Indian History Carnival–73:Bodhicaryāvatāra, Carnatic Music, Deccani Paintings, Burmese Ramayana

Burmese painting of the Ramayana
Burmese painting of the Ramayana (via British Library)
  1. Early Tibet has the history of Bodhicaryāvatāra or “Way of the Bodhisattva”, which is one of the most  read texts in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

    Writing much later still, in the 17th century, the Tibetan scholar Tāranātha claimed that there were three versions of the Bodhicaryāvatāra: a version from eastern India in 700 verses, and two different versions from Kashmir and central India in 1,000 verses. Tāranātha then tells a story of two monks being sent to Śāntideva to ask which was the correct version, to which the author replied that it was the one found in central India. The same story is told by Buton in his history of Buddhism. These look very much like post facto justifications that the version already accepted in the Tibetan tradition was indeed the correct version.

  2. Maddy writes about Tanjore and its Carnatic music legacy

    Indian Classical music has its origins attributed to Vedic times and also celestial beings like Narada, but the form familiar today was originally popularized during the 13th and 14th centuries by Purandaradasa (the pitamaha or grandsire), Bhadrachalam Ramadasa and Kshetrayya in the Kannada rajya while a senior contemporary Annamacharya also composed and sang his songs in praise of the Tirumala Lords. The most luminous of the composers and originators of the Carnatic style of music was Pundarika Vittala. The Haridasa bhakti tradition popularized songs sung in praise the celestial and Purandaradasa codified and consolidated it by evolving several graded steps such as sarali, jantai, thattu varisai, alankara and geetham.

  3. BibliOdyssey has images of 19 Deccani paintings compiled in the 19th century CE. These were called the ragamala series since it is a visualization of a musical note or melody.
  4. The British Library has an exhibit of manuscripts from Indonesia, Thailand and Burma. The highlight of the one from Burma is an illustration of the Ramayana.

    It was created at the royal court, where a team of painters served. The paper of this 19th century Burmese folding book of the Ramayana was handmade from mulberry bark. Shown here is the famous scene where Rama is lured away to shoot the golden deer. Meanwhile, his wife Sita is captured by Ravana in the guise of an old hermit, after which he returns to his original form of a fearful ten-headed giant. Dramatic performances of the Ramayana emerged in the Konbaung Period (1752-1885). The king’s minister Myawaddy Mingyi U Sa converted the Ramayana Jataka into a Burmese classical drama and he also composed accompanying music and songs. Ever since, Ramayana performances have been very popular in Burmese culture.

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Indian History Carnival – 39: Aryan Invasion, Carnatic Music, Victorian Holocausts

  1. After attending a lecture on the latest in Harappan excavations, Koenraad Elst writes that there is still no trace of an Aryan invasion.
  2. So, a very simple question would be: did Cameron Petrie, as a field archaeologist fresh from the recentmost excavation, ever come across actual pieces of evidence for an Aryan invasion. He smiled and agreed that he too had no such sensational discovery to announce. So: as of 2011, after many decades of being the official and much-funded hypothesis, the Aryan Invasion Theory has still not been confirmed by even a single piece of archaeological evidence.

  3. Why is there a Malabar Hill in Mumbai? Maddy explains
  4. The original name of the Malabar hill, point area was Shrigundi. The story is described thus: Shri-Gundi is called Malabar Point after the pirates of Dharmapatan (That is near Tellichery – Curious!), Kotta, and Porka on the Malabar Coast, who, at the beginning of British rule in Bombay, used to lie in wait for the northern fleet in the still water in the sea of the north end of Back Bay. The name Shri-Gundi apparently means the Lucky Stone.

  5. In a two part post (1,2)Sriram writes about the German links to Carnatic Music.
  6. Schwartz became poet, guide, philosopher and friend to Sarabhoji. Among the many subjects he taught the avid prince was an appreciation of Western Classical Music. This led to many new influences in the field of Carnatic music as we shall see later. In order that Sarabhoji did not feel lonely, Schwartz brought in Vedanayagam (1772-1864), then a boy of 12, to be the prince’s companion. Vedanayagam came from a devout Christian family of Tirunelveli. In course of time he became a great scholar and was referred to as Sastriar.

  7. In a long post Natalie Bennet writes reviews  Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World by Mike Davis
  8. In my political science studies I’d encountered the theory that underdevelopment was a process, not a “natural” state of being of certain countries but a degradation inflicted on them by force and geopolitical circumstances, but what Davis does in this book is brings that reality vividly, painfully, awfully to life. But what’s more, he debunks many of the traditional claims of the imperialist apologists – that the crises in India and China were Malthusian in original – the product of uncontrolled human reproduction

  9. In his post Anthropometry and Anglo-Indians, Fëanor writes about the anthropometric studies of  20th century Bengal.
  10. As it happens, not all the anthropological conclusions of that 1925 paper are held valid today. Mahalanobis was correct in his assertion that Bengal Brahmins resemble other Bengal castes more than Brahmins elsewhere in India. However, later datasets have invalidated his claim that only the Brahmins among the people of Bengal have admixtures from the Punjab. ‘Moreover, as far as the Anglo-Indian community is concerned, it is now believed that Mahalanobis had probably confined his study to a sample from the upper stratum of the community, and hence his conclusion of resemblance to upper caste Hindus is applicable to the upper class Anglo-Indians only

If you find interesting blog posts on India history, please send it to @gmail or as a tweet to @varnam_blog. The next carnival will be up on April 15th.