Sunday, 18 February 2018

Formidable Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad

Located at a  distance of 16 km from Aurangabad Railway Station  in Maharashtra, on the way to Ellora Caves Daulatabad is an ancient hill fort (14th century).It was on the caravan route (sixth century AD).  Since it a best preserved Fort, this old fort attracts a lot of tourists. Built on a 200 m high conical hill, this triangular shaped  fort was defended by a moat and  glacis. It is said to have been the most powerful fort during the medieval period. The entire fort complex consists of an area measuring approximately 94.83 hectares. The combination of hill and land fort is divided into small sectors encircled by fortification walls. The moat is 40 feet deep with mechanical drawbridges and filled with crocodiles.
Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad, MHRemote Traveler

Daulatabad Fort was built by Yadava king Bhillama V in 1187 and the  city was then called 'Deogiri', meaning the hill of gods. 

The fortification included a few parts.  Ambarkot was built  for common people. Mahakot area having four distant lines of enclosure walls served the residential area for higher class of the society. The Kalakot was exclusively  the royal residential area with double line of fortifications. During the reigns of different dynasties, additional structures and improvements were made and as a result the fort size grew in size.
Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad, MH. Alamy
Daulatabad Fort AurangabadBest Tourist Places
Mention my be made of such  structures as stepped wells, Kacheri (Court) building, Bharat Mata Temple, Hathi haud, Chand Minar, Aam Khas, Royal Hammam, Chini Mahal, Rang Mahal, Andheri, Baradari, water cisterns and 10 unfinished rock cut caves belonging to the Yadava period. 

Baradari , Daulatabad fort , Aurangabad,MH Alamy
Among  them, Chand Minar with a soaring tower  rising  to a height of approximately 210 ft (64 m) high and 70 ft (21 m) in circumference at the base, is an interesting one.  The four-storied tower was adorned with Persian glazed tiles and carved motif and it was built  in 1447 AD by Ala-ud-din Bahmani to commemorate his capture of the fort. It is believed that Chand Minar was used as a prayer hall  in the earlier times.  Inspired by the Gutb Minar of Delhi. Hasan Gangu built the Chand Minar as a replica of the Delhi tower. 

Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq captured this region and made the city his capital  in 1327 AD and called it Dauladabad 'the abode of wealth'. Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1325-1351), who was more known for his eccentricity than for his military prowess  forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi for two years before it was abandoned for lack of water. Then his capital was shifted back to Delhi. He built a myriad of water canal system and water storage tanks, etc. But, it did not wok well here

The history of this fort is an interesting one changing hands  frequently and it signifies its strategic importance and right location. It is an impenetrable fort, and it is a tough job to get access into the fort.
The fort came under Bahamani rulers under Hasan Gangu in 1347 AD and Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar in 1499 AD. Nizam Shahi dynasty in 1607 AD made it their  capital. The Chini Mahal (literally: China Palace), is in ruin. Once it was  a building of great beauty. In it Abul Hasan Tana Shah, the last of the Qutb Shahi kings of Golconda, was imprisoned by Aurangzeb in 1687. Later it was possessed by  the Moguls, Marathas, Peshwas and finally the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 AD took control and kept it  till India's independence.

How does this fort differ from other forts? What are the advantages this fort has? These moot questions linger the minds of the visiting tourists. The following may be worth to note:

01. There are no separate exits from the fort. It is a sort of box canyon, same way in and same way to get out.  

02. This plan is to confuse the enemie who will be driven deep into the fort and may face danger

03. Absence of parallel gates and this reduces the momentum of the invading army. 

04. Misleading location of the flag mast which is on the left hill will  obviously mislead the enemy who may turn left and get into trouble. In reality, the real gates of the fort are on the right and this will confuse the enemy.

05. Hardened iron spikes fixed on the gate will injure the intoxicated elephants  that were used as a battering ram to break open the gates. The presence of spikes would cause  the elephants to die of injury.

06. Yet another interesting features are the Complex arrangement of entryways, curved walls and  false doors. All these designed  to confuse the enemy inside the fort. The trapped  enemy soldiers will ultimately became a prey to the hungry  crocodiles.

07. The shape of the hill is rendered smooth so that expert mountain climbers can not climb the slippery slope.

08. The outer wall comprising  2.75 miles (4.43 km) in circumference, once enclosed the ancient city of Devagiri and between this and the base of the upper fort are three lines of defences and the enemy soldiers have to break these fortifications to access the summit.

09. The hill itself is  200 meter high. At the summit, and at intervals on the slope, are placed massive old cannons facing out over the surrounding countryside These cannons are designed for wide firing range and a threat to the enemy.

08. Also on the hill at the mid way, there is a cave entrance meant to confuse the enemies.

This fort is worth a visit, as it provides quite hiking opportunities to the tourists.,_Maharashtra

Friday, 16 February 2018

Murder of W.C Rand ICS British India official, Pune 1897

Martyrs, Chapekar-brothers, MaharastrAsia Observer
Statue of Chaphekar Brother's At Chinchwad,en.wikipedia. org
During the early colonial rule under the East India company and later under the Raj after 1857, countless men an women laid their lives to free India from the oppressive and unjust British rule that rendered India, once a rich nation with GDP more than 23 in the 1600s, a poor nation in August 1947 - when the British left the Indian shores. The entire nation owes a debt of gratitude to these freedom fighters who scarified their lives so that the later generation could breathe the  fresh air and enjoy full freedom without any obstacles. Among them there are many unsung heroes who are unknown across India. The Chapekars brothers - three of them hailing from Maharastra belong to this category. In south India, in particular, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, if you mention their names, the people and also school children will blink their eyes and their answer will never come in affirmative. The assassination of high rank British officials in Pune may be worthy of interest to those who are not familiar with  the Chapekars three brothers, who were freedom fighters.    

