsequent Chinese travellers to India like I Ching (I Ching or Yi Jing, Yìjìng, Yiqing, I-Tsing or YiChing), were more about Buddhism the religion that it had become, instead of a school of learning and thought. I Ching also recorded details of the works and life of Bhartrhari, the (probably) 5th century grammarian and poet. His take away from India, from Nalanda “in ten years (A.D. 675-685), during which he collected there some 400 Sanskrit texts amounting to 500,000 slokas.”

The ‘end’ of Takshashila

The colonial narrative traces the destruction of Takshashila in 499 AD, by the Hunas (Western history calls them White Huns, Romans called them Ephtalites; Arabs called them the Haytal;  The Chinese Ye Tha). Western ‘historians’ have ascribed the demise of Taxila to the White Huns, a Central Asian, nomadic tribe, roaming between Tibet to Tashkent, practicing polyandry.

Taksashila

Takshashila

Takshashila lying at the cross roads of the Uttarapatha (West calls it The Silk Route) – from Tibet, China, Central Asia, Iran – and India, fell to this mindless savagery, goes the ‘modern’ narrative. But specifically, there is no mention in Chinese, Persian, Indian texts (that I could find) of the Hunas who destroyed Takshashila. So, how and where did this story spring from?

Kanishka, a major Buddhist king, was a Yue Chi, known as Tusharas in India, related to the White Huns. Why would his tribal cousins destroy Takshashila?

History as propaganda

We have the ‘imaginative genius’ of Sir John Marshall to thank for this – a man who was “interested in Alexander’s campaign and in Graeco-Buddhist monuments at Sanchi and Taxila.” Sir John, who was “filled with enthusiasm for anything Greek” was also aware that it was at “Taxila that Alexander the Great halted and refreshed his army before advancing to do battle with Porus.” Not one to stoop below self-aggrandisement, he counts himself among the “few archaeologists now living who have devoted as many years to the excavation of a single site as I have devoted to Taxila.” He lays out the ground for the ‘destroyer White Huns’ theory, describing how

the hordes of Ephthalites or White Huns which swept over Gandhara and the Panjab in the third quarter of the fifth century, carrying ruin and desolation wherever they went. (from Taxila – an illustrated account of archaeological excavations By Sir John Marshall page 76).

Barbara Cartland and Mortimer Wheeler - both imaginative

Barbara Cartland and Mortimer Wheeler - both imaginative

And his evidence for this destruction is,

Thirty two coins, all of them silver, leave no room for doubt it was it was the White Huns who were responsible for the wholesale destruction of the Buddhist sangharamas of Taxila … several skeletons of those who fell in the fight, including one of White Hun, were lying. (ellipsis mine; from Taxila by Sir John Marshall page 791).

Join the gang!

A chorus of historians joined in Sir John’s smear campaign (published between 1940-1951) against the White Huns who were ‘guilty’ of ‘destruction of Takshashila’. Sir John lays the burden of guilt at the doorstep of the Hunas (Western history calls them White Huns, Romans called them Ephtalites; Arabs called them the Haytal;  The Chinese Ye Tha). Not surprising, since both ,

“Indian and foreign archaeologists often invoked invasion /diffusion as tools for explaining away the origins of fully-fledged archaeological cultures ranging in age from the Lower Paleolithic to the early historic period as well as individual traits concerning pottery, technology and other aspects. Africa, West and Central Asia and Europe were the favourite source areas. (From Theory in Archaeology: A World Perspective By Peter J. Ucko, page 132)

Lower Paleolithic is about 250,000 years ago and early historic period in India is 3000 years ago. Based on traveller’s tall tales, we have ‘modern’ historians who have depicted, without any evidence, that the

the White Huns, or Hephtalites, felt a kind of hatred toward Buddhism and strove to destroy all its physical as well as mental manifestations during the fifth century. This is how Taxila brutally vanished. (from Books on fire: the destruction of libraries throughout history By Lucien X. Polastron, Jon Graham page 107-108).

And this is from a book which claims to be a “historical survey of the destruction of knowledge from ancient Babylon and China to modern times”. Another book seeking to capture Central Asian history writes that these Hunas, who came,

sacking monasteries and works of art, and ruining the fine Greco-Buddhic civilization which by then was five centuries old. Persian and Chinese texts agree in their descriptions of the tyranny and vandalism of this horde.” (from The Empire of the Steppes By Rene Grousset, Naomi Walford).

