Bharat Dharshan – A sneak preview of the wonder

Compilation of very interesting snippets that give a glimpse of the wonder called “Bharat” or “India”. Please suggest any interesting ones to be added.

Agriculture

Grapes in India

Archaeology of Sindhu-Sarasvati civilisation proves that grapes were a summer crop of Harappa (2600 BCE). This means that some fake claims giving credit to Mughals for bringing it to India is untrue and evidence of grape pre-dates it by 4000 years. Lokopakaara, a Kannada work written in 1025 CE, gives a recipe using grapes as an ingredient.

Reference: Paper by Rita P. Wright, Reid A. Bryson & Joseph Schuldenrein


Education

Nalanda

In 637 AD, Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited Nalanda university. He saw that it had 10,000 students from all over the world and around 2000 teachers Mahayana, Vedas, Shastras, Sankhya, Medicine, Linguistics, Etymology, Economics, Weaponry and Archery was taught to the students. Most of the teachers were Brahmanas and a good number were Jains. Students were also taught Vedas and sciences.

Mathematics

Magic Square

A 1000 year old magic square called “Chautisa Yantra” at Parshvanath Jain temple in Khajuraho, India. Chautisa means 34 – this magic square sums up to 34. This is also called as jaina square , it is one of the oldest known most perfect magic square found anywhere in world.

Astronomy

Astrolobe

This 14th century Astrolabe (an instrument used to make astronomical measurements) is an exhibit in Geneva museum of science history. Zoom in and see! You can find the Sanskrit script engraved on it! A proof of India’s strong astronomical prowess!!

Metallurgy

Iron Pillar (Vishnu Dhwaja)

The top of Iron pillar in Qutub Minar complex had a Vishnuchakra and probably also a Hindu murti at the top. Its original name was Vishnu Dhwaja, as recorded in the Gupta era inscription on its face. The pillar was a Dhwaja of Vishnu temple.

Iltutmish looted it from the temple, decapitated the object at the top, and placed it as “victory trophy” in the precincts of Quwwatul Islam Mosque (literally meaning “might of Islam” mosque). The Iron pillar is a testimony to high level of skill achieved by ancient Hindu Iron smiths. It has withstood corrosion for 1600 years. One reason why Muslim sultans simply appropriated the pillar instead of destroying it. There could not have made such a pillar.
The reconstruction has been provided by prof. Balasubramaniam, professor of Metallurgical engineering at IIT-Kanpur, who specialises on the Iron pillar.

Medicine

Smallpox Vaccination

efore the British arrived, Indians had an Ayurvedic system of inoculation against smallpox discovered sometime before ACE 1000 (Henderson and Moss 1999). Here one deliberately inoculated, either into the skin or by nasal insufflation, scabs, or pustular material from lesions of patients year-old live smallpox matter was used, and it was very effective. Tikadars would fan out into the country before the smallpox season in the winter.

The British doctor J Z Holwell wrote a book in 1767 describing the system and how it was safe. European medicine did not have any treatment against this disease at that time. From India, the practice spread to China, western Asia, and Africa and finally, in the early eighteenth century, to Europe and North America.

Inoculation against smallpox using cowpox was demonstrated by Edward Jenner in 1798 and it became a part of Western medicine by 1840. No sooner did that happen that the British in India banned the older method of vaccination, without making certain that sufficient number of inoculators in the new technique existed. Smallpox in India became a greater scourge than before.

Source: Rediff.com, Swarajyamag

Plastic Surgery

This is an extremely remarkable picture. This is the picture of world’s first known modern plastic surgery. It is also the picture of world’s first known modern nose job. It was performed by a traditional Indian surgeon named Kumar. The person in this picture was known as Cowasji. He was a Maratha bullock driver. He had been imprisoned by Tipu Sultan and his nose was cut off in prison. His nose was later restored by a traditional Surgeon named Kumar using “ancient Indian methods” in 1794 CE. 

A Britisher named Lucas observed in action the traditional Indian surgery of Cowasji and documented every detail. This picture was a British portrait of Cowasji after Rhinoplasty 1795 CE. At that time, the Europeans lacked the scientific knowledge and expertise needed to perform plastic surgery. They were greatly intrigued by this method and found it was commonly performed in India. They also noted how Susruta samhita describes the procedure of Rhinoplasty in detail.

These details were then accessed by a scientist named Joseph Constantine Carpue. Using these techniques, he performed (Western) world’s first “modern Rhinoplasty” 20 years later. Although Joseph made innovations of his own, he was clearly inspired by the traditional Indian practice and doesn’t fail to acknowledge it in his book.