Towards  the end of 1896, plague  became  an epidemic in Bombay presidency and it affected the people of Bombay  and near by Pune cities. Since the Plague endemic became a menace and began to spread like the summer bush-fire, the then British Raj took serious efforts on a war footing to check the spread of this dreaded disease. The Governor of Bombay instituted "The Plague Committee" under the chairmanship of W.C. Rand an ICS officer, trained in administrative work in a special institution in London  meant for the administrative work in India.  Rand was posted as a Special Officer to take care of Pune, its suburb and the cantonment area. The Governor's order was that steps should be taken seriously with out affecting the sentiments or the religious practices of the Hindu and Muslim communities within the Jurisdiction of Pune city. Governor's order assured the people that female members of the communities would be examined by the women members only.

On 12 March 1897, officers and men – both British and native assumed duty under the command Major Paget of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). As part of their duty they had to visit nook and corner of the city and take the needed steps to put down the spread of the epidemic. In reality, what they did was just opposite of Governor's orders; they sent the male members in certain places. Their inhuman action included: gate-crashing  into private houses, examination of occupants, compulsory stripping of women by males, forced evacuation to hospitals and segregation camps, removing and destroying personal possessions including idols, restrictions on moving out of the city, conducting funeral in marked cremation spots if  death caused by plague,etc. Besides, if the orders are breached the subjects will be liable for prosecution. 

On 19 May 1897, The Committee completed the report on Pune Plague. W.C. Rand in his report to the Governor mentioned that  the total estimated plague mortality was 2091 and further stated:  "It is a matter of great satisfaction to the members of the Plague Committee that no credible complaint that the modesty of a woman had been intentionally insulted was made either to themselves or to the officers under whom the troops worked".

Prior to the presentation of the report  lots of prominent people sent complaints to Rand about the barbaric act by the troops. They fell on the deaf ears of Rand, no action was taken. A distorted report on Poona Plague was prepared. The report contained blatant lies - simply travesty of truth. The truth is the modesty of Hindu women was outraged in public view in the name of controlling the epidemic. There were  reports that two Indian women were raped and one of them committed suicide. It is said blasphemous acts like discarding of Hindu idols in the Puja room and other valuable possessions was done with impunity. The entire Hindu community of Puna was outraged and the accusing fingers were pointed toward Rand. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, wrote to Her Majesty the Queen:   "..............The government should not have entrusted the execution of this order to a suspicious, sullen and tyrannical officer like Rand". In the meantime there were denials and carping comments on the non-cooperation of the community, etc.

The Chapekars brothers, Damodar, Balkrishna and Wasudeo  who settled settled at Chinchawad near Pune from an early age were men of patriotic disposition.  Being staunch Hindus they were quite upset  over the way the religion was subject to humiliation and criticism in the name of reformation. They blamed the British  and their scant respect for the religious  sentiments of the Indian people.  They formed an organization called “the society for the removal of obstacles to the Hindu Religion” under which they imparted military training to  certain people to guard the religion.  The Chapekar brothers had long been watching the British Sahibs and their actions ; disappointment  was writ on their face over their discriminatory attitude towards Indian natives.

In March 1897, the troops' (DLF) under the command Major Paget) drew the curious attention of the Cpapekar brothers  and they became embittered. No sane military troops in the name of plague control would stoop to such a low level and strip the women's clothes in public view and assault their modesty.  For this maniac act by the DLF, they held the peevish and indignant Rand responsible. The brothers got to-gather and decided to do away with Rand at any cost. They also chalked out a plan to kill him publicly with meticulous care. 

An opportunity was offered to them on a silver platter.  According to his autobiography by  Damodar Hari, the brothers preferred the Diamond Jubilee of the coronation of Queen Victoria  in Pune that fell on  22 June 1897.Reason: Damodar Hari believed a lot of Europeans including officials of different ranks would  turn up at the Government House  for the jubilee celebrations; a suitable chance to  kill Rand. The brothers Damodar Hari and Balkrishna Hari selected a spot of Ganeshkhind road (now called Senapati Bapat Road), by side of a yellow bungalow. The vantage spot would give them the needed view  to shoot at Rand. Each of the brothers carried  a sword and a pistol. Balkrishna's kit included  a hatchet as well. They reached Ganeshkhind,  and when they reached  the Government House at 7.00 – 7.30 in the evening, the darkness had already set in.  At the Government House, it was a grand celebration with some interesting events. The security  were not suspicious of their movements with swards and hatchets carried by them; they hid them  for use later under a stone culvert near the bungalow. As finalized by the brothers , Damodar Hari waited at the gate of the Government House, and when Rand's carriage emerged, ran 10 – 15 paces behind it.  When  the carriage reached the yellow bungalow, Damodar made a pre-determined signal  "Gondya ala re"for Balkrishna to take action.The plan was Damodar  would join him soon and both of them would shoot  at Rand to ensure of his death.  Damodar Hari opened  the flap of the carriage, raised it and took a shot. Thing did go as had planned before because Balkrishna Hari lagged behind and Rand's carriage kept going.  Balkrishna Hari became suspicious of the  occupants in the following carriage. Immediately he fired at the  the back head of Lieut. Ayerst, Rand's military escort. Ayerst who was in the  second carriage died on the spot.   As for Rand, he died in the David   Sassoon Hospital on 3 July 1897. Two British officials of high rank  were assassinated  on the same day by the Indian natives for their injustice done to the sentiments of the Indian people. 