It has been pointed out that

Although the exact relationship between the Buddhist communities of the Peshawar basin and the new Hun dynasty is not entirely clear, there is considerable evidence to suggest that Buddhism continued under Hun rule … (there is) textual evidence to show that Chinese Buddhist pilgrims continued to visit Gandharan sites in the Peshawar Basin into the early sixth century C.E.; The Bhamala main stupa can be compared to the 7th to 8th century cruciform stupas in Kashmir, Afghanistan, and other parts of Central Asia. (from The Buddhist architecture of Gandhāra By Kurt A. Behrendt pages 207-209).

Technically, it was also pointed out that Sir John did not stratify his digs, which creates a dating and sequencing problem. Going with self-aggrandizing nature, Sir John also focussed on ‘glamourous digs’ – without focussing on the connectivity issues.

Alexander in colonial historical narrative

For more on the decline of Takshashila, it is Alexander that we must turn to.

The Alexander mosaic, discovered in Pompeii

The 'Alexander mosaic', discovered in Pompeii

Alexander has long been a vital cog in Western colonial narrative of history. Alexander’s halo gave bragging rights – first to the Greco-Romans and then to the Euro-colonialists.

The American Department of Defense, in its Legacy Program, has a section on Cultural Heritage Training. The use of Alexander’s mythos there is self evident. Between the Greco-Roman historians and the Euro-Colonialists, has sprung an entire industry, to create a mythos surrounding Alexander.

Amongst Alexander’s first actions in India were his attempts to cobble up alliances. His most famous one was with Ambhi – the ruler of Taxila. 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. To cement this alliance, Alexander ‘gifted’ Ambhi with ‘a wardrobe of Persian robes, gold and silver ornaments, and 30 horses, 1000 talents in cash’. 1000 talents is anywhere between 25,000-60,000 kg of gold! Does this look like Ambhi accepted Alexander as the conqueror of the world – or Alexander ‘persuading’ Ambhi to seal an alliance?

The payment of 1000 talents in gold to Ambhi aroused much envy and outrage in Alexander’s camp. It prompted Meleager, to sarcastically congratulate Alexander for ‘having at least found in India a man worth 1000 talents.’ What seals this incident is Alexander’s retort to Meleager, “that envious men only torment themselves.” (C 8.12.17 & 18).

Black and blue

Instead of the complete capitulation and collaboration that Alexander got from the defeated Achaemenid 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 Indian cavalry, which broke Alexander’s formations. As a 19th century historian reports,

During the three years anterior to the passage of the Indus, Balk (Bactria) was usually Alexander’s headquarters. It was in these countries that he experienced his only serious reverses in the field. (from On the practicability of an invasion of British India By Sir George De Lacy Evans).

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.

To these lean pickings, Alexander’s reaction“the Macedonians frequently massacred the defenders of the city, especially in India.” What was Alexander’s response to a ‘sub-continent occupied by a complex network of peoples and states, who viewed Alexander as a new piece to be played in their complex political chess game.’ Another modern historian, an expert on Greek history writes that ‘the tale of slaughter told in the ancient sources is unparalleled elsewhere in the campaign.’ ( from Ancient Greece By Sarah B. Pomeroy, Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan).

The Indian reaction

Alexander and the Indian 'Gymnosophists' - Medieval European drawing

Alexander and the Indian 'Gymnosophists' - Medieval European drawing

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in Eglish college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Greek writers report, that Alexander finally realized that it was the Indian Brahmins who had influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans. His question-answer sessions with the 10 Indian-prisoners-Brahmans (called Gymnosophists by the Greeks), related by Plutarch, shows Alexander asking inane questions – at sea, completely lost.

And arising from this frustration, came Alexander’s wanton massacres at Takshashila – which thereafter limped along for the next 1000 years, but never to fully recover.

Takshashila – the pattern!

