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I celebrate my Indian ancestry because India was born in me !
The above-captioned statement is an adaptation of the words of the late Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah. Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, repeated the axiom at the September meeting of CARICOM and African States, by saying: "I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me."
The Indian Diaspora should be inspired by Blacks' affirmation of their race, ancestry and consciousness, and strive to emulate it. Dr. Rowley's public statement of his pride in his race and roots met with no public outcry. We should all have the freedom to do so without criticism from others. He is a leader of a country with a large Indian-origin population. They did not rise up to call him racist or call for an apology.
Yet Indian leaders in Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname cannot speak in like terms without being attacked and called racist. They are afraid to publicly express their pride in themselves and their ancestry.
Africans in the Diaspora are very proactive in fighting for equality and attacking racism by others against themselves, as they rightly should. Yet, they take umbrage when others speak out against racism. Open your mouth about it and you are immediately called racist. I call this type of aggression: "bullyism."
All races stood with the Black Lives Movement (BLM) to protest the injustices against Blacks, myself included as a person of Indian descent. Justice and equality do not come in varying shades, nor is it partial. It is time Black leaders speak up for other races when they are attacked by individuals, institutions and governments.
The world condemned apartheid in South Africa. White American leaders also stood up for justice and freedom for Blacks and marched with them and Martin Luther King. Indians in Uganda were expelled, and recently there was racial violence against Indians in South Africa. Did Black leaders speak out against this? No. Instead, they embraced South African President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa at the CARICOM/Africa meeting in September.
Imagine if the Indo-Presidents of Suriname and Guyana held a summit with India, and both leaders publicly affirmed their pride in their race and their ancestral homeland. What would be the reaction? Imagine President Chandrikapersad "Chan" Santokhi and President Mohamed Irfaan Ali echoing Rowley by saying: "I am not Indian because I was born in India, but because India was born in me." There would surely be an outcry of racism? Where is the sense of fairness? Are there two sets of rules for judgement? Wouldn't this be hypocrisy?
All peoples everywhere should publicly take pride in their race, culture and ancestral land if they so choose. Indians came from a great ancient civilisation and culture. They should be given the freedom to celebrate that. They must not be afraid to say so publicly because of the threat of criticism from others who boldly embrace their own heritage. Dr. Rowley, thank you for your bold statement. Your affirmation and pride in your African race and ancestry mean we can all do the same, hopefully without any outcry.In celebration of my ancestry, I have created a repository to store information about Indo- Caribbean history and culture. Please visit us at INDO CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL on Facebook.
(This article is originally written by Julie Rahra for indo-carribean.com)
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Samudragupta was a ruler of the Gupta Empire of Ancient India. He ruled over the country from 350-375 CE. It was under his rule that Ancient India peaked in all aspects and was came to known as the "Golden age of India". Samudragupta is known to be one of the best rulers of India. He is famous for his versatility and excellence in all fields from art and music to political and military knowledge. The son of King Chandra Gupta I and the Licchavi princess Kumaradevi personified the Indian conception of the hero in every way, shape, and form, he is pictured to be a muscular warrior, a poet, and a musician who displayed "marks of hundreds of wounds received in battle."
Upon his succession, he expanded the Gupta dynasty's boundaries through several conquests and battles. His empire stretched far and wide on the Indian subcontinent only excluding Kashmir, Western Punjab, and Western Rajputana and the region lying south of the Narmada river. From East to West, it spanned from the Brahmaputra River to the Arabian Sea. Samudragupta's conquest strategy was guided by the prevailing political and economic conditions. In the North was known as Digvijay which meant conqueror of the quarters, he conquered and annexed their territories, meanwhile in the south, it was Dharma Vijay which meant righteous conqueror, he defeated the kings but did not annex their territories as long as they give their throne to the empire as a tribune. He defeated the Naga kings of the north and humbled as many as twelve princes in the south. He politically unified India and brought it under his power. He was given the title "Maharajadhiraja" which translates to Kind of Kings. The British historian Vincent Smith who studied the inscriptions of the Allahabad pillar composed by a high-ranking official named Harishena made his comparison to the famous French military general Napoleon. He called Samudragupta "The Napolean of India".
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The British historian Vincent Smith studied the inscriptions of the Allahabad pillar called Samudragupta "The Napolean of India".Wikipedia
Samudra Gupta, being as versatile as he was; was devoted to the arts and music. He had a great love for poetry since he was a highly intellectual person and an accomplished poet. He was a great musician and excelled at playing Vina which is an Indian stringed traditional instrument trembling a lyre with large aplomb. He granted permission to the Sri Lankan king to build a Buddhist monastery and rest house for Sri Lankan pilgrims at Bodhgaya. His Empire led to a revival of art and culture to unprecedented heights. Economic motives of trade and tribute and political motives of fortifying India's frontier against foreign invasion lay far behind his policy of expansionism. It was under Gupta Empire that scholars like Kalidasa and Aryabhatta were given to this world. Samudragupta was a philosopher too. He is described as one who wanted to go deep into the tattvas or the wisdom of the sastras to be worthy of the company of the wise.