Based on information given by the Dravid brothers, Damoder Hari was arrested for the murder of British official.  In his statement, recorded on 8 October 1897, Damodar Hari told the revenge was taken  for the DLF atrocities such as breaking of idols, excess on Indian women, mockery of Indian practices, etc., committed  during search operation to control plague. His statement was good enough foryhe prosecution to move the case  and he was charged under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.  He was hanged to death  on 18 April 1898. Balkrishna Hari, who was at large, was finally betrayed by his friend and was caught in January 1899, The betrayers - Dravid brothers were killed by another brother Vasudeo Hari.  Mahadev Vinayak Ranade and Khando Vishnu Sathe, were arrested  for having shot to death chief constable Rama Pandu later on the same evening of 9 February 1899. The  Chaphekar brothers Balkrishna Hari, Vasudeo Hari, and Ranade, in a trial court, Pune were sentenced to death by hanging; Vasudev Hari: 8 May 1899, Mahadeva Vinayak Ranade: 10 May 1899, Balkrishna Hari :12 May 1899. With respect to Sathe, a juvenile, he was awarded  10 years Rigorous Imprisonment. 

This sensational assassination in  colonial India under the direct Crown administration  drew the attention of the world media  and tacitly showed the darker side of the oppressive and dictatorial rule. Across the Globe, it dented the British image and their continued misrule and exploitation in India and was no way different from the misrule under the East India company rule. 

Gokhale, a patriot and freedom fighter remarked, while on a visit to Britain, that British soldiers "let loose on the town" of Pune were ignorant of Indians' language, customs, and sentiments. Moreover, he claimed – in marked contradiction to Rand's above-quoted statement – to be in possession of reliable reports regarding the rape of two women, one of whom committed suicide rather than live with shame.


01. Damodar Chapekar  was a lawyer by profession and the British Army stationed in Shimla refused to enlist him. He was quite upset about this incident.  Deccani is Damodar's last name and refers to him as such  (The New York Times, dated 4 October 1897).

02. Subsequent trial  mentioned that Damodar was from the Brahmin caste (New York Times dated 4 November 1897).

03. Both articles also gave the information that he was the one who tarred Queen Victoria's statue.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Pune plague 1896-97 and British atrocities

Plague in Bombay 1896 near Pune The Indian Express
The road to India's independence was riddle with a tough one. It was not that India got her freedom without blood-shed and violence. Though Gandhiji chose non-violence and civil dis obedience as a means to free the fetters on India, it did not yield the desired results as we all know. Then and there, in the early 18th and 19th century, violence against the British misrule did raise its ugly head whenever there were lapses in the administration.

 More than a century ago smallpox, plague, typhoid, etc., were dreaded diseases  and the medical technology was  not well developed to handle them well. Nor were there tested medicines to cure them.

As part of the global 3rd plague pandemic  that affected many countries in  1896-97, Pune, Maharastra (then Bombay Presidency) was struck  by bubonic plague. The epidemic was raging  without any remedy in sight. By the end of February 1897, the epidemic was so bad and horrible, the mortality rate jumped far beyond the established norm - almost double the normal rate. In 26 days of February 1897, there  were  657 deaths (0.6% of the city's population). Part of the reason attributed was the natives refused to cooperate. They would rather die from plague than move out of the city like nomadic tribes with their possessions left behind in their home. At last,driven by fear of the epidemic half of the city's population  moved out to safer places. Part of the city, now, became a ghost town.

The British Raj formed a  Special Plague Committee headed by W. C. Rand, an Indian Civil Services officer,  by way of a government order dated 8 March 1897. The purpose was to prevent the spread of the plague epidemic and to eradicate it for good with jurisdiction over Pune city, its suburbs and Pune cantonment. The Bombay Presidency governor's direction  assured the public that no Muslim and high caste Hindu women be examined and no quarters would be entered except by  women. The serious measures were taken by the government for their own good. Orders included respect of caste and religious practices of the people.

Under command of a Major Paget of the Durham Light Infantry on 12 March 1897, 893 officers and men – both British and native – were ordered to go ahead with their  plague duty to deal with an urgent situation, developing in the city. The drastic measures they followed while on duty included the following, in contrast to what the Governor's orders had mentioned, 

01. Forced entry into private houses, 02. Forced stripping and examination of occupants (including women) by British officers in public, 03. Forced evacuation to hospitals and segregation camps, 04. Removal and destruction of  personal possessions. It is said Hindu idolsincluded, 05. Restrictions and prevention of moving out of the city, 06. The occupants of the house or building  were required by the Plague committee to immediately report  to the government about deaths or illness suspected to have been caused by plague, 07. Funerals were declared unlawful, if not, properly registered, 08. The committee had an absolute right to mark special funeral grounds for funeral services to the corpses suspected to have died from plague. Absolutely, people should not use the unmarked funeral ghats in violation of government restrictions. 09. Violation of such emergency measures or disobedience  will subject the offender to criminal prosecution.