One must also recall that Alexander’s behaviour in Babylon – a intellectual freeport, city ‘under the protection’ of code of ‘kidinnu’. The code of ‘kidinnu’ allowed creation of sanctuaries where weapons and arms were not allowed. The religious persecution by Alexander of the Zoroastrians (as per the Zoroastrian accounts) bears out Alexander’s wanton cruelty. As a modern researcher, Jona Lendering writes,

the Zoroastrian tradition is unanimous that Alexander ‘killed several high priests and judges and priests and the masters of the Magians and upholders of the religion’ (Book of Arda Wiraz 1.9),  ‘quenched many sacred fires’ (Great Bundahishn 33.14) and ’caused great devastation (Denkard 4.16 and 7.7.3). This ‘evil-destined and raging villain’ (Denkard 8.pr.20) was not just regarded as a collaborator of Angra Mainyu, but as one one of the calamities that the evil one had sent to earth to destroy what is good. Alexander even received the surname Guzastag, the Accursed, a title that had until then only been used to describe Angra Mainyu. It is possible -perhaps even likely- that several apocalyptic texts from the Avesta were composed during the reign of Alexander.

BCHP 1: Alexander Chronicle (obverse; **) Photo coutesy livius.com

BCHP 1: Alexander Chronicle (obverse; **) Photo coutesy livius.org

A set of Babylonian tablets, published in 1975, the Alexander Chronicles, mention that Alexander killed Kidinnu – most probably the famed Babylonian astronomer.

The name Kidinnu itself seems to be derived from the Sanskritic word, ‘Krishna’, the Dark One. Was Kidinnu better known by his assumed Sanskritic name? The Indo-Assyrian collaboration, represented by the Babylonian texts and schools give significant weight to this hypotheses.

More questions on the destruction of Takshashila

At the time of Takshashila’s decline in the 5th century, a significant Gupta king was Purugupta – successor of Skandagupta. Written records from Purugupta’s reign are few and far in between, he has been variously named as Vikramaditya, Prakashaditya and of course as Puru /Pura Gupta.

The most authentic link to his reign is the Bhitari seal inscription, (near Ghazipur, in modern UP). The Bhitari seal provided proof of an elongated Gupta reign – than the Skandagupta-was-the-end-of-Gupta dynasty dating. Currently dated between 467 AD, Purugupta’s reign saw many border wars.

Purugupta’s reign saw Vasubandhu, a known teacher of logic and debate, become famous and Huien Tsang reported on the debates based on Vasubandhu’s texts. Today Vasubandhu’s texts exist in Chinese and Tibetan languages – the original Sanskrit volumes remain untraceable. Purugupta also restored the gold grammage in the ‘suvarna’ coins, probably debased in Skandagupta’s time, possibly due to the cost of the fighting the Hunas.

Is it that the Porus identified by the Greeks, Purugupta? Were the marauding soldiers, mentioned in Chinese texts, mercenary soldiers hired by Alexander to replace the ‘deserting’ Greek’ soldiers, on the eve of his Indian ‘campaign’? The dating of the Gupta dynasty to end of the 5th century AD, is probably off by about 800 years.

The Indian defence system

Taksashila’s destruction raises an obvious question! And also important. What did Indian polity do to defend centres of excellence like Takshashila?

To protect such a vibrant and important centre of leaning, the Indian polity had evolved a complex structure across the entire North Western swath. Thus while, within the Indic area, borders and crowns kept changing and shifting, invaders were kept at bay. 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 Persian invaders. Alexander’s nightmare began immediately, as soon as he crossed from the Persian area into the area governed by the Medes – an Indic area.

Death of Crassus

Death of Crassus

A symbol of these alliances, for instance, was the House of Suren’s traditional rights to install the crown of Persian rulers. Some ancient maps show the Gandhara-Takshashila region as Suren. And it was at the hands of these very Surens that Crassus met his nemessis. At the hands of the Indo-Parthian armies – led by a Suren general.

The Sassanian dynasty was able to wrest back and defend Persian dominions from the Greco-Romans, after setting up an 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.

End of Crassus

Laurence Oliver as Crassus in Spartacus

Laurence Oliver as Crassus in Spartacus

Less than 300 years after Alexander, Romans came close to Indian border. They were led by Marcus Licinius Crassus – estimated (or allegedly) worth 200,000,000 sestertii. A writer of classical journals estimated that to be worth about 7.6 million in 1860. Inflation adjusted, about 7.6 billions. Source of Crassus’ wealth – slavery, corruption, pillage, bribery et al. Crassus is more famous in history for three things – One, for his wealth, Two – for having crucified thousands of rebellious slaves on the Via Appia, after defeating Spartacus’ Slave Army and Three, as the man who funded the rise of Julius Caesar.

It is his death, that is usually glossed over.