He issued a large number of gold coins under his Empire. His coins represent him both as a warrior and a peace-loving artist, with relevant suitable titles. Seven different types of coins were being minted- Standard Type, the Archer Type, the Battle Axe Type, the Aashvamedha Type, the Tiger Slayer Type, the King and Queen Type, and the Lyrist Type. The economic and political policies under his rule made his rule named "Swarn Yug" meaning "The Golden Era". The only flaw of the ruler was that he was an orthodox Hindu and a believer in the Brahminical systems of worship and rituals. But, in the true spirit of Indian tolerance, he was still liberal to all other religions.
ALSO READ: The Heritage of Southern Dynasties
Undoubtedly Samudragupta was one of the greatest monarchs in Indian history. As a soldier, a warrior, a conqueror, a king, an administrator, and a patron of culture, he stands eminent among all the rulers of the country. Some regard him as the greatest emperor of the Gupta dynasty.
Keywords: Samudragupta, Gupta dynasty, Golden era, the great conqueror, art and culture.
Snakes and Ladders, a worldwide popular racing board game that we all have enjoyed playing at some point in our life. In today's version of the game there are a hundred squares on the board with an approximately equal number of snakes that bring you down, and ladders that take you up. The game is based on sheer luck, whoever rolls the dice and reaches the hundredth square first wins. However, the game has lost its meaning and purpose in time, originally, the game was meant to teach Hindu values, morals and ethics to children.
In ancient India, the game snakes and ladder was known as Mokshapat or Moksha Patamu or Parama Padam. Historians claim that the game was invented by Swami Gyandev in the 13th century AD; meanwhile, other opinions state that the game was played as early as during the 2nd century BC. The whole point of the game was to teach Hindu children about Hindu Dharma and values, Dharma and Karma, where the ladders represented the virtues and the morality you show at every point of life whereas the snakes represented the vices and your wrongdoings in life. The game was played with cowrie shells and dice.
Primarily the game had far fewer ladders as compared to the snakes indicating that to walk the path of righteousness and achieve nirvana you must face numerous difficulties and at every point of life you'll have luscious opportunities to please your greed but eventually, it will only trap you in the vicious cycle of rebirth and life. All your good deeds represented as ladder takes you closer to moksha (nirvana) and all your evils lead to you descend only to go through the same cycle all over again.
In the earliest of games, all squares had some deed/meaning, square 12 was faith, 51 was Reliability, 57 was Generosity, 76 was Knowledge, and 78 was Asceticism. These were the squares where ladders were placed. Meanwhile, Square 41 was for Disobedience, 44 for Arrogance, 49 for Vulgarity, 52 for Theft, 58 for Lying, 62 for Drunkenness, 69 for Debt, 84 for Anger, 92 for Greed, 95 for Pride, 73 for Murder and 99 for Lust. These were the squares where the snakes were placed. And lastly, the Square 100 represented Nirvana or Moksha (Salvation).
The squares are illustrated and all squares depicted some meaning either evil or good.Khol Khel
The game was also known as 'Parampadam' personifying a human's life span. Similar to Mokshapat there are a hundred squares on a board, the ladders take you up while the snakes bring you down. The only difference is that the squares are illustrated, the top of the ladder depicts a God or one of the several heavens namely- Kailasa, Vaikuntha, Brahmaloka and so on, while the bottom of the ladder describes a good quality. Hence, the whole climbing a ladder indicated that good quality takes you to heaven. Simultaneously, the snake's head on the board depicted a negative quality or an asura (demon).
As the game advances, the various karma and samsara, good deeds and evil deeds take you up and down the board. Interspersed are plants, people and animals. The game served a dual purpose of entertainment, as well as teaching the dos and don'ts, ethical values and morality, divine rewards and punishments. The final goal i.e. square number 100 leads to Vaikuntha meaning heaven, depicted by Lord Vishnu surrounded by his devotees, or Kailasa with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda, and their devotees.
The game was taken to England in 1892 due to the colonization of India and modified according to Victorian values. Later it was introduced to the US in 1943 under the name "Chutes and Ladder". The modern version of the game is simply called, "Snakes and Ladders" with an almost equalized number of snakes and ladders and serves no moral purpose, now it's a mere game of luck played for entertainment.
Keywords: Snakes and Ladders, Karma, Morals, Virtues, Vices, Vaikuntha, Moksha.