Soon after this humiliating and insulting search by the troops under Major Paget, the people of Pune were furious over the oppressive and humiliating measures taken by the British officials in contrary to the Governor's assurance. Chairman Rand remained unmoved, not responding to countless complaints received from various cross sections of the communities. This careless and discriminatory attitude of Rand and other Bobs towards Indian natives made the people more incensed because the  officers were not sensitive to the objections raised by the people.

In the meanwhile, after the plague duty by the troops was over, The Plague committee's deliberations  completed on 19 May 1896. The report pointed out that the total people died from plague was around 2091. Rand on his report to the government expressed his satisfaction and mentioned that the tradition and customs of the people had been given due consideration and there were no complaints about insults to the modesty of Indian women.   
The British India's distorted version of its plague report and their continued denial angered one section of freedom fighters who were disappointed about their being dishonest and lethargic in this serious matter.

Damodar Hari Chapekar (1870-1898), Balkrishna Hari Chapekar (1873-1899, and Vasudeo Hari Chapekar (1879-1899 ), commonly called  Chapekar brothers were Indian freedom fighters. They decided to put and to the British officials who insulted the Indian natives and humiliated their traditions publicly. On 22 June 1897, the Chapekar brothers with two accomplices  assassinated of W. C. Rand, the British plague commissioner of Pune and his escort Liet. Ayerst. On 8 May 1899 after a  court trial, the brothers were hanged to death.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Hindu God of Shiva and His mystic attributes

Mystic Hindu God Shiva. Wallpaper Images
Śhiva, meaning  the auspicious one,  one of the Hindu Trinity Gods, is  the Supreme Being  and creates, protects and brings about transformation (every thing keeps changing) within Shaivism. He is an embodiment of destruction. So, it is obvious he is a multifaceted personality. Among the greatest of the names of Shiva  is Nataraja, King of Dancers or Lord of Dancers, which is  a pan Indian concept, and has found great expression in Tamil Nadu. Unlike the stone images of Nataraja in other states, the bronze  sculpture of Tamil Nadu is  well-known all over the world. It gained popularity during the Chola period. The amazing image of Anandathandavam - the dance of ecstasy has become a cult figure. The patronage of temples by Cholas, the great devotees of Shiva, played a key role in popularizing Nataraja bronze image. 

Shiva's mystic attributes:

.. Shiva is a mystic god who is either formless or having a form.

.. He has an irresistible aura about Him that can not be  resisted.

.. Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe.

 .. He has neither beginning nor ending. Unlike God Vishnu, the Protector,Shiva has not taken any incarnation - avatar. 

.. He  has both  benevolent and fearsome depictions. In his benevolent form he is all-pervading, leading an ascetic life  on one hand and on the other, a Grihastha (house holder) with a wife (consort) - Parvati  and sons Ganesha and Karthikaya (Subramanya).

.. In his fearsome form, he is depicted as slaying fearsome demon. Yes, he annihilates the evil forces as a last resort. Hence,  He is a destroyer and enjoys the cremation ground. But, what does he destroy? He destroys the heaven and earth (Prapanjam) at the close of a world cycle, promoting cataclysmic forces- the endless cosmic cycles of destruction and creation.  He also destroys the fetters that bind each soul. Where does his burning ground exist? it is not a human burning ghat, but it is the place where  the hearts of His lovers  are laid waste and desolate. It is the place where ego is put to flame; where illusion /Maya and deeds are destroyed. It is his Crematorium, not the Mayanam,  meant for the earthly creatures. His wild, but graceful dance, is just awe-inspiring and blissful, signifying the  ever-changing forms of the universe.

.. His contrasted names  bring out the duality of Shiva's fearful and auspicious attributes The name Rudra represents Shiva's fearsome aspects, so is Kala  (time) and Mahakala (great time). the latter implies destruction of everything. Bhairava means fearful or terrible, closely associated with annihilation.

.. The name Śaṇkara ("beneficent") represents His   benign form (the word coined by Adi Sankara).
.. He  is also known as Adiyogi - ( Guru for the Yogis) and is the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts. The concept of Yoga originates from Him.

.. He is transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman.

.. He is a dynamic force, representing cycles of birth and death and relief through Anugraha. He causes the destruction of the earth on one side and is responsible for its creation. His balancing act signifies the universal equilibrium between destructive forces and constructive forces operating on this earth.

.. He has a third eye (on the forehead). It represents knowledge with which he burned the desire to ashes.

.. He wears ashes all over his body symbolic of transient nature of things around us. So, the pursuit of eternal soul and spiritual liberation is essential. Material happiness  loses its luster soon and is transitory.

.. He is, unlike God Vishnu,  is not fond of Alankaram - decoration of flowers and  wearing of expensive jewelry. Being renounced, he leads the life of a sage, protecting his devotees and removing their delusion. To him every thing around him is Maya - ever changing, not a permanent entity.
With a few exceptions, many of His temples are not Prarthana sthalas, lacking pomp and colorful festivals!! He is not the God of wealth, but of Mukthi (salvation - release from the human bondage of commitments in  life, death cycles, sentiments etc.

.. He believes in woman's equality and her place in life. His Arthanareswarar Thatva- half man and half woman confirms this. She is part of the energy that creates and remains his complimentary partner. 