Roman forces retreated, when confronted by Indo-Sassanian armies with Indian elephants. For the next nearly 400 years, Romans were wary of any large expeditions into Indo-Persian territories. 500 years later (nearly), with the help of the Indian elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders in 363 AD. But it is interesting that the enemies of the daiwas (enemy of devas are the asuras, in Indian scriptures), the Zoroastrians (followers of Ahura Mazda, speculatively Mahishasura) allied themselves with a Suren. A 1000 years later, the Sassanian army, had forgotten their lessons – and could not use their few elephants to full effect, against the Islamic Arabs.

The rise of religion in India

Without access to the ‘Indian thought factory’, after the fall of Takshashila, in 499 AD – by the Huna (dating as per Western history which calls them White Huns, Romans called them Ephtalites; Arabs called them the Haytal;  The Chinese Ye Tha) Buddhism soon became a religion. Buddha in India, was another, in a long line of teachers. But in the rest of world, Buddhism soon became a religion.

The destruction of Takshashila (Taxila) meant that students and scholars would need to travel for an extra 60 days to reach the other Indian Universities of the time. This was a traumatic event in the status of the Indian ethos – even the Asiatic ethos.

The decline of Taksashila marked the destruction, persecution and decline in Indian education, thought and structure. Fewer believers in Indian faith systems made the trip to India. ‘Consumers’ of ideological products from the ‘Indian Thought Factory’,  were left with Desert Bloc alternative products. Buddhism soon became a religion outside India. A few centuries after decline of Takshashila, Nalanda, etc. were also destroyed by Desert Bloc invaders.

Travels of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist pilgrims from China to India (400 …

By Samuel Beal

Asuras and Slavery – The Indic Disconnect

Demons, Satan and Ogres and Monsters

The world calls them by many names – demon, daemon, daimon, deuce, devil, daeva, evil spirit, ghost, fiend, imp, monster, ogre, rogue, savage, satan, villain, et al. All cultures in the world, extant and extinct have a vast array of villains. The Desert Bloc has the Satan and the Greeks had the sundry Medusa, Titans and Cyclops. The Sumerians had Gilgamesh and Enkidu take on Humbaba.

But the Indian tradition does not really have demons. The closest that Indian texts offer are the asuras – blessed by the Gods, especially by Brahma and Shiva. Unlike demons in the rest of the world, the Indian asuras are believers in God, at least in the Indian trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Their rivals are the devas – led by Indra. The struggle between devas and asuras is an ongoing theme in Indian classical texts. Some asuras like Ravana are highly learned, some were Brahmans before becoming asuras, like Vritrasura and there is the highly righteous asura, like King Bali.

What is one to make of the Indian asura?

Asuras in Indian texts

Indian pauranik and classical history begins to make sense only after the concept of ‘asuras’ as a verbal cue for slavery and slave masters /traders is used. In the Ramayana, there is great elaboration about Ravana’s palace and cities – and Ayodhya was itself an unremarkable city.

The Jatakas - At The Borobudur Temple

The Jatakas - At The Borobudur Temple

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.

Daas /Daasyus and Slavery

Daas and daasis in India are correctly, attendants or servants. The Pandavas, Harishchandra, Nala (of the Damyanti fame), all became dasas during adverse times. After their period of service, they could freely leave their employers. This was voluntary – and they were NOT captured, sold, resold, traded – as slaves, in slave societies were. Slaves have no control over the recompense for their output.

The word गुलाम ghulam is an import into modern Indian languages.The more wrongly and commonly used Sanskritic synonym is दास dasa – an attendant, or a servant, but not a slave. Draupadi was a daasi to the Queen of Virat-desh. The Pandavas became daasas at the court of Viraat-naresh. Raja Harishchandra became a daasa to a chandala. These were kings who became daasas. Nala, (Damayanti fame), the King of Nishada, became a daasa – but not a slave. Interestingly, in neo Assyrian period, “daughters of vassals (especially from Syria and Palestine) were sometimes sent to the Assyrian court to act as servants (ana abrakkuti)”

Therefore, once asura for slave traders /owners is used, the reading of Indian Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Mahabharat and Ramayana, everything, begins to makes much sense – especially historical sense. Without this interpretation, there are missing elements. For instance, the story of Bali and Vamana, the horror stricken response of readers to Sita-apaharan by Ravana and others.

