- If you have not been following the debate on the origins of Hatha Yoga, you can start by reading this and then this. Now kupamanduka looks at the arguments of Dr. Elst, Sarvesh Tiwari and Meera Nanda.
- When she read that it was Asoka’s inscriptions that introduced writing in the Indian sub-continent, Arundhathi decided to investigate.
- Maddy looks at the Hindu colony in ancient Armenia
- S.D., at the Economist blog, writes about the loan words from Farsi, Arabic and Turkish in Hindi and Urdu
- Sunil Deepak has a post on the works of Acharya Chatur Sen (1891-1960)
Before I conclude this section, a word of complaint about historians’ tendencies to attribute ideas that were/are current in India. They make something out of the lack of Hatha Yoga texts dated to before the fourteenth century. Let us keep aside the dating issues for this post. Did it ever occur to them that a similar lack of reference should weaken the case of the Chinese origin theory as well? One should always also take into account that Indians have done a very terrible job of recording their practices and keeping the records alive. Also we should try to acknowledge that some authorship claims can just not be settled, instead of building one conspiracy theory on top of another.
In the Northwest, the inscriptions are in Kharoshthi, Aramaic and Greek. In other parts of his empire, the inscriptions are in Brahmi. Now why would different scripts be used in different parts of the country? Most probably because these scripts were already in use in those regions. If Ashoka was introducing a script for the first time in most of India, why not simply repurpose one of the preexisting scripts such as Kharoshthi instead of going to all the effort of inventing a new one? After all, for people learning a new script, why would it matter whether it was an existing script used elsewhere or a completely new one invented for this very purpose?
But it was not to last, for St.Gregory the Illuminator arrived with his troops, and had the many famous temples of Gisaneh and Demeter razed to the ground, the images broken to pieces whilst the Hindu priests who offered resistance were murdered on the spot, as faithfully chronicled by Zenob who was an eye-witness of the destruction of the Hindu temples and the gods. The Christians believed that the temple of Kissaneh was the “Gate of Hell and Sandaramet, the seat of a multitude of demons. On the site of these two temples at Taron, St.Gregory had a monastery erected where he deposited the relics of St John the Baptist and Athanagineh the martyr which he had brought with him from Ceaseria, and that sacred edifice, which was erected in the year 301 A.D., exists to this day and is known as St.Carapet of Moosh (Mus).
It happens the other way around too. I was once with a Palestinian friend who had recently arrived in Delhi. At one point, in the middle of a characteristically heated exchange with an auto-rickshaw driver over the condition of his meter, she turned to me and said “Is he speaking Arabic half the time? I feel like I understand every fifth word.”
I have read two of his works related to ancient India –
(a) Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu (वैशाली की नगरवधु, The courtesan of Vaishali, first published in 1949 by J. S. Sant Singh and Sons Delhi for Hindi Vishwabharati) about a courtesan called Ambapali during the time of Gautama Buddha, a few centuries before Jesus.
(b) Vayam Rakshamah (वयं रक्षामः, We are Raksha, first published in 1955; from the edition published by Rajpal and Sons, Delhi 2009) about Raavan, the mythological king from Ramayana.
If you find interesting blog posts on India history, please send it to varnam.blog @gmail or as a tweet to @varnam_blog. The next carnival will be up on March 15th.