Being Divine, he is a mystic and  embodies nothingness. The cosmos is a vast expanse of  empty space, everything comes from nothing above and gets back to the same space once the cycle is over. The cycle continues. His representation of ether (space) as one of the Pancha Boothas (five elements) at Chidambaram Nataraja temple, Tamil Nadu confirms his all pervading 'nature'.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Mahasivaratri worship - important facts

13 February, 2018 Maha Shivaratri. Twitter
In Hinduism, there are countless festivals dedicated to Gods and Goddesses. Maha Shivaratri is a major, but an ancient  festival and has been around for centuries.  It signifies  "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life by way of paying obeisance to Lord Shiva, a Trinity God in charge of destruction in the Hindu pantheon. According to the Hindu calendar in every lunar month - there is  a Shivaratri on the  13th night/14th day. But the one that falls once a year in late Winter - February/March, (dark half of Phalgun)  before the arrival of Summer, assumes importance and is called  Maha Shivaratri, meaning "the Great Night of Shiva". This year Mahashivaratri is celebrated on 13 February.

The following are interesting facts of Maha Shivaratri festival:

.. Shiva represents Poornathvam (completeness) and Mangalam (auspiciousness) meaning that He blesses his true devotees with everything that is good for them.

.. Shiva's devotees worship Shiva in three ways -  -aruvam (formless), ooruvam (having a form) and Aruvaroovam (lingam - neither a form nor formless). Shiva is commonly being worshiped as Lingam and Maheswara  Moorthis.

.. There are Shiva temples representing certain aspects of his personality. They are called 'Sthalas'  There  are  Sthalas dedicated to five elements (Pancha Boothas), five exotic Thandavas (dances), five Sabhas (mandaps / theaters), Jyothirlingas (in the form of fire / Agni), Mukthi (salvation),etc.

.. On Shivaratri (night of Shiva), Parvathi, consort of Shiva  prays intensely to be with Him. She married Him on this day.

.. On Shivaratri, pujas are held independently at four Jaamams (kaalam /timings)  for the welfare and prosperity of the people.

.. The benefits of Shiva Darshan ( praying to the lord right before him ) are based on the times of  observance: First jaama prayer (7. 30 to 9.30 pm)  will help  cure ailments. Prayer at Somaskandar shrine is good; prayer at second jaamam  (11.00 pm to 12.30 am) will improve wealth, success in business. Worshiping Dakshinamoorthy  is recommended; third jaama  prayer (2.30 t0 3.30 am) will remove sins. It is essential to pray at Lingothbhavar shrine in the sanctum and fourth  jaama prayer (4.30 to 6.30 am) will help get a roof over the head (a place to live with peace of mind and satisfaction). Worship at Chandrasekara shrine in the temple. 

.. During the second Jaamam if devotees undertake Girivalam - going around the Arunachala hill at Thiruvannamali, Tamil Nadu  behind the vast Shiva temple complex is good for the health, self contentment and success in any undertaking. 

.. On this night devotees must  observe the following: 01. Abishekam (anointing - pouring holy water,etc., over the deity) - this will purify the soul, 02. Reverentially marking the shivalingam with kunkumam. This will help the devotees lead a virtuous and right life, without deviating into the dark part of the life, 03. Offering Prasadams (Naivedhyam) to the lord. This will help the devotees success in life and gain longevity and 04. Lighting of an oil lamp. This will not only give the devotees a spiritual orientation and knowledge, but also self contentment in everything.  Further, it unveils our ignorance and understand the transient nature of this universe.

.. A day before Shivaratri is day of Pradosham so, having food only once is good and in the evening  offering prayer to Shiva (Moolavar in the sanctum / Srikovil or Garbagraha) at the temple is normally done.  The whole night should be spent by way of meditating on Shiva or reading stories from Puranas. This will impart right thinking and  chalking out our lives on the right direction with blessing from God.

.. It is said that the devotees on the following day in the early morning, after head-bath, should visit the nearest Shiva temple and  do prayer with devotion and dedication. They should fast the whole day. In the evening visiting the Shiva temple again is a must. Participating in all four Kaala (jaama) pujas at the temple will give them peace of mind,happiness and good for the welfare of the family. Their nagging problems will gradually go away.

.. In the event the devotees are unable to follow the above, participating in the temple prayers  or doing japa is recommended. 

.. Such fasting and meditation on the festival days are conducive to good physical and mental well-being of the devotees. Chanting of  the mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya'  is an important part of Shiva worship.

.. Anointing the Shivalinga is an essential part of Shivaratri because as per the mythology Lord Shiva swallowed the deadly poisonous scum  coming out of serpent Vasuki (during the churning of the sea of milk) by the Devas - celestial  and Assuras - demons. He did it with a view to saving the Devas as the poison was coming  on their side and to prevent Lord Vishnu (in the form of Koorma - Tortoise) from becoming  dark-skinned due to the effects of poison. The lump of poison was held in his throat (hence he is known as Neelakandan). Consequently, with poison within the throat portion,  the body of Shiva was radiating heat.  It is said that anointing the Shivalinga will help reduce the radiation and keep the lord cool.

.. Further, in order to ward off bad effects of the poisonous scum in his throat, the lord must keep himself awake the whole night. So, Shivas' ardent devotees keep him awake from dozing by way of  doing prayers, pujas, etc., throughout the night. 

.. Across India, all Shiva temples will be open the whole night during Shivaratri and the devotes throng them and engage in prayers, etc.

.. Offerings of bael leaves (bilva leaves) are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them.

