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Drawn from the details provided by a Brahmin-turned-amateur-historian, this is a real story that follows two learned men as they traverse India during the 1857 uprising on foot, unearthing history from a new vantage point
As the First War of Independence raged, a Brahmin from Maharashtra, Vishnubhat Godse, on a pilgrimage found himself caught right in the middle of the action. He, along with his uncle Rambhat, went through a series of adventures, including barely escaping hanging.
Upon his return home, Godse wrote it all down in Marathi so that his forthcoming generations could have an idea of how things were during that tumultuous period. "The Walking Brahmin" by Maneesh Madhukar Godbole retells that journey, which is a rare eyewitness account from a common Indian's point-of-view.
Published by Garuda Prakashan decades after the original manuscript, it puts all pieces of the story together with maps and photographs and offers a unique insight into what really happened during the War of 1857.
This tale starts in 1857, as the protagonist duo starts on a 'teertha yatra' from Varsai, a small Maharashtrian village, and walk smack in the middle of the mutinous upheaval of 1857. Having the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, they were caught in the crossfire between the loyalist Indian troops and the British.
Delhi Government under ‘Sipahi Rule of 1857’.Photo by Flickr
Narrativising historical incidents through an Indian lens, such as the fall of Jhansi, they survived the aftermath of British savagery, were robbed of all their belongings multiple times, and even managed to avoid getting hanged twice. Being on the road for over two years, they finally returned to Varsai, which was where Vishnubhat penned down his adventure for his descendants.
"His original manuscript, which ran into 297 pages, comprised two notebooks and twenty-two individual pages. It was eventually published as a Marathi book in 1907, a few years after Vishnubhat's death. This is probably the only known instance of a document that talks about 1857 from an Indian perspective," the Pune-based Godbole said.
"Not only does it give us the story from the perspective of the vanquished, but it is also more reliable as it is a first-hand account of experiences and not based merely on hearsay. Thus, the value of this book, in the annals of history, is quite priceless.
"Vishnubhat's book offered me a unique and authentic insight on how our ancestors lived. What they believed in, the social structure of those times, the hardships, the never-give-up attitude, their fortitude, their beliefs and their ability to even put their lives at risk to fulfill their responsibility," added Godbole, who learnt about this lesser-known story when he was busy writing blogs related to his travel to northeast India and subsequent research.
Sharing his insights on the book, Uday S. Kulkarni, historian and author of "The Extraordinary Epoch of Nanasaheb Peshwa", said that it "gives us a graphic account of the cruelty perpetrated by British forces in cities such as Jhansi, where troops looted and massacred the populace in retaliation for the stiff resistance the city offered the attacking force. It's a short book, which brings alive the times, the dangers, the smell of war and of death...a first-rate historical account of those turbulent times."
Keywords: India, History, Independence, War, Maharashtra.
By- Devakinanda Ji
OṀ MĀNASOPACHĀRAPŨJITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) - MAA-NA-S'O-PA-CHAA-RA-POO-Ji-TA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ मानसोपचारपूजितभूम्यै नमः
(Mānasopachāra: Offering services to God mentally; Pūjita: Being worshipped)
We serve and treat guests nicely when they come to our house. How much gratitude do we have to show and how well should we serve the Almighty who has given us life and the atmosphere sustainable to life? Throughout the history of mankind, human beings have been seeking, whether they know it or not, unalloyed happiness or bliss. Freedom from suffering and attainment of eternal peace and joy, have been the universally acclaimed goals of life.
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From times immemorial, a firm belief in the existence of a Supernatural Being, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, seems to have been ingrained in the very nature of man. By somehow establishing contact with this Being, often called God, one can get whatever one wants in life. This is the conviction resulting from this belief. Hinduism proclaims that this God is both nirākāra and nirguṇa (without any particular form or attributes) while also being sākāra and saguṇa (capable of assuming any form and attributes at will). Performance of rituals, worships, and pūjas is one of the easier means to achieve the purity of mind. However, they should be done meticulously with a proper knowledge of the spirit behind them. If the symbolical meaning and significance of the icon is understood properly, the icon itself will become an actualized form of the ideal. An illustration can make this point more clear. Water can exist in four states: ice, liquid crystal, liquid water, and vapor or steam. In whatever form you use it, still it is water. Once this is acknowledged, the necessity for and the role of rituals on the path of bhakti can easily be recognized and appreciated.
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Worship of God can be either internal or external. Internal worship called mānasa pūja is actually meditation (contemplation) or ritualistic with all the ingredients, but all done mentally. Our ancient sages have thoughtfully developed various steps involved in an actual pūja or worship which can be done externally or mentally (mānasopachāra) with a bhāvana (concept, notion, attitude, idea). They have described panchaupachārās (five services), or daśaupachārās (ten services) - both for daily worship; for occasions śhoḍaśa (sixteen services), or the more elaborate shaḍasachaturdha upachārās (sixty four services). The ingredients are water, sandal paste, flowers, lighted lamp, incense sticks and food-offerings. All these can be done with the mental notion, concept and attitude. When understood properly and performed meticulously, they lead to inner purity and concentration.
The land which offered to the world mental contemplation and meditation as a part of worshipping God is our mother land, 'Mānasopachārapūjita Bhūmi'.
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Indian railway has been serving the country since 1853 without taking breaking, providing the utmost service to people. 168 years later Indian railway has emerged as one of the largest employers for the people with over 14 lakhs employees it has earned the place of the eighth biggest employer of the world.
The first Indian Railways passenger train operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway was flagged from Bori Bunder Bombay to Thane covering a distance of 34 kilometers on April 16th, 1853. The 14-carriage train started from now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal hauling by three steam locomotive- Sindh, Sahib, and Sultan with 400 passengers on boards.
The Indian Railways in India are the largest rail web in Asia and the world's second-largest under one management. The Railway network has held the nation with a population of one billion people together as the lifeline of the nation.
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East India Company laid down the foundation of the Indian Railway
Great Britain was faced with the major cotton crop failure in 1846 in America, which caused the textile merchants at Manchester and Glasgow to seek alternatives in the markets. This crisis brought their attention to the cotton crop produced in India. But the crop was produced in various parts of the sub-continent. With no transportation that could quickly meet the demands in the market British introduced railways in India and laid down the first track in the country.
Britishers felt that with the introduction of a railway in the country organizing and dispersing the growing native population, faster deployment of troops would be better handled by a railway. A few years later in 1845 under the guidance of George T. Clarke, a strong lobby in Bombay supporting railway communication formed a body called the Bombay Great Eastern Railway. Even though this help with the momentum of the project people who were familiar with India's topography and geography, opposed the construction of railways as a "premature and expensive undertaking" and a "hazardous and "dangerous venture".
As of August 1, 1849, the Act to incorporate the Great Indian Peninsula Railway came into beingWikimedia commons
As of August 1, 1849, the Act to incorporate the Great Indian Peninsula Railway came into being. The railway line was referred to as an "Experimental line of Railway" throughout the contract. The construction of railways began and the Bombay railway line was finally ready by November 1852 but it was not until April 16, 1853, that, the first train in India officially was flagged out of the station. The Bombay government declared the day as a public holiday.
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Since then, there has been no looking back. Indian railway expanded in all directions north, south, east, and west. By the end of 1850, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras had signed agreements to prepare trial lines to run inland. Today, the Indian Railways manages the track more than 120,000 km of the country.
Keywords: Railways, India, East India Company, Indian Railway, Railway's history, First Indian train
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.