Located near the town of Rajagriha and about 90 kilometres southeast of Pataliputra Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist monastery and university in ancient Magadha (Now Bihar). The university was established within the 5th Century AD during the Gupta empire era. It had been functional from about 427 to 1197 CE. It's been called "one of the primary great universities in recorded history. Few of the buildings under Nalanda University were built by the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka the great which was recorded within the early developments of Buddhist learning. However, it was under the reign of Gupta Ruler Śakrāditya (also referred to as Kumāragupta) who reigned from 415-55 that the university finally flourished. The university complex occupies an area of 14 hectares.
The courses of Nalanda University were mainly dedicated to Buddhist and Hindu sacred and secular studies; nevertheless, it didn't stop the university to excel their students in foreign studies and philosophy, science, astronomy, logic and medicine. Later the scholars indulged in philosophy, metaphysics, Yoga-shastra, the Vedas, Samkhya and other scriptures of Buddhism. thanks to its reputation, vast choice of courses Nalanda attracted scholars from as distant as China, Greece, Persia, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia and various other Asian countries.
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The Library of Nalanda
The library of Nalanda was referred to as Dharma Gunj (Mountain of Truth) or Dharmagañja (Treasury of Truth). Yijing a scholar who resided in Nalanda for 10 years took back large numbers of texts providing evidence for a well-equipped library at the university. Several traditional Tibetan sources have made mentions of the existence of an excellent library at Nalanda named Dharmaganja which comprised three large multi-storeyed buildings, the Ratnasagara (Ocean of Jewels), the Ratnodadhi (Sea of Jewels), and the Ratnaranjaka (Jewel-adorned). Ratnodadhi alone was nine storeys high and housed several sacred manuscripts including the Prajnaparamita Sutra and Guhyasamaja.
The exact number of volumes in the Nalanda library remains unknown, but it's appraised to possess been hundreds of thousands. When a Buddhist scholar at Nalanda died, their manuscripts were added to the library's collections. When the Mughals invaded they set the libraries of Nalanda ablaze which has been reported to possess burned for about three months and more. One can only imagine the worth of data and scriptures that were being burnt right down to crisps and therefore the fact that it burnt for 3 whole months only adds to the incontrovertible truth about the vast libraries of Nalanda.
Nalanda was marked as one of the world's first residential universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students to reside in. made up of red bricks it occupies an area of 14 hectares. At its peak, Nalanda accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, several meditation halls and classrooms. On the campus, it had lakes and parks.
Xuanzang the Tang dynasty Chinese pilgrim left an in-depth account of the university during the 7th century. He described how the regularly laid-out towers, forest of pavilions, harmikas and temples appeared to "soar above the mists within the sky" so that from their cells the monks "might witness the birth of the winds and clouds. He states "An azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the stunning kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade.
ALSO READ: How did "Nalanda" Come About?
The Fall and Discovery
At the end Of the 12th Century India was invaded by Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, the troops destroyed the monasteries, killed several monks, burnt the Grand library of Nalanda and drove the remaining of the monks out of site. The invasion by Bakhtriyar Khaliji was followed by the demise of Nalanda and therefore the decline of Buddhism in India.
About six centuries after Nalanda's decline, the location was first discovered and reported by Sir Francis Buchanan. The site was systematically excavated and consolidated by the Archaeological Survey of India from 1915 to 1937 and again from 1974 to 1982. It became key archaeological evidence of a truly international centre of organized learning. Nalanda was a rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art and architecture. "The Excavated Remains at Nalanda" got included within the Tentative List of World Heritage on 09.01.2009. The known and excavated ruins of Nalanda extend over a region of about 150,000 square meters; however, if Xuanzang's account of Nalanda's extent is compared with present excavations, almost 90% of it remains undiscovered and unexcavated.
In September 2014, Nalanda University opened its doors for the primary batch of students. The campus is anticipated to be finished by the end of 2021.Twitter/nalanda_univ
The former President of Indian Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam raised the thought of reviving the ancient Nalanda University in his address of March 2006 to the Bihar State legislature. Not too long after the Singapore Government approached the govt. of India with the "Nalanda Proposal" which essentially talked about the re-establishment of the international educational institute, Nalanda. The government of Bihar was quick to take action to the visionary idea and consulted with the govt. of India on the way ahead. Other nations like Japan, China, Thailand, Bhutan and several others formed a consortium to fund this international state-of-the-art institution that aims to blend values of the ancient Nalanda University with the contemporary. In 2010, the govt. of India passed the Nalanda University Act to revive the famous university, and a contemporary institute, Nalanda University, at Rajgir. After a gap of nearly eight hundred years on 1st September 2014, the University opened its doors for the primary batch of 15 students. A modern campus spreading over 160 hectares is anticipated to be finished by the end of 2021.