.. Participation of women in prayers during Shivaratri is essential as Parvati herself leads the prayer for lord's recovery from the effects of poison. 

.. If unmarried girls pray to Shiva on this auspicious occasion, Puranas/ Sastras say, they will  be blessed with  a compatible husband to take care them through out their lives. 

.. Shiva worship has a unique place among the true Hindu followers. Brahma fasted on this auspicious occasion  and got Saraswati as his consort, besides becoming in charge of Creation. As for Vishnu, he received  the Chakraytham (divine  disc) and married Lakshmi. In addition, he was endowed with the responsibility of Protecting all  creatures - both living and non-living things on earth. 

Ref:  Based on several sources.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Murderous Gen. Reginald Dyer' s final days and death - Colonial India

Delhi Durbar. Col Dyer. wikipedia. com
Russian proverb. quotes

Sualci Quotes
Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer CB (9 October 1864 – 23 July 1927) temporary Brigadier General in the British  India Army did something unexpected which other senior British military officials would have shunned to do it. It accelerated the Indian freedom movements on one hand and on the other  it tarnished the image of oppressive British rule in India. It ultimately invited wide spread condemnation from Indian  leaders and world leaders across the globe. Indians  across India  were outraged. The leaders of the Indian National Congress, who had  agreed to work with the British on constitutional reform, now, under Gandhi's leadership opted for civil disobedience. The British government, in the wake of this worst massacre, lost the trust of the Indian freedom fighters.
Amritsar massacre April 1919,
 Reginald Dyer was solely responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar (in the province of Punjab) on 13 April 1909.  Considered "The Butcher of Amritsar, whose premeditated  firing  without warning on a crowd of 20,000 people resulted in the death more than 1000 people, including women and children (official figure by the British was far less). The unexpected British India officials gagged the media  and in England the public got the distorted version that led to the killing. 

Upon his return to Britain in 1920, the Dyers had lived in a dairy farm  near Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire with their son Geoff and had a few friends and travzeled a little.  Because of the censor on his return to Britain his action - the murderous one, was applauded by well-known British people.  It wasn’t just the House of Lords that called Dyer a hero, the unfortunate fact was the famous author  and jungle story writer Rudyard Kipling was in full praise of Dyer. The Hunter Commission (headed by Lord Hunter) came down heavily on Dyer, but  was not highly critical of of him, It held back from outright censure. On the morning of July 8, 1920,  the debate opened in the House of Commons where Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War called Dyer’s actions “monstrous”.

Following the debate, a section of unscrupulous British people who had connection with the British Raj, a group of British ladies and a local conservative Newspaper Morning Post formed a Trust to collect funds  to be awarded to Dyer  for his killing spree in the Bagh (in April,1919) in retaliation  against the Indians  who  severely assaulted  a British woman associated with a mission school in Amritsar.  People from all walks of life, including clergy, the Duke of Westminster and others made contributions.  For the British newspaper it provided an opportunity to increase its popularity. If their  publicity bonanza went well, it would improve their circulation; purely it was a self-centered motive.

When the real picture of the Punjab tragedy leaked out of India by some honest British journalists with gory details, the public and the politicians were appalled by the enormity of the crime committed under Dyer's command  with blessing from Michael O'Dwyer, Governor of Punjab. Dyer was highly criticized in India and across the globe. The Punjab tragedy triggered the downhill fall of the British rule in India with the death bell having been tolled by Gen. Reginald Dyer and his cronies. It put the freedom movement at a fast mode.

Dyer never for once doubted his actions right from the day of his role in the Bagh and  always maintained his “intention to fire if necessary”.  Yet, he changed his version of the story several times. He was not remorseful and stuck to his gun by saying he did his duty as a soldier to save the British Empire from the fall (meaning repeat of 1857 mass Indian rebellion). In the House of Lords, the debate went in favor of Dyer, pointing out that in the face of a rebellious crowd (meaning the rioting occurred a few days prior to the tragedy) Dyer had merely done his job and suggested that he should be honored by the  Government rather than compulsorily retired. 

Dyer's last days.Sommerset Cottage,
This time Dyer and his family  quietly moved into their new home at  Somerset  after a careful search. They wanted to be away from scoop-hungry media, because the debates in parliament, a raging court case and the media-led fund raising campaign had affected their privacy. Dyer and Annie, his wife, had been hounded  since the tragedy at the Bagh six years ago  Already a  broken man with no peace of mind  Dyer was dogged by ill health, severe criticism after Hunter Commission's report, loss of a comfortable job with perks.
Abhinav Agarwal
Dyer’s biographer Nigel Colette  says, “Dyer used the word ‘horrible’ many times. He told the Hunter Committee that it was ‘a horrible act and it took a lot of doing.  After the massacre, Dyer doubted  his own action and expected severe criticism from his superiors.  Upon knowing his superiors' support  he felt secure to face the Hunter Commission with courage. 