Similarly, the story of Dadhichi, from whose bones the vajrastra was made to kill the ‘demon king’ Vritrasura! Or the ‘Nahusha’ story, where a ‘mere’ mortal human being was elevated to the position of Indra, to defeat the ‘asuras’. This interpretation of asuras as slave owners /traders, also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing jauhar. In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example.

Angkor Vat - Hanuman in Lanka (errata at Kshirsagar manthan).

Angkor Vat - Hanuman in Lanka (errata at Kshirsagar manthan).

Missing Monuments

The Pyramids, the Coliseum, the Great Wall, were all monuments that were raised by slave societies. To impress the slave population?

India has no such monuments because India had no slave populations to build such showpieces – and no slaves to impress. Monuments, in the forms of temples, started showing up in India too, after 10th century AD – including in Indic ruled countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, etc.

Slave monuments

Valmiki’s Ramayana is breathless with wonder at Lanka – and makes no mention of Ayodhya as a city.

samaasaadya cha lakshmiivan laN^kaaM raavaNapaalitaam |
parikhaabhiH sapadmaabhiH sotpalaabhiralaMkR^itaam || 5-2-14
siitaapaharaNaarthena raavaNena surakshitaam |
samantaadvicharadbhishcha raakshasairugradhanvibhiH || 5-2-15
kaaJNchanenaavR^itaaM ramyaaM praakaareNa mahaapuriim |
gR^ihaishcha grahasaMkaashaiH shaaradaambudasannibhaiH || 5-2-16
paaNDuraabhiH pratoLiibhiruchchaabhirabhisaMvR^itaam |
aTTaalakashataakiirNaaM pataakaadhvajamaaliniim || 5-2-17
toraNaiH kaaJNchanairdivyairlataapaN^kivichitritaiH |
dadarsha hanumaan laN^kaaM divi devapuriiM yathaa || 5-2-18

the city which looked like the city of Gods in heaven, decorated by moats filled with lotuses and water-lilies, which was well protected, since the time of Seetha’s abduction, by Ravana and by Rakshasas with horrifying voices roaming around, which was surrounded by a golden boundary wall, that beautiful great city consisted of houses equal in height to mountains and which looked like autumnal clouds, with white and elevated main streets, decorated with flags and pennons, with excellent golden hued archways adorned with sculpted rows of vines.

So, shining and gleaming cities were out of place in India – but Indians did associate such cities with slave-societies of Asuras.

Pandavas learn their lessons …

The Mahabharata has a cautionary tale about the Khandava-dahan and the building of city of Indraprastha -which the Pandavas lost very quickly.  A reluctant Maya was pressured, persuaded and influenced to build Indraprastha for the Pandavas.

This tale in the Mahabharata is an interesting insight on monuments and man-nature conflict. The Pandavas, having secured a favorable award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute, decided to set up a new capital. The divine architect Maya was retained to build this city. The site chosen for the new capital city – a forest, Khandava. Overcome by their hubris, the Pandavas, burnt down the entire forest – and the animals inhabiting the forest. In place of the forest came up the gleaming new city of Indraprastha.

All the kings were called to marvel at the new city. And in her pride, Draupadi mocked at Duryodhana – a guest. To avenge this mockery, Duryodhana challenged Yudhishthira for a game of chess (instead of a war) – which Yudhishthira promptly lost. They lost their new city – and were sent into exile by Duryodhana. Lessons duly learnt, the Pandavas after the completion of their exile, asked for five villages. After winning the War Of Mahabharat, they ruled from the ancient capital of Hastinapur. No more gleaming cities for them.

India and slavery

Unlike in the rest of the world, no records, ever, have been found of human trafficking in the India. Sanskrit and Indic languages have no word for slave’. Based on inertia and social design, it would be difficult to imagine, that Indians woke up in 1000 BC and decided to abolish slavery. Instead, a pre-existing, anti-slavery bias, was re-affirmed repeatedly, is a more feasible hypothesis.

Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, there is no Sanskritic word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery, as a concept does not exist in India – and it was slave traders who were defined as asuras.

Slave Memory In Indian Society

There are also no historical records of slave trades, prices, quantities, ownership anywhere in India. In fact, Sanskritic Indian languages have no word for slaves.