Nasal reconstructions had been practiced as a relatively routine procedure in India for centuries. The procedures are described in two well-known early Indian medical works, the Suśruta Saṃhitā, thought to date to the middle of the first millennium BCE, and the Aṣṭāṅgahṛdayasaṃhitā, believed to date from the sixth century CE. By the nineteenth century the technique had been handed down through separate families in three different parts of India. Traditional Indian sources recommend that Kumbhakaras (potters) perform the surgery owing to their skill. They performed it till 18th century.

Source: “An account of two successful operations ” by Joseph Constantine Carpue. The relevant quotes excerpted in this post can be found on Page 40.
Image source: https://blogs.bl.uk/science/2016/10/britains-first-nose-job.html

Surgery

This ancient terracotta model from Kaushambi (UP) is earliest archaeological depiction of surgery in India and indeed the earliest depiction of surgery in the whole of Asia. It is dated to 150 CE. It depicts a surgical dissection of male stomach. It is now housed in Allahabad Museum.

Kaushambi is the capital of ancient Vatsa kingdom. According to Ancient Indian epics, Nachiketa was fifth king of Pandava line and a descendant of Abhimanyu. When Hastinapura was washed away by flood, he shifted his capital to Kaushambi. He also brought with him the Chyavana priests, who were worshipers of Ashvins (cf. Adiparva, Mahabharata) and experts in medicine. It is possible that this model owes its origin to Chyavana school (or its descendants).

Image source: Museum of India

Architecture

Pyramids of Ancient India

Bareilly, formerly known as Ahichhatra was mentioned in Mahabharata as capital of Draupada’s kingdom Panchala. It was later conquered by Arjuna and bestowed upon Drona. Drupada had to shift his capital to Kampilya in Southern Panchala. Ahicchatra was described as a great city.

Excavations in Bareilly have uncovered a giant ancient temple in form of a large pyramid. Even the ruin is 22 meters in height and there is a Linga on top. The site is 187 hectares. By comparison, London of Roman era was just 140 hectares.

Pushkarni Step Well

This is the wonderful Pushkarini of Hampi which was built by an engineer named Ranganna in just 2 weeks. Built in the 15th century during the Vijayanagara age, this five level highly symmetric gray stone step well was used by pilgrims during the Mahanavami procession. The Mahanavami festival was due in 2 weeks and the old Pushkarini near Virupakshi temple was no longer serviceable for the devout. The Vijayanagara king sought to find someone who could accomplish this uphill task. Ranganna was up for the task.

According to contemporary descriptions, there was a huge image of Lord Rama facing this Pushkarini until 1565. That image was broken down when Muslim sultans sacked Vijayanagara in 1565 after the battle of Talikota.

The Pushkaranis were symmetrical, either square or joined double square. In the center of these some water tanks was a shrine with a statue. These were public utilities, while bathing facilities and ghat facilities existed on the banks of the Tungabhadra river with several mandapa and shrines. The water tanks had steps to walk down and fetch water. 

Sun Temple Step Well

The massive step well of sun temple, Modhera Gujarat. There are miniature shrines at every level.

Chausath Yogini Temple inspired Indian Parliament


Smart Cities

Flush Toilet

The picture attached is taken from Lothal, ancient India (Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization, Gujarat). This picture shows a group of houses dating 2400 BCE. These houses have world’s earliest indoor flush toilet system. Nowhere else in the world was such an advanced sanitation system in use at such an early date. This much is conceded by all the prominent western Indologists.

Board Games

Chess

This chess board excavated from Lothal, Gujarat is the earliest ever chessboard known to the history of mankind. It belongs to Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization and dates back to 2300 BCE. The board was used to play an early form of Chess.

It belongs to period I of Lothal. Chess was known in Sanskrit literature as “Chaturanga” (literally meaning “four divisions” of Cavalry (knight), Infantry (pawns), Elephantry (bishop) and Chariotry (rook). It was borrowed into Persian as “Shatranj” and thence known to the West and in English as “Chess”.

Reforms

Abolishing Slavery in India

When Shivaji conquered Karnataka in 1677 from Muslim kings, he issued the following order “In the days of Muslim rule,you were allowed to buy and transport slaves. Now I am the master. You can’t buy or transport slaves. My soldiers will catch you. You must follow compulsorily.” That is probably the first record of the ban after introduction of this practice by muslim invaders.

Abolishing Sati in India

The origin of sati can be traced to practice of Jauhar where Hindu women preferred to jump inside fire and commute suicide than be raped and kept in the harems of muslim invaders. Later missionaries used this as a rallying point to demonise Hinduism to enable their conversion.

British along with Ram Mohan Roy tried to claim the credit for banning this practice in 1829. However, much before that, the Peshawas banned it in 1800 and the Hindu Maratha kingdom, Savantwadi banned it in 1821. Shree Swaminarayan (1781-1830) was already agitating or its abolition in Gujarat by the beginning of nineteenth century.

Reference: Sati – Evangelicals, Baptist Missionaries, and the Changing Colonial Discourse” book by Meenaksh Jain


Let’s build something together.


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