On the question of cash award, the Dyers refused to accept ii (28,000.00 pounds) proposed  by the newspaper at a public function.  Annie  might have thought it was detrimental to his mental well-being and it was too early to accept it.  Dyer  spent the last days in the Somerset cottage. Now, diagnosed with a heart disease "arteriosclerosis", any bout of excitement or slight provocation meant it would lead to stroke or, perhaps, hear-attack.  Dyer spent his last days quietly away from public scrutiny. One would see him sitting out in the garden.  A stroke earlier had left him speechless. His self-doubt stayed with him till the end -  July 23, 1927.  The man who erased the precious lives of more than 1000 Indians in a matter of 15  minutes took rest in the Church graveyard after a painful life in the last phase of his life.
Dyer church courtyard: All Saint's churchyard

 Dyer had two funerals - one was held at his Parish church -  All Saint's Church in Long Ashton,  less than a mile from his cottage.  The second being a military funeral held  at St Martin's-in the-Fields in London. Soon after this funeral service, his body was cremated in Golders Green in London. Earlier, his body lay in the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks and was taken in procession through London to a grand funeral service at St Martin-in-the-Fields (probably with the connivance of the reactionary Home Secretary Sir William Johnson-Hicks).

Dyer's military funeral at St Martin's,London.
Dyer's biographer Colette says, “There was no memorial stone made to Dyer and no known resting place for his ashes. Annie destroyed all his papers. She was careful not to leave anything behind. The great-grandchildren today hardly have any effects or photographs or any living memory of Reginald Dyer. Annie wanted the memory to be gradually forgotten. 
Edwin Montague, the Secretary of State for India denied Dyer's honorary rank of Brigadier-General. though Churchill was against that move. Montague knew well this would further cause uproar among the already angered Indian political leaders across the continent. So,Dyer remained just a Colonel for the rest of his life. As of to-day the British government has not apologized to the Indian people for their past lapses during the tragic  event  at the Bagh in 1919. Their long silence  shows their lack of moral turpitude and scant respect for the innocent people who died in pain for no reason whatsoever. In this regard, the Britain's face remains soiled, particularly the the proposal to award Dyer with a cheque (28,000. 00 pounds). This nauseating incident  was amounted to rubbing the salt on the wounded Indian leaders and the natives in the later years. A simple apology or sorry will suffice.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Minto Park, Allahabad - Queen Victoria's proclamation made here!!

Heritage park, Allahabad, UP.SlideShare

Earl of Minto, gov. gen.of Canada & viceroy of India,

Minto Park, located in the southern part of the city of Allahabad along the banks of Yamuna river is one of the most popular tourist attractions in this old city. Now, renamed as  Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Park, after the great Indian patriot, educationist and freedom fighter against British Imperialism, often referred to as Mahamana. He was also the founder of Banarus Hindu University (BHU), a reputed Indian university.  The The park  that came up  on a site close to  Saraswati and Nehru Ghats on  Yamuna Bank Road, is a historical site where  the most important political event took place. It changed the course of British India  history.

On this site lord Canning read out the declaration of Queen Victoria's Proclamation in 1858.  Indian subcontinent came  under the direct control of the British Crown. Till then the East India company had run the subcontinent  since mid 1600s as proxy for the British government. Most of the company officials were corrupt and their administration was oppressive and discriminatory. They took away the lands from the Maharajahs and Nawabs through conceit, coercion  and diabolism. To cap it all, they had scant respect for the religious sentiments of the Muslims and Hindus and criticised their religious traditions and convictions. The simmering hatred toward them ultimately led to Sepoy Mutiny in 1958 that lasted  for more than 2 years, causing death and destruction to properties on both sides. Indians, in thousands, were executed without trials. Equally furious were the  Indian soldiers who, in a fit of rage, killed innocent British, including women and children.. The crown at last interfered and took over the administration from the corrupt and misguided ESI to stop further Chaos. Thus India became an important  British Colony, a cash cow, filling up the coffers of Britain.

 Queen Victoria' Proclamation:

In the wake of bloody  Indian Rebellion (1857), the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act, transferring the rights and administrative authority of the East India Company to the British Crown. 'These governmental changes were announced to the ‘Princes, Chiefs and People of India’ in the form of  the proclamation issued by Queen Victoria 

(1837–1901). Seeking to maintain peace after the Rebellion, the whole message  of the Proclamation was one of generosity and benevolence. It granted ‘the Natives of Our Indian Territories’ the same rights as ‘all Our other Subjects’ and, among other things, promised to support religious toleration, to recognise the ‘Customs of India’, to end racial discrimination and to ensure that ‘all shall alike enjoy the equal impartial protection of the Law’. By recognising Indians as British subjects, and extending to them rights consistent with that status, the Proclamation was widely heralded by Indian subjects, including Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), as their Magna Carta'.

Lord Minto, then  Governor General of India in 1910 laid a foundation stone for this park to commemorate the transfer of power from EIC to the Crown. Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto KG GCIE PC (9 July 1845 – 1 March 1914) was a British aristocrat and politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the eighth since Canadian Confederation (1898 to 1904), and as Viceroy and Governor-General of India, the country's 17th (from 1905 to 1910). In his  memory,  a school from which  Aligarh Muslim University evolved was named after Minto. It is called  Minto Circle  because of his generous funding for construction of  new school buildings.

There is a  white memorial stone in the Minto Park. with our ferocious looking lions. There is also a park named after him in Kolkata.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Wootz steel, India's ancient wonder alloy that revolutionized modern material sciences

Wootz is the anglicized version of Ukku in Kannada Hukku in  Telegu. The Tamil and Malayalam word is Urrukku, meaning hardened steel.  It is a super strong steel and records point out that it was exported from southern states to countries like China, Europe the Arab world and the Middle East centuries ago. Over several centuries, Wootz steel dominated many regions across the world in the past. 
sword made of Wootz steel, madee in India. Tumblr

What is so special about this ancient metal alloy and its popularity? It is a super-high carbon steel exhibiting advanced process  known for such quality as high impact hardness and super plasticity, besides light-weight.  The current steel is no match for this ancient steel made in south India.  Wootz steel invited the attention of no less person than Michael Faraday, an  inventor of electricity and expert in magnetism  who visited  India and studied it for some years (1818-22). He was quite impressed about the high quality of steel made with considerable ease in South India. However, his experiments with various alloys did not give him the desired quality comparable to that of Wootz.