By the 10th century, Slave memory faded out in India. The Indic word for slave owning cultures, asur, became disconnected with slave ownership. The understanding of the word ‘asura’ changed – and foreign words like ‘ghulam’ made their way into Indic languages. 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, India, though a power in computing industry, is not a big player in spamming or in software virus.

What Did This Do In India

At least 4000 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.

Asuras & Devas

Durga and Mahishasura battle

Imported words like गुलाम ghulam or the xenophobic, Euro-interpretation of asuras as ‘Dravidians’, ‘foreigners’ or ‘others’ further dimmed Indian perception of slavery. Instead, created divisions within Indians. On the contrary, asuras could even be Indians – and even ‘righteous’ kings like Bali. The entire Ravana characterization was not about Sita being abducted. The outrage was the ‘asuras’ i.e. slave traders, trading her.

Similarly, the story of Dadhichi, from whose bones the vajrastra was made to kill the ‘demon king’ Vritrasur. Dadhichi was a former king, son of Atharvan, and Vritrasur was a brahman who became a slave trader – an asura. Or the ‘Nahusha’ story, where a mere mortal was made Indra, to defeat the ‘demons’.

Asuras in History

Interesting are the many Mahishasurmardini statues, coins and seals, especially by the Gupta kings and coins by many other Indic rulers, recovered from Afghanistan and Iran.  The issuance of Mahishasurmardini seals and coins continued, going by by appearances, celebrated the victory of Tomyris, over Cyrus, for the next 800-1000 years. Such coins, seals and statues have been found in modern day Iran, Afghanistan, which support this linkage.

The possible link between Ahura Mazda and Mahishasura (Sanskrit root of Mazda Ahura?) has been the source of much speculation. Ahasuerus, is the Persian King, in the Hebrew Book Of Esther and Ezra – who is considered by some to be Xerxes. The commonality of Sanskritic language, symbols between Zend Avestha and Aryan India are well known for me repeat. After all, Zarathushtra was also from Bactra (Bharata-ah).

The Persian linguistic makeover from the Dravidian-Elamite language to Sanskritic-Old Persian however did not change everything. The Elamite element in Zoroastrian revolt against the daiwas (devas), continues today in Elamite-Dravidian-Tamil Nadu, where asura kings like Ravana and Neduncheziyan are respected.

Rural, Tribals and Urban

The Desert Bloc typically, targetted tribals for slavery – and in recent history, it was the Africans. In India though, the relationship was different. The interaction of tribals with the urban populations, limited to the extent of trade of produce needed by the urban dwellers – and urban products needed by these forest dwellers.

Early Indian records like the Ramayana recognized these rights – when Ramachandra on his way to exile was welcomed into the forest by Guha, the forest king, hunter king of the Nishada tribe – the ruler of the forests. Such centuries of tradition are today being trampled by the Indian State, which continues with some colonial practices – in the name of progress and public good.

tataH niSaada adhipatim dR^iSTvaa duuraat avasthitam |
saha saumitriNaa raamaH samaagacchad guhena saH || 2-50-35

35. dR^ishhTvaa= seeing; duuraat= from the distance; nishhaadaadhipatim= the king of Nishada; upasthitam= coming; saH raamaH= that Rama; soumitriNaa saha= along with Lakshmana; tataH= thereupon; samaagachchhat= went forth to meet; guhena= Guha.

Seeing from a distance the king of Nishada coming, Rama along with Lakshmana thereupon went forth to meet Guha.

Slavery – in recent Indian history

This also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing sati and jauhar was a response to the huge slave market that operated in the entire Central Asian geography and the Levant. The Central Asian region from the 10th century to the 17th century, imported Indian slaves – and exported horses.

In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example. But before that, suddenly intrepid Indians discovered kaala paani – a response to indentured labour, which was a close parallel to slavery.

Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, Sanskrit language, which is a synthetic and artificial language, works on the system of relational data base system, has no word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery as a concept does not exist. And it is this unceasing opposition to slavery, which has made India the longest, continously extant civilization in human history.

Where Do We Go From Here

The world has looked to India for answers. But modern India looks to the West. And Western history, by drawing away our attention from the elephants in room has irrelevant answers – a trail of red herrings. It is this lack of slavery, it is these values that gives India the lowest prison populations in the world – and few positions in the Forbes ‘Most Wanted’ List.

Give It Back

The Red Corridor

The Red Corridor

The Red Corridor

Deep in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar to Bengal, across India, from South West India to the North-East, a swath of red terror is making life difficult for the Indian state.