Several European travelers such as Francis Buchanan (1807), Benjamin Heyne (1818) and  H.W Voysey (1832) in the 19th century visited  many places in south India and got the first hand information on the crucible  process of steel. In 1912 Robert Hadfield based on his study of  crucible steel from Sri Lanka observed that Indian wootz steel is far superior to that of the European steel  produced then.

stainless steel tube
In the annals of advanced  modern metallurgy, India's Wootz steel produced in the 18th and 19th centuries occupied a per-eminent position as it was rated as some of the finest in the world with  1.5 to 2% carbon. No doubt it was sought in the Europe and middle eastern countries. It is believed to have been used  to fashion 

Damascus steel.
Above image:  Close-up of an 18th-century Persian-forged Damascus steel sword.  Damascus steel was a type of steel used for making sword blades in the Near East. It is made of  made with wootz steel imported from India. These swords have  distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering, and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. The steel is named after Damascus, the capital city of Syria. During the Middle ages, Damascus steel was produced in India and brought back to Europe. The similarities in the markings  made the Europeans to revive pattern welding in an attempt to duplicate Damascus steel. As the process used by Damascus smiths to produce their blades was lost, recent efforts by metallurgists and blade smiths like  Verhoeven and Pendray did not involve pattern welding...................

the Damascus blades with a watered steel pattern and was widely traded over ancient Europe, China, the Arab countries and the Middle East, cutting across many religions, cultures and landscapes.  Until 1821, a genuine Damascus sword made of wootz steel was not replicated the one with high carbon steel originating from etched crystalline texture.  However, the other type the welded one with iron and steel alloy was widely used by Vikings and Samurai. Studies on wootz indicate the special process that retains  the 1-2% carbon  enhances its usefulness, cutting power and high impact hardness. Some of these  rare special qualities  put Wootz steel, an eastern Technical product of ancient India, under a special category and gave an impetus to the development of  modern metallographic studies.
Wootz steel of India. SlidePlayer
Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Karnataka.
 Above image: The research study  was jointly done by the  scientists and conservationists from Italy and the UK on a single edged sword known as ''shamsheer'' made in India from the Wallace collection, London. Indian rulers,especially Tipu Sultan of Mysore used this kind of sword widely in wars.  A historical sword used by Tipu Sahib, a sworn enemy of  British Bobs  was given to Charles, 4th Duke of Richmond  along with  the Sword Belt  by Sir Arthur Wellesley Esq who defeated the brave Sultan in the decisive battle at Srirangapatna, Karnataka in 1799. Tipu died fighting with a sword in his hand and his famous heavy gold ring engraved with the Hindu God's name RAMA in Devanagari...........................

India's history of steel making goes way back to several centuries.  Cyril Stanley Smith was instrumental in getting world attention about the high quality ancient steel by this writings.  The new field of modern metallurgical  and material sciences relied heavily on the study of  steel in the past few centuries. The Eastern technological product, using the crucible process, gave inspiration to the Scientists in the West to go deep into the material sciences.  In the wake of their reporting of  crucible steel making in south India, many European metal experts took keen interest to study it in depth.   There  are many literary references about the high quality iron and steel from India. Mention may be made of sources from the Mediterranean region, Rome and Greek, etc. ASI finding from Tamil Nadu already found out the existence of crucible steel process long before the Christian Era.This particular type of steel was so popular among the Arabs in those days in the 12th century . The Arab Edrisi mentioned that  the Hindus  mastered the art of iron and steel manufacturing  and that it was impossible to find anything alternative to  Indian steel (Hinduwani).  It was in the Indian workshops, it is reported, where the most famous Sabers in the world were forged. As mentioned above, many European travelers and experts  visited the workshops in Mysore, Malabar, Telangana, etc to get to know the steel process. That in the late 1600s, steel export was a major foreign exchange earner and  Wootz ingots in several thousands were shipped from the Coromandel Coast of India to Persia points out an important fact that its production was on a huge scale for before the Industrial revolution in Europe. In  the 19th century Lahore (Pakistan), Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Gwalior, Tanjore, Mysore, Golconda etc., were the known  centers where daggers and swords were made of wootz steel. Unfortunately, none of them have the traces of old foundries today. Several studies, including the one undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India conclude that crucible steel process has  an ancient history in the Indian subcontinent and the scientific studies also confirm the use of crucible process in ancient Tamil Nadu as 

3rd 4th century BC. Delhi Iron pillar.
Above image:  The iron pillar of Delhi is a 7 m (23 ft) kirti stambha (column of fame or victory column), originally erected and dedicated as dhvaja (banner) to Hindu deity lord Vishnu in 3rd to 4th century CE by king Chandra. It is well-known  for the rust-resistant composition of the metals used in its construction. The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists and materials scientists  The iron pillar stands within the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque..........................

revealed by it high carbon content.  The famous Iron pillar dating back to third or fourth century BC is an excellent example. Despite the time factor, one can not find  any  traces of rust on the Iron pillar.