There is no Pakistan involved in this – and no ISI. Police, for a change are detaining ‘Hindu’ terrorists like Dr.Binayak Sen, (General secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Vernon Gonsalves and Shridhar Srinivasan, Arun Ferreira are some of the detainees.

Naxalites, like dacoits, are an Indian creation. The word naxalites, comes from an incident in Naxalbari district in West Bengal where some landlords were massacred in March 1967. Naxalites, like dacoits are not all bad – or good either. They have pockets of support – based on the grievances that the State is not able to redress.

Traditional Community Property Rights

The main recruits of the naxalite movement are the tribals – from the forests. At the root of the problem is the forest rights. Against individual property rights, the tribals have different community property rights – which the Indian State has been blithely ignoring. These tribals have a long history of migratory lifestyle which is marked by extreme frugality. They live of the forest – and if India still has the Big 5, it is because of the tribal conservation efforts.

The dispossessed forest-dwelling STs are a major source of support for the Naxal Movement. Forest dwellers were dispossessed by the state’s declaration of “reserve forests”, without recognising rights of pre-existing communities. The main culprit in this regard was the Forest Conservation Act 1980; prior to1980, the dispossessed were usually regularised; but this process was stopped post-1980 – and in the discontent that set in as a result, the Naxal movement stepped in. (Causes of discontent – Extract from Planning Commission Document)

The interaction of these tribals with the urban populations is limited to the extent of limited trade of produce needed by the urban dwellers – and urban products needed by these forest dwellers. Early Indian records like the Ramayana recognized these rights – when Ramachandra on his way to exile was welcomed into the forest by Guha, the forest king, hunter king of the Nishada tribe – the ruler of the forests. Such centuries of tradition are being trampled by the Indian State – wich continues with some colonial practices.

tataH niSaada adhipatim dR^iSTvaa duuraat avasthitam |
saha saumitriNaa raamaH samaagacchad guhena saH || 2-50-35

35. dR^ishhTvaa= seeing; duuraat= from the distance; nishhaadaadhipatim= the king of Nishada; upasthitam= coming; saH raamaH= that Rama; soumitriNaa saha= along with Lakshmana; tataH= thereupon; samaagachchhat= went forth to meet; guhena= Guha.

Seeing from a distance the king of Nishada coming, Rama along with Lakshmana thereupon went forth to meet Guha.

Everyone Does Not Want To Be ‘Saved’

Obviously, these tribals see the urban dwellers as invaders – and the message of the ‘communist naxals’, who are anti-property, resonates with these tribals. The shared outrage by the ‘land grabbing capitalists’ makes for this significant naxalite movement problem.

Much like Europe has tried to ‘civilize’ and ‘tame’ the Roma Gypsies, for the last 500 years, the Indian State is also interested in ‘uplifting’ these tribals. They, my dear Manubhai, are not interested. They are happy with their migratory lifestyle, their frugality does not require complex urban organization and they have a culture which goes back many centuries. Modern ‘showcase’ projects, like hydro-electric dams, large steel plants, etc. uproot these tribals. After that these tribals are left homeless, rudderless, without skills – with some measly compensation, which they cannot manage. Money they don’t want – and don’t need, in abundance.

The other set of people who want to save these tribals are the foreign Christian missionaries – who want to save the souls of these heathens and pagans.

TERROR: IN FACTS AND FIGURES (Table – Business Standard)
State 2003 2005 2007
Incidents Casualties Incidents Casualties Incidents Casualties
Andhra Pradesh 577 140 535 208 138 45
Bihar 250 128 186 96 135 67
Chhattisgarh 256 74 385 168 582 369
Jharkhand 342 117 312 119 482 157
Madhya Pradesh 13 1 20 3 9 2
Maharashtra 75 31 94 53 94 25
Orissa 49 15 42 14 67 17
Uttar Pradesh 13 8 10 1 9 3
West Bengal 6 1 14 7 32 6
Kerala 12 8
Karnataka 4 8 8 7 5
Haryana 2 1
Tamil Nadu 1
Total 1597 515 1608 677 1565 696
Source: Annual Report 2007-08, Ministry of Home Affairs.

A Beginning

A system for implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was passed – and a step in the right direction. Encouragingly, the Indian State is seized of this problem – and have their eyes on the ball.

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.

Elam

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.

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